Saturday, May 29, 2010

Clean Up on Aisle Twelve

I'm thinking about updating my blogger profile to read, "My name is Katie, and I single-handedly keep security camera men from falling asleep on the job."

It was the summer after I graduated high school.  Mom and I had gone to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to pick up some stuff for my dorm room.  Among those items, plastic crates.  You know, the ones that serve almost no purpose in real life and shouldn't be found anywhere but in a dorm room.  I had three homemade wooden boxes (that leave purple and turquoise paint everywhere they sit) and opted to buy two plastic ones, too.  They were in a cute display in the breezeway between the two front doors of the store.  I grabbed two, and we kept shopping.

While we were checking out, Mom and I noticed the plastic crates we'd grabbed were less than perfect.  I took them out the door (no, the alarm didn't go off) and went to exchange them.  I set my two crates on the display and began searching for unbroken ones.  Since this was in the entryway, the automatic door opened and closed every time I moved.  Kind of annoying, but not really a big deal except for the fact that one of the crates had been displaced.  When the door opened, it caught the corner of the crate.  When it closed, it pushed the crate further out of place.  Of course, that one misbehaving crate hit the other crates in the display.  Since I kept moving, the door kept opening and closing, and the crates kept flying all over the entryway.  The entire display tumbled onto the floor creating a fire hazard and almost hitting me in the face. 

I wasn't really sure what to do.  I couldn't stop the display from toppling over just like I couldn't stop the door from opening.  I stood there with my arms in the air, triggering the motion sensor yet again.

I looked through the window to my mom and the cashier, both of whom had stopped what they were doing to search out the cause of this racket.  "And we're letting her go to school 900 miles away," I heard Mom say.

I lost a war with a plastic crate display.  A few war wounds, but I lived to tell the tale.  It has been three years and I have still not shown my face in that Bed, Bath, and Beyond again.
<>< Katie

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Home Sweet Home

It's times like this I love being home.

(before dinner)
Dad: Ok, Mom, we've got steaks and hot dogs for dinner.
Katie: I'm eating the steaks.  They're eating the hot dogs.

That was followed by a shockingly normal steak dinner.  We all like our steaks at varying cooking stages from still mooing (that's me) to shoe leather (that's Mom), and Dad never manages to get them onto the right plate.  Chunks of meat the size of the plate fly through our kitchen on steak night.

Dad's in the kitchen putting the uncooked steak in the freezer bag and vacuuming it shut.
Dad: Katie, you want to pump this?
Katie: No, thanks, I only like to pump the wine because it makes a great popping noise when you uncork it. 
(I feel like such a little kid but it seriously entertains me for ten minutes).
Christina: Ooh!  I should learn to say that in Dutch. 
(No one in our house speaks Dutch... nor are we Dutch)
Christina: Yeah!  Mom!  Let's learn Dutch together because that way we can speak in code and no one will understand.
Mom: Since everyone is going away to college and it's just the two of us, we could just speak in English.
Dad: Tina, how's Jake?
Christina: I GOTTA LETTER!
Dad: Laura, how's your Jake?
Laura: He's good.  He says it's hot.
Dad: Katie, how's your Jake?
Katie: I'm the only one in the family who DOESN'T have a Jake.
Dad: You do have a Jake but his name is Chris.
Mom: It's still a four-letter name.
Katie: Last time I counted "Chris" was five letters.

Oh, and there was another conversation that I can't re-type here, but it was inspired by the story I told on Tuesday...

<>< Katie

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bedtime Books

When people call my house requesting a specific babysitter, they normally strike out.  However, since there are three of us, normally someone else is there to pick up the slack.  Somebody called for Laura, but she had a photo shoot, so I was second best.  I'm ok with that.  I had never babysat for this family before, and Laura had.  The kid's mom worked at my high school, and I'd met Cole through day camp, my summer job a few years back.

Cole was pretty well behaved and quite self-sufficient for being five years old.  A couple little problems here and there, but he's five.  Even the best five year old doesn't always drop everything and do what is requested of him (or her) at that exact moment (not even the best twenty year old does that, eh, Mom? :-)).  However, bedtime was a different story. Stall Queen here may have met her match.  "Two more kicks with the soccer ball before we go inside."  "I can't get my socks off because my legs are made of rubber."  "Look, I'm a dummy!"  "That's too much toothpaste."  "No, I don't want to wear those pajamas"... you know, kid stuff.  Yes, I did start counting.  I got to two, and Cole picked a book to read.  I breathed a sigh of relief; I didn't know what I was going to do if I got to three.  No brushing your teeth?

The book Cole picked out was entitled The Human Body, and he flipped through it looking at the pictures and asking questions.  That human biology class I took a few semesters back came in handy in an unanticipated way.  All else fails, I could just read the words next to the drawings.  "That's the ribcage; it's this part of your body."  "That's a tooth and there are four different kinds."  "The smallest bone in the body is in the ear."  Piece of cake!  Until we flipped to the last page.  When he first turned the page, I was thrilled because it meant the book was almost done and it would be lights out.  Except then I remembered what publishers keep on the last page of human body books just to torment unsuspecting babysitters.  Yup, as that dawned on me Cole's little fingers slammed down on a drawing showing the differences between boys and girls.

