Decorating Your TwentySomething Apartment

You did it! You made it to your twenties! Some days you feel gross and unaccomplished, like the hair clogging your own bathtub drain, but some days you feel like an Instagram photo that got over 15 likes- you know, accomplished to be here, even if the accomplishment is a little lame in and of itself.

Nevertheless, you have to live somewhere, and whether that means with your “landlords” (the name you gave your parents so that you sound more adult) or in an old “charming” (a nice word that means broken-down) house with 5 other roommates, fresh decor is key in transitioning into the put-together-person that every TwentySomething article online tells you that you are becoming.

So, let’s get started on revamping your space!

1. Get a plant!
Plants are great, because plants let you pretend to take care of something! Kittens and puppies are cute and all, but even a baby cactus looks adorable in the right light, and watering it from your “vintage” (rusty) sink is a lot cheaper than buying pet food. Not to mention, plants never have to go to the vet, you don’t have to walk a plant, and if you get at least 3 pieces of foliage, your space will look just bohemian enough, as if you shop regularly at Free People, even though you may only be able to afford half a shirt there! Plus, people say plants bring in fresh air and good energy, and since your starter job probably doesn’t provide health insurance, you better soak up all those chlorophyll vibes!

2. Display your Accomplishments
Just because you are young and maybe you’ve never had to actually pay many bills until now does not mean you haven’t done anything! Think about what small moments have given your life some meaning, and make sure to give them some wall space. You can hang your college diploma on the wall and pledge allegiance to it every morning, promising that you’ll try to do something with your education other than googling solutions to tech issues that your coworkers are having, organizing the office, and testing all the fonts in Microsoft Word. Put up a photo of a great romantic dinner that you enjoyed, so that when you’re eating peanut butter sandwiches and considering downloading Tinder because dating seems bleak, you’ll remember that one time you ate something with fresh vegetables and flirted like a grownup instead of only through texts! Lastly, put up your First Dollar from your First Adult Paycheck like restaurants do when they open and make a sale, and then promise yourself you won’t take it down and spend it. (Well, unless it’s an emergency.)

(No, a Doritos Locos Taco is not an emergency.)

3. Jars and Pallets FOREVER
I have yet to meet a person my age, me included, who is not at least a little bit excited about mason jars and shipping pallets. Call it the rise of Pinterest, but mason jars can literally be used for anything in the eyes of our generation, and finding a pallet on the side of the road is akin to Columbus bumping into America all those years ago. Drinking everything from iced coffee to wine to water out of a mason jar seems quaint enough, like you cared about style but also just decided to recycle what you had, but you can also use them for storage, lighting, and if you happen to have any duty in your friends’ weddings in the next 10 years, just volunteer for something involving mason jars and you’ll be set. Pallets are usually free, and for those of us who want to have the novelty of a “dumpster-diving” story without actually chipping our manicure, they can be acquired pretty easily. In fact, even as I write this I am picturing these pallet beds that I still have yet to make and thinking how chic I would feel laying on them, like my own version of a Martha Stewart catalog.
(Added bonus: the cheap pasta sauce you live on for a week probably comes in a ‘cool’ jar that can be reused! Broke and fabulous!)

4. Forget your cares with Christmas Lights
You know what’s cheaper than a really great lamp that gives you reading light? Off-season Christmas light prices. You know what looks way more hip in a photo than overhead lighting? The glow of dim Christmas lights. You know what might automatically make you seem like you probably rent a place and don’t own it and might still be stuck in college in your mind? Christmas lights as your main source of brightness.

5. Ugly things are still things and you need them
I think having some not-so-cute pieces in your home or space when you’re young is important, and maybe it’s just me, but it adds a story. Keeping the stuff you thought was cool when you were a few years younger cause it still works or cause you can’t afford anything nicer is truthful, sometimes painfully. But that rickety chair, those mismatched colored hangers that seemed like standard-issue in dorm rooms across America, that old pile of pillows on the ground or wimpy air mattress or beat-up futon with overwashed sheets that you do all your dreaming on reminds you that you’re still working, still aiming for more, and still building a home while you build yourself and your resume.

One day we’ll all look back on our terrible style and bad furniture and just be thankful that we had personality and had somewhere to sit. (Assuming that we still can sit because of all the damage that we did to our spines with beanbag chairs, lumpy discount beds, and couches we found on the side of the road, and while we’re writing another check to our Chiropractor when we make it to our 40s, complaining about our neck hurting from staring at our laptops and thumb pain from decades of texting.)

However, the future still looks pretty bright for us. (Just not too bright, because we’re trying to save on our electric bill this month so we can use the money to go to that music festival, so please only turn on the light if you absolutely need it.)

Have the Second Damn Piece of Pizza

Friday night is supposed to be Pizza Night.

You know if you eat just one slice you’re going to feel like you’re still hungry in a few minutes. Better yet, someone else at the table will forget the unspoken dining rules and take what is clearly marked as your hunk of cheesy goodness because you all know you’re splitting the bill evenly anyway, and they know if they just keep the conversation going, everyone will lose track of who had what.

Everyone except you, that is. Because you notice, and because you’ve faced this before.

