Life, Opinion, Rules To Live By

25 Rules to Live By

I’m not religious, but was raised in a fanatical Born-Again Christian environment. I have some sadness having grown up in such a stifling atmosphere, but have always been glad to have gained a moral root system that, at this point, comes naturally to me. I am extraordinarily liberal in my views, and really have no idea how I am a product of such a controlled and manipulative childhood condition.

Every religion has a list of rules. Christianity has the 10 Commandments, Buddhism has the Eight-Fold Path and the Four Noble Truths, and Islam has 38 Prohibitions. I don’t like to think of these lists as rules, but rather a guideline for how to live life.  If you break the rules down they are pretty much telling you not to steal or cheat or lie or idolize, etc, etc…

Now, I am certainly no moral authority, but I have lived what feels like a million lifetimes already, and have generated a list of rules that I aspire to keep. Sometimes the rules are a struggle, and sometimes they are a joy.

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Rule #1: Be Kind 

Ah, yes! The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s pretty much a “DUH” rule, but you would be surprised at how many rude and awful people there are out there. This rule deals with both empathy for others and karma for yourself. Of course some people take in a “harm or be harmed” approach to life, which is easy to fall into if you are bitter or overly morose. I find that in my own personal life, this is the easiest and most rewarding rule to follow. I suspect that goes for most of us, unless you’re obtuse, then you’re screwed and so are the rest of us.

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Rule #2: Eat Well

This rule sucks. I love pizza and bagels and cheese, which makes Rule #2 one of the harder rules for me to follow. I do my best, however, to intake life’s yummy pleasures by moderating them and I never EVER eat fast food anymore (even though I almost broke down and bought a small French Fry from McDonalds the other day). I have found the more that you eat salad, the more you crave it. Of course if I do eat a salad I tend to offset it with a sprinkle of cheese because somehow it’s easy to rationalize.

Also, avoid sodas and too much juice (unless you make it yourself). Drink water instead. 80% of your body will be happy while the entire 100% will thank you.

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RULE #3: No Spitting

This rule is on here because of something that Captain Clam and I witnessed yesterday while on our commute to our fabulous new jobs. A woman sitting on a subway bench got up in front of us as we were about to pass by and spit (like a huge loogie) onto the train tracks. Yeah, just like that. If you do need to spit, be discrete. Pretend it’s a pee that you really need to take and go hide behind a tree or in a corner. Not all up in my face.

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Rule #4: Be Generous

It is better to give than receive, yes? Yes! I love Christmas because I get to give people things that I want them to have. Of course, they want me to have socks and other oddities, but I am happy to receive these items. Of course, I totally one-up them with a handmade picture frame or a sweet ass bonsai tree that is older than I am. In some ways being generous also makes me feel selfish, since it is my goal to give you a better gift than you give to me.

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Rule #5: Be Honest

Growing up I was taught that “honesty is the best policy.”  Sadly, it really didn’t matter if I lied or told the truth – I always got in trouble regardless.  At a certain point, I figured if I came clean, then the punishment wouldn’t be so bad. Looking back I realize that lies lead to more lies, and that is just no good in the long run.

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Rule #6: Get a Pet

Pets make life so much better and serve as a great replacement for children or a training tool for becoming a parent. They take away stress and anxiety and are faithful friends for as many years as they can carry. A Sub-Rule to Rule #6 is that you should give your pet a unique or funny name.  You should also give your pets nicknames that suit their personalities. They are fuzzy children, so treat them that way.

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Rule #7: Wipe the Seat

If you pee on the seat, wipe it off. People will be more likely not to pee on the seat if it is already clean because then it is safe to sit on. Plus, it’s gross if you don’t, especially if it’s in your own bathroom.

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Image courtesy of Leigh Kosloski.

Rule #8: Write Letters

There are only a few things that are more awesome than receiving a letter in someone’s own handwriting. In this age of technology, it’s acceptable to be informal with email and private messaging. Send a letter every once in a while, it will do good for your soul and brighten the day of the recipient. Plus it will help the Postal Service stay in business for just a little longer. You also get to exercise handwriting skills. When is that last time you wrote in script? Do you even know how to anymore? It’s almost like a foreign language. Maybe you should learn it (and send me a damn snail mail already)!

