Monday, October 27, 2014

A Big Fat Announcement

In my fear of jinxing the outcome, I've intentionally left out a really significant life event on this here blog. Like, really significant, guys. I've been keeping it under wraps for the past FIVE MONTHS for fear that acknowledging it publicly would somehow bring things to a crashing halt, but now that it's official, I am so psyched to finally announce....

We BOUGHT an apartment!

I KNOW! It's insane. Or totally sane. I still can't decide.

But anyway, yes, my husband, Daniel, and I are now HOMEOWNERS in the greatest city in the world. Technically, we are share-owners because we live in a co-op, but don't get all technical on me, nerd. We own something, and we are pretty freaking excited about it.

The deal was officially made this Friday. We sat in a conference room in midtown with our realtor, the seller, his lawyer, our lawyer, and three other lawyers for two hours signing our names to all kinds of weird documents about lead paint and septic tanks. I felt like such a grownup save for the fact that I was sporting a pimple on my cheek the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro and wearing jewelry from Forever 21.

But regardless, at the end of it all, me, my husband, and my cheek pimple walked out of that office with keys in hand, and we hardly even knew what to do with ourselves. We had been in this seemingly endless process for five months, and it was finally through.

Here's the thing no one tells you about buying a home in New York City: it takes forever. Forever-forever, to the point where it's not even fun anymore. 

First, you have to find a solid realtor, and there are a lot of dogs out there, let me tell you. Then you have to go to a million open houses, many of which already have accepted offers and are completely out of your price range. Then there comes the moment where you start altering your expectations -- you trade the East Village for South Brooklyn and a subway stop around the corner for a 10-minute walk (it's not so bad -- honest!). Then you find a gem -- the perfect place, not counting the teeny-tiny kitchen and the noisy street-- and you put in an offer and cross your fingers. Then your offer gets rejected for an all-cash offer, and you spend the next two days in mourning. You wonder aloud to anyone who will listen why life is so cruel.

Then you get back on that horse, and you find another place that is, like, pretty good. The apartment itself is beautiful, but the location is weird. Still, you tell yourself you can make it work. 

Then you have a panic attack -- what the hell?! I don't want to live in Midwood! -- and you call up your realtor who assures you that you should never put an offer in on a place that you aren't truly in love with. You take a sigh of relief and then you go back to hunting. But suddenly, nothing new or good seems to be coming on the market. You wonder why you ever started this godforsaken endeavor. Why couldn't you just be happy where you were?

And then, friends, your realtor schedules you to see one more place. At this point, you've lost all hope. You're basically dead inside, a shell of a house hunter just going through the motions of it all. She opens the door on a place in a neighborhood you're sure you can't afford, and a white light smacks you in the face upon entry. It is your dream home. A two bedroom, beautifully renovated apartment on a quiet street on an express subway stop. You say, "I'LL TAKE IT. GOOD GOD, PUT THE OFFER IN!" 

The offer is accepted. Dreams do come true.

BUT THEN IT'S STILL NOT OVER! Because after the accepted offer comes the mountains of paperwork followed by an anxiety-producing board approval, which is followed by a mortgage approval from your bank, which is followed by even more paperwork, which is followed by writing a ton of big checks and praying for mercy, and then...CLOSING. You sit in a conference room with a pimple on your face, and none of it seems real. Especially when they hand you the keys. 

Then you pack an air mattress, and you spend the night on the floor of your new place. You order Chinese take out and drink champagne by candlelight. 

At least, that's what we did, anyway.

So why did we do all of this? Why didn't we just keep on renting on? 

Well, lots of reasons. For one, we could. For another, even though we spent a fair amount in this process, we are certainly going to end up saving (and making) much more. Our mortgage is actually lower than our current rent, and in the end, we were just tired of shelling out an unreasonable amount of money every month. 

And there is also such freedom in owning our own place. We are no longer beholden to a crappy tile situation or a shoddy paint job. We can actually take pride in the home in which we live. I can become the Martha Stewart I never knew I could be. It's a pretty insane feeling. 

