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Wednesday , September 8, 2010

HOW TO LIVE: Tips on Reselling Clothes At Secondhand Shops

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A few weeks ago I got a few queries on Twitter and in real-life (OMG wozzat?!) on reselling clothes on Ebay and at resale and consignment shops. I didn't realize till I rattled off all my tips and advice that I actually had a lot of experience with this, so I thought I'd share here once and for all--just so I can say "Don't you read my blog?!!!" in my best accusatory manner to the next person who asks me about this. Kidding! I just thought since it's fall and a changing-of-the-seasons, this might be useful to people cleaning out their closets right now. Also, it's a new moon in Virgo, and if THAT isn't an auspicious time to renew your wardrobe, I don't know what is!

Reselling clothes is a minor but fine art in the stakes known as fashion-on-the-cheap, and if you do it right, it's a valuable strategy in keeping a wardrobe updated, refreshed and in a state of I'm-never-bored-with-my-clothesness. I'm only going to cover reselling at brick-and-mortar resale shops, the kind where you bring your used clothing haul in and get credit or cash for your stash--but pipe up in the comments if you want to read any Ebay- or consignment-specific stuff, or if you have your own advice about reselling clothes.

First off, my own experience with reselling has been pretty intense but rewarding. For the past few years (!!!) I've been on a serious wardrobe-reorganizing tear that has actually been totally awesome for my soul in ways that I haven't even anticipated. It's kind of remarkable to realize it--especially considering the rather baroque state of my closet a few years ago--but I have lived out of a beautifully-organized suitcase (yes, SUITCASE) for the past four months and have felt totally satisfied with my fashion stuff. And when you feel happy with your wardrobe, you buy a lot less, and clothes aren't a source of guilt, annoyance or self-loathing--they're 100% fun. Reselling clothes has been key in my whole "Zen wardrobe" approach, helping me to get rid of stuff I no longer want and need and still get decent value for it, and it's helped me to reinvent and renew the basis of my wardrobe in a ecofriendly, inexpensive way.

So, here's some of the best advice that I have when I help others resell:

WHEN TO RESALE VS. WHEN TO EBAY

I find that it's a question of volume here--if you've got only a few good-value items (i.e., good quality, in-season and designer-y) , I'd Ebay them if you're so inclined. You'll get a better return on Ebay if you market your item right, and you don't have to trek out to a resale shop for just a few items. But it's a pain in the ass to list lots of items, so if you've got a bunch of clothes or are looking to rid yourself of lots of stuff at once just to make some room, take it to a brick-and-mortar resale shop. Even if they don't take everything, often they'll have their own "donate" pile to take to traditional charity-shops, which will save you an additional trip to Goodwill.

KNOW THE SHOP & CALL AHEAD

It pays to visit the shop in question and check out what they're selling and who they're selling to. Some secondhand shops tend to specialize in younger clientele looking for designer and trendy clothing; others in more professional and working clothing, and others do only vintage, sometimes of the high-end variety. Do some research via online city guides or Yelp.com or wherever to find out the "retail landscape" of your particular city or town. If you can't visit, pick up a telephone (OMG wozzzat?) and call to ask. Most buyers are usually pretty upfront about this stuff--they don't want to waste time sifting through a bunch of stuff that isn't right for their market, and it'll save you time and energy not schlepping stuff that won't work for that particular store.

While you're on the phone, ask if they have particular buying times, if they prefer you make appointments to see a buyer (esp. if you have a really large amount of clothes to unload), ask about their clientele, what they're looking for at the time you want to sell, what their compensation is (cash, store credit, check if your items sell after a certain point), what sizes they take (I know, sad, but it's true that some stores prefer smaller sizes), and if they'll take any particular items you may have questions on (like, you have a Chanel jacket, but it's got a rip in the seam...etc.) It's a pain in the butt to haul stuff, so be a Girl Scout and prepare yourself by getting all your questions answered so you don't have to bring in unnecessary items.

SEASONS ARE IMPORTANT

Retail is all about supply and demand, and a key piece of advice I give about reselling is to sell only what season the resale shop is buying for. It doesn't matter if you're selling a fabulous Max Mara coat--if you're trying to get rid of it in the middle of July, it mostly likely will not fly. You have to realize that stores have to store stuff physically, and each item they take in must go fast. Maybe some shops may take it, but you won't get the value you're looking for. Call first and ask what season the resale shop is buying for. And if you're just looking to unload stuff fast, then sell unseasonal items on Ebay or wait till you can get rid of them in season. Sometimes if it's a great item, a store will take your out-of-season clothes, but you won't receive the highest value you can get out of it. But again, call ahead and ask: every store manages inventory differently. One time I called in the summer just to ask if a store was buying for fall yet, and it ended up they were looking for cold-weather coats and jackets for some charity initiative and I got a nice penny digging them up from the back of my closet.


MAKE SURE IT'S ALL CLEAN AND IN GOOD CONDITION

This actually makes a big difference in my experience. I've had wrinkled or unwashed stuff (DON'T LECTURE, I WAS IN A HURRY!) that didn't get picked up one time, but then a good cleaning or dry-clean got it accepted the next time I swung by. Buyers tend to eyeball stuff pretty quickly since they have so much to go through, so make it easy for them to spot your gems.

SELL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK

This is really about selling during that sweet spot when the store isn't as busy and the inventory has been a bit more emptied from the weekend's sales. Whatever the reason, I find selling generally on a Tuesday or Wednesday ups your chances of getting more of your stuff accepted for selling, and selling on a weekend? Forget it. But every store has its own traffic patterns, so use your fancy phone and talk to a real-life human to find out when's the best time to bring something in. But it's been my general experience that non-peak times work best for selling.

AND A BIT ABOUT USING RESELLING AS A WAY TO EDIT AND TRANSFORM YOUR WARDROBE

At some point, if you're good at it and you make it a strategy on dealing with organizing your closet and wardrobe in general, reselling becomes a key piece of refining and maintaining your wardrobe. Basically my m.o. after My Great Closet Cleanout of Summer 2008 (which was an epic of epicness in its own right, I regret not documenting it for nogoodforme) was to really pare down my wardrobe and make sure every item was of such quality that I would love it forever and/or be able to sell it off at a decent resale value if I wasn't so in love with it anymore. Three fulltime years of classes and film school had taken their toll and my wardrobe was pretty much a hot mess. But a hot mess doesn't really work for a Manhattan closet, and something had to be done or else I was in danger of being pegged on the head by a random overstuffed bag of clothing every time I opened my closet door. Inspired by my beau at the time, who managed to go on tour with nothing but a tiny duffle bag of clothes and an extra pair of shoes, I was going to reinvent myself as a clothing minimalist even if it killed me.

