When You've Been Gone For a Real Long Time and People Are All, "Who Are You Even?"

....that's what I imagine that lil toddler-cat to the left is saying as I start to blog. "Why are you even doing this? Do you have anything to talk about anymore? Boo don't you have a podcast now? Is that not enough to satiate your narcissistic, albeit well intentioned, self? Also, get me some some damn Dunkaroos right now!"

That's what I feel (in my heart) that lil child is saying. And honestly: I don't blame her. Why bring this thing back from the dead? This blog is like the Teri Hatcher of blogs. Like, it's coming back on this salacious, hyper-sexualized and grossly anti-feminist stereotypical primetime television show but, was it really necessary? Did we really miss it to begin with?

....in hindsight Teri Hatcher and my blog have nothing in common. Or too much in common. I can't tell. I've had wine. 

The point I'm trying to make is that there is no point for me to blog again. But, truth be told, I missed it very much. I journaled more because I'm a middle class woman in my 20's and that's how we roll. In the last absent year from blogging, I've moved to a new apartment. And I did a few jobs here and there. And I went on a surprise trip to Germany. And I worked out. Every day. I look fantastic.*

You know when you start to get those horrid family recap letters around the holidays? You know, the type of letter that's designed to make you feel like you've spent an entire year of your life not doing NEARLY as much as your Smith cousins from western Massachusetts? I hate (read: secretly love) these letters! They are fascinating! And who doesn't love a mother writing in third person?!? Third person! Never not funny! I wanted to write about what's happened in the time between putting the blog on hiatus and starting the podcast. I wanted to write about the fantastic adventures, and the beautiful nights spent learning and loving, growing and thriving, living my very best life. And then I remembered: that's just not my style. So, instead, here's a VERY honest and unnecessarily detailed description of how my yesterday went. Because being honest (in third person) is important. 

Woah! Huh! What a DAY it has been! Bligh has been goin' here and a'goin' there! She has sweat out of her right armpit (almost exclusively) since 7:38am this morning when she left her new home in Harlem to go to her day job in Flatiron selling trash! WE ARE SO PROUD OF HER.

Bligh loves her new day job** and she particularly loves the long breaks her new day job affords her, where she says she is going to read up about current affairs but where she really just stalks the Kardashians on Instagram. She also enjoys using the break times to go the Dunkin on the corner of W 27th and 6th Ave and carry on a passive fight dating back to before Christmas with one of the female baristas there. It simultaneously gives her a sense of accomplishment and a mild distaste for her own stubborn behavior. That distaste tastes oddly similar to a chocolate munchkin.

After a busy and long day selling trash Bligh was lucky enough to head to a casting where a super kind lady took a few pictures of her and graciously said, "I didn't even notice the food stain on your sweater until you pointed it out." She then proceeded to head home but NOT before stopping by her new favorite neighborhood hangout, Food Universe. Rosa is currently the Employee of the Month over at Food Universe and she is KILLING it. Way to go Rosa! Bligh brilliantly stopped at Food Universe*** to pick up a few odds and ends for her impulsive, yet all together too-delish-to-pass-up, Pinterest find of the day:

http://www.thefirstmess.com/2016/01/13/creamy-french-lentils-with-mushrooms-and-kale-recipe/

So french, right?

She then watched the Vice interview of the USA Freedom Kids approximately seventeen times until she memorized every single quote/gesture/mannerism of the littlest one. You know, the one who seems most insistent that  you answer the call when freedom calls? That one. She's the best. But, click and see for yourself.

Aside from these aforementioned, ambitious Tuesday night life projects, Bligh also prepped this blog entry, ironed her jeans, and had a fight with a neighborhood pigeon. All jokes aside, shit's gotten kinda cool these last few months. She's got a podcast. She had a live sold out show. She got botox. And most importantly, she's fighting with a pigeon. All this and more in the blog/on the podcast/in the plethora of instas that will be meticulously filtered and passed off as perfectly captured, organic moments. 

So that's it. I would love if you would take a minute to go to iTunes and search the podcast "Avocados Are For Rich People." You should listen to the second, and most recent episode called "Uncomfortable: The Boozy Brunch Tapes." And you should also maybe take a lil minute to subscribe to it, rate it, and review it. This keeps me in a zen place so I don't start as many fights with Dunkin Donuts baristas or pigeons. It also keeps freedom free. And really, that's what it's all about. 

*I haven't even attempted to run in approximately three months

**I really actually love my day job everyone is really cool and they deal with me singing.

***Food Universe is no joke and easily my favorite place to hang out in Harlem. 

An artist's rendering, pre botox. I look much younger now. 

An artist's rendering, pre botox. I look much younger now. 


What I'm Gonna Need to See

The running thing isn't going so well. Well, that's not entirely true. Some days it goes! It goes strong, it goes in good form and some days it's even--dare I say it--fun. The fun days conveniently seem to exclusively be the days my lil Nike app tells me to run four miles or less. And then there are the long run days...yeah...those days aren't so much bad as that they don't really happen. 

I think I'm failing at the training aspect of this race. Yes, there are moments of triumph. Yesterday I worked 9 hours, and got my ass to the gym and ran four miles. It wasn't my best time, but I didn't stop once and I did it in a little over 40 minutes. It doesn't hurt the day after anymore. My calves are starting to look like sculpted muscle, and I have been able to stick to a commitment of running every other day, or at least four times a week. I just can't seem to force myself past the four to five mile markers. This race is six weeks away. I'm getting nervous bout it. 

I was gifted the book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami for Christmas this year and it's been helping. This man and I have almost polar opposite feelings about the art of running, mainly the fact that he seems to enjoy it. Murakami doesn't drink when he's training so I'm not drinking. Murakami stresses living a scheduled life of routine and early mornings when he trains so I am getting up...earlier. The bits we don't agree on are centered around one's core impetus to run; he runs for personal discovery--void of competition--so that he can simultaneously derive pleasure and pain, whereas I feel all the pain, none of the pleasure. The only thing fueling me is the competition. And pride. I said I would do this so I'm going to do this. The only other thing that drives me as I listen to Britney Spears' "Stronger" club mixes on repeat? Why, that would be what I want to see at the damn finish line of this damned race.  

 

What I'm Gonna Need to See As I Finish This Half-Marathon

1)  Anyone I've ever kissed on the mouth/shared my cousin's HBOGO password with/conned into stopping at Dunkin even if we didn't have time/been late to dinner plans with to show up and cheer me on wearing homemade, glitter puffy paint shirts that say things like

  • "Go Bligh-thing!"
  • "Yes Bliggles"
  • "Stay strong biddie!"

2) At the halfway point, I want to be handed a warm mixed berry scone from Alice's Teacup. The butter must be cold. This is important. Actually, I'd like Alice's Teacup to sponsor snacks for my friends who've come out in support. Everyone gets a scone! But the temperature of their butter is on them.

3) After I cross the finish line I'm going to cry. As I'm wiping away perfect television tears, I want Liza Minnelli* to be singing a cover of India Arie's, "Just Do You." I would like Aziz Ansari to not only introduce me to the crowds via megaphone, I'd also like him to tell me I booked that 5-and under I auditioned for yesterday for his new show. He should also be willing to hug me because I think he's wicked cute and funny. I bet he smells nice.

4) When I run past, I want people (all people, not just the ones I know) to scream "YAHHHS MAMI!" ...because I've never been called "Mami" before and I think I can ask for whatever I want. 

5) I want my girl Whitney who is  running with me to high five me. A lot. I love high fiving. I wish we all high fived more. I also want to wear matching hats but I don't want her to say no so I'll spring it on her about 10 minutes before we start.

6) Finally, I want everyone (I mean EVERYONE) to lie and say I had a great running stride and I looked so good. Lie to me so good babies! Also, if you take a picture of me running and you wanna post it, please filter it with either "Mayfair" or "X-pro II" as those make me appear tanner.

*FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIZA:

First of all, thank you for doing this! I've admired you since I inappropriately watched Cabaret at the tender age of eight and legitimately thought Sally Bowels sings "Maybe This Time" because she lost out on a big role she was auditioning for. Then in college, a group of amazing friends and I skipped school to attend your out of town try-out for "Liza's at the Palace" in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and you blew us the fuck away! We came all the way from Boston to see you. I still talk about that concert. You did not STOP. You also didn't wear pants but instead opted for the FANCIEST black sequined men's shirt I've ever seen. Your legs were a show enough! My favorite favorite part? When you had not one but TWO encores, the first being a song entitled "Mammy" (questionable choice) and "New York, New York" where you modulated up FIVE UNNECESSARY TIMES. I was on my feet by the third and the last two were the most thrilling moments of my life. Okay, I'll stop fangirling you and therefore offer you, diva, some alternate songs you may sing if you don't have time to learn "Just Do You" although, it's a badass song and you should add it to your rep for sure. Below is the short list of suggestions. Finally, I'd like to wrap this up by saying the race is April 19th, at 9am. I hope to be done around 11am-11:15am (god willing) so you should get up to steam the gift around 8am? I'll defer to you.

