In 22 days it’s going to be 2014. That’s huge you guys. As a child of the 80s myself I never really thought as far ahead as fricken 2014. People born in 1990 are hitting their mid 20s and people born in 1995 will have just cracked 19 which…is crazy. As for 2013, though, it has been a great year for music, giving us songs from as far away as New Zealand and others that aren’t as good but are played in every restaurant, car, DJ set and cafe in the universe. Here are 22 songs that defined 2013 — musically, culturally, and aesthetically.
1. “Royals,” Lorde
2. “This Is What It Feels Like,” BANKS
3. “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore And Ryan Lewis
4. “Retrograde,” James Blake
5. “Lovers In The Parking Lot,” Solange
6. “Collider,” Jon Hopkins
7. “Lessons,” S O H N
8. “Decal,” Nick Höppner
9. “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke ft. T.I. and Pharrell
10. “Boy Is A Bottom,” DWV
11. “Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
12. “I Love It,” Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
13. “DRKLNG,” Zebra Katz
14. “I Miss You,” Ta-Ku
15. “We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus
16. “Next To Me,” Emeli Sandé
17. “Recover,” Chvrches
18. “Suit & Tie,” Justin Timberlake
19. “Bitter Rivals,” Sleigh Bells
20. “Started From The Bottom,” Drake
21. “Closer,” Tegan And Sara
22. “Grown Woman,” Beyoncé
Even though she has yet to give us/announce plans for a new album, did you really think that Beyoncé would let us leave 2013 without having something to talk about?
I was going on about a boy that I liked as my friend and I walked back to our apartment from lunch. I had liked him for months. He was sweet and talented and thoughtful. He was also good looking, went to an expensive private university, and came from a good family. Liking him and actually making a move felt like two very different things.
“I’m definitely not his type. Besides, his family would never accept someone like me,” I said, “I could never—”
“Well if you were pretty, you could,” my friend said.
If I was pretty. I think that I actually physically gasped. I was insulted. I was sad. I was confused.
She obviously saw my reaction and quickly said that she was sorry and didn’t mean it “that way.” She proceeded to tell me that she wanted to cry because she thought that I was angry. The problem is, she had told me on multiple occasions that, if you want someone to forgive you, all you’ve got to do is cry. So I lied and told her that I was not offended. And you know what? I tried not to be.
Besides, the entire day she had something to say about everything. She would point out a double chin in a picture, told me to sit like a lady, and basically proving to me that when she said she was only at school to get her “MRS. degree,” she was not joking.
But I was offended. I felt like I was in high school again. Under a microscope at every moment of every day. I have hated the way that I look since I was in middle school. I was probably a size two for one day in the fifth grade. I have always been tall and I have always had curves. I was not always healthy about my weight, and went to extremes to make myself thin, but no amount of exercise or diet could change the way I was built and, once I realized that, I just started to take care of myself. When I got to college I even started to love myself, and dove headlong into secondary education because I want students to realize that they can be anything that they want to be. That they could love themselves, too. I wanted them to know that they can write their own story, that looks weren’t everything.
So why was I beating myself up again? Why was a letting this girl who was so obviously caught up in a vapid ideal making me feel like I was worthless? Why was I letting my story turn into one of self-loathing? One where I start crying in the bathroom after making myself sick or one where I stop eating because I think that will solve things.
Later, I told my roommate what happened and she automatically said, “You are so much prettier than her! How dare she!”
And yet that was not the reaction that I wanted. I didn’t want to put another girl down simply because she made me feel like shit. Although it is sadly what most girls do without thinking twice, it’s not an answer to the problem.
I don’t ever want to see one of the young women that I will be teaching or my own daughter feel like she is not good enough because she doesn’t look like the women that we see splattered across our television screens or because she would rather read or study than go to a party. I don’t ever want anyone to feel the way that I felt when Sarah told me that I wasn’t pretty enough to get what I wanted. If I really wanted that boy, I could show him how beautiful I am. I could make him see that it was my confidence in myself that made me sexy, it was my knowledge and my talent that made me irresistible, and it was my ability to tell him exactly what I want for myself that made me perfect for him. But that isn’t what matters to me. What I want is to get a great teaching job. What I want is to affect the people around me and make a difference. What I want is to be happy and make the people around me happy.
