Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Great Electricity of 2016

I know Blogmas is over, but I just can't seem to stay away from you. I have a lot of midnight thoughts, and while normally that'd be the type of thing I'd just write in a journal or distract myself from, I think these are productive midnight thoughts that I want to share with you. This post might be even more disjunct than normal, which is saying something. But as that rando in Mean Girls (she doesn't even go here!) once said, "I just have a lot of feelings."

So, let's get started, shall we? Of course this post is going to be a 2015 In Memoriam of sorts, because as New Year's Eve approaches I find myself pensive and self-reflective and preparing a list of resolutions for 2016. I think the big thing that I really want to emphasize is that I want 2016 to be the Year of Me. There's no way to say that without it sounding self-involved, but I just really need to prioritize myself and my goals. Because 2015 was a pretty good year, and overall I would give it a thumbs-up, but in some ways 2015 was the year I lost myself, and that's scary. But let's backtrack a little bit.

I am a lover of intense proportions. I love my family and my friends with a vehemence so strong that it can be overwhelming. In fact, part of the reason why is I'm super single is because I'm kind of scared of how much I might love another human being if there were romantic entanglements, seeing as I'm already fatigued from all the platonic love I have going on inside me. But it's not just that I love a lot, it's that I have a tender heart that bruises super easily. I feel everything, really hard. And in theory that's not a bad thing, but I've learned that I don't really have boundaries for myself, and I end up voluntarily dragging myself through other people's wreckage.

I love my friends and my family and I want them all to be happy always. Clearly that's not realistic, but when I know someone I care about is unhappy, I feel a pang. And obviously I don't want to appropriate anyone else's pain by saying I know exactly what they're going through and exactly how it feels, because to say that would be to unfairly misconstrue another person's lived experience. However, I am subject to my loved ones' secondhand trauma. I do get overwhelmed and cry when I can't help someone who means a lot to me. And I'm learning that maybe that's me giving too much of myself sometimes.

2015 was the year I gave others my peace of mind. If you totaled up the minutes and hours spent panicking, stressing, and obsessing over everyone else's personal problems, the time might amount to days and weeks gone from my life. That's a lot. That's a lot of time that could've been dedicated to myself, and that's no one's fault but mine. I gladly bore my own burdens and then tried to carry everyone else's weight, too. And in a shocking turn of events, there were times (there are still times) when I collapsed from the pressure a little bit. I don't think that's productive for anyone at all, which is why in 2016 I need to teach myself how to be my own number one priority again.

But if you know me in real life and you're reading this, please don't think this is my cut-throat way of saying I don't care. That couldn't be farther from the truth. What I really want to drive home for you is this: I love you more than you might ever know. Truly. I love you so much that it frustrates me sometimes. And I still want to know everything, or at least as much as you feel comfortable sharing. I want to be there for you and I want to listen to what you have to say, because what you have to say is important. I want to be your support system, but I can't be your entire support structure. That means I can't seek out your distress signals and I can't stop everything I'm doing to clean up every mess. And I know you wouldn't expect me to, and I know me feeling overwhelmed and tired is all my own fault, but just don't take it the wrong way if I use 2016 as an excuse to fall in love with myself. So much that it frustrates me sometimes.

2015 was the year I let people yell at me just because they were having a bad day. 2015 was the year I liked a boy who was nothing but mean to me, yet continued to make excuses as to why that was okay. 2015 was the year I felt daily guilt because I wasn't taking calls from certain people, even though I knew them not being in my life made me a lot happier. But 2015 was also a great year full of professional and personal growth. I learned a lot about who I am and what I want from others, which is a huge reason why I'm embarking on this blog post in the first place.

When you board an airplane, the flight attendant always says "secure your own mask first before assisting others," in the unlikely event the plane should crash or the cabin otherwise loses oxygen. And for the longest time I didn't listen, zoning out as the same old speech rolled over my ear drums. But I'm realizing now that not only is that crucial emergency preparedness advice, it's also crucial life advice. Secure own mask first before assisting others, because in order to help anyone else, you have to save yourself. I've spent twenty years fiddling with others' breathing masks without realizing that I have been absolutely gasping for air. And when you can't breathe, you're not much use to anyone, anyway. That's why when I ring in the New Year tomorrow night, I am making sure my mask is secure.

The other night I couldn't sleep, so I took to scrawling in an old journal. Utter nonsense; 3 AM thoughts even less logical than these. But in my delirious state, I kept coming back to the same phrase, writing it over and over again in varying degrees of terrible handwriting. I kept jotting down three words: I am electric. I am electric. I am electric. And I'm not quite sure what I meant by that, but I believe it to be true. I am bright and fierce and warm and informing and important. And one the reasons why I am all of those things is because I've learned so much from the people I've loved so dearly. And I know everyone who loves me back (and hopefully that includes some of you reading) would want me to take this upcoming year to really explore what it means to find myself. Because I'm not so sure. I just know I deserve my best chance, and I'm taking it. Thank you all for reading.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Blogmas Day 25: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Well, guys...we did it. Another Blogmas under our belts. It's been quite a weird month, and I'm happy to have shared it with you. Between a 70-degree Christmas, making Dean's List, putting on my first public reading, scoring tickets to a taping of Jimmy Fallon, and trying not to lose my mind in-between, December felt like the month that would never end, but in the best way. And while there is still about week before we bid this year farewell, I'm beginning to tie 2015 with a bow and brace myself for my next adventure, whatever that entails. And there's something about reflecting on the year and winding down from Christmas that leaves me feeling festive and jaunty, and what better way to indulge in that feeling than a poorly planned ode to 2016? This seems like an odd end to Blogmas, but I don't know, just feels right. Besides, Christmas is super hokey, anyway.

2016 will be more effort, more laughter, and more books.
Less hating, less strife, and less obsessing over my looks.

Learning more about myself and figuring out what that means,
in the way I relate to others and the ways I achieve my dreams.

