Monthly Archives: October 2010

Line between laughter and sobs

I’ve always found it odd what a fine line exists between laughing hysterically and sobbing uncontrollably. When I’m doubled over in a wheezing belly laugh, tears are typically streaming down my cheeks. Likewise, when painful, salty, fat tears are flowing, I find myself oddly close to collapsing into hysterical laughter. Perhaps this stems back to my childhood when I would get hurt and go to my dad for comfort who would, without exception, make a joke that would have me giggling against my will. He showed little sympathy when we got hurt- when I got hit by a car, he scolded me for ruining my mom’s bike.
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Whatever the reason, I’ve also found this line between laughing and crying to be a very fine one when I’m with my Iron Well girls. Yes, we named ourselves. And yes, we have matching t-shirts. Don’t hate.

These six girls were hand-picked for me. Truthfully, I might not have picked them on my own to be my “life-long friends.” I might have picked girls who were more like me. However, I think that’s one of the beautiful aspects of our friendship- God brought us together with all our unique quirks and perspectives to form a pretty incredible group. We’re all a bit goofy, we all love the Lord, and we all care about our friendship. Care so much that we won’t let it dwindle despite living in different states and cities and experiencing different walks of life.
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We met at Westmont; were randomly selected to live in 3 dorm rooms in the same section of Page; were the last girls in the cafeteria one Friday night and decided then and there to be friends. Only God knew what type of bond would be formed as 7 freshmen girls decided to meet and pray together. We met all over campus but often times ended up on one girls’ bed. (One night we were on my top bunk and Jenny kindly pointed out that I had been wiping my boogers on the ceiling. I knew they’d be life-long friends when they just laughed and didn’t judge me. In my defense, who wants to climb off the top bunk to get a tissue? Not me. At least I wasn’t eating them.) Here we are at age 18 and the following year as sophomores at age 19.

Now, ten years after that first meeting, 5 marriages later, 3 babies later, several moves and new jobs later, we still meet and pray together. Once a year. For one weekend we get together and remember what a glorious gift we’ve been given: each other. This year we met in Palm Springs and though we swam, hiked, picnicked, got pedicures, saw a movie, played games, and ate, what I will remember most is the laughter and the tears. There was an abundance of both.
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You can’t do this with just anybody. You can’t laugh so hard you roll on the ground watching someone drool during chubby bunny if you’re just acquaintances. You can’t cry so hard that when you try to speak, it sounds like you’ve been sucking helium if you hardly know the person. Laughter and tears require trust. You have to let go of inhibitions and not care what your face looks like or how you sound because you trust that the others won’t care either. I love this. I love how I can laugh and cry with these girls without inhibitions. I love watching them laugh and cry- even if it is in the middle of a restaurant.
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We tend to cause a bit of a scene whenever we’re in public- maybe it’s because there’s 7 of us or because we’re usually laughing and loud; maybe it’s because 3 are currently pregnant or because of the matching attire; or maybe it’s because we’re a little weird and take pictures like this:

