Battle Scars

Chefs are inordinately proud of their scars. We all are, in a way, I suppose, but when I say "chefs are proud of their scars" I mean physical ones, not metaphorical. We're the new rock stars, you know - we work hard, we party hard and we burn the fuck out of ourselves with sheet pans hard. Don't act like you're not jealous of our badassery. Chefs without scars are scoffed at, regarded as glorified home cooks. At times my lower arms have been covered with rows of sheet pan burns so numerous and neat they look more like scarring from self harm than occupational hazard. Ice cream making is not a particularly scarring endeavor, so I'm down to three scars right now - an oval where my left shoulder hit a 450˚ sheetpan fresh out of the oven and received a nasty second degree burn, a heart-shaped scar on my right forearm (because of course I would have a literal heart on my sleeve) and my worst, and longest lasting scar, a thin line that travels diagonally from the base of my right pinky and up the inside of my right ring finger, ending just above my second knuckle. A scar that to this day, has made it so I only have partial feeling in said ring finger, either making the fact that that's my finger my carpal tunnel most affects, better (because I'm used to it) or worse (because maybe it wouldn't go totally numb if it weren't already partially?).

I gave myself the injury that would cause that scar six years ago, right before my 21st birthday and about 5 weeks before I was to graduate culinary school. It didn't happen because I was doing some sort of crazy impressive quick knife work or got jostled by somebody else moving too quickly through the school kitchen. It happened at Baskin Robbins. Where I worked as a cake decorator.

Yes, my most badass scar comes from cake decorating. Even for a baker, it's more than a little humiliating.

You see, Baskin Robbins doesn't have premade cakes for every custom flavor you can order, because that would be insane and impossible for stores to stock. They basically make premade cakes in variations of vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip, mint chip or strawberry ice cream with either vanilla or chocolate bases. For every other flavor, the cake decorators have to assemble the cakes themselves. This is done using a tub cutter. The tub cutter has a metal pole with holes and a metal pin to adjust the height of a curved arm that holds the tub in place and the naked box cutter blade that cuts through the cardboard of the ice cream tub. You spin the tub against the box cutter blade, cutting a neat circle around the tub and then pull a thick wire through the ice cream, slicing off a neat layer with which to assemble the custom cake. Pretty genius, right?

Five days a week, I left my house at 10am to go to work for three hours and got home at 11pm after 7 hours of schooling that was essentially working, it was really only a matter of time before my exhaustion caught up to me. For my first hour of the day, I worked by myself because not enough people bought ice cream at 11am to interrupt my cake decorating. That day I cut off a layer of ice cream from the tub, started assembling a cake and then got distracted by a customer. By the time I got back to the tub to put it away it had started to defrost. The icy fuzz that had formed on the outside had even started to turn to slippery rivulets of water and as I pulled the tub away, my hand lost its grip. Tired, I instinctively pulled my hand away, right along the exposed box cutter blade.

If you have never cut your finger, let me just tell you that even the smallest cut bleeds like a mofo. Two deep, inch long cuts? Yeah. I immediately wrapped my fingers in paper towels and applied pressure, afraid to look but knowing it was bad. When I started to feel faint, I raised my arm above my head in a continued effort to stop the bleeding. Finally, pressing my right hand against my chest to not relent on the pressure, I used my left hand to shakily dial my boss (the owner).

"I cut myself on the tub cutter, I think I need to go to the emergency room"

"How bad is it? Did you drive today? Can you drive yourself?"

"I did, but I cut across two fingers on my right hand, I don't think it would be safe"

He picked me up and drove me to the Kaiser ER.

"I'm sure it won't be too bad when you unwrap it"

I looked at him doubtfully, I was raised by a nurse, I had taken my basic first aid classes, I was shaking and the bleeding still hadn't stopped, I knew it was going to be bad.

I bled through an entire roll of gauze before getting stitched up. Seven stitches across two fingers. Seven large stitches my grandmother shook her head at.

"If you were a hand model, they would've given you at least twice as many stitches"

But I wasn't a hand model, I was about to start my career as a classically trained pastry chef and I had just gotten my first battle scar.

At fucking Baskin Robbins.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. Today's prompt was to tell a story about your first job.

To My One True Love

photo-8 Two years ago I moved to New York.

I quit my job. I broke up with my boyfriend. I dropped my classes. I packed my bags.

There are things that are the same and things that are different.

The streets were piled high with snow when I arrived, like they are now. 2011 was a normal New York Winter. One where people didn't freak out about it snowing eight inches for just one day because that's just what happens in Winter. I remember it snowed well into March when Ruby came to visit for Spring break. Or was that April? It was a long winter but I got to spend a lot of time walking through Central Park in the snow. Time reminding me of the magic of my city love.

When I moved I had spent eight years in relationships. Eight years. Now I've spent the last two years more or less single. I didn't know how to create a life that wasn't built on somebody else's, that wasn't always slightly compromised. Now I don't know if I remember how to fit somebody into the life I've made. I have moments when I don't know if I even really want to and moments when I know with absolute certainty that I do. 87% of the time I do.

I was job searching then and I'm job searching now. I had taken a break from the culinary world and was terrified to get back into it. I couldn't afford to be too choosy about where I worked. I didn't have any idea what I wanted. Now I'm mostly happy to be back in the kitchen. My ideas about what I want my career to look like are in flux but I know my strengths and I know my worth. I know I don't have to take the first job that comes along even though from my preliminary interview that first job looks pretty great.

I lived in Queens then. I live in Brooklyn now. My hair was long and I was planning on chopping it off. Now my hair has been short for long enough that I'm fairly certain I'm growing it out. I miss my curly mane.

I've lived in two different houses and three different rooms. I've worked at three different jobs, gotten one promotion and been laid off twice. I've made it to the third date a number of times but rarely past that. I've lost my monthly unlimited card twice, each time with only a week left. I know it's not that hard to jump a turnstile. I've had one phone stolen. I know that rotating beds creak when they spin and can actually be pretty distracting. I no longer know how many times I've gotten drunk from free wine after hours at the American Museum of Natural History. I no longer know how many people I've met here that have moved back home or out of town. I don't know how many people I know now that won't be in the city next year. I've made many friends and I've lost a few.

I've worked every hour of the day.  I worked 80 hours a week for two weeks straight. There might be days where I got paid more for crying in the walk in than for mixing dough. I've gone straight from a bar to the kitchen and baked in my slip. I know what a 50 lb block of butter looks like.

I've made out in cabs and cried on the subway and thrown up over the edge of the train platform. The number of miles I've walked is easily in the hundreds, if not at least a thousand.

I've sung along to "This Land is Your Land" with a crowd of people during an encore that involved three bands and an 80 degree Summer night in the middle of Central Park. I've had a nightclub sing me "Happy Birthday".

When I moved I came down with a massive case of "wherever you go there you are" because when I moved I had mostly been unhappy and it turns out that doesn't change overnight.

Real change takes time.

But the space away from expectations and shoulds, the space to focus on myself, the decision to be in the place I've always wanted to be has helped that change take place.

So here's to you, New York, on our two year anniversary - may there be many more to come.

DipticDiptic-1

And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.

2012 was a good year for me. It seems strange to say that. I got laid off in early 2012, I swore off online dating sometime last March and my best friend's dad died. But I found a job that didn't make me cry most days, I used the time and energy I had been using on OkC and first dates to do things that made me happy instead and well, there's  no positive spin on a parent dying. I said it was a good year, I definitely didn't say it was perfect. Nothing is coming easy in wrapping up this year. I don't know why. I want to say I didn't have any grand realizations or startling epiphanies, but I don't think that's true. I know I learned things. I know I made changes. I continued the process of settling into myself which seems like it isn't really a thing. I want to say "this year, I became even more myself" but it seems so self evident. It's not though, right? Becoming yourself is hard. Stripping away the concepts of what you should do or the notions of what you're expected to do and listening to what things truly make you happy is surprisingly fucking hard.

