I'm living in Kusatsu-shi, Shiga-ken for an undetermined amount of time and teaching English as a second language at a local high school. This journal is to document my experiences, thoughts, and to stay connected with others at home and abroad.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meet Katharine Gabriel Middendorf

Hi there
Sorry for all of you who may feel nauseated at my fawning over this heavenly creature, but dues must be paid and I need to express the gratitude I have for a special woman in my life. Many people will probably find the answer to many gaps in previous stories and life choices after hearing about the person who has inspired me so.

In case you can't tell, she's pretty adorable

Most people have not heard much about or even seen Katie with your eyes. For those wondering, yes she is a "real girl." She is not an elusive mystery or a phone sex hotline personality. She does not appear often in the photos I include because she's using her artistic hand behind the camera. (Actually she's had me locked up in the closet on a strict diet of wasabi and daikon (giant raddish) and I have finally escaped in order to find help. Everything on this blog has been crafted and edited by her. DO NOT TRUST A WORD SHE'S SAID––I'M STARVING AND MISERABLE!!! Dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot! Wait this is a computer-age and that means everything more than five years old is obsolete: HELP!!!)

This is the face I imagine her making right now while reading this blog for the first time

Probably the best thing about her is that I am just as much of a mystery to her as she is to me and everyone else. My digressions confuse her. She smiles and tries to laugh, but quite honestly it sometimes sounds like gibberish to her. So Katie can probably empathize well with any loyal readers of my story thus far. Imagine, she hears and juggles all of the nonsense I spurt out like a spiteful Tourettes patient and still supports me on a daily basis. I find that pretty merit-badge worthy. I love her genuine desire to learn about and understand me.

This is by one of Katie's favorite artists: Flowers by Odilon Redon

On paper Katie was born on February 7th, 1980 and grew up in Athens, GA on Jefferson River Road. She attended Davidson College in North Carolina for two years and played volleyball there. On a roundabout path she ended back up in Athens where she graduated in the fall of 2004 with three degrees: one in painting, one in studio arts, and a third in psychology. Despite the fact that we simultaneously attended UGA for two and-a-half years, I did not meet Katie until almost a year ago last month (June 27th was our best guess at a one-year anniversary). To my shock Katie was planning on leaving in less than two months from that day to move to Japan and teach English in the JET Program (an idea I also considered in previous years). We knew each other for a short time, but I quickly became enamoured with her free, aggressive spirit and honest personality, and when Katie left at the end of July I was not sure if I would ever see her again. I felt pretty sad, but lucky to have met such a meaningful person. I felt much inspiration through her example to blaze my own trail and follow it unquestioningly.

Here is another: The Implorer by Camille Claudel

About a week and an email or two later, I received a call from Katie on my cell phone while driving from Atlanta to Athens. SHE LOVES ME!! She wanted me to know that although we were so far away, she loved and missed me dearly. I couldn't drive straight so I had to pull off into a gas station parking lot. So love prevailed, but with fatal timing––she was now living around 8,000 miles and twelve time zones (depending on daylight savings). That's an entire day and ocean separating us. Shakespeare's lovers don't know the meaning of distraught.

Heart of Voh, New Caledonia (Island in Pacific Ocean). This is a completely natural occurrence, by chance, where the high salinity in this mangrove forest has cordoned off the cordate-shape miracle in the center.

So after a few trips, one in December, one in March, and a few million unclaimed frequent flyer miles later (I am really stupid, I have no excuse), I am now living here with Katie one year later. I don't really know how to explain how or why. Something just felt right, and it appeared as if a perfect bridge had been laid across the Pacific to bring us together. I only trusted and followed it. I also received a job offer from the JET Program, and now I am living in Kusatsu-shi, writing about the woman who brought me here (she’s in the other room painting right now). She didn't mean to do it either, that's the scary part. It all just seemed right, felt right, and I never doubted it for a minute.

Well, things aren't always that easy. I know this is a bit offensive in the middle of a love story, but it is one of Katie’s favorite paintings: Saturn by Francisco de Goya.

Ok, well, sometimes are difficult. Summer here is enough to incite riots––sometimes it does. But Katie's impression has been one I want to constantly revow and cherish. If I am lucky, some days I can watch her while painting for a few minutes before she shoos me out of the room. She blushes easily and I'll bet she has two red crescents blooming on her cheeks right now. She doesn't mind it when I pick my nose in front of her. She likes my drawings and doggerel. We go on insane bicycling and hiking trips that leave us too tired to hug as we fall asleep. When we saw the small monks' homes near the Kuuchitaki waterfalls, we both looked at each other and said it was the place we wanted to live. I love to effleurage and trace circles over he back when she returns stressed from a day at work. She squeals when I surprise her or when we are chasing each other on the playground. She wants me to teach her guitar (as if I know how), and we practice studying and speaking Japanese together. We watch old South Park episodes and have a few potted plants and herbs we call a garden on the balcony. She eats a salad almost every day with dinner and once a week (at least) we go for sushi (how can we not?––this is Japan). Sometimes she has trouble paying attention and I bore her with hyper-detailed stories. She misplaces her keys an average of five times a weeks, and when this happens I sometimes find it for her and we giggle.
She loves and supports me and gives me everything she can and tries to give some things she doesn't even have. She has pretty hair.

She really does have pretty hair. I often wish it were edible.


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