A Real 30-Something Response to Huff Post’s “25 Things a Woman Should Have by Her 30’s.”

As a woman in her thirties often does, I was perusing the blogs over my morning cup of espresso when I came across an article written by Ada Polla for the Huffington Post, titled “25 Things a Woman Should Have by Her 30’s.” For obvious reasons, I was intrigued and read on. Had I known what was going to be on the list and how it was really going to make me feel, I would have finished my espresso and started drinking wine instead.

The list did not make me feel bad about myself, rather I felt baffled and perhaps some morning wine would have brought me um… some clarity? I kept thinking, “Do most women in their 30’s have most of the 25 items mentioned on the list?” Out of 25, I had 11.5. I gave myself half points for having part of something such as, “the ability to write a thank you note,” but not owning any stationary to do it on. (Does a drawer full of scratch paper count as stationary?)

I write a blog about the 30-something female experience and I scored less than fifty percent on what a 30-something woman should have, and on a deeper level, according to Ada Polla, be! Upon further study of the list, I noticed that I had most of the internal and psychological attributes mentioned. For example, I have “The ability to flirt, elegantly, yet convincingly,” but I don’t have “A handbag from an iconic French or Italian design house.” I have “The confidence to say no. At work. In bed. And everywhere in between,” but I don’t have “Eye cream that you use religiously twice a day.”

Being a woman in most societies in the world is difficult enough without the added pressures of living up to unrealistic expectations, propagated by lists that give the same value to “A family you love,” and “A signature fragrance.” Ada Polla would have done more justice to her 30-something sisters by making two lists: one that celebrated the emotional and psychological maturity of 30-somethings, and one that recommended the material possessions and beauty regimes that make her in particular, feel fabulous at 30. By removing the word “Should” from the title of her list and replacing it with something more positive like “Aspire,” she would have empowered her readers, rather than confounding them.

Ada Polla’s list of “25 Things a Woman Should Have by Her 30’s.”

1. A passport (the more stamps the better).
2. The ability to flirt, elegantly, yet convincingly.
3. A great aesthetician to turn to for brows, other waxing needs, a facial, a massage.
4. A fail-safe skin care and makeup routine for day, and one for evening.
5. A signature fragrance.
6. A form of physical exercise you are passionate about.
7. A friend who can count on you as her “get out of jail” card.
8. A set of champagne glasses and a champagne you know you love.
9. A handbag from an iconic French or Italian design house.
10. A set of pearl or diamond stud earrings that makes you feel elegant and put together no matter the tears in your jeans.
11. A pair of jeans you know you look great in (with or without tears).
12. A garter-belt, and the confidence to wear it.
13. The ability to write the perfect thank-you note (and the stationery that goes with it).
14. Eye cream that you use religiously twice a day.
15. Something on your wall that is neither a poster nor a family photograph.
16. The ability to forgive (others, but yourself first).
17. A family you love.
18. The confidence to ask for what pleases you in bed.
19. The confidence to say no. At work. In bed. And everywhere in between.
20. A savings account and a retirement fund.
21. A local bar that will always find you a seat (because you go there often and tip well).
22. A restaurant you can take clients out to lunch that will always give you excellent service and act like they know you (again, because you go there often and tip well).
23. A set of stilettos that will give you confidence no matter the day you have had (and that you can walk in).
24. A person whose happiness you put above your own.
25. A bucket list.

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf 

Los Angeles Arts District- Barcade, Sausage & Pie

The city and I have a love hate relationship. Sometimes I contemplate what it would be like to part ways and live in a much quieter town, a place where traffic and graffiti are considered big city problems and where space is in abundance. I imagine rolling hills, bike riding through the countryside and meeting up with my neighbors in the town square. It is a very seductive image until I think, “What the heck would I do for fun?!”

Big cities come with big amenities, and that is where the love part comes in. I love Los Angeles because even if it takes me way too long to get anywhere, I can go see and do anything any day of the week. With a little bit of effort, fun is easy to find in LA, but sometimes, if you have great friends, fun will find you.

