You Need a Boyfriend to Have a Baby

“You need a boyfriend to have a baby.” Actually, the entire sentence said to my face was, “Even without a husband, you need a boyfriend to have a baby.”

“Nope,” I replied before turning away from my dad’s cousin (in his 60s, gay, Filipino) to make note of the conversation in my phone. And this was actually the end of the (albeit brief) talk he had with me at a ticketing counter at the Manila airport.

Let’s back up a bit. I am the daughter of two immigrants who came to the States in the 1970s. I was born in New York and for all intents and purposes am American through and through. Yes, I’m technically Filipino-American, but it’s never more clear than when I go to the Philippines just how American I am. The way I dress, my humor, and most importantly, the culture of interpersonal communication.

But I am no stranger to Filipino culture. Growing up in western New York, there weren’t a lot of us, but I still was around people who looked like me week to week. And every five years, my parents and I would go back “home” – aka what Filipinos in the U.S. call the Philippines – to visit family. So I knew what the top question was going to be before my trip back in May. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

FTR: I do not. And if I did, I am not the type of person to just openly and freely talk about my relationship status with cousins and second cousins and my dad’s cousins. We are not close and I’m just not comfortable sharing that with strangers.

Knowing full well that the mystery of my love life would be the top talking point, I decided to keep track of how many times I was asked if I had a boyfriend. 8. 8 different times. Other tallies:

“Do you want a husband?”: 1

“When are you getting married?”: 1 (my response was immediately, “when are YOU getting married?”)

“No boyfriend? Do you have any suitors?” 1

Apparently it’s still a common practice in the Philippines for potential suitors to court girls they like. And I guess if you’re a Duggar, this isn’t that much of a stretch. But I am not a fundamentalist Christian, nor does my name start with a ‘J’. I’m also assuming “suitors” in the Philippines means someone more serious than a dude I’d swipe right on.

The cousin who asked me when I’m getting married is one that I talk to the most when I’m in the homeland, so I didn’t feel bad by firing back at her with, “When are YOU getting married?”. But a few days later, she was sitting next to my mother and I in an airport. While we waited to board, she followed it up with another inquisition about my love life, telling my mom not to listen so we could have full disclosure. Yeah right. I know better than this. I ain’t answering a damn thing. The most notable part of the interrogation was if she asked if I wanted a boyfriend who was Filipino or American. Filipino or American? “Those are the only two options?,” I thought to myself. Still thinking about her question, she turned back to my mom and asked for her opinion. “Probably Filipino-American,” my mom said.

A) Why are you assuming I’m choosing a potential mate based on race?

B) What is “American”? Anyone who is White?

C) Because we’re all Filipino means I also am attracted to only Filipinos?

D) What?!

Look, I’m not one to discriminate against any race, but I’ll tell you this much – Filipinos nor Filipino-Americans usually aren’t the top criteria on my ISO list. Slash WHY ARE WE STILL  DISCUSSING MY LOVE LIFE?

Want to know how many people asked me about my job? About 2 people. For us Americans, when you first meet someone, or catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while, the first thing you ask isn’t if they’ve got a significant other, right? It’s always, “So what do you do?” That simple difference in pleasantries drove me mad.

So this brings me back to the airport conversation I had with my dad’s cousin (why did all these convos happen in the airport?). There are so many conclusions he jumped to in the short span of our 5 minute talk. In the Philippines, family is first. Women are supposed to get married. They’re expected to have children. They cook for the husband and take care of the kids. Traditional through and through. Which is why, I’m assuming, me bearing a child would be the top concern for all of my family members. Because that’s just what you do. And of course, there are many families in the U.S. that believe the same thing – but that’s not me.

I subscribe to the Modern Day Woman lifestyle, where my top priority has always been to have a job I’m happy in. The M.R.S. Degree never really appealed to me. I am my own person. I don’t believe I was put on this Earth just to give men children. I am not a Handmaid (yet, I suppose). But if I have a kid, then great. It’s just not my number one goal in life. Was I too rude in being curt by saying, “Nope” then turning around? It’s not like I could carry out that anger. It’s just their culture. And my – Traci – culture is the opposite, but they just don’t know that because they don’t know me.

I don’t need a boyfriend. I don’t need a baby. I just need to be happy. That should be something we can universally agree on.

