You Are the Company You Keep

Voluntary conformity disturbs me because our brains are unique for a reason, but I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard people try to assert their individuality, we can’t help but morph into Power Rangers the people with whom we surround ourselves. That’s why I’ve been trying to get in touch with Emma Stone, Candice Swanepoel, and Oprah. #callme

One of my best friends growing up was my beautiful partner-in-crime named Kira. Kira is three years older than me, so I loved riding her coattails of coolness in order to be accepted by the older athletic and well-dressed crowd, which worked about 40% of the time. No shame in my game. By the end of her senior year of high school (my freshman year), we were so inseparable that one or two people actually said we looked alike. Here is a picture of Kira and me circa early-mid 2000s:

kira

I don’t know about you, but I can barely tell us apart.

The power of spending so much time with someone that your appearance and mannerisms become identical while you finish each other’s sandwiches sentences is almost alarming. (If you didn’t get the Frozen reference, stop reading this and go fix yourself.) In the last 48 hours, my coworker Meghan and I have been mistaken for twins 2,834 times. Probably because between work and play, I see her more than anyone else in my daily life. Here we are with our favorite dog named Petunia (Petunia’s face always looks like that):

meghan office

Definitely a closer match than Kira, but still. She has the youthful glow of a 22-year-old that I lost two relationships and 100 bottles of wine ago.

I use these two friendships as examples because beyond looks, Kira and Meghan are both inherently very different from me. Kira is super laid back with a natural leadership gene that she kind of wishes she didn’t possess, but people follow anyway. I want to be as chill and influential as she is, but if we’re being honest, I’m slightly socially defective and the kind of person who has to have other people present my ideas for them to be taken seriously. Then there’s Meghan, who is a free spirit/businesswoman hybrid who knows the secretly-trendy places to eat, clothes to wear, and music to listen to, but she’ll hate me for saying that because it sounds too pretentious, which she’s not. And I’m over here wearing a sweater from Target, eating Chipotle, and listening to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, only vaguely aware of my dull choices. I think I have underdeveloped senses.

I promise I’m getting to my point. Be patient.

Despite original differences, we grow into the people around us because Homo sapiens are naturally social and impressionable creatures. It’s just the way we’re made. We have to be cognizant enough of this fact to not get swept up in groupthink or lose the ability to distinguish our preferences from those of others, but also to make the best of our chameleon ways. Put some thought into who you’d be proud to be mistaken for, because those are the folks you should probably invite to Happy Hour.

I’m pleased to say that the crew I hang out with, though scattered and not necessarily interwoven, is comprised of individuals who have steady jobs, don’t do drugs, and can hold conversations about the complexities of life. Of course we are all noticeably different to an extent (there’s usually only one Kira/Meghan in your life at a time), but ultimately, we’re cut from similar fabric. I love meeting people from different backgrounds who are drawn to varying lifestyles and interests because they challenge my world and keep me from becoming mentally stagnant, but by this point in my life, I know what kind of person I want to be and the lifestyle I like to maintain. Therefore, I put greater effort into relationships that nurture those choices.

Some may think that being actively conscious of who you spend time with is judgmental or close-minded, but I believe that only becomes the case when you treat others poorly or don’t take the time to discover possible commonalities with everyone you meet. The fabric of your soul has nothing to do with fabric on your back. When I say that I am careful to surround myself with the “right” kind of people, I just mean that I don’t want to get pulled into gossipy, shallow, argumentative, haughty, or legally rebellious crowds. I connect with people due to complimentary thought processes, not appearances, so they can wear whatever the heck they want. Besides assless chaps.

As you grow through life- and growing never stops- keep in mind that no matter how strongly you’ve defined your morals, ethics, and demeanor, others can and will influence those ideals. We will never lose the tendency to slowly, unknowingly mold into reflections of our networks, so step back and evaluate the company you keep. If you don’t like what you see, it’s probably time to wipe off the mirror, too, and make a few adjustments.

 

taylor and karlie

I leave you with BFFs Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss as scientific evidence.

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Never/Always: Winter Edition

When people say they don’t like warm weather, I usually disassociate myself. They probably don’t like furry animals or hugs or laughing either. But this morning, as I was held hostage in my home by snow, sending work emails and creating travel vouchers from the warmth of my bed, I began thinking that the angry winter gnomes out there might have a point. I will never turn my back on my #1 season- summer, duh- but consider this Never/Always list an internal battle with a pre-determined winner.

11 Reasons I NEVER Want it to be Winter

11 Reasons I ALWAYS Want it to be Winter

Despite the “Always” portion of this post, I still love furry animals and hugs and laughing, just FYI. Also, to my boss- if you’re reading, I wrote this on my lunch break.

