You’re My Bad Habit

I’m not sure if any of you noticed, but this was the summer of crop tops in Shannyland. For those of you who pushed “Unfollow Shannon” are not friends with me on Facebook or don’t follow my Instagram, let me recap:

CROPS

I’m not embarrassed. I like what I like. Also, are you judging me for repeating tops? Don’t.

You know how people say that we are creatures of habit? I’d like to think that in choosing each weekend summer outfit, I’m just a walking representative of this concept- a concept which takes a huge, yet relatively unacknowledged, role in all of our lives. Consider me a catalyst for thought, one crop top at a time.

Why do we always put our right shoe on first? Why do we park in the same unassigned parking spot every morning? Why do we dry ourselves off after every shower in the exact same way? It’s like a memorized towel dance at this point. I flip it and ruffle it and twist it in strict choreography without even thinking. It’s honestly kind of impressive. Similar to this:

[Watch it! Make the time. It’s worth it.]

The only reason I can come up with for why we are creatures of habit is because if we had to put significant thought into every little detail of our lives, we’d be exhausted. I’m exhausted just deciding what filter to use on Instagram, which bottle of wine to buy, and if I want my soy chai iced or hot. [For those of you who are new to sarcasm, ease up. I’m not that much of a basic betch…though it’s true that September and October are tricky months when it comes to my Starbucks order.] Saving your brain power for necessary decision-making is acceptable, but some habits are worth the effort of breaking- and I don’t just mean picking your nose (ew, you’re gross).

The way we interact with other people is greatly out of habit. Our relational dynamics change from person to person, which is why we turn to some friends when we want a night of laughter, others when we need a good sounding board, and still others when we want to delve into deep conversation. Knowing what to expect from certain personalities and chemistries is only normal, but becomes dangerous when relationships that were once positive dive into a negative spiral.

Most of the time, unhealthy relationships are saved for family and significant others because they are the people to which we are most attached. And attachment gets really sticky (think- something sticks to something else…aka attachment). A lot of times, we become overly sensitive to the behaviors of our family and loved ones, resulting in an extreme lack of patience. Perhaps every time your mother calls, you feel like she’s nagging you to do something, so before you even answer the phone, you get in a snappy mood. Even if she’s just calling to remind you that you’re having dinner on Sunday, you bark back with “Ugh, Mom. I know! I’m not irresponsible like you clearly think I am.” Whoa, there, buddy. She just wanted to remind you because she knows you’re busy, plus she’s looking forward to it. Your habit, however, is to react defensively no matter what comes out of her mouth. Something similar might be the case with a significant other. You get so accustomed to constantly bickering that you don’t remember what that person is like outside of the negative bubble where your relationship currently resides. It’s hard to even recall what it was like when you were flirtatious or fun because the habit of having no patience is so ingrained.

So how do we escape these bad habits with people that we love? Because of how the human brain works, we can only replace old habits with new habits. Heard that phrase before? It doesn’t just apply to eating patterns. (Sorry, but I’m never going to replace french fries with a salad. I’m just not.) In relationships that give us grief, we can’t absentmindedly expect things will just magically change without an intentional plan. A new route. New habits. Mentally prepare yourself for the next time your mother calls. Decide that no matter her tone or topic, you are going to make her feel completely loved. Next time your boyfriend acts uninterested in your day, go make a batch of cookies and silently give him one with a smile on your face. Then call up your girlfriend and talk about something going on in her life instead of telling him how insensitive he is. Do these things every single time you want to react negatively until it becomes a habit. I’m not saying to brush issues under the rug, but perhaps 21 days of forming a new habit on your end will surprise the other person and, in turn, their habits will start to change, as well.

Maybe I know nothing (like Jon Snow…GOT fans, I know you love me right now), but I’ll let you know how well this concept works in 21 days. Or maybe I’ll forget and write another Never/Always series 21 days from now, but I still think changing our own habitual negative reactions to other people can only lead to good things.