I'm reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking right now, and a lot of it is confirming things I already know about myself but a lot of it also making me really examine the parts of myself I respect and the parts I don't. It's had me reexamining my career through a different lens. I put a lot of effort in my early twenties into being good at being a fake extrovert because I got tired of being told I was intimidating or came off bitchy at first when really I'm just slow to warm up and pretty fucking shy. I don't think there's anything wrong with fake extroversion but I've been coming around to thinking of it more as a tool and less as the person I'm supposed to be. I had a lot of quiet time this year. I learned how much better I focus without netflix on in the background and with tweetdeck off. I learned that I am actually totally fine with there being musicless days in the kitchen. I stopped focusing on relationships with acquaintances and formed some really close, real friendships this year because that's something I'm actually much better at.

For a long time I kind of abandoned service work because it wasn't something people around me were super interested in and because I didn't want to come off as too much of a pious goody two shoes. Yes, that is correct. I though that if I went on a volunteering spree people might judge me negatively for being a good person. I don't know, maybe some people have. Who fucking cares because I'm happy and the world is a better place. Like most things in life, it turns out the people that care about you are excited and supportive because the people that actually matter want you to be happy.

2012: The year where I learned the obvious truths.

I spent a lot of time reading in 2012. I scheduled a lot of down days. I saw some fantastic concerts. I watched more tv than I'd like to admit and I still haven't found a yoga studio that I love (2013 pro tip: try actively looking). I'm starting the year stripping away things that aren't making me actively happy and adding more of the things that are. That is, really, my only goal for the year- to give myself permission to go after the things I really want and to say no to things I don't really want.

Nobody will be surprised to learn my word for the year is "Timshel".

Where's a girl with bad intentions gonna settle down?

Photo-2
Something you might not know about me: I'm very easily overstimulated, especially by sound. It doesn't make a lot of sense. I love New York City and concerts and going out dancing. Those things are all loud and I love them. But if I'm listening to music on my own, I rarely blast it. I want the tv to be just loud enough for me to hear what's going on. I will never be impressed by how awesome that explosion sounded on your new speakers. I can't even listen to music while I write, it makes it so hard for me to focus. Some days the same is true when I cook. When I'm really tired I can't even hold a conversation if there's any sort of background noise.

I don't know if it's a product of growing up in the country or without TV or if it's just a product of being me. I suppose it's one of those introvert things.

I value silence. On my own. Between people.

So obviously, I agreed to go to this last Saturday. Because why wouldn't I agree to go hang out at Barclay Center with 25,000 other people dressed in white with crazy lasers, spinning giant lotus's (loti?), dancers, water features and the type of music that makes me feel anxious after about five minutes being played endlessly? MAKES PERFECT SENSE.

Of course, there was a guy. Really, the crazy giant rave was the guy's brother's idea but the guy invited me and bought my ticket and came down from Boston to spend Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon with me (which also should've been overwhelming). So I threw myself into it. Acquired some white sequins to wear and danced and had fun for about three hours before reaching my limit, at which point the aforementioned guy looked even more overwhelmed and exhausted than I did so we went home and promptly passed out.

Having the guy stay with me for three days? It was nice. And not overwhelming. I got to have a boyfriend for three days. I got snuggles and brunches and somebody's hand reaching around my waist at parties. Maybe because I knew he was leaving at the end of the weekend or maybe because I just like him that much, I interacted and existed without pretense or anxiety. I remembered that with the right person you can actually spend that much time together in one stretch without wanting to kill them.

That guy is back in Boston now and maybe we'll spend a weekend together again sometime and maybe we won't, but it was nice.

And I guess it's worth it. The bad dates, the boring dates, the guys that behave like total asshats. The guys you meet in bars. I guess it's worth it. Because eventually one of them will live in the same city as me and it'll be nice for more than three days.

Over and over and over again

"I have to have something caffeinated or I'm just going to not function"

"You hit a wall?'

"Well I think I hit the wall like three days ago and now I'm like a roomba trying to get around a corner but instead of going around I just keep backing up at the wrong angle and running into it over and over again"

I've been in the hole. And instead of taking a moment and being kind to myself and saying "hey, slow down," I've just kept going. I've just kept myself all the way on all the time.

To a certain extent, this is how it works, right? This is adulthood. You do the shit you have to do. You keep trying to be the person you want to be. Sometimes you fuck up your priorities and doing the things you "have to do" makes you unable to be the person you want to be and then you find yourself unable to sleep at 2am figuring out the barista schedule for no reason other than your inability to just turn off and let be.

Or instead of walking away 10 times out of 10, it turns into 9 out of 10 and at 3am that 10th person gets all the wrath that should've been doled out evenly. But that 10th person was an asshole and so you're not entirely sure you feel bad and then you feel worse because you want to be the type of person that does feel bad. Because most of the time you are.

I've added 4 to 5 hours of volunteer work to my life each week. It's teaching kids in after school programs/weekend programs in the Bronx, Harlem and Long Island City how to cook. I love it. It's what I wish I could get paid to do.

That's the person I want to be. I want to be the person that prioritizes giving back. The problem is I didn't really think about the commute to those places. I didn't think about 3 hours in the Bronx really eating 5 or so hours of my Saturday. Or another hour getting taken away on Tuesdays to get myself from work to Harlem or LIC.

So I need to sit down, right? I need to sit down and figure out what needs to give for me to be able to prioritize volunteering without going insane. Because this is actually why I went to culinary school, so I could always have a practical skill and do all the volunteer things that I can't turn into a career. That was always the plan. It wasn't that I wanted to be a chef. It's that I couldn't major in the things I wanted to major in and ever be gainfully employed. So I need to make this work. I figure out what gets sacrificed. I figure out what needs to make it in. I stop holding myself to standards that are impossibly higher than I would ever set for others.

I slow down for a minute.

I try this new thing called "sleep".

But my grandparents get into town tomorrow.

So i'm probably not going to try any of that until next week.

And I'm a little bit broken

I've been teetering on the edge for a while. Looking down into the hole and pretending not to notice that I've already started to fall. It's hard, I'm coming off the high of a busy, well spent Summer. A sad Summer but also a good Summer. Life is always tricky like that.

I'm not ready for the Fall. I said I was ready to slow down this month, but I'm not. I'm not ready for indoors and being bundled and real life. It's funny how Summer makes me feel so free even though I don't remember the last true Summer vacation I had.

Today I received my first "Dear John" text, from a guy I let myself like more than I knew I should have. Nothing in it was surprising and at the same time I wanted to vomit and cry and jump on a plane home. I wanted the stars and the dark. I wanted my headlights on a windy country road. I wanted to drink whiskey and shoot at the bottle. I wanted the endessness of the ocean. I wanted to be any and all places other than here.

I'm not sure how much of it even really had to do with that guy as much as just an overflow of frustration with dating (or rather that it's always not actually dating) in this city.

For a moment, everything seemed to be coming together, work, friends, crush, moving into an apartment to call my own. There was a solid twenty hours where I felt like maybe I had backed away from the edge but then the city just went ahead and pushed me all the way over.

So, hello, hole.

Hello, bell jar.

Tomorrow I will put out my two new flavors (Rose sweet cinnamon ice cream with cardamom dough! Honey ice cream with salted rosemary dough!) and work on the third. I will pack up my one room here. Over the weekend I'll move and create a new space and maybe dye my hair and call my mother.

And I'll hope that my bell jar stays behind.

Bits & Pieces (the fourth)

August isn't my favorite time of year. It's well documented. I haven't been writing about it, because there isn't anything to say that I haven't said before.

I had a nasty Summer cold earlier this month, the worst deathaversary sick I've had in a couple of years. I wasn't prepared for it to happen so early. After literally spending 48 hours in bed over the weekend, I was still sick enough on Monday that I would've called in sick if my assistant were actually a baker, not a grad student who knows how to work the ice cream machine. I never call in sick, it's just not done in the kitchen, but I would've called in sick.

I over schedule myself to the point where I even thought I was over scheduled. Over scheduling is my thing. I love it. But this month I looked at the calender and thought "Seriously, Alana Margaret? Are you trying to kill yourself?". Nope, just keeping busy.

Busy busy busy.

My brain is on overdrive. I think I've probably written ten blog posts in my head but never let myself sit down to write them. I got in a rut at work and then suddenly thought of all the new recipes I wanted to make at once. That's how it goes. The recipes leave and come back. It's overwhelming sometimes, I never know how to explain it. Once I'm in that mode, I'll literally stop a conversation to work out a flavor combination out loud. I haven't shut down for a while. Quieting my mind during yoga this week was an extra challenge.

