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The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Part Five) or “The Last Five Years”

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Since there hasn’t been an update to this story since last year (ha ha, get it, because it’s January now?), you can refresh your memory or jump in for the first time with part one, part two, part three, and part four.

I also apologize in advance for my horrible poetry from 2007, which you will be subjected to in this installment. Please still respect me once you know how terrible I am at it.

After Cathy and Sam’s wedding, things went pretty much back to normal. I was able to focus on my (much smaller and easier to plan) wedding, and when the excitement was over, I got sent out to a sales conference in Colorado Springs to meet with Harlequin staff. I think that was the first time it occurred to Cathy that while she might downplay my success to everyone, she couldn’t change reality. I had written two books at that point and they were both fairly well received and I was profiting.

Obviously, Cathy needed to become a writer.

With her graduation from college approaching, things really kicked into high gear. Cathy had, as I mentioned before, been attending a two-year college for about as long as it takes most people to become doctors. There’s nothing wrong with people taking longer than the traditional amount of time to finish a degree, of course, but Cathy didn’t have a job. She didn’t have full custody of her son. She had very few responsibilities and spent most of her time chain-smoking, reading, and listening to music. So, what was causing the delay?

Laziness and greed.

Cathy had a system. While Sam worked two and often three jobs, she got by on federal student loans. She could navigate a FAFSA form so deftly, she could have made a decent living just helping other people fill them out. Instead, she applied for and received loan after loan, taking just enough credit hours to defer payment. “All I have to do is take six credit hours a semester,” she said, bewildered that no one had found this loophole before. “They can’t ask you to repay them if you’re still in college.” As for what would happen when she did finally graduate, she said she would just declare bankruptcy. The loans were, as she described them, “free money.”

When I pointed out that federal student loans can’t be discharged in a chapter seven bankruptcy, she went pale and still and said nothing.

Eventually, she reached a point where she had to graduate, and so she announced that in the spring, she would receive her associate’s degree in English. She only had a couple more credits to complete. One of the classes was “Minority American Literature,” different from classic American literature classes in that none of the authors read were white men. Since “anyone but white men” is a lot to cram into a single class, the final assignment was a paper about a marginalized figure in American literature who was not covered by the syllabus, including why the student believed that author should have been included. Cathy was outraged that one very important, obvious figure had not been included.

“I’m writing my paper on Virginia Woolf,” she said shaking her head sadly. “One of my favorite writers and, once again, she’s not valued because of her sex.”

“She might not have been covered because she was from England,” I suggested.

Cathy paused. “Was she?”

I nodded. “Yup.”

“Oh.”

Cathy decided she would write the paper on Virginia Woolf, anyway, because, “It’s not like [the professor] is going to know that.” I don’t know how the paper went down, but she did somehow pass the class.

The other class she took was some sort of creative writing course. This is where a large part of Cathy’s ego drives completely off the rails. Because now, not only am I writing just Harlequins, she is writing serious, academic-level fiction and poetry that will surely change the world. She became enamored with the idea of microfiction, stories contained in a few sentences like the famous “baby shoes, never worn.” When explaining it to me (patiently, of course, since my plebian brain couldn’t possibly grasp the intricacies of something so profound), she showed me one of her own pieces. I don’t remember the exact wording from memory, but it was something like:

The courtyard lights blaze auras in the mist while the shadows make a lunar landscape of the snowy ground.

“That’s not really a story, though,” I said, rereading the single line. “The baby shoes thing is a full story because you know it’s a story about people who either wanted a baby and couldn’t have one or about a baby that died. There’s a plot there. This is just a description of the courtyard at your school.” It wasn’t even fiction, really, as she told me she’d written it while actually looking at the snowy courtyard. But I didn’t get it. There was nuance, she told me, and someone at my level of education couldn’t just pick up “real, literary” writing.

While her microfiction was the bane of my existence, her poetry was the bane of her professor and classmates. The man who taught the class was in his late thirties and happily married. So, Cathy set her sights on having an affair with him. Obviously, she didn’t declare this intention, but anyone who knew her at all could see her end goal from the moment she talked about how much he enjoyed her poetry, which always had something to do with her body and sexuality. He left perfunctory comments on a piece comparing her vulva to a flower and her legs to flower stems; clearly, this meant he wanted to have sex with her. He said the imagery in the poem describing an orgasm was colorful, so the only conclusion was that it had turned him on. She read his comments aloud to me and her other friends, even to Sam, analyzing them from every angle until she could tease out some proof of the professor’s desire for her. Every piece of poetry and microfiction she wrote became more and more sexual, until finally after she brought in a poem rhapsodizing over her own queenly pubic hair and decrying women who shave as “little girls who wish they had a crown,” the professor told her to stop.

