Dress For Success

Sometimes my life is a sitcom.

Take Friday for instance.

Fridays are generally good days at the office because my boss doesn’t work on Fridays so I have the place to myself and, consequently, I can wear whatever I want. Seriously. Whatever I want. As such, I have, on occasion, taken ‘casual Fridays’ to the extreme.

This particular Friday was the perfect storm of laundry day, summer seasonal clothes change over (that brief period between summer and fall when I forget about all the clothes I own and I don’t trust that it will be warm enough to go without a sweater anymore), and a general sense of not-giving-a-shit-ness.

So this is what I wore to the office, where I work as an executive/personal assistant for an attorney…

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Kindly note the bleach stain, the wood stain stain, and the holes in both my jeans and shirt. Here’s a close-up for you…

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On account of one too many tangos with the snooze button, I was also gloriously, disgustingly unwashed. I know. I can hardly contain my own classiness.

I rolled in to work right on time and found a package on my desk containing a lovely, though broken, pearl bracelet belonging to my boss’ daughter, with instructions to take it over to Tiffany’s (which is right around the corner from my office) to have it repaired.

I don’t know about you, but up to this point, I’ve never had occasion to shop at Tiffany’s. Let me tell you – it’s an experience.

First, there’s a strapping young gentleman in a suit and Tiffany blue tie stationed outside the front doors welcoming you to the store.

Then there’s another strapping gentleman waiting just inside the door to welcome you again, I guess.

Then there’s a third blue tie clad dude (don’t worry, he was also wearing pants) standing in the middle of the store. I’m not sure what his official job title is. He was just posted up in the middle of the store looking both charming and intimidating.

I’m pretty sure all of these men are actually well-dressed security guards, and I have no doubt that underneath the tailored suits and powder blue ties, they’re all tatted up, battle scarred ex-Navy Seals and Army Rangers. At least that’s how I like to think of them.

Then there are the hordes of other employees. Conservatively dressed salespersons wearing sheath dresses and pants suits were positioned behind sparkling glass display cases, while manager types wandered from counter to counter, some carrying clipboards.

It felt a bit like being at a casino, the way the managers were prowling around the salespeople like a pit boss hovering over the dealers at craps table. Except at Tiffany’s there was no smoking, or prostitutes and they were peddling jewelry rather than broken dreams.

But I digress.

At the back of the store, I was greeted yet again by a petite woman in a navy blue suit stationed in front of the elevators. I asked her what floor I needed to go to for repairs. She informed me it was the sixth.

Once inside the elevator, I was met with yet another helpful employee; whose sole job was to push the elevator buttons for the wealthy patrons. Fortunately, it was early in the day and there weren’t any wealthy customers in sight. It was just me and a bunch of Asian tourists who didn’t speak enough English to understand the elevator operator when she asked them what floor they wanted, so she helpfully stopped at every floor until they found one they liked.

They got off at the third floor – sterling silver jewelry.

Alone in the elevator with the button-pusher, I felt distinctly out of place. The plush carpeting, soft music and sparkling, well, everything, really set off the shabbiness of my attire. Mostly I was hoping she didn’t notice the way my flip-flops seemed to echo as I exited the elevator and stepped in to the near silence of the practically deserted sixth floor.

Thwack-thwack.

Thwack-thwack. 

Thwack-thwack.

I thwacked my way over to a large wooden desk where I had to check in with the… I guess I’ll call her the concierge. She asked for my name and I was momentarily stymied. I didn’t know if I should give her my name, my boss’s name, or her daughter’s name. For reasons unknown, I was completely (and irrationally) convinced that they were going to think I had stolen the bracelet.

In the end I gave her my name in case they asked for identification later.

The concierge instructed me to have a seat in the waiting area, but not before a butler – a straight-up butler in a tuxedo – offered me a drink. I was tempted to ask for champagne, but as it was ten o’clock in the morning, I was dressed like a homeless person, and sweating profusely by this point, I thought better of it. Instead, I gestured vaguely to the plastic water bottle sticking out of my purse and said that I was good.

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[Why can’t the waiting area at the DMV be this nice?]

As I was the only person in the room, I didn’t have to wait long.

Another woman wearing a Tiffany blue neckerchief called me over to one of the many alcoves built into the walls. It was kind of like a bank teller window, except for classy. Each alcove was made of highly polished wood and peppered with a plethora of richly upholstered armchairs.

