Aren’t you excited?

Museums aren’t really my thing. When V asks if I want to go to Art After Five with her on Friday, I say okay because I haven’t seen V in awhile and I want to spend some time with her. Lots of people find art museums to be calming, but for some reason walking around the Philadelphia Museum of Art makes me feel listless and lost.

V was my English professor at Penn State for three semesters. She taught me how to write better, to think critically (something I now forget how to do), and to remind myself that I am beautiful and smart from time to time. I’ve cried to her about everything from a C+ paper to my anxiety around turning twenty. Since she left State College to open up her own business in Philadelphia, we’ve become great friends and I respect her immensely. V is the same age as my mother.

“Wanna smoke some pot?” V says before we get into a cab.

“Right now?”

I am reminded of that C+ paper, which I received shortly after telling my English 458 class a silly story about being high as balls at the Band of Horses show at the State Theatre my sophomore year. I sat down in my balcony seat next to my super cute graduate student French teacher, whom I had exchanged mixes with when I was a freshman. With monsieur Nate on my left and Zack on my right, I had bugged out and told him how stoned I was. Nate nodded. “This show is gonna be really great for you.” A few weeks later, V asked me if I had been high when I wrote my paper. I was wildly embarrassed.

I did not smoke much after that.

We climb the stairs to the art museum two at a time, out of breath by the time we reach the top. I look behind me and sigh. Philadelphia, you are so beautiful. V leads me to a dark corner by the entrance and pulls out a little baggie and one-hitter. “Here, Allie, your fine motor skills are probably better than mine.” She has matches, no lighter. We hear a door slam and jump, as if we’re sixteen years old, trying to get stoned before Homecoming without our parents knowing. Note: I never smoked pot in high school, not once. I was too proud of my good girl status, too scared to lose the trust of my parents.

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I giggle. I am not scared. We are 25 and 55. We are adults.

V and I enter the museum. Inside, the sound of Wayna, an Ethiopian Grammy-nominated singer wafts through the hallways. I grab $8 glasses of cheap-ass wine from the bartender and smile big when he pours to the top. V and I grab seats on the steps and look around. I’m not sure it can get more bougie than this.

“Who would have thought we’d be hanging out five years after you came crying to me about your C+ paper?” V asks me. “Who would have thought we’d be at the art museum on a Friday night, enjoying live music and wine and taking it all in?” She pauses. “I think I’m a little high. This conversation feels a little more edgy than it would be normally.”

Who would have thought.

Wayna ends her set and a DJ spinning exclusively world music takes over. An older couple starts doing the fox trot, or something, while everyone else awkwardly watches. V’s friend M comes by and they chat for awhile alone. M is fifty, with dyed red hair, a heavy South Philly accent and a six-pack I can see through her slinky going-out top. She’s going through a divorce, V tells me later.

When I come back with two more glasses of winemuseum, the makeshift dance floor at the bottom of the steps has filled up. I drop all my shit in a corner and make my way to join in. I am surrounded by people of every age. Little girls dressed to the nines, big black dudes with dreads and head wraps, elderly couples letting it all hang out. The DJ is bopping his head. Apparently world music with a beat is a thing.

V and I dance together, bumping hips and getting groovy. V tries to get some of the single men to dance with her, just for funzies, just because she can. My boots slip and slide gracefully on the cool marble floor; I twist and shout, I moonwalk, I spin myself in circles. The atmosphere has shifted from bougie to bananas. I am dancing unlike I have ever danced at a club or a party or even in my own living room.

“Hey, baby,” V says, shaking her body around me in every direction. “This is what fifty looks like! Aren’t you excited?”

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What It Feels Like

This weekend I went to New York to see Katie Hudson dance her tush off and celebrate the birth of three friends at a “Roaring 20’s” themed party, complete with silent films, strings of pearls, and one giant gin bucket.

When I go to New York, I know I’m going to be out late. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just not something I’m used to. Here in Philly, when the bars close at 2AM, I go to bed. All day Saturday I prepped myself with this mantra: “Five AM, Five AM, Tonight You’ll Be Awake til 5AM!” Not very clever, but it worked. I didn’t get sleepy or anything, and Maddie patted me on the back for closing the bar down.

