The Stages of Hosting Tourists in Your New York Apartment

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You may find yourself hiding in the bathroom around Stage 6.  (Art by Thrashley!)

New York apartments are tiny. Everyone knows this. But because we live in the greatest city ever (objectively‚Ää‚ÄĒ‚Ääno input required, thanks!) people from our hometowns always want to come stay with us. As transplants, we were in their shoes once. We probably wouldn‚Äôt be here if it weren‚Äôt for the couch-lenders of our pasts. And so we pay it forward. It‚Äôs just what you do. Hotels cost too much.

There are several stages to every guest visit you will experience as a New York host. It is important to be aware of them so that when they occur, you know you are not a bad friend, cousin, daughter, or ex-coworker. Before we get started, you must remember: no matter how close you are with someone, all people have the capacity to be annoying. There are no exceptions.

Let’s begin.

The Stages of Hosting Tourists in Your New York Apartment

Stage 1: The Guilty Acquiescence

Your friend has just texted ‚ÄúHey I‚Äôm coming up in 2 weeks! Can I stay with you?‚ÄĚ and while that may be enough time to physically prepare, it is not enough to prepare emotionally for the amount of energy this is going to suck out of you. You miss your friend very much, but you remember the last time you had long-term visitors‚Ķthat stain in the rug never did come out. Your first instinct is to say no. You want to tell them if they can‚Äôt afford to stay in a hotel then they just shouldn‚Äôt come to New York, but you know that is heartless and unreasonable, so you say yes. You begin resenting them prematurely for their week of free lodging, in your home for which you pay $60/day.

Stage 2: The Planning Stage

You‚Äôre starting to get excited about your friend‚Äôs visit. It‚Äôs been a while since you‚Äôve seen them, or any friends for that matter, since you spend all your time working to afford to live here and ‚Äúmake your dreams come true,‚ÄĚ whatever that means anymore. And when you‚Äôre not doing that, you‚Äôre sleeping. It‚Äôs not the City That Never Sleeps for the people who live here, ok? We have jobs. Anyway, in anticipation of your annual social interaction you start picking out the best restaurants, stores, sights, and activities you would never do with your city friends because no one‚Äôs schedule matches up, but that you want to make it seem like you do all the time. You start frantically googling ‚Äúbest rooftop pools‚ÄĚ and pumping air into your bike tires. This is gonna be really fun!

Stage 3: The Prepping Stage

Not to be confused with the planning stage, the prepping stage is when you attempt to get your life together at the very last minute so that somehow, some way, you can find room for another person in it. You vacuum the rug, you wash your sheets (even though you‚Äôre just going to have to wash them again in a few days), and play Tetris with your furniture to figure out where the hell you‚Äôre going to put an air mattress. All miscellaneous items get stuffed into the back of your closet, if you‚Äôre lucky enough to have one. The OCD you‚Äôve developed from living in tiny, mess-prone apartments starts to flare up, and you have to remind yourself that it‚Äôs only temporary, that you will only be without a walking path between the kitchen and the bathroom for a few days, and that most likely no one is going to step on your cat when they get up to pee in the night. At the very least, you reassure yourself, you will only have to tell your guest once that there are NO shoes allowed in the house, and that won‚Äôt be a problem because surely your friends are adults who don‚Äôt lose all sense of social norms the second they go on vacation. Right? You spend two whole days debating which would be less stress-inducing: giving your guest a key and trusting them to lock up your place which will definitely get robbed if they forget, OR waking up at dawn to let them in after nights of partying and forcing them to leave the house when you go to work. Speaking of work, you‚Äôre still trying to figure out what exactly they should do with themselves when their plane arrives smack in the middle of a workday. ‚ÄúTake a Lyft to my house. Not a cab, a Lyft. I will meet you there.‚ÄĚ You request to leave work a few hours early.

Stage 4: The Party Stage

Your guest will be so excited to arrive that they won‚Äôt unpack any of their things at first, much to your relief. You set their suitcase in the corner of the room and let them gush about how cute your apartment is while you over-apologize for its small size and lack of amenities. They think you‚Äôre crazy because you have a decent apartment in‚Ää‚ÄĒ‚Ääagain¬≠¬≠¬≠¬≠‚Ää‚ÄĒ‚Ääthe greatest city literally ever, so you have nothing to be sorry for! You start to feel pretty good about yourself, and realize yeah, you are kind of living the dream. You have something to offer! You crack open the bottle of vodka you purchased just for this moment, and drink cocktails while catching up in your fabulous home. You have dinner at the trendy restaurant you reserved, then go out for more drinks and maybe hit a club or two. You hardly even go to clubs anymore because those got old really fast, but all the stereotypical, silly BS about your city has just become interesting and fun again. Your guest‚Äôs innocence has already rubbed off on you and you make some ill-advised decisions. Why are you on the subway with a group of strangers at 4AM heading the opposite direction of your apartment? It feels like that first month after you moved here all over again, when anything was possible. But you already know how that story ends, which brings us to our next stage.

Stage 5: Pushing Your Physical Limits

Now comes the hangover, but it‚Äôs not the kind where you can stay in and watch cable and order Chinese. Nope! Your guest doesn‚Äôt want to waste their precious vacation time. You‚Äôve got sights to see and desserts to wait on line for, and more shopping and museums than you thought one person could absorb in a matter of days. You‚Äôre suddenly regretting all those attractions you bragged about over the phone but you know it would be wrong to try and talk them out of it, so you take one for the team. On less than 5 hours of sleep, you put on your best outfit and a full face of makeup, because ‚Äúsightseeing‚ÄĚ is just a another word for ‚Äúphotoshoot on location.‚ÄĚ You then walk no less than 14 miles around the city you claim to love so much while trying not to complain. In truth, you‚Äôre seeing parts of town you wouldn‚Äôt otherwise, and you feel good about not wasting your weekend inside on your couch. You just wish you didn‚Äôt feel so shitty for all of it.

Stage 6: Wits End

By this point you‚Äôre personally done with drinking. You‚Äôll have to go back to work soon if you haven‚Äôt already and this lifestyle is not going to cut it. Your guest has totally abandoned the fa√ßade of politeness they presented when they first got here, and now their shit is absolutely everywhere. God forbid the visitor is your sister or best friend, or they‚Äôve been rummaging through your stuff too, and now there‚Äôs no telling where theirs ends and yours begins. You‚Äôre going to have a rage stroke if someone uses another one of your god damn towels. The garbage is overflowing and everything smells like cigarette smoke (they can afford to still be smokers because the packs in their town cost less than $14). You‚Äôre exhausted and they‚Äôve been here a while, so you ask as politely as possible if they might want to do their own thing for the last day. But it comes out more like, ‚ÄúI honestly don‚Äôt have time for this, or for that matter, any money left. So how about you do you and just buzz me when you need to get in, ok? Oh and for the 50th time, can you PLEASE take your shoes off? I‚Äôm sorry I‚Äôm just so tired.‚ÄĚ

Stage 7: The Goodbye Stage

Somehow, after spending what felt like months overrunning your personal space, your guest is able to fit their belongings back into their bags. You didn‚Äôt even notice them packing because you were still asleep. For some reason, every time anyone visits New York they leave on an 8AM flight, which means they have to leave your house, that is, wake you up, at the ass-crack of dawn to say goodbye. You put on your slippers, walk their suitcases down the stairs, and wait with them in the vestibule for their Lyft which will take 15 minutes or some equally ungodly amount of time to arrive. You hug your guest and wish them safe travels. You tell them you hope they had a wonderful visit and to ‚Äúcome back any time, really‚ÄĚ though that last part doesn‚Äôt sound very convincing through your yawn. You go back to bed, and when you wake up they‚Äôre gone. It‚Äôs like they were never here, except that they used all your fucking toilet paper. And then you miss them. You realize how much having them here really grounded you and reminded you of your past. You feel a little empty inside without them.

