10 Little Decisions That Changed My Life in 2014

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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.

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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.

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On Posting Less

9021053-abused-woman-cryingDon’t look at me. But please, don’t stop looking at me.

I’m taking sketch writing classes at Upright Citizens Brigade, and we recently wrote character sketches. The rules when writing a character sketch is you have to identify three big things: What is this character’s pure characteristic? What are they doing? And what is their point of view? As a writer, or even just as a person, it can be very distressing to not know these answers when the character in question is you.

With social media, and especially as a creative person, there’s all this pressure to be constantly presenting yourself, to keep people interested in you or some facet of what you do. A lot of the times when I’m on a sort of hiatus with certain forms of social media, or just not as present, it’s because I’m reexamining what’s important to me. I think this is happening to me now. Every few years I experience a transformation from who I was to who I will be, where I feel very detached from whatever “brand” or persona I’ve cultivated, like I’ve exhausted those ideas and I’m unimpressed with them. I figured out they didn’t work.

Part of what I struggle with during these times is that I feel like my identity is more of a mystery, that my plan is unclear and what makes me uniquely me, or rather how I would “sell myself,” is something that’s in the process of being discovered. This feeling of being unknown to yourself is very frustrating for obvious reasons. There’s a logical side in all – or most – of us that says “these things don’t matter! How you’re perceived in not who you are! If a tree falls in a forest and no one instagrams it, it still makes a sound!” but the fact is, no matter how much we scoff and roll our eyes at it, this is our world. These things do matter because everyone agrees they matter. A social construction, no matter how shallow, is still a construction within which we live. It seems like so much of the stress of dealing with things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., is being ashamed of the fact that we care at all.

When it comes to social media, or life in general, I try not to put too much pressure on myself to participate constantly or curate a specific type of content, and just do what feels right and fun. What could be more “me” than my own unique set of thoughts and aesthetic impulses? This seems in its own way like cultivating a brand or identity, but in a way that is maybe healthier and more organic. The pressure of being well received or meeting some arbitrary standard is eliminated with this approach. If only temporarily.

That’s the other half of the struggle, that this feeling of freedom typically doesn’t last, and one way or another I end up feeling the pressure to contribute, to promote myself as a being. Not necessarily to promote my work, just to create this awareness of my existence and what my life is like. Even though sometimes not participating, not having anything to contribute or desiring to be a part of the conversation may be this perfectly healthy thing I need to experience, I end up feeling like I’m being left out. As though people will forget about me, or there’s some big world I’m not a part of, or the trajectory of my life success is somehow dependent on the traffic I generate from random updates on my daily life. But inevitably, when I am participating, the attention falls into this bottomless pit, and I ultimately feel unsatisfied yet crave more of the same.

I don’t mean to discredit the value of promoting oneself and skills, but for me its important to recognize it as a means to an end. It’s all fine and good if you want to be famous for being famous, get attention for attention’s sake. That concept is such an interesting phenomenon that’s really taken off in our lifetime, and it’s somehow so attractive, even in its lack of depth. But that’s not what I’m interested in attaining. The real work I’m interested in doing is done privately, for the most part, with the intent of creating a finished product. And if that product is not getting created, should it really matter if anyone’s paying attention? The same logic could be applied to finding out who you are, to living your life. Shouldn’t the experience of it all matter more than its presentation? Can the two ever really be simultaneous if every time we’re facing straight ahead we’re looking into our selfie camera?

I’m not nostalgic for the way things used to be. I can barely even remember things being different, and I assume every generation has had their own struggle with image consciousness, remaining in the moment, making choices in how to perform their identity. Who can blame any of us? I guess it comes down to a few things: self-esteem, mortality, the feeling that relevance is somehow correlational to worth, and the idea that “someone saw me, someone heard me, so I was here.” I’d like to learn to appreciate the value of being the only one to experience a moment when it happens. And anyhow, I could always tell a story about it later.

(Copied from my journal. Because I really can’t keep anything to myself, can I?)

Fake Housewife in New Jersey (and, ultimately, Queens)

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Last we spoke I was near-homeless and knee-deep in the bullshit of finding a new apartment. In the past six weeks, while lying to you about possible blog updates (I prefer to think of it as “teasing”) I managed to snag a place, find a roommate, and embark upon the treacherous journey that is Moving and Decorating in New York. But first, I partied.

