Category Archives: miscellaneous

Nashville, Here I…

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I am wearing a wool hat in my bedroom. This is not a complaint, just an observation.

I have dreaded going out to the chickens for about 3.6 weeks, and today was no exception. I keep shoveling a path and the snow STILL manages to get in my boots. The girls squawk and run around in circles because they’ve been cooped up in the henhouse for nearly a month. The snow is higher than the mini door to the run, and at this point, it’ll be another two months before they see the outdoors. I give them apples and scraps to compensate. They glare at me.

I got a text (a text!) from the airline that my flight to Nashville has been cancelled. They’ve graciously (graciously!) put me on a flight to Nashville on Wednesday, but that only gives us 1.5 days for way more than 1.5 hassle…we shall see. K and I are waiting a little longer to decide how to make the most of this very unwelcome change of events.

I have brewed more tea and coffee this month than the rest of the winter combined.

I’m wearing out my new Christmas slippers.

If I don’t go to Nashville for break, does that mean I have to do grad school homework instead?

[N.B. I love snow. Even yesterday, waking up to the fourth storm in a row, I was glad. Then I drove home slowly and steadily and slipperily and was still glad.]

He asked what I did last Valentine’s Day as we watched the icy snow slant sideways through the light of the street lamps. I had no idea. It’s not really a day I’ve marked in, oh, ever.

[Just looked it up: was on my way to Italy with our school trip. Not a bad way to celebrate.]

This just in: not going to Nashville.

Not renting a car for the first time. Not dancing along Music Row.

Where does that leave me in this ice-snow winter?

Wondering how best to paint NYC red.

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[I’m sure we can dance just as well in New York, and it turns out Nashville is barely any warmer than home.]

[I may or may not be wearing my newly knit hat – it kinda fits in with the hipster vibe of Williamsburg, right?]

I wake up…

…and want to sleep in.

And wish I didn’t have to go to work.

And long for spring.

And get annoyed when we run out of cream for my coffee.

And hope the sun is out.

And hate getting dressed because I’m just so bored with my clothes.

I wake up and pray that God would give me a good day.

I wake up in America.

I wonder what their prayers are.

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Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

True confession:

I’m not much of a Valentine’s Day gal.

I know, I know, you’re rolling your eyes because, really, isn’t this all about not liking Valentine’s Day when you’re single, Cath?

But there was such a thing as Valentine’s Day before this, 2014.

I remember being in kindergarten and making silly little Disney Valentines for everyone in my class. I painstakingly signed my name, and then we walked around the room and slipped them into the respective white paper bags with huge red letters: Ryan, Jen, Michelle. I remember sifting through my stash and really only noticing the ones with those red heart lollipops with weird white words on them.

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And then I think of my mom’s amazing heart-shaped sugar cookies with raspberry jam in the middle, how she bakes them every year and sprinkles confectioner sugar on top. And I wonder how many I can consume in one day before it becomes uncouth.

Then there was the one Valentine’s that I had a boyfriend, and I was lavished with flowers (snuck in by my roommate), breakfast at my favorite restaurant (where we got Breakfast Monster sandwiches and far too much dark roast coffee), followed by a long day of our favorite things. I remember his mom saying, “Honey, you set the bar too high!”. That’s probably why we broke up – he couldn’t handle the pressure of recreating such a huge event.

But really, Valentine’s Day just doesn’t do it for me.

I’m not particularly fond of pink or red or purple; I’m more of an ocean-colors girl.

I don’t love cheap Russell Stover chocolates (sorry if you do! embrace our differences!), and I certainly don’t like the feeling that you’re telling me you love me because the ads on TV reminded you.

I’m also not one for those terrible-tasting dusty hearts with the weird sayings.

Here’s a sampling:

cool cat     ~     puppy love     ~     crazy 4 u     ~     dream team     ~     fit for love (I’m sorry, what?!)     ~     home run (again, oh my gosh)     ~     book club (?)     ~     dress up (ummm, jerk!)     ~
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I could keep going. But I won’t.

And even though I love flowers because they’re beautiful, I can’t get over the wilting, the drooping, the stench of the water, or the unceremonious way they get shoved into the trash roughly 3.5 days later than they should be.

Now, if you were thinking of sending me some delightful token to remind me you care, please don’t consider this a warning not to. I want you to. I want to get a card in the mail or a text or a sweet phone call.

I guess all I’m saying is that, kind of like when I wrote about not being as romantic as perhaps I should be, there are some things that feel more natural to me.

And saying I love you because I can’t help it (and not because Hallmark said it for me) is one of those things.

A Midwestern Wedding

I am a selfish woman.

I like to have most of what I want, and I like to have it now.

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The few days after a wedding, there aren’t many things I can think about except that wedding. I tell people all about the dresses and the music and the food, and I wish in a little part of me that I could live it again.

