How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.

Three invaluable* adulting products

Important note: I have not and don’t ever plan on accepting sponsorship/putting ads on this blog. The sweetest swag I’ve gotten is a box of 48 rolls of toilet paper from the Toilet Paper World blog after I wrote a guest entry for them. Best swag ever

So this is nonbiased; these are just things I was deeply grateful to own this weekend:


OxiClean powder is amaaaaazing. My white duvet was looking dingy, so I washed it in hot with a big scoop of OxiClean and now it is like a new damn duvet whereas before it had chocolate and soup on it. Pretty sure OxiClean gets whites as white as bleach AND you can use it on colors AND you can make it into a paste and scrub things with it AND it’s not terrifying the way bleach is.


Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Countertop Spray in Honeysuckle: This is the first cleaning product I have ever been temped to spray on myself. That is how nice it smells. I did not think that there was a smell so nice that it would make me want to wipe things just for the scent but there you go. Maybe it’s partially cocaine, who knows.


Voluspa candle in Laguna: I have never, ever gotten a schmancy candle, and then my dad got me one for Christmas and I was like, ok, fine, I will try this. And it makes my whole house smell like a rich intimidating lady home. The one he got me was $8; it took me seven months to go through it. WORTH IT.

*Obviously they are not really invaluable the way, say, love or friendship is. But they are worth, to me, more than what I paid for them at the store.

So. What is your favorite grown-up product?

29th Jul 2013 1,049 notes , Comments

Quote of the Day

"If you don’t get to touch it, you don’t get to talk about it."
— My friend Kim, on when it is or is not OK to talk to someone about their body. Hint: it’s usually not OK.

23rd Jul 2013 930 notes , Comments

Internet Domesticity Envy: A Cautionary One-Act Play

Scene: Boyfriend and I are laying in bed on our laptops even though we should be cleaning the house for upcoming familial birthday party. He is playing a 1996-era game where he is a wizard; I am on a social networking site that makes your life look prettier than it is.

Me: Oh my Godddddddd, (Beautiful domestic goddess friend) is on Instagram.

Boyfriend: Stop looking at that.

Me: (anguished) Look at these tea sandwiches she made! And they are on a silver tiered tray! I don’t even understand these sandwiches.

Boyfriend: Stop looking at that.

Me: Ugh, she made (her husband) a beautiful birthday pennant garland! I have no idea how to make a pennant!

Boyfriend: It’s a bunch of triangles. Stop looking at that.

Me: (burying head in blankets so I don’t have to look at the non-pennanted, non-tea-sandwiched, non-fresh-flower-filled hellhole I live in) It’s just … I … ugh … pennants.

Boyfriend: Are you doing this to try to feel bad?

Me: (muffled) Yes.

Boyfriend: Did it work?

Me: Well, I feel terrible, so … yes.

I decide that a wretched creature such as myself doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as someone who has seamlessly integrated coral/sea shells/clean lines/baroque antiques into their actual home where they live. The only honorable way is to keep my face down in this dingy IKEA duvet until breath leaves me in the hopes that I will be reincarnated into someone who paints lovely oil seascapes in her free time.


22nd Jul 2013 669 notes , Comments

Adulting question.

Guys! I am working on a story for a big national magazine (woo!) about how to establish a grown-up relationship with your parents and extended family. 

I want to pepper it with stories and anecdotes and advice from people our age, so here we go. If you do choose to answer, please add your state/age/first name (you can do this anonymously too!)

1. What’s one thing you’ve done to make your family see you as an adult instead of a child? Did it work?

2. What is your worst regression moment?

22nd Jul 2013 276 notes , Comments

Semi-constructive things to do with your anguish

Man! What a proud night in America it is! It’s so nice to know that not only are racist cops allowed to shoot black unarmed teenagers with impunity, but so are those who just really, really like to pretend that they’re racist cops.

