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What I Did While You Were Busy Breeding

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When you turn 30, an odd thing starts to happen. You start noticing the things others chose that you did not. Sometime in our mid 20’s, the ponies start to separate and some folks travel the tried and true path while others seek to forge their own way, riding the coat tails of their passions to the very end.

As Frank Zappa so eloquently puts it:

If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.

Whether you decide to climb the corporate ladder, have babies, travel or launch your own business, do it because you want to. It’s your life. Here’s what I did with mine.

  1. I traveled. I wandered through castle ruins in Wales, rode a horse after one too many beers in Tennessee. I missed trains, got stranded at bus stops, got lost in Rome. I fell in love in London, got stoned at a commune in Copenhagen, looked for witches in Salem, camped with elks in Colorado and experienced the stench of death in New Orleans.
  2. I played roller derby in three different states. Learned to ride a horse, a motorcycle, a plane by myself. I raised a dog.
  3. I had chickens living in my apartment kitchen. Got tattoos. Shaved my head. Traded shoes with drag queens. Wrote a sex advice column.
  4. I moved to Vermont. I moved to Philly. I lived in a sergeants mess in England.  I slept in the back of a car in Brooklyn. I owned a horse, a Ford, a Honda. I helped a sheep give birth on a cold night in New England.
  5. A boy made a movie about me. I worked at a bar where “lingerie lunch” was a thing, a book store, a dry cleaners. I was a hostess.
  6. I wrote a lot. I lost my job and so I launched my own business. I paid my way through Europe with my words.
  7. I dated. I dated a lot. I meditated. I ran. I lost God. I wondered if little girls could be raised by wolves.
  8. I suffered. I witnessed a friend get raped, another take his own life with a rope. I was a bridesmaid. I was a bartender. I was in a burlesque performance – once.
  9. I wanted to publish a book. I practiced yoga. I ate fire.
  10. I found God. Stroked a pet wolf in Portsmouth. Napped in a castle in Cardiff.
  11. Thought about grad school. Thought about marriage. Contemplated babies. Dismissed them all.
  12. Dedicated my hours to my art. Locked myself away for months at a time and honed my skill. I wrote. I wrote. I wrote.
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Bukowski

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OCD

ocdThe first time I saw him

everything in my mind went silent.

It was like opening the door to the morning

on a chicken coop, and having the warbling of

the hens cease.

When you have OCD, your mind is a broken record

of checking, rechecking, worrying, recycling

images over and over and over and over and –

At three a.m. on a Tuesday:

Am I sick? No.

Did I leave the lights on? No.

Am  I sick? No.

Did I leave the lights on? No.

But when I saw him walk through the door

all I could think about was

The curve of his cheekbone

Like the curve of the moon

Or the tear in his sweater;

Tear in his sweater;

Tear in his sweater.

I asked him out eight times in two days

thinking the last invitation was never good enough.

He finally said yes after the fourth one, but it still felt like forced acceptance

so I had to ask him out a ninth time.

He grew to love my irrational fear of mildew

How I thought it was secretly getting into my lungs and trying to kill me

How I spent hours wiping down the bathroom in bleach every night

He loved the fact I worried I was a good person

(Yes, Steph. You are good and true.)

or how I had to check that the doors had been locked again and again and

He was patient when I bought my 12th pair of the same black boots.

And I’d watch his cheekbones raise into a grin

When he said he loved me;

Said he loved me;

Said he loved me;

But you see,

OCD takes up tremendous amounts of time.

Precious, precious, precious time

and he eventually said I was taking up too much of his.

That mildew did not cause cancer, and even if it did

that the constant bleaching would only make it worse and

Why not buy the brown pair this time, Steph?

The doors are already locked, babe. Come back to bed.

When he said he loved me, his cheekbones sagged in a frown.

He told me

that I should stop thinking about him, but…

How can I stop when I only see him?

His cheekbones;

His clavicle;

His hands;

His. His. His.

Usually my obsessions are mold spores infiltrating my lungs.

Is me dying from AIDS alone in a hospital bed.

And he was the first lovely thing I got hooked on.

The curl of his lips

His lips;

His lips;

His lips.

How can he not see that this new girl

Is not worthy of those lips?

Those cheekbones, like the curve of the moon.

I want him back.

I leave the door unlocked.

The lights are always on now.

Inspired by Neil Hilborn’s OCD

How to Become an Adult

older-people-the-web1Quick story: My toilet broke and my dude friend had to take me to Lowe’s to point out what part I needed to buy. The item in question was called a “shank washer,” and, through some kind of great cosmic misfortune, the brand that made it was Ballcock. Put those two phrases together and you get comic genius. I, a thirty-year-old editor, was giggling for the rest of the day, so much so that my buddy decided to leave me at the hardware store.

