Goals for 2024

I’m not a huge fan of resolutions, because they feel kind of unmeasurable, and I usually forget about them. This year, I’m going to try something (slightly) different, and set specific goals, as Teach for America has so kindly taught me how to do.

So here, for public consumption and accountability are my goals for 2024:

1. Lose 10 pounds before the summer. (How? Working out an average of 3 times a week and re-joining Weight Watchers, which helped me lose 10 pounds in three months in 2021.)

2. Bike 50 miles in the Tour de Cure for Diabetes in Long Beach in May.

3. Read 8-10 books, with the help of my new super awesome Nook!

4. Blog….more. (This shouldn’t be hard, as right now, I’ve averaging six posts a year.)

The Girls Situation

For how much television is currently on my DVR, its amazing I don’t talk about my TV preferences more. While I have many shows I love and watch with an almost frightening zeal – Community, Parks and Recreation, New Girl, Mad Men – the show I want to talk about today is one many MANY people have talked about. And talked about. And talked about. But I still feel like talking about it.

And not because it is actually ridiculously funny, which it is, or because it is “edgy and gritty” which I guess it kind of is, but because I’ve never seen characters do so many things that I’ve done and feel so many ways that I have felt at the exact point in my life when I’m doing and feeling all of those things.

And I guess I should say what the show is. It’s Girls on HBO. Of course. Because I am 25 and live in a city and am a girl.

In case you don’t read whole of the internet, Girls is a show by (probably priveledged and super lucky) Lena Dunham, a 25-year old TV and movie wunderkind who is loved and loathed by all of my aspiring TV writer friends. She made a small movie a couple years ago (with money she probably got from her parents, as many are quick to point out) that got her a meeting and eventually a deal at HBO making a show she felt was missing from the airwaves, a show about, as she once summarized, “smart girls making bad choices” aka my life and the life of pretty much all the girls I know.

And guys (and by guys I clearly mean girls), if you aren’t watching, you should be. It is like watching a slightly dirty, TV version of a Stratejoy season. In the last episode, Lena’s character, Hannah, had a terribly shitty day and then did exactly what I do at the end of a terrible day: posted vaguely on twitter and then danced around her room with her best friend to cheesy pop music. Some may call this cliche and then groan, but these people have clearly never been in my apartment at 7PM when this actual thing happens, literally, four times a week.

After years of watching TV and movies and lamenting over and over again with my sister and friends about the lack of girls, real girls who were like us on television, after years of watching and groaning every time I see another girl portrayed as the bitch, or the nag, or the up-tight workaholic, or the obsessive girlfriend, or the boy crazy teen, and every other type of girl written by a man, after all of that over and over and over again, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to watch a TV show and just yell YES!

I know these people! I’ve had these feelings! I’ve done the terrible day dance to cheesy pop music! I’ve made that stupid decision and wondered about my future and felt terrible about myself and rambled uncontrollably to my gynecologist. Thank god someone else has too, and thank god she has been given a chance to write about some of that, to share about the experience of young women separate from the experience of any man.

I’ll never forget the first time my high school playwriting teacher told me that only 3 out of every 10 parts on Broadway were for women, and because of that, she would never let us write a play with more male characters than female, especially the girls. She told us we needed to tell our stories, because our voices were underrepresented on stage and on screen, and I am so happy to finally see that start to (ever so very slowly) shift.

Even if it is slight nepotism, and even if Lena Dunham, as many people have pointed out to me, “only got this show because her mom is an artist and she had the money to make a movie” (I know how privilege works, people. I’m in Teach for America.

It’s literally all we talk about), she is still a young, extremely talented (and funny) female voice, and those are still sorely lacking on television and in comedy, so I will root for her and cheer for her no matter how she got there with the hope that she will remind people that girls have unique, funny, awkward, sexy, and weird experiences just like men do, and they also make great television.

I’m not saying the show is perfect. There are some issues with white-washing, which if you are interested in, I would urge you to read the awesome NY Times debate on the issue, (My thoughts boil down to this: this is a whole entertainment industry mega problem that definitely needs to be tackled but one that should not be pinned on the shoulders of one 25 year old writer/director) and obviously, this is not every young woman’s life and not everything on the show is my life, just like no one’s small town is entirely like Pawnee, no one’s office is just like Dunder Mifflen, and no one’s doctors are like Meredith and Derek, but it is nice to see those flashes of recognition and to feel like someone is writing for and about you, in some small way.