The theme of this blog is being a grown-up, and grown-ups do something besides post angry Facebook statuses when they’re upset. None of us can magically End Racism Forever! but if you are horrified by what happened tonight, don’t let that just evaporate like seafoam in the sun. Do something.

1. Take some time to feel deeply angry and upset. This is deeply, deeply upsetting to reasonable people. But — remember that there are people out there, a lot of them, who are indeed working very, very hard to combat this ugliness, and you can help them. Going and spending some time on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website is a good start.

2. If you live in a state that has a Stand Your Ground law or Castle Doctrine in effect (that would be — I believe — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California,  Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) spend a few minutes Googling to see if there is an opposition group. If so, get involved.

If not, write to your state representative. I’m serious. There are some reasonable, non-gun-nut states on that list — California, Maine, Massachusetts, etc. — and if something is going to change, it has to change NOW. This will be forgotten in three weeks, at least in terms of actionable public sentiment.

3. If you do live in a progressive state (the kind where people pride themselves on their non-racism coughOregoncough) do not assume that this is something that only happens in the bad, bad, racist south.

There is nowhere in America untouched by institutional racism. It’s real and it’s everywhere and it shouldn’t take a sad, internally ugly man getting away with murder to demonstrate. Wherever you are, your city and your state need work and it will not be accomplished via social media statuses alone.

TL;DR: The way you feel tonight? It’s necessary, but doesn’t help anything. What will help is channeling that anger into meaningful action.


What am I missing?

13th Jul 2013 1,469 notes , Comments

A very gentle PSA to anyone who may be writing a trend piece about millennials

  • Not all of us live in Brooklyn! In fact, the vast majority of us do not live in Brooklyn.
  • Most of us don’t get money from our parents! Nor do we want it! Assuming that everyone has parents who could or would bankroll a life in NYC or SF is fatuous. What many of us want and most of us have are jobs.
  • Yes! Jobs! We have them! We get up and put on work-appropriate clothes and then go to work and do our best and come home.
  • We did not all study humanities! Of those who did, lots have great jobs! And even if some don’t — did you make no stupid decisions when you were 19? Do you think that maybe someone who is deeply in debt with few job prospects maybe has learned his or her lesson without your public concern-trolling?
  • Not every 20-something female who is making a movie/writing a book/running a blog needs to be compared to Lena Dunham. Lena is insanely talented and telling an interesting story. But: It is a story. It is not the only story.
  • Yeah, Boomers: a lot of us are narcissistic. Also, we’re in our 20s. 20-somethings are to narcissism as teens are to contentless rebellion, or 50-somethings are to weird, expensive hobbies that bring them joy.
  • We grew up with a model, and set of assumptions, that proved untrue. During our childhoods, unemployment was low, houses gained in value, a bachelor’s degree left you prepared for a variety of employment opportunities and investing was a sound decision. Now all of those things aren’t the case. It’s our job to deal with that, and that’s fine. Generations have faced much worse. But it’s easy to distrust a system that melted down so spectacularly just as it was time for us to buy into it.
  • Seriously: is this just a need for an older generation to feel anxious about the next one? Do you really think humanity has devolved spectacularly in the past 15 years, and there is something uniquely wrong with us? Do you just need something to rile the readership up? What is the deal?
8th Jul 2013 2,344 notes , Comments

Step 311: You have physical imperfections. Also, the sun is hot and someday, each of us will die.

One of the funnest* parts of book publicity are the emails and comments I get after every TV appearance. Here’s a very representative one:

It really is kind* of this stranger to take a moment out of her no doubt rich and fulfilling life to inform me of something I’d previously never noticed*. I definitely did not spend years of my life thinking that I’d be pretty if only it weren’t for my gap*, and never opening my mouth to smile so that it was this awkward grimace thing which immediately dropped off my face*.

(Note: everything marked with a * is a lie. Just so we’re all on the same page.)

I had braces, but the gap was more powerful. I thought about cosmetic work. I almost wrote a check for it. 

