Dating When You’re 23 vs. Dating When You’re 27

For the past five years, I’ve been in two serious relationships. In these five years, so much has changed. Donald Trump became president, Beyonce did NOT win Album of the Year for her faultless Lemonade, and Outback Steakhouse stopped offering blooming petals as a steak topper (the truest tragedy of them all).

You know what has also changed? Dating. All eligible bachelors are either married/engaged/deeply in love with a perfect woman who has shiny hair and deworms orphans in Somalia. Or they’re good looking and have options, therefore they don’t have to settle for me. All other jokers are either deeply flawed humans, immature fuckbois, or dumb. Sometimes a combination of the three.

And sussing out which is which can be tricky. Recently, I was at a party mainlining vodka sodas and I reached a level only I was on. I was in the space before full blackout but past creating any tangible memories. I found myself talking to a guy about something (who knows what, really) when I just put it to him bluntly.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” I asked.

“Uh…yeah I do,” he replied.

“You’re wasting my time right now,” I said, beelining for more vodka.

The next day my roommate assured me my drunken antics weren’t that bad (“you just got really loud,” she confessed with a grimace that wasn’t really convincing). I had some McDonald’s and let the hangover anxiety set in.

I’m not a 23 year old anymore. I am over trying to get people to like me. Specifically, men. Back when 23-year-old Kate was running the show, I was constantly trying to impress men. Why? Because I had this notion that if I impressed them with my sexuality or whatever that maybe – just maybe – they would eventually see past that and see me for who I truly was. You know how many times that actually happened? 0. 

But 27-year-old Kate is older and wiser. She’s also 10 pounds heavier and way more bitter. And she is done trying to impress people or make them love her.

I was at the bar the other night talking to a gentleman – we’ll call him Kevin, because his name was actually Kevin – when he made me an offer I could refuse. Namely, he promised a night I “wouldn’t forget” after knowing me for approximately 7 seconds.

“Look,” he put it to me. “I can do things to you you’ve never even heard about.”

I let him down easy (“um, that’s a big no from me…”) but he persisted. What would it take for me to go home with him? He promised me the moon and the stars, he told me all the things he can do with his mouth – which was an upsetting amount of things – and then topped it off by offering me a night of unbelievable pleasure.

But here’s the thing. I’m not 23 anymore. I am 27. Dating is not about having a few fleeting minutes of a stranger writhing on top of  you in the hopes that, in the morning, he will maybe call you for an awkward dinner at a low brow Sizzler. It’s about finding someone who likes the same stuff as you and who tolerates you at your worst (aka when recounting the plotlines of Real Housewives in excruciating detail.)

A night of pleasure for me includes no less than one bottle of Merlot, a cheese pizza doused in ranch and Facebook stalking the most attractive people from my graduating class. A great addition to this would be a nice guy who is preferably six foot or taller, hates the same people as I do, and isn’t into butt stuff. Is that too much to ask?

So until that happens, this is where you’ll find me:

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I’m So Old

Where were you when you figured out you weren’t young anymore?

I was in my bathroom after taking a shower, examining a rogue chin hair sticking out of a beauty mark that made me look like some sort of witch. I leaned in closer to the mirror, squinting my eyes and thrusting my double chin forward to make out the beginnings of my beard when a whole new monstrosity was staring me right in the eyes.

My boobs.

Holy shit, I said to myself, slowly backing away from the mirror. Did my… Are my boobs… sagging??

I started weighing them in my hands – then with the kitchen scale (big apologies to my roommate, not the appropriate use for that I’m sorry) – but it just made me feel worse. Like juggling balls, I propelled them up and down, wondering if sheer will could keep them afloat. Remember where they were when I was 18 years old? Times were better then – I was 15 pounds lighter, I was still a virgin, my dreams and optimistic spirit were still in tact. The best part of all? Gravity hadn’t yet clamped its cruel hands on my taut body.

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, I know I am 27 and that is not old. I am not saying I am old. I am saying I am not young. Well, I guess that I’m not youthful, so to speak. Because there’s a difference between being young and youthful.

