Terrible Twenties

Trials and tribulations of the modern twenty-something because no matter what adults say, your twenties are f*cking hard.
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Saturday work feels.

It seems as though 2005 and 2006 were lost years as far as photographic evidence for my clothes. It was a time before I had gotten myself a fancy digital camera, and light years away from a cell phone that could take viable photos. I was working off CVS disposable cameras and relying on friends with real cameras.  

It was also during the inaugural years of Facebook when Zuckerberg and Co. were just figuring out how to let users upload multiple photos into albums, let alone tag them.

However despite the literal technical difficulties, I was able to find some real gems. Here we go 2005!

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Let’s just dive into this primo going out wear. This was on a trip to London, from which I will continue to share a parade of bad outfits and a terrible haircut.

My roommate Brandy (far left) and I flew 10 hours to visit with our third roommate (pictured below), as she studied abroad in London. Naturally, we we decided to go out to a London club one night. Naturally, I wore my best black “going out top” that showed my matronly nude colored (I was very pragmatic about my intimates) bra every time I moved around too much, and much coveted, much saved up for Diesel jeans. 

Look at us. We all look the same. Being 20 is still about fitting in and staying on trend, and we were nailing that clone thing.

P.S. This hair is so awful. It was chemically straightened, and I still flat ironed it. Also. So. Many. Layers. My head looks like a chopped salad.

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This was St. Patrick’s Day on the same trip to London. I chose this green t-shirt because it was the only green item I had brought, but also because I was beginning to slowly discover my true self: painfully casual. 

The shirt is from Urban Outfitters because I LOVED their t-shirts from this era. They made these slightly heathered t-shirts that were just the right thickness in mulitple colors. Maybe you remember them from the “Everybody Loves a ____ Girl” series. Of course, I always wore them with a white tank top underneath, because I treated white undershirts like Spanx.

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There are a few things to note about this outfit. For starters, overall it’s basically “Emo Lite.” I loved those little Ralph Lauren black rimmed glasses, my first pair of nerdy cool eyewear.

Even though this was a bumming around day (see pulled back messy bun with bangs in weird early 2000’s pouf), I was wearing my dark “going out” denim, and my favorite shirt at the time. I also think we should note the black hoodie I found at a thrift store and thought was so EDGY. So much so, that I adorned it with little pins over the breast. 

If memory serves me correctly, there is a red pin that says, “You are loved” in German, given to me senior year of high school by a cool Mormon friend, and a black Darwin pin I found at my favorite high school vintage store in Long Beach. Alt to the max.

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Hello again little ugly Coach purse that didn’t match anything. Hello dark Seven jeans. I knitted that VERY long black scarf that hung down to my waist, and I couldn’t have been prouder. I had those Onisuka Tiger sneakers in TWO colors. I indulgently bought two of the same shoe for practical purposes: one black and white, the other white and camel. I had my footwear bases covered in my mind.

I also want to introduce you to my very favorite jacket from college. It was a very soft black quilted sweatshirty coat with mint green lining. It had a hood. It felt alt. It was from Anthropologie. I wore it until it could no longer be worn.

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Was I on growth hormones? My boobs were giant. Or, maybe gravity had yet to take its toll on my happy 20-year old body.

This shirt was from….you guessed it, Abercrombie. And, of course, I had to be wearing a damn wife beater tank under it, because NO shirt left the house without a companion shirt underneath. I loved layering. That day, I had a natural colored pull over hooded sweater with me, AND a cream colored puffer jacket you can see peaking out from behind me.

I actually remember feeling really good about this outfit and how I looked in it on that day trip to Brighton Beach. No duh, those BOOBS.

*Please note the Hot Topic black plastic bracelets on my wrist. So scene. What a beautiful juxtaposition with the A&F.

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Stonehenge. Wonder of the world. Blah, blah. Look at that incredible layering I have going on! This was clearly my JAM on this London trip. Nice work with the wife beater under shirt, red “Ciao Bella” graphic t-shirt from Urban Outfitters circa 2003, grey USC hoodie, AND puma sweatsuit jacket. That’s FOUR layers.

