Sunday, December 23, 2007


Hello everyone! Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

Well, I am sitting in the Denver airport, waiting for a flight to take me to Wichita. I was supposed to get there yesterday around 11am but instead will arive tonight around 7pm. It's been quite the travel experience but I am staying positive. I think in times like this, when weather makes it difficult to get from one place to another, it is important to remember it is out of our control! There is nothing that I can do and therefore I should not stress out about things. I have definitely had a lesson in living in the present the past couple of days. :)

Some good news: It poured like crazy all day Thursday and neither of the roofs we built had any leaks, so that is great!!! Unfortunately, Thursday was when I was going to take all of my pictures, so I didn't get around to that with the craziness, so I'll have to get those when we return in January.

Way back at the end of CTI, there was a talent show. One of the Corps Members, Anthony, performed a song that he wrote about AmeriCorps, so if you'd like to check it out (and I definitely suggest you do!), here is the link. I think it's a great song, regardless of whether you're in AmeriCorps or not!
(you'll have to copy/paste the address b/c i can't get the link to work, sorry!)

I am excited to get back to Biloxi on the 2nd to start work again. I can't believe I just left, although it is definitely time for a break. There will be 60-115 volunteers per week living with us in the church throughout's a "blitz-build" month. We're going to get so much done!

I am wishing everyone a joyful holiday season, and I hope you are with those you love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

coming together

It's hard to believe I have been here for almost 3 weeks. Our team has accomplished so much...digging, siding, roofing... bonding with each other. It's been so great!

Libby and I finished the roof today (different one than in the pictures)...we saw this one from the beginning to the end. It was quite the trial, as the house is not exactly equal in its side of the roof is longer than the other, and even one side is not even with itself! Ahhh! This led to many the frustration...but we made it through! I am very proud of Emily, Libby and myself because we had little direction from Peter (our boss, basically). I truly feel like I know how to do something now!

Anyhow, I am headed to Kansas on Saturday and I am pretty excited for a break from work. It's going to be a lot colder than what I have been experiencing as of late. I think this will be the first Christmas that I will be quite a few years. Woohoo!

I guess there's not too much to say, just that I've been experiencing more fun each day, learning the ropes of construction, and I am excited for Christmas!

If I don't post before...Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you are all safe and sound with family and/or friends...and your hearts are filled with peace. Love you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

rock out

Here are some photos from the house I put roofing on and dug out underneath...and "relaxation time" last saturday

This is the first day...and that's me up on the roof!

About to visit "push up city" with Libby

The area that we dug out...I think this is after we were done because it looks really good...

Oh, and here is me unloading dirt!

WE ARE FINALLY DONE!!!! I know the pile doesn't look too big from this picture...but it was huge. Really.

Aaaaand this is the caulking group. Aren't we bad ass??

Here we are heading out to the water! Isn't it a beautiful beach?

Relaxing a bit on Saturday night...Joe, Maggie, and Me!

Wee! Fun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Yay for Natalie Dee!

The roof I have been working on was finished by some of my teammates today and I got to start on a new one! In the morning, I kicked out some old window frames, which let out a lot of aggression--not really sure where it came from, but it was great!

I believe tomorrow we are going to a house dedication, which should be pretty great. It's awesome to see a family get the key to their new home.

Everything keeps rolling along here in Biloxi. I can't believe that Christmas is almost upon us. I've got some serious shopping to do!

Monday, December 10, 2007


If you hold on to the handle, she said, it's easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it's more fun if you just let the wind carry you.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

thick air

IT's 75 degrees with 86% humidity. My goodness, I am happy not to be here when it is 100% humidity because even this is an experience for a Northwesterner like myself!

For our ISP today, we worked with ULM (Urban LIfe Mission) handing out food, household supplies like pots and pans, and toiletries. We literally set up shop on the side of the road and people stopped and were eager to take things home with them. There were several stories of just moving into an apartment or into a FEMA cottage...but everyone seemed fairly upbeat and very thankful for the supplies.