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Rule #9: Cry

It’s okay to cry. It’s actually healthy. A Sad movie or YouTube video can trigger the waterworks, so let it. Don’t hold it in. It will make your brain happy.

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Rule #10: Drink Beer

This is another one of those rules that I have no problem imbibing by (did you see my attempt at a very clever pun?). Beer has nutritional value, and, if indulged in moderation, will have excellent effects to your health and overall mood. Don’t believe me? Check it HERE.

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Rule #11: Bathe Daily

Unless you are camping out in the woods, this should be followed religiously. Do I need to say more?

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Rule #12: Talk to Strangers

Unless you are under the age of 14, Stranger Danger shouldn’t be as serious as it was when you were 6. Of course always beware of people you don’t know (as well as some people you do know). Saying Good Morning to a stranger is not only going to make you feel good, but may change the course of someone else’s day.

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Rule #13: Be on Time

If you know me at all then you know that this rule is a constant struggle for me. In recent history I have greatly improved my statistics for being on time, which means showing up exactly at 8 am for work, or catching the train or bus needed to get to my hosts in other counties / states at the exact time they expect my arrival. Being on time is important. It shows that you are reliable and dilligent. Be that. And get a Mickey Mouse watch, because they are simply awesome.

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Rule #14: Be Fearless

My High School varsity basketball coach would always tell me “Have ice in your veins.” What a pep talk! I would get back out on the court with the strength and honor of a thousand buffalo. Yay!

Have you ever wondered what is there really to be afraid of? I try to consider my biggest fear to be myself. I really don’t have any idea what we, as humans, are capable of. Fearing the unknown is a trait that has been learned. I once read an article about a woman who has no amygdala (read HERE), which makes her immune to fear. If only we could learn to control the fear “juice” and extend ourselves beyond the unknown, then we would be limitless, and truly fearless. For now I will just settle for overcoming a fear of Spiders (a fear that my silly ex-boyfriend gave to me). In reality, they aren’t so bad.

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 Rule #15: Try

Another one of my High School mentors was my Chorus teacher. He once gave a short lecture on the word TRY and related it to music as well as life. If you don’t make an effort, then your heart is not really in whatever it is you are doing. If you are passionate about what you are doing, then why not exhaust yourself doing it?

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Rule #16: Stick up for Yourself

This one might be an obvious one, but for me it is certainly a struggle. I am a huge fan of passive aggression and try to avoid confrontation at all costs. I am, however, working on toughening up my skin and have learned that I don’t have to take shit from anybody. In fact, I am learning to give shit back where shit is due.

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Rule #17: Be Happy in Your Work

You will spend most of your life working. Sometimes all you work for is for a paycheck. Sadly, when most of your life is spent simply earning a check, your life will not be a happy one. A paycheck does not determine happiness. Happiness determines happiness.

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Rule #18: Help Others

Holding a door for your neighbor who is carrying a shit load of groceries or helping a stranger with a baby stroller climb the stairs will restore a sense of goodness in humanity as well as make both you and that other person a little more grateful for being alive. Have you ever fed the homeless? Or even played basketball with a friends kid? Helping others is another way to help yourself. We should all learn to do it naturally.

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Rule #20: Call your Mom

Moms worry and they want to hear from you. And when you actually go and see your mom, bring her flowers. She has most certainly earned them.

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Rule #21: Don’t Stare

If you are going to stare, then make it a point not to get caught.

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Rule #22: Watch Less TV

There is a real world out there. I will never understand how people spend their time watching someone else’s life on a reality TV show. Don’t you have your own life to live? TV should be treated like beer: Indulge in moderation.

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Rule #23: Don’t be Wasteful

Your old food can go a long way. Share with nature. Start a mulch pile. Make a bird feeder. Plant a flower garden. There are many ways to “feed the ducks” and it starts with you being environmentally responsible.

Captain Clam grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. He taught me so many things that have changed my perspective on being (even just a little bit) green. We toss old coffee grinds and egg shells in our outside planters (which is really good for the plants, by the way). We use tupperware and wash our zip-lock bags for re-use. We pack our recyclables in separate bags so building management can sort them more efficiently (or the can collectors don’t tear through the bags in haste, causing a nasty, dirty scene on the sidewalk). We use canvas shopping bags and any plastic bags are used for garbage liners or art projects.

