Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Would Be So Proud....

What is it with counter-productivity in school assignments???? 

Are psychology tests supposed to drive you insane? Are you supposed to be driven to homicide over an assignment on Buddha? Is there any order at all in this world?

Yeah, I'm frustrated. Good call!

I swear, I practically have to go through the five stages of grief every time I take a psychology test. I'll even map it all out for you guys:

Step one: Denial. "The test won't be so bad. I don't need to worry about it much at all. Take me an hour to do, tops. I'm making A's already! Psh. Who needs it?

Step two: Anger. "What the heck are these questions? Why is this here? I just want to throw it out the window! I just want to throw something! There is no mention AT ALL of sexual guilt ANYWHERE in this freaking textbook, my notes, or the teacher's powerpoints! GAH!" (Author's Note: This is an actual example of me this evening....I kid you not.)

Step three: Bargaining. "Dear God: If you'll just let me get through this test, and get through it well, I promise not to buy any more dvds off of amazon just because they're only thirty cents each. I promise not to mix the red clothes in with the colored clothes in the washer, just because nobody will ever know. If you'll just get me out of this, I'll...I' something holy! Please God, just get me an A! I need this one for grad school!"

Step four: Depression: "I just can't handle this anymore. I...I....WAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! *sobs* Does anybody have any chocolate?"

Step five: Acceptance. "I won't mind what I make...I'll be happy with whatever grade I get, because I know that I did my best....WHAT DO YOU MEAN I MISSED TWO QUESTIONS OUT OF SIXTY? THAT CAN'T BE RIGHT! I DEMAND A RETRIAL!"

Okay, so maybe I don't have the whole acceptance thing down yet....but I'll keep working. 

And I'll keep getting encouragement from those psychos in the psych department. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Christmas, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

I want Christmas. 

Like, right now. 

This very minute. 

I love the lights that make the night cheery when you're on your way home from somewhere. The world somehow seems so much safer when there is the absence of darkness. I love how everyone is happy to see one another, and how we are reminded of the beauty and grace that is ours by God's mercy. I love seeing my family, and talking to my friends. I love to sing the old, familiar carols, and I love cuddling up before a fire with a book and hot chocolate. I love making Christmas cookies, and not having to go to school, and hoping for snow. I love snuggling up in bed on a cold morning under about three thick blankets, and making up a story without anything to rush me. I love being able to clean things to within an inch of their lives, and making things comfortable for my family. I love hearing the Christmas story, and thinking about Mary. It seems like I can never understand Mary enough--new aspects to her story are always popping up in front of me. I love just about everything about Christmas. It's such a beautiful time of year.

Presents aren't so bad, either....


Monday, October 27, 2008

A New Kind of War

I'm a sucker for sad faces. I admit it quite freely. If there's some sort of support group available, perhaps something like PUP (Pathetically Usurped People), do please let me know. I would be one of its most dedicated, spineless members. 

Why am I talking about my shameful lack of backbone when it comes to puppy dog faces? Because I'm daily taxed on this fault by someone I love dearly, more than my own life. My friends, I am grimly used, and I allow it to continue because it makes me feel wanted. 

You see, my sister and I are writing a fanfiction together. For those of you who don't know, a fanfiction is a story in which you use an already established cast of characters and/or story line, like Star Wars or Harry Potter. You would write a story within those parameters, not something exclusively your own. Shelby and I have been writing on story using the Twilight books as our model. What's funny is that this story has rejuvenated our friendship like nothing else. We talk about it in the mornings on the way to school, we rush to tell each other our ideas. Heck, we even have songs assigned to specific places and characters in our story. It's been so much fun, and we're only about halfway through! 

But I already know now how every evening is going to go. I'm the primary writer on the thing, while Shelby does a good deal of the plot. Plot has never been my strength. So every evening, around eight or so, I hear steps on the stairs. Shelby comes into my room, and nonchalantly lies down on my bed. I'm usually checking my email or watching M*A*S*H when she comes in--I'm no good to anyone after about seven in the evening. She'll lay down on my bed and talk for a minute or watch what I'm watching...until she can't bear the tension anymore and looks at me with this angelic, hopeful look and asks, "So....have you written anything?" I always feel so guilty when I have to admit that I haven't today. And that's when she does it. Not it, IT.

