Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why You Need a Travel Consultant

As you know, I can fall a tad on the confident side. I think I know how to handle my business best by myself - from planning a wedding to planning an Emmy Awards outfit. Sometimes I do (see wedding) and sometimes I don't (see Emmys, though to be clear it was the shopping not ultimately deciding that was complete and utter crazy town).

Our honeymoon fell into the false confidence side of the divide. The plan was South East Asian for two full weeks, and I was sure that between friends who have been there and the Internet, R and I could cull together the trip of a lifetime. Then I remembered that I've never planned the trip of a lifetime, don't know the first thing about traveling around South East Asia and barely have time to eat lunch most days. Enter Aly of JetawayGuru, world traveler and world traveling consultant extraordinaire. 

Today I thought a good old-fashioned FAQ with Aly would be the best way to learn what a travel consultant is and how one might save your life/marriage.


1. Easy one first: how did you get into working as a travel consultant? A year and a 1/2 ago I turned the big 3-0 and had a quarter life crisis. Yes, I will admit it!  I was working as a graphic designer for 10 years, at multiple places, and while I love design and being creative, the atmosphere for most jobs are not. Usually a cubical, stark white walls and the mentality that if you were physically at the office you were working, which wasn't usually the case.

I was bored and would surf the web, shop online, book travel or daydream about my next adventures. Most of my money has always gone straight to travel as it is my passion (I've been to almost 40 countries!). The feeling of culture shock or being in a foreign place is a unique and exhilarating high. Eating different and flavorful foods, learning about cultures and their beautiful beliefs, and interesting history etc...  I really do believe travel is one the the most life-affirming things you can do for yourself. Getting lost in the world is what life is all about. 

So, a few months before my birthday I was introduced to the non profit Nest partners with artisans from all over the world to build sustainable businesses within the competitive global economy, helping them transform their communities through the alleviation of modern slavery and empowerment of women. I loved the message they spread and what they were doing around the world. Nest offered fellowships all over the world, many having to do with design. I told myself if I applied and I got it, I would quit my job and go.  I applied and was assigned a sustainable package design fellowship in Swaziland, Africa! A small country located inside of South Africa.
Then, I had to think what to do when I got back from my adventure. I decided to hire a career coach,, to help figure out my next move. Friends and family had always come to me for travel research or advice, so thought why not get paid for it. Not going to lie, it was tough at first. I didn't know the first thing about how the travel industry worked, but my coach, Anna, helped build my confidence to jump in.  My design skills were a heaven sent as I could brand, create and design all my own logos, website and business cards.  Through networking I met Michel, a travel agent that had a similar story, leaving a totally different career (in his case finance) to get into the travel industry. He taught me the basics and after two weeks of my site going live, to my disbelief, I had my first paying client, a honeymoon to India.

2. What is your goal in helping people plan their trip? Or I guess, how do you feel your unique position as a consultant offers people something they really can't manage on their own? 

I help clients get more out of their travel experiences and hence more out of life. There is so much information out there it is hard to know where to begin your research, or even to narrow down what part of the world to visit. 

I also help my clients' vacation quality (if that makes sense), as I now have partnerships with hotels, cruises and destinations, everywhere. I can offer some great free perks and amenities to them such as upgrades, hotel credits, complementary breakfasts to even a free massage sometimes.  I also can get some great deals clients couldn't necessarily get like stay for 4 nights and pay 3 at some hotels depending on the time of year. All depends on where and when.

3. But all travel research is so easy to do online, no? Why a travel consultant if you could just do it all yourself?

As a travel consultant I do many things such as giving clients the confidence to travel to that exotic destination they always dreamed of going, or doing to tedious research of which neighborhood to stay in, or logistically what is the best method to travel and which is more important time or money, as that can me a hard decision.

Also busy people just don't have the time to sit down and plan a vacation of a lifetime! It takes a lot of emailing back and forth, sometimes waking up at all hours of the night to call different countries around the world, going to the bank to do a wire transfer, figure out what restaurants to eat at and making the reservation.

Also, first hand experience is key. Again, I have been to almost 40 countries, so usually I have it, but if not I have a network of travel consultants from all over the world, and usually one of them has been to the destination in question. 

