Today, I was going to write about my recent infatuation with Bare Minerals makeup. Which, in my life, is pretty damn important. I mean, it’s makeup. Aside from my hair, my skin is pretty much the most important thing in my life.

Except, you know, graduate school.

But then I realized that it was the end of the decade. The REAL end of the decade. Everyone freaked out at the end of last year and was all, “zomg first decade of the third millennium…” but they were wrong.

And I KNOW that they were wrong, because if there’s thing I remember from the last decade, it was my grandfather being very annoyed that everyone was screwing up the whole 1999/2000 thing. I mean, really, people. Duh.

I’m really glad it’s the end of the decade tonight instead of last year. If you read my post from last year, I was kind of in a bad place, even if I refused to admit it to anyone, even myself. I was so terrified of what was going to happen regarding grad school; I was a mess.

Guess what? Northwestern rejected me. The world kept turning. I still got in somewhere else. I have a fantastic job at a fantastic school and I’m ridiculously happy. I still have no idea what’s going to happen in the end, but I’m definitely better than last year.  2010 was a pretty good year.

That’s the most surprising thing of all, I think. 2008 was horrid. 2009 was pretty bad. I think I was so scarred by those two years that I didn’t even realize until, well, tonight that 2010? Was actually pretty good.

I graduated from college. I went to Williamsburg with my family. I bought a car. I started graduate school. I started teaching. I did really well in graduate school. I laughed, cried, loved, *insert appropriate verb here*…blah blah blah.

Not bad, 2010. I mean, I did it without my Grandpa. That kind of sucked. But I kind of feel like he’s still here because I remember that tonight is the actual end of the decade. And, you know, his doctor showed up at my award’s ceremony. But other than that, not bad.

So here’s to 2011. Hopefully it will be so good I’ll actually pay attention.


La vita bella.

I’ve been doing a nauseating number of girly things lately. And since I have little else to talk about, I’m going to tell you about them over the next few days.

I know. Get excited.

Today you get to hear about how I finally decided to man up and actually get my hair cut. It’s been a year and a half since my former stylist turned me into the cutest little boy toddler you ever did see, and I seriously had to do something about it.

I found a place that looked pretty and had amazing online reviews and I figured if I could tell Pretty Salesguy about my skin I could definitely make sure that I didn’t end up with the bob from hell like the last time I had my hair styled.

(Oh, that’s right, you don’t know about Pretty Salesguy yet. Tomorrow.)

I got there and there was the ubiquitous annoying girl with too much makeup- “Did you want anything to drink?” No, thank you. I’m okay. And here, wipe some of that gunk off your eyes. Your daddy won’t love you any more with sparkly cheeks.

My stylist person was a little bit late. Not a big problem and I really didn’t care except I had, for once, forgotten a book. I mean, I had my phone, so it’s not like I was just left staring judgmentally at the girl with the body glitter. But I couldn’t turn off the student part of me that was all, “It’s been fifteen minutes. I could have read about something in that fifteen minutes. I have to write a huge paper of indeterminate length next semester about the modern papacy and I could have done serious research in this time…”

Easy there, crazy person.

It turned out fine- I was quite happy with the actual cut. Which doesn’t look that much different except shorter and prettier layers and THANK YOU THAT’S WHAT I WANTED.

There were a few awkward moments when the lady tried to ask me what I did for a living.  And I had to attempt to explain the complexities of the academic world to someone who really didn’t understand without sounding like a snob and that’s really hard to do because I’ve been told I sometimes sound like a snob like whenever I open my mouth and you know what? Yes, I’m a teacher. Sure, I’ll be doing student teaching when I graduate. No, I would not like to buy the $43 conditioning system. I’m just going to keep talking about how I’m poor and maybe that will make me feel like less of a bitch.

(I really wasn’t being a snob. That $9 tip I gave her? $9 more than I earned this week.)

However, I got a little angry when once again this stylist felt the need to enlighten me to the condition of my hair. “It’s quite dry. And coarse. And damaged. And you’d be perfect candidate for the new Keratin straightening treatment.”