After the “Roaring 20’s” the crew headed to Good Co., which is apparently Jill Haney’s favorite bar in Williamsburg, and I can see why. There was a large space for dancing, it wasn’t too crowded, and the DJs were playing hip hop tunes from our adolescence. I had been sitting in the “couples corner” for awhile where people were either crying, talking quietly or falling asleep (I was a little tired, whatever) but then the DJ started playing some bangin’ 90s hit and I strolled over the the dance floor. The group got down to some good jams. The bar flashed their lights. It was 3:45AM, last call.

I went to grab my coat and some guy took it out of my hand and put it back on the table.

“I’ve been making eyes at you all night. I couldn’t get your attention. What’s your name?”

“Um, Allison.”

“I’m Ben. Are you from here?”

Ben took my hand before I could say anything else and put his arm around my waist and spun me around in a circle. The DJ switched moods from R&B to M83. I was fancy dancing with a strange, soft, weird dude whose appearance screamed NEB.

Here, listen to this song to help you understand.

I looked at Chris Rizzo over Ben’s shoulder and gave him a look that clearly said, “Save me.” He didn’t. He laughed instead. Happy Birthday, Chris.

Ben asked me some more questions but I really couldn’t hear him. No one on the dance floor was dancing. “Midnight City” finally ended and I said, “Okaythankshaveagoodnight.” I turned to get my coat.

Then, right before he walked away, almost sneakily, like he had a secret that he wanted to tell so badly or maybe like he had something enticing to share he goes,

“I’m Jewish.”

“Okay?”

He left to go back to his friends and I sat down immediately.

I was pissed. I stood up and found Maddie. “Can you believe that?” I asked her. She couldn’t. The bartenders kicked us out and a group gathered around the door. “I’m going to say something. I have to say something.” She nodded. “Do it.”

I waited for Ben and his friends to get outside. They were the last ones to leave.

“Hey,” I said. “What was that?”

“What?”

“You pegged me for being a Jew from across the bar and made it your mission to come after me?”

“I mean…well, yeah. Aren’t your parents always on your back about bringing home a Jewish guy?”

“No. I live with my boyfriend. And he’s not Jewish.”

He looked embarrassed. “Well, my parents are. Grandparents too. They’re straight from Poland. I could never bring home a girl that wasn’t Jewish.”

“Well I’m sorry, but I think it’s weird that you told me you were Jewish when obviously nothing was going to happen between us. Did you think that was going to reel me in or something?”

“I’m sorry, I’ve been drinking since 9PM.”

“Are you on J Date?”

“No, online dating is weird.” And hunting bars for Jewish girls isn’t?

He apologized again. Maddie approached us, all business. “Are we done here?” We got in a cab. Maddie gave me her feather boa and wrapped it around my neck. “Here,” she said, “this will make you feel like a sexy bitch.”

***

Weirdly enough, I stumbled upon this at work today. It’s an App that uses location-based technology to find Jewish singles who are nearby. It’s like “Grindr, but for Jews. “

And so, Ben, wherever you may be, I hope Yenta helps you get some hot Jewey action next time you’re leaving the bar at 4am. You’ve got nothing to lose, right? (I wonder if bubbe and zade would approve.)

A Dramatic Retelling of a Bad Traveling Experience

It’s not like I’ve never traveled by myself before. The first time I flew solo was September of my senior year of high school, when I met my father in Providence, Rhode Island, to take a gander at Brown University. I felt remarkably adult, even with an air time of just 45 minutes and knowing that my daddy would be waiting for me with his rental car at baggage claim. Later that year, I went to Portland, Oregon, to visit Lindsay Baltus, which was the first time I’d ever seen the West Coast. I never thought twice about flying alone after that.

On Thursday, I was all set to go to Chicago, Illinois, for work. I was pumped but anxious. Anxious like first-day-of-school anxious. What if my project failed? What if no one wanted their photo taken at Comic Con (yeah, right) What if all my social media efforts and all this money returned zero new Facebook “likes” and then I got fired?

