The Bachelorette: Who Should Andi Choose?

If you don’t know who Andi Dorfman is, you may return to your Facebook news feed at this time.

The Bachelor/Bachelorette is an entertaining show. I’m clearly preaching to the choir since I just told all non-fans to go away. It’s just us now. Bachelor Nation. We’re in a safe place, surrounded by our fellow viewers who cringe when they hear the words “it’s okay” (Juan Pablo), “winning” (Courtney from Ben’s season), or “sparkle” (Tierra from Sean’s season). I actually used to follow Tierra’s Eyebrow on Twitter. Yep, it has its own Twitter feed. How uncomfortable am I admitting that on a scale of 1 to the Jamie Otis kiss? Only about a 4. I know I’m with friends here.

tierra1

That eyebrow is definitely unnerving.

Some seasons are cast with so many wackos that we start losing faith in the reality of this T.V. show (coughBenFlajnikSeasoncough). Then a Sean Lowe rolls around, making us all believe the magic, once again. And by magic, I mean the possibility that someone can actually end up in a functional relationship with someone who was making out with other people up until the night before he/she got engaged.

This season on The Bachelorette [insert Chris Harrison voice], Andi Dorfman is a 27-year-old lawyer who is down to her final two suitors- Nick (boo, hiss) and Josh (woohoo!). Her journey to find love started out a little slow for my taste, mostly due to the fact that it looks like producers have finally run out of a stash of hot, eligible guys. Where is the Arie Luyendyk hottie? Where is the puppy-eyed J.P. Rosenbaum? Am I watching the right show? Because I’m pretty sure I could find any of these guys posted up at my local bar on any given Saturday night. Obviously, that did not stop me from watching, but my unimpressed face was glued on tight for the first five episodes. Things only started getting interesting once Brian got angsty because Andi forced him to help her cook dinner. If that’s not reality, I don’t know what is. I also liked the part when the guys took the lie detector test and all thought one of the questions was “Have you ever farted in public?” NO, the facilitator just had an Italian accent when he said “Have you ever fought in public?” Classic. It’s worth watching (below).

 

But let’s get down to the important matter at hand. Who should Andi choose??

First of all, let me say that Andi’s loss is our gain if her most recent rejection, Farmer Chris, becomes the next Bachelor. Anyone else fall in love with him on his hometown date? I want to spend my days riding around on his big green tractor and my nights playing Ghost in the Graveyard with his family. Not to mention, I’d be totally fine living in his gorgeous house, napping on his plough-pulling biceps (I know he doesn’t actually pull the plough, but he could), and drinking wine with his awesome mom. Good job, Farmer Chris- you have officially put Iowa on the map.

After I finish putting together my audition tape in hopes that I’ll get to date Farmer Chris next season, I look forward to seeing if Andi chooses Normal Job Nick or [former] Pro Baseballer Josh. For short, we’ll call them NJN and PBJ (not to be confused with Peanut Butter & Jelly, though both Josh and the latter make me salivate in a good way). Or we’ll just stick with Nick and Josh.

Nick probably doesn’t deserve to be hated as much as he is, but I love hating him anyways. I don’t hate him for the reason the other contestants did, though. I just don’t like the fact that he clearly thinks he’s hotter than he is, plus acts all bashful around Andi in the least masculine way possible. Also, have you noticed the Neville Longbottom resemblance? No?

Josh is cool, I guess. He kind of talks like he grew up in the Bronx even though he’s from an uber wealthy Floridian family, but we can look past that since he has great teeth and owns a really cute dog named Sabel.

If I’m being honest, I’m not convinced either of the final two contenders will end up at the alter with Andi. I’m sure one (or both, if she doesn’t get to the point fast enough during the final rose) will propose on the season finale, but will we see another Trista and Ryan success story? My instincts say no. Andi is a firecracker. To be honest, she scares me a little. I want to be her best friend, but I also get the sense that the girl could cut you with words if you make her angry. Josh seems like a stubborn guy, so I think he and Andi would end up fighting all of the time. Nick is just too different from Andi, so I think she’d eventually get bored and annoyed by him. He will probably end up dating someone from a different Bachelor season that he meets at an industry party, while Josh will probably fall in love with a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader (his little brother just got drafted by the Chiefs). You can quote me on this in two years.

As another season of The Bachelor/Bachelorette comes to a close, let us raise a toast this little jingle I just made up:

To all the contestants throughout the season

Who proved they were here for the right reason

May your families be proud when they watch the show

And your 15 minutes of fame help your businesses grow!

[This toast was inspired by Chris Bukowski from Emily’s season, who used his momentum from The Bachelorette to open Bracket Room, the bar at which I found myself last Saturday night.]

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NYC Subway > DC Metro

I had a rude awakening last night while casually discussing public transportation over a glass of grossly overpriced Chardonnay. I accidentally called the New York City subway the “metro.” <<shudder>> This means I’m officially settled into the Northern Virginia suburban lifestyle. “Settled” might be a strong word, considering I just moved into my third home since relocating here less than a year ago, but you get the idea.

Last night’s underwhelming heated debate about the NYC train vs. DC metro prompted me to make my argument public, on this here blog. I argue in favor of the New York City subway.  OBVIOUSLY.

metro

Yeah, yeah, DC (bottom) is prettier. But I’m not shallow.

I am by no means bashing my current city. The DC metropolitan area has some real benefits, like conveniently-located Targets and the occasional POTUS sighting. In case you didn’t know, Obama likes to ditch his secret service once in a while and take a casual stroll along the streets of DC, because, you know, what else is there to do? But one of the benefits of this area is not a speedy, reliable underground train system.

Sure, I’ve yet to step into a train car in DC that is completely empty because of a single homeless man asleep in the corner, whose stench makes passengers evacuate. And no, a trio of guitarists wearing sombreros has yet to overpower Book of Mormon Wicked NSYNC Ellie Goulding playing through my headphones. But that does not make the DC metro system better than New York’s subway. I’ll take those pesky breakdancers almost kicking my face and the sweaty, balance-challenged tourists over having to wait 6,000 years for a train to ever show up.