You may thank my wardrobe full of crop tops for this insight, along with @ashli_p (Insta) for being the reason I went on a crop top shopping spree in June. Visit her blog. It’ll make you giggle a lot and dress better. http://ashliwithaneye.com/2014/06/17/summer-2014-style-crop-top/

By the way, I wrote a post on a similar topic back when my blog was Shannon’s NYC…those die hard readers may remember. (Hi, Dad and Claire Buffie- I think that’s just you guys) Here it is: Expectations

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Filed under Reflection, Relationships

Do I Know You?

I wonder what it would be like to be Britney Spears.

She’s quite the legend, equally known for being the biggest female pop icon of the century (more so than Madonna? Maybe?) and for shaving her head bald during a mental breakdown. That little display was enough to challenge even Olivia Pope’s PR skills, but here we are seven years out of the crazy hole and Brit Brit is the ultimate comeback kid. Whoever the real life Oliva Pope is- if you’re out there reading this- I commend you. We all commend you.

The extent of my knowledge about Britney includes what I just wrote, along with any facts I learned on her E! True Hollywood Story. Oh, and my ex-boyfriend used to work at a hotel where she stayed and said that she didn’t leave her room in the best condition. She also requested an extra microwave so that she and her possy could heat up their frozen meals simultaneously (at least I assume that is the reason one needs an extra microwave). I’m not going to hate her for that. Can’t say I’ve never been impatient while waiting my turn for the microwave.

I call her by her first name, can tell you about that time she got married in Vegas, and might even feel like I’m in the room with her during televised interviews, but I actually know more about how my roommate’s skittish cat thinks than I do about the inner workings of Britney Spears’ mind. I don’t know the real reason she shaved her head or who her closest friends are or what her favorite Lean Cuisine meal is (again, assuming she eats them because of the microwave thing). I have no idea what she regrets, who broke her heart, or what she thinks about when she’s falling asleep.

Britney Spears is an extreme example of something we all experience. People think that they know you because they follow you on Instagram or heard a story about you from a friend’s ex-boyfriend’s new fling’s coworker. This is flattering and all (or maybe terribly unflattering depending on your life choices), but let’s keep a tighter grasp on reality, shall we? On a regular basis, I bump into a total stranger who gives me a giant hug and gushes “It’s soooo good to see you!” Where am I. How do I know this person. P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney. Bingo. Fabio. Elmo. Nemo?

I’m not saying that I’m super popular or anything. That would be false- just ask the fine folks on my high school prom court or anyone from my freshman year hall. Actually, don’t ask anyone on my freshman hall because I’m pretty sure none of them would recognize my name…unless you mention that I was the girl who had a “no cussing” sign taped above her mirror, strictly wore oversized sweatpants, and hoarded oreo pie from the dining hall. I wasn’t exactly a social butterfly. What was I saying? Right. Although all of us have had strangers exclaim, “Hey! I know you,” I must say that the stranger-hug thing became a much more prevalent part of my life post Miss New York. I’m sure the same goes for anyone who has taken part in a somewhat public activity.

hug

When people think we know each other because they saw me give a speech, heard my name mentioned as “the girl who went to CNU and then became Miss New York,” or simply because they’re pageant fans (which do, in fact, exist), I don’t get annoyed or proud or feel much of anything. Mostly I think it’s kind of funny as I smile and pretend like we’re old friends (once I move past the initial Dory moment of wondering how I’m supposed to know them). On occasion, however, someone will say, “Oh my gosh! What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be off being famous or something?” These scenarios tend to take place in a bar, so I immediately feel a mixture of amusement and embarrassment. Um, nope. I’m just your average 26-year-old trying not to make poor choices. I appreciate the assumption that I have my life all figured out because I guess that means I don’t appear to be in shambles, but we’re dealing with some major life misrepresentations to those who only see me as a former Miss New York.

