Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#HumpDayHappy: Meet Louie!

As of Saturday afternoon, R and I will be puppy parents. We survived eight days in a car together directly after our wedding. Now it's time to put this brand new marriage to an even bigger test!

Louie (formerly Gouda) is one of "The Cheeze Wiz Kids" born to a poodle/schnauzer mix named Poodalini. Our good friends Carley and Chelsea helped their mom Roz raised the puppies from birth to eight weeks, and now they're ready to head to their fur-ever homes. The photobomber in the back is Brie. Cheddar and Stilton - the boys - have already been adopted. Brie, Mozz, and Feta - the girls - are still available! Contact Dogs Without Borders in Los Angeles if you are interested.

More on this big life step tomorrow in a piece I was invited to write for The Huffington Post about letting go of "perfect." Though, come on, with that perfect face who cares about sleeping through the night and wiping pee off the floor?! Maybe you need another pic to be convinced:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Top 5 Ways People Find This Blog Will Shock You

Every once in awhile I take a look at the analytics for this site to see how it's doing numbers wise and find out where people are reading (hello Iceland!). I use Google Analytics because it is free and incredibly easy to set up, so easy that I didn't know I already had it working for three years!

This time I scrolled down a little further than I typically do to the "How people are finding you feature." This lets you know what Google searches ultimately lead to your site on a given day. As you can imagine because you just read the list above and also read this blog, I was surprised. I write about a variety of things 2-3 times per week, the five topics above (minus 20-Nothings itself) are not those things. Let's break it down:
That links to piece I wrote over a year ago about a church in Hudson, NY that R and I wanted to buy. My post is the 4th link that appears when you type in those search terms. From this we can conclude that no one is selling abandoned churches despite the obvious desire in the marketplace. Someone should capitalize on that situation but since my goal is readers and not a business dealing abandoned churches, I'm just going to write a post about how my husband and I want to buy an abandoned train station and hope this is a trend.
I love Jillian's 30-Day shred and so does the rest of the world. My review of the program is the 6th link that comes up when you search. From this we could conclude that more exercise program reviews would increase blog traffic, but then I'd have to do more exercise videos, and I have a hard enough time doing Jillian's ("You don't get to do a 20 minute work out and take a break!!!").
Let me be clear: I have never written about a happy ending pelvic massage. I don't even know what that means! Are the 19 people who searched that in one day looking for a happy ending following a pelvic massage? Or is the pelvic massage the sexual act?? So confused. Several years ago I did write a post entitled "Is A Happy Ending Technically Cheating." It is somehow the #1 link that appears when you search "happy ending pelvic massage." I don't understand it, but I like it.
  • Boys to men
I can only assume this search term somehow lead to my post entitled: There are boys, there are guys, and there are men, but I don't know because I came up with nothing for ten full pages of results. So to the 15 people who found my blog on the 11th page of search term results for "boys to men" - thank you for your diligence. I got stuck on page 1 and watched 30 minutes of old Boys II Men videos. Water Runs Dry really holds up, guys.

And so, we've learned that awkward sex acts, getting thin quick, vintage R&B and abandoned churches really sell. I'll be keeping that in mind as I lay out my editorial calendar moving forward. All suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Progress After Four Years in Los Angeles

my street. #sorrynotsorry

Labor Day marked my Fourth L.A.nniversary, and I totally forgot.

Year one was ironically celebrated in New York. Year two I made a big fuss and organized a Cliche LA Staycation Day. I have no idea what I did year three, but I do remember remembering. Then this year came and went without so much as a, "how 'bout that!" Maybe you can finally say that you're a local once you forget the day you became a local?

If I had remembered that it was my L.A.nniversary I would have hiked somewhere, eaten something with avocado, driven to the beach, bought a sheer top, worked on a screenplay, cooked a vegan meal and eaten it in my backyard with a bottle of wine from Trader Joe's. Throughout the day I would have talked to at least five people about traffic, not thought about the weather once, discussed how terrible The Leftovers is, agreed on the merits of a mostly vegan diet and scheduled a dinner at least a month out. I can't say for sure but it's likely that someone would have asked who does my ombre highlights (Liz at Heretic!), told me that my husband and I need a dog, and assured me that TV development season is running really late this year, so don't worry!

