Friday, August 31, 2012

SEPTEMBER SUNDAY NIGHT SEX TALKS


The monthly show stays monthly with an incredible 
line-up of lady storytellers ready to tackle the theme: 

"I swear it made perfect sense at the time..."

Time: Doors/Drinks at 8pm, Show at 8:30pm

Venue: Bar Lubitsch - Santa Monica Blvd. in WeHo

Tix: $6 at the door

Performers: An incredibly set of writers and performers from all sex talk walks of life...


CINDY CHUPACK

Most recently a writer for ABC’s Modern Family, Cindy Chupack won three Golden Globes and an Emmy for her work as a writer/executive producer of HBO's Sex and the City.  She is also the author of "The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays” and she’s currently working on (and reading from) her second book, a comic memoir about marriage called “The Longest Date.”  For more by and about Cindy, visit www.cindychupack.com

ANNA DAVID 
 
A current contributor to The Daily Beast, Details, Women’s Health, The New York Post and Maxim, David is currently the Executive Editor of the addiction and recovery website The Fix." Her books include the novels Party Girl (Harper, 2007) and Bought (Harper, 2009), the anthology Reality Matters (Harper, 2010), the memoir Falling for Me (Harper, 2011). Her storytelling show, "True Tales of Lust and Love" —which has featured everyone from Maria Bamford to Gigi Levangie—consistently sells out The Mint in LA. For more info visit www.annadavid.com

ALEXI WASSER   
 
Alexi Wasser is an L.A.-based performer who also goes by the Twitter moniker IMBOYCRAZY. Her blog of the same name is aptly described as, "a pep talk in the form of a slap in the face in the form of a blog." Alexi was most recently featured in HBO's hit GIRLS. Follow her online at @imboycrazy


 LIZ KERIN 

Liz is a writer, director, producer, and general all-around storytelling lady. She divides her time between NY and LA and loves tiny dogs, peanut butter, and overwrought
early 90s musical theatre. Liz is currently en route back to LA from NYC, where she just wrapped production on the award-winning play "...And Then She DIES at the End!" She wrote and directed the show with longtime writing partner Christina Brosman for the New York International Fringe Festival. Find more at www.elizabethkerin.com/


Details on previous shows at SUNDAYNIGHTSEXTALKS.COM
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Executing the "Are We Exclusive?" Conversation


Long before the nerve-wracking, "I love you," and - in my opinion - even more nerve-wracking, "can I fart freely now?"comes the mother of all awkward conversations - the "are we?/should we be?/I'd like to be exclusive."

Deciding to go from "seeing each other" to boyfriend/girlfriend is no small deal, except that it is, but we'll get to that in a second. Regardless, you want to do it well sos to a. secure a "yes" and b. not go down in your social circle's history as the guy who did it via a Facebook wall post (you bet your bottom dollar that's happened). 

This is not a post about whether or not you're ready to be exclusive. For that please consult this other post slash your older sister. If you don't have an old sister, please consult me.

This is also not a post written by a person who has ever properly executed this conversation. R and I had the conversation after a few cocktails on the night of my L.A. housewarming party. I woke up and said, "Did you trick me into being your girlfriend last night?" and he said, "Yes! I did!" It's also worth noting (because R says I have to note it) that  it happened that night because I kept introducing him as, "the guy I'm dating," and he, "wasn't going to have any more of that." I swear I did not say such a ridiculous thing (a dozen times...), but everyone else at the party says that I did. So, per usual, do as I suggest, and not as I've done. 

Without further embarrassing stories, here are my suggestions, directions, and objections:

This is a conversation you have in person

No texting it, tweeting it, or gchatting it during a long, boring work day. If you are mature enough to be in a relationship, then you should be capable of having the conversation confirming that fact in person. This, of course, does not apply to people under the age of 18 who, I'm told, do not function as humans outside of their mobile devices. As a general rule, if you can vote, gamble, buy cigarettes and legally care for yourself without the aid of parents, then you can ask someone if they want to be your girlfriend in person.   

It's also nice to do it during a lovely moment

Call me grandma, but I vote for adding a little romance to the moment. Why not seal the deal over dinner at your favorite sushi restaurant, or while you're running together in the morning, or during that pre-sleep cuddle session? This should not require heavy orchestration (as in jumbo trons or scavengers hunts), but taking a pause from the usual to create a moment you'll remember never hurts.

