I’m Still Here

I’ve never been a person who makes New Year’s resolutions. Actually, near the end of one year, I vowed to learn the “Single Ladies” dance, but I didn’t end up accomplishing that one. I try to set goals for myself throughout each passing year- sometimes I meet them, sometimes I exceed them, sometimes I do nothing at all.

With just a little over a week left of 2017, I’ve spent most of my time thinking about how badly I wanted this year to end. Trust me, I know that the passing of minutes, hours, and days won’t actually change a single thing about what has happened. I can hope with all that is in me that the next inevitable 12 months will give me space to be stronger, that unfortunate coincidences won’t strike in a way that hurts (as they so often did this year), and I’ll become a “better me”.

I’ve chosen to open up to a select few about what went on this year, and while this blog has -for the better part of 4 years- been a source of solace, truth, and therapy for me, there are things that I still can’t bring myself to type. Each person who knows my story has said, in their own way, that they wouldn’t have handled the year as well as I did, that they don’t know what they would have done if they were me.

It’s interesting, to me, that these people have seen such bravery and strength in me, as I sincerely felt like every last bit of gusto was stripped from my body at the beginning of this year. All this time, it seemed like things were being taken from me, making me smaller- but somehow everyone else saw me building.

Sometimes I can’t believe that nearly 365 days have passed since I chose to walk away from my marriage. In the months that followed, it felt like my life crumbled into a million pieces, fragments so tiny there was no way I’d ever be able to put them back together. So I didn’t. I didn’t try to salvage the parts of my old life, no matter how much I missed them. I didn’t try to find the “old me”, the “happy me”. I closed up shop and added another layer onto my hardened frame.

I lost my job, I lost my car, I lost friends, I lost family members. That was the language I chose to work with this year: “lost”, “taken”. The truth is, after a certain point, I start giving everything away. I sacrificed my belongings and my visions of myself to the universe like a shaken pedestrian who had just been encountered by an armed burglar. Just take whatever you need. Just let me live.

I knew that if I could become stripped this raw, feel this completely alone and lost, and still see myself standing at the end of the year, I would be ok.

So here it is. I have 9 days left. I don’t have a lot of money, I still don’t have a car, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a close friend of 5 years, I don’t have my childhood pet, I don’t have in-laws. There is more to this list, there always is.

But I’m still here.

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I Am Not Nice

It’s my sincerest belief that I was born into this world irritated. Later in my life, I was told by my parents that I didn’t cry when I arrived; I looked around, wide-eyed and uncertain, probably thinking in my tiny baby brain: this is what I have to deal with for the next few decades?

I’ve since attributed a lot of my less-than-pleasant behavior to my ugly duckling syndrome- a feeble attempt to explain my discomfort and lack of patience around others, to which most people say, “awe”, as if they understand. And maybe they do. However, I wasn’t nice even when I was cute. My uglier years didn’t kick in until around 2nd grade, so I had plenty of non-hideous times where I could have been sweet, shy, and understanding, but alas I was not.

I dumped my preschool boyfriend Tony due to a black eye he received from his older brother right before our big holiday musical number. I didn’t want to be seen in pictures with him, and I felt like I was ready to move on.

I often corrected my parents’ reading skills when they attempted to skip over a few pages during nighttime story sessions. I would loudly groan when my fellow first graders couldn’t properly spell “stomach” and I once sat in the back of class rolling my eyes after smacking a few male classmates with my heavy lunchbox. My only excuse for my actions was that “they deserved it”.

Though I made a concerted effort to fit in junior high and high school, it was evident that they could all see right through my contact lenses, the highlights, and Hollister tops. I just didn’t care to be there. Everyone was bothering me, I already had everything figured out, I didn’t give a shit.

It would be easy to say that I was bullied because I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or any of those things, but that just wouldn’t be true. The fact of the matter was, I was mean. I remember attending a party thrown by one of my high school classmates during college winter break, and a girl who I never got along with stated that I was “acting like I was better than everyone”. My response? “I am better than everyone”.

Now that I’m older and arguably not hideous, it’s been much harder to make sense of my rude behavior, my disinterest in children or the holidays. It’s hard to go on a Bumble date or meet someone at a gathering and say, “Hello there! I don’t get along with most people!” or, “I’m not smiling because not only am I not happy, but I want to portray to you that I don’t want to engage in conversation!”.

