I used to set resolutions. Every year. When I was a kid it was stuff like “be nicer to [insert name of anyone I went to school with here] so you stop getting in trouble” or “talk less, listen more” or “be less of a picky eater”. Whatever resolutions kids come up with to make themselves feel grown up, because grown ups have GOALS and IDEAS.
I started feeling like resolutions and “new year new me” was all bullshit around fourteen or fifteen, because I was going through that angsty “nothing we do matters and we’re all gonna die” phase (my friends reading this are laughing at my use of the word “was”). On some level I felt like I was grown enough to not need resolutions anymore.
For so long I saw knowledge and growth like some sort of mountain, and once you reached the peak there was no higher to climb. You’d done it! Success! You now have all the knowledge you need to kick back and chill and feel better and smarter than everyone else for the rest of your life! You have finally finished growing!
Good joke, 17-year-old me.
That shit never ends. There is never a day you should wake up and feel like you have achieved the meaning of life, perfection, Nirvana, bliss, whatever you want to call it. You haven’t. No one has. Contentment is wonderful, satisfaction is amazing, and those feelings are feelings you deserve to have. But don’t stop growing because you feel “finished”, or stop learning because you think you have it all figured out.
I still don’t love the idea of New Year’s resolutions. It just feels cheesy. But I have had to learn that setting a resolution in 2017 doesn’t mean it’s something I can’t keep working on into 2020. I have ended up keeping all my resolutions from childhood. I learned to be a kinder person, but also to not be afraid of getting into trouble. I have never stopped talking, but I did learn how to listen, and at the end of the day I’m still a picky eater, but I am always willing to try new foods. I didn’t stick to those resolutions like glue, though I’ll blame that on being nine years old, but I had them in my mind and that allowed me to work on those elements of growth, while also realizing that the world wasn’t as black-and-white as I thought it was when I had initially created those goals.
In truth, resolutions are important. It’s important to set goals and strive to achieve them, I really do believe that. Despite the whole “new year new me” cheesiness, I know an arbitrary starting point makes it easier to find a time to put those goals into action, so I’ve accepted it and started making New Year’s resolutions that feel realistic for the moment, and then building on them over time. The way I see it, life is about being better than you were the day before, or hour or minute before. Even by a minuscule, microscopic margin. Change is essential to being a human being. I don’t believe any person should find their comfortable spot and plateau from there, we should all be working to find something to improve ourselves with so we don’t end up unchangeable. We should be finding a way to be kinder, more compassionate, loving, conscious, educated, badass, etc. every day. So hey, if resolutions aren’t your thing, I get that, but on some level, shouldn’t we all be growing and changing and setting new standards for ourselves all the time? And what the hell are we doing with our lives if we aren’t?
I see a lot of people on my social media saying that the 2010s were the absolute WORST and they are very hopeful for the 2020s and while I am optimistic for the new decade, I think the 2010s were not that bad. Perfect? Of course not, but not the worst. I think we are becoming more accepting of other people with more representation in media, we are making massive leaps in technology, and media is changing in an exciting way with cinematic universes and streaming services.
With that being said...
This is one of the first decades where the majority of people have social media and I thought it would be fun to look back on social media and see how I changed.
I do not recommend this.
I seriously do not recommend this.
I authentically, sincerely, one hundred percent do not recommend looking back at your social media from the past decade.
I did this and my god, it was agonizing. My original plan was to share posts with you over the decade but it was a struggle to get past 2012. I’ll share one post with you that I think perfectly encapsulates my youth.
I can almost feel the anger coming off of this post. First of all, no one wants to help a 15-year old with his movie script, ESPECIALLY other 15-year olds! Secondly, use proper grammar and punctuation.
F minus, see me after class!
In a way, it’s kind of nice seeing myself from a decade ago so angry.
I clearly had a lot of passion for what I did, even if it was just writing silly movie scripts. I’d also like to think I’ve calmed down since then. Letting people do their own things and just letting me be me.
Okay, I’ll give you one more at the request of my editor:
USE A SPACE AFTER A PUNCTUATION MARK, GAGE!!!
I am very tempted to go back and edit this status, because this is driving me insane…
Also, notice how I went from one like to zero. That’s how you know these are getting worse.
For those not familiar with the lingo, the word “frolf” is a combination of frisbee and golf and is a “sport” I played in high school. I might as well put in “planking” or “doing the Harlem Shake” instead of frolf because those would have aged just as well.
