Category Archives: Resolutions

Letter to my 2013 self

In the past, I’ve devoted my end of the year entry to the rather cliche ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. However, as most people can attest, few stick to those resolutions beyond January 2nd. (Remember that time I promised to stop eating my feelings in honey roasted cashews? Well that didn’t happen.) And so, this year I’ve decided to send a letter to my future self, reflecting on both the wise decisions and poor choices I’ve made this year. Instead of telling myself what to do in the future, I’m reminding myself of what I’ve done in the past.

Dear Future Self,

The last time I completed a letter-to-your-future-self exercise, I was a senior in high school, convinced that within 7 years of graduation I’d be a constitutional lawyer in Washington D.C. According to those calculations, I should currently be in my second year of law school, preferably at Yale, though I would have settled for Georgetown.

Well, fast forward 6 years, and I am in a profession entirely apart from the law, and in city unlike DC or New Haven. The beauty in the situation is that I learned it was acceptable, if not welcome, to deviate from the beaten path. I could have childhood dreams, but I could also retire those dreams if they no longer brought me the satisfaction I expected they would.

And so rather than predict where you will be a year from today, I’m going to tell you where you’ve already been. Your dreams will undoubtedly change as quickly as your favorite Chobani flavor so let’s not agonize over the future. Let’s embrace the present and reflect on the past.

In the last year you’ve switched from the legal profession to that of broadcast television. You’ve enjoyed life as both a single and romantically involved biddie. You’ve killed three cockroaches and lived to tell the tale. (Though your fear of them has hardly subsided, as evidence by your occasional leaving of the bathroom light on.)

You’ve spent a week in London and a week in San Francisco, two cities with eerily similar weather patterns despite their geographical disparity. And you’ve planned two vacations for the coming year. Basically, you’ve embraced your perpetual bout of wanderlust and began planning your life accordingly.

You’ve strengthened existing friendships and created new ones, often invoking your trademark “coffee date” as a means to ignite them. You’ve had several of those existing friendships put to the test, and by and large you’ve succeeded in maintaining them.

You’ve survived a Category 1 hurricane and determined to never buy riverfront property, even though your astrological sign longs to live near the ocean. Your super, with whom you’ve surprisingly developed a solid working relationship, has seconded your residency decision. He’s also told you, “Don’t lose faith, sweetheart, there’s someone out there for you. I just know it.” And you, for the first time since you hit puberty, actually believe he may not be entirely inaccurate.

And perhaps the reason you believe your super is because you were pursued for the first time in your life. Yes, he was a sanitation engineer with a weird salsa obsession, but it was a step in the right direction. He actively sought your attention through flowers, chocolates, and mix tapes (how retro). You were courted, and though it seems incredibly hard to believe, someday a guy with a college degree might engage in a similar behavior.

But most significantly, you started therapy. You accepted that maybe possibly you couldn’t handle everything on your own, and you began to share your cognitive and emotional experiences with a well paid healthcare professional. You, despite becoming a walking talking Woody Allen stereotype, learned to ask for help; to embrace little Ms. Independent, but to acknowledge little Ms. Dependent as well.

Which is to say, though I’m often your biggest critic, I’m actually proud of the steps you’ve taken this year. It’s not usually rainbows and butterflies, but you’ve embraced black and made it your own.

Besos,

Your Former Self

 

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The Power Ranger wedding that never was.

I was six. He was six and one-quarter. I aspired to be a fire truck. He dreamed of becoming a firefighter. And within minutes of establishing our shared professional vision for the future (in math enrichment class 301) I knew one thing with certainty, I had met my future husband. I immediately began planning our wedding: he would dress as the Red Power Ranger, and I, naturally, would dress as the Pink one. We’d serve fruit roll up and dunk-a-roos at our smorgasbord. And we’d walk down the aisle to the sweet tunes of the Miami Boys Choir.

But then a funny thing happened the summer after I completed my first year of college: he got married, and not to me.  He wed a fellow nineteen year old girl who was ready to commit to a life of maternity. And suddenly the age old adage, “Man plans and G-d laughs” took on new meaning. Though the last time I had seriously contemplated our lives together had been amidst an argument re: the value of tamagotchi pets (I was for, he was against), news of the matrimony nearly brought me to tears.

