27 Things I’m No Longer Worrying About

A few days ago, after a walk with Lucy, I ate my lunch under a tree near my apartment. It was one of those perfect almost-Autumn days, and as I have for the past five-and-a-half years in New York, I watched life unfold around me. There was an old man who brought out a lawn chair and was sunbathing, some girls around my age talking up a storm (likely about the night before), a couple with their small baby and a snuggling two-some sneaking in kisses between the breeze.

And here I was, sitting awkwardly on my backpack, guilting myself for skipping an exercise class because I was tired, wondering when this guy that I met would text me back. As much as things have changed – and so have I – in all of this time, I still have to battle those same insecurities, regardless of how far I’ve come in my self-love journey. The park embodied so many of the things that I dream of having, and often times, I can count up the things I don’t have instead of taking stock in what I do. And though I can dream of the beautiful things I hope are before me, it’s hard to get past what’s in sight to believe in what you can’t see until it’s yours.

I turned over my iPhone and took a sip of water, rubbing my shoulders as the temperature started to drop, and I turned my attention on a kid’s birthday party. There was a grandfather with a toddler, laughing and chasing around each other until the babe accidentally let go of the red balloon she was holding. She started to cry, but her grandfather scooped her up and pointed to the sky.

I couldn’t hear what he said – I was too far away – but I imagine it was a distraction technique that somehow, piqued her interest away from a tantrum. The only thing was, all of the kids watched this happened and looked up…

…and they all let go of their balloons. Continue reading

Let Laughter Live

When downtown Manhattan is wishing you well on your day trip to Governor’s Island, tousling the flaps of your faux-flapper dress in the wind on a sunny Sunday afternoon – it’s hard to have any worries. Especially when your addiction to Group-buying sites landed you a $35 deal including a three-course lunch, unlimited drinks, and the guarantee of a good time when you’re in the company of M, R, and K.

I write this post later than I anticipated -just under a hour and some change left to go until tomorrow – because today wasn’t about blogging. It wasn’t about love, dating, sex, relationships, men, or any of that jazz. Rather, it was about actual jazz at Governor Island’s biannual Jazz Fest Lawn Party where three of my friends and I dressed up in era-like costumes while mastering the unforgotten art of waiting in extremely long lines for the cause of getting boozy.

Blame the champagne cocktails, sangria, or chocolate ice cream cones – but we were all a little giggly. Our conversations evolved from historical discussions and debates to inappropriate candor on the train uptown at the end of the afternoon, with dirty glances from older women only making our laughter more contagious. When M and I rested at my apartment, asking the gods of the “Ask Me” cards (silly deck that gives you unassuming answers) and watching reruns of Sex & the City on low volume so we could add our own commentary – I thought about writing my blog, but then decided against it. M reminded me: “You’ve got until midnight! Won’t take you long!” And so, after cleaning my apartment and making the 100th poor food choice of the weekend with a giant cherry vanilla milkshake from Tom’s Restaurant and a handful of M’s cheesefries with blue cheese dressing (Yes, we’re very healthy these days) – I sat down to post something for June 26, 2011.

I had considered a few topics of interest that were suggested to me: “Write about how some think we’ll date a few more guys before getting married or how a few of us think the next one is it,” or “Write one completely about me and how wonderful I am since your last post made me seem like a bitch!!” or “Write about the changes with Mr. Possibility,” or “Write about how adorable men look in those suspenders and when they actually do The Charleston with their girlfriends – where do we find them?? Why are they taken or gay??”

All of those ideas are relevant and probably posts I could write and a couple I may actually flush out one day – but as I sat down to my computer, going through emails and preparing for the week ahead of me while putting Monday out of my mind for a few more hours – I couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m just so happy, damnit.

Things aren’t perfect but things are pretty great. I’m blessed to have a supporting, hilarious, free-spirited, adventure-trying, beautiful group of girlfriends (especially R who contrary to other blogs isn’t as crazy as she may seem), a job that makes me want to go to work in the morning, a byline that people remember and an impact to make, a boyfriend who often catches me off guard with his sincerity and kindness, and of course, a city that I will always be madly in love with.

Maybe blogging is easier or you get more traffic when you write about all the things that are wrong in your life. Maybe the best copy is bore out of grief, sorrow, longing, or disappointment. Maybe the writers who go down in history or have their books reprinted for lifetimes that exceed their own, are the ones who experienced the worse of the world and forced themselves to describe it. Maybe there will always be a hell of a lot of bad.

But, if you take a moment to take it easy, and let laughter live in your life, then you’ll discover the good is always there, too. With every opportunity we’re given that we don’t win, each love we leap to find and we end up falling, each friend we leave behind that we lose touch with, each passing day that we regret wasting – there is a second chance, an adventurous lover, a new best friend, and a new sunrise just a few moments away.

