Tangible, Real, and Entirely Mine

I ambitiously set my alarm a few minutes earlier than usual on Tuesday morning, hoping that was the motivation I needed to get out of bed and go straight to the mat for an early-morning yoga flow. I’ve been slacking lately on morning yoga, not because I’m not awake, but because I’ve been taking my time around meals during Whole30, using the precious few extra minutes from excluding yoga to prepare and enjoy breakfast instead of hastily shoving it in my mouth while running out the door. Tuesday morning was different, though, marking a day that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Much as I wanted to throw my phone when it started the early morning ritual of vibrating violently until it wakes up the cat, who then claws my face until I make it stop, I managed to shut off the alarm with just a hint of a sigh, roll out of bed, grab one of my yoga mats and unravel it on to the floor, smiling at the routine that felt so foreign just one year ago.

Something I really appreciated in my previous relationship is that we didn’t celebrate anniversaries. It’s not to say that I didn’t know the day we started “dating” (it was college, exact terminology is muddy), because I’m a girl and obviously I knew, but we never made a big deal about another year passing. The date itself was fairly close to Valentine’s Day, so we sort of rolled the two together: every year he bought me lilies, my favorite, and we went to the same restaurant for the seafood tower and the amazing hazelnut-banana ice cream monstrosity. It was clichéd, but cute, and I appreciated that we never made a big deal out of the anniversary itself. I think anniversaries are sweet of course; it’s lovely to celebrate something that makes you happy, or remember something you hope never to forget, but outside of the anniversary of my birth (which is basically a national holiday*), I’ve never been terribly preoccupied with exact anniversary dates, preferring instead the general time frame as a casual acknowledgment that yet another year has gone by.

It’s hard at times to see progress in life in the short time span of a year; progress is fickle and subjective, working in your favor at times and working against you in others. You could take a look at my life on the one hand and think that nothing has really happened in the past year: I’m still in the same apartment, I’m technically still working in the same position, and I’m still very single. But when you start peeling back the layers, it gets trickier. My apartment has been painted and I’ve finally put in the first order for grown-up furniture, starting with the most important upgrade from a full-sized bed to a queen. I’ve moved jobs, and while I’ve dated here and there in the past year, 2015 is the year of LB, no distractions, no empty promises from boys masquerading as men, just me. So is that tangible growth, noticeable progress, something I can feel proud of? Maybe. Or maybe not. It depends on who you ask.

When I woke up on April 21, 2014, I remember running my hand through my freshly-dyed red hair, still getting used to no longer seeing a blonde in the mirror as I had my entire life. I remember grabbing a hair tie and making my way into the living room, where I unrolled my as-then never-been-used yoga mat, releasing a faint hint of new rubber into the cool spring air, and searched “Yoga Challenge” on YouTube, hoping to find something that would keep me motivated for the next month to work out. I remember feeling so awkward in all the poses at first, holding my breath when things were difficult and trying to keep up with the instructor, who seemed so impossibly flexible that I almost quit halfway through the twenty-minute workout. I didn’t pick up yoga because I wanted to learn how to do splits and backbends and headstands; I didn’t have any ambitions to use the practice as a way to calm the anxiety that’s plagued me for years, never imagined that yoga would be an integral tool in finally kicking anorexia to the curb. On April 21, 2014, after I made it through the first video (barely), the only thing I really wanted from yoga was to be able to touch my toes.

When I woke up on April 21, 2015, I ran my hair through my desperately-in-need-of-a-touch-up red hair that fades to pink, and pulled it into the familiar top bun, laughing at the emerging blonde roots, a memory that feels both so recent and so long ago. I picked my favorite mat from the now four that I own, and turned on one of my many yoga playlists, letting the music run through me while I breathed through a flow that I made up as I went along, finishing with a backbend sequence and practicing forearm stands, which I’m finally getting the hang of after months of serious practice. I lay in savasana on my mat, taking a few minutes to enjoy the quiet of the low music and the calm of my mind, ignoring the chirp of my phone with my daily bank account summary update, reminding me to put money away this week for yoga teacher training next year. When I stood up from that final rest, feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything, I smiled a little and added one extra stretch: resting my hands flat on the floor behind me, grabbing my toes on the way down, just for fun.

