Tag Archives: nostalgia

Update on Life

A lot’s been happening with me recently, and I thought I’d take a minute to recount it here.


If I’m being honest, I have to admit that lately I’ve felt really, really lonely. It seems like it’s been weeks since I had a real, honest conversation with someone.


So for now, I’ll write about some of the good things that have been happening.


First, I bought a car!


Even though I’m thirty, this is actually the first car I’ve ever owned. I had a car as a teenager, but it was only “mine” for a year, since it became my sister’s after I went to college. I also don’t really enjoy driving and don’t need to drive to get to most places I need to go. But sometimes I do need to get out of the city and I was sick of depending on other people for rides. So now I have this car! I mostly just drive to chorus every week and I drove to Marblehead a few weeks ago to meet my cousin’s cute new baby. But it’s nice having the option to drive places if I have to.


Second, I finished my fourth half-marathon!

bay state half marathon

Even writing that is weird. How did I become the kind of person who does four half-marathons? I still do not think of myself as a runner. I’m not an athlete and I’m actually kind of lazy about exercise most of the time. And yet…I just did this fourth half-marathon (the Bay State Half Marathon in Lowell) and got a really good time for me. This is a really flat course (there’s a marathon at the same time, and since it’s so flat, people use it to qualify for Boston- even their advertisements say so) and the weather was perfect and autumn-y, so that’s part of where the good time came from. But I also just feel faster, and while it might be awhile before I do another half, I kind of want to try again and maybe break two hours. It feels possible!


Third, I’ve had a couple of fun experiences at book signings lately. The first one was with none other than Neil Patrick Harris! He was doing a signing of his new memoir at Brookline Booksmith, so I got a ticket. None of my friends ended up going, but I made friends with the people around me in line. (Although two of them, who actually ended up being pretty cool once I talked to them, started off their time in line having this really graphic conversation about how someone they knew had an infection and I was dying to say, “Guys, I JUST ATE.”) They were hurrying everyone through the HUGE line as quickly as they could, so there wasn’t time to take a picture with him, but my new line-friends and I took each other’s pictures and sent them to each other.


I had all these things I was going to say to NPH, like, “Congratulations on the Oscars! Are you going for a hosting EGOT?” (They’d just announced the day before that he was going to be the Oscar host.) Or, “Will you sing ‘The Confrontation’ with me?” But they all flew out of my head and I just ended up saying something like, “Thank you for being here!” and that I liked what I’d read of the book while standing in line. So I don’t think I left much of an impression on NPH, but I’m glad I went.


The other book signing experience was last weekend at the Boston Book Festival. You remember my post about the book series I loved as a kid? Well, I was really excited when I learned that Ann M. Martin, the creator of The Baby-Sitters Club, would be there. So of course I went to her panel and got her autograph and a picture with her afterwards! Ten-year-old Katie is so jealous of thirty-year-old Katie. (I met some cool people in that line, too. Lots of interesting people to meet at book signings.)


I always try to do NaNoWriMo and never succeed. I do have a new idea this year, though, so we’ll see how I do. Some writing completed is always better than nothing, after all. You can friend me there if you want—purebrightfire is my name there.


And happy belated Halloween!


Playlist of the Moment: The O.C.

This is going to be a little more involved than your average Playlist of the Moment post, so bear with me here.


I mentioned in the previous post that I’d be guest-posting a recap of The O.C. on Snark Squad. Voila. Writing it was a lot of fun, and both that and just reading Snark Squad’s O.C. posts in general made a bit nostalgic, so I’ve been re-watching some episodes of the show that I have on DVD.


I was first introduced to the show my senior year of college by my roommate Steph. That was Season 3, and I caught up with the previous seasons with Steph’s DVDs and bonded with my roommates over the show.


If you’ve never seen it, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: teenager Ryan Atwood, from Chino, California, gets arrested after he and his brother steal a car. Shortly thereafter, Ryan’s mother abandons him, so he calls his public defender, Sandy Cohen. Sandy lives in Orange County with his son Seth, who’s Ryan’s age, and his wife Kirsten, a rich real estate developer whose father owns most of the O.C. By the end of the third episode, the Cohens have become Ryan’s legal guardians. Over four seasons, we see all kinds of soap opera drama unfolding, particularly with Ryan and Seth’s love lives (Ryan has a tumultuous relationship with their drama queen next-door neighbor, Marissa, while Seth’s long-term crush on Marissa’s best friend Summer eventually turns into something real), but it’s also about family. It’s one of the only teen shows where the parents are not only a huge part of the show but also really good parents. You don’t have to be a poor kid from Chino with a neglectful, drunk mother to want Sandy and Kirsten Cohen to adopt you- and although I think the network intended it to be more of a Dawson’s Creek-esque teen relationship drama, the most interesting part of the show for me was always Ryan’s relationship with the Cohens. The moments that moved me the most and that were the most memorable for me were always about the love between this tough, fish-out-of-water kid and his adoptive family. This article explains everything really well.


The O.C. is kind of the perfect show for a site like Snark Squad or the late, sometimes great Television Without Pity because there is plenty to snark on (the episode I just recapped had a character faking a miscarriage and another character having a ridiculous screaming meltdown) BUT it’s also genuinely enjoyable most of the time. I feel like most statements you could make about The O.C. have a BUT in the middle of them. It’s a teenage drama BUT it’s also about the parents and the rest of the family. It’s a trashy nighttime soap BUT it also has a lot of moments that are truly moving. It’s kind of like Dawson’s Creek BUT the characters are a zillion times more likeable- a lot of characters on The O.C. start off as villains and gradually become more three-dimensional.


During the first year I blogged, The O.C. was in its final season, and although ratings had dropped, the show was having a series of fantastic episodes. You might recall these posts, where I tried to convince people to watch it so it wouldn’t get canceled. I was unsuccessful, unfortunately, but falling headlong into an obsession with a show was exactly what I needed during that crazy first year out of college. (I was living with Christiana Krump at the time, and I’m pretty sure at some point she threatened to fake-divorce me from our fake marriage over The O.C.)


