When it comes to romantic relationships, I’ve been very, very lucky. My boyfriend and I met when we were young and have been together for almost 10 years. Besides one breakup/get back together cycle in college (I told him I needed to go “sow my wild oats” but just spent six months crying and writing free verse poetry in my dorm room instead), our relationship has included minimal drama. Have we been through our fair share of relationship tests? Of course, but we’ve always treated each other with love and respect.
My friendship history, on the other hand, has been chock full of drama. I’ve had more than my fair share of toxic friendships, conflicts, and friend breakups. In fact, sometimes I feel like my tumultuous experiences with friends have been an inverse reaction to my blissfully boring romantic life. Maybe it’s the universe evening things out (this girl has a sweet, steady boyfriend, let’s make sure she has to deal with some craaaaazy friends!), or maybe I just have a certain amount of fucked up relationship energy that needs to go somewhere, and since I’ve been happily paired up for so long, my friendships became the outlet. Keep reading »
Relationships and experiences are a big part of what defines who we are. For many, names become guideposts or signifiers of those relationships or experiences. For a long time, I couldn’t accept my dad and so the allure of casting of the McDonell name felt like it might relieve me of some burden. Of having him in my life, of dealing with the ways I am like him, of seeing him for the fully complex person that he was. I understand the desire to change one’s last name as a marker of starting over, especially when there’s something in your past you want to close the door on.
For a while, my plan was to drop the McDonell from my name, and just be Amelia Parry. It would stay that way when I got married and then, when I had kids, my husband and I could … well, we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. Ideally, we would hyphenate our kid’s name just as my parents had done with my name, until our child grew up and made their own decision about what to do.
But so much has not gone as planned. Keep reading »
If you are a bride, you pose for a lot of photos.
You pose for photos to announce your engagement. You pose for photos at your bachelorette party. You pose for photos at your shower. You pose for photos with your groom-to-be, and with your best friends, and with your family, and with your parents, and then more with your groom. You pose for a lot of photos by yourself, looking happy.
It’s a good time to be photographed, of course. Most of the time, you won’t be able to stop smiling. You’re about to legally bind yourself to the person you love and want to have sex with forever and ever. And someone’s going to give you a really dope food processor as a wedding gift. What’s not to smile about?
It’s also a time that you, as a bride, will become very, very self-conscious of your body. Because as a bride, everything about how you look is going to be on display. Keep reading »
I never realized how much time I spent gossiping until I tried to stop. I’m not a mean-spirited person in the least. The opposite really — I go out of my way to be nice to people. But man, I can kiki (that’s what the drag queens call it) up a storm. As a friend of mine said, “It’s your bread and butter.” But I’m starting to realize that all that butter is clogging my mental arteries and draining my energy.
Last week, I started a program to get my yoga teacher certification. I’ve been practicing since I was 17 and decided it was time to take my knowledge to a higher level. In our first session, the instructors suggested a number of things for the students to strive for, for the duration of our four-month training: daily meditation, contemplating vegetarianism, making a commitment not to lie (even white lies) and doing away with all gossip. Daily meditation I can do, vegetarianism I can’t, not lying … that’s a whole other essay.
I don’t gossip that much, was my knee-jerk reaction, that should be easy. Keep reading »
It’s taken me 34 years, but I’ve decided to become a sports fan. For love. Please let me explain. First, you should know I was born into a family of accomplished jocks. My father played college basketball and my brother played college football. My grandfather and uncle were tennis pros. When they discovered I was left-handed, my parents had high hopes that I would grow up to be a star first basewoman with a mean backhand. No such luck. I was a chubby, allergy-prone child, destined to be nothing more than a ball magnet on the field. My hand-eye-coordination is on the low-functioning end of the spectrum. And my spatial intelligence is completely non-existent. Meaning, I regularly bump into walls.
As a kid, I played soccer for two seasons and softball for one. My positions were respectively fullback and first base, where I tried to move as little as possible and spent entire games imaging a series of slapstick-style vignettes involving the other players until, inevitably a soccer ball or softball popped me right between the eyes and knocked me out. In gym class, I was always picked last, except on days when I had a doctor’s note (which were as many days as I could get away with). Keep reading »
When you turn 25, it feels like an alarm goes off and all of a sudden everyone is buying houses, getting engaged, and reproducing. Each time I log on to Facebook, I’m met with an onslaught of hearts on the side of my feed that tell me about all the engagements, weddings, and babies that have happened since I last checked in. That’s why everyone gives me the side-eye when I tell them that I’m actually moving out of the apartment that I’ve shared with my boyfriend, Chris, for the past three years and away from the only city I’ve ever called home (I didn’t even leave for college). Not only that, I’ll now be a plane ride away. Chris will stay put in Syracuse, New York, and I’m off to Charlotte, North Carolina, to once again pick out girly shower curtains with a roommate.