NEVER:

1. Cold hurts. Warmth can be a little sticky, but it’s not like the cold, which feels like someone slapping your face and sitting on your heart at the same time.

2. Fashion is irrelevant. No matter how cute your high-waisted leather skirt and long sleeve Nasty Gal crop look together, you’re going to throw a coat on and cover the whole outfit anyway. Might as well wear mom jeans and a bubble shirt.

3. Waking up is hard(er). Because taking off the blankets feels like some sort of torture they might use on prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. (Too much?)

4. Dry skin. I spend so much money on lotion and ChapStick in the winter, it’s not even funny.

5. Socializing suffers. No one wants to pay for a coat check or flirt with someone who is deficient in vitamin D.

6. It’s dark by lunchtime. Nighttime really loses its special flare when it begins while you’re still at work.

7. Empty gyms. Motivation is low during winter, which makes everyone lethargic and flabby. Two words I never want in my bio.

8. The couch feels lonely. If you have a significant other, I’m super happy for you. If you don’t, the lack of a cuddle buddy in winter gets really depressing when you’re watching The Bachelor and eating a whole pizza by yourself lounging on the couch alone.

olaf gif

9. Icy roads. For both cars and clumsy people like myself, ice is no bueno.

10. Sickness. Runny noses, dry coughs, and stomach viruses are just as plentiful as Ugg boots. Gross.

11. Forgotten sunglasses. Winter can still be insanely bright, but I never ever remember to bring my sunglasses to outdoor events, leaving me squinty and miserable most of the time (also due to #1, re: cold hurts).

ALWAYS:

1. Snow days. Working from home once in a while brings me great joy.

2. Leggings. I’m pretty cool with the fact that wearing your PJs in public is socially acceptable. Note: Please wear sweaters that cover your butts, though, ladies. Leggings ≠ pants.

3. Beards. Facial hair [on men] is a beautiful thing.

NRT

Sign me up.

4. Grooming leniency. To piggyback off #3- if I’m running late for work and don’t have time to shave my legs…who’s the wiser?

5. Red wine. Warms you right up.

6. Boots. Although fashion is irrelevant (re: #2 in the Never list), boots look good on everyone.

7. Kids are in school. Fewer pesky teenagers running rampant and taking up space in the Chipotle line? Yes, please.

8. Less laundry. Since you don’t sweat through everything, sometimes you might just hang that cute little shirt right back up in the closet. It’s okay. We all do it.

9. Bosses are happy. I don’t know about you, but I tend to stay at work later in the winter to procrastinate the freezing walk to my car show my dedication.

10. Cabin activities. I’m not a big skier or ice climber (though I think I could get really into the latter), but people tend to plan activities that revolve around cabins and fireplaces in the winter, which I fully support.

11. Blankets. I really like the weight of blankets on me, which is much more practical in the winter. This does feed into #3 on the Never list, however, so maybe summer wins afterall..?

 

Who am I kidding. Summer definitely still wins.

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Valentine’s Day: A Vulnerable Look at Great Love

In a culture of esteemed independence, admitting that you want to love and be loved is somewhat embarrassing. Careers, personal growth, and friendships are revered, but not romantic love. No, no. If you openly desire such a thing, you must not be self-sufficient or confident.

Phony baloney. (If that phraseology throws you off, please keep in mind that you’re reading a blog called Generation grannY…key word: Granny. Also, I’m aware that’s not how you spell bologna.)

Humankind is meant to be communal, and even more so, intimate. Sure, developing assurance within yourself, so not to rely on others for approval, is healthy. But self-assurance and heartfelt satisfaction are not necessarily one and the same. When Skyping with my older brother (and sister-in-law) the other night, he said, “Shannon, don’t ever stop hoping to love someone and to be loved. You know what you want, and I think that’s great.” What a phenomenon, to be commended as a single woman for wanting to give and receive love! So often, singles- men and women alike- are made to feel inadequate for coveting deep intimacy, as though we’re weak for not being able to provide that for ourselves. But love, both romantic and otherwise, is not something we can do alone. Nor is it something to be ashamed of. Love is interactive and instinctive.

So, in the hope of exemplifying vulnerability in a world that applauds self-preservation, I’m going to express what I desire when it comes to love. After all, it is Valentine’s Day. I could write something cheeky or sarcastic about this “Hallmark holiday,” but I truly believe our culture has encouraged independence to a point where walls are too high. In breaking down a few of those walls through barefaced honesty, I hope that anyone reading will be comforted in knowing that it’s okay and natural to crave companionship or wine instead.

Holding-Hands

Here we go.

