Friday, September 29, 2006

My Students are Smarter Than Me

Today was my first class teaching the gifted kiddos from Allegheny County. I can now absolutely understand why my beloved Mr. Shank once told me he much prefers working with at-risk (read "naughty") kids than the gifted kids. Here's why: gifted kids are SMART! They know things!

There I was, with my loosely assembled lesson plan for the afternoon and my small list of topics to discuss in the essay I gave them. As soon as I gave them the chance, they steam-rolled right through all the big topics we hit in my GRADUATE workshop and took the whole analysis to a new level. I found myself taking notes. Not teaching notes. Reading notes. I was taking notes based on my students' comments. Kids are too damn smart.

This made me decide one very important thing: Next time, there will be no discussion of already published authors. I'm moving right in to making them talk about their own work. Which is mostly why they signed up for the course anyway. At the end of class, they asked me to bring them something of mine to read. No freaking way! Are they crazy?? They'll eat me alive!

I told them to googol me, so now I have to go change my name and scour the web for all references to me so they can't see what a miserable failure I am. If they can reach right into the heart of established genie (that's jean-ye, plural genius) like Mary Roach and Gretchen likelier, they would walk all over a newcomer like me.

What seems even more disturbing to me than their knowing more than me is the fact that they are paying to be in the class. Someone decided THEY should pay ME to guide them. I am going to take my paycheck for this month's session and spend it on a guidebook of lesson plans to stimulate absurdly intelligent people. And hope that one of my students didn't write said book.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Last Day on Earth

I am dying. I have decided this will be the last day I live because I can surely never recover from this head cold. Yesterday, a woman sat on me on the 71A. Sat ON me. I was in the long row seats which face the aisle and the passengers opposite you. I was in the corner one near the rear of the bus, with three other seats to my right. Open seats. A very enormously fat woman sauntered down the aisle, clinging those hanging straps like they were parachute rip cords. I knew what was going to happen. I saw her not notice me.

So she waddled on to the back, heaved a mighty sigh. I sucked in my breath, clutched my bag to my chest and hoped my sunglasses weren't inside. And then she sat. On me. I would say on my lap only she so far surpassed the size of my body that it was as if I were sitting in her ass rather than her sitting on me.

She must have felt me. Or seen my little legs kicking out in between hers. "Oh! I'm so sorry. I didn't see you there!" She leaned off me and scooched to the right, just barely making it into the empty seats. Her thigh still touched my thigh the whole way to campus. And this is how I got ill. I'm sure of it.

When the bus stopped, I had to use the left arm rest of the seat AND the strap to hoist myself up from my smashed position. I touched the germy places where sty guy had been. Did I wash my hands when I got to work? No! I ate my chicken sandwich and infected myself with death.

And now I am being punished. As God as my witness, I will never sit on the bus again. I will wear an oven mitt and stand near the front, swaying in the surf as I dangle from the too-short strap.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Retina Burners

They dilated my pupils. I thought eye doctors stopped doing that! Why did they do this to me?? I had to wear the orthopedic old lady sunglasses that come rolled in a carton to drive home. I'm actually still wearing them now as I sit in my dark living room with the blinds drawn. I'm turned away from the kitchen where the morning sun is pouring in, threatening to blind me through my enormous pupils. I'm actually dizzy and having some balance troubles, but I could be projecting this because I am so grouchy about my eyeballs. Here is what they look like right now:

(Note that they are that large AFTER the flash has gone off on the webcam!)

These large pupils are forcing a break from work into what was scheduled to be a hectic and productive day. I wanted to use these few hours to prepare the damn save the date letter I need to send about the wedding. It's good I can't see well enough to do so because I don't actually know the address of the farm where the wedding is. I need to get on top of that. As my Knot checklist tells me every day in flashing exclamation points (that look even scarier when your pupils are enormous) we have just over 200 days to go. 200 days to claw my way through the mounting pile of tasks involved in planning a wedding 350 miles from where I live. It might as well be across the world for how easy it is to get there for appointments. I'm whining now. This no longer has anything to do with my dilated pupils.

