Summer’s End Astrology

The psychic is in.

By Gabrielle Sierra

August is upon us, and as hot days melt away into hot nights you may be wondering – what should I be doing with myself? How am I to know how to live my life without a psychic providing me with guidance?

Well fear not, dear readers, for I have gazed into my crystal balls and read the cards and monitored the planets, and I am now fully prepared to offer you all the blind life advice you will need to finish out your summer.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

August is your time to shine! If you were nervous about your birthday just remember – age is but a number, and that number is 78, the average lifespan for a person living in the United States. Time is on your side so relax and enjoy! But also don’t forget to be realistic. Take into account all those boozy nights you had in your 20’s that will probably shave a few years off your life. Also the drugs; those can’t help with aging. Plus you probably spend most of your day sitting at a desk which is actually killing you. Oh and senility, that happens at some point. Anyway, happy birthday you!

Virgo  (August 23 – September 22)

It isn’t your birthday yet, Diane, no one wants to hear about your potential party options.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Beautiful, kind Libra soul. Embracer of harmony and peace all around. This August go a little crazy! Spread a rumor, foment insurrection. Stand up in the middle of your yoga class and start calling people out for their shitty downward dog. Get onto a train before letting others off. Go to a public pool and splash around, shove a kid. You keep your zen for 90 percent of the year, you deserve one cheat month.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

You are known for being passionate and jealous so August is the perfect month to finally let Kevin know you have been following him. Maybe give him the dream journals.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Sagittarius is basically the best sign. Your positive traits – confidence, positivity, intelligence, energy – basically cancel out your negative ones. Superficial? So what, you are confident about it. Inconsistent? Eh, you are intelligent enough to know that you don’t have to follow through on everything. Basically we get it, you own every month, so just stop posting it all on Instagram because it is really getting annoying.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

You are known for your ambition, but also for your practical nature. You set standards for yourself and others, and value responsibility. This month, pull the stick out of your butt and throw caution to the wind! Hit up a party, adopt a pet you are not ready to take care of, miss a few loan payments. Live your life and follow your impulses for once. This can finally be the August you join that fight club. YOLO, baby.

Aquarius  (January 20 – February 18)

Aquarius is an air sign, so this month you should get yourself out there into the great wide open! It is the perfect time to take a vacation: make sure to pick somewhere beautiful and clear where you can breathe deeply and let your hair down in the warm wind. If you can’t get away from work, step out into the hot stagnant air! Scream into the void and think about all your lousy choices as a crazy man pees nearby.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Pisces are known for being selfless so you don’t get a horoscope. Thank you for your sacrifice.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Independent, ambitious, and always up for a chance to trail-blaze, August is the perfect month for an Aries adventure. Grab your pack and head out on the open road. Climb that mountain, take the solo hike, camp under the stars. Document your trip relentlessly. Make sure to have that stranger take the photo from a few different angles so you can choose the best one to post on Facebook. See if the Grand Canyon has Wifi. Don’t forget to Instagram story your breakfast, the world must know.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Taurus people are known for being stubborn. This month, use your persistence for good! Ask for that raise at work and don’t take no for an answer. Camp out in your bosses office and refuse to leave until you are forcibly removed. Security has nothing on you, Taurus.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

You are two personalities in one, and no one knows which to expect. This month celebrate your clever nature and your dual set of traits by fluctuating wildly between emotions. Sob and then laugh hysterically. Throw something in anger and then act very afraid. Be your best self-s.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Your birthday already happened, Ashley, get over it.

The 9 Worst Things We Have Witnessed in Open-Plan Office Spaces

The unpleasant experience of working in an open-plan office space.

By The Editors

Open plan office spaces are pretty hip these days. Cubicle-free desk arrangements encourage employees to communicate out loud and in direct sight of one another, giving the impression of an inclusive, democratic, and youthful company.

But with the lack of offices and walls comes an obvious lack of privacy. While some have responded to this by moving their personal business to the seclusion of a closed room or restroom, others have embraced the public nature of these spaces by going public with their once-private acts.

We here at High-Strung have all experienced working in an open plan office space at one point or another, and we are here to tell you: it gets real unpleasant real fast.

Here are nine of the worst things we have seen and experienced.

1. One of us noticed a man flossing his teeth in the office. While walking around. Barefoot.

2. Personal boundary issues are amplified —discussing your medical history with your proctologist? Yelling at the delivery person who forgot to bring extra soy sauce? A fight with your partner? Why book a conference room when you can horrify all your coworkers instead?

3. We didn’t know how vigorously someone could pick their nose.

4. Your headphones might obscure the sounds around you, but they don’t save us from your disgusting wet lip-smacking while you savor every bite of your lunch. We hate you.