I schlepped Zack’s NikonD60 and my co-worker, Keith’s shitty tripod and fifteen hundred TicketLeap stickers to Philadelphia International Airport by way of Septa. I boarded the plane and plopped down into 16B.

We were on the tarmac for two and a half hours, due to the sky being congested. The pilot was talking about air traffic controllers, and that started to make me a bit nervous (Zack and I finished season two of Breaking Bad last week). My phone battery had exhausted itself before we even took off and I was getting hungry. When we did finally leave, so much time had gone by that I should have already been in Chicago and having a beer with my co-workers. The airline attendants started passing out tiny tea biscuits to ease the pain.

An hour into our two-hour flight, the pilot came onto the loudspeaker with another announcement. We were trying to avoid bad weather, and the new route that he had planned for us would take another two and a half hours before we landed in Chicago. I was in the middle of heading to the bathroom when he said this, and I stopped dead in my tracks. “Did he just say what I think he said?” I asked the people around me.  Heads lifted from a sea of iPads. Yes, he did.

I went to the bathroom and felt so claustrophobic that my heartbeat felt like it was trying to crawl up my throat. I exited and started pacing around the back of the plane. Then I started crying. Not, like, sobbing or anything, but my voice started cracking and tears were pooling underneath my eyes. I looked at myself in the reflection of a stainless steel food cart. I was wearing sandals, a cotton shirt with poufy sleeves, and a pair of Juicy terrycloth sweatpants. I looked like I was in 11th grade.

A group of unrelated dads approached me. Three or four men with well-worn wedding bands, men old enough to be but younger than my own my father, started asking me a bunch of questions.  “Do you need help?’ “Are you okay?” “Do you travel often?”

“This is,” crack, “my first business trip.”

“Don’t worry,” they all said. “This is what it’s like to do business travel. Things like this happen all the time.”

An airline attendant with bad hair but a warm smile came into the cabin. “I was told there was a girl back here having a panic attack. Can I get you anything?”

“Do you have an Ativan?” I asked with a straight face.

“No, but I can get you some water.” She shooed away the group of dads. “You call can’t congregate back here.”

I drank a cup of water and took a few deep breaths with my head against the wall. She started telling me about her fear of elevators, how she can live on a plane for twelve hours a day, but she won’t get into an elevator alone. “I understand how you’re feeling,” she told me.

A nice girl who was waiting for the bathroom suggested I drink some wine and go to sleep. This sounded like a good idea. I meekly asked the airline attendant if I could have a mini bottle of the Cabernet, and told her I was in 16B so she could collect my money. She waved it off. Thanks for that, USAir.

I clutched the Cab with both hands and returned to my seat, which was sandwiched between an Indian man whose breath smelled like a septic tank and a 15-year-old Spanish exchange student named Julio, whom I told I would help navigate to the shuttle bus area once we arrived in Chicago. At this point, it had been almost six hours since my last meal and I drank the wine faster than you can say “alkie.” My muscles relaxed instantly. I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew, the pilot was talking about a “short cut.” We would be landing sooner than expected.

He made a joke when we touched ground. “Welcome to, uh,  I have no idea where we are!” Everyone clapped and laughed. “No, welcome to Charlotte. I mean, Chicago.” Fewer laughs. He wasn’t joking then.

Julio followed me off the plane.  I was walking very quickly. I followed signs to baggage claim and public transport, rolling suitcase behind me. I asked Julio if he had called his host family to let them know that he had finally arrived. He didn’t have their phone number.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “This is far as I can take you.” I waved and gave him a thumbs up. “Good luck!”

I hope he made it okay.

Cry When You Get Older

My grandma never comes to Pennsylvania. Last August was the first time in six years since she’s left her Florida condo for the likes of the northeast, and when she came up she stayed for a couple weeks. She was in Devon for my littlest brother’s graduation party, saw the family, met Zack. I didn’t think she’d be back for awhile, but my uncle is having surgery and she wanted to be there for him. She wanted to take care of him like another mother would, even when her son is sixty years old.

