#MotivationMonday – Spring Cleaning

It’s hard to believe with some people walking through snow today, but yesterday was the first day of spring! And what better way to welcome the vernal equinox than by getting rid of all the clutter in your life for some spring cleaning? Here’s a guide I wrote a couple of years ago, but it still rings true until today. Start your spring off right and make your life more simple and stress free!

Spring Cleaning Your Life

Happy first day of spring, y’all! The sun shows its face a little longer (12 hours to be exact), the weather (usually) gets warmer and we can finally put the nasty winter behind us. The coming of spring is also a time for rebirth and regrowth, a marker for us to start anew. And that includes getting rid of anything in our lives that feels old or unused – aka it’s spring cleaning time.

I’m not talking about doing a thorough sweep of your house/apartment and getting rid of old items in your pantry or clothes that you haven’t worn in a year (although you should probs do that too). No, I’m talking about cleaning up your life. Things that effect you every day that you keep putting off but know you should do something about. Here are a few suggestions for making your life a little less messy and a little more bearable than ever before.

DVR

I am probably not the best example for this, but I’m hoping this will help some of you out there. The problem with television today is that there are too many good shows on right now. That means there are probably a lot of shows on your list that you have to go through every week. I’m not even going to tell you how many shows I actively watch, because it’s stupidly embarrassing. But there are also shows that are on my list that I just watch out of habit, that I should probably just delete from my DVR because it’s not adding anything to my life. Example: Heart of Dixie. Why did I start watching it? Jason Street and Summer Roberts (Scott Porter and Rachel Bilson). Why am I still watching it? No idea. I put it on and I only half pay attention to what is happening. If you asked me what’s going on this season, I could tell you that Zoe is still dating that Jewish boyfriend from NY and not with Wade, and Jamie King’s character is MIA because she had a baby IRL. Case in point: it’s time to clean out my series recordings.

Hard Drive

ben wyatt comp trash photo benwyatttrashcan_zps369c7a79.gif
Is your computer running slow? Maybe it’s because you have too many extemporaneous files and pictures and songs your never listen to stored in the nooks and crannies of your hard drive. It’s time to clean up those cookies and get rid of those songs you downloaded in college just to create some kind of party mix, because honestly, are you listening to SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS on the daily while relaxing or browsing the internet?

E-mail Subscriptions

I admit it: I’m the worst at e-mails. Replying, sending, deleting from my inbox. I also sign up for things and forget how I signed up in the first place. Like all those Groupon/LivingSocial/OneSaleADay shit is too much. Literally ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’. I went to the Tribeca Film Festival once in 2005 and I am still on their mailing list. Unless they’re going to personally fly me out to New York, I’m probably never going again. So why am I still receiving their e-mails?? BECAUSE I’M LAZY AND DELETE THEM INSTEAD OF JUST UNSUBSCRIBING.

Facebook Friends

thumbs_fyi-spring-cleaning-facebook-friends-friendship-ecards-someecards

You know when you’re going through your Facebook feed and you say “UGH” outloud when you see someone’s status of “going to the gym” or 500 pictures of the same baby just in different angles or those people who make politically incorrect and/or slightly racist comments  on your wall? Yeah, time to go through your list and unfriend those folks. You’re not in college anymore where the whole goal of Facebook was to be friends with every single person you had a class with. Use Facebook to stay connected with the people you actually care about. Maybe you’ll even find yourself complaining less about Facebook in general.

Actual Friends

girl bye nene

Let’s be real. There are people in your life that you should just cut off. If there’s anything I’ve learned being in my “late 20s” it’s that I don’t have patience or time to deal with people that don’t add to my life in any way. They might be the type of friends that add more drama to your life than is necessary as an adult or perhaps they are the type that are just… there, but either way, why are you wasting your time on people who aren’t a positive influence in your life when you could be hanging out with those who enrich your entire being? It may seem harsh, but you gonna do what you gotta do.

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Kid Sleepovers vs. Big Kid Sleepovers

Before you continue reading, get your mind out of the gutter. The sleepovers I’m talking about have nothing to do with shacking up with a significant other. It’s about the pure (semi-pure) and un-adulterated (adult) sleepovers with your gal or guy pals to celebrate friendship. I’ve gone to a number of these over the past few years, and I am such an advocate of them. We’re all so busy with our own lives, and while we get to hang out with our friends on a semi-regular basis, it’s not the same when you spend 12+ hours together in a confined area with an endless amount of snacks and booze.

Obviously there are big differences between having these sleepovers as a child and as an adult, and I’m here to help you realize that grown-up sleepovers are just what you need in your life right now to *reconnect* with your nearest and dearest. Just be aware that things have changed since you were 13 years old.

Juice Boxes vs. Wine

We all know the secret to any get together is booze. Unless you’re Mormon on an alcoholic, it’s mandatory at every event you go to, and I feel even more crucial if you’re attending a sleepover. As kids, you’d get soda or apple juice or grape juice – and I guess it’s kind of the same if you count wine as grape juice.

Boys vs. Men

Mrs. DiCaprio. Mrs. Leo DiCaprio. Mrs. Leonardo DiCaprio. *signs name over and over again* When we’re tweens, we discuss matters of the heart like, ‘Wanye asked me for a pen today in class and he totally touched my hand for too long when he grabbed it from me what does this mean??’. All the talk is the ‘what ifs’ and questioning what it would be like to kiss so and so and who’s likes who at school. And then when you grow up, it’s all real. It’s tangible. Your friends are engaged, in long-term relationships, married, have babies, the topic changes from ‘what would it be like to kiss Wanye’ to ‘I am going to strangle Wanye’s mother over these wedding plans.’ It ranges from why you think your friend’s boyfriend isn’t good enough to what kind of birth control you’re on, and nap time patterns for the little ones. The things you always thought were so far away as a kid are currently staring at you straight in the face.