The one saving grace of the pupil experience is that as Dr. Steinberg walked me to the sunlight-filled waiting room, he said "Judy, take care of Katy. She's dilating right now."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bad Choice

My car stopped at a rest stop at 11:00 en route to our 2pm game at Buffalo. We had two hours, we decided. Why not pig out? So we ordered pizza. Big slices of rest stop pizza that don't even taste good. And we ate them. Followed by McFlurries. M&M McFlurries. And then we drove to Buffalo and then we started to warm up to play.

My guts felt tight and heavy. The entire freaking game, I was miserable. I hated myself and my choices and spent the entire game not focused on my self, my actions, my rugby. Instead, I doubled over at every opportunity and tried to keep my lunch. It was torture. Bad choices. Horrible decision.

So then we went to the social. There were cookies, there were chips and homemade salsa. It was delicious. And then they carried in the main course: pizza. Big greasy disgusting thick crust pizza. I passed.

Friday, September 22, 2006

What are you?

This week, I decided to try something new. I've been taking the 500 instead of the 71A. The 500, instead of being stuffed with crazy people, brims with children and young parents. I suspect this is because the bus goes to the zoo, but who knows why there are so many all the time. Not only are there tons of kiddos on the bus, they swarm around it when you get off at my stop. Highland Park seems to have lots of young kids. And I like that.

Yesterday, I got off the bus from class wearing my new IRB backpack. I sauntered down the road with both hands holding the fine black straps when a little boy on a pink bicycle skidded to a halt in front of me. He said, "Hey! Are you a grown up or a kid?"

I was taken aback. I ask myself this question almost daily. Here I am supposed to be an adult and I obsess over Corey's garbage shoes and tattle to his mommy like a middle-schooler. I sort of want to live like an adult, but my greatest joy is chasing my friends around rugby practice and sneaking in an ass punch when they aren't expecting it. Could this child on a bicycle see right through my facade? How did he know to ask this question? I had to choose.

"I'm a grown up. For sure."

He didn't seem convinced. He looked at me a bit longer, rode the bike around me in a tight circle. I think he needed to process this news. Back pack, yet grown up. Short person, yet adult. Crazy, immature brain yet claims to side with the grownups. He stopped the bike again and stared me down.

"Well, do you want to come inside for a piece of cake?"

Heck yes I did! Nothing sounded more delicious in the world. I hoped it was chocolate cake. But I had already chosen sides. Grownups can't go into strange children's houses for cake. I had to tell him no, thank you and skip on home to my house, where there is no cake. Only generic cheerios.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What has become of us?

I walked down the hall last night, following Corey as he headed toward the shower. As usual, I tripped over giant boat sneakers outside his office. I bent down to throw them back inside the room, expecting the gray Nikes with stylish green and orange accents. I saw old man shoes. White, enormous old man sneakers with awful piping.

"Where did you get these shoes?" I said, fearing the answer. It took me years to convince him to part with money to purchase a new pair when his college sneakers smelled like swamp. I held my breath and repeated the question, knowing the reluctance to answer confirmed my suspicions.

"Justin gave them to me."

"Where did Justin get them?"

"The Goodwill dumpster."

Horror, fungus, corns, bunions, warts, staph....the shoes were not good enough for Goodwill. He is wearing garbage shoes. Disease shoes. And now he is at work and I am at home and I can't decide if I should remove the shoes from our home or just hang my head in shame that my man is such a dumpster diver. This makes me never, ever want to scrounge for free things again. This serves me right for encouraging such behavior.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Has Anyone seen Corey?

Before I left for Canada, there was a messy, grumpy elfen man on my sofa. He didn't really shave very often and left trails of dust and piles of garbage in his wake when on the move. When I came back, my kitchen smelled like 409 and shone in the setting sunlight through the open blinds. Someone cleaned up all the messes and emptied the dishwasher and put all the vegetables in the fridge.

