Days Off.

After a lovely weekend watching my beautiful childhood friend walk down the aisle and say Forever, plus a bonus day in the city with my twinster T, this was me, this morning, upon waking up and looking at my work inbox:

giphy

Yeeeeeah it’s gonna be a busy week for LB. Never fear if I’m quiet – I’m putting together a fantastic weekend update that involves a fair warning for anyone trying to run to the bathroom before the bride and groom make their entrance to their reception. Hint: don’t run in somewhat-broken heels unless you’re willing to lose some skin across the top of your knee.

TL/DR: Stay tuned for PLDs – wedding edition!

 

 

Tough Love

“No! That’s so selfish. You need to stand up for yourself, this is getting ridiculous.”
“I don’t even think that you should say anything to that”
“At the end of the day, you just have to ask yourself whether that would improve your life or not. And you’re the only one who knows that.”

I’m generally not one for being coddled. As much as I like to hear that I’m always right and obviously perfect, if someone disagrees with me or needs to give me cold dose of reality, I’d prefer they do so, rather than sit on something about which they feel strongly, or stay quiet when they think I’m walking into fire. Be it my work performance, my wardrobe choices, or my indecision related to retrieving missing accessories, I’m usually okay with someone eschewing the “everything is going to be okay” or “you’re always right” in lieu of the truth.

My Nickname Posse, my people, are the best at handing out reality face-palms when I get that dreamy look in my eyes, playing Chicken with the “what ifs” and “why nots.” My lovely friend M in particular is described by mama B (and herself) as a hyper-protective mama bear, having watched me go through so much in the past few years. She let it fly at me earlier this week while I was entangled in a sticky situation, reminding me again and again that I need to look out for myself and I can’t backtrack when I’ve come such a long distance in such a short period of time. To be honest, her words stung for a minute, so I ran to my partner-in-crime R and my fashionista C for different advice, hoping they would tell me that I was right and everything was okay. Instead, they echoed M almost exactly, giving me reality instead of fantasy when it comes to handling my own health and sanity. Stung slightly, my first instinct was to pull away from them, stop sharing my over-analytical thoughts as they unfold in the next few weeks, but the more I tried to convince myself that I know best, the more I realized I don’t.

Exactly a year ago at this moment, I was in the middle of the first break-up with my then-boyfriend, a decision that felt so impossible at the time, pushing me out of a comfort zone into unfamiliar territory of unplanned weekends and nights alone. I remember the first week felt like an eternity; I spent most of those nights buoyed by one of my friends and a lot of alcohol, sometimes crying, mostly trying to figure out what was going to happen, if we would be okay or if this was the forever end. I’ll never forget a night where M came over after a late work shift, nearly 11 p.m. on a weeknight, and held me as I rocked back and forth, wrapped in his tattered grey sweatshirt, sobbing that I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to do, I just didn’t know what to do. She let me cry until I couldn’t, listened to my “What Ifs” and “But Maybes” patiently, and when I finally lifted my head, she looked me square in the eye and said “You know I love you and will support any decision you make. But you were doing this when you guys were together, too. Shouldn’t that tell you what you need to do?”

Sometimes I wish I’d listened to her then, instead of spending the next three months trying to salvage something that was broken beyond repair. But I wasn’t ready for tough love at that point, at least not from her. I was holding on to the life I’d spent three years building in the city instead of looking forward to possibilities. And looking back, it’s okay that I wasn’t ready to give up that life when given that opportunity, but sometimes I look back again and I wish, I wish, I wish I had. So it’s strange now, a year later, to be in a very different place receiving very similar advice. I’m dancing around the same edge, holding on to the same idea that there’s something I can fix on my own, without taking the other parts of the equation into consideration; namely: I can’t daydream my way into a happy ending.