My life, it seems so full of possibility right now. My lease is up at the end of November and I'm constantly thinking about what next. It's crazy that I'll have lived in the same apartment for a year and ten months when I leave, I tend to pack up and move, to run onto the next thing more often than that usually. Do I stay in Astoria? Can I somehow afford Manhattan? Do I give in and move to Brooklyn to be with my hipster people? Do I leave New York? (I'm not leaving New York, I'm too happy with my life right now, but the point is, I could. I'd come back, but I could leave for a while).

I love my job and I really believe in the product, but once again I'm not sure what the next step is careerwise. I think the next step is to do what I've been doing and create a life outside of work while I have a job that allows me to do that. Maybe the next step is just sticking around for a while.

Politics are making me rage-y right now. Just a rage bubbling up inside me that I haven't felt for a while. I told somebody the other day that I had such a hard time taking Mitt Romney seriously as a candidate that I keep forgetting it's an election year. WHEN I WAS IN INDIA I READ ENTIRE DEBATE TRANSCRIPTS ON THE INTERNET and this year I've been like "wait, we still actually need to vote on this bullshit?". At least that's how I was until Republicans started saying really REALLY stupid things about rape and then I mean, RAGE. Just, rage.

I guess I feel like I'm finding myself again with the yoga and the volunteering and the rage. I don't know when I lost myself. Or if that's the right phrase. I feel like I'm turning into the version of myself I want to be. I wasn't lost. I just knew I could do more. There still much more to do, there's always more. But I'm growing again. Growing and stable at the same time.

Happy and sad at the same time.

Lara called to tell me Moxie Crimefighter died today. It finally made me pause long enough to feel the sadness that's been lingering around the edges this month. Sadness for her dad's passing, sadness for my own's and now sadness for the loss of a tiny black cat named after pub trivia had a celebrity baby names round. While Lara's dad was sick, Moxie slept curled next to him every day. You were the best, Moxiecat. The best.

I'm currently simultaneously annoyed with myself for being irresponsible and going out and drinking for EIGHT HOURS last Wednesday and had such a good, crazy time, that I can't be. It was just one of those nights that I think can only happen in New York where one minute it's 5pm happy hour in the UWS and then it's 11 and somehow you've ended up in Brooklyn, developing a small surprise crush on somebody that wasn't even really eligible in your mind before. The crush has stuck with me sober. Have I mentioned how much I hate crushes? It's basically like when somebody tells me they have a surprise for me. Either just surprise me or tell me what it is. I don't do well with anticipation and not knowing. Seriously, I hate this feeling. Will it develope into more of a crush? How does he feel about me? Why am I even thinking about this that much? What's my next move? Do I make a next move? Why did I hide in the kitchen when he came into work the other day? What if he has no interest in moves? WHY CAN'T WE JUST HAVE ARRANGED MARRIAGES STILL?

I'm going to lie in a dark room and just listen to the Good Old Wars and The Avett Brothers endlessly now. Also, the Lumineers, still. And the Milk Carton Kids. I'm back on an alt country kick and a buying all the music kick. I'm still so happy to have gotten back this part of myself. I miss my records, though. I want those when I move.

I think maybe my brain will be quiet for a second now because how can anything be left after that outpouring of gibberish?

I'll be in New York, send for me when you want more

I'm having a very New York month. Overscheduled, overindulgent, overwhelming, overpriced. I seem to be saying yes to everything this month. Pushing myself right up to the edge, dangerously close to teetering over. I'm simultaneously not ready for Summer to be over and longing for the relative calm I seem to think September will bring.

That's the problem with this city, it's easy to blame it for your choices.

Of course I've been staying out until 4am on weeknights, that's just New York.

I'm sorry, sleep? What's that?

But the happy hour was too good to pass up...

I want to stay here. I don't want to move home, I don't want to move somewhere else. If I have a family, I want to raise that family here, in the city. I want my kids to build snowmen in Central Park in the winter, ride the carousel in the Spring and escape into the cool air conditioned halls of museums in the Summer. I still want them to know California, to know the country. I want them to know what it's like to spend weeks running around barefoot and picking blackberries and to spend the day tidepooling. I want them to love the redwoods. But I want home to be New York.

I was hanging out with one of our regular customers and talking about dating and living in New York and he said "It's funny, you can always tell the people who aren't here to stay, it's like they're on vacation. It might be a couple of year vacation but in the end most people here just want to move back home and get married and have kids there. That's what makes dating so awful here, why would you take it seriously if you don't intend to stay?". And he's right. I've gone on so many dates where somehow the conversation has turned into talking about raising kids out of the city and the guy has been like "Well, I always thought I would move home, but California would probably be pretty great," as if that's something that going to make me happy, but it's pretty much an immediate turn off for me.

And while even a few months ago I was still all about regularly staying out until last call, I've now found myself realizing that 4am last call isn't going to go away. That I can be boring and only go out on the weekends and do yoga and volunteer work during the week. I don't have to eat all the amazing food right now this second. For the most part, I've changed my life into something more sustainable than work hard, play hard. A lot of the playing hard I've been doing this month has felt more like an obligation than the service work and healthy eating to which I've been getting back.

I want my life to be in New York, but I don't want my life to be New York.

Next month is for saying "no".

I've been living a lonely life

I’ve been off the whole “love” thing for a while. I think it might be a thing New York does to you. Your life becomes full of rotating cast and crew with few permanent additions. I’ve had three friends move out of the state since December. My schedule hasn’t been the same for more than two months for the last year and a half. I haven’t had a single relationship with a guy I wouldn’t describe as “ambiguous” except for with Trouble. I suppose that relationship was the opposite of ambiguous. Mostly because it was the opposite of a relationship.

Needless to say, if you think immersion therapy is a good idea for dealing with your abandonment issues, come hang out with me in New York. We’ll be great friends until I leave you before you can leave me.

At a certain point, dating just didn’t seem worth it. Sometime around the time I freaked out about a guy wanting to hold hands in public on the second date. A friend pointed out that if it was the right guy, it probably wouldn’t bother me. I was like “yeah, sure” and then proceeded to go on another date with too much PDA dude. I’m not sure what my logic was. I guess I’ve never been much of a “when you know, you know” person. My longest relationship was with a guy that was a goofy 15 year old rocking an awful Prince Valiant hair cut when we first met in 10th grade honors English. I mean, I knew. I knew that while Jacob became a great friend, I had no interest in dating him. Until the next fall when I knew I did. I guess I thought if I went on enough dates with Mr. PDA, he might grow on me.

On that next date we were talking about our somewhat incompatible schedules and he said “Working out our schedules would be hard, but for this, I think it would be worth it,” and I just kind of nodded. And I knew. I knew I had absolutely no interest in dating him. I also knew I had no interest in being friends with him.

That’s when I knew I just needed to back away from the dating for a while. I consoled myself with the 5,000 online articles about how dating in New York is actually impossible for everyone. I focused on my relationships with friends. I worked on getting my food blog back up and running. I didn’t fool myself into thinking I preferred singlehood but I convinced myself it was ok for a while. One day I realized my singleness had stopped being something I constantly struggled against. I even had moments where I thought about losing my freedom and it didn’t seem worth it.

It was nice while it lasted. I guess.

A few weeks ago I fell asleep holding hands with someone. (Hi SOMEONE! FEELINGS. I kind of hope you're not reading this) I had Sunday brunch and lazy afternoon cuddles. I went on a walk through the park after dinner. I shivered each time he kissed me. And before I knew it, my bed that I never let anybody in, suddenly felt awfully big for one. It was all A LOT, very fast (err, feelings-wise, just to be clear) but it didn’t seem too much. And I remember thinking “This would be hard to figure out, but it would be worth it” and then “Fuck!” because my friend was right, because I once again knew what I was missing, because I was fairly certain I had put myself in a situation with high potential for heartbreak.

Because I knew I wouldn’t settle anymore.

Because the heart wants what it mother fucking wants. And my heart is an all or nothing kind of girl.

I thought I was on a “no kissing guys that don’t want to date you” kick but now I’m pretty sure I’m on a “no kissing guys that don’t give you chills” kick.

