This has been a weird week, right? On Monday it felt like Thursday practically and Wednesday felt like two weeks from now. In a bad way. Monday through Wednesday were bad and I did not like them. But last night, when I was walking home around 8, it was this really perfect temperature outside (36, which is good for needing neither gloves nor a hat but never getting warm enough that you can afford to walk slowly), and I was thinking about how much I really love winter, even though whenever I tell anyone here that they say no, I don’t love winter, I just tolerate it better than other people. Don’t tell me what I love! I really do love winter, at least through January.
I stopped at this bakery I went to during my first week here — when Chiara was trying to soothe me, I think, with the fact that at the very least, this city has sugar — and bought myself a treat (one I felt I was owed because of the bad Monday-Wednesday) and walked away having a nice “New York is not so bad” moment on the street in the cold. It was such a quick and unexpected good mood that I think my face must have looked crazily happy. This is the only explanation I have for the guy wearing earphones, walking as quickly as I was, who raised his coffee to me when we passed each other on the sidewalk. I interpreted this weird little salute very dramatically, like he was saying “It’s OUR time now, the start of winter, when the weak may suffer but you and I will thrive,” and when I passed him I started walking even faster. (This happens to me sometimes, rarely, that I get so happy I feel like running. On the very few times I have actually started to run, I have realized my mistake almost immediately. Running is terrible. So instead I usually just walk a bit faster.)
This weird, manic joy lasted for half a block more, until a rat scurried out from behind a corner and ran right by my feet. I stopped walking to say “Oh, GOD” and shake my hands out, which happened reflexively, like I’d touched it. There were two other people near me on the street and neither of them said anything or even slowed down. A block more after THAT I came upon a woman screaming at her boyfriend on the phone. “YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT MOTHERFUCKER,” she yelled, and people on both sides of the street turned around to look. It went on like this for a while — we were walking in the same direction — and at one point she yelled “No I do NOT want twenty dollars!” which made me laugh, because what if that’s how her boyfriend always tries to end their arguments? “Look, do you want twenty dollars.” (God, that would actually be really infuriating. It’s no wonder she didn’t care if all of Chinatown heard her.)
Anyway, I was still happy when I got home, even if in a tempered way, and I think that means I’m adjusting to this new normalcy scale. But I hope not too much. Because I do not think it is normal to not say anything when you see a rat on the sidewalk. I think if you see a rat on the sidewalk and other people are around, someone should be like “Ahh, did you see that rat?” and the other people should be like “Ew, yes, god,” because then at least you have something in common.
I keep almost writing “I’m doing such a bad job keeping up this Tumblr!” like I used to write in my diaries when I was younger. (“Dear Diary, boy it’s been a long time since I last wrote! You will not believe what’s been happening: nothing.”) I used to date all the pages ahead of time because obviously I always intended to write daily and am also insufferable. Then, obviously, I’d stop writing, and when I’d write some half-hearted thing a few weeks later, I’d have to either cross out a date or skip a chunk of pages. It was like guilting myself ahead of time. Here I have only the present to feel bad about. Haha.
ANYWAY I wrote this thing for The Billfold about the places I lived in Minneapolis with Rylee, and also some about moving to New York.
One of my roommates from college bought a new bong and a new house, and if the former wasn't a good reason to drive up to North Jersey the latter was. So last Sunday morning we were sitting around, blasted, watching some shitty NFL pregame show as one of the borderline-illiterate analysts mentioned holding a running back to less yards. As soon as it left his mouth we each muttered "fewer." Friendship can be strange. No question, just seemed like a weird combination of your last two posts.
Haha. This is weird and cute and nice and thank you for sending it to me.
Two nights ago Chiara met me after work so that we could stop at a Sephora and buy nail polish. (We just needed it.) We walked home afterward, through parts of the NYU campus and then Washington Square Park, and whenever she’d say, “Isn’t this part pretty?” I would look up and see that yes, she was right, it was. I am not sure why I’m not noticing that or thinking that on my own. When we were almost back to our apartment she said, “I feel like you don’t like the city part of New York that much. You’re fine living here but it seems like you kind of hate the actual city.” I was shocked, because I’ve only been here a month and first week aside I feel like I’ve been in good spirits and have not once questioned whether moving here was the right thing to do. I told her she wasn’t totally right, but I guess she wasn’t totally wrong either. I’m not that excited about the structure itself (at least not yet, and it is very early), but I’m not unhappy to be in it.
