The Thing We Learned In 2017

I’m know I’m late in posting this.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been holed up in my apartment watching HBO’s Divorce while waiting for my back to heal. I started out the year with big plans to redecorate my apartment and threw my back out while looking at throw rugs at Target to add the last finishing touch to the new year, new me. Although there’s absolutely nothing new about the year or me, I'm officially on the mend thanks to watching angry versions of Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church. (Side note: Did you know that guy is almost 60? Good for him. Seriously, kudos on that upkeep.)

I guess I’m going through somewhat of a divorce right now. Not with my back, but with my life. I’m leaving a part of my life that I was deeply committed to and moving on to a new chapter. This divorce started to happen during the past year as it brought out a lot of truth about each of us and one thing it brought out for me is the fact that I do not carry my story. I’ve been so busy carrying other people’s stories - hoping no one would notice I was hiding my own - that I didn’t stop to think about what would happen once I noticed. There are some things you can’t unsee and this is one of them. 

2017 showed us a lot of things we can’t unsee. The biggest thing it showed all of us on some level was around breakups, around taking things apart in efforts to find something better. With the things I've seen this year in our greater world and in myself, I cannot stay in the same place and have to leave to find that something better too. I can no longer be an extra in my story and have to start learning lines and working insane hours on set because sometimes that's what telling your story takes.

A lot of good things happened in 2017 too. I had drinks with Ariel at The Line. Shannon, Megan and I took Joshua Tree by storm. Brittney and Al got married and had an epic wedding that ended in a bar fight, a broken window and a stolen pizza from the cast of kids from Stranger Things. To be clear: I stole a pizza from the cast of kids from Stranger Things. My Hollywood crush even followed me on Twitter which means we’re totally getting married and I can't wait to be MRS. Hollywood Crush. Now we just have to slide into each other’s DMs and start living happily every after.

Between stealing pizza from Steve Harrington's crew and going through a breakup with ideas and beliefs that didn't deliver, the thing we learned in 2017 was to be fearless. To be fearless for ourselves. To be fearless for those that aren't considered. To be fearless for the greater good. It is the most important thing we can learn during a time of starting a new chapter and looking for something better, and I hope it's something we each can find this year.

I Don't Know What's Going To Happen Next

I don't know what's going to happen next.

When I first planned this post I was going to write about my life with music, writing and men. I was going to write about how things changed after my breakup with music and that it got worse before it got better. I was going to write about how I don’t know whether or not I’ll start playing shows or if I’ll ever meet someone I’m into that’s into me too.

But, that story is for later.

The more I watch the news the more I find everything is a wreck. Our country doesn't really believe the things it stands for and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are often far from the moments we experience in our policies or in the articles we read in our newsfeeds. We see this lack of belief come into play as we subtly allow the oppression of people around us because of something that was or wasn’t taught in our places of politics and beliefs. What starts as subtle becomes more blatant while we ignore the red flags that show us we are wrongfully hurting others. Things like this are happening everywhere in the world and I don't know what to do about it.

I had a plan for writing this year, but my heart and mind have been arrested by the pains I see in our world and country more and more. I'm too distracted to think or write because when I look around things seem to get worse. In this, I can't help but wonder:

Does this matter? Does my writing, storytelling and art matter?

I don't know.

In a time where darkness seems so ever-present, I'm desperately trying to cling to the idea of "Keep Calm and Carry On" but I cannot carry this. For me to carry on is to continue to buy $12 juice on the reg and have a mad crush on Adam Driver that I consistently write about on this blog and in my Instagram posts. I don't know if my voice can echo the change or hope we need when I'm writing about love and dating or my latest make out sesh. Will you really learn something if I tell you the different story lines in my life like how men I couldn’t be less interested in have been interested in me 10 different times and yes that’s 10 different men that won’t get the hint? I don’t know.

While watching an Adam Driver movie this weekend (I told you, consistently), there was a scene at the end of the movie where a group of people started singing together. No music played and all you could hear were their voices in unison as they sang in an old high school gym. I felt like I was right there in that gym with them, singing along to a John Denver song and begging for country roads to take me home. There's a place we belong and it doesn't feel like this.

I'm not sure how we to get to that place, but maybe it's by hearing the sound of our voices singing together in the dark. Maybe we don't know all the words to the song and we need other people to help us remember. Maybe one way we can remember is through writing, storytelling and art.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t know whether or not I’ll start playing shows or if I’ll ever meet someone I’m into that’s into me too. I don’t know what’s going to happen to our country or to our world, but I do know I need you to sing with me and help me remember the words to a song we so often forget in times like this.

