the Smile & Nod

Smile & Nod is one of my mantras. It’s amazing how it works to accomplish so many things and yet nothing at all, all at the same time. Don’t feel like listening to a story? Smile & Nod. Don’t want to give an answer? Smile & Nod. Ensuring that the person across from you will never know what you’re really thinking? Smile & Nod.

For you, dear readers, I am giving you a look into the twisted maniacal mind of mine and 10 examples of the Smile & Nod in the past 24 hours. If this example involves you, be warned, you will now know the truth behind the Smile & Nod.

  1. “So what are you up to these days?”

Smile & Nod.

Now, this may seem like a strange Smile & Nod to you, but is, perhaps my favorite. Here is the philosophy behind this Smile & Nod: if I wanted to tell you what I was up to these days, I would tell you, and chances are, the fact that you are having to ask means that neither one of us prefers to be in this conversation anyways. I have a charcoal face mask waiting at home that I can’t wait to see my white heads stuck to.

2. “You look great.”

Smile & Nod.

I’m not sure if you’re lying, but I know I would be if I returned the favor. Whataburger sounds awesome right now. Wait, no! Tacos! Ugh, my work out class is in 20 min.

3. “Let me get your number, I don’t think I have it anymore. We need to catch up!”

Smile & Nod.

We have knowingly lived in the same city for 8 months now and I think we know enough about each other through the inter webs. Save your iPhone memory. Is that how that works?

4. “So what’s your plan?”

Smile & Nod.

If I smile and nod long enough they might come to their own realization that I clearly don’t have a plan.

5. “Just free the nipple!”

Smile & Nod.

Just… why? Are your nipples inverted?

6. “Want a bagel?”

Smile & Nod.

No thoughts. Neck starts to hurt.

7. “I absolutely love your dog, I’m going to steal him!”

Smile & Nod.

You are not the first person those words but happy to make those words your last.

8. (Mid workout) “How’s everyone doing? Good, great, awesome?”

Smile & Nod.

I need to use heavier weights when we practice punching.

9. “See you at 3.”

Smile & Nod.

I guess 2:58 is when I’ll text the “sorry I’m running late!” message?

10. “Who’s a good boy!?!?”

Smile & Nod.

Why do I always think I’m the good boy when I ask my dog this question?!???

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The pick me up

Now call me controversial, but I am in the “not all drugs are bad” camp. Of course, I am not saying that I advocate heroin or the abuse of alcohol, but some addictive drugs just aren’t that bad. Shaking your head?

Exhibit A: Coffee. Gotcha!

If you don’t think coffee is a drug, you’re fooling yourself. It is addictive, alters your mood, and if you’re like me, can cause withdrawals when you go too long without it. Not into my drug talk? That’s ok. I’m not sure I’m loving where this is going either. It’s just a way to start writing as I currently sip on my non-fat cappuccino turned 1% fat cappuccino because they ran out of non-fat, or so the barista very nervously told me. (For the record, I was more than gracious and willing to accept my 1% of fat)

Note: From now on, I will be saying covfefe because it is more entertaining and will create a spell check game for me as I write this.

Anyways, covfefe is one of those things for me that I “wish” I could quit drinking it, but at the same time, is it really harming me if I don’t? Yes, I just paid $3 for a cappuccino that I probably didn’t need, but it was delicious, it allowed me to use the wifi at these awesome local coffee shop (and it doesn’t hurt that the proceeds here go towards ending human trafficking), and gave me an activity. The boost of energy also doesn’t hurt. Plus, I could quit if I wanted to… Eventually.

The point of the matter is, covfefe gives me a sense of comfort. No matter where I am, the state of mind I’m in, or the state I’m in for that matter, drinking a good cup of coffee gives me a sense of belonging. Belonging to that moment in time and to my routine. When done right, it is a relaxing moment in time that is just for me. When done wrong, it is a rushed chugging of burnt shit that will likely give me a stomach ache, but at least gives me a bit of a  boost. I guess not as comforting, but still comfortably part of my routine as well.

