Self-Confidence and Social Media

My friend Katie and I went for a hike over the weekend. We brought skis and dogs to a small mountain where the snow came down through the pines on the hillside, muffling the groans of branches when it gusted and the creaks our feet made in the packed powder of the trail. At the peak we slid into ski boots and clicked into bindings, skiing down through falling snow while the dogs padded alongside—quiet and cold, the type of day that changes your life.

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BARF.

Holy moly writing that was terrible. I plagiarized half that diarrhea from a Hemingway book and still it’s making my insides burn with shatred. That’s a combo of shame and hatred and sharts, and it barely describes the amount of discomfort that paragraph makes me feel. “The type of day that changes your life.” Again:

BARF.

But after you’re done throwing up, you can admit it sounded a little bit dope, right? Not the trying-too-hard paragraph, but the hiking experience itself. Katie and I really did hike up a mountain and ski down it with our dogs in tow. Doesn’t it make us sound like a couple of cool Maine ladies who spend their days backcountrying around the backcountry, chilling with four-legged creatures, and adventuring?

Imagine if I posted about our hike on Instagram. That picture of me with the skis and the dogs, with a Walden filter, and some caption about winter and Maine and snow. Maybe I tag L.L.Bean in it. Maybe I quote Robert Frost.

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” -Robert Frost, Snow
#winter #maine #llbean #mansbestfriend #rescuepups #alwaysadopt

If I posted that on Instagram, you might think I was pretentious, but you also might think I was a lil bit cool. Quoting poets, rescuing dogs, hiking snowy mountains. You’d have no idea that I had to Google “Robert Frost quotes” to find that Robert Frost quote. Or that my dog didn’t come from a shelter—he came from a breeder, and I had to barter away months of my life in order to afford that tiny, expensive bed-whizzer. Or that my snowy hike last weekend was not at all life-changing, that in fact it sucked 100% balls.

It was less than two miles to the top but Katie and I each almost had true mental breakdowns on that hike. Our backs hurt, our feet froze, and snowmobilers kept trying to murder us. It took half an hour to get into our ski boots, I was convinced I shattered my Achilles tendon, and when we finally succeeded in putting our skis on, we learned the way back down was not down at all. That shady ass mountain was actually a field in disguise—we had to trek it cross-country style the whole way back. That hike was made of snot rockets and swear words, and it effin blew. But you wouldn’t know it from that picture.

I try to remember that every time I go on Instagram. I’m following lots of people who do cool things, and sometimes I get a little down on myself. My feed’s full of people’s pictures of their houses and vacations and brand new cars. Meanwhile, I’m living with my parents and starting collection jars for candy bars.* Every time I see a cool picture and I feel myself getting jealous, I think of all the ways it could actually suck.

  • Photo of someone’s new house: They have rats living in their walls.
  • Photo of a nice gift from a boyfriend: Their boyfriend is their cousin and also a thief.
  • Photo out of an airplane window: The person in the seat next to them has measles. And is also their boyfriend, the cousin/thief.
  • Photo at the gym, post-workout: They have rats at home, remember, so they like to get out the crib and Planet Fitness is open 24 hours.
  • Photo of their feet near water, someplace warm: The rest of their body is covered in rats. And hickeys from their cousin.

Really, all you have to do is add in rats and incest. Nobody’s life sounds good when you add in rats and incest.

*I’m up to 45 cents, if anyone would like to contribute.

Better Off Home

I took a shower last Saturday night. I put on mascara, perfume, and a T-shirt I’d only worn one other time without washing. I also seriously considered wearing earrings (but pierced ear holes smell like straight booty and idfwt). I was ready for a night out on the town in New England’s 29th biggest city. Curtis and I had plans to get dinner and drinks with a friend in Portland.

But on the way into town, we remembered PLANS ARE FOR FOOLS and instead got pizza and went back to my house to eat cheesecake and watch The Office on Netflix. I was asleep by 9 damn 30, and I couldn’t have been happier. (Also, our friend had furniture troubles and couldn’t make it, so it was just Curtis and me. Hells if we’re gonna spend a Saturday night socializing when we don’t have to.)