I know that beauty is skin deep and in the eye of the beholder—we’ve all heard it before. But no one tells you that, no matter how much you tell yourself that you are beautiful, someone will always come around and try to shake you. And when they do, it is going to hurt and it’s going to sting. What makes you truly beautiful is changing those ifs into because and never letting anyone tell you otherwise.
Because I am beautiful, I can.
I take issue with the term “lose your virginity.” I take issue with the verb, with the idea of loss. Having sex for the first time isn’t a loss, it’s a gain. You gain an experience you didn’t previously have. You gain an aspect to a relationship. You gain a connection with someone, no matter how fleeting it may be. Right down to the terminology we use to talk about it, the first time we have sex is framed as a predefined concept, as something that inherently is a certain way—and that we have to feel a certain way about it. Terming it a loss is only the beginning of the problem.
When I was 19 years old and a freshman in college, I was dating a guy who was completely wrong for me, and dating him was quintessential proof of the bad decision-making that often goes on during one’s freshman year of college. It was the first time I had thought seriously about having sex, even though most of my friends had already experienced their first times. I had waited, because all my life I had been told that sex and love always came hand in hand, and anything else was wrong. I had waited, watching my friends fall in love and have sex around me, wondering when the hell my “right person” was going to show up. Because that was the way it had always been presented to me. That when you met the right person, that’s when it was okay to have sex.
He was not the “right person.” Clearly not the “right person.” But we had been best friends since school started and we had dated for two months and I thought I might be ready to take our relationship to the next level. When my parents came to visit in April, they met him at an utterly disastrous dinner whose colossal level of discomfort has not yet been reprised in my life. It was abundantly clear to both of us that my parents did not approve of him or our relationship. Later in the evening, my mother said something to me to the effect of “Oh, you’re not thinking of sleeping with him, are you?” as if it would be the most ridiculous and terrible decision in the world. And without the approval of my mother, I suddenly began to question my plan to have sex with my boyfriend entirely, crying in the hotel bathroom while my mother tried to talk me out of it. “This just isn’t what we want for you,” my mother said. “We just don’t want you to regret making the wrong choice.” What I didn’t realize then was that even if sleeping with my boyfriend would have been a mistake, it should have been my mistake to make.
Sex had been presented to me as this terrible mistake that was likely to ruin you as a person. The idea that when it came to sex, especially to the first time, that there were very distinct “right” and “wrong” decisions shaped the way I thought not only about sex, but about almost everything else, too. I began to approach my life with a deep, lurking fear that I was about to irrevocably mess up, that I was about to make a mistake from which I would never be able to recover. And so, terrified that sex was going to be this giant regret in my life, I waited for a “right person” that was never coming. Or at least, certainly not any time soon.
The worst part about the way sex was portrayed for me was that it was so vastly dependent on factors outside your control. When the right person came along, then and only then could you have sex. When you were in a relationship, you could have sex. All of these stipulations. These conditions. What if I was just an adult woman and I wanted to have sex? What if I wanted to but I wasn’t dating anyone and I wasn’t in love? Should I have to deprive myself so that I wouldn’t have sex in the “wrong” circumstance with the “wrong” person? Who was to say that there was a right and wrong person anyway? As long as I went in aware of what I was doing, comfortable with the decision I was making, did it matter who it was?
I was 21 when I finally did it. Of of all my friends I was the only virgin left, and I was sick of it. My virginity loomed over me like a curse, like a weight I desperately wanted to get off my shoulders. It was not a gift to bestow upon a worthy receiver, it was not a talisman of my pristine innocence. It was a burden. And I was beginning to think neither the weight nor the wait was worth it. I was 21 years old. I was in my goddamn prime. And I was sick and tired of wasting it.
So I slept with someone. I slept with a grad student I had made out with a couple times. I slept with him on a night in early April, in his apartment a few blocks away from campus. It was a decision that was in no way premeditated, it didn’t hurt, and I walked home the next day with my shoes in my hand, laughing at the fact that I had waited for some mythical Prince Charming for my entire life and then essentially fucked a rando. And the thing was, it was fine. I wasn’t in love with him. We weren’t dating. He wasn’t the ying to my yang, the man of my dreams, or my soulmate. He was just a guy who I happened to be seeing at the moment I decided I was ready. Maybe that’s all that should be required of the first person you sleep with. Maybe having sex for the first time isn’t so much about the right person as it is the right time. When you’re ready. When you feel comfortable. When you understand what you’re doing and want to go through with it.
