Tag Archives: advice

things you learn at twenty-two {so far};

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1. relationships and friendships should never be kept alive based solely on how  you both really love paul simon’s album graceland. get a grip; everyone dug graceland, everyone will always love graceland, and anyone who doesn’t love graceland is a robot at the core.  this means once they take a big dump on your heart/ question you buying that one denim skirt with patchwork and tassles that you love because it’s so ugly it’s cute, they should not get immunity because “boy in the bubble” is their jam.
 

i know, it’s a great album. and it’s hard. i know. but they refused to step on your back that one time you really needed your back cracked/ they ate a loaf of your bread without replacing it/they told you you smelled like a dog once, and that’s not a true friend.

 

2. most things can be resolved with watermelon.israeli-palestinian conflict? give those dudes some watermelon. people hating on gay marriage? sounds like they need some fresh, juicy watermelon to cool those hot heads down.

 

3. the only way to walk your dogs is by imagining you are in homeward bound. except not the sad parts. you can imagine the cat-running-from-a-mountain-lion parts, but not the injured-golden-retriever-in-a-ditch-in-an-abandoned-railroad parts.

 

4. navy and bright orange totally go together. eff the haters.

 

5. putting every little, tiny milestone in your life on facebook is reeeeeally annoying to most people around you and i’m not sure you want everyone to know for genuine reasons. i’m glad you got an internship/passed a kidney stone/your baby stopped barfing, but i know you’re just hurting for some likes. be silently content with the lack of baby vomit in your life by yourself. it’s a much cuter look, i think.

 

6.  just because you have four “$4 off your next $20 purchase at cvs!!!!!” coupons does not mean you should spend all of them on orange coconut waters and expired 50% off easter candy.and apricot face wipes. and little flossers that you might have bought because they look like violin bows for kittens.

 

7. princess diaries was meant to be watched twice in one day. that’s the serving size.  dont deprive yourself of this pleasure.

 

8.you really only need one to three good friends. these can include your mom, your dog who has a habit of finding old condoms on walks to the sketchy park where high schoolers go after dark, and your cat that likes to hold hands more than most things. it can also include the cvs man who calls you “sweetheart”. whatever.

 

9. science museums are much, much, much more fun than ragers.


 

10. you’re twenty-two and you still don’t know how to make a bread bowl? what a waste. you could be eating your dishes by now. maybe by twenty-three you’ll know.

anorexia at a distance;

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{in honor of neda week, i have a thought or two about my experience with anorexia nervosa}

when i wrote my “i binged on fun at remuda ranch” series (part one. two. three.) last year,  i was hoping to reach people, to change their minds, to shake things up in terms of what people think of eating disorders. what i got was not only an outpouring of love from readers, strangers, and middle school acquaintances. it’s my most-read piece, by far, and the fact that scared mothers who googled this issue and read everything they could do to help their daughter or son beat one of these nasty disorders and found this piece through the magic of the internet   touches me on a daily basis.

sometimes people shift in their stance or seat when i tell them that in the span of my anorexia lies one of the best collections of moments in my life. it’s also the reason why i got the above tattoo (dewey decimal number for harry potter #7, as the night i bought it was the first time i’d left my house in months/decided to recover). the three months i spent riding a glorified donkey at a po-dunk ranch in arizona with 40 other girls were some of my favorite to date. to this day, i haven’t found a more supportive bunch of girls with which to high-five about bowel movements, getting your period, or whenever that hottie psychiatrist decided to come and do rounds. i would say that sharing woes of having a feeding tube at the dinner table, being forced to drink milkshakes, and falling asleep during church six times a week would have been a lot less fun had it not been for the group of overly-medicated girls i lived with. and oh, were we medicated.

sometimes i want to shake people around so that they’ll know that because i had a nasty, little eating disorder doesn’t mean that i was somehow made more delicate, more difficult to handle, like i have a huge “handle me with care” stamped on my back that i’m unaware of.
when i returned to school after missing the first eight months of my freshman year of high school, i felt like a white elephant. i was hugged tightly, but not too tightly. i was invited out, but i could feel the compulsory nature of it. i could tell that nervous mothers had brought up the idea at first. i could feel the stretch of having to fabricate an entirely new personality and set of memories for the last 8 months get to me. there was no one to share my experiences with, no one who could listen and not feel discomfort, even thought my time in treatment was largely one of the most special experiences of my life. they didn’t accept what they thought was just “a brave face.” 