Tough love stings, it burns, and it wants you to pull away furiously from the person holding your hand, gently trying to lead you into an obvious realization that you can choose to be happy above all things. Tough love is like ripping a bandaid off what used to be a bad wound, so nervous that it’s too soon and then so relieved when it’s over.  I’m not saying I agree with the Nickname Posse all the time, or that they will always understand every aspect of the decisions that I make – after all, they may see me in the bad times, hysterically sobbing on my couch, but they don’t see me in the best times, enjoying sushi after a major score on $1 records, nestled in strong arms on my couch at 2 a.m. after the first I-maybe-love-you. In the end, decisions about my life will always be mine. But it will always be nice to know that the people that love me, love me enough to tell me “no” when I don’t want to hear it, tell me to “snap out of it” when I start to daydream about perfect, and tell me “I’ll always be there for you” when I need to hear it the most.

“Excuse me, I don’t bend that way.”

A few months back, a blogger I’ve been reading for years posted a beautiful picture, where she and her daughter are doing yoga outside, accompanied by a few words about starting with yoga and how it’s shaped her life in a short time. I always saw myself as more of a Pilates person per se, buying into the idea that yoga was for actual hippies, and not my style hippie, chanting chakras and meditating, never doing any “real” exercise. But with the Spartan Race then-rapidly approaching, and my running schedule consistently affected by late nights in the office, I decided to take advantage of the WiFi on my DVD player for something other than Netflix, and scrolled through some of the free yoga videos on YouTube.

yoga

I found a 30-day challenge with a yogi who seemed unintimidating and likable, and looked through a few videos at work one day. The workouts were all between 15 and 20 minutes, and she took the time to explain each step in a way I understood, despite having exactly zero experience or knowledge of yoga, outside of the difference between Down Dog and Up Dog. “You can do anything for 30 days, LB,” I thought the next morning, as I unrolled my newly-acquired yoga mat in the living room and turned on Day 1. “Just give it a month and see what happens.”

If there is ever an accurate time to say that I “ate my words” about anything, it was my perception for so long that yoga was “just poses” and “not enough” of a workout to satisfy my gym rat tendencies. Day 1 was a challenge, Day 2 was painful and by the time I woke up for Day 3, I seriously considered stopping, as my muscles protested being stretched in weird ways all over again, as my body realized that something as simple as holding a Down Dog for a minute will get your legs shaking with exertion, despite no movement. But I liked the yogi, and I liked how the quick morning exercise energized my day, so I kept going. I didn’t make it into crow pose that first time, almost laughed when she announced we’d be doing splits the next day, and felt like crying on the days leading into headstands. Somehow, despite feeling inadequate when I fell the first time we went into Warrior 3 and the infamous incident with the Crow-related chin bruise (ref.), I made it through the entire month unscathed – and found I was dying for more.

It’s strange how much the small bit of yoga I’ve been doing in the mornings (and now also the evenings) has transformed different aspects of my life. Physically, the difference is crazy. I went from barely able to keep my heels steady in 10-seconds of a Down Dog to heels completely flat with no problems, toppling over at the thought of Tree to balancing with ease, and I’m only about three inches away from a full split. Mentally, the change has been enormous. I’m an anxious personality and can get worked up very easily over nothing, obsess over a tiny detail as though it threatened to eat me. Taking anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour every day to stop, stretch, and watch my breath has calmed my anxieties, calmed my running mind, and helped me learn how to focus on the present, a lesson I try over and over again to reinforce in my life.

I won’t pretend to be an expert or even that I’m that good. Perspective: these little changes all came from YouTube videos. But yesterday, after exchanging some confusing words with a chapter in my chronicle I thought had closed, I went home and decided to practice headstand, something I’ve only been able to do with wall support in the past. I stretched out appropriately, moved my mat into position near the wall… and all of a sudden I eased into a full headstand, no wall support at all, and held the pose until my triumphant laughter and disbelief shook me back down to the mat. I texted half the people in my phone, so excited to have finally achieved what I thought was impossible, and spent the night in a full daze, dizzy with pride at how far I’ve come. A lesson I keep coming back to in my chronicle, in my life, is that it’s crazy how much can change in such a short period of time. It’s exciting to think what may be by the time I finally manage that full split.