Being young is being, well, young. I have not yet met middle age, and if I stay on this current trajectory, I can guarantee that won’t be pretty either. But it’s also a fact that I cannot keep up with myself from yesteryear. It’s very en vogue right now for people my age to joke about how much they love staying in because they’re old – I’m so old omg I’d rather stay in drinking wine and watching Housewives than go to a bar – well same. But that’s because I’m poor. No one talks about, though, the real effects of getting “old.”

Like when is the last time you had a regular shit? Ew gross! Get over it. It’s a bodily function everybody poops OKAY. You know when I realized things were not looking up for ya girl Katie J? When my mother and I had a serious discussion about the benefits of fucking Activia.

“It works,” she implored me over and over, while relaying her own experiences with various types of probiotic yogurt in an upsetting amount of detail. She then quizzed me on whether I’m getting enough fiber (maybe you’re eating too much bread), if I’m drinking enough water (your brothers drink too much pop I’m getting worried about them), and if I was taking a multivitamin (prenatal vitamins are great – even for people like you… Oh don’t look at me like that you know what I mean, you’re so sensitive.) 

The worst part? I went out and got some fucking Activia. And I ate it like it directs you to on the back of the package and it worked. IT WORKED.* Paid for by Activia! 

I don’t know what it’s like for men getting older, but for women (more specifically, me) every single day I notice something new on my body that makes me shudder in horror. I developed a new stretch mark, for instance, without gaining or losing weight. I found a white hair on my head that, at first, I thought was a blonde hair from the sun and was excited about but then realized it was just a white hair and was sad. I bought a bra that has an elaborate pulley system to hoist my loose knockers further from my vagina and closer to my face, because hey, my eyes are up here.

The reality truly hit me, though, when I saw a social media post from a graduating HIGH SCHOOL senior who said she truly felt like an old woman being 18. What I wouldn’t give to be 18 again. I’d tell myself to ignore the haters, to love yourself more, and to not drink that Four Loko at the 2010 State vs. Michigan game. But here was this bright and beautiful 18 year old, worrying about becoming some old maid. And I was the old maid reading about it.

Kids these days, amirite?

Okay, but seriously. The truth is we all get old, and for some of us that’s a relative reality. My mom is 62 and she can party with the best of them. Sure her body is different, sure she needs more sleep than she used to, and sure she’s had her own medical issues (if you’ve ever met my mom, you know she has a bad right ear, and she’ll yell at you about talking to her in it because you KNOW she has a bad right ear JESUS). But she’s still an awesome lady who I love a lot.

So, maybe getting older isn’t entirely bad. If I get to end up like my mom, that would be okay with me. In the meantime you can find me drinking wine and watching Housewives while wearing my pulley system bra – because I’m sooooooo old you guys.

When Love Can’t Conquer All

Here’s a funny story about me and my boyfriend – he used to be my boss.

If you’ve seen my stand-up you know that’s one of my go-to jokes: I’m 26 and my boyfriend is 56. People ask me — Kate, are you with him for the money? Uh, hello. Of course. He also used to be my boss, which begs another question: Did you have to sleep with him to get your job? I would never do that! I had to sleep with his boss to get my job.

Jon and I got together not long after my ex Jacob and I broke up. We didn’t plan it, in fact I fought really hard against it because, hello, he’s 30 years older than me and he was my old boss (literally and figuratively). But soon we were in a Bachelor-like romance – trips to exotic beaches, flying in little Piper single engine planes, having cocktails out of really fancy glasses. He was 56, sure, but not to me. He was funny, smart, adventurous, cool. I liked being around him. I liked knowing he liked being around me too.

About a year ago he asked me if I wanted to go to Los Angeles with him. I really, really did. I wasn’t happy at my job and I wanted to make a change – a big change. I wanted to break into the entertainment industry and follow a wild and crazy dream, a dream to be a comedian and a writer. So I said yes.

Here’s a funny story about me and my boyfriend – we both pictured a life so much different than the one we got. At least, the one we got in Los Angeles.

Ex-boyfriends come in all shapes and sizes. With the exception of my ex Jacob, all of mine are assholes, for a variety of reasons. To be honest I was not always a prize to be won myself. Despite my cool exterior, I can actually be quite high maintenance. In my younger days, I used to pick fights on purpose with my ex-boyfriends just to get a rise out of them. Why? I was bored.