I’m in no way harping on folks who have the sense of humor of a prepubescent boy. But the ability to break out in maniacal laughter after someone says the word “balls” is an indication of stunted growth. Real grownups surely wouldn’t snicker at some saccharine term for the male genitalia.

Gen Y has been dubbed the unabashedly coddled, microwave-dependent and entirely too selfish generation. And we are! We totally and undeniably are a bunch of adult infants waddling around with our flies down and our heads up our asses.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to figure out this thing known as “adulting.” Here are a few things I’ve learned about being a grownup along the way.

Credit Card Debt

I took myself on a vacation to Mexico while I was in college, all paid for by Mr. Mastercard. I drank fruity adult beverages with tiny umbrellas while hot, semi-naked cabana boys fanned me with palm leaves. Seven years later, I am still paying for that fucking trip.

The Aesop fable? Pay your debts.

Tell the Truth

Do you want to know why 70% of Americans are “depressed?” It’s probably because a.) They’re married to somebody that they hate; b.) They’ve been slaving away at a job that they could care less about for way too long; c.) Their friends suck.

Being honest with yourself and others is one of the easiest ways to live a happy life. Don’t cheat on your boyfriend. I mean, why would you? Are you a giant sniveling piece of chicken shit who’s using him as a scratching post for your own loneliness? Just dump him and the next thing you know, you could be naked on all fours in a cabin in Aspen with Ryan Gosling.

Living with Significant Others

Just don’t do it. Ever. You’ll end up with the cat that they just had to have or else they’d die. And believe me, cats are the worst parting gifts ever. It’s 10-20 years of having to live with a creature that hates you.

Friends

The older you get, the less effort you’ll put into making friends. By the time you’re in your late 20’s, you basically know who you want to keep on Friendship Island and who you want to kick off. So be sure to start picking your tribe wisely.

Travel

Many things have gone wrong while I was traveling. I’ve been robbed.  I also had a French guy vomit in my suitcase and passed out in the bed of a Russian stripper. But all of these add up to awesome stories you’ll want to share with everyone in the end.

Before you’re tied down to a career or kids, dive headfirst into this big, bad lonely planet to gain some perspective.

Boundaries

If you’re the kind of person who thinks it’s totally okay to trade dick pics with a married woman or bail your friend out of prison for the fourth time, you definitely need to learn a little thing called boundaries. These imaginary lines in the sand will come in handy in regards to your self-respect and intrinsic worth.

A Dog is Good Practice for a Baby

If you want to see if you’re up for the challenge of reproducing, puppy-sit your buddy’s dog for a weekend. Watch all of your carefree time watching YouTube videos on how to communicate with zebras circle the drain. Become comfortable with the fact that you have to clean up another being’s huge, warm pile of shit. Remember that you need to come home early from the bar and you can’t go home with Mr. Tall Dark & Handsome because you need to let the dog out.

Going Out

The need to be a mover and shaker 24/7, do things in public and document those things on 23 different social-networking sites is overwhelming, especially in your 20’s. As human beings, we have a huge desire to be accepted by the pack and fit in. And if that means a night of heavy binge drinking while listening to some awful Bauhaus cover band while goth kids are grumpily hula-hooping, then so be it.

Facebook

One of the most important things to learn is that nobody’s life is as fantastic as the way it appears on the internet. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all self-indulgent mini-me websites that only document the fun and exciting times in a person’s life. I mean, nobody is going to tweet about how they just got stood-up or Instagram a picture of their face during a menstrual-cramp session.

A Math Equation: There Are No Good Men Left

50.76 million single men over the age of 18 in the U.S. images

59% of guys between the ages of 18 and 24 (11.2 million) live with their parents

1/3 of male college students have experienced erectile dysfunction (33% which amounts to about 896,280 of the 2,716,000 men between the ages of 18 and 24 who attended college in the U.S. during 2012)

1,497,714 men in prison

– 23,543 self-proclaimed “Juggalos” in the U.S.

– 13.655 million single men who own cats in the U.S.

– 1 in 5 will be gay (this isn’t a bad thing, they’re just not into getting down and dirty with ladies)

= 18,789,791

Which basically amounts to one quality single guy for every eight women. And I didn’t subtract the dudes who are emotionally unavailable, unemployed, suffer from a”Peter Pan” complex, think Iron Maiden is the greatest thing in the world, don’t practice daily hygiene, etc.

