white teeth teens

“Everything works out so good / I wear the robe like no one could”

The room was dark. Well, as dark as a hospital waiting room could be. Echoes of florescent lighting intruded onto rows of plush seats, all the way to the back wall, where my mom and sister and I had sprawled out onto three La-Z-Boys. My mom was asleep I think. She had to have been — she hadn’t slept the whole night before. Because she was on her way here. Aimee and I had been up at 4 a.m. together, figuring out the fastest way to get home from New York City. She must’ve been asleep too. But most likely, we were all pretending.

I chanted. Eyes closed. Silently. “Everything works out so good / I wear the robe like no one could.”

Three days earlier, I’d heard Lorde meditate to those very same words onstage at Roseland Ballroom. The song “White Teeth Teens” from her 2013 album Pure Heroine was never one I could relate to, mostly because I didn’t pay attention to the lyrics. But during that show, she worked some of her witchy magic, implanting them into my dense brain so I could keep them as a snack for later.

When I think about that show, I see it as a snapshot in time — not just because Roseland would close a month later, but because it happened at a pivot in my own timeline. I remember myself as wide-eyed and awestruck, happily buzzing behind the crowd as I watched the wunderkind that was Lorde twitch and hover around her microphone. From the side of the room, I gawked like a secret admirer as she summoned her own spell, breathing the words of “White Teeth Teens” with a moody confidence. “Everything works out so good / I wear the robe like no one could.” It was like she was repeating a self-affirmation to actualize herself as our idol. A mantra that made her brave.

Cory and I took a photo that night after all the confetti had fallen. There’s me, innocent, oblivious, young… floating. Two white teeth teens. The last photo of me before everything changed. I feel weird when I look at it, like I’m seeing someone else.

me and cory

Someone brought us Tim Hortons in the morning. We flickered the lights back on and consolidated our stuff, so we could share the room with other stressed families. Dad was lying in a bed down the hallway, while the three of us tried to eat breakfast before the storm. Everyone — aunts, uncles, cousins — were on their way. If they weren’t on their way, they were on my phone. I struggled to figure out how to answer text messages from my friends, my boss, my boyfriend, etc… so I didn’t.

Lorde’s mantra flitted back into my consciousness. I clung to “Everything works out so good” like a saving grace, hearing it just as she sings it on the album: a soft chorus of assuring harmony, marching forward from another dimension. I repeated it over and over. No matter what happens, everything will be OK, she comforted me from the back of my mind.

It’s funny because “White Teeth Teens” was not at all relatable for me. She sings about her popularity within her clique while criticizing the very materialism that’s required to achieve that status. Not exactly what I was feeling at the moment. I was focused on swallowing my breakfast and thinking about what it’d be like to go home that night without Dad.

But there’s an air of naivety on the track — an image of friends chilling, doing nothing, driving around aimlessly, living life — that reminds me of that picture from a few days before. No stress, just a blind trust that things will be fine. Because it always had been fine. It was that type of surreal positivity that I needed for survival in the hospital, even though darkness was closer than ever.

I floated down the hospital hallway toward the ICU one last time, my mom and sister at my side. One foot in front of the other with a dazed determination.

“Everything works out so good / I wear the robe like no one could.” A fantastical lullaby, just like Lorde had sang into her mic, coaxing me to be brave.

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cool stuff from 2017

OK I’LL START WITH THE NON-WORK STUFF

hiked in Carmel and Big Sur and saw whales and felt bliss

got drunk at the MTV Movie (AND TV) Awards and somehow snuck into the after-party

got engaged to my life partner/best friend/favorite person

fell into Moss Lake well trying to get into a canoe despite being an excellent outdoorsman

didn’t shower for several days straight on two separate occasions: 1) whilst camping with Pete and his dad, and 2) the hot water went out in our building for three days

climbed Mt. Beacon and i think my quads are still sore?

took a tour of Town Hall in Times Sq, which is really cool — you guys should all check it out because it’s one of the centers of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. (also saw the revamped Prairie Home Companion there later in the year, and a Feist concert!)

also saw the belly of New York City’s recycle beast, which you DEF should all see because it will give you a lot of insight on how the city processes all our recycling!!

picked apples with Chan in PA

celebrated my birthday surrounded by friends at my fave bar that is now closed 😦 😦 😦

went to a listening party for Beck, one of my favorite musicians in the entire world!!!

surprised my grandpa for his 80th birthday party (but i’m convinced he wasn’t surprised at all)

partied at a Yankee’s game with Victoria courtesy of Bareburger (idk)

camped in the Catskills with Aimee. we picked ticks off each other and ravenously found our way through a forest when we went off the trail without food (oops).