The Moving Addiction Situation

Hello. My name is Amanda, and I’m addicted to moving.

This may sound odd and not like something one could actually become addicted to, because, as anyone who has ever moved or helped someone move or listened to someone’s endless story about moving, you know that there is always some moment where you are standing in the middle of your new kitchen, surrounded by boxes, paralyzed with wondering whether the plates or cookware would be better in that cabinet by the sink when you think THIS IS THE SOUL SUCKING WORST! WHY WOULD I EVER DO THIS AGAIN?

But to me, this moment has yet to break my addition. This addiction, as most addictions do, has its roots in my childhood. I had my first move at a mere six weeks, as that is how long it took the US Government to make a passport with my chubby baby face on it so my family could move from California to Japan. This was followed two years later by a move to Maryland, followed quickly by a move to Pittsburgh.

That move lasted a solid eight years, before we moved again to Alabama, which lasted a less solid five years, before we moved one more time in the middle of my high school years to Ohio. This was, of course, followed by the obvious move to college and then to LA (to intern) and a year later, to live. So…yeah, I’ve moved a lot.

And that doesn’t count house moves in state, which are even more plentiful, or the fact that my parents moved while I was in college, meaning when I go to their house, I’m going somewhere I only lived for four months immediately following college, which, I guess, could count as an additional move. (Note: This is also why I become uncomfortable when asked what my hometown is. Please, never ask me that. You will have to listen to this whole explanation again, and no one wants that.)

A lot of people feel bad for me when they hear this. They lament the fact that I don’t have a real place to go “home” to, whatever that really means, and the fact that I have few life-long friends. My sister and I, however, have found many positives to this. It made moving to college seem routine. It has made me an expert at making friends or just at surviving in situations and parties where I don’t know anyone.

It has given me a richness of experiences that people who grew up in one location may not have gotten, and it has given me, not life-long friends, but ridiculous amounts of friends – friends who have each added something completely different and unique to my life and who shaped who I am in 1,000 different tiny ways and have made me, in my opinion anyway, a pretty interesting person who is lucky enough to have friends living almost anywhere I could go.

There is, of course, a downside to this, and not just that whole unpacking-logistics obnoxiousness, and it came up last night as I talked to one of my best friends, Christina, about her impending move to Hawaii. She, having lived in So Cal her whole life, noted that she has never gotten to do a cleanse – a cleanse of routine, a cleanse of friendships and acquaintances and obligations – a shake-up in your life that allows you to work to hold on to those you actually care to hold on to and allows you to easily let the rest slip away without all the social niceties getting in the way.

I have done this cleanse many MANY times. I’ve held on tightly to those I wanted and needed to in every move and got out of many toxic and time-wasting relationships, but in a way – and here is the downside- I fear I’ve used this as a crutch. A crutch to run away from complicated problems and relationships that I had no idea how to turn around or get out of – instead of having to stick it out and make tough changes in my life and routine, I simply got to leave and start with a blank slate, taking the best with me and leaving the mess behind.

And I worry I’m doing it again. This year has been rough. I’ve settled into a couple toxic routines and relationships I know I should get out of now…but I find myself not trying to anymore, letting them go on and wallowing in annoyance and anxiety, because, who cares? I’m leaving any way!

And this really worries me, because what if one day, I’m somewhere that I don’t want to leave? And I’m stuck trying to figure out how to change situations and relationships and routines that I desperately want to change or rid myself off, but I fail, because I have no idea how to stay yet move forward.

And because of that, I fear that I’ll just keep moving. Keep saying I’m going on adventures and just quiet that nagging part of my brain that says maybe, just maybe, I’m simply running away.

The Update on Many a Situation (and Me Reading Things!)

So things have been…happening.

The biggest thing would have to be, I am officially going to NYU in the fall! If you are in NY, please feel free to (read: please please please please PLEASE) be my friend! I am awesome and enjoy, wine, dancing, television, and restaurants of all kinds. If you have ever lived in NY, please tell me where to eat and/or live. If you live in LA, please hang out with me before August so I don’t cry because I never got to see you before being a plane ride away. I am (at this time) planning on coming back to LA after the program (its about a year), so at the very least, stay in LA for about a year, and then we can hang out again!