After dying my hair black and appropriately deciding to fill in my eyebrows the same color every day, it was only natural that I release my inner Italian Housewife (I’m 0% Italian, but who’s counting) and give in to that overwhelming urge to visit New Jersey that I’ve been suppressing all my life. That’s right–I’d been living in Brooklyn for almost two years and had not yet set foot in the state too good to pump its own gas. By now, it was eating away at my soul. If I didn’t get to Jersey soon I was sure I’d be consumed by a FOMO so strong it would make even the toughest steroid-free Guido shed a tear.

Truthfully I had never considered going to Jersey because I never had a good reason, until my good friend Steph invited me to her old stomping grounds, Morristown, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Even though I should have been looking for apartments and preparing to move out in 14 days it felt like I didn’t have that good of a reason to say no, so I agreed to venture west (east? south? Where TF is Jersey anyway?) on the NJ transit with a backpack full of bronzer, body glitter and a green feather boa that kept getting stuck in the zipper.

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New Jersey! It’s just like us! I went to college in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a small town with cute little main streets sprinkled with bars that on holidays become infested with hoards of inebriated youths. To really make it feel like an authentic college experience, the first bouncer I encountered declared my out of state ID a fake and threatened to take it and call the cops. At first I thought he was flattering me–didn’t he notice that faint wrinkle between my 24-year-old eyebrows that I’ve been hallucinating lately? But alas, we were forced to cut our losses and walk 12 whole feet to enter an identical establishment across the street.

Three beers, two jello shots, a series of Fireball shots and a lethal amount of EDM later, I found myself wandering the streets of Morristown alone. At one point I climbed a fire escape and was escorted down by the cops (luckily they were everywhere that night to protect me from myself). Steph found me in a Blimpie, some blocks away from our original location, shamelessly eating a footlong around 2 AM. The next morning we had burgers and disco fries for breakfast and Cold Stone for lunch. I decided New Jersey agrees with me, as does any place that encourages mass consumption of junk food and alcohol. America: I like it.

When I returned to the city it was back to my search for a hidden paradise in a sea of shitass craigslist posts. I was sifting through ads during down time at work when my old roommate, Natalia, sent me a link to a 2BR apartment in Ridgewood, newly renovated, with a backyard and everything. The price was right, the location was right, the size was right…all I had to do was sign a lease and find a roommate. That night I visited two apartments: one, for the same price, was in Bushwick proper and about the size of a shoebox. The other is the one I now call home. I signed an application in the rain outside of a Chase bank at 10 PM, and went home to “celebrate,” that is, eat a burrito in bed.

With the move-in date looming and one empty room to fill, I continued to pour my desperate heart out on facebook and craigslist, imploring people to give me their money, live with my cats and stay out of my face. At the last possible second, the time it seems everything tends to happen in New York whether it be finding a job, a place or a will to live, I received a craigslist email from the perfect candidate: a wine retailer from, of all places, Chapel fucking Hill.

Then came the challenge of decorating. Since my friends Beth and Megan’s housewarming party in their adorable, gigantic, affordable Bushwick 2BR where I overheard every guest whispering plans to murder them both and steal their digs, it has become my mission to adorn my dwelling in such a way that not only pleases me aesthetically but also fills my loved ones with such jealousy that they must fight the urge to end my life then methodically dispose of my body and take my place.

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April has come and gone, spring is technically here, and so far I have done my best to settle in. Between an endless series of nightmare-inducing phone calls to various utility companies (seriously, endless. I have to call Verizon again tomorrow), my improv classes at Upright Citizens Brigade (I started again!), and my actual job, I’ve managed to paint two rooms, get furniture, electricity and wifi in all of them, gas on my stove, hot water in my shower, holes filled in my floors, a freakin television with actual surround sound (!!!), and a few shreds of my sanity back one day at a time. And I could never have done it alone. From Winston and Reid helping me load and unload a Uhaul in the rain and record time, to Hannah teaching me in the middle of the night how to paint a room, to my dad driving a trailer full of furniture all the way up the east coast with his brand new puppy in tow, not to mention Natalia finding this apartment online in the first place…this was not a feat I recommend for those with shallow pockets who walk alone.

