Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, For Society In General

At this point, we all kind of expect whoever we’re dating to end things by disappearing without explanation. This can also be referred to as “technically not ending things at all.” Do you even remember the last time that someone properly and legitimately broke up with you? I don’t think that even happens anymore. Hell, I’m technically STILL in a relationship from 2012 because we never once had a conversation confirming that it was over. Ghosting is the new normal- definitively dumping someone is as archaic as giving a girlfriend your varsity pin.

Now, I realize that I’m not telling anyone anything new here. We’re all aware that modern dating is completely broken, and we’ve gotten used to it. We’ve accepted it. The status quo is…fine, I guess? Not great, not terrible. 3.6 Roentgen. That’s dating.

But the thing that really fucks me off is that our cultural acceptance of ghosting has gradually encroached upon the way we do everything else.

I used to get an email after a job interview letting me know that they hired someone else. Shows used to go off the air with a finale that wrapped up the remaining storylines. Wars used to end on a specific date that we’d then celebrate or commemorate accordingly every year afterwards. But nothing ever ends anymore. Things just drag on because of this insane adversity we’ve developed toward putting a period at the end of them.

Maybe it’s not fair to say that ghosting in relationships was the cause of this phenomenon, instead of just another symptom.

A lot of things could be the real culprit here. For all I know, the root cause of this cultural zeitgeist is the collective trauma from being yanked out of the Good Ol’ Nineties by September 11th. I think we all would’ve preferred the slow fade on that one, right? Or maybe it’s that we all heard The Song That Never Ends one too many times and accidentally left the top spinning in the recesses of our brains. (If you’re too unfamiliar with the works of Shari Lewis and/or Christopher Nolan to understand that reference, I cannot help you.) Maybe we all sense that the apocalypse is coming and think we can stave it off by refusing to acknowledge changes, transitions, or endings. I’m not a sociologist or an anthropologist or even a statistician, I’m just a girl with a blog and a general disapproval of the fact that The Simpsons is still running. Your guess is as good as mine as to why we can’t just end things anymore.

And just like it’s difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem, it’s also pretty difficult to think of a good starting point for the solution. Stop ghosting people, I guess? Start making more declarative statements about your intentions instead of letting everyone wonder if this is the beginning of your exit strategy. Shit, just have an exit strategy. Recognize when it’s time to walk away from something, be it a television show or a relationship or a war in the Middle East, and take ownership of your decision to call it a day. Because otherwise all we’re doing is letting situations drag on and on without resolution, never moving on and never acknowledging it.

Is that really preferable to getting dumped via text message?

I Made A Point To Follow Current Events And All I Got Was This Existential Crisis

Keeping up with the news is one hell of an emotional commitment these days.

Day in and day out, all we’re hearing is Fascism, Racism, War, Climate Change, Natural Disaster, Violence Against Women, LGBTQ Rights Threatened, Healthcare Crisis, Border Concentration Camps, Opioid Epidemic, Mass Shooting, Mass Shooting, Mass Shooting. Oh, and don’t forget the Mass Shootings.

It’s rough out there. The temptation is stronger than ever to just tune out and live in a happy little bubble of ignorance.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if giving in to that temptation is really such a bad idea.

I used to think that as a citizen of the world, one has an obligation to stay informed about current events. Burying our heads in the sand and pretending everything is hunky-dory is socially irresponsible, if not downright morally reprehensible, right?

But then 2016 came swinging in and….it was a lot. And it continued to be a lot, unrelentingly, up to and including the present moment. And I felt myself starting to hit the limit of my mental capacity to handle multiple daily reminders that democracy is a sham, the planet is on fire, and the end is nigh.

So I started to wonder: do I really need to read the news every day? Do I need to click on every CNN article that presents itself to me? Am I actually helping the global situation by staying informed, or am I only making myself miserable for no tangible benefit?

The truth is, I’m pretty certain that at the end of the day it doesn’t make a damn bit of positive difference in the world whether I’m keeping abreast of the situation or not. For the most part, I don’t have any personal power to make a difference in the situation. At this point, I barely feel like my votes have any meaning, let alone my voice. Removing myself from this equation doesn’t tip the scale in any meaningful way. I know my place in the world and I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about it.

And yet, it’s still not as simple as just realizing that and guiltlessly tuning out.

It takes more than emotional fatigue to shake the influence of a hundred history lessons drilled into my head, telling me that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, or that ignorance is the root and stem of all evil, or that an uninformed populace is a populace in slavery.

