writing

How to be Me for Halloween

With only about two weeks left until Halloween we’ve officially reached that point where you’re either going to have to suck it up and overspend on a costume at an outlet, pull a clever one together at a thrift shop, or cut holes in a trusty white sheet.

I personally am not a huge Halloween person, but I also refuse to be the party pooper in the corner that came as a disgruntled version of myself. So, I’ve got something in the works that hopefully doesn’t turn out terrible. (That’s the spirit!)

When I was brainstorming my costume this year, I scrolled through a bunch of articles online and saw a variety of clever ideas. Television characters and famous personalities, punny collaborations and comically literal depictions of pop culture. In looking through the costumes of athletes and movie stars and TV characters, I started thinking about how funny it is that we love to dress up in “costumes” that depict the casual dress of a character or real-life person. In doing so, I thought about what someone might use to fashion a costume representative of me.

This is what I came up with:

 

What You’ll Need

  • Black leggings
  • A t-shirt and a maroon zip up hoodie OR a crewneck sweatshirt
  • No-show socks
  • Black converse
  • A birthmark on the middle finger of your left hand
  • A Fitbit
  • A broken-in hair tie on your left wrist
  • A hydroflask water bottle
  • A medium sized purse containing a Mary Poppins assortment of practical things
  • A casual blend of awkward, anxious, and confident
  • Well timed bad jokes
  • Well timed laughter to back up the jokes

How to Pull Off the Character

  • Be nice to most everyone, but don’t be afraid to give the occasional dirty look and/or refusal of laughter to a clear cut asshole
  • Whenever there is an awkward silence, look at your nails
  • Whenever you’re trying to fill an awkward silence, overuse finger guns for no reason and then regret it for hours afterwards.
  • Try to work Chopped into almost every conversation
  • Squirm around desperately whenever given a compliment
  • Consistently be cold, regardless of the weather.
  • Constantly mention how much you’re craving ice cream
  • Cry after almost every commercial
  • Resist making any decisions regarding dinner choices
  • Follow all the rules without shame

Key Vocabulary Words/Phrases

  • “Dude”
  • “Oh my gosh!”
  • “What a day”
  • “Shitty”
  • “I’m about it”
  • “Truth”
  • “Honestly, though!”

 

Did I just invent some sort of psychological “know thyself” exercise? Because I feel like I just explored the inner depths of my psyche. Credit me in the textbooks, folks.

In the meantime, what would a Halloween costume of you look like? I might need some backup ideas…

Swipe-tember: What I Learned from Spending a Month on Dating Apps

After recently turning 27 I had the normal rush of emotions, as well as a few new, introduced-in-the-late-twenties specific ones. For example: ARE MY EGGS DYING?

This was more or less a ticking time bomb. With friends in every direction getting married and having babies and then more babies, as I sit on my couch watching Food Network eating another re-microwaved meal for one, I was destined to start hearing the clock tick. And if that didn’t do it, the now normal tendency of family, friends, and acquaintances alike to graze over the “are you seeing anyone?” territory as often as they can, just in case a two week period we go without seeing each other might provide me a husband and vicious fertility, surely would.

I consider myself to be kind of old fashioned. With a string of well-set examples in my family, I fully believe there is someone wandering around the world that is meant for me. It’s also fair to say that while I’m not against dating apps, I often doubt their credibility, mostly because I assume everyone on the Internet is a serial killer. Amongst this paranoia however, also lies curiosity. Multiple friends have asked me why I won’t give dating apps a try, and while the “everyone’s a catfish waiting in the wings to kill me” excuse usually ends the conversation, there have been a few that remain persistent, quoting some form of the “don’t knock it til you try it” variety.

So, I decided to try it. “One month”, I said. “I’ll log on and sell out for one month, just to see what it’s all about.” Thus, on September 1st I downloaded Bumble, giving life to an experiment I was calling “Swipe-tember.”

While creating my profile, I felt like I was back in 9th grade creating a Myspace. Back then, besides AIM, Myspace was the best way to showcase who you were both to strangers and, more commonly, the classmates you saw all day, every day. Being an awkward kid with wiry braces and low self esteem, I was desperate to create an impressive profile, so I dove headfirst into the world of coding, providing myself the skills to add music, graphics, and a well written, well organized, yet fittingly brief autobiography.

On Bumble, while I had less creative freedom in terms of profile design, I had just as much responsibility to present an impressive introduction. This time around however, I felt the responsibility was reversed. No longer did I have as much interest in presenting what I felt was expected or desired, as I did to express an honest depiction of the person doing the presenting.

