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.

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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.

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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?

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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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“i’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. i’m going to tell it the way i remember it.”*

i started this blog last night, and by started i mean that i wrote what kind of storyteller are you? at the top of an otherwise blank word document and then went to sleep. i think i was hoping that while i dreamed, a tale would manifest itself and inspiration would pelt me like an ice storm on a foul winter’s day in new jersey. it sort of did, because when i woke up and took a stroll on facebook, my former company had posted something about it being national storytelling week. it began on february 1, apparently, and i am going to guess that in the shuffle of freelancing four books in a week, working on my story and ghostwriting someone else’s, i was too busy copyediting and proofreading and writing stories to realize i was supposed to be celebrating them. so yay, stories, and all that.

a story is nothing without words, so in honor of the sum and its parts, i’m going to attempt to use the past three days’ worth of words of the day (merriam-webster sends me an e-mail with a new word daily) in this blog. usually i try to memorize and use the word i’m sent on the day of its delivery, but i’ve been really bad about completing this self-appointed task, so this is my punishment. therefore, when you read and suddenly start to think, why the fuck is she talking like that? you’ll realize, ah, she’s using one of those “words of the day.”

there was a guy in my eighth-grade english class who used to do just this sort of thing, except that he committed the same four or five words to memory and then used them all the time, in an abnormally loud voice, as a joke. the words were savvy, myriad, and a few others, and he tried to incorporate them into a sentence every time he was called on, even if the words made no sense in context. it was actually really funny, and although our teacher was probably growing tired of the gag by the end of the year, we all found our peer to be quite simpatico.

without my knowledge, i was in the perfect place last night to bask in the refulgence of national storytelling week. i went to my first toastmasters meeting in the cafeteria of riverview medical center, and if you don’t know (and i didn’t, until last week), toastmasters is a nonprofit organization that helps individuals improve their speaking, communication, and leadership skills. there’s a timekeeper, then someone who counts the number of ahs, ums uhs, likes, you knows, and all those other shitty filler words we all use, and even a grammarian, who picks apart speeches for, well, what else—grammar. i am already envisioning 1). becoming her minion or 2). stealing her job. there’s no right or wrong answer when asked why you’ve decided to join toastmasters, and you don’t have to be in any particular industry to attend a meeting or become a member. i checked it out for a variety of reasons, and i’ll be going back in two weeks.

a few people were scheduled to give speeches to work on various skills, to make them more soigné, if you please, and while we all wrote down our thoughts on tiny perforated slips of paper, one person in particular was assigned to each speaker to serve as an evaluator, i.e. someone who thoroughly critiques and gives feedback post-speech (mid-speech would be kind of cruel). toward the end of the meeting, each evaluator does his or her own five-minute set, essentially, about his or her assigned speech-giver’s speech.

my favorite speech of the night, unequivocally (not a word of the day; i just like this one), was given by an evaluator, a woman who, i believe, isn’t much older than i am and seems to be italian, used emphatic hand gestures, and kept speaking even when the timekeeper raised the red piece of paper indicating that she’d reached the five-minute mark. a few people made jokes about her long-windedness, though i had been more captivated by her speech, “too long” or not, than by any of the others, and i have to believe that everyone else had been too.

when she evaluated her speaker’s speech, she first pointed out the things she liked. the speaker had been comfortable taking the floor, his voice had been loud and clear, and he hadn’t appeared to be nervous. she admitted, however, that to be honest, she didn’t know the speaker and, if she had to give her opinion about him as a person based solely on his speech, she wouldn’t like him very much. she went on to say that his message wasn’t clear; it should be made clear at the beginning, then woven into the story, and then—clap—hammered home at the end. she essentially called his phrasing clichéd (that’s my word, not hers) and at one point she said, “that’s not how people really talk when they’re telling a story. they don’t say, she squeezed my hand and there were tears streaming down her face.”

there are two types of storytellers, she said. there’s the bedtime storyteller. the one who sounds like he or she is reading to a child from a picture book. the words are printed and there for the reciting, the story is theatrical and rehearsed. the listener is conscious of the fact that a story is being told. the story itself is technically sound, topically interesting even, flawless on paper. i’ve read books like this. ones that try so hard, they make spectacles of themselves. they use words like soigné in utter seriousness. i picture these writers sitting in hipster coffee shops on purpose, begging for inspiration, a pocket thesaurus on hand that they consult for every other word.

