Things I’ve Bought that I Love

Yes, I stole the title of this post from Mindy Kaling‘s amazing (and now, sadly, defunct) blog. And it’s a little bit of a misnomer, because I haven’t bought all of these things, but since I feel like I’m constantly accosting strangers on the street – as well as my own friends – about them, and because I remembered I had an open forum in which to express my love, I present to you the things I’m currently obsessed with.

As always, none of these are Affiliate links. I’m not that fancy.

Podcasts
Like everyone else in North America, I was and continue to be obsessed with Serial. But unfortunately Sarah Koenig is telling stories that, at least for now, have some sort of resolution or ending; these provide a regular giggle:
How Did This Get Made?
Do you love bad movies? Do you love excellent comedians? Do you love excellent comedians talking about bad movies? From I Know Who Killed Me to Hercules in New York, the movies reviewed are literally garbage and there is something for everyone.
Gilmore Guys
These fellas have a major in girls and a minor in women and think Kelly Bishop is queen. Enough said.

Books
The Best of Enemies
I Tweeted that the only issue I take with this book is the fact that it isn’t a movie I can watch, repeatedly, right this very second. Funny and heartfelt and begging to be read in one sitting, I love the voices Jen Lancaster gives to two very different but very engaging and likeable women.
Oh! You Pretty Things
A book that will transport you to (or back to) Los Angeles. Shanna Mahin has such an observant and perfect and perfectly sardonic voice that I just want to hang out watching trashy TV with her.
Luckiest Girl Alive
I’m usually great at seeing a plot twist coming – honestly, it’s what makes me so very irritating to watch movies with. But Jessica Knoll managed to both intrigue me and to trick me and to do so with such a shockingly funny, sharp voice.

Misc.
Washi Tape
I’ve recently begun scrapbooking again, and since I am the kind of person who cannot see a roll of tape (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) without wrapping some of it around my fingers, I’m delighted someone finally thought to print patterns on masking tape and sell it for $2 per roll. (That sounds like sarcasm, but it isn’t, as I would gladly be suckered into paying at least double that.)
The Wildlands Prints
As I may have mentioned, I have a small goddaughter, and that small goddaughter has a pink(ish) bedroom. And because it is my prerogative, as an adult, to decide she loves zoo animals, I adore these fun print sets from The Wildlands, which looked even better in person.
Paper-Mate Flair Pens
Are you almost anal-retentively organized? Me too. And being able to color-code my daily notes and to-do lists at work is way more fun with felt-tip pens in bright colors.

Granted, I have also recently purchased an iPad, but since I’m currently in a fight with Angry Birds and bought the damn thing the day before it dropped $100 in price, we don’t need to talk about that.

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I’m a Big Girl Now

Happy Friday, chickadees! Has it been one of those intermindable weeks for you as well? Where nothing terrible happens and there are no disasters (natural or otherwise) in your life, but Friday seems farther and farther with each passing second? It has been for me, but personally I’m chalking it up to something in my lizard brain reverting to wanting summer vacation.

As I may have mentioned, I moved back in with my (exceedingly generous) folks a few months ago to save up for a long-term home. While I love the fair city in which I lived – and still work – I’m literally saving thousands of dollars a month not dealing with rent, repairs and the siren call of Uber.

(Self control: I can haz none of it.)

And while I considered moving home to be a very adult decision, apart from the fact that it was made while I stood, crying hysterically on speakerphone while attempting to stem the literal wall of water raining into my apartment’s living room due to a 30-foot ice dam, as it turns out, I have a few things to learn.

Particularly about buying furniture.

Since I plan on moving within the next year or so, I figured the bed I bought to fit into my new room at the folks’ would be temporary. Something inexpensive, that could be recycled/donated/etc. when I’m no longer using it. So I secured for myself a pretty and attractively priced wooden frame, had it shipped home and congratulated myself on my $125 find.

Yeah. As it turns out, my low-slung platform bed? Was made for children.

Specifically, children under the age of 10 or under 70 pounds.

Which I maintain to this day was not noted on the website.

(It’s been fantastic for my self-esteem that the damned thing has lasted this long, considering it’s made of balsa wood and hope.)

And because I’m incredibly cheap when it comes to everything but clothes, it has taken me five months to come around to the fact that I should probably look into a new bed. The frame of my sad little guy is sagging, as every time I put my 10-pound tote bag on it, it replies with a generous creak.

