Sunday, September 30, 2007


Yesterday, we played a rugby game against Erie. This is their second season and for many of the players it was their first ever game of rugby. We played 13s and 2 of those players were Angels, including me. It was, I must say, one of the most inspiring days of rugby I have seen in a long time.

The Angels won the game 103-0. But so what? What impressed me so much about that team was Erie's attitude throughout the whole match. Every single play, they stood back and talked about what they did well. Did they realign that time? Yes! Did they participate in a ruck or cover the outside? Yes! And each time, they felt proud of that improvement. I think that attitude is so awesome. I have played against so many teams that self destruct on the field when they make mistakes. We find it laughable when teams are negative toward one another. I'm so glad for Erie that they are starting their team out on such a positive model.

Honestly, they have good players. Another few seasons, a bit more depth on their bench, and they are going to be a threat in the Midwest. They made smart kicks, came up hard on defense. They have all the pieces there, they just need to solidify their foundation. It was a real honor to take the field for them yesterday.

(Obviously it was an even bigger honor to put on an Angels jersey for the second half)

Friday, September 28, 2007


I found out from my boss that after the students left tutoring, they went to their night class. 13 of them, all from one sport, in the same basic writing course. On the best of days, they are rambunctious.

On this day, one of them went in without a shirt on. Just walked into the classroom barechested. He must have meandered through the entire classroom building this way until the professor asked him to please clothe himself. This is the same student who often comes for tutoring dressed in a sort of Superman tube top midriff shirt thingy. What the hell is wrong with him?

Then, his teammate started periodically spitting grapes. This is a seminar table, where they sit in a circle. And this kid was spitting grapes across the room. Grapes! When asked why, he said they were very sugary and he felt wound up.

Now, my boss tells me that I have to imagine them not as babies but as 18 year old boys, which amounts to the same thing. What would happen, she asks me to think, if 13 members of the same fraternity were in one class. I suppose I can imagine similar shenanigans. But I would shudder as a parent to think my son had grown into the type of man (because when you are in college you are a man, let's face it) who walks around with no shirt or spits grapes at his classmates.

What are we doing in society when we revere athletes to the point where they aren't allowed to develop as normal people? They are walking around naked and spitting grapes! Grapes!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Terrible Night

I just had a terrible night at work. One student kicked another student (from another sport) in the nuts and then denied it, even after I said I saw it happen. "I didn't do nothin'," he said. Like a child. The poor victim limped around saying, "I'm good. Nothing wrong here."

Then, a female student athlete loudly proclaimed to the whole lab that she had to go do a number two. When I went into the work bathroom awhile later, there was her number two. Just sitting there. Unflushed. I wanted to kill her.

So many of them work hard and really appreciate us. Then there are assholes, who text message their friends WHILE I AM SPEAKING to them. They demand I do their work for them, freak out when I refuse to type their papers or rewrite their sentences. I need some of the good ones to come in each day so the few unappreciative jerks/babies don't ruin my morale.


Last weekend after our Buffalo game we had a picnic at a teammates' house instead of our usual pub social. I was super excited because my whole family was in town, dressed to the 9s in extra special Christmas presents, and they were coming to the picnic. It was their second ever rugby picnic, the first being at parents night in 1999 when we crammed into Pete's backyard and sang the Two Little Boys song for our relatives.

It made me so happy to see my dad eating burgers and chatting with grill master Luke. To see my mom learning about Baseball, the drinking game. We brought orzo salad and ate ice cream sandwiches and my dad revealed drunken secrets to my lawyer teammate, the Ultimate Slytherin. We burped, we teased, and we all hung out.

Later, at 2am, my sister burbled over with facts I've known for years: It's so cool that we chill with the other team after ward. People are really nice to each other, like for real honest to goodness nice. Everyone is real and genuine. Everyone is successful and amazing. Everyone has cool tattoos.

Well, duh! Haven't I been saying this for years? Rugby is the solution, people.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sad and Lonely

Corey leaves today for a business trip. He'll be off in Las Vegas gambling away our fortunes while I sit on the sofa and write my manuscript. I hate that it's due in 2 weeks, yet I can't wait to be rid of it for a few months while my draft is examined. Maybe, like last time, I'll get to start all over again after my committee meeting! I sure hope so.