A part of my childhood had been stripped of me; the fantasy had become an illusion.  And suddenly I was forced to reconsider my future. But, to be honest, not since NSYNC sang, “Bye, Bye, Bye” had I seriously contemplated any other male suitor. Yes, there was the kid I named Curls who I quasi-stalked the summer before high school. And there was the kid I named Fruit Salad who I awkwardly gawked at from across the school bus aisle. But Curls was now in rehab, and Fruit Salad had recently joined the realm of matrimony. I, to put it bluntly, was alone—physically and mentally.

I spent the next three years embracing this loneliness. I was waving my single girl swag, and I was surrounded by hundreds of women engaging in the very same self-empowering activities. And truth be told, I hardly noticed my circumstances. That is to say I took no responsibility for my perpetual bout of spinsterdom. I expected Mr. Ivy League Educated-with-a-heart-of-gold and-a-love-of-caffeine to simply stumble onto my dorm step one magical night.

Needless to say that fantasy similarly became an illusion, and I embarked on the post-collegiate phase of my life. And like a character in a Samuel Beckett play, I stood there waiting and waiting and waiting. In between my bouts of waiting, I would blog about the process (and by blog, I mean kvetch). And then a year passed and I was no closer to replacing the six year old fantasy with a more tangible reality. I subsequently began to engage in a series of misfortunate dates. Some might even call them no-good, very-bad dates. Dates that made me wonder why I even bothered fantasizing.

But even in those moments of complete confusion, distress, and all around boredom, I knew I had to persevere. I deserved to be happy, and while I could independently achieve a level of success and external serenity, I knew my “pintele id“ would not be satisfied until I had managed to satisfy a need I had practically ignored for the last two decades—the need to love and to be loved. A need that each New York Times “Modern Love” article reaffirms the importance of. A need— that despite a continual bout of disappointment and frustration— drives me to do the impossible: continue the search to find someone who maybe someday might possibly compliment me.

On having a “seriously?” moment

“Wait, are you telling me we are the only two single biddies in this here office?” Astonished, disturbed, and determined to get to the root of the matter, I pressed my coworker D for an answer.  Her response: a rather remorseful nod.

On a floor of 30+ people– primarily under the age of 30– D and I were the only two unable to find gentleman callers. And given our above-average intelligence, well-manicured nails, and basic appreciation of the English language, we were genuinely perplexed by this reality.

“Seriously? When did the 20somethings become such a love fest? Does no one subscribe to the single girls code? Also, since when are 25 year old boys ready to commit to long term relationships?”

D smiled and said, “Girl, I feel you. The whole thing doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, you know what, maybe we have higher standards? We know what we want, and we aren’t ready to settle for the first six pack we encounter.”

“But do we really have high standards? I mean, yes, I’d like him to have some direction in life; perhaps semi-permanent employment; and an address that isn’t his mother’s basement. Beyond that, though, I am pretty open to all possibilities.”

D stared skeptically and then turned my attention to her computer screen, where we proceeded to go through a google-image inspired montage of men. At each screen shot, she would say, “So, would you date him?” And a majority of the time I would say, “Hell no.” We then called over a fellow co-worker, currently in a long term relationship with her boyfriend, and showed her the same set of visuals. Her response, “Any of them have potential.”

D repeated this experiment with several other non-single office mates, and much to my chagrin, everyone seemed to think the men on screen had something to offer. Everyone but D and me, that is. Her point proven, she turned to me for a comment. But all I could think is, Seriously? Everyone in relationships can’t possibly be in relationships because they happen to have lower standards?

My therapist, of course, had a field day with this romantic experiment. “Why do you think you have such high standards,” she inquired. I knew– on a cognitive level– the answer: it’s because I have incredibly high standards for myself. I seek perfection because I am a perfectionist.

But on that emotional level, which I am so hesitant to explore, I could only speculate that a perfect man, as Lena Dunham so eloquently phrased it, would be less likely to make “monkey meat” out of my heart. And if I were going to give up the big V– my vulnerability– then Mr. Perfect needed to treasure and romance it. And, well, Mr. Imperfect would most definitely do the opposite, making it that much harder for me to crawl out from under my shell a second time around.

