Saturday, April 28, 2007


So I was at the dollar store (formerly known as 99¢ Forever ) to pick up some supplies for my lesson at church tomorrow, and you’ll never believe what I found there...

That’s right. 8 Fancy Erasers. What I shall do with them all remains a mystery at present. I gave Lauren and Donald one apiece, but I still have six… I don’t know if I’ll do that much erasing in my whole life.

Plus I’m not sure if I could bear actually erasing with one of them, not sure how I'd feel about the gradual wearing away of their brightly colored bodies from the long term effects of friction.

Man, they have so much spunk! Just look at them… Aren't they superb?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sometimes the world is so beautiful...

I can change the world with my own two hands
Make it a better place with my own two hands
Make it a kinder place with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands

I can make peace on earth with my own two hands
I can clean up the earth with my own two hands
I can reach out to you with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands

I'm going to make it a brighter place with my own two hands
I'm going to make it a safer place with my own two hands
I'm going to help the human race with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands

(Jack Johnson & Ben Harper)

Walking back from campus, I passed little beds of freshly planted violets, all brilliant shades of tangerine, plum, raspberry, and buttermilk. I saw that the gardening crew was taking a break next to the sidewalk and I asked, sure they would think I was crazy, “Can I plant one?”

“Of course!” the woman said. “There’s a whole bed over here that we still need to do. Which colors do you want?” I selected two cases of flowers: one of deep purple and one yellowish-orange. The woman and man directed me over to the other plot and helped carry supplies. “But… where should I plant them?”

“In the front there, anywhere you want. Thank you so much.”

“No, no! Thank you! I was just wishing I could do some gardening, and now I have the chance.” It was simply fantabulous! So much freedom, so many little flowers to insert into the welcoming soil. The garden crew left me there with a small shovel and the two boxes of flowers. I began with a ring of purple flowers around the low evergreen shrub. Then a larger ring of the yellow ones, staggered slightly from the purple ones. The sun was warm, there was a lovely spring breeze. In the lull between classes, the students and staff were more laid back, they smiled and waved, or even said little comments. “What a great day for that!” or “Makes me want to go home and do my own.” I started working on the same pattern around the second bush.

My friend Justino walked by. He kind of chuckled at me a little, sitting there in the dirt with my knees covered in bits of soil and leaves. But then I asked him if he had ever planted a flower before. His eyes perked up but his body was uncertain. You know, as if he didn't want anyone to see him planting flowers. “You just dig, and then put the flower in and then cover it again?” “Exactly!” I gave him the trowel and carefully removed a yellow flower with its roots from the package. He placed it in the hole and covered the base over with some of the soil, immensely pleased with himself as he patted the surface flat around it. “See?” I said. “Now you can see that flower every time you walk by and remember that you planted it!” He laughed again and headed on his way, being sure to point out to the gardeners further down the sidewalk that he had planted that yellow flower… that one, over there.

I finished that bush and moved on to the next one, which was under a slender willow (?) tree. My hands were covered in dirt; it had accumulated in thick crescents under my nails. I squished lumps of soil between my fingers and let it crumble back to the ground. Is there a better way to spend a spring afternoon?

“Awww… don’t sit on her.” I looked up to see a kindly older man. “Don’t sit on her.” I stood up and realized I had been sitting on a memorial plaque. “She was a wonderful woman. Back when I was the dean of students, Betsy was my secretary. She succumbed to cancer.” The plaque said 1998… way before I was here. “She always had a big beautiful bowl filled with candy. Students and faculty from all over campus would come by and she would always cheer them up if they were having a bad day. And she always had candy for them. And she was great with customer service. People would call any time morning or afternoon, and she would make them feel like they were the most important thing in the world. Some day you’ll have to come by my office up there on the third floor, and I’ll show you a picture of her. She was a wonderful woman. Thank you for taking care of her plot here.”


Finally the gardening crew woman (whose name I found out was Kathleen) came back. She admired my little circles of flowers and began sifting mulch with a pitchfork to cover the bed. “How long have you worked here?” I asked.

