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.

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“no man can be a failure if he thinks he’s a success; if he thinks he is a winner, then he is.”*

softball4this post was written on december 1.

merriam-webster lists the fourth definition of choke (an intransitive verb) as “to lose one’s composure and fail to perform effectively in a critical situation.” “choking,” also known as nerves or performance anxiety, is such an issue that some people are famous for doing it. espn once made a list of notorious chokers, which at the time included entire teams—like the buffalo bills and the boston red sox—and individuals like golfer phil mickelson and kicker scott norwood. when more is at stake—money, reputation, fame—a person’s dire aversion to loss motivation kicks in, causing them to feel as though whatever is on the line is in his or her grasp to lose. he or she may work more diligently, yet somehow this hard labor doesn’t pay off; in fact, the opposite occurs.

sian beilock, a psychologist at the university of chicago, studied professional athletes for her book, choke: what the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to, and found that overthinking leads to what she calls “paralysis by analysis.” a person knows the possible reward is nearly within reach, so he or she attempts to control every step or aspect of what he or she is doing in order to obtain that reward. beilock also cites that pressure-filled situations can suck dry the working memory section of our brain, causing us to muck up whatever we’re so hell bent on winning. there’s no doubt that everyone, at some point, chokes. but, clearly, some of us choke more often than others do.

i’m kaitlin, and i’m a choker.

in high school i could hit a softball square on the fat part of the bat during practice or in low-pressure situations, but i could be counted on to strike out or ground out during ups when my teammates and coach were imploring me to move runners over in a clutch, like when we were down by only a run. how clichéd it is to exemplify the bottom-of-the-seventh (in softball), bases-loaded, winning-run-on-third moment, the batter in a three-two count, but i was in that boat often.

don’t be the last out of the inning. don’t be the last out of the game. don’t strike out. don’t pop up. don’t ground out. these negative inner mandates translated to: don’t fuck it all up, severini.

sometimes i got lucky—i’d get a walk—but i attribute that less to having a good eye and more to the fact that i often felt as though my arms were pinned, unable to properly wield the bat that had previously felt so comfortable in my grip. i couldn’t force my hips to swivel, my front foot to square to the pitcher, my back foot to turn up on its heel, the cleats deepening the pit next to home plate. sometimes four crappy pitches would go by as i stood, frozen, and then off i’d trot toward first base.

choking is something i’ve learned to curb in recent years, especially after traveling, when i learned how little i can influence the outcome of any given dilemma. the control freak within me has disintegrated little by little, nearing extinction, but the thing about a control freak is that she is a stubborn bitch who doesn’t give up easily.

dating a professional pickup artist/dating coach has, for obvious reasons, drawn many questions (and some interesting commentary) from my friends and family, specifically with regard to what exactly a professional pua does, aside from getting his students in bed with hot women, which is what most people think is the only goal of pickup. learning and mastering pickup has some to do with meeting and bedding women, but more to do with becoming the best possible version of yourself, overcoming fears and insecurities, and relieving yourself from trying in desperation to obtain a positive outcome in a given situation without enjoying any of the journey that comes before the goal. the most effective way to dash away your fears, to achieve what puas call “freedom from outcome” is to practice. beilock agrees, stating that “practicing under stress . . . helps a person feel comfortable when they find themselves standing in the line of fire. . . . the experience of having dealt with stress makes those situations seem like old hat. . . .”

“think about the journey, not the outcome,” she advises.

last night (or early this morning, i guess), i was sharing a meal with my boyfriend and two of his students when i noticed that the candle on our table had burned out, the wick down to the nub in a melted pool of wax. the student across from me looked to his right, at an empty table with a perfectly burning candle, and he swapped its flickering neighbor with our dud.

