Letter to my future child

One day, my friend Erin and I were discussing how everything on the Internet lives forever and how just about anything can be found in a Google search, when the conversation shifted to how that probably means that if/when I have kids, they will someday find this blog. We concluded that the only thing to do was the write a post to them now, just to head off any awkwardness later. This is that post. FOR THE RECORD I AM NOT PREGNANT NOR PLANNING ON IT ANY TIME SOON. Again, NOT PREGNANT. Now carry on:

Oh…heeeeey there. So I guess…you found this.

If you’re in your mid-20s, hopefully we’re the same person and you now think I’m awesome. Or hopefully you’re like your dad and really like me even when I’m weird.

If you’re in your teens, you’re probably mildly humiliated. Sorry for being weird.

If you’re under the age of 10, WHAT ARE YOU DOING USING THE COMPUTER UNSUPERVISED???

So now you know that you mom wrote (writes? did I keep this up?) a blog. AND that she had the foresight to assume posterity would someday discover it. Wacky, huh?

See? I know EVERYTHING.

Actually, I’m kind of glad this happened. There’s a pretty good chance that (because I’m your mom) you only see me as a parent. (Unless you are in your mid-20s, in which case you might have discovered that I’m a human being too.) But in case that hasn’t happened yet, this will help.

I started this blog because a college professor told me I should have one. I kept it up because I really enjoyed it. I kept it up even when I didn’t enjoy it because I knew that stopping might mean I would stop for good. And the fact is, the best part about having a written record of my young adult life is that I will always have this perspective.

I can look back on the post I wrote right after I moved to New York and remember how mildly panicked I was at having my whole life up in the air. I can look back at the post I wrote the weekend your dad asked me to be his girlfriend and remember how excited I was about the possibilities. I can read the post I wrote the morning of our wedding, and even though it’s brief, remember the sweet, joyful emotions I felt while sitting on that couch in my hotel room typing frantically on my phone.

So basically, you found my diary. And since you obviously read it, I have no qualms about reading yours when I find it.

I’m kidding.

(But seriously.)

I feel like I should be using this opportunity to give you some kind of profound advice, but the fact is (as you can probably tell from my posts), you pretty much just have to figure things out as you go. (Plus I’m not anywhere near a parent yet, so I have no idea where to start.)

Obviously there are a lot of personal things I’ve learned that I can tell you (we still talk right? Oh man, I hope I’m not dead when you find this, that would be really awkward…) and hopefully I’ve set a good example for you in the “how to be a real-live adult” thing, but in general, you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to take jobs you hate and your priorities are going to change. You’re going to make friends, and you’re going to lose them.

Life is going to be so unapologetically cruel one day, and on another you will be humbled by how wonderful things can be. And for me, writing every bit of it out just…helped. It helped and it helps me get through the good and the bad.

So I guess that’s the extend of my profundity. (And because I’m your mom, I know you read a lot your whole life and appreciate my use of the word “profundity.”) Regardless of what’s happening in your life or how old you are, I hope you know that I always want us to be at least as honest with each other as I am in these posts.

So…that got kind of heavy. This post started as a joke. It was supposed to be a funny post. It was supposed to help AVOID awkwardness!

Well, if there’s one thing this blog should teach you about me, it’s that I’m usually awkward no matter what. Odds are, you are too. (Sorry about that…) I guess what all this means is that I hope you’ll let me know when you find this.

Now go clean your room.

The Right Way to Hit on Someone: Part Two

GAAAAS-PUH! Two posts in one day? Blasphemy. But come on, admit it, you needed something to wash the surgary taste out of your mouth after the last two.

Remember that time I was hit on in a way that was so gracefully executed, my dear friend Erin wanted to “give” me to the man as a reward for his skills? (I know Erin does.)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like this is going to become a bi-annual thing for me, because it happened again. (Sans Erin. Sorry.)

I was walking down the street when I realized I was going the wrong way, so I turned around, only to almost step on this guy who had been about to tap me on the shoulder.

“Hi!” he said enthusiastically.

I was so caught off guard by the genuine niceness in his tone that I actually said a friendly “hello!” back (instead of my usual “pretending I don’t speak English or am possibly hearing impaired” reaction to unwanted advances).

He stuck out his hand to shake mine. “I saw you walk by, and I just wanted to tell you that you are absolutely stunning. I’m Paolo.”

“Oh…thank you…nice to meet you!” I said, shaking his hand. It wasn’t so much the words he said as the way he said them. He was trying to seem confident but actually nervous in the most endearing way imaginable, and so genuinely friendly. I think that was it. He was completely and totally genuine.

It was at this moment that he happened to glance down at my left hand resting on the strap of my bag.

“Aaand I see you have that giant rock there,” he said, laughing in a “awww shucks…please don’t mock me” kind of way. (Mock you??I’m racking my brains for someone to set you up with right now, dude!)

“Yeah…” I said as kindly as I could. “But thanks for the compliment!”

“Sure,” he said, laughing again. “Take care!”