And those renovations will happen, but actually, our apartment is pretty great the way it is now. A few months back, I wrote a post titled 9 Things I Want From My Next Brooklyn Apartment, and this new apartment pretty much has it all covered. We've got a dishwasher, a shower head that sits on the normal side of the shower, a location in a neighborhood we love (Ditmas Park, we are still inside you!), a reasonable walk to the subway, a host of amazing coffee shops, bars, and restaurants nearby (a hop, skip, and a jump from the best pizza in New York City), a clean laundry room, and the possibility of a parking spot in the future. But the #1 thing I wanted in my new apartment was a view. Here is the view from our old place:

I think we can all agree that the ladies on Orange is The New Black have a better view than this. 

But folks, here is the view from our new place:

So....yeah. It's a bit better. 

Plus, I've got an office! A real office where I can shut the door and everything. It's bliss.

We haven't actually moved in yet. We are thinking to do some painting before we do, but once that happens, you better believe I will be on here with a ton of pictures and riveting details (everyone loves a good moving story, right?)

Anyway, sorry to have kept this from all of you in the blogging universe for so long. I promise I don't have any other secrets. Well, I do, but they mostly involve personal hygiene and stuff like that, so I think I probably won't be posting those. 

And before I go, I want to say thanks to all of our friends and families who have been so great and supportive during this insanity. You may not realize it, but your advice and help has meant the world to us over the last few months (and also, are you available to help us paint this Saturday? Just kidding. Hahahahahahahahah...No, but seriously, are you?)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is It Just Me: My brain doesn't work anymore

  • Do you sometimes forget the name of the street on which you live? 
  • Is it common for you to skip conjunctions while writing or speaking? 
  • Have you recently purchased a sweater from Old Navy with no recollection of where you put it? 
  • Do you look back on essays you wrote in college and think to yourself, "How the hell did I ever write so many words all at once?"

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you might be losing your mind. That's okay, though, because I am too. They say the mind is the first thing to go, after all.

Really though, is anyone else experiencing this? In recent days, I have been feeling like my brain is in slow motion. Just over all, I feel less sharp, less quick, less quippy. No longer am I Lorelai Gilmore with my coffee-infused, manic, Sorkin-esque speech patterns. No, no. I'm Elmer Fudd. I'm Grandpa Simpson. I'm....uh....some other pop culture reference of someone who speaks and thinks slowly.

It's not just in my communication, but across the board, I just feel like I am slow on the uptake. Lately I have found myself asking, "What's another word for..." or "Who was that guy who..." or "Where did I put my..." With increasing frequency, I have been walking into rooms, announcing myself by saying, "Wait...why did I come in here?"

It's a phenomenon that has truly left me puzzled and, honestly, a bit fearful. I have always prided myself on being quick to act, responsive, bright. It's a strange thing to suddenly feel my mind becoming less acute. I've racked my brain for a reason why, which was probably not a great idea considering how fragile it is at the moment, and here are a few possible explanations I've come up with for this unforeseen shift in my cognitive functions:

1. I am getting older.

Like, hold up -- I know I'm still a baby. I'm around that quarter of a century mark, and I know that if Nora Ephron were here today, she would implore me to celebrate my youth by spending the next eight years of my life in a bikini. I get it, there is still a whole lot of livin' left to do.

Still, I can't help but think that perhaps right now I am experiencing a premature stage of the aging process. It's a subtle change, but perhaps this is really what happens as you grow older. If so, I need not worry because it's not just happening to me, but it's also occurring in the lives of everyone in my age bracket. Right? RIGHT?!

2. I haven't been in school for a few years. 

Man oh man, guys, remember school? You know, reading, writing, arithmetic -- that whole thing? And college! Remember college? If you went, that is. No worries if not because lucky for you, you don't have student loans to deal with.

Still, if you attended a university: remember how you could just walk into a lecture hall, sit down, and have your worldview completely transformed by your Introductory Sociology class? Remember how you would study for finals until you could barely lift your head from your notes? Remember the class discussions, the debates, the critical thinking?

Being in school always initiated a pursuit of more. There was rigorous study involved -- homework, essays, research. But for the first time in my life, I don't have that system in place. If I want to learn and grow, I have to muster up my own energy to find new ways to do that. And if I am being honest, I am not always the best at it. I'm a lover of museums, travel, books, but Lord knows, I regularly choose Netflix over all of those things.