She does....the puppy dog face. 

That thing could be licensed as a weapon of mass destruction. It instantaneously makes the back of your neck tingle, your eyes water, and your will crumble into dust and you find yourself promising to do anything to make it up to her and remove the look from her face. She's used it so much on me, though, that I generally just get grumpy for having put that look on her face in the first place, and I snap at her. 

If I have indeed written something, she squeals, does a happy dance, and sits down and reads it. There is are a few brief moments of peace, in which I blissfully bathe myself. Shelby finishes reading, sighs happily, commends my brilliance, and then starts to walk down the hall to go back downstairs. And then she turns, leans around the wall, and says, "So, when are you writing more?" and does IT again. 

I just can't win. There is no good way to resist it, except not to care. But I do care...I like watching her do that adorable happy dance. 

The upside to all of this? I've gotten her to like M*A*S*H.

Like I said. Anybody got a support group?

She just came into my room again...she has a thought for the dream sequence. Back to work!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

True Confessions of a First Time Voter

Who knew voting could be so hazardous? I thought it was all about national pride or whatever. But there were times, folks, where I feared for my life, if not for gasp! My sanity! However, I have lived to tell the tale. You are looking, dear friends, at the blog of a voter.

It all began when Mom made the impromptu decision to get voting out of the way today. She loaded Shelby, NanNan and myself into her van and we drove off. Halfway there, Mom began to lament leaving her camera at home. She wanted to document this most auspicious occasion in her daughters' histories. Psh. I was far too busy worrying about whether they would let me vote without a voter's registration card to feel nostalgic about lost Kodak moments. We'd mailed in my form at least a month ago without a word in reply from our nation's leaders. You'd think they'd be busting their red, white and blue hineys to get voters their cards. Another win for the Gipper!

Anyway, we arrived at the voting place, the church actually, where I used to take ballet lessons. I really wanted to disappear for a bit and see if the old studio was still there, but I had no chance. The parking lot was full, and it was difficult enough to find a parking place. Eventually Mom beat somebody else out of a spot, and we all unloaded and headed toward the door. Little did we know that this simple action would be fraught with peril. I'll refrain from quoting Monty Python on the topic of peril for the moment, although Lord knows I want to. 

You see, folks, as we were walking up to the voting office, we found that we were forced to run the gauntlet.

Running the gauntlet, according to wikipedia (dear old friend), is as follows: The condemned soldier was stripped to the waist and had to pass between a double row (hence also known as die Gasse, "the alley") of cudgeling or switching comrades. A subaltern walked in front of him with a blade to prevent him from running. The condemned might sometimes also be dragged through by a rope around the hands or prodded along by a pursuer. Various rules might apply, such as banning edged weapons, requiring the group to keep one foot in place, or allowing the soldier to attempt to protect his head with his hands. The punishment was not necessarily continued until death. If so, he might be finished off when unable to walk. Running the gauntlet was considered far less of a dishonor than a beating (with exposure to ridicule) on the pillorypranger, or stocks, since one could 'take it like a man' upright and among soldiers.

Not pleasant. At all. For these soldiers weren't armed with whips or sharp sticks or something. Nope, they were armed with faux civility, political pamphlets, and the dreaded Handshake of Doom. They practically through themselves at us, asking us to support this candidate, or that person. We were informed of the goodness of these individuals--their faithful attendance of church, their many children and faithful wives, their utterly sincere intentions to Better Humanity.  Hrumph. One of the people started to shake Mom's hand and wouldn't let go. I thought I was going to perform a break that I learned in Self Defense Class in order to free her. I ended up hiding shamelessly behind my grandmother. They wouldn't attack an older lady, right? Right?

Finally we made it inside (our bodies intact, thank goodness, although my desire to perform my civic duty was in utter tatters) and joined the end of a line. It was long, but not totally daunting. You even started to make friends with the other people in the line after a while. There were many discussions going on in a variety of subjects: Iron Man, the U of M basketball team, the iphone, college life, ect. I even flirted mildly with a guy that was wearing a Serenity t-shirt. Hey, it was from a great tv show! He had good taste!

