Salty Stories

Thirty, Flirty & Full of Anxiety.

Your life is over when you’re thirty. That’s what my older sister used to say. I think she started saying it in her teen years when 30 was SUUUPER far away. She was a fun party girl who could befriend a rock and I think she assumed the party would be over when she hit thirty. All I know is that I heard this so many times, I started to believe it. Thirty is when life gets a little more boring. You’re past the happy hours that turn into nights you come stumbling home at 2am shoving pizza into your pizza hole. You’ve got a stable job that has probably become a little stale and boring. You’re starting to settle down maybe by getting married, buying a house, perhaps having kids? When my sister turned 30 I laughed directly in her face and told her that her life was over because that was what she always said, right? And now that I’m 30, I’m hitting a very hard realization that I’d much rather be “boring” if it meant that I had everything she has. If you had asked dramatic emo teen Julia who whined in her journal every night where she’d be at 30? She would’ve said career, house, hubs, dog & maybe a kid on the way. See below for my 12 year old fantasies of my wedding:

Well folks, that couldn’t be further from my reality. In fact, even typing that out felt like I was writing a fictional fairytale. So now that I’ve gotten real with y’all, I’m gonna do what I do best. I’m taking my crushing insecurities about reaching a whole new decade and being nowhere near where I wanted to be in life, and spinning it into laughs. It’s a little thing we in the biz of comedy like to call a coping mechanism. Let me tell you, it’s a whole lot healthier to poke fun at myself through the written word and let us all giggle it out together than it is to drown my sorrows in rosé, which I will probably also do later on tonight so DON’T JUDGE ME. Anyway, for this milestone birthday I recruited most of my family members to coordinate a photoshoot one might have for a baby turning 1 so that I could get glammed up, overserve myself some champs and pretend I’m a model in downtown Syracuse. Then I jetted off to the West Coast to guarantee there wouldn’t be snowfall on my blessed day of birth and *hopefully* reenact LC & Lo partying at Les Deux with my bestie Kat. (TBD if Les Deux is still open or if partying is allowed post-covid but I was willing to shoot my shot.) And last but certainly not least, I’ve whipped up this blog for your entertainment. Rather than focus on the things I haven’t accomplished yet…

The Salty Ju’s Biggest Failures (as determined by where she wanted to be by age 30): 

-Laid off and on her third round of unemployment in the past 8 years.

-Has moved 11 times since she turned 18. (Not including the parents’ moves)

-Most certainly does not own a home.

-Does not own a car.

-Has not paid off college loans.

-Does not have a dog or offspring.

-Single AF.

-Severely lacking a career. And also, as noted above: a job. (Editor’s Note: this was factual when this was written but as of post date, ya gurl has a job so HA. Career to follow.)

I’ve decided to list out Thirty things I HAVE accomplished. Since this is completely subjective to what I FEEL is an accomplishment rather than what the outside world tells me SHOULD be an accomplishment, you’re in for a real wild ride through my dumb brain. BUCKLE YO’ SEATBELTS. (Wine may or may not have been consumed in the making of this list.)

30. Smoked hookah, drank white Russians and played tonsil hockey with a bartender in Spain. All in one night, BOOYAH. Also, I was 15 (but I said I was 17, duh.) Hot start. My parents are already proud of this list, I can tell. Fernando, if you’re still out there…you tried to swallow my head whole and I hope you’ve learned how to dial it back on the tongue usage otherwise T’s and P’s for your wife. Having to take a shamwow to your face after every smooch is less than desirable.