Sure, it doesn’t particularly matter if I know what’s going on in the world. But it always matters that the Collective We know what’s going on. Because collectively, we’re in the shit right now- maybe it gets better and maybe it doesn’t, but if we stop paying attention then it definitely doesn’t.

I hate keeping up with the news these days. I think we all do. But if we all decide to turn our backs at the same time, where does that leave us?

So I continue to keep up with the news, chastising myself for thinking that I have the right not to, while desperately wishing that I could just stop giving a shit.

Activists talk about hoping for a better tomorrow. Personally, I’m always just hoping that tomorrow is a slow news day.

Dating Advice From The Other Side

This week, I got into a conversation with a college-aged acquaintance of mine about how much it sucks to be single. Not just your standard, run-of-the-mill, “my Tinder dates aren’t going so well” single. No, I’m talking about that kind of single when you’re well into your college years, everyone you know is happily paired off or at least getting laid regularly, and in the meantime you can’t get another person to so much as look at you romantically. You know, THAT kind of singledom.

It’s been a minute since I was that single, but I pride myself on giving people good life advice. I never want to be the kind of person that dispenses wisdom from an ivory tower, you know? So I took a moment to think back on what it was like to be alone, taking yet another hit to the ol’ self-esteem every day that nobody wanted to be with me. I took a deep breath and stepped back into myself at age 19, which is the last year of my life that I was still a hopeless virgin- and not for lack of trying, thank you for asking.

I emotionally time-traveled back to that period of my life to remember what it felt like to be chronically single. Honestly, I was lowkey expecting to shrug it off as “not that bad”. But you know what?

It was. It sucked. It suuuucked. It was soul-crushing. Soul. Crushing. I felt terrible about myself and I felt terrible about the future. No matter what anyone told me about how I just had to hang on until I met someone, or how I’d find love when I wasn’t looking, or how I was a great catch but not everyone is fishing for trout, or whatever platitude, it never instilled hope. There’s no reason why it should’ve. No one wanted to be with me before now, and no one wants to be with me currently- what kind of idiot would I have to be to believe that someone was going to want to be with me in the future?

It was hell to step back into that headspace for all of three minutes, let alone to still be living in it. I wanted so desperately to say something helpful.

But you know what I realized? I can’t.

No one can. If you’re a coupled person, there’s literally no piece of advice that you can give to a chronically single person that doesn’t make you sound like an asshole. I’m sorry, but there’s just not. Did some good advice that you think you recently gave a single friend just pop into your head? Yeah, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but that advice didn’t help them and probably also made them feel like shit. That’s just the nature of the beast. You, as a person that has made it to the other side, are now trying to tell someone else about life on the other side when they still have no ability to get across the chasm. It’s insulting at best, and quickly verges on cruelty at worst.

And I especially couldn’t try telling them the truth. It sounds like bullshit to a single person, but all of us coupled people know it to be true. The problem will just fix itself on its own. You never know when, you never know where, and you never know how- just that, one day, you’ll meet someone and you’ll like them and they’ll like you and everything will be okay. Everything sucks, and then it doesn’t. That’s what the transition from chronically single to happily coupled is like.

So obviously, I didn’t say any of that. Instead I said, “Have you thought about using a funny pickup line?”

I guess there’s more than one way to give someone useless advice.

Guilty Pleasures Are For Schmucks

I was recently asked what I consider to be my biggest guilty pleasure. To the shock and confusion of everyone else at the party, I said that I really don’t have one. My thinking was that I haven’t felt guilty about liking anything since I was the last person to grow out of sleeping with a stuffed animal in elementary school. (Unless you count stand-up comedy specials made by sex offenders, but that’s a tangent for another day.) I said I found the whole concept of guilty pleasures ridiculous, because I don’t feel bad about partaking in activities that give me genuine enjoyment.

This sparked a debate about what actually constitutes a guilty pleasure, that ultimately went nowhere because everyone in the conversation was drunk. But I looked it up (just now while writing this article) and here’s the dictionary definition: “something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.”

In retrospect, that changes my answer.

