If you can’t figure out who the Yoko Ono in your group is, you’re the Yoko Ono.

This post was written on Monday, April 20, 2015.

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Here’s Todd looking at the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago.

This morning when I woke up, I told my boyfriend (his name is Todd, by the way, something I’ve never actually mentioned on here): “I think I’m your Yoko Ono.”

He laughed and, because he’s not familiar with nor does he give a shit about pop culture, said, “I sort of get that reference.”

So if you, too, are a pop culture novice or abstainer, know that many fans repeatedly blamed Yoko Ono for breaking up the Beatles and negatively influencing John Lennon’s music and career. Some people, even decades after the Beatles’ dissolving and John Lennon’s death, hate her guts, and celebrities from Courtney Love to Taylor Swift have been labeled Yoko Onos after having allegedly sabotaged or muddled the careers of their former significant others.

When I don’t feel great about myself, I don’t write, and if I do, it’s slop. So, judging from the lack of posts over the last several months, things haven’t been too shiny for me in this glitzy city. When Todd was abroad working for five weeks, I squandered away an opportunity to go out, make friends and join social groups or clubs, finish my fucking book, and decrease my dependency on him, instead opting to cuddle up under my comforter like a hermit, copyediting and, only occasionally, writing some slop.

Most of my friends know what Todd does for a living. Or, more accurately, they have a fuzzy idea of what he does. I told him this morning that I can’t remember who I’ve told which snippets about our relationship and life together, because I decide what information to divulge based on my determination of how accepting—or not accepting—each person might be.

My boyfriend teaches and practices pickup, or game. The art of seduction is his passion and area of expertise, and he teaches men how to be more engaging and interesting, more sexual, more aggressive (in a non-creepy, non-molesting way), and more alpha, in order to free them from clinging to the first girl who eye-fucks them and obsessing about what to text a girl and when and how much and Wah, why doesn’t she like me? He and his coworkers see sex as necessary and nothing to be ashamed of for either sex; one-night-stands as something men and women want; and sleeping with hundreds of girls as good practice, the ultimate way to find out what you want and don’t want, and also, as pretty fun.

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Hakkasan last Saturday night.

Our relationship, it would make sense, is open. This is okay by me, because I don’t have a preference about gender, and our arrangement allows me to explore that side of myself solo or sometimes with him, without that sedimentary guilt sitting in my gut as a result. If you’ve ever cheated on someone, you know what I’m talking about.

But, of course, because he does this for a living, it’s out there. And I mean, way, way out there. Not just on his social media and his company’s website, but on his YouTube channel, which boasts videos laced with pickup concepts, theory, and in-field footage, video of my boyfriend talking to, picking up, kissing, touching, and sometimes bringing home women. One video exists in which he very clearly has sex with Not-Me in a club.

It would take a pretty secure woman to be cool with all that, right?

While my confidence has never been described as sky high, it has been pretty good since I’ve been with Todd. When you date a guy who can have a Playboy model (because he has) and yet he picks you, you do kind of feel like you’re the shit. That doesn’t mean, though, that the visceral response I get to seeing him kiss another girl—or more—ever goes away.

My version of Yokoness comes out here. My insecurities, my jealousy, my Where were you last night? or Did you fuck some girl? questions don’t really help a pickup artist want to keep doing or teaching pickup. It makes him afraid of hurting his girlfriend at every turn, and it makes him dilute what he does both when she is and is not around. If our relationship were monogamous, the red flags would be obvious.

But it’s not. And Todd has been under the impression that I’ve known for nearly two years now what he does for a job and that I accept it, and he is right to have assumed both. For a while now, though, I’ve let my evaporating self-esteem, my dependence on him, and my inability to truly be open with the people in my life about my life . . . break up the band, so to speak.

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Synonyms make me happy (the bathroom at Little City Grill, Boulder City, Nevada).

Todd also said to me this morning, “Kaitlin, one of the reasons why I’m a pretty happy guy is because I don’t have any secrets. I’ve put myself and what I do out there for everyone to see, and I couldn’t erase it now if I tried. And I don’t want to.”

A long time ago, when I cheated on someone (this blog is the honesty blog, in case you haven’t noticed), I stopped my online writing. I didn’t tell my friends what had happened, and so I stopped making an effort to hang out with them, because I felt like what I had done had been splashed across my face. That it was oozing off me. That no matter what I did or said, I was a fraud because a small part of me was hiding.

So what Todd said made me think about my life, his job, and our life, and how my tolerance—or, I guess, intolerance—impacts me. When he first told me what his job was, I confided in my mom only a few days later. I didn’t tell my dad for more than a month and a half. With other friends, I wrote e-mails instead of telling them in person. That way, I could huddle behind a virtual firewall when they told me I was crazy. When I meet new people, I usually tell them Todd is a dating coach/motivational speaker (which is, on a very basic level, true). And when they say, “Like Hitch?” I just nod and say, “Yup. You got it. Just like Hitch.”

It definitely makes things easier.

If you ask my grandmother what Todd does for a living, she’d probably just say that she still can’t believe he wore sweat pants the first time he met her. We’re going to strike her opinion from this blog.

A friend once said to me, “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway.”

I’ve thought about what some of my friends, acquaintances from high school or college, or my parents’ friends might think. My aunt in her seventies. My cousins. Anyone, really. But the thing is, if I can’t tell people what my life is like without sugarcoating it or smothering the little dirty parts, I have no business living my life, and in many ways, I haven’t been.

Maybe now I can start.

why leaving the “perfect” person isn’t crazy/why i hate love actually

i want to start this blog by saying one of my favorite words:

fuck!

one, because i haven’t written, let alone published a post in three months, and two, because this particular post has been the hardest i’ve ever had to write. it might be because i’m worried about offending people. when you set out to shit on such a gooey movie like love actually, you’re bound to infuriate pretty much everyone.

the idea for this post began two weeks ago while i was visiting my friend in orange county, california, a place where people actually say shit like right on and gnarly! and my pronunciation of the word water sorely sticks out.

wor-ter.