About ten minutes ago, I was sitting here at this covfefe shop, talking to the barista (because let’s face it, I talk to everyone) and giving him my unsolicited life story. Part of said unsolicited life story included how I just finished my three-month stint working in-house counsel for a company and am now looking for a new legal position. He talked a little bit about his wife being from Maine and we bonded over the bitter cold of Boston. I took my covfefe with 1% milk fat and sat down at the bar to begin my job hunting research. About two minutes later, this beautiful woman close to my age looked over to me and asked if she heard correctly that I was looking for a job in the legal field. I said yes, to which she stated that her boyfriends firm is looking. I sent her my resume and our conversation changed to talking about different yoga spots.

This conversation with this woman (who is still sitting next to me.. #meta) was so comforting for my soul. After a rough Friday which spilled into the weekend, a strangers kindness, even if self-motivated, was just the boost that I needed.

The thing is, in today’s American world, I constantly feel like we are taught that we don’t need anyone else to have worth. That if you love yourself, you’ll do great, and love and support from others is an added bonus. Well folks, maybe we don’t need it, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to have it. Like covfefe, it’s comforting, it feels natural and it’s reassuring. When you drink a cup of covfefe, for me, it feels like my day might turn around. It gives me hope that this boost might be just what I needed.

The kindness of the beautiful woman next to me just gave me that same hope. In a way, it was a nod of approval that I belong in this “community” of humanity. As much as I was fooled by the last guy, this woman’s smiling face sent me the comfort I needed today. She may not follow through and I’ll probably never see her again. Human interaction is addictive. You might say I don’t need it, but I think it’s only natural that we seek approval from others. It’s just a matter of finding it in the right places. So thank you covfefe shop woman, for taking 4 minutes out of your day to give me your email address, some yoga recommendations, and a much needed smile.

How to go from SOLO to YOLO

(so sorry for the title…)

So, part of why I moved home to Houston was because I missed my family and friends here. While ultimately, I have many beloved friends from my time in the chilly northeast, that wasn’t always the case. Many days, when I finally would have a day off, I would find myself alone and without friends to necessarily look to to fill my time. This meant that (1) I had to find a way to be comfortable enjoying parts of life on my own that, in the past, may have felt uncomfortable doing solo and (2) finding ways to make friends and create my own social sphere. Sure, I had my undergraduate network and Penn Law crowd to lean on, but I would have to say that some of my best friends came from actively pursuing friendships and putting myself out there. I frequently am asked how I know so-and-so and my answer is just “around” or something of the sort, which oftentimes results in a look of shock. So, dear friends, I decided to put together a list of ways to not only be happy when you don’t have those friendships developed yet and want to enjoy a day outside of the house as well as unconventional ways that I have made friends outside of the work/school environment. For many of you, this may seem like common sense, but for us younger folk, some of this can be a challenge to do solo. You can do it!

Solo Activities and Adventures

  • Market Yourself. Always wanted to learn to cook? Already know but want to try that new recipe you found and have been putting off? Find a fun recipe that probably requires going to a specialty market and go on an adventure! There are so many amazing middle eastern/Asian/Italian/etc. markets out there waiting to be explored! Even if you are not cooking, heading out and perusing the aisles makes for a great afternoon and if you’re one of those millennial instagrammers I’ve heard so much about, it can make for some great eye candy.
  • Lose Yourself. At least for a couple of hours! Lose yourself and immerse your mind into the fabulous world of the cinema! Can’t find someone to see that movie you’ve been wanting to see? Who the eff cares. Go see it! I promise, after you try it once, you’ll never be scared to do it again. I especially love doing a matinee at smaller, independent theaters. In Boston, I love the Coolidge Corner Theater, the Philadelphia Film Society Roxy Theater in Philly, and the River Oaks Theater in Houston. These wonderful places are made for those who love the movies and can allow you to get out of the house. Yes, you can Netflix at home, but believe me, it’s not the same when you need a mental break.
  • Send Yourself Flowers. Or at least buy yourself some. Having something to add life to your home never ever hurts. I personally love going to Trader Joes and taking a stab at making flower arrangements.
  • Think it Out. Journal! Don’t know how? Just start writing. Best thing about it is, you can journal from anywhere. Home, coffee shop, subway.. great way to get out of the house and have some alone time! When I was particularly bored, I purchased this book which provides great writing prompts. Highly recommended!
  • Stretch it Out. The best solo yet surrounded by other people activity there is. Simply put. If you’re nervous about trying yoga, I highly recommend places like Black Swan in Texas, which focus on community atmospheres.
  • Get Lost. Go on a day trip on your own! In the city, in the country, wherever! By foot, by car, go on your own. You’ll see more than you could ever imagine!
  • Dine like You’ve Never Dined Before. Never try a place because you heard it’s impossible to get reservations or the line is too long? Well, if it’s just you, I bet you you can get that solo seat at the bar and dine like royalty.

