1. My Birthday and Periods Have Something in Common.

    I don’t know about you, but I do my best thinking while showering. Something about the routine, the mindlessness of it allows for the occasional good idea to roll through. So this particular morning, the morning of my 28th birthday I began typically with a gritty workout and then to my steamy thinking chamber I went.

    I spent that 6 minutes (and some more later) thinking about the significance of birthdays and particularly the number 28 and here’s what I came up with…

    MY PERIOD.

    Ok, so not all my watery thoughts are brilliant. But stick with me here people. So, for all of you who don’t have lady parts (or those who have yet to get to know your own), the body takes around 28 days a month to go through a cycle of prepping your body, with lots of complicated steps in between which I choose not to elaborate on because I specialize in Marketing not Gynecology.

    Similarly, the last 28 years have been a preparation cycle of their own (not leading to pregnancy, THANK GOD). But with just as many cramps (and skinny days) peppered in. Each year has been individual, scary, beautiful, and like no year previous.

    Year 27 was one of the most challenging, redeeming, thought-provoking, years of my life. I’m sort of sad to see her go, not because I’m one day closer to 30, but moreso because she’s taught me what it’s like to stand teetering on the edge of your late 20’s and to finally feel more of who you’re meant to be than ever before.

    In the previous 365: I did the best work of my life. I wrote things that mattered to me. Old friendships were revived. New friendships were born. Babies were born (thus melting my heart into a globby mess I didn’t know could exist). Friends got married. I discovered I really actually do like wine. I discovered that I like bourbon more. I lived out a great love. I endured the worst heartbreak of my life. I explored my Texas home state and continued my thought that Texas in fact, is forever. Friends moved away. Friends moved in. I saw things I’d vowed to see before I died. I saw things I never wanted to see before I died. I came to be in the best physical shape of my life. I learned how to properly do a burpee. I met someone new. I spent time laughing with friends over the chronicles of dating and the ridiculousness of New York. I spent time crying with those same friends about heartache, loneliness, new jobs, old jobs, no jobs and the scariness of New York. Did I mention that I learned how to do a burpee?

    And at the end of it all, I sit here, grateful for every single piece.

    My hope for my 28th year is that I can remember it all. All the jumbled bits and pieces of my story over the years, that they would all be pungent in my mind and heart, for good. All for the goal that I’d continue to learn how bumps and bruises are the best teachers of life. How being able to recall past joy, can actually produce new joy. How serving and bringing dignity to others is the reason why we’re here. How to let the past inform my future, but not steer it.

    Mostly, I sit here astounded thinking about how little I was able to predict the last 28 years and how I’m finally starting to accept and trust that that is exactly the way it’s been intended to be.

    Here’s to the start of a new cycle of 28, one rooted in “being better” that will also hopefully not end in pregnancy (56 year old new mom, not great…).

     


  2. Be a Better…Bartender.

    It’s as hot as balls out Edition:

    If you are in NYC right now along with the rest of us suckers, I’m so so sorry. It’s a sweltering 987937598 degrees out today with about 99% humidity. Let’s just say parts of my body are sweating that I didn’t know had pores. 

    I digress. 

    Here is a video response defeat this shit weather (this is not me if you were confused) and then better than that…an excellent cocktail down below.

    This woman gets it: (NSFW for language) 

    Warning, this kind of heat isn’t the type that one or two cold bevvies help. You’re gonna need to get super drunk and then forget that you can control your sleeping and waking…it’s just that bad out. 

    Passionfruit Lychee Fizz:

    + 1 oz. Passion Fruit Puree

    + 1 oz. Lychee Puree

    + Splash of Club Soda

    + Fresh Basil

    + 1 1/2 oz. Cucumber Pearl Vodka

    In a cocktail shaker, combine purees and vodka. Shake with ice, vigorously. Strain and pour over ice and add basil to taste & garnish. Top with a dash of club soda. 

    Happy summer…f*ck.

    xo Chinae

     


  3. Be a Better…Cook.

    Low-Carb Waffle Edition:

    Usually low carb food is pretty good…steak, shrimp, veggies, etc. but when you try to make carb foods into low-carb foods, sometimes the result is dismal at best. It’s like getting a cat because you can’t have a dog…it’s just not the same shit and they still poop in a box.

    Last night however, I stumbled upon something that changed the direction of my life path. OK, maybe it was just a low-carb waffle, but seriously y’all, it was fantastic. 

    Now I thought, a savory waffle not made of any floury goodness? Sounds like bullshit to me. But try them, you’ll thank me later. 