SNUCK rum into a music festival!!! and drank it out of a pineapple! (aka I went to Gov Ball and saw Chance and Logic and Avalanches).

rescued a kitten named KEVIN and nursed him to health for a month and found him a loving family!!

had a blast at New York Liberty game, which you guys should also do because the inequality in professional sports is B.S.!!!!

got Sally Field’s signature after seeing her in the Glass Menagerie because I’m the person who will wait outside a theater for that

saw Bruce on Broadway and got to witness the emotions he invokes from everyone in the audience

went vegan — for animals, for the environment, for myself. life changer.

hosted VEGAN THANKSGIVING for FOUR PEOPLE using only a TOASTER OVEN (and it was actually good and not stressful!!!)

found a wedding venue to get married in next Labor Day weekend, babyyyyy

spent many dreamy days in Coney Island, including one particular day of baseball at the Cyclones game

celebrated my cousin’s wedding in Richmond!

protested sexism, bigotry, xenophobia and the new administration with Liv at the Women’s March in D.C., a day after Trump’s inauguration

got food poisoning for the first time!!

went cherry picking with mom, along with many, many ice cream trips

went to Coachella and finally got to see the desert. it’s hot!

 

ALL THE THINGS I’M PROUD OF THAT I WROTE ABOUT THIS YEARRRRR

covered Coachella for Uproxx, danced my ass of to Lorde’s first Melodrama set

closed out a gig at Fuse, and wrote stuff about Normani’s producers and pop’s obsession with the transient middle class

concocted an essay about my feelings about Taylor Swift and my ego and love life

made my cat famous with my debut at Vinyl Me, Please

wrote A LOT of stuff for Live Nation, which I don’t have proof of because LNTV.com vanished

blogged for Uproxx before I went to work at Live Nation AND after I got home, and it’s probably the only time I will ever write about Ted Nugent

interviewed a ton of talented women for Vinyl Me, Please… but my fave piece I did for them this year was this essay about Christina Aguilera

wrote cute lists and stuff for Billboard, like a piece about farts in music and an interview with the guy who made out on the hood of a car for an Ariana Grande music video and a list about all the things Taylor Swift has destroyed

profiled pop goddess Chelsea Jade, velvet-toned Gordi and Harry Styles’ drummer, Sarah Jones, for NYLON (which was huge for me because Nylon is/was literally my fave magazine)

ok so this is a weird one because they ended up being problematic as hell, but this piece is something i’m really proud of writing so i’m gonna include it anyway……. I went shopping with PWR BTTM and it was one of the most rewarding interviews/ editing experiences I’ve had as a freelancer

after Gord Downie died, I poured my thoughts into this emotional essay about my parents for Noisey

wrote about my dad and grief

GOT A JOB at MTV working on their Snapchat Discover channel. Along with getting to write about entertainment/celebs (below), i get to handle overall creative vision on our editions, which are like tiny, interactive magazines on Snapchat. I’m learning a lot about video, production, graphic design, stats and audience, so i guess you can say i’m thriving

 

 

 

Taylor Swift drinks

Taylor Swift drinks now. In case you missed it, here’s how I know.

For example, this lyric

“I don’t wanna hurt you, I just wanna be
Drinking on a beach with you all over me” – “End Game”

Or this lyric where Taylor Swift is drinking

“We can’t make
Any promises now, can we, babe?
But you can make me a drink” – “Delicate”

Here is proof that she likes to imbibe in the “End Game” video

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 10.04.38 AM

This drinking lyric also

“You should take it as a compliment
That I got drunk and made fun of the way you talk” – “Gorgeous”

Drunk Taylor lyric

“Whiskey on ice, Sunset and Vine
You’ve ruined my life by not being mine” – “Gorgeous”

Friends + Drinking = Edgy fun

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 10.07.13 AM

Here is more drinking

“I knew it from the first Old Fashioned, we were cursed” – “Getaway Car”

Drinking

“But you weren’t thinkin’
And I was just drinkin'” – “Getaway Car”

