Stream of Consciousness of a Woman While Jeans Shopping

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I am a 26 year old woman. The following is a complete account of my thought process before, during and after I recently purchased two pairs of jeans.

At home

Shit. I really need new jeans. Ok, yes, I have a drawer full of them already. But what’s even in here? A pair of H&M low risers I bought a couple years ago that don’t fit anymore – they say they’re a size 28 but that’s a damn lie if I’ve ever heard one. Two pairs of momjeans that I made the mistake of getting tailored BEFORE Thanksgiving last year. Needless to say my butt has swollen a little since then. They still look good, don’t get me wrong, but it wouldn’t exactly be work appropriate to wear something with this much of a risk for camel toe. Another pair of H&M jeans, with the back pockets I studded in 2012 before I lost those ten pounds, stopped wearing them, and then gained the ten pounds back. I used to wear these when I worked in the dairy section of Whole Foods. They actually don’t look so bad, except that some of the studs have fallen off. I’ve been saying I’ll remove them for months now, but instead I just wear them to work with long shirts and sweaters. Why am I so lazy? I don’t even like studs anymore.

What else? The mid-rise jeans I got from the gap – now, these are a true size 28. I say that because they actually fit. Just the right amount of stretch, too. But I wear them almost every day, and they’re not exactly sexy, just average. So I only wear them to work. And every time I wash them, the little pre-distressed hole in the leg gets bigger and bigger. Soon I won’t be able to wear them anywhere.

Ok, these pants are yellow so they don’t count. And these…sigh. My American Apparel easy jeans. With the waist right up to the belly button, super stretchy…they make my butt look great. But they’re so flimsy. The fabric has worn thin and faded substantially. There’s little knick marks from where the cats have pawed at my legs. And then, oh no… There are all these little holes near the crotch where my inner thighs have rubbed together.  How have I never noticed these before? Ok, I really have to throw these away. I mean, they were 70 dollars, 70 dollars for essentially jeggings, but I’ve probably worn them a good 300 times in the last two years. Shit, maybe more. Regardless, should a pair of jeans really fall apart like that? That’s never happened to me before. Have my thighs really gotten that big, or are the pants just cheaply made? I mean, just because American Apparel is sweatshop free doesn’t mean it’s worth the money. Too bad they’re the only store I know of that actually makes jeans for my buttshape. Large and in charge. With a high enough waist that my legs don’t look too short, which they are. Ugh, I really don’t want to go jeans shopping.

At work

I wonder if people can notice that I wore these jeans yesterday. It was probably a mistake to throw out the American Apparel ones. Okay, no it wasn’t. I have a full time job. I don’t make a lot by any means, but I certainly make enough to not wear clothes with holes in them. I need to get it together. I got paid today. I’ll just look online and get a sense of my options. Okay, what’s a nice, affordable place for a girl my age to shop? Besides American Apparel. Zara? Ugh I hate Zara. Zara is the place ex-sorority girls shop when they want to look like hipsters. Where’s the place ex-party girls shop when they decide to become young professionals? Cause that’s what I need. Fine, I’ll look at Zara.

Wow! These jeans are surprisingly affordable. Stretchy looking, high-waisted. And for only 40 dollars? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh. Ok, I like these; and these…but I shouldn’t buy them online. I can almost guarantee they’re gonna be sized weird. I wish they said what size the models were wearing. I could just upsize by three, okay four, and that would probably be my size. Who am I kidding, I’ve played this game before and lost every time. I’ll just go to the store this weekend.

Shopping

Ugh, my boyfriend is late to meet me at lunch, which never happens because I’m always the late one. Can’t reach him, must be a problem with the trains. This could take a while. Hmm…how close is Zara? Oh, there’s one only six blocks down Fifth Avenue! I’ll just tell him to meet me there. This way I’ll know I have a deadline and I can’t spend forever trying on  a bunch of crap. Gotta be decisive.

Damn, it’s windy today. Should have worn a scarf. Why is it taking so long to walk only six blocks? Damn tourists. Wait, is that an American Apparel? Yep. God, they’re everywhere. I am really cold. Fuck it, I’ll just go here.

No. No. No. Too expensive, too light of a wash, too similar to something I already have. Oh snap, a sale section? Let me check this shit out. 30% off? Seems like a pretty good deal. Let’s see if they have anything my size. If I remember correctly, the last time I tried on a size 28 at American Apparel I couldn’t even get them above my hips. Let’s try and avoid that trauma. Okay, dark wash jeans. 30% off. Size 29, this looks promising. They’re 90 dollars before the discount so they’ll be within my price range. That is, if they even fit.

Fitting room

Ok, moment of truth. No matter what happens, I’m not gonna hate myself. It’s not me, it’s the store. They run small. The sizing is wrong, and that’s why they’re on sale. Yeah, I can always go with that if I need to. Oh my god, they’re going over my hips! I was not expecting this! The fabric isn’t even stretchy! Ok let’s see if I can button them. I’ll suck in a bit and – nice! A little tight, a little mom-jeanish, but definitely fashionable enough to wear to work and casual occasions. Plus, when I start working out, they’ll fit perfectly. I hope these aren’t cheaply made, cause they’re final sale, and it wouldn’t be the first time my butt burst a seam. Dear god, that was mortifying. Please don’t let that happen to me again.

The party

Jesus fucking Christ I am an idiot. Why on earth did I wear my most painful heels when I CAN’T SIT DOWN IN THESE NEW JEANS? That was not a smart move. Oh look, tiny sandwiches. I wonder how many of those I can suck down before my super-high waistband snaps in half, sending the button flying through the air and into someone’s eye? I’m not even going to risk it. I don’t have insurance for that shit. Now I see why women were so skinny in the corset-wearing age. What age was that again? Maybe I should get a waist trainer. They make cute ones, I’ve seen them on Instagram. But are you supposed to wear them all day or just when you work out? Fuck it, it sounds terrible either way.

Ok, I have to leave this party, get out of these shoes, and put on sweatpants immediately.

At work

God I feel amazing today. Good thing I wore these leggings. Or I guess they are technically jeggings because they look like pants but are secretly way more awesome. You know, I really hate the word “jeggings.” Whatever happened to the term “stretch pants?” I used that word all the time in the nineties. I fuckin’ crushed stretch pants. These stretch pants I have on right now are particularly awesome because they have back pockets and a FAKE BUTTON in the front that does absolutely nothing except trick people. Plus, they’re gingham. Super cute, and work appropriate.

