To All The Plans We Made For ‘When This Is All Over’ And Are Now Desperate To Cancel

Once upon a time, the concept of leaving your house and actually doing something — anything — seemed absurd. Sure, we used to be well-versed in the art of rallying all weekend, our false lashes hanging on for dear life. But once the pandemic hit and everyone and everything shut down, we got realllll comfortable with the fact that not going anywhere was kinda… nice?

So, for over a year we’ve all just been sitting inside with our vibrators, ordering way too much food and begging our exes not to change their Netflix passwords. Other than that week or so when the world seemingly discovered Zoom and you had to go to virtual happy hours with everyone you know, plans were just a far-off, abstract idea. We agreed to anything because honestly, it wasn’t like it was actually going to happen.

Except now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, seeing friends and family once again is becoming a reality. Which is great… except for the fact that you made a lot of bullsh*t plans with a lot of bullsh*t people that you have absolutely no intention on keeping. Here’s what you agreed to, and a few ideas for getting out of this mess: 

10. Drinks With Your Coworkers

For over a year you’ve been working on your couch, but after the company-wide email went out saying everyone was expected back in the office, the invites started rolling in. Happy Hour! Team Building! Draaaaanks! Whether you like your coworkers or they’re pesky annoyances you try to forget exist after you log off at 5pm, the barrage of “let’s go out after work” invites are a given as soon as the world opens back up. Back when you replied to those requests while sitting at home with acne cream on your face, it didn’t feel like they would actually happen. But now that the time is here here, you’re realizing you might actually have to interact outside of work with these people after not physically seeing them for over 12 months.

How To Get Out Of It: You can’t really. You work together. You sh*t in the same room. You can put it off as long as possible, but eventually, you’ll have to give in and go out with them. Sure it sucks, but out of all the “plans” you made, it’s the least offensive. Just make sure to schedule it on a day you have a time restraint (“one drink because I have to help my neighbor? with her printer??”) so you can down your vodka soda and peace TF out ASAP. It’s that or quit your job, so like, the choice is yours.

9. Brunch With Your Frenemies

Did you love them pre-covid but after seeing their idiotic IG posts for the past year you’re over them, or have they always been a little sh*tty? Chances are you have a few toxic friendships that need to be scrubbed, but that didn’t stop you from making “when the pandemic is over” plans with those a-holes. Now that things are “normal,” they expect you to join them for carbs and complaining. It’s not that you hate them, it’s just that you realized life was maybe better without them?

How To Get Out Of It: Unless you’re ready to cut this group loose, they’ll eventually guilt you into brunching. Wear your biggest sunnies so they can’t see your eye rolls and chose a spot with bottomless mimosas. If you’re going to endure a few hours with the friends you low-key despise, you might as well be wasted for it.

8. Dinner With That One Annoying Couple

Whether you’re coupled up or expected to third wheel, you keep getting invites from that one couple you can’t seem to shake. Perhaps they’re college friends who turned corporate or your friend and her obnoxious boyfriend, but the duo just won’t take the hint that the idea of breaking bread with them makes you want to die. Sure, you could just keep bailing, but if there’s any part of you that wants/needs to keep that relationship afloat, you know it’s only a matter of time before they choose a pretentious restaurant and expect you to give them a bite of your entree.

How To Get Out Of It: It’s honestly kind of embarrassing that they haven’t figured out you don’t want to hang, but that’s a prime example of why they’re so frustrating to be around. Still, if they’re true friends who turned lame, a coworker you can’t ignore, or a pal you love with a partner you hate, you don’t want to totally jeopardize things. Luckily, claiming to be on a strict diet might be the key to getting out of a meal. Say you’re working with your doctor and can’t eat X, Y, and Z, so dinner is out. Promise to reconnect once your cholesterol (wink) is at a healthy level (wink, wink), and just make sure not to post your drunchie food the next time you have a fry craving.

7. Partying With Your Old High School Pals

When you were stuck in your tiny apartment with no one to talk to other than your house plants, you found yourself reconnecting with your old friends from school. Ancient pictures resurfaced, memes were sent, and after your ten-year high school reunion got canceled, you all agreed that you needed to get together ASAP. Now that ASAP is here, you realize you’d rather leave the past in the past and keep those relationships where they belong: in high school.

How To Get Out Of It: Unless you live in your hometown (my condolences), timing and scheduling are on your side here. I mean, what are the odds that all of you will agree on a weekend, book flights, and get together? Slim. So the only real option is to meet up around the holidays, but after a year of family events were canceled, your parents are officially your “get out of plans without looking like a total dick” card. Say you’d love to get together and then once you’re in town, throw your family under the bus with “my mom keeps guilting me” or “grandma forgot to tell us she was coming by for dinner.” It sucks but, you know, they’re family *humble shrug.*

6. Coffee With Your Internet Friend

Whether she’s a friend of a friend who slid into your DMs or you connected in a Facebook group and started chatting, you’ve officially landed yourself an internet pal. One thing led to another and a few casual conversations became a passing plan of meeting up IRL after Covid. Which means you agreed to go awkwardly hang out with a stranger whose messages you sometimes ignore because the idea of actually being able to leave your house someday sounded less ludicrous than going on a platonic first date with a social media rando.

How To Get Out Of It: It really sucks to be ghosted, but that’s the beauty of social media. If the person has no ties to you, stop answering/opening their messages or even go so far as to block them. There’s probably a reason you don’t actually want to meet up with them. If, however, they run in your circle or there’s the possibility of seeing them again, you might want to be a little less bitchy. Keep putting off the actual coffee date until they get the hint, or destroy their spirit and tell them you’re not that into an IRL relationship with them. The truth hurts, but at least then they’ll stop sending you TikToks you’ve already seen.