I also create custom itineraries for each client. I start by emailing a questionnaire to them and have them fill it out. From there I look at all the answers and help them decide where to go. Maybe they are planning a trip to Italy, but say they have always dreamed of wandering the streets of Paris! I will consult and suggest why not add that 2nd leg of the trip, you're already in Europe!

After the destinations are finalized and approved, I can build a timeline and figure out how to get to point A to point B. After, I compile a list of hotels I think that will not only match their budget but also their style and needs. And finally, the fun begins, what to do while on vacation! I will research and narrow down sights and excursion reviews and only send highest rated, where to eat and make the reservations.

Once everything is approved and booked, I take all the bookings and design the itinerary. I break it down by day or locations and insert all the important information, times, dates, pictures, phone numbers. I add fun facts and quick tips and even embed websites, blogs and tailor made walking tours into it. All you do is open it on your computer, smart phone or tablet and you have your personalized choose-your-own adventure story! It's great and a lot of fun! Clients love it as its just for them, no two itineraries are alike.

4. Your pre-travel questionnaire is awesome and extensive. What does this help you learn about the traveler?

Helps me decide where clients should go, what type of hotel they like to stay in, their likes and dislikes, how adventurous they are, eating habits and importantly budget. The questionnaire is not only written questions but you choose which image of travel appeals to you. I'm am a visual person so I think it says a lot.

It's important to know your clients on a personal level as vacations, and especially honeymoons,  are so intimate. They may think they just want to sit around on the water in Bora Bora, but actually a more active island like Fiji or Hawaii would be a better fit. Or maybe budget becomes the most important factor so we figure out the best location for the money.

5. Why a flat fee for payment?

A few reasons.

1. I can always put my clients first. As the travel industry works off of commission, I don't need to send them to the most expensive property.  I can keep their budget in mind and not have to worry about getting paid. A perfect example of this is, I had a client wanting to go to South Africa and went to 2 travel agents before they found me, and they both quoted her $30k + for the entire trip, which is outrageous! Since clients pay me a consulting fee of $600, I can find you exactly what you are looking for and offer you those cool deals like stay 4 pay 3 deals I mentioned before. Also, you would think that all hotels and tour companies would want to pay us a commission for sending them clients, but that is not always the case. There are a lot of hotels that refuse to pay travel agents a commission or smaller properties that just don't. Asking for a fee eliminates having to worry about where to put my clients and whether or not I will get paid.

2. Research is a lot of work. It can take hours to figure out all the logistics, and I would be doing this all for free if I relied on commission alone. Most people do not work for free, I know I don't want to.

3. It's hard to make money in this industry and not be totally overwhelmed. Making 10% of a vacation not including air or transportation and most tours, doesn't come out to a lot. This way I don't need to constantly be looking for new clients, I can focus on the ones I have and still pay my rent! 

6. You are now a successful small business owner! How has your life changed/been enhanced by the decision to pursue this personal passion as a career?

It takes some getting used to not making the salary I was making as a designer, but now that I am focusing on my passion, I am not as bored and don't find myself frivolously spending money. I get to learn about cool destinations around the world and feel great about myself when I hear positive feed back from clients or get thank you packages and letter. My goal was to travel for free and my career now has helped me accomplish my goal. This year I have traveled to Fiji, Panama and Charleston and am going to Mexico City, Aruba and Vietnam! Yay!

Conclusion:  Once in a blue moon I use this space to share a product or service that I've come across and really support, and Aly's business falls into that category. Over the coming months we'll be digging into planning a belated South East Asian honeymoon (with R's help too I guess), so stay-tuned for more posts on that full experience.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hump Day Happy: Every Outfit Shelley Long Wears in Troop Beverly Hills

See all the looks!

God bless the people over at Jezebel for this piece of Internet gold, specifically writer Lindy West who, based on this article, receives immediate honorary admission into the Rosen family (don't accept Lindy; we're a real handful).

I love Troop Beverly Hills, written by three. genius. ladies. to the degree that I still sing "Cookie Time" in its entirety every time Girl Scouts, cookies or Pia Zadora are mentioned and cannot utter the words, "Beverly Hills," without adding, "what a thrill!" which is tricky because I live in L.A. Also when some people were like, "who is this Jenny Lewis person?" I was like, "shut your mouth you monster, she was Hannah Nefler and her bangs were legendary."