Once in a while, I’d wait an eternity for a train in NYC. In DC, I wait an eternity every. Single. Time. Why? Because the only time I ever want to take the metro is on weekends. Apparently, DC has decided that people don’t need to get anywhere on weekends, so trains only run once per orbit around the sun. I also live off the orange line, which in my experience, is under constant construction. No, really- it never works. I’ve been told that I need to get the app that tells you when exactly a train is going to arrive so that I don’t sit and wait underground, but let’s be honest, when does public transportation ever arrive when it says it will? There are too many variables. The clan of teenagers who hold the doors while waiting for their friend’s card to swipe, the inexplicable two minute stop in the pitch black darkness, and the occasional jumper (or push- any House of Cards fans out there?). I will never trust an app to tell me when the train will actually arrive. Also, need I remind you that I’m a granny, so apps are still overwhelming to me.

New York is predictable. I don’t need fancy electronic signs or an app telling me how many minutes I’ll have to wait. From sheer experience, I know that 1 trains run every 30 seconds, so close together that you fear they might have a fender bender. The C and E trains come every 5-10 minutes. Same with the 456. The N train runs more than the R train, but both are pretty regular. The Q and the A are like the Polar Express, because catching one feels magical as you whiz pass everyone waiting at the completely unnecessary 18th Street stop and think “haha suckahhhs!” The JMZ trains- I mean, do people actually take those? Then there’s the F, which is NYC’s equivalent to the overall DC metro experience, meaning you really never know if or when it’s going to show up. F the F, if you know what I’m saying.

DC sounds easier in theory because all you need to know are the primary colors, but beyond the fact that it runs less frequently than I do- which says something, I find it difficult to navigate. First of all, it’s hard to navigate when you feel like you’re about to puke, which the metro seems to induce in me. I don’t know- maybe I need the abrupt gentle jostling of an old New York City train car- but the metro is like riding something straight out of The Jetsons and my body doesn’t like it. Also, where’s the loud angry driver yelling at me when I’m half asleep to remind me of what stop I’m at? I miss those feisty NYC subway drivers who scream over the intercom at any chance they get. They kept me on my toes and I always knew where I was. Not to mention the lack of signs in DC. New York subway stations have the street name plastered every four feet along the walls and on every column. Whoever designed DC’s metro system severely underestimated how closely I’d be paying attention to my location.

Lastly, I should mention my issue with how DC charges you based on distance. Seems like a smart idea, right? Wrong. In NYC, I could ride the train all day long, lost in a good book, and pay $2.50. Or I could go one stop because I’m a lazy sloth who doesn’t want to walk eight blocks, and still pay $2.50. It all balanced out. Swipe once when you enter the station, and the underworld is yours for the taking. In DC, I never ever know how much I’ll have to pay. $1? $1,000? Who’s to know? And I have to get my metro card out when I enter AND when I leave? That seems like a bit much. Also, a monthly unlimited pass in NYC is $112. Let me tell you, I was NOT a happy camper when it rose from $104 to $112. Come on, that $8 can get me 1 1/2 martinis at Pazza Notte (if you live in NYC, go check it out. And be careful. 2 for 1 martinis can seem like a good idea until it isn’t.). But then I look at the $237 monthly pass in DC and it all gets put into perspective.

You people who are jiggy with apps, value cleanliness, and are responsible enough not to fall asleep in public transportation might disagree with me, but I am who I am. You know who won’t argue with me? DC taxi drivers. Because they have all my money.

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Meet My Famous Friends

Doppelganger- an apparition or double of a living person. Thanks, Google!

I’ve always been jealous of people who look identical to celebrities. For just one day, I’d like to be upgraded to first class on a plane and be given free clothes at my favorite store (I’ll have to think of a place other than Target) because people mistake me for Adriana Lima. But as luck has it, I look nothing like Adriana Lima. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a steady doppelganger. Every once in a while, someone will vaguely say that I look like someone, but I think they’re just reaching for conversation.

As a whole, life as a non-celeb is great. We all should be happy being who we are, especially since no amount of plastic surgery can turn you into someone else (just ask this fan who had $100k of surgery to look like Justin Bieber…and still looks nothing like him- got lucky, if you ask me). Not to mention, I would have a heart attack if the paparazzi followed me to the beach all the time. I don’t need a camera zoomed in on my backside, thanks. I also really like knowing that I can give my phone number to someone and I won’t have 3 million people calling me the next day. I mean, let’s be honest, sometimes the one person I give it to doesn’t even call me. Anyways, even with the perks of being a commoner, I still like hearing the random comparisons to hotties on TV. These are the three I’ve been told:

shannonoliver

Allison Williams. You know, from that show “Girls.” You don’t know? Don’t worry, I didn’t either until a random client yesterday morning swore to the moon and back that we’re identical twins separated at birth. I can see it MAYBE. Or maybe we both just have long brown hair and blue eyes.

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Kate Middleton. HECK YEAH! The picture on the left (that’s me, in case you couldn’t tell the difference between us) was taken at my brother’s rehearsal dinner. That night, three different people told me I was a dead ringer for the Duchess of Cambridge. I know it’s not true and I know that my hair just happened to fall in a princess-y way that evening. Oh well.

shannonoliver3

Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter. I think we can all agree that this is the most accurate of the three.

 

After the random Allison Williams comparison yesterday morning, I became curious to find out who my friends are told they look like. So I texted them and asked. Turns out, I have some super famous friends! Let me introduce you:

JENNIFER MORRISON aka Mallory Hytes Hagan

malloryhagan

Jennifer Morrison, from ABC’s “Once Upon A Time,” and I are known for drinking wine in hotel rooms together. Fine, fine that’s actually Mallory Hagan and me. I wasn’t sure which one to make the celebrity here, considering that Mallory was Miss America 2013 and a celeb in her own right. Anyways, total twinsies, right?

DENISE RICHARDS aka Rosemary Willis

rosemarywillis

Denise Richards is a model and actress…I really shouldn’t have to explain who she is. She and I love to pray together and eat lots of food in one sitting. Wait, no, sorry, that’s what Rosemary Willis and I do together. Hard to tell the difference.

