What am I, an idiot? You don't get all my personal info by just flashing a plastic sports tumbler in my face. I demanded a bottle opener key chain as well. And just like that, I was granted permission for what would be 10 years of irresponsible spending.
I grew up in a cash-only house. My parents are typical immigrants: frugal, cautious and very weary of "the man." My mom is a coupon-clipping queen (if any morning TV show producers are reading this, book my mom as a guest! She can kick the butt of any of your previously featured bargain experts) who every Jan. 31 rings in the new year counting down the thousands of dollars she saved at the grocery store.
My dad unnecessarily worked three jobs, owns property, and will still pull the car over to collect a can abandoned on the side of the road justifying an illegal u-turn with "Hey! It's five cents! What, am I gonna just leave it there?" There was no such thing as "credit" to my parents, you used only what you had and that was that.
Today, most of my fellow 25–35 year old friends have at one time or another been in credit card debt. For me, my most fruitless spending happen when I lived in Los Angeles. I was a young college graduate certain that stardom was in the very near future. I could have done what many others did, lived at home for a few years, gotten a job, paid off my bills, then moved across the country. But no, I needed to go NOW! In L.A., I opted for freelance work, so I could, ya know, work on my career (tan). I wanted to save my gas for the essentials like cover charges and weed, so I charged anything that was chargeable: gas, groceries, and trips to Vegas. It's OK, I was going to be rich, remember.
What I failed to remember was that credit cards equal interest rates and late payments. My stupidity paired with delusional ideas of wealth and how to achieve it, led me to eventually spend thousands of dollars I did not have. Or as my friend once described credit cards "you're spending future earnings."
Oh man, earnings? When you're in debt, nothing feels earned but rather everything feels owed.
After lots and lots of crying paired with lamenting over the disgusting amount of Urban Outfitters whatnot I just had to purchase I called a debt counselor who advised me call my credit card company and ask about their "balance liquidation program."
Balance liquidation is what some credit card companies offer customers going through financial hardships and offers a way to pay down your debt without paying interest. I never knew such a think existed nor did I realize how easy it was to use this service. I simply called my credit card company, told them I was broke and was having trouble paying my bill. Together, me and my new best friend in customer service came up with a payment plan, in order to stay on the program I'd have to make the minimum payment each month ever missing two payments in a row. The other rule, no more credit.
When you sign up for balance liquidation your card is shut off, which makes sense since if you need a balance liquidation program, you clearly should not have access to credit. At first living without my trusted back-up plan was rough, but after a while living without credit became one of the best things that happen to me, teaching me some wonderful things about money and responsible spending.
1) I really don't need much. When I had a credit card to use it was easy to convince myself I needed stuff, a manicure, a plane ticket to Florida, a third glass of wine. Those aren't needs, those are treats. I needed to treat myself the way I treat my dog, doggy does good (gets a job) doggy gets a treat (a $10 ten minute chair massage? Don't mind if I do), doggy does bad (what do you mean you forgot to show up to your temp job?) doggy does not get a treat (put down the Forever 21 dress NOW). I survived fine without all my "needs" and even when I did have some extra cash I found myself opting to paint my own nails or grab a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. The habit of spending wisely was starting to stick!
2) Stuff adds up. Paying in cash really shows you how much you're spending/wasting. When I'd charge things, $5 here, $7 there I kept justifying it by telling myself "it's only a few dollars" but when all you have in your wallet is actually a few dollars you're way less likely to spend those precious bills. All that "value of a dollar" talk you hear, it's got a point. A really good point.
3) I like money. Without the safety of a credit card I found myself hustling even harder for work. In the past I may have turned down a side gig because I was too busy (it's so-and-so big b-day party!) or had too much of an ego (I'm artist, I don't do filing) but nix the plastic and suddenly I'm happy to cover the reception desk at 7 am. Before long, work I actually wanted began to flow my way because I was giving off productive, opportunity seeking energy. Now, one year after shutting down my card, I actually have a savings account! At a bank! With like money in it!
4) Be in the moment. Credit cards take you out of the present, they allow you to worry about it later and regret decisions from before. When you don't have a credit card you are forced to think about the present moment, what do I do right now? If I spend on this, can I then afford that? If I save this much every week in X amount of weeks can I afford Y? No longer did I fantasize about my future life of wealth, instead I focused on my present life of budgeting, downsizing, and investing.
