Why I Stopped Hating Taylor Swift

I used to have strong opinions on Taylor Swift. She was the object of my disdain, the punchline of my jokes, my all-purpose receptacle of haterade.

There were many reasons to dislike her. There were the videos, her songs, her very public dating life; there was the infamous 2012 interview where she completely missed the mark on what feminism actually means.

Then someone made a video where a goat bleeting was inter-cut with one of her music videos and the comparison stuck.

BUT THEN she made that little ditty — “Shake It Off”. I tried to resist but when that number made it onto my half marathon playlist, I knew that Taylor had made the same deal with the devil as Rihanna.

I started thinking about Taylor seriously. She sang songs about breakups gone wrong. Just like many artists before her. They may have been able to do it more deftly, but their feelings were just as valid as Ms. Swift’s.

You can argue that Taylor’s music is manufactured drivel, but she’s doing a job and she’s performing above expectations. Her work is valid, just like the work that anyone else does 9-5.

By accepting that her words and actions were just as valid as anyone else’s, I overcame my Tay-hate.

We have the tendency to dismiss actions and feelings as not valid — those of others and, more frequently, our own.

I’ve found that when we deny the validity of our thoughts and actions we’re likely to designate more stress to them than it’s worth. We don’t see it as part of the landscape — it becomes a gnarled obstacle jutting into our consciousness.

Accepting that you want to break a chair over someone’s back when you see them as a valid reaction is a lot healthier than insisting that you’re “totally ok”. I wouldn’t, but accepting that I had that feeling helped that feeling eventually go away.

The biggest obstacle to harmonious interaction may in fact be acceptance of others’ feelings as valid.

I have this friend, Sarah. We say the most ridiculous things to each other, our thoughts are able to spill out of our head and we exist in white girl’s Shangri-La, “The Judgement Free Zone”.

Sarah and I have wondered to each other how this relationship is able to exist. That’s when I realized what it was — when we said things to each other we didn’t feel compelled to have an opinion on them, we just accepted it all as valid.

After months of listening to Taylor in secret, I finally accepted her valid. And now I’m letting her shake it off.

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Ten Tips for Hosting Brunch in your Twenties

Brunch is the new dinner. What used to be something that was done with people you marginally liked, has become a main event. Unfortunately, because of the popularity of brunch, going out to brunch is hell. God forbid, a restaurant doesn’t have “bottomless mims”

If you enjoy cooking, have adequate space in your apartment and enjoy flexing your Martha muscles, hosting brunch seems like a great idea.

Until you actually host brunch.

There are many guides to hosting, but somehow they don’t seem applicable for our generation. Through my experiences, I’ve amassed a good many tips that may seem counter-intuitive, but will save you grief and ensure that you still have friends afterwards.

Do Everything Yourself

This is the cardinal rule of hosting anything. Most guides advise offloading as much work as you possibly can. Sure, you can do that – if you’re ok with having it done incorrectly, or not at all.

People are notoriously unreliable, even more so on a Sunday morning. We’ve all received the, “Ugh, sorry I’m so hungover I couldn’t xyz” text. At some point, poor foresight and terrible decision making skills have become a legitimate reason not to uphold a commitment.

Just do everything yourself. It’ll get done, and get done on time. Also you won’t have to resist the urge to sock your friend who was supposed to come early to help but instead rolls into your brunch an hour late.

“Prep” Work

Try to do as much as you can, but understand that you’ll never get as much done as you hoped to – accept it. Move on.

Original Snowflakes

The best menu idea is a “make-your-own whatever”. Always. Be honest, you and all your friends are a “on the side”, “can you substitute…”, “no cheese/bacon/kumquat” type girls. It’s become increasingly difficult to accommodate food sensitivities /preferences when making a single entrée.

Plus everyone loves feeling original. INFINITE COMBINATIONS.

RSV-FOMO

Whenever I hold a brunch, I give adequate notice, usually 3-4 weeks. There are the few wonderful souls who RSVP immediately. Then there are the “no replies”. I understand if you can’t make it, but to me a “no-reply” is a clear, “I’ll make it if nothing better comes up.”

