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Monday, November 24, 2014

Playing With Myself for the Holidays

In a nutshell
I love my family. I frequently want to punch them all square in the face, but I love them.
Going home for the holidays is great because it's a very rare occasion that all five of us (parentals + brothers + me) are in the same place at the same time, but in our household, the Three Day Rule stands: We love hanging out, laughing, retelling stories for the thousandth time, eating disgusting amounts of food, and sharing an understanding that the dog is the best thing that ever happened to the entire world; but after 72 hours, it's definitely time to go.


I'm sure your family is the same way. How does one survive family time without completely losing their shit? You make a game out of it, of course! See also: alcohol.

Keep Away: If every single member of your extended family gets along swimmingly, you practice witchcraft. We're all blood and should love each other unconditionally, blah blah blah, NEWS FLASH: Here in the real world, Uncle Ned and Cousin Bradley hate each other's guts. It's fantastic. What's not fantastic is their differing religious beliefs ruining the enjoyment of perfectly good stuffing, so it's fun to get creative with how far away from each other you can actually keep them.
"Hey Uncle Ned! Have you ever seen my dance recital video from 1998? They're watching it now in the basement! All the way downstairs! Yep keep going."
"Cousin Bradley remember when you backpacked through Europe? See if you still have your hiking skills and go upstairs."


Mad Libs: My grandma has gotten to the point where she can't remember anything. Conversations are carousel rides that touch on relationship status, how you like your job, if where you live is safe, and when you're coming to visit her. And round and round we go. If you truthfully answered these questions each time she asked (roughly 15 times each over the course of an hour), you would go crazy. Answering them differently each time may earn you dirty looks from the others, but Grandma is very accepting of whatever answer you give her (unless you say you're single), so you might as well keep it interesting.

Wait What?: My mom has an interesting habit of listening to you until she doesn't feel like it anymore, i.e. you're in the middle of your story and you can see her mentally removing herself from the moment. It's incredibly frustrating if you're not ready for it. If you are, you seize the opportunity and start talking about absolute bullshit. The goal is to see how absurd of a point you can get your story to until she tunes back in.
"Oh so I went to this networking event a few weeks ago in the Lower East Side. It was cool, lots of freelance writers and..." *there she goes* "...heroin. Heroin everywhere. I shot it up with a midget who looked like the mini love child of Steve Buscemi and Giada de Laurentiis. His veins were collapsed so we had to find one in the bottom of his leprechaun foot. I also ate like five shish kabobs-" "FIVE?!"



Puppy Puke: People watch TV shows and think it's okay to give the dog human food because that's how kids on 1950s sitcoms got rid of their brussel sprouts. LOL classic. Fast forward to the pooch consuming turkey, cornbread, peas, and rice casserole over the course of three hours and try to guess if he'll puke all over the living room before or after your brother conveniently disappears when it's time to do the dishes. Another approach is to count the amount of times you tell your dad not to give the dog any people food because it's really not good for him, only to have him respond, "He likes it!" then tell you you're overreacting when you call him stupid while blotting vomit out of a rug. I hope you're reading this, Bill.

The Significant Otherlympics: Family calamity is one thing when you're generally immune to it. When you're an outsider who's trying to impress everyone while acting like the suffocating passive aggression  wafting over the table isn't awkward at all, the holidays are taken to a completely new level. Watching your sibling's "special friend" try to keep their facial twitch under control while Aunt Susan blatantly insults your mom's cooking might as well be the height of a figure skater's triple axel: will they nail it? Will they fall? WHAT WILL HAPPEN? When two or more boyfriend/girlfriends are present at the table, you can pit them against each other in a battle of wits to see who deserves to still be around come Valentine's Day:
"Hey Pete, you're really pro gun control right?"
"Yeah..."
"And Brooke, you're an atheist right?"
"...Yes..."
"Wonderful. Have you met my grandpa? The 65-year member of the NRA and ruthless Catholic? Aaand GO!"



