Lessons of my 20s: #2- If you listen, you'll know what to say.

If anyone knows me, they know that I loved online dating. Wait, I should clarify. Really, I loved exploiting my own horrible dating stories, because dating in NYC was a shit-show. Most people don’t move to The Big Apple to become a great boyfriend/girlfriend; people move to NYC to be in the midst of thrill and opportunity.  Sure, some people meet, fall in love, and get to share the rent of a NYC studio apartment and…I hate those people. I was super jealous of those people for years. My experience was more like cutting through an uninhabited jungle for the first time with a butter knife.  I found that many of my dates were cheap, rude and asked me to do drugs on date-#1.  To be fair, I know that there were also a lot of lovely men and I was their weird-o date. After all, we get what we give, right?

Ok, let’s get back on track…one of my first dates was a guy from work. Scandalous. I went and bought a totally sick outfit from Urban Outfitters hours before (just overpriced jeans and a basic t-shirt) and was totallyyyyy ready. The date was within walking distance (YAY), but it was also 90 degrees out (BOO). The combination of tight new jeans, a short walk, NYC humidity, and nerves propelled me into a sweating fit for the first 30 minutes of our Stella Artois’. Surprise twist of fate, he loved it. That should’ve been the first red flag, honestly. I was sweaty and disgusting. What kind of sick-o wants to date that? Really, I think he liked to feel powerful and no one would feel more powerful than standing next to this gross little mess without a clue. So, we dated for about 6-months, but he ended up being a bit of a cheater (bummer) and in retaliation because I was totallyyyy over it (not over it, pining badly), I started my online dating quest. The beginning of the end for my sanity. 

I could go on and on about my dating fails and triumphs, actually triumphs would be a short list.  Really, my only triumph would be my recent engagement because he manages to find a positive twist on all my very obvious flaws. That’s the dream though, isn’t it? The reason I’m writing this, however,  isn’t about the journey, it’s about the beginning. 

My first online (retaliation date) was in October. I walked into my favorite dive bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I was nervous. Mostly, I was nervous that I’d have another sweating-fit, but also, I remember thinking…what if I don’t know what to say? Then, WAZAM, I thought about an acting class I took where we practiced listening. Yes, listening. It sounds like some hippie-ass NYC shit, I understand, but that’s really what acting is! It’s being totally in the present moment, listening to someone, and trusting that your natural reaction is enough. There is nothing worse than when you’re watching an actor “show us” that they are sad, right?!

In real life, when we converse, our minds race a million miles per second. The person can’t even finish blabbing about their dumb dream before we jump in to talk about ours. We are natural conversationalists. Then, we get put on the spot, and BAM, our minds go blank. What do I say? How should I act? Where do I put my hands? Am I chewing weird? We transform into odd little robots with sweaty pits. 

Well, luckily for me, I had practiced this art of listening in my hippie-dippy-acting class (that I loved, to be clear). They preached things like, “If you listen to your partner, you will know what to say.” You see..acting is all about practicing to… well, not act. I know, that sounds dumb. It’s about allowing your natural reactions to come through. It is about embracing your instincts, which makes you authentic. So, I took a couple deep breaths and I decided, I am just going to listen. I will sit my butt at the bar and see what comes naturally. It could be funny, it could be weepy, it could be…quiet, but either way, it’ll be motha’ flipping’ authentic.

Truthfully, who knows how it actually went. I’d say we can ask him, but surprise, that relationship didn’t turn out stellar and it’d rather not crack open that egg, if ya know what I’m saying. Regardless, this practice of just listening kept me grounded, prevented some serious sweats, and allowed me to own my power back. If you just listen, you will know what to say. It’s when you pretend to listen that you are a weird robotic freak. Lesson over.

Lessons of my 20s: #1- You don’t have to be the best at something to do it.

Today is my 30th birthday and it has made me want to reflect on some of the best lessons that I’ve had in my 20s. Let’s classify this as my first mid-life crisis. So, let’s start here. As someone that religiously watched Dance Moms, a TV targeted for pre-teen girls that shame small children for learning how to dance, I don’t always practice what I preach. I sit my little butt on the couch every Monday to watch people fall in love on national TV. I talk about how weird that one girl’s eyebrows are until the Friday after the show aired. Then, empty and without purpose for the weekend, I am rejuvenated on Monday when I can get more shit-talk ammunition. 

We love to talk shit. There’s no better way to say that. It gives us drama without actually affecting our day-to-day lives in any way. My friends and I have had more fights about reality TV than anything real. I’ve watched America’s Got Talent, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and I’d go on but the list would further show how pathetic I am, and it is my birthday after all. 

