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So, how does one start on a fitness journey that actually may end up in success? For me at least, one would enlist a badass trainer with ice blue eyes whom you’re literally afraid of: like Chelsey Wilkens. (She looks like a sexy Terminator and acts like John Conner is my belly fat.) She then takes you to Soho Strength Lab and puts you on a weird, futuristic Scientology-looking thetan-scanner/body fat measurer, quickly after, you sob uncontrollably when you realize that you have endless pounds of ooze to lose. Since I don’t own a scale and haven’t weighed myself since pterodactyls flew the skies, this number made me feel like I should paint my body blue and spray paint Goodyear on my belly so I could at least make some side cash.

To give you a sense of my weight change, when I moved to NYC I was so thin that a light wind could pick me up and whoosh me to another zip code and people often mistook me for a life-size cut-out of a two dimensional advertisement. Now, I have micro side-vaginas all over my body whenever I bend or twist: They’re cute, and my elbow crease could probably help catch a predator, but an indicator of fitness they are not.

Chelsey assures me that this is ok, explaining that I simply have to gain 10 pounds of muscle, because for every pound of lean body mass you have, you burn 50 more calories a day, and not to worry that apparently all my muscles have atrophied and turned into bisquick batter. Easy for her to say, since her body is composed mostly of carbon fiber and glass shards. I also learn that due to my body type I need to consume slightly less than 1,500 calories a day, not 2,000, (I’ve been hoodwinked my whole life – damn you, food pyramid of lies!) Which is good, because after this helpful  information,  the only food I plan on eating is Adderall and 5 hour energy drink.

Here’s how my morning goes. I wake up, stretch, and everything hurts.  Did you know your insides could hurt from non-sexual exercise?  I had forgot about that.  All over my body, connective tissues in places I didn’t know existed are pissed and they are screaming at me. According to Chelsey, if you get really sore its because you didn’t ingest at least 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of exercise, either way I feel like there’s a Hitchcock movie being filmed inside my abdomen.  I then stare at my ceiling and think to myself, “Boy, I would rather have sex with a cheese grater than face the day ahead of me.” Too bad, because out of bed I go where I sit on a pillow and attempt to meditate.  

This is the part of the day where I wait for aliens to come out of the sky and connect with my mystical meditation hole, beaming ancient, healing, extraterrestrial wisdom into my pineal gland.  Suffice it to say this does not happen.  Mostly what happens is I hyperfixate on my inability to achieve whatever feeling meditation is supposed to bring me and then fall deep asleep at a weird angle, waking up totally confused as to how my body could so closely resemble an acute triangle and yet stay asleep.

Following Chelsey’s directions, I make a glass of warm water with lime and salt to “kick start” my day.  Tastes like lemonade, if lemonade had married the love of her life but never had children because he didn’t want any, but then left her for her best friend who was pregnant.  By which I mean….bitter.

I then make a nutritional meal replacement shake with coconut milk. This tastes roughly like I’m taking a pile of sawdust on a sugar-free tropical vacation. This would upset my nutritionist Fernanda, who recommends whole grain bread with eggs and avocado or Greek yogurt with fruit, but for now my brain is literally functioning at Australopithecus levels, so liquid food in tube it is. 

Next up: swallowing as many pills as someone undergoing a sex reassignment: vitamins, brain boosters, mood stabilizersprobiotics….on and on it goes. Do I really know if supplements work?  Of course not.  Do I take them and think that somehow swallowing a ball of fish guts and powdered non-magic mushrooms will reverse the effects of living in NYC?  I DO.  Why?  Because lying to myself is the only way I’m going to get through this without losing the last precious marble I have rattling around my brain.

Then, ladies and gents, it’s time for my least favorite activity of the day, which if it were a TV show would be called, “Zoe, What Can You Wear?”  There would then be footage of me spinning around my bedroom like a Tasmanian devil on PCP creating mini-tornadoes of clothes in my wake, hopelessly trying to get dressed for whatever misc NYC job I have.  It’s infuriating, because I have so much dope shit I could wear, but it’s all one size too small. I rifle though my closet trying to find anything that doesn’t actively show my nipples or cervix in my “Yeah, Right” section, trying on pants that somehow used to fit over more than just one of my legs and then freak out, shove all these clothes back in my closet, and find my fanciest pair of black yoga pants with a stretchy waistline and a “can-do” attitude. I pair that with a silky, billowy top that covers all my squished-in belly fat, because if I wore something tighter people might stop me on the street and ask me the most dreaded question of all, “Awe, when are you due?” I then find a fabulous, sparkly, distracting jacket so people won’t notice I’m basically wearing bedazzled athletic maternity pants.

Next stop on my day is…drumroll please…my cold-pressed, vegan, sugar and taste free overpriced juice place (which in my mind is called “Haute Hippo”).  This is where I get a “juice” by which I mean a large cup of pulverized lawn clippings with a dash of celery and cayenne pepper for flavor.  I used to love fruit juice, until Chelsey ruined my life and informed me that the tart, sunshine filled  ambrosia I used to drink was basically a liquified brick of sugar that had a good publicist. The main problem with HH, is that I’m always in line behind a large group of newly transplanted blonde women all somehow named Laura.  You can spot them instantly by their purple yoga mats and lululemon outfits carefully concealing the OM tramp stamp that they got at the full moon festival in Thailand. As soon as I see them the dark thoughts begin…

Have you ever fantasized about sending yoga chicks to a deserted island so they could fight to the death over dwindling supplies of Diva cups, Palo Santo and hula hoops ala Lord of the Flies?  No?  Weird. Recently, sometimes when I see  women like the Laura’s,  I’ve wanted to strap her into an electric chair and force feed her super  sized Big Mac meals until she would only be able to leave the house with the aid of a forklift. This is not a good thing, I am working on it.

I then go to CKO Kickboxing, where a man who looks like he just got released from Rikers yells at me through a faulty PA system so loud that I’m shocked I’m not forced to learn sign language after every class.  Halfway through kickboxing I feel invincible, endorphins pumping out of every pore. Forty-five minutes into class I crash, ready to sign a pact with the devil to release me from this curse from the gods that feels like being tied to the top of a mountain with a ravenous eagle feasting on my liver forever.  Then, miraculously – thank the devil – the class is over and I limp out, full of pride and pain, ready to take on the day.

Lunch?  According to the Internet, if you want to lose weight while maintaining energy throughout the day, the best thing to do for lunch is have your mouth wired shut and then have midgets baby-bird you wheatgrass shots through the wires.  Or, technically, according to Chelsey, you should have healthy fats and lean protein, because it’s more satiating, boosts brain function and keeps you full longer.  So, my next stop is usually Sweet Green.

Ah, Sweet Green, where endless lines of millennials converge, swallowed up in their misc Apple products, lost in their own amorphous world of tweeting, texting, liking, hearting, and obsessing; building virtual businesses; helping no one but themselves.  But damn, aren’t those salads delicious!  This place should be an event in the Hipster Olympics. “Will Zoe be able to go for gold, waiting in a two hour line behind the entire Urban Outfitters catalog from 2012, so she can pay $20 for gussied up hamster food…can she do it?  Coming in hot behind her is a Swedish eco-furniture designer with a Flock of Seagulls haircut and teal culottes, talking loudly in a James Bond accent about his vision for his “brand.”  Is her stamina up to the challenge?” Briefly, I hate the person I’ve become.

I then spend the next six hours trying not to think about chocolate croissants and making up excuses why I can’t go to whatever misc food orgy social event I’m invited to, since I have no self-control, and when I go to dinner, I do things like drink a whole bottle of port and order three deserts.

For dinner I have an imaginary bowl of penne vodka-covered in fresh parmesan and a side of buttery, aromatic garlic bread and two invisible glasses of Rioja, followed by a chocolate caramel mousse of air.  Boy is it delicious.  My roommate is a bit concerned when then she comes back and sees me dipping a spoon into empty bowls, then licking it and smiling in delight as the rush of imaginary fat and sugar light up the synapses inside my One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest head.  (If you actually want to eat food, not air, the trick is to eat before 8 pm and have your plate consist mostly of fresh veggies, lean protein and good fats).

Due to the angry sugar demons that live in my brain that like to play a accordion heavy Mariachi tune right before bed,   I walk over to my empty refrigerator (I had my model roommate throw away anything and everything that had flavor, calories or sugar in it; leaving behind only a bottle of soy sauce and and old carrot) and remember days where I would take a bowl of whole milk and crumble Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies into it for a light bedtime snack I called, “Real Life Cookie Crisp.” I then sigh, brush the remaining kale remains out of my teeth and crawl into bed, full of the kind of superiority only people who feel like they have a future ahead of them have, and dream of Val Kilmer in Willow reading me Whitman, while Dolly Parton and I eat whipped cream-smothered key lime pie.