If you’ve grown up in Southern California like I have, you’re probably aware of the standard residential expectations: be fit, be healthy, be happy, be kind. Despite my 27 years of life, I haven’t particularly managed to succumb to any of these pressures. I like to eat burritos and sleep, I’m rarely in a super good mood, and I don’t want to be nice to people that are walking slow or can’t figure out the difference between their, there, and they’re.

I’ve been fortunate enough to find friends that understand my humor, who know that when I tell them they have split ends or that their shirt isn’t flattering is done out of care, but in general, people associate the name Kalee Madruga with the world “bitch”.

I’ve heard all the quotes; I know that guys prefer happier, smilier girls. I know an Instagram picture in front of a field of flowers is more appealing than a self deprecating meme, but this is who I am. I’ve been criticized for being a downer, for not getting jacked up about putting up Christmas lights, and for going through 3 rounds of Botox at the age of 25 because my frown lines are so pronounced.

A part of me juggles with the idea of what my life would be like if I just forced it- if I just tried to smile more, if I feigned interest in surface level conversation, or if I pretended not to be irritated by unjust social issues. Truth be told, I found much more comradery in the city of San Francisco, where people were frequently complaining about the weather or how crowded the bus was or why rent was so fucking high. Misery loves company, am I right?

I understand that on the sunny beaches of San Diego, there should be little to be angry or bothered by. I understand that life, in general, is a gift and should be met with happy, toothy grins and lots of hugs. I even understand that my parents spent a lot of money on my orthodonture and even for their sake I could smile a little more.

It’s hard to find people that will like you for who you are, who will accept you for your little quirks and stand offish behavior. But it’s even harder to change, especially if you don’t want to.

Sorry everyone, I’m mean.

Pervs, Forced Affection, & Why I Haven’t Posted “Me Too” Yet

As someone who has for all accounts, never struggled to put my feelings into print, I’ve been battling with what to say during this outpouring of support for women in the midst of so much appalling abusive and sexually driven behavior. It’s not because I don’t stand in solidarity with every female that has been so bold as to even type the two words and/or share their stories of mistreatment. And it isn’t even because it hasn’t happened to me, because of course I’ve been cat called, touched in a way I didn’t approve of, or felt uncomfortable around someone in a position of power over me. But isn’t that the problem right there? That it’s so easy for me to access multiple accounts of behavior driven by a physical force that I can’t pinpoint one that stands out above the rest?

I think- and I’ve discussed this with people I trust on multiple accounts- that a major contributor to this problem is the concept of forced affection. It’s a pretentious sounding term that is often met with confusion, and that is where we start. Forced affection, in the quickest way I can describe it, is the method of conditioning, typically from a young age, that your body is not something that belongs to you, or something you have control over. It isn’t specific to men or women, and it usually happens at a very young age. It’s rarely even done consciously. We laugh at photos of young children falling apart on the lap of a mall Santa Claus or Easter Bunny, and we all have vivid memories of a parent encouraging us to hug or kiss a relative we may not know all that well for the sake of being not being “rude”. Affection becomes something we are made to give not by choice, but by circumstance, for politeness, for status quo.

I believe, in part, that this is why I struggle to identify with where I stand and my position in the macro sense of sexual harassment. For as long as I can remember, I’ve tensed at the thought of hugs, of handholding, of finding an embrace, even with someone I truly care about. I don’t know why, I don’t know when it started, and I don’t feel that it is something I should have to articulate again and again.

There have been multiple occasions where I had to ask fellow coworkers not to touch me when talking to me, and some incidents have actually been met with the question of whether or not I was sexually abused. While I battle with the notion that this is an inappropriate questions to ask, I think it’s missing the larger point. If, let’s say, I had been sexually abused, isn’t is possible that years of forced affection and uncomfortable situations for the sake of others may have skewed my view of what is abuse and what isn’t? Of course I can acknowledge that someone yelling something obscene at me from their car window, or a high school boy sticking his hand up my cheer skirt is wrong, but where do the lines begin to blur?

As we are realizing now more than ever, our words and our actions have serious consequences. It doesn’t take long for a misplaced joke to go viral, for a lapse in judgement to cost someone their job and their reputation. Every time we say ‘fag’, or ‘slut’ or the like, we are normalizing some form of shame, abuse, or hate. Much is the same with the way we touch others, the way we make people feel like they’re “weird” for preferring not to be touched, even innocently. This isn’t an attempt to blame my parents for wanting me to hug my grandparents, or saying that someone who was unaware of the slightest indicators of sexual harassment are the ultimate problem. Because, we all are, in some way, part of the problem.