Which would’ve been a lot easier when I thought I was content with not kissing anybody for a while, before I was reacquainted with the terrifying but sweet vulnerability of kissing somebody you really like or the thought that the risk could be worth the reward.

I want it all.

I kind of hate this feeling.

Fuck.

(P.S. I have a kind of personal meets professional post over on the food blog today, go check it out)

Good Girls Don't Wear Sequins

BiSCswagOk, now that we've gotten all that talk about FEEEELINGS out of the way, let's have some Real Talk about the awesome shit that comes with being a BiSC attendee. This (maybe not so) flattering picture of me was taken by my roommate/favorite person Dominique in our fancy Flamingo Go Room which had a MOTHEREFFING tv in our bathroom mirror. Guys, I don't have cable (YEAH, I SAID IT. LOOK, I WAS RAISED WITHOUT TV SO YOU CAN GO SIT IN THE CORNER AND JUDGE MY PRETENSION WHILE I JUDGE YOU WATCHING DANCE MOMS AND WE CAN ALL BE HAPPY WITH OUR JUDGE-Y LIFE DECISIONS). I don't even know what to do with a tv in the bathroom mirror, we turned it on once while we were doing our makeup, it was confusing. See also: comfiest beds ever and multi nozel shower.

WARNING: The Go Rooms and the regular hotel rooms at the Flamingo are really not the same. I stayed in one of the regular ones in January and it was actually kind of more like Motel 6 quality. So don't go booking hotel rooms at the Flamingo and come bitching at me because you got the cheap option.

IMG_1234At the bottom of the bed is my giant pile of SWAG. Missing from the giant pile of swag: the free drink by the pool coupon sponsored by GelaSkins. It's missing because that wristband means I just came back from the crazy Flamingo Go Pool. Which is the adult pool. (No, not THAT KIND of adult pool) As in the pool where the booze is. And the fancy VIP day beds. And the waterfall to swim under and then end up in a nifty grotto. Also, where we played never have I ever for toys from Babeland. Are you wondering how things could get more ridiculawesome? So was I at this point. Pool day already seemed like the best day of my life but then IT GOT BETTER.

One word: ZUMANITY. Sexy Cirque du Soleil. Hilarious and amazing and naked. Also incredibly disturbing. Well, only the crazy contortionist that kept popping things out of sockets and shit was disturbing. I actually had to cover my eyes. Then dancing, dancing, dancing. Happiest when dancing in sequins and 4 inch heels. Until I'm tired of the heels and have to switch to sandals. Whatever. Happiest when dancing in sequins.

527798_512844919445_193400044_30188068_163346545_nWait, did I say happiest when dancing in sequins? I might've meant happiest when wearing sequins and eating waffle fry pulled pork nacho... I don't even know how to describe these, but Sara and I managed to start a trend that apparently had like 40 people eating these piles of amazingness the next night. Seriously, what is happening here? Why did we each order our own plate? This is insanity. Also, this is 3am.

HI, now it's time for sleeping.

In case you are unaware, breakfast is my favorite meal. by which I mean, breakfast foods are my favorite because I almost never eat breakfast. So buffet time on Saturday where I got to eat bacon, sausage, french toast, waffles and potatoes was pretty much my idea of heaven. I may've also made it boozy thanks to mini bottles of Skyy. IMG_1242The only thing better than regular brunch is boozy brunch.

The next epic adventure was to the roller coaster on top of New York New York that Alberto insisted did not exist (SPOILER: it exists) but for some reason agreed to join Dominique, Kelly and me in walking to the other end of the strip to go on it. Or to prove us wrong. I 67% think he was hoping to prove us wrong. I really love roller coasters, but also am unable to keep my eyes open on roller coasters which probably defeats the purpose of going on a roller coaster on top of a hotel. BUT WHATEVER, I went on a roller coaster on top of a hotel because that's the kind of shit you do in Vegas right before you play Pac-Man battle royale and the world's biggest version of fruit ninja. Clearly I chose the right group for the afternoon. For those of you playing along at home, at this point I have gone multiple hours without booze in Vegas, a situation I find mildly intolerable because apparently I'm really easily over stimulated which doesn't mix with Vegas without alcohol. BUT DON'T WORRY.

IMG_1243Thankfully Minus 5 ice bar had us covered for the afternoon. Sadly we weren't allowed to take any electronics in or I'd have fifty million pictures and have tweeted so many clever things. Or just talked a lot about how one of the rooms made me feel like I was in Narnia because of the trees etched into the ice. Did I mention that everything was made of ice? And have I ever mentioned my lifelong goal of staying in an ice hotel? This did not lessen my desire to stay in an ice hotel. We had our picture taken in a giant ice throne so that we could yell "King in the North!" but it turns out most people sit in the giant ice throne to get a picture with the Vegas sign because when we came out the woman was all "oh, you have the picture in front of the Vegas sign" and we were like "what are you talking about, lady?" because we thought we took our picture on the ice throne and are possibly too nerdy AWESOME to notice Vegas signs . Oh well.

(Side note: I'm kneeling in a really short skirt in an ice room because I was sitting the same way as Alberto and Kelly and the photographer said "You need to sit in a more flattering position, can you kneel?". And I wanted to say "Whoa dude, just how badly do you think I want this photo?" but I hadn't finished my second margarita so I wasn't feeling quite that sassy yet.

Post side note: the drinks, which were served in ice cups, rocked my socks)

More buffet. More eating all the Le Bon Garçon caramels in my gift bag. Then slowly getting ready for the Mad Men party. IMG_1245Where, you know, NBD, we just skipped a giant line to get into Chateau, the club on the roof of the Paris hotel from which you can see the Bellagio fountains go off. It was only so awesome that we all had to take a minute to tweet/facebook/foursquare/etc about it. That's all.

IMG_1249I mean, how adorable is everyone in their 60s duds, on their phones? It's pretty great. Anachronism win. Cue more dancing. Have I mentioned that I like dancing? No, really, I really like dancing. I need to go dancing more (at all) in New York now that I work normal people hours. Who wants to be my dancing buddy? Let's just go ahead and assume this girl does. IMG_1247
Yes, this is kind of an awful picture because it was dark and we were using the front facing camera, but I don't even care. And now we've reached the point where this post is just going to devolve into pictures. You're welcome.

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I don't even try

I don't know what I'm passionate about right now. I feel hollow all the time. I'm never hungry but also never full. In February I decided to stop fighting everything all the time but I guess in my case that just makes me apathetic. Or numb. I can't even tell which.

I've been trying to learn to sit with my feelings more. Or rather, just to actually feel them. To be able to say to myself things like "I am sad that this boy doesn't like me even though it's not logical to be this sad about it" or "even though I completely understand and agree with the reason I'm losing my job it's reasonable to be sad and scared and anxious". Maybe this is the way you feel feelings all the time. This is not the way I feel feelings. Look, there's a reason Spock has always been my favorite. However, you'll be shocked to know I am not a Vulcan, even though I sometimes often act like one. The problem is that by the time I actually let myself feel things I'm feeling this huge reservoir of feeling and I can't identify where each one is coming from.

So I can tell you right now that I am sad and bitter and disillusioned; that I just suspended my OkC account for the eleventybillionth time though in truth I've been on an online dating hiatus for a month now already anyways; that none of the job listings I've read make me want to send in my resume; that I made out with a boy I had no intention of ever making out with again and I honestly don't know how I feel about it, I want to say I feel nothing about it but I don't think you can actually make out and cuddle with somebody that you like and not have feelings about it and I think it's actually that the feelings are too complicated and too many things and so I'm not sitting with those ones yet* and that I'm well aware there is some major grammatical craziness going on in this post but I just don't give a fuck.

But I can also tell you I've had moments of peace and serenity lately. That walking around in Central Park with the sun on your skin and new friend is happiness. That nighttime rambles with a flask size bottle of whiskey and friend you haven't seen in a while are kind of great even if they unexpectedly kiss you later. That I do have one single job interview lined up and it looks perfect for me. That I spent yesterday at my pastry cook's friend's home out in Fresh Meadows and got to hang out with her siblings and large friend group and remember what it feels like to be part of something stable and solid. That I have a week packed full of social activities with other BiSC goers who are fast becoming my close friends.