Staying Up All Night vs. I’m Gonna Pass Out

In my mid-20s, I had a sleepover where we stayed up until like 4:30 in the morning. This isn’t totally out of character for me because I am insane and go to bed around 2:30-3am. However, it’s different when you’re interacting with your friends until that time of day/night. It felt like we were kids again, staying up as long as we could to prove that… we could. Albeit, as kids, staying up “late” basically meant anything after like, 11pm. But at the most recent sleepover I attended, I could’ve sworn it was lights out by like 1:30-2am. And on top of that, we were super organized about it because we arranged who was bringing sleeping bags and where everyone was sleeping. And no one fought to stay up late, because we’re all old now and need our beauty rest for real.

Kid Movies vs. Serious Movies

Let’s be honest. We watched Save the Last Dance a few weeks ago. That is the same exact movie I watched when I attended sleepovers as a kid. This is exactly the same.

Parental Superversion vs. Significant Other Supervision

Part of the allure of sleepovers as a kid is that you’ll be with your best friends with only one or two parents around to check in on your shenanigans. It’s also helpful that the responsibility of buying food and cleaning up isn’t yours and that you don’t have to worry about making breakfast in the morning. As an adult, you take on all that responsibility on yourself – and you also might have significant others wondering about your whereabouts and supervising your life in a different way.

Pranks vs. No Pranks

I (luckily) never had friends who were dumb enough to do pranks like the freezing of the bra and writing on sleeping faces and putting hands in water so they’ll pee. Like, what is wrong with kids? Anyways, I guess it wasn’t that much different for me as an adult since I suppose I keep similar company, because those pranks still don’t happen.

Games vs. Social Media Stalking

Games at girls’ sleepovers always involve boys, like MASH and Truth or Dare or scary paranormal stuff like Light as a Feather or Bloody Mary. What happened to us as children? Anyways, as fun as those may be, we as adults like to play a different game that involves stalking people on social media and talking about them because we’re only human.

Things I’ve Cried About As An Adult

“I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I’d cry for a week.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

We’ve covered all the pop culture moments that have made us cry, where the best and worst places to cry are, and today we’re focusing on the real life things that can trigger a single tear or multiple tears, rather. Look, we’re technically adults here, but to be honest, we can be a bunch of crybabies. That’s right, we’re women who are in our late 20s (ughh) who have a lot of feelings that are best treated with physically letting them go through the magic of tears.

For every legitimate reason for crying (death, break-up, etc.) there’a an equal and opposite stupid reason (forgetting the coffee you made on the counter before leaving for work). We’re here to assure you that our tears know no bounds, and if you think your emotions can’t be kept at bay, you’re not the only one. Here are just a few incidents that have made us cry – as grown ass adults.

  • Someone told me my shoe was untied (one of those weeks where you feel like everything is against you, from your own shoelaces to the stranger who doesn’t want you to trip).
  • That time my car broke down on the way to meet my friend for lunch.
  • Someone at the gym tried to tell me how to use the bicep curl machine (I already knew how to use it, but I’m also noticing that I don’t take correction well.)
  • My roommates being just annoying enough that makes me want to punch a wall, but not annoying to the point where I hate them.
  • I went to church wearing my normal face, and a stranger hugged me because he said I “looked like I could use a hug.” Apparently, what I could use is a different face.
  • Anytime a wife/husband is surprised by their spouse who is supposed to be in the military overseas.
  • Listening to people sing harmonies live. Like this song from Once the Musical.
  • Imagined scenarios. ALL THE TIME.
  • Every children’s Christmas pageant I have ever seen.
  • The part at my church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service when they turn off the lights and only the candles everyone’s holding fill the sanctuary with light while everyone sings Silent Night.
  • Dreams. Sometimes I wake up with a tear-puddle.
  • There were no dresses in my size.
  • My dad giving me $20 ‘just in case’. Which then leads into the ‘when am I ever going to have enough money’ downward spiral.
  • Old men dining alone. Though if I were an old man dining alone I’d probably just be like “yeah, I was hungry, what?”
  • Seeing an old couple still in love.
  • That old guy who carried a photo of his late wife with him everywhere he goes, even an In-N-Out.
  • Any time I think about people who don’t have any friends or family: another imagination-based cry.
  • When my computer is so slow that I literally cannot get any of my work done and then the blue screen comes up.
  • A cassette of me saying nursery rhymes and talking when I was one. You could have fit my voice in a thimble.
  • An old lady was really dressed up.
  • Pretty much any time a grown man breaks down and cries.
  • My nephew went crazy over a Caillou doll I got him for his birthday. Then I pictured him being embarrassed about what a “baby” he was when he gets older and I wanted him to stay a 2-year-old for another decade at least.
  • I forgot to put a mug under the Keurig.
  • I forgot to bring my travel mug with me before work and now it’s just sitting on the counter waiting to be consumed.
  • I took an accidental selfie while checking my phone. My face, when I haven’t prepped it for a camera or mirror? Oooh shit. Actual tears.
  • That time Wendy Davis supporters filled the Texas State Capitol.
  • When I see a picture of carefree, young, happy people from 80+ years ago. They’re all dead now and even long lives are short.
  • They cut my hair too short.
  • They didn’t cut my hair short enough and I was too afraid/lazy to ask them to fix it
  • Anytime the thought of conflict comes up.
  • Anytime the thought of being alone for the rest of my life comes up.
  • I stopped to let a car make a left into his driveway. He honked at me to keep going instead. My dog had died that day and I crafted revenge scenarios where he found out my dog had just died then felt real assy. Who honks at a nice driver with a recently dead dog?
  • Speaking of the dead dog, no one mentioned it to my out-of-town nieces and nephews. A year later, my brother had his dog over (who looked nothing like Dead Galway but kids are dumb). My visiting nephew, who we thought had forgotten Dead Galway, squeeled “oh, Aunt Molly! You got him back!” That was a heavy laugh over the top of a light cry.

