A Blog of Appreciation for All the Men Who Came Before

lifeOver the past decade or so, I have dated my fair share of *ssholes  plus a couple of decent ones thrown into the mix for a little variety.  These men (for lack of a better word) have called off dates via text message as I am walking into the restaurant they chose…then do it again the week after; they have left after twenty-minutes of nonstop chatter about themselves (and you know it is bad if I can’t get a word in) because they just “didn’t feel a connection” (maybe douche faces read minds and heard me making grocery lists in my head); they have miraculously found a number I never gave them and called every thirty minutes for a week.  To these men, I say: “Job well done!”  You, gentlemen, have prepared me for the world of dating in New York City.

Okay, not everyone sucks that much, but sorting through vast fields of weeds is a difficult task.  It takes about five minutes to discern tell-tale sleeze traits and run…finding someone semi-decent, however, is an entirely different matter.  Luckily, I dated one such fellow for 2 1/2 years–long enough to learn I am a damn trophy and should be treated as such.  Reminding me of this fact throughout the day benefits everyone in the vicinity.  Our time together was substantial, but not so lengthy that I grew entirely dependent on him.  At the ripe old age of thirty, my (now) ex threw me back into the city alone (I like to think he was picturing the last 8 seconds of the opening credits for The Mary Tyler Moore Show: “You’re gonna make it after all….(hat soars through the air).”  Actually, I would bet money on that assumption.

Thanks to previously mentioned ex and our shared love for Nick at Night, I was able to recognize a pattern of undesirable behavior with my next relationship and end things rather quickly…temper tantrums are not attractive on little children and are revolting on grown men in their forties. However, I still appreciate his childish behavior because I learned:

MATURITY AND AGE DON’T ALWAYS GO HAND-IN-HAND.

So, what does that mean for Kaitlin?  It was time to try dating men born after the 1970’s again.  For the first time in 3 1/2 years, I sought out men only slightly older than me…well, I don’t really seek them, but I allowed them to approach and was open to the idea that there may be some sort of mystical species of men in their early to mid thirties with the same traits once believed to exist soley in divorced 40-somethings.  Who could have imagined this insane theory proved to be true…they are few in number but it gives a girl hope for future generations (the magical thought of bro-culture dwindling until it is merely urban legend gives me goosebumps).

So, once again, I must express my gratitude to all the men from my past:  the short subway groper and his rub/grind pal who sandwiched me on a particularly crowded C train on the West Side, the date that stole money from my purse while I was in the bathroom, the New York Times photojournalist who continued to mispell my name two months into the relationship, the tall one I loved, the one close to my age who makes me laugh so hard I throw out my back and gained my trust in record time.

The Ravioli Experience

IMG_0601Last weekend I joined Paul, a guy I have been seeing, at his house in Bloomfield, New Jersey for a mini break.  Over the past few weeks, Paul has broken me out of a steel-enforced bubble of misery so I generally agree with his activity suggestions.  His latest idea: making homemade ravioli …the pasta, the fillings, the sauce–from scratch.  It was a very exciting idea…we had no idea what we were getting into.

I am a huge believer in learning new activities with the person you are seeing. Hands-on projects such as cooking require teamwork and test a couple’s communication and problem-solving skills, pointing to areas that you may want to address and resolve.  Dealing with communication gaps early on is key in preventing major conflict down the road.

Back to ravioli…

We had a rolling pin and a ravioli cutter.  Paul, being a carnivore, wanted a beef and pork combo for his filling, while I chose the often overlooked, yet crazy delicious pumpkin for my pasta.

meat processing, dough, old man face in dough, pumpkin on the skillet

meat processing in the Ninja, dough, old man face in dough, pumpkin mixture on the skillet

Making the pasta was surprisingly easy, although we underestimated how much we would need considering the mass quantity of meat Paul prepared…we waay underestimated it. Using only a Ninja food processor, skillet, large cooking pot, rolling pin, ravioli cutter, and a handful of ingredients, we managed to make 88 (yes eighty-eight!) pieces of ravioli in only SIX hours: 27 pumpkin and 61 meat.  Paul even cooked some cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic for a sauce-alternative. (highly recommended…we agreed they were the best part of the meal)

cooking the meat, punching out the ravioli, cooking tomatoes...6 hours later

Paul cooking the meat, punching out the ravioli, cooking tomatoes…6 hours later (I did do a lot of the work as well, but Paul did not document my accomplishments because he doesn’t have a blog to write.