5. Shopping With An Acquaintance

Is she a friend? Sort of. Do you know her middle name? No. Do you genuinely enjoy spending time with her? Also no. But again, she’s sort of a friend and somehow you both landed on the idea of getting together to go shopping. Like, in public. Back when you agreed to the idea, the thought of perusing shelves instead of Amazon sounded so absurd, you said yes without thinking because it wasn’t like it was ever going to happen. But alas, stores are open, you’re both vaccinated, and she’s trying to schedule a time to get together. Even though you’ve never hung out with her 1-on-1 (and never really had the desire to TBH), she seems determined to spend an afternoon shuffling around stores and making forced small talk.

How To Get Out Of It: This is a tricky one. On one hand, you don’t want to go shopping with this person. On the other hand, ghosting feels like a non-option, especially if they’re friends with your other friends. Say you’re trying to save money, turn the shopping date into drinks, and drown out the awkwardness with shots and sh*t-talking. Everyone knows the pathway to a new bond is paved with bottom-shelf liquor and newfound mutual hatred.

4. Manis With Your Mother-In-Law

It’s been a long year, but one of the very few perks was getting out of those obligations with the in-laws. Unless you love the family you married into (liar), the thought of spending some extended 1-on-1 time with your MIL is probably causing you some serious angst. You’d humor her calls and texts and gushed about how you couldn’t wait to get together with her, but now that she’s vaccinated, it’s clear this wasn’t idle chitchat. She’s sending you nail design Pinterest boards, photos of cats in salon chairs, and is continuously asking your S.O. why you won’t call her back. Did you not get her seven-minute voicemail?

How To Get Out Of It: I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting your nails done with someone you don’t like chatting with. You’re just sitting there for a very extended period of time with nothing to do other than talk. You can’t bring a book or scroll social without looking like an asshole, but you’re 100% certain you’ll run out of stuff to talk about before the clippers even come out. The only way to get out of this is to say you’re not visiting the salon due to health concerns (Mold? Germs? Covid still? You decide), and would rather just paint your nails the next time you get together. Grab a few bottles of the fastest dry polish you can find and tell you S.O. to stay in the room while you give your MIL the sloppiest mani ever. She’ll feel like she’s getting that mother-daughter bonding moment and as long as you have some polish remover to get rid of the lime green mess she made on your hand, you’ll be set.

3. The Cross-Country Visit To See The Friend You Talk To Once A Year

Around the time when everyone was Zooming each other for happy hours, game nights, and *gasp* virtual bachelorette parties, you casually reconnected with an old friend who went MIA after moving away post-college. When she left for work (or was it to follow her boyfriend’s work? Wait, does she still have a boyfriend?) you both promised to keep in touch, but that quickly went to sh*t when real life got in the way. With covid, however, you had the chance to drunkenly DM, and now she’s wondering when you’re going to come see her and her new baby, whose name is escaping you at the moment.

How To Get Out Of It: There’s nothing worse than being roped into an expensive trip you don’t actually want to take (looking at you, bridal showers, weddings, and baptisms), but luckily, this one is fairly easy to get out of. There’s a good chance she doesn’t actually expect you to pack a bag and take a four-hour flight to see her, but if she does, hit her with a “times are hard, sh*t is expensive.” It’s not technically a lie because last I checked, times are hard and sh*t is expensive. If that doesn’t work, offer to host her at your home instead, and hope to God she too, decides to flake.

2. Toxic Weekend Retreat With Your Estranged Family

Awww! Your aunts, uncles, and cousins were so sad you didn’t see them this year, but they get it! You’re just a liberal sheep who believes in science. Even though they all masklessly got together numerous times, you were easily able to opt out. Now that you’re vaccinated and slowly starting to post bar pics on Insta, your family is making it clear that they’re dying to see you so they can ask you probing questions, question the validity of your job, and gaslight you into oblivion. You know, like the good old days!

How To Get Out Of It: Extended family is super tricky because, on one hand, they’re family. But on the other hand, you disagree with them about everything, and you honestly don’t even know how to spell half of their names. The problem is, no matter how sh*tty sitting around a cabin with people who still call you “kiddo” sounds, you kind of have to go unless you want to get written out of the will look like a dick. The only way to get out of it is to fake a work trip or wedding and make it clear how sad you are to be missing the big reunion. Sure they’ll talk sh*t about you, but what else is new?

1. Accomplishing Those Lofty Personal Quarantine Goals

 

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Sure, you made a lot of plans with a lot of people during the pandemic, but what about the plans you made for yourself? You know, the mission to really concentrate on your health during quarantine? Or what about the novel you were going to write? Or that new job you were going to get? Weren’t you supposed to have abs by now? You made a lot of promises to yourself and now that the excessive amount of “you time” is coming to an end, it’s clear: You didn’t accomplish sh*t.

How To Get Out Of It: Letting yourself down is the worst, but if you think about it really hard, did you actually think anything was going to change? I mean, after doing that ab video one time, did you ever try it again? And you went on LinkedIn once, but quickly left after seeing all the thirsty DMs from old men wanting to ~connect.~ Sure, you bought a lot of cute note pads to write in, but did inspiration ever strike? Nope. And while everyone else might not understand, at least you can cut yourself some slack for flaking.