That is...if you know where this conversation is going...

I should have mentioned up front that there are two ways one enters into the "are we exclusive."

1. You know that you are both on the same page about where this relationship is going and simply need to confirm that very obvious fact with a simple, romantic conversation. If that is your scenario, continue to follow the above direction.

2. You exist in a constant state of gchatting your college roommates lines like, "if I don't figure out what's going on between us soon I'm going to have a nervous break down." In this scenario you want to be exclusive, or to at least figure out where the other person stands. If this is what you're going through, consult your older sister (and or me). As I've said far too many times before, it should be clear whether or not two people want to be exclusive, but because it NEVER is, I've outlined some talking points below.

First, here are some ways to say it, if you do know where it's going.

It's been a few weeks or months. You know neither of you is seeing other people. You are making future plans. Your older sister and/or I said it's official.  Here's some dialogue for you, you lucky dog.
  •  Him: I've had a great time this past month and I don't want to be seeing anyone else anymore, so if it's okay with you, I think we should (make it official/be exclusive/do the boyfriend and girlfriend thing). 
  • You: I'd like that too. 
  •  You: I feel like we're at that point where we should have the "are we exclusive conversation."
  • Him: I agree. I vote that we are.
  • You: Good, me too. 
  • Him: Cool, so then it's settled. 
  • You: Yes. Exciting.
  • Him: Can I un-pause Breaking Bad now? 
  • You: Right. Sorry. Yes. 
  •  Him: So I've been thinking that I'd like to call you my girlfriend, if that's okay. 
  • You: Wow, well, that explains this completely unprecedented late-night stroll. 
  • Him: This blog I read said to make it a lovely moment. 
  • You: What a brilliant blog.
  • Him: Good. And yes, you should read it too. Everyone should really. 
 Those are but three, simple examples that get the job done. You are probably thinking, "oh my god those are so cheesy I could never, ever say that stuff!!" Here's the thing you need to remember: cheesy is a beautiful thing in a world where 99% of the people you know wish you Happy Birthday on a virtual wall. Also, if this person wants to be your boy/girlfriend, they're going to give you a lot of leeway around this conversation. It's sort of like how you can't mess up a pre-proposal speech. All the other side is hearing is, "HE/SHE LIKES ME!!!" You can say pretty much anything.

But if you're not quite sure how it's going to go down, here are my thoughts

It's been a few weeks or months. Things are going well, but there's no indication that they're moving toward any specific direction. You are a mature person who wants to understand the meaning of this relationship for both parties. You have consulted with your older sister and/or me, and believe engaging in the conversation is the best next step. Here's some dialogue for you, you brave little toaster. 
  • You: I feel like we should talk about where this is going. 
  • Him: Yeah?
  • You: Yeah. I'd like us to be exclusive. 
  • Him: Like boyfriend/girlfriend? 
  • You: Yes, just like that. 
  • Him: I need to think about that. 
  • You: Okay. Please do and let me know what you think. 
  • Him: Hey, I'd like to have a conversation about us. 
  • You: Oh, wow, the conversation? 
  • Him: Yes. I'm ready to call you my girlfriend, but I'm not sure if you're on the same page. 
  • You: I'm on the same page. 
  • Him: Great. That was easier than I thought it would be. 
  • You: Good. You are sort of sweating profusely though...
  • Him: Right. Sorry about that... 
 Those are two simple ways to raise the issue you've been avoiding raising. You're probably thinking, "oh my god, I can't do this. He/she is totally going to run for the hills, and hate me for bringing it up, and feel so awkward and uncomfortable." Here's the thing you need to remember: you're in this not-yet-a-real-relationship too. Are you living in misery wondering where it's going? Are you feeling hurt by his/her lack of commitment? Do you spend every TV-watching session burning with the anticipation of this very conversation? That is no way to live!! If the person wants to run for the hills, let them run! At least you finally know it's not going anywhere, and you can focus your efforts on a relationship that will actually be a relationship. If the conversation gets a little awkward, so be it! At least you're not developing a small ulcer over bringing up this topic.

