You Are Cordially Invited to Rachel’s Second Annual 29th Birthday! (Get it?)

Okay, so, I’m actually turning 30, but due to the societal expectations that turning 30 entails – with at least a dozen things that I feel like I should have gotten done at this point and haven’t even come close to (including but not limited to: buying a house, getting married, sending out Christmas cards with my new husband and our adopted cat that say something like “Meowy Christmas,” driving a car different from the one I had in college, paying for my own Netflix account, starting a Pinterest board, and posting to my Instagram page at least one inspirational quote written against the backdrop of a beach) – I had the idea to instead celebrate my 29th birthday again.

I’ll probably keep doing this “annual 29th birthday” bit until around 36 or 37, in which case I’ll give in to my real age because I’ll be in my late 30’s, and by then fake pretending to still be in my 20’s will just be sad, to the point where even my most forgiving friends won’t be able to pretend to laugh anymore.

Until of course, I turn 40 – and at that point, I’ll have my second annual 39th birthday, forgetting that I originally made the same ten joke years prior, while all of my friends politely chuckle at my wit while secretly feeling sorry for me that I didn’t accomplish as much as I should have by my 40th year (including but not limited to: buying a house, getting married, cat, Christmas cards, Pinterest, etc).

I’ll continue this cycle until my 60th birthday, in which case I won’t care anymore because I’ll either 1) have the unfiltered confidence of a late middle-aged woman and will finally come to peace with my age because at the end of the day, who really cares about that? or 2) have no sense of humor anymore, even an unoriginal one.

Anyway, you are all cordially invited to join me for my second annual 29th birthday.

Which is secretly my 30th, but please don’t spread that around.

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Sorry not sorry Yvette

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My “Before I Turn 30” Bucket List

Someone recently asked me if I had a “Before I Turn 30” bucket list.

First of all, no I don’t.

Second of all, that sounds like a great idea that you could have asked me about 20 years ago.

However, if I had to guess what would have been on that bucket list, I think it would’ve looked something like this…

Things I want to accomplish before the age of 30:

  • Appear on Oprah
  • Run a marathon
  • Publish a book with a foreword by J.K. Rowling
  • Water ski
  • Ride a camel through a Spanish desert
  • Go on a safari in Africa
  • Learn another language
  • Join the Peace Corps
  • Trek the Inca Trail
  • Become a famous ballerina (on the list from 5-year-old me)
  • Hike Mount Everest
  • Adopt a child from a third world country to bring them out of the poverty that they would otherwise face
  • Fly in a hot air balloon over the Swiss Alps
  • Shake hands with a president (present company excluded)
  • Go camping in the Alaskan countryside and witness Northern Lights
  • Bungee jump in the Grand Canyon
  • Learn how to play the piano
  • Learn ballroom dancing
  • Marry Aladdin (5-year-old me again)
  • Jump off a waterfall in New Zealand
  • Get a Ph.D.
  • Take a gondola ride in Venice
  • Ride on the back of a hunky Italian’s moped
  • Mentor a child and make a difference in their life!
  • Swim in the beaches of Hawaii
  • Learn sign language
  • Learn how to knit
  • Airboat across an alligator-infested swamp
  • Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Get married in a mid-century European castle

 

Unfortunately, I never did make a pre-30 bucket list, so none of those things happened. On a more optimistic note, though, here’s a list of…

Things I actually accomplished before the age of 30:

  • Born
  • Got my first kiss!
  • Met a Power Ranger
  • Sort of learned how to juggle
  • Visited the Outer Banks
  • Read over 25 Babysitter’s Club books
  • Convinced Cheeburger Cheeburger to let me participate in the Pounder Challenge with veggie burgers
  • Graduated from a bunch of different places, including college and Greenfield Elementary School
  • Went apple picking that one time
  • Started wearing colored contacts
  • Stopped wearing colored contacts
  • Adopted a fish
  • Accidentally lived in a cult
  • Ran with the bulls (in Petersburg, but whatever)
  • Saw the Pope
  • Fed a monkey on the side of the road˙
  • Got a tattoo that means absolutely nothing
  • Tried stand-up comedy
  • Saw Levar Stoney at a bar
  • Taught my dad how to send a text message
  • Held a koala
  • Learned how to drive a stick shift
  • Kissed the Blarney Stone
  • Rode an elephant
  • Flew first class twice, both times on accident
  • Sang Chop Suey in public
  • Called out of work to go sandboarding

Now to get started on that pre-40 bucket list.

