Tuesday, July 29, 2014

20-Nothings Travels: 68.5 Hours and 21.5 Oysters in SEATTLE

view from the ferry to Bainbridge Island

I have longed to travel to the great city of Seattle since I first watched Meg Ryan creep on Tom Hanks and his son flying kites on that picturesque beach. Now after 68.5 hours spent in the city where one man was famously sleepless, I can say that it is just as incredible as Nora Ephron and Kurt Cobain made it look, separately.

My time was too packed to break it down on an event-by-event basis (read: I'm embarrassed to admit how much I ate all day every day), so here is a random collection of highlights, learnings, great moments and must-eats.



  • Pike Place Market is as great as they say, if not better. The quality of the food, people-watching and general environment is far superior to all other water front food markets I've visited in my day, and I love a water front food market. Here is everything I ate/drank. Over the course of how much time?! you ask? Don't worry about it.
    • Pike Place Fish Market (where they throw the fish) - smoked salmon sample (killer)
    • Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar - oysters on the half shell, shellfish gumbo
    • Piroshky-Piroshky - salmon, beef + onion, almond Piroshky (for Red on OITNB!)
    • Pike Place Bagel Cafe - salmon, cream cheese, tomato and onion on everything bagel
    • Daily Dozen Donuts - cinnamon and maple bacon doughnut (two varieties, perfection)
    • Mee Sum Pastry - pork bao, curry beef bao, some kind of pot stickers (my fave)
    • The Crumpet Shop - ham egg and cheese on a crumpet (biscuit meets an English muffin!)
    • Rachel's Ginger Beer - white peach ginger beer (incredible)
    • The Tasting Room at Pike Place - Washington State wine flight
    • Beecher's Handmade Cheese - the world's best mac n' cheese (though I found it runny)
    • Mt. Townsend Creamery - raw goat milk, no joke (tastes like liquid goat cheese!)
just your typical ginger beer, chardonnay, oyster and raw goat milk Happy Hour
  • No one told me how hilly Seattle can be from 1st to 6th Avenue in the center of Downtown. We're talking San Francisco hills, if not worse. But more importantly, no one also told me that it's only that hilly for about four blocks and you can totally avoid it if you just walk to Pike and head up instead of staying on Madison. My calves will never be the same. 
  •  If you love shellfish then you must do one thing and one thing only when you are in Seattle: visit Taylor Oyster Bar in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood (they also have a new location in Capitol Hill). I ate the freshest oysters I've ever eaten AND my very first geoduck, which is the weird clam penis you see below. It was incredible. I wish I'd found it on Friday so I could have gone back on Saturday and Sunday. 
tastes like clam cartilage!
  • When in the Emerald City, make a point to see one of the many gorgeous islands. I did Bainbridge because that's where the wedding that brought us to Seattle in the first place was located. It was magical in an Americana meets the best of the French Riviera but also Portland, Maine kind of way, and I tried not to leave. Also congrats Clel and Mike and see you again very soon because I'm in love with your city but mostly Taylor Oyster Bar!
  • Honey lavender ice cream at Molly Moon's. Don't ask questions just go there and eat it.
  • My friend Paul - an incredibly talented musical theater professional soon to star in A Chorus Line at Seattle's 5th Ave - toured us around Capitol Hill which is the sort of Chelsea, NY/West Hollywood, CA of Seattle with a little Williamsburg, BK/Los Feliz, LA mixed in. Whilst there we stumbled upon a drag queen softball tournament, and now we are all more complete humans.
one of these men is Paul, the other is my husband. Guess which!

  • The Space Needle is really gorgeous looking but we didn't go up inside because we wanted to see the Nirvana exhibit at The EMP Museum. If you love music or culture or Frank Gehry buildings, you should make that choice too. Also, you can't see the needle from the needle, and the view of the needle is really the best part. That said, if you go you can avoid the ticket lines and save $2 by downloading the Space Needle app to buy.
    didn't even try for that sun flare!
     
In the end I loved Seattle because it was calm, clean, filled with seafood and 2.5 hours from Los Angeles. You can see it in a weekend but would have plenty to explore (and eat) in a week if not more. I'm told we had the best weather weekend the city has seen in a very long time, so you're welcome, Seattle, but I think I'd be just as into you with some of the famous misty rain. That's just how much I love seafood.

Thanks to the new Mr. and Mrs. for their incredible city guide, @VisitSeattle for help along the way, Eric for making us run everywhere so we had more time at Taylor Shellfish, Paul for the perfect Sunday, Uber for being everywhere and R for never telling me it was time to cool it on the raw oysters.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

21 Things I Wish I Knew About Alcohol on my 21st Birthday

Remember this above all. Image source.

In less than two weeks my littlest sister, Alex, will turn 21.

[Yes, very close to my birthday. Five stars for careful reading, reader!]

Like me, she will ring in her ability to legally drink alcohol on the Jersey Shore with college friends, high school friends and our parents. Unlike me, she will not consume nine shots at the stroke of midnight rendering her useless for the next eighteen hours because I'm publicly begging her not to. Don't do it Alex!!! And I'm sorry Carly and Michael...still.

Here is a list of 21 other things I think she should know about that devil drink we call booze.

  1. Nine shots in ten minutes will not make you drunk. It will make you asleep.
  2. There's a point where it doesn't matter if you're drinking beer before liquor or liquor before beer, you will not be in the clear.  Learn that fast.
  3. You should either always trust what your heart is telling you after a few drinks or never trust what your heart is telling you after a few drinks. Learn that faster.
  4. You drink a Bud heavy if and only if there is absolutely nothing else to drink.
  5. Ask for the martini in a high ball glass, save thousands of dollars in dry cleaning bills. 
  6. You know that point where you're thinking (often out loud), "I've had a lot to drink, but I'm not drunk yet!" You're wrong. 
  7. If your sobriety is actually in question, take yourself to the bathroom and sit down on the toilet. Then you'll know.
  8. I am so very sorry to say this, but the Cosmopolitan is over. That does not mean you can't drink them, but if you're drinking one sos to look very hip, the opposite is occurring. 
  9. There is about a 100 calorie difference between a vodka tonic and a vodka soda. So if you are dieting, skip the tonic. If you are not, calm down and enjoy your life. 
  10. You can't drink a Long Island Iced Tea after the age of 22 unless you do so ironically.  
  11. Before age 27, red wine will make you feel very, very sexy. After age 27, red wine will make you feel very, very sleep.
  12. Looking to get into brown liquors? Good for you! They're delish and give you a lot more drunk for your buck. Start with bourbon then progress to whiskey before heading into scotch. No, dark rum doesn't count. 
  13. Try not to fall victim to the great open bar illusion. These current free drinks don't count against future drinks you'll have to buy so just calm down.
  14. One shot of tequila does not equal one mixed drink. The mixed drink has the mixer to buffer the drunk. The tequila has that tiny lime wedge that's always too dry to excrete any liquid anyway.
  15. When being wildly peer-pressured into taking yet another shot of Jager it is totally acceptable to throw that shot over your shoulder and make like it went down rough. Just look behind you find.
  16. "Blacking out is just how my body handles too much alcohol," is not an OK statement. You drink far too much. Get that in check.
  17. My hangover remedy is as follows: Drinkwel before I drink. Drinkwel before I go to bed. One giant glass of OJ with Lyteshow when I wake up. You are welcome to it, but know that it doesn't work after more than four martinis, nor does anything Note: that is not a paid endorsement for Drinkwel or Lyteshow. Both companies are run by my friend Mike, and I truly stand by their product.
  18. The absolute best way to manage a night of drinking is that age old advice: one serving of alcohol, one serving of water. But don't do it if bathrooms are few and far between or you're wearing a wedding dress...
  19. Ruffies are still real. Take your drink to the bathroom with you or chug it before you go.
  20. Everclear is for children and alcoholics.
  21. And above all, remember this - nobody ever woke up the morning after a night of drinking and said, "damn, shoulda' had one more drink!"
What did I forget, friends?
 