And then one day I woke up and said, fuck it. This is stupid. This thing is a part of you and if you spend one more second angst-ing about something that is not a problem and does not impact your life then that’s on you. How much time had I wasted on this already?

If you want to, you can spend your entire life picking out things to hate about yourself. You can find a new non-reality-based appearance concern to fixate on each and every day, if you want.

Or you can do your best to accept that it doesn’t matter to anyone but you, then actually smile in pictures.

3rd Jul 2013 832 notes , Comments

Step 310: There are very few perfect jobs. For now, look for a good one.


A reader asks: 23 year old + A.A, B.F.A, A.A.S degrees = lack of job satisfaction. Just can’t seem to figure it out, what is one to do? Can’t reasonably be a fulltime student for the rest of my life. So, what should one do to ensure finding the right career that ensures job satisfaction most of all and a comfortable living?

Bad news first: the answer to your question will not be in this (or any!) blog entry. “How do I find a satisfying, lucrative career that suits my needs?” is akin to “Where will I encounter my soulmate?” Some false premises are at play.

Some people find their soulmate. And other people find jobs that pay them $150,000 a year to fight the good fight and still have time for rich and satisfying home lives.

But … that does not happen in your 20s. If ever. So for right now, the real question is what is most important to you? Is it money? Pursuing your passion? Doing something you’re uniquely good at? Something that pays the bills but doesn’t eat your life?

Read More

17th Jun 2013 1,148 notes , Comments

Still applicable: Do not comment on things people are, comment on things they do.

(a re-print inspired by all these responses. Also, please, can no one ever again utter a variant of the phrase “Wow, for an [inherent characteristic] you are certainly [adjective]!” That is never, ever going to go well.)

The simplest example of this is not telling a tall person that they’re tall.

So much of our lives are shaped by weird rolls of the genetic dice, or fate, or God, or however you choose to interpret that particular mystery. Whether someone is short or tall or originally from Canada or gay or Asian or born to rich parents or redheaded or whatever — that’s not something they chose or cultivated in themselves, and it’s not something they work for.

What makes someone good and valuable is not these traits. It’s the choices they make and the things they do. I’d always rather someone tell me I’m a good writer than that my red hair is pretty, because one of those things is something I work my ass off at, and another is some protein encoding. Both are sweet things to say; one means a lot more to me.

It’s not that you can’t be proud of/pleased by these intrinsic things, but don’t forget that the things you (and others) deserve credit for are the things you have control over.

13th Jun 2013 792 notes , Comments

Addendum to Step 308: What if it’s your friends soliciting for charity?

Deborah writes: I wonder if you have any advice for saying no to friends who set up Just Giving pages and request donations to sponsor their activities? I don’t want to sound heartless to my friends, but I already have a charity I support and any spare cash I have is dedicated to this.

This gets taken on a case-by-case basis.

Most, you can just reject outright without an explanation. A cheerful “Oh, gosh, no, I’m OK,” when your coworker is trying to shill chocolate bars on behalf of his child’s marching band is totally OK. You also don’t have to respond to emails that have been sent to 250 (visible) recipients, although a “Thank you for asking, but I give in other ways. Good luck!” reply is polite.

If your friend is fundraising for a cause that deeply impacts him/her or their family and/or a massive personal undertaking that that you believe in (and you are not broke) you should at least make a cursory donation. If your friend’s mom died of cystic fibrosis and she is running to honor her and raise money for research, that $20 isn’t just a $20. It’s an acknowledgement that fundraising is your friend’s way of striking back against something that hurt her deeply and a way for her to feel like she is doing something.

If you are broke, it could be kind to send this kind of personal note:

Dear Seth,

The work you are doing with Framework International is incredible, and I am so proud of you for doing something this important. Money is really, really tight for me right now, and I can’t send a monetary donation. Is there anything else I can do to help out in terms of volunteering or in-kind donations?


13th Jun 2013 142 notes , Comments