Being more deliberate in the things I say and do,
Telling people I love them (and yes, that probably means you.)

Trying my very best to take full advantage of my time,
and maybe less cheesy blog posts in which I try to rhyme.

But for now that seems to be the task, with no other plans in sight.
So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Blogmas Day 24: Things I've Learned--December

Remember a few months ago when I wrote a blog post about "Things I've Learned?" We're going to do that again, only this time it's just things I've learned during December, as that feels appropriate as Blogmas winds to a close. Plus, I'm feeling list-y today.

Things I've Learned--December

1) One of the most empowering things you can do is listen to a song you once shared with someone you don't talk to anymore, whether that be through a breakup, a falling out, or any other bad blood. Listen loudly and sing every word; reclaim something you thought you lost.

2) Always, always, always read the assignment rubric.

3) Do the extra credit, because it might just come in handy.

4) Your mom is almost always right, if you'll take the time to listen.

5) Don't apologize for liking "basic" things; the term "basic" is just some loophole way to shame women and girls for liking the things that are marketed to them.

6) You owe yourself the love that you give to other people.

7) Say yes more often, but remember who you are and where your priorities lay.

8) Holding grudges and hating people is boring. Getting angry over tiny things is a wasted effort.

9) Patience. Patience. Patience. Try as hard as you can to have as much as you can.

10) You are so, so, so much more capable than you realize.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Blogmas Day 23: A lot of hanging out with my F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Hello, lovely people! Today was rather uneventful, so instead we're going to talk about Christmas-themed TV. It seems fitting that since I haven't hung out with my friends while I've been home, I've been doing a lot of hanging out with my F.R.I.E.N.D.S. As in Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe. Today I watched every holiday episode the series has to offer so I can objectively and masterfully rank them. Inspired by this Buzzfeed article. 

1) Season 7: The One With the Holiday Armadillo

The main plot: Ross gets to spend the holidays with his son, Ben, and decides it's the perfect time to teach him all about Chanukah. Unfortunately, Ben insists upon Santa making a visit, but when Ross goes to pick up a costume, the only thing he's able to rent is an armadillo getup. Ross then makes up the fictitious "Holiday Armadillo," who visits on Santa's behalf to teach Ben about the history behind Chanukah. All is going relatively well...until Chandler barges in wearing a coworker's borrowed Santa costume, and confuses the ordeal even further.

Why it's #1: This episode is iconic, even among people who don't watch Friends. Ross and Chandler's banter is at its best, and the episode overall has a jolly, festive feel to it. Plus, baby Cole Sprouse as Ben is always a fun blast from the past.

Best line(s) from this episode: "What are you doing" -Chandler

2) Season 6: The One With the Routine

The main plot: Joey's roommate (for a brief time) Jeanine is hired to be a "party person" for a taping that will be used in Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve. Upon telling the gang this, the Gellers lose their shit from nerdy excitement. Jeanine invites Monica and Ross to tag along, as well as Joey (is it a date? No one knows!) and they behave exactly as you'd think they might.

Why it's #2: The main plot is pretty hilarious, and the dance routine itself still makes me bust out laughing. But it ultimately doesn't trump season seven's Christmas episode because it doesn't have as much of a festive feel. But it still manages to get major points for the hilarious choreography and the thought of David Schwimmer and Courteney Cox having to spend God knows how long getting the dance steps down pat.

Best line(s) from this episode:
"Why are you laughing?" -Chandler
"Well...I used to date [Ross], but you're still goin' out with [Monica]!" -Rachel

3) Season Two: The One With Phoebe's Dad

The main plot: Phoebe spent her entire life prior to this episode believing her father was a stock model for picture frames, because after he left her mother before she and her twin sister were born, that's what she was told. She finds out the truth in this episode, and sets out to meet him. She ends up being too nervous, but makes great strides, taking Chandler and Joey along for the ride. Meanwhile, Rachel and Monica's radiator breaks, causing their Christmas party to be a "tropical theme," aka causing everyone to hang out in their undergarments and fighting over ice cubes.

Why it's #3: This episode is touching! It embodies the Christmas spirit and involves all six main characters. Plus, the early episodes are always so much more nostalgic, reflecting back on their old haircuts and wardrobe choices.

Best line(s) from this episode: "Ho-Ho-Ho-ly crap it's hot in here!" -Chandler

4) Season 8: The One With the Creepy Holiday Card

The main plot: Ross's then-girlfriend, Mona, suggests sending out a couple's Christmas card, which causes Ross to completely freak out. Instead of being honest about his reservations, he forges full-speed ahead and accidentally becomes way more devoted than he planned. He even gives Mona his only apartment key in a moment of panic.

Why it's #4: Ross being, forever funny. When Ross gets flustered and nervous, I always die laughing. For this reason, this episode is up there. But it's not super high on the list, because I don't particularly care about Mona, and again the episode itself isn't super holly jolly.

Best line(s) from this episode: "I am now a homeless person in a very serious relationship!" -Ross

5) Season Three: The One Where Rachel Quits

The main plot: Other than the obvious, given the episode's title: Ross accidentally breaks a little girl's (played by a young Mae Whitman) leg while she's selling cookies, a la Girl Scouts, but of course they come up with some other name because of copyright reasons I'm sure. He tries to make it up to her by selling cookies on her behalf so she might win a trip to space camp. Meanwhile, Joey gets a job selling Christmas trees, which infuriates Phoebe, because she thinks the whole process is inhumane and barbaric. Joey convinces Phoebe that the trees are just being given a chance to live up to their potential, which appeases Pheebes, only until she finds out that the old trees that don't sell are put through the wood-chipper.

Why it's #5: The episode ends with the other five friends filling Monica's apartment with the old, neglected Christmas trees, which warms both mine and Phoebe's hearts. But other than this tiny sub-plot, this episode isn't really holiday themed, which is a bummer if you're in the Christmas spirit.