Anyway! Another great thing about The O.C. was its music. It introduced me to a lot of awesome songs that to this day are among my most-played. So here’s my playlist with some of my favorite songs that have been played on the show. Some highlights:

Alexi Murdoch, “Orange Sky.” I can’t remember if I knew this song before I heard it on the show or not, but either way, I adore it. It’s so soothing I swear it lowers my blood pressure. “In your love, my salvation lies in your love.”


Patrick Park, “Something Pretty.” Aptly titled. “And I’ve known ugliness, now show me something pretty.”


Placebo, “Running Up That Hill.” This show also had a lot of great covers- in fact, one of their six soundtrack albums is nothing but covers. This one, of a Kate Bush song, I like just as much, if not more than, the original.

Here’s the playlist. It’s not comprehensive, but it is a bunch of songs I like that were on the show. Welcome to my O.C. Playlist, bitch!




1. We Used to Be Friends, The Dandy Warhols

2. Caught by the River, Doves

3. Dice, Finley Quaye and William Orbit

4. Move On, Jet

5. Honey and the Moon, Joseph Arthur

6. California, Phantom Planet

7. Paint the Silence, South

8. The Way We Get By, Spoon

9. Rain City, Turin Brakes

10. How Good It Can Be, The 88

11. Forever Young, Youth Group

12. Fix You, Coldplay

13. Insomnia, Electric President

14. Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap

15. Goodnight and Go, Imogen Heap

16. Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley

17. Maybe I’m Amazed, Jem

18. A Bad Dream, Keane

19. Float On, Modest Mouse

20. Running Up That Hill, Placebo

21. California, Rogue Wave

22. Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, U2

23. Start Today Tomorrow, Youth Group

24. Life Is a Song, Patrick Park

25. Any Other World, Mika

26. The House We Live In, The Stills

27. Orange Sky, Alexi Murdoch

28. Walnut Tree, Keane

29. Saturday Morning, Eels

30. Popular Mechanics for Lovers, Beulah

31. So Sweet, Johnathan Rice

32. Trouble Sleeping, The Perishers

33. Little House of Savages, The Walkmen

34. You Got Me All wrong, dios (Malos)

35. Specialist, Interpol

36. A Lack of Color, Death Cab for Cutie

37. Hello Sunshine, Super Furry Animals

38. Something Pretty, Patrick Park

39. On the Table, A.C. Newman

40. Play, Flunk

41. Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights, Aqueduct

42. Cartwheels, Reindeer Section

43. To Be Alone with You, Sufjan Stevens

44. Fortress, Pinback

45. Scarecrow, Beck

46. Eve, the Apple of My eye, BellX1

47. The View, Modest Mouse

48. Into Dust, Mazzy Star

49. Just a Ride, Jem

50. Mr. Brightside, The Killers

51. Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, Stars

52. Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Poison

53. Blue  Light, Bloc Party

54. Love You Til The End, The Pogues

Why, God, Why?

And so, I am thirty.



Since I’m still single, obviously, turning thirty is not a good thing. But I’m not going to focus on that.


It’s funny, the things you think will make you an adult, or make you feel like an adult. Back when I wrote this post, buying property seemed absolutely unattainable. Now, while I still rent instead of own…let’s just say owning is a much more realistic goal now. I live alone now, and while it’s awesome, it doesn’t really make me feel like an adult, either. And even though I have a full-time job and have steadily advanced in my company over the seven years I’ve worked there, that does nothing to make me feel adult, either.


But you know what does? The fact that I now sometimes sign my name with a scribble. When I was a kid, I hated it when adults did that and swore I never would. And now I do it.


There are plenty of things I thought I’d outgrow that I never did, though.

  • I never got to like coffee. I’ve tried and I just don’t like the way it tastes.
  • I still order chicken fingers in restaurants all the time.
  • I love Disney movies and Disney in general and have lately been dying to go back to Disney World.
  • Actually, I love amusement parks in general. Even kid rides like the merry-go-round.
  • I still have stuffed animals on my bed. I can’t part with them.
  • I can’t part with my basket full of Beanie Babies, either. They’re too cute.
  • I’m super-nostalgic for all the TV shows I loved in my childhood. I sometimes watch Sesame Street clips on YouTube and I have Ghostwriter on DVD.
  • Girl Meets World is on my DVR.
  • Early to bed/early to rise is still not my thing. I’d much rather sleep until noon on weekends.
  • Blowing bubbles and flying a kite outside sounds wonderful to me.
  • I still hate shopping for clothes.
  • However, I’ve been known to go into toy stores just to look around.
  • I never manage to do laundry/put away laundry in an efficient manner.
  • I still don’t have a nice watch. I wear this cheap waterproof digital watch from Target.
  • Many nights I’d rather play board games than go out to a bar.


The weird thing I’ve noticed about getting older is that there are plenty of times when you feel old. You can’t understand why teenagers like some weird thing (like the Yo app—seriously, why?). You realize that you’re working with people born in the 90s. You realize you started high school sixteen years ago. But even if you feel old…you still might not feel like an adult.


Do you ever? Is this something that will never really happen and you just think it will?

My Internet Origins

Recently, Television Without Pity, aka TWoP, ceased operations. In April, they stopped posting any new recaps and on May 31, the forums shut down. Even though I hadn’t posted in the forums for a long time and only occasionally popped in to read a recap, I was sad to hear it. This was a site I used to spend a lot of time on. I was very active in the Gilmore Girls forums for a long time and I made a lot of friends I’m still in touch with today.

But let’s back up a bit. The loss of TWoP, a place that was a huge part of my online life for a long time, got me thinking about what Lorraine and Sweeney on Snark Squad refer to as “internet origins.” Theirs are hereand here. And here’s mine.

When I was a freshman in high school, we got the Internet. I used my mom’s email to write to my friends, and I’d send these long, very enthusiastic emails to my friends. Except once I got a friend’s email address wrong and it went to some random guy.

We had dial-up Internet (my parents actually had dial-up until I was a senior in college), so I couldn’t spend too much time online for fear of tying up the phone line. But I never spent a whole lot of time online until the summer before my junior year of high school, when I got into The X-Files.