I want love. I want the kind of love Hunter Hayes would write a song about. Where every look is a spark and every touch is a lingering imprint. I want to communicate through silly grunts and animal noises when I’m drunk, or maybe even when I’m not. I want to dance really poorly because that’s the only way I know how, but him think it’s irresistibly sexy. I want to laugh until I cry without having to apologize for the fact that I cry-laugh far too easily. I want to be more interested in holding hands under the table than picking up my fork to eat. I want my best friend to sing karaoke with him and fall almost as much in love as I am, except without wanting to jump his bones. I want eye contact to outweigh a kiss, and a kiss to outweigh third base. I want him to grab my face when my hair is in a ponytail after the gym and tell me I’m the hottest girl he’s ever seen. I want us both to be a little sad when we have our girls nights or guys nights, even if it’s something we’ve been looking forward to for weeks. I want to pretend to bite his face when I’m hungry and make him laugh when I can’t figure out what’s wrong with my car. I want to fall asleep under the stars and have a secret “I love you” hand squeeze when we’re too tired to say it out loud.

I want to have all of the excitement, paired with practical compatibility. When the spark and lingering imprints become less electrifying, I want to go hiking or get swept away in a brilliant musical score. I want to pray together and scratch his arm and listen to him tell me about his crazy boss at work. I want to keep his scotch glass full and go into the other room when I sense he needs to be alone. And then I want him to come find me a few hours later. I want to drink wine on the porch and talk about how we can better fulfill our lives’ purposes. I want to make him a delicious dinner that he doesn’t expect and book him a random professional massage just because I know it’d feel good. I want him to ask me every now and then about my mom, to learn more about who she was and how I dealt/deal with her death. I want him to hold my hand in the car and know my Starbucks order. I want to play cards with our friends and be regulars at at least one bar. I want to be partners in life, and in cornhole. I want us to be the best of friends, so that our deep affection and appreciation matches- if not exceeds- the level of attraction.

Ultimately, I want it all. To be madly in love, and to love for the sake of honoring commitment. To feel shaken to the core, but also to just get along and help one another manage life. That about sums it up.

Spelling out and admitting all of these desires is humbling, and certainly nerve-wracking, but like I said earlier- I hope with my small amount of vulnerability comes a great amount of relief for those of you who might feel alone in your hope for “great love” (the kind in How to Lose a Date with Tad Hamilton). And for those of you who have already found it, I hope you’re reminded of what you have! Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

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Dream Interpreting: How Much Do We Control?

A. To regular readers (I’m incredibly honored to now have some regulars that I don’t call “Dad”), I apologize for not writing for a while. It’s been a funky few weeks, leaving my creative juice box a bit dry.

B. How is it already February 9th, 2015? Just let that sink in for a second.

————————————

They say that how you really feel reveals itself in dreams and/or five shots of Jameson. I don’t think either is true. First of all, the only thing that reveals itself after five shots of Jameson is the amount of steel in the lining of one’s stomach. Not that I’d know. Second, if dreams are to be interpreted, then I am an absolute insane person, which I refuse to believe is true. Which, scarily, is the sign of an insane person. But let’s not harp on that possibility.

I have weird dreams. And although most of my friends laugh in a half judgey/half concerned way when I tell them my dreams, I really don’t think I am alone in experiencing strange things while asleep. I’d like to review with you two of the most recent scenarios my brain came up with when snoozing. Please keep in mind that I have no control over these things. Both happened last night:

  • Two great white sharks attacked me in the ocean. They weren’t chomping down on my limbs, rather they head-butted me until Rufus Humphry (from Gossip Girl) came and saved my life. He put me into a Houdini box that magically transported me back to the beach, but both my legs were severely damaged from the knee down. Apparently the sharks had really intense head-butting techniques. While I was in the Houdini box, I switched from being the victim to being a witness, so it was actually my coworker Meghan (hey, girl, I know you’re reading this right now) who had the torn-up legs. Everyone thought she was not going to make it because she was losing so much blood, but I wasn’t worried because I somehow already knew she would survive. Then I woke up. [Let it be known that I’m not proud of what my mind does without my permission.]
  • A guy I was seeing in real life recently, plus a few of his friends and I, went to Paul’s Deli- the bar in Williamsburg, VA where I spent nearly every night of summer 2009. When we walked in, the guy I was dating- let’s call him Pete- spotted a huge cockroach on the fireplace. (Note: there is no fireplace in the real Paul’s Deli.) He proceeded to kill it, then made sure it was dead by putting it in his mouth. STOP JUDGING ME RIGHT NOW. Pete spit it out (it was still moving a little bit), but then we reasoned, “Well, we have to stay at this bar even though it’s dirty, because it’s raining outside.” Seemed valid in my dream. That’s when things took a turn for the worse. From behind the lamp (again, not one lamp exists in the real Paul’s Deli) came an army of cockroaches. They were all about two inches long and had tan-colored wings. Not weird enough yet? Read on. Do you remember that scene in The Lion King when all of Scar’s hyenas did the Hitler walk? Well, these cockroaches started doing that. They were Hitler cockroaches. In a disgusting, perfectly uniform march, they swarmed the room while I tried to tell everyone else what was happening. Sadly, no one seemed to notice, even though I was having a mild to medium panic attack. [Have I mentioned that I am not proud of what my mind does without my permission??] lion king hitler hyenas