AND, HAPPY ALMOST BIRTHDAY ALEX!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Elaine Stritch Died and I Realized I Can Be Kind of a Pussy

photo credit: my friend jenny anderson!

I'm sorry I said pussy in the title of this post, but it's relevant to the point of the whole post so I sort of had to do it. I thought about putting a * where the u is, but everyone who gets offended by the word pussy knows how to spell the word, and I don't know how a one letter deviation changes anything anyway. It's just a word. Deal with it.

At first I felt like that intro is how the late, great Elaine Stritch would have handled this situation, but I'm wrong. She would have written the title and launched right into her point without apologizing for using a dirty word. That both explains the reason I'm sad that Elaine Stritch died and serves as one example of me being kind of a pussy.

I didn't know Elaine Stritch personally, but much like Nora Ephron, I considered her a mentor. That's slightly strange because I'm not a singer/dancer/actress, but I am a woman who has things to say, like Elaine. Unlike Elaine, I'm often too afraid to say them.

"I find it easier to abstain than do a little bit of anything. I'm not a 'little bit' kind of dame. I want it all, whatever I do."

I spent last Thursday night watching Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (last year's brilliant documentary about her life) with a bottle of white wine and a box of tissues. With every scene I grew more impressed by the chutzpah of this woman from a generation where chutzpah was far less tolerated and more frustrated by my own lack of bravado. Yes, they say Stritchy was difficult to work with. It's true that she drank too much from time to time (...to time). But boy did she know who she was and behave as that brassy, take-no-prisoners broad every day of her life. 

"I don't think there's any greater feeling in the world than doing work you're good at." 

It's not Elaine's fearlessness that I wish I possessed because she wasn't fearless. She just knew how to manage her fears.

"Fear is the base of what everybody does wrong in their lives."

It wasn't her ability to totally ignore what other people think. She struggled with that too but found a way to just keep swimming.

The terrifying thing in my life is that I am just an actress. And I have to keep pushing it and getting approval, approval, approval or I don't think I'm worth two cents. And I am starting to get over it, thank God. And I'm just sad because I don't have many years left and I wish I had a longer space of time to think that Elaine Stritch is okay."
 
I think it was that balance she found between taking herself incredibly seriously while still realizing the world is a ridiculous game we're all playing.

"You can't be funny unless you're tragic, and you can't be tragic unless you're funny." 

I don't even really understand that quote, but I think it has everything to do with what made this woman so great. She allowed herself to be both funny and tragic without letting either get in the way of doing what she felt she was put on this earth to do. 
Maybe it's easier to take that stance once you've had success on your own terms? Or maybe you can only have success on your own terms if you've firmly adopted that stance? That's one more question I don't think Elaine would care to ask. She knew what she wanted and wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of getting it, least of all herself. 
 
Make a list of women in Hollywood or any other industry who are or were as bold and unapologetic as Elaine Stritch. It will be short and you'll question whether or not you should even put Tina Fey on it (I'm sorry Tina. I worship you for a whole other set of reasons). 

Will I end up on the list? Typing that question and not deleting it is among the more terrifying things I've done to date. Why does it feel like such an embarrassing thing to wonder? Where did I get this idea that being well-behaved is better than making an impact at the cost of pissing some people off? What was going on inside Elaine Stritch's head that isn't going on in mine?

I don't know right now, but I'm working on it. I finally outlined this mildly controversial project about motherhood that I've been afraid to tackle for two years. Today I might even tell some people about it.

I'm not going to end up the world's second Elaine Stritch, and that's just fine. For many reasons she's an inspiration not a perfect model.

But I'd like to make more decisions that aren't based on what the nasty peanut gallery in my head says. I plan to be bolder in how I express my goals and how I ask people to help me get them done. And every once in awhile, I think I'll leave the house without any pants on.   

"There's something that really frightens me - and that's fear."

   Me too Elaine. Thank you for the reminder.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Number One, Life Changing Takeaway from the ESPY Awards

Last night I got the very cool chance to attend the 2014 ESPY Awards because R is a professional athlete. Surprise!

Kidding, though he was recently the first pick for a backyard volleyball game among a group of fairly athletic people. 

I was at the ESPY's because R's business is doing business with the people who do the ESPY's. I can't share those details but just know it's a cool enough project to land us seats directly next to the entire Auburn football team (War Eagle! But also, what?! That makes no sense).

I found the ESPY's to be moving on many levels and not just because I'll cry at any awards show montage where people realize their dreams against a backdrop of powerful indie music. Before I get to my grand realization inspired by sports' biggest night, here are a few basic observations:
  • Male athletes can pull off the craziest suit blazers. Not one or two but three of them wore an emerald green situation like this one on KD (that's what we sports people call him). 
  • Michael Sam was given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for being the very first football player to go into the NFL draft as an openly gay man (if not the first openly gay American professional American football player. I need to do a comprehensive Google). This seems both totally insane (that it took this long) and totally logical (given the assumed nature of male-dominated sports in America). I will now count seeing that as one of the most important moments of my own life.
  • Drake is pretty funny.  

  • Maria Sharapova is the tallest woman I have ever seen. 

  • It's really awkward to react to something naturally when you know you're on live television. I have a lot more respect for Matt Lauer today. 
  • The Miller FORTUNE is a very delicious beer now available whenever you buy alcohol. That's not a paid endorsement; I really did enjoy the bourbon-inspired taste. 
  • Winning is really, really great, especially in slow motion.  
But now, as promised, here is my #1 takeaway from watching two plus hours of the greatest sports moments from the past year: I want an announcer calling the play-by-play that is my life. 

Do you know what any athletic event would be like without the incredibly motivating play-by-play of one or two professional sports watching people? Boring.

I realize the players can't hear the call as they are playing, but if they could I think they would play 100 to 110% better. It is so intense when the guy is like, "Here's James coming down the court. My GOD would you look at that stride! He's unstoppable! Folks, you're witnessing greatness here. Jim, can you remember a time in your life when you saw such raw talent?!"