Namaste, bitches.

Interested in following suit? You MUST follow the incredible Bad Yogi, Erin Motz. Day 1 of the 30-day Challenge referenced above can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wJtQjQ4HI8 

 

To the rescue!

A few weeks back, a slightly panicked D, my brother’s wonderful girlfriend, called me to ask what I was doing the weekend of July 18. D&D were planning to join friends for a weekend in the Hamptons, leaving their two girls, a pug and a pit bull, alone for a few days. Fortunately for them, this past weekend was the only weekend in July that I was, in fact, available, so I readily accepted the chance to staycation in my old neighborhood and hang out with the dogs. Their pug is a funny little pooch with a big personality, and we always joke that she’s more like a cat: disinterested in humans to an extent, unless you’re making dinner, while the pit bull is a rescue. They found her while on vacation in Puerto Rico, fell in love and speedily brought her up to the States to foster upon their return.

All dogs have their little quirks and oddities, whether a full breed, a mutt, a show dog or a rescue. Some of them chew furniture, some are terrified by the vacuum, some sleep upside down and some turn circles when excited. That said, the quirks for rescue dogs are generally more pronounced and require more attention. Rescue dogs have dealt with anything from abandonment to abuse, and all are affected in different ways. For example, my parent’s dog, a half-golden retriever, half-Rottweiler rescue, has a “saving people” complex when it comes to our pool, constantly jumping in after us (read: on top of us), running around the edge of the pool barking in the meantime. D&D’s pitty is deaf, and as I learned this weekend, if she’s ready to be done with her walk, she just lays down where she is. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the bike lane in Central Park, two buildings away from her own or even in the middle of an intersection – if she is tired, she lays down. These little quirks can be funny, but also frustrating, when you’re just trying to go for a swim, or you’re also tired and just want the dog to stand for the 3 steps back home.

Fun story: she stayed like that for 20 minutes.

Fun story: she stayed like that for 20 minutes.

And then again, while all dogs love you unconditionally and in their own way, I think there’s a deeper level of understanding and love in rescue dogs and their humans. This isn’t to say I didn’t have a total blast with their pug – she is such a funny little munchkin, hamming it up at the dog park, nestling right between my legs every night and snoring loudly till morning. But sitting on D&D’s couch this weekend, with the pitty snuggled next to me, head in my lap, so content, I could almost feel her gratitude radiating, like she knew she’d been rescued by someone and wanted to make sure she earned your love. She may have separation anxiety and sit outside the shower door while you’re there, she may take a liking to your running shoes and try to chew one while waiting for a walk, but when she gives a big smile and flops next to you on the couch after a long walk, it’s almost as though she knows she could be somewhere worse right now, and she has you (well, your brother and his girlfriend) to thank for that.

I faced a fair bit of dog-discrimination this weekend walking around the Upper East Side with a pit bull  – one man’s fluffy little rat dog charged at her and he chastised me for “not paying attention” (bro, don’t blame your dog’s attitude on my dog’s breed), and a few times I noticed people crossed the street or picked up smaller dogs to avoid passing her on their walks. But more often people cooed over her, completely enamored with her eyes, one green, one blue, and the way she just loves everyone, so excited to receive any type of attention. The pug was such a good big sister, leading the pit bull around the neighborhood and making friends for both of them, most people so taken and amused by the site of the two of them together. It’s a lot of work taking care of two dogs, especially when one hates her new Gentle Lead leash and snorts at you when you try to put it on, and the other can’t hear you say “NO!” when she tries to run into a busy street. For those grateful snuggles at the end of the night though, I’ll take wonky rescue quirks any day of the week.