And as such, I think my brain might be paying the price. Where brain go?

3. Mercury is in retrograde.

Now, I don't personally believe in astrology in any way, shape, or form, but that doesn't stop me from blaming all of my problems on it. You may have read about this whole Mercury in retrograde thing -- basically this current astrological phenomenon supposedly means that communication is all out of whack. Phones go on the fritz, deals fall through, arguments occur, Instagram breaks down every time you try to use the Walden filter -- that kind of thing. Many people think that during this season, their ability to express themselves is severely limited.

Again, I don't believe in any of this. But how fun is it to accidentally say something stupid and then follow it up with, "Ugh, forget I said that. Mercury is in retrograde, right?" Pretty fun.

4. Maybe I better and...bluh...exercise more

Apparently eating right and exercising is crucial in supporting cognitive health.


5. I am being haunted.

Hey, if we can blame our problems on the alignment of the planets, then ghosts are certainly not outside of the realm of possibility. Perhaps I've got some super dumb spirit haunting my brain, and if that's the case, I probably deserve it. This would obviously be the coolest explanation, but it would also be the hardest to overcome. Ghosts hold grudges. Everyone knows that.

Happy Halloween!

Anyway, I thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone happened to relate. Is it just me?! Am I the only one who is noticing this delay in cognitive functioning in my life?

Also if you have any thoughts on how I can increase my mental productivity, leave them in the comments section.

Oh, and for the record, I just looked over this entire post and I had to correct my spelling of the word "brain" three different times (originally spelled "brian"). Yet another example of my dwindling cerebral capacities.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Booties Everywhere

A couple of weeks back, I rambled in a post about how I was on the hunt for a pair of ankle booties. I put this desire out into the universe (as Oprah has instructed us all to do), and I'm sure you all formed a prayer circle for me and my booty needs. How very thoughtful of you.

Well, good news, friends: OUR BOOTY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED* in the form of a Gap Factory Outlet!

This place opened up down the street from me a week ago, and well, I may have gone a liiiiiiiiiiiittle bit overboard...

That's not just one but TWO pairs of booties plus a pair of tall boots (and some pumpkins just to make it festive)! My life is now filled to the brim with booties. Here, watch me model:

Note the fringe!!

Now watch me get a little tired/disgruntled while modeling:

Now watch me as I do a sexy version of the chicken dance maybe?:

Now watch me -- actually, feel free to look away as I do whatever this is:

Anyway, I'm living a fairly bootylicious life these days. Here's hoping you find the footwear of your dreams! 

Which fall fashion items are you still looking to add to your wardrobe? 

*By the way, I know you weren't praying for my shoes because, like, that would probably be pretty inappropriate...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The (Totally Not At All Scary) Legend of Sleepy Hollow

My boo and I recently took a day trip to the nearby town of Sleepy Hollow, an area famous for being the setting of Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. You remember that story, right? It's the one with the headless horseman and Ichabod Crane and....uh...the headless horseman. The details are hazy, but I have distinct memories of being a terrified child listening to my teacher tell an abridged version of it to my second grade class.

On the way up, as we drove, I decided to google the legend just to refresh my memory. What I discovered was possibly one of the most significant bummers of my life: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is HELLA BORING, y'all. At least as a Halloween story, it is. There is seriously nothing scary about it, and if you don't believe me, here's my Cliff's Notes version:

There's this guy Ichabod, and he's, like, a total weirdo. Like, Gary Busey kind of weird, n'mean? Anyway, Ichy wants to get with this rich girl, Katrina, so that he can have enough money to support his weird, little life (did I mention he's a weirdo?). There's also this other guy named Brom Bones, and he wants to get with Katrina too (not for her money but because he loves her or whatever). He decides he wants to play pranks on Ichabod and basically torture him away from pursuing the girl of his dreams.

One night at a harvest party at Katrina's dad's house, Ichabod is like, "Tonight's the night that I'm going to make Katrina my boo." He obviously fails, and instead, he gets an earful of scary stories told by the party guests. One such story is the tale of the Headless Horseman, a ghost who rides in the night in search of his head which was blown off by a cannonball. Ichabod, being the basket case that he is, gets really easily spooked, and on his way home, he is all kinds of freaked out. 