These sort of dreams are not something most people would share on the interwebs for fear of possibly being torn away from their families and enrolled in a psychiatric center. I’m banking on this not happening because it’s a Monday morning and hopefully most of you are too busy catching up on work or recovering from the weekend to bother picking up the phone on my behalf. In all seriousness, though, these dreams can’t possibly reveal much. I think I can break them down, if we must:

  • Sharks and cockroaches are my two biggest fears
  • The guy I used to see (in dream 2) was in an accident a few years back that left his legs in the same condition the sharks left mine/Meghan’s (dream 1)
  • I’ve been binge-watching Gossip Girl

I honestly don’t think the dreams meant anything more than I’m still scared of sharks and cockroaches, that the guy I used to see was on my mind because we had an intense talk recently, and that I need to find better things to do with my time than watch a show about rich high schoolers in Manhattan. I’m 26. That’s no longer cool.

Although I don’t believe dreams about losing teeth reflect unstable finances, or that dreams about a recent significant other mean you’re obsessed with that person, I do think dreams are wildly interesting. Not telling, but interesting. How do our minds come up with such intricate scenarios? If we can’t control what our minds do when we are asleep, then really- how much of our minds do we control when we’re awake?

I’ve said and written time and again that happiness is a choice. That we control our own thoughts and attitudes. I believe this- I do. But even as someone who actively tries to monitor the path of my feelings, I’m often left somewhere completely different than I’d intended. No matter how hard I try at times, my mind and heart do their own thing. This doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to choose healthy perspectives and courses of action, but it does reveal the paradox that is human existence: We are in control of our lives, while still having almost no say in anything that happens. We can work extremely hard to behave certain ways and train our minds to think certain things, but ultimately, nature will have its say. The conscientious decision to make good choices and to see the positive in tough times should never be underrated, for it definitely helps make life a whole lot better, but dreams are a good reminder of just how little of this world we control. Even our own brains get the better of us at times. Challenging ourselves to be our best selves, while not getting too frustrated when we can’t manage to consistently reside in the ideal mental or emotional state, is no easy balance. I’ve found that life is a never-ending push and pull, where we have to be simultaneously invested in our decisions and surroundings, while maintaining an overarching sense of surrender to outside forces.

So when you have dreams about great white sharks or exes or flying or long hikes with a pack of wolves, rather than continuing to try and find control through interpretation that can never be proven, instead let those sometimes funny, sometimes scary, sometimes depressing made-up mental scenarios remind you that all you can do is do your best. All you can do is control what you can (in a positive, not manic way), and chalk the rest up to being an odd little human in this blip of a life on this tiny little planet within this one galaxy in a giant universe. Each of us is important, yes (and I say this because I believe in God), but really- if a shark is going to head butt you to the ground while you sleep, aren’t we taking ourselves a wee bit too seriously?

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The Problem with Beating Cancer

Cancer. What an ugly word. It seems to be taking over the world- or maybe I’m just getting older and more attune to its presence. Either way, I hate it. I guess everyone hates cancer, though. Or at the very least, no one likes it. Like Creed. (Sorry if you know someone in the band Creed. I’m sure they’re all nice fellows.)

Most Generation grannY readers are aware my mother passed away from bladder cancer in 2012. Since then, I’ve known and heard of far too many people who have also lost their earthly lives to this senseless disease. Just a few weeks ago, my little brother’s best friend (11 years old) lost his father to brain cancer. I’m positive that anyone reading this also knows- or at least knows of- someone who has passed away from some sort of cancer. Surely, I’m not alone. After all, I see post after post on Facebook of fundraisers, prayers, and heartbreak referring to case upon case. It’s exhausting. It’s scary. And it’s reality.cancer ribbons

Speaking as someone who has watched cancer take over a loved one, I can attest to its unyielding power and magnitude. Cancer is not reserved for people who fill their bodies with toxins and chemicals. My mother was an exemplary RN, a triathlete, and an avid lover of life. My little brother’s best friend’s dad was the epitome of health- one of those in-shape dads that 30-year-old single women drool over. Save a change in God’s master plan, nothing could have protected either one of them from cancer’s wrath. This is why, going against my usual style of not rocking the boat, I’m coming right out to say that I think people need to stop using the phrase “He/She Beat Cancer.”