Life Lessons I’ve Learned From How I Met Your Mother

Kids, after nine seasons, 208 episodes, eight slaps, three Canadian pop star music videos, countless girlfriends and one person revealed to be the perfect mother, How I Met Your Mother is coming to an end.

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I’ve been a HIMYM fan since season one, which I suppose is rare in this day and age, especially since the show has lasted this long. And while my level of obsession never quite hit an embarrassing peak like I did with The Office, I can’t help but compare  the two. Both are sitcoms that will forever have a mark on television, both have loyal fan followings, both ended (are ending) with nine seasons to their resume. Like The Office, fans were given a year’s worth warning that it would be the final season, but that doesn’t mean the end comes any easier. It’s been a year since I’ve watched a full episode of The Office, because it hurts my heart too much to know there will most likely never be another new episode again.

And with every episode of HIMYM that passes by, with every last slap, every last high five, every last ‘legendary’ uttered, the reality of the show ending is hitting me like a brick wall, and I’m unable to keep my emotions in tact. I’m like pregnant Lily with the non-stop crying. But let’s not focus on the show ending, but rather what we’ve been able to learn over the past nine years.

We all know that the point of us hearing Ted tell all these stories is to explain to his kids how he met and fell in love with their mother. But in that nine year span of storytelling, we watched him and the gang experience love, heartbreak, births, deaths, and overall, grow up. I mean think about yourself nine years ago compared to who you are now. You’ve gone through shit and it’s changed you for the better or worse, but either way it has changed you. Everything Ted recalled to his kids over nine seasons helped explain how and why it’s led to meeting the love of his life. Like Ted, I’m a very big ‘everything happens for a reason’ person, and this entire series is the epitome of that. So in the spirit of that mantra, here are the best life lessons we’ve gleaned from HIMYM, the ones that help shape who we are, and the ones we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Because sometimes, even if you know how something’s gonna end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride. – Ted Mosby

Get out of the house, Go for a walk, Get a bagel

Season 4, Episode 22: Right Place, Right Time

Architect Ted is down in the dumps because he was commissioned to design a chain restaurant called Rib Town in the shape of a giant cowboy hat. Not exactly what he imagined he would be doing with his life. Clearly frustrated, Robin suggests he get out of the house, go for a walk and get a bagel. A series of circumstances lead him to crosswalk where his ex-fiancee, Stella runs into him. That meeting led to his eventual hiring at Columbia University where he taught an architecture class – which is where The Mother, a student, sees Ted for the first time.

In times of frustration or when we feel like we’re at a dead end, it’s hard to figure out what our next move will be. But maybe the best move you can make is one that is out of your comfort zone. Maybe the best move you can make is just go out and do something. Period. We don’t know what we’ll find when we go off the beaten path, but it might turn out to change your life forever.

Nothing Good Happens After 2AM

Season 1, Episode 18: Nothing Good Happens After 2AM

Ted relays to his kids that his mom used to say, ‘Nothing good happens after 2am.’ Proving this theory right, he recalls the time he was waiting up for a phone call from his girlfriend Victoria, who lived in Germany. However, Robin (Ted’s ex and forever one of the great loves of his life) was feeling depressed and alone, and called Ted asking him to come over. It was past 2am, and he should have gone to bed, but he went to Robin’s instead. One thing leads to another, Ted tells Robin that he & Victoria broke up (they hadn’t), Ted starts making out with Robin, Ted goes to the bathroom to call Victoria to break-up with her, only to go back out to the living room to see he had Robin’s phone, and Robin is on the phone talking to Victoria and everything in Ted’s life crumbles down like the Arcadian.

Just quit while you’re ahead. Or behind. Better yet, just go to sleep. Stay in. Whatever you do, don’t go out after 2am. It’s too late for anything good to happen.

The Front Porch Test

Season 4, Episode 17: The Front Porch

Lily admits she has been conducting a secret test with all of Ted’s paramours, and if they don’t pass it, she attempts to break them up. Called The Front Porch Test, Lily would picture said significant other of Ted when they’re old and playing bridge on their front porch, and if she can’t imagine them being a part of their tight-knit group years from now, she’d smoke ’em out.

I’m not suggesting you purposely break your friends up with their boyfriends/girlfriends here. The point is that Lily knew that they would be best friends for the rest of their lives. She didn’t just imagine growing old with Marshall and their kid(s), but with Ted, Barney, Robin and The Mother too. While this show is largely about finding out who the love of Ted’s life is, it’s really about these friends who become each other’s family. They’ve already been through so much together in nine seasons, and it’s crazy to think that it’s just a little slice of their entire lives. And if we’re lucky enough, we have these friends that easily pass the Front Porch Test too.