I’m not going to write a laundry list of things that make my life a little bit of a shambly mess because A) That’s super depressing and B) They’re mostly first-world problems, however the above comments have really set my wheels spinning. On a much smaller scale than Britney Spears (I don’t mean to compare a house cat to a lion…not sure why I keep referring to cats in this post), people who only know me from a distance think they have an idea of who I am. Maybe they have an overly positive view of me, or perhaps they think I’m a stereotypical dumb, catty beauty queen. Who knows? This uncertainty of who people have made me out to be in their heads makes me evaluate my own perception of people I only know through social or mainstream media. This covers everyone from my best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend to Britney Spears. Just because I recognize their faces and know a few facts about their lives doesn’t mean I actually know them at all.

I started thinking about this concept of recognizing someone vs. legitimately knowing them a few weeks ago and have decided that it’s time to wipe my brain clean of opinions I have about people I don’t know. Very few things presented to us in packaged interviews or filtered photographs are reality. Even second hand stories give a one-dimensional impression of a person rather than an all-encompassing understanding of who they really are. In certain circumstances, I’ll take my friends’ warnings or endorsements to heart, but as a whole, I think it’s time we all start forming opinions based on organic, personal interaction. Don’t you think?

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Never/Always: Fear Edition

The time has come for the second edition of my Never/Always series. Go ahead- find out if you’re braver than me. I never claimed to be a Gryffindor. I know who I am, and it’s a Hufflepuff. I’m okay with that. At least I’ll never fear being myself (which is also why I have no shame in opening this blog post with a Harry Potter reference).

11 Things I’ll NEVER Fear

11 Things I’ll ALWAYS Fear

I think I’ll switch things up and start with ALWAYS this time around.

ALWAYS:

1. Sharks. How people get in the ocean without the sinking feeling (no pun intended) that Jaws is stalking their feeble little legs is beyond me. I should point out that this is coming from a girl who was bit by a dolphin. If a shark is in the vicinity, I think we all know who doesn’t have aqua-luck on her side.

shark

2. Taco Bell. Meat or cockroach remains? We’ll never know.

3. Sending an email to the wrong person. Almost every time after I hit send, I have a twelve second panic attack until I hastily check my Sent box to see if I just forwarded that inappropriate Buzzfeed article to my roommate or to my grandmother.

4. Smelling bad. I have perfected the art of smelling myself without anyone noticing. I just need to get a reallyyyy close look at my belt buckle, that’s all.

5. Roller coasters that suspend at the top. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God for forgiveness at the top of the Griffon at Busch Gardens. The only reason I ever went on it is because I worked there and I felt obligated to accompany my friends who sat through listening to me sing “That’s Amore” in white tights and a petticoat.

rollercoaster

6. Windows with no blinds at night. There is absolutely someone watching me on the other side, planning when and how they will kidnap me.

7. A bodily function occurring at inopportune times. First kiss. Staff meeting. Church. What if I make a sharp movement and something goes terribly wrong?

8. A dog not liking me. Every time I meet someone’s dog, I get so scared that it’ll back away from me like I’m a demonic figure, and then my friend/date/whoever will think I’m secretly an evil human.

9. Fruit garnishes. You guys do know how many hands have touched those, right?

10. Putting trash in the dumpster. I partake in the dump and run technique so that I can avoid the raccoon that is probably waiting to pounce on my face.

11. My reflection on Saturday morning. Yeesh.

NEVER:

1. Stale water that gathers bacteria. If I wake up in the middle of the night after a wine binge and the only water next to my bed is in a glass that’s been sitting there untouched for five nights, I rationalize by telling myself that children in Africa would be thrilled for such clean water and proceed to gulp it down.