If you follow no other rule, please please please follow this one: 

Do NOT make your Facebook relationship status the center of this conversation. No, "so Kimmy was, like, 'why is your status still single if you've been with Billy for, like, four months??' and I was like, 'I don't know. I guess because we haven't had the big talk.' So, like, should I change my status or what? Are we, like, 'in a relationship?'" That sounds as stupid as it is, so please avoid.

Now, what rules and/or advice did I miss?   


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How To Organize A Writer's Retreat

I spent this past weekend in the woods of Big Bear, California with three fellow writers and six bottles of wine thanks to the incredible idea of my friend Melissa Hunter. A few weeks ago Melissa reached out to me with an e-mail.

Subject line: Proposition. 
Body of Text: What would you say to getting out of the 
city for a weekend of writing without distraction?

Three days and one full feature outline later, I'm here to spread the good word about this getting-away-to-focus-on-writing. Here is exactly how it's done:

Select The Proper Retreatants

You'll need approximately 4-6 girls ranging in age from 25-29. Some of them should know each other well, but none of them should be attached at the hip. Guys are fine too, if that's your thing. They should each have experience writing but not be so successful sos to intimidate and/or annoy the rest of the retreatants. I recommend including at least one person who knows how to slash enjoys cooking and at least two people who will want to go in the hot tub at midnight only to get too hot after 10 minutes. People who shower quickly are also a real plus, for the weekend but also in general.


Select The Perfect Location

You want to pick a place that's far enough from your permanent location that you won't be inundated with the usual people you find at your local coffee/writing shop, but not so far that you waste tons of time in transit. If you live in Los Angeles the answer is Big Bear (or Ojai, or Temecula, or Santa Barbara, or Lake Arrow Head, but I liked Big Bear). Three hours, tops. Wildly inspiring scenery. Affordable cabins. And four beef jerky stores within the first mile of the town boarder. Those are dedicated beef jerky stores, not stores that happen to sell beef jerky. 

Accommodations Are Key


In real estate it's location, location, location but in housing for a successful writer's retreat it's character, character, ample comfortable seating options in good light. Our humble, Swiss-style ski house, aka John and Janet's Place!, was filled to the brim with bear-themed mountain paraphernalia and decorated entirely for Christmas. Nothing fills you with as passion to push through that second act quite like the spirit of Christmas, it turns out.  I would visit this kitch castle in the hills every time I have a script to write, if not for a listing I saw for a log cabin in the shape of a dome. That's like writing from inside the Epcot ball!

Stock The Fridge 

The whole point of this retreat is to shut yourselves in and write, so you can't be breaking every three hours for three square meals. Here are the essential items you'll want to pick up at the Von's on your way into town: wine (3 Red, 3 White), hummus (roasted red pepper and traditional variety), things to dip in hummus (pita, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes), brie and goat cheeses, one giant french baguette, eggs, bacon, Kettle Chips (Honey Dijon variety), Pop Chips (all varieties available), something to eat for dinner one night, something to eat for dinner the second night, Lollipops and or other candy to quell oral fixation. You'll also want to stop at the CVS to get ten packets of index cards and those folding cardboard presentation boards. Visual outlining makes you seem very, very cool.





Make A Schedule

Writing is serious business, so you'll need a serious schedule written on a piece of torn out notebook paper. It should include 3-4 hour writing session broken up by "check-ins" during which you will drink wine, eat things dipped in hummus, and talk about your projects. Put that schedule to a vote then slap it on the fridge with a three-bears-under-the-Christmas-tree magnet and stick to it. Mutual respect for writing time is really key to the weekend, so is telling your boyfriend, "we had a schedule and everything!"







 Write Like The Dickens

This is your own, completely uninterrupted, extremely special time to work your fanny off on whatever project is next on deck. Do not waste it! Indulge in it! Make yourself a cozy writing nook in the upstairs bedroom of the cabin. Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee to enjoy while you type. Make the best god damned Pandora playlist you've ever made (the answer is a Paul Simon based mixed with Broken Bells, Etta James, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.) You will not believe how much work you can get done in under 48 hours if you commit to a task (X pages of dialogue, a beat sheet, a narrative outline), and don't stop. This will, of course, make you question your entire existence as anything but a person who lives in a Christmas-themed cabin in the woods and writes inspired screenplays, but that's an issue for another day.   



