All posts by Kathy Petras

Student Affairs dork. Assistant Director of Student Life & Involvement at Baldwin-Wallace College. Mentor. Star Wars Lover. Coffee drinker. Overall Nerd.

Wheat Noodles & Bonus Fries

Yesterday at dinner, I decided on the “make-your-own pasta” option in the dining hall.  The student staffing the pasta station that night really knows what she’s doing. I’m a regular customer when she’s working.  Noodles, chicken, Alfredo sauce, and a spoonful of roasted red pepper pesto.  She remembers every time which impressed the other student I was standing in line with that evening.  I chose the white noodles as they were fancy noodles that night.  How fancy were they? Fancy enough for a noodle but not enough to make me look up the exact type.

Ok, I looked it up.  They are called Fusilli Lisci.

I sat with a few of my students for dinner that night, thoroughly enjoying my bowl of yum, when lo and behold there it was: a wheat noodle.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got nothing against the wheat noodles.  During orientation season when we have the pasta bar I’m always mixing it up with my noodle selections.  But in that moment it became clear that this wheat noodle was like a bonus fry.

You know, the bonus fry that generally happens if you go to Burger King, order the onion rings (don’t act like you’re better than me now that you know I like BK onion rings).  But you go and order the onion rings and then BAM. Bonus fry.  Maybe  your bonus fry is at the bottom of your McDonald’s bag.   Although let’s be honest you have to search the bag for those right away.  McDonald’s fries only have limited quality assurance time.  No time to find one of those after you’ve already eaten the other fries and your 10-piece chicken nuggets.

[side note: if you have time, PLEASE watch Jim Gaffigan’s stand up about McDonald’s. HILARIOUS.]

The point is, these are exciting things in unexpected moments.  Serendipitous incidents in which things just seem all right in the universe.  When you find a quarter on the ground.  When the scoop of ice cream is a little more than usual.  When you walk away from moments having gained more than you ever really imagined was possible, because you were not expecting it to happen.

It’s been on my mind the last few days after I facilitated at the Delta Sigma Phi Presidents’ Academy this past weekend.  And it was true after I facilitated the Undergraduate InterFraternity Institute (UIFI).  I went into these situations with certain expectations.  I was going to work with college-aged students and talk about leadership, values, strengths, etc. and I was hopefully going to make an impact in some way.  And that totally happened in several situations.  I connected with those students and we had laughs and good conversations and even challenging moments.  I went in ordering onion rings and I got a whole bunch of onion rings.  With zesty sauce.

But then, there it was.
Bonus fry.
Wheat noodle.
Or whatever your preferred food analogy might be.

I met some of the coolest grown ups in the world. They are the shit. No joke.  My bonus fry is that person who people assume you’ve known for years when you only met them an hour ago.  Or the person you find yourself in a battle of snark with a day after meeting.  Or the one that sits with you for hours talking about your families.  The people you laugh until you cry with during the late night, slap-happy hours.  You share secrets and fears.  You spontaneously buy plane tickets when they ask you to visit (when you’ve never been that spontaneous in your life). These people. My people.  My wheat noodles in a world of fancy-ass Fusilli Lisci and Farfalle, or even Pappardelle.

Someone asked me today how I was doing.  My lazy response is busy and I hate that.  But today I paused.  How am I?

I’m exhausted.
I’m swamped with work.
I’m trying to move to a new place.
I don’t get normal amounts of sleep ever.
I have a great family.
I drank beer and listened to authors read their work last night.
I spent the weekend laughing endlessly.
I’m achieving great things in my job.
My friends are incredible.

So I responded, in a way like you’ve just consumed a whole plate of pasta:

I’m full.

Hope you find the things that fill you as well.
Until next time. Eat up friends.


Over the weekend I started listening to the “Dear Sugar” podcast and it slowly started changing my life a little.  The stories and the vulnerability shared within not only the letters but within the conversations between Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond (the Original Sugars), and then whichever person they called on the show.  Listening to the heartbreaking letters they received from people struggling with self-worth, relationship doubts, critics, etc., I couldn’t help but relate to so many of the questions asked, the worries shared, the doubts lingering in their minds…all of it.  And while the thoughts of my own fears and doubts and many other things (that so often left me in a ball of stress and sadness) came to mind, I felt a sense of calm, almost a camaraderie, with everyone involved.  I wasn’t alone.

