Friday, September 2, 2011

In which Jenny Lewis leads to greater self-awareness.

"You Are What You Love" - Jenny Lewis
With the Watson Twins

This song popped into my head this morning, after a few years of almost forgetting it existed. It's one of those songs that reminds me of a specific time, place, or feeling. A certain Neko Case song is reminiscent a difficult goodbye. Most Liz Phair songs remind me of what it was like to be in a sexually and emotionally confusing relationship. Play me the right Belle & Sebastian song, and I am transported to a dimly lit room in a moment so exhilarating and exciting that I forget about the coffin in the corner.

With this song, I remember, clear as a bell, being 19 years old and heartbroken for an entire summer. I had experienced two romantic flops in less than 2 months' time. These duds followed startingly identical trajectories: Meet guy. Slowly flirt and bat eyelashes. Make out. Flirt more. Fool around. CELL PHONE SILENCE. For someone as young and inexperienced as I, this double-feature of lameness devastated me. I would hole myself up in my room and listen to the same songs over and over again, this one being featured heavily. After spending many nights smoking Marlboro Lights and sneaking malt beverages on my back patio, I became convinced that I was experiencing the worst heartbreak and that I was destined for a lifetime of unrequited loves. I took the pain and ran with it, catastrophizing everything.

Years later, I don't take it so personally when flirtations fizzle out. I know now that it's very common and typically for the better. I know that not all romantic entanglements have to be novels; most are short stories and some are just blurbs. And, hello? It's totally his loss. The point is, when this kind of thing has happened to me recently, I brush it off and move on. I can say, "No big swig" to something that would have caused me indescribable pain only five years ago. That right there, is proof of lifetime progress. I have learned how to survive pain and disappointment. Better than that, I am much better at seeing things for what they are. It could have just been the product of more life experience, but it's also possible that at some point I made the conscious decision that feeling like a victim is simply not an option, especially such a trivial issue as boys. I grew up, forged on, and survived the perils of my hormones. 

So when I thought of that song, I could remember feeling such a painful association with this it, but I could not, for the life of me, recall why I had identified so strongly with it at that time. I've had similar crummy situations since then, as recently as this summer, and I just can't see myself responding with such pain. When something like that happens now, I brush it off and walk away. I take a moment to acknowledge the disappointment and move on. There are much greater heartaches to endure, much higher mountains to climb.

This disparity of response is reassuring to me. It's reassuring to know that the pain, frustration, and confusion I currently feel towards my personal life is completely tolerable. In five years, it might even seem trivial and laughable. It sucks right now, but I have to fight through it. I was obviously able to do it in college, as I stopped caring about those two lame boys by the end of that summer. I moved on. I forged on despite my heavy heart when I was 19, and the light at the end of that tunnel was the absolute brightest I had ever seen. It can happen again. I will find a new light at the end of this tunnel, too. I just have to keep fighting, keep surviving. The reward that is waiting for me will be...unimaginably wonderful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

This deserves a happy dance...

Excuse me, I have to get this out of my system:


After weeks of answering Craigslist ads, I finally landed an interview for a part-time office position. After prepping for the interview with a new power outfit and an intense performance of "The Edge of Glory" (followed by an encore of "Bad Romance") in the shower, I felt confident and powerful

Try and stop me, universe.

I start Monday and I am really looking forward to all of the new opportunities that are bound to come my way. I knew I could do this. I really, really did. 


What made you feel confident and powerful this week?

Monday, August 22, 2011

How I spent my summer vacation

The end of August has always been an exhilarating time for me. In the past, I have been dizzy with excitement thinking of all that Back To School season implies: new knowledge to be had, new friends to be made, new opportunities to be seized. (Not to mention new supplies to be purchased.)

An essential part of the Back to School experience is the process of rewinding the film and examining the summer months: Did I make the most of my summer? Have I adequately prepared myself for the challenges ahead? Do I have any regrets? While I may not be returning to school this fall, I see no reason why I cannot adopt this spirit and reflect on my summer.

