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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Barbie Wasn't Broken

Feminism has taken on a whole new form over the past year or so. Like, it's been a thing for about 50 years, but recently it seems to have blown UP. I’m wholly grateful for the women who are spearheading the movement to get me paid as much (or more) than my male counterparts, because I have expensive taste and plan to buy what I want by my own damn self.
Political affiliations aside, I think it’s pretty sweet that the likes of Carly Fiorina and Hilary Clinton are legitimately considered for presidential candidacy. It’s neat that we could potentially have a First Husband, or First Boyfriend, or First Guy I’m Talking To. It’d also be cool if Madame President had a First Lady.
In something that probably should’ve been bigger news, the Buffalo Bills recently hired Kathryn Smith to fire up the squad as the league's first full-time female assistant coach, and they’re not even making her wear a crop top and shake poms to do it. This is progress.
                It’s important to teach young girls that they can do and be whatever they want to be, because bitches get stuff done and the way our world is currently operating, they’re going to have a lot to work on in the coming years. I think it’s just as important to build up your fellow woman as it is to side step the 32-year-old Hot Mess doing lines off a toilet paper dispenser in a bar bathroom—I’m proud of her for doing her thang, but if she’s unable to function at her well-paying job in fashion, I will gladly nail the interview that names me as her replacement. I’ll applaud a ditz as quickly as I will a genius, as long as they’re doing something noteworthy. I’ll throw a “You go girl” towards just about anyone deserving, whether she has a rock solid bod or a pair of well-rounded hips. I’ll look at what she’s doing, not what she’s wearing. I never realized that this wasn’t the norm.
                As such, this whole Barbie Makeover is kinda funny to me. Not funny like a clown, it doesn’t amuse me, but funny like “Ugh, my future kids are going to have some pretty pathetic play dates.” Listen, I am by no means some unicorn who grew up carrying glittery saddlebags of confidence: I was short; had hairy arms that earned me the nickname Werewolf from ages 5-12; had a literal snaggle tooth; displayed intricately-wired braces for 3 ½ years; and was overly rambunctious in social situations. I wished I was pretty and had straight teeth and that boys liked me, but that’s because other girls were pretty and had straight teeth and boyfriends. I wanted to be like them. You know who I had the wherewithal not to worship? A goddamn toy.   

                I had an entire storage tub dedicated to Barbie and her gang of uniquely-named friends, plus two Kens. My favorite was one who wore a hot pink mini skirt and white t-shirt with pink hearts, her voluminous hair perfectly coifed and her lips glossed the perfect bright rose. She was gorgeous, even when she had been picked as the favorite so often that her hair was unbrushable and the plastic on her toes started to peel (she never wore shoes—such a Bohemian spirit).
Thissss bitch
She didn’t have a specific name, because none of them did, because they were all Barbie, because Barbie is it all and does it all. When she wasn’t helping my brother’s Spiderman action figure save a Beanie Baby from a case of animal abuse, she was base jumping over the stair railing with a plastic bag as a parachute. One of the Kens lost his leg in a horrific accident that I can’t even speak about to this day because I just don’t remember what happened, and this Barbie stuck by his side while maintaining her adrenaline-fueled schedule because while she had compassion, she found it important to pursue her own interests. 