Yeah. I know. I’ve had this dry, coarse, damaged hair for 23 years. Look at my skin, lady. It’s PEELING. I drink gallons of water a day and I still provide most of Nivea’s North American profits.

And the new keratin straightening treatment? You mean the new, not-FDA approved chemical peel for your hair that costs hundreds of dollars and lasts for about six weeks?

(Although I could forgive her for that since there was a SEVENTH GRADER getting the same thing done in the next chair. What 12-year-old needs chemically straightened hair?)

You really don’t understand the whole “I’m a grad student” thing, do you?

An open letter to Lifetime

Dear Lifetime,

Hi. It’s Kathleen. Yeah, you don’t really know me. Because except for How I Met Your Mother reruns, we don’t talk so much since you stopped showing Will & Grace.

But it’s winter break. Which means that I have spent quite a significant portion of my time (i.e., all of it that wasn’t spent celebrating the Incarnation) mindlessly staring at your channels.

And I get it- you’re not going for deep, philosophical, The English Patient-like programming here. In fact, I’ve realized that there are two basic formulas.

1.) A beautiful doe-eyed girl falls for a totally adorable boy who ends up being a serial killer who is obsessed with her and kills everyone to get close to her and she must outwit him with the help of the totally adorable and way-more-normal-oh-yeah-you-can-totally-tell-see-he-has-kind-eyes adorable police officer/rape counselor/district attorney. The guy either ends up dead (It’s an accident! This girl could never intentionally kill anyone!) or goes away for life and there’s absolutely no chance of ever seeing him again.


2.) A beautiful doe-eyed girl falls for a totally adorable boy who is usually her teacher or some other authority figure and she ends up being a crazy serial killer obsessed with the boy and kills everyone to get close to him and he needs to outwit her with the help of the beautiful doe-eyed-but-not-crazy-because-she-has-an-edgy-haircut-and-is-about-six-months-older-than-crazy-chick-and-you-can-totally-tell-she’s-mature friend/sister-in-law (from before crazy chick killed the wife)/district attorney. The girl never dies (because that’s just sad!) and while she goes away for life there’s always a scene at the end where she stares disconcertingly into the camera and you know she’s coming back. Because apparently girls are less scary?

With incredibly slight differences in dialogue, that’s pretty much it.

There are a few errors that I feel I need to correct, though.

The teacher theme is incredibly prevalent, mostly I think because you guys are operating under the illusion that all college campuses are staffed by ridiculously attractive people who only leave their well-appointed oak-panelled HUGE offices with, like, windows, and comfy chairs and built-in bookcases filled with first editions to have torrid interdepartmental affairs and teach classes where they basically talk about sex the whole time. But in an academic way.

Yeah. I don’t think any of you actually went to college.

Look, I get that I’m only marginally employed in the academic world. I don’t know everything. But I do spend a lot of time in the offices, because, well, marginally employed. And my office lacks windows, comfy chairs, and any sort of oak paneling.

(I mean, I do have a chair that only falls forward when someone actually sits on it, and a fan from the 1970s. So that’s pretty cool.)

Also not so many ridiculously hot professors wandering around. Like, it’s kind of an aging profession if you know what I mean. When people talk about my job prospects it’s usually followed by, “Well, some of us have to retire sometime…”

Torrid interdepartmental affairs? Probably not likely, and definitely not as hot as you guys seem to think. (See: the aging thing, above.) Most people are married to someone who also works on campus, so I guess that’s kind of…okay, not hot at all.

And most lectures don’t have anything to do with an academic discussion of sex in literature…oh, wait. My sister’s a creative writing major and I’ve been told that actually happens, like, all the time. So I’ll give you that one.

So. If you could arrange to actually visit a campus at some point that would probably lead to more accurate representations in your “movies”.  But, you know, they’d be way more boring. So, your call, I guess.



P.S. Anything we can do about Will & Grace?


When pressed for my ethnic background, I usually say something like, “Oh, I’m basically a 5′ 2″ embodiment of Milwaukee’s immigration history…” And if the person has a fondness for John Gurda, they laugh. If not, they walk away a little bit scared.