I can tell you that I've recently realized that I'm angry at myself for letting go of and being less vocal about things I care about to make myself more palatable or to fit into groups better. That I've taken my philosophy of "pick and choose your battles" a little too far. Hi, I'm Alana and I am a feminist and I probably don't think any of your sexist/homophobic/racist jokes are funny and yeah, I'm generally ludicrously PC and I'm ok with that. JUST SO WE'RE CLEAR.

So maybe it's not that there isn't anything going on. Maybe it's that there's too much going on. Too much swirling around in my head for me to sort through it and feel any of it. Today I decided I was just going to fake it until I make it. I cleaned my room, I did some yoga, I ate an entire pineapple and also quinoa, poached chicken, black beans and avocados. Fine... also an entire bag of cadbury mini eggs.

Baby steps back to caring people, baby steps.

*This is how I feel: I feel sad and a little angry because it was nice and it was comfortable and making out and a cuddle buddy were exactly what I needed this week and it wasn't expected so it was a nice ego boost but it wasn't with somebody with whom I am actually ok with casually making out and cuddling. So, I'm sad that it's not something I get to do in a non-casual way and a little angry with both of us for doing it. And maybe a little angry at myself for not being over him even though I said earlier it was ok to be sad. God I hate feelings. THEY DON'T EVEN MAKE SENSE A LITTLE BIT, CAN I PLEASE BE A VULCAN NOW?

Bits & Pieces (the third)

I mean, THIS WEEK, y'all, this week. Or two weeks? I don't even know. I don't even know where to start. This is going to be a little brain dump-y. Ok, a lot brain dump-y. (read: hilarious/ridiculous/rambling)

I didn't finish Scintilla because I had a carpal tunnel flare up, probably from Scintilla. What I learned from Scintilla: I actually, physically cannot write every day. So there's that. That's pretty shitty. I mean, I probably could if I didn't get paid to squeeze piping bags and shape tiny pasta but I do, so writing every day is out. And no, I couldn't really hold a pen by the end of the day either. With a break from writing and "sleeping" with a wrist brace for a few days, I seem to be doing ok. This makes me really happy because a) I can stop sleeping with the motherfucking wrist brace because sleeping with a wrist brace is more like "wake up every three hours and groggily wonder why the fuck you have this uncomfortable torture device on your wrist" b) I was freaking out because I don't have health insurance and I'm ok with paying the $100 for an urgent care appointment if it's for getting antibiotics or some shit, but carpal tunnel isn't really a "here take this things and it's fixed" sort of problem and I have no money for tests or physical therapy or, god forbid, surgery and the freaking out probably didn't help with the wrist brace induced insomnia and c) now I can write again.

And I need to write again so that I can tell you about how I haven't slept longer than three hours in one stretch EVEN WHEN I DRUGGED MYSELF for like two weeks and I am really really glad I finally have two days off IN A ROW tomorrow and Monday.

Also, I need to talk about how boys are confusing.

I suffer from chronic bitch face, my mouth naturally turns down when my face is relaxed, while this doesn't seem to really bother other women, it means I get a lot of those annoying commands from men to smile. It also seems to mean that men either think I'm a bitch, or if they've gotten me to smile, that I'm flirting with them. I either apparently have "bitchface" or "flirtface" on because apparently I unintentionally flirt A LOT when I think I'm just making conversation. (Sidenote: Yes, I am also a flirt, but when I'm intentionally flirting it's usually pretty obvious, there's a lot of smirking and eyebrow raises and taking advantage of my shortness) And then I'm too nice and I give people my number EVEN THOUGH I DIDN'T THINK WE WERE FLIRTING and then I feel awful but most of the time this isn't too much of a problem because I can just be that awful girl that ignores your calls. However, it is a problem when my drunken coworker kisses me and I didn't even see it coming a little bit.

Drunken coworker.

Kissed me.

Not the one I slept with forever ago when I wasn't working there. A new one. Like, not just new to kissing me, but new to working there. Oh, and did I mention he has a girlfriend? And I've barely every spoken to him? Except for making polite getting to know you conversation at the other sous chef's going away party, I'd pretty much never said anything other than "Hey, how are you? Which breads are you low on?".

But we left the party at the same time and we were waiting for the train and he kissed me and WHAT? So I told him it was a bad idea and then he said it was a good idea and then he looked me straight in the eyes and told me I was beautiful and I was so caught off guard (see also: drunk) that I didn't dodge a second kiss. And then he fell over, taking me with him. And then he vomited.

So here I am, in the train station, with a guy I've known two weeks and have had maybe a total of thirty minutes worth of conversation with who is falling over, vomiting, black out drunk. Sober me realizes he might've hit his head when we fell and that maybe I should've taken him to a hospital. Drunk me went into crisis mode and decided to get him in a cab and get him home.

He's a foot taller than me and does not have a small build. I have a bruise over half my right ring finger from the pressure of the claddaugh I wear from trying to pull him up by his hands. I succeed in getting him up and out of the train station. With much effort I get his address out of him and get us into a cab. Not thinking about the fact that his address could be construed as Brooklyn or Manhattan and assuming that the cabbie would stay IN THE BOROUGH WE WERE IN if I didn't specify, I focused on making sure new coworker was alive and ok and not on the fact that OH HEY WE'RE IN MANHATTAN NOW, also please pull over because new coworker needs to throw up more. So then I had to go back to Brooklyn. Most expensive cab ride ever. Fuck my life. But, I mean, what the fuck else am I supposed to do?

We finally get back to his house and the effing effity eff keys keep sticking in the lock and it's freezing and it's 3am and it takes like twenty minutes of us passing the keys back and forth to each other to get in the god damn house where we proceed to go upstairs to his bedroom and then I go to the bathroom only to find he's disappeared while I was peeing. Fuck. I find him downstairs in the other bathroom sitting on the toilet with his head in the sink. I mean, hey, I usually prefer to use the toilet for vomiting and the floor for sitting on, but at least this way he can't choke on his own vomit in his sleep. He vaguely wakes up, throws up some more. I try to force some water into him, he doesn't keep it down. I consider sleeping in the bathtub because I am a crazy person that thinks that somehow by sleeping next to a black out drunk person I'll keep them from injuring themselves. I try to pull him up and get him upstairs. No luck. Finally, I give up and let him fall asleep, head in the sink. I go up to his room, curl up on the bed, completely clothed, jacket still on because it's freezing and set an alarm for twenty minutes to go check on him. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually he makes it into bed.

And that, was how this week started. I left before he woke up. I know he knows I got him home because I overheard him telling my other coworkers that he blacked out and I got him home but I have no idea what else he remembers.

So I'm pretty much just pretending none of it ever happened and he hasn't said anything about any of it to me (either the kissing or the me getting him home) but he has been really friendly and look, HOW THE FUCK DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION? Because I'm at work, I have a professional relationship with him. I barely know him. I don't want to kiss him. But I spent multiple hours wiping vomit off his face and I've slept in his bed so it's weird. It's really fucking weird. I don't know what to do, so I'll probably just keep pretending nothing ever happened except it makes me kind of feel like a bitch to be like "hey, I've seen you crazy vulnerable and in need of help but now I'm acting like I barely know you". But I barely know him.

So anyways, apparently I have no idea how to read men because I really didn't think we were flirting but he really was determined to kiss me. Also, he was really drunk so I'm assuming it has no bearing on how sober him feels about kissing me. At least I'm hoping that's true.

Boys Are Confusing Part Two:

This past Saturday I think I almost got into my first fight with Trouble. (Pro Tip: You're not supposed to get in fights with somebody with whom you're just sleeping and have no emotional involvement, because I think that's a sign of emotional involvement. Oops.) We were in a cab and he mentioned how his new subletter was a really great guy and HE SAID "not like my other roommate" so I said "who hates me?". He again clarified that his roommate hates everyone and I again stated that I didn't really care if his roommate hates me because he was kind of a jerk.

"Really? Because he's one of my really good friends, y'know we grew up together, so his opinion really matters to me"

And then I changed the subject because a) never try to reason with drunk people especially if you are also drunk and b) why does it matter what his best friend thinks of me if we're not dating?! What?

