I wasn’t going to feel “old” when I crossed the decade marker into “thirty” until I went “home” for a week and realized all my memories are getting dated and photos from high school are fading already. I watched my son at Vacation Bible School in the same room that, 15 years ago, brought joy to my life as a high school youth group member, then 10 years ago where I led Vacation Bible School in college.
The teenage volunteers in my son’s program were probably the preschool children I taught in 1999. And now I’m the mom.
All those completed circles gave me something to think about.
I feel as though I’ve lived many lives already (and I know – I’m not even old by any standard except my husband’s!). The boyfriends and summer camp friends from high school that weighed with such importance then seem not only trivial now, but lifetimes separated from the person I have become. I can hardly imagine myself a brazen high school youth minister at the age of 19, just barely older than some of the teens for whom I was responsible. Did I really convince 20 people from my floor to trek to the spaghetti dinner at church when I was a freshman?
Show me a photo of a child I saw weekly for an entire school year when I volunteered in the schools during college, and it’s highly likely I can’t pull his name through the lifetimes it takes to get there. To reach back a mere single lifetime ago to my teaching time in third grade at a local Catholic school requires great effort of reminiscence. I worked so very hard and poured my life into that classroom…does anyone remember me? Would I still remember how to do the job?
If you’ve followed Kitchen Stewardship for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed I can get very personal, and also that sometimes I’m a big stuffy pants who does research and talks through her nose. I’ve never been much for consistency! 🙂
Today is a little birthday indulgence for me that hopefully will be a fun visit to my brain for those readers who feel like they know me already (watch out for what you wish for!). In honor of turning 30, I give you:
30 Random Things About Katie
(which, in true Katie style, cannot really be called a list, but more of a collection of 30 little stories, or, what happens when Katie sits down to try to write a “list.” Sigh. Sorry ’bout that.)
- I knew how to multiply and divide before I left kindergarten. Still had to learn multiplication and division in third grade.
- I’ve always been a writer since before I knew the alphabet and wanted to be a teacher the second I knew what a teacher was.
- One of my nicknames in elementary school was “Miss Priss.” I was not an expert in social skills at the time. Luckily social media gives me the chance to edit and revise my statements before making them public… 🙂
- I was the shortest kid in my class until somewhere in middle school, which meant I was always on the end of the line for 12 years of dance recitals.
- I got my first pair of new jeans in sixth grade. The popular girls were quick to notice…
- I went to Germany for a writing conference when I was 14. My world was torn wide open by the fresh perspective of life outside my hometown, tucked away in the northern corner of Michigan, population 3500, where everyone kind of thinks the same way.
- I dyed my hair purple, once. It was temporary. But it felt good to defy those who would torment me for failing to be socially acceptable. By setting my own standards, I could escape the feeling of falling short of expectations.
- My friends once counted 18 colors in one outfit (see above for explanation). That was not when I was wearing my cheerleading uniform. (Does it surprise anyone that I was a cheerleader? A fierce, “Yes, cheerleading IS A SPORT,” kind, too!)
- While discerning religious life at age 16, I broke up with a boy and then fell for another, one who wrote me poetry titled in Latin and knew what the word “flume” meant.
- I taught fourth and fifth grade religious education my junior and senior years of high school, even preparing kids for Confirmation.
- I was blessed to attend World Youth Day ’97 in Paris, France, and got within 15 feet of Pope John Paul II, who will always be my hero. The same summer I missed my town’s festival queen’s pageant that I always dreamed of winning, because I was in four European countries with one student from each U.S. state and Canadian province, another truly defining experience in my history.
- My hometown has an average graduating class well below 100. At 94 strong, my class was on the large side. I was one of four valedictorians and turned in a speech for the principal’s review that was completely different than what I said to my classmates. (Um, yes, I’ve always been a rebel, and always been last minute. I finished the speech the morning of graduation.) The boy behind me in the procession line teased me that I made him cry; he was killed in an accident before turning 20.
