January 20, 2014

thirty-five

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:11 pm by kate

I’m still not writing here but I’m interested in writing a year-end summary to look back on. So here we go.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I did a lot of small things for the first time. And I told someone a secret that I’d never ever told anyone. That was actually a really smart thing to do — it was the emotional equivalent of that dream where you realize that your apartment has rooms you’d never known were there — although at the time I was terrified.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolutions were to keep up my tai chi practice (like some sort of fucking hippie or something) and to do a thing I wasn’t ready to talk about yet (which was going back to school). I had a hard time keeping up with my tai chi practice once I started playing rugby three days a week and I was offered a spot in one of the programs I applied to and then declined it for a lot of different reasons. This year I’m not sure what I want to do. Lose ten pounds? Keep being honest? FINALLY start wearing makeup for the love of god?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Last year, three friends died (one in May and two in December) but despite the one constant thread running through my life is that my friends keep dying, no one died this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

This answer is always the same and I’m okay with that: Mexico and the US.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Last year I said that I really did not lack anything and I think that is also true this year. I mean, I want things, but I’m a human and that’s how human nature works.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 13: I went on a first date. It was a Wednesday night and we met for drinks (except neither of us drank) and dinner (except I have one thousand food allergies and he was too nervous to eat very much) and then we went back to my house and kissed and it was great.  We’ve seen each other every Wednesday since except for once when he was out of the country and once when I was.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I played a whole season of muddy, vicious, full-tackle rugby. I tried to be as kind as I possibly could as much as I could.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I could have been more prudent, financially.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I bruised a couple of ribs in rugby and also pulled something in my arm.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Tickets to Mexico, a small assortment of bathing suit halves.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I have to give a shout-out to goat cheese and Finn Crisp crackers, without whom I would be a withered husk slumped in the corner.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My sister’s. My aunt’s.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent! And vegetarian, soy-free, dairy-free, corn-free, nut-free food.

15. What did you get really excited about?

Uh, shit. Going to Mexico?

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The whole album “Shakespeare My Butt” which I listened to one thousand times, give or take.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? The last four years my answer was “happier, by far” and that’s also my answer this year.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.
– richer or poorer? Poorer, although not by much.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I had to cut myself off from my sister (and her delicious, delightful kids) and it was incredibly, unbelievably painful. I wish, though, that I had done it sooner.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

More early morning walks, less sleeping in.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Day is also my boyfriend’s birthday. I spent the evening of December 23rd working and barfing and then on Christmas Eve my boyfriend and his mother came over to my apartment and we had the most fun. It was lovely. He opened his birthday presents and we played board games. Christmas Day we opened our presents and went to the aquarium and then I made pie for dinner (chicken pot pie for the meat-eaters and spinach pie for me). I got a lot of great presents including a huge (huge) print of a classic green highway sign saying WELCOME TO NEW YORK to hang above my couch. The present that I had bought for my boyfriend’s mother was stuck in warehouse about 25 minutes away thanks to some shit for brains planning by UPS, which was so embarrassing that it actually went all the way back around to oh well, shit happens! Then we had birthday cake and watched Love Actually which — god forgive me — continues to be the greatest, greatest movie. I love it. Despite the barfing/working, it was actually the best Christmas I’ve ever had, hands down.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Yes.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Downton Abbey, sort of. I also (finally) watched Game of Thrones and it was great, of course.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.

24. What was the best book you read?

I loved (loved, loved, loved) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Regina Spektor, who of course wasn’t a discovery at all but someone that everyone else had been listening to all this time.

26. What did you want and get?

After Lynn died, there was some uncertainty about her house in Mexico. I was heartbroken to think that I might not get to see it again. I was lucky enough to go in April and again in January and both trips were incredible. Lots of time on the beach and snorkeling on the reef.

