“And Meanwhile Time Goes About Its Immemorial Work of Making Everyone Look and Feel Like Shit.”*

Graffiti in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I had another blog before I had this one, and when I think about its personality, I decide it had split-personality disorder: young, inexperienced, I-want-to-be-a-published-author-but-my-life-is-too-boring Kaitlin—and angry, heart-breaking, lunatic, drunk, running-at-five-a.m. Kaitlin. Both, scary enough, make up Kaitlin.

Tonight I read a bunch of old posts, because sometimes for me to wrap my ahead around me now, I have to look at me way back when.

The first me (2009–2011) wanted to quit her job and become a “Starbucks person” (is that what I am now? What the fuck?) and go live in California (Nevada’ll do). She of June 2011 wanted to get another tattoo (check), pierce her nose (check), dye her hair darker (check), and still party until three a.m. (check—or five a.m., as is the case nowadays). I’d mixed skydiving, traveling alone in a foreign country, and visiting San Diego in there, and with an impending move of a friend to SD in August, I’m sure I’ll knock out that third one by the fall.

These items seemed faraway, mere coins tossed into a fountain. I hoped to check them off, but maybe (probably) I thought I never would. Twenty-eight was so old to start, I thought, and now, at almost thirty-two, I’m worried I’m too old to embark on various other ventures I have in mind.

They are, of course, a lot more ambitious and difficult than getting my fucking nose pierced. Kaitlin of 2011 was such a little bitch.

The sun rises over Vegas yet again.

For the past five days I’ve felt a bit out of sorts. People usually follow this phrase with “And I’m not sure why,” but oh, I know why. And I think anyone who says, “And I’m not sure why” sure as hell knows too. You don’t get out of sorts by crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s with hearts.

This past weekend at a Wet Republic pool party I blacked out from drinking for the first time since lunatic drunk Kaitlin was making the rounds circa 2012, and I hurt (and have seemingly alienated) a friend who I haven’t spoken to since Monday. These two events, you might imagine, coincided. I desperately want to text this person a million I’m sorry messages, and the idea has even occurred to me to go over to his apartment and give him a hug and not let go until he forgives me. Kaitlin of 2012, without a doubt, would have done both.

She was crazy. And terribly impatient.

I finished copyediting a children’s book a few days ago, one in which the main character travels back to Ancient Egypt. While there, he must solve a riddle (his life depends on it): “What makes you sad when you’re happy and happy when you’re sad?” He’s a clever kid, and he figures out the answer is: time.

One day back in the summer of 2012, after several months of awesome decisions on my end, a friend called me at work and essentially told me to get my act together. I was being a shitty friend, and I was selfish and rude and irresponsible. I cried in my office, and I remember thinking I didn’t know how I’d redeem myself. I tried to keep her on the phone. If she hung up, I wondered, would she ever speak to me again? I think I might have even considered calling her back once we’d hung up, but I thought better of it.

I sent this text message to someone a few weeks ago. Time clearly hasn’t taught me to stop acting like a twelve-year-old boy.

My feeling isn’t so much that time heals, as the saying loosely goes, but it does alter and it does teach. I’m still very much friends with the girl who torched my ego on the phone back in 2012, but I’m pretty sure that even though she doesn’t think I’m rude or irresponsible anymore, she does think I’m selfish. And that’s fine. Because in the meantime, in addition to helping to mend our friendship, I also accomplished heaps of other things on a bucket list that, until today, I’d forgotten I’d even made.

I feel less out of sorts now than I did on Monday. I hope soon I’ll feel . . . more in sorts—and have my friend back. But, at some point, inevitably, I’m sure I’ll feel whacked out of balance again, and write a post about how 2015 Kaitlin was pedantic and annoying and didn’t write enough in her blog but also grossly, grossly underestimated what ventures—even those both ambitious and difficult—she could take on.

*Martin Amis

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why making friends as an adult is totes difficult

i wrote this post in the early morning of january 9.

i have to preface this post by saying that i didn’t allow myself to sit down and start properly writing it (properly, because i’d taken notes on my phone already) until i’d cleaned my room. my bed contained

  • clothes
  • books
  • a manuscript
  • my computer
  • vitamins
  • jewelry
  • a power cord
  • mail
  • and a few red pencils

and my floor was more of the same. i couldn’t sleep—i wonder why—and it was as if all that shit were cluttering both my room and my brain. i feel better now, but my bed has also become habitable, so i’m torn between writing and sleeping.

writing is winning, luckily.

my first reaction when i’m upset about something is to run away. i used to be a let’s-talk-this-shit-out, confrontational type, but now that i’m less volatile and more “zen” (in quotes because i actually kind of hate when people describe themselves as such), i retreat. or, at least, i fantasize about it and just delete my facebook account instead. i always come back, though, mainly because without the link to facebook, i can’t continue to cultivate my tinder habit. but anyway, budget, time, and an overall sense of rationality usually cull my urge to book a flight to ecuador.