- "Jolene" by Dolly Parton

- "Power" by Kanye West

- "Rock Me Baby" by Tina Turner

- "Domino" (I'd prefer the Van Morrison song but I'll settle for Jessie J's "Domino" too...you pick)

- the opening credits song from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

- "Amazing Grace" but uptempo with a tambourine

Babies. Skipping tap class to love on Liza. In Rhode Island.

Babies. Skipping tap class to love on Liza. In Rhode Island.

Running is for Crazy People

People are going to try and tell you running is fun and I'm here to tell you that those people are full of shit. Okay okay! Maybe that's just my opinion. There appear to be a great many people who enjoy running, as if regressing back to the cavemen era when we ran away from giant mastodon's trying to make us their dinner is EXACTLY the way they prefer to spend their free time. I don't so much not understand those people as much as I sincerely believe we live on different planets. Because, to me, running is the worst. And here's why:

1.) You can't talk while you are running. Not only does the constant movement make it difficult to catch your breath long enough to formulate a sentence but apparently, talking while running is a legitimately unhealthy physical practice. 

2.) You get cold-sweaty. Cold-sweaty is the name I give to that feeling when you get underground at a subway stop and you're all bundled up and you feel so grateful to be out of the cold winter chill and then about two stops in you realize you are sweating and wearing so many layers that the effort to take off even one on this crowded godforsaken machine would be futile. I hate cold-sweaty. I have a really bad cold-sweaty problem when I run because, well, I'm probably not doing something right...maybe I don't warm up enough (read: at all.) 

3.) My whole body turns bright red. Ahhh the joys of being a pale, Irish girl are innumerable! As if it wasn't already DELIGHTFUL ENOUGH to spend most of the summer wearing kaftans and floppy hats, covered in SPF 100 praying I don't get burned, even in the colder months while running outside I develop big, red splotchy marks all over my face, neck, and hands. Which should definitely come in handy for my fit model career.

4.) You can't eat while you're running. You can eat before, and you can eat after. But you can't eat during and that's a problem...for me anyways. 

I despise running. I hate the elitist running culture, the run clubs that come out of NOWHERE and seemingly never end, and I hate the way my hair looks after it's been in a sweaty running pony tail. Now that you know all that, you should also know that this weekend I signed up to run my first half marathon, the Women's Central Park Half Marathon on April 19th. So, with the assumption that I'll start my training today, February 24th, that means I have a little over 8 weeks to train. I wanted to officially start training yesterday but I was over served at an Oscar party the night prior and my best life choice was to sleep in and eat crackers for the better part of the morning. Why am I doing this? I don't really know. I'm not doing it to lose weight, or impress anyone, or achieve some deep, burning desire to be a runner. Everyone I tell has been confused as to why, too. But my favorite response thus far was from my Nike Training app which straight up said:

 

...the app has a valid point, and I'm thankful for the honest opinion. Eight weeks is definitely pushing it, in regards to a feasible time frame to train within. But at least the app is lookin' out for a girl. When I told my mother I was running a half marathon the conversation went a little like this:

ME: Ma! I just signed up for a half marathon and it's a women's half marathon! And it's in Central Park in April! And it's all women, the whole race! Just women! Running! ...cool, huh?

MOM: Honey great, why are you doing this again? 

...alright so yes, I don't have a reason per say but does it really matter? I thought she would think it was pretty cool, or empowering or inspiring? Maybe that's the crux of the reason why people enjoy running? Perhaps that's the secret! That when you run long, great distances you come out the other end of a finished race with all sorts of clarity and passion and inspiration?? Or, maybe, I'll be able to bounce a quarter off my ass!

The first race I ever ran (not including the Presidential Fitness Test in 8th grade heyoooo!) was the St. Patrick's Day 10k in Washington, DC in 2011. My life felt like it was falling apart. I was drinking too much, and dating too many different men, and spending most of my bi-weekly paychecks from Lululemon at Lululemon. I was desperate to move to New York. And I needed a challenge but I didn't know where to start. I don't even remember how I found this race, but I did, and I signed up mid-January and then promptly trained to run it approximately zero times. Zero. Then, come race day, I got on my all matching Lululemon outfit, had a banana, and tried not to vomit while waiting for the stupid thing to start. I brazenly put myself in the nine minute mile group. "You're young, you're fertile!" I thought to myself as I faux stretched with other young, fertile men and women. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a man, mid-thirties, in a wheelchair ahead of me. That's right. Ahead of me. As in the eight minute mile group. Well. Fuck. "If a man in a wheelchair can do an eight minute mile, I can do an eight minute mile!" I remember silently (dear god I hope it was inside voice and not a declamatory statement) saying. I WILL NOT WIN THIS RACE, BUT I WILL BEAT WHEELCHAIR MAN.*

That starting gun went off, and I simply decided to keep moving. I didn't stop moving, and I also did not stop listening to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" on REPEAT because, motivation. I made sure to keep wheelchair man in my peripheral, always clocking him. If I hadn't lost my mind at some undocumented moment in my life prior, this is most assuredly the moment. I felt like he was taunting me. I developed an entire narrative about how wheelchair man had it out for me. Because that seems like something a healthy person does. Right? On the last two miles I significantly slowed down and was at what I'd like  to call a lady trot** and he passed me. He passed me. Uhhhh. Something inside me erupted like a wronged woman on an episode of the Maury Povich Show when she finds out he IS the father. I think there might have been lil flames in my eyes. I dug deep down and realized now was fight or flight time. I pretended there were turbo rockets attached to my shitty running shoes and I picked up the pace. I picked up the pace until I saw wheelchair man less than 50 feet ahead of me. And then, I turned Whitney on a few notches louder and I RAN RIGHT PAST WHEELCHAIR MAN. The exuberance! The moment of pride when I realize, I have passed him! Pure, unadulterated bliss! 

What is the takeaway?  Well, I'm a crazy person. I'm highly motivated by competition, even in unfair, highly dramatized scenarios with faux enemies like wheelchair man. I still hate running, but I need a challenge. I need something to be competitive about. I need to realign my priorities and my decision making. I need to know that I'm still alive. You know? Just a reminder that I'm here and I'm working towards something. I need to say I said I'd do it, and then I fucking did. I need a win. And what better way to hold yourself accountable than tell some people in a very public setting, like, say, ya blog?

A little warning: I'm going to be writing about running. A lot. I'm sorry. I can't always promise it will be inspiring or insightful. I can promise it will be humorous and honest and another h-word that I can't quite put my finger on at this moment. In conjunction with needing a goal, sometimes I need a little motivation to write more, although the play I'm writing about the time I got MRSA and bed bugs in the same week as Hurricane Sandy is coming along quite well, thank you for asking. Point is, this writing assignment will keep me constant, like coffee does. 

The lovely sounding Nike app woman told me I have a six mile run tomorrow. It's currently nine degrees. I can't wait to let ya'll know how that goes.    

*Just for the record, I think this man is a badass.  

**a lady-trot is the same as fast running in heels, but when you are at a lady-trot in sneakers, then you're just lazy.  

Right after I finished the St Patrick's day 10k, my first race...I take no responsibility for what symbol I'm trying to make with my hands.

Right after I finished the St Patrick's day 10k, my first race...I take no responsibility for what symbol I'm trying to make with my hands.


No One is Alone

I've spent my fair share of time alone on Valentine's Day. And you know what, that's all kinds of okay.  I confess I'm not alone this year, so maybe my thoughts on the subject are rendered obsolete. It's certainly nice to have someone to do nice things for, but I also feel that should be an everyday occurence. My bozo* and I won't be spending this day wracking up debt and stressing over how this day should mean more. For one, both of us have more money in the Mexican currency of pesos than we do tangible dollars. We're basically gonna get all "Gift of the Magi" on each other, buying treats for each other we don't need but refuse to buy for ourselves. It'll be romantic, in that way that poor things are.  

Valentine's Day always gets me thinking about what this day was like in years prior, where I was, or who I was with, or what I was feeling. But you know what? It also gets me thinking about all the things I had (and YOU, sweet reader, have) that mean a whole lot more than one day where you might feel a tad bit lonely. So, I compiled a list of awesome stuff that I had/have as a quick reminder that we all tend to "have" a lot more than we think we do. The things we have--and bits of our lives we share--keep us from truly being alone. And if, after reading this list, you still feel alone then you can call me and I will find you wherever you are within the five boroughs and we will drink coffee (read: Irish coffees) and giggle (read: maybe cry) for a few hours, together. But let's try this first? 

WHY (MOST PEOPLE) AREN'T REALLY ALONE (Or, A List of Awesome Shit We Take For Granted) 

1.) Netflix

2.) Legs that walk you places

3.) Arms that pick things up

4.) A place outside to walk

5.) Pizzabagels  

 

6.) A friend to call

7.) A mom/dad that chooses to listen to you when you need to talk  

8.) the entirety of the movie, Up

9.) Double stuffed dark chocolate Milano cookies

10.) Oysters on the half shellllllll (get one right now, I can't stop and they're only $3) 

11.) Whistling  

12.) Skipping

13.) An animal pet that loves you (perhaps only because you feed them, but let's choose to be positive here) 

14.) A pair of jeans you look like a sexy motherf*cker in

15.) Warm socks

16.) Hand written letters  

17.) Coffee

18.) People in your neighborhood who recognize you/know you by name

19.) Tropical flavored Starburst  

20.) An old picture of your grandparents when they were in the love

21.) Ben and Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream

 

22.) ANY AND ALL MUSIC. The ability to hear and appreciate music

23.) Skin (Your skin is actually so badass, it's awesome, even when it's very see-through pale.) 