27. What did you want and not get?

I wanted a really crystal-clear directive from the heavens and/or god about what to do in terms of going back to school. And I wanted a giant vault of money a la Scrooge McDuck.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Sort of cheating, since it was 2014, but in January on the plane back from Mexico I saw Enough Said and loved it.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 33. It was a Wednesday, conveniently, so my boyfriend came over and we went to dinner. I had a pizza with tomato sauce and basil leaves on it which was delicious. I got presents and drank wine. It was warm enough to eat outside!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

As a result of being very sick at the end of last year, I lost a lot of hair. It grew back (which is great) in this MADDENING fringe (not great) which spent most of the year defying my efforts to stay attached to my head (seriously, not great). At times people were like oh you cut bangs! And I’d have to say NOPE, THAT’S JUST HOW MY HEAD WORKS NOW. I’m finally at the stage where it’s basically under control but if that could have happened nine months earlier IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Skirts, dresses, skirts. I wore jeans twice in 2013.

32. What kept you sane?

Honestly? Laying on the couch with my cat watching television. And walking.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I usually have an answer for this but, shit, I don’t know!

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Everything about the way the world works breaks my heart.

35. Who did you miss?

My friend Lynn, keenly. This summer I got a huge packet of letters that we had exchanged and they were so wonderful and heartbreaking. I miss her so much.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

My boyfriend, but not just because he’s my boyfriend — he also happens to be really great.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Always be honest.

January 1, 2013

thirty-four

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:42 am by kate

I haven’t written here in a year but I’m interested in doing the end of the year review anyway. Here we go.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Well, shit. I had surgery and spent three nights in the hospital and then I had a lot of severe allergic reactions and spent a lot time in the ER.  I started going to church and started oil painting (landscapes) and I started a tai chi practice. I broke off an engagement. I went to the movies on Christmas Day.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Sort of. My resolutions were to stop carrying so much fucking stuff in my purse, do some neck/shoulder stretches every night because my neck was a total disaster and to start dressing more mindfully. I did decently well with not carrying a bunch of stuff in my purse, I totally NAILED IT in regard to my neck problem and sort of like the year before, dressing well was a mixed bag. For next year, I want to do some things I’m not ready to talk about on the internet and I want to keep up my tai chi practice like some sort of hippie or something.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I feel like this answer is the same every year. My sister had a baby. Her fifth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

This year, my friend Violet died on May 29 and my friend Lynn died on December 12. They were both too young. A week after Lynn died, her godson, someone I’d known since he was a kid, disappeared on the Hudson River and is presumed dead. He was 26.

5. What countries did you visit?

Mexico and the US, same as usual. I don’t think I went to California this year (I usually do) but I went to NY six or seven times and I spent three perfect days on the ocean in New Jersey by myself.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I really did not lack anything this year. Truly, my life is full.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Lynn dying, certainly. She asked me to come to NY and be with her and it was one of the most special and meaningful times in my life. And the day that I ended my relationship.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I made a really big decision that I can’t talk about on the internet yet. That was it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

This sounds awful, but I kind of didn’t have one.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Jesus H, yes. I was off of work for four weeks after my surgery and then there were all of the visits to the ER with head-to-toe hives. I mean, other than THAT I was healthy, though.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The money that I paid my house cleaner and my cat groomer was the best money I spent all year.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine. My friend Andrew’s. And Lynn’s, too. To her dying day — and I’m using that term literally — she was kind and smart and funny and insightful.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My mother’s. As well as many of  the people she’s related to, unfortunately.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, savings.

15. What did you get really excited about?

I got excited about living in my apartment alone again, after Bill moved out.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

The Les Mis soundtrack, which I listened to a lot this summer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? The last three years my answer was “happier, by far” and that’s also my answer this year. My capacity for joy, like my capacity for grief, is basically limitless.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.
– richer or poorer? Richer, actually.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I don’t have regrets about this year. I had to make some really hard decisions but they were the best thing I could have done.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I had spent less nights uselessly staying up too late and just gotten more sleep for the love of god.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I worked on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas Day, went to see Les Mis with a friend.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I fell more in love with my cat, who is the most ridiculous and charming cat ever. And my new nephew — when he was four months old my sister spent a week in jail and I watched him and his two-year old sister and oh my gosh, that baby. He is a sweetheart. A hammy little sweetheart.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Downton Abbey, again, and Suits.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read some really wonderful books, essays and emails by David Rakoff, who was a friend of a friend. (And who also died this year — who didn’t die this year?)

