This past Sunday at 10:19 pm EDT, I (and literally millions of others) bore witness to the end of an era: the final episode of Game of Thrones. It seems trite to pay tribute to the end of a TV show, but as the final credits rolled, I found myself emotional, not at the content of the ending (which was far from perfect, as almost literally everyone has pointed), but in the fact of it.
It’s a normal Monday. We go around, recounting our weekends, which for me, includes a detailed analysis of the season two dynamics in Vanderpump Rules, and how on Earth Jax Taylor is still allowed out in public. (He’s a public safety hazard, and he should be quarantined, but this is a subject for another essay.) And then it begins: “Ugh, how can you watch that mindless shit?”
Grey’s Anatomy begins its 15th season tonight. I have been there from the beginning, and after 15 seasons, I will be once again enthusiastically tuning in. I get a lot of “You’re still watching that show!?!” Yes, and other people are too, because the network gave the show two more seasons and Ellen Pompeo a huge package to keep her as its star. The why am I still watching is more complicated.
I started Dallas and let me tell you, those ladies know how to entertain me. They’re Southern. There is old money. There is new money. Their feelings about each other change faster than you can say “Dallas.” It’s great. Look, I’ve learned to love the OC ladies, but I think my heart may be in Dallas. But, let’s see what the OC ladies are up to, especially since Emily may actually kill Kelly.
I’ve gotten behind on the trials and tribulations of the OC women. I apologize – I had to travel to LA to visit Disneyland and hangout with Beyonce and Jay-Z. I lead a rough life. Much like the women of the OC. Last we left them, they were fighting over whether Shannon had insinuated that Emily’s husband is abusive. Gina and Emily had made amends. Shannon and Tamra were fighting for the first time since I started watching this show. Let’s jump back in, shall we?
All this nonsense about Emily's weird husband is really coming to a head. What new and old friendships will it tear apart. Also, where the hell is Whoop-It-Up Vicki?!
He got a standing ovation. He walked into a comedy club, unannounced, was allowed to take the stage, did a fifteen minute set, and they stood for him. Who’s standing for Dana Min Goodman, Julia Wolov, Abby Schachner or Rebecca Corry? Time’s Up they say. Guess not.
This week, we have a great debate about whether Emily’s husband is a stick in the mud. For those of new to these ladies, we get some insight into Shannon’s spectacular disaster of a husband. We’re building up some good storylines for the reason of the season. Shall we?
They played poker in shiny hats this week. I'm officially down with these ladies.
This week we see all of the women together for the first time. There are some fantastically awkward moments. I feel like I am really starting to understand these ladies.
Until I read your article, it had not occurred to me that there would be people who wouldn’t see the value in instilling a sense of pride in a child’s racial identity… least of all, parents who were adopting transracially. I can only hope those parents heard the message from that class – racial mirrors are essential in helping a child form a secure sense of identity.
But, this is why it is so important that we take time to disconnect and find ways to reenergize and take care of ourselves (remember, you have to put your mask on before assisting others).
2017 has been quite a year, but we survived it. Here is a list of our favorite women and feminist moments that help us through.
So you’re headed home for the holidays. Leaving Los Angeles, or New York City, or D.C. or another city where numerous men have recently been accused of sexual harassment – so really any city. You’re used to the usual questions from Uncle Arnie: “What celebrities have you met?” “How can we get on the Ellen show?” “Castle was cancelled. Do you know who I talk to about that?” But this year’s going to be different. This year Uncle Arnie wants to know if you’ve ever been in a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein
John Grisham doesn’t write about this shit. The gripping murder mystery about the young black man shot multiple times in his car by a police officer doesn’t become a New York Best seller. It does not become a best seller because there is no happy ending. There is no climax. The jury doesn’t find the defendant guilty. There is no justice. There is no peace.
On Saturday, almost 4 million people in more than 600 cities in the United States and across the globe gathered to tell the Trump administration, “We are watching. We will not sit down. We will not shut up.” The Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches were the biggest inaugural protests in history. The crowds were bigger than anyone expected – even the organizers.
