“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

Advertisements

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.

“if peeing your pants is cool, consider me miles davis.”*

kaitlin dork

this is me at age nine. also, the file name for this photo is “kaitlin dork.”

when i was a kid, i had a serious obsession with being “cool.” i don’t think i even really knew exactly what it meant to be cool, but i at least knew that whatever it was, i was not it. so i did things like buy adidas sambas and umbro shorts (even though i neither played nor liked soccer) because everyone was wearing that crap, i begged my parents for contact lenses, and i brushed out all the curls in my hair (i had/still have a theory that people with straight hair are automatically cooler than people with curly hair). i also wore baggy shirts because i thought having boobs was pretty much the most horrible thing on earth—little did i know that without boobs, the earth would implode—and i acted clownish in class, because, well, that seemed to be the cool thing to do. raising your hand a lot and acting interested was uncool. it was kind of like when lindsay lohan’s character in mean girls starts to fail her math tests on purpose so she doesn’t look like a math dork and so she can get tutored by aaron samuels. aaron. samuels.

anyway, i spent a lot of time analyzing what made cool kids cool (or so i thought) and copying the cool things they did, said, and wore, and doing things like drawing weird shit on my binders with wite-out because that’s what the cool kids did. none of these things made me cool in the slightest. then, strangely enough, someone “cool” (in quotes not because she wasn’t, but because the concept of coolness is sort of ridiculous) became my best friend. i didn’t quite know how i duped her into it—and somehow, eighteen years later, she’s still putting up with me—but around her i felt good about myself, i started to think my boobs were a superpower, and i began to forget about all that “cool” stuff. seventh grade came, as did the spice girls, skater pants, retro seventies attire, and steve madden shoes, and i pooled babysitting money to combine all that late-nineties garbage and make some interesting fashion choices. i stopped having crushes on the same three guys everyone else liked, and developed feelings for the guy who sat in front of me in science class. none of it was on purpose—it all just sort of happened—and i didn’t exactly become cool, but the level to which i gave a shit about being cool began to wane somewhat. since 1996, i think i’ve worked on this without realizing it, though at thirty, while i mostly think little of what others think of me, i am still not quite able to think nothing of it.

my boyfriend has mastered not giving a shit, and sometimes i am amazed, and also uncomfortable, at just how much he doesn’t care. this past weekend, i met his mother and sister for the first time, and we all agreed that we liked his hair shorter, à la six months to a year ago. when he came into the kitchen and i informed him that we collectively decided we preferred his old hairstyle, he shrugged, grabbed a piece of leftover steak out of the fridge, and began eating the cold meat with his hands, only a piece of saran wrap separating him from his food. he is also able to stand what i would consider awkwardly close to a group of people without talking to them or caring if they think he’s standing there like a weirdo, to hear one of his students interact with the group. i, on the other hand, feel jittery and anxious, saying, “what if they think it’s strange that we’re just standing here and not talking or introducing ourselves? should we move farther away? should we talk to them?”

the idea of social pressure is a topic he talks about a lot, and it’s something human beings respond to because they’re essentially programmed to have a response. back in the day when we lived in tiny villages, doing something socially unacceptable would get your ass kicked out in a snap, and that meant you’d not only be shunned by your entire village, but you’d be cut off from shelter, food, water, sex, and community. aka you were dead. so now, even though for most of us this isn’t a life-or-death possibility, we perceive acting outside the norm as a lot worse than it is and believe its consequences to be much more dire. only problem is that while eavesdropping on a conversation might be a little odd, the worst thing that could happen is that the alpha of the group tells you to take a picture or get the fuck out of there, and then you leave. no one took away your nourishment or your nookie. life went on. all’s well.

my problem is that i am what’s known as illogical. i understand the reasons behind various circumstances and situations, yet my visceral gut reaction is to overlook them and go with emotions instead. and that’s pretty much the reason i haven’t blogged since february 5 and why i’ve made zero progress on my book in the last two weeks. i not only allowed what someone said to get to me—i let it consume me.

this person, who is a close friend, told me that my blogs lack emotion, are self-righteous and self-absorbed and phony, and put a vibe out there that i believe that my life and how i live it are paramount, and anyone not following a similar lifestyle is wrong. the thing about those cool kids back in the day was that they didn’t care if anyone thought they were cool. and that’s why they were. and if someone challenged them, the insult or whatever it was rolled off their backs. they were confident, confident in themselves and that whatever was said about them either wasn’t true or didn’t matter, really. i am leaps more confident than i used to be, but what this friend said to me made me wonder if all those things were true. it made me question if other people believed those things too. and if to prove this person right, i stopped writing. i stopped wanting to put myself out there in any way for fear of appearing selfish or holier-than-thou. due to both weather and depression, i didn’t leave my house, lived in my sweatpants and uggs, and probably broke my record for how many days in a row i didn’t wash my hair or put my contact lenses in. i also cried a lot and deactivated my facebook account and ate nothing but clif bars and didn’t talk to anyone except the two people living down the hall, these two beings called mom and dad. even they were probably a bit scared of me, as i resembled a swamp creature more so than i resembled their daughter.