Imagine if everyone did stuff like this? Be aware of nature and don’t take it for granted.

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Rule #24: Love

If you truly love, let it be frivolous. Everyone needs love, and if you give love, it will most certainly be returned to you.

I love you.

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Rule #25: Break the Rules

I know, I know. This is a list of rules to follow and the last rule is to break the rules. Obviously some rules are ridiculously dumb and are meant to be broken.  And when you do break a rule, there is some sense of independence and defiance that is completely satisfying. You should always question any rule and play the devil’s advocate, even if you are not the devil. Always question everything. There is no reason anyone should ever tell you how to live your life.

This list was a lot longer when I first started writing. Most of the rules coincided with each other, so it was easy to edit in some ways, and harder to edit in other ways. Some of these items are obvious and already imbedded in our character, and yet some are a struggle or a personal goal that reflects the person we want to one day be. I am not always right, although in my mind I am hardly ever wrong. But when I am wrong, I know it.

My personal take on rules to live by is one of poetic and philosophical gesture. I can sum it up by telling you that you don’t need a book or religion to tell you what to do. You tell yourself what to do as you are your own maker. There are no actual “Rules to Live By” and while some people believe that certain rules are written in stone (literally (just google “Moses”)), there is no such thing. Your set of rules will differ from everyone else’s, but as long as you live a good life (or at least give it your best effort), you will be golden.

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By Definition, Change, Opinion, Shakespeare, Social Media, The English Language, Twerk, Vocabulary, Words

I Doth Protest!

All I can say is… Holy Miley Cyrus. The entire week following the VMA’s should have just been dedicated to her and that ridiculous performance and all the meme’s that followed on our beloved social media sites.  And if her parents weren’t proud of her after all that unnecessary crudeness, they must be now since she also contributed a new word to the dictionary in honor of a sinking generation. Twerk. Awesome. Let’s try it in a sentence, shall we? I wish that twerk wasn’t a word. Done.

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Long gone are the days of taking old words and finding new meanings for them. God forbid anyone under the age of 22 learns a vocabulary word, how to spell it, and how to change it so that it takes on a new meaning that retains part of it’s old meaning… Like the word “Grinding,” which can be associated to a dance move that is very similar, if not the same, as twerking. One of my favorite words that was recycled to express a dance move is “swerve.” I used to confuse it with “swivel, ” but then realized that the swivel was my own personal dance style, and was not even closely related to the elegance of the swerve. But I digress.

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Swerve or Swivel?

Now, as you can tell, I love to write do my best to abide by the laws of grammar and punctuation (and gravity), but the additions and constant changes to the acceptable English Language Dictionary are out of control. Recent additions to the dictionary include: Selfie, Phablet, Squee, Srsly (seriously?), Buzzworthy (isn’t that 2 words?), and unlike (Check out the tragedy HERE). I’m pretty sure the hard core Scrabble gamers are very excited for the extra help, but I am feeling a little less complete these days (although am strangely okay with “unlike” as it seems like a natural progression in the scheme of life and I wonder why it was not added sooner).

Where do we draw the line? At BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)? Can we just have an acronym of internet language dictionary? I’d be okay with that. I’d be okay with a slang dictionary, too… or even one huge book of words with sections for sophisticated, slang, and acronym/internet languages.

A brief history in the English language tells me that the Oxford Dictionary has had “the last word on words” for over 100 years, so they must know exactly what they are doing, right? Wait, what ARE they doing? I do not love you right now!

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See what I just did right there?

Granted, I understand the importance of reflecting word usage of the time, but the new changes and additions do not reflect a major demographic of the English Speaking world as it stands today. I would like to think that the digital world we live in does some sort of history keeping for the age, as quickly as it passes in the digital time zone that lives in and beyond the universe.

I am not against the addition of words that are in common use. BUT words that are just two words placed together or are words that already exist but are missing a vowel… these are not words! They are words that are misspelled. I cannot agree with the addition of these aborted words to the official book of words. An extra space is not going to kill you, friends! Even on twitter, people know what you mean if you need to leave a vowel or a space out. They don’t need a dictionary definition to make sure you are saying what they think you might be saying.

