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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Conversations with Myself: Packing

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

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

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

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

….

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

See you next week kids!

Holiday Spirit(s)

It's beginning to look a lot like (a meager) Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like (a meager) Christmas!

Last night, wrapped tightly in a woven Christmas blanket I stole from Mama B over Thanksgiving, I looked around the living room and smiled. I’d spent all of Sunday furiously cleaning my entire apartment so I could put up my meager decorations: a string of lights and garland over the back windows, DIY paper triangle strings along the blue wall above the TV, and a tiny fake tree I bought at Duane Reade in 2011 for $20. It’s not much by way of decorating, but I’ve had them since my days in the Upper East Side, and despite being old and cheap looking, they bring a little bit of holiday into my apartment, even if the only ones who get to enjoy them are little miss and me. I wrapped my hands around the warm mug of cider and whiskey I’d poured earlier and pressed “Play” on my Rudolph claymation DVD, the classic Christmas movie with all my favorite songs, the same one my family watched together every single year growing up, and prepared to recite and sing along to all the words. “Don’t you just love Christmas?” I said aloud to little miss, and she just nudged my hand for another pet before promptly biting one of my fingers. I think that means yes.

My family adores Christmas, and Mama B loves it the most. I mean, she L-O-V-E-S it. She would happily start listening to Christmas music on November 1 if we hadn’t imposed a rule around 15 years ago that she’s not allowed to play it in the house until after Thanksgiving. Even now, it’s practically tradition that the house is blasting her favorite Vanessa Williams album by 7:30 a.m. on Black Friday. Since children aren’t allowed to like things parents like until you grow up and realize how cool your parents are, I tried turning my nose up at all things holiday, scoffing at Mama B’s Christmas-themed wreath pin and Papa B’s ridiculous snowman tie, but even in my most sullen teenage years I couldn’t ever resist the soft glow of the white lights around the trees. I have such wonderful memories our little family traditions, like how my siblings and I would wait at the top of the stairs as children so my parents could “check that Santa came” (/make coffee because it was probably at or before 5 a.m.), or how we wouldn’t open stockings until after church, a tradition that carries into today. Many traditions have stayed the same, like Mama B getting everyone new pajamas on Christmas Eve, but we’ve made some fantastic new ones too, like making sure by 11 a.m., everyone is in possession of holiday spirits.

Not a typo. Spirits, plural. As in, my new favorite thing to do on baby Jesus’s birthday is mix drinks with my family.

It’s hard being home as an adult sometimes. Outside of that house, you’ve got an independent life, where you’re paying bills and working in the real world, and yet somehow the second you’re back sleeping in the no-longer-comfortable twin bed of your childhood, you’re still being scolded for leaving towels on the bathroom floor or sleeping in too late. The holidays can exacerbate this already semi-stressful situation, and we’ve certainly had our share of familial blow-ups over the years. And yet here we are, however many years into adult holidays, and I can’t remember a single one. But I do remember sitting near decanted wine six years ago, a special bottle for the holidays I’d brought back from my time in Argentina, and feeling the tannins coat my tongue, bringing sweet memories of those six months. And I remember my brother and Mama B accidentally spilling Harpoon Christmas Ale everywhere three years ago, after our dog jumped on the big armchair they were sharing and demanded a cuddle. And I remember waking up last year to mugs of D&D’s special slow cooker spiked cider, sipped slowly throughout the morning, aromatic and warming, while we laughed at the familiar jokes in A Christmas Story over and over.

This Christmas season is going to be a little different for my family, as Mama and papa B prepare to spend most of the month in Europe, galavanting across multiple countries, and arriving back home with just enough time to obtain and decorate a tree, and welcome us all for a long holiday break. It’s probably why I’m clinging to cups of warm cider and whiskey in my almost-decorated apartment, and forcing little miss into a Christmas collar that she absolutely hates (pics to follow). So much of my holidays have changed over the years, from feelings on carols to the people I thought I’d be spending it with at this point in my life. But with my family’s track record, we can at least hold on to a few steady pieces of the holiday season: we know Mama will start playing music the moment she can. We know we’ll all be together in matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. And we know we’ll all be toasting our wacky Christmases that are full of surprises with a drink in our hands and lots of love in our hearts.

