Sep 11 2013

Life Lessons Learned in Year 30

Having recently celebrated my second annual 30th birthday (ahem) I thought now would be a good time to check in and share a few of the lessons I learned during the first year of my 30s:

1) 2 a.m. is for sleeping
Years ago, it felt like closing time always came too soon. We would race to get in one more rum and Coke before the harsh bar lights came on and security herded us against our will toward the door. These days, I’m lucky to make it past midnight. And go out drinking on Friday night after a full work week? Yeah, you can forget that.

2)  Dating is “scary”
When you’re 16, dating is exciting and fun and you can’t wait to do it. But apparently once you hit 30, it takes a frightening turn. Probably because no one expected to still be doing it at this age. I can’t tell you how many single 30-something friends I’ve talked to – male, female, straight, gay – who have used the word “scary” to describe the dating experience. The cause of their fear seems to run the gamut: They’re afraid of getting hurt; they’re afraid of commitment; they’re afraid they’re never going to find “the one” and OMG TIME IS RUNNING OUT. Yeah, once 30 hits, dating is no longer the carefree picnic it once was.

Life at 30 may not look like it did in your teenage crystal ball.

3) Concerts without seats are not worth the price of admission
If I don’t have access to a seat with a back – that’s not too close to the speakers – I’m probably not going.

4) The universe doesn’t care about that life plan you made in high school
When you’re a clueless teenager and 30 is a zillion years away it’s natural to set that particular “grown-up” age as a target date for some of life’s most major events. Maybe you told your cavalier 16-year-old self you’d be married by the time you hit 30 or have your first child. Or maybe you imagined that’s when you’d have your dream home and your fantasy job. We naively assumed we’d have it all figured out by this age. Yet, many of us don’t, because, well, life happened instead, which brings me to the next realization.

5) These aren’t our parents’ 30s
Of course every 30-something is different, but for many of us, 30 looks a lot different than it did for our moms and dads. Our generation, as a whole, is waiting longer than our parents did to get married, to have kids, to settle down in one spot. We’re changing jobs more frequently, restlessly trying to figure out what we want to do when we grow up. And we’re determined to tick adventures off our bucket lists before saddling ourselves with too many real-life adult responsibilities. While many of our parents were already “settled” by 30 – with toddlers and mortgages and what have you – a lot of us 30-sometings today, for better or worse, just aren’t quite there yet.

Jun 23 2013

Keeping Up with the (Tech-Savvy) Joneses

I’m not a terribly tech-savvy person. Creating this very blog was an act of rocket science that would not have been possible without the help of some computer-geek friends.

I mean, I’m more technologically advanced than, say, my parents (my mom once asked me if I’d seen anything interesting on FaceTube lately) but that’s not saying much.

Sure, I know my way around a Blackberry and an iPad. What working professional has a choice these days? But I’ve never been the type who’s itching to get their hands on the latest and greatest high-tech gadget.

In my generation, I know this makes me something of an anomaly. While my friends wait in long lines for the newest incarnation of genius phone, I gladly accept their two-generations-old hand-me-downs. And just the other day I proved what a dinosaur I am by pulling out a real, actual dictionary to look up a word.

In a world in which technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, I have to wonder: If I’m already falling behind the technology curve when I’m 30, what’s going to happen to me in a few years? Certainly I don’t want to be that person that still carries around a beeper and faxes things long after the rest of the world has moved on, do I?

At the same time, I’m OK with being a little bit old-fashioned. I realize technological advances have made our world a better place in many ways (surely I could not survive without Facebook or Words With Friends) but there’s no question our obsession with technology has robbed us of some things, like actual real-life social exchanges, for example. When is the last time you got on an elevator with someone and they DIDN’T have their face buried in their phone?

Good ol’ Einstein saw it coming when he uttered the words that have ironically found new life via Internet meme: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Yes, technology is a wonderful thing, but we’ve got to be careful about our technology addictions. Maybe we don’t constantly need to be on our phones when walking from point A to point B, maybe we don’t need to have EVERY new gadget those Apple folks dream up and perhaps we don’t need to belong to every single time-sucking social networking site ever created. I’m looking at you, Google Plus.

We’ve got to remember to also enjoy the low-tech joys in life. I know for myself that no cold electronic device will ever beat the tactile experience of reading a real book with real-book-smelling pages, no amount of texting will ever replace sitting down for lunch with a friend, and on special occasions I’ll always prefer a handwritten card to a Facebook post.