I was really excited to see her. I talk to my grandma on the phone every week or every other week, usually when I’m walking somewhere. Gotta walk 15 blocks? Time to call Leone. She’s always there, she always makes me laugh, she always wants to know what I’m wearing, who I’m seeing, and how much wine I’m going to drink. We like to gossip about celebrities and family members.

My office is really close to Suburban Station, which makes getting to suburbia a breeze. I took the 5:05 Express to Bryn Mawr with about a million other main line commuters and sat down with a book. I’m rereading “Local Girls,” by Alice Hoffman, which was one of my favorite Young Adult novels when I was of age. I plucked it off my bookshelf in Devon last time I was at home, along with “Chasing Redbird,” by Sharon Creech. When we approached Wayne, I took out my toiletry bag and started applying makeup, because I wasn’t wearing any. Eight hours at the office with wet hair, no makeup, a striped jersey dress and stinky cotton sandals. Professional? Eh.

I took out my blush and mascara, then hesitated. Uncapped the eyeliner and eyebrow pencil, because why not? Every time I see my grandma she tells me how I would benefit from eyebrow pencil. A few months ago I finally took her advice, bought the damn thing and you know what? My face looks way more complete. Grandma knows best. At least, mine does.

When I take the train to Devon from work I feel so grown up. I walk up Station Avenue, cross the five-way intersection, wave to the neighbors. I open the side door of my parents’ house, and my mother greets me from the kitchen, always. My grandma was in the living room and said slyly, “who’s that?” as I walked through the doorway, and immediately complimented me on my eyebrows, figure and face. She didn’t like my dark nailpolish, though. Five minutes and five hugs later, she gave me a beautiful gold ring she purchased in Florence in the 1970s. It is so very chic.

My brothers, parents, grandmother and Zack started sipping on wine, nibbling on a sharp cheese from Wellfleet, Massachusetts, when I brought up Le Grand Continental, which I started rehearsing for at the beginning of July and will continue until the performance weekend, which is the same weekend I turn twenty-five. Two hundred Philadelphians of all ages will perform a thirty minute performance piece in front of the Art Museum steps. My grandma laughed at the idea of me in a “dance recital.”

“Oh that’s right,” my mom said. “I think Justin has something that weekend, too.”

In case you didn’t know, my 19-year-old brother Justin plays guitar for a band called McLovins. They tour nearly every weekend in New England. They play festivals, concerts, and they are recording at the ESPN studios this week for the second time as Sportsnation’s house band.

“What, no,” I started in. “You have to come see me. You can’t miss this. You see Justin do everything.”

“We’ll see, I’m sure it will all work out.”

“But you drive everywhere for him! You watch him play all the tiiiiiime! Moooom!”

Zack kicked my foot under the table. “What?” I snapped.

“You’re whining.”

“I can talk to my mother, she’s my mother.”

But I was whining. And even though I knew it didn’t sound good, or professional, or adult-like, I didn’t care. I’ve been working hard, trying to memorize a half hours worth of choreography. I’m doing my part within the community! I’ve been putting four hours a week into this thing! And fuck, it’s going to be my birthday!

I asked Zack to accompany me to the garden to pick some rosemary for the dipping oil we were going to eat with dinner. “I turn into a child when I’m home, you realize that, right?”

I didn’t go up to my room at all. Most times, when I’m home for an afternoon or just for dinner, I don’t. I get lost in it. I open all the notebooks, the drawers, the closets. I read passed notes and finger through jewelry and shuffle papers. My room overwhelms me. So I avoid it.

I was planning to spend the night in Devon after Zack went back to Philadelphia, but the thought of not sleeping in my “own” bed at my parents’ (currently occupied by my grandma) was making me anxious. Like, how weird that for half a dozen years growing up I would never sleep anywhere but home, and now I’d rather be in my “own” bed, in Queen Village, with Zack. As I dumped a quick load of laundry into the dryer, I apologized to my mom for whining, or being rude, or as I often do, “jump down throats.”I felt bad. I always say the wrong things, say too much, get emotionally involved too easily- even after just one glass of zinfandel. She said not to worry, and that she wouldn’t miss my performance for anything. I made sure I’d see my grandma again sometime before she left to go back to the sunshine state and got into the passenger seat of Zack’s car.