I thoroughly enjoyed objectifying the half-naked men in the popular Australian all-male strip show, but I grimace at the thought of a man commenting on my appearance even if I’m in a tank top. I see and I know, now more clearly than ever, that women are changing the world. Standing together, lifting each other up, and using our voices not just to speak for ourselves- but for others, is so inherently in opposition to what our gender has done for years. It’s incredible and it’s beautiful and it’s so inspiring.

I guess all I’m looking for in this post is to remind all of us- women, men, gay, straight, trans, POC, that all of our words and actions matter. What are you using your voice to do? What kind of statement do we want to make, and more so, what do we want to see change?

I don’t really think that my stories of sexual harassment and abuse are ones that I want to share, not right now. I’ve seen the effects that my vocal disdain for men and women alike telling me to smile has had on those older than me, people who have shrugged off the idea that it could be taken as harassment for years.

It’s not just the big moments in our lives that matter, but the little ones too. The times an unwanted hand was placed on my shoulder, when a comment was made about my clothes, my makeup, my body type. These situations have not only been conducted by men.

If this piece was in anyway taken as me not agreeing, wholeheartedly and believing in the “me too” movement, I encourage you to reread, and I promise you that is not the case. We have to start somewhere, and I’m happy we’re starting with women whose voices have been silenced for far too long. I’m simply suggesting that oftentimes, those who have been quiet, may have also been confused. Realizing what is and what is not ok when it comes to all of our bodies starts with the notion that it’s ok to say what you do and don’t want, even if you may not know why just yet.

It’s our job not only to be vocal, but to listen, have patience and respect for those who are finding their voices in a scary world, and strive to make our time here together a little less shitty.

Ya feel me?

A Brief Amendment to “What the Fuck is Happening”

Hi there. Yesterday I wrote an aggressive blog about being ghosted and how terrible it is. While I in no way, shape or form have changed my opinions about ghosting, I noticed that in my potential list of reasons for why ghosting can occur, I only blamed myself. Women do this a lot, I’ve found. “What’s was wrong with me? Why didn’t he like me? What did do?”

It’s rare, especially in our younger years, to take the time to even think about whether or not we like the guy that’s giving us attention. We’re too consumed with the idea of him liking us, and what that all means.

The other day I asked my roommate if she actually liked the guy she was hanging out with or if she just wanted free food. It took her like 5 MINUTES to answer. It’s the plight of the female, right? We’re so used to validating ourselves through the eyes of men. Don’t beat yourself up about it, we ALL do it.

I read all kind of female empowerment blogs and books and I spend most of my time with some of the dopest women I know but we all. Still. Do. It. I feel like it’s a huge reason women get married! “Look I’m LIKED!!!!!”

So I guess the amendment I wanted to make was that, you know, maybe it’s his fault. Maybe he sucks. Maybe he doesn’t even like women! Sometimes guys are afraid or they have a shitty dad or have a shitty job and they don’t know how to deal with life. It’s no real excuse to not communicate with someone or not give them closure or make them feel fucking weird, but it happens. We all suck in our own special ways. I’m not going to make a list of things that could have been wrong with this guy (though I really want to), but I’m going to entertain the idea that I’m not the problem.

I’m still trying to find that balance between self reflection towards improvement, and self-deprecation for the sake of humor and, honestly, not getting hurt again.

The message remains the same: don’t ghost, assholes.

What the Fuck is Happening

Sometime ago, a person that will remain nameless went through the world’s worst ghosting experience. I’ll briefly try to tell you their story. This super compatible duo dated for roughly 2 years, maybe more, and while his schedule caused him to be gone pretty frequently, when he was back, they spent 99.9% of their time with each other. Eventually he was basically living at her place, keeping his shit there, sleeping there all the time, and even mailing his stuff there. All signs were pointing to the fact that these guys were going to get married, which honestly would have been great. I don’t remember the exact exchange that took place since this was awhile ago, but it was something along the lines of him saying “I’m going to do this thing, and I’ll be right back”. But the thing is, he never came back. And he never said why. In fact, he never said anything…ever again.

If you’re one of those people who always tries to defend shitty male behavior, he didn’t die, I already checked. In fact, he eventually started posting pictures of himself on Facebook to prove that he was very much alive, and he even accidentally mailed some shit to the girl’s house again. Feel however you want to feel about this fucked up story, but I personally took it really hard. After I witnessed such an insane display of selfishness and ghosting, I knew that I would NEVER want anything even close to that to happen to me.

