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Moving Forward

January 6, 2015

Several times now, I’ve tried in vain to sum up 2014. For the past few years I’ve been able to chronicle my previous year on this blog and come out with some big lesson about the past twelve months. This past year was tough, though. I can’t seem to make sense of 2014.

My MapMyRun app tells me I ran 419.77 miles in 2014.

Spotify told me I listened to a ton of Beyonce, Ray LaMontagne, Hozier, Prince, Jessie Ware, Talking Heads, and Fleetwood Mac.

Virgin America and American Airlines tell me I’ve flown to New York and back five times [facepalm], San Francisco once, and New Orleans once.

Instagram tells me I posted 350 photos. Rough guess: 10% food, 10% selfies, 25% sky, 55% other.

But none of this matters, really. 2014 was tough. 2013 was exhausting and emotionally draining, but 2014 was a whole different kind of challenge. It was…close. It was close to right. It was almost right, but in being so close to being right, it was effectively, really, really, really wrong. The kind of wrong that is so close to perfect that it stings, it burns, it takes a melon baller to your gut and says “CLOSE, but no cigar, fucker.” Being so close to having things right is both uplifting and disappointing. Maybe, the lesson to bring into 2015 is that “you’re close” or maybe “don’t settle”, or maybe it is simply, “you know what you want. Go get it.”

The thing that’s great about almost getting what you want is that you realize what it is that you really do want, and that is priceless. Disappointment has always been my least favorite feeling. Anger goes along with yelling, sadness provides tears, joy allows for laughter, but disappointment has no release. This is why it is maybe, actually, secretly the best feeling. There’s no release for disappointment, but simply the opportunity to move forward differently and create a new, better outcome.

I decided sometime towards the end of 2014 that I wasn’t so much interested in being an actress anymore. This wasn’t devastating, or debilitating, or something I felt like announcing as much as just an evolution. I had the rare, bittersweet gift of two weeks of limbo mid-October to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and I realized that I’ve been doing it all along. Acting is a treat, but I’ve always been just as passionate about writing my own material, in fact, I’ve always been writing. I have notebooks and diaries and pages and pages and pages of words. I have entire folders of unfinished scripts on my desktop. It’s time to finish them. It’s time to realize that you almost have what you want, so now you can see what it is and go get it.

To You

October 29, 2014

To you,

You who don’t believe that life ends when you meet the “right guy”. You who doesn’t believe that you “have to do” anything. You who sees an empty piece of paper as a symphony or a poem or a new life, not an empty field of fear.

To you,

You who looks around you and tries, desperately and without any ground beneath your feet, to remember that what you want is still out there. To you who knows that disappointment is for the strong and “sticking with the pain” is for the weak. To you who understands that life isn’t about one person or one thing or one day, but a succession of moments, some good and some bad.

To you,

You who listen to loud music and soulful music and complicated music to drown out the monotony of everything…and when that doesn’t work, you listen to the radio to understand the monotony of everything.

To you who use big words in your lyrics. To you who can’t sleep at night for fear of underperforming. To you who can’t sleep at night for fear of ideas. To you who can’t sleep at night for fear of nightmares, or worse, dreams.

To you who have dried tears on your cheeks. To you who re-watch movies and play songs on a loop to feel bigger. To you who hyperventilate about nothing because nothing is everything, or everything is nothing. Because you know that.

To you,

Who look at me and say “take care of yourself”, you who smile, you who say “take a deep breath” when you don’t know that I need to hear it.

You who sleep alone and dream of another’s face.

To you who will never understand the superiority complex of the upper-middle class, no matter how many you meet. To you who empathize. To you who sympathize.

To you who wish I’d used the word “whom” this whole time.

To you, I’m sorry.

And to you,

I have pages for you.

Yaffa Cafe: In Memoriam

October 3, 2014

It was 2002 and “going into the city” still had a lot of 9/11 fear attached to it. I was fifteen and my older, scruffy-faced boyfriend was picking me up. I’ve never cared about cars, but I remember climbing in to his black BMW and my heart beating really fast as I smelled the fresh leather interior. I was going into the city with a guy who had a BMW and smoked cigarettes out the window. We crossed the bridge and went downtown. I will never forget walking into Yaffa Café on St. Marks Place and marveling at the cluttered, eclectic décor. In the back patio, drenched in twinkly lights and the charm of the East Village I was smitten: with him and with the place. It represented everything I wanted to be: effortless, chic, and a little bit dirty. As we sat on the silver metal chairs, me devouring the avocado melt, him chain smoking Camels, I felt like a grown up, even if I had no use for the condoms they gave out for free at the register.