There was a problem with my voting, of course, since I didn't have my voter's registration card. An extraordinarily snippy woman that put me in the mind of Effie started to help me. She was squiffy at first when Mom stayed with me to make sure that I didn't get screwed. Hey, she was the one that mailed my voter's registration. I just know that I filled it out. When the lady told mom that she would really prefer to talk to me, I looked her straight in the eye and said, "Yes, well, since she was the one that actually mailed the registration, she would have the most information." *Angelic smile* I positively hate it when people act like they're treating you like an adult, but they do it in such a roundabout way that it comes across as patronizing. I can't even describe it accurately--they pretend that they're addressing you, when really they just want to feel superior. Again, something that Effie does. 

But to get back on target, after I made my sweet little self known, the lady decided to be nice and actually help me rather than attempt to build up her own minuscule sense of self-esteem. We eventually got my voter's status straightened out, I voted, and came home. 

Done my job. The rest is up to them. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Religious 500

Church just amuses me sometimes. I love sitting somewhere inconspicuous and watching people and the accepted social habits and intricate relationships of average churchgoers. There's always some kind of drama going on.

The choosing of seats, for example, is like a parody of the Indianapolis 500. Despite the fact that I've never watched racing, I imagine it to be something like this.

"Annnnd here we go, folks, another round of the Running of the Sanctified! Let's have a look at the racers today. To our left is the Wilson family. A sturdy vehicle, the Wilson team boasts of  two parents, four Bibles, three small children, and a loving grandmother who wants to hug every single person in the congregation! The Wilsons usually sit down front on the left hand side, where the children are forced to behave themselves. However, there is a small fly in their proverbial ointment: coming in from the back door five minutes late is the Parrish couple! The Parrishes are newly-weds, and are unfamiliar of the seating charts of Sweet River Church. The rest of the congregation has left the Wilson's pew unoccupied out of respect and a desire to protect themselves from righteous ire. The Wilsons and the Parrishes are taking their places at the starting line now....Mrs. Wilson is revving her engine as hard as she can....and the flag falls and they're off! 

"The Wilsons are in the lead, as the Parrishes are hesitating at the door....this is unfamiliar territory for them, after all! Wilsons are leading...leading...and they're stymied as a small child runs in for a hug from the grandmother! The Parrishes are in the lead now, and they've spotted all that available space down front of the sanctuary. They cast longing looks at the filled back row, and then begin to make the circuit. They're making their move...oh, no! Mrs. Parrish's no-fat latte cup has sprung a leak! They're held up as Mr. Parrish, looking annoyed, takes the cup to the garbage can. The Wilsons have used this opportunity to make their way down the center aisle, but they don't make it very far when they realize that Little Suzie has wandered off again! Mrs. Wilson is trying to get a clear answer out of her other children about their sister's whereabouts, but all she's getting is 'I dunno.' 

"The Parrishes are easing closer...and closer....oh, sweet pickles! Mr. Parrish's Bible has dumped all of his fliers and bulletins all over the floor. The pressure is really on now as the choir files into their places on the of these families must get to the pew soon, or they'll face the humiliation of still standing in the middle of the aisle while the pastor is trying to pray! 

"These two groups are really racing now folks...look how red Mrs. Wilson's face is...the grandmother is picking up the pace....both racers are at the mouth of the pew...WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS? FAITHFUL FRIENDS HAVE SAVED THE WILSONS' PLACE! THEY'VE WON THE RACE! 

"The Parrishes are slinking down further front where they will be easily noticed by the pastor...they are defeated. We've gotta sign off now, folks, the prelude is beginning. See you all next year!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am a K....I am a K-A....I am a K-A-T-I-E, oh yes I am...

I couldn’t decide whether I was amused, touched, or slightly insulted by something one of my creative writing students brought into class today. I’d assigned my kids to write a poem on somebody they admired—we’ve been studying “Twelfth Night” lately and talking about the various forms of admiration and ducky love held by its characters. I wanted them to get in on the act to provide some version of modernity and applicability. The results were fairly typical. One student wrote on her grandmother, another his youth pastor.

