The Dilemma.

Hearts floating away.

Setting sun and hearts and hearts

I had a revelation this week while reading the first few entries in this blog and marvelling that I haven’t given posting up yet. Not that my intentions aren’t in the right place, it just took me 2 years to learn Twitter and 3 to learn Instagram, so I assumed I’d need at least till I was 30 for a good blog. But I digress.

Every relationship in ours lives, whether romantic, friendly, professional or the special, special bond we as humans have with Nutella, teaches us lessons. Through all of those relationships, I’ve learned how to act and how not to act in social settings, how to react to stinging comments with a shred of grace and how to hurl insults like weapons, hell-bent on maximum destruction. And yet, in such a space like this, where I share the results of my vast experience with Poor Decision Making, it’s easy to skip the lessons I may have taught others to focus on my own journey. I’ve been trying to find a way to write this post to emphasize that there are always two sides to a story, and always so many lessons to learn, but I’ve hit a dilemma that I’m having a problem overcoming.

Translation: I don’t want to paint myself as the victim of my last relationship. I made plenty of mistakes too. 

I’ve written, and rewritten, and read over and deleted, all of these words, trying to find the right way to show that this may be my space, but I won’t pretend I’m perfect. I tried giving a history of how that relationship shaped me, in ways both good and bad. Rifling through those memories ended up being a bit too much, both in the amount of words needed to explain my questionable actions and decisions; and in what content I was actually comfortable sharing. I tried refraining from telling the parts of the story that directly involved him, focusing only on my actions and motivations, but there’s no point in sharing “I was acting like a spoiled child, demanding attention, sulking when I wasn’t his sole focus” if I can’t tell you why we were fighting, or how that silly fight he definitely doesn’t remember helped me to be a better girlfriend. I’ve tried, and tried, and tried, but the words I find are all too invasive, too personal, too much.

Sometimes, I forget that my stories and my lessons aren’t mine alone. I share them with someone, who, despite likely not reading or even caring about this blog, doesn’t have the chance to tell me “no, don’t share that” or “I’d rather keep that private.” I also don’t want friends, strangers, internet people, anyone, thinking that I’m this hapless female, driven wild by a relationship where I did Everything Right and he is Wrong and I saved everything by walking away. The best I can do is to say that we all make mistakes, and we all move on, or hope to at least.

I suppose this is a silly post, and possibly didn’t need to be uploaded. But if nothing else, playing fair is one of the most important lessons we’ve ever learned, any of us. It didn’t feel fair to continue writing words for anyone without considering a particular someone.

Why getting a cat was the best and worst decision of my 20s

I am the proud owner of 6.5lbs of pure, cuddly evil. She snuggles like a champ and has a tendency to sit on your head and bite your hand as you try to move her away, knocks over anything valuable or breakable to get attention, and has a pretty dead-on BRF (ed note: bitchy resting face). Ah, cats. My little miss has been with me since I was in my very first NYC apartment, a decrepit 2-bedroom on the Upper East Side, where $825/month got me: no living room, the adjacent wall to two Russian women who loved to yell, and a bathroom that could only be accessed through my room. I barely had enough space for a full-sized bed, let alone a pet, but I had this vision of a snuggly, sweet cat that would be photogenic enough to make me Internet-famous for a few minutes and would love me forever.

dude srsly?

dude srsly?

Alas, the mild-tempered feline fantasy was shattered pretty quickly after taking little miss home back in March 2011. She’s skiddish, rude, generally hates anyone that isn’t me and pretty much hates me too. She’s also loyal, funny, energetic and completely devoted to me. She’s like a grumpy roommate who’s desperate for attention but hates all my friends. And yet, if I had the chance to go back to the shelter on that cold March day and choose again, I’d pick her every time.