After my senior prom, held somewhere far-too-swanky, followed up by some scummy club and far too many Mike’s Hard Lemonades, we were hungry. Friends shouted out suggestions: “McDonalds!” “The Tenafly Diner!” My first real boyfriend and I had other plans. We’d made the rookie mistake of forgetting to bring a condom but we were manipulative and convinced the group to head to Yaffa Café. It was open all night! While I’d like to say that I lost my virginity with a Yaffa condom, it was actually a Virgin Megastore condom about a month earlier. It’s a goddamn wonder I didn’t get pregnant in high school using so many complimentary contraceptives. However, I get to say that I lost my virginity with a Virgin Megastore condom, which I’m sure kids in high school have never heard of, because it was a record store and Spotify doesn’t make condoms.

Two years later, I got a killer summer job as the production assistant for a major movie. I was nineteen and the most of the cast I was interacting with on a daily basis were up and coming actors between eighteen and twenty-five. They weren’t familiar with New York and wanted someone to show them around the East Village, where the majority of the film they were about to star in took place. After a month of falling in love with every straight guy on set, they finally asked me if I’d take them out. They wanted to go somewhere where we could all eat, drink and the scruffy-faced Brits could smoke. We jumped on the subway to Yaffa Café. They were smitten with the décor, the vibe, and me. Okay, fine so maybe no one was actually smitten with me, but for one night it was enough…and the next morning when I had to go buy a new outfit at H&M so no one would know whose hotel room I’d wandered out of was even better. Yaffa Café was magic.

Three years later, in 2008, before the market crashed, I was enrolled in a summer theatre intensive. The program was full of international students who were desperate for a local to show them around. I was clueless when it came to Brooklyn, but I was able to offer up one suggestion: sangria carafes at Yaffa. I told the scruffy-faced Brit in the group that there was a patio where he could go smoke, I’d even go with him. Nah, I didn’t want one, but I’d sit with him…because I have a thing for scruffy-faced smokers. He was leaving in a few weeks and assured me that it would be better if we didn’t get involved, because he lived in the fucking UK. I agreed and four hours later we stumbled into his bedroom. Yaffa Café was magic.

Four months later, a broker showed my best friend and I a two bedroom on Avenue A. We moved in two weeks later. I got a waitressing job on St. Marks, across the street from Yaffa. The city was changing, as it does, and I was changing with it. I didn’t need gratis prophylactics because I had my own apartment five blocks away and a Duane Reade on the corner. Every so often I’d finish a long shift and head across the street for sangria, but there were other bars on the block where I could drink for free.

About a year later, I met an older, scruffy-faced guy while on my first SAG job. He asked me out on a real date and I spent hours standing in front of my mirror on Avenue A trying to figure out what you wear on a date when its 20º with a wind chill of “fuck off”. We met for dinner at Café Colonial on Houston, another staple that has since shut its doors, saw a movie at the Sunshine, and walked up First Avenue shivering as the wind blew through the fibers of my coat. “Want to go somewhere for coffee?” He suggested. We sat at a table in the back at Yaffa. I wrapped my numb hands around a chai and we shared a chocolate cake, the first of hundreds of desserts we’d share before breaking up four years later.

This week, when I woke up to a text that read: “Yaffa Café: shut down”, I had a visceral reaction. All these memories flooded my head. Those were my benchmark relationships and flings, and all of them had Yaffa Café associations. I’ve lived in LA for the past four years, and the avocados are better, my kitchen is bigger and I could easily whip up that melt anytime I want, but Yaffa Café is gone and I didn’t get to say goodbye.

Cities change, people change, we move on, we move away, but one thing always stays the same, and that’s my soft spot for a scruffy-faced man in an all night café.

2009

2009

2008

2008

That’s What It’s All About

September 16, 2014

This isn’t about love.

It isn’t about feelings for another.

It’s not about the heat rising from the sidewalk or the sun setting in the purple sky behind a row of arcing palm trees.

It’s about the first eight notes of a song that make the side of your mouth curl up and a smile rise into your chest cavity.