Whenever we leave someone, we have this tendency to resent them. Rarely do we hear about nice breakups. It’s not the nature of a breakup – people don’t leave each other on a handshake and well wishes. They leave each other through screaming or tears or tragedy. Movies and TV shows paint breakups like these seismic shifts – the ex is either the enemy or this person who, after they leave the protagonist, becomes a better human being.

Jon and I are neither. We are not giants. There are no speeches, no letters, no nothings. It’s like the ending to an amazing party. Everyone is lingering around and you know you have to go but you wish the good time didn’t have to end. Reality hits tomorrow, you tell yourself, this will just be a memory to file away somewhere. A cherished, beloved memory, yes. But a memory nonetheless.

I won’t go into why Jon decided to go back to Florida – that’s his story, not mine – but health issues and homesickness were a huge part of it. I knew he wanted to go. He loves his home and is ready to just settle down, to live a life that isn’t fast and loose. He is 56. I am 26. There are 30 years of life between us. Thirty years of partying, regrets, one too many margaritas, outfits that show just a little too much, responsibilities that are hard to stomach, choices that need to be made, relationships that lived and died, people who lived and died.

“I want you to live your life,” he told me one day. “I want you to be 26.”

Jon and I came to the decision we needed to break up while we were sitting on the couch in January. We didn’t scream, though there were tears. He helped me look for a new apartment, we talked about life once he’d be gone. He scheduled the movers, he took me out to dinner for my birthday. He bought me the biggest bouquet of flowers – a dozen red and pink roses – and sent them to my office for Valentine’s Day. We walked hand in hand down to Santa Monica Pier, laying down by the ocean wondering aloud what either of us was going to do when we were really broken up.

Having a deadline on your relationship is weird. Friends and I would jokingly say I should start telling hot guys to call me after Jon left town.

“Is it hard?” A friend asked me the other day. It’s harder than I could’ve imagined. I’ve had to stomach my pride, stomach my pain and realize as much as you love someone you can’t change them, not really at least. And if you can’t change them you definitely can’t change the world. You can love them more than you know how to put into words and it’s still not enough.

Because love can’t conquer all. It can’t change your age, it can’t change the things you want, it can’t change the things you need. It can’t change your health, your core beliefs, or distance. It doesn’t change time. Love can change a lot of things, this I know is true. For me, love opened my heart to not only a man who was kind and good, but to a life I never dreamed possible.

The hardest thing to admit to myself – hell, to each other – was that we couldn’t beat the world. Reality was much too real and much too difficult for us to fight. And fight we did. We fought against it every goddamn day. But one day it was just too much.

It’s funny – none of my other breakups were like this. Everyone says I’m mature, wise beyond my years – and maybe that’s true – but it’s a testament to Jon, not me. I remember once when my ex Scott broke up with me – at The Riv in East Lansing, no less – and I threw his shit down the stairs. Get the fuck out of my house! I screamed as pants and condoms and a random assortment of papers flew through the air. You are no longer welcome here!

There was the scathing letter I wrote to Zach. The deafening silence I gave to Jacob. When I saw the writing on the wall I tried to muster a little anger for Jon, but I just couldn’t. He was man who gave me more than he took away. He was a friend, a lover, a guide.

Way back when – way back when we were happy and healthy and without a care in the world – I told Jon he made me want to quit my job and do something crazy. He told me I should. So I did. And now I’m here living out a dream one day at a time. Will it be hard without him? Of course. Will I always look out from the stage to see him in the audience? Yes.

Here’s a funny story about me and my boyfriend – love couldn’t conquer all of our problems. I wish it had, I wish it could – but it didn’t.

Reasons I’ll Have Sex With You

The other day I came across this article from the Washington Post, where one lonely journalist and sex enthusiasts bemoans how he can’t find anyone to have sex with him despite being awesome and despite being a desperate loser who is solely interest in women because he wants to have sex with them.

So let me remind you, dear readers, that no one under any circumstances is required to have sex with you, ever. It doesn’t matter how badly you want to have sex, it doesn’t matter how badly they do. The only think that matters is if both of you consent to having sex. I’ve made this handy guide in case you’re confused:

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Period.

Periods are gross amirite??