then, last weekend, i was out at a grungy alphabet city bar with a friend and a few of his friends. we were all getting to know one another, and that process usually leads to the invariable question of “what do you do for a living?” and i responded with the truth, of course, which is that i’m a freelancer and i am self-employed. i get the same follow-up questions to this answer all the time, and i got them that night. they include but are not limited to: “what kind of work do you do?” “how do you motivate yourself?” and the best one, “what made you decide to do it?” again, i was honest, and to the last question i answered that i love books and wanted to get back to really working on them in depth; i was tired of living in hoboken and being in new york every day; i was sick of meetings and e-mail and working in an office; and i wanted to be able to travel and work on my writing, something that never got enough attention when i worked at my old job in the city. i didn’t say anything else, but one of the guys i was talking to said:

“wow, way to make us all feel like assholes.”

and i thought to myself, okay, i was asked a question and i answered it honestly, and i don’t remember making a comment about the company i was keeping or anyone else, for that matter.

unfortunately, i did exactly what i shouldn’t have done, and that was to defend myself. i didn’t get worked up about it, but still i insisted that it was a choice that i made on my own, and though it’s fantastic in many ways (flexibility in hours and environment, freedom from “the grind” and commuting and office work), there are a lot of things about it that are far from glamorous, and are actually a little scary. i didn’t go into a lot of details, but i did mention that it’s not all sleeping late and fun, and many of my worries include never knowing if i’ll have enough work, being anxious about the former, dealing with getting paid late, buying my own shitty, bare-bones health insurance (which i usually end up paying for late), having to motivate myself constantly not only to work, but to network, and being away from my social circle, which includes my old coworkers. i wasn’t so much complaining about these things as stating facts, one because i knew what i was getting into when i made the decision, but two because while freelancing is the best decision for me, at least for now, it’s not without its flaws.

i also don’t think, and never have thought, that it’s for everyone. in fact, if everyone became freelancers, our world would fall apart faster than if women suddenly stopped having breasts. the world needs lawyers and teachers and doctors and insurance agents and landscapers and actors and salespeople (and of course pickups artists), but we also need storytellers and writers, those who talk about their lives not because they think they are special or unique but because they think their experiences aren’t. because they think that they’re giving a voice to groups and groups of people who share common goals and experiences, sorrows and joys, however mundane. most human experiences are. but that doesn’t mean they don’t make for good stories.

i’ll probably never completely stop caring about what other people think, especially people about whom i inherently care a lot, and i’ll probably always have the urge to defend myself. logically, i didn’t say anything to that guy in the bar about his life. i didn’t make him feel like an asshole, because no one aside from yourself can make you feel anything. if he was unhappy with his life, he was anyway, and feeling like an asshole had nothing to do with me, someone he just met and hardly knows. i’ll be honest: i’m pretty content with my life as it is now, but i’m not going to pretend it’s all cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudel. i doubt myself, i feel depressed—sometimes very much so—but one of my methods for fighting doubts and sadness is writing. so the worst thing i can do is to let what other people think affect me so negatively that i can’t, and don’t want to, use one of my most important tools for overcoming my fears and worries. i also shouldn’t let it stop me from showering. that’s kind of unfortunate for everyone.

*billy madison

“when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”*

i wrote this post on october 10 while in la fortuna, costa rica. i am now in the san josé airport, waiting to board my flight back to the states.

i am currently perched on a stool in the internet room of my hostel in la fortuna, costa rica, trying to gain some clarity through writing. i haven’t penned much of anything while traveling, save a few paragraphs on my iphone notepad that summarize only days one and two of my trip. i’m now on day ten and in my second-to-last destination. three books lie in my satchel, and i’ve started all but finished none. my two travel companions, my friend leisa, who i met just more than a year ago in amsterdam, and billy, a twenty-year-old british guy who leisa befriended in the orosi valley and who has joined us from tamarindo to monteverde to now la fortuna, have each read two and are making this former book publishing professional look like a chump. but i realized today though that maybe i needed to take a break from literature, something that has utterly consumed my life for the past seven years. that i could stand to breathe and relax and think about anything but books—at least maybe those written by others.

when i woke up this morning, leisa and billy were still asleep and i decided to screw around on my phone, which usually leads to me stumbling upon things i don’t want to see. when you date someone who has a very nontraditional career combined with a very active presence on all forms of social media, it’s not hard to 1). be curious and follow said social media sites, and 2). be upset or offended by the things on them, even if they are things of which you’re already aware. i started the day feeling as though i had been punched in the ribs, unable to breathe normally and steady my heartbeat. normally, in this kind of situation, i would throw on my mizunos and go for a run, but the idea of leaving the cozy three-person tent i was sharing with billy and leisa in order to run and make a spectacle of myself as a gringa down the one main street in this little costa rican town did not appeal to me. so instead i folded my limbs into the fetal position and waited for my tent buddies to wake up.