The crowd, the solidarity, the tongue-in-cheek signs gave each of us a much-needed jolt of hope. For many this was the first time since Election Day that despair and disappointment were not the primary emotions aroused in response to the election. There was an enormous amount of positive energy in the crowds yesterday. It was palpable. It was electric. It was nourishing.
As your final days of your presidency come to a close, I have been conflicted with many emotions. I’m uncertain where the time has gone and what the future holds. One thing I am certain of is how thankful I am for you. You see, I’m not very good at sending thank you notes (hello 2017 resolutions!), and I’m sure you’ve received so many, but here’s my shout into the void.
They tell me
the air in Syria smells like blood.
That with each breath,
you feel the hands of martyrs wrap themselves around your neck.
You choke on their lost lives.
Taste the chemicals that slayed them,
the bullets that killed them,
the fires that burned them,
the knives that stabbed them,
the bombs that ripped their bodies apart,
spreading their limbs into the corners of your own body as you breathe
in and out, in and out.
I’m white. I grew up surrounded by white people. So when it came to learning about race in America and my role as a member of the privileged race, not only did I have no opportunity to stumble into awareness by interacting with people who were different then me, but none of the white people around me were in a position to teach me either. Fast forward a couple of decades, and I’m a 28-year-old that tries every day to explore my biases and understand my privilege. I’m woke. But I have no idea how I stumbled into wokeness, because I had no one to teach me. So many of the people I grew up with did not get woke, and it seems like complete luck that I encountered the people and experiences that taught me what I needed to know about race in this country. If I can understand my own journey, perhaps that will help me speak convincingly to less woke white folk.
Today I am thirty. I am not where I thought I’d be at this point. Jennifer Garner promised me a certain lifestyle I have yet to accomplish – I feel neither flirty nor thriving. Thirty feels like a mystical age until it’s here. I am officially a grown up even if no part of me feels like one. Like, I should now be supporting my parents financially. Well, I chose a career as a writer, so sorry Dad. Maybe by 35.
Every good minimalism story starts with a purge, right? Purge. Then you will have the perfect, modern, stream lined house you could imagine. No clutter, no unnecessary items. A capsule wardrobe. Fold the clothes you have left in the Kondo method, and you’ll never have a messy drawer...
Almost two years ago, I needed to make a change. I was exhausted. I wasn’t functioning or coping well. Every week, by Friday I was too exhausted to accomplish anything, let alone meal plan or clean. My house was a mess. There were always SO MANY DIRTY DISHES. I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone. I spent a lot of time watching Netflix while surfing Pinterest from my iphone. Through this I was introduced to minimalism by accident. In the Marie Kondo craze of organizing, Pinterest exploded with pins and how to’s. At first I scoffed, but then I started to take everything in. This could be the answer! Then The Minimalists started a podcast. That’s what really got me in gear. I wanted to be a minimalist.
Well, we did it. A year’s worth of podcasts, blog posts, essays, stories and three iterations of The Bachelor. Feels like yesterday we were waking up on opposite sides of the country to post your first round of work to Rockette when it launched a year ago today. Actually it feels like a hazy dream. (It was really early on the west coast.)
I’m an English major so words hold a profoundly deep place in my heart. Lately (I guess in light of our holy month), I’ve been picking apart the words of my religion in hopes of gaining a stronger belief in God through the literature of Islam. And I don’t mean the Quran, though studying our Book is indeed important; I mean the everyday Arabic words we use to describe the rituals of being a Muslim.
I walked into the classroom for the first time as an educator and my initial thought was, “Damn, I am hungry,” quickly followed by, “Holy crap, I have to teach these kids Old English. The heck I know about Old English?” The answer is not a lot, and I was probably craving a Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap with steak. Go try it. It’s amazing.
