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.

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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
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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.

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.

PLD Montage: Vol. 2.2 (Whole30 Edition)

30 days is not a long time, all things considered. Breaking it down, it’s four weeks at work and four weekends, it’s two paychecks, and maybe four trips to the grocery store. But when you’re on Whole30, those days break out a little differently. That’s 90 meals that need to be planned, prepped and consumed all on my own. That’s four weekends of no wine, four weeks of no chocolate, and two paychecks largely sacrificed to food-related purchases. It’s 30 days where you feel sick, and bloated, and depressed, and over it for a large portion of the time; it’s four weeks of your brain taunting you with all the things you “can’t” have and maybe a night or two where you dream about swimming in a pool filled with pinot noir.

But it’s only 30 days. And in those 30 days, there are a lot of things you can learn. SO without further ado, I give you:

PLD Montage: Whole30 Edition:

  • After some back-and-forth on the exact start date, my lovely friend M, who was joining me in this round, and I decided we’d start on Monday, March 30. The way I saw it at the time, I had two big “tests” during the month – dinner with a client, and my grandmother’s 90th birthday party – and the rest of the time would be smooth sailing. Work was supposed to calm down after the insanity of March (March Madness, if you will), I had zero plans on the weekends aside from the aforementioned birthday party… what could possibly go wrong, right?
    Lesson learned: Always expect the unexpected.
  • In preparation for the 30 days ahead, I spent a lot of time reading about what to expect throughout the process. I read the Whole30 timeline, read people’s reviews online, asked M and G more about their experiences, and generally thought that I’d done a bang-up job preparing for the month ahead. The more I prepped, admittedly the more I thought I’d “probably just skip” some of the early unpleasantness, like carb flu and any gastrointestinal weirdness. I mean, my diet was pretty aligned to the lifestyle anyway. Was I really eating that much sugar, in the form of work chocolate and wine, to affect me in any noticeable way?
    Lesson learned: You are not the exception to the rule, snowflake. Also CARB FLU IS A REAL AND TERRIBLE THING.
  • On Day 13, I just felt crappy. I’d been dealing with the stress of my grandmother in the hospital/nursing center and trying to help my mother through that time, plus a stressful time at work. I hadn’t seen a single improvement in 13 days of eating foods that were starting to bore me – my skin didn’t look better, my energy was steady but not great, I was still sleeping poorly and if anything, I felt like my yoga performance was getting worse, not better. I was in Connecticut at the time, surrounded by my parent’s incredible wine collection and take-out pizza from my favorite place in the world, and all I had to eat were chicken sausages, sweet potatoes and kale. If there was a single moment this month where I wanted to quit, dear god, it was that one.
    Lesson learned: Putting seltzer in a wine glass and going to the wine cellar to stare at all the bottles actually helped get me through that moment. I swear one of the bottles of Three Sticks was telling me “it’s only two more weeks…”
  • On Day 30, I woke up at 5:45 with a ton of energy, checked Instagram (duh) and hopped out of bed. I made myself a delicious breakfast, packed a big lunch, and checked the fridge to confirm I had enough leftovers from Sunday for dinner. I practiced a little yoga, opening up my shoulders and back for the long day ahead at a desk, and then went into a forearm stand, a pose that I’ve been working on for months, and one I set as a goal to master during Whole30. I smiled as I eased out of the pose, got dressed and quickly checked my schedule to confirm when I’d be able to pop out to Chelsea Market for a bottle of wine to open in celebration tomorrow night.
    Lesson learned: It’s about the journey, for sure, but the destination is pretty sweet too.

It’s been a whirlwind experience, to say the least, and it’s crazy to think it’s just because I tweaked my eating habits for 30 days. I’ve learned a lot about myself on this Whole30, in ways I never expected. I’ve learned that I can and should eat a lot more food than I was eating before, because even doubling my portions hasn’t caused any weight gain that I can tell. I’ve learned that I am mentally stronger than I’d imagined, passing on my favorite foods free in the office kitchen, passing up the best bottles of wine from my parent’s cellar, and passing the candy drawer at work multiple times daily. I pushed myself to try new things and found so much happiness in the little victories, like falling under the spell of Bikram yoga after managing not to pass out in the standing postures, and buying unusual produce to challenge myself, like golden beets and funny-colored squash. I learned that I love foods like olives and beef bone marrow, and most of all, I learned that I can cope with some heavy things on my own, not buoyed by the comfort of a drink or a brownie.

