Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Bedroom is the Mission Control of the Relationship


Sometimes when I haven't come up with an idea for a blog post the next day I'll go to bed thinking about it, hoping to will myself to dream something genius, and sometimes it actually works! I will wake up, and in those moments of snoozing before I've actually committed to being awake, the idea will surface. The problem is, it's rarely genius. It's rarely even logical. Three weeks ago, for example, it was Why You Should Never Date Anyone Like Bruno Mars, according to how he is in his songs. I know. It sounds good, but don't fall for it...like I did for 500 now-deleted words...

So today - for lack of an actual idea because my dream self has writer's block too - I am going to write about that first thing that came to mind during this morning's snooze session. I'm going to follow the whole idea through to its illogical conclusion.  You're welcome, Thursday.

I was lying there wondering why I keep waking up with a head ache (could have something to do with the fact that I refuse to wear the gross night guard that prevents me from grinding my teeth into oblivion all night long) and I recalled this inspired one-liner that must have been marinating right at the end of that last dream I had before waking (no idea what it was about, but a vision of the Freehold Raceway Mall keeps coming to mind): The bedroom is the mission control of the relationship.  

I said that out loud this morning. This was before I'd technically opened my eyes, so I can't be sure if I was really awake, but I definitely said it, and then I flipped over and had the following internal monologue:

Right. Yes. The bedroom is the mission control of the relationship. That's so wise. Why have I never thought that before?

Not though, like, in a sexual sense. I mean, it is, but I mean, like, what goes on inside the bedroom - outside of the sex - is representative of what goes on in the rest of the relationship. Like, the bedroom is that thing that represents all the things in the real world. What are those things called? Those things that are like a diorama of the bigger thing? GOD WHAT IS THAT WORD!!! 

Oh. Right. Microcosm. The bedroom is like the microcosm of the relationship, the relationship in this case being a thing not a place, but that's fine. They'll get it.

So what goes on inside the bedroom will be mimicked throughout the relationship. Yes, this is good. Very smart.

If you - say - read separately at night you will be separate in other aspects of life. Or if someone is a bed hog they will be a life hog. Or - ooh this is good - if you let the other person sleep in while you're getting ready for work, you are kind and sensitive in other venues. 

There's no other place where all these specific things happen, so that makes the most important place the bedroom. It has all the info, even though we don't realize it. It is the missions control. The mission control of the relationship. God that sounds good. Why has no one ever thought of that before.

Somebody get me that thing where you say your essay into a recorder and it types up a blog post. I know I've seen that somewhere....wait...maybe it was at the Freehold Raceway Mall...hhmm, just a few minutes ago...

Now aren't you glad I don't write on some of the days where I just don't have any ideas :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ways L.A. Has Changed Me


I had a lovely conversation with a recent L.A. import last night. She was concerned about all the typical things recent L.A. imports worry about: will I meet normal people? will I find work? if I don't find work, will I want to leave? But then she asked me something that struck me as far more mature than the things most recent L.A. imports - especially the 20-something ones - ask: do you think L.A. changed you a lot? 

I can honestly say that I have not considered that questions in the 2.5 years since I moved to this city. I'm pretty sure I wondered whether or not it would "change me" before I moved here, but I can't even say that definitively. And, to make this post even harder to write, I can't say whether it has or it hasn't. Things about me have changed for sure, but I am a different person on this coast than I was on the East? Is there, technically speaking, any way to stay exactly the same?

Here's what I've got so far. I am leaving out the elements related to having a boyfriend - no doubt the single greatest difference in my L.A. versus pre-L.A. life - because this is about the city, not R. Sorry R.

1. I function at a 10-15% slower and calmer pace

That doesn't seem like a huge difference, but when you consider that I started at 150% speed and anxiety, it's something. Things happen slower on this side of the country. People aren't in so much of a rush. That does not seem to apply to traffic and/or the speed with which people can crowd a Zumba studio, but on the whole, I've taken to the chill-er lifestyle, and I'm happy for the change...I think. 

2. I am way healthier

Cliches are true, and this one is huge. There are more healthy places to eat and more people eating healthy food. There is also more access to fresh fruits and veggies all year round. Do people eat them to be healthy or to be thin? I don't know. I eat them for both reasons. That said, I have not and will not become a vegan (sorry Liz), not even just on Mondays, and I'm never doing a juice cleanse again (that is just too much damn juice). 

