Tuesday, December 31, 2013

27 Reasons I'll Never Forget Being 33 Years Old

On December 27, I turned 34 years young.

Being 33 was one hell of a year! One of the record books, and by “record books” I mean this blog. The year kicked off with a surprise birthday gathering with my closest friends in NYC (thank you again, Sue and Ali!), and it set the tone for the year. My 33rd year was one of ups and downs, but so much growth.

In chronological order, here are the 27 reasons I’ll never forget being 33:

1. Went on some dates with Todd. I thought I was ready to start dating. I wasn’t.

2. Made out with Todd. He was the first guy to see my boobs since Max. I thought I was going to have sex with him. Turned out he had HPV. No sex for me.
        2a.  Got my first of three Gardasil shots. I figured I was single again, so better safe than sorry.

3. Entered a courtroom married. Sat in the big chair next to the judge. Left the courtroom divorced.
         3a.  Started this blog the night before. Yay!

4. Interviewed realtors and then put our condo on the market in February. We thought it would sell in a month. We were wrong.
         4a.  This kicked off a streak of making my bed everyday for six months. I hadn’t done that since I lived under my parents’ roof.

5. Met a more adorable than obnoxious 25-year-old (who would become The 26-Year-Old) who thought I was sexy. Who, me? Hello, ego boost!

6. Bought condoms for the first time since Max and I first started dating. Put said condoms into the inside pocket of every purse I have. In the words of Pretty Woman, I'm a safety girl!

7. Formed a booty call relationship with the 26-Year-Old and had my first orgasm since Max stopped touching me. We hooked up here and there throughout the year (but no sex).

8. For the first time in a decade, I bought a pretty glass bowl and some pot, which I kept hidden in my night table drawer. My rule-following roommate/ex-husband would’ve been none-to-happy if he’d known about it!

9. Selected a wonderful vibrator and discovered the joy of masturbation. This toy is also stored in my night table drawer – they don’t call it a goodie drawer for nothing!

I absolutely love my I'm Married To Me ring.
10. Sold my engagement ring and bought my right hand ring. I've been wearing my new ring for nine months and that ring still fills me with pride and strength.

11. Went to Disney World with my parents, sister, and her two kids. Disney World is the happiest place on earth.

12. Went to Nora’s and Lillian’s weddings back-to-back weekends. I hadn’t gone to a wedding single since 2004. And you know what? I still had fun at both weddings (and, fine, a little crying in the bathrooms too).

13. Slept with someone’s boyfriend. Not my classiest move, but I FINALLY broke my three-year streak of zero sex! But no more getting frisky with a guy I know is taken.

14. Reconnected with Todd. Made out with him on July 4. Thought something would start up with him. I was wrong.

15. Signed up for OKCupid and went on some dates. I had never done online dating before, and I found it to be pretty fun.

16. Went to my first country show -- Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley! My two girlfriends and I set up an amazing tailgate and sneaked booze into the amphitheater. Awesome way to spend a summer night.

17. Met Jason, AKA The Incredible Sex. We would date for two months. I adored his openness, intensity, and skills in the sack. I couldn’t stand that he smoked, was irresponsible, less educated than me and my friends, and generally self-centered. Yeah, not exactly my best match, but it was a ton of fun until he told me he loved me and messed it all up!

18. After multiple price drops and tons of frustration, we sold our condo in August. From the verbal offer to closing, the process took not even three weeks. Thank you, cash offer. My verdict on home ownership: it sucked!

19. After being in separate bedrooms for almost a year, Max and I moved into our respective apartments. After living with him for six years, I’m still not totally used to NOT living with him.

20. Had a wonderful night out with my friends for my Divorce Party (but I didn’t call it a "divorce party").

21. Ran my first half marathon on a gorgeous autumn day. It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to do another!