“this is going to sound crazy,” he said, “but before yesterday, i would never have done that.”

and i wondered why. was he afraid that the wait staff wouldn’t be happy that a patron did something the staff members normally do themselves? was it akin to reaching behind the wait station and grabbing extra napkins instead of asking for them? (this is something my dad does with alarming regularity when we eat out.) did he think that we didn’t deserve a burning flame? was he scared we’d think he was silly for caring that our candle had burned out? i didn’t ask for the reason (or reasons), but it didn’t matter. he had been forced to talk to and dance with girls all night and stand out on a sidewalk in union square and shout out his insecurities, so deciding that our table deserved a fully functioning candle and he was going to make that a reality was now hardly a nerve-inducing quandary. he switched those candles with authority. shits given: none.

over the last nine months, i’ve had those moments in which i’ve faltered, but for the most part, i’ve had my eyes on a number of goals, and i’ve known that the best way to achieve those goals is to be myself, my best self, and “be easy,” as my friend says. back in the spring i decided that i wanted to do the following: move home to save money, take a trip for my thirtieth birthday, complete the new york city marathon, quit my job and work as a freelancer, make progress on my book, travel whenever i wanted, and be the girl, but more than that, the partner, the best friend, of a man harder than hard to reach, a man with more options than the average gent. i knocked down each pin one at a time, the last one in the list falling most recently.

and it was then that i stood on top of the world i’d worked so hard to build, and i looked down; but instead of experiencing a triumph that everything had turned out far, far better than i ever could have imagined, or a feeling of satisfaction that i’d completed just what i’d set out to, i panicked. i was up so high, and i had so, so much to lose. i had such a distance to fall if i were to trip, make a mistimed footfall, that i didn’t bother to congratulate myself on having achieved all these things. i began to wonder how not to lose them. i questioned how i’d been able to get them in the first place—did i even deserve them?—and how i wasn’t going to screw them up. then, afterward, everything i did, and anything anyone said, became peppered with low self-esteem, insecurity, and doubt. so then, worst of all, i seemed to forget how to be that confident, driven person, and in turn, i overcompensated in order to find her again, only to have it all backfire. in short, i choked.

“it’s because it feels like a dream,” i said recently.

“so why are you trying so hard to wake up?” he answered.

i’m sitting in the starbucks on eighth avenue and thirty-fifth street now while my boyfriend is with his students across eighth at a diner. i’m supposed to be working on the job i have due tomorrow (and i will later, meaning i’ll be up all night, finishing it), but writing this post is like therapy for me, a therapy i desperately needed.

“a person . . . can overcome anxiety by thinking about what to say, not what not to say,” beilock says. and, similarly, the pickup artist is taught to play to win, not play not to lose.

so here i am. i’m seventeen, my waist-length curls tied up in french braid pigtails; white and purple socks, streaked in red-orange infield, pulled up to just under my kneecaps; the smallest of the batting helmets in our equipment bag still wobbly on my abnormally small head. my hands smell like sand and leather, and my coach is telling me, in a series of hand motions and ear tugs, to swing away. we have a chance to win our division, if only i can advance to first and move the go-ahead run on third home. i don’t need to hit a grand slam. i don’t even need to hit a double. i don’t need to hit the ball at all, actually.

fuck you, don’t be the last out of the inning.

fuck you, don’t be the last out of the game.

fuck you, don’t strike out.

fuck you, don’t pop up, and fuck the fuck off, don’t ground out.

protect the strike zone and pick my pitch. hit the ball through the infield. outrun the throw to first. get the girl on third home. make it so that, in approximately twenty seconds, she’s sliding into, jumping on, dancing around, rolling over, strolling across, or knocking the catcher off home plate, my back to her as i fly up the baseline, kicking up divots, pigtails flapping against the number on my jersey, one i’ve earned if only it’s in this key moment. one in which i decide to win instead of not choke.

*robert w. service

“stay young, go dancing.”*

dear diary,

it’s eight o’clock on the saturday night of labor day weekend, and i’m sitting on my bed, ice on my ankles and my laptop on my—well, where it should be—listening to the sounds of the fair haven fireman’s fair that are wafting through my open window. i can hear the announcer pushing people to buy 50/50 tickets, and there’s the occasional fire truck siren overriding the happy screams from preteens on the zipper (or maybe they’ve replaced that ride with another; it has been eighteen years since i was a preteen). i can also just make out the peak of the ferris wheel above the trees in my backyard. it’s the last night of the fair, and even though i’m not going back to school in a week, this night still brings the feeling of end-ish-ness (a new word i just made up—if the oxford english dictionary can recognize squee and srsly as words, then my hyphenated atrocity doesn’t seem so bad to me). it’s the unofficial end of the summer, which will make anyone a bit gloomy, but it’s sad especially if you’re riding solo and writing a blog while your parents aren’t even here to hang out with you because they’re at a barbecue. i always suspected they were cooler than i am.

