Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Last night after rugby, my teammate Chris had a dead battery in her car. I have had a lot of experience with dead batteries so I was really excited when Chris said, "Hey! Can you give me a jump?" I pulled up, Chris hooked up the cables, I revved the engine a few times, and she was all set to go. But the best part was that three or four of my other teammates stuck around to make sure everything was ok.

They weren't there because it took ten girls to jump a battery or anything like that. They were there to make sure nobody was stuck alone after dark in Carrick. It was awesome. I just really liked the feeling of teamwork, and how it extended even off the field. I don't even know why it all feels so powerful--it was just a few ladies sticking around while Chris hooked some cables up to the Nissan. I guess I just love knowing that because of my sport, a worldwide rugby network has my back. Everywhere, all the time, no matter what. Who doesn't love that?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


My most pressing task yesterday was to make guacamole. I had never done so before, and I put it at the top of my to-do list. I like that. For three years, I have not felt such freedom from worry or responsibility. Just mash avocados with a fork, Katy. What a day.

The feelings of dread and regret are slowly seeping into my head, a whopping two days after graduation, but I just tried to mash them out with that big fork and subdue them. When will the freelance assignments come rolling in? Where will the mortgage payment come from? What if I never publish my book? Mash, mash, mash. It will get done.

I just keep telling myself that it was not a mistake to NOT seek full time employment. I can do this. Mash, mash, mash. By the end, I had a fantastic dish of chunky guac. Today I have a full day of phone interviews and drafts to write, for which I will be paid! Delicious and soothing, guac and peace of mind.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ice Cream, Take 2

Corey and I haven't cleaned out house in months as we've been drenched in schoolwork, so the impending visit of our families for graduation forced us into a cleaning frenzy. It was 75 degrees out even after dark last night, so I needed refreshment. I made us take a break in the 830pm heat to go for soft serve.

The soft serve place overlooking the Allegheny River has been taken over by some zoo-type dorks. It's now called Zebra cream or something. I stared at the menu for a really long time, unable to figure out how to order a regular twist cone. "Corey," I said, "I want swirled chocolate and vanilla soft serve on a cone. That doesn't look like any of the choices. What do I do?"

He remained calm as always. He told me to describe what I wanted, and that it would be ok. I feared they would give me scooped ice cream, but took Corey's word for it. When I did that, a little boy in a visor picturing a smiling zebra said, "Do you want the regular or the Junior Explorer?"

"Corey, what do I want? Tell him to make my ice cream how I want it." I was despairing and stopped wanting to deal with the zebra people or their code words and mysterious fudge brownie placement inside the cones. Corey emerged victorious with my cone a little later and I settled myself on a bench to watch a cute family.

There was a three year old boy with a mohawk, his tattooed dad, and Dom Costa. The Dad was telling Dom that the little boy was only allowed to throw rocks at bodies of water, even if they are camping. He, the dad, has seen too many accidents with rock throwing. "Only in the water!!!" he kept bellowing.

Dom Costa said, "That's a pretty smart rule. I like it." And he and his wife took off. The tattooed dad tried to get the little boy to agree to leave the Zebra cream place, too, since they were closing. But the mohawk kid kept throwing rocks at the river and smearing ice cream all over his face. I think he had the Junior Explorer.

Finally the dad had enough. He leaned over to the kid and said, "What do you want to do? Go out to the clubs? You're three years old. You gotta go to bed, dude." Everyone saw the reason in this statement and we all cleared out. And that's exactly what I did when I got home, too.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Dan Marino will be my commencement speaker. I cannot express how ironic it seems that I would spend three years tutoring football players only to listen to a speech delivered by one as I graduate. What will he talk about? Will he speak about Ace Ventura or never winning a Super Bowl ring, but also never giving up hope of one? Will he talk about the Central Catholic football hazing scandal a few years ago?

I'll be sitting there in my cap and gown AND HOOD, glad that my dad and Corey will perhaps pay attention to the ceremony, and thinking only one thing: If I were 30 years older, I would have tutored that guy and probably helped him write his speech.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I have produced life. I can't get over it. Weeks ago, I stuck seeds in the ground and have been waiting for something to happen. Now that spring has decided to stick around, all sorts of things are happening!

In the front yard, all the raking and hoe-ing I did to get rid of the weeds made space for a secret bed of tulips to spring forth in my yard. Who knew they were in there? They are just gorgeous pinks, oranges, and yellows. I love them every second. Behind them, since I didn't know the bulbs were there, I had planted a row of vining peas to grow up the front trellis. I assumed they would never grow and for weeks they did not.