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#Srsly?

Perhaps this is where the line is drawn between New English and New Old English? Maybe. I came across the UrbanDictionary.com definition of “twerk”, which defines it as being “The rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in ones intended audience” (You can check that out HERE). Can someone tell me why the definition of the word is way more sophisticated than the word itself? And why has my spellcheck not been updated yet? Oh, because twerk is a made up word. It’s pure Jabberwocky (a word which does meet my spell check standards, by the way).

Another recent change to the English Language is the word “literally,” which no longer leans literally, but has transformed into “figuratively.” Is this George Orwell’s 1984, where Love is Hate and War is Peace? Has a word that has been overly exaggerated for so long now become the exact opposite of it’s meaning? And how long will it take to regain its literal meaning (read more HERE)?

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My brain hurts.

In Shakespeare’s day, he invented well over 1500 words, which include glorious gems such as, lonely, obscene, addiction, bedazzled (what!?), fashionable, radiance, and drugged (the list continues HERE if you’re interested is anything that is sacred).

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Even if this is the case….

Now, did he really invent these words, or were they obscurely used during his day? Did the local harlot coin the word “arouse” during a sexy performance to bend men to her will? I don’t know, but I am confident that “twerking” is not a piece of poetry (and certainly not one that is in motion). Now, this last statement is not meant to discount Miley as a poet. I mean, “Wrecking Ball” really does touch the inside of my soul. Literally.

Miley Cyrus is certainly no Shakespeare, and I hate to reference her, Shakespeare, and George Orwell in the same essay. I am ashamed and I apologize to my more serious readers (do you even exist anymore? Oh, there you are… the only one’s still here!).

Question: Did Miley Cyrus even invent “twerking”? Because I’m pretty sure that there was a lot of that going on when I was in middle school, except us kids did it at the Community Center Dances, or in basements at house parties… not on National TV in front of babies and moms and people who (well, maybe used to) respect us. And I’m positive that my dad would have beaten the shit out of me if he ever saw me doing that at all, especially while wearing flesh colored plastic booty shorts grinding on a full grown son of the Dad from Growing Pains.

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Oh Please. We were doing this shit in the 90’s…

Somehow, she gave a new name to “grinding” and wrote a song about it, making it a raunchier display of rebellion than I remember. Somehow giving “twerk” an official meaning in the English Language seems like a reward for bad behavior. Just sayin’ (hey, we should add that term to the dictionary).

Seriously, what is happening to the English language? Are we becoming so intelligent that we need to add more words to our language because of all the hard and thoughtful thinking taking place? Or are we adding more words to the language because it needs to be dumbed down enough to help this lost generation? A generation that is too busy to open “them readin’ books” because they are devouring video games, streaming movies, and tweeting on their iPhones.

So dear English speakers and readers, I submit to you my word for review in next years Dictonary Edition:

Douche-Baguette:

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Is she about to vomit? Oh no wait, that’s me.

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Adventure, Change, FUN!, Weight Gain

30

30-Years-Old

There are tons of things that no one tells you will happen when you turn 30. Thank god I’m here (I know you must think that everyday). I have a friend named Bean who is significantly older than me (well, not really that much older), and she told me that shit just goes to shit when you turn 30 and no one warns you about it. I feel it is my duty to give all you almost 30-something ladies (like the 26 -29.5 crowd) a big fat heads up.

I’m 31. Well, 31 and a half, but I still think I’m 13 (see, that’s 31 bakwards. I’m so clever). I somehow managed to get myself this far, so there must be a god (just kidding, there isn’t (oh poo, don’t be mad that I just said that)). I have learned some things through having older sisters and older friends and, well, just entertaining way too many “hard knocks.”

Ok, so here we go.

You Gain Weight

Yup. Your body slows the hell down. You can’t keep it off unless you really try. And if you like beer (which you also acquire a taste for by your 30’s (unless you already have one)) you can surely count on those pounds adding to your newly sagging chin-scape. And Birth Control? Be choosey into what goes into your body. Your 30’s are WAY different than your 20’s, so be careful with the hormones.

