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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Best Time I Met My Birthmother

This post originally appeared on November 11, 2011.

I have no memory of my parents telling me I’m adopted. They started talking about it so early that it was always simply a fact of my life. I know other adopted kids who had the “big reveal” happen, or worse, the “big figured-it-out-on-my-own” when they were thinking, cognizant humans, and that was always a traumatic drama bomb. For me, being adopted was normal, even before I totally understood what it meant. (As a child, I imagined Adoption Agencies were like retailers, with rows of slanted shelving like Payless Shoes, but instead of pumps and sandals, there were babies, wrapped in pink or blue, lined up for easy viewing.) I don’t feel touchy about it, and I never mind talking about it — though I do take some pleasure in making people squirm a little when they treat it like a taboo topic.

My adoptive parents are my parents, my real parents, and that has never been in question, but despite my absolute security in their love, I was curious. (I’ve also met those weirdly well-adjusted adoptees who are all “I know who I am, I don’t need to seek,” and come on, they have to be full of it, right? Doesn’t everyone have a wonky eye or something that demands a genetic explanation?!)  From an early age, I knew I would eventually search for my birthparents, though it always seemed like something I’d do “when I was a grown-up” (stay tuned for that happening). There are so many horror stories about birthparent searches that I always assumed I would need a private detective, years to dedicate to the search, and a sizable amount of money to find even the smallest amount of personal information.

In reality, it took 20 minutes on Google and — boom — I had a name, which, in terms of closed adoption inquiries, is definitely the crest of the uphill climb. In the last semester of my senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, I dreamt that I found my birthmom on a message board. Jolting awake, I wondered how I had yet to try the internet. How could I, nosey Googler of nearly everyone I have ever met (if you’re wondering, yes, probably you), not have thought to Google the people whose DNA I share? READ MORE

The Best Time I Visited Times Square

This post originally appeared on October 2, 2011.

I try to avoid Times Square. Actually,  I'm one of those really ordinary New Yorkers who make aggressive, snide comments about it to out-of-towners who were thinking about checking it out. Like, "Oh please. You get run over by a bunch of tourists." Then, one day, hoping no one I'd ever talked smack about Times Square in front of witnessed it, I had to walk through there on my way to meet someone. And I was in a terrible mood. Not just because of the hating Times Square, but because I felt ugly.

It was not the first time in my life I'd felt ugly.

I'm a body image blogger. I write about beauty and learning to love myself and how other people should learn to love themselves. Sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't work at all, and then I'm kind of embarrassed, because my mom calls me on it and says, "Do you even read your own writing? Maybe you should go and read your own writing." I used to feel bad when I felt ugly because I felt ugly. Now I feel bad when I feel ugly because I am failing at not feeling ugly. And I should know better.

It's complicated. READ MORE

The Best Time I Met Vincent D'Onofrio

This post originally appeared on October 27, 2011.

I had become, quite recently, very interested in interviewing the actor Vincent D'Onofrio.

This started, innocently enough, when I fell into what could best be described as an internet k-hole. Like all internet k-holes, it began with Wikipedia. Specifically with the Wikipedia entry for the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Icarus," which it had been reported at the time was going star Patti Smith in a guest role. For serious? To the encyclopedia of obscure knowledges of television programs!

This was exactly the sort of detail that would get my boyfriend, finally, to appreciate Criminal Intentfor what it is: the clearly superior flavor of Law & Order of the dozen or so (or how ever many) flavors there were. And why this was so was because of the Detective Goren character, played by Vincent D'Onofrio.

Plus Patti Smith = no contest. READ MORE

The Best Time I Drank My Friend's Contact Lenses

This post originally appeared on October 17, 2011.

I spent my junior year of college studying in Italy in a program that encouraged us to travel as much as possible, so after a field trip to Naples, many of us made plans one weekend to tour southern Italy.  After seeing the ruined city of Pompeii, three friends and I checked into a hotel in Sorrento.  We were excited because our room, which had two sets of bunkbeds, had a miniature patio attached to it. My friend Chris and I posed for photos on said patio before we headed out to carouse with our other friends.