I honestly can’t believe it’s ok for me to wear something so comfortable. Jesus, that’s like, some internalized sexism right there. I doubt any man has ever said, “wow it’s crazy that I’m even allowed to wear this item of clothing because it doesn’t hurt, or leave a mark, or constrict my body parts or bunch up into my asscrack at ALL.” Not to mention that feeling of true SHOCK we women feel when our pants have pockets that are actually functional. A REAL woman should be physically encumbered at all times. Lol, kill me. I wish I owned cargo pants.

Hmm, if I remember correctly, Uniqlo had these STRETCH PANTS in several other sizes and colors. Perhaps a dark denim? Sounds good to me. I’d be perfectly happy never wearing a pair of real jeans again for the rest of my life. Real jeans don’t allow for the number of times my butt changes size in a given year. More importantly, real jeans don’t feel like pajamas and leave me with a pleasant surprise every time I finish peeing and realize I don’t have to zip or button anything. Real jeans are not for the busy modern woman. This is what I’ll tell myself.

In fact, I’m gonna walk to Uniqlo right frickin’ now and buy some more fake jeans.

Shopping

Okay, I don’t have much time. Break is only supposed to last an hour and I just had to walk three whole blocks down Broadway. Fucking tourists, I swear to god. Still, it’ll be good to be hurried, that way I won’t have time to talk myself out of buying more pants I really didn’t budget for.

So where are the stretch pants? This store has really rearranged a lot since the last time I was here. I bet these sales associates work their asses off. Fuckin’ retail, man. God this place is huge. I’ll probably work off a pants size trying to find a pair. Ooh, look at this fuzzy sweater! God damn it, Kat, FOCUS.

Okay! Found the motherlode. These are the exact pants I was looking for. But oh, what about these?! Actual jeans, stretchy, super dark wash, mid-rise, and $39.99? OK, I’m trying these on, too. I know I said I only wanted to wear leggings but I think these might actually make me look like I spent some money on my appearance. At 26, you have to actually fake it ’til you make it. How am I doing on time…? Oof, not so good. To the fitting room!

Fitting room

I promise no matter what happens I will not beat myself up about the shape of my thighs. Or my ass. Or the place in between I used to call my “second butt” but I realize now is just called “saddlebags.” If neither of these pairs fit, I will not stomp out of this fitting room and walk directly into the Broadway traffic, screaming. Conversely, I will also not resign myself to becoming obese and immediately pick up a burger with a side of mac n cheese and proceed to eat my feelings. Well, I might do that, but I promise to not do it because of this.

Alright, alright, the stretch pants are a good look. I think I can get away with these, maybe, after a few squats. They just make my butt look so HUGE. I’ve really got to stop tying my self worth to the shapeliness of my rear end. Really. Like, by the end of the year. This is unacceptable and it WILL NOT STAND. Ok, next pair.

I…I just…Wow. Just, wow. These are amazing. I look great. I look responsible. I look like a person who has a full-time job and used the money from that job to buy smart jeans that young professionals buy. Wait, let me cuff the bottom. YES now we’re talking. All of my wardrobe problems are solved. It’ll be so easy to get ready in the morning with these as my go-to. People will probably even respect me more! They look so much more expensive than they actually are. This is fabulous. I’m buying these right away. Wow, what a find. Go me!

At home

I literally. Have nothing. To wear.

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY: My Seventh Grade Dressing Room

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Wow. Happy Friday – this was probably the longest most stressful week of 2015 so far, being that it was the only one that didn’t include a major holiday.

Today, we flashback to the year 2002. In seventh grade I was obsessed with teen magazines. YM, Cosmogirl, Teen Beat, Teen Vogue, j14, Seventeen…sometimes even the real Cosmopolitan which I would thumb through, wide-eyed, not understanding a single word.

“What’s a cli-TOR-is? I want one!”

Americans had a much different view of celebrity culture in the pre-social media days. While little girls still worship the stars of Pretty Little Liars or whatever show teens are watching the same way we idolized Hilary Duff back then (yes there was a time she was VERY MUCH relevant and we all cared about her – don’t deny it), I can’t help but feel like celebs have been humanized by the vehicles they now have to communicate with fans. Instagram, Twitter…it used to be that the only way we could learn about our favs was through printed and bound magazine articles that made them seem so disconnected from our normal tween boring-ass lives.

One form of listicle I remembered seeing often was the WHAT “SO-AND-SO” HAS IN HER DRESSING ROOM! variety.  Looking back this was nothing more than a very effective way of slapping a celebrity name on some random products to endorse them to impressionable kids. I still run into these crocks of shit all the time as an adult. “REESE WITHERSPOON SWEARS BY KIEHL’S!!” I mean, I’m a smart, grown, educated girl but if a celebrity told me she dodged highway traffic as her preferred form of exercise I’d probably consider it for at least a second. We’re all pretty much brainwashed, and have been our whole lives.

Since I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’ve always kept a journal. Since I’ve also always wanted to be a celebrity, some of the things I wrote in my journal looked like this entry from May 11, 2002, written in green gel pen.

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“~What I Would have~in My DRESSING~ROOm!~

-1 case of DASANI water bottles (filled)
-1 case of Lipsmaker sponge on sparkler all flavors
– 3 things of hunny
-flinstons vitamens
-computer w/ AIM
-zyrtec
-Acuvue color contacs
-Secret sheer dry
-Baby oil & powder
-tanning oil
-Dentine Ice gum
-Qutips
-oil absorbant pads
-clean & clear foam face wash
-fruit, hehe
-pringles”

And another consumer was born. At first reading this I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my little 12-year-old self. She’d been duped by magazine ads and bullshit articles. She thought the right skincare products are what make you a woman and she wanted to be famous so she could have as many Pringles and as much lip gloss as she could ever want. It all made me so sad.

But then I remembered how good Pringles are – so I put on some lip gloss, and I went out to buy some.

