Welcome to My Apartment: Happy 20th Birthday Katherine!

So, as you can probably tell from the subject heading of this post, today is in fact my sister Katherine’s 20th birthday. I will not dwell on how old that makes me feel. Katherine has, on several occasions, given her drawings to the family as birthday/X-mas presents. And while the visual is her trade the verbal is mine. Katherine, this post is (one of) my present(s) to you.


Katherine drew me this Yoshi for my birthday either last year or the year before. I can’t remember because, like a true Hoppe, I didn’t get the present right away. Also, the drawing really served two purposes. Besides being a gift, it was also a school project. Funny, so is this post. Forgetful and procrastinatey as we are, at least the Hoppes are pragmatic.

Yoshi greets me every morning when I am getting dressed. As a result, he (she? What gender is Yoshi?) reminds me every morning that I still haven’t gotten a frame for the picture. There’s that procrastinatey gene again. Somewhere among all the t-shirts hanging in my closet is this shirt that she (my sister, not Yoshi) gave me for Christmas.

Clearly she gets me. And this is not to say that the rest of my family doesn’t–we’re all pretty much variations on the same chord progression–but with Katherine I see the echoes of my formative years.

In junior high my mom owned a gift shop and my dad worked at the Woodinville Weekly, so no one was home in the afternoons. As a result, I became default babysitter for Katherine. It was actually a pretty sweet deal. I’d get off the bus, walk over to her elementary school and pick her up, and then we’d spend the rest of the afternoon watching movies.

Movies of my choosing, that is. Being in the 12-14 age range, I had the conviction and zeal to go with it that my opinions and tastes were damn near unimpeachable. It was my solemn duty to make sure she was inculcated in pop cinema properly, and I relished the opportunity. Sure, as she got older our tastes split along the lines of Pokemon (I was just too old for that trend), but I can still see the impression that those years had, and I still buy her a ton of movies on holidays.

My favorite memory of these times, though, is how she would let herself in my room while I was practicing guitar and fall asleep on my bottom bunk. I had only been playing guitar for a year or so at that point, and was just starting to understand how songs work. One of the first songs I ever learned how to play, besides “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Smoke on the Water” (thanks, Dad!), was Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So”.

This was Katherine’s favorite song to hear me play, and it was usually the first thing she would demand upon entering my room. “Play ‘Stepfather!” she would say (the song’s lyrics say “like father, stepfather…” during the song’s emotional climax), and I would be happy to oblige.

In honor of this memory, I sat down yesterday to record myself playing “Say it Ain’t So” on guitar. But you know what? Katherine’s heard me do that before. So, riffing on the video game-themed nature of her Yoshi drawing, I decided to reciprocate by playing this Weezer classic on Rock Band instead.

The twist? I went for vocals and drums at the same time, both on hard. I got five stars. Yes, this is an incredibly dorky thing to do, but if you’re from my family it makes sense. Happy Birthday, Katherine. I love you with all my heart, and I can’t wait to see how you get me back for this!

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