As well as this being a poorly structured joke, this was also my thinly veiled call for help. I had no idea what I was doing at that point in my life and I used humor as a way to mask my uncertainty.
A lot of people say they wish they could go back in time and tell their past self that everything is gonna work out. I think what people really mean is they wish they could tell themselves to stop worrying about the petty bullshit. I can 90% guarantee this was about some girl who didn’t like me or some class I was struggling with. I would tell my 2011 self to not worry about that and he would definitely not listen. I should’ve been worrying about taxes or something.
My main takeaway by reflecting back on the decade was seeing personal growth. That’s why I consider the 2010s to be time well spent. I needed experience to become a more well-rounded person. Time used to improve is not time wasted.
So as we go into this new decade, I plan to be a better person than I was at the start of the 2010s. Work a little harder, love a little more, and do my best to put out some good into the world. I’ll try to even make better social media posts. Follow me on Twitter @GageAgnew for bangers like this:
Okay maybe “banger” is a bit strong...
Anywho, if I keep doing pushing forward, by the 2030s, I’ll be content going into that new decade because I will have grown and that’s all one can ask for.
Did you know you could capture the attention of everyone the minute you walk into a party? Did you notice that I caught my breath when you shook my hand? Could you tell I was stuttering over my words as I tried to introduce myself? Did you know it was because just one look at you made my heart flutter and my mind to go blank? Could you see as the heat rose to my cheeks when you spoke my name while grasping my hand? Were your eyes lighting up when you smiled at me or was that just the fire dancing in your eyes? Could you tell I was nervous every time you came to talk to me? Could you hear my heart beating out of my chest? Could you tell you sent shivers down my spine when you accidentally brushed my hand with yours? Did you realize how many other girls wanted your attention that night? Were you aware that I kept my distance and watched you from afar? Was there a reason you kept coming over to talk to me? Or was it my friend you came over to talk to? Could you have known when we offered you a ride that I had already given up on the idea of us? Would you ever find out that I was trying to match you with my friend even while I had eyes for you?
But then… Why did you sit so close to me the next time we were together? Why does it seem like every time I looked up, my eyes met yours? Was there something on my face? Did I accidentally wink at you and then turn a bright shade of red when you smiled? Were you aware that that simple act made my heart melt? Did you know your whole face lights up when you laugh? Was I really that funny all night? Do we just have a similar sense of humor or was I really making you genuinely laugh so hard that your eyes crinkled up and tears appeared in the corners? Can you even remember what I said that made you laugh so hard? Are my friends just trying to make me feel better by telling me you couldn’t keep your eyes off of me? Are you always this competitive or was it just because I was winning by so much that you couldn’t help but taunt me? Do you realize how attractive you look when your competitive side is broken with laughter?
Did you realize that text you sent me asking where I was gave me butterflies? Did you know I was nervous as hell for that night with our friends? Were you aware that I had genuine fear of being out on the ice? Were you cautious to approach me due to the high volume of guy friends surrounding me? Did you know I waited until you saw me there to actually be brave enough to step out on the ice? Were you smiling at me or at my mini freak out of being so unstable in skates? What made you want to be next to me most of the night? Did I upset you when I said not to hold onto me because I would pull you down with me? What made you keep offering anyways? Was it because I kept wobbling or was it due to the sparks I felt between us? Did you feel them to? Did you get butterflies when my hands flew to yours for balance? Do you realize the comfort and safety I felt with you behind me, your hands on my waist and my hands on yours? Was that a thumb rub? Did you hook your fingers into mine? What made you let go? Did me almost falling on my face make your day? Was it because it was funny or because you got to catch me and hold me close again? Were we acting in a Hallmark movie?
Why were these moments significant to me? Am I reading into it like I always do? Why did I fall for someone completely out of my league? Are you aware that everything you do is analyzed by my friends and I? Do you know that you’ve stumped every single one of them? Why does everything have to be so confusing? Why am I being so cautious with you when I have never been like that in the past? Is it uncertainty? Or is it me wanting to be certain before I say anything? What is it about you that has made me stray from my normal path of getting it over with? Why can’t I just tell you how I feel and find out how you feel about me? Did any of this even cross your mind? Am I making a fool of myself? Why can’t I get you out of my head? Where do I go from here?
I don’t like Christmas.
When you read that, you thought “how horribly Grinch-like!” or “that’s really sad” or some other negative response, right?