29. KFC Said I Was Funny. This is a very niche audience accomplishment but it was a turning moment for the sake of my “brand.” As an avid follower and fan of Barstool since I was 17, my favorite blogger through the years and the one whose angry and spiteful rants inspired me to finally strike out and start publishing my own angry and spiteful rants *about celebs* was KFC. He used to blog on the side at his full time job as an accountant and when I finally caved and started The Salty Ju, I was writing TV show recaps while I temped at Boston College. I’d do an expense report then look around and switch over to WordPress to talk about how unhealthy Kim and Kyle’s relationship was on RHOBH. After shooting a tweet to KFC saying I felt like him leading a double blog life, he followed me on Twitter. I geeked out like nobody’s biz. But that will never compare to me going to the KFC Radio live podcast in Boston and hitting up the meet and greet afterward with KFC not only recognizing who I was but also shouting “The Salty Ju! You’re funny, girl!” Music to my ding dang dong ears. My blog was FRE$H on the streets and not only was I being recognized as the Salty Ju but I was being recognized by my fave blogger of AWL time. It was an ultimate starstruck moment and I told every single person I knew. No one QUITE understood why it was such a big deal but it was to me. Would’ve been chill as hell if that compliment rolled into a job at Barstool but that’s just not the way the cookie crumbled (despite my several attempts). So at least we’ll always have that magical night when The Salty Ju became known to Boston as ~*~FuNnY~*~. Tysm to my OG Saratoga bestie Alex for not only agreeing to go to this show without knowing a single thing about Barstool because everyone else bailed on me, but also turning into a straight up paparazzi to catch the palpable energy of me attempting and failing to keep my chill all over a bunch of bloggers/podcasters. It’s probably for the best that I never meet Taylor Swift if this is how I acted around normies.

28. Accounting Superstar. I worked on a film set for exactly 4 weeks before Covid shut the world down and it took me exactly one week into production to win my first award. I know, I know, it’s like I was put on this planet to impress others. How did I get this award, you ask? Oh, I filled out all of my HR paperwork in a timely manner. Although I probably should’ve received a star cameo in said film, what I did receive was my photo hanging outside of the accounting office and a big ole bag of Syracuse’s finest salt potatoes. I try to stay humble but honestly once you win Accounting Superstar it’s like is there even anywhere else to go in life? 

27. Saw N*SYNC live in their P*RIME. N*SYNC is the greatest boy band of all time and Justin Timberlake is the greatest performer of all time so seeing their glorious choreography and flashy coordinated outfits with my own two peepers was an all-time moment. What made it even more memorable was the fact that it almost never happened because I was a little a-hole (shocking, I know) and my parents took the tix away from me. Plot twist, they felt so guilty for killing this dream for my sister and I that they rebought a second set of tix so we could go after all. And now it’s making my life accomplishment list so I GUESS IT WAS WORTH IT AFTER ALL, MOM AND DAD. (Update: my dad shared that he was much more educated for his second ticket purchase and got better seats right next to where N*SYNC appeared to kick off the show so just goes to show that bad behavior pays off.)

26. Reenacted Weekend at Bernies all for a Yanks spring training game in Florida. There’s no one more desperate for some vitamin D in an upstate winter than the girl who will fly down to Florida for a weekend while also dying a slow death from Mono. Soldiered through though thanks to the dream team propping me up—literally. Touched mad stingrays, took mad naps & saw Jeets and that toight ass play one last time before he retired.

25. Learned how to grill like a Pitmaster. I may have exaggerated a little bit there but I didn’t think knowing how to grill stuff was an accomplishment until I realized that most of my friends and all of the women in my family are not grill savvy. So now I feel preeettttyyyy cool about the fact that I can grill a dawg like nobody’s biz. Last summer under the advisement of my v. grill talented brother-in-law I even made myself a mean sirloin that straight melted in my mouth. CHEF’S KISS. What a solid life talent it is to be able to fire up the grill and BBQ some meats. I may make 90% of my meals in an air fryer but oh buddy, when summer comes, I sure know my way around a grill.