3. I am way more sober

I never had a drinking problem, per say, but I did drink consistently in New York, and in quantities greater than, say, two drinks per sitting. Here I can honestly fill in that box for 0-5 units of alcohol per week on the doctor's office questionnaire. Is that because I'm older, wiser, and in a relationship? Is that because anything more than three drinks leaves me with a pounding head ache the next morning? Is it because I have to drive everywhere I intend to drink? Or is it just because of the culture of this city? The answer is all of the above, but I can tell you from my recent weeks in NYC, you somehow ignore all those reasons outside of the car thing when you're in that city. I think it has something to do with the millions of people happily drinking at the millions of establishments. It's like a city-wide peer pressure.

4. I desire to be way more fit

I am not way more fit. I'm actually less fit because I used to walk two miles a day every day to work in NYC. But I really want to hike and bike and spin and yoga and do this new thing that's like ballet meets yoga meets a slumber party. EVERYONE here seems like they're doing all those things, all the time. I know that's not true, but it feels true. So, I'm going to say it. I'm more body conscious here in L.A. Part of that is good because it makes me desire to take care of myself. Most of that is bad because it's just a product of comparing myself to every trainer-sculpted L.A. body. Either way, I think it's pretty unavoidable.

5. I talk about entertainment ALL the time

People from outside this world often ask if I have friends who don't work "in the industry." I do. I actually have more than I thought I might. But I talk about movies, film, TV, scripts, projects, and people in the industry with all of those people, all the time, too. This is an industry town. It would be like moving to D.C., working in politics, and not talking about politics all/most of the time. I moved here so that I could talk about entertainment all the time, and so I take full advantage of the ability. So far it hasn't gotten old, but I suspect it will.

6. I wake up super early

They say you don't know how a warm weather climate will affect you until you live in a truly warm weather climate. They are right. Its greatest affect on me is that I cannot sleep past 8:30AM, 9AM on weekends. You open your eyes on any given day at 7:30AM and it's sunny. If you're like me, this makes you feel instantly guilty about closing your eyes and wasting a gorgeous, warm day. Breakfast starts at 9AM here, even on weekends. The best hiking/walking/running/driving happens before noon. This city just supports that whole "early bird catches the worm" thing.        

7. I have no sense of what is "far away" anymore

Everything in my former life is far from L.A. so a five hour plane ride no longer phases me. In April we are going to New York for three days. I said, "oh that's a nice, long weekend," when we decided on the date. This will get old eventually, but hopefully by then I'll be able to afford First Class.  

8. I know how to do my hair

This one is vein, but truer than all the rest. Everyone here does their hair. Not, like, washes it and dries it. They make it look really nice using a tool I've come to worship called the curling wand. Now I too do my hair all wavy and nice, and I love it. I don't care how shallow this sounds. It is relaxing and fun to do your hair. I love how it looks when I'm done. I can't believe it took me 27 years to buy a curling iron, and learn how to use it. I am a convert, and it feels good.
 
9. I have lost sight of some elements of normal, American life

I can't say that I was being fully educated on everyday America during my years spent in the West Village, but the process has continued here, in earnest. Here most gay couples have children. Here many couples of all kinds have children before they're married, if they ever get married. Some people are bi-coastal, other people are tri-coastal, and then I know a few people who don't technically live anywhere. Half of my friends are pushing 30 and still en route to pursuing the career of their dreams. People go to Palm Springs, Vegas, Santa Barbara, Big Bear and San Diego like it's the mall in the next town over. This is a weird place, to most of the world, but it it's becoming less and less weird to me. I like to think it's opened my mind to myriad lifestyles, most of which I will not ultimately choose, but many more of which I now understand and respect.

There more, like I wear tons of color and way less structured clothes now or I aspire to live in a quiet neighborhood vs. a bustling city street but those all feel superficial. Then there are things like, I spend far less money than I used to and I care way less about what people think, but those feel like coming-of-age, not L.A. specific effects.

All in all, I think I'm fairly close to the same person that moved out here 2.5 years ago. Though, I'd venture to say I'm smarter on account of the hours a day I spend listening to NPR on my car radio (the only thing that keeps me calm in traffic), but that's assuming anything I hear is actually being processed.