This isn’t the first big “milestone” anniversary that I’ve talked about on this blog – one year in Washington Heights in March 2014, one year single this past November – but it’s the first one where I feel like I can look back and there is real, tangible progress. I can get into splits, and backbends, and headstands. I can see the change in my body, always slim but infinitely more powerful, now that it’s been nurtured in the past year with good food and positive energy. My life looks similar but is so radically different from where I was a year ago due entirely to yoga. Yoga has given me an ambition I never knew I had, it’s given me a positive goal and a continuous path towards improvement. Yoga has made me simultaneously more confident and more humble, it’s taught me to celebrate the little victories instead of dwelling on the “if only” that can shadow any accomplishment. In the past year, I’ve had my heart broken by a Child and let myself fall in a low kind of love with a weekend and the idea of What If. I’ve struggled professionally and I’ve struggled personally, I’ve had days where I feel like I’m flying and days where it takes every piece of me just to get out of bed without falling apart. But I’ve had yoga through all of this encouraging me, waiting for me on the days I just couldn’t bring myself to get on the mat, and cheering me on from the first day I touched my toes, through this morning, where I held a forearm stand with almost a semblance of ease.

Tuesday celebrated the day where I finally found something I didn’t even know was missing, a piece of me that’s as essential as my nose or my red hair. It’s no seafood tower and hazelnut dessert, and I didn’t come home to lilies after a long day at work on Tuesday, just little miss sleeping under my yoga mat. But it’s the most powerful anniversary of any that I’ve celebrated, exact, approximate or otherwise, because it’s the first time I’m celebrating growth in my life which comes solely from decisions, choices and actions that are entirely personal. So happy anniversary, yoga. Thank you for changing my life so completely, thank you for taking the parts of me I disliked for so long and giving me confidence, focus, ambition, direction and so much more. Thank you for finding me when I so desperately needed something to give me something to feel good about in a life that felt like it wouldn’t stop dealing punches like playing cards. Here’s to the first year together, and to every year to come.

The light in me recognizes and honors the light in you. Namaste.

*And actually, my birthday does fall on a National Holiday this year, so thanks Obama!!

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Ctrl + Alt + Reboot

I spent more time complaining last week than probably anything else (except working). I complained because I was sore from a tough yoga class last Sunday, and then I complained because I wasn’t doing yoga. I complained because I was stressed out at the office, and then complained even more because I couldn’t soothe the stress with a glass of wine. I complained because I’m trying to figure out my budget for the next six months and don’t know that I can reconcile another plane ticket for something I absolutely don’t want to miss. I tried to stay on the good side of positive, holding on to the Weather Channel’s promise of a beautiful weekend and a chance to catch up on sleep as the hallmark of my complaining streak to end, but by Friday night I was in no mood for anything that wasn’t sitting on my couch after a late night in the office, coconut water in a wine glass pretending it was the same (it wasn’t), hoping that my neighbors would turn down the music so I could sleep away the week and wake up on Saturday in a new attitude.

This weekend was exactly what I needed after a full week of seemingly non-stop complaining. I had long-standing plans with my partner-in-crime R to test out a Bikram yoga class (that’s the hot one), and my lovely friend M had been looking forward to Saturday, where she hosted two classes about the wonder of essential oils. Both things were massive successes in such minor ways. The Bikram studio R attends was so welcoming and enthusiastic, and despite sweating through everything I wore for the rest of the day, I felt amazing: stretched out more thoroughly than ever before, and proud, because I tried the class, made it through, and even saw some crazy improvements in backbends by the end. The oils class was even more interesting, because even though I’ve been using essential oils for years, I didn’t know a quarter of what M and her cohost share with us, like how oregano oil is as powerful as penicillin as an antibiotic, or how lemon oil on the side of your nose can help with congestion. After all the classes were over, M and I sat on her couch and just chilled for an hour, talking about the day and drinking seltzer until it was far past my bedtime, and I walked the two blocks home with the kind of smile that comes from a really satisfying day.