Stage 8: Recovery

As you slide back into your daily routine and stretch out into your personal space again, you can finally breathe and reflect on all the fun you‚Äôve had. You post pictures on social media to show everyone how effortless and carefree it all was. You do your laundry, clean your floors, ignore your bank account. Finally, you text your guest that you miss them already. ‚ÄúNext time,‚ÄĚ you say, ‚ÄúI‚Äôll come to you.‚ÄĚ

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If you grew up in the ‘burbs, this Tumblr will speak to your soul

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Pic: McMansion Hell

People, I am beside myself.

As y’all know, I work in operations at a design studio. Usually the things my coworkers share on our #random Slack channel are technology related (and thus completely over my head) or super played out memes I’ve already seen during the 90% of my life that I spend on social media.

But when the glory that is McMansionHell.com hit the thread I was truly floored and given no choice but to share it with literally everyone I know. McMansions (n.) can best be described as the gaudy, humongous, oft cheaply¬†constructed and illogically designed homes built around the turn of the millennium for the now defunct “Upper Middle Class” to feign opulence to their surrounding suburban neighbors. As the blog beautifully puts it, they are the ‚Äúknockoff bags of architecture.‚ÄĚ

When the bubble burst, many of these homes were either repossessed or put up for sale by their recession-hit owners. McMansion Hell is a blog that takes photos of the worst of these monstrosities from real estate websites like Zillow, and explains in perfect comedic tone the blatant architectural failures of each room in the home. The writer, Kate, is originally from North Carolina (right?) and really knows what she’s talking about, presumably in part because these thangs are ALL OVER THE FREAKIN’ PLACE in our home state.

As someone who lived in a McMansion for the whole of my teenage years‚Äďand returned for the holidays up until¬†a few¬†months ago when my combined family finally split up and flipped that thing to the highest bidder‚Äďthis blog speaks to my deepest embarrassments and confusion about the world in which I came of age, and about the people who conceived of it.

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Pic: McMansion Hell

My mother and father divorced when I was 4, and if you count each of their respective residences, I lived in a total of 8 homes before graduating high school. Since each¬†household was supported by a single-parent breadwinner, it’s safe to say that the first 7 of them were…comfortable. Even nice, in the way middle class subdivisions were in the 90s, before everything started dropping into foreclosure like flies. Not really boastful or flashy, but a nice, safe¬†place for kids to grow up.

From ‚Äė94 to ‚Äė99, my mother, two of my brothers and I lived in a nice little neighborhood called Lake Moor in Garner, North Carolina. Garner wasn’t exactly a town known for its wealth per capita, but Lake Moor was one of the nicer spots in the area. It was the kind of place where, at least it seemed, you could let your kids roam around on bikes unsupervised, down the paved trails in the woods to throw rocks in Lake Benson, never giving it a second thought that they‚Äôd be kidnapped or hit by a truck. There was even a community¬†pool with a vending machine that sold BRISK Iced Tea for $0.60 a can and playground that only left you with splinters 90% of the time. Luxury, indeed. ¬†

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^See, fairly normal suburban whatever-house. There used to be a third tree in that patch¬†but it fell during hurricane Fran. I remember because the next day when I was¬†climbing on it a yellow jacket stung the back of my leg. But this isn’t about Fran¬†this is about a house that I remember being much bigger than this! Turns out I was just smaller than I am now! Science is crazy.

My favorite thing as a child¬†was to play pretend, specifically as a princess. ¬†As many of you know, I still do this today and it can be very annoying. But as a kid, it was quite cute. I had a canopy bed and all white furniture with brass plated¬†detailing typical of a 90s girl‚Äôs room. I’d tap around¬†the foyer of our house¬†in my shiny black Sunday shoes and polyester slips believing I was Cinderella or whomever I wanted to embody that day. My mother’s taste in furniture was grand and traditional, dark cherry woods that, when I slid the fingers of my white gloves across them, made me feel like Anastasia. Outside, I‚Äôd play with my dog in the overgrown cattails by the pond and talk to myself, like the tomboy alter ego of any fairy tale protagonist. But inside, I would put on a toy tiara and sneak into my mom‚Äôs china cabinet to play with her silver. We didn‚Äôt live in a McMansion just yet, but the details were there. The aspiration was there. To me, it always felt like pretend. And I guess it was supposed to.¬†

It’s normal for kids to¬†idolize those who have more than they do. Adults, too. And to the untrained eye, bigger + crazier + vague references to lavishness of yore¬†= wealth. On summer days, my brother Winston and I used to rollerblade down to the neighborhood‚Äôs one local McMansion, which at the time we just referred to as ‚ÄúThe Mansion,‚ÄĚ and we‚Äôd gawk at how official it looked. To us, it was basically the White House. Who lived there, we wondered? They must be famous! Remember, this house was in Garner, North Carolina. Probably not a half mile from our own. No…looking back, I don‚Äôt think anyone ‚Äúfamous‚ÄĚ lived there. We were young.

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^McMansion AF,¬†you guys! For some reason I remember there being a gate at the beginning of this driveway but that would be¬†literally nuts, wouldn’t it? Also, please look at the¬†mailbox. And that gigantic dormer. And the spacing of the windows. And the chimney! And the fact that there are TWO FUCKING FRONT DOORS! This is the house that I wanted to live in at age 7. As you can probably guess, there is nothing on either side of my family that qualifies as “old money.”

Not long after that, my mom remarried.¬†Winston and I were sitting in the den of our between-houses rental home when our mom and stepfather-to-be showed us a mockup of the house they were having built. A house big enough for two of my mom’s kids and four of his and the two of them and the dog to all live together in the middle of Cary, North Carolina. It was…a certified McMansh. Or as I yelped excitedly upon seeing the drawings: “A MANSION???!” My mom shushed me, smirking. I mean it would be wrong to brag, of course. But clearly I was about the become the rich-bitch princess I had always deserved to be. I was ten years old.