“Oh a long time… six years.” We chatted about school, graduation, jobs, and her dreams of pursuing a degree in art. She didn't see how it could be practical though.

“You know what is a good field?” I said. “Graphic design. You know, like on computers.”

“Oh yeah… I was thinking of that actually. My mom says I should just go for it, but I don’t know.”

“You should do it, if that’s what you want. It’s never too late.”

“Yeah. Maybe. May-be…”


Why is the world beautiful? ...because you just sit there digging in the dirt and these amazing people come along and share themselves with you: their stories, their lives. And as you go on, you realize these little strands have begun to form, even in those few short minutes. You feel yourself being gently woven into the larger web of common humanity.

It was a day of thanks.

(Donald is visiting Lauren and very pleasantly agreed to photograph the lovely dirt under my fingernails)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Ok... apparently I suck at them. I didn't recognize him when he came in the room because he was wearing a hat.

Give me a break!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

For Beth, before she goes to Hungaria

It was late one spring evening when they heard the call. From every corner of the forest they came. The smooth ones rolled along easily, the less symmetrical ones hurried in from all directions as well, wobbling with their lopsided gaits. It was rare that Granite Granny would summon them under the cover of moonlight for a secret meeting of the Midnight Rock Council.

The first to arrive was Pumice Pam. She glided softly in, barely skimming the mossy floor. And Sandstone Sam, significantly smaller since the last meeting of the Council, what with all of the exfoliation. Next arrived the fiery Felicia Flint and her best friend, slender Silvia Slate. Gradually the rest trickled in: Marbled Mable, Michael Mica, Sean Shale, and of course Frank. Nobody really knew what kind of rock Frank was. But he was a rock at least… unlike Coarse-Aggregate Carl who was actually a chunk of concrete. The Council allowed him to listen in, provided he stayed a significant distance from the group and kept quiet the whole time.

They all huddled around Granite Granny to hear what she had to say.

(to be continued...!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

I am a liar. Well, not exactly a liar. I did not wait until after the FE Exam to change the layout. However, I didn't change it myself either. The awesome Mr. Tetto was kind enough to supply the HTML skills necessary to insert the image at the top. You like?

For serious, though, I am banning myself from all forms of diversion, including the following:
  • friends (unless they are in need)
  • BBC News
  • goofing off
  • fooling around
  • daydreaming
  • dress up
  • Craig's List, Boston
  • blogs/forums/Facebook
  • pondering the questions of the whole world...
So, I'm sorry, buddies. You will not be hearing from me until next week. I need to review the cumulative knowledge I've acquired over four years of schooling (!) If I can just get through this review book, I think I may be all right for getting through the 8-hour exam. Ahhh! and Yikes!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Like the beloved Schroeder I'd like to acknowledge my deep appreciation for the man called Beethoven (despite the fact that he never had his picture on a bubblegum card). It would be sweet to know more about music and music theory and all of those cool terms that my sister throws around, like "counterpoint" or "chord progression." If only I had the vocabulary instead of just my own feeble words to do his music justice.

Haaa! I'm gonna do it anyway...

I love how the chords pour from the piano in rich buttery cascades, wrapping around my body and seeping into my soul. You feel like a voiceless beggar, a wretched sinner, and finally, a fully exalted creature, a child of the Most High --- and all of this in the space of fifteen minutes!

And that is just what I love about it: his moodiness... how the stretches of darkness - of total despair - make the joy that much deeper and meaningful when it finally does arrive. There is just some music that does it for you, ya know?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sans Training Wheels - II

While we're on the subject of my bicycle, I would like to write a bit of an ode, since it has now been my companion for almost ten years.

To my bicycle:

I think we both remember that one spring day in 7th grade, that day I confidently made the trip to the bicycle store with my parents. After test-driving several different models I finally decided upon a black hybrid Specialized bicycle. You had an adjustable seat, thick air-filled tires, and amazingly awesome grip shifters. You glided effortlessly across the pavement. Each stride with my feet sent us sailing down the street, together. I descended hills like a breeze and could climb them again almost as easily. I was so pleased, so proud to be seen with you, and I imagine you felt the same about me.