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this is me on the couch-bed sleeping with my friend’s dog.

i sat on her couch/my bed for the weekend and tapped a bunch of random notes on my phone’s notepad. they looked something like this:

movies, reaching for the same bottle of wine

jerry seinfeld dating himself (janeane garofalo)

relationship “résumés”

compatibility vs. boredom

eharmony

cracking knuckles

opposites attract?

and then we were sitting in a breakfast spot called the old vine café, talking about what we always talk about: relationships. we generally take a hacksaw to them and their origins, trying to figure out why most pairings slacken, the honeymoon phase is just that, and boredom can delicately wind itself into our lives in such a sickening, slow way that we don’t realize it’s there until we have been nearly strangled.

i remember a time not long ago when i had vivid daydreams in the aisles of grocery stores and subway cars, and between the shelves of bookstores. i’d think about what it would be like to meet someone in places like these. maybe we would both reach for the last unsweetened coconut almond milk. or we’d both be reading a young adult book no one else had ever heard of, our eyes catching as we finished the page we were on. or we’d simultaneously go to touch a book like goodnight moon, and the first moment we’d both had it read to us would play like a vhs tape in our heads.

i took to heart the compatibility ratings on match, okcupid, and e-harmony. and when i messaged men who i thought i couldn’t go wrong with—

he also likes tennis and lifting weights. he speaks spanish too! and, like you, he’s an only child with the same birth month!

—i took pains in writing first messages and responses, only to be disappointed many times over.

lots of women, and men, too, to be honest, live their lives as if love will—and should—be found and cultured within minutes in a modern fairy-tale setting (i.e., serendipitously in an a&p, the adult equivalent to a child finding a key to a magic kingdom in a clichéd chapter book). we also take common interests and the coincidences of having the same “favorites,” and mistake them for chemistry.

you like unsweetened coconut almond milk too?!

compatibility, sure. chemistry, not necessarily.

for the record, i learned how to crack my knuckles when i was ten because the guy i liked cracked his. i thought having this in common would make him like me. i am sad to admit this.

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in the changing room at urban outfitters

at the end of the day, you can have the same cultural background, religion, political ideology, and fiscal opinions, love red wine but hate white, and be obsessed with curb your enthusiasm, but it can still equal not right. and many people, when they realize this, are dumbfounded. their mate, on paper, is perfect for them. you’d be a 100-percent match in nearly every how compatible are you? relationship quiz in cosmo magazine. you guys just makes sense! your families get along really well! you both like parrots (for whatever reason)! you think ugly christmas sweater parties are stupid and passé! you both think using a word like passé isn’t at all pretentious! he’s a really great guy! he treats you like gold! he knows how to cook and you can’t scramble eggs!

relationships, my friend and i have hypothesized, successful ones, anyway, are less about compatibility and more about not getting bored.

so you’re all like, isn’t that uppity of you to think you know what’s a successful relationship and what isn’t!

probably. so i’ll let this quote from the huffington post online say it instead:

“a successful relationship is where the honeymoon period continues to snowball, not where the honeymoon is but a fond memory.”

one night when i was in college, i was in a car driven by our designated driver and a friend’s then-boyfriend/now husband, and we’d just left one of the two bars worth going to within a five-mile radius of our college. the girl and my other friend, plus another girl (i’ll call her acquaintance for accuracy’s sake) were also in the car, and acquaintance was knocking a girl whom a guy she liked had “chosen” instead of her when the lights had gone up after last call. she was spewing all kinds of nonsense that would have caused a person listening but who hadn’t met the target to think this girl had three eyes and the personality of a baby jellyfish. such ridicule included the following types of statements (types because i was a bit too drunk to remember specifics):

  • “but we both love the mets! she doesn’t even like baseball!”
  • “she’s cute but she’s not that cute”
  • “doesn’t she have kind of a funny-looking [insert arbitrary body part]?”
  • “and we’re both poly-sci majors!”

this rant went on for a mile or so, and while my two friends and i stuffed our mouths with quikchek sandwiches as both a method of distraction and to prevent ourselves from yelling, “shut the fuck up!” my friend’s then-boyfriend finally snapped. at a red light, he didn’t even bother to turn around. he simply said in a calm, rational voice: “do you ever think that maybe he just really likes her?”

acquaintance stopped mid-insult and unwrapped her quikchek sandwich, joining us in food shoveling and quiet reverie.

i was twenty-one. and at that time, my ideal mate would think dashboard confessional wasn’t just for moody high-schoolers; would believe the yankees, steroids and money-grubbing aside, were the greatest baseball team of all time; and would be italian and from new jersey—otherwise you just wouldn’t fuckin’ get it. i looked at guys i liked who chose girls who weren’t, in my opinion, as good of a “match” as i was, and thought, i don’t get it. we’d be perfect together.

which is also what people in failing relationships often say to themselves when seemingly they inexplicably want to leave their significant others.

i don’t get it. we’re perfect together. what’s wrong with me?

nothing is wrong with you.

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a california sunset

with regard to love actually, had i seen it when it came out, when i was twenty-one, i would have adored it. i’d have cried and found myself wishing i could fall in love with someone who couldn’t even speak my language. or someone who i’d never spoken to at all! (the prime minster and his housekeeper—really?) the only good part about the movie is emma thompson.

that’s it.

on christmas day i’ll be with my atheist boyfriend, plus his family and jewish videographer, watching home alone, actually.