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To find out who your real fans are, see how many of them still read your blog after you don’t post for six weeks. To find out who your real friends are, move.

 

(W)INTERNET INSANITY

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“Everything is going to be okay,” I’ve been saying on repeat. To myself, to other people, to stray cats, to no one in particular. Every year this happens, so it should come as no surprise. I have never ever been a winter person. I keep thinking it will change, that one of these Christmases will just be so spectacular that I am fully energized to take on the next year’s goals and resolutions with the gumption they deserve, all polar vortexes be damned. Despite the evident awesomeness that was my 2013 holiday season I can’t seem to resist the dark temptation to emotionally self indulge.

It happened a lot in college. When I wasn’t working on papers or in retail with no access to my phone, I would sit in my room bored out of my mind refreshing facebook over and over. There may not have been anything good on the internet, I thought, but I was going to waste my time with it anyway. And what would come of this? Not much, except longform analyses of every other person’s instagrams and tweets and profile pictures, and then my instagrams and tweets and profile pictures, and then their worth (calculated using an algorithm based on average likes, followers, and how much I happen to envy them), and then my self worth (which of course could never compete). The next thing I knew it’d be 3 in the morning, the skin on the inside of my bottom lip would be rough from gnawing nervously as I spiraled deeper and deeper into an identity crisis–a crisis based on identities with no inherent truth or validity, mere projections of aspiration and constructed self image–at a speed so seemingly beyond my control it would begin to snowball into a fully formed depression.

Will I ever be as popular as her?
Will I ever have someone like him?
Who am I really? URLy? IRLy?
What is my value as a human being? Physical, spiritual, virtual?
Will anyone ever appreciate me at the level I need?
Why do I need it? Am I weaker than other people?

And this was before I had a smartphone. Imagine my chagrin years later, while isolating myself from the cold, to find myself in the same vortex of self doubt.

Truthfully, social media statistics are just a glorified version of high school yearbook superlatives socially accepted by adults. I frequently make the argument that who we are on the internet is no less genuine than the identity we construct in the physical world. To draw an inequality is to place too much inherent value on “the identity” itself, something that while we each cling to it for survival in a modern society, while we were raised as millennials to believe that each and every one of us is special and unique and important in a way that has never before existed, while fashion and music and the food we eat feel like an outward expression of an internal truth, is merely a combination of options that have been decided for us from an incomprehensibly intricate social construction. How can the clothes that I wear and the words that I say and the people I consort with in the physical world be considered any more valuable than their virtual counterparts? The way that I look in person isn’t any more real than online (photoshop? makeup? plastic surgery? haircuts? the infinite ways I could choose to dress myself?). I have “known” people for years in strictly offline relationships that have never come close to the intimacy I have achieved with some online. The internet is as real as reality, people, which is to say, not at all.

There is quite a bit to be said for physical contact, though, isn’t there. Being able to touch the person you love and physically experience them is something technology has not quite been able to accurately simulate and a luxury I certainly long for every day in my long distance relationship. While I can place myself mentally miles away by digitally engaging 24/7 with people in another city (and I do), I cannot be satiated, cannot rest assured that I have not missed anything, cannot drift to sleep without a palpable loneliness and two burning retinas from staring at screens. What I do have that I don’t in “real life,” is the ability to stare at what I wish I had, who and where I wish I were, all day every day until I have ignored my physical life so successfully that I don’t even know how to go to the bathroom anymore without my phone much less carry on a conversation.

I appreciate everything technology has afforded me, but maybe I should take a step back. In high school I deleted AIM off my computer because I was unable to focus on anything but the alert sound I had set for my crush, and it was the best choice I could have made for myself. I focused on schoolwork, I made art in my spare time. Then Facebook came along and ruined all of that AND gave me access to the personal information of every person that has ever dated anyone I’ve ever liked.