22. Survived my first wedding anniversary as a divorcee with a Me Day.

23. Traveled to Cancun with Sue and two other college friends for a week of reading, sleeping, drinking, and eating. I hadn’t been someplace tropical since my honeymoon in 2009.
"Kat, I'm honored to be your secret boyfriend.
Hey baby, let's drop it to the floor."

24. Sat for a family portrait, which meant three married couples... and me. I’m so glad we did it, but it further reminds me that my stupid biological clock is ticking. Will I ever get married again and have kids? Time will tell…

25. Hosted my first party all by myself. I’d always wanted to host a Christmas party, but Max wasn’t one for hosting. And my Christmas brunch was great, if I do say so!

26. Dyed pink streaks into my hair. Because I wanted to, because I can, and because no one can tell me not to!

27. Saw Pitbull, my secret boyfriend, in concert. The night before my 34th birthday, Yoshi took me -- what a great birthday present. (Pitbull is my secret boyfriend because he doesn’t know he’s my boyfriend and I’m going to have his rapper babies.)

How can my 34th year top all of this? What are your predictions for my 34th year? 
Super Sunday Sync

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My 6 Tips to Financially Prepare for Divorce

In a fair world, the price you pay for divorce is your heartache.
In the real world, the price is heartache and cold, hard cash. 

It’s been about a year now since Max and I started separating our finances, but we didn’t fully disentangle until our condo sold in the beginning of September. It’s been three and a half months of living fully on my own financially. Since it’s the season of spending, here are my 6 tips for how to financially prepare for divorce.

Disclaimers: I’m the furthest thing from a financial planner, so these are tips I figured out or gathered from people who seemed to know what they were talking about. My financial situation with my ex-husband was fairly simple. We had a mortgage on our condo and otherwise had no debt. We don’t have children. There was no history of lying or deception. 

Six ways I financially prepared for my divorce:

  1. Keep a joint checking as long as necessary. Max and I lived together for six months after we divorced. There was enough emotional stress, so we did not want to nickel and dime each other. To keep things simple and civilized, with the help of our mediators, we deposited equal amounts into a joint checking account to pay the basic living expenses like the mortgage and utilities. We also paid our legal fees out of this joint checking account.
  2. Separate your savings as soon as possible. Savings accounts are about planning for the future. You and your ex don’t have a future anymore, so separate that money – or start a new savings account in just your name – so you can actively start preparing for your new goals. Also, separating the savings gives you a realistic look at what you have to work with.
  3. Stay together on some services to save money. I looked into separating our auto insurance and cell phones, but it turned out it would cost us both a fair bit of extra money as two single accounts. So, we stayed on joint plans until the condo sold.
    (Speaking of cell phones, be ready to be totally irritated by separating your cell phone plans. I swear, it was easier to get divorced than it was to separate our Verizon accounts! I might’ve cried on the phone with a Verizon manager.)
  4. Take a hard look at your current spending priorities. How will your habits change when it’s just you? Where can you cut corners? What will you absolutely not cut out? I knew I needed enough padding in my account so I could keep my gym membership. There is a nice-ish gym I could join for half the price, but nope -- my current gym is a priority, so I had to make it work. Bye bye, cable and a house cleaning service! Those cuts saved me about $150 a month, which I use to mentally justify my gym membership.
  5. Figure out what your new expenses will be and starting living according to that figure immediately. My expected cost for rent was going to be about $300 more than my half of the condo mortgage payment, so I started putting $300 into my savings account every month to get used to living on that new amount. (Bonus: my savings account got an extra $1,800 while I waited six months for our condo to sell.)
  6. Don’t just get tips from bloggers like me – talk to a professional. Did you know that there are financial planners who actually specialize in divorce preparation? I didn't! Make an appointment with some kind of financial planner before the divorce is final, and then make another one for after the dust settles. I have a second appointment the first week of January to take a look at my retirement savings in particular.

These are my favorite tips that helped make my financial life suck a little less during the divorce whirlwind. In terms of your finances, what did you do leading up to your divorce and living separately? What is your best tip or resource?