And scene.

Now, obviously this could have gone seriously wrong at many turns. Randomly going up to a stranger to profess your admiration is the boldest of moves. You gotta give a guy credit for working up the gumption to attempt it.

Poor Paolo. Poor sweet, genuine, lovely Paolo. I wish him the best. But with moves like that, I have a feeling he’ll be just fine.

Lemons, lye, and other bitter tastes

So, I’ve been thinking this post over in my head for a few weeks now, but I haven’t started writing it out until today. Why, you ask? Well, because I’ve been trying to make it sound less…bitter.

I’m not actually bitter, though. Just a little weirded out. And possibly annoyed.

Here’s the thing: I need to whine a little bit. So just bear with me, and I promise a super cheerful post tomorrow. (Seriously. It’s already written. It just needs a picture. But it’s off-the-charts optimistic.)

So back to the whining.

Not to get all “so what’s up with social networks” on you, but there are a couple quirks in online communication that drive me crazy.

1. Locked Twitter accounts
I’m no authority of the Twitter, but what the heck is the point of this? The whole purpose of Twitter is to be this super open forum of random thoughts, jokes, and links. And then a few (pretentious) people go messing it all up by deeming their random YouTube links and “eating the most amazing sandwich” thoughts too personal for the general population.

Get over yourself. Because you know what? I’d venture to say I’m not the only one who isn’t going to follow you without any idea what kind of tweeter you are. For all I know, you could post a picture of your cat drinking water every hour on the hour. And I’m not willing to take that chance. Besides, if your thoughts are just that personal, they probably shouldn’t be on Twitter anyway.

2. People who use Facebook to prove something
Whether you’re trying to convince me how awesome you’re relationship is with Jesus or your boyfriend, there’s something about plastering your love all over my minifeed that doesn’t quite ring sincere. I’m not against religious or romantic comments here and there, but if you have to share every single spiritual or shmoopy thought in your head on an insanely public forum, not gonna lie, it sounds like you’re trying too hard. Besides, it’s always kind of weird when people who see each other all the time have to post adoring things on each other’s walls. That’s not for each other; that’s for everyone else.

3. Embarrassingly personal emo breakup statuses
Listen, breakups are hard. They just are. And it’s important to find healthy ways to cope. But you know what isn’t healthy? Awkwardly intimate statuses or tweets about how your heart is breaking. Or why she just won’t notice you. Or how he’s going to want you back someday. Because, you know what? That might have been true — up until you displayed your self-centered crazy on a public forum.

I’ve always said that if I was broken up with, no matter how crushed I was, I wouldn’t want to do anything out of post-breakup heartache to make my ex regret ever dating me. Like, oh, I don’t know, drafting long Facebook notes containing personal details and anecdotes that prove how well I know him. Or YouTube videos of me singing R-E-S-P-E-C-T-esque songs about how I don’t need him!!!!

I mean…I guess if that is genuinely helpful, more power to you. But I can’t help thinking it’s an excuse to force your friends to tell you how awesome you are via the comments section. Or to “like” your catharsis. Besides, breakup statuses are usually deliberately cryptic anyway, which just drives me crazier. You can’t straddle the fence between being uncomfortably open about the bad breakup and taking the high road. It’s one or the other. Commit already, or you’re just as bad as that no-good ex, amiright?

I think what I’m saying is, stop making social networks your personal diary. They’re not. They’re very public and easily spread to everyone. The biggest pro of a diary is that you can be as dramatic and self-serving as you want, and then later look back and be like, “Dang… I was a drama queen. Really glad I’m the only one who knows about this…”

Now, I’m not really a fan of extreme statements (bold statements are another story), so I should clarify that I’m not saying there is never a time or place on social networks for the above (well, except the first one; that’s always dumb). I mean, it is supposed to be a platform of sharing, even if that sharing tends to be annoying.

Just to be on the safe side, ask yourself, does this post make me look whiny, stuck up, or pretentious? Then maybe step away from the computer, put down the smart phone, and go dig up that Lisa Frank unicorn diary and a purple gel pen. You’ll thank me later.

How not to rent an apartment on Craigslist

Online rental is a tricky world to navigate. What with rampant Craigslist murderers and scams, it’s important to portray yourself as safe and reliable if you want to successfully rent an apartment.

Here’s how to fail at that:

Step 1: Don’t include a photo.

Step 2: Include a photo, but make sure to take it after you have removed the contents of every drawer and closet and spread the contents on to every available surface. While you’re preparing for a garage sale is also a good time.

Step 3: Include a photo, but make it of the outside of the house, a random nearby landmark (i.e. trees or the ocean) or include an especially attractive photo of your pet.

Step 4: Take all interior photos at night or from weird angles. It will make the room look bigger and definitely not like a dungeon. Trust me.

Step 5: Don’t include a city location. Potential renters will appreciate the air of mystery surrounding your posting.

Step 6: Write in all caps. It makes it easier to read, and who doesn’t love being shouted at?