“love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”*

my friend’s polish grandmother, as relayed to us, my group of college buddies, once famously said in her eastern european drawl: “monogamy: it’s not for everybody.”

and then, of course, there’s vince vaughan’s best man character in old school who shakes his head and mutters to the groom, will ferrell, on the altar: “you get one vagina for the rest of your life. real smart, frank. way to work it through.”

oh, boy. so i’m about to talk about monogamy or, more specifically, nonmonogamy (my dad suggested coining a whole new word, nonogamy, but i find this annoying to pronounce and therefore i vetoed it). if i thought my post on telling women to bring porn on first dates was bad, this might be worse. or maybe not.

i’ve been avoiding talking about this topic—even though i’ve been interested and intrigued by it for some time—not so much because i have a very definite opinion and i wish to share it and i’m worried about the backlash, but because i’m not even really sure which way i swing. cue the sexual orientation jokes.

today i was jumping rope on my deck. pre-jumping, i had cued up a handful of songs to last through about twenty minutes of exercise, songs that included such classics as “back that ass up” and “put your ass into it,” mostly for the gluteal motivation. i did add a few recently downloaded tunes (“timber” being one of them, which i’m ashamed to admit to having downloaded at all but am admitting to because i think it’s okay to listen to shitty music if it makes you go faster at whatever you’re doing). cue the sex jokes.

so “back that ass up” had me going at a decent pace, but the newer songs pumped me up more if only for the reason that they’re new. i’m not as familiar with what’s coming next. plus our bodies like new stuff. if you do the same strength-training exercises every week for a year, eventually your muscles say, “this again?” and yawn, stop responding, and stop growing. new clothes are fun too. but wash a shirt once and it’s officially yours, no longer has the department-store-fresh scent, and is bor-ing. new, fun. old, blah. me, tarzan. you, jane.

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a disgustingly rich mutt and his harem of hb’s

i once saw a commercial in which a dog wins the lottery (i know, right? they let dogs play the lottery? i was thinking the same thing), and at the end of the advertisement, the canine, some mutt, is sitting on the backseat of a limo, surrounded by three little white poodles with pink and purple bows in their fluff. you can watch it here if you like. they’re dogs, i know this, but those poodles look happy. they’re with some rich mongrel in the back of a limousine and each one is fine with not being his one and only. and of course the lottery-winning dog is thrilled; he has three bitches to pleasure him. despite my belief that monogamy isn’t the most natural thing, is there really a need to rub it in everyone’s face that men like sex and like it with multiple women and that, if able to buy sex or partners (not directly, but indirectly), they would? we figured that one out ages ago. and, by the way, that dog, on a human attractiveness scale of one to ten, would rate about a four. and previous to his winnings, he was jobless and living in a shack in the backyard, paying some fat dude rent. yet there he is, the object of affection of three hb’s (hot bitches) because now he has, and can offer, a “lifestyle.”

i stole (meaning i asked nicely if i could borrow and then horde for months) a book of my friend’s entitled the myth of monogamy. this was back in late summer, and i’m just now tackling this subject. (side note: my friend also recommended this book, sex at dawn.) anyway, myth was written by a doctor of psychology and a psychiatrist who, ironically enough, are married. there’s a really cute photo of the two of them snuggling on the back cover. kind of makes ya sick, it’s so sweet. anyway, “when it comes to mammals,” they write, “monogamy has long been known as a rarity. out of 4,000 mammal species, no more than a few dozen form reliable pair-bonds.”

then there’s talk of a few things of which i’ve already heard and one that made my brain explode:

  • “males in general—have a lower threshold for sexual excitation and a greater fondness for sexual variety, or, to look at it more negatively, a penchant for equating monogamy with monotony.” so y’all get bored easily, is that correct?
  • “if a female mammal makes a bad choice and is inseminated by an inferior male . . . she pays a substantial toll in risk as well as in lost time and energy. . . . a male mammal who makes himself available for one of many sexual dalliances has invested comparatively little.” typical.
  • there is such a thing as “sperm competition.” apparently, sperm from multiple men can compete for one egg. um. this one, i’ll admit, i didn’t know was even possible. female mammals can, essentially, load up on the sperm of multiple males if they were to engage in coitus a number of instances in a short time span. women can hope that they acquire the sperm containing the best genes. may the strongest swimmer win?
  • “what limits the reproductive success of any given male would appear to be his access to females, rather than inherent limitations of his reproductive anatomy.” in nine months of pregnancy, women can’t get more pregnant. men, on the other hand, can still, uh, go a-sperming.
  • “the potential reproductive benefit of having one or more additional sexual partners is high (if any of these ‘girlfriends’ get pregnant). . . .” so the more partners for a male, the more potential for offspring, the passing along of traits, and continuing the lineage.

okay, that’s enough biology. there are so many variations on relationships (and i mean all relationships here: heterosexual, homosexual, or otherwise). an alpha female who shares her partner with other females who purely satisfy sexual desires. or vice versa. men or women who are bisexual and have an agreement with their partners that they can either go outside the relationship solo with a same-sex partner or they can share the experience (aka a threesome. or some-other-number-some). then there are swingers. or the couples who give their partners hall passes to sleep with celebrities or some pre-agreed-upon dream screw. couples who engage in activities even my gutter brain can’t think up. then the people who just cheat/have affairs, the partner none the wiser, remaining monogamous. and finally couples who, for a lifetime, both remain monogamous.

some folks have notions about how things were “back in the day,” when chivalry ruled and the family unit was very clear. you married young, you had kids early, you lived in a house in the ’burbs, and everything was tidy. this was, though, a façade in many ways. infidelity still occurred, of course. i know for a fact that it occurred in my family long, long ago, and no, i’m not willing to say any more than that. i think it’s silly, however, to look back and think of “long, long ago” as a more simple time, and therefore simplify the relationships that existed within it. human nature isn’t so easily changed.