The Window

Anyone who watched How I Met Your Mother knows a few indisputable truths. There are the little ones, like one must always respect the Slap Bet Commissioner and anything can be solved with whiskey and sword fights, but there are two lessons I find boomerang-ing into my life over and over again these days. They’re completely opposite lessons but somehow intricately connected, something silly and something serious, both simultaneously funny and painful. The first: Relationships boil down to chemistry and timing, and timing’s a bitch. The second: When the window is open, don’t wait.

I’m not the person that cycles in and out of relationships like a merry-go-round, hoping someone will grab the brass ring. That said, since probably freshman year of college, I’ve been in relationships more than out of them, maybe for years at a time, or maybe just a couple of months. I like being single as much as I like being in relationships, learning about different parts of myself, understanding different parts of my emotional spectrum. I’m someone who jumps high for a big splash in the water if I’m dating someone new, and yet I’ll never be the person that’s going to chase an abstract idea of a boyfriend to escape from single life. This is likely why I’m supremely intrigued by my now-multiple experiences with the Window Phenomenon: I don’t know if it’s social media or if there’s a built-in radar in some men, but I swear, every time I’m back on the market inevitably someone I haven’t heard from in a while starts texting again.

It can be frustrating, hearing from people who you know have ulterior motives behind the “long time no talk” text. Sure, it’s nice to know someone is thinking about you somewhere, but sometimes we all just want weekends filled with solo date nights: bad takeout, old sweatpants, Taylor Swift and all. But on the other hand, there are times it’s not only a good thing to hear from someone again, it’s a great thing. Living through Lesson One is not an enjoyable learning experience. It’s miserable for a little while and there’s residual anger, but in the end, it boils down to timing: Maybe it was the right time for you to meet him, but it’s just not the right time for him to meet you. And that’s okay, really. So you may be sad, but the slow re-emergence of someone you haven’t seen in a while sending texts that are on the Extra-Friendly side starts to bring back the smile, the confidence, the independence you were missing in the few weeks spent wracking your brain about what went wrong. It’s sticking your head out the window for a few minutes, testing the weather, just for a moment, to see what’s there and if it’s safe to go outside.

In HIMYM context, the Window Phenomenon is all work on the guy’s part, running to meet this idealized dream girl while she patiently waits in the wings for someone to scoop her up, chasing after her like a dog after a Frisbee. Maybe the first time I came back to single life that was me, freshly on my own in NYC, my whole body out the window, hoping someone would come along to fill the gap in my life I didn’t know how to fix. But I’d like to think by now, I’m not waiting for someone else to grab hold of the window frame and move it whatever direction suits him. I’m holding onto my own window frame, throwing it open or shutting it closed myself. I can’t stop whatever force propels someone to text immediately after watching the curtain on my window slowly raise, and frankly I don’t want to – let’s be real, everyone wants to be wanted. But if I can keep this on my terms, want this on my terms, text back on my terms, perhaps I can take hold of the Timing and the Chemistry again, and keep myself from another chemical burn. Until then though, I’m having a really good time just enjoying the breeze.

PLD Montage: Vol. 4 (Austin edition)

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to chronicle this past weekend, the annual college reunion, because it could go in so many directions. I could talk about how much it means to have that time with my People, the ones who know all of my flaws and love me anyway, after we’ve all had a tough few weeks. I could put up something cute and cryptic about unique bonding experiences, or how much things can change in a year and yet how things can feel exactly the same, as though no time has passed. But the more I cycled through photos and memories on the long trip home, there is really only one way to give the past few days, officially dubbed “Best Weekend Ever (Seriously)” the justice they deserve.

Readers, I give you the latest Montage: Austin Edition.