What say you, fellow L.A. imports?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

20 Truths About Working From Home


I am coming upon my third full month as a full-time, at-home employee of myself. Here is what I've learned:

1. There is no greater accomplishment in life than getting out of bed early/on time for absolutely no reason. I know. I did it once about two months ago, and I'm still living off the glory.

2. The difference between a totally productive and miserably unproductive day is often a morning shower. Wait until noon, and you're somehow screwed for the entire day.

3. If you wear a hard sole slipper throughout the day you will feel like you're wearing an actual shoe, which will make you feel like you're at an actual job, and as a result, you'll procrastinate 10% less.

4. The law of diminishing return applies to the amount of coffee you consume in the morning, and it starts at anything over a pot.

5. Having Pandora streaming through your TV via your BlueRay player is arguably more important than any of the above facts. 

6. A Paul Simon base with added variety of The Xx, Cat Power, Van Morrison, and Etta James is the world's greatest Pandora station. If you're not going to make that exact station, don't bother with item #5, and frankly, considering getting a real job.

7. Clementines are a must. Keep them on hand at all times. They serve as a surprisingly filling snack, and you can eat as many as you want.

8. Avocados are also a must. Same deal, except you should probably only eat one per day. I'm working on cutting back to that number...

9. If someone knocks on your door during the day you must say, "who is it?" before opening the door. This is very basic but none the less important.

10. You need to allow yourself a few breaks throughout the day in order to stay sane. I like to take mine in 30 minute chunks during which I either watch House Hunters, read something Nora Ephron wrote, or re-do my hair.  If you're thinking, "it takes 30 minutes to re-do your hair??" then you've obviously never met my hair.

11. It's true that the outfit doesn't change the man, and yet it's somehow also true that if the (wo)man changes her outfit several times throughout the day, her writing is much better. I believe the diminishing return number here is four outfits, but I'm still experimenting.

12. It's cool if you forget to brush your teeth in the morning. Just brush them double hard that night.

13. If your boyfriend calls you in the middle of the day to ask what you're up to always say you're working. I mean, chances are you are working, but if you - say - took a break to re-shape your eyebrows...for the third time, you can leave that out. 

14. The less you simulate an actual work day, the less actual work you will do. Sticking to a schedule is your savior. 

15. Working out at some point during the day is probably an excellent way to stay energized and feel healthy. I can't say for sure because I don't do it regularly, but that's only because I am very busy all the time, and it's really hard to concentrate on House Hunters if you're doing crunches.

16. You can no longer screen the calls of family members. They know you're home. They will call back 30 seconds later.

17. The whole point of working from home is that you can talk to yourself at whatever volume you chose throughout the day. If you're not taking advantage of this then I'm concerned about your real motives.

18. Even if you don't really care about the news, reading some form of it every morning will make you feel good/empowered/important/like less of a waste of space. I recommend The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet, but that's just because I'm too cheap to pay for the Times. 

19. There is no such thing as a quick trip over to The Nordstrom Rack for some exercise. 

And finally...

20. If you don't set a rule about what time is acceptable to start your own personal Happy Hour, you won't follow it...

What did I forget, fellow freelancers? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My GIRLS Mea Culpa...Sort of






A brief oral history of my relationship with GIRLS:

  • Last year I tore the first three episodes of this now Golden Globe-winning "comedy" a new one.
  • This year R finally got me to watch the last four episodes, and I mostly liked them.
  • Last week I had the below conversation with Geanna.
  • Two nights ago R and I watched the first two episodes of this season, and I wanted to take back everything I said to Geanna. The show seems to be back to its slow, meandering approach featuring "stories" that just end with people yelling annoying things back and forth.
  • Today I am posting the below thoughts because I did say and believe those things.
  • Next week I will watch GIRLS again. If I enjoy it more than this week, I'll keep watching. If I don't, I'm giving up again...until R wears me down a week before Season 3 airs...

