Day 4. Or 5. Don’t tell me I’ve lost count already…

I am exhausted. I have a horrible cold today and I stayed home sick, but have of course been doing plenty of work, while updating Beauty Dummy’s social media (did you hear about my new blog with Hannah Faulkner?!) and browsing Twitter for the latest fucked up shit Trump and his demons have enacted. Let’s just say I don’t feel powerful. 

I marched on Saturday in New York and while there was an amazing turn out all over the world I couldn’t help but think of the folks the protest largely ignored: women of color, black lives, trans lives… And then I thought about how the whole protest would probably just be ignored by those in power. It’s not enough. 

Lately it’s felt like the whole world is shouting into the void. 

Another thing that’s bothering me is that underneath all my external fears I am still worried, as always, about my own self worth, my own happiness, and my own success. On bad days it can feel like my doubt is ping-ponging, one moment aimed at myself, and the next at everything around me, the world, the future, the powers that be.

At times I honestly feel like getting out of bed in the morning is my one-woman show. Written by me, performed by me, rehearsed for years. Just not that funny.

But I am motivated. I’m overwhelmed by my own ambition. There’s so much I want to do, and there’s so much I am doing, but it isn’t done, and it isn’t moving fast enough, and I’m afraid I’m not working hard enough, or that I’m working too hard.

But then I think, what a luxury to get to be ambitious. What a privilege to have any opportunities at all. I should be grateful to be a runner in this race, and not in the one for survival. 

So what do we do then? How do we come together and fight and still have energy to devote ourselves to ourselves and our dreams? I don’t know. 

Maybe I just need a coffee. And a DayQuil, and a hot bath, and a different president, and some soup, and my mom’s HBO Go password, and for the world to change, and 12 more hours in each day. I’m gonna go get some of these things and think about this, and I’ll be in touch. 

In the meantime if it could fucking stop raining that’d be great. 

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BREAKING: Girl Accepts Her New Year’s Resolutions Are Unrealistic, Takes Nap

Picture this: Your goal is to write for at least an hour a day. Watch 2 movies a week, read 2 books a month, exercise and meditate every day, eat healthy and organic. Then you go out one measly lil night for drinks and the next day you’re not feeling 100%. You miss your workout and avoid the brainstorming session on your calendar. Hey wait, don’t you have a deadline? Probably should have worked on that piece last night instead of chugging martinis with your coworkers like a lunatic. Omg and it’s snowing now?! That technically doesn’t even affect any of the things on your to-do list for the day, but just seeing it makes you tired. Paralyzed, actually. Your stack of unread books is staring at you from the center of the coffee table, but Twitter, at this moment, is the greatest thing you’ve ever read. Your cat is cuddling you. Omg now the other one is coming to cuddle. Wow this is amazing you’re literally a cat sandwich right now. They love you so much. You scroll through memes for 3.5 hours while laying in your cat sandwich. Maybe you’ll make a few. Seems like a pretty good use of time even though you have actual work to do. You get hungry, and your fridge is full, but the idea of eating a salad rn honestly makes you want to want to throw up and die. You order Seamless from No. 1 Chinese Kitchen for the third time this week. You get a low balance alert email from Bank of America and decide, as well as say out loud, that they can suck your nuts. When the dumplings arrive, you eat them while watching a tv show you’ve seen about 6,000 times while barely even paying attention bc you’re reading stuff on your phone. You finish your food. The show ends. Now that you are satiated you’re able to see the world around you for what it is: a mess. You decide to avoid it all and go back to bed where you belong. You accidentally sleep until the next day.

Repeat.

I am ambitious, and I love myself. I know these things to be true. That said, I have a bad habit of overloading my plate with too many expectations. And with too many balls in the air (lol) I inevitably drop one from time to time. Instead of charging forward and catching up, though, I overreact so much about the mistake I’ve made or the delay in my schedule or how behind I am on my goal, that I start to make excuses and hide from my own ambition. 