“He said he loves his wife,” Cathy said with a knowing smile, flicking ash from the end of her cigarette. “But my poems were making it hard for him not to cheat.”

Everyone knew this wasn’t the truth. It just couldn’t have been. Another friend in the class, Amelia, who had been there for what she described as the “very awkward” conversation about Cathy’s poetry, told me what had really happened. The format of the class included group critiques. Every poem Cathy brought to class, from her crown of pubic hair to her orgasms like the sea, was read aloud in these smaller groups. Some classmates had complained that Cathy’s poems made them uncomfortable and that when they’d tried to suggest she bring in material of a less sexual nature, she’d denounced them as prudes and misogynists seeking to stifle a woman’s voice. The professor also said that he would be more comfortable if Cathy concentrated on other subjects, as he didn’t care to read about his students’ sex lives, either. Amelia said that after leaving the class, Cathy went on a lengthy tirade about the professor being an asshole, a misogynist, and very likely a rapist. She would complain. She would get him fired for harassing her. She would make him pay.

None of us were surprised that she’d lied. At that point, we all just accepted that Cathy was a liar, but for some reason, we couldn’t walk away.

During this time, she invited me to a weekly slam poetry contest at a local coffee shop. I’d never heard of slam poetry, but I ended up enjoying myself a lot. We went every week, and sometimes we joined in with poems of our own or to volunteer to judge the friendly competition. One week, a poem I wrote about my continued frustration with George W. Bush won the competition and the twenty dollars in prize money. The poem, “Leader” wasn’t even that great:

You are not a leader.

A leader doesn’t leave us

twisting in the wind

no direction

without discretion

and against all advice

but that of your vice

your jones for power

as you sit in your tower

like the evil wizard in a fairytale

who is too power-greedy

to see his plans are doomed to fail.

I will not support

as the ribbons urge

but pray

for our troops

who’ve been duped

into believing they fight for me

poisoned with every MRE

while CNN, MSNBC and the BBC

are telling me

that it is not freedom

I’m not dumb

each life cashed in buys a drum of black gold

Texas tea

Please don’t tell me

that freedom isn’t free

You can keep your patriotism

my school zone is drug and bullshit-free.

 

See? Not great, but I was proud of myself. Cathy debuted a poem she wrote about how the birth of her son saved her from anorexia; I’ll include that in a later post, as it ties into the dynamic between Cathy and her son, and I found it inexplicably tucked away in an old journal. Cathy didn’t place that night and didn’t call me for several days.

The next week, Cathy arrived at poetry slam with a friend I’d never met before and announced that she wouldn’t be taking part in the slam. She had to study for her creative writing class. She never competed or engaged in the open mic again. Sam liked slam poetry, too, so he kept attending. One weekend, Cathy and her new friend, a professor from the college, wanted to go to a local brewery to see a band they liked. Cathy invited me, but I was fairly sure I was only asked because she needed a ride. Slam was held on Sunday nights, and Sam wanted to attend, so they asked me if I would leave slam early and give Cathy a ride. Why Sam couldn’t do this, I don’t know, but I was so conditioned at this point to believe I owed it to them to chauffeur her around that I reasoned that Sam rarely got time to socialize and it would be a nice gesture. But on Saturday night, Sam and Cathy came over to our house and we all had a bit too much to drink. The next day I was hung over, I didn’t want to go to the slam, and I certainly didn’t want to go to a loud bar. I didn’t want to completely bail on my friends and I couldn’t reach them by phone, so I went to the coffee shop and explained that I wasn’t feeling good and didn’t plan on seeing the band or staying for slam, after all. I asked if Sam could drive Cathy–I asked if Sam could drive his wife, the woman to whom he is married and who lives in the same house he does–to the bar, which was less than half a mile from the coffee shop where slam took place. Sam insisted that since I had agreed to drive her, I had an obligation to do so, despite not feeling well. They both lectured me on the importance of keeping promises and said that my friendship was very one-sided; all I ever did was take from them, giving them nothing in return. In a rage, Cathy called her friend and canceled the whole evening, despite the friend offering to pick her up from the coffee shop and drive her there. I had ruined everything. As Cathy and Sam left together (in the same car that could have easily delivered her to the bar in five minutes, round trip), he snapped, “Wine is awesome, right?”