i_love_you_man_l

from the movie “i love you, man”

yesterday, after having spent five days in a row at my boyfriend’s apartment, it was time for me to return to the place i actually live, a place where in the fridge i had only feta cheese and almond milk and, at that time, my worldly possessions had erupted all over my room. my boyfriend is traveling for work this weekend, leaving me to my own devices for the next four and a half days. while seven days ago i thought of this weekend as a time to catch up on writing, be social, and be productive, yesterday afternoon i had a slight panic attack that aside from a few loose plans, i didn’t have much to do this weekend in terms of actually interacting with other people. though it was more than that; because what i was truly upset about was the fact that other than my boyfriend, there was no one within a thirty-mile radius who i could call and talk to about the fact that in the three months i’ve lived here, i haven’t really made any friends.

okay, so i have, like, two who are my homegrown friends and not friends of my boyfriend. and i did call him, and it didn’t really go well. which is what usually happens when you expect someone else, especially your boyfriend, to put a bandage on your problems for you.

so i considered driving to orange county to see my best friend. i looked at flights to places in the west (la, san diego, denver, santa fe, seattle, san francisco, and reno) and checked out driving distances and times and hostels for places like the grand canyon, phoenix, and flagstaff. i googled “good weekend trips from las vegas” and “good places for writers in the southwest” (i was really stretching with that one), and i even looked into going to mount charleston in nevada, which is only thirty miles away. anywhere, really, seemed better than here.

i ended up making no decisions and trying to go to bed five hours before i normally do, which resulted in my waking up at my normal go-to-sleep time, maniacally cleaning my room, and writing this post.

the last thing i ever want to identify myself as one of these awful things, but at four a.m. i googled “how to make friends as an adult.” because i was thinking maybe this isn’t a problem only i am having. when i saw that writers at publications from buzzfeed to the new york times had addressed the subject, a small part of me wanted to kick and scream and say, see! it’s not just me! but mostly, i just wanted some fucking solutions that didn’t involve a meetup group that makes you and twenty other people paint the same goddamn thing, like a lamp or a snowman.

students-group-atlanta-art-classes

i don’t know these women, but they’re really happy about just having painted the ugliest high heels on record.

 

i’m not going to apologize for hating on those painting classes.

plenty of people enjoy them.

i am just not one of those people.

 

 

“when you are self-employed” is probably a search term i should have added, because unfortunately, one common suggestion was make friends at the office. it’s okay to mix business and pleasure! my “office” is wherever i want, and that includes my bed, the kitchen table and counter, a coffee shop twenty minutes away (to say las vegas has no coffee shop culture would be an understatement), my boyfriend’s apartment, and recently, the poker rooms at various casinos. surprisingly, casino staff lets a small girl (adult?) with a laptop full of children’s book manuscripts hang out there due to the small chance she’s helping her boyfriend count cards.

even if you didn’t recently move across the country to a city filled with crazy people, apparently, according to my web research, it’s straight up difficult to make friends when you’re older. our standards are higher (because “someone to party with” isn’t our only requirement once we’re no longer in college); our time is more limited because of jobs, kids, and other obligations; and the means for making friends as an adult are really fucking awkward.

my suggested meetup groups. the harry potter one is tempting.

i won’t feel bad about shitting on those painting classes, but i do feel bad about shitting on meetup. i want to like meetup. i want it to work (and to be fair, one of my two friends is someone i met through the app, but only because he took the initiative to message me outside of a writers group we’d both joined), but there is something inherently creepy and forced about it. i don’t want to be in a book club with 567 members. i don’t want to try salsa dancing. i don’t want to learn krav maga or needlepoint with a bunch of strangers. i want a group that’s called “let’s sit around and have wine or coffee and talk about shit!” and i don’t want to find it on the internet. i just want it to happen.

it’s possible that my veruca salt approach and unwillingness to be a joiner are not helping me out here. the truth is, i’m very social. i have a lot of amazing friends scattered around. i like talking to people, and i often end up making friends or connections with complete strangers in random places. my friend from australia, who now lives in the united states, remarked the other day that she had trouble making her own friends as well when she moved, but that she and i became lifelong friends in a foreign country in about a day. so we’re clearly capable. it’s just better when the art of friend-making happens naturally and not like some bizarre playdate you set yourself up on.

since last night i’ve done a few things. i inquired about getting put on a co-ed softball team, even though i’m half scared i don’t remember how to throw a ball; signed up for a site i found on the huffington post online called girlfriendcircles (i know, i gagged too); and joined a young professionals toastmasters group. i’m also considering going to a bar or a library solo, because those seem like normal places to meet people, and i can practice meeting them by shouting and whispering. it’ll really expand my vocal range and put me out of my comfort zone, both of which will help at my toastmasters meetings. or i can just combine the two and bring a book to a bar. nothing says, “be my friend!” like a young adult novel and some vodka.

is that weird?

alg-scotch-book-jpg

this is scotch. but you get the idea.

girlfriendcircles asked me to pick one of the following and only one of the following adjectives (annoying) to describe myself: sanguine, choleric, melancholy, or phlegmatic. while the main entry in merriam-webster’s for melancholy is “a gloomy mood or condition,” “quietly serious thoughtfulness” was also listed (and i’m definitely not sanguine, choleric, or phlegmatic). i’m going to take this weekend to quietly and seriously have some thoughts—

 

i’ve decided to stay in, and not run away from, las vegas—

about what it means for me to have a life here and who might fit into said life. while i still can’t stop myself from calling new jersey the h word, i live in las vegas now, and it’s about time i start considering this glittery insane asylum, and its residents, my home.