5. We can’t hate that hard on wedgie picking. We’ve all been there.

6. A collection of half-drunk cups that are slowly piling up into an ominous mountain.

7. Seriously why is this one patch of carpet so wet?

8. Sometimes working with older people in an open office means they don’t understand how volume works through their headphones and you get free access to whatever they’re listening to on their lunch break —which is usually Rachel Maddow.

9. Shared office space means sharing. But why is it always a dude who thinks it’s acceptable to fill the shared trash can with his plastic bottles and smelly leftovers? Just saying dudes are gross.

The Spaces Between Us

We examine space in some of its many forms, from our commutes to our offices, our dating habits to our personal comfort zones.

Space: a five letter word that simultaneously represents nothing and everything. Whether you are being asked to give someone room to breathe or considering our glorious galaxy above, space can be a real mind fuck. From “Are we alone?” to “Should I leave him alone?”, space will always be one of those heavily laden terms that forces us to examine ourselves, dig into our heads, and search for answers.

For our third podcast, Frida, Monica, and Laura examine space in some of its many forms, from our commutes to our offices, our dating habits to our personal comfort zones. So take your protein pills and put your helmet on, and join us as we head into the great beyond.

15 Things That Might Just Happen When the L Train Shuts Down

The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

By Frida Oskarsdottir

In New York, the subway falls under the umbrella of things people are as quick to defend to outsiders as they are to deride to their fellow citymen, like cash-only everything, or muggings. Brief commutes are heralded; half empty rush hour trains are discussed in the hushed tone usually reserved for urban legends. We console each other about our missed appointments, and the cramped compartments wherein people refuse to heed the conductor’s pleas to please, stand clear of the closing doors. 

New York City’s transit system is a clusterfuck the most complex in the world, with its twenty four subway lines spanning 659 miles of track, and that’s without the 5700 buses. So many moving parts and an average of 5.7 million riders each day make it a struggle for the city to find the stressors that most need addressing to avoid disaster and to keep commuters happy, or whatever the word is for when you don’t see a penis on the train.

One teeny-tiny wrench in the already strained system is the apocalyptic 15-month shutdown of the L train slated to begin April 2019. The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan and the lifeblood of 400,000 daily riders. So far, the MTA’s plan for mitigating the impact of the shutdown has been met with audible groans skepticism and continued uncertainty for how its policies will play out. The countdown clock has officially begun, so here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

1. New Yorkers will recognize they’re all in this together, and face the challenges of the shutdown with respect and dignity for their fellow commuters.

2. Just kidding – you will get hit by a train after a wave of rerouted passengers becomes a rat king-esque cluster of intertwined arms and legs, moving as one, squirming until it shoves you off the platform.

3. A new app will help you calculate how many items on your person you would have to barter in order to take a the newly surcharged Lyft home instead of waiting six hours for the train at 1 a.m.

4. Private vehicles may see serious restrictions from the city, following in the footsteps of other progressive metropoles. As a result, flowers will spring forward through the pavement, lush green will overcome the concrete jungle. Man and beast will once again live in harmony.

5. You will get hit by a car because someone’s grandma who has been taking the L train like a champion for the last 20 years had to renew her license to make it to her craft circle. But don’t worry, it will have more than 3 riders in thanks to the HOV3 requirement.

6. The soar in Lyft Line and Uber Pool prices will make way for new ride-sharing experiences – think PiggyBack and WheelBarrow. These will also double as dating apps.

7. You’ll save money by cancelling your gym membership – who needs it with all the extra steps it takes to walk over the Williamsburg Bridge? Bonus: the angrier you are, the faster you’ll go!

8. Despite the fact that bus ridership in New York City has decreased by over 100 million rides over the past eight years and is the slowest out of all big cities in the nation, everyone will seamlessly switch to buses and for sure make it to work on time during rush hour.

9. You will get hit by a bus.

10. Anyone remember this article about a woman in San Francisco who wakes up at 2:15 am to get to work by 7:00 am? Don’t worry if not, you’ll have time to read it again while you’re tucking yourself in at 5:00 pm.

11. The new additional cars on the G train, until now the stumpiest of all lines, will serve as makeshift studio apartments for those who have had to sell their billion dollar Williamsburg properties at a loss.

12. On April 1st, 2019, 1-2% of The Rerouted will take the form of cyclists, removing the tags from their spandex and strapping on their shiny new helmets, triumphant in newfound liberty and pursuit of a fun and exhilarating personal commute since the city’s plan proposes a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th Street, the first in Manhattan.