There’s something really nice about having plans to look forward to on Whole30, since it’s totally different from the “typical” weekend plans. I mean don’t get me wrong, when R and my fashionista C started putting up Insta-photos of their Saturday night I had the WORST pang of FOMO flood my brain, desperately missing the nights where we all go out for dinner and see what happens, never knowing if I’ll end up home by midnight, tired and a little buzzed, or if I’ll wake up on R and H the Scot’s floor, still in my party clothes with contacts in shot glasses next to my head. But in this case, after a full week of complaining and crankiness, it was really nice to know I had fun activities to look forward to that were more than “buy more vegetables and eggs and prep enough food to feed a hungry girl for the week.” Maybe it’s a sign of growing up that I can plan things for weekends that don’t involve terrible decisions. Although on that same token, I can always just plan on the healthy things and have a drink after to celebrate.

For whatever reason, there are a lot of milestones coming up in the next week, including a super major massive one tomorrow for me. I’ve actually been looking forward to this week for a while: it’s the home stretch for Whole30, the weather is finally turning around from cold and dreary to lukewarm, though still dreary today. We’re about to start a six-month period of big things, as tomorrow marks an anniversary of when everything started happening, and the new beginnings coming up soon are too numerous to try and mention. A little reboot of my life and my attitude was a good prescription for a crappy attitude, complaining about everything instead of celebrating everything that’s just around the corner. Of course, I’m still going to complain when I’m stuck in the office without snacks again, or when I see someone eating a Twix in front of me (“ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME.”), but I’ll do my best to keep it to myself for a little while. If almost passing out in a Bikram class or spending two hours covered in potent oils taught me anything on my long Saturday, it’s that staying in the present moment, with a deep breath and a smile, will come back to you threefold over complaining about the same thing, one more time and again.

Chronicle Q&A

Thank you to everyone that texted, emailed and otherwise asked questions after my adorably written plea for material. Since I said all of the sappy stuff yesterday on the real anniversary, let’s just get straight to the inquisition! From my heart and my keyboard to your screen, I hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at my Chronicle of a 20-whatever,

Q: What made you decide to start a blog?
A: This is a difficult question to answer, because honestly I’ve always had some form of a blog. I had a Livejournal in high school (it was 2004, everyone did it), a blogger site in the early city years, even another public blog for about 6 months in 2013. I also have a personal journal I’ve been writing in since 2008. I’ve always felt compelled to write; writing calms me down and makes me feel like I understand what’s going on around me, even though that’s almost definitely never true.

What made me decide to start this blog was realizing that I was getting myself into all of these hilarious and absurd situations, and going through all of these growing pains and all of this emotional turmoil, simply trying to navigate the city as a mid-20s single person. For a really long time it felt like a terrible and shameful thing that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but then I noticed I was having a freaking BLAST at life and I didn’t care that I was bad at it. Apparently sucking at life is a part of your 20s, so why not share my struggles with people going through the same thing?

My goals have always been to overshare as much as possible while still knowing that family and coworkers read this; and to put out posts that are relatable to anyone, whether you’re single in your 20s, married in your 30s, or my grandmother, who’s almost 90 but still tells me all the time how much she loves the blog. Even though tbh she can’t work a computer and has probably never seen this before (If I’m wrong, hi Meems!).

Q: How do your friends feel about being included in your stories?
A: Great question. They hate it.

Just kidding! I think. I hope? In all seriousness, no one has complained, to me at least. Do they love being included in my Friendly Conversations round-ups or my expert recapping of our Epic Sunday Funday PLDs? Probably not. But they all read and love the stories, with a high-five and a shout-out to R, H and C, who are unquestionably my biggest fans and the instigators and/or bystanders for most of my best material.

That said, my goal in writing all this is to make sure things stay focused on me, because at the end of the day, it’s not a blog about anyone else. I’m not speculating on my friend’s relationships or how they feel when I show up late somewhere (again) or forget plans (again) or embarrass them in public (again). With that distinction, I think if you look at the blog from a big picture perspective, all of my stories that involve friends are meant to celebrate the role the Nickname Posse plays in my life. They’re the tough love-givers, the ones who pop a dream bubble that they can see turning into a nightmare, the ones that hold my hair back when I’m throwing up in the street (I mean what? that never happened) and the ones who hold me back when I’m about to do something I’ll regret. They’re the most important people in my life, and my Chronicle doesn’t exist without them.