Success or Fail? A 30 Before 30 Update

Hi team. Last year, I wrote about making a 30 Before 30 bucket list, which was comprised of a whole bunch of goals, activities, etc. I wanted to do before I turned 30. Well, I turned 30 in January, and I’m proud to report I checked off 22 out of 30 items on my list! Not too bad, and to be honest, I’m not even upset I didn’t finish them all. By even making the list in the first place, it forced me to do things I don’t think I would have otherwise, so getting any of them done is an accomplishment in itself.

In my post from last year, I highlighted some of the tasks on the 30 Before 30 list, so I’m revisiting them and seeing how I did. Obviously, I don’t have all 30 of them listed, but just imagine they’re all here.

Learn to make 3 new dishes

2015: When I cook dinner, it’s not really anything special. The less ingredients the better. I blame this on account of my frugality and laziness, but I’m hoping to change that (the laziness, at least I can control). I figure if I master at least 3 good dishes, it can be my go to for parties and what not. Sushi is probs my favorite food, so another one of the things on my list is learn how to make sushi. And conveniently, I would also like to have a dinner party, so all this just fits right together.

Status: Accomplished! While sushi making was fun and I didn’t die from eating the raw fish, I think I’ll leave it to the professional sushi chefs to provide me with much better rolls.

Go somewhere I’ve never gone before

2015: If I won the lottery today, I would use it to pay off all my debts, do some other things with it, and then travel. Anywhere my heart desires – possibly even in first class! Living in LA, you kind of get stuck in the… LA-ness of it, and it’s good for your sanity to get out every once in a while. I usually spend my vacation time in the same places, mainly back home on the east coast. But there are so many other places to go that won’t break the bank. Although I said I would start this thing on my birthday, I’ve cheated on a few things already, this being one of them. A few of my friends and I recently went up to Napa Valley for a brief, yet completely successful and fulfilling weekend, and it was glorious. It was my first time in that area, and let me tell you – Napa is everything it’s cracked up to be, folks.

Status: Accomplished! I went to multiple new places in 2015, including the Temecula wine country and Grand Cayman Island and Castaway Cay (thanks to a cruise I went on). However, I tripled up on a trip by driving down to La Jolla, about two hours south of LA. The city is right on the edge of the Pacific and is exactly what you picture when you think picturesque California coast. Also, they’re known for seals, as seen below. They had cute stores and great food and highly recommend – 10/10.

 

Travel somewhere by myself

2015: Speaking of which, I feel all Eat Pray Love/Wild about this, in that going on a trip by yourself is necessary in life. I’m an only child and independent by nature, so the thought of this doesn’t sound scary or intimidating, as I imagine it would be to some people. This sounds delightful to me and I have yet to figure out where said trip will be.

Status: Accomplished! Like I said, I tripled up on La Jolla by going solo bolo to a pimp ass resort called Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. I got free champagne when I arrived, had a huge bed to myself, a bathroom with marble floors and a complimentary bottle of wine. Again, highly recommend – 10/10.

 

Get a massage

2015: I’m gonna be real with y’all – I don’t necessarily find it appealing when complete strangers touch me, especially if I’m half naked. Is that completely unreasonable? But I’m going to try to let that go in favor of comfort and relaxation.

Status: Accomplished. And my gut was right. The final triple threat of that La Jolla trip was getting a massage at the resort. While it was luxurious and I got free cucumber water, I don’t think I would ever do it again. I didn’t feel as relaxed as I thought it was going to be, and that’s all my fault, not the fault of my masseuse, who was lovely. I didn’t take a pic of that, so here’s the view I had while sitting near the saltwater whirlpool and reading a Dawson’s Creek novel at the spa.

Photo Jul 08, 2 11 44 PM (1)

Volunteer 20 hours

2015: I used to volunteer a lot growing up. Forgetting the fact that in high school a lot of it was required, I actually enjoyed volunteering, and did it throughout college. For a while there I even wanted to work for a non-profit. I really want to get back into it, and I’ve had some attempts in the past couple of years, but I’m actually making a goal of 20 hours to fill, which is really not even that much.

Status: Big Fail. This was one of the items I was most bummed about not accomplishing. I wanted to find one organization that I cared deeply about, then exclusively volunteer for them, but I just kept putting it off. It’s still on my list!

Go see at least 5 movies in the theater

2015: I am a TV person. I watch all the TV. And like I mentioned earlier, I am a frugal person. Unless it’s a movie I really want to see in the theater, I will wait until it comes to Netflix and I receive it as part of my subscription. However, working in entertainment news, it’s usually helpful to know what I’m writing about, and not just basic facts about them. I’m not gonna lie to you – I already have my first movie lined up. And it’s the Backstreet Boys documentary, which comes out on Friday.