“because wherever i sat [ . . . ] i would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”*

this post was begun at four a.m. and finished at six a.m. this morning. i just now woke up in a delirious stupor in order to post it. i will now go back to sleep.

it’s four a.m. in my household, so naturally, all three members of my hippie artist family, and that’s includes me, are awake and prowling around the house and doing random shit. my mom is probably plowing through her fifth library book of the week, and my dad is most likely falling asleep perusing a passage in silas marner or the great gatsby that he’s already read two dozen times. i haven’t shaken my vegas routine, which is go-to-bed-at-six-and-wake-up-at-two-in-the-afternoon, and to have gone from stumbling out into the sunlight from a strip club this past monday morning at a time when my friends on the east coast were commuting to work to, screech, having shopping-cart battles with suburban milfs in trader joe’s this afternoon was some sort of jedi mind fuck, and i wish i could say that this weird restless before-dawn itch were a rare occurrence, but it’s not. i also wish i hadn’t just eaten three bowls of corn chex, a cereal i don’t even like.

the other day, when i told someone i was a writer, this person, a stranger, asked, “so, do you have some crazy weird schedule where you’re up all night and shit?” (the prose wasn’t so eloquent, but i’m fine to let the lack of articulateness go because the conversation took place in a crowded club at two a.m., and big, complicated words are hard to shout over edm. even schedule was a bit of a stretch.)

i answered, “yeah. pretty much.” sometimes we creative folk are predictable. dr. alice weaver flaherty calls my current affliction “the midnight disease,” aka hypergraphia, an intense desire to write, when a person becomes almost manic, compelled to express him- or herself on anything available, even a slip of toilet paper. i simply got out of bed and retrieved my laptop from the kitchen; nonetheless, the compulsion steamrolled all else.

which brings me to the actual purpose of this blog. i’ve wanted to write this post for a few days now, but i didn’t know how to start it. apparently, all i needed to do was drink coffee at eight p.m., sleep-deprive myself, copyedit 150 pages of a middle-grade novel, have a sort of weepy i-miss-you skype chat with my boyfriend (who’s in australia), and eat breakfast cereal that resembles and tastes like miniature cardboard potholders. oh, and research something for a family friend in exchange for her having altered several articles of my clothing (because when you’re an artist, you often pay people like your seamstress and accountant in favors instead of cash—it’s simple: you have none).

help-me-im-poor

 

 

 

 

anyway, a friend of mine, who, come to think of it, i haven’t talked to in a while (hallo!, as they say in the uk), posted a few words on facebook re: robin williams the other day, and i thought they were spot-on (i hope he doesn’t mind i’ve retyped a snippet of them here):

depression is often part of what makes comedians comedians (most of them, anyway). many artists are ticking time bombs. any of them could go at any moment. that’s the other shoe. the art is what keeps the demons away, but sometimes it’s not enough.

tons of people suffer from depression, but artists in particular, whether they be musicians or painters or comics, tend to lean toward the melancholy side of things. it’s been said that low self-esteem and pessimism often fuel success because sufferers of depression work extra, unearthly hard to put themselves in positions in which they are surrounded by so much good and bounty that the sadness melts enough as to be ignored. the mask of laughter or creative self-deprecation through art has helped many a performer battle, but never conquer, depression. i’ve had friends remark to me that they could never imagine that deep down i’m sad, because my exterior is making jokes and smiling and telling stories or running miles and miles. only someone who has the disease truly understands that these actions are vital shields against, instead, staring into the mirror and whispering to your reflection that you’re worthless. or worse.

monstermy mom told me that my great-grandmother once put her head in the oven to “prove a point” to my great-grandfather. ah, genes.

so i’m pretty open about the fact that i suffer from depression, and it’s not because hollywood has made it “cool” to see a therapist, the image of a person lying on a chaise longue (not lounge) with hands folded on his or her abdomen immortalized as being hip. never once, each time i had to explain to a new manager at a new job that every other wednesday i’d be gone for an hour for a “doctor’s appointment,” did i feel remotely cool or hip. i actually felt more like a special brand of loser, one who needed someone else’s aid to keep her emotions in repose. my brief surrender to the serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (ssri) celexa felt like a failure, and deciding to forgo the meds was a feat. discovering that running a long distance could fix my negatively charged brain for a day (just one fucking day!) was akin to winning a pulitzer prize.

i hope someday to know what that feels like in actuality, and i beseech whomever or whatever that my stupid fuzzy imbalanced headspace is plagued with ample midnight-disease nights as to fill an award-winning book.

but with regards to robin williams . . . to depression and to suicide . . . i have friends with whom i’ve argued about depression as a disease. people who love me, who know me so well, yet still say things like, i don’t understand why you can’t just be happy. you have so much going for you. you should be able to get over it. some people have real problems. or: suicide is the most selfish act. don’t people think about those they’d leave behind?

