Hey, Are You Single?

That was the subject line of an email that just popped into my inbox from a company called Zoosk.*

As a copywriter (with experience writing subject lines), I commend them. Questions are always a smart tactic and touching upon consumers’ pain points usually results in high open rates.

But, as a woman, NAH.

This is something I’ve been struggling with recently. I, myself, have no need (or interest) in letting someone new into my life, but the world around me seems to think it’s necessary. Every single day, I’m bombarded by messaging that suggests my life is incomplete unless I’m in a relationship.

Even my friends play into this messaging. Constantly demanding that I try out dating apps or drunkenly informing me that I am doing something wrong by not actively pursuing the D.

I have tried out some apps, but it was real hard to stay interested in anything that resulted in a twentysomething boy asking me if my parents had named me because of Helen Keller.

My name is Kellen…

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that I’m pretty freaking happy alone. Okay, I know this blog makes it seem otherwise, but when I’m not sending out emo vibes into the internet, I’ve got what you’d call a sunny disposition.

I’d like to also point out that I derive no greater pleasure from anything other than escaping to a quiet corner in a café to read or write by myself. 

Don’t get me wrong. I definitely love to party, but isn’t that what friends are for? And alcohol?

Of course, I understand the fact that humans are social creatures and, like, biologically I’m going to be driven to reproduce (how terrible is that word? Biology really freaks me out. Example A: the pregnancy belly button??? NO THANK YOU! I already have an unnatural fear of regular belly buttons, and I do not need mine to pop. Ever. Just one of my many quirky fears.)

But yes, I suppose I’ll someday want to grace this world with little mini me’s, because it’s my civic duty to introduce more amazing beings into the world, right? Haha. #Narcissism. 

But then again, even if I did find someone who got that libido shimmying, I’d lose interest the moment things started working out. There’s just something unhinged about a guy who’d enjoy watching twelve hour marathons of Lord of the Rings (extended edition, of course), would understand that pooping is a big part of my life, help me when I puke and turn into a zombie at music festivals, and let me listen to loud Irish bagpipes whenever I was trying to get pumped… 

And honestly, if you can still want to do the nasty after witnessing me like this, you’ve got some real issues.

So here’s my open letter to the world around me: let’s reclaim the word “spinster!” I’m ready to own the fact that I’m a crazy cat lady at the age of 26. (Sorry, mom).

Zoosk, to answer your question, Hellz yeah I’m single AF!!

*Did I sign up for Zoosk? I do not remember asking to be part of their flirting network. If I did, we can all disregard this post.

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Self-Esteem Tips for Anyone Whose Mom Says You Weren’t the Prettiest at Prom

In my last blog post, I kind of gave my dad a hard time. Yes, he did “LOL” at the fact that I’m unemployed, but in all fairness, the fact that someone like me (a person who’s terrified of breaking any routine) is suddenly completely free to do whatever the hell she wants… well, it just might be “LOL” worthy.

So, in order to even things out, I decided to write a post about something my mother did that was equally as disturbing for my self-esteem.

Join me as I travel back to the year 2008. My senior year, when Miss Independent was topping the music charts and Christian Bale’s Batman voice was still considered a bold move.

Prom was right around the corner and I knew exactly how I wanted to look. I was going to wear a black strapless Betsey Johnson dress, covered in sequins, with black Betsey Johnson pumps, criss-crossed around my toes.

As for my hair, I wanted finger waves, like a 1920s movie star, so that I could wear red lipstick and pretend I was Marion Cotillard.

The thing is, at the time, I lived on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and apparently, when you go to a salon in Kailua, Hawai’i, finger waves are too much to ask for… After being told that they didn’t know how to create this classic, elegant look, I decided to trust the professional hairdresser and let her create a Prom-worthy masterpiece.

The result? A rats nest with two jehri curls.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the proof:

Yes, I sat in a chair for an hour+ waiting for THAT. Yes, I did pay $75 for it because my fear of confrontation is so strong that I was unable to tell the woman that my hair scared me more than the stringy shit that covers the girl in The Ring.

As you can imagine, my self-esteem at this point was pretty unstable. But, after six (or maybe ten) gulps of champagne punch (and a quick hair wash), I was feeling pretty good again. I was in my dress, covered in sparkles, and the red lipstick was working out to my favor. My locks, though not styled in old-fashioned curls, were falling nicely around my ears, and I had a nice buzz going.

I went to prom, danced the night away, and stayed in a hotel with a huge group (sneakily stealing a room for just a small group of us). #Sorry to everyone who had to sleep on the floor in the other room.

When I came home the next day, I was still in a post-prom high! After a briefly awkward chat about whether or not I knew there was champagne in the punch, my parents and I started looking at pictures together on the computer.