You’ve fought hard, and it’s an ongoing fight, but not just against the freeloader in your friend-group. You’ve fought against the mental numbers in your head.

The number of minutes you’ll need to exercise to work off the combination of dough and cheese (and mighty fine pepperoni, if you’re lucky), which leads your brain to remember the last time you exercised and chastise yourself on it being a.) too easy or b.) not recent enough. You’re going to stare down that pizza slice growing cold and play the cards out in your head, I just know it. Others at the table are relaxing over a meal, but you’re silently bargaining with yourself that if you do this, if you indulge in the American peace offering of cheesy perfection, that you’ll be really good tomorrow. You know, like, wife-of-a-celebrity good. You’ll eat things with whole grains and vitamins that you read about in the Get-Fit-Now book you never finished, and you’ll make your own salad dressing because you also heard Ranch makes you fat, even though dipping in it is the Southern equivalent of adding salt to your food- and Oh! SALT!- you’ll cut back on that, too. And while you’re at it, you’ll hide the breakup ice cream in the back of your freezer that you haven’t finished yet- because you have decided that you can take as long as you want to get over him- when you get home, and you’ll finally go to that spin class your coworker said had the cute instructor. This slice of pizza could change your life, you swear, for the better, because it’ll be the last piece of happiness you enjoy before you swear your existence away to bikini-body-boot-camp workouts you found on the internet coupled with a juice cleanse that you scored a Groupon for. Not eating this pizza slice could be the story that you tell your girlfriends about when they say you’re looking skinny weeks from now, or the experience that puts you ahead at your next High School Reunion, or the reason that guy finally asks you out next week.

I know– it’s a lot, right? An awful lot for just a piece of pizza.

Almost too much.

You ignore the greasy triangle you claimed earlier and you try and jump back into the conversation with your friends like you didn’t just live a whole week of choices and debates in your head, but it’s exhausting.

It’s overwhelming, it’s unfair, and it’s not adding any goodness to your life, but you know what will? Dismissing everything and grabbing that slice. It’s going to be delicious, and you’re going to live another day.

What matters is that you’re just as focused on how you’re shaping up in the inside- in your gut feelings and thoughts and heart and character- just as much as you are dead-set on visualizing the way that slice will make your thighs look.

Now, I know you’ve heard this before, and I know that Sunday School lessons of ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ have been preached to death, along with body-positive speak that you chanted in Middle School health class, but you still argue with yourself before every meal. You still give in to the accusations against your particular silhouette, you still have to take a deep breath before you look in the mirror, and you still let the numbers on your clothing labels define you. There are still nights where you curse your arms in a sleeveless dress like they called you a bad name and when your mascara runs because the same dress really looked better on the mannequin. You listen to Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” and cry every time, and that’s okay. You know that magazines are photoshopped, but you’re still filled with anger an hour after looking through a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. Accepting yourself isn’t one-and-done and you’re living proof of that, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having to remind yourself of your worth beyond the scale.

But, I do want to convince you that this whole ordeal takes time.

And, if you can spend this much thought, talent, emotion and time on one measly slice of pizza, imagine what your beautiful brain could do with a situation that matters. With a friend’s broken heart. With a passion you should pursue. With a clear look at the things that bring life.

So I guess all I’m saying, from one work-in-progress to another, is take care of yourself.

 

Oh, and have the second damn piece of pizza.

I Started A Line of Wines, You Guys

A woman I look up to daily, Miranda Lambert, has her own wine line, and I’ve always been jealous of her puns- in particular, the “White Liar” Chardonnay. At this point in time, if you’re interested, you can also enjoy wines curated and created by Drew Barrymore, AC/DC, Sting, and the beards over at Duck Dynasty, so I figured that if any major celebrity could make it happen, I should take my own crack at it. Besides, if you never try (the wine), you’ll never know (if you should drink the whole bottle).

So, may I present:

The Lion-Haired Girl Wine Line!

“Business Cashz”

– a full-bodied red that looks good when held in your well-manicured hand and rocking your J. Crew shirtdress that you stalked online until it went on sale and rationalized as a great office wardrobe staple for an after-hours event.* ( *Does not actually contain any alcohol whatsoever, so that you don’t make any embarrassing comments at a work function, but still can sip like an adult.)

“I only wanted an appetizer anyway”

— a bubbly Rosé that hits you with a surprisingly sharp finish, akin to the feeling of opening a menu at a really nice restaurant and realizing while you don’t go out, and no, 2-for-1-pizza-and-beers-night doesn’t count

“Call Your Parents”

— a Pinot Grigio that once chilled and opened, should be finished within the evening. Though initially tart, it develops a sweet aftertaste the more you let it breathe, and once your defenses are down, you realize that they’re really on your side and want the best for you in every situation. The grapes, I mean. The grapes definitely want the best for you.

“Netflix”

— I’ll be honest, it’s actually not a wine we make in-house. This is just Barefoot Moscato or Skinnygirl Margarita, depending on just how your night is going and bank account looks.

“This Again?”

— a single-serving-sized mini bottle of Cabernet that doesn’t need to be chilled, so that it can be busted out at any time to console a past decision, problem, person, hair color, or terrible moment that still cripples you, but can be finished quickly so you don’t linger on these feelings AND so that you don’t feel pressure to down a whole bottle so it doesn’t ‘spoil’. Popular for weeknights.