These players don't even have to hear the call live. All they need to do is DVR the game and watch it later for months worth of motivation. The same applies to negative feedback. "I don't think he can do it, Jim. What do you think? Well Bob, it's not looking good. He just can't seem to get there today. The question is...will he ever?"

If I were a pro athlete I would be like, "Oh yeah Statler and Waldorf?! WATCH THIS!" (except I wouldn't make a Muppets reference because I would be much cooler as a pro athlete).

With some guy or girl calling every moment of my day there's no telling what I'd get done.

"Here's Jessie popping out another solid scene. My GOD would you look at that joke! She's hysterical! Folks, you're witnessing greatness here. Jim, can you remember a time in your life when you saw someone write that funny of a couplet without stopping for 45 minutes to check Facebook?" Or it could be the equally motivating, "I don't think she's got it in her today, Jim. What do you think? Well Bob, it's not looking good. She has watched three, back-to-back episodes of Dawson's Creek this morning, and as you know those puppies are a hour. The question is...will she ever...get off the couch?"

If this is not already an app then it should be so please excuse me while I go make a bagillion dollars.

So in closing I'd like to thank ESPN and the ESPY producers for leading me to this very important life realization and also for inviting one of my all-time favorite So You Think You Can Dance contestants, Cyrus, to last night's show. Yes, I tracked a dance reality show participant down in a room full of the world's hottest professional athletes, told him I loved him and asked him for a picture. Maybe it's a good thing I haven't invented that life play-by-play app just yet...

So You Think You Can BE AWESOME!




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

(Most Of) My Massive List of Wedding Advice (Finally)

Annie's sweet little blog header!

It took two months of marriage and a push from fellow blogger Annie over at the fantastic Altar-ed to make me finally get this long list of wedding planning advice down on Internet (what is paper?). To help me even more, the newly engaged Annie sent an incredibly comprehensive set of questions, and I just typed my answers into the blank spaces. Being a wife is very time-consuming. 

There is much more than this, of course, but hopefully these honest responses to the tough questions (how do you avoid changing your ideal wedding color combo with every single visit to Style Me Pretty? Answer: you don't...) will set the planners and those currently trying to tolerate their insanity at ease. Want more? Throw your unanswered questions into comments! Missing wedding prep madness? Follow all of Annie's hysterical adventures!

CLICK TO READ!





Friday, July 11, 2014

My Bottom Line on the Whole "In Praise of 42-Year-Old-Women" Situation

*photo source

I tend to keep quiet about the more divisive gender issues that hit the media (unless they're the Duke Sex List scandal or the Lena Dunham photoshopping issue...), but I had a very specific reaction to this whole Esquire "In Praise of 42-Year-Old Women" thing that I didn't see represented much on the Interwebs so I thought I may as well join the fray.

Recap for those unfamiliar

FIRST, Tom Junod, a celebrated journalist, wrote a piece entitled "In Praise of 42-Year-Old" women about how this year's hottest age on the Esquire "ranking of the ages" is 42 because 42-year-old women are hotter, more interesting and more confident than ever. That's paraphrasing so please read the full piece if it interests you. Here's one great section:

 Let's face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman. With half her life still ahead of her, she was deemed to be at the end of something—namely, everything society valued in her, other than her success as a mother. If she remained sexual, she was either predatory or desperate; if she remained beautiful, what gave her beauty force was the fact of its fading. And if she remained alone... well, then God help her.

THEN, many women of the Internet reacted negatively saying things like, "thanks for saying we're finally interesting at 42," and, "so you're saying previous 42-year-old women sucked?" and also, "stop telling us what we're like!" Here is one of my favorite pieces by Sarah Miller over at The Hairpin, and here's a fun quote:

And according to Junod what makes me hot isn’t just being hot, it’s that, unlike other women who just haven’t had all this time, I also finally figured out how to be sort of interesting.

OF COURSE some men of the Internet reacted negatively to that negative reaction saying things like, "why can't you just take a compliment?" and, "can a man write anything positive about women without getting lambasted?"

AND FINALLY, somebody really funny (who I know personally!!!) wrote "In Praise of 42-Year-Old Jared Leto." You go Elizabeth Donnelly!

(Honorable mention goes to Tricia Romano for her expertly executed "In Praise of 42-Year-Old Men" I don't know her personally, but I'd really like to) 

NOW MY THOUGHTS
 
At first I wanted to react by saying, hey men, just stop writing about when, how, why and at what age we women are good/hot/sexy/interesting, and we'll stop calling you out for generalizing our existence. But that's not realistic and it means women would have to stop writing about how all men in their 20s are babies who think with their dicks (which they actually aren't).

Then I wanted to say, girls, just stop pretending that Esquire's "occasional ranking of ages" actually means something and take it for what it is, a ploy to get the Internet's panties in a major bunch. But that's not fair because a lot of people are reading this article so therefore it matters in terms of the larger conversation about image and identity (I think...).

So finally, I arrived at my bottom line frustration with this whole thing - don't show me four pictures of incredibly gorgeous, age-defying celebrities whose job it is to look and act in a way that is enviable to women and enticing to men and call that the state of the 42-year-old woman. I love Sofia Vergara as much as the next girl, but she is not my role model nor should she be. She is just one woman, like the rest of us.

I don't hate the piece by any means. It raises interesting issues about the state of women's rights, sexuality and confidence today, even if it does include this really weird section: Go to a party: There is simply no one as unclothed as a forty-two-year-old woman in a summer dress. For all her toughness, and humor, and smarts, you know exactly what she looks like, without the advantage of knowing who she is.

But I do feel obligated to call bull-shit on the "this is 42" thing. Write me an article about how the media drives women (and men) to act and look younger for much longer than ever before. That's interesting. I'd even be cool with a piece about real 42-year-old women doing "age-defying" things. Feel free to throw on celebrity in there for good measure.

What we have here is an opinion piece by one man generalizing all women at one age. And just because that is ridiculous doesn't mean we have to laugh it off.

   

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Did Social Media Made Me Vain? Or Maybe, How Much More Vain Did Social Media Make Me?



Last week I posted four outfit selfies in two days on my Twitter account. I was at the Fontainebleau for that iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party. I had put a lot of thought into what I should wear to each specific event of the weekend. I was alone in a super fancy hotel room that had a really giant and well-positioned mirror. I finally figured out how to use filters on Twitter.

Nope.

I thought I looked hot four times in two days, and I wanted the Internet to agree.

Is there any other reason that we post pictures of ourselves on the Twitter, Insta', Book, Snapchat and Vine? Aren't we all just saying, "Here I am! Please react!" If we weren't in it for a response - even a negative one - we wouldn't post the shot. There is no known health benefit to uploading photos onto the Internet. It is, at it's core, an act of vanity; we believe that we are worth being seen. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that necessarily (at this point in the post...), but I am here to admit that my relationship with vanity has changed significantly since the advent of social media. I am more vain, and I think you might be able to say the same.