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29 years 364 days vs 30 years 1 day

You Just Can’t Hang Like You Used To

Hangovers will last, if not ALL DAY, the entire weekend (since drinking during the week is now a death sentence and you would never dream of going out on a Tuesday). You really just can’t drink like you used to. And if you decide to go out, all you want to do is go back home and watch Netflix with a bottle of wine and something Carbohydrate to “soak it up” with while wearing a snuggie or “real” pajamas. Hanging out is for the frat kids. And they are now way too annoying to even deal with.

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You’re getting too old for hangovers.

You Throw Dinner Parties

You convince yourself that it’s almost cheaper than going out and you can get a little shitty without having to worry about getting home or having really uncomfortable shoes on. Plus you get to show off your cooking skills, which you learned from all of the cooking shows that you are now addicted to. How adult of you! Hopefully you have a dishwasher or super awesome guests.

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Feeling like your parents yet?

You Want to Mate, Like, Always

You turn 30 and that clock just starts ticking very loudly. If you haven’t already had a kid (one or two is enough ladies), then you start thinking about it, and you really really want one…. or you consider getting a puppy. Plus mating is important and you are so ready to still feel young and sexy.

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Insert Baby Here.

You Hope to Get Carded

I always say  “I love you” to whoever cards me, even if they tell me that it’s Virginia State Law to card everyone under blah blah blah…. I feel good no matter what.

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Yes, please!

You Like to Sit

If there is a seat on the train, you will gladly run, fight, and kill for it. You are a lazy mess if you don’t normally work out, but even when you do, sitting is still a hobby and you will do it joyfully.

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You would KILL for this seat…

When I was Your Age

Yeah. That’s now you…

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You’re Not Cool Anymore

Yeah. That sucks. You really have to TRY and keep up with the times. Everything is for a younger generation these days. Even though you’re still young (and you tell yourself that everyday), no one cares about your age group. You have no idea who any of the new musical “talents” are and it takes double the time to figure out how to do something on an app or in a computer program and you still have to go and ask your 15 year old niece to show you.

Also, being a 30 year old hipster these days is just kinda lame. You really have to try not to be a hipster in your 30’s… Subdue subdue subdue…. Graphic T’s are still okay, but polka dots and plaids with dip-shit glasses with no frames are just way too “senior in high school” for you.

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Do hipsters even know this is what they look like most of the time anyway?

You Smell

Holy crap, please shower everyday. Those armpits are stank, even if you don’t work out. And you certainly can’t wear those cheap Payless Slipper shoes anymore, since your feet soak up all the stinkiness of the day and amplify it tenfold, even if you only wear those plastic shoes for 10 minutes.

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You Grow Facial Hair

Grab a box of facial bleach or go get threaded (waxing causes pimples, friends) because YOU NOW HAVE A MUSTACHE! It’s okay. A good tan will cover it, but most likely, you gotta visit the salon or one of those Indian ladies with a basket full of thread. They can do your unibrow, too, as well as those sideburns that have been inching down the minute you celebrated your third decade on this earth! Oh and you also grow toe hair. Yup.

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Some of us can pull it off…

You Shave Less

I don’t know about you, but if I know I’m not going anywhere on a weekend, I skip on the armpits. And the legs. And I sometimes skip on the toe hair, too.

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You Cry… a lot

Saw that cute kitty video? Or the Autistic man singing the National anthem? Tears. Go ahead and cry. It’s okay! You actually look for those touching videos on the internet, just so you don’t feel like humanity is going to shit right around you.

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It’s okay. The world isn’t so bad!

You Get Sick to Your Stomach

Long gone are those days of putting hot sauce on everything without having to face the consequence…. and that over-dose binge on Sushi will keep your face in the toilet for hours. You definitely “learn” how to eat and let your body decide what it should and should not have. You even look forward to a good salad. Crunch.

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No thanks. That hurts my teeth.

You Ache

Your feet hurt. Your knees are achey. You’re tired. Nothing says “you’re old” like the pains of growing older. Even typing for too long will make your wrists hurt…. and have you written a letter in a while? Even the stamina for that is gone. You begin to sleep with ibuprofen on your night stand instead of in your medicine cabinet.

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You Worry

You start to realize what all of the important things in life really are. You may not be political, but the things in this world really start to affect you. Long gone are those days of caring about what he hell Britney thinks she is doing, or keeping up with the Jones’, when you barely feel like you can keep up with yourself. And it’s okay catch up on the LiLo tragedy, but it’s not going to cause any sleep loss.