13. You will get hit by a bike, because all of a sudden there are thousands of uneasy bikers on Manhattan’s only crosstown two-way protected bike lane.

14. #EastRivering will trend when a desperate workforce population braves a swim in the murky green waters rather than sit on the stopped J train for another second.

15. Everything will be OK because New York is the greatest fuckin’ city on Earth and I’m walkin’ here alright???

Your Forgotten New Year’s Resolutions Are Basically Mean Teenage Girls

“Hey girl hey! It’s me, the manifestation of your New Year’s resolution from 2017. What happened to your hair? It looks weird.”

By Gabrielle Sierra

You are relaxing on your couch enjoying the last of the eggnog and your eighth episode of “The Crown.” Suddenly the door swings open. In walks a perfectly coiffed teenage girl. She looks around your apartment with a faint air of disgust and disappointment. You freeze and are transported right back to high school, suddenly self conscious and far too aware of your paint-splattered sweatpants. The teen floats over to you in a cloud of Victoria’s Secret perfume and air kisses the space around your face before beginning to speak.

“Hey girl hey! It’s me, the manifestation of your New Year’s resolution from 2017. What happened to your hair? It looks weird.”

She flops into a chair.

“Anyway, I’m here to inform you that you have already abandoned and completely failed to achieve this year’s resolution, just as you failed to achieve me last year. It is a real drag.”

She pauses.

“Do you have any seltzer?”

You remain frozen and speechless as she continues to talk.

“Why are you looking at me like that? Ohmygod, do you even remember me? Here let me pinch your thigh. (She does.) That’s right, “Go To The Gym”. That’s me! Oh stop it, I didn’t pinch you that hard.

Anyway, you gave up on me about a week into March and never looked back. And no, going to Soul Cycle once every few weeks does not count.

Now, I am sure you are wondering, ‘how could I have already failed at this year’s resolution when we are only a week or two into 2018?’

Well, let me call in “Drink Less Alcohol”, your 2018 goal.”

You cringe. In walks an equally beautiful teen girl. This one looks slightly more menacing. They greet one another with a perfectly executed windmill high-five.

“Hey bitch.”

“You look so skinny, I hate you.”

The teen girl manifestation of your forgotten 2017 resolution returns to leading the conversation as the new teen hands over her notes and sits, eyeing your sweatpants.  

“So let’s see, according to her notes you drank on New Year’s Eve. Well, we’ll let that one slide because it was the holiday and we aren’t monsters.”

She pauses and leans in towards you with meaning.

“We are on your side, so stop trying to make this out to be an attack on you.

You also drank during New Year’s Day brunch. Five mimosas as part of a bottomless booze special. You sure tried hard to find that bottom, maybe that should have been your resolution.”

The two teens giggle and your failed 2017 resolution turns back to you.

“I’m not being mean I am just being honest.

Continuing on, the day after that you went to a dinner party and had a glass of red wine. And, okay, you skipped this day but you drank that weekend and last Tuesday you had a few beers after work and right now you are about to finish a container of eggnog that may or may not expire tomorrow.”

The teens stare at your hand, frozen around the glass of eggnog that may or may not expire tomorrow.

“Look, I care about you. We care about you. What you do has an effect on all of the Resolutions. 2016’s ‘Finish Your Novel’ and 2013’s ‘Stop Taking Your Mother’s Comments So Personally’ were too embarrassed to even come here today.”

She pauses and rises from her seat, crouching down by the couch and taking your free hand.

“What I want you to do is start making achievable resolutions. Resolutions that are realistic for your level of commitment.

So maybe instead of ‘Go To The Gym,’ you can resolve to go for a short walk around the apartment. And instead of ‘Drink Less Alcohol’, you can resolve to just ‘Drink Less’ – that could include water, juice, anything really. Instead of 2014’s ‘Meet Someone Special’, just resolve to ‘Meet Someone’. Go vague with goals like, ‘Travel More,’ because that could just mean taking the train a few stops further every morning and then backtracking so you get to work on time.”

Both teens rise and stand over the couch. “Drink Less Alcohol” reapplies her lip gloss.

“Don’t think of these as loopholes or half-assed resolutions, think of them as sensible goals. Reachable finish lines. Things someone like you could be proud of.”

The girls zip up their coats and begin heading to the door.

“We are just trying to be helpful – we just want to see you succeed. Anyway, we have somewhere to be. We’d invite you but you look so comfy there on the couch in those pants. Bye beeb!”

The door slams behind them. You unfreeze and sit up. You think for a few minutes. Eventually you decide to never make another New Year’s resolution again. From now on it is birthday goals all the way. Resolved, you polish off your eggnog and go to bed.