To give context for that remark, I was, at the time, at the peak of my struggle with alcohol. I drank a six-pack of flavored malt liquor beverages a night, on top of several mixed drinks like Long Island Iced Tea or Jack and Coke. If we had friends over, which we frequently did, I drank even more because it was then “social drinking.” At a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week, I had tallied up the number of drinks I had in a single week; when the doctor had seen the total, she’d blanched and asked, “how would you describe your drinking?” I’d replied with a shrug and said, “Moderate?” She’d informed me that an average of eighty alcoholic beverages a week was not “moderate”. That Saturday night, I’d declared my intention to cut back on drinking and told Cathy and Sam this story and how much it had alarmed me, but they urged me to keep going. “We’re just hanging out, it’s okay to drink when it’s us.”

Despite enthusiastically encouraging me to drink two full bottles of wine, numerous shots of hard liquor, and my nightly foundation of six Smirnoff Ices, Sam now felt victimized by my drinking. Because I had ruined his wife’s weekend.

The next week at slam, I read a new poem:

I drink too much.

I know it.

But getting stinking,

puking

fall down-drunk-and-die

is not something I try

to justify.

I never blame my behavior

on liquor

make excuses for

or ignore

what I do under the influence

of my problem.

And it is a problem

not yours, all mine

as long as I fall in line

all the time

and you aren’t annoyed

or inconvenienced by

what I do when I give in

to the temptation

you reserve for parties and weekends.

You’ll still call me friend.

You’ll say nothing except,

“That’s just Jen!”

I’m supposed to be cute

and drunk and funny

dispensing more with each cup

more wit

more love

more money

more more more

so you can enjoy the person I am

as I destroy myself

But if I’m too hungover

to take something off your shoulders

laugh at your jokes

listen to your stories that get staler and older

too drunk the next morning

to be the care-free, spend-freely

laughing friend

you want me to be

you come down on me

to say “You have a problem,”

to disapprove

to judge

to lay a guilt trip so long

and so thick

I need to sit on my suitcase

to get all your condescension in.

But I should still call you friend.

So I fill up another glass

knowing I can stop

anytime I want

and knowing you’ll be there

with your moral superiority

when my problem is no longer convenient to you.

It was clumsy, it was horrible, but it was pointed. I maintained eye contact with Sam and Cathy throughout the reading, shaking with my anger. When I left the stage, all Sam said was, “Well, at least you recognize how your actions are affecting other people.”

He was still angry that I hadn’t driven Cathy to the bar.

Maybe it was rude of me to change the plans so abruptly, but she hadn’t needed to skip the band. Her friend had offered to drive her when plans changed. And again, her husband had a car. Why was I more responsible for her than he was?

We stopped going to poetry slams after that.

Cathy’s creative writing class continued to give her some sorely needed leverage over me in an area of shared interest. That was very much the way a friendship with Cathy operated. You had common interests, but she had to be better at them or more knowledgeable about them than you were. I brushed the writing off; I was a USA TODAY bestselling author making a very nice living. If she needed to tear me down to validate herself, I didn’t lose anything by letting her believe she was a better writing than I was. But our most intense one-sided rivalry was still theater.

After several failed attempts to become a local star, Cathy had given up on community theater. I wasn’t doing much, myself, but I did still love singing and began taking classical voice lessons for fun. One week, my lesson was on the same night as a planned meetup with our friend, Cristin, who lived right down the road from the studio. “Why don’t you just pick me up and I’ll wait and read a book during the lesson?” Cathy suggested. “That way you don’t have to run back and forth across town.” I agreed that this was a good idea, and she sat in the hall outside the practice room while I had my lesson. That night happened to be the one and only time I’ve ever hit my all-time highest note: a G6. I couldn’t believe I’d managed to support it for the very brief second I’d managed it, and when the lesson was over I rushed out, exhilarated.

“Did you hear that?” I asked, laughing. “I hit a G6!”

Cathy was sullen. She stood without a word, slung her purse over her shoulder, jammed her book into it and finally snapped, “Yes. I heard it. It sounded painful.”

She was angry because I’d hit a higher note than she could, one time.

But she still loved listening to musicals and singing along with them with me. We spent a lot of time trading CDs and discovering new shows. “You need to listen to this one,” she said, giving me a copy of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. “I identify with this one so much.”

If you’re unfamiliar with The Last Five Years, it’s a show about a couple meeting, falling in love, getting married, and getting divorced within five years. The couple is on a split timeline; the show opens with the woman, a failed actress, devastated about the divorce, while the man, a brilliant young writer, has just gotten his first agent and met the girl of his dreams. It’s based on Brown’s real-life marriage and divorce (to the point that his ex-wife threatened him with legal action), painting the male writer as the helpless victim of his wife’s unrealistic expectations. At the time, I thought it was a poignant and incredible work. Now, for reasons unrelated to Cathy herself, I find the entire thing trite and self-aggrandizing, but the point of telling you all of this is that when I listened to it, and when Cathy (who I’ve named here after the heroine of The Last Five Years) told me she identified so strongly with the male lead, I told my husband, “I bet within five years, Cathy and Sam get divorced.”