I compare myself to my friends a lot too. I asked Alex how he was getting so many facebook likes on his most recent blog post (you know, aside from the fact that it’s great) and he was like “Take a look, I have far more friends than you. They’re coming out of the woodwork! I never delete.” I do delete. Until recently I was a big fan of the delete. Why would I want to afford a person access to my life if it serves me no benefit? Ah, yes, the curse of self-promotion. Or another I’ve been experiencing lately, the curse of the NEED TO KNOW. You know the Need to Know curse. A girl you don’t like lurks your boyfriend…her face and her words make you uneasy and defensive…passive aggression rules all of your interactions. There’s no reason for you stay connected to this person other than to “keep tabs on them,” or, more accurately, to feel bad about yourself. It’s Media Masochism at its finest, and what’s more, it says a whole hell of a lot about your trust issues, your level of self esteem, and in my case, a lot about how, despite my attempts to progress, I still partake in the patriarchal construct of a necessity for competition between women.

I want to be stronger. I want to ascend to a level of comfort with all my identities and lack thereof, namely the still fetal relationship I have with myself that I go to bed with every night and wake up with every morning. I want to be comfortable alone, in this physical space right here and right now. I want to look forward and face the fucking snow even though I hate it so much and remember that there will be a Spring, there will be a Summer, and that a time will come where I rise to the level of success and popularity and appreciation that I think I deserve.

And most of all, I want to remember that it all means nothing unless I can truly love my Self. In all its forms.

It’s The Little Swags

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When I feel like I haven’t done anything blog-worthy in recent history, I usually like to go through the photos on my phone and figure out what exactly I have been doing. According to the last month’s worth of jpegs, 98% of it has been taking pictures of my butt. The rest showed a series of small joys in a phase defined solely by my work schedule and my lack of energy to do anything else (not a great feeling).
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I wonder if 24 is the last acceptable year for one’s greatest pleasure to be trans fats before they’re to be held accountable for their assumed knowledge of basic health and dietary standards. Possibly. There’s some obvious irony in the fact that I was a vegetarian for 4 years and even worked at a health food store, and that now if it doesn’t come in a box with a side of ketchup I’m probably not that stoked to eat it. I have a lot of theories about the correlation between poor nutrition as a novelty and the listless anti-intellectualism in post-“yes we can” America but I won’t get into that. Maybe someday I’ll write a book called The Politics of Dietary Yoloing. Anyway, I eat Mcdonalds. And I recently had a Slim Jim for the first time since senior year of high school and I could swear I saw God’s vagina. My mother also sent me a gigantic box of Welch’s Fruit Snacks, something I used to refuse to eat due to their gelatin content, but it turns out they’re pretty delicious. What is wrong with me? Is out of sight, out of mind my new food philosophy? Have I become so distracted with the stresses of the workday that my only emotional release is in the consumption of animal byproduct and MSG? There’s a reason Meat Cat came to Liz Lemon in a dream.
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Since all my friends here have similar schedules, sometimes we don’t see each other for a while. The glory of social media has allowed many of my most treasured interactions to be with people hundreds of miles away, like writing with Alex over google hangout, texting Patrick about our post-ironic suburban ex-pat suicidal tendencies, or getting snapchats from my favorite friend I’ve never met Patrickthepuma (what’s his real name again?)

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When I’m bored and alone and have no one to textflirt with (which hasn’t been the case for a few weeks now, in the interest of Minimum Disclosure) sometimes I check my Ok Cupid messages, but I rarely find anything more romantically viable than interactions like these.

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If Dating Site Humor is something that strikes yer fancy, you should check out my cool friend Matt Starr’s Tinder Art. I actually met him on the app when he offered to make me a new profile picture for Facebook, that ended up looking like this.

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The art I’ve been working on has been a performance project called Morale and Survival, where I attempt to find a will to live in sporadic sobriety and mid-week overcaffeination. It’s hardly worked, so I’ve been finding external pleasures like this screenshot collage I made in the middle of the night of one of my depressing tweets, and ordering chicken and waffles at work.