And so I am particularly happy to bring you this rainbow of happiness to get you through the worst day of the week. Let's all raise a glass of champs for costume designer Theadora Van Runkle (who has the world's best job and name) and enjoy a trip down memory lane.

My personal favorite among the collection:

"It's khaki wishes and cookie dreams!"

 My personal favorite quote of the movie:

Tessa DiBlasio: [Stomping out Phyllis's cigarette ash] Mrs. Nefler! We're above the fire line! And you shouldn't smoke, it's bad for you. And it conceals neurosis you should deal with yourself.
Lily Marcigan: Smokey Bear says, "Only you can prevent forest fires."
Phyllis: Well, Smokey Bear isn't going through a horribly messy divorce!

The hands-down best scene of them all:

And finally, yes, Rosa is Rosario from Will & Grace.

GOD this movie is the best. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Behind The Red Carpet of the Emmy Awards (Literally Because They Make The Real People Walk Behind It)

I'm excited! Everyone else is on the phone.

There are two ways that you can get yourself to the Emmy Awards. You can be nominated, you can be invited or you can be married to someone who is either of the two. You could also be the mother/brother/daughter/friend of someone nominated or invited but I went the marriage route, and it's really paying off.

Two months ago R and I went to the ESPY's because of his job. Then R got a new job and got invited to the Emmys. So you might say that since marrying me, R has been invited to two awards shows and gotten a brand new job. I do.

Without getting overly dramatic about this whole thing, it has been a childhood dream of mine to attend the Emmys, and I used to write acceptance speeches for my own eventual Emmy win while sitting on the potty as a little girl (what? I had three little sisters. There were only so many places I could focus). And so you can imagine the excitement I had to downplay when R called to say he had two tickets...and when I shopped for a dress at my favorite shop and most stylish friend's home...and when I told the check out lady that the hairspray I was buying at 8:30am was for my Emmy hair. Turns out her brother was also going and didn't invite her this year. I told her she should focus on marrying someone who gets invited and parallel path by writing and creating her own television shows. She told me that going to the Emmy's isn't actually that fun.

Well Sandra at the CVS on Beverly and La Cienega, I respectfully disagree. Here are my lessons, takeaways and delights from the 2014 Emmy Awards.
  • Don't over-think the dress, especially if you're not nominated or technically invited. I stressed over the decision as if anyone but R or a random stranger we asked was actually going to take my picture. In the end I went with comfort and class over this really gorgeous zebra print mixed metallic strapless gown that I loved with all my heart (thank you again Avia!), and it was the right decision. Attending the Emmys involves more walking and standing in close quarters than you'd think making anything you can't walk in or someone will probably step on a mistake. 
  • There are two red carpets. One is approx 12 ft. wide and 100 yards long, chock full of flashing cameras and features every major living television star and even some from movies (thanks for slummin' Julia Roberts). The other is approx 2 ft. wide, chock full of security guards telling you to, "please keep moving," and positioned directly behind a fake shrubbery wall guarding it from the real red carpet. I think the whole thing is one big social experiment, and I think it's working.    
World's coolest Playbill.
  • There are drinks and refreshments in the lobby for purchase not white tuxed butlers holding trays of free champagne as I envisioned. I got a "Sparkling Emmy" ($14) and R accidentally got a giant Blue Moon in a plastic cup like the Emmys were a Dodger game ($13). BUT later at the Governor's Ball there were tables and tables and tables of free champagne as we walked in, and I grabbed a glass right next to Christina Hendricks, and we said "cheers" to each other so the Emmy's are redeemed. 
  • It is painfully quiet other than when people are laughing or clapping. I assume no one talks during the commercial breaks because they're all either running to the bathroom (Allison Williams went four times by my count) or can't talk because they can't breathe in their dresses. 
  • It is painfully cold the entire time. I don't know why all the actresses don't have a gnarly case of goosebumps every time the camera hits them, but I can only assume it's because they slather you with anti-goosebump cream on the better red carpet. 
  • I won't go into my thoughts on the actual awards other than to say that I am so thrilled for Breaking Bad, so obsessed with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, think the funniest moment was Seth and Billy Eichner's sketch, and cried during Billy's Robin tribute. Also Jim Parsons needs to take himself out of the category, Modern Family wasn't the funniest comedy this year by a long shot, I can't believe how many British TV shows we watch in America and Tony Hale was robbed. 
  • The awards are spectacular but the Governor's Ball is so. much. better. It features one black carpet (allowing you to walk in directly next to Christina Hendricks-my-drinking-buddy, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Julie Bowen, Kate Mara, and for some completely unknown reason, Chris Bosh), a full dinner (complete with artisan grapes, the brussel sprouts of 2015), and the band from Dancing with the Stars. Also the theme appeared to be Gay Pride in Space, or as R put it, "this is the weirdest Bar Mitzvah I've ever been to."  