“Reality TV is A Hobby”

 – a sparkling white that you’re almost embarrassed to buy, but it’s just so easy to drink. Comes with a bedazzled glass that can hold the entire bottle, so you don’t have to share. Pairs well with a Real Housewives marathon (Beverly Hills, Orange County or Atlanta preferred, but any city works).

Sold in a 2-pack with our other popular sparkling white wine,

“That Girl”,

— tastes exactly like a Pumpkin Spice Latte, actually.

“21st Century Breakup”

— a blend of grapes that don’t really go together, but you try to rationalize that it’s going to taste good anyway. The label might be a little deceiving, or it might have aged a little too long. A small sensor in the top of the bottle sends a text alert to your 4 best girlfriends when you uncork it, while at the same time locking your personal phone and computer from all social media and texting functions. It always gives you a headache the next morning, but that’s because you’re not really yourself when you’re drinking it, and these things take time. (Can be ordered in bulk.)

“The Small Things!”

an extra dry champagne that’s not hard on your wallet. It’s sold with non-optional edible glitter to add to each glass. Customers have told us they used it to celebrate job promotions, birthdays, graduations and engagements, as well as good hair and lipstick days, paying off credit cards, new pets, mastering a Pinterest recipe on the first try, welcoming a new friend, making a fitness goal and actually achieving it, getting enough hours of sleep, and simply being thankful for your life and letting yourself gently learn from mistakes. (Can also be ordered in bulk.) (Should be ordered in bulk.)

 

 

 

(Fine Print: Pre-orders are now available via Twitter. First batch expected to ship in August of 2015 because I have to give the grapes I stomped on in my vintage bathtub and then mixed with alcohol time to get old and wine-y. No refunds. Also, legally I’m supposed to tell you that I don’t know how to technically make wine, but I’m sure there’s a Youtube tutorial somewhere.)

Signs That You May Have Been in Show Choir At Some Point

You still get the strange urge to use jazz hands when making a point, or you just turn these jazz hands into a large gesture that in no way looks natural, but you try and play it off as such

You are critical of any work that claims to be musical and give your own running commentary of American Idol and The Voice auditions (bonus points if you have auditioned for any of those shows and still share your own ‘professional’ opinion on the experience)

You are aware that you are being a little too judgmental at the Karaoke Bar, but why would someone try to follow your Martina McBride, Josh Groban, Aretha Franklin, or Celine Dion with a weak Red Hot Chili Peppers performance? I mean, come ON.

You either-

  1. Want to strangle anyone who brings up Glee because it’s not realistic and also your choir department was way more talented and also WHY ALL THE ACAPELLA and no one looks that old in high school and no, Lea Michele, just stop with those expressions please.
  2. Want to hug anyone who brings up Glee because you have all the soundtracks and just know that life could be a musical, like, if we all just tried harder!!!!
  3. Say that Glee is lame or you have no opinion on it but secretly despise everyone on that show for getting more famous than you, because, did ANYONE in that tv show pull off 4 years of intense diaphragm exercises and singer’s posture and writing I.P.A. and memorizing minor scales? Didn’t think so.

You harmonize…with everything from commercial theme songs to the worst Miley Cyrus remix on the radio, without realizing it and to the chagrin of people who are also trying to sing along, making you look like a know-it-all or show-off

Your ear has been exposed to so many different kinds of music or languages and styles to sing in, that you find it hard to pin down just exactly what genres you like

There are far too many embarrassing photos and videos of you singing that exist, but you also know that it’s a rite of passage to wear a stupid bow tie or itchy unflattering dress in order to rise to the top of the vocal elite

You remember lyrics but forget what song they go to, or you spend an afternoon singing a melody into the Shazam app on your phone because you remember it, but not the words

You’ve ever considered/thought/muttered/bragged about the fact that you or someone you know might have ‘perfect pitch’

You primarily still count to 8

You have 5+ different remedies for sore throats or losing your voice, and they may involve everything from lemon juice to honey to whiskey to echinacea- bonus points for a hot toddy with all of them- to taking a ‘vocal rest’ or gargling with homemade salt water

You get annoyed when a crowd of people can’t clap correctly and on the beat. Who are these amateurs?

You have an uncommon knack for getting into tights, lipstick and false eyelashes in 3 minutes flat- and it’s a skill that you’ll keep with you and will come in handy more often than you think

No matter your gender, there’s probably still glitter on your body from some show outfit that you can’t get off

There is a chance that you may still describe things as needing to be “more legato” or “syncopated” or “dissonant” and that’s not strange at all

You get choked up during that song – you know the song- when you go see a musical, and there’s nothing you can do about it

You probably weren’t the most popular in high school, but that means you have time to grow into your quirks now and appreciate the way singing shaped you into the perfect weirdo you always needed to be

You still can’t pass a stage or see someone else in the spotlight without thinking, even if in the tiniest part of your soul, “What if that was me up there instead?”

Even if you can’t pinpoint why, you’ll always be sentimental for music and the community that it brings, and even if you never sing in any sort of choir setting again, hey, at least you’ll always make great playlists

Get Back Up.