Not once did I hold this Barbie in my hands and whine, “Why don’t I have a 16-inch waist?” She was a doll. This was understood from the get-go.
Her legs were freakishly long and her neck could not adequately support her huge head were she a living, breathing human. She was not. She was a doll.
She didn’t have lady parts, and hardly ever wore underwear. She didn’t need to. She was a doll (maybe a bit on the slutty side, but still).
I invited all of my friends to come over to my house and play Barbies, and they reciprocated, and we had a blast. I do not recall one conversation in which a group of three 9-year-olds sat around silently admiring their toys and casually saying, “Damn, this is the goal, amiright?” Maybe I had really cool friends, or maybe my parents did a fantastic job of allowing me to build my self-worth through more beneficial avenues like sports and piano lessons than through the unnecessary veneration a 6-inch tall plaything, but whatever the case may have been, I always knew that Barbie was a doll. She could be impossibly proportioned. It was allowed. I wasn’t going to be called pretty until I was 19 no matter what the fuck that girl looked like, she might as well be able to celebrate it until I could, too.
Can't compete with this
Now, I’m not saying that Mattel is wrong for this. In fact, it’s pretty cool that they took the time to acknowledge some of society’s sensitivities to beauty standards and wanted to accommodate the delicate feelings of children – namely little girls – in order to make them feel good about themselves. That is an incredible step to take for their industry. However, toys are toys, and if you can’t communicate to a girl that Barbie and her outlandish boob-to-butt ratio isn’t a deal-breaker in the grand scheme of life, maybe take the doll away entirely and have an actual conversation about why she, as a person, is important.
Barbie went to the moon four years before Neil Armstrong, became a surgeon, was a Marine Corp Sergeant, and ran for President in three separate decades. She can be Argentinian, Nigerian, Navajo, Cambodian, Moroccan, Polish, and Greek. She’s owned upwards of five Dream Houses and even an Austin Healey. Meanwhile, I’m a white marketing professional who takes the subway or walks everywhere. I’m also happy. So strange how I’m able to achieve that, right?
We like women that are strong-willed, unique in their initiatives, articulate, and relatable. We seek inspiration from these women, but don’t want their goals and/or achievements to be so out of our personal reach that we don’t feel equipped enough to participate. We want to put them on a pedestal because gaining visibility for themselves and their goals is really bringing light to the issues that face us all, and we can enthusiastically shout phrases of support like, “YAASSSS QUEEN.” In my eyes, that has always been Barbie. She helped me develop an ability to tell stories, provided a way to bond with friends, and gave me something fun to do before I went to soccer practice. She could have 29-inch hips and I could simply be a kid with a toy. Pretty solid trade-off, if you ask me. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Period Tips...FOR HIM!

When my lady friends and I are gal pal-ing around, sipping on wine in the same room or via Snapchat, three distinct topics of conversation always come up: the state of Turkey’s borders now that it has opened them to Syrian refugees; the disproportionate burden of student loan debt on minorities; and bOy PrObLeMz.
Recently, a series of unfortunate events caused being on the rag* to be brought up in conjunction with the third subject. Questions like, “What doesn’t he get?” and “You’re almost 30, is this a new thing for you?” and “IS IT REALLY THAT HARD?!” were tossed around haphazardly, and I realized that, as a whole, men and/or boys really don’t know anything about the inner workings of women.
None of them.
At all.
To be honest, the above questions deserve an answer. If a guy is of millennial age, he has been around ladies and their Aunt Flo* for roughly 15 years. While we understand that it’s not happening to you and that you’d rather not discuss it, it’s going to occur monthly for the next 20-30 years, and there are some facets of the occasion that we are owed understanding of. If you shy away from reading this post because you’re uncomfortable talking about vaginas, you should not be anywhere near one and your manliness is absolutely in question. Go back to training camp and let Captain Li Shang make a man out of you, Mulan: you are not done.
You think it’s all just Tampax and Midol? Think again. 

I think it goes without saying that excessive bitchiness (like, bitchier than a girl’s normal bitchiness) should never, ever be met with, “That time of the month, huh?” Expect a flurry of disgusted eye rolls, “Wowww”’s, and almost definitely a few tears if you choose to utter The Forbidden Phrase. Did you think that was going to help things? Did you think the knives stabbing our abdomens were suddenly going to cease because you pointed out what the hell was going on down there? Please tell me that you would react with serene rationality if your insides were suddenly rejecting the wall of justice they had built up over the past 30 days so I can call you a liar. Pro tip: if you think what’s happening is happening, keep it to yourself. Should even a hint of inference, assumption, or deduction in reference to my attitude or my body enter the conversation, you will be verbally abused, and as one friend put it, “know that I probably meant it but maybe not how it came out.” Maybe.
Have you ever been around a girl who you guessed was riding the crimson wave* and watched her devour an entire Cinnapie from Papa J’s? Did you say something? I hope you didn’t fucking say something. We’re not just having a bad day or feeling like a pig, we’re doing both of those things simultaneously. My stomach was flat yesterday and now I appear to be two months pregnant (sweet irony), so as you can imagine, pointing out my current situation will truly be the icing on the cake….chocolate cake…with cookie dough bites baked inside….and butter pecan ice cream….and a vat of hot fudge. Yessss. You wanna be helpful? Don’t suggest we go to a salad place for dinner, because I’m eating for my ovaries and they could not be less interested in vegetables this week. Let’s get some meatball subs and you can not look in my direction while I shove it in my mouth in three bites.