Health doesn’t have to be a science. It’s literally a consistent series of decisions like, “is this food, drink, or party bringing me closer to my goals or farther away” or “does this choice benefit me for five minutes, or get me closer to where I want to be in five years?” It’s all up to me…. So I remain, faithfully your climbing slowly up the Everest of health, trying to remain positive while waiting for my side v’s to dry up.

 

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I am embarking on an epic, Holy Grail-like health adventure, and like my Monty Python brothers before me, I expect it to be full of failure and consequent hilarity. I am doing this because when I was late to a flight at the Denver Airport and had to sprint across its gargantuan terminal, by the time I got to the departure gate, I thought my lungs were going to magically sprout tiny union workers, holding signs and forming a picket line in protest. 

The worst part is that I used to be an avid backpacker with a closet full of carabiners ready and able to participate in all outdoor adventures; but this last decade in New York has left me a translucent, broken cicada shell, clinging desperately to memories of when I was able to get to the top of a six-story walk-up without my heart wanting to explode into a crimson firework. 

You know that expression, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?” IT’S NOT TRUE. If I could whip a ziplock bag of parmesan cheese out of my pocket, for “pasta emergencies,” I would. If I could substitute Krispy Kreme glaze for lube without my vagina turning into a penis fly trap, I would. If I could motorboat the entire counter of Milk, I would. I sometimes have dreams about Italian gelato so real that when I wake up ice cream-less, I am actually upset. I could write a desperate love novel, à la The Notebook, about my relationship with white sugar and flour. Not to mention, I feel for salt and potatoes the way that Forrest Gump felt about Jenny: I cannot quit you. 

Because of this, I’ve gained, give or take, a wet preschooler’s worth of weight this year, which is fine considering that my sister used to describe my physique as “methtastic.” Now I love my new body; it’s warm, friendly and easy to talk to…But my future as an Instagram It Girl with an instant Barbie toe and rehearsed flounder face who likes to show her ass for likes is in jeopardy. 

The good news is, as my intake of exercise and amphetamines have slowed down, I have developed “breasts” that require a “bra” and what was known in the early 2000’s as a “badonkadonk.” It’s like having a superpower I only read about in comic books. So this is what it’s like not having to rely on your “personality” to get guys. I now understand why most hot chicks rarely develop a prefrontal cortex. Why would you? Totally unnecessary. So, clearly I don’t want to lose my new lady lumps, but it would be amazing to feel like my mind and body were on an upward path to health instead of what it’s actually on: a rocket ship to planet Pillsbury. 

Where do all these nightmare #fitspiration workout addicts find the time? I wonder as a bass-mouthed, honey baked ham-assed wonder woman breezes by me, the sun glistening off her slick Aveda-scented ponytail on her morning run. The faint glow of her perfectly coordinated neon outfit leaves acid-like trails in her wake, while the subtle scent of disciplined genetic superiority wafts out of every pore. These people are especially impressive to me because even when I do put down the Bloody Marys and go to the gym — IF I can find a sports bra, non thigh-high socks, AND a hair tie that didn’t come off a banana — I consider it a feat akin to stealing fire from the gods. 

Perhaps these uber-manicured people don’t have four jobs and an elderly dog that walks about as fast as a sea turtle crawling up a sand dune to lay its eggs. It is also possible that they don’t have a gaggle of Oscar-worthy actors as BFFs having Fukushima-style life meltdowns every other day. Because everyone appears to be buff and on their twelfth day of a cleanse consisting of a combination of cold-pressed, gluten-free, sugar-free, kosher, dairy-free, vegan rabbit pellets and a murder-forgiving level of insanity. 

My biggest problem is that I hate NYC gyms. All I’m trying to do is work out hard enough to get a good vag sweat, but instead, I’m being tracked by the eyes of men whose blood is 95 percent protein powder. I can almost feel them imagining my knock-off Lululemon’s in a pile next to their Vitamix. 

Then I look around and see everyone on treadmills, all Gatticadded out, with this serial killer look in their eyes, determined to run forever or sit on a stationary bike spinning their lives away, and I’m like…fuck that….and then I turn around and meet my friend for a cocktail.

Because I recognize that I am walking a dangerous tightrope between “Baby Got Back” and being mistaken for a Costco Crisco tub, I will be enlisting the help of fellow COOLS contributors Fernanda de la Puente (superstar nutritionist and an obnoxiously beautiful Peruvian chef and yoga guru) and Chelsey Wilkens (American gladiator goddess with ice-blue Terminator eyes, gymnast and trainer) to lead this parched horse to sugar and alcohol-free water.  

Suffice to say, if I can actually pull this off, so can you. Because apparently health isn’t akin to looking like a fashionable stick insect with tits. Being fit is about being strong, having a clear mind and a ton of energy so you can do all the fun things you want to do until you’re so old that people will schtup you because you’re literally the only person left alive at their assisted living facility.

I will be chronicling my new-found health adventures with comedic and hopefully not pathetic updates. I will also be listing all of the horrible cleanses and Spanish Inquisition-style torture workout routines in hopes that you, too, will be able to follow along with me on my path to “health.” Wish me luck! 

Check out my badass mentors on Instagram…

@fernandadelapuente 
@chelseywilkens

And find me here: @drznightingale

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Hello, lonely hearts club! Zoe is here to help you through the most brutally unfair day of all, Valentine’s Day. Ultimately, it’s just like any other day: You wake up and have two choices 1.) play Valentine’s Russian Roulette where you put a loaded gun next to your nightstand, drink a bottle of Stoli, watch The Notebook and Love Actually back to back, and see if your family, job and future love prospects are enough to keep you alive, or 2.) get up and go to work like every other day, remembering that you don’t compare yourself to others because almost everyone is unhappy and in an emotionally exhausting relationship with diminishing sex returns. Whichever you choose, Valentine’s Day is coming whether you like it or not, so I just want you to be prepared.

WARNING: If you’re punch-drunk in love, staring endlessly into your partner’s almond-shaped eyes over candlelight, wondering how you ever breathed before you met them, then you can fuck right off. Why are you reading this anyway you smug bastard? Go get matching outfits and have slow, meaningful sloth sex for hours on a zebra skin rug in a Tuscan villa while Marvin Gaye sings softly in the background. This is not the article for you.

But, if you, like so many New Yorkers, are charging up all your sex toys and preparing to spend a night in your diorama-sized, apartment, watching Bridget Jones Diary, wondering why God hates you and only you, I have gathered a list of places for you to celebrate your singledom so you don’t spend this day sobbing uncontrollably while you stalk your ex and their new boo on the socials. You’re welcome!

GO FUCKING PARTY YOUR SINGLE, FABULOUS ASS OFF:

Hot Mess Dirty Circus of Love — A very special Valentine’s Night Dirty Circus brought to you by the legendary bad-ass bitches of House of Yes. So you love Cirque du Soleil but usually only have 16 dollars in your checking accounts? Come here where they have Broadway-caliber artistry at Bushwick prices. Do you want to hang out with people who look like a unicorn just came on their face? Have you ever wanted to watch slinky tatted up sex pots who could bench press a mack truck dance in the air while men whose penii have vanished into a bedazzled Bermuda Triangle lip-sync for their life to Mariah Carey? I know me too. Then join me here at the best venue ever. 

Fuck Love Party — Right after the Hot Mess Circus is the Fuck Love party! Where “love” doesn’t come in the form of chocolates, fancy dinners, and expensive gifts, but from the soul, and the single soul wants to dance, make out, flirt with strangers and then dance some more! Singles, couples, polyamorous triads, and every other configuration of partnership under the sun is invited. Here you can find anything your broken heart desires: boxes of chocolates, roses, champagne, kissing booths, therapists, matchmakers, divorce attorneys, AND tarots card readers…what else could a gloomy gal ask for? 

Bar Lunatico — Do you love men named Juan Carlos? Do you love spicy red wine and being twirled around a dance floor? Do you love Spanish TV shows where everyone is always pregnant? Then this is the place for you! Bar LunÀtico transforms into an Andalusian tavern with flamenco guitarists, singers, and special flamenco dancers, so you can dance your poor, shattered little heart back into formation. Dance heals all wounds. This I am sure of.

Sleep No More — Sleep No More, the jaw-dropping multi-level theatre spectacular, is the perfect place for your solitary heart…A place where you don’t need anyone; you have a mask, a martini, and a can-do attitude. My guess is within minutes you’ll find some swarthy-masked man and spend the entire night getting lost in dark corners with him. Shave your legs. Just do it. I know, I know, it’s winter and there’s almost zero chance your wool tights are going to end up on the floor of your new love interest, but fuck it, always be prepared. 