Status: Accomplished! I ended up seeing MORE than 5 movies!!! Ironically the BSB movie I ended up buying on iTunes it was released in the theater, so I cried in the privacy of my own bedroom. The other films include but are not limited to: The Last Five Years, Spy, Inside Out, Magic Mike XXL and Trainwreck. All movies that were A+++

Watch 5 “classic” movies

2015: To go along with that, I’ve written about my Pop Culture Blind Spots before, and I’m going to make an effort to actually sit down and watch some of them. We’ll start with the black and white classics… Star Wars will have to wait.

Status: Accomplished! Again, I was an overachiever on this one and did way more than five, some which which I did as a Pop Culture Blind Spot for this very blog (Star Wars or Dirty Dancing, anyone?). Some other faves include Bridget Jones’ Diary, Top Gun and Back to the Future.

Donate clothes I haven’t worn in a year

2015: I have been meaning to do this for years, and now’s a better time than any to actually follow through. Part of this involves re-organizing my closet, which I’ve already done and am super excited about. But this whole – I’m saving this just in case I need it for a Halloween costume – thing, isn’t working.

Status: Accomplished! And I’ve donated twice!

Read 3 new books

2015: Again, I am a TV person. I watch all the TV. Thus leaving me with little time to sit and read. Hell, I barely have time to catch up on my Entertainment Weekly issues. As for reading actual books, I find that I read the most when I’m traveling, since there’s nothing else to do. I used to read all the time when I rode the subway in Boston, but now, I have to like pay attention to the road when I’m driving and stuff. Also, I have a tendency to just re-read books – I don’t need to read Harry Potter again (I mean I could and should, but I shan’t). But I’ve set a realistic goal for myself and hopefully I can finish three new books by 2016.

Status: Accomplished! Luckily, I know myself well enough that a total of three was risky, but I read FOUR! Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, Dawson’s Creek: A Capeside Christmas (that novel I was reading in La Jolla) and two books by fellow Emerson alum and one of my friend’s BFFs, Katie Cotugno, whose two YA books, How to Love and 99 Days, I devoured.

Go to 10 new restaurants

2015: Like my go-to books, I have go to restaurants, and it’s time to change that. I’ve been compiling a list of eateries in LA that I’ve been wanting to go to, and 10 seems like a reasonable number. I will just have to force my friends into going to all new venues.

Status: Accomplished! After I hit 15 I stopped counting, but one that is an LA staple that everyone needs to go to is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Ugh I dream about it still.

Photo Jan 09, 7 14 03 PM

Explore 5 new places in LA

2015: LA’s a big city, and while I’ve lived here for just over five years now, there’s still plenty more to see. You get stuck living in the bubble of your home neighborhood and work neighborhood, and any little pockets that your frequent. I never make it down to the West side or like Venice (as seen above) or Santa Monica or anything over there, mainly because there’s no reason for me to. Sans Dunkin Donuts, of course. But it’s time I start taking advantage of what’s around me.

Status: Accomplished! I’m not a big sports fan but it was still exciting to go to my first Dodgers game with a real Dodgers fan who could explain pretty much everything to me. Plus I got a Dodger (hot) Dog which was as good as everyone says it is.

Photo Aug 14, 7 25 47 PM (1)

Clean out email

2015: I’m at 19% of 15 GB used on my Gmail, which I’ve had since 2006. That number may seem low, but you should see my inbox (don’t). It’s time I start cleaning shit out.

Status: Accomplished! Plus I have all the tabs now and the Gmail app on my phone, which I didn’t have before. God bless.

Pay for someone’s coffee 5 times

2015: Pay it forward. Be kind to one another. All that jazz.

Status: Fail to humans everywhere and to Ellen DeGeneres. Let’s be real, if anyone’s buying coffee, it’s for myself.

Take a photo or video each day

2015: This is not a new thing. I’m going to see if I can keep it up. Instead of posting it every day, I’ll hopefully keep it up and compile everything into a handy video/slideshow on my 30th.

Status: Accomplished! And I just finished putting it all together in one 13 minute long video! You’ve been warned.

 

(originally posted on Cookies + Sangria)

Kid Sleepovers vs. Big Kid Sleepovers

Before you continue reading, get your mind out of the gutter. The sleepovers I’m talking about have nothing to do with shacking up with a significant other. It’s about the pure (semi-pure) and un-adulterated (adult) sleepovers with your gal or guy pals to celebrate friendship. I’ve gone to a number of these over the past few years, and I am such an advocate of them. We’re all so busy with our own lives, and while we get to hang out with our friends on a semi-regular basis, it’s not the same when you spend 12+ hours together in a confined area with an endless amount of snacks and booze.

