Posts Tagged ‘Twenties’

People Change, Judgments (Sometimes) Don’t

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Earlier this week, I met up with my high school friend Luke and his new boyfriend at our favorite hometown coffee shop. Despite our devotion to their house blend, we can’t really claim to have “liked it before it was cool,” mostly because I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t widely beloved. I rarely set foot inside without bumping into a familiar face.

When I was younger, this meant a quick hello to someone I saw on a regular basis. Now it more often means deciding whether to acknowledge an erstwhile acquaintance I haven’t seen in four years or just avert my eyes. It’s not that I’m an unfriendly person. I think we all have people from our childhood who it’s weird to run into now that we’re X years out of puberty. Whether you’re wondering if they even remember you or hoping they forgot about thatonethingyoudidthatonetime, it can be uncomfortable coming face to face with the past.

Luke demonstrated this truth brilliantly by refusing to reenter the coffee shop after we had claimed a table on their patio. He wanted a refill, but not so badly that he would subject himself to the awkwardness of walking by Nathan, a ghost of high school past. Luke’s boyfriend, who isn’t from our hometown, was a little perplexed by this refusal. Luke explained it like this: “I don’t want to have to say hi to Nathan. He doesn’t like me or, for that matter, people in general.” In response to this not unfounded remark, I suggested that maybe Nathan had changed since the age of 20, around the last time we had had the chance to judge his soullessness. Luke agreed, but I wasn’t even sure I believed it myself.

As we move through our lives, we develop these deeply entrenched judgments of people we used know, who we used to interact with on a daily basis. This static picture forms in our minds, and it doesn’t change as the actual person presumably matures outside of our own little world. Would we now like or respect people who were once unwelcome fixtures in our lives?

This phenomenon doesn’t only happen with those we disliked or haven’t seen for years on end. Sometimes, I feel my childhood friends with whom I’ve kept in touch view me as a younger version of myself. I was immortalized at 18 in their eyes; I still say “fuck” too much and hate to be hugged. While this can be frustrating, it shouldn’t really matter how others see us – even our friends – so long as we’re happy with who we’ve become.

And I guess it wouldn’t hurt to cut everyone else some slack on the judgment front. Because, who knows? Maybe someone who once appeared to lack basic human emotion is now a nice guy. Then again, there’s no need to get carried away.

Sans judgment…mostly,

Leah M.


All About That Wanderlust

In Just for Fun on June 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Right now, I’m in the beginning stages of planning a road trip to Canada with my boyfriend, Jared, for later this summer. We are thinking three stops: Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Montreal. I’m excited to revel in the delightful campiness of Niagara (and, sure, the natural wonder, too), experience Toronto without the frostbite because my parents had a strict 20 below rule for visits there, and unpack what is left of my high school French amongst the Quebecois. Plus, there’s my stubborn belief that everything is perfect up North and no one pretends like socialized healthcare is an assault on freedom or Stalinism 101.

And they have Roots.

In terms of festivities, I’m not a big think-ahead person. I see it like this: why plan something fun when someone more motivated will step up and do it for me? (And if no one does, we can just drink.) Unsurprisingly, then, this is the first time I’ve been in charge of a vacation. My trip planning credentials start and end with “Orbitz search expert,” but, who knew, the Internet makes it pretty easy. As I read through the Lonely Planet website on all things maple leaf, I can’t help but think about past trips and where I still want to go.



During college, I was lucky enough to visit the Dominican Republic, Cancun, and Israel, and after graduation last year, British Columbia. Vacations are great because they can revolve around so many different things: friends, partying, family, nature, culture, etc. You can hunker down on the beach with a margarita and learn what’s new in sex from Cosmo, enhance distaste for Americans by expecting all Europeans to speak English, or hike through the Rockies.


Personally, I’m really into the exploration side of vacations these days. My freckled cheeks can only take so much sun time, and I’d rather get burnt sightseeing than crisping beside a swim-up bar. This simple Midwestern girl is turning over a new leaf and making big plans. Vague plans, yes, but plans nonetheless. I want to see all the awesome things in my own country, for one. I’ll criticize the U.S. up and down, but I’ll always love America and want to make it better.

Recently, I’ve realized that there is so much of it I have yet to see. What’s in South Dakota? What about Arkansas or Mississippi? I hear Oregon and North Carolina are pretty, but I wouldn’t know. It’s funny how I become exasperated when other Americans don’t think like me, while entirely disregarding how big and diverse this nation actually is. I think it’s important to know about where you’re from, not just your town or state/province, but your country as a whole. Thus, to see something beautiful in every state is a new bucket list for me.