Best line(s) from this episode:
(in regards to the Christmas trees) "How do you sleep at night?" -Phoebe
"Well...I'm pretty tired from luggin' the trees around..." -Joey

6) Season Nine: The One With Christmas in Tulsa

The main plot: Chandler has to spend Christmas and New Year's in Tulsa, during the brief period of season nine when he commutes back and forth between Oklahoma and New York. A co-worker hits on him and tries to get him to cheat on Monica with her, but Chandler (obviously) remains loyal, coming home Christmas Eve after quitting his job.

Why it's #6: Most of this episode is just flashback, and while it's meant to be nostalgic and sweet, I find flashback episodes to just be lazy on the part of the writing team. Still, Chandler is very sweet and uncharacteristically strong in this one, which wins this episode a few points.

Best line(s) from this episode:
"It's so unfair, you don't even like your job!" -Monica
"So? Who does?" -Chandler
"I can't wait to get back to work," -Rachel
"I love my job!" -Joey and Phoebe

7) Season Five: The One With the Inappropriate Sister

The main plot: Rachel finally scores a date with Danny, her crush that moves into the building. But when she finally gets some alone time with him, she meets his sister and finds that the two of them are a little too close to be considered normal and familial. Meanwhile, Phoebe gets a job as a bellringer outside of Macy's, collecting money for charity. The job is tougher than she thinks it's going to be, causing her to be a bit...aggressive to say the least.

Why it's #7: The inappropriate sister bit is funny, but just doesn't at all seem like the plot of a holiday episode. Phoebe's antics score this episode a few points, but not enough to completely salvage it.

Best line(s) from this episode: "Quarter...dime...lint? Not interested in that." -Phoebe

8) Season Four: The One With the Girl from Poughkeepsie

The main plot: Ross meets a girl on the train who he really hits it off with, but he can't decide if the commute is worth it. Meanwhile, Monica is still getting flack at her job, so she enlists Joey as an actor who she fires to assert her dominance.

Why it's #8: This episode isn't bad by any means, but the part about the girl from Poughkeepsie (y'know, the part this episode is named after) just isn't super interesting to me. Plus, the only thing that makes this episode at all holiday-esque is Phoebe's original song that she writes for the rest of the Friends.

Best line(s) from this episode:
"Monica, Monica, have a happy Chanukah,
Saw Santa Claus, he said hello to Ross,
And please tell Joey Christmas will be snowy!
And Rachel and Chandler, fdjsklghsdjgkhdskjghandler!" -Phoebe
(please stop what you're doing and watch the full song here)

And that's about it! I'm wondering if you all would've ordered these episodes differently, or if you agree with my picks. I'll see you tomorrow, for our second to last (how?!) Blogmas post!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blogmas Day 22: If you're lazy and festive, like me

Hey gang! Tonight's blog post is a little bit different--we're making peppermint bark! Or rather...I made peppermint bark earlier today and thought to document the process to teach you all how to do it. It's super easy and only has two ingredients, so if you're lazy and festive, like me, this is perfect! It only takes a few minutes, requires no baking, and will be a hit among your friends and family. It's also a perfect last-minute gift if you need to give a hostess a little somethin' sweet or if you have a potluck at work. Overall: 5 stars, would make again.

To make a (relatively small) batch yourself, you will need...

and that's seriously it! You can add peppermint extract if you really like that minty fresh taste, but why make matters more complicated than need-be?

Next, melt your chocolate in a double boiler. To do this, boil a small pot on water on your stovetop...

...and break the chocolate into small pieces in a heat-safe bowl. This makes the chocolate melt down quicker and more evenly.

Once the water is boiling, place the bowl on top of the boiling water. The steam from the pot will melt the chocolate slowly and evenly, whereas the microwave might scald the chocolate or make the mixture lumpy. Using the double-boiler method might seem tedious, but it barely takes any extra time and is super worth the effort.

It'll melt down pretty quick; just keep an eye on it and keep stirring your mixture. Now's a good time to let you know that you can use any type of chocolate you like, whether that be milk, semi-sweet, get the picture. I just think white chocolate goes great with peppermint and is the most authentic way to make bark that is holiday-approved.

While the chocolate is melting, unwrap 15-20 peppermints and place them in a plastic bag. I suggest double-bagging, to contain crumbs better, but bear in mind that this advice should only be followed in regards to this recipe and definitely not in the bedroom. (That's a condom joke. Sorry, mom.)

I found that the side of a wooden spoon worked the best, but you can also use a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer...or really whatever you have lying around.

Once the peppermints are crushed up, add them to the bowl of melted chocolate and stir to combine. Then, just spread the mixture on a cookie sheet or casserole dish lined with wax paper. Put in the fridge to set (about 30-45 mins) and you're done! The cooled bark pulls easily from the wax paper, so no non-stick spray is required. This also makes for easy cleanup. Just break pieces in your hands for a rustic, authentic end-product (which you'll see I've done here), or run a knife under hot water to cut out perfect squares.

Regardless of the occasion, this is super easy and uninvolved, and can be done in under an hour while you watch the Kardashians or listen to festive tunes. I know this post is a little different than the norm, but I hope you enjoyed nonetheless! A big part of Blogmas is getting into the holiday spirit, and I don't know what better way to do that than to teach you how to make the easiest of Christmas recipes. I think this one would make Buddy the Elf proud.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Blogmas Day 21: I want to DO things and GO places

Hello, everyone! I'm coming at you this afternoon from quite a different location: I'm currently sitting in the lobby of my local Jewish Community Center, hanging out in the lobby while I wait for my mom to finish up work. To preface, though my mom isn't Jewish, she rents out space in their gym, where she owns a series of Jazzercise classes. She also does personal training here a few days a week, with a rotating group of clients. Basically, this is just phase one in her fitness empire. So I've been dragged here today with the promise of going to Trader Joes and Ulta once she's done with her training session. I know the only reason I was even able to have a break is because I took a brief leave of absence from Ulta, but I have points expiring and my employee discount to use. Basically, even when I'm not working, Ulta still owns my ass.

