This Week in Being a Grown Up…

This week in being a Grown Up…

I yelled at a Blue Shield customer service rep by phone.  Their system suddenly stopped accepting my payments due to some technical glitch.  Despite addressing the problem both on their website and then more directly with a good-natured representative named Chris, I received a Final Notice, in big bold lettering, that informed me my account was subject to cancellation.  It would appear Chris had lied to me when he said we were square and fed me what I can only assume was a fake confirmation number.  And this really hurt too, because I thought Chris and I had a connection.

I discovered this Final Notice after a long, challenging day on set.  My fuse was practically non-existent, so when I called their customer service hotline, I was out for blood.  In 22 agonizing minutes, we identified the problem and (fingers crossed) I successfully paid them my hard-earned money for whatever it is they provide.  Oh yeah, health insurance, whatever.

When I hung up with Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep (it should be noted that I never asked for his name), I felt both impressed with my assertiveness and grossed out by the way in which I asserted.

On the one hand, it felt satisfying because I’m wholly underwhelmed by our health care system and am always looking for an excuse to shake my fist at the government like a disgruntled customer, as if to suggest it really was their job to protect my best interest.  Amurr-icah, f*ck yeah!  Sure, this particular glitch in Blue Shield’s system responsible for my problem has nothing to do with the government, but that didn’t matter.

It felt satisfying because here I was on a Tuesday night, after a long, challenging work day, dealing with my grown up problems like a Grown Up:  I was yelling at someone.

“I pay you good money!” I yelled. “I am 27 years old, sir, and your stupid company won’t take my perfectly good payments, and therefore is ruining my credit and I hate you!”

I convinced myself this was about my credit.  My father instilled me with a deep-rooted, fear-induced need to “diligently follow the rules” when it came to my finances, credit score and the proper maintenance of my car.  You know, the things that count.  At one point, I’m pretty sure I said, “you know the importance of a good credit score in this country!  Every late payment counts!  You’re literally ruining my life!”

It wasn’t really about my credit, though.  I’m an assistant all day long – to men, as well as to a process that is chaotic, challenging, ego-driven.  It’s fulfilling, in the sense that I’m working toward something, that I’m learning and growing; but it’s exhausting, both physically and emotionally.  It’s not easy attending to someone else’s needs all day long.

In those 22 minutes, it was Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep’s job to assist me, to take my needs seriously.  I was the customer, I was the king!  And of course the only way to know for certain if I was being taken care of properly was to be exceedingly inappropriate, emotional and undiplomatic.  I made threats of canceling my account only to assess Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep’s groveling.  When said groveling felt corporately insincere, I raised my voice again and made grander threats.  I eventually got my way, and very condescendingly forgave Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep on behalf of his company.

This week in being a Grown Up…

I didn’t internalize the emotional, institutionalized crap that accumulated throughout my 14-hour workday, but rather aggressively passed it on to some poor dude in some poor cubicle somewhere.  And undoubtedly – unless he does yoga or something – Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep went home, found some poor someone nearby, and re-dumped my crap once more.  This is what Grown Ups do.  We crap it forward.

It made me realize how lucky I was that Peter Parker wasn’t around when I was unwillingly driven to the point of crapping it forward; because had he been, I’d likely have taken it out on him.  It’s why when he came over that night, I hugged-him-hello for a very long time.  Sort of like when your mom hugs you for a long, silent while and you just know she’s privately reminiscing about the day you were born.  Yeah, it was creepy and weird, but it felt really good.  His arms are such a better place to seek solace from my problems.

So, this week in being a Grown Up…

I offer a letter of sincere apology to the poor man who absorbed my bullshit on Tuesday night.  To the man I wronged when I crapped it forward.

* * *

Dear Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep,

First, let me say that I apologize for never asking your name. Especially because I told you that my name was Kirsten F*cking Knisely, as if to suggest that meant something.  I can assure you it does not.  The truth behind this defiant declaration of my moniker had more to do with the fact that Blue Shield has me in their system as Kirsen. No T.  I’m pretty sure that’s not actually anyone’s name, anywhere.  But I digress, as I know this isn’t your fault or your problem.

Secondly, I apologize I spoke to you the way that I did.  The vile tone that emerged from my being was wholly unnecessary; I don’t usually sound like a hangry witch doing a Batman impression.  That even surprised me.

I know it’s not your fault that Blue Shield messed up.  I know you’re just a person fighting the good fight like the rest of us.  I would understand if that night you Googled images of “generic privileged white girl,” printed one out and threw darts at it.  I am, after all, the worst.

But you, sir, you did more for me that night than your company ever has. I don’t know what I did to deserve your patience, your kindness, and your attention to my issues.  You were my emotional punching bag, and for that, you may have preemptively saved my relationship.

You provided health care for my soul, Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep; and for that, I thank you.  You’re the best part about that company.

Sincerely and with love,
Kirsten F*cking Knisely.

ps. If you see Chris, tell him he’s dead to me.

A Tough Act to Follow, or The Message in the Mixtape

As originally published on The Gaggle

* * * *

I am easily won over with a mixtape.