So while I will do my best to keep pace with technology enough to maintain my place in the modern world, I refuse to become a tech junkie, even if that officially makes me an old lady. Now can someone please introduce me to this Siri person?

May 19 2013

From Beer Pong to Bounce Houses – Partying at 30

In your 20s, an invitation to a birthday party almost inevitably constitutes an invitation to drink too much, act a little stupid and regret it all over a Denny’s Grand Slam the next morning. Among your biggest pre-party concerns: What do I wear? Is my ex going to be there? Should I bring the 12- or the 18-pack?

The birthday party invite you get in your 30s, I’m discovering, is a bit of a different animal. That’s because it is often not for your friends at all, but rather for your friends’ offspring.

With a social calendar that has ballooned in recent years to include engagement parties, weddings and baby showers, I suppose it comes as no surprise that the last few parties I’ve been invited to have been for kids’ birthdays. Logical next step, right?

Still, it’s a little disorienting to enter this brave new world in which pre-party rituals include trips to Babies R Us instead of BevMo, where party entertainment includes inflatable bounce houses in place of beer pong, and where chatter amongst partygoers revolves around daycare and disciplinary tactics rather than the best techniques for consuming a Jell-O shot.

This is a world where post-party cleanup, which once involved the discovery of random beer bottles behind the toilet, now centers on haphazard frosting smears and accidents involving bodily fluids. (Ok, maybe bodily fluids are par for the course at parties at any age.)

As a single gal sans children, I can’t help but feel a tad out of place at little ones’ parties. I mean, am I allowed to ask for a Heineken to chase that over-frosted piece of cake, or is this a juice box only zone? (Kids can be so judgmental!) And for those of us who don’t have rugrats of our own just yet, what is the appropriate way to engage in conversation with the moms and dads in the room about Little League and Baby Gap?

Don’t get me wrong, kids’ parties aren’t all bad – I think I had as good a time as any of the eight-year-old guests at a recent rager at the local children’s museum – it’s just that it’s a whole new social landscape that we must learn to navigate in our 30s, and it can be a bit of a culture shock for those of us yet to jump on the baby bandwagon ourselves.

Then again, maybe it’s not so different from our college days. Whether it’s a 1st birthday party or a 21st birthday party, the guest of honor is going to spill their drink down their shirt, talk nonsense and need to be carried to bed.

Jan 28 2013

The Perks of Having Mommy Friends

Every mommy needs a cocktail now and then.

When a single gal learns that one of her girlfriends is expecting, she usually has two reactions. The first one (publicly expressed) is an overjoyed “Oh my gosh, congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” The second one (courtesy of the little devil on her shoulder) is “Ugh. There goes another one of my drinking buddies.”

Don’t deny it, you know it’s true.

But just because your gal-pal has been called to the mother ship doesn’t mean she has to be lost to you for good. In fact, mommy friends, when they’re able to steel some time away from the kiddos, can actually be a lot of fun and come in quite handy. Consider the following:

They always have snacks
Everyone gets a little peckish during a night at the club or mid shopping adventure, right? Well, when you’re out with a mommy friend you don’t have to risk E. coli from the bar nuts or cut your shopping trip short to go in search of a Big Mac. Why? Because every good mommy is prepared to quell hunger pains with some animal crackers or a fruit leather stowed in her giant mom purse. And she will hook you up.

They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty
These women have seen it all. And they know how to deal with it. On a recent night out with one of my fave mommy friends, we were about to grab the last seat in the house, only to discover it covered in some sort of mystery goo. What does mommy do? She whips out her trusty wet wipes and mops up the unidentified stickiness without a moment’s hesitation, saving us from a night of standing in uncomfortable heels.

They have big rides
Ok, so you might not think it’s cool to roll up to the club in a mile-long mini van. But think again. Imagine how many of your fabulous friends you can cram in that thing and how good it will feel to stretch out in the back and watch some “Sponge Bob” on the way home. Just make sure you have a DD capable of the steering the USS Mom-Mobile.

They really need a drink
No matter how bad a week you think you’ve had – stress at work, lousy dates – your mommy friend has probably had it worse. Because her kid probably shoved something up its nose, or vomited on something expensive or spent the day in the principal’s office. So when mommy gets a rare night out, she’s ready for a shot or five.