Instagram The Crap Out Of It All


If a writer's retreat happens in the remote woods of Big Bear Mountain and nobody "likes" it, did it even really happen? I have no idea, but I can tell you that it's going to take someone other than three pun-loving iPhone users from L.A. to figure it out.


Note: late that evening Melissa turned to me and said, "*%&! It should have been, Act Three? More like Act Tree." I agreed. That is better. I guess we'll just have to go back.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let's talk about relying on another person's financial help in order to fulfill your personal goals





Things are going to change significantly for me in the personal finance category as I transition into the life of a freelancer. As I mentioned, I have enough savings to get me by on my current spending levels for many months, but I'd like to avoid tapping into those savings as much as possible.

I have nightly dreams of some free article I write for HuffPo going crazy-viral and leading to massive paychecks for freelance pieces in every magazine that still exists, but the likelihood of that is slim given my current relationship with HuffPo (I don't have one), and what magazines are paying these days (not much).

And so the topic of "who will pay what percentage for which life costs" came up at the breakfast table the other day. We try to wake up early and cook a delicious egg scramble at least twice a week, but I think I'm going to put the kibosh on that because lately in ends in conversations like this.
  • R: So we should talk about finances. Who's going to pay for what after you make the transition. 
  • Me: Yeah?...
  • R: Oh Jesus. Are you going to start crying again?
  • Me: No...well....probably not. 
  • R: All I'm saying is that the balance of income is going to change, so we should look at what we each pay for living expenses and adjust accordingly. 
  • Me: Right. Okay. 
  • R: You don't want to talk about this right now. 
  • Me: No thank you. 
  • R: Fine. How about Sunday night? Does that give you enough time to prepare yourself?
  • Me: Yes...well...probably not. 
 It's just money. It's just money it's just money it's just money. That's the mantra I've taken to repeating in places like the shower and the traffic jam. But to a person who hasn't relied on a single individual for any financial assistance since graduating from college, it's more than just money. There's something deeply meaningful and therefore deeply scary about accepting help from someone else to afford your life decisions.

Maybe this has something to do with the fact that R and I are not married, I thought. Maybe if we were married I would feel like it was under the auspices of matrimony that he should support me and I should support him, financially speaking. But - spoiler alert - we're tracking toward that life step and R has made it very clear that I shouldn't wait for a contract to pursue this phase of my career. If it means he pays a little more for rent and utilities and little more for groceries, so be it. It's not A. worth rushing a wedding or B. worth delaying a career. It's just money!

I think the real issue is that I feel an overwhelming sense of pride about "doing it all by myself." I scoff at articles about 20-something whose films and novels and apartments and vacations are bankrolled by their parents. They didn't really do it, I think. Someone did it for them, so it doesn't really count.I have, so far, avoided being "one of those 20-somethings." I have also, so far, avoided writing a book, selling a script, producing a podcast and developing a freelance writing career. It is almost impossible to launch one career while focusing entirely on another. That is a fact. It's also a fact that some people have trust funds or uncles in the movie business or famous boyfriends who get them book deals. How is me letting R buy the lunch meat an offense against the creative pursuit, considering all that?

The other side of that is an intense pressure to achieve x, y, z in a, b, c time-frame because someone else is helping me make it happen. I wonder if I'll feel guilty lingering over a coffee with a fellow freelance friend because I should be home writing the script that's forcing R to now paying 75% of the electric bill. It is curious that this same logic didn't apply to my ease with lingering over a Lifetime movie, dollar drafts happy hour or three hour nap in the years my parents were paying 99% of the college bill, but I am now sorry about that, Mom and Dad. 