Good luck this holiday season! Maybe the fam will finally remember that you're a vegetarian (and have been since 2009) this year! Just kidding, they won't.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

6 Can-They-Please-Catch-On Beauty Trends

I am a lover of all things beauty related.
I have rewards accounts at both Ulta and Sephora that I monitor more stringently than my credit card balance; I have tried every new mascara that has ever been on the market; my hair routine for a night out is the stuff of legends; and I own six different kinds of makeup primer.


Once while getting ready, an old boyfriend started criticizing my lengthy beauty regimen and went so far as to add a soundtrack to the experience by playing "Waitin' on a Woman" by Brad Paisley on repeat until I was finished. The fact that I witnessed him receiving high fives from strangers later that night aside (HUMBLE BRAG YOU'RE WELCOME), he may have had a point.

This could all be avoided if the beauty industry would ease up on the expectations and complicated routines. Did you know you're supposed to layer up to six different skincare products to achieve maximum facial perfection, AND that you should wait three to five minutes between each product? I love my medicine cabinet of potions but I am nowhere near that diligent.

The following are the 6 beauty trends that I wish would catch on for the sake of my schedule, my wallet, and my love life. Or maybe just the first two; a dude who wears Crocs should never have a definitive opinion on the way you do your thang.

1. GROWN-bré - My hair is naturally medium brown but I get it highlighted because Barbie was always cooler than her brunette friend Midge. Unfortunately, hair does this hilarious bit where it grows (in my case, rapidly) and my roots constantly reveal my secret too soon. Spending over $100 every six to eight weeks to keep up with my mane just isn't happening, so I propose we embrace GROWN-bré, where I completely abandon the upkeep of my highlights and everyone compliments me on my roots while admiring my laziness/cheapness. It's like when girls intentionally dye their hair ombré, except more poor.

 

2. Callouses? More like CUTESES! - My feet are absolutely disgusting and I'm weirdly proud of it. My pride and joy are my callouses, which are so thick from dance, running, and wearing absurdly sexy shoes that I could probably stick a needle half an inch into them before I started to feel anything (you're welcome for that visual). The ladies at the nail salon like to make a show out of pumicing these babies down when I get a pedicure, but why even bother? Smooth feet may be sexy feet but I'd much rather be the badass walking on broken glass without flinching.

Problem solved!

3. Cough "Negative Space Manicure" Cough - AKA let me wear my chipped nail polish in peace. Do I love how my nails look when they're perfectly painted and shiny? Yes. Do I use my hands way too much to keep them that way for longer than 12 hours? Nailed it (ba dum chh). Negative space manicures were a huge trend at Fashion Week and were dubbed the "cutout dress of the nail world," so by comparison I guess letting your mani completely go to shit could be considered the "ripped up skirt from sitting on the corner of U Street crying into the phone at your Uber driver Jesus Skylar get it together...of the nail world." Style is forever, you guys.

Just keepin' up with the trends

4. Uneven Eyeliner Wings - This would change my outlook on life 110%. Why can't one extend a little further than the other? Why can't they be of varying thicknesses? Is it crucial that they both aim a little past the tip of my eyebrow? Did Twiggy realize the amount of stress she was putting on me when she spearheaded this trend in the 60s? It's too much. It is too. much.



5. Legitimate Bedhead - There's "I literally rolled out of bed and didn't even bother to glance at a hairbrush before I came here" bedhead, and then there's "I woke up two hours ago and used salt spray, root lifter, volumizing powder, and mousse along with a diffuser to look this nonchalant" bedhead. The former is reminiscent of homeless chic and causes friends to plan interventions, while the latter is a complete oxymoron. People who claim they achieve their look by doing the former are liars and can Derelick my balls, capítan.



6. Designer Dark Circles - I'm tired, you're tired, we're all fucking tired, and I don't feel like faking being alert by pressing cold spoons on my eyes and caking on the concealer. Let's just accept that I look like a zombie, make our crack whore comparisons, and get on with our day. Standing in the makeup aisle analyzing plastic skin tone samples against my jawbone (or is it wrist?) to determine the most convincing shade for me is not only impossible but a serious waste of time, one that could probably afford me the extra twenty minutes of sleep I need to avoid dark circles in the first place.