24. Went to a Rave (twice) and lived to tell the tale. This is the most out of body experience I’ve ever had. Literally because I drank so much that I vacated my body. Can’t call myself a true 90’s chick until I’ve attended a rave and I had absolutely no business being there. The first Barstool Blackout I missed the memo that girls essentially attend nude with some neon accents and made myself the below VERY sexy oversized men’s neon tee with a bunch of barstool catchphrases on it. I then took the theme way too seriously and blacked out for the first time in my life. Fell down an entire flight of stairs and lost all of my belongings including my fake ID that I demanded my sister replace. At least I still had my dignity, amirite?! Not. Round 2 resulted in a much cuter homemade shirt and a harsh realization that I had already aged out of this phase and standing in a sea of sweaty neons tripping their faces off was not my idea of a good time. Tough stuff, lesson learned. On the bright side: Blackout 2.0 occurred the night after the Boston Marathon bomber was finally captured and arrested so the rave was kicked off with Darth Vader leading the entire crowd in scream-singing the National Anthem in hands down one of the most patriotic moments ever. Still out on raves, tho.

23. Made this masterpiece. Once you learn that this was the FINAL project that I did to earn myself a Bachelor of Arts degree, it really puts things into perspective about how much of a joke college actually is. Not only was this music video inspired by a bunch of Taylor Swift lyrics, it was also just my backup plan. After spending an entire semester planning a completely different project, traveling to another college 3 hours away to film it, then promptly dropping the camera and ruining all of my footage…this music video was made in 2 weeks right down to the deadline wire after I begged my sister and her husband to help a girl out. I think we all know why I never became a filmmaker. 

22. Two-Time Scavenger Hunt Champ. If there is a themed scavenger hunt taking place in a downtown area that includes drinking, you can bet your ass my sister and I will participate and dominate that B. Although our Jesse and the Rippers team showed a lot of heart in the 90’s pub crawl, it was Team USA in the Olympic pub crawl and Team Who Let the Dogs Out in the Pup Crawl that were my two championship moments. Adult bevvies were consumed, clues were found, photos were taken & prizes were won. Although, once we found out our Olympics prize for Best Dressed was tickets to the circus, we told them to give those to a family in need. #Charity #ItsJustAboutTheThrillOfWinning

21. Pooped my pants as an adult 3 times. First time is an accident, second and third times…it’s a problem. That level of humiliation really humbles you. It’s a badge of honor that I wear proudly. I’ll spare you the messy deets but take comfort in the fact that each accident was mortifying in the moment, but hilarious to recount afterward. Sorry not sorry that I’m thirty years old and ANY story that involves a fart gone wrong will have me in full tears.

20. Learned how to not be terrified of babies. I may not have mastered how to control my bowels as a grownup but I’m very proud to say that when my little niece-monster was born, I was forced to adapt to the baby lifestyle. Since her father abandoned her a week into her life for a Mexican “work trip”, I got a crash course on feeding, burping, changing & making sure her neck was supported as hell. S/O to my little Babs for making me an Auntie and also twinning, selfie’ing & dancing with me.

19. Graduated College. I don’t really feel like this is that large of an accomplishment because it’s essentially 4 years that I’ll be paying off for the rest of my gosh darn life but the fact that I graduated college in a hurricane wearing 100 layers underneath my soaked robe and my hat literally flew off as I walked across the stage…that was priceless. Shout out to my entire family who also sat outside in a monsoon just to watch me receive an empty folder and cry about it afterward. It was the worst day ever and now that I look back (hindsight’s 20/20, yo) it was for sure an omen to my future. BUT I’M STILL KICKIN!

18. Climbed 463 *very* narrow steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence. You’ll notice that this is on the list and hiking a volcano isn’t because it was 100x harder than that hike and also way more claustrophobic so I take more pride in this one. I’m guessing our Italian homies in the 1400’s did not build the Duomo with thousands of tourists trekking through its narrow passageways in mind. 

17. Partied all night before a flight. This is one of those things that you get talked into when you’re inebriated and looking back I would probably never fall for it again. On my last night in Florence closing up my semester abroad, my friend and I were painting the town buzzed and decided to never let the fun end. We stayed out all night bar hopping and traipsing the streets of Firenze then stopped back home to grab our suitcases and share a cab to the airport in the morning. Would’ve been smooth sailing to just pass out on my flight back to the US of A except that Italy had one of their many infamous transportation strikes that day which led me to a 6 hour bus ride to Rome to re route my flights. Wanna know what a 6 hour bus ride feels like when you start to sober up? It feels like the seventh circle of hell. Was it worth it? My heart says yes but my intestines said nope. (Surprisingly, this was NOT one of the three times I’ve crapped my pants. Close call tho.)

