(Bosom) Friend Fridays: Karmen Koehn


When I first moved Denver, I was sleeping on an air mattress in a cold and empty apartment, waking up to the knowledge that my friends were 1,200 miles away, my mom had cancer, and it was -17 degrees outside.

On my very first Sunday night back in January, I found myself at a tiny church where no one talked to me.  This would be an apt time to mention that church-goers (myself included) have a lot to learn about the whole “welcoming” thing – but that is neither here nor there.  The point is, after the service, as everyone was milling around in their little huddles talking to each other, I slowly stood up.  I wrapped my scarf around my neck.  I pulled on my parka.  And I walked outside into the night alone.

“Is this your first time?” came a voice from behind me.

“Yeah,” I answered.

She laughed.  “Well, it’s my fifth – and no one has ever talked to me.”

Neither of us ever went back to that church.  But that’s how I met the fantastic Karmen Koehn.

Karmen is one of those rare, easy souls who makes time together feel effortless – even for this introvert.  The first time that we hung out, I invited her over to share the only two things I had: boxed wine and leftover – leftover – DiGiorno pizza.

She still wanted to be my friend.

With a background in ministry and art, Karmen’s path has taken her all over.  She was raised on a farm in a Mennonite community in Oklahoma.  She went to John Brown University in Arkansas.  She spent 6 years living in an African-American neighborhood in inner-city Chicago.  She worked at a car dealership in Kansas.  Now, she is a full-time graphic designer and marketing guru downtown Denver, finishing up a grad degree, and hanging out with me.

She has been to Australia.  She has hiked a good chunk of the John Muir Trail.  When we went hiking in western Colorado, she scraped up her shin something fierce – and didn’t even cry.  She knows how to throw a football.  Her middle name is Chantall (don’t you think that’s worth mentioning?).  And she makes awesome art like this.

… which our friend Scotty then had tattooed on her arm.

She is amazing, and has been such a life-saver for me here in Denver – a safe friend in a sea of strangers.

See?  Nothing is ever wasted – even unfriendly church-folk*.

*Not an endorsement.



  1. Kylajoyful on July 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    *I* went to JBU! And I’m Mennonite. I like her already. And I think it’s awesome that she went back to that church 5 times, just so she could meet you. Glad you’ve found some awesome friends in Denver!

  2. Deborah Barnett on July 24, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    does she have her artwork online for us to see? I really like that…

  3. amy on July 25, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Hi Annie. Been reading your blog since Becca tweeted the video of her being pulled in the window. Just thought that instead of lurk, I’d say hi, so … hi. Love your blog. You’re funny and wonderful like your sis. :)

  4. rachel on July 25, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    it’s so cute how you met!
    i’m amazed at your luck to attract such fantastic people in brand new places, annie.
    she’s such a sweetheart and a person totally worth knowing.

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