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New Year, New Blog

The New Year is here (11 days ago) and that can only mean one thing (for this single blog who has nothing else to think about but itself): what to write about in 2018.

My ideas are beginning to run dry after having started this blog 5 years ago. I’ve already covered my former life as a barista, my thoughts on Valentine’s Day, why I think Donald Trump was the right person to take office, the looming demise of my CR-V, the time I almost got dine-and-dashed, and the rigorous plight of my vegetarianism.

But I’ve come up with a list of potential posts, which I’d like to share.

I will a accept feedback and votes, and shortly will open the polls for my mom and the three other people who read this.


  • What the World Is Going to Be Like at the Age of 30
  • Should I Grow a Mustache for Movember?FullSizeRender
  • What It’s Like to Be a Former Blonde
  • Why Can’t I Ever Spell “Triscuit” Correctly the First Time?
  • Texas Pete vs. Cholula (seriously, I can’t decide)
  • Poached vs. Soft-boiled (seriously, I can’t decide)
  • Crunchy vs. Smooth (seriously…)
  • Shop at Walmart vs. Starve to Death (no, but seriously)
  • “I Used to Want a Pony When I Was a Kid, but Now I Don’t at All!” Subtitled: Life Is so Crazy Sometimes
  • The Last 25 Things I Googled
  • The Last 25 Things I Bought on Amazon
  • What It’s Like to Be My Roommate
  • “Do I Need to Start Thinking About Retirement?” Subtitled: Why Did I Say That Stupid Thing to My Crush in College, and Other Things That Keep Me up at Night
  • What Earth Day Means to Me (please vote for this one, because I already wrote it in sixth grade so it would save me a lot of time)photo 3
  • Famous People I’ve Met, Like Tig Notaro and the Green Power Ranger
  • Famous People Who Signed My Cast, Like Tig Notaro and the Green Power Ranger
  • Movies I’ve Watched Just to Feel Smarter
  • “The Weird Noise My Car Is Making.” Subtitled: I Know I Should Just Get Another One, Shut Up
  • Things on My “Before 30” Bucket List That I Definitely Didn’t Accomplish
  • “Bananagrams.” Subtitled: Other Useless Things I’m Pretty Good At
  • The Time in Amsterdam When I Went to Bed at 5:30 p.m.
  • Hangover Cures When You Don’t Eat Bacon: A Guide for Vegetarians
  • Do I Really Ever Need to Learn How to Use a Lawnmower?
  • Movies I’ve Never Seen That Everyone Says “You’ve Never Seen It?!” When I Tell Them I’ve Never Seen It
  • The Time I Went to the Wendy Williams Show
  • “Pillow Drool.” Subtitled: And Other Things You Probably Don’t Want to Know About Me
  • The Time I Thought I Could Get Rid of My Bangs By Just Cutting The Hair Off at the Root
  • The Time I Ate 53 Papa John’s Pepperoncinis in an Hour Because of a Dare
  • The Three Wishes I Would Make If a Genie Came Out of a Lamp
  • Things I Use Way Past Their Expiration Date
  • Things I Eat Way Past Their Expiration Date
  • “The Time I Wrote a Fake Article About South of the Border and It Went Viral” Subtitled: We Used to Vacation There When I Was a Kidtrump-team-starts-wall-at-south-of-the-border
  • Why I Think Donald Trump Might Have Alzheimer’s
  • Why I Hate Shopping Villages
  • 30 Fun Facts! Including How I Used to Eat Snow Cones Without the Syrup!
  • Lukewarm Coffee Is Always Better Than Hot Coffee
  • The Time I Cried at Cracker Barrel

My New Year’s Resolutions

I love the New Year. It’s the opportunity for a fresh start, a new year, a turned-over leaf. It’s a way to eliminate bad habits and create good ones.