The next thing is, I can run again! After 2+ months of being injured and subsequently annoyed, I’ve been running three times (only about 2 miles, but hey, you have to start – again – somewhere), and all runs have been (pretty much) pain free! Let’s hope this keeps up for the Color Run and for the 10K I just signed up for in October. In D.C. Because I’ll be living on the East Coast. (Sorry, just need to remind myself sometimes.)

Last thing is my mom has been visiting this week, as it is my Spring Break, hence my lack of internet presence. We did a whole lot of shopping and eating and little else. Its nice to finally show off all my LA knowledge to someone before leaving for the immediate future. Plus, she always makes me work out more than normal, as no one can not work out when faced with the fact that your mom can do 10 pull ups and you can’t do more than 20 assisted pull ups. She also came to Bootie LA with my friends and I, permanently cementing her as coolest mom ever in my friends eyes.

And one more (actual) last thing, inspired by Nicole, Drea, Amber and Sara, I finally recorded myself reading one of my early-ish blog posts from over 4 (!!) years ago, when I was interning in LA my junior year and ventured into the scary world of LA salons for the first time. Thank the lord I finally have someone I can ACTUALLY talk to at the salon so things like this tale of salon awkwardness don’t happen anymore.

An Update on that whole Grad School Situation

I found out I got into NYU over almost a month ago. I found out I got into Emerson about two weeks later, and ever since, I’ve been successfully putting off actually making any sort of decision.

I gave my school a heads up about getting into grad school, and being the amazing boss and friend she is, my assistant principal told me to take all the time I needed to decide.

But I didn’t decide. Obviously I needed to visit first.

So, I visited New York, went on a tour, and got all my questions answered. I realized I like the neighborhood, and I got all the right answers when I talked to a student in the program. I told myself I liked what I saw, but I still couldn’t decide. Not until I got my financial aid information. Obviously.

Earlier this week I got my financial aid information. I got a scholarship I applied for and work study, but still, seeing how much I would need to take out in loans was (and still continues to be) a bit daunting.

And now I have nothing else left to wait for, which is mildly terrifying.

It’s terrifying because I kept thinking that by waiting for these things – visiting, getting questions answered, finding out about aid – and an answer would magically appear, a choice would be made for me, but it hasn’t happened. Nothing has become more clear.

I know it is because no matter what information I’m given, deciding to leave a job that pays well, that lets me work with people I genuinely like, that makes me feel like I’m doing something important is really difficult, especially when I’m looking at the prospect of student loans and tiny New York apartments.

On the flip side, however, I’m not really happy with my life right now. It isn’t terrible, but it is barely what I want right now and certainly not what I want forever or even the next few years, so shouldn’t I change it? Why should I wait? If I didn’t go now, I’d probably want to go next year or the year after. I never planned to stay at my school for more than four years. Plus, if I don’t do this, what else would I do? There isn’t anything else I want to do more. If what I really want to do is pursue educational theater, why shouldn’t I just suck it up, take the loans and go do something I’ve been saying I want to do for a while now?

When I look at it that way, it seems crazy not to go, but I’m still not totally used to the idea that I can just change my life drastically because I feel like it. It feels weird. It feels like too much power, almost. I’ve also never taken a risk like this. There is no guarantee that I’ll find the kind of job I want or really ANY job after graduating. It’s terrifying to think about.

I’ve also started seriously thinking about how horrible it is going to be to tell my students, who I’ve followed for the past three years, that I won’t be there to see them off their senior year.

But on the other hand…ugh. I think I’m stopping for the night. This could go on for a while.

Man…decisions are hard.

The Developing Situation

This week, a lot of things have come into focus. Some decisions have been made for me, and some things I’ve decided for myself.

A week ago, I was anxiously checking my email every 20 minutes waiting to hear back from Teach For America about a job that could keep me in LA.

This morning, I called NYU to schedule a meeting with a student in the Theater Education department to ask questions about their program when I fly back East this weekend.

Oh, did I not mention that I got into a graduate program at NYU? Because I did…Let me back up.