Now, because I literally cannot continue to angst over this, are the conclusions I've come to at this phase of my over-analysis of the money issues surrounding my life decision:
  • R and I both made changes to our lifestyle several months ago (staying in a smaller, cheaper apartment, reducing meals out, reducing travel) to afford this move of mine. As such, R can comfortably afford his new percentages of the life costs, and I will be able to afford mine. 
  • If I am feeling uncomfortable about any aspect of the new deal, I'll say so, and we'll talk about it. If I have to take on more work, so be it. If I have to shut up and get over it, so be that too. Communication, however, will be key (you're shocked about this, I know).
  • I will continue to pay for all of my personal bills (car lease, insurance, student loan, credit card, cell phone). Those are expenses I know I will not currently be comfortable allowing someone else to cover.  
  • Yes, some people can point to every single thing they've ever done and say, I did that all by myself; nobody else lifted a finger or provided a penny! I won't be that person, but I'm coming to believe that's a good thing. It is incredible to have the support and love of a person who wants you to achieve your goals so much that they're willing to adjust their life. That is a gift.  But accepting that gift is almost as important - saying, I can do this much, but I need this help. That's a gift you give yourself. 
All of that said, I welcome any and all advice and criticism around this issue. I have a feeling there are some similar stories out there, and some similar anxieties. Please share, do I don't feel like such a crazy person...on this one topic at least.
 

 












Wednesday, August 22, 2012

THANK YOU ALL

The awesome outpouring of love and support after my post yesterday was encouraging, inspiring and touching. Thank you all. I won't let either of us down.

For now it's one foot in front of the next, and mornings spent doing something strikingly similar to the below.

My name is also Jessica, and I have those same pajamas. The only real different is the size of the thighs and the color of the curly hair.



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why I haven't written recently, and what it's made me realize


I haven't posted here in over a week and a half, and I'm mad about it. I'm mad, and I'm disappointed,  and I'm stressed.

I'm mad because I made a personal commitment to writing twice a week, and I haven't followed through lately. I'm disappointed because I know that as a writer/blogger you're nothing without your audience, and you lose that audience the minute you become unreliable. And I'm stressed because this isn't the only writing that I haven't had time to do. There is a script that needs revision and another that needs to be started, and there are people waiting for both.
  • "I think I'm going through a really hard time," I told R last night.
  • "I think so too," he said, "what are we doing to do about it?"
  • "I don't know," I said.
  • "That's not true," he said. 
The first issue I always raise when the topic of making writing my full-time life presents is the cost of health insurance in this country. "Do you know the cost of individual health insurance in this country??" I bark at R when he tells me to take the leap away from a full time job. "It's astronomical! Plus I have a car, and car insurance, and student loans, and rent and general life needs. I mean, I could probably eek by freelancing...if it wasn't for the cost of health insurance...it's really outrageous."

After I'm forced to admit that there are dozens of ways to make roughly 1K per month (my car is cheap, and I now live in a small apartment with R), I turn to the issue of "deserving it." That's the only way I can explain feeling like I have no "right" - at this age, in this economy, given the numbers stacked against writers - to say, "who cares! I want to do it! Be damned, world!"

I think this particular neurosis stems from the fact that I've only ever viewed writing as a hobby/passion that very lucky people get to do after the entire universe has confirmed that they're allowed to do it. "How exactly does the universe confirm that you're allowed to be a writer?" R asked. "I'm not sure," I say, "but I'll know it when it's confirmed." I admit this is a cockamaime theory, when cornered.

People are struggling just to get by, I say. My parents didn't spend their life savings on my education so I could quit a job, I say. People will think I'm foolish, I say, just another starry-eyed writer in Los Angeles.
  • "Who cares?" R says.
  • "I care!" I say.
  • "Why do you care so much?" R says.
  • "I don't know!" I say, "I'm still working on that!"
 From there come the list of my "I'll do it when" terms, which include but are not limited to:
  • "Okay, I'll do it when this most recent script is finished."
  • "Okay, I'll do it after this most recent script is finished and I have a really good indication that it's going to lead to something."
  • "Okay, I'll do it when I'm certain I've stacked up enough freelance work to pay the bills."
  • "Okay, I'll do it when I've saved exactly six months worth of living expenses. You know, they say that's exactly how much you should have to consider going freelance." 
  • "Okay, I'll do it when I've saved exactly nine months worth of living expenses. They say six months is all you really need, but I'll just go ahead and make it nine to be extra safe." 
Except at this point the script is finished, there's a good indication it's going to lead to something, and I have 8.5 months of living expenses saved. Regarding the stacking up of freelance work, I have some leads, but it's hard to focus on them when you're working the kind of hours I have been this past year.

"What are you really so afraid of?" R asks.