16. Lived with a boy. This is smack dab in the middle of my list because it is CERTAINLY an accomplishment that I was able to cohabitate with a boy and yet if you’ll recall from above I’m very single so obviously it wasn’t the greatest success story. HOWEVER, knowing how neurotic, OCD and clean I am and how I’ve done everything in my power to never have roomies again due to my very specific way of living, I’d still call it an all-around win. The bennies far outweighed the negatives on sharing a small dwelling with a smelly boy. Also important to note: this occurred pre-pandemic. Throw a panny in the mix and all bets are off on co-habitating.

15. Bought a couch. The couch saga of 2020 is one that will go down in history as a real shitshow. It includes being persuaded to buy a used couch I didn’t want just because the guy was hot, reselling it a week later, checking way too many furniture stores, roping everyone I know into the dramatic process and then FINALLY finding the grey couch I wanted for a budget price. This isn’t just a couch, this is a symbol of my independence, GURRRLLLLL.

14. Peed in the ocean. Anyone who knows how I have crippling pee anxiety understands what an accomplishment this was for me. It was such a monumental moment that I literally cried out into the ocean breeze, “I’M DOING IT!!!!” Totes understand why everyone quickly swam away.

13. Rosé on Broadway. Bringing in unlucky number 13 on the ole accomplishment list because as everyone knows it was the greatest wine festival ever planned to never ever take place. My addiction to pink wine and all things basic betch drinking festivals allowed me to create this bangpiece of an event that maybe one day people will actually buy tickets to attend.

12. Held a Joey & Fed A Giraffe. Call me Joe Freakin’ Exotic because nothing makes me happier than cuddling/interacting with wild animals. TYSM to the trash-hole backyard zoo in ‘Nango for giving me all of the opportunities to embrace my inner Bindi Irwin, sans khakis.

11. Survived the Great Zucchini Toss of 2019. The world (and more specifically, my hibachi chef) tried to take me out at my own 28th birthday dinner, but I said IT’S NOT MY TIME YET. One perfectly arc’ed raw zucchini took a smooth dive right into my trachea and I sucked air and sputtered with wide panicked eyes until I eventually gakked it up underneath the table. Not only did I learn that not a single soul in that restaurant was even remotely concerned that I was choking to death, but also my favorite simple pleasure of an onion volcano on fire being pushed around an open grill while a chef shouts CHOO CHOO will forever be marred by this incident. No more Hibachi birthdays.

10. Explored Porto Solo Dolo. I’m not the type of person who is confident enough to grab dinner alone or see a movie with me, myself and I. So on a trip to Portugal with my dad and his work colleagues, when I was left to my own devices for the day I was ready to just hide in the hotel room and read my trashy novel. But I decided to face my fears and explore a foreign country by my lonesome and boy am I glad I did. I worked on my “stop thinking everyone is always staring at you” mentality and even stepped directly into the ocean in my sneakers trying to get a self timer pic of me beachin it up. Crushed it.

9. Shot a gun. It was A W E S O M E. Shouts to the Poultney gang who helped facilitate this and trusted me to operate a firearm 30 seconds after meeting me. Double shouts to my friend Kass who realized how important it was to document every second of my transformation to a country girl for the gram.

8. Got rejected more in one year than probably most of you have in your entire lifetime. This is a sore subject, cause on the one hand I’ve cried my face off about it way too many times. HOWEVER, positive spin—I can probably handle rejection better than the average person now. You don’t get stomped down every day for a year and not come out stronger, amirite? Plus check out my sick Wall of Rejection that I made to keep me humble. It’s strategically placed behind me so that if I never look back, it’s almost as if it never happened. HA. TAKE THAT, REJECTION! (Also, a framed photo of me dancing in a sunflower field because I dance right in the face of people telling me no.)