Some twisted individual placed the idea in men’s heads that when we’re curled in a ball on the edge of the couch wearing size XXL sweatpants and clutching ourselves, we want to be “massaged” and “held” and “touched in any way.” Ew, freak, get the fuck off of me. This isn’t a charley horse that can be shiatsu’d away in a few minutes; it’s my body literally hosting a rebellion against potential children. If your hand comes near any part of my body with plans to rub me, I’ll break it and continue watching Gilmore Girls like it was nothing. Real talk. If you feel the need to comfort me, employ the Claw and Retract Method: one gentle hug and then immediately let go. It should last no longer than two seconds to correspond with my current level of patience, and it should not put pressure on any part of me that could result in more pain. The more pain I have, the more pain you have, remember that.

Here’s the part that caused the most uproar amongst the girls: period sex. Women don’t want to be talked to or touched for the majority of the duration of Leak Week*, but they want it bad. Badder than Usher, even. At any other time, a guy would be all over this, but mention the potential for a little untidiness and suddenly all bets are off. Let me get this straight: we actually want to do all of those things that you want to do the other 98% of the day, and we want to do them five minutes ago, now, and tomorrow, and you won’t because it could get messy?
Furthermore, if you are seduced by our admittedly aggressive demands, don’t you dare swallow your balls back into your body upon first glimpse of some red on the sheets. If Bloody Mary* shows up unexpectedly and it’s a surprise to the whole room that some stainage has occurred, we can split the trauma 60/40 (this is worse for me, trust). However, if you were warned and were all, “No biggie,” and then flip out when there is a bullseye on the bed, making a show out of disgustedly tearing everything apart and saying something like, “Ugh, that’ll never come out” or “Gross!” is the opposite of me wanting to do it again. Now I’m lightweight embarrassed for the both of us: me, because obviously, and you because apparently I’ve been dating a 13-year-old who probably still laughs at Uranus jokes. Actually, both of those are embarrassing for me. God invented towels and OxiClean for a reason, you big baby—meet me upstairs in two.
Referring to my *PERIOD by anything other than my *PERIOD makes it sound awful and makes me feel like more of a disgusting troll than I already do, *PERIOD. Any lingo that has become synonymous with a woman’s *PERIOD was obviously invented by a man, because a woman already knows how shitty it feels to bleed out their insides and they would never bring brash language into the mix. Blood is exiting the vagina because the uterus is shedding the lining that the eggs, produced by the ovaries, were waiting to be fertilized in. That’s your daily dose of accurate terminology, straight up. If you want to refer to any of that by anything else (except for "menstruation" because not even we like that), don’t. If you’re disconcerted by medically descriptive language, put your penis on a shelf and only take it back down when you’ve grown the testicles you need to use that thing properly.
Finally, the ladies and I request a thank you. If we are not trying to have a baby together, and we take it upon ourselves to regularly make sure that it doesn’t happen, we want that to be acknowledged (Ex: “High five for not getting pregnant out of wedlock because that’s not really your life plan, girl. Appreciate you stepping up”). If we yell at you for no reason because our hormones are out of whack, but then apologize and recognize our illogical outburst, we want that act of valor to be appreciated. If we have zero energy, ache, can’t wear anything but yoga pants, and are breaking out like a before picture in a ProActiv commercial, and you ask us to go out and meet up with a few of your friends at some bar that may or may not be filled with hipsters and not the fun kind, and we squeeze into jeans and a cute top and execute winged eyeliner, throw a salute. I don’t want to be there, but I’m faking it, and I’m faking it for you.