“You’re all just so pretty,” my mom said, which is something I hear often and didn’t surprise me, “but Cienna…”

I stopped and looked at her, curious about what she was going to say about my best friend.

“She was just so beautiful!”

Okay, that was fine. She was just pointing out that one of my closest friends looked really pretty at our final school dance. That was great! My mom was being the sweet woman I knew her to be. But then she went on…

“Like you were pretty… but Cienna looked like a movie star!

“Okay?” I responded, because what else are you supposed to say when your mother, your own flesh and blood, the woman who birthed you (and watched Cheech’s Born in East LA to get through the labor) tells you that you not nearly as pretty as your best friend. Like, isn’t she, out of anyone in this entire world, supposed to love me most and think I’m the most beautiful girl ever? Isn’t that her biological duty or something? Who else is going to if she doesn’t??!!!!!

Not to mention the fact that I’d already been through a trauma; my hair had literally looked like someone had dug through a dumpster, found a big ol’ piece of trash, and stuck it onto the back of my head. I did not need to hear that my own mom didn’t think I was “movie star material” at my FINAL SCHOOL DANCE.

Jumping back to present day, I’d like us all to think about how this moment played into my current situation. You know, perhaps if I’d had a little more support with my self-confidence, I’d be applying to more positions and would be employed. I dunno. Not pointing any fingers. Just lettin’ that sink in for all of you.*

So, what are my tips? Never trust a hairdresser to create “fun prom hair,” drink a little less champagne punch, and remember that your mother is only one person, and you’re still pretty even if she doesn’t think you’re as pretty as your best friend…..

 

*My parents are amazing people and I totally take responsibility for my own self-worth and trust me, I really dig myself. Just wanted to even the playing field so my mom doesn’t feel bad after I totally trash talk my dad ;p

 

 

 

 

When You’re Unemployed and Your Dad Thinks It’s Funny…

After the Giants won their wildcard game, my Dad thought unemployment was a great topic of conversation…

Remember those days when you were young and you thought your parents were these all-powerful beings. They could do no wrong and were always there to save you when things went bad. If someone was picking on you at school or you couldn’t figure out a homework assignment, your parents were always there to help out.

Then you hit your mid-twenties (OMG officially late twenties for me), and suddenly they expect you to take care of yourself!

How the heck did this happen? When did my problems become my problems and not ours? I know, I’m a spoiled brat, but I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that I have sole responsibility of myself. WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA???

Last night, I was sitting at the Irish Bank in San Francisco’s Financial District. I had done a couple freelance assignments, and was able to afford two whole drinks: one at Rickhouse on Kearny and then a Guinness at Irish Bank. Crazy, right?

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The Giants game was playing—it was a wildcard game against the Mets—and so there was quite a bit riding on it. Maybe because it’s an even year or maybe just because #sports, the Giants ended up winning the game!

That’s when I got the text that would really cheddar my pretzels; tick me right off! Keep in mind, my father knows that my company no longer exists and that his only daughter needs a job STAT…

Dad: The Giants just won. You going to any playoff games?

Me: No, dad. I’m poor… haha

Dad: LOL hope you get a job soon

LOL?? LOL???? LOL????? Dad I’m fucking floundering over here and all you have to say is LOL?????? Not even an “I believe in you” follow up. Simply LOL and hope you figure your shit out soon.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT?

This is my life now. Search for a new place of employment while keeping my father laughing in the meantime…

Wish me luck?

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Me and Cienna at a World Series game two years ago…when I was not poor…

If a Freelancer Jumps Off a Cliff, Should I?

As I toy with the idea of becoming a freelancer, my mind becomes more jumbled and I’m filled with terrifying yet exciting curiosity.

I’m currently sitting at a Starbucks downtown, but it feels as though I’m standing at the edge of a precipice. Of course, if I were actually on a cliff, I probably wouldn’t have a tall chile mocha beside me nor the soft acoustic sounds of coffee shop music floating along the airwaves, but still… the point is that I feel like I’m on a ledge somewhere and that I’m pretty unstable.

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Don’t worry, I’m not totally depressed. It’s just that recently my job came to an end, and I haven’t had the best time dealing with it. Also, my ability to accept the uncertainties in life is nearly nonexistent. I want rules, guidance, and a plan! I know, not the most exciting personality type, but Capricorns need love too, guys.

So What’s Next?

Now that I’m on the job hunt again, I’ve discovered the most terrifying secret of all—what they don’t tell you when you graduate from college with a BA in Creative Writing: Freelancing is a viable option.

This, of course, should not be terrifying at all. It’s exciting to have the option of controlling your own schedule, workload, etc. But when I think about vying for assignments, managing my finances, and TAXES, I start to lose my shit. Like really lose my shit.

True story: last year I thought I owed the government $5,000. I, of course, have never even seen $5,000 so I was in a complete state of panic.