12:45 PM me: happy thursday!
   I missed your call, but here I am!
 Geanna: and to you!!!
  did you get my message????
 me: I didn't - my iphone is being weird
  is someone else engaged??
 Geanna: holy shit
  no
  it's even better
12:46 PM and more earth shattering
 me: what could be??
 Geanna: I WATCHED GIRLS
 me:
OH...
  guess what...
  so did I...
 Geanna: AND I LIKED IT
 me: I watched all the episodes I didn't watch
  AND I SORT OF LIKED IT TOO
 Geanna: i LAUGHED OUT LOUD
 me: me too...
  I was really upset about it at first
12:47 PM I didn't even tell anyone
  obviously
12:48 PM Geanna: i called you first, obviously
12:49 PM and then i felt like i needed to tell everyone because i have never been so wrong about something before
 me: well, let's calm down for a moment here
  we weren't WRONG
  the first few episodes had some miserable moments
  it was trying SO hard
  then, in my opinion, they calmed down and got more real
12:50 PM Geanna: yeah i mean i think introducing all of the characters makes it seem like way too much
  but they kind of ease into it
 me: insider info: this corresponded with the arrival of a proper show runner, but that's just me being a bitch about Lena Dunham's ability to run a show at 20-whatever
12:51 PM Geanna: ahhhhh interesting!
  anyway, im still in shock that I enjoyed it
 me: same
 Geanna: the episode where they go to the party was hilarious
 me: I thought some important things were discussed, and bravely
12:52 PM that was my turning point too
  uugghh and R said it would be
  and I was like, nope, sorry, never watching it
 Geanna: HAHAHAHA
 me: I haven't seen this season's premiere yet
 Geanna: me neither
12:53 PM me: I haven't heard much about it
 Geanna: mariel saw it, she said nothing really happened
 me: so maybe they're back to their old tricks
 Geanna: we shall see
 me: I mean, it's still FAR from my NY experience
  but it got less annoying about itself
12:54 PM we can only hope that it keeps it up
12:55 PM because obviously we are a critical mass of their viewing audience
 Geanna: the things that were completely horrible to me:
  when that girl goes into the bathroom and HAS TO masturbate?!
  are you kidding me?!
 me: ugh, right
  that was annoying
 Geanna: and also i dont get how adam just suddenly falls in love with hannah
 me: also that guy who was like, "you're going to have sex with me."
 Geanna: yeah, gross
 me: that's also a fair point
12:56 PM Geanna: like all of a sudden he wants to be her bf
 me: we're supposed to believe he has "issues"
  apparently all of that was intentional
  a "slow burn" on the character, as we assholes here in LA say
 Geanna: oh please
12:57 PM me: it is weird, but it is now weird and less offensive to me
  before it was weird and offensive to women with brains
  and men too, especially that sad sack Charlie character
 Geanna: well, people like him exist in the world
 me: yeah, that's true
12:58 PM so do people like all the other characters too, I guess
 Geanna: yep
  i hate charlie's friend
 me: I think I met some of them in my travels around New York
  and decided not to be friends with them
  see even he is growing on me
  he's SO real
  I knew version of him
  they all worked at the Tribeca Film Festival
12:59 PM Geanna: oh lord
 me: anyway, I'm proud of us
  but I'm still going to try not to talk about this a lot
1:00 PM Geanna: HHAHAHAHAHA
 me: and I still maintain that I was right about the beginning of the season
 Geanna: that is fair
  i also really enjoy the shoshanna girl, but only because she was on mad men and a completely different character
  i respect her as an actor
1:01 PM me: I might end up posting this conversation to the blog though
 Geanna: hehehe okay :)
 me: as my passive aggressive apology
 Geanna: i like being on the blog!
1:02 PM even colin liked it
  it was just crazy all around
1:05 PM me: it really is...
  hm, that's a coincidence, not an irony
  so tough those two...
 Geanna: yeah, i couldnt define irony if you asked me to
1:09 PM me: alright - back work with me
  I'm really glad we had this conversation
  I feel a lot better
 Geanna: me too!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I'm (Finally) Sick of Talking About Hook-up Culture Destorying Real Dating


There was a period of time when Katie and I were planning on writing a whole book about hook up culture. It was going to be feature our honest opinions about the state of romantic affairs. We were living in a time when all bets were off - no one texted what they meant, no one asked you out in person, and no one wanted to be the first to ask if all this nothing was...a relationship?. We had major plans for this extremely important book. It was going to have a bright pink cover, but like a deep pink to suggest maturity. 

