A Day of Me


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:


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


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.


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


Like so.



DSC07518 (1)

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.


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.



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


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


I also thought this was artsy.


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.


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.


He’s a keeper, ladies and gents.


No. 7



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?



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.


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


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


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.


Til now. Check out dat black ramen.


He gets white ramen. We are an inclusive couple.


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.


Then we picked up the pupper and went home.

Exclamation Pointz

New rule. When discussing age post-25, an exclamation point is required in all uses. It symbolizes wisdom, maturity, old age and the acknowledgement of my mortality. Of course, I’m typing this from my comfortable sitting spot on my bed, the bed I recently migrated to after spending 12 hours on another comfortable sitting spot on the couch.

Hello, super late 20s, when recovery from any activity that demands physical exertion and the consumption of questionable beverages now requires at least one full day of doing just that.

Uck. Uck. Uck. Is how I’m feeling at this very moment.

Which almost didn’t happen, actually. As 28! approached, I decided I’d do nothing for it. I’d been going through some kind of funk for several months (Normal quarterlife crisis fare, like what am I doing? Who am I? Is this real life? Who moved my cheeseball?), and felt like 28! should come and go quietly. I was ready for it. After all, 27! was spectacular, which meant 28! couldn’t possibly top it.

Phil would get here, I decided, and we’d do something quiet, like a quiet dinner and quiet drinks. Because that’s what responsible, mature, mortal 28! year-olds do.

But then I had a sobering thought. What if this was my last birthday on Earth, and I’d always know I’d spent it feeling bad about myself?

Not cool, friends. Not cool.

So, I bought a new dress (something that said I’m 28! Hear me ROWR!), rounded up a few friends and sent this.

Note: Off-the-clock, Real Life Karen sometimes writes without capitalizing stuff that normally should be capitalized, and adds Zs to things that should be singular. Relaxed Karen is CRAZY!

Also, names have been changed to protect everyone’s identities.

slothful saturday![1]

hey friends!

i’m super excited to be celebrating my birthdayz with you guys tomorrow. here’s what we’re gon’ do.

9 p.m. dinner at macondo

drinks & dancing & all-around tomfoolery at von

let me know if this works by replying to all one neat fact about yourself. i will start.

when i was little, i had an imaginary friend named maren who teleported between my world and hers with a flush of the toilet. to this day, she remains one of the coolest people i’ve ever met.

your turn.

I’m deathly afraid of clowns, and even more scared of dolls. The concoction of a clowndoll, I believe, is the recipe of the devil.

Which makes “Poltergeist” the scariest movie ever (haunted clowndoll hiding under the bed)…. and “Zombieland” one of my favorites (zombie clown is pretty fuckin serious as well).

–Qwerto B.

Yesterday, I was in the bathroom at my new job and I noticed the toilet paper was running low. So, I changed to a spiffy fresh new roll. During the exchange, the silver holder in the middle broke in two, leaving me completely hopeless. Thinking quickly, I slid the new TP onto the spring that was inside the holder (the only piece left) and promptly left the bathroom.

Next thing I know, people are getting blamed left and right! Who did it?! Must have been Eldra the cleaning lady! She’s so old now, jeez. Then wait! It was the doorman! He must have come in here to use the bathroom and broke it.

Then came lots of frustrated bathroom-goers muttering, “This is bizarre,” “So crazy,” “Weird,” all while I sat back with my feet up giggling ever so softly at this major catastrophe I’d created.


Growing up (elementary school age), I thought my older sister was the coolest. If she bought the La Bouche “Be My Lover” single, I had to buy the La Bouche “Be My Lover” single… even though we lived in the same house. Basically anything she liked or did, I wanted to follow.

So at one point, she decided she wanted to get a perm. And so by the rules of coolness, I had to get a perm. She told me I’d look just like Joey McIntyre. I don’t know if she was messing with me or what, but since my sister was cool and NKOTB was cool at the time, I thought it’d be a sure thing.

Long story short, I spent a good few months rocking a perm. It was the coolest few months of my life.


i have an obsessive compulsive affinity for clean smells.

fresh laundry, shampoo, lotion… i have to sniff it all. as i’m throwing on a clean shirt, sniff. when pulling out a new towel, ahh yess, i sniff. shampoo in my palm? sniff!

I LOVE IT! and i will love you more if you smell clean, too. that’s really why we’re all friends.


Ok, so when I was 9 years old and my sister was 5, we spent the night at our two friends’ place, which was also in our same apartment complex. Dotty and David. Those were their names and they were brother and sister. (I amaze myself sometimes with this random memory of mine.) Anyway. Along with us, there were at least seven other kids that spent the night, too. It was a big slumber party; now that I think about it, I’m surprised my parents even allowed this.

The very next morning, we all went outside to play kickball. The night before it had rained, so it was wet and muggy out. One of them kicked the ball too hard, and it went rolling across the street, so we went after it. We couldn’t reach it in time before it went tumbling down into a sewer ditch — one that ran along behind the houses in the neighborhood. The stream of water carried the ball farther down the ditch, and we were determined to go get it.

I remember we all looked at each other to see who would volunteer to go down and get it. Not a peep. Then, my little sister shouts, “I’ll go get it guys!” Me, being the retarded older sister I was, says “ok” and helped her down. (holy lord, what was I thinking?)

As soon as she reached the bottom of the ditch, the current of the stream started to carry her along with it. We started screaming for her to get up but every time she tried to stand up, she slipped and fell because the bottom of the surface was covered with algae and the current was too strong. So there she went, floating away and crying.

One by one, we each went down in an attempt to save her, and of course each time was no different. Next thing you know there was a stream of 11 kids being carried away with the current, and the only thing we could do was yell for help. We floated for a while, at least four or five good blocks until we reached an overpass, where we were greeted and fetched out one by one by the fire department. To accompany them was an ambulance. Thank goodness no one got seriously injured, except one girl did have a cut on her foot.

And thank goodness we were spending the night at our friends’ house because you know Dotty and David’s momma made sure no one’s parents knew what took place that morning since she wasn’t being a very good babysitter!



As you can see, everyone else’s stories pretty much clog-danced all over mine.

And instead of listening to “Dashboard Confessional” in the dark with a tub of ice cream (and buffalo wings and a jar of pickles — don’t judge me), I spent my Saturday night with great company.

28!, I think you and I are going to be just fine.

[1] A reference to an email Phyla sent about this being us on Saturday and this on Sunday. Which is pretty much what happened.