Love in the Time of COVID-19


For the record, I did not grow up in a household of doomsdayers… but I did grow up in a household that, in my memory, was always in a position to hunker down for two-plus weeks without needing to go anywhere.

I’m not really sure if it was just a matter of hating to be without something we needed or desired, but we always had what I, as an adult, have considered to be an excessive amount of everything. Cheerios. Toilet paper. Frozen chicken. Shampoo. Dog food. Tylenol. Ice cream. Bacon. And, though not exactly a survival necessity… books and movies.

I’ve also always been drawn to the post-apocalyptic genre. I’m the type who has had a plan for the zombie apocalypse since I was probably 12 years old… or whenever it was that my dad first had me watch The Night of the Living Dead. Also, I might be making this up, but I believe he once told me where to meet him and my mom if the local Air Force base was ever bombed. We’re slightly-pessimistic planners, and seemingly made for hunkering down during a wide-scale pandemic.

Recommendation: There’s a 2007 2-episode movie-thing on Amazon Video called Pandemic. It stars Tiffani Amber-Thiessen and will feed your COVID anxiety while also making you wonder what Kelly Kapowski is doing nowadays. And, hey, check out the rest of the cast… not the worst I’ve ever seen.

Eric Roberts, Faye Dunaway, and Tiffani Thiessen in Pandemic (2007)

Now the excess of my childhood no longer seems excessive, but has become a comforting and helpful thing. When I think back on my up-bringing I have generally hated how it shaped me into a compulsive hoarder, but now, my ridiculous personality quirk has magically equipped me for the current and unforeseeable TP shortage in ways that I never would have fathomed. In my possession, I have 24 containers of tic tacs… that I purchased before Americans thought anything of Coronavirus.

Carmex, coffee beans, and organic caramel sauce galore! I’m not saying I’ll be healthy or happy with what I have if the ish really hits the fan in coming weeks. I may, for instance, end up drinking organic red pepper salad dressing for entire meals, but in the apocalypse calories are calories. Besides, I have enough Flintstones Vitamins to stave off scurvy for a year, probably.

On a more sobering note, I signed into my first Zoom class today to do a test run before the University of Arizona goes online tomorrow, and my professor predicted that education has now changed forever. He’s usually right about such things. He started switching us over to online classes weeks before anyone in the U.S. was talking about any shutdowns. I think he’s probably right. But it’s sad. I’ve always believed education should be conducted in person and by people.

I’m supposed to be graduating in a couple of months, and though I suspect my official end of law school won’t be delayed, I doubt there will be a ceremony. On the one hand, that’s sad, but on the other hand, I’ve never really liked making a fuss about things anyway. What actually concerns me is the Bar exam. I’m supposed to be taking it in July… hopefully they can make that work somehow.

Another prediction of my professor is that grading of the Bar and our regular classes will be rather gentler than usual, with a bit of a grace period for people to get used to new processes. One can only hope.

I also have to say that COVID-19 has not put a damper on my love life just yet. I decided to get back to online dating mere days before the panic started, and I wouldn’t want my subscription to go to waste, so instead of the routine coffee or dinner for a first date, I’m meeting up with potential mates for nice walks outside. It’s actually rather sweet and far less awkward than many of my first dates of the past. After all, it is Spring… the sun is shining and if it worked as a time for Bambi and his buddies, perhaps I can become delightfully twitterpated even in the time of COVID-19.

Dark humor and sarcasm aside, I hope everyone is staying safe, adjusting to the isolation, and finding some peace in the pandemic. Keep calm and carry on never had more meaning to me than it does right now.

Is this What Mansplaining Is: Non-lawyers Who Keep Telling Me What It’s Like to Be a Lawyer


Sorry to write about specific people, but it still bothers me that when I told my dad I was going to apply to law school, he said, “You know that’s competitive, right?”

No way… really? I thought it was going to be a piece of cake! Every movie I’ve ever seen makes it seem like anyone could do it.

“You know it isn’t always being in a courtroom and doing trials. There is a lot of paperwork.”

Again… really? I’m shocked!