Obviously there are big differences between having these sleepovers as a child and as an adult, and I’m here to help you realize that grown-up sleepovers are just what you need in your life right now to *reconnect* with your nearest and dearest. Just be aware that things have changed since you were 13 years old.

Juice Boxes vs. Wine

We all know the secret to any get together is booze. Unless you’re Mormon on an alcoholic, it’s mandatory at every event you go to, and I feel even more crucial if you’re attending a sleepover. As kids, you’d get soda or apple juice or grape juice – and I guess it’s kind of the same if you count wine as grape juice.

Boys vs. Men

Mrs. DiCaprio. Mrs. Leo DiCaprio. Mrs. Leonardo DiCaprio. *signs name over and over again* When we’re tweens, we discuss matters of the heart like, ‘Wanye asked me for a pen today in class and he totally touched my hand for too long when he grabbed it from me what does this mean??’. All the talk is the ‘what ifs’ and questioning what it would be like to kiss so and so and who’s likes who at school. And then when you grow up, it’s all real. It’s tangible. Your friends are engaged, in long-term relationships, married, have babies, the topic changes from ‘what would it be like to kiss Wanye’ to ‘I am going to strangle Wanye’s mother over these wedding plans.’ It ranges from why you think your friend’s boyfriend isn’t good enough to what kind of birth control you’re on, and nap time patterns for the little ones. The things you always thought were so far away as a kid are currently staring at you straight in the face.

Staying Up All Night vs. I’m Gonna Pass Out

In my mid-20s, I had a sleepover where we stayed up until like 4:30 in the morning. This isn’t totally out of character for me because I am insane and go to bed around 2:30-3am. However, it’s different when you’re interacting with your friends until that time of day/night. It felt like we were kids again, staying up as long as we could to prove that… we could. Albeit, as kids, staying up “late” basically meant anything after like, 11pm. But at the most recent sleepover I attended, I could’ve sworn it was lights out by like 1:30-2am. And on top of that, we were super organized about it because we arranged who was bringing sleeping bags and where everyone was sleeping. And no one fought to stay up late, because we’re all old now and need our beauty rest for real.

Kid Movies vs. Serious Movies

Let’s be honest. We watched Save the Last Dance a few weeks ago. That is the same exact movie I watched when I attended sleepovers as a kid. This is exactly the same.

Parental Superversion vs. Significant Other Supervision

Part of the allure of sleepovers as a kid is that you’ll be with your best friends with only one or two parents around to check in on your shenanigans. It’s also helpful that the responsibility of buying food and cleaning up isn’t yours and that you don’t have to worry about making breakfast in the morning. As an adult, you take on all that responsibility on yourself – and you also might have significant others wondering about your whereabouts and supervising your life in a different way.

Pranks vs. No Pranks

I (luckily) never had friends who were dumb enough to do pranks like the freezing of the bra and writing on sleeping faces and putting hands in water so they’ll pee. Like, what is wrong with kids? Anyways, I guess it wasn’t that much different for me as an adult since I suppose I keep similar company, because those pranks still don’t happen.

Games vs. Social Media Stalking

Games at girls’ sleepovers always involve boys, like MASH and Truth or Dare or scary paranormal stuff like Light as a Feather or Bloody Mary. What happened to us as children? Anyways, as fun as those may be, we as adults like to play a different game that involves stalking people on social media and talking about them because we’re only human.

(originally posted on cookies + sangria)

Evolution of Drinking, As Told By A Lame Adult

It is St. Patrick’s Day. Despite the fact I grew up around a lot of Irish folks at school (see: Molly, our school’s mascot “Lil’ Irish”), and have seen traditional Irish dancing more times than you would think, I’m still not a big celebrator of the biggest drinking day of the year. And that’s probably why. I probably drink alcohol a little less than what is considered average for a human. Water is usually my drink of choice when I go out (unless I’m feelin like a big spender) and I’ve never really come home and wound down with an alcoholic bev (unless I’m under some maj stress).

So on this St. Patrick’s Day, I urge you lovely readers to celebrate responsibly, and also judge my drinking habits through the years. My evolution of drinking is what some consider lame and embarrassing, but whatever. I’ll sip my iced coffee and y’all drink your Guinness and we’ll be straight. Slainte!