The problem is, I’ve never really bought a piece of furniture. It’s expensive and it’s terrifying and people have always been getting rid of a couch or a chair the exact moment I needed one.

But, at the age of 26, it’s a bridge I have to cross. And so thanks to Wayfair (hello, best site ever), I will once more be sleeping in an adult bed on or by August 19.

Baby steps, chickadees. Baby steps.

Love,
Your Gal

Winter Is(n’t) Coming

Losing an eBay auction, as told by Game of Thrones GIFs.

When you finally find that dress you’ve been looking for – in your size, squee! – on eBay in “New, with Tags” condition and wonder if your retail luck is suddenly too good to be true.

When you notice that the seller not only has a 99% rating and free shipping, but also that the auction is ending in an hour.

When you picture yourself wearing said dress to your goddaughter’s dedication, and whip out your credit card.

When it looks like your competing bidders are falling behind AND you’re still 30% under your strict self-imposed budget.

When you get the notification you’re being outbid with 10 minutes left in the auction.

When you jack up your bid, because you. will. win. this.

When another bidder appears at the last minute.

When you’re positive you’ve won…but you haven’t.

When this is the only appropriate reaction to losing.

When you realize it was European sizing all along.

Oops, I Did It Again

While reading, have you ever run across a word that, based on your age, reading level and experience, should be absolutely clear to you within the text?

You have. Right? And so have we all. For me, that word is “pigeon.” I know what a pigeon is – I’ve held a pigeon, I’ve fed a pigeon, I’ve eaten a pigeon (not the same pigeon – I have a strict policy against eating animals with whom I’m personally acquainted.) But for some reason, the word “pigeon” in print never fails to baffle me.

Pig-eonWhat’s a pig eon? Is that like a dog’s age? Pige-on? Pig-pig-pigeon. Pigeon. Oh. OH. PIGEON.

Even if no one can hear your inner monologue, it’s embarrassing. Like, “showing up to your ACT test with a sunburn so severe it looks like leprosy” embarrassing. But it’s even worse when your brain blips actually manage to escape your mouth. In my past four years of working as a professional, I’ve managed to say (or shout) the following in the workplace:

“I really don’t do well with people aiming balls at my face” – when asked to join a Nerf football game.

“Colin Webster? I thought you were saying ‘colon, Webster,’ which is probably why we can’t find his nametag.”

“I’m definitely worth two men” – both bastardized and said in a room full of men.

We all have our moments.

Some of us more than others.

For instance, if you’ve never informed a coworker that “Amy Schumer is a national goddamned treasure” with a director standing behind you, then I salute you.

If you’ve yet to interrupt a conversation with a stranger by screeching “SMASH THE PATRIARCHY!” (low blood sugar may have been involved), I congratulate you.

If you haven’t replied to a British person’s apologies over stepping on your bag with “Well I’m sorry for dumping all your tea in the harbor,” I worship you.

And if you’ve never slipped on wet marble tile in front of three dozen lawyers and joked that you should’ve have had so much happy in your lunch hour, you’re probably my hero.

Long story short: I made it weird.

And I’ll be making it weirder here again.

Love,
Your Gal

We Get It, Snow.

Chickadees – long time no blog. Again, I hate that phrase with an all-consuming, Hulk-smashing passion, but once again, I must admit it’s the truth.

Another truth is that I’ve been dealing with home repairs for more than a month now; that, combined with the suddenly Arctic nature of the Northeast means that I’ve been relying fairly heavily on something other than publicly provided transport to make it anywhere in the city in less than two hours.

Am I a born-and-bred, dyed-in-the-wool Yankee? Yes, the genuine article, and so I promise you I DID attempt the two-hour commute song-and-dance (for reference, I can usually make it in 35 minutes); however, over the past few weeks I’ve been relying more and more heavily on cabs, Ubers, Lyfts and independent busing services to ensure I make it home before 10pm.

But because I am a perpetual optimist and because I am possessed of a fine and hearty Puritan constitution, I decided last Friday that because my grocery delivery was scheduled for 7:30pm and because much of my work was done, I would leave the office at 5:30 and brave the train.

Big mistake.

5:30pm: Leave office.

5:40pm: Arrive at appropriate train platform. Wait.

5:50pm: Wait.

6:00pm: Wait.

6:15pm: A train! Oh, wrong line. Decide to backtrack to station where trains begin. Genius!