Turns out, I’d simply forgotten that I’d worked at a second company that year, and the government actually owed me money, but still. How the hell am I supposed to figure out what I owe who, where, and why if I’m a fuckin’ self-managing FREELANCER?

As I sit here typing away on my computer, I’m riddled with anxiety over whether or not this is my next step. There are pros and there are cons, and I can’t figure out which outweighs the other. I’m a writer; math is not my strong point. Or do you weigh things in physics? It doesn’t matter. I’m a basket case over here.

Pros:

There’s something about the freelance lifestyle that just screams “author.” From Hemingway to my latest literary obsession, Karl Ove Knausgaard,  creative writers tend to supplement their income with contract work on magazines and other word-driven companies. These are the people I admire. Not because they were great people. No, they had extreme problems of their own, but because they’re the ones who produced works that make you feel. I can honestly feel my heart beating as I read about the disturbing choices of a Karamazov brother or a Norwegian’s turmoil over Swedish culture.

Then there’s the biggest #Millennial point I could ever make: Over the last year and six months, I’ve struggled with the lack of PTO available to me. I’m not one to take advantage of vacation opportunities, and I’m actually a very nervous traveler… no surprise there… but I can’t deny the lust for travel that roams through my veins. I think it’s something most twentysomethings feel. We need to explore, experience what’s out there.

Freelancing would allow me to do this. I currently have a trip to Iceland planned, and honestly, if I had it my way, I’d choose to continue writing while there. Imagine this: My day is spent traversing unfamiliar landscapes to a waterfall that crashes down into a field of deep, lush greenery. Then, I’d return to my warm room or RV, and dive into whatever assignment awaited me. It’s perfection!

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Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Of course, if I’m being completely honest, getting back to work wouldn’t be that simple. After those hikes across grassy or rocky terrain, I’d probably return to whatever hotel I was staying in, and immediately gorge myself on food. They eat a lot of dairy there, right? That is not a good look for me… Then, of course, I’d have to make some instant coffee because sleep would have wrapped me in its all-encompassing grasp and my mind would beg for a break from copywriting.

But still, there’s something freeing about having the opportunity to write at any time and place. I know, I know, that’s why it’s called freelancing, but give me a break here. I’m having an existential crisis. And that fantasy of enjoying time away while still being active in this field, is dangerously seductive.

Cons:

Of course, this wouldn’t be a blog about what’s happening in my mind if I didn’t immediately juxtapose these pros against the cons.

Like how ridiculously difficult it would be for me to stay organized. How in the world does anyone keep track of all of that information?! What solutions are there for someone like me? Someone who can barely remember what day of the week it is?

The thought of managing enough assignments to maintain my income—all in unique brand voices and with varying due dates—is terrifying! I mean, I once forgot how old I was…  Is this really something I’m going to be able to do?

Of course, I’m not looking for answers here. In fact, I’m aware that there’s probably no one who can answer these except myself. Still, I had to throw them out there into the universe.

Will freelancing be next step? Am I on a brand new path?

 

I Took Away Phones at Tracy Morgan’s Comedy Show. Here’s What Happened…

Tracy Morgan is touring again and he wants phone-free events with Yondr’s help! Can his audience handle saying goodbye to their devices? Find out.

It’s always a pleasure to start one of my posts with a bit of irony, so here we go: I normally write humorous blog posts and tonight’s post is actually about Tracy Morgan’s comedy show, but there is nothing funny about my experience there.

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Okay, so yes, helping an older gentleman turn on his Nokia flip phone was adorable, and yes, Tracy Morgan’s ability to joke about his recent coma had me filled me with giddy admiration, because… coma jokes. BUT what occurred before the show was not so darn cool. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it the uncool.

Not to go all RHONY Countess on everyone but…

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Here’s what you need to know: A friend of mine works for an awesome new company, Yondr. They facilitate phone-free events. They have created these little pouches (they look like mini wetsuits) for phones. At an artist’s request, they’ll set up their stations and lock away everyone’s cellular devices for a completely unplugged, in-the-moment, let’s listen to who’s performing event.

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Pretty cool, if you ask me. Also, you’re not losing your phone. You keep it. It’s just locked away in a little pouch so you’re not Snapchatting while the artist is trying to, I dunno, connect with you as an audience member and not a screen.

And FYI, it was incredible to stand in the back of the FOX Theater and watch how engaged the audience was with the three comedians who performed. There was such a genuine reaction to what was happening on stage, it was almost surreal. I’m used to seeing phones out, a flash here and there, at least a handful of people staring down to see if they’d captured the right moment. None of that was happening. I also need to point out that at the end of the show, not one person was complaining about having been separated from their phones for that short period of time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a millennial and definitely have anxiety issues about letting go of my device (among other things), but was excited for the overall experience. I locked my phone away as soon as we arrived.