While Corey is gone, I have made a menu for myself including corn chowder WITH POTATOES, bean foods, fish foods, and all the onions I can manage. So life won't be entirely void of pleasure.

Still no skim milk, but I've been eating pumpkin muffins for breakfast and putting the creamy whole milk in my tea.

Monday, September 24, 2007


My family were in town this weekend and while Betsy and I went to a rugby party, Corey and my mom went to Trader Joe's to buy organic snack food. I phoned Corey and said, "Can you please get me a half gallon of regular milk?" The next morning, I went to add milk to my tea and discovered a half gallon of whole milk in the fridge.

I meant regular milk, as in not soy milk made from soy beans. Milk squirted from cows, please! He interpreted real milk as milk only going through one step. Pasteurization only, please! My lactard husband doesn't know my milk.

I got very sad at this. I have drunk skim milk only for decades. As any milk drinker knows, one can go down in milk fat, but one can never, ever go up. And I can certainly not consume whole milk. How can my husband not know my milk? I started quizzing him on other things. What is my favorite trail mix? What is my cereal? He said, "I know your tampons!"

I suppose this should be a small consolation, but what am I t0 do with the half gallon of heavy cream in my icebox? One friend has suggested some delicious milk shakes. I might have to go for it. While I am out buying ice cream, I can just pick up some real milk.

Friday, September 21, 2007


"Something happened the other day, and I didn't want to tell you until I saw you in person," Corey told me this morning. I hadn't seen him awake since late Wednesday and only saw him this morning because I couldn't sleep when he woke up at 6am.

"A little mouse got in the house," he continued.

"A little mouse????"

"Just a cute little field mouse, that's all. I heard it making some sounds over in the recycling area."

I tried to remain calm. I immediately felt certain it had made a family in our walls. Corey told me, "I went on a mission to capture it. I chased it over to a teeny hole over there, by the door, and I was sure it got out. So I plugged the hole with [that expandable foam stuff he's been using to seal the windows]."

"We have to disinfect the house," I said, nodding. I'm certain there is typhus in here now.

"Well it hadn't left through the hole after all. So I chased it around and dropped the trashcan upside down over it. Then I slid some cardboard under the can to make a seal and I released it into the woods."

I became immediately terrified that my husband was now emulating my sick father's rodent capture techniques. After my dad had some sort of mid-life crisis, he began capturing squirrels in Have A Heart traps, spray painting them orange, and driving them to the park to set them free. The orange paint was a marker, so he could gage whether he had repeat customers. I can just see Corey going on secret missions into the basement to save little mouse families, finally finding use for the pumpkin paint for the guest room, while I kneel in prayer that my family won't die of the plague.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


One of the student athletes signed up for a literature course in which he must read Beowulf. When scheduling classes, his adviser told him, "Whew! Beowulf, eh? That's a tough book."

"I'll be fine," he told her, and scheduled the class.

Last night, he brought the book into the writing center to get started on his homework. He opened to the first page. "What the f^$k is this?"

"That's Beowulf," I said. "It's a classic."

"But what is this? I can't read this. It's another language."

I looked at him, a bit stunned. Surely he would have realized this by now? "It's Old English. Or maybe it's called Middle English. Anyway, all the books for this course are like this. Look, you have Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain, lots of stuff."

He starts freaking out. He throws his hands in the air. "Are you kidding me?" He calls for his adviser. "Why did you let me take this class?"

"You told me you could handle it. I told you it was hard."

He is freaking out now, way past add/drop period. Stuck in the class. "I can read a real book. I'll read any real book you want. This isn't a real book."