After the doors were locked and teeth were brushed, Zack said out of nowhere, “You’re a good daughter.”

“Why?”

“You love your mother and grandmother so much. You treat your mom like she treats her mom. With care and love.”

Showing Up

The past thirty days were slammed with live (mostly) local music. Here’s the rundown:

Icona Pop at Morgan’s Pier

Two Swedish chicks with lovely electropop flair. They’re our age and spent most of their own set dancing onstage- can you blame them? Morgan’s Pier is sort of hit or miss. It’s new and it’s hip and it’s on the waterfront, which makes it a booby trap for bros and hipsters alike. On the weekdays it’s quiet and beautiful, with a view of the bridge and a ton of boats. On the weekends it’s crowded and loud, and the drinks seem more overpriced than usual. Last time I was there I ran into five, yes FIVE people from either Conestoga or Penn State. They do have Little Baby’s Ice Cream and $2 grilled hotdogs and R5 Productions have been booking free shows there. You gotta enjoy Morgan’s Pier for what it is, man.

Tanlines at Bamboo Bar

Another electropop duo. The guys are from Brooklyn and one of my favorite new bands of 2012. If you like the 80s, and dancing, and music that is perfect, listen to “All of Me.” Zack and I saw Tanlines at Voyeur in February (one of the best nights, ever) and even though they were playing at the worst bar ever for the fourth of July, we went anyway. Why is Bamboo Bar the worst bar, you might ask? An STD ridden play pool, a bathroom line halfway down Columbus Boulevard and enough hipsters to make your heart sink. We came, we danced, we left.

Little Kingdoms and Delaise at Chaplin’s Music Cafe

Berger brother doubleheader. Listen to Little Kingdoms if you’re into sweet teen vocals, earnest teen lyrics, sick guitar solos and twinkly shit. Listen to Delaise if you’re into jam bands, boppin’ around and more sick guitar solos. Chaplin’s Music Cafe is a tiny storefront in Spring City, which is a quiet town that looks like no one’s been there since the early 1900s. This place was built for acoustics, though, and Michael and Justin sounded awesome.

Brave Elephant at The Fire

Matt is a family friend who grew up in the same neighborhood as me. Kind of a Bon Iver/Fleet Foxes/S. Carey mix, only there’s no reverb button here (if that doesn’t convince you to press “play” I’m not sure what would). We saw Matt Quinn solo with a guitar and goddamn, does his voice sound good. His mother and brother thanked me a couple times for coming out to see him play. I didn’t go to be nice, I went because I genuinely think the kid is talented. Looking forward to a full length record. The Fire is a tiny bar on Girard with a small stage. Raise up Roof Beams played there earlier in the year.

Lucy Stone at The North Star

I found Lucy through Brave Elephant (she sings on his track “Scared Soldiers”). She reminds me a little of Jenny Lewis and a little of Lindsay Baltus (I think that’s partially why I like her so much). She’s got a super powerful voice and she’s a total babe. And she’s only 20. Indie rockin’ pop at it’s finest. The North Star is a slightly bigger venue than most divey bar platforms in Philly. The Kalob Griffin band played there in late 2011. Their buffalo wings are pretty great. This show was funny though- all ages, we couldn’t drink our beers in the stage area, and most of the audience was eighteen years old.

Ben Smith at MilkBoy Philadelphia

The last time I saw Mr. Smith perform was late December 2005, at the Saturday Club in downtown Wayne. I remember this because it was the first time Eric Lewis and I ever kissed, which is something I had been waiting for for like, ever. I had seen Mr. Smith once before that- I think it was sophomore year of high school at The Point, in Bryn Mawr? Can anyone confirm this? “Ben” had a drummer who played pop music clips a la Selena and Justin (Bieber and Timberlake) between songs from his iPhone. From The Wise and Foolish Builders to Missing Palmer West, Ben Smith has kept consistent with his sound. Influences from Ryan Adams and Wilco. Real good and folky.