Admit You Actually ARE Too Old For This Shit

Season 4, Episode 19: Murtaugh

Any fan of HIMYM can tell you that one of Barney Stinson’s favorite pasttimes is laser tag. In this episode, he tries to get Ted to go play laser tag with him, but Ted refuses, citing his Murtaugh List. Named after Danny Glover’s character in the Lethal Weapon series, whose signature phrase is ‘I’m too old for this shit!’, the Murtaugh List is a record of things he believes he has become too old to do anymore. Among the activities are pulling an all nighter, put off going to the doctor, going to a rave and using a beer bong.

Somewhere around the age of 27 it kind of hits you like a ton of bricks that you’re not getting any younger. Well, it was for me, at least. You’re checking off the next level of age range boxes on forms and looking around you only to see that it’s like everyone you know is getting married or having a baby – because we’re old enough that it’s normal to do so. For example, some of the things on my Murtaugh List include but are not limited to: going to midnight premieres of movies, drinking to vomit-inducing levels, sleeping past noon, using my undated college ID for discounts, shopping at Forever 21 (which is probably the hardest thing on this list for me to stop doing), and wasting my time.

There’s No Escaping Your Embarrassing Past

Season 2, Episode 9: Slap Bet

For the record, this episode was a complete gamechanger in the world of HIMYM – and one of the best in the entire series. The gang finds out Robin doesn’t like going to malls, and they set out on a quest as to why. They have their own theories – Marshall thinks she got married in a mall, Barney is adamant Robin did porn – so the two agree to a Slap Bet, in which the winner of the bet gets to slap the loser as hard as they can. Barney finds a video of someone named Robin Sparkles, and thinking he won, slaps Marshall. However, it turns out the tape is actually of Robin as a teen pop star in her native Canada, whose hit single was called Let’s Go To The Mall. Because of his premature slap, slap bet commissioner Lily allows Marshall to dole out 10 slaps in succession or five for all eternity, and Barney chooses the latter. Hence the reason the slaps were randomly placed throughout the series.

I’m assuming there are very few of people out there who lived a past life as a pop star, so let’s put this in layman’s terms. Whether there’s physical evidence of your less-than-stellar years past or emotional remnants leftover, the things that have happened to you yesterday never really leave you. But you can either choose to run away from it or embrace it. Use your personal Robin Sparkles to empower you, to make you a better person.

Some People Have Expiration Dates

Season 2, Episode 22: Something Blue

Ted: Seriously, where do you see yourself in five years?
Robin: Where do you see yourself?
Ted: Honestly, in five years, I’d probably want to be married.
Robin: And I’d probably want to be in Argentina.
Ted: Argentina?
Robin: Or Tokyo, or Paris. Look Ted, I don’t know where I’m gonna be in five years. I don’t wanna know. I want my life to be an adventure.
Ted: We have an expiration date, don’t we?

Spoiler alert: Ted and Robin’s romantic relationship didn’t really legit expire until this past week, TBH. But in general, we have to accept that sometimes we’re not meant to be friends or in a relationship with people that are currently in our lives – even if you think they pass the Front Porch Test. Like I mentioned in my Murtaugh List, I’m too old to waste my time. That applies to people too. If a relationship in your life feels ‘rotten’ or on its way out, it’s time to accept the fact there’s an end date, and you just need to throw it away.

Never Miss Big Events, If You Don’t Want To Know The End

Season 2, Episode 14: Monday Night Football

The gang makes it an annual tradition to watch the Super Bowl together, but this particular year, Mark from their favorite pub dies – and his funeral is the night of the Super Bowl. The wake lasts all night, so they’re forced to watch it all together the next day. However as you know, avoiding big news like who won the biggest game of the year in America is not an easy task. Ted even wears the “Sensory Deprivator 5000” (made of sunglasses with tiny holes to see out of and blinders duct taped to the side made out of an old cereal box) to avoid seeing and hearing anything while he goes to pick up their favorite wings from a sports bar. Hilarity ensues.

I hate spoilers. I am that person who avoids social media starting at 5pm PST if I know a show I love will have a strong social media presence, because I don’t want to know what happens. On #Scandal Thursdays? Forget it. I avoid Twitter like the plague. I often wish I had Ted’s Sensory Deprivator 5000, because I’m that serious about not getting spoiled. That being said, no one can complain about getting spoilers while online, because then you’re just being an idiot. Like our head Gladiator, Kerry Washington recently tweeted:

“Folks mad about spoilers are making me laugh. I feel u’re pain but thats what EVENT TV is! If u dont wanna know the score, dont follow ESPN.”

Challenge Accepted

Most people know that this phrase is used throughout the series by Barney, mainly, even taking on things that aren’t necessarily challenges as challenges anyways. For example, he’s accepted the challenges of sleeping with Marshall’s professor, talking his way out of a speeding ticket, hook up with a girl while wearing Marshall’s old overalls, get a girl’s number while talking like a dolphin, and perhaps my favorite, get a girl’s number in a garbage bag, without using the letter ‘e’.

While I’m not judging if you decide to you Barney’s ‘Challenge Accepted’ to pick up girls/guys (well not that much anyways), perhaps we can accept challenges in our lives a different way. Go out of your way to do something you’re never done before . It can be as simple as trying a new item on the menu of your fave restaurant or as big as deciding to move to another city. Another big theme of HIMYM is taking chances. Don’t be afraid of the possibility of making a mistake. And sometimes even when you know something is a mistake – you just have to make it anyways. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Stagnancy is the ruin of life – how do we expect to be better if we don’t at least try?