2. Taking advantage of my pedestrian rights. Maybe it’s because I lived in NYC, but I just glare at whatever car is speeding towards me as I cross the crosswalk and assume my intimidating demeanor will stop them from taking me out.

gliding

3. Public speaking. I know this is one of the most widespread fears out there, but I was blessed/cursed with barely noticing the difference between speaking to a crowd of 500 vs. my best friend on my couch.

4. Haunted houses. I am not talking about haunted houses during Halloween where high school drama kids wear their favorite masks and jump out at you. Those things terrify me. I mean haunted houses that supposedly harbor real ghosts. I don’t think any ghost out there holds anything against me, so I’m not that worried.

5. Garlic. I feel so bad for people who are scared of getting garlic breath. Live a little.

6. Death by chocolate. I’m so clever.

7. Beer before liquor. “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.” Yeah, or maybe just try the age old technique of knowing your limits.

8. Balloons or feet. Because I’m not irrational.

9. Clowns. Why are they scary? Tell me why. I know so many grown adults who lose all composure at the sight of a clown. All I can do is sit and judge you for being scared of a plastic doll or an enthusiastic man in face paint.

clown

10. Commitment. I happen to have a heart.

11. FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Nope. Don’t have it. You guys have fun doing your thing while I take my nap. #granny

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Filed under Humor, Lists, Never/Always

Nobody Falls In Love with Pretty

I can’t keep up with what’s beautiful anymore. Between the campaigns for “real beauty” and the countless beauty product advertisements, I’m getting more mixed signals than L.C. did from Stephen on Laguna Beach (throwing it back in honor of their upcoming ten year reunion). Am I supposed to be more curvy? More toned? Or should I be a little softer since women are made to carry babies? Should I grow my hair long or be that edgy girl with a pixie? Are freckles cute or am I expected to cover them with foundation? And somebody explain to me if a juicy butt is a good thing or a bad thing, because Baby Got Back and All About that Bass have me feeling really confident until I walk into a boutique and they seem to have forgotten 25% of the material needed to complete a pair of shorts. And then there are jeans. Somebody besides Apple Bottom please for the love of all things good and holy learn to design a pair of jeans that a relatively thin white girl like myself can wear if she still has a booty. I face the struggle of back gap* constantly.

*back gap: when your jeans fit over your butt, but since your waist is small, the pants leave a large gap at your lower back where the jeans don’t curve back in with your bod

I got a little carried away in that opening paragraph, but I’m not here to write about how we’re all beautiful in our own, natural, unique way. You’ve already read that article about 6,000 times- and it’s true. But there’s another side to things. I think the reason that I am getting so many mixed signals about beauty is because people don’t want to face something plain and simple: some people are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than others. Just ask little babies who they want to look at for a longer period of time and they’ll tell you the same thing (calm down, I’m not actually suggesting that babies speak). They haven’t been influenced by culture or stereotypes, but according to researchers, babies fixate on pretty faces over- how do I put this lightly- “less pretty” faces. baby stareI don’t know exactly how far apart your eyes need to be or the chin to forehead ratio necessary to be considered beautiful, but we all know pretty when we see it. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you don’t think Halle Berry is an attractive human, then I’ll never be able to trust a word you say.

If you’re upset that I just said that some people are prettier than others, please take ten deep breaths. It’s okay. I urge you to continue reading.

If someone falls under the pretty category, that’s neither here nor there. I mean really- who cares? Yes, this is coming from someone who took part in beauty pageants. I have a lot of really pretty friends thanks to the Miss America Organization, but I am not friends with them because they’ve perfected how to apply lip liner without looking like Bozo the Clown or because they’re featured in WEN hair commercials. Those things are neat and do, in fact, make me fixate on them like a baby when we’re sitting across from each other at a bar, but it’s not why we’re friends. Both in and outside the Miss America Organization, my best and favorite friends are those who make me laugh really hard, listen to me cry, open up about their lives, engage in deep and philosophical conversation, and who stick around when things get ugly. We’re talkin’ a bottle of wine each, pizza sauce on your face, and greasy hair ugly.

popcorn gif

I think we can all agree that our closest friendships have exactly 0% to do with bone structure. Therefore, why in the world do we worry about that when trying to attract a mate? Of course it’s important to shower and look like you give two flips about life, but nobody falls in love with pretty.

