Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally acknowledged as the kickoff for a summer of beach trips, backyard beers and relentless boob sweat.
MDW is also my birthday weekend, which makes my already skewed, drunken decision-making and self-care that much poorer.
This year was no different. Day drinking? Check. A diet of grilled food and half-melted candy? Check. Waking up in an outer borough apartment I've never previously visited with half an old sandwich in my purse? Check.
Come the Tuesday following MDW 2016, I feel like someone filled a Panera sourdough bread bowl with whisky, marijuana and regret and then left it in the sun to think about what it's done/thoroughly curdle.
Is it possible to jump back into the schedule of a responsible adult after a summer weekend of unadulterated fuckery?
I needed to be cleansed. For the next week(ish), I plan to document my seamless transformation into a well-rounded, healthy, sober human being who loves home cooking and early mornings.
Degenerates can have it all, too.
Tuesday, May 31: Welcome To A New Me, Assholes
7 am: I wake up, expecting to feel rested and renewed from seven hours of sleep, except I live in New York City without an air conditioner. Forecasts say to expect warm, sunny days all week. I stand naked in my room and accept nature's punishment for my miscreant behavior over the weekend.
7:05 am: I turn on the shower. I plan to wash my hair today because I haven't in a week. I'm starting to look like Johnny Depp — I'm talking Captain Jack Sparrow Johnny Depp, not "Crybaby” Johnny Depp — and it's not a look I can pull off.
Before getting clean, I sit on the sink and drink cold coffee I stuck in the fridge the night before in an admirable act of #MealPrep and #SelfLove. It's just OK.
7:30 am: After my shower, I silently congratulate myself for not only washing my hair, but also shaving my legs. Unbridled feminine power is radiating from my calves, which are a tiny bit slashed, but whatever. Nobody's perfect.
I spray rose water (a hydrosol) with frankincense from Enfleurage on my face, just as my bestie advised. Her braces once got stuck to my favorite sweater in front of our eighth grade class, but now she's a professional makeup artist, licensed aesthetician and semi-finalist on season 10 of Syfy's “Face Off." If she told me it would make me eternally beautiful, I would fill my pores to the brim with goose poop and paint thinner.
I pull my hair back because heat-free styling feels like a responsible move and slather SPF with zinc oxide on my sweet, smooth faccia to protect it from the sun that seeks to destroy its ageless glamour.
8:15 am: I walk to the nearest subway stop. Sweet Lord. It's already so hot. Too many tacos from the night before haunt my bowels.
9 am: I arrive at work and heat up a packet of organic (ooooooooh!!!) instant oatmeal. I stir in peanut butter and raspberries. I start to feel superior to anyone who ate a bagel this morning. Don't they care about their bodies? I do. I would NEVER consider putting that kind of crap in my flesh temple.
I am a new woman brimming with self-respect. I would rather drown my fairly unblemished, 27-year-old body in the shit pipe from "The Shawshank Redemption" than load it full of simple carbs and trans fats. I am better than every human/animal/deity, nutritionally speaking.
10:30 am: I begin to draft a breakup email to my therapist of nearly three years. This feels counterproductive to my efforts to become the healthiest all-around Taylor, but I have no choice. My employer recently changed insurance carriers and my doctor only accepts one type.
I consider living therapy-free. I'd have an extra 40 minutes of time every week, and I wouldn't have to hike to the Upper East Side for appointments. This feels, after nine years of treatment, like a welcome break I may finally be ready to handle.
Seconds pass. I begin Googling therapists who accept my new insurance, swiftly coming to terms with the fact a therapy-free life is a dystopian wasteland for me and everyone I love.
I'd probably end up dating a high school senior, getting really into headbands as a form of self-expression, setting small fires to feel alive, counting calories from gum I chewed as legitimate units of energy and becoming one with my bed.
12 pm: I eat lunch, slapping sliced avocado and a mid-sized tupperware's worth of homemade salsa on some rice cakes. It's all right, but it makes me kind of thirsty. I realize I've only had two glasses of water so far today.
