My Week In Music: Teenage Nightmare

Lately, the world has been conspiring against me in an effort to force me to maybe not relive, but at least confront my shit-show of an adolescence. This conspiracy (yeah, I’m more than comfortable labeling it as such) has manifested through a series of crazy random happenstances in which I find myself interacting with people from high school whom I haven’t seen in years. I suppose this kind of thing is expected if you go to a NYC prep school and never leave New York. But I don’t have many fond memories of my teenage years (read: almost none), so being forced to reconcile who I am now with who I was then has been a less than pleasant trip. Let me contextualize this for you: in my high school yearbook, I was voted “Most Impatient” and “Talks Most, Says Least.” I’m not crying, you’re crying.

My high school yearbook picture. I want to punch this version of me in the face. YOU KNOW NOTHING, 18-YEAR-OLD KATE. NOTHING. STOP SMILING.

Anyway, here are some songs I really dug during my mid to late teens.

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DSM Superheroes: The Nasty Narcissist

The Nasty Narcissist

Denver Ulysses Grump, Jr. grew up in an opulent mansion. His mother doted on him despite her intermittent substance abuse issues, frequently telling him he was the most precious thing in her life. His father, Denver Ulysses Grump, Sr., was an absentee oil tycoon who endlessly criticized Denver, most notably when he lost a grade-school spelling bee for misspelling “patriarchy.” Grump, Sr. was found dead in his office the day Denver graduated from high school. The death was ruled a suicide, but rumors abound. Denver lives in the penthouse on the top floor of a large high-rise so it is easier for him to look down at everyone else. Most of the walls in his apartment are mirrored. The rare bit of wall-space that doesn’t feature a mirror is used for various self-portraits.

Diagnostic Inspiration: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (DSM-5 301.81)

Gender: Male

Catchphrase: “Only I can fix it! Me! Not you, ME!”

Powers: Supreme exaggeration his own abilities, achievements, and talents. Social climbing. An unwarranted sense of entitlement. Inappropriately inflated self-image. Development of super strength and/or super verbal abuse when criticized or humiliated.

Weaknesses: Envious of others. Lack of empathy. Crippling fear of his deceased father. Places without mirrors.

Accessories: A fifty-foot portrait of himself that tells him he’s THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL. (Like the Evil Queen’s mirror in Snow White. Except it’s just giant picture of himself. That he sometimes caresses or kisses.) When he doesn’t have access to his portrait, he turns to his trusty gilded pocket mirror.

Likes: Mostly himself, but also people whom he perceives to be in positions of power.

Dislikes: Other people’s needs or feelings. Not receiving special treatment.

Romantic Interest(s): Masturbation, generally involving mirrors or images of himself.

Allies: The Nasty Narcissist has no allies, but will tolerate Substance Abuse Sally when he has use for her.

Rivals: Basically everyone. Unless they’re kissing his ass. But they go back to being rivals once he’s gotten everything he perceives he needs from them.

Romantic Résumé

Objective

Vaguely insecure but charmingly self-deprecating artsy-type seeks creatively-inclined adult male (human), preferably steadily employed, in the New York City area for something in between a one-night-stand/friends-with-benefits situation and a full-blown, instant relationship. (This is possibly called “dating,” a retro trend that apparently died out around 2008.) Alcoholics, narcissists, misogynists, mansplainers, doctors, codependents, neo-Nazis, or any combination of the aforementioned need not apply.

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A Brief History of Men I May Have Loved (And Who Didn’t Love—or Even Like—Me Back)

This essay is also featured on the My Week In Tinder Valentine’s Day special episode, which you can also listen to on PodOmatic, iTunes, or Stitcher.

(Note: Nearly all names have been changed. This is not to protect the men I am writing about, but to protect myself from further past, present, or future humiliation.)

Wanting what I can’t have has been a recurrent theme in my life. I’ve wanted my curly hair to be straight; I’ve wanted my practically translucent skin to be just a shade or two darker (read: not vampiric); I’ve wanted my neuroses to seem charming, not terrifying.

My romantic history is not free from this curse: I am unrequited love’s bitch.

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