Step 7: Be extremely difficult in giving out the address of the apartment, requiring no less than the promise of the proposed tenant’s first born before releasing it.

Got all that? Ok, happy selling!

How was your day?

You know something that’s hard to bridge? The disparity between your quality of day and someone you care about’s quality of day.

I’ll elaborate.

Say, for example, you have the worst day ever. You forget your train ticket, get accosted by a creeper, it rains and you forgot your umbrella, you feel dumb at work, and just when you think things can’t get any worse, you train home is delayed and you have to deal with Everything That Is Wrong With The World.

Phew.

You finally get home, totally psyched to just whine and moan to someone about your incomparable suffering, and you roommate/significant other/friend you called is all puppy dogs and rainbows about the fantastic day they just had.

I mean, where do you go from there? On one hand, the only way to cure a bad day is to crab about it (or write it out….ahem), but who wants to be the whiny downer who can’t even be happy for someone else’s great day?

Fortunately, modern day technology has given us about a million ways to communicate, so all you really have to do is post an emo tweet and you’re bound to find at least one other person who can relate within the hour.

Honestly, I think the real trouble comes when you’re the one who had the great day. There is nothing like coming home from a day of kicking butt and taking names to find out that someone you love had a rotten day. And the last thing you want to do is spew sunshine and daisies all over them.

So what’s the solution. I think, like so many things, the answer is time. (She said sagely, stroking her long salt-and-pepper beard.) Hold off with your awesome day until the sting of the crappy one has faded. After all, that’s probably what you’d want if the crappy shoe was on your foot. (Or something.)

Hey, Twitter Abuser. We need to talk.

Hey, you. Yeah, you. You, the person who uses Twitter at a rate of about four tweets per minute.

Listen, it’s not that I don’t like you personally. I do. I DO like you. But your incessant tweeting? Yeah, it’s kind of making me hate you.

It’s not your fault. I’m sure in your head, even in certain circles, each and every one of your tweets would be totally appropriate, if not really interesting. It’s just the overwhelming volume and rapidity that you choose to spew them at the Internet is just…well, overwhelming.

You’re crowding out everyone else. You are that kid at the choir concert who deliberately sings too loud to drown out the other voices. You’re the shortstop who keeps diving in front of the outfielder to catch the pop fly. You’re the game show contestant who keeps buzzing in, except instead of answers you just want to tell us what you’re doing, or about to do, or thinking, or having for lunch.

Listen, this isn’t me being a Luddite. I love Twitter. Sure, I resisted at first, but now I’m on board. It’s fun.

But you know what isn’t fun? Getting the play-by-play of your drive to the grocery store. Hearing all 36 of your favorite lines from the show you’re watching. Seeing your face fill 17 of the 26 available slots on my Twitter homepage.

Again, I like you. I like your thoughts. I like your face. I just don’t like when you abuse that like.

We’ve entered the stomach; next stop, heart.

So as you know, on Sunday I made the boyfriend dinner. This was momentous for two reasons:

1. I had never done this before. For really anyone besides Emma. Definitely not for a boy.

2. I decided to cook his two favorite foods: penne a la vodka and cheesecake. (But not just ANY cheesecake; peanut butter cheesecake. That was the “super-secret dessert.”)

Cheesecake, I discovered, is easy enough once you manage to track down the right pan. (Which is also what led me to discover Cheap Charlies — that’s really what it’s called. It’s this garage sale-like store with crowded aisles and floor-to-ceiling shelves of pretty much everything. Including spring-form pans.) Here’s how it’s done:

Take 2 pounds of cream cheese. (Yes, you read that correctly. TWO. POUNDS.)

Add about a cup of peanut butter.

Mix in sugar, flour, and eggs. Blend until smooth.

Bake for about an hour and a half in a water bath. (Tricker than it sounds. Wrap the pan in foil to keep water from leaking in.)

After you turn the oven off, leave the cheesecake in for another hour or so to cook all the way through. Then refrigerate overnight, if possible. (Doesn't it look cute hiding in there?)

So that’s really it.

The tricky part was the vodka sauce. The boyfriend has always made it quite clear that homemade vodka sauce never matches up with the kind he can get at a restaurant. I’ve had his favorite restaurant version, and it is seriously tough competition for a non-professional chef. The trick is getting it to the right thickness.

So with this is mind, I did my typical nerdy thing and researched. My final recipe was a combination of two I found online. My secret? Don’t be stingy with the cream and butter. (This is CLEARLY a heart healthy meal, right?)

The final result?

Pretty, ain't it?

He's very patient with my photo-taking obsession. But look, he's happy!

He took one bite, looked at me suspiciously, and subtly accused me of trying to trick him with a restaurant version. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a WIN. Combine that with the mind-blowing that happened when he found out there was such a thing as peanut butter cheesecake, and I think I have officially redeemed myself for not cooking him dinner in six months.

Cheesecake, served.

That's his 'Please stop taking photos of me. Please.' face. I have no idea why he likes me.

Oh right. THAT'S why.