Well, joke’s on me because I’m a millennial and we are the ghosting champions of the fucking world. I have literally been ghosted so many times I can’t even be bothered to remember each scenario. I’m not going to sit here and act like I’ve never ghosted anyone, but I definitely have never done it to the caliber described above or the way it’s happened to me. Ok there was this one time I told a guy on a date that I had to go to the bathroom and I actually ordered an Uber instead BUT THAT’S IT!

Since men have been particularly cruel to me lately, I’ve decided to compile a list of potential reasons for the aggressive ghosting that has taken place:

  1. I’m ugly. This one is subjective, but I know I’m not that hideous. On the flip side of the coin, maybe I’m just so stunning that men can’t even handle being in my presence.
  2. I said something weird. This one is super possible. The bummer part of ghosting is that I can’t figure out what I said that was the trigger. I’ve actually been really good about stopping myself from talking about my cats OR politics on dates, though!
  3. I’m scary. This one seems like a front runner. I’ve been best friends with the same person since I was 6 and she once avoided me for 3 months because she said I’m really scary when I get mad. I’d argue that disappearing of the face of the earth is only going to make me more mad and thus more scary, but to each his own.
  4. I don’t put out (fast enough). Sorry to my parents and other relatives who read this blog but I definitely used to get busy on like, the first date. As of late I’ve been trying to…not do that and actually get to know the person. The ghosting ratio has stayed the same so it’s tough to say if this is a real factor.
  5. They’re just “too into me”. This one came from my dad so I’m just going to allow it, even though I don’t agree. Yesterday my dad said that sometimes guys bail out because they’re afraid you’re going to bail on them first. My dad also told me I was a “great looking kid” even though I had braces, glasses that were held together with hot glue, and a bowl cut that he performed in our kitchen, so he might not be the best person to take advice from.
  6. This blog. Another front runner. I do have a link to this site on my Instagram page, so a potential dude could easily have access to it. Normally my self esteem is so low that I would never assume that a guy would even want to read my work, but there is some revealing, juicy, depressing, and alarming shit in here. TBH I wouldn’t want to date a guy who doesn’t support my writing in all forms, but could you at least tell me which piece was your favorite before leaving?
  7. Karma. Maybe in my past life I was a Hitler-esque person and this is just the only way for all of my victims to have justice.
  8. I’m too mean, too loud, too fond of cats, too tattooed, too confident, too insecure, too smart, too stupid, I paid the tab, I didn’t pay the tab, I split the tab, I’m too friendly to male bartenders, I have too many gay friends, I watch the Kardashians (and like it), I’m really good at a British accent, I know a lot about music, I don’t like sports, I don’t know how to cook, I don’t have a car, I think I’m better than everyone, I’m in debt, I really like frogs, or I put the toilet paper on the wrong way.

Be it all, some, or none of these reasons, I’d just like to share a quick PSA to all of the men (and sure, some women) out there: STOP GHOSTING PEOPLE. IT’S FUCKING MEAN. I get that it’s awkward to tell someone that you’re not feeling them or whatever but just use one of the go-to lines like “work is really stressful” or that you “want to focus on yourself” or, God forbid, you could just tell them the truth. If it really makes you sleep better at night to be a complete phantom moron, I know I can’t really stop you, but I promise you- those of us who didn’t put out fast enough will be telling everyone that you ghosted us because you were ashamed of your small penis.

Blessings!

A Letter of Gratitude to the Most Important Man in My Life

A little over a year ago, I wrote a birthday letter to my then-husband on his birthday. While (at the time), I meant everything I wrote in said letter, it now feels very strange to me that I took so much time to write such a heartfelt piece to a man that had only known me a few short months, rather than to the man who has truly loved me all of my 27 years.

I vividly remember being a very angsty preteen and screaming “I HATE YOU!!” in my dad’s face, to which he responded “I DON’T CARE! YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE ME- YOU JUST HAVE TO RESPECT ME!”

So, in honor of those very profound words, which I have never forgotten, I wanted to write a thank you letter to my favorite man in the whole world, and not just because I respect him (and love him). A letter not to the person who said he would love and cherish me no matter what, but to the person who actually did: my dad.

Dear Dad,

Can I have some money? Just kidding.

Thank you so much for all that you’ve done for me. I don’t know how you’ve found the strength each day to still tolerate a child who would aggressively yell at you about her menstrual cramps and walked off the soccer field because she just didn’t like your coaching style. I know it took us a while to get here, but I’m really happy we made it.