This past weekend I was taken on a Saturday afternoon adventure. We were picked up and carted to an unknown destination. We drove towards Downtown. Round and round we went through a very desolate part of town due to an unexpected detour. We eventually emerged in the Arts District and parked in front of a purple and aqua colored mural. Our friend handed us a roll of quarters and triumphantly announced, (for we still didn’t know where we were since there was not signage), that we were at the “Barcade!”

cocktails at 82 in Los Angeles82 on 4th place in the LA Arts District, is an arcade for adults. It carries all of the classic arcade games like Mario Brothers, Street Fighter and Ms. Pac Man, but let’s patrons reminisce about their childhood arcade victories, all while sipping on very adult cocktails. Their cocktail list features drinks like the Tempest, which was so eloquently described by the bartender as “if a Margarita and a Mojito had a baby, it would be the Tempest.” She was right, refreshing and delicious, we wanted more. We also tried the Princess Peach, which was the epitome of a girly drink. It was pink and fruity and so dangerous. My roll of quarters is usually reserved for a Saturday afternoon at the Laundromat, not an afternoon at the Barcade so I welcomed the change. (Pun totally intended.)

LA Arts District Barcade82 is on a food truck route in the evening but not in the early afternoon, so for lunch we walked around the corner to Wurstkuche, home of the weird and tasty sausage. Weird like Alligator, Rabbit and to some, Vegan, but all properly prepared and served on a fresh bun. We got steak cut seasoned fries on the side and washed it all down with a German Pilsner, perfect for the hot afternoon.

LA Arts District Pie Hole And because gluttony was part of the Saturday afternoon surprise, we walked across the street to the Pie Hole for dessert. Oh The Pie Hole… I love pastries. I love savory pastries. The Pie Hole has this and every other type of pie one can think of.  

I left the Arts District that afternoon full, tipsy, happy and feeling completely validated, knowing that this is why I continue to live in L.A. 

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

I’m Not a Rebel, I just Can’t Be Bothered

Apparently I'm wrong. There are tons of books called a Guide to Life. Oh well, CBB.

Apparently I’m wrong. There are tons of books called a Guide to Life. Oh well, CBB.

There is no official guidebook to life and thank God for that because if there was, I would probably not be following it. I am notoriously bad at following recipes and instruction manuals. I cannot build furniture or puzzles. I can’t even really read or follow a map. Let me clarify. It’s not that I can’t, it’s that I am CBB. (Pronounced in Spanish with a California Valley Girl accent, CeiBayBay.)

 CBB stands for Can’t Be Bothered, and it is a life philosophy my friends and I adopted way back in our early twenties, when we could afford to be CBB about lots and lots of things. For example, we would show up late, or not at all to an event and say something like “Sorry, CBB.” It is an adjective, a state of being and an excuse.

 As a woman in her thirties I cannot just be CBB about anything anymore, so I choose wisely. What I am CBB about now, is prescribing to societal expectations of who I should be or already be as a woman in her thirties. Society says that I should have my life pretty much figured out by now and that if I don’t, something must be wrong with me. I should have a steady career with benefits, and a 401K. I should have a husband some kids and a couples date night. I should own some property. I should look a certain way, dress a certain way and have the right status symbols to show off to the world. To all of these “shoulds” I say a loud capital letter “CBB!” (Just writing it feels empowering.)

 I just can’t be bothered to do the supposed “right” things. To be honest, sometimes I wish I could find happiness in convention. It would make life so much easier if I could be fulfilled by what society tells me I should be fulfilled by, whether that be status, money or career trajectory. If I could only follow the road map that we are all supposed to be following, perhaps then I would stop questioning every decision I make.