7. Biked 20 Miles. When I first started dusting off the ole wheels a few years ago, a five mile bike ride was more than enough for me to feel athletic but not actually exert myself. Biking to drinks was my MO, especially when I was gifted my adorbs teal beach cruiser. It was more of a lifestyle than an achievement. Then quarantine hit and I realized I had no goals on the horizon so I told myself I would bike 20 miles by the end of the summer. It took me MUCH longer than that. Going from a few miles up to 20 was not easy breezy but I stuck with it through all the trials and tribulations (of which there were many) and finally nailed a 20 miler. RIP to my lady bits.

6. Picked out, hauled in & decorated my own Christmas Tree. Nothing brings me more satisfaction than the look on my neighbor’s face as she peeping tom’ed through her upstairs window at me hoisting a robust pine tree over my shoulder and dragging it through my front door. Ya that’s right, betch, JUST CALL ME PAUL BUNYAN. The tree looked and smelled majestic for two whole months and I got to send everyone I know an OBNOXIOUS solo Christmas card to brag about my accomplishment.

5. Created The Salty Ju six years ago and have now maintained it for longer than any job I’ve ever had. Can you imagine if I didn’t have a highly esteemed platform that I pay an annual fee for to share this ICONIC list?! That’s not a world I want to live in. Thank GAWD I invented The Salty Ju. 

4. Published by a humor site thus allowing me to refer to myself as a comedy writer unironically. This was a BIG moment for ya girl. Blogging was a hobby and my audience was my immediate family and friends. Once I was published by an outside source, I could officially call myself a writer and there’s a slight chance I really overused it. In case you missed it…here’s my claim to fame. And also my second published piece that was rejected by everyone else so a blog called Rejected Writers threw me a bone. STILL COUNTS. I’M A COMEDY WRITER!

3. Saved Money. Just a couple of years ago I was going into the back room at work to call Bank of America and yell at them for drilling me with maintenance fees because my “savings account” dipped below $300. I got stuck in a cycle of those dirty MF’ers just repeatedly taking what very little money I had. I think at one point I got so mad that I told them it would be more beneficial for me to have a piggy bank at this point with the way they’re punishing me for being poor. Anyway, I tell you that sob story to make you realize that ever since I graduated college, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck—typically with multiple jobs. For the first time ever I have a savings account and it feels good as hell so suck on THAT, BANK OF AMERICA.

2. Wrote a book. A national shutdown and almost two years of unemployment can really take you to new levels of boredom. For a type A chick like me, I just did everything I could to stay busy, which included writing a collection of my personal essays and compiling them into a whole ass book. It may not be published (yet) but it is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life and I feel pretty freakin awesome that I did it. I taught myself everything there is to know about submitting to publishers and agents, formatting into a manuscript and thanks to my family, I even got my own collector’s edition (art by my fave cousin Ray Ray.) Maybe one day it’ll be sold at a bookstore near you (or like…Amazon) and then I can call myself an AUTHOR too. 

1. Got a REAL DEAL job. I purposefully left #1 open as I crafted this blog over several weeks and wouldn’t you know it, in a total Hail Mary down to the buzzer moment, ya girl got offered a job before entering a new decade of life. WHAT A SUCCESS STORY! Since October 23, 2019, I’ve applied to 215 jobs and had 50 interviews. I’ve updated my resume countless times. I’ve joined networking groups and mentoring groups. I’ve had zoom meetings with strangers “just to connect.” I’ve walked into places and asked if they’re hiring. I’ve been served some cold rejection emails and I’ve been straight up ghosted after interviews. I took a one week hiatus in late January after a particularly rough rejection to cry a lot, binge Real Housewives of NY and contemplate the meaning of life with Disney Pixar’s Soul. And then I kept crushing my own soul by applying to more jobs. Let that be a lesson to all of you, if you try REALLY REALLY hard to get a job for a solid year and a half, you just might finally snag one. Or in my case, two. When it rains, it pours, amirite?! So cheers to the Dirty 30 beginning with a new adventure in the Dirty Jerze. Say dirty again. THE SALTY JU TAKES THE DIRTY JERZE COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU THIS SUMMER!