Images: Autri Taheri / Unsplash; Giphy (9); betches / Instagram

What Are ‘Secret Trips’ And Why Are They Even A Thing? An Investigation

We’re a few weeks shy of the one year anniversary of the world shutting down. New normals include freezing next to a heater while trying to enjoy dinner in the street of Soho, wearing a mask in public (working those sexy eyes), and redefining Netflix and chill with quarantine and social distancing. Jokes aside, we’ve seen loss, struggle, and a whole lotta hope as we do our part to flatten the curve. Trust me, I’d kill right now to be playing games of flip cup with strangers at a dive bar in the Lower East Side, or be so disgustingly close in a crowd at a concert screaming for an encore. But until then, emotions are running high, and it’s a really heavy vibe right nowespecially on social media. What once was a highlight reel where you’d post trips, milestones, and celebrations has now become a place for shaming and judgment. It’s reached the point where people are actually afraid to post what they’re doing during the pandemicso much so that they are opting to live their life off of social media. Hence, the rise of secret trips.

I’ve seen the term “secret trips” used among millennials since COVID-19 hit. It’s a pretty self-explanatory term, but let’s define it anyway: taking a trip of any kind during the pandemic that isn’t shared with friends, family, or posted on social media to avoid judgment for traveling during a pandemic. Travel site Well Traveled Club found that more than 90% of their members were planning a multi-night trip in the height of the pandemic and were not planning to share it online because of fear of being shamed for traveling. 

CDC guidelines state, “Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.” With that being said, I can see why some people want to keep their travel adventures a secret.

This is the start of our investigation: What are “Secret Trips” and why are they even a thing? Lucky for you, I’m an unofficial social media FBI agent (did I say unofficial?), so I did some digging and interviewed Secret Trip-goers, then spoke to a licensed psychologist and a physician. Here’s what they had to say.

The LA To New York Wanderlust

Nick and his wife Danielle are Los Angeles residents, where, as of December 2020, there were too many bodies for mortuaries and hospitals to handle. The couple have been traveling since the summer. They started small, beginning back in May, when they would escape their quarantine routine and drive two hours to Santa Barbara for the weekend. At the time, Los Angeles was starting to open hiking trails and takeout for restaurants, though the county was not promoting traveling long distances away from home, instead urging residents in a public order, “With this virus, we are safer at home.” 

Nick tells me, “Santa Barbara was truly an escapeit was almost like COVID didn’t exist there and was super relaxed with restrictions.” After spending the entire summer on these drives, the couple decided to fly cross-country to New York City for a few weeks. One hot spot to another, right? Nick and Danielle were living their best Bonnie and Clyde lives, and the fact that what they were doing was not recommended and frowned upon only made it more enticing. 

“Taking the risk and bending the rules is exhilarating sometimes. We were doing this for selfish reasons, and we know that. But on the other side of things, when times are grim, people need a break. Being as safe as possible, but trying to find the little joys where possible,” he tells me. Regarding the decision to keep it on the DL, he explains, “People didn’t need to know what we were up to, this was just for us.”  While sparks were flying for their secret escapades, the couple did take tests before and after traveling (they flew Delta with middle seats blocked), and neither have contracted the virus.  

The CDC notes that while “viruses other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes”, getting on a flight involves spending time inside the airport, in security lines and at the terminal, where social distancing may be difficult, and which can put travelers at risk of exposure to the virus from respiratory droplets and frequently touched surfaces.

And with vaccine rollouts taking place all over the country, people are only feeling more comfortable getting TF out. In the eyes of physicians like Meagan Vermeulen, MD, FAAFP, though, “Dr. Fauci put this into perspective very well during a CNN Town Hall on COVID yesterday when he stated, ‘getting vaccinated is not a free reign to travel.’” Dr. Vermeulen is the founding program director of the Inspira Family Medicine Residency Program at Mullica Hill and assistant professor of Family Medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Dr. Vermeulen believes that Dr. Fauci’s insights are true for a few reasons. “One, it takes about 10-14 days after your second dose to achieve full effectiveness, which is 95-95% reduction in the likelihood that you will become ill from COVID-19. Two, and this is the part that’s tricky, we don’t know how likely someone who is vaccinated is to pass the virus to people who aren’t fully vaccinated or vaccinated at all. There are studies going on right now to compare how much the virus ‘hangs out’ in the noses of people who have been vaccinated versus those who have not been vaccinated; this will help scientists figure out how well the vaccine works,” she explains.

While a trip to Tulum with your group of friends shouldn’t be on the table, a small getaway with your pod (people you live with or have close, exclusive contact with) is your best bet if you’re going to do it. If you have to get away, Dr. Vermeulen says, “Plan a different kind of travel. Rent an Airbnb with an excellent safety/cleaning rating. Spend the budget you would on that trip on an upscale hotel that you would normally go to for one or two nights as a mini-get away. It’s not the big getaway you want, but it’s still luxe and safe.”

The Vermont Cabin In The Woods

Caitlin is a Brooklynite who has been alone in her studio apartment for most of quarantine. With three friends, the group drove six hours north to Stowe, Vermont for a New Year’s skiing adventure for eight nights. 

Unlike most states, Vermont has very strict mandatesincluding being required to show a negative COVID test result whenever asked. “Before arriving in Vermont, we needed to sign a waiver with our Airbnb host stating we agreed to follow state mandates about traveling, which included either a 14-day quarantine before travel or a 7-day quarantine, followed by a negative PCR test in your home state,” Caitlin explains.

With every meal home cooked, packed lunches for the slopes, and precautions more than followed, Caitlin, a regularly active Instagram connoisseur, chose not to share her snowy adventure with her followers. 

I feel like there are too many judgmental eyes out there. In these people’s eyes, there is no right way to live your life during the pandemic unless it fits their mold,” she tells me. “The biggest reason I took this trip was because I needed a mental health break. I needed to get away from work, my tiny apartment, and the stresses of the holidays away from my family. The last thing I wanted was a naysayer sliding into my DMs and lecturing me about how ‘frivolous’ my mental health break was to them.”