However, I don't think you remember what life was like before I found you. With six of us kids under one roof and my mother possessing [u]naturally frugal tendencies, we never had new bicycles. As I recall, my first bike ever was a hand-me-down that my dad fixed up and spray-painted magenta at my request. That hot-pink beast was so old that it had solid rubber wheels instead of the typical pneumatic tires one usually sees. Likewise, it had a metal cover over the chain mechanism so I wouldn't scrape my little calves and a hole at the end of each handle where the previous owner had plucked the plastic streamers. I fell off that bicycle often, but each time I climbed back up and eventually learned to balance on my own.

I loved my bikes. Each one slightly bigger than the previous, procured from a family friend or "roadside recycling." I loved the thrill of pedaling full speed down the hill in front of my parents' house. But I dreamed of the day I would have a REAL bicycle with handle breaks and gears. Yes. Gears. Or at least gear changers. At the time I didn't really understand the purpose of these integral bicycle components, but I assumed they had something to do with that sophisticated clicking noise that the bikes of more mature people made (now that I am older and wiser, of course, I realize that the clicking comes from the ratchet in the rear wheel, not the gears at all). But that sound is still just as lovely --- if not lovelier, with you --- as we soar down hills.

Anyways, as soon as I was old enough, I started babysitting with vigor (although why parents trusted their precious children to my eleven-year-old care is a bit baffling... and probably a whole other story). I saved all of my earnings and... well you know the rest.

But today, as we were riding back to my apartment from the Student Union, I realized that the years have not been so kind to you. Yes it is possible I may have mistreated you a bit. Okay, let's admit it, you are in pretty crappy shape. The chain grinds and clatters against the gears, and your paint is chipping in many locations. The rubber on your grip shifters is beginning to tear. And your seat has seen better days, mainly due to the befuddled neighborhood squirrels who have an appetite for synthetic leather and worn yellow foam cushion.

But, to be honest, you do the trick. I don't race; I don't try to maneuver over boulders and roots on mountain trails. I take you to class or the train station or occasionally to make the trek up the hill to the supermarket. I don't need any other bike than you. And through it all, you have been faithful, loyal, dependable. I couldn't ask for anything more. I love you, bicycle!



Here you are, in all your glory:

Sans Training Wheels

I had a dream the other night that I went to the bike store to get some replacement parts for my bicycle bell which broke last summer.

(The bell itself is actually really cool. It is shiny and metal and has a turtle sticker on the top. However, I guess it wasn’t assembled very securely because I went over a tremendous pothole (granted they are huge where I live) and the whole thing exploded… sending gears and screws and other pieces in every direction. I gathered up the top cover and as many parts as I could find but could not locate the two plastic gears or the black lever you press with your thumb to actually make it ring.)

So in my dream, I went to the store in hopes that I could purchase those missing components. The old man at the counter gestured to a dusty cardboard box in the corner by the window. I peered into the depths and saw that there were only intact bicycle bells, no parts at all. I picked up one; it was heavy and chunky and cost $20.00! I dusted off another, and another… they were all in the same size and price range. Dude, no way was I paying thirty bucks for any of that junk!

And then there was that one rectangular white one that looked like an old-school cassette player. I read on the scratched plastic wrapper about how this one possessed a motion-sensor. You didn't need to do anything; it could sense if people were in your way and would emit a signal. I pressed one of the buttons and it produced a series of whining beeps.


Friday, April 13, 2007

New Image

Do you like the new[t] image (har har...) at the top of the page?

I spent like 5 hours in GIMPshop working on that dumb thing. I don't even think I like it better than the Matisse one I originally had (see below). I was picturing something cooler, but alas, my GIMPage skills are not so hot.

Anyways I ought to go to bed. Enough blagging for this one tonight. Here's the deal: after the FE Exam, which is next Saturday, I'll look up some HTML code and figure out how to make the picture a part of the title bar. I think that would look a lot better kind of spread out across the top with the title running below all of the floaty flowers and green dots.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So my stomach has been a little woozy all day after eating cake batter for breakfast. Yes it is true: the Newt has tried to bake! Two of the people in my group for Creative Non-Fiction had birthdays this week, and, in a flurry of housewifely-ness/craving cupcakes, I decided to bring a little treat to class this afternoon.