But my seriously lacking social skills aren’t really the point.

I’m Irish, German, and Polish. To be honest? I’m not very ethnic at all.

I maintain that any and all German genes were beaten into submission and wearing shamrock pins before the embryo that was my mom ever even attached to the uterine wall. (You’ve all met my grandmother, I presume?)

I love my father’s family and their heritage with all my heart; and while because I do Jewish studies and modern Church history I end up studying Poland a lot*, I mangle the word “oplatki” at Christmas and I pronounce my last name the nauseating American way.

(Once somebody pronounced it the right way. But that was an accident, and it hasn’t happened again. *sigh*)

And the Irish? Well, since I sided with the British my mother hasn’t really talked to me.

So ANYWAY. It’s not like my household is all decked out in red and white and we get the Am-Pol Eagle newspaper or something.

But every major holiday my dad cooks kielbasa. I don’t eat kielbasa. It, along with every other meat product in the sausage family, makes me want to throw up a little.

(This, incidentally, is ALSO my father’s fault as he helpfully explained the sausage-making process to me once when I was a little girl.)

But every holiday when I wake up and smell it cooking I feel like a kid and all holiday-ish and I want to embrace my heritage and start writing words with Ws instead of Vs. I even want to eat the kielbasa.

For about three seconds. Then other holiday memories that involve the phrase, “Well, there’s this thing called a casing…” come rushing back.

But for awhile there, it’s adorable.

*Which gets massively confusing. Because if you run into Poland in Jewish studies it’s a bad thing- “Seriously? do you have ANY righteous Gentiles? AT ALL?” Poland in Church history is generally happi…wait- what were we talking about? I was thinking about John Paul II and got choked up there for a minute.

End of the semester weepies.

Growing up, we had “Sunday night weepies” at my house. Which was my parents’ code for “Why the hell won’t (insert child here) stop crying they go to school every Monday for God’s sake.”

I kid. They never said that. It’s just that after something fun like a weekend it’s hard to think about doing something else and once anyone gets emotional then all of a sudden everything is emotional and it’s just a vicious cycle.

(Oh. Sorry. Maybe that part is just my family.)

I don’t dislike Sunday nights anymore, but I do get ridiculously emotional at the end of the semester. It happened all through college, and I figured it was just me being weird. I mean, I’m the only one that felt that way right? Totally. No one else is weird like me.

Turns out…no. Either I just ended up with class full of needy, emotionally challenged students (okay,  distinct possibility), or everyone feels like this. Because I’ve got to tell you,  the number of “thank you soooo much for helping me with this exam stuff and being so awesome all semester I love this class I love your class I want to be a history major!!!!11!!!” e-mails I’ve gotten over the last few days is rather astounding.

I’m not the best TA in the world. This wasn’t the most fabulous class in the world. (Although it was awesome, and I’ll get to that in a minute.) I know that this has nothing to do with me. Apparently you’ll throw up emotional magnanimity all over the closest authority figure.  And I sincerely doubt that they’re all going to become history majors.

(Although that has been known to happen.)

It’s kind of cute.

How am I doing with the end of the semester? Well. I was actually okay until I found out what I’m teaching next semester. I think because then it was kind of like this class and this semester really were over and…oh God.

And…now it’s kind of like my security blanket has been ripped away. My awesome cozy security blanket that is accepting and respectful and encouraging and when I’m wrapped in it I know what I’m talking about and things make sense. It’s gone. My parents have informed me that I’m too old for it and need to move on.

(And by parents I mean “director of graduate studies”.)

(And by “move on” I mean “Ethnic studies the hell?”)

And…that kind of opened the floodgates. (Remember the thesis tears?) And now I’m writing Christmas cards to people whom I’m definitely going to continue seeing and it’s like, “*sniff* You’ve been a really great friend this year…don’t ever change…*sob*” which  makes no sense and Doctor Frickin’ Who is killing me AMY CAN’T MARRY THAT GUY WHY DID THEY EVEN BRING HIM TO VENICE???