Using Yondr on the Audience:

My job at Tracy Morgan’s show was to help lock away guests phones as they came inside.

Here, I will inject a bit of self-deprecating truth and admit that I am not the most qualified phone-snapper-inner. I may be able to hit a few computer keys to write blog posts, but when it comes to sliding things into wetsuit material…  I’m not so adept. At least these phones looked a little sexier than my post-surfing (more like post-nearly drowning) body, but still. This won’t become a full-time gig for me… Now, back to the story.

For the most part, people were cool with the process. They handed over their phones, and though some didn’t look thrilled at the prospect of no texting or Tindering, they didn’t complain. Some asked if they could just keep their phones off, but accepted our rejection of that idea pretty easily.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this if I wanted to talk about the average person who walked through those doors. How entertaining would that be?

Now, I’m going to get to the people that made me embarrassed to be a Millennial; to be in a generation of screen-addicted, tech-driven monsters.

The Phone-Free Panic

First, there was the man whose phone case made his device the size of a fucking ipad. He not only scoffed at the process and how ridiculous it was that he couldn’t have his phone, but then had the joy of making dick jokes about its size. Nothing is funnier than comparing your big black phone to your penis. Oh, wait. Literally everything is funnier than that.

There was also a pair of hipster boys (I really can’t call them men, though they were probably 5 years older than I am). They stood mumbling nervously as they watched us tuck away people’s phones, and shook their heads saying definably hipster things like, “You know, I have really lost respect for Tracy Morgan for doing this.”

To which I wanted to respond, “You definitely do not have to go in then. You can totally skip the show and text your friends about this phone-free blasphemy! Better yet, hit up Tumblr and blog about how unfair the world is… ” *sob

Instead, I smiled and welcomed them in.

Finally, there was the worst of the worst.

I’d never volunteered with Yondr before, and I’m not exactly comfortable with confrontation. In fact, I’m so terrified of having to face someone who’s angry with me, I just won’t. I will either find a place to hide or I’ll pretend it didn’t happen. I will completely deny the fact that we’ve had a disagreement and never speak of it again.

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…I know, totally healthy.

Anyway, this fear of anger made me go into full Sweetheart mode. I like to think of it as my “waitress-from-the-South” mode. All smiles and pie. Though there was no pie and I’ve never been to the South.

As I was focusing on other people, a young man with a beard came out and hovered by our table. I barely noticed because of the line, but he smiled at me and said, “hey, I’m not being creepy, just waiting for some friends.”

“Not a problem,” I told him, because again, I’m fucking nice.

After a while, he looked slyly down and said, “oh, so that’s how it works? I just go like this?”

He reached over me to the lock machine and unlocked his phone pouch before taking off. He was so fucking pleased with himself…  It took me a moment to realize what he’d done, and to form a mental image of him inside, crouched against the bar like Gollum, stroking his phone and staring at it lovingly, calling it my precious.

Here’s why I’m so disturbed by this: Not only did this bearded man turn into a balding, loin-clothed creature from Lord of the Rings in my head, but the way he had planned it all out was so pathetically desperate. He hadn’t made a scene, stormed out angrily and slammed his phone down, and demanded it be opened. No, he concocted a plan, knew I was nice and naive enough to let him stand and “wait” for friends, and then made sure I was distracted enough for him to use our equipment. Hooray! He had his phone and had disrespected Tracy Morgan’s, the comedian he paid money to see, wishes! Wasn’t he so cool?

After my anger subsided, I became curious. Why couldn’t he live without his phone for 90 minutes? I know that he came with a group of friends. Were they that boring? Was he so alone in this world that he couldn’t connect with the people who he encircled himself with?

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Things started to get serious and worrisome in my brain at that point.

What if this man ever found himself without his phone? What if he accidentally went on a backpacking trip without bringing a portable charger? What would he find out about himself when he stared up into the vast night sky, searching for the satellite that normally connected him to his cellular device? I’m terrified of how lonely and boring he would realize he was.

Okay, truthfully, I’m not worried about him. He was just some asshole who probably has never had to do anything he didn’t want to before. That’s what it is. Sad, but life. My real concern is for the rest of us.

Food for Thought:

What is it that we need from our phones so badly? Why is it we can’t stand to be in this world without constant electronic stimuli? I’m including myself in this question. I can’t handle going to a bar or club without my phone at the ready, so I don’t look like a loser. But what if I am a loser? Why do I care?

This is all just something to think about. Why can’t we unplug, especially while we’re being stimulated elsewhere? If an artist is performing, why do we still feel the need to be connected elsewhere via smartphone? What is it we aren’t ready to face? Who are we trying to impress with our Snap stories and why can’t we just be happy knowing we were there?

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