Perhaps “surviving cancer” doesn’t sound as exciting and rousing as “beating cancer,” but the latter implies that those who’ve died lost. Like they did something wrong. I’m not generally one to be overly sensitive to political correctness- and I most certainly understand that all uses of “beating cancer” are with the best intentions to inspire, motivate, and encourage- but in this case, it’s important to take into account the perspective of individuals “losing” the battle. How do you think it makes them feel when they realize their time is up? When they’re told there are no more treatment options? When, save prayer, there’s nothing left that can be done? Should they feel like they failed? Like they could have done something differently? No. Never should those thoughts plague their minds.

I remember my mom saying that one of the many difficulties in her time living with cancer was having people try to figure out what she could have done differently. You know, to prevent a giant tumor from growing in her bladder and eventually crushing her organs. “Did you drink too much?” “Did you stand near a microwave?” “Did you not eat solely organic vegetables grown in a garden no further than 10 miles from your home?” She felt like she was constantly defending her life choices (which, might I add, included going to bed at 8:30pm most nights, running 7 miles every morning, and only drinking a glass or two of wine on the weekends). But my mom didn’t do anything to “deserve” cancer. It just happened. She “fought” it with grace, faith, and dignity. She danced with my brother at his wedding right after a round of chemotherapy. She went to Cedar Sinai hospital in L.A. to have one of the best surgeons in the nation remove her bladder, uterus, and dozens of lymph nodes. She prayed and ate well and continued remodeling the house with optimistic strength. But guess what? Cancer eventually stopped her body from supporting her soul. She did not “lose.” She was just not given the opportunity to keep living.

When someone survives cancer, they should be celebrated for enduring such a strenuous ordeal. They should be encouraged with words and hugs and reminders of how much their life impacts those around them. Cancer patients with a will to live that is paired with life’s gift to let them live are most certainly inspirational in displaying active examples of the word “hope.” And we all need hope. I by no means want to take away from the joy everyone feels when cancer does not end up taking a life. All I want is for people to remember that we are human. We are not God. We do not decide our own fate. We will never understand the reason why some people live and some people die, be it by cancer or a car accident or a bad piece of chicken. No one “beats” death. Some come a little closer to dying than others, therefore understanding mental and physical strength on a deeper level, but make no mistake- no one is weaker for dying than those who survive. For whatever reason, God decides that a survivor’s presence on earth is needed for a longer period of time, and those who pass on have already left the print they were intended to make. Or maybe it’s all arbitrary. Though that’s a depressing thought, it’s no less valid in making my point.

Perhaps we should start saying “So-and-So’s will to live was granted!” instead of “So-and-So beat cancer!” to remind those on their death beds, loved ones beside them, and the public in general that we are not in utter control of our lives. Yes, healthy choices and positive mindsets are beneficial in reducing illness (hence still commending one’s will to live!), but the ultimate outcome is not a reflection of human strength or weakness. It is a reflection of human mortality. Rather than that realization being a discouragement, we can use it as a stimulant towards leading lives filled with daily gratefulness, sensational vibrancy, and peaceful surrender. In addition to freeing us from the burden of trying to lean on our own, faltering human strength, refraining from the phrase “beating cancer” shows sensitivity towards those who are not given more time or have lost someone they love. Both of those outcomes seem like wins to me- and hopefully to you, too!

 

P.S.- If you ever say that someone “beat cancer” in front of me, then remember that I wrote this blog post- do not cover your mouth and apologize! Trust me, I will be THRILLED for you and whomever survived cancer! This is just some food for thought as we go through life trying to choose our words wisely with the hearts of others in mind.

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Never/Always: Sharing Edition

When I tried to steal a french fry from my 11-year-old brother on Sunday, his reaction reminded me of that time my college roommate/best friend tried to take a bite from my bowl of Velveeta Shells & Cheese during finals week. Let’s just say it didn’t go well (and she’ll never let me forget it). This prompted me to think- what are the things I really don’t like to share? Alternatively, when do I actually enjoy spreading the wealth? It’s been awhile since a solid Never/Always list, so what a perfect opportunity to explore these two critical questions.

11 Things I NEVER Like to Share

11 Things I ALWAYS Like to Share

ALWAYS:

1. Hugs. Maybe it’s because I’m always cold, or maybe because I’m single and don’t get enough affection, but hugging is my favorite thing ever.

2. A bottle of wine. Or two.

3. Music. I get really excited about forcing telling people to listen to my new favorite song, no matter how embarrassing (cough Style by Taylor Swift cough), and gladly accept recommendations.