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The house I lived in from age 10 to age 17

I can’t really sum up what it was like to live here because all my memories are biased due to a) the fact that the ages¬†10-17 are some of the most complicated and traumatizing years of your life EVEN when you have a traditional nuclear family and no mental illness and b) I most certainly did not have a traditional nuclear family or a sound emotional state. But we did¬†have 6 bedrooms, a¬†three-car garage, a¬†trampoline in the back, a big deck, and a¬†massive interior which was either full of strangers or completely empty, cold and echoing. My room was enormous by any¬†standard, which was great for retreating from the world to journal and make collages and, in the later years, to do drugs. I¬†didn’t drive until I was almost out of high school, and I spent up to¬†that time¬†annoyed I didn’t live downtown with the other cool kids in their smaller, historic bungalows that better fit my ~super indie hipster aesthetic~. Things were uneven here and there, and after a while, started falling apart.

But I do think it was beautiful, and my mom loved it. She adored it, honestly, at times as though it were¬†one of her children. I think it was a symbol for her steadfast belief that we¬†really could have the perfect life. That our family, even though it was a weirdo wonky mess most of the time, did all belong together under this big-ass roof. “If you build it, happiness will come,” you know? Or maybe it was a “the bigger the house, the closer to God,” sort of thing. I’m kidding.

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Some McMansion Hell-inspired art I made based on my own experience. Do u get it?

I do have some good memories of this place.¬†The pantry, for one, which was roughly the size of my entire current apartment and always stocked with snacks; the way you could be on one end of the house hooking up with your teenage boyfriend and your parents couldn’t hear on account of being a half a mile away in their bedroom; the fact that my mom was queen of the castle, so when I was there, she was taking care of me.¬†It was something comforting to return to when I was in college and living in houses that were quite¬†literally falling to the ground. I hated the suburbs, sure, but I loved how¬†you could see the stars in the sky, walk around in the middle of the night safely, jump a fence to a¬†pool and the worst that would happen is a soccer¬†mom would furrow her¬†eyebrows at you through a glass-brick window.

And of course,¬†once I moved to New York,¬†our¬†McMansion¬†became my post-ironic luxury. Every time I would visit I’d take photos of myself in my mom‚Äôs spa-like bathroom, walk around in her terry cloth robe sipping champagne, bask in the sun in an adirondack¬†chair and worry about absolutely¬†nothing. That‚Äôs what the suburbs are good for – while they may not be an entirely accurate representation of your reality, if in fact you are in the market for a comfortable delusion, they are always there for you. At 23, living in a rat infested building and making $300 a week, I loved going home again to play pretend.

The house sold back in April when the Bradys came un-bunched.¬†But I don‚Äôt miss it. It was too much, like a lot of things that were going on¬†at the time. And now a new young family lives there and my mom lives in a lovely house not too far away. But looking at the photos of it,¬†I have to say I am overwhelmed with nostalgia. On Google street view you can see our old cars in the driveway, and for a second it really got to me.¬†I don’t miss the house really, or the neighborhood, or most of the family. I guess part of me just misses the safety of having a home base at all. Misses not knowing the truth: that you can’t go back to the past, that everything disappears eventually, that some things weren‚Äôt made to last in the first place.

ANYWAY, the blog is funny as shit, and I am basically in love with Kate and her taste level/depth of knowledge/dry-as-heck wit. Apparently we’re from the same place and all, so unless she‚Äôs like 75, we MUST have some mutual friends. If you know her, introduce me, so we can get married ironically on the steps¬†of a McMansion.

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McMansionHell.com

 

 

 

Disaster Chef: If I Made A Damn Pumpkin Pie Then You Definitely Can Too

Mom Blogger Pie

As some of you know, I low-key aspire to be a Mom Blogger and frequently exhibit traits of this particular breed of human (besides, you know, having human kids)  Рsometimes ironically, sometimes not.

After spending the years from 2006 to 2013 drinking my weight in malt liquor, missing my alarm in the morning, ignoring my goals, messing around with drugs, encouraging my own body dysmorphia, smoking, willfully participating in shitty relationships, and eating beans out of cans, I DISCOVERED, as it turns out, that I actually need, enjoy, and thrive on the following things:

  • A¬†clean home with some nice items¬†in it
  • Food that doesn’t come¬†from the bodega
  • A full time job with benefits
  • A solid relationship with a person who also has a¬†good¬†job and a very minimal¬†set of issues
  • Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night
  • Doing things that are healthy for my spirit, such as ignoring¬†the haters, having a¬†positive body image, focusing on my dreams & using my time wisely.
  • Enjoying substantial quantities of top to second-from-top shelf vodka only one or two days a week.

Now, I am not¬†saying I regret the past, nor am I trying to tell anyone how to live. I am¬†a sex-positive person who respects personal choice and unique lifestyles and bucking the status quo when you feel like it. I’ve definitely made some questionable decisions in the name of exploring myself, my needs, and this crazy-ass world we live in. I encourage anyone to do the same.

That being said,¬†I also feel like much of my early twenties¬†were spent saying to myself “Why am I putting myself in these¬†situations? How do I stop feeling this way? Poor me, and also, I am the worst,” when what I really should have done was break up with whoever-the-fuck, get off the internet, and get a damn job.

I think some people were surprised when I started adjusting my priorities. Maybe it was a letdown, because I wasn’t going out and peeing between parked cars with them every night. But there were a few things motivating me. The first is, I had found a respectful, funny, trustworthy,¬†unaggressive, and down-to-earth man who loved me. And after dating every¬†make and model of loser imaginable, I was not about to¬†fuck that up with bad decisions. The second is that I was getting older, and past a certain age it’s hard to make messy look cute. I’ve talked about this before. I never was the kind of person who could stay out until 4am, still make it to work the next day and NOT want to throw myself out of a ten-story window. I was just like, “I want to be happy and stop feeling guilty all the time for being fucking irresponsible.” So I’ve been working on this for the last year or so.

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The start of every Childless Mom Lifestyle: getting your first pair of Uggs

This is one¬†of the reasons I love being a domestic goddess from time to time. Just like in high school when that girl Rebecca¬†told people she was shocked we got into the same college because she thought I was dumb (don’t think I forgot),¬†I take pleasure in doing things well that are¬†not expected of me, or that I don’t expect of myself. A self-fulfilling prophecy will get you every time. I also like providing nourishment for others and cultivating a comfortable environment for the people I love, having grown to¬†understand the significance of those things in my own life.

So that’s¬†where the pie comes in.

You see, I’ve been in the dating game for about ten years, and¬†out of all twenty of my boyfriends I think maybe three of their moms have actually liked me. It’s just always been this way. I guess I took a couple¬†virginities when I was younger and I was¬†never¬†churchy or blonde, but I wasn’t a bad person, so I don’t know what their damage was specifically. But they sure had damage. In tenth grade one mother actually¬†referred to¬†me as “the spawn of Satan.” I was fifteen – I hadn’t even done anything awesome yet! High school was rough for me.

Given my past experience, when my¬†adorable current boyfriend invited me to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving I was pretty nervous. I’ve never been to a guy’s family home for a major holiday before, and I wanted to make a good impression. A GREAT impression. The kind of impression that makes them happy that I live with their son. I’m not a master chef, but I do have some basic skills and the even the ability to improvise from time to time. Last year around Christmas I brought over a card and some homemade body scrub (which was kind of a flop but they were nice about it) and these Oreo cheesecake cookies I made from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Those were divine (I’m the kind of person who says divine now)¬†so I decided to go back to the source.