If you considered yourself a connoisseur of the female reproductive system before reading this, I hope you now realize that you were not, in any capacity. Feeling like a big shot because you only slightly flinched when buying a box of tampons (and not even the right ones) in the self-checkout line (because what if they think they’re for you?!) is nothing to brag about, and I don’t admire you for it. Hopefully you’ve been enlightened to our actual needs during this trying time. Now leave me with my jar of peanut butter and my spoon and get lost.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Skylar Gets Swindled

First of all, I’m sorry that I haven’t written anything in literally 5 months. It’s not that nothing interesting has happened in my life (child, please. We all know my antics), it’s just that I’ve been pursuing adulthood so aggressively that I haven’t had the chance to write anything down. In summary: new job, new exceptionally good looking boyfriend, new investment account, and new mascara. I can also now do 190 lbs on the seated leg press at the gym. #Swole

Things were going pretty uncharacteristically fabulous in my life, and then two days ago I was brought back to reality by the most bougie homeless man to ever exist. His dietary choices mixed with my staunch gullibility once again beg the question, “How do these things always happen to you?!” to which I reply, “Shoot me in the face.”
Here’s how my most recent interaction with a hobo friend went down:

I was walking to the gym after work, stopped to watch the game going down at the West 4th Street Basketball Courts, didn’t get the opportunity to yell, “AND 1!”, got bored and kept going. All of a sudden a man comes up to me and asks, “Excuse me, do you have a dollar?”

Now, everyone knows that the answer to this question is “No.” Not because you’re a bad person, or cheap, or a liar, but because homeless people run rampant and if I gave them all of my dollars I wouldn’t have anything left to impulse-buy Pretzel M&M’s with in my bi-weekly moments of weakness. At this time, I had nine single dollars in my wallet, which is a rarity, and as selfish as it may sound I was guarding them with my over-privileged life.

“No, I’m sorry,” I replied to the man who will now be known as Richie Rich.
“Would you mind buying me some food?”
Ugh, tug at my heartstrings, Richie. I literally don’t know what came over me, but I agreed.
“There’s a Morton Williams right around the corner.”
“Sure, let’s go.”
As we walk and chat about things like the warmer weather and allergies, I started to take stock of what exactly I was dealing with. Number one, he was wearing relatively new looking shoes. In my top 10 most recent homeless-guy experiences, 80% of them are wearing holey black Velcro New Balances with the pinky toe displayed prominently, so this was new. Second, he was wearing clean Adidas track pants and carrying a multi-pocketed Jansport that for the purposes of this story appeared much more high-tech than your standard shopping cart. Interesting, to say the least.

“I’m really trying to get my energy up,” Richie Rich said.
“That’s always a good plan.”
“Have you heard of Kombucha?”
Yes, Richie, I’m a white girl from the ‘burbs who befriends several health nuts, follows fitspo Instagram accounts, and pins quinoa recipes on Pinterest; of course I’ve heard of Kombucha.
“I really like the Multi-Green one. It’s a great detoxifier.”
“And I’m a vegetarian so it’s a great supplement to that type of diet.”
“Yeah, so I’ve heard.”
Everyone stop laughing immediately. I was already pretty keen to what was happening and it was not cool.

Richie continues to explain the different benefits of a variety of products typically found at Whole Foods and I just nodded in defeat. We arrive at the grocery store and still giving him some semblance of the benefit of the doubt, I think we’ll go straight to the prepared food section, he’ll grab a veggie sandwich and his damn fermented tea concoction, and we’ll be out.

Richie grabs a fucking basket.
So there we are, the Odd Couple shopping for Tuesday Night Dinner. Richie throws Kombucha, premade samosas, two Vitamin Waters (Restore flavor), and a box of Boca burgers in his basket, along with a toothbrush and my trustfulness. It crossed my mind several times to say, “Are you kidding me?” and dipset, but the small chance that this was maybe the only thing Richie would eat for the next couple of days coupled with me potentially being the girl who left a homeless man in the aisle of the grocery store with food he couldn’t pay for made me stay.
We get up to the checkout line and he tosses it all on the conveyer belt like he’s done this a few times before, which…..I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. The cashier looks at me out of pity and confusion, which is something I’m used to but was much more attentive to in this situation because that’s exactly how I would've looked at me, too. I had let my conscience be my guide and now I was planning on speaking to her in my office the next morning and putting her on leave without pay, because she was an idiot.
Everything is rung up to a grand total of $52.11, which is more than I spend on groceries for myself for an entire week. I swiped with undetectable hesitation and kept the receipt to wipe off my shame later that night. Richie and I walk out of the store holding hands (jk) and I’m just about to launch into a full-on sprint when he says, “There’s a Duane Reade right down the street….”