TIFFANI AMBER THIESSEN aka Lindsay Oliver

lindsayoliver

Tiffani Thiessen in grown up form, not in Kelly Kapowski form (“Saved by the Bell,” in case you were never a teenager), and I drink gin martinis and always happy cry together. Usually at the same time. Since you obviously don’t believe me, I’ll come clean and admit that I actually do those things with my sister-in-law, Lindsay Oliver.

KEVIN BACON aka Jim Oliver

jimoliver

One time, Kevin Bacon (the actor from Footloose) threw a full, cold Code Red can at my back and it left an imprint of the logo on my skin. He’s also married to Tiffani Amber Theissen. Jk jk that’s my brother, Jim Oliver. He doesn’t throw things at me anymore, don’t worry. Also, I think I threw a shoe at him first, so I deserved it.

KIM KARDASHIAN aka Katie Uze

katieuze

Kim Kardashian is famous for nothing, so I’m not really sure how to start this introduction. Also, let’s cut to the chase, Katie is about 100x prettier than Kim K. I don’t even want to pretend that Kim K. and I hang out on the reg because I feel like that would actually harm my reputation. Hanging out with Katie, however, makes me really really awesome.

KANDICE PELLETIER aka Kira Kazanstev

kirakazanstev

Kandice Pelletier was on “The Amazing Race,” designs swimsuits for Miss USA, and was a rockette (her own wax figure at Madame Tussauds included). She and I like to give each other big warm hugs, and she also measured my butt to see how big my swimsuit bottoms should be (not a size small, we’ll leave it at that). I’M TELLING THE TRUTH. This one is fun because I actually know Kandice AND Kira! And they know each other! Kira is the current Miss New York and she and I enjoy brunching when I visit. Kandice was Miss New York 2005, so they roll in that whole pageant sisterhood.

LAUREN CONRAD aka Stephanie Van Petten

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When Lauren Conrad was taping “The Hills,” she and I used to get together at the beach all the time and discuss our guy troubles. Or maybe that’s what Stephanie Van Petten and I do every summer. Too hard to tell.

GABRIELLE UNION aka Nicole Gilmore

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Gabrielle Union’s best work was in “Bring it On,” which is precisely what I say to her when she offers me twerking lessons. Well, fine, my soon-to-be roommate Nicole Gilmore is actually the twerk master.

ZOOEY DESCHANEL aka Emily Mantovani

emilyhoward

Zooey Deschanel cracks me up in her show “New Girl” because I actually know what she’s like to live with, given that we were roommates in college. Except- shocker- it was a different (but oddly similar) blue-eyed goddess who lived with me senior year and introduced me to my favorite food (Veleeta Shells & Cheese)- my Phi Mu big sister, Emily Howard (Mantovani).

AUBREY PLAZA aka Tess Sawyer

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Aubrey Plaza (comedian and actress from “Parks and Recreation”) and I have been best friends for 18 years. She always kills it at karaoke and I still love her even though I made my mom pick me up from her house during a sleepover when we were 10 because I decided we weren’t friends anymore. We’re past it. I’m also actually talking about Tess Sawyer, not Aubey Plaza, though they both have really cool unidentifiable exotic looks and great angled hair cuts.

LORDE aka Maggie Lawson

Lorde

Lorde is a super cool singer whose song “Royals” is welcome to never be played again. No offense to her, because she’s a super genuine person who eats tons of candy but then always has a perfect body. Double take! That would be Maggie Lawson, my 2011 Miss Virginia roommate. Same as the Kim Kardashian thing…she’s the way prettier version of Lorde. Said it.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON aka Claire Buffie aka Acacia Courtney

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ScarJo is basically the hottest actress on the planet, plus she lets me stay in her posh NYC apartment when I visit and is probably the most organized/popular person I know. WHAT that’s Claire Buffie?? They are the same. Person.

acaciacourtney

Oddly enough, ScarJo and I used to hang out before she cut her hair, too! She takes suuuuuper awkward pictures even though she’s normally perfect-looking, and she also is going to win Miss Connecticut this weekend (did I say that outloud)? Obviously, I am actually talking about my 2012 Miss New York roommate, Acacia Courtney.

CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY aka Tom Standish

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Chad Michael Murray (all around heart throb from the show “One Tree Hill”) is actually really, really nice in real life. He and my brother are bros (Sig Ep) and we all got rowdy in Richmond a few St. Patrick’s Days ago. Or that might have been Tom Standish, who is CMM’s IDENTICAL TWIN. Sorry ladies, Mr. Standish just put a ring on it. Lucky girl. Maybe you still have a chance with CMM himself?

Well, there you have it, people! I’m the name dropper of the century.

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What Everybody Wants for Their Birthday

canteven

I’m moving in with one of my close friends in a week, and she suggested this for a good coffee table book in our living room. I agree.

In three days, I’ll be closer to 30 years old than to 20. To quote every white girl right now: I literally can’t even.

Don’t worry, I don’t think 26 is over the hill. I also don’t think your 30s are equivalent to senior citizenship. If I did, I would always be dating old grandpas because I’m a big fan of the thirty-something male. And as usual, I digress.

Birthdays are strange simply because they serve as a yearly reminder that a significant amount of time has passed. The effect is the same as each New Year’s Eve, when everyone remembers where they were one year prior in amazement of how fast 12 months flew by. How is it possible that one year ago I was Miss New York, eating guacamole for my 25th birthday dinner in the Meatpacking District, and planning my move to DC? No, I don’t think I understand.

I almost started writing about my fascination with passing time, but I’ve written on that subject before, plus my mood just shifted in the last five minutes. I no longer have it in me to get into a really deep philosophical place. I’d prefer to start drinking wine and enjoying this beautiful weekend. With that shift in moods, now I’ll just list all the things I really want for my birthday- but the things I’m positive every person wants for their birthdays, too. The things in this world that really matter. Sorry I’m not sorry for another list. Maybe I’m going through a phase…? It’ll end soon, just like that time I enjoyed rum and cokes in college.

1. I want world peace. This isn’t a joke. I really wish everyone in the world would just get along, but that would mean the end of all cultural suppression and religion-driven violence, so I may have to hold out for a few more years never.

