Posted by: katielady123 | September 12, 2013

Not Your Grandmother’s Blog Post

Tomorrow, September 13th, it will be fifteen years since my grandmother died. Fifteen years. That is such a long time. The last time I saw her, she was in a hospice but ever in good spirits. I was almost 23 and had just landed my first real post college job. Up until that point, I had been babysitting and delaying adulthood as best I could. I told my grandmother that day that I had gotten a job and she clapped her hands, smiled and said, “I can die happy!” And that, in a nutshell, was my grandmother. She never seemed scared to die, or of anything for that matter. I honestly don’t think she was. She told me there were clothes in her closet that might fit me and that I shouldn’t be “afraid to wear a dead person’s clothes.” But I would never have felt that way. She wasn’t a dead person, she was my grandmother. And at that moment, she was very much alive. She was sharing her room with another elderly lady. She told me a little sadly that the two of them should be the best of friends by now, except that the other woman was quite deaf.

One of my favorite things about my grandmother was how much she loved me, pure and simple. She called me “number one girl” because I was her first granddaughter (and in fact, her first grandchild). She thought everything I did was amazing. She made little things fun for me, like when I was little and would help her in the kitchen. She would peel apples and hang the long spiraly peels on my ears and then say how lovely my earrings were. I would giggle and try to peel apples like her, but my peels always broke.

Fifteen years is a long time. In just another few years she will have been gone longer than I had her in my life. I can’t remember what it was like to take for granted she was there. To answer the phone and hear her voice say “Katrina!” which of course, is the Italian version of my name. I remember her laugh, her positive outlook on life. I remember her cooking (how I wish I could have a big plate of her risotto and a bowl of her lentil soup!) But it’s getting really hard to remember what it felt like not to think of her as “a dead person”. I always thought losing someone would hurt less as time passed but time keeps pushing her further away from me.

I often wonder what she would think of the woman I’ve become. I worry that she would be disappointed that I am not married and don’t have any little “bambinos” yet. I had told her I wanted to wear her wedding dress someday when I got married. But damn it, she was supposed to BE at my wedding.

I worry that she wouldn’t like some of the choices I’ve made. Sometimes I’m ok with that. Like how she hated when I wore dark nail polish because it didn’t “look natural”. That was an area we would’ve had to agree to disagree on. But sometimes I try to see myself through her eyes and I think, I could’ve done better, held myself to higher standards, been braver. Always braver. That was her secret and I never had a chance to learn it from her. For her, life was an adventure. She took pleasure in the littlest things. She was happy and she was content. She would’ve wanted the same for me. I want the same for me.

I would give up a lot to have one more conversation with her. To be able to ask her what she thinks about so many things. Things I’ve done, things I’ve felt. But even as I write this I can hear her voice in my head. She would say something along the lines of, it doesn’t matter if I’ve made some wrong choices. It’s life and no one is perfect. The important thing is that I am overall, happy, healthy, and self-sufficient. The rest is just salad dressing on the salad of life. Or whatever the Italian equivalent of an optional but not hugely important topping or condiment to a meal would be. Shredded parmesan on the lasagna perhaps? And I guess the fact that I can imagine her answer means she’s still with me after all.

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Posted by: katielady123 | May 23, 2012

Hair Raising

About a month ago, I thought it would be a really good idea to use a groupon for a haircut. I felt it was time for a change. Nothing too dramatic, but my hair had gotten to be about 8 feet long and it badly needed layering. I was also contemplating getting bangs because I had recently admired the bangs of someone super cute who also happened to be my age. I figured if she could pull it off, so could I. I had bangs my whole life until college. I grew them out and never looked back. But maybe it was time.

One thing you should know is, I have always taken pride in my hair. It’s one of the few things I generally feel confident about. I mean come on ladies, I don’t care how self conscious you are, or how awkward and unpretty you feel a good deal of the time, don’t you have that one feature that you know kind of kicks ass? That’s how I am about my hair. It’s usually the one thing I can count on to look good, even when I’m not speaking to my face and I’m on bad terms with the extra weight I may be harboring on my frame. My hair is pretty reliable, and very low maintenance. If it looks funky, I can straighten it in a few minutes and make it behave. Sure, sometimes it drives me crazy, but in general, it’s there for me like a good friend.

All of that aside, sometimes my hair bores the crap out of me. Sometimes it gets so long, it just hangs there like a wrinkled sweater, and I feel like a homeless person who hasn’t showered. And that’s when I have showered, because luckily, I have a home, with, you know, running water, and stuff. Anyway, what I’m really trying to tell you is how stringy and blah my hair can be. It doesn’t like to be put up in a ponytail – it will rebel by being all bumpy on my head instead of laying flat. It doesn’t like to be put up half way in a half ponytail thing and it demonstrates it’s resentment by frizzing up and getting fly aways when it has to sit still for too long. For the most part, it likes to be touched, spoken to gently, and kept out of the rain, for the love of all that is decent and holy.

Of course, in the days leading up to the haircut, my hair was taunting me by looking extra good. It was texturized just so and the ends were flipping in that adorable way, without my even having to try. But I knew it was faking it. The moment I decided not to go through with the cut, it would be back to being a petulant child. I wasn’t buying it, and I had a discount for a haircut at a place I’d never been to.

Side note: I have a really awesome regular hair stylist. She should really be called a hair maestro, because she’s just that magical. But you know, sometimes it’s stressful trying to make conversation and the price is a little high, and yeah, I thought, oh what the hey, let me just try this other place.