5) I hate credit cards. Thanks to the balance liquidation program I have successfully paid down a fantastic portion of my card and plan to be totally paid off within the year. My credit card company has been surprisingly understanding and helpful in helping me achieve a debt-free life and for that I am grateful. However, I still hate credit cards. It wasn't until 2010 that a law was passed changing the age in which one could obtain a credit card from 18 to 21. Had that law been in effect back when I was a dumb teen maybe I wouldn't have become such a dumb adult (when it comes to money, in all other areas I think I'm pretty smart). While I understand that credit cards can help build good credit, provide emergency funding, and give you airline miles, overall I am not a fan. They build a false sense of security and have caused more stress in my life than expected (I used to charge yoga classes. 10 years and at 14 percent interest rate later those stress reducing $15 classes cost me to almost have a heart attack). The fact that I am doing okay without a credit card assures me that I can live without a credit card, which is just what I plan to do (unless I use it for reward points and pay it off immediately).
While being without a credit card hasn't been easy it's been a necessary change in my life. If I can do it, you can do it too. Now raise your right hand and say it with me: I promise to never fall victim to the lure of dreamy credit cards again no matter how many plastic sports tumblers or bottle opener key chains they try to give me.
But Giulia, what if they toss in an XL white T-shirt with their bank logo on it?
As glorious as that sounds, I'm going to use only what I have and that is that.
Giulia Rozzi is a New York City–based comedian, actress and writer currently at work on a memoir.
Nice work Candie's! Also nice, the fact that Candie's is all "Don't have sex!" yet their ads are all "Look, we're sexy ladies being sexual and making you want to have sexy sex with our sexy sex-craving sexual bodies."
I don't get it. Candie's has a foundation that tries to motivate teens not to have sex, yet they have shoe ads that motivate teens to get it on. Why not just toss a cardigan on your shoe models and hope for the best rather than paying the "courageous and powerful," already-wealthy, already-a-mom Bristol Palin a quarter-million dollars to be the spokesperson for not getting knocked up?
Candie's defended itself by saying "research conducted with Seventeen magazine found that teen girls who have been exposed to the foundation and its messages are more likely to view teen pregnancy and parenthood as stressful and something to avoid." Super! Now can we conduct some research on teens who have been exposed to ads like these?
First up, co-ed showering! How does this make teens feel? I'm gonna guess ... turned on. Or perhaps confused as to why Sugar Ray is now hosting Extra. (If you look closely, you can see his tramp stamp).
This ad (which was actually banned from TV): Did teens see it and think, Sex looks bad!, or did it make them want to have sex with Samanthaaaaaa?
Next up, Britney Spears print ads for Candie's at Kohl's. (Check out the Candie's collection of Junior G-strings exclusively at Kohl's. Ahem, JUNIOR G-STRINGS.) Here is a behind-the-scenes exclusive from Brit's panty-riffic photo shoot. Be warned, kiddies, this teeny yellow lace bra and bottoms is NOT made for banging your boyfriend after the prom. This outfit is made for staying chaste and going to church.
Hayden Panettiere shot these "I'm just a sultry, vulnerable schoolgirl leaning over a piano, who knows what could happen?" shots when she was 18, which meant it was (is) totes legal for dudes to be turned on. Sweet!
And there are plenty more ads made by a company promoting abstinence while selling sex (including my personal favorite: this Vanessa Carlton one where she looks like she just walked 'A Thousand Miles' home after getting beaten up by her pimp).
Look, I'm all for preventing teen pregnancies. I understand the point the Palin ad was trying to make. And I have no issue with sexy advertising. Heck, I dig some of Candie's cute products. But I'm not a fan of hypocrisy. I just don't understand how a company can shoot Jenny McCarthy on a toilet with her panties around her ankles and then shoot her in this:
Instead of tossing those teens a baby, Candie's should toss them a condom or a pamphlet about safe sex -- or do what they promised and toss teen moms a fair portion of Bristol's salary.
Pretty amazing, right? Makes you think anything is possible ... even gender equality. See, yesterday was the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day and while women's rights have come far, we still have a ways to go. So if we can figure out how to make a house fly -- just because we can -- it got us wondering: How hard can it be to...
1) Create birth control for men
At 8 p.m. every night my phone alarm reminds me to pop a synthetic pill so that I don't have a kid. So I don't have a kid, not so he doesn't have a kid -- me! At the end of the day the one with the womb is (usually) the one responsible for preventing unwanted pregnancy (and the one judged for choosing what to do with that pregnancy). Instead of us gals having to be the only ones responsible for taking hormones, wearing patches, and shoving IUD's in our bodies (and paying up to $1,000 a year for it) it would be nice if there were some similar options for guys (beyond the "it doesn't feel as good" condom). If modern medicine can come up with multiple ways for women to ingest birth control, how hard can it be for them to come up with one option for men?
