Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Need a gut check on your life thus far?


Have a going away party.

There is a difference between typing the e-mail addresses of everyone you know into a g-mail "to" field and seeing those e-mail addresses arrive as people at your going away party. There are a lot of differences.

When you go through your Facebook friends slash brain to be sure you have everyone included it's a simple process of see name, think about person, invite or cut off from life entirely (Wait. Sorry. That's the process of determining who to inform that you have a new cell phone number, which I also did last week).

But when you see those people gathered to say goodbye as you embark on a new phase of life in a city 3K miles away it becomes much more than a "let's have a drink." Each person is like a flood of memories/thoughts/mistakes/successes that can't separated from the whole experience of your time in the city and yet, in many circumstances, don't know about each others' existence.

Meredith who co-founded Effable Arts, the theater group that produced my first play has no idea that David, sitting at the bar, was the person who made me get serious about the blog that Meredith's co-founder Kim found on Facebook, started following, showed Meredith, and decided should become some form of play. And neither of them know Andrew, my good friend from Florence, who inspired a character in that play . Andrew doesn't even know about that. (Well. Didn't.) Without Dave there would be no Meredith, and without Andrew what resulted would be wildly different.

It's a mind trip. You sit there like this puppet master with no control of the puppets - like an audience member in the scene you've been acting in for 5+ years (though there were people there who I've known for 26).

And then - to make matters all-the-more bizarre - everyone gets drunk and monologues at you about what you mean to them, what you're about to experience in LA, and precisely what they think about that.

GUEST
Jessie....JessieJessieJessieJessie.....


(pause, sip drink, gather more audience)

Leett me tell you about the first time I met Jeesssie Rose...


ME
It's Rosen.


GUEST
Right. Rightrightrightright.

Again and again and again.

The whole concept of world's colliding is nerve-wracking in and of itself, but when those worlds are colliding in your honor it becomes...overwhelming? awkward? And yet also gratifying, heartwarming, and the like. It's hard to describe and, while incredibly significant to experience, I can't quite recommend moving away just so you can have a going away party. (But if you do that, I won't judge).

I was a lot of things at my Farewell to NY - nostalgic about the past, grateful for the effort people made to attend, nervous that everyone was having a good time. But mostly, I was proud. Proud of the scene, proud of the memories, proud of what we all accomplished here together.

My life in New York City was a great, great life because my people in New York City are great, great people. And while none of that changes, or rather, while none of them change when I leave - there is a pausing of this chapter, at this place, in this time. I've been saying, "oh with Facebook and twitter and gchat, I won't be far," but in reality, I will.

Last Wednesday night was the first time I saw exactly what I'm leaving gathered in one room (aside from this Friday when that room will be filled with my family, but I intend to be medicated for that). I was sad. Very sad. I am by no means done with New York or itching to leave any of the people in it. But what got me through the night with little-to-no tears was the fact that everyone in that room said, "go." We're excited for you, we believe in you, we think this is right for you, we know you're going to be just fine.

So maybe that's the real purpose of a going away party. Not a "Jessie, This Is Your Life" session to make you miserable about what you're leaving behind, but for what you're leaving behind to help you realize that they're okay being left.

T-minus four days...

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Results Episode: At 20 _______ you feel __________



Your responses were outrageous. All 55 + of them. They were moving, thoughtful, honest, and incredibly well-written. They made me think things I've never thought before and validated thoughts/hopes/questions I've had for ages. But, most importantly, they made me realize that this whole thing is way bigger than a New York Times article (or rebuttal). Way bigger.


I've printed all your responses, clipped your awesome photos to them (if you supplied), and will be delivering them to the New York Times, but I think it would be a shame to stop there.


Keep them coming, PLEASE. E-mail me at 20Nothings@gmail.com or post them right in comments. I think we have something here, I just need to figure out exactly what shape it should take.


For starters - to keep those of you who haven't yet submitted inspired and to help those of you who did submit realize just how "not alone" you are - below are snippets from the dozens of submissions. I've kept names out for now, but if you see your words, THANK YOU.


At 20 _______ you feel _________


At almost 25 I feel inspired now, but it has taken time and tears for me to reach that point. “Thank God I am professionally unsettled. Thank God I have taken my time to figure out my likes and dislikes so I don't end up like the generation before me - working jobs they hate for their entire careers, making themselves hate the rest of their lives, leading to divorce, depression and many other problems. Thank God I and the rest of my 20 something generation refuses to take the beaten path anywhere."


At 27 I feel 27 too “i'm turning 27 in 3 weeks and feel oddly calm, excited, and purposeful. it feels good. i dont know what i'm looking for, a simplicity of some sort, but i'm fine finding it here, on my own.”


At 27, I feel like I’m starting to understand what it means to appreciate. “Growing up, akin to being forced to say sorry, you are instructed to appreciate things regardless if you internalize that emotion on your own. Appreciate having food on the table, appreciate the clothes on your back - it’s the age-old American elementary school assignment of clunking out several sentences about what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving so you can hurry off to recess.”


“So two weeks ago, at the ripe young age of 24, and with the undying and encouraging support of my boyfriend and family, I quit my job to follow my passion in life and I don't know where it will lead me. The truth is today at 24 I feel young and lost, but I realize that I am incredibly lucky and I am expecting to feel this way throughout the rest of my 20's.”



At 28 I feel like I did when I was 18 “I don't want all the answers by the time I'm 30. I just want to know they're out there, waiting to be found. If it takes me my entire life, I'll be okay with that.”


At age 28 I feel 19 in my career, 47 in my knowledge, 36 in my stress levels, and 65 in the life I’ve already lived.



At 24 I feel Guilty and Addicted to Higher Education! “I think one important facet that is missing in the NY Times article is that for many people my age, with parents who are aging (mine had me when they were 38), and for those of us living far from home, guilt is the dark cloud that just won't go away. Many of my friends miss living back home, or at least close to their families, but are fueled by a weird ambition that also makes us want to stick out in London and try to get jobs in big name companies. For me, it really clouds my judgment when I am making decisions. Although one could say I've been geographically independent of my parents since the age of 18, I've been emotionally and financially dependent on them all this time, especially as a lonely child.”