When I arrived for my appointment, I immediately got a bad feeling. The salon was empty. There were no other customers, and only one lady sitting behind the front desk. She told me she would be right with me. I had guessed, incorrectly, that she was simply the receptionist. As soon as I realized she would be cutting my hair, I became extremely wary. I hate to sound judgmental. In any other setting, I would not be critiquing someone else’s personal appearance so harshly. But this was the person I was entrusting my hair to for goodness sakes. I would’ve felt a little better if she, herself, had nice hair. But her hair looked terrible! And she was older – maybe in her 60′s. Which is fine! My parents are in their 60′s! There’s nothing wrong with aging! But again, when it comes to my hair, I sort of want someone who might be up to date on the latest styles and trends. Plus, the woman was dressed very frumpily, and the decor of the salon looked like it hadn’t been updated since the 80′s. It looked like the kind of salon that specializes in setting rollers into the hair of little blue haired old ladies. Think about it – would you want your doctor to be hacking up a lung, grotesquely overweight, and unkempt? Would you want your dentist to have yellow teeth and bad breath? There’s a certain look that fits certain jobs. I want my hair stylist to be modern, regardless of her age, and to have good hair herself. Or at the very least good hygiene.

I decided to forego the bangs. It was too risky under the circumstances. I had already decided I would get basically the haircut I already had, simply a couple inches shorter. And then I could go to my regular hair stylist for any deviations from the norm. Now I don’t pretend to know much about how to cut hair, but I assume that a hair stylist of any caliber, can see if you have layers, and simply follow them the way they’ve already been cut. Not so with this lady. First she chopped a good five or six inches off my hair – way more than I had specified. And then, and then… wait. Take a deep breath. Are you sitting down? Ok, here goes. And then she pulled all of my hair except for the very underneath layer up into a ponytail on top of my head and chopped another two or three inches off the end of the ponytail. Yes, yes she did. I know, the horror is a little much to grasp all at once, so go back and read that slowly. She pulled. Most of my hair. Into a high ponytail. And chopped. This was how she did layers. This would be how I imagine a kindergartener, having only a rudimentary understanding of layered hair, would style the hair of her Barbie dolls.

After the brutal chopping, she didn’t blend the layers in. She didn’t razor them to make uneven ends, she simply left the top all blunt and jagged. Wait, can something be both blunt and jagged? Well, you get the idea. My hair is thick anyway. It’s thick hanging half way down my back. At a mere few inches from my scalp, it looks like it might take over the planet if left alone for a few minutes. I asked the stylist to thin it out a bit – a trick I had seen done many times with good results on my hair in the past. She adamantly refused saying that thinning it out wouldn’t work. I should also mention that while cutting my hair, she complained nonstop about my cartilage piercing, saying she couldn’t cut my hair correctly with it in my ear. I told her I had gotten it over three years ago and had never taken it out and that I was afraid to since I may not be able to get it back in right. She said, “what’s the big deal? It’s just a little earring.” I didn’t back down. I should’ve said, “what’s the big deal? I’ve gotten plenty of perfectly fine haircuts with it in my ear.”

When I walked out of the salon I felt like Samson. I looked like I was wearing a mushroom on my head. I basically had “the Rachel”, a haircut I wanted badly… twenty years ago. I looked the salon up on yelp and found it got miserable reviews. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid. I called my regular hair stylist and made an appointment. After I explained everything to her and she took a look at my hair, she was in shock. She said the haircut was uneven, outdated, and far too short. She fixed it as best she could and I took solace in the fact that it would grow back. Meanwhile, I wake up every morning with short pieces sticking straight up. I blow dry it with a big round brush like I always have and it doesn’t lie flat. I try straightening it and I end up looking like a rock star from the 80′s with a glorified mullet. It’s finally, finally starting to look good again. I have new sympathy for people who regularly experience bad hair days. I’ve always known what to do to make my hair look good but lately I’ve been at a loss. I know that it’s punishing me, rebelling, getting a tattoo on it’s underage skin, sneaking out of the house to meet up with a boy in the middle of the night, acting out like a teenager with a mood disorder. And the worst part is, I don’t blame it a bit.

Posted by: katielady123 | December 17, 2011

All The World’s A Stage

I always wanted to be an actress. As a child I used to open the phone book (phone books, for those who don’t remember, are those 8,000 pound books with phone numbers in them. Think google in off line form) ahem… I used to open the phone book to pages of talent agencies and leave them lying around for my mom to see and get the hint. She never did. But I wanted to perform. I loved the idea and dreamed that one day I would be in front of an audience that was laughing at my comedic genius, and falling in love with my realistic portrayal of characters they saw themselves in. You might find it strange then, that I never did any acting. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. I was in a school play in fourth grade about pilgrims.

And in junior high I was in the chorus in a play. During a particular musical number, girls and boys were paired up to sing together and there was one point where we had to sit on our respective boys’ laps at the very end. Side note, you might find this hard to believe, but I was terrified of boys in junior high school. The sitting on a boy’s lap thing was truly a challenge for me. It sounds so innocent and ridiculous to me now, but I digress.

Sometime between then and now, I overcame my fear of boys, but I never acted again. It wasn’t the junior high play that made me avoid further performances, I just felt too self conscious to do it. And then after high school and college, there simply hadn’t been much of an opportunity and somewhere along the way I resolved myself to the fact that I may never be a famous actress.

But life has a funny way of presenting opportunities. This past summer a friend announced she was putting on a play, an adaptation of Cinderella. She complained that she wasn’t getting enough people to audition and so I volunteered. I mainly did it to help her out and I never seriously thought she’d cast me. I’m still not sure how it happened. I told her the extent of my performing had been karaoke. My voice shook as I sung the song I had chosen to showcase my vocal talent. Miraculously, I was cast as one of the wicked step sisters.

As we got close to show time, I was confident. I knew my lines and everyone else’s lines. I knew my songs, my cues, my blocking. I was ready. And then we had the dress rehearsal. I was singing my song with the other step sister which was supposed to go: chorus, me doing a solo verse, chorus, her doing a solo verse, chorus. I made it through my verse and the following chorus and then at some point during her solo my mind just went blank. It was like I had a stroke or something. I had left my body and gone someplace else. I was standing there, smiling, and wondering why the other step sister was looking at me like that. What was going on? Where was I? Oh yes, I was in the middle of a song during the last rehearsal before the show and I was supposed to be singing a chorus at that moment. Somehow I made it through the song but it was a very unsettling experience. Afterward, I was so embarrassed, I literally wanted to melt into the floor. I had no way of rationalizing how I completely zoned out during a song I knew like my own name. I felt like an ice skater who nails her routine a million times during practice and then during the competition, goes to do a triple lutz and falls on her butt.