What’s my tip for this? Send out the invite and try not to fly into a rage when people don’t RSVP. Follow up individually with people who have not replied. An adequate head count is important when you’re hosting an event where food will be provided

BYODB

I hate champagne. Since holding a brunch sans mimosas is blasphemy, I tell everyone to bring champagne or juice.

If there’s something that I don’t eat or like, but I know other people eat it, I’ll ask people to bring it. That way I’m not left with a whole jar of “I don’t eat this shit.”

Forget Your Pinterest Dreams

When you begin planning a brunch, there’s that stage of pinning every single brunch thing ever. Pin away, but realize that you won’t do any of it. Things will get too hectic and you’ll end up buying expensive materials for something you didn’t end up doing.

If you’re intent on dazzling your guests with your pinterest skills – keep it small and easy. Pick something you can do well in advance of your brunch. Like on a Wednesday night, when you told everyone “you had class” to get out of a work happy hour.

Nothing Starts On Time Unless You’re Running Late

Oh your brunch starts at 12:00? No one will show up until 1 PM. You know unless, you have to make 40 crepes and then you haven’t even started. Finish everything on time and use that extra hour to kick back, relax, and paint your nails.

Too Many Smooks in the Kitchen

Guests tend to gravitate towards the most crowded, hectic room. Because it’s a brunch, even if you’re all prepared the finishing touches still mean things in the oven and the fridge. Try to create a work flow pattern that pushes everyone who wants to “help” (bless their hearts), out of the kitchen.

Don’t be afraid to tell them to get out of the kitchen. Seriously.

Have Everyone Else Clean Up

Any considerate host hates to see her guests picking up plates and cleaning. Don’t be a considerate host. By all means, let people clean up.

If you have anything fragile, clean it and put it away immediately. Make sure there’s clean sponges, towels, and dishwashing liquid, then step back. Enjoy.

You Don’t Have to Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here

There’s an Egyptian saying that my mom would use to describe guests who won’t leave that loosely translates to “his/her as ass heavy”

You should not feel bad about herding people out when brunch has winded down. We’re all busy people here. The most graceful exit is to have an engagement outside of your house, plus it leaves no room for stragglers.

The Myth of Bitch Face

If repeated often enough, and pummeled into the collective consciousness, myths find themselves becoming truths.

Where these “untruths” exist, there will always be a brave warrior who will bring us back to reality.  I have been known to perpetuate myths.  I suggested to a friend that she tell a coworker that chewing gum will build the muscles in your jaw which leads to a “fat-looking face.”  This lie was not told without purpose; I was trying to be a problem-solver.

However, there is one myth that I feel necessary to stop in its tracks. And that is the myth of “Bitch Face”.

“Bitch Face” is sometimes known as “Resting Bitch Face” and to those who love acronyms “RBF”. Someone who has Bitch Face is someone who looks perpetually pissed off, OR mean, OR unapproachable, OR like a bitch.

There is the widespread belief that some women, regardless of their temperament JUST look like bitches. She might be a total sweetheart who nursed a sick baby bird back to health, but she just looks like a bitch. She’s not angry at you, or mentally assailing your outfit, she just looks like it.

Here’s the thing — if you have Bitch Face, you’re probably thinking bitchy thoughts.  Just as someone who is worrying looks worried.  Someone who is happy is probably smiling. A person who is stressed has “MurderFace”™ (we’ll discuss MurderFace another time)

Indeed, people who are mean tend to wear it on their face.  You’ve probably seen the excerpt from Roald Dahl‘s “The Twits”:

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.”

I don’t have a pleasant face when I’m thinking of all the jokes about the girls who are in line at Nick’s Tacos/Rogue teetering on their heels like drunk giraffes, dressed in headband skirts at (FYI: Taco Tuesday refers to the sale price of tacos on the second day of the business week; it doesn’t mean show up with your lady bits out).

I have had Bitch Face.

I would like to think I’m a mostly nice person.  I actively remind myself not to have these kinds of thoughts, because I truly believe they appear on your face. Negative thoughts about others (and yourself) are like termites to a wood cabin.  They eat away at the structure of your mind, unseen and unnoticed until it is severely damaged.

A genuinely nice person can have bitchy thoughts. We’re all human—meaning general stupidity and bad life decisions are in ample supply.  And as imperfect beings, we find ourselves in positions where we judge.  It is when we have those thoughts, we have Bitch Face.