It took forever and a lot more self-awareness and a wholesale reinvention of my shopping and consumption habits, which I won't get into here--but reselling became a key part of paring down in a happy, satisfying, non-hairshirt-y way. Basically at the beginning of the season I would clean out my closet for the season, figuring out what I didn't want or need anymore, and then I would unload the unwanted but cool items at Beacon's Closet or Buffalo Exchange. (I unloaded stuff like a Rick Owens sweater and a Chloe blazer--I'm sure someone out there is super-happy with them!) Taking the credit I got at those stores, I'd pick up anything that caught my fancy for the upcoming season and pretty much not buy anything new unless it was a genuine need. Doing this for a few consecutive seasons, I realized at some point that I basically buying clothes only out of the cash and credit I got via reselling, which was cool--it was ecofriendly, cheap and I still got to shop but it wasn't as toxic to my budget and didn't give me that icky feeling of being wasteful.

Of course, there are a few factors that made this work--namely, living in a great resale market like NYC and having access to great clothes in the first place. At any rate, I'm a huge fan of reselling clothes (and buying vintage and secondhand in general), so hopefully the above info will help out a few people who find the process mystifying or overwhelming.

(Don't ask me what the above graphic means. I found it on Google image search under "clothing racks." It's mystifying, no?)


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Wednesday , August 4, 2010

The nogoodforme Astrological Guide to Arthouse Cinema: Cinematic Cleverness and Contemplation for Geminis

Everyone, THANK YOU for all the comments, emails and Tweets on each of the installments of the Astrological Guide to Arthouse Cinema so far! I didn't really anticipate how epic this is turning out, but thanks to the vastness of the zodiac and my eagerness to share my love about a bazillion movies under the sun, it's turning into a content behemoth. So far I've gotten to explore action films for Aries and sensual/foodie/visually gorgeous films for Taurus; this time, I look at the wealth of cinematic cleverness that would keep a Gemini's wonderfully intricate intellect occupied, as well as some seemingly uncharacteristic choices for beautifully quiet films that should suit the other side of complex Geminis.

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GEMINI: Geminis are, hands down, some of my most favorite people in the world. On their good twin days, they are so much FUN and great to be around, full of good spirits and a certain quicksilver intelligence. They're often great with wisecracks and possess an ability to crack me up so hard I could burst open my appendix from the laughter, and they're brainiac types, possessing restless intellects that are constantly whirring and buzzing. Your favorite Twitter is probably a Gemini; so is your favorite blogger, because these people are generally born writers. (Geminis are ruled by Mercury, which is the planet of communication.) Even if they're quiet Geminis, they have a certain way with words and language. Whether it's low-key, caustic or wacky, they have that quality known as wit.

Geminis often have a bon vivant side to them; they love to get out into the world and see what life has to offer. They love ideas and experience, collecting these like a squirrel hoards nuts. They know what's up in terms of what's happening or about to happen, and if they're the Gemini to end all Geminis, they're the classic cruise director type, the person who organizes all the social activities of a posse. (I once dated a dude Gemini and I think we maybe went on five proper dates during our year together because EVERYTHING was a group activity. As a cozy, snuggly Cancer, this drove me NUTS!) You know the type of people who read three different international newspapers every morning? Or those people who do the crossword faithfully every week? Or that insanely prolific writer/blogger? That's probably a Gemini, plugged-in, clever, intellectually intrigued by nearly everything under the sun. Their flirtatiousness takes on the quality of "witty banter" or, at the very least, a high level of conversation.

Geminis are generally very cerebral people--not unemotional (we'll get to that later), but mind-oriented in that their first response is often a mental one. Because their minds are so agile, they often rely on them to process their life experience. Because of this, it sometimes takes awhile to know Gemini as an emotional commodity (indeed, sometimes they're often confused and perplexed by their emotional natures in general). Sometimes Geminis are almost too smart and clever, in the sense that they find it really easy to talk themselves into ideas and relationships that just scream of BAD NEWS, FUCKING RUN, GEMINI! They're able to construct these dense, labyrinthine structures of explanation that even they have a hard time finding their way out of, so dizzy they are with theories, suppositions, and formulas--everything but cold hard facts. Sometimes giving a Gemini relationship advice is a losing game because of this reason, and you kind of have to wait till they start talking themselves out of something to really offer anything constructive because they just won't listen to you otherwise. (You know how your words get twisted around in an argument and you're like, "THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEAN!" That's a classic Gemini rhetorical move!)

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Thursday , July 29, 2010

The nogoodforme Astrological Guide to Arthouse Cinema: Beautiful And/Or Foodcentric Films That Will Make Tauruses Swoon

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Dudes, sorry I loafed on the regularity of my planned multi-part epic Astrological Guide to Arthouse Cinema! But my life is severely Internet-constrained these days, which is kind of ratty, but I am slowly but surely persevering. In my last installment, I wrote a billion words on arthouse films for Aries, which were mostly energetic action and thriller movies in foreign languages guaranteed to keep the interest of any wayward, energetic Ram. This time around, I go in a radically different direction for Taurus, a steadier, slower sign who would probably disdain fast-paced, blow-'em-up movies as inelegant and mind-numbingly boring. Tauruses are earth signs and love STUFF. "Stuff" at its best: food, bodies, possessions, basically things that they can taste and feel and look at. So I used this opportunity to explore some of my favorite visually rich and/or foodcentric movies of varying stripes.

TAURUS: Every Taurus I know is a quietly gorgeous person with the kind of beauty that doesn't impose itself on other people--you're like, "Yeah, I'm hot, but I don't feel the need to put it out there. I'll just sit quietly in this corner drinking Lillet and wait to be discovered by some person of quality." They don't have the astrological rep of being flamboyant children, demonically hot sex addicts or flame-eyed revolutionaries, but they're down-to-earth, lovely people who have a talent for making life beautiful and love graceful. It says a lot that EVERY Taurus I know is and has been in a long-term relationship--they're a little cautious but once they're all got in a relationship, people rarely let them go.