As an unmarried, childless twenty-something, I’ve developed my fair share of bad habits – generally formed out of laziness, apathy, or constantly being in a rush. But I’m determined that 2018 will be the year of an improved lifestyle, better habits, and pouring milk into a glass rather than drinking it out of the carton.

That’s why I created my list of New Year’s resolutions. Wish me luck.

  • Eat meals sitting down like a normal person instead of standing over my kitchen counter

This goes back to the whole “laziness” thing. After preparing something to eat, why can’t I just travel the three-foot distance from the counter to the chair? These are the unexplainable questions nobody knows the answer to.

  • Stop biting my cuticles

This has been on my New Year’s resolution list since 2004. 2018 could be the year!

  • Watch something on TV besides Shark Tank

Or Undercover Boss.

  • Learn how to take a selfie

You would think it wouldn’t be that hard.

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  • Buy birthday cards ahead of time rather than on my way to the actual birthday party

For some reason, it never occurs to me to get the card until 15 minutes before the event starts. Note: this resolution also counts for, but is not limited to, occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, and baby showers.

  • Get the driver’s side door of my car repaired so that it finally opens from the inside

It does get a little embarrassing as people watch me roll down my window and open the door using the outside handle, or see me crawl across the entire front seat to get out of the passenger’s side, like a bored child at a restaurant.

  • Fill up the Brita pitcher when it gets empty, dammit

Sometimes I think subconsciously, I’m hoping that my Brita pitcher will just learn to do this on its own. I’m beginning to believe that that’s just wishful thinking.

  • Stop putting Texas Pete hot sauce on almost everything I eat

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Learn how to make Minute Rice without ruining it

It’s hard though, you guys.

  • Floss

So I can stop lying to my dentist.

  • Use utensils to eat leftovers

Rather than with my hands, on the couch, in sweatpants

  • Pay attention to the time when I check my phone for…the time

Oh I got a message! Oh I forgot to text my mom back! Oh I need to set my alarm for tomorrow! Oh I wonder if my photo on Instagram got any comments! Oh I need to get back to what I was doing!

Wait, what time did my phone, which I’ve been staring at for half an hour, say?

  • A little less “Taco Tuesday”

And maybe a little more “Salad Sunday.”

  • Grow out my nails to a natural length rather than cutting off the white parts every five days

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  • Take the “Are you still there?” message from Netflix as an indication that it’s time to stop watching TV

And then maybe go read a book, or like, actually leave my apartment.

  • Remove my clothes from the dryer when they’re done, clean up after myself in the kitchen, and take out the trash once in awhile

Okay, so I made some New Year’s resolutions for my roommate too.

 

Don’t Rent to Us

Kathleen and I have lived together for almost five years. We get along really well, we cohabitate peacefully, and we’ve remained close friends regardless of any typical roommate-related disagreements that may have come up.

But we’re cursed.

When we first moved in together, we found a nice spot in the Fan. As with many Fan apartments, this one too was inundated with mice, mold, leaks, broken appliances, broken locks, drafty windows and warped doors. But we just chalked all that stuff up to the drawbacks of an old building as we laughed and hugged and told each other how much we liked living together.

And then we got the hell out of there before the roof collapsed in on us.

From there, we moved to an apartment building in Shockoe Bottom. You know, something more stable and up-to-date with more credibility and fewer rodents.

But somehow our complications still followed us.

And I’m not talking about minor concerns like an occasional light bulb replacement. I mean, major issues.

THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL

Our first order of business when we moved in: have a broken garbage disposal. Now, we know the rules of owning a disposal and we didn’t put anything suspicious in it. If that’s what you’re thinking.

It just kept breaking on its own. We’d have to plunge out its contents and wash them back down, then make a service request with the building maintenance crew. They’d fix it, and it would be fine for a little while, and then it would break again.

Finally they gave in, and installed a brand new disposal. It worked beautifully and we lived happily ever after.

“Whew, glad that’s been resolved and we can move on with our lives without having to think about any other household disturbances,” we both thought, like idiots.

THE PANTRY DOOR

Our pantry door was one of those stupid sliding/folding doors that was a horrible off-white color and made a nails-on-a-chalkboard scraping noise whenever anyone opened it. And as if all that stuff wasn’t bad enough, it would frequently pop off the door frame and flap freely into the kitchen like a flag in the wind.

