Here I am

I think it’s right around the time that I started writing professionally that I stopped writing personally. And as I stand and look at the bleak landscape of what is the copywriting critiques of some other company’s blog and therefore, their words, I remember why I miss it.

There’s something so invigorating about writing something that no one can touch. These are my words. These are my thoughts. These are my opinions. And yes, that’s three sentences in a row that I started with the word ‘these’ and there’s nothing that your edit-crazy, get in line pen can do about it.

I feel so free! For years (has it been years?) I’ve been stuck in a content cycle that never ends. 140 characters of abide by my rules, trim this, cut that and finally, finally I’m opening a blank word document and writing an essay for myself.

Why aren’t you writing, Meg? Their words like echoes on a procrastination loop in my brain. I am writing, I insist! I am writing.

But not for me.

Over three years ago, I wrote my last blog. I need to live, I thought. I need to live and the words will come. But I’ve lived and I came so close to writing again- each time like standing next to a treadmill that was running beside me but never getting on. Each time thinking ok, I’m going to just jump on and go and seizing up in preparation and then realizing my shoe wasn’t tight enough to go through with it.

And the echo in my brain blares again. Why aren’t you writing?

And finally, I scream back… I am.

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Recently, through a series of reflective (literally, cause mirror) hair straightening sessions I’ve been giving ample thought to the following questions, “Dearest Meg, what do you like to do outside the realm of spending money on pretty things and eating delicious food?” and (said in song) “When will my reflection show who I am inside?” (Namely, Blake Lively. When will I look like Blake Lively.)

But back to the first question, as it’s actually a question and not merely a desperate never-ending Christmas wish.

I’ve been feeling recently that everything I love to do (ie: my passions, hobbies, interests etc.) involve some sort purchasing a good or service and/or consuming decadent cuisine. “When did these become my only pastimes?” I ponder as I absent-mindedly leave my straightener in a particular portion of my hair until smoke pours off. I am not this dense! I have substance! I am goal-oriented and curious about the world around me so how is it possible that because I can’t go shopping or go out to eat all of a sudden, I’m bored?

And with this one Cher Horowitz inspired external monologue, I suddenly lose my clueless disposition and realize what’s been missing from my life. 

I miss writing with no purpose whatsoever. At some point, I’ve gotten so wrapped up in a laundry list of work writing tasks and accomplishments, I stopped creating just to create. Sure, I post my silly instagram captions and an occasional witty status update. But it’s just not enough. I miss writing long-winded dialogues about whatever I freaking want.

I want to write restaurant reviews for the every day eater, and in-depth analyses about why I think Taylor Swift is one of the most brilliant business women of our time and short auto-biographical stories about how I attempted to make a casserole tonight that I plan on eating for the next 5 days and how it sadly tastes exactly like parsley and poverty.

Mostly, I think I need to redefine what Leftovers From Friday stands for and accept the fact that much like the concept of leftovers themselves, I don’t have to abide by a set standard of what I’ve always written. Leftovers are the remains of what used to be. So you get what you get, and you either eat it or you don’t. Today it’s this. Tomorrow it’s that. I’m not a fashion blogger, or a nutritional expert, or posting emo photos of that one time at band camp, but not writing with a particular purpose… is kind of what I do best.

Two Truths and a Lie: On living alone, on feeling alone, on eventually becoming Olivia Pope

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This part of my life is entitled ‘7 Minutes in Heaven’ when it comes to giant tubs of hummus and ‘Never Have I Ever’ when to comes to sex and also, truth I might have dared to dance around in my underwear to a Backstreet Boys medley for an hour last night. it is also entitled ‘Two Truths and a Lie’ because everything I say, do, and write can and will eventually be used for awkward company ice-breaker activities and/or high school coming-of-age drinking games.

My editor that I don’t yet have will tell me this is entirely too long of a book title because I’m not Fiona Apple and I’m definitely never going to sell one copy of any publication if I can’t at least tweet the name of it in less than 140 characters.
And alas, my fake, imaginary editor has a point. I would have killed it during Shakespearean times. Lengthy, floral writing FTW. Less thus and thous. Same general metaphorical concept. Thine word game is divine ninja-level. Nay, I digress.

I have officially lived by myself for four weeks and three days. And it has been nothing but instance after instance of pure unadulterated ecstasy. Because as it turns out, I am absolutely spectacular at living by myself. There is a simple kind of joy that comes with turning the key to a place that is all yours full of material possessions that are also all yours. Even the air in the place is mine. My plans are mine, my food is mine, the day is mine and I’m just seizing it into submission.