when i finally got the courage to eat in front of people, i could feel the need of others to ask me how i got to the point where i was eating a yogurt in pubic. “but anorexic people don’t eat anything, i thought,” i could hear them want to say. i always wanted to laugh at that notion. i always wanted to say “of course, we eat. that’s all we do.” but i knew that would get met with some concerned looks. you see, all anorexics eat. it’s all we do, because we can’t do anything else. this is not to say food is our obsession, it’s just a placeholder for something larger, something darker, and something a lot hairier or more difficult to distinguish.

we don’t all want to be these fainting, anorexic ballerinas. we didn’t “give ourselves an eating disorder”. sometimes getting to 89 lbs was an accident on the way to getting perfect, manageable, or someone who didn’t inhabit very much space. you want to compartmentalize your entire being, and eating a few hundred calories a day allows you to fade away for a bit. you think you’ll get over it. you think you can just stop as soon as you feel better, but the best you feel is when you trick yourself into staying home, because you know as soon as you leave your house you might hurt someone, distress them, or make them upset.

if anything,  beating my eating disorder has made me want to muckrake more. i wasn’t always like this, i can tell you that. i wanted the deep, un-awkward hugs. i wanted the invitations to friends’ houses without hesitation or motherly intervention.  i wanted to be the furthest extension away from an “anorexic girl”, whatever that was to me back then. but then i realized i was doing the least i could do to the girls who, like me, had no one come up in google to make me feel like the little angry man inside my head would get quiet. no success story. no chance of survival, when i wasn’t sure if i did anymore, if it meant a life of 40 calorie rations of slippery turkey slices, no-calorie peanut butter, and the horror of finding out that ketchup and toothpaste had calories.

i don’t necessarily to cause someone distress, but i want them to know that the way we think about eating disorders right now is not productive or even factually true. google searches only arise more conflicting opinions, testimonials where you will “never fully get better”. talks with insecure girls in the  high school bathroom about how their friends look “anorexic” and ask how they can, too, just backtracks us back ten years. the more girls get recovered, the more they want to be quiet about their recovery, they are afraid of the misconceptions of anorexia, bulimia, and the myriad monsters that fall under the eating disorder diagnosis.

we need to make sure that the next set of girls with one of these nasty disorders have heard us clearly, that they know there is something beyond this. those of us that are quiet and recovered need to get louder. a lot louder.


post-grad reading list;

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the other night i had the pleasure of meeting a really kindred spirit in the unlikely place of a new frozen yogurt shop  where i was attending a babysitters-parent networking event (feel free to laugh. this is my normal.) we hit a lull in the event, the other babysitters really weren’t talking to other babysitters and hardcore ENFP that i am, i just couldn’t handle not talking to other human beings.

i ended up talking to the girl next to me, a nice, bubbly post-grad and we shortly began gabbing to our hearts content about work, preferred take-out restaurants (indian food court restaurant @ the pru/ chili duck) and the like. admittedly, she met me on a rough day of realizing hey, i don’t think i want to work a job in my major (which tends to happen when you just got finished with a two hour lecture on paper.) and hey, maybe i want to do this one really “unpractical” thing that i’ve always wanted to do since i was eight. and hey, i’m graduating this year and i’m very scared i might have to work at a quiznos. 

the girl was the best part of the event. since my post-grad woes had been distracting me all week (and also the coordinator of the event mistook me for a mom as soon as i walked in the door, grumblegrumblegrumble) i was feeling a bit disgruntled and distracted. “you don’t have to work in your major!” she said, calmly. “you can literally do anything you want,” she said after hearing my questions about post-grad life. and then i thought about all the books i’ve read in the past few years or so that said the same, stupidly simple little reminder that i’ve heard a million times, both in books and by multiple elementary school teachers. once again, i’m nope-ing to doing a job in my major because it’s “practical”. i’m nope-ing to working at quiznos. boom.

so for your reading pleasure (and because i hope/know i’m not alone in this feeling) here are some “hey, you don’t have to work at [insert fast food establishment here]“ book list for post-grad survival

100 demons by lynda barry (a coming of age omic book!)

great gals: inspired ideas for living a kick-ass life by summer pierre

the artist in the office: how to creatively survive and thrive seven days a week by summer pierre

i was told there’d be cake by slone crosley + my boyfriend wrote a book about me by hillary winston  + the new york regional mormon singles halloween dance by elna baker    (the three women who are essentially doing what i want to do, no biggie.)

the happiness project
 
by gretchen rubin (reading this right now and my mind is bubbling over with ideas, ya’ll.)

what i know now: letters to my younger self by ellen spragins (one of my dearest friend’s mothers gave me this book when i graduated high school and it is actually the best little nugget of wisdom i’ve ever received.)