So do they love it all the time? Probably not, but at least on their side, the good far outweighs the embarrassing.

Q: What are the best and worst parts about having a blog?
A: Honestly, the worst part about having a blog is, in fact, having a blog. I very naively did not think ahead and realize how much writing and moderating would penetrate my daily life. When I first started putting the site together, I was at a job which didn’t keep me too busy, plus I hadn’t settled into single life, plus I thought I had a lot to say. So the first few weeks, I wrote a lot of content in between tasks at work, and assumed it would always be that easy. Pro tip: THAT IS FALSE. Keeping up with the blog, in terms of inspiration for posts, writing said posts in a coherent way, and then editing them to be blog-ready, is really freaking hard. I’m more than a little surprised I’ve been able to keep it up for this long, given my track record.

Having said that, the best part about having a blog is having a blog. I love having a place to share all my opinions and musings and tales from weekend PLDs. I love writing and having people respond. I love hearing from people who really connect with something I’ve put out there, especially when I’ve wrestled with whether to share that information. I love friends referencing the blog in daily conversations and I love that they support this crazy space no matter what. I hope I can keep it up in the years to come.

Q: You seem to have some really pointed references in some of the posts. Are those meant for particular people? 
A: I can’t pull out any examples here without outing people, so I have to dance around this a little bit. I won’t admit to posting content specifically for a person, but I will say this much: every word on this blog is deliberate. If you read something and think, “Hm, that’s oddly specific. I wonder if it’s meant for someone…” the answer is probably yes.

Q: Can you reveal any of the cryptic hints/secrets from posts in the past?
A: Fair follow-up. I try not to be cryptic when it comes to things that affect me directly, and only me, but if I’m referencing someone else who (a): hasn’t consented to the story being public, or (b): may not read the blog and know what’s up there, I try not to divulge too much. I can’t go into big secrets, like identities or anything, but I’ll divulge a few fun tidbits:

  • Here’s what really happened on the Weirdest Day Ever: My ex-boyfriend (the big one) requested to follow me on Instagram, a high school boyfriend sent me something on Facebook, my college boyfriend was apparently creeping on my LinkedIn profile, the guy that I’d recently met and really liked (despite his inconveniently living across the pond) sent me a text after a few days of silence, and then I heard from The Child for the first time since everything between us went down. That shit was seriously cray.
  • The infamous Dating Confessions and booty-call posts are in reference to the same person BUT he wasn’t involved in the weird day above.
  • The Crush and Rebound posts are also inspired by the same person, but he isn’t ANY of the guys above. (Though Confessions has a cameo in Rebound).
  • In the PLD Montage: Austin edition, I will admit that the “beard burn” quote was mine.
  • And just for fun: the commenter labeled “Dave” on the Sister Wives post is actually N. Which I knew, clearly. We also went out later that night for his birthday and he spilled the beans twice that it was him. Oh, hubs.

Q: Are the initials for the Nickname Posse their actual initials? Also, are yours really LB?
A: This is a surprisingly hard question to answer. Everyone’s initials are connected to their name, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s initials are their first name, or even last name. You’d be surprised how many friends I have with names that start with “M.”

But yes, my real initials are LB. LEB, in full.

One Year!!

I remember exactly where I was on this day last year. I was at my then-desk, trying to fill the slow hours of one of my final days in that company before starting at the place I’ll be leaving for good in two days. I was still reeling from one of the most ridiculous weekends I’d had with my as-then-single partner-in-crime R, and secretly texting the Banker, the first crush I’d had since my as-then-still recent big break-up. I looked the final draft that I’d been working on for the entire day for the hundredth time, took a deep breath, and pushed “Publish” without looking at the screen, like I couldn’t believe I’d just took the first step in starting a blog that I’d unofficially decided would focus on all the dumb things I do in my daily life. I let out that deep breath and took a minute to sit and stare at the screen, hoping that I’d have enough to talk about to keep a blog, and praying to whatever god was listening that I knew what I was getting myself into.

