A Day of Me

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You know how some people love celebrating their birthdays by doing all the things they like planned by, well, themselves?

What a horrible concept.

Not because of the whole narcissistic aspect of it. Nope, that part’s great. After all, it’s one of the few times in your life you can totally get away with getting your way (other than maybe graduation and your wedding day—if you’re the bride, that is) while everyone else has to bite their tongues about your narcissism.

What makes it horrible is that you’re the one doing all the planning and the researching and the inviting and the logistic-ing, which, if you’re like me, is a whole lot of time spent doing all the things you really hate versus doing all the things you really love. Like, napping.

Which is why I outsource all of that stuff to Franco.

Every year we plan each other’s birthdays based on a broad spectrum of things we enjoy (Him: I like steak!), while the other goes through all the trouble of making it happen (Me: Dear Google, steak NYC where yum yum?).

This year, Franco’s query for me involved:

Maybe West Village
Maybe books
Probably outside
Drinks of some kind
Coffee question mark
With food

Go, Franco, go!

And that, my friends, yielded some awesome results.

Without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things, in no particular order, except chronological:

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No. 1
The pupper in a bag. (Oh yeah, we got a pup. I’ll tell you all about him later.)

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We dropped the pupper off at my brother’s place in Manhattan (Oh yeah, my bro moved to NYC. Man, you’ve missed a lot.) to ease the separation anxiety—ours.

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No. 2
Franco letting his majestic hair down, if only for a few seconds.

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Like so.

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No. 3
Eating somewhere chill and delicious and cute. Franco chose The Spaniard because I love Spain despite the whole them colonizing my homeland thing. It is a part of us. And I’m an ignorant stupid American now. Also, there were bacon slabs, guys. BACON. SLABS.

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No. 4
A bookstore. This one’s one of my faves. Though I rarely set foot in it, it’s a piece of OG NYC and I like knowing it’s there. It’s the kind of spot where the neighborhood people stop by and talk shop, er, books, and the people who work there recommend books sans pretension. One recently arrived New Yorker asked for books about New York because he “wanted to fall in love with New York by book… I guess,” and ended up with a pile at least five books high, as each staffer had their own very special rec.

 

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Here’s a book on the dumpster outside the bookstore.

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Here’s Franco by a barbershop because I thought it would be funny if Franco sent this pic to his mom. Y/N?

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I also thought this was artsy.

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No. 5
Ice cream. This thing was actually faux ice cream and basically flavored ice shavings. I’m probably sounding really old right now but what even is this thing? I ate it anyway. It was good.

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No. 6
A visit to the Tenement Museum. Yes, I really did throw this museum out as a suggestion, faux half-joking, and Franco wisely concluded I was very serious about it and signed us up for the Hard Times tour. In case you’ve never been to this museum, it’s a look at how people in NYC lived in teeny tiny apartments amid bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment. It’s also called The Totally Present Day museum.

***

Lady on the PA: It’s time to line up for the 4 p.m. Meet Victoria tour and the 4 p.m. Hard Times tour.

ME: I sure hope Franco booked the Hard Times tour.

Franco: Here’s our ticket for the Hard Times tour, milady.

ME: YEEESSSSSSSS.

He’s a keeper, ladies and gents.

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No. 7
Butts.

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Whenever I see stuff like this, I think it’s cool then wonder if it’s some kind of guerrilla marketing. Maybe for a guac shop? A smoothie joint? A pop-up investment bank?

 

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No. 8
Coffee. It was hot AF and we needed to kill time before dinner. I’d also like to add that Franco is very photogenic, so most of my pics are of him. He tried taking pics of me but the camera burst into flames.

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Now THIS is definitely marketing of some kind. Check out dat hashtag. Is it for a shoe? A university? The moon?

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Nearby was this anti-AirBnB ad. This neighborhood is clearly going through some shit.