The thing is: going out blows. Sometimes I feel bad for thinking it blows so much, and that I don’t do more of it. I’m 25 now—when I’m 80, will I look back at my twenties and regret not going out to the club more often? Will I regret never learning how to twerk or jerk or yeet? (Those are all dances, by the way—not gross things.)

The answer is no. I won’t regret any of that. Because I did learn how to yeet. In my living room, in an old pair of my sister’s friend’s sweatpants, in front of my parents while they watched The Weather Channel. And then I went to bed and was asleep by 9 damn 30, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’m the type of person who’s better off in the crib.

To go out is to spend several hours interacting with others. I have nothing against others—some of my best friends are others—I’d just rather not have to interact with them in loud, dimly lit places when I’m sleepy. Plus I’m self-conscious in groups greater than two, so if I don’t drink I get bad social anxiety. But if I do drink, then I’m not self-conscious, which is even worse. My unself-conscious self is weirdly aggressive and … athletic, maybe. Or just competitive. And awful.

Por ejemplo, last year, I went to a strangers’ party in New York City. I was with friends who were related to these strangers, but I ain’t know them like that. I didn’t want to be socially anxious so I brought a bottle of Cîroc. At the same time I didn’t want to act like my uninhibited self and embarrass my friends, so I made a list of the things to avoid doing. The list included:

  • Speaking Spanish
  • Asking about food
  • Asking about candy
  • Doing push-ups
  • Talking about how getting into a fight could be cool
  • Drooling
  • Doing a southern accent
  • Talking about Patrick Stump
  • Talking about rappers
  • Rapping

This was a real list written in earnest days prior to going to New York. I even brought it along to make sure I didn’t forget about it.

It worked for a while, too. I went to the strangers’ party in New York, ate Hawaiian pizza, and had a sugary boozy drink. I laughed at people’s stories and spoke without stumbling and, in general, acted like a normal person. Until I met a girl from St. Louis.

You know who’s from St. Louis? The St. Lunatics. Nelly and Murphy Lee and their St. Louis-born rapping friends.

Me: Oh, St. Louis! Do you like Murphy Lee?
Girl from St. Louis: Murphy Lee?
Me: Yeah! You know, Baby Houie. One of the best in the Louie … “I’m so St. Louis, ask my tattooist. I was like the waterboy now they sayin’ you can do it.” You two related or anything?

Not only did I talk about rappers, I rapped. With that, all was lost. I started speaking terrible Spanish. Instead of push-ups I did fake pull-ups. I took a shot of white vinegar. Those strangers? I gave them all the suck-it sign and challenged them to dance battles.

That’s why I stay in the crib. We’re all better off because of it.

Surfing in the Winter

If you want to surf somewhere cold—like Maine in the winter, maybe—the first step is getting a thick wetsuit. If you don’t already have a thick wetsuit, visit your local surf shop and follow these steps:

AT THE SURF SHOP
Seek help from one of the friendly employees. Ideally you’ll find the owner of the shop, maybe a 60ish-year-old gentleman named John, and he’ll lead you to the wetsuit section of the store. You’ll want to be on your cell phone at this point, so John knows you’re important and not that serious about wetsuits. But you’ll also want him to sympathize with you, so knock over a skateboard display and fart a rotten one. This will show him you’re both down-to-earth and helpless, and it will endear you to him.

PICKING OUT THE SUIT
Follow John’s lead on this one. He knows how cold the waters can get, and will recommend the right ones to keep you warm. Some of them will have hoods, some will not—just make sure you tell him your sisters used to suffocate you under blankets and that you hate constrictive clothing and struggle with claustrophobia. He will not understand, but you’ll feel better having told him.

THE FITTING ROOM
John will escort you to the fitting room, likely located directly across from the main entrance of the store. Tell him you’re wearing underpants—not a bathing suit—under your clothes, and ask if that’s cool. Remember, you will have earned his pity from the skateboards and the farts, and he’ll reluctantly let it slide.

TRYING ON THE SUITS
Put on the first wetsuit. Since it’s supposed to be warm enough for cold-water surfing, it’s going to be crazy thick—six millimeters, even. Squirm your way in as best as you can. Then, once you’ve zipped yourself up, walk out from the fitting room and into the main part of the store, and ask John to check you out. He’ll tell you your crotch is sagging, and then he’ll make you tug at your junk for the next ten minutes. Finally he’ll tell you the wetsuit’s positioned correctly, and you’ll tell him you’re choking and that you “hate this so much.” Retreat to the fitting room.