Sexy alcohol

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 10.12.18 AM

CHUG CHUG CHUG

“Up on the roof with a school girl crush
Drinking beer out of plastic cups” – “King Of My Heart”

GLUG GLUG GLUG MMMM THAT WAS GOOD

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AYYYYYYYYYYYYY

“I’m spilling wine in the bathtub
You kiss my face and we’re both drunk” – “Dress”

Here’s a toast to my real, diverse group of friends

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IT’S LIT

“Everyone swimming in a champagne sea” – “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

BEEEEEEEEEEEEER

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reputation — an ode to ego

repuation

I was 19 when I first got suspended from a job. It was my summer gig cleaning the middle school. I remember yelling, “Fuck you, Larissa!” at my supervisor, my head too big for it all, and being sent home from the day.

At 24, I was suspended again. This time because I angstily unpublished an editor’s edits on my piece, and I was given the week off at MTV to think about my attitude. Honestly, they could’ve fired me on the spot.

There were other times where my ego got in the way of my work — like the time I stormed out of my cashier job at McDonald’s, face red with anger as my manager begged me not to leave during a busy hour. Or the time my college newspaper editor had to sit me down after I disparaged our publication in a blog post… while I was still working there.

I never blamed these clashes on myself — only the idiots that provoked me. I kept plowing through my career unapologetically, listening to only the people I wanted to — friends who nodded along to my rants eagerly, my parents who encouraged me to quit my first well-paying job during drama, and my boyfriend, who commiserated with me as if he were going through the same workplace bullshit. I knew subconsciously I was wrong. I knew I had a problem with professionalism. But I needed some cheerleaders to make me feel less guilty.

Taylor Swift has made me her cheerleader. Although far less loyal than some of her biggest Swifties, I defend her questionable missteps and stroke her ego and tell her it’s going to be OK. We’ll always love you, us Swifties coo at her — though it’s a struggle during her neo-Nazi silence, her anti-resistance, her Spotify pettiness, her attack on a tiny blog and her malicious timing of revealing her pen name, Nils Sjoberg. I still maintain that, while messy, Taylor wasn’t completely wrong about the Kimye drama of 2016, but that’s a separate convo.

I have to admit, when I first saw reputation’s album cover and heard its first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” a bit of my chest dropped. For some reason, I was hoping she’d take the high road through all the media criticism. I think a lot of us hoped for that — especially during an era in U.S. politics that seems driven by revenge and power and spite. I wanted her to be the light. Instead, Swift was more like me at peak ego, lashing out and peeling away angrily. I got flashbacks to when I fed myself on my own toxic tweets, subtweeting my bosses as I counted my Twitter followers like a snickering cartoon robber inventories his loot. But reputation had more in store than just its first campy single.

“You know, you were wrong,” Pete told me a few years after my MTV suspension. It was fucking weird to hear, especially since he’d agreed with me every time I’d come home with another complaint. During those nights, we’d make dinner as I unloaded my latest grievances against my editor, him responding in a manner that mirrored my boisterous disgust until we moved on altogether, making our kitchen a place where my angst just melted away.

Reputation is about situations like that. There’s the angry denial, sure. Vengeful Taylor has always satiated our gross hunger to justify our own egos — there’s the self-righteous “Look What You Made Me Do” and the condescending “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” that do the trick. But it’s also about finding solace in someone who cools those fiery feelings. It’s about finding that person who handles you gently while you figure yourself out. He gives you space and makes you safe, so you can reflect on your own missteps. My favorite line that details this comes from “Call It What You Want”:

“All my flowers grew back as thorns
Windows boarded up after the storm
He built a fire just to keep me warm
All the drama queens taking swings
All the jokers dressing up as kings
They fade to nothing when I look at him”

It can dangerous to put yourself in that bubble. When the people around you agree more often than disagree, you’re not challenged. The result is an even bigger ego and a reckless drive to tackle those who dare to disagree. That explains a lot about Taylor’s narrative, why she would come after a small blogger who dared to dissent or why she would drop her entire discography on Spotify the same day as rival Katy Perry released her new album.

But it’s also incredibly human and natural to surround yourself with supporters. Our instincts tell us to find a safe refuge. So while half of reputation seems to be about her vindictive, hardened personality (a bit satirical with a hint of truth in each lyric), the other half sings with vulnerability. To grow, you have to recognize your faults and then move past them. Taylor may never speak plainly about her troubled 2016, but we can witness her internal struggle laid out in her music.