I’m not really good at this math stuff, but when you look at all of the statistics, it leaves like only one good guy for every 56 women. So how do we go about dividing that up? Do I get a toe? A forearm? A piece of a good guy shoulder? That kinda sucks.

The OkCupid Inbox of Every 20-Something Girl in Philly, Ever

OkCupidHey I’m Manny I live in Collingswood. Can I call or text you? I’m not on here too often. I’m 6’3, four kids (though they don’t live with me. They’re at their moms). I like sex and giving and receiving massages.

Hey. Can I rub and suck ur feet?

Hey… You look like my mom.

I want you to sit on my face 😉

Ur beautiful. Wud u sleep wit me on the 1st date???

Hi I love life, friends, Dave Mathews Band, trees, and hamsters

Have you had a lot of pregnancy scares?

Have you ever listened to Taylor Swift? If you love her body of work then we’re a perfect match! If you’ve never heard of her don’t bother responding.

I may be old enough to be your father, but I have lots of money and I can still get it up! ;)~

Based on the picture of you holding your dog, I can tell that you are gorgeous but very sad and I’d like to change that. I hope you’ll open up to me and we’d be a great couple!

Hey, do yourself a favor and dont put on any makeup……….it messes with perfection 😉

My name Alberto. I am IT worker in office. I live in condo with cousin. I was born in India but live in U.S. You be very pretty.

I fux wit u. My name Reese how u?

Steak is awesome!

Nice tatz. Did they hurt?

hey im mike, so i wasnt going to message you because i know the chances of you responding might be slim to none but damnit i had to try haha … i think your soo pretty and i would give anything just to talk a little ! i have an awesome personality and a loyal heart and just want to meet someone that i can be myself around ! i hope you decide to message me back and give me the chance to know you a little better… like would you want to burry a random body or someone you know ? hahaha

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yes.

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10 Things I Learned in My 20s

shutterstock_64876648I remember turning 20 like it was yesterday. I was bombed out of my mind and my car had been towed. In a moment of sheer confidence that only alcohol can create, I thought it was an absolutely brilliant idea to walk the two miles (I lived in a very rural town in Vermont during my early 20’s so walking places in the dark alone while not sober wasn’t totally out of the question) down to the tow-yard with three paperclips and unlock the boot on my  car with them. Needless to say, office supplies don’t unlock car boots, and I had to return the next morning, awfully hungover and embarrassed, with the money to bail my car out of automobile prison. While unlocking the boot, the dude who ran the tow-yard said that there was broken paperclips in the keyhole and it looked like somebody had been trying to steal my car. When he looked at me suspiciously, I just shrugged my shoulders and said who could possibly want to steal a Ford Escort.

It’s been almost a decade since then, and my 20’s have taught me other valuable lessons besides trying to liberate your car with paperclips after 5493939 beers will always end badly. Here are 10 other life lessons this decade has taught me.

1.) Not everyone is going to adore you. I know it may seem hard to believe that out of the 6.5 billion people in the world, 10 of them just won’t like you, but it’s true. You cannot please everyone, no matter how hard you try. So just suck it up, move on and forget about them. Haters gonna hate.

2.) The real world is going to suck. Hard. My first big girl job out of college was working as a secretary at an insurance company. I took the job because a.) I was desperate and b.) I thought it was going to be mindless, easy work. The second week I was there, my boss made me look into a mirror every time I took a phone call and smile, because “If you’re smiling, it will shine through your voice” his logic went. He also thought I was too “uptight” and made me listen to Enya for two weeks straight to “calm my soul.” I recall being stuck in traffic on my way home and sobbing hysterically to my mother about how much reality sucked. I just couldn’t believe people actually drove in traffic to a job and worked everyday for a paycheck and that, after five carefree years in college, now I had to do the same thing.

3.) Your first apartment or house will be awful, but you’ll love it because it’s yours. I remember the first house I lived in after I graduated college. It was loathsome. It was in the middle of the ghetto and was always infested with cockroaches and the roof was caving in and the carpet was coming up and it always smelled like onions. But I loved that house because it was my cockroach infestation, my dilapidated roof and my unhinged door. Your first home out of college isn’t going to be glamorous, but it’ll be yours.

4.) You will have embarrassing sexual encounters. You may fall off a loft bed in the heat of the moment and land on a drum kit, fracturing your wrist. Your roommate may walk in on you one night. You may forget the guy’s first name. There might be a situation that involves a lot of pigeons and balloons. Any number of pitiful and humiliating things can and will happen. Be prepared to go through a phase when you want to join a convent for a couple weeks after each occasion.