The F train this morning was extra-crowded, to that point when people are touching fingers to the ceiling or staggering their feet to balance because there aren’t any bars left to hold. It was hot, and slow. This cute, really short couple got on a few stops after I did and stood facing each other, closing up space in each other’s nooks. They were just standing there, her using him for balance, but it was sexy, somehow, at 9:30 in the morning. They’d probably have liked to be off the subway but it was fine. And then, too, on the other side of the car, there was a group of young girls, maybe 13 or 14 years old. You could tell which two were best friends because one stuck her hand through the loop on the top of the other girl’s backpack and held onto it the whole time, kind of yanking her friend around whenever the car jerked into motion. They were going somewhere together. So I think the way I feel about living here is a little like that.
If you want to make an IKEA bed seem like luxury I can’t recommend highly enough sleeping first, for 15 nights, on a fold out couch from which various metal bars stick up so that lying truly flat is possible nowhere on top of it. Just over two weeks into living in New York and I finally have a bed, and a room, and I don’t live out of my suitcase in the “living room” (which requires quotation marks) anymore! The arrival and assembly of my bed happened to coincide with the first truly chilly night of fall. I had my windows open all night and the first thing I wondered about this morning was where I’ll find a substitute apple orchard for the one I love at home. This happens to me every fall: remembering everything there is to look forward to in a rush. Apple picking! Tights! The option to wear my hair straight and have it sort of stay straight, if I wanted! Hot coffee! Pumpkins! Just everything, I love it so much, reliably, the same amount every year.
Here are some things I didn’t know I would love (or at least like) about New York that I do: walking this much; watching people read over other people’s shoulders on the subway; Dunkin Donuts (Minnesotans, for whatever reason, never really took to donut chains); looking up at the gold-plate floor number while I’m climbing up to my sixth-floor walk-up and realizing I’m already on 5 and not just 4 like I thought; the fact that living on said walk-up is, I think, giving me a near-visible butt for the first time in my life; the men who play the Chinese flute most mornings in the park across the street; the inexplicable presence of Sour Punch Straws in the candy jar at work; how much people here hug each other (true that Minnesota is nicer overall, but people here hug more); the perfect movie theater a mile from my apartment. There are things I don’t love but none are all that immediate apart from the person playing trumpet on his balcony in the apartment building behind ours, but I would imagine he has to be ALMOST done, I think? It’s starting to sound a little strained.
Is there a more polite way to say "I understand that your wedding is the most important day of your life, but to me it's just a Saturday, so you planning five days of activities is more than a little over the top. I can't devote a whole week to you, I have stuff to do, like work, so I can buy you that crap from Crate and Barrel."?
I took a while to respond to this so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already suffered through all of this already (haha, sorry bride and groom) and my advice will no longer be of any service. But then again, we both know you’ll have to go through this again in no time.
Five days of activities is WAY OVER THE TOP. I’m with you. A friend of the family once had a wedding preempted by several months of “get-to-know-the-bridal-party” activities — several MONTHS! One thing a month, but still — and while I think they all turned out to be more or less fun for everyone involved, it’s hard for me not to find the very idea ABSURD. Everyone at your wedding, which is a few-hour event at most, does not need to “get to know each other” ahead of time to “bond,” like some weird involuntary summer camp for grown-ups. That is what the actual wedding, and the alcohol at the wedding, are for.
Don’t get me started on weddings (you’ve already gotten me started) because I could rant and rave and alienate dear friends for days but like, I don’t know, there is so much excess involved, money-wise and time-wise, and I’m not that into it in general. However! When I was a teen I had a wedding picture of Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner taped on my closet door because I thought her dress was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, and I wanted it. I probably can’t be trusted to never have romance-and-fairytale-wedding feelings ever again, even though right now I hate them. My point is I think it would be hypocritical of me to advise you to, like, go sit in a tree outside the wedding grounds and yell mean anti-wedding things from a megaphone. This person is your friend, right? I guess you just should do the best you can and be kind and buy that crap from Crate and Barrel and always argue for a bridesmaid dress you can pick from things you already own. Matching bridesmaid dresses are literally the worst thing in the entire world. NOBODY LOOKS VERY GOOD IN STRAPLESS GOWNS FYI!!!