If you haven’t accepted it already,¬†Pinterest is the shit. It just is. It’s my guidebook for¬†cleaning my act up. Even though they DO have some heinous DIY shabby chic country sorority bullshit on there, I also feel like I’m in control over my home, my body and my mind when I’m on that app. It makes adult life possible for a ne’er do well, and you can imagine how useful that is for me.

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So naturally, I turned to Pinterest when it came time to prep for Thanksgiving. I knew I wanted to make a pumpkin pie, because it’s not Thanksgiving without one. And I’m all about doing holidays right. Plus, it’s a southern staple, so I figured it would be a nice addition to their Long Island spread.

I’m not sure why I decided I needed to make the pie “from scratch,” since I’ve never done that before in my life. I was raised in a household where store-bought pie crust and filling from a can is quite fancy enough. Hell, a pre-made¬†pie would be just fine. And James’ parents aren’t snooty either. I guess it was just one of those situations where I was being a teacher’s pet (his mom is a teacher,¬†no pun intended though) doing extra credit even when I already had an easy A. Plus, holidays are just ridiculously important to me. I’m the girl you’ll find frantically buying packs of hot dogs on the 4th of July, dragging my friends to Central Park on a cloudy Memorial Day or flipping out about a serious lack of margarita mix on Cinco de Mayo. To put it simply, I need to chill.

Regardless, there I was in the Union Square Whole Foods two days before Thanksgiving, zigzagging between rich hipsters and trying to find nutmeg. Of course there was none, presumably because every damn Thanksgiving recipe calls for it, so I settled for this thing called “Pumpkin Pie Spice,” a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. I picked up a pie pumpkin, threw it in my tote and prayed that that day¬†was not the day that I finally get pushed down the stairs boarding the L train, because it would have been a shame to squash that gourd (do you even see what I did there?)

I had already made a crust the night before. It was a graham cracker crust, so not made from “scratch” per se, however, it did not start out as a crust and then it became one, so I happily gave myself credit.

Making a graham cracker crust is super easy. You take 10 graham crackers (usually how many they include in a pack), crush them up, and mix it with 6 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/3 cup of sugar.

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Since I don’t have a food processor, I tried to use a regular blender to crush the crackers, which didn’t work very well. When the machine starting smelling like smoke (wtf?) I stopped and crushed the rest with a potato masher. Then I mixed in the butter and sugar (I used brown sugar because it’s what I had and it seemed just as good if not better) and pressed it into the pie plate. You can use something flat like a measuring cup to press down the center, and use your fingers around the sides.
It ended up cute and tasty looking, and I was impressed with myself. Find the full recipe for a graham cracker crust here.
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HOW CUTE, right?
Since I was going to bake the pie anyway, I didn’t need to pre-bake the crust. I just put it in the fridge overnight and came back to it the next day.
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Having made it home alive after my Whole Foods excursion, I was ready to make my pie goo. Everyone kept telling me this was the most annoying part, the most delicate process and the main reason why nobody likes making pumpkin pies from scratch. But I thought it was pretty straightforward and fun.

I got the full recipe from¬†here. Y’all, I cannot stress the¬†beautiful¬†and sometimes¬†frightening normalcy I am able to witness on¬†these Pinterest-ass blogs. I adore them.

Essentially, you cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and the stringy stuff. Then you place each half on a cookie sheet “flesh-side down,” which I figured out¬†means “round side up” even though I thought flesh and skin were the same thing and that the¬†skin was on the outside…but ANYway…

Then you roast that shit at 325 for an hour. Once it’s done, you’re able to to pull the skin off the outside and just have the pumpkin mush, which you have to mash up really well. This is where I had a problem, because my blender was smelling like smoke, I don’t own a standing mixer or a food processor, soooo I just used a whisk. I whisked so hard n fast, and of course, no matter what it was still a little chunky. But¬†I was like, “Whatever. It’s 10PM and I need to go to bed soon.”

I dumped in the rest of the ingredients, (eggs, milk, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice) and made the gorgeous barf-colored mixture pictured below.

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mmmm

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Above is what it looked like in the crust before I baked it. A little chunky, sure, but I was already like 80% done making my first pie ever, and it actually looked like a real pie!

So obviously I patted myself on the back way too early, failing to realize that one of the easiest ways to fuck up a baked good as an amateur is by burning it. I put the assembled pie in the oven at 325 and was planning to leave it in for another hour. But somewhere around 45 minutes I started smelling burning crust.

See, this is what I can’t deal with when it comes to ovens. They’re all different and confusing and none of the knobs make any damn sense, and you need to buy a fancy thermometer to actually know what the hell is going on in there. Plus, I’m always just afraid I’m going to fall in and permanently disfigure my face.

You’d think I’d be¬†way too simple and anxious to even survive in a kitchen, but again, there I was,¬†creatively navigating this potential disaster in my own stupid way. I unbent a paperclip to do the “toothpick trick” to¬†figure out if the center of the pie was done. I moved it from bottom rack to top rack to bottom again. I changed the oven temperature. And eventually I just took it out, let it cool and hoped the damn thing would stop jiggling.

The next day, I carried the pie to work on the L train, placed it in the fridge with a big DO NOT EAT sign, then cradled it in my lap on the LIRR (with a can of whipped cream in my purse, of course.)

As it turns out, ¬†James’ mother doesn’t even like pumpkin pie!¬†This was awesome¬†news! But it was a hit with the men of the household, and I fuckin’ loved it too, so that was enough for me. Plus, I think I mentioned once or twice¬†that I MADE IT FROM SCRATCH, so I’m pretty sure I get some points for that with the whole fam.

The next week, as I was roasting the leftover pumpkin seeds, I started imagining myself as a mother, hosting my own family gatherings and feeding pie to my little babies. I had fantasized for about a minute when I smelled the pumpkin seeds starting to burn.

“Yeah,” I thought. “One thing at a time.” And I poured¬†a glass of vodka.

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PS – This is the appropriate pie-to-whipped-cream ratio. Thanks.

 

 

“I Can’t Move My Arm!” and other things you say when having a nice adult time!

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A few Wednesdays ago, while sputtering through an afternoon at work like a car outta gas, I received one of my weekly invitation forwards from my friend Moe. Since we met six years ago, and maybe even a few months prior, my social life has been at least in part guided by the compass that is Moe’s infinite RSVP list. That is, when I’m trying to have a social life. With my just too typical full time job/full time relationship/full time couch potato combination, I’m pretty easily dissuaded from going out to bars and clubs, and have instead been drawn to daytime events that involve more of an activity, where I can (maybe) burn some calories, and give myself a new story to tell beyond “you wouldn’t believe the dumb thing I did when I was drunk!” (which, like me, is getting old). I often still end up drunk, but it’s usually now obscured by the exciting new Experience-With-A-Capital-E I’m having!

Some examples of this that you missed this summer include the following:
1. Visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Remember flowers? I didn’t – not after this past New York winter. Cue the first warm weekend in NYC, and very crowded yet romantic outing was had for thousands.
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 Real person (not staged). Welcome to Fancy Brooklyn.