And so in my new quest to let laughter live more fully in my life as I continue this journey – I’ll end each post with something I’m thankful for. If I can find the reasons to laugh and cherish my life, maybe when the bad starts to shadow the sun, I’ll have the strength to brighten my own skies…with gratitude.

Today, I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve found in unexpected places and for the women who remind me each day to…laugh at life, at love, and most importantly, at myself. The me who wears 3-inch heels to a lawn party because it went with my outfit better than flats.

Beautiful Little Fool

I’ve decided to dedicate this summer to re-reading great classical literature. I came to this decision after helping Mr. Possibility clean out some bookcases and stumbling across an original 1925 copyrighted edition of The Great Gatsby.

Thinking back to the first time I read it in high school and then again in between years of college, I instantly remembered where I was at those points in my life. That’s the thing about good books; they leave your forever impacted, remembering just where you were just when you read their pages.

And so, in addition to my long list of magazines and websites I read daily, I decided to make New York memories reading some of my favorites throughout the summer. After all, what’s better to do in Central Park or on the train then get lost in a novel that’s so old, so lovely, that the sentences flow together with such ease you’d swear that type of writing doesn’t exist anymore? (It doesn’t really)

Flipping through Fitzgerald’s vivid description of the 20s, I fell in love with this line: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Daisy’s words never meant anything to me until now, after being the beautiful little fool a time – or two or three – in my adult life.

While Daisy isn’t the best leading lady in literature, she makes an interesting accusation. Is a fool really the best thing a girl can be?

Looking back into relationships I’ve had, both those that ended far too quickly and those that lasted way too long, I’ve admittedly played the part of the fool a few times. And as I’ve said before, to be a fool you have to be a little brave; for being foolish means opening yourself up to ridicule or failure.

But when you’re starting to date someone new – should you be foolish to red flags so you get to know who they really are before passing judgment? Should you be foolish before you make it official, putting it out of your mind that they are free to date and to sleep with whomever they please until titles are concrete and promises promised? Should we be foolish to believe that no matter how many times we’re hurt, we can get back up and try it again…and again?

Or can you only truly be a beautiful little fool until the first time you’re fooled? Like the same way patience runs dry the first time you’re passed by?

I’m not sure – some of the best relationships I’ve witnessed are based off of an encouraged oblivion. My parents, as an example, have never discussed their past. Neither know how many the other have slept with or why past boyfriends/girlfriend bit the dust. When they said “I do”, they said “I don’t” to the past – and never brought it up. Does it matter 25 years later what happened 26 years before? Nope, not in the slightest.

So is foolishness beautiful or is it a way to process things without thinking too much or reading in between lines that you can’t define? Should we be beautiful little fools or maybe in today’s speech, pretty little liars?

Only though, if we’re fools or if we’re liars, are we fooling and lying to ourselves? And is that healthy? Is that…beautiful?

The 20-Something Syndrome

There’s something special about being a 20-something.

It’s after the uncomfortable teenage years, but we still have enough awkwardness to keep us humble. Well, at least at the start of our twenties anyways, until we discover a certain power we have because we’re young and yet to be jaded. By the time we reach the mid-way point between the second and third decade, we’ve been burnt, hurt, used, tossed, and treasured, and we’ve done to the same to countless men, jobs, friends, apartments, and shoes. But more than the year before and less than the one that will follow, we’ve managed to capture and ignite the spark we have to offer the world and the men in it – and though we may still settle for less than first rate at times, at least we’re aware we’re settling. Unlike before when we may have not been able to spot a red flag a mile or an inch away. I haven’t reached the late 20’s, so I can’t speak for that crowd – but if my friends are any indicators (or Mr. Possibility), it seems something happens around 27 or 28, where the need to lockdown a relationship or make some really impressive steps in our career becomes priority. Either, in my opinion, seem like a lot of pressure when desired at the drop of a dime.

But really, isn’t being a 20-something about pressure? Isn’t the 20-something syndrome an ordeal (or a blessing?) we all have to pass through to make it to the 30’s? (Which, I’m told by my mother and every 30 and beyond, will be the best time of my life.)

The pressure of being a 20-something is not just from external factors but often enforced by ourselves. If this 10-year span is when I’ll look my very best, be in the best shape, feel my best, and put my best face forward – shouldn’t I be going out constantly? If this is the period where I’ll have the most opportunity to travel, where I won’t have to consider anyone as a higher priority than myself, where the decisions I make won’t weigh as heavily as future choices, and where I’ll have the most energy and brightest perspective on life – shouldn’t I go after whatever I want with diligence?