I got into The X-Files at a weird time—during the summer between the seventh and eighth season, just as the show was losing David Duchovny and the quality was about to rapidly decrease. Back then, they showed reruns daily on FX, and I’m kind of impressed with myself for how quickly I got caught up with the show considering that TV on DVD was not yet a thing. Instead, I just watched and taped those reruns, and since I was watching them out of order, I discovered X-Files fan sites that helped me make sense of what had happened on the show so far.

There was one big fan site in particular, now defunct, called Idealists Haven, where I discovered this little thing called fanfiction. I read a ton of XF fanfic—often saving them so I could read them offline and not tie up the phone—and eventually started writing it myself.

Yeah, that’s a deep, dark secret from my past. No, I will not share that fanfic here. Believe me when I say that it is truly, truly awful. I need to remove all traces of it from the Internet and then pray that the Internet is not, in fact, forever.

Then I went to college and The X-Files ended. Freshman year of college, the big thing was finally having high-speed Internet. I joined AIM and posted lots of melodramatic away messages. (Actually, I think I enjoyed coming up with different profiles and away messages more than talking to people.) I downloaded a ton of music through questionable means. I finally had my own email address.

Sophomore year of college was when I rediscovered Internet fandom. I was watching Monk at the time and started a short-lived Angelfire page (which I’d lost the address to until recently) where I just kind of rambled about my thoughts on each episode and which character had been the “coolest” in those episodes. While I’d always liked Gilmore Girls, this was the season where I started connecting with fellow fans online via TWoP.

Nothing has shaped my Internet life more than TWoP. I’ve made so many friends through that site and a lot of us have stayed in touch through Facebook and posting on a private forum. I’ve even met some of them in person. We used to have local TWoP cons where TWoP posters from Boston would meet for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, and meeting these people I only knew by their screen names was awesome and kind of surreal. I went to my first TWoP con my junior year of college and I was so nervous, but I had so much fun!

But, uh…one time I accidentally started a flamewar. It actually got a write-up on this site called Fandom Wank that documents Internet drama. I’m the Katie they mention in that post (they seem to agree with me, thankfully), but basically what happened was that after one Gilmore Girls episode that most fans liked, the recapper, Pamie (whom I actually like and who has since published several books and written for many TV shows), posted a really negative review. TWoP had this kind of asinine rule that you couldn’t criticize the recappers in the forums (although showering them with praise was fine), so when Pamie linked to the recap on her blog, I left a polite blog comment saying that I disagreed with her and other fans joined me. Well, the next thing I knew all the other TWoP recappers were piling on yelling at us and it majorly escalated, culminating in Pamie posting this really sarcastic recap for the next episode. I was mortified and, even though I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong, ended up apologizing to Pamie. I had not meant for any of it to happen—but now I kind of think the whole story is hilarious. Years afterward, I saw the incident mentioned elsewhere on the Internet and was like yeah…that was me.

Oh, yeah, and I started writing fanfic again. It got to be kind of an obsession—I’d be sitting in class planning out my next story instead of taking notes. But it was great writing practice and enough people read and liked my stories that it boosted my confidence a lot. (I’m actually pretty sure that more people have read my fanfic than anything else I’ve ever written.)

BC was on Facebook pretty early, when Facebook was just for college students and the URL was thefacebook.com, and I actually held out for a bit until I joined in December 2004. I was never on Myspace, though. All those pages where music started playing the second you opened the page annoyed me so much that I could never bring myself to join.

The same month I joined Facebook, I started my first blog, which I’ve since made private. I was very ambivalent about the idea of any kind of online journal or blog for a long time, but I finally decided to start one that only my online communities knew about. In 2006, several of my online friends and I joined Livejournal, and a few years later I started a second LJ where I did share some things with real-life friends. I no longer use either of them, though.

In September 2006, I started this blog. That same year, I got back into fanfic, this time for The O.C. (I have not relapsed since, though. And yes, I have often referred to it in terms of an addiction, because it is highly addictive!)

My most recent online community has been 20sb. Once I joined that, I discovered so many awesome blogs—and people—and have become friendly with many fellow bloggers. I wish 20sb was as active as it was in 2011-2012, but maybe that will change with the new redesign they’re planning.

And that’s my life online so far. More will be coming soon, specifically changes to this blog…stay tuned!

Why I’m Not At My 10-Year High School Reunion

Tonight is my ten year high school reunion.

I am not there.

I admit, originally I decided not to go after looking at the Facebook group for my high school class. Our class president (side note: apparently our class officers get stuck planning every reunion until they die, which I’m not sure they realized when they ran for an office that they probably only wanted because it looked good on a college application) asked us to post updates on our lives for our alumni magazine (which I didn’t even know we had), and the responses would put the Smug Marrieds from Bridget Jones’s Diary to shame. No one was married at the five year reunion, but apparently, people have gotten busy getting married and reproducing in the five years since then. While the five-year was hilariously awkward (seriously, the entire event consisted of people walking around with forced smiles saying, “Hi! How are you? Isn’t this awkward?”), I envision this one as full of people showing off engagement rings and pictures of their kids. And it embarrasses me that not much has changed since I couldn’t get a date in high school—I’d never had a boyfriend then, and now, at twenty-eight, I still haven’t.

That’s not the only reason, though. Another reason is that I just haven’t stayed in touch with many people from high school. Those I have I can keep up with through Facebook, and the rest…well, honestly, I never think about them and don’t particularly care what they’re doing now. And although I wrote an article for the school newspaper at the end of senior year about how high school is what you make of it and how it’s your own fault if you aren’t going to miss anything from high school (I found out from my younger cousin that the health teachers started passing that article out to the freshmen after I graduated), in truth, I haven’t missed high school once since I graduated.

High school was a weird time in my life. Not a bad time. Middle school was awful—I talked about it here, but in middle school, people were really mean to me on a daily basis. The pop culture stereotype is that high school is like that, but it wasn’t for me. The way I remember it, high school was probably the most self-centered times of our lives. We were all trying so hard to get into college that we didn’t have time to think about how weird that kid in our biology class was.