Needless to say, this made me extra nervous for opening night, which was completely sold out. As I waited for my entrance I reminded myself to stay present. No more vacating my body during my songs. And I got through it. I didn’t mess up my lines. I didn’t fall on my butt. In fact, I had fun. I had multiple people tell me they couldn’t believe it was my first performance. And of course, I can’t wait to be in another play. It feels so naturally like something I should be doing. It’s crazy how we spend so much time what if-ing and second guessing ourselves and if we’re not careful, it can keep us from doing things we want to do. One night at rehearsal we were discussing how we would remember our places for the finale. I was asking, “what if we forget where we’re supposed to stand? What if someone else is standing in our spot?” and one of the other cast members turned to me and said, “what if a giant vulture swoops in, grabs you and carries you off to another dimension?” Good point. What if you do a great job? What if you discover something new that you love doing? What if you surprise yourself?

Posted by: katielady123 | July 4, 2011

Living Room Dying Room

I had my very first crush at the age of four on Greg Brady from the Brady Bunch. I watched the Brady Bunch religiously. My parents have an old cassette tape we made one night at dinner in the summer of 1980, in which you can hear me, with my pleading little voice asking if Greg could come to dinner. My mom said he couldn’t and you could hear her getting more and more exasperated as I kept on, “But why? Why can’t Greg come to dinner?” She was desperately trying to think of a reason. “He’s busy.” “But why??” “Um, he’s out with his friends.” “But I want him to come to dinner!” It goes on like this for quite a while on the tape. This was before I understood that Greg Brady wasn’t a real person, but a character on a TV show, played by an actor. In fact, I can remember the moment my mom told me that the Brady Bunch wasn’t a real family. I burst into tears and she felt terrible. She hadn’t realized I didn’t know. But I guess, when you think about it, how would a kid know such a thing? Why wouldn’t I think that there just happened to be this family, dressed in far out bell bottoms and polyester, that would be going about their normal business while the world watched? I conceived of reality shows before there were reality shows.

The other thing on the tape haunts my parents to this day. My mom was getting ready for guests and making some kind of dip to be served with Fritos. You can hear me in the background begging and pleading for some Fritos and my mom keeps telling me I can’t have any because they’re for the guests. Finally she breaks down and says, “Ok, you can have an ice cream cone or two Fritos.” Suddenly I sound so happy: “Fritos!!!” and a moment later, you hear, heartbreakingly, “why only two Fritos?” My parents feel so guilty about that one incident, immortalized forever on tape, that I am constantly receiving large bags of Fritos for my birthday, in my Christmas stocking, etc.

And speaking of cassette tapes… When I was about five my mom took me to see the movie Annie and I watched in amazement as other little girls acted and sang their hearts out on the big screen. I wanted so badly to do that too. My mom got me the soundtrack and my dad recorded it onto a cassette tape and drew a little picture of a curly headed girl on the label (a depiction of Annie herself). I wore that tape down, sitting in front of the stereo for hours, singing the songs and perfecting my performance. I would beg my mother to let me become an actress. I would look up talent agencies in the yellow pages and leave the phone book, open to the page, on the kitchen table in the hopes she’d get a brilliant idea. But to no avail. My child star dreams went unrealized.

It’s funny what kids will believe and imagine. In the house we lived in until I was nine, there was a small entry way between the living room and the dining room. I thought the dining room was called “the dying room” – it makes logical sense, after all. Why would there be a living room and no dying room to juxtapose it? So my brother and I would play Living Room Dying Room, a game I invented, which pretty much involved standing in the dining room, clutching our hearts and saying in an exaggeratedly feeble voice, “Oh no, I’m in the dying room, I’m dying!” Then we would stumble out into the entry way, a sort of limbo between the two rooms, and drag ourselves ever so strenuously into the living room where we would jump up and down and happily proclaim that we were alive! We made it into the living room! I can’t recall what else was involved in the game but it seems there must have been more to it. On the other hand, it may have just been us racing back and forth between rooms, caught in the gray area between living and dying.

It’s funny how trivial things felt so important then: the fact that Greg Brady couldn’t come to dinner. A disturbing lack of Fritos in my life. And why, oh why couldn’t I become an actress so the world would love me? Sometimes I long for a time when complete safety was available, only a few feet away, in the living room. That is, if you could only manage to drag your mangled, earthly remains out of the dining room and across the entry way.

Posted by: katielady123 | May 21, 2011

The End? Or Just the Beginning?

Well, it looks like the world didn’t end today after all. Did anyone truly think it would? I can remember more end of the world predictions than you can shake a stick at. Mostly because, there was a time when I actually worried about them.

Flashback to 1992, late October to be specific. I was in my senior year of high school and the world was supposed to end. There was no internet back then to get perspective, there was only terrifying signs pasted to telephone poles with big red crosses on them and the words “the Rapture is Coming!” I don’t remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, but I do remember calling my mom from the school’s lobby pay phone in a panic asking her what she knew about this alleged apocalypse. I think she dismissed it pretty quickly, but my fears were not eased.

I spent the next couple of weeks in a constant state of anxiety. I couldn’t believe the world was going to end and I was only 17 years old. There was so much left that I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t fair. And the most horrible part was that I had no control. If the world was set to end, there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop it. None of my friends seemed to concerned and the adults around me tried to assure me that people had been predicting the end since time began and here we all still were. I can remember my dad, frustrated and fed up with my constant moping around and proclaiming the injustice and horror of it all, turned on CNN and insisted to me that if the world were ending, the pope would be on, urging everyone to repent, or something. I had to admit it was odd. Why was no one concerned that the end was near? Why was everyone going about their business like another random day and not feeling an impending sense of doom?