“gross,” she said.

no, no! backspace, backspace, backspace. let’s dress up that natural dialogue with alliteration and superfluous adverbs!

“that’s positively putrid,” she expounded.

but then there are the storytellers in whose words you lose yourself. if someone taps you on the shoulder in the middle of the story, you act as if you’re being attacked with a tire iron. you fall into rabbit holes, stumble through wardrobes, and pass out, drugged in a field of poppies. you can actually taste an everlasting gobstopper and you think frobscottle and butterbeer are real. you cry when sirius black and dumbledore die, and you cry even more when you find out that snape was a double agent all along because he loved, loved, loved harry’s mother.

when i was a kid, instead of reading to me from a picture book, my dad made up stories ad-lib about lightning bugs who fall in love, frogs who escape swamps and frolic around new york city with a little curly-haired girl named kaitlin, bears called pookies who live in trees, and talking pigs who have adventures around the world and who also, crazily enough, let that same kaitlin girl drive their car at the age of five. instead of a human imaginary friend (or no imaginary friends for those of you who had “real” companions, those of the fleshy variety), my friendship circle consisted of insects, amphibians, and both fuzzy and furless mammals.

in improv comedy, you’re given a word or a topic to say yes to. one of the biggest mistakes you can make in this type of comedy is not to accept the premise (or “reality” of the scene) or to try to be funny.

if someone says, “hey, you can’t come into my store wearing no pants!” you don’t say, “but i am wearing pants. can’t you see my blue jeans?”

you say, “yes, i can. i’m a member of the sanspants denomination of nudism and today is our sabbath.”

and the other person doesn’t respond, “there’s no such thing as sanspants.” he or she says, “oh, you guys again. you’re worse than jehovah’s witnesses.”

and so on.

one of my good friends, who is a comedian and a truly great storyteller, once told me that when he reads my writing, he feels as though he’s sitting next to me and we’re just talking. so i hope that in my book, when i’m drunk, you’re drunk. when i’m alone, you’re alone. when i’m inspired, you’re inspired. and when i’m in love, and i am, so much so, you’re in love too. but if you tell me i’m a bedtime storyteller, i’ll say “yes, and” and accept it. right after i feed your hand to a crocodile and drop a house on your sister. and your little dog, too.

*charles dickens in great expectations

“‘well, i sort of made it up,’ said pooh. ‘it isn’t brain,’ he went on humbly, ‘because you know why, rabbit; but it comes to me sometimes.'”*

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f. scott fitzgerald’s dedication in the great gatsby

for christmas this year, i gave someone what i dubbed the most self-centered gift i could ever possibly give, which was to be chosen as the person to whom i dedicate my book. my book, whether it forever stays a word document on my macbook or becomes stitched, bound, glued, covered, stamped, jacketed (and let’s hope there are some fantastical special effects on said jacket), boxed, shipped, and shelved. i gifted this present by way of an exceedingly long, handwritten letter, and i hoped that the receiver would realize just how important a gift it was, how much of an honor it is to be recognized as someone’s inspiration, or muse. the significance was more than clear to this person, and much appreciated, and i knew i had given the perfect gift, in that it was perfectly suited for this particular recipient.

it’s rare to find a book without a dedication, in fact, and the few times i’ve seen it lacking between the copyright page and first chapter have been memorably in james joyce’s novels and in children’s books that are part of a longstanding series. the author, i would surmise, by book ten knows what he or she is doing and might think handing out a tenth dedication for the same characters and setting takes away from the weight of such a profession of gratitude, as if dedicating a book to someone at that point has become akin to shooting t-shirts out of a cannon at a minor league baseball game.