Five years ago I said, "I am absolutely not going to be one of those people who announces their engagement on Facebook." Then I did just that. After getting engaged I said, "I am not going to be one of those people who puts a tons of wedding pictures up on Facebook." Same deal. And those were things that were actually relevant and interesting to the people in my life. They were "news." The exact stuff I site when I defend the importance of social media in the first place. "It's such a good tool for connecting," I say. "It's a great promotional tool for my work," I say. "I get lots of great articles about the miserable gun violence situation in our country," I say.

A selfie is not news.  It's become "news" in the way that what the Kardashians do is news, but it's not necessary information (much like all the details of their lives).

But who cares? If everyone is doing it then it's no longer taboo, right? That's true as far as I was concerned when I posted my own shots. I felt no sense of the awkwardness or shame that I might have felt when I first started using social media. In fact I thought, everyone does this; why should I hold back? They say the more personal your posts the more dedicated your following, so my selfies only stand to help my cause. They are, dare I say, important. Fine, that's pushing it, but the, "what's the big deal" argument still holds a good amount of weight. Until you consider this:

Two weeks ago I got a haircut, and when I left the salon it didn't look as perfect as I'd hoped for that post-hair-cut-in-the-car-selfie-shot, and I was legitimately disappointed. I actually took the time to stop, take several shots, and filter them in various ways before giving up, really annoyed.

That makes me feel awkward and a twinge ashamed. And it makes me wonder, was the vanity always inside me or did Twitter turn me into a monster? I have long-loved a good photo of myself on a great hair day in an outfit that makes me feel great. I have always enjoyed being the center of attention. I've written a blog about my life for seven years.

But I think there's a difference between enjoying and needing the spotlight. Enjoying is a little bit of  vanity - the belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others. Needing it might be narcissism - the pursuit of gratification from that vanity. I'm not entirely sure, and only the given photo poster knows how the given selfie they post makes them feel.

All I know is that I didn't love how I felt when only one or two people commented on my four selfies, and there's one very easy way to stop that feeling from popping up again.

 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I Played On My Friend's Tinder (And All I Got Were 1,000 Questions and One Weird Text)

*image source


I recently came to an important conclusion. I can't let the simple fact that I'm married get in the way of my insight into the fascinating ins and outs of the dating world. If this blog's intended focus is 20 and 30-something life, then it is my obligation - nay, duty to cover the myriad ways that we as 20 and 30-somethings lead our lives, romantically.

Just kidding, my friend Jeni asked me if I wanted to Tinder for her while we were at dinner and now I'm hooked.

Guys, this thing is addictive. It started with Jeni over mussels at Marvin then morphed into an intense session for Carolyn over darts at Lucky's before I switched over to helping Liz while we "watched" World Cup Soccer at Tavern. Jeni let me swipe without her visual approval! Carolyn let me write her messages for her! Liz said I picked really ugly guys but they seemed nicer than the ones she was going for so she was grateful! It. was. so. fun.

But while I was playing Tinder these friends were often being Tinder played (...is how the Sex & the City voice over of this story would go). It's all fun and games until somebody gets a dick pic. Here based on three to four sessions and a whole host of stories from friends are my observations, questions and conclusions around the hottest online dating game since Dream Phone.

#TeamMatt but only because Dan is wearing a turtleneck and Bob is named Bob

Observations

  • Men love dogs.
  • Less overtly attractive men love to hide themselves in confusing group shots
  • Men seem to think that pictures of them with attractive women will make other women love them. This, as far as I can tell, is the biggest mistake happening on the Tinder.
  • I always support the well-done pun of a dating tagline. My friends run for the hills the minute they see it. This is both a warning to men and reminder that it's a very good thing I got married.
  • It seems that every single person is a match with every single person they "swipe right" on. That or I have the three most right-swiped female friends on Tinder. 
  • If you accidentally "swipe left" on someone it takes a very long time for them to circle around again as an option. 
  • I Tindered for two almost identical sisters both living in the Chicago are and came across zero duplicate men. Either there are endless men on Tinder or these algorithms for "type" really work.
  • It has been explained to me that if you are a match you must message immediately or the guy forgets about you. Such is life...
  • When messaging, a simple, "hey, what's up?" performs much better overall than, say, "hey! nice to "meet" you? what have you been up to on this fine summer day? And BTW, cutest dog!" Once again, thank god someone married me. 
Questions
  • Why can't we have more profile information? I'm not asking for a ton more but the one-sentence is just not cutting it for me. 
  • If a guy messages you right away does that obviously mean he's interested in a hook-up vs. a date? 
  • If smokers or divorced men or bankers or candle stick makers are completely out of the question for you then can you just message that right off the bat? "Hey, what's up? Smoke?"
  • And is it entirely safe to have perfect strangers who have made clear that they find you attractive knowing exactly how many miles away you are and what you look like? 
Conclusions
  • Tinder is the equivalent of sitting at an outdoor cafe and yelling, "YES, NO, YES, NO!" to every single guy that walks by except in this case the yelling is kind of silent and they don't know you're doing it unless they yelled too. I can't decide if that makes Tinder genius or terrible, but I will say that it's an incredibly fun way to spend 45 minutes (and by that I mean 3 hours). 
  • If you are going for it in the online dating world then you may as well be on Tinder. By sheer percentage of people, there's a chance you'll match with someone legitimately wonderful. I don't find it all that different than meeting someone at a bar. 9 times out of 10 they are terrible. This way you can determine that through app messaging without having to suffer through the misery of doing it in person. Again, is this genius or terrible for the world? I don't know, but it's certainly easier.  
  • So in the end, I think the worst part of Tinder is that it's yet another distraction from actual life. I was buried in that app for way too long while in the company of live friends, and I could have gone on a lot longer. Is the pursuit of a partner important enough to take a pause from the present every now and then? Sure. But Tinder for the serious Tinderer (sp?) is not a pause from the present; it's a beckoning, glowing wormhole of endless men (and women) that you dismiss or accept with a single muscle movement. God I wish I thought of it...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

20-Nothings Travels: How Travel Makes Me Feel Small in the Best Possible Way


tag out, don't care

I'm not an entirely calm person by nature. I'm not prone to outbursts or anxiety attacks, but my mind and body are most commonly racing at a stomach-ache inducing speed. I worry a lot. I want everything to be perfect. And I'm always disappointed in myself for not going further, faster.

So it doesn't exactly make sense that travel gives me one of my only true sources of "zen," especially because I don't mean "zen" in the hammock-on-a-palm-tree-covered-beach (I know because I spent an hour in a hammock on a palm tree covered beach yesterday). Travel throws you into the unknown, especially the kind I've been doing for the past week. It's new people, strange places, and activities that could go very poorly for a non-athletic perfectionist who is never quite sure whether or not she gets wildly sea sick.

And yet this kind of traveling makes me feel confident and powerful. It makes me less worried about what's around the corner in my life and my career. And it makes me feel insignificant in the absolute best way.