 

{what are your favorite reads for the post-grad-i-don’t-know-what-i’m-doing-but-i’d-like-to-still-have-money-to-eat group?}

i just want to wear all the hats, please;

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{my preferred means of studying}

i’m gonna whisper this really softly in case i startle any of you.

i figured out i don’t want to apply to grad school. not this year at least. maybe not even in five years. maybe not ever. whatever.

in the spirit of 2013: the year of “nope” i’m saying nope to running wild with ideas i’ve half-convinced myself of going forward with. i’ve always loved learning. i sometimes will exclaim it to whomever is near me. “siiiiiiigh, i love learning,” which is usually met with an eye roll. the fact that i was never on the scripps spelling bee when i was in middle school is still a weak spot for me (i would definitely be one of the little dweebs that writes the word out with her finger and the back of her number pinned to her mom-picked-out-polo.)

 in typical mackenzie fashion, i get a really romanticized image of the future and run maniacally with it clutched in my grubby, little paws. and this is all looked nice when i put this on me.  it was convincing and comfortable and fit me well.  this image was of me wearing tweed and classy-lady blazers, stacks of books in hand, trying to get people into poetry by super pissed off american women in the 20th century (my favorite), glasses sliding down my nose, as my head falls in between the crack of a book.

and that’s cute and whatever, but then i got this itch. it was along the lines of “mackenzie, but you would have to go to grad school somewhere for six years minimum, you effing HATE sitting still, ya turd” and “goodbye, time to read teen chick lit,” as well as a simple “ugh, when would all the sleeping happen?”

because when it boils down to it, i’m afraid i won’t keep learning new things. which is actually stupid, considering on my year off i taught myself pre-calculus, bought a german workbook last summer, and read james und der riesenpfirsich last spring. to say i’ll never learn new things is like telling myself i will never eat a whole cookie pie by myself (#14 best decision of my life, actually.) i rushed into this tweed-filled daydream of mine because the younger mackenzies thought i wouldn’t hold up my side of the bargain, to always learn things.

i’ve always liked to wear many hats. happy mackenzie rushes from babysitting (paper hat, made by charley) her favorite two year-old homegirl(“i get to listen to ‘sweet baby james’ when i go poop on the potty!”- charley, on her love of the music of james taylor) and bakes orange cinnamon rolls (ratty white target beret), and reads poetry when she wants to, for fun (still the beret, but turned to the side all fancy-like), and ya fiction, for fun (let’s be real now), and picks apart things stories, and crochets absurdly thick scarves (ten gallon hat, to change things up), and sings when she does the dishes (a top hat), and makes horrible jokes (a bowler hat). and shedoesn’tliketoplananythinginadvancethankyouverymuch (no hat at all.)

and at this point my hat collection is wide and varied and  and going to grad school in the next year or two would be like wearing the same beret every day for the next year, and gosh darnit i want to wear a sombrero.

2013: the year of “nope”;

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i am a yes girl through and through. i say yes to new friends because, hey, new friends! i say yes to babysitting new kids for new families because, hey, money for me to blow on overpriced decaf americanos and concert tickets and ingredients to bake speculoos cookies! i say yes to including not-the-nicest people in my little world that might not be paying the adequate amount of rent money to inhabit that space, because yes is always best, right?! especially in this twenty-something female blog world, i can’t tell you how many times i’ve seen a twee little “say yes to life” message riddled among blog posts. and you know what?

nope. just….nope.

don’t get me wrong, i love that i am agreeable. i love that i can easily get myself excited about doing things that the people in my life love to do, because if they love it, what’s not to love? i love that excitement is something i can easily tap into, like a little maple tree that’s overflowing with sap a bit too much.

