advice from the girl in the mirror.

So, confession time. Because I live alone, I find myself talking in the mirror a lot. Like, probably too much. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m bored, and need to hear myself think aloud, or if it’s because it’s easier to talk stuff out when it looks like someone else is telling me about it. Also sometimes when I’m really worked up I get crazy eyes? and actually it’s kind of funny, so all of a sudden whatever worked me up seems funny, and then I feel normal again. Anyway, I digress.

So, last night I was talking to myself in the mirror about the weekend after next, when my E&G will be in NYC for the rescheduled annual girls trip, affectionately referred to as Peace, Love, 403 (it’s a college thing). I’m starting to get a plan in mind for what we’ll do in our precious few days in this city I love, so I was talking pros/cons of various bars we could go to on Saturday night. One that came out as I was brushing my teeth was Village Tavern, and as the words came out I nearly swallowed toothpaste for laughing so hard. “I can’t go back there,” I said into my toothbrush to the girl in the mirror, “I’m too old! Plus, there’s little to no chance I wouldn’t leave there basically blacked out and then feel terrible the next morning slash for the next two days.” Spit, rinse, mouthwash. The girl in the mirror looked back at me still laughing and said “Seriously. You’re enough of a trainwreck, anyway.”

I laughed and continued brushing my teeth, and for a minute the words started to breeze away, until all of a sudden I really heard what had come out of my mouth. I paused briefly and tried to figure out how I felt about those words. Part of me was definitely laughing because they’re true, but the rest of me is confused, slightly. Am I laughing because I’ve just accepted that I’m a mess? Or am I laughing because I’m sick of being a fucking trainwreck, and that’s why I’m so eager for change? It was one of those weird sentences that came out of my mouth before I realized what it meant, and for a few seconds I felt sad. I stared at the girl in the mirror, who had applied a clay mask and sort of looked like a half-formed zombie. “Screw it,” I told her. “ I can handle trainwreck status. Plus it’s not like I didn’t have enough fun to last me a few years in the first six months of 2014 alone.” I went back to the living room to finish up a rerun of The Office while the mask dried, and let all of the odd thoughts that had come to the forefront wash over me in the final stretch to sleep.

The definition of trainwreck in terms of a social life has changed a lot over the years for me, but I think to some extent that’s been my role in my social circle for a long time. It was something I resisted for a long time, and then something I embraced, and now I’m in this weird middle ground where I could be ready to move past it, but one tequila shot at the bar and I’m regressing back to messy LB glory days, slurring and high-pitched yelling-talking and demands that everyone chugs a beer. And when I write it out like that, I know it doesn’t seem like those are glory days, but they felt like it at the time. It’s glory days of spending 10 hours at the same bar with your college girlfriends, drinking wine with your best friend until the restaurant closes and going out until the city shuts down. I suppose I’m a little nostalgic for the days where it seemed like a good idea to get that crazy. Or maybe I’m justifying that I’m still acting like that despite everyone else around me growing up.

Back in my bathroom, I rinsed off the clay mask and took a long, close look at the girl staring back at me, my eyes drifting up to the tiny lines on her forehead that speak to lots of lessons learned in a short period of time. Sighing, I said aloud “I mean, whatever, my skin looks good for 25.” “WAIT what the fuck, 27 you weirdo!” Both sentences shot out of my mouth from me in rapid-fire, and I stared at myself in this moment of amused disbelief before laughing again. It wasn’t a pang of nostalgia for being 25 that brought that thought to the forefront, I think, but the cost of reliving memories from the glory days at Village Tavern and the last official 403 trip in Austin. I thought about that for a final second, or maybe it was an hour, and then shrugged at the girl in the mirror. “Whatever,” she said, before I turned the lights off and finally, finally crawled into my own bed. “You’ll figure it all out. And if you feel sad again, just think: you’re two years older now, but that means our skin looks that much better.”

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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.