As I was obsessively checking my email last Wednesday, as I was still waiting to hear about this job the day AFTER TFA told me I would hear from them, and only 10 minutes after talking to my mother about how CRAZY I was going waiting to hear from TFA, I randomly and unexpectedly got an email from NYU.

“Congratulations! On behalf of the Admissions Committee, I am delighted to offer you a place in NYU Steinhardt’s Fall 2012 entering class”

I, of course, immediately called my mom back, laughing, to tell her I had gotten news but not the news I had been waiting to hear.

Two hours later, I got a call from Teach for America. They were very sorry. They think I had a lot to offer and believe in my talent, but they don’t have a place for those talents right now. It was the news I thought I had been dreading, but after having another plan, another option, an option that after a week of reflecting I realize now is probably the better choice for me, I was fine. I didn’t cry…or even feel like crying. It felt like the right call for everyone.

In that moment, I thanked the universe for letting TFA make me wait that extra day, for letting me get that NYU email first to save me from even one minute of freaking out, thinking I would have no option for next year. The universe is weird that way sometimes.

I also want to thank the universe for letting this be the week I finally started The Joy Equation. As I said last week, I have never been at this sort of crossroads before. While I am so happy to another option for next year (potentially two: still waiting to hear back from Emerson), I still need to make a difficult decision. Leaving my school next year, especially as every student I have taught at that school, is entering his or her senior year – I taught 9th, 10th, and now 11th grade – will be really emotionally difficult, and moving is always a logistical nightmare. On top of that, I have a life in LA.

I have amazing friends in LA. I have become accustomed to the weather and proximity to the beach in LA. Leaving all of that behind is not something I can do lightly. With all of these thoughts constantly swirling around in my head, giving myself this chance to journal every day and spend over an hour every week – as I did today – really reflecting on who I am, what I want, and how I think I can get there, has really been amazing and restoring, and I think will continue to be so over the next month as I grapple with these choices.

Later this week, I’m heading to the east coast for my grandma’s 75th birthday and to take a quick trip into New York to check out NYU’s campus. I’m hoping as I make this trip and continue reflecting, things will keep coming into focus!

The Star Tours Induced Claustrophobia Situation

Things have been…difficult lately to say the least. Work has been particularly draining this semester due to having more kids coupled with less help and a ridiculous schedule, and combining that with weird personal situations and general laziness has led me to quickly fall back into my “blog…what blog?” mentality, so imagine my excitement when one of my best friends, Josh, the king of all things Disneyland, invited me to get away this past Sunday to Disneyland with his two roommates and their girlfriends. It took me about 2.7 seconds to text back (in the middle of teaching, mind you) with a “YES” followed by a frightening number of exclamation points.

The day was going to be everything I needed – fun, relaxing, and line-free thanks to one of the girlfriend’s Disney disability pass which got us past almost every line in the park. (She assured me, when I mentioned feeling mildly awkward in a line with people in actual, you know, wheelchairs and such, that she needed a doctor’s note to get said pass and that she really did have a legit medial reason for needing it, and with that, I was satisfied.) We frolicked around both Disneyland and California Adventure, hitting up all my favorite rides – Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, California Screamin’, Toy Story – in minimal time.

It was, to use an overused word, epic. PLUS, I got treated to even more Disneyland trivia thanks to Josh and his years of reading every book about Disneyland, possibly ever. At the beginning of the day, we figured we should Fast Pass the new Star Tours ride, since the line was long, and we weren’t sure how much the pass would help. Thus, we spent all day getting more and more excited for our trip on the new Star Tours (now in 3D!), and finally, around 7, full of corn-dogs and fries (the only acceptable Disneyland dinner, obviously), we headed over to board.

After a quick wait in line (yay, Fast Pass!) we loaded in at Gate B, right in the middle of the car, as Josh always asks to get the best seats on a ride, which I highly recommend; they usually only make you wait like 2 or 3 more minutes and it makes the rides MUCH better. Josh let out one final plea to not get the Pod-Racing version – as every ride on the new Star Tours is differnt and thus there are some much cooler rides possibilities than others – as the Disney employee checked our seat belts and told us to enjoy the ride, adding, as they always do on this ride which is based on things on your Star Tour going horribly wrong, “I’m sure nothing will go wrong!”