This is not to say that I never accomplish anything. 2016 was one of my most productive and rewarding years ever. But — and this has been true for as long as I can remember — my productivity style is usually to obsess and cram, after lots of procrastination up top, leading me to compromise on other things like social life, keeping my budget on track, eating right and taking care of my body. I end up accomplishing some of my goals but not others. And the others are usually really important things that, you know, keep me healthy and alive.

So I guess the big question is, how can I learn to honor the small milestones in order to serve the big picture? 

Plenty of us do this with exercising and eating right. The “I’ll start tomorrow” and “cheat-days-turned-cheat-life” phenomenons, while clichés, are all too common. I’m going through this right now. But I’ve succeed before! I was a vegetarian for four years and have had whole seasons where I worked out five times a week. And then it fades. And then it starts back up again. 

I don’t want to give up on myself this year, in any regard. If I don’t make my goals, I at least want to consistently try.

So I guess another question is, how do we stay motivated when we fall behind? 

Maybe the key is to not overload ourselves in the first place. To put a high premium on that self-care time and alone time, and to above all get enough sleep. Maybe we all should work on being less judgmental of ourselves. Maybe if we did that, our goals themselves might even change. 

Look, I don’t have the answers. As I write this I’m in my bed with all the lights off at 8pm on a Sunday after taking a two-hour nap. I need to swiffer the floors, make some dinner, take a bath, write a sketch and make an outline for a meeting before I go to sleep for the night. Could I have done all this yesterday? You bet your beautiful ass I coulda. 

I’m writing all this to remind myself, and you (but mostly myself bc I am working on ME. Jk you matter, too) that we’re in this together. Things may be fucked right now but I still think we can make a difference. First in our own lives, and then…THE WORLD. No seriously just watch I’m gonna change the world. Not alone or anything but I mean that is the plan. Eventually. Starting now. Wait…..*takes huge bite of weird knock-off-lil Debbie cream filled chocolate thing*…..starting now.

We got this, 2017. Congratulations in advance. 

Living for a Living

Living for a Living

barbie office
I swear to god I’m gonna make being an adult look cute if it kills me.

When I was little I never understood why parents complained about being adults.

“You’ll see,” they’d say. “Being a child is a luxury. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

At the time it felt like my problems were being ignored. I couldn’t even choose what to eat or when to go to bed, and what’s worse, I was forced to go to a school every day where I had to deal with the cut-throat social politics of elementary school girls. This was no luxury, I thought. What were these people talking about?

Now that I’m older, of course, I see what they meant. There’s the obvious fact of having more responsibility, people depending on you for things, worrying about money, about living up to expectations, about health, about death. “Okay,” I thought, about a year into the whole adulthood thing. “This kinda sucks too.”

When I was in sixth grade I had a particularly hard time adjusting. My mother had just gotten remarried and I had moved into a big house with a combined family, many members of which were not too keen on sharing anything with me, oxygen included. Middle school was off to a rough start. I was still naively eager for a certain crowd of kids to want to be friends with me, which they didn’t. A gifted child but a terrible listener, I had a hard time following directions and would often fall behind in class. Not to mention my body was changing. I was wearing sports bras from Limited Too in a children’s size 16. I was standing silently outside a circle of kids while they laughed at jokes I didn’t get. I was copying other people’s math homework because I’d managed to place into the advanced classes without ever really learning my multiplication tables. And I was desperately hoping it would all be over soon.

One night my dad called while I was doing some homework after school.

“Dad!” I squealed. “You’ll never believe it! Today I wished that school would go by fast, and it did!” 

“Mm,” he mumbled, the same way he had when I’d told him I thought I could see air when I was six years old. “Don’t wish your life away, kiddo.”

By this time, I had already heard about the problems my dad had with his eyes when he was a kid. I knew he’d had trouble reading, and that school was especially hard for him in the elementary and junior high years. He’d lived in Taiwan for a year when he was 12, and when he came back to the States he had to repeat the seventh grade. I knew he wouldn’t do middle school over again if you paid him. So why was he being so protective of my time?