Cheap Thrills

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This coming Saturday is my half birthday. Six months from that day I will turn 25, and though I see the flaws in weighing the value of my life in relationship to my age (“nothin but a number” and whatnot), I still allow my choices to be influenced by a timeline, however vague. Like, such as, my decision to not be poor anymore, leave thankless production grunt work behind, and take a full time job in the Hair and Beauty Industry. Along with that new job comes a higher budget, and higher standards for standards of living. On March 1 I put in my 30 days notice at The Chokey (my current place) and IF ALL GOES WELL I will find a studio in my area (that is, MY VERY OWN APARTMENT to share with Kos & Gon, of course) for the low low price of a lot of my money per month. A risk, I know, but one I am willing to take because I’m tired and I need my space, and in the words of Soo-Jin on Girls a couple episodes ago, “We’re old ladies. It’s gross.”

So far the search has been something of an emotional roller coaster. Starting last weekend I spent every minute of my free time (with the exception of some events you’ll hear about in a minute) scouring craigslist and various realty websites for the perfect property. And then…I found it. A studio in Ridgewood smack on the nose of my budget, totally renovated with a swaggy kitchen and brand new appliances, not too far from the trains or my current neighborhood on a quiet residential street. I was beyond excited. I could already see it: cute little dinner parties with my friends sitting on bar stools eating corn on the cob or some shit, Kos n Gonny basking in the sunlight from my gigantic bay windows, having enough space to put the litterbox more than 6 inches from where I sleep at night…It honestly seemed too good to be true. I spent the week frantically trying to get in touch with listing agents and brokers from the realty company so I could set an appointment to view the place, and even walked to the realty offices in Bed-Stuy in 25 degree weather one night after work to preemptively fill out an application, put down a (thankfully refundable) deposit, and take the studio off the market. On the Friday before my viewing I was on the verge of snapping Office Space style on the printer/scanner at work as I tried to copy and email the closing agent all my past rent check receipts, pay stubs, letters of employment and guarantor information. I wasn’t about to let this apartment slip between my fingers. If you’ve ever looked for a place to live in the New York area, you know how stressful the process can be. I’m not flat out admitting that I’ve even considered going all FoFiles Arsenic Style on lease holders in my area and then fully exercising my squatters rights…but I’m not denying it either.

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Then Saturday happened. It was the day I’d been waiting for. I had an appointment to visit the apartment at 1 that afternoon, so Hannah and Winston met me at my place at 12:40 to make the 20 minute walk up to Ridgewood and seal the deal. It was a beautiful day, 50 degrees and sunny, the first of its kind this season. And I had a spring in my step. As we walked up Bleecker Street and crossed from Brooklyn to Queens, the Bushwick noise just fell away. Suddenly I was in a quaint tree-lined neighborhood and my head was in the clouds. I could swear I heard birds chirping, “Welcome Kathryn! Welcome to your home!”

When the landlords, a nice couple and their two adorable youngsters, opened the front door to the building, I was like “This couldn’t possibly be more charming.” Then I saw the room. It was just like the pictures. Better, even. Everything was brand spanken new and clean. I’m pretty sure the tub was audibly beckoning me to sit in it, or maybe I was having auditory hallucinations brought on by overwhelming idealism. The nice man even said, “We’ll be painting before you move in so choose any color you like.” Say whaaat? Why do I have so many choices? Why doesn’t this feel seedy and dirty and rip-offy like every other time I’ve ever looked at an apartment in my life? Is this a trick?

That’s when I remembered I had one question left to ask.

“Oh yeah, I meant to mention, I have a cat.” (I didn’t say two cats because they are basically the same and I didn’t want to make this more difficult for myself).

Suddenly my ears were brought back to reality. The couple spoke my fate in unison.

“Oh no. No pets allowed. No exceptions.”

W-wha? My heart sank like the Tower of Terror ride at Disney World. No exceptions? What if I pay extra? What if I give you my first born?

Apparently the woman is deathly allergic, and though I had a hard time understanding her broken English, I could make out the word “hospital” in her explanation of dander-related symptoms. I was actually holding back tears. And then I got sassy.

“Well it didn’t say that on the website orrr I wouldn’t have come all the way out here [anxious laughter] [eye-roll].” I pursed my lips as my broker apologized, and hung my head all the way down Wyckoff to the taco factory to eat my feelings and guzzle a Mexican Coke or two. It helped.
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The worst part was breaking the news to all my friends to whom I’d prematurely bragged about my future digs. I should have known better.
IMG_6448So I’m back on the prowl. I have a showing of my second choice today at 6:30, which would still be pretty great. But I’m not getting my hopes up. We Virgos tend to lose our shit when things don’t go as planned (but my dreamy Pisces moon gets me in trouble every time…sigh).

The last few weeks haven’t been all work and no play. For instance, I found out how good the show Scandal is and promptly watched the whole first season on Netflix. I think subconsciously, or maybe consciously, I was looking for something to pick up where House of Cards left off, so I chose another drama about wack-ass politicians and the mistresses and journalists they victimize (and vice versa). If you’re late like me, the basic premise is Olivia Pope (played by the hypnotizing Kerry Washington) leads a group of renegade attorneys in solving/handling/covering up the District’s most salacious political scandals, blah blah blah, drama ensues. I wouldn’t go in expecting the sophisticated dialogue and plot intricacies of the Kevin Spacey vehicle, but if you’re looking for the compelling melodrama of Shonda Rhimes’ other hit Grey’s Anatomy with a dash of legal jargon spelled out for you in layperson’s terms, well hey! That’s what this is! (In the pilot one of the characters in the ensemble boldly declares to the team’s skittish newcomer  “Olivia Pope does not cry!” Olivia Pope then proceeds to cry in every following episode. That sort of thing.)

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Belting “Torn” with bestie Moe Dabbagh has been a major highlight of Pisces Season

As far as weekends go, I’ve been making a concerted effort to get out more despite the weather being mostly unfriendly these last few weeks and how sore my legs have been after 10 hour workdays. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my real life hang sesh and subsequent overdose of Twitterfriend young @J_Face. A few weekends ago I was bombarded by iMessages from J in a group chat imploring–nay–commanding us to hang out with them. Because I’d been waiting for this day since birth and I also hadn’t done anything fun outside the confines of my bedsheets in a week or so, I agreed to meet them for some day drinking and a some fun touristy activities. After we met up in south BedStuy, we hit up a Dunkin Donuts for some stealth mixers (“We’ll take a coke. No, not a bottle a fountain coke. Okay well can you give us a cup? No, a plastic cup. Fine, we’ll take a styrofoam coffee cup whatever thanks have a good day! Jesus.”) we managed to find our way to the Brooklyn Bridge right at sunset, something I think every New York resident is supposed to have done at some point. I hadn’t yet, as the BK Bridge is located between one neighborhood I never go to and another I’m only ever in to see my gynecologist.