First of all, “not generally held in high regard” is kind of all-encompassing at this point. We’re a society of cynical assholes with a compulsive need to shit all over everything that anyone likes. Pop music, for example, is literally named after the fact that it’s popular. And there’s nothing more expected when discussing music than to hear multiple people state derisively that they don’t listen to pop music, and anyone that willingly subjects their ears to a Top 40 radio station is a loser. I could name a movie right now that I think is universally beloved (Armageddon? Young Frankenstein? Almost anything starring Jack Black?), and someone would comment disagreeing with me. You just can’t win with that as a metric. Everything you like could technically be considered a guilty pleasure.

Which brings me to the second thing: I don’t have a guilty pleasure because literally everything I like is a guilty pleasure. Guys, I have terrible taste. Movies, music, television, boys, books….I’m hard-pressed to defend a single one of my favorite things on its own merit, because I am a person that enjoys trash. Ask me how many times I’ve seen the movie Bewitched starring Nicole Kidman- it’s definitely more than once and even I don’t pretend that my massive crush on Nicole Kidman justifies that. Ask me how many Anne Rice novels I’ve read, while not even being able to hide behind the excuse of a vampire fetish. I like what I like, and I freely admit that most of it is irredeemable crap.

That said, now that I’m really thinking critically about the subject, my guilty pleasure is definitely the Netflix Original Series Lost in Space. I burned through the entire new season in record time, while complaining every ten minutes that this was the most bullshit contrived dramatic scenario since the thing that happened ten minutes prior. And while I’ll happily admit that it’s trash, I’m definitely not going to apologize for loving it.

And that’s fine, I think. I don’t see why anyone should be under an obligation to defend their enjoyment of something. If you’re going to argue that something is objectively good, then yeah, be prepared to show your work. But if you’re just talking about whether or not something made you happy? You do you, boo. It’s time to take the guilt out of guilty pleasures and just start living our best lives.

I Don’t Usually Review Movies, But CATS Was So Goddamn Bad That I’ll Make An Exception

Your Jellicles were so preoccupied with whether Jellicles are and Jellicles do and Jellicles do and Jellicles would and Jellicles would and Jellicles can and Jellicles can and Jellicles do, they didn’t stop to think if Jellicles SHOULD.

– a quote comprised mostly of the actual lyrics to CATS

What Was Wrong With CATS

CATS (2019) is a display of staggering incompetence the likes of which only comes around once in a lifetime. Every single decision that went into creating, developing, producing, promoting, and distributing CATS was a baffling miscalculation. I could publish an omnibus about what’s wrong with the movie CATS, and still need to release supplemental volumes on a regular schedule as my brain continues to process what it has seen.

It is not humanly possible to describe to you every detail that contributed to the 110-minute trainwreck that is CATS.  Madness would take us both. Instead, I’m just going to focus on what I’ve helpfully nicknamed The Four Horsemen of CATS:
1. The “Plot”
2. The Set Design
3. The Fucking CGI, My God, The Fucking CGI
4. Taylor Swift

Here we go.

The “Plot”

Several cats compete in a magical moonlit talent show in the dirty back alleys of London, and the prize is permission to die. That is the plot of CATS. I would say it makes more sense in context, but the entirety of the context is that this story is called “CATS.”

You may be tempted to defend CATS by pointing out that this is the same plot as the original play.  And I say to you, that’s no defense. That’s just an explanation of why  adapting the Broadway musical CATS into a film was a fool’s errand. As soon as you remove the spectacle of live theatre from this equation, you are charting a course for failure. Some storylines don’t translate to a new medium. Some movies should never have been made.

CATS is one of those movies. Only two options existed for the filmmakers: make a faithful adaptation of a play that has no discernible story, or add enough plot to create a tangible narrative and end up with something that wasn’t really an adaptation of CATS.

Somehow, they managed to split the difference and add just enough additional plot that the story made even less sense than the play. None of the changes do anything to fix the existing plot issues. Every element that was added to the plot served the purpose of justifying other elements that were added to the plot, in an endless self-perpetuating cycle of unnecessary bullshit that still couldn’t pass for a story on the best of days.

The Set Design

The only explanation I can attempt to offer for the continual inconsistency of scale in this movie is that none of the filmmakers have ever seen a cat. If they have, they certainly haven’t seen it standing beside any common household objects. They may not, in fact, have ever seen any common household objects. I don’t know. I truly have no hypothesis here.

If you’re reading this review and you worked on the movie CATS, please do me a favor and complete the following questionnaire. This assessment will be used to determine what the actual fuck you were thinking.