I love those shows, but I don’t think it helps any of our blossoming self-confidence. Sure, you see people on these programs that make you think, “So they do exist?” However, you also see amazing people just totally get rejected by B-List Celebs. If that woman who can sing the most beautiful song in the entire world just got 4-x’s because they didn’t like her choice of Kelly Clarkson song, what the feck am I doing with my cheap-ass ukulele in my apartment? Exactly. You a loser, Lis. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, this lesson was actually one of the first memorable ones that I’ve had in my 20s, so I didn’t even have my ukulele then. I learned this lesson back in 2009 when I was living abroad in Spain. See, I had always done musicals growing up, I was in the local chamber choir and I sang a tune here and there, but I was just ok. I was probably choosing the wrong Kelly Clarkson song, you feel me? At that time, I was pretty horrified by the idea that I was just ok, not great. What’s the point of even doing it? It’s not like I’ll win American Idol? So I didn’t sing in college, and I didn’t feel justified to pursue anything creative for years. I went to college to be an English major ( surprise I was also humbled there too). Actually, my entire education from 18-22 was an ass-whooping where I was pretty friggin’ humbled, now that I review it, but that’s not the point. The point is, I remember seeing all these guitars lined up in Madrid, at a time where I read the Twilight Books in English, just to get some english again, and I decided I needed a new outlet. At first I had my usual thought, why play if I’m not going to be a famous singer? My host Father jumped on the subway with me, he walked me into a store, and helped me to buy my first guitar (because, Spanish). Oh, you can just do it because you like it, and that’s reason enough to share it? Oh!

That family listened to me practice in my bedroom and they encouraged me to play for shitty songs for them, even though I kind of sucked. I was never going to be Kelly Clarkson, even on her worst day, and that was totally fine. You don’t have to be the best at something to do it.

Eventually, writing some basic songs on my guitar would get me through a lot of crappy break-ups. It helped me get into acting, which eventually lead me to creating YouTube videos and then, it brought me here today.  So, to anyone out there that sucks at something, just remember, you don’t have to be the best to do it. You just have to do it, because you never know what might come from it. 

Voting for Airplane Idol.

Living that lush life that I live (lies), I fly quite a bit for work. On my last flight I realized that there are so many unspoken rules of an airplane. Honestly, I feel badly for anyone that doesn’t pick up on social cues easily, because the rules of the sky are subtle and the stakes are high. God knows that even the nicest people still complain about something during a flight. I’m far from the nicest person ya’ll might know, so you better believe I have some things to say.

Thus, the story begins here. I walk onto the plane and I am two rows from my seat, when a tall fellow in a pin-stripped suit stands up in the aisle. He wants to remove his jacket. That’s fine. I’m not a monster. I give him the appropriate amount of space and that half smirk that says, “I totally support you.” This guy’s look could go mob-boss or could go Wall Street, either way, it was weird when he decided to stare me straight in the eyes and remove his jacket…slowly.

So, I do what any human with a soul might do in this situation. I take my phone out to break the tension. However, he’s still staring. I do a casual look-around, because I’m a Beta, and notice there is only one woman behind me. The plane is mostly seated, because…well…I’m in the poor people boarding section. Delta now calls this, “Basic” boarding. That’s kind of you Delta, but let’s call a spade a spade.

Firstly, everyone that takes WAY too long and pisses off us assholes, the elderly, the injured, and the young Mothers (Amurica, amirite?). Next, the military, those that don’t get the respect they truly deserve so we throw them this bone. Then, the rich folk. The folk that aren’t rich, but they’ve been screwed a few times that day, so they’re Annie living in Daddy Warbuck’s house. And at last, the poor people. The poor people can board the plane…BUT IN GROUPS. This isn’t a soup kitchen, peasants. Come in a few at a time…there you go…ok, ONLY ONE BAG GREEDY, okay… great.

Anyways, I digress. So, the other peasant girl and myself are waiting for the mob-boss to take off his jacket. I’m giving him that right amount of space. The, “I respect you” kind of space, and he’s just really milking it. People around me try to connect with me, giving me those wide eyes like, “…this guy, come on”, but I don’t budge. I’m patient and better than everyone else. Also, and more importantly, I’m afraid of conflict and the mob-boss is still staring me straight in the eyes. No big deal, I start to look around. What’s out the window? Ohh, the runway. How surprising. His right arm slips out of the jacket, he hits us with the slow-fold, still staring at me, of course. Am I doing something wrong here? I look behind me to see if maybe he’s watching something to my left. He isn’t. It’s me.