I've spent the past week between Miami and the Florida Keys doing everything from partying VIP-style at a Jennifer Lopez concert (courtesy of iHeart Radio and my hosts, VISIT FLORIDA) to deep sea fishing with a 15-year-old first mate (courtesy of The Florida Keys and Mitch, first mate of Team Warrior Sport Fishing Expeditions), and just like the last time I stepped outside of my world and into another, I have never felt smaller. That's what meeting new people and exploring new places does to me; it makes me feel like the world is so huge, diverse and incredible that my fears about whether or not a given script will sell or R and I will find the perfect new apartment or I'll land a sponsor for Sunday Night Sex Talks before the 3rd year anniversary fade away. That sounds like the typical "vacation from my problems" pitch (thank you Dr. Leo Marvin), but for me it's a step to the side of that travel truth. My calm comes from meeting so. many. people who are finding happiness in so. many. different ways.

Mike the Captain of the African Queen. Suzanne and her husband Lance who contracted to restore that famous boat to its old glory. Mitch the first mate of the Warrior, a 15-year-old Keys kid who wants to be a neuro surgeon. "A" the wildly attractive Park Ranger at Dry Tortugas National Park whose front yard is miles of uninterrupted ocean. Nora the financial planner turn world traveler (and you can too with her advice!). Seattle the traveling photographer from Toronto who finds the exact right shot of every single sight (and you can't too...). Tom the award-winning writer who used to be the last stop for UPS packages in Las Vegas. Patricia the most adventurous mother of two I've ever met. Bill who makes his living kayaking with his dog Scupper. Sara his assistant who hopes to make hers incorporating paddle boarding into therapy. Rick the botanist at Kona Kai Resort who loves plants so. damn. much. And Bobby of Sundowners Restaurant (and the several others he owns) who knows everything there is to know about Key Lime Pie (and sells what I deemed to be the absolute best).

All these people (and too many more to fit into a reasonable paragraph) are living their lives in all these different ways. As of today, we are connected; as of days ago, we weren't; as of tomorrow, who knows where my new connection to them will take me. But more importantly, the myriad ways they are living their lives reminds me that my own can, will and should morph throughout my years, and that the morphing is what will make it great. Worry is a waste of time, there is no such thing as perfect, and stomach aches get in the way of killer meals.

Today, after just five days of travel, I feel so much more journey focused that destination obsessed, and I don't think anything but travel outside my world and world view could make that feeling possible.

Don't worry Mom (and R, though he'd come with me), I'm not going full-time rogue. But it's nice to know then when I need to some centering all I have to do is step outside my circle.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

20-Nothings Travels: Roadtripping Miami to Key West, 18 worlds in 3.5 Hours

The rest of my time in Miami was as times in Miami tend to go (I now know), totally over-the-top, incredibly decadent, and mostly spent at a pool. Saturday day featured the iHeartRadio ultimate pool party, which looked like this:


Saturday night featured a Ham-Hattan (bacon-infused bourbon) plus the rest of whatever goes in a Manhattan aka the Jon Hamm meets Don Draper of cocktails, which looked like this: 


And Saturday after hours featured these absolutely incredible bracelets that light up with the beat of the music. The geniuses at VISIT FLORIDA provided them for the eve, so if there way any questions as to the general quality of this state, the answer is, genius. They looked like this:


P.S. Jennifer Lopez is a god among women who puts on a show that is somehow as down-to-earth and charming as it is jam-packed with hunky Adonises, Fly Girl dance moves and Versace body suits (aka the opposite of down-to-earth). I loved it so much. 

But my time was up in the city where the heat is on (because humidity didn't fit Will Smith's beat) on Sunday morning when I set sail (in a Hyundai Accent) for Key West, part two of the adventure. We'll do this like we did the #honeymoonacrossamerica (but much sadder because we're without R).

DAY 3: Miami Beach, Fl to Key West, FL

Detours:
(note: The Keys is best experienced as a string of detours that end up equaling a vacation). 

  • Boardwalk Pizza - Obviously couldn't resist stopping for a slice of Jersey's finest, in southern most Florida. On the plus side, they got the colors of the state highway signs just right. On the minus, not so much the pizza, but it makes a fantastic second breakfast none the less. Sub sandwiches looked incredible. I didn't get to speak to the owner, but I imagine he is a guy named Sal originally from Bayonne and somehow my cousin.


  • Robbie's of Islamorada - Robbie's is one of those places that both locals and tourists swear by, which is a rare and fun find. For $1 (you read that right), you can feed the Tarpin (which I was calling Turpin until five minutes ago). Tarpin are giant "fish" (because they're more like dragons that swim), which leap out of the water like the sea monster in The Princess Bride to snatch the fish out of your hand. It's so great! I don't have a video of myself doing this because I'm traveling alone and "can you take a video of me" seems like a big ask. 
visible from route 1

actual size, giant
  • Finally made it to Key West for a first slice of Key Lime pie at Hogfish Bar and Grill, so named for the delicious hog fish (a flaky white with some sweetness not unlike a scallop), which I didn't know existed. They don't have a website because this is Key West. Just as someone on the street about it, and they'll point you in the right direction. What does have a website is Smilin' Bob's Smoked Fish Dip which you MUST FIND THE MOMENT YOU GET TO THE KEYS. It's sold in grocery stores here or at Hogfish. Eat it as much as possible, and then take some home. But this paragraph was supposed to be about the Key Lime pie, which is equally incredible.
    it's not supposed to be lime-colored
     
  • And finally, our sweet little Inn just across the street from the Hemingway Home in Key West. You can walk all of Duvall Street (the Bourbon Street of Key West) and end up on Mallory Square (the Faneuil Hall of Key West) for a Sunset Celebration (the nightly circus show that isn't like anything, anywhere) from here.
#photobrag

Observations
  • The fish-shaped mailbox is a requirement of The Florida Keys

  • The palm trees here have these wooden holders on the sides that look like palm tree leg braces. I'm told that's to help the young palms grow up to be tall and straight, which I find slightly discriminating.  

  • Sandals Outlets are to the Keys as Cherokee Outlets are to the middle of the country. I didn't go to one because I'm involved in a very serious bet with R about how long I can go without buying clothing, shoes or accessories, but I wanted to very, very badly. 

  • Route 1 is the highway between Miami and Key West. I call it a highway because that's what maps call it, but in reality it is a one lane road that looks like something out of Driving Miss Daisy II (yes, I know how it ends. It's just II because these are modern times, though slightly less modern in the Keys). 
Today I asked a Florida Keys park ranger why he decided to apply for a position in The Keys and he said, "because I wasn't ready to enter the real world yet." He didn't mean the world outside park rangering; he meant the world outside this enchanted place that seems somehow trapped in time. I've been here for 48 hours, and I totally get it. 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

20-Nothings Travels: How To Survive a Day-Long, Crazy-Hot Pool Party in Six Easy Steps

As you know, I'm in Miami at the Fontainebleau thanks to the fine folks at VISIT FLORIDA. But aside from the joy that my joy may bring you (thanks Mom and Dad!), this trip has yet to prove wildly useful to you. That is aside from the fact that you're currently booking a trip to Florida because I've made it clear it is not your Mommom's Florida (note: my tagling line not VISIT FLORIDA'S, though I'm working on them).