High school, college, and the corresponding years of self-discovery had provided me with a much more balanced sense of who I was, what I wanted and what I deserved. I had no interest in creating a veiled version of myself, only to meet an Internet stranger in person using a matador style “ta-da!” with who I really was. If I was actually going to do this, even if I didn’t necessarily expect or intend to go on many (if any) dates, I was going to be up front about it. So when it came to profile pictures, I chose a handful that represented the different parts of my personality i.e. a travel hungry, family oriented, Los Angeles Dodger loving fisherman.

And for my bio, I lasagna-ed in a few more.

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In the end, I was happy with who I presented, because at the very least, I knew it was me, and even if this materialized into nothing more than the experiment it started as, I’d walk away regret free.

Next came the swiping.

While I knew the general principle of the act, as I’d seen friends do it to pass the time, determining fates with their thumbs, there was a different kind of pressure associated with being the one behind the screen. If I swiped right, I essentially gave someone the chance to be the love of my life, but if I swiped left, I was banishing them to the confines of an existence separate from my own for the remainder of time. (It sounds dramatic, but it’s true if you think about it.)

In determining who I would offer that fateful right swipe to, I did my best to overanalyze. I understood that it was supposed to be a glance, choose and go type of situation, but the only way I’d been convinced to join the app in the first place was to remove the association I made with people on the internet as devious catfish, thus forcing myself to see them as people, just like me, and in doing so I felt they at least deserved a glance at the entire person they chose to present.

Over the course of the month, I flipped through hundreds of profiles, “meeting” all kinds of guys. Oftentimes I’d swipe through a few batches of profiles, then close the app, only to return a few hours later to find my inbox full of matches. On Bumble, it is the girl’s “job” to make the first move, so as I would scroll through this list of strangers I’d opened the lines of communication with, I realized that I now had the responsibility of entertaining them.

No. Not responsibility. Opportunity.

More than anything, dating and meeting new people is an opportunity, and it’s important to ensure that it is beneficial to both parties. As I sat wondering what I should say to this group of strangers, I realized that unless I wanted to lead with a Google suggested witty comment or joke or internet meme, I didn’t have to. I didn’t have to do anything. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize the parallels between both on and offline dating. For no matter what app I was logged into or in-person conversation I was starting with a stranger, I was in control. It didn’t have to be written in the rules, it didn’t have to coincide with the narrative I thought would be most desirable. I have the power to start a conversation and I have the power to stop it. I have the opportunity to let someone get to know me and I have the right to walk away.

I’ve always been very shy when it comes to new people, and as a result have walked away from many conversations feeling like a failure. Oftentimes I’ve felt as if it were my responsibility to keep a conversation going and if I couldn’t, I assumed I wasn’t interesting or worthy of a meaningful relationship with that person.

Talking to the guys on Bumble, I realized how much I relied on them to give back what I offered them, even if that just meant politeness. I didn’t have to accept aggressive sexual innuendos or overly personal questions, and letting those conversations peter out didn’t make me less interesting or worthy of finding a meaningful connection. We were all people looking for something, and it was okay if I didn’t want the same things.

I’ll admit, it’s been a couple weeks since I logged into the app. After making a diligent effort for the first half of September, my busy schedule consumed most of my time and I often didn’t think about Bumble until right before I fell asleep. But while I didn’t put in the time and effort one might need in order to find the rare, yet meaningful connection the online world may have to offer, I’m still glad I gave it a shot. If anything, it was a great reminder that I’ve grown up a lot since high school and I am more prepared now than I ever was then to wander my way into a love story.

And while I don’t know if I’ll continue to pursue the world of online dating, I won’t count it out either, because I think the most important thing to remember when it comes to dating is to be open and honest. Open, that is, to the opportunity to find love anywhere, in a variety of different scenarios, even ones that might seem impossible. And honest in that no matter where you are or who you’re talking to, you are being yourself. Because in many cases, the people you meet on and offline are just like you. They have friends getting married and having babies, they have family members pressuring them to do the same, and they may or may not have eggs that they fear are dying. So give them a chance. Give you a chance. Take a swipe at love and see where you end up.

Sometimes They Just Know (feat. My Sister)

My sister has always been good with kids. She has the patience and the kindness and the key voice change required to get them to both listen and understand you. When she was 16, she started working at a summer camp where she quickly became highly and widely adored by all. They called her, “Miss Natalee” and the name fit.

A few years later, after she graduated high school, she entered college as a Child Development major and got a job as a Preschool Teacher’s Assistant while she finished her degree. It was hard. She worked hard. But even though some days at the preschool were exhausting and some night classes were worse, she still managed to get up every morning and put a smile on her face, because she knew those kids deserved it and that she loved them with all her heart.

When my sister got out of school, she started to specialize her zone of work to kids with special needs. She wanted them to be known rather than just sympathized for and nervously looked at. About a year ago, she took a job as a shadow for a little girl named Tess who was born with sensory processing disorder and apraxia as a result of being born extremely premature. Many people might have been intimidated by a case like this, but my sister took in stride, understanding that no matter how hard a day was for her, it was 10 times harder for Tess.