  • Once you get to the Governor's Ball you realize that everyone won an Emmy. There are Emmys everywhere. They gave out 26 awards and yet 150 people were carrying them. My friend Ben who works for the show told me that the entire producing team of, say, The Amazing Race gets their own statue, which still doesn't explains why I saw three 12-year-old girls walking around with one.
  • And finally, guys, it was special. I know these things are just an excuse for advertisers to spend money around a TV special chock full of celebrities and that the voters are old people who have their assistants fill out the ballots, but I still love it so much, and I love it even more when amazing work is honored. But most of all I love that it made me want to get up at 6am and work on my latest pilot script all day long. I actually woke up at 8am, procrastinated by writing this post for an hour and a half, and am now off to have a coffee. And that's how I know I'm a real television writer too. Better dust off that potty speech.
Oh, also, they list where every single person is sitting at The Governor's Ball so you can just walk up to fellow Boston College alum Amy Poehler and tell her she's your hero. I tried but she was too busy talking to the entire cast of SNL. Typical.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Many of the "49 Life Skills Every Modern Woman Should Have" Do I?

Ah the Internet... What would we do without you? Certainly not know which Disney Princess, city, Taylor Swift song or Friday Night Lights character we are, and, apparently, whether or not we're modern women! Considering I am a woman alive right now and not spending my days churning butter, I thought I'd put myself to this very important HuffPost test. It's times like these that I don't mind the fact that they don't pay their writers.

Here we go. I'll try to be nice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hump Day Happy: All About That Bass

From this Hump Day forward I'll be kicking off the worst day of the week by sharing a little something I'm liking as of late. Today it's Megan Trainor's "All About That Bass." I know some people are pissed that she says "skinny bitches" (which she does) and others think she's supporting unhealthy eating (which she isn't) but I love this dumb little tune, I love her pretty pink lipstick, and I LOVE that beautiful man dancing his ass off in the background. It makes me happy.  Hopefully it makes some of you happy too.

Enjoy and good luck out there today.
(and thanks for the tip off Jade)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Chronically Cry on Airplanes

image source
I cry when I’m on an airplane.

It doesn’t happen every time. It never happens on a red eye, for example, when every opportunity for miserable, uncomfortable sleep must be fully maximized. It doesn't happen when I'm flying with other people, unless they're fully asleep or deep in the action movie they can finally watch now that I don't have movie theater veto power. But it happens 9 times out of the other 10 flights that don't fall into those categories.

Right now – yes this very moment (ed note: I wrote this in flight from NY to LA) – I’m wiping away salty face drops because three minutes ago I remembered finding a photocopy of the first “book” I ever wrote. It was in the computer room at my parents' house this weekend. It's called Lily, and it's about a flower that disappears from a garden. The other flowers in the garden are really torn up about this lily’s disappearance and so the elder flower of the group (or maybe a farmer? I can't remember...) sets out to find missing little Lily only to discover a whole field of her kind in a neighboring farm. “Here a lily, there a lily, everywhere a lily, lily,” that page goes. See the lily set out and planted herself elsewhere where she grew and expanded into a whole field of flowers. It doesn't make a ton of sense and is vaguely sexual in nature, but that’s when I started to cry. Have you ever heard a more poetic rip off of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm?” And the whole thing is such a beautiful allegory of the meaning of life, no? Sometimes we have to disappear and then come alive in a new way. Or, it’s only after we uproot and plant anew elsewhere that we’re really able to flourish. Last week I wrote a dick pic joke into a comedy script, but at six I really had something to say about who we are as humans. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

20-Nothings Travels: Birthday Day-Tripping to Topanga Canyon

Image source, the incredible Gail Bushman with the people!