but, to be perfectly honest, i ran twenty miles in high humidity and eight-five-degree heat earlier today. i probably shouldn’t be doing a damn thing. i am also so tired that it feels as though it’s eleven, not 8:30 p.m., and i’m sort of disappointed that i can’t go to bed yet.

so i was thinking the other day about friends, and i thought more about them today during my run. i’m not trying to brag, but i have a lot of friends. this isn’t necessarily because i’m very likeable (srsly), but because i’m pretty adept at not letting most people out of my clutches. i’ve been known to suck at responding to e-mails, but my track record for keeping in touch is pretty flawless. part of the reason i moved home is because my level of yolo (another despicable 2013 oed addition) was causing me to go broke and neglect other parts of my life. it also made me a bit pudgy since you can’t really go for a run the morning after a night of craziness. well, you can. but then you’ll wipe out during a two-mile fun run. that happened to this girl i know.

anyway, someone told me once, in response to my hectic schedule, that i was going to spread myself too thin. this has always made me think of this quote from the fellowship of the ring. tolkein wrote:

i feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

the same person above also told me, when i asked him to come with me to meet some new people i’d been hanging out with, that he didn’t want any more friends. that he had all the ones he needed.

i thought then, and still think now, well, if that isn’t the stupidest shit i’ve ever heard.

over the past three weeks, i apartment- and cat-sat for a woman i met less than three years ago and who is on my mental list of people i can call or text anytime for nonjudgmental advice and talks; i had dinner with a girl i’ve traveled with twice and who i consider my best friend even though i’ve known her for only two years; and i did my twenty-mile run today with a guy i met last march, who also happens to be my financial adviser and travel sensei. there are countless others i’ve interacted with just in the last forty-eight hours who i didn’t meet in my hometown or college or even in the four years after college. i think to myself now, who would i be without them, had i written them off, my friend pool already nearing capacity?

i’m not sure how it came up, but my running-buddy-who-gives-me-travel-advice-and-will-someday-make-me-rich reminded me that he is going to turn forty in less than a year. he doesn’t look, or act, like an almost forty-year-old, and i thought about how despite the fact that he’s entering his fourth decade, he’s neither married nor a parent (though he still plans to be both) and has accomplished a bucket list that would make most people absurdly envious, more than envious really, maybe jealy, which will no doubt be another gem in the dictionary soon. we talked about how most people tend to fear, and not embrace, forty, and we supposed it is because many people look back at those forty years and wonder where they went and why are there so, so many things i didn’t do? while i believe that you’re never too old to do anything, it might be hard not to look at forty and think, well, with my bad back, i probably shouldn’t go bungee jumping now. but if you live life without regret up until that point, and beyond, of course, saying “yes and” as they do in improv, you instead might give forty the old “so what?” much like my friend is. he has inspired me to tell thirty (i see you, thirty-three days away, don’t think i don’t) to go hang out with forty and fifty and fuck off.

i don’t know if this post is about the value of friends or not allowing yourself to feel old or living life to the fullest or what. i guess it can be about all three, though i usually am a bit more cohesive with my posts. but sometimes one has to write and only write, without feeling the need to come to a single profound conclusion.

one more thing, however, and that’s a quote from jack kirk, who lived be one hundred and ran until he was ninety-six, and who, if he were still alive, would be celebrating birthday number 107 the same day i’ll be celebrating my thirtieth. i’m pretty sure that would be the best, weirdest birthday party of all time. he said:

you don’t stop running because you get old; you get old because you stop running.

i know, enough about running, but this quote doesn’t have to be about running. when we were children, we ran without even thinking about it, and we enjoyed it, because running meant recess and tag and getting dirty and chasing boys (or girls) and all that. it meant youth, even though we didn’t realize it at the time. it meant going up to someone you just met, tagging that person “it,” and becoming his or her friend without thinking you already had enough of those pesky friend things. it meant doing things now, not later, because as a kid you had no concept of tomorrows or consequences or what ifs. you don’t lose your youth because you get old; you get old because you let yourself lose your youth.

imma try not to get old. srsly.

squee!

kaitlin

*death cab for cutie, “stay young, go dancing”

“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

“to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance”;* and why everyone should go to a nude beach.

now that i have your attention, i’m going to ramble on for a while about everything other than nude beaches.