A Guide To Breaking Up

I've broken up with a lot of different things this year: the types of men I don't want to date anymore (seriously, get out of my life), old ideas that overstayed their welcome, people and places I didn't need to be around. Some of these things broke up with me too.

Breakups SUCK, but they don't have to. Below is a guide to breaking up and how to have a good time while you're at it.

Make a playlist.
I don't care if you're not a music person, you need music. It will be your lifeline during a breakup and the thing that helps you start to feel everything you need to feel. Do it right now. Get on Spotify or Apple Music or Tidal and create a list of music with everything from "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division to "I Feel It All" by Feist. This playlist will be the thing that defines how you feel at this moment and the thing that guides you to how you will feel later. So, make sure to include "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen.

Get a haircut.
People make fun of breakup hair, but they aren't the ones in the middle of unexpected heartbreak or change. If you don't change something up about your appearance you'll go crazy. You need to look BOMB because you are in fact winning even though you feel like you aren't. Not interested in cutting off your hair? Get a new t-shirt that's the only thing you wear until you've mourned your loss. Find a pair of shoes that make you feel "Bad Girl" by M.I.A. every time you walk into a room. Buy a pink wig and wear it for a week straight. A friend of mine did that once and I still think it's genius. Whatever you do, make sure you look good. 

Binge it up.
Eat cookie dough. Find a TV show with a Sam and Dianne dynamic to remind you love is out there. Watch movies that make you cry. Drink bourbon chocolate milkshakes for breakfast. Read YA novels until you're brain hurts. Make voodoo doll cookies of your ex while you drink whiskey. Any kind of suppressed feeling is never good, so let yourself off the hook for a while to eat, drink and watch everything. Don't shy away from feeling sorry for yourself, just have a little fun while doing it.

But, also eat some kale and go for a run.
Make sure to take care of yourself too. It's easy to think you don't matter during any kind of breakup, layoff or change. Drink some green juice, go for a run while the sun is out and remember that your heart beats for reasons other than dating or work or whatever. You matter. Get your blood pumping to remind you of that.

Have plans.
After you've binged it up at home, have plans to go out. Sitting at home and feeling sad has it's place, but so does hanging out with the entire planet. Grab drinks with co-workers. See all your friends in one weekend. Go to the movies with someone you haven't seen in a while. Fill up every night on your calendar. Not all the time, but some of the time. This is your first step towards remembering that you can choose a new life even if this breakup wasn't something you chose.

Meet new people.
Now is the time to meet anyone and everyone. You don't have to become best friends with everyone, just start saying hey. That's all you have to do. The more new people in your life in any capacity, the more new things you can learn and times of change are times to learn. Plus the hot goss in your life will no longer be that you got dumped, it will now be that you know a lot of new people. And that will make your ex jealous. And you need to make you ex jealous at some point.

For the time being, get rid of all the things that remind you of your ex-love/job/friend/whatever. You need to get in a new head space and that's hard to do when you're surrounded by everything that reminds you of the person that is no longer in your life. Start cleaning out your physical and metaphorical closets. Read new books to give you new things to think about. Take a box of old clothes to Goodwill. Reorganize your coffee table. You can't make room in your life for new, better things when junk is still around. Get rid of that shit.

Don't stalk your ex.
Stop looking at your ex's Instagram. And Facebook. And whatever else they're on. Unfollow them. You have a new social (media) life to start living and you can't do that when you're reminded every 10 seconds of what your ex is busy doing without you. The last thing you need to do to your broken heart is torture it. Stop looking at their feed and start pretending your ex got fat and that they aren't dating a new hottie. Then, go live your life of things you're busy doing without them.

Get out of town.
Going somewhere new reminds you there's more out there than you and your breakup. Take a day trip, weekend trip or entire month sabbatical. It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be an experience that allows you to get away from everything and decompress. 

Have sex.
Have ALL the sex. Have sex with yourself. Have sex with a stranger. Have sex with one person. Have sex with every person. Have sex with the amount of people that is the appropriate amount of people for you to have sex with, but for the love of god use a condom. Your sexual health is vital and condoms may be uncomfortable, but so is syphilis. Anyone that doesn't want to use a condom either wants to get a stranger pregnant or doesn't care about others enough to elevate sexual health while having a good time. Either way, those idiots don't deserve to be in your bed/bod. Now, get out there and get some.

Or don't.
Let's be real, you don't have to jump in bed to have a proper breakup. Sex isn't required reading. Maybe you need the equally sacred act of not sleeping with people. You do you.