and like to come up with creative poses like these:
The first scene we caused was in a bathroom at a public elementary school in LA. Jenny, Amy and I were waiting for the rest of the girls to fly into LAX and took a walk in a nearby neighborhood. Both girls are preggers so with heavy bladders, we searched for a bathroom and found a school. A heavily locked school. Giant locks were at each entrance save for one which I convinced the girls to slip through. We cautiously searched for the bathrooms while attempting to walk with confidence so we wouldn’t be stopped for trespassing. When we finally found the little girls’ room, we slipped in only to find three very surprised 5 year old girls with huge eyes gaping up at us, jaws dropped, exclaiming, “Whoa!” simultaneously. I’m not sure if it was our height, skin color, or matching shirts that made them gasp but in true kid fashion they blurted out, “What are YOU doing here?” The preggos darted for the miniature toilets while I explained that we are kids too and it was totally normal for us to be there. Their logic was comical.
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girl: “You’re not a kid.”
me: “Am too.”
girl: “No you’re not. Look in the mirror.”
me: turn to face the mirror and see only my stomach. “Okay, you make a good point.”
girl: comes behind me and grabs both my wrists pretending to cuff them, “You’re under arrest. You’re coming with me.”
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All three girls proceeded to grab my wrists, yelling “you’re busted!” and pulling me towards the door. I was getting worried about the adults outside seeing me dragged out so I tried to divert their attention by tickling them. In hindsight, that would have looked pretty sketchy too. Luckily, at this moment Jenny emerged and dropped her bracelet which the girls found hilarious.
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Next scene: LAX. Jenny, Amy and I snuck up on unsuspecting Lesley at baggage claim. Lesley tells the story here. Scaring people is one of my favorite past times and scaring in public is only better. We got quite a few stares and got more a few moments later when we battled against the obnoxious LAX security. You’re not allowed to park when picking up people on the curb- even if they are your closest friends and you haven’t seen them in a long time. This little rule and this little man with a badge didn’t stop us from piling out of cars to hug our dear friends. He flashed his light at us and yelled but that only made me more irritated and more passive aggressive. I dragged my feet and slowly trudged to the car, took forever to put on my seat belt, eventually turned on my blinker and toyed with this poor man, pretending to leave and then driving so slowly he actually stopped traffic so I could change lanes and leave his sacred curb. Not my most Christ-like moment but geesh, can’t a girl hug her friends?
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Next scene: tiny, quiet Thai restaurant suddenly invaded by 7 tall, loud, hungry girls.

Next scene: on the tram climbing thousands of feet to the top of the mountain. It’s not called “360 degrees of WOW” for nothin. We laughed and squealed the whole way to the top.

Next scene: Tears of laughter and joy mingled as we scarfed down delicious Mexican food. Don’t believe we scarfed? When the waiter saw how quickly our chips were gone he said, “Aye yie yie” and quickly refilled our baskets.

Next scene: Chinese fire drill. Hadn’t done one of these in years but when Jenny suggested it, who could turn that down?
Last scene: goodbye hugs at LAX. Luckily we get to reconvene in the spring for Lori’s wedding where there inevitably will be lots more laughter and tears of joy. Can’t wait!

Awkward Hugging

My beautiful and strange friend Lesley recently had us all in tears as she told us possibly my favorite hugging story. She had just gotten her eyebrows waxed and the lady who did the waxing opened the door for her to exit but left her arms wide open. Never one to deny a hug, Lesley shrugged her shoulders and went in for the hug. Right as she made contact, she noticed the lady’s surprised expression and realized that the poor lady had simply been opening the door for her to go out. Lesley found a new waxing place.
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This had me rolling and thinking about how awkward hugs can be.
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10 Years From Now

At the Homecoming football game last Friday, I had a rude awakening. I learned what one former student remembers about me. She was thrilled to tell me this story of how I influenced her. I was a tiny bit appalled. Here was the conversation:
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student: “Hey Miss Hardeman! I was literally just talking about you in my English class today.”
me: flattered “Oh yeah? Why is that?”
student: “My professor returned our essays and said they were okay but we must learn how to spell “lose” and “loose.”
me: “Yeah, that bothers the heck out of me.”
student: “I know. And I remembered how you taught me the difference.”
my thought process: “Oh no. What did I say? I know what I am thinking but PLEASE tell me I didn’t tell that to my class.”
student: “I turned around and told all the kids around me how you taught me the difference.”
me: growing more frightful “Um….what did I teach you?”
student: “You know- how loose has two “O’s” because loose girls have two big boobs.
others in group: laughing incredulously.
me: red in the face “That’s what I was afraid of. I seriously told you that? That is so inappropriate. I am so sorry.”
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I left that conversation shaking my head at myself. “Really Katie? What were you thinking? That is how that poor girl remembers you.” And this got me thinking about what my kids will remember about me in ten years. My ten year reunion was this past summer and I realize now that I only have fuzzy memories of my high school teachers. Here’s what I remember:
* Mr. Roach was a grumpy old man who told cheesy jokes that I laughed at really loudly because I love cheesy jokes. I think it helped my grade. He also squirted people with a water gun when they slept in class.
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* Mrs. Gregenski was a cute young Chemistry teacher who had bangs and once said, “Here are your testes,” when she passed out our tests and then covered her mouth and was super embarrassed. I had to ask my friend what “testes” were.
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* My freshman English teacher– I don’t remember her name but I will never forget how she ended her sentences with “and, and, and.” It drove me bonkers. I kept a tally of how many times she did it every day.
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* Mrs. Burgard was my elderly Spanish teacher who terrified me and waddled like a penguin.
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* My Biology teacher wore a frog necklace, dissected a frog and rumor was that she didn’t wash her hands after dissections. I have an image of her eating a sandwich in class while I was aghast and gagging.
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* Mrs. Lewis was an English teacher who was brilliant and beautiful and funny. I wanted to be like her. She once bobbed her head like a chicken and I made a smart remark about it from the peanut gallery. However, she heard me making fun of her and called me out on it. I felt terrible.
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* Mrs. Chu was a math teacher with an awful red perm who played Abba’s “Dancing Queen” often when we came into class. I became a fan. Not of perms.
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* Mr. Saint Claire was the Econ teacher who girls swooned over. He once caught me ditching his class when I came back to school for practice. He asked where I had been and I lied and told him I had diarrhea. I saw him years later and almost confessed. The guilt has been eating at me.
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* Mr. Zoeweta was my Senior English teacher who I was pretty sure was a genius because he listened to jazz music and used really big words. He wore fedoras and spoke really slowly and once gave me a C on an essay and I never forgave him for it.
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These random snapshots are so clear but I saw these people on a daily basis for a year and don’t remember much else. This forces me to wonder how my own students will remember me. What snapshot will stick with them? Here are some snapshots I fear they will remember:
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* How I got irritated with them and threw whiteboard markers at them. I nailed one boy in the chest this week.
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* How I made silly faces and was friends with other silly teachers. The following two pictures are from Spirit week.