2.  I want someone to love me a crazy amount whom I also love a crazy amount (the lover kind of love, to be clear). This isn’t a sad or cliché desire (okay, maybe really cliché), but just the truth. If you don’t want this, you are a robot and/or should see a psychiatrist.

3. I want calorie-free cheese that tastes like the real stuff.

4. I want to be able to teleport to see all of my friends, no matter where they live, whenever I want.

5. I want to do what I love for money, or love what I do for money, whichever comes first.

6. I want to take a trip that changes the way I see the world, like the time I went dog sledding for 8 days or when I worked at the AIDS home in India. Every once in a while, it’s good to remember that the world is bigger than complicated relationships and Chipotle lines.

7. I want to laugh until I cry at least every other day.

8. I want to be able to dance and it look cool.

9. I want a back rub.

10. I want someone to cure cancer.

11. I want my new friends to become old friends.

12. I want to never, ever grow apart from my family.

13. I want people to be nicer drivers.

I chose 13 things because it’s half of 26 (in case you already forgot, that’s how old I’m turning). And because people are more drawn to odd numbers than to even numbers. And because the next thing I was going to write was that I want Hogwarts to be real, so I figured I should just stop while I’m ahead.

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Never/Always: Food Edition

I know that lists are a lazy man’s blog post, but hey, we all get lazy. Lists won’t hurt anyone as long as no one forgets how to write a complete sentence at the end of the day. With that in mind, I have decided to start a new little installment of Generation grannY: The “Never/Always” series. My first edition will revolve around my favorite subject: food.

11 Foods on which I’ll NEVER Waste the Calories 

11 Foods on which I’ll ALWAYS Waste the Calories

Inevitably, you will not agree with all of these, but try not to get too offended. Also, if you agree with 100% of these and are a male between the ages of 25-35, please send me your phone number on the “Contact Me” page because we might be soul mates.

NEVER:

1. Macaroons. If I wanted something light and airy, I’d eat lettuce.

2. The tortilla at Chipotle. 300 calories just for the tortilla? Pass. Bowl please.

3. Heavy dressing. This makes a salad contain more calories than a burger. I’ll take the burger.

4. Twizzlers. I might as well go to the nearest playground and gnaw on the red slide.

5. Microwavable mac and cheese. Call me a mac and cheese snob if you want. Not offended.

6. Tough bread. Sure, I might burn calories just trying to tear it apart with my teeth, but still.

7. Generic ice cream. Unless it’s Ben & Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, or something reputable, it tastes like one big scoop of freezer burn.

8. Pretzels. I’m not even going to get into why. If you don’t understand, I can’t help you.

9. Raisins. Did you know that those tiny boxes have 130 calories? I’d rather have a cookie, thank you.

10. Mayonnaise. As great as a jar full of undisguised, white fat sounds…

11. Big, corporate muffins. 4-600 calories in your average blueberry muffin. Um.

muffin

ALWAYS:

1. Guacamole. Every day. No limit.

2. Peanut butter. In ice cream. On my banana. Straight from the jar. Any way you serve it, I’ll take it.

3. Meat. What can I say? Surf and turf, I like it all (well, not ALL- I’m not a sicko who eats horse).

4. Cheese and crackers. Brie. Gouda. Cheddar. Havarti. Pepper Jack. Muenster. I need to stop before I salivate on my computer.

5. Curry. If there’s Thai or Indian curry in the vicinity, count me in with a giant bowl of white rice.

6. Good chocolate. Sorry, Hershey’s, but you belong in list #1. Dove, you’ve stolen my heart (and my waist line).

7. Sushi. Piles and piles of sushi. You’re looking at about 300-500 calories per roll, but I’ll take a whole boat.

8. Focaccia bread. It’s like pizza, but makes you feel dainty and not quite as gluttonous.

9. Wedding cake. It’s a party and sometimes wedding cake tastes like love.

10. Mashed potatoes. A mountain of comfort.

11. French fries. YOLO.

fries

 

Happy eating, all!!

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I <3 Mindy Kaling Because She’s Not A Poser

I like people who know who they are. Not that I’m entirely sure what “knowing who you are” really means, but basically, I enjoy people who aren’t posers. Yes, I just used the word “poser,” which should be used exclusively by skateboarders and middle school mean girls. What I’m trying to say is that people who choose hobbies, outfits, or basic personalities based on wanting to impress someone else are usually boring and/or scary. You never know what they really prefer, think, or desire, which leads me to believe that they’re secretly masochists or closet Justin Bieber fanatics. I don’t know which one is more terrifying.

This is why I am such a huge fan of Mindy Kaling.

[I’m pretty sure that read as a very awkward transition, but bear with me.]

Writing is an art. And, in case you’ve never compared exhibitions in the New Museum to the statue of David, art comes in many forms. I know people who love writing novels, scientific journals, poems, news stories, scripts, blogs (oh, hi), and even some weirdos who enjoy technical writing (pardon- what is wrong with you?). Though most great writers are capable of writing any aforementioned literatures, everyone tends to find their niche. They eventually embrace what comes most naturally. This does not mean that serious academic authors are more brilliant than the writers of Saturday Night Live, rather the two create different kinds of brilliance. At no point is either trying to impress the demographic of the other. They “know who they are” when it comes to their written craft.

Which leads me back to Mindy Kaling.

mindy kaling

Mindy keeps it real and stays positive.

Mindy is definitely not a poser. In case you live the sad, lonely life of a curmudgeon, let me familiarize you with Ms. Kaling. She is a comedic writer and actress who has written for SNL, The Office, The Mindy Project, and a long list of other television shows/movies that I don’t feel like looking up. She’s also a director and producer and basically the funniest woman I’ve never met. Mindy knows who she is professionally and is my source of inspiration when the occasional killjoy tells me that I should compose more “serious” pieces for my blog. The biggest compliments I’ve ever received were the multiple texts over the last few years saying that I remind so-and-so of Mindy Kaling. These compliments even trump the one night when three separate individuals told me that I look like Kate Middleton (let’s ignore the obvious fact that it’s not true), which says a lot.