So what else is new? You know that I came home last night around ten o'clock, immediately following my last shift for two weeks. I got off the clock at 8 pm sharp, and I was in my driver's seat at 8:06. It would've been sooner, too, if I was able to find a parking spot closer to the mall. So now things are good; I'm happy to be home and have just about two and a half weeks to just chill. But I'm realizing now that I'm not quite sure how to chill for days and weeks on end, so maybe this break will get real boring real fast.

Ever since I took on a really busy load of work this semester, I don't find myself with a whole lot of spare time, so I've kind of forgotten what to do with myself when I get more than one day off. I'm at the point where "just chillin'" is becoming a foreign concept. While I can totally just stay in one night or just lounge around for a day or two, beyond that I start to lose focus and can't figure out what to do with myself. I want to do things and go places. Plans with family and friends, as far as I'm concerned, should be activity-oriented. The thought of just "hanging out" is strange to me now. Like? What are we gonna do? You just expect me to stop what I'm doing and just relax? Do you know me at all?

And it doesn't even have to be a crazy, blow-out event. In fact, I'd prefer if it wasn't. It can be as simple as going to grab lunch or going to a movie or going to Target to look around. It doesn't take much to entertain me, but I'm at the point in my life where I have to be doing something.

It's gotten to the point now that if I don't have any plans with anyone else, I'll make up errands just so I can pretend to be busy. I'd rather go to Target to go look at underwear than just sit on the couch and flick through channels. I'd rather drop off my mom's dry cleaning and grab coffee than lie in bed until noon. I wish it wasn't this way, because I find that this little habit of mine is a money and time-suck. Because if I go out to "look" at things, I'll usually end up buying something, and then I'll convince myself that I need coffee, which will lead me to believe that I'm also hungry, which will remind me that I want a new outfit to wear out to dinner with my friends in a few days. See what I mean? I wish I was still eighteen and lazy, then all my problems would be solved.

I joke, of course, because even if it's a bit illogical, I love being busy. I love making lists and plans and due dates for myself. It might not be entirely necessary most of the time, but it's just what I have to do. That said, I need to start making a list of excessive errands and events for these 20-ish days home. Otherwise, I might go a little stir-crazy.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blogmas Day 20: Home, wherever that may be

I'm home!! I'm finally, finally writing to you from the comfort of my parents' house. What a great feeling. Though, I will admit, I have some mixed thoughts.

Whenever I arrive after having been gone for awhile, there's always a stack of mail at the foot of my bed and a fresh set of sheets. It's comforting to know that life goes on when I'm not around, but there's still a part of me that finds the phenomenon quite odd. Being a junior in college, I've been living away from home for about three years now, and I'm perfectly content doing so, though obviously I get homesick from time to time (as I think we all do). I just think it's weird that there's almost a ghost of me living in my childhood home: when I'm away, all of my things remain as-is, with none of my old books and knick-knacks touched, the room serving as a reminder that I still live here on occasion and that I'm still a member of the family. I live here anymore? That, I'm not so sure of. While a huge amount of my things remain under my parents' roof, it's all the stuff that I don't need or even think about on a day to day basis: high school yearbooks, ill-fitting hoodies, and things of that sort. And while I call this "home," it's not the residence in which I spend most of my time. But it is where all the most important people in my life are, so that has to account for something.

It's where I go for dentist appointments and where my magazine subscriptions are delivered. It's where I can drive around and point out landmarks from formative childhood moments. But it's not where I work or go to school or where the Dunkin Donuts workers all know my name. See? A strange dichotomy.

I think it just gets weirder the older I get: in previous years, when I was living in a dorm, obviously this felt more like home, because my Harrisonburg abode was hardly home-y. But now I have an apartment decorated with Christmas lights and a parking spot for my car right out front. I have an electric bill and a personal grocery budget. So while Harrisonburg will never quite be home, I gain more and more autonomy there every year, which makes it harder and harder to discern where my permanent residence lies.

It's hard to imagine a day when this bedroom will be a guest room, with all of its current contents in storage, in the garbage, or taken with me on my next adventure. I know that's sooner than I care to admit, though. After this break, I'll only have three more semesters of college before I'm considered a post-grad millennial without a clue. Maybe I'll become a boomerang child to salvage this feeling of displacement I'm having. But I don't think that'll happen (fingers crossed). I think returning home will become more and more foreign the older I get. The good news is it'll never lose its comforting touch, but soon enough this place will just feel like a bed and breakfast owned by my parents where the rates are dirt cheap (free, if you provide your own transportation, in fact!) That's why for now I'm fully marinating in my return home, wherever that may be.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Blogmas Day 19: An exercise in self-love

Hello, friends! Today was lazy and indulgent and not at all eventful. I think today was an exercise in self-love that I really needed. Lots of watching the Food Network and eating cookies and hanging out in a bathrobe. Lots of tending to laundry and packing to go home. I took my time getting ready for work and I curled my hair slowly and with meticulously, which is saying something, because as of late me getting ready for work has been a lot of rushing through my bare minimum makeup routine and running out the door.

Speaking of, I want to make sure I'm on time for my shift tonight, so I'm gonna cut this post short. I hope you all understand. I would've rather typed out a quick little something for you than neglected you entirely as I got back to my apartment after my closing shift. Tomorrow night I go home after seven hours on the sales floor, and I'm still elated by the fact that that's even an option. We'll talk soon!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Blogmas Day 18: Sometimes the grind DOES stop

Hey, friends! It's another late post tonight, I'm afraid. I've been a little all over the place today, but I'm really happy to be ending my night with you all. I've said it before, but I really can't believe Blogmas is almost over! This year the holiday season really snuck up on me, and while I feel like people say that every year, it's especially true this time around. That must have something to do with the lack of cold weather and the fact that I've yet to go home for winter break. But I will soon! As of Monday (fingers crossed!) I'll be finishing up Blogmas from the comfort of my parents' house in Northern Virginia, two hours from where I am now. I can't tell you how happy I am to have a break, although I do feel a little guilty taking two and a half weeks off.