    Low-Carb Savory Cheese Waffle: (adapted from Your Lighter Side)

    • 1 cup riced (grated), raw cauliflower (should resemble coarse crumbs)
    • 1/2 cup mozzarella shredded cheese
    • 1/2 cup cheddar shredded cheese
    • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1 Tbsp fresh chives
    • 1/3 cup cooked and finely chopped turkey bacon

    Mix all your ingredients together (warning, the batter won’t be runny like waffle batter) in a large bowl. Heat your waffle maker and spray with a tiny bit of non-stick cooking spray. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, spoon batter into the waffle iron and spread out loosely over the surface. Cook for 4 minutes, and then take a look and see if your waffle is ready. Remove after throughly browned. Cool on a wire rack for a minute or two to promote crispiness and you’re ready to nosh. 

    Makes 6 Waffles or 5 Texas shaped waffles (in my case)

    These would be bonkers with low-carb fried chicken and sugar free syrup. Just saying. 

    Do it. 

    xo Chinae

     


  4. Be a Better…Bartender.

    Valentine’s Day Cocktails Edition:

    So, Valentine’s is an interesting holiday, you’d be hard-pressed to find another day so filled with the perfect amounts of love, heartache, loneliness  bitterness, and the need to have single-gal dates with other single-gals. For the most part, I could care less about V-day besides wanting to have my nails blood red, and sporting some crimson duds, but alas, to conjure up the inner romantic in us all, we should drink. Heavily. On Valentine’s Day. YES!

    This is the perfect way to spend America’s 2nd Least Favorite Holiday (I totally disagree with #1 btw), because it appeals to every relational status possible. Single? Married? Dating? It all works. 

    I’ve created a list of the perfect cocktail to cheers with this Valentine’s Day:

    "Single and Hating It": Your perfect drink is The Black Velvet. It will very much remind you of your cold, dying black heart. Drink up!

    The Black Velvet:

    • Guinness Stout
    • Champagne

    Fill your Collins glass halfway with guinness, fill the rest of the glass with champagne and lightly stir.

    "Dating and Hating It": Your perfect drink is called The DGAF.

    The DGAF:

    • Bourbon
    • Ice

    Pour heavily and drink up quickly. 

    "Happily in Love": Your perfect drink is The Elderfashion. A little bit light, a little bit serious.

    The Elderfashion:

    • 2 Parts Bourbon
    • 1/2 Part St. Germaine
    • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
    • Ice
    • Orange peel garnish

    Stir all your ingredients, add ice, and stir again. Seductively caress your rim with the orange zest and be all romantic-like.

    "Happy and Single": Your drink is…Tequila shots. Enjoy.

    Tequila Shottttttsssss:

    • Tequila
    • Shot Glass
    • Lime
    • Salt
    • A bag to re-gather your dignity after all is lost. 

    Cheers and happy or hateful Valentine’s Day y’all,

    Chinae

     


  5. Be Better at…Dating.

    Long Distance Lovin’…The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Edition:

    A typical conversation I have about 16 times a week:

    Them: “So are you dating anyone?”

    Me: “Oh yeah! I am. We’ve been dating a while now, he lives in LA. We’re long distance.”

    :: cue them giving me “the face” (usually looks like a combination of a shart face and reliving a memory of Chinese water torture)

    Them: “That really sucks. I could never do long distance, I’ve done it before and it was a total fucking nightmare.”

    Me: “Umm… yeah, well, we’re doing pretty good. Normal relationship shit but we are making do.”

    Them: “Well good for you guys, hope it works out better than mine did.”

    First off, people, this is not encouraging/helpful/kind in any sense of the word. I get that you had a shit relationship that happened to be long distance, but what’s your excuse for the other 10 failed love connections? What? Do you not date on dry land because it didn’t work out that one time?

    If you’re in a LDR (I hate this acronym but I’m not getting paid for this shit and even decent readership is not gonna pay for my oncoming carpal tunnel syndrome) you get me. Even if you aren’t, you should keep reading…you might find some nuggets of mediocre wisdom in here somewhere. (I said might…no guarantees) 

    So here’s the good: The best thing about an LDR are that the times you actually get to breathe the same oxygen are usually REALLY amazing. Like…whoa. Also, you tend to be able to appreciate your time together and don’t take your man/lady/manlady for granted. You also REALLY have to learn to communicate, whether your “I hate the phone” ass likes it or not. And you have to get over your own shit schedule and idea of convenience pretty quick. 

    And the bad: Fighting while far away totally sucks. Like…it’s the worst. There’s no kissing and making up, there’s no face to face time (other than skype), and things take a little longer to heal than in normal life. You’ll learn to navigate this better every time (although, Charlie and I still fall on our face with this A LOT). Also, being involved with someone in never never land has some major financial obligations so make sure you’re ready to take that on and work together. 

