Happy little things

This will come as a shock to absolutely no one, but I’m not exactly an optimist. I prefer the term “realist,” although I’m sure some of my friends would describe me as a pessimist. It’s been almost a year since I was laid off, and my life has been a bit of a shit show since then. Yes, I still have my health and home and friends and family, but it’s amazing what losing a job can do to your perspective. Now that I’m back to job hunting for the umpteenth time (I was working a temp job, but that ended a couple of weeks ago), I can already feel the old “What does it all mean?” / “Why me?” pity party creeping back in. But I’m trying to avoid those feelings as much as possible this time. Being the logical person I am, I figure at some point my life has to right itself. Surely, there’s some law that your life can only be shitty for one year at a time. To stave off feelings of self-doubt and general gloom, I’m taking solace in the little things that make me happy. Here are a few things that are currently making this pessimist a little more optimistic.

1. Curls, Curls Everywhere

curlsIf you follow me on Instagram (I’m @brittany_nm), then you might already know that I’ve decided to go back to my roots, so to speak. After a decade of relaxing my hair, I’m giving my head a break from all the harsh chemicals and am letting my natural curls grow out. I got my last relaxer Tuesday, so it will take a while for my hair to grow out, but I’m already dreaming of long, wild (but also nicely tamed) curly hair.

2. Quality Southern Goods

southernThis year I’ve become infatuated with the South. It might have something to do with Gravy and the Bitter Southerner. Gravy is a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance, and its mission is to tell stories about the changing American South through the foods we eat. Topics range from the infamous Hand Grenade cocktail found on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (I had one when I visited in April, and I’m still recovering) to the Barbecue Capital of the World to the effects the BP oil spill had on fishermen in coastal Louisiana. I always learn something in each episode (and I usually end up hungry).

Gravy also deserves credit for introducing me to The Bitter Southerner, an online magazine that publishes a long-form feature about the South every week. Like Gravy, food is a common theme, but so are the great outdoors, heritage, race and a host of other things. Recently, the site added videos, personal essays and short features. Even better? The Bitter Southerner understands how annoying it is when websites send you 200 emails a week, which is why it only sends subscribers two a week: one on Monday with the main feature for the week and one on Friday spotlighting a few items from its general store. I’m currently eying this print.

3. The Best Meal Of The Week

brunch

If I’m being honest, I could devote an entire blog post to the reasons brunch makes me happy. I know it’s a totally Millennial thing to love brunch, but I don’t care. I. Fucking. Love. Brunch. My friend Jen and I have made it our mission to work our way through Cleveland’s brunch scene one Bloody Mary at a time. (It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.) Our last stop was at Heck’s Cafe in the Ohio City neighborhood. I had the chicken and waffles (pictured above) and a Bloody Mary (‘natch).

4. Hello, Cleveland!

rock hall

In honor of its 20th anniversary this year, the Rock Hall is hosting Sonic Sessions. The monthly concerts are a great way to discover new artists, and all the shows are super-cheap (or free!). So far I’ve seen Elle King [pictured above right], Vinyl Theatre and New Politics [pictured above left]. Up next is the phenomenal Philly band Hop Along, on Aug. 12.

5. New Music from Old Favorites

tunes

It’s as if the universe knew I was having a rough year so it decided to reward me with music from two of my favorite artists. Frank Turner‘s sixth album, Positive Songs For Negative People, comes out next Friday (!!), Aug. 7. How great is that album title, by the way? It’s like Frank gets me. I was lucky enough to hear the album (job perk of being a music journalist), and I seriously love it. I liked his last album, Tape Deck Heart, but it didn’t grab me like some of his previous work did . This one though, it’s still holding on.

Also, The Front Bottoms. God damn, do I love this band. Their third album, Back On Top, comes out Sept. 18. They’ve released three singles, which definitely sound different than their previous albums but not so different that I’m left scratching my head. They also announced a headlining tour, and I cannot wait to see them play Cleveland.

How not to suck at online dating, part two

hey-girl-i-saw-you-on-tinder-
I have a very important breaking news story for you.

Get ready.

Are you ready?

Online dating still sucks.

Oh, you already knew that? Silly me thought it would be a smidgen less awful the second time around, but nope—still 99 percent terrible. About a year ago I wrote the first “How not to suck at online dating”  post. However, since the majority of the men online didn’t take the time to read my very informative and not at all snarky list of suggestions, I’m writing a second one. (I’ll also take any excuse to use a Ryan Gosling “Hey girl” meme.)