Some Things Are Better Left Unspoken, Enjoy Each Others’ Company Instead

And it’s funny, in a moment like that, when what’s really happening is too intense to deal with, sometimes it’s best to leave it unspoken, and just enjoy each other’s company instead. {x}

Season 9, Episode 19: Vesuvius

The final season, the writers have been focused on one weekend, that of Barney and Robin’s wedding. That’s 24 episodes taking place over the course of three days. A lot happens in that span of time, and by episode 19, Ted’s planning to go off to Chicago and Marshall and Lily are saying Arrivederci to NY and Ciao to Italy. It’s this very moment that the group realizes an epic era is coming to and end and it might be a while before all five of them are in a room together again.

It’s all a bit overwhelming, because as characters, it hits them that they’re not going to see each other every day. As actors, I imagine they thought the same thing. As a viewer, it hit me that the show is actually ending. It has an expiration date. Shit is getting real. But like Future Ted says, ‘sometimes it’s best to leave it unspoken and enjoy each other’s company instead.’ It reminds me of when our group of high school friends were all together one last time before we each went our separate ways for college. It hurt like a motherfucker, knowing it was going to be different when we returned. We would never have that time together again. While I obviously still love them to this day and we go back to our old rhythms as if nothing’s passed when we do see each other, nothing will ever compare to the time we spent in high school. The best we can ever do is enjoy the moment while it’s here.

Wait For It…

Ultimately, HIMYM has always been a lesson in patience. Patience for Ted to find the love of his life and patience for the audience to find out who that person is. We live in a world where we expect everything right away. Our food delivered to us speedily, the scores of the game, information about the exports of Guyana at the click of a button. I mean we live in a world where binge-watching exists, and we want more as soon as it’s over.

Ted had to go through a number of heart-wrenching breakups and a slew of women he didn’t care about (lit’rally called someone ‘Blah Blah’ because he couldn’t remember her name. Carol. It was Carol.) – and if he didn’t experience all those years of frustration in that exact sequence of events, he would have never met The Mother. While it may be inexplicable why you’re going through what you’re going through now, there’s a bigger picture than we can see or even imagine. All we have to do is trust that everything will work itself out the way it’s meant to be.

One of my favorite quotes is by Lewis Smedes, and he says,

“Waiting is our destiny. As creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for, we wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light. We wait in fear for a happy ending that we cannot write. We wait for a ‘not yet’ that feels like a ‘not ever.’ Waiting is the hardest work of hope; waiting is the land between where things were and where things will be; and you don’t get to choose when you get to a waiting room, but you certainly get to choose how you will respond to waiting.”

So thank you cast, crew, writers, producers, everyone involved with How I Met Your Mother. It’s clear that you didn’t just create a classic sitcom forever etched in the history of television, but have also inspired millions of people to be better, to do better, to live their best lives, and to love – because it’s the best thing we do.

 

Spring Cleaning Your Life

Happy first day of spring, y’all! The sun shows its face a little longer (12 hours to be exact), the weather (usually) gets warmer and we can finally put the nasty winter behind us. The coming of spring is also a time for rebirth and regrowth, a marker for us to start anew. And that includes getting rid of anything in our lives that feels old or unused – aka it’s spring cleaning time.

I’m not talking about doing a thorough sweep of your house/apartment and getting rid of old items in your pantry or clothes that you haven’t worn in a year (although you should probs do that too). No, I’m talking about cleaning up your life. Things that effect you every day that you keep putting off but know you should do something about. Here are a few suggestions for making your life a little less messy and a little more bearable than ever before.

DVR

I am probably not the best example for this, but I’m hoping this will help some of you out there. The problem with television today is that there are too many good shows on right now. That means there are probably a lot of shows on your list that you have to go through every week. I’m not even going to tell you how many shows I actively watch, because it’s stupidly embarrassing. But there are also shows that are on my list that I just watch out of habit, that I should probably just delete from my DVR because it’s not adding anything to my life. Example: Heart of Dixie. Why did I start watching it? Jason Street and Summer Roberts (Scott Porter and Rachel Bilson). Why am I still watching it? No idea. I put it on and I only half pay attention to what is happening. If you asked me what’s going on this season, I could tell you that Zoe is still dating that Jewish boyfriend from NY and not with Wade, and Jamie King’s character is MIA because she had a baby IRL. Case in point: it’s time to clean out my series recordings.

Hard Drive

ben wyatt comp trash photo benwyatttrashcan_zps369c7a79.gif
Is your computer running slow? Maybe it’s because you have too many extemporaneous files and pictures and songs your never listen to stored in the nooks and crannies of your hard drive. It’s time to clean up those cookies and get rid of those songs you downloaded in college just to create some kind of party mix, because honestly, are you listening to SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS on the daily while relaxing or browsing the internet?

E-mail Subscriptions

I admit it: I’m the worst at e-mails. Replying, sending, deleting from my inbox. I also sign up for things and forget how I signed up in the first place. Like all those Groupon/LivingSocial/OneSaleADay shit is too much. Literally ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’. I went to the Tribeca Film Festival once in 2005 and I am still on their mailing list. Unless they’re going to personally fly me out to New York, I’m probably never going again. So why am I still receiving their e-mails?? BECAUSE I’M LAZY AND DELETE THEM INSTEAD OF JUST UNSUBSCRIBING.

Facebook Friends

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You know when you’re going through your Facebook feed and you say “UGH” outloud when you see someone’s status of “going to the gym” or 500 pictures of the same baby just in different angles or those people who make politically incorrect and/or slightly racist comments  on your wall? Yeah, time to go through your list and unfriend those folks. You’re not in college anymore where the whole goal of Facebook was to be friends with every single person you had a class with. Use Facebook to stay connected with the people you actually care about. Maybe you’ll even find yourself complaining less about Facebook in general.