I never could have expected how much would happen in 2014: engagements, weddings, a new relationship, another break-up and the slow integration of yoga into my life. When I hit that button on the first entry last year, I thought if I could keep the blog going for six months, I’d be proud of myself; then it was nine months, and now here we are, one year and 133 entries later. In a year I’ve talked about booty calls and sexting, about my love for Taylor Swift and what to do when you accidentally step in sidewalk pee. I’ve shared pictures without my face and almost flashed a boob trying to show off the tattoo I’d dreamed of getting for years. I’ve hinted at the beginnings of new crushes and first dates, and I’ve not-so-subtly hinted when things ended, sometimes easily and sometimes not so much. I’ve blogged through hangovers, Spartan Race- and/or yoga-related injuries, deep depression and the peak of happiness, and I’ve shared snippets of my daily life and daily conversations that made me smile, hoping it does the same for everyone who reads them.

For 2015, I’m faced with: a new job, bridesmaid/maid-of-honor duties, exponentially more engagements and maybe a date here and there. I’m sure there will be more terrible decisions, ones that make me sad and others that make me laugh. I think on some level, I started this blog because I thought it would help me make sense of a life that seemed to be changing with every sunrise, maybe bring some order into a chaotic life. Now I can’t wait for the next year to unfold; the uncertainty and the chaos mixed with moments of self-reflection and perhaps a little bit of calm.

I’ve said it recently, but it can never be said enough: I am so, so grateful to anyone reading this right now, whether you’ve been following me for five days or five months, whether you’ve watched the story from day one or whether you’re only here because Google fucked up and you were trying to find actual advice about living life as a 20-whatever. If the latter, though – the best advice I can give you is none of us know what we’re doing, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

I look forward to sharing the next year with every single one of you.

Much love,
LB

A letter and a request

Dear readers,

Two weeks from tomorrow will be the official one-year celebration of the Chronicle. WUT. I know. Pause for incredulity that it’s been that long, it’s only been that long and that I haven’t given up on writing about (/making) drunk mistakes. It’s crazy to go back and see how things in my life have evolved and continue evolving, and I am so grateful to everyone who reads, whether you’ve been following since the beginning or you stumbled upon this today.

In honor of 365 days of PLDs, I want to give you guys a chance to have a voice on here. So if you’ve ever had a burning question for me, here’s your chance to ask! Leave a comment here, send me an email (LBth20whatev@gmail.com), tweet at me (@LBthe20whatev), send a carrier pigeon up to Washington Heights and hope for the best, whatever works. I’ll post the final Q&A during week of the anniversary and will do my best to answer every single one.

There’s a big post coming up later this week, so don’t forget to check back when you can. And thank you all again – truly, watching this place grow in 12 months has been one of the highlights of a very long year.

xo,
LB

That S&!t cray.

Tuesday was officially the weirdest day of my life.

Okay maybe that’s a generalization. I mean, it probably doesn’t beat the traditional weird factor, like that time a dude in the Flatiron wearing a feather headdress followed me for 5 blocks while quacking. Or that time in college I woke up in my roommate’s bed alone without pants and minus a phone. Or any of the times I accidentally got on an empty subway train (non-NYers: unless you’re at the very first stop for a train, NEVER. TRUST. EMPTY. SUBWAYS.). And back to Tuesday, aside from a quick stop at my lovely friend M’s place to play dogwalker, I didn’t stray from my normal routine of wake up, yoga, work, go home, yoga, sleep. But looking at the events pragmatically, between the hours of 8am and 8pm that day, a lot of freaking weird things happened to me.

Truth be told, I’ve been in a strange mood for the last few weeks. It’s like a combination of nostalgia and trepidation, a heady mix of the past, present and future. Maybe it’s that my birthday is in two weeks, which means summer is over; maybe it’s remembering the tumultuous nature of my life last fall. Maybe it’s that I’m only a few months away from celebrating my one-year anniversary as single LB, spotlighting how much someone and some things can change in a year and then again, how much can stay the same. Maybe it’s something strange in how the stars are aligned or maybe it’s something else entirely. It’s been an odd few weeks though, all of which culminated on Tuesday into one of the weirdest days I’ve had in 2014. Unfortunately, I can only go into so many details, bound by a self-imposed code that some things here stay cryptic, but just to be clear: that shit was cray.