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My music tastes continue to be pedestrian to the point of embarrassment.

26. What did you want and get?

I wanted desperately to be single and live alone again, and I got that. I wanted my friends to know how much I love them before they died and I was lucky enough to get that as well. I wanted to lose weight, and I did.

27. What did you want and not get?

I wanted to resolve my myriad allergies and instead I developed new allergies and started having even more severe reactions. I do want to make headway with this in 2013 because I’d really love to be able to eat a fucking apple. For example.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I actually saw two movies in the theater this year, which is two more than I see in the average year. But not much beats the series run of Frasier, which I watched while I was recovering from surgery. God, that was such a good show.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 32. I had just returned from a week at my sister’s house watching her kids while she was in jail, and I took Bill out for dinner to thank him for helping to look after my cat while I was away. I had a really, really good glass of wine at dinner — it was seriously so good I am thinking about it three months later.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I would have liked to have a glimpse into the future to see that yes, all of these hard and scary things I was hesitating to do were going to be right and good and TOTALLY WORTH IT. Also, I really want curly hair.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Oh, hell. I don’t know.

32. What kept you sane?

Therapy, dear friends, long walks.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Obama. And Patrick J. Adams.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I live in Canada, so I have the luxury of being mostly unstirred by political issues.

35. Who did you miss?

All of my dead friends, I guess.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I had known Lynn’s sister for many years, of course, but she and I became closer this year, so I’ll say her.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I say this as tongue in cheek as possible, but at the same time, honestly, YOLO.

 

January 3, 2012

thirty-three

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:42 pm by kate

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

I can’t think of a single thing!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did! And I will. My resolution last year was to have more parties, and I did decently well with that. My resolutions for this year are a lot more mundane, for one, I’d like to stop carrying so much fucking stuff in my purse, for two, I would like to do some neck/shoulder stretches every night because my neck is a total disaster and three, I would like to start dressing more mindfully, because I started out 2011 dressing well and then sort of spiraled into a morass of yoga pants. Toward the end I started wearing jeans with sneakers, god forgive me.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Some of our friends had a baby and it’s literally the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My father died in July and it was pretty awful. He was 52, we were estranged, and my grief for him was  far more pervasive than I had imagined it would be.

5. What countries did you visit?

Mexico, twice, and the US a handful of times. (I think it was San Francisco, New York, Santa Barbara, New York.)

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Last year I said I wanted  more people to share my life with and that I would like to finally get my Canadian citizenship. I got so many more people to share my life with in the most wonderful way but I did not get my Canadian citizenship. I’m still here for good, though.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Well. When I met Bill, when my father died, the snorkeling trip we took at the end of our trip to Mexico.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don’t feel like I personally had one, although starting to see a therapist after I realized that I couldn’t deal with my father’s death on my own feels like a substantial accomplishment. Also, I played 212-point word in a Scrabble game. (It was AMORTIZE.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

In November I asked my ex-husband, Cram, to take Mervyn full-time. That was brutally hard.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A little. I had surgery for this weird abdominal thing and like I mentioned above, my neck and shoulders are sort of a disaster.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Tickets to Mexico, twice. Every trip out to the reef and every plate of ceviche.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The behavior of my boyfriend and the behavior of my manager and our senior  manager, who are my second- and third-favorite people on earth.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Rob Ford. He’s Toronto’s mayor and he’s a terrible, shitty person with bad ideas.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, sushi. And I paid for my father’s funeral, despite the fact that he left me $1 in his will as a way to indicate he didn’t want me to receive anything else (and despite the fact that he did not even know my date of birth).