My estimate was off by four years and three months; Cathy and Sam never made it to their first anniversary as a married couple.

Next time: Part 6, or “The Red Squirrel”

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57 Comments

  1. Dove
    Dove

    Read it all, further confirming how awful and petty Cathy is, but it’s awesome learning where her name came from… And I’m glad you were able to show her up quite a bit, even though you weren’t trying to. (Also glad your doctor stepped in and tried to steer you towards a more manageable allotment of alcohol.) But I can’t begin to fathom how that anorexia mother-son relationship poem will pan out… or why the Red Squirrel sounds so ominous nor do I have any guess about what it relates to. All I can think of is that Patton Oswalt story about the biggest, fattest “squirrel” that landed in a children’s party after failing its tightrope walk… lol. That sounds fitting for Cathy, even if it’s utterly random and pure chaos.

    I hope these posts have been cathartic for you, Jenny. I know it’s terrible to live through such events but they’re entertaining to read.

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mydog'sPA
      Mydog'sPA

      I know it’s terrible to live through such events but they’re entertaining to read.

      I don’t see it as ‘entertainment’ as much as cathartic therapy for Jen as she writes this to clear her soul from this awful relationship. I read it to learn how to avoid these relationships to begin with. But I look at it from a very respectful 3rd party’s perspective because it takes a lot of guts to write this and I hope it helps Jen the way she needs it to. But I don’t see it as “entertainment” for funsies. Lessons learned, yes. Fun, no.

      My 2 cents.

      January 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Well, entertainment in the same sense as a trainwreck. :p

        January 15, 2018
        |Reply
      • Sssssssss
        Sssssssss

        I think that while it indeed may be cathartic for Jen, she’s also a writer who would like to entertain readers. Morbidly, in this case, but entertaining nonetheless.

        January 17, 2018
        |Reply
  2. Bee
    Bee

    I’m facepalming so much I’ve started reading these through my fingers.

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • Teresa
      Teresa

      I’m the same way! What a painful “friendship” to endure.

      January 17, 2018
      |Reply
  3. fluffy
    fluffy

    Wow. Each installment leaves me shocked in new ways! Their response to Cathy not getting a ride from you, when there were multiple other options, was just so unreasonable!!

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • Vix
      Vix

      I know – it’s 1/2 a mile. Walk!!! (Disclaimer: I have lived most of my adult life in Very Big Cities where walking 1/2 a mile – or more – is often the quickest way from point A to point B. I appreciate that there may have been a freeway or something in between, but if not, my original point stands.)

      January 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Exactly. If you’re able bodied, a walk that short would be quicker than driving in heavy traffic.

        January 16, 2018
        |Reply
        • Saint_Sithney
          Saint_Sithney

          Even if you’re not able-bodied, depending on the nature of your disability. I have paroxysmal exertion-induced dyskinesia. I can not raise my heart rate more than about 20 beats off base resting rate without risking a dystonic attack. Yet even with that, I could manage 1/2 a mile if I paced myself.

          Hell, I’ve seen my 76-year-old, Agent Orange afflicted, former fullback father (emphysema, afib, torn joints, and arthritis) enjoy a walk of 1/2 a mile, so long as we were walking slowly and taking breaks.

          While it’s out of reach for some disabilities, of any physical ailments suggested by Cathy, none of them should prevent her from a stroll.

          January 16, 2018
          |Reply
      • MayaB
        MayaB

        Thank you! I was thinking the same. Why does she want to take the car if it’s about 800 meters (European here)?! The whole discussion about who is going to go with the car + her conversation with her friend to cancel the whole thing must’ve take longer than the walk there…

        January 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          I’ve known people like this. The point isn’t what’s the most logical way to get from point A to point B, it’s that Jen was not catering to Cathy’s wants. It could have been next door, but all Cathy sees is Jen not doing as she’s told. So, she cancels the entire evening to make Jen the villain, ruining everyone else’s night. And then Sam helps her turn the knife by referencing Jen’s alcohol consumption, making it even more her fault because her not feeling well is her own doing. Which in turn makes Jen feel guilty and selfish. It turns into this vicious cycle of not wanting to be around this person, but feeling guilty for that and worrying you are just as horrible as they seem to think you are.