People keep asking me now that the Whole30 is over whether I’d ever do another one. That answer changed daily throughout the past month, one day a resounding “DUH I FEEL LIKE SUPERWOMAN” and the next a loud “HELL to the no.” The answer today is “Definitely, but not for a while.” Because the most important lesson I learned? I could live without dairy, grains, legumes and sugar for the rest of my life. But god dammit, I love a good glass of wine.

Someday.

I slowly climbed out of my tip-tall nude heels I’d never worn before, toes aching from being cramped in a stiletto for eighteen hours, and sat on the couch with my nose buried into the cat’s fur. She squirmed out of my arms, stared at me for a minute, and then snuggled into the crook of my neck, barely moving as my tears from exhaustion, frustration, and aforementioned toe pain landed on her tiny forehead, drip, drip, drip. The clock said 1 a.m., but it felt more 4, like the weekends after a full night at the bar, where you’re so tired that the only thing left to do is hang out on the fire escape and watch the sun come up, cigarette smoke streaming like a wisp of a memory and a song. With a sigh that spoke of late nights since February and the general frustration of being an adult, I mustered just enough energy to pick myself up off the couch, brush my teeth, and leave a trail of clothes towards my bedroom, one shoe, dress, jacket, before climbing into bed and staring at the ceiling, waiting for sleep that would be rudely interrupted in less than five hours.

Someday. Someday is a word I tell myself a lot lately. “Someday, work won’t be this busy” and “Someday, I’ll be able to hold that yoga pose,” “Someday I’ll get back on a regular blogging schedule” and “Maybe I’ll find someone who can handle my crazy, someday.” Someday is one of those words that implicitly comes with hope and a promise; it’s like the big unknowable, be-all and end-all date where all the little frustrations resolve themselves, and everything finally feels like it fits. Someday can be every day and it can be a day that doesn’t exist at all, or it can be a series of maybe-days that come to fruition when you least expect. I try not to think in maybes, preferring instead the cool promise of a deadline I can see, but when deadlines are pushed, or they’re ignored, I’m just back to playing Russian Roulette with my sanity; one word and a follow-up email and the loaded chamber of stress and anxiety explodes. Someday is a promise that I’ve been making to myself for the past year or so, and yet Someday keeps running away from me, further, further, taunting me that I’ll get to it, some day.

This week I’ve been feeling like there’s something missing, or something that I miss, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. I’ll feel a sharp pang of nostalgia right across my stomach but it’s not directed at anything, as though I’m longing to find a time where things were different, but then again, I don’t know what in my life now I’d want to change. Maybe I miss the mornings where my body would sleep in an extra 20 minutes, but I love to start my day with a few stretches on the mat, breathing deeply and finding clarity in a few moments of uninterrupted peace. Maybe I miss the job where I was out by 6 every night, but I’ll take a few late nights in the office in exchange for like-minded people and projects I actually enjoy. Maybe I miss the days where I didn’t worry all the time about everything, did I pay that bill? how am I supposed to afford a flight this summer when I can barely afford my rent? will I even have time to plan T’s shower if I keep working like this? But then I look at my beautiful little apartment and this life I’ve built for myself in the city, and I know for a fact I wouldn’t change a damn thing. So maybe it’s not nostalgia that’s keeping me in the realm of the Someday, but if that’s not it, then there’s still something gnawing at me like a rabid animal, tearing into my subconscious with a sing-song promise that there are better days ahead, Someday.

Sometimes I think my life has figured itself out, a solved 1000-piece frame I can hang on the wall of Adulthood with pride, but sometimes it feels as kinked as my curls, falling in waves over my shoulders, down my back. I can fix a running toilet or a clogged sink, kill a bug with only minimal screeching and cook healthy food like a boss, but I can’t bring myself to tackle the pile of clothes that’s rapidly growing in the corner of my living room, just sheltered enough from view that I can pretend it doesn’t exist. I can lead a call with a client, and hold down the fort while my bosses are in meetings with important people, but I still can’t figure out how to eat lunch at my desk without spilling food all over myself. This weird period in my life, the past three months really, have been a series of these moments, where I’m a grown-up one minute and I need an adult the next. I don’t really know how to end this post; I haven’t learned any lessons and frankly I’m sure you’re all as sick of reading my “woe is me and my life” stories as I am of writing them. So maybe the only way to end is with a promise: things are going to get better, and everything will fall into place. I can’t tell you when, of course, but I promise it’ll happen Someday.