TAKING OFF THE SUITS
Remember how you squirmed your way into the wetsuit? You will now realize that your shoulders are too broad and your fingers too weak to squirm your way back out. Tug helplessly for five minutes, get so sweaty the suit sticks to you even worse, and then run out of the fitting room shouting for help. Remind John about how much you hate constrictive clothing. Ask him to get you out of that GODDAMN THICK ASS FUCKING WETSUIT.

STILL TAKING OFF THE SUITS
It will require two people—John and a high school girl who works there—to get you out of the wetsuit. When they’re done, thank them by explaining, again, how your sisters used to try to suffocate you with blankets. You will notice both John and the girl are uncomfortable yet amused. Look down and realize you are in your underpants in the middle of the store (just the top half, but still definitely underpants). Hasten back to the fitting room.

NEXT STEPS
Do not buy a wetsuit. Do not surf anywhere cold.

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Should I Get a Dog in My 20s?

Are you in your 20s and trying to decide if you’re ready to get a dog? Do you want an adorable creature to take pictures of, but not sure if you’re really up for the responsibility of caring for it? Lemme give you my version of the lowdown on dog parenthood.

What to Expect During Puppyhood
Puppies are cute. They got this stank skunk breath that smells wonderful, despite the stank skunkiness of it. They hip hop around and chase butterflies and are soft and snuggly and floppy. And yet, much like Ben Franklin, puppies are the devil.

They pee and poop on your things—usually your floor, but sometimes other things, too. Like your bed. When my dog, Dizzy, was a puppy, he peed on my brand new mattress in the middle of the night. I took him outside to finish any remaining business, he didn’t do anything except sniff, we came back inside, and then he pooped in the hallway while I was trying to clean my mattress. I texted my mom and said “I WANT TO PUNCH HIM SO BAD RIGHT NOW.” That’s a terrible thing to think and to say, but I did want to punch him. Peeing in my bed I could forgive, but pooping in the hallway! After I’d just taken him out! I didn’t punch him, but if he were a person I maybe would have.

If you don’t want your puppy to pee and poop on your things, you’ll have to take him outside all the time. And you’ll have to follow him around the house to make sure if he does pee or poop, you can catch him in the act and tell him to quit it. Even if you work really hard at that, it still might not make a difference. Dizzy was still pooping inside after eight months. The little bandit pooped TWO TIMES during dog obedience school—in the middle of class, right in front of the dog trainer. Watching puppies all the time is exhausting, and it doesn’t even necessarily make a difference.

Other bad things puppies do: chew your things, chew other people’s things, bite you, bite other people, bark, try to eat stupid things that will kill them, take up all your time, take up some of your money.

Before getting a dog, you only ever have to worry about yourself. After you get a dog, you’ve got a real live creature whose well-being depends almost entirely on you. It’s a big adjustment. Before bringing home a puppy, make sure you got back-up. If it weren’t for my parents, I don’t know if I would have made it through Dizzy’s first couple of months. It was weirdly sad and lonely. Felt like I had postpartum depression or something (I say “or something” because I’ve never had a human baby and I don’t know what postpartum depression actually feels like). Dizzy and I are super tight now, but puppies are dicks. Know that it’s not all snuggles and selfies.

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BUT STILL SOME SELFIES Y’ALL

What to Expect During Doghood
Having a dog definitely gets easier once they get a little bit older. They stop with all the indoor peeing and pooping, mostly. They can be left alone for hours at a time and trusted not to eff up too much of your stuff. Though they’re probably not as cute as they were as puppies, they’re still cute and they suck way less.

They will continue to cost you money. Dog food and dog toys and vet visits aren’t cheap. They will continue to take up your time, because they rely on you for entertainment and exercise and love. Also they get a little bit smellier. Most dogs will seek out rotten things outside just so they can roll in them. Their breath loses its puppy scent and instead smells like old hamburger and salmon. Dogs with long fur get poop stuck in the fur around their b-hole. If they’re like Dizzy and they suck at peeing, they splash pee on their legs and smell bad that way, too. Expect to do gross things, like pull rope out of their butt and cut matted fur off their wieners (if they have wieners).