To backtrack a little, let's rewind back to October. The semester was about halfway done, I was getting good grades, and I was starting to get the hang of juggling two jobs. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty confident in myself. Because of this, I decided it would be a great idea to forgo a real Thanksgiving and Christmas break at home with my family, choosing instead to work at Ulta. I was in no way pressured to do this, and I really thought it'd be a great idea at the time. I enthusiastically told my manager that I was ready to work for her all break long, no questions asked, and patted myself on the back for my industrious spirit.

But what seemed like a good idea in October, I quickly realized, wasn't all sunshine and roses once the holidays actually rolled around. At the end of November, while my friends, roommates, and coworkers all packed up to head home to their families and turkey spreads, I found myself working at Ulta the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving. A little bummed, I called my mom and we worked out a plan: I'd be able to come home for five days, during which time we'd have a small family Thanksgiving (just me, her, and my stepdad) a few days early. This was a great solution to combat this choice I had made, though I silently wished I could go back to that day in October when I said I wanted holiday hours. The money, admittedly, was good (and such-needed, as my electric bill was due), but I felt super lonely and empty as I sat on the couch of my empty apartment on Thanksgiving day, eating turkey soup and dinner rolls as I flicked through my Instagram feed full of happy hearts and full stomachs.

Thanksgiving's never really been my favorite holiday, though, so other than a few glum moments, I spent the day cleaning, hanging out with myself, and watching TV. The rest of the time, I was working or sleeping, and when the rest of my college's population trickled back into town, it was like I was never even alone in the first place. After the turkey break, I spent the remaining three weeks working hard at both of my two jobs, studying, and taking final exams. That brings us to now. Or rather, yesterday to be exact.

I went into work last night prepared to see my schedule for the next week. I knew I had begged for lots of hours, but I had a feeling I'd have at least a few days to see my family and be home for the holidays. When I went into the back and read through the hours, though, I came to find a disheartening calendar for myself:

Wednesday, December 23rd: 4-11
Thursday, December 24th: 9-4
Saturday, December 26th: 10-5

I checked the schedule a few more times, trying to convince myself that maybe there was a typo or I wasn't reading carefully enough. But no, the hours in front of me were exactly as planned, and I realized I wouldn't get to go home for Christmas at all. It would be a day spent alone, having presents mailed to and from my apartment, watching cheesy Lifetime movies and being super self-pitying. But I knew I couldn't complain: this wasn't any fault on my managers' part. I asked for lots of hours, and lots of hours I received. I just realized maybe a little too late that what seems like a great idea in October turns out to be a Christmas anti-miracle.

Last night I went to bed with a heavy heart and lots of self-pity. Though I know lots of people have it way, way worse (there are thousands and thousands of people who can't be with their families this holiday season), I wanted nothing more than to be home. So, after talking the ear off of my roommate, my mom, and practically anyone else who would listen, I decided I would rectify the situation. It's something I still feel a little guilty about (though I really needn't), but I think that's just because my anxiety makes me feel guilty or flustered practically all the time.

I woke this morning with a renewed sense of worth. I've realized that while I love working and I love the freedom it gives me, it's not everything. I turned into a little bit of a workaholic this semester, and while that's not a bad thing, neither is a break where a break is due. I made Dean's List after busting my butt through fifteen credit hours, I used my creative energy to its fullest at my marketing job, and I've sold more makeup palettes in the past four months than I can count. So...I decided I wanted--no, needed--a few weeks to go home for the holidays. Though I asked for a bunch of hours, and my manager complied so graciously, I had a feeling that if I asked for the time off, she'd accommodate. That, if anything, is a perk of being a hard worker: when the going gets tough and you really need a favor, you can usually get people to pull some strings. I was delighted to find that this morning, our exchange was pretty nonchalant:

"Hey, can I take the next two weeks off?"
"Yeah, that should be fine! Just leave me a note so I'll remember to keep you off the schedule!"

And that was it.

So, in short, I got the 27th of December through the 10th of January off. I managed to find some girls I work with (bless their angel souls) who agreed to switch some shifts with me, and as of now have pretty much everything lined up. There are still a few loose ends to tie up, but it's looking like I get to go home on Monday morning. I get to decorate the Christmas tree with my parents and watch their faces light up when I give them their gifts. I get to dress my dog up in the pajamas I bought her at Target, because I'm that kind of crazy dog lady. I get to drive around with my high school friends and talk shit about boys and days gone by. And I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I regret being so gung-ho back in October, but I'm happy that I'm giving myself some much deserved time off. Sure, this means I'm missing out on a few hundred dollars that I really would like to have (obviously), but you can't quite put a price on peace of mind and quality time with the people you love. That's what the holidays are about, anyways.

I hope you're having a great start to your weekend and you realize just how worthwhile and precious you and your time are. The lesson I've learned these past few days: contrary to popular belief, sometimes the grind does stop, and often that's for the better.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blogmas Day 17: The sounds of sixty degrees and Christmas lights

Have we done a winter playlist yet? I feel like that's a must. Every time I do a blogging marathon, I always include a seasonable appropriate playlist of songs I'm loving at the moment, old faves, and tunes that fit my current mood. A lot of these are throwbacks and a lot of these are stupid pop songs, but I'm in love with my life right now, and nothing quite captures the mood of that feeling quite like Top 40 hits. So without further adieu, please enjoy the sounds of sixty degrees and Christmas lights.

1) 3am by Meghan Trainor
2) Year 3000 by The Jonas Brothers (are we even surprised, guys?)
3) My House by Flo Rida
4) Christmases When You Were Mine by Taylor Swift
5) Please Come Home For Christmas (Bells Will Be Ringing) by the Eagles (aka my favorite Christmas song of all time/one of my favorite songs regardless of season)
6) Wolves by One Direction
7) Send My Love (to Your New Lover) by Adele
8) Dear No One by Tori Kelly
9) Bad by The Cab
10) Seventeen by Alessia Cara
11) House Party (Acoustic Mixtape) by Sam Hunt

98% of those songs aren't new, because I'm not timely or trendy. But enjoy nonetheless! This is a weird mix of sounds and genres, but I feel like that's how December has been so far. Let me know what you've been listening to!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blogmas Day 16: I'm late and I'm done and I'm sorry!