Here are the facts: I was unemployed. I stayed in most weekend nights. I was in a relationship that finally fell apart. I kept to myself, hunkered down in my basement. I watched a lot of Netflix.

In the past, I would have been embarrassed by this summer. There were no grand adventures, I didn't come away with epic tales of debauchery and rebellion...and I am more than okay with that. I am confident that my seemingly sad and wasted summer was actually one of the most important times in my life. This summer, I became a student of the self.

What does that mean, "student of self?" It means that I have begun the process of unpacking a lifetime of pain. It means that I am working toward breaking the cycle. It means that I am learning the tremendous power of becoming self-aware. It is the hardest work I have ever done, but it was this work that got me through this tumultuous time in my life. 

What did this "work" entail? I wrote in my journal with a brutal honesty that I have never allowed myself. When faced with uncomfortable situations or thoughts, I actively examined them and dug deep to the roots, rather than running away from them. I asked myself the toughest questions one can ask, all in the name of a better life through self-awareness. I would not rest until I fully believed that I am a unique human event. I know myself now. I know my worth and I don't question it for a moment.

I'm grateful for the time I spent alone this summer. As much as loneliness frightens me, I desperately needed solitude for this work. It was an education in truly experiencing my emotions. I willingly sat in some intense feelings, both fresh and long-ignored, and embraced their raw truths. Each wave of human feeling was a lesson: Pain is temporary. Knowing myself is permanent.

How I spent my summer vacation. I cried. I mourned. I felt intense rage. It wasn't exciting or glamorous and, at times, it wasn't particularly fun, but I have zero regrets about how I chose to spend my time. I am filled with the same exhilaration I felt as a child going back to school. I spent my summer learning about my self and have built a ferocious appetite for it. The next chapter of my education as a student of self is just beginning, and I am ready for every lesson that comes my way. Nothing can stop me, now that I have a stronger self of self.

A stronger sense of Kait.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My week in bullet points: April 4-10, 2011

Spring is has been such a tease this week, but even though she only teases, she still fuels my positive moods and my productivity. Here's a taste of what I did this week, just in case you missed it.
  • I was in the city this week with Rachel Rabbit White talking to a Korean television crew about No Makeup Week. It was a fun experience and it was great to spread the word about a project that I loved participating in. Of course, I am awkward and sometimes I do awkward things in front of strangers, like this: Cameras make me awkward. And boring.
  • Justin and I went out! With other people! And sang karaoke! This probably doesn't sound exciting, but I haven't been out with Justin like this in months, so it was incredibly exciting for me.
  • I had a fabulous Saturday! The weather was lovely, so I took Weetzie Dog to the playground down the street. She hated it, I loved it. I took in the weather and the budding trees. I especially enjoyed the swings, as I always do: Higher! Go higher!
  • The entirety of yesterday was spent with Netflix. I don't regret it.
One last thing! My friend Jackie is running a half marathon for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and she needs support in all forms! For any of you that have participated in charity races or Relay For Life events, you know that meeting your fundraising goal can be difficult and that sometimes, asking your friends and family for help can be awkward. Blood cancers are the #2 cause of death in children and LLS is dedicated to looking for a cure. Please visit her fundraising site here and donate to this important cause. You can also support Jackie by checking out her blog, Jax Race. It chronicles her adventures in running and preparing for her half marathon in September.

Alright, I'm out. Have a good week, everyone!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Higher! Go higher!

I'm an adult who loves playground swings. I always have. For a kid who was afraid of just about anything (from needles to zoo animals), I conquered the swings. My awkward long legs let me soar higher than all the other kids. Queen of the Swings, that was me.

I still soar on playground swings every time the opportunity presents itself. Years of practicing my swinging stride allow me to be sky high in virtually no time. I'm free up there. My mind is completely blank. It's the one time when my mind isn't racing, when I'm not worrying about things I have to do, or reading too much into the littlest things. When I'm on the swings, the gears in my mind stop turning. I am fully in the moment, and I never want it to end. I never want to come down from that high place in the sky; I never want to come down from the high of the adrenaline rush. I can see myself just going up, up up...