15. What did you get really excited about?

Going to Mexico, being in love with the right person.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

A particular Pearl Jam bootleg, any one of several songs by the Lowest of the Low. And Adele!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? The last two years my answer was “happier, by far” and that’s also my answer this year. I am exponentially happier than I was last year.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner, by a tiny bit.
– richer or poorer? The same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I did more of everything I could possibly want to. It was a year without regret, really.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I also don’t feel like I have an answer to this one, although I guess I could have spent less time being annoyed by incompetence.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve, Bill and I had a quiet day together and opened our presents, ate some appetizer-style foods and I probably fell asleep on the couch at least once. On Christmas Day we went to his parents’ house, attended mass with them and had an extremely delicious Christmas dinner.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

Oh my goodness, yes! I fell super in love with Bill, who is my boyfriend. We met in March. He is handsome and kind and funny. I hope we will be together for many years. I also fell in love with a handful of babies and a portly, reserved cat named Chaos.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Downton Abbey, Community, Top Chef. Sadly, I had to drop Project Runway from this list after many years because the last two seasons have been just terrible. Awful, gimmicky editing and terrible judging.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.

24. What was the best book you read?

I don’t think I read anything extraordinary this year.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I lost my iPod about halfway through the year, so Bill loaned me his old one, and I got to listen to a lot of the music he loved in college, which was great.

26. What did you want and get?

The love of my life, a real partner. And more local friends. Basically I got everything I wanted.

27. What did you want and not get?

For a little while I wanted to get engaged to Bill IMMEDIATELY and then I realized that there was really no rush—we’re going to be together for a very long time no matter if we get engaged now or a year from now.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I’m really terrible at watching movies so I might say Downtown Abbey again. It’s really so wonderful, and truly produced at the level of a feature film rather than a television program.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 31! It was a Sunday, and I was leaving first thing Monday morning for a week-long business trip to Santa Barbara, so we kept it low-key: diamond earrings, super-delicious dinner.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I said this last year and it’s still true: if my tiny, charming apartment had a dishwasher OH MY GOD. That would be so great. Seriously, I want for little else.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

It started out so well! But Jesus H, I ended the year on a down note.

32. What kept you sane?

100%, without a doubt my boyfriend Bill.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I seemed to develop crushes on interiors and historical homes this year rather than people.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Jack Layton’s death this summer was incredibly unfortunate. And Rob Ford, again.

35. Who did you miss?

My grandfather, still. My dad, in a different way.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Bill, of course. He’s amazing. We were talking the other day about how we had a totally normal first date that was actually pretty unremarkable (I mean it was fun, but not spectacular) and then we fell in love with each other. I was not expecting to fall wildly, head-over-heels in love with him (or anyone, I think) but I totally did.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

I am not sure I learned one. I felt like I became acutely aware of how quickly time moves, though, and how mindful you have to be to appreciate the good things in your life.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I am still not a song lyric person.

 

January 2, 2011

thirty-two

Posted in kate at 10:25 pm by kate

Year-End Review!

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

I turned 30. I was put in charge of a team of people at work. I built a motherfucking gingerbread house with my own stupid hands (I am never building another gingerbread house again).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did! And I will. At the end of last year my primary goal was to be warmer because I was completely obsessed with the fact that one of my friends told me I was NOT WARM. That is a really shitty thing to tell a person, by the way. At any rate I tried to be kinder and more helpful and a better human being in general and that worked out really well for me. My resolution for next year is to have more parties.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My sister.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My grandfather died on June 29 and then his girlfriend of 35 years died two weeks later.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just the US. I think I went to Vegas and California and then I went to New York two hundred times after my grandfather died.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Last year I said I wanted a promotion and a good local friend. I feel like I got both of those things in spades this year. This year I want more people to share my life with and I would like to finally get my Canadian citizenship.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My grandfather’s funeral, when I cried and cried and cried. When my mother let my sister move back to Alaska to do drugs, taking her infant daughter with her. When I finally stopped sleeping with my ex-husband. The G20 protests, which took place where I live and work and which were terrifying and disruptive and incredibly pointless.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

At the beginning of the year the tiny company I work for was acquired by a much larger company and I was miserable for a while. Then I got over it and started to really excel at my job.

9. What was your biggest failure?

There was a particular area in my life that I was struggling with and I had to give it up. Doing that made me feel like a failure but it was also the best idea I have ever had. So, that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I finally got to the bottom of why I was throwing up all the time and now I feel great. I love everything about being sick in Canada, especially the fact that when I pick up my LIFE-CHANGING anti-nausea meds at the pharmacy it is $5.45 for THREE MONTHS.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I started buying myself flowers every week when I turned 30. Every week they are the best thing I buy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Mine, sometimes. The behavior of a few coworkers in particular — if you don’t have coworkers that make you laugh until you cry you should try to get some. It is pretty great.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My mother, my step-father. They have both been making really shitty decisions for about 45 years.