Heartbreak Karaoke — Sulking while single on Valentine’s Day is so passé. Why not attend an anti-Valentine party? Get your achy-breaky heart in front of a karaoke machine and don’t just feel the pain; spread it around and make others feel it too! They’ve got depressing, heartbreaking songs and enough bitter tears and sweet liquor to fill a swimming pool.

Valentines Day with SSION — This Valentine’s Day, performers SSION, Ziemba, Caitlin Baucom, and Pauli Cakes will inhabit the hallowed walls of Monica Mirabile Model Home v2 installation at Secret Project Robot. I mean..who doesn’t want to go to something  with secret robots? I mean seriously, what the fuck else do you have to do?

Get yourself a massage — Whether it’s a $30 quick and dirty rub ‘n tug in Chinatown or a more private affair, there is nothing that will make you feel as good as someone rubbing your feet. Unless you have found a partner with a foot fetish (and if so marry them ASAP), chances are your subway feet need some TLC. It’s NYC, just pay people to make you feel loved. That’s why we live here right? OR if you’re feeling fancy, call up my masseuse Sophia to come to your home and balance all your chakras with her hotness and Harlem Globetrotter hands. It’s so good. Her face massage literally will melt your troubles away. Number upon request. 

Korean bathhouse — Is there any place more fun than a Korean bathhouse? It’s like going to Mars: insane traditions, fun new food, everyone wearing oversized canvas uniforms that would make even Christie Brinkley in ‘81 look like an obese flying squirrel. Eat Bibimbap and pass out watching soap operas where women try to make facial expressions, despite having had an amount of plastic surgery that Joan Rivers would have found barbaric. Steam, sweat, soak, get yo’ nails did; it’s a wonderfully tranquil space where romance does not exist, and men and women are separated. Hurray!

Masturbate all day — It’s February, it’s freezing, and going out sucks anyway. Order your favorite ramen, eat noodles and then just cum all day. Masturbate until your wrist cramps. Jerk off until the sun comes up and Smokey Bear has to come warn you about fire safety due to the smoke wafting out of your well-done vag. Don’t worry…pretty soon someone will find you who loves you, and they’ll catch you in a marriage sack and you’ll be traded for two camels and a three-legged goat. Then, you’ll have children and you’ll dream of the day you could have stayed home alone watching Toddlers & Tiaras, eating a bowl of $8 berries off your belly while you ice your exhausted index finger. 

Go shoot guns — What could actually be a better way of spending a Valentine’s Day than at the rifle range? Get out some of your pent-up, single gal energy by decimating a piece of paper that may as well represent all your unused, fertile eggs and possibilities of happiness that you ruined with your neuroses.

Babysit for a friend — This is possibly the best idea since you’ll make money and earn huge kudos with one of your sad, overburdened mom friends, and you’ll have the added bonus of getting to see how non-romantic real-life couplehood is up close! Put the gremlin to sleep and delight in the fact that you’ll return to your LEGO-and-high chair-free apartment where your greatest responsibility is an air plant that’s already half dead because you got drunk and accidentally watered it with vodka. Oops! All good! 

Volunteer — No better way to get your sad-sack head out of your ass than to remember how lucky you are in the first place. Hope for New York has lists of places you can volunteer last minute. There are awesome programs to sit and hang out with wise-cracking old New Yorkers at their old-age homes; help cook and serve food for the homeless; teach English to new immigrants; teach soccer to middle school kids; hang out with lonely dogs at a shelter (you have so much in common!) There’s no end to the ways you can use your hands to help, which in turn will help your heart. 

Go to Lips Bachelorette show — There is no better way to feel better about yourself than to watch 30+ chicks from Staten Island, covered in penii accessories, drink Lisa Frank-colored martinis and get yelled at by aging drag queens. I promise you, it’s so fun.

Go dancing at a gay bar — No pressure, good music, and everyone will dance with you out of pity and tell you you’re pretty. WIN.


Here’s the good news: being alone is not a bad thing. It sure beats being in an unhappy, argumentative, sexless relationship. Love doesn’t have a day; it’s a voracious python swallowing everything in its path. My only real advice is to do yourself a favor and stay off social media, it’s brain poison. Radical self-improvement is the only way to beat the Valentine’s Day blues, so go to kickboxing or yoga or whatever it is you do to get your blood boiling. Drink a good glass — or bottle — of wine, and sit back and wait for Cupid’s arrows to disappear again for one more year…and don’t forget to masturbate.

SEX/LOVE

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2018!! What the devilled egg. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was trolling chat rooms as vampvixen@aol.com, stomping through my middle school hallways in beat up Doc Martens and babydoll dresses, praying that Jared Leto would take me to the middle school dance? I actually don’t know where the time went. But I digress; I am here to talk New Year’s Resolutions, but because I have -2% self control and full blown addiction to fun, I’m probably the worst person to do it. So, instead I’m going to write about some of the long term vices I’ve tried to vanquish with limited to no success, so that all you resolution breakers out there don’t feel so all alone. You’re welcome! 

Stop smoking

This is getting easier with the help of e-Cigs, but the problem is those little Apple remote-shaped bastards are about as easy to keep track of as a single sperm at a bukkake festival. I personally stopped because I had a very real fear that if I kept smoking I would somehow end up at a decaying bowling alley in Pennsylvania with a Newport 100 nestled in the right corner of my mouth, yelling at teenagers with my raspy, phone-sex operator voice, constantly coughing up Mucinex cartoon globs, spraying odor remover into bowling shoes. Success!

Read more

I used to be a insatiable book addict and now it’s like my brain has been hijacked by a Japanese ten year-old and stuffed into a pokeball and they only let me take it out to watch videos of  accessorized guinea pigs courageously overcoming obstacles. I am working to fundamentally retrain my brain to work in analog. It’s so depressing. Medium success.

Stop eating meat

Considering I routinely order things like pancake bacon dippers (this is a strip of bacon covered in pancake batter – I know, it’s genius), this is not going well. Eating animals is gross and an ecological disaster, so this really is my main lifelong resolution: find a way to stop loving bacon. As an angry ex-Jew, it’s really, really hard. Eating bacon feels like I’m slapping the Keepah right off a Hasid’s head, and I love it. Massive fail. 

Stop watching television

I really would like to stop watching things like The Bachelor but…I love it. No matter what is going wrong in my life, when I watch it I feel instantly better because even though I’m wearing only a crop top and one thigh-high sock, (#shirtvagin), eating chubby hubby with a fork while watching reality TV, at least I’m not vying for the heart of some dickless doofus and salivating like a Pavlovian bitch over a flower. Fail.

Wear matching socks

There’s a moment after drying my clothes where I stand in front of the machines and think to myself, “is this one of those days where I fold all my different black articles of clothing and then try to pair all mg socks with neon animal faces so I can have a triumphant Martha Stewart morning moment where I wake up to birds singing a song they’ve written just for me, and then reach into my underwear drawers that are lined with lavender sheets and pull out a ball of matching fresh socks?” Nah. Methinks not. Pile it is. Fail. 

Refilling ice cube trays

This is a problem you fancy pants aristocrats with an ice maker don’t have, but I have been working towards this one for years. Whenever I have people over I am usually forced to buy those freshman year of college ice bags at the deli, which then melts into one glob on the walk home. I then spend hours trying to figure out how to Macgyver enough ice to make a measly cocktail using the weirdest objects with varying results. This usually ends up with me sitting on the floor, holding a broken chopstick and a warm drink, feeling extra sorry for myself. Epic fail. 

Drink less alcohol

Do you drink boxed white zinfandel before 11am? Does your garbage can usually look like a recycling center? Have you ever told yourself that a bloody mary is part of the salad food group? Do you sometimes get so white girl wasted that you call your ex and say things that make you want to deadbolt your mouth and throw away the key? Who cares?! It’s winter! It’s the perfect time for drinking liquid charisma and making colossal, mortifying mistakes. Ok, so you may have to be on a transplant list one day due to your atrophied liver, but aren’t we all trying to live lives that are worthy of people writing memoirs about?  No one wants to read the book about the nice perfect person who never had any fun. Fail. 

Save money

This will always be a fail for creative types (who make no money) and live in New York City, (where you need all the money). This problem is squared by my insistence on spending every shekel I have on having all the fun and exploring the globe, living everyday like it’s my last. So suck it, people with a “savings account,” who know what a fixed rate interest is. Money is an illusion. It’s not backed by anything other than our perception that it’s real, so my need to hoard it is zero. I know, I know, I need it for “food,” and   “rent,” but do I really? Yeah, fuck, I guess I do. I should probably start saving. Anyone know a good tax guy? Spectacular fail. 