It is delight.

There are struggles. As with any change. For instance, wearing dresses that zip up the back and spending nearly ten minutes of interpretative zipper-related gymnastics with the simple goal of freeing myself from the garment I personally imprisoned myself in.

Some nights, I get a little scared. Irrational fears beyond burglars and homeless transients staring at me as I sleep but rather more along the lines of the grudge girl slowly but surely taking up real estate in my furnace room and plotting her attack on my brain. Also, zombies. Always zombies.

No one wakes me up when I’m late and no one can help me make a game time fashion decision. Luckily, I rarely sleep in and my fashion sense is impeccable, so neither is a huge concern.

The concept of being alone is both an illusion and a reality. In reality, I live by myself. I am alone. I am one person living in one place. I make meals for one. I watch solo television. I dance and I sing and I laugh all by myself.

Society’s perception of being alone will tell you this makes me damaged. I am the scene in The Holiday where Kate Winslet’s character starts weeping (because British people do not cry, they weep) into her stove and starts intensely inhaling carbon monoxide briefly intent on ending her solo misery with suicide. I am Bridget Jones frumpy diary. I am Liz Lemon’s Chinese leftovers. I am Elle Woods post-break up, Mia Thermopolis pre-makeover, Julia Stiles before Heath Ledger, and the entire Never Been Kissed plot before what’s his name finally makes out with Drew Barrymore finally ridding her of that horrible nickname- Josie Grossie.

Society’s perception of being alone will also tell you this makes me empowered. I am the scene in Charlie’s Angels when Cameron Diaz dances in her superhero underwear because she freaking can! I am Juno MacGuff’s hamburger phone. I am Erin Brockovich’s leopard print bra. I am Carrie Bradshaw post-breakup, Hermione Granger pre-makeover, Veronica after JD, and the final dance scene in The First Wives Club.

Because the truth is, we believe what we want to believe and we see what we want to see and my truth is different than yours but absolutely correct and yet somehow your truth is much truer than mine but all of it is true because we decide it to be.

I can be both needy and powerful because it’s all about how I see myself. And how you see me. And how I choose to let how you see me, make me see myself.

If that made no sense- which it probably didn’t- allow me to explain.

You meet this guy. This girl. This person. Whatever. You really like them. No, I mean you REALLY like them. You think about them in a way that your brain just does that thing in Mario cart where you just drift into a median and keep crushing (get it) your little heart cart against the idea of this person which is really just a wall but all you see is windows and star power.

And you’re texting them trying to be relaxin maxin chillin all cool but really you’re internally freaking out because omg, Mario cart is jumping off every race track into the great abyss of love. And you’re all do they like me? Why aren’t they texting me back? Why didn’t she call me? What does his text mean? Screenshot. Snapchat. Long drunk conversation with stranger who doesn’t give two shits. Compulsively checking iPhone in a similar fashion to the day your online shopping order will arrive. Where the hell are my shoes?

And meanwhile, this other person you so desperately want to play with is off pretending to be Zelda or something like not even on the same gaming platform because they are pursuing someone playing monopoly who is pursing someone who doesn’t like games at all but just prefers to drink beer.

And you’re over here analyzing everything and thinking, alright, alright, alright-I think they like me! When in reality, you’re dazed and confused and they don’t at all and they never will but you can’t see that truth until you finally cross that heart racetrack finish line and hang up your delusional joy sticks and finally turn off the game you’ve been playing and look a different truth, in the face.

Because perception- much like cheese on macaroni and sweatpants on couches- means everything. And perception, much like the size of your…truck and Tinder personal messages- means nothing.

I like living by myself. But I don’t consider myself alone. You might never want to live by yourself because then you’d have to see yourself differently. That’s the truth for you. You choose to believe it. Just like you choose to believe someone cares about you or someone doesn’t care about you or that you aren’t alone because you have a roommate or that you are alone because you don’t.

This part of your life is entitled, I see things the way I want to, until one day I don’t. That’s called experience. That’s called change. That’s called adaption and maturity.  That’s called reality. That’s called perception. But above all, that’s called life.

And on that note, this part of my life is called, I’m happy. And despite other’s perspectives on my reality, at least for today- that is nothing but the simple truth.

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The Season of Sharing: #APoem

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T’was the season of being social and we don’t just mean “Season’s Greetings”

As you wake up each morning and check your email and meetings

And flag the latest deals and mark them all as read–

You can catch up on the world’s news without ever leaving bed!

