New Writer Welcome: Anna Klos

Please join the COA family in welcoming our newest writer, Anna Klos! Anna’s bio will be available shortly on our About page. Subscribe to COA so you don’t miss her upcoming debut piece Today is Friday, September 1st

How did your artistic parents, the weaver and the painter, influence you Anna?

Anna: Honestly sometimes it was hard drawing the line between creating with my parents and feeling like I was their joint art project when I was growing up. I have seen them experiment across mediums for years: my dad is an architect by trade but an oil painter on the side, but over the past year he and I have started this project where I mail him a piece of writing every once in awhile, a short personal essay or fiction excerpt, and he’ll mail me back a piece of art in response. So he definitely lets himself grow and find new permutations and new nooks and crannies in his psyche to exercise. My mother used to design and weave large scale tapestries. As a baby she would put me in a basket underneath her loom while she designed, and as a little kid I would weave small scale next to her in her studio. Two of the discs in her back ruptured when I was in fifth grade and we thought she would be paralyzed. Fortunately, Germany [unlike America] isn’t trying to constantly shoveling money into pharmaceutical companies so they actually have a very advanced surgery program for people with back injuries. After extensive work, her body was unable to sit and work with looms so she switched back into painting, drawing, and print work. Ultimately seeing my parents struggling and creating their own work taught me to love my solitude and to be hungry for more: more thoughts, more ways to create, more mediums to explore.

Portland is so often the city that draws people to it. What made you leave?

Anna: It’s true that from the outside, Portland seems like an absolute magnet. I loved growing up there, summers were filled with hikes around Mt. Hood with my father or weeks spent at outdoor camps or visits to the farmer’s market or long bike rides and home grown raspberries. Truly though, I watched my neighborhood go through intense gentrification. For the first ten years of my life we were the only white family that lived there. I watched as friends were forced to move away, as blocks and blocks of black families were displaced into farther north neighborhoods. This of course is a nation-wide issue, not specific to the Great Northwest, but Portland also used to be a huge bastion of white supremacy. For awhile it was considered the headquarters of the KKK on the West Coast. So all of these things can exist in one city, and I think sometimes people would like to forget that and focus on how good our coffee and beer culture is [they’re not wrong: Oregon and Washington coffee and beer are superior.] But the biggest reason I knew I had to move is because Oregon is a theater desert, with exception to Ashland. Even with that amazing Shakespeare culture, there’s very little room for experimentation. I studied Dadaism, Absurdism, and the Avant-Gard in undergrad and Chicago called me because we create work here that is truly unique. Nowhere else in this country is making half of the theater art that I see here every week. Portland is nice to visit, but I’m a very loud and messy person and I need a loud and messy city as my backdrop for anything to make sense.

What goes into stage managing?

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the many definitions of “i love you”

1. believing in the unknown

These three words are so small and yet always feel so heavy on my tongue. Sometimes they burn with the subtle intensity of a lighter’s flame and sometimes they’re as sweet as maple syrup. They’ve always revealed so much more than what I wanted people to see.

At a young age, I had already grown comfortable with expressing my emotions under a veil. Childhood crushes plagued my younger years and instilled a thought in my mind that affection was for those pretty girls who could string their words into the most extravagant and gaudy pearl necklaces laced with elegance and effortless flirtation. It’s safe to say that my homemade macaroni bracelets of stuttering and awkward jokes weren’t the sought after bling on the market.

Nights stretched tenfold as I spoon-fed myself episodes of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi so I could learn how sweet this adoration could be.

It was raw, unfiltered, and admittedly filled with unrealistic melodramatic teenage angst, but it was all I knew. They held hands, kissed, and promised to be with each other forever. I could admire that, even through the cold, hard surface of a TV screen.


2. the art of suffering in silence

When I first fell for someone I felt sick to my stomach. Daylight hours were spent in a lucid dream. I was walking along the forearms of Father Time and being constantly bombarded with pictures of his face. Snapshots of his emotional range were present like one of those worksheets you use to explain your pain level to doctors.

My brain shook itself awake, and I was suddenly sitting in my university’s library using an open Psychology textbook as a pillow. His name was scribbled onto the pages.

My hands were shaking  and moist with the unapologetic sweat of nervousness. I was nervous, even though he wasn’t within a ten-mile radius.

But what if he was?

I wasn’t sure, right? He could be nearby and I wouldn’t be the wiser.  

My hands began to shake even harder. His name ran through my head like a mantra that I couldn’t stop internally chanting.


3. unnecessary bliss

I knew voluntarily drowning in the power of infatuation would be both my euphoria and my downfall. But, it’s hard to shake being completely enthralled with another human being. It’s the only time I’ve ever been content with losing control.

I wasn’t sure how he felt. But, what I was sure of was that we were standing on this street corner in the middle of the night with hands locked like two stars merging.

Those three words were like bulls behind my teeth waiting to be set free, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t the right time.

We realized the Metrobus had stopped running and began to walk back to my apartment a mile-ish away.

The city felt as though it existed within its own pregnant pause. Occasionally I’d get distracted by the chatter of a college campus in the distance, but the sound soon faded away.

It was like we didn’t exist.

A flickering sign reading “open” appeared in the distance. It was one of only three 24-hour spots in town. We suddenly realized how hungry we were, and scattered over to the diner to take seats at the first available booth.

As the irreverent crowd of 3 am talked around us, he gave me a look that I had recognized from those off-kilter Degrassi shows that I watched as a kid.

He kissed me as the smell of stagnant maple syrup floated into my nostrils. I ate either pancakes or waffles for breakfast for three months straight.

My mind played on repeat: I love you. I love you. I love you.


4. a spell that stops time

With the day’s worth of Forever 21’s fast fashion and the smell of the mall’s food court lingering on my collar, I had another day of work under my belt. I liked going to work because it was eight hours of my time that I was fully occupied. Eight hours that I wasn’t thinking about why he left.

Since I had just been let out of the belly of the beast, those thoughts began taking shifts within my mind once more. As I walked to the bus stop a block or two away, I checked the bus schedule and realized that they were delayed. It was going to be another 45 slow-as-molasses minutes until it came to my stop.

I sat on the cold bench, plugged my headphones in, and prepared myself to drown in a music playlist.

After a couple of minutes of nodding my head, I felt my phone buzz uncontrollably.

Incredibly, it was a video call from him.

My face became flushed. I was shocked, but not shocked enough to not answer the call.

He looked like no time had passed at all. I, on the other hand, spent my days off counting seconds as they past.

“Hello,” he muttered, fighting a grin from appearing on his face.

I couldn’t even answer back; I just smiled.

I felt all those words lingering behind my teeth once more just waiting to be released. Months of curse words and insults and all those other dark, brooding words stood at attention waiting to be released into the wild.

Meanwhile, those three little words were just sitting in the corner waiting for it all to go down. Then, I released the soldiers.

There was at least fifteen minutes of relentless four-letter words. Tears may or may not have made an appearance.

“I couldn’t believe you could leave me out here while you just left and acted like we never even met and I actually really believed that I really loved you-” The war of words came to a sudden halt. Soldiers stood in mid-air with guns drawn. Swords stood still as the moonlight glimmered upon it.

This wasn’t how I planned this proclamation. You know, it isn’t the thing that you want to say for the first time behind a cloak of tears.

Once I finally mustered the courage to look at him, I noticed that he was smiling. Not a faint one at that, a full ear to ear grin that rivaled clowns.

An air of maple syrup crept into my nose. My hands began sweating. Once more, a soft chant of his name began inside of my mind.