Where is Corey and who brought me this new person? Will all this eagerness to make things germ-free disappear by this weekend when he stops missing me as much? Or are these pre-emptive strikes against the nagging beast I become when I'm stressed out? Perhaps chillaxing with awesome ladies from other lands has put things into perspective. The kitchen is not actually cleaner, the mess just bothers me less. Possible?

Who has gone away--messy Corey or nasty Katy?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


It feels very strange to be back. After having been a guest for over a week, it is weird to comfortably walk through my own home, to pour cereal without guilt and drink apple cider from the container. I've been hurtling my bag all day, reluctant to unpack it because I am so happy to have it with me. I had to go to work last night right from the airport and didn't want to take my bags with me. Corey couldn't get out of work early to take me home, but met me at the bus stop to take my bags from me. It was very weird leaning out the bus door, requesting a stop just to hand off luggage. I had to explain the situation to numerous passengers who asked me what was going on. I was just relieved not to have to drag my bags up the hill to the office.

The very nicest thing was coming out of work late and tired to have my cookie pick me up and take me for Boston Market (his version of a home cooked meal for me). Today I have to get back to the business of resetting my life. I am meeting with professors, working out, writing papers. Through it all it's difficult to release the experience I've just had and carry on with my little life.

I still can't believe I was at the World Cup. People in Samoa know me now. People in Kazakhstan recognize my face. I have sat with South Africans and listened to their struggles to, as females, play a contact sport in a nation that won't accept what they are doing. I feel so much more worldly, so much more aware of things after being immersed in so many varied cultures. I am so grateful I have rugby in my life to link me to this experience. I'm just going to sigh happily and reflect for the rest of the day, I think. Meetings can wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Day 7 addendum

My links are up:

Rugby Reporter: Day 7


I'm sitting indoors today, in the glass press box above the 50 meter line. Right now the US team is taking the field to walk the pitch, get familiar with the physical ground. I can't really describe what it means for me to sit here, at the World Cup, in the media room and watch these international matches.

Last night at the bar, I met up with some other random US supporters and we partied with the Australians and the Irish. Seriously fun girls, both teams. I discovered the Irish captain is 25. My age. And she has 50 caps! She has played in 50 matches, represented her country 50 times. Astonishing. I gave her a beer.

I'm not doing match reports today, just doing the post-match interviews. This part always makes me nervous. I feel like someone has made an error in giving me this job. After the whole shebang today there is a fancy party at the tournament hotel. Lucky for me I brought my lovely summary dress. It's not snowing yet, but surely will be by the time I leave the house with no pantyhose.

The IRB officials are watching the US warm up. I like hearing them compliment our ability to move the ball, to avoid contact. I like to hear rugby powerhouse nations describe the US as smart rugby players. I better sign off before I explode with excitement. I need to stock up on energy so I can deal with flying home tomorrow.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 6

it's too cold today to use complete sentences or captials. freezing rains all day. wind. miserable. three great matches, though. i did a lot better on the writeups, though had to kick some refs out of my media box when they got in my sightline of the field. here are the links:

can't decide if i have the energy to do a pub crawl with spain and south africa. especially since they want to go line dancing. i need to get up early tomorrow and am too cold. but do i just want to go to bed? maybe nerdy? i'll see what my house is doing.

also, my publication is finally up on the new yinzer. though the cartoon is ghoulish. check out "Saturday's a Rugby Day" at

ok. fingers cold. time to eat.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 6

I don't know why, but my blog was down for a bunch of hours. I have no idea what happened. Today is a gross day. It's really cold and raining. My hosts took me around the great city of Edmonton today, so it was more of a tourism day than a rugby reporter day. I had no interviews and didn't see the Eagles at all, just wrote about them in the morning and explored the 48-block mall.