In just twelve hours on Tuesday, I was confronted in a variety of ways with a few very distinct aspects of my life: high school, college, early New York, this past spring and the past three weeks. Pieces of my story that I’ve long stopped thinking about suddenly surfaced with a gasping breath, parts of my life I thought I wanted to keep private had a request to go public, and the realization that the wall I’ve tried to build around myself in the past four months isn’t as strong as I want it to be; this was all wrapped into those 12 hours, leaving me simultaneously very amused and very overwhelmed. Combined with a setback at the office which put my confidence into a tailspin, and here I am, two days later, still feeling weird.

A few weeks ago someone told me that weird doesn’t have to mean bad. “It’s like caviar,” he said. “Caviar is freaking weird, but it’s also pretty good.” Normally I would have considered all of this weirdness to be the epitome of the Bad, putting me into the kind of tailspin I can’t pull out of without more time, something I have in short supply only these days. But Caviar has a point above: all things considered, the weird things were also kind of good. It’s nice to think or hear you might be on someone’s mind, even if (or especially) you haven’t thought about that person in a long time. It was funny that everything happened in such a short (yet infinitely long) period of time. But honestly, it was really weird to have so many ridiculous scenarios present themselves within twelve hours, rather than spread out over a few days to save time for a glass of wine or two with M in between, allowing us the chance to obsess and overanalyze.

I keep setting these “deadlines” in my life, an idea of when things will finally stop moving at lightspeed and finally start making sense. First it was after Austin in July (nope), then it was early August (nope) and recently it’s been September, which is turning into another big Nope. I feel like my life has been weird since May, filled with things I wasn’t expecting, then things I can’t explain, then situations I can’t crawl out of, and finally back to things I’m not expecting. I don’t see anything calming down in the near future, as I have defined plans every single weekend through mid-October. Maybe these past few months are a lesson in the mixed caviar of life, taking it for the weirdness and the goodness it brings to myself and my character, and maybe I’ll stop waiting for things to make sense. After all, it wouldn’t be a very interesting blog if, at the end of the day, I didn’t sometimes have to shake my head at my circumstances, and sigh a big “That shit cray.”

An Anniversary

Eight people, one dog. 5 bottles of wine, 24 beers, two cheeses and an apple. A picnic in the park, Ralph Lauren tapestry, perfect spring afternoon, surrounded by budding flowers, bare trees and the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson, a quiet reminder that we were still in the city, despite the eerie calm and open space around us, the only ones on that lawn, soaking in the sun after such a long winter.

basically heaven

basically heaven

I decided to put aside the standard cry for PLDmaking activities this weekend and take the weekend to relax in my neighborhood, wandering between my apartment and 11 blocks down with my lovely friend M, our weekend routine of gym, then cleaning, then rewatching the most recent How I Met Your Mother. We did take a few hours on Saturday to round up the troops and put together a celebratory picnic in the park, an impromptu feast pulled from M’s fridge. Though never ones in need of an excuse to picnic and drink, we wanted a few minutes to enjoy our surroundings, toasting our plastic glasses of screw-top vino in celebration of my first year living alone in the Heights.

Anniversaries come and go, but the one I celebrated this weekend was especially noteworthy, seeing as I was never supposed to be in Washington Heights for more than a year. I could sit and list the wonderful characteristics about my neighborhood, like the music that swells from 11 a.m. on Saturday till 11 p.m. on Sunday, a constantly cheery soundtrack to a sunny, almost-spring weekend. Or Fort Tryon, the hidden gem uptown, all the beauty of Central Park with none of the crowds, a view of the GWB and the Cloisters instead of skyscrapers. Or even the wonderful pocket of restaurants on 181st, everything from pasta to paella, all made with love. I could list these and keep going: the people, the places, the culture, the crazy.

No, I think instead I’ll keep some of the memories from this weekend to myself, a personal reflection on the impact of choices and changes in just 365 days. And who knows if I’ll be celebrating again next year, or what I’ll be celebrating at this time next year. If it’s half as wonderful as a picnic in the park with the people (and dog) I love, that have held my hand, head and heart up any time I’ve asked and even when I haven’t, enveloped in the fuzzy warmth of Rioja in plastic cups, I’ll be completely satisfied.