At 29, I finally feel free. I stopped dreaming my life and starting living it.

“I could easily see myself regretting not going on this adventure, whereas I knew that I would never regret going. My parents hinted at their disapproval quite often. Example: I sent my dad an e-mail asking him to keep an eye out for SD memory cards on sale and his response was "Okay, I'll look for it for you. How many GB do you want? On the other hand, why don't you not go away, settle down, get married and have some kids. Love, Dad."”



At twenty-three I feel frustrated. I feel more frustrated than I did during my teenage years, when I saw the world in front of me as a place filled with opportunity and would give me as much as I put in to it. I am the first person out of both sides of my extended family ever to graduate from college. I thought if I just worked hard enough I would achieve whatever I wanted. Well, I've graduated and I both don't know what I want anymore and see a lot of other people getting opportunities they didn't work for and those who deserve them getting the short end of the stick.



At twenty-seven, I feel like a full-fledged adult who has simply chosen another path than those of my parents and the previous generations. “I saw a glimpse of that well travelled path, and I walked away.”



At 24 I feel frustrated, pissed off, and hopeful. “We have more choices and in some ways less career and economic opportunities because of the actions of prior generations, and I feel like we’re all just trying to deal with that. So if people could stop calling us entitled, spoiled, lazy, and self-obsessed I would love that. Let’s just stick to imaginative, creative, or perhaps just attractive and call it a day.”



At 26, I feel like I'm finally finding my path. “The beauty of being a 20something is that - no matter what anyone says; media, scholar, peer, or otherwise - we know that whatever we're going through right now is something that is unlike any generation before. We get to be different, and we get to define what different is. My challenge to other 20somethings is to make the most of what this journey is so that those after us are inspired to break apart our standards and define their own.”



At 28, I feel frustrated by the assumption that I won't be an adult until I get married and have babies. “Don't get me wrong...I'm all for independence, and I find helicopter parenting and all that jazz a bit problematic. But at the same time, who are we to criticize the way of life of much of the world? Only in America are kids pushed out of the house at 18; traditionally, in most of the Arab world, and India, and much of Asia, you live with your parents even after you're finished school and even once you've found a well-paying job.”



At 21 years old, I feel completely unprepared for Real Life, in the Real World. I graduated college in three years and am working two low-pay, low-glory jobs (restaurant and retail) completely unrelated to my major.” “I’ve been called insatiable. Right now I feel stagnant, trying to move through mud. At 21, I feel lost and desperate. I’d very much like to find the right path, but am unsure if I’m even on the right path to finding that right path. I’m scared I never will find it.



At age twenty-four and unemployed I feel hopeful and hopeless. “Simultaneously. There is so much that I want to do, but money and resources are a constant problem. It's tough to be young, broke, and connectionless."”



At 24 I feel eager “People use the "me-generation" label against us - I challenge that. Use it in your favor. You're the only one who thinks about yourself as much as you do. Determine what you want, figure out the steps, realize there will be few people who will help you unconditionally, and go get what you want and makes you the independent firepower you can be in this world.”



At twenty-three, I feel like time is running out but I only just realized it.

At 20 I feel stuck “Much like a tween, I'm pulled in many directions. I have focus and motivation encouraging me to work hard at my job everyday and lay the foundation for career and financial success. But I also have imagination and curiosity driving me to explore the world and take a chance on something that might not pan out.



At 27, I feel frustrated. “I'm frustrated because I'm afraid I will look back and think I missed out because I stuck to the "suppose to" path.”



At 28 I feel confused by what seems to make sense to me, and by what the 'elders' expect.



At 27, I feel everything. “I've felt, risked, succeeded, and found that it didn't quite get me where I thought it would.”



At 25 I feel misrepresented. “I find the whole endeavor to label our generation to be insulting and silly. There are not three, ten, one hundred, or one million labels that will wrap our 20-something culture into a tidy little box so all the older generations can sleep better at night knowing that (Eureka!) these 20-somethings are "lazy," they're "optimistic," they're "spoiled."”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

At 27 I feel...

Here is my overdue response to my own prompt - "At 20 _____ I Feel ______."

I've been so wildly impressed and moved by all the responses from all of you that writing my own became even harder. There are one hundred different feelings to cap off the prompt from where I stand right now, but I've decided that for me, it's really just as simple as the below.

Thank you, to all who have already submitted. And KEEP THEM COMING!

At 27 I feel very 27.

If you asked me at 23 what it meant to be 23 I’d say, I have no idea. Maybe it meant being at the start of things, carefree, questioning? I was aware at that age that the age meant I had plenty of time to make mistakes and missteps, and I did.
At 23 I had a job I knew I didn’t want to still have at 24. I behaved in many ways like I was 20, 21, and on bad (good?) days, 18… But I can’t say that was because I was aware that at 23 I was allowed to do all those 23-year-old things. It was just a natural outgrowth of where my peer group and I were logistically and emotionally. Logistically – in Manhattan - a city that invites you to behave 23 at 43. And emotionally at that post-grad stage where you feel entitled to take your time to figure it all out. I’m sure that at some point I said, “I can’t ________, I’m only 23.” Or I can’t believe she’s ____________, we’re only 23. I can’t remember exactly how much I attached my choices and decisions to that exact age, but I can remember very distinctly feeling, “only 23.”