As some of you may recall, I was facing down 30 with some level of sorrow and loss for 22-year-old Carrie who had lost sight of her dreams and passions. I committed to changing this aspect of my life. Shortly after my 30th birthday, I found out I had been accepted into a Masters program in international crime and human rights. And the cherry on top? The program required me to spend four and a half months in Italy. This was it. This was my chance to redefine my career, to find myself again, and to commit my life to social change. So. I worked out the details with my boyfriend and family. I quit my job. I booked a plane ticket. I had several confusing and frustrating phone calls with the Consulate. I packed my bags. Until. The sponsoring organization cancelled the program one week before it was set to begin. One week.
1. There is such a thing as an $80 haircut and I can't afford said $80 haircut.
2. The importance of Frame of reference. Thanks invisibilia.
3. I don't like Jennifer Lawrence.
We’ve all been there. You’re in line with a friend at Starbucks and she orders a pumpkin spice latte or out at the bar and orders a Strongbow. She turns to you shamefaced and say, “…Sorry I know, it’s so basic”, like she’s admitting a predilection for something terrible. Why? Why do we beat ourselves up for loving something so simple?
I realized this week, as it suddenly dawned on me that I was turning 30, that I am not afraid of aging (I have a really good night cream). I am sad. I am grieving my 20s. I will miss late nights with my roommates snuggled four in a bed made for two. I will miss each of the apartments – even the crappy ones with the unethical landlords. I will miss the feeling of opening a new legal textbook for the first time. I will miss all the firsts that come from a decade of growing up. I will miss all the opportunity and unknown that my 20s presented.
Julie Lythcott-Haims is a lot of things. She’s a daughter. She’s a mother. She’s the former Dean of Freshman at Stanford University and a Ted Talk speaker. She holds several degrees including a Law Degree from Harvard. The identity that didn’t come as easy to her was that of black woman. In her memoir, Real American, Julie gives us her evolution of how growing up in a mixed race household and in many all white settings meant learning about and loving herself as a black woman would take some time. In How To Raise An Adult, Julie turned her Stanford experience and her mind for research into a manifesto for modern parenting.
The people at Vote Together have spent the past couple of years studying ways to increase voter turnout. One way they’ve found to get people to the polls is to change the culture around voting. By making the experience more communal and celebratory, they’re finding voter engagement improves. I spoke with Vote Together’s Director Angie Jean-Marie who shared with me why this cause became so important to her.
Some people are performers, and some people are cultural touchstones. Britney Spears has gone beyond singer/dancer/actor/talent judge to permanent icon status. I’ve had a long love affair with Britney, so I was thrilled to find the podcast We Need To Talk About Britney. Actor and writer, Jen Zaborowski hosts the show, and talks not only about Britney’s work, but also how Britney’s life in the public eye mirrors so much of our culture at large.
On this episode, Ahmed Best and I continue our discussion about Star Wars. We talk about how the backlash Ahmed experienced is both similar and different to what Loan Tran (originally known to audiences as Kelly Marie Tran) experienced with The Last Jedi. We also talk about how excited we are for Andrew Gillum’s campaign for Governor in Florida and how we believe displaced Puerto Ricans might save us all. We love our Puerto Rican sisters and brothers!
Trigger Warning: Suicide
In July, my friend Ahmed Best revealed that in his darkest days he contemplated taking his own life. The pendulum of his career has been nothing short of extraordinary. He got his big break performing in the cast of Stomp The Musical which led to an offer to play a first-of-its-kind character in the Star Wars prequels. His character, Jar Jar Binks, would lead the way for the development of motion capture technology in film, but he would also become the punching bag for everything fans didn’t love about the movies. Ahmed was in the precarious position of being associated with a character who both was and wasn’t him.
When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, my heart dropped, and I wasn’t alone. Millions of women who have marched, organized, and donated saw their civil rights being swept away by the recommendation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh from our current administration. Women’s health is not the only issue in grave danger if Kavanaugh gets the seat. Immigration, LGTBQ rights, and almost every facet of American life will be affected. We’re being told Kavanaugh is a foregone conclusion. What you will hear in this show is that IT IS NOT. But we need your help. Please listen to and share this episode featuring the Los Angeles stop on the Rise Up For Roe Tour. The arguments that this is the most important issue, and we can win are compelling.