We never got around to writing the book, so I started this blog instead. For the first few years I filled it with post after post about the rules of modern courtship (if there were any), how we were supposed to decode the male text message (if we ever got any), and what all this meant for the future of our love lives (which seemed pretty unlikely at the time).

I am now pushing 30 and living with a boyfriend. I have survived all the bullshit of this "age without courtship." I know first hand that articles like the most recent Sunday Styles section piece - The End of Courtship? - are mostly true. And so - somehow and finally - my reaction to this latest exploration of our troubled romantic 20s is shut up and do something about it. 

I get that New York Times writers are not in the business of playing guidance counselor, but if I read another quote from a 25-year-old about how sad she was when, "a cycle of weekly hookups, invariably preceded by a Thursday night text message from him saying, ‘hey babe, what are you up to this weekend?' petered out after several months," I'm going to lose my mind. Why is no one asking the obvious follow-up: did you really think that behavior was leading toward a healthy relationship? If so, why? If not, why did you keep doing it?  

I've asked it, and the answer is usually, "because that's the way things are." I get that. 25-year-old me would have said the same thing, and she would have been short-sighted and wrong too. That is not the way things are everywhere, with every person. And even if it is, that doesn't mean you have to participate.

If you want to play the game, have at it. The non-rules of dating, sex and relationship make it so that you can experiment in any way you see fit. Maybe that's a good thing for you. If so, I'm not judging. Where I take issue is with the people who do not want to play the game, hate the game, hate the players and can't seem to stop playing. Yes, that immaturity is all just a part of growing up, but from the outside looking back over, growing up is often something you choose.

I get equally heated when I read quotes like this:  “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.” 


You know who doesn't have to deal with all that crazy, cold war spy-style interpreting? People who don't participate in text detective games; people who say I'd rather be sex-deprived and single than put up with this crap. I played detective a few times, and it sucked. I was single and sex-deprived for awhile too, and it made me realize what a huge waste of time all the detective work had been. I wanted a real relationship with a real person. If 20-something Manhattan men weren't game then I'd go to Plan B, not kowtow to their Plan A.  I didn't want to play the victim in a game I controlled.

Which brings me to this problem: “In Sunday’s opener for Season 2, Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver), who last season forged a relationship by texting each other nude photos, are shown lying in bed, debating whether being each other’s “main hang” constitutes actual dating.” 

Yes! It does! Sleeping with and hanging out with a member of the opposite sex exclusively (or, frankly, otherwise) for a period of time longer than a few weeks means you're actually dating. Isn't that what you wanted?? Stop talking about whether or not "it" is "it" and enjoy! You are in a relationship. This is good. Yes, you may have to break up, and that will be hard, but tough shit. You don't get all the amazing benefits of a relationship and skirt all the potential rough stuff. This is real life people!

But - see - we former and you current 20-something don't often want real life. We want the life we see in other people's Instagrams and read on their hysterical tumblr pages. We're well aware that if we just skim the surface of all things romantic we'll still get a non-date to meet us out at the bar or hook up with us if we text "yo." Why would we do what all those old-fashioned idiots did if we don't need to? That stuff was hard. People got their feelings hurt, like, in person. We've evolved way beyond that.

" The problem is that “young people today don’t know how to get out of hookup culture,” Ms. Freitas said. In interviews with students, many graduating seniors did not know the first thing about the basic mechanics of a traditional date."

That did get to be a problem for me. Or maybe I just got sick of behaving in a way that didn't feel natural...or safe...or real? I can't remember, but at some point I woke up and thought, I do not need this. I also don't want this. And if I don't need it or want it, I don't have to have it. 

When we hit that point and where we go from there happens on a case by case basis. I was 27, and I met a guy who called me on the phone for weeks before he ever even sent me a text. At first I thought he was coming on too strong. Then I smacked myself in the face and re-read all those miserable posts I'd written about the end of courtship.

I think the point of my rant is that yes, it's rough out there. Technology has it made it really easy to be an asshole, and that goes for both guys and girls. The experimental sexual nature of our times (which can be a good thing) means is not required for intimacy. People are comfortable settling down much later, which makes them uncomfortable dating seriously before then. These are facts, and you can read all about them in this recent New York Times piece and the dozens before. What you won't read is an article about what the hell to do about it. I'm not saying that I know, but I am saying that accepting it is not the answer. 