Hi!! This blog post is late!! It's been a long day!! It's finally over!! Not just the day, but my semester. I finished the last of my finals this morning and I have zero academic obligations until mid-January. It feels so good you have no idea. So in short: I'm late and I'm done and I'm sorry!

My Christmas presents are all purchased and wrapped, I made three batches of cookies today with my darling friend Eppie, and I get to throw away literally mounds of handouts and syllabi. I've reached the promised land of holiday festivities and relaxation. Of course, work (as in, my paid jobs) remains to be a thing, but for now I'm not focused on that. I have no reason to set an alarm tomorrow and no schoolwork that needs to get done for the rest of the year. I feel like I finally released a pent-up exhale that I've been internalizing since September and I'm just now regulating my breathing again to compensate. That means lots of sleep where I can get it, lots of healthier foods, and more self-care. I'm excited. When I got home today from my exams, I proceeded to immediately strip off my jeans and get in bed, and let me tell you: I can't tell you the last time I was that comfortable. With the exception of right now: also pants-less in bed, but with all the lights off as the clock creeps toward 12:30.

I'm so, so content right now and so, so proud of all the work I did this semester. At this point, I don't even care what my GPA ends up being; I'm just pleased with myself for working hard and staying afloat and refusing to give up. For being on my grind through two jobs, two extracurricular writing gigs, and fifteen credit hours. And I'm not saying that to sound braggy or self-important. Rather, I just want it on record that regardless of the grades or the evaluations, I managed to work it these past few months, and I'm proud of myself. I want to celebrate all I achieved as of late. First order of celebration: a good, loooong night's sleep. If you're not ready for bed yet, I'll leave you with a little holiday treat that should keep you occupied for another 10-15 minutes. Because I just love ya that much.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blogmas Day 15: Let's discuss the best album of our generation

Guys, can you believe there's only ten days left of Blogmas? It's been going so fast this year, fam! Thank today, because I thought I'd totally alienate literally all of you, I'm going to review The Jonas Brothers' self-titled 2007 album, because in the past two days since I rediscovered it I've come to the conclusion that it's the best goddamn collection of music on this planet. The Beatles? No. The Rolling Stones? Eh. Fleetwood Mac? Nope. The JoBros are where it's at. Obviously I'm exaggerating to an excessive degree, but I'd be lying if I told you I had listened to much else in the past two days.

For those of you who might not remember the glory days of Disney, back when Miley was our patron saint and the Jonas Brothers were our Holy Trinity. The appeal of the Jonas Brothers were their (highly manufactured) rough-around-the-edges aesthetic and their pop-rock music. They weren't a boyband, because they technically played instruments. Kevin rocked the guitar, Joe "played" the tambourine on occasion, and Nick--objectively the most talented of the three--switched between the guitar and the piano. If you can't tell by my blatant bias, when I discovered the boys at the ripe old age of eleven, I quickly picked Nick as my favorite and my prepubescent celebrity crush. As the baby of the group, Nick was discovered first as Broadway child star, then later as a solo Christian artist. But, as precious as the little dark-haired cherub was, there just wasn't enough softcore edge. Thus, Joe and Kevin were roped into the deal, producing the genuinely marketed band of brothers the late 2000s knew and loved. Obviously, as recent Billboard stats have shown, Nick went on to eventually have that solo career after all, after the JoBros disbanded, which is only fair. But while the Jonas Brother were together, they were a force to be reckoned with. I was smitten with just the idea of them as a preteen, and when I met them in seventh grade (at their peak popularity) I just nearly died. But enough about me, let's discuss the best album of our generation.

Technically "Jonas Brothers", the album, was the sophomore album from the band, but who really remembers their first album? It was called "It's About Time," and was released under Columbia Records (aka pre-Disney). The only song on that tracklist you might recognize is "Mandy," a cutesy song about a former neighbor and ex-girlfriend (she definitely dated one of them, right?) that made the rounds on the Radio Disney circuit for a brief time. But the 2007 album was the boys' first record as official Disney-affiliated artists, giving the boys much more airtime and relevance among the tweens (aka me and my friends at the time). The magic behind their music are the heartfelt, yet sometimes immature, lyrics and their raspy, yet sometimes whiny, voices. Let's go track by track, shall we?

1) S.O.S.
Who doesn't remember this song? It was, and remains to be, a banger. One of my favorite things about music made starting in the 2000s are the references to technology and slang that eventually hilariously date the tracks after a few years go by. This song is no exception. My favorite part: "a conversation on IM, well I'm done. We're texting, sorry for the miscommunication." With penned lyrics about some mystery girl who is vapid and clueless, I can picture the music video like it was yesterday: If I remember correctly, one of them was wearing one of those newsboy caps that were popular at that time. What a way to kick off the album with a bang.

2) Hold On
This one was my favorite back in the day, and it's still up there. You can't help but smile and clench your fists when singing along to chorus. Honestly, I don't really know what the words are about to this day, but I love it nonetheless.

3) Goodnight and Goodbye
THIS. SONG. IS. A. BANGER. With an infectious beat that is just off-cadence enough, this song showcases Nick's breathy, sometimes shrill, solos. I picked him as my favorite for a reason: not only the cutest, but his voice is/was the most...unique.

4) That's Just The Way We Roll
WHAT IS THIS SONG ABOUT? I guarantee this song was the result of that one time Joe smoked weed with Miley and Demi Lovato. With lyrics like "I woke up on my roof with my brothers/There's a whale in the pool with my mother/And my dad paints the house different colors!" I'm not quite sure how they managed to sell this one to Disney, other than the fun, head-bopping chorus all about being yourself ("so call us freaks, but THAT'S just the way we roll!")