After many maintenance calls, we finally figured out that we could just pop it back in ourselves.

Okay…that one was partially our fault.

THE TIME WE ALMOST DIDN’T GO TO EUROPE BECAUSE OUR KITCHEN FLOODED WITH WHITE PAINT WATER AS WE WERE PACKING TO LEAVE

Then there was the time we almost didn’t go to Europe because our kitchen flooded with white paint water as we were packing to leave.

While we sat on the floor of our dining room making the last minute additions and checks, we heard a steady drip of water coming from the kitchen. We got up to find our entire sink filled with this chalk-colored liquid, brimming over and spilling onto the floor in a manner as if it had no intention of stopping.

I assume it got resolved, though, because by the time we came home two months later, it didn’t do that anymore.

THE LAUNDRY ROOM

If you missed this piece about how we got kicked out of our last apartment, here’s your chance to read it. To summarize (but then go read it because it’s an absolute knee-slapper!): Our laundry room flooded approximately once a week for over a year. No matter what the maintenance crew did and no matter how many times they came to do it, the laundry room continued its debauchery. It led to mold, cracked floor tiles, warped floorboards, and many wet kitchen mats.

And don’t even get me started on the resulting cockroaches, as I might curl up into a ball of hyperventilation on my kitchen counter again.

In the end, we never saw this one the whole way through because our landlords politely moved us to a new unit so that they could fix the issue once and for all.


So, great! We’ve moved out of the cursed apartment and into a fresh start.

Or so we thought.

But just like when we moved out of the apartment in the Fan, our issues continued to follow us. But this time the issues graduated from minor annoyances to full-on malfunctioning appliances.


THE REFRIGERATOR(S)

The first week in our new apartment, I went to grab something from the refrigerator before leaving for work. I noticed it was a little…unchilled. I touched another thing. Unchilled. Another thing. Unchilled.

What the…?

Unbeknownst to us, our entire refrigerator had shut down in the middle of the night amidst our slumber. So we set aside the food items that were salvageable, and broodingly threw away the rest. We made a less-than-friendly call to our management office, who, to their credit, took care of the issue promptly. We had a new refrigerator by the next day.

I won’t go into the tedious details of the rest of the fiasco. But I’ll just tell you that this exact circumstance happened two more times. TWO MORE TIMES.

Refrigerator breaks. We have to throw away our perishables. We call our landlords. They provide a new refrigerator. Repeat.

Finally, they wised up and realized that we couldn’t be trusted with just any old, used refrigerator. We needed a brand new one.

And so that’s what we got.

THE OVEN

We started to notice that the front right burner wasn’t warming up very quickly, or getting as hot as the others. Eventually we noticed that it barely worked at all. And then we noticed that it was cold metal coils no matter how high the dial was turned.

So we informed our landlords.

I guess at this point they knew they just needed to cut to the chase when it came to us, because shortly thereafter, we came home and had an entire, brand new oven.

Perhaps that was a bit extreme. To be honest, I didn’t think one non-working burner was that big of a deal. But who can say no to a never-before-used flat top stove?

AND NOW…THE DISHWASHER

There’s not really a good story to this. I guess I could try to spin it in an interesting manner, but you get the idea at this point: after awhile, we began to observe that the appliance in question wasn’t working as well as it should have been. Then eventually it stopped working altogether.

And yesterday, we got word that we’re getting a brand new one.


Just as a disclaimer: Before you start thinking that it’s the quality of the apartment building itself and not us that’s cursed (because, yes, we thought this too), we became aware that none of our neighbors have had as many home-related problems as we’ve had. But at least our curse comes with new stuff.


So, to the River Lofts management team and leasing office: I’m sorry you ever decided to rent to us, and I know you’re sorry too. But if you wouldn’t mind hurrying it up with that dishwasher already, that would be great. I’m just really tired of hand-washing everything, okay?

Love,

Rachel and Kathleen

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Survival Diary: My Day Without a Phone

This morning, I accidentally left my phone at my boyfriend’s apartment. I realized this after I’d already gotten home, and he had left for the day. By then, it was too late. There was no retrieving it until his return.

This is the true, firsthand account of my day without a cell phone.


