Archives for the month of: September, 2011

Living in the South of France

Lyrics by Sarah Varca

To be performed by The Knickerbocker Family Band

Come to the land of wine and food
Where our lunch breaks last from noon till two
We’ll get drunk on the beach in the afternoon
Cause in the south of France that’s how we do

Let me tell you bout my new home
In the south of France where the stray cats roam
People round here just party all day
Then they party all night while they parlent français
There aint no rules they just do as they please
Popping corks like kings and bingin on cheese
Ou le phrase de jour is “pourquoi pas”
So raise you glass and chante avec moi
Oh the best way to make new friends is to dance
So take a chill pill we’re living in the south of France
Take a chill pill we’re living in the south of France

Just watch me throw my watch in the ocean
Gettin high off brie and sun tan lotion
In the south of France the fish is freshest
And men always tell you your accent’s precious
Old women on the beach without their tops on
We’re all hippie dancin thinkin “where’s the time gone?”
Take naps on the beach if you’re fatigués
And drink more wine if you are soifés
So let down your hair and loosen your pants
Then take a chill pill we’re living in the south of France
Yeah take a chill pill we’re living in the south of France


This is a place where time is irrelavent
And hangovers are a sign of a night well spent


Come to the land of wine and food
Where our lunch breaks last from noon till two
We’ll get drunk on the beach in the afternoon
Cause in the south of France that’s how we do








To my peeps,

I miss you all like an American in England misses her bestest peeps. What’s new with me you ask? Alright, if you insist. I went to France to see Sarah (who you may know, she is a fellow participant in this blog). That was rad. Not rad like a fad, but rad like a real attractive lad. I met her wonderful and beautiful new friends, who fully embraced me and took me in. Lovely ladies, truly. We did some time at the beach. We were in France, the beach was empty so we did what we do sometimes and got a little nude. I consumed more cheese then I have consumed in my life and as a result had some digestive issues, but don’t worry Sarah provided me with some Actiivia so matters were taken care of. Food? Good. Wine? Good. Spendin’ time with my Sarah? The best. It ended up being just absolutely perfect and made coming back to Birmingham feel much more home like.

Some how in the last couple days I have gotten myself insanely busy! Everyone on my course is here now, so Ive met all these people who I have been friends with on Facebook for a couple months in real life and some of them I even living with. My house is officially full. There are 8 of us, 7 Americans and 1 British dude who is hilarious. And I find the situation to be funny too. I really feel like I am on the Real World right now. We are all complete strangers and I love it. So far so good. Everyone seems so nice and so enthusiastic. I feel like I have met so many people as of lately and I’m starting to find some regular friends. Olivia the Irish lass, Emily the British Rose, Jack the British man who is stuck with a bunch of Americans. And then of course I have just met all the Americans who will be on my course as well as some of the others. There’s one girl named Catherine from North Carolina and she is so freakin’ funny. I’ve always considered myself a quirky and outlandish person but she puts me to shame. Last night we went grocery shopping to make dinner together and we were a disgustingly, obnoxiously apparent pair of Americans. Oh! Shoot actually she’s ringing my door bell! I gotta go! I will finish later. My  love!

My lovely ladies, I am alive and well. I apologize for not having been very active on here (translation–not active at all). The past few weeks of my life have been a marvelous and crazy dream, and it’s taken me awhile to get accustomed.

Reading your various blog posts brought me such joy. I am so proud to be friends with such witty, compassionate, and brave women. Truly, you are all amazing. Thanks for filling me in on your lives.

I posted comments on many of the posts, so I hope that you can all learn a little about my experience from there and see what I have to say about yours. Also, if any of you are bored (and you’ll need to be quite bored, as my penchant for verbosity has not been squelched in Spain, meaning my posts are behemoth), check out the blog that I’m writing for my family back home. If nothing else, there are a few photos of me there and my beautiful Spanish apartment:

I will be brief and tell you that I am having the time of my life. There have been really minor frustrations, like realizing that I spend hours of every day on a metro that smells like body odor and having to endure horribly bureaucratic processes to gain legitimacy and other things, but most of it has been amazing beyond my wildest dreams. Spain is a country of miracles. Every day I still stop and think, “oh my lord almighty, this is my life, and I am so damn lucky to be living it.” I’m much happier and less angsty here than I was in Laramie, and I apologize that you were all dealing with the “I’m sick of Laramie, my heart is broken and throbbing, and I lack direction” Bob. He’s shedding layers and much more pleasant to be around now. He really needed a new challenge, a break, a scene change, a clean slate, and something unnamable that Spain has to offer. I’m very happy here.