I don’t know why I seized so firmly on the idea of the end of the world. I guess it was the worst, most frightening thing that I could imagine at the time and as I said, my utter lack of control was a continual source of anxiety. Plus, I had zero experience with failed doomsday prophecies. I had an unyielding faith in the media and there I was, on break from my cashier job at the grocery store, innocently picking up a Boston Herald and reading a headline announcing, “Don’t make plans for Wednesday! Because Tuesday the world is going to end (and this time they’re serious).” My young mind didn’t catch the tounge in cheek nature of the phrasing and I assumed if it was in the paper, it was a real, newsworthy item. When my boyfriend at the time who was in college in Miami told me his local paper had a similar article, I was unable to dismiss the possibility that armageddon was nigh.

I was beside myself for days. I could barely sleep, I could barely even function. My every waking moment was spent lamenting the untimely end. My parents were ready to kill me. My friends thought I was crazy. But I couldn’t stop worrying. Did I really, truly think it would happen? I have to believe that there was a part of me deep down inside that knew it wouldn’t. But thus was the nature of my thinking. It was such an awful possibility that it seemed naive to push it out of my head and go about my daily life.

The day came and went with little notice. I think I read later that there were believers who were upset and suicidal when the rapture didn’t manifest as promised. But I felt like I had been reborn and given a new lease on life. Colors seemed brighter. Nature itself was more vibrant and alive. I would never have to worry about anything ever again, I thought, because I had survived the end of the world. At least until the next major horror. Like in that Woody Allen movie where he believes he has a brain tumor and when he finds out he doesn’t, he’s elated for all of ten minutes until he starts to consider that he could get a brain tumor. Or something equally as neurotic and totally relatable.

Looking back over the years and all of the ends of the world that never came to pass I feel sorry for my younger self. I think of the anguish that I endured, the needless anxiety and suffering. And now my reaction to an end of the world prophecy is to roll my eyes and dismiss the idea as crazy. But I think there must be someone out there, young, innocent, and prone to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders who worries each time another ridiculous proclamation is made. There must be someone who despite her better judgement secretly gives just a little too much head space to a frightening idea. And I wish I could tell her, or tell myself really, to just stop it. Live your life. Don’t be afraid. It will all be ok. Bring on 2012.

Posted by: katielady123 | April 18, 2011

Sliding Doors

Do you ever feel like you can trace almost everything in your life back to one defining moment, or one set of circumstances? Sometimes I look around at the amazing people in my life and the happiness I feel in general, and I start getting philosophical about how it all came to be. For example, I think about the people I know and how I wouldn’t know those people, if I hadn’t known other people, who I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t known still other people, all because of one night when I met certain people… but wait. I digress. Maybe it’s easier to tell this story forwards rather than backwards.

I can trace everything in my life right now to a time in early 2005 when my roommate at the time told me she was moving out and I decided to look for a new apartment, with new people, instead of staying where I was and finding a replacement. I posted an ad on craigslist looking for people to apartment hunt with and a girl answered my ad who knew another girl and the three of us decided to look together. The day before we were going to look, we responded to various ads on craigslist and in particular, one realtor wrote back to me saying that he had places he could show me and that I should call him the next day.

That next day, the three of us set out to see places but nothing was quite right. I had forgotten about the realtor who said to call. Finally, in frustration, at the end of the day, one of the girls suggested we should just find a realty office, go in, and see if they could help us. One in particular popped into my head as I had walked by it a dozen times. We approached the door but found it locked. A man was sitting at a desk and took pity on us. It was fifteen minutes after they had closed but he let us in anyway and asked us what we were looking for. Over the course of the conversation, we told him our names and when I said my name was Katie, he asked “Katie (my last name here) by any chance?” I was freaked out… how did this guy know my name? It turns out he was the very same realtor who I had corresponded with who had said to call him who I never ended up calling. Of all the realty offices in all of Boston, we had to walk into his. It was a bizarre and unnerving experience, but a good one, since he assured us he could help.

The next day we went out with him to see apartments and he showed us two that stood out. One was a place that I particularly liked because it was quirky with one of the bedrooms having a round wall and it was spacious and the bathroom even contained a bidet. Nevermind the impracticalities of a round walled bedroom, I was smitten. The second place that stood out was a nice place in a good area with new hardwood floors and lots of light (can you tell I’ve been spending my days writing about vacation rental properties?)

Unfortunately, the two girls I had been looking with bailed on me. They were both grad students and couldn’t afford to move out, they said. One was living with a boyfriend who things weren’t working out with, but she had decided she wasn’t ready to give up on the relationship or the living situation. I was frustrated to say the least, but I still wanted the quirky, round-walled, bidet-containing apartment.

I posted another ad this time announcing that I had a great place and I just needed great roommates. I actually believe the word I used was “fabulous” – remember when everyone was saying fabulous all the time a few years back? I got a response from someone who had been drawn in by the use of the word “fabulous” and we made plans to meet for coffee and hopefully see the apartment. The day we were to meet up, I got an email from the realtor saying the quirky place had been rented. I was disappointed but the girl still wanted to meet me and we talked for quite a while over coffee and decided to look for a new place together.

The day we went out to look at places, we saw nothing worth our time. One that sticks out in my mind was a tiny place with walls painted what can only be described as the same blue as Superman’s suit. The realtor admitted to us, “it needs some work.” We were discouraged but I remembered the second place the original realtor had shown us. The one with the nice hardwood floors. I told her it was a long shot and I doubted it was still available. Still, we contacted the realtor, the place was, in fact, available, and had everything we were looking for, including off street parking. We pretty much signed on right there on the spot, even knowing that we would need to find a third person. That girl I originally met on craigslist thanks to my fortuitous placement of the word “fabulous” became my roommate and remains my roommate to this day.

We posted an ad for a third roommate and got a few responses but the first person we met was a delightful girl from Switzerland who we loved instantly. Luckily she felt the same and we all signed the lease and moved on in. This is the apartment I live in now, although the third roommate has changed several times since, and that’s the first part of the story which at the time, seemed uncanny enough.