Actually, I shouldn’t say “tried to bake,” because those cupcakes turned out pretty darn well, given my past baking transgressions (which include melting the entire stash of Easter candy my mother had been hiding and somehow botching a batch of cornbread such that, no matter how long I baked it, it never solidified).

See, baking is a precise skill, somewhere between art and science. And the thing is, I don’t really do precise very well. That is why chemistry experiments were not my strong suit. I loved physics, though, and, food-wise, I enjoy cooking. It is interesting, but I think that there are baking people and cooking people (these loose categories I also generalize to people who do not create with food). Or at least people to whom one or the other comes more naturally:

  • Bakers are skilled at interpreting and following the directions precisely. And a great baker gets to the point where he or she has an intuitive understanding of the principles behind the directions. However, by nature of the medium, this intuition can never be achieved without the initial precision.
  • With cookers, as with cooking, I think the intuition is the first step, and from there, the precision can be reached. The cooker imagines the dish to taste a certain way and adjusts it slightly by adding different seasonings, simmering it a bit longer, and so forth, until the food acquires the desired flavor.

Ideally, I think a person ought to be able to do both, when necessary. Although I have been training myself to be a better baker, it does not come as naturally to me.

Anyways, as I said, those sweet cuppin’ cakes turned out quite well. Granted, there was a huge range in the sizes, due to uneven filling of baking tray liners, but I can honestly say that the height variability was their main flaw. Well, that, and the fact that one of them slid off of the tray into the slush on the sidewalk as I was walking to class. No real harm done there though, since it landed face up. So, I just sneaked it back onto the tray while no one was looking.

I only wish I had taken a picture of them when I opened the microwave (the soft yellow light reflecting off of their glowing golden surfaces as they swarmed across the lazy Susan… it was quite a sight to behold). For the record, they were waiting in there while I went to my morning class so that the mice wouldn’t snack on them. Yes, we have a mouse problem. No, I did not make cupcakes in the microwave.

In other news, ugh! I had a total Chewbacca relapse earlier today. Those happen with greater and greater infrequency. Still, it makes me sigh… and want to cry a couple of tears. I know I placed an advertisement in the school paper for my dream guy, but now I don’t really imagine I’ll ever be able to trust myself to someone like that again. Loving somebody else is just a scary thing these days.

(I did not actually place the advert.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Qur’an Café

Yesterday while exiting the Student Union, I was accosted by a young woman who cheerfully asked if I would like some free candy in exchange for playing a round of "Islam Jeopardy." Who am I to refuse sweet-mannered people --- or candy, for that matter? So I played and totally got the $100 question (Q: What is the name of the journey all able Muslims are to make at least once in their lifetime? A: HAJJ!!!), a Tootsie Roll and a pamphlet entitled "Dude, What is Islam?" Apparently it is our campus’s Islam Awareness Week, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

So this evening I attended the Qur’an Café. I had never heard a Qur’an reading before, and it was a lovely experience. The Muslim Students Association had put together a slideshow which displayed the English translation of each verse alongside the speaker’s recitation of the words in Arabic. There were also some basic facts about the book of scripture and the religion in general. Did you know that they kind of make up the tune as they go? I did not. I was curious how the readers knew when to change pitch and how long to make each word. I had to ask my friend, and she said that there are different styles for each country, but it also varies from person to person. That must be a lot of pressure to have to improvise like that on the spot, but I guess you would get used to it and gain confidence as you did it more often.

Anyways, everyone at the event was so warm and friendly, and the group provided refreshments which were amazing (for the record, I ate three extremely oversized samosas and am about to pop). Afterwards, this guy wrote people’s name in calligraphy. You can see he kindly wrote Katherine instead of my usual Katie, because it has more letters, so it would look nicer. What a treasure!

The letters go from right to left on the page.