 

And Buzzfeed just posted yet another silly quiz

About what drink you should be, or in what city you should live

And the gift guides and online sales come across your screen

Reminding you that time is running out to get the gift of your dreams

 

When out from your iPhone there arose such a clatter

A new Facebook notification? Now, nothing else matters!

Away to your lock screen, your fingers swipe like a flash

Type in your passcode, and open the app

 

There’s no joy quite like the click that lies ahead

A little white number surrounded in red

When, what may appear on the updated newsfeed?

Oh, only the hundredth “like” on your holiday selfie!

 

With a couple emojis that really say it best

That thanks to your fans, you are truly #blessed

More rapid than Wi-Fi, your posting is shared

To your entire social network, and anyone who cares

 

On Snapchat, on Facebook, on Vine and YouTube

On Tumblr, on Twitter, on Instagram too!

Now sit back, refresh and watch your screen start to glow

As your retweets, favorites and followers grow!

 

Yet, you find yourself pondering a time less complicated

When social media wasn’t around, and hashtags weren’t created

And print was king, and there was no photo filters for your flaws

And Virginia wrote to the Sun, to find out if there was a Santa Clause

 

And you didn’t have to constantly see countless engagements,

And pictures of babies and edible arrangements

And random holiday cards arrived on your doormat

Instead of distant cousins now wanting to chat

 

And just when you think you’re finally through

That’s it, you’re done! No more for you!

You think of people you haven’t seen in a while

And the Instagram picture that made you smile

 

The lights, they twinkled! Their cheeks like cherries!

Your best friend on one knee, asking his girl to get married.

Memories and conversations you get to experience from afar

That you don’t have to be present, to see how happy they are!

 

And the blog you pinned to make a cookie recipe

So you can make them this year to put by the tree

And the viral stories about the good of mankind

Are a hopeful reminder during your daily grind

 

Where your dream job lies at the click of a mouse

You can learn how to cook while never leaving your house!

And strangers become friends, and make you feel less alone

Where the conversation never ends, and it’s all on your phone

 

Where we spotlight hunger, and poverty and crime and war

So we can donate our good tidings to those who need it more.

And we can watch our children grow up before our eyes

Empathize with their lows and celebrate their highs

 

And you spring to your mobile, your message is clear!

140 characters about a more social frontier…

“The world, in person, can be selfish and mean–

Let’s share more this season, even if just on a screen. “

On playground politics, regretful hairballs, and being your own story’s superhero

I wish I could say it’s the first time I’ve been here.

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Or the second.

Or the third.

The truth is I’ve probably been in similar positions dozens of times my entire life and I conveniently forget how difficult a previous experience was to make room for feeling sorry for myself in a current situation.

I remind myself of the facts again.

I have talents. I am intelligent. I am articulate and well-spoken. I am manically passionate, recklessly impulsive, fiercely loyal, occasionally quick to anger but equally fast to forgive.

I also know I am flawed and imperfect but unceasingly resilient in regards to improving those shortcomings. I believe recognizing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses keeps you humble. I also believe it gives you something to work toward.

My name is Meg and I honestly believe that tomorrow will be better than today.

However, right now, on this super fun Saturday morning, I feel sorry for myself and despite my pathetic scratching feeble attempts to escape, I have concluded sitting down cross-legged in this wallowing dirt hole of NOTHING IS GOING RIGHT is in fact, my destiny.

… For now.

When things go wrong (as they often do), I think it is human nature to first blame the situation. When similar situations happen again, I think it is also natural to find that fault in yourself. Different place, different time, different people, same story, same Meg.

The logic is there. It makes perfect sense. But yet, it’s a slowly growing hairball in the back of your throat and the more you dwell on it, the more you hack and cough on its presence. It’s counter-productive, and ultimately, it’s choking you.

Because it’s only when you let it go and get it out, that you can breathe again.

…Or at least that is what I assume, as I am not a cat and have never hacked up a giant hair ball, and let us all take a moment to thank God for that.

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Did you guys ever watch the TV show, Recess? It was a Saturday morning cartoon about a ragtag friend group and amid all the slap-stick humor that is Saturday morning cartoon television, offered up some (in my opinion) pretty profound advice to the youth of the late 90’s.

A particular episode entitled, “Nobody doesn’t like TJ” has always stuck with me. TJ Detweiler (main character, cool kid with backwards hat) spends an entire episode attempting to convince the one kid at school who doesn’t like him, that they should be friends.

And TJ really chucks his “A-Game” at this bro. He truly throws out his best bag of friend-related tricks. It’s impressive work. As a 10-year-old, you’re kind of watching going woah, I wish TJ was MY friend!