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Salty Stories

Aloha, Bus Driver From My Nightmares!

It was this time three years ago that I was about to embark on the biggest trip of my life. Through my esteemed work as a beer festival event coordinator, I was granted the opportunity to travel to Hawaii to run Honolulu on Tap—because when you live in paradise, why wouldn’t you buy an overpriced ticket to hang out in a giant convention center and drink beer for an entire day? Never one to pass up turning a once in a lifetime work trip into a tropical beach vacay, I recruited my bestie to come with me, mostly so that I could have a snorkeling, beachin & drinkin buddy but also because returning to upstate NY shouting Mahalo and crushing the dubz hang loose hands is WAY funnier tag team style. The plane ride from New York to Honolulu was going to be 11 hours and that is without a doubt the longest I’ve ever been trapped in a plane over the ocean. So how did my body prepare? Oh, glad you asked. By getting a Biiiiiitch of a cold/flu/sinus infection exactly one day prior to my travel. My friend and I started our journey to the land of loosie goosies by taking a four hour bus ride from Albany down to NYC where we would then spend the night with another friend and wake up at the ass of dawn for our 11 hour flight. After mainlining Emergen-C and taking a midday snooze the day before did absolutely nothing to stop the freight train of sickness from ravaging my body, there was 0% of me that wanted to travel for the next few days. Little did I know that it would be a real shitstorm with or without snot profusely leaking out of my nose. 

We boarded the bus and found our seats, ready for naptime as the sun had already set. I was just getting as comfortable as a 5’9” ganglerod can in a very limited legroom bus seat when we heard the crackle of the loudspeaker. As soon as our driver began his announcements, my friend and I knew we were in for the ride of our lives. It appeared as though luck had placed us on a vehicle driven by Satan himself. I’ve never experienced “announcements” on a bus past age 11 and yet here I was at 26 listening to a driver sternly tell a packed bus of grown adults that this would be a QUIET ride and we would NOT want to find out what happens if someone speaks. Uh, RED FLAG MUCH? As someone who had sneezed about 14 times just boarding the bus alone, I immediately began to shake with fear that my body would betray me and I’d get ejected at full speed on the highway for my noisemaking on the silent bus. It turns out, I didn’t need to stifle my sneezes or dab at my waterfall of snot quietly (not being able to blow your nose just makes it 100x sloppier) because I wasn’t going to be the culprit who took this ship down.

About an hour into the ride after SEVERAL shushes from our fearless leader when someone dared to crinkle a snack wrapper (it was me…snacking is life), a cellphone ringtone echoed through the prison that was our ride. A collective gasp was heard as we wondered what the punishment would be but THAT WASN’T ALL. Following the jingle, we heard a normal speaking voice carrying a godforsaken cell phone conversation. The driver was swift to hit that loudspeaker again and tell this renegade to get the hell off of her phone or get the hell off of this bus. She did not oblige. He continued to harass her via tiny bus megaphone, while the rest of us cringed out of our skin and wanted to die on the spot rather than find out what happens when in a free country you take a phone call on a bus that you paid to sit on. The crew was getting restless, people shouted from the back for this woman to just get off her phone and save us all. Amongst the vocal unrest, a hero that we didn’t ask for, but that we all needed came to this cellphone yapper’s defense and fired back that this woman was receiving news of a death. I mean, you can’t script it, folks. This seemed to settle the Lord of the Flies crowd forming in the back preparing for a forced takedown of cellphone lady. You know who did not settle for one single second?

Nazi bus driver.