There are, however, a few things I wish I’d considered first:

  • Everyone is allergic to cats. Everyone. Oh, your friend says they’re not allergic so they can come over? Nope, give it 3 minutes and their eyes will be watering and you’ll feel like an asshole, especially when the cat responds to their obvious discomfort by swatting their exposed skin with her razor-sharp claws.
  • Have you ever heard anyone say “I really enjoy cleaning the litterbox”?
  • People will call you a “cat person” like it’s an insult. First, it’s not an insult, cats are adorable and I’m all about it. But in reality, I’m an equal opportunity pet owner. Love cats, dogs, hamsters, fish, fennec foxes, you name it (except frogs, frogs are awful). Plus, if the most distinguishing feature about me is the fact that I own a cat, then I need to do some serious soul-searching.
  • Do you really like that sweater? Old wicker trunk? Glass object you keep on the edge of your tall dresser? Good, so does your cat and she’s going to destroy them to show you how much.
  • Hairballs. I won’t elaborate.

Hindsight. But with all of that, I also come home every night to this little bundle of energy that’s been waiting for me all day. She’s a great excuse when I’m trying to dodge a creeper at a bar (“Nope, can’t keep talking to you, gotta get home and take care of the cat.” Inevitable response: see first bullet above). She likes to meow at me when I sneeze and thinks its fun to sleep on the TV stand. She eschews people food in favor of cardboard, tape and stiff plastic and she figured out a few months ago that if she sleeps next to me when I’ve had a bad night, she’ll get extra attention and love in the morning for making me feel like I’m never really alone.

The most informed decision of my early 20s? Not even close. But a good reminder that sometimes the bad decisions turn out alright in the end.

 

I wear leggings as pants (and other things I’m not ashamed of)

The most difficult decision I had to make last week was whether I could wear leggings to the new job. I’ve done it at my previous jobs, but both of my start dates were in early fall/pre-leggings weather, so I could feel out the dress code a bit before diving in with these comfy SOBs. But starting a new job smack dab in the middle of nothing-else-fits-in-snow-boots weather means I had to make a decision: chance it, or wait till next week?

Leggings as pants is largely considered a fashion “don’t,” for reasons I can’t understand. Okay, they’re not appropriate in all situations, and there will always be people who wear them in uncomfortably small sizes, but I practically live in them from December to March. Leggings are easy, warm, I can wear them to work, then out, then sleeping and do you KNOW how much you can comfortably eat in these things? It’s a lot. Can’t do that in jeans. I could apologize, or make excuses for why I’m in leggings, or try to do anything else to apologize for my fashion choice, but honestly? I’m not sorry. Consider me a fashion PLD, because I’m never going to stop.

In the end, I decided to wear what I felt was right given my 3-day experience at this new place. This internal debate did start gears turning in my head though, and I started thinking about everything else I’ve stopped apologizing for lately. Since I’m on a roll with lists lately, let’s keep it going! Find out what else I’ve stopped saying “SORRY” for after the jump.

Continue reading

First day of school!

Waking up on Tuesday, I thought I’d have knots in my stomach for hours. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to eat, I’d change clothes six times, I’d miss the subway and show up late, and then find out the past 3 weeks had been a dream. It was like the first day of school times adulthood, watching the minutes tick, tick away till it was time to start my Shiny New Job.

At times, it feels like there are very few things to get excited about in adult lives. We work, exercise, complain about getting older, drink, eat, sleep, repeat. There’s a beauty in the monotony, a familiar feeling on Monday that in the grand scheme of the coming week, we know what to expect. There can also be a complacence, a certain “This is how things are and will be” feeling in waking up to the same job, same days, all over again. For a really long time, I was content with the monotony, an understanding with myself that this was life as an adult: wake up, go to a job you like but don’t love, text the boyfriend who thinks you’re a burden, go back to the apartment you can’t fall in love with because it’s supposed to be temporary, eat dinner, sleep, repeat. It was a content life, and happy most of the time, which was, in a word, fine.

Life shouldn’t settle for “fine.” I’m in my mid-twenties, in an amazing city, surrounded by brilliant, driven, competitive, insightful people who came here to chase a dream, an idea, a goal. Who am I to allow myself to settle with feeling “fine”? How can you be content with a routine in the city that never sleeps? It was the break-up that started shaking that routine for me, like a crack in a concrete wall: CRACK now you need to learn how to be on your own for real, CRACK now you need to make your apartment look like home, CRRRRACK now you need to start taking care of yourself. Bits and pieces of this wall of monotony I’d built for myself in the past few years started falling everywhere and all at once, a wave of changes, one, another, another.