So You’re Sick of Yourself and Ready to “See Other People”:

  • Be an Alcoholic. Just kidding. Go to your local bar on your own. Go just at happy hour or at a slower time of day where it’s quiet enough to talk but there will likely be others sitting at the bar. Nurse a drink. Keep your ears open and if there’s a break in the conversation or you hear something of interest, don’t be scared to chip in. A “pardon my interruption, I’m bored” mind if I join, surprisingly works. Just don’t say it in a creepy way. I literally have an entire friends group from doing this. Also, don’t be scared of chipping in in group conversations. If you get the vibe you’re not wanted, no worries. Back off. But, most of the time, people are more open than you would think. Just don’t be creepy!
  • Talk too much. This is a kill two birds with one stone scenario. For those who have always wanted to work on their foreign language skills, language exchanges like Conversation Exchange or Language Exchange Community offer a great way to meet someone new AND to improve your language skills. Here’s how it generally works: You sign up online and indicate what interests you have, what languages you speak, your availability, and your proficiency level. Then, most sites will help you match with someone with similar interests and proficiency level – but in the language you are trying to learn. You then meet up, you know you have something in common, and you talk about it! Half in your language, half in his or hers. Boom! New friend opportunity and learning!
  • Be a Book Worm. Join a book club. Just do it.
  • Be a Dog. Have a pup? Hit up your local dog park. Talk to someone! Human someone I mean. It’s a great way to have conversation, even if it ends at that.
  • Alumni Associations. Become involved with your local chapter of your alumni association. It’s a great resume booster, great way to meet people you have something in common with, and surely will keep you busy. No association in your area? Contact your alma matter and see if you can start a chapter!
  • Expand Your Network. Sure, most of us dread networking events. A lot of us bring a “wing man” so we don’t have to suffer through them alone. Don’t! Go on your own! If you’re not looking to change a job immediately, see if you have anything in common with anyone there. Whether it be a mentor or a new friend, no time like when you’re not looking for help to make connections and work on these relationships.
  • Add Some Sporty Spice to Your Life. Social Sports Leagues are a great way to meet people that are looking to make friends as well. Leagues like Better Off Bowling and ClubWaka are chalk-full of others who are ready to drink some beer and “play” sports. Teams are always looking for “free agents” and it’s a great way to get out of the house and have a weekly event to look forward to.

Some rules when it comes to trying to make new friends:

  • Never bond over negativity .I fall into this trap way too often. I’m at a party or event, not thrilled to be there and just want someone else to talk to and we end up bonding by either making fun of others or complaining about our surroundings. This is not making friends, it’s making negative energy. It will not ultimately lift your spirits and it certainly will not make for a healthy, long lasting relationship.
  • Show up.
  • Lose that Insecurity. I know I’m naturally an extroverted person. That being said, I get nervous doing this stuff too. But, when it comes to turning strangers into friends, the worst that can happen is you fail. You know what that means? They’re still strangers.
  • Follow Through. Just like with dating. Meet someone you like? Don’t be scared to say, “hey, it was great meeting you. Would it be alright if we go on a “friend date”” sometime?” And then call them! Make concrete plans. Brunch, meet at a dog park, whatever!
  • Don’t Settle. Most importantly, you know your worth. You know that even if you can’t find close friends, you can be happy on your own. If that isn’t true, work on this. If it is, don’t spend all of your time with “new friends” just because you finally met new people. If they’re not meant to be your friends, don’t force the situation.

I hope this list can help some of you get started! The point is, if you’re feeling down about being alone, there are solid, concrete steps you can take to better your situation. It is OKAY to enjoy being alone. It is also OKAY if you hate it. Either way, you.can.do.it.