1. Enough with the fish already!
Guys on dating sites, specifically Tinder, love to pose with fish in their profile pictures. At first I thought it was just me, an Internet fish fluke. But after talking to my friends (and stumbling across this brilliant Tumblr), I now know I’m not alone. I’m still not sure why  this is the photo op that so many guys are choosing. Is there a poll out there that surveyed a group of women who all said they love men holding giant, dead fish? Who are these women?

PicMonkey Collage

Photos from the Ernest Hemingway Collection, Chuck Ragan’s Instagram and a poor schmuck on Tinder.

Let me break it down for you: Unless you’re  Ernest Hemingway or Chuck Ragan, there is no reason for you to be holding a fish in your profile picture. Why, you ask? One very important reason: Chuck Ragan and Ernest Hemingway fish(ed) all the fucking time. (One even wrote a book about it.) Have you seen Chuck Ragan’s Instagram? It’s nothing but him fishing! And I love it. Because that is Chuck. He catches his own fish, rows his own boat, grows his own food and wears his own unironic overalls. And now, he does all that with a baby strapped to him, like the manliest papa bear that ever was. Unlike the guys holding fish on Tinder, Chuck Ragan doesn’t post photos of him holding fish because he thought it would be a cool photo op. He does it because fishing is 98 percent of what he does, and if he didn’t post those photos, his Instagram would be pretty empty. Also, he’s Chuck Ragan, and he can do anything he wants. Same with Ernest Hemingway. (Side note: Can we just take a minute to imagine how great Ernest Hemingway would be at Instagram if he were alive today?)

2. Write something. Anything.
I’m baffled by the number of guys who don’t write one single thing in the space they’re given to write something about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in your looks, but how am I supposed to choose my future Mr. Wrong if you don’t tell me anything about yourself? Are you Team Katy or Team Taylor? Do you eat meat? Have you read a book recently? All very important things that I’ll never glean from a photo alone. Unless of course you’re wearing a Taylor Swift T-shirt in your first photo, eating a steak in your second photo and holding Wuthering Heights in your third. If that’s the case… Sup? ;)

3. But do try to write something interesting.
Oh, you love your family, hanging out with your friends, living life and the Cleveland Cavaliers and hate drama? To quote Miranda Priestly, “Groundbreaking.” The first guy I see who says he hates his family and friends and thinks LeBron is overrated is getting a right swipe purely for the sake of being different.

4. Put on a goddamn shirt.
I’m sure your abs are great, but there is no way to post a shirtless selfie without looking like a total cheeseball. The only thing worse than a shirtless selfie is holding a fish in said shirtless selfie.

5. Say something or get offline.
image
The supposed plus of dating apps like Tinder and Hinge is they only match you with people who you like and like you. You would think this would make people more likely to communicate with matches, but nope. I have no problem being the first to message every once in a while, but to be the first one to message every time? No thank you. And then to message and not get a response? WHAT IS THE POINT OF “LIKING” ME THEN?! Boys who like you but don’t message you are proof the terrorists have won.

6. Tinderella is not a real person.
The first time I saw “Looking for my Tinderella” in a profile, I figure I had just stumbled across a jabroni. Then I saw it again… and again. That’s when I realized, “Oh shit, guys actually think ‘Tinderella’ is clever.” Have these guys forgotten the story of Cinderella? Let me refresh their memory: orphaned, raised by a total bitch, tortured by her stepsisters and left with no other friends than some surprisingly well-fed house mice. Then she finally gets a night out, but has to be home by curfew. And on top of that, she loses a shoe! Sure, she gets the guy and the kingdom that comes with it, but anyone who thinks it ended happily ever after is kidding himself. The girl spent her life being made to feel like shit with only mice to talk to. Do you really think she just figured out the whole “being a princess” business overnight? But hey, if that’s who you’re looking for, then mazel tov. I just hope you have room at your place for all the baggage your Tinderella is about to bring with her. 

I wanna join Taylor Swift’s wolf pack

Sometimes you have a no good, very bad, “What does it all mean?” kind of day. Then, after said day is finally, mercifully coming to an end and you’re driving home, a Goo Goo Dolls song comes on the radio, and suddenly your one verse away from ugly crying in your car. But just as the water works are about to let loose, the song ends, and on comes Faith Hill’s “The Way You Love Me.” Then you remember that time Taylor Swift and Haim belted out Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” in the car. And even though it’s not the same Faith Hill song (and even though you’re not friends with Haim and T-Swizzle), you’re reminded of singing (badly) in your own car with your own friends to Kelly Clarkson and Justin Timberlake and, yes, Taylor Swift. Suddenly, you feel much better. (Is that a smile, I see?)