"What's that?"
I lied.  I said I didn't know.
Problem: this five year old can read.
"What's 'protection' mean?"

If I'd have been thinking on the spot I could have explained the word in a different context, but the only word that was coming into my head was "condom."  Sorry, Cole, not gonna happen.  Instead, I changed the subject and said it was time for bed.  It was true, and I like to think it I did it in an inconspicuous way; he'd been stalling long enough.  I'll be honest, I have no problem with the anatomy subject.  Yes, I can say those words without giggling.  Just a few months ago I taught a female friend infinitely more than she ever wants to know about male anatomy using my own drawings, textbook diagrams, and webmd.  Not a problem. Also not a conversation I'm having with the five year old who had ten minutes earlier asked me to leave his room so he could put on his pajamas.  That is not in my job description.  Since I think he asked more out of a desire to stall than he did out of a need to know, I didn't even go for the "Ask Mom and Dad."  The last thing I wanted was to invoke a, "Daddy, Miss Katie said..."  Frankly, I don't think that's a conversation a five year old needs to have and definitely not with a babysitter.

I took the book away before he had the opportunity to read any more words and said it was bedtime.  Cole really was just stalling.  We moved on to something I'm a little more comfortable with: bedtime prayers.  "Now I lay me... and thanks for helping Miss Katie dodge a bullet."

Thoughts?  Similar stories?

<>< Katie

PS: In an earlier conversation, Cole told me that with his principal's permission his school's mascot could eat my school's mascot.  Thanks a lot.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wrong Number

It's Friday morning (ok, early afternoon).  I'm sitting in the den blogging with my feet above the desktop keyboard to where I have to reach around my knees to type.  No one else understands how I do it but to me it's surprisingly comfortable.  My sister Laura's in the kitchen eating breakfast, something I should do any minute.  The house phone rings.  Yes, we have a landline.  I pick up the waterproof yellow phone in front of me to check the caller-id.  I don't recognize it, so I set the phone down.  Since I only live here part-time no one calls me on this number.  Even when I lived here full-time every single phone conversation went something like this:
Katie: Hello?
Caller: Hey, Sarah, it's Somebody Random who just keeps talking until I have to cut her off.
Katie: This isn't Sarah.  Hold on, let me find her for you.
Caller: Oh, sorry, Laura.
Katie: Not Laura either.
Caller: Wow!  Christina you sound so grown up.
Katie: Keep guessing.
Caller: Freddy?
Yeah.  I don't answer the phone anymore because apparently I sound like a man...  Besides, if it's not for me, why answer the phone?  To take a message?  We have this cool machine that does that for us.

I hear Laura in the kitchen also pick up the phone and check the caller-id.  She must recognize the name because she answers the phone.
Laura: Hello?
Woman: Who is this?!
Laura: Laura.
Woman: Oh. Sorry. Wrong number.  Bye.
Laura: Bye.

She hangs up and bursts out laughing.  "The woman spazzed when a female answers the phone!  It was so funny."

After chastising her for saying her name to a stranger (In my mind the appropriate answer is, "You called me; who is this?") we had a good laugh at this stranger's wrong number.  Maybe it's because I'm a writer that I want to know what her thoughts were when Laura answered the phone.  Was she calling home to check on a husband she suspects is cheating?  Was she expecting a young child to answer (or not answer) the phone?  Is she just a freak-out lady?

We laugh, and I return to my blogging.

<>< Katie

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Deep thoughts from Bejeweled Blitz

I am officially addicted to Bejeweled Blitz again.  It's a facebook game my mom introduced me to over Christmas break.  I intentionally never downloaded it onto my page because I knew I'd get addicted.  Instead, I was forced to play on hers meaning I needed her to log me in.  Yes, my mother was my enabler.  Over spring break, I discovered her password and no longer needed her assistance to Blitz.  However, I still had some self-control since it wasn't on my page.  As soon as the semester was over, I downloaded the stupid game to my page and have been playing daily since.

If you're not familiar with this addicting game, an 8 by 8 box fills with jewels.  You've got a minute to flip them around one at a time to make lines of three jewels that are the same color.  Once three of the same color are together, they disappear.  If you get four, three disappear and the fourth turns into a flaming jewel.  Line the flaming jewel up with two more and all of the surrounding jewels explode.  There are other features, too, but I want to focus on the flaming jewel.

Since you've only got a minute, I'm always planning a few moves ahead of where I'm flipping.  Sometimes that means a flaming jewel appears and my moves disappear before I get there.  Of course, you get points for this in the game, but sometimes it's annoying.  Sometimes there are so many explosions you kind of sit there staring at the screen like, "When is it my turn to play?"

As I'm wasting hours one minute at a time I'm thinking about life.  A year from now I'll graduate college and I have no idea what I'm doing next.  That terrifies me.  Three years of college down and I still don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life.  Ok, well, I want to write, but what's the career path for that?  I haven't figured that out yet.  Right now I don't even know if I'm going to grad school (where?  to study what?) or going right into the workforce (in this economy?  doing what?).  I'm not tied to any part of the country but there are two states I call home.  I don't have any idea what I'm doing after I graduate, but as this year progresses I'll make plans for my future.  I'm a planner; this is what I do.

