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Gwen Stefani Doesn’t Even Know Me…

New Years Day 2017 began with my head in a toilet, my favorite pink polyester crop sweatshirt stained with puke in an old Target shopping bag, and ‪Gwen Stefani‬ blaring from my cell phone in a plastic Christmas mug for classy amplification. ‬‬

I had arrived.

Or so I’d thought. See, two months prior, my boyfriend of almost five years and I had broken up in “a scandal,” and I had somehow come out the good guy, the one everyone sympathized with—even though I shouldn’t have been. I‘d been a nasty, vindictive priss who’d made his life hell for months (I’m nothing if not self-aware) and I was reaping what I’d sewn.

But not only had I emerged as the good girl who’d been wronged—I was also the newly single hot chick.

“Wow, Single Jesse has so many potential suitors!” my friend from college had remarked when I called to spill the tea.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I’d replied as if bored by the whole ordeal.

But I knew it was true. Working in a close-knit performing arts community news travelled fast, “couples” were defined quickly, and everyone assumed a label: drunk, player, stoner, crazy, clinger, desperate, taken, single. It was like college.

It was like high school.

And my label had changed. I was fresh on the market, I knew it, everyone else knew it, and I was enjoying the attention—and I’ll never admit it out loud. Only here, in this random, obscure blog that doesn’t matter (that you may not “like” or “share” on Facebook, BUT THAT I KNOW FOR A FACT YOU READ BECAUSE THE VIEW COUNT DOESN’T LIE. YUP I AM MOST DEFINITELY TALKING TO YOU, SPECIFICALLY).

But yes. I loooooooved the attention. I loved being talked about, and I loved that I was finally having my crazy breakout drunken single girl phase.

And so there I was, puking in the toilet, listening to Gwen taunt me from the plastic mug: “take a chance you stupid hoe…”

…when I had the ultimate basic drunk girl moment:

OMG THIS SONG IS LIKE, MY LIFE RIGHT NOW! I SHOULD TAKE MORE CHANCES. AND I AM A STUPID HOE.

I scanned the room. Eyed the sweatshirt in its Target bag (while all the other girls had opted for semi-formal dresses and heels for the New Year’s Eve bash, I had insisted on that hot pink crop sweatshirt with the giant blinged-out mouth on the front, a black mini skirt, and chunky black boots). I’d spilled a cup of water by the bed. The curtains had been drawn to keep out the stupid f***ing sun.

I’d made out with the guy I wasn’t supposed to make out with for the upteenth time. I took shots from anyone who gave them to me, even though I had built up exactly ZERO tolerance and was a complete lightweight. My best friend at the party had to situate me in an Uber and make me promise not to puke (I was only now remembering as I came across the Venmo I’d sent him ‪at 4:00am‬…or that he had sent himself from my phone after he put me to bed).‬‬

It occurred to me that I was a 25 year-old “Tik-Tok” Ke$ha.

And it probably wasn’t as cute as I thought it was.

But still, for whatever reason…maybe it was ‪Gwen Stefani‬ repeatedly asking me what I was waiting for and calling me a stupid hoe? Maybe I was still a little drunk? Or maybe (most likely), I was still just hurt enough over my break-up to think, “nope. This is the right thing. 2017 is MY year to be a hot single mess. I’m on the RIGHT track.”‬‬

Ha. Right track, my ass.

While my “hot single mess” year was not nearly as bad as it could have been (or as pukey as it began), it was messy enough to make me feel not good about myself. To give me some cringe-worthy memories. To have me barking up all the wrong trees as far as dating, looking for happiness in all the wrong places, and ultimately ending said year by walking out of a job in the middle of the day and leaving town.

The infamous pink mouth sweatshirt. Stain-free since 2017.

So, naturally of course, I decided that 2018 was the year I’d really, really have it all together. Everything was going to fall into place in 2018. Everything was going to make sense. Success was imminent! The universe would deliver!

While I wouldn’t say the year’s been a total wash, I would say I made a BUTT-load of pretty significant mistakes. I know we are supposed to make mistakes, and I know as long as we learn from them, they’re supposedly a-okay. But what bothers me about these mistakes is that they all came about as a result of the following:

I ignored my conscience, my instincts, and my gut more in 2018 than in any other year I can remember.

I said “f**k you, Jiminy Cricket, I’m just gonna go along with this a while longer even though everything in me is screaming that it’s probably wrong for me.”

No bueno.

As we approach a new year, I can feel my OCD-control gears turning, saying “this is the year we have to X or Y or Z! You have to make a plan! Label this year!” I think it also has to do with feeling like I’m on borrowed time; like, I was really, really sick, and still have health issues so I feel like I gotta make every year a freaking milestone year because I’m on borrowed time and could kick it tomorrow? Ya know? I guess I pressure myself to figure out how each year will sit on the timeline. Gotta have my “hot mess” phase, I gotta have my “getting it together” phase. I gotta get on the right track!

So I’ve decided this year that I’m just not gonna. No tracks this year. I’m not making this the year of anything. No time constraints. No resolutions. Nothing—because there is just no way of knowing what’s coming down the pike.

I make no promises, and I have no expectations.

I’m telling myself the only thing I need to do this year is be kind to others (and to myself) and keep up with my responsibilities. But to put any other parameters on it feels false.

I don’t vow to be more or do more of anything.

Maybe that sounds lazy. But I really don’t care.

I have a short list of things I’d like to do in 2019. I’d like to play my new oboe a lot. I’d like to find good help in New York for my OCD (and for maybe figuring out how to trust my gut a little bit more). I’d like to travel to a new city. I’d like to volunteer in some way. And I’d like to write in this blog more than once every other month or so.

But there will be no rules. And if those things don’t happen, then oh well. There’s next year. Or maybe there’s not. Either way…

It’s just 2019 and I’m going to take it as it comes. I might have hot mess moments, and I might have getting it together moments—and maybe at the END of the year I’ll be able to say…”yeah, this was the year I really BLANK and it was definitely the year of BLANK.”

But right now, this is just the year I have a year.

Go have a year!

Jesse

By Jesse Pardee

Stream of consciousness blather about my blackheads and mindfulness quest.