the idea of dedications, and in particular, the muses that inspire them, had me wondering if muses come about naturally or if we desperately seek them, and either way, do we (and by we i mean creative types of any kind, be they artists, musicians, writers, and the like) need them.

the muses are the nine daughters of zeus and mnemosyne in greek mythology, and are the personification of knowledge and art, notably literature, dance, and music. in history, muses have mostly been the women behind the men, including ladies like zelda fitzgerald, wife of f. scott fitzgerald, and double muse pattie boyd, said to be the inspiration for george harrison’s “something” and eric clapton’s “layla,” “wonderful tonight,” and “bell bottom blues,” four songs which, you know, are just okay.

or beautiful. brilliant. although “wonderful tonight” was my junior high school prom song and has since been ruined for me as a result.

anyway, muses have journeyed down a long and winding road from being just pretty faces with botticelli bodies, and i like to think that things or places can be muses too. if new jersey wasn’t such a swampy, tragic hellhole, would bruce springsteen be bruce springsteen? i think if bruce had been sprouted in someplace sunny and lovely like san diego, he wouldn’t be as gritty, raw, or emotional. he might be, actually, the male version of katy perry.

up until recently, the array of muses i’ve had have consisted of teachers of sorts, beginning with my dad, the original and most powerful, who will never be dethroned, and who has been followed by middle-school teachers and college professors.

during my first semester of college, my rhetoric professor, an older adjunct faculty member who quit her job as a successful lawyer later in life to go into teaching, asked much more of me than any other teacher i’d had before. she assigned a five-minute speech on a controversial topic; the speech could not be memorized but had to be delivered from sparse notes on a few lined cards and needed to be free of movement behind the podium and devoid of ums, likes, uhs, and any other utterances that would add nothing but piffle to the argument.

while it might be hard to imagine that i had trouble speaking in front of people, i used to be one of those folks who would have certainly rather died than stand up in front of one person, let alone twenty-five, and talk about anything, even a topic on which i was an expert. so that fall i sat in the supposedly haunted basement of my dorm for hours, preparing, practicing, and standing behind an invisible podium with my feet shoulder-width apart (a tip from my short story professor that same semester who guaranteed this pose would not lead to swaying, weight-shifting, or any sort of distracting physical behavior like hopping around).

i desperately wanted to impress this woman, this professor, whom i admired for having had the guts to quit a high-paying, cushy job and follow her passion, and i sought, finally, to stop being afraid. after giving the speech and receiving her evaluation, all boxes in the excellent column clearly checked and a bubbled note at the bottom reading you’d make a fantastic lawyer someday, my public speaking fears vanished and have not once reappeared. i’ve googled this professor many times since 2002. i can’t find her, but my gratitude remains eternal nonetheless.

why her, though? i don’t doubt that i had it in me for years to go on a solo mission to get over this fear. i was more than capable. what was it about her? what was it about my fifth-grade english teacher that got me absolutely hooked on properly punctuating sentences and declining verbs, nouns, and adjectives? or my sixth-grade spanish teacher who somehow communicated to me without saying so that spanish, not french (though i really liked my french teacher as well), was the language i must learn, that somehow, even eighteen years later, i would still be using it—to work on spanish children’s books, write letters to the child i sponsor in ecuador, communicate with locals when i travel, or practice the language with my boyfriend, whose father taught it to him. then there’s my sixth-grade english teacher who put a one-sentence mark twain quote on the board about the difference between the right word and the wrong word, the teacher who made me realize that no matter what else i ever did, it would always, always be writing and i.

we creative fools are often a self-loathing bunch, our biggest doubters and critics, even if we’re exceptionally talented. one of my best male friends asked me a few days ago why i love my boyfriend, and one of the first things i said was that he inspires me. he encourages my writing, and he tells anyone who will listen to look out, because one day i’ll have my name slapped on the cover of a bestselling book. i’ve written more in the ten months i’ve known him than i have in ten years, even those few semesters in college when i was so emotional, poetry practically bled out of my fingers. to this my friend said:

“there’s about 2/3 of that first part that i hope you realize is all you and has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you and how awesome kaitlin is, boyfriend, girlfriend, or no.”

it is, to date, one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. but while those qualities have most likely always been there (i mean, i hope they have been—i’m not saying my boyfriend is a magician, jeez), maybe they needed to be mined by the person with just the right ability, strength, and set of tools. and just as i didn’t choose those teachers as muses any more than they chose me, it was them, and no one else, coupled with the kind of chemistry you can’t seek out, manufacture, or wait for, who i needed. if it makes me weak to admit i’ve required, and sometimes continue to require, the push i haven’t quite been able to give myself, then call me as such. i have a feeling that someday, even just to one person, i’ll return the favor.

my boyfriend and i both remember being, on our first date, the wittiest and most clever we’d ever been. and even now, nearly a year later, i’ll often open my mouth and speak, and out something tumbles, to which he’ll say:

“write that down.”

three of the nicest words in succession any writer can hear. i doubt i’ll ever tire of them.

*a. a. milne from the house on pooh corner, in which pooh is inspired to write a song after seeing tigger in the woods

“nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.”*

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the lobby at the wynn around 5:30 a.m. because it’s pretty and i’m tired.

this post was written on november 27 on three hours of sleep.

so yesterday i six-degrees-of-kevin-baconed myself via google out of curiosity and to see just what kind of public virtual trail i leave. while a lot of people are afraid of the internet—a fair amount friends and family members weren’t on board with donating to my marathon charity via the web, for example—i’ve given up trying to control it, and instead i’ve embraced it. when facebook first unleashed timeline and nearly everyone i knew groaned about having all content from 2004 and beyond visible to six hundred of their closest friends, i honestly didn’t mind so much. as someone who kept a handwritten diary for thirteen years and the adult version of a diary (the blog or, back in the day, my supercool xanga online journal) for nine, i saw facebook’s timeline as another way to look back on my life and its events, my interactions, and of course, my slightly idiotic musings about mundane occurrences. or grammar. i have no illusions about the fact that i can be an obnoxious over-poster, something i used to feel guilty about in this increasingly me, me, me world, or i guess the i, i, i world of iphone, ipod, ipad, and imac. but i’ve realized that, more than anyone or anything, me is what i know best. so i might as well cover the topic thoroughly.

the web i’ve woven is complex but not too difficult to pull apart with a bit of elbow grease. when facebook changed its default posting audience to public (the company loves doing that sort of thing and not telling you about it) and i didn’t realize it, i posted a blog about why i quit my job to not just my friends, but to everyone. the next day the head of my (former) department told me she liked my blog. we aren’t friends on facebook, and when i asked how she found my post, she said a coworker sent the link to her. i wasn’t friends with him, either. to be honest, the situation alarmed me at the start. then i discovered the status update with the blog post link had been set to public. and then i checked my wordpress stats to see that in two days more than five hundred people had looked at that particular post. my best day previously was a pathetic sixty views. . . . i’ve been keeping all my posts public since.

this increase in transparency comes with a price, i suppose, because if you can find my facebook account, you can most certainly find my blog. the blog links even the most lightweight stalker to my linkedin, instagram, twitter, foursquare, and pinterest pages, all of which contain both my given and surnames. google me and you’ll see that i write for my local community newspaper, raised money for and ran the nyc marathon, and am a member of the new jersey state golf association’s caddie alumni committee (that one is certainly a head-scratcher if you don’t know me).