24.) Comfy beds

25.) The ability to read

26.) Libraries and small bookshops

27.) A job where someone relies on you

28.) Instagram (yeah, I'll admit it. I'm addicted and grateful.) 

29.) Brothers and sisters

30.) That new Rihana and Kanye and that other guy's new song  

31.) Water

32.) A photograph or a piece of art that reminds you of something/someone 

33.) Fresh (freezing cold) air

34.) The choice to go anywhere else (if you really put your mind to it) 

35.) A corner to write in

36.) An itchy item of clothing someone has knit for you

37.) Someone that worries about you

38.) Someone you worry about

39.) Incredible (and free) street/subway performances daily

40.) Your retainer box

41.) A place that you get to call home

Some years on Valentine's Day I didn't have all of these things, or even ten. Some of you might not have all of these things. Some of of them are just that: things, and funny items that made/make me feel safe. Some are less tangible, some are relationships and moments that make us feel taken care of. But here's the real thing: if you read this and have five, or twenty, or even one, you're going to be okay. If you make your own list, you'll get to look and see how much you really *have.*  Yes, perhaps Valentine's is a silly contrived holiday and yes, perhaps others don't care about it as much as you or I do. But if the only positive action that comes out of this seemingly lonely or bleak or underwhelming or cheap holiday is that you take a minute to see all that you have, then it's most assuredly worth it.


*that's my messed up pet name for my boyfriend derived from a crazy man on the subway because, love.  



Top Five Places to Cry in NYC

When did crying in public become cool again? I think it must've happened right around the time we started sharing viral proposal videos. You know, the kind that start with some sort of very determined, generic classical piece (heavvvyyy on the stringed instruments) that drums up excitement while the malefiancé  tells a story about how he's known Jenny* for seventeen years but four years ago he went to Bonnaroo and got SUPER lost coming back home and she was dating someone new when he returned and it took months of playing a painfully mediocre, yet heartfelt version of Mumford and Son's "I Will Wait" on his uke outside her window to win her back? Those ones. This is why it's cool to cry again. So, I guess, I'm cool biddies. 

I love a good cry. My very favorite cry is when I can get into pajamas, drink wine from a coffee cup, open my iPad and watch each and every sad looking trailer at http://trailers.apple.com/. Also, soldiers coming home and their dogs freaking out. Those are my jam. My dearest friends enjoy a solid cry, too. One friend indulges in a quick "get it all out" cathartic cry while watching the last ten minutes of Step Mom. Seriously, google "last ten minutes of step mom." It'll come up. I love the internet so hard.

People think New York City is the best city in the world for so many obsolete reasons. The REAL reason New York City is the best is because of the plethora of perfect places you can (if the spirit moves you) publicly cry. There are a few places you shouldn't cry (anywhere in Times Square) but everywhere else is fair game. I would like to share with you, if I may, some of my very favorite places to publicly cry. I foster the idea of a luxury public cry, not because I want you, dear reader, to be wrought with sadness and the need to cry. But more because a quick cry in a sweet setting never hurt nobody. And, like a tape worm, better out than in.

TOP FIVE PLACES TO PUBLIC CRY IN NEW YORK CITY

                                                                                            1) Central Park

Change "macaroons" to "can of dark chocolate frosting and a spoon" and this man/woman and I are most assuredly soul mates.

People are always like, "Oh my gosh Sheep Meadow! So much fun! Frisbee and shit!" but the best part of Central Park are the benches. Have you read any of the dedications on the benches? THEY ARE DEVASTATING. One time I didn't even have to cry and I made myself by reading some of the bench dedication plaques. You can sit, put your sunglasses on (please be in the park crying during the day, at night it's no longer cathartic as much as it's dangerous) and let it all out. The wonderful part is there are benches EVERYWHERE so there's bound to be a subway stop that takes you to the park and helps you publicly purge. And when you're done you can grab a big pretzel or a hot dog and live in your truth.

2) Any Greek Cafe/Diner 

Baklava= my anti-drug.

Baklava= my anti-drug.

It's a Greek belief dating back to the first Olympics that hard crying for twenty minutes steadily is the emotional and physical equivalent to running a marathon.** See, now you won't miss that answer on Trivia Crack. You're welcome. I think Greek diners are awesome. Sometimes a lady needs four to five pieces of baklava and a release of emotion in the form of crocodile tears. You might've  deduced that the Greeks are comfortable with tears, based on their loud, emotional conversations and passionate hand gestures but they are actually very stoic people. If you cry in their establishment they will most likely leave you alone until they send over another piece of baklava, on the house. 

 

 

 

 

3.) Port Authority 

A picture I took for you guys of Hell.

A picture I took for you guys of Hell.

Port Authority is the worst place. Port Authority smells like dashed dreams and Cool Ranch Doritos that someone urinated on and left in a corner. It feels like, maybe, it's not a real place at all but perhaps a movie set from the 1970's that someone forgot to break down after filming wrapped. The florescent lights leave nothing to the imagination. If you are tired, Port Authority knows and will expose you so hard. I caught myself crying at Port Authority recently trying to catch a Peter Pan bus (because I am LUXURY) to Massachusetts to see a therapist who believed he could cure my tension by playing Tibetan singing bowls.*** I was at that seventh layer of hell disguised as the the Authority of the Ports at 7am, on time, but was denied a seat on the bus because they overbooked. It was a perfect storm of frustration and exhaustion and it most certainly all came to a teary halt. But, here's the beauty of Port Authority crying: it never lasts that long. It's not a place that facilitates a comfortable, glamorous cry. It's the quick, dirty release that it needs to be, and then you buck up and you get your ass on the next bus to somewhere vaguely near your desired destination. You get a big Snapple and a trashy magazine and you COMMIT to being a part of that gross place while chalking over the money for your Amtrak ticket back home. 

4.) Fancy hotel bars

The Ace Hotel or, Fancy-Town.

The Ace Hotel or, Fancy-Town.

The exact opposite of Port Authority, the fancy hotel bar gives you a comfortable, plush, crushed velvet couch that you can call your own while you sit with whatever poor girlfriend is stuck listening to you cry about having too much work, not enough work, too many men, not enough men, too many credit cards, not enough credit cards, and various other fake problems that can only be shared over drinks where at least one of the ingredients are muddled. I love a fancy hotel bar, like that library themed bar in the Ace Hotel because everyone is trying so so hard. If you're the woman/man (because ya'll cry too) crying at the Ace Hotel bar, the facade gone. You might as well unbutton your jeans and let the mascara run free, your walls are down and the pressure is off and you can ACTUALLY ENJOY what a nice place it really is. Also, ain't nobody gonna ask to share that crushed velvet couch with you crying like that, so spread out and stretch and live your life!

5.) 59th and Lexington Subway Stop

Crying when I took this picture because, life.

Crying when I took this picture because, life.

This one might just be my special place so, please don't take it from me. Go find your own subway stop to cry at, this one's mine, I've cried all over it. For some reason, anytime my feelings are being felt it's at this exact station, most specifically in the underpass from the uptown to the downtown trains. It's so gross there, the rats outnumber humans 3 to 1. I think it wants to be glamorous, what with the Bloomingdale's and all, but somewhere between 1950 and today, the charm has been lost. But here's the thing: that charm and glamor are still alive within every single commuter passing through that station. Crying Bligh has been handed tissues, given seats on the bench, and even been gifted a free water from the bodega. Whenever I needed a bit of kindness it was always readily given by a person at this station. Maybe those people spent their fair share of time crying at 59th and Lex too, and they get it, and they want to pass along a good deed or two. I'd like to believe that because it makes me happy but maybe my pale blotchy-skin cry face are wicked scary and people are trying to avoid me. Whatever the reason may be, I implore you to find your own special train station where you feel free enough to cry. Just make sure it's a stop accessible during your regular commute and that the people (and rats) are kind. 

*Because all the women are usually named Jenny, and I'm sorry if that sounds rude of me I actually think Jenny is an awesome name.  

**This is a boldface lie.  

***these bowls are awesome. I'm sorry, but they're way more awesome than the name Jenny.  

 

 

 

Remember When I Didn't Like You for No Reason?

image.jpg

I hate when there's a little piece of hair in my mouth, and I can't figure out where it is or how to get it out. I hate when humans are in line at Dunkin during my morning commute and they decide to ask questions. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW? This place has mediocre (if not excessively lovable) coffee! Move on, mama's got a Q train to catch! I hate dirty dishes because I know that if dirty dishes had a voice they would sound like Fran Drescher with those elongated, judgmental vowels telling me to "just cleeeeeaaaaannnn meeeeee alreadyyyyy." I hate one word emails, keys that don't fit in the keyhole easily and--more than anything--I hate women who do not support other women. 