I’ve mentioned Mindy’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) on my blog before, so the fact that I’m going to quote it now should come as no surprise. In the introduction, she writes:

“This book will take you two days to read. Did you even see the cover? It’s mostly pink. If you’re reading this book every night for months, something is not right.”

Also this:

“There are many teenage vampire books you could have purchased instead. I’m grateful you made this choice.”

She knows her voice, knows her audience, and embraces it. I hope to emulate that confidence as a writer, even if it means that the odds of making a lot of money with my writing are slim to none. Still, why don’t enough of us take that general approach in life? We’re told that certain college majors or careers or clothing brands are better than others, but how about taking pride (and even humor) in our preferences and talents while not judging people for theirs? Apples and oranges, people. We all bring something different to this world, so whether it’s your writing style, odd hobby, bar preference, or favorite band, be confident in what you like and what you bring to the table. Keep in mind, the world wouldn’t be the same without Thomas Edison and Captain Hanson Gregory (brilliant inventor- click the link).

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Afternoon Delight

This is about to be a seriously Generation grannY post. Heavy on the granny. You’ve been forewarned.

cover your eyes

My basic reaction to sex scenes.

Can someone please explain to me when it became the social norm to talk about sex on the news as though it’s as casual as discussing healthy lunch options? Or why no one seems at all uncomfortable seeing endless boobs and explicit sex scenes on HBO shows (coughGOTcough)? I don’t think I’m a major prude or anything, but there’s no way that I’m the only one who would just rather not watch two people bump dirties. Or listen to news anchors discuss why “no one wants a car with miles on it.”

As seen by the fact that I have this blog, I am not the most private person in the world. I’d like to think that I successfully walk the fine line of sharing enough to make my writing interesting, but not divulging the kind of information I tell my girlfriends over copious amounts of wine. You guys really don’t need to know the inner workings of my relationships or what I wear to bed. With that in mind, I don’t understand why sex has gone from a private affair to something people do and discuss publicly.

This is not a slut-shaming post. I am not stating my beliefs about sex in terms of right vs. wrong, mostly because people are not going to change their minds about having sex just because someone tells them they shouldn’t. This includes with who, how often, and in what stage of life. People are going to do what they want based on what they believe, so I won’t waste my breath in explaining how I feel about that can of worms.

Instead, I just want to say that I wish sex was still something that held some sort of intimate mystery. Today, I watched a national news show with a panel of three women and two men who reported that Wednesdays are the most common days for marital unfaithfulness. Hump day. Pun intended. The anchor reading the prompter was clearly embarrassed when she was apparently instructed to sing a little ditty from “Afternoon Delight” before revealing the percentage of men and women who have affairs during their lunch breaks. I don’t think she was embarrassed because of the singing. It was almost like she was surprised at what she was reporting as the words unraveled. I could pretty much read her thoughts: Am I really having to discuss daytime sex? Now I’m immediately picturing daytime sex because that’s what people do as soon as you say ‘sex.’ Now I’m turning red. Stay professional. To make matters worse, the anchors all started asking each other what they thought about the fact that X% of men say they cheat because they want to try different sex positions and X% of women cheat because they want to remember that they’re desirable. After playing a game of verbal hot potato, the same anchor who sang “Afternoon Delight” cleared her throat and said, “Today, the Taliban released a video…” SMOOTH transition.

I felt bad for these talking heads. Sure, they’re supposed to be able to talk about any topic and remain professional, but did sex statistics really need to be thrown in there between stories on the Bergdahl hearing and the VA scandal? I felt like this was the news version of when sex scenes are thrown into Game of Thrones right after the audience has to sit through a boring conversation between yawn-status Stannis Baratheon and that god-awful fire lady. Like producers went, “Here, look at these two naked people because we’re sorry that you had to sit through that. Please stay interested!” No! Just cut to what happens to my boo Tyrion Lannister, please. Similarly, when it comes to the news, if you want a light break from politics, just report an interesting story. Tell me about the 91-year-old who just ran the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon or about the Japanese clothing company that uses “fat” as a sizing label (WHAT).

The blatant discomfort of these news anchors wasn’t unwarranted. Sex is meant to be a meaningful, private deed, so of course it’s natural to flush when speaking of it so nonchalantly. These days, people tell you you’re close-minded or immature if you can’t have an open conversation about sex or if you get all squirmy during steamy scenes, but I refuse to feel like something is wrong with me- or those anchors- for wanting to keep sex talk/acts to a public minimum. Privately, steam it up. With your friends, divulge as much detail as your little heart desires. But on the news, report legitimate stories- which can even include sex if it’s about the alleged prostitution ring at Fort Hood or the Queens high school teacher who slept with her student. Just keep a little dignity by reporting an actual story, not creating a discussion about Afternoon Delight and the need to try new positions. Or on TV shows, at least leave a little to the imagination. The more we dumb down sex into something that is casual and undervalued, the more our real-life sex lives will become undervalued and subsequently suffer. I’m pretty sure nobody wants that.

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The 3 Stages of Summer for the Average White Girl

In case you haven’t heard, I don’t have seductive olive skin. I am not 10% Greek, Italian, Brazilian, Native American, or any other ethnicity that would allow me to subtly develop an even summer tan after a few casual barbeques. My ancestors LITERALLY took the Mayflower over to this here ‘Merica. We’re talking straight up milky-English heritage. Maybe a little Irish on my dad’s side. Basically, my skin was made for hiding under prairie dresses and parasols, not for high-definition exposure in a bra and underwear bikini.parasol

I’m not saying that my reflective hue is less attractive than Jessica Alba’s honey complexion. This is the skin I was given and I have learned to accept love it. I can go for the white skin, dark hair, blue-eyed vampire look in the winter months, and we know that’s all the rage right now. Not complaining.

But winter is coming over [new GOT addict here] and now I’ve got to face the three stages of every average white girl in summertime. Shall we begin?

Stage 1: Omigod I have to put on shorts

michael phelps

Look at those bitty legs.