I sat down, grateful that from her vantage point, none of the holes or stains on my clothing was visible. I took out the bracelet and handful of loose pearls that had already fallen off the broken string and emptied them into a shallow velvet covered tray.

Blue neckerchief proceeded to ask a lot of questions for which I was thoroughly unprepared to answer:

BN: When did you purchase it?

Me: It was a gift.

BN: How long have you owned it?

Me: A couple of years I think? I don’t really remember.

BN: How often do you wear it?

ME: Um…not very. I work in an office and it gets in the way when I type. I wouldn’t want it to get scratched.

She proclaimed that the pearls were in excellent condition, and continued with her lengthy examination of the bracelet. She looked at each individual pearl through the jewelry equivalent of a microscope, checked the little gold Tiffany tag for authenticity, and counted each pearl. Twice.

Then she asked for my hand and wrapped the remains of the bracelet around my wrist, asking if I liked the fit. I said that I was sure it would be fine. Thankfully, my boss’s daughter and I have a similar build and I was hopeful that the repaired bracelet would still fit her.

I signed several forms, agreeing to pay their exorbitant (per pearl) price to restring the bracelet and made my way through the waiting area. Both the concierge and the butler wished me a pleasant day as I passed. I smiled and did the same.

To their credit, all of the employees treated me with the utmost politeness. Any perceived awkwardness was one hundred percent in my head.

I was relieved to be back on the elevator though. This time there was an older gentleman manning the buttons. The elevator was packed full of tourists who were also dressed casually. They weren’t on my level of grunginess, but they made me feel marginally better.

The elevator stopped on the second floor for an attractive young couple that had obviously been perusing the engagement rings. Once on the elevator, they huddled close together, each putting a hand in the other’s back pocket. I was at once revolted and seething with jealousy.

My job done, I decided to wander around a bit and check out some of the displays. I took a few covert pics with my phone. There were tourists everywhere taking all kinds of pictures, but I tried to keep it discreet, partly out of a sense of pride for being a New Yorker who wanted to look unimpressed by everything, and partly because I kind of wanted them to think I was casing the joint, if only to have the opportunity to get tackled by one of the hot security greeters.

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Even I couldn’t pretend to unimpressed by this though…

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Admittedly, it’s not the greatest photo, but I wasn’t about to stand there all day trying to get a good shot, lest I be mistaken for a tourist. Because honestly, I’d rather be mistaken for a homeless person.

I guess that saying about dressing for the job you want rather than the job you have is true, because I absolutely don’t want to be an assistant anymore. Apparently, I want to be a homeless gypsy. Which is convenient, because that’s exactly what I’m going to be at the end of the month.

More on that later.

Stay weird, everyone!

S

Call me Yoga Bear

Yoga

Remember around this time last summer when I published that handy guide on how to make it look like you’re exercising without actually having to do anything?  Apparently I didn’t either, because I went to my first ever yoga class this week.  (Not counting those trial classes of Bikram yoga I took three years ago. That was less about exercising and more about not dying from a heart attack, heat stroke, or the stifling stench of hipster B.O.)

Besides, this yoga class was free!

As it happens, I’m away for an opera gig for the next three weeks. One of the perks of this particular contract (apart from getting to stay in a fabulous estate on Martha’s Vineyard) is a free gym membership. So despite my hated of all things exercise, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Because honestly, the only thing I hate more than exercise is turning down free stuff.

I chose yoga class because I already own a mat with matching bag (both of which have been languishing in the trunk of my car for the last eight months) and I thought it was high time I got some use out of them.  Also, because my only other option was to hop on an elliptical machine for an hour, which usually ends with me becoming so engrossed in watching my fellow gym-goers or a Maury Povich marathon on TV, that twenty minutes will go by before I realize my legs have stopped moving.

So I went to yoga. It had a fancier name, but I don’t remember what it was called. I only know of two types of yoga anyway: the unbearably hot, imminent death-inducing kind, and regular. This was regular yoga.

As expected, I fell down a lot.

The instructor’s name was Sian.  Not Sean or Shawn, but SheAhn.  She was lovely, and British and impossibly flexible with wild hair and lots of tattoos – the epitome of cool.

The way I see it, if your parents name you Sian, there are only two possible career paths open to you: yoga instructor or massage therapist…possibly a nutritionist or an herbalist or a life coach, but you’re for sure going to be working in the health and wellness sector.

Sian had us put our mats in a circle so we could make eye contact with one another, and so no one (namely me) could hide in the back.