_________________________________________________________________

Text conversation with new guy… who I have yet to meet, by the way…

Him: “Are you in summer break at school?”

Me: “Yep, although it’s more exhausting to me than being in school because with internships it’s more like the ordinary grind of a normal work week. There isn’t much flexibility in the schedule and it’s a lot of time sitting at a desk.”

Him: “When are you doing your internship? How much longer do you have ahead of yourself? You know that once you graduate you will have no life and will be working 70+ hours a week right?”

Me: (Blinks several times)…

Me: …

Me: …

Me: (Blinks again)…

 

 

It takes every bit of humility in me not to find the most sarcastic, biting retort and send it to him.

 

Funny thing… every dude I have met online tells me that he once wanted to be a lawyer, but he usually decided it was too hard either before even taking a practice test for the LSAT or just after taking one. I met one guy who did some paralegal stuff, then took the LSAT and got a low score, then gave up. The one I met who got the furthest along the law conveyor belt dropped out after his second year of law school. (All of these choices are completely valid, by the way… it’s fine not to be a lawyer. It’s not for everyone.)

 

So, question: why on earth do all of these dudes think they are in the right position to tell me what it will be like for me once I graduate? Plus, they always do it in this manner that’s marked by a condescending benevolence, where they act like they are doing me a favor. It’s as if I have completed two years of law school, but somehow am wearing rose colored glasses. Like I am just a precious, naive, delicate flower who needs a man with less education under his belt (and little or no legal education or work experience) to swoop in and save the day.

 

Is this what mansplaining is? I haven’t really got it figured out when the word mansplaining fits. It fits here, right?

 

 

 

Summer Lovin’


Karen suggested that I should blog about dating. Because she knows. I’ve been leaning on her a lot lately. But I’m not writing this for her. I’m writing for me. 🙂

Thanks, Karen.

 

You know, I completely understand why people stick around in shitty relationships. Why it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to stay in love with him, even though he’s sleeping around. Why it doesn’t seem so terrible that she’s controlling. Why you might stay with him even though he hit your kid. Why one E.R. visit never seems quite as bad as everyone else makes it out to be. Why she went back to him after he choked her and slit her throat.

When I was volunteering with Victim Services, the constant thing was this question of why victims stay in shitty and abusive relationships, but I totally understand it.

 

I dated someone this summer. Yeah, we’re not even halfway through with the summer, but I’d like to file this relationship away as if it’s a summer romance that happened a long time ago.

 

My Person works with the blind. Has a kid. Is stable in life. Smart. Funny. Recently rescued a puppy.

I liked that I beat My Person at Scrabble by about 200 points every time we played. I liked that we texted throughout the day. That we held hands all the time. Lounged on the couch together while watching tv.

I liked the relationship-y things that we did.

I felt like in this particular relationship, I was making a good choice. I haven’t really had a relationship before. Most of you know that. I’ve dated a lot, but haven’t really done the long-term thing.

So I decided I need to give it a try.

And you know, My Person seemed like a pretty decent one to try with… right up until My Person broke up with me because I wasn’t ready for an overnight in Phoenix.

I know, right?

It blew my mind, because that’s the sort of thing that only happens on 90s television. 90s tv was always trying to help us be better people. Teaching us not to do drugs. Not to have an eating disorder. Not to date anyone who would pressure us to have sex.

I miss 90s tv.

My Person discarded me because I didn’t provide a pleasure My Person felt entitled to have.

When I was initially invited to go to Phoenix, it was to the tune of, “No pressure… open invitation.”

Then, when I said no, it was a week of not-so-subtle hinting and teasing and even some outright pressuring me to go.

Then, when it became clear I really meant no, My Person broke up with me. Over text.

Then texted me the next day to apologize.

Then texted me the day after that to see if I would like to get coffee to talk and to see if we can still be friends.

 

I get that we were only together for a month…

But it meant something to me…

People so often act nonchalant about stuff like this… like it’s no big deal and we should all be able to emotionally handle the one-month breakup oh-so-very easily.

Just for the record, it’s not easy.

It’s never easy to deal with someone discarding you.