I don’t know many people who are on track with societal expectations. In fact, most everyone I know is paving their own way and reaching the milestones of adulthood in their own time. Despite this sense of independence though, (and I am certainly not alone in this), I have also experienced a feeling of inadequacy that comes not from comparing myself to my peer group, but from comparing myself to the dreaded society, (whoever that may be.) Sometimes, no matter how CBB I am, I can’t help seeing if the progress I have made, measures up to some ideal that has not existed since my parents were my age. It is a different world and perhaps it isn’t me that is weird or unconventional, but society’s expectation of what it means to be a thirty-something that is outdated and old fashioned.

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf 

 

“I’m too old for this $#!^”

It was the day after the super moon phenomenon of 2014 and a group of thirty something friends sat around the patio completely satiated. Homemade Mexican food had been served and devoured and all wore beer induced grins. It was a lovely way to spend a summer evening. It was all quite normal and familiar when the conversation took a sudden turn. Music from the 90’s had played commercial free on one of those Digital TV channels and all night the phrase “I love that song,” could be heard. Song after song, we listened to the passing of our childhoods but instead of feeling old, we must have all felt rejuvenated because at one point somebody said, “I would love to take a Hip Hop class,” and we all agreed.

We imagined ourselves in class finally making our Fly Girl fantasies come true. Except it’s not the 1990’s anymore, Hip Hop dance and music has changed a great deal since we were kids, and people might not remember who the Fly Girls were, or that J-Lo had once been the very best of them. Oh yeah, we also realized that we are old! We had a great laugh about how funny it would be to go to a Hip Hop class as women in our thirties, dressed like Fly Girls and actually taking ourselves and our dancing very seriously.

I guess that is what happens right? At a certain point, we start to outgrow certain things, activities and even people, and it takes a lot of grace and self-awareness to realize it before actually showing up to a Hip Hop class.

In the fourth season of “How I Met Your Mother,” Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, comes up with the Murtaugh List, which is basically a compilation of things he is too old to do. In typical Barney fashion he states, “challenge accepted,” and proceeds to try to accomplish everything on the list within the span of 24 hours. It is comical because it is relatable.

The list references Robert Murtaugh, Danny Glover’s character in “Lethal Weapon,” who is constantly saying that he is “too old for this shit,” and while I tend to feel youthful, I have found myself stating this very phrase more often than not. I don’t have my own Murtaugh list yet, but when I do, going to Hip Hop dance class will definitely be included.

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

Umami Burger


Umami Burgeras featured on love happy hour dot com

I first heard of the term umami while indulging in one of my many obsessions: cooking competition shows. For years I heard about umami and how it was considered one of the five basic flavors, for the receptors of the tongue are able to taste salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. Often described as a combination between savory and earthy, when referring to Umami Burger, I will describe it as delicious smothered with a little bit of heaven. I think I shed a small tear of happiness as I bit into one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years now so finding a meatless burger that absolutely blows my mind and erases memories of the BBQs of my past, is quite impressive. What could make this scenario better? Happy Hour!

 I was completely surprised to find out that Umami Burger serves up their delicious signature burgers at 15 southern California locations. How had I missed it all of these years, especially since last summer on Friday afternoons, I would walk by the Los Feliz location. I would see people eating and drinking on the sidewalk patio and imagine that this is where I was headed instead of actually heading to work. I would notice the Happy Hour specials written on the chalkboard in front of the door and grasp onto the inviting cooking smells that drifted off of people’s plates and onto the street. I kept meaning to get there earlier and sit at the bar to grab some dinner before my show, but of course I never got out of the house in time.

 umami burger review on www.her30s.com

A year later and still missing out on the burger that would raise the bar for all other burgers to follow, I had totally forgotten about my Umami Burger fantasy. This is why I was so excited when some friends suggested we meet up at Umami and as I stated earlier, I was not disappointed.

umami burger on los felizThe Los Feliz location hosts Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 at the bar. (Not all of the Umami Burger locations have Happy Hour so call ahead before heading out.) Their specials include $6 burgers that can be served meatless or bun less by request. My meatless burger was not the typical veggie burger patty but instead, a giant, perfectly cooked portabella mushroom served on a brioche bun and topped with truffle cheese. My burger was the epitome of umami and now I can truly say that I understand what the big deal is with this hard to master flavor. My companions were just as impressed with their burgers. Because we love to eat and eat well, we also ordered some crispy thin cut fries at $3.50 and tempura battered onion rings at $4.50 to share. Both side dishes were outstanding.