The first shift I can really recall was the 2-5 marker. At 25 I didn’t feel any different. I wasn’t any more aware of exactly what I wanted and where I wanted to be, but people were talking about 25 like I should… 25 was Katie’s scary age. I remember wondering if it should be mine but deciding I honestly wasn’t scared. I didn't know enough to be scared. In a way, I wasn't ready to be scared.
25 was the first time I started to think about being 30 and what I wanted to accomplish before then, but I didn’t feel a sense of gravity about making moves to put myself there. I was content in the there and then. I still hadn’t landed in a job I knew I wanted to keep for more than a year or two, but I wasn’t looking to make that kind of decision. What I do remember about 25 is that feeling of having the world’s permission to be more of an adult – to not only deserve a seat at the table, but to deserve to say something from that seat. That was a shift – I “mattered.” But with that mattering came being accountable for whatever I said and did from whatever seat I occupied.
Responsibility, maturity, a savings account… All those things started to become things I actually wanted, not things I dreaded. That doesn’t mean I knew quite how to get there – it just means I was aware that it could be fun/exciting/enabling to get older. But at 25 I absolutely still had days (nights?) where I was 22, 23, 24 (fine, 21). At 25 I still slept on the couch in my sister’s college dorm during parent’s weekend.

Now at 27 I feel 27 – and I like it. I feel like I know things that make me valuable in this world. I feel like I want to be calmer, more deliberate, more future-focused. I think I actually want to be the number 27 – 3 years from 30, 5 + years out of college – like I’m somehow proud of that age.

I still couldn’t tell you what that future looks like or what I look like in it, but I desire it in a different way than I did looking at it from 25. 27 is my scary age, and yet as I said the day I turned it, I’m excited to be scared.

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that my early twenties were a time of bumbling through it all with no sense of time, place or age. But I feel a different sense of control over my life (or maybe just a desire to have control?) then I did in my early twenties. In many, many ways I’m still “only 27,” but in a lot of others it’s, “you know, I’m 27 now…” Like if 23 was an excuse then 27 is a motivator. I’m 27 now. I’m allowed to say and think serious things. I can be a “director” of something without people 30 + rolling their eyes. I’m not a phenom. It’s not beginners luck. I’ve earned things and collected things that make me a more solid being.

But the thing about my feeling "very 27" is that it’s my feeling – my sense of who I am and should be at this age-marker. My 27 is some people’s 23 and other’s 35. What's interesting is that at my 27, I'm finally only concerned about the fact that it's mine.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A word from the been-there/wise about our 20-something experience.



Your responses so far to the "AT 20 _____ I FEEL _______" PROJECT have been incredible. Thank you, and please keep them coming!


Below is a little fuel to add to the thought-fire from someone on the other side of the 20-something life stage. Her assessment of what we're going through comes with both the perspective of someone who was once in this same position and who has raised children many of our sames ages.


Hope it prompts some further thoughts...


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Jess-


While reading both pieces one single word kept jumping into my head. Who. I guess that it’s a question too. Who is accusing your generation of not growing up; of staying a child and hiding from life? Who is calling for an accounting, an explanation, or perhaps, an apology for the current environment your generation has to maneuver through in your 20’s? Parents? Peers? Developmental Psychologists!?


Let the scholars and statisticians play in their own churning black box. Hopefully, they can label it and come to a common language/better understanding of the human condition so that conjecture leads to action. I prefer reality, logic and learning from experience. Call me crazy!
Our generation remembers the traditional cycle because we lived it; not because we wanted to, but because we simply had to - without challenge. Parents ruled and kids didn't question their parents. We tested our social skills, explored interests and pursued passions as permission was granted and made mental note of our individual desires to be used at a later time; in our 20's when we were adults.


For many of us, college was our first real opportunity to think, live or discover an independent life outside the purview of our parents' watchful eye or direct interference in our lives. Four short years to grow up before being launched into the accepted cultural expectation of being an adult. (we got a month or so of down time) We did it and guess what happened? Most of us sold ourselves short, packed away dreams/ talent/passions to be responsible and safe remaining in situations- work and personal- that made "sense" , deemed acceptable but felt wrong. We felt cheated, angry or simply became complacent. The backlash to this traditional "emerging adulthood" is well documented in Henig's research..Our generation is jealous of yours. We long for a do over. We would gladly trade the limited/traditional options available to us at the time- to decide our life freshman year and have that life ready to start within months of graduation - for the global world menu filled with layers of work, life and, wait for it ..... time, luxurious time, in your 20's to make you a priority. To selfishly focus on you. To grow up for the first of many times and versions of being an adult.


There was one thing to do and that is what many off my contemporaries did when they raised their children.We encouraged our children, from the time they were born, to embrace self exploration knowing that as parents we are simply responsible to be guides, offer support and keep you, a unique being, safe as you grow. We made it our mission to give you, your generation, many options- Jr year abroad, explore cultural and humanitarian outreach programs, accept that an undergraduate program will likely take 5 years to complete and not 4- the list is long.
My close friend has one child who is a phd scholar/scientist by way of Tanzania where he studied monkeys and blood born viruses while the other child pursues his passion for music not yet tuned into the place or outlet for fulfillment and, hopefully enough salary to pay the rent and food. A parent with no personal agenda, no time frame just support and love.


The 20s are indeed a black box filled with churning. The older churns ran hot and were strictly timed whereas, current black boxes have sensors that adjust for variable conditions before pinging the "finished" bell.


Who cares what scholars or peers think? Perhaps they should grow up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

ALL HANDS ON DECK: This is the moment to explain our 20-something selves


So the media is a-buzz about us 20-somethings. Last week's New York Times magazine article turned into a Today Show segment and radio show blitz (one NPR segment even features my opinion - give a listen to On Point with Tom Ashbrook! Monday, 10am).

20-somethings today feel _________, they say. Or, the reason 20-somethings are this way is because of _______, __________, and _________.

I think it's fantastic that some attention is being focused on our generation's foray into adulthood. It's a fascinating topic with a clear and direct effect on all of our future's. I just wish someone would ask some of us what we think of it all.

Robin Marantz Henig's article is as thoughtful as it is long. It contains tons of research from well-appointed scholars who have spent significant time researching the issue. They present great and valid points. I agree with tons of it.