Question One: How big do you think a cat is?
Question Two: How big do you think a mouse is?
Question Three: How big do you think a cockroach is?
Question Four: How many cats do you believe it takes to push closed a standard-sized interior door?
Question Five: How many cats do you think can fit into a railway train compartment?
Question Seven: Was that supposed to be a cat-sized tugboat or were you even still trying by that point?

The Fucking CGI, My God, The Fucking CGI

All of the actors have human hands instead of cat paws. The CGI of their cat fur just stops at the wrist. They all hold their hands like cat paws, but they do not have cat paws. Just human hands. Judi Dench still has a wedding ring on.

The actors do have cat paw feet, except for the scenes where they don’t. Sometimes they just have human feet again. Sometimes they’re wearing sneakers. Sometimes they’re wearing ballet pointe shoes that are CGI-colored to match the rest of their fur but are absolutely not cat paws.

At no point does any of the the CGI fur look good. Judi Dench looks like she’s floating underwater, and her tail disappears from shot to shot. Jennifer Hudson looks like she’s wrapped in an old fishing net and black garbage bags. Idris Elba just looks like a smooth brown Ken Doll with little tiger stripes and green contact lenses. Rebel Wilson has a patch of pubic hair on her fur suit, which I’m calling a fur suit instead of a cat costume because she at one point CGI-unzips it to reveal a circus performer tutu thing underneath. Sorry, did I say that happens once? Yeah, it happens twice.

And can we talk about the faces?

Much like the decision not to bother with cat paws, a decision was made not to bother with cat faces. Or even putting some cat-esque stage makeup on the actors. No, the $95 million budget of CATS was better spent just using CGI to sort of lazily insert human faces onto the cat heads.

Remember a few years ago when those face-swap apps were really popular, and sometimes they would accidentally flag a cat in the room instead of the person you were trying to take a photo with? Remember that? Every character looks like that’s what happened to them.

Again, this movie had a budget of $95 million.

Taylor Swift

After the disastrous first impression made by the trailer, we were told that the cats would appear more androgynous in the final cut of the film. Granted, we still may not have seen the final cut of the film considering that within a week of release a patched version had to be shipped to cinemas because the editing wasn’t finished yet.

But it seems like what actually happened was that, instead of going for androgyny,  all of the cat titties were redistributed to Taylor Swift’s character.

A character who flies in on a moon like a goddamn vaudeville routine, singing a song that she stole from another character in the show, while sprinkling Spanish Fly catnip on the collected ensemble inducing them into a frenzied dance-orgy of choreography entirely too sexual to watch without taking a shower afterwards, and the whole time she has conspicuous cat boobs.

In Conclusion

I will close this review with one positive remark about CATS: Jennifer Hudson knocked “Memory” out of the park. For those brief few moments, I could almost forget the crime against humanity that had lead up to them.

I won’t tell you whether or not to go see CATS. That’s a decision that you must make for yourself, as only you will have to live with the consequences. But allow me to share an anecdote with you:

My fiancé and I were standing on the curb waiting to cross the street after leaving the cinema, and I said, “Oh my god, that was such a bad movie.”

A random woman also waiting to cross the street immediately turned around and said, “CATS?”

“YES,” we said. “It was SO bad.”

“I saw it too,” she said emphatically. “I knew the critics were saying it was bad, but I wanted to see if it was really THAT bad.”

“Us too,” I said, before we all three stated in unison, “I just didn’t think it was going to be THAT bad!”

Readers….CATS is that bad.

An Open Letter To The Guy I Let Ruin My Life

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt, maybe

I like to think that I’m the master of my own fate.

It’s just easier to get through life that way. If I can make myself believe that I have the power to decide what happens to me, then I always feel at least a semblance of control even when I’m in over my head. When something goes wrong, I don’t think, “Woe is me.” Instead I think, “Well, I must’ve gotten myself into this. That means I must be able to find a way to get myself out of it, too.”

Maybe it’s true. Or maybe it’s merely a coping mechanism that serves to downplay the fact that I’m but a tiny boat adrift in the vast, indifferent sea of the cosmos. It doesn’t matter. I still like to think that I’m the master of my own fate.

And that’s why I don’t blame you for breaking my heart, Caleb. Or at least not directly.

No, I blame myself for letting you.

It’s not fair to blame you for being the antagonist in a story that I wrote. Who am I to hate you for your actions in Chapter 12 when I could’ve ended the book on page one?