  • While packing for the trip, I left out a few things that I would need to bring, but couldn’t lock in a suitcase until right before we left for the airport. Namely: glasses case, deodorant and phone charger. Despite a hot date with jalapeno margaritas the night before, E and I had no well, only minor problems waking up at 4 a.m., and I laid out the things I needed to pack as we scrambled around my apartment waiting for the car (Uber count: 1) to arrive. Everything travel-wise went incredibly smoothly – until I went to put away my glasses, apply deodorant and charge my phone.
    Lesson learned: Just because you’re not at a bar doesn’t mean 4 a.m. LB can be trusted.
  • In the week leading up to Austin, I was having a bit of a disagreement with my landlords about who was responsible for paying for my missing doorknob (ref.). It eventually worked out in my favor but it did leave me a bit shorter in budget for the weekend. I figured I’d just use my credit card for trip expenses, so I carefully planned the rest of my weekly spend to leave that card untouched, using cash in lieu of credit so I’d had as many funds to play with in Austin as possible. Following a very joyous reunion, set to the dulcet tones of Iggy (natch), we explored part of Austin for the afternoon, went back to the hotel for some pre-dinner drinks and a fashion show, and rolled out (Uber count: 2) to the supremely classy East Sixth Street for dinner, drinks and dancing. With Texas prices, my budget plan was beyond perfect, and I was so excited to be with my college loves again, so excited for all the crazy things we had planned for the rest of the trip. And then I lost my credit card somewhere between dancing on the bar at Coyote Ugly and getting the patio bartender at Toulouse to follow us on Instagram.
    Lesson learned: STOP. DRINKING. VODKA.
  • After getting back on Saturday night (Uber count: 3, 4. E went home first), I had a bit of a white girl meltdown about the card and how I was going to have fun throughout the weekend. I continued to cry and complain about where my card was like a spoiled brat with zero regard for the other two people forced to share a room with me. After keeping them up for a little while, I finally calmed down and passed out in the surprisingly comfortable hotel bed. Then woke up early, felt great and went by the pool to tan and do yoga for a couple hours, and kicked the other two out of bed when I got bored so we could brunch and find a bar for the World Cup Final.
    Lesson learned: Do not wake sleeping friends to humblebrag about your productive morning when you kept them up the night before.
  • Once the Argentina game ended (Aside: UGHHHHH. End aside), we decided to skip our afternoon plans of actually exploring Austin and stay at the bar with our new best friends, the daytime bartenders, who we’ll call Birthday Boy and Ham. The rooftop bar was perfect for a Sunday Funday, complete with water misting over everyone (#TexasIsHot), an adult-sized see-saw, two rocking horses, random dogs, free barbeque tacos and cornhole. BB and Ham joined us once their shifts were over, and we lost track of the time, laughing hysterically at everything, making friends with everyone and G, E and I just being together, like old times. When the sun went down at about 9, G and E decided to head to down the street for dinner (Uber count: 5), but I was having probably too much fun for a 20-something on the see-saw while BB and Ham bought drinks in honor of my sideboob. I decided to stay at the bar for a little while and meet them back at the hotel instead, and planned to stop for a quick dinner on the way back. Three hours and perhaps a shot (or two) later, I made it back (Uber count: 6) and even got up early enough the next morning for round two of yoga and tanning. It wasn’t until we sat down to breakfast at the hotel that I realized I hadn’t eaten more than a bite of free barbecue pork taco in 24 hours. G’s reaction: “At least you’re not hangry!”
    Lesson learned: If that’s all you’re going to eat in 24 hours, at least have the entire taco.
  • At the end of the trip, after a long day of travel with 2 dead phones, I finally made it back home (Uber count: 7), only mostly hungover and very glad to see little miss. Once my phones were revived, I started scrolling through photos from Best Weekend Ever, and found that I had been somewhat snap-happy at the bar the day before. I sent some of the choice images to G and E, and despite pure exhaustion, we stayed up for another hour on the group text, laughing and reminiscing and trying to pretend we were texting from different rooms, instead of different states. I can’t believe the trip is over. I can’t wait for next year.
    Lesson learned: Despite distance, time and a lot of changes, your best friends will always love you.

