You’re 12-years-old and it’s a sunny Saturday afternoon. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How do you feel? I’m sitting on the floral love seat in the living room reading Nancy Drew chapter books.
How did you envision your life as an adult? I had plans to be a professional ice skater.
Ask yourself what you want. It can be hard to admit. Admitting means change. Admitting means you’re not completely satisfied with a lifestyle that others might find appealing and out of reach, making it seem like you’re greedy or hard to please. Not at all. I had the goals to graduate from college, move to NYC, work in the retail industry, get a good apartment, and build a network of friends outside my hometown. I met challenges, but I achieved my goals by age 26. I’m happy with what I have accomplished, but now I need more goals. I’m in danger of coasting along.
Once you know what you want, check your attitude. Act like you’re talking to a young child when you consider your options. Be realistic, but supportive. Think like a scientist and refuse to say “I can’t” until you’ve explored your options. Man on the moon, people. If you believe that it really happened. NASA put a man on the moon, but you can’t change your city/job/passion? Give all risks a fair rating. Will pursuing a goal negatively affect your family or well-being? No? Then it’s not terribly risky. And most importantly, give yourself more credit. You have a tool box filled with experiences, common sense, contacts, and passion. This idea of yours is more feasible than you think.
Have a friend read this part to you. Close your eyes. It’s October 2023. Where do you live? In a city? Near the ocean? In the mountains? What does your house look like? Do you have a family? A dog? How do you spend your days? Would the 12-year-old inside you be happy with the choices you’ve made?
Open your eyes. What do you need to do today to be happy in 2023? What steps will you take in the next year? In the next five years? And in the next ten years?
We’re an honest version of ourselves at age 12. Life distracts us, can make us jaded, and it can make us realize that professional ice skating is hard! Eff your adult perspective and make plans the way any 12-year-old would: with excitement in your eyes and an open mind. Best of luck! Let me know if I can help!
Edith Piaf (left) and my tattoo (right)
Strangers have told me that I could/should model since age sixteen. I take the compliment with a smile, a quick thanks, and wrap it up with a short statement to prove they’re wrong. I’m actually not the “size” of a model. You’ve been tricked. My height has convinced you that I’m a size six (this was before agencies had plus divisions). Now I change the topic.
Modeling would be a waste of time (ignoring those who have used modeling to become activists and affect real change). I have a purpose. A career. My current occupation is inventory planning. I’m responsible for ordering not too much and not too little inventory. Goldie Locks is my muse. Now I realize I’m not doing much of anything. My job doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. So why shouldn’t I model? I had a superiority complex. When it came to my work I was busy-very busy (we convince ourselves that it means important things are getting done). A one-upper. The person who meets your level of misery and raises you a car accident plus a dead dog.
In a few weeks I’ll turn 26-years-old. Not a significant birthday, but it coincides with a recent dose of clarity. I can’t lay it out on the table for you. I poked my head out of the cave and I have no idea what I’m looking at. When I moved to New York four years ago I was just happy/miserable to be here. My apartment was undesirable, job unchallenging and low paying, and I had two friends in the city. Now I make a comfortable salary, live in a sought-after apartment, and can bribe at least ten friends to help celebrate my birthday. I’m grateful that I’m swimming along just fine. Now where am I headed?
I’m returning to my home state on my legal birthday to renew my license. Many New Yorkers renew theirs in the city regardless of their origin. It’s convenient. I have the urge to be a New Yorker-someone who can give subway directions and restaurant recommendations while hailing a cab, but I want to maintain my legal identity as a citizen of Massachusetts.
One day I’ll fly away back to the land of trees, fresh air, and manners. Not yet. I’m not done with you New York. It’s time for round two. Whether that means modeling, pursuing a masters degree, or staying in my current job and shifting my perspective… Je ne sais pas mais non, je ne regrette rien. Merci Edith Piaf. Joyeux anniversaire à moi.
When I’m running ten minutes late for work I save time by leaving the house without a shirt. Not really. The train that pulls into my subway station at 8:37 delivers a white male in his twenties who does not wear shirts. He is pale, plump, hairy, and alternates between a black leather vest and a light wash denim vest. It doesn’t bother me. The first few times that the train pulled into the station the doors opened and he walked off the car he was wearing the unbuttoned black leather vest. The best conclusion (or the most entertaining) I could make was that this man was on his way home from working at a kinky bar/sex dungeon.
Then he started wearing the denim vest. People can surprise you. I had a label, a reason, an understanding. Then he wore a denim vest. I’m having trouble imagining the denim vest at his previous place of employment. It’s harder to wipe down.
What if he chooses to live shirtless? When we pass during our morning commute he is on his way to a regular 9-5 job. Once he is one block from the office he puts on a shirt. He is being honest with himself: he hates wearing shirts so he doesn’t wear them.