2. Showing my Mom Around New York
One great way to realize you’re not as old and lazy as you think you are is to try to take your out-of-town parents around the city. Very quickly, you realize other people don’t actually think it’s a “normal commute” to walk 6 miles every day, and before you know it you’re dragging your poor mother behind you because it would be “a shame” for her to not walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to your Greenpoint apartment, all the way from the West Village. She still knows how to have fun better than I do though. Can’t deny that.
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3. Roof Chilling
This is the point of summer in New York. Thankfully, I live in the cheapest (too expensive) apartment of a very tricked out building with rooftop views for days. In my world, this counts as doing something.

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4. A Very Martha’s Vineyard Memorial Day
My older brother has a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard where I like to go pretend to be fabulous sometimes. It’s fun to guzzle vodka cranberries all day, ride twenty miles on a bike down a busy narrow road, spend hundreds of dollars on lobster, and embarrass yourself in front of strangers you’ll never see again, all while getting to say words like “Aquinnah.” Plus there’s just something about not having money and pretending to have money that lets me feel like I’ve truly “made it.” If there were a school that taught twenty-something white kids how to be adults, they would have a class on this. Also, MV is just beautiful. One thing I don’t recommend, though, is driving up from NYC on a holiday weekend and returning 3 days later (like we did). But if you do, you simply must stop at The Lobster Pot in Wareham, MA on your way back.
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5. Attending My First Shabbat Dinner
Can you really call yourself a New Yorker until you go to one of these? I’m not a religious person, nor do I have any Jewish lineage, so the concept was pretty unfamiliar to me. James’ friend and coworker was kind enough to invite us to his weekly ritual, which involved some praying, some dank food, a lot of Kosher wine, and a lot of jokes about Billy Joel and Seinfeld. Oh, and really beautiful views of the Upper West Side. If it sounds like clich√©, that’s because you’re jealous.
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6. Attempting to Adopt a Dog
This was a really sad week after Memorial Day when James and I attempted to adopt this one-eyed beagle from a shelter in Staten Island but didn’t get approved because our apartment was too small. Probably for the best – it wasn’t well thought out. But it was still a very sad experience so I’m not going to post a photo of him. I’m not ready.
7. Turnt-ing up in Wrightsville Beach, NC
The classic thing I do every year with my family. Again, just more chilling, lots and lots of food, and lots of Tito’s vodka. I easily gained 10 pounds in the week we were on vacation, and only got a little sunburned. The most memorable event of the evening was when (relatively sober, mind you) I had a margarita at Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill that immediately caused all the color to drain from my face, sending me running through the restaurant to yarf uncontrollably in the bathroom. I didn’t even make it to the toilet. I spent about 15 minutes with my arm in a stopped-up sink scooping up the puke and throwing it in the garbage can. Then I washed my hands and went and ate a plate of enchiladas. If any of the employees from Tower 7 are reading this now, I’m sorry for hogging the bathroom and leaving such a nasty mess. The margaritas were really strong, so it’s kind of both our faults. Also thanks for reading my blog, I hope you like it.
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 An Adult Beach Party