At the end of this particular episode, TJ, in so many words, asks this kid, “Yo, so are you Team Teej or what, homie?” And this guy responds “Yeah, I had a good time. But I still don’t like you.” AND THEN?? HE. WALKS. AWAY. Like… what!!! Damn kiddo, that is some straight-up cold cereal.

At the tender age of 10, I got this adult thematic lesson loud and clear. Not everyone is going to like you Meg. Not everyone is going to want to be your friend. Not everyone is going to have your back or have your best interests in mind. You can put on a smile, compliment, include and welcome them and those same people will continue to do and say thoughtless, manipulative and unkind things just for the sake of pissing you off and getting ahead.

Yet, you have to rise above it. You have to adopt your superhero good-before-evil mantra, imagine you can fly, appear to be invincible, focus on your passion, find your people, turn your ball-cap backward, and shake it off.

At 10 years old, I got that. At 25, the playground of life is a bit more intricate. I like you and I don’t like you are no longer as one-dimensional as Saturday morning cartoons suggested. FYI to all nursery rhymes–no one’s really throwing sticks and stones anymore because it’s not the Middle Ages. These days, we’re all throwing words and yeah, our limbs are just fine, thank you, but our hearts and our minds have seen healthier times.

And despite the lessons I continue to learn as an adult that I thought I understood as a child, I still find myself wanting to be TJ Detweiler. I still desperately want the approval, admiration and acceptance of everyone I surround myself with even though I know in my scarred, bruised and beaten heart, what a fool’s errand that really is. And time and time and time again, I find myself exhausted and defeated, sitting at the bottom of a wallowing hole that I personally put myself in, wondering wait, how did I get back here?

These words are my rescue ladder out. My reminder to myself that the facts above remain true. That I need to continue to work toward being the best version of myself regardless if others like or want to associate with that person. To work toward solutions and not being a part of a problem. To being a superhero in my own story and being ok with being the villain in someone else’s. To always being the main character and not just some anonymous victim stranded in a manhole waiting for someone to rescue me.

Remember why you’re here. To laugh. To smile. To learn. To grow. To adapt. To change. Not to wallow. Not to choke. Not to dwell on lost friendships, ruined relationships, missed opportunities, stupid mistakes and all the kids on the playground that just don’t, for whatever reason, like you and just never will.

“You can’t have a better tomorrow, if you keep thinking about yesterday.”

To today–

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One time on Miracle Mile…

When I first moved to LA, post-quitting my nanny job and before I started at Conde, I babysat for an assortment of families all around the LA area.

One of these families, based in West Hollywood/Miracle Mile area had two children that I took to the Auto Museum one day. I drove their car and parked on Wilshire around 2:30 PM. We had a pretty good time drawing pictures and drinking milkshakes, until it occurred to me that I never checked the parking perimeters. For some reason I knew at 4PM something changed. It was 4:20. In a full panic, I dragged both kids down the street to their parents car that was literally moments away from being put onto the bed of a tow truck.

I was so distraught, I immediately started sobbing. Here I was without a job, living in a city that I knew nothing about, begging a tow truck driver to please, please, PLEASE do not load this car also full knowing that regardless, I was going to get a whopping ticket, which probably wouldn’t even been covered by the all-day sitting job that was just supposed to give me enough money to buy groceries to just LIVE.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I got the tow truck guy to leave the car, instead gifting me with a 200 dollar ticket. Thanks bro. It was pretty devastating, not to mention the kids had seen the whole thing, which meant I knew I better tell the parents ASAP because you knew if they heard about it from the kids first, I was going to look like a straight mental case.

So I confessed the whole situation as soon as I got back to their place and told them, they could just consider today free and I would just pay the ticket instead. I saw the pity in their eyes, and immediately felt extremely pathetic and sad for myself. Idiot. You should have checked that sign! Why didn’t you check the damn parking sign?

I was about to leave when the Dad handed me an envelope.

“I remember when I first moved here”, he said. “I lived on the floor for 3 weeks and spent more than a couple nights in my car. Here’s the ticket cost and a little extra. Don’t give up on the reason you’re here… You’ll figure this out.”

Whenever I’m discouraged, I remember that moment. The extreme gratitude I felt. The look on his face. Feeling hopeless and being hopeful. I remember how far I’ve come from the girl who was begging some tow truck driver to please have mercy on me just this once in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard. The kindness of that father despite my carelessness.

The memory of what it’s like to be a hungry 22-year-old living on a dream.

His words echo in my head:

“Don’t give up on the reason you’re here. You’ll figure this out.”