Thank you for reminding me how important family is. Thank you for being a young, scared, soon-to-be dad who decided to get a paper route because you wanted to take care of me. You didn’t even know me yet, but you wanted to protect me. Thanks for not getting mad at me for bossing all the boys on the playground around, and for teaching me how to fight. You knew that I’d be short, so you told me to go for their knees and not to tuck my thumb in when I needed to punch someone in the face.

Thank you for never telling me I’m a “princess”, but rather reminding me that I could be a “handful”, and that any guy who wanted to be with me was going to have a lot on their plate. Thank you for always adding that I was worth the work.

It pains me to say it, but I have a list of friends who have never even met their fathers, whose dads decided to skip town, and whose dads don’t even care to know what’s going on in their kid’s life. You have always showed up for me, coached me, and even got teary-eyed when I sang a stupid song from “Oliver” only to become a tap-dancing fork who only had one scene in her first play. Thanks for getting excited at my cheer competitions and telling me that is IS exactly just like “Bring It On”.

Thank you for letting me know that it’s okay sometimes to cry, to be sad, and to be afraid. For someone who spent so much time feeling so alone, it made me feel really good to know that it didn’t bother you when I was sad, and that you understood me. Even when you would tell me to go wash my face and stop crying, I know now that it was because you were worried about me. Because unlike a broken bone or a broken fence, I had wounds that you were unsure how to heal, and keeping me safe was important to you.

Thank you, Dad, for somehow still being able to see the value in me when I can’t find it on my own. It would make me so much happier to bring you over to my house, and introduce you to my kids, but instead I’m sending you screen shots of my over drafted bank account and pictures of my cats. I don’t know if this is the life you envisioned for me, but you’ve never made me feel like you’re not proud.

Thank you so much for always talking about Grandma. I’ve never been able to feel her the way that you do, but when you stay on the phone with me for an hour, and you remind me that I’m not alone, and you ask me about my day, I know that she’s there, in you, and that she’d be really proud of us. Thank you for honoring her everyday and being as amazing of a person as we know she was.

Thank you for taking care of the dogs. If that “Tucker Everlasting” river thing was real, I’d totally make you and Charlie drink from it so I could keep you around forever.

I’ll never be able to thank you enough for what you’ve done for me in the past year. You’ve taught me that life has “mulligans”- that there are do-overs and mistakes, and that it’s ok to make them. You’ve taught me that even though people may seem like they completely have their shit together, they were probably once scared shitless, just like me, wondering when the fuck their life was going to be less hectic.

Thank you for holding me when I was scared on the Haunted Mansion, thank you for pouring hydrogen peroxide in my ears when they would get clogged on the plane, thank you for making me laugh with your Christian Bale Batman voice, and thank you for being my friend- for loving me instead of judging me, for letting me talk about female adversity at the dinner table, and for always secretly whispering that I’m your “favorite” every time we were at a family gathering.

I know that a stupid blog post will never be enough to counteract the countless amounts of dollars and years of your youth you’ve spent taking care of me. I know you’ll never sleep as well as you did before you found out you were having a daughter, but I hope you do know that when you are an old senile potato I will put you in the best nursing home I can find. And I’ll visit you like, twice a month. Just kidding, I love you, Dad.

Thank you for everything, thank you for being my Dad.

I love you crazy and I will forever and ever.

-Kaleena Raye

 

A Non-Funny Post About Codependency, Marriage, and Feeling Invisible

Even though I’m not a mom and have no desire to be, my freelance work often requires me to bend the rules a bit and write about topics on which I am no expert. This, on my end, requires a decent amount of “mommy blog” reading. Honestly, most of them are dull and whiney and poorly written (IMO), but I can see how women going through that particular experience could find them relatable and helpful. Come to think of it, my blog is dull and whiney and poorly written so, fuck it, they’re great and God bless them.

I recently read a “mommy blog”-esque article about a new mother who took one of her earrings out for 7 months and no one noticed. She wrote that becoming a mom had made her invisible, that her entire identity had been sort of taken over by this new life, and everything about who she was and what she was revolved around the child. I feel pretty certain that this is a feeling shared by many moms, and it was one, I have to admit, I was jealous of.

Since my separation from my husband after only 1 year of marriage, I have begged to be invisible. If I could somehow disappear from the radar of the world and be left alone for a year, I would probably take it. Sure, I could stop writing this blog and get the fuck off social media and go volunteer in Zimbabwe or something but what do I look like, Angelina Jolie?