There has just got to be a way for us to be modern and still respectful. And I think a huge part of that is going to have to come from being modern but still demanding that respect.  


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to respond to being asked when the hell you're going to get engaged



If you happen to find yourself both above the age of 27 and in a relationship for any more than 12 months, you best be prepared to answer the question that's no doubt coming your way from every corner of your world: so...when are you two getting engaged??*

It's a curious question for more reasons that one.

First of all, female people don't typically know when they are going to get engaged. Historically it has been the job of the male to bring engagement upon the female by surprise. A quick Google search of the terms "Surprise Proposal + YouTube" will show you just how serious the modern male has become about that element of surprise (it would appear that they invented a whole dance style called the Dub Step for this purpose alone). Thus asking a female when she's going to get engaged is somewhat akin to asking a recent college grad when they're going to get a job already. They don't know. They're not the ones giving out the jobs.

Secondly, the people asking don't really want the answer. Well then why are they asking? you might wonder. I'm not entirely sure, but I guarantee it would go down like the following if you had a legitimate response:
  • Nosey: Soooo, when are you two going to get engaged??
  • You: Next Sunday. We decided he'd ask in the living room after we watch Downtown Abbey because we're sooo Matthew and Mary, minus the whole cousins thing. 
  • Nosey: Oh... Wow.... So you guys decided together?
  • You: Yeah. 
  • Nosey: He didn't want to make it a surprise?
  • You: Well he did, but I was all, what am I going to tell people when they ask me when we're going to get engaged??
  • Nosey: Oh. Well. Good luck?
  • You: Thanks, but we don't really need it. I've already tried the ring on to make sure it fits, and he's been practicing going down on one knee from the sitting position on our sofa.
See what I mean?

That said, logic is not about to stop these most curious of folks, so it is in your best interest to be prepared with a response. Here, in my opinion, are your options:
  • The Sensible: (Blushes) "Oh...I don't know. I have a feeling it's coming some time soon, but I really want to be surprised!"
  • The Snarky: "I don't know. Why don't you ask the guy who'll be doing it and get back to me!" 
  • The PC: "Why do you assume that we're planning on getting married? We could be perfectly comfortable with a life as domestic partners in love just like our idols, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn." 
  • The Last Time They'll Ask: "You know, I'm so glad you asked. I've been having a lot of doubts about our relationship, but I think he's going to ask soon, and so I really need someone to help me figure out exactly when so I know how much time I have to decide whether or not to make a run for it. No one but you has shown any interest in the future of our relationship, so do you think you could help me? I'm really desperate here."
  • The Reality: "I don't really know, and it's sort of driving me insane. I mean what am I supposed to do? Get my nails done every fifth day until it happens?? I don't have the "treat yo-self" budget for that!! Also please know that I told myself I'd take the high road when it came to answering this question, but that was before I realized how wildly awkward it is to answer. Sorry."
This is all in good fun, of course. It's ridiculous to be cranky about the fact that your life may someday soon take an incredibly exciting turn. It's about the person you love, not all the proposal hype. You know that all these people just want to check in on your feelings around that incredibly special moment you're about to experience.

Plus, this beats "so when are you guys going to pop out some kids" any day of the week. Stay-tuned for that post. It'll arrive approximately three to five years from this post...assuming certain things happen within the next two years, which, as discussed, I have no idea whether or not they will ;)
*Please disregard this post if you are my sister, aunt, cousin, BC girl, gay best friend, or future female family member. You guys get one free pass each. After that, be prepared for some variety of The Snarky ;) 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reaction to the lateset New Yorker piece about 20-somethings


It's time once again for a long, reference-filled article about the state of the modern 20-something. This time the writer waxing poetic on an age bracket I'm pretty sure he's grown beyond is Nathan Heller with his piece Semi-Charmed Life: the twentysomethings are all right.

As you know, I approach these attempts to understand "my generation" with a groan. Doesn't the New Yorker have something better to do than tell us we're weirder than any generation prior? What's the never-ending fascination? Please, just leave us alone! In fact, here are the four nearly identical posts I've written over the years to that exact same effect:

But now I'm 29.damn-near-five. I've essentially lived through my twenties. I am far more concerned with an article about surviving your 30-something milestones. So this time I found myself reacting to the major points of the article through a different lens than my 25 or even 27-year-old selves. And here's the craziest part of all - I was thrilled about that perspective. I've never been calmer reading one of these generally annoying articles. This felt very strange.