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I find I appreciate my city more and have the most fun when visitors are in town. The daily grind can be pretty exhausting, and the romance of the city can be dampened by how stressful and loud it is to live here. Commutes, especially in the winter, are dealt with rather than enjoyed. If you’re pinching pennies like me, going out to eat can hardly be justified (unless you’re also delusional like me, and think to yourself  “I deserve a burrito today” about five times a week, just for getting out of bed). But when a guest is in town, I get an excuse to hit up a famous Chinatown restaurant while drunk at 7pm, so that’s what we did. But not before stumbling into a Joe’s Shanghai-adjacent cocktail bar and spending our weight in gold doubloons on two Pacificos and two shots of tequila. That night we went Bushwick barhopping, where we met up with Winston and Hannah who were drunk off their asses but displaying it in opposite ways: Winston fell asleep at Bizarre Bar. Hannah stayed out with us, heckling a shitty DJ at the afterhours spot until 6 am. We spent the next day eating Popeye’s, watching FoFiles, and sleeping on the couch.

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The following Tuesday, after wearing platforms to work like an idiot, I was somehow convinced to further destroy my feet by attending a Shaggy concert with Reid and Jesse at the Brooklyn Bowl. Reid and I waited in the frigid winds to buy door tickets while talking amongst ourselves about how much we hate the cold and waiting in lines and we didn’t even like Shaggy that much. But I was doing it for the story, and because I said I would, so we paid for our tickets and one single beer each that we nursed over the period of an hour and half. Then this moment happened, and we left. We were out by 11 pm. It felt like a success.

Later that week, having not yet gotten my first paycheck, I was relishing the freer things in life. Like getting my hair dyed black at work and drinking coworker-funded margaritas. Then Friday arrived, and I knew I had to go out even though I was scraping the bottom of my piggy bank. I knew it would be worth it, though. Tall Pat was having his birthday party in one of those rented karaoke rooms in Korea Town. I’d never been to one before and it turns out they are MEGA-KUSH. I guzzled a 7 dollar bottle of champagne, lost my earmuffs, found my earmuffs, lost my mind, then lost my phone…and didn’t notice until I made it home.

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Luckily Austin, a sweet new friend, found my phone and returned it to Reid who returned it to me a couple days later. In the meantime I sat in my room watching Scandal and talking to no one except my boyfriend on Facebook chat. It was kind of a luxury to be semi-disconnected. That is, until Oscar time rolled around and I was like, if I can’t livetweet this I will kill myself 100%. Part of growing up is getting your priorities straight, am I right?

Another week went by and I dragged myself out to the clurb to make an appearance out of what felt like necessity at the time. The event last Friday was *Shallow,* at Baby’s All Right, hosted by Ariel Max, Kelp Sea, Sarah Glenn and Bunny Von Lau. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to say hey to some babes I hadn’t seen in a while, and to see the homie Brian Whateverer aka Whatever 21 DJ, which was everything I anticipated. I even got to see Ms Fitz who greeted me with side-eye and a hug, saying “Are you wearing ugg boots in the club?” (I was, and shamelessly. Normcore may be dying but I’m just doing me. To be fair I was also wearing a Baby Phat bikini top, a mesh sweater, and a paisley scarf du-rag situation. I need to go shopping?). What I hadn’t anticipated was bumping into longtime homies Be Words and Megan McDearman, two lovely people I really don’t see enough. I had the unexpected pleasure of talking to Yung Be about my struggle to become more outgoing while she bought me beers and called me out for being a closet shy person. It was motivating. Of course, I still couldn’t manage to stay out all night, and I shared a cab with Reid back to Bushwick with heavy eyes around 2 am.

So maybe I’m contradicting myself. Trying to make more friends while also attempting to shut the world out and live alone in a studio apartment? Is that what I really want? Will that even work? There’s some Christian saying that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I don’t believe in God, but as I sit here before my next apartment showing, nervously sweating into my uggs, I realize, timeline or not, I’m basically just winging it. And yeah, I guess it is kinda funny.

SEXUAL ABDUCTION

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I may be a little late posting these, but seeing as I’m still fumbling around my apartment in a post-holiday haze singing “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas,” I figured the story of the BEST HOLIDAY PARTY OF 2013/EVER IN HISTORY was still appropriate to share.

For those of you who don’t know, I host an annual (two years & going strong!) XXXMAS party along with Jeffrey Scott, Sarah Sassafrass, Boy Reverend and Katy at their home in Raleigh. Last year we had SCURRY XXXMAS, a horror-meets-winter solstice theme that wasn’t really visually embodied beyond Christmas sweaters, sequins, and leaving our Halloween decorations up alongside snowflakes and disco balls. This year, we wanted to take things a bit further. While drunk at my brother’s Martha’s Vineyard home over Thanksgiving, I texted back and forth with Sass about themes, before finally making the Facebook event and broadcasting over Twitter. We decided on XXXMAS: ABDUCTION, where all things extraterrestrial would meet all things festive for a gigantic hometown holiday explosion.

I was certain it would be a great success, but not without some stress on my part. For an entire year after Scurry, I could not manage to live down the fact that I had fallen asleep early and missed most of my own soiree. People I didn’t even know were giving me shit about it well into the Fall of ’13, a humiliation that was only tempered when someone I’d never met before invited me to my own party this year (it was just like that episode of My So-Called Life where Rayanne used all her money to throw herself a birthday bash except I didn’t OD in the end). Although this year I would be arriving in Raleigh four days prior to the event with ample time to prepare, I had my plate pretty full with family issues and, you know, nail appointments and going to Dave & Busters. I had already purchased my look (on discount, with the help of Moe Dabbagh) and had it sent to my mother’s Cary residence, but I was unneccesarily worried about the decor. Two days before the event, I showed up to 3801 to find unassembled bubble wrap all over the floor, some kind of PVC archway in the hall, and paint and paper everywhere. Half finished gigantic alien head drawings were draped on the couch. I was eating a Cook Out corndog and spewing out complaints in my signature “I’m joking but not” tone, and I was pretty sure Sass was *this close* to blinding me with spray adhesive.

