Conversations with Myself: Packing

Since I live alone, I have a tendency to speak my thoughts aloud so I’m not in my head all the time. Packing to go anywhere is a particularly chatty time, mostly because I hate packing and I’m terrible at it, seeing as it requires having an attention span that lasts longer than 45 seconds. This weekend I’m heading down to Virginia to pretend that I’m 19 again with some of my favorite people in the world – so while I’m basking in the glory of re-making the same mistakes I did for four years down south, please enjoy a brief preview of how difficult it was for me to get there:

  • Alright, time to pack. Step one: do I have my passport and debit card?
  • Check. Wait do I have a place to store those?
  • Note to self: get new wallet.
  • ADDITIONAL NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT LOSE WALLET.
  • Maybe I should get a new purse too..
  • Oooo there’s a sale on Free People right now!
  • That dress is cute.
  • What was I doing?
  • Oh right, packing. Okay: leaving for four days. So I’ll need at least three pairs of yoga leggings.
  • I wonder how many mats I should bring…
  • I can’t wait to do yoga on the green!
  • I’m going to do some yoga right now.

  • What was I doing before this?
  • CRAP okay now I really need to pack.
  • So the class dinner is “Dressy Casual.” What the F does that mean.
  • Is that like jeans and a shirt or a sundress?
  • Good lord it’s going to be 90 degrees there. I should just wear a bathing suit.
  • UGH okay Dressy Casual. Maybe a romper?
  • I love rompers.
  • I wonder if that Free People sale has any rompers.
  • Oh they have new yoga gear!
  • Ugh I’m never going to finish packing.

  • ALRIGHT. two options for dressy casual, two sundresses for during the day, yoga clothes and sleeping gear are packed.
  • Now I need to think about shoes.
  • Sandals definitely. Maybe heels? I’ll only need one pair.
  • Oh wait I love these shoes they have to come.
  • AH and sneakers too just in case I go for a run.
  • Eh who am I kidding that’s not going to happen.
  • I should probably bring the sneakers anyway.
  • And loafers.
  • OH and my new boots!
  • How do I have six pairs of shoes for four days.
  • Being a girl is terrible.

….

  • OKAY. Clothes, accessories, shoes, and toiletries are packed.
  • What am I forgetting.
  • I’m definitely forgetting something.
  • DO I HAVE MY DEBIT CARD AND PASSPORT.
  • Phewf yes.
  • Don’t lose those.
  • Seriously LB don’t lose those.
  • Holy shit I’m about to go back to college.
  • This. Is. Awesome.

See you next week kids!

Gumshoe

There’s nothing like a mid-morning walk through Chelsea during the week. The city in general has a different vibe during the workday, somehow more and less panicked, panicked tourists trying to find their way around but no panicked workers trying to navigate the throngs of aforementioned tourists and fellow commuters. Yesterday I was heading up to 30th and 7th around 11am, and while I’d originally planned to take the subway up from my office on 15th and 9th, it was such a nice day outside that I wanted to walk. The walk itself was so relaxing, exactly what I needed despite only being three hours into the work week; the sunshine made me smile for summer and I had happy music in my earbuds providing a soundtrack to a precious few moments alone. And then I noticed my sandal sticking while I bobbed and weaved through aforementioned packs of panicked tourists – because of course, on today of all days, I stepped in gum.

I should elaborate on why exactly I was walking 15 blocks up into midtown on a Tuesday morning after a holiday weekend. To get there though, we need to back it up a few days to the perfect, sunny magic of Memorial Day Weekend.

The chance to do Sunday brunch with the people I love the most is an opportunity I wouldn’t ever pass up, so when my fashionista C sent out an email to the group a few weeks back about the rooftop at Hotel Chantelle for $8 pitchers and live jazz for Memorial Day Sunday, I couldn’t reply fast enough. I wore my favorite summer dress, switched to my weekend purse and took a million photos, most of which will never see the light of Instagram, and had a perfect, perfect day. The weather felt like a present after so many months of winter and cold, and there was no question that we would spend the after-brunch hours on my partner-in-crime R and H the Scot’s rooftop. Where the questions start popping up is after about 9pm, after we migrated downstairs to R and H’s apartment with two New Zealanders we found on the roof and their German friend. A great time was had by all, but for all my bemoaning a few weeks back that I was becoming boring, let’s just say Sunday had enough PLDs to last me through R’s wedding at the end of the summer.