He puts his feet up on the desk and crosses his arms, like a little baby who is angry that we turned off the television. Only he is 6'7" and weighs 310 pounds. "I can't believe it's not even a real book."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Proof of Corey's Omnipotence

Katy: "[...whine...moan...complain]."
Corey: "[Grunt! Grunt!]" (rustles magazine pages)
Katy: "Man, my knee hurts."
Corey: "Where? Front or back?" (folds down edge of magazine to look at me a bit)
Katy: "The back. It's killing me!"
Corey: "Your seat is too high." (puts magazine back to face)
Katy: "Really?"
Corey: "Mmm."
Katy: "But how do you know this? You knew just like that it was my bike seat? This is amazing! How can you diagnose like that? Do you have magical powers?"
Corey: "Mmmmm. [grunt, grunt, monotone sounds]."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Morning Confessions

I do bad things sometimes. Today, I am having remorse. Perhaps this is because of the upcoming Yom Kipur and I am feeling I should atone since I married a Jewish boy?

Once, a co-worker from the pill factory sent me a filthy email with an unwelcome filthy video attachment. I couldn't figure out how to find or delete it from the computer. (This was long ago, when my family first got a computer and before I learned about Adobe products) A few years later, my mom found the video on the hard drive and blamed my dad for downloading it and I let him take the rap. In my mind, I viewed this as payback for him blaming me for breaking the VCR in 1986, when I most certainly did not break the VCR. My mom screamed and yelled at him for downloading gross porn. I sat on the sofa and snickered.

I don't really go outside my house without checking first to make sure the neighbor isn't out there. She is extremely old, foreign, and completely deaf. Yet she refuses to wear a hearing aid and can't understand a word you say. She thinks I'm a housewife because I work second shift and she thought my teammate was my mom AND we tried to invite her to our housewarming party for a week, but she had no idea what we were saying. During the party, numerous guests encouraged her to come sit down and she just stared. Whenever shes spies me dumping stuff on the compost pile, she yabbers at me for 20 minutes and I am unable to respond or interject because she is deaf (or doesn't care?). And I just feel enormously bothered by her. Last week, she put her house up for sale and I felt a wave of relief because I can go get the paper or check the mail or even walk out back and look at my rosemary any time I want now.

Last night, I took Corey's last piece of Bazooka. On purpose.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Donna's Bean Salad

I'm in heaven right now. I seriously mean it. I have just eaten the most amazing thing in the entire world, prepared originally by Corey's cousin Donna and remade successfully by me, with things I grew. This bean salad is satisfying, protein packed, and makes you think of all things summery. Here is the recipe:

One can black beans, juice drained
One can red kidney beans, juice drained
One can white cannelloni beans, juice drained
One green pepper, chopped into chunks
One red pepper, chopped into chunks
One half a red onion, chopped into tiny bits
Three plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
Two cloves of garlic, minced
A hearty shake of really good balsamic vinegar. Like a half cup maybe. Not crappy balsamic, but the REALLY good stuff
A hearty does of olive oil
A whole bunch of fresh basil (this is the part I grew) torn up

Dump it all in a bowl and stick it in the fridge and amaze yourself. You'll die. And then you'll come back to life and eat more of it. Unless you're Corey and you refuse to eat beans. More for me!


This semester, the teacher of one section of basic writing, in which 13 of the 15 students are student-athletes, is having them read and write about education. It's like she's having them continually ask, "Why are you in this class?" and they are finally starting to really listen to the question.

This week, they are reading a piece by Mike Rose. In it, he writes about the low expectations and low results from tech-prep courses for inner city kids. He has a line: "Students will float to the mark you set for them." I have been amazed and pleasantly surprised to talk with my students about what this means to them. They are beginning to see themselves in the work. They'll say things like, "Nobody expects them to do anything, so they don't do nothing. This is kind of like me!"

I'll ask, "Whose fault is it that the students are doing poorly in class?" Last week, in response to a similar essay, they all said, "The kids! They need to work harder." Now, after reading Rose and seeing the teachers using racial slurs, ignoring them, paddling the South LA students, my students look up at me timidly. When I ask the same question, they say, "The teachers? Because the teachers don't respect the kids? So the kids give up?"

Regardless of opinions on fault for the current state of education, nobody can deny that these kids are interacting with writing. They are responding and making statements, analyses. I feel so much hope right now. I just know good things are happening in that classroom.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I have decided a few things:

1) Because of the bus cuts, I cannot depend on the bus for transportation anymore. It's impractical to use an hour to journey 4 miles from campus to my house. If the weather is too poor for bike riding, I will have to drive and hurt nature or Corey will have to pick me up at work at night, and also hurt nature. The Port Authority bus cuts have just increased my family's carbon footprint, but I can't get home from work later than 10pm when I get off at 9. I just can't do it. Goodbye, 71A.