Here are some interesting factoids about Canadians:
They pay $10 Canadian for a box of cereal, such as Golden Grahams
They pronounce the clear sticky window decorations as "deckle"
They make fabulous beefy products with cheese inside. Mmm
They are all amazingly nice and considerate, the way humanity should be.

Tonight was are going to a Canadian restaurant for pasta (pronounced the way a British person would say it) and drinking some Labatt's. I will unfortunately miss my exhibition match with a motley American side as I will be working the Cup on Saturday. The match was supposed to be on Thursday, but got rescheduled due to people working. It's really a bummer to miss it because the American reserves are going to join in.

I shall now rest my bulging belly and watch some Canadian talk shows. Nice.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 5

Even though there was 100% chance of rain today, I predicted it would not do so. I was right! Ha! It drizzled a bit in the morning, but has been otherwise very ok outside, if cold.

I spent a lot of time today eating Cadbury chocolate, which can be sold here. I have missed it so much since leaving England. Mmmmm diary milk bars! They were 2 for a dollar at the Max, which is their Sheetz.

Next on my agenda was a huge interview with the US strength and conditioning team and medical staff. They are using a revolutionary approach to keep the US Women healthy, combining accupuncture, osteopathic medicine, and herbs and yoga with rehab programs and then keeping the specific health and positoinal needs of each athlete in mind when designing workouts. Very fascinating. One hundred percent interesting. It inspired me to email my sister and tell her to focus on sports medicine, because I think this approach will be the next hot thing in the States.

Tonight, my hosts are going to watch their collegiate team play in a tournament. I'm pretty jazzed to go with them and see the level of play Canadian universities exhibit. Perhaps I can scout study abroad students for Penn State, or at least encourage some transfers.

Tomorrow will be my first day with actually nothing to do. I would take myself to a movie, only it costs $13 to see movies here. Crap!

I very badly wish I were at practice tonight with the Angels. I am beginning to feel like a lump hanging out with these elite athletes and not exercising anything except my hand muscles.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 4

It is so nice to have an entire day to relax and get some school work done after my day of traveling and working. Also, my bag arrived last night, so I got to sleep in my pajamas and am sitting in my own socks having brushed my hair. Always a plus. (Though I was kind of looking forward to going to the Edmonton Mall to buy stuff since the mall is 48 blocks huge)

Today I drove to the hotel to hang out with my friends on the US team. I am writing 2 articles about Claudia and another about the team's recovery practices. They are doing acupuncture and pool treatments and other fascinating stuff. It was really interesting to hang around and see their "camp." Basically, the Eagles have staked out a conference room and spend the majority of their time in there. I got to sit in on the lunch buffet while I interviewed Claudia.

I feel like I could get very used to the power of being a writer. Here I have people working their asses off to be the best in the world at the thing they love. Then, I come into the picture to advertise it, to tell the world about what they are doing. Everyone has been so excited to share with me and I have been fascinated to look into their world here in Edmonton.

I arranged to meet with the team doctor tomorrow and to maybe watch a practice session. I say maybe because it's turned rainy and terribly cold here. I don't know how excited I am to brave the elements when I don't have to.

Not much exciting is going to happen for me until Saturday's match day, which will be another day of running like a crazy person. Although for Saturday I get a fine green Adidas IRB polo. Now I have the experience of having done such work before. Hopefully I will improve for that day.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 3

I'm here and I am in clean underwear, though my toes are cold and my bag is still missing. I am not really worried, though, since I got several phatty new IRB Adidas polos. They are seriously high class. I also have a fine new Adidas backpack for hauling around match reports, score sheets, and statistics.

I had no idea what I was getting into today. Turning around match reports one half hour after a match is brutal! I don't know how journalists do this every day. I spent every instant of my day so far running around like a crazy person, writing down names and trying to understand South African people well enough to quote them accurately. I feel so honored to have spoken to the captains and coaches and standout players from all these teams. I felt such power in the media box as I said "Get me the winger after the match" or "I need to talk to whomever scored that drop goal."