6:22: Arrive at new station. Wait for correct train.

6:35pm: Waiting.

6:50pm: Waiting.

7:00pm: Hooray!

7:15pm: Train is stuck in station due to unknown issue (incompetence suspected. Issue is also possibly that “man with shovel” is ineffective snow removal system.) Go above ground and grab a cab.

7:20pm: HOLY TRAFFIC BATMAN.

7:55pm: Jump out of cab at new train station, having paid $70 to go one mile. Wait for  train.

8:15pm: No train. Decide to backtrack, get on any train, ride it halfway to the end of the line and then cab it home. Genius!

8:20pm: Wooohoooo, on a moving train! Phone battery at 40%.

8:32pm: Off the train! Walk 1/4 mile to main road. Phone battery at 39%.

8:33pm: Call an Uber. Phone dies. Huh?

8:34pm: BITCHPANIC

8:35pm: BITCHPANIC

8:40pm: CONTINUING TO BITCHPANIC

8:41pm: Uber driver arrives and has a phone charger. Threaten to kiss her. She laughs, but it’s not a joke.

8:52pm: Arrive home.

9:01pm: Grocery driver arrives, apologizing for snow-related delays. Threaten to kiss him too.

9:10pm: Groceries unpacked. Hooray!

9:11pm: Pass out on sofa, bowl of grapes in hand.

11:33pm: Wake up, confused, angry and having spent $100 to go four miles.

11:34pm: BITCHPANIC

The end.

I Prefer the Term “Vintage,” Thank You

Chickadees, 2014 is officially over, and while there is absolutely nothing lazier than a “Year in Review” post, well, here we are! While I’m seeing loads of less-than-lovely sentiments about 2014 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I have to say that it was a year that challenged me not only to be a better person, but to be a better adult. 

(Which, let’s face it, I’m still only moderately proficient at.)

(Despite seven years of practice.)

(Shut up, I’m trying.)

As a child I assumed that when I reached adulthood, I would have grown-up thoughts.” – David Sedaris
I was nearly a Christmas baby; or, at the very least, a pre-Christmas baby, but thanks to some bad math, I arrived in the early days of 1989; therefore, 2014 was my 25th year, and if I were a car, I would officially be an antique. As it stood, 2014 was the year I began to set myself on the path to happy, healthy adulthood. And part of that was setting myself a bedtime. In college, I was famous for the two-hour cat nap – your Gal could stay up until 4AM, sleep (literally anywhere) until 6AM and then roll out of bed/chair/tuba cubby fresh and ready for class. This miraculous ability to function left me somewhere around the age of 23, but the 1AM-4AM bedtimes didn’t, and so over the years I steadily developed the morning personality of a crotchety old woman. It wasn’t until late in the year that I discovered the combination of six hours of sleep and a sensible breakfast/lunch make me a FAR more pleasant person throughout the day. In 2015? I hope to figure out how to make kale taste as good as huevos rancheros.

Your Gal, any time before 12pm in 2014.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank
You know what doesn’t feel great in the short run? Parting with your money and not receiving some sort of sparkly bauble within 3-5 business days (I’m looking at you, katespade.com). You know what feels great? Receiving adorable photos and pictures from a child you sponsor, or knowing that you have the ability to help give people in need access to much-needed livestock. While I’m trying to find places to volunteer in 2015, this past year was the one in which I started giving back as much as I can afford monetarily, and knowing that money is helping to improve someone’s life is worth far more than a bracelet or a bag.

Sharing is caring, y’all.

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo DaVinci
You know what’s great? Looking at your college diploma, being able to make decisions about your future and your career, carrying on an intelligent conversation and being proud of your accomplishments. You know what’s not? Feeling like you’ve become a complete and utter moron since graduating. This year I embarked upon a quest to re-smarten myself through the classic, which I’ve slightly modified to allow myself 50% “fun reading” (including the classics) and 50% “mind expansion reading,” which dictates that for every novel I buy, I’m also required to purchase and peruse something in the realm of science, history, politics or biography. Is it the same thing as grad school? No, but at least I’ll be able to talk about something aside from how my hair won’t hold a decent curl.