I used to wonder what you were out to gain by wasting so much of my time. But now I wonder why I was willing to lose so much by spending all that time on you.

Maybe I was so stubborn and prideful that I refused to admit to myself that I was making a bad choice. Maybe I was so hopelessly in love that I couldn’t accept it wasn’t going to work out. Maybe my self-esteem was at such a low point that I needed your validation to think that I was worthy of walking the earth.

Maybe I was so fond of thinking myself the master of my own fate, that I refused to believe that I couldn’t change what was happening. It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it?

In the months after I finally gave up on you- months and months after you’d already given up on me- not a day went by that I didn’t ask myself what I could’ve done differently.

It was a question sometimes asked through sobs, sometimes screamed into a pillow, sometimes whispered wistfully into the clouds overhead, sometimes blurted out unthinkingly into the bottom of a shot glass- asked a thousand different times and a hundred different ways, but always the same question:

What could I have done differently?

I was certain that I made a mistake somewhere along the line, and that mistake was what had ruined everything.

If I’d done something differently, you wouldn’t have ignored me for days on end.

If I’d done something differently, you wouldn’t have refused to call me your girlfriend.

If I’d done something differently, you wouldn’t have hidden my existence from everyone else in your life.

If I’d done something differently, you wouldn’t have started sleeping with someone else.

If I’d done something differently, you wouldn’t have broken my heart so badly.

If I’d done something differently, you wouldn’t have destroyed my spirit, crushed my dreams, and ruined my life.

I asked myself the same question so often that it came as a complete surprise on the day when I finally realized the answer.

What could I have done differently? Nothing.

But from another perspective? Everything.

I used to look back at our relationship and see a long list of offenses you committed. But perhaps what I ought to be seeing is a long list of missed opportunities to extract myself from the situation.

Every time you ignored a text, a phone call, or an email was a time when I could’ve decided to stop trying to contact you.

Every time that you blew off plans with me was a time that I could’ve decided not to ask you to reschedule.

Every time that you insisted we were not “dating” was a time I could’ve decided to stop going on dates with you.

Every time you kissed me and then immediately apologized for sending a mixed message was a time I could’ve decided not to kiss you back.

Every time you lied to me was a time when I could’ve decided to stop believing you.

And that time when I found out there was another girl in the picture? That should’ve been the time when I chose to walk away and never look back.

You hurt me, so badly that until recently it was the worst thing to ever happen to me.

But I let you hurt me. That was my choice.

I’ve spent a long time thinking I was angry at you for the way you treated me. And the whole time, it turns out that I’ve been angry at myself for allowing you to treat me that way.

Being as I’m eight-hundred words and an Eleanor Roosevelt quote into telling you that I don’t blame you and I’m not angry at you, I suppose you’re expecting me to close this letter by telling you that I forgive you for everything.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but it’s going to end with me saying that I forgive myself.

I don’t know if that really constitutes a cathartic ending to this saga, but I’d link to think that it does. I don’t know if making a public declaration of forgiveness is necessarily the best method, but I’d like to think that it is.

I don’t know if I’m really the master of my own fate, but I like to think that I am.

Some Bridges Burn Slowly

A few years ago, I lost my best friend to a drug addiction.

It didn’t come out of the blue. She was experimenting with drugs in middle school, before the rest of us even knew what drugs were. While we were worrying about social studies homework and what to wear to the Halloween dance, she was popping pills out of the secret stash she kept in her bedroom.

Things got better in high school, but they also got worse. She stopped using drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with the bad stuff in life, and started using them to have fun instead. By this point I was one of those anti-drug kids, but I never let it affect our friendship. I was only late to class twice in all four years of high school- both times it was because I was in the bathroom at 8am helping her shake off the Xanax and drag herself to homeroom.

Looking back, I can see that the gap between us was growing this entire time. Things were fine when we were together, which was a lot- she slept over at my house more often than she stayed at her own, because my parents actually cared how she was doing- but whenever we split up to see our other friends, it was like we went off to two totally different corners of the universe. My circle was the theatre kids and the computer nerds. Her circle was the stoners and the older dropouts that supplied them. We were a long way from the days when we planned to move to New York City together and become glamorous career girls with hot celebrity boyfriends and the perfect apartment, that was for sure.