Let's get one thing perfectly clear, right off the bat: I have been that woman before. I'm not proud of this. I regret two things in my life: the times I've spent being catty towards undeserving women, and the time I had the chance to hug Stephen Sondheim and I didn't. I worry about Stephen Sondheim and Jennifer Aniston every single day. I'd like to tell you more about that, but it's for another day, another post. 

As a woman who has spent too much time cutting down, chastising, and diminishing other women (purely because I was envious), I can tell you with full authority that this behavior will not make your life better. It won't help you find personal clarity. You will not be happier because you read some woman on her poor life choices or behavior. As a matter of fact, you will only be worse for the wear. You will not suddenly have all your ducks in a row, you won't immediately be in the perfect relationship, you won't be thinner, or more talented, or even have healthier hair. You will still be you, riddled with self doubt and work needing to be done. And on top of it all, you'll have wasted hours of your life when you could've been actively improving you.

 I've noticed, more often than not, the crux of a female cut-down session centers around a woman who has "taken" your/your friend's man. I will say this now because it's the smartest thing I have ever said and I want it written down forever as gospel truth: I have never met/dated/attracted/found a man worth fighting another woman over. They are not worth the fight, the catty behavior, the nasty digression in maturity level. This is another lesson I had to learn the hard way, but now that it's understood, please heed my advice and stop wasting energy hating some woman because she's with your ex. I would sooner justify fighting a woman over a wrap dress at the DVF sample sale than fighting over a man. Live in that truth. 

I host this lady's brunch once a month where I email a lot of badass women whom I think need to know each other and we get together and we drink and eat and laugh and listen. We share ideas and commiserate over things that aren't going according to plan. We discuss how we can help one another. Just two weeks ago we hatched a brilliant idea for a Kickstarter that I can't even tell you about because it's so smart it'll blow ya damn minds. We spent an afternoon rallying around one another, not breaking each other down. It felt nice to look at the group and know that time could stop, we really could relax and let the perpetual female guard down. I caught myself wondering why I've spent/spend so much time thinking someone's out out to get me. I am nobody's Olivia Pope or Carrie Mathison! My life more resembles an episode of "Finding Your Roots" than a television drama: there's a lot of laughing through snot-tears* exclaiming "I never knew that!" There's not as much drama or need to protect myself as I think, and that goes for all relationships, not just the female ones. 

So, as a final thought, to those women out there who think there is some secret battle being fought over ex-boyfriends and lovers lost, over work and talent levels, over who looks thinner or prettier: give it a rest. Please, take a deep breath. Namaste it out. Channel every ounce of jealously and resentment you have towards these other women and do something that makes you better. It's fucking incredible what we can accomplish when we get out of our own way. 

 

 

*snot-tears: when you're crying so hard that your nose is running but the tears and the snot are one in the same and you sort of hope those around you don't notice. Or if they do, they love you anyway. 

 

This Continuous Struggle

I'm a 26 year-old blonde hair, blue eyed white woman and I can get anything I want. I've used sex to get what I want. I've used wit to get what I want. But what I've found is that because of who I am, (more specifically what I look like) I don't particularly have to try so hard to get my way. It's often handed to me, no questions asked, nothing asked for in return. And if I get my way this time, that exceptional privilege will change. 

I was a 10 year-old blonde hair, blue eyed white girl and I was a racist. A year prior, I had been walking home with my mother and brother and I was mugged by two black men with knives, in broad daylight, a block and a half away from my house. It's funny, when you are in danger, the things you remember and the things you forget. My mother can only remember that one guy grabbed me from her and put a knife to my throat. I can only remember the look on my mother's face: she wasn't in control anymore. I had this realization that I'd never know safety again, because if your parents aren't in control, who will ever be able to truly take care of you? 

For an entire year, I was terrified to go outside and I stopped talking to all the black kids I had been friends with at school. I stopped playing with a black boy on my street who had been my bosom buddy since we were old enough to play wiffle ball or hide and seek in the alley. He would still come by for a while, knock on the door and ask my mom if I wanted to play. I wouldn't even look at him. I convinced myself that my home, my neighborhood, my whole city (with an African American population of 52%*) was not safe. I was angry, I was mad, I was deeply scared. In my mind, the only way to be safe was to refuse to talk to or aknowledge all black people. My fear manifested itself as some warped need to protect myself from enemies

. I couldn't comprehend and process my anger so I decide to demonize an entire race of people.  But then, that changed too. 

I got into therapy. I got into theatre, I took voice lessons. I loved performing and music so much there was no longer any space for that intense hate and anger and fear. I learned to articulate the root of my emotions instead of cowardly hiding behind racial profiling. My parents raised my brothers and I to love, to expose our demons and rise above, and to believe in the strength of change. 

I am a 26 year-old blonde hair, blue eyed white woman and last night on the subway at Union Square I begged a cop to stop and frisk me like I watched him do to a 14 year-old black boy whom he had caught moving between subway cars, but this time, I didn't get my way. I insisted, and I told him if he was looking to meet his quota he could search me instead. I ride the subway multiple times a day and no one ever stops me. As a matter of fact, in 2013 the NYPD stopped only 20,877 people who looked like me (white) and 104,958 black men and women.** So, my question is, when does it start to change? 

The positive that can come out of this friction hanging in the air is that change is coming. But it's not inevitable, it's a continuous struggle. Our grandparent's generation was racist. Our parent's generation was less racist, but silent about the obivous white privilege which entitled them to advantage and convenience. But they raised our generation, and this generation is filled with an uncomfortable awareness that this privlidge is wrong. We are aware of our unbalanced judicial system. We are aware that the only true "free" indivdual in this country--void of soicial, racial, or sexual predjudice, is a heterosexual white man. We are an over-educated, emotionally driven generation of dreamers. And if we (not just the ones who look like me but the collecetive whole of not entirely "free" individuals: all women, all black men, all homosexuals, all transgenders, all Asians, all Latinos, all Natives, and anyone else who's basic human rights are in jeopardy) ban together, change will happen. We refuse to allow another Ferguson. We refuse to allow another Michael Brown, or another Eric Garner, or another Trayvon Martin. We refuse to allow anymore hate crimes. We refuse to allow sexual assault. We ban together as a collective whole who peacefully believe in the power of our numbers and the strength in our commitment to enact change. We change, we evolve together or not at all. 

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent." - MLKJr 

*2012 United States Census Bureau 

**American Civil Liberties Union, New York State Branch

 

To One It Concerns

When I started this blog, there were very few guidlines for subjects I would not broach. The rule was self-imposed so as not to get caught in a trap of writing exclusively about love, or dating, or lovely dating in New York City. I know lots of fantasticly written, witty blogs about dating in NYC (ya'll should read up about my girl Tinderella) but it's just not my pig, not my farm. 

And then I met someone. And he was my jam. But I didn't want to share him. When you freely share every other aspect of your silly life (remember when I shared my peeing preferences?) with readers and the general public, the things you love become clearer and more sacred than before. Maybe that's weird? I just didn't feel like sharing here, chickens! Besides, relationships end and sometimes you go through rough spells and to open the floodgate to talk about all that here seemed cheap.

And then, through the miracle of boxed wine and a mutual commitment to mornings filled with quiet time and personal space, I made it to a full year with that someone I met. Which is cool because it's been the best goddamn year of my life. And maybe, now, it's okay to share a bit about that person I love because I know they'll love the gesture. And it doesn't matter anymore (or ever, really) what anyone else thinks. What matters most is getting that someone you love to smile and understand that they are, in fact, your jam. So,

To my boy, who had the audacity to ask me to sing back up for him at MY cabaret, you've got balls...I like that about you. I'm genuinely sorry I butchered singing your back up, definitely sorry I lied about watching the youtube video to make sure I knew it the two times you asked...I was pretty focused on myself that night. Thank you for being cool about me taking another boy to your bar to make you jelaous. That was pretty lame of me, but the way you handled it made me like you even more. Which is why I want to say big time thank you for not running when I texted, "When are you going to ask me out?" instead of politely waiting for you to ask me, as a lady should. You impressed me from the beginning with your intellegence and your confidence. You made me feel attractive from the get go, but more importantly, you made me feel smart and funny and that was sexiest of all. 

To my bozo, who once said "every morning feels like dying," who can only open one eye for the first hour after waking. To my idiot who packed a gigantic shelf of books into approximately 37 small, wine/liquor sized boxes. That made moving from DC to New York super easy and wicked fun. To my boz* who derives a borderline-unhealthy, naive happiness from anyone speaking/singing/performing on the subway, most especially for SHOWTIME! You look like a kid in a candy store, it's amazing and scary all at the same time. To my guy who reminds me "Baby, this is a computer" each time I'm within 5 feet of your computer with a drink in hand. I know that's a computer...I'm aware it would be detrimental to spill said drink on/near/around that which you call computer. Thank you. That's pretty annoying, but I know you can get anxious and also, #patience. 