Stop using Uber and use the subway

Listen, I love the subway. It’s fast and full of art and music and full of colors and sounds. But…it’s winter and my lazy tuchus is racking up Uber bills every month that could feed a family of four in Minnesota for a year, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it. God, it’s good to sit in a black Carola and talk to Mohammed about how he came to NYC and how much gas costs, instead of waddling around in my winter gear, sweating it out like a naked mole rat underground. Fail.

Leave NYC during winter

Well my popsicle ass is still here, hiding out, muddy Sorels by the door, my dog’s eyes brimming with shame as she’s forced to wear hideous overpriced dog balloon-boots…When will I be one of these bi-coastal bitches? It’s so annoying.  I recommend everyone look into finding a rich old man with a heart condition who scares easily so you can say things like, “I winter in Mexico.” Fail fail fail fail fail. 

Stop losing stuff

Keys, headphones, sunglasses, debit cards, one glove, iPhone chargers, dignity…Have you ever considered getting a staple gun so you can permanently attach certain things to your body? I sure have.  Any time I buy something nice, especially headphones, this cold wash of fear sweeps over me; don’t sit on the headphones, don’t forget them in the taxi, train or airplane, are they charged, are they hungry?  It’s exhausting. I honestly think it’s better to get the five dollar ones from the street meat kiosks that sound like the music’s coming through one of those childhood soup can phones, so you can just relax already. Speaking of which, I have had a three year resolution now to cover all my things in Tile tracking devices. Still haven’t done it, still losing everything. Fail.

Stop going out to eat/learn how to cook

Like most New Yorkers, I love going to long, multi-course dinners, which consume probably 98 percent of my income. But I recently fell for the perfectly curated marketing of Purple Carrot, a trendy vegan home cooking subscription service. My mother was a workaholic business woman who taught me about as many skills as Helen Keller had in the kitchen. So when I ordered this box, I had a steep learning curve, and here’s what I found; cooking takes forever, makes a mess and doesn’t have guaranteed results!  To see if it was me who was the problem as per usual, I even got a pro chef friend to make their step-by-step recipes and even he was convinced it was written by drunk squirrels. Too much schlepping, way too much packaging and not enough snacking. Fail. 

Put the screens down

Are you a techno addict who puts their phone next to their dinner plate and glances at it 1,000 times while pretending to listen to your companion? It’s not OK people, put the flippin phone away. Don’t you realize it’s a like a 21st century Poltergeist, slowly sucking your soul into a tiny box? Thank goodness this is the one I’m getting really good at. I turned my data off for Instagram and Twitter and now only use my phone for navigation, podcasts, and Facetiming my mom. Success!

Put toothpaste cap on

It’s the simple things in life that let you know you’re not a hurricane, leaving a wake of destruction every time you enter a room. Success! 

The weird thing is, I’m pretty sure whomever you are, you’re good enough and you have enough already. Change is constant and essential, but perhaps try something even more radical in 2018; accepting who you and enjoying the beautiful bounty that is your current life. Unless you’re an out-of-shape writer, with student loans and a fantasy-based perception of the world, whose only way to feel superior is to watch the bachelor semi-naked, eating ice cream: then, possibly you need to make some changes. Which leads me to my next article! The fitness/nutrition editors of The Cools are going to whip my ass into shape. Stay tuned…

 

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I have a secret that I am very ashamed of,  but I’m ready to come clean and share it with you. Despite my image as a carefree, wanton sexpert… I am pretty vanilla when it comes to sex parties/orgies.

I know what you’re thinking: Zoe, that’s crazy, you’re an ex-party girl-burning-man-addict! You must have had multiple experiences of varying degrees of spice, at sex parties – and you are right, but I didn’t like it. Though I am far from traditional in any of my beliefs in any aspect of my life, I know for certain that I don’t want to be an apple-mouthed pig on a spit roast for ten people to feast on. There, I said it.

The problem is, in the rapidly aging NYC social scene I’m part of, the people who haven’t gotten married or had children yet are such profesh party people that they are becoming more and more jaded, leaving the party organizers scrambling to find anything that could possibly titillate them. So more and more events I go to just to dance at, are adding “sexy” elements: cuddle puddle sections,Shibari performers, roaming dominatrixes and flogging stations. For those of you not in the know, this kind of cuddle puddle heavy play parties are places that should be full of pillows and Teddy Ruxpins, but instead smells of old dick soup with a side of sadness.

What confuses me, even more, are the cult of the super sexy, eloquent, educated people that are experts at convincing me that I’m not sexually enlightened if I don’t participate in their Illuminati initiation ceremonies. Drop dead gorgeous women wearing what appears to be a couple shreds of black leather held together with a safety pin and sheer determination hand you glasses of punch with spirals in their eyes, their dulcet voices cooing softly that you should “relax,” and “go with the flow.” Listen, sexy zombie, if I could, I would! I promise you.

If something feels good to me I usually have to go to a support group to stop it. But my problems are prismatic and mostly centered around the fact that I hate sharing, and watching other people have sex makes my tummy angry and makes me contemplate sewing up all my holes to make certain this could ever happen to me.

My most memorable failed attempt to be a super cool, enlightened, rockstar sex journalist, was when I went to go check out the Burning Man orgy dome. My first problem was semantics based because the “dome” is not a dome, it’s a series of interconnected army tents, all bathed in creepy crimson light; with hundreds of twin mattresses haphazardly thrown about the floor. When you get there you have to take a deli counter slip of paper with a number on it and then wait for approximately 139 years. By the time you actually get in the orgy tents, I had had enough time to sober up and really think about what I was about to do (mistake).

Walking through the tents makes you understand what the Bible was always preaching against.  Devil-eyed gentleman with appendages that looked like carrots at a Chernobyl farmers markets gyrating on top of a plethora of snake-eyed women. My ability to hyper-focus on the variance in labia despite the lighting, was a real surprise. From the angriest little hermit crabs, to full-on Katz’s pastrami sandwiches, (at least it wasn’t a Reuben) I couldn’t believe what actual group sex looked like. I don’t want to body shame anyone, because everyone’s body is beautiful in its own way; that is until you see it get devoured by a swarm of human piranhas on extasy, everyone’s mouths moving around like acamel chewing gum.

I ended up being pulled in a pile of pixie chicks wearing debilitated fairy wings who all probably should have had tramp stamps that said “Mercury in retrograde made me do it,” and  proceeded to have a very short, but terrible no good very bad time because I felt like I was trapped in an outtake from a 2002 Girls Gone Wild Spring Break video.

It was noisy and boring because there’s one gaping problem when you have a bunch of bi-curious burner chicks baked on drugs…no one is actually gay enough to bite the bullet and eat the two-day old lycra covered party vag that’s been marinating in the sun and sand. I assume you have to really love pussy to do that. Have you ever seen straight ladies try to finger blast other straight ladies? It’s god damn hilarious. #blindleadingtheblind

Also, are Melissa Ethridge and I the only ones who must be the center of attention at all times during sexy time? I’m concerned that I may set a bitch on fire that was getting more attention than me. How do people not get jealous? I would cut someone so fast, ending up in a jail cell, singing Johnny Cash alone to myself.

I bet it was fun in the 70s when people had pure drugs being carried in briefcases by badass Pan Am stewardess, no STDs, and great orgy music on pressed vinyl. But these days where the drugs have had a Flamenco dancer level of stomping, Adam Levine, and Ed Sheehan are celebrated musicians, and one out of four people have a stash of Valtrex in their bathroom cabinet – what’s the fucking point?

I mean fine, maybe I’m a Jewy worry-wort who is terrified of STDs and hates the idea of bros who are not rubbing my toes after a long night of dancing being able to see my ovaries. Shouldn’t they have to earn that?

Am I a prude? Maybe. I certainly don’t feel like it.  It’s so hard to know anymore what the barometer of normal sexual behavior is. Furthermore, what my boundaries are within them, and whether or not I always feel comfortable communicating them to others, and myself.

I want to try everything, I want to be the kind of girl that could lay on an Aztec alter and be sacrificed to the gods, letting the masses feast on my innards. But I can’t do it. I can’t even get close to it without turning into a weird hybrid of Larry David and Mel Brooks, nervously oversharing, making observations about how expensive the backsplash tile of the bathroom looked. I occurs to me that I’m all talk, and as a super curious sex journalist, this is particularly painful.