One of my favorite things is to see is when a friend keys into their passion. This has been the case with my friend and repeat guest, Nina Manni. She left her comedy career behind when she realized it wasn’t making her happy. What DID make her happy was traveling all over the world for CHEAP, but doing it well. Once she figured out how to do it, she wanted to help others do it too. She’s got some great tips for everyone!
If you have ever felt like therapy was not for you, this episode is for you. I wanted to open up a little about my experience with therapy, and eliminate some of the stigma around it. It was the perfect time to give you a talk with Matt Marr. Matt is a therapist, an actor, and hosts The Dear Mattie Show.
Do you know who holds office for your district in the House of Representatives for your State? If you don’t, you’re not alone. With the country so hyper focused on national politics, it might seem tedious to focus on local government. However, no one is having a greater impact on your daily life than your locally elected officials. Not to …
Raise your hand if you need a mental health break. I know I do. If this is you too, I highly recommend checking out the Netflix film, Ibiza. It stars Gillian Jacobs (Community), Vanessa Bayer (SNL), Phoebe Robinson (2 Dope Queens), and Richard Madden (Game Of Thrones). I loved the movie so much, I asked screenwriter Lauryn Kahn to talk …
At 17, I was sexually abused by a voice coach who had become a mentor, a friend, my family. At 18 years old, a blood clot caused my body to go into septic shock. I was in a coma for six months, and after a total gastrectomy, I was unable to eat or drink a drop of water for six of the past ten years. After 27 surgeries, I was miraculously reconnected with the intestines I had left. To persevere through those tumultuous years took great inner and outer strength — strength I didn’t know I was capable of until I was tested.
At 18, my grandmother was faced with life-threatening circumstances and little did I know, I would connect with her struggles so deeply. When I was 18 — a week before my high school senior prom — I randomly found myself in intense pain. I woke up six months later, only to learn that my stomach had literally burst to the top of the OR and exploded, and after both my lungs collapsed and 122 units of blood, I almost died. Here I was, suddenly displaced from my former life as a carefree, audacious, musical-theatre-loving teen, and thrust into a world of tubes, bags, beeping machines, and a world of crisis where everything became minute to minute — a fight from physical, emotional and spiritual survival.
So what do you do when you’ve invested everything into your passion and you can’t follow it anymore? I’ve always thought about what would a world-concert pianist would do if he injured his hand, or a dancer breaking a leg…
…but sprains heal and wounds can eventually mend. Dire circumstances felt much more long lasting; when at 18 I awoke from a coma. Although the medical staff—that suddenly became everyday faces—was more concerned about keeping my organs and me alive, I was still trying to grapple with one frightening new concern:
Would I ever be able to sing and dance on stage again?
This may be the most vanilla story of a bad sexual encounter ever, but I doubt the story is rare. In fact, I had a least one conversation with a female comedy acquaintance where she implied she had a similar experience with the same guy. This is how too many men in comedy view women. And as I hear the cries of men in the distance yelling “not all men!” “I would never!” I know. I agree. Not all men ignore the no’s of women. Of course not all men are rapists, sexual assailants or grey area lurkers, but all women have faced some form of misogyny small or large, and isn’t that the problem?
I've spent a lot of time "waiting" in my life. As a kid I grew antsy with impatience, waiting until I was "older" to start dating, to go to the mall unsupervised, to learn how to drive. I was counting the days until I turned 18, giddy at the idea of college and independence at last. Two weeks after I turned 18, I was pulled into another realm where "waiting" took on an entirely new meaning.
"Besides," this voice takes a big deep breath after monologuing so long. This voice always loses its breath after it spews so much self-hate and bile and self-invalidation into my little ears, usually at night or at moments where I start to feel confident. This voice does not use its diaphragm properly and could benefit from dialect classes, ones I will inevitably register and pay for it to attend.