It’s about watching a moment happening to someone else and feeling it in your gut.

It’s about thinking the word “crescendo” and hearing it come out of someone else’s mouth.

It’s about not having to say a thing.

It’s about touching toes, once.

It’s about the kind of happiness that comes from leaving your misery in a dust cloud.

It’s about imperfection and simplicity and carefully measured indulgence.

It’s about opening up a suitcase full of problems in the middle of the room but leaving it to go through later, because you are busy.

It’s about making one person feel something new. Once.

Even if that person is you.

High School Reunion and Expectations

September 4, 2014

 

 

The time has come. My TEN YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION is in a few weeks. I always dreamt about what it would be like to attend this milestone event. How I’d show up super famous and married or engaged to some super hot guy and show everyone how fabulous I’d become. You see, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion was one of my favorite movies. My best friend and I always said that we’d learn the dance from the movie and perform it at our own reunion. Or each other’s weddings or something. I definitely don’t know the dance. Romy-and-michele-BD_05Also, I’m totally not super famous and I’m definitely not married to some super hot guy…or anyone for that matter. Also, I’m not going to my ten year high school reunion. I live in Los Angeles, 2,779 miles away from the bar where the reunion will take place, I’m still friends with everyone who I wanted to stay friends with from high school (for the most part) and I know what everyone else is up to from Facebook. I also know that a ton of people are already married, several are pregnant, and a few already have families. I’m not interested in competing with them for “best life” because I LOVE my life. I don’t want to be married or have kids yet. I don’t want to find myself four whiskeys deep explaining how I was in a relationship for almost four years with a man who turned out to not be “the one” and how happy I am that I figured that out to someone whose hair inevitably looks better than mine, because I. Don’t. Care. How. My. Hair. Looks. Just kidding. I care how my hair looks. Sort of. But not enough. You know? Not enough to go to some blow dry bar in SoHo and buy an outfit that says “I totally don’t care how I look for you people” and show up to have a pissing contest with people who don’t really care what I’m doing with my life. 

Does this make me the Janeane Garafolo of my own life? Minus the chain smoking and the crush on Sandy Frink, of course. Maybe. Because despite everything, I would like to go. I would like to say that I went. I would like to say hi. I would like to see what it’s like…in a social experiment kind of way. 

Almost every day someone I know or grew up with announces their engagement on Facebook and I have a reaction. Sometimes: who cares! Sometimes: AWWW YAY! Sometimes: FUCK. Sometimes: Oh…that’s a mistake. But mostly: Oh good for them, they look happy. But never: Oh my GOD I’m so behind. Because I don’t think it is a contest, or a competition, or something to take lightly. At this stage of life it is so easy to feel the mounting societal pressure to settle down, but what if you aren’t ready? I’m not miserably single, and I haven’t been miserably single for seven years. Hell, I don’t even think I am single (I should probably figure that out…hang on, gotta make a phone call) I like my life, I like my friends, and marriage is not a “goal” of mine. If I decide to get married, it will be because it makes perfect sense, not for any other reason. I think that marriage can be a really beautiful thing, but it’s not for everyone. I’m not saying it’s not for me, but I’m not ready to pick someone and say, “you’re my family now and forever”, and I think that is completely, absolutely fine. 

Also, if I went, I’d probably just get drunk and tell everyone I invented post-its.

 

The Reflection in the Glass

July 28, 2014

You have a miraculous time as a child discovering the sky and the sandbox and what’s the name of that flower? And then boobies and drinking your parents’ old stash of creme de menthe sitting on the berber carpet in the basement and getting caught in the seatbelt mid-kiss and then you get to go at it alone. At first it’s exhilarating: decorating your first apartment and buying cheap wine at liquor stores on the corner and throwing dinner parties (that everyone just gets “college drunk” at anyway), and making the perfect mix of songs for a road trip upstate with friends, but it drips away. You fall deeply, desperately in love and then you fall slowly and painstakingly out of love. And then you take care of yourself and you learn what you’re really like and what you really like. You accumulate nice things and you sit around, alone, listening to the music that you like and looking at the nice things you like and you wish someone would come over and tell you that they like you and your stuff.