This is true for weddings and friendship and love and internet manners: Be The Change You Wish To See In The World. Haha, sorry, I don’t know how else to say that. If you get married you can do it so different or not at all! But then it will be so annoying because probably nobody will congratulate you for not being obnoxious with your wedding. You can send me a message if that happens and I’ll be like, “ugh, FIGURES.”
Hi Katie, I've really enjoyed reading your perspective on....everything! Lately I've been thinking about how a lot of confusion and hurt from friends possibly comes from relying on that (best)friend for emotional support, but they don't reciprocate or want to be supportive because they have a boyfriend who they look to for that. As a single woman, do you feel that happens to you? I tried googling it but sadly found article about why it sucks to be single. Wah-wah. Thanks! Amy
I’ve been going back and forth on what I think is true here, because at first I was going to say “story of my teen life,” as if I think this is something confined to adolescence or something that gets gradually better as we get older. And I do think it gets a LITTLE bit better, maybe, but then maybe everyone gets MARRIED and it gets way worse?? I don’t know yet, I’m not there yet, thank godddd.
But yes, this is basically how my life went until I was at least 19, and probably even until I was, I don’t know, 23. I think there are a lot of cultural (#patriarchal) reasons for why this romantic-relationship-centrism seems to be worse among girls than boys. I think the hard thing is accepting that while these things are true — and they’re always going to be there as long as you and I are alive, and all we can really do about that is teach our hypothetical children (or maybe just other people’s children, like by going to a park with candy and fliers that say “don’t date, it’s disgusting,”) to try to do it better than we did — they aren’t always TOTALLY to blame? I think I at least spent a lot of time as a, uh, Disillusioned Feminist Teen (and, fine, college student) thinking that, like, the only reason some of my friends didn’t seem to want to hang out as much as I did was because of their idiot boyfriends. Their idiot boyfriends were definitely part of it! But also … some of them didn’t like me as much as I liked them, which, I am reluctant to admit, is a legitimate and legal stance to take. Some of them didn’t want out of the friendship what I wanted. Some of them were just kind of … shitty friends.
So what I’m saying is, I think that part of the problem, yes definitely, is that people in couples can be shitty friends. But I also think a lot of people in general are shitty friends. This is a pretty frequent source of frustration in my life for sure — far less so now that I have Rylee of course! — but I don’t know exactly how much of it has to do with being a single woman vs. just being someone who is alive. I think that it is probably just as hard to find a compatible, reliable, supportive best friend (much less friends, plural) as it is to find someone you might want to marry and live with forever. I guess I knew I had one when the same person who talked to me about all her boyfriends for three hours at least three times a week would ALSO listen to MY annoying, endless, occasionally-maniacal ramblings for similar amounts of time, and have smart and sincere stuff to say about it too. Omg I am so sappy, and it’s even worse right now since I’m about to move. I’ve been hugging like everything. I’m sorry.
I do think it helps to be a little bit pushy, or maybe I just mean clear. A lot of people seem to really hate having arguments and confrontations but I don’t really get how some of this feelings stuff gets worked out otherwise. Telling your friends that they’re being insufficiently supportive (or unequally so) is not going to make ALL of them do better for you — and what’s hard is accepting that they don’t have to if they don’t really want to, but what you want is someone who WANTS to — but I think it will help, eventually, with at least one. I guess most/all of my advice just sounds like “be bossy,” which is fine with me I think.
Is it wrong to bet on the Little League World Series? This is kind of related to texting, bets get texted in. Minnesota and Iowa in a pretty tight game right now.
Haha???? Ahhh ummm ahhh uhhh. We both know that this being related to texting IS A STRETCH, though, for the record, I don’t recall instating an “Only Texting Questions” rule for my ask box. Though I always welcome those too. (“Katie, how should I text?” “Better.”) So, well, I am generally anti-betting and/or gambling (because why throw money away on nothing when you could throw it away on something you can at least keep) BUT because we are talking about Iowa here, as a Minnesotan I feel I’m contractually obligated to tell you that yes, you should bet, on Minnesota.