5) Hello Beautiful
Every boyband needs a good ballad or two, and the JoBros are no exception. This admittedly basic love song is very sweet, and if the boys really did write their own songs like they claim to, this is actually a really mature, nice song? It's not groundbreaking or novel by any means, but it's a sweet song to listen to in the background while you're doing something else.

6) Still In Love With You
ANOTHER ONE OF MY UNAPOLOGETIC FAVES. Another great one for driving around and singing along to, it also showcases Nick's whiny high notes (especially during the chorus: "not like I did. What's the point? You're not listening anyway") to their fullest. The only part of this song that makes zero sense is the chorus that immediately contradicts itself:

"You left without a single word, not even sorry.
It might've hurt the worst to hear you say 'I'm leaving goodbye!'" just said she left without a single word...but she also said "I'm leaving goodbye"? Not the most logical songwriting, but a bop nonetheless.

7) Australia
Beat-wise, this song sounds super similar to track six, and is one of those kind of forgettable tracks that gets lost in the middle. Can't fault the Jonas Brothers for that; not every song on every album is the bomb. (Talking about this album has got me using slang from the late 2000s, if you can't tell)

8) Games
WHY DOES EVERY YOUNG BAND OF BOYS WRITE SONGS COMPLAINING ABOUT "CRAZY GIRLS" WHO "PLAY GAMES"? Feminist hang-ups aside, I still jam to this immature song about how ~*~unfair~*~ and *~*psycho*~* girls can be. I jam to it with feminism in my heart, of course.

9) When You Look Me in the Eyes
Another slow jam. This one is actually really...poignant and sweet? I remember the music video was black and white and featured Nick behind a piano being a troubled artist and I was so about it. I also think the way Nick and Joe switch lines, and the way the lines are written they kind of blend into each other. It's not musical genius by any means, but I still fuck with it.

10) Inseparable
No other song on this album feels like true, authentic pop-rock quite like this one. Heavy electric guitar and drum riffs for no reason, this one feels like it better belongs on a Blink-182 or All American Rejects album. And I looooove it. I have a not-so-secret occasional affinity for whiny pop rock, because let's face it: my taste in music is garbage.

11) Just Friends
THIS SONG IS SO ODD BUT I LOVE IT. I remember sending the link to this song on YouTube to my friend Mercedes via AIM (AOL Instant Messenger for all of you who weren't hip in 2007) because it reminded me of her and her friend Jake, who I was convinced was in love with even though they were Just Friends. Songs about unrequited love get written all the time, but what makes this one so odd is it's from the guy's perspective, yet is super...girly? I know that's a shitty thing to say, because gender is a social construct, but this song literally features the lyrics: "I've been making lots of plans, like a picket fence and a rose garden/I'll just keep on dreaming, keep on wishing" What? I'm expected to believe a fifteen-year-old Nick Jonas was planning his future home's landscaping? (I still love this song, though. I laugh and shake my head all the way through because the lyrics are so absurd, but I love it nonetheless.)

12) Hollywood
This song is about how the JoBros won't change or be turned into "robots" by Hollywood and the pressures of fame. Which would be a nice sentiment...if this album wasn't heavily produced by the Disney Network. That's all.

13) Year 3000
WHAT DID WE AS HUMANS DO TO DESERVE YEAR 3000? THIS SONG IS SO PERFECT. THIS SONG FEELS LIKE MIDDLE SCHOOL, AND IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. This one is a Busted cover, and fixed up by Disney Channel to be a little more tame ("your great, great, great granddaughter is mighty fine" got changed to "your great, great, great granddaughter is doin' fine," for example). Every single person who was between the ages of 8 and 16 during the late 2000s has an opinion about this song and vivid memories that accompany it. I feel like if you were to play this song at a college party, everyone in attendance would lose their minds in the best way possible. And if that's not the sign of a bona fide JAM, I don't know what is.

So, there you have it. Why I chose to write this blog post today is beyond me, and if you actually read this far, I love you. You have all the patience in the world. I promise I'll talk about something relevant tomorrow.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Blogmas Day 14: Something to that effect, but not quite as graphic

Hey, everyone! I know this is yet another late blog post, but it's still before midnight, so I'm in the clear! Today's just been a super hectic day, but the good news I'm more than halfway done with finals, and by Wednesday at noon I'll be completely finished! The only thing standing between me and academic freedom is a coding project and a group presentation/final design portfolio that are due during back-to-back exam periods on Wednesday morning. If you can't tell, I'm counting down the minutes.

The only problem here is I've been working in a lot of group projects, and it's kind of stressing me out. Thankfully one of my group presentations is done; we presented today at 2:30, and while I worked with perfectly nice girls I'm so happy it's over. And my group project that's due Wednesday is for my major and is the cumulation of an entire semester of working closely with the same group of three people. They're the best and we get along super well, but I'm sure they'd agree with me when I say I'm 50 Shades of Over working with them. Even when I love my group members as people, nothing makes me want to rip my eyes from their sockets quite like group projects. Wait, ew, that was a gross image. I take that back; something to that effect, but not quite as graphic.

I know that doesn't bode well for me in the adult world, but I promise I work well with others and contribute in a collaborative setting. I'm just putting that in there in case any future employers ever read which case I apologize for all the profanity and unsavory shenanigans. All jokes aside, I'm really looking forward to finishing this semester strong, even if it means trying to diplomatically split up responsibilities among a group of four. Which reminds me: I have to go edit an InDesign file so my group member can take it to our copy center to get printed, so I'm cutting this post short. Sorry it was so late going up today, guys! I promise once I'm released from my finals week shackles we'll have more time to hang out!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Blogmas Day 13: Find the happy

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you're all having a good day, and you're preparing for another week. Starting tomorrow, I have to really put my nose to the grindhouse for my last three finals, but then this semester will be completely done! And thankfully they're just projects and presentations, which honestly I prefer. That way I have more control over my grades, whereas with exams I can study all I want, but ultimately I can't prepare myself for what's on the test. This time around, I just have to check all the boxes and make sure I'm reading the rubric guidelines carefully. But still, with all that in mind, I'm in a mood today. Y'know those days when you can just feel yourself being crabby and irritable but you can't help it? That's where I'm at. I'm just stressed and 50 Shades of Over It. But that's unacceptable. I'm refusing to give in to my mood. So instead I'm putting together a list of reasons why today is a-ok. I'm choosing to find the happy.