They know where all the good sales are
Nobody bargain hunts like a mommy. You can always count on her to tell you exactly where to find deals on everything from organic produce to a new winter coat.

They sometimes need a babysitter
One of the major bonuses of having a friend with kids is that you get to be the super-fun “auntie” who hopefully gets to go home before the diaper gets too smelly.

Dec 21 2012

‘No Date for Christmas’ … A Holiday Horror Movie

With the holiday season upon us, chances are your regularly scheduled television programming has been interrupted to bring you a beloved tradition of the season – the Christmas movie.

We all have our favorites – Ralphie and his BB gun, Clark Griswold and his light spectacle, Jimmy Stewart and his wonderful life.

But outside of the classics, there has emerged a whole other genre of holiday movies – for lack of a better term let’s call them the Chickmas flicks.

I’m talking about the low-budget, ultra-saccharine, made-for-TV holiday rom coms that run 24 hours a day on cable this time of year – the ones that make you laugh, cry and, ultimately, throw up in your mouth a little.

You’re probably familiar with the characters…

SHE is:

  • a high powered ad exec with no time for dating or
  • a wholesome shop owner who’s been unlucky in love or
  • a lonely widow or divorced single mom

HE is:

  • a rugged, yet sensitive, lover of dogs and children, who more than likely knows how to carve something out of wood.

The plot goes something like this:

  • Girl has no date for the holidays, so she (or her kid) makes a Christmas wish for love.
  • Girl meets guy but is too dense to understand Christmas wish has been granted.
  • Guy pursues girl, doing all things the perfect guy would do.
  • Girl falls for guy.
  • **CONFLICT!**
  • Guy professes love for girl, gives her something he whittled. Conflict resolved.
  • Guy and girl kiss under mistletoe.
  • Cue unexpected snowfall and spontaneous singing of Silent Night by random townspeople with miraculously perfect pitch.

You’ve seen that one, right?

I’ll admit I’ve been sucked into more than a few Chickmas movie marathons this season, appalled as I’ve been by their universal theme – “a boyfriend for Christmas.”

What I find most troubling is that they all seem to imply that being single at the holidays is a fate worse than death, if you’re a woman, anyway.

No doubt, the holidays are a lonely time for a lot of people, but these movies would have us believe that only fair ladies fall victim to the holiday blues, their only hope a letter to Santa asking for Prince Charming.

Yaaawn…. are we not yet tired of this plot on the brink of 2013?

Ladies, if you are single at the holidays, here is what you do: Eat! Drink! Be merry! Gentlemen, you do the same. Because contrary to what the Hallmark and Lifetime channels tell us, the holidays are not doomed if you happen to find yourself romantically unattached. After all, that’s just one less gift you’ve got to buy, right?

Seriously, grab some friends, throw back some egg nog and pop a REAL Christmas movie in the DVD player. And if you happen to burst into spontaneous caroling, please be sure to make it as off-key as possible.

Happy Holidays!

Oct 31 2012

How Adults Have Taken Over Halloween

Halloween: It’s not just for kids anymore.

According to this recent article in USA Today, a record $8 billion was spent by U.S. consumers this Halloween – mostly by adults, for adults. The holiday ranks No. 2, after Christmas, in consumer spending for decorations, and grown-ups are now forking out more money for their own costumes than for their kids.

A record-breaking 71.5 percent of adults planned to celebrate Halloween this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. And not by taking the little ones trick-or-treating.

Evidence of the adultification of Halloween is everywhere – from bar scene costume parties to Halloween-themed alcoholic beverages to the unending slew of skimpy adult costumes. (Sexy Bert and Ernie anyone? It’s real, Google it.)

So why the shift?

Halloween is surely appealing to grown-ups for a variety of reasons Though it’s a holiday about excesses, candy-coated or otherwise, it’s also a fairly low-stress occasion. No gifts, no awkward family gatherings – just you and your friends acting like fools. It’s the one day of the year you’re given permission to be someone totally different from yourself, if only by donning a wacky wig and tacky fishnets.

As a lifelong fan of Halloween, I for one couldn’t be happier that we’re still allowed to celebrate it as grown-ups. And I’m not surprised the holiday’s popularity amongst adults seems to be on the rise as my generation grows older. With many of us reluctant to leave certain aspects of our childhoods behind, we simply take them with us. You could call it Peter Pan syndrome, or dress it up for an adult Halloween and call it sexy Peter Pan syndrome. And don’t forget that naughty Tinkerbell.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Oct 15 2012

30 Ways You Know You’re 30

  1. You have a bedtime again.

    Hot wings before bedtime? I'd better pass.