So, because no matter where you are this summer you may find yourself up against the kind of day-long, sun-filled, bass-thumping pool party that I was lucky to experience thanks to iHeartRadio, here are my top six tips for surviving.

calm before the storm 

  • YOU NEED TO WEAR A HAT. That's in all caps because I'm yelling it at you directly through the computer. Everyone from Target to Eugenia Kim sells them, and they come in every color, shape and size to fit whatever color, shape and size matches your given head. Faces burn first, and shade in the skull is a life saver.
  • YOU NEED TO DRINK TONS OF WATER. Same deal. Feel free to alternative between waters and pina coladas (or if you're me, vodka/soda/pineapple juice), but the point is to hydrate. I'm sorry that I sound like your Mom, but your Mom doesn't pass out at a super cool pool party, so listen to me.
rubber ducky marketing at the Fontainebleau Miami
  •  YOU NEED TO STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE IN YOUR BATHING SUIT. I'm yelling that the loudest. Nobody is looking at you in your bathing suit. I mean, everyone is looking at you in your bathing suit but everyone is looking at everyone and you are one out of a gagillion sweaty people in bathing suits, so if the reason you're not going in the pool for a much-needed cool-off is because you're afraid of what you look like in a bathing suit then you are being foolish. I understand you completely, but you are still being foolish, as am I when I feel that same way. 
  • Bring as small a bag as you can possibly bring. Bonus points if it's water proof-ish. The "ish" is because my pool-proof bag isn't water proof but rather incredibly cheap pleather from H&M that I care very little about, so if it goes in the pool, I'm fine. Why not a big bag with your magazines, towel and sunscreen? Because it's too hot to read, towels are at the pool and sunscreen comes in travel sized-bottles. Why pack small? Because you're going to need to hide that bag somewhere while you run around in search of shade.
  •  I don't care how cure your dress/romper/shorts outfit/linen pants are. If they are annoying to get on and off with a wet but and boobs, DO NOT WEAR. There is nothing more miserable than putting clothing on when you are wet, so make sure that clothing is as non miserable as possible. This may take some testing. 
wet butt inducer but genius cool-down device
  • And in the eternal words of Else (or Anna? I've only seen it once), LET IT GO. Summer is for relaxing while stepping outside of your comfort zone (btw so is Fall, Winter and Spring, so just learn this one in general). Who cares that the pool is full of beer? Who cares that you're sweating like a pro wrestler? Who cares that 50% of the women are wearing thong bathing suits? Enjoy the moment, because there will come a time when you're way too old to be able to do even that. And when that happens, trade the pool in for the beach. It's way less crowded and way breezier, though they won't be playing "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea on repeat, which is a real bummer. 
 
#thighselfie   
 
More on the iHeart Radio Ultimate Pool Party tomorrow including thoughts on why Jennifer Lopez may or may not be the world's greatest woman. #LoveFL

Saturday, June 28, 2014

20-Nothings Travels: #LoveFL in Miami at the iHeart Radio Ultimate Pool Party

from my fancy hotel room

My not so little #honeymoonacrossamerica gave me a not so little travel bug. Luckily some new friends at VISIT FLORIDA offered me the chance to take a second one, solo, but still.

Hello from the insane Fontainebleau Miami Beach where I'm experiencing all that Miami/Florida has to offer in the form of the insane iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party. Iggy Azalea performed last night. The white marble floor has little black bow ties inlayed. There are eight pools, and those are only the ones I could see from a single vantage point. In the eternal words of Annie, I think I'm gonna like it heeeeere!

Day One Observation and Discoveries 

  • Miami is incredibly humid (in comparison to L.A. and every place in the world), but this place does such an impressive job with A/C, fans, misters and pools everywhere you look that it's manageable. My hair disagrees, but my body is just fine. 
  •  It's not just Cuban, Caribbean or "Flo-ribbean" (just learned that one) food here. Last night we had a delicious South East Asian smorgasbord at Khong River House. Those guys own three similarly themed restaurants in the 'hood and I believe all of them feature lounges are night. Order the prawns. They're the size of lobsters. 

  • The food scene is blowing up just as much as the construction scene here. New condos, new shopping areas, new museums, a new Thompson Hotel. There is lots of investment from Brazilian and other South American companies here, and they know how to make a skyline look pretty, especially with all the old art deco restoration. 
  • People are very...how do I say this...free. In fairness I was at a pool party in 80 degree whether where Tiesto was spinning, but there was still more gettin' down in a killer bathing suit than I've seen in a long time. And I live in L.A.
  •  These iHeart Radio people know how to put on a party. I worked at the Tribeca Film Festival for two seasons, and I've never seen this big an event done this well. There are floating rubber duckies in the hot pink theme color of the event. That's getting it done. 

  •  Ariana Grande is very small. Lil Jon has the best microphone yelling voice I've ever heard. I still can't believe Nick Cannon is married to Mariah Carey. Tiesto really knows what he's doing. And I am now totally and completely on the Iggy Azalea band wagon. It's like falling in love with Gwen Stefani all over again. 
Gotta figure out how to make an super sexy cover-up dress out of the contents of my carry-on suitcase... 
Be back for a Day Two recap. 
  • Oh and P.S. - I miss R... It's just not a second honeymoon without your first honeymoon co-pilot. 
   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How To Make Friends As An Adult + My Trip To Sunny Florida!



Tomorrow I leave for the very incredible opportunity to experience the iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party in Miami Florida (at the very incredible Fontainebleau Miami Beach). My trip is sponsored by VISIT FLORIDA, a group entrusting me to bring the journey from my laptop to your living room (slash iPhone) in as vivid detail as my bullet-point recaps can bring. Much like the #honeymoonacrossamerica, you can expect riveting observations, candid commentary and my favorite photos, regardless of whether or not they make sense in the context of the post!

But this trip also means I'll be traveling sans R or any other individuals that I know. Fellow bloggers will also be covering the event, the VISIT FLORIDA team will be fully involved as will the iHeartRadio peeps, and I'm sure a Fontainebleau employee or two will enter the mix. But as of now all of these people are strangers meaning I'll be forced to do what adults outside a college setting without real jobs rarely if ever have to do: make new friends.

I'll be honest; I'm a little nervous.

Yes, I'm friendly. Yes, I'm social. Yes, I spend my days making up things for people to say. But it's been a long time since I combined all those skills into me coming up with friendly things to say in a new social setting. I spend most of my alone time these days (as in the five minutes before R arrives to the restaurant where we're meeting) scrolling through any one of the twenty apps I keep on my phone specifically for this awkward moment. The idea of having to hear myself explain myself over and over again is intimidating. Who am I in a fifteen second intro or less? How soon do I mentioned that I just got a husband...that I aspire to write for television and film...that I also freelance in the fashion world...that I'm a lefty?

Tricky as it seems in my head right now, there's something I love about the flying solo part of this adventure. It's not often slash ever that I get to think about who I am and how I want to explain that to brand new people. If not for Google I could be whatever far more awesome version of myself I can cook up over a five hour flight to Florida (already I know she'd have a slight midwestern accent and wink a lot. People love people with both those qualities).