I placed my mat next to an elderly woman we’ll call Agnes.  I’d put Agnes at about eighty-three years old, roughly 5’7 and 160-170lbs. Compared to all the other toned, tanned, middle-aged women (and one dude) in the class, I felt my chances of looking like an idiot would be somewhat diminished if I sat next to someone who was both elderly and probably at least a little bit infirmed.

The class started and Agnes gave me an encouraging smile. I smiled back and before I knew it, I was ass-up in child’s pose, breathing loudly through my nose as per Sian’s instructions. I tried to quiet my mind and focus on my breath, but I couldn’t seem to shut off my inner monologue.

What the hell am I doing here? Everyone else looks like they’re a professional yogi and I’m wearing sweat pants and an old t-shirt. If I’m going to keep doing this, I should go to Lulu Lemon and buy some proper yoga clothes. I also should have gone to the bathroom on my way to class. I wonder if that hot guy will still be in the weight room when class is over? I’m really glad I remembered to put on make-up before I left the house. Man, I could go for a grilled ham and cheese sandwich right now.  Oh crap, everyone else is standing up. Get up, you mouth-breathing mongoloid!

My inner monologue can be kind of a bitch sometimes.

On top of that, I kept getting distracted by the smears of make-up and sunscreen staining my pristine new mat. I tried to wipe them away as discreetly as possible, but I didn’t have a towel or anything, so the only cloth at my disposal was my black sweatpants, which was infinitely worse.

Note to self: Wearing zinc-based sunscreen and a full face of makeup to the gym was not your best idea ever.

As the class progressed it became increasingly clear I was out of my depth. I had to take a knee, or drop into child’s pose – the yogic equivalent thereof, several times. Sian was very understanding and encouraged everyone to work at their own pace, though for most people it meant contorting their bodies into even more frightening positions in order to ‘increase the stretch.’

When we got to side planks my arm was shaking so violently I fell down. Twice. As I lay panting on my still trembling forearm, I noticed Agnes’ arm was solid as a rock. A rock with a lot of underarm flab, perhaps, but a rock nonetheless. I couldn’t help but be impressed and I silently cheered her on as I hoisted myself back up and moved into downward dog pose.

Then Sian instructed us to move into three-legged dog, which is basically regular downward dog with one leg in the air, knee bent like you’re about to take a leak on a giant invisible fire hydrant. Feel the stretch as the hip joint opens. But all I felt was hot, tired, and a little bit ridiculous. There we were, an entire room of adult women (and one dude) bent over with their legs in the air. I wondered idly if three-legged dog was a real yoga pose at all and not just some inside joke known only to yoga instructors that they trot out whenever class starts to get dull.

My musings were put to an abrupt end when Sian moved from three-legged dog to standing split, which looks exactly like it sounds – one leg straight on the ground, while the other is stuck straight up in the air…or hanging limping at an eighty-degree angle if you’re me.

Agnes couldn’t do it either.

We moved on to some standing poses after that and my confidence grew. It’s a lot harder to fall down with both feet on the ground.

I was bent over in a wide stance, my finger tips barely touching my mat and my head hanging between my legs, giving me a clear (though upside down) view of Agnes, who was in the same position except her head and forearms were resting gently on the floor.  I watched in horror as she braced her arms beside her head and slowly lifted her legs into the air until she was standing on her head. THEN rather than falling to her knees to come out of it like a normal person, she flipped her legs in the other direction, dropping into a back bend.

Bitch did a headstand AND a back bend! At eighty-three! I can’t even touch my toes! While I was hunched over on my mat in a sloppy semblance of child’s pose, head turned to the side so as not to drown in a pool of my own sunscreen-tinted sweat, there was Agnes, upside down, smirking at me, like the back-stabbing bitch that she is.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so betrayed.

I left class in a bit of a snit that day. But I was determined to go back and show that Agnes a thing or two.  So the next morning I dragged myself out of bed and, despite the fact that all of my muscles were screaming in pain, I made my way to class.

This was a different type of yoga. I think it was called Kripalu, which, roughly translated, means you will walk with a limp tomorrow.

The instructor for this class was a woman named Jennifer. Her teaching style was very different from Sian’s. Where Sian was badass, Jennifer was gentle. In Sian’s class the music ranged from Tuvan throat singing to “Purple Rain” while Jennifer seemed to prefer mostly repetitive, new age, chant-like tunes.