It turns out the Swiss roommate was a knitter. She would sit in the living room with piles of yarn next to her and within days, sometimes hours, have beautiful things to show for it. I was intrigued, but didn’t think knitting was for me. I didn’t think I would like working with yarn and it had never been a hobby I envisioned for myself. Thankfully, she had other ideas. She and her wonderful friend (who has since become a wonderful friend of mine) taught me to knit one night in November of 2005 and I took to it like a fish to water. I loved it and felt like I had previously had a large knitting shaped hole in my life, only I hadn’t even realized it.

Right around that time, I met two girls who also had just learned to knit, and we decided to frequent our local Stitch and Bitch group. For the uninitiated, a Stitch and Bitch is just what it sounds like. It’s a group who gets together regularly and does just that – knitting (and crocheting) and talking. The two girls I originally went with stopped going regularly but I was hooked. I kept going and made a wonderful group of really good friends. With some additions and changes over the years, that group of friends still meets on a weekly basis to this day and we remain close knit – heh heh, sorry. Thus ends part two of my story.

Part three starts with one night at Stitch and Bitch when a guy on the street happened into the store we were sitting in. I guess he didn’t so much happen in as be beckoned in by some of the girls who saw him out the window and decided he looked like someone we should talk to. He told us all about how he was a comedian involved in a local improv theater and that he was going to be in a show starting soon and we should go. One of the knitters piped up and asked if he knew her roommate. Not only did he know her, they were in the very same show together which pretty much sealed the deal for us deciding to go and see it. This was early summer of 2008.

Cut to, we went to the show a few times and were invited to the cast party at the end of the summer. It was there that I met a comedian who remains a friend to this day through whom I met another friend who introduced me to another friend who introduced me to many more friends who have ended up being very important to me. When you factor in those people, plus all my beloved knitters, plus the act of knitting itself which I can honestly say has changed my life, plus where I live, plus everything else I’ve gained along the way from all the people I’ve interacted with, you get a picture of how much has been affected by the small choices I made along the way.

But there’s the catch. I might tell you how sad and empty my life would be if I hadn’t been at the right place at the right time which I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t learned to knit which I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t found that roommate and this apartment and that set of circumstances. But who can say? There are infinite possibilities with every choice we make, right?

Take the movie Sliding Doors as an example. In the movie Gwyneth Paltrow has something small happen. She catches a train. Or she doesn’t. And that one defining instant changes everything. We, the viewers, go on to see the two paths her life could follow based on whether she caught the train or not. Don’t worry, they changed her hair in one life path to make it easy for us to tell which story we’re following. But that’s beside the point. The point is, these tiny, miniscule choices or coincidences or divine interventions or whatever you want to call them, happen and set us on meandering paths that change us forever.

So who’s to say? Would my life be remarkably as wonderful if I had done something different? Not decided to look for a new apartment way back in 2005 for example? I have to admit that it could be. For all I know, it could be better. But I prefer to think I’m on the right path with the right people and the right things in my life and that there’s reason and meaning and even magic in the day to day choices we make.

I suppose some could argue that if it were destined for me to learn to knit, I would’ve learned anyway, through another avenue. Or I would’ve met certain people at another time in another place. But I don’t know and I guess we can never know because unlike the audience of Sliding Doors, we can’t follow the paths that branch off, we can only follow the one we’re on and hope for the best. Life is funny like that.

Posted by: katielady123 | March 17, 2011

Working Girl

So I have news. In the space of a week I have gone from having no jobs to having two jobs.  The first one you know about already.  It’s a writing job, part time, working from home.  I am excited about it and wish I could do it full time, but it doesn’t pay enough.  That’s fine, I’m not doing it for the money, I’m doing it for the fame and recognition.  It will add great writing experience to my resume and move me that much closer to my goal.

Job number two is a different story.  The good news is, the pay is excellent and it came literally in the nick of time, just as I was about to reach the very end of my unemployment funds.  The bad news is that it’s not what I want to do, at a company so huge I am overwhelmed, and in a location that is less than ideal for me. 

There are good things about getting back into a full time job.  One of course is the money.  It’s been hard to pay the bills and make ends meet and I can’t tell you how sick I am of stressing over this.  It will be so nice to be able to do the little things that most people take for granted, like get a hair cut and buy groceries.  And save.  I plan to save as much as I can. 

The other good thing is the thing my mom always points out… she thinks I get into trouble when I have too much time on my hands to worry and obsess over things, and she’s right.  Idle minds and all that.  I get trapped in the bubble of my thoughts sometimes and things can seem distorted from that perspective, and off kilter.  It will be good to have something to think about I suppose.

But I’m also really depressed about the whole endeavor.  I know no one has sympathy for me, I’ve been out of work for almost two years and I’ve been getting paid for it.  I get that.  I probably wouldn’t have sympathy for me either.  But all of a sudden I’m stressing out over how much things are going to change, especially now.  I’m feeling like I’m not going to have time anymore and maybe that’s not realistic, but it’s making me feel sad.  And so if I’ve seemed insecure lately and idealistic, like I’ve been trying to cling desperately to these last few days and weeks and fit in as much of what I want to do as I can, well that’s the reason. 

I guess there are other reasons that involve the uncertainty I seem so good at living under regarding the future and my place in it.  The thing is, I know what I want.  Or at least, I’m starting to.  But I have no idea how to get there and even if my hopes and dreams want me in the same way.  And I see this job as just a stepping stone, a necessary deal I have to make: selling my precious time but putting me in a better position for the future, for working toward my goals. 

I know I will be fine.  I am adaptable and always have been.  I am resiliant and have always moved forward by never looking back.  You could uproot me from my surroundings and put me down in a different place and I will have settled in and adjusted beautifully in no time flat.  That’s just how I am and I know I will always be fine, no matter where I am and who I’m with and what the circumstances are.  But that doesn’t mean the getting there will always go smoothly.  I will fight tooth and nail to maintain a semblance of balance and calm up until the very last minute. 

