Sunday, February 20, 2011

Born This Way

I set my alarm for 3:50 am. Lady Gaga's new single, Born this Way, was set to debut on online radio at precisely 4:00 am. Its dedication and possibly insanity, but I can't wait for this song to come out. I opened the site and waited anxiously while the DJ waited for the record company to send the song to him. Had I not given up biting my nails, they would have been bitten down to stubs. Finally the moment had arrived and Gaga's song started.

Upon first listen I couldn't tell if it was because I was tired and groggy, but I didn't like the song. I listened to it a few more times while I was getting ready for work but it still didn't excite me. My friends on Facebook were also underwhelmed and I began to feel really disappointed. There were instant comparisons to Madonna's Express Yourself. I will agree that I can hear the similarities that people are mentioning. I began to think that this would be her first non-hit. I began to worry if her magic was beginning to fade.

But, I continued to listen. I was fueled by the fact that it was hard to find. It didn't appear on iTunes until 9:00 that Friday morning. I liked it, but didn't love it. But the fact that I couldn't listen to it easily drove me crazy. I bought the song and really began to listen to it. I still feel that some of the lyrics don't make much sense, but it's the message that finally converted me to a skeptic to a believer.

The song has such a strong inclusive, accepting message. I started to think if I'm listening to this song and others are listening to it as well, the message will become contagious. Lady Gaga with her crazy outfits and addicting club beats can change the world. I also thought about Renee - my 13-year-old sister. She recently told me that she hates her hair color. I began to think that she needs to hear this song and know that she's perfect just the way she is and she was, like the song says, born this way. It's a lesson that I'd love to internalize.

My enthusiasm is reinvigorated for the new album and I can't wait for the music video to be released. Lady Gaga is no longer just a pop star, she is a cultural icon. I am so proud that she is using her money and fame to help create a more accepting and loving (and danceable) place.

Gaga, I'm your little monster now and forever.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Money Game

I have a new favorite game. It doesn't really have a name, but I'd love suggestions. Here are the rules. I am given a certain amount of money each week and the goal is still see how little of that money I can spend and still live a decent lifestyle. I created the game out of necessity. I found that there would be some weeks when there literally was no money left. Those days are mostly behind me because I've discovered the joy of extreme budgeting.

I recently looked back at my credit card statements from 2010. It was infuriating; it made me so mad at myself. I wasted so much money on fast food, DVDs, and other things that I cannot remember. The fact that I can't remember it now means that it wasn't really worth it then. I think that I've grown up a lot in the past year and I can see now that it's time to be an adult. I very rarely eat out when I have food in the cupboards and refrigerator. I make conscious choices when I go to the grocery store, Duane Reade, etc.

It's actually fun now. I'm lucky enough to have to order lunch several times a week for residence conferences. Those days I don't have to buy or pack lunch. There are almost always leftovers so I can take them home for dinner or save them for another lunch. There have been at least two weeks this month that I have been able to spend about $20 a week on groceries. I think most people would feel a sense of shame in being so tight with money. I will admit that there are times when I do feel bad about myself for not being able to spend like others do. But I feel a strong sense of pride that I’m able to learn from my mistakes and create a plan to correct them. It's a great feeling.

Do I want to do this forever? No. I don't think anyone really like to put themselves on a tight budget. But I have hope that once I pay off my credit cards, I will be able to enjoy going out or ordering in. Everything in moderation is fine. As I grow up, I can see the necessity for responsible spending.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Is In The Air

I'll admit that I was really excited for Valentine's Day. This is the first year that I've really been in love and able to celebrate it. We already know how our romantic, Sunday brunch went. I would like to break today down into two parts - platonic love and romantic love.

The first part took place throughout the day at work. I thought it'd be cute to get Barbie Valentine's Day cards to give to some of the ladies in our department. I got the little cards with lollipops - the kind you give out in elementary school. It was a cute and funny way to let some of the staff know that I really care about them. Most of the people thought they were funny or cute, but a few people really took them to heart. Yvette really though it was sweet and she put it on her desk. I noticed that she still had my Christmas card on her shelf. Susan Shin gave me a kiss on the cheek and gave me a hug. The best reaction was Josephine's. I didn't want Elise and Maria to know that I didn't have any for them so I gestured to be quiet and gave it to her. She jumped up and gave me a hug and then took me into her doctor's office. She told me how her and her doctor worked together for 18 years and then he yelled at her on Friday like he had never done before. She said it was completely uncalle for. She told me that this valentine was exactly what she needed. I almost sense tears welling up behind her eyes. I could tell that it really touched her. Now I totally understand why Oprah loves giving! It is one of the best feelings in the world. Seeing their smiles was the best $3.99 I ever spent.

All the cute valentines at work were very platonic. My date with Antonio this evening was not. We both dressed up and went to a nice sushi restaurant in Chelsea. It was nice to go on a date. We usually hang out and are very comfortable. It's nice to get out and do something every one in a while. I felt so good that I was able to treat for once. Drinks? Of course, more drinks! Appetizers? Absolutely! It was nice to be able to take care of him for once. I know he probably couldn't care less who paid for dinner, but it meant a lot to me. After dinner, we managed to make our way back to his apartment through our two drink haze. We split a cupcake, ate chocolate covered strawberries and drank champagne. He got me a wonderful card and some really sweet (literally) gifts - some treats and M&Ms with out names on it. I don't know what was up with me today but I was so mushy. I felt tears coming on throughout the evening. I'm just so blessed to have found such a wonderful guy.