But people who have a constant stream of bitchy thoughts have Bitch Face.  She might not be saying those bitchy thoughts (which good on them — because that’s half the battle), but she is definitely thinking them and you can see it.

Juju is the new Karma

As I was walking down the stairwell early on January 2nd, I noticed something on the stairs. Assured that it wasn’t feces, I took a closer look and realized it was a case of some sort.  My first thought it was a needle case for heroin because CITY LIVING.

It was a wallet so stuffed with cash that it couldn’t even be closed fully.

WHAT. Or rather WUT.

It would have been easy to grab the cash and throw out the wallet, but A) That is shitty B) That is shitty C) That is inviting a MOUNTAIN of BAD JUJU, and so early in the year.

If I had lost that wallet, I would be devastated.  The only people who carry that much cash are strippers, drug dealers and restaurant staff. And fobs.  Either way it was wages from a night of work, so I fished out the ID and messaged the girl on Facebook. (Side note: In October 2013, she dropped her phone in a pitcher of Bud Light).  She came by the apartment and according to my roommate deemed me “an Angel”.

I didn’t do it for the accolades.

I did it because of the Juju. While juju actually refers specifically to objects that are used superstitiously, juju has become more of a description of deeds.  To me, Juju is a multi-purpose word.

But Juju is not Karma.

Karma is a difficult concept to define.   It is difficult to define because there are so many different views on what it actually means.  In White People culture, it means if something bad happens to someone you don’t like, karma is at work.

Sorry bro, that’s not how it works. Because bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

Juju to me is so much more different.  It is mysterious and how it flows is unknown. One thing I do know for certain is that bad juju is unshakeable. And juju is not just a result of your actions, it can radiate from people. And yes I know, I’ve said “That girl has bad juju” instead of saying “That girl is an insufferable twit”, but the shoe still fits.

While I like to think I’m a rational person, I am as superstitious as an old Egyptian biddy. In Arab cultures, the power of the “evil eye” or “ayn al hasud” (eye of the envious) is universally feared.  It’s the belief that some people have such envy so strong that they’re able to bring harm to the object of their envy.

Whenever something happens to my hair or I get injured, I’m always sending a fervorous  text to my sister or Sarah screaming “AYYYYYYYYYN”. This envious eye brings bad juju and those who are the recipients and those who choose to bestow it. This is why jealous people are never happy and why you should not be around people who cannot be happy for your good fortune.

And while juju is mysterious and how it works is unknown, good actions build good juju and you can never have enough good juju.

But what isn’t mysterious is that good actions build good character which attracts good people.  Bring the good juju on.

The Theory of Finite Fucks

The most fucks you will ever have to give in the year will be at 5 PM on January 1st.

It is why I had absolutely no qualms about walking into a cafe at 2 PM with a half eaten doughnut for a cup of coffee today. And also why I had no problem when a complete stranger pushed my hair away because it was about to get in my doughnut. I’m just now realizing how strange that was, but only because it is 7 PM on January 1st.

At the beginning of the year, everyone has a finite number of fucks to give. January is the month where everyone gives the most fucks they will ever give. Everyone cares about EVERYTHING, just burning through their fucks to give.

However, sometime between the middle and end of January, most begin to realize that there are some things that they just simply cannot afford to give a fuck about.

New Years Eve is so awful because everyone gives zero fucks.  The two fucks you have to give are used getting ready for your evening activities. By the time you roll up to the party, you’re operating at zero fucks, so you’re drinking like YOU WANT TO DIE.

Discourse is important to any well formed theory.  While I think this theory is solid, I believe it can benefit from lively discussion for example…

The Influx of Fucks

At some points during the year you give more fucks. This can be brought on by a significant event such as a new job. The question is are giving more of the fucks you hold, or has there been an influx in your bank of fucks?

Glut of Fucks

What about drama on New Years Eve? This is caused by a glut of fucks — someone cares too much about too little. They’re trying to burn through excess fucks with crazy abandon.

How many fucks do you have to give?

Do women give more fucks than men? Does a college degree mean you’re full of fucks to give? Do offspring mean you have more fucks to give, or are they being diverted from other areas of your life?

At some time during the future, I would like to collect data on this, but this involves participation on your part. Frankly, I’m hoping someone will give a fuck.