i was skinny for six months.

i was skinny for six months.

this isn’t the post i intended to write, after a three month absence, but it’s the post that’s happened

i say sometimes, “i was skinny for six months. i also wanted to throw myself off of the george washington bridge, so…” and i trail off and mumble something about depression. it’s comfortable because it’s a lie; it’s a lie all around. i’m 5’1″ on a good day and i was a size six, so i wasn’t skinny, i was passably average. and i didn’t consider throwing myself off a bridge, exactly. i did frequently wonder if i could muster up the nerve to step in front of traffic. i sobbed, hard, whenever i tried and failed to explain how and why i wasn’t alright. i made therapy appointments wherein i explained my symptoms, including weight loss, and quickly followed with, “no, i don’t need to gain it back. that’s the one good thing that’s come out of this.” most importantly, i lost my appetite, i easily cut my consumption in half if not more, and i was smaller than i’d ever been. it was a small light shining in a great darkness.

i got out of darkness and i went back to where i’d started and then some, size wise. sometimes, i’ve wished to trade it back. i’ll take the misery, just make it easier to buy clothes. make me not ashamed to exist outside of my four walls. make me not cry every time I’m getting ready to go out for a night and i can’t stand myself. i’ll take it back, just make me smaller.

what i’m getting at, the lede that i suppose i’ve buried, is that it feels like i’m not allowed to talk about it because i never achieved the goal. i read about women who battled eating disorders in high school, college, and my every sympathy is with them. then they say, “and then everything evened out and i’m (insert small size here) now.” 2, 4, 6. then an invisible wall goes up, because even though we came from the same struggle, i am now The Other. i am The Nightmare, i am The Cautionary Tale. i am What Could Have Been, but thank god is not.

i never hear, “i’ve fought this my whole life and my body will not naturally sit at the place you consider normal,” so i’m telling you, that’s what i am. i fought the same battles and because of my damage i don’t know any other way to put it besides that you won and I lost. those who preach, you must realize by now, are their own intended subjects. i don’t know if it is because i fucked up my body well and good when i was younger, i don’t know why i am this way, but i am. this is what i am, this is the shell that houses me.

i make the subtle self deprecating jokes in public settings because it’s safest that way, because i have to make sure everyone knows i don’t think too highly of myself. there’s a lot of intersectionality there between weight and womanhood but i don’t have the energy to dive deeply into it. i’ve learned to do it in the way that doesn’t make everyone think you’re begging for their compliments or asking for contradiction, but in a small enough way that says, “i know my place.” i do this not because i believe in my heart that i should, but because it seems like my responsibility to culture as a whole. if i were a braver woman i’d refuse, and there are days i do, but they’re not often enough.

this is not a topic i can tie up in a neat little bow. it’s deep and complicated and the history is heavy and it is woven through my every single day, and this is just how i feel about it right now. it’s not an easy fight. i suppose nothing is.

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friendships, trust, and what it means to be reliant.

friendships, trust, and what it means to be reliant.

my friend Kate recently wrote a post about her friendships and how she does, or doesn’t, rely on people and what that says about trust and vulnerability. i started to comment, and realized i have my own story to tell.

when i was in my early 20s my life was an unholy mess, most of the time. i relied in my small friend circle for absolutely everything – without them, i would have crumpled right into the ground and never gotten up. i called them, i chatted them, i visited them, i said “help me.” i said it a lot, and they never faltered. they’re almost all gone, now. and those wounds gouged me in huge ways – i’ve written about them before, about a boy in minnesota and a girl who lied and there are other stories that i don’t even know how to tell.

i’ve crawled into a shell since then, since even after then, and it would be easy to say it is because they hurt me. but it’s not just the loss of them that’s formed my habits today. you get more private as you get older, you hold your truths, your secrets, closer to the chest, you narrow down what love and friendship mean. i was once the most raw creature, you could see all of my facts written across everything i said or did. i would lay them bare for you with the slightest provocation. i’m not this, anymore, and it’s not just because i was hurt. the answers are rarely so simple.