After you look past “Look What You Made Me Do” and the reclamation of the snake imagery (more of a marketing tactic than anything, I believe), there’s a lot of reflection on reputation. On four different songs, she references the word “mistake”: “And I know I make the same mistakes every time,” she sings on “Call It What You Want.” “Flashback to my mistakes / My rebounds, my earthquakes / Even in my worst light, you saw the truth in me,” she sings on “Dress.” “But I stay / When it’s hard or it’s wrong or we’re making mistakes,” she sings on “New Year’s Day.” Even Ed Sheeran grasps the theme on “End Game,” when he raps, “I’ve made mistakes and made some choices, that’s hard to deny.”

Reputation is the reactive and the reflective. It’s the “Fuck you, Larissa” and the journal entry, years later, when you’ve realized from your mistakes and you’ve calmed down.

It’s about being an imperfect egotistical human that still needs love. Like Taylor, who sings with a theatrical stubbornness “I’m perfectly fine, I live on my own,” I pride myself on independence and my ability to accomplish things without the help of others. However, the reputation era owes a lot to the people waiting at home, “high above the whole scene,” who come out on the other side with you, stronger than ever.

While Swift’s discography has been an open diary for fans, reputation is the beating heart. The beauty in reputation is that it exposes both what we want to be and what we really are — the defiant and the vulnerable. And when you peel back its crusty layers, it comes down to love.

It’s an ode to that person who sticks with you through the shit, even if you’re wrong.

“I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe
Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home”

things i know about game of thrones

Here are things I know about Game of Thrones from being on the Internet, reading over Pete’s shoulder and playing the Game of Thrones pinball machine at the Rock Shop:

There is a queen with double processed hair, although it’s doubtful they have bleach in this strange land

The dragons are extinct I think?

Everyone has sex with each other, even brothers and sisters

The Tangerines! Those are the incestuous ones, right?

There is a guy called Grey Worm and he doesn’t have a worm anymore!

Someone picked off his scabs! Gross! But satisfying!

Everyone gets killed in the Red Wedding, but there are somehow still characters left

Jon Snow came back to life and there is only one available press shot of him where he’s trudging through snow

There is a tremendous amount of boobs

“Winter is coming!!!” (in pinball that means you get an extra ball)

Ed Sheeran was in it!

So was Lily Allen’s brother

The families — Martell, Barthanon and Tangerine — are always fighting and there is an evil guy with blond hair that sentences everyone to gruesome deaths

The poor people choose from apples or onions

It is like the Middle Ages and everyone is British

That’s all I know!

how to save money on home decor

I spend too much time on Instagram, dreaming about the ways I can make over my mold-infested, one-bedroom, fourth-floor walkup to make it look like the cutesy, refurbished Airstream I found on Instagram. Homemade oak shelving! Hammered copper cups! Green succulents huddled into mismatched trios!

We’ve all collected an inspiring curation of beautiful blogs, Youtube videos, Instagram accounts and aesthetically pleasing Tumblrs — like a multi-dimensional mood board we live and breathe whenever we explore the corners of the web.

Ew! I just saw a silverfish slithering across the floor. Don’t worry — I got it with a tissue. That was gross. Back to the post.

Morning vibes.

A post shared by Sugarhouse Homestead (@sugarhousehomestead) on

The point is, I’m starting to realize that these media are more aspirational than inspirational. At least, in this point in my life. I’m very much into the philosophy that you should save your money so you can enjoy the nice things later. That means that I’m a budget.

Have you guys ever been on “a budget”? It’s fun. It trains you not to over-indulge and to ponder capitalist-soaked retail trends while deodorizing hand-me-downs. Oh, the trends. How I’d love to participate! Yet, I watch from afar as they pass and I’m thankful yet again that I didn’t get those fringed capri pants with the artisan frays in the bum. Most of you will just throw those pants away… or donate them in a year. And don’t get me started about where they’ll go from there.

I look at A Beautiful Mess article about “cheap” housewares and get sucked in once again. I browse Apartment Therapy and see a crisp white subway-tiled kitchen. I swipe through Instagram and click on an article about “how to decorate on a budget.” I abandon it before it even loads because I should know better — it’s most likely just a list of items under $50. Their version of “budget” is not the same as my budget. Or your budget. It’s not their fault they’re touting new products — these posts get them advertising money. And, like I said, there’s no harm in watching trends.