More than anything, when I look back at high school, I remember how busy I was all the time, and I don’t know how I ever got through it. I swam six days a week during the fall and, for a couple of years, several days a week in the winter. I always took multiple honors and AP classes. I sang in the chorus and, senior year, in the treble choir. In the spring, I ran track and was part of the musical cast. I was arts editor of the newspaper, fundraising director of Student Council, and sports editor of the yearbook. I studied for SATs, applied for summer jobs, took driver’s ed, and searched for a prom dress. Maybe you just have more energy when you’re a teenager, but I could never do all of that now. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

And what was the result? Well, I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I didn’t have a lot of people who disliked me, either. I graduated in the top 5% of my class—18 out of a class of something like 367. I wasn’t a great swimmer (senior year, I missed the sectional cut in 100-yard butterfly by 0.17 seconds), but I was respectable—in fact, a friend of Jackie’s from grad school graduated from my high school two years ahead of me, and when I saw her at a party Jackie invited her to, I was surprised when the first thing she said to me was, “You were on the swim team!” I AP’d out of English and math in college (I passed the AP US history exam, too, but it didn’t get me out of anything). And while no one cares about your SATs after age eighteen, I kind of wish that wasn’t the case, because mine were actually good! (740 verbal, 710 math, and while the writing component didn’t exist back then, I got 790 on my SAT II for writing.)

The real result, though, was that I got into Boston College, and in a lot of ways, I feel like my life didn’t begin until then. For the first time, I started breaking out of the sheltered little bubble I’d grown up in. I met the people who became my best friends. I did activities like chorale because I liked them, not because they’d look good on a resume. I learned things that I still remember now, not things I forgot as soon as finals were over. And I had the time of my life, which I got to relive at my five-year reunion.

Middle school was the miserable kind of time that builds character. College was wonderful. But high school was just a time of my life when I was preparing for something better. Now I’m in the something better—and I see no reason to relive the part of my life when I was preparing for it.

I do have some great memories of high school, though, and one of my favorites is how at the end of our class banquet (an event that had dinner and dancing but was much more casual and less stressful than the prom) we all stayed to the end and formed a circle with our arms around each other as we sang along to our class song, Madonna’s “I’ll Remember.” Even though I’m not there, I wish all the best to the people of the class of 2002. I hope you’re having fun tonight.

Quote Wheels

Since high school, I have collected quotes. My senior year, I started keeping a list of quotes inside my locker. All kinds of quotes: song lyrics, quotes from books, lines from movies and TV shows, funny things my friends and relatives said, Bible quotes, cheesy sayings that resonated with me nonetheless. As the year went on, my friends gave me suggestions for what to include, and I added to it as I went.

Before college, as I was arming myself with dorm room decorations (including a poster from the first Harry Potter movie and another of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”), I decided that I wanted to display the quotes in a more “artistic” way. So I got some white posterboard and skinny Crayola markers, traced a bowl on the posterboard, cut out a circle, and wrote out the quotes in a spiral. And thus the “quote wheel” was born!

(I’ve been meaning to write this post forever, by the way. It was Christiana Krump’s idea. She mentioned it in a comment almost three years ago!)

I just thought it would be a fun thing to hang up in my dorm room, but the friends I made throughout college LOVED it. And college lends itself to quotes—I mean, this was back in the days of AIM away messages, which were made for both melodramatic quotes and the funny things your friends say. So the quote wheels expanded, and eventually I made separate “BC quote wheels” made entirely of funny things my friends said.

Here are some notable quotables, and a glimpse at where my mind was at from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2006:

Song Lyrics

“In the end, only kindness matters.”

-My high school yearbook quote, from “Hands” by Jewel

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

-“Closing Time” by Semisonic—a standard quote for a graduating senior.

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

-“Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon


“You ever wonder what a Martian might think if he happened to land near an emergency room? He’d see an ambulance whizzing in and everybody running out to meet it, tearing the doors open, grabbing up the stretcher, scurrying along with it. ‘Why,’ he’d say, ‘what a helpful planet, what kind and helpful creatures.’ He’d never guess we’re not always that way; that we had to, oh, put aside our natural selves to do it.”

-from The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

“It is our choices, Harry, that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

-from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.”

-from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo


“Talking about love is like dancing about architecture.”

-from Playing by Heart

“Thank God for the model trains, because if it wasn’t for those they wouldn’t have got the idea for the big trains.”

-from A Mighty Wind

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

-from Forrest Gump

TV Shows

“Joey takes naked pictures of us and then he eats chicken and he looks at them!”

-Rachel on Friends

“It’s like you took a gun and stabbed me in the back right in front of my eyes!”

-Shawn on Boy Meets World

“Never give up on a miracle.”

-Mulder to Scully on The X-Files

Funny things my friends/relatives say

“You should ask Caroline to show you her new breast.”

-My mom to my dad—our swim coach was showing my sister a new way to do breaststroke, and my mom didn’t realize how that sounded until I pointed it out to her.

Me: We get Easter Monday off…what is Easter Monday, anyway?
Caroline: I don’t know, I think it’s the day where everyone just kind of sat back and said, “Damn, that was a cool thing he did!”

“Damn, I would have been so cool if I had lived in the early nineties!”

-My sister (born in 1986)

Me Being Dumb

“Wow! There’s a big thing of ice!”

-Referring to a pond I saw in the distance from a mountaintop when I was skiing

“The most investigated performer…that must mean…he did something BAD!”

-Me reasoning my way through a Trivial Pursuit question

Cheesy Anonymous Quotes that Resonated Nonetheless

“Everything is always okay in the end, so if it’s not okay, it is not yet the end.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”

“Don’t criticize someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them, you’ll be a mile away and have their shoes!” (Yes, I realize this one is grammatically incorrect.)

Miscellaneous Quotes

“Be who you are and say what you think because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
-Dr. Seuss

“Sad. Nothing more than sad. Let’s not call it a tragedy; a broken heart is never a tragedy. Only untimely death is a tragedy.”

-Angela Carter

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates.”

– Thomas Szasz

BC Quotes!

“There’s this girl in my philosophy class who has the same scarf as me except mine’s red and hers is blue, and I just want to go up to her and say, ‘Hey, we have the same scarf except mine’s red and yours is blue.”