As he is riding through the night, he sees in the distance a cloaked traveler on horseback. Ichabod quickly realizes that the mysterious man's head isn't on his shoulders. Instead, he is holding it at his side. At his side, y'all. HIS SIDE.

As I'm sure you can imagine, ICHABOD LOSES HIS SHIT. He races to the bridge where it is said that the Headless Horseman will vanish. 

A recreation of the fictional bridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

But he doesn't vanish. Instead, he pursues Ichabod and throws his severed head at his big, weird face.

The next morning, Ichy is nowhere to be seen, but a flippin pumpkin is found busted up at the bridge. When the story of Ichabod's disappearance is told to Brom Bones, he is said to "look exceedingly knowing."


I'm sorry I even recounted all of that for you, but hopefully now you are feeling just as disenchanted as I was when I rediscovered the details of this sorry excuse for a scary story. 

Still, though, Sleepy Hollow was a fun place to visit, especially if you like visiting cemeteries, which weirdly enough, I do. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the resting place of lots of cool people, including Washinton Irving himself.

It also has a ton of hauntingly beautiful memorials, gravestones, and mausoleums. 

But hey, we didn't just hang out in a cemetery all day. We also went to a pumpkin patch!

But after hearing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this experience actually felt a lot like sifting through a bunch of severed heads (hence Daniel's expression). We bought a pumpkin, an old lady knowingly touched my butt for some reason*, and we decided it was time to head back to Brooklyn.

Anyway, so that's Sleepy Hollow! It's a lovely place to visit, but don't expect to see any ghosts or actual headless people because you will be sorely disappointed. 

Do you have a favorite scary story? 
Like, actually scary? As in, not pumpkin-chunkin-level scary?
Tell me!

*Let me know if you're interested in the details of this story.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My fifteen-minute blog post


Today I am challenging myself to write this blog post in under fifteen minutes. I take way too long to write these days. I'll start a sentence, erase it completely, and then rewrite that very same sentence again, on and on...forever. I've done it about a dozen times since I started this post. I decided today that this madness has to stop.

So I set a timer for fifteen minutes. It's this timer that I found in the dollar section at Target in the shape of a red bell pepper:

I pasted this picture after the fact, by the way. Pictures are the thing that slow me down the most when blogging.

I do this practice from time to time when I am on a deadline. I'll set my timer and then I'll write like a maniac until the timer goes off, and then I'll watch some Parks and Recreation or eat a pickle as a reward. I live a simple life.

The problem today is that I forgot to pick a topic to write about before starting this post, and that timer is just ticking away like the telltale heart, so I'm kind of bugging out.

But that's okay. Maybe I'll just write about what's new with me.

It's October 1st, a day I have been looking forward to for quite some time. Not only is it the first acceptable day to order a pumpkin flavored anything, but it is also the day that every single episode of "Gilmore Girls" arrived on Netflix! If you're anything like me, and I'm sure you are because you are still here reading this rambling mess, you probably have every season of "Gilmore Girls" on DVD stashed away somewhere in your living room. Still, you have to admit that having these episodes so accessible at the click of a button is a rare treat. I've watched the first three already. Do I have a problem?

9 minutes left. Shit shit shit. Okay. What else am I up to?

Guys, I am looking for booties. Not like pirate treasures or butts, but rather boots that go to your ankle and have some kind of substantial heel. I want to wear them with socks and leggings, but the hunt has been difficult. Somehow I believe that if I get booties in my life, it will change everything.

By the way, my husband knows this, but that's a phrase I say A LOT: "It will change everything."

I say it hyperbolically, of course, but there is still a bit of truth to it. I've said it about the prospect of getting a juicer, a new apartment, a french press, a bicycle, a denim jacket.

And you know what? I got all those things, every last one, and they most certainly did not change everything (that's a lie...the denim jacket was pretty much a full-on game-changer, but still).

It's amazing to me that this far into my human existence, I still believe very basic lies about the world. I know that intellectually no material good will really be THE thing that changes my life, yet I still have this primal, juvenile belief system. I can't quite shake the thought that if I get booties, somehow my life will all make sense.

Booties, y'all. Booties.