Oh, and I have been rocking head scarves for fifteen years. Don’t hate. I still have that vintage scarf and it’s super dope.

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I thought this black sweater-jacket thing with the flaccid popped collar was just the most edgy little thing I wore…especially with that wife beater underneath. Don’t go anywhere without it!!

Also, just to give context to the photo, my floor mate in my sorority house and I used to bogart the party pics photographer at events and take carefully planned sequence photos, order them to be printed, and then post them on the wall in order. So quirky and fun.

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Hi Will! That’s my college boyfriend Will and I. We both look so young and adorable. I remember making him buy that light blue sweatshirt from American Apparel because that’s when American Apparel was at its height as our generation’s GAP. Just like Gen-Xers did in the 90’s, we all rediscovered basics at an astronomical price, but were willing to pay for it because they were “ethically”made downtown. Whatever, he looked great in it!

As for me, I was wearing this sweater thing that I LOVED. Sadly there is no full length photo for me to find, so I will describe. It was a dark pea green hooded sweatshirt that went down to mid-thigh, long sleeved, and with a GIANT gaping opening to the waist. It was its own species of sweater, and I wore it generously. — of course always over that DAMN white wife beater!

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Oh dear. I had dyed my hair very dark. I was wearing a USC grey hoodie that I loved. I thought it went with everything I owned and wore it accordingly. Also I LOVED that Penguin polo shirt that I got on sale at Urban Outfitters, even though it was too small! And don’t think I don’t see you, you dumb little Coach bag.

Also, you can’t tell from the photo but…I am wearing a wife beater under that polo. You better believe it.

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There’s a lot to talk about in this photo, but I want to address the grey cardigan with the subtle floral pattern on the breast. The sweater had little puckered shoulders and lapels. It was basically a rare sweater/cardigan/blazer hybrid. I bought it at Urban Outfitters and believed it to be very grown up, possibly a good fit for internships or nice fancy dinners out, as pictured above.

*I, quite literally, only gave this sweater away this year.

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I worked for the The Daily Trojan, USC’s newspaper, as a copyeditor and…I did not have good feelings about it. They were cliquey and weird and I wasn’t into it, which I am clearly expressing in this photo. Of note in this photo is the Abercrombie branded sweatshirt, which was actually SUPER comfortable and great fitting. I mostly wore it around the house, or when I was really bumming it. I had stopped shopping at Abercrombie at this point, but was still ok wearing my old clothes.

I don’t think that lasted very long, especially when I discovered Forever 21. Until 2006….

  • Guys sweat a lot in their sleep. 
  • Everything is irritating if you’re in a bad mood.
  • Everything is adorable if you’re in a good mood.
  • Deciding on a movie always takes at least 15-20 minutes.
  • One person is always cleaning up after the other.
  • You have to stay at parties where you don’t know anyone and small talk.
  • You feel compelled to share entrees.
  • You no longer stop what you’re doing when your other half walks in on you popping zits.
  • YOU POP EACH OTHER’S ZITS .
  • Sometimes you accidentally pick up your partner’s toothbrush, but you don’t realize it until you are already brushing your teeth.
  • Your partner is listening to the TV too loud 70% of the time.
  • You always notice when your partner’s toe nails are too long because they cut you in bed.
  • It’s rare to want to go to sleep at the same time.
  • You always owe each other small sums of money.
  • Peeing in front of each other phases no one.
  • Getting behind the wheel feels like a driving test no matter who’s driving.
  • Anything can turn into a fight if you’re feeling like fighting.
  • The minute your partner is on their phone and you’re not, you complain that they are always on their phone.
  • Both of you are keeping a secret tally of EVERYTHING.
  • You get used to seeing hair all over the place.
  • There is no sexy underwear.
  • You get in the habit of eating the same meals.
  • Trying new things becomes either too scary/exciting.
  • Showering together is not sexy, it’s just a less efficient way to get something done. Even with two shower heads.
  • Two bathrooms is necessary.
  • The more comfortable you are in your relationship the more stubborn you become about being right.
  • Sometimes you roll over and wonder how this stranger is now a tentpole in your life.

We woke up like dis*.