Monday morning I awoke slightly disoriented and very thirsty. I patted myself on the back as I started mustering the energy to roll from my bed to the La-Z Boy chair in the other room, because not only had I washed off my makeup, I’d remembered to take out my contacts and brush my teeth. Adulthood! I lazed around on the chair for a minute and then decided to play everyone’s favorite post-night-out game of “How much money did I spend last night?” I reached for my purse to pull out what I assumed would be a stack of receipts from aforementioned poor decision making, and found…. nothing. Not like, there were no receipts, or no hints as to how much I’d spent. I mean literally nothing. My wallet was fucking gone.

I’ve had a hard time assimilating my body to life after Whole30. On the one hand, it’s awesome to have the freedom of food rules, and not having to check labels obsessively or ask a waitress for seven thousand substitutions makes life a lot easier. On the other, I’m physically reacting to things in ways I haven’t before. Foods I used to love give me headaches, and after a particularly motivated food binge a few weeks back, I thought someone was twisting hot knives into my intestines for three days straight. Maybe these symptoms were there before and I’m just aware of them now, but alcohol is another story. I don’t know if I still haven’t figured out how my tolerance has changed, or if I’m processing booze differently now, but I go from zero to fuzzy to TANKED in the span of one drink. It’s never the same drink: once it was the second margarita, once it was the third glass of wine, and okay Sunday night may have involved tequila shots (or so I’ve been told), but I’m noticing that I’ll feel fine, fine, fine and then all of a sudden I’m a little bit tipsy and then I’m fine no more. I’m not an irresponsible person, not even usually while drunk (*unless I’ve been drinking vodka which I strategically avoided Sunday #justsaying), so I knew the moment I looked in that empty purse that my wallet was not going to be there. It put me in a mood for a little while on Memorial Day, while I cancelled credit cards en masse and borrowed a MetroCard so I didn’t miss C’s rooftop barbecue, and I spent most of the day thinking the same thing over and over: “What is wrong with you, LB.”

Which brings us back to Tuesday morning, walking through Chelsea to the DMV license center to find out what I could do to get a new photo ID, and hopefully switch my residency to New York officially. Turns out it’s a fairly complicated process when you don’t have your old license, so as I walked I was trying my hardest to smile and accept that I probably won’t have a license for six weeks when I stepped in gum with 10 blocks to go. I pushed through the anger and frustration of a lost wallet and gum on my shoe until I got back to the office, naturally just in time for things to get crazy and throw my emotions into haywire. Much as I wanted to collapse on my chair when I got home and do nothing, I forced myself to put on my favorite leggings and pull out my mat, the first time I’ve practiced in a week after injuring my shoulder last Wednesday. Yoga really has this way of making me feel everything, in this case all the frustration and stress from overdoing it on Sunday and all the emotions around losing my wallet, and I had a moment after sitting in a hip-opening pose (remember: negative emotions are stored in the hips) where I felt an emotion start to bubble up from deep inside. I couldn’t tell if I was about to laugh or cry, but I could feel that something was going to happen and it was going to be big. And all of a sudden, it hit me that I didn’t need to brace myself, or wait for something to happen: I had the choice to lay down on my mat in frustration and anger, and cry and feel sorry for myself; or I could just start laughing.