4. French fries. I’m okay with people stealing my fries (unlike my little bro) because I already feel kind of guilty for having them, so a couple fewer on my plate is mentally helpful. Plus I like stealing them when I regrettably order a salad. It all evens out.

5. Blush. It’s the one makeup product that I have no qualms about sharing. You get a brush! And you get a brush! And you get a brush!

oprah gif

6. The remote. I’m not weird about letting other people take the TV reins. Again, this might be a sign that I haven’t been in a long term relationship since college. Idk.

7. Tapas or pizza. Because these dishes are meant to be shared. More on this subject later.

8. Books. Once I’m finished reading, I love giving books to friends and family. I can simultaneously prove that I’m obviously super smart because I read in my spare time and give a free gift. Booyah!

9. Friends. I’m not worried that I’ll be replaced. Trust me, it’d take a lot of entertaining stories, weird faces, and wine for you to replace me. I love when my friends become friends!

10. Texts. I’m about to confess something, and I hope it doesn’t deter any of you from talking to me. I screenshot the heck out of my text conversations and send them to people who will find them entertaining/fun to overanalyze. Calm down, calm down, I’ve never done it with a text from you.

11. Medicine. I never think twice about handing out the stray Tylenol in the bottom of my purse. Makes me feel like I’m really making a difference, like doctors in West Africa.

NEVER:

1. Toothbrushes. I will never ever be okay sharing a stick used to scrub tarter and old food from my teeth. Ever.

2. Individually-portioned plates of food. You may have a bite of my meal, but I don’t want to split it. I can’t help that I’m a bad food sharer. I was born this way. Pretty sure I didn’t even like my big brother getting near the baby food. [See Always #7]

3. My bed. I like sleepovers (with my friends- get your mind out of the gutter), but I have to admit I get a little manic about changing the sheets if someone has slept in my bed who isn’t me.

4. ChapStick. I don’t want to kiss most people, so I don’t want to share ChapStick with most people.

5. Men. I’m cool with sharing my friends, but not cool with sharing my significant other. An open relationship is the worst idea I’ve heard besides licorice ice cream.

6. Clothes. I will do it on occasion, but I don’t like to share clothes. A byproduct of my clumsiness, perhaps, but I’m too afraid I’ll spill something on your shirt. I then project that fear onto you, and assume there’s an 80% chance my shirt will get a red wine stain if you wear it. Sorry.

7. Pens. I used to be a server. This should explain everything. If you’ve never been a server, you may not understand/probably aren’t as successful in life.

8. Electronic devices. Using someone else’s computer or phone feels really intimate. I had to use a bartender’s phone the other week and I am 95% sure she and I are now forever connected, like one day if I need heart transplant, she’ll have died in a tragic accident and the heart will be hers or something.

best friends gif

9. Hair ties. Honestly, when was the last time you lent a hair tie and actually got it back?

10. Political opinions. Just don’t.

11. Hairbrushes. Isn’t not sharing hairbrushes like 5th Grade Health 101?

 

Sharing is caring hard.

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The Gift of Gab

Awkward silence. We’ve all been there.

Yep.

[clears throat]

[sighhhh]

So, uh, yeah.

Awkward silence wears many different hats. Sometimes it wears the “We don’t have enough in common to make this car ride comfortable” hat. Other times it wears the “I can’t believe you just said something that weird” hat. Awkward silence can also don the “The couple you’re hanging out with just got in a fight and it’s not resolved” hat, which was its chosen accessory a few Saturdays ago as I sat in an Uber with one of my favorite couples. They’re usually happy has clams, but the holidays can do weird things to people. As Mario-The-Uber-Driver and I pretended not to listen- despite being trapped in the same, small moving compartment on wheels- my girlfriend quietly reprimanded her boyfriend for forgetting the gift for the party to which we were heading. (It was his one job!!) Now, the average human would stare out the window until the awkward silence passed, or let the couple give social cues that it was now acceptable for the third party to rejoin the conversation. Not I. No siree. I jump right into the deep end with this sort of thing. “Hey guys. So, um, would it be helpful if I told a story? I have lots of stories.” I proceeded to dive into my dating life and threw out so many names and webs for them to follow, that by the time we arrived at our destination, they were confused enough to not even remember they’d had a fight in the first place. This, my friends, is called being the token single friend the gift of gab.

People who talk a lot are usually one of two things: annoying or lifesaving. Nothing in between. The annoying gabber doesn’t know when to turn off the ole noisemaker, so his/her (usually her, let’s be honest) voice eventually develops a chipmunk-like quality that must be tuned out. The lifesaving gabber knows when to stay silent, but is always ready and willing to jump in during that moment when no one else knows what to do. I prefer to think of myself as the latter. Don’t tell me if I’m wrong.