"I couldn't tell if you were in Santa Fe, the Ozarks, or the '70s!" one friend said in response to my string of live #bdadventure photos. The answer is E. none of the above. I was trolling around Topanga Canyon right here in LA.

Every year I celebrate surviving another 365 with a solo day of indulgence. Last year I had lunch with a friend, got my make-up done and went to see 20 Feet From Stardom. Why did I get my make-up done and then sit alone in a movie theater for two hours? Because it's my damn day!

This year I decided to take my show on the road with an afternoon of reading, writing and shopping just a short drive up the PCH (or 101 depending on traffic and which direction you're coming from, but let's not make this a Californians sketch).

It just so happened to be my very first day back to buying things after a three month hiatus so I wanted a spot with unique shops where I could, as R approved, go wild.

Topanga is the name of the settled community of Topanga Canyon which sits inside the Santa Monica mountain range. If you are familiar with the California town of Ojai, think of Topanga like Ojai minus the yuppies and 50% of the businesses. If you are not, think of it like a untouched hippie enclave on top of a mountain ten miles from Beverly Hills. If that's impossible to imagine then you've just given yourself a very good reason to go to Topanga Canyon for the day. Though, if I were you I would go for a month, take up the lute and wear nothing but Stevie Knicks costumes (and I might...). 

Here is how it all magically went down:  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The One Phrase I Hope We All Learn from Robin Williams

I lost yet another hero yesterday.

Robin Williams was responsible for 90% of the belly laughing I did as a child, and the other 10% just goes to my dad doing Mrs. Doubtfire impressions. My two favorite movies in the world are Good Will Hunting and Hook. I could quote you all of Mrs. Doubtfire right now, and yes I am including the part in the opening credits where he goes off-script doing the voice of that cartoon bird (Nooo Pudgy, doooon't smooooke). Do not ask me how many times I've seen The Birdcage or Dead Poets or Awakenings or Hook or, hell, Patch Adams. Sometimes when I'm in the car alone I blast "Never Had a Friend Like Me" just to be sure I remember every lyric in case a karaoke book finally has it. I know they're not all perfect movies. I know Robin Williams was not a perfect man. I loved him anyway, so, so much. He was one of my first and strongest introductions to comedy and, more importantly, how to infuse it with so much heartfelt drama. 

But this is not a post about me adoring Robin Williams to the point of weaving a bizarre string of his film references into the first script that got me any real attention (to which my managers said, "we have never seen this done, ever." Still not sure if that was a compliment). This is a post about the very sad circumstances that likely lead to his death. To be clear, it is suspected but not confirmed that Robin Williams committed suicide, but he suffered from depression and addiction throughout his life so regardless, now is a time to honor that by focusing on the truths about those battles.

Over the coming days you may hear friends and family members say things like:
  • "But he was so funny!"
  • "But he was so successful, what did he have to be depressed about?"
  • "Is everyone in Hollywood addicted to drugs?"
  • "He had all the resources in the world, how could he not get help?"
  • Or the oh-so-painful for his loved ones, "how did no one see this coming??"
Here is what you can say in response:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My 31st Year of Life Curriculum

wildly bummed that I'm not wearing that dress tonight...

Today is my birthday and the seventh time I've written a post on this blog about that fact. That's seven years of trying to find something meaningful and wise to say after another 365 days of life. A few days before my birthday, I always re-read every post from age 25 until today. I like to see if I've changed. I like to find out I've stayed mostly the same. I love to see if I can uncover yet another typo. But usually I do this reading because it helps me arrive at the thing I'll write to ring the next year - until this time.