You were thinking it.

You were thinking it.

Change is scary, and hard, and no one really enjoys starting over. Walking into day three of the new job though, I’ve never felt more content in my choices and changes in the past few months. Looking back to this time last year, six months ago, even up to the breakup, its near surreal that I could have had this self-fulfillment, contentedness, whatever you want to call it; and yet I settled for “fine.”

I loved my life before – I loved the beautiful monotony: the understanding of what to expect as the days, weeks, months went by; the feeling that someone loved me, really loved me; the fact that I had a wonderful job, surrounded by wonderful people. But I wouldn’t change what’s happening for me now for anything: the understanding that I can’t control my surroundings and that’s exciting; the feeling that I can find love and peace within myself instead of needing another person; and the fact that I have a new job, which is challenging, and scary, and exactly what I need.

100 minutes

This year for Valentine’s Day, my fellow singleton R and I had planned on having an epic celebration of Us, starting with bad takeout and beer and followed by a night of cocktails, dancing and very likely a few questionable decisions, all in the name of love. Sadly, fate and the near-constant exposure to stranger-germs stepped in to ruin the fun, in the form of strep throat for me. Not wanting to prolong an illness, since I start the new job this week, I had to trade cocktails for clindamycin, and decided instead to venture out of the city to my hometown for a few days, a Valentine’s vacation rather than Galentine’s night out. I’m fortunate enough that my trip home is a simple trek through suburbia via train, a perfect time to stick in some headphones and have just about 100 minutes of blissful, uninterrupted me time.

Not a bad view.

Not a bad view.

This ride was particularly enjoyable, as I have absolutely no work-related responsibilities to occupy my anxieties and the suburbs were beautiful, a cliche New England winter postcard, covered in snow untouched by New York cynicism and dirt. My “Uplifting” playlist on Spotify, a mix of my favorite happy songs, provided a wonderful soundtrack to this ride, allowing me to lose myself in the music and my own thoughts, as they raced from love, to new shoes, New Haven style pizza, heartbreak, new beginnings and back to love.

I love the moments to myself where I have nothing to do but think, think, think. Thinking about the future, from where I’d take my mama for her birthday dinner this weekend to where I’ll be this time next year, waiting for flowers from a special person or going for Galentine’s take two. Thinking about the now, where I’d managed to snag a clutch seat on this train, right underneath the heater on a freezing, sunny winter day. Thinking about the past, like how much I enjoyed the thunder-snow last week and how this is the first year we wouldn’t be going to “our” V-day restaurant, sharing lobster cocktail and the hazelnut ice cream tower, all laughing and drinking and love. These moments to focus completely on my imagination feel so rare, unsullied by interjections from work and calls from the super reminding me he needs to fix my broken shower (again). It’s a simple 100 minutes for just me, something I cherish.

Riding backwards is the downside

Riding backwards is the downside

But then the train whistles, interrupting the last of these thoughts, reminding me to disembark and get back to the present, where my parents and the dog are eagerly awaiting my arrival and I really do need to call the super back. It’s just 100 minutes in the grand scheme of things, after all.

Things left unsaid

There’s a French phrase, l’espirit de l’escalier. Loosely translated, it’s that really annoying feeling when you come up with THE PERFECT COMEBACK just after it’s acceptable to respond with anything other than “eat me.” I have a lot of experience with this phenomenon, but for me, it goes beyond just a witty comeback. We’ve all played conversations in our heads where you have the perfect phrase, perfect insult, perfect compliment, perfect metaphor. We practice how to break bad news, good news, feelings, events, or anything else that requires an actual conversation, rather than a text. Sadly, we’re the only ones inside our own heads, and sometimes the subjects in real life don’t say exactly what they’re supposed to and your great point is moot.

Little blue box FTW

Little blue box, meet little black book

My lovely friend M gave me a small moleskin for Christmas, which I’ve carried around everywhere since. This little notebook I thought I’d barely use (sorry M…) is rapidly filling up with ideas for my apartment, inspirational quotes from songs, people, places, observations about New York I don’t ever want to let go, and sometimes I just doodle, losing myself in pen on page just for the sake of it.