NO ONE IS SAFE

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Celebrity Deathmatch: The Next Generation


Celebrity Deathmatch was easily the best show of the Y2K era. I fondly remember hiding under my grandma's bed to watch it in secret, as my mom had yelled at my older brothers for not only allowing me to watch it with them, but for watching it in general. Apparently ripping off a Claymation pop star's leg and beating them with it could be damaging to a 10-year-old's psyche, who knew?

Notable matches throughout the series were Ozzy Osbourne vs. Elton John, Siskel vs. Ebert, and Ashlee Simpson vs. Her Old Nose. Aside from the fact that I unapologetically believe that today's high schoolers are a bunch of pansies who hide behind anti-bullying campaigns to avoid learning how to buck up and deal with a fucking situation [DEEP BREATH], I really think CDM would be a huge hit with the kids. Think of the bloody possibilities!

Kanye West vs Taylor Swift - The fact that CDM wasn't around for this blessing of pop culture scandal is a shame, for real and for true. TSwift could have started the action by bashing her VMA in Yeezus's geometrically-shaved head, a move that obviously would've been met with an, "I'll allow it!" by Mills Lane. Kanye could've ripped out Taylor's dangly earrings and gouged her eyes out with Beyoncé's spikey "Single Ladies" glove that started the whole debacle in the first place. Eventually Kanye would win and he, Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond would all perform said "Single Ladies" dance, in full black leotard get-up, on top of Taylor's dead body.

Orlando Bloom vs. Justin Bieber - The two got into a scuffle at a restaurant in Ibiza over VS Angel and Girl I'd Go Gay For Miranda Kerr. Orlando Bloom is a terrible actor but he does have sword fighting skills thanks to Pirates of the Caribbean, so clearly he would break those out and decapitate Biebs in 2.5 seconds. The lower half of Justin's body would awkwardly strip down to its Calvin Klein undies while the crowd boos it out of the ring.

Gwyneth Paltrow vs. Martha Stewart - Both of these ladies have been on CDM before: Martha fought Sandra Bernhard aka Roseanne's lesbian friend Nancy aka whatever you don't remember just keep reading while Gwyneth and Winona Ryder battled it out over who got the role in Shakespeare in Love. The Stewart vs. Paltrow fight comes from Martha saying, "If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn’t be trying to be Martha Stewart," which I think we can all agree is fucking badass. I have no idea how this fight would go, but it would somehow involve garlic aioli, monogrammed stationary, and crisp white collared shirts.

Charlie Sheen vs. Chuck Lorre - The feud that resulted in Ashton Kutcher being the highest paid TV actor for three years running despite the fact that I had no idea Two and a Half Men was still even on the air would be an incredible fight to watch. Between Warlocks, Tiger Blood, and "winning" I cannot see this match going any way but incredibly right. Regardless of the physical outcome of the fight, I think Lorre still wins simply because he's got two of the highest rated sitcoms on TV and has a net worth of $600 million to Sheen's $125 million.

Mariah Carey vs. Nicki Minaj - The two former American Idol judges basically didn't like each other because they're both divas with extensions who wanted to be the hottest one sitting next to Randy. As soon as Mills Lane yelled "Let's get it on!" Nicki would lunge at Mariah with her huge veneers and take a bit out of her stomach like Jaws. Mariah would be fine with this because her weight fluctuates so frequently that she basically just received free lipo. She would belt out a whistle note and completely explode Nicki's eardrums. She would then drop-kick her with a stiletto to the butt, popping it as the entire audience discovers that not only is Nicki's ass fake but it's stuffed with love letters from Drake. Nicki would summon all 600 of her alter egos to attack Mariah from every angle, one of which would suck the talent out of Mariah like Ursula did to Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and Nicki would finish her off with her line from "Did It On 'Em" which reads "If you could turn back time…Cher/ you used to be here now you gone…Nair." Mariah would give her a confused look and then die.

The fact of the matter is that MTV needs to bring this show back, because it was absolutely phenomenal. Our current crop of celebrities is better than ever; how else would we celebrate their stupidity than by cheering their animated versions on as they beat the living shit out of each other?
This is America.  