This time I realized that I don't know what to think or say. I feel pretty good. I'm making some progress. I almost moved to a two bedroom apartment; that would have been big. I got married; that was big.  And yet the more time passes, the move overwhelming things seem to get. Is there some extension course I can take in how to handle it all? Does UCLA offer a masters in deciding when to buy a house or have a baby or throw in the towel on comedy and become a drama writer?

They don't (I checked), but you know who does offer that kind of guidance? People who are older than me. I don't spend nearly enough time around people who have lived longer and experienced more, whether five or fifty birthdays beyond my own. R and I are far from family, spend most of our time with our peer group and only occasionally watch a documentary about the elderly.

That's not enough.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What I Learned From My Three Month Shopping Ban

Don't ever say the following to your husband of ten days as you stand inside the walk-in closet you painstakingly cleaned for five hours:
  • Wow. I have so many clothes. I could go months without shopping. 
Because then he'll say this:
  • Yeah right.
And you'll say:
  • No really! I can, and I will. 
And then he'll say:
  • Prove it. 
And then you'll say:
  • FINE!
And then you'll be me, a pride-filled idiot slugging through a three month ban on shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories. Yes, that's the extent of my stubbornity (a word?). I couldn't just stop at clothes, nooo; I had to prove my "strength" by giving up my precious shoes and accessories too. And for what? I already got the guy to marry me!

Well as of this Thursday, August 7th (my birthday) I will have won the bet. I will have gone three full months without purchasing a single clothing item, pair of shoes or accessory, and I'll have you know I attended two weddings inside that time frame. A few weeks ago R tried to get me on a technicality by arguing that I approached the purchase of these pitch perfect, mixed metallic folders by Nate Burkus for Target with a level of excitement and relief that made them clear contenders in the accessories category (also I said, "I need these to go with my general meetings outfits!!"), but I conferred with a dinner party full of people who said, "you're still fine," and thought, "but you're still the crazy one." I also purchased these equally delectable Flash Tattoos, which are mixed metallic (love a life theme) temporary tats in the shape of things like Aztec-ish arrows and very hip birds. Those really could be considered accessories of the skin variety, but I only tried on one and come on already!

So what has this exercise in restraint taught me about myself, my clothes and the consumer world at large. Not much! Here's what I've been able to cull together for the sake of this blog post and my pride:
  • I have plenty of clothes, shoes and accessories. Over the course of my three month challenge I actually got rid of things because I was so sick of going to look for something to wear and not picking the same things over and over again.
  • To that end it is better to have less than to have a whole pile of things you never wear. A. they take up space B. they make you feel bad about yourself if the issue is fit and C. when you complain that you, "have nothing to wear!" your husband looks at you like you're insane because there are dozens of items of clothing hanging in your closet. 
  • I have a concernedly strong desire to have new things for no other reason than that I like having new things. R and I went to a wedding in Seattle. I wore a lovely gold lace dress that I have worn once prior, for three hours, with a completely different group of people. And yet I desperately wanted something new. I had a specific vision in my mind of how I would look on Bainbridge Island in Seattle, it didn't match this dress and that irked me to no end. It probably irked me more because I almost always give in to the desire to buy the new dress, so like a mosquito bite that couldn't be scratched, it itched worse. I don't love that feeling, and I'd like to be more careful about falling into the shiny ball trap in the future, bet or no bet. 
  • And yet, bottom line, I love clothes, shoes and accessories! Oooh do I love them... I use them as a form of self expression. They make me feel comfortable and content. I find shopping for them soothing. Are they a vice? Sure at a time when I should be saving or spending on things we truly need. But in a world where Forever21 and H&M reign supreme (and at a walkable distance from my apartment), what's the harm? (that's rhetorical, R)
In the end I figure I saved about three hundred dollars? Maybe more considering there were two wedding guest dress purchases avoided. I will admit that my "itch" lessened over time, but that may be because I stopped going anywhere near stores. There was the one time R tried to push me in the direction of my favorite little shop on Sawtelle, Rimo, and I yelled, "No! stop! don't taunt me! I'm at the end of my rope!" but I was mostly kidding, maybe.

And so on Thursday, the official end of the bet, I will take one hundred dollars in cash on an afternoon shopping adventure to Topanga Canyon (thank you Racked LA). No more. No less. I don't need anything, still, but I've been in a flowy, '70s-inspired mood as of late.