          January 20, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Yeah, it’s emotional manipulation and gaslighting. I’m just glad Jenny had enough previous experience that she was able to see their BS for what it was, but I’m sure it still stung, especially since she thought Sam was the more reasonable one of that nasty duo. 🙁

            January 20, 2018
  4. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Just for general info: college writing programs, like college theatre programs, are mostly for those who wish to TEACH. There are exceptions in the writing world, just as Meryl Streep and Signourney Weaver majored in theatre and went on to work as performers, but most with non-academic career goals don’t pursue a degree. NYC actors might take ballet at Steps, scene study and singing at HB Studio, jazz at Broadway Dance, etc., the flexibility allowing for auditions, rehearsals, and the inevitable crappy day job.

    Aspiring writers, at least in NY, might try to get an Editorial Serf position at a romance imprint like Avon or Berkeley, if romance is what they want to write, SciFi at Tor, etc., only partly for the contacts–what you really want is to know what the editors are looking for, and what characteristics doom a manusript to go directly into the circular file (or these days, into “delete-empty trash”). You might major in English or Journalism, but not usually the MFA. Hitting Slams or just forming your own reading/writing circle are also ways to learn by doing, just like Children’s Theatre in church basements is for performers.

    In other words, unless Cathy wants to teach writing herself (and heaven help any young minds she decides to “guide”), her Associate’s Degree ain’t wuth sheeeit.

    I understand: she just wanted the FAFSAs. Although how she could spend that long in an English Dept. and NOT know about Woolf and the Bloomsbury group, boggles the mind.

    BTW, one of many tiresome day jobs I had involved scanning info for Student Loans. They will pursue you into the GRAVE.

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      That’s one of the reasons why I’m bitter about colleges during peak recruitment phases (you know, when they send out professors or PhD students to visit high schools and try to convince the youngsters there to enrol for a certain degree or course). They NEVER actually explain to students how certain courses were structured and why (like how a course is more geared towards training people to become college researchers/teachers of a specific subject, rather than a person who could apply it outside said college).

      I one time got to hear how my old high school had brought in a guy just so he could explain why students should consider studying Greek Mythology (this was in the middle of the recession, and a lot of parents got p*ssed off about the college trying to lie to kids that it’s a good career option to be an ‘expert’ in mythology). Like, I love history and all–but I look back and even realise that in my senior year, my high school was more obsessed about getting enough kids into ANY university than helping any of us feel informed about what to expect with certain kinds of degrees/career choices. I think a LOT of drama students from my class were pushed into theater degrees because they were told that it was the ‘right’ way to get into acting by our teachers and recruiters, and I did hear our drama teacher making a lot of comparisons of ‘starving artists in London’ vs. ‘people with actual degrees’.

      Granted, I was an overseas kid living in England so it’s probably different over here than in the US. But we were in the first year of the recession then, and we all realised that working in entertainment pays so little that a lot of people getting into respected theater productions in London were mostly well-off kids who could afford YEARS of unpaid work (and multiple acting/singing classes from cream-of-the-crop tutors). I’m pretty sure that my drama teacher was either fibbing, or she was just out-of-touch on the way certain industries were changing.

      January 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        She was quite possibly both. Knew a guy who majored in theatre tech, and when he got his first professional job, he discovered that the lightboard used at his college was at least 20 years out of date. He had to learn everything from scratch.

        January 16, 2018
        |Reply
      • Heatherbell
        Heatherbell

        THIS.

        So much this.

        January 16, 2018
        |Reply
  5. Kathryn
    Kathryn

    I cringed when you talked about how Cathy said that the professor will never know that Virginia Woolf was British. Just… ugh, so many times I’ve had students try to pull something like that. We know. It’s obvious.

    Also, when The Last 5 Years came out, I was absolutely in love with it, and thought it was just magical and so relatable, and how dare Cathy tie Jamie down. And now, so many years later, while I still love the music, I just want to punch him in the face. He is just the worst.

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • Elyssa
      Elyssa

      I was the total opposite! I thought that Jamie was the living worst and how could he have done this to Cathy because she never did anything wrong!

      Upon aging, Jamie IS still the worst, but Cathy wasn’t great either. (Still going to maintain he was the Most Worst. lol)

      January 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Kathryn
        Kathryn

        100% agree that neither are really good romantic partners (and they’re so young! I’m about 10 years older than them at the beginning of their relationship and they’re just… so young). I really wanted Cathy to get some self-esteem and make a life for herself that wasn’t dependent on her identity as Jamie’s Wife.

        My roommates and I used to have Long, Deep, Philosophical Conversations about this musical in college. Much deep.

        Also, why couldn’t they just communicate better? Just be honest about their needs in the relationship. Sigh.

