creative nonfiction

Criminal Minds: Credit Card Edition

I went most of my life without a credit card because I have the kind of self-control that would likely start with me buying a few moderately-priced but unnecessary items (“Hedgehogs are on sale? I’ll take thirty.”) and would promptly spiral into a situation in which the floorspace in my apartment would be replaced with puppies, stylish boots and “As Seen on TV” x-ray goggles and then I’d have to buy a jetpack to get to the bathroom without smooshing them all. This way of life is probably not a good idea for health and noise complaint reasons, but the thought of jetpacking around my apartment shooting dog treats from a hand cannon while drinking milkshakes out of one of those beer helmets almost mitigates the fear of devastating credit card debt and potential eviction, particularly the prospect of training my seven puppies to howl in harmony like fuzzy widdle von Trapps and riding their coattails to the top since I seem to have no discernable talents of my own. I’d make my curtains into dog costumes if they weren’t so ugly and my idiot hands didn’t have the dexterity of a toddler doing calligraphy with their feet.

I did have a credit card when I was younger for emergency purposes only…

Hired Hands in The Wild Wild Western Suburbs

My biggest problem, if I had to admit to one (aside from my totally rational fear of fruit), is my seeming determination to make the same mistakes over and over again. Like how I keep thinking I can pull off blonde hair (it might help if I didn’t keep going to cheap salons and ending up with a color less “Blonde” and more “Dehydrated Pee Yellow”) and how I have made out with not one, but three, improv actors. Which is great if you like noisy dudes in skinny ties, but problematic if you are made uncomfortable by emphatic gesticulation and disproportionate reactions when doing such innocuous things as ordering a beer they’re not particularly fond of or breaking up with them out of left field. (You’re clamorously pretending to ride a statue in a city park for the third time today? Yes, and... I think we should see other people.)

I had a hard time finding a full-time job after college, and it got to a point where…

Beauty is Pain, First Impressions are Forever

I started a new job in March after almost six months of unemployment. I had worked at my previous company for six years, so beginning a new role at that point was a herculean task, like diving headfirst into fog-obscured depths or dragging yourself to the kitchen pantry when you’ve run out of bed-donuts. Unemployment is a slippery beast. You always think you’re going to get all this stuff done when approached with an abundance of free time, but then suddenly it’s two months later (or is it three? Who can tell?) and you’re picking crumbs out of your bed sheets while Friends barrels through its fourth consecutive loop. You didn’t clean the apartment like you meant to. And you definitely didn’t write that novel. But you did discover several plot holes in a show that’s been off the air for fourteen years and you only posted about it on Facebook like twice, so accomplishment comes in many forms. Successes like these make the world go round. And so does self-delusion.

A few weeks after I started…

Why Have Fun Vices When You Can Be Sweaty Instead?

Today marks one month on the patch and one month smoke-free. I celebrated by working out for the first time in months, and by working out, I mean doing a surprisingly grueling six minute phone app circuit under the supervision of my cat, who was, of course, staring me dead in the eye and licking her butthole the entire time. Which I took as a sort of encouragement to cleanse myself of former bad habits. I can do this! I thought to myself, her metered slurps like a chant propelling me onward. Kate! Kate! Kate! Kate! Emboldened, I obeyed the robotic voice emanating from my phone, my scalp beading with sweat, which is the only place I sweat most of the time, so even in comfort, I look like it's raining. I jumping-jacked, I squat-jumped, I crunched. I gritted my teeth and worked the fuck out. The minutes went by like kidney stones through a urethra, and I thought, well, this sucks. I'd rather chew off my own foot and then legally marry it than do this again. And then timer rang. My six minutes was up. I heaved myself out of the push-up position and then strutted over to the mirror. You look the same, but damp and sad. Hell yeah. Day One in the books.

Written After Four Days of Quarantine Due to a Nasty Bout of the Flu in Which I Have Had Zero Social Contact with Actual Human Beings and Am Starting to Freak Out

Captain's Log: Day Four

Cabin fever is beginning to set in. I haven't seen the sunlight or known a man's touch in four endless days. The cat paces wearily about the apartment, longing desperately for the stimulation and companionship my enfeebled mind can no longer provide. As the sun stretches lazily across the afternoon sky, I seize an opportunity. Clad only in soup-stained sweats and salty snow boots, I descend the stairs with the tepid anticipation of one who has nothing left, a husk of the woman I had once striven to be. Timidly, I open the door and the wind rushes my face, stealing my breath. I set an intrepid course for CVS, strangers floating past me like ghosts, as if in a dream, their faces contorting before me with such hideously transparent ponderings as, "The shadow of death is imminent upon her" and "Egads! What’s that smell?" I can no longer comprehend their horror. I have been gone away too long.

I return fifteen minutes later…

Youthful Ignorance and Michael Jordan: A Betrayal Like No Other

If you were to describe me to someone who hasn’t met me, you might say such things as: “She will use any excuse to show you a picture (or several) of her cat“; or, “She is unbearably pedantic about Harry Potter”; or, ”It is probably not wise to ask her to share her cheese plate.” All of these descriptors would be accurate. But the characteristic of my personality that has perhaps gotten me into the most trouble is my unparalleled ability to trust the things that people tell me without question. I believed my high school friend’s claim that she was an extra in Remember the Titans (she wasn’t), and someone once convinced me that motorcycles didn’t have to obey traffic laws because their engine would melt if they stopped moving (it doesn't). But in one particular circumstance, this blind trust of mine got me in trouble in the most egregious way.

The year was 1996. I was a cultured, savvy nine year old…