Afterwards, we finally went to the beach! We've been driving past it every day but have never had the energy to stop and check it out. The sand is beautiful white and the water is warm (compared to where I'm from)! Apparently we are not supposed to swim in it, though, because there is still so much debris floating around and contaminating the water. Bummer. Anyhow, it was so nice to have bare feet in sand and to have some quiet time with water. :)

Now, it's time for a little rest, a shower, and whatever the evening holds! Yay!

Friday, December 7, 2007

1 week down

Here I am, Friday evening, full week of work under my belt...and all I did was laundry. Sheer exhaustion--I don't think I have ever felt like this in my life. My body aches, my mind doesn't work too well.......and I feel great! I feel proud that I helped dig an enormous amount of dirt out from under a house (for the garage to be layed), I put up half of a ROOF, I caulked up a storm, and painted like crazy.

Never have I done so much in one week for such a good cause.

The house that I was working on this week is a brand new home for a one-legged Vietnam veteran and his wife. Prior to the storm, they lived in their (old) home for 32 years. As with many of the homes in the area, it was destroyed during Katrina and the couple could not afford to rebuild. They've moved into 5 different FEMA trailers over the course of the past 2 years and are now in a FEMA "cottage." It must be amazing for them to finally be watching a home go up. I feel so fortunate to be a part of their future. My sweat is actually going into their home.

We haven't had a lot of time to explore Biloxi other than our drive to and from work, which is beautiful. It goes right along the coast--we see the sun set over the water almost every day! Tomorrow we are doing an ISP (individual service project--we need 80 hours) with another organization down here--not sure what we will be doing, but it'll likely be interesting!

As people always say when they experience something like this, there simply are no words. The people I am with are so unique and amazing...I have yet to figure out how to describe them. But, they are making this for me. Each with their own quirks and hilarities--more laughing than I have ever known.

I am counting my blessings tonight, every night. I know that whatever happens in my life is happening for a reason and the connections I make and have with others are everlasting.

So thankful. SO joyous. So loved.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Today, my birthday, has been wonderful. From scrambling around on a rooftop to a candle in a brownie...I am surrounded by amazing people and amazing service being done.

I haven't had a chance to get photos from the first day on site, but here's a celebratory one from a night out during CTI. Yay for team members!

Myself, Maggie, Peter, Emily, Libby, Joe, and Alicia! Cheers!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

just call me kate

The past few days have been a test to a lot of my emotions and thoughts. Yesterday we briefly visited New Orleans and today we toured where we will be working (tomorrow!). The devastation that still exists in both places is shocking. I do not have words for much of what I was feeling and struggling with.

It is shocking--despite knowing that the reason we are here is because the work has yet to be finished--exactly how much there is still to do. Even more shocking, disgusting, unnerving, is seeing the disparities between the haves and the have-nots. It is clear where the money goes--to those who already have it and can access resources to get it.

Something that I do not really know how to feel about is the issue of the casinos here in Biloxi. I don't understand how $550 million can be spent to refurbish a casino when its shadow is cast upon homes that have yet to see any real help. I don't get it, as I have said to many of you already. While it is probably true that the rebuilding and the operations of the casinos have brought money back into the community--are those that truly need that money receiving any of its benefits? This "trickle-down" approach that our country depends so much upon does not seem to benefit those who need the most help.

Is it wrong of me to question why our country is not doing more to help its own people? Or to be confused? Angry?

In reference to the title of this entry, I have decided to introduce myself as "Kate" while I am here in the Gulf. This decision was not come to lightly. Prior to arriving here, I thought a lot about my name and the reactions I may get. However, I don't think that I prepared myself at all for the reality. In 2 days I have had 4 (very) negative reactions to the fact that I was choosing to stick with "Katrina." It came down to how I can best serve this community (which is what I am here for!). I feel like taking that first barrier away will make things much easier. .....Let's hope I can remember to answer to it!

I am excited to begin work tomorrow and celebrate my birthday at the same time. This is the begining of a life-changing year. I can feel it in my bones!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

travel travel

This is Maggie and me when we were at camp in the Redwoods during CTI. We're throwing up the 4's for Gold 4 (our team)...and sporting our coveralls, which make me feel INVINCIBLE!