It is official: you are gone. I have just come upon this realization, and my devastation is unbearable. We will likely be reunited this evening, but that seems eons from now. iPhone, you are my folly, my support, my stability, my joy, my reason for getting out of bed each morning. I just don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day without you.

But I must proceed onward.

Hour 1 without my iPhone: Though I have no appetite, I managed to throw together a light dish for breakfast. And though, due to my grief, I put less effort into my meal as I normally would, it still came out looking positively exquisite. The eggs were cooked perfectly, two shiny yellow yolks surrounded by a thick white ring. A side of avocado toast, a dash of pepper, and a spritz of Sriracha sauce made my plate an absolute masterpiece. As I prepared to share my chef-d’oeuvre with the rest of the world through a Clarendon-filtered Instagram photo, I remembered that this would be impossible.

Your absence is made known in everything I do. I cannot escape reminders of your disappearance.

Hour 2: iPhone, it was amazing. I got in the shower and managed to erase the memory of your loss from my mind for a blissful ten minutes. Gone were my concerns over being apart from you, replaced with the steady trickle of warm water and soapy steam.

But immediately once I turned the water off, and heard no traces of your sweet sounds – a riveting Spotify playlist, an educational NPR podcast, or the smooth reading of an audiobook, for instance – all of my memories of you came rushing back, and the grief seemed to have doubled. Will I ever make it through the agony?

Hour 2.5: I got ready for my day in silence, missing your custom sounds to distract me from my thoughts. I took up humming briefly, as I thought I may die from the quiet infiltrating the air. But it simply wasn’t the same; the humming merely served as a reminder of my grim reality.

Oh, what melodies would I be playing from your tiny, delicate speakers right now, iPhone?

Hour 3: I managed to make it out of the house; I wasn’t sure if I would be able to today, without your comforting existence in my back pocket. But I had made previous plans with a dear friend, so onward I went. We agreed to meet in front of a local shop, but I suddenly fretted over these arrangements. What would I do if she didn’t arrive on time? What if I were to break down along the journey? What if there was a miscommunication in regards to the meeting destination? What if I get lost?

All of these fears and more fluttered around my head, fears that would normally be assuaged by your reassuring presence. Oh, iPhone, might it be a mistake to journey out into the world without you?

Hour 4: iPhone, good news. I made it to my destination without the slightest hint of an obstacle. Oh now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t miss your melodies, caressing my ears, throughout the expedition. The local radio’s Top 40 hits simply couldn’t compare, but alas, I had to settle.

My dear friend and I also managed to connect without difficulty, but the minute we sat down, my thoughts of you came flooding back. I couldn’t show my latest photos to her. I couldn’t share my location with all of my social media followers. I couldn’t reach out to my other companions when the conversation lulled, or when she momentarily excused herself.

We had a lovely afternoon of catching up, but the void in my heart was still too much to bear.

Hour 5: I must cast aside my humbleness for a moment, to share about the rare cooperation of my hair, and the astounding outfit coordination that I achieved today. Normally, iPhone, I would have used you to communicate these achievements with my friends and followers on every means of social media through a well-angled self-photograph. But just as with my breakfast, everyone will simply have to rely on their imaginations to presume what the image would look like.

My suspicions that you are irreplaceable are constantly confirmed. iPhone, our reunion cannot come soon enough.

Hour 6: I began reading a book. It’s hard to explain what exactly a book is, but it’s something that I used to imbibe in before I met you. Once you came into my life, however, I have never had any reason to pick it up again.

My efforts to read this book failed, however. I quickly became bored with all of the empty words, none of which were accompanied by an image in which I could comment on, or a hashtag in which I could click on to connect with others.

iPhone, forgive me for never realizing before just how much joy and pleasure you provided me throughout each day. I will never take your amusement for granted again.

Hour 6.5: This will be my last entry. I just cannot do it any longer. This time without you, iPhone, has just been much more difficult than I imagined. I have relinquished myself to a corner of the room, unable to find anything else to do with my mind without your limitless screen of possibilities in the palm of my hand.

iPhone, please know how much enjoyment you gave me throughout our years together, and how much simpler you made my life. I apologize for my feeble attitude, but I simply cannot go on any longer.