So I laughed. I laughed a little at first, and then once I started I couldn’t stop. I laughed so hard tears ran down my face, I grabbed the cat and we danced around the apartment while I laughed and she squirmed to go free. I mean, the whole situation is pretty ridiculous. Who loses their ENTIRE wallet?!? Credit cards left at bars fine, phones left in friends’s apartments okay, but losing a FULL wallet? It’s a skill. And it’s nothing worth crying over, because at the end of the day, it’s all going to be okay. I’ll get a new ID eventually, I cancelled all my cards and only one card had a $65 charge to Boost Mobile that definitely wasn’t me. I’ll find a pretty new wallet and use my passport at bars like a weirdo in the meantime. It was a weekend of detective work to find a missing thing that ended with a gumshoe and me laughing like a crazy person alone in my apartment. People always tell you “Everything happens for a reason” when things happen we can’t fix, and maybe I don’t know the reason for all this wallet craziness quite yet, but maybe I do – because if all that comes from this situation is my new-found knowledge of DMV and social security card locations around the city, sticky stranger germs on my favorite sandals, and the ability to laugh at the little things instead of crying and making them big, it’s a pretty successful lesson from a big ol’ PLD.

Friendly Conversations: Tres

On the future
M: I can’t even imagine where we’ll be in 5 years, let alone 10. I mean, when I was 17 there’s no WAY I thought I’d be a nanny in New York City and living with a long-term boyfriend at 27. Not in a million years! What about you?
Me: Hmm. Did I picture myself 26, single, and living alone with a cat… Yup that’s pretty much the dream.

On technicalities
Friend: So I read that blog post about change where you say you’re not dating… dare I mention the trend of you at birthday parties this year?
Me: That is TOTALLY different. I’ve sworn off actual dates, not making out with strangers in public. Totally different.

On healthy living
Aunt: So I hear you’re on some kind of special diet. What’s that about?
Me: Yeah, it’s called Whole30. I’m not trying to lose weight of course, just make myself healthier!
Aunt: OK good, you don’t need to be any skinnier!
Me: (exits the room)
Aunt (loudly, to cousin): Why is she trying to lose weight!??

On breaking news
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On high school reunions
Papa B: So that guy I introduced you to was my old football buddy from high school!
Me: Wow! Why haven’t I heard of him until now?
Papa B: Ya know, he was in jail for a while.
Me: Wait what?!
Papa B: yeah selling cocaine of something.
Me: WHAT.
Papa B: Eh it was the 80s, who didn’t.

On college reunions
IMG_1476

A Story, One Year Later

I was running late this morning, stepping on the subway around 8am instead of my usual no-later-than-7:45. At first I was slightly annoyed with myself, as it’s a busy time at work (so basically, business as usual) and I’d wanted to stop at Starbucks for a coffee before the line reached epic proportions, but all of my annoyance rapidly disappeared when I heard the familiar voice over the subway system wishing us all a good morning – my favorite conductor was back! I haven’t heard his voice since one random morning back in November, and before that, since…

It hit me at that moment that the last time he’d been narrating my morning schedule was just about one year ago, when everything in my life was different. I don’t mean the obvious things – less tattoos, longer hair, different job – but the thing that probably shaped my last year more than anything else. This time last year there was a story playing out in my life that had every hint of a happy ending, but instead. Well, let’s just say instead. I’ve never told this story in its entirety here, but it’s one of those stories I’ve wanted to tell for a long time, and now feels like a good moment to get the words out of my head once and for all.

It all started in mid-April of last year, when a red jacket caught the corner of my eye one day while waiting for my typical morning train, hoping I’d catch the one where the conductor wishes you a “beautiful morning.” It was an interesting jacket on what turned out to be a really cute guy, waiting on my subway platform. I entertained the brief funny thought of “what if I met someone on the subway?” and smiled to myself at the ridiculousness of such a notion before pulling out one of my many back issues of Vogue or Vanity Fair that I’d been working to catch up on, having let them pile up for probably four months. My favorite conductor was running things that morning, and in between his cheerful “Good mornings!” at each stop, I stole a few glances at the cute guy; my imagination took over with a few “what ifs” and “wouldn’t it be funnys,” and then he got off the train one stop before I did, and I went back to my magazine, prepared never to see him again, not like I’d recognize him if I did – after all, how many subway strangers do we encounter on a daily basis in this city?