2) Offer maternity leave equivalent to other developed countries
In the Czech Republic, mothers stay at home for three years with every child (fathers can also take leave instead of moms) and are partially paid. In Sweden all working parents are entitled to 16 months paid leave per child. In Canada, parents are given 10 to 35 paid weeks of leave. In the United States, however, there is no mandated parental leave, just 12 weeks of unpaid maternal leave. (More international facts & figures here). If other countries can figure out a way to pay parents to be parents, how hard can it be for "the greatest country in the world" to come up with a better maternity leave system for women?
Why is that only dudes need some help getting their mojo going, meanwhile ladies are left with vibrating condoms for a quick fix? If the medical world can find a way to help men, how hard (heh!) can it be to create female Viagra?
Women come in all shapes in sizes, except on the runway. When a model is above a size 4 she's "plus-size." (What does this say about gals who size 12 or higher? They are supersized? Double-value-meal-sized? Gross!) We get it -- clothes look good on a hanger, blah blah, but WOMEN ARE NOT HANGERS! Give us some diversity, give us some something we can all relate to, give us some plus, minus and middle sizes! While it's great that Spanish authorities require runway models who are 5-foot-9 to weigh a minimum of 125 pounds, it would be even better if all runway shows required models vary in height and weight. How hard can it be to change the modeling industry norm?
5) Pay women the same amount as men
Sometimes it feels like the Equal Pay Act in 1963 was a hoax. Forty-eight years later, women are still making less doing the same jobs as men. On average ladies are paid only 78 percent of what men are paid. Let me repeat, FOR THE SAME JOBS! How hard can it be to have equal wages for men and women?
According to RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8 percent completed rape; 2.8 percent attempted rape). That's 17.7 million women. The fact that sexual assault against women has been so discussed and analyzed for so long, yet the stats don't seem to get better makes me feel like rape has just become an acceptable risk that comes with being a woman. We need to learn to be careful at night, we need to learn how to dress safely, we have to take self-defense classes -- please! Women aren't the ones who need to learn more ways in which rape is our issue to resolve. How about teaching men proper, non-scary ways to interact with women? How about keeping their mouths shut and not following us home when we walk by in a skirt? How about NOT RAPING? At a young age we should be teaching prevention to men and not just protection to women. The same way Will.I.Am appeared as a hologram on CNN I wish the mom/sister/daughter of the perp would magically appear at the scene of the crime right as he was about to do the unthinkable. Perhaps seeing a woman he loves would make him think twice about violating another woman. How hard can it be to teach prevention and end sexual assault?
Chris Brown beats up Rhianna. What happens? His song "Forever" is played by every wedding DJ in the country (hello? why would anyone play a song by an abuser at their wedding?!) and he is invited to be the musical act on Saturday Night Live. It's been documented that Charlie Sheen has hit and/or threatened to kill his exes. What happens? We cheer for his insane "Bring it" bullsh*t, and it's not until he makes an alleged racial remark against "Two and a Half Men" executive producer Chuck Lorre that Sheen is reprimanded, rather when he throws a chair at his ex-wife. OJ Simpson kills his wife. What happens next? He gets a book deal and doesn't go to jail for murder but rather for armed robbery in 2007. As I mentioned regarding rape in #6, is the threat of domestic violence another acceptable hazard of being a woman? It sure seems that way since we seem to so easily forgive and forget abusers, that is until they do something else naughty (aka boys, go on and hit your ladies! Just don't insult a Jewish guy!) How hard can it be to support victims and punish victimizers?
8) Stop making women feel like sluts for being sexual
All right everyone, time to get over the Madonna/Whore Complex nonsense. Newsflash: Women like sex. Women are sexual beings just like men, yet since the beginning of time, women + sex = slut, while men + sex= stud. It's 2011 and, yes, women own their sexuality more than ever, but slut-shaming (attacking women for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings) still runs rampant. How hard can it be to end the sexual double standard?
9) Protect women's health
It's no secret, conservatives are waging a war on women's health. They have targeted Planned Parenthood as some evil abortion factory, when it's actually a vital nationwide system that supports low-income women in family planning, obtaining contraceptives, and accessing affordable medical care. They also cut $1 billion from Head Start's budget, meaning 157,000 children may go without preschool care, which is super duper for moms! Oh and they are trying to redefine rape. (Read about these things here). So let me get this straight, they want to take away family planning services but are also against unwed mothers? (Mike Huckabee slams Natalie Portman? Yet Bristol Palin is totes cool!) How hard can it be to protect women's health?