“IT WILL BE GREAT. IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.”

Sarah and I, as distinctly nonverbal and verbal artists respectively, often have a hard time imagining the other’s vision.

“We’re going to use this paper to make a giant circle and be the space portal,” she half explained while stomping around the house draped in twinkly lights and waving scissors. Whatever you say, Sarah.

And damn if I didn’t underestimate her again. Let it be known that in the midst of a full time work schedule, not to mention her final exam week, Sass still managed to spend 2 days cleaning and crafting to make the house into a full-on art installation. The Reverend’s PVC and bubble wrap creation had fully transformed the hallway into a Cosmic Ice Tunnel, and with the help of a few extras from me (a fog machine, an outdoor set up, 150 autographed extra copies of my Christmas card, and colorful lightbulb replacements in every room) as well as a few extra hands (Katy and Sass’s bro included), we managed to complete the setup by 8 pm on the night of the party…just before the first guests started barreling through the doors in packs. With the halls fully decked and LuxePosh on her decks, we were ready to leave this planet behind. Photos by Sarah Sassafrass for your viewing pleasure.
(Warning: there are lots. When Sass’ website goes public I will just link to it, but for now, enjoy the mass)
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I didn’t exactly take a census, but I want to say…everyone fabulous in the entire state was there? I think we stumbled into a time warp or something, because the clocks were saying 5 am but I felt like the party had just begun. The next morning, feeling unexpectedly spritely, Katy and I went to Chipotle, and then Bojangles, and back home to eat in the wreckage. Sass was nowhere to be found and there was trash and barf everywhere. I was using pieces of painted bubble wrap as mini surfborts to slide across the slimy floors. My body suit was in a tangled mess and my autographs were strewn across the muddy yard.

As the sun was beginning to set on the second shortest day of the year, we finally located Sass. To this day, though, she prefers she’d remained abducted.
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Fab With A Conscience


When I was in college at UNC Chapel Hill I was lucky enough to make friends with some of the most intelligent and fabulous people that walk this earth. We called ourselves Team Big Things, among other monikers that were bestowed upon us (Fruity Rebels, Benetton Club, etc). These names derived from a few simple facts; that we are all highly ambitious, flamboyant individuals of varying races and backgrounds. Many of us identify as queer,  and all of us make up an educated, socially-minded group looking to better the world through art and/or service, and to look & feel good while doing it.

Even though we’ve experienced a diaspora since graduating–we’ve got members in NYC, LA, NC, DC, and one member is even in China right now–I still keep in close contact with these guys through a private facebook group called TBT. We share funny gifs, stories about almost pooping in our pants at Trader Joe’s, and links to articles. Sometimes it’s “Best Golden Girls Quotes” on Buzzfeed. Other times they surround more socially charged topics which we then debate and discuss with each other. This week we talked about Britney, Miley, and the relationship between fashion, music, gender, queerness and race. I felt the conversations that followed were beyond relevant.

It began with this image, Mykki Blanco’s Twitter response to the new Britney single, “Work Bitch,” which aside from being another god awful piece of EDM garbage, borrows from the lexicon of ballroom culture (and thus from queer people of color) in a way that has upset some people.

Moe: Thank you

Kat: I’m curious though, haven’t female pop singers always had a large gay fan base? Cher, Whitney, Madonna, Katy Perry, Gaga, Britney. I can separate an artist’s sincere relationship with their queer fan base from the more contrived relationships just by the way it feels. “Work Bitch” is clearly a tactic. But what is the dividing line? What actually separates something like Gaga’s songs, often hailed as gay anthems, from being under this same scrutiny? Is it the artist’s actual involvement with the LGBTQ community? Personally I was irritated with Katy Perry when she came out with “I Kissed a Girl” because I thought it fetishized bisexuality but I’ve since changed my perspective on it and thought of it as like, pro bi-curious. Basically I’m just on the train and rambling and would love to hear more of what y’all think of straight females as queer icons in the media.

Hannah: I agree with you. But I do also think that since the LGBTQ community has become more openly accepted into mainstream culture, pop stars take it as an opportunity to “reach out to/support” them and therefore get a wider spread fan base. Clearly there are some icons (such as Cher) who I think more properly helps represent the gay community because she supported them before it was fetishized like it is today.

Kat: Not to mention the whole “playing bi” tactic that young straight pop stars (Christina, Britney, Miley, Katy) use to break out of their pristine Disney/Christian image. And don’t even get me started on Macklemore.

Hannah: IDK if Macklemore can fall under the female pop star category… but he might as well considering what a little bitch he is.

Kat: I think about this a lot as a white woman who wants to have a strong voice in the media as a writer. Although I identify as queer and a feminist I still heavily scrutinize the validity of my voice in relationship to many of my characters who are queer people of color (aka: y’all). This is sort of off the subject of pop music but not really at all. The reason Orange is the New Black was given so much praise for it’s portrayal of QPOC is because it gave agency to those characters outside of the white narrative. It is unethical to use the experiences and cultures of another to further your career. It does nothing but reinforce the status quo to try sum up the lived experience of an other in your own voice, to tell someone else’s story in order to spice up your own. Ultimately we need more queer voices telling their own stories, taking center stage for their own lived experience and being their own icons. Not treated by the industry as a market for culture consumption. And as a white, straight artist, if you can’t get down with that, then you are not an “ally”. Thus Mykki’s outrage.

Austin: Everything Kat said p much.

Jamila: Kat, yes. All of it. That being said, I’m also thankful for these white women who advocate for “the others” because when others do it, nobody gives a goddamn

Austin: Yeah ^ there is a way to use one’s privilege in a good way and that is it.

The next topic was one that has been beaten to death over the past few weeks, Miley’s appropriation of black “ratchet” fashion to enhance her fun new image. If you’ve been on the Internet (and not been completely clueless) any time in the last two months you’ve heard more Miley arguments than you can mentally process; those condemning her and those in her defense. This time we wanted to talk about the stylist behind Miley’s fashion choices at the VMAs and in her controversial video for “We Can’t Stop.”