My first time wasn’t magical, but it also wasn’t life-ruining. I didn’t feel regret. I felt relief.
It’s been almost three years since I had sex for the first time and I have never regretted it for even a second. Because I was ready, because I was confident about the decision I was making, I never looked back. Was he the “right person?” Only because he was the person who was there when I decided I was ready. I knew what I was getting into when I slept with him. I knew it wasn’t going to be this earth-shaking transcendent experience. I knew we weren’t going to fall in love. It was just an experience that would allow for more experiences in the future. It wasn’t about him. It was about me.
Having sex for the first time is exactly and only that: the first time. It isn’t the one and only person you can ever have sex with in your life. There will be others after that, if you so choose. At some point in your life, you should have sex with someone special. You should have sex with someone you love who loves you back. But that special person does not necessarily have to be first person you sleep with. That’s an enormous amount of pressure. And in this day and age, that might mean waiting until we’re well into our 20s or even 30s, and—pun intended—but fuck that.
There might be all kinds of different sexual partners waiting in your future, good or bad. And somewhere down the line, hopefully there will be magical, world-shifting, bed-rocking love sex, and it will be awesome. But it’s not the only kind of sex there is, and it’s not the only kind of sex that’s right or okay. Sure, if you choose to have sex outside a stable relationship, you risk having awkward stranger sex and sloppy drunk sex and you’re-a-complete-douche-who-doesn’t-acknowledge-me-in-public sex, but you can also have wild, impulsive sex and so-wrong-but-feels-so-right sex and travel fling sex. And there’s something to be said for having a fuller pallet of experiences having had those kinds of sex too. So if you’re 21 and ready and no closer to finding The One than you were at 15, there is no reason in hell why you shouldn’t just go for it. Don’t lose anything. Gain a sense of empowerment. Own your agency in your first time. And in every time after.
1. There is an actual place where you can get a gourmet popsicle, which maybe doesn’t sound so appetizing ATM but whatever. Put it on your list of things to do!
2. You can start a small business here and four years later watch it blossom into something great. Shake Shack, everyone’s favorite burgers and shake parlor, started in 2004 as a food stand in Madison Square Park. Now there are 34 locations all over the world!
3. Our new mayor is married to a black radical lesbian and they have two biracial kids.
4. Sample sales. SAMPLE SALES!!!! Also? OAK is here.
5. The “New York Moment,” where you run into someone you haven’t seen in ages in the oddest of places and at the oddest of times. It’s like, “What are you doing here?!”
6. There’s a whole restaurant devoted to chicken nuggets !!! And only in New York would such a restaurant have a line of people waiting outside of the door to get in.
7. Despite all the crack downs on nightlife, we still have underground parties and secret shows. A performer you really like has a “secret show” somewhere and when you get there you realize the show is happening in some celebrity’s 6th floor Tribeca loft.
8. The smell of Nuts for Nuts on Broadway.
9. Because every time you come here you will feel fabulous.
10. Jimmy Webb.
11. You can go partying in the East Village and then chow down at any of the 24-hour diners in the area.
12. Because there are still people here who have lived here way longer than you have, two, three, five decades of their lives. They sit on the sidewalk and people watch and talk to you about how Bedford Avenue used to be a two way street, or about when their rent was a month.
13. Because even though New York is forever changing, always evolving, there will always be people who think that New York was “better” back “then.” The truth is that New York is always great.
14. Because there’s no such thing as one version of New York. Everybody has their own New York.
15. When you get a smile on your face as you walk past restaurants or condos and remmeber when they used to be clubs. Though now it’s some sort of fancy cafe, every time I walk past that secret door at Broadway and Bleecker all I can think about is that gay basement dance-den Mr. Black.
16. Because New York is an awesome college town, and not just for the colleges in the city but also for those nearby in Jersey, upstate New York and Connecticut.
