I will be twenty nine for three more months, and like I do with all momentous occasions, I’m over thinking turning thirty. Well, I’m also trying to honor the event. There’s not much ritual in my life, so why not treat birthdays seriously? I don’t know. Go with me here. So in celebration, I’d like to look back at my twenties as if they were a high school yearbook, yucking it up with quips about my worst fashion choices and boyfriends. I’m also interested to see how my memories about my twenties will change as I age, so this holy, commemorative blog post will be as much a portrait of me on the eve of my thirtieth birthday as it will be of my twenties. Here’s to early nostalgia!
Lamest Facebook Profile Picture
It’s a tie:
I moved to LA right out of college in September of 2008. I was twenty three, and I’m still sort of in awe of my twenty-three-year-old self. Well, I had no idea what moving would really mean. A lot of people from college were coming with me, and I had family in LA, so it wasn’t like I was alone, but the first house I moved into was with people I met off of Craigslist (wonderful people). Los Angeles didn’t feel like home for probably three or four years. I also moved to LA to become Cate Blanchett, which is not going to happen… This was a slow and depressing realization because I always wanted to be an actor. Although if you read one of my first blog posts, written after two months in Los Angeles, I was already riddled with doubt and dread about the life of an actor. So I’ve resolved to live the much more stable, satisfying life of a writer.
Perhaps because I moved to LA, cars were a huge source of frustration in my twenties. I also spent a lot of time napping, eating, crying, and changing my clothes in my cars. I moved to Los Angeles with a 1990 Toyota Corolla, complete with a Napoleon Dynamite sticker on the bumper. That is the car that first got me around in the big city. I navigated via Thomas Guide because smart phones were only for the fancy, and I was often embarrassed by my car. Towards the end, only certain doors opened, and to get it into gear you had to press a series of mysterious buttons I still don’t understand. The windshield wipers also broke when I was supposed to drive home to Santa Cruz in the middle of the rainy season. It had rained all night, and it was supposed to rain again, but I made the bold decision to drive those 346 miles any way. My parents called every fifteen minutes telling me to stay at a hotel if it started to rain. Eventually I made it through the light drizzle, but this whole episode feels very twenties. Why wouldn’t I get the wipers fixed before the trip?
Then there was the 2001 VW Bug, a short-lived, vain purchase that broke down regularly. The only mechanic I knew and trusted was in the valley, so I spent a lot of time hitching rides and sitting at In N Out, waiting for him to tell me if the car was worth fixing.
Biggest Obsession I No Longer Obsess About (In N Out)
I’m over it now, but for a long time I really wasn’t. I’ve written excessively on this obsession. I even wrote a melodramatic short story about a shooting at an In N Out. Now the story makes me cringe. I don’t know what the deal with my In N Out obsession was. Maybe it’s because In N Out is more predominant in Southern California, and while I was getting used to living in Los Angeles, the place still seemed like a treat – somewhere you go on vacation.
Wedge sneakers were always a bad idea, and my friends warned me, but I went for it, looking like a “horse with a bandaged hoof,” according to Jennifer Modglin. I also could never really make harem pants work but I tried. In 2008 I wore a lot of Mexican aprons over shorts and shirts. It was a barista look, even though I wasn’t a barista. At night, I was really into wearing vintage, frilly men’s tuxedo shirts over short shorts, and the result was decidedly pantsless. I must confess that lately I appreciate quick and easy shopping online over the exhaustive hunt that is thrifting. Still I appreciate that thrifting will force you to accept many unique fashions (aprons, tuxedo shirts).
Best Roommates/Worst Hangover
In Santa Cruz I lived with Julia Calderone, and we spent my wildest summer of my twenties together. I remember a lot of bicycling while intoxicated, and we each had several different boyfriends. That is all I’ll say because I’m hoping it will make me seem mysterious and more adventurous than I actually was.
In Los Angeles I’ve lived in Lincoln Heights, Culver City, Koreatown, Los Feliz and now Hollywood. Mr. Sina Grace lived with me in both Koreatown and Los Feliz, and we found love in a hopeless place (a fabulous dance jam of my twenties). Highlights include the morning after our incredibly drunken joint 26th birthday party. The hangover was the worst I’ve ever experienced – certain parts of my brain shut off, and I was left with only the most rudimentary functions, one of which was “drool.” Huddled together on Sina’s pull-out-couch-bed, we tried to stomach plain pasta while watching “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” starring a teenage Sarah Jessica Parker.