Drinks during Happy Hour are $2 off beer and $5 wine. Umami does not have an extensive beer list but they did have a solid beer list. I had an IPA called Speakeasy Big Daddy that was just hoppy enough to stand up to the umami flavor of my portabella burger. I need to do a little more “research” at Umami, but perhaps veggie burgers and beer parings are in my future. 

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

 

 

Courage to Provoke Change: Another Thirty-Something Birthday Proclamation

It is this woman in her thirties birthday week. Yup, in just 4 days I will be staring down the at some sort of pastry, lips puckered and breath held, right before blowing out way too many candles. And what will I wish for this year as the smoke drifts aloft? (Sigh…) Too many things.

It has been a wonderful and terrible year, as most memorable years are. I haven’t had time to process everything that has occurred. I have not relished in the moments of happiness, celebrated my successes or mourned the undisputed finality of endings. I have lived, and I guess that is not a bad feeling to be left with.

It’s funny because I want to have something wise and eloquent to proclaim; a nice neat wrap up of lessons learned this year but I have nothing. Well, I guess that is not completely true. I do have one realization of the past year: The problems, unfulfilled desires and insecurities that I had in my twenties, are the same ones I’ve had in my thirties. Anything that I have not addressed persists.

Like the old saying goes, “Age ain’t nothing but a number.” Turning thirty did not automatically erase my problems or fix my life. In my thirties I have felt more empowered and more in control than ever before. I have developed focus and discipline and while I have become more conscious and aware of my inner self, whatever has not been addressed is still there, gnawing at me for some attention. These issues that have followed me around for a decade have become ingrained in my identity and are almost a source of comfort. I don’t think I am alone in this either because I have seen it in others. It is very easy to take solace in the consistency and predictability of one’s issues because the opposite of this, change and challenging what has become habit, is extremely difficult and frightening.

Perhaps my grand proclamation for this year will be that I intend to work on my courage so that I can confront my problems, pursue unfulfilled desires and challenge the insecurities that I have let become a part of me. 

By: W. Castellanos-Wolf

Saying No to Working 12 Hour Days & Keeping that Vacation Feeling Alive

keeping that vacation feeling alive

www.her30s.com

We have returned home from a month abroad and while a month is not a great deal of time, it seems that life, especially here is Los Angeles, spirals at a velocity that makes a month equivalent to a year. In that month, our lives have been touched by my old friend Change and yes, I still simultaneously miss and loath him. We have been home for only a week. I haven’t even started up all of my “normal” activities like work and work and my other work, and I am already exhausted!

I was not aware of how much we work in LA until we were in Spain, and one of our friends said that in the US all we cared about was making money. I thought about what he said and prepared to argue such a generalized and bold statement, but I couldn’t. S and I are open minded, artsy, with careers in the humanities that we are definitely not involved with for their lucrative potential. We pride ourselves on being the epitome of the old cliché, “work to live, not live to work,” but what our friend said rang true. I think about money every day: the lack of, pending bills/debts to pay, “is this worth spending on?” And on rare occasions, “what am I going to treat myself to with this extra cash?” I consent that this is a very normal way to think about money in modern western culture. What is not normal, or is, but probably should not be, is how much we work in order to earn enough money to maintain a certain lifestyle.

Working 12 hour days on a regular basis, going from one job to the next, even on weekends has been a normal part of our lives. We are fortunate that our supplementary jobs are related to our passions, but still, never having a weekend, working long hours all of the time, that is no longer okay with me. This rant is probably inspired by a bad case of vacation withdrawals but here goes. As a woman in her thirties, I refuse to feel like I am working all of the time, (even if I am.)