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but then i get tired. and i keep saying yes. because that’s who i am. and who would i be if i said no every once in a while? ergo, my inability to say no. my inability to say “ya know, i kind of wanna go by myself to this concert, if that’s okay” to the cross-armed wet-blankets of my world. my struggle to stay in, stay put, and stay still, wondering what might be going on in the city of beans. “what’s so wrong with having internship, class and babysitting from 10am-10pm on tuesdays?” i’d say to myself, stress-eating bowls of microwaved pan-asian noodle bowls and 50% of my daily sodium intake. and then i saw this cute little drawing and it all made sense. 

such things only get harder when you spent an semester interning and making event calendars, where your only goal was to glean the internet for the funnest of events going on outside (murder mystery scavenger hunts inside museums! ladysmith black mambazo concerts! oktoberfests out the wazoo!), bombarding you with things you “must” say yes to.

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this is to say i will say yes to only the things that add, not subtract. saying yes to baking speculoos cookies to the tune of the ronettes than overworking myself to hyper-rory-gilmore-ic tendencies (and we all know i tend to do that). yes to the worthwhile things (new issues of ploughshares read on the t, tacqueria dates, and my favorite two year olds). no to the  things that wear me down until i am cowering under my electric blanket with a bag of sweet potato chips and twilight zone episodes acquired from sketchy dutch tv websites. i’ll still be a yes lady, but with a couple dashes of “nope”.

appreciators to the right. haters to the left. its the year of nope, ya’ll, and you’re welcome to join along.

seven year old selves, a playlist;

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{click above picture of three year-old mackenzie for playlist, because seven year-old me had an unsightly white girl ‘fro}

like i said before, the sads don’t typically prey upon me in the winter, i’ll admit. but i also have a pretty unfair advantage for combatting the nasty little case of blues that seem to hover above  most people post-january 1st by having a conveniently late-winter birthday (ahem, march 7th. ahem. i’d love this sriracha sauce iphone case, ahem).

but sometimes, like most people who live in cities where the days look the same at 4am as they do at 4pm, it hits me. it really does. it sneaks up and settles in and asks to stay to take the chill off in my living room and i’m sometimes to nice to shoo it away from my threshold.

and i’m all about honesty on my little space on the internet. i get bummed, despite tales of lady-dates, dance parties, and lit-up bicycle rides. i get sad.  i feel like andre the giant is sitting on my chest at times. i wish i didn’t have #anemicgirlproblems and could feel the tips of my fingertips when gallivanting out in the cold. you know, the usual. nothing out of the ordinary. we all get it.

i sometimes think the origin of this sense of sads we get is when we get disconnected from whoever sits comfortably at the seat of your soul and monitors the goings on of things. i’ll notice i get disconnected to the little seven-year-old mackenzie that inhabits somewhere between my heart and my spleen (whatever, it’s prime real estate there). she’s the original, core mackenzie. she’s a fledgling mackenzie, but still the most authentic. the girl who knew more about  the proper way to attain skinned knees (rollerblading into mailboxes because she didn’t know how to stop, real talk),  than how to order replacement books of checks (ugh, the worst).

she gets angry when she doesnt get to break free and crunch on the snow, watch a disney channel original movie in the safety of her grandma chair, and eat a spoonful of marshmallow fluff right from the jar. spunk without inhibitions and thoughts of compensation, consequence, or outer perception. and she’s been bogged down lately. and its time to shake off the dust and get seven year old self to stretch out her legs, preparing her for another round of roller-blading mishaps.

so, if you’ll excuse me, seven-year-old mackenzie is getting very impatient waiting for me. classic seven year old self. so classic.

{berets and bongos} 95;

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{tampa. january 2012.}

“a thousand doors ago
when i was a lonely kid
in a big house with four
garages and it was summer
as long as i could remember,
i lay on the lawn at night,
clover wrinkling over me,
the wise stars bedding over me,
my mother’s window a funnel
of yellow heat running out,
my father’s window, half shut,
an eye where sleepers pass,
and the boards of the house
were smooth and white as wax
and probably a million leaves
sailed on their strange stalks
as the crickets ticked together
and i, in my brand new body,
which was not a woman’s yet,
told the stars my questions
and thought god could really see
the heat and the painted light,
elbows, knees, dreams, goodnight.”

-anne sexton, “young”.