Jennifer’s class, while by no means easy, was definitely more my speed. Which is to say, slow. I fell down a lot less in her class. Make no mistake; I still fell down during side planks, just not quite as often.

Agnes wasn’t in this class so I couldn’t flaunt my vast improvements, which was a shame.

Even without Agnes the showoff, there were still plenty of opportunities for me to feel ridiculous in class. For instance, Jennifer had us do this weird breathing exercise where you take a deep breath and on the exhalation you stick your tongue out and open your eyes really wide. She called it a lion’s breath.

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I call it a Gene Simmons.

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Then she gave us five minutes of free play at the end of class, or as she explained it, time to explore the ways in which your body wants to move. Then we took a ten-minute shavasana. (Which, for all you non-yoga folks, basically means naptime.) I felt like I was in kindergarten again. It was pretty awesome.

I still think I prefer Sian’s class though. She’s much more straightforward. Apart from letting us know which pose came next and how to move your body to get into said pose, Sian didn’t talk much. Sometimes she would get us into a pose and leave the room for a few minutes, whereas Jennifer gave almost nonstop encouragement and instruction.  Things like…

Let’s be in conversation with our hamstrings.  

Explore and honor each life-giving breath.

Allow your mind to focus on the space between the thoughts.

She also had an annoying habit of describing the various poses without using any articles or pronouns.

Head floats above shoulders. Shoulders float above hips. Hands press to earth.

How am I supposed to talk to my hamstrings, honor my breath and focus on the space between my thoughts when I can’t stop mentally correcting her grammar?

This is why I don’t think I’ll ever be good at yoga. I really do want to become stronger and more flexible, but I fear the spiritual aspect may be beyond my reach. For me, turning off the mind and observing without judgment is even harder than side planks.

I’ll try again tomorrow though. I’m far too stubborn to let an improbably flexible octogenarian or an undisciplined mind get the better of me. Well, that, and it’s free.

Terrified of becoming a minimalist? Me too. Here’s where to start.

empty_roomThis post is not for those of you who are prepared to rid yourself of all your worldly possessions and hop a plane to Belize. It’s not even for those of you with the fortitude to have a packing party…and actually commit to getting rid of your excess stuff when the party’s over. This post is for those of you who are intrigued by the idea of minimalist living, but have no earthly idea where to begin.

If that’s you, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want the benefits of a simpler life, but get stressed out just by thinking about the amount of time/energy it will take to de-clutter your closet – never mind your whole life?

Does the thought of parting with your precious treasures give you heart palpitations?

Do you feel that you somehow ‘owe it’ to your past self to hang on to all the crap you  bought with oh-so much of your hard-earned money?

Me too.

Here’s how I got over it.

1. Don’t actually get rid of anything – digitize it!
I started by scanning, then promptly shredding all of my paper files. (I only saved hard copies of my most recent tax returns [which I probably don’t need] and originals of birth/death certificates.) Then I moved on to CDs. I skipped DVDs because a) I don’t have that many DVDs and b) I also don’t have a DVD burner, but they (along with old photographs) are next on my list.

Then I scoured my shelves for books that I still liked and might want to read again, but could easily/inexpensively be acquired via digital download. This is obviously not a tactic to use on your signed, hardbound first editions, but it works great for those dog-eared, coffee-stained paperbacks you picked up at the airport. (I’m a huge sci-fi/fantasy nerd, so I did this mostly with my paperback copies of epic fantasy series. Digitizing the Game of Thrones series alone cleared almost an entire shelf on my bookcase.)

Digitizing is a great place to start because you don’t have to feel like you’re losing anything. You’re simply enjoying it in a different form. Like ice to water or water to steam, it’s the same stuff, it’s just takes up less space in your garage.

Don’t forget to donate when you’re done!

Bonus: No more paper cuts from thumbing through a towering stack of old tax returns whilst preparing for your next IRS audit!

2. Tackle your most un-sentimental items first.
If, like me, there’s a soft, sentimental soul buried beneath your hard, candy-coated exterior (does anyone else suddenly have a craving for M&Ms?), then parting with sentimental items can be especially difficult.

That’s why minimalist noobs shouldn’t even attempt it. You heard me. Back away from your grandmother’s porcelain doll collection, Noobsicle! Move on to something more manageable. You can always go back once you’ve built up some momentum and you’ve experienced the glorious joy and freedom that comes from letting go.