What other Celebrity Deathmatches would you want to see? Do you think we could petition the network to restart production? Does anyone even still watch MTV??


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Yorker? Not Yet

I have lived in New York City for about a month and a half now.


The hierarchical years of service metric claims that I still have about seven years and 10.5 months until I can claim official "New Yorker" status, but I'm a fast learner, and until I've earned my stripes I'm at least taking note of what it will really take to be one of those geniuses who knows how to navigate the subway without using a map.

Here's how I know I've got a little ways to go:

I smile at passers-by - "Oh how courteous of you, Skylar." Wrong. This is not okay. People are uncomfortable when you look at them at all. Years of living in Kentucky (where the Kroger greeter met you with a, "Well hi there my darlin', how yew?") and Northern Virginia/DC (where passing a random yogger would at least get you a breathless "hey" plus head nod) completely ruined me for New York social interaction. The only person who wants to tell you how their day is going is the homeless man missing toenails on the 3 a.m. E Train and my friendliness stops there.



I buy too many groceries - In a technical sense, this is not true. Just as I've always done, I shop for enough food to get me through the week, although the added bonus of not having my car here means I buy enough to fit into two bags that I then get to carry a mile home. Apparently, I'm supposed to completely forgo the grocery list and eat all of my meals via Seamless. Why this is such a difficult transition for me to make I have no idea, because if living the American dream isn't getting a meatball parmigiana sandwich delivered at 1 p.m. and then again at 1 a.m. I don't know what is.



I wear color - My closet is color coordinated in rainbow order and is a collection of predominantly red, blue, and pink. I own three black tops and a black cardigan. That's all. New Yorkers don't wear color, primarily because of occurrences like the toenail-less gentleman above being a run-of-the-mill thing. If I'm wearing a bright yellow sweater and I sit down in the seat that he occupied not five minutes before, who really thinks that the layer of sidewalk on his jacket won't make it onto my clothes? Never mind a little dirt on my back, I might also be pregnant. All black errthang is the way to go.



I say "very" - It's "mad," e.g. "That bagel place is mad busy on Saturday" and "Girl your hair is mad long, whatchu use, Argan oil?" (unfortunately the latter has been taken from recent events and was said by a straight dude.) I sound like an idiot when I say anything even remotely slang-y, which is why, wish as I might, I could never move to Boston because I would be the weirdo painfully trying to work "wicked" into conversation. Same applies here.



I never see anyone I know - In NoVA, I couldn't go to a Target 45 miles away from my house without seeing an old soccer coach or the girl from my high school photography class who overplucked her eyebrows (and was still suffering the consequences). In a population of just over 2.5 million people, that's not ridiculous, but it's also kind of ridiculous. I live eight miles away from Midtown in a population of nearly 8.5 million people and I never recognize a soul. I do have friends in the city, but I'm pretty sure most of them are avoiding me as a polite way of saying, "I never actually liked you, bitch" which I totally respect and understand. As far as new friends go, the "psychic" down the street who always sees something in my aura when I walk by and I are like this.

 

I don't care about baseball - Mets, Yankees, it really doesn't matter to me. There were grown men crying over Jeter's retirement and I didn't even know it was his last game until the day of. I've been told I need to pick a team and devote my life to it, but at a recent trip to Citi Field I didn't even realize the game was over until it was over (and the Mets lost, if anyone wanted the biggest shock of their life). I am a Giants fan through and through, and while I own a Knicks jersey, I would scrounge for Nets tickets in a heartbeat if they led to a potential sighting of Queen Bey. Unfortunately I just don't see myself ever genuinely caring enough about the Mets/Yankees rivalry. Not even sorry.

 
 
 
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Monday, September 8, 2014

The Fuber

Yet again, I should not be alive.

I know, I know, I should probably start blaming myself for these things, but really, again, this wasn't totally my fault. Who shames the victim anyway? Don't be that guy.

