Saturday, January 7, 2012

Five Things

It was trendy, for a while, to make lists of 25 or 50 or 3,000 things that one felt one should share with one's Facebook friends (and is it just me, or is "one" one of the more pretentious pronouns out there?), which would lead to people "tagging" other folks whose lists they wanted to see, and there would be cascades of lists happening everywhere, itemized tidbits of information raining down on unsuspecting Facebook compadres.

This is my 297th post. This blog has given me a chance to spout all kind of opinions on the interwebs, and I've loved writing it, but there's only so much you can glean from a person based on how much he or she resents Margaret Atwood (in my case? Plenty. Sorry Maggie. If it makes you feel any better, I liked what you had to say about Toronto's libraries this year). I figured, hey, why not do a litter series of stuff for whoever reads this to get to know me better.

1. I've never liked my name. Kaitlyn is a 1980s name, and has always reminded me of other people rather than me. I think my mom had some regrets, too: despite it being spelled with a "y" on my birth certificate, she spelled it Kaitlin for most of my childhood, and told me much later that the reason for the switch was that Kaitlyn had a trendy vibe that the "i" undercut (somehow?). I found out in high school and switched it back, leading to all kinds of mix-ups on attendance forms that I used to my advantage. Either way, the name is silly. My friend Mark and uncle Kevin call me Kate, a short-form that delights me because it makes me feel even less like myself, and my friend Liz calls me Kaiko, which I love.

My brother and sister have classic, albeit very white-person, names, and I like to think that my parents learned that naming their kids after characters in Paul Newman movies isn't a good life decision for anyone.

2. I am totally addicted to Coke Zero, but rarely finish the last couple sips. If Coke made a 330 mL can, that would be perfect. Instead, I just leave tantalizing droplets in all the fifty thousand cans I leave littered through my life and infuriate everyone.

3. I'm 28 years old, and I still sleep with my baby blanket. When I left for university, my parents told me that people would laugh at me if I brought it, but people were awed when they found out my blanket had made the trip to higher education. They all said variations on the same thing: "My parents told me people would laugh, so I left it behind." They usually said it with a wistful, envious look on their faces as they ran their fingers along the sateen binding of my battered and much-loved blanket.

4. I have pretty wicked social anxiety. For years, I dealt with that by drinking until I felt loosey-goosey enough to talk to people, but that's not really a long-term solution, liver-wise. Social anxiety, for me at least, is a constant feeling of being looked at, judged, and found lacking, and the fear of screwing up in front of all those judges. It's based on nothing in reality, but can be really hard to shake - in my case, it's led to panic attacks at work and in uncomfortable social situations. Talking to sales people and receptionists is the worst, along with waiting in lines.

Talking about social anxiety has been something I've only started to do recently. There are a few people with whom I feel truly comfortable, like my immediate family, my close friends, and my boyfriend - almost every other interaction I have is tinged with a bit of panic. It usually goes something along the lines of "What if you fainted right now?" and that little thought becomes a roar so loud, I can't hear anything else. I become convinced I'm too hot, or that I'm dizzy, or that I'm going to faint from hunger if I haven't eaten in more than a couple hours. Let me say again that I know these aren't rational thoughts, but irrational thoughts are pretty tough to dismiss when they're causing a physical stress reaction.

I don't know why these things happen. I know how they happen, and when (work settings are a particularly intense trigger, because hello, work is stressful, and because my last job was such a gong show), but the why is a tricky one. I know I'm not alone - a lot of my family and some of my friends are under the spell of mild to moderate social anxiety, and we've commiserated about the challenges and frustrations of feeling totally tweaked when everyone seems relaxed and, you know, normal.

5. The only kind of pants I really wear are sweats and capris. Jeans? I always feel weird in jeans, and I rarely wear them. My boyfriend is sighs wistfully and saying, "But your ass? In jeans? Damn," but I can barely go ten minutes without hitching them up or scrunching them down. Jeans are not my friend, but linen capris than make me look 63 are totally my jam.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How Much Is That Diamond Dog Brooch In The Window?

I have sadly developed a new interest this year, one that, if taken to its logical conclusion, will end up costing me lots and lots of money. No, I haven't taken up designer drugs or overpriced yoga wear - I've started browsing online for jewelry.

I was never really a jewelry person. My friend Rachel is - she has a wall of bangles and barrettes, of feathered hairpieces and bauble necklaces. She buys from thrift stores and local boutiques, and has such an array of choices that she can, and will, create a look that is literally like something you might see in the pages of a magazine. Aside from her irrational attachment to the colour mustard, Rachel is one of my most stylish friends, and a lot what she does to finish her looks is all in the way she accessorizes.

I have my standard choices that affect my look from day to day, like my stretched-out earlobes that offer a peek at the landscape behind me, but are small enough not to scare the children. Those earrings give me an ever-so-slightly edgy look, which I forget about all the time because I've worn them for so long. When I worked at a bakery five years ago, I had to take them out for health and safety reasons - a ridiculous notion, because the earrings literally screwed into my earlobes. My bosses insisted, which definitely contributed to my general malaise at that job - that, and all the ambient flour, leading to a dryness level in the bake shop that led to nosebleeds.

Ahem. I digress. In high school, I had stretched ears, but my look was a lot more day-glo raver girl, a look that was, in hindsight, very stupid. I also dyed my hair pink and wore orange eyeshadow, so, like, you know - not a style icon, I was. Thank god I didn't wear a ton of jewelry, or I would have probably ended up looking like one of classmates, who wore a hemp necklace threaded with jawbreaker-sized wooden beads. (Let's just all agree right now that the intersection of late-1990s fashion trends and the reasoning power of a 16-year-girl's mind led to very bad decisions regarding accessories and leave it at that.)

I never really follow trends when it comes to jewelry, mostly because I can't afford to follow trends in jewelry. The upper style eschelon always seems to be suggesting that women dangle beads from their head or wear enormous hats, looks that work best for women who spend most of their time in front of cameras or donating money, and rotating between bangles and brooches and rings and all the others is damned expensive. For the plebes, most women only have a few pieces of fine jewelry throughout their lives - engagement rings, maybe a nice bracelet for an anniversary, or a gift to one's own self once the divorce is finalized.

So my new interest in jewelry is a little unsettling, because I just can't afford to love anything I see - it costs me in either heartbreak or cash, and neither is fun. There are a couple things baby investments I've made in the last couple months, like Catbird's dreamy little memory ring. (Catbird is my jewelry spirit animal - I covet so many of their little gems, because their jewelry combines subtlety and beauty in a way that a lot of modern designers skips.) I've got a little cache of bike-themed pendants, and friends and family spoil me with more. But I troll online for rings and pendants, and I'm not sure why.

I think part of it stems from being set up in life - I've got an apartment, a job, a closet full of not unstylish clothes, and so I'm not wanting for anything. At the same time, I can't afford the frivolities in life, so nice jewelry is out of the question. It becomes part of the window-shopping landscape - things that are theoretically in reach, but that actually purchasing them would make me very hungry indeed. They're the things that make life prettier, lovelier, but not necessarily worth the dip in quality of life they would cost me.

But maybe one day, I'll treat myself to a quail egg on a string and smile at myself in the mirror.