Actual Friends

girl bye nene

Let’s be real. There are people in your life that you should just cut off. If there’s anything I’ve learned being in my “late 20s” it’s that I don’t have patience or time to deal with people that don’t add to my life in any way. They might be the type of friends that add more drama to your life than is necessary as an adult or perhaps they are the type that are just… there, but either way, why are you wasting your time on people who aren’t a positive influence in your life when you could be hanging out with those who enrich your entire being? It may seem harsh, but you gonna do what you gotta do.

St. Patrick’s Day Hangover Cures for Adults

Unpopular American opinion: I could care less about St. Patrick’s Day.

In fact,  I was never really into St. Patrick’s Day. In elementary school, I suppose it was an excuse to wear green and possibly get those gold chocolate coins that Leprechauns give out (is that how it works?) As a college student, I was into it in the sense that I liked hanging out with my friends and avoiding all work as much as possible. It was also a big deal in Boston, as one can expect, so I got into the spirit of things, but I was never really a hardcore celebrator. It doesn’t help that I’m not that big of a drinker either.

Now, well now I’m 28. Nothing has really changed. Except for the fact that I’m older. And if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re older too. Well, in the sense that you’re older than you were last year. And as adults, drinking and going out has changed since the days of college (hopefully). It’s not as easy to rally after a big night of drinking for class the next day. Now you have to actually rally or else you will get fired for not doing your job at work.

But, in the spirit of trying to keep our youth alive while still attempting to have fun, here are some helpful tips to get you through today (and any forthcoming holiday or big night out where your age prohibits you from being as much of a party animal as you used to be).

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Ladies, we all know makeup can transform us from monsters in the morning to Angelina Jolie-like creatures after just a few applications of moisturizer, foundation, powder, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, blush, lip gloss, and you’re good to go. Except now that you’re out of college, you probably have invested in legit/quality makeup so the results are most likely better than they used to be back in the day. Men, unless you already have a regular makeup regimen, you’re on your own. If you can’t feel good, you might as well look good.

Eat Breakfast

I’m assuming if you decided to stay up on a Monday night to drink your cares away instead of staying in to watch the third to last episode of How I Met Your Mother, the chances of you getting up early in the morning to make yourself a hearty breakfast are slim to none. But, in the event your body is just accustomed to getting up for your 9am work schedule, make sure you don’t skip out on bfast today. Make it, buy it, whatever. Just give your old, haggard body some sustenance. But just make sure it’s not that shit you used to eat on a dollar budget back in the day. You have money now. Well, a bit more than before. Invest in some real food.

Water: Does a Body Good

If you don’t know by now that you should hydrate as much as possible when you’re drunk/hangover, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m surprised you made it this far, frankly. But like any hangover when you’re old or young, water is essential. Just take your Nalgene to the water cooler and fill the puppy up. Perhaps make a friend while at the water cooler. Do people have water cooler talk anymore? If you’re not ‘into’ water, take the Gatorade/electrolyte drink route to replace all the salt and potassium you lost while dehydrated.

Take a Long Lunch

And by ‘long lunch’ I mean go in your car and take a nap. Or find a secret spot in your office to take a nap. Just go take a nap.

Avoid Extemporaneous Chit Chat

Here’s your chance to blow off small talk with your annoying co-workers. Without making it seem like you actually have a hangover, just give the impression you are too busy to stop and talk or something. You’re still technically impaired when hungover, not as bad as being drunk, but you’re not fully 100% functional until the hangover is gone. Basically you don’t want to make any big decisions or say something you don’t mean during this time. I say it’s the best excuse to not talk to people. Take it while you can.

Go To Sleep Early

That whole your body needs 8 hours of sleep thing isn’t a myth, y’all. It’s real life. And it’s even more important when you’re drunk/hangover. Your body needs to recover, especially since it’s not as young as it used to be. Basically, just take this entire experience as a wakeup call.

‘Parks And Recreation’: A Love Letter To The Hometown

After I graduated law school, I found a job in the legal profession (!) … in my hometown. Here I am, back where it all began.

English: City of Rochester, New York.

I hope you like that bridge because it took about 10 years to finish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am from Rochester, New York. There are far worse places that you could live. In fact, as a pretty humble city, I suggest that Rochester adopts “there are far worse places that you could live” as its slogan. It has less violent crime than Detroit (Detroit has many fine attributes, like motown), lower average yearly snowfall than Anchorage (AND ten other U.S. Cities!), and, with over a million people in the Rochester metropolitan area, is by far the largest Rochester in the United States. George Eastman (founder of Kodak), Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Kristen Wiig have all called this city home. (A Marie Claire profile of Wiig referred to Rochester as a “suburban backwater,” which was a little harsh for a city with so many fine cultural institutions.)  Did I mention that the National Museum of Play is here, too?

But this piece isn’t about Rochester, this is about hometowns, and living in yours as an adult — whether you’re from a mid-sized city, a mega-metropolis, or a small town. There’s a tendency, I think, to feel like if you live where you did at 14, maybe the rest of your life has become stagnant, too (you know, like a suburban backwater?). It’s easy to fear becoming that former varsity athlete who works at the same gas station he did senior year, reliving his glory days. Luckily for me, I was never very good at anything in high school, so that’s not really a danger. I don’t think appearing in the chorus of high school musicals and playing second doubles in tennis counts as “glory days” by any standard.