Higher! Go higher! For the other kids, it was a dare, a challenge. For me, that push to go higher was a necessity. I needed to fly higher, farther from the world below and closer to somewhere new. Somewhere special. A place where I could be myself and love myself without anxiety or pressure or teasing. As an adult, I know that I can't logically go higher; my sight line is already far above the bar (and, hello, gravity). Even knowing this, something about the swings still forces me to push. That need to soar and escape is undeniable.

With each playground communion, I feel closer to something great, something wonderful. The swings allow me to have a private and intimate moment with myself. I find myself simply breathing and feeling the air around me, examining how it feels to be in my body. I can shut everything out and enjoy the simplicity of the experience: no noise, no distractions, no racing thoughts...just bliss.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cameras make me awkward. And boring.

File this under: "Evidence Of Kait's Supreme Awkwardness"

So yesterday I was in the city with Rabbit...and a film crew (more on that much much later). Later in the afternoon, we all walked to a local coffee shop to shoot some footage of Rabbit and I "working." We figured we could easily pretend to do work and we pretty much didn't need to. We sat with our computers open, talking about projects and brainstorming some things.

Buuuut I ran into a problem with fake working when the cameraman decided that he needed of closeup shot of me doing work. So I figured if I typed I was typing, I would look very serious and very productive...until the camera was right in my face and I was struck with anxiety. My brain seized up and here, dear friends, is what I typed while I was "working" for the camera:

Fake work! Fake work is fun. Doing fake work with no makeup is interesting. I am eating some delicious pie right now. The employees called us "models" when they thought we couldn't hear. Models with no makeup. HAHAAAAA
There is a camera on my face right now so I am FAKE BLOGGING. I have nothing to say but I feel really awakward doing NOTHING so instead I type. About nothing. With my apple pie. 

Special, right? I would also, from time to time, stop writing, stare at the screen, tap the "Delete" key furiously, and the re-type the same awkward sentence. And, to calm anyone's nerves, my laptop screen was not in the shot, just my face.

I'm feeling that awkwardness clutching my brain again, so I have no idea how to end this post. Fin.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My week in bullet points: March 28-April 3, 2011

Better late than never, right? Here's what I did this week, just in case you missed it.
  • On the blog, I recapped my Spring Getaway to Southern Illinois: Part One and Part Two
  • My best friend (who has an insightful blog about art and life in New York City, btw) sent me a link to this great blog: Le Dog Blog. If you love happy, smiling puppies as much as I do, I highly recommend you clickclickclick!
  • Also, spent a good portion of my week, laughing at this video: My Little Pony meets The Dark Knight
  • Almost got into a fistfight with some librarians. First telling me I didn't return of my DVD's (hello, I'm ncredibly anal, I always return two DVD's at once, it's what I do on Mondays) and then they had me run back upstairs to see if the DVD was on the shelf. I worked in DVD rental, I know how it goes, but come on, in my day the employee was the one who did the running around to see if another employee made a mistake, i'mjustsaying.
  • I did a lot of personal journaling this week, thinking about my introduction into love, dating, and sex. It's stuff I haven't really thought about in a long time and it's taken me to some dark, painful places, but I think I will eventually be able to make something good out of this. :-)
  • I didn't fall victim to ANY April Fool's Day pranks. My friends/family are not jokesters and skepticism reigned supreme!
  • Had a crazy Sunday date with Justin, complete with a good movie (Cedar Rapids) and screaming hooligan children at the Cheesecake Factory. The dinner was a little fraught with stress thanks to a booth a little girls behind me who ran around the restuarant (two of whom actually leaned or fell into our booth) and threw cheesecake at their tween "supervisor," but it's always lovely to have a day out with my boyfriend, especially after a busy, moody week.