But isn’t that the issue? When you’re a 20-something, the options seem limitless, but the resources are often not – at least for me, currently. However, I have ways around monetary setbacks, primarily because I’m female. Right now in this late hour as I write this blog after a few glasses of wine and an evening spent with Mr. Hubby, I could grab a pair of heels and a swipe of my signature lipstick and be at a bar in midtown in thirty minutes or less. I could lure in an eligible bachelor or two, have my drinks paid for all night long, and head back uptown in a cab paid for with cash given to me by a stranger I met an hour earlier. Tomorrow morning, I could go anywhere on this island I want to – Times Square, the Empire State, Wall Street, and Magnolia’s (let’s be honest, it’s sadly a landmark now) are not destinations for me, they are just part of my home.

If I wanted to – or if I was brave enough – I could save enough money to live abroad for a year, working low-paying jobs, backpacking, and experiencing the world I’ve never witnessed. I could consume alcohol in vast amounts, I could go by the golden rule that if he’s foreign, he doesn’t count as part of my “number”, and instead of focusing on editing and writing, I could take a completely different turn in my career. Or not focus on work at all and throw my luck to the fates, hoping I’ll land up where I’m meant to be, even if it is far away from what I pictured or hoped for.

I have no real obligations – my lease is actually up in May and it is undetermined what commitment I’ll make after that. And really in New York, signing your name has merit, but finding a subleaser is quite simple. I’m not married. I don’t live with a boyfriend. I have no children. I don’t own a pet, unless you count Giorgio the fish – who I’m sure would be happy with anyone who fed him and cleaned his bowl once a week. I have barely any bills to pay (damn you Best Buy and Student Loans). Nothing is keeping me in New York other than the magazine job that’s important to me and the fact that I love this city with most of my heart.

And yet, when I think of being in my twenties, when I feel the pressure from the 20-something syndrome, I never feel like I’m doing enough. If I go out three times a week and stay in on a Saturday because I’m tired and the commute home at 3 a.m. nearly kills any opportunity for a 10 a.m. run – I feel guilty. If my friends beg me for one more glass of wine or one more song or one more hour when I’m exhausted, if I don’t give in – I feel like I’ll regret it or I’ll miss something. When I see my peers who, instead of joining the workforce or going to grad school, like many of us who graduated in the downward pivot of the economy, decided to live in another country without any concrete plan – I’m envious. When I skip a night at the gym to cook dinner and consume large quantities of ice cream with Mr. Possibility, the next morning – I feel fatter, though I didn’t gain a pound. When I succeed at work, only to take two steps backwards the next day – I feel like I’ll never get to where I want to be as a writer. And then again, sometimes I have no idea what the endpoint or goal is – or if there even is one.

So what’s the cure for the 20-something syndrome? How do I forgive myself for indulging or giving myself a much needed evening in for me-myself-and-I? How do I celebrate what I’m doing right instead of turning every little miss into all the reasons I’m going about my life the wrong way? How do I prepare for this seemingly inevitable end-of-decade turn when my priorities will become more important? How do I get through my twenties happily, successfully, and healthily – feeling like I’ve done all that I could with all that I had?

I’d like to have a real answer, but I don’t. I only have a guess – and it’s maybe simplified too much. But to overcome the 20-something syndrome, I think the trick is stop trying. Or deciding it isn’t something to get over or to get through or to survive. It is, like every other period and person we’ll experience, temporary and yet, absolutely necessary. Children grow into teens, and teens into twenties, and twenties into thirties, and so on, and so it goes – there is no end in sight until it is, the end.

Time may seem to pass as quickly as it does slowly. I may be dumbfounded seeing the start of April this upcoming week. I may be shocked to know I’m closer to my next birthday than I am to my last. I may not always feel like I’m doing what’s best or what’s good or what will take me the furthest or make me the happiest.

But I’m living. I’m learning. I’m loving. I’m 20-something.

Dearly Beloved….I’m Afraid I Don’t

My best friend growing up was a black-haired little girl whom I adored. We went to the same church, we lived less than a mile from one another, and when I think of my youth- it is impossible to not see her face. Together, along with her younger sister, we created rock bands, played detectives, and even were so obsessed with the show Sister, Sister, that we would pretend to be the twins (I was Tia, she was Tamera, if you’re curious).

We took dance classes, joined Girl Scouts, went through confirmation, and played outside on her tire swing until her dad made us go inside for the night. She was the first person I ever talked to about boy crushes and her name is scattered among the pages of my very first “articles” and diaries. Our names are even painted underneath the deck at my childhood home, stating that we’d be friends forever.