See also: 10 Things You Need to Do When You Get Divorced; Financial Advice for Divorce.
Super Sunday Sync

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dyeing My Hair Pink and Reviving the Incredible Sex

Sowing My Wild Oats

Nine years ago this month, I got so drunk that I blacked out and had sex with a stranger. 

I woke up the next morning and he was gone (what was his name?). My apartment was an incriminating, disgusting mess with the telltale signs of my booze-filled romp. Miraculously, I hadn’t been mugged or killed. I had a raging hangover and was late for work.

I was ashamed of myself.

It wasn’t the first time I’d done something that reckless and irresponsible. For all the ways that I was living a very conscientious, calculated, and careful life, I would sometimes almost rebel against my own good judgment with a night of boozing and screwing.

That literally unmemorable night occurred a week or two before my 25th birthday. I decided it was time to clean up my act and start dating the kind of guy who had the potential to meet my parents. Yeah, my standards were that low that I needed to actually declare this intention for my quarter-century birthday.

And what do you know? Max and I got together the night of my 25th birthday party.

Putting Away My Oats 

Max was so sweet, so clean cut. He was smart, articulate, and a major rule follower. Again, not that I was some rebel living on the edge of society, but I certainly had my share of stories that starred Kat the Bad Decision Maker. Max didn’t have those. I felt safe with him, but I also felt I needed to behave myself.

I wanted to be a grownup, one who was good enough for Max. He was super conservative in how he conducted himself. Maybe he was a little square for me, but maybe that was good for me. I told myself that I’d met the right man at the right time so I’d cut it out with those idiotic blackout nights and get myself on track with the perfect guy to meet my parents. 

I used to say about us, “Some people need to sow their wild oats before they can settle down. I had to sow my oats.  Max has no oats!"

I used to smoke cigarettes in my teens, and in my 20s I only smoked once in awhile when -- you guessed it! -- drunk. Max hated smoking, so I promised him I’d stop (and I did). Needless to say, he’d never touched pot (he lied to me initially and said he had and later admitted he’d never smoked anything), so I promised him I’d stop (and I did).

As time passed, I still hung out with my friends and all that, but I toned myself down. Maybe it was my getting older, but honestly, I think I just didn’t want to feel judged by the man I loved so much. If Max was with me at a bar, we always left earlier than I actually wanted to. Not that I had many opportunities to smoke pot, but I declined.

I wanted to be a good girl, which included being very tame in the bedroom -- even though I wanted to be "a lady in the street but a freak in the bed," in the wise words of Usher. Max wouldn’t share anything about what he wanted sexually. I quickly learned that expressing my likes and dislikes made Max rather uncomfortable, so I mostly stayed silent – which eventually became a theme of our relationship.

Sowing Some New Oats

Fast forward to 2013.

Kat is truly, truly, truly outrageous!
This weekend, finally tried out a look I’ve been dying to try – I had two streaks of Jem-pink hair dye applied. When my hair is down, you don’t really see it, but when it’s up, it’s very obvious. It reminds me of playing with Manic Panic hair dye like Angela Chase in the early-mid 1990s, when I dabbled with purple, pink, and blue. (Blue was a bad idea. It looked great for a week or two then turned grey.)  It's just a bit badass -- but still acceptable for my corporate job -- and I absolutely love it.

When my wonderfully gay hairdresser revealed his work, two thoughts came to mind:
  1. Max would hate this look. 
  2. Jason would love this look. Yes, Mr. Incredible Sex himself.

So… yeah. Jason came over. (He loved my hair.) I promised I would tell you if I went back for more Incredible Sex, and I have. It’s actually been really nice because I get some attention from Jason, I get off, and then he leaves. No sleepovers, no telling me he loves me, no baking brownies. Oddly, given our history, it’s remarkably uncomplicated; we’re friendly so even though we really are using each other, it’s fun. We openly have said that this once-in-awhile thing can only work until one of us starts dating someone else, then it’s off, no questions asked. Works for me, but I know most of my friends will not approve. 