But in her 10 (online at least) pages of copy Henig only includes perspective from two actual 20-somethings - Julie, a 23-year-old priviledged New Yorker and Nicole, a 25-year-old African American who grew up in a housing project in Oakland, CA. Their thoughts are incredibly interesting, but there are only two of them. And that's not enough. Not by a long shot.

This isn't a criticism of Henig's piece. She didn't set out to write a story about 20-something from the perspective of actual 20-somethings.

...which is good because that means we can.

Send me your rebuttals, your criticisms, your you-know-what-she's-right's. I want to know if you think "emerging adults" is a real and fair categorization of our generation's situation or if you we're just the same as any generation prior. If you're frustrated by being a 20-something today, tell me why. If you love who we are and how different we are then those before us - write me that. I'll take anything from one-sentence responses to 1,000 word essays, and feel free to specify that you want them anonymous or not. E-mail to 20Nothings@gmail.com or post them in comment.

The prompt is - At twenty _______ I feel: ______________________

Start there and take it wherever you want to go. Because bottom line, if everyone is going to start talking about us, then we're going to need to collect some response.

Deadline: this Friday, August 27th.

P.S. I'd LOVE if you included a picture of yourself so that when I send a massive packet to the New York Times next week, it's a little more colorful ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

My New York Times rebuttal



When my AOL Lemondrop editors e-mailed Wednesday with an "URGENT! ESSAY!" I had a feeling it was about that New York Times 20-something article...

What I don't say in my rebuttal is that I think it was a good piece - a good, really interesting, and fairly thorough piece. But to me slash us, this issue of "emerging adulthood" isn't news. We're at the stage of yeah, we know - now what?

My thoughts in response were intended to explain how it really feels to be an emerging adult, and what we emerging adults really wish the New York Times was writing about...


Dear New York Times, here's why I haven't "grown up." Love, a 20-something

I'd love to hear your own NY Times rebuttals in comments or e-mails (20Nothings@gmail.com).

Please send them along, and we'll see if we can't craft a response to the Times from the actual 20-something set.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Required Reading: Is hooking up bad for women?



Carly passed this article along with a "this seemed blog-worthy" and Carly tends to be right when it comes to the blog.


We've touched on this before - the question as to whether or not "hook-up culture" is damaging to our development - sexual people and people hoping to build lasting relationships.


These sociologists explore it purely from an angle of whether or not hooking up - both the culture but also simply the act (or series) of - is harmful to women. Does it make them more or less prone to be in relationships? Does it negatively impact their moral code (or was it already negatively impacted)? How many of them are really doing it? And, and most importantly, how do they feel about? Do they feel harmed? Are they miserable? Do they want us all to go back to the days of the dance card?

Read today, and we'll discuss tomorrow. Below is a little excerpt from the intro.




"Following on the heels of the mass media obsession, sociologists and psychologists have begun to investigate adolescent and young adult hookups more systematically. In this essay, we draw on systematic data and studies of youth sexual practices over time to counter claims that hooking up represents a sudden and alarming change in youth sexual culture. The research shows that there is some truth to popular claims that hookups are bad for women. However, it also demonstrates that women’s hookup experiences are quite varied and far from uniformly negative and that monogamous, long-term relationships are not an ideal alternative. Scholarship suggests that pop culture feminists have correctly zeroed in on sexual double standards as a key source of gender inequality in sexuality."

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to buy my first car

video

One of the more important steps in the process of moving to California is - apparently - buying a car. I have been told that it's more important to have a car in L.A. than it is to have an apartment. "See because you can sleep in your car," said one friend, "but you can't drive your apartment to work."

Hard to argue with.

And so, with zero experience and every single family member available on that Saturday (Alex: "I'm not missing this. It's going to be a riot") - coincidentally my 27th birthday (just for a little added drama) - I took to the dealerships of Monmouth County New Jersey in an effort to secure my first automobile.

It went better than I expected (thanks in part to the bone dry humor of Bob at Volkswagon of Freehold), but much of that is thanks to my following the below how-to-buy-my-first-car steps - a customized set, but one I recommend to any prospective purchaser.

Step one: check your bank accounts

Sometimes it's hard to remember exactly how much money you have (or don't). You're going to need at least $500-700 more than you think, so add that in to whatever numbers you're working with (or aren't). I recommend using a calculator because odd numbers can be difficult to add and subtract.

Step two: ask everyone you know what kind of car you should get

You should buy the car you want to buy, but it's interesting to hear what kind of car other people think you should buy. In my case people did mention the car of my choice (a Jetta), but more often than not suggested cars insanely beyond my price range. "What makes you think I can afford that?!" I asked one colleague. "Well, you haven't worn the same outfit twice since Christmas," she said.

So in this case the lesson was sliiightly different, but no less significant.

Step three: reserve 3+ hours to spend on Edmunds.com

You know how TheKnot.com has every single feature you could possibly imagine and/or want for wedding prep? This is that but for car-shopping. Reviews, budget calculators, actual cars for purchase. I was slightly disappointed that they didn't offer a feature where you can insert a picture of yourself into the drivers seat of any given car to see how you look in it, but I e-mailed them, so chances are that'll be fixed.

Step four: make sure it isn't Sunday.

Because car dealerships in New Jersey aren't open on Sundays. That's right. Not open for business one of the two days a week that people who work (so, people) are available to make a purchase.

Close on Mondays!! Hell, close on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays if you're so concerned about your work/life balance, but Sundays?! Beyond logic.

Step five: select appropriate attire

The car-shopping outfit is a tricky one. You're looking to say, I-can-be-responsible-for-monthly-payments but not I-have-plenty-of-money-to-spend. Also - and I know I'm going to get flack for this - most car salesmen are men. Just something to consider.

I went with a simple, thin-knit white T and yellow cropped jeans with my the highest cork wedges I have. My theory was that if I could comfortable drive the car in those shoes, it would work with any pair.

Step six: apply poker face

The key to buying a car is to not seem like you want or need to buy a car. You're just looking, shopping, browsing. You don't need to make a purchase today. You're not moving clear across the country in 3 week. There's no rush at all!