I love my job so much, and I really think I will try to stay somewhere in a professional field that mixes writing, teaching, and social activism (professorship? Still to be seen…). Is anyone else preparing for and or worried about the future? I know that I need to be applying for graduate school in the next 2 months if I’m going to come home to something other than a job at Sweet Melissa’s (love it though I do), and I’d love advice or would just love to know what the rest of you are planning. In terms of friends, I was really lucky in that I already knew some Spaniards, and I stayed up until 7:30 in the morning today at a party with one of them (totally common in Spain–you eat breakfast, take an aspirin, and pray that your hangover is manageable when you wake up to start your day at 3:00 PM). I also made friends with fellow Fulbrighters and such, so I’ve felt social and happy. I live a European life–I buy fresh bread, fruit, and whatever I feel like at the market that is on the plaza where I live, I cook it in lots of olive oil, and then I take a nap and look out from my balcony. I’m the luckiest man alive.

One day, as I was walking up so many stairs from a really low-in-the-ground metro station, I just could envision beautiful Jacklynn hiking it up the metro stairs in London, and an enormous smile came across my face. I miss you all and can’t wait to see you. Is Thanksgiving in France still a possibility for my Europe gals?

All of my love and admiration,


Got in a car accident.

I’m ok.

My car is not ok.

Not super happy.


The worst driver you know,

Things are looking’ up. I have a new friend her name is Olivia and she is from Ireland. She’s a keeper. We went exploring today. We walked into the city together and I did not get lost ladies! Granted I was with Olivia and she seems to have a much better grasp on geography than I do. First plus, Katie now knows how to walk to the city centre (very important). Second plus, Katie now knows which bus to take to the city centre AND (hold on wait for it, thats right…) Katie also now knows which bus to take to get home! Astounding progress if I do say so myself. I also figured out how to get to school which is in the city centre. So now I can function. I am starting to feel less and less overwhelmed. Holy crap guys, my school is crazy. It is located in this huge building that looks straight out of the Jetsons cartoon. The facilities are incredible. It got me really excited to start working! While Olivia and i were downtown we also discovered some theatre venues. There seems to be a galore of theatre going on and that makes me so happy. I think I might be in the right place guys. I was starting to get worried that maybe I wasn’t, so this is all a good sign. Hopefully things keep going up hill. Is that correct expression to use? I don’t think so, but its staying. And now tomorrow I am off to France for the first time!!!!!!!!!!

Hope you all are having a wonderful day!

Love from Katie

I love my macbook.

Hey, hey lovely ladies. I’m going on a blind-friend-date (a blind date for friends, not a a date with a blind friend) tonight! It’s just someone who messaged me on

If I don’t comeback, tell the police to check my text-history.


Living on the edge,

Fun for all…

This is what creativity in a 6′ x 9.5′ box looks like.

The one that will never be an adult,

I can’t quite figure out how to get the internet to work so I’m writing this from Word.

I can’t quite believe all the trouble that I had with my visa considering how much warning I had, watching and listening to the experiences of three fine young people heading off to consulates to get their visas approved.  I was under the impression that I already had mine in hand as I certainly couldn’t remember needing to do all that finagling for my last visa.  The trouble was that this time was the real deal. 9 months is much more serious to the Chinese government than the measly 90 days that I resided in Shanghai last summer.  I landed in China and my stomach sank when the immigration officer told me that none of the papers approving my arrival were the necessary visa.  Luckily thanks to much encouragement and advice from both China and the United States I was told that if I went to Hong Kong I could procure a visa for the mainland.

Schlepping around the Fragrant Harbor for 5 days visiting all kinds of museums and heritage sites was fun but I had a nervous feeling that persisted until my passport was back in my hand, the visa snug inside.  I left yesterday afternoon on a through train from Kowloon to Shanghai.  I purchased the cheapest ticket which was a “hard sleeper.” I was surprised to discover that I was on the topmost bunk of beds stacked three high to the ceiling.  I found that there wasn’t room for me to sit up all the way which was fine as I could just lie down and read the whole time.  Conversation with the passengers surrounding me was out of the question as they mostly spoke Shanghainese, a minority dialect that sounds more akin to an African language than to Chinese. The train left at 3:15 and arrived in Shanghai at 10:00 the next morning.

