Grls I Know - Kaitlyn

Describe yourself without mentioning work.

I’m a lover. I’m the most sane when I’m in love. I’m deeply in love with my friends and my cat. And I need to feel like I’m doing as little harm as possible in order to be ok.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Atlanta. My dad built a house with his bare hands on Blackbird Road in Monticello, Georgia. Then, I moved to Columbia, Tennessee when I was 4 years old. That’s where I grew up, it was less dreamy, pretty bleak.

How long have you lived in NYC?

It’ll be five years in January (of 2017).

Tell me what it's like living in New York.

New York is crawling with ants that aren’t ants, they’re human beings. It’s the most intense place I’ve ever lived. You're surrounded by people and they all live in widely different realities, but you co-exist which is kind of comforting. Sometimes it’s the opposite of comforting, everyone here is crazy. Culturally, everything you could ever want is always at your fingertips. I think we all like knowing it’s there; I really don’t take advantage of it like I should. Also, you become entirely spoiled in a way that’s very specific to living here. You walk outside of your apartment and whatever you want is there; living here can be brutal so you feel entitled to that, like you earned it.

In light of the recent election, what does it feel like to be a woman in the United States right now?

It feels like everything I’ve ever known to be wrong but true has been validated yet again. This has been my experience my entire life. To go a shred deeper, it feels like someone touched your body without permission and you went to tell someone about it and they looked through you and walked away. It feels like that. Not unfamiliar, but real bad. We live here in this bubble, and I’m surrounded by people who feel the same way I do and see the world the way I do. It’s problematic. To receive the reality check that we did, was earth-shattering.

Did you have any strong female influences growing up?

No. I think that would hurt my mom’s feelings, if she heard me say that. What I really needed someone to tell me growing up was: You are magic and more powerful than any man. Men will try to manipulate you, take advantage of your sensitivity, but that’s your magic, keep it safe. I learned self respect the hard way. I lacked a strong female role model my whole life which I think is why I threw myself to the wind for awhile when I was younger. My mom was an amazing mother. She sacrificed her entire life for her children, but I grew up in a southern christian home. Young women are just treated like some kind of disease where I’m from; adolescence was dark.

 

Does 'being a woman' feel like an active, always-present part of your life or is it not necessarily something that influences your day-to-day?

Absolutely. It’s everything. Most of my experience as a 27 year old woman has been centered around what I had to tolerate or what I wasn’t allowed to do or say because I’m a woman, because I have a vagina. Tolerate was really the primary theme growing up; now there’s a bit of an inverse that’s happening. I’ve taken a lot of abuse, and thankfully I’ve utilized that to create a shield and a fuel for myself. Female beings are more powerful and more special than men despite what the world may tell you. As a feminist I shouldn’t say this, but I do believe it’s true. It’s also just a really helpful mindset to have when navigating this world. 

WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS? I HAVE SOME GIRLFRIENDS WHO COME FROM BIG GIRL GANGS AND OTHERS WHO HAVE SINGLE CLOSE FRIENDS ALL OVER the place.

In high school, I didn’t have many true friendships because everyone was so superficial and mean; we all needed to be “cool” to survive. We were also programmed to seek male validation and approval, which gets in the way of female friendships. I had one or two close friends, but we ultimately ended up hurting each other over something trivial. Mary Frances is my best friend and soulmate. We met when we were 16, and we've been through horrible things together. She is my family. Most of my friend-family in New York are queer or female-identifying. In the past two years I’ve built this huge network of female friends, and it’s become more important to me than it’s ever been. Now, I feel the most nourished and comfortable when I’m with women. It was something I missed out on for a long time. When I was 21, I spent 7 months in rehab / outpatient and it was women-only; those seven months of my life were crucial in changing the way I viewed and related to women. We are so strong and intuitive and resilient. Women are so special. 

DOES IT FEEL EASIER OR HARDER TO MAKE FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS AS YOU GET OLDER? 

Easier. Especially now that dialogue has caught up. We openly acknowledge that our systems are built to inhibit women; support isn’t a rarity. I think women and genderqueer individuals look at each other and we see our ally. “What can I do to support you?” “I won’t let anyone hurt you if I can help it.”

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH WOMEN WOULD TALK ABOUT MORE WITH EACH OTHER? 

Not really. It’s probably different in other places, but in New York I think women speak very openly about everything: sex, politics, trauma, money, our bodies, etc. We tend to go for the real stuff straight away. Emotionally, we’re on a different plane. My conversations with my female friends are basically just free therapy.

 

Tell me about your first job.

I worked at Santa Fe Steakhouse in Columbia, Tennessee. Sometimes people would leave Baptist literature instead of tipping. There’s a lot of darkness in chain restaurants too. Servers take a lot of abuse.

What is your job now?

I’m an Account Manager at a media company. We specialize in branded content and experiences. I’m an art school drop out from Tennessee who landed herself an advertising gig in New York. I’m not mad about it! On the side, I’m the events editor and I write the newsletter. I’m also the creator and manager of girltalk.events, an online hub of events for / by NYC’s female-identifying and gender-denying communities.

What motivates you to work hard?

When my parents got divorced, my mom had been a stay-at-home mom for like seven years. My dad left, and she still loved him and was in denial so she didn't take alimony. She still thought he would come back. So she took on three shitty jobs and she really struggled to support us, let alone find her own happiness. She was an amazing mother but her situation was a nightmare. My motivation is twofold - never wanting to be in the position that she was in, and two, I want to retire her. It’s something I want to do so I can make up for everything she’s had to do and everything I put her through.

What advice would you give to young women starting out in your field (or any field), or maybe even to your younger self?

You can have everything that you want. Think about it every day, think about your dreams every day, everything you that you want you deserve. Go ahead and feel surprised as it starts to happen for you. And then get used to it.

 

WhO (or what?) is your spirit animal?

Probably a cat. Only touch me when I want to be touched, but worship me. Mood swings, snacks, lounging, decadence. A scratch and a bite.

What song have you been playing on loop lately?

So the first thing to know is that I play every song on loop. I don’t listen to music like a normal person my age, I’m 80 years old. Oh god, right now it’s ‘Do Yoga’ by Rae Sremmurd. It’s dreamy.

Dinner with any celebrity, living or dead?

Natasha Lyonne. I’m obsessed with her. I have a big crush on her.

What was your first concert?

I was four years old and it was The Moody Blues. My mom is obsessed with them. There were hot air balloons everywhere.

What was your most recent concert?

The Boiler Room Weekender in the Poconos? I guess that’s the closest thing to a concert that I’ve been to in awhile. That was surreal, it got shut down by the cops.

Guiltiest pleasure?

Day drinking, smoking cigarettes in the house and watching Desperate Housewives.

I like to think of all my girlfriends as being part of A magical coven of strong, independent witches. As a witch, what would you say is your biggest power?

How about if a man touches a woman without consent, his hands and genitals fall off and then his bank account is immediately drained. Can I have that power?

 

'Grls I Know' is a collection of conversations with some of the greatest women I know.

Interviews are published every Monday.