*I woke up in bed and the cat was laying on the dresser. Then I picked him up, walked to the mirror, and took this photo.

Felt super fly and adult-like in my outfit last night until I realized my hands strongly smelled like the Dr. Scholls foam shoe inserts I had cut up before I left.

When I go to an event with free stuff.

When I go to an event with free stuff.

10 year anniversary of the night @badler_ and I became #college.

Well, it’s a new day and a new study about subjective topics like moving in with your partner! The Atlantic reported a very long article called, “In Relationships, Be Deliberate.” The title should be a dead giveaway that statistics aside, this is kind of common sense. Of course you should be deliberate in your relationships. I think most people would agree that it’s pretty important to be deliberate in most aspects of your life. Who wants to deal with a wishy-washy person?

But this isolated article just deals with moving in together. It opens by reiterating that even though traditionalists say moving in together before marriage is a bad idea, progressives are making it the norm. But it’s not actually question of whether or not they should move in.

But before couples sign a lease together, they would do well to ask themselves: Did we slide into the decision to move in together or did we decide to cohabit?

That question matters in terms of the length and quality of subsequent marriage. Traditionalists tend to think cohabiting before marriage is a bad idea, and progressives are more likely to embrace it, but new research says that’s not the best way to approach the question: The important thing is how couples make the leap into a shared life.

Does anyone else find this to be the most nuanced, yet obvious study about relationships?

report released today from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia looks at the many factors that predict a high quality marriage. More than one thousand Americans, 18 to 35 years old, who were in a relationship were recruited into the study. Within five years, 418 of those individuals got married. Galena Rhoades (a co-author of this article) and Scott Stanley, both at the University of Denver, looked closely at those who married, probing into their relationship history with their spouse, their relationships with others, and the quality of their marriages.

One of the main findings was about how couples handle relationship milestones, like moving in together. Every relationship goes through milestones, or transitions, that mark how serious the relationship is getting. Going on a first date is one; a first kiss is another. Other milestones might include the “define the relationship” talk—the moment a couple says they are actually a couple—sex, engagement, marriage, and children.

In the past, these milestones tended to follow a straightforward order that began with courtship, passed the milestones of marriage, cohabitation, and sex, and ended with children. The structure and rigidity of courtship meant that couples had less freedom, but also that each milestone was ritualized with most couples following the same script. 

YES. We get it. Being straight forward and telling people what you want has died a slow little death somewhere between AIM and Instagram DMs. Courtship looks a hell of a lot different, and so do people’s life choices. Some people get married after six months, others wait 10 years, and some never sign on the dotted line. It’s all ok! We have options in our love lives because we have more options in other areas of our lives like reproduction and career – albeit not 100 percent just yet, but much better than generations before.

The freedom to choose any relationship sequence has benefits, but it may also come at a cost long-term.

Oy. Here it comes.

Couples today seem less likely to move through major relationship milestones in a deliberate, thoughtful way. Rather, the new data show that they tend to slide through those milestones. Think of the college couple whose relationship began as a random hookup, the couple who moved in together so that they could pay less rent, or the couple who chose to elope on a whim rather than have a formal wedding. These are couples who, often without realizing it, slid through relationship transitions that could have been planned out, discussed, and debated.  

The data show that couples who slid through their relationship transitions ultimately had poorer marital quality than those who made intentional decisions about major milestones. How couples make choices matters. 

This is so silly. Of course making smart, informed and deliberate decisions is the best way to go — again, with anything. But, it’s not realistic. Life is messy and complicated; most of the time it just happens and sometimes you have to jump along for the ride to see how it all plays out. Worst case is you have to pack up your emotional and material stuff.

I have lived with two partners and each time the decision was both a victim of circumstance and choice. The line is pretty fuzzy. For both living situations a circumstance forced us into a deliberate decision. So, which was it? It’s hard to say.

The first time I lived with a boyfriend, he was a touring musician, who also happened to live 1,000 miles away. If we didn’t live together, it would be impossible to stay together. So, after six months of long-distance dating, circumstance caused us to make a deliberate decision to move in together. We didn’t HAVE to. We chose to, for the sake of continuing the relationship. That ended two and a half years later. But, that relationship was never going to last whether we lived in the same apartment or not.