High School

Drink of Choice: Smirnoff Ice

I’m basing this next fact off of high school romcoms like Can’t Hardly Wait and American Pie, but I was a late bloomer when it came to drinking. I didn’t enjoy the sweet taste of alcohol and being drunk until the summer before senior year. I clearly remember being at our friend’s cottage and getting “shitfaced” on Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Now, I’d have to throw back at least 10 of those to even feel buzzed, but apparently back then, it out took a few to rap and dance around a kitchen wearing a paper crown.

Freshman Year of College

Bud Light

I feel like it’s important I note that in high school, I swore off beer for some reason. I don’t remember what I had against it, but I remember that my friends knew I didn’t drink beer. By the time I got to college, that’s all they had at parties (the total of like 5 I attended freshman year). So I really had no choice. I stuck with the easy one, though. Also, there was a  time I went to some party and a frat dude started pouring me and my friend Jack and Cokes, but I don’t drink soda (I’m a winner), and he had already poured like a 1/4 cup (?) of Jack in the cup so he just handed me the Jack sans Coke. Poor decisions.

Sophomore Year of College

Screwdrivers

My good friend had taken bartending classes around this time, and instead of making her make me a fancy drink, I made her make me screwdrivers because orange juice was easily available at the school’s convenience store in our building. She also made a lot of Sex of the Beaches for me. I lived on the edge.

Junior Year of College

Midori Sour

I tried to up my game a bit and I thought I was being classy by ordering Midori Sours, which my fried described as Ecto Coolers. Because they’re bright neon green and taste like juice. So classy, I know. It’s weird I didn’t have more friends.

Somewhere In Between All This

Shots Shots Shots Shots Shots

I later got sick (not literally) of drinking so many drinks just to get drunk, it was like an annoying task for me. So my new theory was to just take shots and nix the cocktails and beers all together. What an idiot.

Senior Year of College

Long Island Iced Tea

Apparently it took 22 years for me to figure out the power and kick Long Islands have, and it was exactly what I wanted. A lot of alcohol in a compact drink, enough to make me only kind of remember what had happened last night. It was my go to at my favorite Boston bar (RIP Sweetwater) and my best/worst friend during Senior Week. Woof.

Post-Grad, Year One

Stella Artois/Blue Moon

I decided to get rid of the Long Islands (after Senior Week) and chose classier (again, is it tho?) beers like Stella Artois and Blue Moon. I needed them to be ice cold and on draft, and only a few were needed to do the trick.

Post-Grad, Year Two

Wine

I was invited to the Wine Expo by my two Wino friends who volunteered at the event and had free tickets. We basically went around and sampled dozens of wines from around the world and snacked on free samps, and it was magical.

Post-Grad, Year Who Da Fuq Knows

Margaritas

I don’t know if it’s because I moved to California, but just like avocados, I discovered a new love for margaritas that I never really had before. Regular on the rocks is my jam, but I won’t say no to a good strawberry or mango or whatever flavor my fave Mexican restaurant is peddling that day.

Am I Still Considered a Youth

More Wine

As you might be able to tell, we’ve ventured into current times. Over the past year or so, I’ve opted to get a nice glass of wine at a bar or restaurant in lieu of a fancy drink, but, again, that also could be triggered by the fact cocktails can be expensive, yo.

I’m Going Home Before Midnight

Water

God, I just love water so much. A nice ice cold glass with some fresh lemon? I could get buzzed just thinking about it.

(originally posted on cookies + sangria)

30 Before 30

Last year, I was talking to my friend about life goals and what not, and she mentioned that she was planning to do something called 30 Before 30, which is basically a bucket list of goals to accomplish before turning 30 in the next year. I’ve always been one for bucket lists. Before I left Boston, I made a list of all the places I wanted to go that I hadn’t been able to go to in the years that I lived there. I’ve even exchanged New Year’s resolutions in favor of a life bucket list. So I decided to make a 30 Before 30 bucket list of my own.

Since I turn 29 on the 27th (tomorrow), I’ve decided to use that date as a starting point for my 30 Before 30, having exactly one year to accomplish as much as I can until I turn the “Big 3-0”. For the 30 things on my list, I tried not to just pick things that I’ve wanted or been meaning to do, but things that I feel like will help me as I enter the next age bracket of my life. While 30 isn’t as “old” as it used to be, I still feel like there’s a certain level of adulthood I should reach before entering my third decade of life. So here are just a few of the items on my list – I didn’t want to put all of them, even though I know this is a completely safe space, but also for brevity. We have jobs and lives to get back to. I’ll be documenting my 30 Before 30 now and then on the blog, so watch this space if you’re interested in seeing how my attempt as a real adult goes!