We could now hear that the lady was upset and rather than easing up on the code of silence, our bus driver doubled down as someone who probably kicks puppies does. HE PULLED THE BUS OVER. This MF’er whipped that bus right off the side of the highway, slammed it in park and warned us he would not be putting it back into drive until this bus was noise-free. A riot ensued. Shouts went from back to front, the driver continued to prove he was an incredibly mentally-unstable individual and most importantly, our safety was in this man’s hands. A man who PULLED THE BUS OVER ON THE HIGHWAY LIKE WE WERE HIS CHILDREN FIGHTING IN THE BACK AND HE WANTED TO TEACH US A LESSON. Nope, no children fighting here, Sarge, just a grown woman receiving a death announcement via telephone and crying about it. I obviously sat there in silence, clutching a tissue to my face to hide the fact that I was downright terrified of not only this much stranger interaction, but also that this unhinged man was put in ANY position of power. Obviously I would be the first to be eaten on a desert island. After much convincing, and a promise from the grieving lady that she wouldn’t dare use her cellphone again and would dial her sobs down to a suppressed hiccup, Driving Hitler allowed us to continue our journey of silence. There would be no round robin singing of ‘The Wheels on the Bus go round and round’ on this ride.

We arrived in NYC without another incident and I’ve never scrambled off of a bus faster—and that’s saying a lot because my middle school bus driver’s nickname was Chomo for child molester. And that was just the first leg of our trip. I danced in and out of a fever throughout the night, taunted by nightmares of our bus driver hitting the gas off of a cliff plummeting to our death because I had audibly farted in my sleep, then boarded a plane for 11 hours of mouth breathing and a fiery sore throat. The good news is I survived. The bad news is it rained all week in Hawaii, our snorkeling excursion was cancelled due to high winds, I reversed the rental car into a cement parking beam, and exactly 3 days after I returned from the biggest trip of my life and finally kicked my sinus infection, I was laid off. You know who probably wasn’t laid off after terrorizing his passengers? That bus driver. MAHALO.

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Salty Stories

The DMV Did Me Dirty

Here’s the deal, I’ve got a real hot streak of GLAMOUR shots on my driver’s license and I’m not ready or willing to give that self-imposed title up just yet. (My passport photos are another story, anyone except Taylor Swift who knows how to closed mouth smile and NOT look like a serial killer, get @ me with some tips.) These are supposed to be my peak years and I’m RAPIDLY approaching the swift drop on that rollercoaster, so I really need to capture it when I can. On my driver’s license is really the best way to do so. It’s a government issued document and one that I’ll have to show to a stranger every single time I enter a bar or order an adult bevvy. That’s a lot of eyes on one pic, and I say that knowing that I’ve never gotten more than 15 likes on anything I’ve ever posted on social media. ID PHOTOS ARE ALL I HAVE ANYMORE. I never thought this day would come. 

On my 16th birthday, I took my driver’s test—told no one I was taking it so I didn’t have to tell them if I failed (old hockey trick)—and looked like a youthful babe soda in my very first license photo. I had a pre-summer tan, styled hair and an adorable teal dress. All of which could be seen as it was proportionately distanced and sized. In fact, anytime a friend, foe or stranger brought up their dreadful license photo, I paraded that shit around for all to see. Oh you look like you just drowned your kids in a bathtub in your photo? I look like a beauty queen, READ IT AND WEEP BITCHES!

It might be suggested that I annoyed everyone with how much I worked my ID into a conversation. I almost didn’t want to get a fake ID in college for fear of having a fake hideous photo. Fortunately, my sister provided my “fake” and she also takes a great pic. When I turned 21, I did everything in my power to keep my original photo. Unfortunately I was met with much frustration and eye rolls at the dear ole DMV. I took a shitty temp pic until I could get myself home to where my mom had recently become employed at the DMV and promised a full photoshoot to get the right headshot. I cannot stress this enough, I recommend everyone has a relative working at the DMV. Not only did I not have to wait in line and suffer years of my life in that soul-sucking place but I literally got to treat my license photo like a JCPenney portrait shoot minus the kickass 90’s backdrops. Plus my mom knows all of my best angles and I got as many reshoots as I demanded. Another stellar ID was created. Note the carefully curated white lace tank to once again, pop that bronze glow. (PRO tip.)