I am in Shreveport, Louisiana! Tomorrow we drive to Biloxi. Our iternerary thus far goes as follows:

1st night: Needles, CA (not much to report)

2nd night: Albuquerque (sp?), NM (Again, not too exciting...although we did get to stay in a Days Inn..big step up from Motel 6 the night before)

3rd night: Abilene, TX (we went bowling (!!!!) and it was quite the experience...and also had a voluntary dance party afterwards which was quite entertaining)

TONIGHT: Went to the Louisiana Boardwalk...basically an outdoor shopping center...HOWEVER, xmas music was playing and I got to dance all over and that made my night. Simply amazing.

Despite being crammed into a 15 passenger van, driving across country, this is one of the best times I have had since....CTI! Ha! Life just keeps getting better, I swear.

When we get to Biloxi, we will have some veg/tourist time on Saturday and then we have orientation on Sunday. Monday (my birthday!) we begin WORK! Yayyyyy!!!

I think it is quite fitting that I start work on my birthday. What a perfect way to begin my 23rd year, right? Doing what I love? Could it BE any better??!

There is a lot of joy bursting out of my being right now. Not sure if I can handle it!

Let me know if you have any questions about what I am going to be doing, I know I haven't been updating very much or explaining things too well...

I love you all and miss you. I hope everyone is smiling BIG!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

finishing up

It's been awhile! Things have been very busy, with today really the first respit, only because we are basically DONE with CTI (Corps Training Institute). The only thing left is to give our project briefing to the higher-ups, and then induction is tomorrow. I will officially be an AmeriCorps *NCCC member! Wahoo!

The past couple of weeks have been a lot of fun. I took a trip down to San Francisco for the weekend, spent 3 days in the Redwoods at camp, and had a wild and crazy night with some of the over-21-ers on my team. It's been so great to bond with everyone on my team and I truly feel like we are going to have a great time. I know I keep saying that...but it's strange to have such positive feelings bubbling forth so often! :)

I will update better at a later date...just wanted to let you all know that I am basically done with training and I head to BILOXI in less than a week! Monday is the day!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL. I sure know that I have a ton to be thankful for this year, I hope you do, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


It's funny how I feel the cracks and the holes, the broken parts of my heart, slowly starting to fill themselves in. It's not necessarily because of one person but rather a group of relationships fostering a community in which laughter and hard work go hand in hand. I am no longer encompassed with all that is wrong with me. No, I am instead surrounded by encouragement and friendship. No one is asking me to change and I am not asking myself to.

I think I am changing. I am becoming so much happier with myself and who I am. But, it's not for someone else. It's for me. And whether I change or not, it doesn't matter, because whatever I am doing with myself, it is for me.

My team is amazing. I have not laughed so hard in quite some time. It's been a long time coming, and I am ready to have fun. To ache with joy for these people who I will spend the next 9.5 months with. We are going to have problems, but we are a family, we will get through them. And we will laugh about them later.

Yesterday we worked all day--the first half planting 70 trees in a beautiful park, the second half working at a local zoo/animal sanctuary. It was great to go home afterwards, knowing I had worked my butt off and I had made a difference. I can come back to Sacramento in 20 years and those trees I planted, they will probably still be there, providing much-needed shade. So, not only am I meeting amazing people who are filling up my heart, but I am doing service, which has always had that effect on me. What a great combination, right?

I am feeling oh-so-thankful that I am able to participate in this program at this point in my life. It could not have come at a better time, and I could not be happier to be here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I ran 3.5 miles the other day...for the Apple Hill Race which benefitted their local school district. It was so much fun and I feel great because I have never run that far, or on such a difficult/hilly course. YAY!

Here are some pictures of me, the girls from my "pod" that I did it with, and some other shots. I don't have it figured out where I can write notes between the, anyone? :) Oh, and the first is of my roomie and I at the pumpkin patch a week ago! YAY for fun!

So there are the was a truly great day and I am so glad that I did it. After the run, I went to see Into the Wild, which was both heartbreaking and amazing. Made me a little homesick for AK!