Do you guys have bucket lists like this?

Learn to make 3 new dishes

When I cook dinner, it’s not really anything special. The less ingredients the better. I blame this on account of my frugality and laziness, but I’m hoping to change that (the laziness, at least I can control). I figure if I master at least 3 good dishes, it can be my go to for parties and what not. Sushi is probs my favorite food, so another one of the things on my list is learn how to make sushi. And conveniently, I would also like to have a dinner party, so all this just fits right together.

Go somewhere I’ve never gone before

Photo Jan 17, 4 12 58 PM

If I won the lottery today, I would use it to pay off all my debts, do some other things with it, and then travel. Anywhere my heart desires – possibly even in first class! Living in LA, you kind of get stuck in the… LA-ness of it, and it’s good for your sanity to get out every once in a while. I usually spend my vacation time in the same places, mainly back home on the east coast. But there are so many other places to go that won’t break the bank. Although I said I would start this thing on my birthday, I’ve cheated on a few things already, this being one of them. A few of my friends and I recently went up to Napa Valley for a brief, yet completely successful and fulfilling weekend, and it was glorious. It was my first time in that area, and let me tell you – Napa is everything it’s cracked up to be, folks.

Travel somewhere by myself

Speaking of which, I feel all Eat Pray Love/Wild about this, in that going on a trip by yourself is necessary in life. I’m an only child and independent by nature, so the thought of this doesn’t sound scary or intimidating, as I imagine it would be to some people. This sounds delightful to me and I have yet to figure out where said trip will be.

Volunteer 20 hours

I used to volunteer a lot growing up. Forgetting the fact that in high school a lot of it was required, I actually enjoyed volunteering, and did it throughout college. For a while there I even wanted to work for a non-profit. I really want to get back into it, and I’ve had some attempts in the past couple of years, but I’m actually making a goal of 20 hours to fill, which is really not even that much.

Get a massage

I’m gonna be real with y’all – I don’t necessarily find it appealing when complete strangers touch me, especially if I’m half naked. Is that completely unreasonable? But I’m going to try to let that go in favor of comfort and relaxation.

Go see at least 5 movies in the theater

I am a TV person. I watch all the TV. And like I mentioned earlier, I am a frugal person. Unless it’s a movie I really want to see in the theater, I will wait until it comes to Netflix and I receive it as part of my subscription. However, working in entertainment news, it’s usually helpful to know what I’m writing about, and not just basic facts about them. I’m not gonna lie to you – I already have my first movie lined up. And it’s the Backstreet Boys documentary, which comes out on Friday.

Watch 5 “classic” movies

To go along with that, I’ve written about my Pop Culture Blind Spots before, and I’m going to make an effort to actually sit down and watch some of them. We’ll start with the black and white classics… Star Wars will have to wait.

Donate clothes I haven’t worn in a year

I have been meaning to do this for years, and now’s a better time than any to actually follow through. Part of this involves re-organizing my closet, which I’ve already done and am super excited about. But this whole – I’m saving this just in case I need it for a Halloween costume – thing, isn’t working.

Read 3 new books

Again, I am a TV person. I watch all the TV. Thus leaving me with little time to sit and read. Hell, I barely have time to catch up on my Entertainment Weekly issues. As for reading actual books, I find that I read the most when I’m traveling, since there’s nothing else to do. I used to read all the time when I rode the subway in Boston, but now, I have to like pay attention to the road when I’m driving and stuff. Also, I have a tendency to just re-read books – I don’t need to read Harry Potter again (I mean I could and should, but I shan’t). But I’ve set a realistic goal for myself and hopefully I can finish three new books by 2016.

Go to 10 new restaurants

Like my go-to books, I have go to restaurants, and it’s time to change that. I’ve been compiling a list of eateries in LA that I’ve been wanting to go to, and 10 seems like a reasonable number. I will just have to force my friends into going to all new venues.

Explore 5 new places in LA

LA’s a big city, and while I’ve lived here for just over five years now, there’s still plenty more to see. You get stuck living in the bubble of your home neighborhood and work neighborhood, and any little pockets that your frequent. I never make it down to the West side or like Venice (as seen above) or Santa Monica or anything over there, mainly because there’s no reason for me to. Sans Dunkin Donuts, of course. But it’s time I start taking advantage of what’s around me.