14. Where did most of your money go?

This year like last year a lot of money went towards helping my sister’s kids stay fed and housed. And listen, I bought way more shit from the Gap than any one person really should.

15. What did you get really excited about?

Editing, talking to people that I love.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

I really love this quote when I am overwhelmed by a big life change: you don’t have to do nothing fast.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Last year my answer was “happier, by far” and that’s also my answer this year. I am exponentially happier than I was last year.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.
– richer or poorer? I don’t know. Probably the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

More long walks with my dog, more going to bed early with a good book.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I had spent less time feeling disgruntled and angsty after the company was acquired.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

This year like last year I worked most of the day. The work that I’m doing right now makes me really happy and I did not mind working at all.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

In a whole lot of small ways, yes.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Project Runway, again. Top Chef, Fringe, HIMYM. And Terriers, which was canceled after one season because no one watched it — but it was seriously so great.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot of mediocre books (I am looking at you, Stieg Larsson) but nothing that was truly extraordinary.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Sufjan Stevens, particularly his religious songs.

26. What did you want and get?

Local friends.

27. What did you want and not get?

I’m pretty much over anything I wanted and did not get.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Probably Up in the Air — I loved that movie.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I took a really long walk with the dog and then bought myself flowers. It was a Saturday. The day before I got an ice cream cake at work which was delicious. Super low-key birthday. I turned 30.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If my tiny, charming apartment had a dishwasher OH MY GOD. That would be so great.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Here are some three-season wool trousers! Now let’s go to work.

32. What kept you sane?

My job, business trips, television.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I developed a super-crush on Joshua Jackson.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was not super-thrilled that Rob Ford was elected as mayor of Toronto. But seriously. I live in Canada. I have yet to encounter a stirring political issue here.

35. Who did you miss?

My grandfather. He was really such an amazing man.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I have really enjoyed getting to know my coworker Karen. She is smart and fun and we hate the same things.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

Say yes.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I am still not a song lyric person.

PS: these are my flowers of the week.

 

 

 

December 7, 2010

thirty-one

Posted in kate, RADVENT at 10:26 pm by kate

Radvent prompt number seven (I skipped number six): What were your favorite games as a child? What did you like to do with your classmates or the neighborhood kids? How did that affect the person you grew to become?

1. Internet, I am sure it will come as no great surprise to you that I spent a lot of my childhood reading. I was an early, voracious, reader and my first schoolgirl crush was on Jem Finch, or at least the version of Jem Finch that existed in my head. I know now that reading basically saved my life — it gave me something to do and somewhere to hide and even when I was reading the same books over and over it was enriching me.

2. Now, of course, I am an editor and I love it. I mean, I love language and I love being right. Being an editor is my dream job. (Also due to a lifetime of voracious reading habits, I am now extremely good at Scrabble and have been occasionally accused of cheating! To which I say, yes, I am cheating by knowing how to spell a lot of words. I keep them in my BRAIN.)

3. Oh, and I was writing! I was writing the whole time. There are not many stories I can tell about my life where I am not basically writing the whole time.


December 5, 2010

thirty

Posted in kate, RADVENT, things I like at 10:51 pm by kate

Fifth Radvent prompt: write down the soundtrack of your year so far. Play it for someone who loves you.

I am doing this, but with a caveat: I have genuinely terrible taste in music. Or maybe it is not terrible! (It probably is.) But at the very least, it is low-brow and narrow and self-indulgent. Having said that, these are the songs I loved the most this year.

1. Even The Losers, Tom Petty (live at the Fillmore, 1999).

2. This Is How It Goes, Aimee Mann (live, and not great quality).

3. Gone, Ben Folds.

4. I’m Not The Guy, Dan Bern.

5. Forget You, Glee (YES THAT IS GWYNETH PALTROW SINGING and I am sorry but I love that song so much. Even more than the original. I SAID I WAS SORRY.)