Becky White and I lived together for about a year in Culver City. We ate at Yogurtland at least four times a week. I didn’t have a fourth wall in my room, so I would contribute, unseen and god-like, to conversations going on in the living room. This also meant she heard me crying a lot about various break ups. We were in the trenches of our twenties together. I also vomited in front of our mailbox because I’d eaten leftover salmon that had gone bad. There was a lot of trying to figure out if food had gone bad in that house, and we often got the answer wrong.
Most Important Trip/Therapy
In 2012 I went to England to spend a week with my biological father and his family. I wasn’t raised by my father – we did not see each other for twenty years. I don’t think I’ve written much about him on Excellent Notion. He’s been too much of an emotional quagmire for me to serve up on the internet. Therapy and this trip helped me get to know him, and even though we’re not close, I don’t feel as angry anymore. In fact, let’s thank my twenties for seeing me to my first therapist, a lovely, white-haired woman and big fan of pants-suits.
Biggest Lifestyle Change
I started working in an office pretty much as soon as I moved to Los Angeles. It was a transition. The phones terrified me. When taking messages, I remember feeling like I should know everyone’s phone number already, and it was shameful that I had to ask. Also I had to face the cold hard fact that work is harder than school–you can’t just skip class and watch Gilmore Girls. The 9 to 6, or more like 9 to 7, work day was a rude awakening, and at work, you better be able to problem solve on your own, something I wasn’t great at in my early twenties. Work has helped make me into an occasionally capable, adult person, but it’s also introduced me to what people call a “sedentary” lifestyle. A trip to the bathroom is a big excursion. At 4pm sharp I have to have a snack or I risk falling asleep. I’ve also become more bonded to my computer than I would like, becoming anxious when I’m away from her. In exchange for losing all muscle mass, I now speak a unique office language (“confirm” “reschedule” “left word”), and I support myself – a big accomplishment of my twenties!
I went on two dates with a young man who spoke predominantly using Pee Wee Herman’s voice. I went on the second date with him because I wanted to see if he would relax and use his normal voice – I assumed perhaps wrongly that he had a normal voice. It didn’t happen. We decided to be friends and never saw each other again. The really terrible dates, however, were probably the ones where I didn’t know if it was a date or not. Maybe we were just “hanging out.” College was big on these. I don’t remember people ever asking each other out – just suddenly hanging out would also include kissing. The grey area of it all drove me crazy.
Last night I watched The Sopranos in my boyfriend’s arms while drinking a probiotic mango, coconut drink and it was heaven.
Most Excellent Notion
Proud to say I’ve nursed my blog along since 2009. I named it after a line in Sense and Sensibility, the Ang Lee movie, which says a lot about me at that time (and forever – Austen 4 life). While I think most of the writing on the blog holds up, there are certain posts that I’ve quietly made private, particularly the series about homeless men falling in love with me. My point of view in those pieces is decidedly immature and insensitive. In 2010 I also wrote too much about cat shit. I also realized while writing this post that most of what I remember about my twenties is just a regurgitation of a blog post I’ve already written. Excellent Notion has been an active attempt to shape and understand my life as it has changed very quickly, and it’s helped me laugh at myself during a decade that has been occasionally rough, as I figured out how to grow the fuck up.
I’m tempted to say something about how now I’ve got it figured out, but I’m reminded of a speech I gave at my high school graduation. At that podium, I reassured the audience that no matter what, I knew who I was. Bless that poor, sweet girl. I thought I was done at age eighteen, ready to come out of the oven. Thank you, my twenties, for changing that and changing me. Otherwise I would still be showering irregularly and getting a lot of stress cold sores. So in conclusion, no matter what, I know more about who I am and that everything and anything can and will change but at the same time stay the same and also not and shit’s complicated and one day I’m going to laugh at my 30 year old self too! To play me out is the Excellent Notion song from the Sense and Sensibility soundtrack.