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dream on

I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while but honestly, I’ve never really had the words to say to do it justice.

I’ve gone on long runs with sentences flying through my head like mini planets, orbiting in rhythm, and me trying to make sense of them but getting to the end, chugging some water, and my point disappearing into the gravity of what’s next on my daily agenda. I’ve been swirling the cereal bowl of my brain looking for sense in the mealy remains but not really finding anything but nonsensical leftovers.

Up until this moment, it’s always been abstract ingredients. But today, despite the sad circumstances and also because of them, I’m ready to offer up some food for thought.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written before this, then you know I’m a big believer in following your arrow. Going after what makes you happy, at all costs, no matter what. Doing that one thing that wakes you up in the morning and makes you lose sleep thinking about at night. Drumming solo, walking alone, a living breathing 80’s pop ballad in search of your own purpose. Dream on, brotha.

I’m an advocate for living the dream. For starting at the bottom, and arriving. To getting there. That’s why we’re alive right??

Now it’s there I hesitate. It’s after you reach there. It’s after you reach the world’s version of success.

And as time goes on, I’m beginning to think I don’t know what success looks like anymore. The dream seems to send itself straight into debt and rehab more often than not and I’m just running around mostly wondering if being happy and being successful are even the same thing.

If accomplishing your dreams means you lose all sense of self along the way, is that really success at all?

Very simply.. your dreams, for what price?

Several years ago, I caught Bieber Fever. Yes. True. I believed in the kid in purple, who started on the steps of a church playing guitar for anyone who’d listen. I believed in his earnest passion, his dedication to his talent. I believed he deserved to win big. To make it. To get there. I believed in Justin Bieber mostly because I saw myself in him. That desire to win, that steadfast sincere belief that someday he’d get there.

And he did.

But the cute, approachable, passionate Justin Bieber of 5 years ago, is long gone. In his place is a snotty, rude, entitled creation of a machine that we designed. However, as predicted, Bieber is extremely successful. At just 20 years old, his net worth is 130 Million. He also has the highest selling single in US history and the world record for three No.1 US and UK albums before the age of 18.

Several months ago, Phillip Seymour Hoffman died in his apartment of an accidental drug overdose. The actor was found dead on his bathroom floor after mixing heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamines. Hoffman was nominated for an Academy Awards four times over the course of his life and won an Oscar for best actor in 2006. His estimated worth was around 35 million upon his death.

And finally, yesterday, one of the most talented and by all accounts, “successful” comic geniuses of our time committed suicide alone in his home. Robin Williams battled severe depression, addiction, and several divorces before he ended his life. He was 63.

Three different men. All wildly successful by societal standards; all troubled souls on an individual scale.

You can argue success doesn’t always lead to above. It can be humble and respectful, understated and modest.

But truthfully, who gets to the top of their mountain and whispers, well guys I made it. Time to go back down now and fulfill a quiet life on a suburban cul-de-sac with my neighbor Jedediah who likes to grill things and race his moped while his wife is shopping at Kohls.

Hello! If social media taught me anything, it’s that people don’t even need to be actually successful to pretend they have all their shit together. Screw keeping up with the Jones, we are the Jones! Keep up with us bitches!

So it’s not shocking when you do actually “make it” that keeping up appearances, and appearing as if you have it all together becomes ten-fold. You’re only as cool, as rich, as nonchalant, as funny, as successful as you appear to be. You are a facade of your own self.

And that’s the basis of my struggle here. To understand the very foundation of what success means to me. Seeing those lives play out once one achieves those dreams. How it often leads to cruelty, addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, loneliness, and so cold you can see your own breath unhappiness. How you make it to the top of your mountain and yell and yell and yell for people to look at what you’ve accomplished but then you realize, no one’s even listening anymore. And so you tumble-down.

And often, you don’t even care at that point if anyone’s going to stop you.

I don’t know if there is an answer here. I don’t know if it’s possible to pin point a time when the tables turn and your own prosperity pivots on you. All I know is that it’s heart-breaking to see what success does to many people. How it changes them. How we’ve come to expect drug overdoses, suicides, rehab stints, and messy divorces as a side-effect of achieving and living the dream.

Honestly, very simply, it makes me wonder what exactly I’m chasing and why on earth I’m even chasing it.

I’m running down a dream, and I hope when I get there, I respect and revere the path I took to get to the top. That every once in a while, I stop, reevaluate and remember why I do what I do.

That life is precious, fragile, and above all, short.

Don’t waste it.

We’re sorry we lost you to the dream, Mr. Williams. You will be dearly missed.