I (Almost) Auditioned To Be On The Voice Today

This morning I almost competed on the preliminary tryouts of The Voice. This sounds like very exciting news but it’s actually not. In fact, my almost audition caused me to almost miss my Megabus ride.

Believe it or not, I was not trying to become America’s next big singing talent at 5:45am this morning… I was just standing in the wrong line for a very long time.

I’d like to blame the early hour for my prolonged confusion… because, I stayed in line for The Voice tryouts for over 20 minutes. It was long enough for me along with my fellow contestants to be led by an official-looking cowherd around the corner, then separated into a groups of four, and almost to the convention center’s doors.

Yes, it all seemed a bit odd to me. But I haven’t ridden a Megabus except once junior year of college and I’m very unfamiliar with its ways. All I thought was: I hope we all fit on the bus!

It seemed like A LOT of people to all fit onto one bus headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That was one of the reason I first started to feel nervous early on while waiting in line. It also seemed a bit much how everyone’s family and friends was waiting in line with them to a certain point and then hugging and kissing them goodbye… waving furiously as they left. I was like, come on, people this isn’t the Titanic… I mean I know buses can be a bit rough but this is a little much. (Alright, maybe I was just a little jealous!) However, what I wasn’t feeling was any nervousness that I had mistakenly stepped in line to audition for a national singing competition on a live TV show. I have LOTS of natural anxiety and would definitely coin myself as a worrier, but this isn’t one the fears that commonly crosses my mind.

But now, I will definitely be adding it to my list of SHIT THAT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN.

I did, instead, grow super stressed because no one else in line had luggage with them. I was the ONLY PERSON with a rolling suitcase… Everyone else had a purse or a small backpack, and one lady had a fanny-pack a purse but that was the most I saw anyone else carrying. Except for the handful of people, mostly all guys, who carried GIANT acoustic guitar cases. So naturally, my first thoughts after processing this:

Omg, they must only allow one carryon item no bigger than a small personal belonging such as a purse, backpack or fanny-pack per person, or guitar cases are allowed as the exception.

I began thinking up some casual, yet dramatic, excuses as to why I needed to bring my rolling suitcase along (i.e., special assistance needs, or I’m on my way to a friend’s or better yet my cousin’s sister’s my wedding and my gown is stuffed inside my suitcase… No, no, don’t worry about finding hanging space. I’ll have my bridesmaids steam it once I arrive at the ceremony’s location in Pittsburgh via a Megabus. Bride on a budget, #amIright?) Also, I was mad-dogging it & gearing up to fight the Man, aka the Megasbus crew. If an acoustic guitar case is allowed it’s only fair if my same-sized suitcase is allowed onboard. I even brainstormed maneuvers to stuff my designer Rebecca Minkoff handbag into it to condense.

It was finally when the security guys started yelling at our group, I knew I had real worries. ”

Okay, if you’re in this line it’s because your reservation ticket says 7am, ONLY! No one else should be in this line!” I panicked. I turned to the mom and her son in line behind me.

I said: Wait, did he say 7am? My ticket’s for departure at 6:10am!

And, The Mom said: Huh?! No sweetie, he said they’re gonna open the doors for us at 8am.

Me: Wait, really? Then why does my Megabus ticket say 6:10am. What does yours say?

The Mom: Oh. This ISN’T the Megabus line! This is the line for The Voice.

Me: Wait, what?! Really. Omg. I’m looking for the bus!

The Mom: You need to be across the street then… and you better RUN!

It was now 6:10.

I took off– whoosh– hustling and rolling past the crowd behind us. A younger girl stopped me while I was running back up the hill (cursing & praying the bus hadn’t left yet! PLEASE, by the grace of God!) She nicely asked if they were letting people in who hadn’t reserved an audition spot, (which ironically I was almost one of those people!) I yelled to her as I ran:

I’M NOT ONE OF YOU.

So, basically: if my running out of the line with my wheeling suitcase to stop the Megabus, which hadn’t even started boarding yet, didn’t draw some eyes, then my yelling at the poor girl like she was an X-Men definitely got me noticed. And yet, I am still waiting for the producers of The Voice to call me up and make me a big star… I’m sure I left the audience of my fellow contestants thinking, who’s that girl.

And, if any of you future Britneys, Christinas or JT’s auditioning at The Voice in NYC today, really, totally, embarrassingly blow it… just remember, it could’ve been worse.

You could’ve been that girl who thought she was waiting in line for the Megabus.

P.S. Here’s a baller chocolate chip cookie recipe.

20 Things Clueless and I Have in Common

You’re probably thinking AS IF right now, but before you roll your eyes and click away, I actually have 20 very legitimate reasons! So, in honor of the 20-year anniversary of the way awesomest, totally best movie ever, here’s some like very solid reasons as to why I really, totally am the real-life Cher Horowitz! Just listen, okay?