i will say, though, that is much harder now. we look hotter, longer. i’m not trying to be egotistical. . . . okay, yes i am, but i don’t think that i look like i’m thirty. compared to women sixty years ago, i exercise more, i have a better diet, i am more easily able to support myself financially, i haven’t popped out two or more children—let alone one—and i continue to surround myself with a lot of single, successful, smart, attractive people (that’s the reason i’m friends with you all) in an urban, vibrant environment. everywhere i look there’s stimulation. it’s a far cry from being in a house away from the city, couples and families everywhere you look, encouraging a different sort of lifestyle. neither lifestyle is wrong. but it’s a lot harder to stay loyal when temptation is perpetually in your face.

i once beat myself up for months or, let’s be honest, years, for having cheated on someone. like most of my friends, i grew up in a social environment in which a family consisted of a mother, father, and children. or in my case, child. you mated for life. it wasn’t until i went to college, and even more so in recent years, that i have seen the entire gamut of relationships, and i’ve realized just how many of the relationships i thought were solid were littered, or are still littered, with problems. i continue to feel bad about having cheated years and years ago. then, however, i was the under the impression that i was weird for having done it. that i was unusual for not liking only the person i was with at the time. that there was something wrong with me for not being able to cull sexual thoughts about anyone else. for wanting to see what it was like even just to hold hands with or kiss another person or more. should i have acted on those thoughts? maybe not. but was i wrong to have them at all? i don’t believe so.

in summation, i’m really just looking for the best sperm out there. this post was my way of holding auditions. if you find me abhorrent, your seed is not welcome here. if all this makes me cuddly and adorable, you can print your name on the next available line. the sign-up sheet will be hanging above the mailbox adjacent to my front door. i suggest coming between ten and two. high-traffic time is during a.m. and p.m. rush hour. please bring your own pen. and a one-page cv. and a clif bar.

i’m laughing. i don’t know about anyone else.

one of my friends said recently, about the no-strings thing he has going on:

“right now i’m enjoying having a relationship with someone who doesn’t expect monogamy and neither do i. the hard part is i find it . . . lacking. i miss the monogamy.”

would he miss the no-strings aspect if he were in a monogamous relationship? probably. but i’m assuming that lottery dog has a favorite poodle (i’m betting on the one with the purple bows—the other two have pink bows and are clearly inferior). we may all seek variety, excitement, newness. there is a wonderful and special something, though, about building a life with one person, a person whose food order you know by heart, a person who sets you up for the perfect “that’s what she said,” and a person whose vision of what life should be looks a lot like yours. all this as you gaze ahead at this life instead of at each other, as the famous literary headline of this post suggests. and i think you can have this whether you are monogamous or nonogamous (i’ve decided to give this term a whirl). it’s about what works for you both—what makes you both happy, the definition of which is different—well, fancy that!—for each couple.

barash and lipton write:

“to be sure, human beings can be monogamous . . . but make no mistake: it is unusual—and difficult.”

*antoine de saint-exupéry

“women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.”*

recently thoughtcatalog put up a blog post entitled “10 old-fashioned dating habits we should make cool again.” (i’d strongly recommend that you have a go at it before reading this post. also, i added the hyphen to old-fashioned. come on. proofread that shit!). i knew, without even clicking on the link, images of disney characters and rose petals frolicking in my head, that i would disagree with the majority of the list, but i read it anyway. this is probably because i’m a bit of a masochist, but more so because i smelled my post brewing.

everyone is different and expects different things from a relationship at any stage, from the first date to the proposal to makin’ babies, if applicable, but being that this is my blog (mine!), i’d like to talk about what i think of old-fashioned dating habits.

i think they’re old and out of fashion.

i’d say it’s likely that i’m destined to live somewhere only outcasts go, like under a bridge or a remote cabin or las vegas, so i don’t feel too badly about tossing some opinions out there, of which most people won’t be too fond.

my general opinion on flowers as presents has always been that they are dumb—unless, that is, they’re in a beautiful garden through which i can stroll, much like the one my mom has planted to the right of our house. i appreciate the thought behind flowers, like when they come from someone who i’ve known for a while. my ex-boss gave me flowers after i’d been in my position for a year, and that was a lovely gesture. those daisies, however, were earned. flowers on a first date? did we meet in a bar and probably not have a real conversation because that would have required screaming in the other person’s ear? are the only things you know about me the ones in my online dating profile? what did i do to deserve those flowers? oh, i have a pretty smile? i couldn’t feel more objectified. give me flowers once i’ve shown you my sparkling personality. or, you know. never.

i’m obviously assuming that these flowers are to be given from man to woman and not the other way around. i’d therefore be apt to feel pretty silly, having shown up (or, wait—he came to my door, according to cool old-fashioned dating habit number one) empty-handed. i’m for gender equality and, after all, as kristen wiig said in bridesmaids, “this is the nineties.”

“i feel as though i should be bringing the guy something in exchange,” i said to my male friend the other night while we were discussing the thoughtcatalog post. “what would you want for flowers? a subscription to maxim?”

he paused and looked up. “porn?”

ah, i see now why women don’t bring anything to a first date.

a man comes to your door to pick you up so he can make sure you don’t trip walking down your own sidewalk and are able to get into a car properly by opening and closing the door for you. i’m pretty sure the last time someone opened and closed a car door for me was after i’d been placed in a car seat, and i’m fine with having been somewhat nonverbal the last time this chivalrous event occurred. i checked, and i am quite capable of walking to a car, opening the door, and sitting on the seat all by myself. okay, so maybe the “here” text message isn’t too romantic, but how about: “hey, you, i’m outside, waiting in the car for ya, keeping it warm. :-)”? i’d take that over being extracted from my place of residence any day.

and on that note, having the door held open for me so that i can walk into a building or a room first? do i get a prize for being first? am i being put on a pedestal? i’m a person, i don’t belong on a pedestal, and i can open a door well enough on my own.