I wasn’t feeling well that night so we stopped in a Farmacia to find some cold medicine. My Italian wasn’t strong enough to discern whether my meds were the type one could drink on, but Chris, who I should mention was kind of an asshole, told me not to be a pussy and go ahead.

So, we drank several bottles of wine at dinner, and then we drank more afterwards at a bar with some friends.  In fact, we all got pissed. I remember sweet little Iona, who hailed from New Jersey, going berserk when we met an Italian guy who asked us the following joke:

“What’s the difference between trash and a Jersey Girl?”

“Trash gets taken out once a week.” READ MORE

The Best Time I Got Hit by a Car

This post originally appeared on October 12, 2011.

Let me be clear: I am in no way endorsing getting hit by a car.

In 2002 I was living in Washington, DC. I had just graduated college and bought a moped. Not a Vespa or a motorcycle or anything else cute, but a crappy moped. Those kind of bicycles on steroids that delivery men ride and that shake when they go above 20 miles an hour. I got it because I was too broke to buy a car, and also because riding it made me feel romantic and European as I buzzed along to and from work each day in my drab office clothes. It also was a really easy way to pick up boys. “Oh, I rode here on my moped,” I’d tell them, as I’d shake my hair slightly and smile. “It’s just out front. Do you want to see it? And maybe take a ride?”

“Shouldn’t you wear a helmet on this thing?” was something they’d often ask as they climbed on the back of my bike “No way,” I’d reply. “Legally you don’t have to wear a helmet unless your vehicle goes over 60 mph. This thing barely goes up to 25!” READ MORE

The Best Time I Did Yoga With Someone From Friday Night Lights

This post originally appeared on October 3, 2011.

Friday Night Lights just received a much-deserving benediction at the Emmy Awards, despite the fact that those stuffed shirts can never undo the great injustice of snubbing Mrs. Connie Taylor, a.k.a. best person/mom/actress/my personal idol. But that was it, Hairpinners and lovers of gritty television realism: Coach has moved on to playing very serious policemen in E.T. rip-offs, Tim Riggins has become one of the X-Men, and Lyla Garrity is a Charlie’s Angel. Friday Night Lights is over.

But the time I did yoga with Matt Saracen, QB1 of my heart, will endure forever.

If you’ve never heard of Friday Night Lights, OK, fine, I understand that you’ve been in a space ship for the last 17 years hanging out with Wall-E or whatever, and now is the time for you to immediately right your wrongs.

If you have heard of it and persist in neglecting it despite the fact that it, like Bon Iver and Downton Abbey and Feist, is essentially a Hairpin pop cultural mascot, but you’re willing to give it a try, do so now. It’s on Netflix streaming, and I bet your boss will let you take the week off when you tell him it’s for a show about high school football THAT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT FOOTBALL! IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!  ALSO: RACE! BIRTH CONTROL! CLASS! Bosses totally love shows about class relations, trust!

And if you’re one of those people who wish that all of us would just shut up with our “Texas Forever”-ing and “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”-ing and “Tim-Riggins-Take-Off-Your-Shirt”-ing, then close the browser, because I am about to make it smell like super fangirl up in this piece. READ MORE

The Best Time I Almost Joined a Cult

This post originally appeared on September 29, 2011.

Last year, I was d-e-p-r-e-s-s-e-d. I had just been dumped by my stoner boyfriend (and then rebounded with a dude who asked, in all sincerity, if puppies were born live or hatched out of eggs), my freelance work was drying up, and I thought all of my friends hated me and that my life was descending into a black hole of quicksand.

So at a fancy dinner party over the holidays, I met a cool girl. We’ll call her C.