I won’t lecture you, but the next time you go on judging someone IRL or on social media, think about context. It’s important, because you know what happens when you assume. Do you know all aspects of someone’s story before jumping to conclusions? And more importantly, maybe take a look in the mirror. Unless you’re sitting pretty at home, which you have literally not left once in the last 11 months, then continue riding on your high horse. 

The Miami Escape

Jake flew down to Miami a couple times during 2020 from New York City to spend time with his brother, making sure to do the proper pre- and post- quarantining and wearing masks at all times. “We avoided crowded places, which was hard, to be honest. Most businesses were mildly busy,” he says. 

Choosing to not share on social media because of potential backlash, Jake surprisingly found a new perspective on his trip. “Not sharing my experience on social media has also made me enjoy the moment and be more present,” he tells me. “I used my phone way less and just truthfully enjoyed my time with my brother. We actually had meaningful conversations throughout our stay and connected on a level we haven’t experienced in a very long time.”

Whether on social media or IRL, he’s not going to let naysayers dictate how he should be living his life. Jake states, “People are sick of being kept from living a ‘normal’ life, so when they see others breaking the ‘mold,’ they’ll retaliate with hate. It’s human nature. We’re all free and entitled to live life however we see fit.” 

The Psychologist Has Thoughts

Dr. Joanna Petrides, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine who specializes in anxiety and human behavior, tells me, “Using shame to control the behaviors of others is nothing new. When people experience fear or uncertainty, they seek out control and one way to do so is assumed to be shaming someone into changing their mind. Shame has never been an effective behavior change approach.” 

“As we can see from our travelers, if individuals feel what they are doing is right for them, they will find a way to still do it but circumvent the pressure of shame from others. So it’s best to spare the shame and practice active listening to understand where the other person is coming from,” she adds. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for quarantining in the pandemic. Someone who lives alone in a small studio apartment is having a vastly different experience than someone who is home with their family of five. And honestly, before you judge, just take an assessment of your past behavior for the past 11 months. You may have dined at a restaurant, met up with friends not in your household, or celebrated the holidays with your family. You probably assured yourself you were being safe, right?

“We tend to use a different ‘yardstick’ when we are assessing our choices versus someone else’s choices. When we make a decision for ourselves we are privy to all the thought and planning that went into the decision,” Dr. Petrides explains. “However, when we look at someone else we don’t have access to their inner thoughts and only use the surface information that is available to us. This leaves a lot of room for speculation and judgment without understanding or compassion. It’s best to hold judgment until you know the full story”. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re posting on social media or not, just please be smart. Don’t go running to a club or jetting off to a festival in Tulum as soon as you get your vaccine. Keep wearing your mask, use hand sanitizer, keep your social interactions limited, and lastlyjust be nice! This last year has been a sink or swim situation for many, (and yes, I’m getting sappy on your asses) but a smile or calling an old friend is more valuable than you know these days.

Images: Ranta Images/Shutterstock

7 Questions To Stop Asking Newly Engaged Couples

‘Tis the season to get engaged, amiright? Just about two weeks ago, my fiancé (still feels weird typing that) proposed to me and I’ve been over the moon ever since. I’ve had more people reach out to me in this short time period than I have in my entire life combined, and while most of the interactions are super fun and positive, there are some repeated questions popping up that are simply getting on my nerves. While most of these questions are asked innocently, they’ve gotten old quickly, so here’s the 101 on questions to *please* stop asking newly engaged couples.

1. When And Where Is The Wedding?

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the wedding too. I’ve been dreaming about this sh*t since I was a little girl. That being said, it’s almost mind-boggling how many people have asked me WHEN the wedding is. Ma’am, I got engaged one week ago. If you think in seven days’ time I toured multiple venues, picked the venue and booked it, you’re buggin. What’s even more fun is when I say “I’m not sure yet” and it’s followed up with a, “well you should really get on that because weddings are likeeee booking into 2022“. Thank you, I know. Your added stress is not necessary, especially when you’re just stating the painfully obvious. Sorry if this sounds cold, but on behalf of all the newly engaged people out there, it had to be said.

2. Are You Stressed About COVID-19 Impacting Your Wedding?

Short answer, DUH. Given the uncertainty of the virus, I’m absolutely nervous about COVID-19 impacting my wedding. That being said, I find this question oddly irritating. As someone who had the virus myself, there are so many more important things to worry about being impacted by COVID-19 than a giant party. I’m nervous for my family, my friends, my loved ones, our world as a whole. While I’m less worried about the virus impacting my wedding day and more overwhelmed that it will result in me getting married two to three years from now, it feels like a slightly obnoxious inquiry. If COVID-19 doesn’t make you stressed, you scare me.

3. Who Is in Your Bridal Party?

There are two parts to this question. It typically starts with, “So, who’s going to be your Maid of Honor???” followed by, “Actually, who is in your bridal party in general?” When my family asks me this question, I’m cool with it. They’ve watched me grow up, they know my friends well, and they are genuinely curious. The problem is when *others* ask. If I haven’t asked my bridesmaids yet, why would I tell YOU who they’re going to be? Half the people asking are subtly hoping to be in the bridal party and the other half are asking just to be nosy and get the scoop. This question makes me super uncomfortable because I’d never want someone to feel left out, but at the end of the day, it’s my business and my business only.

4. Are You Going on a Diet? Are You Getting a Personal Trainer?

This is perhaps my LEAST favorite question of all because it’s just genuinely rude. I’ve been a bit taken aback by the amount of people who have asked me this, because I just can’t wrap my head around thinking it’s appropriate. To be honest, I don’t know the answer. If I decide that I want to tone my arms for my dream dress, maybe I will. If I decide I want to change the way I eat for health and wellness purposes, maybe I will. That being said, it will most certainly not be influenced by anyone else trying to pressure me to do so. This question is tacky and unnecessary and I know my fellow fiancé(e)s out there will agree.