so you’re on a date. you’re wearing a nice dress. you’re sitting across from your date. you’ve been talking for an hour. you’ve had a glass of wine. the bar is dimly lit and all sorts of romantical. you’re finding your date attractive. you’re thinking, i wouldn’t hate it if he kissed me. and then, just when you think he might, he puts out his hand timidly and asks:

“is it okay if i put my hand on your thigh, on the intimate-but-not-too-invasive place just above your knee?”

well, that was clunky and awkward, akin to the ass-out hug vince vaughn describes in wedding crashers. if i don’t want you to touch my leg, i’ll find a way, quickly, to let you know as much. but don’t approach me as if you’re asking a waitress if you can sub sweet potato fries for regular, because you weren’t sure if that’d be “cool” with the kitchen? is that cool? are you positive? touch my damn leg.

the other day i was talking to a single friend of mine about her dating life, and she said she was seeing a guy, but she wasn’t feeling that into him. i asked how they met, and she gave me a rundown of their brief relationship thus far (they exchanged a few messages online and have since had a number of dates over the time period of a month) and, “of course,” she said, “typical me, i slept with him too quickly.”

i didn’t ask what “too quickly” meant, but i could gather that it meant either dates one, two, or three, because women usually think they’ve exited slut territory around date four (what the reasoning for this is, i’m not sure). i told her that she must stop, quit, cease, and desist feeling as if sex is something to give up, something women aren’t supposed to want or find enjoyable until it’s socially acceptable to want and enjoy it.

the list of ten says, “a date does not have to be a precursor for sex.”

. . .

i have already seen relationships, even the mothers of all relationships, marriages, fail because people have married the male version of their best friend, someone who shares their likes and dislikes, is caring and nice and sweet and funny, earns a good living, likes babies and animals, but isn’t—

  • the guy whose clothes they want to rip off, or
  • the guy with whom they want to stay up all night, talking about absolutely everything.

women will later cite the cause of this breakup as a lack of:

  • “connection,”
  • “passion,” and
  • “romance.”

your partner should not be one or the other—a sexual, passionate man or a reliable, wholesome nice-guy—and it’s a myth that they have to be. your partner should be both. the best friend who tells you when you have a booger in your nose and the lover who kisses you (or touches your leg) without asking, maybe so unexpectedly that you jump in your seat a tad.

sex is really fucking important. for men and women. i said it. if you don’t think of a date as a precursor for sex, why are you going on the date? i can think of a slew of ways to make new friends, but a date isn’t one of them—at least it shouldn’t be at the top of the list. i’ve had friends come out of dates, but this result certainly wasn’t intentional or planned.

the excessiveness and ostentation of engagements, showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings has hit an all-time high, and is one of those often-discussed small-talk topics that late-twenties/early thirties women bring up at dinner or drinks. it sits alongside how texting is ruining relationships and communication, why can’t we be more like canada and have free health insurance, and gosh, everyone on facebook is getting married or having a baby, and i found a gray hair and there’s a new wrinkle on my forehead. the ironic thing is that i’ve heard the same women with high-carat (not karat or carrot) rocks on their fingers poo-poo another woman who spent “too much” on her wedding. side note: i wrote high-carat because i’m not even sure what is considered a large carat diamond on an engagement ring. one carat? two? anyway . . .

when did life become so much about things? women want to be equal. they want the same pay and opportunities as men. they want the same respect. but they also want to be treated like princesses? if you want to make certain that you continue to earn less than men, keep expecting them to buy you drinks all night, bring flowers to every first date, and take you to fancy places so you can waltz your ass around.

if a man were to go on four first dates in a month, he could conceivably spend ten dollars for gas to pick up a woman (or take a cab to get her), twenty dollars (conservatively) for those damn flowers, and fifty dollars (again, conservatively) for dinner and/or drinks, bringing one date to a grand total of eighty dollars, on the low end. times four, that’s $320 a month. and then, i’m sure, if it turns into a relationship, he’s expected not just to keep the status quo, but most likely to improve upon it. shows and concerts and ballets and expensive dinners and elaborate proposals and an engagement ring worth, at the very least, three months’ salary. i make practically pebbles for the work i do and i cannot fathom spending a few k on anything, least of all a symbol for something that should not need such extravagant symbolizing.

“i’ve put dating on the back burner because i can’t afford it,” my other male friend said to me once a few years ago.

i hear ya, pal.

i went to costa rica at the beginning of october, and while i was there, i wanted to get my boyfriend a souvenir. all the usual things—t-shirts, shot glasses, and coffee—oh my god, the most incredible coffee ever—seemed ill-fitting. i’ve rarely caught him wearing a shirt containing any sort of writing; the only shot i’ve seen him take he sipped and then gave the rest to me; and he pretty much categorizes coffee as molten poison. i had my work cut out for me, until i saw the imperial beer–labeled, waterproof drawstring bag my traveling buddy was toting. i flashed to an image of my boyfriend’s suitcase, his laundry kept in one of those plastic, tall, kitchen-dwelling garbage bags, and i thought, that’s it. i made it my goal to find one of those pouchlike bags. when i finally did, i realized it was the first outright gift i’d ever bought him, even though i’ve known him since late february. i also realized that while he’s paid for flights and club covers and food, he’s never once placed a traditional (or old-fashioned, if you please) gift into my hands. i smiled. i smiled again days later when i saw him use the bag exactly as i’d intended it.

then i realized that other people probably think all this is weird—insane, even. but then i realized, oh, right! i stopped giving a shit about what other people think a long time ago.

ladies, go halfsies, i say.

or start bringing porn to your first dates. it’s only fair.