Chasing Hummingbirds

A memory came to me recently while finishing up a few tasks at the office one late night. It was a day over the summer at my last job, when one of my bosses took me out for lunch at this adorable cupcake and wine bar on Carmine. Over veggie burgers and iced tea, we caught up on our lives, personal, professional, everything. This was just before everything around me in the fall started imploding, so I remember giving her a smile and saying that I was fine; internally I was running through everything happening in that confusing time, residual anger at The Child, ongoing struggles to keep up at work, and the then-impending one-year anniversary of single LB. I remember my boss nodding as I gave her the typical “I’m going to step it up” speech, and she let me ramble on about goals and such until gently interrupting me to say two things: first, she believed in me and knew that I could do it; and second, she had a question for me: “Are you happy here?

“Are you happy?” is such an interesting and loaded question. In the context above with a boss involved, there is no other answer but “of course!,” whether that’s actually true or not, but in typical context, that’s a question I hear more from Mama B, or my lovely friend M, where I can tell them “maybe” or “I’m not sure.” On the one hand, happiness is the easiest thing in the world. It’s as simple as a smile from the Starbucks barista who is rapidly becoming your best morning friend, or snuggles from a pitbull and a pug before leaving for work in the morning. It’s the steady calm from regular yoga and looking at this life I’ve created for myself, a job I finally love, an apartment that’s all mine, and the understanding of Self that comes with being single for a long time. But on that same token, happiness is fleeting, it’s fickle and scary and it’s hard to hold on to; chasing happiness is like chasing hummingbirds, you see it for a moment and in the three seconds it takes you to run with an outstretched hand, it’s moved on. Asking someone “Are you happy?” is almost a dangerous question, because the answer depends on what’s happened in the past five weeks, four days, three hours, two minutes or even a second before.

I was riding such a high for most of 2015, reaching these yoga goals, recharging my professional life and making the decision to stay away from dating this year in favor of personal improvement. And truly, I think I’m still up there, but my entire routine has been disrupted in three short weeks, and I still haven’t found a time to settle in. This all culminated last week on Friday, leaving the office just before 10, where the rest of my night involved packing to be away from home for 9 days, first staying at D&D’s place to watch their pups while they’re in El Salvador (casual) for the week, and then leaving from there on Saturday for the annual Boston weekend with Mama B and Twinster. It hit me last Saturday night, just before leaving for my fashionista C’s golden birthday celebration, how tired I am and how things aren’t slowing down. Rather than taking this information like an adult, however, I proceeded to drink too much too quickly at the bar, forsaking all memories after about 11pm to the evil clutches of whiskey, and waking up on Sunday with a pounding headache and two dogs looking for breakfast by licking my face. I spent most of the day on the couch feeling terrible: how am I 26 years old and still blacking out like I’m back in college? Have I learned nothing? Why am I doing this to myself? Am I happy?

Last night I was leaving the office on the earlier side from what’s become the norm in the past few weeks, rushing to the Upper East Side in a sleet-storm, pushing through the 6 train crowds like a crazy person. A boss that I’ve worked with before was leaving at the same time, so we walked the short distance to the subway together and took a few minutes to catch up. He’s newer than I am at the new company, so we traded stories from our first few weeks and laughed together at how it’s been so crazy so quickly. We reached the subway, and just before parting ways, he asked me how I was doing with everything. “I know it’s been crazy,” he said, shaking sleet from his coat, “but be honest, LB: are you happy?”

In the two seconds before I answered him, my mind raced to 60 hour weeks, late nights every night, how I haven’t been able to update the blog nearly as often as I’d like and how I’m already so tired and it’s only Wednesday. I thought of so many changes, new responsibilities, new commute, disrupted schedules and everything else from the past month. It’s been crazy, for sure, but I smiled after those two seconds, looked him right in the eye and simply said “Absolutely.”

Quick thoughts: I wear my…

Sunglasses inside. Not a joke. I’m literally sitting half dead on my couch wearing sunglasses and no shirt because the alternative is moving and experiencing excessive amounts of pain.

So my New Year’s Eve was a rousing success! I wore the hell out of a backless jumpsuit, only fell like six times in my tippy-tall heels and I think I kissed a stranger at midnight. Or maybe it was the Nickname Posse. Maybe both? Who knows, Jameson and Patron shots stole the specifics from me. PLDs were made and fun was had by all – couldn’t ask for a better way to start a new year that promises more crazy changes than ever before. I’m so excited to share this journey in the next 12 months and beyond with all of you.

Happy 2015 my lovely readers!