———————————————————————

He left his jacket on the back of your desk chair. A sort of corduroy reminder of the small physical part he plays in your life. This apartment is full of physical reminders of men who never come by; your ex, your father, and now him. You dug through the pockets, looking for answers to all the questions you’re too afraid to ask, but the days of finding answers on crumpled receipts shoved into pockets are long gone. He’s clean. Except for a dime, a dime in the right hand pocket, ten cents and some dried out tobacco that fell from the tip of a cigarette, probably. The fabric doesn’t even smell. You think it faintly reminds you of Fruit Loops, if anything, but that doesn’t make any sense because you’ve seen the contents of his cabinets and his fridge with no milk. He’s simply not in the jacket.

All of the things left behind, the books and the upholstery and the tobacco now under your fingernails, none of it holds any meaning. They’re just things left behind, like voicemails or notes unwritten, or unsent blank birthday cards full of intention. Or moments, playing like black and white movies on a projector in a bar behind a whiskey shot but you can’t see his face. It could be a reflection of you, but really, all that’s left is a pile of stuff.

So you lie on the floor wondering if you should pour a glass of wine; and the wood paneling on the ceiling is really nice, you like it, you think. And this song reminds you of the time you were on drugs and thought you should probably lie down.

The sun is still out. Why make that glass shatter? Why throw it at the wall? Certainly not for the noise. For the men who don’t come around.

Break the glass. Bleed into the reflection.

My Alma Mater’s Handling of Rape-A Response to The New York Times Article

July 16, 2014

As a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (‘08) I’ve spent the last few days trying to organize my thoughts surrounding the New York Times story “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t.”  The article tells the story of Anna, a current student who reported her rape and sexual assault to the colleges last September. The piece details the subsequent hearing held by the administration over just 12 days and the eventual clearing of all three accused football players. Anna was left with no grounds to press criminal charges, and was instead faced with repercussions of her own while her assailants walked free.

When I read the article, I immediately emailed twelve friends who are also William Smith graduates a link and with my initial reaction of shock, anger, shame, and confusion. Since I sent the email, just three days ago, I have read many responses from fellow graduates and current students as well as President Mark Gearan’s letter addressing the outrage surrounding the article.

Many of these responses are eloquent and embrace positive change for the colleges. Many of them are hateful, spiteful and painful to read. Worst of all, Gearan’s response is cowardly, impersonal, and bureaucratic. In my time at HWS, I looked up to President Gearan as a man with an open mind, a love of learning, and a high level of respect for humanity. But his letter defended the institution, rather than the students the institution is supposed to nurture. As the former director of The Peace Corps, I would have hoped him champion the latter.

HWS is being held up as an example of a nationwide problem. There are comments on the colleges’ Facebook page that read, “Anyone with female children would be insane to send their daughters to this deplorable, violent, misogynist hell hole” and “So very happy I chose a different school for my son.” I had a mostly wonderful experience at Hobart and William Smith, and so did my twelve friends. In emailed responses we agreed that we  may have made some questionable choices, especially involving alcohol while in college, but all-in-all, our memories were mostly positive.

There’s no denying that drinking and sex occur on college campuses. Alcohol impairs judgment, and in the college environment there is a good deal of social pressure that can contribute to the mishandling of rape and sexual assault. However, alcohol does not cause rape and we should be careful to point out that distinction. College students are not going to stop drinking, but they do need to know that drinking is not necessary to have fun, and that drinking too much does not equal more fun. Andrea Rosenthal (’08) posed a question that I think is important to ask. If “the culture of college lends itself to these situations, how do we get THAT to change? How do you tell young women and men they don’t need to get absolutely black out to be social, enjoy college and have a fun experience, especially when we did a lot of the time?”

As women, we need to stand up for ourselves when we know that we have been taken advantage of, and as a society we need to stop rationalizing rape and sexual assault. This is not easy to do. Consent is a tricky thing, especially when alcohol is involved, but “no means no” is taught in rape prevention classes for a reason. There are no grey areas and there are no exceptions. It doesn’t matter what the relationship between victim and assailant is or was in the past, it doesn’t matter whether the perpetrator was attractive, or what the victim was wearing or whether or not there were witnesses.

We have to stop making excuses for abusive behavior as a society. Eileen Casey-Campbell (’07) wrote, “I’m angry that anyone could assault another human being. I’m angry about the culture that leads to sexual violence and leads us to hide it away in shame. I’m angry that a corporate institution gets to adjudicate felonies with no oversight and arbitrary procedures.”