I also secretly want to backpack across Europe by myself. This desire started as more of an it’s-the-only-way-I’ll-get-to-do-it resignation than as a true dream. My oldest friend (since age five!) and I used to talk about doing a Euro trip sometime after we graduated from high school. We even did a little research and decided on which countries we wanted to hit. Sadly, these plans have not yet become a reality, and I’m fairly certain they never will. With her almost engaged and in grad school and me “finding myself,” it has started to look like I’ll also have to “find” a new plan for Europe. But I’ve decided that that’s okay. We don’t need London or Paris to be friends. And honestly, the idea of weaving my way through the Netherlands and Germany all by my lonesome doesn’t sound lonely to me at all, but, rather, extremely liberating.

There was this one time in college when Maya Angelou came to speak at my campus, and I really wanted to go see her. I asked a bunch of my friends, but everyone was either busy or uninterested. I’m somewhat self-conscious, and I had never gone to any sort of performance by myself. Thankfully, I realized that that was stupid and went anyway. It was such a cool experience, and I couldn’t believe that I even considered skipping out on M. Angelou just because no one wanted to come with me.

So that’s kind of what backpacking through Europe is for me, on a much larger, and more interactive, scale. For all my self-consciousness, I do value independence, and I think it’s good to be able to enjoy time by yourself. And what better way to do that than while soaking up foreign culture?

Of course, all of this is in the abstract at the present. For now, I’m focusing on my next exciting journey to Canada with my best friend.

Carry on, wanderlust.



The Sunshine Award, Just in Time for Summer!

In Just for Fun on May 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Peter from the The Deliberate (Belligerent) Literate recently nominated us for the Sunshine Award. I wasn’t sure if anyone would even read SmartAssy when Jane and I began blogging, so it’s really great to be recognized. Thanks, Peter! Please check him out at He is a very incisive and entertaining writer; you won’t be disappointed.


That’s enough gushing for now, so on to the rules of the award:

1. Post the Sunshine Award logo

2. Nominate eight to 12 of your favorite blogs –  the ones that you can’t wait to read. Announce the news on their blog and link a pingback to the Nominator’s Blog.

3. Share a bit about yourself by filling in your own responses to the Q&A below.

My favorite season: 

It has to be a spring-fall tie. I’m such a sucker for all the stereotypical trappings of these two seasons: snow melting, bursts of green, apple cider, multi-hued leaves, and so forth.

I could say some more stuff about the beauty and ephemerality of life and how they’re perfectly encapsulated in these two seasons, but truthfully, I just like being able to walk around without sweating profusely or freezing my ass off. What’s more poetic than that?

My favorite things: 

This is so broad! I’ll catalog a few random things that bring me joy.

1. Books. I have always loved reading, and there is something comforting to me about being surrounded by novels and non-fiction alike. Libraries are like a security blanket for me.

2. Taking solo walks. I’m a textbook over thinker, and a contemplative stroll here or there is just what I need to clear my mind.

3. Cereal. I don’t think I’ve ever met a flake, sweetened oat cluster, or rice confection that I didn’t like. Conservatively, I’d say about one third of my caloric intake comes from milk and cereal.

What I love the most: 

What I love the most is really who. However much affection I have for cereal (apparently I’m not concerned about sounding like a total weirdo today), I obviously care more about the people in my life than any “whats.”

My weekends:

Looking for a job is a funny situation when it comes to weekends. They don’t mean the same thing to me as they do to the gainfully employed. It’s not like I need an extended weekly break from job applications, but I often find myself pretending that “lazy Sundays” are perfectly acceptable anyway.

I start my new internship next Monday, so normal weekends will finally resume!

What I don’t like:

I have a childhood fear of intense thunderstorms that never completely went away. In my defense, there are way dumber things to be afraid of than lightning and damaging winds.

More abstractly, I don’t like when people make thoughtless or cruel comments. This might seem universal, but it’s not uncommon to hear cringe-worthy statements in any company. These types of remarks have always bothered me, but I was too shy to call anyone out as a tween/teen. Thankfully, I’m no longer such a conformist and will say something if I’m uncomfortable.

What I have accomplished: 

My most significant accomplishment to date is graduating from college with honors. It marked the first time I really gave something my all, and that felt good.

