and now for something completely different

Yesterday morning I went into the city before 10am, which is the equivalent of 6am anywhere else when it comes to NYC on a weekend. I got out of the house early because I had to capitalize on my morning energy to accomplish my mission: replacing the worn out 10+ year-old items in my closet.

I’ve been buying cheap clothes for a long time – not just cheap, but the cheapest of cheap. Not like…decent brands on sale, but the $4 shirts you get at TJ Maxx. I think it works well when you’re a teen and playing with your style for the first time (and also growing!) but I carried the habit into adulthood mostly because I was never making enough money to even consider buying clothes that were over $10-$15 per item. If I found something cheap, I tried it on – if it fit, I bought it. It didn’t really matter how the clothes made me feel, or if they offered any potential to last more than a year before falling apart.

I’m already off on a tangent. Essentially, I’m trying to execute the whole “have fewer things but of higher quality” idea, particularly when it comes to buying clothes I want to wear. I went shopping with that in mind and was pretty successful! I caught myself holding several shirts for $4.99 at one point in TJ Maxx (yes I went shopping on 5th Ave and still ended up at TJ Maxx) but I checked myself and put them back. I know you too well, $4.99 TJ Maxx shirts.

I shopped with intention yesterday and felt very satisfied, which is my segway into this post’s real topic: becoming the homemade toothpaste lady, but not overnight.

Right? Okay.

My dad stayed with Sean and I for a few days around Christmas, and brought up (multiple times) that there’s no point in recycling anymore. Of course he doesn’t mean that, he’s just fed up with the way the world works, as we all darn well should be.

This is embarrassing to admit, but I really didn’t know until he told me a few weeks ago that China is no longer buying our recycles because we can’t be bothered to 1) clean them or 2) recycle the right things. This has been going on for close to two years, according to this NYT article from 2018. Was this big in the news a while ago and I just didn’t notice?? Again, embarrassing.

Anyhow. Upon learning this information, I decided to recommit myself to something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never got very far with: no longer purchasing products that are sold in single-use packaging.

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen the gals with the pantries entirely comprised of fancy dry goods in mason jars, living off of their own gardens, either buying top shelf organic/recyclable/chemical-free/etc skincare products or alternatively, spending their days making products for themselves from scratch. I’m inspired and intimidated, and I feel like I’m not alone. I know that “we all have the same amount of hours in the day” and “no one is too busy to make a difference” but I am definitely too busy to go that freaking hard, Penelope and your homemade charcoal toothpaste.

So I let that be my excuse – if I don’t think it’s realistic that I could ever be on that level and I already do a little more than the minimum when it comes to living a sustainable life…why take it any further?

Admittedly…not a great attitude. If we’re all thinking that, that’s a collective HUGE difference not being made.

Going into the new year, I decided that it’s worth trying to change one thing at a time. Y’know, rather than trying to overhaul my entire life, going into panic mode and abandoning ship. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to come up with one thing that we buy/throw away (the packaging obviously) on a very regular basis. And it wasn’t! Because we are both addicted to…

Coffee!

We go through at least one coffee bag per week, and would definitely go through more if I didn’t have a café at work. Sean does the grocery shopping and is very loyal to Trader Joe’s. We usually end up with the coffee from TJ’s that comes in the classic shiny, not-really-paper bags like this:

I’m not a giant, that’s just a really small coffee bag that came as part of a sampler.

Staring at the coffee in our kitchen, I asked the internet a question to which I already knew the answer: are coffee bags recycleable? No, of course they’re not, unless they’re paper. This wasn’t too upsetting of an answer, for surely we could just start buying coffee in paper bags. Trader Joe’s must have this option.

I asked Sean to check the coffee situation on his next trip, and we both forgot. For three weeks. I was in Trader Joe’s yesterday and I still forgot to check.

I did step out of my comfort zone and go to Whole Foods on New Year’s Day where I saw a few options…one being that you can fill your own paper bag, but it’s mostly with the beans, not ground coffee. They do have a grinder there, but of course I’m too intimidated to use it.

Option two is to buy normal plastic-y bag coffee.

Option three is do what I did – spend $13 on prepackaged coffee in a paper bag.

Sustainable with regard to the earth? Yes. Sustainable with regard to my wallet? Obviously not.

I finally found my (temporary) solution last week, when I noticed that Sean brought home coffee in a can. Ah yes, cans. Do you ever just forget that things exist and spend too long trying to solve a problem? After Google confirmed that I could recycle my coffee can, I looked up at the sky (ceiling) and sighed. At last.

On a not entirely coffee-related note, I definitely want to toughen up and be less weird about doing things outside of my normal grocery store experience, like grind some coffee in that Whole Foods grinder – a seemingly not too difficult task. I think that the price per pound would still be insane, but it’s more about the task itself and my apparent grocery store anxiety.