But I don’t want this post to be all about the realizations and acceptance of myself post-podcast in some sort of unrealistic rom-com breakthrough in which everything falls into place and I end up with a new sense of self and a really good looking guy at the end of it all.  While nice, it’s not the end-all-be-all of my existence by any means.  It’s not how I define myself.  It’s not the thing I cling to most in the world (despite what my 20-something self might have thought).  Rather, I wanted to reflect on the things that end up defining me in all of my weirdness.

So I give you, my confessions:

  • I’m slightly lactose intolerant but I would rather drink that whole large milkshake and suffer the consequences in the bathroom later, than to deny myself that joyous beverage.  Speaking of, it’s almost Shamrock Shake season…
  • I love Nickelback’s song “How You Remind Me.”  Any time it’s on the radio, I turn it up.  I despise everything else about Nickelback, except this song.  This song is gold.
  • I recently binge-watched the first 2 seasons of Baywatch.  I loved that show for the first 2 seasons. Still do.  It used to actually have good story lines…
  • I buy books that I end up never reading. I just like to buy books. Goal this year is to read those books. Seriously. I tweeted about it.
  • I get secretly envious of people that come up with parody Twitter accounts (ie. Emo Kyle Ren) or people that Live Tweet famous films they are seeing for the first time (ie. This lady & Star Wars).  But then I remember, “Kathy, you don’t have time for that.” Yeah? Well I’m still jealous.  #SpaceVoldemort4Lyfe
  • I put egg noodles in my tomato soup.
  • I consider myself a movie fan, yet I have never seen any of the The Godfather films.  #LeaveTheGunTakeTheCannoli
  • I cried watching an episode of The Simpsons. Like legit, sobbed.
  • I know every word, musical note, crowd cheer from the song “Tonight” by New Kids On The Block.

Until next time…

Purple Rain is for the Ladies

When I was at ACPA Baltimore, I found myself at a bar with some pretty amazeballs people, having a few beers and a plethora of laughs.  The house band began to play. Loudly. Soon our Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 6.49.23 PMwe were shouting. And while it provides a hilarious reference to one of my favorite films, it doesn’t help when you’re just trying to chat it up with friends in a bar.  We attempted this feat until we decided it was ridiculous and needed to find somewhere else to socialize. As we walked by the band on our way to the door, the lead singer motioned to us and said,

“Hey! This one is for the ladies!”

Cue, Prince’s “Purple Rain”…

Whether or not Prince would have said that exact same thing if he were in that downtown Baltimore bar is neither here nor there. (Although we can all be honest that if Prince were there, we would have not left the bar. ) But that moment is permanent in my brain and triggered anytime I hear the song.  But let me digress for a minute or two..

On the second page of Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?, she says the following:

“The result of my not caring so much about what I say 
allows me to care more about how I say it.”

 That resonated with me in such a way that I immediately grabbed my stack of post-it notes that I leave on the little table next to my bed (for night time epiphanies) and wrote that down. Then I just let it soak in my brain for a few days.

The end result was revitalizing and reinventing my blog. My goal is to make it a collection of stories about my life.  Maybe in the same vein of my writer sheros Tina, Amy, & Mindy.  But they will be my stories.  As Anne Shirley eventually realized, she needed to write about what she knew and then she got that damn book published. So perhaps these blog posts will be stories of my own Avonlea.  Or perhaps they will be my advice on styling wigs.  Or maybe it will be stories about how my grandma’s criteria for my potential future mates started and ended with whether or not they had nice teeth.  Ok, let’s be honest.  A post will definitely be about that. Regardless, I’m going to take Mindy’s advice and get over the hump about worrying about what I say.  It will be much easier that her advice on trying to befriend a cinematographer to light me wherever I go.

So thanks for reading so far.  Stay tuned.