We saw each other less and less after high school, but we still considered the other one our best friend. Even when I spent the entire first semester at college feeling like a loser because I was the only freshman who didn’t smoke weed or even drink, and she spent it sitting around the house back in our hometown because she got high and forgot to go to her program’s entrance exam, we were still best friends. Of all the people in the world that we could’ve called to commiserate about our vastly different situations, we still called each other. And whenever we actually did have a minute to see each other, it was like we never missed a day.

Never once did it occur to me that I’d ever lose my best friend.

Even though the signs had been there since we were thirteen years old. Even though she’d been flaking out on plans for a solid year because at any given moment she was too fucked-up to leave the house. Even though mutual friends had complained that she’d gone from being a party girl to being a junkie.

On the day it finally happened, I was blindsided. Even though I shouldn’t have been.

I’d broken up with some dumb guy, and I was taking it as badly as you do when you’ve just barely stopped being a teenager. Crying and near-suicidal, I called my best friend. She promised that she’d come over and stay the night, just like old times, so I wouldn’t have to be by myself. She said she’d call me as soon as she got out of work that night, to say that she was on her way.

She never called me back. She never came over. That was the last time we ever talked.

She didn’t overdose, by the way. She just decided that getting high was more important to her than our friendship.

I know that I could’ve called her. At any point in the last five years, I could’ve called her. But why?

To tell her off and demand an apology? To cry and tell her how much I miss her? To let bygones be bygones, act like nothing ever happened, and catch up like it had only been a week or two?

It wouldn’t be the same, and I know it. Even though she’s still alive, I still lost her.

That girl who came with me to auditions for Grease and even did the show despite hating musicals is gone. That girl who I spent a full afternoon on the internet searching up pin-up photos of Eric Roberts for, because I knew how big a crush she had on him and how excited she’d be, is gone. The girl who shared all of her secrets with me is gone. The girl who I trusted to talk to my crush for me is gone.

The girl who I could count on to be there for me, through thick or thin, any time of the day or night, no matter what was wrong, is gone.

There’s a new girl now, and all I really know about her is that she likes to do drugs. And maybe someday I’ll meet her and realize that I still want to be her friend.

But most likely, I’ll never be interested. Because all I’ll be thinking about is that I lost my best friend in the world to a drug addiction.

Almost-Relationships: or, With Regard To All The Exes Who Were Never My “Boyfriend”

I don’t care that we never had The Talk.

I don’t care that we were never Facebook Official.

I don’t care that you never actually deleted Tinder.

I don’t care that you only told your friends that we were “hanging out.”

I don’t care that I never met your family.

I don’t care that once during an argument you dropped the atomic bomb: “We’re not dating.”

Save your bullshit technicalities for the playground. I’m an adult. I won’t play this game.

You can couch it in whatever vague, cowardly, oh-so-millennial terms you want, but the fact is still that we had a relationship.

We spent time getting to know each other. We were intimate, physically and emotionally. We were invested in one another. We made plans for the future. We had shared hopes and dreams. And that doesn’t change just because you avoid putting a label on it.

Brush up on your Shakespeare, kiddo- this is a rose by any other name.

It doesn’t matter that you’re afraid of the words “dating” and “relationship” and “commitment.” Refusing to use them doesn’t stop them from being the truest definition of what we had.

It’s not just you, I know. It’s the major theme of modern dating. All chill, all the time. Nobody wants to feel pressured, or tied down, or too involved. Everyone wants to mute their feelings, preserve their sense of freedom, and protect their ego. That’s just how we do things now. It’s not supposed to matter if an action means anything. We’re not allowed to worry about where we stand.

But don’t you see how meaningless that is? Refusing to acknowledge a situation doesn’t magically stop it from existing. Your resistance against pinning a status on something doesn’t change what the thing actually is. Rejecting classification masks the truth, but it doesn’t alter it.

You never used the term “girlfriend” to describe me in the past, and you don’t use the term “ex-girlfriend” to describe me now.

It hasn’t changed any part of our story.

When I tell people about you, I still start from “when we started dating.” There’s an exact moment that I define as the beginning of our relationship, even if you’d deny that it was ever a relationship.

I still talk about all of the things that we did together, all of the places we went, all of our inside jokes and all of the songs we listened to, and it doesn’t matter if I stop to clarify that “we weren’t Facebook Official” at this point.

I still end the story by explaining “how we broke up,” even though it was when you ghosted me, and felt justified in doing so because only a “real” girlfriend deserves a “real” breakup.

And I still call you my ex.