Recently, I met a good-looking male who reminded me of this lesson. I won’t say how recently because if this spreads on Facebook, I don’t have time for an unpleasant phone call…so let’s say that “recently” means within the last year. He was your standard looker. Tall, good hair, straight teeth, a nose I can’t remember, and looked like he could run at least a mile without needing medical attention. Solid. The first night we met, I did not need to know if he could carry a conversation because the bar music was so loud that I was happy just bopping along, flashing him the occasional smile, and entertaining myself by developing intricate plans in my head as to how I could get the bartender to give me my next drink for free. The next time we hung out, I was thrilled to find out that he had a cool job, owned a house, and liked dogs, but by the end of the night felt like Fat Amy talking to Bumper Allen in Pitch Perfect. You know, that scene when Bumper says to her, “Soooo, I’m getting the feeling that we should kiss. Are you also getting that feeling?” to which Fat Amy replies, “Sometimes I get the feeling that I can do crystal meth, but then I think, mmm better not.” I’ve watched Pitch Perfect twice this week. I need you to get on my level. Anyways, despite finding him about as interesting as Kristen Stewart, I figured this guy was worth another chance. I refused to believe someone so well-educated, handsome, and seemingly social could be as lame as I’d perceived. I must’ve caught him on an off night. During round two, somewhere between him openly checking out other girls right in front of me, dissing gay people (ahem, that means exactly a quarter of my entire friend group), and then trying to attack my face with his tongue as I swerved left (I think he pretty much licked my right temple), I decided that I should never, ever question my instincts again.

You see, he was pretty, but that made me about as interested as a dog is in a grape. It rolls off the counter and the dog instinctually goes over to it, but after one sniff, says “mmm, better not.” As I look at the wedding and engagement photos flooding my social media accounts, I’ve noticed that there is no correlation between good looks and marriage. I see “less pretty” people marry other “less pretty” people, “less pretty” people marry “pretty” people, and “pretty” people marry “pretty” people. I’m sure all of these couples are attracted to each other on some physical level- at least I would hope so, but I guarantee that most of them became more attracted to one another as they grew emotionally, spiritually, and mentally closer. Physical attraction is crucial (I can’t stand when people say it’s not), however it doesn’t simply mean that you think someone is the second coming of Chris Hemsworth or Heidi Klum upon first glance. I wouldn’t be mad at ALL if I end up with a Chris Hemsworth clone, but the point is that in a culture that talks so much about beauty, we need to remember that it holds no importance when it comes to finding love. Love runs a lot deeper than a perfectly executed cat eye, toned and tanned legs, or a flawless fitted tee/jean combo. It’s an inexplicable connection, dedication over time, and a shared desire to eat a ton of sushi always lift up the other person. So instead of spending so much energy improving and talking about looks, perhaps we should channel that energy into bettering ourselves so that when Mr./Miss Right does come around, we’re the kind of person they’ve been hoping for, too. One of my favorite pieces of advice is Be the person whom the person you want to end up with would want. Working on yourself is different than changing yourself, and I highly recommend it! Because, let me repeat, nobody falls in love with pretty.

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Filed under Reflection, Relationships

Square Peg, Round Hole

Yesterday, I read an entire book in one sitting. No, it wasn’t Where’s Waldo or Are You My Mother?, though it’s been too long since I’ve had a good Where’s Waldo challenge. Anyways, with my toes burrowed in the sand, the waves rolling dangerously close to my chair, and the sun wreaking havoc on my shoulders, I read a respectable 200+ page account of a fashion blogger’s life-altering accident when hit by a plane propeller. Her name is Lauren Scruggs, popularly known as LoLo. You may have seen her story on the news back in 2011, when the world became fascinated by how someone entrenched in an appearance-driven industry could exude such incredible positivity in readjusting to life without a left eye or hand.