To my man, who read every single blog post I'd ever written before taking me on a date. You kept trying to feed me multiple meals because of this. To my man who edits everything I write, who's seen every performance, heard every cabaret, seen every show. You've been my biggest advocate. To my man who helped me move three out of five times this summer, that was a lot. You're not much of a driver, but who am I to talk? Thank you for driving me to middle of nowhere Pennsylvania and being so patient when everyone in the Applebee's stared at you for being the darkest man in the restaurant. To my man, who in this last difficult month has never once faltered in unwavering support when we needed it most.   

Listen. I don't have any money and not much of a career to speak of (read: yet). I don't own an apartment or a car. I think I have a 401K but I'm not sure, my dad takes care of that. I'm nobody's catch on paper. But I love you and I dig spending time with you. Thank you for digging me, for spending time with me.

xx 

*boz: slang for bozo, a term of endearment conceived on a Q train, inspired by a subway "artist" named Toni Macaroni.  

This will be our year, took a long time to come.

This will be our year, took a long time to come.

A Lady's Truth

Oh my but the fall weather makes me all kindsa feisty. I think it's the compounded affect of transitioning to warm, caffeinated drinks and my dislike of that "sweaty cold" sensation. You know, when it's windy and perhaps some might say "nippy" and yet, while hustling to your next destination you are somehow sweaty? I perpetually live in this state during the fall as I am naturally (and unfortunately) a sweaty lady. Sometimes I like to pretend I'm just sweatier than most other people because I'm living harder. There is no science to that. 

Catalyst of feistiness aside, I want to get back to the topic at hand which is this idea of what a lady should be. I am a sweaty lady, I am often a tardy lady, and the other day on the train a poor unassuming man got a justly deserved dose of feisty lady.

It was mid-afternoon on a weekday, on a fairly deserted Q train. I had been up since 7am, working the morning until 1pm and I was on my way to my second job, but not before a quick audition in midtown. I had calculated that to make my next job at 2:30pm I would need to leave ten minutes before 1pm from my first job, pray the trains were running smoothly, and do my makeup en route. Now, to clarify, this is not EVER my ideal situation. No lady yearns to be skilled in liquid eyeliner application on a bumpy subway car. That's like, not a goal, just so everyone's aware. But sometimes you have to factor in audition primping during travel time as a necessary evil of a busy day. But someone had feelings about this. As I sit, balancing two bags and a mascara wand a middle-aged man chimes in:

MAN: You look great, stop fiddling with your face.

ME:Oh. Um, thank you.

MAN: Yeah, you girls nowadays with the primping on the train. It's not ladylike ya know. And when I was young, a lady did this kinda stuff at home so us men didn't have to know all about your beauty tricks. 

...tricks? First of all, miserly-man-I-refuse-to-call-sir, mascara and eye-liner are not "tricks" they're sacred historical tradition (thanks Cleopatra). And second of all, REALLY? You think I'm sitting here uncomfortably getting ready for this audition out of some personal, social decorum revolution I'm staging? You think I like rushing from place to place, carrying my life on my back? Do you think I really like that I know which Starbucks bathrooms are clean enough to change shoes in? I'm proud of that, but I don't like it. But...oh...I see...you do think that somehow all this beauty trickery is for you. Well, I'll clarify then: 

ME: This is not all for you. This, all this "fiddling" is more than likely for two badass gay men and maybe a dainty brunette casting assistant. And ALSO, it's not really for them either. But how can you begin to understand when your "younger" days more than likely refer to a time 20 plus years ago when you had hair on your head.*

...now that last bit was rude and unnecessary. And I'm sorry, truly. I know how particular your sex can be about the hair issue. And wouldn't it be horrible if you lived in a world where society was hellbent on deeply ingraining ideology that one of your JOBS was to keep up some preconceived notion of how a gentlemen should look/behave/dress/speak? That there was some sort of judgment put upon you as an individual because of your subsequent lack of hair? Wouldn't that be difficult!

Men of the world, the truth is women are not dressing or primping to impress you. I PROMISE. If I wore what every man I've ever dated thought I looked sexy in I'd dress exclusively in large button down  shirts and hot yoga shorts with my hair half up, half down. What's so great about that, by the way? The half up half down. It makes me feel like it's 1995 and I'm struggling to figure out what hairstyle will go with my First Communion veil. But back to the point, it's important ya'll understand how MUCH we are not dressing for you. Some women do, to be sure. But the majority, I swear to you, could care less what you think about their outfit or their hair or their makeup. We want you only to articulate how beautiful we are. That's it. But when we dress up, it's for one of the following reasons:

1.) Women dress for other women.

-You guys. This is the truest thing. Want to know why? All women are trying to impress other women. Even when we're all "Oh my gosh stop I do NOT look angelic today in this messy top knot and perfectly matching Lululemon ensemble!" we love when we get compliments from other women. There is an underworld of female to female flirting that you will never understand. And if you're a lady incapable of admitting that you've been attracted to/flirted with another woman for a variety of reasons, then I just need you to go watch any Penelope Cruz movie. Any one of them and get back to me...

2.) Women dress to try a concept.

-In tandem with the aforementioned, women dress in what I refer to as "concepts" and then try them out around their girlfriends to get a good idea of its wearability. Everyone needs a friend like my girl Whitney who's going to tell you your "top looks like a quinceanera vomited all over it." THAT'S friendship. But sometimes you see something on Pinterest that you've just got to try! Some concepts end  up really taking off and changing your style for the better. There was a whole summer I spent in suspenders and bandanas like a 70's runaway living on a cult compound, farming the land. That summer was the shit. 

3.) Women dress to "feel skinny."

-I know, I know. This is a bad thing to say, Bligh! This is anti-feminist! And yes, it absolutely is. But it's also absolutely true. Why not try to stop blaming mainstream media, magazines, model culture and the American obsession with "beautiful is skinny" and admit that WE ALL ALREADY THINK THIS WAY. Even when it's not PC to admit, if you think it, say it. Maybe if we said it more instead of hiding behind faux female empowerment and shared Jezebel articles we could enact some change about female body dysmorphia. Maybe. Because the truth is, I dress to feel skinny when I walk out the door. I want to look like the best version of my damn self and that version is the American, svelte Natalie Dormer! I want to FEEL like  the healthiest version of myself, but sometimes, that's not an option when getting dressed in the morning. I can admit to dressing to get thru my day feeling good about myself by "looking skinny." And I'm ok with that. 

So you see, there are plenty of reasons why I, and many other women get dressed every morning. Our fiddling is for ourselves (as most good fiddling is) and for a plethora of other reasons besides the ones I've noted. But the main takeaway should perhaps be: who really cares? Let's redefine a "lady" as someone who makes it work with as much finesse and grace as she can muster in her given circumstance. And let's redefine a "gentlemen" as someone who gracefully declines comment during said redefining process? It's worth as much of a try as the safe execution of an even cat-eye on a moving Q train.

 

*I'd like to take this moment to be honest and say what actually came out of my mouth in retort the subway man was something like, "Leave me alone, you are bald." Which, again, is deserving of dozens of aplogies for its rudness and overall unimaginative delivery

 

 

 

 

 

 

My brother Liam and I being idiots, me in full concept outfit.   

My brother Liam and I being idiots, me in full concept outfit. 

 

Likes This Status

Hello, my name is Bligh and I am addicted to likes. It's been...36 seconds since I last liked something. I think about liking things all the time. Like, I* like everything mostly. There's just...so much to like. The things I want to like the most usually include, but are not limited to are the following: babies, anything related to Chipotle, anytime anyone mentions Beyonce, pictures of babies wearing sunglasses, love, witty comments, and any documentation of babies wearing sunglasses eating in a Chipotle while saying something witty and executing that lil handshake bit from Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video.

I'm trying to like less as I'm aware it's just a manifestation of the bigger addiction to social media. But the LIKES man! I need to click the like. It feels so good. It makes me feel like I've done something worthwhile with my day, regardless of the fact I'm still in pajamas youtubing "how to cornrow" ad nauseum. I've liked shit. I'm spreading love, one like at a time! And mayhaps, I'm like, the Buddha of Likes. I'm an Enlightened Liker! (This is now a thing. You should probably like it.)

And there's the word like. It's completely perfect. So many different, distinct meanings and phrases wrapped into such a wee, overused, generational trend of a word! Sometimes a like is all, "thank you." And then you see a friend's funny quip and you want them to know, "good one" so you LIKE all up on it! Another friend is with child? Fantastic! I LIKE that so much for you! Not for me. I'm good. But YOU. Namaste to you and your babe in the womb! Sometimes, a like simply means, "I saw that." I'm trying to avoid these likes...but...the temptation to make sure I catch every single thing every single person I've met once at a Wicked ECC says/documents/does is just...too much for this addict.

I know I like too much. In order to work on this little problem of mine, I've devised a plan of action. For each impetus I have to "like" something on social media a friend of mine has posted, I take a deep breath, and if applicable, I call their number. The first victim? My younger brother and Draco Malfoy impersonator, Eamon Wall Voth. Our interaction went something like this:

ME: HEY! Eamon! What's going on in your life today? How're things? How's that girl you met on OkCupid who manages that froyo store at home I like?