I have thought about this all week. I cannot change my life drastically, quit my job and live on perpetual vacation, but I can change small aspects of how I function daily in order to keep that vacation feeling alive.

spanish breakfast

  1. On vacation I loved drinking my café con leche and tostada de tomate. I’m keeping this. It’s easy, delicious and somewhat healthy.
  2. On vacation I loved not being so dependent on the phone. I didn’t have an international data plan so I was not constantly on the internet. If I needed directions I actually spoke to a human on the street. Imagine that! I know I’ve said this before, but being so easily accessible on our very smart devises can cause stress. I do not want this stress any more.
  3. On vacation I did not miss my car at all. In fact, I forgot that I had one. I loved walking around the various cities we visited, riding the metro, and really getting to know each city by their rhythm, sites, people and smells. LA is not really conducive to walking. In fact, I think the city hates pedestrians. We have a metro/train/bus system that is okay but not great. What I have seen on the rise in the last couple of years are bike lanes and paths. I want to drive less and be outside more.
  4. On vacation I did not obsess over the calendar. I loved that feeling of freedom that comes with not having a schedule. Of course in my real life I need to have a schedule. What I do not need, is to schedule something every hour of every day. I am really making a conscious choice to spread things out throughout the week and not fill up my days entirely. If I want to keep that feeling of vacation, I have to have free time daily. This leads to the following.
  5. Do one thing at a time. I have been rushing through life making sure that everything gets done and I do not want to do that anymore. I want to enjoy my life not rush through it.
  6. On vacation I remembered that I am a priority in my own life and not an unpleasant chore.
  7. On vacation I loved the feeling of adventure I got as we discovered new places and activities. I want to continue this at home and make sure that we avoid any ruts and/or mid-life crises by being open to new experiences. 

 

Return on Investment for Fun

las vegasIt is a rare and special occasion when a group of thirty-somethings can get away, leaving family and responsibility behind and partake in drunken conversations about life that lead to sober epiphanies. These past two weekends have been these types of occasions, and while I would love to divulge the weekend’s events, girl code prohibits me from spilling all of the juicy details. What I can share though, is that as a woman in her thirties I have come to the realization that my pallet for fun has evolved. Getting stupid drunk has lost its appeal. I’m not saying it no longer happens, but it’s no longer the purpose of any outing. Now if I do end up stupid drunk, not only do I pay for it with the never ending thirty-something hangover, but I also pay for it with guilt. The voice in my head says things my parents would say except now, the voice sounds a lot like me. My internal monologue somehow makes its way through the hangover fog and reprimands me with “Really, was that worth the risk of a DUI? DUI’s are expensive!” or, “You are a grown up with responsibilities, why put yourself or anybody else at risk?” or “Don’t you feel stupid for going out pretending like you’re a kid? You are definitely not a kid anymore…”

I make promises to myself when I somehow get home safely, make the sign of the cross more out of superstition than religious beliefs, and begin what I call a “detox,” which basically consists of not drinking alcohol. I know, I sound like a full blown alcoholic. I am not, (making the sign of the cross and knocking on wood this time just in case.) Really, I take this as yet another thirty-something realization, another sign of growing up. My definition of fun has to change and the return on investment for fun can no longer be higher than the actual fun itself.

So how did I come to this conclusion? Well, it all started with Las Vegas for my friend’s wedding, continued the following weekend with me back in Los Angeles at Griffith Park, laying on a bench at the Old Zoo Picnic area for a birthday party, and ended with me sitting on the couch at home, live guitar playing, and me zoning out while scrolling through all of the Netflix rows for about an hour without actually ever watching anything. Yeah. Go ahead. Make assumptions.

