Today, one of the most quietly amazing women I’ve ever met turns a year older. Here’s why you should care: in the course of this post, she will restore your faith that people can be unbearably beautiful, scary smart, wicked funny, and still remain completely down-to-earth. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KATE!
This is a person so frequently described as “baller” that I’m amazed she doesn’t have a pair of Hitch Nuggets hanging from her car.
She’s a woman – special emphasis required. She knows how to style hair and apply makeup like a pro, and she paint designs on her nails that are tiny works of art. I should also mention her Halloween / Día de Muertos ensembles…
She was once invited to shoot a cooking video, and made the jokers from the Food Network look like amateurs. If you’re lucky enough to get a dinner invite from Kate, you might be in for Mexican, Ukrainian, Indian, or down home comfort food. She’s traveled to more countries than I can name across Western and Eastern Europe, North America, and Africa. Did I mention she’s fluent in three languages? She’s been known to use her Ukrainian to charm ticket window cats.
When she taught English for the Peace Corps, she went above and beyond her job description to start a community action summer camp for teens. In her spare time, she perfected the time-honored art of “fotosesiya,” an Eastern European obsession with looking as sexy as possible in photos (with zero inhibition about cheesiness).
Kate’s also an artist. She paints portraits and landscapes that embody all the colors of her imagination, the colors other people are too shy to use. She also embroiders works of art that have taken, in some cases, years to finish. This is part of Kate’s splendid ability to entertain herself wherever she is in the world: she reads, she climbs volcanoes, she finds insanely obscure YouTube videos… but she never wastes time being bored.
And she’s smart, so smart. Kate collects facts in her head like a squirrel hordes nuts for the winter. She could win any trivia game on her knowledge of geography alone, and she’s been sought out by news channels for her take on international incidents. In fact, Kate knew she was gonna grow up brilliant, so she started working on her subtly judgmental face at the age of seven:
And yet, she rarely judges anyone who doesn’t blatantly deserve it. The way Kate lives always reminds me how far compassion and understanding can go. She talks about “human potential,” and takes real steps to create a world where more people can realize theirs.
We’ve been friends since the early years of college, when Kate moved in with Jess and I was lucky enough to meet her. Since then, she’s toured me through other countries, we’ve shared a house that was full of bad puns and good music, and we’ve even survived a soccer riot together. She’s shown me how to talk to anyone from any background, and she was there to paint my nails glittery gold and then hug me on my wedding day.
Even though we don’t talk as often as we should – I have no excuse, but she’s in grad school now, learning how to literally make the world a better place by improving border relations – Kate is a sister to me, and always will be.
We do hugs. We do smiles. We do relax. We do love. We are family. This is Kate. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!