Lately, I’ve started a “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” list of things I wish I’d said when I had the chance, some serious, others silly. Some of these would have been poor decisions to say out loud at the time, others probably would have cleared up a few questions. I’m making a conscious effort to stop dwelling on the past, so I can move forward in all aspects of this crazy life, and as part of that, I want to release these into the world for everyone, rather than just for me. Without further ado, I give you:

I actually meant:

  • Honestly, even if you looked fat, I’m more distracted by your VPL (ed note: visible panty line. There is never an excuse for this)
  • I didn’t bring that check on purpose, I don’t have the money to pay you back right now because I’m 25 and super broke.
  • I’d like a salad and three desserts please.
  • Of course I was embarrassed when I fell on the bar, I still have a bruise on my ass from that.
  • Thanks for the confidence boost. It makes me feel so much better that I’ll “find someone else in two minutes!” instead of taking a few months to get reacquainted with myself.
  • I was gone from my desk for five minutes. Unless you’re actually on fire, it’s absolutely not okay that you left me three voicemails.
  • Bye, thanks again for hosting this! By the way, I’m taking the bottle of wine I brought that we didn’t drink because I paid for it, and you’re the one who called it a night.
  • I can’t come in today, I’ve got an interview for a job I might really like.
  • I cried for a long time after you sent me those cards. I can’t ever thank you enough for those.
  • I’m so glad you still want to be friends. Losing y’all would have made everything infinitely worse.
  • I like you. There I said it. Can you just ask me on a real date already?
  • It still hurts me that you only said “okay” and couldn’t even look me in the eye.
  • I love you.

So let’s hear some of yours. What would be at the top of your l’espirit de l’escalier list?

On what to wear on your last day of work.

I have a lot of clothes. There, I said it. I’d rather go shopping than pretty much anything else. So at times, I find myself in a bit of a pickle trying to put together an outfit for work after a: oversleeping; b: forgetting to pick up laundry; or c: oversleeping. It takes a really long time to rummage through a wardrobe, closet, dresser, under-bed storage, 2 trunks and shoe closet just to realize the shirt you need is under old gym clothes in your hamper. (Aside: “Why do you live in Washington Heights?” just answered itself there. End aside.)

I took an especially long time getting ready this morning. First, I’m sick of this weather. If I have to wear rainboots 5 days a week for the next month, I’ll just start crying for bittersweet memories of the 2013 heat wave. Plus, every time I wear a sweater I end up sweating a LOT on the subway and then I’m just gross in the office all day. It was only Wednesday, so I didn’t want to wear jeans, though I work in a pretty cool environment so no one would have cared. I just ripped my only pair of winter-friendly tights, so a dress is out, and my basically-denim-but-looks-fancier-because-faux-leather-stripe pants were in the aforementioned hamper. I was haphazardly throwing clothing around, mentally running through my catalog of outfits with no decision in site.

I’ve been at my current office for just over a year, after a pretty intense introduction to the industry at my first job. I can’t speak highly enough of the people I’ve worked with at this place, the experiences I’ve had, the experience I’ve gained and my now lasting appreciation of a rooftop mariachi band. And yet here I was, stuck in front of my mirror, half dressed with less than 5 minutes till I was officially running late, and I couldn’t figure out what to wear as I went there for the very last time.

Changes come in waves, either nothing at all or everything at once. For me, the past few months have been a whirlwind of life-changing events, from things as minor as selling my car to the whole “single LB” thing. The final push in turning my life completely upside down came in the form of an out-of-the-blue email from someone asking me if I would be interested in a new job. My initial answer was “no, I’m settled,” but I was in a good mood and didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, so I said “why not.” Why not, it seems, works in my favor.

I finally decided on an over-sized sweater with black leggings, a statement necklace and ankle boots, the perfect mix of “Who cares I’m leaving!” with “I’m trying to impress you all for the last time, because I respect and admire you so much.” Speaking from 4 hours in the future, maybe the ankle boots were a bad idea given that the sidewalks are still covered in ice and dirty snow. Fine they were definitely a bad idea. Perhaps something I’ll have to remember before I start my new adventure next week.

A love letter to heels.