Proper hydration is something health nuts (see: Gwenyth Paltrow or the Moon Juice lady) take very seriously, probably. I imagine one day being that sort of wispy, graceful 40-year-old woman whose skin glows and whose arms look just like the small sticks kids shove in the sides of a snowman. Totally achievable.
5 pm: I head to the gym, fueled by a renewed sense of purpose and the shame that plagues one after a weekend of questionable choices. I run. I squat. I try to toss my hair behind my shoulders and giggle carelessly atop the treadmill, but my hair is very short and I cannot breathe deeply enough to laugh because exercise is hard.
6 pm: Every time I wash my hands, I put on Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter because I care about moisturizing now. It smells like dessert. It makes my knuckles feel ridiculously smooth. My knuckles are essentially a strapping young camel who's just had his humps shaved for a big date, or something.
7 pm: I head to Lowe's to buy an AC unit for my apartment, every inch of which is charmingly sunbathed in the winter and awash with inescapable hellfire in the summer. I find a unit that looks like every other unit and wait for my roommate, who's held up at her nannying job, to come help me get this fat bitch home.
I stand in the checkout area next to my big girl purchase, silently congratulating those lucky enough to witness me spending $350 on something other than alcohol and fancy potatoes.
7:30 pm: My roommate, Charlotte, arrives at Lowe's. We haul the unit into a cab and, once we make it uptown to our building, haphazardly drag it up five flights of stairs to our apartment.
The whole endeavor leaves me feeling proud and physically destroyed. We soon discover special screws on our window grate that won't allow us to install the air conditioner until a contractor visits. So, fuck it, I guess.
8 pm: I eat a veggie burger patty and a bowl of sautéed kale for dinner. So many nutrients! I want to die, kind of.
9:15 pm: Charlotte and I use the AC unit as a foot rest/coffee table, and we begin a series of conversations so specific to our generation I wonder, for a moment, whether it would sound like code to my grandfather (or any other 84-year-old because my grandfather is deaf).
I also wonder whether any of the dumb shit we say is proof Millennials are mankind's salvation or its final damnation. I decide we're probably the latter, but bury that notion deep in an effort to stay positive and avoid stress-eating the box of chocolate almonds Charlotte has opened on the couch.
9:25 pm: My ex-boyfriend arrives to pick up the stuff he left at my apartment before we broke up. I look like a sweatbeast and my leg is bleeding a little, for some reason. I help him carry his boxes downstairs.
We chat. It's all very mature. Very Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift, if Calvin Harris was a beautiful, half-asian man who insisted on bringing his goddamn bike everywhere and Taylor Swift was 5'10", willowy and born in 1989 (this is an outright brag about how much I have in common with Taylor Swift).
We are evolved humans capable of loving and losing without panic. My leg bleeds the whole time, but he doesn't say anything.
12 am: I wash my face, spray it with rose water, brush my teeth, set my alarm and give myself a big ol' pat on the back for a day of activity, nutritious eating, mature interactions, adult purchases and sobriety. I will clearly be able to pick up the slack from this weekend without breaking a sweat.
Wednesday, June 1: 24 Hours Might As Well Be A Million Years
9 am: POTATO CHIPS FOR BREAKFAST? COME ON, YOU WEAK, SWEATY BITCH. You know what? It's fine. I'm fine. Part of self-improvement is acknowledging moments of weakness and not allowing dichotomous thinking to derail progress. I'M STILL IN THE GAME.
1 pm: I steadily hydrate throughout the day. I eat tofu salad with brown rice for lunch. I am sharp, alert and full of energy.
6:30 pm: My improv team, Champagne Empire, rehearses a few blocks from my office. After a few particularly physical scenes, I wonder whether I should have worn a short sundress on a show night, regardless of the fact that I remembered to put on bike shorts underneath.
9 pm: I arrive at the theater an hour before my show. What should I have for dinner? A gin and tonic with friends? Sure, sounds great!
9:01 pm: SHIT, WAIT.
10 pm: Champagne Empire's weekly show begins. Without being prompted by another teammate, I decide to play a woman whose legs were burned off by a chocolate fountain.
I drag my body around the stage by my arms for 25 minutes, realizing it's my fault for not only wearing a dress to this show, but choosing to play a flailing, horizontal character for no reason whatsoever.
