Traveling Light with Kathleen.

Okay. So. I recently returned from a vacation. And by vacation I mean “Ooh! Look! There’s a brown sign! Maybe it’s vaguely historical! Let’s go see it! I don’t care that I’ve only had three hours of sleep since June 10th! Is there a gift shop? Because I have three square inches in which to place my feet for the eight-hundred mile trip home, and we could totally fill that with something!”

And by recently returned I mean, “Washed most of the clothes but have accomplished nothing else except contemplated making red velvet cupcakes because I have a strange fixation with them all of a sudden* but then decided eh, I’d rather be hungry than roll off my bed where I collapsed on Sunday and from which I have yet to move.”

Anyway, I have some pearls of wisdom for you. I’m not known for packing light. This time,  however, I really tried. I knew it was going to be tight, and I knew it was going to be a long time. So I organized my outfits, and figured out exactly what I needed. How smart was I?

Uh…turns out not so much. Because I used about 1/8th of what I brought along.

So. Here’s a list of Things That You Really Don’t Need to Bring Along with You if You’re Going to be Traveling the East Coast with Rabid History People Who Don’t Take Time to Breathe Much Less Manicure.**

Three sweatshirts. Okay. This one was just dumb. Now, granted, no one had any idea (including the locals) that walking outside in the morning was going to be like being smacked in the face with a poker recently pulled from the flame. That was wet. And soggy. But still, it was June. In the south. I definitely did not need three. And then I bought one. I lost ten pounds of water weight through sweating, but dammit, I dragged FOUR SWEATSHIRTS home.

In my defense, I did wear one once, when we did an evening tour. But I probably did not need my ugly cozy one in case I wanted to be cozy and my cute UWM one in case I wanted to be cute and my Ireland one because it zips and is more like a jacket and what if I wanted a jacket? I would totally need that! NO YOU FOOL. YOU DON’T.

Clothes you know you aren’t going to wear. Okay. Again with the “fairly obvious.” I made a list of outfits. I assigned them to days. I even had a few extra t-shirts in case something got ripped or dirty because God knows they don’t have stores in Williamsburg or D.C. what is this capitalism? Fool. But then…I packed about eight outfits I knew I wasn’t planning on wearing? For no reason? I mean, I love my green dress with the little studdy things around the neckline. But NOWHERE was it on the list.

Every cardigan you own because you are totally going to “mix and match”! No, no you aren’t. First of all, it’s 115 degrees out. In the shade. Second, you are going to grab the first thing you touch in the morning and if it’s the same thing as the day before well, no one knows you here.

I mean, you’re eating soft-serve out of a travel much. Wearing a t-shirt for two days in not the most embarrassing thing.

A bag of shoes. I love shoes. You know this. But this was just ridiculous. I wore one pair of shoes the whole time because they were comfy.

Oh wait, I wore heels when I went to Mass on Sundays. And then took them right off again. But I think Jesus probably would have been okay with my sandals for a few weekends. Really only two, because the first one we went to a Mass of anticipation and I was a hot mess after roaming all over Asheville for the day. I felt kind of badly about that. Especially because people in the south still dress up for church like Baptists or something. Like, hats. And my gross sweaty “London” t-shirt wasn’t cutting it.

So two pairs. That’s really all I needed. I brought boots, y’all. BOOTS. Those would have required long pants. Which…wasn’t going to happen. You’re all lucky there were pants at all.

Long pants, for that matter. Okay, I wore jeans twice, I think. But I really, really did not need four pairs. REALLY NOT.

But, I mean, I needed something to go with the boots I was totally going to wear.

Nail polish. Yes. In all of that free time, I was going to do my nails. In three colors, apparently.

Pumice stone. This is something that, in theory, you should bring along. Because we walked a freaking ton and by Sunday my feet looked like something out of a horror movie.

But you aren’t going to use it. Because it would involve contortions and way too much time in a hotel shower and God, do you know what other people have been in there? EWW GROSS DO NOT WANT.

Perfume. Yeah. I dragged along a full 3.4 oz of Burberry Brit. Because that’s totally going to last through the first three minutes in 112-degree heat.

A bag full of hair accessories. I required exactly one (1) hair accessory. SOMETHING TO GET THIS DAMN MANE OFF MY FREAKING NECK IT’S SO DAMN HOT JUST KILL ME ALREADY.

Ten books. I read a lot. And I did read a few books on this trip, actually. Three, I think. But ten? Are you freaking kidding me?