Let me be clear. If you, unlike me, do not have a tiny Woody Allen spermatozoa that lives on your right shoulder whispering statistics about STDS into your ear; sex parties can be really fun! Imagine the fun of thousands of termite people munching your box like it’s made out of wet pine…Sadly, it’s just not for me. I wish I could do it, because in my mind I am this sexually fluid, open-minded sex goddess ready and willing to participate in any and all adventures. In reality, I’m like a leaf shaking in a hurricane whenever I have to leave my comfort zones and try this fucking fad. For now, I’m gonna stick to wintery Saturday nights with N.P.R (hot jazz Saturday nights!) A stack of old New Yorkers, a glass of full-bodied red and my sweater-clad elderly dog. I’m happy to say that I think the days of me pretending to be a deviant sex goddess are behind me…but I’ll probably still show up to your party.

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Hello everyone! The New Year is almost upon us and I know what you’re thinking; wasn’t it just yesterday that we were making fun of preppers making bunkers to hide out in when Y2K hit? It’s been 18 years since the turn of the millennium! But time marches on and every year we seem to get more sexual and more technological.  In order for you to keep up with the Usain Bolt levels of progress the collective perv mind is creating, I have compiled a list for you. You’re welcome.

Real Dolls

All over the world people are perfecting the art of making the ideal sex doll. Why? Because women with thoughts, opinions, and better things to do than inhale penii on demand are a pain in the tuchus. These dolls can be heated and custom-scented. They have limbs that can hold positions and faces so realistic you start to have an existential crisis when you think, “What exactly is it that makes me better than this silent, hairless, basking shark-mouthed, penis fly trap?” My on-demand dirty joke repertoire?…. My ability to get upgraded at hotels and for flights using sheer charisma?…..The sound of my beating heart? Who are we kidding? I don’t stand a chance.

Vibrating/natural/colored/ribbed Condoms

They took something as popular as Martin Shkreli at a Wu-Tang concert and gave it a little colorful top hat and cane so maybe, just maybe, all of us heathens will stop using the prayer method and actually protect ourselves. Hurray!

Yoni Eggs/Keegal Weights

Could your V use a workout? Is fat pussy a bad or good thing? Unclear.  This is more about health than anything else because it prevents problems like a prolapsed uterus, and other cornucopias of problems we women face throughout our lives dealing with our little shop of horror (#eatme.) Everyone I know has some sort of weird egg, weight, or ball to keep that shit tiiiite (pronounced like Chris Tucker in Friday). This practice dates back 5,000 years when Chinese courtesans would use them to harness their Yonis (sacred space) power. Basically, you get a set of three different-sized eggs made of different stone (rose, quartz and jade are the most popular) and you practice flexing your kegel muscles by holding in this egg… ALL DAY! I guess you Goldilocks them until you find the one that’s just right? Start with a vagine as roomy as a tagine, end with one tighter than Honey Boo Boo’s pageant dresses.

Clone a Dick

Do you find yourself only dating people with jobs like “DJ,” “famous movie star,” or “married,” and you have to wait an excruciatingly long period between your snuggle sessions?  Are you in a long distance relationship and want to keep a piece of your partner with you at all times? Then you need to clone a dick! For only $39.99* you, too, can have a wonderful night at home pouring plaster on your partner’s naughty bits, laughing while they painfully try to remove the excess plaster from their pubic hair. But wait there’s more! For only two easy payments of $19.95,*  you can have this physical representation of their disco stick, which you can then compare to the real dildo you have hidden in your closet. Sadly, more often than not, this will lead you to wish you had made better life choices. Even worse, you may then start to follow a bunch of fitspiration super-sloots so you can finally get black men to notice you instead of thinking you’re Casper the friendly ghost, due to the lack of junk in your trunk.

*plus shipping and handling

High-end Bluetooth Enabled Sex Toys

There are all kinds of ways to show off your Scrooge McDuck vaults of gold coins…There are the material things like wait-listed handbags, red-soled shoes, and/or you can go the bod mod route like getting a nose you could ski off of or fluffy bean bag chair lips OR you can class it up in much more discreet ways like… fancy sex toys! I’ve seen vibrators with handles of 24k gold with inlaid diamonds that connect to bluetooth and allow your partner to control the frequency when you’re apart.* They can also connect to apps so you can track your usage! Unclear if anyone would ever want to know the amount of time/energy they’ve invested in vibrators. Watch me be at a Malcolm Gladwell genius level.

3D Printed Sex Toys  

Not familiar with 3D printing? It’s like actual magic. You can load a cad design into a machine that makes your creation with combinations of tiny drops of plastic and Tinkerbell tears. So if you’re bored of the products you’re seeing in your local adult store, get custom, baby! You can create anything your perverted little mind can muster up. Better yet, you’ll have a reason to join a makerspace! Hanging out with San Fran-looking robot humans who “run,” and “don’t drink anymore because it gets in the way of my mountain biking,” AND do things like “make my own honey.”  I imagine them to be 27-year-old Silicon Valley execs with a penchant for Patagonia tearaway pants and multiple commas in their savings accounts. Can you imagine how much fun those schmucks are having making all their dickhead dreams become a reality?? I am the most jelly.

Vegan Lubricant

The meatless Bone is all the rage for 2018. Want to make your V like a Six Flags water park but don’t want to harm little fluffy animals in the process? Well goody for you, because the great gods of capitalism have produced about a million new options to keep that V as fresh as Will Smith in ’98.

Gender-neutral bedroom toys

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more politically correct, now all the toys we put in our butts can be gender whatever! Similar to the gender-neutral toys we give babies, just way, way, way more fun. Featuring non-offensive colors and non-specific uses.  It reminds me of a 2 for 1 buffet special at the Golden Corral since you AND your partner can use it. Nothing better than sex toys that remind you of Southern buffets.

Virtual Reality

After months of Jane Goodall-like research, I have bad news and good news; soon, almost every man you know will be nothing but a wasted husk, following pied piper digital mirages into the darkest depths of the virtual world, coming so much that puffs of sawdust replace their ejaculate. What’s the good news? Soon, women will be left alone to run the world, finally having the time can clean up the fucking mess testosterone has left us in. This is for people who think, boy do I like sex, but boy do I hate humans!

Well never fear, virtual reality is here! How does it work? By using dozens of camera lenses to record the same scene from hundreds of angles. Then the takes are Frankensteined together, and the viewer gets a 240-degree view of the room, and an instant feeling that the end of the world is near and human interaction is pretty much pointless. Not surprisingly, views of VR porn are up 275% this year. Pretty soon we’re all gonna turn into those Matrix larvae humans, generating electricity for our computer hosts, lost in a digital prison of our own creation. #deep

Pegging

The Ides of March has come, but this time Caesar’s getting it right in the tuchus, instead of the back.  If you’re not familiar with pegging, let me put it more simply. YOU GET TO SCHTUP YOUR DUDE IN THE BUTT. The only trick is, you need a trough of lube, a bottle of 18-yr Macallan, a big artificial meat stick + strap-on belt, and a piece of wood to shove in his mouth, (a la limb amputation in the Civil War…)

My guess is it’s not gonna be pretty, but either way, I would recommend taking pictures for blackmail in case he tries to break up with you.

Editor’s note: Have you ever tried therapy but it was max expensive, and yet somehow their shoes looked cheap and you were like “fuck it, I’ll just buy two bottles of red wine and get take out with a girlfriend; she’ll give me better advice anyway.” Weird…me too. Well, pegging could be a good alternative for you. What better way to get out some of that pent-up aggression you have from living in NYC too long? Being bounced around subway cars during your morning commute like a ping pong ball because you’re trying to hold onto the smallest possible square inch of the car so you don’t get AIDS of the hand. #alternativetherapy

Sex parties

I can’t get away from this fucking fad. Bored of your significant other and probably need to break up with them but too chicken-shit?  Then this is the place for you. No better way to destroy a perfectly good relationship than holding your partner’s hand while you watch them get their tonsils reorganized by a stranger! There are tons of super-sly, chic members-only NYC sex parties for those sneetches with stars upon thars. I’m going to be making a list for all of you but be aware, most of them make you send a photo and fill out questionnaires, so if your face looks like a Picasso and acid, don’t even bother.

BDSM

E.L. James, the woman who wrote 50 Shades of Gray, is the world’s top-grossing author right now. Bringing in a whopping 95 million dollars this year, it’s clear that kink is SO much more popular than you think! It makes me so, so happy to think that women who look like Roseanne are dreaming of a day when handsome Wall Street types take off their belts and ties, using them to be strung up like a Christmas honey ham. This has been the trend for years and will continue to be popular well into the future because Americans are so sexually repressed by shame and puritanical upbringings that to enjoy sex, we literally need someone to beat it out of us. #sad

Now I know what you may be thinking, Zoe, I’m a nice person. I love quiet, sensual, normal sex. I don’t need any of these new-fangled gadgets and gizmos aplenty. Nor do I want whoozit’s and what’s it’s galore. I don’t want me OR my partner to turn into a Matrix blob of human-wearing goggles that allow us to virtually cheat on one another.

