Buy the right size.

It’s jeans season again, folks! Here’s a rumination on clothing.

There is a special place in fashion heaven reserved for the countless belt loops I ripped off ill-fitting jeans between the ages of probably 12 and 23, or so. These flimsy strips of fabric detached from the top of my jeans seemingly without effort, unable to withstand the force of my desperate tugging on denim that wouldn’t give. I would feel the waistband sliding down my back, dangerously close to revealing an ass crack, slipping under the fat roll that hangs over my belly button, whether I was standing in the lunch line or sitting at my desk at work. I loved fall but dreaded the change of clothes, giving up too-tight shorts—sure, I had a camel toe, but I looked cute from behind, right?—for unforgiving clingy pants fabric.

Continue reading Buy the right size.


So you didn’t get into that masters program

So you’ve been sitting in an international airport for three hours, now waiting on a flight that’s been delayed by an hour.

So you can’t watch the Homeland first season finale because Amazon won’t allow it to play on your U.S. device in a foreign country.

So you checked your email and noticed a couple messages in the spam folder — including something called “Graduate Admissions Decision.”

So you clicked on it with bated breathe and saw only four short paragraphs, wishing you luck in your future endeavors.

So it’s the day after your birthday. It’s fine; you’re not bitter. Continue reading So you didn’t get into that masters program

On cats, fate, and facing the end

I’ve lost two pets in my life, but never have I been this close to the end with one of them. I hate this and I need to share it. (This is a long read.)

On January 12, my cat Kismet had surgery to remove most of a tumor from her cheek. As the day approached, we hadn’t even been sure she would be able to 1) have the surgery or 2) make it through alive. She’s sixteen years old and, as we learned at a vet appointment just two weeks before, she apparently has a heart murmur. The day before surgery, she had an echocardiogram to make sure her heart was strong enough; luckily, it was. One hurdle down.

Continue reading On cats, fate, and facing the end

Life in the basement

We’re no longer the butt of a joke — we’re it, honey.

“I can’t do my laundry, I’m having an existential crisis. GOD, MOM.”

It’s typical comedy fodder: the poorly-dressed, frumpy thirty-something male comes upstairs from his basement lair and demands something ridiculous and childish — he wants his mother to make him dinner, or do his laundry, or read him a bedtime story. The audience laughs. A company sells insurance policies or microwave dinners. Everyone goes home happy.

I’m not happy.

Continue reading Life in the basement

On breathing fire

I went through an awkward phase (as most of us did) when I found myself super self-conscious about how my breath trailed out in puffs of white whenever it got even just a tiny bit cold. It never seemed to be happening to anyone else, and I felt like a weirdo even when it was 15 degrees and everyone could see everyone else’s breathing, filling the air with fog.

It was just one item on a laundry list of things I hated about myself. Continue reading On breathing fire

On life in the big city

NYC is tough, and it’s getting harder to tell myself I’m tougher. (But I’ll keep working at it.)


When I was 12, I imagined graduating college and floating off into my brand new Adult Life. I would have a job and an apartment, and I’d be able to hang up the posters I wanted and pick out my own couch. (How much could a couch cost? Honestly?)

When I got into college and shipped up to Boston for the next four years, I started daydreaming about finding an apartment near campus and staying there until something better came along, like becoming editor-in-chief at a publishing house or getting married. I was fond of telling myself that there were basically three cities I could live in for the publishing future I wished to have —  New York (where I wasn’t then interested in living), Boston (where I was), and London (which was and, even after having visited, remains, to me, an unattainable fantasy land). And I sure as hell wasn’t going back to New York. It’s where I’d come from! I basically lived there. My grandmother lives there. Why would I go back?

Wouldn’t that be failing?

I am twenty-three and I have a job in my preferred field. I have ideas for other things I’d like to learn and do. I have writing projects in mind. And yet, I occasionally still feel the need to tell myself that I’m failing.

Continue reading On life in the big city

I got a letter from seventeen-year-old Katie today

On high school, nostalgia, and reaching for the stars so as not to let down your teenaged self, who is still out there in a parallel universe, rooting so desperately for you to make it

This handwriting, though.
This handwriting, though.

Nearly six years ago, I was sitting in Health class when our very pregnant teacher told us about a project we would be doing. I don’t remember the specifics now and I don’t know why we dove into this undertaking in glorified sex ed, but she told us that we would be writing letters to ourselves. And in five years, once we were all out of high school, maybe out of college, maybe working, maybe married, she would mail them to us and we could see how far we’d come. Immediately, we all doubted her ability to remember to put the damn letters in the mail, because high school children care only about making teachers look bad, but we were assured that she had “a system” and our letters would be safely delivered to the address we provided on our SASEs.

So, somewhere along the way, I convinced myself it was only four years between the writing and the mailing–the length of college, if one was driven or rich or lucky, or at least enough time to get your feet under you. So when the letter didn’t appear immediately following college graduation, I figured everyone had been right, our Health teacher had forgotten us, and I’d never get to know what seventeen-year-old Katie had to say about her (my? our?) life.

And then I got home today, eager to collect a Barnes & Noble order I’ve been waiting to see since mid-April, and my letter was waiting for me, like the #TBT of Teen Angst Past. Continue reading I got a letter from seventeen-year-old Katie today