Every Taurus I know also loves beautiful THINGS with gorgeous COLORS and TEXTURES and SILHOUETTES. Taurus is a materialist, but in the best sense of the world--they love materials for the opportunities they present for beauty and sensuality, and luckily their sense of style is nonpareil, so that materialism is really an expression of the grace and beauty that they are. On a bad day, though, they tend to indulge in a little too much retail therapy, although they won't admit to it, because they are also hella stubborn when provoked. They're generally patient souls, but when they're finally pissed off, it's like that slow-boiled rage that lingers--they are RESENTFUL and do not forgive so easily. I love all my Taurus peeps because they're that sturdy, caring, lovely friend who will bring you soup in that old-school way when you're sick in bed. I kind of want to marry a Taurus one day because they sound like they'd be great to shack up for life with. I mean, who wouldn't want to get down and play house with a sensual, elegant Taurus? Especially when you know that house will be the coziest, loveliest home imaginable.

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Wednesday , July 7, 2010

Ladies And Gentlemen, I Have Kicked Insomnia's Ass And This Is How I Did It

Long-time readers know that the NOGOODFORME troika have differing flavors of insomnia, but I don't think Liz and LJ would object to me saying that I am the Queen of Insomnia around here. For one thing, I'm the oldest, so I get the most years at being an insomniac. I've been an insomniac since I was, like, six. It's simply bananas.

We wrote about being insomniacs awhile ago, but I'm here today to announce something exciting: I AM NOT AN INSOMNIAC ANYMORE! It's so exciting! I have energy, I see daylight on a regular basis, I fall asleep at an hour where it's still night out, I feel happier! I like people more (maybe because I see them!) And I abuse exclamation points more, obviously! Seriously, though, not having insomnia is like the moment in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door and there's a whole new land in color in front of her. That's how it feels, and it's great.

I was really struck the last time I wrote about insomnia by how many people had it; I got so many comments and emails from people, commiserating about how terrible it is to face 4AM totally wide-awake with that weird thud of despair, knowing that you'll be up only three, four, five hours later. Insomnia strikes such a big chord, and it's kind of amazing to think how many people are out there, drifting in the middle of the night in a cloud of weirdness and oddly heavy emotion. Most people learn to live with insomnia, but it does slowly but horribly chip away at your spark. At some point, you just need to do something about it, especially if you're the other huge part of who I am, which is a total worker bee who wants to do A MILLION DIFFERENT THINGS in LIFE!!! (Exclamation points!) But if a confirmed insomniahead like me can overcome sleeplessness, I think you can do it, too. This is what I did that put me over the edge and into bed:

DARKNESS IS YOUR FRIEND. I joke that I am the Bringer of Darkness of NOGOODFORME, but little did I know that darkness was actually a key strategy in helping me with insomnia. I had to learn to dim the lights WAY before the time I wanted to fall asleep--basically, when I got home, I had to NOT turn on the bright lights and keep everything dim. This also went for computer and Internet stuff--I had to turn anything with a screen off well before I wanted to actually go to sleep. (Although I did cheat sometimes and did some email on my Blackberry, but I find that is way less stimulating than my laptop.) I have a weird theory that your brain needs to mini-detox from light, especially of the electromagnetic sort. I have no idea if this is true, but it feels true, so I'm going with it. Of course, this means I'm not as prolific a blogger anymore, I see less TV and movies via Netflix-on-demand and I read a little less. But it makes up for it in terms of feeling happy and full of energy during the day, and I can accomplish so much more efficiently.

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Tuesday , March 9, 2010

THE ASTRO-BEATLES POWER HOUR, by Laura Jane Faulds

Fucking Fuck Yeah, Laura JANE. I did it, Guys! I told you I was going to make astro-Beatles mixes for every zodiac sign, and then I DID. Because I'm awesome, and this is the exact sort of thing that I can contribute, to society. Just call me The Susan Miller of Penny Lane. If you want.

Anyway, yeah, I did this. I did this for EVERYBODY, because I think it's important. I think it's important that every single person reading this goes and makes a playlist of the Astro-Beatles mix I made for them, and then uploads it to their stupid iPod or whatever, listens to it, and has an Astro-Beatles Power Hour with themselves. Then, report back to me. It is so important, to have Astro-Beatles Power Hours. It's just something you need to do, as a human being, in my opinion. It helps you connect to the Universe, and yourself. While living your Astro-Beatles Power Hour, which means, "listening to the Astro-Beatles mix I made you," you should probably do something related to your Zodiac sign. I like to live my Astro-Beatles Power Hours while sitting on my balcony, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and looking at the sky, and thinking about it (the sky), because I'm a Cancer, and that's a very Cancerian experience to have. Tauruses should have Astro-Beatles Power Hours while sitting in the woods. Leos should live Astro-Beatles Power Hours while looking at lions at the zoo. Capricorns should have their Astro-Beatles Power Hours at Starbucks. Etc etc etc. GOD. What would this world do without me??????

I also went through the trouble to bold the Beatles songs from all your Astro-Beatles mixes that I feel are most important to embodying the spirit of your particular Zodiac sign, in case you are one of the crappier Zodiac signs and thusly are too lazy and jaded to participate in an entire Astro-Beatles Power Hour. Please, at very least, do me a favor and listen to those songs, and think about your Zodiac sign.

I promise it's so worth it. Cosmically worth it.

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Arieses are aggro and pushy, like John Lennon's moon sign. They should listen primarily to early Beatles songs that are forceful and instructional in nature.

I. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; II. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window; III. Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey; IV. Slow Down; V. You Can't Do That; VI. Besame Mucho; VII. My Bonnie; VIII. Run For Your Life; IX. Got To Get You Into My Life; X. When I Get Home; XI. Shout; XII. Good Morning Good Morning; XIII. Why Don't We Do It In The Road?; XIV. It Won't Be Long; XV. I'm Down

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Tauruses are like trees. They should listen to Beatles songs that sound like the colours green and brown. Also: olive.