I don’t like Christmas, and it’s not a big deal. But it seems to be a big deal every time I say it. The shock, the questions, the attempts to convince me otherwise. My feelings and opinions on holiday appear to be very very important to those around me, and maybe they’re just trying to fill me with some of the magic that they feel so that we can all be jolly together but at the end of the day it’s simply just a personal choice. I can feel magic and joy without needing a holiday to tell me to do so.
I’m not a Grinch, at least I try not to be. I don’t want others to experience Christmas any less than they want to. When I say “I don’t like Christmas” it’s not an attempt to ruin their holiday, it’s simply an expression of my opinion on the matter. A succinct attempt to give them a head’s up that, hey, if you keep talking about how much you love Christmas and all the wonders it brings, I just don’t really have anything to add to the conversation. I’m happy you’re happy, I just don’t care to participate.
First of all, I don’t believe in the Christian God. I don’t really think I ever did, and it was never really imposed on me by my family; I was baptized but never confirmed and we stopped going to church before I can remember what church is like. Believing in God isn’t necessary for Christmas, I understand that, but the name is right there in the title of the holiday. You don’t expect a person of Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist faith to celebrate Christmas, and you’re probably okay with that. But someone with no faith at all, well that’s just unacceptable.
Like I said, I do understand that the holiday isn’t all about Christ. It’s also about the unity of bringing people together, friends and family and loved ones. It’s a nice way to sum up a year, an excuse to see people you haven’t seen in a while, a reason to reconnect and eat and drink and be merry. And that’s a lot of fucking pressure. What if you’re not in the mood to be merry? The calendar says it’s the last week of December so you better start feeling it. In full force, nothing held back. You also better make sure you remember the names of all of those people you haven’t seen or even spoken to in months or maybe years, and you better have some fun upbeat anecdotes ready to share about how interesting your life has been since you last saw them. You have to be warm and polite and you have to make sure to talk to everyone long enough so that they feel like they’re important to you. And you have to do all of this while traveling through the worst crowds you’ve ever seen, and you better show up not exhausted and instead thrilled to now spend 4 days with people you literally have nothing in common with. Remember your cousins who you used to babysit nearly every weekend until they were 3 and 4? Now, you keep calling them by their wrong names and they have no recollection of ever knowing you.
Then there are the presents. Yes, I understand that Christmas isn’t about the presents, but it’s also 100% about the presents, right! You want to show that you care about someone so you think for a while about what they like, what they have, what they need, and what they want. You think about what dollar amount that friendship is worth to you and then you start searching for the perfect present. You need something personal enough so when they receive it, they know how much you care about them, so it has to be perfect. Multiply that effort and stress for all of your friends and family and now it’s basically a full time job finding gifts for everybody. You’ll never really know if you nailed it. Every single one of them will tell you they love it, that it’s just what they wanted, that they’re so honored you thought of them, that you didn’t have to, and then they’ll remind you that they love it one more time. Because who’s going to receive a Christmas gift and say, “sorry friend you missed the mark this time” and crush the efforts of the giver?
The pressure is also on even when you’re receiving gifts. That cozy sweater that’s just the style you want doesn’t fit. Do you smile and say thanks and throw it in the back of your closet forever? Do you muster up the courage to tell them it’s not quite right and make them feel guilty and embarrassed for missing the mark? You open a toy you’ve been excited to play with for weeks because you were just certain you would receive it. You go to play and there are no batteries because that slipped everyone’s mind, and now the giver has to watch your disappointment as you continue to wait some more before you can actually enjoy the gift they thought would bring you immediate joy.
It’s the guilt and the pressure of it all that takes away the magic for me. Years, and years and years of disappointed faces and voices, of spending so much effort only to realize it’s not appreciated, of the expectations and being forced to participate in unwanted awkward events.
I’d rather just refrain from it all. The rest of Western Civilization can continue to carry on with their lights and their songs and their cookies and their presents and their glee. All I want to do is continue on as normal because literally none of it means anything to me.
Such a cold morning to wake up to; another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and my three-day visit with my parents was just about coming to an end. We had a specific plan on how the day would turn out. We definitely did not see the hurt that was coming our way.
I awoke from my bed; the box of ashes of my dear departed, Precious, right at my nightstand. Never has there been a time where she was not at my side wherever I slept. She is my partner in crime, even beyond this lifetime. I always felt her presence nearby, wherever I would go. I truly miss that cat.