You will have days when no matter how you try and style it and pin it back, your hair gets caught in your lipgloss and makes you perform some weird facial acrobatics to get it out and embarrasses you in public in the process. You’ll recover, and in a few weeks you’ll let the woman with the fantastic nail art at the Sephora counter talk you into to a lipstain that lasts all day, and when its constant color really does stay on, you’ll pass this knowledge on to your girlfriends like it’s no big thing, making you the wisest of all at the next Girls’ Night.

You will have days when you don’t want to answer your phone, even if it’s a text or a call from someone you love or an adorable Snapchat of a puppy, just because technology has made you think of instant connection as too impersonal, or you’re too caught up in your own head to answer or respond. It’ll pass, and you’ll respond to each hello and request with the gusto of the 7th grade girl with a pink Motorola Razr cell phone that you used to be, and with your faith in communication restored.

You will have days that are measured in cups of coffee and productivity pep talks, and no matter how much you focus and slam down both, you won’t get anything done. You won’t organize your room, you won’t answer those job emails, you won’t get that rattle in your car fixed, and you won’t even make a dent on your to-do list. You’ll be distracted by nostalgia, by negativity, or by simply beating yourself up over lack of progress. You will fight through these time-stealers and get back to accomplishing things like you were before.

You will have days where you say sorry to everything. Days where you apologize to your dog for not taking him on a walk because it’s raining, apologize to the person behind you in line at the cash register because it took you more than 5 seconds to find that quarter you needed in your purse, or send a Facebook message to an estranged friend from elementary school to apologize for that one thing you said to them on the playground in ’94 that you haven’t been able to shake for years. You will take a deep breath, reevaluate, and realize that although it is good to be forgiving, you are not responsible for every circumstance in life.

You will have days where you need to eat everything in sight. You will shove your shame aside in drivethrus, asking for 2 drinks even though you’re eating alone so that the person working the window thinks the amount of food is for more than 1 person. You will challenge yourself to your own taco-eating contest with the intention of beating your previous college-hangover record. You will get every mix-in possible at the ice cream parlor and you will tackle a whole pizza in one sitting. Whether you’re eating for feelings or for fun, you’ll slow down and look at what you’re consuming again. You’ll remember that balance is key, and even though cheese-on-everything is a personal manta of yours, throwing in something leafy and green is important, too.

You will have days when you can’t sleep because you’re:

  • worried that he hasn’t texted you yet
  • worried about when you’ll start getting wrinkles
  • worried that space and the universe is huge and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what is out there
  • nervous that you heard something go bump in the night
  • embarrassed that you’re still afraid of monsters in your twenties
  • still singing that annoying Luke Bryan or One Direction song you swore you’d never like but now that it’s stuck in your head, you are warming up to it
  • freaking out over what tomorrow’s schedule holds and if you can back out of all your commitments at the last second
  • caffeine-fueled for no good reason
  • scrolling through your phone endlessly and cursing everyone’s instagrams that look like they’re leading a fun-filled life, while you’re already in bed with your zit cream on and retainer in
  • too busy daydreaming about your fake pinterest house while stuck laying in a cheap goodwill or ikea bedframe
  • suddenly hungry but stuck with an empty fridge
  • unsure about your own talents
  • already fearing the alarm clock in the morning

You will find rest. It might take a few days, months, naps, or medication to get you back to sleeping right, but sleeping is so important, and if you’ll put some effort behind it, you’ll be a functional, healthy human again.

You will have days where it is hard to know where to start in expressing your feelings, hard to share the hurt that’s been done to you, and hard to feel like there is a new direction for you to travel. But, even if if is not today or not in this exact place, you will recover. You will be you again, and you will not let anyone else write the next chapter to your story but your own self.

It is not the days that defeat you, but what you do to defeat them and get back up.

Winter Date Ideas

Winter Date Ideas!

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  • FaceTime from rooms away even if you are in the same place, because getting out of the cover cocoon you just made would not be a very good idea
  • Invest in one pair of mittens and hold hands INSIDE the mittens for maximum cuteness but also sweet, suffocating warmth
  • Breathe against a window and write sweet messages in the fogged up glass to each other, like, “bring me another blanket”
  • Embrace a little friendly competition! Go for the gold in fun challenges like, “Who can wear the most layers of clothing?” or “Who can whisper the most sweet nothings before their teeth start chattering?” or “Who can stay inside away from the winter weather the longest without going crazy?”
  • Fellas, let your lady dress you! She can pick out the styles she’s always wanted you to rock, and you won’t have to worry if you don’t like it, because let’s face it, you’re not going to take off your coat anyway!
  • Pack a cute picnic to eat outside bundled up, but bail on that idea when you realize that the food is going to get cold. Take shots of hot chocolate from the thermos in your car instead.
  • Have a romantic ‘weekend in’! (See how long you can go indoors without running out of edible food combinations, guesstimate how high your heating bill is going to be simply trying to keep your toes from chilling, and find out how many days you can go without wanting to suffocate each other from having no changes of scenery, because, no one wants to venture into the freezing outside temperatures!)
  • Make plans with other couples and then flake on them because no, you do not actually own snowshoes
  • Ladies, tell your man to grow out his beard to keep his chin warm, and then make a game of hiding little trinkets in it when he’s not looking!
  • Go ice skating!
  • Just kidding about the ice skating, that’s too expensive and freezing. Maybe just find the closest coffee shop near the ice skating rink and drink the biggest hottest drink they have
  • For each degree that the temperature drops, compliment your significant other with a quality you like about them. (Ex. You are great at scraping the ice off my car windows, You let me borrow your coat and that means a lot, You took the dog out that time in the blizzard and I found it very attractive, etc)
  • Make a playlist of songs that mention summertime or sunshine or the beach and listen to it together with fingers crossed
  • Accept the fact that you’re never going to be a cold weather person, but when you can look next to you and the person who has shared 14 hours of an indoor Netflix marathon and grilled cheeses with you still thinks you’re attractive even after you haven’t shaved your legs in 2 weeks because there’s no way you’re getting close to shorts in this snowstorm, well then, it’s probably love.