Really? Really.

“Sorry dude, I’ve got to go.”
“Oh okay, thanks again then!”
“Ohhhh you are so welcome.”
If you think it ends there you clearly need to backtrack and read some more of my life tales because it most definitely does NOT, per usual.

The next night, I was walking with my boyfriend and another friend through the same area. I had just finished telling them this exact story, and they berated me for being naïve and oblivious, and I was agreeing but defending it all by saying, “Hey, at least my karma’s in check.”
We’re about to cross the street when a man rounds the corner.
“Excuse me, do you have a dollar?”
They both automatically say no and keep moving.
I start violently squeezing my boyfriend’s hand.
“THAT WAS HIMMMM!” I hissed.

Predictable “NO WAY”’s and “Are you sure?”’s and “GO YELL AT HIM!”’s were thrown around but obviously did not occur. Richie might’ve been wearing a Rolex and applying a mud mask to his face when he passed on his way to a candle-lit hot yoga class, but who could be sure.

So I’m back and arguably better than ever, friends. For my sake, I hope my life will return to a state of boring normalcy. It won’t, though, and you’re all welcome for that, I guess. Raise a glass of brewed yeast and bacteria encased in cellulose to being young and dumb; I have like three more weeks of being able to get away with it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hobo Friends

Antonio. Donald. Q. Whistles (legal name).

These are just a few of the fine friends I've made over the past few years who just happen to live on the streets. Can I call them my homies if they don't technically have homes? I feel like that's not a cool question to ask.

For whatever reason, I seem to have a special connection with these people--it's probably the fact that I grew up in the white suburbs of Northern Virginia with four Panera's in a 10-mile radius, but who really knows. These relationships have come about largely because I don't know how to avert my eyes or resist responding to someone who calls me "Little Lady." Homeless people are people too! My kind of people:

Antonio - Antonio frequented the corner of the street near my magazine internship when I lived in Kentucky. He practiced the hollaback tactic, where he'd strike up random conversation with any and everyone and after a few solid minutes of talking would casually throw in that he needed five bucks. I was a poor college student so I typically told him, "Yeah man, same," and we'd laugh and laugh and then he'd ignore me, but there were a couple of times where I brought him a Starbucks Iced Coffee that secured me a spot on his good side. I never got to say good-bye to him when that internship finished up, but with Antonio and I, it was never going to be good-bye, just see you later.

Russ - Russ was the first of many homeless buddies I made when I worked in DC. Russ never asked for money or food, but was quick to dole out a compliment, usually in the spring or summer when it was skirt season. "Girl, the fire department know about dem legs? Because they makin' me HOT!" is a personal favorite. Russ always, always, always wanted a hug, but the closest I'd let him get was a fist bump or high five with an exaggeratedly extended arm because while I love new friends, I'm a far cry from Mother Theresa.

Q - Q is a frienemy. Every single morning for over a year, he was waiting at the top or bottom of the escalator at my Metro stop ready to harass me with his beatboxing or outbursts of pure gibberish. For the most part I could ignore him, but one fateful day I was just not having it, and when he lunged in front of me shouting nonsense, I looked him straight in his lazy eye and yelled, "CAN YOU FUCKING NOT?" I gained Q's respect that day. For the next 3 months, I could hear the "bm-ts bm k bm tkt bm" as I approached, but as soon as we crossed paths, he would go silent and we would exchange a head nod/eyebrow raise of friendship. I only learned of his deceitful ways when one day, I overheard him having a normal, gibberish-free conversation with a traffic cop. I quit my job three days later because I couldn't stand to face him ever again.

Tyrone - Tyrone has set the standard for NYC hobo friends. He's a musician (peep the business card), a comedian, a people person, and has 4 teeth. Tyrone posts himself up mid-platform at the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street subway station with a guitar, microphone, boom box, and duffel bag of tricks. There was recently another guy there trying to serenade the commuters with a lovely rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," and Tyrone shut it down with a mostly-freestyled version of "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. Nice try, Stevie Nicks, this is Tyrone Territory. Every evening I see him there, we wave to each other, and he asks me when we're going to work out together (I sometimes have my gym bag). I never answer this question because I'm terrified I'm just being naïve and not getting the innuendo; however, I'd be more than happy to collaborate on a "More Than Words" duet whenever he asks.