But as my therapist concluded our session, she challenged me to be a little less cautious with the big V– to use this next decade to explore it– and to learn that even when relationships fail, I will still come out in one piece.

Challenged accepted (I think).

 

When life gives you half a lemon, make a Bahama Mama.

No, I am not a raging alcoholic. In fact, I have yet to master the difference between hard and soft liquor (is there such a thing as “soft liquor?”). But I am resourceful– and despite my rather pathetic attempts at recycling– attempt to maximize the use of every item in my itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny apartment.

Now imagine my surprise when I discovered half a lemon in my fruit drawer. Knowing its shelf life was limited, I determined to do what any girl home alone on January 1st would do, make myself a drink. And after tracking down some orange juice and coconut rum, I did just that– employing the remaining lemon in the creation of the Bahama Mama.

Two ounces later, and I remembered why my drink of choice is Diet Coke. I felt tipsy, queasy, and all kinds of no-good, very-bad feelings. I poured the remnants down the drain and curled up with an equally no-good, very-bad movie: Morning Glory, in which Rachel McAdams plays an aspiring news producer who winds up living happily ever with her equally attractive male co-producer. It was a standard Grade C movie, and it was just what the doctor called for.

While I was not drunk– after all I had taken a mere two sips– I remembered why my standard indulgence is not cheap alcohol. It’s a downer, and frankly, at the start of a new year, the last thing I need is a depressant. I need to be able to reflect on the 2011 highlights: completing a senior thesis, starting a new job, interviewing a prolific southern rapper, nannying for an equally prolific midwestern rapper, and increasing my caffeine tolerance. And if I am not completely lucid, I am unable to take in the magnitude of my experiences.

So here’s to a year of sobriety, in which I end each post with a literary quote– this time from Jack Kerouac: “Be in love with your life. Every detail of it.” And Moses do you notice the details when you’re pumped up on lattes and not liquor.

One cashew less at a time.

I have a (not) so secret thing for Christmas trees.

It’s that glorious time of year when I compile a list of resolutions to ring in the new year. While I must admit I have failed to meet three of my previous year’s resolutions, I refuse to be discouraged. In fact, I plan to carry them into 2012, all the while compiling an entirely new list.

So without further adieu I present Living on a Latte’s Entirely Caffeine-Free New Year’s Resolutions List of 2012:

1) Eat less cashews. Between you, me, and all the American children with nut allergies, I will admit I have an unhealthy addiction. As in consume a 32 oz jar of cashews in two days addiction. And this addiction has translated into some unnecessary flubber in the abdomen, hips, and tuchis area. This year I resolve to make better cashew-related decisions– perhaps even buy the 100 calorie packs from Trader Joe’s.

2) Not be afraid to ask for what I want. In the coming year I am planning to make a drastic career change, and this will require me asking some very powerful people in some very important places for some very competitive positions. In order to do so, though, I must be bold, determined, and fearless. Or as my sixth grade English teacher phrases it, “Like the lotto, you have to be in to win it.”

3) Diversify my blogosphere reading. If one were to do a quick scan of my blogroll, one would notice something very quickly: I religiously read fashion, food, and politics blogs. But it’s time for me to embrace my inner techie and read Wired’s daily blog or subscribe to Andrew Sullivan’s religion-esque blog. It’s time I engaged the Renaissance woman, dormant for the last 22 years, and challenged myself to learn about subjects beyond my comfort zone.

4) Send more handwritten letters. Heaven knows how much I adore snail mail. And if I expect to receive a steady flow, I must reciprocate. Therefore, I have resolved to spend my Chanukah money on some classy stationary from the best of Etsy and send all my biddies some handwritten love notes. (If you’d like to be included in my letter love fest, let me know!)

5) Master the art of heeled boots. As those who have followed my blog since its inception know,  last year I resolved to learn the art of walking in heels. And while I am far from Lady Gaga in Alexander Wang footwear, I have made some minor improvements. But given the season and my love of everything boot related, I believe a more specific goal may be more effective so heeled boot walking it is.