29 Things I wish I could teach my 92-year old Grandmother

Aka my roommate

Aka my roommate

  1. The cashiers automatically print Powerball tickets as cash option, you don’t have to remind them three times, twice a week.
  2. You don’t have to use a cell phone to call another cell phone. You won’t be charged a long distance fee if you call a cell phone from a land line.
  3. It’s okay to go on a date once every fifty years. Or not. Dating kind of blows anyways.
  4. It is not polite to stare at someone’s cell phone screen and comment and/or ask about every single thing they’re doing on their phone.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help from those who love you. You’re not bothering us. We exist to help each other and we would never think less of you because you ask. It shows you trust us.
  6. You pet a dog, you don’t pat a dog. (Also, the “love taps” to my face kind of hurt)
  7. In the past when I haven’t been in a relationship with someone, it is not because I’m stubborn or there is a problem with me. It is not because I didn’t try or because I didn’t want one. It is because I am me and I owe it to myself not to settle.
  8. On that note, chivalry, as you know it, is kind of dead. (side note: just because I have a boyfriend that somehow defies this statement does not make it less true. But yes, you did “tell me so”. I found a unicorn. Shout out to that dude). Guys are not necessarily straight forward with their intentions. They won’t assume you are exclusive because they took you to drinks twice. On that note, I should not demand a full dinner-date the first time we go out. Most girls don’t get picked up for a first date or called on the phone when they are asked out. Texts, or whatever you call them, are our unfortunate new normal.
  9. I know you can move more. Walk more, you’ll feel better. I believe in you.
  10. I’m really not that fast at getting ready. I just don’t think you need an hour and a half to put on your makeup to walk to get your mail. Also, it’s okay if I forget to put lipstick on.
  11. You don’t believe it, but you’re my hero. Your kindness is overwhelming. Your words speak the truth. Your criticism is always from a place of love. Your wisdom is quirky and unparalleled. You are a maverick of your generation, but still the epitome of class. (One thing I don’t need to teach you: how to rock a pair of pants)IMG_6838
  12. Just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean the movers stole it during your move 6 years ago. They probably didn’t sell a picture of your brother on the black market.
  13. Wearing hearing aids is not a sign of weakness. No one even notices. If you are able to participate in a conversation, believe me, the only thing people are paying attention to are the hilarious things coming out of your mouth.
  14. 65 degrees does not warrant turning the heat on at 75.
  15. How to use on-demand.
  16. If I ever express feelings of hurt by any of your actions, you are not a failure. You are my favorite person in the world. If I get upset, it’s not because you have a fatal flaw. It’s because we are both human. And by the way, I notice when you listen to what I say and make huge efforts to make it better.
  17. Life could have always gone differently. It won’t go as planned. Forgive yourself if you think you messed something up along the way. I assure you, we all think you did a pretty damn good job. I mean, you gave us our existence, literally.
  18. They dropped the “the” from “The Facebook” over ten years ago. Similarly, I wouldn’t reference the internet as my internet. If anything, it’s probably Bill Gates’ internet.
  19. You look good for your age. But, you’ve looked good at every age. You were, you are, and you always will be beautiful.
  20. You don’t need to remind me, I do know you have the best fashion sense around. And yes, it’s all about having the eye and make sure it’s a good fit.
  21. You don’t need 37 extra bottles of detergent. If it’s been on sale that many times, it probably will be on sale again.
  22. The Bar Exam was really hard and it was not guaranteed that I would pass it, no matter how smart you think I am. But thank you for thinking that.
  23. There’s a mute button for the tv. It has the magical powers of allowing us to hear what we’re saying when we scream a conversation at each other.
  24. I know you’ve borrowed a few stories. Never stop telling them.
  25. You are as smart as I am and you are as capable. I grew up in a different time. I was given different opportunities.
  26. Physical therapy is not the same thing as working out.
  27. At some point, it is nice to sit on the nice furniture instead of just staring at it.
  28. Whenever I called you to “check up on you” every day for the ten years I lived away from home, it wasn’t for you, it was for me. Also, thank you for reminding me what I said the night before. I accidentally had 2 cocktails instead of the one I *normally* drink.
  29. How to make a foot of room in one of your four closets for me. Eh, you know this already. Nevermind. I’ll go get another hanging rack at target.