[This is the point where the worried/disapproving friends will start texting me, "Kat! Jason?! WTF!!!"]

Awkward selfie!
Tonight, Jason smoked some pot out the window that faces the apartment building I lived in when I had that awful blackout sex night. I marveled at how much things seemed to have come full circle. I live alone. I’m having casual sex with a guy who will never meet my parents. I’m around pot again. My hair has pink streaks like it did in 1996 (except now I paid $90 for it and back then I applied it myself with an old toothbrush).

But, here’s the difference. I’m not 24 years old. I now have nine years of living and crying and dreaming and loving, so I’m not the same person, even if I’m kind of reverting back to some of the old behaviors from before my marriage. My life just got too damn serious with Max in general and as the marriage fell apart, and then even more so as we had to do grownup shit like mediation and selling a condo. I think I have earned it to act a little stupid – but in ways that still allow me to respect myself in the morning. 

And my hair is so awesome.

After your divorce, did you find yourself reverting back to old behaviors? Any regrets about how you acted?

See also: In Favor of Casual Sex.
I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Monday, December 9, 2013

This Divorced Christmas Dork Doesn't Have A Christmas Tree!

You know those dorks who are totally obsessed with Christmas? I mean, seriously, the holiday comes every freaking year and these people go bonkers over and over.

They pretend to be annoyed to see Christmas decorations around Halloween… but secretly, they’re pumped.
“CHRISTMAS IS COMING, PEOPLE!” they gleefully think.

They go on vacation and MUST buy a Christmas ornament. It’s their law.

They have pretty much every Christmas movie from It’s A Wonderful Life to Elf.

They have multiple scented candles because every room needs to smell like Sparkling Snow or Christmas Cookie or Christmas Eve.

They have Christmas music on repeat starting Thanksgiving night.

I am totally one of these dorks.

Well, I used to be, but I’m not sure if I can be this year. Here it is now, the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but I just can’t quite figure myself out. Are these familiar songs and smells and tastes comforting and soothing, or sort of sad and haunting?

Our first Christmas tree in 2007. Fat, right?

Max and Me -- The Christmas Dorks

Max was also a Christmas dork. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, he would literally say stuff like, “Let’s go look at Christmas decorations and get into the holiday spirit.” No, this isn’t an ABC Family movie. He really meant it.

Every year we’d take pictures of us buying a huge tree from our local high school marching band. Our trees were always obnoxiously large.

For all the ways that Max let me do just about everything but wipe his ass for him, he would happily wrap his own Christmas gifts.

So, yeah, we were pretty much two Christmas dorks. We loved it.

Do I Get A Christmas Tree?

Last week, I pulled out our box of ornaments and decorations. Last Christmas, we were living together but I’d already filed for divorce, so needless to say, there were no decorations for Christmas 2012. So, I hadn’t looked at this stuff in two years. As I put aside his Red Sox ornaments, I started pulling out our ornaments – Kat & Max, Boston 2007; Our First Christmas 2009; Naragansett 2011. Ugh.

You know what happened next. Me, on the floor, crying.

I called Ali and she patiently let me blubber.

“Each time I think, OK, I’m in the clear on this divorce crap, something else has to appear,” I sniffed. “I’m sick of stuff appearing!”

As a best friend should she reassured me that each moment like this is a big picture step forward and that I’m so strong. (I like when she tells me I’m strong.)

I took all of Max's and our ornaments and put them in a shopping bag to deal with later/never.

So anyway, here I am, a total Christmas dork with a huge tub of decorations, a drawer full of Christmas movies, and no Christmas tree. I can’t decide if putting up a tree will make me feel strong and independent or sad and wistful.

What did you do the first Christmas after your divorce? Did you decorate? Should I let my Balsam Pine candle suffice this year or should I put up a tree?
I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Hung Out With My Ex-husband... Voluntarily.