Well, too bad Pollyanna. Perhaps back in the days when we all lived in a little house on the prairie, where our sole means of excitement was making maple candy and embroidering…But unfortunately for you, the internet and technology have reduced our once Krang-like brains into high-functioning Tapioca, and most people have the same size attention span as Danny Devito; so unless you want your partner to start secretly seeing a dominatrix so they can finally get their rocks off after your slow, meaningful snoozefest, this is your only option. And so it goes….and good luck!

 

Zoe poses at the Real Doll booth at the 2017 New Jersey Exxotica Expo

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Bah Hambug

Ah Christmas, that sacred time when Christ Beliebers return home so they can spend quality time with the ones they love; and then instantly remember why they moved so far away from them in the first place. (Not me, mom, obviously every second with my family is a gift) I’m aware that what I’m about to write will not be popular, but here goes: I Ioathe Christmas.              I know what you may be thinking: Zoe you horrible Grinch, take your Bah Humbugs and shove them up your Menorah. I love Christmas!  It’s a beautiful Holy night where a blue eyed Wonder bread colored baby was born in the Middle East (yeah right) to a Virgin, (yeah right) so I have to buy sweater sets and foot hot tubs for everyone in my family. Life is scary and confusing and not at all what I thought it would be, and this is the one time that feels safe and controlled where I can remember my childhood through rose colored glasses. What exactly is your problem anyway?

     So off the bat, Jesus was born sometime in spring and he wasn’t white, so the whole holiday is mute, But the main reason I look like grumpy cat during this time is because if you’re broke, heartbroken, don’t believe in Christianity, cannot be with your family or simply don’t have any; Christmas is simply the most terrible time of the year. On top of that, we all have to tolerate the insipid repetitive songs, the endless commercials, the weird fat hairy pedofile Santas lurking behind every corner, and crowds of moon faced tourists full of forced holiday cheer. It feels like I’m in a continuous Groundhog Day loop and like Bill Murray, I’m ready to do about anything to make it stop, including dropping a toaster in my bathtub.

“But Zoe, you have Chaunkkah! Isn't that fun? Instead of one night of presents don’t you get 8 crazy nights?” says my drunk, carroll-lovin, tree-killin, eggnog-snorting Christian friends.

NO. No it’s not, it is never fun and here’s why: Chanukah is a holiday Jews made up to try to compete with Christmas and you NEVER get good presents. Yes we have 8 boring nights but our parents usually give cruel jokes instead of presents, like a rock of Pyrite (thanks dad) or a half eaten sack of stale chocolate coins (thanks mom). Do you know how mean it is to give a small Jew child a sack of pretend money that doesn’t even taste good?! Or the most dreaded gift of all, a tree planted in your honor in Israel. I used to imagine this genius Jew who made up this fake company compiling all of what could have been our gift money into some tree you could never prove was plated in Israel. Whoever you are, Mordichai the Madoff of trees, Mazel Tov. I don’t like you, but I respect your hustle.   

When I was little, all of this made me very upset. I wondered why my God hated me, and only me and wanted me to be so unhappy. But now as the medium grown-up that I am, I wonder, how did this time period get lumped up with presents? How have we all bought into this hooey with such ferocity, so much so that my childhood was permeated with a feeling of missing out and misery because I wasn’t waking up to a pile of soon to be garbage under a dead tree? It’s Looney Tunes.

“Hold on, what about that fun spinny top thing you play? You know when you get to win money and I know you Jews like that,” your happy golden retriever colored, LL Bean catalog lookin’ Christmas card making friends may say. Listen Lassie, Dreidel makes no sense and is no fun. Here are the rules: Each “player” puts fake gold coins in a circle, and then you spin a stupid weird shaped Hebrew covered toy, and then one of four things happens, 1. Nothing 2. You lose everything. 3. You get one coin. 4. You get all the coins.

I’m pretty sure dreidel was created to train young Jews to be investment bankers. It’s bullshit. It’s weird. Chanukah sucks and that’s the end of it.

But for the rest of you out there who still may think Christmas is about the birth of Christ I have sad news (or at least a reminder because you must know this); this entire holiday has been created by corporations and mother Capitalism to make you feel like a pile of poo so large you could be a part of the set on Jurassic Park. All so you can buy heaps of sweatshop made crap, probably at the hands of beautiful children  that ultimately ends up in the garbage. It’s all just a proxy instead of doing the hard work of finding ways of non-commercial connection with the ones you love. Because nothing can fill up the landfill that’s inside our hearts.

The only thing a family needs is, drum roll please: to spend time together and love each other….despite knowing each other so well. The presents are just another way for us to deflect the deep unresolved issues of jealousy and blame that are pointed like little invisible passive aggressive atomic missiles family members have pointed at one another.

We’ve been tricked into thinking that a tree carcass full of shiny squares will diffuse all our radioactive family issues. Mommy and daddy don’t love each other anymore and mommy has an online shopping addiction because daddy has been sleeping with your male social studies teacher and your brother is addicted to the Oxy’s that he’s been stealing out Grandma's medicine cabinet, but here’s a tickle me Elmo, (shit this dates me, what’s the new present, like a Play Station 14?) that oughta fix it.

The only way I have found to deal with Christmas is to take the time as a way to step up my charity game. Helping others during the holidays, is in my humble opinion, the best way to stop yourself from drinking so much that you could tell the woeful tales of the repercussions at an AA meeting and even the most fucked-up carnie with two caramel apple colored Chiclet teeth would shake his head out of respect for how far you’ve fallen from Eden.

Here’s the good news! You don’t need anything this Holiday season to be happy. Even if you only have forty-seven shekels in your bank account. If you’re reading this, you have access to internet, and probably have clean water, a warm bed to sleep in and yummy things to fill up your belly. Even if your family makes Charles Manson's cult look like a healthy working family system, at least you have a family! Even if your body has changed so much people sometimes confuse you for a vat of Crisco and then try to rub you on pans so things don’t stick, at least you’re eating well! Even if you’ve broken every single New Years resolution you’ve ever had; at least you still  believe that you can change! More importantly, if you can take big breaths of air, dance and most importantly laugh, that my virtual friend, is enough. As for me, I will be spending Christmas with friends, taking advantage of the main benefit of Christmas, which is watching movies in empty theatres while eating Lo Mein, counting down the hours until for whom jingle bell tolls, is over.... as is tradition.

Charities:

  1. The Bowery Mission

  2. MercyForAnimals.org

  3. PicturetheHomeless.org

  4. Glasswing.org

  5. Kiva.org

  6. DirectRelief.org

 

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It’s time for the Holidays. The special time of year where we sit down to celebrate gluttony, family dysfunction, consumerism AND the very best time to pry secrets out of your drunk family!

For instance three holidays seasons ago, I asked my mother, who I remember distinctly was holding a mug of Chardonnay with an ice cube in it, why she had decided to have another child after having two basically  sufficient ones 15 years before…she laughed, telling me something along the lines of, “Oh honey, you weren’t expected! I was 40 with one ovary! But the good news is that we kept you, and you ended up being the best mistake I ever made.” This, as you can imagine, left me feeling extra medium.

This is also the time when most of us return home, back to the scene of our early sexual crimes, strolling through the bone-ridden graveyard of our first romantic loves. Due to my recent rewatching of Bridget Jones’ Diary, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is about returning home for the holidays that makes most of us crawl back inside the primordial, amniotic sack of insecurity, self-doubt, and angst that plagued us throughout our teenage years. I’m positive that it’s these regurgitated feelings that cause us to seek out sexual validation with peoples whose private parts you normally wouldn’t touch now, even if they were covered in money.

The catalyst to all these holiday hijinks usually begins with Dionysus levels of wine. Alcohol is usually the cause and solution to all of our problems and has this uncanny ability to contort reality and fill your usually rational brain with idealized memories of when you were younger, smarter, thinner and perkier. It helps you romanticize your past, fondly painting a portrait of a time where your future was limitless. A time that seemed to have unlimited doors open, mostly to the back seat of whatever hot-guy car was in fashion at the time (Wrangler, Saab convertible, Bronco 2, perhaps a vintage LandRover), where a boy that looked hopefully looked like Jared Leto would be waiting to give you a gynecological exam with about as much skill as a Cro Magnon Man trying to use an iPhone X.

Ultimately, we all know the point of seeing people from your past is to have a Romy and Michelle moment where you strut in, in a lame dress made out material that could have been used on the Hubble telescope and blow everyone away with your next level success.