I realize now that two things happen when you get a little older: time goes by faster, and less seems to change.

This is why two months have passed since I’ve last written. It’s why I didn’t notice it had been so long, and why I haven’t had much to say. It’s also why, at age 52, my father was telling me to relish the days where I had something he didn’t. My whole life laid out in front of me, years to decide who I was going to be, the freedom to make mistakes that wouldn’t have long term detriment or legal implications, and the absence of that underlying feeling all adults secretly have, that we’re squandering our potential, stressing ourselves to the limit, careening towards our end of days just hoping and praying we’ll have something to show for it. It’s true what they say, that youth is wasted on the young. What good is all the time in the world if you have no concept of time to begin with?

A lot has happened in these last two months. And they’ve been big, important steps for me, but just your run-of-the-mill adulty stuff. James and I got our own place in Greenpoint in a gutted out church, with the fixtures and the central air and the deep tub and the roof and the outdoor space we always wanted. The place is small but we’re happy, and the cats are happy, and we don’t mind giving some things away. Even with the reduced square footage, our rent went up quite a bit. So I needed to take my job hunt more seriously and really put my nuts to the wall to find work.

After putting myself out there and getting rejected so many times in a row that I couldn’t tell if I was job hunting or speed dating, I finally found a place that wanted me. I actually didn’t think I was right for the job, and I wasn’t terribly qualified either, but they seemed to think I was capable enough and hired me right away. Two months later, I think I have a handle on things. I have benefits and paid time off and a healthy sleep schedule. I go to the same salad bar every day during my lunch hour and listen to podcasts while I eat alone. I meet James on the platform at Union Square every day at 6:45, go home, make dinner, watch Netflix, maybe write a little, and go to bed. It is so delightfully, wonderfully, magically boring. And so far, I really love it.

I went to The Gap the other day and bought button-downs. Can you believe this? I’m an assistant at a design studio, so I don’t have to wear heels to work or get my hair blown out every day, but I can’t exactly go dressed like Malibu Barbie. Yeah it’s a bummer, but I also don’t mind being taken seriously. I just want to do good work, make my money, and get out of there. Part of growing up is knowing that you don’t have to show your entire personality, all your tastes and ambitions, every shade of who you are and want to be, to every person you encounter. At this point in my life, I think I’ll get farther if I hide a few things from the people who sign my checks. And the thing about selling out is, it makes your apartment so much nicer. Plus, idk, The Gap has some nice stuff.

The hard part of having the grown up day job is, well, there are a few. The first is getting out of bed every morning (I have no suggestions for this). The second is making sure you can manage not to turn into a sloppy, depressed mom who has given up on looking cute (this is a personal problem I’m trying to solve by keeping dry shampoo in my desk, eating fucking salads, and forcing myself to go to one social event a month). The third is staying focused on what you really want to do, remembering the difference between your actual two-year goal and what you wrote on your employee evaluation. But probably the hardest part is assuring yourself that how you make your money, and how much of it you have, isn’t what defines you. That the small achievements really do matter. And that we still have time, no matter what age, to make our dreams come true.

And in the meantime, well, you might find yourself at The Gap. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

10 Little Decisions That Changed My Life in 2014

IMG_2991
December: a time for self reflection

A wise person once said, “You should only take advice from someone who has made plenty of mistakes.” Actually, I just made that up. But it sounds right, doesn’t it?

One weekend in November my dad came to town and I got to spend some much needed time reconnecting with him and with my brother, who, interestingly in its own right, had just returned from touring with Macy Gray. We mostly did a lot of talking – about art, about music, comedy, parenthood, love, work, and following our dreams. My father, who turned 66 in July, has certainly led a life not lacking in transformations. I feel like every time we see one another he’s reinventing himself in some way. It’s a comforting reminder that we’re not bound, at any age, to our bad habits, or to things that are familiar.