11 pm: All is not lost. There is one hour to save my day. I'm not going to stress out about perfection. I'm going to take each minute as it comes and allow my healthy choices to cleanse every last cell in my body until I have achieved a superior status of existence. What's that? My friends are having a few beers? SURE I'll join!
11:01 pm: WAIT, SHIT. UGH.
Thursday, June 2: You're Not Better Than Me
8 am: I am beginning work with an easy day ahead of me. I have no rehearsals, no shows and no air conditioners to drag up and down the west side of the city. All of my strength and focus can be harnessed to achieve the clean lifestyle that's escaped me my entire life/most of this week.
8:10 am: Organic oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. I smile as I eat it, hoping the physical pageantry will influence inner happiness. It doesn't because oatmeal is just hot, mushy plant matter.
Fruit is delicious and beautiful, but it's not magic. Trans fats? Those are magic.
Over the past few decades, the food industry in this country has found a way to deliver us orgasmically delicious treats made from ingredients that barely qualify as edible.
Beyond simply creating these treats, they found a way to addict the American people to them like cigarettes, if cigarettes didn't taste like dry dog shit and, instead, tasted like rich chocolate with a faint plastic aftertaste.
God bless America. I would dismember a live stranger with my bare hands for a Drake's Cake.
4:00 pm: I head to the gym, telling myself I just have to get through 40 minutes before I can leave and do what I actually want to do, which is anything else in the whole wide world. While pretending to try, I receive an email telling me I've been charged for a month-long Tidal subscription.
I obviously forgot to cancel it when the free trial ended, and now I'm stuck paying for it. Even in my evolved, nutritious, semi-sober state, small things are falling through the cracks and I'm starting to wonder whether I was better off waking up with my jeans on and my contacts suctioned to my eyeballs in my fully lit bedroom at 4 am most days.
6:30 pm: For the first time, I visit Dumbo. It's the neighborhood in Brooklyn where Dan Humphrey and his floppy-haired, Gin Blossoms-y dad lived on "Gossip Girl," despite being depicted as too poor to live in any waterfront property.
I meet a friend to hear some live salsa music and watch babies dance (read: run in circles, mostly). Here, sitting outside among a bunch of Brooklyn babies with cooler haircuts than me and their trendy parents who likely live in lofts nearby, a calm washes over me and I have the first substantial epiphany of my rebirth...
Friday, June 3: Fuck This Stupid Lifestyle Change
I don't need to be better at living. I'm already amazing at living.
I have a relatively useful degree from a state school I begrudgingly attended following a substantial nervous breakdown at art school.
I have a job I enjoy and show up to every day in a semi-punctual, enthusiastic manner.
I have never missed a rent payment on an apartment I'm hesitant to show to gentleman callers because, fine, it's like walking into an immersive trailer for "Grey Gardens."
I have two plants in my room that, despite being half dead, are also half thriving.
I recently joined, and then promptly deleted, two separate dating apps that made me feel like a judgmental elitist/future murder victim.
I showered this morning.
I have a strong, positive relationship with my family, despite my mother's evident shock at the fact I work full time in an industry that validates my degree rather than living in a youth hostel somewhere, passing my time doing whippets and watching old episodes of "Family Matters."
I have never physically tortured or killed an animal or human, which I guess is a thing most of us haven't done, but that probably shouldn't discredit my achievement.
Self-improvement must be somewhat important, seeing as Americans spend billions of dollars each year trying to crack it, but perhaps, for the majority of us, it's bullshit.
The version of adulthood I hoped to make mine so many times is a fantasy that, once I actually tried to attain it, took me less than three days to abandon for something I fundamentally understood from the beginning: Stop being a dick.
Stop being a dick to strangers, to friends, to family, to your body, to your psyche, to the environment, to Anne Hathaway, to idiots and to enemies.
I'm tired, you guys. Life is tiring.
If waking up every morning at 4:45 am to shove a bunch of dry greens and ginger into a juicer before heading out for some cardio makes you happy, then enjoy your 9 am, in-office diarrhea break knowing full well you've accomplished something personally beneficial. If it doesn't, fuck it.
Just don't be a dick.