{yah i know, i’ve been hard core anne sexton binging, but can you blame me? girl’s got style, ya’ll.}

{cycle love} winter cycling;

one of the questions i get asked the most is, “you bike everywhere? even in the winter? isn’t that, like, cold?” the next question i am asked in terms of frequency is, “why are you carrying around a bike helmet?” (i was once asked this questions four times in the matter of two hours on campus at emerson. emerson kids, context clues! come on! get with it! don’t make me roll my eyes at you! )

in some ways, people will put me up on this pedestal because i bike year-round in massachusetts. they think i’m somehow stronger than them, or faster,  or more able to dodge oncoming traffic. and i can tell you plainly and bluntly, i’m not. my bike was $100. i wear tights essentially every day that i bike (i’ve probably worn pants a record two times this season). my bike bell was free. i don’t use clip-in shoes on a thousand dollar racing bike. and biking in the city really isn’t that hard or scary as long as you find a route that makes you happy, has a bike lane, and you don’t run red lights that often (i’ll admit that i do, but only when it’s downright stupid not to, like if i am biking up a hill.)

i get winded. i yell expletives. i hum the tune of “it’s not my fault (it’s my fault)” whenever a car honks at me unjustly. but i also meet lovely bikers. nice drivers that let me pass them. kind police officers that make sure i’m safe on the road. get greeted by the twinkling citgo sign as i stroll through kenmore. smell wood-burning fireplaces on commonwealth as i bike home after class. and have such a wonderful routine of riding through brookline doing errands. i spend the $80 i would have spent being scowled at on the T each month on things i actually enjoy. i don’t have to go to the gym. i’m outside virtually all of the time. i get sun. i get happy.

one way i know i’m not a hipster cyclist is that i genuinely wish other people biked or enjoyed biking year round as much as i do. and not just on a road bike. you can bike on a schwinn or a bianchi or a tricycle. on road or off road on nature trails (just not on sidewalks or else i will roll my eyes at you.) with pants or without pants (i’m a skirt-wearing bicyclist through and through.) a lot of people say the cycling season is over at the end of november (ahem, hubway being taken out at the end of this month. ahem.) and i think that’s a shame. who’s to say the cycling season has to end?

oh, what’s that? you want tips on how to bike in the winter? oh, wow. who could see that coming?

1. wear what you’d wear normally. really. just keep a sweater in your bag rather than on you while you ride. you will sweat. you will glisten. it will be worth it.

2. bike lights. don’t be silly. it’s illegal to bike in boston without lights, and when you’re not biking with them, you can take them off and have a strobe light dance party. not that i’ve done this or anything.

3. need some winter inspiration? dottie from let’s go ride a bike rides year-round in chicago because she and her BFF in nashville made a challenge to bike year-round. homegirl always looks classy, too. and simply bike is actually the best at motivating me to bike in the cold (bikes year-round, with a baby, while she was getting her ph.d.)

4. my eyes always tend to water up a bit more during the winter. easy solution? wear my damn glasses, that i always forget i have. sunglasses also work, too. and you’ll look presh. double win.

5. bike shorts are your friend. and you don’t need to get fancy, padded ones. i use leggings, hand-me-down bike shorts, and get cheap spandex ones from tj maxx. you’ll slowly but surely find that you wear them even when you aren’t biking. whatever. it’s a thing.

biking in the wintertime

6. my typical biking outfit? this jacket (marked down a crazy amount at marshall’s.) + stretchy pencil skirt (i have a bunch of $5 ones from h&m that complete me heart and soul) + knee socks or sweater tights + flats or boots + helmet + my trusty timbuk2 bag that i love so much. and the above polyvore is a typical formula for my outfits.

7. even if you don’t want to start biking until spring, bikes are sooooooo much cheaper in the winter. my first bike (bought in august, not the highest quality bike, bought with a broken brake) was stolen in november of last year. i knew if i waited until december i could get a really nice one for super cheap. bada-bing-bada-boom, i got my peugeot, millie (previous name= mordecai), for $50 cheaper than my crappier bike, in perfect, just-fixed condition.

 in closing, don’t think that because you don’t have to bike more than five minutes to a place that it’s not a worthwhile ride. it can be to the grocery store down the street with some cute panniers (i want these sooooo bad), or your bff’s house across the river, or to your foot doctor appointment. just bask in the glistening you’ll be doing under your sweater, get your hand signals on, and be glad you get to stare at changing leaves on trees and not grumpy businessmen on the T.