Lauren "LoLo" Scruggs post-accident

Lauren “LoLo” Scruggs post-accident

I’ll admit, I’d vaguely heard her story and was under the impression that she was a jet-setting model who somehow walked into a propeller while exiting a luxurious private airplane. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a jet-setting model, but it’s ridiculous how the media misconstrues things about a person’s personality or circumstances. Lauren is not a dumb blonde super model who casually strolled into a plane propeller with a Louis Vuitton bag in tow. No, she is a young writer and entrepreneur in the fashion industry who was taking a joy ride in a family friend’s tiny two seater. She used the wheel as a stepping block to exit the plane, which landed her right at the front of the aircraft- near the propeller. When plane propellers are in motion, they spin so quickly that they are pretty much invisible, given that you can see right through them. Add that to dark, rainy conditions, and any one of us could have walked around the plane and not seen the edge of a propeller. Only 1/16th of an inch of metal hit Lauren, but her skull cracked and lodged into her brain, her hand was completely severed, and her left eye was split in two- among other crushing injuries. In her book, Still LoLo, she describes her life up until that point and how her faith in God prepared her to keep moving forward in the most incomprehensible circumstance.

Along with every other human being on the planet, I have experienced ups and downs in life. What I’ve found is that ups and downs don’t necessarily reflect the difficulty of circumstances, rather the mental state in which I’m capable of coping with whatever hardship I face. People would probably assume that the hardest thing I’ve ever coped with is losing my mom to cancer. Oddly enough, that’s not the case. Yes, losing a parent is an overwhelming experience that never fully ends, but for the first few months, I only cried about once every other month. Thanks to the support and closeness of my last relationship, I now allow myself to truly miss my mom about once a week. It’s a bit tiring, but therapeutic to be in a space that I’m not brushing over any thoughts fear of being sad.  Although dealing with that loss is far from easy, my ability to cope has been made easier by my mom’s faith and the concrete separation- knowing there is nothing I can possibly do to get her back. What leads me to my lowest valleys, even more so than dealing with my mom’s death, is losing people who are still here. Whether it’s a break up or natural growth away from close friends, I am not mentally capable of handling those partings as healthily (even though they’re not “technically” has devastating). If I’ve loved someone- friend or otherwise- I’ll always love them. I have never had a falling out with a friend or held a grudge towards an ex. This, in theory, is great- but also makes it difficult process why certain people can only be part of my life for a season. I want to love everyone forever! Each time I have to accept that a friendship/relationship is no longer what it once was, I become profoundly upset- even angry. Why do we become so close to other people, only to wake up one day and barely know them? What’s the point? And why would God bring people into your life, only to take them away?

These questions may garner cliché responses like “Everything happens for a reason” or “You learn lessons from each person who comes in and out of your life.” Those things are probably true, but Still LoLo helped me remember that sometimes the surest way to peace is accepting that we’ll never fully understand why hardships are placed upon us or why we handle certain struggles better than others. Part of Lauren’s story was written by her parents, who were married for 10 years, divorced for 7, then remarried to each other. Reading about their divorce and remarriage reminded me that although things may certainly feel devastating at the time, God is great enough to bring people back together in the most unforeseeable ways. Aside from her parents’ story, I was so enthralled by Lauren, who is my age exactly, as she walked readers through the insecurities and questions that came with her new disabilities. She only kept moving forward because of her faith-based support group, comprised of people who constantly led her back to trusting God. Sometimes I plainly don’t like trusting Him because his rhyme and reason is rarely made clear in this lifetime. How frustrating. My friends and family know that nothing rattles me more than not understanding something. I’d rather keep thrusting my square-shaped plan that makes sense in my head into the circular hole that is my life’s path, instead of patiently waiting for God’s circular plan and my circular path to come together nicely.