I walked down the steps the next morning, trying not to trip over myself as I pulled out the Vogue and flipped to the dog-eared page to keep reading, when I looked up and saw a flash of a red sleeve in the corner of my eye as I walked to my normal standing spot on the train. “Strange coincidence,” I thought, looking at him quickly again and happily confirming that he was, in fact, still cute. I buried my nose back in the magazine and spent the next three weeks doing the exact same thing every morning. I would walk to the train, either see him immediately and try to strategically position myself “close but not obviously close” so that we’d stand near each other on the train, or get there first and stare down the train tunnel, hoping that when the train doors open he’d appear like he did sometimes, having arrived after me; always my nose was buried in a back issue and we never said a word or even looked at each other, or at least he never caught me staring, so I thought. One morning we were standing next to each other and I tripped into his arms on a jerky train movement, better than if I’d planned it. Embarrassed, I looked at him and apologized breathlessly, but he just smiled and went back to the game on his phone, so I was convinced this crazy crush I was rapidly developing was entirely in my head.

In early May last year, one of the cool spring mornings that turn into a hot afternoon, I realized I was out of magazines. Out! I went to start hunting for my Kindle or a book, but stopped myself after a minute. “Maybe,” I let myself think, “this is the morning he’ll say something.” I was too much of a chicken to make any sort of move, especially because I was still positive it was all in my head, but I let myself play into the “What If” like a teenager dreaming about the magical love story that we learn as adults only exists in Nicholas Sparks novels. I remember exactly what I was wearing that day: my favorite ankle boots that are just tall enough and an at-that-time new maxi dress that I knew looked fantastic. In my last minutes of “should I find a book or not” that morning, I was running a few minutes late, and came down the stairs just in time to see the train arriving; without any time to look for him I got myself to the nearest door and waited for it to open, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw The Child notice me at the door and quickly turned to hide his smile. “Holy shit,” I thought, walking into the train and somehow finding myself next to him, holding the same pole and feeling electric with a nervous energy, “this might not all be in my head.”

We rode the train in silence for the entire ride. He kept trying to catch my eye and smiling, and I was furiously biting my lip trying to suppress my own smile, unable to focus on solitaire on my phone, barely able to look anywhere except my own arm holding the subway pole. We finally pulled into his stop, and I saw him turn towards me, which was not the easiest way for him to get off the train. My heart started pounding, pounding, pounding like a warning, and I heard the buzz of the doors open. I finally looked over at him and he was staring right at me with a smile on his face. He started to walk past me out the door, when he stopped, put his hand on my shoulder, leaned into my ear and said “So I’ll see you tomorrow?” I laughed then, pure joy and relief and something I still can’t define, and told him “I’ll see you tomorrow.” That was it for the first day – we didn’t exchange names, or numbers, or anything other than those words.

I won’t get into the details of the next two months. I don’t want to relive the first two weeks where he said all the right words, how we were in constant contact, hungry to learn anything and everything about the other person as quickly as possible. I don’t want to think any more about our impromptu first date, a walk through the entire city one Tuesday night holding hands, and our first kiss on the corner of 17th and Broadway, or the twelve-hour date where he met my friends and my brother, and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found him. I don’t want to relive the first time he said just three words to me and how things felt like they were perfect, perfect, things couldn’t get any better or feel any more right. I don’t want to remember how immediately everything changed one Friday night where I left work early to put on makeup and change out of my ripped jeans and he blew me off the whole weekend, 72 hours of silence without an explanation and never an apology. And more than anything I don’t want to think any more about every morning before that day on the subway where he’d put his arm around me and kiss me before walking off the train, and whisper in my ear “I’ll see you tomorrow?” every single time, even if we had plans later that night.

I hadn’t thought about him in months, having long deleted every trace of him from my life after he abruptly left Manhattan for good without saying a thing to me, until I walked onto the train this morning and saw a cute guy walking towards the same door. I had a brief moment of “What if” before cutting that thought short, reminding myself that I’ve done the subway thing and I’ve learned my lesson, to be sure. He ended up standing next to me that whole train ride, and I found that I couldn’t stop reminiscing about this time last year, the exact week before everything started going downhill. It’s true once you notice something that it’s everywhere; now that he’s been on my mind again, if briefly, I keep seeing things around the city that remind me of him, like his haircut I could pick out of a crowd with ease, or his glasses, and there was a moment while writing this post that I had a flashback to the look he would give me on the train when things were still wonderful. It’s the only time in my life anyone has ever looked at me that way and it took months to forget how that look made me feel.