We then waited for about 3 minutes during which nothing happened. I don’t know how many of you have been on Star Tours, but basically, it is one of those rides where you sit in a box with 20 other people with a screen in front. As the box moves around, the screen makes you feel like you are soaring around space, enjoying a Star Wars themed adventure. Unfortuantely, after three minutes in said box with nothing happening, I started to get a bit antsy.

I’m not super claustrophobic unless I start feeling trapped and in that moment, I definitely started feeling trapped…and started feeling that corn dog. Finally, the ride began – a non pod-racing version, happily – and it was pretty sweet. I was totally getting into the ride as we soared over some crazy planet – clearly, I terribly have never seen Star Wars- when suddenly the ride stopped.

We all groaned as the lights came back on, and we sat uncomfortably for another 2 minutes before ride attendants came back in to apologize. At this point, I kind of wanted to just get off and forget the 3D magic, but they assured us that they would just start the ride over. And, I mean..”I’m sure nothing will go wrong!” Again.

Oh…how naive we were. The ride began again. Sort of. It began in that the little box with 20 people started moving, yet the screen, the thing that makes you feel like you are moving and having and adventure and such, never came on, so we remained 20 people being jostled around in a large box…for about 5 minutes. It was, quite frankly, the longest ride I have ever been on. I ended up in the fetal position in my seat, closing my eyes, hoping that it would help me feel like the screen was actually on.

Kids behind us were yelling about the malfunction, but apprently the only place Disneyland doesn’t have cameras is on this ride. I felt nauseous and trapped and really really just wanted to get off of this stupid ride. Josh was partiuclarly upset that we were missing the Yoda laden version of the ride, apparently a cool option. All I could think of was not throwing up. It you have never shaken in a box after eating a corn dog covered in a solid inch of fried corn-breading before, then you don;t know what true ride-induced nausea is. I. was. Dying. After about three minutes, we stopped, and I thought I was home free, until Josh assured me that no, this was just the lull before something else crazy happened.

Finally, the second the ride stopped, I literally ran off, as everyone else yelled to stay on the ride, hoping, obviously, that we could go on again. I was having none of it. A Disney employee asked, not knowing what had happened, if I needed medical assistance. I assured her I just needed to sit down as my friends followed me and explained about the problem. Another employee then came and told us that if we went back to our seats, they would be moving us to another gate to do the ride again.

I hesistated, but eventually clutched my stomach and walked back into the box of shaking neasuea. By this point, everyone on the ride had bonded through our two rides, and we all collectively clutched our seats as our third attempt started. And of course…we got pod racing. Josh cursed. I was simply happy to have gotten through the ride in one piece with my corn-dog intact.

So, not entirely the relaxing day I was hoping for, but I happily never vomited (small wins!) and the rest of the day was magical. We even ended our day on the train with a delightful conductor who pointed out a secret armadillo in the dinosaur land you ride through between Tomorrowland and the front gate. (What’s that? You didn’t know there was a secret dinosaur exhibit on the train ride? You’re welcome for that magical tid-bit.)

The next day, of course, I was snapped back into reality by rear ending someone, because life can’t all be like Disneyland…well, the non-nausea inducing part of Disneyland.

The Single Situation

Being single means getting to do whatever (pardon my language) the fuck I want to. All. The. Time. I can spend a full Sunday on the couch watching nothing but Dance Moms, Mrs. Doubtfire, and 500 Days of Summer. I can spend my Thursday nights marathoning The Wire and getting drinks on a whim with my TFA friends. I can go dancing with my college girls on Saturdays and get brunch every Sunday with everyone. I also live alone now (which is AWESOMELY AWESOME by the way. You should all try it sometime), which adds even more to this “All What Amanda Wants to do All of the Time” business. (It also means every show on my DVR is mine, which is epically fantastic. Also great? Ample fridge space!)

It also means I should have significantly less drama and angst in my life. When any of my friends or I am in a relationship, there are always so many questions – where is this relationship going? Why didn’t he call me today? Why did his voice sound so weird on the phone? Who is he texting all the time? Why is he hanging out alone with that girl he’s “only friends” with ALL THE TIME? Well, not all the time, but enough that is annoying and a thing and I’m going to ask questions about it, goddamnit! I mean…yeah, there are a lot of questions. And sometimes stress and angst, thus being single should be easy! Stress and question free! All Amanda All The Time!

