A love letter to my 20’s

In less than 12 hours, I will start a new decade of my life. When I turned 20, I didn’t really think about what this meant. Going from 19 to 20 wasn’t really a change; certainly I wasn’t thinking about entering a new chapter in my life, as the transition from teens to early adulthood was essentially the same. There has been no greater challenge in my life than my 20’s, and, when I think about it, that’s pretty remarkable. I’ve gone through more than I ever thought possible, and while I had the love and support of those around me, I did a lot on my own.

It sounds like a cliche, but if I could go back 10 years ago and give my 20-year old self some advice, it would go like this.

Ahem.

First of all, you absolutely must accept that you have anxiety. In fact, you have Chronic Panic Disorder. You will always have Chronic Panic Disorder, and will continue to shape who you are. It doesn’t get easier; fears of flying, eating, driving, throwing up, open spaces, intimacy, and running into your father will cycle throughout the years. But, how amazing you are to be able to handle this. And you can handle this. Let it become a part of you. Think of your anxiety like a big fluffy cloud that you can hug and comfort, because when you can embrace it, you will feel so much better.

Second, your body is incredibly strong and capable of anything. Exercise is pretty dope; maybe do it more than you have in your teens. You’ll start to notice little things as you age, like the ever-present tiny wrinkle above your eyebrows or the way your ankles crick when you stand up. Your body is built to withstand a war; give it the tools it needs to be your shield.

Also, you’re gonna get some super sweet tattoos and a nose piercing. Get excited.

You are going to go through SO many jobs. Oh, the jobs you will have. Some will be great, some will be boring, and some will make you want to pull your hair out. But, they’re just jobs. Shitty jobs don’t define you. By the time you reach 30, I promise you: you will be on the right path to an incredible career and have some of the greatest coworkers/friends you could ever want.

Treat your friends with immense kindness and love. There are those who will return the favor and those who will hurt you, but you will never regret being kind and good.

Anger is excess baggage. It ages you. And believe me, when you reach 30, you’ll start worrying a little more about age. So drop the hatred and upset (as much as you can. It’s totally okay to yell at shitty drivers and bad politicians and stuff.)

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more painful and alien than loving someone who doesn’t love you in return. But, you must always love yourself through this time. It’s not your fault.

Your family won’t be there forever. As you age, so do they. Take all the time you possibly can to be with your mom, your grandparents, your extended family. You will remember the moments of side-splitting laughter more than any bad day you have, I promise.

You will gain a ton of weight around the age of 23, and, considering you weigh like 120 pounds right now, you’ll gain a killer ass and rock star thighs.

No one will be able to fix things for you when you’re depressed, and you will experience some serious depression. You can’t expect anybody to tell you that you’re depressed, and you can’t rely on anyone to make it go away. You have to be the one to take the first step, and you will have a shitload of hard work ahead of you.

Therapy is invaluable, but you already know that. Just be prepared.

Your appendix is totally going to need to be removed. You’ll know it when the day comes, trust me. Don’t be scared though, the hospital is not so bad. You get pancakes and can watch Zoolander in your underwear.

Yoga and meditation will become a huge part of your life and give you nothing but strength. Learn to love breathing.

You’ll get a cat. I know, you’re allergic as fuck, but oh man, you’re gonna get the best cat in the world.

 

I would not tell myself about getting married or becoming a music photographer. I was with my partner when I was 20, but at the time, we were practically kids. I don’t think either of us could have predicted that we’d be together when we reached 30, and I wouldn’t trade any of that uncertainty or nervous excitement for anything.

Becoming a music photographer has been the single greatest accomplishment of my 20’s. Going to grad school is a close second, but I’ve always been good at academics. I didn’t doubt my ability to get a Masters degree, and I didn’t doubt my ability to be a good teacher. But, when I doubted the education system itself and left the profession, I took a corporate job and learned that I am not cut out living out my days in a cubicle at a Fortune 500 company. Flash forward to 2018, and I am a (fairly) successful music photographer (and I’m a professional product photographer during the day! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?) I have never felt better about myself than when I’m with my photography friends in a cramped pit, taking shots of some of the greatest artists in the world.

I would also not tell myself about Grammy’s death. Her illness brought undoubtedly some of the worst moments of my life (and my mother’s and grandfather’s), and I think that each of us handled it the best we knew how. I have no regrets about the time I spent with Grammy, because I saw her every single chance I could. She is still the strongest person I have ever met, and I could write a book on the impact she had on my life. Besides, she’s still floating around the universe somewhere, and I like to think she checks up on me once in a while.

My 20s are over. The nostalgia is rushing over me, but I am also glad to leave it behind. Starting a new decade feels like Spring cleaning: I have purged myself of all the clutter and bullshit I don’t need anymore, and I’m left with a calm, soft space that I’m really proud of.

Let’s do this, 30. I’m more than ready.