Photo: Deskblog.com

1. Well, we both have blonde hair.

2. Unfortunately, we’re also both in the dead mom club.

3. I’m also half-Jewish, but to be fair I’m pretty sure Cher gets her jewish heritage from her dad’s side where as mine comes from my mama’s side. BUT STILL, it’s totally NOT way common or anything!

4. I also was super head-over-heels in love with a super cute guy in high school who turned out to be gay, which I was totally so clueless about. He was the lead in all the school musicals, had the nicest group of girl friends to hangout with, and was the star of our high school choir. I could not for the life of me figure out why he wasn’t way into me. I was sure my hair had fallen flat or something. But then, in college he started wearing way tighter pants and came out to the public.

5. I didn’t drive a jeep, so I can see why I like totally lose points for this one, but I was a terrible driver and DID FAIL my first driving test. But luckily, while wearing my most serious-looking outfit, I eventually passed (third times a charm, #amIright?!) and got to buzz around town w/ my besties in my Harvest Moon colored VW bug.Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 9.42.42 PM

6. I also had my car before I had my real driver’s license. It was actually my boyfriend who took me out for driving lessons most of the time… which might explain why it took me a couple times to pass my driving test.

7. When I feel, “impotent and out of control, which I really HATE!” I head to the mall and do some major shopping… I guess you can say I totally shop my feelings.

Photo: Paramount Pictures

8. I am a major Jane Austen fan– seriously! I did a book report in the fourth grade on my long-time favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice… it was a really good school.

9. I was ALWAYS TRYING and sometimes even totally succeeding in giving my friends makeovers… and yet, I still, for some reason, had friends believe it or not! (Oppsies! Sorry, guys!)

10. Whenever I see people with their legs crossed toward each other I always, always, think about how that’s an unequivocal sex invite.

11. I really did (and still do!) want to be 5’10 like Cindy Crawford. I’m still hoping.

12. Lots of people at my dad’s company (he just retired recently) were super afraid of him. My guy friends working in his stores would tell me about how even their managers would run and hide in the back when he walked into their stores… but, like Cher’s dad, he totally continues to argue with me for free, even into his retirement!

13. I wore high heels allllll four years of high school, and to this day, my bestie will NEVER LET ME LIVE THAT FACT DOWN… I even had two pairs of the same style but different colors so I could wear one of each on spirit days. It totally rocked… (please disregard ANYTHING my bestie has to say in regard to this!)

14. I waited til I was 16, like Cher, to have my first kiss from my very first real boyfriend… I had to make sure he was perfect, duh!

Photo: Marie Claire’s Best Clueless Quotes (these totally rock)

15. I wasn’t robbed at gunpoint or anything but one time someone hacked my debit card, which can be just as scary really if you think about it. Like, the NERVE! Luckily, thanks to my dad’s super secure bank, I was able to be like AS IF credit card frauds and totally get my money back! Crisis averted.

16. For better or for worse, I love crop tops.

Photo: Pinterest via Lovelyish blog

17. I never argued or pleaded for better grades in high school… BUT I did enter a plead bargain to graduate and receive my college degree, which is kind of like a huge deal. I was failing Comm Law for like the second time, and so, I had to go in the day before graduation and beg my teacher to bump up the grade on a late paper so I could graduate. In my defense, you had to have like a C or above to get credit for the class! And I’d tried super hard but I can’t help it if media laws just aren’t my thing?! You know?! Luckily, she totally took pity on me, and let me pass so I could start at my new job the following Monday.

18. I am like a total matchmaker… In fact, one of my very best friends from college is now engaged to the absolute best guy because I pushed her (on purpose, duh) into him at a bar. He offered to buy her a drink and the rest is total, romcom-worthy history!

19. I had a dress copycat incident, too… but at prom. I just really can’t even talk about it, still, years later…

20. Finally, in case you can’t tell by reading through this list of ridiculous and totally silly reasons: I’m still a little bit Clueless. (But aren’t we all!?)

Photo: imovie quotes

RT Worthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

This recipe is from memory… so Teddy Graham (bear) w/ me:

1/2 Cup Butter

1/2 Cup Crisco *I swear using half butter and half crisco makes for the most fattening, chewy delicious cookies ever to grace your cookie monster lips

1 Cup Brown sugar

1/2 Cup White sugar

2 Egg Yolks

1 Tbsp. Vanilla

1 (ish) Tbsp. Maple Syrup

3 cups flour

1 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt

1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 cup chocolate chips (any kind your little heart desires!)