So how during this 6 hour self-taught course on making fresh pasta did we manage to pass the time?…

We watched

We watched “Silver Linings Playbook” on my computer

wondered when Delilah would give up waiting for scraps to fall

We wondered when Delilah would give up waiting for scraps to fall

Paul ate yogurt to tide him over while we made more a second batch of pasta

Paul ate yogurt to tide him over as we started a second batch of pasta

By the time our “fun” project was cooked and the other eighty pieces frozen, I had lost my appetite and was pissed the entire day had been spent in a hot kitchen…the same day the house’s central air conditioner decided to die.  However, watching Silver Linings Playbook for the tenth time on my computer forced me to find our silver linings:

  • we learned we can plan and execute a project as a team
  • we can make lots of objects with raw pasta dough
  • we bickered for the first time and got over it
  • Paul looks even more adorable in the kitchen…I didn’t even mind the lack of a/c at times

And by the way, the ravioli was delicious.  I do suggest, however, making a smaller batch.

beef left, pumpkin right

beef left, pumpkin right

****all recipes can be credited to Paul’s gastronomic experiments and the google search I performed

Being My Sister’s Sister

I am the youngest of three and while my brother moved out when I was almost nine, my sister and I are only a year apart–she got seventeen years of uninterrupted Kaitlin action, lucky b*tch.

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me (3), my brother (13), my sister (4)–our driveway in Los Angeles

From the start, Becky and I were complete opposites.  My sister is a total extrovert: she’s always been a social butterfly, eager to meet new people, and had more friends than I have ever been able to keep track of.  I didn’t speak in public until I was 6, “afflicted” with a form of childhood anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. Making friends has always been difficult and I was terrified of being bullied or looking foolish so I tried to be invisible for most of my life…occassionally, I still do.  Watching her thrive socially was a form of silent torture for me–I simply could not understand why I was not gifted with the same talent as her or why she didn’t want me to hang out with her friends.  I guess no one wants their younger sibling hanging around.

In our backyard in Arizona

me (5), my sister (6)–our backyard in Arizona

My parents focused on my sister’s sports and forced me to tag along because I was too young to be left alone.  I was given craft supplies and would draw, write, or make friendship bracelets for my negative number of friends during her practices and matches.  I was praised for high grades and sent to piano camp.  My parents loved me as much, but I was their sweet, quiet, smart, creative daughter.  They didn’t think to focus on me because I never demanded their attention…I aimed to please, even if it meant I had to sit on the sideline and watch.

Our lives took final, radically opposite turns when we moved again (the fourth move in my 14 years, a fifth move for her) to a city in the deep South.  I was unable to make friends at the public high school and moved to an academically rigorous private one.  Becky embraced the culture surrounding us and now has an extreme Southern drawl; I focused on academics and the arts and have no accent (I do say “oy vey” every other sentence, however).  She is a special education teacher and lives in Mississippi with her army-recruiter/Iraq War veteran husband (they met when she was 19) and their two kids; I have lived in New York for eleven years.

Becky and me holding my niece

Becky and me holding my niece

My sissy has been shorter than me since we were 10 and 11; her appearance favors my father’s side and I look…well, adopted (I’m not).  We see one another only a few times a year yet maintain our ESP tendencies and even call at the same time (I have picked up the phone with a sudden urge to speak to my sister and found her already on the line).  She still feels maternal towards me…I was her favorite toy when I came home from the hospital and she was still in diapers, herself.  Always my biggest critic, my loudest cheerleader, and my strongest defender (only she was allowed to pick on me…sisterly affection, of course).  She has been my best friend for thirty years.  There is too much to say…maybe I will share a story another time.

Becky, I love you.

From Over 10 Years Ago…

sostupid

Most people follow passions in life because they absolutely must. Writing about my life…the excess of emotion…is the one thing I keep going back to. I’m just more comfortable silent, words screaming out from ink seeping through the fibers of my journals, text on screen. I’m a singer, but I prefer to express myself in silence. I like to narrate from the page like my favorite writers, only less talented. So, her we go again (I wrote this over a decade ago when I was naive and thought I knew everything):

Sometimes he comes to me in my sleep. He haunts my dreams and guides my waking thoughts. When I miss him, he finds me…he was always smart that way. He is the person I talk about most and the only one most don’t know. At this point, there is only one other girl who knew him before it was cool. He is my secret.

Dear Love,

I hope you are doing well. I am finally coming out from under your spell. You remain the secret I will never tell.