Maybe, like the jewels, my plans will explode and something else will replace them.  A lot of times, when the jewels change, better moves appear.  As my plans explode and change, maybe better opportunities will surface. 

I hate all of these unknowns and unexpected changes.  However, I realize I am not alone.  There's a whole facebook support group for those of us facing Blitz addictions.  And there's countless college students pensive about their futures.

I think Nikki said it best a few weeks ago when she said, "I'd just love for God to send me my MASH in the mail and be done with it."  Unfortunately, that letter hasn't come yet, so here I am still pondering and wondering as I flip jewels around and waste my life one minute at a time.

More so than normal, this post was written for my own mulling more than it was for anyone else.  If you were able to follow it and learned something, wonderful!  If not, I'm sorry you wasted your time.  Oh, and please don't tell me I have a year to figure out what I'm doing with the rest of my life.  I might smack you.  Fair warning.

<>< Katie

Friday, May 21, 2010

An Afternoon at Starbucks

A few weeks ago I confided in you all that I have this secret goal to one day become a coffee shop-dwelling writer.  I talked about how my first shot at that goal didn't go so well since I chose a small, local coffee shop where professors hold office hours and my friends dwell.  I didn't give up, and on Wednesday I took a second stab at that goal.

"Hey, do you guys know of any good coffee shops in the area?" I asked after an enlightening, entertaining lunch discussing world politics and the best way to remove snot from one's nose (yes, really).

"Come over to church and use our coffee shop; that's why we have it," Bob suggested.  Then he laughed, "No, you wouldn't get any work done; you'd just talk."  I pretended to be mad at him, but we both knew it was the truth.

"Barnes and Noble has a coffee shop.  As does Borders," Jessica provided.  No good.  I'd spend more than the $3 I had in my wallet.

"Or there's a Starbucks across the street," Emily offered.

I was looking for a small, local coffee shop, but Starbucks would have to do.  I ventured across the street, walked into Starbucks with my purple purse, purple computer bag, and purple tumbler, and took a seat at the first table I saw with an outlet.  There I sat.  My water warm (it sat in the car during lunch).  My coffee cold (I only bought it so I didn't feel like I was loitering).  My battery dead (it was fine Monday, but by Tuesday it wouldn't hold a charge).  My pen sticky, my notebook out, and my inspiration missing.  I had been afraid of that.  I wasn't too worried.  I had plenty of stories to write.  Since the novel's hit a stand-still I've explored short stories.  As I've sure you've all noticed, I don't do "short" but, boy, do I love "stories."  If none of those would suffice, I had plenty of old material to play with.  I've never written "Major Parking Lot Incident" or I could tell the stories behind some of the weird items I'm finding as I clean my bedroom.  That wasn't necessary.  I did several hours of "picking" and POV focusing before finally calling it a day.

One thing I started in March was what I think I'm going to call the "inspiration box"  (Unless someone else has a more clever title). Anytime I read a good prompt, quote, exercise, or idea it goes in a gold box I saved from this past Christmas.  Most of these come from a writer's blog but some come from class and others from others.  I'd love to hear, how do you find inspiration?  What do you write when words don't come?  Also, can you work in a coffee shop or do you spend too much time people watching?  I've had that problem, too.

Oh, and how about a quick quote from Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

"And as I worked on the novel, as my character did what he wanted and ruined my story, it reminded me of life in certain ways.  I mean, as I sat there in my office feeling like God making my worlds, and as my characters fought to have their way, their senseless, selfish ways of nonstory, I could identify with them... I was also that character, fighting God and I could see God sitting at His computer, staring blankly at His screen as I asked Him to write in some money and some sex and some comfort." (Pg 85-86)

<>< Katie

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is this normal?

I've got a not-so-rare genetic disease.  I got it from my mom.  My sisters have it, too, but theirs isn't as severe.

When I was home in March, we couldn't park Maxwell (my dad's car) in the garage because there were new windows there.  They couldn't put the new windows in until the wood floor on the first floor was refinished.  They couldn't refinish the floor until they (a) decided on a color (b) sanded down all of the footboards in the entire house and refinished those with three coats of varnish.  Yes, my mother on her hands and knees sanding the upstairs bathroom (with linoleum floor and no windows) is getting us one step closer to a refinished wood floor and replaced windows.  Two months later, the windows are still in the garage.  This is our disease: the inability to complete one project before moving on to the next.

My arrival home spurred a big episode...
My task: unpack the cars and fit everything into my bedroom or under the ping pong table downstairs.  The living room make be borrowed but only until Laura's graduation party in late June.

Step One: clean the bedroom
This means all of the papers previously heaped neatly in the corner under the window are now sorted in piles and scattered across the room.  Before finding homes for all of these "important documents" I moved on to step two.

Step Two: Operation Bookshelf
My family's notorious for trying to fit too much furniture in a single room.  Right now, that room is my bedroom.  It's already full with a matching bedroom set, I've added two white CD cases, and now a Dad-made bookshelf.  Problem: there is no wall space for the bookshelf.  I began sorting and piling next to the door to find a space for said bookshelf, thus adding to the mountains of paper sorted neatly all over the room.  I also entertian the idea of rearranging every piece of furniture in my bedroom in order to accomodate said bookshelf.  However, I then remember Mom and I have no upper body strength and Dad's not allowed to lift anything heavy.  He's never been one for the rules, so I don't dare tempt him.  Time to move on to step three.