It took me multiple therapy appointments and a few months of crying in solitude to grasp how strong of a codependent relationship I was in. Before you freak out and think I’m dissing my ex all over again, relax. I am the one with codependency issues of the highest degree. My identity became reliant on my role as his wife, and how people treated me because of it. I didn’t care about the Kalee (Kaley) I was before I met him, I didn’t care about what kind of issues I may have individually, my sole purpose was now to be this person’s wife- and I loved it. I loved it because in comparison, I seemed very together, very loving, very involved, very compassionate, and very kind. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not really any of those things, at least not in excess.

I could measure my greatness by the areas in which my husband lacked. Every time he fell short, I stepped up. Every time he felt lost, I was the compass. This would be cute and sweet if it wasn’t so insanely selfish. I relished in the moments where I was the shining star because of someone else’s inadequacies. Every opportunity presented that allowed me to save the day, I took it.

It is almost as if I willed the failure of our marriage into existence, as if to say: SEE EVERYONE- LOOK HOW HARD I TRIED, LOOK HOW MUCH I WENT THROUGH. I WAS THE WIFE WHO SACRIFICED HERSELF FOR THE GREATER GOOD.

But fuck that, because that’s what I signed up for. I didn’t know the extent of the wounds that would be created in such a short year, but I probably could have guessed. However, my selfish need to be the rescuer, the shoulder to lean on- overcame my need to protect myself.

When the time came that I actually did need help, and was not just filling the role of giving it, I was finally invisible. All the people that claimed to love me, and be so grateful for me, were nowhere to be found. In fact, they only came out of their own hiding to urge me to become even more quiet and less visible. And of course, to blame me more, which I already do everyday.

But that didn’t last long. I don’t know what it’s like to not feel like all eyes are on me now, wondering what kind of meltdown I’m going to have next. People want to know my business without getting close to me, share their opinions of my ex without seeing me tear up, and want me to “move on” and “let it go” without having one ounce of understanding of what actually happened. Did I do this to myself for getting married so fast? For taking on this sick, damaging role of codependency towards someone who would ultimately take advantage (even subconsciously?).

I’d prefer to be invisible, I’d prefer to not be humiliated. I’d love to not be reminded daily that I am no longer a wife, that I’m no longer needed, and my efforts are better spent on rescue pets who can pretty much fend for themselves. I don’t want to date, I don’t want to make new friends. I felt like if I walked around for 7 months with one earring in everyone would point it out and then ask me “how I’m dealing with everything”.

The Kalee (Kaley) I was so eager to leave behind isn’t even here anymore either. I am now this weird, lost, paper mache version of who I used to be, mixed with who I thought I could be. I have no witty words about it, I have nothing brave to say. Congrats to everyone who found the strength to become themselves again after a failed relationship? I wish I was more like you.

Why Traveling With Me Is The Fucking Worst

I want to start this blog post of by saying that OF COURSE I like traveling. Who the fuck doesn’t like traveling? I find it particularly strange that people feel the need to say that about themselves, or add it to some dating bio. Have you ever once heard someone be like: “yeah, I just love being in the same spot constantly, I hope I never had to leave my house.” Actually, that is probably a real thing and I shouldn’t make fun of it, but still- having an affection for seeing the rest of the planet isn’t exactly something to brag about.

I have never once, however, thought to myself: “Oh my god, I would just love to pack all of my shit into an uncomfortably large backpack and wander around a foreign place solo!”. I’ve truthfully never seen the appeal of staying in a hostel, doing things on the fly with no plan, or even going somewhere that I haven’t seen a cool picture of. This does not mean that I don’t enjoy traveling, I just don’t like doing it in the particular way that people my age seem to enjoy.

Since I pay for my own lifestyle, I haven’t had the opportunity to just hop on a plane and go to India or whatever for multiple weeks and take cool Instagram pictures. The few trips I have taken, I’ve had to plan and budget for myself, which mean they are going to go down exactly the way I want them to go:

  1. I’m staying in a hotel/resort. Act like Leo DiCaprio’s character in “The Beach” all you want, but I like beds and I like room service.
  2. I have to speak English. I’m super sorry that I was born in America and didn’t start “learning” a foreign language until 9th grade, but my Google translate is only going to get me so far.
  3. I’m going to be drunk, a lot. From what I’ve gathered about vacationing, it’s supposed to be the opposite of what I do at home. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is something I do at home, sure, but my drinks aren’t cool and tropical with fun garnishes in them.
  4. I want to do nothing. Again, since I like making my travel experiences the opposite of my home life, it’s extremely enjoyable for me to do something different, like lounge by a pool and eat from a nice buffet and not speak to anyone. This is actually a bad example and I don’t know why I’m including it. I do this all the time.
  5. I don’t really mind looking like a tourist. I know “sticking out” in a foreign place is like, the worst, but who am I kidding? I am clearly a white person from America and no amount of drapey clothing or henna tattoos are going to change that. If I have to ask questions, I’m going to ask them. If it means avoiding traditional country experiences because I don’t know what the fuck is going on or how to get there, so be it.