I Will Leave Bobby Pins On Everything You Love

Some people are interested in what walls would say if they could talk, but I think it would be much more revealing to interview my bobby pins.

I think Matt O’Brien may have captured my terrible habit best here, in “What it’s Like Living With A Girl”:

I would love to give a more moving account of my life and travels, but bobby pins are probably the only consistent artifact I’ve ever left in every state I’ve lived, and mine are scattered across Texas, Arizona, Tennessee and everywhere in between. Besides styling my lion’s mane in all sorts of styles from calm to crazy, I’m sure some are still littered in airports, sunk to the bottom of lakes and rivers and rusting on the side of old dirt roads.

Oh, the stories that these tiny brown hair sidekicks could tell.

There’s always going some at the bottom of every purse and suitcase I’ve ever carried that I’m sure could tell you tales about the varied and sometimes embarrassing cargo they’ve been stuffed alongside.

A portion are mixed onto other girls’ bathroom counters, from times where my hair accessories crossed theirs in a free-for-all at a sleepover makeover session. Several hundred were lost in the shuffle after being bought to get ready in a crammed bridal suite filled with girls in breezy pink dresses and one in white, coating them in hairspray and accidentally dropping one in a champagne glass right before we were to walk down an aisle. Some are under dirt by now in the Texas woods because I truly didn’t and still don’t understand how “camping” is supposed to be “low maintenance”. Too many ended up shoved to the side after a hairstyle that promised to be ‘easy’ on the internet did not fare so easy in my hands and on my head. A few may have ended up in cheap hotels, boat cupholders, guitar cases, and escaped being packed up again for my return trip from the homes of people I’ve loved in New York and Seattle and California, to Houston and beyond.

There’s still some probably along the baseboard in old musty apartments that I miss living in. A few are still lingering between couch cushions in residences that I haven’t been back to for good reason, or still clinging to carpet under the seats in the cars of ex-boyfriends, no matter how close the vacuum attachment at the carwash tries to get. There’s some bent ones in dressing rooms attached to productions and performances of my youth that I swore would eventually put my name in lights. One or two may have slipped out of the most-polished-hairstyle I could manage at a fancy office building while at a job interview that eventually disappointed me when they hired someone else. I irresponsibly left some especially terrible ones in my clothes pockets and tore up clothing during a high-energy spin cycle in many a washing machine.

At this point they very well may have poked someone’s foot, contributed to a moving-out cleaning fee I had to pay, held the hair back of both a close girlfriend or a stranger or even snapped in half, and I suppose we’ll never know.

But with a lot of hair comes a lot of responsibilities- and a lot of flyaways. So, consider this my formal apology for my carbon footprint of bobby pins, and my promise that if you ever invite me over, you might end up with a straggler.

But hey, if you can handle little brown hair pins, you’re going to be just fine with all the glitter I continue to spread everywhere I go.

To That Girl In The Coffee Shop On Her Computer, Writing

We begin our tale a while back as you teach yourself that the best big secret for the most effective creative process is this: write.

Write. Write furiously as if you’ve discovered it for the first time, because, in a way you have. Write without worrying about deadlines or opinions. Write some really dumb things- I mean, borderline terrible, but finish writing them anyway. Write with reckless abandon. Write like the words are your therapy- they’re not yet, but you’ll get there.

Write something that you can tell is just different. It sticks out from everything you’ve been writing. Maybe it’s shorter or funnier or has that one reference you’re really proud of making at the right time. Maybe the words rhyme. Maybe it’s just more “you” or maybe it’s way outside what your usual writing style was.

Share what you’ve written. Receive feedback. Let your chest and your ego swell at the thought that your words are the words of a “somebody” now. You’ve created a paragraph or two that sticks with someone else. Your story is gum on the bottom of their shoes, but they’re not even mad. In fact, they enjoy it and cherish it, and want to know where they can get more gum and how they can get tangled up in it all over again.

Call yourself a writer. You figure that you’re serious now, since you publish things every now and then. You let a few people read it and they might have shared it once or twice. So, you’re a writer. Buy that sweater that makes you look like you might do a book signing later- you know the one.

Write about comfortable subjects, receive praise. Write about tough subjects, get consolation. Write something funny, watch your comments soar.