5.) A close friend will make you feel like shit. Somebody you love dearly will break your heart. They will remove it from your chest, dip it in liquid nitrogen, and then drop it. It doesn’t matter how or when or where they do it, it’s only important that it will inevitably happen. Be prepared to cry and lose your trust in humanity and feel like your stomach is going to drop through your butt. Also be prepared to fall in love with people again and make better and brighter friends.

6.) You may travel. You may not. You may buy a plane ticket to another country after a guy dumps you and one too many glasses of wine. You may wake up the next morning and scream when you look at your bank statement and then want to get a refund. But somehow, you’ll end up going across the ocean anyway and discovering different people, different cultures, different ways of thinking, and ultimately, discovering yourself.

7.) You will fall in love with the wrong person. Over and over and over and over. You will make this mistake until you understand that you are worthy of better things. And then you’ll discover that all men suck and you’ll want to stay single until you die.

8.) You will realize your parents are fucking rockstars. You will no longer be embarrassed about how your mother used to dress in a black ski-mask so that she could discreetly illegally feed wild deer at nighttime or get angry when your father yells at you for loading the dishwasher wrong. They put up with you as a sulky, bratty and spoiled teenager. They financially (and emotionally/mentally/spiritually) supported you during college, even though you were buying beer instead of food with that money. They rooted for you when you landed your first real job and adopted a dog and learned how to do your taxes. And they will continue rooting for you.

9.) You cannot escape death or taxes. People you love will die. You will die. One of your best friends will die quietly in his bed from an overdose at the age of 32. Another friend will battle cancer for three years, and eventually lose…leaving behind a toddler and a husband.

You will freelance write for two years and owe thousands of dollars in taxes. You will feel the government is taking advantage of you. You will throw a tantrum and stomp your feet and pout, but in the end, you will pay them.

10.) You will turn 30. Hangovers will be worse. Cupcakes will go straight to your thighs. You will start thinking about babies and Botox. You will miss your 20’s, but find a quiet peace that the decade of debauchery and self-discovery is finally over.

The Broke Girl’s Guide to Foodshopping

GarlicGrilledCheese1As an almost 30-year-old single woman with a laughable checking account balance and no culinary skill what-so-ever, my cooking abilities are sorely limited. Usually, my main food groups consist of Lean Cuisine, Diet Coke and cereal. If you’re broke and starving, here’s the perfect grocery list for you. I’ve also included no-hassle recipes for those who are also guilty of poisoning 10 of their closest friends at a dinner party.

Your List:

4 cans of soup

Grapes

1 lb. ground beef

Butter

Milk

4 apples

4 bananas

3 boxes of generic cereal

Sliced whole wheat bread

Taco kit (w/ shells)

Orange Juice

Coffee

Block of cheese of your choosing

Chocolate

1 jar of peanut butter the size of a Rottweiler

Meals for One:

Tacos with slices of cheese (minus hot sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and any other fancy garnish that’d drain your meager bank account)

Cheese sandwich

Cheese and bacon sandwich

Cheese and taco sandwich

Bowl of cereal with one kind of cereal

Bowl of cereal with THREE kinds of cereal

Cereal in handfuls

Soup with bread and butter

Soup without bread

Soup with grilled cheese

Coffee

Coffee w/ milk

PB sandwich

PB and Banana sandwich

PB & Apple sandwich

PB & Grape sandwich

Grapes and cheese fruit platter

Apple and cheese fruit platter

Grilled cheese

Grilled cheese w/ bacon

Chocolate, alone, just like you are

2012: A Wrap-Up

rip-2012

So 2012 came and went without a hitch. The world didn’t blow up, aliens didn’t come down from the skies to abduct anyone, and we’re still all food shopping, procreating and being lonely.

This past year was pretty good to me. Here’s a brief rundown of my 2012 highlights:

– After almost two years of working for myself, I finally got a full time job which I love and that allows me to telecommute and travel.

– I walked away from something that I’ve loved since I was 22 but no longer served a purpose in my life anymore, and I’m okay with that.

– I learned the difference between being alone and lonely. I learned how to enjoy being single for the first time in my life.

– Disaster can strike anywhere, even on a once-in-a-lifetime European vacation. After being robbed on the first day of my month long journey, I learned how to roll with the punches and enjoy myself even in the face of conflict.

I hope 2013 will be my biggest year yet. I actually have high hopes for this coming year. I wanna write my novel, visit Thailand for a month and play with elephants there, be brave enough to ask for (and receive) a raise, and buy a scooter. I’ll also be turning 30 this year and want to start taking better care of my body.

And I hope to make more mistakes this year. Huge, wonderful, gorgeous mistakes. Because, as Neil Gaiman so eloquently puts it:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Happy 2013, dear readers.