My parents and I left home to drop off my car at our usual car dealership for an oil change. We wanted to make the most of the time we had left before I returned home to LA. We went to get some breakfast and catch up on some good times. We talked about the sudden cold weather and how amazing it was to see all the snow on the mountains. It was a bit bittersweet to say the least; my brother was absent so it felt out of place to laugh when he wasn’t around. His girlfriend had to work Thanksgiving so he didn’t want her to be alone. I then received a call from the dealership that my Chevy Cruze was ready for pickup so we decided to leave.
As we got in our car and left the parking lot, my mother noticed a car stopping abruptly as it was making a right turn. We stopped to see what was up. To our shock, the man in the car hit some unknown animal, dragged it off the road, and proceeded to speed off. Worried, we drove by and saw that it was this black kitten leering at passing cars. We couldn’t tell how bad the inflicted injury was, and as we parked our car, we kept asking each other what we should do. My mom didn’t hesitate with her decision.
We both walked over and noticed the kitten lying on the ground. The kitten was trying to protect its right thigh, with a large gaping bloody wound. Horrified, we decided best to take the stray kitten to a nearby emergency clinic and see if we could save it. My mother picks the kitten up with a small towel, and it tries to fight back, eventually accepting its fate letting us help it. We carry it off the ground and drive off in a hurry. We had just met this young little life, yet as many meows of agony it could muster, we attempted to calm it down like we would with one of our own.
We reach the emergency clinic, filled with concern and hope, only to be brought down hard with honest realization. We were given two choices from the nurses: if we save it we would be financially responsible for the kittens’ recovery, or, animal control would be called and the animal would most likely be euthanized. The look my mother’s face, the hope, the faith that it would all work out, flushed all the way down to her feet, and only tears followed. We both knew our family was in no position to treat the kitten, but we didn’t realize how swift a life can be taken. The nurses accepted the kitten, sullenly apologized to us, and I hugged my mother as we both exited, defeated. Nobody ever likes to see a family member cry when they get hurt. You always want to make them feel better, and console them that everything will be okay. But how could you, when it is beyond your power to do so? My dad and I said not one word. The silence was deafening, as my mother attempted to recover on our way to the dealership.
I drove my mom home, and she carefully began to open up. “I just don’t understand, Andy. I just don’t understand how anybody could hit somebody, and then just drive off like it’s nothing. Why Andy? Why do people do that?” I took a moment to craft my words carefully. I shared her hurt of what went down, but I knew deep down, as much as mom puts up a strong front, she has the biggest heart of the family. “There’s a special place in hell for people like that. I wish I had an answer for you, Ma.” She wipes her tears, “the kitten didn’t even have a chance. Poor thing, the kitten didn’t do anything to deserve that. Do you think I should’ve done more?” I grabbed her hand, and said, “you did enough, Ma. For as short as that kitten’s life was, that kitten experienced love and compassion. If it wasn’t for you, the kitten would still be on that corner, probably the worst place it could be. Nobody would’ve batted an eye but you did. You did good, Ma.” She squeezed my hand, and the rest of the car ride was in silence.
Growing up, Thanksgiving was just another holiday that my giant polish family got together to eat. Like most families I guess, we’d go around the table and say what we were thankful for in a hurry because staring at the feast in front of us was torture. One person at the table was never in a hurry. My Grandmother: Charlotte Nieliwocki (I told you, we are very Polish). Her favorite thing in the whole world was her family. Nothing was ever small. Holidays, birthdays, graduations, picnics, etc. would always be at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We would fill that colonial style home in New Jersey wall to wall as we got older and had to filter to the backyard when it got too crowded. Thanksgiving was her favorite. Why exactly I’m not too sure, but the smile that was on her face every year as she looked around at each of our impatient faces is etched in my mind forever.
77 years old seems like an age accompanied by wheelchairs, cataracts, broken femurs and assisted living. Charlotte was an exception to this fate. My grandma was a ball of fire; nothing slowed her down. She was also quite the lady. She loved tea, to read novels and eat Oreos at midnight and kept quiet when it came to anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable speaking to your priest about. Catholics.
She was also a badass. She was an avid traveler filling her passport like a scrapbook. She not only traveled the country but the world. She had a special needs daughter in the 60’s and fought like hell for Patty to have the best education and quality of life and she nailed it. Through all the ups and downs in her life, she stayed warm.