 

Living Alone in a Mice-Infested Apartment According to Emo Songs

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” (reprise)


By Monica Torres


Sufjan Stevens: 

Do You Hear What I Hear (reprise)

To Be Alone With You

Movement II—Heart-Shaped Chocolates Eaten Through

O Come O Come Exterminator

Ahhhh (acapella)

Movement III—Noisy Radiator or Malicious Intruder?

I Saw Thee Under the Couch

Movement IV—Anxious Breathing (with reed organ)

Fall Out Boy:

It’s Not a Side Effect of the Cocaine. I Am Thinking It Must Be a Mouse.

I’m Like a Dust Wipe With the Way I am Trying to Get You Off of My Counter (Me and You)

I’m Screaming, Your Heart’s Beating

Uma Thurman

Fiona Apple:

I’m an Extraordinary Machine but Someone Else Has To Kill This Thing

“When the Four-Legged Pawn…”
When the Four-Legged Pawn Hits the Floor He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Show When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Pantry Ring There’s No Human to Batter When Its Scared Mind Is Your Might so When You Live Solo, You Kill Your Own Mouse and Remember That Mice Climb to the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where It Lands and If You Fail It Won’t Matter, Cuz Your Lease Ends in January.

Guys to Avoid on Social Media

Not to generalize, but every bad man on the Internet falls into these categories.

By Monica Torres

Not to generalize, but every bad man on the Internet falls into these categories.

The Perfomawoke Ally

He’s a feminist because his Twitter bio tells you so. He’s a feminist because his second profile picture shows him at the Women’s March. Cites Ta-Nehisi Coates. Tells you he’s not like other guys. So feminist that he likes to challenge your lived experience as a woman in debates because “well, actually.” Sooooooo feminist he’ll never stop telling you about it.

The Guy So Boring You Swipe Left on the Third Word of His Bio

Loves travel, friends and family! Booze and finding cool restaurants! Stuff and things. Is holding a puppy in his profile picture. In every photo, he is wearing the same shirt.

The Man Who Is a Boy

Describes his independence as having a Netflix subscription. Relates too much to Drake. You can’t decide if it’s going to be worse when you find out he voted for Jill Stein or if he didn’t vote at all. Invites you to sleep on his hard mattress on the floor. Plans always fall through.

The Guy Who’s Too Hot

He’s a human stock image who does fake jobs like “consulting” and “architecture.” You don’t trust his abs to be real and you suspect he’s a bot planted by graduate psychologists conducting an experiment on narcissism. Or a narc.

The Modern Romancer

Messages “Hey sexy” once. Never follows up.

The Bro

Keeps it 100, you feel? Patriots all the way, babyy. Football emoji. When you mention that you follow sports too, he’ll challenge you to name coaches, count championships, remember stats, you name it—because there’s nothing that gets girls going than having their knowledge questioned.

The Guy Married to His Kettlebells

Always hungry and will never stop talking about his latest diet. Wants to take you bouldering. Can’t understand why people can’t eat healthy like him. It’s all about willpower, you know? Sends you links to Paleo recipes. 

The Capitalist Who Sees People as Dollar Signs

His bio has his credit score and Uber rating. His first DM will ask you what you do. Flirts on LinkedIn.

The Guy Too Good at Giving You Space

He’s so respectful of your time and space, maybe a little too respectful? Hello?? Is this man a citizen of Earth? Your messages go seen as read.

The Nice Guy

Says he’s funny and kind and thoughtful and caring in his profile. Will not be funny and thoughtful and caring when you reject him. He bought you a drink —why aren’t you more grateful?

The Guys Who Probably Likely Voted for Trump

Looks normal enough but so do most Nazis. Yikes, is the frog emoji in his bio a Pepe reference? Cannot name a woman author he reads. Has a favorite “Leftist.” Thinks you need to hear both sides. Is sorry you’re sorry.

21 Everyday Email Subjects That Provoke Existential Dread

Mark as Read.

by the Editors

1

From: Helen@YourImportantJob.com
To: Me
CC: All Staff
Subject: I believe you hit reply-all to that last email…

2

From: Franny@PageSix.com
To: Me
Subject line: Um, is this about u?

3

From: Brenda@YourLeastFavoriteSister.com
To: Me
Subject line: Mom called, she’s pissed.

4

From: Hannah@ProjectVeritas.com
To: Me
Subject line: I had no idea that guy was a reporter

5

From: Alumni Society
To: Me
Subject line: Save the date! Reunion 2018!

6

From: Peter@AspiringThinkfluencer.com
To: Me
Subject line:  Please help me complete my Kickstarter!