This was last night. It was also the third time in the past six weeks that he's asked me that question, and I've responded with tears. "No, no, no. Don't cry!" he says, "This should be the most exciting time in your life! You're finally on the cusp of doing what you've planned to do for years. Why do you keep crying about it?"

In my head I start in on the health insurance issue, then the general finance fears, then the "who am I do just up and be a writer?" hang up and then, "I'll do it when x, y, z details make it wholly clear that this is a 100% safe thing to do."

Yes, all of those are legitimate factors, in one way or another, but they're not the real issue.

The real issue is that I'm afraid I'll fail. I'm afraid I'm not good enough to make it. I'm afraid I don't know how to be a full-time writer. I'm afraid that my self worth will plummet, and I'll develop crippling writer's block, and I'll end up producing less product that I even do now.

...And then I won't have full-time work, and everyone will think I'm a fool, and I'll go into debt, and I'll have to move back into my parents basement, and I won't be able to afford health insurance. It's really very expensive, you know.
  • "Do you really think you're going to fail?" R says.
  • "No," I say, "Not that badly, at least."
 And then I say the thing that I always say once the conversation reaches this point: If I'm really honest with myself, I'm more afraid that I'm never going to do it.

A college professor once told me that when you find yourself at a crossroads of confidence, it's often most helpful to simply say the truths. Don't get caught up in the "what ifs" and "maybes" and "I don't knows." Say the things you absolutely know, and see what path they suggest. So, here goes:
  • Nothing has ever made me feel as fulfilled, excited, engaged or proud as my writing. 
  • Over the past five years I have developed a loyal audience through this blog. You continue to read my writing, tell me you enjoy it, and often ask for more. 
  • I have been paid to write by many publications.
  • People within the creative community here in L.A. have expressed interest and confidence in my ability to have a writing career. 
  • I have previous experience as a waitress, babysitter, retail associate, tutor, and PA.  
  • I will not go hungry. I will not have to move back into my parents basement. And I will very likely never go without health insurance. 
  • Also, I have never had writer's block.
This is a turning point in my life and in my writing, but when I look at those truths, it's a turn I've already made. I am a writer. I have been a writer for years. The only difference between the writer I currently am, and the writer I intend to be very soon is the time I commit to writing. Being a writer is not about how much money you make writing, no matter how much I need that validation to call myself a success. There will come a time when I make nothing, and that's something I have to get used to. There will also hopefully come a time when I make lots, but that isn't something I can bank on. Now it's time to take a leap of faith rooted in a list of truths and backed by the support of lots of people, including all of you.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom," Anais Nin said. 

I think I'm arriving at that day, and I think I know what I need to do. 

No. Sorry.

I am arriving at that day, and I know what I need to do. 

I guess when you think about it, the cost of monthly health insurance is pretty cheap when you weigh it against the cost of never doing the one thing you aspire to do in life. 
   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Today Is My 29th Birthday, and I Feel...

...Great about it.

I've been dreading this post - the one I've written every August 7th for the past five years - because I felt I hadn't come to any conclusions about my own 2-9 mark. I didn't feel particularly anxious or particularly calm. I didn't have very many regrets about my 20s, and I know that those I do have are just a product of peer slash self pressure (I don't have a three picture deal!! I haven't written a successful young adult book series!!!). I'm healthier than I've ever been thanks to more regular flossing and less regular dirty martinis. This weird area on my hip hurts when I go on the elliptical for longer than 30 minutes, but I'm going to chalk that up to the fact that 29 is not 18, and be grateful I only have three strands of grey hair (well...used to...plucked those puppies the minute I found them). I am in a relationship with the absolute right person, and he makes every aspect of my life better, every day. And even though they're 3K miles away, my loving and supportive family remains loving and supportive in a way that feels like they're right here in L.A.

So is life a blissful place of self acceptance and wise perspective on love and life? Absolutely not.

Every other day I wonder if I'm making the right decision about how I balance my work and my passions (note: I'm not, and I'm working on that...). Sometime around 3pm every day I almost fall asleep and think to myself, oh my god am I tired because I'm old?? I am!! I'm tired because I'm old!! I cannot just eat a bagel and cream cheese every morning for breakfast. My blood is Italian and Jewish, and my thighs are now following suit. There are days when I wonder if I'm waiting to long to start a family, and I'm not married or engaged. When I'm sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on Olympic at 5PM I think, all of my family and most of my closest friends are across the entire country; what am I doing here?!  And I now have the potential to get a hangover after two drinks. TWO DRINKS PEOPLE!