8. Trying to Grow My Own Vegetables

This is the story of how for two months, I had two beautiful baby plants named Kale and Cilantro. The cilantro died quickly because it doesn’t like rain, but the kale grew huge and beautiful like elephant ears and produced delicious salads until the evil Building Managers made us move it so they could do “landscaping” (a nicer way of saying they mowed down all the trees and greenery in the courtyard to put in a concrete patio that serves no purpose whatsoever). I put the kale in the backyard of the church next door and haven’t gone to check on it since. I have to climb a fence to get there and I’m afraid the catholics will look at me weird. Clearly, being a cool hipster grown up is super fun and I’m great at it.
9. A Very Martha’s Vineyard Fourth of July
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The Vineyard again, you say? But of course! Except this time we took a 5 hour Megabus to Boston after work, “slept” over at my brother Nate’s insanely clean apartment, and left the house at 6 the next morning to meet a group of Boston’s drunkest medical professionals and take a BOAT to the vineyard. It was beautiful ride, for the part of it that I wasn’t entirely seasick and exhausted. But we were livin’ large, so I can’t complain. Of course, on the way back, we took the $200-a-ticket Seastreak Ferry, which takes you directly from the island of Martha’s Vineyard to the island of Manhattan. What they don’t tell you is that it bounces almost the entire 4 hour ride, leaving all the noob passengers panicked and buckled over with nausea. That is, unless they were smart enough to take dramamine and fall asleep. I was not. I spent the majority of the ride escorting barfing strangers to the bathroom and listening to the Pirate’s of the Caribbean soundtrack in my headphones, laughing at what I’d gotten myself into.
10. Hitting Up Broadway
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Another thing adults do together is attend “Broadway Shows.” You see, Broadway is a long avenue in Manhattan, the middle section of which is home to giant screens with advertisements on them, every chain restaurant you could ever imagine, and lots and lots of tourists. There are also these big rooms called “theaters” where people wear costumes and dance and sing at you. Sometimes the dancing and singing is rather funny, and in rare cases the dancing and singing is funny and super offensive. One of these rare cases was Book of Mormon, the Tony Award-sweeping musical my boyfriend took me to see. A “Tony” Award is when legendary Broadway actor Tony Danza decides that your play is super good and he gives you a sticker.
11. Taking a Sober Month
Sometimes you gotta take a month to remember who you are – the less ridiculous, more real you  – so you can put your best self forward and figure out how to find strength from within. And that’s what I did, for most of July and the beginning of August, by taking a break from my summer booze binge. I guess I partly succeeded? I remembered who I was, I think, but I didn’t exactly find the strength so much as find out where I needed it. Ever tried going to a work party where everyone’s tipsy except you? To call it “unbearably awkward” would be an understatement, at least for me. More about this another time.
12. Buying a Bike
One thing I did learn from my sober month was that I, like many people, use alcohol as a way to face certain fears…and then other fears I mostly just try and avoid. Who wants be like that? One of the biggest categories of fear in my life – an umbrella of fears, if you will – is the fear that I’ll be bad at something, which has stopped me from boldly pursuing a lot of shit I’ve wanted to do. Like ride a bike in the city, for example. Hannah has an awesome bike and no one to ride it with, and I was determined by the end of the summer to accompany her out to Jacob Riis Park – on two wheels. Luckily, I happened to find the perfect bike right when I had the guts to buy one, and I rode out there with her the next day. As you can see, it was a little overwhelming for us in the heat. We took the train home, but we felt totally great about ourselves anyway.
13. Going to Cat Camp
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Remember in Clueless when Cher and Ty wore shortatards, did Buns of Steal together in Cher’s living room, and talked about the self-help books they wanted to read? And then Cher was like “we should probably do something good for mankind or the planet for a couple of hours.” Well, I think we can all agree the best stuff to do is stuff that’s fun, but that also benefits society. Which is why I felt like it was a perfect idea to go to Purina’s Cat Camp by myself during my lunch hour. I got to play with kittens while standing around and encouraging people to adopt them! It was a really beautiful experience. I never did understand why Cher didn’t care about Marky Mark planting that celebrity tree. It totally aligns with her values.
14. Making an Attempt at Climbing
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I accepted the invite (from Moe, of course) to go to Brooklyn Boulders as another attempt at fear-facing. I’ve never been a huge fan of heights, as pretty well explained in this post from last year. But I keep hearing from EVERYONE how much fun this climbing thing is, and what a great workout it is and how great it makes you feel in your body and mind. Even though I walked into BB a little nervous, I can still say that I was far too confident in my climbing ability. It’s waay harder than it looks, and there are rules that really force you to be strategic (like, each time you climb you can only use holds of the same color). I think I made it to the top…twice. And we were there for about two hours. But it was only my first time, and I did feel how gratifying the achievement was. I also got to witness my self-fulfilling anxiety in full action: the more nervous I was, the sweatier my hands became, making it even more difficult to hold on, which, of course, made me even more nervous. But it all worked out in the end. If I wasn’t on the ground watching Moe “Six-Workouts-A-Week” Dabbagh completely school me, who would have taken a picture for his Instagram?
15. Catching up With Old Friends Over Home-Cooked Meals
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I had my three-year anniversary of living in New York back in May, but no matter how used to the city life I become, I still feel my happiest when I’m in an intimate setting with a few of my closest friends. Bonus happy points if they’re from out of town. I happened to be having a tough and stressful week when I heard that my long time BFF Sarah Cousler was visiting Brooklyn from Asheville, NC. So we spent 3 days eating the delicious food she cooked, chilling out and catching up. Whatever the question in life, food and friends are the answer. Someone cross-stitch that on a pillow for me.
16. Taking My First Trip Upstate
I think the only way I can deal with living in the city is if I can get out on a semi-regular basis. On Labor Day weekend, James and I were due for a romantic outing, so we rented an upstate cottage on airbnb. Every time I reserve an airbnb I’m blown away, almost unsettled, by how easy it all is and how trusting and generous the hosts are. This effect was doubled by the fact that we had traveled to Woodstock, which is all about ~Organic/Sharing/Group/Love/Handmade/Peace/Giving~ vibes. I hiked a mountain and ate local meat and swam in a swimming hole and watched scary movies and went to bed early and slept late and was sad when I returned. I think that’s why the real Fabulous New York Adults who have houses in the Catskills drive 100 miles an hour up the interstate in order to maximize their vacay time, but we’re not quite that intense yet. Someday.
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So, I had no shortage of adult misadventures this summer, but easily the best (and dumbest) of them happened on August 22nd, at Prospect Park’s Lefrak Center. The event I was drawn to was Wolf + Lamb’s Roller Disco party, which was the invite I received from Moe that week. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to continue my pattern of accidentally exercising while having fun. I didn’t realize when I bought the ticket, however, that Moe had been merely suggesting the event and not confirming his attendance. That is to say, he was going to be in Mexico that weekend, and I had just bought a ticket to go roller skating for the first time in 15 years, by myself.
Luckily, I was able to convince Bradford to come along for what ended up being a very exciting and hilarious attempt at remembering how to skate – well, really, learning for the first time since I was more of a blades kid. I slalomed through tiny children while bopping to 80s music and at a certain point I started really feeling myself. I was fierce, like one of those roller derby girls. I could totally do this.
At that exact moment I was cut off by an adorable five-year-old, and when I leaned back to dodge out of the way, my legs swung up in front of me into the air, Tiny Toon Adventures style, and I caught myself with my arm outstretched. I could feel tears welling up, but I wasn’t going to actually cry. What was I, a baby? I had to keep grooving and get over myself. So I did, for another couple of hours.
It wasn’t until later that night that I realized I couldn’t bend my arm (or unbend it, for that matter) past 90 degrees. Still, I figured I was just being a weenie about it. But on the advice of my brother Nate who fear-mongers me into seeking medical attention on a regular basis, I went out and got some x-rays the following Monday.
I was examined by a young-ish orthopedist on the Upper East Side.
“Where were you roller skating?” he asked.
“Prospect Park.”
“Oh, was it the Wolf + Lamb party?”
“Uh, yeah.” I responded, somewhat surprised.
“Nice. I almost went to that party. Those guys are my friends.”
I don’t know what it was about it, but there was something that felt very off about all this. I was an adult, getting examined by another adult, because of an incident at a roller skating party he also wanted to attend. I had felt pretty ashamed for getting injured in the first place. A kid would have just dusted herself off and gotten back up, and I’d somehow landed myself in the radiography room. But could I have been too old for this behavior if a guy well out of med school was cosigning it?
I was told to wear a sling for a week, which led to some hilarious T-rex-like attempts at completing tasks around the office and some elaborate lies about how I got the injury (you didn’t know I’m into ultimate fighting?!) But it didn’t stop me from going out into the world to find the next rooftop, enjoy the rest of my summer, and continue my pattern of laughing in the face of dumb decisions.
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Could it be, then, that this is what adulthood looks like?

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 ‚Äď 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

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This one is so, so important. In every facet of life ‚Äď work, family or friends ‚Äď 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.

Virtual Reality

IMG_8220 I don’t talk to Alex enough. You know Alex, my long time friend, the third big brother I never had, the one who has lived in LA for a few years and has what I think is an assistant-ish super Hollywoody-type job? We sometimes write together.¬†Mostly he writes without me. He is very productive. I am very, well, you read the blog. One of Alex’s major pastimes is cyber-bullying me. He does this because he knows I don’t take criticism very well and he likes to take his emotions out on the people who will react most strongly. I’m trying to learn not to take it personally. Usually it ends up okay if I can keep my cool long enough to get him to apologize. We tried talking about this through text recently, and it quickly spun into a different conversation.

Me: I’m stressing myself out. You’re a real ballbuster you know

Alex: Same. I was having really bad panic attacks so now I’m not drinking caffeine But that won’t solve everything What’s going on w you

Me: Last night I had a dream I was raped by two guys and then my teeth turned to sand dollars and crumbled out of my head

Alex: Oh my god

Me:¬†I’m sure that has to do with some underlying psychological something

Alex: Yeah…

Me: But I actually feel pretty okay on the surface

Alex: I’ve been feeling mentally unstable the past month Like losing reality Idk why

Me: We should talk more

Alex:¬†Probably I just don’t even know what the problem is.

Me: Things are definitely feeling unreal, but in a way that is almost too real.

Alex:¬†Yes that’s a nice way to put it I just feel useless

Me:¬†Essentially we’re all insane and nothing is really worth it, and all the things that seem good are bad and vice versa, happy people are actually sad, alcohol gets boring after a while, and you just find yourself asking, “what now?”

Alex:¬†Seriously That’s why I’m like “going sober” I like weed and booze but it does nothing. Success is the only high I want.