*erica jong

“a child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”*

this was written on november 2, and posted from the achilles tent, one hour before i started the 2013 ing nyc marathon on november 3.

i joked before i left for vegas on october 22 that what would happen there could end up in my blog. i was only half kidding about that at the time, but now i find myself wanting to write about the trip, though without baring the gritty details (you can ask me about those personally; and i might tell you).

but the trip, as a whole, allowed me a glimpse into what my life could be like all the time. it was a test for me to see if i could hack it as a club-going wingwoman by night and a glasses-wearing freelance copy editor for children’s books by day. somehow, i rocked both. either i have multiple personality disorder and my late-night alter ego katerina takes over once i hit up the club—i think she just made a brief appearance there—or i’m simply socially excellent and able to easily adapt to any situation. or maybe it’s a combination of both, plus the fact that the person i went to see in vegas, my boyfriend, makes me feel unreasonably (in a good way) capable of accomplishing anything i’ve envisioned. he also makes me feel comfortable with being completely myself, even those parts i never wanted to show or admit to. i was doing pretty well in this department when we met, but it never hurts to have someone in your corner; someone to go to bat for you; more sports clichés, etc., etc. right now he’s in tokyo, and virtually unreachable, and i’m set to start mile one of twenty-six tomorrow morning at 10:30. it’ll be 11:30 p.m. in japan. i told him weeks ago, however, that despite the lack of his physical presence, or even a technological one, just thinking about him gives me the energy and strength to run ten marathons.

okay, okay. sorry. i don’t usually romanticize like this (all right, maybe not so much, anyway), but right now i’m alone, sitting in the empty apartment of my friend in jersey city, my stomach absolutely jam-packed with what i’d estimate to be about a gallon of water and five pounds of food from carbo-loading, and feeling, to be honest, kind of down. when i think back to where i was a week ago, having woken up only two hours ago (it’s four p.m. in vegas), where i was going that night (marquee in the cosmopolitan), and who i was with (see above), it’s not that my life in new jersey is drab or unsatisfactory by comparison. it’s just not . . . me enough.

i watched a plane taking off from newark airport this afternoon while i was on the path. i stared up at the sky-bound vessel’s underbelly, then its tail, and finally what had become just a speck of its body, and i thought, take me with you. this from a girl who used to need practically a sedative to be on an airplane. i’d never realized, not until about two years ago, how much i hate not moving. it’s like that itch a person gets when he or she is inside on a beautiful day, the sunlight yanking on an arm like a persistent friend. come on! i feel that tug all the time now, an insatiable desire to be constantly doing, improving, to consistently be surprised, shocked, and awed. luckily, there is still a lot of world to see, still a seemingly infinite amount of people to meet and learn from, and, of course, more books than i could read in three lifetimes. but it makes me wonder: how in the shit did i ever endlessly loaf on a couch, watching tv and playing words with friends for hours and hours?

someone said to me recently, “you know, you don’t have to be so driven all the time.” ugh. wrong.

so yesterday i googled peter pan syndrome, not thinking it’s actually quite a serious thing (but if it’s on wikipedia, it has to be, right?). though it’s not formally in the dsm, some psychologists do refer to it, characterizing it as “an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level. . . . [who] leads a provisional life, due to the fear of being caught in a situation from which it might not be possible to escape. . . [who] covets independence and freedom, chafes at boundaries and limits, and tends to find any restriction intolerable.” there are books dedicated to peter pans, and other references on how to school women on avoiding and breaking their addictions to pp’s. well, too late for me with that one, but i thought then, what if i’m the female version? (is there a female version?) and what happens when you put the two of us together?

puella aeterna is a child-woman in jungian psychology, and the characteristics aren’t exactly positive. they aren’t much different from those of the male counterpart, but they include such descriptions as wanting “to be taken care of” and “led through life by the hand,” inciting the notion that there is a danger for a lady of being robbed “of every opportunity to fulfill her intellectual, creative, and professional capacity.” this must not apply to modern female peter pans from new jersey.

i hypothesize that a male and female both “suffering” (or, hello, thriving) from peter pan syndrome would make for an interesting pair. while i didn’t set foot on an airplane until i was twenty-two, i have a feeling any kid of mine will be one of the following: a). born on a plane, b). chilling on a plane as an infant, or c). conceived on a plane. the last one was just to make sure you’re paying attention. but i can see that kid, trailing behind me and toting his or her own backpack on some hike up a mountain somewhere faraway, or knowing his or her way around new york city, yammering on in more than one language, both a book of poetry and a popular mechanics magazine on his or her person. and if i have a kid who doesn’t like to move as much as i do? i’ll just have to develop extra-strong back muscles in order to carry him or her. the little one can jump off when he or she gets too big.

all these crazy thoughts are stemming from one thing that happened on my trip. for the entire week, i was thinking about—stewing over was more like it—the blog post i wrote when i was in costa rica, the one in which i gave myself a cutoff, a self-imposed ultimatum for happiness in which i’d high-tail it out of wherever i was if i wasn’t content. the post was written out of a supreme sadness, the kind stemming from feeling alone in a strange land, having just turned thirty and quit my job and wondering what the hell i was thinking. the kind in which i felt as though i needed to make a promise to myself never to let it happen again. realistically, however, i nor anyone else can make good on that promise, no matter the ultimatum, cutoff, or what have you.

so when i sat in the diner of a casino on my last day in vegas, i said something to the effect of, “i’m just not sure what i’ll do if one day i realize i can’t completely handle all this.”

the response was, not verbatim: “you say that you want to be with me forever, yet you are wondering if you’ll have to leave if you can’t completely handle everything?”

i didn’t have to think. i just answered. i said that i remembered, months ago, making a pros and cons list about the situation, only to have the items in each column cancel one another out. when it came down to it, there were two choices: you, or no you. and the choice, then, was easy. what had i meant in terms of what i’d do? i meant how will i deal with my emotions, my jealousy, however infrequent. what tools will i use to fight the tiny spots of cold dampness to realize how bright the rest of the day is. the question isn’t about being or not being with you, loving or not loving you. and it never will be.