Then you start to think, “Taylor Swift and I would be such good friends. Before you know it, you’re planning an imaginary girls’ day with Taylor and Haim and all the other cool ladies in Hollywood because OMG doesn’t Taylor know everyone? We could cook and awesome dinner and sing karaoke and watch When Harry Met Sally and talk about how we will never understand men.

Suddenly you feel much better.

Suck it, Johnny.*

*I actually have nothing against Johnny Reznik. I bet he’s a pretty swell guy. And I still sing the shit out of “Black Balloon” whenever it comes on.

The poor woman’s therapy

Christina YangIt was Tuesday, around 11 p.m. I should have been in bed an hour ago, but I wasn’t ready to sleep. There was too much going on in my head. (Have you ever had one of those nights?) So I kicked off my slippers, put in my earbuds, scrolled to Taylor Swift’s 1989 on my iPhone and hit play. Then I started to move. I started off just walking around my apartment, warming myself up. But by the time I got to the chorus of “Welcome To New York” I was running around my living room, spinning, kicking, sliding and throwing my arms around with a whole lot of sass.

I’ve recently discovered the joy that is dancing—not just any dancing though. I’m talking no one is watching so move through each room in your house like a maniac singing along to your music completely out of tune dancing. The kind of dancing that warms you up and makes you smile. I kept moving and singing and kicking and twirling through all of 1989. By the end of the album, I felt better. Tired and a little sweaty, but clearer. I hadn’t figured everything out or solved all of the issues that were bothering me, but I no longer felt like I had to figure everything out that night. I had time to breathe.

Sometimes, things build up. Sometimes it feels as if my once small problems have quadrupled in size, but no one warned me about their sudden growth spurt. Before I can even deal with one issue, five of its friends have come to join the party and are hovering in front of me, loudly proclaiming, “Well, what are you gonna do about us?”

Problems suck. Money problems, car problems, job problems, love problems, friend problems—all shitty. But the good thing about problems is no matter how big and awful they look, they’re solvable. Sometimes you just have to take a step back, kick off your shoes, turn up the T. Swift and dance your fucking brains out.

I’d rather be reading

She-read-books-as-one-would

Happy World Book Day!

If you’ve visited this place before then you know I’m a big fan of reading. (See here, here, here and here. Oh, and once again here.) One thing I love about World Book Day (besides the fact that a holiday celebrating books exists) is its  focus on young, budding bookworms and reading in school. Whether you’re a 35-year-old bibliophile or a 13-year-old one, chances are you developed your love of reading as a kid. (Check out these adorable kiddos who celebrated today by dressing up as their favorite characters from books.) One teacher in particular influenced my love of reading.

Her name was Mrs. McDorman, a tiny, older woman who had a big reputation as a  hard ass. When I was placed in her third-grade class way back in 1997, I was a bit intimidated by what I had heard in the hallways about her.  She was in fact a no-nonsense old broad, but she remains one of my favorite teachers. Third grade was the year I discovered the American Girl books. When Mrs. McDorman noticed that I was whipping through an American Girl book every two days, she suggested to my mom I try something more difficult. She went a step further and recommended I read the Little House books.

So I started reading Little House In The Big Woods, and—just like Mrs. McDorman predicted—I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her childhood tales. Before that, I had always enjoyed reading, but the Little House books opened up a new world to me. It was then I realized, “Whoa. There are so many books in the world for me to read.” Books beyond the shelves in Mrs. McDorman’s room—even beyond the (what seemed massive at the time but was fairly average size) school library.

In honor of World Book Day and little girls who dress up like Hermione Granger and school libraries and, of course, Mrs. McDorman, here’s a list of my favorite books. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these are the ones that have continued to stick with me.

There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books, a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but was never really a stranger. My real, true world. My perfect island. —How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

  1. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  3. I’m With The Band by Pamela Des Barres
  4. My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares
  5. The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  8. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
  9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  10. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  11. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
  12. Columbine by Dave Cullen
  13. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  14. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  15. Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  16. Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  18. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
  19. Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey
  20. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  21. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by Carolyn Keene
  22. Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  23. The Color Of Water by James McBride
  24. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  25. John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman
  26. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  27. How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
  28. Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
  29. Blessings by Anna Quindlen
  30. Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
  31. Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quindlen
  32. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  33. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  34. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  35. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  36. A Series Of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  37. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  38. Night by Elie Wiesel
  39. Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  40. The Book Thief Markus Zusak

#bmocooks

bmocooks collageWhenever I’m feeling a mad case of writer’s block and have convinced myself there’s nothing left in this world for me to possibly write about, I inevitably end up thinking, “I should have started a cooking blog.”