I had a version of this story written in my drafts folder last spring, a complete draft, waiting for the perfect moment to share the Adorable Love Story for the Adorable New Couple, and everyone would get to experience my happiness at no longer being single in the city, and how cute that the girl with the NYC Skyline tattooed on her arm met a boy on the subway. Instead I had to slowly delete bits and pieces until there was nothing left, no trace of his promises anywhere, not in my phone, not in my blog, not in my life. I suppose it’s silly then, to put the good parts, the early story of Us out there now, but it felt important to get the words out of my head once and for all. Plus, I’ve come to realize that I don’t mind reminiscing about the good parts of what happened. It was a great story for a period of time, and in the end I came out a stronger person. He was the first in a trio of men in my life last year to say a lot of things without meaning a single one of them, and he is the one that really instigated my not wanting to date this year. But he also taught me to open myself up to the chance of love again, and instead of dwelling on what went wrong, one year later I want to remember that there are good things out there, if you just take a moment to look up.

Gavel Smash

I walked up the five flights of stairs to my apartment early Sunday evening carrying two overfilled Costco bags and a Lululemon tote stuffed with my clothes from the weekend away, exhausted, sweaty, and ready to be home. Finally ascending the last few stairs, I got really excited and then really annoyed as I saw what was waiting for me. Outside my door was something I’ve been eagerly awaiting (a diffuser for my doTerra oils #nerdalert), but the packaging had been torn open. I peeked inside quickly and saw nothing but bubble wrap, and in an instant was furious. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I said aloud, angrily kicking the empty box into my apartment while struggling to fit all the bags in the door. Look, there are a lot of stereotypes out there about Washington Heights, but my neighbors have never been nothing but helpful and nice (if *too* nice at times), and ending an otherwise fantastic weekend by coming home to a stolen package frankly, well, sucked. I spent the next half hour slowly unpacking while quieting the white rage bubbling in my stomach, trying to focus on the positives from the past few days and redirecting my thoughts away from judging my neighbors for who was the “most likely” culprit for diffuser-gate 2015.

This weekend was an amazing mix of highs and lows, starting with something I’ve known about for a few weeks and been anticipating for a few years. Friday night my lovely friend M and her N made the forever promise on a beautiful spring evening and returned home to a surprise party for M celebrating their engagement organized by N and yours truly; we had a blast and a half but between the adrenaline, nerves, anxiety/eagerness for the party, and the lack of a proper dinner between the half bottle of champagne and being spoon-fed Jell-O shots by my fashionista C, I was down for the count by 9:30, passed out in M and N’s bed by 10, and in a cab to the Upper East around midnight, feeling awful from an impending hangover and the idea that I’d ruined their party. The low continued into the morning, where I thought I could make it through a simple walk around the block with the dogs without throwing up (spoiler alert: the walk ends with me throwing up bile next to a tree while a family looked on horrified), but carried into the high of my Twinster visiting, a rare treat that I cherish, and somehow between essential oils, egg sandwich delivery, a 9 a.m. nap and a run with the pit bull, I managed to kill the miserable hangover for at least a few hours. The high of a twin visit lasted through the aforementioned Sunday homecoming surprise, which made me realize how much I’d judged strangers and friends, and felt judged by the same people that weekend on a number of different levels.

I judge people. There, I said it. I don’t mean that I spend my days passing assumptions on everyone who comes near me, and I certainly don’t take pleasure from making assumptions, but sometimes it’s just a reflex to make a judgmental thought. It’s almost never entirely intentional, but it happens – I’ll walk behind someone at 7:30 in the morning already puffing away on a cigarette and think how much it sucks to start my morning in a cloud of smoke, and I get sad when I see parents feeding McDonald’s to children, whether they’re overweight or not. I’m blessed to have experienced a lot of privilege in my life, and that privilege likely contributes to the somewhat automatic thoughts of “gross” when I accidentally walk onto an empty subway car, or the look down my nose at the thought of doing my own laundry in the city. I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to pretend that I’m sitting on a high horse judging everyone, but there are moments where I see something, or where I experience something, and I can’t help but let a judgmental thought run through my brain.

