Meaning of Being a Grown-Up: Figured It Out

Turns out that being an adult isn’t about all the things you imagined as a kid. Extravagant love affairs. International jet-setting. Buying a home and filling it with impeccably designed touches of your personality.

The true meaning of being an adult is just adding alcohol to all the things you drank as a kid.

-Hot chocolate.
-Tomato juice.

That’s it. That’s the secret of adulthood. Being an adult is hard, but the universe has given us fermentation as a way of coping. As a child, you don’t need alcohol, because you have mystery and imagination. And then you realize that the world is difficult and your dreams don’t matter.

Please pass the juice.

baby ctina on a phone

How to Pack for 10 Days in Europe (And Look Great in Every Photo)

In April, I went to Paris for five days and Prague for another five. Before I left, I spent weeks carefully packing and creating an outfit strategy plan. There were lists, charts, and an intensive meditation process. My goal was to only take a carry-on sized suitcase—especially since I’d be pulling it through cobblestone streets and loading it onto shuttles.

(But take note, ladies—some airlines will weigh your purse with your carry on suitcase. And then make you check your tiny suitcase anyway. And you may or may not cry because you’re just so, so tired. FYI.)

So you want to pack light, but in the age of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook likes, you want to look as goddamn fabulous as you feel, strolling through the streets of Paris. You don’t want to look like a schlub in sneakers and sweatshirt.

Red shoes and suitcase

Here are my tips for packing light and looking amazing and totally not like someone who spent weeks planning their outfits:

  1. Pick a color scheme:
    • My color scheme was grey/blue/black/white with pops of red. I brought a pair of black pants, dark jeans, and a black dress. Along with some basic tops in grey, black, and black and white stripes, as well as an off-white blouse. I also brought cardigans in dark blue and red. I laid everything out in my apartment to make sure I had several outfit combinations. Then every morning, I didn’t have to try too hard, since everything matched.
  2. Have a pop of color:
    • For me, it was my red scarf or red flats. In photos, the red scarf really adds something. I had actually brought another scarf that I ended up not wearing as much because it didn’t look as good. (And I bought a scarf there as a souvenir.) A pop of color could also be a hair accessory, a statement necklace, shoes, or a cardigan. The only limit is your imagination! Or something!
    • Note: If it’ll be chilly enough that you’ll be wearing a coat, then what’s under the coat matters less than things like scarves or gloves. So you may have the most amazing shirt that anyone has ever seen—the 1889 World’s Fair of shirts—but no one will see it.
  3. Plan to visit a laundromat:
    • So exciting! Just what every traveler wants! Go see the Mona Lisa, pop by the Louvre, and then finish your day by experiencing true French culture and attempting to wash your clothes in a foreign laundromat. (Or possibly, your hotel/AirBNB/hovel might have an available washer/dryer.) Do this either a day or two before you leave for the next country or just after you arrive. Make sure you’re leaving yourself an outfit that’s NOT in the wash, in case things have to air dry. But this is the easiest way to bring less stuff—by wearing dark colors and washing the stuff you already wore.
  4. If it’s not summer, bring boots:
    • That’s always been my main piece of footwear on European trips. A pair of comfortable black boots that are just one step above casual. If it rains, you’re covered. They match with everything. And you look less like a tourist than if you wear sneakers. If you think you’ll be going someplace fancy or you simply want another option, I suggest a pair of fancy flats—just make sure those are also comfortable.
  5. Bring things you feel you can throw out at the end of the trip:
    • If you’re packing light, you may not have room for souvenirs. So bring those slightly old pairs of socks instead of newer ones. You can toss them at the end to make room. Also, same with toiletries. Don’t bring any toiletries you wouldn’t feel cool throwing out if you had to.
  6. Remember that if you forget it, you can buy it there:
    • This is true of Europe, but may not be true if you’re traveling someplace more remote. (Although even Belize has an American/British grocery store down the road from the airport.) In a city like Paris or Prague, you’re not SOL if you forget a toothbrush or a pair of pantyhose—you can just buy it. So you don’t need to over pack or prepare for every single potential hurdle. Chances are that everything you bring will be fine, but if it’s not, a visit to the local drug store/pharmacy should fix everything. (Just don’t forget, like, your contacts or prescription medications. Then you’re up Shit Creek without a paddle. But if you spring for my airfare, I’d be happy to bring them to you.)

Is this helpful? I don’t know. But have fun! Take so many pictures that your camera runs out of memory, and you’re like, “I thought this thing could hold 50,000 photos?” And then you check and you TOTALLY took 50,000 photos.

Goddamn Pickle Tricks

Recently, I was making a recipe for a vegan tuna salad (chickpeas, yo), and the recipe called for these stupid tiny pickles that I don’t have. Because who just has pickles? If you do have a jar of pickles, it’s probably bread and butter pickles leftover from a barbecue held in honor of your eighth birthday.

So I went to the grocery store, pretty much just to buy a jar of these specific tiny pickles. Naturally, they don’t come in small jars–they come in jars the size of my face.

When I got home and started making the recipe, it called for chopping up, like, six of the tiny pickles from this massive jar, and tossing them in the tuna salad.

Only as I was making my well-deserved sandwich, did I realize, “Chopping up pickles is sort of like relish. Wait, it is relish…. GODDAMN IT, I COULD HAVE JUST USED RELISH.”


Your Weekly Shmiek: First Edition

If there’s one thing I know about people, it’s that they love pictures of cute fluffy animals. And I am the Human to a cute fluffy animal. In fact, the fluffiest of all animals–a chinchilla.

Meet Nimbus C. Shmieks, Esq.:

Look at those goddamn ears.

Every week, I’m going to give the people want they want. A new picture of Mr. Shmieks.

DINOSAUR LAND: The World That Time (But Not Virginia) Forgot

Dinosaurs 3
Deep in the back roads of Virginia, there exists a place, unbound by the laws of time and nature. That place… is Dinosaur Land.

Dinosaurs 1

Dinosaur Land is one of those roadside tourist traps. Except that I traveled there specifically. It was a destination, rather than a whimsical spontaneity.

Dinosaurs 2

As a kid, I definitely went through a dinosaur phase. I could name so many dinosaurs. I watched all the documentaries. I had dinosaur toys, plush animals, books, and a deep and abiding love for the Power Rangers.

My favorite dinosaur was the Pterodactyl. Because it was a dinosaur AND it could fly. Unlike all of those land and water jerks. Pterodactyls were like the unicorn-pegasus creatures of the dinosaur world.

Dinosaurs 4

(Before we go any further, I feel I should inform you that a portion of this blog was drafted after imbibing some ginger moonshine. Ginger moonshine, you say? That is a blog post for another day.)

Dinosaurs 6

If you go into Dinosaur Land expecting fine artwork and an elaborate and historical set-up, you will be disappointed. If you go into Dinosaur Land expecting weird, old statues of dinosaurs–and other unexpected creatures like human-sized cobras and bear-sloths–that you can laugh at and take pictures with, then you are golden, my friend. Go forth.

Dinosaurs 5

This story has imaginary friends, tornadoes, and an imaginary friend who is a tornado.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She wrote a small novella about spiders, weirdly detailing issues with paternity and health insurance.

That little girl grew up to be a communications professional with aspirations of being both a published writer and a dinosaur.

Considering her love of penis jokes and uncool liqueurs, she created a pen name. Pug Mugsly. Perfect for someone who likes dogs and drinking out of mugs. Or a time-traveling pug gangster from the 1920s. On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog.

(The subject line is true. When I was a kid, my best friend and I shared an imaginary friend who was a tornado. More details to come.)