Because change is scary, even if it’s good.  And there is so much I will miss.  I will miss long summer days with nothing to do but walk the streets with the sun on my face.  I will miss mornings in bed, comfortable in the knowledge that I have nowhere in particular I have to be, and no obligations to anyone.  I will miss endless afternoons with good books and watching movies late into the night on a week night, any night at all.  I know, you’re finding it harder and harder to sympathize aren’t you?  That’s ok, I don’t need you to.  I am not complaining, not really.  I think I’m documenting to prove it was real.  Just like at the end of the summer when I went to the public pool and submerged myself neck deep in the water and stared at the beautiful blue sky and soaked up the smell of the chlorine and tried so fervently to imprint that moment onto my senses so that later, in the dead of winter when just stepping outside is painful because it’s that cold, I could remember that summer moment.  I never once took it for granted.  I have always acknowledged my good fortune.  I am a lucky, lucky girl, and I am very aware of that fact every single day. 

So don’t feel sorry for me, I don’t blame you.  Don’t cry for me Argentina.  But it is the end of an era.  In 1973, John Lennon left New York for L.A. and spent eighteen months seperated from Yoko, partying and gallavanting all over the place before returning to NY, reuniting with Yoko, and settling back in to life as usual.  He would later call this period of his life his “lost weekend”.  To me it symbolizes a break from routine and responsibility and by it’s very nature, something that was never designed to last.  Well, this has been my lost weekend.  And it’s been one hell of a weekend, let me tell you.

Posted by: katielady123 | February 28, 2011

That’s Why It’s Called The Freshman 15

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in a college cafeteria.  This is way less creepy than it sounds, I promise.  Think about it – cheap, ample food and a chance to reminisce on younger years?  It’s a win win I tell you.  Ah college cafeterias.  The place where you really can have it all.  Can’t decide between the hot entree and a bowl of cereal?  Have them both!  Want seconds on that dessert?  How about thirds?  One flat rate gets you in and the dining hall is yours for the taking. 

Of course this makes me think a lot about my own college experience, food and otherwise.  College kids don’t realize how good they have it.  Think about it: you merely have to roll out of bed and walk a short distance to have this array of food stuffs at your fingertips.  And speaking of rolling out of bed, don’t feel like it?  Hey, no biggie, sleep in.  Yeah, you’ll miss class but what are the repercussions really?  No one is going to “fire” you. You won’t be out on your ass wondering how you’re gonna make the rent this month.  You really have nothing to worry about. 

It’s easy to feel a little envious of the sheltered life of the college student until you remember what they are facing just a couple short years away: the real world.  And it will hit hard, believe me.  Pass up the ramen noodles now my friends.  You’ll need them in the years to come when you’re barely scraping by and your fridge is empty but for some old milk and a few condiments.

I think about myself in college and how naive I was.  I thought I would graduate, get a good job, make lots of money, become successful and feel happy about my chosen path in life.  I thought it would all fall into place, effortlessly.  I can remember signing my financial aid forms for the first time, feeling all grown up at eighteen because I didn’t have to get my parents to sign them for me.  Those forms promised I would pay back the thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loans I was accumulating.  Loans I’m nowhere near done paying back for an education I’m not using. 

Can we really hold a person accountable for something they promised they would pay for “later” when they were still only a child with no context whatsoever to base their decisions on?  You know that song by Mr. Mellencamp that states, “seventeen has turned thirty-five, I’m surprised that we’re still livin”?  They played that song at my high school senior prom and as I danced the night away, comfortable in the knowledge that I was indeed seventeen and thirty-five was an unfathomable lifetime away, I didn’t understand what it meant.  But guess what?  Seventeen has, in fact, turned thirty-five, and suddenly, I find myself in this sea of college students yet somehow I’m the adult.  It’s surreal. 

And to juxtapose the college experience, here is an example of the real world that happened to me just today.  Scrambling to devise a plan before the unemployment checks stop coming, I made an appointment to visit a placement agency.  I had already spoken quite a bit on the phone to Maggie who painted a lovely picture of finding me a contract job in my neighborhood at the right price.  Something that will put recent HR experience on my resume while freeing me up to travel in July. The easy, breezy idea of it fills me with hope that I really can have everything fall into place effortlessly.

I planned to meet Maggie today at eleven.  As I was leaving my house in my suit and dressy coat I noted that it looked dark out and briefly wondered if I would need an umbrella.  Somehow I didn’t bother looking out the window and decided it couldn’t really be raining or anything, plus I thought there was an umbrella in my car.  I opened the front door to a torrential downpour and dashed, or rather, stumbled quickly through snow drifts in my fancy shoes, to the car.  There was an umbrella that’s been loitering on my car floor.  I tried opening it and found it utterly useless.  It was so broken that it wouldn’t even open.  But counting on my good parking karma, I wasn’t too concerned. I thought I would find something on the street, right near where I was going, if I merely left myself enough time to look.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Realizing I was going to be late, I gave Maggie a call.  I left her a voicemail and proceeded to look for the parking garage that the agency’s website recommended as it’s the one they validate parking for.  I looked where it was supposed to be.  I must’ve driven around the targeted block eighteen times.  No parking garage.  Finally I found another one, just a little further away.  I parked, glancing at the rates with a sigh, but I had no other choice. 

Exiting the garage into the pouring rain, I walked as fast as I could in my hurty, fancy shoes which kept twisting or getting stuck in cobblestone.  I burst into the agency at eleven thirty, wet, cold, bedraggled, frustrated, and wanting nothing more than to turn around, go home, and crawl back into bed.  But this is the real world.  Are you paying attention college students?  This is what it’s like out there.  You don’t get to run back to the safety of your bed.  You take a deep breath, straighten your suit, praying no one will notice the undone hem of your pants which is attached by a few pins and keeps drooping down to get caught under the heel of your fancy, hurty shoe, smooth down your bedraggled wet hair, and you tell the receptionist you’re there to meet Maggie.  Maggie will understand.  Maggie has been so friendly and helpful over the phone.  Maggie said she was really looking forward to meeting you.  Plus, Maggie knows you’re late because you left her a message. 