One bright spot if you find yourself back in your place of birth is the NBC series Parks and Recreation. It is a love letter to the hometown. The protagonist, Leslie Knope, is proud to be from Pawnee, Indiana, and is proud to live there still. As you watch the series, you can’t help but fall in love with Leslie’s enthusiasm about Pawnee, and hopefully you can catch some enthusiasm about your hometown, too. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from everyone’s favorite mid-level municipal employee:

(1) Nobody insults your hometown but you. And maybe you shouldn’t either. You will never see Knope more angry than when residents of nearby Eagleton snub Pawnee. Eagletonians are jerks, though: “When a tornado went through Pawnee, we asked Eagleton for help, but they claimed they weren’t home. The whole town said they weren’t home.” Your hometown is like your siblings when you were a kid: you might have complaints about them, but you would not put up with that kind of talk from anyone else. So when people make fun of your city’s downtown crow infestation, you should either remind them that at least that means the city’s secret uranium store didn’t kill them all, or take a cue from Leslie Knope and shut the whole conversation down:

(2) First in friendship, fourth in obesity. There are negative things about every city. Maybe the local sweets factory has contributed to a full-blown obesity bonanza. Maybe teen girl battles have compromised the municipal transit system. Despite its flaws, there are certainly plenty of wonderful people in your hometown. There’s something great about friends you have known for decades. But, some of Leslie’s best friends are not native Pawneeans. Remember that just because you grew up in your city, doesn’t mean everyone you meet there did. Be friendly and welcoming to newcomers, and they just might fall in love with your hometown, too. Ben Wyatt thought he was just passing through Pawnee, but the wonderful locals (well, mostly Leslie) changed his mind.

Cover Illustration of The Wonderful Leaps of S...

This guy leaped off of waterfalls nationwide, but he died in OUR waterfall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(3) Lil’ Sebastian Makes Everything Better. In one of Leslie’s greatest triumphs, she brings hometown hero Lil’ Sebastian (a winsome, elderly pony) back to the Harvest Festival. One of the best things about living in your hometown is being familiar with the local shorthand and in-jokes. Someone from Indianapolis or Eagleton might not understand the appeal of a geriatric pony with a heart of gold, but Pawneeans do. My city has a flagpole strung with lights instead of a municipal Christmas tree, a laser light show about an ill-fated 19th century daredevil and his pet bear, and our must-try cuisine is called a garbage plate. I love them all, because I grew up with them — except for the garbage plate, anyway.  It is hard to understand these hometown heroes if you aren’t actually from the town – I remember the locals getting all fired up about “spiced wafers” when I lived in Philly, and I just didn’t understand it because they taste like a grandmother – but when you are from there, it’s magic.

(4) Success starts at home. Living in a small town doesn’t mean that Leslie Knope has given up on her dreams. Instead, she believes that she could be president one day. More importantly, she takes steps to achieve her dreams while she’s still in Pawnee, running an impassioned campaign to become Pawnee’s next councilwoman — just see her closing argument in “The Debate,” where Leslie suggests that maybe true success involves making a difference right where you are:

I love this town. And when you love something, you don’t punish it. You fight for it. You take care of it. You put it first. As your City Councilman, I will make sure that no one takes advantage of Pawnee. If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care. If I come on too strong, its because I feel strongly. And if I push too hard, it’s because things aren’t moving fast enough. This is my home, you are my family, and I promise you, I’m not going anywhere.

(5) If all else fails, just slisten to Amy Poehler. Here is Poehler’s take on her character’s life in Pawnee: “I think there’s something very romantic about people deciding to be in love with your own small town. There’s a lot of arc in art and literature about moving to the big city, and there’s something really sweet about moving to a small town.” Whenever she talks about her character, Poehler respects Knope’s tenacity, and never acts like Leslie is at all pathetic for living in her hometown. And neither are you. Just ask Leslie Knope (…unless you’re from Eagleton).

The Enviable Tenacity of Paris Eustice Geller

paris

Paris Geller – a girl many look up to, yet fear at the same time. She’s extremely bright, surprisingly bi-lingual, a Yale graduate, and often times exudes Stalin-esque leadership skills. And there’s a part of me that wishes I had all of these qualities. Did I mention she’s a fictional character?

For those not in the Gilmore Girls know-how, Paris Geller is truly one of a kind. When we first meet Paris, she is the popular mean girl at the well-privileged private school Rory transfers to. Paris targets Rory and makes her her enemy because she’s the only one who could possibly compete with Paris intellectually, and vie for the Valedictorian spot come senior year. I have never seen a character on tv as studious, determined, hard-working, and ruthless as her. Some prime examples:

– Paris reveals to Rory she’s been volunteering for a Habitat for Humanity-like organization for years, because that’s what will get her into Harvard. “I started volunteering in fourth grade. I handed out cookies at the local children’s hospital. By ten, I was leading my first study group. The youngest person in the group was twelve. I’ve been a camp counselor. I organized a senior illiteracy program, I worked a suicide hotline, I manned a runaway center. I’ve adopted dolphins, taught sign language, trained seeing eye dogs.” This concerns Rory. She hasn’t done any of those things.

– In an attempt to gloat about her PSAT scores, Paris brags about her results to her friends, but when she asks Rory, she doesn’t oblige, and this drives Paris nuts. She knows Rory’s hiding her probably much higher score from her, and she even pulls a Mean Girls 3 way call scenario on her just to find out.

– When writing for the Yale Daily News’ Religion Beat, Paris goes hardcore when writing an article. “Look, Rory, if you want to crib your articles from the A.P. Wire, that’s your business. I, on the other hand, actually give a rat’s ass about journalistic integrity. When I write about Ramadan, I experience Ramadan. Are you chewing gum?