And, in my defense, I always left them in the car.

Pudding. I also dragged along like four containers of those individual pudding things. Because I totally wasn’t going to want to eat fast food all the time, no sir!

Uh. Yes. I was.

Conversely, there is a List of Things You Should Bring Along But Don’t.

Band Aids. That would make way too much sense. You can steal them from your sister when you massacre your feet the one day you attempt to wear real shoes.

A hat. I should have realized that, at some point, the sun would probably shine.

Liquor. Lots of it.

*I’d waste so much money on pregnancy tests if I were a slut.

**No offense, I’m one of them too.

Is there more than one Andrews Air Force Base?

I was going to do the whole “things you shouldn’t bring on vacation that I totally dragged along the East coast” post thing that I’ve been writing in my head since I had to repack the four pairs of jeans on day two and I realized exactly how dumb I was because it was a MILLION DEGREES. But I’m not going to right now. Because I’m tired and OH SO TIRED.

Instead I’m going to tell you a story about our hotel in Washington. This is one of many hotel stories, but it does not involve bugs or armed car chases or any number of other things (Knoxville. ALL KNOXVILLE.), so it’s a little bit more fun. And in no way is this a story about my sister or blaming her or anything, it’s just OF COURSE this happened.  

So we were looking for a place to stay in Washington. My sister had been there a few years ago with her class and suggested the place they stayed- a Holiday Inn at Andrews Air Force Base.

“It’s fine! I mean, it’s a Holiday Inn, but it was clean and fairly nice,” she assured us.

Awesome. We called and booked it. We arrive (late, of course) and got lost several times and finally found the exit. Colleen kind of quietly went, “Uh…this isn’t he way the bus went.”

Whatever. I’m not crazy enough to mention that to my father, who doesn’t take kindly to backseat driving.

But lo! The exit turned out to be correct! And look! There’s a Holiday Inn! It’s…kind of a bad neighborhood. Like, there’s razor wire in the parking lot. Ookay. But whatever! It’ll be fine! No one in Colleen’s class got killed!

We pull into the parking lot and the car gets really quiet.

“Um…this isn’t the place we stayed.”

Four heads immediately whip around and look at my sister.

“No, really. I’ve never seen this place before.”

Oh, good.

But you know what? It’s a hotel. And there is a room. And honestly we’ll probably only see it for three hours anyway the way we vacation. So whatever, we went in.

(Well, first I have a teensy breakdown and threaten to take my iPhone and go home and let’s see how you get along then, everybody. What? It was a long day.)

While we’re in the elevator Colleen grins and says, “You know, after I told you to book that hotel, I started thinking back to that trip. And I kept remembering more and more of the…janky aspects of that place. I was going to tell you, but there never seemed to be the right time. So…this is probably a good thing!”

So thank you, Colleen, for finding us a lovely place to stay.

It was hard for me, too.

Oh, Wisconsin. I’m back after more than two weeks in the more…difficult…regions of the country. Like those with heat indexes that rival the average daytime temperature on Mercury.

And from what I hear, it’s a damn good thing I’m back. Because apparently when I left you completely lost it. There were tornadoes, earthquakes, buildings collapsing onto people, Starbucks burned down, and our elected officials cease to remember where Arizona is located.

All while I was sweating away about $45 worth of foundation* on a plantation in South Carolina.

SO. Now that I’m back I expect this craziness to stop. All buildings** will remain standing. There will be normal weather. And everyone will realize that Arizona does, in fact, border Mexico.

I’ve missed you. But you clearly need to shape up.

*This will be an entire post all its own because my own stupidity amazes me but makeup? In a heat wave? In the south? Just…pointless. I wasted a good twenty minutes of my life.

**Especially those that the firm that pays my father’s salary has ever gotten near.

Colonial Crazy

I’ve been meaning to write this post since Wednesday night but…well, remember last time? Which I could link to if I had more than six minutes before we have to leave again? But we don’t so I can’t? Yeah. That. Anyway, it was just going to be a funny post because it was a funny story (well, at the time it was a little frightening, but mostly just hilarious.)

Then my sister posted a Facebook status about how she threw a hissy fit. Because “hissy fit” sounds funnier than “breakdown”. But now I can use this to clarify that she did not, in fact, throw a fit like a two-year-old. She had a breakdown. Like a 20-year-old history major.