Ratchet is Dead: Inside the Mind of a Miley Cyrus Stylist

The article introduces Lisa Katnic, Miley’s stylist and a host of the Vfiles webshow LisaTV, which is basically a docu-series about different fashion communities. In the article Katnic is quoted as follows:

“Somebody said that it was racist for a white girl to have three black girls as props onstage to benefit herself. It’s misinformed because [those dancers, the] L.A. Bakers are in the [“We Can’t Stop”] video. At this point, Miley and the L.A. Bakers are friends, and Amazon Ashley? They’re friends in real life. They go out to lunch. That’s so demeaning to [the dancers] for somebody to say that. Here they are doing something that’s awesome and fun, and [people] shit on it.”

Since we’re all major Vfiles fans, and many of us have adorned ourselves with the gold chains, mesh and Air Forces of the “ratchet” look for long before Miley jumped on the bandwagon, I thought this woman’s work was worth discussing.

Kat: Some people are saying that this person is responsible for the whole Miley Debacle and I can see why they are offended by her quotes dismissing the issue….is it wrong that i think she’s fucking fab, style wise? Her Vfiles show is funnnnn.

Brad: IDK IDK IDK IDK how to feel. I do like her style tho lol

Bill: I think it’s great she has a voice in all of this. To each her own.

Brad: I meannnnn IDK if “to each her own” is the right approach to this. I still think this chick is blinded by her privilege.

Kat: I don’t think she’s as blinded as Miley is tho, and I think her relationship to the trends and lifestyles she uses to express herself is more authentic and more informed. I’m kinda here for her.

Bill: It’s interesting because she comes form the world of style which has ALWAYS appropriated looks from culture and society.

Kat: Yeah, not that that’s necessarily okay, but if we call that into question I think we have to maybe put ourselves on the cross a lil bit too lol

Bill: Exactly.

Brad: I agree that she’s def not as blind as Miley but in the end she’s still perpetuating this appropriation for a paycheck.

Kat: I feel like if Miley came up to me on a night when I was wearing my weave and my jersey and a ton of gold chains and said “I want you to style my video” I’d be like “sweet.” The term “weave” used loosely, as always. God I can’t help it I’m just culturally appropriatin’ all the time. But I still think Miley’s weak, prolly cause it’s obvious to everyone that she’s full o shit.

Brad: lmao. No I mean I feel u cuz same prolly. Ugh this is why /we/ should be famous cuz we’d do this shit da right way.

Bill: It seems hard for me to believe that anything in our culture isn’t appropriated. We live in the country that has appropriated pretty much everything but American Apparel from other places and peoples around the world.

Brad: IS THERE EVEN A RIGHT WAY THO IDK *SIGH.*

Austin: Not here for her and I think a lot of her explanations whitesplain away the problematic nature of wearing blackness as a costume. Also I think conversations about appropriation (and race in general) center white people’s feelings and ideas too much. I honestly don’t care if Miley shares a few laughs with these poor black women on set. WOOHOO RACISM SOLVED. How do black women feel about it? What happens to actual “ratchet” people when the term/trend are done? It’s all so absurd and we can localize this to Miley if we want, but there’s a looooong history of white folks putting on black “cool”/folk culture to advance their own careers, while white culture at large systemically shits on black folks/culture. IDK y’all. I think Bill is missing the distinction between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. It’s a thin line but there is one.

Bill: Austin, does that apply to fashion and style- is that exchange or appropriation? Is there a way to share these things at all? The nose ring was originally a Sikh tradition… it has now been removed from that cultural identity to be a part of style. Help me flesh this out.

Austin: Bill, I think conversations about cultural appropriation are hard because they center a PoC narrative instead of a white one. Sometimes it’s not /about/ individual white persons relating to something but how WHITENESS relates to something, ie: how are Desi women treated/seen for wearing bindi? How are black folks seen/treated for speaking vernacular English? How are artists of color viewed in the canon of art history? How many people of color get to use their cultural output in the mainstream? It’s a hard conversation because it doesn’t necessarily center whiteness or white feelings, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how often we do center whiteness in our convos about race. How many people of color get to control the use of their culture in the mainstream? Like, we can’t blame Justin Timberlake for being inspired by black music, for instance. But we can talk about how society/media values his work over the myriad black artists who have done the same thing.

Bill: The White Systemic Oppression of All That Isn’t White. It makes sense- but you and I aren’t Desi women so does that mean we cannot talk about it at all? Yes these issues are ‘hard’ to discuss but CAN we discuss them outside of that paradigm of whiteness?

Austin: We can’t speak directly from a position that isn’t ours, but we can speak about oppression/privilege sure. We’re all oppressed and privileged to varying degrees. INTERSECTIONALITY. Try to think how your oppressed parts feel in relation to the mainstream and be EMPATHETIC to the experiences of others. Bill, as a white man, you certainly have something to add to race conversations, but you have to decentralize whiteness before you can get to the empathy/understanding part.

Kat: It would also be a different thing if Miley was using her status as a wealthy white girl to give more of a voice to the the women of color she’s borrowing from. I don’t see that. I always draw up a comparison between Brooke Candy and Miley in my head when I think about this. If you’re a white woman entrenched in and promoting the culture you are inspired by I don’t think it’s criminal to borrow from it….but maybe I’m just defending myself here.

Austin: I think that’s interesting Kat. Like I think about Terry [our good friend from home, a white man], and he’s IN poor communities of color. Like, I don’t think he’s appropriating simply because it’s not a costume for him. He’s not approaching it ironically or thinking that he has a “proper” culture to return to.

Kat: What about using it as a way to reject the so-called “proper” culture you are from? I would argue that’s what Miley’s doing, and while it’s fucked that she’s able to do that in a way that people of color will never be able to (and then returning at the end of the day to the california king sized bed in her mansion), it makes sense that she’d use it to reject a lot of the bullshit ways the patriarchy says she SHOULD exist as a young white woman (pure/responsible/desexualized). I actually kind of identify with that. The problem arises when we define the antithesis of “pure” with black female bodies…….ruh roh.

Bill: I mean we’ve had this conversation fueled by a seemingly never-ending cocaine high several times over. I just like coming from an anthropological standpoint- I am just thinking that we need to get out of the whole oppressor-oppressed dualism in order to do anything about it… like stop giving it power somehow. I have been learning how to decentralize whiteness without dismissing my own inheritance of the concept. Where do I reconcile the attitudes of white men who shaped the conversations that we are having right now?