C and I bonded over music and being vegetarian, and I secretly coveted the way she could get away with wearing thigh-high wooly socks with shorts, all the while shoving tiny pieces of cake into her mouth. She shared my disappointment over our lack of meaningful work, the demise of our dreams, the burdens of modern life. Maybe it was the wine, but I felt like she got me. She just looked at me with her big round eyes, empathizing. You know how you meet someone and you instantly feel comfortable enough to tell them all the weird shit that goes on in your head? I usually do this on first dates (which obviously never lead to second dates). READ MORE

The Best Time I Didn't Sit Next to Harrison Ford

This post originally appeared on September 13, 2011.

I went to college in Malibu, and one of the greatest (weirdest?) things about it was seeing celebrities in the most banal circumstances: Tom Hanks in line in front of you for frozen yogurt, Martin Sheen coming out of the pharmacy as you’re heading in, Britney at the Starbucks.

I never knew quite what to do when this happened. Of course, I always wanted to stare, but also really wanted to be above that — you know, resist all the Hollywood hype and celebrity worship that surrounds these people. So I’d usually go out of my way to act cool and avoid eye contact, which is kind of ridiculous, because, who am I kidding? I totally read Us magazine every week.

The fight between these two opposing impulses (must avoid celebrity worship/must give in to their all-consuming life force) finally came to a climax for me one night during my junior year when I saw Harrison Ford. READ MORE

The Best Time a Waiter Convinced Me to Not Get a Tattoo

This post originally appeared on September 23, 2011.

When I was 17 I knew exactly the tattoo I was going to get when I turned 18. It was the best tattoo: delicate yet totally punk rock. It was going to be a red-and-black (or blue-and-black, that was still up in the air) nautical star on the inside of my wrist, with tiny red stars and black music notes going around the rest of my wrist like a bracelet. It was going to be so hot, and I could cover it with a thick cuff. Oh man, this tattoo was going to make me so cool. And then Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 would finally want to make out with me. What do you mean, "What does the tattoo mean?" It means I like music and I think nautical stars look cool. Do tattoos have to mean more than that? Whatever, I was convinced this tattoo was going to make me the coolest. But first I had to go to lunch with my mom. READ MORE

The Best Time I Didn't Friend My Mother on Facebook

This post originally appeared on September 8, 2011.

Recently, my former adoptive mother tried to friend me on Facebook. I hadn’t spoken to her since I was a kid.

When my brother and I were taken out of our adoptive home of six years, I at 15 and he at 17, we were placed back into state custody. We were foster kids again, which hey, was fine because in the past we’d had some pretty good foster times with some pretty nice foster folk. We had to testify in court against our adoptive parents, though.

Among the most memorable things they had done:

1. Told my brother he wasn’t allowed to eat for three days, and that they’d be doing surprise checks at the school cafeteria.
2. Hit us with creative things (well maybe those things were not inherently creative, just creative as child-hitting tools?) such as blow-dryers.
3. Dug food out of the garbage disposal, because we had not been given permission to clear our plates, replaced the food on said plates, and made us eat it.

It wasn’t all bad, however. The man and woman who’d adopted us valued education and travel and hard work and sports. I got to hug Clyde Drexler once, at a Blazers Camp they’d sent me to when I was 10. READ MORE

The Best Time I Was a 200 Pound Beauty Queen

This post originally appeared on August 10, 2011.

The year: 1996. I was 23, just on the upper cusp of that critical year that determined whether you could be Miss Pittsburgh or Ms. Pittsburgh.

I was writing for a local newsweekly, and, as a very non-beauty-pageanty type, thought it would be good fun to take part in and document the festivities. So I circled Ms. on the application, paid my $50, and began preparations.

You may wonder, why would a large-ish girl with a lumpy belly and crooked teeth sign up for a goddamn beauty pageant? I guess I was just curious. I mean, I'm not perfect by any means, but I'm still pretty darn cute. How would that play in Normal City? Would I get any love?

My goal was to stand up there proudly — tall, lumpy, weird as I am — and put my vision of beauty up against theirs. WHAT IS UP.

