I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a new blog for a while now. My old one (here) had started to feel like I was still clinging to my semesters abroad, and the posts I wrote felt forced. These last 6-8 months have been busy, fulfilling, and outright frustrating, and I find I still have lots to say about lots of things. This bio will not be short and sweet, but I hope it satisfies the curious mind on my background and establishes both my credibility and complete lack thereof.
Growing up, my multi-talented parents would joke about Mom’s ability to answer Jeopardy questions on any and all subjects, and Dad’s fix-it skills. They were my original models of a “jack of all trades and master of none,” a phrase I learned much too late that they did not in fact invent. (This is an ongoing revelation, as every 80s movie, 90s sitcom, and research paper leads me to a new line that I’ve heard for as long as I can remember. Turns out “I’m full of ’em, Jerry” [Seinfeld] and “You’ll get nothing and like it” [Caddyshack] are not Mom-and-Dad originals.)
Generally, I’m able to follow most conversations and learn loads by asking the right questions based on my puddle-deep familiarity. This is fun for me, to add to my breadth of knowledge. Often, however, it makes me look like a fool for nodding along to a diatribe I only halfway understand, hoping that eventually something will be said that will clue me in. That the resolution is coming at the end. That I’ll have a brilliant “aha!” moment, like walking into a conversation that’s halfway over and trying to use every verbal cue, facial expression, and laugh to figure out what’s happening. Except I’ve been there the whole time, leading this person to believe that I’m not only invested in what he/she is saying and have an opinion on the topic based, of course, on my serious face with timed eyebrow raises, nodding, and mm-ing. He/she inevitably asks a question that requires me to deliver an in-depth response, and I inevitably respond with a, “Sorry, wait, what?”
I feel either very smart and self-satisfied, or like a dumb asshole. Sometimes both.
In high school, I was a nerd-jock and a minority: 7th in my class of 400ish and soccer captain, a middle-class white girl in a suburban school with close to urban demographics. It’s a role I haven’t played since 2008 and don’t expect to again soon. I started college playing soccer as a bio/pre-med major doing virology research. A semester in I quit soccer, and a year and a half after that, I became an English major with a writing concentration. This was due in large part to working at the school’s writing center and my first earth-shattering revelation that words, not science, were my thing.
That same year, I added French as a second major because language fascinates me and I’d already spent near 10 years studying the language of my maternal grandfather. I spent a semester in Australia (the impetus for that original blog) and a semester in France, then took an internship in New York in publishing. The city was incredible and terrible in every way anyone has ever described New York, but I was broke and I didn’t love the work or the city. Despite the open position at my imprint doing the full-time version of the internship I had, I didn’t apply and I quit my part-time hostessing gig to move home and take a month-long road trip with a legendary Australian friend.
I returned to my parents’ house in Cincinnati, my childhood home, just before Christmas of 2012 with a hard-on for traveling, two liberal arts degrees and no career prospects – hell, no idea of what I even wanted to do! – and with double digits in my bank account. Two months later, I was in the same position but with single-digit-dollars to my name and a significant raincloud over my head that would have made Eeyore’s look like a welcome spring shower. I ran a half marathon in May 2013 because I was feeling so down on myself and out of shape that I wanted to challenge myself to 1) get off the couch and away from the computer, 2) get back in some kind of shape that didn’t resemble a donut, spare tire, or amorphous blob, and 3)…I always do this to myself. I start lists, and then run out of points after #2, which is just unimpressive. Whatever, you get the point.
It’s now February 2014, and I just filed W2s and 1099s from my 8 jobs of the year. I’m a high school building sub at my alma mater and a bookstore employee, as well as a soccer coach (younger girls club teams, and assistant varsity at my high school), quiz team coach, and speech coach. I’m constantly pulled in different directions, running from one place to the other, forced to recall or relearn that thing that I think I learned that one time from that person. I’m forever being thrown into uncomfortable and unexpected situations and given the opportunity, the challenge, to sink or swim. It’s invigorating and tiring, and I love it most of the time.
I say all this to say that I think my experiences have afforded me the opportunity to hone my expertise in some fields, and make glaringly apparent my shortcomings. Short versions of these lists include soccer, Harry Potter, and traveling, which weigh against rugby, physics and technology, and the current happenings and whereabouts of the Kardashians. My strengths and weaknesses generally come in equal parts pride and shame, and I’m getting better at telling which are which.
Come explore, learn with me, and share in my embarrassment. Because if anyone’s going to call you out on your bullshit, it’s a class of high schoolers sitting in front of a sub.
If you’d like to contact me, email me at kileykatey (at) gmail (dot) com.