My grandmother loved all of her grandchildren endlessly, but she had a special place in her heart for her girls. She had collected teacups from her world travels and when we reached an age when breaking things was no longer a usual occurrence, she would set up extravagant tea parties. We would dress to the nines stumbling over silky dresses from her closet and fluffy feather boas. She would have every inch of the supper table covered in miniature cucumber sandwiches, scones, delicate cups, and the fresh cookies from the Polish bakery down the road. The hours would fly by as we would giggle and sip tea with our pinkies up. I could tell, even at such a young age, these moments with us are what she cherished. I now have one of those teacups forever inked on my ribcage. It is my most precious memory I had with her.
The world stopped spinning for a while on January 11th, 2015. I got a call from my tough as nails mother choking on tears.
“Grandma gave blood at church this morning and passed out at the 7/11. She’s being rushed to the hospital, but they are saying she suffered a traumatic brain injury.”
Once I had the naive feeling that this woman would live on forever never aging never changing and now her whole world was ripped from her hands.
Grandma went on another one of her trips but is not returning this time.
She calls me her daughter.
Her husband, my witty grandfather, is reduced to a broken man losing 15 pounds he can’t afford to lose as he watches the love of his life forget him.
She puts baked beans on a slice of bread, raises it to her ear and says “Hello”.
Everything changes and then nothing does.
Change can suck. The fear of no change when something is so monumentally altered is torture. Life is not fair and why these things happen to people I will never understand.
My grandma passed away a year ago on November 24th 2018.
Grief is weird.
It hits you when you least expect it. I’ve been so angry. Angry at the church for letting someone her age give blood. Angry at the universe for letting this happen. Angry for seeing the call come in from her the week before and ignoring it because I was “too busy”. Just angry. I am ashamed of myself because I’ll be at the grocery store and I’ll see an elderly person I’ll think “Why? Why are you still here and she isn’t? That’s not fair.” But that isn’t what she would want at all.
I’m not sure what I believe there is after this life but if there is a heaven or a “good place”, I know for a fact she’s there and that brings me peace. I talk to her a lot, especially as we approach the anniversary and her favorite holiday. It often happens when I am taking a shower or am on the toilet, which is strange, and I always apologize to her first, but I never want to be too busy for her again. Or too busy for anyone for that matter. Tell the ones you love that you love them. It’s 2019 and the world we live in right now is a scary place. No moment is guaranteed. So talk. Hug. Love. Be kind.
When I get angry or anxious and I fear the future and the change that may or may not come, I think of the crimson color that would cover my grandma’s cheeks as she smiled at us, her family and the memories she created.
And I smile.
And I cherish.
I was an early comedian but a late bloomer. And when I reached puberty, it happened somewhere between my 13th birthday and the 2007 NBC Thursday night comedy lineup. TV changed my DNA and I’m telling you: I became my very own sitcom.
When I recount particularly sitcom-y moments in my life – the response I get is often “It could only happen to you!” (Whether that’s an insult or not – I remain unconvinced.) But I don’t blame people for that. They’re not wrong. I live in absurdism, the kind that feels like a mid-season episode. Where you can tell that the writers are getting haggard and zany, and weird shit makes it in the script. And, much like a sitcom, the bungles of my life are funny for an audience and end nicely, with a bow on top, and a moral to boot. Many of these stories took place in the rich comedy fountain that is school. Cue flashback.
Senioritis was in full swing when I was voted to give the speech at my high school graduation. I was funny enough, well-liked enough, and inoffensive enough to be an easy choice. Writing came easy to me, performance more so. But behind the jokes and my awkward teen body, I was sensitive and earnest, and I saw this as my moment to prove to my classmates that I was ~deep~, more than the goofy sidekick. So I wrote a good speech. Quotes from my favorite band, jokes about the school nun, sentiments of nostalgia and optimism for the future. It was good, yo. I was ready to present what I saw as the Thesis of Me.
On the way to the ceremony, I was unencumbered. Literally. My parents looked at me in the rearview mirror and asked if I had a copy of my speech. I scoffed.
“I don’t need it. Mr. G said he would have it up there for me.”
Ah, hubris – my occasional companion. How readily you wrong me.
I remained unencumbered throughout family photo ops, gabs with friends, and the about-to-boil-over energy that only high school seniors have on the cusp of adulthood. We robed, we processed, we sat as the thing began.
I locked eyes with Mr. G, the cherished English teacher who had mentored me through my speech. He gestured his head to the podium, and mouthed to me:
Do you have your speech?
Deer-in-headlights, I mouthed back at him:
No…you have it.
His eyes equally wide as he mouthed:
I don’t have it.
Gut sinking, I responded:
I don’t have it.
At that point, I swear, we actually shit each other’s pants.