But if I must be myself and use that self to make fast friends, then a music festival in sunny Florida  (followed by an additional adventure I'll get to later on) isn't a shabby way to practice. Wish me luck. Two minutes after meeting me in the second grade a group of kids took to calling me "Nosey Rosey" so it's got to go better than that.






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Top Ten Life Hacks


I recently started working on a new freelance assignment focused on giving health, beauty, and fitness guidance to teenaged girls. It's an adorable series of videos that feature step-by-step instruction on everything from "how to tell if you're more than friends" to "how to make a bow tie hair clip." (preparing the youth of America for any and all challenges they may face). One part of each video is called the "Hack" and it features a simple trick for accomplish a task with less time and effort. I now know this is a major thing on the Internet. Beauty hacks and Life Hacks and Fitness Hacks and Health Hacks. Put "_____ Hack" into the Pinterest search bar and you'll have reading content for days.

I can now say that I know how to straighten my hair without a straightener, put on lipstick that will not smudge, make trail mix in 30 seconds and put some pep in my step in 15. But I have a few hacks of my own. I can't say they're worth of a Pinterest infographic (or even this blog post, maybe?), but here they are:

The Top Ten Ways I Hack My Life!
  1. I leave the teabag in the cup while I'm drinking the tea so that when it's time to re-fill with water and nuke it for another one minute and twenty seconds, the bag is already in there. 
  2. I cut the avocado in half, open one side, score that side with a knife while the 'cado is still in its skin jacket, and then squeeze the pre-cut pieces into my salad. 
  3. I get out of the shower, comb my hair, throw in some light gel and then wrap it up into a low bun that I secure with a claw clip until it dries, ten hours later. 
  4. I take Fountain. Always. 
  5. I open up a letter, spreadsheet, TV pitch, script that I think was really well formatted and just insert all new stuff into that same document. Hack hack: always "Save As."
  6. I set up my Amazon.com account for one-click purchasing and then buy everything on Amazon.com.
  7. Blush that is also lipstick that also works as a pen in a real jam.
  8. Gogurt.
  9. I do lunges and bicep curls at the same time. That's less about saving time and more about making Jillian Michaels stop yelling, but still. 
  10. And finally - I check Instgram, Twitter and Facebook while R drives!
As we say at the close of my little videos - share your fave life hacks in comments to find how your BFF's are getting through their days supes fast!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Roughest 72 Hours Of My Marriage, Thus Far


Two Tuesdays ago R decided that we were moving.

I had suffered through one too many days spent trying to get work done at our kitchen table in our hot apartment that sits directly below the world's heaviest footed bichon frises and their owner, a 60-year-old recent heart attack survivor who seems to be a employed to scream at video games. And R had suffered through one too many evenings spent listening to me complain about my inability to get quality work done while we could be finishing OITNB and/or this entire season of Hannibal. "Coffee shops aren't reliable, plus there's only so much coffee a person can drink! The library can be too crowded, plus it's awkward when the homeless people ask me to read their scripts. And I'd do one of those co-working space things, but they're actually really expensive..."
  • "We're moving," R said. 
  • "Okay," I replied, "We can start thinking about that."
  • "No," R said, "We're moving this month. Your career is too important to waste any more time in an apartment that doesn't work for you." 
Sometimes I embellish dialogue to make it sound better, but in this case that's a direct quote. R really cares about my career that much. Yes, it does feel absolutely incredible to have that kind of support.
So incredible, in fact, that it inspired me to blindly follow him into an attempt at moving into a two bedroom apartment in two weeks, one of which I will be traveling for a writing assignment to Florida.

Last Saturday R and I visited a gorgeous two bedroom apartment in Los Feliz. R knew it was special the minute he saw it online. "This is the one," he said. I trusted him because A. it was really beautiful and B. that's the same reaction he had to the really nice leather couch we currently own, our wedding venue and, I now know, me. This time, though, I wasn't sure I agreed. This place was and is gorgeous, well-maintained, full of character and boasts all the features we're looking for in a prospective home but I had some reservations. The kitchen's a bit small, there's only one bathroom, it's further than I'd like from a coffee shop, etc. Oh, and it's way more than I wanted to spend (which is a tricky point to bring up because I want to spend nothing, always, and that's no way to go about getting a second bedroom/office that's going to make my writing career. More on that later). By Saturday night R had me convinced that my concerns were valid but that at this price, we would not find better. "Are you sure?" I said, "Absolutely," he said. And so I listened because of the couch and the wedding venue and, well, me.

Last Sunday the little voice inside my belly started to disagree. (I'm convinced it's there and not in my head because if it was in my head it would A. be clearer B. give me a headache not a stomach ache and C. gurgle less). I didn't want the apartment. It was too much. I didn't like it. I thought we'd find better. I didn't want to move so soon. Unfortunately the landlord couldn't hear my stomach grumbling because she texted to say the apartment was ours (FYI all real estate deals are now conducted over text message because moving into a brand new house is equivalent to picking a meeting spot inside the Century City Mall). And so R and I got into it. I won't call it a fight because no voices were raised and both of us were perfectly comfortable losing, but it wasn't a pleasant conversation. He wanted the place. I didn't. And we were both really hating that fact. In the end, I "won." That night we texted the landlord to say we did not want the apartment. Before we went to bed that night I said:
  • "Ugh remember an hour ago when we were those annoying versions of ourselves? That was not fun." And R said: 
  • "Yeah I did not like that eye-roll you pulled." And I said:
  • "That's a specialty of mine." 
And then R tried to imitate it, and it was hysterical and we laughed really hard and I knew were were going to be just fine. Until...

This Monday when the landlord texted again and offered us the apartment for less money. We just so happened to be eating lunch six blocks from the apartment at that very moment. It was too much of a "God wink" as my mom would say, to ignore so we drove by to look at it one more time. This time I realized it wasn't that far from a coffee shop, that the property was so much nicer than what we've seen, and that the other amenities outweighed the size of the kitchen.
  • "Fine," I said, "I'm in if you're in."
  • "I've been in all along," he said. "I knew this place was special."
  • "Alright, alright," I said. "Don't rub it in."
But before moving forward, we decided to call the business manager we've been working with to get some final financial thoughts. We already spoke to them about a reasonable budget for a two bedroom apartment based on our current finances, but we wanted a final opinion on what we would be sacrificing savings-wise by landing on the higher end of the rent range. The answer: this wouldn't break the bank, but it wouldn't make the bank (a little phrase I came up with myself though I don't think our business manager was quite as impressed with it as I was).

And so, after 72 hours of dealing with this crap - I mean exciting life change that my own complaining inspired - we found ourselves faced with the most important decision of our married life, to date: to live well below our means for a bit, or not. I said yes, definitely. R said yes probably, but... Then we went round and round making the exact same points using various different metaphors because we both just wanted the other to agree with us.

In the end, we passed. Well, R passed because I was too chicken to even text the prospective landlord. We're in a position to save a lot of money if we go with a cheaper option right now. Also, there are many more apartments in the sea. And most important of all, we're both not all in, and while that won't always be the case, we can try for a bit longer than two weeks for it to be the case on a new apartment.