As William Smith graduates, we stand behind Anna’s bold decision to go public with her story. I encourage current students at HWS, and colleges across the nation to remember this story and act bravely to combat rape culture on campus.

These are not the words of scared, judgmental, entitled girls, these are the words of William Smith Graduates. These are the words of the community that stands behind Anna, and the words of intelligent women of William Smith who are ready for a global change.

So how do we shift the conversation towards change? How do we stop the slut-shaming and the institution-shaming, the misogyny and the favoritism towards athletes? How do we turn this very brave young student’s tragic experience into the lesson that she undoubtedly wanted us to learn from stepping forward with her story? I am not sure.

Suggestions ranged from starting organizations to push for qualified experts on every campus, revamping Title IX procedures, to starting or joining an organization that pushes for qualified men and women on every campus to handle sexual assault cases.

All of these options are good, but the best thing we can do is not get on with our lives, but continue the discussion and perpetuate the positivity and the humanity instead of the shame and the negativity. We all want love and respect and joy in our lives, so instead of focusing on what everyone has done wrong, let’s teach the next generation those values and pass along these lessons from our mistakes. Hopefully, Hobart and William Smith and colleges nationwide will follow our lead.

 

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Feminism

June 11, 2014

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I have a difficult time making statements on gender equality, not because I don’t have strong feelings, but because it is nearly impossible to articulate the minutia of these issues eloquently, without sounding preachy or offended, but I’m ready to talk about it. I’m ready to talk about it because, for the first time in my life, I have only male bosses. I’m ready to talk about it because I cannot listen to or look at any more intelligent, beautiful, talented, interesting women whine about their bodies & the men who aren’t interested in them. I’m ready to talk about it because we have a lot of progress to make in the way that we view ourselves and others as women. I’m ready to talk about it because I don’t always feel safe. I’m ready to talk about it, so let’s talk.

I’ve been fortunate and dedicated enough to spend the majority of my life in a healthy environment while trying to practice healthy habits, so the following should in no way condone that I think anyone should “let themselves go”, so to speak, but a woman’s body is a touchy subject (pun intended). Recently, I went to the beach for a boating day with a group of girls and before we left I overheard their conversation from the bathroom, “I’m wearing a bikini but I doubt I’ll take my clothes off…I do not look good naked right now,” “Oh, I try very hard to never be naked in front of anyone. Me naked is not pretty.” This conversation came from girls who, combined, probably weigh in around 230 lbs. COMBINED. Also, they’re rad. Let me be clear, I don’t want to thrust my bikini-body on the unwilling. Sometimes I get a little crazy with the cheese plates and I don’t feel so hot for a few days, but we were on a boat with just each other. No one else was there. I got upset, because this kind of talk breeds low self-esteem, which leads to sadness, which isn’t good for anyone.

I’m no wizard, let’s get this out there. I’ve made my fair share of dating mistakes…also probably your share, and a few other stranger’s shares as well, but if I’ve gotten anything out of all those mistakes its this: You have to value yourself the way that you want to be valued. The dating world is kind of like trading commodities, you’re not going to get a Jaguar for a mop, so try to be the Swiffer that you know you can be. I mean, right? As a side note, I think that some women advertise themselves as a Bissel and turn out to be more like the vacuum with the metal kickstand that you kept in the garage. This is the worst analogy I’ve ever come up with, BUT what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop expecting to be treated like “Princesses” just because we’re pretty. You want to be treated well, ladies? Treat yourself well and treat the people that you care about well. Love is mutual. Unless you’re Morello. Poor, crazy Morello. (OITNB! NO SPOILERS…I know) I’m tired of hearing women AND men say things like, “he should treat you better! Look at your ass, girl!”. No. We should treat each other well because we care, not because of a nice butt*. 

*I can appreciate a good booty, I know how many squats it takes to get there, mostly cause I usually do half that eat ice cream instead.