It was also absolutely phenomenal to watch the United States win against Australia today. I felt so energized cheering for my country, even if it is uncouth for the media to cheer loudly. I was stationed right by Australia's bench, and they were very unhappy with several hundred calls from the referee, so I felt obligated to provide some support for the Americans.

I'm getting kicked out of the media center now that it's 8 at night. Check out my match reports.

Samoa vs South Africa:
Scotland vs Ireland
USA vs Australia

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 2

If I have to be stuck in an airport, strip searched, witness my luggage combed, and transferred to three flights on three airlines in an attempt to reach the great north, at least they have given me free WiFi. Seriously, this isn't too bad. I don't have any water, but I have free time to do my work for grad school.

I used the WiFi to convince my Canadian car rental place to stay open late enough for my flight to get there, provided this one actually takes off. I haven't gotten to do any glamorous media things today, nor have I seen any rugby or ruggers. I suspect this airport drama is commonplace for international traveling writers. Even first class ticket-holders can't get around this crap when there is bad weather and only one flight per day to a city.

Thankfully, I made contact with my hostesses and everything should be cool with my rugby bed and breakfast. They hinted I might have my own entire room! With a bed! This is better than a hotel. I am going to redirect my energy away from being upset at my airport situation and toward thanking the heavens for a house full of cool ladies waiting for me in Edmonton.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Rugby Reporter: Day 1

Before I even arrive at the World Cup, I already feel like a real reporter. I just got off the phone with Dom Kelly, the website guy for the IRB. After I got over being excited to talk to a real British person again (I miss my funny talking coaches of days past! I miss living in the UK!), we got right down to business. He sent out a style guide and stipulations and requirements for the press reports. He sent my accreditation to the media office. I'll have a press pass, a media liaison, wireless internet, food, a laptop station, the works! I feel jittery and excited. I wonder what they'll serve to eat!

I realized as I was talking to him how absolutely ridiculous I sound. Here is the first part of our conversation:
D: You're only getting here midnight on Monday? And you have to be at the stadium at 1030 on Tuesday?
K: Yep. I'm flying in from Pittsburgh, PA.
D: Is that very far from Alberta?
(geographical banter...)
D: So you don't have the address where you're staying and you don't have directions to the pitch and you won't have a phone while you're here?
K: I was going to sort all that out when I woke up in the morning...I do have the promise of a couch to sleep on with some rugby girls...I hoped they would give me directions.

In any sort of universe other than a rugby one, the media manager would probably question the credibility of said reporter. I am hoping this person understands that rugby people wouldn't lead me astray. A promise of a couch is a promised couch and those girls will get me and my rental car where I need to be on time. (As I have done for many wayward travelers on rugby weekends past)

This takes me back to the bus station in Exeter, when I stood with loads of luggage and a confused look on my little freckled face. As chance would have it, one of my future professors happened to be sauntering by en route to the rugby club. He saw my Ireland jersey, heard me speak, and saved the day. If I can trust old former flyhalves to rescue me on the street in a foreign land, to buy me pints of cider and introduce me to a team to join, I have full confidence that the Edmonton ladies will be just as amazing. I SHOULD have told Dom: "Not to worry. Everything is taken care of and I will ring you at 9am to check in."

That's what a seasoned, actual reporter would do. Hopefully my bags won't get lost and I can meet him and dazzle him with my professionalism.

Oh god. What should I wear? Are rugby clothes appropriate in this scenario? Do I need to repack?

PS--I called him back and am glad I did! He'll be sending an IRB outfit for me! I have an official IRB Press shirt!!!!

It All Seems So Easy

I think I am taking Corey's last name. I can't decide if I'm going to keep mine in there, too, or just replace my current last name with his. I don't want to be one of those women with a zillion names and hyphens all over the place, but I only have four letters and he only has three. Together, the names would have two syllables. Many people already have 2 syllable last names. I wouldn't hyphenate, either. The hyphen is my least favorite punctuation mark.