All in all, it was a great day. Now I just need to work on digesting these little dumplings so I can fit in a work out before the gymnasio closes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


So I have been thinking very long and hard about the subject. Based upon my experiences, personal tendencies, and what I admire, I have formulated a description of my "ideal guy." The characteristics I seek may seem odd, but here goes...


One thorough and meticulous man. There is nothing I find more attractive than someone who does a job carefully and well, who is legitimately concerned that it is done correctly, and who takes pride in details. Okay maybe the "nothing more attractive" was a hyperbole, but for some reason I do find that trait mightily sexy in a guy.

He is able to make absolute judgments about situations or actions while taking into consideration the endless possibilities that I tend to raise.

I also prefer the quiet and nerdy type: quiet in terms of calmness and center, not painfully shy or awkward, and nerdy in that he loves gaining knowledge and applying new ideas and facts. This man would ideally share my fascination with the pursuit of spiritual and moral questions.

He takes care of his body. He sincerely loves food (i.e. does not see it as an enemy or a chore), trying new types, and cooking with me. He has a moderate to intense silly side --- even if it is only when he thinks no one is watching.

Finally he has no huge problems with me being any of the following: vegetarian, free-spirited, religious, feminist, goofy, disorganized, or occasionally sad.

What kind of response would it get if I actually posted this as an advertisement?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Blast from the past

I am listening to the soundtrack from the movie Titanic (as if I needed to prove my nerdliness). I still love the third track, "Southampton," even as I loved it with all of my little eighth grade heart when the movie came out in 1997. Despite knowing what's ultimately going to happen, you can't help but absorb that sense of hope the immigrants felt in Going to America.

I also like that funky synth beat that comes in around 2:06.

Ohhh the nostalgia is killing me!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Easter Hiatus

For the two people who read this blag beside my family, I'll be heading home for the weekend (yes, it is Easter). I know you’ll miss all of the updates into my terribly exciting life, but I'll be back Sunday evening with astonishing stories of sitting quietly on a bus for 4 hours, of dyeing eggs and of attending church.


So soccer went exceptionally well. We played with only one man down (our best showing ever), and we somehow managed to tie the other team! Also, ex-boyfriend --- whom we’ll call Chewbacca for no particular reason --- finally decided to make an appearance (after he signed onto the roster and failed to show up for any of the matches).

It is probably a good thing, though, to see him in casual settings, although definitely weird. He had wanted to jump right into “being friends” after a year and a half of dating. But my sorry little heart just couldn’t handle that right away. It’s been a long few months, but I’ve gotten to the point where my life resembles normal again. There are still things I miss. I miss sharing meals. I miss talking to him, kissing him, going on bike rides together. I miss the friendship, the little moments of shared quiet. I miss being shushed for asking questions during movies, finding messages on my voicemail (although my phone is broken now, so I don’t really make or receive phone calls anyway). I miss being missed. I miss him. But not as much now as I used to.

Looking at the bright side of things, there is so much of which I am able to partake now that I am a free woman. I enjoy being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I wouldn’t have gone mountain climbing or snowshoeing if I were still dating Chewie (I think he likes the idea of things more than actually doing them). I wouldn’t have substituted as an alternate for my friend’s dart team or attended the Beaux Arts Ball or danced until two in the morning at 80s night (Mr. Bacca doesn’t really like dancing). I probably wouldn’t have even started this blag. I guess I didn’t realize how much time was wrapped up in thinking about him, in worrying about the future of the relationship (never mind the hours we spent together each day). I also enjoy these feelings of inner giggliness that several people have been stirring recently, and I really like not having to push those feelings away guiltily. As cheeky as it may sound, I do enjoy enjoying the menfolk.

And finally, I enjoy this new freedom to explore my faith. I guess I hadn’t realized, but I really was limiting myself in terms of spirituality while dating this guy. Not that it was his fault, just that he wasn’t into it, and I didn’t want him to feel any pressure from me. But now – now I can ask questions and embrace them with every cell and emotion in my 23-year-old body. I can look for answers that expand upon reason, that enlarge and ennoble it. I can look to different traditions, to Christianity, to Hinduism, to Judaism… I can be comfortable with uncertainty and doubt, and I can begin to heal this self-inflicted spiritual wound.