when i began blogging, my site wasn’t private, but by no means did i publicize it. it wasn’t until july 2012 that i abandoned that blog, and it was almost exactly a year ago that i began linking the new one to facebook and twitter. there was only one reason for that: i wanted, and still want, to write and publish a book—about what else? my favorite topic: me. i know that many of my friends see this as narcissistic and self-promoting, and i’ve often heard, even from people i know well: “you have a blog, huh? you and everyone else.” but i don’t sit here and think, how can i make myself sound good or look good? i’m thinking more along the lines of can i be okay with admitting and detailing a deep personal problem or flaw or emotional issue? and not just launching it into the abyss of the internet or into the in-boxes of my parents and best friends but to my extended family, friends of my parents, former teachers and coworkers, clients, and the like? do my middle-school spanish teacher (hola, señora) and seventy-two-year-old aunt really need to know about my dating life and drunken mishaps?

maybe not. but the beauty of good writing is that it knows no boundaries. anyone from co-eds to grandmas read 50 shades of grey, after all. two of my biggest triumphs, in terms of crossing boundaries, have been 1). when a girl i went to high school with followed me on twitter after having unfriended me, refriended me, and unfriended me a second time on facebook (she’s clearly not a fan), and 2). when a guy who once called me a lying cunt told me my posts were brutally honest and therapeutic for him. when even your enemies can’t help but be interested (or, okay, maybe just nosy) about your life? excuse the hash tag but . . . #winning.

i have written 32,000 words of my book, which, according to the huffington post and amazon, is about halfway to the total word count of brave new world, the median (i haven’t used that word since high school math) of book lengths. the closer i get to writing a pitch and a query letter, researching agents, and approaching my buddies in book publishing, the more holy shit it all becomes. i think about authors like chelsea handler or tucker max and the contents of their books and wonder about their thought processes. did chelsea tell her family to do themselves a solid and not read her book? did tucker max say, hey, mom, unless you like explosive anal sex and graphic details of sushi-and-alcohol-filled vomit, don’t go past the dedication? okay, i’m not that scandalous, but i’m going to include, and have already penned, moments of humiliation as well as incidents that don’t, in any way, paint me in a positive light. in fact, they might even blur the line between hero and villain. thus, the blog: my method to slowly warm myself up to the idea that the world could someday see the raw, unabashed version of me.

the reason i’ve been thinking about this is because recently someone i don’t know somehow stumbled upon my blog and therefore my linkedin page and, i’m guessing, the rest of the social media sites on which i prostitute myself. after getting to know me on the web, this person said that he/she feels sorry for me. (don’t ask how i know any of this; it’s so unbelievably convoluted and ridiculous that i don’t want to get into it). this began my research into my online presence: looking at the public version of my facebook page, googling myself, and seeing just how much i refer one site to the next on each platform, how i weave an intricate series of online stiches. i wanted to see what everyone else sees, if they care to look. and the fear i’ve been having recently, about what it will be like to put an uncensored version of my life in print, about what it is already like and will continue to be like to have a boyfriend with a very public presence and a following that is consistently growing, was overwhelming.

but then, when i took in my online persona (which is, shockingly, akin to my real self, scout’s honor), i realized what a well-rounded little nugget i am. i have a great relationship with my parents, i have a ton of friends, i’m a good writer, i’ve worked for two of the biggest publishers in the world, i started my own business, i’ve traveled alone and often, i’ve run a marathon, and i’m kind of cute in a childlike, garden gnome type of way (not my words). and now, instead of sitting behind a desk, about to call it quits, i’m in las vegas, typing this blog, knowing that i can go for a run in the middle of the day, do my work at three a.m., or hop on a plane, a train, or a bus to meet my boyfriend or my friends in various cities around the country pretty much when i want, depending on the proximity of a mail center (those kiddie books have to get back to new york city somehow).

last night i was in a club in the bellagio, feeling slightly out of state (that’s the pickup artist term for not feeling in the zone or in a place of ease, playfulness, and diversion), and i took a minute to shut my eyes and really concentrate on where i was and what i was doing. the bass thumped in my eardrums, my boyfriend’s arm snaked around my waist, and i thought, i’m lucky. and i’m having more fun than i’ve ever had in my entire life.

sorry for me? hm.

and then i saw this quote from *chuck palahniuk and decided that it needed to be my headline. scroll up, and enjoy.

“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