Ewww she just said period! You’re damn right I did. Periods. I get ‘em. You get ‘em (if you’re a woman). We all get ‘em (by all I mean women)! They’re a fact of life that some of us suffer through but all of us live with and yet they’re so rarely talked about. Sorrynotsorry if you think this is too much information. If you’re uncomfortable with it then GOOD. Periods are normal things we basically shun women for having, so if I can’t talk about who the fuck can?!

Let’s start at the beginning. I got my period when I was nine. Fun fact about that – this was not a normal experience at Courtade Elementary School. And because I was so young, no one had thought to tell me what a period was or how it happens. So picture me, at age nine, looking down into my underpants after what I’m sure was an earth-shattering pain in my body and seeing blood.

Oh sweet Jesus, I probably said to myself. What is happening to me?!?

Yahoo! Answers wasn’t around back then folks. I had AskJeeves, but the family computer was in the living room and I wasn’t going to risk searching that information. Not after the whole “I accidentally stumbled across some pornography and my brother tattled on me and now mom thinks I’m a fucking deviant” situation. Eventually I did bring this concern to my mother, only after writing out my will in crayon and thoughtfully placing it into my one of many Lisa Frank technicolor folders.

Since then I’ve had nearly 200 periods (editor’s note: WOW that number blew me away). And not the periods you hear about in tampon commercials where girls with the perkiest tits you’ve ever seen are doing Olympic-level gymnastics routines in a white leotard. I am talking cramps, mood swings, Game of Thrones Red Wedding style periods. Periods that put some hair on your chest!

Recently, during an especially brutal day with extreme cramps, I took some medicinal marijuana to ease my pain. My boyfriend advised me to take only a quarter of the marijuana gummy candy – I am a beginner at these things, you see – but I thought it better to take the half, as recommended on the packaging.

A half-a-gummy later I was sitting on the couch, my uterus vibrating, watching a CNN documentary about the 1980s. It felt like I myself had lived through the decade. When the show was over I scoured for some Girl Scout cookies in the fridge and tried to wrap my mind around the Iran Contra Crisis.

“Wait…” I asked my boyfriend for the upteenth time. “You mean to tell me – you mean to honestly tell me – that Ronald Reagan knew the entire time???”

“Yes.” He said.

“THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS!” My heart started to race. “WE NEED TO TELL PEOPLE.”

“…It’s 2017.” He said. “I think people got the memo.”

Periods are messy and painful and awful and gross. And anyone who comes to me and says periods are a beautiful part of being a true woman – get the fuck outta here. First of all, be inclusive to trans women OKAY, second of all, as my dear friend Piper once told me, you truly become a woman only after you’ve had your asshole waxed and third of all, if they were so beautiful why don’t we talk about them more? And I mean really talk about them. I hate euphemisms like it’s her “time of the month” or that she has a “special friend.” This is not MY time – my time implies that I am enjoying whatever it is I am doing – and there’s nothing special or friendly about my period.

And the shame women feel for having a period? A small leakage can send any woman into a tailspin. Take me, for example, in what I like to call Tuesday Bloody Tuesday. I got my period and it was back with a vengeance (as usual). In a cruel twist of fate, on the day that my period is the heaviest it also happens to be the day each month that I am at my thinnest. I looked over my clothes and selected one of my favorite pairs of pants – my light coral skinny jeans that only look good when I’m not aggressively bloated.

Do I dare wear these pants today of all days? I thought to myself.

If I was to tempt fate in such a manner, I knew I needed a backup just in case. Tampon? Check. Panty Liner to be the first line of defense against leakage? Check. I got to my office, sat down, and started working away for a few hours before our lunch staff meeting. When I stood up I knew something was wrong, it felt like I had bottomed out into swamp of some sorts. But I tried my best to ignore it and took a seat. Then I looked down and saw it – my entire crotch was crimson red.

I suffered through the staff meeting and made a beeline for the bathroom.

This isn’t so bad, I thought to myself. I carefully dabbed at my pants until I realized applying water made it look like I peed myself and I was possibly peeing blood. In an attempt to hide the damage I carried my jacket around in my arm all day, strategically covering the front of my pants, but making people think I was either going somewhere or was really, really cold.

“You cold?” My boss asked as I passed him.

“Nope.” I said before remembering that I was holding a jacket.

