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

Graffiti in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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

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

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

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

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

The sun rises over Vegas yet again.

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

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

She was crazy. And terribly impatient.

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

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

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

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

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

*Martin Amis

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“first you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”*

Alcohol-and-health_2there’s an early episode of friends in which monica dates a guy who she and the gang refer to as fun bobby. fun bobby is the shit. he’s always up for debauchery and he’s just brimming with jokes and entertaining stories. but once everyone discovers the secret of fun bobby’s fun (booze—good old bob is an alkie!), monica convinces him to stop sucking down the liquor. long story short, fun bobby minus booze equals just bobby, the antithesis of divertissement, and monica drops him.

i have a legitimate fear of being just kaitlin.

up until about a month ago, i lived in hoboken, new jersey, which, at one point, held the guinness record for the most bars in a square mile. maybe it still does. i refuse to look. regardless, if you like taking shots on a tuesday night at seven p.m., hoboken’s your spot. last year, around this time, that was me. once, and admitting this makes me cringe, my dodgeball team and i barely made it to our game because we’d happy hour’d a bit too hard. there are six balls in play on a court during a typical dodgeball game, yet i saw twelve. last year my friends and i ran a two-mile fun run on one of the hottest days on record in july, and after a night of drinking, i wiped out and tore up my leg (to the extent that emt’s had to aid me) because i tripped on the sidewalk. yeah, the walk was uneven, but i was also hung over and beyond dehydrated from friday night’s festivities. sober footing would have led to surer steps, for certain. when my friends and i look back at this nonsense (and these are just two examples), we reminisce as if these episodes are beyond hilarious, and while they are kind of funny, they’re funny partly because i happen to get myself into these situations quite a bit. so it becomes one of those “that’s kaitlin!” moments where we can think of me as more of a cartoon character than a real person. the other reason is because we were all in it together—we boozers like company because it validates our choices and decisions, however poor, and it’s easier to laugh at it all than say, “maybe that was . . . uh, dumb?”

drinking is a culture, a pastime, an event, an identity. famous authors, musicians, poets, actors, and the like are known for their affection for liquor (some even have a signature drink—johnny cash liked anything with bourbon [by the way, when i googled johnny’s favorite drink to confirm it was bourbon, the question “did johnny cash drink?” was a suggested search. did someone really have to look that up? really?]) and have been quoted praising the stuff (think ogden nash’s “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” quip).

part of the reason i moved home (i haven’t really addressed this yet, but i will another time), is because i could not keep up financially or physically in hoboken. daily bar tabs of twenty, thirty bucks add up fast and when you’re paying a fortune for rent and making nah so mahch mahney in the publishing industry, plastic and denial become your best friends, and keeping up with everyone else becomes paramount. i found myself constantly feeling fuzzy-brained and generally dissatisfied with myself and my life—which is not shocking, as alcohol is a depressant—and i couldn’t and didn’t want to run after a night out, and eating something healthful like veggies was unheard of. pizza, some egg-filled cheesy brunch (where’d i’d usually have some breakfasty cocktail), and stuffing my face with cereal or peanut butter late at night made up my diet. i haven’t been drinking much lately (i am trying to train for a marathon, after all), but i drank what now, for me, is a lot, this past saturday night. i had a great time (from what i remember), but i felt like a worthless slug on sunday. i didn’t want to run or read or freelance or write or do anything productive. i wanted to listen to coldplay and eat honey bunches of oats with chocolate almond milk and sit on my ass. that one night of drinking led to a shitty sunday and a shitty start to my week, and i’ve kind of had enough. but . . .

and this is going to sound terrible—do i lose part of my identity without alcohol? sober just kaitlin will shake what her mama gave her a bit when she’s out, but drunk fun kaitlin will get low (i actually told my friends on saturday that i’d consider it a good night only if my quads hurt on sunday from doing such a thing). sylvia plath wrote this in the bell jar about my liquor of choice (dare i say vodka with club soda is my signature drink?), and i feel like interjecting it here:

“i began to think vodka was my drink at last. it didn’t taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallowers’ sword and made me feel powerful and godlike.”

so i wonder: will i be just as much fun without booze? will i feel as confident? will my friends do that thing i’ve done, unwittingly, and ask, “you’re not drinking? how come?” as if avoiding liquor means you must be coming down with something contagious (like being lame).

my pop pop (yep, the same one who flew his plane under bridges and ate stuff off the ground and smoked) used to always say the phrase “your body is a temple.” until recently, i had treated mine like one of new jersey’s finest landfills. and if you’re wondering (as i was) what it takes to cut the size of a landfill, read this. so while pop didn’t always do as he said and just did what he pleased, his heart was in the right place. we get one body, and we should treat it with this in mind.

i have my work cut out for me. but if i want my skin to glow and my hair not to feel like straw and i want to be able to bust out at least twenty miles a week and generally, to feel more whole, happier, and like a functioning member of the human race, i have to nix the booze or at least cut back a lot, even more than i already have. i think i can make an exception for wine, to deal with my extended family at various functions. anyway, i just hope fun kaitlin sticks around. or that just kaitlin doesn’t suck. if only for the stories.

*f. scott fitzgerald