Me on my 20th birthday:
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Me a week before 30:
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The 36 Questions that Lead to Love

(Taken from this article in The New York Times. I thought it would be fun to do even though I’ve been with my partner for 10+ years.)

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
My Grammy.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
I’d like to be more well-known for my photography and writing.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Sometimes, yeah, if it’s an important call. I actually hate talking on the phone to most people.

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Sleeping in a little (maybe til 9:30 or 10am), having a delicious breakfast with my husband, doing stuff outside like swimming or biking, shooting an amazing show that evening with my photo buddies, then ending the night with a drive down LSD with the windows down.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I was singing to myself earlier today, although now I can’t remember what the song was. I sing to Jimmy all the time; I make up songs constantly.

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
The mind, no question. One of my biggest fears in life is losing mental clarity.

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
I do, but I’d rather not say in case it happens and someone reads this and says “Aha, she knew!” Too much.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
We are both very motivated individuals, we love video games, and we’re both terrible at sports.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Strength fostered through my friends, family, and myself.

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
Nothing, it’s what shaped me.

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
(Takes 4 minutes to tell my partner about my life, over a third of which he’s been around for)

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Self-healing or the ability to fly. If we’re talking about something realistic, maybe a calmer demeanor in times of stress or anxiety.

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
What’s the deal with death?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
I want to take a several-month vacation to the UK, maybe even live there for a while. Right now, I can’t due to a (new) fear of flying, but fuck that, I’m working on it so I can get back on a plane very soon.

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Accepting my crippling anxiety disorder as a part of me, turning that fear and chaos into creativity and tangible art.

16. What do you value most in a friendship?
Humor, a lack of pretentiousness and arrogance, a love of animals

17. What is your most treasured memory?
One is the collection of memories I have of spending my childhood at my grandparents’ lakehouse.

18. What is your most terrible memory?
Being raped at 11 years old.

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
Helllll yes, I’d get over that fear of flying right now.

20. What does friendship mean to you?
Looking like shit in the daytime and grabbing lunch just to talk and be with the person you care about.

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
They’re critical. They’re my oxygen.

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
1. His quick wit
2. His unbelievable intelligence
3. The nicknames he comes up with for our cat
4. The way he ties his shoes
5. His face when he laughs to the point of tears

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
My family is small but mighty. My childhood was probably far less happy than many people, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
The only parent I’ve ever needed. She’s my best friend and the reason I am who I am.

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
We don’t like to make assumptions about what the other is feeling.
We have the best cat in the world.
We can’t go to bed without talking through our day and making sure we’re both feeling calm and safe.

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share …”
A big plate of eggs and toast. God that sounds good right now.

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
I mean, we are already closer than I ever thought I could be to another human being. But I guess I’d like him to know that I’m still insecure sometimes about the way I look, and I’m still uncertain what I want to do with my life. Because, y’know, I’m a person.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
(whispers this to partner so no one else can hear, appreciates the smile that comes from saying this)

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
Last night, I was talking with a friend and we were discussing how cute this guy across from us was. I pointed to said guy so my friend would see who I was talking about, and said guy turned around as I was doing this. To that guy: sorry I was a creeper. You’re cute, well done.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
I probably cried in front of him a few days ago, and I cried by myself a week or two ago.

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
Their ability to keep my calm in a situation that makes me anxious, but their ability to admit their own fear or nervousness as well.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
Nothing is too serious to be joked about. However, the more detailed or specific you make a joke, the harder it can be to separate the joke from someone’s intentions.

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
I think I’m very forthcoming with my emotions, and I don’t know if I’d regret anything like that. Plus, I’d be dead, and unless I get “what’s the deal with death?” answered, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t mind.

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
My stuffed animals I sleep with.

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
The fuck question is this. It’s not Sophie’s Choice.

36.  Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
If I didn’t share my problems with him, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.

On a touchscreen 

My husband can fall asleep within 3 minutes of his head hitting the pillow. I’ve timed him. As I write this, he’s gently snoring next to me. 

On a good night, it takes me 30-45 minutes to fall asleep. On average, I’d say it’s closer to an hour. This week, it’s been 90+ minutes. 

I’m getting over another round of bronchitis/pneumonia (looking over past blogs, I should just always expect to get sick between October-November and again around April). I had a pretty severe allergic reaction to a medication the doctor gave me that I’ve been on dozens of times before, so my recovery has been slow-going. 

I haven’t slept more than 5 hours straight in 2 weeks. 

I kind of feel like I’m going insane. But I’m also fine. I’m on a leave from work, so there’s no stress there. I just have to get up before 10 tomorrow so I can go to therapy.

Therapy. 

That word and I have always been fast friends. We probably will be for life. 

I want to write more about this, but I find myself actually feeling tired. 

I hope it sticks. 