    The ugly: You don’t get to be with the person you most want to be around. Plain and simple. It gets hard (think running a marathon after a 2-day jelly donut binge), but if and when you realize that loving them well, is more important than satisfying every selfish need and want that pops into your mind…well then, there’s some potential for success there folks. 

    DISCLAIMER: By no means do I have this ALL figured out. This is what I’ve learned (and failed at and will continue to fail at) for almost a year and a half but sometimes, it’s good to share what you’re learning even if you’re not a master at it yet. Right?!

    Here are 5 ways to survive an LDR:

    -Overcommunicate: Now, I don’t just mean tell the other person EVERY SINGLE TIME you are annoyed, upset, or in a bad mood. Every relationship has “stuff” and of course you’re gonna need to bring up unpleasant topics once in a while and hash them out. But here’s a trick I learned early on…communicate the good stuff, VERY intentionally. The problem with LDRs is that you cannot treat them like an in-person relationship. That’s like playing football with golf’s rules. Get used to telling that person the things that they are great at, why you love them, things that they’ve done to make you extra happy, and encourage them on things they are working on in their personal life/work. Notice and express the little stuff, it matters. 

    Real Life Example——> “Hey, I really appreciate that you called me on your lunch break because you knew I had to get up early (my time) to get to the gym. That was really thoughtful. Also, nice abs” (just kidding about the abs..but yeah, they’ll appreciate that too) 

    -Make a Schedule: Girls especially get discouraged when they don’t feel secure in “what’s going to happen” in the future. You don’t need to pencil in your f*cking wedding date, but planning and booking your plane tickets well in advance shows that you are making a commitment to moving forward. You’ll also get to look forward to the next time you see each other which always makes the distance seem shorter. 

    Real Life Example——> Book your trips one or two in advance and talk about things you’re excited to do together in the future. Also, take turns visiting each other’s cities and plan a fun vacation once or twice a year to escape! Make an list of adventures and things you want to do together, it shows you’re in it for the long haul. 

    -Learn How to Fight Fast: I’m a verbal processer and can fight and talk things out for hours and days on end, usually peppered with some intermittent bleary-teary-eyed monologues. Charlie likes to go to his cave and process (what is he doing in there?!). You can imagine how this is a tough thing to overcome, when all I want to do is talk and all he wants to do is not talk to me. An integral part of not accidentally killing each other is learning how the other one fights, and then coming to a consensus on where to meet in the middle. 

    Real Life Example——> Charlie and I recently were bickering about something dumb, and after some frustrating banter, he was like “I gotta go”…then “recanted and said “No, I’m here. I can talk for a minute more”…well what did that do to my cold dead heart? Calmed me right the fuck down, is what that did. 

    -Put in the Effort, No Matter the Distance: LDR’s are a lot of work, and the more effort you put in, the happier you’ll be. I promise. It seems counterintuitive that putting more effort toward could bring joy, but it’s true people. Send them letters, emails, unexpected texts, small thoughtful gifts, plan surprises, and ask questions about their day/life, even when you want to fall asleep in your cereal. If you’re both trying your best, it WILL be enough. Take the time to figure out how they want to be loved, and do it. 

    Real Life Example——> As you all know, I’m pretty much a carnivore and want to be eating steak 90% of the time. Yesterday, Charlie sent me (in the MAIL) a Trader Joe’s giftcard so I could go buy yummy food for my extra long, hard week at work. See guys, it’s not just about the flowers and chocolates. Get creative…and girls, it’s not just their job to please you, return the favor.  

    -Be Normal: It’s easy to have an awesome time together when you’re sunning your mutually tanned asses in Turks and Caicos, but guess what? You are going to have to clean this person’s throw up/pee/poop one day. You might have to move apartments together, or go to Costco. Vacations are great, but try to pepper in some normalcy on your days together to get a feel for real life. Walk to the grocery store and pick up food and cook a casual lunch, go to the coffee shop and read a book together (not the same copy of a book, that’s just fucking weird), or exercise and sweat it out with them. If you can love each other while picking up dog shit, you’ll probably love each other for a long time. 

    Real Life Example——> We’ve discovered that as much as we have fun taking epic trips, we really like napping in grass. 

    I hope this helps. Like I said, we’re just all limping along here together. But it’s worth it for that “forever person” and hell, it can only go up from here. 

    Reporting from in the trenches,

    Chinae

     


  6. Be Better at…Life.

    Hi lovelys,

    I’m off to an 8 day road trip with Cali boy…we are making our way through the South East with reckless abandon. I won’t be blogging this week but I will be instagramming at @calexander1985 and tweeting at @chinaealexander…so if you want lots of biscuit photos and pictures of alligators, check me out there!