7

From: Lauren@YourRoommateWhoseFoodYouAlwaysEat.com
Bcc: Me
Subject line: Hope you didn’t eat that chicken I made…

8

From: OkCupid
To: Me
Subject line: KerouacIsMyTruth69 messaged you on OkCupid

9

From: Kelly@YourDreamSchool.com
To: Me
Subject line: We have reviewed your application.

10

From: Brittney@YourHighSchool.edu
To: Me
Subject line: Hey dude, do you value your health? Bc I have a great essential oil investment opportunity for YOU!

11

From: Brandon@YourBank.com
To: Me
Subject line: Security Alert: Unusual Debit Card Activity Detected

12

From: Drew@LinkedIn.com
To: Me
Subject line: You appeared in 85 searches this week

13

From: Mark@TooManyInstagramPosts.com
To: Me
Subject line: did you block me?

14

From: Google Alerts
To: Monica
Subject line: Google Alert – monica torres breitbart

15

From: Pat@YourChattyCoWorker.com
To: Me
Subject line: I’m having an improv show

16

From: Sasha@ThatInternYouSaidYouWouldWriteARecomendationFor.com
To: Me
Subject line: Just following up again!

17

From: Henry@Hookup.com
To: Me
Subject line: So before you hear it from someone else…

18

From: Jackie@TheMagazineYouLove.com
To: Me
Subject: Thank you for your submission!

19

From: Mary@YouAreABadFriend.com
To: Me
Subject: Thanks for forgetting my birthday.

20

From: Tom@YourSnoopingBoyfriend.com
To: Me
Subject: Hey babe, so I was looking through your phone…

21

From: Joan@democraticparty.com
To: Me
Subject: It can get worse – dear God send us money

 

Your Handy Guide to Appropriate Holiday Dinner Reactions

The holiday season is upon us, and that means turkey and ham, trees and menorahs, gifts and gift returns, and most of all, the overwhelming frustration of family.

by Gabrielle Sierra

The holiday season is upon us, and that means turkey and ham, trees and menorahs, gifts and gift returns, and most of all, the overwhelming frustration of family. You can’t choose your relatives, so chances are you’re sharing a table with all types of characters during this particularly divisive time in American history.

It can be hard to know how to handle certain hot-button conversations and sensitive issues, so we created a shortcut guide of five appropriate responses you can use for topics that may (and probably will) arise. Great tidings of comfort and joy to all!


1. Topic: Your aunt’s new boyfriend, Dan, says gun control won’t stop mass shootings and launches into a speech on the second amendment.

Appropriate Response: Offer Dan a domestic beer and add a little bit of salt before you give it to him. Keep adding more salt each time you hand him a new beer.

Why: Because he is being salty. So are you. Also it’s funny to watch him try to figure out if it is him or the beer that is slightly off. (Spoiler, it is both.)


2. Topic: Your brother’s childhood friend who never left your hometown says he doesn’t believe climate change is real because, look, it is snowing right now.

Appropriate Response: Turn the air conditioner on high but also turn the heat on high so everyone gets the chills while also getting really sweaty. When they ask what is wrong with your home say it is a theme and the theme is a tropical luau but in Alaska. And then when your grandmother has to be sent home with a terrible chest cold turn to your brother’s childhood friend and yell “This is all your fault, Ted!”

Why: Luaus are really fun. And yeah, this may punish the elderly or weak but sometimes sacrifices must be made in defense of science.


3. Topic: Your step-brother says that football players kneeling during the flag is disrespectful to the troops.

Appropriate Response: Quiz him on various American history facts while standing in front of the television as he is trying to watch the football game. Drape yourself in an American flag and use your best Grey Gardens accent.

Why: Because you are a real American, that’s why.


4. Topic: Your 19-year-old second cousin says she doesn’t understand why everyone reacted so strongly after her all-blonde sorority hosted a costumed Mexican-themed rave.

Appropriate Response: Walk by her chair and accidentally dump some guacamole in her hair.

Why: Because in this home we counter social stereotypes with food-related stereotypes. Also everyone will be all, “Claire how did you get guacamole in your hair, we aren’t even serving guacamole?” adding a little mystery to the evening.


5. Topic: Your uncle says he doesn’t get why everyone’s so mad at Louis C.K. since it isn’t like he attacked or raped anyone and also he asked those women if he could masturbate in front of them.

Appropriate Response: Set your hair on fire.

Why: Because after spending at least two decades of your life explaining this calmly and kindly to many, many men, you are in the market for a way to transfer the pain from inside your head to the outside.

And to all a good night!