At one point, I distinctively remember one of our conversations and we decided that by the time we were 21, we’d be finished with college and we’d be married, and have a baby by 25. I would be living in New York, of course, and she wasn’t quite sure where she’d be. We were so certain on this path that we wrote it down and we dreamed up these ideas of what we thought our husbands would look like, what they would do, and what their names would be. If I remember correctly, my man would be an architect, he’d be tall with dark hair and blue eyes, and he’d be named Brian.

I’ve yet to date a Brian, so perhaps that may still come true.

But as I sit here, past the age of my projected marriage, but not quite to the baby deadline– I realize how unprepared, how unready, how absoultely terrified I am of actually being married. I’ve never thought of myself as someone with commitment issues and I really don’t think I sincerely have them- but when I think of saying “Yes, Mr. Standing-in-Front-of-Me, on this alter on display to everyone I’ve ever known and complete strangers, I will spend the rest of my life with you. No matter what. I promise. Scout’s honor” – I feel like I’m going to be sick. And really, all I want to say is “Dearly Beloved….I’m afraid I don’t.”

However, that friend did end up getting married to a guy she loves, and is living in our hometown, moving up the ranks at her job, enjoying her new home and new puppy. We don’t talk very often, but I was happy to be part of her wedding before I moved and we stay in touch from time-to-time. I’m thrilled that she found someone who she knows is Mr. Right for her and she’s satisfied with her life, and sometimes, I wonder why I’m not ready for that.

This year alone, I’m invited to six weddings  and I hope to attend most of them, if not at least send something from the registry. And my very best friend from college, L, got engaged over Christmas and for the first time, I’ll serve as the coveted Maid of Honor. While I’m incredibly happy for all of my friends and admittedly stalk all of their photos – I sometimes can’t understand why there is such a rush to the alter. I mean, at 22, 23, and 24 – do we really even know ourselves yet? How can we marry someone else when we aren’t even sure of what is that we want for our lives in the first place? Or maybe I’m the late bloomer who missed the flight to marital cloud 9.

When I think of my weeks spent writing these blogs, going to work for the 9 to 6 grind, attending events and fancy parties, and happy hours with friends, I realize how selfish of a life I really have. Every dime I make is geared towards me (or secure in my savings account), every decision I make is based on what I want and what’s best for me, and my plans change as often as the subway schedules. I’d rather buy a new pair of shoes than to buy a gift for a man – even when Mr. Possibility and I were at our finest – and if I don’t feel like cleaning or washing or saving money from the week’s paycheck or working out, I don’t have anyone to answer to but myself.

And really, I love it.

I’ve spent all this time obsessing, worrying, wondering, hoping, praying, and dreaming for a man to walk into my life and be my end-all-be-all. For him to take away all of the negative baggage, the disappointments, and the trust issues I have from guys from the past. For him to “rescue” me from a single life that for the longest time, I absolutely abhorred. But now, for whatever reason, it is more appealing to me than the life I imagined as a 10-year-old playing make believe under my favorite Oak tree.

As a single woman (or really just any woman, relationship-oriented labels be damned) – I think we get so caught up in this portrayal of a wedding, of happily ever after, of the romantic illusions of until-the-end-of-time that we forget that marriage is serious stuff. It is a lifelong commitment. It is promising not only your body to one single person and your heart, but vowing that every decision you make from this point forward will be dependent on what another person thinks, feels, wants, and needs. While I’m hopeful that the man I ultimately marry will find me beautiful at 60-years-old, the reality is that when you decide upon forever walking down that aisle, everything, including the love, will get old. The flame will weather in the wind, it will come and it will go, and there will be moments where even though you love the person you’re married to – you may not like them very much.

And the same can really be said about the relationship you have with yourself. There are days where even though I’m working towards loving me-and-only-me, I feel bad about decisions I’ve made and I don’t like the person I see staring back at me in the mirror. Each and every choice I make, where it be to take the C train or the B train in the morning or what to eat for lunch or if I should be texting back a guy I’m intrigued by – affects my life. Maybe not in huge ways, but in ways nonetheless.

For me, at my age, at this point in my life, with my career just starting to blaze forward – I can say with full confidence that I’m not ready to be married. I’m not ready to have that feeling in my heart-of-hearts that tells me this is the guy for me. I may long for a compainion and I may be able to imagine having a exclusive boyfriend, but I know saying “I do” isn’t in my near future. I missed my projected marrying age, so now it’s up to me to decide what my second-chance age will be.  And that ring finger that I used to look at, picturing a rock on, looks awfully good naked and bare. While I’m sure my mother and currently-smitten friends will tell me “you’d change your mind if you met the right guy tomorrow” – I can say that right now – I truly, really, honestly, don’t want to be engaged.

And guess what? That’s really just fine by me. If that isn’t progress, I’m not sure what is.

PS: If you’re a fan of Confessions of a Love Addict and want to be part of a new page on the blog, email Lindsay or send her a Tweet.