Me:¬†Truly I don’t really smoke weed ever. I find it upsets me often

Alex: AND a cute boy that is nice and loves me

Me: Unless I literally have nothing else that I should be doing

Alex: It fucks me UP

Me: Which is never

Alex:¬†I can barely handle it Right! It just makes you anxious about doing things you need to do so you don’t and then you feel like shit

Me:¬†I’m glad I have James. Things are going well, but I find myself a little too pleased with the habitual domestic things we do like make dinner, and I worry that my ambition is dwindling and that the sum of my accomplishments will be having kids and a yard and a husband and being normal, and that I’ll like that
But maybe the secret is to just get a Xanax addiction and become a Stepford wife
At least then there’d be hope for a reality show

Alex:¬†I mean if you like that then who cares But kids KILL That’s my cynical wisdom

Me:¬†I do love kids Maybe for my 25th birthday I’ll freeze an egg

Alex: You literally can’t do anything with kids I’m sure they are great! Lol It is the future

Me:¬†I’m going to write a funny mom book

Alex:¬†YEA but that’s not a reason to have kids

Me:¬†It’ll be called “mommy why are you crying: stories of how my children ruined my life”

Alex: You have like 12 more years
My mom had me at 36 and I’m completely normal
….. Lolol ok

Me: Yeah but she had two kids before you

Alex:¬†That’s true

Me:¬†You’re supposed to have ur first like
Basically when ur my age

Alex: Does that make it better?
Wow
But it’s just biology!

Me: Yeah :/

Alex: Drink those voices away!

Me:¬†But seriously I’m freezing my eggs

Alex: Might as well
Mary is already 26

Me: Turning 25 is like

Alex: Jesus
But you see these cool couples with their kids and it doesn’t seem so fun

Me:¬†Oh hey next big bday I’m old as shit

Alex: It just seems like prison
Dude 25 SUCKS
26 is better
But ppl will say it’s the other way around

Me:¬†Not depressing, I mean kind of nice and exciting. I don’t hate my life or anything so I’m not like disappointed in myself
You always disagree with me on this tho
Ages

Alex: Oh god I am.
On getting older??
I think I’ll be chill when I’m 35

Me: On which ages are the worst

Alex: Bahaha

Me:¬†Idk if I’ll ever be chill? Let’s be honest

Alex:¬†20s are just hard. It’s just weird seeing all these people I know getting married
Hahahahah
I think so
You’re pretty cool

Me: Basically I just keep telling myself that every stupid failure and shitty experience will make a fun story someday
And at the very least maybe I’ll have a rich husband, if I’m lucky someone I love
Woo dream big
Thanks btw you too

Alex: Hahaha
Yames

Me:¬†It’s not that I should suck less at life, it’s that I should be writing more about sucking at it

Alex: He seems great to me Mmmm yea

Me:¬†He’s great in a lot of ways.
You’d like him
But he’s an easy target.
Sensitive

Alex: I think I probably would
He IS sensitive
I think he’s just Italian

Me:¬†He’s a Capricorn
And he’s only half Italian
But I like that he’s traditionally masculine in a lot of ways. Plus he loves me. I guess that’s really the point here.
You wanna start a literary zine?

Alex:¬†I like that And he’s sexy

Me: Yeah he is

Alex: To me
Lol In a platonic way

Me: And to me, obviously
His body is incredible it like sucks that he won’t dress for it
He buys his work shirts at Costco
Which is like hot in its own way

IMG_8251My boyfriend standing in front of his high school alma mater and doing some pose that I choose to pretend is tai chi

IMG_8284

A picture of¬†Lindsay Lohan’s¬†family’s house¬†I took on a bike ride¬†through Merrick, NY. Lindsay¬†and James have the same hometown.¬†This is relevant because it just is.

Alex:¬†A zine sounds fun but I have a lot on my plate at the moment I can’t make a commitment
He is so normcore but not even bc I don’t think he’s post indie

Me: I was mostly joking

Alex: This is v funny

Me:¬†I was going to toss out the potential title “are any of us doing anything”

Alex: Most frat guys are like that though. When he makes more money you can help him out.

Me:¬†Yeah he’s not normcore he’s just norm, like I’m aware that he interacts with the world without quite as many levels of irony as me, and I’m fine with it, because it’s all bullshit anyway
The fact that I’m fine with it is what makes me scared I secretly wanna be norm
But I wanna be norm in this like fantasy sort of way, like only because New York is a dystopia in so many ways. Like I don’t even wanna be norm I wanna like actually live inside a sears catalog or something

Alex: Hahahahha Norm is the new weird tho
Weird as we know it is the new norm and it’s kinda tired
Like being OUT THERE AND WEIRD
Hahahah sears

Me:¬†Yeah. Doesn’t it seem like society is tricking itself into believing homogeneity is a style choice when actually we are probably just giving in to the pointlessness of asserting individualism in the digital age

We might as well all turn into iPhones. That’d be phat

Alex: Cyborgs is the next thing

Me: Borgcore

Alex:¬†It is pointless I’ve been saying it for years what’s next? Bc if you try to assert your individuality and everyone is trying to because that’s the norm, it’s impossible so the movement, it like collapses on itself
That’s why I think fashion will die eventually

Me: People just revert to indulging in the simple commercial pleasures of life

Alex: No one believes me

Me: Eventually our generation will give in and assimilate
People just get tired

Alex:¬†We’re all going to wear government controlled silver jumpsuits

Me: Yeah but even without government control

Alex:¬†That help us live in a harsh world where it’s too hot or too cold cuz we fucked everything up

Me: I have a theory that people will basically control themselves

Alex: Yeah I guess

Me:¬†And trick themselves into thinking it’s individual expression

Alex: Government matters less than corporations

Me: Like social media, everyone was all worried back in the day the government was going to be spying on us, then we just willingly started putting every detail of our lives out in public. I agree with you, individuality is played out.

Alex: Hmmmmm
You just have to have fun with whatever you can
While you can

Me: In fact the millennial infatuation and ultimate disappointment with individuality may be the beginning of its death

Alex: Ugh on the plus side my apartment is nice

Me: Aw yay

Alex:¬†Yeah let’s capitalize on the death of individuality

Me:¬†A monopoly on identity If you can’t beat em join em. I’m sure that’s what Orwell was trying to say.

—-

IMG_8393

Life is plastic, it’s fantastic

We complain about being out of touch with reality as though there is any reality to speak of, and we know that’s not true. In June’s mercury retrograde I attempted to do a bit of soul searching, some personal and some societal, I guess. Whether intentional or not, I live on the line between high and low culture, shallow and meaningful, absorbed in such trivialities as my Internet¬†stats while failing to ignore my¬†yearn for meaning in my actual life. Just like everyone else, I can’t really decide what is “real” or what is “meaningful.” I’ll watch KUWTK in the suburbs with my boyfriend and enjoy it. I’ll go to an exhibition of artworks praising Kim Kardashian as a deity and agree with it. I’ll read an article about the OJ trial and the connection between the Kardashian family and other reality show stars, in which they are dubbed the murderers of popular culture, and I’ll agree with that too. I exist in two worlds; one is where instagram likes are currency, where Heidi Montag is a genius and looking good is the equivalent of reaching nirvana. In the other world, holy cow, I actually want to emotionally invest in substantial things.