For the past three months, I have been so frustrated with not understanding circumstances that I have blatantly been shoving my square peg into a round hole, thinking that at least that’s better than blindly sitting around wondering when God is going to do his big, bad thing. But the whole essence of faith is not understanding, and trusting anyway. I’ve gone through enough questioning to know that I definitely believe in God, so it’s about time I stop getting mad that my beliefs require me to be okay with not understanding. That’ll just be endlessly exhausting. I can either decide that God must not exist (which I’ve tried but, sorry, I’ve concluded that he does), or just “let go and let God.” I know I’ll never be really good at the latter, but thanks to a great beach read, I’m back on the right track. And hopefully, this blog will help you get there, too!

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10 Reasons Why Nashville is the Ultimate Bachelorette Destination

If you’re a generally friendly person, you’ll likely attend your fair share of bachelorette parties over the years. I suggest opening a separate bank account right now so that you don’t miss out in the future, because friends get engaged in bulk. Trust me. Some brides might want you to travel to another country to celebrate their upcoming nuptials (yeah okay- have fun while I pay rent), while some may hold the shindig right in your backyard, but I think we can all agree that it isn’t about where you are, rather who you’re with.

Being somewhere really fun doesn’t hurt though…

Maybe it was the live music on every corner, the endless billboards of my girl crush Carrie Underwood, or simply the sweet smell of summertime (holy alliteration), but Nashville, TN just catipulted to #1 on my list of favorite bachelorette party locations. Supported with personal photo evidence from this past weekend, here are a few reasons why you may want to convince your engaged friends to hold their final fling in this crazy town full of neon dreams and a whole lot of honky tonk badonkadonk:

1. You’ll probably end up hanging out with a guy who looks like this and also casually speaks four languages.

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Do yourself a favor and Google Ron Worrell. Do yourself another favor and join the 21st century by watching The Bachelorette.

2. And he’ll probably have a friend who looks exactly like Ryan Gosling.

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Fear not, their outfits were costumes- not serious wardrobe choices.

3. And the Ryan Gosling look alike might fall in love with one of the girls in your party, then show up at the airport with flowers to find her the next morning.

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You guys. This is real. It happened.

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4. You’ll also probably run into these gems.

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5. Odds are you’ll see a child prodigy, because parents in Nashville let their talented 10-year-olds sing way past their bedtimes for bars packed with enthusiastic drunks. #dreambig

This is the cutie we got to see tear down the house- Marisa McKaye. You should probably YouTube her.

This is the cutie we got to see tear down the house- Marisa McKaye. You should probably YouTube her.

6. You’ll likely become close friends and confidants with your Lyft driver for the weekend, who will send you emojis throughout the evenings to make sure you’re safe and sound.

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If anyone ends up with Lou, give him a kiss square on the forehead for me.

7. You can get beer, candy, and a palm reading all on one block.

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8. You can probably find a group of guys desperate enough to talk to your group that you can play mind games, like convincing them that your entire group shares the same first name.

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No joke, we spent 20 minutes convincing these suckers that we were all named Shannon. Two of us were named Shannon, so our IDs sealed the deal- and they believed us the rest of the night. So good.

9. If you want to do something wholesome during the day to prove that bachelorette parties aren’t 100% debaucherous, you can visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium, or even the Nashville Zoo.   

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Doesn’t get much more family friendly than this, folks.

10. Virtually every person in Nashville is also at a Bachelor/Bachelorette party, so there are many friends to be made.

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At dinner alone, we ran into six bachelorette parties. This is where you can find them in our picture: 1. Taking our picture, 2. In the background, 3-5. Inside the restaurant somewhere, 6. Waiting to come down the stairs

Yeah, I’m ready to go back.

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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.

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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!). Things only started getting really interesting this season 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.

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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:

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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 oppression 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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