Katie Geib!

One of my earliest memories is of my younger sister Katie being born in early 1971 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I remember suffering a baby-sitter for a couple Katie naked! of days and then being dressed formally as my father informed me and my brother Tom that my baby sister was coming home from the hospital and that it was an important day. Even though I was only four years old, I recall waiting forever on the curb outside our house in anxious anticipation for my mom and sister to drive up. After they finally arrived I remember holding Katie for a few moments and then losing total interest not long afterwards. Tom and I both seemed to say to ourselves, "That's nice, this is my sister - can we go out and play now?" But seriously, almost three decades later I am very glad to have a little sister.

Being the baby of the family as well as a girl with two big brothers put Katie in a unique position. As she poignantly stated in her Stanford University application: "Having two older brothers you could probably burp the alphabet and I would not be at all offended!" Katie had things a lot easier than me in some ways and much harder in others. I was the first-born of the family and my parents were just learning with me. Every misstep attracted attention and in comparison with my sister my parents micromanged my childhood. Every time I hit a milestone in my childhood (ex. the first day of kindergarten, driver's license test or high school graduation) it was a major event and a first in the family. However, by the time my sister arrived at these stages of her life we had all been there and done that; the thing lacked drama or excitement. With their last child my mom and dad were much more relaxed in their parenting style. It seems as if they said to themselves, "We're only going to really sweat the big stuff with her!" For example, my parents were adamant that I not have my own car while I was in high school so that I would not become spoiled - even as we had a third car remained parked in front of our house all day long. Even at the end of my senior year I was riding my bicycle to school. Yet my sister was able to drive to school her last two years in high school and it was hardly an issue for her. On the other hand, as a teenage girl my father held her to much different standards with reference to parties, curfews, and dating. For example, my parents explicitly forbade her to go to any party in which alcohol was served - essentially forbidding her from going to any parties at all. She had strict curfews and fought a long and ultimately successful battle with my father for the right to get her ears pierced.

Yet Katie was in no way a rebellious child. I remember Katie unceremoniously going about her business always doing the "right" thing. She was ever a conscientious student with excellent grades and similarly excelled in athletics (a "tomboy"). I remember her playing soccer as a seven-year old and pushing all the little boys around to the protests of their parents. I remember the shoe boxes full of ribbons she won at swim meets. Our family was a paragon of the California dream in terms of sports and the athletic lifestyle. For example, we used to go to church all wearing our sweat suits after which we went directly to the Newport Beach Tennis Club for family doubles. With aggressive older brothers Katie sometimes had trouble getting her two cents in at the dinner table. Consequently, she developed a certain resilience in playing rough with the boys; Katie was not easily intimidated and knew how to stand-up for herself. With older brothers Katie was always the underdog, something she feels made her "tougher." If it was not always easy, Katie navigated her way through the world without major difficulties. I remember Katie always with her coterie of girlfriends and a jam-packed schedule - graciously making success look effortless. And so Katie quietly grew up athletic and studious in the benign neglect of the last child.

High school was a mixed bag for her. In most ways her stay at Corona del Mar High School was an outstandingly successful one. Katie managed to earn varsity letters her freshman year and was a CIF soccer player her senior year. In the end she graduated with eight varsity letters and played for the girls' California All-State Soccer Team. Katie graduated having taken many AP classes and entered the university technically almost a sophomore. She graduated with a 4.09 grade point average and was accepted to prestigious Stanford University. "That was perhaps the happiest moment of my life," Katie recalls of when she received her Stanford acceptance letter in the mail. In many ways, high school followed the same grueling ritual for Katie as it had for me: morning workout followed by class all day long, workouts after school and then studying late into the night. And like me, she was often so exhausted that at times she fought to stay awake during her classes. Katie herself says, "I stressed big-time in high school!" Yet she got an excellent foundation for her education and acquired valuable traits such as discipline and dedication that have served her well ever since.

However, she was more than ready for a change after graduating from high school. Newport Beach might be a good place to grow up, but it has a negative side in terms of extreme competitiveness and social conformity. Katie was eager to start a new stage of her life by the time she graduated. And so she arrived in Palo Alto in the fall of 1991 as a member of the freshman class at Leland Stanford University and in moving into the Twain dormitory there embarked upon a special time in her life. Katie can speak of her five years at Stanford with nothing but enthusiasm and nostalgia. To this day Katie still is enamored of both "the Farm" and the surrounding community of Palo Alto and the California Bay Area in general. Katie enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the Bay Area and really came into her own as a young women. She played on the varsity soccer team at Stanford for two years and made friends there with women whom still count among her very closest friends. She was very active in Stanford life and eventually even spent one year working as a Resident Assistant in an undergraduate dorm. Katie was also inculcated to a certain degree in the "progressive" political philosophy for which Stanford and the Bay Area are so famous (a trend my father and I abhored). In the spring of 1993 Katie graduated with a BA in English and then earned a MA in Organizational Studies in 1994.

Katie has always been big on traveling, and I think this might be something that stays with her over the years. She spent her junior year as an exchange student at the Sorbonne University in Paris. "That was the best decision I ever made!" she recalls now, and it is easy to see why. She had her own apartment in the Latin quarter of Paris with one of her best friends from Stanford, played on a local French soccer team and traveled around Europe with them, celebrated her 21st birthday and experienced the famed Parisian spring. By then Katie had already traveled extensively: her first major international trip with her soccer team to Europe happened her freshman year in high school, she spent a whole summer in Pietarsaari, Finland after her junior year, another 9-10 weeks in Prague, Czech Republic teaching ESL immediately after college, a couple of months as a volunteer in Indonesia, trips to South and Central America. Like my mother, Katie has travel in her blood. It would not surprise me at all if Katie travels internationally throughout the rest of her life.