This week we are doing a lot of training. Lesson in flexibility #4,911,038: the Red Cross might be able to do our disaster relief training (that they were not able to do previously due to the fires down south) but it will be during our 3 day weekend! Oh AmeriCorps, how I love that you keep me on my toes. It's actually great to not really know what is going on is teaching me amazing sponteneity. LOVE it. :)

I have been so happy the past week, I really feel great. Hope everyone is doing well in your respective lives. mmmmmmmuah!

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I am absolutely exhausted but I thought I'd do a quick update to let everyone know my latest news....

I am going to Biloxi, Mississippi for my first spike (project)!! My team will be working for Northern Virginia Habitat for Humanity...we will hopefully build 9-10 houses, pretty much all of the way through! AH! I am so excited and so happy to be doing this. I can't wait to leave. Apparently Biloxi is less than 2 hours from New Orleans...and close to the water. We will be in an urban environment, living at a Lutheran Church with one room for us, one bathroom/shower inside, and 2 shower trailers outside. They will provide us with meals (bfast and dinner) Sunday through Friday but there may not be veggie I will see how that goes!

Today (7:30-5) I volunteered at a kids carnival/festival at a nearby school--ran the duck pool game--and saw lots of great children. It was fun and felt great to be doing something rather than sitting on my butt all day on my day off. Tomorrow I am running a 5k in a supposedly beautiful area (Apple Hill, anyone?) and am pretty excited about that as well!

Things are busy and FUN and I am really feeling great about my team and the work we will be doing together.


Off for a nap. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Maybe I don't want a Happy New Year, he said. Maybe I want an intense New Year with a lot of growth experiences... (story people)

From the first morning, heading off to San Francisco, a couple of pictures from my trip.

We gather on the field, the moon high above us, boldly shining through the scattered puffs of white. Like sheep milling about waiting for the inevitable shearing, anticipation pulses through our veins. We curse our muscles, straining to get that last pushup. We sprint towards the finish, gasping for breath. Steam billows from our bodies, too warm for the chilly air.

We are at PT.


We are loving it.

There is something to be said about rising before the moon sets to push your body beyond its limit.

I was actually placed in the C1 group, which is unfortunately a lot easier than I would like it to be, but I am going to move up to B next week. However, I am finding ways to push myself, even going so far as to do extra situps and pushups (!!). This is a great feeling.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

getting on with it

Well just a quick update--

As of last night, I am no longer in my "pod" and have my permanent team assignment! Gold Unit Team 4. So, that's pretty exciting. I know who I am going to be spending the majority of my time with over the next 9.5 months, which is a relief. It should be quite interesting, to say the least, but I think it will be good. I really like my team leader--he is very motivating and seems as though he will help us to create team unity, which is going to be extremely important.

Additionally, I completed my baseline test today. For those of you who don't know, that is the PT test that I had where I was required to run 1.5miles and do as many pushups and situps in 2 minutes as I could. I ran it in 14.46 minutes which means that I will be in group "B"--smack dab in the middle. It's still going to be challenging and I am pretty excited to get whipped into shape!

This afternoon I have some downtime so I am doing laundry (at this point I only have 1 tshirt that was issued to me, so the laundry is WELL needed). It is very warm here-70's to 80's and it looks like it will continue to be so through next week.

After hearing that friends and family down in the San Diego are safe, I am very relieved, but my heart still goes out to them for the devastation that surrounds them. I have been asked if I will be sent down there, but they are not sending us anywhere until we receive ample training. The Red Cross was supposed to do disaster relief with us yesterday but they are quite busy down there with the fires, so that had to be put off. It makes my heart swell when I think that in a few weeks, I will be able to help out in a disaster such as what is happening down there right now. I can't wait to really be making a difference.