The second time I lived with a boyfriend is my current situation. After dating a healthy two years, his roommate decided to move out, and he was sick of his apartment. Again, circumstance presented me with another deliberate choice to make. After a lot of crying, pep talks from friends, and courage, I chose to go with the tide. I had experienced the worst case scenario and lived. You can’t move forward without actually…moving, no matter the outcome.

Of course how couples make decisions matter, both long term, short term, and within the day. A healthy relationship that turns into a healthy marriage will be founded on good communication regardless if they hopped, skipped, slid or stepped into their living situation.

  • Floss.
  • Read more.
  • Put my phone down.
  • Keep a calendar.
  • Write in a notebook.
  • Buy less sparkling water.
  • Ride my bike instead of drive.
  • Stop pestering my cat.
  • Call my grandmother more.
  • Send more birthday cards.
  • Buy less clothes.
  • Light more candles.
  • Buy fresh flowers.
  • Close all the apps on my phone.
  • Get a car wash.
  • Stop cracking my knuckles.
  • Stand up for myself.
  • Be empathetic.
  • Drink more tea.
  • Wear more lipstick.
  • Stop going into Urban Outfitters.
  • Watch bad TV.
  • Go to yoga.
  • Use the massage I bought.
  • Learn how to roast a chicken.
  • Tip more.
  • Say yes.
  • Be more informed.
  • Be an activist.
  • Use my pool.
  • Check the mail everyday.
  • Try on a crop top.
  • Trust the deposit feature on my bank app.
  • Only work eight hours a day.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Print photos.
  • Reach out.
  • Let people in.
  • Pay attention.
  • Pick up the tab.
  • Envy less.
  • Avoid picking zits.
  • Keep using eye cream.
  • Take more selfies.
  • Take more photos of people I love.
  • Love my new rainbow retainers.
  • Try to dress more grown-up.
  • Pay off my credit card.
  • Be less critical.
  • Travel.
  • Go to the doctor.
  • More blog.
  • More lists.

I tried very hard to be a grown up today.

It’s my grandmother’s 95th birthday and, even though I have an endless amount of work to do, even though she lives a good forty minutes away, even though we can only stay for a short amount of time, and even though my dad only gave me a couple days notice, I knew I had to go.

More than that, I wanted to go. This is how I know I’m growing up.

Five years ago, I might have hymned and hawed, trying to make up some excuse to not go. I would have whined that it wasn’t fair that my cousins lived so far away, making me the default grandchildren’s’ representative because I still live in LA.

To put it mildly, I was kind of a brat. I was selfish about my time and the company I kept. My friends and social life were high priority, and going out of my way for anyone besides myself and what ever weirdo I was totally into at the time, was rare.

But, here I am, almost thirty years old with no weekend plans, finally understanding the high value of taking such a small part of my week to spend with my family. It’s not that I don’t love my family; I do. And, I love spending time with them. But, like most people my age, I don’t really have much of a nuclear family left, making my experience with family time a little more unconventional. 

But today, my family time was going to look a little more traditional. So, I wanted to make a big effort to do something special, and be as present as possible for the limited moments I have left with my grandmother, and be a support for my father, whose mother is reaching the end of her long and wonderful life. I now understand that all those years of him pushing me to go to my grandmother’s was more about being there for him than for me, or my grandmother, and that’s okay.

I woke up, did work, cleaned up the apartment, and went out to buy supplies for the cake I had agreed (and instantly regretted) to make and bring to the birthday celebrations tonight. And then, after all my grown up chores were complete. I did this:

I made the cake only a grandmother could love from their grandchild, no matter how old she is.

I looked at my genuine attempt at decorating the birthday cake, for which I bought the supplies, and made from scratch. I was relieved to be reminded that no matter how old I get, no matter how far I get in my career, no matter how close I am to marriage, no matter how many adult decisions and chores I complete in a day, I’m still an impatient child with poor motor skills who gets frustrated when she isn’t good at something.

Aging scares me. Change can be hard. But it’s nice to be reminded that little things will always stay the same.