5. So Like, How Much Was Your Ring?

On the theme of tacky… this question is just beyond me. There is a zero percent chance someone has good intent when asking this question. You’re either asking because you think it looks expensive and you want the tea, or because you think it looks cheap and… you want the tea. If you hit me with the “DiD hE sPeNd ThReE mOnThS sAlArY” please go away. I’m in love with my ring and that is the only thing that matters to me. That being said, if you’ve complimented my ring without asking about the cost, I appreciate you. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t basking in glory from any/all positive feedback so… KEEP IT COMING!!!!! (Put that under the category under things you should say to a newly engaged person. Accolades are always allowed.)

6. Am I Invited?

If you have to ask, it’s probably a no. Weddings are expensive. Like… really expensive. Would you treat me to a $200 dinner? No? Then I probably won’t do the same for you. Half kidding, but I personally am not trying to recreate My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so chances are my list will be narrowed down to the real ones. This question falls under the category of super uncomfortable because I hate leaving anyone out and, despite my evil sarcastic tone throughout this article, I actually love to make people feel warm and welcome, so by default I’ll feel guilty about those who don’t make the cut. Long story long, please don’t ask me this question, because it WILL keep me up at night.

7. Can I Give You Some Advice?

This question is super circumstantial, because some people offer fantastic advice and it’s extremely appreciated. Advice about how to conquer visiting multiple venues and what to look out for? Yes please. Advice about how to budget and what is and isn’t worth splurging on? I’m all ears. The problem is, people typically offer advice that is opinion-based rather than fact-based, and that’s where it gets hairy. I don’t want your advice on things personal to me, because it’s my wedding. When it’s your special day, you call the shots. When it’s mine, let me enjoy. (LMK if this is giving bridezilla vibes so I can stop before I start.)

Bonus: Questions I Enjoy

In order to redeem myself for all the spiciness above, I want to include some questions that I enjoy getting. Those exist too, I swear. I’m happy to answer questions about the engagement because quite honestly, I still get butterflies. How did he ask? Easy, I have a response saved in my notes that I can send along to anyone and everyone who wants to know. Were you surprised? Excited? Nervous? Yes, all of the above. What kind of style is your ring? More than happy to answer this (mine is emerald) and I’m also happy to answer personal questions about the ring if they are productive and helpful for my fellow future brides (or friends looking to get engaged soon). What is your dream dress? Oh, I’m glad you asked… let me show you my Pinterest board. You get the point.

If you take away one thing from this piece, it’s to be respectful of others privacy and to know what questions are appropriate vs. uncomfortable. Pre-engagement I likely asked half of the above questions myself, so we’re all learning here. The more you know!

Images: Scott Broome / Unsplash; Giphy (9)

Americans Are Sneaking Into Canada On Their Yachts

The president of BC Marine Parks Forever, George Creek, told NPR that he called America “the biggest petri dish in the world,” and you know what, he was right.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Canada closed its borders to all nonessential American travel. So far, that’s worked out pretty well for them. On August 8th, they reported 320 new cases to the United States’ 55,692. So, it makes sense that Canadians aren’t too thrilled by the idea of letting Americans into their country, which has successfully and safely made it to the final reopening stages in most places. 

But now, because Americans simply cannot take no for an answer, some people have been sneaking into the country the same way high schoolers with strict parents go to parties: by lying about where they’re actually going. Apparently, people have been telling Canadian border patrol that they are passing through Canada to Alaska. This is called the ‘Alaska Loophole’ (which, incidentally, sounds like the name of a movie Reese Witherspoon would star in). 

Americans are also making their way to British Columbia on their yachts by sailing through protected areas. Members of the Council of BC Yacht Clubs are concerned and pissed off, estimating that close to 40 American boats are currently in Canadian waters. According to international maritime law, these boats are supposed to have an automatic ID system that stays on at all times. These systems are put in place to prevent collisions and track ships in real-time. However, it appears that these boats are turning off their tracking systems to avoid being caught by law enforcement. 

And it’s not like these people are just staying on their boats. In the same interview with NPR, George Creek talks about how some of these boats are docking and walking through stores with no social distancing and no masks. It’s obviously pretty understandable that more than 80% of Canadians want to keep the border closed.  

It just seems a little ironic to me that not that long ago, Donald Trump literally invented caravans of migrants from Honduras and denounced those who wanted to leave their home countries. He called them criminals and implied that they may have had ties to terrorist organizations. Unsurprisingly, the president hasn’t expressed any issue with the very real caravan of yachts that is illegally entering Canada and possibly bringing in cases of an incredibly contagious virus that their government just got under control.

As the late, great Robin Williams said in 2013, Canada is “like a really nice apartment over a meth lab.”

 

 



A Chainsmokers Concert In The Hamptons Was A Total Clusterf*ck

As we approach the five-month mark on social distancing and quarantine regulations, it’s fair to say that people are getting restless. While many people understand that things can’t really go back to normal right now, others are getting more and more creative about how we can safely get out and do things in the age of COVID. This has led to a renaissance for drive-in events, which mostly just made me think of Grease prior to this summer.

Drive-in movie theaters around the country (yes, they still exist) have been doing solid business showing classic blockbusters like Jaws and Jurassic Park, and recently, many outdoor concert venues have reimagined their lawns as drive-in friendly venues. Earlier this month, Brad Paisley headlined a three-city “Live From the Drive-In” concert series organized by Live Nation, and they’ve announced more shows in more cities. These concerts went smoothly, but this weekend, a drive-in charity concert in the Hamptons proved that not all drive-ins are equally safe.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Southampton concert was headlined by The Chainsmokers, but it wasn’t just your average EDM show. The event was in support of numerous local charities including No Kid Hungry and the Children’s Medical Fund of New York. And in the name of raising money, tickets for the event came at steep prices—$850 for the cheapest package, all the way up to a $25,000 package that came with its own RV for the night. And opening for The Chainsmokers was none other than Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon (aka DJ D-Sol). Yes, really.