At the same time you have to be prepared with the exact price you're willing to pay so that should you find something that may warrant you shifting from browse-mode to buy-mode you're ready to start the negotiation dance. I haven't negotiated goods since my semester abroad in Italy, and I'm not sure fresh tomatoes can be compared to an automobile, but apparently I did a good job. Dad: "I'll never trust a thing you say again."

Step seven: apply poker face to my mother...

Or, teach my mother the generally principals of the poker face. Within five minute of arriving at the first dealership she'd told Bob my entire story and pointed out the car she was pretty sure I'd buy.

After that it just takes patience, a couple test drives, remembering to test the radio, and seeing if you can fit your little sister in the trunk (critical). Piece of cake.

I'm one more shopping trip away from making the final purchase, but I can say with some degree of certainty that my first car shopping experience will have gone down with zero fights, zero tears, and zero crashes while test-driving.

Which is more than I can say for some of that tomato purchases in Florence...

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's time to tell the blog.


"So when are you going to tell the blog?!" Mike asked after I confirmed that the news was official.

I laughed because of the way he said it - to "tell the blog" – like I have to sit the Internet down for a we-need-to-talk.


My news isn't really what this blog is about, I told him.

But when I thought about it - about the whole, long story that precedes the whole longer story I'm about to begin, I realized it all did come back to this blog. All of it. And for once, I'm not over-exaggerating.

The whole, long story begins with Pierson-made-me-start-this-blog-against-my-will and ends with I'm-moving-to-Los-Angeles-on-September-1st-to-pursue-my-creative-pursuits.


I realize that reads like whip-lash, but the plot points between that start and this "finish" do puzzle piece together into an actual picture. It’s essentially a picture of a Candy Land board, but at least there’s a path.


Separately the events that lead to my decision are random, coincidental, ridiculous, and unbelievable. They guest star a combo of the most likely players (my parents) and unlikely characters (Suze Orman?!). And they feature way less OCD planning than most random Tuesdays of my life.


But as I sat down to figure out how exactly I got from there to here - from starting a blog just to have a reason to write to moving clear across the country to pursue a career in writing and production - I can with absolute certainty pick out those moments that were the "sure signs"- or if you're my Mother, "God winks" - that I knew I had to follow even though I didn't know where they were going.


This is not a “look what I did!” story – it’s a look what can be done...

An early wink (slash punch) came from David - who is as critical as they come and 3 x that when it comes to me. He told me I had something good going with this blog but I was wasting it by only writing every so often. "You need to commit to three days a week," he said, "or don't do it at all."

I listen to David (unless it has anything to do with relationships) - so I did it from that day on, and he was right; it took my writing from a dabbling to a body of work.

Then Nora started reading and, like the born producer she is, saw television material in my 500-word rambles. I told her I had no idea what it took to develop a television show. She ignored me, and for the next six months we worked on a treatment that ended up in the hands of a production company who optioned this idea – 20-Nothings - for television development.

It was around that same time that a name I hadn't seen in 10+ years dropped back into my life.

"Kimberly Kaye has sent you a message on Facebook"

Forward. Revise subject line: LOOK MOM! Remember Kim Kaye!

Kim Kaye was my colleague (?) in Brownie Troope 180 who was randomly re-introducing herself as a fan of this blog and (God wink) the new co-founder of a Manhattan-based theater company, Effable Arts. "We want you to write a one-act play for us," she told me over dirt-cheap Thai in the Theater District. "I don't know how to write a one-act play," I said. "It's not hard," she told me. Kim has a B.A. in creative writing with a concentration in theater. I Googled "how to write a one-act play."

Four months later my first one-act play was staged at an off-off (off?) Broadway theater, and I knew my life would never be the same. Dramatic, I know, but my friend Paul told me that, "some things require some drama, girl."

If you asked me when I was 10 years old if I loved to write I would have said yes. If you asked me if it was my passion - the thing I want to make a life out of - I would have asked what that means.

If you told me at 18, hey, you should pursue writing for film and television, I would have said, "um, thank you," but thought, "um, you're crazy." At 18 I still loved to write, but the idea of turning that enjoyment into that specific dream just wasn't in my frame of reference. Same goes for my college years when writing became even more a part of my life (the website friends and I launched, the college TV show we produced) - but even then I felt like a girl who wrote, not a writer. There's a difference, and that difference is entirely mental.

Which is why I remember so distinctly the first time someone told me I was "a real writer." It was Blair Singer (a playwright who also spend some time writing on Weeds), and we were sitting down over beers at a bar in Brooklyn that looked just like a bar in Brooklyn would (Blair's line). I'd been set up with Blair to discuss him writing for the potential 20-Nothings TV show. Blair was far more interested in mentoring me to the point of being able to write it all myself. "I read your stuff," he told me, "and this is what you should be doing with your life."

That was the first time I thought, I can do this. I want to do this or, it would be incredible to be able to do this had come months before. I'd transitioned from developing-and-writing-content-is-a-dream to developing-and-writing-content-is-my-dream through the Effable experience and my work with Nora, but I was stuck in that place so many people get stuck. "I can't do that. Come on. That's crazy."

But as if answering the in-my-head-objections with in-my-face interruptions you'd have to be an idiot to ignore, the universe said, "Yeah, it's crazy. Deal with it.”

A middle school friend who'd landed at an LA talent agency came back into my life and helped me navigate that world, another friend put me in touch with an editor at The Daily Beast and then an editor at Marie Claire who assigned me articles that drew bigger attention, my Effable circle became a source of game-changing inspiration and lead to my writing The Hook-up Conversations. And then one incredible woman at one well-respected management and production company sent me an unsolicited e-mail that changed my life.

How's that for dramatic?

For the past 11 months I've been working with Lucinda and the team at that management company to develop my writing portfolio to the point of pitching my own material for sale. I have also been working to develop my understanding of the previous sentence. And Lucinda, with tireless patience and fairy-godmother-like skill has been working on convincing me that this is real, I can do it, and making the move West is the best next step.