Katie stayed close to Stanford after graduation living with some girlfriends in a rented house in Palo Alto. Friends and community have always been of vital importance to Katie and Stanford continued to offer what she needed even after her studies had finished. She first took a human resources job with a small start-up company that was badly managed and spent a couple of highly uncomfortable months there. The level of stress and the workload were huge for Katie and she was miserable; I think Katie would have preferred to swallow her own teeth rather than work there for long. Next, Katie came to one of those watershed points of her life where she had to ask herself, "What now?" It came down to a choice between two very different paths: a "respectable" job with a good prospects with the Walt Disney Co. in Burbank, California or a volunteer stint as an English professor in the jungles of Indonesia. She consulted with both her parents and her oldest brother (me) and gave much thought as to what she should do. My father strongly advised her to take the job in Burbank with Disney, and I concurred with my father though less strongly. Katie decided to go to Indonesia. In what I thought showed a lot of maturity and resolve on her part, she wrote a very adult letter to her parents explaining her decision and giving her reasons. Katie refers to this letter as the "bomb" she dropped on mom and dad. And while they were not thrilled with her decision, they respected her choice as a young adult and the courage required to make it.

Consequently, a couple of months later she was in Japan receiving her orientation and then next found herself in the Indonesian jungle washing her own clothes on a rock and living with a native family. She had planned to spend two years teaching English literature on in the town of Pekanbaru on the island of Sumatera in Indonesia. However, after only a short few months at her post our mother became seriously ill and she was back in Newport Beach at square one. During this time Katie lived at home and was a big help to the family in terms of helping out around the house, grocery shopping, etc. when mom was sick. Although her plans of living overseas had come to nothing due to the vagaries of fate, Katie rebounded as usual and worked for a spell in a local bookstore and organized local poetry readings for the community. It was a job to make ends meet, making slave wages got old fast and she was very soon ready for something more appropriate to her educational level. Soon Katie accepted a job offer from the Fluor Daniel Corporation in Irvnie doing international relocation for employees about to move overseas. Fluor is a large multinational engineering company and Katie helps with the considerable needs of the people who were to travel outside the United States on company projects. Katie tired of the ultra-formal button down atmospheres of engineers and MBA's at Fluor, and eventuall she moved on to a major software development company in Santa Ana where she works as a projects trainer. The fit is a better one.

But work took a back seat for the moment to more pressing personal needs. Our mother finally succombed after a long battle with lung cancer, and her dying and death was nothing less than a transformative experience for Katie. They say a girl does not truly become a woman until her mother dies, and Katie emerged from the crucible of her mother's demise a different person, in my summation. She stepped up to assume a bit of a leadership role in terms of family gatherings; God knows with only three other men and Katie, the family needed her woman's touch! Perhaps most importantly of all, she met and began to date her future husband Steve McEwen at a Stanford Alumni miniature golf function. Before long they were a serious couple, sharing passions for athletics, the ocean, and formative college years in Palo Alto. Steve and Katie trained and competed in triathalons together and stood by and supported one another as life taught them some hard life lessons -- they seemed a team even before marriage! And then one fine summer evening in 1998 on the sand of the Balboa Peninsula, Steve finally proposed to Katie and she made the reply she had been practicing for some time: "Yes!" Ecstatic with the good news, she excitedly called her father long-distance at his hotel room in Turkey in the middle of the night. It was the best news he had heard in many months, and he more than forgave Katie for disturbing his sleep. Katie and Steve meticulously planned their marriage with over 300 invited guests and it went off without a hitch in August of 1999. It was the sort of beautiful white wedding all little girls dream of having one day, proving definitively that it is much happier to gain family through matrimony than to lose them from disease. Katie and Steve honeymooned in Hawaii and then returned to California and the life they would build together as man and wife.

The wheel of life turns and turns with the ebb and flow of generations as parents beget children who then become adults in the fullness of time and then have children of their own. An acute reader will not fail to notice how Katie has grown to be much like her mother in her passion for life and hearty embrace of it; and my little sister's potential for growth, happiness, and fulfillment as a wife, mother, and human being is seemingly endless. At the beginning of this essay I mentioned how at four years my junior I tended to pay only partial attention to Katie in childhood as she passed through stages of life I had long since left behind me. Now she travels territory unknown to me and I am a bit in awe of her. A woman in the full bloom of life, it will be exciting to watch how Katie continues to blossom in the future.

Katie has decided to become, like her oldest brother, a teacher of literature. She has taught at various private and public high schools.

Check out Katie's triathalon story!

You can contact Katie at:
katie_mcewen@stanfordalumni.org

Other Katie Mcewn Photos...

Katie as a timid little girl at one of my football games around 1978. (22.1kb)

Katie smiling for the camera in high school in 1986. (10.5)

Katie, her big brother, and friends all party it up at formal in San Francisco circa 1991. (27.6kb)

Katie as a senior in college loving life and pondering the future. (10.5kb)

Katie and my parents at her undergraduate culmination posing near the Stanford quad in 1993. (19.7kb)

Katie and my mother at her Masters' graduation at Stanford in 1994. (19.1kb)

Katie and my father at the rim of the Grand Canyon in 1995.(18.1kb)

Katie shares a special moment with her mother shortly before her mother died of lung cancer in 1996.(18.1kb)

"Here comes the bride!"  Katie poses for the traditional wedding photo in August of 1999.  (46.4kb)

With new husband Steve, Katie smiles for the camera at her wedding reception.(22.3kb)

Katie with the proud father of the bride before the wedding. (47.4kb)

More wedding photos, for posterity, on a very special day. (79.0kb) (71.2kb)