Let's start at the beginning, where everything always seems normal and pleasant:

This weekend I was out in the Upper East Side grabbing drinks with a friend. Great night, great bars, great drinks, great times. Neither of us were in the mood to truly rage, so 1 a.m. rolls around and we go our separate ways.
Seeing as I just moved to the city like, two weeks ago, the Subway system still terrifies me.
Seeing as no one cares about my neuroses, and weekend track construction is a thing, changes to the late night lines are an inevitably confusing problem.


I hopped on the 4 train only to discover that my connection to the E would not be happening as I originally planned, and I needed to take the 6 back to Grand Central to get on the 7 to connect to the E later down the line.
If the previous sentence makes sense to you, you're either a saint or sober. At the time, I was neither, and although four drinks don't exactly do me in, they make any trip involving that many numbers and letters turn into quite the production. Still, I managed to follow directions reasonably well, and got off at my transfer station in Jackson Heights.

As soon as I stepped off the train and it pulled away I knew I was in the wrong place. The two trannies I encountered a few seconds later confirmed it. Luckily, I'm used to this shit by now, and I calmly stepped off to the side to consult my phone and the many transit apps I had installed the day I moved here.
Suddenly a stout man with grease stains on his shirt appeared by my side out of nowhere, speaking to me in Spanish. I ignored him and silently apologized to Señora Baker for spending both Español I and II in high school doing my homework for other classes. I noticed him gesturing towards the trannies standing close by and realized he was either asking if I was part of their clique or wondering if the one on the left was a natural blonde (Answer to both: no. I was wearing a sundress and gladiator sandals for God's sake. Harsh roots though, girl). I glanced at him, shook my head, ignored him while he yelled something that was definitely not, "Where is the library, friend?" and put my full attention and trust back into Moovit.

To get to a station that would take me back to Queens, I would have to walk nine minutes. Not a substantial amount of time at any other point of the day, but at 1:45 a.m. when you're tired, have lost your buzz, and have just been made aware that you have mannish features, nine minutes is a lifetime. Couldn't do it, so I called an Uber.

Amrin and his Toyota Highlander would be there to pick me up in six minutes. Perfect! I would definitely be thoroughly creeped out by the produce vendor on the corner making sexy eyes at me by then! My phone notified me that I had just hit 10% battery life, which is pretty standard for these situations, so I put it away and awaited my chariot's arrival.
Two minutes later a shiny black SUV crosses the intersection and the driver gestures at me. Amrin apparently replaced Paul Walker in Fast and Furious 7 and I could not be more pleased with the casting choice.
I approach the car's open passenger window.
"Uber?"
"Yiss."
And so commences a potential episode of Dateline: Missing in America.

The driver is very pleasant, asking me how my night was and making the usual Uber small talk that is typically cut short by one of my friends in the backseat screaming, "CAN YOU TURN ON THE RADIO?!" We discussed the humidity, how I used to live in DC, how driving in the city is a nightmare, and how cigarettes were a gross habit that I should definitely join him in on our ride because "You are eh-young, is no problem." Valid point, but I passed anyway.

Then my phone rings. Unknown number.


"Hello?"
"Hi, it's Amrin. I'm outside Bank of America in the black Highlander. Do you see me?"
Uhhh...fuck.
I glance at the Driver Formerly Known As Amrin, who is distracted by the gay bar on the corner blasting Skrillex.
"Well I thought I was with you already but apparently not."
"What?"
"Yeahhh...I've got a ride right now but I might be calling you back."
"What?"
"I'll call you back."

I hang up and look back at Stranger Danger.
Buzz: gone. Nerves: ignited. Game face: on. I have way too great of hair to disappear into someone's basement for a decade, okay? This was not going to happen on my watch.
"I'm sorry, what did you say your name was again?" I asked.
"Alex." Shit. "What is yours?" 
"Jessica."
"Is very nice to meet you."
"You too!!!"

My overenthusiasm was a ploy to scare him into briefly forgetting which Taken dungeon I would soon be inhabiting.
"So you are married?" Translation: Who will come looking for you when you're gone?
"Nope."
"Never been married?" Translation: Did your ex-husband love you enough to come find you when you're gone?
"Never."
"You have children?" Translation: What are we working with down there?
"No."
"You have boyfriend?" Translation: Sweet Allah have I hit the jackpot?!
"YES!"
"You do?"
"Yes yes yes."