The transition from safe, stretchy skinny jeans to the worst creation in fashion history- shorts- is sudden, painful, and almost unethical. There really is no preparing oneself. Every single year, I think to myself, How was I ever okay wearing these hot pants last summer? I’m strictly wearing flowy sundresses this year, thankyouverymuch. Shorts are never flattering. Either they expose skin that should only be seen under dim lights on your wedding night, or they cut off your legs in a way that makes your proportions look like a bad version of Michael Phelps (see photo). Not to mention, the suckers ride up and inevitably draw attention to, um, crevices. It’s just bad. At some point each year, we somehow get used to seeing everyone else’s cellulite flapping about and become much more comfortable letting our own pasty limbs fly free, but the initial closet changeover during the month of May never becomes less shocking.

Stage 2: Does this shirt match my shade of red?

Sometime in June, we experience the season’s first sunburn. The average white girl has two options: stay ghostly pale and constantly smell like Banana Boat, or face two weeks of people pointing out that you have a sunburn (Really?? I hadn’t noticed that rolling over at night feels like bathing in a tub of hot coals) so that you can come out on the other side with a little bit of summer dignity color. I do not condone purposeful sunburns. I repeat, I do not condone purposeful sunburns. At least put on SPF 30. Lobster red won’t do anything for your future tan except peel you back to square one. However, the reddish tint confirming your first date with Mr. Sun is pretty much unavoidable on the quest to look good in white before Labor Day.

Stage 3: I know, I know, I look super exotic

No matter how tan we get by August (finally!), we will never hide the fact that we are about as exotic as a whitetail deer. But reaching a shade that is more brown than peach is enough for us! Just call me Sophia Vergara. Mila Kunis. Eva Longoria. Take your pick. Should a tan really make me any more confident? Nope. Does it? Yep. I’m socializing as much as humanly possible during this short-lived bronze goddess stage because the opportunity to look good in pictures sans-filter only comes around once a year. The journey was long, the sacrifices unpleasant, but we did not give up. Time to celebrate!

<disclaimer below>

Listen, if you want to rock the translucent look, I am not here to tell you that you aren’t gorgeous just the way that you are. I also totally understand that sunshine+skin=wrinkles. Notice that I told you to wear at least SPF 30. I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m suggesting that skin cancer is worth a month’s worth of impersonating Baywatch lifeguards. I’m simply spelling out the three stages of summer for the average white girl. They’re real. And the 2014 cycle has begun.

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Office Barbie

Facebook is a virtual town that we visit to be simultaneously informed, amused, and annoyed out of our freaking minds. I’d say it’s a 33%, 33%, 34% split, respectively.

treat yoself gif

My favorite gif as of late. I watch it whenever I give in to buying a wheel of brie. #treatyoself

I like Facebook. It tells me when my friends’ birthdays are so that I don’t look like a beyotch, forces me to keep up my basic hygiene because at any moment I might be documented and judged displayed, and entertains me with funny articles and gifs. But it also reveals the ugly truth that a large portion of people have the social prowess of a mosquito. An indiscreet mosquito. You know- the kind that’s not quite smart enough to land without you feeling it. The good news is that at least this way, you can squish it to smithereens brush it off (i.e. unfollow someone’s news feed), but the bad news is that you can be almost certain that another one is going to come along.

Basic oversharing is obnoxious, yes. I don’t want to know that you have an inexplicable rash on your inner thigh or that you’ve been hit with severe depression since giving birth. I’m not saying those things aren’t valid issues in your life, but work through them with your close friends and family (or just keep it between you and the bottle of Cortizone). Vaguebooking is the worst, too. Don’t say “The most amazing thing happened to me today!” or “Sometimes it feels like it just isn’t worth it…” Just stop. I would care more about your story if you just said it. Now I hate your story. It’s the worst story ever.

Oversharing and vaguebooking are commonly discussed Facebook faux pas, but how about statuses that actually harm the reputation of your entire gender, race, religion, etc.? Those annoy me the most. Some of them might seem harmless to the naked eye, but can be legitimately detrimental to society if you look at the overarching tone.

I want to talk about one particular type of status that inconspicuously feeds a real social issue. That is, the female-who-got-a-job pull upsstatus. Ladies, what makes you think that you’ll ever be taken seriously in the work force if you refer to your job as a “big girl job”? Have you ever seen a guy exclaim “I just got my first big boy job!”? Probably not. Men don’t belittle their careers by associating them with pull-up undies. Mommy, wow! I’m a big kid now. That doesn’t exactly scream “future CEO.” Women tend to share their achievements on social media more often- fine- but how we share them is the real problem. If we expect to be given the same respect and opportunities as men, we need to treat our accomplishments with the same respect.

This goes beyond the “big girl job” issue. Asking for prayers and good vibes about job interviews on Facebook might seem harmless, but it also reveals your vulnerability. Vulnerability is great in many aspects of life, but when it’s about a possible job opportunity, it translates to insecurity. Ask for prayers or what not in private all you want (highly recommended, actually), but walking your Facebook friends through every step of the interview process is not the way to present yourself as a capable and confident professional woman. On the contrary, expressing your career-building hopes and fears only makes you look weak- not humble. Men feel plenty of anxiety about progressing their careers- trust me- but they know to keep that dialogue among a small, trusted group. Right or wrong, the appearance of confidence matters just as much as confidence itself when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder. If you’re new to a city and want to put up a “Hey- anyone hiring in DC?” status, that’s fine (no shame- that’s how I ended up with a lot of job leads when I moved). But don’t make it a long ordeal about finding your place in the world. And once the interviews begin, let it pan out until you can put up a status that says “Proud to say I’m the newest donut flavor taster at Krispy Kreme!” [Note: Not “I got my first big girl job- and it’s awesome because I get to taste donuts!” or “Finding out tomorrow if I get this Krispy Kreme job! Keep me in your thoughts.”]

One more thing. Don’t put up pictures of your interview outfits or your first day of work outfit (unless you’re one of the office barbie3,000,000,000 fashion bloggers out there who consistently puts up your OOTD on a web page of some sort). Women make it seem that they are not focused on the most important thing- THE JOB- if posting their cute business casual outfit was the priority of their morning. You are not Office Barbie. You are a professional, working woman. Dress cute if you want to, but don’t make that the focus. For the sake of woman-kind.

Was I too harsh? Eh, you’ll be fine. But I think it’s fair to assume that I need a glass of wine this evening.