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No. 9
RAMEN. Who eats really hot ramen on a really hot day? Me! Me! I do! Franco and I stumbled upon this place one drunk night, and I hadn’t been back since.

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Til now. Check out dat black ramen.

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He gets white ramen. We are an inclusive couple.

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No. 10
Dirty martinis. I enjoy going to ridiculously fancy places like The Grill while severely underdressed because it confuses the staff.

Them: Who are these 12-year-olds and why are they at the bar? Is this a trick?
Me, raising my martini glass to my lips, pinkie extended: MUWAHAHAHAA.

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Then we picked up the pupper and went home.

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Everything Is Terrible

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If you’ve been reading my ramblings since my LJ days or we’re friends IRL, you’d know my background is in journalism—not in the “I studied it in undergrad then went into marketing” kind of way but in the “I studied it in undergrad, became editor of the school paper, interned at a bunch of small daily newspapers in small Virginia towns until one hired me when I graduated, got laid off in the recession, moved to New York City jobless until an international trade publication hired me to write about mostly US intellectual property law, felt stifled by the lack of post-non-IP-law options that didn’t involve writing five 300-word articles a day, or writing listicles, or moving back to a small town to be the only person not of a certain hue in a five-state radius, went back to school to study the dark side, THEN went into marketing” kind of way.

It’s a special kind of crazy. Not only can I read a sensational article and know it’s sensational; or question the veracity of an article (and be totally excited by the opportunity to use “veracity” in a sentence); or know the difference between a well-informed opinion piece, an investigative piece, a shit blog post, and a tweet by a troll (even when that troll runs for president); I can also say that my first instinct when some weird shit is going down is to go check it out and take pictures.

Because what’s the point of weird shit going down if you can’t tell people about it?

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Journalism, of course, has been getting a lot of crap from His Royal Cheeto (also known as: The Dictatingest Orangey Dictator, He Who Can’t Read Or Speak Good, and Damn He Racist). But to be honest, journalists didn’t really help themselves leading up to what is now what I call the Everything Is Terrible era.

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First, there was the sense of complacency during the Obama era, as if all was well and good because we elected a black president (go us, amiright?). Second, fluffery was so encouraged that listicles became a thing and even reputable newspapers started running blog posts masquerading as articles that often made me want to yell on a crowded train: “Et tu, WaPo?” Third—and this is a big third—journalists willfully ignored the basics, all for the sake of amassing clicks for His Royal Cheeto’s latest fuckery.

Like how you’re not supposed to broadcast some crazy comment some famous person said without context (A headline that says “‘Everyone’s an alien,’ says His Royal Cheeto” is different from one that says “‘Fringe presidential candidate His Royal Cheeto says everyone’s an alien, which is clearly not true and WTF why are we covering what this dumbass says anyway oh right because we’re like totally getting all the clicks, bye integrity, bye soul that I’ve discarded in the recycling bin a while back but yay recycling”).

That said, there are a few not so terrible things in the Everything Is Terrible era:

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It’s forcing journalists to get their shit together—I’m looking at you, WaPo, NYT and a Bernsteiny (he of Watergate creds) CNN.

People are starting to pay attention to what makes this country run.

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So much so that courts even trend on Twitter sometimes.

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And bills don’t go on the chopping block without someone somewhere raising a big stink about it.

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Even better, people are getting off their asses to raise a big stink (I’m talking about they of the non tiki torch-wielding, white-hooded variety, of course. Those folks can stay on their asses, thank you very much).

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Which, for our typically complacent selves, is a big deal. After all, it’s much harder to ignore actual masses of people on the street than it is to ignore viral RTs. IRL protests do what tweets can’t, just as a tweet thread can articulate what a quippy line on a poster can’t.

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Together, they empower those in power who still have a soul to get their shit together.

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Which is why public opinion is the most powerful thing there is. Without it, journalism just doesn’t matter.