You are 30

Once you turn 30, you will always be thirty until you turn 40, then you will be 35. The age of lying about your age in the wrong direction has now officially started. Welcome to the years of fretting over weird things, like tiny lines around your lips, or how 6 hours of sleep just doesn’t cut it anymore. You want to eat dinner at 6:30 and go to bed at 9:30. You even start to know just where that one little grey hair is going to grow in within the next few days.

Aging as a woman these days is so ridiculously blown out of proportion. With all the “advances” is beauty technologies (like Plastic Surgery and injectable youth) we will always be able to find something that’s not right with our faces or bodies. But age 30 is somehow a defining moment for us personally and for society. I’d like to say I don’t care, but moving on to 32 in the next few months as an unmarried motherless cat lady, I am starting to worry that my time will be set in stone soon, based on where I thought I’d be when I was 20. But  then again, I know I still have time.. I am still young and still feeling as beautiful as I was when I was 28 (or 17 or 10). Plus the fact that a homeless man spewing chewed donut all over the place told me that I was so beautiful that I made him cry. Yep… I still got it!

So when you turn 30, please be happy to know that it is the new 25. Phew!

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9/11, Adventure, Change, New York City

This Week: A New York Minute

 

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…not even ashamed…

What a fucking week.

These past 6 days were quick for me and not-so-much for everyone else…. and anyone who lives in “the country” is still pushing through Wednesday. But New York City? We are already getting ready for Christmas!

I jest, but am also totally serious. This will be a short post, since I have had “it” (or not gotten enough) but wanted to get a few thoughts out before these brain movements turn to jaded dust (is that an exotic stone?).

What a week for this great city. We had Voting Day, Back to School, September 11th, Fashion Week, and Friday the 13th. I have no idea which day was more more important to the majority, but I suppose it really depends on what demographic you belong to. I cared and was interested, but what I really noticed the most was the jump in energy in the city. There was a kindness that was shown at the beginning of of the week that did not exist at the end of it, but the people were out and being alive. It felt good.

Of course the energy also sucked with the 7am invasion of Children and super-model types who, somehow, have no manners, which made Friday the 13th  a very warm welcome (is that even a thing?). The Mayoral election will not be addressed at this moment (but please read my previous post to feel my feelings about 9/11)).

I can’t even begin to say what I want to say. This was an extremely important week for New York City, and yet it slipped by like most things do here. No matter what people say or think or do or respond to, the city is alive and this week was a lively one. You didn’t have to vote, or notice those kids on the train in the morning (ruining your morning quiet time), or those lights in the sky, honoring the heavens, or those way-too-skinny gals parading around like they didn’t have to let anyone off the train before they got on… and Friday the 13th? No one even noticed. But the City noticed, and it was full of energy.

This week was hard, but just what everyone needed; Hope, New Beginnings, Sadness and Remembrance, Fashion, and Fear. As hard as this week was to get through, it was easy. It was brilliant. Next week will be the same, as will the week after that (until it’s February and we all want to relocate to Florida, but we know we will always come back…).

I love you, New York City, you always surprise me and never let me down. 

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9/11, Change, New York City, South Bronx

My City of Change

Cindy-Sherman

Cindy Sherman

My childhood dream was to live in New York City. I wanted to be an actor and a fire-woman and a lawyer and a hippy and an artist and a flapper all in the same moment. Truth is, I didn’t really care what I was, as long as I was here.

The city has always given me a sense of connection. I remember coming in on the LIRR Ronkonkoma line from Long Island and smelling newspapers and popcorn at Penn Station (every now and then I catch a whiff of that and I am 10 years old again). Every once in a while I am overcome with the nostalgia that my former life was once played out on the silver screen with New York City as the timelessly sexy metal and stone backdrop (jazz, of course, being the official soundtrack).