Clean out email

I’m at 19% of 15 GB used on my Gmail, which I’ve had since 2006. That number may seem low, but you should see my inbox (don’t). It’s time I start cleaning shit out.

Pay for someone’s coffee 5 times

Pay it forward. Be kind to one another. All that jazz.

Take a photo or video each day

This is not a new thing. I’m going to see if I can keep it up. Instead of posting it every day, I’ll hopefully keep it up and compile everything into a handy video/slideshow on my 30th.

** Important note: I will promise to donate $10 to charity for every item on my list not completed

(originally posted on cookies + sangria)

Break It Down: The Best and Worst Places To Cry

Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you’re reading this blog and are subconsciously (or consciously) thinking that crying is for wusses, get out right now. Every human being does it. There shouldn’t be a negative stigma around it. Even the manliest men on the earth cry. Just look at Ron Swanson. Crying is good for you. Crying relieves stress. Seriously, it’s scientifically proven that it lowers blood pressure, removes toxins from your body and boosts your mood immediately afterward. So if you’re a Negative Nancy and think crying is below you, come back next week when we return to our regularly scheduled pop culture programming.

Now that that’s out of the way, we welcome you to a whole week about allowing your emotions to take over and letting it all out with tears. Sometimes you find yourself in need of a good cry, other times you can’t help the spontaneous tears from flowing. I myself am a crier. I cry at pretty much anything that will make me feel feels. If it’s sad, if it’s happy, if there’s a really good four-part harmony, I will shed all the tears.

So given I’ve had my fair share of crying everywhere, there are some places that are prime for breaking down, and others that are not as ideal. Here are just a few locations I’ve had good and bad luck with letting my emotions out. What are some of your favorite/least fave places to let it goooo?

Best: Your Own Bedroom

When I moved to LA approx five years ago, the first week or so was focused on finding an apartment and job. The excitement of being in a city for the first time as a resident was exhilarating, but the moment that harsh reality of realizing I had just moved 3,000 miles away from my friends and family hit me like a ton of bricks. I distinctly remember being on the phone with my friend Brian while he was at some party with all our friends/co-workers in Boston, and I felt a mixture of happiness hearing their voices but also jealousy and, yup, homesickness, that washed over me. After I hung up with him, I went into my bedroom with all my newly constructed Ikea furniture and plopped face down on my bed and sobbed. I put on my favorite crying music (which you’ll hear about later on in the week) and made so much noise while trying to breath through the snot. I’m pretty sure my roommates could hear me, so thanks M & R for letting me grieve alone in my dark bedroom. That must have been a little awk. Crying by yourself is the key to a good session like 90% of the time, and there’s no better place than the privacy of your own bed to do so.

Worst: While Operating A Vehicle

Ok to clarify, the key word here is *operating*. I am such a huge proponent of crying in your car. One time I didn’t feel like being in my room so I got in my car and drove around crying and ended up getting a burger to sop up all my tears. But here’s the bottom line – crying while trying to drive does not only put you in danger of getting in an accident but all the other folks on the road too. But you knew that. I’m not trying to be patronizing, but my point is that if you’re gonna cry in your car, do it while parked. Preferably with torrential rain outside while you play All By Myself on your CD player.

Best: The Shower/Bathroom

Again, crying by yourself is great. It gives you time to think about your situation, and when you’re already in a confined space in which your showerhead is already crying on you, it’s ideal.

Worst: Your Desk At Work

We will talk about crying at work later in the week, because both of us have done it. But who hasn’t? I’ve cried at work in a bathroom stall, but I’ve unfortunately had the unpleasant experience of crying at my desk. In front of my boss. Luckily, he was pretty lax and understanding about it, but if it was a more formal setting, that wouldn’t have been good. If you’re going to Robin Scherbatsky it and cry under your desk with a wine bottle, just make sure no one else is around (NOBODY ASKED YOU, PATRICE!).

Best: A Friend’s/Significant Other’s Couch

So if 90% of crying sessions are best by yourself, obviously the other 10 are with a crying companion. I am an only child who is very independent and enjoys being alone most of the time, so I don’t find myself utilizing this particular one a lot, but I hear it works for people who are much more sociable than I. Yay friendship!

Worst: At A Party In Front Of Everyone

You know when you’re at a party when you were at those college parties and there was the super drunk girl who either got in a fight with her boyfriend or the friends she came with and broke down in the kitchen? Yeah, don’t be that girl/guy. If you find yourself in desperate need of letting out some tears, go to the bathroom or a secluded area and do the deed there.