But one day, they just sprang up a whole inch in the air and have grown taller every day. Soon I'll be able to eat Katy peas! The same thing is going on out back. In addition to a field of weeds, I have cultivated garlic and spinach. My friend Christian confirmed it--took one look in the back yard and said, "Hey! You're growing spinach back there!" He's going to show me which plants are spinach in a few weeks so I can actually EAT something I grew.

Indoors, the seeds I thought would sit in the dirt forever grew up overnight. Literally. I stare at them all day usually, waiting for something to happen. Yesterday, when I got up, they were an inch tall. Tomato plants! One inch tall! I can hardly believe it. I think I might just cultivate something edible. I can hardly believe I am capable of such miracles. Wait til I grow babies!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I took the bus into campus Monday because of all the excitement. I'm not sure what made me think that was a better idea than riding my bike. In the end, it just meant Corey had to ride his bike home and then come get me in the car after midnight when I was freaking out in the pressing Obama crowd.

Anyway, the bus was a nightmare. The 71A, as I have mentioned before, has been cut from ten times per hour to three times per hour. Now, it often takes an hour to travel the 3.5 miles from my house into campus. There are, obviously, still the same number of people who need to ride this popular bus route. So it gets a little ripe in there, particularly on a warm day. On this day, the driver was being extra generous in allowing people in the doors. People were crammed so far past the yellow line that the driver struggled to even open the doors, lest he crush them with the mechanical door parts.

We were crammed so tightly that every stop took over five minutes to maneuver people out of and then into the bus. Women with babies teetered in the aisle; they had nowhere to sit because the seats were filled with the elderly. They couldn't work their way back the aisle because it was so jammed with people. So the babies cried and the moms tried to grab the straps and not tumble.

I was in an aisle seat, reading a book, when a man wearing shorts, a fanny pack, and bright red tube socks pressed his way to the pole by my chair. It was so packed that he had to lean in toward me to stay alive. I spent the next forty minutes with a fanny pack-covered penis pressed against my ear, reeking of cigarette smoke and jiggling when he coughed.

Pittsburgh Port Authority, I implore you. Use the drink tax revenue wisely. Balance your books. Restore the number of 71A routes to the necessary number and stop doing this to people.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Obama Rama

Yesterday, I was part of a really inspiring rally to support Barack Obama. My friend Patsy and I had it all planned out. We would meet to get in line, approximately five hours early, complete with picnic food and wine. We brought books, we gabbed, we drank. Then we spotted TG (short for Teddy Graham guy). This poor sap managed to get a Teddy Graham stuck to his back while lounging, not squish it, and then walk around with it clinging to his shirt for awhile.

A few hours went by and a freestyle rap artist named Tony B Conscious began a loud, lengthy, amusing show about Obama, his family, and some t-shirts that support him. The Teddy Graham came loose, but none of the thousands of people in line stepped on it. We decided it was a good omen.

Hours later, after being shuffled around from seat to seat in the basketball arena, we decided to play "Where's TG?" to pass the time until Barack came out, 40 minutes late. There, among the thousands of supporters, was TG...right near Barack Obama. He had a great seat. Obama's speech was worth all the waiting around. I was just so blown away by his genuine-ness, his real attitude of caring. His words didn't seem empty to me and I left the rally actually feeling hope for the country. I liked it.

I liked it even more when I discovered that some of the student athletes had made their way in there, heard him speak, and felt inspired to vote. For these students to actually process what he was saying, to be able to speak about it in more detail than their English papers really meant a lot to me. I was stunned by their inspiration.

So I went to the polls this morning happy, smiling at the memory of TG, wearing my Obama button, eager to vote. But they didn't have my name on the damn list. I updated everything when I changed my name, but it didn't work. I wasn't anywhere to be found, under R, L, or any of the other letters. They just kept saying, "Are you Corey??" and I'd yell back, "NO! THAT IS MY HUSBAND. I AM KATY. CAN I VOTE NOW?"