I don’t like haggling, I don’t like feeling uncomfortable, and I certainly don’t like getting lost. I am not particularly blown away by works of architecture, and I am also not an adrenaline junkie who wants to jump off shit or swim with sharks or whatever the fuck else people do when they’re on vaca. This does not make me racist, uncultured, or that I don’t care about places different than my home. First of all, I barely like America, and second of all, if I want to sit at the same cafe in Paris drinking the same wine everyday and people watch, does that really make my experience any less valid than yours?

I have never once asked for a food or venue recommendation whilst traveling, but for some reason everyone wants to send one my way. Like ok, just because you went to Thailand ONE TIME does not mean that you know the BEST place to get Pad Thai. You are not a Thai person, you are just someone who came across a restaurant that you didn’t hate, so calm down.

I have since discovered that this mindset does not make me a fun travel partner, and I’m actually fine with that. I feel confident that someone who wants to lounge around by a fab resort pool, drink tropical beverages, and occasionally check out a wild animal from afar will want to go on a trip with me and we’ll be just fine.

So whatever, “wanderlust” people, I’m so glad you really “found yourself” in Barcelona, but I like my canopy bed and room service better.

We’re Just Not That Into You, Part 2

I am truthfully not really an expert on anything, especially males. I haven’t been on a date in…I’m not even sure how long. My marriage didn’t work out, and even though it’s Friday night, I am in bed drinking wine with no pants on with a sleeping kitten on my lap. I’ve had my fair share of disappointments, sure, but in reality I’m just lucky enough to have the type of personality where people open up to me easily. Hence, I’ve gathered a lot of exciting, intriguing, and soul-sucking information when it comes to dating in your 20’s.

I don’t know what it was like for my mom, or her mom, or her mom’s mom when they were younger, but let’s just make it simple and say dating was different. There weren’t apps, women were FAR less equal, and they didn’t have filters, reality shows, or excessive plastic surgery to make themselves feel like shit on the daily.

Women’s lives were kinda crappy, sure, but men were different too. Men were like, a necessity back in the day. Hey ladies, want to open a bank account? Get married. Want to do anything, ever? At all? You probably need a man to help you. For generations, men have been the problem solvers, the fixers, the DOERS! Go men!

But now, that’s just not the case. Sure, if my toilet is broken or there’s a dead animal, car or money issue that I need immediate assistance with, my dad is on speed dial. All in all, though, women are self-reliant. We (kinda) make the same money now, we can have our own bank accounts, we’re (again, kinda) in charge of our reproductive health, our bodies, and our sexual choices. We’re educated, we’re outspoken, and now we can just hire people to do the shit we don’t want to do. Relationships, marriage, and men as a whole are much more of a choice, rather than a need.

While this is a really exciting development and time of growth for my female friends and me, most of us would be lying if we said that we sat down and reaaaally thought about how this is effecting the dudes around us. What does it feel like to be unnecessary? What’s it like to be the end all be all, and now just like…dessert sometimes?

Even speaking to my almost 60-year-old father, he said it’s taken him YEARS to realize that most of the time, when I’d call him and rant, that I didn’t expect him to fix anything, but that I just wanted to someone to LISTEN. Men are used to fixing, repairing, correcting, and doing…so what happens when time and time again, women simply say: “nah, I got it”?

It’s an interesting reality to live in, to be sure. And I’d venture to say that the growth of dating apps has escalated in direct correlation to men’s newfound laziness. But, what else has changed is the level of male craziness.

One of the arguably greatest parts of being a man is being able to say “she was crazy” every time a relationship or fling ended, and every person accepting that as sound fact. That doesn’t really seem to be working anymore. I feel that the “craziness” has changed. Men, you are the crazy ones now.

