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.
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.
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.
We are all busy people here. We all have jobs and families and friends and maybe relationships and hobbies and extracurricular activities. But if you’re reading this, I’ve like to think you’re also a book lover — and an avid reader.
Sometimes, the other stuff gets in the way. I know all too well the agony of having to close the book and start a new day at the office, yearning to dive back into the fictional land in which you lived for all of your commute.
But I also know that there are ways to read a book — even two or three! — even in the most hectic work week. And I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned over this last year and a half of working and commuting and generally being a real adult who ALSO gets to read books. Enjoy.
Rule 1: ALWAYS have a book with you, even when you think you won’t have time to read.
It’s always when you think you won’t need something — an umbrella, a certain folder, an old Word doc you haven’t opened in six years — that it ends up becoming the only thing that can save you. You may want to get some work done on the train on your commute; you might be banking on chatting with a friend or colleague on the way; maybe you just downloaded the next juicy installment of your favorite podcast. But if you find yourself caught up on work (or maybe not in quite the right mood to get to work), or if your phone dies (for shame!), you’ll really kick yourself for not having your trusty book at hand.
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
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.