We are talking about a guy here who once pointed to the ring on my finger and said "Are you engaged? I mean, not that it would matter if you were, I don't believe in the whole marriage thing". I thought we were firmly in this is not a relationship land, not ambiguous relationship land. Ambiguous relationship land is my actual least favorite.

Why am I meeting his best friend?

Why does his best friend's opinion matter?

Why are we seeing each other (slightly) more often?

And why is he doing cute things like pushing my hair out of my eyes and telling me it's a good to see me?

And I AM A GIRL AND I NEED TO ANALYZE ALL THESE THINGS TO DEATH BECAUSE I HAVE ALL THESE FEEEEEEEEELINGS.

Unrelated to all these things, I worked 13 hours today even though it's the day my pastry cook came back from being on vacation. I don't know either. Also I had potato chips for dinner even though I'm starting a juice cleanse on Monday. The world has been muffled all week. If you understand that statement, I am glad for the company, though also sorry. If you don't, I can't explain it. My room is a mess. I misread my DIGITAL scale all week and thought I had gained back five pounds instead of losing five pounds. I will clean my room tomorrow and I will pay to have somebody else do my laundry and I will have dinner with my family and I will start drinking all the juice on Monday and life will come back in focus again. I think. I think that's how it works.

But now, it's time to go the fuck to sleep.

Letting Trouble into my Bed (Part One)

HI FAMILY! This one mentions sex, so there's that.

Saturday night I went out with a friend (the kind with benefits... yeah, apparently I lied in my last post) who we're going to call Trouble.

Here's the thing about Trouble, Trouble is cute and ludicrously charming and hilarious. He's a flirt and he always buys my drinks. Our deadpan sarcasm is so evenly matched that we have entire conversations during which I'm not sure either of us knows if we're being serious.

Trouble is another feral cat. While we can talk for hours, we rarely talk of anything of importance. Since Trouble is a childhood friend of a friend (and from comments he's made to me) I know he really doesn't do relationships. That's fine. I know where we stand. I know about once a month he'll text me, we'll spend time together, I'll head home the next morning and not think about him until at some point I'll realize it's been about a month and vaguely wonder if we're doing that whole sex thing still. Without fail, right in the midst of me going on a responding to every message on OkC binge, he'll text, we'll meet up... repeat, repeat, repeat.

I'm a little terrified the arrangement is starting to change. You see, on my birthday, I let Trouble come home with me, not the other way around. I let Trouble into my bed. I am very weird and very particular about who gets to come into my space. For the most part I avoid bringing people home with me. If you've seen pictures of my room I've posted various places then you know that it is full of photos and quotes written on chalkboard contact paper and a giant chart of my goals for the month. My yoga mat is always unrolled on the floor, my ridiculous number of shoes are on display and all my favorite books live here. In short, my room can tell somebody a lot about me that I might not tell them. Trouble's room is the opposite, his room is just as guarded as he is. But he had a friend staying with him who apparently refuses to sleep on the couch, so we went back to my house. And I made a big fucking deal out of it.

"So basically it's like you're letting me into the inner sanctum?"

"Yes"

He could tell I was a little terrified and I was drunk enough to let it show.

"Also, it's kind of a mess right now, I haven't put everything aways since getting back from California"

"I don't care, fuck, I'll help you clean it, I get to see you naked"

(Why doesn't this deal work in actual relationships? MARRY ME NOW, TROUBLE)

I woke up in the morning curled up against him, it's later than I know he was planning on leaving and he's grinning at me.

"What?"

He looks at his phone, "shit, I have to go".

I groggily watch him pull his clothes on before he kisses me and says "thanks for letting me stay over" and smiling.

For a moment, even though I should know better, my heart melts.

Bits & Pieces (the second)

Social Life/BiSC:

In the last week, I met Adam, Sara and Bob, which means, along with Rachael, Dominique and Nicole, I have met 10% of the people I'm going to Las Vegas with in May. And I have to say if everybody is both as awesome and attractive as those six in real life, it's going to be the most overwhelmingly amazing experience I've had in a long time. Also, I'm really gonna have to bring my A game.

I made some moderately stupid decisions in the last week so that I could meet those people. And by moderately stupid, I mean I went out twice in the last week once knowing I was getting sick and once knowing I was still sick and should be sleeping instead. The result was working with a fever last Sunday and feeling likc if I had to stand for one more second past ten hours of work I might die for most of the week. But you know what? That's the great thing about being an adult. I consciously made those decisions knowing they weren't the best idea and I accepted the consequences and the only asshole to blame was myself. And then I spent pretty much all of yesterday in bed, spent today at AMNH and wandering through Central Park, came home, took a nap because that's what my body said we should do and pretty much feel like a human again. So I think, overall, worth it.

CA v NY:

It turns out you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take the California out of the girl. My pastry cook is giving up cigarettes, soda and fast food for Lent and everybody tells her it's crazy while I'm like "that's awesome, it's really not that bad". And not to pat myself on the back for not having bad habits I never picked up, I just call that normal life. I think most of my friends back home do too. It still weirds me out that the chefs I work with eat fast food. In fact I'm so not used to people eating fast food (with the obvious exception of In'n'Out) that even non chefs eating fast food surprises me. I mean, this week I'm concerned that I'm eating organic yoghurt from humanely treated cows and bread made at a coop because they come all the way from California and I think that's a perfectly normal way to think about food. I guess it's all relative to what you're used to. Hella NorCal, yo.

Boy Stuff:

I really will make out with anyone when I'm drunk. Pretty sure Sara asked me if I would make out with like 5 different people the other night and I said "yes" everytime. Sober me would not have said "yes" that many times. Sober me is now back in charge of my love life. The "don't get drunk on the first date" rule that Michelle gave me is now in effect. Despite being single for a whole year my friends have been shocked the last few weeks when they've asked about my dating situation because there currently is none. At all. Haven't gone on a date in three weeks. There are no boys that I'm currently regularly sleeping with. (I know, it's weird for me too) I am however, currently writing 6 paragraph messages to a guy on OkC that I genuinely want to be friends with. Or more. But most of the time when I go on dates from OkC I'm kind of forcing myself and I feel like I'm putting myself in such a contrived situation because I don't know if I would always go on dates if I had met the guy IRL whereas this guys seems like somebody I would actually hang out with in the real world. So that's possibly exciting.

New Year's Goals:

I'm currently losing weight at a rate of approximately two pounds a month. Did you know I was trying to lose weight? Probably not. Mostly because I think it's the most boring thing ever to read about on other peoples' blogs and because I'm a small person I feel like people will want to punch me in the face if I complain about my weight. But look y'all, I'm a chef which means my weight has actually been somewhat of a constant struggle since I went through culinary school. It also means part of the reason I don't weigh a lot more with what I eat is because I am on my feet cooking for ten frakking hours a day and lifting fifty pound sacks and running up and down the GD stairs. Anyways, with some portion control and stopping to make myself eat actual food instead of just randomly putting whatever cookie is closest at hand in my mouth when I realize I'm starving, I'm slowly but surely losing weight and starting to feel a lot better about my body and not hate the way every piece of clothing I put on fits. Which is good, because I really don't have enough money to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Dairy is the devil. I've gone back to pretty much cutting it out entirely and feel so much better on a day to day basis.

I'm still obsessed with Blue Print Cleanse juices but have mostly just been incorporating them into my regular diet instead of going all out cleanse. I would like to do another three day cleanse soon though.

Random shit:

I read all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy in two days. I would've liked it better if they hadn't been written in such a way that it only took me two days to read them. This is why I don't usually read YA books. Good stories aren't enough, I want to read that sentence that rings so very true my heart aches, that expresses an emotion so perfectly I'm knocked on my ass. I will say that it was a good story and will probably make a pretty enjoyable movie.

Best for last: My new work schedule is 10 am-8ish pm which means I might get to have a social life again. I've only had it for a week, but I think I might love it. I'm still alternating between having Sunday/Monday off and Thursday/Sunday off, which is really weird but the new hours might make it manageable.

Viva Las Vegas

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The first time I went to Las Vegas, I was 21. It was me, six friends and one hotel room. We spent most of the time mildly (or more than mildly) inebriated, I won a bucket of quarters (at the Tropicana, probably the last casino to give you buckets of change, I don't know whether or not they've finally upgraded to those boring paper slips) and we saw Love. We spent a three day weekend there, it was fun and at the end I was ready to go home and maybe not go back to Vegas for a few years.