Best: The Floor

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I just like laying on the floor. It provides for a different view from like the couch or the bed, and I feel like I can just spread out and do my thing. Much like Jessica Day in that GIF, I enjoy a good cry on the floor with used tissues surrounding me.

Best: Movie Theater

Ideal situation: going to see a super sad movie by yourself, with a bucket of popcorn and alcoholic drink if you’re at one of those theaters, and all the napkins to dry up both your real tears and the ones caused by Nicholas Sparks (I’m assuming).

Worst: Public Transportation

Just, don’t do it. It’s awkward and then this picture will show up on Reddit and you will became a viral internet sensation.

(originally posted on cookies + sangria)

Orientation Express: Revisiting College Move-In Day 10 Years Later

By now, most kids are back in the school routine and still in the honeymoon period of getting to see friends, being in a higher grade, and brand new school supplies (just me?). With this new school year starting, I’ve been reminded that it’s been a whole DECADE since I began a whole new experience in college. Yiiikes.

Earlier this year, we spent a whole week reminiscing about our high school experience, but anyone who’s been to college knows that it’s a whole different beast than anything you’ve ever encountered in your previous 18 years of living. Whether you stay in your hometown, move to a different region of your state, or go across country, every freshman still gets that ‘Holy crap what am I getting myself into can I even handle this level of responsibility’ feeling on the first day they move into college.

For me, it was a unique experience to say the least. My parents and I loaded up our rental van and drove from Rochester to Boston with all my crap in the back. Here’s a thing to know about the college I went to: it’s right in the middle of the city. Like the “campus” is blocks of downtown Boston. This was the view from the building I lived in my freshman and sophomore years.

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With that in mind, moving about 900 students in on a busy Boston street is no easy feat. A lane of traffic has to be used specifically for freshman, and it has to be done very promptly and efficiently to keep the flow of traffic moving. I remember we pulled up to the building that was soon to be my home for the next 2 years, and looked out the car window to see (and hear) a bunch of screaming, enthusiastic college kids wearing the same shirt and for some reason, were really excited to see my car pull up. After a few admin tasks were completed, I vividly remember the very first moment I stepped out of the car and the important girl with the headset said, “Everyone welcome Traci to Emerson!” and a group of about 15 crazy people said “WELCOME TRACI” and cheered and yelled and started stealing my stuff. No, really. Well okay, they were taking everything out of our car, placing it in carts, and hauling it up to my dorm room so I would barely have to touch a thing (I didn’t lift a single item. It was the greatest).

Me, when first getting to my dorm on move-in day

The kids in the shirts, I would later find out were “OLs”, short for Orientation Leaders, made up of Sophomore, Junior and Senior volunteers who have a lot of Dunkin Donuts coffee and glitter running through their veins. In more recent years, the OLs have taken to dressing up in colorful outfits to, I don’t know, make the freshman feel more welcome? There’s really no way to accurately describe the shock when it comes to the very first moments of move-in day, so here’s a video instead. Also take note of the dad at 1:18.

The rest of orientation week was filled with icebreaker games (THE ABSOLUTE WORST) at this event called Hooray!, a guy nicknamed the “Dating Doctor” who talked about dating and sex, and as a girl coming from a Catholic education for all the previous years of my life, this was quite a change. There was a boat cruise, an epic dance where all the OLs dressed up in various costumes and busted moves along to popular songs of 2004 (similar to this, but imagine it being 10 years ago), and this 1980s safety video for everyone that had never lived in a city before. Honestly, they showed this, and in my opinion, it’s the greatest tradition our college has. A Bahston cop, dramatic reenactments, horrible acting, I mean, really.

“ATMs: probably the greatest invention ever to exist.”

In the end, Orientation week was a good way to transition into college life and not feel so scared about the daunting task of “being in college”. So for you freshman out there who still feel scared or uneasy about your new life, just know that the next four (or five or eight+, depending on the interest in furthering your education or level of long-term commitment)  years of your life will be some of the greatest you’ll ever have. You’ll make lifelong friends, you’ll learn things about yourself, about others, about LIFE. Just enjoy yourself. If those crazy OLs can let go of their inhibitions and wear tutus and banana costumes on the streets of Boston, you can make it through your freshman year.

PS: Please tell me our school wasn’t the only one with eccentric move-in/orientation events! Did any of you guys have a similar or horrible experience?

(originally posted on cookies + sangria)