I. Back in the USSR; II. One After 909; III. Cry For A Shadow; IV. Old Brown Shoe; V. Get Back; VI. What Goes On; VII. With A Little Help From My Friends; VIII. Maggie Mae; IX. Cayenne; X. I've Got A Feeling; XI. Come Together; XII. Any Time At All; XIII. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number); XIV. Rocky Raccoon; XV. Good Night

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Geminis are sharp and peppy, just like the man himself: Sir Paul McCartney (who is a Gemini). Geminis should listen to buoyantly lame Paul classics of lameness, and also some Ringo shit. Ones with "Honey" in the title.

I. The Night Before; II. Honey Don't; III. Step Inside Love/Los Paranoias; IV. Mother Nature's Son; V. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You; VI. The Ballad of John and Yoko; VII. Honey Pie; VIII. Maxwell's Silver Hammer; IX. There's A Place; X. Another Girl; XI. Good Day Sunshine; XII. Think For Yourself; XIII. I Want To Tell You; XIV. Ticket To Ride; XV. Birthday

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Beautiful wonderful us Cancers are the moon and the ocean and the stars and the sky. Cancers understand everything and feel shit hard and believe in the magic of the Universe. They cry a lot and also smile quite a bit. Cancerians are the Beatles song "Because", which is the only Beatles song that is TRUE.

I. Here Comes The Sun; II. Rain; III. You're Going To Lose That Girl; IV. Please Mr. Postman; V. Baby's In Black; VI. I'm Only Sleeping; VII. Blue Jay Way; VIII. BECAUSE; IX. Eleanor Rigby; X. I'm Looking Through You; XI. I've Just Seen A Face; XII. The Word; XIII. You've Really Got A Hold On Me; XIV. Julia; XV. Long, Long, Long

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Monday , March 8, 2010

Happy International Women's Day, BITCHES!!!!

Love, Laura Jane.

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Monday , March 1, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: "Welcome To My Book Collection" Is The New "Hello" (Tell All Your Friends, Especially If You Happen To Be Friends With Glenn Danzig)

Okay, buds, new NOGOODFORME.COM rule for livin' right: in lieu of using such trite expressions as "hello" and "goodbye," you will now speak the words "Welcome to my book collection" at the beginning and end of every conversation in which you engage from this moment forward. Say it in the most Glenn Danzig-esque voice possible, please. And if your Glenn Danzig imitation isn't up to snuff, start by watching the above video at least five times in a row, and then practicing in the mirror, in the dark. You'll have it down pat in no time flat, we're so very sure. Got it? You can keep your shirt on, if you want, FYI.

Btw, thanks to Tatyana for sharing "Glenn Danzig Interview- on the topic of books," and to Claire for the inspired suggestion of employing "Welcome to my book collection" as a salutation. And our Kat's the genius who pioneered the notion of using "Welcome to my book collection" upon parting ways - usually Kat signs off on emails with a closer like "Yours most respectfully" or "C u l8r allig8r," but today she just went for it and man will all our lives be so much the better for that. SO PASS IT ON. Welcome to my book collection.

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Tuesday , December 1, 2009

HOW TO LIVE: The nogoodforme Guide to Insomnia

MY NAME IS KAT ASHARYA, AND I AM A CHRONIC INSOMNIAC

(l to r: this is me staying up till 7am a few weeks ago; sometimes when I can't go to sleep, I say, "Fuck it" and I go to the library to write and take pictures like this.)

A lot of people suffer through bouts of insomnia at certain points in their life, and everyone's had a sleepless night here and there. But insomnia has been so woven into the very core of my being that I can honestly say that I AM AN INSOMNIAC. I am congenitally unable to fall asleep before 2AM and have not done so in years, no matter how early I got up that day or how early I have to get up for the next one. Sometimes my sleep schedule gets so skewed that I am awake until 6AM and wake up either at 9AM (for morning classes) or 1PM (if I am lucky enough to have class in the afternoon). I honestly just cannot get to sleep at a normal hour. I used to think I was the night owl to end all night owls, and while I do think I'm a bit nocturnally-oriented, it is just not normal or healthy to spend weeks staying up till dawn and subsisting on 3-4 hours of sleep a night. As an undergrad, I even spent some time in a sleep disorders clinic, making researchers marvel at what a hard sleep nut I am to crack. Being in film school and in the high-stress environment and industry hasn't helped at all, but neither has having super-jacked diurnal biorhythms.

In some ways, I make insomnia work for me really well, and there's no doubt I've been able to achieve some things because I don't sleep. I'm well-read, I'm a very prolific writer, I've maintained friendships and long-distance relationships with those in far-flung time zones, I have a million random skills under my belt, I blog like a machine, and I kick ass at Trivial Pursuit and other games dependent on random knowledge since I have all night to be on Wikipedia and what not. But in other ways, it completely sucks. It's really bizarre and psychologically isolating to wake up and realize you'll only see four hours of sunlight that day. It sucks to not be able to focus and concentrate as much as you need to, to have every florescent light be ten times brighter and more annoying and every yapping sound pound ten times more fiercely in your skull. It sucks to be tired, it sucks to feel fried and stressed out, and it sucks to stress out about feeling fried and stressed out. And if you're feeling at all sad or blue, being awake at 4AM is like the echo chamber hour of negative emotions: it makes everything seem more vast, deep and cataclysmic. I'm a pretty posi-core person, but when it's 4:20AM and I'm feeling semi-suicidal because I'm convinced that humanity sucks and it's our fate to die alone and no one loves me and no one cares if I disappear because it's the deep of night and the whole world is just a void filled with a miasma of pollution, selfishness and the maw of hormonal fluctuations masking themselves as emotions...well, luckily I realize it's really the witching hour talking and not really me, and I shudder to think about insomnia combined with genuine soul-killing depression or anxiety.