Step Three: You have a window seat?
Well, a windowseat for the cats.  It's so full of stuff animals that sometimes I'm working in my room for a solid five minutes before I realize one of my stuff animals is moving... hello, Cow (our holstein kitty whose name is really Sparkle).  All of the stuff animals have been sorted into two piles: keep, donate.  Donate pile moves to Mom and Dad's bedroom.  Keep pile stays on my bed.  Long-term they go into a plastic tub I have in the basement, but, go figure, it's on the bottom of the stack of tubs.  Dad's still not allowed to lift anything heavy.

Step Four: Put photos in picture frames
You've had those picture frames for years; maybe it's time you put something in them.  Go downstairs to the computer with a printer and search for the perfect photos.  While you're waiting for the page to load, waste no time and blog a little bit.  Make sure to read Kevin's hilarious blog about the humbling experience that was dislocating his shoulder.  (Yes, Mr. "Katie, you update too much" forgot about his blog for a month... at least I'm loyal to my readers)

Step Five: Dad wants his car back
Translation: get your dorm room out of Maxwell.  Freshman year, my dorm room lived in the living room all summer.  Last year, it was almost a month before I unpacked my car (named Andy).  We'll see what happens this year.

Step Six: Bedtime.
Oh, snap.  I have a bed?  And a safe fire escape for the middle of the night?  Let's put these papers into a nice pile under the window, the stuff animals can live on the windowseat, and the bookshelf can chill in the middle of the room.  What a successful day!  :-)

Do you have this disease too?  To my knowledge there is no known cure.  However, books have be written about this horrible condition.  They are entitled: If You Give a Moose a Muffin and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  Check them out at your local library, don't forget to put gas in your car and pick up cheese at the grocery store on the way there.

<>< Katie

Monday, May 17, 2010


Sunday morning Pastor Russ spoke about the "communion of saints" line in the Apostle's Creed.  (Baptist readers: please don't condemn me because I go to a creedal church...).  One of the things he mentioned was that Christian life is like breathing.  Going to church (physically) is breathing in.  Going out into the world and being the church is breathing out.  You need both.  You can't just breathe in and you can't just breathe out.  There needs to be a balance between the two.  I completely agree.

Later he said something else I'd never really thought about before.  He called parents volunteers.  He supported that idea by saying they've volunteered their time and gas money to get their children to and from activities.  They coordinate carpool, snacks, and game schedules... They're the volunteers that get the least amount of credit.  Sunday night I got to see that idea in action.

There's a group of middle school girls currently a part of our confirmation class.  As a class they sponsor me through an adopt a college kid ministry.  Basically this means they send me packages periodically, I send them cards, and I visit them when I'm in town.  I'm in town, so Sunday night I paid them a visit.

In case you've never spent time with eight 7th grade girls: they are crazy.  To top it off, this was their end of the year party, so we had a chocolate fountain in class.  BIG MESS, BIG MESS!

Yes, there was chocolate everywhere.  As we were cleaning it up, I asked the leader how she was going to go about cleaning it.  She explained she'd used the same fountain with her son's Sunday School class that morning, and she just let it sit in the sink all afternoon.  Here I was thinking about how I never wanted to clean a chocolate fountain and she did it twice... today.

After the girls left, she was telling me some of their stories.  Mind you, this is a middle class, primarily-white, suburban church.  Well, a lot of the students in her group came from single parent/ divorced homes.  Most of them weren't just a "it is what it is" situation but rather there was baggage.  A "Mom died six days after she was told she had two months to live" story.  A "Dad's got a girlfriend abroad and spends most of his time there but also has primary custody of the kids."  The ones that have two parents have heart-breaking stories, too.  "Her brother died in the military."  "Mom had the primary income, but then she lost her job, so they're living on Dad's part-time salary."

On the surface, these are average middle school girls who enjoy chocolate a bit too much, spend all summer in the swimming pool, and can't wait to go to camp.  When you look a little deeper, they've all got stories that will break your heart.

"I'm just trying to make a difference," the leader said.  She explained most of them are not in church other than confirmation class, so she struggles to find the balance between fun and teaching about God.  "This may be their only opportunity to hear His word; that's a big responsibility on me," she explained, maybe not orally, but I heard it.  "I've been trying so hard to reach this one girl, and I just can't seem to get through."

I told her I'd pray for her.  And I did.  All the way home.  Those girls' stories tug on my heart-strings, and that woman's obedience to God's call and willingness to do what's right.  She's an everyday, unsung hero.  She's the kind of woman I want to be when I grow up, even if it means I have to clean a chocolate fountain twice in one day.  As soon as I wrote that sentence, a little voice in my head said, "Why wait?"  Why wait to be obedient and willing to volunteer your time, energy, and gas?  So I ask you, why wait?

But this blog isn't about you and me.  It's about this the volunteering that often goes unnoticed.

Parents, thank you for volunteering your time and making a difference, not just in the lives of your youngsters but also in the lives of their friends.  With your kids, you can see your impact.  With their friends, it's hard to see the fruits of your labor, but they're ripening.  Somewhere.