I have a million more stories, featuring fantastic quotes that include “Wait is that a metaphor or do you actually have a warrant out for your arrest?,” “WATCH ME DO MY CHEETAH DANCE!,” “I think it’s true love if he massages your stomach when you’re constipated,” and “He gets serious bonus points for not giving me beard burn.” But there are a few stories that stay between friends – especially when you only get together once a year.

Here’s to Peace, Love, 403 in 2015: Perhaps we’ll learn how to behave by then. But honestly? For another weekend like this one, I hope we never do.

Jessie Spano-levels

Something odd that’s plagued my group of college girlfriends is that we’ve never been single at the same time. Back in college, it’d be one out of three single, maybe the occasional month of two out of three, but inevitably at least one of us was in a relationship at any given point in time, both in college and beyond. In particular, my anchor G and I had absolutely never been single at the same time and never expected it to happen, as we both found ourselves in serious relationships starting at 22. When those crashed and burned within a few months of each other, we planned a night in the city, just before New Year’s, where we could finally experience something we’d been looking forward to for years: single G and LB, dressed the hell up and ready for strong drinks and cute boys.

We reminisced the next morning when we both got back to my apartment woke up in my bed because where else would we be, about our hilarious antics the night before. Between vodka shots (never again) and a little adventure to Village Tavern, we’d somehow managed to act like we were 19 again in all the right ways, consequences be damned in lieu of a good time. And then just as quickly as she left, it looked like that was the one and only time we’d ever be single together. One perfect weekend memory(ish) of finally getting a drink as single G&LB.

Every year, my college girlfriends and I plan a trip in the summer. Since we’re all scattered around the country, it’s a simple tradition we’ve enacted that ensures no matter where we are or what’s happening, we take a few days to be together, as though no time has passed from that beautiful May day in 2010 when we had to say goodbye to college and each other. After forcing G to come north since the first trip in 2011, my soul sister E and I are finally gettin’ ourselves down to Texas, meeting G in Austin for a weekend where we only have a few definite plans. E found her Person years ago, and for a while, the rest of the trip dynamic was uncertain, as G and I both fluctuated from un-single to very-single at different times. And in the end, it’s perfect: single G and LB, ready to take on the Texas sun and those Southern boys, the second time ever in 8 years of friendship.

There aren’t words to describe how I’m feeling about this weekend, a chance to get away, a chance to see my college lovies, a chance to make some permanent changes and a guarantee of some college-level PLDs. So, as E and I look forward to a 6 a.m. flight out of JFK this weekend, here’s a gif to do justice to the feeling I can’t describe:

SESC

 

See you next week kids!

Cooking for One

Growing up, my family sat down for dinner every single night together, the easiest ritual in the world, and something we still do when we’re back in Connecticut. On rare occasions, we’d order from the local pizza place (Aside: NEW HAVEN STYLE 4 LYFE. End aside), and on REALLY special occasions we’d get Chinese takeout, but for the most part, mama B, a veritable superwoman, would cook for us every night. From a young age, I watched my mother chop and marinade and grill and bake, always inserting myself into the cooking process to help, starting with stirring and eventually taking over prep altogether. In high school, I started making dinner for the family, giving mama B a break from the stove and giving me a chance to learn her methods and her meals, appreciating the calm that rushed over me the moment I stepped up to the counter with a cookbook, knife in hand.

I didn’t cook much for myself in my early years in New York, for a few reasons: my kitchen was minuscule, going out to grab lunch at work guaranteed I’d get at least a little sunshine that day and I really only knew how to cook meals large enough to feed a family. I enjoyed having friends to my place for dinner parties, and my to-this-day favorite roommate and I used to cook together, navigating our shoebox kitchen in a feeble attempt to share one square foot of counter space. But for the most part, I lived on Seamless take-out and leftovers from whatever I’d picked up at lunch that day. It wasn’t until I moved into my own place in March of last year that I finally had a kitchen where I could actually cook: counter space, cabinets and a big oven and all. Hearing people and media complain about the difficulties in “cooking-for-one” at the time seemed silly to someone like me, a seasoned dinner prepper and someone who loves to cook. I remember standing in the kitchen those first few days, so excited about the culinary possibilities. “Difficulties? Nonsense!” I naively thought as I put together my first Fresh Direct order.

