I don’t know.

I haven’t written in this blog in a long time. And until just a few moments ago, I couldn’t really tell you why. Being busy, not feeling “inspired,” or not having anything to share are not really accurate excuses. I think it’s because I’ve been hiding.

Photo by A. Pagliaricci
Photo by A. Pagliaricci

I didn’t know I was hiding, not at first. But like a shapeless, dark monster that creeps into your dreams, vignetting what seems to be a fairly standard happy image, I had this growing suspicion that something was not quite right with me. It’s been plaguing me for weeks, this sensation that something is about to fall apart, that I’m not truly alive and aware, that any happiness I’ve felt was false. I’ve talked about it at great lengths with my close friends, my therapist, writing about it in my journal. I could articulate it, yes, but at most it was an intellectual diagnosis. It felt like someone dubbing over my own voice in a foreign language. I knew, but I couldn’t touch it. It hadn’t hit me yet, it floated above me, mockingly. I was pretty sure of what I wanted to eat but I had yet to order it and actually ingest it.

Okay, enough metaphors. You get the idea. But for someone who always has to know the answer to everything, this uncertainty has been difficult for me to live with. So I simply didn’t. In the past 3 months since I’ve last posted, I’ve been quite busy. I held a fundraiser party, I went home for the holidays, I finally wrapped principal photography on my film, I started a writers’ group, produced and acted in a new comedy web-sketch, as well as started developing more web-sketches for PITtv. Meanwhile, I’ve continued to work full-time and go out with friends or on dates. I’ve been very busy. I’ve been barely home. I’ve been rarely alone. Because I’m hiding.

When my best friend suddenly died last June, all I wanted was to be alone. Grief was the most isolating experience of my life. I’ve lived quite an individual life so far, but the alone-ness was palpable. I couldn’t be around anyone, I couldn’t smile for anyone or make small talk with anyone. I just wanted to sit outside and listen to our favorite music and cry. Nurse my grief like it was the last drink I’ll ever have. I walked the streets of New York with a bubble around me, protecting me from interaction, from engagement, from life. I just mourned.

So when I finally came out, when the sun’s rays finally actually got to touch my skin again, when I looked up, it felt miraculous. I slowly started to feel inspired again, the need to be productive, to continue living. After a while, I wanted to see other people. I wanted to start working on my projects again. I would never be the same, but I was back. And once I got my footing, I took off running. I filled my schedule and took on new projects and set up meetings and dates and outings and laughed and talked and acted like my old extroverted self again. But I was hiding.

I was hiding because I was afraid of being alone again. If I was alone, then I would think. And if I thought, I would think about Matt. And if I thought about Matt, I feared I would slip back into that dark yet brightly-lit, stark, empty room of despair again. I still am. I’m afraid. I’m afraid to be sad. I’m afraid to let myself continue to grieve. I’m afraid I won’t come out of it again. It’s been 8 months and 17 days since Matt died and I’m not still fully healed. I’m not over it. That’s okay. I’m never going to be over this. People tell you about that deep loss. I know this. But I might not also fully heal from this.

Why do we look at wounds as things that need to heal? I kept trying to become this holier-than-thou totally enlightened wise being in the last several months. How pretentious of me to go on and on about how my best friend’s death changed me? I would wax poetic about death and the meaning of life like I suddenly had all the answers now that I’ve experience such profound, tragic loss. (My friends know exactly what I’m talking about. Thank you for not slapping me, but god somebody please slap me next time.)

That is total bullshit. Okay, not total, but I was missing the point, I see that now. That was me trying to tie everything up neatly with a bow again. That was the same Katie that pretended to give eloquent interviews about world issues to the mirror when she was 9 (okay 15… okay 21… okay fine, last night) but still – I have this need to romanticize everything in my life, to package it neatly and analyze it and understand it all, but the truth is, I really don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know anything at all.

Photo by danabooo
Photo by danabooo

I’m a mess. I’m a flawed, messy, emotional human being. Made of flesh and blood and bones and chemicals and weird shit like that and I’m trying to figure it out desperately like everyone else. I miss my best friend and I still grieve for him but also sometimes I don’t think about him. And yeah, I feel guilty about that too. I don’t always stick to my diet and sometimes I get drunk on weeknights and I date the wrong people and I can be flaky and I don’t call my parents nearly as much as I should. I make snap judgments and I say things sometimes just to get a rise out of people and I get secretly possessive over my food. I have hateful thoughts sometimes and I’m mad at my best friend for dying on me and I miss him so frickin’ much and I worry way too much and I really do want love and children and a family someday. I cry at the drop of a hat and I have dry skin and I don’t like to follow rules and I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m a human. I am not a saint, I am not the Buddha, I will not rise out of this like a glorious wise martyr. I am ugly sometimes, and I have ugly emotions sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. I’m allowed to be ugly. I’m allowed to be human. I’m allowed to let this wound fester a bit.