I would probably feel worse about my auto-judging tendencies if I didn’t also feel that on a regular basis from fellow strangers as well. I am the only white girl in my building and on my block in The Heights, and I’ve had everyone from old women to small children make comments along the lines of “Is she lost?” and “Damn white girl, thinking she belongs here,” usually in Spanish since they assume a white girl can’t speak the language fluently. Then there’s a particular look that a certain generation gets when they get a glimpse of me on the subway if I’m holding the pole with my left arm up, because who is this girl with a nose ring and a ridiculous tattoo riding on a train dressed like she’s going to a real job? I’ll feel it on the weekends like this past one, where I got to watch D&D’s pups, the sweetest girls in the world; it’s hard to miss when people with small dogs, or even with no dogs, cross the street when the get a glimpse of a pit bull walking their way. And it’s not limited to strangers, of course. I love my family and my friends with all my heart and soul, but there’s a reaction they give you when you make the comment that by the end of the year, all your friends save for two will be engaged or married. It’s a “you’re next!” sentiment, a “he’s out there for you!” comment that makes me feel like I’m supposed to be upset that all the people I love are celebrating love this year, or feel like I’m missing out on something because M is my wedding date for probably the next two years.

Maybe I was just extra sensitive from a few embarrassing moments over the weekend or maybe I was just coming down from a crazy high of so many wonderful things in just 48 hours, but I let that empty box sit in my foyer for a few hours while I unpacked everything else and took a minute to enjoy my brand-new loveseat that had been delivered while I was gone that weekend. It felt like a gavel smash to a crazy weekend, that my neighbors had finally done something to feed into the stereotype that I’ve been insisting is overblown ever since I moved up there in 2013. I finally calmed down and took a minute to appreciate that if that was the worst thing that’d happened to me all weekend (or at least tied with throwing up on the streets of the Upper East Side at 8:30 in the morning), then I have a pretty good life. I sighed, grabbed the box to put in my recycling pile when all of a sudden I started laughing hysterically. A quick peek and a judgment about the meaning of a ripped-open had hidden the fact that my little diffuser was still there, entirely obscured from view by too many packing bubbles, perfectly in tact and not, in fact, stolen. Apparently my things aren’t cool enough for the neighbors to take, if that was ever the intention at all. It’s a nice reminder that people and times can still surprise you every once in a while, blasting the tendency to judge before thinking, and reshaping memories that felt like judgments into funny moments with friends or a caring word from a family member. I mean, speaking honestly, I guarantee this weekend was not the last time that I’ll pass judgment mistakenly or otherwise, and it won’t be the last time I feel judged by those around me. As a tiny reminder that life can still surprise you, though, I’d rule this weekend a rousing success.

Nineteen

“It’s the last chance I have to act like 19 year-old LB again!”

The scene: joking around with my lovely friend M in her apartment after work on a Monday. Since she and her N live on top of our subway stop, I’ll usually stop by a few times a week for a quick visit on my way home from work, a chance to catch up on our days as though we’re not in constant contact via text and Instagram anyway. M and I were joking about our fast-approaching college reunion, and how we both ambitiously signed up for the 9am yoga class on Saturday; I made the point that the class is free to attend, so while it will be nice to make it, I’m certainly not going to hold back on Friday night, being around old friends for the first time together in half a decade, just so I can wake up early and stretch. I don’t know why I keep saying I’m going to regress to 19-year old LB, instead of 18, 20 or 21. I was 19 during my sophomore year at school, and that was EASILY the worst year of my college life – the year I was most entrenched in my eating disorder, the year my grades fell like they hadn’t my entire life, and the year I had my first panic attack, I don’t look back with fondness on sophomore year for a minute, and yet I keep saying I’m going to regress to that person come May 29.