Begin to realize your best ideas come when you’re inspired. Try to pinpoint how you’re inspired and when, as if it’s a math equation or a certain day of the week in a certain room with a certain record playing. Maybe you shouldn’t even write unless all the pieces are connected and correct.

Begin to write less. Tell yourself this is because you have a reputation to uphold and that’s why. After all, if you’re not funny all the time, you’ll never get that comedy writing job that you dream of. If you’re too sappy, you’ll be reduced to an over-share Facebook status.

Panic. Read your own words to calm down. Write a little, but then delete it.

Panic again. Read some other short stories or essay lists and realize that these make you mad because they’re better. When did you get so mad? You used to love to read. You used to praise your favorite writers.

Call it writer’s block. Call it stubbornness. Glorify the fact that with a new job, you are ‘busy’ and have important things to do, leaving no time for your words.

Tell yourself you were too personal anyway. Tell yourself you already wrote most of your opinions and stories. Tell yourself that the “dissatisfied 23 year-old suburban white girl” schtick has already been covered and dealt with.

Wish that you were anything else. Sniffle. Eat a bowl of ice cream. Feel guilty about the ice cream immediately after. Remind yourself that every famous writer usually had social issues and vices and was usually an alcoholic. Decide the ice cream isn’t that bad, and that thinking of famous writers is both a calming and terrifying thought.

Let your life happen. Participate, yes, but don’t feel like you have to give a major commentary. Feel like you are running out of stories. Feel like all you can write about is pop culture or your darkest thoughts. Feel like it’s all been done, it’s all been said, it’s all been written millions of times before.

Go to church, go to work, go home. Go for a drive to clear your head, even if you’re not sure what your head is full of.

You’re not really a writer anymore. You’re just a girl who writes, and that’s okay. After all, it’s been what – 3 months? Oh. I guess that’s longer than you thought.

Walk into a coffee shop a month later. Or is it two? It’s getting hard to keep track. Besides, you’ve had disappointment and personal failure and broken trust and relationships pushed to the brink and tragedy happen to you, so that adds something. We can’t all be on all the time. It’s harder to write when it doesn’t come easy, but you’re here, and this coffee shop has terrible wi-fi anyway, so you’re either going to write or sit, and we both know you’re a Type-A fidgeter.

Order a tea because you’ve had 5 cups of coffee today already. Immediately regret this decision, as the tea is not going to make your blood surge like you trained it to do before any major writing breakthrough.

Drink your tea anyway. Lie in the bed you’ve made. Coffee calls to you and you tell it that once you’ve written, you’ll reward yourself with a piping hot cup, one cream and a kiss of sugar. You’re okay with being both Pavlov and the dog in this experiment.

Listen to the people around you in the coffee shop and tell yourself that you could have written a better conversation than the one they’re having.

Sit down in the coffee shop with your computer and actually turn the wifi off so that you’re forced to do nothing but type. Type. Type. Type. It seems to go slower, like it’s a muscle you haven’t stretched in a while. Didn’t you used to be faster at this?

OH GEEZ everyone is staring at you in this coffee shop. I bet they’re all judging you. I’m sure they all think you’re self-absorbed. They all think you’re a hopeless writer, but maybe that isn’t the worst thought. Okay, let them think that. Let them read over your shoulder – you don’t care.

Typing is starting to feel laborious and you don’t like anything you’ve written. It’s all half-ideas and weirdly futuristic.

Good thing you brought your notebook. While reaching for it and your pen in your bag, realize there’s a joke happening right now with your notebook and pen versus your computer that you aren’t going to take the time to write down. Acknowledge this and move forward.

Write. Old-school, pen to paper, as your hand starts to cramp.

Wow, this is exhausting. You really have to pee but you don’t know anyone here at this coffee shop and you would feel uncomfortable making them watch your stuff.

Continue to write on paper. Remember how good it feels to see the pen form the letters and the imperfection of half-cursive half-print thoughts. Remember when it was a big deal that you had to learn cursive in 2nd grade and your teachers told you that you’d need it in the adult world? You wish you could laugh at this thought but it feels almost sad in a sense. Regardless, you’re still not pleased with your cursive on the letter r. It seems like you’ll always be cursed with that.

Write a few scraps and then one you like.

Photo Jan 15, 4 30 02 PM

Think it might be too emotional to share on the internet, but then think, what isn’t? Frequently photos of baby animals on the internet make you cry, so maybe there’s something to emotions. Maybe they’re inescapable. Maybe they’re infectious.

It’s late now, but you’ve still got an hour of editing and critiquing and cringing over what you just wrote. You’ve still got to post it and then delete it immediately and then work up the courage to share again.

 

But hey, would you look at that? Looks like despite all that talk and self-doubt, you wrote something after all.

See you again, same time next week.

You’re Gonna Hear Me Roar (Eventually)

We’re gonna get real.

We’re gonna talk about Katy Perry, being sicker than you’ve ever been, long-distance relationships, hospitals, loneliness, and pumpkin s’more donut muffins.

And if that sounds difficult to follow, you may need to get off the ride now.