And now here we are in my 29th year, license expired. Thanks to COVID, I was able to push that renewal back for a solid 5 months before I could go into the DMV again safely. And you better BELIEVE I planned on preparing for this appointment with a full blowout and face of makeup after months of being a loungewear shut-in. Unfortunately for all involved, when the day arrived, I had a friend in town and poorly planned our morning. Eager to fit a scenic 14 mile bike ride in and soak up the sun before my appointment, I let the morning get away from me and all of a sudden I had 15 minutes to shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, curl my hair and pick out the perfect outfit to enhance my summer tan. On the 30 minute drive back to my house (in the opposite direction of the DMV) I began to panic that I would become * insert tone of absolute disgust here*: an UGLY ID holder. And not just like casual caught off guard for a pic ugly…unshowered, hair pulled up under a hat, just sweat my ass off in a high speed bike ride to try and make up for my poor time management, no makeup, in a tee with visible pit stains kind of UGLY. I wondered how horrible it would be to cancel my appointment. Or just commit to it and then immediately change my photo at a later date. All of these options were either incredibly inconvenient or more expensive. This is when I really had to look inward and have a stern talk with myself about what was important here. How I look in a photograph that’s the size of a stamp or keeping an appointment it took me a month to get for the renewal of my driver’s license that had been expired for almost half a year now. The answer was my looks and that is the most obvious thing on this earth. Having been born with naturally curly hair that I let air-dry, I cannot allow myself to be photographed within a few hours of my daily shower or I’ll look like ole ramen-head ass Justin Timberlake that immediately turned into a meme because of HOW BAD IT LOOKED. So it’s not even like I could trim time off of my prep by leaving my locks au naturel. 

I arrived home and I’ve never gotten ready faster in my entire life. And you know what? I looked like a 10. From the front. I never dried my hair in the back. Too time consuming and the back of my head will never be featured on an ID. I selected a teal dress to accentuate the new race I had become from 4 straight months of baking in the sun and even tossed on my custom-made Salty Ju jean jacket on top of that for clout. All of my fans and supporters (my sister and my friend) applauded my Herculean effort to transform myself into a top model in 15 minutes flat. I expected paparazzi to be hiding in the bushes when I exited my house, shoveling peanut butter crackers in my cracker hole because I skipped lunch in favor of my looks. I got to the DMV with two minutes to spare and ready to do the cover of Vogue, should Rosie at counter 8 impromptu ask me to. We got the long-awaited photo out of the way first and when I tell you it was horrific, that is an understatement. It turns out, no matter how GREAT I look (or dress…my outfit didn’t even graze the photo), if you close crop my head in the square, there is REALLY no positive way to spin that. Rosie snapped away and showed me the pic for review where my jaw resided on the ground. I didn’t think it was possible to look like the poster child for my 600 lb life and yet a super zoom WILL DO THAT. My chins were abundant and falling out of frame as the square went from my forehead to my first chin, also giving me a buzz cut in the process–so much for drying and curling my precious locks. That was a proportion that Rosie felt comfortable with and to be honest I would’ve asked for a reshoot, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to and it looked like the camera setup would be permanently unforgiving. I had just carefully curated a look and an outfit for a MEGAHEAD PHOTO THAT I’LL BE STUCK WITH FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS. But don’t worry, the guy at counter 10 who processed my renewal told me it’s a great photo and he doesn’t just tell everyone that. He also complimented my nail polish so obviously he was just trying to bang me. My perfect ID photo streak has come to an abrupt and aggressive end and I will forever curse this stupid day. Ten years from now, I’m bringing my own photographer.

And as if NY State wasn’t cruel enough, they double up on your mug, hologram style. So that Salty Ju Megahead can also float in space on the right side of my ID reminding me to invest in a neckline slimmer.

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