Hour 7: Is that…? Could it be…? A knock on the door…? Are my ears just hearing what they wish for…? Is this what dying feels like…? Or is that…? Someone at the door…? Here to return you to me…? Let me just…unfurl myself…retreat from the corner…get to the door…open it…and…YES! IT IS YOU! YOU HAVE RETURNED FROM YOUR CONFINEMENT AND INTO MY FINGERTIPS! OH, HOW I HAVE MISSED YOU! I THOUGHT FOR CERTAIN I WOULD NEVER…

16 texts, five Facebook messages, three Snaps, and a voicemail from my roommate?

Ok g2g bye

Costumes of Halloween Past

Around Christmas, many people enjoy sitting around with their families, fondly reminiscing about joyful Christmas memories.

Similarly, I do the same thing on Halloween. I enjoy sitting around with my family (I mean, by myself), fondly reminiscing about joyful Halloween costumes.

And I thought this year, I would share.


2006: My first college Halloween. My roommate Alyssa and I decided to dress up as rock stars. Because college was teaching us to think outside the box. I, on the right, was Ashlee Simpson (the brunette, post-nose job version, of course). I can’t remember (or tell) who Alyssa was. I also can’t remember why we were posing with a poster of Pirates of the Caribbean.

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2007: I said farewell to my female emo pop star days, and hello to “Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam.” At this point in my life, my obsession with The Office was palpable, so it just seemed obvious to dress up as one of the characters. Especially the one that looked exactly like me.

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2008: This was the year after Juno came out and, like any teenage/early-20’s girl, I was a huge fan. So much that I simply had to figure out how to make it look like my eggo was preggo and walk around like a hormonal, sarcastic 16-year-old. Honest to blog it wasn’t so hard.

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2010: My job at the local Australian steakhouse (Outback) permitted us to dress up on Halloween. While most of the other female servers used this opportunity to show off what they normally had to cover with frumpy uniforms (a few girls even got sent home to change, as I recall) I used this opportunity to show off my love for kid game shows from the ’90s.

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2011: My first and only Halloween living in Australia. Generally, I try to get pretty creative with my Halloween costumes. But as you can see, this year I made an exception. Perhaps I was afraid no one would get my pop culture references. Perhaps I didn’t know what was culturally normal. Perhaps I was just lazy. But for this costume, I found a cheap pair of cat ears and paired them with every piece of black clothing I had brought with me. It appears that everyone else had the same mind set. Better luck next time.

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2012: It’s a-me! (Sorry). My BFF and I wanted to dress up in complementary costumes this year, so naturally we landed on Mario and Peach. What I learned: World of Mirth has great clip-on mustaches, and overalls are great for concealing a flask.

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2014: This was the year of my gloriously broken foot. And since I couldn’t remove the boot from my costume, I decided to let it influence my costume instead. Which is how I ended up as Tiny Tim. Disclosure: I am wearing pants.

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2016: Due to a haircut a few months prior, which came out very mom-esque, I could only think of one way to spend my Halloween last year: in a turtleneck/cardigan combo passing out freshly baked cookies while making sure everyone made it home safely.

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And let’s not forget this year, where I simply couldn’t decide which homemade costume to use.


And now: the opening of the Trick-or-Treat files.

1992: Was I a princess? Was I a ghost? Was I a bride? Did my parents just use Halloween as an excuse to put me in the dressy clothes that I never wore otherwise and would soon outgrow? Whatever I was, I’m sure I was unhappy about not looking as cool as my brother the skeleton, and my other brother the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Also you can tell I was totally cheating at that game.

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1993: No, not a cow. I was obviously dressed up as Perdita from 101 Dalmatians. And too busy thinking about something else (candy) to notice there was a picture being taken.

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1994: If you really think about it, those Lion King costumes are pretty dumb. The character’s mouth was designed to fit over the wearers head, making it appear that the lion cub is eating the child. But you can tell from my expression that I thought I looked cool as hell. Because frankly, I did.

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1995: If you’re here to make fun of my makeup, you can keep those comments to yourself and move along. I killed it this year with my costume, tiara and all. I don’t remember much about this Halloween, but I do remember staring at myself in the mirror for a long time. I was just so darn shiny.

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