That’s why rejection in dating feels so terrible.

Even if I ignore all of the hopes and plans for the future that never came to fruition… that day I requested off of work, because we were going to spend it together… the plans to see this or that movie, do this or that activity together…

All of those things have to be grieved, but even if I ignore everything else that hurts in breakups… there’s still, always, that terrible, terrible truth that someone else shat all over my identity.

 

Sure, sometimes breakups are logistics or geography… timing or incompatibility… but mostly they are a commentary on the person being dumped.

 

Not worth the effort unless there’s sex.

 

That was the commentary on Kate.

 

And you know what is the craziest thing ever?

I want My Person back.

Not really… but sometimes, in the stupid part of my heart that wants to go back and re-have what we had.

 

I’ve watched most of the women in my life stay in shitty relationships. I’ve also watched a complete stranger want to go back to him after he shot her son, choked her, beat the hell out of her, slit her throat, and cut off the tips of her fingers.

 

Because there is something about the way a romance impacts identity… validates identity… destroys identity… builds up… magnifies… reveals… reflects… identity.

 

That’s why DV victims can’t leave him. Identity.

 

I was proud of the choices I made in my summer fling with My Person. I did a truly spectacular job setting boundaries and paying attention to what was really going on in the relationship and why.

On day one, I was aware enough to suspect that My Person wasn’t used to hearing no. I was careful. Payed attention.

I also had a lot of fun. I allowed myself to really try. To be vulnerable. To hope. To have secrets within and about this relationship. To kiss.

Prior to this relationship, it had been more than ten years since I’d kissed anyone.

This is totally a side-beef that I have, but not kissing is one of those things that I think married people don’t get. They can’t. Some of them probably don’t have a ton of sex, but it’s impossible to explain to a married Christian how painful it is to try to “kiss dating goodbye” Joshua Harris style. And, okay, not all Christians do the no kissing thing, and I honestly wasn’t even trying not to kiss… but the Christian dating world is a bleak, bleak place. There was nobody I even wanted to kiss, nor would they have been on-board for a kis on or before the one-month mark.

And yes, I admit it, My Person is not a Christian. Had my person been a Christian, we would have talked a lot about marriage and baby-making and predestination… but we definitely wouldn’t have kissed.

 

Side-beef rant ended.

 

Yes, the correct question right now is how all of this fits into my faith. I don’t have a good answer for you. My beliefs about Who God is and how to read the Bible and what God expects from me have changed a lot. However, I’m not having a crisis of faith. As has been my habit since I was 17, God and I talk nearly every day. I read my Bible. Journal. Listen. Ask Him questions. He’s teaching me things… but I haven’t got it figured out just yet.

 

I will say I think I’ve learned that it takes a remarkable sense of self-worth to do the relationship thing well. Were I the type of girl who doesn’t see any value in herself, I would have gone to Phoenix and I would still be with My Person.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to consider others more important than myself. That’s what Jesus would do, right? That’s what the Bible legit tells us we should be doing… Phillippians 2:3. And you can qualify that ish all you want with talk about appropriate boundaries or how Paul was only telling us to be that way within the church… but Paul didn’t qualify it that way, nor do I think he meant us to only take on a humble posture like that with other Christians. And had I considered My Person more important than myself, it would have been disastrous.

 

On that note… I have a date with a New Person this weekend. New Person seems nice. Is interested in theology. Doesn’t drink. Doesn’t like texting. The rest will have to be discovered over time. Here’s to hoping New Person and I do better than a 90s tv breakup… over text message (which I understand didn’t exist in the 90s).

🙂

The End of My Self


*Yes, I’m aware that the word is myself… by I really mean it to be more like my self… with self as the noun, and my as possessive. You also have a self… that’s what I’m writing about today.

I remember sitting with the Johnsons, and one or both of them pointed out that I don’t do a very good job of needing, and, perhaps that’s one of the reasons I gravitate toward singleness. They tried to explain the difference between needing someone to live… and just needing someone. Just because the heart keeps beating once someone is gone and that person lives on… that doesn’t mean the need for that lost person has lessened. I get that… and I think I got it in a very intellectual capacity then. However, I also had an intellectual understanding of my misunderstanding of “need.”