Dear Love,

You say I only loved you when I was bored. You were the only person who ever left me wanting more. Your love is something I will never forgive your for.

Dear Love,

You once told me to never say “goodbye.” That one statement is the reason I have been left questioning, “why?” The claim you wouldn’t treat me like some normal, asshole guy…

Dear Love,

I don’t love you anymore.

I am exhausted, I miss you, I am still up all night writing. I was always a writer, but only recently an exhibitionist. Losing you taught me to stop judging my “pen” babies.

The Genetic Lottery

So, I was working all night on today’s blog and decided to save that for another day after my Facebook break:

A young woman in one of my arthritis groups shared a picture of her psoriatic arthritis flare…with the caption “how will I ever find a husband looking like this?” …and it totally broke my heart because I totally understand.

FullSizeRender-3A year ago, my hands still looked normal…and now I am p*ssed that my new hands didn’t come with magical witching powers. I used to wear a ring on every finger and I have cut down by at least 5 rings. In honest truth, I hide my hands as much as possible because I don’t identify with them anymore. I went from having long slender fingers to bent up witch spellcasters. When you are thirty and have eighty-five year old hands, it is a very sobering, disturbing experience.

In the end, my advice to ALL women regardless of ability or disability, appearance, education, and background: anyone worth having will see your personal worth before anything else…any “flaws” you see are just filters. The right person will find you in the end.

I have a giant facial scar from a steam burn last fall, my hands are disfigured from RA, I have surgery scars, I walk with a cane sometimes…social awareness and one’s mind are way sexier than the pinky finger of the world’s most successful hand model.

Just do you…and proudly.

God Help the Golden Child

IMG_1732Family visits are stressful beyond comprehension.  I always walk into the situation assuming everything is going to be super, but as the days roll on and I am increasingly cut off from the outside world, I start to lose faith in my intuition.

I seriously love my family, but when I scrutinize my parents’ and siblings’ scrutiny of me, I can almost hear their minds questioning, “What happened to the golden child?”  As I meticulously scan the memories I’ve retained between six days after my first birthday to the present, a fog develops….it thickens as I note the misjudged forks in the road, opportunities I morally objected to, spontaneous acts of rebellion which continue to haunt me nearly a decade later, and, eventually, the incurable illness and medications that now reign my existence.  Looking in the mirror, I no longer give credence to the description of anyone as a golden child.IMG_0533

My parents never worried about my academic future.  I graduated from a top private school with a 4.357 GPA and chose one of the top performing arts colleges in the world.  But all the grades, academic and extra curricular accolades, and attempts at being my own person without becoming an outcast did me no favors.  I slipped further and further into a cyclone of self-hatred, social isolation, and a black hole of negative self-image when I was passed over time and again for so many things throughout my education and my earlier careers–despite seniority or talent.  Because (Hello!?!?) I was the golden child.  No need for worry…I would certainly sort it out.

But…the golden child occasionally fumbles.  So used to my perfection, my family assumed the people I allowed in my life were good people…I mean, they had to be: perfection seeks out perfection…yet the desire for perfection and my internal struggles with identity have been my biggest hurdles…you see:

  • Being aloof makes me a “b*tch”
  • Talking too much makes me a “know-it-all” or “nonsensical”
  • Losing strength and falling without the ability to stand up in Rite Aid automatically means I am drunk…as does “chemo fog” when I cannot remember where I am or what I am doing–both are medically related to my progressive Rheumatoid Arthritis.

I found my prince….twice, but neither deserved me: the first was the friend I desperately needed until he disappeared and the other had the misconception perfection exists.

IMG_1651For 2 1/2 weeks, I stayed with my mother and our dogs and cat in her house because, despite the anxiety it creates, there is nothing I could ever do or say that my mother would find so appalling she would not continue to love me.  She cries with me when my body hates me (and I hate it) and searches for disability-friendly jobs.  She researches and supports holistic and western medical solutions.  She has been, and always will be, my unwavering source of strength.

I have moved past certain close family members never reaching out (even when they visit New York without telling me)…I guess I didn’t make the cut once my golden luster faded.  I have moved past the friends who stopped speaking to me when they moved, when I went on chemotherapy drugs, and when they first saw me with a cane.  I have lost way more than their company and could not care less.

When almost every single thing I value in my life disappears, I run “home” to see the family that loves me in a city I have never lived in…because I need to spread out, to juice, to hug and love on my pets and niece and nephew, and (at 30 years old), occasionally crawl in bed with my mom to hear her hum in her sleep.