What are your resolutions, loyal readers? I’d like to expand my list and need some inspiration.

No, I don’t want your leftover birthday cake.

Whenever I begin to engage in my monthly self-pity party, my mother reminds me that there are people who are facing bigger challenges than her over-caffeinated, underpaid daughter.

Take, for example, African women, who today discovered the contraceptives they’ve been using to reduce unintended births, actually double their risk of contracting HIV. And then there are the Greeks, whose persistent near collision with economic default, has created an insurmountable homelessness problem.

But, of course, being the self-deprecating gal I am prone to be, I can dismiss their troubles as trivial to my obstacle of the day: leftover birthday cake at work. You see, I was blessed cursed with child-bearing hips. And with every bite of carbohydrates, I just become more and more equipped to bare a 20-lb baby.

Part of it is genetic. My mother, in fact, loves to tell unsuspecting acquaintances that I was a premature baby, and that despite this, I was close to 9-lbs. Just imagine how large I would have been had she carried to full term.

But part of it is that I am a foodie. I love to taste, to devour, to experience the various culinary delights that living in a multicultural home in a multicultural city has to offer. And both my waistline and my hips are a testament to my culinary privilege.

However, as it is the start of the Jewish New Year, I have determined to set the most stereotypical New Year’s Resolution ever– lose weight. And in doing so, I am foregoing the all too frequent indulgence in leftovers at work. Yesterday it was christening cupcakes. Today it was a baby’s birthday cake. And tomorrow it will be bar-mitzvah babka. Notice how no one brings in leftover carrot sticks to crunch on.

This resolution will certainly be a test of my will power, but thanks to the backing of my partner in crime, the Gentile Giant, I believe I can and will succeed. I am a Wellesley woman; hear me roar!

 

Never ever date an accountant. Never.

I know I shouldn’t generalize an entire profession, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that accountants are far from social butterflies. They prefer numbers to words and computers to people. In other words, they represent everything I am not.

Except for one commonality– many of them, particularly in New York, are Jewish. And a socially inept Jewish accountant is potentially in search of a socially adept aspiring Jewish lawyer/journalist. Or so my godmother informed me at Rosh Hashana lunch.

Now most of the time, when matchmaker wannabes approach me with gentlemen they deem to be husband material, I dismiss them and their recommendations. However, when my godmother, a born and bred Israeli, mentioned a financially stable accountant in need of a new wife, I could not for the life of me ignore her.

You see, she is one of the toughest women I know. She is the one who taught me how to never take no for an answer, always bargain in the shoe store, and wear 4-inch heels without keeling over in pain. Simply put, girlfriend is a ball-busting balaboosta with three capital Bs.

Therefore when she suggested I date a successful recently divorced accountant, I couldn’t engage in  my usual, “Um, I’m single and I like it” schpiel. Instead, I had to smile and nod and agree to view his resume and head shot.

But as I smiled and nodded, I could not help but wonder how at 22 I had arrived at dating divorcee status. Were there no Orthodox men below the age of 30 who had not already wed? Were the only ones the “damaged dudes,” who had experienced the ever prevalent in secular society, but ever so rare in Orthodoxy divorce?

And furthermore, did Orthodox guys do anything remotely interesting with their careers? Or, did they all settle for the safe money-making jobs in finance and such?

When I recounted this exchange to my roommate, a finance biddie herself, she could not help but grimace. Despite her oh-so-serious boyfriend, she couldn’t fathom how I had arrived at 27 year old divorcee status. “Seriously, the only ones left are divorced,” she asked quizzically.

And the only remark I could make is, “Moses, I hope not.” I hope there are some eligible Jewish bachelors with limited baggage and interesting career choices who will someday in a non-inebriated state decide to go for the gold and ask me out. But, frankly, I’m not so sure.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 5772 is to be more realistic; to think with my head rather than my heart. Instead of pinning after the impossible, I need to sort myself out and go for the probable. Take risks, but within reason. And never ever date an accountant… unless of course he happens to be:

Now that’s a risk worth taking.