Ok. Now that I feel like I've actually gone through the motions of celebrating this milestone, I'm prepared to discuss the progress I've made in exactly four years and one week: 
  • I still don't miss seasons more than I love this perfect weather. Some people do, so I can confirm that it's an element of living here. I do not. 
  • I still have anxiety around parking, but now it only arrives three seconds before I have to look for a parking spot as opposed to three days before I'm scheduled to drive somewhere new. 
  • I have burned out on the following food items: kale, Persian cucumbers, Chinese chicken salads, and cold brew coffee.
  • I have not and will likely never burn out on: AVOCADOS!!!!!!, cilantro, ginger-infused anything, and white peaches.
  • I now own an inordinate amount of sheer, flowy tops that I wear with a bra you can see, jeans and flats.
  • I've stopped giving a shit about saying, "oh just a bunch of projects," when people ask me what I'm up to lately.
  • I have written five TV samples, four book proposals and three feature films. No. None of them sold, yet! 
  • I still hate hiking but do it any way. That said, I'm never doing a juice cleanse again.
  • I still walk to 50% of the places I go in a given day. That's down 50% from 100% in New York, but it's still higher than 75% of L.A. residents. 
  • I have developed a mean case of road rage, but now R doesn't let me drive if there's any chance we'll A. be late B. run into traffic or C. encounter other vehicles. 
  • I go to less "things" than I did prior to moving here, but that's because I'm 31 and married not because I live in LA.
  • I don't think of this city as a giant, overwhelming, interconnected set of mini towns like I did when I first moved. LA feels smaller with every year that passes, and that's very cool. 
  • I don't think of this city as being void of culture like I did when I first moved. There is a lot going on here, and not just in the entertainment industry. The literary, urban planning, music, art and food communities are incredible. 
  • And - and maybe most importantly - I don't think about LA in contrast to New York anymore. It used to always be this battle in my head: which do I like more? which is better? which is more fun? which is more expensive? But now LA is just another incredible city where I happen to currently live. It is defining, just like New York. It is motivating, just like New York. And it is home, just like New York will always be. 
So Happy Four Years, LaLa Land. Thanks to you I have a healthier diet, ironically paler skin, a writing career, a backyard, a husband, and no more questions about what will happen if I never make the move to L.A! The backyard is awesome, but the last two are my favorite.   

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#HumpDayHappy: Marnie the Dog Has a Problem With Her Tongue

...and that problem is the solution to your ENTIRE MISERABLE WEDNESDAY!

This is my way of giving back after writing something super heavy yesterday. You can spend your entire day watching videos of Marnie on her YouTube page and your entire life following Marnie's adventures on her Instagram account! And you can thank BuzzFeed video for bringing this to my attention.

Also, I think what Marnie the Dog really has is a problem with her head, which seems to be on wrong... Who cares! Have the best worst day of the week of your lives!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Open Letter to Mrs. Bill Simmons: I'll Make My Husband Give Up Football this Weekend If You Do Too

Dear Mrs. Simmons -

I'm writing to you because I am deeply disturbed by Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer unconscious inside an Atlantic City elevator, the NFL's responses over the past months and Janay Palmer's latest statement to the media. As a woman and human, I imagine you are confused and upset too. This conversation on MSNBC does an excellent job of recapping my feelings.

Of course I am also writing to you because you are the wife of Bill Simmons, one of the most well-respected and popular journalists in sports. I was thrilled to read his Tweet on this matter: "Ravens have to waive Rice today or they are cowards. New video is appalling. I'd like to see someone in the NFL do the right thing for once." I am a fan of your husband's work, and my own husband, R, is a devotee. It was actually R's idea that I write to you after I told him that I was boycotting the NFL until I feel better about their messaging on this issue and treatment of women overall. "I respect that," he said after some debate on the issue, "but why not think bigger?"

So here's my big thought: let's ask our husbands to boycott football this weekend. 

You probably know many other women married to men in the media. Consider this an open letter to all of them. Let's ask our husbands to pretend that Janay Palmer is their daughter. Because if Ray Rice knocked your daughter or one of Roger Goodell's two daughters unconscious in an elevator, I wouldn't have to write this open letter.