<>< Katie

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thoughts from the Bathroom

After six exams, eight hours of packing, and a 13 hour drive I am home for the summer! This means time to re-establish home life with the family. One of our biggest places of contention is the bathroom. It makes sense: I have two sisters. It's also why my parents put two sinks in our bathroom when we built the house. When I'm at school it works well: two girls, two sinks. When I come home, the drama begins as we re-establish the pecking order, I mean bathroom organization.

When it comes to bathroom time, I'm pretty low maintenance: brush my tooth, pop in the contacts, lotion, comb the now-short hair, done. My sisters...not so much. I asked Dad to "handle the situation upstairs," and he didn't know what I was talking about until I showed him our bathroom. I then went to find a shovel to help him get his chin off of the floor. He went downstairs and told my sisters to get some of their "crap" off the counter.

"What crap?" my sisters responded innocently.

"Make-up, bottles, cords, I don't know... girl stuff."

It was their turn to use the shovel. I also think the stuff was levitating because there was no counter visible. The shower was just as bad. Between the two of them there were: fourteen bottles, four loofas, and three razors. I just don't understand.

After they moved their "crap" (and I evicted Mom's "overgrown toothbrush mold" of a decor) I was able to move-in. I opened my drawer and found four open bottles of contact solution. I practically drink the stuff, so I don't have any idea how I managed to get four open bottles (one from home, one from school, one from Dad, and one from some trip? I don't really know), but I do know I won't be needing to buy anymore this week. No promises on next week, though. As I was sorting through the surplus of hotel lotion, unused orthodontia rubber bands, and old contacts God got my attention.

Every August I get new contacts whether I need them or not. Most years it's a not. This means I have an ever-growing stack of out-dated, old prescription contacts that I don't know what to do with. Every August Mom tells me to keep wearing the old contacts to use them up and start the new ones in September. It's a great plan since "your eyes will never be closer to what they were than they are right now" (does that make sense?). Besides, normally I don't know how bad my prescription is until I get the new one. Flaw in the plan: when you go to the eye doctor they fit you for new contacts and you have to prove you know how to put them in. I've been wearing contacts everyday for the last six years, but sure you can teach me how to insert them into my eye... Yes, I'm a fast learner. Anyway. Once you put in the new contacts you instantly realize how much of the world you've been missing. There is no going back to the old prescription once you've tried the new.

You don't realize how messed up your life is until God starts fixing it. But, like with the contacts, once you've seen the new way there's no going back to how life used to be. Like the hymn says, "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back; no turning back." Once you've allowed Him to work in your life there should be no holding back, no pulling away. No turning back.

<>< Katie

Friday, May 14, 2010

Finals Week

I'm kind of on a roll spilling secrets this week, so we're going to go with one more: I love exam week.

1. Boing, Boing, Boing
There is this unwritten rule against throwing bouncy balls inside the apartment.  I grew up in a house with a strictly-enforced "no throwing balls in the house" rule, but apparently Andy didn't.  It's not unusual to find bouncy balls whipped at you from across the room.  Well, over the last semester these bouncy balls have disappeared into dark crevices of life.  Since we're actively moving out, they've been reappearing and flipped into full action.  Boing, boing, boing.

2. Out to Dinner
I rode an hour with my adoptive family to have dinner with my parents.  It was weird to arrive with someone else, eat with those people and my parents, and leave with someone else.  Just to paint the picture for you: my dad is shy, naive, and quiet.  So is Ruth.  Dr. Z is a strange bird, and Mom is Sarah Palin.  Yes, I think we were the waitress's favorite table that day.  Well, we were her only table for awhile because we scared away the rest of the guests... Oops.  By the end of dinner she'd challenged my dad to go trout fishing in the lake and offered to play frisbee with Malachi in the parking lot.  On the ride back, we tried to use the words "indefatigable" and "perspicacity" in normal conversation.  Bonus points if you could get them both into a single sentence.

3. How did this happen?
Allyson and I use two separate bathrooms, so how we met outside one to do this I'm still not sure.  I had my "gooked" electric toothbrush in my right hand held high above my head.  In my left I held Allyson's left wrist.  In her right hand she had an open bottle of listerine.  Realizing how silly we looked we burst out laughing and couldn't figure out what we were doing.  Something about Allyson wanting to turn on my toothbrush and spray toothpaste all over the apartment...

4. Breakfast of Champions
The incentive to walk to the caf to eat breakfast before an exam is virtually non-existent.  Luckily, we also have to use up our points and eat all of the bizarre food we've accumulated throughout the semester.  Nikki ate a re-heated hot dog, chips, and old cheese dip.  Allyson ate some chocolate cake with her whipped cream.  Chris, an hour away and unaware of our creativity, had a peanut butter sandwich.  I feel lame for eating an apple and peanut butter (by clutching the jar of peanut butter between my knees); I really don't like apples.