But for some reason, for the last few months, it hasn’t been all easy. It has kind of sucked. And I know it’s sucky, not because being single is inherently sucky, but because I, on some level, am making it sucky for myself. It is sucky because I sulk about it to myself when I get asked these questions by my friends, when I see people holding hands or sitting on the same side of the booth at brunch (which, I mean, NO ONE SHOULD DO!! Just eat your eggs without getting handsy.

It is not that hard), when I see stupid RomCom commercials and hear single girls behind me in CVS bitch about how Valentine’s Day isn’t fun for anyone because its about corporate greed and making single people sad! (Oh, CVS girls, you are just sooo original.)

It’s sucky because I (horribly) have internalized that being single is somehow a reflection on my self worth, like it means that I am somehow less than a woman who is in a relationship and that no one wants me , not that I have yet to find anyone worthy of my awesomeness, which to be frank, is probably closer to the truth. (You are loving my humbleness right now….) I have grown up in a culture where, for girls, love is the goal, and since I have yet to attain it, I am somehow missing some big, important facet of my life and should be spending all my free time searching for it and sulking for not having it yet.

It is even more sucky because I regularly deny to myself that all of the proceeding facts are true. I tell myself that I have actually truly internalized all the feminist literature I’ve read (and fully believe) and am totally happy with my awesomely independent life-style, but honestly, I still feel kind of sucky. It’s a terrible vicious cycle. I make myself feel sucky for being single and then feel sucky for feeling that way instead of feeling sassy and awesome and on and on and on.

The Cruise Situation

For this winter break, my family decided that we should go on a family cruise! I love my family enough that the idea of spending a week essentially trapped on a boat with them sounded lovely, so it was on! We had a wonderul and wonderfully hilarious at times time on said boat trip, and I learned a number of lessons along the way that I thought I would pass onto you potential future cruisers:

1) The Buffet is the soul-sucking worst: Why ANYONE would elbow their way through a crowded room full of vaguely stale, luke-warm food only to spend twenty minutes frantically pushing through swarms of extended families calling out each other’s names only to find a table on the deck in 40 degree weather a 10 minute walk from the nearest water station when there are BEAUTIFUL dining rooms with real chairs and servers and equally “free” food (my dad liked to remind me that while I wasn’t paying a bill then, the food wasn’t actually free) is BEYOND me. What I’m saying is, avoid the Buffet.

2) People like terrible entertainment: My sister and I regularly (and by regularly, I mean once) got to bars early to get seats for the entertainment we were excited about – mainly a British cover band doing Beatles songs for an hour and The Second City touring group’s improv shows- but in order to keep those tables we had to sit through things like “Men versus Women Challenge!” which my sister adorably thought would be a “battle of wits” (to which I responded sadly, “WHY would that be it?”) and which was actually a contest to determine important questions like, which gender can fit more people on a single bed sheet or which sex can locate their shoes faster when they’ve been left in a giant pile on a bed sheet. (Props were clearly limited). What was sad was not that these games were offered, but HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOWED UP! SO. MANY. PEOPLE! Like standing room only. And they LOVED it. The cheering was deafening. And then they all left when actual good acts came on. It baffled me, but at least answered my question of who all these people are that are watching 2 and a Half Men. This also led my sister and I to decide to start a TED cruise, where in all entertainment is intellectually stimulating and awesome.

3) Harry Potter World is the best place on earth: This is how my mom actually convinced me to go on this trip. I had doubts, but the second I found out I could visit Hogwarts, I was in! My sister and I spent 8 hours in this magical wonderland, doing everything from drinking Butterbeer (see below: And yes, that would be a commemorative mug), to buying wands, to reading all of the ride warnings, which were written as proclamations from various departments in the Ministry of Magic. We again got on our pop cultural high horse when we decided that people should have to take a Harry Potter quiz to get in after I overheard some girl in Honeyduke’s saying she’d “only like seen one of these movies.” THEN WHY ARE YOU HERE TAKING UP PRECIOUS SPACE!?! *deep breath* Anyway, it was ridiculous and awesome. The line for the Hogwarts ride alone, which leads you through the castle and includes holograms of Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione, and Ron, would’ve made the whole trip worth it.