10) Replace segregation with equal integration
Today I'm off to Boston for the wonderful Women In Comedy Festival. I write for an awesome women's comedy blog. I support female- focused and produced projects. I love supporting women in my field! At the same time, I often feel like I'm trapped in what I call the "Miss Black USA" conundrum. As a kid when I saw ads for Miss Black USA I'd wonder "does making a special competition for black women empower black women or cause more of a racial divide?" And now I ask myself that same question when it comes to all of these gender-focused things I am a part of in my field: Do they empower women or perpetuate a separation amongst the sexes? But what are women left to do when there are not equal opportunities in their fields? Not just in comedy, but also film, engineering, advertising, sports, education and like every other field there is. This article on "how to be a girl in a boys' club" really sums this up best and offers some fabulous tips for holding your own even if you are, as my Italian immigrant mom describes it in her thick accent "the only chick among a bunch of roosters." Perhaps the best final question I can ask here is, how hard can it be to make everything in this world equal and fair? (And we haven't even touched upon issues of sexual orientation, class and race, oh my!) I know according to history, it seems pretty hard, but I'm hopeful. Let's all agree to start with simple changes within ourselves, shall we? Changing ourselves is one of the only things we have control over.
I invite you to ask your own "how hard can it be" questions in the comments ...
Meanwhile, you can see the engineers at National Geographic float their house, below:
The first time I slept over his place in the morning he made me a gorgeous egg white omelet with sprouted wheat bread, noting how every day should begin with a rich source of protein. After a few weeks of living together he asked, "so is the only exercise you do just walking?"
Then our relationship got weak, and my drinking got stronger, which didn't help my figure. By the time we broke up I was at my highest weight (20 pounds heavier than I am now. 20 pounds extra on a 5'4 frame is not cute).
And it can also be a lot harder.
Contrary to what some people may suspect, I do not get jealous of him working out with other (possibly more in shape) women. Actually I encourage him to charm the sweat hirts off the ladies to help them sign up for more sessions.
It's harder because I felt some pressure to match my man's level of leanness. PT BF never means to make me feel bad about my body, but we have had our fair share of trainer vs. non-trainer tiffs: He'd make the occasional annoying comment about what I was eating, as in, "Oh, you want pepperoni again?" which was followed by me making the occasional annoying scene: "OH, SO YOU THINK I'M FAT?!" Which I knew he did not. It was just that his overawareness of food and fitness caused him to sometimes be a health snob. And that snobbery caused me to get shy about my splurges.
Recently I ordered a pizza with a friend who was staying at our place. I joked that we needed to hide the box so the PT BF wouldn't see the evidence when he got home. He came home, saw the box and didn't care. Of course he didn't care, he's a trainer, not a psychopath! I'm actually the one who puts pressure on myself because I am in awe and often envious of his discipline. The guy can say no to a bagel! In my eyes, that makes him a hero.
While he has inspired me get healthy, I have inspired him to relax. I'd sometimes peer pressure him to eat or drink things that were clearly not part of his regime. Yes, I was willingly cutting back on bad foods and booze, but I wasn't willing to fully follow his plan either. Sorry, but I've done the hardcore diet thing before and it just makes me go bananas (ooooh, Nutella on toast with bananas. Yum!).
Being a strict eater has never worked well for me, I always end up rebelling at some point and gaining more weight then before. I wanted to develop a way of eating and exercise I could maintain forever, not just for swimsuit season.
So as time went on, PT BF loosened up. He began ordering a cocktail at dinner, enjoying a chocolate chip cookie when the desire arose, and once a week we'd go out to feast on fancy big burgers. Meanwhile I started lifting weights again, popping into spin class, and embracing the magic of portion control.
His passion for personal training paired with my calm health consciousness has turned us into a match made in balanced eating and exercise heaven. Although I'm not sure the site of him weighing chicken breasts on his food scale will ever turn me on, relationships are about unconditional love, right?
(BTW if you live in NYC and want to get fit while chatting about how much you love my blog posts, contact my buff beau at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Giulia Rozzi is a New York City–based comedian, actress and writer currently at work on a memoir. She loves pizza , sometimes loves to exercise, and definitely loves her muscular mate.
Yup, not only is MTV's hit show fabulous, mindless entertainment that we all love but don't exactly know why, it's also a self-help guide to all that matters in life!
Season one taught us about family dynamics (according to the Jersey Shore cast, family means: living in a house together, eating together, and shmushing your family members). Season two taught us all about love (Vinnie and Pauly D showed us that very special girls can be more than just a parking spot for your shlong, and Sammi and Ronnie showed us that true love is about lying in bed all day, fully clothed with your hair and make-up done and wearing huge hoop earrings. How can anyone sleep in huge hoop earrings?) And after the season 3 premiere I have already learned a thing or three about friendships and self-doubt, aka "how drunk do I have to be for people to like me?"