Do you honor your truth regardless of social norms? Eff the labels in your head. No one pays attention to shirtless man because it’s New York and they’re used to seeing him every morning. They recognize that his lack of shirt does not impact their lives.
Listen to your truth and honor it.
“And I can’t change-even if I tried. Even if I wanted to…”
I’m employed by a company located in a hip part of Brooklyn. It blows my mind that I share office space with people who bring their dogs to work WHILE wearing cut-off denim shorts! I don’t even own a dog. It’s 100% aspirational: don’t look like you’re working while at work. Eff professionalism!!! Do the ladies wearing cut-offs on week days dress in Ann Taylor suits on the weekends?!? I can’t handle the truth. This is the split second when I miss the Vera Bradley-American Eagle-Ugg baloney of the ‘burbs- strictly because it requires no thought at all.
There are also some not-so-hip people scurrying on and off of the elevator during your standard arriving at work/leaving for lunch/leaving for 3pm Starbucks/leaving for the day times. Today, a girl shouted to her friend, “I lovvvvve backpacks right now. There are so many great ones out there. I just bought a nice leather one on Amazon.com.” I own two backpacks and I’m currently considering a third but, I didn’t know anyone below the age of fifty still articulated “dot com” when referencing well-known websites. Is there any other Amazon? No one gives an eff about the actual Amazon Rainforest. Do you recall when the general population worried about protecting the trees and ecosystems south of the border a decade ago? I don’t. I do remember the spin-off trend: WWF panda t-shirts. Whatever. My point is that people can surprise you. She had me at backpacks then she lost me at “dot com.” The man standing near the door appeared to be upset by the whole conversation. It had never occurred to him that four minutes of his life would be taken from him in the name of leather backpacks from Amazon.com. He will weep softly into his pillow tonight.
Occasionally, your fellow man will surprise you in a lovely fashion. When you reconnect with an old friend and you expect it to be awkward, but instead it’s warm and rich and you see a glimmer of your old self while talking to the old friend… It’s like coming home. When that old friend offers to do you a favor it’s like coming home and being greeted at the door with warm banana bread. That last part was a shout-out to my Mom. Hi Mom! Please mail my boyfriend a loaf of banana bread as payment so that he will continue to date me through the holiday season.
I would like to dedicate this post to D.D. who was a close friend during my undergrad studies. We have lost touch, but she is in the process of doing me a favor AND urged me to reboot my blog. She stroked my ego. Old friends are the best. Don’t feel guilty about losing touch. If you truly have that spark it will still be there after years apart (even if she has moved on to other friends).
My cousin Rachel was a beautiful bride. No one was surprised: she’s beautiful while reef fishing in old shorts and a tank top. Rachel and her husband Bryan are solid, kind, hardworking people. In both speeches and passing comments I heard the buzz phrase “beautiful bride” many times throughout the day. Once Rachel and Bryan return from their honeymoon in Antigua, how will her beauty and his handsome features (I have your back Bry) help them build a life together? This is not an antiquated business transaction in which her beauty enhances the contract.
Why am I droning on about the commonly used phrase “beautiful bride?” Sometimes the “normal” things couples discuss when planning a wedding (buying a dress, picking a reception venue, tasting cakes) are not useful past the wedding date. No matter how delicious the cake, it’s not an accurate representation of the relationship.
A friend of a friend has an 18-month-old infant. This brand new mother initiated a divorce from her husband because in the past eighteen months, he was only willing to change his child’s diaper twice. For those of you who enjoy math, that’s 0.001% of total diapers changed.
I imagine that the new mother was a beautiful bride on her wedding day. Did she ever ask her fiancé if he had it in him to be a hands-on parent? I’m not sure. Did her soon-to-be ex-husband assume she would handle all diapers, potty training, homework help, etc. as he said his vows to her in his handsome suit? Conversations worth having pre-wedding.
Bryan is the kind of man who will change diapers. Rachel is a smart woman. In my opinion, she has chosen well (that’s what guests do at a wedding-they give their opinion on everything). It is likely that while raising children they will both have careers. Will they split “second-shift” responsibilities close to fifty/fifty? That’s their decision to make.
Just keep in mind when planning a wedding or even dating someone for longer than a month:
1. This is the first day of the rest of your life. For most of you there are more days ahead of you than behind you.
2. “Now we know that women can do what men can do, but we don’t know that men can do what women can do.” Gloria Steinem
Eff the diaper funk!
I recently met someone who spends 80% of her time staring at a glass half empty. There are days I see it too, but let’s say I see it that way 20% of the time just to make it an even 100%. Part of my day job is calculating promotional retail pricing and I would prefer if this metaphor made sense mathematically. A well-known 80/20 split is Pareto’s Principle: you should focus 80% of your time on the 20% that matters. If you spend 80% of your time dwelling on the 20% that doesn’t matter-you’re not living. Eff the pain and let the joy define you.