They had to call in some lady who understood the procedure for these things. She found me a "provisional ballot" and I had to scrounge up a #2 pencil (they didn't have one) to fill everything in by hand. Never fear, though. Twenty minutes later, I emerged having exercised my civic duty. I felt the Iron Jawed Angels shivering with joy at my vote. I like it. I feel powerful. I feel hope.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What I Ate Yesterday

Pre-Match Breakfast
--Two fried eggs w/ cheddar cheese on two slices of whole wheat toast
Astro Van Ride to Columbus
--One Power bar
--One banana
Rugby Social
--Two pieces of sausage pizza
--Two bites from a piece of pizza I thought belonged to my teammate, but turned out to belong to a Scioto Valley player, who just kept eating where I left off because they are classy that way
(I was tempted to enter the Scioto version of a boat race, where instead of just drinking a few sips of beer, competitors must down a piece of pizza and an entire beer. I let our back line take car of this competition, and beat the Scioto Valley forwards)
--One small McFlurry w/ M&Ms
--Large quantities of light beer
Post Rugby Social Food Stop
--One large chicken burrito with the works from La Bambas, eaten mostly for nostalgia as the restaurant had picked up in the night from State College and moved to Ohio State's campus in 2002
Astro Van Ride back to Pittsburgh
--One Dilly Bar from a Dairy Queen spotted from afar on the highway, for which we used my GPS machine to find in a rural West Virginia town
Post-Shower Sofa Collapse into Tiredness
--handfuls of dried apple rings, pita chips, hummus

Friday, April 18, 2008


I just got totally doted on. The Women's Studies department threw an amazing graduation lunch for the undergrad and grad students who completed their certificates. My school doesn't have an all-out women's studies degree, so people come from all over the school for their home disciplines. I mingled with sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, you name it.

The whole room was decked out in brightly colored decorations, and each grad got a beautiful sea-green mug as a gift. The mugs were tied with ribbons that said CONGRATULATIONS. I dangled mine from my bike.

The whole feast was catered by Big Burrito, which means Mad Mex burritos, all the sour cream I wanted, and black bean dip for my chips. I just about died of a food coma.

The more I commented on how nice everything was, the more the women's studies faculty questioned my surprise. They kept saying, "But it's graduation. Of course we're making a big deal! This is really something special!" It was a contrast to my home department. I got a little choked up, and blamed it on all the black beans.

At the luncheon, the WS director lined us all up in front of the buffet and commented that we looked like a team, the way we just subconsciously slipped into two lines and drew in. Even though I didn't mean half those folks until today, I did kind of feel like a team with them. And it was nice. It's darn great to feel appreciated.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quid Pro Quo

My Boss: (gestures at her nose and pushes the box of tissues toward me)

Me: Oh, God! How long have I had a booger? Why didn't any of the students tell me?? Oh, God!

Five hours later....

Me, to student, excitedly: You have a little bit of chocolate on your upper lip there.

Student: (licks his whole face, trying to get the rogue chocolate) Did I get it? That sucks!

Me: Not quite. Still some on there. (Not really, I just want him to keep licking his whole face, because it's funny.) Now you got it.

A few minutes pass.

Me: If I ever had a booger in my nose, you would tell me, right? Because you owe me now.

Student: (Eyes grow wide, looks aghast)

Me: Because I told you about the chocolate. So now you have to tell me if I ever have a booger.

Bases covered.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


For the first time in my rugby career, meaning for the first time since I was 18 years old, I lost my temper during a rugby game. I've been known to sputter a few angry words now and then, or point out loudly when I feel I see some obstruction, but nothing matches what I did this weekend. I strongly believe the enormous stress I've been under regarding graduation built to a breaking point and contributed to my explosion.

We were playing against a team of dirty cheaters. I don't know that I've ever seen such angry cheaters, and even during the first half when I was observing, I was getting angry. I couldn't understand WHY this team was playing nasty rugby. They seemed to be skilled, they had some athletic players, and if they devoted their energy toward good and not evil, they could have been beating us. Lord knows they threatened our goal line numerous times.

Anyway, I came in the game determined to dominate them in the scrums. And we did.* We were stronger than them, pushed them backwards and stole their balls. And they hated it. So their hooker cheated.

She did this terrible thing some hookers do, where she tried to hook my leg up and out of the way, bash me in the face with my own knee. In the process of doing this, she clipped my Achilles tendon with her metal rugby spikes, and it hurt like poop.

"YOU EFFING C WORD!" came hurling out of my mouth. The real words, in all their anger. Everything stopped. Everyone on my team stared at me, nobody knew what was going on, and their hooker tattled on me. (As if the ref didn't hear)

"She called me an effing c word!" She kept yelling it, and saying her leg slipped. In retrospect, I see that the only way she could have known I was talking to her was because she knew she was a dirty cheater. I mean, I could have been talking to just about anyone. But I got so angry that she was tattling on me, when she was the cheater. I put on my teacher voice and I started lecturing her about cheating. I even wagged my finger.