New York City has always been waiting for me. I will believe that always no matter where in the the world I may be. It is always hard to leave, but very easy to come back. The city itself calls to me. There are places and times that I revisit over and over again; Minetta Lane in Early Spring (where that one little bend in the road makes me feel like I am in 1920’s Paris), Poets Alley in Mid-Summer (where my lover holds my hand and I wonder how the leaves could ever be so green), Bleecker Street in Autumn (where the youth swarm the city to revive some life and style to the already teaming energy), and St. Mark’s Place (anytime of year, where I reminisce with old friends and wonder what that bohemian neighborhood would have been like if I had lived there once upon a time ago).

This city is somehow always and never the same. It is it’s own universe, changing it’s face and the attitudes of anyone who wants to be or is part of the city, even if for just a moment. New York City changed me more times than I can count, and that is before I ever even lived here. The beloved skyline is always changing…. sometimes because of progress and sometimes because of tragedy. I could never forget September 11, 2001. It is a story for (and of) our time. I remember not believing that it could be real, even a week later, driving over the Pulaski Bridge with an iron fist pressed into my stomach. I am still filled with sadness during this time of year, but always find warm hope in the light-filled memorial downtown.

That day, New York City changed everyone’s lives, it changed the world.  And even with that horror in the back of my mind, I still couldn’t fight it. I turned my collar up, rolled down my sleeves, bought some mousetraps, and moved to this manmade paradise.

I spent my first 7 years shacked up in a raw, industrial 2,000 Sqft loft in the South Bronx. I made art and the best of friends and neighbors, collected way too many things (like cats and couches and holes in the walls) made at least 3 tons of tacos, and never once ever realized that I was changing; life was changing. It wasn’t until I moved to Brooklyn that I saw a very different me. Like a mountain growing over the course of millions of years, it was a gradual growth that I barely saw happening. I can’t really say exactly what happened, but somewhere along the way I grew a pair of balls that were larger than the ones that I thought I could grow (or even needed) and stopped taking so much shit from friends, family, and even people I didn’t know. It’s an amazing growth and people love me for who I was and who I have become.

This city has made me tough, but not aggressive. I am still a sweet and shy girl from Bumble-Head, Long Island who loves kittens and sad movies and nerd talk and Jay-Z collaborations. I still say good morning to strangers in my neighborhood or on the way to work in Chelsea. I still excuse myself when someone won’t get the fuck out of my way on the train and most definitely wave to kids on school buses or peering out of apartment windows (is that creepy?).

This city hardens you, but not to be jaded, just smarter, more careful, and down-right sassy as hell. You can still be a push-over, but know when to use that little knife you’ve been carrying around in your purse for the last 7 years (and it really does come in handy if you need to open a box or something).

Change is always happening. It is the inevitable force that keeps us all on our feet. Sometimes the dream will sway you, and sometimes it is just the circumstance.  From time to time I dream of a big farm in Maine (with horses and zebras and chickens and a gratuitous camel), but I know that’s just the homesteader that I once was in a different former life. So, to my dear, sweet New York City that I’ve pined for since before the first time I ever smelled Newspaper and popcorn, I love you. Please keep the magic and the madness, and keep me safe and sound and somewhat lost and I will never forget you.

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Pedicure, Things to Do, Yoga

Have You Touched Your Toes Today?

toe-touches

This post goes out to my friend Rich Small. He once told me that I should touch my toes every day for “health reasons ” (coming from a man whose middle name is “bacon”). I have tried it and it really does make a huge difference. I was advised to do it as soon as I wake up so that the blood will get-a-flowin’ and all of the muscles that hurt and ache are stretched properly. (Sidenote: Rich gives really good massages and once commented that I had the worst knots in my back ever (in his time as an amateur masseuse (I am so proud)).

Now, I don’t exercise like I should (or at all). Every now and again I do touch my toes, as advised by the bacon guru. I breathe in and out and yoga move myself (very slowly) up into the air, as if reaching for the sun, and then down to the bowels of the earth. I let my self hang there, feeling the stretch crawl from my brain through my back and buns, down my thighs and calves and into my soul (Oh look, a pun!). I slowly grow taller and feel as if I have awoken from a dream filled with rainbows, unicorns, leprechauns, and David Hasslehoff (The Night Rider Years). I rinse and repeat, keeping my eyes open this time and what do I behold… my awful feet!