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Since I usually try to write about partying and how much fun I’m constantly having, we can’t forget about Halloween. As usual, I was unprepared for the celebration, sitting on a set of half-baked costume ideas. That was, until the day before when I was wandering through Party Fair at closing time and found this gem for 14.99. A sign from the pimp gods, just for me. I would greet the world on Hallow’s Eve as a manifestation of Swag (pictured at top). Timely, appropriate, and with much reusability. Hannah’s last minute idea was Xtina circa the Dirrrty video, and with the help of my bronzer and a Juicy Couture bathing suit skirt I got a Belk’s in 2008 (idkkkk??) I think she pulled it off quite nicely. As it was a weeknight, the plan was to be home before 2 am. I actually was, but because I hadn’t been drinking for a few weeks I was also blackout. Hannah had to tuck me in bed and set my alarms for me, and the following workday was not a pretty picture whatsoever.
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Perhaps it was my consistent high stress level or the unplanned drunkenness but the next week I was consumed with an ear ache and a high fever for three days. I went to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist who removed hard rocks of wax from my ear and gave me a Nasonex prescription before sending me home with a fever of 101. There is nothing I hate more than trying to traverse this city alone with an illness, then returning home to work remotely while trying not to barf on my compy. My only pleasures that week were in the wonton soup delivery from Shen Zhou, and the Papa John’s pizza sent to me by my friend Sawyer, all the way from NC. In Grub We Trust, y’all.
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Earlier this week, in celebration of the end of mercury retrograde and my dedication to spending the next year of my life in pursuit of my ~true passions~, I decided to get a pretty and kind of stupid tattoo (In the words of John Waters, sometimes stupid and cute /are/ enough). I went with Hannah to Morning Star tattoo on Wyckoff in Bushwick, where the metal is good (if you’re into that sort of thing) and the boys are rly rly cute. I got the letters “nsfw” for obvious reasons, and Hannah got some script in French that she has yet to instagram because idk y.
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That brings me to a total of three tattoos: a cat, “whatever,” and “nsfw.” And sitting here typing this at my office desk, I don’t think they could be more accurate.

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some the wiser

IMG_1719The morning after I turned 24 my extensions had turned against me.

Autumns are always a little rough for me. My birthday is in September, which never fails to put me in an existential haze. And no matter how many years I’ve been out of school (three) that feeling of starting a new grade never fully goes away. I start to feel the weight of a change beyond my control. Who was I, who am I, does it really matter… Everything Old starts to die to make room for something New. But that can be beautiful, or so they say.

The week of my 24th birthday was the usual mix of celebration and apprehension, with a short congratulatory period pancaking to an idle anxiety. Sure, I’d accomplished some things in the past year. But what would I do next? I was back on the job hunt, newly single, another year older and this was all sounding far too familiar…

The seasons were refusing to change. I was refusing to stop using my air conditioning. Other people’s lives were advancing all around me and the most exciting things that had happened in my life recently were that my mother had sent me a care package of Kraft mac n cheese and I got a membership at Planet Fitness (a contradiction not lost on me but in fact one that I find representative of my life philosophy. Everything in moderation, sure, but still everything I want). With more time to myself, that is, less time working, I started working out. I realized I was in better shape than I’d thought, and that running is a good way to take out aggression. Plus it burns off the booze! I guess I always knew these things, but if you remember me before I moved to NYC you know I couldn’t run a mile without my heart nearly exploding from my thoracic cavity (I found that word on wikipedia. Did I use it right? I’m not a scientist.) Now I can run like two miles while sexting and still have the energy to masturbate in the shower after. I’m a regular Florence Griffith Joyner.

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OK, so maybe not. But I still consider it an accomplishment. Let me have this, okay?

Somewhere around the end of last month, Alex and I fell into a lull on our Big Project, the ever-dreaded Writer’s Paralysis leading us both to send each other terribly transparent, self-deprecating gchats from our respective caves of neuroses. I had become pretty irritable by this point, but I think that had something to do with PMS, and as much as I love her, probably something to do with my mom coming to stay the weekend at the end of September. My lack of patience is still something I really need to work on, especially when it comes to someone who does so much for me. I mean, she birthed me, and even though I didn’t deserve it, she bought me these cool knock-off crocs.
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Susan Miller gave us fair warning that October would be rife with hurdles, disappointments, or possibly blessings disguised as the worst fucking thing that ever happened. The jury is still out on the blessings part, but I felt the tension in the air from the very beginning. Granted, I always feel tension at the first of the month because the words “rent day” and “freelancing” go together about as well as Virgo and Aries (that one’s for you, Susan). This time, I had a lot to look forward to, thus a lot of planning and stressing. With grand plans come great expectations and I have to be prepared for every possible outcome.