Kat: I don’t know that anyone can take an objective standpoint on any issue. No one can shed their privilege or the perspective that it gives them. The important thing is to call attention to it and accept responsibility for it. The opposite of whitesplaining is not objectivity but awareness.

Austin: Yes, Kit! I hope no one feels attacked. One can’t convey tone via Facebook. But I also hate the fact that I feel the need to say that (centering white feelings).

Kat: I don’t think anyone feels attacked. I think we’re all here to learn and understand how the work we produce as artists affects the world, and what responsibility we have as people of our respective privileges.

Austin: Back to the original question, you shouldn’t feel bad for liking her style. She’s fly. Anyone who consumes media consume problematic media. The key is recognizing that, and hopefully making something better.

Kat: Exactly! If any of these artists had a response other than “no, no way I disagree” to any of the accusations and maybe listened and contributed to a productive dialogue… think of how things would be different. At that point I think it becomes messy because of how much money is involved.

Austin: I should find that article about like 90+% of media being produced by white folks. I think we all “know” what systemic means, but don’t really /know/ what systemic means.
Bill: That’s why I love folklore- the stories coming from the people the stories are actually about. I really want to say “FUBU” right now.

Austin: Lmaooooooo ^^^ I mean sometimes that’s necessary. That brand was actually a response to designers who made a shit ton of money off of black folks saying that their clothes weren’t really “for” black people so…..

Kat: Wow

Danielle: I’ve had a similar conversation with my close friend Aila when we talk about what it’s like to be a PoC in the theatre community. Which of us is at an advantage when it comes to getting consistent work and which of us is at an advantage in life. As a multiracial actress (white dad, Indian/Desi mom) she’s able to shift between different “shades” of brown people with ease- at this point she’s played Iranian, Puerto Rican and now a French Joan of Arc. Yet she’s begun to envy my privilege as a black/Jamaican/”thick” woman since there seems to more work for actors who fit that description. She explained that regardless of how many roles she’s offered she is still not seen as Indian because of her hazel eyes, light skin and European features. I wanted to be upset with her since her dad’s an oil man and her mother’s parents are a bureaucrat and a choreographer… she’s had a trust fund since the day she was born… she’s lived all over the world… and society calls her exotic and beautiful and dudes buy her mad drinks when she goes out to bars. So why would she want to look like me? The answer was crazy: her lack of community. She always feels alone because she’s seen as too exotic to be considered white, and too white to be considered truly Indian. She’s just labeled as pretty. Another part to her argument was the people who are closest to her also happen to be black so why couldn’t she be a part of the group? As much as I want to punch her lights out for wearing oversized hoop earrings and answering my phone calls with “where you at, grr,” I can’t come up with a reason why she shouldn’t be able to. After all, she’ll shut down folks who try to randomly touch my hair. Do I want to be the one that denies the basic human need for belongingness? Doesn’t that make me into another kind of oppressor?

Kat: This also brings up the concept of appearance versus race and how each affects lived experience. I’m a white girl with white parents of European descent (people are often surprised when they find out my mom is blonde for some reason?) but I have dark hair and tan skin which sometimes leads people to label me “ethnically ambiguous.” I think I kind of get to experience the benefits of exoticism without any of the negative treatment of being racially othered. On the one hand, the unfairness of that makes me uncomfortable. On the other hand, I like to be as tan and curvaceous as possible and play up that ambiguity to benefit from some of the hypersexualized stigmas people have of brown women.

Bill: I’ve recently been brought to the light by dear Austin that I was possibly commenting in a way that was defending my own privilege, earlier. I haven’t caught up on the comments since I went to class earlier but I apologize if I offended anyone. I see this space as a comfortable place to discuss these kinds of things. Earlier I was playing more of a devil’s advocate role because I wanted to mirror the perspective that this white society that we live in has… And I know it is implicit in me because I am white- but if you were personally offended know that I don’t believe all the things I wrote. My intention was to provoke conversation and further the dialogue. Apologies… I am not trying to feign my responsibility and I was not annoyed by anyone in this group calling out white privilege. I love y’all. I was never trying to defend whiteness. I agree with the black feminists’ opinions about this subject. It probably wasn’t my place to do this at all, but I think that having a conversation where everyone agrees and is reinforcing their own opinions is just a rant (definitely has power to it though) and I was trying to provoke the conversation for my own desire to hear a great academic study/conversation about race.

Kat: I think sometimes it’s important to ask questions that you feel like you already know the answer to so that you can know /why/ you feel that way. I take a lot of stances on issues I feel strongly about, but I don’t always know exactly why that is. Sometimes asking a “devil’s advocate” question can help you better understand a topic.

Austin: I get that. I also, first of all Bill, I appreciate you being receptive to hearing that you might have approached a race conversation wrong. As a white person (or really any person in a privileged position) it’s SUPER important to listen to folks who don’t share your privilege. Kudos on that. Anyway, I get the idea of offering a different perspective. It’s like a mini checks and balances system I guess. But I also think that everyone who contributed /did/ offer a different perspective. We can build consciousness and raise awareness towards a similar end, while filling in blanks for each other and fleshing out ideas. I love that this group of friends can joke and party and ~look rly cute~ but also talk about and do Things That Matter.

Bill: I see how it is confusing for a white person to play devil’s advocate about whiteness in a race conversation.

Kat: Totally. But yes, I think a checks and balances system is really important, especially in liberal communities where sometimes we take for granted certain truths. It’s important to rediscuss and redefine what we know to be true sometimes. For some people, simply saying America Appropriates Everything is a great way to blow off this entire argument. Being given the opportunity to say “yes, BUT” is really helpful in convincing others who are perhaps further to the right than we are.

Bill: I was merely looking for a way OUT of whiteness and the systemic oppression of a white world.

Kat: I often feel like I want to find a way out of the white world also. I’m deeply ashamed of white culture because I don’t feel it represents ME and what I believe. But I /am/ white, so I am allotted certain privileges that even I believe are unfair simply due to that fact. And as much as we’d love to completely restructure society, it won’t happen in our lifetime. So we just have to make sure to remain aware of its problematic nature and use dialogues like these to take realistic baby steps to improving the world. You guys rule.

Austin: Whiteness and white people are two different concepts. Don’t confuse the two. No need for white guilt or shame, but you can try to side step whiteness. READ THE WHITE PRIVILEGE KNAPSACK. It’s one internet page long and an easy google away. It’s a great refresher/starting point, and written by a white woman.