Why do I bring up this topic, you ask? Because I’d like to help you. (See? gabbing=talking to thin air=talking to yourself=blogging.) If you’d like to improve upon your gabbing skills, thus lessen the time you spend in awkward silence, read on. If you’re one of those really dark people who finds pleasure in watching people squirm during awkward silence, you can stop reading now and return to sadistically stroking your underfed cat.

3 Ways to Acquire the Gift of Gab 

1. Find entertainment in the mundane

At first, I was going to suggest living an interesting, crazy life so that you always have something to talk about. But then I realized that some of the best gabbers are stay-at-home moms who consider a big outing their 45 minute Zumba class. Power to ‘em. You see, always having a story to fill the silence really has less to do with interesting things happening in life, and more to do with a person’s ability to find entertaining moments in every situation. For instance, yesterday, I spent an uneventful day at work, then ate pho with a new friend, then went to bed. Should someone ask me about my day, what could I possibly talk about for more than 12 seconds? Nothing. Oh, wait. Except for eating pho. phoWhy is eating pho interesting? Well, because no one ever told Vietnamese chefs that spaghetti rice noodles are simply too long. They’re just too long. Here I was trying to eat somewhat politely in front of my new friend, and I had to balance the slippery noodles on my spoon (I just mastered chopsticks for sushi- don’t press me) during the transfer to my mouth, then either slurp them all into my mouth before they slipped back into the bowl, or if I overshot my mouth’s capacity, bite the noodles in half and let the remains drop back into my bowl with an messy splatter. Did I mention my new friend is an attractive male? Not a cute look. Go ahead and judge. You try eating spaghetti with a spoon and get back to me. My point is that eating pho was part of a mundane Monday, but could serve as a funny story to tell my friends if they ask about my boring day. Instead of halting the conversation with “It was fine, I guess,” I tell them about eating pho like a caveman. Voila. Gab.

P.S.- Pho is delicious and worth the mess every time.

2. Be curious about people

How am I supposed to know if you love that new Taylor Swift mash up cover (<–click, you’ll thank me)  as much as I do unless I ask? How will I learn to understand the meaning behind expensive paintings unless I ask what you do and you tell me that you’re an artist? How can I bond with you over wine unless I casually inquire about your favorite every Thursday night activity? More importantly, how can I learn to look at life through a new, mind-opening lense unless I get to know you? The sooner we stop trying to make conversation and start trying to learn, questions will roll right off the tongue, opening plenty of opportunity for gab and leaving no room for awkward silence.

3. Get plenty of sleep

I’m serious. Gabbing takes energy. I actively record it in my health log as part of my fitness routine. HAH. Just kidding. I don’t have a health log. Unless you count scrap papers on my desk at work, on which I sometimes start adding up how many calories I’ve consumed by lunchtime, only to quickly shred the results. But I’m getting off track. Gabbing is hard work. I can barely listen to someone speak while keeping a polite face when I’m tired, much less drive the conversation. Engaging with people, or the air, or a brick wall, means displaying a relatively high level of enthusiasm. This means giving your body the fuel it needs to be awake, inquisitive, and creative. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep those vocal chords healthy and flippity floppity.

charles barkley falling asleep gif

Does this look like the face of someone ready to gab?

 

I know you probably could’ve used these tips before all of the holiday parties, but I dropped the ball. Speaking of the the ball dropping, Happy 2015!

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2014: A Giant Thank You

Happy New Year’s Eve, all! As you can tell by my lack of posting, the holidays have been a bit hectic (in the best way possible). I would be remiss if I didn’t post one last time in 2014, however, so let me just say this:

THANK YOU.

Generation grannY came to life in January 2014, and it’s been such a source of joy in my life. Not just because I love writing, but because of the way I’ve felt so connected to all of you who read so loyally. Those of you who tell me of the laughs and thoughts it brings you. Those who encourage me in private messages, despite being strangers. Those who know me personally and still take the time to read. Those who tweet, comment, and share. I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the way your kind words and excitement about posts motivate and inspire my writing, as well as warm my soul.

So, again, thank you. My 2014 was a beautiful year throughout the ups and downs of life, because writing for Generation grannY has given me consistent happiness. From pageant bodies and Miss America results, to the 3 stages of summer for the average white girl, to what to expect at Pure Barre class, it’s been an amazing ride! I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings alongside all of you! Cheers!

taylor gif

T Swift had a pretty good year, too. (Don’t know if you’ve heard of her, but…)

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I’m seeing a trend in my guest blogging life: To write for websites/blogs that revolve around a topic I know very little about. It started with my guest post for Kandice Pelletier Swimwear a few months ago. (Bikini modeling isn’t really my forte…shocking coming from a girl who eats a block of cheese on the reg, I know). And now, the up-and-coming NYC fashion blog, Ashli with an Eye, published some words of mine. I love clothes and like to think I know what looks decent/stylish, but I really have no right to be on a fashion blog. Definitely not mad about it, though! Plus I didn’t actually write about fashion, so don’t worry.