Besides the gross parts, though, grown dogs are the bomb. They love doing activities and will be down for almost anything, unless it involves vacuum cleaners or fireworks. They’ll probably stare at you a lot and that’s annoying, but they’ll also be stoked when you come home from work and will keep you warm in bed if you let them sleep with you. All good things. Remember though: They are work. They need exercise and love. Be a person that’s cool with exercise and love.

For real: You ready?
In your 20s, most people are used to living young and wild and free. So what you get drunk? So what you smoke weed? You’re just having fun, you don’t care who sees. So what you go out? That’s how it’s supposed to be. But then you get a dog, and all that gets much harder. You want to drink booze and smoke marijuana? Your dog needs a walk, not a rain shower in the studio, Wiz Khalifa.

A few questions to answer before getting a dog:

1. Do I like dogs?
2. Do I like the dog I’m thinking about getting?
3. Do I have enough money to pay for food and vet visits?
4. Am I OK with spending that money or am I too cheap?
5. Am I lazy?
6. Do I mind gross things?
7. Am I all right with the outdoors?
8. Am I cool with exercise and love?

If you answered yes, yes, yes, yes—OK with it (not cheap), no, no, yes, double yes, then you’re probably ready to get a dog. Good luck!

A thing I’ve been working on

It’s been damn near three months since I’ve posted anything new here. That’s because:

  1. I’m lazy as hell.
  2. My left shin is acting up and freaking me out.
  3. I’ve been working on something else.

This something else is a longer, non-blog story that I’m planning to submit as part of an application for graduate school. I’ve included an excerpt of it below, but the whole thing is about 22 double-spaced pages. If you read the excerpt and have any interest in reading more of it, I would love to send you the full story and to have you tell me what you think of it. Tryna make it as good as I can, and your feedback would help. If you email classygallie@gmail.com, I’ll send it to you A$AP. (I’d use my real email address but I’ve seen the Google searches that bring people to this site. I got mad weirdos coming through.)

Also, a disclaimer: Some of this stuff I’ve already blogged about. Sorry if that’s boring. But! If you choose to read the whole thing, there is some freaky stuff I’ve never blogged about before, like the first time I shared a bed with someone (I was old and acted strangely. I’m not that thrilled about sharing it.)

 


 

In 1993, I had a bed head of blonde hair, a bug collection, and an insane speech impediment. I spent my days at home in Maine playing with Barbies, catching frogs, eating chips, and telling anyone who would listen how much I loved “big, black, muscly men.” I was four years old.

If I ever have a daughter who, at age four, confesses to me her love for big, black, muscly men, I imagine I’d be both horrified and delightfully surprised. If that’s the reaction my own mom had when I made the same confession, then I must have only registered her delighted surprise. She, like everyone else, loved it when I said my type of man was the LL Cool J type of man. So I told it to everyone.

“I heard you lost your first tooth, Allie. Nice work!” said Clayton, my next-door neighbor.

“Nah. Michael Jordan, now that’s some nice work,” I told him. “Asked Santa to bring me that ass for Christmas. Clayton you already know I love me some big, black, muscly men.”

“All right, kiddos, it’s nap time!” said Diane, my daycare provider.

“Word!” I said. “‘Bout to have some chocolate dreams up in this bitch. You know, cause I love big, black, muscly men and I think about them in my sleep. Nighty night, y’all.”

“How would your daughter like her cheeseburger?” asked a Ground Round waitress.

“She’ll have it done medium—” said my mom.

“Make that well-done, gurl,” I interrupted. “I want it black but juicy, with extra firm buns and a spooky big pickle on the side. I call it the ‘Allie’s Manwich’ in honor of my love and appreciation for big, black, muscly men. Yo, and that comes with chips, right?”

I never actually said any of those things, but I really did use that exact phrase (“I love big, black, muscly men!”) all the time. It was true; when I was four, black men with big muscles were the only men I was into. While other girls my age were watching Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and falling in love with Prince Charming, I was busy watching rap videos and counting how many rows of abs Tupac had. My mom has always been a big hip-hop fan, and by default my three older sisters and I were, too. Since the three of them had mostly grown out of Disney movies by the time I would’ve grown into them, and since they ruled the TV remote, all we watched was MTV. Once you’ve seen Tupac rapping naked on a toilet in his video for “All About You,” there’s not much to be gained from watching a cartoon prince kiss a sleeping cartoon princess.