* How I wore tall wedges and often rolled my ankles in class. Or how my legs often fell asleep when I crossed my legs too long and would stumble trying to walk to the podium.
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* How I cried in class. Cried while I was reading aloud and just kept going. Or cried while watching The Crucible or Dead Poet’s Society.
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* How I had weird friends and awesome nephews who were the subjects of many of my stories. Much to Heidi’s chagrin. I recently told them this one about Vander: He was in the bathroom and let loose a fire of toots. Heidi commented to him that it sounded like a machine gun. As a weapons fanatic, this thrilled him and a huge grin spread across his face. “I’m fighting a battle with my butt!” This soon-to-be 4 year old is too clever for his own good. Heidi and Dan are trying to curb the bathroom humor but are fighting a losing battle when the boys have an aunt like me and uncles like Trent and Travis.
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* How I said “shit” in class. Just once. Okay twice. But the first time I was quoting a priest. A fellow bridesmaid and myself were talking with said priest before the ceremony. He had just signed the marriage certificate and was standing over a table with a candle. You know what’s coming next. He set the paper down next to the open flame and in the next moment, it caught fire. “Oh shit! G D it!” And then he madly attacked the blazing document and soon had quenched the flames but not before looking at us in shame and embarrassment. It is one of my all-time favorite wedding moments. I told this story to my class the next week because it was too classic not to share and totally applied to what we were talking about.
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That last part was a lie.
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But I owed them a good story since we were having a snooze-fest grammar lesson. The second time I said “sugar honey ice tea” was yesterday. I was having a terrible, horrible, very bad, no-good day and felt like screaming, crying, and strangling anyone in my path. At the pinnacle of this awful day, sweet little freshman Jerry snuck into my classroom. Buried in papers and stress and worries, I didn’t notice. I thought I was alone in my room and I realized yet another mistake I had made that day and out slipped shit. Three of them. Bam, bam, bam. Quietly but loud enough to reach innocent Jerry’s ears who had magically appeared by my side. When I looked up at him, his eyes were wider than …. I can’t think of an adequate simile so let’s just say that his eyes were very wide. I’m pretty sure that in 10 years, this is the memory Jerry is going to remember about me. Splendid.
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* How I was blonde and had many blonde moments. The topic of “shakes” was brought up in class the other day so I had to tell them about a recent mishap which I blamed on my hair. My friend’s husband told a story about how someone brought him an In-N-Out shake. Most might think, “Oh, like a chocolate or strawberry shake from In-N-Out. Those are delicious.” Not me. I cringed and said, “Nasty. He brought you a hamburger shake?” The look he gave me is one that I sadly, often receive. Utter disbelief and mild confusion. “Is she serious? Surely she is not.” I was.
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* How I let a boy keep a kitten in class. This happened today, the day after my terrible, horrible, very bad, no-good day. I felt awful that I had been so impatient with my classes so I was determined to do better. In my morning devotions of the terrible day, I had read 2nd Peter 1:3-4 which says: 3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Clearly, God knew I was going to face opposition and needed to be reminded that I had the power to overcome the irritations and stresses and still glorify Him that day. I failed. I re-read those verses today and realized what God had been trying to prepare me for. Sometimes I can be pretty dense. I have the power and ability to “participate in the divine nature” but I have to be a willing party. I have his “very great and precious promises” but I have to remember these and meditate on them when I just want to scream and when my small, molehill-sized problems seem like mountains.
That being said, I came to school today with a renewed sense of purpose, intent on being loving and gracious towards my students. So when a boy brought in a tiny meowing kitten and asked if I had a box he could put it in, I said sure. He had rescued the abandoned stray from behind a vending machine. I taught an entire poetry lesson with the background sounds of a surprisingly loud meowing kitten.
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In reflecting on these snapshots that students might remember, I am trying to make it a daily discipline to realize that I am in a position of influence. I have a unique opportunity every year to point 100 plus teenagers to Jesus. What a sweet job! Every day I must remember this; remember why I’m on earth and why I’m in room A1. So yeah, they’ll probably remember some random fact, some embarrassing moment, some inappropriate comment, some odd quirk about me. But I am making it a goal that they also will remember that I loved the LORD deeply and had an intimate relationship with Him that I couldn’t help but talk about. I want to model for them what it looks like to walk with Christ and live the abundant life. I cannot grow stagnant and complacent if, for no other reason, because I can’t let down my kids.
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I hope that my students remember that I loved them and cared about how they grew as students but more importantly, as followers of Christ. I hope they don’t just remember the days I was cranky; but rather, they are left with the impression that I was usually filled with His joy and peace and hope. I hope that they don’t just remember how I gave them a detention for copying homework but how I set high expectations for them and held them accountable- that I was strict but offered grace. I hope that they don’t just remember that I loved Africa and movies but also that I loved my God and my school and my job and them.
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Maybe they’ll remember all this. More likely they’ll remember when I dressed like this:

Life Lessons from a Marathon PART 3

* The final miles will always be brutal but kind of wonderful. Brutal because it was the hardest I have ever pushed my body and most fatigued I’ve ever felt. Brutal because the first 20 miles felt great when I trained but the last six turned out to be harder than I ever imagined. Brutal because my legs felt so weak and feet felt so heavy that I could barely lift them and thought I might collapse at any moment. (I think the fear of embarrassment kept me on my feet.) Brutal because my brain was screaming at my legs to stop and then my feet and butt joined in the cacophony of screams.

Life Lessons from a Marathon PART 2

* Running groups might look odd but they are effective. I never considered joining a group. I love my time alone and didn’t want to have to make small talk with strangers. During the race there were several stretches where it was just me, my I-pod, my thoughts and my Jesus. I prayed, I rapped aloud to Eminem, I pondered who it was that had pooed on the side of the road and I enjoyed my alone time.

Life Lessons from a Marathon PART 1

* Toilet seats are way too short. This week there were times I felt as if I was doing a trust fall to get all the way down to the seat. I never realized how low they are until I had to put both hands down on the seat and slowly lower myself. To get up, I had to put both hands on the floor and push myself up like a gorilla…. if gorillas used toilets. This went on for the two days after the race. Two of the longest days of my life. Continue reading

Our Time

Tomorrow I will run my first marathon. I hesitate to write about it.

I hesitate for the same reason I hesitate telling about the funniest fight I’ve ever been in. It took place while hiking in the Swiss Alps with my brother. But I figure that anyone who starts their stories with, “while I was hiking in the Swiss Alps…” is most likely a total tool and a major “me monster” in need of a hard slap on the calf. (Try it; it kills. And watch the Brian Regan clip of the me monster. Hilarious.)

I hesitate because I suppose I should be getting “mentally prepared” and ready for bed rather than eating a churro and updating my blog.