Come. On.

Guys.

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It’s happening.

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It’s happening again.

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The shower from hell is back.

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Just in case anyone thought I was kidding when I said my shower rains dirt from the ceiling. Because I’m not kidding. And it’s terrible. Omfg. Do you know what it’s like to have to clean your bathroom LITERALLY EVERY TIME BEFORE SHOWERING. I hate cleaning the bathroom. It’s like looking at your feet after walking around the city in flip-flops all day. It’s always grosser than you’re planning for and getting it completely clean takes so much longer than you’re expecting. Allegedly, my building manager is sending a contractor this Friday to fix the problem with more than just caulk and a prayer, as my super has been doing for the past two years. Allegedly.

This is a pretty useless post but I need to immortalize the dirt-raining shower in the extreme hope that this will be the last time I can complain about it ever. There’s a good chance I’ll be live-tweeting the whole process this Friday, so if you don’t follow me yet (@LBthe20whatev), #showergate2014 is going to be a good time to start. Hoping everyone is having a much better (and cleaner) week than I am!

Snow White in the Heights

“Heeey, white girl.”

Tuesday morning while walking to the subway for work, I was fumbling with my phone trying to find a good song on Spotify, when a man walked past and said that to me. I knew immediately that this was one of two things: one, he wanted to let me know I dropped something and/or my dress was tucked in my underwear (… which has NEVER happened before); or two: he was trying to hit on me. I checked my dress (totally fine), kept my eyes ahead and continued walking, and when he didn’t catch up to give me something I’d dropped, I knew it was a catcall.

Truth time: sometimes I don’t mind the catcall. Saying that out loud makes me sound anti-feminist and old-fashioned, I know, but there are instances where catcalls don’t bother me. It’s like men hitting on you in a bar. It’s not always welcome, and it’s not always well-done, but sometimes it’s enough to make you crack a smile and politely walk away, no harm, no foul. The best example is my relationship with the boys that hang out on my block. My ‘hood boys have been fascinated by me since day one, the only white girl on the entire block, and despite knowing my name, they frequently insist on calling me Snow White, like a nickname initiation to their circle.  My boys look out for me, always making sure that I’m okay and I’m safe, and they always, always hit on me. Always. Literally, every time they see me. “Yo Snow White, you wearin’ that dress I like today!” “Hey girl, you get prettier every time I see you.” “Ay rubia, como estas mami.”

The boys know me well enough now to know that I’m never going to accept a date, and I know them well enough to know they’ll never stop asking. Yet I also know that they respect me, they respect my distance, and they have and will do anything to help me if I need it. They’ve stayed with me in the rain outside while I wait for the super to show up and fix my still-broken door, and they’ve helped me get in the building when it’s 3 a.m. and I can’t find my keys. So when one of them calls out “Girl I’d watch you run in them leggings all day,” as I leave for a run, or “Let me carry that for you, angel,” while I juggle groceries and my laptop bag in heels, I generally give them a smile and keep on my way, amused but not offended.

It felt strange that the comment earlier this week irked me in a way most of the Heights calls don’t. I get that I’m the minority in my neighborhood, surrounded by a well-entrenched Dominican community that doesn’t necessarily invite the gentrification rapidly making its way around the Heights. I get that I’m not terrible to look at, and that, to an extent, harmless catcalls are a part of Latin culture. I mean, in just the past week, I’ve been called blanca, snowflake, rubia, sweetie, sexi, mami, and of course, Snow White. Somehow, though, the white girl comment got under my skin: it wasn’t the slightly-stunned reaction of boys who aren’t used to seeing a white girl walking down the street like she lives here (because she does). It wasn’t the mostly-harmless comment of someone who sees me all the time and knows they can joke around with me like that. It was a possessive catcall, the kind you read about in all the articles trying to explain why it’s not a compliment for strangers to shout “que cuerpa, linda!” while you clutch your purse to your side and keep your head down, walking just a little faster home.