After my paper purge, I moved on to the Tupperware cabinet in my kitchen. With stacks of ill-assorted plastic containers and mismatched lids, half-melted from one too many nukes in the microwave (which I know you’re not supposed to do because it [like everything else] causes cancer, but what can I say? sometimes laziness wins), my plastic storage container cabinet was a source of daily consternation.

I culled that cabinet mercilessly! And you can too. Take no prisoners! Feel the wonderful, heady sensation of taking revenge on the evil gnomes that live under your sink and creep into your cabinets at night to steal all your lids. Those little fuckers won’t know what to do with themselves when there are only a handful of containers left, with lids snapped on so tightly that their tiny little gnomish fingers will be incapable of thwarting your newly organized, mad minimizing skillz.

Bonus: Seriously? Thwarting evil gnomes isn’t bonus enough for you? Weirdo.

3. Take advantage of opportunities when they arise.
Got a friend moving across state lines? I consider that the perfect opportunity to offload all that incriminating evidence you’ve been hiding from the police.

Oh! You’re moving? To Montana? That’s great! Of course I’ll help with the move. No, it’s no trouble at at all. Really, it’s my pleasure. What, this? It’s just a box of old junk I found in your basement. No… I don’t know what you’re talking about. Well, they don’t look like shell casings to me. I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ll just pop that right into the truck for you…

But seriously. If your church or PTA or whatever is having a rummage sale, winter coat drive, or similar, seize the opportunity to get rid of some stuff and help out a good cause at the same time. Two birds. One stone. Everyone wins. (Except for the metaphorical birds you just killed, you heartless bastard.)

Bonus: I don’t know about you, but for me, avoiding criminal charges AND getting rid of an entire box of stuff is always a win.*

4. Finding creative ways to get rid of your stuff can be fun!
For instance, you could ‘accidentally’ drop all twelve of those life-sized cat figurines from your great aunt Mildred out a third story window. Bonus points for ‘accidentally’ hitting that one neighbor who seems to derive perverse enjoyment from blasting banjo music at five o’clock in the morning. Every morning.*

Or, if assault with a deadly, cat-sized weapon isn’t your thing, you could get creative with this fun holiday activity:

Take all the expired prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet, mix them up and dump a handful of pills into all of the old gift bags you’ve got lying around the house. I call them Mystery Meds Grab Bags! Then head down to your local warehouse district and start passing them out to all the teenage ravers. Make it more fun by wearing a Santa hat! Or elf shoes! (Which you’ll later donate, obviously, because you’re totes a minimalist now.)*

Bonus: Then you can sit back and bask in the warm holiday glow (or vacant drug-induced haze) that comes from helping others. Because isn’t helping others what this time of year is all about?**

[*Seriously though, attempting any of these things will get you arrested. Don’t do it.]

[**I started writing this post in December. It’s March now. Don’t judge.]

4a. Finding creative ways to get rid of your stuff can be fun! Part 2
I just realized that I forgot to include any real tips in the last section. Sometimes my imagination runs away with me. Here are some things you can do to de-clutter that probably won’t involve law enforcement:

Empty closet– Clean out your closet (check out Project 333 over at Be More with Less for some great tips on how to do it) and invite all your friends over to paw through your unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories. That way, if you change your mind about this whole minimalism thing, you can steal your stuff back with relative ease.

– I also consign a lot of my old clothes. The best part about this is that I usually forget that I ever owned the items to begin with, never mind the fact that I took the time to consign them, so more often than not, I wind up with surprise consignment money in the mail! And really, isn’t surprise money the best kind of money?

– If you have any old, obsolete electronics that are too broken for repair and not old enough to be vintage, why not do like the guys in Office Space and bring them out to the middle of a field and hit them with a baseball bat? Benefits include: stress-relief, exercise, enjoying the great outdoors, and bonding with friends for some good old-fashioned wholesome fun!

I’m beginning to notice that even my ‘real’ tips are kind of ridiculous. But that’s not the point. The point is, getting rid of stuff feels amazing and everyone should be doing much more of it.

Seriously, not to brag, but I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff that I’ve actually been able to sell several pieces of large furniture. My room has a weird echo now. At first it was a little unsettling and my room felt kind of empty, but I’m starting to love it. And you will too.

So get on it! Start that spring cleaning early! Purge all that unnecessary crap from your life! It’ll feel amazing, I promise. In fact, my new motto was going to be: purge early and purge often, but it felt a little bulimic so I scrapped it. Besides, I’m a minimalist now, I don’t need some stupid motto weighing me down. Fuck that.