6. Angel of Harlem, U2.

7. Under African Skies, Paul Simon (the whole Graceland album is amazing, of course. I can hardly believe it’s been in my life for 25 years.)

8. Les Miserables (I have listened to the soundtrack of this show maybe 500 times this year? Mostly while I was at work. And I love it every time.)

twenty-nine

Posted in kate, RADVENT at 10:07 pm by kate

The fourth Radvent prompt is about forgiveness: who and what are you ready to let go of resentment toward?

1. When I read this prompt I immediately started thinking about something my mother told me repeatedly while I was growing up — if someone bothers you, it’s because you see something in them you dislike about yourself.

2. When I was in my early twenties I realized yeah, OR MAYBE THAT PERSON IS JUST AN ASSHOLE. Seriously. Sometimes when someone bothers you it’s because they’re a shitty person doing something shitty.

3. In the same way, I assumed for a long time that I was obligated on some societal level to repair my relationship with my mother. Because isn’t that how it works? Towards the end of the movie the characters realize that they have so much in common! And they have been letting little tiny differences get in the way of a real relationship with each other! And they should tearfully make some pie in their artfully lit kitchen! But this summer I finally realized that I am not required to forgive my mother. I do not have to mend things between us or make things right. She doesn’t bother me because we’re so similar or because we have regular-person mother/daughter differences with each other, she bothers me because she’s an asshole.

4. There are other people I am willing to forgive, of course. I forgive my ex-husband for ending our marriage. I forgive those men in China for beating me up and mugging me. I forgive my father for being abusive and addicted and mean and I forgive myself, too, for eating half a jar of dill pickles while I wrote this post, half an hour before bed on a Sunday, which is probably the stupidest thing I will do all month.

December 4, 2010

twenty-eight

Posted in kate, RADVENT at 7:42 pm by kate

The third Radvent prompt: write a letter of love to yourself to read in one year.

1. I actually laughed a little bit when I read this prompt because basically every word I write is a love letter to myself. Every entry I post on this site, every story pitch and email and gift guide. Every time I sign my name to a credit card slip I am writing a love letter to myself. It says I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE HERE. I AM SO HAPPY THAT YOU MADE IT. That doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to write myself a love letter, it just means I am aware that for me it is no longer a revelation to be in love with myself. (I am also aware that reading about someone being in love with herself is B O R I N G and sometimes when I am rereading what I wrote on a particular day I want to punch myself a little bit.)

2. Either the upcoming year is going to be full of changes or it won’t. 2009 was a very eventful year; 2010 really wasn’t. When I think about Kate 2011 I want her to be happy like I am now, or happier. I want her life to be full of love. I want her to feel like she belongs in her life, like her whole life fits her like a glove. I want her to be proud and successful and happy.

3. Basically I want her to be me, but better. So when I read this in a year the question I should be asking is, did you do it? Are you better than you were?

December 2, 2010

twenty-seven

Posted in kate, RADVENT at 11:57 am by kate

Today’s Radvent prompt is about organization: Focus on one drawer, table, or surface today and spend 15 minutes making it pretty!

1. I am not going to follow this prompt for several reasons. (One, it just doesn’t blow my hair back, two; I spend my entire life keeping the space around me organized and three, this just isn’t the kind of journal where I take pictures of my desk and show them to you. And yes, I just said journal, because when I started writing online people did not write blogs, they kept online journals.) But I will use the idea of organization as a starting point.

2.  I grew up extremely poor in a messy house. It wasn’t 8 PM on TLC-level messy, but my parents were both addicts, my mother was agoraphobic and we had pets. So it was messy. Our entire lives were messy. My father was in and out of jail, my sister was doing hard drugs before she could drive and I don’t think I have talked about this before, but I never graduated high school — my mother made me quit just after my sophomore year ended. Somehow the math works out that if you take a poor kid in a messy house and make her quit high school you will produce one tidy high-achiever who publishes actual, no-shit scientific papers while she’s still in college and then, in her mid-twenties, becomes an editor who corrects and compiles things all day every day. And is extremely good at Tetris. I am not one to brag (yes I am) but I am positive I can beat you at Tetris.