Ultimately, it’s the public who can force politicians to pivot, companies to delete ill-timed tweets, a show runner to write unrealistic happy endings for their characters (I’m looking at you, PLL), and for Taylor Swift to finally release a song.

It can even topple shitty leaders.

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So,

if I had to sum this post up in one tweet:

Let’s keep on keeping on.

Fist emoji.

The Days So Far

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Been going through the archives and decided to share a few pictures from the last couple of months. No cohesive theme here. Just random moments.

I’ve been capturing things a bit differently now that Instagram has become my default channel. But this is still my favorite space for posting pictures.

It’s a lot quieter.

Which means, fewer people see what I post.

Which means, I feel more free.

Which means, this is really how I take pictures.

Funny how that works.

Let’s do dis.

IMG_6409 (1)Quite proud of this rug and its dust bunny friends.

IMG_6463One night Franco and I watched these guys change this sign to an identical, much cleaner sign. We were on our way to a distant bar in Brooklyn late one night to pick up the credit card I’d left behind a few days before (yes, I’m an adult). It was an hourlong slog. When we got there, the place was closed.

IMG_6476Whenever possible.

IMG_6541My super glamorous studio. See that mic stand over there? Swivels 360 degrees to and from your mouth. Patent pending.

IMG_6584A friend and I stumbled upon this cute little park right after this asinine dialogue courtesy of me:

Friend: What’s this?
Me: Ugh. Probably one of those rich-people parks you need a key to get into.
Nice old lady holding open the gate on her way out: Come right in, you cynical asshole.

Then we got chased by a chicken. It was glorious.

IMG_6609One day I dug up my cheapo watercoloring set that I’d bought about seven years ago and completely failed at but still lugged around through my many, many moves. I learned that when you’re bad at colors and coloring, you can get away with picking and choosing what to color.

IMG_6614Office permapup. Fully grown and pocket-sized. Want.

IMG_6699This is how Franco watches sports. You might think it’s really awkward to have a big ol’ window with no curtains. You would be right. But… we’re too lazy to ask the landlord if we can drill holes, so fish tank living room featuring a singing-dancing duo it is. You’re welcome, neighbors.

IMG_6762One of the first nice days of the year we decided to hang at Central Park at the last minute. That blanket is actually a plastic tablecloth from the dollar store.

IMG_6773A book about the joys of spinsterhood. Franco gets nervous whenever I read it around him.

IMG_6781Times Square After Midnight, one of my fave places in the city.

IMG_6785Another creep session. These guys had a synchronized routine. They marched to a spot, lifted some things, hammered some other things, and did it all over again.

IMG_6825Pretending to read the Times, but really we’re about to watch “Gossip Girl” while lunching.

IMG_6827One of those perfect days in the neighborhood.

IMG_6932Best wings in the biz and nicest people ever.

And with that,
~20 pics down, thousands more to go.
Until next time, friends.

New Year’s Eve, Party of Two

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I’ve had my share of extravagant New Year’s Eves.

But this year was the craziest one yet.

There was booze and wild dance moves and fisticuffs and A ROUSING GAME OF SCRABBLE.

OK fine.

Franco and I stayed in because we’re old and that’s what old people do.

And you know what? It was awesome.

All you Olds out there know what I’m talkin’ about. As for you Youths, stay wild. Wear warm undies.

IMG_0877Franco wanted to try out the new cocktail toolset his brother and sister-in-law got us for Christmas. We got the table ready for some serious mixing.

IMG_0886Our go-tos:

IMG_0887IMG_0890IMG_0894IMG_0895IMG_0898IMG_0900IMG_0902IMG_0910Dirrrrrrty martinis!

IMG_0917IMG_0918IMG_0919IMG_0923IMG_0932And Manhattans.
Dental toothpicks included.

IMG_0945For dinner, we made another go-to:

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FANCY PASTA FROM A BOX!

IMG_0960IMG_0967IMG_0970IMG_0976IMG_0979With sauce fresh from the jar straight to our mouths.