Happy purging y’all!

– S

Everybody’s got to make some sacrifices to the rock gods…

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Dear Old Texan Who Rented Us His Family Vacation Home,

Thank you so much for allowing us to stay in your beautiful, palatial, and very well appointed home. It being the weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival and all, I’m sure you had a lot of interest from potential renters. Thanks for choosing us. We had a wonderful time.

I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to come home after a long day of rocking out at the rock show and soak in the hot tub or take a refreshing dip in the pool, then drift off to sleep in one of your comfortable beds. Don’t think that the thread count on those sheets went unnoticed. It was much appreciated! Ditto with the spa towels. Thanks for going the extra mile there.

Oh, and the tech! I’m not very good with technology so I don’t have any idea what even one of those thirty-five remotes controlled, but it all looked very impressive. And I must say, the giant projection screen over the pool was a nice touch.

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The grounds around your property are lovely as well. We particularly enjoyed the fire pit and the pond…though I must admit, I was a bit wary of the hobo living in the shed out back, but he turned out to be very friendly and made for an excellent neighbor.

You’ve been so kind and generous; I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the incident that occurred on Sunday afternoon.

You see the rock show was cancelled that day on account of rain. I guess some parts of Zilker Park were literally under water. Everyone was highly disappointed.

Fortunately, we are a resilient bunch, and decided to make the best of it. We cracked open a bottle of champagne, cranked up some Lionel Ritchie (the would-be headliner of the show) and spent a relaxing morning in the hot tub. Easy like Sunday morning, am I right?

Sometime after the second bottle of champagne and that ‘hour of power’ that seemed like a good idea at the time, someone came up with the brilliant notion of inviting all of the displaced musicians and fellow rockers over to the house. ‘If we can’t go to the rock show, then we’ll bring the rock show to us!’

Frankly, we didn’t think anyone would show up and I think we were all a little bit shocked by the turn out.

At first it was just our small group and the crew from Atoms for Peace. Even though it was beyond cool to meet Thom Yorke and Flea, I’ll admit it was a little awkward at first. They weren’t really equipped for an acoustic set, so there was a lot of feet shuffling with hands in pockets and not a lot of direct eye contact. Then someone suggested we set up a beer pong tournament. Things got a lot less awkward after that.

That shit got competitive real quick! Rock stars do not fuck around. They also don’t take well to losing at beer pong. Especially after taunting a drunk and belligerent Thom Yorke by screaming Radiohead lyrics at him every time he tried to make a shot.

Long story short, that’s how come your table got broken. Sorry about that.

Things settled down a bit when Shuggie Otis arrived with Neko Case. (They carpooled.) They seemed relatively unfazed by the destruction in the dining room, whipped out their guitars and played an impromptu show in the kitchen. It was pretty incredible.

Then Noah and the Whale and Phoenix turned up in a party bus and things got rowdy again. I don’t know whose idea it was to start skeet-shooting with your fine china, but it happened…and it was all kinds of fun. And honestly, if you didn’t want people breaking into your china cabinet (or your gun cabinet for that matter) then you should really invest in proper locks. I’m just sayin’.

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As for the golf cart in your pool…that one is all on Franz Ferdinand. Those limy Scottish fruits know how to party!

It was while we were all distracted trying to fish the golf cart out of the pool that Flea decided to jump through your projection screen all Animal-from-The-Muppets style. You can’t take your eyes off that crazy bastard for a second!

When the kids from School of Rock showed up I knew there was going to be trouble. Those kids can drink! And that little girl who plays the bass is a mean drunk. I don’t think that poor hobo ever saw it coming. We found most of his teeth though, and I’m sure his scalp will go back to normal once his stitches are removed.

You’d think the kids would be the ones responsible for the puking in the hot tub, but no. That was Valerie June. She might be a badass blues player, but homegirl is tiny! And I have no idea where that jug of moonshine came from.

But nobody, not even the drunkest among us, ever thought in a million years that the man himself – LIONEL RITCHIE – would accept our humble party invitation. Even the other rock stars were stoked to see him.

Call it naiveté, but I was hoping for a handholding, ‘We Are the World’ type of sitch. Alas, that was not to be. When Lionel says he’s going to party ‘All Night Long,’ he fucking means it. He was tearing through the house jumping on the furniture like a little kid, except he had a bottle of Jack in one hand and a fifth of Jame-O in the other. I think he was legitimately trying to dance on the ceiling and I, for one, wasn’t about to tell him no.