Last week viewers were introduced to the newest cast member Deena who expressed social anxiety saying "I'm nervous, I'm excited, and I can't wait to just like blow the f**king speakers off this house."
We've all been there, the new kid, hoping to fit in, wanting to be accepted. See? Jersey Shore isn't so far from reality; it's just that most of us deal with our self-esteem off-camera and without an insane TV salary. Nonetheless there is a message here: Deena didn't run from her fears she faced them head on and here's how.
Tip number one: drink! Deena had three shots of something before she arrived at the house. The alcohol helped her loosen up and share more like the fact that she has a vibrator with her offer to Snooki and Jwow of "if you need it." Look at that! So friendly!
A little cocktail also helped Deena's creativity and humor, which is always a great icebreaker. Deena announced to the group that she is a "blast in a glass" as well as a "walking holiday." The Situation took a social cue from Deena adding in his own humor by saying, "Deena would be Thanksgiving...she's got lots to give and she's down for a lot of stuffing." There you go! See, everyone is laughing and laughing makes for good social interactions.
Unless of course you're laughing at someone rather than with someone. Later when Sammi laughed at Deena's sloppy attempts to snuggle with The Situation, Deena called Sammi the C word (and I don't mean "cute").
This brings us to tip number two: start a fight! What better way to connect (literally) with new pals then by throwing a punch? After Deena exits Sammi, Ronnie and The Situations bedroom (did I mention the three are roomies? Oh boy!) she heads downstairs and slurs "I hope she rots in hell" followed by a few repeats of "have I done anything wrong in this house?" and about twenty repeats of "you don't talk to me!"
Deena's yelling interrupted Sammi and Ronnie's standard in-bed baby talk session in which Sammi expressed "you don't know what I'm going thru right now" followed by Ron's nonsensical response of "we've come this far and see what happens."
When Ronnie hears Deena mention his name he comes downstairs to tell Deena "this is my f**king house" even though it's really MTV's house. Sammi gets out of bed joining Ronnie's lead of angry barking. This is met by more angry barking from Deena and Snooki turning the house into a kennel, a very tan kennel. Snooki screams "even though we're tiny bitches...I don't care, I'll attack you like a squirrel monkey!" just before Jwoww swings at Sammi's face. Hooray for a group bonding activity!
While violence isn't always ideal, at least this brawl was inclusive, and feeling included is key in helping strip you of social anxiety.
And speaking of stripping, here's tip number three: get naked! Not so much in a figurative emotional way, JS means like clothes-off, bare-ass, neeeeked!
Snooki gets mad at Vinnie for flirting with Deena in the hot tub. Snooki points out how Vinnie is a jerk because he first slept with her best friend Ryder and is now trying to sleep with her best friend Deena. I'm no expert here but sounds like it's Snooki's BFF's who were kinda being jerks for banging her crush. Then again, I'm no expert. I'm just a gal who doesn't wear 5-inch heels to stroll on the boardwalk, so really what do I know about anything?
Deena takes this interaction as her cue to leave and grabs The Situation to help her find her "blast in a glass" hat (again with the comedy, Deena has really gotten over her nerves). A search for the hat becomes a search for a way to "accidentally" expose her vagina when Deena takes off her dress and bikini bottoms in front of The Situation. After seeing her "nana" The Situation compliments Deena's body. True, girls around The Situation do tend to have nice bodies thanks to all the vomiting induced by The Situation constantly referring to himself as The Situation. I lost 4 pounds just by typing his name repeatedly in the post!
The Situation tells everyone about Deena's cooch, which is quite an entertaining tale for the group proving that taking off your clothes, can also take off the stress of social situations. Not to be mistaken for the stress of The Situation.
And while episode one of season three ended with fighting, I have faith that by the season finale all social anxiety will be squashed (and maybe shmushed). I assume this based on the season preview, which showed a clip of Snooki, Deena and, please correct me if I'm wrong, Sammi sliding down the stairs and laughing. If drunkenly riding your crotch like a sled with other people doesn't scream social acceptance, then I don't know what does.
I hope these tips help you the next time you're nervous about meeting new people and the next time you have a desire to blow speakers...or whatever else your guido loving little self likes to blow.
Giulia Rozzi is a comedian, actress, and writer. You can see her Jan 14 & 15 at Mottley's Comedy Club in Boston, Feb 3 at Comix Comedy Club in NYC, and once in a while in a tanning salon, because although she's not a guidette she is an Italian that hates looking pale. Follow her at twitter.com/giuliarozzi
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