But if you’re up for it, before you read below, please press “play”-

I knew I was going to love the Katy Perry song, “Roar” before I even heard it. The title was too telling of the content- which I knew would involve some sort of lion or big-cat imagery, which clearly, having donned myself “The Lion-Haired Girl”, I was going to adore- and I wasn’t wrong. From the first notes, I knew I was going to get wrapped up in the overly-produced pop sound and the sweetness and simplicity of the lyrics. I was even more onboard when I realized that she had taken the word “roar” and turned it into “ro-o-o-o-OH-OH-OH-O-ar” during the chorus, which I could easily sing along to at any and all times.

The song came out August 10th, which shouldn’t be overly special to note, but it was.

5 days later, August 15th, my longtime boyfriend moved allllll the way across the United States, (literally, hi Seattle) to live his dream. To “roar” in another state, if you will. (And yes, he will hate this analogy so much because it’s Katy Perry instead of The National, but still). He rode away into the sunset and I remained just about as calm toward the situtation as any early-twenties-millenial-with-too-many-feelings can, which is to say that I ate a lot of deep fried things covered in cheese, made 18 playlists of coping music, texted him nonstop for hours about pointless things, and made impulse purchases of studded leather vests and combat boots because I assumed they would heal my heart (which, let’s be real, they definitely helped).

So, flashforward with me. I’m almost to the end of August and I still can’t get this song out of my head. I’m attempting not to dwell on every question of, “How are you going to make long distance work?” and I’m really doing a good job at taking care of myself. At some point in every day, I still find myself singing or humming the melody and succumbing to the pop masterpiece of “Roar”. I’m wishing I had boxing gloves like Katy had during her VMA performance and by now I’ve learned all the words and harmonies and have even started checking eBay for a knockoff of KP’s tiger satin jacket.

Image

(try not to be impressed by my photoshop skills)

If I was more of a believer in Long Island Medium or the ‘great timing of the universe’, I’d say listening to “Roar” on repeat was supposed to prepare me for September, but it didn’t. In between counting down the days til Katy’s album release in October and working a job with ridiculous hours of 4AM to noon (I know it sounds like I’m complaining, but, stay with me) I got mono.

Yep, that’s right – I get “the kissing disease” after my longtime boyfriend moves away. The jokes just write themselves!

But I don’t just get regular mono. I get mono coupled with a nasty Upper Respiratory Infection and complete with a super fun trip to the ER, which as it turns out, was the first time I had ever been in a hospital for myself and not just to bring flowers to a family member, and as it turns out, filled me with more anxiety than most anything I have encountered on the earth thus far.

(i added some doodles to make this photo of my hospital bracelet less depressing. hooray!)

(i added some doodles to make this photo of my hospital bracelet less depressing. hooray!)

The ER results in everything being okay, just a little scary (thanks a lot, liver levels!). So I take off work for a few days. My sweet roommate and friends rally around me and even my rockstar Mama flies in from Texas to make me soup and take care of me. I go back to work with the instruction that there is no “cure” for mono- I am just supposed to rest and drink fluids for about month and eventually it will go away…and then the defeat sets in. With my job hours already, I go to sleep at 7:30 PM most nights, and so add on being exhausted all the time from mono and I shrink into a cocoon. Not wanting to get anyone contagious, much less have to explain, “Hey, ask me about my mono!” to people, (which, by the way, no one will not freak out after hearing) I don’t see pretty much anyone during the entire month of September, and I certainly don’t listen to “Roar”. I hardly even talk to my roommates. Any calls I make to Seattle to be a supportive girlfriend just end in me whining. Mostly I just fall half asleep and lay in bed and feel sorry for myself. I pout and complain and everything I do becomes an event of “yay me!” or “I’m the worst”. Basically, I’m unbearable.

Now, I don’t say all of this to try and generate a feeling of sorry. People get sick all the time, but September unpolitely reminded me I just clearly am not as strong or independent as I thought I was. I try to talk this big game of being a girl who moved away from all she knew to chase her dreams in Nashville, even if they broke her heart, but all it takes is alone time to feel like I have no clue what I’m doing and to see just how needy I am. The social butterfly inside of me crumbled hard and I began to question what I was even doing anymore.

“But I listen to ‘Roar’ all the time, and every day I wear a lot cat-eye winged eyeliner because I am confident, and I make loud jokes and smile at strangers,” I kept thinking. ” I should be able to handle this! I’m an extrovert and I can tackle anything!” was an attitude I’d adopted forever, but now I was just looking forward to crawling in bed, doctor’s orders or not.

I gave up, in a way. I just kinda was a miserable person to be around and threw one hell of a pity party.

But eventually, about the second week in October, I started to feel better and began to feel like I could stay awake without it feeling like a challenge. I could be around people again and began to actually try and participate in activities that weren’t solely watching bad reality tv and moping. I could spend time with healthy human beings without bringing up how sad I had been and I could make some killer pumpkin s’more doughnut muffins with friends.

However, surprisingly, I didn’t have the immediate “lesson-learned’ feeling afterwards.

As a writer, I want to glamorize things. I want to tell sweeping stories of how life has changed me. I want to hear about your experiences and put them into words that jump off the page or screen and capture the heart.

