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10 Years: Pre-Chrysalis

A few days ago, when I was going about my normal day-to-day, I had a sudden realization. May is a big month for me: it’s the anniversary of when I moved up here. It’s the anniversary of when I graduated from college. But this May particularly, May 2013, is a bigger deal than usual because it is the TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY GRADUATION FROM HIGH SCHOOL.

I just looked through a photo album my mother gave me not long ago. June 1 is the specific day I went up with all my friends and co-graduates, got my diploma and got finished doing all that. All that stuff, all that work, all that drama, all that changing and screwing up and getting worse and getting better — all that is the quintessential high school experience.

The Katie of 10 years ago is a strange animal. College hit me like a running-tackle-hug, and I tried everything. Everything I could think of. Everything I could get my hands on. Katie of 10 year ago went from being in a sensory deprivation chamber to a fucking technicolor Oz in smell-o-vision. She threw herself into everything, and it has been a wild ride.

It’s weird now, looking back, because I was certain I had gone from a hungry caterpillar in a cocoon to a butterfly. But now…I think I was just an eager grub, working its way to a voracious worm and fighting the urge to get into that pupa stage. I still feel like life is only just beginning, as if my wings are still a sticky, webby mess.

With that in mind, I’ve made a list of 10 things I wish I could tell that droopy-eyed Katie of yesteryear.

1. Get out of your room. Those people on the other side of your computer are great, but there is a world of everything that you’re missing out on. Sit with your parents and have dinner. You’ll miss it when you only get to do it a few times out of the year.

2. You don’t want a car. Not really. It’s a huge, expensive pain. Enjoy those walks to the grocery store. Relish the feel of the sidewalk under your feet, the rain on your face. Smile because you have places you can get to right around the corner that have good food and interesting sights.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Go see someone. You have a problem, and it isn’t just you. Just like you have bad guts and shitty teeth, your brain chemicals aren’t awesome. It gets better.

4. Boyfriends are overrated. I know you’re whining about how much you want to be loved and touched by another human being and that’s great, yeah…but after but so much loving, you’ll want him to go away so you can breathe. You will feel better alone than you ever will with someone.

5. Stop taking shit from people. God, how could you just let them say that crap to you every day? Tell them to shut up and leave you alone! You don’t owe anyone anything. Ever. You still don’t.

6. Stay passionate about writing. Write all the time, if you can. There will come a time when it won’t seem as fun, but drive away that feeling with more writing. Do it now, while you have blessed free time.

7. Learn to cook. And clean. And talk to people. And handle your money. These are all things that will serve you well and will be a lot more beneficial if you start early.

8. Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last. Just kicking down the cobble stones… looking for fun and feelin’ groovy (This may seem like a departure into Simon-and-Garfunkle Land but actually it would be very relevant to 18-year-old me –because everybody went through that stage where song lyrics were the way to describe one’s life at a given time)

9. Take care of yourself throughout college. Take a look at the resources you have in these precious few years where you have benefits of health care, gyms, libraries, career centers…there is none of that in the real world unless you pay for it!

10. You’re doing good. You’re doing really, really good. You are great. You are awesome. It’s not that bad. It can be so much worse. But even in the depths of the bad badness, you will rise above it. That’s how strong you are.

Edit: Things I thought of after the fact that didn’t make the list include 11. Putting vanilla in sodas stops being a fad around 2006, so enjoy it while it lasts, 12. Sushi will never be as cheap and affordable as it is in college, so you should eat as much of it as possible, 13. It will never be acceptable for you to wander around in public wearing pajama pants after you graduate, so you might as well get as much wear in them as possible, 14. Seek out at least a few real adult role models who aren’t roleplayers — this will save you much grief in the future, 15. Enjoy Southern hospitality as long as you can because you will miss it (and booze in grocery stores) when you get older.

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Birdwatching at the Hardware Store

I’m always surprised when a childhood hang-up suddenly grabs my attention.

For instance, I hate going to the hardware store. Comedian Donald Glover said it best when he said that Home Depot is the place where your childhood goes to die. Sitting in my room, listening to my husband talk about the gardening supplies he wanted to get from the hardware store…it all came back to me in a flash of gasoline-and-wood-scented hate. “BEING AN ADULT MEANS I DON’T HAVE TO GO TO THE HARDWARE STORE,” I found myself screaming at him.