“And on the seventh day, God COULDN’T rest…he created Oompa-Loompas!”

“Ben’s in Worcester and Dave’s in Washington and I gave up alcohol for Lent, so I have nothing and no one to do this weekend!”

He’s a Ghost, and He Writes to Us! Ghostwriter!

Over the summer, when some friends were over at my house for my birthday, we somehow ended up talking about the old PBS shows that you all know I love. When we talked about Ghostwriter, someone mentioned the music video the kids made to a song called “You Gotta Believe.” I said I was pretty sure it was on YouTube somewhere, broke out my computer, and sure enough, there it was.

A friend had gotten me an Amazon gift card for my birthday, so that incident inspired me to spend it on Season 1 of Ghostwriter on DVD! I just recently got around to watching it, and I have to say, it holds up REALLY well.

So, here’s where I describe the show for those of you who were not fortunate to discover this gem of public television when you were in elementary school. Ghostwriter was a live-action show set (and filmed on location) in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was about a group of pre-teen kids who were the only ones who could see a ghost they called “Ghostwriter.” Ghostwriter only appeared as swirls of color, and he communicated by rearranging letters to form words. The kids could only communicate with him by writing to him. They called themselves “The Ghostwriter Team” and, since Ghostwriter could read things that they didn’t have access to, they solved mysteries with his help. They wore black pens on string around their necks, and when they needed to get the whole team together, they called a “rally,” where they wrote “Rally” and their first initial so that Ghostwriter would carry the message to everyone.

Jamal was the first team member to see Ghostwriter. Only the audience knows this, but Ghostwriter actually came out of a book in Jamal’s basement that he and his dad knocked over when looking for a trunk for Jamal’s sister to take to college with her. Jamal was slightly full of himself but was also usually the leader and the peacemaker of the group. He lived in an old house with his parents and his awesome grandmother, Grandma CeCe, a perpetually cheerful letter carrier.

Lenni wrote songs (including “You Gotta Believe”) and raps that sound like, well, a twelve-year-old wrote them. Her widowed father was a jazz musician, and they lived in a loft apartment with a big electric keyboard. Although she wore the world’s weirdest clothes, even by early 90s standards, she was the one I wanted to be my best friend.

Alex and Gaby were siblings who lived below Lenni, behind their Salvadoran family’s bodega. They shared a bedroom and were constantly bickering, but could also be very sweet to each other. Alex loved to read mysteries, had female penpals all around the world, and tended to think in grandiose terms (like, when Jamal first suggested forming the Ghostwriter team, he wanted them to have secret video cameras in their boots). The aptly named Gaby never shut up and always wanted to be the center of attention, but she was also really observant and often picked up on things that other missed.

Tina was an aspiring filmmaker constantly found with a Camcorder. Her parents were from Vietnam and owned a tailor shop, and when Alex met her, it was love at first sight. The two of them eventually began the adorable kind of relationship that tends to happen with middle schoolers.

Rob. *sigh* Oh, Rob. Rob was my first crush, EVER. And I have to say, my eight-year-old self had good taste. He had that cute, floppy, 90s hair, and he was a very shy writer. His dad, whom he often clashed with, had just gotten out of the air force and he’d spent most of his life moving around, which made him reluctant to trust new friends. He also made REALLY bad decisions sometimes, like looking for someone in an abandoned subway tunnel or going to a hotel room alone to confront the villain. But he was awesome– when he first joined the team, everyone told him he could ask Ghostwriter anything he was wondering about, so he asked, “Is Elvis dead?” Nothing ever came of this, but I always thought that Lenni kind of had a thing for him, too.

In the second season, they introduced a couple of new team members—Hector, a kid whom Alex tutored (and who grew up to be a Real World cast member!), and Casey, Jamal’s younger cousin. That season also included the aforementioned music video, Ghostwriter traveling through time, pre-10 Things I Hate about You Julia Stiles, and, sadly, the departure of Rob, who moved to Australia. I can’t wait until that and Season 3 come out on DVD.

It aired on Sunday nights, and the format was pretty cool—before showing the new half-hour episode, they’d show the episode from the week before, so that you could either refresh yourself or see what you missed last week. Four or five episodes made up a case, and before the new episode aired, a narrator would recap the clues and facts from the previous episode. I used to write down all the clues in a casebook that I’d made and try to solve the mystery myself. Some of the mysteries were the kind of thing you’d expect middle schoolers to get involved in—a group of video gamers stealing kids’ backpacks to use their quarters to practice at the arcade, someone putting up smear fliers to sabotage Alex’s campaign for school president—but some were actually pretty intense, like Jamal being falsely accused of setting a store on fire or barrels of a hazardous chemical being buried in the community garden and making everyone sick.

The thing that really strikes me upon re-watching it is that, despite the acting not exactly being Oscar-caliber, this was a very intelligently written show for kids. Its purpose was to help kids with their writing skills, but it accomplished that in such a subtle way that I only realize now what I learned from it. They snuck in a lot of lessons about writing concisely, capturing the way a person speaks, writing persuasively, and how to get your point across. Rob says at one point that the good thing about writing is that, unlike talking, you can work on it until you get it right, and that’s a line that I really took to heart.

It also touched on some surprisingly serious issues, like gang violence, drugs, and alcoholism, which kind of shocked my sheltered suburban self when I was a kid. In my favorite series of episodes, a homeless poet Rob is friends with disappears, and they eventually discover that he is a Vietnam vet and took off on his own. They don’t actually say “PTSD,” but that’s obviously what he had, and those episodes make much more sense to me as an adult. They often introduce some character subplots that didn’t have to do with the case, too, like Tina’s older brother rebelling against their Vietnamese parents and Lenni being uncomfortable with her father dating again.

The team hoped that one day they would solve the ultimate mystery: who Ghostwriter really was. Sadly, the show was canceled due to lack of funding before that could happen, but a little Internet digging turned up what the answer to that question would have been!