        January 15, 2018
        |Reply
      • Jo
        Jo

        I haaaaate original recipe Jaime and ended up sympathizing with Jordan’s version a lot more. Norbert Leo Butz always sounds very OLD (Good! But old), so despite the character canonically being 28 at most he comes off as more of a creep to me. And man, Sherie Renee can be great but her voice is SHRILL, and she ALSO sounds older than she is, so to be the original cast recording (which I actually love!) sounds less to me like a pair of inexperienced 20 somethings fucking up a relationship and more like a couple of 30somethings who never figured out communication.

        I think seeing them physically together in the movie changes the context a LOT, too, and ends up making Jaime look more personable and Cathy more insecure. Like, Schmuel is more endearing and less condescending, I Can Do Better reads as less hopeful and more desperate to me, I actually kind of believe Jaime in Nobody Needs to Know rather than dismissing his angst as a way of getting girls into bed, etc. I think it’s because the individual songs read as less of that character’s telling you, the audience, what they think will make them sympathetic to you, and more of an objective version of events.

        I’ve seen both and for my money, I think the filmed version might actually be better? FOR ME, though, it really comes down to stylistic preference, the choice to film both characters in almost every song rather than one person standing alone on a stage and singing to an empty patch of air is significant. Both can work incredibly well.

        January 16, 2018
        |Reply
    • Vix
      Vix

      I haven’t seen The Last Five Years (and the netflix remote is across the room and I’m under the comfy blanket). Is it worth a hate-watch, or should I just stay snuggled up?

      January 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Elyssa
        Elyssa

        I really, genuinely think it is. I LOVE the music (and both Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan have absolutely stellar voices), and I love the way the story is told – it’s a unique way of braiding the narrative together, and it’s interesting to watch. Plus, it’s a good story – watching the relationship from beginning to end from each perspective (especially seeing how each view themselves as the one 100 percent in the right) is really interesting.

        Is it the Greatest Musical of All Time? Nope.

        Is it pretty fun (I mean, it gets serious, but for the most part, it’s an entertaining watch) to watch? Absolutely.

        At the very least, Jason Robert Brown can write a killer melody, so you’ll get some new fun songs stuck in your head.

        January 15, 2018
        |Reply
    • Vix
      Vix

      Awesome – thanks!

      January 15, 2018
      |Reply
  6. Vix
    Vix

    I also want to say that hitting G6 is awesome even just the once. I’m even more impressed by you now that I was before reading this installment, and I already think you’re incredibly talented.

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      You would not be as impressed if you had actually heard the G6. I mean, she was right, it *did* sound painful. But like, she could have been more supportive. At least not angry. I don’t get being angry because of something like that.

      January 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Vix
        Vix

        I get that – I sing in a choir and parts of the rehearsals are kids only. Another alto and I have children in the choir, so we do our best to sing along with the soprano part during those rehearsals since we have to be there anyway. Once we go above E5, it’s not as beautiful as we might like from either of us but both of us are psyched if the other one manages to go higher or sound a little better in that part of our range than we normally do – because we are actually friends!

        (And G6 is still very cool!)

        January 15, 2018
        |Reply
        • Elyssa
          Elyssa

          I’m jealous you can even get ABOVE an E5. That’s it. That’s literally as high as I can go. lol

          January 15, 2018
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          • Vix
            Vix

            I can’t always! 🙂 Voice lessons and my pretend soprano rehearsals have helped a lot, but once we start the rehearsal proper (it’s kids only to give them a chance to learn their part for the first 1/2 hour and then full rehearsal for the next 45 mins) and I start working the lower part of my voice, I have to start really deliberately thinking of placement if I want to go higher than D5.

            And then there are, of course, those days when my voice just goes “nope.”

            January 16, 2018
  7. Robert
    Robert

    So… whatever came of Cathy’s attempt to “ruin” her professor? Did she actually try to do something to him? Or did that just turn out to be an empty threat?

    January 15, 2018
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    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      As a current professor, I, too, would like to know this. My stomach is roiling just contemplating it.

      Also, dear students, DON’T DO THIS. WE DON’T WANT TO KNOW, and that goes for medical symptoms as well as sex life. Ugh.

      January 16, 2018
      |Reply
  8. Caitlin Nolan
    Caitlin Nolan

    I remember you posting about some of Cathy’s greatest hits back in LiveJournal days. She struck me as awful then, but some of what you’ve shared here is just next-level. The tampon story, WTF.

    January 15, 2018
    |Reply
  9. Mike
    Mike

    “Maybe it was rude of me to change the plans so abruptly”

    No. No it wasn’t.

    You were not rude for considering your own well being and weighing it against an incredibly mild inconvenience toward others. It is not your fault, and thus not rude, that when you knew you weren’t going to be able to do it, you also were unable to get in touch with them via phone. You were not rude for dragging yourself out despite feeling terrible just so they would know as soon as possible that you would be very mildly inconveniencing them to take care of your physical well being.