But the moment you open Pandora’s Box of your hook-up past, you lose all the street cred you’ve been building with your perfect, Brita’d, social media life.  Isn’t the whole point of crafting such an elegant version of yourself online that all your exes can see how far above them you are now? Well, that won’t work if you’re acting like a world hot dog eating champion at the penis buffet of your past.

Remember kids, Dr. Nightingale’s golden rule, always FUCK UP. If you’re going to share your sacred Yoni with another human, fuck right on up. Jefferson that shit, finally get your piece of the pie. Looking back usually does nothing more than leave you a pillar of salt and is the ultimate expression of basicness. Everyone knows only basic bitches need to recycle semen.

Here are my proven, kid tested, mother approved methods of avoiding hooking up with an ex over the Holidays:

  • Let the hair on your legs grow out so far you look like an extra from planet of the apes

  • If you’re a cheap degenerate gambler like me, no better way to avoid hooking up with a Monet-like ex than betting someone 50 bucks that you won’t. Put yo money where your mouth should not be.

  • Wear your most superfund worthy underpants. Underpants that could have been used as an example of the cleaning power of dawn dish soap commercials after the Exxon Valdez spilled.

  • Gain so much weight the whole year before Thanksgiving that people confuse you with an emotional support pig. (Lipstick won’t help you)

  • Roofie yourself, by putting a small amount of Rohypnol in your glass of wine right after you finish the pie course. Tuck yourself in and let less wise people make all the mistakes and get all the herpes. NOT YOU! You’re asleep.

  • Don’t be boring. Most of the stupid things I do come out of drinking + boredom. Try a 1000 piece abstract art grayscale puzzle with your family members who have visible cataracts.

  • Buy some yarn and those large pick up sticks and watch youtube tutorials of obnoxious twenty-somethings, with Herbal Essence commercial-worthy hair, with excessive orthodontia, and trick yourself into thinking you too could create a cable knit sweater instead of going out and getting into trouble. Just be aware what you will create will look a lot like something your dog vomits up when she gets into the trash

  • Buy a new vibrator, a really expensive one with Bluetooth technology so advanced aliens from Magrathea can connect to it from space. A vibrator with so many settings you need a degree from MIT to work it. A vibrator that requires so much energy that you’ll have to connect it to a nuclear reactor in order to power it. As soon as dinner ends get in bed, and go to town on your v like you’re a road worker who has to jackhammer through cement.

  • Remember that you didn’t cum then, and you’re not going to cum now. I mean that. I used to hook up with my ex from high school almost every year for five years after we broke up during the holidays and literally every single time we would both lay in the bed staring at the ceiling repeatedly muttering to the other that this is not representative of the sexual gods we had become since separating. Except for one measly time where he actually made me cum and he did like a Super Bowl Sunday touchdown dance and then would send me spontaneous messages about it for the next ten years. Ugh.

  • This is a crazy one. Just say no….to the ho. Try to have some self-control for once. Not like the kind of self control when you walk past the donut factory in Chelsea and you’re like..I have two options, I could A) motorboat the entire display case, eating so many donuts that Oompa Loompas will magically appear singing a sarcastic lymeric like, “what do you get when you have no control? Body resembling a Krispee Kreme troll?” Eventually rolling your inflated body home in shame… OR option B) I could just not eat them and keep walking…and I know what you’re thinking….There is literally only one viable option here. Because you will ALWAYS eat the donuts and get rolled home by Oompas, so nevermind you pathetic lard-filled donut graveyard…you’re getting fucked….Just wear a condom at least.

  • Have your mouth wired shut temporarily by your dentist

  • Chastity belt! Do they have this on amazon prime? Cuz if not, that’s a great business idea. LOCK THAT SHIT UP. This is probably the only one of my suggestions that would work

  • Get a makeup artist to airbrush or paint weird semi-permanent (henna moment!) sores and marks on your v so you’ll be too embarrassed for anyone to see it. I’d love to see some Youtube vlogger do a DIY tutorial about that!

  • Shave all your pubic hair without shaving cream with an old rusty Bic razor you find in the corner of your gym. If your genitals are covered in razor burn so bad it looks like you have a disease from the 15th century, I doubt you’re gonna show them to anyone.

If you’re single and you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself:  Listen Zoe, I just need to feel the weight of another person on top of me so I can feel anything other than the crushing weight of the world’s collective loneliness. What does it matter if I hook up with a ghost from my past?

Just trust me, even if you’ve been jerking off so much it looks like you’ve been lifting weights on the pads of your fingers. Even if the last time you went on a date Obama had hope…it’s not an excuse to drown your sorrows in the semen of guys who were the Patient Zero for all your fucked up neuroses about love, sex, and relationships in the first place. So stay strong young Jedi, may the force be with you.

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Babies, Marriage and Couples Cranium

My name is Zoe Nightingale, and I was born into a world of shoulder pads and stirrup pants. I am a genuine product of the 80s. People keep calling me a “millennial,” but all I know is that I didn’t have a cell phone at 8 years old. My apple computer looked like Mars landing equipment and I grew up loving glow worms, Billy Idol and jewel-bellied Troll dolls. If that makes me part of the most useless generation of humans ever created, so be it.

I have always been different. I’ve always been the fly in my family’s ointment. While they love me unconditionally, they’ve never really understood what the deviled egg I was wearing, saying, or doing. My resistance to getting a “real job”. My failure to get a Masters. My insistence on spending my life traveling like dandelion fluff in the wind. My inability to save or plan for the future. While they have always supported me they have also relentlessly questioned my motives and insisted I have some sort of master plan. Whenever I would tell them about my newest business venture or travel plans, they rolled their eyes and quietly muttered old yiddish expressions under their breath.

Suffice it to say I’ve been chasing giggles, slaughtering dance floors, and acting like a wet gremlin at 1AM for the last 30 years.  I’ve been Run, Lola Running from responsibility. Playing a global game of hide and go seek with pain. I have never liked pain. Instead of learning healthy ways to sit and hold space for it, I douse it in alcohol, smoke things to make it fuzzy, or stuff it down with different combinations of gluten and sugar (YUM!). But there comes a point where all the pain finally finds you. When all of the things you’ve been running from your entire life come to a head and force you to face your amorphous fear of change. It’s taken almost everything I have to quell the tiny beast that roars inside and behave like some semblance of an adult.

Now, I’m stuck, living in a limbo like oasis of my thirties. I know my “youth” is over, but I’m still going to need Paul Revere himself to gallop over with a paper that says “soon thy brunches shall come with highchairs” in order to believe it. The most practical, mother approved, and predictable next step would be to finally commit to a romantic life-long adult relationship. Yet as I watch those around me voluntarily march down the road most travelled my feelings towards marriage and procreation have not changed; I avoid them like midtown Manhattan during Christmas. I know that there are many wonderfully happy couples who have found ways to use marriage to grow, learn, and get that fancy juicer they’ve always wanted. I, however, would rather have sex with a chainsaw. To put it more kindly, “the institution” just simply isn’t my brew of matcha. Understand that I have had great love in my life, I just never understood why I had to put shackles around it.

I know I run the risk of actually becoming a discount bin version of Sarah Jessica Parker, wistfully waxing poetic about the wonders of being a single gal in New York City. Except I’m aware that she only made it look cool because she had $40,000 in stilettos and a sexy rent-controlled brownstone.

I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. I still live in Williamsburg with roommates, in a hamster cage with less closet space than John Malkovich’s head. Another thing that separates me from the pretend world of sassy single-hood is that instead of choosing which designer frock I want to wear, my closet is mostly full of clothes that I refer to lovingly as “the way we were” or “yeah right” for short.  This problem is compounded by my Jewey Lewis and The News mentality of never throwing anything out that doesn’t have mice actively living inside it. Also, there’s my Ozymandias-like insistence that one day I’ll have a Bridget Jones moment, throw all my sins in a garbage bin and obsessively go to SoulCycle classes (whatever the hell that is) and finally fit into my club gear from ‘09. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that unless I actually amputate a leg or ALL of my ribs magically disappear, Sarah Jessica Parker I will never be. So where does the last 10 years in New York leave me?

No savings, no investments, no property…no foundational anything. Is getting married the only way for me to actually grow up and create an infrastructure to support a meaningful life for my elder years? Is that the only way that people start paying their taxes on time and get credit cards with miles (my dream!)?

In classic short con, NYC thinking, I’ve spent my life building my community through collecting beautiful humans; cultivating what I thought would be life-long friendships with charismatic hooligans who I poured all of my love and energy into. But one by one they are vanishing like the Truffula Trees, leaving me, the sad little Lorax standing on the last stump wondering when everyone started paying mortgages instead of throwing 85 percent of their salary into a Hasidic black hole.