Before we moved, Max and I had talked about going to visit his friends Evan and Kate. Evan is Max’s friend from college, but the four of us became very close. We used to hang out with them all the time and even went on vacations with them and their children. I hadn’t seen them in over a year, and I missed them.

“We should go visit them after we move,” Max said.

I raised an eyebrow. “Umm, will that be weird? And are you sure they don’t hate me?” I asked.

He assured me that it would not be weird, and they missed me too.

Maybe we'll be like Demi and Bruce.
So, two and a half months after Max and I finally got our separate addresses, we did it. We not only got together socially, but we went to visit a couple that we used to hang out with. Instead of two couples, we were now one couple and two single people.

I picked up Max from the train station in what used to be his car and we drove an hour to our friends’ house. We chatted easily, asking each other about work, road races, his niece and my nephews and niece, and whatever else had occurred since we stopped living together. We did not speak about dating.

(Halfway there, I blurted out, “Oh shit! I forgot to put on deodorant!”

Max responded, “Don’t worry, there’s a CVS on the way. We’ll stop there.”

I mention this because Max, as my former husband, knows that I’m totally neurotic about deodorant. Telling me not to worry about it would be unheard of. It's nice being with someone who knows your quirks.)

After I bought an emergency stick of deodorant, we arrived at Evan and Kate’s house. It felt like no time had passed. We laughed about the same type of jokes. We ate Doritos. Max and Evan tossed around a football while Evan’s children tried to interrupt the game. Because things felt so familiar and comfortable, I had fleeting moments of wanting to grab Max’s hand or wrap my arms around his waist like I used to.

Burning Our Important Documents

Evan has a fire pit in his backyard, so we mentioned that Max and I happened to have a big box of important documents in the trunk of the Honda that needed to be disposed of. So, we had a little Burn Your Important Documents party. We tossed in bank statements from 2005, my offer letter for my first job from 2002, condo board contracts (was Max supposed to give those to someone?!), and mortgage application materials. The kids took turns rotating in to toast marshmallows on our burning documents.

In the pile, I also found a copy of our marriage certificate, the paperwork from our mediators, the court summons for February 19, 2013, and the How To Get Divorced handbook from our state government. Kate and I exchanged looks across the fire as we continued to burn the documentation of the demise of my marriage. Oh the irony of watching all of this go up in flames. (I didn’t point these things out to Max. We still don’t use the D word.)

After pizza and s’mores, we drove another hour back to the train station. We hugged goodbye and wished each other a happy Thanksgiving.

Hanging Out With My Ex -- Was It Worth It?

I spent the next day reflecting on my time with Max. We were now “friends,” though that word isn’t complex enough for what we are now to each other. How did I feel about it?

Here is what I noticed after hanging out with my ex-husband for the first time:

  1. I still find him attractive. He is a good looking man, from his perfect nose to his height (almost six feet) to his long black eyelashes. *sigh*
  2. …but I feel no attraction to him. I find him attractive now the way I’d recognize that my cousin is attractive. 
  3. I still have shivers of sadness and frustration that he couldn’t fix his problems. If Max could've conquered his demons, I believe we could have fixed our marriage. 
  4. …but I have no doubts whatsoever that getting divorced was the right thing to do.
  5. I still am not totally used to living without him. Yes, I was ready to pull out my hair with frustration during the months we lived together after our relationship was over. But the day after I saw him, I had an extra sad case of the Sunday blues.
  6. …but I’m adjusting and coping everyday. Yes, I miss him, but I feel myself healing and making progress as I get to used to him never walking through my door.

We emailed that Monday and agreed that it was a little hard for both of us, but at the same time it was really good to see each other. We intend to hang out again – no rush to do so though.

Have you ever hung out with your ex? Was it nice or sad? Did it help you or set you back in your moving on process?
Two Chics and a Blog