Sunday, November 8, 2009

What do you mean this year doesn't exist?

I'm not supposed to be here. I'm not supposed to be doing these things. I'm not this person. But, since my real life can't start again until I go back to school next year, let's have a little fun while we wait, shall we?

First off, a quick catch up on what's gone on since India. I think the most important thing that happened is that I survived, made it home, and didn't bring any uninvited microscopic guests with me. Overall, I call that success.

Then there was my thesis. I wrote it, it rocked, it's over. Please don't make me relive that in blog form!

Then, I applied to exactly one grad program. I've always been pretty certain of what I want in life, so I really didn't see the need to apply to any safety schools. Luckily, the University of Edinburgh didn't disappoint. Given my research as an undergrad, they admitted me to the PhD program without a master's degree. Or in other words: Suck it monkeys, who you callin' small town?

Then I graduated. Wait no, that sentence was far too straightforward to describe my graduation day. Let's try that again:

I never intended to walk at graduation. Why would I? I went to the largest college on campus (whose name will not appear here because I consider it inaccurate and a total misrepresentation of most of the departments that comprise it). Besides, I had a ticket to DC and no immediate responsibilities. Then, approximately a week before I was to fly to DC (having finished my last .5 credits of "wellness" via independent study), I got a very unexpected phone call. It would appear that I had been nominated and elected Valedictorian of the Anthropology Department. Yep. That's right. Wait for it...wait for it...


And then I figured maybe I'd be nice and accept the honor and walk with my peeps. (hello peeps!) However, apparently American Airlines had other plans for my graduation day. Specifically, they thought it would be much cooler to strand me in Phoenix. Now I know what you're thinking: Oh dear, poor Cathlin! She's so soft spoken and shy, there is no way she was able to fight her way onto another flight! She must have missed her graduation after all! Poor little thing! (If you seriously think I'm that kind of pansy, we need to talk. Call me.)

Of course I got home in time. American Airlines doesn't like to switch passengers onto other airlines, but they will. Thank you Delta, by the way, for getting me to SLC exactly one hour before I was supposed to be in my seat on the stand, in front of thousands of complete strangers and several extremely important non-strangers. (PS, If you are one of the rock stars who came to my graduation, THANK YOU! You rock my planet, you really do.) Luckily, my supa-fly big sister was at the airport, waiting to drive like a mad woman for Provo. Unluckily, I didn't have time to grab my luggage. I had planned to wear my wine-colored dress under my graduation robes, but I think providence had a better idea. So I led the Valedictorians onto the stage in black pants and curly-toed Punjabi shoes. And really, why would I wear a dress to graduation? I wear the pants in this relationship, and we all know it.

Oh, and did I mention I had whooping-cough for my graduation? Yeah, trying not to cough up a lung while Elder Christopherson congratulates me on my achievements, ahh the memories. But I did it. I looked that whooping cough dead in the eyes and I said: "Not on my watch, beotch." Did you know Elder Christopherson served in the same mission as me? Yeah, we're tight.

And for the short version again: I graduated.

Suddenly, however, at the prospect of going right back to school mere weeks after finishing the-paper-that-almost-did-me-in (aka my thesis) I grew faint and began to see spots. In another stroke of luck, my awesome future PhD supervisor was totally fine with my plan to defer my enrollment for a year. I now have an official start date of Oct 10, 2010. And so it happens that I earned my self a year of free time. A year to live someone else's life. A year that doesn't exist.

I've decided to use this year to explore what it would be like not to be me. Already I've done several non-Cathlin things.

I nannied for a few weeks, and am happy to say the kids and I all survived (didn't they Gloria?)

I spent all the money in my bank account...on purpose. Normally, knowing that I had no job would have stopped me from flying around the country, from Utah to DC to New York to Utah to Phoenix (on purpose that time, hi John and Cammie!) to Las Vegas (hi Hillary!) to Utah to DISNEYLAND (Hi mommy!) to Utah to Seattle (Hi Gloria, hi ocean!) and eventually back to DC. Was it scary using all the money I had saved? Of course. Do I regret it? H to the no.

I went to the American Idol's Live tour, and screamed my voice to shreds for Adam Lambert. I knew how he flew on Idol, but I really hadn't expected him to go so..."Village People" on tour. But as Heather aptly put it, Adam's performance seemed to proudly declare "I'm here, I'm queer, and now I'm gonna dance." And oh, did he dance. That man could be gayer than the volleyball scene of top gun, and I'd still scream till my ears ring for him. And come to think of it, I pretty much did.

I sold my car. That's right, for the first time since I was approximately 12 years old, I am without my own car. I find it simultaneously liberating and confining. But the metro and I are growing on each other, I think. In fact, look for future posts about the anthropology of metro riding. I do love knowing I'm living a greener life without a car. I'm actively looking for other ways to decrease my carbon foot print, so if you have any ideas please share!

Oh, and I got a job. Now, that in itself is not a particularly strange thing for Cathlin to do, I know. And I kind of failed this step in the "live someone else's life" plan. You see, I'm supposed to be working at Borders, or Barnes & Noble, or Pottery Barn. But, we are living in a recession. So, I take what I can get, and if that means I have to work as a research assistant at a non-profit working to improve the public education program, well, then, I guess I'll take it. But it is a little closer to my real life chosen field than I had anticipated. Also, they told me there was no possibility for promotion when I took the job. Why, then, did they just promote me? Never fear, though. They can hand me the key to the company squash room, and it will have no impact on my long term PhD goals. This is, after all, the year that doesn't exist.

Future plans for the year that doesn't exist include (but are not limited to):

Learning to fence. (My class starts in January)
Learning to Tango. (I already found a club, just looking for the time)
Unleashing my sarcasm whenever I friggin want to. (You think I already do that? Boy, are you in for a surprise.)
Striking up conversations with total strangers in elevators, trains, and on street corners. (Freaky much? Bring it.)
Utilizing the power of parenthesis more often. (Like this!)

But what do you think? What things should I try in this non-year of my life? What are some things you would never expect Cathlin (or Jen, or Jenni, depending on how you know me) to do? Let me know, but I'm warning you: I just might do them!

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