that’s when i realized, as the words flowed out as comfortably as if i were simply saying hello to someone, that i not only love this person, but i love him unconditionally. and, well, shit. to take that one last barricade down? that’s scary. it’s also . . . perfect, however imperfect it might seem.

when i was leaving for the vegas trip, when my plane had been cleared for takeoff out of jfk, i decided to do something i’d never done before. despite having gotten very used to flying, i’ve continued to cling to the habit of shutting my eyes and not daring to look out the window until we’ve reached a comfortable cruising altitude after ascending. but last tuesday i made up my mind that i wanted to see the ground rush away from me, watch the world go from life-size to fun-size. what had used to feel like an agonizing five minutes, my eyelids scrunched shut, my palms sweating, suddenly felt like mere seconds. i watched happily—and, fine, maybe i cried a bit too—as the plane looped around the atlantic ocean, and the mid-morning sun sprinkled itself on the waves. i was still somewhat scared, but i was so glad that i hadn’t let myself miss out. so glad that, for once, like a kid, i had my eyes wide open.

*paul coelho

“worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”*

this post was written on june 14, while i was traveling to boston, and has been tweaked many times since. i’ve only recently felt like posting it.

the last time i was on a two-level bus, i was traveling from bangkok to phuket. this thought just occurred to me as i’m now sitting on a bus from new york to boston, a trip i haven’t made since november. the megabus “wifi” is put in quotes because it is, in fact, an illusion, so as of now i’m forced to think of this bus as if it’s its distant cousin in thailand, on which i’m unable to have contact with the outside world. okay, so i still have use of the 3g on my phone, but let’s keep going with this little experiment. i also haven’t used facebook in twenty-four hours, and i’m going to own this pathetic feat and see if i can do without the king of social media for an entire weekend.

i think i’m a pretty unique, superior being, but i know that one trait i share with you subhumans is that i have trouble focusing on the present. i’ll often compare current situations to past ones (both my own and the pasts of my friends or family, because that doesn’t further complicate things) or imagine what shape the future will mutate into. all this causes: worry! worrying if it’ll be the same as last time or worrying that it’ll be different but in a terrible way—of course, why picture anything fantastic? but even imagining a fantastic future, daydreamers, is dangerous. while envisioning achieving your goals is a common tactic for reaching success, i’m going to go ahead and say fuck that and fuck it this instant. i’ll often compare life to running, and i’m not planning to divert from that tactic here. i haven’t run a marathon—yet—but i think that to imagine yourself finishing your twenty-sixth mile is not nearly as important as getting through the mile you’re currently on, employing quick, measured footfalls that conserve your air and energy, empower your psyche, and protect that poor body you’re beating up.

anyway, i was talking to one of my coworkers yesterday about a situation i’m in that i cannot find a soul to talk to about because i don’t know anyone who can relate in any way to what has been launched at me. i have a pretty extensive circle of friends (you know, because i’m a unique, superior being), and normally i have at least one friend who can say, hey, i’ve been there, but this time . . . nope. i’m on my own. but i did confide in my coworker (by the way, to call her that is half correct, because she’s both my colleague and close friend), and while she sat in my shut office as i cried onto my lap, she told me this:

kaitlin, i love you, but you need to stop. you aren’t enjoying what’s going on now and in the process you are aging yourself. you are making yourself old.

i don’t know what it was it was about that word or the emphasis she put on it—old—but it stopped the crying. she went on to say that this behavior is going to keep me from doing the things i need to do that are in my survival kit. (she always has the best way of phrasing things.) the worrying will carve out the parts of my life that should be reserved for doing what keeps me at my peak and for making me the person who someone is attracted to initially. when she asked me what’s in my survival kit, i said:

  1. running
  2. writing
  3. traveling

and she added, rightfully so: family, and a few good friends who you can call anytime and say, “can we get a cup of a coffee? or take a walk? i need to talk.”

then i added: love. and she said that if i don’t stop how i’m behaving, i’m not going to make myself good for this boy. that i’m going to ruin it now because i’m worried about ruining it later on or not doing anything wrong at all and having it fall apart anyway, just because. worrying, or giving in to your fears, is a great way to set yourself up to fail and to guarantee that your greatest fears will most certainly come true.

just the other day, i was talking to that same coworker regarding my concerns about the plans i have lined up for the next few months, and about what i will do if things don’t work out. she asked me, yet again exasperated (i must do this to people often), what i would do if i were running a relay, and if one of my teammates didn’t show up to pass me the baton.

what would you do? she asked. stand there like a dumbass?

i thought briefly and didn’t say anything for a while. and then i answered, “i’d run anyway.”

and then she clapped. and said:

so when you get to the next girl, you say, “that bitch didn’t show up and give me that stick, but what up? i’m here!

what up? i’m here. hm.

so i’ve decided that while my situation isn’t ideal, at least not on the surface and to outsiders, i’m starting to think that most things in life worth holding on to with a death grip aren’t perfect. it took me years to land myself in the children’s book division of a major publisher and in the department of my choice. it’s easy for me now to look at those “before” years as a hazy clump of time, but during that epoch of kaitlin, i was beside myself, wondering when i was going to get there, get my dream job. now that i have it, i can savor it all the more because i worked my tail off to get it. and i’m pretty sure that traveling by myself, nonstop, through europe, when i hadn’t traveled anywhere, did a lot more for building myself as a person than sitting in a resort and sipping a cocktail would have. adversity creates character and gives you life experiences, and sometimes it can draw you toward just what you need, even if it’s not what you were looking for.