Something else that I never noticed because the Whole Foods near our house is still pretty new (and I avoid the ones in Manhattan as much as possible) is that they have a pantry at the front where you can fill bags with rice, beans, nuts, and other dry goods from large jars. As far as I could tell, you can’t bring your own container to fill, but it’s possible that the produce bags they offer are biodegradable or something like that. This is something I will have to find out. My fear, again: the prices will be insane, and i’ll somehow spend $17 on a tiny bag of almonds.

It’s crazy how standing in the store the other day, assessing everything as questions ran through my mind, I reached a place of “f*ck this i’m getting the stuff already in bags.” Over something that’s really not tricky – just different. And to top it off, I’ve placed this assumption on this method of shopping that it’s going to cost way too much money. I mean, it’s Whole Foods, so I feel like I’m probably right…but still. I’m definitely an example of how people end up staying in their routines, longing for change.

…but I have coffee in a can now, so I’m pretty much just waiting for Ellen to bring me on her show as an eco-hero.

I realize I don’t get a lot of comment engagement, which is still cool with me, but if anyone wants to talk about a change they’d like to make to help out our toasty planet, I’d love to hear about it! My next small goal is to sort out our cleaning products – with a larger goal of setting up a compost. Ambitious and possibly illegal where I live. Because of all the skunks.

On that note, I’ll see myself out.

I haven’t made breakfast yet and I’m already thinking about lunch

Remember in that last post (3 weeks ago, my bad) when I wrote this:

“Here’s the thing: Unless I find a fantastic contract/short-term job that pays well and offers a nice chunk of consistent work for a while, I’m looking for a job that I can stick with.” ?

I DID THAT. I GOT A FANTASTIC CONTRACT JOB THAT PAYS WELL AND OFFERS A NICE CHUNK OF CONSISTENT WORK FOR A WHILE.

It’s so good. I wish I was comfortable writing about it in more detail, but I think it’s good internet practice to not be super open about where you work. Especially if you write rather candidly about your personal/health issues. However, it’s a fantastic company, a great team, and they have been so patient with me as they gradually realize that I have no prior experience doing the thing I do now. Luckily for them, I love learning, and when I commit – I commit. I’ve been doing little else for the past two weeks besides going to work early, coming home late and making sure I take care of my brain and body in the meantime so that I can be on my game at the office.

…actually, I will give you one detail. I don’t know how many of you read this from NYC, or if this exists outside of the city, but my office is part of a group catering program called “Stadium.” The way it works (and it differs depending on where you work) is that everyone can get a lunch order of $15 or less delivered from any participating local restaurant three days a week at no cost. This really means a lot to me. I love eating. I’m also weird about spending money on food, and was prepared to come every day with my lazy girl packed lunches to avoid going out and spending $10-15 on a daily basis. Now I get three free, healthy, big meals a week. This is how you get happy and grateful employees, people.

It’s such a relief to feel a bit more stable, finally. I’m still sorting out my routine as I go into Week 3, but for now I feel like I’m doing enough. I don’t want to push it by trying to add trips to the gym or anything else into the mix. Being that the job is contract and that I’m so happy there thus far, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to perform very well. Admittedly, it’s a big routine adjustment. Thankfully, my health has been pretty fantastic lately – but the minute I start slacking on my 8 hours of sleep, I feel it all over. Last week I thought I could handle going to a fairly low-key concert on a Monday night, but when I checked the time and saw that it was 10pm, my anxiety kicked in hard. I insisted on leaving at that exact moment despite there only being maybe 10 minutes left of the show, and made myself look a bit intense in front of some people I had just met. Again. Whoops.

It’s hard to live here and say “no” to things just because you need to, and not because you have other plans. Although, I guess I did have other plans that night…preparing for the next day and getting a good night’s sleep. Also, avoiding an anxiety attack is sort of an ongoing plan of mine. But who’s going to say any of that? There is always, always something going on on New York City and I think that there are a lot of people who work long, weekday hours that feel the pressure to cram their whole life in between Friday night and Monday morning, and even in the post-work hours during the week. I’m that way too, to an extent…but honestly, my concern with saying yes to things usually comes from caring about what people think of me rather than feeling left out if I don’t go. I mean, is anyone really cool with being the friend/coworker, or even girlfriend who “never goes out?” Again, unless you’re some kind of weirdo enlightened person who really doesn’t care what people think. Imagine the potential for an embarrassing situation, though, just based on my body’s unpredictability. Picture it: I go out for a social night with my coworkers one evening after work, not knowing that my kidney is up to his old tricks. I have one sip of beer, projectile vomit, and fall asleep.