Stop sleeping with men that don’t want the kind of relationship that you do. If you both agree, and actually both decide that you don’t want to be exclusive, go for it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with dating around and being open (and safe) about it with the people that you date. However, we all know that a lot of the time women enter into situations where they want to be in an exclusive relationship and the men do not and instead of leaving the situation, the women stay, hoping to “change his mind”. This is not good. It is not good for many reasons, the first of which being that you should be in the kind of relationship that you want to be in, everyone should, men, women, friends, co-workers, whatever! This is a version of settling. I recently met someone who was in her mid-thirties at a bar with her male friend. When asked about the nature of their relationship he responded, “oh, we’re just friends! ” and she said, “It’s super complicated.” A few drinks later it became clear that she did not want to just be friends, and he was treating her terribly. He would buy a round of drinks and forget hers, he barely talked to her when other girls were around. He asked another girl out in front of her. I asked him why he still hung out with her if he knew how she felt and he didn’t feel the same and he said, “because she pays for lots of things.” This is NOT the first time I’ve heard this story about a woman with money to spare. By the end of the night he was so drunk he got kicked out of the bar and she was crying. She was crying. An attractive, interesting woman in her mid-thirties with a great job was crying in a bar over a guy she’s never even kissed. I’m not judging her for this, but this happens all the time when we lose value in ourselves. Stop thinking that its okay to be taken advantage of like this, and we all need to stop using money as leverage for sex/love/etc. Stop sleeping with people who don’t want to date you when you want to date them, and for chrissake, stop sleeping with people who want to date you when you don’t want to date them, too! This isn’t just a feminist issue, it’s a humanity issue. Have sex with strangers, have one-night stands if you want, but not at the expense of someone else’s feelings, because they’re not just feelings. This is affecting who we are, how we see ourselves, and keeping us from reaching our full potential.

Let’s all make an effort to know our worth and stop devaluing ourselves and we will  be able to achieve our goals. This is a self-esteem issue at its core; not bravado and ego and machismo, but true value. The healthy relationships around me are built on this value, built on the idea that we need each other, not as crutches or security blankets or sugar daddies/mommas, but in a reciprocal way. It’s about the give and the take, but you can’t get tricked into thinking you have nothing to give. 

culture

May 29, 2014

I recently overheard that “no one in LA reads books. We see lots of movies, though.” I also overheard a girl at a bar say, “I just came from ballet class. Well, it was cardio barre, but I like to call it ballet.” I’m not entirely sure those are related, but let’s talk about culture in Los Angeles for a second…or culture in 2014, actually. In Annie Hall, Alvy says, “I don’t want to live in a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right on red” and I grew up believing that, but it’s not the case. As in any major city, especially one so jam-packed with creative types, Los Angeles has myriad cultural offerings beyond “just going to the movies”. In the world we live in, creative people are creating content, music, words, art, and expression all around us, it’s just about deciding how to spend your time.

We live in a strange age where one can spend an entire day in front of a computer, commute home from work with iPhone updates all the while, and get home to order dinner on said phone and then spend the rest of the night watching critically acclaimed TV shows and still not even have gotten through the first season of Game of Thrones. The pressure (mostly due to social media) to have your finger on the pulse of all things culturally significant is as strong as your own connectivity. But what about all those books you wanted to read? What about all those bands you wanted to see when they came to town? What about the fact that you missed “Book of Mormon” when it was at the Pantages for an extended run?

In getting to know someone, and that person could be yourself, it is important to explore what they do when given free time. Is she the type of person who immediately turns on the TV? Is he someone who goes for a bike ride? Am I someone who puts on an album I love and then take out a pen and a notebook and just write? Are they a couple who checks out a comedy show? Does it matter? Can you be someone who does all of this? Yes, of course! In my opinion, however, it does matter. Not in a pretentious way, because who am I to judge how other people spend their free time? The way that we choose to advance our minds, or put them to rest, or find a creative outlet is what helps us to grow and expand our world view. Keeping a finger on the pulse of popular culture is important to some people and unimportant to others, but I would argue strongly against anyone who claims that we are, as a society both here in The US and around the world, deteriorating and uninspired slackers. Through technological innovation, the way that just about everything is multi-platform (you can watch a TV show while following along with tweets from the cast!), and the new, faster ways that we get our news through various media outlets, we are living in a very different world than our grandparents and we are finally starting to take advantage of that across all platforms.