One of my close friends discovered her boyfriend was trying to focus 80% of his time on her and the remaining 20% on a long distance relationship with another woman. He tried it both ways actually, when he told her they should “take a break” in January (so he could visit and focus 80% on the other woman in his life). He had trouble figuring out his 80/20s. By failing to identify which woman was more important to him, he demonstrated that neither deserved his respect. Or maybe combined, he spent 80% of his time on the two women who deserved 20% of his respect? Eff that.
Her trust has been shattered. She is a beautiful, kind, smart, and sarcastic son-of-a-gun who always gives any task in front of her 100% (like the time she ran around the city looking for a Carvel cake for me on my birthday). Did I mention she does it with a smile? She sees the glass as half full 90% of the time because she breaks the mold.
Right now she is standing strong. There is a lot of pain. I can only hope that this is her last heartbreak and she remains positive. I felt like crap when I was feeding my emotional pain back in January. One week after this post I met a man that makes me happy. Our situations are not the same, but heartbreak is heartbreak so I bought her chocolate whoopie pies the other day. Heartbreak hotel. Sing it Whitney.
photo taken by Murad Peshimam
Do you strongly dislike small talk that wanders from one pointless observation to the next?
“Great weather we’re having.”
“Time to file taxes.”
“I’m so tired. Who isn’t? Thank goodness for coffee!”
Interrupt your chatty new friend with the following, “Tell me what you’re really excited about! Why do you get up in the morning?” Most people will have trouble answering and that’s EFFED UP! Either your airport terminal friend will be silenced or your conversation will take an interesting turn as they describe their passions in life.
Since one of my greatest fears in life is hypocrisy, I made a quick list of my own passions before pushing the challenge on my audience:
-live music (Martha Wainwright has held my attention the past few months)
-serving as a resource
-chai lattes from Aroma
It’s your turn! No seriously, write them down. Don’t do as I would and list three in my head, decide that means I passed a test to prove that I have passions, then breeze onto the next paragraph of this post.
I’m currently reading New York Times Bestseller “What Should I Do with My Life?” by Po Bronson. It’s a compilation of interviews with people all over the world who are searching for or have found their passion and made it their central focus in life. It’s not a profound resource that holds all of the answers you’ve been looking for, but Bronson successfully organized an interesting smattering of the human experience. Most people do not have the tools/experience/awareness to pursue their passion the day they graduate from high school. Bronson proves that our winding roads are sometimes necessary and completely normal. He also gives equal words to both male and female professionals in the pages of his book. Hash tag: gender should not dictate whether you pursue your passion. Make that a trending topic. It’s long overdue.
Feminist comments aside (I’m taking the word back and separating it from it’s negative vibes), what are you excited about? Why did you get up this morning? What will you spend the rest of your life doing? Eff the passionless existence, roll up your sleeves, and seek your answers.
When you live in a region that hosts a real winter season your skin can get effed up. Long gone are the days when strawberry kiwi lip smacker could fix my problems. I have sensitive skin and the cold, dry air puts it in a funk. Here is a list of remedies that my friends and I can agree on. Tell the winter to eff off while you daydream about springtime.
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Milton Glaser’s classic logo
My commute to and from work is seventy-five minutes of swimming upstream. I’ve been doing the opposite commute for a little over three years. Most days I don’t pay attention to the small annoyances as I power walk through the NYC crowds (initially, it was sensory overload and I couldn’t handle the aggression). Other days, I’m exhausted before I reach my desk. My best commuting days are when I’m in cruise-control. My eyes are glazed over, stride powerful, ipod loud, and I’m watching the body language of the next five people headed my way in anticipation of pedestrians stopping short, swerving into my path, or my favorite, the person who gets so nervous that they half-stop to let you pass, but they don’t surrender the space to do so (mostly tourists).
I’m proud of my ability to swerve through a crowd of commuters/locusts swarming in opposite directions. It’s a small win for the day if I can maintain my speed without bumping into anyone: I’m invincible. The days when I’m tired/hungry/both, miss my connecting train by one minute, wish I could get back into the city in time for yoga/happy hour, have trouble navigating pedestrians, wear shoes that slow me down, and sweat through my clothes en route to work in 90 degree heat-those are rough days. Commuting is an effing sport.
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One of my close friends came over to my apartment last Friday night and in between baking oatmeal raisin cookies and watching a 90′s “horror” film featuring a young Alicia Silverstone, he was joking that I don’t exist when he isn’t around. It’s possible that I’m only playing a supporting role in his life and not a living, breathing creature with my own life that moves forward when he isn’t there to see it. I sarcastically agreed with him and we had a good belly laugh. If you picture a straight line in a one dimensional plane, on one end is the perspective that every human being is important and their needs should be given consideration. On the other end is the perspective that this world is mine, and my needs will always be met before the needs of others aka… “It’s my world and you’re just living in it!” Read the rest of this entry »