But you’re not my “ex-boyfriend,” not technically, are you? So ex-what?

Ex-guy who used to be the first person I talked to when we woke up in the morning and the last person I talked to before we went to sleep?

Ex-guy I used to go out to shows and restaurants and movies with?

Ex-guy who I used to spend more time alone with, just the two of us, than anyone else?

Ex-guy who was the only person I was sleeping with, and vice versa?

Ex-guy who talked about moving in together?

Ex-guy who cried on my shoulder when he got evicted from his apartment, or when his brother was in the hospital?

Ex-guy who told me secrets he’d never share with anyone else because he knew he could trust me?

Ex-guy who told me that we had great chemistry, or that I was the perfect girl, or that he loved me?

Ex-guy who did all the things that a boyfriend does, but because we never signed a formal contract agreeing on that terminology, I’m not allowed to use that word?

So, just ex. That’s fine. I don’t insist on calling you my ex-boyfriend for the same reason that I roll my eyes when I think about how you insisted that you weren’t my boyfriend. Because I understand that it’s not the label that matters.

I’m not going to go out of my way to make sure the distinction is drawn. Maybe someday you’ll realize that you shouldn’t either.

If you want to hear some more on this topic, check out the podcast I recorded with Robert Dunn of The Orion Group.

An Open Letter to the Therapist I Fired

Dear Licensed Clinical Social Worker Herd:

You don’t know me.

Sure, I sat on your couch for 45 minutes and talked to you about my parents and my job and my boyfriend and my self-esteem issues, but you don’t know me.

Maybe you’d have gotten to know me, if you’d taken the time to listen to me. Which, quite frankly, seems like a reasonable expectation of a fucking therapist. But you weren’t as interested in getting to know me as an individual as you were in collecting another data point for your hypothesis about how all anxiety disorders work, in all cases, 100% of the time.

Does that sound unfair? Let’s review.

You told me that anxiety is always caused by underlying depression. I told you I didn’t identify with that, and furthermore I’d been screened for depression previously and was cleared. You repeated that my anxiety was caused by my depression.

I told you that my anxiety was much worse when I was younger, but is largely manageable these days. You told me that pathology always gets worse as you get older, and that mine will continue to do so.

You asked about my history with medication. I told you I’d been prescribed a pharmaceutical drug in the past and found it to work very well for my anxiety symptoms. You told me that was no way to go through life, and I should start taking St. John’s Wort for my depression. This was, I reiterate, after I told you I don’t have depression.

I told you my boyfriend is wonderful at providing emotional support when I’m feeling anxious. You said he couldn’t know how to help because he doesn’t have anxiety himself.

I told you I have a pretty good relationship with my parents. You told me that they’re controlling, and that’s why I have anxiety.

You don’t know me, and you didn’t try to get to know me.

That’s why I told you, respectfully and politely, that I would not be scheduling another appointment because I didn’t feel we were a good fit. And you said: “Keep in mind that you not wanting to get rid of your anxiety is your anxiety. You are learning to live with it and that will eventually catch up to you, that is my 20 year experience. Feel free to come back at any time.”

Please note, as you may have noticed initially had you not once again entirely failed to listen, that I never said I didn’t want to get rid of my anxiety. I merely said that I wanted to get rid of you.

And your response was to attempt a guilt trip. Manipulative, much? Unprofessional, anyone? But perhaps most tellingly, ineffective.

You don’t even know how to guilt me, because you don’t know me.

A few years ago, that guilt trip may have worked. Hell, a few years ago I might have starting internalizing your scattershot diagnosis of my issues. But I’m almost thirty years old now, and I don’t let other people tell me how to feel anymore. And I certainly don’t pay them for it.

I won’t stoop so low as to say that your own anxiety disorder, which you claim to have cured, is in fact manifesting itself in your professional capacity as a desire to control others despite their actual needs. I’ll merely state that I’m glad I fired you, because I don’t feel you’re qualified to help me with a damn thing.

I’ll continue to work on my anxiety through my own methods. Maybe that means I’ll get over it without professional help. Maybe I’ll decide to see a psychologist. Maybe I’ll return to taking medication. Maybe I will just learn to live with it. But I’ll tell you this: no matter how I turn out, I’d rather be like me than like you.

Because sure, I’m anxious. But you?

You’re petty, you’re full of shit, and you don’t know me.

Your former patient,

A Helpful Guide: What Is Having Your Shit Together, Really?