I’ve been catcalled every which way, across multiple countries and in every New York neighborhood, and I have no allusions to it ever stopping. That’s not bragging about my appearance, or the way I carry myself, but just a fact because I’m a woman. It happens to all of us, despite your skin color, hair color, what you’re wearing or where you live. It can seem like a sucky and a sexist part of life, and many times it is. It colors the rest of your day, the way you view a neighborhood or a particular location; it’s scary when men follow you and wolf-whistle repeatedly until they have your attention. I acknowledge that, and I’ve experienced that. So though I may get backlash for this next thought, here it is anyway: As scary as it can be, and as much as it shouldn’t happen, in my personal experience, it’s not always intended to be that way, and knowing when to laugh it off versus when to heighten awareness of your surroundings is just another lucky lesson that I’ve had to learn in my adult life.

I walked home Tuesday night, guard up a little higher after the strange morning encounter, and passed my boys outside the building. “Snow White!,” one called out. “You look tired girl! Bad day?”

“Just a long day, glad to be home!” I called back, fishing my keys out of my purse.

They all chimed in, “We’re glad to have you home too, beautiful.” I found my keys, made it to the door and said I’d see them later, feeling secure that if a creep came around they’d look out for me. Despite one of the boys shouting as the door closed behind me “Wanna come home with me later?,” I felt safe in their presence. The words may be scary to some, but sometimes in my neighborhood, the scary words are the ones that let you know you belong, if even just a little.

PLD Montage (Vol. 1)

As we all do, from time to time I have ridiculous moments of questionable decision-origin that perhaps don’t warrant a blog post, nor the time spent on finding the perfect adjective and prose to tell a lesson, but deserve to be shared all the same. The past few weeks in particular in my life have been filled with moments that are embarrassing, and absurd, and so, so LB.

I know, I know.

I know, I know.

From time to time I think I’ll share these, just so I can give a full insight into the hijinks in which I find myself on the reg. Here’s a recent sampling, for your viewing pleasure:

  • I slipped in my shower recently and gave myself a GNARLY bruise directly on my elbow. What I’ve been telling people: that since my bathroom sometimes rains dirt from the ceiling, I had to clean it and probably slipped on leftover bathroom cleaner. What actually happened: I was dancing in the shower and took a spin a little too seriously.
    Lesson learned: You cannot pirouette on one leg while covered in soap. Or honestly, probably ever.
  • The other day I realized the sole of my favorite motorcycle boots had disconnected from the actual shoe. I promised myself I’d superglue it back on until I could get another pair. Then promptly forgot and wore them for the next three days with a broken sole.
    Lesson learned: You will trip up the stairs on the subway and bang your existing elbow-bruise if you try to wear broken shoes in the city.
  • The other day I touched something sticky on the subway, and after some minor gagging I practically ripped my purse apart looking for my hand sanitizer. Half a bottle later, I threw it back in the bag and continued on my way to work. It wasn’t till I went to pull out my building pass that I realized the sanitizer was, in fact, still open when I threw it back in there, and managed to expel itself all over my Kindle and the most recent copy of Vogue.
    Lesson learned: It’s not that hard to close a damn cap.
  • Preface: I have an unhealthy obsession with Garden Salsa Sun Chips. Not any other flavor – only the salsa ones. Yesterday I bought a bag thinking I would separate out normal-people portions so I would learn discipline and snack responsibly. Then I got bored and ate the whole bag.
    Lesson learned: You are an animal. Stop buying Sun Chips.
Eeeeh it's not like it's going anywhere...

Eeeeh it’s not like it’s going anywhere…

  • See that? That’s my lace curtain on the floor of my kitchen. It normally stays up with a tension rod, but obviously I bought the wrong size (who knew eyeballing isn’t accurate?), and so it fell the other day. Guess how long that stayed down there? Three days. I could not be bothered to deal with it for three. freaking. days.
    Lesson learned: Don’t be a lazy ass. Hang up your curtain. You are an adult.

Not everything in our lives has to be a big lesson, or regaled in such a way that makes it legendary. Sometimes it’s fun to laugh at the little things while you’re covered in bruises and Sun Chip dust, debating if you can hold off on scaling your kitchen window for one more day.