Allyson's taking a conducting class right now, so her baton is waving as she prepares.  Carrie borrowed said baton and turned it into a Harry Potter wand.  My favorite part is when she speaks into the end of the wand so that it can hear her better.  :-)

6. (in the middle of a class discussion exam)
Dr. T: Alex Haley and Malcolm X co-write the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and they both have "X" in their name.  Isn't that weird?
Katie: What do you have against people that have "X"es in their names?
Dr. T: Nothing... it's just... Saxon has an "X," too, and you're sitting next to each other.
Katie: It was the "X" factor that drew us together on this side of the room.
Dr. T: My middle name is "X."
Katie: Are you lying to me?
Dr. T: It's Xavier.
Katie: You are lying to me.
The rest of the class kind of stared at us.

7. Redecorating?
Nikki: Remember that one time our phones used the same charger?
Katie: Remember that one time you asked to borrow my phone charger and I said no because you licked me?
I do remember that one time when Nikki stole my phone charger and replaced all of the photos on my bulletin board with Kleenexes... Thanks.

8. Why is Cornhole in our apartment?  (aka Bean Bag Toss)
I really don't know, but we played.  Who says Cornhole's an outdoor game?  We played in the living room with one person standing on the Platonic Love Seat and the other standing one of the arm chairs.  I'm better inside than out.

9. Four Hour Exams
It started innocently enough at 6pm.  By 6:30 our class of eight was seated around Dr. Paul's dining room table eating summer chili, chocolate-covered pretzels, and (get this!) fresh strawberries.  By 7:15 we were having a living room discussion of the Christology of William Paul Young as found in his book, The Shack.  By 8, we'd looked up the Wii Fit.  For the next two hours we pondered how "Grandaddy" was born in 1975, is 5'7", and weighs 107 pounds... Either way, he looks great while juggling, hula hooping, and flying in a chicken suit!

10. Moving
This is my least favorite part of spring exam week: studying and packing at the same time.  Some of my stuff goes to storage; some of my stuff goes home.  Friday means 14 hours of driving, three cars and two drivers.  Wait.  Switch that.  I guess I'm not indefatigable.  By the time you're reading this, we've probably gotten a little giggly in the car.  After retelling our favorite stories we'll start playing word games.  Dad's a "numbers guy" so he loves writing sentences like "Tiny Tim tinkled in the timbers" or "Blue birch-bark burn on Bob's bum."  Mom's a little bit better.  :-)

Bon voyage and bueno suerte,

<>< Katie

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Earlier this semester I read a blog about a little boy with burns that reminded me of my own burn story. The resonance hit me hard and after two days of dwelling finally I decided to take my own classic advice and "write about it."  I've written about it a million times before, but it was time to do it again and a little differently.

On the first day of my Human Biology class the professor said, "This is the non-science majors class.  I realize all of you are only here because you have to be.  You're not science people and that's ok, but for me to remember that I'm going to think of you all as my father.  My father was a poet.  In my brain, you are all poets."

I remember thinking to myself, I'm not a poet, but I am closer to a poet than a scientist. 

I'm still not a poet, but I wrote a poem explaining why I once told Andy I'm allergic to fire.

<>< Katie

She ran her fingers over
discolored imperfections on her forearms
before pulling down her sleeves to hide
the scars of a clumsy childhood.

She didn’t remember
tripping over the pesky shoelace,
the metal safety rim bruising her leg.
But all too well she remembered
failing to choke back the tears
as smoldering coals gripped her forearms,

the firm grasp on the back of her shirt,
her rescuer, her mother,
dragging her to the a perfectly-placed water pump,
as if it had been awaiting her misfortune.

She remembered the
pain as her skin burned,
embarrassment of her own misstep,
fear and unknown in the Emergency Room
the doctor poking incessantly asking if she felt it.
Yes. It hurt.

She remembered the rules
no pool, no sun.
A bird was told not to fly.
She tried to argue but
her voice had vanished,
the verdict not negotiable.

She remembered
summer lasting an eternity
bandages over both arms,
trying in vain to dry one hand,
always refusing to explain why.

Years later the bandages are gone,
but the scars remain like
she tanned while wearing fishnets,
even if only for her to see
and still she avoids explaining.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Reading Day

Little secret: I am not athletic.  Sometimes if I'm by myself I walk so fast that I'm winded by the time I get where I'm going, but that's the closest I ever get to running.  Sports are not my strength.  I played basketball in 5th grade and I got really good at catching the ball...with my nose.  I spent enough nights at the eye doctor getting my glasses fixed that I realized the WMBA was not in my future.  Fathers are supposed to teach their daughters how to throw and catch; somehow I missed that lesson.  In seventh grade I took up tennis because I had a weapon against the ball.  It wasn't long before I figured out my strongest spot on the tennis court was at the net because there's minimal running involved in a volley.  I played for six years but then I graduated high school and now the most exercise I get is ten minutes on the Wii Fit.  Knowing this about myself, I don't know why I ever thought this was a good idea.

Classes were cancelled on Friday, so we hosted our biannual kickball game.  Last year the English department started a new tradition where we play kickball once a semester.  For a year we played teams that basically boiled down to English Education vs. English Writing.  Well, then the science department got jealous and in a cowardly way challenged us to kickball, calling themselves the superior department.  If they were so superior I don't know why they needed to bring the math department with them in order to beat us but whatever.  They won this past fall, and Friday was our opportunity to earn our ball back.