Which is where I'm-moving-to-Los-Angeles-on-September-1st comes in. Though, if you ask my mother, I’m not moving – I’m just, “going to live somewhere else for a little while.” (apparently we’re all writers)

There comes a time in the exploration of any desire, dream or passion where you have to ask yourself, how bad do I want it?

Bad enough to leave my current, great job? Bad enough to move away from the city I love more than any other place I've ever been? Bad enough to leave my family and some of my closest friends? Bad enough to risk failing?


Some of those answers are yes, but some of them are still I don’t know, which explains why this decision comes 11 and not 2 months after that e-mail from Lucinda.


But as I stepped slowly toward this final decision (and away from my attachment to 24-hour Bodegas) I realized the more important question is, are you willing to never have it? Are you willing for it to never happen?


Yes, going for it means a whole list of things that make my stomach turn could happen, all of which are completely unknown. But not going for it leads to something I can absolutely guarantee – it won’t happen.

There's an Anais Nin quote that I’ve always loved: “And day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."


And so I’m going (in 3 weeks, gulp), and I'm absolutely certain it's the right thing for me to do.

I have much more to say about this decision, about what it means to be a 27-year-old woman making this change, about the lessons in this story that we can all stand to play on repeat, and – most importantly – about the people who have made this possible for me, but for right now I'll leave it at the story of how it came to be.

In one sentence: I'm a very lucky girl blessed with very loving mentors who pushed me through all the open doors so I could make the decision to walk through this big one.

I can't promise that I'm fully ready for what's next or sure of what I even want in the end, but I will promise you this - the blog is going no where.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The story of my guest appearance on the Suze Orman show



If you happened to be home on Saturday night at 9pm (...and know what I look like) there's a chance you're already aware of this bizarre news.

Long story short. I wrote an article about following Suze Orman's cash-only diet. Here it is on Aol's lifestyle site, Lemondrop.com

Suze found said article because some fan of her show read it and tweeted it to her. And Suze is a
major tweeter.

A Suze Orman Show producer then left me a cryptic e-mail that my Mom was
certain implied I was being sued.

What followed was an financial strip-search, over-the-phone media training, and 8:30am TV taping all leading up to my national television debut (I know, but Sesame Street was on cable. But more on that...never).

The segment aired on Saturday (which was among the stranger birthday gifts I've received) and my mother's phone has been ringing ever since (...beginning to ring Saturday night and ending Sunday around noon).

I wrote a recap of the whole insane experience for Lemondrop.com, so if you happened to be out of the house on Saturday at 9pm (or still don't know what I look like), you can still find out all about how Suze Orman schooled me in spending.

And - note to 20-something selves - manicures, jewelry, and gifts are not legitimate budget items.


Monday, August 9, 2010

We CAN go back to college, we just have to wait 50-or-so years



My Aunt Philly is an age that she'd be mad if I told you. Let's just say it rhymes with lady dive...

Last week she moved into what's know in local television commercials as a "full service retirement community." This is not to be confused a gated, adult community (just a neighborhood with no kids) or an assisted living center (the now PC term for nursing home). This is Applewood Manor.

It's sort of like a suburban club med for old people who could live on their own but are generally safer with some mild supervision and regulation flame retardant curtains.

In other words - it's college for old people, minus the actual education (so, college).

Case in point, aaaalll of this:

Aunt Philly enters her specific A.M.U. (credit: Dani Rosen) building using a swipe card (!!!!) and is greeted by a security guard charged with keeping the wrong people out and the right people in. At his control panel is a Facebook-style identification system that lets him know who belongs. He's under strict instruction to alert proper authorities if someone enters or exits in a particularly wobbly state.

En route to her room are a million biddies gossiping in the halls or watching Price is Right re-runs in the common areas. She stops for a "how are the grandkids? what's at the salad bar today? Oh, we should take the shuttle tomorrow for the Nordstrom Anniversary sale." Everyone is in some combination of slacks, shirt and cardigan. It was left undetermined whether or not her building was more of a preppy, Liz Claiborne scene or if an indie J. Jill, look dominates. My suspicion is Lands End, in which case Aunt Philly is set.

The building is co-ed, but the men tend to keep to themselves and/or walk slowly up and down the hallways talking about the war. I asked Aunt Philly if the guys ever gather in the common area to play Fight Club, but she said, "No! What's that even? Fight Club?! Sounds terrible." I told her it really was.

She can keep her apartment any way she'd like and it has full amenities (BC kids, that's Gabelli vs. Vandy-style), but most residents just stock basic breakfast and snack items because of the extensive offerings at the Dining Room (read: Hall), which is where the whole situation gets insane.

The Dining Room runs on an ala cart system based on a cash-plus-points dining (read: meal) plan. The same swipe card that gets you into the building carries all your meal points for the dining room, snack points for various vending machines around the building and...wait for it...shopper points for the community's on-site mini-mart (so, Camp Co). Can. You. Believe it?!?!

Now here's where - and it pains me to say this - my Aunt Philly's college may actually be better than real college. In actual college everyone arrives at the same time and spends the first few weeks roaming around and exercising the open-door policy to meet and make friends. There are some RA-governed ice-breaker situations, but for the most part you're on your own. Now at old people college admission is rolling. You may be one of two or three other people moving in around the same time, but it's more new-kid-on-the-block than this-semester's-frosh-class. As such, when you move in the entire community is notified of your arrival and encouraged to stop by your apartment to welcome wagon you in. Within the first hour of her arrival my Aunt Philly had a gaggle of girls requesting her presence at their dining room dinner table. I. KNOW!!!

In my mind this all begs one, simple question. Why in the world hasn't someone set this up for post-grads?! Full-service, slightly monitored, dorm-style living in major US cities at prices any parent would gladly pay for the security of knowing their baby can enter adult life on training wheels. This idea an absolute gold-mine.