  2. There are certain foods you can no longer eat after 9 p.m.
  3. You have 10 different anti-aging creams in your medicine cabinet, just to be prepared.
  4. You hear your favorite song from high school playing at the grocery store.
  5. You’ve sustained at least one injury whilst sleeping.
  6. You refer to someone in their early 20s as “kid.”
  7. Recovering from last night takes substantially longer than it used to.
  8. You have friends who are getting RE-married.
  9. You remember when Saturday morning cartoons weren’t completely demented.
  10. You have clothes in your closet even the thrift store doesn’t want.
  11. You no longer need to use 14-point font on your resume.
  12. Things your parents say start to make sense.
  13. Your friends live in houses. That they bought.
  14. And they’re having babies. On purpose.
  15. Being carded when buying alcohol has become a cause for celebration.
  16. You think the 90s were only 10 years ago.
  17. That carnival in the grocery store parking lot seems a lot scarier than it used to.
  18. You catch yourself in an in-depth conversation about the price of gas or groceries.
  19. You tried on a pair of Naturalizers when no one was looking (so comfy!)
  20. You really truly are excited about that new salad spinner you just bought.
  21. You own at least one piece of furniture you didn’t get from a garage sale or your Aunt Ruth.
  22. A power nap sounds more appealing than a Power Hour.
  23. You don’t recognize half the balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  24. An increasing number of your Saturday nights are spent on the couch, and you are perfectly ok with that.
  25. You realize most of your favorite Olympic athletes are younger than you.
  26. You think NPR is cool.
  27. Your medicine cabinet contains more than one bottle of vitamins (right next to those anti-wrinkle creams).
  28. You quote movies the office intern has never heard of.
  29. You regret every time you refused to take a nap when you were a kid.
  30. You’ve attempted to “find yourself” through at least one of the following: yoga, therapy or backpacking through a foreign country, only to discover that you’re still a little lost.

Sep 18 2012

DIY: 30 Sucks Party Favor

Know someone getting ready to celebrate their 30th? You can rub it in with this cute do-it-yourself party favor.

I came across this idea during a late night perusing Pinterest and decided to make my own for a friend’s recent birthday.

It’s super simple. All you need is a box, colored paper, floral foam, glue, a Sharpie and big ol’ bag of suckers.

Step 1: Find or design a pretty box. The original instructions for this project, which I found on a blog called Sisters Stuff, said to cover a small shoe box in decorative paper using Modge Podge. Not having a shoebox, or the patience to decorate one, I took an even easier route and grabbed a colorful box from the dollar section at Target. (Yes, I cheated.)

Step 2: Cut the floral foam, found in the craft section, to fit the box. (It slices easily with a knife.)

Step 3: Shove your suckers (preferably 30 of ‘em) into the foam.

Step 4: Add a “Happy Birthday” sign to the box with glue or double-sided tape. (I cut up some blank Post-It notes to create my signs because I have a boatload of them lying around, but you can get fancier paper if you want.) Then attach a “30 Sucks” sign to a sucker stick in the middle of the foam.

Voilà! Simple and sweet gift for the birthday guy or gal.

Sep 13 2012

The Turning 30 To-Do List: Mission (Mostly) Accomplished

Welp, I did it. I turned 30! It wasn’t that hard, really. In fact it was so easy I did it in my sleep. So now what?

A few people have asked me what I plan to do with my blog now that I’ve officially left my 20s behind. To them I say: Now the real fun begins! Now that I’m officially a member of the 30s club, I figure I’m a real expert on the subject. And I have no doubt the next decade will offer plenty to talk about.

Those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning of this blogging adventure may recall that I started out with a short list of some very critical things I hoped to accomplish in the dwindling weeks of my 20s. So without further ado, it’s time to check in and see how I did with my OMG I’m About to Turn 30 Last Minute to-do List!

Forget about blondes. Purples have more fun!

