The Truth About Carrie Bradshaw (And The Seemingly Fabulous Lives of Writers)

Sex and the City has been off the air for a decade now, but the fashionable trials and tribulations of Carrie Bradshaw and her trio of gal pals still live on in the hearts of many.

Haters and cynics have been quick to criticize how the show unrealistically portrayed the lifestyle of a writer, particularly one who lives in Manhattan and manages to stock her closet with a plethora of designer labels.

Throughout its six-season run, the show has vaguely attempted to justify Carrie's living situation. Her apartment has been described as rent-controlled. And...that's about it. Yes, her weekly newspaper column got turned into a book, and in season 5 she mentioned how thrilled she was to write for Vogue at $4.25 a word, a pay rate that is practically unheard of in today's world where print is a dying medium (less readers = less advertisers = less money) and online journalism is mostly built on a foundation of volunteer (i.e. non-paying) work. And really, how long does an advance from a soon-to-be-published book last for someone with Carrie's spending habits? That paycheck can only cover a finite amount of fabulous meals and fabulous cocktails at fabulous restaurants -- as well as a fabulous wardrobe.

Let's approach this from a socioeconomic standpoint, particularly in the era during which SATC took place: The late 90s and early aughts were a time when print media was still a viable platform on which to earn a modest, fixed income. Blogs had yet to take over. The term "news feed" wasn't even a thing yet. Therefore legit and established writers like Carrie could have feasibly paid their bills. But not with one source of income.

Any writer will tell you that, if you're name isn't Stephen King or Anna Quindlen, it's a daily hustle to make a living as one. No writer can live off one published piece of work. There's a reason why "writer" is an umbrella term to cover words like "journalist," "columnist," "critic," "novelist," "author," and "blogger." Most writers have to work in all types of literary fields. In my opinion, the more you can adapt to different styles, the better writer you become.

But I digress.

As a burgeoning writer myself (I'm currently "in talks" with a literary agent in regards to my own book - did that sound as obnoxious as it felt writing it?), I've started to realize something. When I now look at all of the Manolo Blahniks and Cosmopolitans Carrie Bradshaw has gone through over the years, I understand how she did it, how she was able to get away with it. I have uncovered the secret that explains how this woman was able to conduct a luxurious lifestyle without completely wiping out her bank account. I have discovered (hypothetically, of course) THE TRUTH.

Here it goes...

She got all that shit for free.

Hear me out:

When a writer develops a pretty decent reputation, especially while attached to certain media outlets, there are people -- particularly publicists -- who will reach out to said writer and request him/her to give their client -- namely a film, restaurant, fashion designer, or hotel -- some coverage in the media. It's almost like a movie star or athlete being approached to endorse a new vitamin-infused energy drink. Those celebs probably have a garage overflowing with bottles of the product. However, whereas they may receive a hefty amount of money for promoting that drink, writers get little to no dollars -- just a free sample.

I should know. Rather than live with a closet full of couture, I have an entertainment center loaded with enough books and films to stock up my local Barnes & Noble. Most of these are titles I've either written about, reviewed, or endorsed in some way. Half of the films I see in theaters every year are complimentary (even the popcorn, sometimes). Those amazing meals I've had the pleasure of savoring at chic restaurants? On the house. And those trips to Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Canada in the past year? Free.

Now, how much did I make writing about those aforementioned movies, menus, and travel destinations? What I was paid as a writer last year amounted to less than what I currently make in a week at my full-time job at Stun Creative. But make no mistake: I am grateful for everything I've received. It is certainly better than getting nothing at all.

However, it's all an illusion, this romanticized image of a writer living large. A writer only appears to afford such luxuries when, in fact, he or she is receiving complimentary schwag for the sake of publicity. And there's absolutely no shame in being showered with gifts like a fashionable $300 winter coat to wear during a press trip to Whistler Mountain...or a brand new wireless Bluetooth speaker from the generous folks at iHome Audio.