Charmed, I’m sure

A few months back, I was rifling through an old jewelry box while at my parents’ in Connecticut one weekend, and found an old charm bracelet that my parents bought me in middle school. The bracelet itself is flooded with memories, the afternoon my family went down to New York City to shop in the jewelry district and stop at our favorite deli for lunch; how I felt so mature with a real gold bracelet on my wrist, the charms chiming softly as my wrist swayed during the brisk walks along the busy New York Streets. Since I never remember to pack jewelry when I travel, I put it on that afternoon before meeting an old friend for a drink, and eventually made my way back to the city with it dangling on my wrist. It’s worked its way into my everyday accessories slowly, I started wearing it once a week, then a few times, and I’ve noticed now I reach for it almost every day; it’s as integral to my daily routine as grabbing my watch and its now conspicuous in its absence on the days I don’t fasten it. I know the three little charms like the back of my hand – a silver apple, an elephant, and a guardian angel – but it wasn’t until this morning that I remembered why I’d chosen those charms nearly 15 years ago.

Our tastes in everything change constantly, from fashion to food to the people we date. Sometimes I’ll notice I’m in a pink phase, pink hair, pink shoes, pink necklace, and then just a week later looking at pink makes me cringe. For years I couldn’t stand the taste of olives, always trying one when offered but decidedly disliking everything about them until about a year ago, when all of a sudden they became one of my favorite snacks. It certainly applies to the dating pool as well. Now that I’m a few months into a year where I’ve sworn off dating, I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what I might want if I ever decide to date, and it’s almost funny the things that are important to me now that weren’t even on my radar a year ago, like “Must do yoga” and “Must be comfortable with multiple cats.” It’s normal and wonderful to have tastes change, evolve, go somewhere new, and it makes looking back on things, like a tiny elephant I had to have on my bracelet so long ago, really fun.

There’s something nice about the changing tide of likes, dislikes, wants, needs. It’s a part of growth and learning, adapting to new circumstances and all that good stuff. But then again, I’m a creature of habit in many areas, and change is a scary thing. It’s not to say I’m terrified because I’m a fan of olives now, but sometimes, when confronted with so many changes in a period of time, it’s almost difficult to recognize yourself. Last year at this point, I was in a still-new job, things had just faded with The Banker and I had noticed that a cute subway stranger seemed to be on the same train every morning. I didn’t know my ass from my asana, I was rocking some bright blonde hair and I was doing everything I could to wear short sleeves in early spring so I could show off my third tattoo, the newest in my collection. I had totally different ambitions for my life; I had a totally different perspective on what would make me happy, which at the time I thought was “someone else” and “more wine.” It can be panic inducing to realize things evolve without you noticing, and it can be scary to think what it could be like if you ever run into someone who knew what is now the “old” you, how they might react or what they might think.

As my five-year college reunion rapidly approaches, these are the thoughts running through my mind: good change, bad change, so many changes, so many things the same. Next month I’ll see people who I cried with and hugged at graduation and then haven’t seen since, people who don’t know anything aside from what pops up on Facebook. I was running around this morning, trying frantically to do yoga, pack for the weekend, make breakfast, prep lunch/dinner and check email in under an hour, when I stopped and looked at my bracelet quickly. The silver apple hit the light at the perfect angle to spark through my memory and remind me why on earth I thought an apple charm was something special enough to include on my grown-up bracelet. It’s because all those years ago, I shyly told our friend in the Jewelry District that when I grew up, I wanted to live in New York City. He gave me a big smile at this and handed me the charm. “Here’s something to remind you of the Big Apple,” he said, gently putting the bracelet on my wrist. “Now you’ll always remember where you want to be.”