“Get your shit together, get it all together and put it in a backpack, all your shit, so it’s together. And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere, you know, take it to the shit store and sell it, or put it in the shit museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it together. Get your shit together.”
Rick and Morty

Having Your Shit Together: A Timeline

This is the only time you will get a pass.  Enjoy the brief period of your life where no one has any expectations of you. As soon as you learn to speak your first word, this ends.

Age 5:
You should be able to read a little bit, write your own name, and have memorized your parents’ addresses and phone numbers. You should know basic facts and major holidays.

Age 10:
You should have at least one interest- drawing or horses or baseball, whatever. You should be able to have polite conversations with adults. You should be able to pour milk into your cereal without spilling it. You should know how to tell time. You should be able to pick out a Mother’s Day present on your own.

Age 15:
You should be good at something- drawing or riding horses or playing baseball, whatever. You should be getting good grades in core classes. You should have a couple of friends that you see outside of school. You should be learning how to drive. You should at least understand the concepts of jobs and finances. You should have your personal hygiene situation under control without reminders.

Age 20:
You should have a job of some sort. You should have at least one hobby outside that job. You should have a “big picture” idea of what you want to start working toward in life. You should be able to handle basic chores like laundry and vacuuming. You should have at least one attempt at dating under your belt. You should remember things like your SSN, driver’s license number, and bank account number.

Age 25:
You should have your own place. You should be saving money or at least paying off debts. You should be able to cook, clean, pay bills, change the oil in your car, and make your own doctor appointments. You should have a few close friends and demonstrate the capability to be in a healthy romantic relationship. You should know when Daylight Saving Time starts and ends. You should dislike one political partly slightly less than the other.

Age 30:
This is the cut-off point. After this, people will suddenly expect you to know how to do everything. Get married, raise children, buy a house, file taxes, apply a tourniquet to a wound, have a vacation fund and an emergency fund, work in a career with a salary, host dinner parties, fold a fitted sheet, recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, foster rescue dogs, build a deck, run for office, find your way around a strange city, lead a population into revolt, correctly use the word “egregious” in a sentence, speak at least one foreign language, read Infinite Jest, soothe a wild beast before it attacks, etc.

And if you think that’s unreasonable, remember that back in your grandfather’s day the cut-off point was 18.

But How?

You’ve realized your shit isn’t together. What are you going to do about it? Here’s a step-by-step guide of what you’ll go through on the way to figuring that out:

1) Total Shock
One morning, you wake up and realize that literally everyone else you know is doing better than you are. You don’t understand how it happened. You feel like you fell behind overnight. You look around in amazement at your peers with their relationships and houses and careers and can’t believe that you guys are the same age.

2) Stubborn Denial
You decide it’s fine. You’re still young. You have time. You’re just being too hard on yourself. Everyone moves at their own speed, it’s silly to measure your progress against others. Plus, everyone else can’t possibly be doing as well as you think. It’s just a trick. Life is good. No need to panic.

3) Blind Panic
This is when you realize that you have a problem. You’re not on track. You still have no idea how you got off-track, but you recognize that you are. You make a few desperate attempts to stay on top of some seemingly simple things, but it’s all too stressful and complicated. You realize you have even less of an idea of what you’re supposed to do than you thought.

4) Overwhelming Despair
You start to get really bummed out about the state of your life. You remember all the things you thought you’d have accomplished by this point. You wonder what’s wrong with you. You can’t muster up the energy to try to fix things anymore.

5) Determined Resignation
“Screw it,” you decide. “This is who I am.” You make peace with the fact that you’re never going to figure it out. You realize it hasn’t been that bad so far, so you might as well stay the course. You keep doing what you have been. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

6) Near-Divine Inspiration
Suddenly, you’ll feel like you were struck with a bolt of lightning. You’ll notice something all of your successful friends have in common and realize it’s something you also have. You’ll think of all the celebrities who were nothing when they were your age. You’ll think of a few things you can do to turn this situation around, and you’ll actually make a plan for doing them.

At this point, you may cycle in and out of the first six steps for an indefinite period of time. But eventually, you’ll get to the next one.

7) Getting Your Shit Together
Your shit will be together. Refer to the Timeline for further details.

What If I Never Get My Shit Together?

Then you can join my club! We write blog posts full of unsolicited advice, and occasionally we’re actually able to trick people into thinking that we know what we’re talking about.