OMIGOD. Shoes.

OMIGOD. Shoes.

“Oh you’re in flats today! Are you sick?”

There’s a running joke in my office that something is wrong if I’m not in heels. My collection of shoes topping 5 inches is almost alarming, as is the comfort with which I can walk around in them. Bragging? Yup. It’s taken me four years not only to be comfortable wearing shoes that have a tendency to squish your toes into numb blobs while simultaneously restricting blood flow to your arch like a straitjacket, but to be comfortable with myself while wearing them. At 5’7″, I’m not a short person necessarily, but strap on a slingback and suddenly I feel like an Amazon, towering over everyone around me as they look up in wonder at this strange creature rumbling the halls.

Heels were a NOPE in college, where I regularly went out in sweatpants, and in my first few months in the city, I couldn’t imagine teetering around the rocky sidewalks in pumps. Even going out, my ex and I were about the same height and I was horribly self-conscious about being taller than him. To his enormous credit, he really didn’t care (and actually in some instances, preferred the heels), but I would become so self-aware that I’d end up in a bad mood, try to “drink the foot pain away” (PLD alert) and then pick a fight with him over something stupid – all because I couldn’t just relax over something as arbitrary as height.

My most important files.

My most important files.

A few months in to city life, I started packing heels with me to wear around the office only, testing the waters of heels without fully committing. A few impulse buys that had been buried in my closet for years started to make their way into the open, and lo and behold, I found myself inadvertently feeling more and more confident. I started wearing heels daily, amassing an impressive collection in what was supposed to be my file cabinet and rotating new shoes daily. As I began moving up professionally, the heels became somewhat like a confidence coach, forcing me to stand up straighter, look people in the eyes and generally assert myself as a tall-ass force to be reckoned with. My feet adjusted to the now constant, dull ache that accompanies essentially standing on tip-toes all day, and I started wearing them outside the office, whether running errands in Bucco booties or dancing on the bar in some killer purple wedges.

One of the first nights I really went out with my girlfriends since entering single life a few months back, I slapped on a pair of my tippy-tall boots, despite knowing I’d be drinking, dancing and likely falling within a few hours of that decision. And yet clomping around the city, even as the bars started to blur, felt great. I felt confident, tall, in-charge and hell yes, I felt sexy. Inevitably we heard Beyonce at one point that night, and I couldn’t help myself for grabbing my girlfriends into screeching along,”BOW DOWN BITCHES,” dancing like everyone was watching. I’ll always hold that moment in those tippy-tall boots, lost in ourselves and the moment of feeling alive.

As I look towards an exciting future, starting a new job and finishing the adjustment to the single life, there’s a lot of uncertainties running on repeat in my mind – will I do well in this new position? Am I really about to start dating? What other changes are in store for me? If nothing else, I know I can hold on to the absolute certainty that wherever this future takes me, I’ll be following that path standing straight in my stilettos, walking confident and very, very tall.

Pride & Prejudice & Hooking Up

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a functioning body must be in want of a single woman, at least for the night.

Rounding out a fantastic weekend of wandering the east side and singing along to Cinderella on Broadway, I dedicated the end of my Saturday night to playing wingman for a friend. We surveyed the people around us at our go-to West Village spot, mentally eliminated anyone already engaged in conversation with the opposite sex, too inebriated to hold themselves up and/or wearing Ed Hardy, and were left with a few interesting prospects. I won’t go into details of our as-yet 100% successful uh… method to making new friends, but it did give me something interesting to ponder on the way home.

Much as I love Jane Austen and still faithfully read Pride & Prejudice at least twice a year, things have changed slightly since her novel of manners was published. I love losing myself in those pages, trying to understand the rules and decorum of a time where “weekends” were a foreign concept and bonnets were still socially acceptable, but let’s be real: husband hunting is not the only goal in life for educated women anymore. While there are the modernized versions of overbearing-mother-matchmaking (looking at you, Christian Mingle), by and large relationships seem to skip the “getting to know you” phase in favor of the fun parts. Only after the fun parts are deemed at least passable on both ends do we ask for important details, like last names and thoughts on Beyonce. I give you: hooking up.

I'm sure that's what Jane meant.