I hope everyone is healthy and happy. If you ever feel like writing, my address is:

(my name) Class 14 Gold 4
AmeriCorps *NCCC
3427 Laurel St
McClellan, CA 95652-1014

Love you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

new favorites

brian andreas...story people books and artwork:

-Often, I write all day long with white ink on white paper, late into the night, until it is all I can do to feel the letters curving to earth from the tip of the pen & then, I fall asleep. Dreaming of running, or maybe driving in a car the color of water & I wake the next day remembering nothing & I gather the stack of paper & a pen of black on the desk in front of me & the words begin to dance over the page like long legged insects across a still lake & the words in white whisper behind & underneath the new day. If there is any secret to this life I live, this is it: the sound of what cannot be seen sings within everything that can. & there is nothing more to it than that.-

-Are you a princess? I said & she said I'm much more than a princess, but you don't have a name for it yet here on earth.-

-These are little packets of light & you need to plant them early in the year & remember to mark where they were because lots of times they look like weeds in the beginning & it's not until later that you see how beautiful they really are.-

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

it goes in waves

A few of us went to San Francisco on Sunday, which was a fun adventure. We took the Greyhound bus there and back, which turned out to be just right. When we got there, we did some of the touristy things--rode the trolley car down to the waterfront/piers, chinatown...some of them went to Ghirardelli (i played in the water instead). It was fun but exhausting, mostly because there was so much more that I wanted to see--more of the true innerworkings of the city, not just the tourist spots. From the moment I stepped off the bus, I felt like I could live in that area--the city is beautiful and it (at least seemed) like the people are pretty friendly. I would like to go there with someone who has lived there, to see things that most do not--to get away from all of the crazy tourists! Overall, though, it was fun and a good thing to do on my day off.

My attitudes towards this program definitely go in waves. I hope that things start to even out a bit as I try to stay positive and keep the big picture in mind. So far there has been a lot of sitting in classrooms learning policy.

I am tired of these uniforms because they represent only uniformity. There is no individuality allowed, and this drives me absolutely up the wall. I guess the expectations that I had centered around a lot of free-loving liberals who wanted to save the world........and that isn't exactly what I am finding. We are all here for different reasons, we all come from different backgrounds. Needless to say, this is a big learning experience for me and I am sure this is just the start!

And then there are the dorms. Exactly like freshman year of college--roommate and all. And that is exhausting. We all know how much I enjoy living by myself. HA. I am saying goodbye to that quickly. :) However, I think it will be different once we are out on Spike and it is everyone living together. I don't know why I think it will be different.......but I keep telling myself that. ;)

Reading through this, I realize I sound fairly negative about the program, when in actuality it is largely positive. On Saturday we are participating in Make a Difference Day and will be helping out with community gardens in the area. I am excited to actually be doing something hands-on. I need this sort of things in order to be able to stand all the classroom sitting we are doing. :) And, I have met some really fun people who have allowed me to laugh and be myself, which is great.

Team selection is tomorrow evening and I am both excited and nervous. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 19, 2007

i'm here

Okay so I'm here...pretty much exhausted...and so happy not to be in my uniform clothing! It's pretty stiff...I'm not a fan of the belts and the pants... but it's not that bad. I'm going to try to type up more of what I've been up to, but I'm pretty tired.

So far, things are pretty good--lots of information but it's coming at us at a reasonable rate. The people are nice, and there are a lot of us.

The first night I was feeling very overwhelmed, mostly because of all of the regulations, the strictness is not what I signed up for. However, yesterday the director talked to us for awhile, mostly about what great things we are going to be doing, and I felt a lot better. Once you get past that there can't even be garbage in your trashcan in your room (??) and your shirt must be tucked in at ALL times... you remember what you're really here for--to help others, to do good things. And I'm excited. I am so excited about going out on my first spike, for the next 10 months.

We get our teams on Wednesday, which is pretty exciting. Right now we are in temporary "pods," with whom we spend most of our time during the day with.

Last night a group of us went out to check out the nearby establishments and found a definite biker bar, which was awesome, and then to the sports bar, which was more what most of us are used to. It was fun to get out and relax a bit (which we are allowed to do!)

Alright, I think I'm headed back to my room, might take a nap. I'll follow up later with more of how things are going/what we are doing and learning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

it's here!

So, I am about to put finishing touches on my packing...and then try to get some sleep...which probably won't happen. I am all jittery and hoping that I'm not forgetting anything. Eeep! It's finally here, I am off to save (at least part of) the world!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Okay, it starts now. The new life, the overturned leaf. As the days get closer to when I will leave for Sacramento, I am trying to pinpoint exactly what I want out of the next 10 months. How about the rest of my life?