…it’s not out of the realm of possibility. (If this reference makes no sense, please refer to “big ankle keeps on turning” from last December.)

Anyhow, I’ll figure that out as time goes on. The mission right now is to keep writing. My windows of time are between 8-8:30am when I hang out in the park by my office (because I am the master of being too early always) and between around 7:00-10pm. It might sound unlikely that I’d actually write in the park, but I’ve been doing it! I have 4,000 waitress notepads lying around anyway, so now I carry one in my work bag. It’s harder to get into a writing mindset with this new job solely because I’m not used to work that’s mentally exhausting rather than physically, but eventually as I keep growing into this position, I’ll be able to do my job with less strain on the brain.

Needless to say…I’m glad I held out. I was really so close to settling – I had even gone through orientation at that retail job the day before I found out my current company wanted to hire me. My gut remains good to me, and there was no doubt in my mind when I said yes to this job that I was doing the right thing.

To conclude this self-congratulatory post that really doesn’t contain anything important whatsoever, I’d like to show off these pictures from Sean and my last trip of the summer to Philly/Atlantic City a few weeks ago. I feel like I’m really stepping up my blogger photography game. I mean, I didn’t even take the good pictures, that credit goes to strangers on the streets. But still. Progress.

if I get one more recruiter email for a vague marketing position I swe-

Hello! It’s Wednesday, so according to my boss (who is me) I must share something today.

How about a recap?! This past week, I:

…went jet skiing for the first time (as a passenger, anyway). Séan loves being on the water and I believe this is his favorite way to be on the water. Mine is kayaking. Or a pool float. But it was pretty cool to see the Statue of Liberty from an unfamiliar angle and to fly past the piers & under the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus it was my own Hitch moment, minus getting kicked in the face. And Will Smith.

…tested out the newly-tidied back patio with a couple of friends. We startled the most precious tiny skunk family by intruding on what is rightfully their space late into the night. I also didn’t realize the wifi wasn’t reaching out back and used all my phone data playing a lively “BBQ playlist” whilst outside. Good.

…sampled beautiful Chinese food at brand new restaurant that I don’t believe has opened officially, yet. Also, took a gamble on a Mexican restaurant in Hoboken and a bar/bistro in Jersey City, both of which were new to the two of us. Everything was delicious, and I’m not even hungry right now so you can trust my judgement. (I don’t love going out to eat while unemployed but I only fight Séan on the subject when it’s getting to be a lot. I’m trying to stop being the brat who takes enjoyment away from him. I’m a very cheap date, anyway, and obviously great company so come on.)

…found a coffee place nearby that brings out my productivity!! This is huge for me. I moved here in April and it took me this long to start exploring…but hey, it’s happening. Not to “not appreciate the now” and all that, but I’m looking forward to the weather cooling down even more now that I’ve discovered this cafe. It’s a long enough walk away, but it will be such a beautiful walk in the fall and coffee will be even more enticing when it’s not 9000 degrees out plus humidity.

…had a nice 14.5 hour workday on the set of a project I know very well, and got to watch my favorite actors play my favorite characters. I don’t usually act in anything I watch, or vice versa, but this was the most perfect exception.

…applied to so many jobs! I’m finally zeroing in on jobs I truly want to do, which I’ve found requires looking outside my usual sources. Which makes sense – those websites haven’t served me well thus far (except Craigslist, I ❤ Craigslist) so I was due for a change in approach. I’m now on just about every job-search platform in existence, and have learned a very valuable lesson: TURN OFF THE THING THAT LETS RECRUITERS REACH OUT TO YOU.

…posted some of my writing (the stylized, poetry-type variety) on Instagram for everyone to see. That’s a scary new thing I’m doing. I stand by my man Austin Kleon though, and his insistence on sharing your work throughout the process. It won’t serve me well to wait until I’ve been confidently writing and editing for years and then start sharing. You just gotta do. And be imperfect. And get there eventually.

My body has been a little funky and achey, but nothing I can’t manage. Séan and I did a lot of walking around on the Fourth of July, which was a very hot and sunny day here. I’m usually good with long walks, but I’ve learned that the hotter it is, the less my body can cope. Not that anyone feels good after a lengthy walk in oppressive heat, but my bod is pretty dramatic about it. My left side gets all worked up, my face gets super flushed, and the headache comes on strong. (I always wonder if my light sensitivity is a leftover concussion factor. Remind me to look into that.)

I forced us to head home before restarting the day and took a nap so deep I may have been dead. I knew I needed it, and I was able to bounce back because of it. I’m in the endless process of trying to pace myself a bit more and not be the “hell yeah let’s do it” girl I want to be, at least not all the time. I have to parent myself a bit more, but I’m getting there. I have a tendency to carry the “lost” moments (or the things I said no to) with me, but looking at that list of things I did do last week, I can take a deep breath and smile.