I’m sure that’s what Jane Austen meant.

The same prides and prejudices that led Darcy and Elizabeth to bicker their way into true love haven’t really changed from the eras of “courting someone” to the hook-up culture of our generation. True, you can’t compare a fancy dance at a ball with twerking at Village Tavern, but whether husband-hunting or looking for a friend to “walk you home,” we scan the room and determine: who is “good enough” for me, who isn’t, and why. What if Jane Austen were writing another novel of manners set in today’s day and age? Obviously we’d have to replace the long letters the characters exchange with 140 characters or less, and Darcy would probably work on Wall Street, but if you think about it, the major themes of the book would be fairly similar, save for a few exciting nights out with Lydia and Kitty. Hooking up may kill some part of the mysterious allure of dating, but it also forces people to be more open and honest about things earlier in whatever the relationship is. You’ve already had yourself out there physically, so why not put it all out there emotionally too?

I’m sure Jane Austen is rolling in her grave at the idea that her beautiful novel is in any way related to a culture where a guy from the bar last night thought it was a good idea to grab my waist before asking my name (hope you enjoyed that beer down your pants bro). But our generation just took the concept and gave it a fun spin. Their prides and your prejudices aren’t limited to finding a man for a lifetime. Sometimes it’s fun to work on that skill just for the night.

In defense of texting.

Is texting ruining dating? How you’re killing chances of a meaningful relationship by texting. Why texting is the worst. Why never to use Emojis.

Way back when, in the faraway land of college circa 2006, texting was a somewhat new concept making the rounds in the mobile world. My trusty Motorola flip phone had neither a keyboard, nor T9 (original autocorrect), and sending something as simple as “what’s up” took serious effort. Yet between coordinating mealtimes with my entire orientation group, confirming the exact location of that off-campus party and occasionally something about class, I somehow managed to average 200+ texts per month. And to think, comparatively speaking, I wasn’t even texting that much.

Wise words, Aziz.

Wise words, Aziz.

Fast forward to now, and I really don’t want to know how often I send and receive texts. Between friends, coworkers, family and the “hey-just-heard-you’re-single-let’s-hang-out” former college acquaintances (yup), I’m on the phone a lot without really speaking to anyone. News/interest sites are flooded lately with articles which now pinpoint the demise of human interaction on a romantic level at texting, but I have to respectfully disagree. In fact, I’d prefer people get to know me by text.

As someone completely new to the dating scene, I’m in full support of a medium that allows me to ignore someone, should I choose, or take a few minutes to craft a pithy yet witty response to the classic “sup” opener. (Aside: guys, please type the full “what’s up.” It makes you look smarter and more interested in our response. End aside.) In person, when I’m nervous, I speak quickly. Occasionally I can’t keep up with my own thoughts, so I end up rambling, tripping over my words or laughing maniacally. Sometimes all three at once. The fact that via text, I can ponder my response, write it out, read it back and then revise accordingly, is, well, pretty bitchin’. It’s not that I’m changing my personality while texting vs. in real life; rather, I’m getting the chance to say what nerves generally override with distracting, nervous habits.

There’s also nothing quite like checking your phone to see you have a new message, whether it’s a friend who really needed you to know their roommate accidentally saw them naked at 2am (again), or the guy you met last month who wants to know if you got the new job. Conversations can move in a million different directions, from actual getting-to-know-you thoughts into a heated debate about tacos. Some of the embarrassment around asking certain questions is removed when you’re not interacting face-to-face. You stop trying to anticipate their reaction and just get it all out there with “but seriously, what’s your opinion on One Direction?”

Schooled.

Schooled.

True, texting while drinking is a hazard of the trade. But if someone can’t handle getting “DOOOOD YOU LAME CAPS LOCK HOW TO TURN THIS OFF ALSO SHOTS” from me at midnight, followed by a picture of my shoes and maybe even a little voicemail karaoke, then they probably can’t handle me in person either. In fact, it’s a good way to weed out the bad ones, because as I’m quickly learning, the good ones play along.

(Aside: yes that’s a true story. His response was “I want Doritos” and then “How many times did you fall in those shoes?” It was twice. End aside.)