Not to knock DJ D-Sol’s um, skills, but it’s pretty clear who this event was catered to. With ticket prices like that, it’s no big surprise that the concert drew a who’s who of the Hamptons summer set. Notable attendees included major influencers like Danielle Bernstein and Melissa Wood, along with Conor Kennedy (American royalty and, more importantly, Taylor Swift’s ex). Even Arielle Charnas’ parents left the house for some much-needed EDM.

Besides the audience area being divided into drive-in spaces, event promoter In the Know Experience spoke to Buzzfeed and outlined additional precautions, including temperature checks upon entry, free hand sanitizer and masks provided to all concertgoers, and “dividers separating individual parties in the pit area.” Sorry, but you could not pay me enough money to be in a “pit area” right now. The concert happened on Saturday night, and it didn’t take long for a video from the show to make the rounds on Twitter, calling into question the safety of the event.

The Chainsmokers had a “Drive-in” concert in the Hamptons last night…looks like social distancing was strongly enforced 🤦🏻‍♂️….when NY gets the inevitable spike just blame these rich selfish white people

Via IG:adamalpert pic.twitter.com/yLe1XaE0hS

— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) July 26, 2020

The video is dark and very brief, so it’s hard to see exactly what the situation is, but that certainly looks like a packed crowd. Whatever precautions were taken, people clearly weren’t social distancing. One concertgoer told Buzzfeed that she “felt super safe and it was tons of fun,” but when it comes to this pandemic, feeling safe and actually being safe are not always the same thing.

Melissa Wood even posted an Instagram story on Sunday to clear the air about the concert. She said that guests had to fill out a “COVID-19 questionnaire” before purchasing tickets. But with tickets going on sale at least a few days before the concert, filling out a questionnaire in advance doesn’t guarantee safety.

Wood said that “each vehicle was parked in its own designated area,” and that she wore a mask the entire night, as did her “small group.” She finished her message by claiming that people “are unaware of what the event actually detailed.”

Despite what attendees may have said, those seeing photos and videos from the concert—including New York government officials—remained unconvinced. On Monday, New York State Health Commissioner H0ward Zucker sent a letter to Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, eviscerating him for the decision to let the event happen. Zucker wrote that he was “greatly disturbed” by images from the event, and said, “I am at a loss as to how the Town of Southampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat.”

After that, it wasn’t long before the big guns came out, with NY Governor Andrew Cuomo slamming the event on Twitter. Cuomo stated that the videos show “egregious social distancing violations,” and suggested that the event was an “illegal & reckless endangerment of public health.” He said that the NY Department of Health will be investigating the event, and given what Health Commissioner Zucker already publicly said, I have a feeling someone’s getting in big trouble.

Videos from a concert held in Southampton on Saturday show egregious social distancing violations. I am appalled.

The Department of Health will conduct an investigation.

We have no tolerance for the illegal & reckless endangerment of public health.pic.twitter.com/gf9kggdo8w

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 28, 2020

In the last couple weeks, as New York has continued to reopen, Governor Cuomo has made it clear that he has little tolerance for those who do not follow the rules. Hundreds of restaurants and bars have been penalized for failing to comply with reopening protocols, with punishments including fines and suspension of liquor licenses. While COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in much of the country, statistics in New York—once the epicenter of the pandemic—have held steady in recent weeks. These reopening guidelines, in addition to strict quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers, offer the best chance of avoiding a major spike, so it’s easy to see why Cuomo is taking such a strong stance.

It’s like the new social media phenomenon of people saying “don’t worry, we followed all the rules!”, when the post clearly shows them following none of the rules. It’s a lazy way of trying to dodge criticism, and while seeing a handful of people justifying a social gathering is questionable, seeing 2,000 rich people packed together at a concert (and then claiming they were being completely cautious) is way more alarming. I guess those people should’ve just stayed in the back seat of their Rovers…

Images: agwilson / Shutterstock.com; firenzemike, nygovcuomo / Twitter; melissawoodhealth / Instagram

9 Quarantine Trends You’ve Already Forgotten About

If you didn’t already think time was a social construct, the last six months have probably changed your mind. The movie you said you watched last weekend? That was two months ago. And the tweet you thought you saw last week? It was posted today. Since we’re all online literally all day and have nothing better to do than run a new meme into the ground hours after it’s created, new trends come and go faster than ever before. While the banana bread and sourdough baking phase is probably seared so permanently into your memory that you’ll be telling your grandkids about it when they ask about 2020, there are probably a few trends and moments that have already been erased. 

The Carrot Challenge

Approximately two days into quarantine, everyone was apparently already so bored that they resorted to an Instagram challenge where they tagged their friends to draw a carrot on their story. It is truly remarkable to look back at this moment in time and realize how naïve we were that we could have possibly thought that was the worst it was going to get.

Whipped Coffee

This feels like something from an entirely different time, back when there was still hope (aka mid March). Thanks to one of the first TikTok trends to pop up in quarantine, people everywhere were using the 20 minutes that they’d usually spend commuting to the office to whisk coffee into a froth. Given that I haven’t heard anything about this in a few months, it seems like people have now realized that time is better spent sleeping in.