I wanted to commiserate with my other female employees, I wanted to ask any of them if they had a long hoodie I could borrow or possible a Tide stain pen, but I was too shy to muster the courage. Who talks about their periods openly, anyways? Weirdos. That’s who.

But no more – let’s talk about periods. Let’s talk about your favorite food to binge when you’re on your period, the worst cramps you’ve ever had, the time you cried to Finding Dory on a plane so hard a flight attendant subtly asked you if you were possibly a human sex trafficking victim (just me?)

Periods are a part of life. Ladies, don’t be ashamed of them, and guys, if you happen to know someone on their period give them a candy bar, a heating pad and only badger her for sex no more than once (she might be into it, idk.)

I’ll be here contemplating what can be done about the Iran Contra Crisis.

 

A Rape In The Night

My rapist won today.

He won when a woman halfway across the country defended a sexual predator, saying what he said about sexually assaulting women he didn’t really mean – even if he said he did it and he’d do it again.

He won when a college student preyed upon a drunk girl – no, woman – and left her behind a dumpster, running away like a coward when someone tried to save her.

He won when a university football coach ignored pleas from students that his players were sexually assaulting them – in fact he encouraged his players, using sex as a sort of currency to entice them to his school.

When people ask me what the patriarchy is in a sarcastic way, when people say I’m overreacting, when people come for me wondering exactly why I feel as passionately as I do, there’s no easy way to explain it. Because truly they’ll probably never understand – especially if they’re a man – what it feels like to have someone slide their hands all over your body and inside it too.

Want to know what it’s like to be raped? It’s like this. Someone shoved his hands down my pants and he took off my underwear. He laid on top of me while I was asleep and put his penis inside of me. He thrust until I woke up. He kissed me and continued thrusting. I grabbed his arms and shoved my nails in deep. Who are you? Where did you come from? What are you doing?

He was a stranger. He assured me everything was alright.

I wish he could’ve told me that when I was staring at the bottle of pills on my desk, considering whether life was worth living at all. Why would it be? How could it be? Every day I felt like I wanted to scrub off my skin. I thought if I kept having sex maybe it would change, but it never did. Did you know the first time sex felt good – I mean really good, satisfying both physically and emotionally – was in 2014, three years after I was raped? Did you know I drank myself to near blackout most nights? Did you know I was sometimes mean and cruel and the shell of a person I know that I truly am?

Do you know what it feels like to see him – the President of the Goddamn United States – up there? Grab ‘em by the pussy. My rapist’s hands, all over again. His breath. His weight.

I believed I was over it all. I truly thought I’d fought against it. I told myself if I told people and made meaningful relationships and found peace in an eternal chaos that maybe it could numb the pain for the rest of my life. And then he came and his cronies too, proselytizing about the sanctity of life and in the same breath disparaging refugees dying from bombs and terrorists, passing off disturbing comments as just “locker room” talk, saying he was going to make America great again while thousands would die without affordable health care.

I was standing in an airport during this election when a man grazed up against me for just a few seconds too long. “Sorry,” he smiled, winking. Sorry? The internal peace I found within myself boiled and turned into a rage. Sorry? You’re sorry?

“Fuck off,” I said, looking him square in the eye. “And die.”

My rapist won today. He wins every time a man thinks its okay to touch me or any other woman without consent. He wins every time a man brags about sexual assault. He wins every time any man or woman anywhere says a woman was too drunk or too slutty or too whatever to be believed.

I feel rage. I am rage. My rapist won today. But I won’t let him win tomorrow, or the day after that. I will fight him. I will fight you, too, if you stand in my way. I will fight even if it kills me, even if it hurts, even if it brings back the memories of someone else’s hands or someone else’s breath or someone else’s long and hard gaze.

There was a rape in the night and it was mine. The darkness surrounded me in a literal and figurative sense. Too dark to see, too dark to comprehend. There was a rape in the night and I was silent. I tried to scream but nothing came out, not until later – much later – when I found myself screaming holding up a sign in the middle of a crowded Los Angeles street. There was a rape in the night and I was there. And when dawn came the next morning the world was different and new, scarier and harder than it had ever been before. I was one person before and in a moment I became someone entirely new.