i’ve turned over in my mind, a thousand times, the balance between what is normal, what i should be, how i should act, and what is the overprotection of my heart. i don’t know where the bar balances – i don’t know where the middle point is. (i rarely do.)

there was a moment a while back where everything was terrible and the bouncer and i were in a horrific fight and i sat at the computer and stared at my gchat, all of the green and red and orange dots and went through every name and said “there is no one i can talk to. not because they would not listen, but because i will not let myself need them.” it hit me like the proverbial brick wall, and it made everything about the moment worse. i cried harder – the holes are so much more desperate when you’re alone in them.

there’s no neat and tidy answer here. i’m working on it slowly, just like i have been for the past few years. there are crests and valleys, times when friends tell me they miss me and ask me where i’ve gone, times when someone will ask why i’ve been mean and i have to admit it is self defense, times when i feel the glowlight of real connection buzzing right in the middle of my chest. it’s a journey, right?

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notes from a weekend.

outside is lovely, and a key element to sanity. a long walk on the first mild day in memory does your soul wonders. breathe deeply. practically feel the vitamin d synthesizing in your bones. appreciate.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn

it is good to recapture a sense of carefree abandon, to let your constant stresses relax away for a few hours. you’ll feel remarkably lighter. and everything will get done, in due time.

Me - a selfie in the park

drinking wine and playing games with good friends never ever gets old. it’s rejuvenating.

a guest lesson from Kim: do not let the fear of the picture not being original stop you from taking it. you are building proficiency. capture what inspires you.

Subway Tracks, Brooklyn

writing with a pen and paper is inherently different from writing online. you never know what will emerge and escape. you will breathe easier once it comes out.

every night is nicer when you fill your room with candlelight. or even, like in times long past, with the smoke of incense.

Villa Bergamot Candle

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list #3: the best makeup

dudes, you’re going to probably want to show yourself out for this one, and ladies, you can send all thanks in the form of nutella.

slowly, for years now, i’ve been transitioning and building my makeup collection past drugstore brands and into sephora brands. i have not advanced to mac because that store intimidates the life out of me. i will get there. and i’m not at all hating on drugstore makeup – i know there’s lots of rumors that it’s all the same anyway and yadda yadda, but this is one place where marketing really sinks its claws right into my soul. i feel a sense of Put Together Satisfaction when i review my collection and it’s urban decay, tarte, benefit, the balm, etc. i feel Fauncy.

but i’m giving too much away.

i (and everyone else) wanted the urban decay naked 3 palette for christmas – i have the first two already, as both an urban decay AND neutral shadow devotee. and in my research for whether or not i really wanted it, i happened to stumble upon a bunch of other stuff that i wanted. oops/yay!

come january, i ran into some magic money that just kind of fell out of the sky, and after i finished paying off the last of my credit card debt, i had enough left over to pick up a few things that had caught my eye. here i will tell you ALL ABOUT THEM as well as some of my other staple favorites.

Urban Decay - Naked 3 and the Lorac Pro Palette

  • urban decay – naked 2: i will love urban decay shadow for life. some say their quality has declined over the years and they’re less pigmented and so on – i disagree and i think they’re awesome. i owned several of their crazier palettes in my early 20s (emerald green! bright purple! hot pink! glittery black!) and i about died when i heard of the naked palettes. of the 3, the naked 2 is my favorite. 1 and 3 are peachy keen – i’ve just been able to create the most variety of looks with 2, and i think it’s colors work best for my skin. (pictured above, however, is 3. why? cause i felt like it/was tired.)
  • lorac – pro palette: if there is ONE neutral shadow palette you need, it is this one. it keeps you solidly stocked with high quality mattes and shimmers in neutral shades that are flattering to all. i’ve created the perfect nude, everyday eye from this palette, i love the quality of the shadow, and it’s universally highly reviewed online. this was one of my new purchases, and between it and the naked 3 that i did receive for christmas after all, i’m basking in the glory of eyeshadow.