And by the way, if you are waiting for the thing that will change everything, and you probably aren't because you're an adult and you know better, I just want to remind you that it probably won't. Life is life. Booties, juicers, apartments -- they really don't change the game that much.

Okay, so with one minute left on the clock, I will bid you adieu. I'm going to read through this now and cringe over how poorly-written it is. #controlissues

Friday, September 26, 2014

Napkin Wisdom: Stop Waiting

I recently had a flight delayed for over four hours. Early on, the airline employees kept making announcements that it would probably be about thirty more minutes. Then thirty minutes later, they would be back with the same announcement, on and on for FOUR hours. If you've been in this position before, you know the kind of insanity that can overtake you. All of your senses become heightened. The rage becomes a hot feeling in your head which then becomes a disgusting taste in your mouth which then becomes oils that seep out of your pores. I spent the last hour of that waiting period constantly swiping on deodorant and sending angry tweets to American Airlines demanding free chardonnay. It wasn't a shining moment for me.

Waiting is the worst. No one likes it. Humans don't like it. Dogs don't like it. Cats are probably fine with it actually, I don't know. But regardless, it's one of the least palatable states of existence.

It's the reason that the idea of purgatory is so frightening. It's the reason we don't use dial-up Internet anymore.

But for as much as people hate waiting, we tend to do it a lot. We like to think that all of the delays in our lives are these fixed, inevitable, external circumstances (doctor's offices, subway stations, the line at Starbucks, etc.), but the truth is we create plenty of our own waiting periods in life. We don't just have to wait; we choose to wait. 

I recall a time from a few years back when I was living in Austin, Texas. I had moved there because many of my family and friends were there, and I mean, it's Austin, y'all. Why wouldn't you want to live in that glorious town?

And while that year was filled with wonderful experiences -- food trucks, put-put golf sessions, concerts, outrageously fun cookie swap Christmas parties, invigorating conversations over coffee, lots of thrifting, and so much joy -- still, I felt deeply discontented. For months and months, it felt like I was holding in one giant sneeze -- like something explosive, relieving and wonderful was on the other side of whatever it was I was doing, but I just felt stuck. I was working three part-time jobs, not doing anything particularly creative, and the prospect of trying something new just seemed exhausting.

And I would be lying if I said I didn't have some idea of what I wanted to be doing: I wanted to move to New York City. I wanted to start my career. I wanted to do something BIG.

But instead, I waited. I did life at about 30%, and instead of chasing my dreams, I just watched a lot of Battlestar Galactica (this, by the way, was probably one of the best things to come out of that year).

Looking back on that time in my life, I don't regret it at all, but I kind of wish I could step through the time-space-continuum and slap myself in the face. That would probably cause a black hole, I don't know, but I kind of want to do it. It wasn't like I wasted that year, but man, I waited that year.

I sat, I laid, I wandered until one day something clicked. I signed up for an improv class, my husband and I had a serious talk about making life happen in New York, and we packed up a truck full of all of our most prized possessions and moved to Brooklyn. That first day, when I crossed over the East River on the Manhattan bridge, I felt like I could breathe again. Suddenly, I wasn't waiting anymore.


All of this to say: yes, life is full of waiting. It is, and it sucks, and I'm sorry. But if you are in a particularly dismal period of feeling stuck, you may want to ask yourself: who is causing this waiting? Is it some cosmic, external force (God, nature, the DMV) it maybe you? We often try to justify reluctant periods of our lives as seasons of patience, and while those do exist, I would argue that they are not as frequent as we claim they are.

So how about this: If the thing you are doing feels like waiting, then do a new thing.

That doesn't mean necessarily that you should quit your job, move to New York City, engage in risky behavior, or get a face tattoo. But the thing about this existential waiting game is that while we don't often choose to admit it, we tend to know exactly what it is we are waiting on. You know what will change the game for you. Your heart cries out for it all the time, and if you're playing the waiting game, you're probably telling it to shut up right now. So stop doing that, and do something new.

It's scary, it's exhausting, it's risky, but it leads to better things. It really does.

For the record, as is the case with almost everything I write, I am basically writing this post for myself because I am continually forgetful of my life's most poignant lessons. Hopefully, unlike me, you only need to learn this once.

That being said, do something new this weekend! What will you be up to?


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