this was written during the early morning hours of july 21.

a year ago, almost to the day, i discontinued writing and made private my old blog, and i began this one. i had been conscious of this fact a few days ago, and i’d vowed to write on i spy’s one-year anniversary, but, naturally, i missed it. so maybe that’s why, now, instead of going to the writing, i’m letting it come to me. or, more likely, allowing it to bombard me, because it just so happens to be the middle of the night and i can’t sleep. instead of trying to find the cool side of the pillow for the twenty-eighth time, i’m going to put this second wind to good use: write and stay up until a little after three when i can eat my ramadan breakfast.

last night, after arriving in red bank via the ever-reliable new jersey transit rail system, my friend and i had dinner at the bistro and then made our way to my house around 9:30. we probably had enough energy to make a night of it, but we chose to get to bed early and be up at a reasonable hour the next morning to go to the beach. when we got to the house, my parents had friends over, and my friend and i sat around with them for a bit as they ate grapes and drank wine and listened to music. the elders stayed up later than we did, which is sad only if you don’t realize that this is standard behavior for my folks and their friends.

a year ago, this situation would have left me restless and agitated, the thought of being in bed before midnight, and before my parents, simply too much to stomach. being out and checking myself into my fourth bar of the week on foursquare (an app i like for allowing me to leave a trail of breadcrumbs and thus help me to remember the restaurants and places i’ve gone to but one that no doubts encourages socializing and tells me i’m “on fire” when i’ve beaten my previous bar record. have another, kaitlin. your friend ____ is pulling ahead) was my mo. i still love to go out and dance and occasionally get into some mischief, but instead of feeling as though it’s an obligation, a form of escapism, an act to avoid missing out and not relinquish my seat as life of the party, i’ve been going out when i genuinely want to and consequently, it seems, i’ve ended up having a better time. it doesn’t take a lot to motivate me sometimes, though. a few bars of “blurred lines” and i’m pretty much ready to go.

last weekend i got into an argument with a friend because i’ve noticed a pattern in her behavior regarding men. generally she feels content only when a member of the opposite sex is paying attention to her, even if it’s only a platonic interaction, which means that, to her, having a girls’ night sounds about as enticing as eating cockroaches. i was upset for two reasons: one, it hurts, as her friend, to feel as though she can’t enjoy herself strictly in the presence of her female friends. and two, i truly believe that happiness can be achieved only when one is content with oneself and judges oneself based on his or her self-assessment and not the assessments made by others. she also let the opinion of some girl she just met, who made a snide comment about her dress, influence how attractive she saw herself for the rest of the night. i’m just thankful that the girl had the intuition not to make that crack around me. i’m fairly confident i would have verbally ripped her to shreds for insulting my friend.

i’m a nice person. really, i swear.

i digress. i handled the situation incorrectly. if i’ve learned anything over the past year and a half, it’s that people can tell you everything you should do (and people did, with me), but none of that means a hill of beans if you don’t want to do it, aren’t ready to do it, or don’t think that you should. or, even, all three. while what i can see is my friend, a genuinely well-meaning, fun, and very attractive girl, feeling subpar for reasons i don’t think she should, she does not see it this way. she just doesn’t. and while i think i am pretty gifted in the rhetoric department, i can tell her repeatedly that she doesn’t need the validation of some dude, and she’s still not going to get it until she realizes it for herself. she may never, but i hope that isn’t the case.

it wasn’t until i thought back to saint patrick’s day 2012 that i realized my error. it was very soon after i’d broken up with my ex (and when i say soon, i mean less than two weeks), and i had gone into the city with my friends, dressed in green, my hair flat-ironed, all set to have a good time. of course, i drank too much, and there came a moment when, at tonic (please, hold in your judgment), that all my friends had been approached by guys and were talking with them. i found myself suddenly wondering if i looked ugly or fat, and while i stood there, alone, instead of trying to talk to one of the guys’ friends or mingle or go to the bathroom or do something, anything, i started to cry. this lead to me interrupting the flow of conversation the girls were having with the guys, and then my friends taking me outside the bar for a few so i could breathe and fix my makeup. i was being a selfish brat, a complete cock-blocking baby, and despite what my friends said, i felt devalued because some greened-up, shamrock-toting guy hadn’t drunkenly stumbled over to ask me if i wanted to have his leprechaun spawn. to picture myself acting out the same scene now does not compute. but it took a while for me to get here.