(ETA: Wait, is there a law against telling people to bet, or anything like that? Omg I’m so worried about laws. I would never encourage anyone to bet on anything. Maybe go in person and boo the children from Iowa. JK do not do that either. Ahh.)
Wait, does your move to New York mean you and Rylee will be apart?? How are you dealing with THAT?
The first thing everyone has said to me when I tell them I’m moving to New York is “Congratulations, that’s so exciting!” The second thing everyone has said to me is, “But what about you and Rylee??” Even you, who are (presumably!) a stranger. It’s so kind and heartwarming and it makes me so happy. It makes me feel like I’m doing a good job making it clear how much I love her.
Three of the almost nine years of our friendship have been long distance: those between our sophomore year of college (after which she transferred schools) and starting grad school together. We kept meeting new people but we never liked any of them as much. I went to Spain and was somehow unable to make any decent friends among the hundred other people there with me (at least in the way I wanted them to be my friends, which is to have, I’m starting to understand, a degree of closeness most people don’t expect from a four-month study abroad program, but what can I say, I like to fall hard) and so I sent these long pathetic Facebook messages to Rylee about how much I wanted to come home. For the first few weeks she told me to keep trying and push myself and really she was right and I was self-pitying but help and advice weren’t what I needed at that exact moment. So I wrote to her and said: can you please just agree with me that the 100 other people in my program are certifiably the worst 100 people in the world, even though it isn’t true, even though you haven’t met them? (If your best friend won’t lie to you about your inherent superiority over anyone you want in times of need, who will?) So she did. For the rest of the program I told her who was the worst and why and she always agreed with me and that blind loyalty made it tolerable to be there, where I was otherwise very lonely and homesick and felt so unwelcome.
But she didn’t really stop pushing me to be more outgoing and confident. She just started sneaking it in, in smaller, easier-to-manage doses, learning when it would be effective and when it wouldn’t. I do this too. In grad school Rylee sometimes wore these XXL red sweatpants — like each leg the size of her full body — of her then-boyfriend’s to class, and I’d ask her, “Rylee, are you really wearing that to our classroom, which is in public,” and she’d get pissed. So I backed down (kind of) and learned a little bit of restraint. My example is so much stupider, so just trust me that I’m a very good friend too, but anyway my point is that the great challenge of our relationship (and maybe lots of relationships?) has been teaching each other how to talk to each other. I think we only figured this out, like, a few months ago. Nine years of learning! We always think there’s other shit going on when we fight but secretly it’s always about this. Colleen says Rylee and I fight about how much we like each other.
We’ve learned to be very smooth about it but we still tell each other what has to be done, and because she is much more fair and empathetic than I am, she told me when I was not yet sure that what I had to do was go to New York. I could never do this for her. I could maybe eventually after many months agree begrudgingly to her going away if I’d exhausted all pseudo-rational arguments to the contrary, but I’d never just say “You should go.” Because what about me?? But she’s been capable of selflessness like that from the start, which I always knew, and that’s one reason why I made her be friends with me.
She also built my dresser for me, because I cannot deal with anything you have to assemble or program. She tells me how to get to the same post office I’ve been to repeatedly and only makes fun of me for STILL not knowing maybe half of the time. She has an inhuman and unreasonable patience for listening to me express the same 3-4 neuroses in what I think are new and unique ways, but are actually not. The shorter answer to your question is: I’m not dealing with it, really. If I think about it too much I won’t go.
The longer answer is that ours has been an often very challenging friendship (especially earlier on) and by this point I’m convinced and she’s convinced that nothing else could possibly happen that would make us not best friends anymore, even something as rude as me upping and moving halfway across the country. I imagine I will spend some time calling her crying from various streets in New York, and when necessary — and she’ll just know — she’ll tell me that it’s true, it’s the worst place filled with the worst people on the planet. And I’ll feel better and she’ll tell me what I need to do to like it more, and I will.
The other short answer is that she bought plane tickets to come visit me before I’d even bought my own to move there.