Normally when someone moves out of the apartment they share with a significant other, there’s a messy breakup. Clothes are thrown on the front lawn, locks are changed, and one partner may be acting out the entire list of instructions from “Before He Cheats” in the parking lot. In my case, quite the opposite is happening. My boyfriend and I are not breaking up. In fact, he fully supports the move. He’s helped me find apartments to check out, and he’s making the drive down with me to get settled in. The weirdest part is that my job allows me to work from home, so I could technically stay put. But I just can’t accept buying a house across from my high school and calling it a day just yet. There’s nothing wrong with that and a lot of people in my town do it, but I still have some adventure left to get out of my system. When you’ve only lived in one city your entire life, it becomes pretty uninspiring after a while. I need to experience someplace new in order to fully appreciate my hometown and keep growing as a person. Keep reading »
I’ve had some sucky breakups in my day. The guy who dumped me after we had sex. The guy I had been living with. But no breakup has hurt for so long afterward as the friendship ending between me and my best friend, James*. James and I became close in 8th grade and stayed thick as thieves through high school, college, and our first few years living on our own in New York City, when we never lived more than walking distance from each other’s apartments. James was more than a friend; he was family. When our friendship ended, I mourned the loss as if he were a brother. He had been more like a brother to me than my own brother over the years.
Now he’s engaged to his longtime girlfriend. And I found out about it over Facebook. Keep reading »
Originally appeared on Role/Reboot. Republished here with permission.
I threw away all my underwear today. Scratch that. Today, I threw away all of my underwear that would be classified as “lacy little things,” “thongs,” or, in Victoria’s Secret parlance, “cheekies.” Scratchy, itchy, barely-there? It had to go.
I have never lived alone, but in two weeks I will be moving into my first solo apartment. I will be sans-roommate, single girl-ing all up in this city; I am woman, hear me roar! Among the many horrid chores of moving, there is one beacon of joy: the Great Purge. I am a packrat by nature — note every 5K bib I’ve preserved, the melted plastic cup twisted by a deck fire, the tile from the floor of a hostel in San Juan — but moving is the kick in the butt I need to separate what I hoard sentimentally (all of the above) and what I hoard lazily.
The underwear is lazy. No pair has been purchased in the last four years. No pair has been worn more than five times. No pair brings a smile to my face or a steamy memory to the forefront of my mind. The truth, quite simply, is that I hate them all. About a hundred bucks and eight ounces of lace and elastic are now buried by garbage and I feel fantastic. Keep reading »
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted people to like me. For years, I tried to please everyone, tried to juggle countless personalities and identities, hoping to please everyone and be universally liked. I tried to be everything to everyone, to the point where I didn’t know who I actually was. But as I’ve found my voice and begun to embrace who I truly am, I’ve come to realize that it’s not only impossible to try and please everyone; it’s harmful.
In the tattered scrapbook of old friends and extended family members, we all have one or two people with whom we continually clash. Perhaps it’s religious differences. Maybe it’s politics. It could be even be bad blood between other relatives or friends of yours. It could be anything. You may even learn to embrace the tension, to learn from the discord. But what if that relationship becomes more than a simple clash? What do you do when it turns toxic? Keep reading »
It is simple, what happened. I was an eager-eyed and relatively coy 18-year-old who was convinced that I was going to attend any four year university for acting, because I was a Capital A Actress. I applied to many schools for acting, I performed earnest monologues in front of expressionless adults behind a folding table. They thanked me for my time, my tights and sensible flats making me feel pulled together and adult. I wrote an essay about moving to California. The first paragraph contained the word “plucky,” which my eleventh grade English teacher Mr. Green circled with a red pen and scribbled “Good!” in the margin. I applied to Emerson College on a whim, as a backup plan, on the off chance that one of the prestigious and extremely competitive acting programs I applied to wouldn’t accept me. I navigated the hell that is the FAFSA, calling my father on the phone every night to make sure he got the papers and filled them out, pressing the papers into my mother’s hands, making sure that she did her part. I gathered all these things, I sent them in, I waited.
Emerson accepted me as a freshman — for writing, not acting — for the fall of 2000, a welcome relief after two weeks full of skinny rejection letters from various acting programs. I awaited the bounty of financial aid money that I would surely receive. Thanks to complications and a couple of sticky conversations about finances I mediated between my father and stepfather, it turned out that despite how it actually was, on paper, it looked like my combined parents made too much money to qualify for much financial aid, despite the fact that my mother and stepfather had already informed me they were not contributing to my higher education. What came was a paltry offering, an insult really, and not nearly enough money to pay for even one class, let alone an entire semester. After a week of tears and debate and gnashing of teeth, I had two options — apply to the state school in Buffalo, start in the spring semester and go to college in a town where it snowed from October to April, or defer admission at Emerson and reapply for financial aid. Deferring admission seemed the lesser of two evils, so I packed my bags and flew back to New York after high school graduation where I’d wait out my self-inflicted gap year. Keep reading »