(As every girl who has encountered a sketchy bro at the bar knows, the answer is always yes. Always.)

During this transaction I go to my recent calls and dial everyone that is not my parents. Three separate people, multiple redials, no answers. THANKS A HEAP GUYS, REALLY APPRECIATE THE FRIENDSHIP. I am simultaneously watching Alex's every turn and making note of the streets we are on, realizing we are, in fact, going in the opposite direction of my apartment. Classic.


"Uh-oh Alex, I think 67th Street is the other way!"
"No no, we are taking short cut to avoid lights. Is faster, trust me."
"Ten blocks the other way is faster? That's so weird."
"Yiss."

Meanwhile, I'm still haphazardly dialing each number in my recent call log, wondering why I associate with lame-o's who aren't up, out, and about at 2 a.m. on a Friday.

"Alex why don't we just go the regular way. You can drop me off at 67th Street, then there aren't lights to deal wi-"
"Is no problem."
"Actually it kind of is. Just drop me off at 67th Street."
"You sure?"
"Yes."
"Is no problem."
"67th Street, please."
"....Hokay."

We pull a death-defying U-ie and Alex is chain smoking like an Indonesian toddler, visibly displeased with how this night has turned out. That makes two of us, pal. He casually misses the first opportunity to turn onto 67th Street, holding onto hope that I'll change my mind and be the drugged out Princess Leia to his Jabba the Hutt.


"Right there."
"Huh?"
"67th Street is right up there. You can pull over."
"Is okay, I take you the whole way."
"No no it's really, really fine. Right there is fine."
"You sure?"
"Riiiiight there."

He stares at me for a solid ten seconds and then slowly pulls over, passing over the first option of the vacant fire hydrant space because that would be illegal.

Before he can child lock the doors and strangle me with his Brooklyn Nets lanyard, I say, "Alright well great thanks so much have a great night!" leaping out of the car and race-walking in a zig-zag up the street, as you are supposed to do to wild predators. I never looked back, but I know he waited in that spot until I was completely out of sight.

And that is how I escaped the Fuber, or the Fake Uber. As always, I'm sure a certain level of naïveté contributed to this mess, but I can't help but wonder when my nine cat lives will run out and I won't have the opportunity to write about my death-defying adventures for you folks.

I need a chaperone.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Instagram Stole My Sanity

I legitimately think I'm losing my mind, and it's all thanks to an app.


I posted my last Instagram picture sometime back at the beginning of June.
I've done many things since then.
Exciting things.
Fun things.
Adventurous things.
Things I want to brag about to everyone I know.
How am I supposed to do that, call them on the phone? Screw that. I want them to ogle my exceptional life via square photos.

When my photos first wouldn't post, I gave Instagram the benefit of the doubt.
"Oh, it's just a silly little mishap. Probably too much traffic from people posting regrettable Memorial Day Weekend pics. No problem. Maybe I shouldn't be THAT GUY and post a picture of my Blueberry and Peach Coffee Cake anyway," I thought.

Then I baked strawberry soufflé. Then I saw a homeless man wearing a full-on Cat in the Hat costume with Mardi Gras beads on my lunch break. Then it was my birthday. Then my friends from Louisville came to visit. And I couldn't post any of those pictures.


This is the screen that appears whenever I try to upload something.



My friends, though sympathetic, are no help at all.

 
 
 
 
 
I've reported my problem to Instagram Help Center which basically told me it was my fault and I should find a stronger WiFi connection and/or get a life.
In reference to the former: my WiFi connection is solid.
In reference to the latter: uh, fat chance.

So now I'm left with one option; the point that I never actually want to reach but which seems to come so naturally to me: complain mercilessly.
Reporting my specific problem to Instagram has done absolutely nothing, so I've taken to Twitter to show them not only how perplexed I am, but that desperation mixed with mental instability is a cocktail in which I indulge on a daily basis.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Please, Instagram, I beg of you, just fix my account. I'm trying to be the voice of a generation, and I can't very well do that without participating in Throwback Thursday.