We had more players than they did, so some of our players didn't get to play in the field.  Elizabeth and I took ones for the team and just kicked and cheered.  My first two kicks I was out before making it to first base.  My third kick I made it all the way to second but we already had two outs and the play at the first made three.  My fourth kick I managed to eventually get all the way home scoring a point for the good guys.  English won 16-12!

Sometime in the two minutes between when I got back to my apartment and when I was planning on getting in the shower, Chris called. 
"Come play ultimate frisbee!"
Little known fact, it was one of my secret goals before graduating to play ultimate frisbee.  It's kind of our school's favorite game, so I didn't think it would be right for me to graduate without playing.  Even though I have one more year I figured now was as good a time as ever; plus, I was already sweaty.  Oh, and still fighting this cold, minor detail.

"I'm not very good at frisbee," I told Chris.
"That's ok; I am," he said.  Between the two of us we could be two average players.
I held my own and even touched the frisbee a few times.  I didn't score, but Hannah (the girl I was guarding) didn't score either... except the first one which didn't count because it was part of warm ups.  I really did enjoy myself and the "Oh, my gosh, I'm so out of shape and thirsty" feeling that I had for an hour.  But I lived.

After getting cleaned up and eating Japanese for dinner, a few of us went to see a movie.  It was 8:00 and I could have gone to be (mind you, I hadn't yet been awake for 12 hours that day).  I almost made it all the way through the movie, too, but in the last ten minutes I made a mad-dash from the theater.  Since I'm pretty prone to bloody noses, no one really thought anything of it.  Nope, it's going to be a long time before I eat Japanese food again.  :-(  Other than for those few minutes, I feel fine; it's weird.  Whatever.  Although, more than that I'm more upset my no-puking streak has to start over at just shy of three years.  Before that random stomach bug in the middle of July (who the heck gets sick in July?  The kids I babysat...) it had been six and a half years.  That's still my record.  Oh, well.  One day I will break it!

Happy Reading Day, Katie... next year you should stick to reading on Reading Day.

<>< Katie

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bees are Bad

It's apparently teacher's week.  My mother is a teacher.
It's apparently my mother's birthday.  My mother was born on Mother's Day.
It's apparently Mother's Day.  I love my mother.  And my godmother.  And my grandmothers.  And my adoptive mothers. And...

We should be doing something super fun and girly like getting manicures and celebrating them.  But we're not.  In fact, I don't think my mom is seeing any of her daughters on Mother's Day.

I could write something super sappy to go with the super sappy card and maybe send some flowers to... the car?  As I write this my parents are driving across the country to pick me up from another year of school.  I'm fervently studying for finals (can't you tell?) instead of packing to move home again.  Maybe a funny story would be better.

A couple of years ago my mom was planting bushes in our garden.  She jumped on the shovel and it went into the ground really easily.  When she pulled it out, she realized why: it was a bees nest.  Suddenly, bees began to swarm out of the ground around her.  She said it was like a cartoon as she ran across the yard trying to figure out what to do.  She couldn't go inside or they would infest our house.  She couldn't keep running forever.  Luckily, we have a pool.  Mentally she searched herself to see if she was wearing anything that wasn't water proof as she flung open the pool gate.  She pitched her gardening gloves onto the sidewalk as she slid into the pool under the cover.  It's an in-ground pool where the stairs don't have a cover but the rest of the pool does, so she made sure her head stayed underwater above the stairs but the rest of her body was under the pool cover.  She said she could see the bees swarming above where she was and eventually they went away.  When she finally poked her head out she saw Dad and my sister get in the car and drive away, oblivious to the backyard brouhaha and the fact that my fully-clothed mother was in the closed pool.  When all of the bees were gone, she got out of the pool and walked to the back of the house.  In the most pitiful voice she could muster she rang the intercom, "Will someone please bring me a towel?"

I did as I was told and Mom wrapped herself up the towel and pouted on the deck.  (My mom looks like Sarah Palin if you want to put an image of this in your head).  Of course, I laughed at her before finding some Benadryl for her bee stings since she had to stay outside.  The rule in our house is that after swimming you can't go inside until you don't leave a "butt print" anymore.  In other words, if you sit down on the deck, does your swimsuit make the deck wet?  Well, Mom was going to have a butt print for a very long time.  While we were waiting, the phone rang and we recognized the number as Dad's cell.

Mom [pitiful voice]: Bees are bad.
Dad: Tornados are worse; get in the basement.
Mom [looking around at the sunny, clear sky]: Now?
Dad: No, next week Wednesday.  Go!

Thanks to a tornado somewhere else in the county Mom broke her own "butt print" rule, and we were banished to the basement instead of enjoying our beautiful, sunny day outside.

I love you, Mom.

<>< Katie

PS: While we were picking out cards, Jo mentioned it's also nurse's week.  I think she just wanted us to buy her a card.  But my godmother is a nurse, so I suppose I could buy her a card.  Happy nurse's week, too!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

She's Nuts

I appreciate Neal.
I don't always appreciate it when he sticks his finger into my earreprimands me in my dreamsgives me weird directions, or throws his dead skin cells in my face.  But all in all, I appreciate Neal for everything he does.