The thing is, I'm convinced that insomnia never really goes away if you're chronic like me, with crazy biorhythms, a super-active mind, an insane commitment to what I do and the misfortune to have that be in one of the most unstable, uncertain, demanding fields in the Western hemisphere (i.e., anxiety city!) Every now and then I lick it for a few weeks and find myself on a normal sleep schedule. And it makes such a difference: you're at one with the sun, you walk on the streets of New York in the early morning like everyone else, feeling that great communal sense of purpose and endeavor, you feel stronger and your running gets better and the world's in harmony and all is great. But it's so easy to slip off the wagon and then it's 5AM and you're awake and despairing that you'll ever be normal. Dealing with insomnia requires constant vigilance. And while it sucks that my life is so nutso that it makes the "constant" part a bit hard, I'm nothing if not vigilant and have had plenty of experience dealing with insomnia, over and over and again and again. These the things (besides the basics) that I find help me deal with insomnia:

UNPLUG: It's nearly impossible sometimes to accomplish this, because I blog, a lot of my freelance work is computer- or Internet-based, and I'm attached to both my laptop and my Blackberry in a typically Web 2.0 kind of way. But making sure my Internet is disconnected earlier than later in the evening helps me so much. I mean, yeah, the Internet is great, OBVIOUSLY...but being on it all the time is soul-killing and sleep-killing. (I assume television is at this level as well.) On an ideal day, I'm off the Internet and my Blackberry by 11PM, and having two electro-free hours before I finally get to sleep is like a mini-detox before I hit the hay.

GET DOWN WITH THE IDEA OF "SLEEP HYGIENE": This concept actually came into my life when my sister was trying to get her troika of kiddos to sleep like normal human beings and not the toddler-monsters they really are. It was impossible till she got them on the "routine." And the routine is sacrosanct and you know, it kind of gets the little buggers into that whole "you are going to sleep soon" mindset. There's all kinds of sleep hygiene things to do, from getting exercise to turkey to dark, cool rooms; you can read more about them here. For me, there's nothing like a hot shower, clean pajamas, Herodotus (I can't read fiction at night, it will keep me up like crazy) and NO METAL OR POST-PUNK, no matter how much I want to listen to it.

DON'T BE HUNGRY OR DIRTY BEFORE YOU SLEEP: This is a ridiculous mental pattern I fall into sometimes: I stay up so late that I forget to eat or do stuff like brush my teeth and wash my face. Then I'm so tired I don't feel like doing any of these things, but I know it's WRONG, so I sit on my bed and argue with myself: "BUT I DON'T WANNA GET UP, I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!" "But you'll get cavities if you don't brush your teeth..." "BUT I DON'T WANNA MOVE!!!!!" "DO YOU WANT TO BREAK OUT? THEN GET UP AND WASH YOUR FACE!" "BUT I DON'T WANNA!" And lo and behold, hours have passed and I hate life even more. So now I try, try, try to get all cleaned up and stuff right when I get home late at night so I can just pass out on my bed like a normal, non-neurotically disciplined person.

SEX: Yeah, sex is pleasantly exhausting sometimes. But seriously, I'm convinced that I will shack up not just for love or sex or connection or companionship, but because I tend to have better sleeping patterns when I'm cozied up with a dude with a comparatively healthier relationship to sleep. Maybe this is the odd "peer pressure" method to dealing with insomnia? I mean, what else am I going to do when a dude is asleep in my bed? It seems kind of rude to get up and potter around like I usually do...so I might as well sleep, too. And I do! I think this is the weirdest reason for me to lock it down with a dude, but it may just be the most compelling.

YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH WHAT KEEPS YOU UP IN THE FIRST PLACE: For me, I know it's the amount of stress that I put myself under and the crazy super-achiever shit I do sometimes, and just from being a classic textbook New York workaholic. I'm trying to figure out the best way to be passionate and driven while being healthy and balanced about other elements in my life but it's hard when a city never sleeps and you can only blog at night. What to do, what to do? It's an ongoing dialogue, but hopefully I'll be able to sleep on it one day.

COUNTING SHEEP WITH STEPHEN MALKMUS

sleepmask.jpgCountingSheep.jpgstephenmalkmussleep.jpg

When I was a wee teen, insomnia was one of my sweetest friends. I'd wake up in the middle of the night all the damn time, look at the clock and just radiate joy over the fact that there were at least three or four hours till I had to drag my ass outta bed and board the stupid school bus. I liked to lie awake for a long while and listen to records, write stories in my head or just dream about making out with certain rockstars (or someone imaginary, or the stoner boy at school who was really good at basketball and probably the most Todd Sparrow-esque creature I've ever known). It's easily one of the three things I miss most about high school.

Now I'm way older and still wake up in the middle of the night all the damn time, but it's not so lovely anymore. These days insomnia invariably means staring at the ceiling and fretting about The State Of The World, plus other troubling things of a more personal nature. It's annoying! I hate anxiety! Probably the miracle cure for my sleep woes is to stop being such a worrywart, somehow, but - in the meanwhile - here are some things that usually help:

NATURAL SLEEP AIDS AND THE SUCH. One good thing about my line of work is I've written at least 12 articles on "How to Sleep Better, Naturally," and a lotta the stuff I've learned has actually come in kinda handy. For starters, listen to what Kat said about sleep hygiene. Reading in bed for a while before shutting out the lights helps a bunch too. And get yourself a little bottle of lavender essential oil (I like Aura Cacia's) and put a few drops on your pillow - but not more than four or so, cuz supposedly the oil's stimulating rather than sedative if you use too much. I also wear a sleep mask sometimes, since I live in lovely light-polluted Los Angeles where nighttime is almost as bright as daytime, sort of. And when the going's real rough I take valerian, in the form of Herb Pharm's Relaxing Sleep Tonic. It tastes terrible, but it helps.

COUNTING SHEEP. Actually, I don't count sheep. I count backwards from 100, over and over, and it tends to work. The hard part's not getting distracted and thinking troublesome thoughts, but if you can stay on track, chances are you're good as gold.

IF THE SUN'S UP, GET THE HELL OUTTA BED. "Waking up way too early" is consistently a major prob for me, and sometime last fall I decided to deal with it by getting up, getting coffee, and getting on with my day. It's nice to be out and about before most of the world has woken up, and there's lots of music that sounds extra-lovely in the early morn. The Beatles are a very good band, for instance.