Also, I wanted a tiara. A real one, with some heft to it. Since I'm a pretty good singer, I figured the talent competition was my best chance. So my filmmaker friend and I put together the best damn video of someone in a nightgown rolling around a garbage dump and singing "Angel of the Morning" you ever saw. (More on this later.) READ MORE

The Best Time I Got a Shrink-Wrapped T-Shirt and Thought It Was a Ring

This post originally appeared on July 5, 2011.

Connecticut, Christmas morning, 2010

“I saved this for last,” my boyfriend says, proudly handing me a wrapped box the exact size of a ring box that he had been hiding behind him on the couch that is now strewn with opened gifts and discarded wrapping paper.

I can't believe he's doing this in front of my whole family, I think, nervously accepting it. I can't believe our proposal story is going to be this cheesy and, considering he’s Jewish and I’m half Jewish, so Christmasy.

I hear a sharp intake of breath from my mom that basically says … This is it. READ MORE

The Best Time Someone Dumped Me to Be on Reality TV

This post originally appeared on June 21, 2011.

I used to think the worst way someone could dump you was via text message, or with one of those QR codes for your phone that you scan and says “HEY THERE! LET’S SEE OTHER PEOPLE.”

Both of those are false! The worst way to get dumped is when your boyfriend suddenly gets to choose between starring on the WB next to Ashton Kutcher with a mic duct-taped to his chest hair, or being with you, and he chooses you, obviously. Just kidding, he chooses Ashton, or this wouldn’t be a really awesome story.

I dated Bro* off and on throughout high school and then college in Florida, because we went to the same college. Our love was totally destined for greatness, the same way all high school romances that you try to make happen in college are destined for greatness! Bro first broke up with me September of our freshman year, because, from what I could gather, he wanted to be a big man on campus. Three years later, right before our junior year ended, we decided to make things officially “on” again, sealed by a late night kiss in a sketchy Miami parking lot.

I moved to New York City that summer to do an intensive Latin program for 10 weeks, because I know a good time when I see one. He stayed in Florida to work for a public relations firm. As it turns out, long distance exacerbates things, and we fought a lot, usually about how he would take his female “friend” to the movies, just the two of them, on Saturday nights. I mean, really. Basically, I was up in the city conjugating, and he was down there doing conjug-something.

So, I had an inkling that things were amiss, but still, I was 21 and naïve and whatever. Finally, he called me one night as I was memorizing deponent verbs on index cards while my roommate watched America’s Next Top Model.

“I’m going to Los Angeles. I have an opportunity to be on reality TV,” he said over the phone. I blinked. In the background, Tyra was losing her shit at the fainting girl.

“Uh, what? What show?” I asked.

READ MORE

The Time I Worked at That Celebrity Bakery

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, Becca Laurie tells us more about some famous people who enjoy eating cupcakes.

Becca! So what happened here?

A decade ago, I applied for a bakery job on a whim. I had no experience, and I’d never been to this specific bakery before. I was out to dinner with friends, and we stopped in for dessert. I filled out an application and started training the next week. 

The bakery was having a moment: It was featured on a TV show, and that meant a ton of tourists and a handful of celebrities. I worked there for two consecutive summers. By the end of the second year, the hype started to die down, and so did the frequency of famous customers. My memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but here’s who I remember: READ MORE

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It’s Women’s Equality Day—Read Books by Feminist Writers

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Happy Women’s Equality Day! The passage of the 19th Amendment on this day in 1920 granted women the right to vote, a seminal moment in the Women’s Rights Movement. Today is an opportunity to celebrate the women who continue to fight for equal rights and whose powerful voices have contributed to the ongoing dialogue of what equality between the sexes really means.

Gloria Steinem, Simone de Beauvoir, Ruth Gruber, Helen Gurley Brown. You’re likely familiar with these iconic voices and the impact of their work on future generations of female writers.

Now on Women’s Equality Day, we invite you to revisit these landmark works of feminist literature or discover them for the first time. These ebooks are available this week for $2.99, in hopes that you’ll find new inspiration in their words, and continue the ongoing battle for women’s equality.

Discover Great Books from Women Writers .