January Makeup

  • NARS eyeshadow base: i asked around on twitter for recommendations, because UD’s primer potion wasn’t cutting it and i think my eyelids secretly run a pizza joint or something because they are amazingly greasy. i’d be impressed with myself if it didn’t render my carefully applied eye makeup useless by 11 am every day. twitter recommended this NARS base and i’ve been extremely pleased.
  • the balm – stainiac: i think every single person got a small sample of this in their birchbox once upon a time. i dig the balm as a rule and i love the simplicity of this product – it’s a lip stain or a cheek stain in a pretty flattering color. nothing crazy, just a nice berry tint. i love it for throwing in my purse when i know i’ve got to freshen up before going out after work  – it’s quick, easy, and convenient. it IS a little drying, so i generally use one of my (seventy) lip balm things over it.
  • benefit – boiing: i have some truly impressive undereye circles. i mean, i have marvelled at myself in the mirror when it really seems, some mornings, as though i had the sickest bar fight ever the night before. boiing is an industrial strength concealer and has done the job for me for YEARS.
  • benefit – they’re real: let me tell you the story of my eyelashes. they are stick straight and uber short. was that a boring story? yes. and that is how boring my eyes usually look unless i do some serious eyelash curling and mascara magic. this mascara does that magic, precisely.
  • julep – kajal eyeliner: i’ve been pretty impressed with the quality of julep’s makeup products, despite that they’re primarily a nail polish company, but this one kind of blew everything else out of the water. goes on smooth, double ended with brown and black.

tell me – what can you not live without in your makeup bag? (i.e., what do i get to covet until my birthday in september?)

 

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hitting pause.

note: this was written back in the fall, in the middle of me taking a week-long break from social media. it’s something i’m considering making a quarterly habit. 

so i took a break from social media. here’s why, and what i learned.

the why: it wasn’t fun anymore. it’s compulsive, it’s habitual, and it’s contributing to my brain feeling pulled in eight directions at all times. and it sounds bizarre, but when shit gets tangled in my life, i numb out via the internet and with twitter and facebook there’s always more. every second. and i think it became unhealthy, the way i just tune out to a screen when i can’t deal with my world or my head. and when i’m in that place, i don’t really see anyone or anything in a positive light even things that are perfectly innocuous. all in all, not good. i went into this wanting to quiet my lizard brain and see if it changed the way i feel overall.

some results:

a) i’m more productive. who’s surprised? without the constant distraction or siren call of the twitter, i do the shit i need to get done.

b) i’m calmer. without comparing my life constantly to what everyone else is doing and how that makes me feel, i process my own feelings much better.

c) it’s surprisingly not that hard. i removed my personal streams from hootsuite, i made a secondary Facebook to manage my work stuff, i removed the apps from my phone screens. i miss knowing what friends are doing or saying, but i’m in touch with those that matter most anyway via other channels.

d) i’m better at communicating with friends. i have the time and mental space to send an email or text, so i do.

e) i’m more present. i, in general, have a difficult time feeling integrated with the physical world around me. i spend a lot of time in my head and i usually feel kind of separated from, well, pretty much everything. while that hasn’t changed, this has forced me to confront that, as i don’t have the veil to hide behind.

f) i’m reading! and writing! i have more time, it feels like. i’m probably saving a few hours every day and i’m doing other things with that time, and that feels good.

i know some of you have also taken breaks from the internet – tell me what you learned.

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list #2: 2013 via instagram.

i’m getting really into the role of images and photos in my world – i’ve been exploring a lot of local/popular tags on instagram and i talked in a post last week about my newfound adoration of tumblr. scrolling through my instagram feed, i found myself remembering some of the finer moments of last year. i’m pretty terrible at year in review things that happen in december, but clearly i’m quite good when they happen in late january. so here are 12 good moments that happened last year, conveniently separated into months.