“Maggie’s out today, but you’ll be meeting with her colleague, Sara,” the receptionist says without a trace of remorse.  What???  How can Maggie be out?  I also, just for kicks, tell the receptionist I couldn’t find the parking garage mentioned on their website and she assures me it exists.  Wow, that’s so helpful.  I ask if they validate parking at any other garage and she cheerfully explains that they don’t.  Then she hands me a metric ton of paperwork to fill out which I start to until I realize that there are all kinds of legal documents and W2 forms or I9s or whatever the heck those forms are that you fill out when you are becoming an employee someplace.  (I should know this, really I should, how can I call myself an HR professional, geez.) 

I explain to the receptionist that I’m not filling out the forms because I’m not there to become an employee, that Maggie knows all this already, and where the heck is Maggie anyway?  The receptionist tells me she’ll let the recruiter know I’m here and she gives me a look and I think, don’t you give me that look little girl, I have been in your shoes.  I was a receptionist for years and I always recognized a difficult candidate when they arrived and refused to fill out the necessary paperwork and I always went to tell the recruiter they were there and rolled my eyes and silently indicated that the person was a real pain in the neck.  I know that look, I gave that look, and now here’s this little receptionist giving me that look like she invented that look.  I eat that look for breakfast missy, you got that? 

So Sara arrives to relieve the receptionist of me and I explain that I couldn’t find parking and that I didn’t bring an umbrella and that I left a message for Maggie explaining I was running late.  Sara is all smiles and tells me Maggie is out sick which I guess is a reasonable excuse but I would’ve preferred someone to call me and give me the option to reschedule with Maggie.  Instead Sara needs to be briefed on everything I’ve already told Maggie.  Then she sends someone else in to talk to me about HR contracts, and then that girl says she’s going to go get Sara so Sara can wrap up with me. 

She leaves the room and I look at the time because all I can think about is money with wings flying away as the minutes tick by and each one signifies more of my nonexistant cash that will be spent parking but hey at least I got something out of this meeting right?  Wrong!  There was absolutely nothing that couldn’t have been discussed over the phone and in fact, already had been, with Maggie.  I checked some email on my phone, made some notes for a possible blog entry on this whole exercise in futility, and looked at the time again.  Twenty minutes had elapsed.  I gathered my belongings and went back to speak to my bestie, the receptionist.  I told her I was maybe forgotten about and that I had to go because of the parking garage.  She called Sara who returned saying “oh sorry about that!” and then wrapped up with “Maggie will be calling you.” 

So I came all the way into town, in the pouring rain, in my suit, and spent $22 I don’t have to park just so I can be told that Maggie will be calling me which, let’s face it, I knew already.  OK college students?  So enjoy it, no, embrace it, while you can.  Eat those hot meals and that cold cereal and frequent the salad bar.  Make your own ice cream sundaes and go back for seconds and thirds.  Because the real world is out there and it’s waiting for you and it’s getting angry.  Believe me, I’ve seen the real world and it ain’t pretty.

Posted by: katielady123 | February 16, 2011

The Day We Love to Hate

Valentine’s Day is kind of a ridiculous holiday.  In principal, I am certainly not one to advocate for it.  Similarly, I just found out about “push” presents.  Do you know about these?  A push present is a gift given by a guy to his baby momma for the simple fact that she has just pushed out his baby.  I’m sorry, but the idea, to me, sounds a little ridiculous and unnecessary.  Maybe it’s the name: push present?  Really?  But it’s also just the whole idea of it.  Like here’s one more excuse to promote the jewelry industry or whatever.  If I give birth someday and the father of my child wants to give me a present, hey, I’m not going to complain.  But I doubt I’m really going to be concerned with getting a present when, you know, I’ve just brought forth new life into this world.

Back to Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is a commercialized day that by default ends up making couples feel pressured into doing something special and makes single people feel miserable about life.  I have spent so many Valentine’s Days single that I can tell you first hand how awful it is.  You don’t want to let it get to you, you want to rise above the Hallmark hype, but somehow it ends up feeling as if everyone around you were partaking in Christmas or Halloween, and you’re left out of the festivities altogether.  This wouldn’t be a big deal if they also had a day just for singles to celebrate their singlehood.  But there really isn’t.  There should be. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just for couples.  It can be a good time to remind your friends and loved ones that you care about them.  I have had some of my best Valentine’s Days with good friends, having dinner, or sitting around playing board games.  And in elementary school Valentine’s Day was the best.  My mom would bring home a package of, I don’t know, whatever was popular when I was in elementary school… Cabbage Patch Kids?  Pretty Ponies?… anyway, a package of valentines and I’d painstakingly select one for each kid in my class, carefully writing their names on the back.  And I remember the thrill of bringing home a bag full of valentines, one from each of them.  When you think about it, why do we do this to kids?  What are we doing but setting them up for future disappointment?  Inevitably, the lesson was, include everyone.  But Valentine’s Day is all about exclusion.  Unfortunate though it may be, the coupley aspect of it is all around us.

Of course I have, in the past, had mostly disappointing Valentine’s Days.  There was the year when, in college, I was finally in a relationship for the first time ever on Valentine’s Day and I looked forward to seeing what sweet and thoughtful thing my boyfriend at the time would do to commemorate the special day.  Don’t judge!  I was like, 19 years old, raised on a steady diet of romantic comedies, and hadn’t yet fully realized that I wasn’t supposed to hope for any commemoration of such a ridiculous holiday.  Anyway, Mr. Old Boyfriend lent his last $50 to a friend to get a gift for the friend’s girlfriend.  He showed up at my place empty handed, probably even late, as he usually was, and explained to me that our relationship was stronger and more advanced and didn’t require petty gift exchanges.  I was like, wow, you know what?  A card would’ve been nice, you bastard. 

There were the years I sat at the front desk of a company signing for floral deliveries all day long on Valentine’s Day and never once received one myself from my then boyfriend who was plenty aware of my predicament receiving flowers for others.  I sighed and tried to tell myself it didn’t matter as the floral arrangements piled up on the counter in front of me only to be collected by their rightful recipients who would smile and blush and say, “aw, he didn’t have to do that!” and yada yada yada, I would throw up in my mouth, just a little. 