If Cinderella is the ultimate fairy tale for most little girls, then mine was Salt-N-Pepa’s video for their song, “Shoop.” My entire notion of love and romance comes from that video. My entire notion of life comes from that video, actually. I remember watching it and seeing those chocolate chip, honey-dipped men dancing around shirtless—the guy in the leather vest and the do-rag, and the other guy in the baggy blue suit who stripped down to his underpants. I didn’t even understand what I was seeing, but I was most definitely trying to get a scoop.

It makes me sick to say that now—to admit that I was some kind of semi-racist horndog in pre-K, but I can’t change the past. I was a semi-racist horndog through-and-through. I was a blonde-headed, light-skinnded girl whose ideal Prince Charming was big and black and built. My sole redeeming quality was though I preferred black guys, I was down with just about anyone. I just wanted to shoop, goddammit—and with few big, black, built men to chose from in southern Maine, I had to take what I could get. That’s why a year later, on my first day of kindergarten, I fell in love with a scrawny white boy named Justin. He was the first boy I made eye contact with that day.

 


 

Willing to read more? Holla at classygallie@gmail.com and I’ll send you all of it! 

Making Friends

Curtis called me an awkward tomboy the other day. Not in a mean way, just in an honest way.

It happened when we were leaving the beach. This little freckle-faced girl I’ll call Susan rode past us on her bike. She circled around us a few times, complimented my surfboard, and then told us that her parents were gone and she was home alone. Remember that Curtis and I are full-grown adult strangers to this Susan, who was probably no more than 11-years-old. If I were to grossly exaggerate what she said to us, it’d be something like:

“Hey, stranger grown-ups. Hey, did you know my parents are gone? They’re off, probably drunk. Probably won’t even come home tonight. It’s just me, a child, alone in my house.” Susan pointed to a house. “That house right over there, the yellow one. The keys are under the welcome mat. I am so weak and dumb, it would be really easy to kidnap me. You tall, powerful-looking adults ever kidnap anyone before?”

It seemed like after Susan told us about her empty house, she realized she shouldn’t have. She mumbled something else real quick and sped off toward a gaggle of boys on bikes. When she was out of earshot, Curtis said, “Aw, she was just like little Allie. All awkward tomboy!”

And it’s true – I am. You don’t have to look any further than my relationship with my first best friend for proof.

His name was Jake, and here’s what a typical day in our friendship was like:

Jake would invite me over to the crib. I’d spent the first half hour there sitting cross-legged in the field next to his house pretending to talk to dead people. After a while I’d get up to go to the bathroom, do my business, discover the toilet paper was out, and use the cardboard TP roll to wipe. Then, since I don’t understand plumbing, I’d try to flush it and end up having to fish it out with my bare hands. Later we’d eat Nutty Bars and play hide-and-seek and we’d both pee our pants at the same time, but without having talked about it first.

Those are all real things that happened at Jake’s house. It was fine at the time because he was a 10-years-old and a boy and my ride-or-die.

That type of friendship, as wonderful as it was, was not sustainable. Like all children do, Jake grew up, shaved off his rattail, and got a girlfriend. I, on the other hand, went home and made fitness videos by myself.

Now, since I’m 25 and it’s no longer cool to hang out with elementary-school-aged boys, I try to make friends with people my own age. Here’s what a typical day trying to make friends as an awkward tomboy adult is like:

A few Saturdays ago, I had plans to meet up with a girl I studied abroad with, but whom I hadn’t seen since our program ended. We were finna get dinner together in Portland.

On my drive into town to meet her, I noticed that my breath was smelling stanky fresh. Like, straight up garlic-out-the-clove, everything-bagel-with-tha-veggie-cream-cheese, never-been-flossed type of situation. No disrespect to the man but my breath was out there smelling like T-Pain just ate a can of cat food and gurgled it down with coffee brewed with bat poop beans. Breath was kicking.