1. I want to enjoy moments, whether big or small. I don't want to look back and think that I should have done this or that--I just want to do, do, do--and enjoy each moment for what it is.

2. Meet new people! Enough with this isolation that I have become so accustomed to. No longer do I only "need" one person. I have found a life that is so much richer when I am surrounded by those I love and who love me in return.

3. Break out of this box that I have closed myself into the past 2 years. I haven't grown enough, not in the way that I would like. Expand my horizons. Learn all that I can.

4. Save the world...or die trying. I don't want to let anything stand in my way. I don't want this fire to burn out and I will not let it. It's not enough to just do AmeriCorps, I need to continue to fight for what I believe in, what I care about, long after 10 months of service.

5. Find some semblance of peace, particularly in my heart. Come to an acceptance of what has been and move on. I guess, put my heart back together. One piece at a time.

6. grow, GROW, GROW

Two more days.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I received my flight itinerary today...I'll be into Sacramento at 1:09pm on Wednesday! Ah! It's real, I am actually going to do AmeriCorps. It's finally here. All this time waiting and it is finally (almost) here. I even took out my eyebrow piercing today to make it official (we can't have facial piercings while in the program, or at least while we are working, which is basically all the time). That was a little sad, but I got over it pretty quick when I realized the reason!

I also tried to put to rest this past relationship, tried to be sad for the last time, and am doing my best to move on. I sent off his things, said my goodbyes. It is sad how it all turned out--angry and disconnected--but this is probably the only way it could ever be final.

My grandparents, my mother, and I went out on a drive to the country this evening. It was really fun to hear my grandpa tell me stories about the old houses out there and where he once went to his country school teacher's for dinner. I complain about the wind here and sometimes about the backwardness, but when it comes down to it, this place is my history. My family has been here for generations and my blood is in this soil. How many people can say that? Can know specifically where their great grandparents did this or that? I can, and it means a lot.

Tonight as I watched the (gorgeous) sunset, I felt completely at peace. Thank goodness for family.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Things are still flat. And windy. The cat is getting used to the leash...I'll work on a photo of that for those who are interested. :)

Last night, after dealing with that fat cat, I took some time to look up at the sky and see the stars--without all of the lights from a city. I saw a shooting star and as silly as it sounds, made a wish. I stood there for probably 15 minutes and I let a lot of things out. It was surreal--feeling that wind whip around me from every direction-- letting so many emotions come and go at once. I tried to banish all of the hurt, I sent it away in the wind. With each deep breath of that wind I breathed in a new life. Things will be sent away, never to be seen again, and it will all be better!

I have 12 days and I will be in Sacramento. Lots to do! So much to pack! Jesse is letting me borrow his huge North Face duffel bag...I think I could fit in it if I tried... not to be completely filled up, but it is nice to have the extra space.

Gosh, I am ready for a big change. These 12 days can't go fast enough, now that time has stopped.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

the flattest state around

I'm in Kansas. Wish I had some pictures but basically a vast blue sky and flat flat ground sums it up pretty well. The wind never seems to stop blowing and time is slower here. It's a whole different world!

We've moved the stuff into the house but the title has yet to go through so we can't exactly set up residence yet. Calypso (the cat) is living in our car and I take him for little walks around the grandparents' backyard (on his leash).

I've been asking for so long for time to stop, for a chance to catch up, and I feel I may be getting that time now. I am healing, surrounded by family and wide open spaces. Lots of time to think on the drive out here (in between the license plate game with Jesse). I am ready for big changes, the single life, for spontaneity, for PT (!), temporary housing, even steel-toed boots.

Mark my words: I will thrive.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I am leaving Olympia in t-minus 2 days. Here we go. Goodbye to this stage of my life. Onto bigger and better things.

These mantras are circulating my mind at an almost overwhelming rate, dodging between the stressors and the deep breaths of calm.

It's sad to leave the place you spent your high school years. Strange to leave all those memories behind.

And at this point, so much more will be left with them. If I can manage it, I will leave behind (H)im, as well. I tried. He won't.

For now, focus on ME! (New mantra).

So! It begins!