2) I will wear shoes from now until April, possibly May. The temperature has dropped such that I can stand to cover my feet. Perhaps because my rhino hide callouses don't breathe, I can't bear to have anything touching them unless it is under 70 degrees. I get too hot. My whole body heats up. It's like my feet are space heaters. Even in winter, I tend to leave them sticking out from the covers just so I can stand myself. The lovely fall weather has come and so I will wear shoes instead of $1 rubber flip flops.

3) Corey and I will have date night on Fridays. As tempting and important as team dinners sound before our matches, I need to spend time with my husband. It's terrible to wake up after he's left for work and get home after he's in bed. I see him less now than when he lived in the filthy bike house in college and I refused to go in there. We already have two cool dates lined up: the Chihuley glass exhibit and the Nakashima exhibit. We're very artistic and refined. Ha! After each date, we will ride our bikes home and sit on the sofa in our underpants eating nuts and watching Trailer Park Boys. (With the shades down, of course)

4) We will get a driveway. I may have mentioned that our house has a driveway, but it is narrower than any motorized vehicle except a motorcycle. We've been putzing around getting a contractor to remove the curb and enormous bushes, thus making space for a car. Well, today is street cleaning on one side of the street. Corey rode his bike to work, so we have two cars at home to finagle. I was headed toward the last empty spot on our block when I noticed the little old man from across the street also headed for that spot. We had a standoff. I won. He had to go park down the hill and I feel badly about this. I can picture him now, still limping slowly home...We shall have a driveway and this will never happen again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Today I got home from work at 10pm. Corey was already in bed, the lights were all off, and the house was dark and lonely. Though I finished tutoring at 9:03, because of substantial bus cuts this means I can't get on a bus until 9:35. When the 71A rumbles past, it is so full that the journey home takes an additional 15 minutes as people shift around and grumble.

But that is besides the point. I am feeling really down right now, because I wake up so early and work on my thesis or other schoolwork until I have to leave for class and work, usually with two meals in my bookbag. When I get home at 10pm, without seeing my husband, I just feel lonely and sad. Is graduate school even worth it?

Obviously I won't have completed 2/3 of the work to just quit now, but I say with all certainty that this will be the hardest 8 months of my life. April 28th, how I long for you to come and go so I can rejoin the world of the living. And maybe even make it to rugby practice. Or go out to dinner with someone. Or even eat dinner sitting down...

Monday, September 10, 2007


As I walk toward the 71A today (which I'm taking because Corey will drive me home later after our night classes end), I pass the little church in my neighborhood. As usual, there is a funeral. Today, a man stands outside playing the bagpipes. Amazing Grace. The mourners pour from the church sobbing and weeping. I suspect the dead person must have been young or died unexpectedly. It makes me sad.

At the bus stop, there is an ancient lady. She reminds me of Straga Nona. She is hunched over one of those walkers with tennis balls as breaks. Her swollen legs are rotting and diseased, crusted in yellow lumps. She is talking in broken English to the other passengers at the stop, who read newspapers and shift uncomfortably away from her. When I get there, a man is passing with a little shitzu and she asks him if the dog bites. Of course the shitzu doesn't bite, but comes up and licks everyone. She pets him as he kisses her dying legs.

The woman nudges closer to me and tells me about being bitten by a dog in her youth, a lifetime of fear of dogs. She goes off on a tangent, telling me children are guardian angels. Do I have any children? She thinks they are God's blessing. She has raised five, each 14 months apart. Now she has 3 grandchildren. I somehow reveal that I just got married, though I generally wish she would stop talking to me. Suddenly, she is patting my back and telling me I'm a glowing bride. She hopes God will bless my womb with fertility. The bus arrives (not my bus but hers) and she hobbles inside screaming about God's blessings--the babies!!--and having everyone hope my husband and I will have many.