1 cup chopped chocolate bars OR another cup of chocolate chips… (I like to chop up nice big chunks of both white and dark chocolate bars to keep things interesting)

Directions: Cream the butter and Crisco (ohhhh baybee!) and add both sugars… cream together on high (get it!), add the eggs yolks, mix, add the vanilla and maple syrup; meanwhile, in a neighboring & separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients (no, this does not mean all ingredients not containing alcohol… speaking of, you can for reals add a little tsp. or so of Brandy to the batch for extra flavor. Martha does it all the time, I swear!), slowly add the dry to the wet in three additions & mix that shit well after adding each, then finally, add the goods (chocolate chips & chunks) mixing either by hand or on a low speed.

Bake ’em nice and big at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until set. For good lookin’ cookies chill the dough prior to baking (for overnight or at least 2 hours) or place the cookies on the baking sheets and then into the freezer for 15 (ish) minutes before baking.

Here’s some other choco-chip-inspo recipes to try! Plus follow ThisBabeBakes via Pinterest for tons more recipes… get yo’ yummy on!

Life After Loss: YOLO

How do you live a life you never wanted? That’s what living with grief feels like at two months in.

I wake up, make a to do list and skim through Twitter, I burn the daylight hours by waddling around town or cleaning my forever-filthy-looking apartment, during these activities I can usually find a reason to laugh (I trip a lot because I’m super awkward), or sometimes I maybe find a reason to cry too, and this routine fills my days while I’m learning to live without my mom. It sounds really affected, I know it, but losing my mom has caused my family to need to relearn how to live our routine lives. I never would’ve understood it prior to losing an immediate family member, and when others don’t get it, my dad, brother and I always choose to be thankful. The ignorance of our friends and family, coworkers and strangers, means they have never had to know what it feels like to lose someone who takes up so much space in life. It’s not a pain I’d wish on anyone else, in fact, this pain awakens a kindness from within that you never knew existed.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross really nailed it when she said:

98c25f82fa4efffdedba0064a34d0f63I’ve stopped forgetting my mom is gone, which was a heartache and headache I couldn’t shake for the first few weeks. It’s not like I would wake up every morning not remembering she was gone, as if acting out a f’d up version of “50 First Dates” (probably directed by my fav Woody Allen & probably a musical). Instead, I would have a question, like who someone was in an old family photo, and I’d think: I’ll have to ask mom. It’s second nature to ask her the things only a mom would know, and I’ve learned it’s true that our hearts and minds can take a little longer to process our reality. It always felt a lot like crashing into one of those annoying lamp poles in a parking lot… easy to do and I felt pretty stupid. I’d stop what I was doing and remember how I can never ask my mama anything again, and it hurt.

I’ve only dreamt about my mama twice and I knew it wasn’t real both times. I don’t ever feel her presence, either. When she was alive, however, I could tell you what she was thinking or needing. I knew the sounds of her footsteps approaching without looking up and was a carbon-copy of her DNA in every way. My dad and her girlfriends see her all the time. I’ll get a text saying, “Your mom was with me!” or “I saw your mom today!” And all I can think to say is, “Neat!” Because maybe I’m missing the boat on ghost visits or I expect something too real, but I mostly block out all conscious thoughts of her. She stays on my mind, though– living just below my skin– and the smallest tokens will move me to tears: a mother and daughter bickering on their way to get pedicures, an old movie ticket my mama kept from her birthday five years ago, a heart-shaped cloud, the beach, hearing “Your Song” by Elton John, a Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon, donuts, Carol King, etc. This is the stuff she built me from and her love continues to guide me toward popular 70’s music artists and home goods.

Now I’m trying to figure out how best to not only live my life but to fully YOLO it, even without my best friend. My biggest fear since I can remember has always been something happening to my mom– a pretty solid sign I was both way too attached to her and also a super weird kid. (Very true.) But, it happened. She’s gone. And so, I’ve faced my biggest fear in life at 24… And, I’m not afraid of anything anymore. I’m building a life and career again, and my mama would want nothing less for me than utter, giggly, fulfilling and amazing, somewhat (completely) silly, truthful happiness. My life’s adventures will 100% contain all the good stuff she taught me. Whether this life feels new or old, the fact is: I’m changed. How could I not be? I’ve cared for someone more than I’ve cared for myself and I was alone with her in the stillness of the moment when she passed away.

Throwing the mic back to Big Liz to end things:

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 11.50.18 AM

P.S. My new apartment is finally together! Big thanks to my home improvement team, consisting of my dad and our two dogs, who worked hard this past weekend to fix all the holes I put into the wall via my new power drill. The cat can now walk through the apartment without piles of books and clothes falling down and squishing her, (which is totally not as much fun to watch), and I don’t live in constant fear that TLC will be shooting a TV special featuring my apartment anytime soon. Good things are happening here at Chaos HQ.

More Than A Cookie.