But I haven’t had that moment. I know September was a lame month, but I didn’t get a big story resolution out of it. It taught me just how weak and spoiled I am, and not having anyone to talk to makes me cranky, but it didn’t give me this deep knowledge about solitude that I felt I could share, so I avoided writing it down. I avoided telling people or I just joked about it (“Remember when I had mono?”) but I still couldn’t shake it, so here I am.

I want you to know, whoever you are reading this, that I’m listening to “Roar” a lot again. I’m probably missing out on “better” and more scholarly music, but I can’t get rid of it, because in some small way, it helps.

Why do we put so much faith in the little things? Because it’s easy, I think. I rely on medicine I purchased at the store with a coupon to heal me, so why can’t a 99-cent single on iTunes do the same?

I’m not 100%. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% satisfied with everything, but I know that I can listen to “Roar” now and not feel like I’m the worst. I can hear it as a fun pop song and get a little bit of empowerment about it, even if I feel like it’s not the dramatic show-stopping song that usually accompanies a huge moment in my life. I can promise myself that just because my life isn’t a movie and that I don’t get to have a “getting better montage,” I am still getting better. I can still bounce back. I can still, well, roar.

So I dedicate “Roar” to mono. I dedicate it to bad days. I dedicate it to thinking you’re depressed when really you’re just young and stupid and have cold feet. I dedicate it to timezones that keep me away from the person who has challenged me for the better and loved me stupidly well the past year. I dedicate it to insecurity. I dedicate it to not learning the lesson immediately, because sometimes it’s okay to say that you’re only 23 and you don’t have it figured out yet and that just because you have a blog does not mean you have to act like you have all the answers.

Regardless of confidence levels, you’re gonna hear me roar. In sickness and in health, you’re gonna hear me roar. Even if it means I have to accept some things as not finished yet, you’re gonna hear me roar. From Seattle to Nashville to New York, you’re gonna hear me ro-o-o-o-OH-OH-OH-ar.

And frankly, if you’re not okay with me roaring, I kinda hope that you get mono.

It’s Uncool To Be Happy

I’ve tried to think of something light and fun to write, but I can’t do it. I’m upset for a lot of reasons, but today, over my soup, I realized that we’ve given positivity a terrible reputation.

To see the good in situations, to greet each day expecting the best is for suckers. It’s weakness, it’s sentimentality, it’s dumb. It’s uncool to be happy or joyful or excited or hopeful.

But, no one ever tells you how hard you have to fight to be positive.

It’s so easy to be negative. It’s terribly simple to walk into a room and instantly see the bad. Criticism is our universal second language. In school we can’t just read books or look at art or watch films or listen to music and let it all breathe. As soon as we’re done with it, or even when we’re still in the middle, we’re supposed to tear it apart. Find the meaning, find the flaws, discover what’s wrong with it or solve the puzzle…even if there is no solution to be found. Yes, there is marvel and wonder and knowledge in dissecting something beautiful, but there is also a harsh glare on the microscope that we place on things.

And, as if it’s not enough, we put our everyday lives under that same microscope that makes it so easy to be negative.

It’s so easy to put things down, including our choices and circumstances.

I’ve seen the quote, or some version like it, a million times-

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. "

Typically we put 18 Instagram filters on this quote, attribute it to Plato and Buddha and Big Bird, and apply it to people who are stoic and reserved and obviously “going through a rough time”. But what about people who are smiling? We never give them the same treatment- simply believing that if you’re happy, your life must be easy.

If you’re truly happy and seeking joy, you must not have any problems.

Oh how wrong and hurtful that mindset is.

I’m not asking anyone to take pity on me and I don’t want to do gruesome details, but I feel like I’m in such an easy place to schedule a breakdown in my life right now. On paper, it would be so easy for me to “justify” being bitter and mad at my circumstances. I could “get away with” being upset and mean to people, and just blame it on my health.  Or my work schedule and ridiculous hours. Or my homesickness for a place that doesn’t exist anymore. Or that today, of all days, is somber and hard to get through. Or the fact that a long distance relationship with different timezones wreaks havoc on the heart. I could parade these things around and throw myself a decent pity party. I mean seriously- I’ve got the supplies. I can wear a black sweatshirt and a scowl, sit in my room and listen to longingly sad playlists, make fun of everyone else’s success, and remove myself from any human interaction except to lash out occasionally at someone who did nothing to deserve it.

But…that’s too easy.

I can’t guarantee everything will be brightly colored ice cream cones. I can’t laugh at every situation just yet, but I can fight tooth and nail to be positive. Being happy isn’t easy for everyone, no matter how much it feels that way in the moment. Expecting the best is a choice, and it’s a decision to wake up every single day and speak gently, hope patiently, and love with reckless abandon. To treat everything with goodness is frankly, hard, when your emotions don’t match up with it, but oh how much good it does for the soul in return.

I long to be positive. I yearn to be positive. I use big sweeping words like these because I don’t know any other way to put it. Call me crazy or a dreamer, unrealistic, a hippie, naiive or restless, but I want to see the good, even if it takes more work.

I want to breathe in deep and exhale slowly and count my blessings.

I want to give a startlingly hopeful answer when someone asks how my day is going.

I want to hold on to my heart.

I want to change positivity’s reputation.