My Good Things was postponed because I was making my way back from Columbus, Ohio. Another friend got married and one day turned into a weekend and a 13-hour-each-way drive and a reunion.

[It was when she raised her eyebrows at me, smiling, that I caught a glimpse of the real her. We were in the second row – a whole line of college friends – but it wasn’t until I saw those upturned eyebrows and grin that I thought, There she is.]

~     ~     ~

I worry that I will be forgotten. I live day to day, doing my thing in this small town, and I wonder how long it will take for these friends to forget. How many earnest conversations on dorm room beds does it take to be remembered? How many secrets whispered (or giggled) does it take to burn me into someone’s memory? How many coffees, rides in the bug, walks on the beach, trips to the city, or tears that both embarrass me and liberate me does it take to leave a print?

That is the selfishness I’m talking about. I watched my beautiful friend in all her honest joy, and I felt a tug of sadness.

I am no longer part of this.

I do not run into her in the hall, running down the hill, rushing to class, singing goofy songs in my too-small apartment.

I know her great worth, but I do not get to have that shine on me like I used to.

It was an honor to be invited, to witness their vows and their love in a way that living across the world doesn’t allow me to.

It was an honor – and a good time to remember that we can love deeply over great distances.

Just because we don’t share our days anymore doesn’t make the ones we did share any less real.

[I wrote a poem about her my senior year. About how she ate almonds while she talked in English class, how her rings flashed when she talked. I wrote about her, I think, because I knew our friendship was going to change, and I had no control and that had to be okay with me.]

~     ~     ~

They broke the bread and drank the cup, he pronounced them husband and wife (to which she yelled, “Yes!”), and they danced and shimmied around in a circle. We sent them off with sky lanterns and laughter and a tinge of sadness because Italy is far away.

It isn’t about whether or not I am part of it. It is about the fact that it is, and it is beautiful.

Night Fishing

I hadn’t been night fishing since I was nine or ten. I’d fallen asleep in the middle of our 14-footer, and I remember waking up to the bright stars spread out wide around us, my father at the motor behind me, my uncle’s cigarette lit up at the bow. What were we fishing for? I don’t know, but I remember feeling like a rebel – out past my bedtime, the dark ocean engulfing us in our smallness.

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We went night fishing again this Sunday, leaving as the rain started pelting huge white drops on the pavement. “It’ll let up,” Dad said, even though of course he had no idea.

We followed him anyway.

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Down to the marina, across the wobbly dock, into the boat my grandpa bought in the ’80s. The floor’s starting to give-way, but we cruised out of the channel, me in a backwards Red Sox cap to both contain my hair and make me feel like I was actually fishing.

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There are things that overwhelm you. The ocean is almost always one of those things for me.

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And sometimes, you want to talk about that overwhelmed feeling. Your girl friends sit across from you and plumb the depths of your mind and soul. They ask questions and you question yourself and you hope that no innocent bystander is listening to your crazy.

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And other times you don’t want to talk about it at all.

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Sometimes being on the boat with your dad and your brother is the perfect place to be quiet and thoughtful and melancholy and not be asked why. And a backwards Red Sox cap is exactly what you should be wearing.

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[We caught a fish at the same time, not big enough to keep but big enough to sore my shoulder and bruise my rib where the rod was sticking – I am tender. The fins were sharp but stripers don’t bite, and I was proud.]

IMG_1626 [We got home at 10:00pm and I fell asleep, exhausted. Grandpa would’ve been proud.]

Good Things #10: Surprise Chances

I am sitting in the lunchroom of my Alma Mater. Refrigerators are buzzing, a handful of workers are prepping for lunch, but otherwise, I am alone with contemplative music and the inevitable lesson plans stretching out before me.

I never planned on working here. It fell into my lap (or my inbox, if we’re being technical), and before I knew it I had this amazing opportunity to teach English to roughly 30 international students. I was excited and scared and had that typical OH-MY-GOSH feeling which seems to accompany a lot of what I do. I would say that feeling has subsided a little, after a day and a half of orientation and collaboration with other teachers. I would say that – and it would be a little true.

I don’t know quite what to think about being on this campus again. It’s in an entirely different capacity (What? I am teaching? It’s hard enough being professional during the schoolyear!), and I’m loving getting to know my co-teacher and the others who will be working with me.

[Accents are crazy, by the way. Midwesterners are so easygoing, at the least the ones I’m meeting, and they say all the city-names wrong. There’s also a South African on our teaching team, and I am finding it hard to suppress my desire to just sit back and bask in his voice.]

We had a welcome night, and I looked around at roughly 100 Asian faces and it reminded me of attending the Global Young Leadership Conference in high school (that’s where the photo’s from…of course, I was taking the picture…). That was one of the most formative experiences of my life (not least because I was sixteen in Washington, DC and New York City for the first time, and all the accompanying catastrophes occurred). That is what stretches before these students, only in a completely foreign country. I could feel their skins shivering with excitement.