I moved home when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer last fall. My mom had no idea she was sick until severe stomach pain sent her to the ER, where a doctor wrote it off as passing gallstones and dismissed her to see a primary care doctor for a follow-up. A week later, our family doctor captured the first glimpse of a growing tumor during a precautionary ultrasound. 6cm by 5.9cm, these are the exact measurements that began an earth-shattering odyssey of my favorite person in the world being diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer on August 11, her birthday. It wasn’t much of a celebration, and I returned to NYC to finish out the workweek. As I busied myself at the magazine where I was working, pulling make up samples and sending emails, there wasn’t much on my mind other than my mom’s newly revealed death sentence.

“I can’t stand here picking out lipsticks knowing my mom is so sick.” I remember saying to a coworker… I couldn’t be anywhere but with my best friend.

I moved home the following Monday, and as the weeks stretched on I turned 24 and my mom began her chemo treatments for palliative care. Her hair fell out, and I ripped mine out, as we adjusted to family life with cancer. There were good days, and lots of bad days, which eventually made the really good days feel like miracles. We even managed a trip across the country to California so my mom could visit my Nana and uncles. I started a part time job consulting on the media plan for a new women’s activewear line, and my mom had a steady influx of caring visitors to cheer her up. We learned the set patterns of how chemotherapy affected my mom– when to giver her tylenol or ibuprofen for fevers and what days would be her best or her worst. Life seemed to be adjusting to this new disaster. We even had good news in early November when her first scan showed the cancer was holding stable, amazing!

But as the holidays hit, it was obvious my mama wasn’t up for her normal supermom activities like: decorating & redecorating the house, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, shopping the perfect presents for my dad, brother & I, and of course, baking EVERYTHING for EVERYONE in town. When diagnosed with cancer, so many big things are lost, and so are lots of little things. It sounds vain to worry about hair loss and baking cookies when dealing with a terminal disease, but cancer takes away not only a loved one’s health but also so much of his or her identity as a healthy person. I shouldered her holiday checklist and did my best to pick up the pieces when she felt too tired to finish a project. Despite my lack of prowess and confidence in the kitchen, I jumped into helping her with Thanksgiving dinner, and I even took on the making of the pies. Living in NYC, I had worked for a couple of women’s fashion magazines, People StyleWatch and Allure… back then my mind was continuously focused on fashion week, eyeshadow palettes, season previews, setting up run throughs, and working with little to no thoughts of food or sleep. My studio apartment didn’t even have an oven, (which would have been handy for storing clothes.) Something sparked in me, though, the day I made those mini pumpkin pies. I topped each one with hand-drawn cutouts of pumpkins and fall leaves using the leftover pie dough… it was my first taste of creative freedom since leaving my life in the city.

The next few months were a blur of stumbling through hard times as a caregiver and amateur cancer researcher, by day, and then baking all kinds of treats ranging from my family’s favorite Christmas cookies to mini Mascarpone cheesecakes or broiled cinnamon rolls, by night. I’d tuck my mama in by 8-8:30pm, and then I’d bake. Sometimes, I would keep going until 5am and crawl into my bed exhausted as well as lightly dusted in powdered sugar. I grew more and more fascinated by different buttercream frosting recipes and what the heck a “sponge” meant within the food realm. Baking took my mind off things, like how much my heart was breaking to see my mama laying on the couch all day, and it kept me from crying all night, which was a bad habit I’d fallen prey to for coping. Plus, as a bonus it was an outlet for all my built-up workaholic, artistic energy. I began taking on new challenges to push myself in learning ambitious skills and to also allow baking to creep into my limited daytime hours. Our home care nurse, who was a nun, kept coming back for more of my intricately decorated angel sugar cookies to bring to her sisters. She called them works of art. Our family church asked women of the congregation to donate a couple pies to the annual men’s dinner, so I delivered a variety of ten, (I also choked back my inner-New Yorker who cursed about how super sexist the ways of suburbia are… men’s dinner, really?) For a neighbor’s Hanukah celebration I ventured into blue & white cupcake decorating, a jewelry fundraiser hosted for pancreatic cancer research prompted me to craft 50 purple ribbons out of fondant, and there was ALWAYS a reason for CAKE.

My new hobby continued well past Christmas, with every holiday serving as a welcomed excuse for me to bake treats, including: my first three-tier cake for the Super Bowl… or as I like to call it, the lumpy-layered, green cake with a potato-shaped topper. I began baking my family out of house and home, with quite the cookie stockpile going, so my dad suggested we start handing out cookies to patients during my mom’s chemo treatments. The undeniable joy we saw in the eyes of so many brave, cancer-fighting warriors, their caregivers and our sweet nurses inspired my dad and I to keep brainstorming what we could bring in for everyone the following week. We relished in how quickly the cookies would disappear if set out in the waiting room and looked forward to handing them out room by room together.

All those darn-good tasting cookies… they were a little bit of light in a dark valley.