Of course - according to my Aunt Philly - with college living comes the college cliques that no sensible adult wants to handle. I pitched her my A.M.U-for-20-somethings idea and she gave it a, "well I just don't know how good a thing it really is yet..." Apparently some group of Mean Girls shoved her over to a bingo table next to a social outcast with a curious bingo winning streak. "I see what's going on there though," she told us, "and I think I'll just try my hand at crafts next time."

So in the end, life really is just one big college cafeteria. Let the countdown begin.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Precisely what's so scary about my scary age



It’s finally happening. I’m turning my scary age tomorrow. The terrifying 2-7.


Two years ago when this whole scary age situation came about I said there was a chance I’d adjust for inflation once the number arrived, but now that it’s here I’ve decided it stays. Not because I am petrified to be turning 27, devastated that my early 20’s are over, depressed about what’s the come and other such Cathy Comic strip shit. It’s not about that. It’s about where this number falls in the arc of life and how that makes me feel about where I’ve been and where I’m going.


It’s like Katie said in that original post, “it’s the point at which I feel like I really have to get my life together - like every decision from here on out has to be really deliberate towards some kind of end life happiness.”


I’m sure 30-year-olds are rolling their eyes at this decision, 35-year-olds are about to stop reading, and people my parent’s age (if not my actual parents) are making that, “if you think 27 is scary…” face. They’re all right and valid, but so am I.


In many, many ways these days, age is just a number. You can get married at 25 or 40 and still have a biological family. You can change your career every decade for your entire life. You can start your 30s in incredible debt and end them a millionaire. Martha Graham was a prima ballerina at 50-something and Doogie Howser was an M.D. at 15. Our options are limitless.


But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel a certain way about hitting certain numbers, and it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to our pacing along the way. In my head there are things, career-wise, that I’ve always wanted to accomplish by the time I’m 30. If I get there without checking them off the list I won’t be a failure, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t set goals and work to hit them. One of those things is to become a (legitimately) published author. 30 is a very young age to make that happen – I know and appreciate that – but if I don’t draw a line in the sand how am I supposed to stay motivated and prioritized? In the same way there are certain things, personal-things-wise, that I’d like to experience before I leave m 20s. One of those is to be in a long-ish term, committed relationship (so, longer than 5 months). That’s not me saying I have to be married by 30- not at all. That’s a goal because I think it is life enhancing to learn all the lessons that a committed relationship teaches while in your 20s. And so I look at myself at 27 and say, where have I been and what does that mean? What do I want, and how do I go about finding it?


27, to me, is that point at which you say, time to point the fun and games in a specific direction, time to take those major risks that you’re in perfect shape to make happen, time to take stock or do an audit or whatever clichĂ© works best and say, okay, good, but what if I just absolutely went for everything I really, truly desire.


But when I originally picked my scary number it was about that pit in your stomach you feel when you realize you forgot to take the perfect picture at a given even that’s never going to happen again. That, shit-I-missed-it feeling. Now that I’m actually here at 27 things are no less scary, but in a totally unexpected turn of events I feel like I want that scary.


I want to have that pressure of feeling like there are items to check off in my 20s. I’m excited about drawing lines in the sand and pacing to meet them. The whole idea of the gravity of this point in life is exhilarating. It’s not my scary age because I suspect I’ll find my first grey hair before I turn 2-8. It was never about that. It’s about the fact that the number 2-7- and where it falls in the scheme of life charges me with a motivation to commit to my passions and dive at the risks that requires.


So I’m scared, yes. But at 27 I’d rather be scared with a purpose than fearless without a cause. I like to think it’s just the motivational emotion I’ll need for the adventure that’s to come in my 27th year.


But more on that next week…

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What (would) happen if your crazy-wings got clipped?


I was watching Sunday’s MAD MEN last night when something struck me. In general that's either the fact that I can hate and love Don Draper at the same time despite him not being real and my not generally being attracted to men who speak in monotone or how nobody is paying attention to the fact that Sally Draper is on the fast-track to hussy-ville, but last night my hhmm involved the mysterious-yet-lovable Peggy Olson.

SPOILER ALERT. Peggy is dating a sensible boy whose name I can’t remember but think is Mark. Mark really likes Peggy even though she works too much and has a wardrobe entirely consisting of wool. Peggy seems to really like Mark even though we all know something is eventually going to go down between her and Pete (again), and her and Don (eventually). Regardless, Peggy and Mark are currently in a relationship.

Last night Mark paid a surprise visit to Peggy for the purpose of convincing her to have sex with him under the guise of giving her a box of what appeared to be chocolates. Which, reeeaaal quick:

Dear Mark,

It’s a really lovely idea to give your girlfriend a small token of your love any slash all the time. It can be especially nice to give her a gift before or after you ask her to help you with something. But perfume is not to help-decorate-my-apartment as chocolates are to please-give-me-your-virginity. Not at all. And, especially not after you blatantly point out that you brought the chocolates as a bribe. Come on buddy. This is Peggy Olsen. Every day of her life is a professional sausage fest. You’re going to need to up your game. Thanks.

So - Mark pushes – further than to my liking despite the fact that I’m annoyed with Peggy for this (MAD MEN VIRGIN SPOILER ALERT) I’m-a-virgin rouse she’s putting up. Peggy says, “I think you should go home now,” like the ice-princess Pete Campbell made her. Mark gives her a sloppy this-is-what-you’re-missing kiss, then blatantly says this-is-what-you’re-missing (this guy is total JV squad), and then the scene ends.

Which is precisely where my ah-ha moment comes in.

Hhmm, that was awkward, I thought. I wonder what Peggy is going to do now!?

Until I quickly realized the answer was absolutely nothing. Put on a pot of tea, perhaps? Go back to applying Ponds Cool Cream? Make a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch (this is what Pegs eats in my mind)? But in relation to continuing the evening drama with Mark – nothing.

Which (and here, finally, is the point) would be the exact opposite of what the 2010 version of Peggy would do because the 2010 Peggy Olson would have, at her disposal, all the technology to make some crazy.