to say that women are the only ones who base their self-worth on the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that’s the case) would be wrong; i do think, however, that it’s more obvious because females tend to express their frustrations. i cried in the middle of that stupid, sweaty bar, but a guy probably would have held those emotions in, maybe taken a few solo shots of whiskey, and then heckled some fellow st. patty’s celebrators who were standing below the tonic balcony. man, i totally should have done that instead.

carl jung once said, “the most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” he was right; it’s far easier, and less frightening, to let other people make up their minds about you and for you to then accept what they believe as your personal credo. to know yourself, and to love who you are, is incredibly hard. to say that i’ve gotten to the peak of that climb would be inaccurate; it’s a persistence hunt, and one i don’t think ever ends. but i’m leaps, if not leaps and bounds, beyond where i used to be.

ah, now—on to the nude beach, my sandy spot of choice this past saturday.

clothing optinoalit’s hard enough taking your clothes off for one person, even if you love them and they love you back, but it takes a big set, as my mom might say, to shimmy out of your trunks in front of a beachful (not a word, but do you see me caring?) of people. when you glimpse stomachs and legs and privates in a spectrum of shapes, sizes, colors, and degrees of hairiness, and you see how confident everyone around you is (despite some pretty scary-looking shit), you can’t help but feel a bit empowered yourself. some creepy dude might call out, “nice boobs!” to you and your friend, but hey, what’s so bad about that? i don’t know if i can convince my friend to go to a nude beach—in fact, i know that i can’t—but i hope that someday she will see herself as she very well should: a sweet, generous, caring, and beautiful woman. i think that, if only figuratively, we lose the suits and simultaneously lose our tan lines at least once, maybe we can also shed some of our self-deprecation—in favor of some self-love.

*oscar wilde

on dating and deriving

it’s six p.m. on sunday night, and i’m sitting in my parents’ living room in a brown leather recliner, staring at a pile of freelance work that i’ve been poring over all day. i’ve reached that point where i’m bleary-eyed and spent, and every word i read slides by the others and gets tangled, to the point at which, as a copy editor, i start to do more harm than good. i’m editing a memoir, a pretty heavy one (and i mean heavy like marty mcfly meant heavy, not physically burdensome) and the author deserves someone who is 100-percent alert and diligent to be working on his/her manuscript. and, well, right now that person is not i.

mother nature has been eking out more minutes of daylight since december 21, but save the glow of the moon and the streetlamps and the suburban family rooms, tonight it’s still quite dark. and cold. not that i’m confused or surprised—after all, it’s january, and that’s a news flash for most facebook users who won’t stop yapping about the low temps—but all i’d like to do right now is take a long run to defrost my psyche without wiping out on a patch of black ice or slamming cartoon coyote–style into a street sign. instead i’m going to sit here and imagine myself eating ice cream. anyone who says that sad, moody girls wallow in their emotional downward spirals by lounging around eating ice cream and watching chick flicks hasn’t met me. i’m going to lounge around, wish i had ice cream but make no effort to get any, put the same death cab for cutie song on repeat, and blog with the hope that this post will alleviate some of this high school-esque angst i have.

anyway, yesterday my mom and i waited in verizon wireless for about forty-five minutes while calvin the verizon tech third-wheeled me onto my parents’ family plan and synced my old phone with the iphone 4s upgrade i bought. before doing the latter, he asked if i had backed up everything on my computer’s itunes account and i of course said, “sure,” though i couldn’t remember the last time i had done so. it turned out that the last time i had backed up everything was in october 2011, a few months before i went from being kind of normal and predictable to being whatever animal i am now.

when i got home, i plugged baby siri into my computer and attempted to sync her. i got some prompt that i naturally didn’t read carefully, and whatever option i choose caused new phone to take on the insipid personality of old phone, aka kaitlin’s iphone circa october 2011. at least ten people who i now couldn’t imagine not speaking to on a daily or weekly basis didn’t exist as far as october 2011 phone was concerned, and then heaps of old messages flooded my recent texts as if they had been sent or received within the past few hours.