Here are a few anonymous examples:

  1. I had a coworker scroll through her phone for no less than FIVE MINUTES showing a text conversation from a guy who sent her a bunch of pictures of his boat. She did not ask for any of these photos, and she only sent him one word answers along the lines of: “cool”, “alright”, and “anyways”. This doesn’t just go for boat pictures. Do I even need to discuss unsolicited dick pics?
  2. A roommate who will go unnamed was asked out by her manager, who stole her number from the schedule, proceeded to text and called her repeatedly until she finally agreed to meet up. After a few drinks, it came about that she had had a one night stand with one of the bar backs who also worked at the restaurant (upwards of 3 months before said manager even became employed at the establishment). Once he found out this information, he immediately flew into a fit of rage, told her he felt disrespected, and sent her home so he could “think things over”. He called her about 13 minutes later, telling her he was sorry, but she should drive back because “it isn’t that far of a drive and he would do the same for her”.
  3. A friend of mine was on a dating app which encourages (sorry, requires) the girl to make the first move. After swiping right on a guy with a plethora of cute pit bull puppy pics, she made the first move and asked if she could hear more about his dog. He proceeded to send her 10 photos of the puppy, and after she suggested a do park meet up, he told her she was being too aggressive.
  4. SOMEONE I KNOW finally gathered up the courage to try butt stuff for the first time after consuming lots and lots of alcohol. After Ubering over, doing the deed, and feeling pretty accomplished in her sex life, she then had to sit outside on the patio while the guy talked about his ex girlfriend the entire time and that all he really wants is to “find love and start a family”.

These are just a minor portions of the weird and unnecessary situations my female friends have all found themselves in. All of us know that if we acted any other way than kind, patient, and sort of understanding, all of these various gentlemen would lecture us about “catching feelings”, “being crazy”, or “coming on too strong”. But like…is that the case?

I’m not sitting here arguing that women are not suddenly super stable. But, are we still going to keep blaming “the moon” and her “cycle”, or are we going to take one ounce of accountability and realize that hey, you’re lazy, you’re a luxury item at this point, and you don’t have enough to offer to be acting this way?

I’m cynical enough to know that a man admitting fault is just not in the stars, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to throw out a theory. It worked for Darwin.

Anybody else feeling this? Or am I crazy?

What Happens If I Stop Being Honest?

It’s fair to say that my blog has taken a lot of weird turns in the past 12+ months. I got married, I wrote a bunch of overly happy and uplifting posts, I went MIA for a while, and then I returned with a bunch of bitter insights about trying to date and how much I hate everyone. Can you take a wild guess what happened in between? While I’d safely say this is easily my worst year to date, I’ve been able to stay rock steady in one thing: I’ve been sincerely honest.

I’ve kind of been #blessed when it comes to this blog because I would say over 90% of the responses since I started it about 4 years ago have been overwhelmingly positive. It’s kind of easy to stay in your lane and not make any major changes when people continue to blow smoke up your ass.

However, there has been a bit of backlash. There have been some topics that are too tender to share with the world, too many hurt feelings, and I’ve even had people tell me not to say things that I want to say. No, you know what- not “want” to say, but need to say.

I tried to not let it get to me, and of course I wondered if I was being too harsh, too loud, too Kalee-ish yet again, pushing people out.

I’m not the voice of my generation, I’m not a published writer. I am lucky enough to make an ok living off of my Creative Writing degree, and I’m just generally an honest person. I don’t want to pull a Carly Simon and tell you that you’re so vain, you probably think this post is about you- but if I don’t name you directly, chill. Also, if you wanted to be spoken so highly of, maybe you should have been a better person?

I spent so many years as a kid and preteen feeling riddled with anxiety. I never wanted to leave my house, I was constantly in fear that everyone hated me, no one understood me, and that I was just fucking ALONE. To say that those fears have completely gone away now that I’m an “adult” would just be false. And the only reason I’ve come as far as I have is because of writers. Because of people who tell the truth, even when it’s ugly and hard and unflattering.

I’m not saying it’s my job to speak for other people, but if my story literally makes ONE less scared, lonely, frustrated, and loss woman feel better, I fucking did my job, I can die happy- seriously.

What happens to us if people stop telling their stories? What happens to all the kids who have bad relationships with their parents, get divorced, get in debt, and feel all those terrible feelings we all try to bury? How do we help them? I’m not brave and I’m not special, and I’m only kind of funny sometimes, but I’ll be damned if anyone thinks they have the right to tell me not to speak my truth.

You have every opportunity to not read, but I’ll never stop writing.