I tucked that thought away and brought it out every so often, never quite feeling that “need” for someone, but always knowing that I was missing something.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to date. I don’t regret any of the relationships that never happened, because none of those guys were right for me and I wasn’t ready anyways… and, while I used to have the luxury of believing myself to be unattractive and unlovable, God has worked on me and shown me that I no longer have to try at femininity… I’ve actually changed enough that most people don’t even see the softball in me anymore. They think I’m just a nice, sweet girl, and when I try to put together a dodge ball team at work, they say things like, “I’ll only play if you get some athletic people on the team.” I mean, what am I… a delicate flower or something? 😉 I don’t even feel upset that they can’t see division 1 scholarship offers for how well I throw a ball.

But, if we’re real about things, I have to admit that there have been two major obstacles between me and men:

1. I didn’t understand needing a man.

2. I was, and am, terrified of needing a man.

Softball Katie, you see, had never come to the end of herself, really. She could always run one more mile, read one more book, find one more solution to a problem, buy a house or a car for herself, etc… She was just doing her thing and enjoying it.

That changed about 3 years ago, when I started reaching the end of myself/my self.

I can’t say that I needed someone to provide me with food, $, or even emotional support. I was fine. And, in being real about it, I’ve never understood the question: “Are you okay?” because everything is always fine, and I’m always okay. At mile 16, when my calves are cramping and I’m literally struggling to walk, I’m okay. When I’m sobbing alone, I’m okay. I’m not saying I’m splendid, but I have always had a knowledge that it’s going to be what it’s going to be, and the best way to make it through things is to know, with all confidence, that it’s okay.

However, coming to the end of myself felt an awful lot like needing someone.

And it felt like not being okay… even though I knew I was okay.

It was a deep longing… for someone to take care of _________ every now and then. Maybe food, or $, or emotional support… not because I couldn’t provide those things for myself, but more because the pains were heavy… and I just wanted to not be dealing with them independently. I wanted and needed someone to do something that I always do for myself… maybe something as simple as driving when I didn’t want to drive, or microwaving dinner, or putting a hand on my shoulder while I was crying. And I can’t even say that it’s a loneliness, although it is sort of that… it’s honestly that sense of needing that I didn’t understand while the Johnsons were explaining it to me.

During lunch at work a few days ago, everyone was talking about ordering a pizza on our early release day next week, and they asked me if I wanted in. I joked about having a fear of commitment, but I thanked them for asking… and Lawrence laughed and said, “You do have a fear of commitment.”

Everyone looked at me oddly, because it was one of those rare glimpses you get into a person you’ve known for a long time without actually knowing. And I never talk about dating with them. I never talk about anything personal with them, so I think they think I don’t date… or maybe they think I sleep around, but keep it quiet. Lawrence obviously knows me slightly better and thinks my singleness is my fault… this isn’t the first time he’s spoken of my singleness with blame and almost disdain in his voice… like I’m not like everyone else, which means there’s something wrong with me.

But I’ve been trying to learn a lesson in regards to sameness. As we try to push all of our students to be college and career ready, by making them all like one another, I’m frustrated with this factory mentality of quality control, as if people are like Starbucks drinks, and should all come out tasting exactly the same regardless of where and when and how we encounter them. I love buying Starbucks in other countries, but the reason for that is because everything else is and should be different…

In Peru, the kids were so different from American kids. They had a visible and wondrous knowledge that they weren’t the center of anything. The landscapes were different. The air was different… which is why I love traveling. I love that feeling I get when I exit an airport in Mongolia, and see people who look different, speaking a different language. People who eat a lot of goats, and drink fermented horse milk. People who use different bathrooms and love ping pong the way Americans love television.

In the midst of all the differences, Starbucks, however, is exactly the same, which is cool, but only because it’s the only thing that’s the same.

In the states, we decided long ago that different was inherently unequal… and that inequality was evil.

But I think God treats us with inequality… and I think it’s okay.