Captain Kelly pulled me back and out of the way so I could calm down and the game just kept going. We won, 5-0.

I didn't like feeling that angry and out of control. Why was that, the most awful of words, the first to come out of my mouth? It's not the Katy I want to be ever again. Events like that just tell me how deeply graduate school is affecting me, and let me see how glad I'll be to see the back of it.

*When I told my coach I thought we did this, he pointed out that we were wheeled a few times. I still felt good in there...*

Monday, April 14, 2008


Today was very strange. I have never, in fact, envisioned something so awful in my entire life. Without going into specifics, my defense did not happen. Instead, there was confusion, me crying, lots of yelling, and agonizing apprehension. The pressure of, for three years, having no idea whether I was on track to graduate came to a bursting point today.

It was a long, drawn out battle and in the end, the director of Women's Studies took control and told me the following things:
1. She thought my manuscript should be celebrated because it was very good
2. She thinks my manuscript is the type of book people use to teach women's studies and gender studies classes
3. She thinks I should pursue publication for the manuscript. For my rugby book.
4. I will graduate no matter what

So today was an ugly day, but it is over. And I will graduate. I have my signatures and I feel relief.

I celebrated this relief, of course, by going to work this afternoon. One of my students, a soccer player from Jamaica, asked me what was wrong. I told him I had a rough day. I used a vocab word I learned on my honeymoon and said, "I had a BUM-be-clot day."

His eyes got wide and he said, "Miss Katy, that is a baaaaaaaaaaaad word, man. Where you hear a word like that?" I told him about the schoolboys on the bus in Kingston and he laughed. He told me he could teach me a new word just as bad to say back if I ever return to Jamaica. I made him write it down.

The word is rassclath, though my student said he is unsure of the spelling. We talked about the word and how I should use it. I asked him, "Is it a noun? Can I call someone a rassclath? Is it a verb? Can I say rassclath you, jerk face!"

He said, "It's what you yell, man, like when you stub your whole foot or something like that. Rassclath, man!"

I think that pretty much sums up how my day felt. Like I stubbed my whole body against a piece of broken glass. Rassclath!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Woah Boy

My thesis defense meeting is set for Monday at eleven. I might die before then. How do you prepare for something like that? So much hangs in the balance!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

As Requested

This past weekend, the second and first year MFAs hosted a barbeque for the outgoing third years. I have been reticent to talk about it, because I still fear I may not graduate. I have not yet received my signatures on my manuscript. (I know, I know...of course I'm going to graduate...but I hate to jinx things like this)

Anyway, after a long time and lots of Lions Head and little luck solving the puzzles in the lids, the MFAs wrote a song for the outgoing grads to the tune of "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie." You see, when a bunch of writers get together with musical instruments, they do things like rewrite dorky songs. I think Corey was horrified...

My verse commanded me to post something about it on my blog. So I'm doing that.

The lyrics mainly discuss my rugby, my student athletes, and my blog. It makes me happy. I spent the serenade blowing into a wooden train whistle and feeling thankful that my fellow students are so caring and awesome. I loved that the MFA community here was supportive rather than competitive among the students as often happens. I like, also, how they've incorporated my new last name as a joke at the original song lyrics, too!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I wanted to write this: Hey, Mr. Angry Truck Driver Man driving too fast up DeSoto Street. You drive too fast on such a busy street where you could hit students. You shouldn't honk your horn like that outside a hospital where people are recovering. You sure as heck shouldn't roll down your window and scream profanities at me and tell me, "Get off the road! Get on the sidewalk, asshole!" You know why you shouldn't do those last two things? Because you are incorrect. The word sidewalk has walk in it because it's for walking. Roads are for tax payers! Even tax payers who ride bikes!

But instead of writing that, I'll write that today the trees outside my work are aflame with pink and red blossoms. The air is warm and Frank across the street is pruning his rose vines. He is cradling his flower bulbs while Anthony and Briana race up the street on their bikes and scooters. The neighbors are walking their baby around. I have back sweat and the windows in my house are open. My heater isn't running, so I'm not paying $7.20 per day to heat my house to the warm, warm temperature of 62 degrees.

I'm sitting on my porch with frozen blueberries and my feet up on the rail while the paper boy walks and hurls the Trib into my daffodils, which I didn't know I had until they popped out of the ground by themselves this week. Spring is here!