2013 in review

 

(we’re starting at the top left and going across the rows)

january: rang in the new year with wafels and dinges (one of my very favorite food trucks), watching fireworks in prospect park.

february: i went to harry potter world with the bouncer, tiff, and her husband nick. we also went on a five day cruise, but i chose the hp world photo because i can’t remember the last time i was so full of unadulterated joy. please see evidence via my tears when the bouncer surprised me with a wand and robe. this photo is from the legit three broomsticks cafe.

march: nothing truly momentuous happened, but i did take this photo while we were out for the bouncer’s birthday celebration and i love the way it came out.

april: by this point, i’d begun taking on freelance clients and decided to legitimize myself via business cards from zazzle. i’m incredibly proud of the strides i made professionally last year, the skills i taught myself and honed, and the extra money i was able to pull in.

may: bloggers in sin city, obviously. there was no one photo i could choose that had people in it, so to save myself that agonizing decision, i went with this one of the hanging lanterns in the wynn (or maybe the encore, they’re connected and i’m never sure which is which).

june: i took an amazing trip down to dc to celebrate lauren’s birthday, and berto was kind enough to host me in his home and show me the city. it was an injection of joy and friendship and laughter and pure amazing. this photo is after the road trip from philly with raoul and ed, when we magically ran into tom in the hotel.

july: we took a trip down to coney island with paula and jr. second summer i’ve had a coney island trip and now it’s going to be a tradition.

august: and then we had a picnic in central park with paula and jr. please note, one of the photos i could’ve chosen from june was a trip to atlantic city with paula and jr so in short, we became pretty good friends with paula and jr this year.

september: i went away for the weekend for the actress’ birthday, and she got a hold of a beautiful mountain house in pennsylvania. after spending the night, we went on a hike at glen onoko falls. and then i fell in love with nature. IT IS SO COOL YOU GUYS. (have i mentioned i am often very late to the party?) (also note, if you follow that link, i am really desperate to see these falls during the winter. that ice looks truly incredible.)

october: the bouncer and i ran away to the mountains, mostly because i was excited to do more hiking. we stayed in the most precious little cabin and had an amazing, recharging getaway. we’re hoping to make it an annual tradition.

november: i joined my local CSA for the fall/winter share. i’ve gotten incredible farm fresh vegetables all winter, i’ve made an abundance of delicious soups, and i got to know my community a little better. next, we’ll be doing the summer fruit and veggie share and possibly also a meat share from the same farm.

december: you’d think i’d post something christmasy, but no. i didn’t go crazy on the christmas instagrams this year. this photo is from the union square holiday market, which i was dashing through with a friend from work after visiting julep’s popup shop here in new york.

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7 Ways to Be More Frugal

7 Ways to Be More Frugal

i never realized that i was very good at saving money, because in my adult life it’s usually been necessary. being frugal feels normal, for me.

here’s a fact: i was financially independent starting at 17 and i put myself through college. i began living off campus and paying rent starting at 19, at dee’s house. a large portion of my tuition was covered by scholarships, but a good chunk of it wasn’t and in order to stay in school, i had to come up with $10Kish every year, in addition to living expenses. i never thought about it as a whole picture at the time – it was more a constant series of “i need $500 for this month’s rent”, “i need $300 for books”, “i need to put gas in my car”. so, i went about making the money i needed to, and cutting costs where i could. i developed some habits, and they’ve stuck with me over the years.

here are some of the things i do to save dollars:

1) i cut my own hair. i’m kind of lucky on this one, because i have curly hair and mistakes are easily forgiven. but fear not – there are a plethora of youtube tutorials on how to do this yourself, with good results. i think the last time i had a salon cut was three years ago – they’re insanely expensive in nyc, and i don’t miss them. also fancy environments make me feel weird and anxious, so i’m totally fine sticking to my bathroom. pro tip though: do order a pair of actual haircutting scissors. they’re not expensive and they do make a difference (spoken from experience).

2) i’m not fancy: i have bags from payless and clothes from target and old navy. i let myself buy things only when i actually need them – as in, when they are replacing something else that has worn out, or when i’ve noticed an emerging need over time (such as, “wow, self, it’s 60 degrees every day and you have tank tops. maybe it’s time for sweaters”). most of the time, i just tell myself no, and delete the email/click away from the tab that’s enticing me with something out of my price range. i refuse to put clothes on credit cards, and force myself to stick to the money i actually have. i’m an abstainer, not a moderator, so this works really well for me.