    January 16, 2018
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, Jenny, you went to the effort of going to see them when you felt like crap, instead of just letting them sit and spin, waiting for you to never show up at the appointed time, and then finally telling them when they called to find out what was going on! THAT would’ve been rude and worthy of the reaction given, especially if the delayed information would’ve made Cathy late no matter what choice she went with. But you told them way ahead of time and her other friend even offered a ride.

      But instead, Cathy decided to be passive-aggressive and cancel. Feh, maybe she had already changed her mind, she might’ve been hungover as well, so she used you as an excuse. If not, she enjoyed being petty more than she enjoyed going to the event. And Sam decided to get on board because she made his life miserable and he wanted someone to take it out on, which is terrible albeit understandable (mean people vent by finding victims.) Even so, he was the one who married Cathy… he could’ve also demanded that she get a job, to relieve some of his stress, and left if she refused. Pretty good reason to call the marriage off or get a divorce IMHO, although I’m sure he wasn’t much of a catch either since he fell in-line with her so easily. If he wasn’t inherently a jerk himself, then he needed some serious therapy.

      Maybe what you did was a let-down, but you handled yourself pretty well, given the circumstances, and there were other options. They not only over-reacted but Cathy was trying to punish you by blaming it all on you, even though it didn’t matter if you were the one. Plus, they were bastards for coaxing you into drinking so much in the first place. They clearly didn’t give a damn about your health.

      January 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • unamadridista
      unamadridista

      I second that. Nothing rude about cancelling plans, if you let people involved know as soon as possible, which Jenny did. Sam and Cathy were completely unfair and over the top about the whole thing and sounds like they were looking for an excuse to lash out at Jenny.

      January 17, 2018
      |Reply
  10. Kim
    Kim

    Maybe he’s just sponging up her selfishness, but Sam sounds like a real piece of work too!

    January 16, 2018
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    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Well, they did find each other and got married. A lot of times folks don’t understand their subconscious (the real on, not Erica Leonard’s version) plays a big role in determining who we’ll have a relationship with. It’s like the abused child who grows up and finds someone to abuse them because their subconscious is familiar with the behavior and finds it “comfortable” instead of running away. It takes a lot of effort to be able to tell your own subconscious to f**k off and find a person who’s actually good for you instead of the loser who’ll abuse you or take advantage of you.

      So yeah, Sam and Cathy found each other, no surprise.

      January 16, 2018
      |Reply
  11. Anon
    Anon

    Why didn’t she just walk the half-mile to the bar? That’s, literally a 7-minute walk. Seven. Minutes.

    January 16, 2018
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    • AltoFronto
      AltoFronto

      Heck, when you put it like that, that’s how far I have to walk across site at work just to get from the main office to the staff break room. 😛

      January 17, 2018
      |Reply
  12. Evelyn
    Evelyn

    Wow, a G6! (I had to look up how far up the stave that is)
    I hit a D6 once … and I honestly think if I ever tried it again my larynx would shatter!!

    January 16, 2018
    |Reply
  13. Cat
    Cat

    I have a degree in English but never realized I was a more competent reader than one without.

    I found Cathy’s strange obsession with having her professor want her sexually fairly disturbing. There is a lot behind the psychology of one who overly sexualizes oneself and from what I’ve read here, Cathy fits a lot of it (insecurity, pathological need to be desired, warped concept of body and sex as identifiers etc). But rather than feeling sorry for her as I often do for such individuals, her scheme to have an affair and reaction to being not just rebuffed but essentially called out on her obvious behavior and told she was making multiple people uncomfortable is just gross and cruel.

    What an awful, awful person.

    January 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mary
      Mary

      And when her awful scheme doesn’t work she openly fantasizes about ruining his career. Like wtf.

      January 17, 2018
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      • Cat
        Cat

        A little bunny in the boiling pot for my taste.

        January 18, 2018
        |Reply
  14. Mary
    Mary

    I think you’re being entirely too easy on Sam. Throughout this whole thing you’ve been giving him the benefit out the doubt, but he’s an asshole! Cathy is arrogant, entitled, and awful. But what Sam said to you about your drinking was fucking low. And he said that just to get back at you for not giving his wife a ride? I am not seeing him as a passive victim of Cathy at all. He’s right there with her being an asshole. Obviously I don’t know how this all pans out, so maybe there’s a reason you’re gentler with Sam. But right now I hate him and I barely know him compared to Cathy.