I could sit around envying all of my friends who found love when they were 20. I could be angry with God for giving them something He didn’t give me… even when they made more obvious and frequent mistakes than I made or when they were immature in this way or that…

But, no matter how many judgment-filled comments my friends have for my choices about love or friendship or whatever… I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t. And maybe I still am not ready. I’m not ready to run 26.2 miles, but that doesn’t mean I never will be ready or that I’m not working towards it. I have exactly one friend who is working towards 26.2 at the same time I am. And she’s already run it before. Twice. And she may drop out any day. Which is all okay, because she isn’t me, and shouldn’t live her life exactly as I live mine. I’d love to have her there for the run, but I won’t judge her if she does something different.

I’ve been reading a book called THE COOL IMPOSSIBLE, which is about running, and it reaffirms my belief that it’s so important for each person to run her own race, because each of us is inherently different.

“The hardest thing for a person to do is to run as he or she normally does when she knows there’s someone watching,” (Orton 22).

A girl must run at her own pace. She must overcome the obstacles on her path… which may be very different from the obstacles on another person’s path. She must wear the shoes that work best for her. She must listen to music, or sermons, or nothing… depending on what that day and that moment call for. And, while it’s nice to run races with others, it isn’t an insult when we hit a fork in the road and go off in different directions. A great runner can balk a run that should be “easy” and a novice can inexplicably own a really difficult run. Because inequality is built into our experience here on Earth.

It took me a long time to reach the end of myself… probably mostly because I didn’t want to believe there was an end to my self. Unfortunately, that meant that it took me a long time to see the value in having someone next to me… to help me keep going past the end of myself. It took me a long time to see the value in risking heartache. And none of that means that I’m going to find the guy tomorrow, but maybe it means that I’ll be a little slower to throw relationships away before they even get going. Maybe it means I finally want marriage… when I’ve never really wanted it before.

Clearly, UNARGUABLY, Not My Fault


After not drinking the bad coffee in Atlanta, I boarded my 4 ish hour flight back to Tucson.

I had not shaved my left leg for more than a week; I had not showered that evening; I had not slept that evening; I was not wearing make-up; I was wearing workout pants that probably smelled like sweat, because I had not washed them for more than a week; I sat down, put my headphones on, willed that “Eff off” onto my forehead (you know, the one from Hitch that my friends claim I lack) and I LITERALLY prayed that God would seat me next to a frumpy, middle-aged woman who was too caught up reading The Fault in Our Stars to even think about talking to me.

Instead, the person who took the seat next to me was a 33-year-old aviator who was born in Jamaica, currently living in Milwaukee, but making his first trip to Tucson to try to figure out his impending move here for work. It was evidently going to be his job to fix our airport and help it grow an extra terminal.

He was nice and undaunted by the “Eff off” and Annie Lennox screaming through my headphones. He kept talking to me even though I kept trying not to talk to him. He also laughed at me and tried to explain that airplanes are super safe, because I sometimes grip the armrest violently when a plane I’m on makes one of those unexpected, roller coaster drops that gets my stomach.

Eventually, he asked me if I’d show him around Tucson that evening because he only had 24 hours to make up his mind. I sort of lied, telling him I was going to spend time with friends, which was true ish, because I did spend time with them, but had plenty of daylight left after getting lunch with Lauren and the kiddos.

Then, he asked for my phone number.

I told him that I wasn’t comfortable giving it out.

He said that he understood.

Like an hour later, just as we were landing, he asked if he’d be able to see me again.

I said no.

He looked sad, so I told him that I’ve recently been less careful than I ought to be.

He said he was sorry.

He waited a few minutes, then told me that he really just wanted friends, and I’d described my friends in a way that made him feel like he could connect with them. He was concerned about making the move to Tucson without knowing anyone… which could’ve been a creeper tactic, but I also felt for him.

So I gave him my email address.

He offered me a heartfelt thank you.

And it is not my fault!

NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT!

I don’t know why men are into me lately, but it’s not because of anything I’m doing, so don’t blame me. I could not have made myself less appealing or less approachable before that flight.