7 months

I wrote my last blog post two days before my 28th birthday. It is now less than a month until Christmas. I’m sitting in my bed at 3am alone, recovering from a mild chest cold and unable to sleep.
A few things haven’t changed. I still can’t listen to Blackstar from start to finish without crying or feeling completely despondent. I still stay up later than I ever should. I’m still a music photographer.

Some things are new.
We elected a fascist president.
Prince died.
My husband and I moved to a new neighborhood. (Just three months after we moved here, a young man was murdered outside our apartment building. I’ll write more about this later.)
Our bunny died. He was only six years old. I miss him everyday.
The Cubs won the freaking World Series and Chicago had a moment of pure happiness. I will never forget that feeling.
Fidel Castro died tonight. He was 90.
Leonard Cohen died. We lost so many good fucking people this year. I covered Amanda Palmer when she was here a few weeks ago, and she invited people to bring up offerings to remember Cohen while she played “One of us Cannot be Wrong”.
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We got a cat. Her name is Margo, she’s 11, and she rules our lives now. I can’t really put into words how much I love her.
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My best friend  had a baby. A healthy boy. I don’t like kids, and I especially don’t like babies, but I am already bonded to this child. He is my honorary nephew, and I’ve never felt more protective of my best friend and her future. I will always be there for both of them.

I’ve had some utterly wonderful and happy moments over the last 7 months, but I went through a period of what I can only describe as exhaustion. I was shooting shows constantly, writing reviews, working my 40-hour job, and battling intense anxiety (which I know I’ll always have). I cried almost everyday. I slept as much as I could but never felt rested. I had stomachaches and headaches regularly.

I decided to take a leave of absence from work to focus on my mental health. This is the first time in a very long time that I’ve purposefully not been working. It feels foreign and a combination of welcoming and uncomfortable. I’m getting there. It’s been 4 weeks.

I have to much to write about, so many things to get down. And I will. I haven’t gone this long without blogging in years, and I need to write. I need to write all the time. It keeps me grounded and calm.

Remember that, Kate.

Your writing keeps your grounded.

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First of all, I want to thank everyone who follows me on WordPress. I’ve posted some deeply personal things on here, and I’ve received comfort and kindness from strangers. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I want to use this platform to extend an invitation to view my other social networks, dedicated to my new passion: music photography. I’m working incredibly hard to make a name for myself here in Chicago, and I’ve made many wonderful acquaintances. So, without further ado, here are the links to my sites and a few photos from the last few months. Thank you!!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kate_scott_photography/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateinGlasses

Professional site: http://www.katescottphotography.net/

Recent shows:

Ra Ra Riot, Lincoln Hall, 4.9.16
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Caspian, 4.7.16, The Riv:
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Being as an Ocean, 4.4.16, Beat Kitchen:
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Murder by Death, 4.2.16, Metro Chicago:
MBD1

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Gary Clark Jr., 4.1.16, The Riv:
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Lucius, 3.24.16, Metro Chicago:
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everything i can see

It’s been a very long winter, but not necessarily a bad one.

When I came back from New York in December, I was at home for no more than 20 minutes before I went to the doctor. I’d been feeling sick on the plane, and I wanted to make sure it didn’t get any worse. The doctor said I had a sinus infection and prescribed me Augmentin. I felt pretty good for a week or so, then started feeling really rotten the day after Christmas. I went back to the doctor before New Year’s, and they said my sinusitis had become bronchitis.

FINE.

More meds, and two weeks later (the last week of January), and I was barely able to breathe. My chest hurt constantly, and my cough was so bad I kept retching. I went back to the doctor, and they did a chest X-ray.

SPOILERS I HAD PNEUMONIA. I probably had it for a long time beforehand too. So, onto a massive regime of antibiotics, steroids, and long-term asthma meds. Wheeee. It was also at the worst possible time, work-wise. We have several software releases a year, and I managed to get sick the week of the January release. I worked from home for most of the end of the month, and I’m still recovering. I am feeling much better now, though.

A few weeks ago, I got my David Bowie tattoo. I went to Revolution Tattoo in Logan Square, and it took three hours. I was a bit surprised it took so long, simply because my Queen tattoo only took an hour, but this one was much more intricate and detailed. I’m enamored with the outcome and am so proud to have Bowie’s influence on my body.12644662_4497862681755_8132310309727491384_n.jpg

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It’s healed up wonderfully, and I’m ready to rock some summer dresses to show it off.

Next week, I’ll be going on vacation to LA with Jimmy and our good friend, Kevin. We’re going to visit our friends Alex and Ariane, and I CANNOT WAIT. I need sunlight and humidity and palm trees. I feel like I have tuberculosis and need to be shipped off to the coast for healing. Time to heal.

Other than that, not much else exciting going on. I’m feeling a little burnt out with work and my health, but I’m on the mend. I went to a great yoga class tonight and did some grocery shopping at Target afterwards. Soon, I will be on a beach, and all will be well. Goodnight. ❤