I swear to God I have real friends too, but sometimes even they can't hold a candle to the likes of my hobros. When was the last time any of you gifted me a bracelet made of straw wrappers? Your impeccable hygiene and consistent income do not interest me--give me a wool blanket and some dingy fingernails any day of the week.

Like what you read? I'm this entertaining 24/7 on Twitter. Follow me @BTDubs_Skylar!

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Friend for All Seasons

I'm fortunate enough to have a very large, very diverse group of ladyfrands stationed all over the country to assist in every freak out, humble brag and what-if scenario. These girls are all special in their own ways, which not only keeps things interesting but is also super handy when I need advice on something that Jennifer is too religious for but is right up Sasha's alley (no offense) (slut).

Everyone needs a friend for every conceivable life scenario. I've enlisted the help of my beebs and had them send me some of their favorite examples of convos with friends that they definitely could not have with anyone else. (Livin' with my bitches, #LIVE.)


The McFriend - This sweetheart would never, ever judge you for eating delicious snacks, especially when they're bacon-wrapped. She is crucial, because while the rest of your friends are trying juice cleanses and eating kale and cucumber salads, this faithful comrade will indulge every edible whim and snag some extra ketchup and/or honey mustard. She personifies the judgment-free zone, and will always be quick to blame your slight weight gain on water weight or your period, because it sure as hell wasn't your recent three-day-long Chipotle binge.
The Ex Sympathizer - Everyone has exes, and everyone has exes that won't go away. Some friends turn into feminists when you mention you and your ex were casually texting the other day and berate you for "going back to that pathetic piece of trash loser." Way harsh, Tai. This friend understands that shit happens, and that if you happen to wake up next to that piece of trash loser one morning after a night of innocent reminiscing over Patron Café shots, worse things have happened. They may not encourage further chats with said piece of trash, but they're probably texting you the message to the left immediately after waking up next to their own pathetic loser. Condolence high five!

The Creep - While most girls are not "psychos," we do all have some rather eccentric thoughts that occasionally float around in our heads. Do we plan to act on them? No. Is it nice to know that someone will have our back 110% if we ever decide we want to? Absolutely. The Creep will take your weird idea and take it a step further to say, "Hey! You're not alone! I, too, am a recreational sociopath! Let's get brunch."

The Nasty Gal - Some girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Others are absolutely disgusting. This friend is clutch when you haven't showered/shaved your legs/swiped your Woman Card in three weeks and you just feel like sharing something grotesque. She probably has brothers or just really couldn't give less of a fuck about social norms, and has no problem discussing bodily functions at length. While this friend may not be your first choice to bring as a plus one to your meeting with Her Majesty the Queen, she's the perfect sidekick for an all-night bar hop that may or may not end with eating cheese fries off the floor.

The Cosmo - True to her name, this friend is a walking women's magazine. Quick with a sex tip of the day, questionable first date advice, and a seemingly endless supply of photos such as the one to the right, she will never need you hangin' should you need some *ahem* emotional uplifting. Perhaps not the ideal candidate to get you through a serious life crisis, but if you're just looking for a quick pick-me-up, you've got your girl.

The Fort Knox - This girl is a steel trap. If and when you decide to do something semi-socially uncouth like join a sugar daddy website or sell your eggs on Craigslist, she will be your emergency contact and confidante in case the meet-up goes awry. She'd never dream of letting your secret slip because while she's not one to criticize, at the end of the day you both know that your scheme for bagging a rich dude/making some extra cash is a little sad. Whatever, you do you. FK is a text away at any hour of the night or day!

 The Disney Channel - Sometimes, it's nice to have someone around who doesn't look down upon you for the fact that you still love old TV shows as much as you did in 2001. Sometimes, it's nice to watch these shows together via Skype, text, or Facebook message. Sometimes, you still cry when the Bug Juice campers leave at the end of the summer and even though half of them will be back next year it's still a big deal and you consider them your friends. Sometimes, it's obvious why you're [both] alone on a Friday night. Yikes.