“Until Tomorrow”

this quarantine is really testing the limits of what photos make the cut for a throwback post on instagram

— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 8, 2020

Another long-forgotten trend is the “Until Tomorrow” era, a time when you couldn’t open Instagram without seeing a feed full of embarrassing photos, bad selfies, and baby pictures (that would be taken down the next day to avoid total humiliation). Personally I think taking your photo down is a weak move, since true Instagram baddies have had embarrassing photos up since 2010 and never took them down no matter how bad (and over-filtered) they were.

“First Photo” Challenge

As I’m sure all the other single people quarantining alone would agree, this challenge felt like a personal attack. Seriously, couples posting their first pics together? Like, did I ask for every other Insta story to remind me that I’ll be riding out a pandemic alone and getting dressed up for FaceTime dates for the foreseeable future? 

Instagram Live

Remember that week (or was it a month? Who knows) where you got a notification every five minutes that someone was going live on Instagram? Including the girls from high school “running their own businesses” showing you how to use their essential oils? My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who accidentally joined someone’s live where there were only two other people watching. Leaving one of those is almost as uncomfortable as the split second of eye-contact you make with your boss every time you exit a Zoom meeting.

Push-Up Challenge

“See 10, do 10?” Yeah, I’m good thanks. I haven’t done a push-up since I was forced to for the fitness test in elementary school, and I won’t be picking those back up because someone tagged me in an Instagram story.

Tiger King

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🍿🍿🍿 [twitter: ericonederful]

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The memory of Tiger King feels like a fever dream. Like, we were really so desperate for entertainment at that point that we just ate that sh*t up and said “NEXT, PLEASE.” It’s kind of incredible that we got desensitized to the absurdity of every single event that happened in that series so quickly. But given how f*cked up everything has become since then, it was good preparation for coping with the rest of the year.

Zoom Happy Hours

if you're still scheduling 14 zoom happy hours every weekend you can chill, we all just want to sleep

— Betches (@betchesluvthis) April 24, 2020

Realizing that having a Zoom happy hour every night of the week does not make up for real-life interaction was a breakthrough that took longer than it should have. Playing drinking games at home is fun when you have somewhere to go afterward, not when you’ll just be sitting in your childhood bedroom, totally wasted, after you shut your laptop.

The “One New Thing A Day” Phase

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who started quarantine by saying “I’ll be making one new cocktail a day!” or “Every day I’m going to make one new piece of art!” Where’d they go? Last I heard from them it was day 14 I think. Are they okay?

Instagram challenges and TikTok trends will come and go, but you know what will never go out of style? Wearing a f*cking mask.

Images: Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash; bigkidproblems / Instagram; betchesluvthis / Twitter 

Why I Cut Out Friends Who Don’t Take COVID Seriously

“I have some news,” my dad tells me on our morning call, “my mother died.” 

I immediately stop pouring my coffee and take him off speakerphone. 

“Wait, what?” 

My father goes on to tell me that she passed away earlier that morning in her London apartment and that he would send me the Zoom funeral information when he had it. I then ask my dad the question that I’m sure many of us have been asking a lot more these last few months, the question that can change a 10-minute chat into a 3-hour conversation, the most important question at this time: “Are you okay?” 

“Yeah,” he says, “I’m fine.” 

Back in November, my dad had to have his leg amputated. There are no words to describe the agonizing fear of waiting for the doctors to give you updates or trying to memorize every word and sound of your parent’s voice as they are being wheeled into surgery because, hey, it may be the last time you hear them say “I love you.” After three major operations, he has been recuperating and learning his new normal, including walking with a prosthetic. When COVID-19 hit the rehabilitation home where he is currently residing, they immediately followed protocol and shut down. I haven’t hugged my dad since my visit to the Bay Area over the holidays and now, when I visit from Los Angeles, I stand outside his window to see him. These last couple of visits, I’ve wondered, “when will I hug my dad again?” and when a parent loses a parent, it’s the harsh reminder that we don’t get to keep ours forever, either. 

This pandemic hasn’t gotten under control because many believe that doing things such as wearing a mask when around others, staying home, and practicing social distancing will lead to the virus controlling their freedom. Thanks to social media, I’ve learned that some of these people aren’t just people on the internet—some were part of my inner circle.

When a friend asked me what I was doing for the 4th of July, I told them there were many reasons why I didn’t feel like being patriotic, but more importantly, I want to see my loved ones without the fear of getting them sick. When I asked this friend what their plans were, they told me they were driving from our state, California, to another high-case state. After reassuring me that they weren’t one of those people who don’t believe in masks, they stated that they were skeptical about the vaccine based on their own knowledge and research of epidemiology. They then stated the infamous line, “We can’t live in fear forever.” For the record, this person is not a doctor. 

Now, I am all for questioning authority, but when things are uncertain and peoples’ lives are at risk, I am not one to put my opinion and assessment over facts and numbers. I did express to this friend that their decision saddened me, and although I do know they understood where I was coming from after almost losing a parent, I can’t be the only one whose friendships have changed or have ended during this unpredictable chapter. 

I compare the decisions we make during this time to drinking and driving. Sometimes people get away with it, so they don’t think anything of it. But not getting caught doesn’t make it right. Also, what happens when you hit another car and hurt someone, let alone kill them? What if your decision hurts or kills the passengers in your car? Then your judgment, your decision, has severely impacted someone else—how can someone be okay with this?   

I spent my July 4th by the pool alone, drinking piña coladas, FaceTiming friends and family, and of course, watching everyone’s Instagram stories. The IG stories I saw ranged from people secluded among small groups in other parts of the United States, to the politically slanted “If you don’t celebrate today, it defeats the purpose of this day” rants. I unfollowed and deleted and kept telling myself a quote a former colleague once told me: “Don’t you just love when the trash takes itself out?” 