when caught in the throes of a depressive episode, the outside world can cease to exist. there is you, and there is pain. you’ve forgotten your defense mechanisms. you can’t bring yourself to sit down and write or go for a run or call a friend and tell funny stories. you’re nearly crippled, clawing at the carpet as if you have the strength to tear up the entire square footage of your room but not the energy to get up and get a glass of water to calm down. the past words from your friends and family, the “call me anytime” offers, seem empty; you don’t want to bother anyone. then, somehow, the gears can begin to move. you get up. you write three pages and feel better. you recite your favorite poem ten times. you eek out a hi text message to a friend. you think about someone you love finding you like that, and the image makes you shudder, nauseates you. an episode has passed. these are the lucky, triumphant moments. sometimes, though, they don’t come. nothing clicks, the hole widens and deepens, and some people slip.

i wish one of the funniest men to have ever lived weren’t dead. his jokes and impressions were markers of my childhood and the childhoods of most of my friends. (side note: two years ago i wrote a blog in which the headline was from hook, and it was another gem written at four a.m.) but i both understand and, more important, empathize with him, he who fought a monster and lost. all i ask is for those who can’t empathize, to sympathize, and accept depression as the disease it is. only acceptance will give us the power to destroy it.

 

*who else? slyvia plath in the bell jar.

“action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” *

the other day i was going through my e-mail drafts and deleting messages. the half-written e-mails were often ones i had never intended to send or had chickened out on sending, or they contained poems or snippets of dialogue i’d thought to include in some nonexistent novel or blog. but in one case, i found part of an unfinished post that i had entitled “timing is everything.” it had been buried under e-mails with no body (which, by the way, are now inundating my draft folder due to gmail’s new lightning-fast auto-save function—i find this to be both savvy and beyond irritating). anyway, it’s interesting to read your thoughts and then to go back to figure out when you wrote them, what was going on in your life, and what would soon follow. below is what i had started writing and then stashed in the gmail vacuum.

yesterday i went to lunch with a friend who is leaving early thursday morning to go on vacation for almost three weeks. i won’t see her until i get back from my trip on march 20. after ordering my edamame dumplings, the woman behind the counter gave me my order number—2283—and i had one of those illogical, childlike reactions, thinking that some good luck had to be coming my way. twenty-two is a lucky number not just for me, but for my family, both on my maternal and paternal sides, and i was born in 1983 (!).

a few hours later, after getting out of work on the tardy side, running an errand for my friend, and returning to my apartment around eight, hours of freelance work ahead of me, i ended up doing only half the work i’d planned to and went to sleep with my contacts in and full makeup on, my eyes puffy and swollen. my last thought before i drifted off was that i should have stepped in that dog shit on the way home to double-guarantee the luck i’d been hoping for was in transit to hoboken. if only a bird had pooped on my head as well, to make the luck trifecta. the lucky numbers weren’t cutting it.

when my coworker and i had sat down to eat, we’d started talking about timing. about taking a train later than your normal hour and meeting someone who never takes that particular train but happened to that day because the a, c, and e was x, y, and z. about a coincidence that can’t possibly be just that. about luck. my ten-year-old self would have called it magic.

and that’s where it stopped. i remember that lunch very well, but today i had trouble placing it on a timeline, so i used facebook (i knew my overuse of social media would come in handy) to pinpoint the date, which ended up being february 12 of this year. i had just gone to nashville with one of my best friends and was about to, that weekend, meet her and a few others in washington, dc. on the next day, february 13, the time of writing, i was nine days away from knowing my boyfriend even existed, eighteen days away from leaving for my trip to cambodia and thailand, and nearly thirty days away from making a huge life choice, which was ultimately to quit my job to focus on writing and freelancing. i wrote the post less than a day after telling a best friend, a guy who i had been dating then stopped dating but remained friends with despite still having feelings for him, that we had to stop speaking, stop hanging out.

whatever happened to me that day hours after lunch had caused me to arrive at place where i felt that luck, that timing, no longer mattered. because i’d seen a “sign,” because my friend had been talking about being on a train at the right time, because i was about to go on a life-changing trip, i’d expected the rest of my day to turn out gloriously. instead i got home late, didn’t finish my work, told my best friend i couldn’t speak to him anymore, and cried myself to sleep. i realized i wasn’t content with my life, and the worst part was that i was letting myself be that way. i was contributing zilch toward changing the view outside my window while hoping for what, i’m not sure. some dog shit to step in, i suppose.

i read a quote recently (and i cannot find it, which is fantastically pissing me off) about how, if you’re writing about your life, you need to be willing to embarrass yourself. otherwise, the product is going to reek and be ridden with an assortment of holes, and trying to sell it to your audience would be akin to selling someone a moth-chewed sweater you found in a very old, very neglected dumpster. no one wants it, and frankly, it stinks. keep this in mind for the next few paragraphs. please.

anyway . . . as i said, on february 13, i was nine days away from knowing that my boyfriend existed. if you’re not familiar with online dating, and in particular, if you’re not familiar with match.com, there are several methods of communicating with people you’re interested in. you can send them a match.com e-mail or instant message, like one of their photos, or wink at them (typing that makes me gag, but oh well). the splendid thing about match.com is even after you’ve let your subscription run out, if you’ve left your profile set to visible, charming bachelors can continue to send you messages and wink up a storm. the caveats of course are that you can view the profiles of said messengers and winkers, but 1). you can’t read the content of their messages, and 2). even if you could read them, you can’t respond in any way other than with . . . yup, a wink. the reason for this is that match.com hopes you’ll get enough batting eyes and sexy texts to make you want to renew your subscription and be able both to see what poetry was sent to you and to chat with these fine young poets.