I had a moment last night, while watching a band I knew nothing about, play a song I had never heard before, in a venue that I’ve been to many times, drinking a drink that I order all the time, where nostalgia hit me. Nostalgia for the moment I was currently in. This band was good, and they were so exuberant and enthusiastic and genuinely talented, and the guy in front of me had on a pair of cream colored Converse that were just a little bit broken in, and I realized that looking back on these years, the cluster of late-twenties years that I’m in the middle of right now, the memories would always taste like bourbon and sound like indie rock and feel like not blind-ambition, but this earned hope. A hope that has roots in hard work and talent and a can-do attitude. It’s this can-do attitude that our generation gets flack for sometimes, usually under the name “entitlement”, but it isn’t just entitlement that fuels Gen Y. What is beautiful about today’s culture and our generation is that when our can-do attitude meets real talent and hard work and when we figure out who we are, and what type of person we want to be…we can start to make beautiful music.

Food & Travel (in that order…)

May 7, 2014

It’s no secret that I love to eat. I grew up in a household where food was fun. We sat down to dinner together regularly, my mom made dinner six nights a week, and when we went out to dinner, there was a LOT of food. However, eating real food, real healthy food, was a priority. This was relatively unique in the early 90s, certainly more unique than the world we live in now where words like “organic”, “sustainable”, “locavore” & others are part of the general lexicon. I was less cool at school because my lunches didn’t include snack packs, lunchables, those packets of cheese and white breadstick things wrapped in individual plastic, dunkaroos (more plastic…they even tasted like plastic), or simply $5. At home, we had a two cookie rule, a no cereal with more than 6 grams of sugar rule, and absolutely no soda in the house (except a few cans of Pepsi from years ago in case Dad wanted a rum & coke some night).

I grew up eating lots of vegetables, almost no red meat, and SO MUCH PASTA. I mean, if we were having pesto for dinner and we were hungry before it was ready, “have some bread and butter” was the solution. Low-carb wasn’t something I was even remotely capable of until relatively recently. At some point along the journey, my dad became gluten-free (before it was cool. He’s the original hipster), and then my brother became lactose intolerant, and then my mother stopped eating anything with the word “toes” in it (potaTOES, tomaTOES, EggplanTOES…hmmm ok). Then I read “Eating Animals” and stopped eating poultry. Needless to say, going out to dinner with my family is a royal pain in the ass. However, there is a point and I promise I’m getting there.

I stopped taking vitamins sometime around 2010. I stopped drinking milk in 2009. The only vitamins I take now are the occasional Vitamin C, and Biotin. If I didn’t live in Southern California I’d probably take Vitamin D, as well. I stopped taking them because I decided to LISTEN to my body. If you’re eating healthy your body tells you what it needs. Instead of reaching for the first, closest, or easiest thing to eat, I try to figure out what I want. For example, when I think about a steak does my mouth water? What about fish? What about rice? We are conditioned to think that things like Pizza! always sound good, and of course they do…but when I think about cheese right now I don’t get excited. I know that’s crazy, because I LOVE cheese, but when I stop to think about it, I had half an avocado, walnuts, and some feta cheese on my salad at lunch today, so I’ve had quite a bit of good fat already today. My body isn’t craving it. I don’t need more. I try to eat lots of greens every day because I know that they’re full of vitamins. I don’t have a calcium deficiency despite the fact that I haven’t had more than a splash of milk in a cup of coffee a few times a year in FIVE years. I’m not trying to gloat, I’m genuinely fascinated that more people don’t live their lives this way. I spend $50/week or so on mostly organic, local groceries because I’m mostly buying eggs, fruit and vegetables (I usually eat meat and fish when I go out). I recognize that these options are limited in other parts of the country and that by living in Los Angeles I have a produce advantage, and for that I will gloat.

I’ve been traveling for most of the past month. I spent three weeks in New York and then five days in New Orleans. To say that these were food-centric trips would be an understatement. New York was all pasta, pizza, bagels, dumplings, and wine. New Orleans was Po’ Boys, fried oysters, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried PASTA, fried alligator, alligator pie, crawfish bread, crawfish etouffee, crawfish monica, crawfish sacks, boiled crawfish, shrimp bread, shrimp & grits, grits & eggs, biscuits, bloody marys, beer, bourbon, bread pudding, and beignets!

It’s time to eat some vegetables again, folks, but beforehand…just a little food & travel porn:

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Crawfish Bread

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Crawfish Boil

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Saratoga Springs, NY

Jazzfest 2014

Jazzfest 2014