Other random thoughts on these episodes:

  • These kids are so early 90s cool, yo. They wear their orange baseball caps backwards and write their own rap songs.
  • The role was recast after the first two cases, but for those, you know who played Jamal’s dad? FREAKING SAMUEL L. JACKSON!
  • Wow, the police on this show suck. On the episode where Jamal is accused of burning the store, the cops just let everybody waltz in and mess up their crime scene and Lenni picks a key piece of evidence right up off the floor. Also, in the episode with the poisonous barrels, how on Earth was the team able to figure out who dumped them before the cops were?
  • Alex and Tina had the cutest first kiss EVER. They were hiding in a truck when a criminal they were chasing spotted them, and Alex said, “Well, whatever happens, at least we’re together,” before giving her a quick peck on the lips.
  • Sometimes I have a hard time remembering life before the Internet. This show reminds me about things like card catalogs and encyclopedias.
  • I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I have a freakishly good memory. I remember the weirdest details of things that happened years ago. And frankly, I am amazed at how well I remembered this show. The only thing that’s different is that the kids now look so YOUNG to me! These kids really were about the age of the characters they played.

You know what? If you’ve never seen this show, I think you need to remedy that. GHOSTWRITER PARTY AT MY HOUSE!

5 Years of SST-S: A Trip Down Memory Lane

(By the way, thanks for bearing with me in my last post. I try not to get too angry or ranty on this blog, but secondhand smoke gets my blood boiling like nothing else, and venting about it was a long time coming. Now for a more pleasant post.)

Today is the five-year anniversary of SST-S. (Also my cousin’s birthday—happy birthday, Lauren!) Wow. What was I doing five years ago? And what have I done since then?

Five years ago I had just moved into my first apartment in Chestnut Hill with Christina and Chris. It was a fantastic apartment, and since it was about 500 feet away from my alma mater, I could kind of lull myself into believing that I was still in college. I was working at my first full-time job and making new friends. I had never been on a date. I was toying with the idea of eventually going to grad school for creative writing or journalism. Erin, Lindsey, and Jackie lived down the road in a tiny basement apartment. Julie had just moved to Inman Square. I was just starting to make friends at my new job. The Red Sox were at the end of a craptacular season, and Jon Lester had just been diagnosed with lymphoma.

The year that followed turned out to be a very, very hard one, for personal reasons that I still can’t write about on a public blog. Lots of ups and downs, and Christina was a saint for putting up with me through it all. During that year, I became obsessed with the final season of The O.C. The Boston Globe excerpted me a few times in their now-defunct “Readers’ Blogs” section. I went on Accutane and eventually stopped when I realized that it’s probably easier to get a handgun permit than it is to get a prescription for Accutane (you have to get a new one every month) when you’re a woman of childbearing age. I re-wrote my novel that was my senior thesis and started looking for an agent. I wrote for Not For Tourists and had an ill-advised biography that included the phrase “spews generational angst.” While researching one of my Not For Tourists pieces, I got lost in a park in the dark in East Boston and spent a terrifying half hour trying to find my way out. I tried to figure out which bars I could go to without running into too many college students. I went to a Christmas party where we spent the whole time talking about how tired we were and reminiscing about college. I went on a date with a guy I met at a bar. He creeped me out. I survived The Great Cartoon Bombing of Boston. I watched the 2007 Superbowl with a bunch of loud, drunk, slightly crass Greek Orthodox seminarians (aka my roommate Chris’s friends). Erin, Lindsey, and Jackie had to move out of their apartment after a sewage leak. I pigged out with Christina for the last episode of Gilmore Girls. I celebrated my twenty-third birthday by going to Potterpalooza in Brookline and getting the last Harry Potter book. I was happy. I was sad. I was scared. I cried, I had anxiety attacks, I had psychosomatic illness, I had hypochondria. Christina and Erin graduated from grad school and found jobs. Christina moved to Fall River just as I got a new job.

The next year started with a new roommate, Stephanie, moving into the room that Christina had vacated. I started my new job and hit it off right away with my new boss. Within four months, I got promoted, which I’m still insanely proud of. I made new friends at work. The Red Sox won the World Series again. I joined Match.com and went on some awful dates. I had a huge crush on a coworker. I reviewed books for TeensReadToo. I went on my first business trip to San Francisco and had the time of my life. I went on another business trip to Philadelphia and sat next to a hilarious woman on the way back. A lot of my old coworkers ended up working with me again due to a merger and the incestuous world of college publishing. I tried sushi for the first time and got completely addicted to it. I drooled over Michael Phelps. I got bitten by a dog. I got so sick of riding the Green Line to work all the time (Ginny just posted about how annoying all the college students on the B Line are) that I decided to move to Davis Square.

Year 3 started off in Davis Square, which I absolutely love. My commute to work was cut in half. I traveled to Savannah on business. Julie and I joined a chorus, which was a lot of fun. I voted for Obama and watched his inauguration with my coworkers. I got hooked on Damages and reruns of The Golden Girls. I went on a business trip to Georgia where, for the first time in my life, I got pulled over due to a broken taillight on my rental car. I also went to Chicago on business. I joined my office softball team. Unfortunately, I also started experiencing anxiety again that year, and I began therapy, which helped me a lot.

In Year 4, I went on more dates than any other year. I dated one guy for two months, then decided I didn’t want to keep seeing him, but the experience gave me hope. I took a great Grub Street class that helped my writing out a lot. I watched all ten Best Picture nominees. I went on Celexa for my anxiety, which massively improved. I got a new roommate, who told me within a week of moving in that my alarm clock was too loud and causing her to lose so much sleep she might get fired. (Seriously.) There was some drama this year—I didn’t get a job that I really wanted and thought that I would get. I was so upset—it felt like a bad breakup. There was some family conflict as well, and to this day I’m hurt by it. But plenty of good things happened, too. My sister ran the Boston Marathon. I traveled with my family to Aruba. And the year ended with me getting another promotion and traveling to Washington, DC on a business trip.

Year 5 was pretty awesome. I saw Wicked. I ran the Princess Half-Marathon and went to Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my sister. I went to my five-year college reunion. I went to Las Vegas for Jon and Steph’s wedding and went to a Celine Dion concert. I went to Aruba again and went parasailing. I went to my cousin Ryan’s beautiful wedding. I had a kick-ass birthday party. I started training for my second half-marathon, and I moved to a new apartment, still near Davis Square. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

I’m still single and still struggling. But would I ever go back to five years ago? Hell, no. Life has gotten so much better in so many ways.