3. There is a part of me that thinks that everything that makes me who I am is a rebellious, tunnel-vision reaction to the awful standards, values and habits I grew up with (this same part then immediately thinks thank god I didn’t come from kind, career-focused, intellectually curious parents because who knows! what kind of asshole! I would be then), but the larger and more sensible part of me knows that many good kids come from good parents and then once in a while there is someone who just gets blisteringly lucky — I mean like surface of the sun lucky — and ends up beating the odds. Right now my father is in jail, my sister is a homeless addict and my mother does drugs and works in a slaughterhouse.

4. So those are the kinds of things I am talking about. When I talk about beating the odds.


December 1, 2010

twenty-six

Posted in kate, RADVENT at 10:13 pm by kate

Someone named meg started something called Radvent (RAD + ADVENT)  this year and she’s publishing a writing prompt for herself and others each day of December. When I read about it I thought it was the best idea I had ever heard, and I am super-excited to take part. Here is the first prompt:

What were you doing five years ago today? As the holiday season began? Where were you? Who were you with? What did you want? What did you have?

1. I am pretty sure I have talked about this time before, but five years ago in August I moved to Canada and got married and my best friend died. By the beginning of September I was working as a nanny for a pair of three-year old twin boys which was hands down the shittiest job I have ever held. I mean, the kids were fine (except for being… three-year old twin boys), but the family had gobs of money, treated me like shit and routinely made me feel hopeless about myself and the world. They also had this massive kitchen with black granite counter tops which were impossible to keep clean. I am not kidding when I say I spent an hour each day either cleaning them or feeling crappy and disgruntled after they failed a surprise inspection. As the holiday season started I was full-on miserable at work which was made so, so, so much worse by the fact that instead of giving me a week’s pay as a holiday bonus, the mother of the family gave me a picture of the kids posing with the Santa Claus from the local mall. This was a particularly thoughtless gift because I had dragged the boys to the mall in heavy pre-holiday traffic at the mother’s insistence and we had waited almost an hour in line to see Santa and the mall was hot and full of children and my charges were acting like monsters (actually, it would be more correct to say that they were acting the way that I felt, for which I cannot blame them) and as much as the whole stupid thing annoyed me while I was experiencing it, getting a photograph of it instead of a large check annoyed me infinitely more.

2. So I was miserable at work and then my husband and I got an extremely handsome puppy named Walter. Walter was a very good puppy (and, as I mentioned, extremely handsome) except that he pissed on the motherfucking floor basically every day for a solid year. We were living in a very beige and very boring apartment on the seventh floor of a very beige and very boring apartment building and neither one of us could waver in focus for even ten minutes lest our extremely handsome dog partake in some casual, impromptu urinating just for the pleasure of it. Still, our first Christmas as a family was gorgeous. We both had the day off. Our apartment was flooded with dusty, late-afternoon sun. I came across an amazing Brady Bunch Christmas special that takes place when the kids are grown and have moved away from home on our tiny, rabbit-ears TV. We got the dog some festive tennis balls (to urinate on) and my new husband bought me a couch from Ikea, which he stored in the backseat of his sports car, unassembled, for more than a week. It was not a very large couch. I got my new husband socks, slippers, a wallet and a Swiss Army Knife, which all told were hints 17-20 of the marriage so far that I had actually married my father, although of course I didn’t realize that for years to come.

3. What I wanted, then, not for Christmas, but out of life, was to be happy, to feel productive and lucky and content.  I desperately wanted to immigrate to Canada and get a real job; a job that used my brain and made me feel valuable, a job that would never, under any circumstances, involve scraping feces out of a brightly-colored pair of Finding Nemo swim trunks.

4. I didn’t get those things then, of course — immigrating took forever and I spent most of my time alternately terrified, apprehensive, miserable and confused — but I feel that way now, in spades, even though I live alone and have been single so long that my left ring finger is no longer marked by a strip of untanned white skin where my wedding ring used to be. I feel that way in spades. I am the very luckiest person I know. I am full of joy. I am finally where I want to be.

 

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