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The second time I went to Vegas was two years later, for a bachelorette party. There were six girls in two rooms. We flew. Moving on up in the world. We were older and less poor, so we spent less time drinking forties on the strip and more time collecting all the novelty cups. We went to the top of the Eiffel tower, walked up and down the entire strip and took advantage of every offer of free booze and wristbands for clubs. Per usual, I took advantage of every opportunity to wear clothing you will never see me wear outside of Vegas. (See: sequins and everything from Forever 21) My biggest regret was not buying a sparkly flask. I'm pretty sure if that's your biggest regret when leaving Sin City, you're doin' alright. Once again, I was there for a three day weekend, and at the end I was ready to leave.

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Fast forward another two years and we get to Vegas trip three. I can't find any of the items needed to get pictures off my own camera, so here's a picture my aunt took of my little brother and me right before my mom's wedding. Yes, I'm using the term little in reference to his age obviously. I'm wearing 4" heels in this picture. True story. (Also, no, neither of us are adopted. Yes, he is my half brother. In case you just thought he was really tan which is something one of my friends actually said once. Anyways....) Vegas trip three confirmed what I already suspected, the Las Vegas strip is really overwhelming and kind of awful if you're not at least mildly inebriated and wearing sequins. But I got to spend a lot of time with my little brother, eat some good food with my family and my mom got married by Elvis looking the happiest I've ever seen her. This time I was really only there for two full days and I was ready to leave. (Oh, and I bought a sparkly flask)

You may have noticed that I like to wait two years between Vegas trips. That seems to be about the time I'm ready for the ridiculousness again. But not this year. This year, I'm going back for Bloggers in Sin City. Four days of fun and turning internet friends into real life friends.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned how thankful I am for this blog sometimes. I might not have the shiniest fonts or the largest group of followers and most of my posts don't even get comments, but I know it's made me some amazing friendships and afforded me some crazy wonderful opportunities. (Hello, being able to move to New York. Hello, all the friends I've made since moving across country)

And one of my favorite internet people turned in real life people is Nicole (ok, who am I fooling, basically all my internet people are my favorite people, but Nicole understood when I moved across country so fast I has to MAIL her her copy of the first season of Grey's Anatomy even though we only lived an hour apart in California, so you know, I don't know where I'm going with this anymore, except Nicole is great) who is the BiSC founder and organizer so I mean, obviously I've been wanting to go to this for a few years now. What makes it even better, is that Paper'd, the pretty awesome looking wallpaper app coming from Nicole and her lovely Shatterboxx partner, is refunding one person's registrationg fee! Seriously, registration fee, completely refunded and I want it. Because my tax return is probably going to be pretty great, but I'd rather spend it on sequined dressed to wear in Vegas.

So fine, yes, I just made you read an entire blog post so that I could maybe win a free spot to BiSC. But also BECAUSE OH MY GOD CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT GOING TO BiSC?!?!?!?!

Yep.

Don't know what I did next, all I know is I couldn't stop

So you might've noticed I've been a little depressed lately.

Or maybe a lot depressed.

It's always surprising how far you can get from normal before you realize it. And you never really realize quite how far gone you were until things start to equalize again.

Last month started off rough with my week of puppysitting that left an already drained me even more drained and exhausted and only seemed to go downhill from there.

There was A LOT of retail therapy. A LOT of drinking. A lot of poor impulse control. I almost got kicked out of a bar for the first time in my life. I almost went home with a stranger from a bar for the first time in my life. I couldn't stop crying on my commute to work. I ran off the N train to vomit on the tracks at Queensboro plaza on my way to work the morning after Halloween.

I was crashing and burning hard. And I knew it. But it's like I was outside myself watching. Every other sentence out of my mouth I was thinking "why the fuck did you just say that?". I just observed myself eat food that would make me feel like shit. I let myself down drink after drink to numb myself or relax or who the fuck knows what, knowing I would regret it the next morning.

I got to the point where I was treating my body like such crap and trying so hard to keep a smile on face that all the muscles around my right shoulder blade spasmed, my lower back was so tight that just sitting down was painful, everything I ate made me feel nauseous and my TMJ was so bad I didn't even want to eat in the first place. My insomnia was back in full swing, no doubt fueled by the alcohol and I was probably averaging about four hours of sleep a night. I seemed to be constantly be battling some sort of ear/throat infection.

I spent a fair amount of last week locking myself in bathrooms to quietly cry for a few moments before pulling myself back together. Until finally, Thursday, when I got in bed, I realized I only had to make it through one more day of work before a four day weekend, before I didn't have to keep any of it together anymore and that thought was so liberating that I just started sobbing. Sobbing like the world was ending. The big, heaving, choking sobs of a child. I made it through my short day on Friday. Again, going to bed and crying.

Saturday was my roommates' wedding and it was lovely and adorable and they looked so amazingly happy and I was so incredibly happy for them and still, there I was, stealing away to the bathroom to sob, blot my eyeliner, reapply my lipstick and then go back to the dancing.

Thankfully, Sunday rolled around and I spent the day in bed. Ordered in. Relaxed and spaced out with Hulu and Netflix instant watch knowing the next day I had a massage scheduled first thing and juice getting delivered later. I started to feel, if not happy, somewhat at peace, not bitter, not depressed, not like I was constantly at war with myself.

Monday I had my massage, came home and started my three day Blue Print Cleanse. I did the lowest level cleanse, but were I to do it again, I would probably do the intermediate because for some reason I had a really hard time getting down the Carrot, Apple, Beet juice that's in the basic cleanse even though it mostly was gingery delicious. I really wasn't hungry for most of the cleanse and I finally stopped feeling nauseous and bloated constantly. By Tuesday I was finally starting to really feel like a normal human being again. I cleaned my room, changed my sheets did a ridiculous amount of laundry and went to a yoga class that kicked my ass but in the best way possible.

Today, back at work, was ok. It was hard to resist the siren call of fresh baked bread in favor of juice, but I powered through. The day goes by a lot faster when my entire body doesn't hurt and really, right now, there's not that much to be stressed about, so work shouldn't be a big deal.

I don't think I feel like I'm at 100% yet, but I feel a lot less like I'm struggling to keep myself from a breakdown. It's good enough. For now.

A reminder to practice non attachment or hyper vigilance, I'm not sure which.

So Monday (which is my Sunday) was kind of just an all around good day, a "if this isn't nice, I don't know what is" sort of day (to borrow a phrase from Mr. Vonnegut). The kind of day that makes you think, "if this is how my weeks going to go, I'm fucking golden, bitches". There was good hanging out time, there was good finding the perfect practical black purse that could also be dressed up and was on crazy sale time (I actually did not own a black purse before yesterday, crazy right?), there was buying a really cute iPhone cover time and there was good eating leftover Chinese food time.

Have I made the point that Monday was full of win yet? FULL OF MOTHERFUCKING WIN.

So obviously, the universe was like "hey, that's a little too much being satisfied with life for you" and decided that maybe it would be fun if this morning, while I was on the train to work, some asshole ran into the train, grabbed my phone from my hands and ran back out before I could even react. Yes, I'm that idiot on the train at 3:30am with their phone out. Also, so is everyone else on the train. All fucking four of them. I was just closest to the door. Or maybe because my phone was obviously the prettiest with its brand new adorable polka dot case. Yeah. I shouldn't have bought the case, that was clearly just tempting fate. Damn you polk dots and your siren call.

I suppose as far as having something stolen from you, it was fairly innocuous. No being threatened bodily harm or anything. However, I'm kind of nervous every morning on the way to work because it's 3:30am and I'm 5'2" and female and that doesn't really lead to me feeling particularly safe, so the phone thing, it kind of pushed me over the edge. Walking over the bridge, a bicyclist whistled at me, I'm pretty sure in a "I'm going to pass you" kind of way but it sounded like a catcall and I immediately felt my body go straight into flight mode before I turned around and saw it was just some harmless hipster dude on a bike. I spent the rest of the walk to work going into my ProAct training. How would group home worker Alana deal with a crisis situation? Slow breathes. Unclench my fists. Full on panic attack averted.