leisa has joked throughout this trip that i always seem to make big life decisions when i travel. it isn’t hard to see why. even when you have traveling companions, there are those moments when you have alone time, such as on a small boat sputtering across a lake, a volcano within sight and clouds so low you are nearly able to touch them, the engine and wind loud enough to make conversation difficult. all you can do then is admire the rolling green mountains and wonder where all your worries fit into such a large, beautiful world. this self-reflection, coupled with often harrowing and annoying conditions (like eleven hours of traveling by bus—well, four buses, to be exact—across bumpy, wet back country) and meeting a ton of like-minded people who aren’t letting the man get them down, tends to be inspiring.

on the third night of my trip, which also happened to be my thirtieth birthday, leisa and i each threw back two margaritas on the beach in tamarindo and i sent an e-mail to the people at mount hood, asking to be notified when registration will be open for their fifty-mile race in oregon next july. and, no, i haven’t run the new york city marathon yet and, yes, i’ve already started to consider training for an ultramarathon. on november 4 and when the mount hood folks shoot me that automated e-mail, we will see how serious i am about punishing my body in that capacity. but for now it is on my to-do list and has already been on my “before i croak” list for quite some time.

i wonder, though, if on this trip that this is the decision i was supposed to arrive at, or if this time, i’m not meant to be making big life decisions at all. i have already quit my job and moved home with my parents, begun writing a novel and started my own freelance business, trained to run a marathon, been dating and fallen for a professional dating coach who lives across the country in america’s adult playground, and made up my mind to travel and write and write about traveling, so i don’t really know what else i should add to my pile, if anything. it all seems like more than enough at the moment, thank you.

right now i should be happy and feel grateful that not only am i in a very cool place, i am with one of my best friends. and, when i return home, i don’t have to head back to a nine-to-five lifestyle (this is both scary and exhilarating). but, as leisa, billy, and i discussed last night during dinner, there are low points when you travel, just as much as there are high ones. today, instead of doing a four-hour hike up the volcano that the hostel receptionist described as “hell,” we slept late, went for breakfast and coffee, and then did pretty much nothing but lie on lounge chairs next to the pool (yes, a hostel with a pool—this is an anomaly), and talk bullshit. we may also have listened to taylor swift’s “trouble” once. i was starting to feel bad about being incredibly lazy until leisa said that in just two days we will be wishing we had time to do nothing. i had to agree.

i took a break from writing this post a few hours ago to lie down on my thin tent mattress and stare at the peaked canvas ceiling of our current dwelling for a while. leisa came in and asked if i was okay, and at the time, i wasn’t. i felt crippled, as if i couldn’t move, and i just wanted to sleep so i didn’t have to be awake and keep my thoughts on shuffle and loop. and that familiar itch, the itch to run, run away from everything and everyone, was there. for a solid few minutes i considered looking at my flight cancelation options and heading south to panamá, perú, and beyond, delaying going home or anywhere else, skipping the marathon, and throwing my phone into a volcano. of course then i remembered my two (yes, two now) upcoming trips to vegas this month and next, the marathon and the miles i’ve run and my charity and all who have generously contributed to it, the freelance jobs i have due at the end of next week, the e-mails i have been neglecting and need to answer, my family and friends . . . and the responsibilities pulled me back to reality. but i thought then, mostly with leisa’s help, really, that mount hood, at the end of next july, may be the kind of cutoff i need in my mind about where my life, my career, and my relationship are going.

“if you’re not happy with your life by then,” she said, “then you can just go. then you get on a bus. work in hostels, teach english. just go.”

my mind flashed then to facebook. to the images of weddings and children i see constantly, and i felt badly, thinking that i may not ever have those things so therefore my parents may never have grandchildren, that they will continue to watch the offspring of their friends go through these milestones while i wander. i didn’t feel badly for myself though; i felt, for the first time, acceptance. acceptance that my life may be different and solitary, even more so than it already is. i’ve thought many times that my direction may turn this way, but i always hoped, deep down, that maybe i was wrong. now, if this is my life path, so be it. i am here, ready and willing to embrace whichever way i end up going.

late july is eight months from now. a lot can happen. but if i get into mount hood and i somehow manage to run the whole damn thing, i foresee those miles sharpening the kinetic thoughts in my head, clearing paths for me. if i go home (wherever that may be at the time) and i’m not happy, i just go. get on a bus, head south (or east or west), and go.

people generally give ultimatums to others, hoping to sway them to one side. today i give one to myself for a very different reason, and i make the decision to make a decision, to be firm and to slap myself on the knuckles, to choose happiness, one way or another.

*paulo coelho, the alchemist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*william james

“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”

smell the sea and feel the sky / let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

i spy something


red, for jealousy and anger, both of which i am happy to not be experiencing at the moment.

orange, for a sunset i’m sure i’ll see tonight over riverside park in red bank. and for the sunset i saw over the hudson river in hoboken this past wednesday night.

yellow, for tennis balls and the prospect of going to the us open.

green, for precisely cut grass on baseball fields, golf courses, and suburban lawns. and for last-minute plans with new friends.

blue, for homemade birthday cards and breakfast with an old friend.

indigo, for knowing it’s okay to be sad sometimes, if you don’t let it last.

violet, for favorite colors and favorites of all kinds, and for the hottest part of the flame, the only place i’d want to be.

 

 

 

*from “into the mystic” by van morrison