EAMON: ...that's over...

ME: But it just started?

EAMON: Yeah, she wasn't the one.

ME: ...Okay. And ALSO, I want you to know that I really like  your new profile picture.

EAMON: Thanks, it was taken on a rooftop.

ME: I LIKE THAT. I LOVE roofs! Awesome Eamon, really great.

EAMON: Are you doing alright? Go get a Dunkin, you'll feel better...

Based on the above interaction, I think it's time to find a different way to combat the addiction to like. I can't like it all. No one can. That's just silly. And there are things outside to do! And air to breathe! And books to read! And hair to cornrow! And human beans* to truly interact and connect with. I know this might not change overnight. Addiction is a strong and rude biddie that will vomit on your favorite pair of shoes and not even apologize. But we keep trying, every day, a little bit more. And the dream? The dream is we'll all "like" ourselves enough to not feel obligated to like or be liked by anyone else. That's the dream. I fuckin' love it.

*"human beans" is a reference from the awesome awesome book The Borrowers which I read at least three times while part of my Catholic school's elite (read: dorky) Battle of the Books Club right around the tender age of 11, and I think you should take a minute and read it, too, if you haven't already. Boom.

 

The Poor Girl's Guide to Luxurious Substitution

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July is so stupid. It’s just so stupid. Stupid July, stupid month where I’ve lost my monthly subway pass not once, not twice, but three times in the last week and a half. And no I’m not going to take responsibility for that because the moon is probably in some weird phase. So while I wait for MTA to get their lives together and refund me approximately $220.00 (hoefully before the winter of 2016) I will go back to my poor, poor-girl roots. Not the literal ones, although those are rearing their mousy brown heads, but the metaphorical ones. I took a little time, made a budget, cried, had a cup of tea and resolved to make a list of all my financial lifestyle shortcuts which manage to retain that oh so endearing air of bougie. If you’re fearing for your financial well-being like myself, I also suggest taking a deep breath and acknowledging that none of us came out of our mother’s vagina holding fistfuls of hundred dollar bills. Not a one. Without further ado here is:

THE POOR GIRL’S GUIDE TO LUXURIOUS SUBSTITUTION

Poor girl’s avocado- Eggs in every possible way they can be prepared.

Poor girl’s dessert- White toast with butter, sugar sprinkled on top.

Poor girl’s steak tartar- Raw hamburger meat.

Poor girl’s cocktail- Diet coke and Chateau Diana (I prefer the Merlot) mixed together served in whatever you own which most closely resembles a goblet.

Poor girl’s kombucha- Old strawberries in your fridge muddled in lukewarm water.

Poor girl’s energy drink: Pour a whole Emergen-C packet in your mouth, add a little bit of water and swish it all around.

Poor girl’s whiskey- Now we don't mess around here. Buy whatever you damn well please!

Poor girl’s botox- Bangs.

Poor girl’s facelift- A very severe, pulled back top knot.

Poor girl’s colonic- Coffee.

Poor girl’s manicure/pedicure- That $4 polish change from your favorite nail girl. Lest we forget Betty, remember?

Poor girl’s makeover- Sephora counter for a full beat, but buy ONLY the lip color.

Poor girl’s dry cleaning- 1 part rubbing alcohol 2 parts water in a spray bottle and go to town on anything that smells.

Poor girl’s itunes spree- SoundCloud.

Poor girl’s shopping spree- This blog.

Poor girl’s workout- Start a fight in a bar to the point where you run out fast for a few blocks (in heels).

Poor girl’s brunch- Diet coke and a cigarette.

Poor girl’s day out in NYC- Trip to go get a library card (DON’T forget that proof of address!)

Poor girl’s theatre date- YouTube the Kennedy Center Honors.

Poor girl’s movie date- Every Netflix documentary in the "Newly Added" section.

Poor girl’s fancy bar date- Wrap yourself in twinkly lights and spread a blanket on the floor and eat small pickles. This is what every bar in Brooklyn is like.

Poor girl’s Sara Bareilles concert- Drink a half box of pink wine and unabashedly cry and dance to the whole “Blessed Unrest” album.

Poor girl’s therapy session: Call a wise gay man.

My sweet sweet (first) guest blogger and India Arie enthusiast who needs YOUR help!

 
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And nowwwww for something new and different and exciting! Here is a special blog from my very first guest blogger, and dear friend, yogi-uke-goddess, Kristen Garaffo! She's raising money through an indiegogo campaign for her life coach certification and she has 60 hours left to make it happen! Read, then perhaps maybe donate? She's a lovely creature, a badass teacher, and an overall inspiring person so if anything, give this a read and namasteeee! "India.Arie is my soul sister. I wish she was my friend in real life. Her wisdom, her words, and her music are so inspiring, and when her album Songversation came out - it was all I listened to for weeks. Her music lit a little fire in my heart - it made me want to move my body around, practice yoga, and go change the world.

So naturally, I played her music in my yoga classes. I played her song, "I am Light" during savasana for a yoga class at Fords Theatre, for the cast and crew of A Christmas Carol. The song is so peaceful and beautiful - it just lends itself to yoga. And then y'all...magic happened.

I had NO IDEA the song would have such an impact. There were tears, emotional releases were happening and we were feeling ALL of our feelings. It became our mantra. It became the fam jam. (Bligh came up with the cutie name, duh) At the time, Bligh was performing weekly at LaTiDo here in DC - and she invited myself, and our friends Felicia and Kellee to sing the fam jam during her set. I'm pretty sure everyone at the cabaret OMed. We said Namaste before we sang. We listened to it every week. Along with Potbelly's cookies, Ella's pizzeria, and lots of Dunkin, I am Light kept us going through a 12 show week.

When I was trying to figure out what to call my Indiegogo campaign, I wrestled with it. I wanted to include something with light...radiate, glow, shine, something like that...and honestly, it was rough. And then it dawned on me. Why try and come up with another name when we already have a mantra, and one that is already so simple and perfect! The I Am Light campaign was created.

My name is Kristen, and I am raising money for a karma yoga leadership retreat and life coach certification. I am light. You are light. I think we forget sometimes, and I just want to remind you. You are enough, and you are exactly where you need to be right now. For real :)

...But...ya know what?

Sometimes I DONT feel like Light. (#Honesty08)

Sometimes, I don't want to talk about LIGHT and happiness and chasing dreams. Sometimes, I want to hide under the covers and eat ice cream. Or yell at someone for being stupid. It's not always happy feelings and magic. Sometimes it's shit. Sometimes I feel like shit. And it sucks. It freaking blows. There are plenty of times I've called someone a name that was hurtful - and I immediately wish I could take it back. It sucks.

One of my biggest fears, especially as I dive into coaching, and even just doing this Indiegogo campaign in the first place, is that I will come off as knowing all of the answers, that I sit in this "light" and others don't, and that we are divided into "those who offer help" and "those who need help". It couldn't be farther from the truth. The truth is - we are both!!

Feeling like shit once in a while is being human. Every single person on the planet makes mistakes. We are not alone, our imperfections make us whole. We are all doing the best we can, and when you know better - you do better. (That's a Maya Angelou gem. Thank you thank you Maya!)

Life isn't supposed to be all ups without downs. I'm not here to write about how the bar at Pride situation could have been handled differently by breathing or staying present or singing India.Arie. Sometimes you blurt something out you wish you could take back. And since we can't go back in time, or put words back in our mouth as if we never said them - all we can do is own up to our actions. Brene Brown says whenever we take the time to share our feelings and experiences (good and bad) openly and honestly, that is courage. I think our girl Bligh is an honest, open and courageous woman for sharing the gems in her life, the good and the bad. I strive to practice courage everyday, and sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't. And that's ok. But on the good days, when I dig deep and choose to be courageous and ask for what I need, or own up to a mistake, or stand up for what I believe in - whenever we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better, and the world a little bit braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver."

To donate to Kristen's campaign click literally right here

Sorry...Sir

For most of my life I've had the great fortune of being raised by drastically dissenting opinions on just about everything from religion to politics to education to art. Mama Voth is a all KINDS of liberal, Hillary Clinton is her spirit animal, while Daddy Voth is much more conservative. It used to make me very angry that there was rarely ONE topic of conversation that wasn't argued to death, or over analyzed or picked apart and challenged. But in hindsight it's allowed for the creation of my own very strong opinions without feeling the familial pressure to conform to a unified consensus. And so when I say I am one hundred percent behind gay rights and Equality, that is all me, all my choice. I love gay men. Gay men are my best friends, and my coworkers, my confidantes, my family. A lot of gay men happen to be my ex-boyfriends. I love and admire anyone who possesses the courage to live their lives honestly, with integrity, perhaps even when it is difficult to do so knowing that others will ostracize you for that honesty.