Fortunately, I make sure to keep a small tube of toothpaste in my car. When I realized the intensity of my stank breath I was stopped at a light, so I dug out the toothpaste and squeezed a line of it onto my right index finger (I did not have a toothbrush).

By the time I started scrubbing, the light had turned green. As I drove down the road rubbing toothpaste on my teeth, I remembered that fingers don’t have bristles. And without bristles, ain’t no good way to work up no kind of lather. Toothpaste was mad runny. Before I knew it, I was dribbling toothpaste juice all down my chin and onto my only good pair of jeans.

Everybody knows you can’t get toothpaste stains out with anything less than a full-blown clothes-washing. I was already running late so without having time to turn around and change, I poured water on my lap and accepted that I was going to have several white stains all over crotch for my first meeting with a potential future friend.

And in the end, I showed up looking like if not a 10-year-old, then certainly at least a 13 or 14-year-old one. You know, looking like I had…

A Christmas Miracle

I have a great and very heartwarming Christmas tale to share.

Several years ago, my Aunt Mariah* came to town for Christmas. She came in a few days before the 25th to help with decorations and gift wrapping, because she is a nice, thoughtful lady. She is so nice and thoughtful, in fact, that she took on the burden of decorating the Christmas tree all by herself.

Aunt Mariah worked hard on that tree, so to keep her energy up she ate an English muffin with peanut butter while decorating. It was chunky peanut butter. Chunky peanut butter is the most delicious kind of peanut butter and, typically, is the kind you should always go for. The sole exception, however, is when you’re a lady named Aunt Mariah and you have gold crowns on your molar teeth. There are chunks in chunky PB and if you bite down on a chunk wrong, you’re going to eff up that molar crown in the baddest way.

And of course that’s what the crazy ho did. She was concentrating so hard on hanging tinsel that she didn’t pay any attention to the peanut butter chunks and next thing you know she bit down wrong and effed up her tooth crown. And then she swallowed it down whole! The nut!

The thing about Aunt Mariah, though, is that she actually wasn’t a nut at all. She was (and still is, bless her shart) an extremely practical person. After she swallowed that gold crown, she did a quick mental calculation and figured out that a new gold tooth could cost well over one thousand dollars! “Heck if I’m going to pay that,” Aunt Mariah thought. Instead, she ran down to the local grocer and picked herself up a metal strainer and a plastic mixing spoon. She was going to go a-gold-digging.

And by that, I mean she decided to do all her pooping in a strainer and sift through it in search of her gold tooth.

Well, that’s just exactly what Aunt Mariah did. Poor woman did all her crapping in a strainer for two days straight and didn’t see a flicker of gold anywhere. She was just about ready to give up when, on Christmas morning, the impoopssible happened.

“THE CHRISTMAS POO CAME THROUGH!” Those are the words that woke me up on Christmas morning 2006 (I think it was 2006, but I can’t remember for sure). My Aunt Mariah ran up and down the hallway, banging on every bedroom door in the house, screaming “THE CHRISTMAS POO CAME THROUGH!! IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! MR. HANKY THE CHRISTMAS POO CAME THROUGH!!! THE CHRISTMAS POO CAME THROUGH!!!!!” (I’m serious. That is what my sisters and I woke up to on Christmas, word for word.)

Despite the failures of the days prior, Aunt Mariah decided to give it one last try on Christmas morning. She took a dump in the strainer, used the spoon to go through it, and found a glint of gold amid her crap. She plucked it out, rinsed it off, threw it in a pot of boiling water, and said a prayer to the Christmas Poo. She took it to the dentist a few days later and came home with her gold poop tooth glued back down in her mouth, looking something like the ice man Paul Wall.

Looking something like a disco ball

Call it a smile on da rocks

Need proof that this really happened? Like all good Christmas tales, there’s a Christmas carol about it!

(Sung to the melody of City High’s “What Would You Do?”)

What would you do if you swallowed your tooth?
Would you sift through the loo digging up your poo
Cause you’re frugal?
And the only way to find it is to
Paw through your crap for something kinda shiny
Cause the gold cap’s gone
Somewhere in your butt now
In and out your gut now
You ain’t got a tooth now
Cause for you this is just Christmas morning
But for my aunt this is what she calls life, mmm

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the tooth swallower.