This is a practice that can probably be traced back to...let's just say "a long time ago." Look at Truman Capote! That soft-spoken shorty had access to all the trimmings of New York City's high society. I wouldn't be surprised if he used his connections to get hooked up with a three-piece suit for a party or a tasty meal at Manhattan's Stork Club.

Therefore it's reasonable to assume that Sex and the City's heroine never actually purchased those designer duds she wore on a regular basis, and she probably didn't pay for those drinks and appetizers at that hot new bar in the Meatpacking District...because she wrote about them in her newspaper column. And got paid in free goods. It's like a barter trade -- give some free publicity, earn a nice perk.

The only time this became blatantly clear was during the first Sex and the City movie: Carrie, now a published writer of several books, had become more of a household name (within the film, that is). She even got a wedding-themed Vanity Fair photo spread dedicated to her marriage to Big. And then there was that Vera Wang wedding dress she received as "a gift" from the designer herself. You could hear the collective gasp of envy in the theater when Carrie opened that big white box.

And let's not forget that all-expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi in the 2010 sequel, the result of an Arab sheikh's attempt to get Samantha to devise a PR campaign for his sprawling resort. Without her PR connection, our gal Carrie would have never gone on that Middle Eastern adventure (and I'm sure she wrote about her exotic experiences, especially running into Aiden, for her weekly column).

So, in conclusion, I'm just like Carrie Bradshaw. Or maybe that's something I tell my deluded self to make me feel better about my life. Heck, my bedroom is laid out just like hers, with a large closet space connected to a bathroom with two doors.

Either way, you know what I'm talking about. The next time you pop in one of your Sex and the City DVDs and start drooling over Carrie's Christian Lacroix ensemble, remember: she most likely didn't drop a single dime on it.

Gotta run. I'm off to Palm Springs to stay at the Welk Resort for a little weekend writing retreat.

And yes, I got the room for free. #sorrynotsorry


10 Songs Perfect For Crying Alone On Your Bathroom Floor

We've all had those bad days, those depressing times when we needed a good cry, to unabashedly feel sorry for ourselves, to feel like the world is covered by one giant, dark cloud that is about to unleash a shitstorm of pain and heartache.

Fall is upon us, nights will grow longer, and we all know how people's moods tend to change along with the leaves. So why not have a soundtrack to accompany those miserably melancholy moments?

Grab a bottle of red, keep some Kleenex nearby, and let it all out:

1. "Why" by Annie Lennox - Why? Because its somber orchestration perfectly captures the mood of someone who needs to let go of all the bad shit that's been festering inside. The song simply facilitates release, an emotional purge everyone needs every now and then. Also? It accompanies one of the best scenes in 1995's Boys on the Side.

2. "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell (the 2001 version) - A great theme song for regret. It goes well with a side of heavy sighing and contemplation. Kudos to the music supervisor of the holiday neo-classic Love Actually for choosing this tune for one of the film's most devastating scenes (it kicks in at 1:15).

3. "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt - Raise your hand if you've ever felt undesirable after being on the wrong end of unrequited love! Well, Bonnie's got a song for you...

4. "All By Myself" by Celine Dion (and various artists)
- If Bridget Jones can blare this on the stereo after going through a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of wine while cocooned in oversized pajamas on her couch, then you can too. No shame. #SorryNotSorry

5. "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler - From the soundtrack to the grandmother of all chick flicks, this is the song that always made my mother change the dial on the radio whenever it came on. She didn't need to burst into tears while commuting to work. But you might need to when you reminisce about your bestie and glory days long gone.

6. "Why Does It Always Rain On Me" by Travis - An ode to insomnia, self-loathing, and the search for sunny days. Enjoy!

7. "2AM (Breathe)" by Anna Nalick - There's light at the end of the long and dark tunnel, and Anna Nalick is here to lead the way.