But then I don't really expect people to call me by four names or even my name plus his name. So why bother keeping mine if I'll just use it on checks and contracts? Perhaps I should use my name and his name as my pen name for my publications. But then I lose my middle name (Adair! How wonderful a name!) and that would make me sad. We can't lose Adair.

This is all further complicated by my burning desire to have a gmail account. I can't very well adopt a new email account 8 months before I get married and change my name, now can I? I'd just have to change it all over again and that's annoying. So now I ruminate over what my gmail account should be, what my "daily" name should be, and whether that name should be different from my "official" name.

Perhaps I should take the Phoebe approach and change my name to Katy Consuela Banana Hammock. Who am I? I am so glad my parents named me when I was an infant, before I had to spend a year trying to decide what my name should be. It's supposed to be easier than this to get married. Maybe Corey should just change his name and I'd have no worries. Then I could join gmail this afternoon!!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


We ran out of soy milk, so my lanky lactard love was unable to eat cereal for breakfast. Rather than make toast or waffles or something typically breakfasty, he made Pasta Roni. Why? More accurately, how can he eat that for breakfast? I feel like typical breakfast foods have a certain bland starchiness, to provide a nice base in the stomach after many hours of no food in there.

To introduce garlic and olive oil angel hair in the morning seems cruel and unusual. I could understand a peanut butter sandwich or a salad maybe, but Pasta Roni? It just seems so wrong, wronger even than cold pizza for breakfast.

Why is it that breakfast time, to me at least, is limited only to breakfast food? I've eaten breakfast for lunches and dinners with no hesitation. I can happily eat other meals at any hour after 11 and never think it's odd. But somehow, the first hours after waking up seem to be reserved for the following things: toast, eggs, cereal, Bisquick products.

Perhaps I am the small minded one here. Maybe I am just too anal retentive to think about Pasta Roni in the morning. I should march into the kitchen right now and whip up a Pad Thai, just because I'm hungry.

Monday, September 04, 2006

More Rage

Well, 247 Sports has sucked it up again. This time, their site doesn't even have enough bandwidth to allow me to log in and watch the match I paid for, again live. I don't even want their stinking refund to watch their low quality crap of a broadcast. I just want to fly to Canada and watch the damn matches myself. I hate that I arranged my whole holiday afternoon around the notion that I could watch a rugby game I paid a professional company to broadcast for me. I hate that they failed and are terrible.


Something is wrong with me. I meant to spend this whole weekend doing some work for school to get ahead before I leave for the World Cup. Obviously, I spent the whole time instead watching The Wire. Thirteen episodes in one weekend. I got a phone call with a bowling invite and actually had to talk myself into going. "It will be ok for a few hours. If you get bored, you can always stop bowling and come and watch more Wire."

What is wrong with me?? When Corey got back from his weekend of bike riding, we then together almost didn't go to a dinner party because of The Wire. As the time crept closer and closer to departure, we kept saying "We have time for one more half an more scene."

Something about HBO series is so gripping that it causes me to fear leaving my home. I am pinned to my screen, drawn in by some magical force. Even the child actors on these shows are fantastically realistic. I think the shows suck me in because the acting is so good, it almost seems like reality happening before me.

The fact that I tend to watch entire seasons of these series in weekend long marathons is also a testament to how crazed my mind is during the rest of the week. I think sometimes I need a weekend of agoraphobia where I don't get dressed at all and have to convince myself that leaving the house is ok, even if there is more Presboluski and Bunk to be seen.

Today I have no more Wire to watch, but I find myself in my robe at 11am. It's not that nice out for a Labor Day. I think I may continue my avoidance of reading and writing by purchasing all the World Cup matches today. Corey will make me Rice A Roni and feed it to me while I sit glued to the screen, clutching my terrycloth bathrobe during the exciting parts.

I may never leave the house again.