Kim: I’ve been thinking a lot about race issues here too [as an Asian-American in Shanghai]. It’s such a difficult thing sometimes I don’t know how to feel. The foreigners here in Shanghai disgust me sometimes at how imperialistic their attitude is. There is this feeling of camaraderie over their ‘superiority’ that they feel entitled to as (mainly) white people among Asians. Instead of feeling a sense of inferiority as a minority the way many Asians in America do, it somehow has turned out the opposite. And what’s most confusing is how I identify with them often! I feel so ashamed when I have this attitude, but I can’t help it. Like many of you have pointed out, I can’t escape my background and how it’s shaped me. Lately I’ve been trying to take race out of the picture and just look at them as human. Because it gets so fucking annoying when all you are is where you’re from.

Austin: Yeah that makes so much sense. I was talking to Bill last night about ways to stay racially aware/conscious without letting all the negative aspects of racism bog you down emotionally and spiritually. It can be really hard to navigate.

I know I usually regale my readers with stories of hilarious missteps on the road to Glam Life, but I’m thinking about including more posts like these. I hope you gained something from it and if you’d like to join the conversation I encourage you to comment or email me using the contact form in my About section. I’ll be back with a Disaster Story next week.

FASHION (turn to the left)

fam gang

Damn, y’all! It’s certainly been a crazy couple of weeks. Last time we spoke I had just begun my most recent job, the hours (10 am-8 pm five days a week) I am just now getting used to. Of course, now that I’ve gotten the routine down pat the gig is drawing to close, as such is the nature of freelancing. And with the additional drawback of inconsistent pay, I’ve just barely made enough in the meantime to pay off my August debts with a little leftover for that other thing. Survival. It’s been so long since I’ve eaten anything not on my Trader Joe’s Budget Friendly Shopping List that when I went to buy toilet paper from my local bodega just now, the owner asked me if I’d moved. More than once I’ve seriously considered the “ride n ditch” method of drunken taxi transport. I’ve gotten more overdraft notices in the mail in the last month than I have birthday cards (which is to say, ONLY ONE. Don’t worry, family. You’ve still got a full two days before I disown you completely.)

I have managed, though, as I usually do, to indulge myself with some top-notch extracurriculars. Most notably, I’ve hit a major milestone in my top-secret entertainment project with OMGAlex, who btw finally has a blog of his own (thank god). It’s really quite perfect if you’re into that whole “sardonic account of psuedo-bougie urban gayness” thing, which let’s face it, you are.

Someone told me recently that I am “obsessed with living in Bushwick.” This is in fact true. One of the main reasons for my allegiance, right below “semi-affordable housing if you get lucky enough on craigslist” and “large population of friendly stray cats” is that there are always parties worth attending within walking distance of my apartment (this of course is due to the other great reason for living here, that it’s where everyone worth seeing resides). One example of this is the Dizzyland party, which had its one year anniversary, Dizzy /World/, two weekends ago. The circus was hosted by pretty much all your favorite Bushwick supercelebs (Trey Latrash, Ms Fitz, Allison Wwonderland, Brian Whateverer, Genevieve Belleveau & Juliana Huxtable to name a few) and included performances by Pictureplane, Lil Internet, and House of Ladosha ~~and many more~~ so it was a basically one of those can’t-miss things. Hannah and I, getting a late start to our day, arrived around 2 in our best attempt at anime-inspired self-infantilization. I even wore two pink bows from my early 90s days.

IMG_1665I only wish I had been there for longer (although I generally find that no party /really/ gets going until 2 am). We could have gone to the Spectrum for after hours, but being the old farts that we are, we opted to walk home at 4:30. Here I am holding my shoes on the way back, looking as real as ever:
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You can find more (better) pixx from the night on PAPERMAG.

The following week was hellishly busy, as the job I’d been working on was set to take place at Lincoln Center during the shit show that is MERCEDES BENZ FASHION WEEK. I had never been to fashion week before and part of me was excited to see it up close. In high school I used to willfully lap up allll that industry bullshit. It seemed like such a fantasy land compared to my bored suburban life.  There was GLAMOR and CELEBRITY and LUXURY at fashion week. I had bedroom walls covered in pictures of Gemma Ward and Jessica Stam and a casual eating disorder.  Of course, any grown New York woman with two eyes and an awareness of culture consumption and class struggle in this city would be a little disconcerted by the whole thing. One popular picture from last year comes to mind.
I spent most of the day on location last Saturday guzzling free Doubleshots and storming around for 13 hours with a walkie talkie on my hip. I think the most fun I had all day was eating two giant plates of chinese food amongst a parade of cigarette-nursing models. At most I have a post-ironic relationship with fashion, and always try to have a sense of humor about it. That being said–

Later that evening, despite not getting any decent sleep in days,  I decided to attend the Alexander Wang after party, hosted by SHADE in the abandoned Pier 17 mall. By this time I’d been working since 6 am, had been drinking caffeine since, and wasn’t going to stop any time soon. After plotting 12 murders and a suicide on the L Train Shuttle I ultimately decided all I needed was a very large pick-me-up in the form of a few champagne and red bull cocktails and a lot of hair and make up. Around 11 I rode into the city with the New Bushwick Fam, over caffeinated and plenty drunk (though neither perceptible by me.) The party was a gigantic, crowded mix of ~club kidz & celebz~,  a thrilling mishmash of fame and anti-fashion that culminated with a bizarre surprise performance by Nicki Minaj. It pleased everyone. By this point the open vodka red bull bar had burned a sizable hole in my brain. I stepped out to make an exasperated and ill-advised phone call to my ex before silently weeping into my hair extensions as I rode down the mall escalator.  Outside on the pier I sat in a corner and took a quick one-hour cat nap, then spent $30 on a cab ride home. The next morning I had the worst hangover I’d had in 2013. It wasn’t the best night ever, but I didn’t really care. At least I had shown up and looked good.

The other night at Body Actualized Center, Brian was taking instagrams of people in his Whatever 21 line (which btw is now available on Vfiles). After asking him to redo my shot more than once, I laughed and took a selfie instead.

“I’m so vain!” I said to Rachel who had watched this all transpire.

“You are,” she replied. “But it’s part of your charm.”

#kanyeshrug
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