so i got a wink from this gingery-looking guy, a self-proclaimed narcissist workaholic with commitment issues, who claimed he was 5’10” and whose headline read: “life is too short to dance with fat chicks.” he read—actual books!—had a degree in mechanical engineering, and strung words together much like i do, as if he believed, also like i do, that they matter (though maybe he could have used a thesaurus for that “fat chick” part to soften it up a bit). and then, toward the bottom of his profile, i came across a quote he had listed as one of his favorites, one by mark twain, and one that my sixth-grade english teacher had made us write as the first line in our journals: “the difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” this was also the same teacher who had had us learn about the genocide in cambodia, my soon-to-be travel destination, and had assigned us cambodian pen pals shortly after the khmer rouge was overthrown. the quote has been, since that day, one of my favorites. as a writer, it only makes sense.

long story longer (it’s my way, i’m sorry), i winked back at this man and told myself that if he e-mailed me, i’d consider spending the money to rejoin match to be able to read his message and respond to it. i half-hoped he wouldn’t message me—i knew i’d be out at least the one-month subscription fee if i opted back in—but he did, and i spent a day wavering between letting the thing go and renewing my membership. ultimately, i renewed. i told myself that if i didn’t, i’d always regret it.

i told him this story on our first date (according to the rules, what a no-no, right?), but he didn’t see it as pathetic or loopy and he didn’t believe that my openness about telling him was too forward. i was really george constanza’ing it in reverse, embracing every natural impulse instead of going by the unwritten book of dating. my propensity is to overshare, overcompliment if i like someone, and overexpose bits of my personality and vulnerabilities upfront, and this, not shockingly, scares the shit out of guys, if not most people. we continued to talk after i left for asia, four days after our first date, and when he suggested that we meet in the airport the night i returned to new york (his flight from la happened to be landing a mere forty-five minutes before mine), i thought that the sensible thing to do, after traveling for a day straight and sitting in a cramped airplane seat for sixteen hours, would be to say no and figure out a better time (as if any other time when you’re not exhausted, jet-lagged, smelly, and dehydrated wouldn’t be better) to hang out. but i said okay, and there i was staring at a guy with whom i’d had one date and whose face i’d struggled to re-create from memory during three weeks of eating ganja pizza in siem reap, trying to ride a motorbike in koh lanta, and peeing, drunk, in the andaman sea off phi phi island, my dress hiked up to my hips, my phone and bag dangerously close to plummeting toward saltwater death. my friend and travel companion told me i was nuts for not ditching the guy to go home and head straight to bed, but i knew i’d regret it if i didn’t see him again and, not only that, i’d regret it if i didn’t see him that very night.

timing isn’t everything, but it is something, if only we capitalize on it. ultimately, we have choices, and we have the power to make the most of our luck. we aren’t helpless bystanders in the coincidences in which we find ourselves. i used to believe that the good things in life came to you if you were good, if you waited patiently for them to find you. and maybe, for some, they do arrive in that way. but the most satisfying good, for me, has come out of action, not passivity, from seeking out, not waiting for.

our airport “date” was six months ago, and i got off the phone with him around eight this morning, he in a cab in las vegas en route to eat steak and eggs, i in my room, packing for my trip to costa rica. the person i love is 2,500 miles away, but i am happy he is in my life to love this much (i’m currently stretching my arms out to my sides as far as they will go—that’s how much). tonight in san josé i’m meeting my friend, a girl i met a year ago at a hostel in amsterdam, another example of timing capitalized on, the result being a best, lifelong friend who i’m spending my birthday and eleven days with on another continent. a part of me continues to believe in luck, and in magic, but above all, i believe in the present progressive, in those -ing verbs: moving, going, and most important, doing.

*william james

“finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”*

this post was written earlier this morning.

i’m in one of those really fantastic moods in which i don’t feel like talking to anyone. there are about five or six text messages in my in-box that i haven’t even opened, a few from hours ago, and probably by tomorrow i’ll get follow-up messages from those friends asking me if i’m okay. i generally don’t do this sort of thing, so when i do, my friends know that i mean business about my anger, sadness, or whatever it is. it’s midnight on saturday (or, i guess, technically it’s sunday), and at this time last week, i was out on the lower east side, wearing the tightest dress and highest heels i’ve ever worn in my life, and six hours away from going to sleep.

at this moment, i’m in bed at my parents’ house—i’m going to keep calling it that until i get to the point where i stop being in denial that i, too, live here—wearing my ex-boyfriend’s pajama pants, neon-blue socks, and a long-sleeve shirt. oh, and my glasses. i’m truly one of those versatile girls who writes on her match.com profile that she can be “up for a night out on the town or a low-key night staying in.” i’m the perfect woman, you’ve found me, congratulations.

up until a half hour ago, when i decided to take the longest, most scalding shower ever, i had copyedited for twelve hours, interrupted only by pouring and imbibing more coffee or eating some sort of carb. let’s just say i should buy stock in clif bars if the company is publicly traded. (well, turns out it’s not—upholding its values and not selling out or some other garbage—so i guess i can’t use my nonexistent money to buy shares. maybe clif’ll give me a job instead.)