I have fond memories of shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale with my mom and sister twice a year for back-to-school clothes and summer outfits. We would drive to Oakbrook, get there before the doors opened and like a mad-dash a la supermarket sweep go bananas. To us, this was the biggest sale of the season! Remember, this was before shopping online was a thing #ifeelold
Yesterday we had a blast at a co-ed baby shower BBQ where the whole fam was invited! Such a fun crew and we are so excited to welcome another dude to this world! Rach and Dave are going to be amazing parents!
So I am never one to deter from registries, however, I do tend to give mom and baby a little something they might not know they need. Going from zero to one is the biggest life change I have ever experienced. You go from being totally selfish to constantly aware of the time and who needs to be where when. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time #amiright ?
This Fourth of July was one summer outing I was REALLY looking forward to. Fortunately we were invited back to Molly and Dave’s in the suburbs, after a debaucherous Sunday a month ago. Kids galore, food and bevvies a plenty, hilarious rafts (NO, we did not have. a penis one, get your head out of the gutter! We have children!!…but do they make those?!) and the best company around. I knew this holiday celebration would not disappoint.
Sunday we went to the Cubs game with dear friends. This is the second year in a row this crew was able to get their act together to make plans and go! It’s super fun since their two boys are about 6 months older than our two kids. Last year was a bit cold, Gray was 4 months old and to sum it up, the day was a blur and kind of a shit show. Fun, but holy hands on.
Jon and I initially chose Scottsdale for our next family vacation as I was originally to attend a work conference in Las Vegas and I would fly to meet the fam afterwards (now it was his turn to travel solo with the two kids!!) This year my company paired down the attendees and I did not make the shortlist, but I had already booked the hotel! Small lesson learned to not always plow ahead with my to-do list, but it honestly could not have been a better forced decision.
After our fun with the kids at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, I spent some time last weekend looking at our finances. This is usually Jon’s domain, but we made an agreement that I would look at our expenses if he could spend that time working. So my role is to cut spending and his role is to bring in more bacon, and we should, by the logic of math, save more. I’m confident in Jon earning more, but would not bet on myself to lessen my spending. I mean, I just went to Paper Source for a few goodies for Liv’s teachers and $200 later. On paper. Honestly. I have a problem.
Some days it feels like summer has finally arrived in Chicago (hello hot & humid!), and others are spent indoors because of the rain or cold, figuring out what to do with our crazy kids who need to burn some energy. It will be here to stay soon enough though! So bring on the beach, pool and rose!
Who knew that ditching out of work early on a Friday back in 2008 to hang on the beach as the sun set, eating mangos, would lead to this life. We have been through some extreme highs and some devastating lows, but always have each other’s back.
I am no saint. I tend to have a bite when I bark back. I’d like to think most of the time I listen, really listen, to the other side. Nod my head appropriately, ask questions, consider the other sides position and not try to cram my own agenda down their throat. Not cut them off before they’ve finished their point because I already know what they’re going to say. That really bothers people. It really bothers me.
I had lunch with a few fellow mom co-workers the other day. After some chit chat on schedules, sleep training, transition to “big girl bed” we got deep. One just said how guilty she feels being at work. She just openly said it. Not fearful that it might get back to her boss, or of any repercussions of it getting out within the office. I don’t know why I feel this is taboo to talk about.
I do not like to wait.
Tired and impatient, I shuffle from foot to foot, craning my neck to see what the holdup could possibly be. I’m in line at Target at 9 pm on a Sunday. This is apparently not Target’s Happy Hour. I neglected to get a cart, and (as always happens in Target) have about five more items than I planned or needed. I shift them in my arms, hoping to maintain the pile’s balance. Thankfully, a cashier appears and opens another register. The family ahead of me defects to her lane; I follow.
And that’s when I notice them, and finally pay attention to the very specific items in their overflowing cart.
We’ve talked about sex. We’ve talked about religion. It was only a matter of time before we talked about politics, right?
My 28th birthday is this weekend, and I’ve reached the point in my life where I have no interest in wasting my time. Because of this – I like to get down to the nitty gritty on the very first date.
Taboo? Perhaps. But who’s got time to spend with someone that they just don’t align with? Not me. And I bet you don’t either, #BossLady.