  1. Start a blog
  2. Ride a mechanical bull
    Doh! I hate that this is so near the top of my list as I’ve yet to make my bull-riding debut. Alas, the establishment where I’d planned to ride apparently was forced to put its bull out to pasture.
  3. Eat a deep-fried Twinkie
    What could be better than light-as-air cake filled with fluffy sweet cream? The aforementioned dipped in batter and tossed in the fryer, right? Meh, it was ok. Not worth the extra artery blockage, if you ask me.
  4. Color my hair an obnoxiously unnatural color
    Some will say I cheated on this one because my purple tresses were only temporary. But what can I say, I don’t think Crayola-colored hair would work too well in my day job. (For anyone else looking for one-night-only color, I give a shout-out to Kevin Murphy Color Bug. It’s like eye shadow for your hair.)

    Enjoying the sights in beautiful Santorini.

  5. Travel abroad
    Did it. Loved it. Can’t wait to do it again. You can read more about my trip to Greece here.
  6. Go to a movie by myself
    This was on my list because I wanted to tackle that irrational fear of being seen alone in a social setting. I gotta say, it really wasn’t so bad. After all, I got to pick the movie (hello, quirky indie rom-com), I didn’t have to share the popcorn (hello, extra butter) and I got both armrests to myself.
  7. Scream myself hoarse at a concert
    While I’ve been to plenty of concerts over the years, I was hoping to get another one in before my 30th birthday, but it didn’t happen, due to the complete lack of decent acts playing in my area. BUT … thanks to a stellar friend who got me concert tix for my birthday, this one will be taken care of in short order!
  8. Watch “The Matrix”
    After hearing many a friend chastise me for not seeing this movie, I finally forced myself to check it out, despite my conviction not to watch anything starring Keanu Reeves. I’ll admit it was better than I expected.

    Another psychic visit probably not in the cards anytime soon.

  9. Do a thorough closet cleaning
    Check! I recently moved, which got the ball rolling on this one, and I’m proud to say I purged quite a bit of unnecessary junk. A real accomplishment for a packrat like me!
  10. Get a psychic reading
    Indeed, I took a trip to the neighborhood psychic fair. Was I offered amazing insights into my future? Not really, although the woman who “read” me was quite adept at pointing out the flaws I already know I have. Think I’ll stick to fortune cookies from now on. They’re more forgiving.

There you have it! Considering I only gave myself a few short months to tackle this list, I’d say I didn’t do too shabby. I’m actually feeling pretty good about leaving my 20s behind, and I’m ready for all the new adventures the 30s will bring. Perhaps it’s time for a new list?

Aug 26 2012

My Life in Boxes

Moving to a new place is one of those things that forces you to take stock of your life, mostly because you’re trying to cram that life into the dozen dilapidated cardboard boxes you found behind the grocery store. Whether you’re moving to a new town or into the apartment next door, it’s a time to reflect on where you are and where you’re headed, and perhaps to do a little necessary purging.

The last time I moved was five years ago, when I ventured into a brave new world of living sans roommates for the first time. No more sharing groceries, no more fighting over the TV, no more hair-that’s-not-mine in the shower drain – an exciting time indeed.

Now, as I prepare to move out of the humble shoebox I’ve called home the past five years, the mood is bittersweet. I’ve made a lot of memories here, like the time(s) a leaky ceiling soaked half my wardrobe or the time my elderly neighbor passed away and no one knew it until an unbearable smell overtook the building. Ok, they aren’t all good memories, but I digress.

Anyway, as I pack up a shoe collection that’s increased five-fold in five years, I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic and also acutely aware of just how much baggage, literal and figurative, I’ve accumulated since my last move.

With my 30th birthday upon me, it’s an interesting time to take stock of all the tangible and not-so-tangible “stuff” I’ve collected in the past half-decade. Like anyone, I’ve experienced ups and downs, faced changes in my professional and personal life … and really have purchased an obscene amount of shoes.

Now as I prepare for moving day and the next phase of life as a grown-up, I’m beginning to think it might be time to try to lighten the load of my life in boxes. I’m not moving far, just a few blocks down the road – and no, I didn’t buy; as long as my commitment issues run as deep as they do I shall remain a proud renter, thank you. Still, it seems the perfect time to let go of some of the “stuff” I don’t need to carry around with me anymore – whether that be past disappointments or my favorite leather boots with the busted heel.

This sort of purging won’t be an easy task for a packrat and emotional hoarder like myself, but I’m going to give it a try. I’m pretty stoked for a fresh start and the additional square footage coming with it, and I only want to bring the really good stuff with me.

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