If you have a friend that encompasses all of the above traits and more, she is a magician and might also be fake. It's nice to spread your ridiculousness out over a few different people anyway, lest they get sick of your nonsense and abandon you altogether. Seek out each of your friends for their individual strengths--especially the one who is good with makeup and hair. That is one essential betch.

Like what you read? I'm this entertaining 24/7 on Twitter. Follow me @BTDubs_Skylar!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Give The Perfect Gift

I'm not gonna sugar coat it: I judge people who give bad gifts.

Yes, this goes entirely against the spirit of the holiday season, and maybe I'm just an exceptional Kris Kringle (hair toss), but I really don't understand people who wrap up a copy of WINE for Dummies, laugh when you open it while explaining, "Everyone knows Skylar can't say NO to MERLOT" (for the thousandth time, I like Cabernet Sauvignon, you thoughtless piece of trash), and sit back giving themselves a pat on the back for half-assing it through yet another birthday party for Jesus.

This is avoidable. You don't have to be the dud who everyone prays doesn't pick them for Secret Santa/Mysterious Maccabi! A few easy tips are all that stand between you and a genuine, "Wow! Thank you so much!" or this:

Step 1: Get your head out of your own ass - The holidays are not the time to change someone; we reserve that for 30th birthdays, interventions, and serious relationships. Giving a friend a box set of Josh Groban's best duets because you yourself are a Grobanite is not a gift, it's sadism with a bow on top. If you attend aerial yoga four nights a weeks and think everyone should attend aerial yoga four nights a week and cornered your petrified sister-in-law after dinner to discuss the overwhelming calmness brought on by swaying savasana, you're just being a holly jolly jackass when everyone unwraps silk hammocks and nods at you with thinly-veiled contempt.

Step 2: Listen, Linda - I am an elephant--I forget nothing. I still remember a guy I was seeing in 2010 mentioning that when he got home from school as a kid, his mom would make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on rye while he watched Captain Planet. I literally have zero use for this information now, but it's stuck in there for life. The key to being an excellent gift-giver is not to rely on what the recipient mentions they want between November 29 and January 1; it's reaching all the way back to May when they talked about how much they loved boudin sausage on their recent visit to New Orleans and signing them up for a Cajun cooking class. How can you not get the warm and fuzzies from knowing you gave the perfect gift they didn't even know they wanted?

Step 3: Stand and Deliver - The above being said, if a loved one asks for something specific, don't go nuts trying to outdo yourself when there wasn't even a competition. Your cousin wants a book on Moroccan culture? Don't buy her a plane ticket to Marrakesh, just give her the freaking book. Most people, myself included, feel like this is the one time of year they can express their want for something without coming off like Veruca Salt; don't make me feel even more unnecessarily guilty by going completely overboard with my simple, "if it's not too much trouble" request.

Step 4: Change it up - We get it, your dad is a Packers fan. How many DVD's can he possibly watch highlighting their 1967 season? How much Green Bay barware can he really drink out of? What is the man going to do with a chunk of grass from Lambeau Field?! You have to realize when enough is enough. While he may be thrilled with end zone seats to the Packers vs. Bears game (duh), if you give him a Fat Head of Jerry Kramer - SURPRISE! - you're paying off your own student loans from now on, fucker.

Step 5: Enjoy it - If you view holiday shopping as a chore, you're 99% of what's wrong with the world (the other 1%: the fact that American Idol is still on the air. What the hell are we even doing). I'd venture to guess that the children of the middle-aged mom I witnessed viciously scream at a Foot Locker employee over the lack of color choices for Nike Hyperdunks would rather just receive a plain old basketball and call it a year. If you're getting bent out of shape over a 20%-off coupon, you need to shred your credit cards and check yourself. Hard. This season is supposed to be fun; don't ruin it for the rest of us just because you didn't manage to snag the last Nerf N-Strike Elite Nerf Cam ECS-12 Blaster. The BOOMco. Rapid Madness Blaster will suffice.


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?"
"And Brooke, you're an atheist right?"
"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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