I wonder sometimes why certain memories stay with us longer than others. Years of my life are condensed to two or three vivid memories; sometimes it’s a snippet of a family vacation in Disney World, watching a show with my father on one side and my sister on the other, fireworks and the humid Florida air, dank and sweet with sounds of childhood, and other times it’s sledding one night down the ice path my parents carved into our driveway. College memories are at extremes, either vivid and still cringe-worthy, or faded but sweet, or missing altogether save for a few minutes at a pregame that start up again the next morning. My sophomore year of college has an interesting hue to the memories that remain, a shiny bronze of new friends from sorority rush, the elated high of being part of a We and the promise of a semester abroad; all tinged with a murky green from a year of firsts, first panic attack, first almost-failed class, first re-emergence of the eating disorder I pretended to grow past a year before. I was looking at old photos recently to get in the college spirit, and I can’t help but think that I look like such a child, and I feel like such a child in memories, yet I thought I was making adult choices at the time.

Looking at my life as a 26 year old compared to life at 19 is really interesting, both in the similarities and the differences. The last time I cut my hair significantly was at 19; at the time I let myself be pushed into it by Mama B, who has always thought my hair looked better shorter (her words). I wasn’t ready for the change, the perfectionist in me resisting change like an awkward brush by a subway stranger, and I hated the haircut almost instantly after my hairdresser dangled the severed ponytail in front of me like a prize bull tail from a fight. I got my first tattoo at 19; I brought a half-formed idea into the shop in Buenos Aires recommended to me by my favorite bartender from the only bar that streamed NFL games. The artist listened to my idea and drew something completely different and I took a look at it and really disliked it but was too nervous to say anything other than “okay.” And at 19 I didn’t care that I had someone who loved me, because even though he really did, I didn’t love myself, and I let that guide me through a confusing mess of a year where I relied on someone to make me feel better, and when he didn’t, or couldn’t, I would find someone else who did. At 19 I thought by 26 I would be engaged or married, maybe even to the boy who loved me, and I thought I would have long learned to live with my disordered eating, something I was convinced would never let me go.

Now at 26, I just cut the same 10 inches off of my hair after a similarly impulsive decision that was egged on by Mama B, only this time I wanted it, and I laughed as the scissors cut deep into the pink curls. I can’t stop staring at myself in the mirror, so in love with the almost-bob, debating going shorter next time, already used to the look yet still pleasantly surprised every time I pass a mirror. Now at 26, I have five tattoos, and I’m working with my artist on the sixth; he and I worked for four months on my last one to nail the design, and we have another five months for this one, though I trust him so much I would gladly give him a portion of blank skin and say “Go.” Now at 26, I don’t really care that there isn’t someone in my life to love me like the boy from 19, because I love myself, really love who I’ve become and who I’m becoming all at once. Now at 26, I don’t really care that my life went in a different direction than I thought it would by now, because at 19 I didn’t realize how fluid life is, how quickly things change, the ebbs and flows of adulthood, moving you forward and backward like a game.

Maybe it won’t be the worst thing, to revert to 19 year old LB for a few nights. Though memories from that time feel more unpleasant than pleasant, I know so many of my decisions were driven by a reckless abandon that I still have and that I still enjoy. Maybe at the time it was driven to find something that I thought I needed, constantly tapping into an emerging free spirit by searching for happiness, for validation, for everything in all the wrong places. It’s a different story now though, less manic pixie dream girl, more actions and expected or anticipated consequences, holding back at the last minute sometimes or thinking about things a split second too long for the jump into the unknown to be fun. I can’t revert back to 19 again for a number of reasons, and for even more reasons I wouldn’t want to. But maybe for a few days it’ll be fun to revert back to the good parts of 19, that Say Yes spirit and the voice that screams GO, a chance to show 19 year old LB there’s a way to do things like short hair, tattoos and a slow-burning love for change and the unknown, without losing yourself somewhere along the way.

Snip Snip

On Friday night I was sitting in Connecticut, glass of wine in one hand and a piece of chocolate in the other, savoring the little joy of vices while watching silly television with my parents. My mother was excitedly staring at me, trying not to push too hard, but I’d casually mentioned an idea I’d had that week to her, and she was bouncing with anticipation, hoping I’d follow through on the semi-impulsive thought. It was a quiet, simple night, much like many of my nights in the past five weeks, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I felt compelled to do something to mix everything up; I needed a story, something I could tell people before they stopped asking me what I did all weekend, since my response has been the same for so long. And don’t get me wrong: I love a little boring in my life, especially when New York City loves to throw day in, day out wildness at you like confetti, but things finally reached the point where I felt suffocated by the same old, same old, and it was time to do something big.