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Sometimes I Miss Being a Selfish & Self-Centered Twenty-Something

www.her30s.com

It is the curse of the dynamic woman in her thirties to live in a state of perpetual exhaustion. It’s not that we are now older and do not have the required energy to keep up with the pace of our lives. It is the opposite. I attribute this exhaustion to being so fabulous at life, that we have made ourselves indispensable. Career, family and personal life, (a thirty-something’s version of the holy trinity), come together on a daily basis and demands our undivided devotion.

exhauste thirty-something womanAs a woman in her thirties, I am very much in demand and it is this, being needed and the responsibilities that accompany it, that I struggle with. I am not complaining, but sometimes, in a fortunate moment of solitude and silence, I indulge in nostalgia and reminisce on days long gone. Days when I was the only person I answered to, took care of, or took into consideration. That state of selfish abandon that is inherent to the twenty-something experience beckons me with the allure of a distant friend. I miss being selfish. Yet at the same time, I feel fortunate knowing that my life has a higher purpose and that I can affect the people around me in a positive manner. Again, that struggle for the ever elusive balance, the theme of my thirties, is what I am challenged with daily.

tired womanWould I be less exhausted if I indulged in a bit of selfishness every once in a while? Or, would I be just as exhausted or more so, by adding yet another item to my “To Do” list? I can see it now: finish project at work, pick up laundry, do something selfish. Funny part, (or maybe it’s the sad part), is that even as I write this, I don’t even know what that would be. What would I do on a holiday from my normal life? Would I go to the Korean Spa, read a book on the beach, go shopping for items I don’t need but just want, drink really expensive wine and sing Billie Holiday’s Greatest Hits out loud and all by myself? It’s fun to imagine a day of selfishness. It feels like a vacation for my mind.

Perhaps this is all I need to remedy my case of exhaustion, a daily mental break from the constant brain churning problem solving and planning. A break to imagine myself doing something fun, just for fun.

IO West

As featured on Love Happy Hour dot com

Also visit the official Her 30’s Website

thirty-somethingOne of the reasons I love living in Los Angeles is because on any given Friday night, I can go out and discover something that will amaze me. Recently I found myself on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Ivar drinking a beer at a bar and performance space called the IO West. While I was alone waiting for my husband to arrive, I stared out the window at the scantily clad club goers, random street vendors and the last remaining summer tourist taking photos with the stars on the boulevard. The night was alive with activity both on the street and at the bar. I sipped on my cold and perfectly hoppy IPA. Young actor types and the nearly famous made up the crowd. One could feel the anticipation building in the bar/lobby of the IO for we all knew we were in for a treat. I went to order a second beer and decided to close out when I noticed that my tab was only for $10. Could it be?

thiry-something out in LAI looked around for a sign, any sign and that’s when I saw it. Not only does the IO West host some of LA’s best improv comedy shows, but it also hosts Happy Hour from 6:30 to 8:30 on Monday through Friday. I was thrilled. They had a small but varied beer list which was on special for $5, $4 Whisky and Coke, and a $7 Double Date, which I had never heard of before, but apparently consists of a can of beer and a shot of Whisky.

The IO’s Happy Hour is special because on weeknights, with a slight variance in schedule depending on the week, the bar hosts Happy Hour shows that are absolutely free. Monday night’s show is called “The Consistent Monday Improv.” On Tuesday they may have “Happy Hour Open Mic,” while on Wednesdays they have an event called the “Network Happy Hour.” Thursdays, there is usually no Happy Hour show, but on Friday they have a show called “Date Night.”

thirty-something Los AngelesThat fateful Friday night, when Happy Hour found me instead of me finding it, I was at the IO West to watch one of my favorite shows, “Opening Night, The Improvised Musical.” The show, which is now in its 15th year and has built up a great deal of industry acclaim, usually consists of 5 extremely talented triple threats. In the span of an hour or so, the troupe, fearlessly lead by Shulie Cowan, improvises an entire musical, the dancing, the singing and the story line, all based on a title that is chosen from the audience. This is a uniquely LA experience on one of the most famous boulevards in the world.

I highly recommend going to the IO on a Friday for date night, whether it’s a first date, or a couple wanting to experience something new. Have some libations on special for Happy Hour, let yourself be on the edge of your seat while you marvel at the seamless fluidity of “The Improvised Musical,” and then later, just for fun, walk the boulevard and people watch when the neighboring clubs are starting to let out for another type of late night entertainment.