He stood up and snuck off-stage. I stood up and scooted my way out of a narrow row full of high school boys I had never talked to. We met in a hallway as we unpacked the situation even more: no, I didn’t have a copy of it with me. No, I didn’t have it fully memorized. Yes, I’m an idiot!
The clock was ticking. I had no choice but to give Mr. G my Hotmail (shudder) username and password and tell him to scrub through my inbox to find the email that had my draft. I didn’t have time to worry about the dumb high school email shit he would see in there. He looked me deep in the eyes and promised me he would have it for me before I went up to the stage. I believed him.
Hubris, dark mistress, again ye wrongs me!
I sat down and told myself he would make it. My heartbeat marched to the beat of my own demise.
And then – bam. There it was. My intro. I stood up, passing by a good friend of mine, and in a desperate whisper, I told him “I don’t have my speech,” as if there was anything he could do but confusedly shrug. I eyed the doors, hoping Mr. G would burst through them. They stood, unmoved.
A temporary blackout must have occurred on my walk up, because all I remember is standing at the mic. The only part of my speech my brain could materialize was the first sentence, and so those are the words that poured out of my mouth: “My fellow students, teachers, mentors, family and friends – hi.”
It took me a long time to believe in honesty. It takes a leap of faith. Honesty is what has carried me through my mid-20s, emotional trauma, alcohol problems, fights, failings, and friendships. And at that podium, in a hideous yellow robe, literally speech-less…is one of the first times I took the leap.
“Full disclosure, I uh, forgot to bring my speech. So I’m just going to…wing it!”
They laughed. And from there, I had them.
I went on for 3 long minutes, weaving the bits of my speech I remembered with improvisation. I had a mic and a hungry audience and I had never felt more confident. And, in a magnificent climax, Mr. G burst through the gym doors and ran down the aisle toward me, waving the pages of my speech in hand, while the audience erupted. I could elaborate on the way I felt, but it feels a bit too much like an ego-stroke. Suffice it to say it felt pretty motherfucking good.
Post-ceremony was an equally satisfying dénouement: I floated through a slo-mo montage, through a crowd with jocks high-fiving me, teachers patting me on the back me, people hugging me. My dad, beaming, told me that he would support me going to LA to live my dream.
In the show of my life, this was my Very Special Episode.
The moral of this story isn’t my god, it’s actually really easy to follow your dreams and be fucking cool and have everyone like you. Because it’s not. I am anything but chill. I try very hard. I did end up moving to LA. It was very hard and eventually it was very good. 4 years in, I still feel like I’m falling a lot. But like me, you might find that sometimes, when you take a breath, trust yourself, and take the leap…you see that you aren’t falling. You’re flying.
Maybe that’s cheesy. But it’s a pretty way to end a graduation speech…or an episode of TV. Roll credits.
Have you ever played the game with your friends where someone picks out a snack for someone else based on their personality? Like Sour Patch Kids because first they were sour, but then they’re sweet. Or maybe a Tootsie Pop because it took some work to really get to know them deep down.
I think people are like candy.
When we were younger, my siblings and I we were taught to love all types of candy.I think as children we all were. It didn’t matter what kind, we craved it and we would enjoy it in any form. On a stick, in a tube, in the shape of a baby’s bottle or being flung out of a mutilated colorful animal hanging from the ceiling. We loved that shit! Then as we got older we began to get more selective and form opinions.
I loved Reece’s peanut butter cups and despised Mounds and Almond Joys. I still don’t care what anyone has to say, they are the same horrible candy just with a different name and equally as gross.
I love peeps (unpopular opinion, I know) and I hate gum. Hate it. With a passion. The taste. The texture. THE. SOUND. Like the taste of betrayal by someone I thought was my best friend. Or the texture of the knife being twisted in my back by someone I trusted enough to pour my deepest secrets into. Or the sound of my ex-boyfriend lying to me about countless other girls.
I don’t enjoy gum because I’ve had horrible experiences with it. No matter where I was or what I was doing, the gum would find me and try to destroy me.
It would get in my hair. How?
It would stick to my knee. Again, how?
Listening to someone chomping away on the slimy thing while trying to concentrate on the math portion of the SAT drove me absolutely mad to the point that I didn’t finish.
So gum is triggering to me. It makes me sad. Therefore, I stay away from gum.
One day in the future, could I learn to like gum? Yeah, maybe. I’m not ruling anything out and people can absolutely change. Maybe one day I will learn to love gum, but right now, I will keep a healthy distance.