    To give you a little insight into our trip…here are the main pit stops!

    NASHVILLE:

    SMOKEY MOUNTAINS:

    CHARLESTON:

    SAVANNAH:

    ATLANTA:

    NOLA:

    And the next weekend is a mystery!

    See you fools on the flipside, ten pounds heavier, hopefully with a slight southern drawl.

    xo Chinae

     


  7. Be Better at…Connecting.

    I know you all probably know this shit already, but there are other places you can follow my travels or keep in touch. 

    Here we go:

    Twitter: @bebetterblog or my personal twitter @chinaealexander

    Tumblr: ummm you are already here. Press that cute lil "Follow" button if you’d like to keep up with me!

    Other Blogs I Write For: Fucked in Park Slope and the Ernest Alexander Journal

    Send All Hate Mail to: bebetterblogger@gmail.com with Hate Mail in the subject line or if you have suggestions on things that could “Be Better” submit them there too!

     


  8. Be a Better…Beauty.

    Going to the Salon Edition:

    Finding a new stylist is like picking a therapist/guru/and pageant coach (whatever, I’m from the South) all in one. I’m aware that this sounds uber dramatic but seriously, this person has your head in their hands and they could do life-ruining things to you. Don’t fuck with the money maker, ya know?

    Here are some things I absolutely HATE when working with a stylist:

    -2 Hour Story Time: I love people, don’t get me wrong. I also expect a bit of idle chit chat when I’m sitting in the ol’ swivel chair…but I do not need to hear your entire life story, unless I ask.  I actually have had a stylist in a Williamsburg salon start crying mid-haircut telling me how her boyfriend and her were fighting all the time and how she used to be a cutter. This is not the time or the place for that biz-nass. Seriously. Unless I’m getting paid for therapy hours, shut it down. Otherwise, I’m happy to do girly-talk just keep the misery on lock-down Daria.

    -Product Bullshit: I understand you need to be up-selling product to people and you want clients to leave with every single thing you put on their hair, but listen, I don’t have the time or energy to put that much crap on myself everyday. I already have the beauty regime of a drag queen…I cannot commit to this. I also will never be able to operate a round brush without having to cut it out with scissors, mid-hairstyle.

    -Re-Inventing the Wheel: Nothing gets on my nerves more than when a new hairstylist tries to tell me what my hair is “doing”. I’m fucking aware of what is happening north of my neck and I’ve had to deal with this butthole hair for 26 years. I know that you think it’ll look lovely and smooth when you scrunch-dry it (you’ll say the word diffuse and I will roll my eyes)…IT WON’T. I WILL look like Gary Busey’s mugshot EVERYTIME. 

    -Don’t Use Big Words That Equate to Dollars: Rightfully so, most stylists would look at my dry-ass split ends and be totally grossed out. Yeah I know, this blog makes me so much money and stuff so I should LOVE when you suggest expensive repairing treatments right? FALSE. I make zero money off this piece of shit and I cannot afford a hair treatment that has more than 2 syllables. RE: HOT OIL (yes, V05 Home Hot Oil Treatments…you can also stop giving me the stink eye now) I know I need a “swirl regenerative follicle treatment” today…but I’m going to pass every time, unless this post makes me millions of dollars. Mostly, don’t trick me into getting a treatment and then charge my ass a lot of money in the end that I wasn’t expecting, you don’t want this girl to start raging at the check-in counter. The receptionist REALLY doesn’t deserve it.

    So, you can imagine my nerves in dealing with a new colorist recently. I was recommended to Tabitha at Arrojo by my friend Rachel, who cuts there. After seeing Tabitha my fears were slightly eased as she is freaking adorable and looks like someone I’d totally be friends with.

    NOTE: Nothing is more terrifying than showing up and your stylist looking like she was maimed by dogs right before your appointment. 


    I sit down, and start profusely apologizing to her about how nasty my hair is and how long it had been since I got my last color…and she totally just nodded and smiled (probably in total agreement) but then said it was fine and she’d fix me all up. PHEW. Thank you baby Jesus. 

    I love when a stylist really listens to what you want and is determined to get you there…hell or high water, and Tabitha totally did. She even suffered through an hour of my friend JML and I having a joint-therapy sesh. What a saint. 

    She was easy to talk to, and took her time with getting my color just right, and all the while, making me feel comfortable. Ending on a good note, she used just two products,one being named HAIRSPRAY which totally follows my two syllable product rule. 

    OK, I’m done babbling…the point is, if you are looking for a good color job here in the NYC area, ask for Tabitha at ARROJO. 

    What are your worst styling moments? Send ‘em to me via twitter @bebetterblog and I’ll retweet them! 

    Until next time,

    C