Let me know if you listen to any of these, okay? Maybe we can go to a show together.

You, me and the Shins

The girl behind me in the second row had been crying nearly the entire set. The show was almost over, and as James Mercer sang the opening line to “New Slang,” I took a look over my shoulder. High-waisted jean shorts, a blonde top knot with a streak of purple at the base of her neck. Wing-tipped eyeliner, which was starting to glisten at the edges, and teeth that looked like the braces just came off. She couldn’t have been older than sixteen.

I was sixteen the first time I heard The Shins. Lloyd Cargo, that motherfucker, he put “Young Pilgrims” on the ever-famous “California Mix.” When my father saw the jewel case casually strewn on the kitchen table, he picked up and squinted. “With love? Is that what that says?”

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Later that year, I snuck into Garden State by buying a ticket for Open Water (which, it turns out, was also rated R) and I was convinced I was falling in love for the first time. When he kissed me I felt fireworks, and even though he was only the second boy to have his tongue in my mouth, I was sure it was the real thing. He burned me the Garden State soundtrack in addition to both Shins albums onto CDs that played in my 5-Disc changer on heavy rotation. He left for college a few weeks later and I started my junior year of high school in the deepest yet most delicious depression I had ever experienced. The first few notes of “Caring is Creepy” sent my face into a histrionic place of heartbreak and I reveled in the pain. To this day I have never shed so many tears over a record.

Half a year later I was “celebrating my three-month anniversary” (wasn’t high school funny?) with my boyfriend, who also gave me these so-called “fireworks.” We had tickets to see The Shins at the Electric Factory. It was April 27, 2005, and I was convinced I was going to lose it (control of my teenage emotions- not my virginity, come on now). “Pink Bullets” (acoustic) rocked my world and I bought this t-shirt, which had a bleeding heart over my own.

ImageThe first time I got drunk it was that coming August, and I was wearing that t-shirt (at Lloyd Cargo’s house- full circle, right?) I know it sounds crazy, but the beers I drank during a game of Kings completely destroyed that shirt. The fabric looked bleached in all these weird places and I eventually ended up cutting out the Shins design and sewing it onto super worn-in and perfectly fitting undershirt I found in a drawer at my great aunt and uncle’s.

A year later I left for college. A few weeks after I was dropped off at Penn State, my brother Michael texted me. “Mom cries every time she listens to that Shins song you love.” I had left some of my CDs in the car. “Kissing the Lipless” was the opening track on “Chutes Too Narrow,” and it was bringing my mother emotional turmoil about me growing up and getting older. If you only knew, ma. If you only knew.

I didn’t listen to the Shins very much after that. “Wincing the Night Away” came out my freshman year, and I thought it totally sucked. I hated that the Shins changed after I was the one who went away to college and wasn’t changing at all (at least, I didn’t think I was changing- wasn’t college funny?) My mom still listened to CDs I had left behind in the family Expedition, but I barely touched my MP3s at school.

At the Tower Theater last Thursday night, I was front row and center thanks to my friend Caroline. I had been listening to the Shins latest release, “Port of Morrow,” after being offered a ticket to the concert, and I was enjoying it very much. Most of the concert was spent sitting down, as there’s really no reason to stand up when you’re eye-to-eye with the band. But when “Kissing the Lipless” started booming from the speakers that were right in front of my face, I jumped up and started singing. Though I know the song is really about sex and breakups, I like to think of it as a homecoming song. “Called to see/if you’re back…” When it came to a close, James Mercer looked at me, and then the keyboardist. “That was a good one, that was a good one,” he said quietly. I had been smiling the entire set. A band that used to bring me to tears at the drop of a hat brought me only a look of sheer joy that night. As the lights came up after “One by One All Day” and people started collecting their things to leave, Caroline grabbed the setlist and I looked behind me once more.

“I have to know,” I asked the long-haired girl standing next to the blubbering top knot. “How old are you guys?”

“I’m 22,” she said, “but this concert is my sister’s 15th birthday present.”

“Perfect,” I said, nodding. “That’s perfect.”