Some candy is exactly what it is selling. When you get a Hershey bar you know you are getting a smooth, chocolatey, milky, rich bar of heaven right of the bat. The wrapper is straightforward and you can trust it. Some other candy wrappers are deceiving. You think that you are about to indulge in a delicious magical truffle filled with ribbons of caramel but actually it’s the strawberry cream one or better yet, the gross one with a cherry in it. It is terribly misleading. Dots: Cute packaging. It’s colorful. It seems fun. Reality: It tastes like nothing and gets stuck in your teeth for days. But we don’t realize any of this until we try it.
Kind of like people.
We go through life trying so many types of candy, meeting tons of different people who come from different walks of life. There’s no way we are going to like every piece of candy or click with every single person. Based on our tastes (and our allergies), there are some we are going to like, some we aren’t, some that cause us harm, some that we will grow out of and some we learn to love. Some are bitter and some are sweet and I think that’s okay.
If I don’t enjoy gum, I’m not going to have any in my candy bowl right now. Maybe I‘ll throw in a few later on to try to learn to like them, but for now, if they don’t make me smile or challenge me to be a better me, I’ll keep them out of the bowl. It’s all trial and error. My goal is to introduce myself to as many types of candy as I can, and although I’ll be cautious, I will try not to judge them by their wrappers. Because that’s all I can do. Try.
I asked a friend to bring me a snack that reminded her of me to a movie once. She brought me chocolate covered pretzels.
What the hell does that mean?
My favorite holiday has always been Halloween. When picking out or making pieces for a costume, getting dolled up in said costume, and transforming into someone entirely new, my confidence, self-love, and tenacity soar. The last few Halloweens have been a blast; I’ve killed with my renditions of Poison Ivy, Eleven, Zelda, and Margot Tenenbaum. Last year, a man I dated revealed the wonderful experiences Los Angeles’ spooky season has to offer. I am so grateful for him showing me Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, haunted mazes (being from the midwest, I never knew those were a thing!), and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl. These experiences sparked something wonderful inside me and gave me confidence regarding my favorite holiday during the upcoming years in the great city of Los Angeles to come.
When I was in sixth grade, Catwoman starring Halle Berry came out. After watching her inspiring performance in a not-so-amazing movie, I found pleasure in pretending to be the badass antihero. I accumulated and hid a black leather skirt, a vest, and a toy whip under my mattress all summer. I spent those summer days secretly dressed as Catwoman, prepping for Halloween in the fall. It was the first time I showed self expression by going out of my way to find clothing and items to craft into a costume; it was the first time I felt so confident in something I created. When my mom found the leather and whip, she became furious. I think that Halloween I ended up in my room crying because she told me sixth graders were too old to go out and trick or treat. My spirit shrank.
In high school, no one dressed up for the holiday. It wasn’t cool unless you were at a party. Even then, there were unspoken rules. When I was sixteen, I showed up to one of these parties wearing footie pajamas and a giant, decorated cardboard box. I was a “Jackie in the Box.” I felt clever, funny, unique, completely in my element, and totally myself. To this day, I’m still proud of that creation. When I arrived, my fellow peers gave me indescribable looks. That was the second time I felt insecure about attire I worked extremely hard on. Initially being incredibly confident and happy with my choice, it came as a shock when comments were made. I looked unlike others and truly felt like an outsider. That evening I realized the only costumes high school girls were supposed to wear were sexy _______ (insert animals, superheroes, witches, nurses, etc.).
During the last seven months, there were several times I felt my confidence drop like it did those previous Halloween nights. At times, we all try on costumes we are never meant to wear. When you put something on that doesn’t quite fit, it’s hard to feel confident wearing it, even if you love the idea of it or thought it looked great when you first tried it on.
The secret girlfriend did not, nor will it ever, fit me. The longer I wore this outfit, the more it came as a shock when friends, coworkers, family, and castmates verbalized their worries. Then I started looking and feeling unlike myself: I lost over twenty pounds, I obtained an ulcer, and I started to dissociate constantly. I lost myself so much that, at one point, I became suicidal. My confidence was gone; I was gone. I bent over backwards and completely busted my ass, causing me to unintentionally hurt myself, all to try to get the costume to fit a little better. No matter what I did, nothing worked. I didn’t know how to be confident in any aspect of my life while hiding something I was proud of and wanted to share with the world. I thought the secret girlfriend was the most well-fit, amazing costume of mine to date. Now that I’ve taken it off, it’s easy to see how wrong I was. And although the metaphorical outfit didn’t work for me, it left a very literal and permanent scar on the left side of my chest as I was pulling it off. Some [wardrobe] choices stay with you forever, even if you want to forget them.