Here are a few chunks of this new piece, which you should read in its entirety, if you feel like it (27-year-old me would have demanded you read it immediately). Below each chunk is how I would have reacted at 25/26/27, and how I reacted today.


1. "...the twenties look different depending on how far you are from them. That difference in perspective—you want what you think older people have, and vice versa"

  • 25/26/27-year-old me: I don't want what I think older people have; I want the here and now. Focusing too much on the future only leaves us wondering how we let the present pass us by!
  • 29-year-old me: What does a happy, successful 35-year-old look like, and how can I make sure I do whatever I need to do to get it? I'll start now! I'll start yesterday! I had marginally important dinner plans tonight, but if it's smarter for me to stay home and talk to my boyfriend about our 401K plans, I'll do that instead. I've already been to this restaurant twice. 
2. "their lives are not what they had hoped. Their grinding work in college has failed to produce a decent job. Their confidence is at its nadir. They are having too much hapless sex, or not enough, or maybe the wrong kind. And what if they never get married? In an earlier guide, “20 Something Manifesto: Quarter-Lifers Speak Out About Who They Are, What They Want, and How to Get It,” Christine Hassler refers to this feeling as the Expectation Hangover™."

  •  25/26/27-year-old me: Yes! Yes that is what we're feeling. We were wronged by the optimistic system, and now we're living in a world of ugh with no way out. Also, these expectations are not our fault, obvs.
  • 29-year-old me: Oof, yes, some of that reality was rough. I thought I'd make more money faster. I thought things would cost less, specifically housing. I also thought it would be easier to take grandiose risks like spending six months in Europe. But I fought back, and I think I got stronger as a result. Would I have preferred to sell a novel at 23 and live off the profits for the rest of my 20s while I traveled Europe in a series of wild hair cuts? Yes. Did I have anything to write a novel about at 23, or any agency to get it published? No. No I did not, and that's a reality I don't have time to be annoyed about anymore.  
3. "We don’t become what we don’t hear and see and do every day. In neuroscience, this is known as ‘survival of the busiest.’ ” In other words, it’s good to be mulling knotty problems at your desk, bad to be doing lots of nothing on the beach. Jay’s treatment doesn’t quell the general anxieties of twentysomethings; it channels them."

  • 25/26/27-year-old me: But if I wasn't so busy engaged in the meaningless marketing crap I do to pay my student loans and outrageous NYC rent I could spend time thinking on the beach in an effort to ultimately create something great!
  • 29-year-old me: I have been most productive in my life when I have been the busiest. This is now a proven fact. I don't always like it, but it is a fact. 
4. "And average college debt, adjusted for inflation, has tripled since the late nineteen-eighties. (It’s still growing.) In the face of these and other shifts, the voices of previous experience seem questionable. It is not clear that the grownups know what’s really going on"Samantha Henig points out that Ally McBeal, the late-nineties TV paragon of desperate singledom, was supposed to be twenty-seven when the show began—a freak-out timeline that already seems quaint for an urban professional. (The current version of that character, Liz Lemon of “30 Rock,” is a decade older.) There’s no shame now in being a twentysomething without imminent family plans, and there may even be extra power. A study has found that women’s salaries at this stage of life increase by a fixed percentage each year they don’t have children. One researcher reports that, on average, putting off having kids for ten years doubles a young woman’s lifetime earnings."

  • 25/26/27-year-old me: Amen! I refuse to throw even my late 20s away by settling down and starting a family when I have plenty of time to do that in my 30s.
  • 29-year-old me: Perhaps I still have "plenty of time" to get engaged, married and pregnant, but that doesn't mean I should use all that time for the sake of stubborn independence. There are benefits to planning for a marriage and family earlier than your 30s, just as there are benefits to enjoying every moment of your 20s as a time of self versus family exploration. Perspective child, perspective. 
5. "As Henig mère puts it, “Choice overload . . . makes people worry about later regretting the choice they make (If there are twelve things I could do tonight, any one of them might end up being more fun than the one I choose); sets them up for higher expectations (If I choose this party out of those twelve things, it had damn well better be fun); makes them think about the road not taken (Every party not attended could contain someone I wish I’d met); and leads to self-blame if the outcome is bad.”