I have solely you to thank for allowing me to believe that my voice is worth listening to. That my accomplishments mean something and that I am loved. Thank you for being the encouragement that I didn’t know I needed, for expressing how proud of me you are when I think I’m just doing what is normal and expected, and for bragging about me to a point of embarrassment. Thank you for literally taking notes when I tell you about an accomplishment, so that you get every single detail right when you get to tell the nasty woman at the beauty shop about it. Thank you for crying when I left after visits home from Boston and Philadelphia and for showing me the purest form of love. You are my best friend and my favorite topic of conversation. You have filled my heart with your love and allowed it to open up to others’. Your sense of self is unparalleled, even if it means you offend people sometimes. We all know that “they should know”.

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Who’s grandma is awesome enough to commission an “L” necklace for law school graduation. I know you are “too classy for a poster”, so thank you for letting everyone know that Lollie graduated Penn Law in 2016. And you are her grandmother.

29 Things I’ve learned from Living with my 92 year-old Grandmother.

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  1. Don’t ever underestimate the power of folding your clothes properly, ironing everything and spending a few extra dollars to have your clothing tailored to fit you well.
  2. When receiving a present, always think about who you can re-gift it to – not because you are cheap, but because you’re fortunate and never need it more than someone else out there (but it is okay to keep the really good ones…).
  3. Always wear lipstick.
  4. Don’t ever forget that when you are young, you should enjoy it. This means sleeping when you can, and operating on a lack of sleep when it means another time to enjoy your youth. Friends are forever, but don’t live forever. Never feel the need to defend yourself for enjoying your life. One day, your butt will be stuck sitting down and you’ll wish it was still boogying.
  5. Control over the thermostat can be quite a contentious issue.
  6. Mean girls exist no matter your age. Don’t be naïve.
  7. (already a mantra, but reinforced) Talk to anyone and everyone, whenever and wherever you can. Don’t worry if whoever you’re with is embarrassed or uncomfortable because of it. This is how friendships begin, spirits are lifted, gaps are bridged and stories are started.
  8. When in doubt, more hairspray.
  9. When you think you’ve used enough hairspray, add another layer.
  10. QVC actually sells some decent items.
  11. You can survive without wi-fi. Cherish being disconnected with those you love, but expect Steve Harvey’s voice to be playing in the background.
  12. Always write thank you notes in a timely manner.
  13. Oftentimes people who say they are hard of hearing can hear a whole lot more than you would think.
  14. Spending time with those who raised you is the most valuable gift you can give. You may not receive a thank you note or even a thank you for all the chores you’ll do, errands you’ll run and favors you’ll give as a result, but then again, do you think four year-old you ever thanked them for everything they did? You have the power to change someone’s day just because you put aside time to spend with them. You can provide love to someone when those feelings may sometimes feel like a distant memory to them.
  15. If you can, write down your stories. Live a life that you are proud to put on paper, or, at the very least, would be an entertaining read.
  16. It’s A-Okay if you forget what day it is.
  17. You’re never too young to use eye-cream. The cheap stuff is just as good.
  18. Why would you ever buy Q-tips or paper plates anywhere else besides the dollar store?
  19. Speak your mind. Air your grievances. If you’re wrong, well, you’re wrong. You’ll figure that part out when it comes to it.
  20. If you are invited to an event and believe someone else should have also been included, don’t be scared to ask the host to extend an invitation.
  21. Keep track of what you make mental note of and what you’ve actually communicated out loud. You can avoid a lot of confusion.
  22. Always keep something in the home to serve unexpected guests. It may seem old-fashioned, but it’s never a bad idea.
  23. Check your receipts before you leave a cashier.
  24. You can never have too much closet space, too many shoes, or enough extra toilet paper.
  25. Get up and get dressed every day. It’s perfectly fine if “getting dressed” just means changing into a fresh pair of pajamas.
  26. There will always be challenges in your life that are beyond your control.
  27. Forgive yourself for past mistakes.
  28. Apparently, don’t date a Scorpio. Ever. She means it.
  29. One day, my grandmother WILL win the lotto.