We begin our story on Wednesday night. It’s like nine-thirty, and we’ve just gotten into Williamsburg. After ten and a half hours of driving. We’re tired, we’re cranky, I’m crampy and bloated and mad enough about it to tell the whole world on the internet- but none of it matters. Because we’re walking down Duke of Gloucester street and it’s the best place in the world.

See, my family views Williamsburg like Zionists view Israel. I’m pretty sure at some point there was milk and honey there, but if not, meh, we’re okay, because Chowning’s Tavern is pretty cool too.

Dude, we’re good with Jesus but that guy playing George Washington is pretty bitchin’ too.

My sister especially loves it. I don’t want to say more than any of the rest of us, but she’s definitely more ebullient about her passions. Especially when she’s been drinking. Like today at lunch. Which is a story for another post.

So when my sister planned this trip, she knew that she needed to give Williamsburg a lot of time. Four days was considered the absolute minimum. Unfortunately, that was really all we could give it, because she had a whole list of other places she wanted to go. But still. Four days. Three solid and then Sunday we were going to go to Mass and then bum around for a little bit before leaving. Which would suck, we knew; but still, four days. Surely. Surely that would be enough.

Everyone was happy, we bought the tickets, booked the hotel room, got excited.

Cut to Wednesday night, when we are literally five minutes into our stay in s. We haven’t even been to the hotel yet.

My sister? Frickin’ loses it.

“It’s not enough time. There’s just not enough time. THERE’S NO TIME!”

“What?”

“FOUR DAYS. HOW COULD I HAVE EVER THOUGHT FOUR DAYS WOULD BE ENOUGH?”

“Um…”

“CAN WE STAY LONGER?”

“Well…”

“WE CAN’T LEAVE THERE’S NOT ENOUGH TIME AND YOU THINK I’M KIDDING BUT I’M NOT KIDDING I’M NOT GOING HOME WITH YOU FOUR DAYS WHAT WAS I THINKING?”

Within about five minutes she had stopped using full sentences completely. She had these huge round eyes, she wasn’t blinking anymore, and she had a delirious look on her face. She just kept walking up and down the street saying, “There’s not enough time. No time. No time. Not enough time.”

Remember, she planned the trip. Such is the power of Williamsburg.

In case you’re worried that she’s still wandering Duke of Gloucester street like a crazy person (now featured on nighttime tours!), she’s not. We got back to the hotel, calmed her down, and eventually ended up cutting Appomattox and Manassas from the trip and we’re staying in Williamsburg for two more days. Which seems to be acceptable because she hasn’t gone crazy.

Yet.

And I don’t have to waste a day seeing a fake courthouse in the wrong place in Appomattox. We’re all happy.

Slight miscalculation.

So! I had planned on blogging frequently on vacation. I mean, I love my family- a lot, in fact. But surely at night after I had leisurely done my nails and updated my Facebook photos I would have time to blog about the day’s events- there could not be that much that we would need to share once we got to the hotel.

(Especially once my dad turned on the TV.)

(Which he does IMMEDIATELY.)

(Whether he has any intention of watching it.)

Um…that hasn’t happened. See, I kind of ignored three things- the way my family “vacations,” the record-breaking high temperatures, and my crappy computer that won’t connect to the Internet.

I mean, my sister and I talk about how we never took vacations- we did things. There was a trip in 1999 when we hit 13 Presidents’ homes. THIRTEEN. And now- well, it’s not midnight yet so you can totally still do Battery Park! Just be careful of, you know, the ocean. Try to walk slowly in the dark! This is wonderful. We get to experience so much, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But it does leave you numbly collapsed on a bed eating some parfait crap you found at a grocery because it’s after ten and you haven’t eaten yet. At which point you think, “Yes, I could walk across the room and log onto the Internet but then who would eat this strawberry-flavored dessert product?”

Second, any inclination that you may have had is immediately zapped by the record high temps, heat indexes of 110 (I’m not kidding.) and humidity that refuses to be tamed by the best of Revlon’s product line. Stepping outside is akin to what I imagine French kissing Satan would be like.

(Not that I imagine that often.)

And finally, well, my computer is crappy and refuses to log on to most wireless connections.