Of course, everything is a process. Sometimes I have a milkshake and french fries for dinner. Sometimes I read a trashy romance novel and spill nail polish on the coffee table. I’m still stuck on making pro/con lists rather than listening to my own intuition when it comes to major decisions (2014’s big career move, I’m looking at you). Oh, and rather than sticking to my “only buy what Stitch Fix” sends you rule, I’ve made a few (too many) trips to J. Crew.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on self-improvement, and if you really want to see how it’s done, you’ll refer to Jen Lancaster; in the meantime, I’m prepared to face 2015 a little older, a little wiser, and a little bit of a better me.

(And with my own insurance. Sigh.)

Love,
Your Gal

The [Gal] Show

My face this week.

I am a ridiculous person.

Well, let me clarify: I am a person to whom ridiculous things happen. And fairly often. Generally it’s nothing major or life-shattering or even that important, but in nearly twenty-six years of living, I’ve yet to make it a week (in my own memory) without experiencing some small yet noteworthy event.

But occasionally, my week is less “wayward skirt in the wind” and more “I’m living in The Truman Show. Aren’t I?”

This has been one of those.

It all started Monday morning. Monday morning at 3:44am, to be exact. To backtrack, I have always loved living in old buildings. I feel out of place in a modern high-rise, and the few months I lived in one made me feel itchy somehow; consequently, I live in an old building. The sort of old building that sports a fire alarm that will not only rouse you from sleep, but do so with all the volume and urgency of an air-raid siren. The sort that not only invites you to leave your bed, but tosses you to the floor and kicks you out the door without letting you stop for your shoes.

But these things happen. Does anyone enjoy meeting their neighbors at the crack of dawn in 30 degree weather? No, but the fire department arrived quickly, determined it was a false alarm, and we were back to bed within half an hour. I recounted the tale for my coworkers, and laughed it off.

Until it happened again at 4:12am on Tuesday. And let me tell you, if you think a fire department is mildly annoyed by having to turn off an alarm in the middle of the night because someone was brilliantly smoking in the hallway (our working theory at the time), guess how excited they – along with residents – are to discover the culprit is actually a dying old warhorse of a smoke detector?

You can tell me this is an isolated incident; I would agree with you if it weren’t for Wednesday’s paper cup explosion and today’s incidence of a stranger grabbing a fistful of my hair on the train and telling me how good it smelled. Or the fact that what should have been a package of ladies’ athletic socks arrived today in the mail as a pair of toddler overalls (thanks, Big Box Retailer!)

Can you really blame me for being wary of falling can lights?

Love,
Your Gal

Quote of the Century: “I love purses, and that doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist, either. I’m a damn feminist who loves purses. Where else am I supposed to keep my feminist writings? In a purse, that’s where.” – New Girl

Spare Change?

When I was twelve – or possibly thirteen – I somehow found myself working at a summer camp meant for wilderness-loving young men aged 7-17. While it was my younger brother’s first camp experience, pulling up to the dusty mess hall brought back fond memories of the summers I’d spent at Girl Scout camp in my younger days.

(The fact that I considered ages 7-11 my “younger days” as a tween should tell you exactly why my mother essentially kicked me out of the car and drove off when a camp staffer asked if I’d like to help watch the younger kids.)

Of course, I jumped at the chance. I was just building up my babysitting business, and helping watch the 4-6 year old siblings of the older day campers would be great experience. Even if my boss was a terrifying tower of a woman I’ll call Marjorie.

Looking back on it, I’m sure I was actually taller than Marjorie. But with her crunchy black curls and ever-present cigarette, her raspy voice and her direct stare, I felt about two feet tall in her presence.

But I wasn’t in her presence very often. Because Marjorie, in her infinite wisdom, proclaimed me fit to look after a dozen glorified toddlers – on my own – for eight hours a day. Occasionally her son, a stocky 16-year-old with a Sasquatchian thatch of chest hair poking out of his t-shirt, would offer to help, but he was quickly and easily distracted by his friends and fellow counselors.

Luckily, the kids were great. And I had an endless supply of activities with which to amuse them – an old television with a stock of Disney tapes for afternoon naps, “water” counselors to take them out in rowboats and an overenthusiastic young archer who casually asked for my phone number as he strung a bow for a fidgety five-year-old.

But there’s always a bad bulb in the box. Well, if not bad, then one not quite as bright as its fellows. In our group? That was Stevie.

Stevie was by all accounts more puppy than person. He was five, with huge blue eyes and shaggy dark hair, and had a surprisingly broad vocabulary for his age; however, he was also an unintentional biohazard. Prone to stuffing interesting things in either his mouth or down his pants, he frequently and generously offered to share dead frogs or shiny rocks with the other children.