While the more tangible mixtape of the 80s is relatively extinct, the concept behind it is alive and well. I’m referring to when you’re gifted a musical playlist by that special someone, filled with random pop-hits and – if you’re lucky – a promise that he’ll make love to you, like you want him to as this mix provides the soundtrack to your falling for one another.  Better yet, for the communicatively challenged, the mixtape has been known to provide hints pertaining to your relationship; a sort of figurative progress report for your burgeoning young love.

The first time Peter Parker (my boo-thing) gave me a mixtape, he told me – point blank – not to read into any of the songs; not their titles, lyrics, not even a romantically fueled riff.  He was very clear that he had compiled this group of songs solely to present me with roughly an hour of easy listening.

Remember that bit of time in the beginning of your relationship back before you slept with your significant other?  That time you insisted on taking it slow to ensure it was real?  As if to suggest that if he could successfully withstand blue balls time and time again, he might be a keeper.  He was doing his own version of that to me.  He was emotionally cock-blocking me.  As if to suggest that if I could successfully accept his playlist as just a playlist and not an invitation to be his soul mate, I might be a keeper.

Read into those songs I did not.  But then the second mixtape arrived; a mixtape with no such disclaimer denying emotional responsibility.  Hot dog!

Mix #2 (the official title) has played at full volume and on repeat in my Ford Focus for six straight weeks.  Favorites include Boom! Clap! by Charli XCX (it should be noted that there are no exclamation points in the title of that song; I just wish there were), Bed Peace by Jhene Aiko/Childish Gambino (sexy/sexy), and a cover of Hall and Oats’ Maneater by Grace Mitchell (I may or may not have an issue with biting).

It was the inclusion of Simplethings by Miguel that had me just tickled though. In this song, Miguel – with his smooth, provocative tones – states “I don’t need a model / I don’t need a debutant / just be a tough act to follow / you know, a free spirit with a wild heart.”  I get lost in this song.  I roll my windows down, feel that hot, smoggy LA wind on my face, and think, you hear that Hollywood?!  He doesn’t need a model; he’s content with a socially awkward Midwestern comedy writer with big feet and a messy backseat! (That last part’s not a euphemism; the backseat of my Focus is just obscenely, embarrassingly messy.)

Just be a tough act to follow.

Do you know what kind of beautiful relationship advice this is to a young woman in the entertainment industry; to a young woman living and doing her best to thrive in Hollywood, the epicenter of all that is insecure and malnourished?

Don’t let the Kardashians fool you; this is such a horrible place for love.  We don’t all get to have our [second] televised dream wedding [in 3 years] to [everyone’s favorite cuddle monster] Kanye West.  Most of us are just aimlessly wandering love-hungry loons.  We’re doing all sorts of idiotic things like dating naked on VH1 or worse, believing The Bachelor/Bachelorette have something legitimate to offer by way of relationship advice.  We’re reading Cosmo as if it were Blow Jobs for Dummies and desperately designing profiles that convey we’re attractive, well-groomed, well-educated, employed, devoid of daddy-issues, all in (3) simple photographs.  Add one casual selfie in your best push up bra.  Please swipe right.

We’re lonely, mostly, I’d say; and starved for true human connection.  Worst of all, we’re inundated with widespread and easily accessible bad information on what it means to be a good girlfriend or boyfriend – as if it were that simple.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve worked very hard to embody “good girlfriend material” in your dating history.  I’ve been the cool girl, the girl who eats only salads, the girl who shaves herself to the likeness of a naked mole rat for optimum sexual appeal.  And I’ve done these sorts of things thinking they would guarantee me the kind of romance you see on the big screen.

In my last serious relationship – born out of the kind of forbidden, truest of true love that I couldn’t help but declare my own personal Nicholas Sparks’ mini-drama – we each worked very hard to epitomize the other’s perfect partner.  Five years of molding your own character to fit someone else’s would-be specifications leaves very little room for the kind of self-maintenance required to be a well-rounded, happy human being.  It’s the kind of behavior that makes you resent one another, and ultimately, sadly destroys your ability to work as a team.

Just be a tough act to follow.  A pretty common phrase in our vernacular and a pretty simple concept to grasp:  be so good that nothing could ever compare.  Love, like art, like entertainment, is entirely subjective; there is no right or wrong in any of it.  And how can you be that incomparable partner if you’re simply acting like everyone else and constructing a generic personality to someone else’s [or worse, society’s] criterion?  Answer is:  you can’t.

The best shot you have at being a tough act to follow is truly discovering what it means to be you, nurturing and glorifying your most unique features, and refusing ever to bring a less than honest version of yourself to the table.    This is what makes you incomparable and with that, I believe, affords your greatest shot at finding love that is grounded and true.

Be the type of person unafraid to admit you don’t like playing team sports if that’s the case; that never says “I don’t care where we eat” when you know what you really want for dinner is a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.  If you want to be incredible in bed, put down the magazine and ask your partner what they like; and more importantly, show them what you like.  Be the type of person that stands for something, gets mad when its warranted, that sometimes need to shake off the bad days with an epic, solo dance party to the idiosyncratic mixtape that is your soul.  Yeah, I said it.  You owe it to yourself and to the ones you love.

Point taken, Miguel.  I’ll tell you one thing: this mixtape is going to be a tough act to follow.  Good luck, Parker.