a friend once told me that i remind her of the energizer bunny, and i’ve felt as though, for months and months now, even a year, that i’ve been able to somehow do so much without collapsing. but, as i found out this weekend, even those with seemingly bottomless energy sometimes tap out. in a fight, though, there’s tapping out, leaving the brawl on your own terms, and then there’s getting straight-up knocked out, after which you come to only when your body is ready. on friday night, i took a high kick to the head.

all week i did a slew of idiotic things, from trying to go through the subway turnstile without it even occurring to me that i should swipe my card, chewing a piece of gum i knowingly dropped on the ground in one of the most filthy places in america, and trying to correct the word humorous, which was clearly spelled right, because i was convinced it looked “too british.” i also missed my train stop on wednesday night, which would have made sense had i fallen asleep, except that i was awake. when my dad called to tell me my train had just left red bank, i swore up and down that we’d just left middletown, the previous stop, and i realized i was two stations beyond mine only when we were pulling into long branch. i had zero recollection of the train stopping at my destination or the one past it.

these may seem like silly examples, but they are things i normally do not do, or, at least, i don’t do them all within the same week. i am very tired, and very stressed, the following on my plate for the next two months:

  • 9/30: stop working at simon & schuster (oh, i quit my job on 9/3)
  • 10/1: leave for costa rica (i have my flights booked, nothing else)
  • 10/3: turn thirty
  • 10/12: return from costa rica
  • 11/3: run the nyc marathon (oh right, and before that, train to run those 26.2 miles and raise $3,000 for my charity; if i don’t raise the full amount, i pay the difference)
  • 11/16: leave for las vegas
  • 11/27: fly back to return home the next morning, in time for thanksgiving

meanwhile, during all that, i need to worry about purchasing my own health insurance, getting steady freelance work and building new relationships, obtaining new clients, developing my website, writing my blog posts, working on my novel, getting business cards, networking, trying to figure out how to become a travel writer because that’s simple, missing my former coworkers and the office environment and new york and all my friends in north jersey, and working on not desperately missing my boyfriend, who now lives in las vegas. i’m aware that i sound like a huge crybaby. sorry. most of these things are very cool and exciting, but now mounded, they’ve overwhelmed me.

i’ve become more concerned than usual about money recently, probably because in two weeks i will no longer be getting a steady paycheck, so i’ve taken on a lot of side work. i haven’t said no to anyone, and this act of writing is the most fun i’ve allowed myself to have all week. the amount of work i’ve taken on has left me wrung out and cotton-brained, and on thursday, realizing that i had promised a publishing house i’d return copyediting and proofreading tests to them within a week, i hurriedly completed the tests and sent them back, too worried about seeming flaky to ask for more time (on a self-imposed due date, no less). drunkenly overconfident in my abilities, i assumed that even tired, overworked kaitlin’s skills were superior to most, and i figured, when i saw the e-mail response in outlook, that i had passed the test with flying colors. and why wouldn’t i have? i work for the second-biggest publishing house in the world, and i already freelance for four out of the big six, as they’re known. this last house would have completed the sexfecta (yes, i just made that up).

anyway, i didn’t pass. and when i looked over my tests, my boo-boos circled in purple (for shame, my favorite color!), i couldn’t digest the things i’d missed, including overlooking two of the same word in a row and not noticing that the r in concentration was missing, which is really just downright mean and mocking. there were other egregious issues, and had a freelancer submitted that sort of test to me, i wouldn’t have been impressed. to feel a potential client, and therefore potential projects and income, slip through my fingers was horrible and i felt humiliated, but that wasn’t even the worst part. the worst part, to me, was that i let a due date get to me, that i let the idea of gaining income cause me to forget why i do my job and why i chose this career.

practically every second of my day is consumed with books, whether it’s at my full-time job, while freelancing, or when i’m at home, thinking about my novel or discussing my dad’s manuscripts with him. i’m consumed even when reading for pleasure, which is barely pleasurable anymore because i can’t stop myself from seeing a book through the eyes of a copy editor or proofreader. i’m consumed with tweeting quotes by famous authors. i live and breathe literature; i need it to survive. but, just as i need food to keep kicking, too much of it will make me sick. i’ve been swallowing words whole, without tasting them, seeing them as a means to an end, and in the process, they’ve made me ill.

i gave up going to boston and running a half marathon with my friend this weekend to stay home and work. i would have had to work regardless (this time my deadlines are nonnegotiable and most definitely not self-imposed), but i decided that my jobs deserved more. more attention, more love. the manuscripts i have to work on are authors’ souls set in print and maybe one day some kids’ favorite books. they’re works of art, not a paycheck, not a due date. i wish it hadn’t taken a failed test to make me see this, but unfortunately, that’s what happened. but today, instead of seeing my job, a manuscript, as money in my pocket and mere words on a page, meant to be reined in by my grammatical hands, i tried to read it as a story i picked up because i wanted to read it. then, you know, i just happened to hyphenate words correctly and change mantle to mantel because no author can ever get that shit straight.