I’ve now been on about twenty first dates. I’ve decided not to go to grad school, although never say never. Erin, Lindsey, and Jackie finally all moved out of their apartment. I’ve moved up within my industry and am hoping to move up even more. I’ve made a lot of new friends, particularly through work. Oh, and the Sox are currently battling it out with the Yankees for the division title and will probably make it to the playoffs this year. And Jon Lester recovered completely and went on to pitch a no-hitter and win the final game of the 2007 World Series.


When I was a kid, I never went to camp in the summer. I never visited relatives (they all lived near me in Massachusetts) and I never traveled outside of New England.

All I wanted to do was swim.

When I was six, my family joined a swim and tennis club in my town that was more like a community pool than a country club. C-Town Swim and Tennis Club (CS&T) had an L-shaped, 25-yard pool and a baby pool behind a clubhouse that had a lobby and two bathrooms. There were vending machines, lots of grass, and a four-square court. The tennis courts were located off the driveway.

In a game of word association, it’s the place I associate with both “summer” and “childhood.” I can’t remember what I used to do in the summer before we joined. From the time I was six, every summer was the same. I was at the club every day. I saw the same families every year and the same old friends. I started competitive swimming, the sport that consumed my life in high school, on CS&T’s swim team when I was seven years old and didn’t quit until I was too old to swim on the team anymore. And every year, the swim team was undefeated, like the basketball team in the movie Pleasantville. Actually, CS&T was like Pleasantville in a lot of ways: nothing ever changed, everyone was usually happy, and no one ever wanted to leave.

I could go on for days about all my memories of that place. The day I started swim team and was so tired that I collapsed, exhausted, into bed at home, ready to quit. My first ribbon when I was eight, for twelfth place at championships, which I was incredibly proud of. Draping towels over picnic tables and playing house with my friend Caroline in between swim team and swim lessons when we were little. (We usually pretended we were orphans who would get rescued by a rich old lady—we must have been reading the Samantha books in the American Girl series too much.) Playing games with friends over on the grass—I can still hear everybody screaming, “Witchy Witchy, are you coming out tonight?” Staying up all night in a tent at the club sleepover. Going out for ice cream with Andrea, my favorite lifeguard, whom I worshipped. Celebrating my ninth birthday at the club on a cloudy day and having the whole pool to ourselves. Spending all season trying to learn how to dive with Andrea when I was nine only to get the hang of it on the day of championships. Winning my first medal, for fourth place, at championships when I was eleven. Watching my dad win the cannonball contest at the club’s annual Family Day. Running away from Caroline as she tried to wipe her egg-smeared hands off on me after the egg we were using in the egg toss on Family Day broke all over her. Participating in skits at the club pep rally before championships. Going on a cruise of the Boston Harbor Islands with older kids on the swim team. “Catching” the little kids in the six-and-under age group, who only swam to the halfway point of the pool in meets and needed older kids there to help them when they finished. Going to Canobie Lake Park on a club-sponsored trip. Taking pictures in the deep end with an underwater camera. Celebrating my fifteenth birthday with a surprise party my friends threw for me at the club. Baby-sitting for CS&T families. Winning my first “Most Improved” trophy when I was fifteen. Taking a lifeguarding course with a bunch of friends when I was sixteen. Working at the club for four years when I was in college and becoming one of those lifeguards I had idolized.

You get the idea. As Josh, who was the teacher in that first swim lesson of mine twenty years ago (wow…twenty years ago?), says, it’s a special place. And he should know. He was a member as a child and joined the maintenance staff when he was fourteen. He became a lifeguard, then head coach, and until last year, when he was promoted to dean at the high school where he was previously a teacher, the club’s manager.

This summer, there are all sorts of things I’ve wanted to do. I made a list of everything I wanted to do this summer and have made good progress on it. I’ve also made a “Bucket List” of things I want to accomplish in my life and a list of places I want to travel. I’m amazed at how different I am now from that kid who just wanted to swim. As a child, I didn’t care about seeing the world. I didn’t want to travel when I had all I wanted right in my hometown. Why, I thought, would I want to spend my summer doing anything other than what I already knew I loved?

I’m twenty-seven now and don’t know what my future holds. I am, as my blog title indicates, a struggling single twenty-something who doesn’t yet, and may never, have the husband, kids, and house in the Boston suburbs that I so want. But if I ever do have kids, what I had with CS&T is what I want for them. Not necessarily the specifics of the way I used to spend my summers, but I hope that my hypothetical future children will be so happy with what they have that they can’t imagine that anything else could be better.

As for me, I’m working on getting myself to that place in my current life. Stay tuned.

Fifteen Years of Melodrama

Today I turn 27, which Jill and Rebekah have called the “scary age.” I am now officially in my late twenties, which is so weird. And it sounds so much older- maybe it’s the extra syllable. I look around at the company I’ve been working at for four years, where I was one of the youngest people when I started working here, and realize that I no longer fall into that category, not by a long shot. I am still single and still struggling, but will only be a twenty-something for three more years.

Before I made public my desire to spew generational angst, I wrote my feelings down the old-fashioned way: diaries and journals. Sometimes they had locks, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes I wrote “Dear Diary,” sometimes I called my diary a name like Anne Frank called her diary Kitty, and sometimes I didn’t call it anything. Sometimes I wrote every day, sometimes I caught up later, sometimes I waited until I had some kind of deep thought and then wrote about it. In elementary school, if no significant events occurred that day (and to be clear, significant events included having pizza for dinner, getting a video from the video store, and going to the pool), I wrote, “Nothing happened.”

I’m about to move to a new apartment in the same area, and as I was moving, I found all the old diaries and journals that I saved. It’s funny looking through them now and seeing what was so important to me back then. I was so melodramatic- everything from not being allowed to carry a backpack between classes to the results of
Making the Band sent me into a tizzy.