Throughout high school, Paris’s goal was to get into Harvard. When that didn’t pan out, she ended up going to Yale and becoming BFFs with Rory. She then spent all 4 years in college focusing on her next step, which was going to either med school or law school (she was so smart she could’ve taken up both professions, but she decided to be a doctor instead). Paris even created an extensive plan for her and Rory called “Operation Finish Line,” planning out in detail the last 5 months of their senior year. These boards included categories such as job fairs, tests, volunteer ops, seminars, classic college activities, etc. Most were legit (MCAT test prep classes) but others were default tactics, so as to not be unprepared come graduation (oceanography fellowship – ‘don’t even know what direction the ocean is in’).

THIS IS NOT HUMAN. Maybe this is how Type A Ivy Leaguers do it, but I can’t even begin to think about how much work she put into making those boards.* It’s crazy to think that there’s even a slight possibility someone out there in real life has mapped out an entire 5 month detailed plan of what they’ll do after they graduate college.**

This is not how I ever have or probably ever will treat an important life changing decision in my life. Frankly, I’m a little jealous. If I even had an ounce of what Paris had, I would probably have my act together and be 4 years into my ‘professional career’. But I’m not. I made no chart. I attended no seminars. I took no extemporaneous tests. The most I’ve ever done is make a pro and con list to decide whether to move to Los Angeles or not (embarassingly enough after Rory Gilmore’s decision making tactics). Even though I think Paris looks like a complete lunatic taking these extra steps in order to plan out her life, that’s precisely what I need right now. I need to figure out exactly what I want and create a clear cut goal to achieve. I need that rather annoying persistent determination to get it. I need to see the exact steps I have to take in order to reach that goal. I need to want to do all those things. Most of all, I need Paris to make these boards, and tell me what to do next, because i sure as hell don’t know myself. So if you’re out there, real life Paris, let me know. Because I could really use your help right now. Fictional Paris just isn’t going to cut it.

* I am fully aware this is not a real person

** Again, I can totally see an Ivy Leaguer doing this, but i went to Emerson. Unless it’s a storyboard for the movie you’re making, you didn’t do this.

Surviving Selling Things Parties: Avon Ladies, Mary Kay Girls, and Me

English: Screenshot taken from the video link ...

Over the past month, I have been invited to four Selling Things Parties. For the uninitiated, during these gatherings, a woman of child-bearing age will present wares, provide complimentary food and drink, and then collect orders for these goods. But don’t be fooled! The goal is not to buy things, but to “get together, have a glass of wine, and look at some great (shoes/makeup/spinach artichoke dip).”[1] What follows is a confusing and – dare I say – convoluted exchange, with the wares being shipped to the seller, who then distributes them, and I think that nobody writes a check until the goods are delivered, but how should I know?[2] All I’m sure of is, somebody probably has to pay for these things, and there is a catalog, and there are snacks.

​Until I was 16 or so, I thought that these parties only existed in works of fiction set in the Mid-West. This is because you are either from a selling things family, or you are not. I absolutely am not. This is probably because the ladies in my family are stunted in our abilities to exclaim over retail items. At wedding and baby showers, we are the ones making compliments that are so painfully specific that they sound like insults: “that is the reddest onesie I’ve seen yet today!”; “Look at that, Marguerite! All of the plates from your china pattern are round!”; “You WILL have a baby, Greta, and he will sit upright in this blue foam chair!”.

​I also think that you are supposed to buy the samples upfront if you’re throwing a Selling Things Party. I don’t like spending money without a guarantee of a return, so I’d have to sell things I already own. I do not know a roomful of ladies who would like to buy my old law school textbooks, but if anyone wants to read about the state of international human rights law through 2009, shoot me a line! [Spoiler alert: TREATIES!]. I also worry that I would spend so much on hors d’euvers that I wouldn’t break even, or worse, that other people would eat all of the good ones if I bought too little. These are very real concerns.

​This is not to say that I think I’m better than ladies who throw Selling Things Parties. If anything, they possess a degree of initiative and a collection of appetizer recipes that I admire.[3] An all-American, homespun capitalism is in these peddlers’ blood, like red hair and a surprisingly low white blood cell count are in mine. These gals were probably raised playing in the other room while their mothers and aunts served fondue and sold Tupperware, whereas I was raised making my own snacks and buying things in stores.

​So, if you are invited to a Selling Things Party, don’t fret. You don’t have to buy anything.[4] If you like shopping, socializing, and Buffalo Wing Dip, you might want to give it a try. But don’t expect to throw a successful Selling Things Party yourself if you weren’t raised with it: like landed gentry and psychics, Selling Things Party Ladies are born, not made. Or rather, they are made, but that is because they are carefully formed in their early years, like bonsai trees and Romanian gymnasts.

1. TM: Every Facebook invite to every selling things party, ever. BACK TO POST
2. I wonder if, in the selling things party context, submitting the order form constitutes the offer, and sending the good is acceptance? For a fascinating study of offer and acceptance in the catalog/advertising context, ​ see Leonard v. PepsiCo Inc, 88 F.Supp.2d 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).BACK TO POST
3. Really, these parties are usually okay. My lovely sister-in-law sells Avon, and her relatives throw Selling Things Parties, too. There is always good food, interesting products, and a refreshing lack of retail mark-up. I’m far too lazy and inhospitable to become an Avon lady myself, but I love having a source for really good and cheap cosmetics and gifts! OK, done. BACK TO POST
4. But actually, you do. BACK TO POST