    January 17, 2018
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    • unamadridista
      unamadridista

      I’m glad someone finally called Sam out for his enabling. I don’t know how any man can stand by and tolerate his girlfriend/fiancée’s, then wife’s deplorable behavior and not call her out on it, at least in private. When their apartment had to be cleaned by all their friends, he was okay living in that kind of squalor? I find it strange that he never once questioned why she wasn’t contributing to the household by at least tidying up the place, while he was working multiple jobs. He was unreasonably mad at Jenny over a small change in plans, but never at Cathy who gave him plenty of cause with her laziness and selfishness — what a bizarre man.

      January 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cat
        Cat

        Not just his enabling. In this entry, he acts like it was Jenny’s responsibility to drive his wife half a mile from the coffee shop, where he himself was. Previously, he actually suggested that Jenny chip in for her own birthday cake. I’m assuming he’s done other things like that, which just haven’t mentioned.

        January 17, 2018
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        • EmmaG
          EmmaG

          Yeah, it seems to me like Sam and Cathy brought out the worst in each other. It reads like Cathy is being blamed for changing Sam, but reading this account, it seems like they were two dysfunctional asshole people holding each other hostage to a very toxic mindset. If anything, Sam reads as even more aggressively demanding and abusive.

          I’ve met plenty of dysfunctional people, who thrived on bringing other people down, and making them reliant on a very twisted form of emotional support. I’ve seen friends emotionally destroy each other that way. And I suppose there’s a chace the story ends with Sam snapping out of it all once he’s not in a co-dependent relationship with Cathy anymore. But honestly, I would probably want to avoid him regardless.

          January 18, 2018
          |Reply
      • Cat
        Cat

        You are forgetting that Cathy is a genius, higher IQ than Hawking, and her body needs almost complete rest. That is why she couldn’t contribute to the household.

        This is in no way a white knighting for Sam BUT! Cathy had a umber of people fooled, including our brilliantly analytical bullshit detector Ms. Trout. As Chaucer once asked, if gold rust, what shall iron do?

        January 18, 2018
        |Reply
      • Mary
        Mary

        Oh yeah! That was so gross. And it was Sam who guilted Jen about the vomit stain, or whatever it was? Like how had they not cleaned that yet. Ok, if you’re working multiple jobs then fine. Why not put that task on your wife who is apparently just sitting home most of the time!? But no. He’s just all too eager to shame and guilt everyone else though.

        January 18, 2018
        |Reply
        • Cat
          Cat

          I don’t recall the vomit stain but I do remember he felt Jenny owed it to them to clean up the sink that looked horrible from when they’d gotten for Halloween I think. Like, they were leaving that mess for her to clean because she caused it so she was obligated to. Yet Cathy thought it was perfectly acceptable to make her used tampon someone else’s responsibility.

          Sam is totally an enabler but he’s also a creep in his own right. I do wonder if he didn’t “mind” working as much as he did because it gave him an excuse to not be around his beloved too much.

          January 18, 2018
          |Reply
          • Sigyn Wisch
            Sigyn Wisch

            I think it was makeup?

            March 7, 2018
  15. Jordan
    Jordan

    JENNY I LOVE YOUR GWB POEM!!! I haven’t finished reading the post but I had to jump down to the comments to let you know that. XD

    January 19, 2018
    |Reply
  16. Anon123
    Anon123

    I actually really like the second poem, fwiw. It’s honest and unpretentious.

    Anyway, thanks for writing… I just got caught up on this story all at once today (after seeing your first couple posts on Cathy a good long while ago). Cathy reminds me of my mom so much it’s spooky, and there’s something compelling about reading other people’s stories of similar experiences on this. Maybe that’s just trauma-bonding talking; idk.

    One way or another, today, this helped distract me from raging anxiety, and the ridiculousness gave me a few solid laughs to boot. 🙂 Simultaneously, I look forward to hearing more and I dread learning about other ways Cathy wrecked people’s lives, including yours… That sounds like a twisted emotional combination, but there it is, I guess.

    January 22, 2018
    |Reply
  17. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    Oh god she was sexually harassing the whole class, and threw a tantrum when asked to stop… That’s something I would have done, like, as a teenager. Not as an adult in an academic environment.

    “They both lectured me on the importance of keeping promises and said that my friendship was very one-sided; all I ever did was take from them, giving them nothing in return.”
    ^ someone’s projecting

    I like your second poem, the one about how they want you to be a funny drunk but it’s inconvenient when you’re hungover. I had a friend who feels that way about me too.

    Oh wow, I knew they’d get divorced quickly but that’s REALLY quickly.

    March 6, 2018
    |Reply
  18. I am genuinely wondering why Mr Jen or others did not ask you to stop bringing Cathy into your home and or life?

    March 11, 2018
    |Reply

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