Today’s Peggy would start by shooting a quick BBM to Mark once she was sure he had gotten into the subway. “Hey, sorry to be so weird. You know it’s just cause I want 2 take it slow, right?…” Then she’d jump on the blackberry to recount the entire story to whatever friend picked up first while powering up her Macbook pro (because she works at an ad agency) to start the same tell-all process with whomever was on gchat.

Once she was satisfied with their assessment that yes Mark is a douche but whatever because all guys are and at least he’s less a douche than (SEASON THREE SPOILER ALERT) Duck, who she never should have gotten involved with in the first place because a. he’s sooo old and b. he’s divorced and c. his name is Duck - so she should totally stay with Mark because he's a contender and totally looks like a husband. Once Peggy felt properly purged and completely right in all her assessment of the Mark situation she'd likely engage in some quick Facebook action (liking spree, some wild wall postings, ideally an upload of an awesome picture of herself looking super happy and "virginal") sos to prove to Mark that this episode did not mar her entire evening.

About around the time that was all complete Mark would have emerged from the subway to his Murray Hill neighborhood (approx. 20 minutes from Peg's East Vill locale) and would respond to Peggy's BBM with a "Yeah, it's cool - just makes me feel like you don't trust me..." Aanndd so would begin the 30 minute BBM battle over why Peggy does trust Mark, why Mark thinks they should have sex, and what this all means for the future of their relationship. All-the-while Peggy would have returned to the gchat sos to deliver a play-by-play of the BBM convo to the girlfriends she can't tell over the phone because the phone is in use for the BBM. It will be around this time that Peggy considers getting a landline for precisely this kind of scenario, then quickly discounts the thought because where does one even buy a cordless phone these days?

Instead our Peggy went back to work for the eve, shared the brief story with a formal alcoholic colleague the next morning, listened intently to his advice about what I believe was the discomfort of blue balls, aaannnd slept with Mark that night.

Right, so, hhmm....

Monday, August 2, 2010

On life thesis statements and being the mayor of a non-existent town

Today I’m writing from The Land of 10,000 lakes, the birthplace of Target, the state where – as my Meme here says – the mosquito is the official bird. To me it’s always just been the place that explains why my Dad wears shorts in the house all winter long.


I am here for a difficult reason – the passing of my grandfather, Poppey – but in this family, mourning takes the shape of a multi-day storytelling session with breaks for food (if you call blintz soufflĂ© food, which would be an insult to blintz souffle). It’s the kind of place at the kind of moment where an almost-27-year-old grappling with major life changes should be quarantined and given high doses of when-we-were-your-age stories intravenously. It’s also a bizarrely fervent fan base for this blog meaning no story – wisdom-filled or otherwise – begins without “oh – I’ve got one! Now this one is for sure going to make the blog!” Correction: no story Uncle Evan starts.


I am a good audience for a good story (if you don’t mind being misquoted), and owing to the IQ and long-term memory of this side of my family – there are countless tales to tell (none of which compare to the time Poppey took a solo ride on a Zoo elephant at the age of late-60-something because my cousin Sam chickened out on the elephant boarding dock. “Look! No Hands!”), but in story-shower storm situations I always become more interested in the patterns than the details. Maybe it’s because being a writer gives you an ear for the overarching narrative that comes out of the events? Maybe it’s because I’m more interested in who the character is than what they do? Whatever the reason, come story 10 of 10,000 (new state motto?), I go into what-would-we-title-the-Biopic? mode. I listen for the thesis statements of the people in the stories. Not what they did but who they were to the whole. As the now-very-non-PC adage goes, were they chiefs? Were they Indians? Were they Mr. Potters or George Bailey? If we’re all just some form of characters in The Wizard Of Oz, which part would they play?


With the stories of Poppey both shared and gleamed in the short time since we’ve arrived I have my overarching narrative and with that, a lesson on how-to-live that can sometimes only come once you’ve stopped living. It's a life-lesson I’d like to bottle and re-feed myself intravenously whenever the questions of how-should-I-behave-in-this-world comes up.


The lesson is that you can be an unelected mayor of a non-existent town without a day of campaigning and that, if you are able to achieve that kind of stature in that kind of no-boundaries community, it will define your life and that community. It is also about how a couple (Poppey has a Meme counterpart to complete the oddly-named set) can have a style of life so compatible that it’s hard to determine which personality influenced the other.


See there are people who go to the grocery store to pick up a few things and people who go to the grocery store to visit with the owners, talk about the Twins game, and then pick up a few things, maybe. There are people who have a doctor they see when they are sick and people who have a doctor they call by first name, buy meaningful gifts, and speak of as if he’s family. Some people go to religious center for worship. Other people go to a religious center for community, friendship, education, and a to workout with the congregation’s fitness instructor who then becomes the kind of friend that visits the house upon their passing. Some people have children that they care for like parents care for children. Other people have those plus a gaggle of other people who somehow become like children. There are people who are sought out for advice and council because they have degrees in advice and council-giving and there are people who are elevated to that kind of oracle-stature because they know the right things to say.


They’re not chiefs. They’re not indians. They’re not even community leaders or elders. They’re just people who on-purpose or because they can’t help themselves – reach out and touch a community in a way that gives them an un-official, official role in their world. And as their life comes to an end, they are the very rare kind of people who receive a donation in their name from the owner of their favorite restaurant.


And those are just a few examples.


People will give you lots of advice on how to live your life. Big-picture advice about financials and religions and proper number of kids spaced a proper number of years apart. After my time here in America’s heartland picking up advice on life-in-general based on the sad passing of one life-in-specific, I’ve gleamed that the big-picture is made of the tiny actions that make you known in community you occupy - the tasks of a campaigning mayor who doesn't know he's campaigning and doesn't want to mayor.


They tell actresses to, “make the whole room remember you.” I think the thesis statement of all the stories I’ve heard here is, remember every single person in the room, and they won’t want to forget you.


(And, also, Uncle Evan is a God among men)