Oh and regarding what I win in the bet - a brand new birthday dinner dress. So really I could get the '70s-inspired maxi dress a my gift and use the hundred for maybe a floral mini short and sheer-ish top combo with a pair of mixed metallic clogs? Ooh but then I'll need some sort of chunky Western-inspired belt to go with the shorts and maybe a head scarf to really complete the whole thing and god is it good to be back...

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    Why I'm Afraid to Learn How to Play the Guitar

    this is how you hold this thing, right?

    Tomorrow I will take my very first guitar lesson.

    Well, technically I took one guitar lesson a year and a half ago for a video series my friend was shooting about trying out new skills. That pre-lesson prompted R to get me a guitar for my 30th birthday (last August) and guitar lessons for Christmas (last December).  Now it is this August, literally seven days from the one year anniversary of the day I got a guitar, and I have not taken a single lesson.  Once I tried to learn cords using the learn cords CD that came with my guitar, but I got frustrated after ten minutes and put on House Hunters International instead. So on account of my impatience and the HGTV network, I cannot play the guitar.


    I decided to call and finally redeem my guitar lessons because I just received an unsolicited gift from a company called The Department of Motivation. It is a sleek black poster with white words in a san serif font that read: DREAM BIG. START SMALL. BUT MOST OF ALL, START.

    Turns out the founder of this clever poster company reads this blog and felt that inspiring saying applied to my ongoing life process. Little did he know I've had a dusty guitar sitting in the corner of my apartment for a year. But I could not ignore this, "god wink," as my mom would say, even if it felt like more of a "god guilt."

    "Oh wow. I thought maybe you died," the guy I'll be taking my guitar lessons said when I called to redeem the gift certificate. I didn't ask whether he thought that because no one could be so lazy as to ignore a gift certificate for damn near a year or because only death should prevent someone from learning the guitar. Either way I was not in the right. Also, bold way to start a relationship Stephan. I think you and I are going to get along just fine.

    "It's been a busy year," I replied, which it has been, but that's not why I didn't call. I have time for guitar lessons. We all do. You can get them on YouTube, take them while you're eating a meal and practice on the toilet if it comes to it. "I'm too busy," is just, "I don't want to make this a priority right now." And the reason I didn't is because I'm afraid it will be too hard and I will be terrible, and then I'll never be able to sing lullabies to my hypothetical babies (in my mind it's a medley of "Blackbird" by The Beatles, "You Can Close Your Eyes" by James Taylor and "Loves Me Like a Rock" by Paul Simon, but I'm open to whatever else R wants to throw in, within reason). 

    The list of things I'm truly awesome at is dwindling now that no one's asking me to do the V-sit and Reach for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award and puff paint shirts are out. The idea of struggling through learning something brand new isn't wildly appealing. Right now I need all the confidence I can get to struggle through the things I'm currently struggling through. A struggle hobby seems like no hobby at all. I'm good at organizing my closet, making arugula-based salads and telling people where to eat in New York and LA. Isn't that enough of a way to bide my time, forever?

    I think the answer is, no. I think they say hobbies that challenge the mind prevent Alzheimers? At the very least they keep the mind sharp and provide a distraction from every day stresses, that is if you can get through the every day stresses of learning them. 

    For me that's TBD. I hope to one day get up from struggling through some miserable scene I'm writing to revive myself with a little "Angel from Montgomery" by John Prine (but covered brilliantly by Bonnie Raitt) on my six string. I hope to entertain a dinner party in my back yard with a little sing-a-long once we're all buzzed enough to not find that awkward. I don't think I'll become one of those people who takes their axe with them on weekend trips, which may or may not involve camp fires, but don't hate me if I do.

    But tomorrow at 10am I will start very, very small and probably feel even smaller. BUT not as small as I'd feel if I let that Guitar Lessons by Stephan certificate sit in my desk drawer one day longer. Especially since because between starting to write this blog post and finishing it I learned that R did not get me my guitar for my 30th birthday; he got it for my 29th. I'm lucky Stephan's still alive too. 

    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 first.
    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?

    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 ( 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!


    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) 

    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.


    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.