Uh. Yeah. So maybe I’m a little needy and emotionally challenged.

Just fyi, I’m happy about the class. It’ll be fine. It’ll be great. I’m sure I’ll write a post very similar to this one in May. It’s just…NOT RIGHT NOW DAMMIT.

Only slightly creepy.

Yesterday I had some hours to kill because I decided that there was no way in hell that I could miss the department Christmas party.

(Yeah. You get twenty socially-awkward  faculty members who are incapable of making eye contact for 364 days of the year and are all basically competing for the same thing together in a room and throw in $8 white zinfandel. Sign. Me. Up.)

(Also, the teensy number of partners present did not make me feel any more comfortable about being single.)

ANYWAY. I turned in one of my papers on Thursday night, so I just had the one left. And oh, I had major plans for just obliterating it. There was going to be research. There was going to be writing. Major breakthroughs in the way people view historiography were going to be made.

Hell, I figured that after reading the epicly awesome paper I was going to produce yesterday afternoon Bosnia and Herzegovina could hold uncontested elections.

Did I write an awesome paper that secured me an A and changed the practice of history and made the world safe for democracy? No.

Did I buy a lot of books on Amazon? Hells yeah.

And the glee that this produced? Well, again, my mom reads this.

In college I always had time to read. I worked really hard and studied a lot and I spent a lot of time working, but I always had time to read.

(And, like, sleep past five. But that’s a different story.)

This semester I…just don’t. Between the classes and the teaching and the reading* there just…isn’t any. It’s not like I waste time. I watch TV when I work out or dry my hair. Other than that, no. I’m never home in the evenings anymore and I honestly cannot figure out why. I started a non-school book when I quit Borders at the beginning of the semester and I’m two hundred pages in. AND IT’S DECEMBER.

(I read the last Harry Potter book overnight. And I don’t even like Harry Potter that much.)

A professor offered me a book and I kind of wanted to say “Yeah, that’s awesome, but can you promise not to give it to me until I turn in final grades? Because it’s just going to be depressing to have it sit on my nightstand and not be able to read it because it doesn’t have anything to do with Bosnia.”

(Turns out yeah, it really is.)

Anyway. I’ve decided that my plan for the rest of the semester is to randomly assign final grades and  master this mother of a paper and I don’t really care if it’s even good or not I just want it printed and in my folder so that I can start reading Communion of Immigrants. And whatever I bought yesterday when I was in a stress-filled haze.


(Seriously. Please don’t fire me.)

*Seriously. The class is over. We’re turning in our papers. And you still assign 100 pages for us to discuss? I’m discussing Christmas in my head. That’s about it.

Bad Doctor

I was a huge Doctor Who fan. And by “Doctor Who” I mean “I vaguely put up with the weird sci-fi-ness of the stories in order to watch David Tennant run around and occasionally make out with people can someone please tell me what a Dalek is?”

When Ten left, it was dead to me. I was never going to enjoy it ever again and the world sucks and WHY GOD WHY *headdesk* *woe* *is dead*. Hate. Doctor Who is dead to me. Totally dead.

I did add the fifth season to my Netflix queue for some reason.  I mean, I can’t be one of those ignorant people who just hates without knowing what they hate…I need to be informed.
It arrived this weekend and I was ambivalent.  I don’t know why I’m even wasting my time. This is ridiculous. I can send it back and get a new movie…ooh, there’s an alien. The alien is rather cool on my new TV. Maybe the alien will kill Newbie. Maybe I’ll watch for a few more minutes.

Six minutes in: Well, he’s being quite sweet with that little girl.

Twelve Minutes in: His hair is floppy.

Thirteen minutes in: I like floppy hair.

Fifteen minutes in: Okay.  I can love Doctor Who (the series, not the Doctor) again. I guess. Quietly.


So. I guess I’m just a whore for an accent then?
(Well, I’m also cheap and will say yes. Which sounded way different in my head before I blurted it out in front of my Catholic young adult group. Story for another day.)