If you’ve ever moseyed over to the Blog Crushes page on this site, then you already know that when it comes to blogs, I tend to play favorites, and my favorite favorites are those revolving around all things food. The fact that there are people who get to combine writing with their love of feeding people is totally mind-boggling to a food-/word-loving gal like myself. Often times, whenever I read a new blog post from one of them, I get this crazy notion that I could totally turn my kitchen into an office and churn out drool-worthy blog posts several times a week.

But then reality strikes, and I remember that these badass women didn’t become food blogger celebs overnight. They worked their asses off, quit their day jobs, mastered Photoshop and the intricate workings of their DSLR cameras and learned how to run a business. They’re the kind of people who when they have a disastrous kitchen fail, don’t give up. They dust the flour off themselves and start over, creating an even more amazing dish.

I’ll never be a food blogger celebrity for a few reasons: 1) I’d rather follow a recipe than create/adapt my own; 2) I don’t know what half the settings on my Nikon D40 do; and 3) Although the idea of having one set topic to write about seems appealing at times (i.e. during a mad case of writer’s block), I know that my blog is the one place in my life where I don’t want to limit myself.

Since I can’t be a badass food blogger, I’ve decided to be a badass food Instagrammer. (That’s a word, right?) As someone who loves cooking and taking pictures of what I cook, sharing my kitchen concoctions on Instagram was a no-brainer. When I realized that the majority of the photos I was posting were food-related though, I knew I needed a way to keep track of them. Enter #bmocooks. It acts as a record of what’s coming out of my kitchen and it keeps my friends salivating and wondering when I’ll invite them over for dinner. (I tell myself that if I keep feeding my friends awesome food, they’ll never want to leave me.)

My college friends have been calling me B.Mo since our first year. When my freshman roommate got her housing assignment a few months before school started, her brother looked at the paper, saw my name and said, “Hmm, Brittany Moseley. B.Mo.” It didn’t take long for my roomie and I too become best friends and for the new nickname to stick.

If you’d like to see what dishes I’m churning out, follow me on Instagram @brittany_nm and check out #bmocooks.

If you’re looking for some more kitchen inspiration, might I recommend these cookbooks from some of my favorite food bloggers?

The write inspiration

snoopy-right-wordsLet’s talk about writing. And inspiration. And goals.

After looking through the past seven years of This Is Fact Not Fiction (and cringing at some of my earliest posts), I realized that although each year has been better than the last—as far as page views, frequency/quality of posts—there’s still much more I can do.

I’ll never be the blogger who is able to churn out a post every other day. I like my posts a bit meatier. The kind that makes you go, “Let’s settle on in, because this is going to be a reader.” When I started this blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t just write to fill space. I’d only write when I had something to say. And while I still stand by that, I realize I’ve used that as an excuse to slack off at times. I think there’s a happy medium between having a thorough plan, complete with bullet points and a bibliography, before you sit down to write and going in completely blind,  Hunter S. Thompson-style with nothing but your wits.  I’m aiming for that nice, cozy middle ground this year. If I don’t have something interesting to say then I’ll just have to look a little harder until I find it. My blogging goal for 2015 is to write at least twice a month. If I have a plan, great, but if I decide to throw that plan out and see where the keyboard takes me, that’s okay too.

All my planning for a blogging-filled 2015 got me thinking a lot about what inspires me to write. Now that I’m back in the full swing of job applications and interviews, I’ve been hit with several variation on the following question: Why do I like to write? Do doctors and lawyers and cowboys get this question? If they do, I imagine it’s an easy one to answer. “I want to save lives” or “I think everyone deserves a fair trial” or “I look really good on a horse.” But journalists? To say, “I write because I like to” sounds a bit simplistic and selfish. But it’s the truth. Sure there are other reasons I like it (a love for storytelling, the power of words, etc.) but at the end of the day I just really like writing. Even with all the ups and downs that come with my career path, I still can’t imagine doing anything else.

To get me motivated to blog my heart out—and to offer some inspiration to other writers who struggle with summarizing why they love what they do—here are a few quotes from some people who knew a thing or two about writing. Because when you’re at a loss for words, a good Hemingway quote can be a lifesaver.

“That is part of the beauty of literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.” –Anne Frank

“I seem to live while I write—it is life, for me.” –Elizabeth Barrett

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.” –Tom Stoppard

“Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.'” –Jef Mallett

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” –Ernest Hemingway

“As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘You are nothing,’ I will be a writer.” –Hunter S. Thompson