IMG_0982Let’s get the party started, shall we?
By the way, why yes that’s an airbed in our living room. We had guests a couple weeks back and kind of just never put it away. Because, AMAZING.

IMG_0987Cracked open the Scrabble set also gifted by Franco’s brother and sister-and-law. It’s like they know us really well or something.

IMG_0995Though we’d played with Scrabble sets as kids, we’d never played a real game before. Shocker, I know.

IMG_1006Modeling our new toy, totally aware of just how fucking cutthroat we, er, I would soon become.

IMG_1013With tunes from the record player I got Franco for Christmas. My dad, by the way, was in awe of this thing. When Franco unwrapped it on Christmas, my dad went from shock (“They still make those?”) to skepticism (“That won’t work!”) to straight up kneeling on the floor to take out the manual from the box before Franco could even get to it. His verdict? “Sounds better than the one I had.”

IMG_1020Round Two.

IMG_1022IMG_1030Don’t let this calm scene fool you. At one point we had to stop the game after I lost my shit when Franco used the tiles I was gunning for. He said something about “You’re too competitive why can’t we just play a fun game of Scrabble wah wah wah.” Rude.

IMG_1034IMG_1046Times Square countdown times.

IMG_1051HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Franco ended up winning 299 to 247.
Then he won 267 to 237.
After we both studied some two-letter words he again won 312 to 280.
Yes, we’re obsessed. And yes, I’m pissed. One day I’ll prevail.

IMG_1053IMG_1058Lauryn Hill sounds great as ever on vinyl. The only lame part is this version doesn’t have the hidden tracks. I mean, that was only like 90% of why we got it but whatever. Still good.

IMG_1061IMG_1062Texting loved ones is soooo hard.

IMG_1066The aftermath.

Angela Chase Is My Homie

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I’m always in my head.

Whenever something big happens, I imagine Future Me reflecting on that very moment years later in full-on Angela Chase mode, narrating every furrow of the brow, out loud and angst-filled—all while I’m living it.

That’s what happens when you grow up on The Wonder Years. And Blossom. And Clarissa Explains It All. And, the great overthinker’s bible, My So-Called Life.

It also does a couple things to a young person’s underdeveloped brain:

One, you decide talking to yourself, out loud and often, is acceptable.

Two, overanalyzing becomes your default way of thinking.

And three, you kind of miss out on some things.

You preoccupy yourself with trying to figure out what everything means before it even has a chance to become anything.

You even set some ground rules.

Big moments, you decide, come with symbolic tchotchke like streamers and cake to let oblivious you know that THIS IS A BIG DEAL, IDIOT, PAY ATTENTION.

Little moments, meanwhile, have an easier time slipping by unnoticed.

In most cases, it’s fine. I mean, they’re usually boring and lame and why waste brain space on what kind of pants your neighbor was wearing this morning unless he was wearing, like, MC Hammer pants, because, AMAZING.

What complicates things is when big moments disguise themselves as little moments, only to reveal their true selves long after they’ve passed.

I’ve tried to remedy this by always carrying a camera or a notebook and pen. It helps me relive everything, over and over, the good and the bad, with the benefit of hindsight that I use to craft neat narratives in order to make me sound much wiser and well-adjusted than I actually am.

Those otherwise inconsequential MC Hammer pants? Now they’re a symbol of my lost youth and spontaneity and inability to say, “Fuck You, slacks. I’m wearing MC Hammer pants to work today.”

But just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a transition rears its ugly head.

Neither big nor small, transitions are merely preludes to either.

Nowhere are transitions more apparent than in New York, where your favorite noodle joints, jobs, and friendships dissipate overnight, sometimes without saying bye. The city conditions us not only to accept it all with a stiff upper lip but also to expect them.

It’s why when the rare transition that you recognize as a transition passes by, in its really fucking beautiful kind of way,

you go outside

and take a picture.

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