Springing

There’s a man who sits on his stoop next to Dmitri’s, right on my corner of third and Catharine. He’s there every day, wearing those old school headphones that hug his ears and connect around the back of his head. When it rains he holds an umbrella; when it snows he sits in the driver’s seat of the pick up truck that’s parked right in front of his house. A stack of books a foot high rests on top of the console. He’s probably in his early forties.

I walk past him at all hours of the day, no matter if my work day starts early in the morning or late in the afternoon. He sees me ushering the boys out of the house in their karate uniforms and watches them race to their front door once they let go of my hands crossing third street. After a few months of nannying, I started waving and smiling at him. Just little nods, or a “good morning!” type exchange. Neighborly, curiously, kindly.

Two weeks ago I was offered a full-time job at a Philadelphia start up company called TicketLeap. Everything happened so quickly- I applied for the position Monday night by sending a tweet to the CEO, corresponded with him on Tuesday, interviewed Wednesday morning and was hired Wednesday night. I can fully apply my finding a job is like finding a relationship theory to the hiring process at TicketLeap. No games, no messing around. “I like you and you like me, let’s do this thing!”

After I got off the phone with TicketLeap, I burst into tears. This is what I had been waiting for for almost a year and a half. A job that matched my skill set and personality perfectly.  I moved to Philadelphia in November of 2010, worked a part-time job for a non-profit, interned for Yelp for 9 months (“It’s like we made a Yelp baby!” my boss said to me at my last event as an intern) and nannied for nearly as long. I had applied to countless jobs, went on over a dozen interviews and had a quarter-life crisis every two weeks or so because of it. My time had come. And now I had to tell the boys’ mother that I was going to leave.

I called my parents first, barely able to speak through my tears.

“I always knew you were emotional,” my dad said, “but you have to calm down. Where’s Zack?”

“Sitting next to me.”

“Is he wondering who this crazy person is he’s been living with?”

I hiccuped, then smiled. “No.”

“This is what you’ve been waiting for. Cheer up and go celebrate.”

Before we could enjoy a fancy cocktail at Southwark, I had to run down the street and tell my “family” about the job I was so excited for. At this point my face was red and puffy, especially below my right eye (you can always tell if I’ve been crying by looking at the beauty mark). I passed the guy on his stoop but barely made eye contact.

“Is everything okay?”

I stopped in my tracks. I’ve never heard the man say more than two words.

“Yeah, I just,” deep breath, “I finally got a real job and now I have to tell the boys I can’t be their nanny anymore.”

He smiled sympathetically. “Ah, I see.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll be alright.”

I nodded.

***

This is what I will miss about nannying (in no particular order): greeting the boys as they get off the school bus, perfecting the toasted bagel with butter and cheese, M’s serious thoughts from the bathtub, A’s self-confidence, hearing A ask to be tucked in to bed, mid-day trips to the bookstore and Mama’s Vegetarian, being constantly flabbergasted by M’s level of intelligence, the look on their faces after they earn a new stripe on their karate belts, making friends with the other Queen Village moms (they don’t recognize me unless I have the boys by my side), my #nannydiaries, the fudgey brownies their mom bakes every week without fail (I will probably lose three pounds by not having one of them each day), Shabbat hugs, brushing up on my Hebrew while helping them with their homework, sleeping nine hours a night, spending my mornings at Bodhi drinking tea and writing (the one place I can truly call myself a “regular” at), catching M in the middle of a nap, introducing A to some of my favorite childrens’ authors (Judy Blume, Julie Andrews Edwards), listening to M ask questions about life, love and my relationship with Zack. He is truly the most insightful and adorable kindergartner I have ever known.

***

This is what I’m looking forward to (in no particular order): having a “regular” schedule, interacting with real adults, Tweeting for a living, planning events, working on a MacBook Pro at a desk in an office with green and brown walls in the heart of Center City, making new friends and contacts, putting everything I learned from Michelle C to good use, blogging and learning more about WordPress, using my brain and being proactive, wearing clothes other than leggings and a t-shirt, “evangelizing” the company (how many people did I convince to sign up for Yelp? I’m confident in my abilities), and finally, managing an online community. This job was made for me.