“i have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting, and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”

—roald dahl

books-and-heart-jpeg

*cervantes, don quixote

“and the darkest hour is just before dawn. . . .”*

i wrote this post on june 30, after a late night out on saturday, june 29, and while plagued with a fantastic hangover.

i’ve found that we humans do our deep thinking at times and in places that personally suit us best, which of course, makes perfect sense. maybe it’s when having a cup of coffee in the morning, before our day starts. when showering, letting the hot water go cold as we mull over various dilemmas and potential decisions. while driving or commuting. or maybe right before bed. or even while brushing our teeth (my friend, by whom i just ran this post, told me that’s another ideal thinking time). but i think there is one time, and one place, in which no one should be thinking at all, and that’s during the early hours of the morning, when we’re in bed, around three or four a.m. or so. it’s still dark, and it’s too early to get up, but it’s also too late to fall back into a deep sleep. yet despite the fact that this point on the twenty-four-hour daily ride is not ideal for thinking clearly, or rationally, i often find that this is when i’m most awake and the least likely to be capable of banishing any negative thoughts. when i’m up at this hour, nothing can soothe me and no one can reason with me. and mostly, that’s because no one else is awake to let me vent and tell me how unreasonable i am acting.

i’ll occasionally do some writing during these instances, and while, then, i believe that i’m making valid points and coming to some profound conclusions, when i later read anything i’ve written at that ungodly hour, the words are completely absurd, as if some verbally gifted demon hacked into my brain and spewed some well-written yet bat-shit crazy, half-baked ideas that i had previously thought were positively brilliant. think joyce’s ulysses if it were merely straight-up nonsense and not a nonsensical masterpiece (and, actually, it’s not even really nonsensical; most people just think it is).

there’s a song called “in the wee small hours of the morning,” an old tune that was first recorded by frank sinatra in the 1950s, that i always think of when i find myself unable to sleep, my heart filled with dread. the song is about how you miss the person you love, if they aren’t there or if they don’t love you back or whatever, most desperately during the early morning hours. i was talking to a friend recently about trying to do any real productive thinking at this time and she said that she doesn’t believe our bodies were created to handle thought during those hours. almost as if we’re supposed to be shut down, like a computer. yet sometimes, when a thing is bothering us, we reboot, and all sorts of irrational ideas come barreling through the wall that our sleeping brain was supposed to have been programmed to put up for about six to eight hours. there must be a glitch.

why am i talking about this? i’m not completely sure. maybe i just feel the need to try to understand why we can’t quiet our brains sometimes. why, like a car with cut brakes, our perceptions of things can abruptly lose control and our thought process can work up to a dangerous speed as we can’t help but let it roll downhill into a busy intersection. i am also worried, maybe, that twelve hours from now, i’ll be staring up into the bleak ebony night, wondering if the decisions i’ve decided to make in the next few months are going to be ones i regret or can’t take back. or both. or possibly something worse i haven’t even anticipated. i know i’m being cryptic, but right now i have to be.

months ago, when i still lived in hoboken, i was awake in the middle of the night, and i became inspired to compose a poem (one of the few examples of middle-of-the-night writing i’ve done that i think is actually decent). i’ll get to that soon.

but behind the poem, there’s this. so, for a long time, i was fortunate to have someone i cared about sleeping next to me in bed. it sounds silly, but even when that person was snoozing away, it was nice just knowing that he was there. when i’d wake up at four a.m., upset about something, i could look over, feel safe, and roll back to my spot, where, in about a minute, i’d again be asleep. i wrote the poem below long after that person had vacated my bed, and although, while writing, i was in an apartment with two roommates, i felt as if i were miles away from any other form of life. you can quickly get used to having the comfort of a warm body next to you, and when the other side of the bed is empty and you still take up only “your” half, you wish someone would fill that space. and sometimes, right after that person is gone, you think that anyone can lie there. that anyone can step in and give that comfort you used to have. i have made mistakes with this—because i was lonely or sad or confused—and i mistook anybody for that somebody. and when i was alone, i felt uncontrollably restless and uncomfortable in my body, as if it were merely a vessel meant to keep me trapped, and i wanted so badly to have someone else there. now, having moved past the lonely and sad phase (albeit maybe not the confused one), i can now think of only one person to fill that void, and maybe that’s even worse. because when he isn’t present, there can be no replacements—no second-string quarterbacks, understudies, or stand-ins—so it is during those wee small hours that i do miss him most.

anyway, this is one very convoluted and slapdash post. i’m almost not even sure that i didn’t write it at four a.m. instead of four p.m. . . . though maybe four p.m. when one is hung over and has the sunday blues is about as close as one can get to dawn.

sometimes i try to run through the early morning anxiety, when everyone else is still asleep

nyc skyline at sunrise
sometimes i try to run through the early morning anxiety, when everyone else is still asleep.

here’s the poem.

a collector truck backs up,

beep.

so this is how

a few stragglers wind home from the haunt,

whoo-whoop.

your midnight goes

a streetlight goes out,

zap.

yes, this is how

a few bars from a song in a passing car,

doo-doop.

your midnight goes

a set of tires on a dewy road,

skid.

when you’re all alone

a few rodents scurry to their homes,

scritch-scratch.

in a big, big city.