SO. Not a lot of blogging. Except tonight. Because I am comfortably emeshed in a lovely chair in the beautiful lobby of the hotel. I love sitting in lobbies, especially when they’re pretty an we have been out in the seventh circle of hell all day long. A few years ago, my WHOLE family took a trip to D.C. We took my veteran grandfather to the WWII memorial, and quite a lot of other cool things. But one of my favorite memories was when we stayed up talking in the lobby until like 1:30 or something. We were staying at a Hyatt or a Hilton- I forget which one but it was a nice hotel with an “H” and a really nice lobby. We had a really early morning, and while I’m sure I was exhausted, I don’t remember that. I remember staying up and talking in a beautiful hotel.

So despite the fact that I have to get up freaking early so we can get this circus on the road to Middleton before our skin begins to blister in the sun, I’m sitting in the lobby. Because it’s beautiful and we only have two more nights here.

Deep South

I was going to wait until we got to the hotel where I had real Internet and a keyboard and not just, like, an iPhone and some hick’s wireless that he and his cousin/wife stole from their neighbors.

(Yes, we’re driving through the mountains. How can you tell?)

Because then I could talk about how I know what I’m teaching next semester and how I’ve never felt this bloated/starving before and let me tell you what, you feel really disgusting when you are on the road at 2:30.

(Yes, I have pictures of Chicago. In the dark.)

But I’m tired and cranky and VERY VERY Northern and the whole Kentucky-Wal-Mart thing scared me to death.

So! This is an iPhone post.

So long, farewell.

I’m leaving town tomorrow at before the crack of dawn. Don’t get all excited about coming to steal my wicked cool Johnny Depp DVD collection. You see, I have a horse.

Oh, sure, that will stop me, you say. There’s like a fence and everything.

Well, true. But when you have a horse you can’t go on vacation without an army of people moving into your house to take care of that horse.

And people who volunteer to take care of the horse out of the goodness of their own little hearts? Are hardcore, y’all. Like, they scare me.

SO now that we’re clear on that, I know, it’s very sad. But I’m not leaving you! No, no, no. I’m of course bringing my computer because I’m basically the poster girl for Generation Y and the mention of no highspeed wireless in any hotel was enough to knock them permanently off the list of possibilities. The thought of not having the internet for three weeks gives me hives.

And there’s the whole iPhone thing. That’s pretty awesome, too.

And by before the crack of dawn, I mean, well, it’s 9:08 now and I still have two discs to burn and half my stuff to pack and I’ve been told I have a bad attitude twice and OF COURSE I have a bad attitude you just said, “I was going to turn off the water you weren’t planning on showering tomorrow, were you?” No. Because I suddenly became a six-year-old again. In fact, I’m going to sleep in my clothes so that you can just strap me into my car seat and we can go.

Okay. That ended up being not a sentence. Sorry.

My point was that this is turning out to be less of “going to bed” and more of “taking a nap.”

See you all in a few hours!

Wait. Will the BAU be there?

I’ve often had daydreams about fleeing abusive relationships.

I’ve never been in one. And it’s not like I’ve ever really witnessed an abusive relationship. (My parents? Are too nice to each other. Honestly. It’s annoying at times.) I think it’s a product of watching as many CBS dramas as I do. You start out all, “Pssh. I’d never let my husband sell my daughter into white slavery in order to maintain his drug habit and you know what? I don’t always deserve it when he hits me either. Bastard.”

But then you think, wait. I’m not that ambitious. I mean, I let the wind blow over everything in my room today because moving across the room to close the window was oh so much work and eh, I didn’t like that picture that much anyway. I’d probably never actually leave him. And I’d probably believe that I did deserve to be hit.

(Actually. I probably would deserve to be hit a few times.)

(Occasionally.)

(I’m just saying, I’m not easy to live with all the times.)

I mean, I believed Steve Jobs when he told me I needed an iPhone.

So then you feel compelled to begin planning your escape from this abusive relationship into which you have yet to enter. Like packing. These CSI episodes usually take place in trailer parks, so there aren’t a whole lot of furnishings that you really want to bring. But clothes! How could you condense all your clothes?

Well, folks. I can tell you, without reservation, that if I should ever hook up with a loser who sells my children to sex merchants, I could pack all my clothes into one very normal sized suitcase. Because I did pretty much just that this afternoon.

See, I figured denial was probably not a good strategy now that we’re leaving in, like, thirty-six hours. Lists are awesome (they are!) but they really aren’t going to make me any less of a persona non grata when it’s Friday morning and I’m not ready to go.

(I imagine my father, who is obsessed with getting through Chicago before the sun rises, and my sister, who will in all likelihood already be wearing a hoop skirt and answering to the name “Katie Scarlett,” will have to fight over who can maim me first.)