OWN IT! Lately I'm trying to reclaim insomnia as "my sweet friend," which is hard - I'm a girl who needs her eight hours, and it's my instinct to resent anything that might try to steal even one of those precious hours away from me. But if you can let go a little and resist the freakout impulse, magic things might happen. Like, one night last summer it took me a thousand years to fall asleep, and the next morning I woke up to find "What if there were more than one Paul McCartney?" written in the notebook beside my bed, which turned out to be a totally life-changing question. Also, one time on Christmas Eve I was so excited about opening my presents the next day, I just stayed up all night long and watched Titanic almost three times in a row on pay-per-view (courtesy of the scrambler that used to be attached to the TV in my old bedroom). Titanic came out in 1997, which means I was 20 at the time. I'm really into Christmas.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, JUST LISTEN TO "FILLMORE JIVE" BY PAVEMENT AND FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF.

Or just sing it in your head. It's so good! Imagine Malkmus is running his fingers through your hair as he serenades you. Wait, no: Imagine you're running your fingers through Malkmus's hair as he serenades himself. That's probably a lot closer to the way things would actually shake out. (Liz)

LAURA JANE TAKES BACK THE NIGHT

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ABOVE: Be cool like John Lennon in this photo, NOT like John Lennon in "I'm So Tired"!

Ever since I stopped being a newborn baby, I've had insomnia. Bad insomnia. I had insomnia when I was eleven, I had insomnia when I was twenty-three, I had insomnia when I was, like, four. But I don't have insomnia anymore! Which means that I've figured out the only solution for curing insomnia that actually works, and now I'm going to tell you it.

LJ-brand insomnia is the sort of insomnia informed by stress and anxiety. I am generally a high-strung human being with a tendency to "freak out" and "have emotional breakdowns." I am the type of person who makes to-do lists, and sometimes I make little check-off boxes next to the different tasks on my to-do list. But I've mostly stopped making the check-boxes, because they stress me out. And that's what insomnia is: indulging my manic inclination to fret and fuss over things as absolutely insignificant as "check-boxes " There have been periods of my life wherein I regularly experienced insomnia so severe that it would literally keep me awake all the whole night through. I would stir and sweat and shake and smoke, running through every single thing I had to do tomorrow and imagining how tough it would be to carry out these tasks while running on 5, 4, 3, 2, or 0 hours sleep. I would look at my alarm clock and subtract the time it was from the time I had to get up at and think "If I fall asleep exact right now, I will get exactly three hours and twenty-three minutes of sleep tonight" and then I'd flip out and think "OH MY GOD THAT IS SO NOT AN ADEQUATE AMOUNT OF SLEEP!" and then I'd stay up for the remainder of the night stressing out about inadequate sleep amounts.

If you're that type of insomniac, lavender oil, "visualizing yourself relaxing on a beach" and/or Simply Sleeps From The Makers Of Tylenol ain't gonna solve shit. Your only hope is called EMBRACiNG INSOMNIA. I invented it, kind of. It's a two-step program. The first step toward embracing insomnia is accepting the fact that you can't do the things you have to do tomorrow tonight at 3 AM. The second step is the "embracing insomnia" part of Embracing Insomnia. See- as far as things go, there are a lot worse of things than lazing around in a comfortable bed with absolutely no obligations to anyone or anything. Doesn't that sound so preferable to, like, work? Or school? Insomnia is fun. It's so easy! It's way easier than "the day", that's for sure. All you have to do is lie there! You can think about whatever you want. I like to make up stories in my head about my fake relationship with Syd Barrett, or imagine myself meeting Paul McCartney. Sometimes I play a game called "The Alphabet Game", where I write songs using words from all the letters of the alphabet in order, such as, "All babies can dig elephants/Friends gather here in a jukebox/Kids, Ladies, Men...etc."

And that's what you do. You stop freaking out about how you're having insomnia, and you enjoy some chill quiet hanging out within yourself brain-time. The longer I can exist in what Sir Paul McCartney calls "That Twilight Moment," the better. Sometimes I come up with really cool ideas in That Twilight Moment. For instance, just last night, I wrote down "Start saying 'Whatevsies'?" in That Twilight Moment. And I will. Whatevsies, Insomnia. (Laura Jane)

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Wednesday , October 14, 2009

HOW TO LIVE: The nogoodforme Guide to Achieving Maximum Coziness

DEEP DOWN KAT IS REALLY A FUZZY STUFFED ANIMAL

I suppose I can begin this primer by invoking the Danish concept of hygge, which I discovered in my recent sojourn to spiritual Scandinavia. Hygge (which in my mind is pronounced very incorrectly yet amusingly like "hoogly" but is really said like hu-gah) is one of those little words that means a big thing, which is the mood of well-being you get when you take pleasure in the modest, ordinary details of life; words like coziness, security, familiarity, family and comfort are invoked when describing the overall feeling of hygge. I could also tell you that coziness is all about bringing lovely, warm, toasty feelings closer to you, about corralling warmth and creating a bubble of good cheer and comfort in a harsh, cruel world. I suppose it's also a gesture of intimacy and nurturing, of others and of yourself, and that's always a good thing, spiritually speaking. Perhaps ultimately coziness is about making the world around you feel like a giant hug, which makes me feel all happy and mushy. But really, for me, creating a little emotional nest of cuddly goodness is all about indulging in my alter ego. By day I'm a striving, super-active cultured professional smarty-pants and tale-spinner, dressed in black and boots and chains, listening to death metal on my headphones and doing my city lady thing. But in the privacy of my own home, I transform into a stuffed animal. I like color! And cute things! And brightness! And cuddling and tea and slippers and charming bed companions and pajamas and pretending I live near a harbor and am writing a novel! This is my favorite thing in the world, so this is why I am always so happy when it gets chilly and grey and rainy outside. I mean, I love stark, austere beauty, in nature and fashion and art and architecture. But there's something about going from that to COLORFUNTIMECOZYGOODNESS! that makes me love life so fucking much. (Kat)

coziness_kat.jpg

COZINESS AND HOW TO GET IT:

(1) The key is happy, comfy, soft, fuzzy, want-to-roll-around-all-day-in-them textiles. It's also a plus if they're in colors and patterns that make you happy. Naturally, the Scandinavians are genius at this -- these textiles are all done by Swedish designer Lotta Kuhlhorn, which you can read about at Huset's blog.
(2) When you cocoon, you need good tunes. Bjork's Vespertine is my favorite warm-n-fuzzy soundtrack. It's her girliest, sweetest, gossamer-awesome record and my favorite of her entire discography 'cause it makes me feel gooey with love and affection. "Heirloom" is one of my favorite songs on it:

(3) You can't be cozy when your feet are cold! I love those knitted slipper boots; I have an unconscionable number of them in different patterns and colors, that's how seriously I take this. I like ones with pom-poms on them, just so I can go around and sing that Scout Niblett song that goes "Has anyone seen my pom-poms" or however it is.
(4) I like this Aviator Nation hoodie because it's all eco-, crafted in Cali and has lightning bolts, but really the most genius thing about Aviator Nation is how delectably SOFT AND BEAUTIFUL they feel when you wear them. It doesn't really matter what they look like, because they feel sooooooo gooooooood. Everything in the whole line feels wonderfully worn in and beloved; the price is totally worth it. You have to feel it for yourself.
(5) Happy colorful pajama bottoms! Old Navy is actually genius at them. I wanted to put something even more obnoxiously patterned, but I feared for the health of my photo montage.
(6) I'm such a nerd, I even have a fragrance that I like wearing only at home. Usually this is a very foodie, gourmand-y scent, like with vanilla and caramel and creme brulee. This always shocks people who know me, but I like Juicy Couture fragrances for this because they're sweet and the bottles are so pretty. This one smells like a watermelon cupcake, which is really weird, I admit, but somehow my skin loves it.
(7) What do you do when you are holed up and being cozy? You read books and watch movies (and write and knit and do a multiplicity of hobbylike activities.) I am always fond of all of Hayao Miyazaki's films -- they're beautifully animated, with a sense of wonder and charm, but yet deal with really profound themes of nature, love, family and the like. I think he's a genius, and his movies always leave me with a happy feeling at the end of them. This is from Ponyo, his most recent film, but I also love Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.
(8) and (9) It's no secret that I'm a genuinely voracious reader; these novels by Elaine Dundy are kind of perfect for reading on chilly fall and winter moments. They're like reading fizzy martinis: they're charming and effervescent and fun, about young women in the 50s being soigne and madcap in European cities, but there's an undercurrent of something a bit more grave. I mean, really, do yourself a favor and read them...they're unexpectedly lovely. I will probably do a whole blog entry on Elaine Dundy soon; she was a very nogoodforme kind of lady.
(10) And finally: FOOD! Food is at the heart of being cozy, because it warms you from the inside and is nourishing and delicious and wonderful. I'm fond of soups galore for that ultimate cozy feeling, but other warm liquids do the trick. I have become super-fond of Roastaroma, which is coffeelike but is really a kind of chicory/barley thing with cinnamon, allspice and other goodness. It really smells like autumn in the most wonderful way: warm but just slightly sweet.

HOT CHOCOLATE WALKS ON PLANET HOTH

leiahoth.jpg lizfurryvest.jpg hotchocolate.jpg
(L to R: Princess Leia on Planet Hoth, my furry-vest pic from Beautifully Worn; hot chocolate)

Obviously the first thing you should do to get cozy right now is read the thing I just posted about kicking apples and resisting The Carrie Bradshaw-ization Of The Self. It has cookies, kissing, Beatles, and other things that will snuggle your heart. It's good, I think.

Obviously the second thing you should do is move to Los Angeles, where it's warm enough that you can usually wander around outside in the middle of the night in winter and your bones won't freeze and shatter. Then you can go on lots of "Hot Chocolate Walks" (or, if you like fun with words, "Hot Choc Walks") instead of just hiding inside all season like a big fat bear*. Basically you just head out the door with your headphones/earbuds, preferably a few hours after nightfall, then walk to a place that sells hot chocolate. Then you buy yourself a hot chocolate, and then you drink it while walking around some more. So easy! So sweet! A few thoughts on optimizing the sweetness:

1) Put on some fuzzy and/or faux-furry clothes/accessories, like a knit hat or boots that look like animals. I used to have the most perfect Hot Choc Walk outfit; it was skinny slate-grey jeans tucked into my stupid now-dead baby-pink fake Uggs, black hoodie and pink knit scarf and my hair in two little Cinnabon-buns at either side of my head. I looked just like Princess Leia on Planet Hoth, but sadly I had to kill the fake Uggs and the whole thing just kinda fell apart. The furry vest above works good, but I'm sick of that thing now too. I so wish I'd bought that black hooded bomber jacket when I had the chance.

2) You need really dreamy songs. Like: The Dirt Of Luck by Helium, anything by White Magic, Vespertine by Bjork (which I totally typed here before realizing Kat had already written about it!). Or anything else that would probably sound perfect if you were half-asleep.

3) Cheapo instant hot chocolate beats the pants off the fancy stuff, IMHO. I'm especially fond of how Swiss Miss gets that layer of cocoa scuzz on top and there's those little granules of undissolved mix and sometimes the tiniest lamest marshmallows in all the world. But if you're gonna do it fancy, go to a place that makes its hot cocoa from milk instead of water, and get it with soymilk, and ask for marshmallows. Any cafe worth its salt should totes have marshmallows on hand during the cold months, I do believe. Or you could bring your own jar of Fluff.

You're on your own for the rest. If you're a sap like me, maybe you could wander over to the residential streets and go "ooh/ahh" at the Christmas lights wrapped around palm trees. If you're secretly a five-year-old, also like me, maybe you could make up your holiday wishlist in your head. And if you're someone who obsessively romanticizes everything that ever happens to her - not like me at all, WINK! - maybe you could mentally record every moment and then go back home and write in your notebook about stuff like the adorable pack of long-haired skater boys with black jeans and little-kid teeth hiding out behind the donut shack, smoking a joint you wish they'd share with you so your "muscles would melt into something ooey-gooey like hot caramel on a McDonald's sundae." Dreaming of hot caramel sundaes = coziest. (Liz)

*Not that we don't love big fat bears.

THE BEASTIE BOYS ARE THE HOT COCOA OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY (AND ALEX TREBEK IS A "SNOOD")

The Beastie Boys, "Do It"-

cozy1.jpg The statement "I prefer autumn to winter" is true about me, in the same way that "I'd rather get shot in the face than drown to death" is true about me too.