Finally, ALAS, our tension is broken. He places his jacket in the overhead bin. Long awaited freedom, you’re in my grasp. 11C, the sweet smells of the bathroom will soon waft carefully to my delicate nostrils. I walk a row and sit down. Please keep in mind, the peasant girl behind me is most literally kicking my heels as I get into my seat. She was perfectly patient before and now, 12B is some secret jackpot.

I did it. I’m a champion. I sit in my airplane seat and immediately there’s a woman beside me that greets me excitedly. “Hi!”…No, no, no, no. I’ve fallen for these traps before. Not today, Satan. I’m not getting lured into small talk for the next hour when I just ate A LOT of cheese and I have no gum. I’m not going to casually cover my mouth as I retort back to your not funny comments. Absolutely not. Power move, I put my headphones in. I’m a genius. I’d love to chat, but I HAVE to listen to the only downloaded playlist on my iPhone. Uh oh, trouble. It’s Now 50. I’m starting to rock hoping I’ll tip the plane over and end the misery.

Anywho, we are about to take off and I don’t have the little tray table down or anything. I just have my computer on my lap to do some light reading (I don’t have an iPad, get over it). The flight attendant has walked by me like 4 times and sits down. He’s fine with me. Suddenly, AMBUSHED. The woman in 11D, next to me, taps me on the shoulder and requests that I stow my laptop for take off. Betrayal.

Sure, my first instinct is that she’s probably a flight attendant, but the thing is…she’s in sweatpants. Now, I’m torn. You can be a flight attendant, but if you’re in sweatpants, you’re not anything. You're a blob in a somewhat human form. You’re an all gray marshmallow. You’re not a firefighter, in sweatpants. I can’t walk into a high school in sweatpants and be a principal. I’m not a cop, in sweatpants. You’re just Ted, or Mike, or in my case, Lisa. If I want to endanger lives around me, you just can’t stop me unless you’re in uniform. If a cop tried to pull me over in his Accord wearing sweatpants, I’d call my boyfriend crying, because some strange man is following me. This broad is no different! Unfortunately though, I did stow my laptop.

God dammit, I’m ashamed of myself. I bet the mob-boss wouldn’t stow his laptop, because the mob-boss is an Alpha (or a serial killer, TBD). I always thought of myself as someone who could really man the emergency seats if something happened, but watching myself stow my laptop…man…

Then again, when I looked on my plane and saw who was managing our emergency exit row. Eek. I would’ve for sure been a goner. I don’t really understand why flight attendants go over to the exit row and individually ask them if they are able to assist in the case of an emergency. That slob in 6A is mumbling that he’ll help, there’s a Grandma that is VERY eager in 6B, some stoner in 6C, and a girl applying make-up in 6D. I mean…shouldn’t the flight attendant be asking if WE agree for these chosen few to be our Avengers? These people randomly get placed by Delta and now they are the Captain of this sinking ship? No, no, no.

I think we, as a people, need to mutanize. I know that’s not a word, but that’s what we need to do! We need to come together to say…I don’t want little Honey Boo Boo to be the first on the wing.

The flight attendant should pass out ballots when we first are seated. We can scan out our peers like true savages. We cast our votes. Who will lead us to safety? I’ll tell you right now, my first vote will be the jacked guy up front in the spandex shirt. He could be some bad ass marine or he could be a cross-fit instructor on steroids, either way, I nominate him to replace Grandma.

Okay, that Dad kind of reminds me of my Dad. That’ll be comforting. He’s got a local high school baseball cap on, a Hawaiian t-shirt tucked in, blue jeans, and white sneaks. That’ll feel like home. I’ll go to him first in case of an emergency. Next, that woman talking loudly on her cell phone. You can tell she doesn’t care what you or her licensed therapist says. She’s good for a wild card…maybe we’ll need someone to gnaw through metal…

Do I nominate myself? That way I can get first chance out of the death box? Nah, I’m a Beta.

I look at the Mafia guy again. He’s still looking at me. JESUS, he’s in love with me. I’m sure of it. Mark him down…he can be my Hero.

Everyone casts their votes, then we go down the aisles American Idol style. Lisa, seat 11C, you will NOT be an Airplane Idol today. You are not worthy. The Dad in 8B, you are the first hero. Then, Thor’s hammer rips through the aisle to his hand…

Please consider this my application for Delta. I have a lot to offer.