My best friend had a baby. She also made me a godmother?!! Hell hath frozen right over. What on earth I could possibly tell a child born during President Trump’s reign of terror? I can’t begin to imagine.  What is the point of building a foundation when I feel like Chicken Little preaching to the wind that the world as we know it is ending. All I want to do is get drunk and dance to Abba records alone in my underwear, in the apartment I can’t afford.

But it’s time to face my baseless fears of receiving paperless post invites to things like “Couples Cranium Night!” Cue drinking organic Pinot Grigio with couples in matching sweaters, the men’s genitals reduced to a G.I Joe mound, the women’s brains atrophied to the size of Barbies. Everyone pretending that this is what fun feels like. Meanwhile, the cool young people of tomorrow snort blow off midget trapeze artist’s dicks in an underground Bed Stuy carnival. To be fair, my NYC friends who are married, and have had kids are usually the first in line to snort misc. powder off of any surface, but my fear isn’t logical, it’s emotional and feels very real.

I realize I’m fucked either way. For some bizarre reason I have a deep jew-y genetic need to make my mother happy and she keeps bugging me to suck it up, join the parade, and say yes to the dress. She literally says, “just do it for me!”. I realize that even now, there’s still a lot I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is this. If I do go down, I’m going down in a peacock-colored Mardi Gras dress designed by a drag queen. But I think at this point my mom will take what she can get. Stay tuned.

 

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THE RESTAURANTS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR DATE NIGHT

In our first installment of Zoe Recommends, our resident Sex+Love guru, Zoe Nightingale breaks down the best places for regular folks to take their dates when a meal is required. Note-taking encouraged, reservations required. 

Per Se

Per Se has a nine-course tasting menu of  sensual and decadent food. It is the perfect place if you’re dating a Patrick Bateman-Wall Street-finance-sociopath with an unlimited Amex and suits that cost more than your rent. It’s so expensive that whoever doesn’t pay for the meal will have to get down on their knees and take one for the team. Zoe recommends bringing French aristocrats with a “de” connecting their 3  names, Old Money Americans that used to own things like “The railroads” or “The banks”, men who are draped in gold and say things like “buy the whole island, what do I care,”  Swiss bankers and Canadians who were sent to boarding school in England.

Blue Hill

Blue Hill is so farm to table where you can taste the white privilege. Beautiful, simple food, heavily focused on the vegetables they grow in their upstate garden. So fresh at times you feel guilty for stealing food right out of Peter Cottontail’s mouth. Requires the GDP of Angola to pay the bill. This place is good if you’re on your fourth date and you still haven’t given it up and the guy is like a Pavlovian dog waiting with baited breath just to smell your clavicle.

Parma

Gorgeous, candle-lit white brick-walled masterpiece full of fresh pink roses and peonies – it’s exactly the kind of place you wanted to believe you’d be eating dinner at when you moved to NYC. (Instead of the dive pizza place where the owners have faces that look like a cat’s asshole.) This is for romance, and nothing more. Perfect when you’re dating passionate fiery creatures who say things like “your eyes in the moonlight, they are so beautiful.” Zoe recommends bringing tall, dark and handsome Europeans. If you’re in the mood to drink explosively delicious red wine and then spontaneously erupt into the Argentine Tango, this is the place for you.

Mas Farmhouse

Again, only advisable if you’ve recently found a pot of gold or stolen the wallet of your latest trick. Fancy, fancy, fancy, but goddamn is it delicious. This is a place for celebration and Tantric eye gazing over flickering light. This is for classy quieter types. As in, anyone whose ancestors lived on Viking ships eating smoked fish,  own “mid-century modern” wood furniture, have elevators open directly into their apartments, take Barre class and bring those little socks that look like they were stolen from a plane but were actually $18, or professors who have tenure at Columbia and have leather patches on their elbows.

Sunday in Brooklyn

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere where everyone is silently thinking to themselves, “do you have any idea who I think I am?” People so goddamn cool their clothing only comes in asymmetrical draped layers and oddly shaped hats. People who are such a caricature of hipsters that you think to yourself the end of the world is near because this couldn’t possibly be what the future generation looks like. Haircuts that look like Freddie Kruger put a bowl over their head and went to town? Then this is the place for you! $15 cocktails with things like bacon and fennel foam in them. The food is so good, and so weird, and so experimental it feels like a small mariachi band is playing in your mouth. I recommend this place ONLY for people who’ve moved to Brooklyn from Portland, who quote David Foster Wallace and still listen to They Might be Giants and Elliot Smith.

La Esquina Downstairs

Have you ever wanted to be so close to models that you can see the faint outlines of Casper The Friendly Ghost around their nostrils? Have you ever wanted to eat a $21 guacamole? Do you love standing on tables and showing off how much money you have? Hurray! This place is perfect. I recommend bringing models, wannabe actresses, webcam girls, old guys with gold watches, aging heiresses who only wear heels that could gouge out an eye, and anyone LGBTQ who says “fierce” too much

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Listen. It’s getting dark after lunch. There is no time. This is not a drill. Stopping, dropping, and rolling, will not help you. Winter has come, and the holidays are approaching. You need someone to wear matching reindeer onesies with so that your mother doesn’t think you’re going to die alone in an old shoe. Here are some patented ways to turn a first date into a hibernation buddy who can be your source of heat for the winter… 

 

Escape the Room

Do you ever think when you watch survivor that you too could solve puzzles? ‘How easy,’ you think it must be, as you sit naked on a bean bag chair, judging everyone and eating Cheetos that have fallen into your belly button. Well, now you can see how well you and your date would do if Armageddon happened tomorrow and you’d have to channel your inner Bruce Willis and solve actual problems. This is a brilliant way to see who really is the more intelligent of the two – which can be helpful when trying to find a significant other.  It’s loads of fun and located conveniently in the asshole of NYC, Midtown!

Aladdin Broadway

Now I know what you’re thinking: this is a Disney movie turned into a musical…lame. WRONG. If you’re a ‘millennial’ (which I think means that you base all of your romantic knowledge on Princess Bride and love dunkaroos…?) you will invariably know all the words to this and have the very best time singing along to one of Broadway’s most fun (although slightly racist) spectacles. Then when you go home and have sex, each of you can imagine you’re sleeping with Jasmine, Aladdin or for the more adventurous – Apu and Genie!

The Magician at the Nomad

The Nomad hotel is one of the last sexy boutique hotels in Chelsea. This perfectly sculpted interior has an actual indoor library (with beauty and the beast style ladders!) and some of the best drinks in the city. If you really think that your date has the possibility of making you vanquish your late night activities in favor of canoeing in central park or walking hand in hand through farmers markets arguing about which stall has the freshest goat cheese…then take them here. Tickets are IMPOSSIBLE to get and you have to book months in advance. Take them for dinner here and expect cupids arrow to lodge itself right between their ribs so deep that tiny red heart bubbles start pouring out of their mouth (sort of like romantic rabies!)

Storm King

Gonna need to rent a car or steal a minivan from a Hasid but this is the ULTIMATE date location. Located in gorgeous Hudson Valley, if you’re trying to really pull out all the stops and find someone to snuggle with all winter this is the place to go to trick them into thinking all your idiosyncrasies are cute instead of really annoying which is what they are. It is full of the kind of art that didn’t need to get made, but because it’s the size of a Goodyear blimp, its sheer scale makes it worthy of admiration. SO! Get a blanket, go buy some truffle cheese and fig paste and get three bottles of wine and get busy. This is also a supremely CHEAP date. So for all you cheap bastards out there trying to lasso up a woman who isn’t too much like OR unlike your mother, get out your marriage sack, draw up your prenup, and get on ova to Storm King.

The Water Table

This a place for people who say things like “I summer in Cape Cod” and love pretending oysters are an aphrodisiac instead of what they are which is expensive glorified snot balls and wearing shorts with endangered water mammals on it. Bonus points if you bring a coozie for your beer and crokies for your Oakleys.


Jane’s Carousel

You can’t get more romantic. Every little girl’s dream; a perfectly restored fantasy carousel that brings out the childish whimsy in even the bitterest rapidly aging New Yorkers. Also on the cheaper side. So get out your panic baskets, get a bottle of red wine and a blanket and get ready for some 7th grade make-out sessions.

In of Itself Broadway

One of the most beautifully mind-warping explorations of magic this little Hermione wannabe has ever seen. Right in the middle of Union Square, in the old Fuerza Bruta building, this wonderful night of magic and storytelling is not to be missed. Perfect for a Tinder date or coffee shop email exchange because you don’t even need to know their name or like their personality to enjoy this magical romp in the forest.