Now I’m a lady… crude? Yes, but a lady nonetheless. This summer had been a dread for pedicures. Every time I would plan to get one I’d develop a blister, or get a million mosquito bites, or clip my toenails crooked or too short. There is no way I will go to a salon with an “open wound” sort of thing going on (A) becasue someone has to touch my feet and (B) I am not getting other germies that might be floating around in that little foot spa bath.

The worst is when I go to the nail salon and my feet are finally taken care of. I can hear and see my foot beautician cracking jokes about the amount of cuticle on my toes. Like… I see you showing that tool of yours covered in my skin to your co-workers… Everyone is laughing in another language and having a ding-a-ling-a-ding-dong-gay old time. Of course, I will be the first one to make a joke, but It’d be nice of you to include me in yours. I know I have skin filled toenails… why do you think I came here in the first place? Duh!

Needless to say, I have yet to have my feet taken care of by a professional this summer. I am ashamed. I was either too poor or suffered from the above ailments that deterred me from the professional toe-maintenance technicians. I do have my little foot scrubbie and relied on a late summer beach trip to help exfoliate all the hot mess that is down there, but my feet are a disaster. And yet I still (shamelessly) wear flip flops in public.

I heard somewhere that the minute you stop taking care of your feet is the minute your body starts dying. I also heard that your feet absorb everything. For instance, if you smash up garlic and put it in your socks, in about an hour your breath will smell like garlic. I have not yet tried that one, but I do spend more time worrying about my feet now that I am an “experienced” gal and have had years of wear and tear on these old dogs (yeah, I’ve been around a block or two). Growing up in boys shoes, I have developed a wide foot with a super high arch. Then I stuffed then into high hells and ballet slippers for a few years and what we now have is the beginnings of a Frankenstein foot (I am exaggerating, of course). I’d like to think my feet could one day be sexy, but unless you’re a fetishist, they are not and never will be. Oh, and they smell (because I hate socks).

If you don’t know, now you know (Biggie Smalls (he’s the illest, apparently (Would be as ill if he’d touched his toes everyday?))).

Keep watch over your feet, friends. They are important to your well-being; you use them everyday. They carry you to and fro like the the dance of the ocean. You follow them wherever they may lead you. Touch them often. Doing so will help your entire body (according to things that I read somewhere a while back and have no bibliography for you to reference). And do me and my pal Rich a favor and worship those dirty dogs every day. Bend over as soon as you get up and let the blood rush from your head to your toes and back again. And that was not meant to be dirty… I swear.

Every now and again get a pedicure (even you guys out there). Tell your feet, “I love you.”

Oh and now that it’s in your head…

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Adventure, prose, summer

I Love You, Summer

summer

I wore black today to mourn the end of the summer. I was so sad that I cried a little, but then I went outside and it was hot as balls. The calendar also tells me that we have at least 3 more weeks of summer, and I am sure a New York City Indian Summer is just what the doctor ordered, so no fretting, friends. The summer is not yet over.

As of tomorrow I am still going to wear flip flops. I will probably still wear flip flops until December, when it finally sinks into my brain that the summer is indeed over and that the days are actually getting longer (it is the only way to stay sane when you wake up before the sun rises and get home after it sets). I will also still wear white (because I am pretty sure nobody cares). I will still sweat profusely and might even get my ass to the ocean to dip my toes in it for the first time in a long time.

The summer is not over. I will definitely still eat barbecued food items and wear little to no make-up everyday. I will still pound beers like it’s 90 degress (um, because it is and I really like beer) and stay up late trying to hear the crickets. I will still wear cotton dresses and keep up with shaving my legs. I will still get mosquito bites and crank my A/C on full blast when I am home. I will beg for rain via dancing and look for fireworks towards the southern sky. I will still go up to the roof to watch the planes fly by and listen to my neighbors do their dishes and watch their tv’s and play with their children.

I will still sit on my fire escape admiring what used to be my flower garden before the Squirrels came and started burying their winter stash and eating my sunflowers. I will still go for walks and bike rides with Captain Clam, taking pictures of whatever comes my way.

I will still treat every party I go to like it’s the 4th of July and I will pet every single dog that crosses my path (they totally want me to pet them). I will still ride in a cab with the windows down and wander around slowly through the booths at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. I will let summer linger in my mind because the next 75 days will be the poetic dance of Summer’s desperate plea to hold onto itself.

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