He stared at me for a few seconds. His voice got quiet, and his tone took on this interesting mix of both caution and incredulity. As if I was standing a foot away from him, threatening him with a knife if he didn’t agree that the moon was a styrofoam ball. “No…being an adult means you have to go to the hardware store.”

I knew he was right. Being an adult means that no one else is going to fix the toilet for you. Being an adult means that if a door’s not closing or a lamp is shocking you every time you touch it, no one else is going to say, “I’ll take care of it this weekend” and let you get back to Kirby.

I thought to myself that evening how I could make going to the hardware store bearable. I didn’t want a new mailbox. I didn’t need any caulk. What do people get at the hardware store? And I happened upon…this:

I had a mission.

Now, author’s note here: I’ve never done any plumbing. I’ve never owned a hose. I have no experience making DIY (or whatever the kids are calling it) party appliances. But I felt like I owed myself this. I owed myself this small project to take on so I could justify the fact that I was going somewhere I vowed I would never go again when I was 12 or so.

So last weekend, we went to Lowes. Lowest of the Lowes. And as we were making our way through the aisles picking up weatherstripping, a few pots and a bag of soil, I found myself staring up at the rafters. Twenty years after the fact, birds were still getting in, hanging out and generally being threatening.* They weren’t being mopey, though. Hell, no. They were flying around, picking up stuff from boxes so high up nobody will ever buy them, and retreating to some corner.

It somehow made me feel better about the whole experience. Here I was, with a bunch of random faucet parts that I thought I was going to shove into a watermelon to make it into a drink dispenser (don’t ask, I haven’t tried it yet), and there they were, flying around like life couldn’t be better. Even if we were both stuck in a hardware store on a Saturday night.

*The poop is threatening. Not the pigeons, obviously.

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5 of the Best Sitcoms Ever

I’m not certain why this is, but recently I’ve been revisiting some sitcoms.

Now, my relationship with television growing up was very old-fashioned. I lived in the generation where Nick-at-Nite actually showed old sitcoms and dramas: Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Happy Days, I Love Lucy. I usually left these on as I fell asleep at night, the black and white bouncing off the ceiling above my loft bed. If I woke up to go to the bathroom, many times it was to the jingle of Mary Tyler Moore or Laverne and Shirley.

When I went off to college, not much changed because when my boyfriend moved in with me, he informed me that his household rarely turned the TV off. As a result, no matter what we were doing, the television was on something. Usually it was animated. Or had zombies. I still recall after he moved out how weird it was to not have the constant noise, to be alone and silent in the cell that was my efficiency.

Recently, though, my husband and I have picked up a few random sitcoms, and it’s gotten me thinking about the series that have really affected me over the years. I was surprised to realize that some had even affected my writing. Crazy, huh?

Here is my list of the Top 5 Sitcoms of All Time, in no particular order:

1. Scrubs

This series was also my first medical drama. And it is a medical drama, despite what the clip might lead you to believe. This is one of the few shows I’ve seen on TV that could, in one episode, make you cry from both laughing and heart-break.

2. The Office (American Version)

The Office wasn’t as funny to me until I got a job in a corporate environment. Steve Carrell was the best worst boss I’ve ever seen. Also, no, I’m not arguing with you on why the British one may or may not be a superior comedy. I really don’t care.*

*I do, but I just couldn’t get into the British version, no matter how funny Ricky Gervais’ dancing is.

3. New Girl

New Girl is the perfect cocktail of a show. It’s original, interesting and very character-oriented without taking itself as seriously as it could.

4. Community

Being a dork, I saw the Dungeons and Dragons episode before even sitting through the pilot. Then, I picked up the first season on DVD, and within two weeks I had seen the first three. There are references that everyone gets and references only a niche crowd can freak out about. It opens itself to every demographic and then one you didn’t even know existed.

5. Taxi

I know, given the wide range of beasts above this one, I’m sure some of you are like…”Wait, what?” Taxi was this surprise that came out of left field for me. I started picking it up during marathons on Nick-at-Nite and it was the first ‘grown ups’ show that I felt like I actually appreciated. I think for a while I wanted to be a cab driver (that didn’t last long).

What are your favorite sitcoms?