These lists of life pluses and minuses are only meant to prove that 29 isn't any one thing, just like 25,6,7 and 8. I have pride and I have disappointments. I feel young and I feel old. I am comfortable in my skin and still totally self conscious at times. I both know what I want to come in my life and have no idea how or when it will happen. Sometimes that is totally and completely overwhelming, and sometimes that is somehow entirely manageable.

But I think at 29, versus 25,6,7, or 8, I realize that it's not about knowing everything, it's about handling the inability to truly know anything. Any life worth living is a balancing act of passions and obligations, family and friends, fears and desires. I have not fully mastered any of those things, but on any given day I can feel in control of one or some. Those moments on those days feels good, and that good feeling gives me hope, and that hope makes me excited about all the next days to come.

So after four years of writing 800 word essays on what it means to turn a given age inside this all-powerful 20 to 30-year range, I don't have a thesis statement on the final 20-something number. Today I feel great. Tomorrow I may feel tired or frustrated or fat. By Thursday, who knows.

Life isn't measured by what we think we know but rather by how we know to live.

At 29 I feel like I've really got a handle on how to be alive...   



Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Secret, Special Birthday Shopping Routine


Today I will do what is, perhaps, the most ridiculous ceremonial thing out of all the ridiculous ceremonial things I do (treat myself to a fancy hotel dirty martini every time I finish a script being a close second on the list).

I will go to the Bank of America and take out $40 from the ATM. I will have the bank teller break that $40 into a twenty and two tens. I will put one twenty and one ten of that forty dollars into the front fold of my wallet. And I will take that $30 to the Forever 21 at the 3rd Street Promenade where I will spend it, and not a penny more than it, on a dress to wear on my birthday - just as I have done every single year since I turned - wait for it - 21. I warned you it was ridiculous.

This whole birthday dress routine did not start out as an annual event. I actually didn't even realize it was happening until roughly 24. That should prove just how often I'm in a Forever 21 buying a $29.99 dress. 

It dawned on me somewhere around the empire waist white lace number (24th, Boat Basin Party, NYC). Before that there was a one shoulder black tank and navy green military-style capri pant (21, Leggett's Bar and Grill, Manasquan, NJ) and something short, tight and red (22nd, Sway Club, NYC). This is pre Facebook's photo capabilities (remember that??), so I can't be entirely sure.  There have since been two floral maxi dresses, one with big, pastel flowers (25th, Tortilla Joe's, NYC), and one with tiny, earth tone flowers (28th, Malibu Wines, CA); a white, layered number with a cute racer back cut (26th, The Dove, NYC), and this pink, fringey situation somewhere in the mix (27th? no... 23rd? I'm missing a year...).

But once I realized I was ringing in each year of life in a one-wear frock from a place that middle school girls shop, I thought, awesome, I've got to see this one straight through to 29!  

Anndd, here we are at 29. Time flies when you're dressing like time isn't flying...


I like the think my annual shopping treat is like a mini microcosm of my progression in life from 21-30. At first I did not have enough money to shop at stores where they sell clothes made of real fabric. Then I had slightly more money, but I wanted to save it for things other than trendy party dresses. Now I have those things I saved for and a bit more money in the bank, but I'm totally conditioned to gawk at $100 price tags (or $31.00 price tags). I like crazy, loud clothing, and my style changes from one year to the next. Ergo - F21 is my mecca.

I still have each and every one of my dirt-cheap birthday dresses rudely taking up space in the closet R and I now share. They're supposed to self destruct after one wear, but they keep on keeping on, like little hanging metaphors of 20-something life.

This year I'm focused on a tea length mustard yellow skirt and sheer, white printed tank, and I know I'll find it because there is nothing the Forever 21 doesn't carry - nothing.

As for next year - we'll see. Maybe I'll up the ante to $40 and change the venue to Nordstrom Rack.

Or maybe I'll just keep buying a $30 dress at a store intended for kids for the rest of my birthday celebrating life...