Of course, most of them politely declined. Stevie was perfectly happy to enjoy his treats alone, though he was disappointed when no one asked to share the hairy sandwich he’d found at the back of the mess hall snack fridge.

And because Stevie was such a snacker, I’d assumed he’d mentioned the little camp store to his mother. Full of $0.50 treats, I usually brought my little charges by every afternoon around 3:30, so they’d go home to their parents happily full of sugar. Without fail, all dozen proudly spent their $0.50 each day.

By the fourth day, it occurred to me Stevie’s mother might not know about the store, and so I mentioned it to her.

“Oh, but I’ve been sending it with him every day.”

“Really? He never has money to spend.”

A quick check-in with Stevie determined yes, he had received two shiny quarters every morning, and yes, he had eaten them as an afternoon snack.

I was horrified.

Stevie’s mother was horrified.

Stevie was delighted.

The next day, I started collecting money directly from parents in the morning. Stevie, having made the trip to the local hospital for some industrial strength prune juice, was missing from my group that day. But he reappeared on Monday, sprightly as ever and $2 lighter.

Death of a Skirt

A day in the not-too-distant past, which should neatly outline why, in the back of my mind, I secretly believe I have one great sitcom script in me.

6:30am: Awaken for morning ablutions.

7:16am: Burn forehead with flat iron. Curse appropriately.

7:18am: Burn scalp with flat iron. Curse inappropriately.

7:22am: Run tights on pretty but spiky shoes. Find another pair. Curse again.

7:38am: Late for train! Get in car.

7:46am: Car incident of which we will not speak. Call an Uber.

7:48am: 3x surge???!!! Resign self. (Curse again.)

8:50am: Ride elevator many stories, cursing weather, bad drivers and Henry Ford himself along the way. Realize Uber was over $50. Curse again.

9:00am – 6:00pm: Great meetings. Faith in humanity/good mood restored! Decide to walk home (four miles away.)

6:45pm: Leave work. Is it slightly windy? Procure coffee. Commence Homer Simpson-esque drooling. Mmmmmmm, coffee.

6:49pm: Skirt flies over head.

6:52pm: Skirt flies over head. Gather pleats and hold against legs.

6:59pm: Skirt flies over head. Curse. Call an Uber.

7:00pm: 3x surge? NEVER AGAIN.

7:13pm: Skirt FLIES over head. Download Lyft.

7:14pm: 25% Prime Time? Worth it.

7:18pm: Lyft arrives. Slide into warm, cozy car and realize you are soaking a very nice gentleman’s car seats.

7:35pm: Jump out of car, apologize.

7:36pm: Fumble for keys. Skirt flies over head.

7:40pm: Skirt goes in trash. NEVER AGAIN.

In Which I am (Sort of) Sterling Archer

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I hate the expression “long time no blog.” And yet, I’ve forced myself into using it.

I really have no excuses other than the (fairly) standard: new job, family obligations, acting as a less-Southern, less-mustachioed Dr. Phil figure for friends, cleaning my apartment, etc.

Really, the issue is I’ve been uninspired. While I’ve long though that to be an excuse of the lazy writer, it’s true – at some point over the past month or so, I hit a wall that essentially only allowed me to watch old episodes of Chopped and bang out a few truly terrible pages of a short story.

I’m not being self-deprecating here; monkeys with a typewriter could have produced better writing than I did over the past month. I was to the point where it seemed logical to toss out the whole computer and start over, though since I live on the first floor I don’t know that it would have done much damage. And of course, the computer was never the issue, though I created a fairly persuasive three-page Word doc argument for why it might be (sadly, that was the best thing I wrote all month.)

I’d like to chalk it up to laziness or ineptitude – and you’re welcome to the do the same, as I’ve watched enough Archer over the past 33 days that it may have rubbed off on me. But beneath that, there was a very real fear that I think touches everyone who writes.

Namely, that niggling voice in all our heads that whispers “you can’t write.”

You can’t.

You.

There aren’t many insecurities I’ll cop to; I think most writers are the same way, since there’s an inherent element of narcissism in anyone who writes about their own life. But if you take a closer look, there is always a chink in the armor. Reparable, but persistent, like so many tiny porcelain cracks.

This month has been a good one for the cracks. But it’s time to start writing through them.

Love,
Your Gal