I am so in love and so in love with this holiday! It was a perfect day. I couldn't have asked for a better start to my week.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brunch with Chuck Bass

Yes! You read that correctly! Antonio and I had brunch with Chuck at Bubby's in TriBeCa. But let's back up to see how the entire story unfolded.

It also started with an unusually exciting ride on the 1 train. We were heading downtown on the local when the train unexpectedly came to a screeching halt. Antonio had to do a Matrix-esque move to keep from crushing this small Russian boy. The doors even came open a little bit while we were still moving. And now I'm thinking we're in a combination of Speed and Taking of Pelham 123. The conductor comes on and tells us that the emergency brake was activated and that they had to investigate the problem. Now, luckily, they decided to drag the train to the next station after being unable to fix it after trying for 15 minutes. Needless to say, we walked one we made it to Houston.

We waited for about 45 minutes for our table at Bubby's, but it was so worth it. The restaurant has a distinct country feeling. Everything had a very down home feeling and I loved it. It was the hot spot...oh, if we had only known. The couple next to us gets up to leave about 10 minutes after we sit down. I'm glancing over the menu and talking. The hostess seats the next guests. I didn't really pay attention until I happen to look up. OMFG! Chuck Bass is sitting less than six inches away from me. It was like I literally saw a ghost. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. I had to pull up a picture from Google because Antonio doesn't watch Gossip Girl, but he jumped on board really quickly. Our romantic Valentine's Day brunch was over. I couldn't concentrate for a good ten minutes, though I think I was able to pull it together. That was until the climax of the brunch. Chuck Bass (real name - Ed Westwick) leans over to us and asks for our ketchup. And...I...died. It was like a race to see who could hand it to him quicker. I snatched it up really quickly and handed it to him.

The rest of the meal was uneventful. He looked gorgeous! Stunning! Flawless! Without makeup or high-priced lighting, he was still so sexy. But then he and his no-name (blah) friend left and we finished our meal. It was such a surreal experience. But, then I got to thinking about all the things that had to happen for us to be in that exact spot at the moment. Imagine! If Antonio hadn't been twenty minutes late getting ready we would have left much earlier. If the train hadn't been delayed, we would have been seated earlier and at a different table. There were so many minor details that all add up to this amazing story. It absolutely makes me believe in fate. Everything happens for a reason!

And that was my casual, Valentine's Day brunch with Antonio and Chuck Bass.

Gym Rat: Then and Now

For a while I felt my workouts were stagnating. I'd enjoy going to the gym, but I was never sore. Then my friend Joey told me that I should alternate muscle groups (i.e. do chest and glutes, biceps and calves and hamstrings). At first I thought it was confusing and pointless. I didn't like the idea of running all over the gym to work isolated muscle groups. But, I thought I'd give it a try.

It was amazing and I haven't looked back! I find that I don't get as tired because I'll do a set for one muscle and then a completely different one. I get tougher workouts on targeted muscles rather than broad workouts for related groups (upper body, lower body, etc). I still take protein shakes, but I've given up on pre-workout supplements. They killed my stomach and, as the pictures demonstrate, I don't really need them.

I feel like I'm really hitting my stride. But I also worry because even though I'm climbing steadily, the next plateau can't be too far away.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Next Chapter

It's time. I'm ready for the next chapter. I'm prepared to make two big changes, both of which could be pretty scary. I'm ready for a new job and a new apartment. Finding the first would greatly improve my odds of accomplishing the second. But, the strong desire for the second is really motivating me to make the first a reality.

I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I cannot live another year with Spencer. Between the mess and the constant cursing and "accidental" gay slurs, it's just not worth it. Living in a great neighborhood loses its appeal when going home is a test of patience. It's pointless to have bars and restaurants a few blocks away if my boyfriend can't come uptown to enjoy them with me. It would be better to be back in the low 100s and have my own place.

I can't entirely blame him. I've realized that we are different points in our lives. I'm at a point where I want to settle down and begin to build my life. I'd like a home, not just an apartment. He's still in school and knows that he won't be in New York forever. This is just a temporary place for him, so I guess it'd be too much to expect him to treat it like home.

Making my escape requires money. And money is something I don't really see much from working where I work. It's partially my fault - I do have a lot of credit card debt. I have to take full responsibility for that. I would be making decent money if I wasn't putting every left over penny towards debt. Even without the debt, I would not be able to afford a studio in the East 80s. At this point, it's not a matter of wanting to leave. It's a matter of necessity. I won't have a place to live in 4 months.

I'm hesitant to find a new job unless it's one for which have passion. I like my current job, but I know that there is no future in it. I need a career where I am excited to get up in the morning. I noticed that I really enjoy real estate, so I've been looking for entry level positions at various real estate firms in the city. No call backs yet.

I'm ready to start the next chapter, but there are so many hindrances preventing me from turning the page.