Listen to how boring I’m being! No one wants to be sold on NOT buying things. People only want to be told what they WANT! Whatever — I’m almost done.

So here I am, sitting on a sun-faded IKEA futon, its left corner torn to shreds by a menacing cat, lil’ tufts of artificial cotton billowing out like a cumulus nimbus. I’m thinking about my dream couch. It’s grey. It’s structured, yet comfortable. It’s got a chaise, like this. It would probably take up one-half of my NYC apartment.

Anyway, here’s the secret on how to save money on home decor: don’t buy any. Sorry I’m making you read a whole article to reveal that to you, but welcome to the internet!!

It’s taken me so long to be happy with the things that I have. In fact, I’ll be honest: I’m not quite happy still (hence, my lusting for a couch). These feelings are deeply ingrained, and I may never shake them. Dark, I know.

But we’ve got to learn how to embrace the cool things we have. I have a yellow chair I got from my parents, who got it from a person named Granny Ann. (She was not my granny. Just a granny. A grumpy granny.) Either way, I kind of like that Granny Ann’s chair has its own storied timeline. No one told me I needed this chair because it was on trend. I just needed a chair so I took it.

As you go on the rest of your day, think “do I need this?” Most of the time, you already have everything you need. Ugh, I hate admitting that.

^ The track that inspired this post. Taking suggestions for an anti-materialism playlist in the comments or on social meeds.

I grieve out of self-pity

FullSizeRenderEvery November 5, my aunt texts me a heart emoji. One year it was blue. Another year it was the two pink hearts. This year it was the red breaking heart. “Thinking of you today,” she’ll write. And then I have to remember that November 5 is the day my dad would’ve turned 52, 53, or 54. November 5 comes out of nowhere. Each annual emoji freezes my brain and crumples my gut. They’re a reminder: Sorry for the momentary interruption, but your dad is gone. ❤

Every November 5, my dad would make it clear what he wanted, so there’d be no guessing game when it came to gifts. He wanted a new chainsaw blade. A new lunch box. Something that wasn’t too luxurious but made his life a little easier. New snips for vinyl siding. A nice pair of gloves to haul firewood around. We’d oblige. We’d make a nice dinner and a homemade card. And then it was November 6.

March 13 was when I woke up at 3 a.m., my mom calling me from the hospital, calm. Strangely calm. March 14 was the last time I saw him.

November 5 again. No gifts. No cake. There was nothing to be done. No one to give anything to.

But one heart emoji in my inbox. “Thinking of you.” Oh, it’s November 5, I remembered.

For months ahead of the next March 14, I’d planned. I’d drink Labatt Blue in his memory. I’d listen to his favorite Tragically Hip songs. I’d stay outside for 14 hours straight and contemplate the work ethic I’d inherited. I’d light a shrine candle and remember the day he died, as if that would celebrate his life. Each March 14, I want to write an ode to him. I want to grieve publicly. I want to show the world the good man he was.

It’s funny because they say you should commemorate birthdays instead of deathaversaries (how weird that we even have that coined term?). Birthdays celebrate life, another year older, joy, cake, vitality. And while there maybe no more birthdays, they say it’s better to celebrate what once was rather than what now isn’t.

We can’t help but remember deathaversaries more clearly, though. Death has more impact than birthdays ever will. A deathaversary reminds us of the the day our world changed. The day they left us broken and unwhole. The day that put a halt to our ingrained self-absorption. Birthdays go according to plan, death days do not.

This deathaversary, March 14, I don’t grieve my dad, although I may still toast to him with a Labatt Blue. In some fucked-up egotistical move, I grieve me. I grieve my life—the one I had with him. I grieve the old Emilee, the Emilee who had a dad, the Emilee who took him for granted. She’ll never be seen again.

Instead, I’m the girl with memories only—little images and flashbacks that give me small doses of my dad. When I’m watering my tomato plant, I think about the seedlings he’d propagate on the ping pong table in the basement. When someone says “hip,” I remember that “What Is Hip” song he’d always sing all goofy. When I see a Buffalo News, I’m taken back to weekend mornings watching my dad tuck his legs onto the couch and read the headlines to my mom.

Three years after I last saw him, the instant memories sometimes catch me off guard. They’re like emojis in my inbox, reminding me of what was there.

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