All that being said: I called a gay bartender a queen in the derogatory sense during Pride Week and now I feel like a huge asshole. I guess...well, no no, I feel really horrid. I've never been one for intense name calling in moments of duress and anger, mostly because my brain and mouth have the blessing of only working in tandem when I'm on a happy, funny roll. (That's a nice way of saying when I think I'm being happy and funny.) Fortunately or unfortunately I am a believer in the weight of words. Recently, when I've been angry, I'm going to call you a name. Probably a lot of names. Until I find the one that really bothers you. This seems to be a generational trend. If a woman doesn't want to sleep with a man, she's a bitch. If a man cheats on his girlfriend he's an asshole or a dick. Or both. If a gay man reads the crap out of you, he's a queen or a faggot or a slew of other names. And in the moment, when we've felt slighted or accosted, it seems absolutely acceptable and downright necessary to "protect" ourselves.

The reality is, there is absolutely nothing acceptable about using derogatory names. I just keep thinking how goddamn ignorant I was that night. For goodnesssake, I've gone to THREE fake colleges, I'm in a BOOK CLUB, I read the Washington Post (only the front page, and the Style section in its entirety) and I know better than that. No, but really, all humor aside, I do. This year, I just want to surround myself with intelligent, assertive, confident people and I (too often) am not one of them. I wouldn't want to be around me sometimes. I sit and preach from my blog pulpit of self indulgence about why you shouldn't call me a bitch (read this vintage blog post) and I profess to be enlightened enough to write my observations of people in this city and I have no fucking right. Not when I possess a wellspring of language that could intelligently articulate my feelings without stooping to lowest common denominator parlances.

One of the best parts of having a self-indulgent thing like a blog is that I can use it however I want. I want to say sorry. An honest, sarcasm free, sorry to Aaron the bartender. You called my friend a cunt. And I called you a queen. And none of that was necessary or mature. I'm sorry for not apologizing on the spot when I should have. I'm sorry for having the audacity to be offended when people call me names when I'm clearly no better. I don't know where you stand on the weight of words, but I know where I do. And if I'm not smart enough to respond to you name calling with poise and intelligence, than I shouldn't engage at all.

Should we allow racial or sexual epitaphs to have this amount of power? I don't know. Maybe not. Maybe there is a lot of peace that needs to be made with the words and a lot of accountability that needs to be held over the action or impetus of the anger behind their use. I can only speak for myself. I will still falter, that much is true. I'll still swear like a sailor, but to be fair, "fuck" is the Irish verb/adjective/pronoun of choice and that is a habit which (best case scenario) will die a slow, slow death. I'll do the best I fucking can. And maybe, let's all take a minute to assess if we are surrounding ourselves with people who challenge us to do the same.

Another gem of the Contra!

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YOU GUYS. Here's a rare picture of my beautiful "boy" Xena Warrior Princess Contra partner, Sam. I love her. The older woman I am holding hands with here...I think her name was Deidre? She had weak thumbs, or so she said...And maybe it's too soon for Elizabeth Smart references BUT DOESN'T THAT BLONDE GIRL WITH THE BRAID LOOK LIKE ELIZABETH SMART?!?! Just. Saying. Also saying, it's nice to be back sweet biddies:)

Contra-Wha?

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One time my friends Shannon and Vishal and I went contra-dancing with about 200 50-somethings in the west village. I'm not sure how to continue. I suppose explaining contra-dancing would be the next logical step...but...it's hard to describe something that you yourself are uncertain of. Did it happen? Was everyone we encountered and touched in holy palmers' kiss, real? I know the post dancing trip to Chipotle was real, that much is true because Shannon taught me that one can get half chicken and half veggies in your burrito bowl if one asks politely. So, I know it happened. Yes?

In 2014 I am trying to hold myself more accountable. That's a fancy way of saying "be on time." It's very difficult for me to arrive places in a timely fashion, or, sometimes show up at all. Not because I don't care or lack respect for you: it's a deeply ingrained belief that I can do all the things at once and it only takes five minutes to get anywhere from my apartment. This belief is rooted in my penchant for bullshit. I am all kinds of aware it needs to change and so, when Shannon texted me and asked if I would like to go Contra-dancing with him and Vishal I said, "yes, and what time?"

It's important to start by saying I was still late to meet them. No matter that the dance had started, Stephanie told me as she greeted me at the front desk with her patchwork skirt and silver plaited hair. "Find someone wearing a button and ask them to dance! They'll catch you up! Oh, and tell them I sent you," she finishes with a wink and a warm smile. THANK YOU STEPHANIE! What a doll of Christ you are! I proceed down the stairs of the church basement to what, I assume will be a couple dozen people dancing and perhaps a celebratory sheet cake. THAT WAS VERY WRONG. I walk into the most luxury of indoor basketball courts filled with hundreds of people who find deodorant optional and not an air conditioning system to be found! BUT THE SPIRIT! In the far opposite corner I spot a five-piece band playing the most jovial of folk music. Next to them is a man with a feather in his cap (real life) speaking into a microphone and shouting out phrases that mean nothing to me. He is what we call in the contra-dance world, the Caller. I know this now sounds like a character from The Giver, but this shit is real. Amidst the chaos of eight lines of 40-odd people facing their partners, I finally spot my friends. Vishal! Shannon! WHY ARE YA'LL SO SWEATY?! I mean, I'm only about 20 minutes late and, to me, that's fairly on time. How did they get so worked up in such a short amount of time??

ME: You guys are sweaty. SHANNON: THIS IS SO FUN! VISHAL: Bligh, get ready for the next dance, this is Sam, she's awesome, she'll be the boy don't worry.

...it's at this moment I look up (quite literally) to meet the gaze of a six-feet tall gazelle/Amazon/Xena Warrior Princess redhead. Her wavy tresses cascade down her back in a wild mess of curls. I immediately want to straighten them for her. She's wearing what appears to be a bolt of lace held together by ribbons left over from the last Maypole Dance. She is also sporting a gigantic pin that reads, "I SWING BOTH WAYS." ....I couldn't make this up if I tried. "Hi I'm Sam, I'll be the boy." OK girllll, you be the boy. I'm just gonna follow YOU. Her hands are sweaty. She's just told me she's a boy. I decide to breathe and trust.

"Bow to your partner and handy-hand to the left!" the Caller announces...The fuck is the Handy-Hand? The next move is called "Box the Gnat." I am trying to listen to the Caller and execute these moves I have never head of before but I can't! It's too much! I'm getting so sweaty so fast! Sam must have noticed my mounting fear. "Listen, I got you," she says, "The next step is just a fancy name for a do-si-do so just relax and have fun!" OKAY Sam. You're right. I will! To my surprise, the minute I stopped trying to perfect the dances, I got them. And, I'm not one for bragging...but...I got kinda good. Real fast. The next partnered dance had an "advanced" move called the "Courtesy Turn" which was EXPERTLY executed by Vish, Shannon, and myself to such an extent that seasoned veterans took notice. And complimented us. In our third set, a Caller chose me to dance with him. I think his name was Jim and he was about sixty and he twirled me around a lot more than was necessary. He told me I must be a professional. He also sai---you know, actually I'd prefer to keep this bit to myself as to preserve it's sanctity.

About an hour in, Anne (the head of this whole delicious Contra dance night) got on the microphone."OK guys heyyyyyy! What an awesome event, huh? It makes my heart swell to see all these new faces. Brought together by the love of dance! Thank you all for coming, this is a very old established community and it's just all about meeting people and making new friends, huh yeah? But, set to music. Lovely. Beautiful night. Now ok so Jerry and I talked and we thought, you know, let's just order some pizzas, yeah? So ok, raise your hand if you want pizza. We're just getting cheese. Just cheese. So raise your hand. Okay....I think like, I have about, it looks like around 100 of you want pizza. So I'll go order those pizza pies, ok guys? Awesome wonderful. And listen, just pay me a few dollars when you can, ok? Thanks guys, ok dance! Pizza later, dance now!"

SHANNON: That's not the most organized way to have done that. ME: Agreed. VISHAL: We are sweaty.

And we were. We were sweaty and happy. It's impossible to not giggle your way through a beautiful, sweaty night, perfecting the art of the Contra dance amongst friends. I love New York for moments like this, where something totally random and a bit odd happens that you couldn't do anywhere else. Like the time I made a frittata out of an ostrich egg, or that time I took a yoga class next to Uma Thurman and cried. THINGS LIKE THAT. As Vishal and Shannon and I enjoyed our burrito bowls after a strong, long night of dancing I was reminded how much I love them! And how, it's okay to be a tad late to everything, people will still love you back. And sometimes, they'll love you so much that they buy you pizza. But just cheese pizza. Love ain't that fancy.