Every fall (as in twice so far), Sarah Sassafrass, Jeffrey Scott, and Justin aka Boy Reverend come visit me for a handful of days. They’re my fam away from fam, my Team outside of Big Things. When they visited last year, I had the cheapest mattress from Ikea lying directly on my floor, we made a huge mess, and because I started a new job that weekend we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I’d hoped. This time I had the Ikea mattress on an Ikea bed, fun things scheduled for every night of their visit, and I told them to bring they own damn towels. The Monday before they arrived I was feeling equipped for a houseful of guests, but I still didn’t have a job. So I looked on craigslist, found a post I liked for a development associate position at a production company, and applied. I interviewed Wednesday and I felt good about it, but hey, I’d been wrong before. I didn’t hear back the next day, so I decided to say “fucket yolo” and go to Hannah’s salon to get my hair texturized.

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It’s always a sight for sore eyes when I see those colorful heads of hair standing at the Starbucks across from the Megabus stop. I was feeling ready to party, we went home and changed for some party, prepared to deal with the continued hiatus of the L train. After drinking at Winston’s until about 1 am and getting a belated birthday present from Sass (a collar that says BITCH), we thought we’d finally hit the street. A walk, a wait, two trains, and another walk later, we arrived at the location of the party, only to see that…it wasn’t there. We had the address right. We were standing in front of it. But the doors were shut and there was no one inside, as far as we could tell. Bummed, drunk, and weirded out, we headed to The Woods to drown our defeat in pickleback shots, but not before seeing who I was pret-ty sure was Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development fame scurrying down the street ahead of us. Despite my confusion at how I always end up at this bar and that I was convinced something must be wrong with me, we actually had a pretty decent two hours. We closed the place down and it was the first time I publicly made out with a stranger since being single. It was not as fun as it sounds. But there was a dog in the bar, so it all came out in the wash, I guess.

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Hannah didn’t realize until much later that that was not her boyfriend.

That Friday was a huge milestone for the closet comedy nerd inside me. I had my first improv class at Upright Citizens Brigade, and at 400 bucks a course, this is no small feat. UCB has been a launch pad for many of your favs, and even though it may not be at the top of my Life Goals List to be on Saturday Night Live, I’d probably rank it somewhere in the top 100. But really, as a writer with a “performance background” it’s pretty much always been a dream of mine. So when I went to the training center at 3:30 for my three hour class, I was a little bit nervous. About as nervous as I was this time last year about my topless gogo dancing casting call, that is to say, I felt awkward for about five minutes before breaking the ice and flirting with all the girls. Of course, about halfway through the course I got a call back about that position I interviewed for. I had gotten the job. Yay! But there was just one catch. No! I’d have to be available every day until 6:30 and continuing the class at UCB at this time was a no-go. Fuuuuuck. Of course, I took the job with only slight hesitation, switched out of my UCB class and bore the fees I incurred with gritted teeth.

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That night, after buying some new accessories ^ at Patricia Field, I had Jeff dress me in my look for a night at Bossa Nova (the photos of which you will see next year sometime because it takes Sarah that long to edit them, ahem)

Every part of the weekend that I wasn’t in FULL LOOK from head to toe per Jeff’s insistence, I was lounging in bed, moaning off hangovers. We pretty much only got up to eat Popeye’s and go shopping on Knickerbocker, where I showed the gang what Bushwick life is really like, and where Sarah almost shat her pants. My favorite find of the day, and the only thing I could afford, was a teeny tiny “nurses outfit” in the Halloween costume sale section of Shopper’s World, that was really more like a nurse’s bra and slutty nurse’s mini skirt…they wear those in the ER, right? After getting drunk on Evan Williams and sending some of the best sexy photos I’ve ever taken of myself, we went to Passion Lounge for the marriage of Ultra Velvet and Shock Value.  Obviously the whole thing was great until the next morning, when our fish bowled brains had shriveled to raisins and I found a twitter mention from a hater calling me a whore. Sometimes it’s hard being a star.