- I met my husband at a scholarship test for high school students before we ended up on the same floor at Michigan State University. We remembered each other immediately. I broke his heart because I had sworn off boys for at least a semester so I could concentrate on friends and studies. We started dating three weeks into the second semester!
- About that time, my new best friend and I accepted a shared job as directors of Youth Ministry at our campus parish. We were paid for 12 hours a month and worked 20 or so hours a week (this is sounding familiar…isn’t that what I do now?). We were very good. But we almost lost our friendship in a dorm room the size of a closet because we did too much together, and I’m too stubborn. I often thank God that my friend knew when to bail and let me go solo so we could still be best friends today. She’s my son’s godmother. She’s very, very good at that, too (halfway down that post).
- I prepared those kids for Confirmation, too, and we’ll be going to a wedding of one in September. I also accompanied a teen to the hospital for psychosis and watched others move in and out of various addictions.
- I spent two summers as a waitress. I loved it: the people, the challenge, the exercise.
- I went a month in college without a microwave and thought I’d nearly die. Ironic.
- I also survived on quite a bit of Pasta-Roni and Hamburger Helper. Ironic again.
- I didn’t have a TV when 9/11 happened and didn’t find out about it until I went to noon Mass at the Cathedral and there were a dozen priests praying for world peace and “the tragedy.” I can still feel the chill down my spine and raised arm hair as I tried to figure out what exactly had gone on that I didn’t understand.
- My husband-to-be and I spent our spring break that year in Washington D.C. and New York City. We saw the gaping hole where the towers had been and heard stories of the day from the mouths of real people. Even now I can see the window blinds flapping in a tree near a church at ground zero, read the sign in the nearby deli saying, “As a result of the events of September 11th, we are struggling to remain in business. Please ask your friends to help support the local businesses in this area,” and feel the palpable thickness in the air of a city still recovering from being attacked.
- First graders in the fall 2001 explored Cuisenaire rods by making two vertical towers and knocking them down over and over.
- As part of his marriage proposal, my husband announced to me that he had landed his first “real job” out of college and could provide for me. By the time of our wedding, his boss was convicted of white collar crime, and neither of us were employed.
- I came home from a job interview saying, “That guy is nuts. There’s no way he’s hiring me.” The next day I was signing a contract to teach third graders for that very man, who turned out to be the ultimate best boss I could ask for.
- We are proud that we saved ourselves for each other on our wedding day, and we learned Natural Family Planning as part of our marriage preparation. (Want to know just one reason why?)
- When we stopped using the ultra-conservative rules of the method, we conceived immediately. (And no, I was not eating a real food diet at the time. Not even close.) We were scared at first, but in retrospect, every Mommy friend I treasure is a direct result of the perfect timing of my son’s birth.
- I was able to teach six hours a week in a learning resource room after Paul was born, a job for which I was not qualified but enjoyed stretching to learn. That too, would not have been available had we conceived on our timing, one year later.
- My husband, a computer programmer, worked from home one day a week to stay with Paul for three hours while I taught. Their bond is exponentially stronger because of that time.
- I spent about 8 months cooking weekly meals for unwed pregnant women in a Christian-based program to support their parenting or adoption decision. Mentoring a 22-year-old mother of four children, two of whom she was raising, was one of the most eye-opening and challenging experiences of my life. The last time I saw her was the night before I gave birth to my daughter, and most of the people at the program’s graduation thought I was not due for a few months.
- Striking the balance of parenting two children was tough for me after doting on one for three years. I hope my patience never again gets as low as it did in the first few months of Leah’s life.
- I didn’t know what a blog was until November 2008, when this happened, and then this.
Well, that certainly WAS an indulgence, eh? It’s my birthday week, and I’ll write what I want to! (Can you hear my whiny, self-involved voice? It won’t happen again. Yuck.)
Thank you, all, for being part of the next list of 30 random things that I’ll write when my wrinkles are deeper than the gap in my front teeth and things are sagging dangerously close to the belly button. This blog has been a wild ride, and a fun new chapter in my many lifetimes!
This post is entered in Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.