The other day I was complaining about doing my devotion and reading the wrong passage.  I'd read seven chapters in 1 Kings instead of four chapters in 2 Kings.  Oops.  Since he's our campus minister, I was really expecting him to call me out on the fact that I was complaining about reading the Word of God.  Sometimes Nealio doesn't respond the way I expect (see the dead skin cells blog).

"You know how to get through those long Old Testament passages, right?  Walk around, reading aloud, and act them out."

Neal's one of those people that if he gives me advice or a direct command, I should probably listen.  Neal says "Jump;" I say, "How high?"  Thus, I'm going to give it a try.  So, if I'm walking around talking to myself: don't panic; I'm just doing my devotion.

"But don't do this with Song of Solomon," he added.  Thanks.

Are you willing to look silly and try it with me?
<>< Katie

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Spin Cycle

I have two plastic bracelets on my right wrist as reminders of my busy, fantastic weekend. One glows in the dark. It was my admission ticket to a school dance and it now represents how badly Chris and I* stunk up the dance floor on Saturday. We concluded school dances were invented just to make people uncomfortable. I thought maybe it was just me but, no, it's not, it's the whole thing. If you don’t have a date: what do you do? If you do have a date: where to you put your hands, where do you look? Either way: why are those people making babies in public?

"Something wet just hit me in the face."
"It was either sweat or spit, take your pick. Ohh! Or urine. Can you see what color it was? Maybe it was blood."

My other plastic bracelet is hot pink, a much better dancing experience. Matthew, Hillary, Chris, and I went to a music festival on Sunday and spent a couple hours in the afternoon contra dancing, square dancing, and waltzing. Let me just put out there that I have never been so sticky and sweaty in my life, and I didn't know it could get this hot, much less in May.

I was very nervous about this since I'd never been contra dancing before. A lot of my friends talk about wearing flowing skirts and taking Dramamine before they go. Well, I was in jeans and there was no Dramamine in my personal pharmacy. I also had no idea what I was doing but I knew my hand was going to have to go onto the shoulders of sweaty strangers. Yuck!

Lucky for me, the first couple we were partnered with knew what they were doing. In contra dancing, there are two people important to you: your partner (Chris) and your neighbor (changes). My first neighbor showed me how to swing correctly. His last instruction was, "and look me in the eye." Excuse me, sir, but you are forty years my elder and six inches from my face. Looking you in the eye is not very high on my priority list today, sorry. I did it and it was awkward.

When I started writing this blog, I was going to muse aloud about the awkwardness of eye contact, when it's socially acceptable, when it's done poorly, etc. I was also going to ponder why it's acceptable to make eye contact while contra dancing but not ok while slow dancing.

Well, I figured out that one. On the plywood make-shift dance floor I quickly learned why I must face the awkwardness and look my neighbor in the eye: if you don't, you are going to get dizzy, but when your eyes are locked with the other person the world around you is spinning but you are focused on one place. I began to loathe the people who refused to make eye contact with me. Staring at his ear is not quite as effective.

The hardest part is coming out of the swing because, well, the room's still spinning and you are not. In one the dances we did you swing your neighbor then swing your partner. Finding my partner and swinging again without falling over was quite a challenge sometimes. That cannot be healthy, and, boy, am I out of shape.

On the last swing of the day, an elderly gentleman swung me, we locked eyes, and I felt like I was flying. Somehow, we even found the breath to exchange hellos. Like all good things that, too, came to an end and it was time to find Chris. Lucky for me, his arm was around my waist and I was flying again before I felt drunk. When the song was over, I stood there with my arms out trying to regain balance but I'd do it again. Every sweaty man I had to touch was worth those two swings.

When we locked eyes and began to move, nothing else mattered. The barn spun behind us but our eyes remained stable (no pun intended). The music continued but we were stopped in a single moment of time.
That's how God wants to dance with you: lock eyes and push out the spinning world. Maybe that's not possible in a literal fashion but can't you focus on Him amidst the brouhaha of everyday life? Let Him lead and never take your eyes off of Him.

Oh, and please don't contra dance on a cruise ship. You really might fall.

<>< Katie

*Nope, still not facebook official so shhh or I’m not blogging about him again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I walked away from my desk and something white on my chair caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a piece of paper, but when I picked it up I instantly recognized it as one of the words from our fridge.  We have those "create-a-sentence" words stuck all over our fridge.  With three English majors living here I thought they'd get used more but they really don't.  For a long time our fridge has read:
Jesus drinks wine.  Amen.
Cry when you give blood.
Sister rejoice and embrace hope.
One red fish.
I chuckled to myself as I picked up the magnet pondering how on earth it got to my desk chair, but then I read it: PEACE.  I wanted to pocket it rather than returning it to the fridge.

At the end of the semester, peace is in short supply and high demand.  Even though I still have another year, every day is a day closer to graduation and I have no idea what I'm going after that.  Every wedding invitation I receive in the mail leaves me pensive about my own someday.  That all is if I live through the rest of this semester.  Two more weeks of papers, presentations, and finals before a 16-hour drive home that makes me leap back into my homelife at full speed.  Will I be healthy by then or is this not a cold?  What internship will I be doing this summer?  How will that go?  Will my horse with the Kentucky Derby?

Big questions + little questions = lots of questions

But ultimately, it doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter who put the peace piece on my desk either because it was a God-send and I needed it.

<>< Katie