Friday, September 07, 2007


When I read the placement tests for two of the students I would be working with this semester, I must admit I cringed. I sucked in my breath. This was going to be a hard term. But yesterday, I met these kids and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The first kiddo sat down and talked to me about colonialism and understood that the US was disinclined to do anything about the Rwandan genocide because they had no resources we desired. Anyone who has seen Freedom Writers or this season of The Wire understands that our urban youth are not typically exposed to this level of history for any number of reasons.

I was floored by how bright this kid was and stunned by my first real experience seeing a learning disability. Here was a kiddo who knew his stuff, really knew what he wanted to say, but because of a misfire somewhere in his brain just can't write it down the way he says it out loud. I felt so honored to work with him, and also like I wasn't doing much as he picked the paper up from the printer and recognized on his own the places where he needed to make changes.

This tutoring session of delight was quickly followed by another student who opened up to me immediately. Their assignment was to write about language and power, and he offered an example of a time a girl called him a dumb jock. He so emotional, telling me how that has stuck with him for years and all he's ever wanted to be was smart. I wonder how far he would excel if he were given time to be a student? As it is, he only got off the field and into the writing lab at 8pm. Today he's in at 9am after lifting weights since 6am. No wonder he's behind in school. I told him I thought he was very smart and pointed out places he used nice language and good descriptors in his paper. He then told me the girl who called him that asked him to dedicate his next touchdown to her. I hope she got pregnant at 16 and works at McDonalds. She is a mean girl.

I still have some cocky attitudes and some potty mouths to concentrate on, but as long as these sessions are punctuated with the two hard workers I met yesterday, I will enjoy every second of my day.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dollar Cupcakes

Today is a fantastic day for all students in Pittsburgh. We can each receive a fabulous cupcake from Dozen for just $1. You better believe I was up and ready to be there when the doors opened. I headed to Squirrel Hill at 9am, figuring I would do my grocery shopping and take advantage of the parking lot so I could walk for my treat. (The thought of parallel parking on Murray gives me chills!) Because I am a methodical shopper, I finished way too early and found myself outside Dozen at 9:45, too soon for the ten o'clock feast.

I decided that only a loser would sit at the little table outside and wait for the opening. Instead, I did a very classy and dignified thing. I walked across the street to the bookstore and pressed my face against the window, waiting for the owner to come turn over the little "closed sign."

I was third in line. Somehow, my sprint across the street was thwarted by some jerk on a scooter. It doesn't matter, though. I still got a divine delicacy all my own. I have the crumbs on my pants to prove it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weddings and Bicycles

My wedding performance did not go too terribly. I got to hear a snippet of a video my uncle took and I didn't sound like a cat in heat. Also my dad told me, "Hey Katy! You didn't even mess up too bad. I was listening for you to go flat!" So there you go.

I was pretty pleased until I saw some photos and discovered that not only did I squeeze my entire face into a contorted wrinkle, but I was also sitting with my legs spread apart. In a dress. Thankfully, my upper thigh "muscles" hid any possible view of my lady parts.

After the wedding, Corey and I rode our bicycles on two interesting trails. The first was a reconstructed rail trail called the Perkiomen Trail near the farm where we got married. There were many other riders and great lumps of horse dung along this tranquil little piece of gravel that winds all the way to Philadelphia.

Today, we rode the PA Turnbike, which is a 13-mile stretch of abandoned Pennsylvania turnpike. Originally, the road tunneled through two mountains, but went down to one lane in either direction upon reaching the two mile-long tunnels. This was decided to be inefficient and the government re-routed 76 over the mountains. Now, the passage is an interstate with no cars. Just bikes! It's pretty rad riding into the massive highways tunnels, though we didn't have our lights on and I felt swallowed by darkness. I was being a big baby and got off and walked the bike. You could see the light at the other end, but I kept fearing bats or snakes or homeless murderers. Also, it was cold in there. Corey, of course, pedaled on fearlessly and was riding circles around me as usual.

Altogether, the rides were only slightly more painful than playing the violin for a few hours in a row Friday and Saturday, which raised some blisters and calluses on my fingers. I feel like I could use a good backrub and a nice book on PA highway history to chillax for the rest of the extended weekend.