17. That a band can get their start playing on the subway and in parks and within a years time end up headlining in important venues around the country.
18. Because every Sunday in December, the MTA rolls out the Holiday nostalgia subway cars, meaning you can take a trip back to 1930s!
19. Because some French dude invented a thing called a Cronut that costs a pop and which requires you to line up at 7 a.m. to even think about getting one.
20. All the media industries are here. Actually, any industry you’re looking to break into is right here: porn, finance, writing, fashion, real estate, blogging, food, freelance everything, nannying, rent boy-ing, politics, whatever! It’s here!
21. Lou Reed.
22. Because we know how to party better than any other city.
23. Because you will bump into a celebrity and not even notice. Or…not even care. Once I rolled past Gwyneth Paltrow typing something into her Blackberry!
24. Because there will never be anything like the old DOMA cafe/restaurant in the West Village. It stayed packed. There was no internet. You couldn’t use your laptop after 5 or on the weekends, and there were always fabulous models and publicists and celebrities in there having creative meetings. Also: best French Toast in the city.
25. Because somewhere near you there’s a coffee shop that also has a liquor license, meaning you can work there during normal hours, downing coffee, but then help yourself to wine and cocktails in the evening without even having to go anyplace else.
26. Because everyone is attractive.
27. Even though NYC is increasingly becoming, if it isn’t already, a place for rich people, the city still drives talented, ambitious people who will stop at nothing to reach their dreams.
28. Tokio 7.
29. Because there are green taxi cabs now that are dedicated to taking you to Brooklyn or, worse, Queens. Now there’s no need to say “But you have to go to Queens.”
30. Because New Yorkers get creative with space. There’s not too much of it!
31. You can eat anything at any time and get it delivered.
32. There’s nothing like hearing the last bits of someone’s conversation as you cut a street corner. And then he did WHAT to your HUH?!?!
33. Holiday parties! Holiday parties in New York are the best.
34. Because you can sit at a bar in Soho having cocktails with your best girlfriend when she pulls out her new boyfriend’s dick pic and the bartender doesn’t even flinch.
35. Because our skyline never gets old.
36. Because you love getting outside of the city every once in a while, but there’s nothing like coming back. Every time.
1. They’re not dramatic
Setting up other people to get in trouble and then sitting back and enjoying the drama play out is way more fun than actually participating yourself.
2. They know how to have perspective in bad situations
They’ve seen older siblings strike out or get in trouble a million times, and the fall out never lasts forever. Youngest siblings don’t make mountains out of molehills.
3. They don’t care about being the center of attention
The reality of being the youngest is that your parents were busy, they had other kids to deal with and were over the helicopter, safety-first parenting style most people adopt with their first kid. Wandering off and doing their own thing is a skill that helps a lot in adulthood, when you don’t have to have someone hand-hold you when you learn a new skill.
4. They’re laid back
Youngest kids didn’t get the best of everything, they had to sit in the back of the car and get the last turn playing with a new toy. Big deal. Now they’re more equipped to shrug it off when something like the restaurant losing a reservation happens.
5. They know how to save money by buying used products
They’ve long gotten over wearing hand-me-downs, so saving money buy getting stuff on Craigslist and Ebay is a natural extension into adulthood.
6. They’re patient
They had to wait years to drive and go to prom, and all the other things they had to watch someone else do first. Now they know that anticipation is half the fun.
7. They don’t have giant egos
There are certain people in the world that will always think of them as a baby or their kid sister/brother. They can be a CEO, but they’ll still be “shrimp” to their family.
8. They bite off more than they can chew
Whether it’s sneaking their older sister’s WAY age-inappropriate issues of Cosmo into their room, or riding a bike at a really young age just so they could hang out with their big brother, they motivate themselves and push, rather than waiting around to feel “ready.”
9. They’re observant
They’ve had years of practice doing things they’ve never even experienced themselves because they were watching their siblings grow up. Being the youngest, they also got to ask as many questions as they wanted to, they weren’t expected to have everything figured out–they were expected to be learners.
10. They’re good with people
Youngest children aren’t awkward, they’ve always had other people around them to play with and relate to. They know how to work their parents and what each of their older siblings weaknesses are. By the time youngest kids get to adulthood, they’re masters at reading people.