Me, on day one in my Heights kitchen.

Me, on day one in my Heights kitchen.

Cooking for one is the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn in my adult life. It is more difficult than when I had to learn my way around the West Village for the first time, more difficult than waking up after a Sunday Funday brunching with my fashionista C and honestly, it’s more difficult than dating. It took about eight months before I started to get the hang of it, eight whole months of buying too many groceries and throwing out food that went bad, not buying enough groceries and resorting to take-out more often than necessary, cooking way too much food and then not enough food, and impulse-buying snacks that went uneaten. Oh god, the amount of snacks I’ve had to discard is so depressing I can’t even think about it. RIP, that half-full bag of dark chocolate Milano’s that I forgot existed until far after they were stale.

Now in month 17 of living alone, I’m still no expert in cooking-for-one, as easily referenced by the massive bowl of quinoa salad in my fridge that I made on Sunday and will still have to eat for the next two straight days before flying out to Austin on Saturday. However, quinoa-issues aside, I have picked up a few tips to make the most out of solo food time:

  • Pick a grocery store and stick to it. I know this sounds obvious, but for a while, I fluctuated between the local Bravo, Fresh Direct, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for groceries, thinking the variety was fun and exciting. Honestly, it’s more a pain than anything: stores aren’t set up the same, it’s harder to remember where your staple items are in each place and you end up buying more than you need because you’re not in a routine. Once I started doing weekly shopping trips to the Whole Foods on the Upper West every Sunday, I saw myself wasting less food, making smarter choices about what to keep in the apartment and even experimenting with small quantities of foods I rarely used before, like yellow beets and fresh ginger. Simple life hack, but hugely, hugely helpful.
  • Don’t overload on produce! This was the number one mistake I made for months. I’m generally a healthy eater and like to keep fruit/veggies in the apartment at all times. This does not, however, mean I need to have three different types of peppers, asparagus, carrots and tomatoes, plus apples, cherries, blackberries and raspberries in my fridge because I won’t use them all before they’re bad (learned that exact lesson the hard way). Unless you know exactly what you’re using each thing for, stick to one or two fruits/veggies per week and incorporate them into each dish you make. True life: last week I had basil and zucchini in every single meal I ate. And they were all delicious.
  • Leftovers over salad = perfect work lunch. Yes, going out to pick up lunch is sometimes the only non-work social interaction I have all day. But from a cost and a quality control standpoint, I usually bring my lunch to the office. Easiest lunch ever? Just put whatever you had for dinner over some greens and voila: bangin’ salad. Works with pasta, the aforementioned quinoa, Thai takeout, and I know it’s weird, but cold pizza over spinach is super, super delicious (my brother’s wonderful girlfriend D convinced me to try once and I’ll never look back).
  • Freezer foods will save you. If you look in my freezer on any given day, you’ll see at least two kinds of frozen veggies (currently kale and broccoli rabe) and at least two kinds of meat (currently chicken and sausage). I try to plan meals in my weekly shop but sometimes I forget to buy things or I’m a few days behind in grocery stocking, so having things on-hand that make a quick and easy meal is beyond a lifesaver. This kind of transcends cooking-for-one, but you’ll thank me when you notice your fridge is empty after you’re already in your post-work, “no-one-can-see-me” sweatpants, sans bra and wine in hand. No one wants to grocery shop once you’ve hit that level of “day’s over.”
  • Accept defeat: you know what? Stores do not cater to the single. Produce and meats and snacks come in multiple portions and cookbooks scale everything for 4. Sometimes you’re going to throw food out. Sometimes you’re going to live on eggs and leftover quinoa for three days. And sometimes you’re going to throw your hands up and order take-out because the idea of doing dishes UH-GAIN is just depressing. Accept defeat sometimes and order Seamless. There’s no one around to judge besides the cat, and sometimes we all need a break.