Hashtag Perspective

Today, I lost my ID. This might not seem like a big deal to you, dear reader, but my ID was the only article that I've SOMEHOW been able to keep ahold of for the last ten years of my life. I've lost two cell phones, a half dozen clutches, my favorite romper EVER en route to the dry cleaners on a windy day, and years of my life and brain cells to the Real Housewives franchise. But I've never lost my ID. I took pride in that. It was always like, "My dignity has been lost in Bethesda, Maryland but I STILL HAVE MY ID!" And now? Now I can't even brag about that menial success. I was feeling pretty poorly about myself, about how I'm a shoddy excuse for an adult and I will probably die alone surrounded by empty containers of chocolate frosting and 17 cats, still sans ID, when I realized: this is ridiculous. There are real problems. This surely cannot be a real problem. I mean, yes it is, because it's an inconvenience. And I guess I'll have to bring my passport to Trader Joe's Wine Shop now. But it'll be fine. And there are PLENTY of things I haven't lost in my 25 years on this earth! Like, important things that make me happy! That matter more than a picture of me that had my weight (which I DID NOT sanction) and height written underneath a shot which made me look like I was in women's prison. Let me tell you something. The secret to being a happy person? Lists. I swear to you. Make em biddies, they will never let you down. So without further ado, here is:

A LIST OF 7 THINGS I'VE MANAGED TO NOT LOSE AT ANY POINT OF MY LIFE

1) My last name. -Still got it! Not married! Still mine! And it's scary to look at, so the fact that I've never discarded it is nothing to scoff at. Voth. It's strong, it makes a guttural sound when spoken aloud, and people pronounce it two different ways which gives me an air of mystery...in my head...after wine.

2) My grandmother's gold charm bracelet. - I love that thing, but that thing has also been a great many places it shouldn't have. Like Cabo. And college. Aside from any monetary value, that charm bracelet makes me feel very elegant and lady like and genteel and it reminds me of my grandmother. It should come out on special occasions like Christmas and the day Peeps become seasonally appropriate to carry in your local CVS. Not for girl's trips to Mexico. No.

3) My Shoe. -I have never ever been THAT girl who's like, "I lost a shoe somewhereeeeeelikkeeeeeat like, Bowery and Houston?!?" She says this when you are absolutely nowhere near Bowery and Houston. I have never been that girl. I've done silly (read: moronic) things LIKE this, but never this.....please let me claim my small victory.

4) My IPad. -Now this is a true triumph because many a many a MANY a time I have left my iPad places but I always remember where it is and quickly retrieve! Just mere months ago I left my iPad on a Megabus and the minute I realized, ran through Union Station like Holly Golightly trying to save that cat in the rain! (Side note: I had to google "top ten famous romantic movies" to find a reference I liked most. And like, A LOT of romantic movies end with a run-back-to-the-one-you-love scene! Except for A Walk to Remember....so...there's that.)

5.) My keys. -Boom. That's a big one. Lots of people lose their keys! NOT ME MOTHERSSSSS. I mean, they're impossible to lose because I carry a key to almost every place I've ever lived, everyone I work for, and at least three copies of my home key in Virginia. Daddy Voth likes to make spares for me because I tend to lose them and well shit I guess this doesn't really count now.

6.) Bobby pins. -Listen. Bobby pins are like a modern-day girl's calling card. I leave these things EVERYWHERE. Bligh's been here. Look. There are those annoyingly blonde bobby pins. (SECOND Side note: WHY HASN'T ANYONE INVENTED BOBBY PINS THAT HAVE A BIT OF A BRUNETTE ROOT?!? You know, just inquiring for a friend.) Yes, I leave bobby pins all over the place but I always have the necessary amount with me. Always. Every time. And I can't remember buying any new bobby pins since 2006, so either I'm stealing them and blocking it out or I've managed to retain a large quantity through osmosis and prayer.

7.) My credit card(s). -Many many moons ago a younger, smarter me decided to get a credit card that depicted one of those creepy/annoying Anne Geddes portraits of a baby dressed as a strawberry on a pepto bismol pink background. I love that credit card. I have NEVER lost it. The original intention behind getting one of these Anne Geddes homage credit cards was twofold. 1) She did that HYSTERICAL and uncomfortable photo shoot with Celine Dion (my spirit animal) holding babies disguised as fruits and vegetables that really spoke to me. I equal parts love and hate those photographs. I'll never forget the Anne Geddes coffee table book in my gynecologist's office that (I believe) single-handedly prevented me from being a teen pregnancy statistic. 2) THE CARD WAS OBNOXIOUSLY PINK. I thought it would always be easiest to find in a pile of cards. And, my sweet biddie readers, I was right.

I'd like to end this post by coming clean and saying it was originally intended to be a list of 10 things I had managed to not lose. But the truth is, I can only think of 7. And you know what? That's enough. I'm tired of beating myself for not being perfect, or having all the things all the times, or making sure everything is just right. Sometimes you lose things. And that's ok. Things can be replaced. Life is about the silver lining, no? So here's mine: no longer will I have to endure that almost ten year-old picture of me with flat ironed hair and sparkle glitter eye-shadow. See? Perspective is a beautiful thing. And I have no intention of losing that.

How to Deal With This Winter and Stop Binge Watching Netflix/Crying

I'm not one for profanity. That's a lie. Well, now I might as well tell you. I'm a liar with a penchant for profanity. And this weather....this winter...deserves a gigantic "fuck you." Some will read this and think, "Bligh! It's winter! It's a cold season! Don't be so overdramatic!" And to whoever is thinking like that, know that I would LOVE to give you a solid "fuck you" too, but I won't because I'm a lady. And because I might've gotten kicked out of cotillion but I remember that a lady doesn't swear at strangers. Yesterday whilst cleaning my closet I found a box of sun dresses and started crying. This is a true story. I wept tears for sun dresses yet to be worn and appreciated. I can't anymore. I can't bundle up like I've willingly chosen to move to the Ukraine. I can't continue to eat all the bread and excuse the behavior as my "building a protective layer against the wind." I want to wear my transitional coats*! I want to do that thing white people do where we wear shorts way before it's acceptable to do so! (#86 on Stuff White People Like) I want to live!

It might be getting warmer soon, who's to say really. I stopped checking the weather on my phone four weeks ago when I realized my morning lookup for the day's temperature coincided with time in line at my Dunkin and I was throwing unnecessary anger and sass at the people I love the most. Now I just dress exclusively in layers and large swatches of colorful fabric. I look like a retired high school theatre teacher in head to toe Chico's 2013 fall/winter line. And you know what? That's FINE! I've embraced it! And I've also developed some habits to fight this winter and think/live positively for the impending spring. Please, let me share with you:

HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS WINTER AND STOP BINGE WATCHING NETFLIX/CRYING

1) Secret It. -I've never read "The Secret" but I have heard it works. Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's just bullshit New Age spiritual philosophy that we all pretend to believe because Oprah says we should. I DON'T KNOW. Let's just try it? The process of "secreting" (to me) involves singing a simple jingle written by three luxury ladies and I five years ago in a dressing room. I wish you could hear it, but the video no longer exists. Just sing, "the secret works!" I suggest a vowel modulation for "works" so that it comes out more like, "weurks-uh!" I also suggest getting a few friends together and singing this jingle in a three part harmony. But, you do you.

2) Get an obnoxiously happy nail color. -See below. This is annoying mostly because no one feels like this is a color that exists anymore. But the sky used to be this color. Remember? It did. And every time you look at your nails, you'll smile. Promise.

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3)Drink like it's the summer. -This one is so easy! Eschew your dark liquors and Hot Toddys! Drink something that needs a wee umbrella to be considered properly garnished! And, although I call tequila "wanna know my secrets" I have warmed up to it again. Life is too short to not actively pretend you're on a tropical island, ten pounds lighter, drinking an unnaturally colored drink served in a fish bowl while making friends with a small monkey who you caught trifling through your beach bag. So order that Mai Tai and drink like it's the summer!

4) Lie to a stranger. -Okay. I do this a lot. But recently, I do it more because I've been walking less and taking more buses (read: cabs) and there seems to be more opportunity to socialize with humans you will NEVER meet again. People on the bus are chatty! They want to know about about ya life! They do not want you to be talking on your phone, but they would like you to engage them in conversation, especially the ones over the age of 95. I've been doing this for years: making up elaborate stories about myself and my background and what I do for a living. It used to be exclusively an airplane practice. Whomever was lucky enough to be my assigned seating partner on long plane rides would hear about how I graduated high school at sixteen and was taking a few years off to travel the country searching for a long lost aunt who had joined a cult in 1973. But now I do this ALL THE TIME. The other day a lady on my bus ride heard about how my lucrative hairdressing career was about to propel me to young entrepreneurial status as I was just about to open up a salon. My cab driver last Tuesday thought I was an opera singer. Just try it! You will never see that person again, and it'll keep you on your toes. You might colossally embarrass yourself and get caught in a fib, but then you'll probably blush and get heated and then it's kind of like summer, no?

5) Go on a very short, brisk walk. -The trick here is to walk far enough so that you might not feel your fingers, but your lungs don't hurt from the intake of frigid air. It's a fine line, but the exhilarating feeling that you are ALIVE is worth the gamble. It's also a nice moment to look around and acknowledge no one is smiling. SO smile at them! They might smile back, or they might tell you to "fuck off," I don't know I'm not in charge of that.

The end is near. It's got to be. I don't mean the end of the earth, although an old man did tell me it's all over for us in 45 years. But even if that is the case, that means we're looking at approximately 44 more winters like this until life as we know it ceases to exist. So, let's practice some positivity, let's drink something infused with an exotic fruit, and for all that is good and true in this world let's lie to a stranger.

*transitional coats: light jackets that you buy with the intention to wear for the three and half days every fall and spring where the weather is really lovely but there's a slight, chilly breeze.