I smiled this morning as I watched the charm dangle on the subway ride, a reminder of how many things change and yet how everything stays the same. I’ve been so looking forward to Reunion next month, a chance to show off all the new tattoos, the red hair, the yoga muscles I’ve worked so hard for this year; a chance to show off how much I’ve changed since the 21 year old who left campus in tears on a sunny Monday in May. Or maybe they’ll look at me and see the exact same person, the loud girl who talks too fast and smiles all the time (usually). Either way, I know for sure, they’ll see a girl with a little charm bracelet, the same bracelet that went from Connecticut in 2001, through Virginia till 2010, and is now back to where it came from in NYC.

26 going on 4

You know how you can’t rationalize with toddlers? You can tell them eating paste is bad, screaming in public isn’t polite, and they’ll get ice cream once they finish their veggies, but inevitably you’ll find one with his mouth glued shut, another screaming on a crowded subway and another dissolved in tears over two pieces of broccoli. You know they know better, and you know they’re trying, but it’s frustrating waiting for them to grow up a little and figure it out. When you’re a toddler, you don’t realize what’s happening outside of the three second emotional spectrum, furious one second, thrilled the next. You’re still learning and it’s all so new, and we as adults forgive them that lack of life experience and know it won’t last forever.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t grown out of that phase, stuck making the same mistakes over and over, trying and trying but still metaphorically sticking the paste in my mouth, even though I know it’s going to end with me closed-mouth and screaming. As an adult, I’m supposed to do better, I’m supposed to know better. I mean it when I say things like “I can do better,” but then I don’t do better; I do the same thing, stuck in the same cycle of trying and failing and failing to learn. Maybe it’s immaturity in spite of my 26 years, maybe it’s some links in my brain that had a fight six months ago and refuse to talk it out. Maybe it’s years of bad habits becoming permanent habits, or maybe I’m just not seeing something clearly, and I’m not trying hard enough to open my eyes.

I sat down tonight to write a post about my weekend in Connecticut, a cozy few days isolated from the city hustle, taking in a Saturday matinee by myself and preparing for this week ahead. These are the only words I can call to mind, endlessly frustrated with myself for making a mistake that I’ve made before and from which I thought I’d learned. I debated not posting this, bottling these words in favor of something with sunshine and rainbows, spinning a funny story about a stupid mistake, but it’s just not where my head is these days. My mind isn’t on the big picture, what happens after you eat the paste or how easy it is to eat those last few vegetables; I’m the toddler screaming in Central Park at everything and nothing, emotional and empty somehow at the same time.

I don’t have an encouraging word here, don’t have a funny play on words or acronyms, or quotes that made me think. If there aren’t that many words here this week, just know I’m working on growing up a little in the next few days, showing the people around me I’m capable than so much more than I’ve been giving for far too long.

Quick Thoughts: Milestones

“I just can’t believe she’s getting married! When did we all grow up?!”

My beautiful, wonderful, inspiring childhood friend said Yes this weekend. She wore a lovely white dress, walked down the aisle of the chapel at her alma mater and took everyone’s breath away, her husband’s most of all. I was thinking about it the previous Thursday at work, as I sorted through logistics of getting back to CT the next day, getting to my goofball J’s place pre-wedding, and most importantly, deciding what I was going to wear. I peeked at her wedding website to confirm exactly when everything would start, and found myself completely overwhelmed with the emotion of the situation ahead, seeing her for the first time in a year, finally meeting her fiance, watching her get married, watching them say yes, and nearly started to cry at my desk.

I signed into Gchat and sent a note to J telling him to prepare himself for some serious waterworks, since I was already teary and have a tendency to cry at weddings for people I love. He made me laugh, like he always does, and I nearly started to cry again, thinking that his own nuptials are likely to happen in the very near future. And my twinster, my T, is setting a date this week, the official date. And all of a sudden it hit me, the sheer volume of all the milestones coming up for my family, my friends, in the next year: graduations, major birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and weddings.

It’s strange, sometimes, knowing I’m the only one in that group, and near the only one in any of my groups, that doesn’t have a milestone of my own to look forward to in the next year. But then again, with all the big moments and overwhelming emotions I’m sure to face in supporting everyone around me, I think it’s plenty enough to be happy for everyone else for now.