The good or at least useful thing about moving is that it makes you reckon with yourself through your belongings. In deciding what to keep keeping (for me it’ll always be diaries and letters, though they won’t come to New York but will sit in a box somewhere around here, along with a number of little toys and snow globes and pictures of me I took with friends at school as a ghostly white preteen) and what to finally give up on (clothes! It should always be clothes.) you have to ask yourself what really MATTERS, or at least decide to be ok with being a person who keeps things that don’t matter at all. Because there is no justifiable reason for hanging onto this unopened travel size lotion from some acquaintance at Christmas or the jewelry box I covered in Mod-Podge’d supermodels from fashion magazines when I was 15 and still thought I’d be a fashion designer some day. (lol.) And yet, here they still are.
Mostly each time I move I settle somewhere in between and get rid of a lot but somehow have a lot still leftover. Among the things that have stayed is a small reserve of secretarial/Pam Beesly-esque/office-y clothing I needed for jobs between college and grad school and haven’t needed since. I can’t imagine I’m the only writer/blogger hanging onto a handful of boring oxford shirts and pencil skirts in case I end up back in an office where it’s not okay to wear animal t-shirts. I’ve thought of them like a safeguard or a back-up plan and maybe vaguely believed that if I acknowledged needing them someday was POSSIBLE I wouldn’t ever actually need them at all. However! There is no room in my new place for this kind of nervous pragmatism. It took me a few attempts but this is the move that finally leaves all my cheap and horrible Express work pants — that store used to at least be reliable for that kind of thing, but now even these would probably have crystallized seams. A separate issue. — behind.
Lately I’ve been having a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings because soon I will move to New York and this bed that I love is not coming with me. I gave up on it reluctantly, first admitting it would probably be more trouble than it was worth to move it, and later realizing that it would probably/definitely not fit in my new room anyway. The one I buy there will have to be smaller. (There’s only so much you’re allowed to joke about the smallness of apartments in New York, I know. I suppose I don’t use all this floor space for much now, anyway.)
I bought the bed two years ago from a design warehouse where my mom buys things for her clients. It was on an upper floor between two other mattresses and I tested each of them like Goldilocks. (Beds are a weird thing to test in front of other people, even your mom. It would be like standing in mock showers in a tile store. Do people do that? It’s mostly fine if you act normal, but you do realize that in real life sometimes you will be in there naked, and it’s weird for anyone else to be standing there, knowing you must be thinking about that.)
I don’t move much/at all when I sleep so I’ve never taken up more than my side but the last few mornings I’ve been shifting myself into a diagonal across it. It is so comfortable that it’s starting to hurt me. On Monday I kind of cried about it — like that kind of joke-y laugh whining that accidentally turns into real crying, not crying that’s deeply sad but still produces real tears — and yelled to Rylee in the other room, “I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THIS BED!” And she came and sat down next to me on it and tried to tell me that it is just a bed, which is right, but still. Then she said, “Do you think, also, that this is maybe not just about the bed?” and she was right about that too. I am so, so excited. But I won’t be able to call for her and have her come in my room and sit down next to me, always on TOP of the pillows instead of against them, which she does even on couches, and I don’t get why, and it drives me crazy, and the thing is I’ll probably end up missing even that specific thing. It’s more that kind of thing I’ll miss than my bed. But my bed too.
What scary (ghost/haunting/paranormal-wise, not serial killer-wise) movies should a person see if a) her favorite scary movie is The Orphanage, b) she liked/was at least a little scared by the newer The Woman in Black (partly in spite of Daniel Radcliffe, though really he was fine, but so young and small) and c) found the following “scary movies” insufficiently/not at all scary:
- The Conjuring (It’s fiiine. But does every ghost these days have to be a woman in a dirty nightgown with raggedy wet-looking hair?)
- Mama (ok fair, everyone said this was bad)
- Paranormal Activity (THIS IS SO BORING AND I DON’T GET IT)
- The Shining (Good! But not SCARY.)
- Cabin in the Woods (lol)
I seriously want to have to cover my eyes at least a quarter of the time to make it through. What am I missing??
C:I know. I was in lab mixing up a cast. And he comes in right after I mixed this stuff up, and I have too much stone. Liquid stone.
C:He's like fumbling around next to me, reaching over me, so I'm like, "You can use some of mine."
C:He knows I'm kind of weird I think. So anyway he was like, "Did you use slurry water in it?" and I was like "yeah" and he was like "oh really?"
C:He looked at it, and I could tell he wanted to use it.
K:I BET he did.