It all starts Monday morning at 8:00. I will walk into the classroom with confidence (or the air of it) and a crazy hectic three weeks will begin. I didn’t think I’d get the chance to be here again – the place I learned how to read a poem without wanting to hurl the book at the wall – and I certainly never thought I’d get the chance to teach in its classrooms.

Here’s something for your listening pleasure. Loving this.

{Notes from Salzburg}

[Barnes and Noble is my hangout. My jam. My Place To Be. While enjoying a dirty chai {yes, I enjoy placing that order}, I remembered an old blogpost I wrote when I was studying in Austria. Only my family and maybe two of my friends ever read it – my mom was just glad I wasn’t dead, I think. Anyway, here’s one of my favorites. Susie, this one’s for you.]

{Big Bugs}

One of the most interesting parts of this cross-cultural experience has been the realization that, while things are very different, they are also very much the same. People are people. Deep. But seriously, there are families here who live like we do at home.

There are young adults who are full of life and excited about the future. There are lonely old men who sit at Cafe Tomaselli and drink coffee, watching the young people who are full of life.

Things are are a lot like they are at home. Including the fact that huge hornets fly into bedrooms and scare silly girls into screaming.

Last night, Susanna and I stayed up late talking and laughing. It was after midnight, and there’s such a thing as “quiet hours” in Salzburg (that’s right, college students, they exist in the real world apart from finals time…), so we closed all our doors but forgot to close the windows. We were talking about girly things and making each other giggle, when suddenly the largest bug I’ve ever seen buzzed into our room, hitting the ceiling and making Susie jump down from the bunk bed and huddle next to me on the floor. I try not to swear, but I’m telling you, this thing could sting the life right out of me, and we both couldn’t contain ourselves. I’m not even scared of bugs, usually, but what can you do?

Austrian bugs are flippin’ huge.

So I climbed up on to the top bunk and tried to swat it with one of our towels. I hit it, but what’s a swat to a mutant stinging insect? It buzzed right at my face, and I screamed. I was pretty embarrassed that a bug made me scream, but Susie said with determination: “Alright, it’s time to wake the boys.”

Now I am not one for running to a male in a time like this – what can a boy do that I can’t? If it’s gonna sting me, it’s gonna sting him – but I didn’t know what else to do. We weighed our options: Tom wouldn’t wake up, he’s like a log. Jon would wake up, but probably be pretty angry at us and never let us forget it. We decided on Andrew, the outdoorsman, the boy who likes to save people.

Susie knocked on his door, but he wasn’t in there (immediately after our frantic knock, his roommate replied, “Andrew’s not in here. Don’t come in.”). I went back to our room while Susanna went to find Andrew, and I’d had enough. Liz, our friend from the Finland, said, “No one has ever seen a bug that big! I want to make a picture!” And instead of helping me, proceeded to take pictures of the huge deadly bug.

I grabbed the towel again and stealthily tested the hornet’s reaction to my approach. It was preoccupied with preening, so I set in, a fast and furious attack with the towel. I pounded the towel against the wall, trying to squeeze the life out of it, but when I checked the clump, I saw it still moving! So I smooshed the towel into a ball and punched and punched it. By this time, Susie was back with Andrew, David, and Liz, and I looked like a fool punching a towel. I opened it again and IT STILL WASN’T DEAD. This thing was resilient. Andrew took the towel and threw the hornet outside, where it lives on to attack us in our sleep.

So somethings are the same, and somethings are different.

Bugs fly inside and scare girls, but they are a heck of a lot bigger.

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A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day. I woke up and attempted to give it to the Lord – largely because I hoped if I did that, He would make it good. But I’d done the same thing the day before Lord, this is Your day. Help me to live it well. and He had not made it good, at least by my standards.

Here I was again, asking that He take this block of time and make it good. The way I wanted it. This time He decided to fill it up with some Catherine-type-goodness:

1. I sent in my application and downpayment for a TEFL program in the city. I can’t tell you how accomplished I feel, just putting that stupid envelope in the mail (yes, that’s right, envelope, because they don’t take online payment! What is this, the 20th century?!). Now to wait it out and see. A full month of school – does it get any better?

2. 30 minutes with a dear friend. 30 minutes in which I was asked about how I truly was, and truly asked in return. 30 minutes in which I was told my poetry submission to the student-run publication had caused the most conversation of all. Score. And 30 minutes to remember that we are not called to love others only when they are happy, excited, beautiful, but that we have enough love for them even when they are a darker version of themselves. Friends remind us of a lot.

3. And this one is the most embarrassing: laughing out loud roughly five times in a crowded Starbucks. Alone. Curled up in a comfy chair. Reading. I couldn’t believe myself. I NEVER do that, but Bill Bryson had me in fits of giggles in public, and, frankly, more people should’ve joined me. That man is hilarious.

Ah. Goodness.