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God Is Good. All The Time.

Religion is a touchy (and huge) subject. We fear dissention, judgment, defensiveness, and all other negative reactions to or consequences of stating a belief that alienates other ideologies. Shake all that weirdness off your back before continuing to read this post, because I am about to address my personal experiences with God, church, and Christians I’ve encountered.

Christianity has been the most directly influential part of my life, but I rarely speak- much less write- about it. Why? Because my crossjourney has been unconventional, extreme, painful, negative, and at points, embarrassing.  It has also been positive, lifesaving, comforting, and uplifting. I’ve never wanted to speak of what I’ve been through because much of it revolves around mistreatment and poor leadership from the church in which I was raised. Talking about what happened in that church doesn’t sit well with me because I in no way think that the large majority of members harbor poor intentions, controlling tendencies, or mean spirits. I also don’t want my story to reflect poorly on God, in whom I fully believe and trust. Whether you’re reading this as a member of the church to which I refer, an ex-member, or have no idea what I’m talking about, I hope you keep in mind that my intentions are not to blanket an entire congregation.

Legalism seeps into organized religion because churches are made up of people. And people are inherently sinful. We mess up. We are not perfect. We easily become prideful, hypocritical, and selfish. For Christians, this is the whole reason Jesus existed- to nullify the unavoidable sins of human nature. Why are we surprised that churches make mistakes and at times hurt their members? After all, a church is nothing more than a body of individuals- and no individual, even a church leader, is exempt from poor choices.

I grew up in a nondenominational church my mother joined in 1991. The church was an international, evangelical movement with radical practices to ensure that its members followed the Bible’s commands. With what I am positive started with the honest objective to separate themselves from “Sunday Christians,” my church quickly lost sight of grace and love. Instead, deeds and rules became the focus.  Many of the members wanted nothing more than to love God and humbly live for Him, but a culture of extreme accountability, harsh rebukes, and guilt-driven requirements led to the suppression of those good intentions.

I went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, bible talk on Mondays, and devotionals on Fridays. I met with my discipler (a person older in the faith assigned for accountability and mentorship) once a week. I participated in prayer groups, bible studies, quiet times and everything in between. If I befriended anyone outside of the church, I was told that I was being sinful unless I convinced them to join our church. Dating was to be only within the church, given permission from leaders. I had a dress code that included t-shirts and shorts at the beach, was constantly hounded to confess things that I did not necessarily feel or do, and felt pressured to alienate myself from anyone not within the church. These constraints and expectations were intended to keep us away from temptation, but only fueled people-pleasing, rather than God-pleasing, tendencies. I wanted so badly to delight God- truly- and was trained to do so by adhering to mandates of church leaders.

My mother never succumbed to raising me with a controlling hand, so none of these rules were of her making. My father was not part of the church, so naturally he did not enforce (or support) the legalism either. Eventually, my mom chose to leave the church in order to marry my stepdad- a man of extraordinary faith who the church did not permit my mom to marry since he was not baptized within their congregation. Her faith was not shaken by breaking ties with a man-made church, but my brother and I continued to attend since neither of us wanted to lose the world in which we lived and found comfort. After all, we distinctly separated ourselves from “the world” (non-members), so leaving the church would mean finding ourselves in unfamiliar, vast territory. My mother did not want that anxiety placed on us, knowing that the fragile teenage psyche could be easily devastated if rejected by the only community it’s ever known. Thus, she let us forge our own spiritual paths with God and this church, trusting in Him in a way I never appreciated until years and years later.

My older brother left the church after his first year in college. A rising senior in high school, I was told over and over how “strong” I was for being the only one in my family “left.” People who leave church are called “fall-aways”- and I was surrounded by them. Towards the end of my senior year, I remember telling my discipler that I wanted to move to NYC to pursue musical theatre, but was met with disapproval since my career passion was “too self-indulgent.” Mind you, a brilliant friend of mine in the church at the time wanted to go to medical school, but was told to pursue a less demanding academic track so that he could be trained for church leadership instead. Anything that was not about the church was considered wrong. Following the advice of church leaders, I accepted my admission to Christopher Newport University and focused on how I could best serve God through the campus ministry.

The summer before my freshman year at CNU, I was being rebuked for something I had done wrong (admittedly…after all, I was 18 and human), and for the first time, felt a twinge of “wait…is this actually how I should be treated right now?” The woman verbally punishing me for my sin asked “What do you think about all of this?” when she finished her spiel. I said, “I know that you’re telling me this out of love, and I just want to repent.” I meant it. I vividly remember her saying, “You know what, Shannon? I don’t even know if I’m doing this out of love. But I’m doing it because it’s right.”

Wait, what?

I chalked my initial offense at this statement up to the fact that I was being prideful. I had sinned, so who was I to focus on someone else- particularly my spiritual superior- doing something wrong towards me?

Despite other small instances nagging the back of my mind (ex: being told not to sing my prayers as I enjoyed doing because that relied too much on loving the sound of my own voice…here I was thinking I was given my voice to praise Him…?), I entered my freshman year with a strong desire to become a campus leader and bring as many people to the church as possible. A few months into my first semester, I met a sophomore guy who, well, I liked. I invited him to church and he became a member, but we secretly started dating since the church did not approve of our relationship (he was “too young of a Christian”). The lying and deceit to keep our relationship under wraps only spiraled into more and more sin until I couldn’t take the double life any longer. Just when we were on the brink of being exposed (my best friend had a hunch that something was going on), he and I confessed to everything.

It escalated quickly.

First, we were instructed to have no contact whatsoever until the church decided how they would handle the situation. In my boyfriend’s case, they called into question whether or not his conversion was legitimate. For me, they had to decide if I would be “disfellowshipped” (excommunicated from the church) since this was not my first offense. For two weeks following our confession, I met with leaders to be rebuked, questioned, and challenged. Leadership decided to tell the entire church body of my transgressions (based on Matthew 18:15). When reading that scripture, keep in mind that I still wanted to live for God and most definitely was listening to the church. But that’s a different matter.