C:I was like, stirring it and showing him.
C:And I was like, "I don't want to rush you." Because as you wait, it hardens.
C:So he didn't use it, and he went to use this new machine instead. And on his way out I turn to him and stare enough where he feels me looking at him. So he turns to me and I ask, "What's that thing?" And he told me.
[*Hot Tyler is NOT the same as the first-year crush. Hot Tyler is a year ahead of Colleen in dental school, and was collectively dubbed "Hot Tyler" by she and I, as ... a nickname, because ... he is really, really hot. (He is also engaged.) Stay tuned for more developments on the first-year crush, who will soon be a second-year. Haha.]
I always watch Ask a Grown Man (and I’ve blogged about this repeatedly) largely because it’s very adorable and sweet and encouraging, but also because occasionally one of the guys says something that stuns me to my core. (It’s a good learning tool.) Today the shocking news comes courtesy of Vampire Weekend: in response to a teenage girl who writes in to ask what it means if her crush talks to her about crushes he has on another girls, they nod knowingly and say things like, “Oh yeah, classic flirtation move,” and insist that this is a way to gauge interest, by examining how the girl responds.
But wait: WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!
I mean, honestly, I would have written that kind of thing off as an unequivocal bad sign. I watched the video not twenty minutes ago, and then I gchatted my (girl) friend about this, all alarmed like, “have you heard of this, what would you think about some guy telling you about his crushes,” and she agreed with me, and then we consulted the nearest guys, and they sided with Vampire Weekend here. I mean, that is the craziest shit I ever heard. (I try to avoid generalizations because I am no gender essentialist but JESUS CHRIST, sometimes!!) How any two people ever manage to match up their conflicting neuroses and perceptions and strategies and timelines in order to form a happy romantic union is beyond the confines of my understanding.
God. We humans think so stupidly. “I like this person so maybe I will tell her I like other people.” “I like this person so I will not talk to him at all, all day.” Haha. I just love all of it. But also, again, what the fuck.
Today when she got home from walking to the post office Rylee walked into my room and sat on the end of my bed. After we caught each other up on our respective past twenty minutes, she noticed that two guys — near our age, maybe younger — were sitting on her “patio,” which is just two chairs she’s situated around a handful of flat stones she put in the garden outside my window. Probably they do not know it is “ours” because it just looks like it belongs to the apartments. I’ve told Rylee to put a six-foot fence around it but she never listens. Anyway she scooted closer to the window and listened to them talk — “I’m just spying on them,” she said, and I said “That’s fine.” — because they were in OUR chairs, right out there. She listened for a few minutes and then scooted back over towards me. “Boys are so stupid,” she said. I guess the conversation she listened in on went like this:
Guy 1: “I saw a girl.”
Guy 2: “Oh yeah? Was she a cutie?”
Guy 1: “Yeah.”
Guy 2: “Are you going to talk to her?”
Guy 1: “Yeah.”
"And that was it!!!!" Rylee said. Then they moved onto another topic. That was the ENTIRE conversation they were going to have about a crush one of them had on a cute girl. The whole thing!! We couldn’t believe it.
What is the deal with (seemingly) otherwise-intelligent people who take astrology seriously?
YO, the idea that intelligent people can’t be into weird and supernatural and magic shit is THE MOST BORING. Do you know for sure that everyone born in the same month isn’t tied together in personality by some cosmic pattern, or that the planet Mercury going retrograde every few months isn’t at least a LITTLE to blame for an especially bad work week, or that aliens haven’t visited us like a hundred times in little silver spaceships wearing little silver outfits? I mean, we could both be pretty sure. It’s not that likely, probably. But who cares! Why not imagine something crazy! (Also, there’s a difference between taking astrology “seriously” and thinking it’s a fun way to understand yourself and the people around you, and to talk about it with other girls especially, because usually they get it. And it’s fun to act as though certain days of the month or year are good luck because of some moon visiting some planet’s house. Every month my horoscope tells me that, like, HALF the days in the month are going to be “good days for love.” Half the month! It is nice of these people to be so optimistic. Anyway, I don’t know anyone who believes, to whatever degree, in astrology who doesn’t have a sense of humor about it. And for those who don’t, they are fine too, and I think probably very fun to hang out with.)