I have no interest in coziness. If I'm cozy, it means I'm cold. I wish I could just, like, quit being Canadian, move to LA or Savannah, stop fucking complaining, and enjoy life as the brass-skinned, sun-bleached, June-born brat I was born to be. Doesn't immigration law realize that I'm Baby Lemonade?!?! I live for the extroverted recklessness of the spring & summer months. If you want to hear about how rad it is to drink cocoa before an open fire while wrapped up in a polar-fleece blanket wearing a plaid flannel and snowflake-print long-johns, you're lookin' at the wrong member of the nogoodforme troika.

Life has thrown me a lot of curveballs this past while, and I hate it all like celery, like summer's end. According to my Pocket Oxford, "coziness" and "comfort" are synonymous. I derive little comfort from hot coffee, hoodies, leaf-crunch, bonfire-smell, and sweet potatoes. Nothing that used to work works anymore; I want everything to be different. I don't want to listen to the Beatles or the Kinks. This October, I want to listen to the Beastie Boys, because they are comforting to me. Low-pressure and upbeat.

+ Continue reading "HOW TO LIVE: The nogoodforme Guide to Achieving Maximum Coziness"

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Tuesday , August 25, 2009

HOW TO LIVE: How to Know if You're in Love with Him, by Laura Jane & Jackadory

zac.jpg

Hi! My name is "Hungover Laura." I suck, and want to die. There is no amount of coffee that can fix me. Welcome to the most pointless day of my life!

Last night was cool. I hung out with my friend "Jackadory." Like myself, Jackadory is single. Also like myself, Jackadory is the type of person who thinks Zac Efron is mind-blowingly hot. Triply like myself, Jackadory loves gettin' all good and wasted on a Monday night. As such, we decided it would be really intelligent of us to get drunked and have a "Single Gals' Night In," dedicated to camping out in my bedroom and watching 17 Again, starring Zac Efron and Chandler Bing. My initial intention was to review 17 Again hilariously for nogoodforme.com. This didn't really work out, because here is my review of 17 Again:

"NOTES ON 17 AGAIN," BY LAURA JANE FAULDS:

"Zac Efron is insanely hot. I hope he wasn't born after 1990. Either way, I really want to make out with Zac Efron. "17 Again" is the most depressing movie I've ever seen. It really rubs the whole "You're not making out with Zac Efron" aspect of your life in your face, cruelly. If you are single, and want to make out with Zac Efron, this film might make you want to commit suicide."

In the cases of both Jackadory and myself: it made us want to commit suicide. We decided to deal with our probably-negative suicidal energy by going out to this one bar we always go out to, where, we claim, "the hot dudes go." I think it's time we stop claiming this, because we have yet to see one single hot dude at this bar. It's depressing. Good thing good old alcohol is so awesomely good for numbing out one's depression! Sometimes. Last night, it just made us slurry and weird. I was bummed out because Ray Davies doesn't know who I am, and Zac Efron doesn't know who I am either, probably. Jackadory was bummed out because she is obsessed with a dude who lives in another country, and can't figure out if she is in love with him, or just obsessed with him. "Am I, or am I not, in love with him?" wondered Jackadory.

Good thing I am a very helpful friend! To aid Jackadory in figuring out whether or not she is in love with this dude, I came up with this simple and convenient set of questions (off the top of my head, no less!) to help her, or you, or anybody, figure out if you are in love with him.*

* There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, except for a couple, which I will point out. "How to Know if You're in Love with Him" is sort of like the I Ching. More than anything, it's a GUIDE, to help GUIDE you towards the TRUTH.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU'RE IN LOVE WITH HIM, by Laura Jane Faulds

1. What do his eyebrows look like?
2. Picture him sleeping. Are you kissing him in his sleep?
3. He is your boyfriend, and was recently transferred to the place in the world you would least like to live. In my case, this would be "Antarctica," or, "Siberia," or, "The North Pole." Do you go with him?
4. If you were eating a really delicious chocolate bar, would you offer him a piece of it, even if you didn't want to give it up? At all?
5. How do you feel about his "shoe choices"?
6. If given the opportunity, would you increase/decrease his general "jeans bagginess level"?
7. How would you react if you found out he was "bad in bed"?
8. Is he worse than you? Better than you? Equal to you? (This is one of the ones with a "right answer," which is "equal to you." If he's "better than you," you are merely obsessed with him. If he's "worse than you," you're desperate, and need to give it up)
9. He gets the worst haircut you have ever seen a dude get. How does this make you feel?
10. Does he know who The Kinks are?
11. As of this exact second, he is paralyzed for life. Do you stay, or do you go?
12. Would you say the word "boner" in front of him? (I'm iffy about this one. But it seems like, if you were in love with him, you probably wouldn't. Because you don't want to seem slutty, or give him one.)
13. It is 3:32 PM on a Tuesday. You are hungover, aren't wearing mascara, and your hair is wet. You are presently sporting ten-year-old sweat shorts and a Snoopy t-shirt, which is stained with egg yolk, and something else. You are drinking instant coffee out of a plastic cup. He knocks on your door. You open it. How do you feel about yourself?
14. You find out he has a girlfriend, or is "seeing someone," or maybe you just saw him talking to a girl once and are freaking out about it. Do you obsessively stalk her Facebook profile? (This is an important one. It seems like, if you were in love with him, you would. But things aren't always as they seem! If you are in love with him, you don't obsessively stalk her Facebook profile, because it's just too goddamned self-destructive, and it forces you to think, "Imagine if he knew I was doing this right now?", which is humiliating.) .
15. Would you make out with him over Zac Efron? (This question does not apply if you are wondering if you are in love with Zac Efron. "Would you make out with Zac Efron over Zac Efron?" makes no sense. The answer to that question can only be, "I want to make out with Zac Efron." And don't we all.)

THE CONCLUSIONS WE REACHED:

1) Laura Jane is in love with Zac Efron.
2) Jackadory isn't in love with Dude, though she may be "sub- in love with him," which means something, apparently.
3) Laura Jane is smart about dudes.

Okay! Cool! There. I blogged. Awesome. I am now going to try and motivate myself to walk to Blockbuster and return 17 Again.

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