There were the years I was stood up, blown off, and just generally forgotten about.  I wanted to say I didn’t care, that it was a stupid holiday, but deep down inside you can’t escape from Valentine’s Day.  You can’t boycott it just because it’s commercialized.  After all, do we boycott Christmas?  Mother’s Day?  Father’s Day?  Welcoming new babies into the world by showering their birth givers with push presents?

All that being said, I’m totally against high maintenance girls who demand some fancy gift or perfect evening.  I can fully appreciate what a nightmare Valentine’s Day must be for a guy.  First, it’s about feelings which right off the bat can’t be too comfortable, am I right guys?  Second, you know your special lady is going to be unhappy if you don’t do the right thing, but what is the right thing???  You have no idea. 

Well guys, from what I know about my gender, the important thing for most girls on Valentine’s Day is a simple acknowledgement that you care.  I think a thoughtful card is perfect.  A small sweet gesture you wouldn’t ordinarily do, a few loving words you wouldn’t ordinarily say, can be made hugely meaningful if done not out of pressure or expectation, but out of genuine emotion.  And if Valentine’s Day provides an easy excuse for this scenario, so be it.  If any other day the stars align just the right way to encourage an honest expression of feeling, well all the better.  We get it: love is not a command performance.  Don’t worry, I think most girls understand this fact and accept it.  But just the same, we girls can’t ignore Valentine’s Day, much as we’d like to.  I wish I could tell you otherwise.  I also wish I could hand each and every one of you a Pretty Pony valentine and tell you you’re special.

Posted by: katielady123 | February 9, 2011

Writing About Writing

I’ve been feeling a little poemy lately.  As a writer, every now and then, I get into these moods where I feel the urge to write poetry.  The problem?  I’m so bad at it.  I might get a few good phrases in here and there, but otherwise?  My poetry makes me roll my eyes at myself, seriously.  Shouldn’t I be a good poet if I am a good writer? I can appreciate good poetry.  I listen longingly to folk songs and feel like I’m just on the edge of being able to write them. I get inspired.  I think, yes, that’s inside me too.  But when I sit down and put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, it just stalls out, or comes out badly.  So I try not to try to write poetry anymore.

Last night I happened upon a book of poems I wrote ten years ago.  They were all angsty and repetitive and lacked the subtlety and beauty of imagery that I admire so much in other people’s words.  And no, you’re not getting to read any of it here.  With the exception of one.  The one good poem I ever wrote was written eleven and a half years ago with magnetic fridge poetry the very first week I moved into my very first apartment.  I don’t know if it was having limited word choices that helped or the actual words themselves that inspired me, but that poem remains to this day, the best poem I’ve ever written.  Sorry about the line spacing.  I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get wordpress to format line spacing.  Anyway, here it is (dated 9/99 in my notebook):

“He shines like a dream of the sun

We lie together, drunk and delirious

His fingers under my dress

Lightly as rain.

He is all I want,

But he loves her.

I scream to him of love and desire

I sing of glorious fire and dark desolation

I make myself as beautiful as a goddess

And sit where he can see.

But still he loves her.

I am laughter on a summer evening,

And melancholy as a storm in tempest,

And wild as a silver angel,

And he still loves her.”

I jokingly called the poem “Self Fulfilling Prophecy” because, though I wrote it about one situation, it ended up applying to every guy I encountered the entire two and a half years it was hanging on my fridge.  I guess it was bad feng shui or something.  But it’s still a damn good poem.  Maybe it’s because the magnetic poetry was the “Shakespearean” set.  Or because it’s short, to the point.  It doesn’t over explain, it doesn’t drag on and on.  It says what it needs to say and it gets the hell out of there.

I like the way poetry says everything without spelling it out for you.  I like it’s power and it’s ability to make you feel emotions when you read it.  But bad poetry just doesn’t work.  I may as well keep a diary and not attempt to be subtle or employ imagery. Where does a blog fit in to all this?  I feel like a blog is both poetry and diary… at least it can be.  But right off the bat, when you’re writing for others, are you truly being as honest as if you were writing for just yourself?  You want to keep your readers, so like in bad poetry, you try not to drone on and on and repeat yourself and spell things out in a dry fashion. 

I have always felt comforted by the act of writing.  Writing for me, is a way to work out things that I’m feeling, to get things off my chest, to explain myself, and to create.  But the trick to writing about feelings and hence, writing poetry, is that you can’t look back at it later and belittle your work which is something I tend to do.  Emotions can be so transient.  Capturing them on paper (or computer screen) is a way of snapping a photo of them, just as they exist in one moment, even as, the next moment, they have drifted off, gone on, moved forward, away from you.  I wonder if song writers have this problem when they immortalize things they don’t necessarily want to keep revisiting.  Do they ever roll their eyes and think, God, I was so angsty.  What the hell was my problem?

The blogging paradox is it’s a way to work through the things you think about and feel, and yet do it in front of an audience.  Remember, here is where we can sense my mother, if she were reading this, cringing with embarrassment on my behalf.  She just doesn’t get my need to turn myself all inside out on a stage, in a crowded room.  She thinks feelings are something to be guarded and hidden and I think feelings are meant to be lived and experienced right out loud.  Otherwise, how can you learn from them?  I’ve always had this urge to bare my soul somehow.  I’ve only wanted to have someone look at my experience and say, hey, I get that, I feel that way too.  Because it’s such a comforting feeling, the illusion that in some small way we aren’t totally alone inside our own heads. 

The point is, the more I write for others, the more I lose track of the real and I still need a forum to write about the real.  There are things I feel and think that I never mention ever.  I know my mom would find that hard to believe but it’s true.  And maybe there are things you’re supposed to keep hidden, or share with only a very select few.  On the other hand, those who can handle my truths and stick with me are the only ones who are truly worthy right?  Worthy of what I’m not sure.  My company?  My loyalty?  My trust?  I don’t know.  I’m not saying people have to like my poetry.  I’m just saying that writing, like any art, involves self sacrifice.  For that reason, and for a thousand others, it’s scary as hell.  But I’ll keep doing it because it’s the only thing I know how to do.  With the exception of poetry.  

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