it was creepy. there’s something very different about reading old texts, as opposed to other forms of written communication, or looking at other memorabilia, so to speak. they’re not often thought out, so it’s not the same as reading a diary entry or a letter or an e-mail. it’s not like looking at a photograph, which is often a posed, unnatural portrait of who we were or who we were trying to be. reading those texts was akin to looking squarely at an unabashed series of snapshots of myself as i chatted about my day and my feelings and my fears with a person who, at the time, was my best friend.

so i couldn’t help myself; i read the texts—many of them—going back as far as may 2011, until i realized that a half hour had gone by and i’d never get that half hour back. but i kept thinking, who was that person? i mean, good lord. i had left the hyphens out of e-mail and good-bye too many times to count (wordpress will probably flag this phrase as a cliché. and i’m thinking i probably could count them if i really wanted to. typing these three sentences just cost me a minute i won’t ever get back).

aside from blatantly ignoring what can only be described as egregious and despicable spelling errors i would never ignore now, i was different then in many other ways. and, as i sit here eating an imaginary frozen dessert and listening to round ten of the world’s smallest death cab for cutie playlist, i don’t know who i like better: october 2011 me or january 2013 me. i think if i asked siri she’d say it’s a toss-up, but we’re both sort of pains in the ass and for god’s sake turn off that emo hipster shit in the background.

my parents just walked through the door, my mom saying in a singsong voice that she has a sweet treat for me. hazard a guess what it is. and yes, i put peanut butter in it.

something else i found on old phone was a note i’d typed on its electronic steno pad. like much of the random crap i jot down quickly, usually at a bar or on some form of public transit, it was cryptic and vague, and it took me several minutes to recall what it was that i had thought was so critical to remember. the note, from april 2012, just before i vacated my old apartment, read:

convo in margon. plantains and rice and yucca. the logic of relationships. 8/10. your happiness versus others’.

after wracking my brain for several minutes, and thinking that the above would make for some excellent instagram hash tags, the day came back to me clearly. i had been having lunch at a cuban restaurant in the city with a friend, and we were talking about relationships, and more specifically, why people settle for mediocre ones. this friend said that relationships should be thought of in terms of probability and logic. so if you are dating someone who is an eight out of ten (ten being your ten—not the world’s ten, where someone like angelina jolie would be a ten and we normal womenfolk would hang out somewhere around a four), that the logical thing to do would be to stay with your eight. because if you drop your eight to find your ten, you’re more likely to find a bunch of threes and sixes and a lot less likely to find your perfect ten. meaning that, once you see what else is out there, that eight isn’t looking too shabby.

i’m not good with numbers in any facet of my life—figuring out the bill at a restaurant gives me agita—but i’m not at all likely to use numbers, probability or logic or statistics of any kind, when it comes my love life. you can find the person who is your ten, whether on paper or in your heart or both, and the relationship may still not work out. it may not work out with your eight, either. maybe your six is where it’s at. maybe you wouldn’t even know your ten if she or he threw up on your shoes outside a club (i’m sure a few tens have come off as twos that way). maybe some of us will feel it immediately. maybe it will take others months, or even years, to realize that the right person had been in front of them all along. maybe we’ll never find our ten or our eight or even our one. maybe we’ll be alone.

ah-ha. there’s the real fear, isn’t it?

my dad just asked my mom for more ice cream. she responded that he had already had two bowls. he said that he had had only one. they’re still going back and forth about how much ice cream my dad actually consumed, and i’m just sitting here, typing, and laughing at them, and eating my second bowl of vanilla chocolate chip swirl.

“i think i’m being bamboozled,” my dad just said.

“well, i think you’re gas-lighting me,” my mom replied.

despite their excellent vocabulary, i think they’re both acting like fours. but i have a hunch they’re each other’s tens.

after reading those old texts, after scrolling through a relationship’s high and low points, after watching as it slowly and sadly deteriorated, and after mulling over the cuban lunch conversation with my friend, i realized, as i said before, that a ten in your heart, no matter how much you want to will it to work, won’t always be worth a ten in a bush—that’s how it goes, right?—and, well, frankly, october 2011 kaitlin wasn’t anyone’s ten. and i don’t think you can be someone’s else’s ten until you see yourself as one. maybe, once you get there, well, i guess . . . we shall see. and maybe, after revisiting them one last time, i’ll have the strength to move on and delete the ghosts of texts past from my virtual icloud nine. but whether you go by the numbers or as princess jasmine once sang, that “indescribable feeling,” i hope we all find our tens.

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.