  • 25/26/27-year-old me: This rings very true to my experience and that of my peers. Never before have we been so aware of what the various "Jones's" are doing. It's on their Twitter feed, Facebook page, and Tumblr blog. How am I supposed to decide when I now know every option available?
  • 29-year-old me: This still rings very true to my experience and that of my peers. But today I want to choose. I'm less overwhelmed by the idea of too many choices because I want to take concrete steps toward the future. I know more, frankly. I've chosen things that have and have not worked. I now know that having a choice is important, but knowing how to finally hunker down and make one is perhaps more important overall. All of that said, the Internet is still a huge pain in the ass, from the "Jones's" perspective. 
There's my long-winded, two-brained round up. What's your perspective? And at what age are you registering the thoughts?

Also - shout out to Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig (included in this article) whose new book Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? is now available. I helped out in their research process and am psyched to read the results. Congrats ladies!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Resolutions 2.Oh...


Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and a very Happy-The-Mayans-Were-Wrong to you all.  I took a nice, long break over the past three weeks to visit with family and friends on the East Coast, but now I'm back in L.A. action with my new year's resolutions in tow.

I, like many over-achieving over-planners with a mild to medium case of OCD LOVE New Year's resolutions. When I was a little girl, we used to write them down and place them in a sealed envelope to be read on the following NYE. I loved that act of cataloging our intentions for the eventual judgement day. It really appealed to my love of shame-based self motivation!

Several years ago I retired the archaic paper and envelope method for the much more public blog post format. Higher stakes only increased my fear of failure thus increasing my motivation to succeed!

This year there a kink popped up in my generally solid "to do" plans...though, I think he'd prefer to think of himself as a welcome addition...

R wanted us to come up with our resolutions together. He suggested this to me while driving up the Taconic en route to his family's country house in New York. It is a gorgeous drive to a gorgeous place. We were in great spirits after a fun morning spent playing this game with his two-year-old niece where you stuff dominoes down your shirt, laugh like Santa, then spill them all out on the floor and laugh your pants off. The smooth sounds of Simon and Garfunkle played over the radio. He knew just the moment to strike.

Talking about my personal resolutions wasn't the issue.  I willingly shared the list of intentions - to learn one song on the guitar; to start a light running routine; to Skype more often with my family; to complete a new play recapping the past years of 20-Nothings topics - and welcomed R's compliments on their high likelihood of completion. I believe them to be among my finest resolutions to date, I told him, and he agreed. (Note: I purposefully leave off "lose the winter weight" every single year because it's just a given at this point.)

R shared his, which were equally lovely but shall not be published here because one of us should maintain some sense of privacy.

And then he hit me with it.
  • Him: Now, you're not going to like this, but what if we each offer a resolution for the other person?
  • Me: A. You're right, I don't.
  • Him: It would just be something simple we'd like the other person to work on. Nice things.
  • Me: Did you intentionally wait you had me trapped in a moving vehicle to broach this subject?
He did not respond.

My immediate reaction was extreme nervousness expressed as defensive anger: why do we need to do that? are you suggesting something is wrong? if something if wrong perhaps you shouldn't have waited until now to bring it up?? And how 'bout you take these exit ramps with a liiiittle less gusto, huh?!?

But as Simon and/or Garfunkle crooned the last words of Homeward Bound, I came to my senses (read: remembered I'm almost 30).

Why not open up the conversation about self improvement to the person with whom I spend 95% of my self? So what if it gets a little too...direct? A little too...honest? If I can't handle this guy I've chosen to live with offering a simple piece of advice about the way I live, what business do I have in this relationship? (These are things I said out loud to R after a few minutes of painfully awkward silence, just to be clear).

Much to my surprise, R didn't make his resolution be for me to stop talking out every decision I make through a series of rhetorical questions, so I decided I'd forgo making mine be for him to stop suggesting I do things that he knows I'm not going to like. Instead we each picked things that the other has certainly heard before and appreciates...even if it's a tad deeper down.

It's just too bad there wasn't a pen and paper in the car to write either of them down...and that it would be far too revealing to post them here online. I guess without any proper third party proof of what each of us said, we'll just have to hope for the best ;)