3) i cook: i know, some of you are totally averse to this, and I GET IT. there have been weeks on end where i relied on frozen pot pies and pizza delivery because LIFE. i know. that said, if you can make time for it (and you can), you’ll save a very huge amount of restaurant/delivery money. and start basic! roast a chicken (it’s actually really easy – here’s a great starter recipe), do rice+beans+veggies, or omelettes, or a simple pasta. you don’t need to martha stewart it out here. save that shit for the weekend. take one hour on a sunday and chop a bunch of veggies, and some lettuce for salads – most of that will keep in the fridge for the week, and you’ll save time when you’re tired after a workday.

4) i plan: so when you get to cooking level 2, you can do things like note when meat is on sale and dedicate a large portion of your grocery budget to it. then you have a lot of chicken (or beef, or whatever). you’ll get to the point where you always have something in the freezer, and you got it on sale because you are SMART. also in the food realm – plan ahead for your meals. even, like, two of them. this is where the sunday prep time comes in super handy. real life example – tonight, i made this butternut squash soup (and it’s pretty great, so i’ll recommend it). last night, i was lacking some of the ingredients, but i did have the squash and the sweet potatoes and the onions so i chopped them up and saved them in the fridge. once i picked up the stock and apple i needed tonight, throwing everything together was SO easy.

5) i use things until they’re done: look, I KNOW THIS SOUNDS INSANE, and you’re free to laugh at me in the comments. the comments are there for you, but this is for me, so here’s my freak flag. you know white stick deodorant? you know how when you’re done using it, there’s a little plastic grid left, with deodorant stuck in it’s squares? yes. i poke out the deodorant, put it in a plastic snack bag, and apply it with my fingers for as long as it lasts, which is usually another two weeks. something less insane: i try to apply this philosophy to as many consumable items as i can. and this goes perfectly with the next item…

6) i fix things: i have an ikea dresser that’s at least seven years old. it’s a lovely dresser and it’s in excellent cosmetic condition. except that thing happened where all the drawer bottoms started sagging. so i googled how to fix it (hint: it involves strong glue) and i fixed it, one drawer at a time, for a week. i have a cheap full length mirror. the mirror started to detach from the frame on the back. duct tape, guys. duct tape. it leans against the wall – the back doesn’t need to be pretty, and the mirror still works just fine. most of the things you own are reparable, with a little research and time. did you know you can fix a cracked eyeshadow or blush? do you know how to sew a basic tear on a clothing item, or replace a button? it’s totally worth learning.

7) i research: do yourself a favor right now and sign up for ebates and fatwallet. they are not scams – when you visit certain retailers through either of those sites and make a purchase, you will get a small percentage of cash back. is it huge? nope, not at all, but it’s something. ebates even has a chrome extension which will LIGHT UP when cash back is available. don’t ever make an online purchase without checking retailmenot. i actually don’t use these (YET!), but there are services that will track amazon items for you and let you know when the prices dip. camelcamelcamel is one, but there are others. also, just google the stuff you want and see if you find better prices somewhere else – i just saved $60 on a pair of awesome boots because i used google’s shopping search. i ended up buying them from a site called rogansshoes.com, but what do i care? spend five minutes with google, and your checking account will thank you.

8) i wait: this is a biggie. most of the time, when i want something that’s non-trivial, i wait a while to get it. either to make sure i really need it, or to make sure it’s worth the expense. sometimes this lands me in a spot where i feel sort of like a hobo (such as earlier this winter when none of my boots kept my feet dry), but hey, i’ve made sure that i’ve gotten as much use as i can out of a product. i wait until things i want go on sale. my advice is this – pick a dollar amount – let’s say it’s $30. the next time you want something that’s over $30, make yourself wait a week. do you still need or want it? how strong is that want? if it’s not quite strong enough, wait another week. usually you can wait out your own desires, or at least save them until your birthday or another gift-giving holiday.

how do you find ways to save some dollars here and there?

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