This all came to a head while I was listening to the Strangers podcast while at work.  I highly recommend everyone listen to this episode. When I first started researching about grief in the initial months after Matt’s death, I would scoff at those articles about broken hearts. “Who cares about a break-up? I f*cking lost my best friend – he f*cking died! We can’t ever see or talk to each other again because he doesn’t exist on this planet anymore!” But the fact is, a broken heart is a broken heart. Listening to these storytellers talk about their own experiences after a devastating break-up, it echoed exactly what I went through last summer. When Annie McEwen and Lea Thau said that even waking up is hard, realizing that this is the world you live in now, that’s exactly how it felt waking up every day last summer. And in Annie’s story, when the female character mentions just living with her lost love, not being consumed by it but giving it space and just knowing that she has to live with this feeling, without him, every day – it resonated with me.

Like these two women, my heart is broken. And I agree with Annie, I don’t think I’ll ever love the same way again. I don’t think losing Matt is something I’ll ever fully heal from. What Matt and I had was special, our friendship was truly one-of-a-kind. But I don’t think I’m necessarily a better person for having lived through this experience. I am a person. And it has deeply affected me. That’s really all I can say. But like Annie, I am more compassionate than I ever have been, and I’m finally going to start being compassionate with the one person I’ve been hardest on my entire life: yep, myself. Me. I’m going to do that by letting myself have flaws. By letting myself be messy. By letting myself grieve and cry and scream and laugh and dance and drink and eat carbs – and do whatever I need to do.

Death sucks. Break-ups suck. Having your heart ripped from your chest and stomped on really frickin’ blows. And I can’t tell you why. I have no idea why life is so unfair. I don’t know. I really don’t know. And that’s okay.

Lay off the Millennials

So this was going to be an extremely rant-y post about how grossly inaccurate the popular sweeping negative generalizations about Americans born between 1980 and 2000 are – a HUGE span of years, by the way – but then I stumbled across this political cartoonist’s take on it all and it’s pretty fantastic.

Instead, I’m going to continue the rant discussion in regards to film and television, as that is my area of work (and hopefully someday, expertise). The other day I came across this article on Indiewire.com, a trade online publication for independent films, about the SXSW grand jury prize-winning film, Fort Tilden. Read here. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen this film yet, but reading this review brought up feelings of frustration in regards to my fellow “millennial” filmmakers.

Okay, so here goes:

Dear fellow filmmakers and TV producers,

Please stop making us all look bad. I know that your goal is probably to be bitingly accurate, but I, for one, am really getting sick of watching whining, spoiled, self-involved, vapid white 20-somethings (specifically girls) who live in Brooklyn and have their daddies pay for everything. We get it. Women like that exist. They may even represent the ugliness inside all of us or something metaphorical like that. They have sex with emotionally unavailable, spoiled, self-involved, vapid, vain white 20-something men and wonder why they’re unhappy. They make mistakes, they take drugs, they have no direction. The problem is, that is only one small, very specific, and exclusive section of the so-called “millennial generation.” And Lena Dunham already did it, and she’s doing it well. So please, show me something new.

In every generation, the old folks like to berate us young folks. The future of America is doomed, we’re all lazy, in their day they worked really hard, etc. I understand that and in 20 years, I’ll probably say the same about the next generation. (I actually already worry about 12-18 year olds.) I may have been born in 1987, but the world of Fort Tilden, Girls, and Tiny Furniture is not my world. In fact, much like anytime I visit Williamsburg, I usually feel very purposefully left out. (I still really like beards though)

Let me give you a bit of background on myself and my friends. Yes, the majority of us graduated from NYU Tisch, SVA, or another similar NYC arts school. The majority of us are struggling artists or work in the entertainment industry. All of us continually contemplate (usually over watered-down well drinks in a dive bar) our purpose, our life choices, and our chosen career paths or lack thereof. But all of us work really, really, really hard at what we do. Some may still get financial assistance from their parents, but only out of necessity. We all temp or waitress or bartend or sit at a desk assisting a demanding boss/network/production company for hours and hours and hours every day. We understand the sacrifices we have to make to do what we love, and we’re constantly trying to find the best compromise that lets us eat while still keeping our souls alive. We’re trying to get in touch with our own sense of spirituality and the universe, we’re making amends and healing our childhood traumas, and we’re trying to eat better, live cleaner, and be responsible. We are on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr (don’t lie, you are too!), but most of the time, it’s to promote our own passion projects that we’re self-funding through Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go. We go see each other in the theatre and attend our own film screenings. We may go out and drink and dance and maybe even do drugs, but we’re always keeping our eyes and ears and minds and hearts open to new experiences, new people, new ideas, new cultures.

artwork in the 191st 1 train tunnel
artwork in the 191st 1 train tunnel

Best of all? We’re every single color, race, and creed. We’re straight and gay and lesbian and bi and queer. We’re not walking stereotypes, we’re complex human beings. We’re supportive of human and animal rights. We keep up on the news on a global scale, whether it’s through CNN or Facebook. We march in the Gay Pride parade and sign protests against companies that publicly declare against our rights. Conservatives and Republicans may call us liberal and foolish, but we are members of disenfranchised groups. We experience oppression, discrimination, and the glass ceiling every day. And we dream of a world where it does get better. We understand that we don’t understand the gray area. We want to find love and success and happiness and sometimes it’s really hard not knowing where or when or even if we’ll ever find that.

So have faith in us. We’re young, but don’t hold that against us. Not all millennials are self-centered, socially-inept whipper snappers. Some of us are just trying to get through our 20s alive. My friends and I are magnificent people. We have a lot to learn. And I can’t wait to see what we come up with.