Last night I gave R and unsolicited hug because he deserved it after all that back and forth.
  • "Things were real touch and go for awhile there," I said.
  • "Yeah I did not like that," he said. 
  • "Let's just stay in this apartment for the rest of our lives," I said.
I know that's about as realistic as the idea that we'll never have another touch-and-go 72 hours in our married life. Plus - to circle back to my deep-seeded financial anxiety - I have to and want to get more comfortable with decisions that involve spending money. R can help because he's more comfortable in that realm of life, and I'm hell bent on letting him do so. I think maybe that's the real moral of this story. This little thing happened to us that revealed some of our weaknesses and some of our strengths so now we have to take note of those weaknesses and strengths and keeping working on them together. So a little pain for a lot of gain. And with that I've turned marriage into the equivalent of going to the gym!

Six weeks down, forever to go :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How To Get Out of A Rut, I Hope



I feel like everyone I know is in a rut.

I should specify that I mostly know TV writers who did not staff this TV staffing season, so my "everyone" is pretty specific. I should also specify that by "in a rut" I mean that they're frustrated, bummed, confused, stalled. No one is threatening to leave the business. No one has stayed in bed for six days straight watching The Wonder Years on Netflix. There is still rose left on the shelves at the Trader Joes.

And yet, nothing is really happening right now for so many of us.

When our parents call for a check-in we have to say, "Good! Working on a bunch of new ideas," or, "Okay... Have a few things I'm developing," or, "This is actually a really quiet time for writers, so, yeah."

We all know that's the game. There are constant hills and valleys on the way to some sort of plateau; a plateau being we get paid money for something that we wrote. Wouldn't that be the summit? you probably just thought. Hahahaha. No.

But the point of this post isn't to dwell on what isn't happening; it's to find a way to make something else happen, to push some dirt around in the valley until we've make ourselves a little hill.

I'm going to be honest in a way that makes me uncomfortable because it feels like bragging, but we're old friends at this point so I think you can deal: I don't really do ruts. I have really bad days where I sulk a lot and then lie in bed with the covers pulled up over my face (a move R calls "going turtle") while watching endless re-runs of Rehab Addict on HGTV. Sometimes I go through phases where I don't get a lot of writing done because it's just not coming out of my brain. I have plowed my way through the, "how's the writing going?" question many times because I don't have anything good to say. But every time that happens I do this thing that I didn't know was a thing until I just finished the first season of Silicon Valley (which you should watch immediately if you haven't already). I pivot.

I take who I am and what I think I'm good at, and force myself to go find something else to do. 

I take one of the things that is working in my life and I find a way to do it more. I change the way I structure my day. I change the people I've been seeing a lot of. I sleep more or sleep less. I work out. I start a new TV show. I take a week off from blogging if I have no ideas to blog about and use that time to read a book or two instead. A lot of the time - like right now - I go big and finally start that podcast I've been meaning to start for five years (coming August 2014!). Other times I force myself to do things that scare me like e-mail a writer idol of mine to see if she'd be interested in getting together for lunch. Yes, I keep pushing myself to do the work that needs to be done (Rachel I swear I'm writing the book proposal), but if that's not going well on account of the rut then I have to pull myself out to re-charge with another creative outlet until that mojo is back.

My rut busters (just came up with that!) are almost always writing based because that's what I love most, but I know people who've started a new sport, picked up an instrument or started volunteering as a way to take themselves out of their daily, not-so-great routine and shove themselves into a new circle.

Bottom line - I think of a rut as the one part of my brain - the negative, frustrated, bully side - beating the crap out of the other part - the focused, confident, go-get-'em side. If I can just distract the bully side by shoving things that the go-get-'em side loves in front of it then the fight is over. I know that doesn't entirely make sense because if one side is distracted than the other side can sucker punch it, but I've never been in a fight and generally close my eyes when they happen on TV, so in my mind if the good guy gets distracted by an ice cream truck than the bad guy just walks away.

Does the pivot always work? Depends on the goal. Does it instantly make me focused and ready to finish the book proposal in one week flat? Sometimes yes, mostly no. But that's not the point. The point is to just keep swimming, I hope. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How The Baby-sitters Club Made Me a Business Woman, And Your Chance To See the Old Shows For Free!


I was obsessed with The Baby-sitter's Club as a kid. Not as obsessed as my cousin Geanna who read every book backward and forward, twice, but I was obsessed because she was obsessed so she gets bragging rights over her degree of obsession.

TBC featured a super cool Asian character (Claudia) with an edgy attitude about life, just like my cousin Geanna, and a Caucasian nerd who wore lots of turtlenecks (Kristy) and was really bossy, just like me! Though back then I told everyone who asked (which was at lot of people at that time) that I was a total Mary Anne because I always wanted to be kind of shy and cut my hair short with a little bit of Stacy mixed in (the loving fashion and NYC part). 

It was because of our mutual love of for these books and the entrepreneurial spirit they inspired that Geanna and I started several business of our own. There was the phone dating site we ran out of the giant pink plastic Little Tikes house that my family kept in the playroom because my sisters and I were afraid of bugs. We didn't actually call boys on actual working phones, but we did hone or skills for pretending we didn't like the exact guy we were in love with, which came in handy for the next 20 years. Then there was the combo clothing store and restaurant we ran out of my basement. I actually can't remember if it was clothing and food or maybe food and books or possible clothing and books? Either way it was super high concept and very before it's time.

I don't know why we didn't just set up a baby-sitters club of our own considering that business plan was already tried, tested and famous. I'd like to think it's because we wanted to be more original, but we probably didn't know there could be two of the same businesses in different places. Copyright infringement hadn't yet made it to the central Jersey public school system's 4th and 5th grade curriculum.

All this is to say that The Baby-sitters Club probably changed my life. And those were just the books. When the TV show finally arrived, I was inspired and star-struck (plus I always preferred TV to books. Still do.). Now I knew exactly what a Kristy looked like and how much I actually wanted to be a Stacy or Mary-Anne! Now Geanna knew just how much like Claudia she really was (lucky!). So it is with an insane amount of excitement that I say, the girls are back in all their '90s glory!

The fine folks over at Scholastic Media recently let me know that you can now download and watch all 13 episodes of the original series from iTunes AND because we're friends, you guys can download one episode for free up until Monday! Just click this link to get your fix of "Claudia and the Mystery of the Secret Passage" (I don't want to spoil anything so I'll just say that Claudia's outfit is killer throughout this entire episode). 

Now please excuse me while I go text Geanna to tell her she's required to fly out to LA so we can be Claudia and Kristy for Halloween. Even though I really want to go as Stacy or Mary-Anne I it's time to embrace the Baby-sitter's Club girl I've always been, considering I'm 30.

I leave you with this:

"Say hello to your friends (Baby-sitters Club). Say hello to the peeeeople who care. Nothin's better than friends (Baby-sitters club), 'cause you know that your friends are always theeeere."