Most of us spend this last month of 2014 contemplating our own change. Our dissatisfaction flirts with our ambition and the result is a list of “do-betters” that we may or may not keep in mind for more than a day. Most of the time our desired transformations are too grand to distill down to a simple resolution we can actually keep. I’ve found it helps to start with the details, the things we can actually change, and then work backwards.

Because the hardest things for me lately have been the little things, I wanted to share some small changes I made in my daily life this year that brought me just a few steps closer to sanity. Even if they can’t fix any of your real problems, maybe they’ll help you along the way.

1. Buying a Professional Hair Dryer
Beauty isn’t everything. I think we can all agree on that. But I decided if I’m going to care at all about the way I look then I’m going to invest in it. Since I’ve been cursed (just kidding!) with having a lot of hairdresser friends, I never hear the end of their hair-related advice. I don’t trust everyone, but I do trust my bestie-in-law Hannah who basically forced me to drop my secondhand blow dryer and pick up a legitimate one. I have the Rusk CTC 7500 which costs about $100. It’s cut down my styling time substantially, and thus the amount of time I spend sitting in front of the mirror every morning hating my hair and willing it to speed-grow. Note: Rusk is not paying me to endorse their products, I’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart. I’ve been trying to get Hannah to start a beauty blog so she can recommend all her favorite things. Everybody should post on her Facebook and convince her to do it. She’ll get more free products than she’ll know what to do with, and then maybe she’ll give some to me!

2. Making a Bedroom Embargo
You can always tell how I’m doing psychologically by what’s on top of or next to my bed. On any given day in 2012, for example, it was empty wine bottles, dirty plates, multiple kinds of hot sauce, and Lawry’s seasoning salt. I slept on unmade sheets and curved my body around my laptop, which almost never left my side. This was just how I lived, all throughout college and up until about six months ago, and I was low-key miserable the whole time. I loathed having crumbs in my bed, and staring at a computer screen until I couldn’t keep my eyes open made it harder to fall asleep – that is, if I even chose to try. More often than not I would slip into a social media k-hole until the wee hours of the night, and my sleepiness would be mistaken for depression and madness. I’d entertain my most insecure thoughts until 3 in the morning, and the next day I’d wake up in a pile of magazines and empty Dorito bags, just as tired as the night before. When I moved to my Ridgewood apartment in April of this year, I made a rule: no food and no computer in the bedroom, ever. It works because my bedroom is so far away from my Internet router that I barely even get wifi in there. And it’s made a huge difference. My mind has a chance to rest, and my eyes have a chance to adjust to darkness before I go to sleep so I’m not lying there for hours with the afterimage of my Twitter feed projected on my eyelids. And no food means no crumbs, no garbage, and no extreme self loathing after the fact. I also always wear slippers around the house now. If you have pets, it’s the only way to keep their nastiness out of your sheets. Bless their disgusting little hearts.

3. Forming a Cleaning Obsession

mesy roomMy bedroom in 2013

Unless yours is a neighborhood I could only afford in my wildest fever dreams,living in New York is pretty much disgusting. Gross strangers are everywhere and some of them will even touch you unprovoked. Every so often, rats will crawl over your feet to scurry towards their next meal, aka the lovely bags of garbage so adorably piled five feet high against the tree outside your building. Urine is on literally every surface. Any human that can operate in this world on a daily basis and then come home and be perfectly content with, I don’t know, a kitchen sink full of scraps of food and trash, has a tolerance for nastiness rivaling that of  the opossum itself. In the past, very regular drinking followed by depression had created a cycle of lethargy that had allowed me to live with messes. I would use my unmade bedsheets, sprinkles of kitty litter, and piles of clothes and books and dishes as the abstract expression of my psyche. I never felt comfort in this disarray, I just didn’t have the wherewithal to control it. I remember, even before I was  a hungover 20-something, I would stand in my teenage bedroom staring at my mess and end up feeling so overwhelmed by the wreckage that I’d just waste time whining uncontrollably. As a Virgo, I require organization in order to function. Perhaps it was my Pisces moon that would make me feel so sorry for myself that I couldn’t even address the problem at all. Well, such is no longer the case. It’s not perfect, but my house is set up so that everything has its own place. I bought all the necessary tools and devised a system. Dishes are done right after dinner, counters are cleaned once a day, sweeping is done as necessary in addition to a weekly full clean of the floors (sweep, swiffer, dust-bust, spot wipe). The bathroom gets a full wipe down once a week. I make my bed every single day. I Lysol wipe my trash can.Most importantly, I clean as I go. This is not a joke – this is what it takes for me to feel like a human being. And it works. If you value yourself, you should value the space you live in and treat it accordingly, don’t you think? It doesn’t have to look like Apartment Therapy is coming to take your picture any minute now, but like, don’t leave a banana peel in your bedroom trashcan for two weeks. Trust me, it makes a difference.