A bit more recently, I received the CALI Award in Legal Writing, which means I got the highest grade in my class. Since I dropped out of law school after one semester, this matters exactly zero percent. Still, I had classmates who went to fancy schools for undergrad, such as Columbia and Wash U, so I consider it an accomplishment nonetheless. I know this kind of makes me a smug asshole, but it also makes me feel good about myself – sort of proof I could have done well as an attorney, I simply wasn’t feeling it.

Whatever. I’ll let it go once I find a paying job.

Last but not least: 

A quick thanks to anyone reading this blog. I am so enjoying writing for my own personal satisfaction, and it’s icing when other people enjoy it, too!

My nominees (I’m doing five):


Leah Morris

A Year Wasted?

In (un)Professionalism on May 21, 2013 at 8:20 am

In a few weeks, it will be the one-year anniversary of my college graduation. Thinking about this brings a mass of complex emotions to the forefront of my mind. The cause of my complicated feelings about one year in the real world? The reality that I have yet to actually enter “the real world.”

My suspension between Animal House and Working Girl is far from straightforward. It requires just as much untangling as that ball of graduation emotions, but I promise to bare my soul if you promise to bear with me.

The seeds of this lost year were sown long before I received a B.A. I spent the better part of college preparing for law school, fully intent on sitting for the bar three years after graduating with a degree in literature. I signed up for writing-intensive classes, took the LSAT, applied to schools, and sent in my seat deposit.

At commencement, I remember my dad gently disparaging the summa cum laude on my diploma with comments about grade inflation in the humanities. That felt good. However, on that day, nothing could tarnish my happiness. I don’t think I had ever been so proud of myself in all my life. Later, my mom sent me a picture of the whole family taken after the ceremony – me in the middle, grinning euphorically in my cap and gown. It sits framed on my coffee table, a reminder of past achievements and present failures.

Though I did end up attending law school, it was only for one semester. From almost the beginning, I experienced this horrible disconnect from the subject matter, from my fellow students, and from the prospect of practicing law for the rest of my life. It seemed limiting; I felt boxed in. Many people have asked me why I withdrew, and the short answer is: it just felt wrong.

With a semesters-worth of the year accounted for, you might be wondering what I’ve been doing since January. Here’s another short answer: not much. To be fair to myself, that is an exaggeration. I have been job searching, following up on leads, and securing a few interviews. But I have not been working nearly as hard as I should be, and this makes me feel guilty as hell.

This guilt stems from luck. I’m so, so lucky in a multitude of ways, and when I’m lazy, I feel undeserving of the privilege I acquired at birth. My father is a doctor. I didn’t really understand what this meant in terms of money when I was younger. We lived in a modest home, our garage housed Hondas, and the Morris children went to public school. My parents are what you would call savers. Big time. And their kids are the primary beneficiaries of this frugality. None of us have any debt from college, and I have had enough money to live on while I job-hunt.

At long last, this guilt-ridden search has led me to an unpaid internship at an art museum. I will be starting it just shy of a year after that proudest of days, and while I’m excited for this opportunity, I wonder if I have just wasted an entire year of my life in the interim. I can’t deny the unsettling thought that I could have been in this exact place 12 months ago if only I had decided against law school. Or maybe I would even have a paying job (the idea!).

Hopefully, I will look back on this time and be able to draw some wisdom out of all the tumult. Right now, I’m at a bit of a loss; it’s too real, too raw. The disappointment in myself is still there, but I know that this can be a fresh start, a new chapter. And perhaps I will create some luck of my own, so that my kids can look back on their college graduations and feel guilty for all that I gave them.


Leah Morris

A Little Inspiration from “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project”

In Encouraging Thoughts on May 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

mindy and jess

This past year, I have become a big fan of “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project.” Both shows are hilarious and quirky, and I find the lead characters, Jess and Mindy, to be endearing and relatable in a larger-than-life sort of way. However, I have realized that I connect with each sitcom for reasons beyond my enjoyment of their basic ingredients. NG and TMP assuage my fear of becoming boring and flat as I tack on the years. I’m quickly moving from early to mid twenties, and I can’t deny that I worry about losing the enthusiastic, carefree part of my personality that was so present during college.

It’s not that I have this huge fear of growing older. From where I’m standing, I can see so many exciting stages yet to come in my life: advancing career-wise, achieving complete financial independence, moving to new places, possibly getting married and having children, and so forth. Yet, I have this low-grade, lingering anxiety about undergrad being “the best years of my life.”