It’s incredible how a pandemic that has asked us to simply wear a mask when around others and to stay home has revealed who people truly are. My grandmother hid from the Nazis during World War II in Holland when she was eight years old. Having a gas mask was a luxury—it meant you had a chance at survival. She didn’t have an iPhone to FaceTime her parents that she was separated from. I mean, hell, she didn’t even have food—she lived off tulip bulbs. But sure, tell me more about how wearing a mask is infringing upon your life.

I am by no means an angel. I’ve received a speeding ticket, sent 3am text messages that deserve to be a meme, and, not to sound like a 45-year-old divorcée, I can be fun. I don’t take myself seriously, I’m the friend who keeps Twister and mini-beer pong on hand “just in case” and has a small reputation of being a bit of a wild child. I have managed to safely hang out with a couple of friends outside at a distance, and I will be the first to acknowledge that minimal human interaction is vital to everyone’s mental health. However, when you don’t choose to care about others’ health, others’ lives and your behavior is delaying many of us from being able to simply hug our loved ones again, amongst the many other long term effects it could have on others, then yeah… 

You and I have nothing in common. 

Images: Ranta Images / Shutterstock.com

3 Reasons Quarantine Dating Doesn’t Suck

Life under quarantine has been… an adjustment. Working from home is no longer just an excuse to book afternoon haircuts and manicures, eating and drinking occur at all hours of every day, weekends are a social construct filled with even more boredom than the work week, and bras are finally a thing of the past. But as a single woman who treats dating like a competitive sport and sex like an essential business, the biggest adjustment has been getting used to the new dating norms. Norms that can pretty much be summed up by this scene from the Emperor’s New Groove:

And surprisingly, I don’t hate it. Sure, I’d kill for even a sh*tty first date right now that included a passing thigh touch or a graze of the fingertips as I pretended to reach for the check—I’m not a robot. But, this whole dating during quarantine thing has its up-sides, and dare I say, some real potential. And here’s why:

Games Are Officially Canceled

Thoroughly disturbing and/or entirely unoriginal pandemic related pickup lines aside (see: “If COVID-19 doesn’t take you out, can I?”), I’ve seen a significant improvement in the caliber of dating app conversations since quarantine began—and weeding out the fuckboys has never been easier. I don’t know the exact cause because, just like everyone on Trump’s council to re-open America, I am not a scientist, but perhaps it’s because we have bigger things to worry about than coming off as too eager, too interested, or, god forbid, available. 

When someone asks me how I’m staying busy during quarantine:

If a guy doesn’t respond right away, we can’t talk ourselves into believing he’s busy or not looking at his phone. Everyone’s screen time has increased by 200%—if he’s not texting back, he’s just not into you. Period. Sure, quarantine ghosting is a new level of pathetic, but my anxiety is already working overtime, so freeing it from the stress of analyzing every lull in conversation has been truly liberating. 

But when they do respond, boy, does being in the midst of a global existential crisis speed things along. The guy I’m quaran-dating and I have been “seeing” each other for less than two weeks, and we’ve already discussed our childhood traumas, relationship with God (or lack thereof), and if/when we want to start a family. If I were to bring up any of these topics within the first few MONTHS of dating someone pre-pandemic, I’d see a suitor turnover rate rivaled only by that of Trump’s press secretaries.

This just hits differently now.

“Dates” Are More Creative

Without the ability to “grab a drink” with someone whose height, occupation, and general creepiness level remains a mystery, we’ve been forced to think all the way back to kindergarten and remember what it was like to have an imagination. So far my dates have included: a simple FaceTime, because love is not in fact blind and one needs to verify that they look somewhat like the photo of them traveling from five years ago; Netflix Party, which is like Netflix and Chill but not a booty call; a homemade cookie drop-off; and a socially distanced neighborhood walk while sporting 2020’s hottest fashion accessory, a face mask. 

There are honestly a lot of great options, and they all require more talking and texting than was typical of pre-pandemic dating life. I could see how this would be frustrating for people whose main personality trait is being hot, but I am thriving. Because I’ve always been better in writing, there’s nothing better than a dating life that revolves around witty banter and making light of a global pandemic.

 

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Is the cast of Too Hot To Handle ok? (Read our breakdown at link in bio or https://betches.co/thth) credit/permission: @wittyidiot

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Sex Is Off The Table

We’re all basically living in Too Hot To Handle right now, like it or not. I thought this would send me, in solidarity with our economy, into a Great Depression—but it’s actually been quite therapeutic. Historically, my sense of self-worth has been toxically linked to actively getting laid, often leaving me to cling to physical relationships at the expense of my emotional well-being. Don’t worry, like every good millennial, I’m working through this with my therapist. But quarantine dating has been more effective (and cheaper) than the hours I’ve spent dissecting my attachment and abandonment issues with a licensed professional. 

LOL I wish

My quarantine boyfriend (which I realize is a stretch, but what else am I supposed to call him?) and I are not having sex, and it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with putting our health and safety first. I feel wanted because yes, he finds me attractive—but also because I’m smart, funny, and entertaining. I know he wants to sleep with me, because what else are single guys in quarantine thinking about? But by not actually having sex, I feel sexier and more confident than I have in quite some time. I am in no way supporting abstinence as an actual long-term choice. I will 100% be having sex (hopefully with quarantine boyfriend), the minute it is safe to do so. But I am thankful, at least right now, for the ability to separate sex from emotional connection, and my self-esteem. And vibrators, I’m also thankful for vibrators.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a state of dating that I could maintain forever. If fall rolls in and I still haven’t been touched by a man, the VR industry better speed the f*ck up and figure out a way for us to live in the Sims. But I do think regular life dating can learn a lot from quarantine dating, and even once we are able to “grab a drink” mere seconds after matching on Ship, I will never again be turned off by the idea of a phone call first. 

Images: Shutterstock