My feet won't freeze at rugby and I can hose myself off in the driveway without freezing tonight. I might need sunscreen at my game on Saturday! I feel good.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Today at work, one of my students was showing me some pictures on MySpace. I saw one particularly beautiful one, of a pair of hands and a beautiful baby with huge, huge eyes. I said to him, "Is that you??? Are those your hands?"

He said, "Yeah. That's me and my BM."

"BM?? What the heck is that?"

Everyone in the room stared at me. I imagine that all the heads turned from the computers as tutors and students alike stared at my stupidity. I posited a guess: "Bowel movement?"

He laughed and laughed at me and said, "No, Miss Katy. That's my Baby Mama."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Today, I rode my bike from my house, through Oakland, through Panther Hollow, and into the South Side. It was amazing. I felt so empowered, like I could travel anywhere I wanted without gasoline and it would all be fine.

The first leg of the journey was business as usual, only with added potholes to make things interesting. Then, when I descended into Panther Hollow, I couldn't believe what I got to see. I rode by the steam plant and under the highways. Even the undersides of the industrial bridges are beautiful. The yellow beams crossed in the sun, made interesting was so great.

The trail wound its way across railroad tracks and through parts of Hazelwood before joining up with the brand new bike lane across the Monongahela. The western side of the Hot Metal Bridge, the part that used to be a defunct rail path, is now a bike and pedestrian trail across the river. That was amazing, too! I could look down the river in both directions and see the water breaking against the bridges. I saw a barge go past beneath me. I felt so connected to the city.

The ride HOME was primarily uphill and, thus, much less fun. I feel really great that I got a 14 mile ride in on such a gorgeous day and I feel a sense of accomplishment at discovering a new section of the city. My goal now that I am not holed away writing is to explore this place I have chosen as home. I think this was a nice start.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Toward the end of graduate school, sleep is often a distant thing. Rest? Actual restful sleep? Forget about it. The other night I said something like this to Corey: Can you think of anything in the world that could possibly be more fun than going to sleep? He laughed at me and said, in this order, "Eating beef jerky, riding my bike, being awake." Then he told me that in order of funness, starting with the most fun, he'd reverse that order. Being awake would top the list.

I thought about that conversation a lot this week as I struggled to cope with the fact that one of my co-workers/fellow grad students/friends lost her life. She no longer gets to be awake or ride her bike. She was a vegetarian, so she would never have thought to eat beef jerkey.

All week I've felt heavy and sad for the loss of this person, only 26 years old. She poured her soul into improving the lives of the student athletes we worked with. She gave everything to them and they reciprocated. I loved watching it happen.

Although I didn't know her too, too well outside of work--a few bike rides here, a dance night there, sometimes a baseball game--I know how she loved living things. I know how she would rather explode than see someone print a document one-sided. I know I never look at a lunch box without thinking of her sadness that our consumerist culture has a need for such things as lunch boxes. And I know that she liked nothing more in the world than to submerge herself in water surrounded by nature, trees, flowers, plants, the heavens.

So today I planted lavender. And I thought of her as I did it and I'll think of her each time I water it. I know she had a rough time of things of late and I know she had a long list of things to give the world, and I'll remain sad about her departure. But I also know that she'll be out there when the flowers bloom and with every waft of floral scent, she'll be reminding me to be a more compassionate and loving person. So I thank her for that.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fool

I tried to play a joke on Corey yesterday for Apil Fool's Day, and it failed. My mom told me what she was going to do to my sister Betsy and I copied it. Nance put a rubber band around the sprayer thing in the sink, so that when my sister turned the water on she got sprayed in the chest. I was on the phone with her when it happened. It was wonderful. Betsy yelled, "Heyyyyyyyyy! Ahhhhh! Is this a joke??????" It was so funny.

So I rigged up our sink with a green hair tie. I kept laughing at myself, thinking I was so awesome. I hated that I had to leave for rugby practice before Core Man got home to spray himself, but I kept giggling and hoping he would be wet when I got home.

I got home fully intending to play it cool. I wasn't even going to bring it up until he did. I was going to be smooooooooooth. Only I lost my nerve after about one second and I said, "Did you use the sink today? Did anything interesting happen? Did you like my April Fool's joke??"

He looked at me and said, "I have no idea what you're talking about." When I went to investigate, the hair tie was indeed removed from the nozzle. He said, "Why did you put a hair tie on the sprayer? It was dripping so I took it off."