Good chat

At the party this weekend, late into what is technically considered Sunday morning but what we still considered Saturday night, I accidentally bumped into H the Scot while nosing my way through the crowd, in need of another beer. We obviously had the MOST JOYOUS REUNION EVER, despite having been separated for no more than ten minutes, and then segued into a conversation about some entertaining and serious stuff, as it happens after drinking whiskey and wine for 7+ hours. H and I have a tendency to have these intense discussions while we’re smashed somewhere; it’s a quirk we’ve had since the day we met, a warm spring morning drinking leftover red wine on R’s couch, chatting about life while she was occupied elsewhere. Most of the time it’s silly things, conversations we’ve had a million times before, but our Saturday talk has had my head spinning a bit more than usual, even still spinning four days later, because it ends with an unintentional cliffhanger. The noise at Sweet & Vicious made it hard to hear him, the noise plus his accent made it hard to understand him, and the noise, plus the accent, plus the aforementioned 7 hours of drinking made a memory where I can recall one thing he said to me very clearly, and then he said “but” and my memory goes blank.

To clarify, I did not black out on Saturday night. I remember (pretty much) every aspect of getting home, from hailing a cab instead of waiting for an Uber, to stopping at my lovely friend M’s place to pick up everything I’d left there in the afternoon, to a final text exchange with H, where I’m reminded how excited I am that he’s officially forever a part of my life. I remember all of the incredible food from dinner, from the beer-battered lobster to the cupcakes from heaven, the unexpected surprise of college friends I haven’t seen in years, and I remember dancing in the back corner of the bar to all the right music. But I do not remember what came after that “but.” I’ve tried everything I can to remember, which is to say I thought about it really hard for a while and then drank some wine last night hoping it would magically resurface (drunk memory is a real thing, y’all), yet it seems that tiny cliffhanger is set to remain as such. I generally hate spoilers, but I’m just saying, I could use one here.

Now, normally a silly conversation between friends while drinking would not still be on my mind four days after the fact, because normally a silly conversation between friends while drinking amounts to “I SERIOUSLY LOVE YOU SO MUCH” and “BUT LIKE, LITERALLY, YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND.” In this instance, however, I had perhaps been fishing to hear something very specific, something I think I already know, but I still wanted to hear from someone else. I know, I know, it was sneaky of me to spend part of an evening setting up a friend to say something I wanted to hear, and it was even sneakier to do it at his own engagement party, but I actually didn’t intend to bring it up at all throughout the course of the night. It surfaced after he said something offhand about it first, which obviously meant all bets were off, opening the floodgates of speculation, scenario planning and more than one “but do you really think so?”s on my part.

There are girls in this world who don’t need to hear something from someone else for it to be valid, girls who can know something completely enough that they can sit with the information on their own and feel secure. In some aspects of my life, I can be that girl, but in others, I’m the complete opposite; I turn into the one who asks the same question up, down and sideways, the one who says “Are you sure?” as a reaction to everything, the one who wants to believe something really badly but can’t just trust her instincts. I appreciate when friends cater to my self-indulgent need for validation from others, telling me I don’t look puffy following a bad night of sleep (when I totally did), or that my hair doesn’t look like a bad mix of a rat’s nest and a lion’s mane (which it usually does), and that I don’t look ill because I haven’t filled in my eyebrows (IT CHANGES YOUR FACE). But I also appreciate when one of them follows up those words with “but,” because I know they’re about to steer away from what I want to hear into what I need to hear, guiding me off of a fairy tale pedestal into the reality of whatever situation I’m stuck navigating.

Having already discussed the topic to pieces on Saturday, I don’t intend to bring it up again. The words aren’t imperative to my general well-being and to be honest, I think, instinctively, I know where the conversation went after that “but.” I’m sure this weekend or the one after, H and I will find ourselves locked in a conversation in a loud bar somewhere again, maybe shouting “NO SERIOUSLY, YOU’RE THE BEST” and “LEGIT, THIS IS THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD,” and I’m sure a combination of loud noise, a thick accent and a drink (or two) will create another half-memory to ponder while eating chips on my couch the next day. For now, I’ll enjoy the memory for exactly what it is: a sentence I’d been hoping to hear, in a good chat with a great person, in the middle of a night of drinking and dancing, surrounded by all my favorite people and love.