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Because I had scurried over to my ex’s house that night (in a bikini top and socks with my shoes in hand…let’s not talk about it) I spent the next day blazed, walking around in an oversized boy’s t-shirt, a leather peplum, and arch-splitting heels that I couldn’t take off for the sake of The Look. The only saving grace of the entire day, besides waiting in line for 30 minutes to use a piss-stained Starbucks bathroom of course, was the kielbasa sandwich I devoured at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village. It made me glad to be an EX-vegetarian (a refreshing break from kinda feeling guilty all of the time), and made me miss the kolbász my Hungarian gramma used to put in our kapusta. I tried to make a vegan version of this once and it came out SO abominably terrible I felt I’d disgraced my ancestors and vowed never to try it again.

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After not being able to sleep at all before my first day at work, I spent 8 hours staring into my computer screen like a fool and then scurried home for my last night with my visitors. I’d looked like a bucket of horse manure all fucking day but I had also promised myself that I’d have Sarah take my Christmas card pictures with Kos n Gon before she left (I plan on being an adult this year and letting other adults know, namely my family, that I am not an ungrateful, useless person that forgot about them when I moved to the Big City). After achieving some spectacular results that I wish I could show you but won’t, the four of us sat in bed with Gonny, ate two pizzas and watched Clueless. In typical fucking fashion.

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All that week it was work, work, work, dates, dates, dates. Including my first ever Tinder date, a concept that both excited and terrified me. I love sexxxting and meeting new people and talking about myself and eating fried chicken with strangers so you’d THINK dating would be my thing but truthfully, I’d only gone on one blind date in all my years of having Facebook, Twitter, OKcupid, and access to other people’s Grindr accounts. The first guy hit me up on Twitter, turned out to be a complete psycho and put me off the whole idea for a while. Until Tinder came along and I made it my personal mission to slide the entire city of New York to the left. The way I see it with these things, someone is only safe to approach if their profile appears self deprecating, effortlessly ironic, or no-fucks-given to a strong degree. I think it was Groucho Marx that said “I wouldn’t fuck anyone from a social network that would have someone like me for a member,” to paraphrase. Anyway, I had an amazing time. I got free Pies N Thighs, and shocked myself with my ability to have a great time while completely sober with a guy who doesn’t drink. Weird, right? (Yes)

By the weekend, I realized I’d spent all my free time in the last 7 days either naked or in belly shirts, so the stress must have been good for my figure. I’d been sustaining on dick pics and Miller High Life (cause that’s all I could afford) and I thought I looked just great, which is why I was AGHAST that PaperMag put up a picture of me from last Friday’s Ultra Velvet looking like a toothless hillbilly. IRL I looked spooky and swagadocious and the paparazzi just caught me at a bad time. The perils of fame, y’all.

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Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 9.53.38 PMWho needs a jack o lantern?

That Saturday, after emptying my pockets on a prix fixe brunch, reeling off of one bong rip and watching straight boys play GTA,  I decided to get my look together for Kelela at 285. We pregamed at Moe’s and I ate free pizza while annoying, if cute, Australian boys argued with my concept of society. After trying to run away from them on the street, failing and feeling kinda bad afterward, we ended up at 285. The thing about 285 Kent: the inevitable sighting of the boy you do not want see, followed by the boy you kinda really wanna see. Both are disconcerting, and by 3:45 when Kelela left the stage I was overstimulated and ready to die.  But the night wasn’t a total loss. The music was amazing as expected, I spent the night in Reid’s bed after he paid for all my drinks, and at some point I took a selfie with a golden retriever.

IMG_1529_2The next morning, even though I found myself gnawing on slim jim and watching the Kardashians as usual, I felt like something had changed. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t really had that much to drink the night before. Maybe it was watching the leaves blow across the parking lot of the food bazaar. The air tasted different. Did I feel capable? Hopeful? Maybe I could act like a teenager and still get things done. Maybe I could be free but not lonely. Nope, as I walked down Irving avenue towards my apartment, I realized it was just autumn. I was still poor, I was still confused. I’d taken two steps forward and a five picklebacks. But hey, I was still alive. And idk, maybe I was ready to write again.