Fun fact: in addition to being a *full-time blogger (*HA), I am also a singer/actor. I do musical theatre. I love it.
In college, I was trained to approach auditioning as the real job, and performing as the reward. Actors receive roughly 99x more rejection than we do offers, and in all honesty, I’ve adjusted fairly well to it. I’m pretty resilient.
About 3 years ago however, I recognized an audition habit I’d developed after my first few years of working professionally in theatre.
I didn’t care.
I did not go into the night thinking this would happen. I went into the night exhausted, dreading being out at all, and planning to be home in bed at 10 pm.
But isn't that how all the best stories start?
A really big part of my life, which you may have noticed given the title of this blog, is food.
Like, food makes me happier than….let’s just say ‘most things’. And while some might categorize me as an “emotional eater”, I just categorize myself as SOMEONE WHO RECOGNIZES THEIR WANTS AND NEEDS. GoddAMNIT.
Because of this, I’ve decided it’s time for a literal GGE post. Ima countdown my top 5 Chicago date spots, and what to order when you’re there. I didn’t keep a detailed list of every date I went on in 2016 for nothin’.
Halfway through this shitshow of a year where we elected a racist president, lost countless beloved celebrities, and are preparing to bid adieu to the GREATEST FIRST FAMILY OF ALL TIME, I also personally went through a breakup.
Along that same vein, I also approached a semi-breakdown. I was 27 and unexpectedly single.
THIS. WAS NOT. THE PLAN.
Over the next 3 months I went on 17 first dates (yes I kept a detailed list).
I’d say about a third of the dates lead to a second. And about 3 lead to more than that.
Yes, part of me felt like I needed to sow my wild oats. But more so, I just wanted to see what was out there. I’d been in a relationship for 3 years, and dating again somehow felt like this marvelous, magical new land. The game has changed (whether we like it or not).
When I think of my name, I think of how easily it rolls off my lips and onto my tongue. I purse my mouth and let it sit there as it boils beneath the skin: Mariam. If you say it right, it’s magic. The Arabic of it all feels like home, like I never left Syria, like my grandma is still alive, rolling grape leaves as my other grandma kneads dough. My name smells like their kitchens, tastes like their kisses on my cheek.
It’s funny, writing a dating blog. A lot of clichés come to mind when exploring these age old issues. Some of the clichés just plain suck. But others, like I’ve said before, are clichés because they’re right on the money:
“Put yourself out there.” How many times have we heard that one? And what the FUCK does it actually mean?
Of course, the episode of Sex and the City comes to mind when Charlotte and Carrie go see a dating coach speak. The coach challenges Charlotte to ‘put herself out there’, to which Charlotte responds “trust me, I am putting myself out there. All. The. Time”.
Here’s the thing: it’s a really, really good piece of advice. But it’s not tangible.
And so, my dear friends…I’ve compiled a list.
When I was 19 and in the PEAK of my college glory days (thank you Swine Flu #BirthWeight), I started going out with the dreamiest of undergrad boys.
We’d been ‘dating’ (whatever that means in college) for a couple weeks when I got a really bad cough, we went to a party with a few friends of mine, and I consumed 2 WHOLE BEERS.
Watch out folks. She’s wasted.
We got back to his dorm room (*gasp*), and I realized that I probably couldn’t take Nyquil after consuming 2 WHOLE BEERS. So naturally, I made the dude google whether or not you can mix Nyquil with PBR.
Fast forward to when I was 23 years old. My mom was in Chicago, visiting me for a long weekend. We were riding the bus, and I told her that I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to have children.
“What?” she exclaimed. “But you love kids! You’re so good with them!”
She wasn’t wrong (#humble). At the time I was a nanny for several families I adored, I’d always babysat growing up, and for years I’d so badly wanted a younger sibling.
I told her that yes, I love children, but I just wasn’t sure if it was for me. I’m very career-driven and I like my life the way it is! I’m a city-dweller, and I’d come to the realization that having a family was an option, but not the only option.