4. Giving Things Away
One of the things I had to learn in order to keep a clean house is how to part with the unnecessary items cluttering up my space. I live in an old apartment with exactly one closet. It’s in the kitchen. I keep my trash bins in there. I have quite a bit of space in comparison to many other New York apartments, it’s just that everything is out in the open. Add a live-in boo to the mix and I really had no excuse to hang on to those dresses I hadn’t worn in two summers, those purses I hadn’t carried since the second I got my hands on a vintage Coach, and that puffy vest from the 80s with the broken zipper that had a lot of sentimental value from the Winter of  ’07-’08 but is certainly well memorialized in pictures by now. Luckily, my friends over at North York Creative held a perfectly timed vintage bazaar of sorts last month, to which I donated a mountain of gently used items. Still, I barely even scratched the surface of my hoarding problem. I still have a long way to go, but I don’t want to throw away too much just yet. I recently figured out how to use Etsy so it’s really only a matter of time before I become the next Sophia Amoruso. Right?

5. One Word: Roku
Two words: Gilmore Girls. Three words: Man vs. Food. I could go on and on about this one. I’ve always been an avid Netflix and Hulu user, but take my dad’s old TV and a couch from my mom and the Roku Austin brought with him when he moved in and now I have a full-on common area and entertainment center where I can bask in the joys of early 2000s WB shows. Those of you who used to read this blog for the hilarious drug-fueled antics and are wondering what happened to my Crazy Clubbin’ Lifestyle, well, this is it. Also I had a full time job for a while and a boyfriend and…you know what, I don’t have to explain myself to you! This is just what I’m into now, okay? Grow up.

6. Getting a Desk
If you think you can lie completely horizontal on the couch with the TV on and a pillow behind your head and your laptop on your thighs and actually get shit done, you can’t. You are lying to yourself. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it does take a whooole lot longer. Case in point: I tried to address and personalize 75 Christmas cards last week while sitting at my coffee table watching Rory stumble through her first few weeks at Yale and it took me EIGHT HOURS to complete them. That doesn’t even make any sense! Except when you consider that I was paying probably 3/4 of my attention the show and 1/4 to the cards, and had I actually been focusing and sitting upright in a well lighted area I could have gotten them done in two hours, tops. This is what the desk is for. I can’t say I use it all the time (right now it’s covered in piles of wrapping paper and dollar store bags) but I will say, when I need to bang out a little something on the laptop it is absolutely essential to my workflow (and I just said “workflow,” so you know I mean business). This new desk was actually another hand-me-down from my brother Winston. I guess the moral of the story here, really, is stay in good with your family and eventually they will probably give you free stuff.