4) Large groups of people and children make me tense: My goal on this trip was mostly to avoid being around lots of people, which is difficult on a boat holding over 4,000 people. This led to a lot of me sitting on our balcony reading, which was beautiful and fine with me. My family also suffered from this anxiety, which also led to us getting some primo seats in Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island. I found some small note on the island map which noted an “adult” beach, which was THE BEST. Few people. No children. No noise. When we walked by where they actually wanted you to be sitting, the place with all the food, music, entertainment and people, my mom simply stated, “Why would ANYONE want to sit over here.” We’re clearly a fun bunch.

5) You meet cool people on cruises, despite previously stated annoyance with people: My family’s cruise friends included: a Ukrainian neuroscience researcher and her husband who sat with us doing the Second City Show. She was very interested in my teaching and hilariously and for no reason lied to her husband about my sister and my ages, which he seemed genuinely confused by; a Serbian lifeguard who lived on the private island (or had for three days at that point) and informed my sister and mom that the Norwegian staff often have parties with the staff on the Royal Caribbean island next to them; a South African woman who had lived in Israel and now lived in Chicago but hated it because of her kid’s school who was also very interested, but also confused by, Teach for America. She did, however, tell me I was changing the world and thus may have been my favorite.

6) Boat movement is weird, especially in windowless rooms: I have only been on one other cruise in my life, which was one around the British Isles. I remember it being very smooth, which now in retrospect makes a lot of sense as we were merely floating in the small stretch of water between English and Ireland. I now realize that most cruises involve more movement and thus more dizziness and nausea for me. Thankfully, my mom had Sea Bands, little wrist bands that look like eighties sweat bands that have little plastic balls that push on your pressure points and supposedly help with sea sickness. I still think they are more psychosomatic, but they helped. They also cut into my skin giving me weird scabs on my wrists. Not cute. In bathrooms, however, nothing helped. Feeling a toilet seat moving beneath you is just weird and upsetting.

7) Boat movement will continue long after you get off the boat: I also don’t remember this from my last cruise, but I definitely felt like I was moving, especially again in windowless rooms, for a full four days after the cruise. This makes walking around a mall not the funnest.

8 ) Towel animals are kick-ass and make any night better: See photo evidence below.

9) You can reach a point at which your body can consume no more food: It took a week, but it happened. I think it was this dessert that did it.

10) My family is the best: Being on a boat for a week could’ve made me slightly loopy – something about my liking to have control and being vaguely claustrophobic – but my family made this trip hilarious and fun and relaxing and awesome. They are simply the best.

11) (And I almost forgot!) Running on a treadmill on a boat is the ACTUAL soul-sucking worst – or at least tied with the buffet: It’s like running up and down a hundred little hills!

The Narcissistic Situation

(Note: I wrote this about a month ago but didn’t feel like actually posting it. Now, I feel like I just need to put this out there…see reasons below.)

I’m going to give a warning upfront: there is about to be a WHOLE lot of self-love up in this post, but right now, I kind of need to write this down. I need to send this message out into the universe as a way of making it actually sink into my own head, as I’ve spent some time in the past few months making decisions and putting myself into situations that did not always make me feel like an awesome person, and really, it was my fault and my decisions to be in those situations, but really, I want to say this now, for myself:

I’m pretty fucking awesome.

I regularly make people laugh out loud. I have interesting taste in television and books. I will listen to pretty much any music that anyone has ever liked, ever. I always compromise and try to make other people happy. I go out of my way to say nice things to people. I rarely get angry, and I think I take a lot of things in stride. I’m understanding. I work out regularly. I’m an amazing cook AND will offer to clean dishes. I’m a pretty excellent dancer, and I’m social at parties.

And if I’m being really honest with myself, I’m pretty good looking! I take care of myself. I spend an uncomfortable amount of money getting my hair cut, and I’m fairly stylish. I love my family and am (I’ve been told) an excellent friend. Other people’s parents love me, and I am excellent at giving running commentary to terrible television shows and movies. I work hard and have ambition.

I’m intelligent and can hold an interesting conversation. I will call you when something good happens to you and be the first one to suggest a celebration, and I will happily drink wine with you to cheer you up after a terrible day. I’m fairly clean, and I leave awesome messages on Facebook for people’s birthdays.