Go forth and cook, my friends.

As do we all, Jess.

Clumsy Me

I am a klutz. I trip constantly, I’m always walking into tables or falling off the couch, I spill food on or around myself at least once per meal (including snacks), I have more burn scars on my hands from forgetting a potholder or an oven mitt and my coworkers have long since stopped asking “what happened?!” when they see another gargantuan bruise on me, having figured out that the only thing beating me up is gravity. I don’t know where I get it from because neither my parents nor brother are even close to my level of clumsy hot mess (my twinster T gets close, but I’ve got the edge), but either way, I have the clumsy gene and there’s nothing I can do about it.

This weekend I managed to injure my lone remaining good foot while racing to the pool area from my parent’s deck in the beautiful Saturday sun, in desperate need of the Bose stereo so mama B, my brother’s wonderful girlfriend D, my lovely friend M and my work buddy S and I could continue a dance party to the best of the 60s. Still grooving with the stereo as I ran from the fire pit past a row of lawn chairs, I sped up to turn a corner and smacked my foot directly into the metal leg of a rogue lounge chair and exhaled the loudest “MOTHER F&!)#*@!&R” I’ve ever uttered in my entire life. Exactly a week after twisting my left ankle so badly it still hurts to walk down stairs, I was now hobbling around with a likely-broken toe on my right foot. The crowd from inside came out to see what I’d gotten myself into, probably expecting a snapping turtle attack, and instead we all just shook our heads and laughed: of course LB ran into the lounge chair. Of course.

In most aspects of my life, I’m fairly well organized and put-together. My desk at work would beg to differ, but my inbox is semi-organized, I would never wear black shoes with a brown belt, and I’ve gotten into a great routine at home to stop magazines from piling in the corner and keep empty wine bottles from an extended stay in my recycling bin. I even organized my closet a few months back, summer dresses next to jumpsuits next to blazers next to skirts (aside: yes I have a jumpsuit section and it’s the best part of my closet. End aside), and it’s stayed organized for much longer than I’d ever anticipated. All in all, I’m a fairly organized and put-together person. In fact, I’m really only clumsy with myself.

“Clumsy with myself” is another way to describe the reckless abandon I’ve been integrating into my life these days, throwing my heart around like a rubber ball and waiting to see if it breaks or bounces back. It’s been such a weird year so far, 2014, and as we’re officially in the second half of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what might happen, or what I want to happen, before it’s 2015. Some of it’s silly, like getting a new couch and finally getting rid of my horrid Ikea dresser in lieu of a bookshelf; other goals are bigger, work goals, financial goals. And despite knowing and setting and wanting these goals, I’m letting my reckless, clumsy heart direct how I feel about progress to-date, measuring self-worth in days, weeks, months dealing with everything on my own, all the time. It’s clumsy and careless and full abandon and there are some days where I just want to SCREAM at myself to get over the short-lived happy love and get back to reality, paying attention to the pragmatic and ignoring all the little wisps of spontaneity trying to pull me back to the klutzy, clumsy self I am.

In desperate need of heels this morning, I tried gingerly slipping my feet into my favorite “short” (read: 4 inches) stilettos, hoping that I could break my longest-ever streak of 6 days without heels in the office. Not only was there a good amount of pain when I stood up in my “comfortable” shoes, but in trying to sit down as quickly as possible, I kicked out the wheels on my chair and fell ass-first on the floor. I sat laughing like an idiot, as my coworkers shook their heads and laughed with me, Clumsy LB, at it again. It’s not the most glamorous description, and sometimes it’s painful, but being clumsy with gravity and with myself may just be another ridiculous aspect of my life I need to get used to. Perhaps it’s time to re-embrace the reckless abandon: on from the small infinity of a fast love lost and into the new unknown, counting the bruises, spilled food and broken toes as milestones along the way.