8. "My December" by Josh Groban - Seriously, just check out the 2003 cover of this Linkin Park song from 2000, and you'll be all like, "Holy shit."

9. "Someone Like You" by Adele - So your man found someone new. Go ahead, wish him well, but I know you're hurting deep down inside. Keep telling yourself you're going to be okay. But in the meantime, the arrangement of this 2011 megahit is really telling you to curl up in a ball on the cold tile of your bathroom floor and cry for your losses.

10. "Karma Police" by Radiohead - Just keep repeating "This is what you get" over and over while rocking back and forth in the dark.


My 700th Post: I Said Yes!

699 blog posts later, and here we are.

The above meme is a result of an idea I had while eyeing some Ring Pops in CVS last night on the way home from work. For anyone who can't take another engagement ring photo on their Facebook feed.

You're welcome.


Um, PS - I don't really have diabetes.

LABOR DAZE: The 2014 Summer Playlist, Vol. 3

Goodbye, Summer of 2014.

Thank you for giving us some great beach weather, Chris Pratt, and enough Ice Bucket Challenges to last until the next charity-driven meme turns into another viral gimmick. But before you go, let's celebrate you one more time before we all start to stress out over our Halloween costumes...

1. "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
2. "Big Girls Cry" by Sia
3. "This Is How We Do" by Katy Perry
4. "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor -
5. "Classic" by The Knocks feat. Powers
6. "Paralyzed" by BT feat. Christian Burns:

7. "It Was Always You" by Maroon 5
8. "Everything You Wanted" by Clubfeet:

9. "Lovers on the Sun" by David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
10. "One More Day" by Example
11. "Do or Die (Stay With Me)" by Afrojack & Thirty Seconds to Mars
12. "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj
13. "Ordinary Human" by OneRepublic
14. "Superheroes" by The Script:

15. "Leave Your Lover" by Sam Smith
16. "Everything Remind Me of You" by Tessanne Chin
17. "Here For You" by Gorgon City feat. Laura Welsh
18. "Break The Rules" by Charli XCX:

19. "Beautiful Life" by Armin Van Buuren feat. Cindy Alma
20. "All The Way" by Timeflies
21. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Van O Remix)" by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell


Song of the Month: September 2014

Too bad this sumptuous jam didn't drop earlier this summer. But no bother. If you're looking for a tune to close out The Summer of 2014, look no further.

The Knocks (a.k.a. Ben "B-Roc" Suttner and James "J-Patt" Patterson - not to be confused with the bestselling crime novelist) have crafted a fine, groovetastic number called "Classic" featuring vocals from some chick who goes by the name Powers.

Enjoy the hell out of this one, kids:

*Also, you've probably noticed that I've taken out the word "Theme" in the above headline and abbreviated this series of posts as "Song of the Month." It's just better, no? And yes, it helps with search engine optimization purposes.


Ann Coulter's Ice Bucket Challenge

Thanks to B. Scott's recent post on Facebook, I took the liberty of updating it a bit.


Pop Culture Rant of the Week: Ice Water Mothers

1. Mothers of the world: keep your hands on the wheel and your iPhones off your babies in the backseat. I'm sure your precious children are capable of cute shit at home.

2. I love my friends, especially the ones who know better than to dare me to dump a bucket of ice water on my head. Consider us old-fashioned; we like to directly donate money to charities we wholeheartedly support.

3. The Ariana Grande video for "Break Free" (featuring Zedd, can't forget about him) debuted this week. I didn't think it was possible to produce a prozac-induced remake of Britney's 2000 classic "Oops I Did It Again," but here we are (seriously, I like the girl, but she must have more than two facial expressions in her):

4. This trailer for The Babadook. I'm getting some serious The Others vibes. My guess: there is no monster. The mom is just going nuts and ends up murdering her child. The end.

5. And finally, not so much as a rant but a reflection: Watching Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, and Dead Poets Society will be all the more special from now on.