Do something new.
I usually see people take the "try something new" track to mean take a cooking class which is so dumb because you could be doing anything else. Like rock climbing. Or longboarding. Or making small batch ice cream. Whatever you do may not last, but let it not last. Have something you do that's new and fun to help take your mind off things.

On to the next one.
We get stuck on the idea of loving only one person. I don't know where this started or why it's the thing that often drives us, but I do know there are a lot of people out there to love. My friend Nikki had a baby recently and all I can think when I see pictures of this new friend addition is that this little lady is surrounded by love. So is Nikki and her husband Derek and their family and friends. More people means more opportunities to love, always. You have a lot of people to love in your life so don't sell yourself short by thinking that you only need to give love to a person you're dating. Give love to everyone. Then move onto the next one because there are lots of them out there.

Music Is The Ex-Boyfriend In My Life

I've never been very pretty. I’m the look-a-like of a celebrity that when people tell me I look like her they preface telling me with, "I hope this doesn't offend you, but do you know who you look like?" I know who I look like and it doesn't offend me. It most likely offends the celebrity you're referencing not because of how I look, but because you don't want someone to say it might be offensive to look like you.

Not being very pretty isn’t so evident in my life now, but it was when I was younger. I was loud and obnoxious and didn’t fit in anywhere until I moved to LA. Over the years people told me I was too this and not that, I was potential to be anything other than myself and never really felt comfortable in my skin. Not being comfortable in my skin has been so much a part of me that when I ran into my brother’s-college-ex-girlfriend’s-mother a few years ago she talked to me for a few minutes, stopped herself and said in mild disbelief, “You’re so pretty.”

I guess I wasn't before 30.

The thing people noticed about me other than my loudness and looks was music. In high school I started playing music because my brother had an old guitar that my dad owned in college. I can't remember how my brother learned to play, but I do remember that when he'd be up the street hitting on girls at a local record store I'd sneak into his room and teach myself to play. 

During those years of learning to play guitar I bought my own and made plans to tour every terrible open mic night I could after I graduated college. I had a voice that sounded like something you hear on stage in the back of a bar while you're drinking whiskey and figured I’d meet other musicians on the road while I played makeshift sets in dive bars. After driving cross-country with a band (two guys: one drummer, one guitarist), I'd move somewhere like New York to work on an album and go from there.

Music and I were in love. It was young love, but it was love just the same.

To get my music career started, I entered a talent show on campus my sophomore year of college that you had to audition to be in. I auditioned with a cover of some song by some band you only listen to when you live in a college dorm and got in. The weekend before I played the show I was telling my friend about it she said, "You know, I bet you get a manager out of this." I don't know why, but when she said it I knew I would.

And I did.

It was the type of manager that works with bands and venues to help you get gigs when you first start out as a musician. I was so excited that I called my parents to tell them the news. I hadn't told them about music and had been waiting for an opportunity. A manager in my back pocket seemed like the perfect time to tell them.

When we hung the phone up my parents didn’t contact me. My dad was coming to visit a month later and said we'd talk about things then. When he got there he told me my mom hadn't slept for two weeks and that they thought this was a mistake. Music was a risk and people that worked in that type of industry didn’t have a good quality of life. He and my mom were very conservative at the time and there wasn't a lot of separation of church and state where I'm from. After my dad told me I wasn't allowed to play in bars until I was 21 he ended the conversation with this:

We believe if you do this you're walking into the pit of hell.

It's a moment I often try to forget.

I can't fully explain what happened next. Over the next few years I slowly started to bury parts of myself to the point that music was no longer part of my life. It was now the ex-boyfriend that people couldn't bring up. Everyone thought we would end up together and nobody knew why we were apart. Throughout the rest of college people knew music and I were still hooking up on the side and wanted us to stop fooling around and get together already. I did too, but I didn’t know how.

Let me be very real: I wasn't an incredibly talented guitar player. I learned to play only well enough to stand behind one while singing because I liked having something more than a microphone between me and the edge of the stage. The songs I wrote were in the voice of a 20-year-old, but not a 20-year-old Etta or Amy. My stage presence was lacking and my voice needed some work. I made mistakes both in playing and singing and although I wasn't a prodigy I was broken-hearted: music was the love of my life.

On stage I wasn't too this or too that, I was seen for what I was and not what people thought I should be. Being seen for what you are and not what people think you should be is hard to come by and music didn't touch that. When I played people didn't compare me to anyone other than myself.

I wrote a song called Hey Love a year later and claim it was about the ultimate college crush Matt Luna. He was such a heartthrob. All the girls loved him and all the guys hated him for it. As I am further away from this time in my life, I find this song was never about anything other than my heartbreak over music.