It seems obvious both my ranging Halloween experiences and the last seven months consisted of a large array of emotions: happy, torn down, ecstatic, anxious, proud, unsure, passionate, sad, confident, frustrated, the life of the party, insignificant, excited, depressed, inspired, terrified, in love, obsessive, goofy, furious, euphoric, insecure, etc. During the midst of that recently difficult time, HBO’s Euphoria made a big impression in my life. One scene that stuck out to me had a high school Halloween party where a female side character shows up dressed as Bob Ross. Despite her absolutely nailing the costume, the show highlighted all the looks and comments her peers made. Even through their scrutiny, her confidence exuded. As a 26-year-old woman at one of the lowest points in her life, I realized I wanted my confidence back after watching Maude Apatow play a brave teenager draped in a Bob Ross getup. I wanted the confidence of a 16-year-old who just wants to live life uninfluenced by people’s expectations.
Now I want that more than ever. I’m struggling to love the Halloween season this year; although that costume I wore for months didn’t fit, I grew to love it. Despite all the lows, I was supposed to celebrate Halloween with someone I loved; we were going to go to haunted houses together. I wanted to share with this person all I was shown the year prior, disclose how much fun a Los Angeles Halloween could be. I no longer have that plan. Instead, I’ve decided to gain back the confidence that both my 16-year-old self and Maude Apatow’s character portrayed. I am terrifying myself with haunted houses and mazes, taking myself to the Hollywood Bowl, going to a pumpkin patch with my girlfriends, and dressing however damn well I please.
Continuing to positively move forward through the season, I started hand-picking my favorite emotions from the jumble I felt during my previous Halloweens and the last seven months, piecing together my favorite costume to date: the confident bitch. My loved ones and I all happily agree: it fits perfectly.
As for my Halloween attire? I’m going to be Bob Ross.
If you roll your eyes when someone orders a pumpkin spice latte, then fuck you, dude. Yeah, what are you gonna order, big guy? I assure you whatever you’re ordering isn’t superior to a Pumpkin Spice Latte. That beverage is delicious and it brings joy to everyone who drinks it! It’s packed with sugar and comes around once a year, so this is a special occasion for some people. I swear, if I hear another judgemental customer scoff after a pumpkin spice order, I’m gonna scream some select words into their ugly visage.
Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's bad!
For example, those Avengers movies make billions and billions of dollars and at worst they are OK. I’m thrilled to see kids loving superheroes! That was pretty niche about a decade ago, now you have kids knowing what a “Thanos” is. Spongebob Squarepants memes are all over my Twitter and Facebook timeline, but just because it’s oversaturated doesn’t mean the core material has less value.
Of course, you’ll always have someone taking their passion too far. Things like following actors to their home or harming yourself in the name of your passion are obviously not okay. Don’t be a celebrity stalker or “Cut Yourself for Zayn”.
Now, I’m not a Pumpkin Spice man myself. Usually I order a black coffee because I’m trying to lose weight, but I think this is indicative of a bigger problem in our society.
People are too judgmental. Yes, I know that statement in itself is judgmental, but hear me out.
Everyone seems to want to be on the moral high ground to the point where they are determined to ruin other people’s career by digging through their tweets. I’m not saying we shouldn’t hold people accountable, but we shouldn’t totally disregard emotional growth and maturity. Some people are so desperate to feel superior to others that they criticize their caffeine choices! I believe at this point, we should take a step back and really think about what actions are worth judging. I understand there’s a lotta tension, but ask yourself, “Is this worth my energy?”
The world definitely isn’t perfect, but there’s definitely more healthy ways to vent your frustrations than shouting at people on social media.
And this is from a guy who loves being right. My job is mostly quality control which is telling people this product is too wrong and not enough right.
But you have to choose your battles. Don’t argue with that guy with a different political view than you online. You aren’t gonna change his or her mind. TRUST ME!!! You aren’t gonna convince people that Maroon 5 aren’t sellout garbage (I recommend a healthy dose of Ben Folds instead). And you definitely aren’t gonna shame someone into picking out a different coffee product.
Have a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Have a shot of espresso.
Get a Venti.
I’m gonna enjoy a cup of black coffee.
Get whatever you want.
"Darker than a moonless night. Hotter and more bitter than hell itself, that is coffee." -Godot from Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, 2004