7. Cooking My Own Food
Let me start by saying that this is not a weight loss tip. It certainly can be – if I went to Trader Joe’s and only bought fruits and veggies and nuts and quinoa, never ordered takeout and brought my lunch to work every day I would be a skinny lady, although probably pissy and extremely bored. I envy anyone who can shove a handful of raisins in their mouth and be like “DAMN I am so full and satisfied! I’ll wait 4 hours until dinner, go home, steam some cauliflower and call it a day!” But nah. This is about being in control of what’s going in your body. I love comfort food of all types. Does it make me feel good to spend $20 and have some fried chicken with three sides delivered to my house sometimes? Yes. But it makes me (and my bank account) feel even better to figure out how fried chicken is made and to do it myself. Not every day, of course. That shit is time consuming! But there are plenty of simple ways to prepare hearty, dank-ass foods for yourself in a reasonable time frame. I haven’t had a microwave in three years, but once I learned how to use my oven, I didn’t even need or want one. Buy a couple decent pans at Deals for cheap. Go to the store and get $30 of basic groceries to last you about two weeks (veggies, a grain, some meat, garlic, olive oil, seasoning). It beats the hell out of spending $100 a week ordering food, and the act of preparing it can even help ease the stress of your day. Plus, cooking a delicious meal does incredible things for your ego. After some practice, you’ll be able to make from-scratch cookies that impress your boyfriend’s parents (“I’m domestic and creative! Approve of me!”) and maybe even come up with your own next-level recipes that put a takeout box to shame.

IMG_0522I really did make my own fried chicken

8. Drinking More Water
I was doing really well with this earlier in the year and it made a huge difference in my energy level, my mood, my skin,and my health in general. I’m currently recovering from a holiday week that consisted of mostly vodka, which is no doubt at least partly to blame for the cold/flu/bronchitis/sinus infection something-or-other I’ve been battling for the last five days. I’m feeling pretty fatigued and disgusting right now, and my vocal cords are in the morgue. So, I’m gonna drink about six glasses of water and see if it helps. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go back to sleep. Ok, let’s make this a two parter. Number 8. Water and Sleep.

9. Staying in Touch

IMG_2730A little holiday card goes a long way

This one is so, so important. In every facet of life – work, family or friends – just checking in from time to time will take you a long way. Parents deserve it because they raised you and you are an ungrateful little shit. Also, they give pretty good advice. The people you’ve worked with in the past have met new people who could give you a jumpstart on your career, but not if you never email them. And, sad to say it, but from the moment you graduate college, making friends only gets harder. Lives get more complicated, hanging out gets a little more difficult to arrange. But if someone is important to you, shouldn’t they know it? Even if it’s just a little text from time to time, or jesus, even a snapchat. If  you wanna feel really good about yourself, send a handwritten letter. When I was a little kid, my dad would point at my toothbrush every night and say “brush the ones you wanna keep!” I’ve decided to apply this logic to people in my life. “Call the ones you wanna keep.” Seems like a foolproof plan.

10. Following Those Dreams, One Step at a Time
Figuring out who you want to be is hard. When I started college, I knew I wanted to write. Having gotten some subpar grades my freshman year, I didn’t have a GPA quite high enough to be accepted into the Journalism school. I didn’t know I was interested in film or TV until my then-new friend Alex encouraged me to pursue the Media Studies major. Even after three years of study, I still didn’t know I was interested in comedy until after graduation, when I was lying depressed on the couch for the tenth day in a row and it dawned on me that I’d really enjoy making one of those shows I’d been binge watching. It took me more than six months after that to move to New York, almost a whole year after that to get my first paying job in TV, and another year after that to start taking improv and sketch writing classes in my spare time. It’s definitely been a push and pull. I hear the same thing from everyone I know who is an aspiring entertainment creative. Sometimes it feels like for every two steps forward you have to take three steps back. Trying to make a buck and follow your dreams at the same time can seem like an impossible feat. I know it feels that way for me right now. But I just have to keep going. If that means writing scripts on the weekend, blogging on the subway, taking improv classes at night and reading, watching and going to see new material and acts whenever I get a free moment, then that’s what I gotta do. 2014 wasn’t the best year ever, but it wasn’t a waste, either. Clearing the cobwebs from a lifestyle cluttered with irresponsible decisions and, well, physical mess, has helped me identify the bigger steps I need to take towards my goals and create a plan to do it. And in the process I learned some important lessons.

Believe in yourself. Respect your space. Invest in your happiness. And don’t underestimate the value of taking time to get your shit together.