So I thought that I would summarize the fifteen years before SSTS by sharing with you one bit of overreaction for each year. Without further ado:

Age 21: Really funny in retrospect
“Editing jobs for recent college grads also don’t pay much. I read somewhere that it’s actually better to get a job in sales or marketing or something at a publishing company and switch over to editing later. Unfortunately, not only would sales or marketing bore me, I would suck at them. Like I said, my people skills leave a lot to be desired.”
(I did, of course, end up landing one of those low-paying editing jobs, but I’ve also worked in marketing and am now hoping to move into sales and then a higher marketing position eventually. Go figure.)

Age 20: Emo-Katie

“Sometimes I feel completely crazy and sometimes I feel like the sanest person in the world. Sometimes I’m totally comfortable with myself and sometimes I think there are a million things wrong with me that I need to fix.

I think I missed out on a lot of the anxieties that people have their freshman year of college, and I’m making up for that now. I don’t know where I’m going or what I want. I feel like this T-shirt Jon has: ‘I’m Confused…Wait, Maybe I’m Not!’”

Age 19: Not the holiday most people would romanticize

“I wish we could go back to April Fool’s Day. We were all so happy then.”

Age 18: Mortal sins committed against me on AIM

“Around the time I started to realize that BQ didn’t like me, I noticed that she didn’t have me on her buddy list. I asked her if she had my screen name and she said yes. But she didn’t have many people on there, so I didn’t care too much. I only IM’ed her I think twice, both times in response to away messages saying she was upset or sick. Not long after that, I noticed that she wasn’t online anymore, but she was on C’s computer. So I figured she made it so only people on her buddy list could view her info, which is a pretty bitchy thing to do in itself. But last week I noticed that while she didn’t show up under (first screen name), she did show up under (second screen name). So you know what she did? She blocked me. SHE FUCKING BLOCKED ME!!!!! THAT FUCKING BITCH!!!!!!!!”
(Remember when life revolved around AIM? Getting blocked on AIM was the ultimate insult–even worse than being defriended on Facebook. This girl BQ (Bitch Queen) had done plenty of bitchy things away from the computer, but for some reason blocking me on AIM was what sent me over the edge.)

Age 17: College application angst

“Nothing makes me stand out. I’m not good at swimming–I couldn’t even make sectionals– I don’t have A’s in all my classes, my class rank is only 18, I’m not president of Student Council or editor-in-chief of the Voice or the yearbook, I haven’t had a lead in any of the plays or even a big part, I’m not a National Merit Semifinalist. Even my essay wasn’t that great.”

Age 16: The woes of junior year

“I have a ton of homework, AND the musical, AND track starts next week. And my English teacher is really pissing me off. She grades so hard and I’M DOING SO BAD! Plus, I have other things to worry about. Like studying for SATs, and looking for colleges, and looking for a summer job, and trying to get my writing published. I have like no time for fun anymore. Life is sooo stressful!”
(I’ll cut myself some slack on this one because junior year of high school was, honestly, pretty jam-packed. I don’t know how I ever made it through high school doing everything I was doing.)

Age 15: Reality TV angst

“THEY ANNOUNCED THE O-TOWN MEMBERS ON MAKING THE BAND!!! And one of them is Ikaika!! I can’t believe it! He’s never even there! How could he be in the band! And Bryan and Mike didn’t make it!??? I thought Mike was the one guy who was definitely in!…At least Ashley Parker Angel made it. I looove him.”
(If you don’t remember, the first Making the Band was about the making of the boy band O-Town, singers of such brilliant lines as “I’ve had the rest of you now I want the best of you, it’s time for show and tell.” For the record, Ashley was hot and Ikaika was a whiny bitch.)

Age 14: Honors class snobbery

“I really hate my health class. With honors classes you’re in with mostly nice kids. Even chorus has mostly nice kids. But in classes like gym and health, you’re thrown in with all kinds of kids. And my health class is the worst. It’s full of juvenile delinquents and druggies- how ironic. My only real friend in the class is S. I mean, there are a few nice kids in my class, but for the most part, it’s all druggies and jerks.”

Age 13: The first “horrible, tragic thing” was probably a B+

“But another horrible, tragic thing has happened. I suppose it’s not as bad as war or death or even flunking a course, but it is such a disappointment! We can’t go on the Spanish field trip. I was wicked looking forward to it, but it’s on the same day as another field trip. It wicked stinks.”
(I notice in these diaries that I used to say “wicked,” in the Bostonian sense, a lot more when I was younger. However, here I’m completely misusing the word.)

Age 12: Holy overreaction, Batman!

“We’ve got a BIG problem here. The teachers have decided that from now on we won’t be able to carry our backpacks around from class to class with us. Is that unfair or what?”

Age 11: Fuzzy math

“I have mixed feelings today. Half of me wants to shout for joy and half of me wants to cry. And part of me is confused.”

Age 10: People never even solve mysteries

“Books always tell you not to give up, and I’m not going to give up, but I won’t do well. In books, when people say these words, they always turn out not to be true. But in real life…it just doesn’t work that way in real life. Books just aren’t honest. I mean, I love books, but they lie. People never even solve mysteries. Like I said, life isn’t fair.”
(A recurring theme of my childhood– I read so much and always wanted, and in many cases expected, life to turn out the way it did in the books I read.)

Age 9: Let it snow

“Today was the most boring day. We went to Grandma’s. She wasn’t home. We went to a store. It was boring. Then it snowed. At least I can look forward to that.”

Age 8: Poor little Katie- bad haircuts will never stop sucking

“Dear Diary,
Today I went to McDonald’s. Then I got my hair cut. The great hair disaster. I look so stupid. Katie.

Age 7: Sorry, Caroline

“Nobody is any fun anymore. My dad’s on vacation so I can’t play with my friends. L. is on vacation. C’s mom is having an operation. And I hate playing with my dumb sister.”
(Note: when my dad took a week off and we weren’t going anywhere, my parents didn’t want me playing with my friends because they wanted the whole family to do things together. I was not so crazy about that idea.)

And here I am now:

Katie, survivor of a lifetime of angst and melodrama. But of course, some cool stuff occasionally happened to me, too. So I’ll leave you with a record of one of those things:

November 29, 1992

“Dear Diary,
A spaceship landed in my neighborhood. We have proof. I went bike riding. Katie.”