anyway . . . i’d imagine that for me, the right person and the right life are going to be far from boring and far from easy. i don’t want to coast. i want to drive fast sometimes, slow others, and maybe take dirt roads, back roads, and hairpin turns on occasion. i’d like to toss aside google maps and maybe, and this might be shocking, not know where i’m going. one of my frustrations in the past was the level of monotony and comfort that can form in a union or while on a life path, and incongruously, i was very uncomfortable with being comfortable.

so, as i said before, i’ve added love to my survival kit. but not just any kind. and while maybe this whole blog is a form of carrie-fying myself, quoting sex and the city isn’t something i usually like to do, even if i watched that show like a fiend (and wouldn’t ever turn off the movie if it were on tv). regardless, here:

i am someone who is looking for love. real love. ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.

if i want to keep what i’ve found—and i do, inconveniences and all—i know that i have to stop the comparisons to the past and cease worrying about a future i can’t control. not everyone’s story is the same, and my route may have a few potholes, and really, i’m okay with that. if given the choice between a root-gnarled trail and an even straightaway, i’d rather run on that perilous trail—it’s exciting, more scenic, and unleashes a feeling, deep down, of self-confidence, self-love, and pride, a sense of triumph over having conquered and taken exactly what it was that i wanted to grab—risks for rewards—even it means i might trip and fall on my face here and there, or even right at the end. it wouldn’t be the first time.

*corrie ten boom

all my friends are forward-thinking / getting hitched and quitting drinking / and i can feel them pulling away / as i’m resigned to stay the same*

back in the day, in college, when i had trouble figuring out what to write about in my supercool xanga online journal, i often went searching for old diary entries to get inspired—or simply to see what on earth was going on in my head x number of years ago to the day, or as close as possible. most of the time they were highly comical, especially the farther back i poked (think eleven-year-old kaitlin, who, you’re right, was totally weird), with my dear diaries consisting of listing who i liked and who was a “stupid butt” (i didn’t realize at the time how satisfying it would be to call someone a “fucking asshole,” as i do now) and which friend i was mad at and which one was mad at me and so on. so i decided that, instead of subjecting you to my prepubescent self, i’d see what was going on eight years ago, in may of 2005, which was the spring of my junior year of college. if i remember correctly, at that time i had been single for seven months and was seeing god only knows who, was finishing up finals, had just had my first poem published in my college’s literary magazine, and was looking forward to a summer at the jersey shore, which would include being able to drink alcohol legally, hanging out with my high school friends, and going to the beach. i had failed to get a summer internship at a publishing house (yet i’ve since wiggled my way into not one, but two houses, thank you very much, albeit years later) and i had my sights on obtaining a steady babysitting job to earn money for gas (which was just a bit more than two dollars a gallon), booze, and, well . . . i guess that’s about it.

here’s what i wrote on may 2, 2005 (also, here’s a “retro” photo of me):

so i deleted my last post because, well, i just didn’t like it.

when i was a freshman in high school there was this girl in my algebra class who had a sticker on the side of her notebook that said, “relax, you’ll get there,” and every day, i’d stare at the damn thing and think to myself, “wtf does that mean?” and then later on i thought, “well, i guess that means you have to be patient with life because eventually it all works out.” soon after i found someone with whom i had a 5 and 1/2 year relationship and was like, “well, i guess this is what i was waiting for.” five and 1/2 years later, i discovered that i had gotten pretty close, that i had been “there” for a while, but now i was back to point a, and have not recovered since b/c every time i think i’m there again, i get stuck hitchhiking miles away and “there” is only a mirage in the distance that isn’t really, which, getting to my point, is that some people just don’t make it. and i might just be one of those people.

with that, i’m going to bed early, putting my paper on the back-burner and my heart in my pocket. i’m tired of wearing it on my sleeve.

kaitlin

"retro" photo of my friend and me from april 2005

yawn. twenty-one-year-old me was so emo and dramatic. but to be honest, and i apologize to you, young adult self, although you sounded pretty juvenile, i really thought whatever you had written was going to be a lot more terrible. while i do see plenty of spots where i’d add a comma or a hyphen or, for pete’s sake, spell out “five and a half,” i didn’t express myself too differently than i do now. and i didn’t expect that. so either i was quasi mature for my age at twenty-one, or i’ve regressed to having the mindset of a college student, which would not be at all shocking.

i remember that preachy sticker very well, though. i had been fifteen and perplexed by the concepts of relaxing or getting anywhere. i was too impatient to enjoy the figurative ride, and i think, even up until a year ago, i was still too willing to rush through each fleeting phase of the life cycle. i think i’ve gotten a bit better at appreciating the minutiae as i pass the hours each day, but one recurring theme i haven’t abandoned is that i’m going to be alone. it’s what we nerdy book people would refer to in a novel as a motif.

my best male friend once told me that i’m really bad at relationships. i responded to that with “but i’ve been in only two, and they both lasted for more than five years.” to that he replied, “are you still in either of them?” and then i didn’t say anything, although i’m pretty sure i unleashed some sort of physical violence, like punching him in the arm. clearly, i missed his face.

the problem with this post is that people are going to see it as negative. i don’t. i just see my “getting there” as a bit different from other people’s, and apparently, i’ve felt this way for a long time. i used to try to force myself to believe that, for me, it meant finding the right guy and getting married and having a house and children. for everyone who has these things and is happy, i’m happy for them, and i mean that without any trace of sarcasm or condescension. and i don’t necessarily think that some part of me doesn’t want those things; but like any antihero or pathetic protagonist, i might just be incapable of obtaining them. or holding on to them. i’m not sure which. either way, i’ve come to accept, and embrace, my reality.

or, maybe more likely, i’ll read this in eight years and think, what a stupid butt i was (i predict that i’ll have stopped using both fucking and asshole by then, only because they will have gone out of fashion. stupid and butt will be all the rage. or i’ll just be old).

*from “i was once a loyal lover” by death cab for cutie