I’ve been fighting like hell to understand it, to reject it, to be something so much more than someone who was raped in the night. But in the end that’s who I am. It’s not all of who I am, but it’s part of my story and it’s something that no matter how hard I try, I can never erase. That rape in the night – my rape in the night – created a monster. It created someone I once truly hated, someone I struggled with being, and now finally someone whose power I will capture.

There was a rape in the night. But I remind myself that every night is greeted with a sunrise. And I will rise with it.

Holiday Political Discussions: A How To Guide

It’s that time of year again – the time when us young adults of the world travel far and wide to reunite with our families for the holidays. For some that means sitting around the dinner table, laughing about fun memories with grammy and grampy while playing Uno and eating pie. For others that means drinking until you feel numb, evading questions of when you’re finally going to let a man impregnate you and hiding from your uncle that gets just a little too handsy.

The cherry on top of the shit sundae that is 2016 is that we’ve elected Donald Trump as president, which adds a whole other element of misery to family gatherings. That’s why, dear readers, I’ve come up with a guide to help you avoid talking politics AND discouraging others from doing so as well.

1. Let your family know you don’t want to talk politics. Before the political conversations start, just be open and honest with your family. Tell them you don’t want to talk about politics and reach an understanding with one another that it’s impolite to do at the dinner table anyways.

“Look, guys, I’d honestly rather receive a bullet through my temple and swim with sharks on my period than talk about politics. Like, if anyone brings it up, I might just flip the table and take off my bra and go burn it somewhere because that’s where I’m at, and honestly, I don’t think anyone wants to see me without my bra on at this table. Except Uncle Eddie, he gives me the vibe of someone who watches step-sibling porn, so I think he’d be into my boobs. No offense, Uncle Eddie.”

2. If the topic does turn to politics, change the subject. One great tip is to change the topic of conversation in a non-awkward way by asking a question or using the phrase ‘That reminds me of….’ Bring up something the whole family can relate to, something that everyone might have an opinion on that is not political.

“You know what, that reminds me of a family secret I swore never to tell anyone. Mom, did you know that Erin used to drink all your booze from the liquor cabinet? Then she used to sneak out and bang her boyfriend in our old tree house?  Oh and she used to steal money to buy weed. Erin is totally the youngest child, am I right??”

3. Excuse yourself from the table. Think of a way to get yourself up from the table without being rude. Say you forgot to make a phone call or go to the bathroom. Always remember to be polite when walking away, giving people the sense that it’s not your anger removing you from the table. Give yourself a few minutes to cool down and return recharged for conversation.

“Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom, because Aunt Mary’s stuffing tastes like ass and it makes me want to vomit all over this goddamn table. Be right back.”

4. Turn the topic of conversation on yourself. Talk about a recent accomplishment, like a work promotion or a new friendship or romantic relationship, something that your family will be excited to discuss and create a positive atmosphere at the dinner table.

“I’m a lesbian.”

5. Create a distraction. One way to get the attention off politics is to create a light distraction. You could try creating a fun game where everyone goes around and says what they’re thankful for. If that doesn’t work, ask for assistance to solve a simple problem in the kitchen. By pulling individuals out of the group conversation, it could be a natural way to change the topic.

“Oops, I accidentally set the house on fire. Gotta stop leaving gasoline-covered rags near open flames! HA-HA.”

6. If all else fails, agree to disagree.

“I know you voted for someone who is a racist, woman-hating, xenophobic piece of garbage, and while I understand it doesn’t make you a racist, woman-hating, xenophobic piece of garbage, it still means you support someone who is. And you had your reasons for voting, and it’s your right to vote for whoever you want to, but please respect that I find him revolting and that I don’t want to talk about him or his presidency right now. And if you come at me with this ‘sore loser’ bullshit, I know Grampy called Obama the N-word like it was the dude’s first name and said ‘He’s not my president,’ and all I gotta say is glass houses y’all. Maybe one day we’ll be able to have an educated conversation about Trump and his policies and why people voted for him, but today I just want to enjoy my fucking turkey, try and love my family even if I don’t like what they believe, and have one goddamn meal that isn’t drenched in my own tears.

Also, Aunt Mary, your stuffing really does taste like you cooked it in sewer water. This is disgusting.”