Gracie decided to…you guessed it…write about me.

Gracie is an interesting child. And when I say interesting, I mean that she’s hysterical, but I’m also quite glad that I’m not her mother. I imagine, though, that she’s very similar to how I was at that age, if in a slightly darker form. She has a sarcastic sense of humor which never fails to crack me up, but she delights in writing her stories with as many grotesque moments as possible. Bring on the blood is her motto. This is the child that, at the wizened age of eight, announced quite seriously that she was going through an Edgar Allan Poe stage.

I kid you not.

But like I said before, I really wasn’t all that different. Gracie and I both have overactive imaginations that tend to get us into trouble. I just liked the, um, more positive side of fantasy. However, it must be conceded all true fantasy has a darker side. If Gracie could just add a few princesses or flowers to her beheadings, she’ll be on the right track. No, I don’t think that she’s disturbed, she’s just…unique. Once I forbade her from mentioning killings or body limbs rolling dramatically downhill, she's been fine.

You can understand my justifiable trepidation, though, when I found that she had written a poem about me. I offer the following gem of American literature for your perusal. It has been reproduced exactly, spelling errors and all. I’ll give you my commentary at the end.

Miss Katy
By Gracie

Ms. Katy is a good writer
She also is very sweat
She’s a very good teacher
But that’s only one of her features

Her reading skills excel
And that can only mean
That soon one day she’ll become a dean
Of the best college you’ve ever seen

Her ideas are brilliant
No one can mach them
She’s got a great talent
That is very gallant

She is very smart
Her thoughts are like fine art

First off, while this was extraordinarily sweet…I mean, sweat…of her to say, I find it difficult to believe in Gracie’s sincerity. Knowing her, she just wrote it because she knew I would lap it up and she’s snickering in her hand back home. I don’t mean to put down her work, necessarily; I just take it with a grain of salt as big as my head. She’s just evil enough (a trait in her that I often admire) to do the occasional part time job of brownnosing.


*throat swells dramatically*

MY FREAKING NAME IS KATIE! KATIE! Not Kaitie, not Katy, most CERTAINLY not Kate, and not even Kaitlyn! My name is Kaitlin Grace, but I will answer to, and ONLY to, KATIE!!!!! Get it right people! It’s a simple, five letter name! Don’t make me doubt your intelligence! I might add that this is not directed at Gracie…it’s just a pet peeve that’s built alarmingly over the years. After nearly twenty-one years of mistakes, I’ve become the opposite of desensitized. KATIE!

There. I feel better now. You may collect your eardrums at the door.

I also couldn't decide how I felt about the whole college dean business. Part of me would love it—nice cushy job, being a dean. I can just see it—my name on a big, imposing, Beauty and the Beast-esque wooden door, bookshelves overflowing with goodness, and some poor grad student to run the legs off of as he/she gets my no water vanilla chai. However, it also means several things which I positively abhor, namely, 1.) Schmoozing with people I don’t like, 2.) Fundraising, which I loathe, and 3.) Organization, a trait I most definitely do not possess.

I’m glad Gracie’s not telepathic—some of my fine artistic thoughts are probably the only kind of art one finds down some godforsaken dark alley with dollar store spray paint being the medium of choice.

Anyway, make of it what you will. Gracie took the time to write about me, and I’m touched by the time she put into it…even if she is laughing at home over the whole thing. It still made me go all warm and fuzzy.

A little.

After I got over the Ms. Katy bit.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mental Age

I can't decide whether I'm chagrined or vaguely flattered by the quiz I recently took online. This quiz offered to tell me what my true mental age was. I answered the question and was told that I was...drum roll, please...43. No wonder all the boys my age still seem like idiots. Of course, I probably brought this upon myself--when I was asked by the quiz how I viewed driving, I clicked the option that stated, "Driving is a privilege. Either follow the rules or get off the damn road." My answer was fueled by my rising irritation at the sheer number of people that do not seem to understand the concept of MERGING. Speed up, folks, unless you want to either a.) run somebody off the road when they have to swerve to miss you or b.) cause the poor schmuck behind you to get hit because you weren't going fast enough.

Perhaps 43 was a conservative number after all....yeesh.