Please enjoy my guest blog on Ashli with an Eye about why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POST

merry christmas

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10 Popular Christmas Songs Written by Someone Drunk on Eggnog

I love Christmas, I love songs, and I love wine gin and tonics martinis eggnog. Put them all together and this is what you get:

  1. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Hands down, my favorite Christmas song of all time. When I get wine drunk and make up songs with myself friends, they are pretty much exactly like IWAHFC (that abbrev rolls right off the tongue, no?). This song keeps my dreams of being a songwriter alive and well.

Favorite lyrics:

There’s lots of room for him
In our two car garage
I’d feed him there
And wash him there
And give him his massage

—–

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles
Or rhinoceroses-es
I only like hippopotamuses-es
And hippopotamuses like me too

Couldn’t decide on just one stanza…this song is just too amazing. A massage for the hippo. Yes. And addressing the fact that pronouncing the plural of any noun ending in “s” is downright impossible. Thank you.

hippopotamus for christmas

  1. The Twelve Days of Christmas

I know I’m not the only one to question the lyrics of this song. First of all, pears are top two most obscure fruits, next to elderberries. Also, any time “milking” is used in a song, you know the lyricist was not completely sober.

Favorite lyrics:

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
Five Golden Rings

Because belting “five golden rings” like you’re the richest person in the world is the highlight of any sing along.

  1. Frosty the Snowman

I feel like I can kind of relate to whoever wrote Frosty the Snowman because obviously he was drinking alone and just needed a friend. The holidays do not cater to singles. Luckily for this guy, though, everyone was like, “You know what, an imaginary snowman friend actually sounds awesome,” and the writer was pegged as creative instead of sad. I wonder how he’s doing (the writer, not Frosty).

Favorite lyrics:

thumpity thump thump
thumpity thump thump
Look at Frosty go
thumpity thump thump
thumpity thump thump
Over the hills of snow

One of the saddest stanzas ever written.

  1. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

This song is so warped and hilarious. Why it’s famous, I’ll never understand, other than the fact that evidently our nation can bond over really messed up humor. I LOL every time I hear it, so no judgment from my end.

Favorite lyrics:

It’s not Christmas without Grandma
All the family’s dressed in black
And we just can’t help but wonder
Should we open up her gifts or send them back?

Rudest/most honest family ever.

  1. Feliz Navidad

“Feliz Navidad” is the only Spanish phrase unilingual, basic white folks know,  so naturally, I’m obsessed with the song and always sing it with the most authentic Spanish accent I can muster. The melody is so joyful, too! Going out on a limb here, but I feel like this was written by a group of friends just bopping around their living room having a drunken good time.

Favorite lyrics:

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero año y Felicidad.
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart.

That’s literally the entire song.

  1. Santa Baby

The concept is so weird. A cougar with just enough too much Malbec in her system, if you ask me. Ten more years and I might be into it.

Favorite lyrics:

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing… A ring…
I don’t mean on the phone; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Calm down, girl. So thirsty.

  1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause

If this were a true story, that child would be scarred for life. Which brings me to this question: Was this lyricist imagining himself as Santa? Was this some sort of fantasy for him? I don’t know and I don’t think I want to. I sense that the writer put tequila or something very wrong in his eggnog.

Favorite lyircs:

Then I saw mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white

This does not give me the warm and fuzzies.

  1. Marshmallow World

Just like me last Saturday night, this writer was clearly on a food binge in the middle of the night after getting home from a holiday party with an open bar.

Favorite lyrics:

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground
It’s the time for play, it’s a whipped cream day
I wait for it the whole year round.

Who doesn’t love a song relating anything and everything to munchies?

  1. All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

I know it’s kind of a cute song, but keep in mind that a child did not write it. Two tired parents drinking eggnog while making fun of their kid. That’s who wrote it.

Favorite lyrics:

It seems so long since I could say, 
“Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!”

I’m sure they laughed so hard after coming up with that one.

  1. Deck the Halls

I’m sorry, but no song with lyrics that are 80% “falalalalalalala” was written without the influence of alcohol. Can’t get around that fact, despite how classic the song.

Favorite lyrics:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis’ the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Such happy drunks! Love them!

not funt to be sober

 

There you have it, a fantastic holiday playlist. Merry Christmas, boys and girls!

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