My recollections get kind of patchy after that.

I remember walking in on some crazy shit in the garage. I’m pretty sure a certain folk singer was doing a line of what I can only assume was blow off of a certain blues singer’s…well, suffice it to say, you need a new pool table. And new pool cues. Maybe just don’t go in your garage anymore. Yeah, that’s probably best.

Then later someone foolishly asked Lionel Ritchie to stop jumping on your bed while singing ‘What Does the Fox Say?’ ad nauseam. He got super angry and punched that hole in your bedroom wall. I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably regretting not charging us a security deposit, but don’t worry about it. We gave Lionel a sharpie and asked him to autograph the wall. He did his best. It sort of looks like his signature. Sure, it probably would’ve been better if he hadn’t drawn all those lewd sketches underneath it, but you can still sell it on eBay and make back the money for the repairs. Assuming you even want to get it fixed. It is pretty epic. I mean, how many people can honestly claim that Lionel Ritchie drew a dick on their wall? Not many, I’m guessing.

Other than that, the weekend was pretty quiet. Though several members of our party did get stung by scorpions in your backyard. There’s also a huge hornet’s nest down by the pond. We collectively decided not to sue, but you should really take care of that.

So…I guess that’s it. Thanks again. See you next year!

Fondly,

[omitted]

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A Great Way to Make Yourself Feel Ridiculously Accomplished Without Actually Doing Anything

I’m a list-maker. I make a lot of lists. A LOT of lists. I make to-do lists, shopping lists, packing lists, lists of items I’ve donated to charity… Sometimes I make a list of the things I want to make lists for.

For a list to feel truly satisfying, you’re gonna want a good pen. I like gel pens. Preferably in a variety of colors. (The only thing more anal-retentive than a well-written list, is a list that is color coded.)

You’ll also need to establish your list-making medium. Here’s a list of things you can use to make lists:

*Scraps of paper – I tend to avoid using scraps because I usually wind up accidentally throwing them away before I get the chance to complete my list – or, failing that, transferring unfinished tasks onto a new list. (Which I do all the time.)

*Smart phones, iPads and other digital methods – I tried that for a little while, but it didn’t leave me with the same sense of satisfaction that physically crossing an item off a list gives me.

*Other – My mother uses the backs of envelopes. It’s adorable.

I’m a big fan of the yellow legal pad.

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Biggest perk of working at a law firm? Access to an unlimited supply of yellow legal pads. (The assistant who worked here before me accidentally bought the wide-ruled legal pads and my boss hates those, so it’s up to me to use them up. And boy, will I!)

I’ve always been a highly goal-oriented individual, and list-making is great way to organize the multitude of ideas that pass through my head on a given day. The trouble is, my goals tend to be rather…lofty. To an almost ludicrous degree.

Take the list I made on Wednesday…

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For those of you with a slow internet connection or small-screened smart phone, I’ll recreate the list here:

  • Finish pilot for TV show
  • Start pilot for TV show
  • Write opera libretto
  • Blog about that time you worked in a ruler factory
  • Learn music for concert w/Brian
  • Learn ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ because it’s time
  • Submit opera audition applications
  • Apply for more film & TV work
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Clean all the things (donate anything you don’t feel like cleaning to Goodwill)
  • Pay bills
  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Laundry

That was just Wednesday! Did I mention that I also worked nine hours on Wednesday?

Okay, so I didn’t really expect to finish everything on the list. Hell, I’d be lucky to accomplish even one of those things. This could easily be my to-do list for the next five years – at least!

The truth is, I didn’t accomplish any of those things. I was exhausted. And hungry. And the dry cleaners was closed. I am a failure.

That’s the biggest problem with lists. You kinda feel like shit when you have so many unfinished tasks hanging over your head. At least that’s what happens to me.

So I came up with a solution.

When I got home from my very long day and it became evident that my overly ambitious list was going to be left undone, I made a new list. One that was absolutely manageable – even in my depleted state. It looked like this:

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  • Eat some food
  • Don’t feel guilty about the fact that it’s take-out
  • Cuddle with the dog (His name is Wallace and he’s adorable. See below.)
  • Watch: Breaking Bad, Dexter, SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy)
  • Go to bed at 10:15pm

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Mission accomplished.

I feel better already.

S