Last fall, my church hosted a Harvest Festival for Halloween and invited families to come out in their costumes to play games, exchange candy, etc. My sister and I signed up to run a face painting booth where we spent the evening creating subpar masterpieces on children’s cheeks.

One 6-year-old reviewer of my work called it, “Okay.” Another said, “Thanks, I guess.”

After we were done, when the last kid walked away with an average amount of satisfaction, we made our way to the buffet to overeat. With our plates stacked high and our hands still cramping, we took a seat around one of the tables and ate and shared stories of our failed face paintings with our fellow churchgoers. Once the meal was finished, the MC announced it was time to reveal the winners of the pumpkin carving competition. My sister and I turned our chairs forward and as we awaited the winners, we saw a little boy turn around in his chair. He glanced at me briefly, then looked at my sister and smiled. A few seconds later, the MC announced the winner to be none other than this little boy. He went up on stage and collected his prize, then walked back to his table to hug his mom, all the while glancing over at my sister with a smile.

My mom made a comment about how cute all of the pumpkins had come out and was about to suggest we start cleaning up, when suddenly a little voice interrupted her. The little boy walked up to the table with caution, his eyes on the ground, and my sister immediately greeted him with a smile and congratulations. He blushed and said thank you and then immediately looked back down at his feet. The group of us exchanged a smile, then we all watched in amazement as the boy slowly walked towards my sister and climbed up on her lap. We were stunned. Had she met him in the preschool room where she volunteers on Sundays?  Had he been in her group for Vacation Bible School in the summer?

“No,” my sister said after he left, “I’ve never talked to him before.”

Later that week, when we were back at church on Sunday morning, a woman came up to my mom and I to talk about the Harvest Festival and what a success she thought it was.

“Not to mention I saw little Aaron sitting on Natalee’s lap at the end of the night.”

“Yeah, he really latched on to her out of nowhere, it was so cute!”

“He’s not usually like that, but sometimes they just know.”

“What do you mean?”

She went on to explain that Aaron had a few different learning disabilities and was often very shy and slow to take to other people. But there must have been something about my sister, some sort of undeniable goodness that made him trust her instantly.

“Sometimes they just know.”

They know, I know, & I hope you know.

Happy birthday!

Writing What I Want (Another Try at Blogging)

I want to write a book. Like really bad. But I’m not sure what to write about. I find it the easiest to write about myself. My day to day activities; my failures; my lack of love and heartbreak; my terminal nuttiness.

I try to write as often as I can; whenever I feel the inspiration. But after I get the initial word vomit typed into my Word document, I become stuck, judgmental, and frustrated with myself, so I stop. As a result I’m left with an incomplete thought and less hope for a complete book. Who would want to read a book with not one complete thought? Actually, I probably would.  I would feel an immediate kinship with the author.

I suppose my biggest problem is that when I start a thought process, I’m in my own stream of consciousness. I know how I’m feeling and I’m expressing it in the best way I know how. Then, I start to wonder how others will interpret this train of thought. Will they enjoy it? Will they hate it? So I start to conform to those—who do not exist at this point—who are reading my book—which does not exist at this point. I try to write things that will make them laugh, or inspire them, and then I hit a wall. It makes sense. This is how most social interactions go for me when I meet someone new. I try to think of material they would find interesting rather than what I actually want to talk about. To me, a perfect world would be one where upon meeting someone you can immediately cut the shit and skip to the part where I tell you all my little oddities. “Hey, I’m Kim. My second toe is longer than my big toe, I still cut the crusts off my sandwiches and I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. Shall we be besties?”

The biggest problem I have with writing is the fear of actually finishing a book. So let’s say somehow I actually pull myself together and complete a—most likely unconventional—novel, then what? What happens if it just stays in the confines of computer for only my eyes? What if it’s wildly successful and suddenly people start wanting to meet me or know how I take my coffee? I HATE COFFEE.  So much stress. It’s a marvel anyone ever writes/finishes a book. How do they handle all of these emotions?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, of a large variety of books. I went through a period of reading sappy romantic books that made me hate my life a little bit. I read the Fault in Our Stars which simultaneously built and crushed my universe. I read a bunch of autobiographies by hilarious women I wish I could be. (I.e. Ellen DeGeneres & Mindy Kaling) And right now, I’m reading a book about dead people. Yes, dead people.

In doing all of this reading, I came to an important realization: I can write about whatever I want.  There are absolutely zero guidelines or limitations on how to write a book. It can be about anything. It can be any shape, any color, any language. It can be written backwards, upside down, in a font made of flaming unicorns. You name it, you can do it.

So I’m going to.

It may not become a book. It may not become anything at all, but it will have been written, and that’s what matters.