I have a feeling that the writer’s block for the past month is less because I didn’t want to write, or I was getting bored with blogging, but because I’ve just been boring. My life is a round robin of work, yoga, eat, sleep, repeat. I work all the time, then go home and have just enough time to practice a little and make dinner before collapsing into bed for seven blissful hours before it all starts over again. Weekends have been back and forth to Connecticut, trying to help my family as much as possible as we navigate the unfamiliar waters of the matriarch in pain, and obviously Whole30 in April meant I wasn’t drinking or going out to my old haunts that inspired many a post in the past. And none of that is going anywhere. Work is getting busier (is that possible?), I’m really ramping up yoga after the “NO MORE WHOLE30” wine bender of the past week, But there’s this shift that I can feel in the air; it’s the shift into summer, led by the strong breeze through the blooming trees, trailing pollen through the air in a thick, yellow haze. Summertime means sleeveless shirts and sunglasses till 8pm, it means sunshine and vitamin D, a cool drink sweating down your hand, your arm, it means weekends dedicated to celebrating the new beginnings that come with the season.

For me, it’s a shift away from the hibernation mode of the past few months into what’s shaping up to be the busiest summer I’ve ever had. There are rooftop parties last-minute on the weekend, hoping to find the balance between tanning and burning on my fair Irish skin, and outdoor concerts and movies begging for a picnic blanket and a cool bottle of rose. There’s my college reunion in a few short weeks, a chance to see people I haven’t in five years and one of the final chances I’ll have to act like I’m 19 again, before a summer of events and activities that remind me I’m an adult, like the bridal shower for my sister and my partner-in-crime’s wedding. The next few months are the lead up to my 27th birthday, the point in life where I’m officially in my late twenties and the first time I feel like I might actually have a few pieces of my life figured out. It’s not a lot of pieces or even a big chunk, seeing as I still ate chocolate for dinner last night and told myself the third margarita in the afternoon wouldn’t make a difference (as it turns out my limit is probably two). But it’s the first time that I’ve budgeted appropriately, having had summer plans since last fall, and it’s the first time I feel settled into all areas of my life: my apartment, my job, my routine and the constant awareness that things can change as quickly as I’ve settled into them.

Encouraged by Mama B’s giddy encouragement and the fact that I refuse to let myself be bored any longer, I walked into my hair salon on Saturday morning and laughed out loud as my stylist, a friend for over ten years, chopped off ten inches of my hair, my first real haircut since 2008. It has been a time of changes for me for so long, new people and new beginnings, new colors everywhere from my apartment to my hair to the many tattoos I’ve acquired in the past 12 months. And I wasn’t nervous when she put the scissors to my hair, didn’t close my eyes or flinch as she dangled the severed ponytail in front of me when the deed was good and done. I cant stop shaking my head back and forth now, the weightlessness of more than half my hair lifted from my shoulders; that hair had seen me through so many milestones and changes and new beginnings in the seven years I’d been growing it that now, as things feel as settled as they can be, it was time to let everything go. New seasons, new beginnings, new hair. Letting things get stale was what I needed for a little while, but now it’s time to cut the bullshit of a monotonous life and start pushing for the things that make me feel excited and alive.

Omg.

Writers block is real.

IT’S SO REAL.

I have four different drafts I’ve been working on this week. FOUR. One of them is about brunch on Sunday with my girlfriends, and how the dangerous slope of “one more drink” after Whole30 can really put a damper on your Monday. I have the opening paragraph and closing sentence for a post called “#Blessed” which I wanted to put up today, but I can’t figure out what goes in the middle. I finally have a few spare minutes to sit and write, and the only thing I can think is “God I miss Whole30” because I had barely any margaritas last night and I’m freaking exhausted.

Stay tuned for updates this week, I promise I’m working on getting something new up here.