We women can and should boycott too. The NFL does claim that we make up 50% of their audience and women in sports media are an incredible force, but it will be even more powerful if the men who love us do the same. Let's turn off our TVs, avoid the sports bars, and not attend the games.

Why? Because the NFL needs to know that they are nothing without their fan base, and their fan base is not OK with what happened with Ray Rice and has happened many, many times over the years (here is a Slate article that outlines some of that history).

But the NFL suspended Ray Rice indefinitely. The NFL knows they messed this one up. The NFL has been taking steps to curb domestic violence in the league with stricter punishments. All true. But what will ensure that they think twice before messing up again? Our swift and unilateral response; a message that there are consequences.

This is not like so many social justice and human rights issues that feel too big to tackle - that's why I'm taking such a strong stand. The NFL can change their culture. They can adopt better policies. They can enact stronger penalties. It won't even cost them that much money. That's why this issue is so pressing to me; it can be fixed if we care enough. We have the power to prove the NFL is not too big to fail and that we are not so obsessed with the sport that we'll let them get away with anything.

We don't need football as much as football needs us, 
and we don't need football as much as the female victims 
of its culture of misogyny need support. 

So Mrs. Simmons - I'll make my husband give up football this weekend if you make your husband do it too. I know this may raise objections:
  • Not watching won't make a difference. I disagree. I think it will result in a PR storm that will prompt action.
  • Women forcing things on their husbands is archaic. Maybe, but it works. It ended a civil war in Liberia.
  • It's not the other teams' faults: I know, but everyone has to sacrifice for the sake of change. 
  • It's not Bill's responsibility. This one is tough because I agree, it's not. And I am sorry to bring you both into this; I just literally don't know what else to do. I believe that if Bill Simmons publicly boycotts football this weekend, football will change. It might be slow, and people might be really pissed, but it will make a massive statement.
  • And finally, no one will really do it. For the past month millions of people have been dumping buckets of ice water on their heads, videotaping it and uploading it to social media, raising more money for the ALS Association than any campaign ever (over $100 million). Everybody from Justin Timberlake to the New York Jets have done it because of the greatest motivator known to man, next to money of course: peer pressure. I think we can get them to avoid their TVs for two days.
With love and deep respect for you and your family,

Monday, September 8, 2014

LA! I'm Teaching a Blogging Class

I am thrilled to announce that thanks to the fantastic people over at the fantastic Writing Pad (the BEST OF LA Weekly writing school), I am offering my very first blogging workshop. 

Sunday, September 21st, 2:30-5:30pm
snacks and drinks included!

Look I have a whole page on the site and everything!

Won't you please join me for an afternoon of learning how to master this powerful craft? I promise great resources, fun activities, real tools for future success and lots of laughs!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

If You Can't Write a Shitty First Draft Then You Can't Be a Writer

image source

On my 31st birthday I decided that I know little to nothing about life and should seek the advice of older and wiser adults. The plan was to have a difference mentor recommend one book each month of my 31st year. So far it has been one month, and I am proud to say that the plan is still in effect. I was recommended Bird by Bird by the incredible Cindy Chupack, and I read from first Kindle swipe to last.

For those unfamiliar, Bird by Bird is a book by Anne Lamott about the writer's process. It is as charming and delightful to read as it is informative, and I'd recommend it to anyone (and have all month long).

Below is what I learned and below that is the book that's on deck next. So far this is going better than every single New Year's Resolution I've ever made and the five day juice cleanse that I ended after three days! I think I'm onto something.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#HumpDayHappy: Nancy Drew 2.0

We technically didn't have a Monday, but I'm loving this new series and I didn't post yesterday, so here you go!

Alison Leiby - Sunday Night Sex Talks NY alum and all-around hysterical woman - wrote this killer piece for Thought Catalog:

19 Nancy Drew Titles If She Were A Millennial

My fave: The Mystery Of The Text That Just Said “Cool”

My second fave: The Girl Who Couldn’t Remember Which Nail Polish Color She Usually Gets

My third fave: The Secret of the Girl Who Couldn’t Even 

The list goes on and on. Enjoy it while grumbling over the fact that there are still two days until Saturday!

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.


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.

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.