I sat in front of everyone I knew as the leader behind the pulpit called me out by name and said that I’d been “immoral.” Immoral=had sex. Me in the audience=virgin. I swallowed the blow and decided it didn’t matter since only God was important. I needed to be humbled in front of the church. This was good for me. A few days later, I sat in a room in CNU’s Student Union and listened to a leader tell me over and over how stupid I was. “Shannon, you’re just stupid! You don’t lie and have a secret relationship unless you’re stupid. It’s one of the stupidest things anyone can do. You are stupid!” Super productive language. Among the countless meetings, only two or three people showed me any love or compassion.

Three weeks after the initial confession and plenty more cases of harsh guidance, my (ex?) boyfriend texted me to simply say that he was having a hard time. I didn’t know what he had been experiencing in those three weeks, but I figured if it was anything close to what I had, he must be pretty low. Without thinking, I responded “I’m really sorry.” After I pushed send, it hit me that I’d have to lie about sending that text if I didn’t want to be disfellowshipped. The whole point of confessing was because I didn’t want to lie anymore. I had one of two choices: Leave by force or leave on my own.

I wrote a letter to my roommate (a church member) and to the campus leader, then left town for the weekend, not wanting to be around for the reaction. I received emails and voicemails saying, “We know you’re with [ex-now new-boyfriend]. What is wrong with you?” along with an array other choice words. When I returned to campus on Sunday night, my roommate had moved out since she could no longer associate with me. A fall-away. I’d known her since I was eight.

Within the next few days, the only people I had ever been close to in life defriended me on Facebook. I later found out that a random married man in the church who I barely knew had messaged everyone on Facebook telling them to defriend me. Why did he care so much? Honestly, as I look back, it kind of creeps me out. Anyways, on top of losing all of my friends, I was scared of God. For nearly a year, I was convinced that a mailbox next to me would explode and I’d die and go to Hell. I thought that God hated me for leaving His church. I believed everything the church had taught me about fall-aways- and now I was one of them. Unlike many people who leave the church, I did not lose faith in God. I believed in Him. I just thought I was going to suffer eternally.

The members of the church sure didn’t help that notion. Ten days after I left was the Virginia Tech massacre. My ex-discipler- a campus leader and pastor’s daughter- texted me to say that it could have been at CNU, it could have been me, and I would have gone to Hell. I was terrified.

My boyfriend and I stayed together for about two years after leaving the church. I joined a sorority and an all-female a cappella group in order to develop new friendships. The women I met in those organizations showed me more unconditional love than I’d been taught in the 15 years I attended the church. I could trust that they weren’t talking about me behind my back under the pretense of “how Shannon is doing spiritually,” I knew they’d love me even if I left their organizations, and they forgave me for all of the things I did wrong.

Time went on and I became less fearful, but I also bottled-up a lot of my turmoil surrounding how I’d ever feel loved by God again.  I chose not to think about Him because I figured my demise in Hell was inevitable unless I returned to the church- and I simply did not plan to do that. Here and there, people popped up in my life that inspired me to accept God as loving and forgiving rather than jealous and wrathful, but I couldn’t fully get past the fact that these Christians did not belong to THE church…were they just watered-down and emotional followers? I grew up never trusting anyone’s faith outside of the church, so grasping outsiders’ hearts for God was far from easy.

After six years of no involvement with any sort of fellowship, my mother’s battle with cancer brought God right back to the forefront of my mind. Her faith during her five month ordeal was extraordinary. No one in the room with her during those last few weeks could deny God’s existence. Even my family members who were agnostic or atheist started believing in God because of the Holy Spirit that surrounded her. Awe-inspiring does not begin to cover it. Though my faith had never completely disappeared, I could no longer live without addressing it. When I held my mom’s hand as she passed away, my first thought was that she was meeting God at that very moment. How could that kind of comfort be ignored?

Over the last year and a half, I’ve slowly but surely refocused my life around God. It did not happen overnight, and I most certainly do not consider myself a “strong Christian.” But maybe that’s a term from my past that needs to stay in my past. I am a Christian. Period. I believe in God, strive to live within His will, and trust in the sacrifice of Jesus to cover over my multitude of sins. Mul. Ti. Tude. That’s for sure. I do not take advantage of His sacrifice, but in accepting my need for it, I think I fully understand its magnitude more so now than ever before. I know that my deeds are not what save me- it’s Jesus and my faith in Him. Yes, my deeds should reflect my faith, but that does not mean that I’ll never give into temptation or that I need to self-loath if I do. As my new spiritual mentor (dare I say…discipler?) recently explained to me- I am as pure as snow in God’s eyes each moment I repent and ask for his forgiveness. It’s as simple as that [snap!]. Again- this is not something of which to take advantage, but a concept that demonstrates how open God is to accepting our love and showering us with his own.

I am grateful for my time in “the church.” In it, I developed the foundation for my faith, learned the scriptures, stayed out of way more trouble as a teenager than had I been “normal,” and made amazing memories with people I still care deeply about. One of my best friends is still a member- she even had me in her wedding despite some protests from members who disapproved. I’m telling you, many affiliates of the church are wonderful, Godly people. Most importantly, I absolutely know that my involvement was for the greater good of my relationship with God, and that is something I can and will never regret.

A quick snapshot of my life now: I attend an awesome congregation in Northern Virginia that is full of people with deep beliefs and convictions. A woman whose faith and love reflects that of my mother (that is some high praise!) is my spiritual guide, and I am grateful for her every single day. She never berates or condemns me, but challenges me in areas of my life that she sees need to be more hinged on God. I know that she prays for me and trusts in God to will my actions, not in her own wisdom (though she has a stunning amount). I have friends that are both believers and non-believers, and I love them all equally. I love singing- mostly at karaoke these days- and drinking wine (Jesus turning water to wine is by far my favorite miracle, obviously). Guilt sometimes threatens to plague me, but with each day I pray for God to remind me of His love and grace, that guilt is slowly turning into pure gratefulness. All in all, I’m happy. Not because I give into doing whatever I feel like, but because everything in life has led me to a place where I get to lean on a perfect, loving, and forgiving God who will never leave me or forsake me. And as my mom said in her final hours- He is good. All the time.

god-is-love

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