My hands were shaking the entire morning. Not the best for baking. When my boss came to pick up the pastry I was so frazzled I barely said two words to her, not thinking about the fact that the place I keep the menu for the week is in my email, which requires me having my phone. Of course I go to figure out my prep for the day and realize I have no idea and more importantly I'm totally freaked out that I haven't yet stopped service on my phone and reported it missing (there's no phone or computer at work, it's a production kitchen) so I went all the way back home dealt with that shit and then went back to work.

So far in this story, Tuesday is not full of win. In fact, I think it's safe to say, Tuesday is full of fail. Really full of it.

Luckily, I'm not really adult and am still on a family plan. Also luckily, I set up all of my grandparents' online accounts for frickin everything, so I went online and saw that all of the phone lines that were not mine were available for an upgrade and emailed my grandma and got permission to use one of them to make it so I could actually buy a new phone.

I headed over to my uncle's to pick up an old phone to activate in case for some reason I couldn't walk out of the store with a replacement iPhone and we went on a journey to AT&T where I had to add myself as an authorized account user using my magical I set up everything online skills before the guy would let me make account decisions, which was kind of hilarious. No, I can't sell you a phone, but you can change who the authorized users are online if you have access...

And then my uncle bought my phone.

Because my family is awesome.

Grandma's upgrade + uncle's credit card means I went less than 24 hours without an iPhone.

So while, I can't say Tuesday isn't still primarily full of fail, it's definitely got some win to it.

Anxious about getting on the train in the morning though. Attempt at sleeping didn't work out so well. Obviously.

I want snuggles.

I'm gonna drink myself to death

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If everybody could just tweet me, or text me, or send me a postcard every so often that says "Don't forget to smell the roses," that would be awesome. Another option for what to write: JUST SLOW THE FUCK DOWN.

Because really, I just need to slow the fuck down. I've completely unintentionally embraced a work hard, play hard lifestyle and I kind of love it, but I'm also pretty sure that I'm gonig to crash and burn pretty hard if I don't take a second to breathe. But everything is going so well. I've got a couple of career game changer things going on that I'm not going to write about until things are a little more certain, I'm spending time with friends I've made and making new ones and I'm even, maybe, ready to get back into the dating game.

That's right, it may be time for me to revive my OkCupid profile. Primarily so I can make snarky tweets about the guys that message me, of course.

But let's recap my last couple of weeks.

I worked for twelve days straight, mostly nine or ten hour days starting at 4am. Some days I managed to make myself go to sleep early, but I also refused to be completely without a social life, this is really hard when all you really have time to do is eat, work and sleep. And hopefully fit some showers in. After those twelve days I had a three day weekend and went to Boston (don't worry, there's still more Boston recap to come in another post, I know you're fascinated by it) which was pretty low key and relaxing just because the pace of Boston is so so different from New York (Boston, it was nice while it lasted, but I don't think there's really a future for us, my heart belongs to another) but also involved waking up early (just because that's how I do now, not really intentionally), walking everywhere, brief afternoon rests and then back out for night time activities. I slept a solid eight hours each night though. Monday, the 4th, I got home around 6 and made myself get in bed promptly, but fireworks kept me up until around 10:30 so I got about four hours of sleep. I probably could have knocked out my production on Tuesday in eight hours, but I was exhausted and I was moving a little like a zombie and it took me nine. From work I went straight to my friends to help her grocery shop and cook for an engagement party she was throwing the next day. I left her house around 9:30 pm. I slept for four hours. I went to work again. Wednesday I was asleep by 7pm!!!! That means 7.5 hours of sleep which felt like fourteen. It was amazing. Thursday I worked and then came home and chilled out, blogged a bit and then realized I needed to transform myself into a person that can be seen outside of the kitchen because it was MUSEUM TWEETUP TIME! The tweetup didn't even start until my bedtime, of course, and then afterwards, since I figured I wasn't going to get much sleep anyways, I went and got drinks with people. Except then it reached a point where I realized I wasn't going to get any sleep at all because if 2:30am is your wake up time and it's already 1... So I went to work without having slept. Right?! Right?! Holy fuck, what is wrong with me? Dear me, chill out. I passed out promptly after work for 6 hours, woke up for a few, went back to sleep. Still, I probably only got ten hours of sleep in 48 hours. Doing it wrong. So yesterday I worked my normal nine hour day, went home for a couple of hours, changed myself from a cherry juice covered monster into a respectable young lady and went to visit the folks at Stellina and give them all ridiculous lobster souvenirs from Boston. I had drinks and dinner with a friend and her brother and was back home by around 10:20.

I layed down on my bed for what I thought would be five minutes. And fell asleep. In my jeans. Yeah, I passed out, fully clothed at 10:30pm on a Saturday, which is why it's now 9:30am on a Sunday and I've already gotten coffee, bought laundry detergent, painted my toe nails bright red and am about to go back to the laundromat to get my washed AND dried laundry. I feel like I have an infinite amount of time today and I don't know what to do with it. Plus, I have tomorrow off too! I really don't know what to do with myself.

And I'm pretty sure if I've reached the point where two days off with no plans seems like I have an insane amount of time, I really need to check myself before I wreck myself.

Things That Remind Me I'm on the Other Side of the Country, Part 1

So here's the thing New York, this thing you call a beautiful Spring... In Northern California we call this Winter, also Spring and Fall. I mean, I can understand after months of freezing snow and no trash being picked up, this alternation between warm enough to sit on the roof, read and get sunburned and 60s and pouring rain must seem pretty awesome, because at least there's not snow, but this is not actually awesome. The tulips everywhere are pretty and I've always wanted an excuse to own a trenchcoat, so I'll put some points back in the plus column for those things.

Other things going in the New York plus column right now:

1. Public transit. It goes everywhere. And it goes everywhere late at night. I mean, you might have to wait for a while, but there is at least one train line running to where you want to go. As somebody that  needed to take the M home late at night in San Francisco and also didn't live remotely near any Owl buses and was afraid of walking far in my neighborhood because I didn't want to get killed by the people dealing drugs in the middle of the street (yeah, Oceanview!), I really really love this. I double love this because:

2. Late nights. I have a tendency to not notice how late it is, because everything is still open. Ok, not everything. But restaurants, bars, drug stores, food carts, are all still open at 2am and that is awesome. Or not awesome when I realized that I can't judge time by how many people are still out and about and I actually need to be on my way to work in 4 hours. If I didn't have to open both weekend days and made a lot more money, this would basically be the best/worst thing ever. New York City clearly wants me to be an alcoholic, because if you think I can resist being able to eat $.99 pizza and drink at 3am on a regular basis, you are wrong and the fact that you can keep getting food, just makes it that much easier to keep drinking.

3. Bodegas. Not that we don't have corner stores in California, but I almost never go to them. Probably because there's real grocery stores nearby to almost everywhere but since grocery stores here mostly suck (a lot) I might as well buy things from bodegas and fruit stands because they're right there, and often cheaper. Especially the fruit stands.

4. Coffee carts. This really goes in both the plus and minus columns. Plus because when I want a $1 coffee at 7am because I know the baristas at work won't be ready to make me a cappuccino until 10, there are coffee carts to supply me with my caffeine fix. Minus because I'm pretty sure this is part of the reason New Yorkers are not coffee snobs. The coffee from coffee carts is worth the $1 you pay for it. It tastes like coffee from Denny's at 3am on a Wednesday.

5. Diners. My favorite diners at home (Rudy's Cant Fail in Emeryville, Sparky's in SF and Howard's Cafe in Occidental) aren't really true diners. I love them. A lot. But my favorite thing at Rudy's is The Tower of Power which has MorningStar Farms "sausage" patties and none of those diners can really be put in the cheap greasy spoon category. There are diners everywhere here. Real diners. $7 eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, orange juice and crappy coffee breakfast special diners. I mean no, I don't really know how all the food was grown/raised to allow the prices to be so cheap, but if I can't have farm to table every day, I'll settle for the opposite. I really can't emphasize enough how I only know how to do extremes. (Seriously, I didn't have any home made chicken broth the other day, so I ate Top Ramen, I don't think this is how normal people operate)

Next up: Things in the minus column.