I’ve been reading a lot of good things lately but I also keep discovering more and more artists to fall in love with: would y’all prefer a list of independent artists who make weird/awesome things and could use some support, or a what-I’m-reading-lately type post next time? I realize no one will answer this question, like when beauty bloggers say “hiiiiii guys, SO MANY of you have been asking for me to do a (blank) video-” and literally no one asked. But just in case anyone has an opinion, please bless me with it. Thank you.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and chins up, you’ve got half the week left. Do something good with it.

7 things that kept me sane this week

1) Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

I found out about Tressie McMillan Cottom’s latest book thanks to Goodreads.com, who featured Thick in a promotional email that of course I cannot find. Now that I am aware of McMillan Cottom – her education, professional and personal background, it’s no surprise at all that her essays were filled with valid, harrowing, necessary points about the suppression of black women’s success. Had I not already returned the book to the library, I’d drop a few quotes from the two essays that were the biggest eye-openers for me: “Black Girlhood, Interrupted” and “Dying to Be Competent.” Read it. Go. Request it to your local library like I did and get it done.

2. Craiglist job searching

I’ve tried numerous other job hunting websites over the years, but I always come back to Craigslist. It relaxes me. People can be themselves. I’ve found several legitimate, enjoyable jobs through Craigslist. These past few weeks I’ve been trying out new platforms for job searching, and honestly thought I’d found the perfect one…until I realized they were reviewing and tossing my applications before giving the companies the chance to review and reject me themselves. Seems a little rude! Maybe I don’t look at all qualified to do a particular job – well guess what? I’ve almost NEVER been qualified to do any of my jobs.

*sips tea while responding to 20 Craigslist ads.*

3. YouTube workouts

I cancelled my gym membership when my last job ended, as I don’t live anywhere near the gym I joined two years ago. It’s a popular chain so there have always been options near my work, throughout all of my job changes. However, I finally live far enough from civilization that it’s a little crazy to make the trek just for the gym. Especially when it’s as cold out as it has been. I’m familiar with a wide variety of floor workouts thanks to my athletic background, but I’ve found a few YouTube workouts that force me to follow an instructor and commit to the right amount of sets and repetitions – I need that sometimes. If I start with an instructor-led video, I find that I’m more devoted to the rest of my workout, even though it’s just me. POPSUGAR Fitness is my lifesaver with their free videos (I love this 4-minute arm workout) and I’m already feeling better about myself from a week of lightly stepping back into an active lifestyle. Yay.

4. Hitting things

I’m always creeping…

I spent Monday with Sean and convinced him that we should go to the driving range instead of go-karting. It was such a beautiful day, there was no need for indoor activities. The first time we went to the driving range was just short of a year ago, and there was much coaching involved. I needed it, though – I hadn’t golfed since attending my boujee summer camp years and years ago. We’ve gone back to the driving range since, but this was the first time we just let each other do our thing, quietly, without even really watching each other. It was a different experience, and a very peaceful one. …except when the golf cart came out to clear the green and Sean fired off probably around thirty balls trying to hit the guy.

5. Obvious Child (Robespierre, 2014)

Okay, so I’m five years late to this movie but shoutout to my gut feeling for always knowing exactly what I need to watch. This was a Netflix find, chosen solely for Jenny Slate playing the lead. She’s a big favorite of mine. I can barely say anything about this one without it being a spoiler, but if you can tolerate vulgar humor, love a good feminist moment, want to laugh and then probably cry a little bit, and don’t have plans to eat any cream cheese in the near future – this is one to watch. Also, if you’re in your mid/late-twenties and don’t feel like an adult yet, this is for you.

6. A solo coffee walk through Central Park

I wanted to drop off cookies to Sean yesterday after running errands, but I ended up way ahead of schedule and therefore decided to meander through Central Park. My coffee didn’t stay warm for very long, but it was rich and wonderful and only $2.50 so…ca-ching. I also, and don’t freak out, saw THE hot duck. This one. If you haven’t heard, there’s a Mandarin duck in Central Park now, and I’ve never looked for it before. However, I stopped on a whim yesterday to gaze upon some mainstream ducks, and there he was. An amazing turn of events.

7. A giant burger and a glass of wine

First of all…yes, I had a glass of wine yesterday. I also sipped some cider during the Super Bowl and a bit of a beer on Monday. It’s okay. It’s more than okay – it was arguably necessary. I’m feeling great, to tell you the awesome truth. And I’m pretty much always craving a burger, but the scale was at about a 9 out of 10 last night. This pub burger got the job done, and the single glass of happy hour wine felt much deserved. We’re all gonna be alright.