After all that effort I’ve finally made it to Shanghai Normal University.  I’ve been zipping around most of the day making up for the days that I’ve missed during registration.  They placed me in level one Chinese language classes until I realized just how easy the books that they handed me were. I spoke with the woman in charge of registration and I’ve since been placed into level four. It’s foggy and wet here as I expect it will be often after the Mid-Autumn festival which signals the arrival of fall.

Although this experience has been harrowing and unnecessary it’s already happened and I know that it is only beneficial to me if I learn from it.  So here’s what I’ve learned:

  • I really do want to be here learning Chinese. The thought of being deported filled me with a depression and dread that I have not known before.
  • I have to work hard. I know that I must work to achieve what I want and to protect what I already have.
  • I need to use my time here to the fullest. I’m already extraordinarily lucky to be in this situation but now I have a new appreciation for it. No excuses, I have to study hard and seek out new and enlightening experiences.

As we all embark onto great things and new chapters know that I am always sending you my good thoughts and pleasant daydreams about your lives.


Ok, I’m taking a break from some of my freelance stuff to post. I really think I have too many jobs, especially if I ever want to have a social life, which—-hey, guys, I do!

First: Sarah, Katie, Carissa–I loved your posts. This is getting real! Like, don’t you think this is really working?! I kind of love that we’re all going through the same stuff, even if the stuff is kind of bad right now.

Second: “On being bold”

So, I’ve already recounted this tale to Katie via Skype (by the way, Sarah, you need to accept my friend request!!), but I am pretty sure I made friends with some pretty awesome people.

On Saturday, Tour de Fat  was coming to Denver and I knew I should go. The Laramie boys went last weekend when it was in Ft. Collins, but I had to go to that work party (where I met an un-enthusastic new friend). I needed to say that I did something this weekend and I know that I need to meet people, stuck in suburbia or not. I had told people I was going, had to go.


I woke up on Saturday and I did not want to go. Meeting new people? Hatred. Being alone? Hatred. Drinking? I’m just not that great at it. So I kind of lingered around and the clock kept ticking along (the parade launched at 10am). I hemmed and hawed, did some Charlie Brown kicks, but finally was like, just go. So I took my giant Canon 20D as a security blanket (that way, if I am alone people would think I was a photographer or a reporter).


I went, I made an honest effort of being excited, observing people. Taking pictures. Making the rounds. But I just cannot justify my breaking into a group and being like “hey, be my friend” so I always wait until I see someone alone. This can be a long wait.

What’s this? Boy standing under a tree listening to the band? Is he with lady and baby carriage couple? (does he see me looking at him). Should I approach? No, I think he sees me being weird.

Ok, so not great. I turned around and he had vanquished. No, he was holding the babies. Wait, no that wasn’t even him. What was he wearing again? I walked over to the spot—it definitely wasn’t him holding the child. Shucks: there he was, facing two girls pointedly not facing the band (and therefore, facing him). He must be with them.

I had given up hope when, a few minutes later I saw the two ladies walking off together not chaperoned by the boy. With as much uncouth as someone can muster, I approached him but he did not seem to see me. I kind of stood in his vicinity until he noticed me and waved (which I’m pretty sure I should trademark).

“Are you alone?”

He said, with a chuckle, yes he was. Would he mind if I joined him? He patted the grass next to him and said he’d love that. As it turned out, we were both new, lonely, and had an internal battle that morning to force ourselves to go to this event. So pretty much: best friends.

He was actually set up on a “blind date” with this girl from his class’ husband who would be meeting him in thirty minutes. I mean, I could go on, but pretty much, we all hit it off. I ended up spending the whole day with them, and then we went back to husband’s (“Matthew”) house and we spent all night together. I’m pretty sure boy (“Matt”) and I would have spent the night there if I didn’t have a Susan to make sure wasn’t worried about me. Crazy right? It’s crazy. Like I didn’t even realize how crazy it was that we had ended up hanging out together for nearly 12 hours until Wife pointed out: “Hey, do you need a ride home? My husband kind of abducted you and you’re probably like ‘what did I get myself into?!'”

I was not worried about that. Maybe I should be. Maybe I shouldn’t get into cars with two boys and that I’ve just met. But one is married and one is gay. I was in a safe place.




Gosh. Here we go. Let’s try this being social stuff.

I need a better pick-up line first though. We joked about my spotting his loneliness all night.

Reporting from the Americas,

Ps. HAVE AN AWESOME FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, CARISSA!!! We are all so proud of you!!