I decided to take everything out that I was going to bring. And…it was a little scary.

Okay. Some of it ended up staying home. I mean, I probably didn’t need two long-sleeve shirts when we’re going to Satan’s sauna. But most of it stayed. And, thanks to packing tips that I learned as a seven-year-old from American Girl Magazine, I managed to fit it all (beautifully, I may add) into this…

SO. If you ever need help packing to flee from your abusive spouse, or just for a vacation, I’m your girl.

Was there air conditioning in the famine cottages?

I’m of Irish descent.

(Along with everybody. I know.)

Anyway, my people don’t like the heat. When Cromwell enslaved half the population and sent them to the West Indies? OH HOW WE SUFFERED.

(Like I was there.)

I really don’t like the heat. I used to think it was because I was slightly larger than I am now and that was why I hated summer and the heat but hey! Turns out no! What I hate about the heat is…the heat. Nothing changes it. Except the clothes I sweat through are cuter now.

When it begins to cross 70, I occasionally rail against my ancestors, wondering why the hell they couldn’t have stayed in Canada where they arrived because then my hair would not be standing two feet out from my head and my mascara wouldn’t have melted down to my chin.

(Yeah. That’s right. They came through Canada. I don’t even have a fun Ellis Island story to tell.)

(Although I am probably descended from illegal immigrants.)

(The courthouse burned and funny thing, ALL THE PAPERS WERE LOST. Gosh darn.)

(That’s right. I’m pretty badass.)

(No. I’m not.)

But I realize now I should be thankful that they didn’t settle further south. Like, even a good twenty minutes south.

We’re heading that direction on Friday, and in an effort to plan out my wardrobe* I checked the weather.

And oh my goodness ALL of those numbers start with a “9”. Oookay. So. That should be fun.

So. Stay tuned for that. Follow me on Facebook. You’ll be able to see my hair grow exponentially.

Along with my angst.

And the size of my pores.

*THIS IS NOT WEIRD. It’s practical. Right? I mean, I don’t want to be in a dress when we’re scrounging around Jamestown or something. Okay, I haven’t been there since I was seven, but I remember a lot of dirt. And I refuse to be shamed by pretty Charlestonians who are all coordinated while I rock cut-offs and a tank top.

That’s a lie. I don’t own cut-offs.

And I don’t know if that’s the correct noun for more than one person who lives in Charleston.

BUT MY POINT IS STILL VALID.

Fetish

Note: I’m not vain. I’m facetious. There’s a difference.

I wear…how shall we put this?…impractical footwear. Five inch heels, platforms, straps that cause serious bleeding- you name it, I’ve been hobbled by it. My mom still laughs about the time I fell off of a pair of wedges in a hotel room.

(Okay. That was pretty funny.)

 My spine looks like a winding country lane and I’ve done some serious damage to the nerves between my vertebrae. I don’t have the heart to tell my chiropractor that my problems probably aren’t caused by my stint as a gymnast but rather the fact that I’m only five two and YOU KNOW WHAT THAT’S NOT MY FAULT.

But they’re always cute. I may suffer greatly and end up hunched over at 60, but dammit, my shoes are cute now.

And it turns out they have a following.

I work about three minutes from my parish, where I’m a lector. And I’m unique in that capacity in that I still have the ability to bear children. So occasionally at work people will be all, “Oh! I know you!” I mean, they don’t really, and I certainly don’t know them as I spent the first three months as a lector looking down and trying not to throw up, but it’s sweet!

(Well, sometimes it’s awkward.)

Anyway, that happened on Saturday and they complimented my shoes! They said they loved seeing a young woman wearing high heels, although they were always a little bit worried about whether or not I would trip.

I thought that was really funny because every time I walk up there I can feel my mom freaking out that I’m going to fall.

Anyway, I was with churchy people on Saturday night and told this story. And my friend looked at me and said, “You know now I’m just going to be looking at your shoes tomorrow, right? And your mom’s reaction to them.”

So I showed up yesterday morning and he said, “Oh, lovely choice. And they go with the dress!*” Well, yeah. I have to give the people what they want.

It’s obviously the most important part of my ministry.

*When I then commented on how much I loved that dress because I wore it to my graduation and it makes me feel happy he replied, “Oh, I could see that. It would go well with the gown.” Uh. Yeah. I put a lot of thought into that ensemble.