My one regret is that I wish I had been mean or angry when we broke up. I just cried and wished him well. Come on, Katie, that's the best you could do?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What are ya gonna do?

I was seriously looking forward to a spoonful or two of Nutella as an afternoon snack: smooth, creamy, chocolatey, with a hint of nutty richness. Imagine my dismay to find the jar empty, save the dregs left over where no spoon can reach. Disappointing… to say the least!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The World of Newt

Tonight is my team’s fourth intramural soccer game of the season. We’ve never won or even played a match with a full team. The first one was canceled because the goals were filled with snow (from the giant plow that cleared off the turf field). The second took place in a blizzard, the third in rain so heavy that puddles formed on the field.
Winning… what is that? Scoring on your own goalie… passing to the other team… falling for no reason, with no one pressuring you… that is what I’m talking about. Basically what I am trying to say is I am looking forward to a fun time tonight.
Regarding the traffic light analysis: it did do me good. But not because of the signal colors. Here's a summary of lovely details from today that made me smile:
  • The man with the curly ponytail and earphones dressed as Statue of Liberty. He’s always standing in front of Liberty Income Tax, waving and grinning (I can only imagine because he is rocking out to Led Zeppelin or Hillary Duff) as all of the cars speed up the hill towards Vermont.
  • Sitting on a concrete stump with my bicycle next to me and a small notebook, collecting information about the intersection across from Liberty Income Tax.
  • Waving back at Statue of Liberty man.
  • The kid with a sparkly blue bike helmet and mint colored wrist pads who has been cycling all over creation. I must have seen her at least five times today alone.
  • My pink sweatshirt that used to be E’s.
  • Nerdlings who shyly and awkwardly ask what I am doing.
  • The itty bitty dog on a leash skittering alongside a jogging girl in yoga pants.
  • Crocuses!
  • Looking at all of the garbage along the side of the road (i.e. rusted metal wheel, puzzle piece, torn plastic lei) and imagining stories of former lives.
  • Another girl with TWO itty bitty dogs on leashes (this is almost too much for me).
  • The fact that I figured out the cycle times and phases of all of my assigned intersections.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Life in the Northeast of the USA

When my brothers and sisters and I were younger, my parents would take us out to Walden Pond for the annual “scavenger hunt” during February vacation to alleviate cabin fever. This hunt mainly involved the six of us scrambling to find items such as a stick shaped like a letter, a piece of string, something red, and various other objects unusual to the woods (of which there were plenty, thanks to the summer tourists and suburban sunbathers... I think Thoreau must cry little Transcendental tears each summer when they swarm to the sandy shores)

But anyways, I think I may be in need of a scavenger hunt or something. My brain knows spring is coming… if only because it has been winter for many months and the calendar says 2 April. But if that is the case, then why oh why does everything maintain that same washed out grayish brown overtone? There is no snow anymore; there is no crisp blue sky, just beige.
Things that are beige: dead leaves, dirt, bricks, sidewalk, chain link fence, tree bark, even clouds…
I once read a book that was set near Buffalo, NY where the people became so visually deprived during the winter that they would stare at the traffic light as it cycled through: green, amber, red; green, amber, red… Good thing the current assignment for Traffic Control Systems involves the observation and analysis of cycle lengths for seven intersections near campus. Heh heh.

Seriously though, I miss color. I miss contrast.
Things that I miss (in addition to color and contrast): dark thunderstorms, sandals, humidity, dried grass smell, rotting garbage, street vendors, and crickets. Especially crickets.

My younger sisters, on blogging

I told E. that I was starting a blog, and she asked “Why do you need a blog when there’s Facebook?”

I asked B. what the name should be, and she said Dorkface2000.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

For the penny pincher

For those interested in saving on airfare on this year's summer holiday, here are driving directions from Boston, MA, USA to Paris, France.

Do you not love Google Maps?


Look at me… Blogging. Like a cool blogswoman. Also, look what I found in my bowl of ice cream:

Does the picture show? Next step is to try and make the layout beautiful.

So much to do!