*from “dedicated to the one i love” by the mamas and the papas

see you, me, julio, and martin down by the school yard

ah, the three-day holiday weekend. what better way to celebrate the legacy of martin luther king jr. than to drink more heavily and stay out later than usual on a saturday night because you’ll have not one, but two full days, to recover? i’ll reconcile this obnoxious statement later. i promise.

before i get to that, last week one of my best friends had apparently had enough of my “bitching” on here and decided to tell me so. he said that i’m “a lot funnier than my f***ing blog” and i “should cheer the f*** up.” so . . . well . . . um . . . now i don’t know what to say. but i’ll try to go a different route. anyway, upon my walk home to my apartment sunday morning, i happened to run into the same friend on the street corner while he was on his way to get a late breakfast at this place called soul full café (side note: it was pretty good. they had graham cracker coffee and a variety of breakfast burritos that come with home fry–style potatoes). he took one look at me—full nighttime makeup still somehow clinging to my eyelids, black jeans, and high-heeled ankle boots—and said:

“walk of shame?” (he’s not very tactful. or nice.)

“i crashed on my female friend’s couch in the city last night. not a walk of shame.”

“well, that’s not what it looks like.”

“but it isn’t.”

“but you’re the only one who knows that.”

after some deep thinking, i decided that wearing a sign above my head would have been appropriate and, really, just downright helpful for anyone who may have been mislead by my appearance. maybe something like: “i know what this looks like . . . but what actually happened is that my (girl) friend and i went out on the lower east side and then ate at the ihop on east fourteenth street at four a.m. and i didn’t want to take the path home so i crashed on her couch and now i am walking to my apartment in my clothes and makeup from last night because a second outfit and flats and a makeup-removing cloth don’t exactly fit into the wallet-masquerading-as-a-clutch that i am carrying.” i think this sign would be brief yet informative.

to answer your questions about new york city’s fourteenth street ihop at four a.m.: yes.

after an early-morning snack of a gargantuan omelet, toast, and bites of my friend’s pancakes and her leftover onion rings, i went to wait in line for the bathroom so i could wash ihop off my hands. “isaac from orlando” approached me, his eyes barely open, to say that i was pretty and that he was in town for only the weekend (wink), on break from his gig as one of the characters at disney world. despite his exuberant charm, i resisted asking him which character he plays and then i skittered away like a frightened cat, making an executive decision that cleaning my hands could wait. though now i find myself wondering if he was more prince eric or aladdin, despite the fact that he did not resemble either. at all.

around the same time, i sent my roommate a text entirely composed of emoji emoticons, which included sixteen panda heads, seven poodles, nine stars of david, three crystal balls, six pills, four syringes, seven guns, a knife, nine american flags, one french flag, an anchor, four gas pumps, and one airplane. she was at a bachelorette party and probably a bit drunk. i’m pretty confident that i confused the crap out of her.

sunday night i had dinner and wine with a friend, and we had a really good conversation about some of my upcoming travel plans (more on that sometime soon) and writing about the traveling i plan to do and have already done. he put me on the spot a few times, in a constructive, nonobtrusive way, asking me questions about who my intended audience would be if i were to write a book, for example, and i went home last night feeling energized about starting various writing projects.

yesterday, though, i woke up feeling not very well rested, my brain heavy and clouded, a cephalic fog weighing on me. i felt a bit blue, let’s just say. my mood may have been caused by the wine (and maybe that glass of port that topped off my evening) or the daunting pile of freelance work that lay ahead of me or a combination of both, but as i sat back, midway through this post, and thought about my weekend, i wondered why, sometimes, i play the same note of going out and being social over and over as if there’s nothing more to life. as if it’s just one big party.

this led me to thinking about this long weekend, and its significance, as we celebrate two important and exceptional men. martin luther king jr. was a bad-ass dude, and i’m not just saying so because honoring him gave me a day off work. i’m saying it because it gave me time to write this terrible blog post.

okay, what i actually meant to write is that last week while i was out, i actually overheard someone at the bar say that he doesn’t “get” why mlk “gets his own day.” i believe, despite mr. king’s insistence on nonviolent forms of communication and acts to encourage change, that this person should have been slapped across the face. and maybe one time upside the head. i could probably go on for quite a while about martin luther king jr.’s accomplishments and his impact on our society’s attitudes toward race, sexual orientation, gender, and religion, but i won’t. i’m just going to take stock in the fact that, while things aren’t perfect, they’re far different—and better—than they were when, say, my parents were my age, and we can thank mlk for that.

that being said, happy inauguration to president obama, a man who is peaceful enough that he probably wouldn’t have even considered slapping that kid—across the face or upside the head—and who once said the following about mlk:

“through words [martin luther king jr] gave voice to the voiceless. through deeds he gave courage to the faint of heart. by dint of vision, and determination, and most all faith in the redeeming power of love, he endured the humiliation of arrest, the loneliness of a prison cell, the constant threats to his life, until he finally inspired a nation to transform itself and begin to live up to the meaning of its creed.”

last night my friend said that sometimes, when he is on youtube or wikipedia, he will start with one topic and keep clicking on another link or video, and then another and another, until, unless he backed his browser up to his original page, he would have no recollection of what topic or video he had started with. if you, reader, “clicked back” on this post’s “browser,” you’d find that i started off this post by discussing a pseudo walk of shame. that’s quite a thread. good or bad, give me some credit for somehow going from writing about faux sexual deviance to praising a legendary civil rights leader and our second-term president.

i bet this post would look amazing if it were made up entirely of emoji keyboard emoticons.