I never used to put much stock in this (depressingly) common refrain because, for me, the greatest part of those four years was not the lifestyle that only a party school can deliver. I don’t need to take shots on shots on shots to have a good time now, nor was this ever the case. But I do treasure the intense zest for life that caused me to act recklessly and sometimes make questionable decisions. This was the same fervor that made me so starry-eyed when I read Marquez and Rushdie, so eager to soak up theories on social change and global inequality. College made life incredibly fun and enjoyable; it imbued me with a passion I had never felt before. I am thankful for having such a wonderful experience, but I’m also terrified that this fun-loving reality morphed into history when I moved that tassel from right to left one year ago.

I know that “New Girl” and “The Mindy Project” are not at all serious and fairly unrealistic, but they give me hope that no great change occurred when I received my degree. The characters are in their early 30s. They still have fun, still end up in funny situations, and still possess that joie de vivre that I seem to have mistakenly categorized as a singularly collegiate feeling. Perhaps undergrad is really just a blip on the radar of our lives, a place that breeds passion and excitement, but does not extinguish these feelings when we step out into the real world. Maybe I am trying to draw too much from these light comedies, but I don’t think my conclusions are misguided. And there’s no reason why Jess and Mindy can’t be a little reminder each week to enjoy life, no matter our age.

(Still) Passionately,



[Image Source: fallon_thenewproject.jpg]

Am I Still Growing Up or Is This Just Me?

In Just for Fun on April 16, 2013 at 11:42 am


Last December, I watched the movie Superbad for the first time in years. This Judd Apatow flick was pretty much the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off of my generation; it even came out when I was a senior in high school. Though I wasn’t a teenage boy fixated on losing my virginity before college, I could really relate to the movie’s “fuck it, let’s have some fun” attitude. I found Superbad to be so hilarious that watching it was somewhat of an ab work out for me.

Although I no longer have to resort to fake IDs and shenanigans to obtain alcohol, I hoped that the main characters’ quest would be just as funny and endearing to me as it had been five years ago. And you know what? It was. During the scene where Jonah Hill confesses to Michael Cera that he was obsessed with drawing dicks as a child (“It’s not even that big of a deal, something like 8% of kids do it.”), it was unclear whether I was laughing or having a seizure. Apparently, my appreciation of crude humor did not diminish as I moved from adolescence to adulthood.

When I was younger, I saw the process of growing up as a checklist of skills to be acquired and behaviors that must be discontinued. Learning how to properly iron a button-down shirt, obeying the expiration date on dairy products, refraining from polishing off more than three beers in one sitting, and so forth. I assumed that my tastes in clothing, books, and movies would change as I matured in years, trading chucks for pumps, The Catcher in the Rye for War and Peace, and Superbad for any movie not featuring the doodle of a penis-as-astronaut planting an American flag on the moon. I looked at the grown ups around me and assumed I would be like them someday.

Now that I’m in my twenties, I find the notion of adulthood to be a little more complex. While I no longer feel that Holden Caulfield and I are kindred spirits, I do confess to only ironing the portion of button-downs visible with a blazer on. I’ve realized that the aforementioned checklist was only an arbitrary measure of adulthood based on the characteristics of authority figures in my life. Behaviors and predilections that I once considered age-dependent I now see are “individual-dependent.” The fact that I still like my comedies vulgar doesn’t indicate that I have yet to grow up. Rather, it speaks to a facet of my personality. This is me.

I now see maturity in terms of self-sufficiency: a person’s ability to take care of herself and independently manage the commitments of her day-to-day life. Sure, there’s more to it than that, but the clothes you wear and the books you read are only superficial measurements, no matter how you calculate it. And quite frankly, I will be sorely disappointed if one day I do not find the line “You know how many foods are shaped like dicks? The best kinds.” to be hilarious. Adulthood, be damned.


Leah Morris


[Image Source: superbad.jpeg]

Liebster Award: A Heart-to-Heart with the Blogosphere

In Just for Fun on April 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Kelly from Are your twenties a joke…? nominated us yesterday for the Liebster Award. Thanks! Her blog is great, and I recommend checking it out.


(Flexible) Rules of the Liebster Award:

– Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

– Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself, nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed, and create 11 questions for your nominees. (Blogs must have 200 followers or less. Let the blogger know you have nominated them.)

– Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

Responses to Are your twenties a joke…? from Leah, one half of SmartAssy:

1. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Nutella. I didn’t even have to think about that; I blinked and my fingers had typed it.

2.What celebrity did you have a crush on as a child?

I can’t remember any burning celeb crushes from my early childhood, but in my tween/teen years, I was all about Zach Braff and John Mayer because:

A. Garden State.

B. “Your Body is a Wonderland.”

3. What is your strangest habit?

When I eat an apple, the only part I don’t eat are the seeds. I’m weirdly self-conscious about this habit, so I throw away the core when I’m in public, but really, why doesn’t everyone do this? It’s basically the same as using every part of the buffalo.

4. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Before I started dating my boyfriend, Jared, I didn’t know how to tell him that I liked him, so, naturally, I discussed this problem ad nauseam with my friends. One of them suggested, quite seriously, that I should tell him when we were both drunk.

I did not end up following this gem of advice. Common sense and the lessons of human history supported my decision.

5. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Kind of generic, but bad T.V. My current obsession is “The Lying Game” on ABC Family. It’s so unrealistic, melodramatic, and just absurd, and if it’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

6. Are you a dog person or a cat person? (Or a fish person…?)

Dog person. They are such affection whores, and I love it.

7. What is the first thing you do when you walk in the door at the end of the day?

When I get home, I immediately take off whatever I’m wearing and change into lounging clothes. Comfort above all else.

8. What is the one task that you irrationally hate doing?

Grocery shopping. I know, feel sorry for me; I have to drive all the way to a store five minutes from my apartment in my reliable car and use money that I have enough of to buy a variety of delicious foods. It’s a hard life.

9. What has been your favorite age of your life so far?

In terms of fun alone, I would have to say age 20. That was a unique time in my life when I could play the part of studious co-ed by day and drunken idiot by night. Responsibility was measured in the number of classes I attended and weekends I avoided blacking out. I want to enjoy every stage of my life, but I don’t think it will ever get more carefree than that.

10. Which celebrity do people say you look like?

People rarely tell me I look like anyone famous. I don’t know whether that means I’m unique-looking or just homely, but I like to think it’s the former.

11. What do you love about writing?

I love how versatile writing is. I’ve used it in so many contexts throughout my life – school, work, “journaling” as a teen, and now on this blog. You can make whatever you want out of words, and that’s beautiful to me.

5 Random Facts About Me:

1. I love anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, and J.D. Salinger.

2. I’m obsessed with neutral tones. 90% of my wardrobe is gray, brown or “oatmeal.”

3. Whenever I hear/read a word I don’t know, I have to stop and look it up.

4. I love Long Islands, but they hate me.

5. If I ever have a daughter, I will name her Cecelia, after the Simon and Garfunkel song.

My Nominees:


Questions for My Nominees:

1. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

2. Would you take the position of president/prime minister of your country if it were offered to you?

3. What’s your favorite thing about yourself?

4. What (if any) movie always makes you cry?

5. Why did you start your blog?


Leah Morris  (representing the SmartAssy duo)

The Curative Powers of a Walk in the Park

In Encouraging Thoughts on March 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm


I have always enjoyed a good walk. Rainy day expeditions, picturesque hikes, romantic strolls: they’re all gold to these feet. Throughout the years, walks have served different purposes for me. In high school, they were a form of escapism. I could decompress after fights with my parents (They just don’t understand me!) and dream about the future. In college, walking became a simple means to get from Pregame A to Party B.  With no car, taking to the sidewalks was more of a functional activity than anything else. I certainly wasn’t journeying home from the library at 2 a.m. hopped up on study aids to achieve inner peace.

Now that college is over and I have a trusty Honda, the purpose of my walks has changed yet again. These days, it’s like they were prescribed for the preservation of my mental health. Take once daily to avoid sobbing in the fetal position.

I realized this last weekend while weaving through a neighborhood park, serenaded by the melancholy croons of Rogue Wave’s “Cheaper Than Therapy.” (Song synopsis: music and wine are cheaper than therapy.) I had just weathered a rough, or alternatively, successful, night of bar hopping and reconnecting with old friends. Nothing can lift my spirits quite like laughing with past partners in crime, but I can’t exactly self-actualize by downing vodka cranberries and dancing to Ke$ha.

As I let the crisp weather soak up my hangover, I thought about how time spent unwinding with friends isn’t what has kept me grounded during this tumultuous year. Rather, it was this path under my feet, this calming solitude that was giving me an opportunity to reflect. It’s true that half the fun of your twenties is not having everything figured out, but the other half isn’t fun at all, just anxiety and crippling uncertainty.

Everyone needs a way to deal with these feelings; I’ve found my own cure in soul-searching walks. I happen to agree with Rogue Wave in their sentiment that conventional therapy may be overrated, but I don’t support their substitute of drinking to a soundtrack. For me, a cathartic walk in the park wins out over that substance-abuse-problem-waiting-to-happen any day. Sorry, RW.

Much love,

Leah Morris