IMG_8369Open bar selfie at art party called The Passion of Kim Kardashian

We are living in a world where the art, the consumption, the media, the criticism, the satire and the daily fucking struggle are so simultaneous that writing about this, even caring about it, feels redundant. It can sometimes feel like we have only three options. Lower our expectations and settle down, go to grad school so at least the conversations we have about relevant things will be somewhat¬†intelligent, or act like a child forever. Who even has time to be a good person? Who has time to make themselves happy, or the world a better in a real way? If the struggle for substance and meaning is Sisyphean, then why even bother to stress?¬†Might as well drink kool-aid with the Church of Kim K. If I’m ever nostalgic for the nineties it’s because the nineties were the time I had to do the least. While my social anxiety was at an all-time high, I was actually unironically enjoying the pleasures of suburbia and consumerism without asking any questions. Slip-n-slides and trampolines were making me happy, just like they were supposed to. I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t looking for beauty in truth, I just assumed this was the truth. I was privileged, and I may not have known it, but I wasn’t deluded into thinking I didn’t want to be. Reality TV is totally bullshit but nobody really cares, so maybe life can be like that. After all, whatever we accept as true becomes the reality. You might as well put on the costume. You might as well pretend. And at the end of the day, you might as well participate in the scam. It’s almost the same thing as having hope. Right? What’s so great about the truth anyway? When it comes to my future, I don’t want to know the odds. I’ll keep my blinders on for now, and when things get too rough, I’ll visit someone’s neighborhood pool. IMG_8462

Freeze No More

IMG_5732Everyone has their limits. As you know, I reached mine with winter about a month ago. Shortly after, from eating nothing but pasta and living off couch cushion change for weeks,¬†I surpassed my limit with the “between job” lifestyle. Three sentences in, I am already pushing my limit for this blog post, because I’d rather be watching House of Cards. Seriously, am I the only person on earth who didn’t watch the second season in a single day? To be fair, there have been a few other things (and a few other shows) on my plate.
IMG_5561When I last Blobbed (I sometimes affectionately refer to this thing you’re reading as my Blob), I was sunning in the frozen tundra that is Martha’s Vineyard. That is, lying prostrate on a sofa and delighting my older brother with this year’s version of My Plans to Change My Life as he administered vodka cranberries into my system via central line. What in the summer is a bustling a tourist community is for all intents and purposes shut down this time of year, although we did hit up a bar on the first night complete with live island jams and some seriously drunk moms and dads. Since I majored in Drunk Senior Citizens in college they are a bit of my expertise, and I felt right at home, closing my eyes and vibing to the serious saxophone tunage. Truthfully, I was just wasted, and a weekend with a bunch of old irrelevant beach strangers was just what I’d needed after being trapped in my house for the whole month of January. That, and unlimited hot baths and sandwiches and sexting and episodes of Forensic Files. And that’s exactly what I got, plus six inches of snow, House Hunters on demand, solicited and unsolicited relationship advice, endless shit talk, and 10 hours of sleep a night. We even got a nice hike in there, which for Nate means literally running uphill through the woods. But hey, I had some calories to kill. Plus, winter in the vineyard might be the most beautifully spooky thing I’ve ever seen.
IMG_5522 IMG_5513 IMG_5540 IMG_5527 Venus went direct just in time for Mercury to slide into retrograde, so after I rode the megabus back to New York and successfully repressed the entire experience, I was prepared for things to be a little fucked up. And I was right. My computer was suddenly on the fritz, not holding a charge, shutting off in the middle of things. I was terrified and frantically backing things up when I could, certain that this was the end for my best friend. Meanwhile, servers were down all over the place. I couldn’t get burritos on Grubhub when I wanted them. The people at Chipotle were forgetting to add cheese. Okay, so most of my problems were Mexican food related, but I’m sure Susan Miller will tell you it was all fucking Mercury’s fault.

The day after I returned, I met up with Reid and a few others for a “night on the town,” which according my version of Winter Nightlife meant drinking at my apartment until 1, stumbling and grumbling over snow piles on the way to the bar where I’d nurse a cocktail for 2 hours and do a bunch of poppers, before hopping in a cab home that was clearly out of my budget. On this particular night, I calculated that I would need four 24 ounce Coronas to get the party started, so by the end I was a complete and total mess in the head a la 2011-2012 (without the assaults, arrests or afterhours). I was asleep by 3:30 and spent the rest of the next 24 hours shivering and shitting and feeling sorry for myself. Was nearly 100 ounces of beer, two double gin and tonics and a bottle of poppers suddenly TOO MUCH for me to handle? Had I gone soft in my old age? Or had I simply been putting up with hangovers of this magnitude for the last five-plus years of my life and could no longer choose to accept it? This is why I can really only fuck with Tito’s vodka. I don’t even think it gets you drunk I mean it’s basically Evian. 5 out of 5 doctor’s recommend it! Or was that judges and rehab? Gotcha.


In a spectacularly romantic gesture a few weeks prior, my significant other had bought me a plane ticket to come spend Valentine’s weekend with him before I started my new job. Because I hadn’t quite been sufficiently depressed and sex deprived enough in the frigid weeks since I’d last seen him, mother nature decided to bring another fuckface of a blizzard our way just before my departure. What would I do if this flight was cancelled? I missed him so much. And I thought about it and I’d tried but I just could not masturbate anymore. I called JetBlue to take proactive measures at switching to better flight times, asking all kinds of questions and begging for advice and using words like “tarmac.” Ultimately I decided to take a gamble and keep my original flight for the morning after the last day of snow, and somehow managed to depart and arrive on time.¬†

In Chapel Hill I encountered the expected level of collective dismay when my crop of local bff’s all realized my time was spoken for by the boy who’d brought me there, and every moment that I was not [insert disgusting sex act here] I felt really bad about not being able to see them. That being said, I also had delicious meals, intimate moments, eye contact and body contact with the person I love, so I wasn’t exactly overcome with sadness. That Saturday, in accordance with my NormCore boyfriend’s plans, I got to see a side of Chapel Hill I’d never seen before, one that is familiar to almost all of its other students and alumn: Frat Life. I even saw a sport on TV. I won’t say they were the highlights of my weekend, but they certainly made me feel one with the people. I was like Frank Underwood at that Civil War reenactment. I wasn’t really about it, but I admired their conviction.
IMG_5913By Sunday the bae and I had to say our goodbyes. I was headed back to Brooklyn once again, this time to do actual “work” and make “money” so I could “live.” What a total drag. Before my flight my mother met us at the Starbucks in the lobby of the airport to say hello and goodbye to me and be introduced to my new partner for the first time. First we had the pleasure of telling her we met on fucking Twitter. Then she asked him how he was doing handling “all of this,” and pointed at me. “She can be kind of a lot.”¬†I would have been upset had I not known her for 24 years and thus been absolutely certain she was complimenting me in her own way.

As I walked through security in mismatched socks covered in my boyfriend’s roommate’s dog’s hair, I dreaded going back to New York. I knew I’d miss my boyfriend, but was it more than that? I hadn’t wanted to be there for a while, but I didn’t know what I was running from either. Responsibility? Chasing the dream? Watching Forensic Files alone?

As I stepped into my snow-stained uggs at the end of the TSA line, I was not a sorority girl, not yet a woman. But I was glad that, at the very least, I had someone to eat burritos with on Skype.