1) Today's Taylor Swift's birthday! If you've ever read more than one of my blog posts, you'll know that she's quite literally my queen.
2) I've done a lot of work today! That'll make Future Lauren super happy.
3) I just rediscovered old school Jonas Brothers, and I'm loving it. I was obsessed with them in middle school, but a few years ago I deleted every song of theirs from my iTunes in an attempt to grow up (or something). SUCH a dumb choice. I'm listening to their early albums on Spotify and I still know all the words and genuinely still like a lot of these songs. If I'm being real with you, I'm probably going to redownload a lot of this stuff and reincorporate it back into my rotation of jams.
4) It was 65 degrees today! In December! I didn't even need a jacket! What a time to be alive!
5) I got to sleep in until 11 this morning, and tomorrow I don't even have to set an alarm. My presentation isn't until 2:30, so I just get to sleep until I wake up. What a blessing.
6) I finished all my Christmas shopping yesterday and wrapped my presents! That means I currently have the cutest, most festive spread of presents on my dresser, which just makes me happy and jolly whenever I look at it.
7) I still have the most wonderful friends, who are supportive and funny and inspiring, even in the midst of all this finals week stress.
8) Norbert the Dog exists
9) One of my favorite movies of all time, Clue, turned 30 today! Aka I miiiiight try to watch it tonight if I get a significant amount of work done
10) I get to write a blog that's read by respectful, kind, and supportive people like you!

If any of you are feeling a little down today, I urge you to generate a list of reasons to be happy. I'm genuinely feeling much better. To be fair, that might be because I'm still listening to the musical stylings of Nick, Joe, and Kevin. I'm amazed by how many of these lyrics I still have engrained in my mind.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Blogmas Day 12: Being alone versus being lonely

Good evening, friends. It really is evening, yikes. It's almost midnight and I'm not gonna lie, I almost completely forgot to blog today. Sounds about right. Every time I commit to some sort to blog marathon, whether that be BEDA, Blogmas, or something else, I find myself slacking around the two week mark. I'm not sure why that is; by this time I should be really getting into the groove of things. But anyway, tonight I wanted to talk about something that's on my mind right now: being alone versus being lonely. And I'm not quite sure how my thoughts on the matter are going to progress, so I apologize in advance if this is a little bit disjunct and rambly.

So...being alone versus being lonely. I've experienced both plenty of times in my life, as we all have. As an introvert, I do need my "me time" to recharge after a stressful day or a lot of stimulation. Social interaction is sometimes overwhelming for me. For example, if I work an eight hour shift at Ulta, which requires constantly smiling and engaging people in conversation, when I finally get off I just want to go home and hibernate for a little bit. A lot of my friends don't get that: if they work until 10 but there's a party that night, they'll touch up their makeup in the car and turn up right after they clock out. That, to me, is absurd. When I need a recharge, that's when I need to be alone. I crave it; I'll obviously make exceptions, and sometimes I'll have a weird bout of energy that doesn't send me straight to bed, but more often than not I need to be alone for a while in those circumstances. It's not lonely by any means.

But then there are times when I'm alone when all I want to do is be around people or do something exciting. Days when I've been just hanging out with my thoughts for too long and I just want to be around another human. That's, by contrast, lonely. I'm starting to realize that's the difference: choice. If I'm choosing to be alone: yes, great, awesome, I love it! If I'm alone because everyone else is busy or otherwise occupied: the woooooorst. (I hope you read that in your internal Jean Ralphio voice)

And, yes, there are times when I end up alone without a say in the matter, but I end up having a perfectly nice time with me, myself, and I. And tonight, that's where we're at: I'm alone on a Saturday night, supposedly studying, but instead I'm watching Modern Family. My roommates are all out for the evening, and my other plans fell through. I don't really know where I'm at on the alone versus lonely spectrum right now, (I don't really want to be out and about right now, but I have been entertaining myself for most of the day, and I'm getting bored...) but I'm thinking I might take a long, hot shower. That should help me figure out where I stand on the matter, and hopefully I'll like where I find myself. We'll talk tomorrow, friends!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Blogmas Day 11: It's been a day

Y'all, it's been a day. Me waking up seems like it was exceedingly long ago, and while I've accomplished a lot with my 24 hours today, it means I'm wiped. On today's agenda, I...

-Woke up early to pound out an essay
-Printed and bound my creative nonfiction portfolio
-Met with the members of my group to go over our presentation on Monday (that was excessively taxing)
-Turned in the aforementioned portfolio
-Came home with enough time to eat a quick lunch
-Got ready for work
-Put in a six hour shift at good ol' Ulta
-Went to the grocery store to buy macaroni and cheese and an assorted bag of gummy candy.

So now after a long day and a long week, I'm in bed with fattening food and no reason to set an alarm for tomorrow morning. I do have a little schoolwork to do tomorrow, but for the most part I'm taking it easy. Starting now.

I love you all, and a lengthier post will come tomorrow, I promise.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blogmas Day 10: I am overwhelmed with gratitude

Hello, everyone! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to report back that the reading went so well! I managed to say my piece without making an idiot of myself, and there were so many incredible people who showed up to support me. I am eternally grateful for everyone who was physically, emotionally, or spiritually with me last night; it means more than you can ever know. Whether you sat in the front row last night, brought me flowers, or just texted words of encouragement, you truly made my day and made me feel so loved. To put it simply, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. So overwhelmed, in fact, that as soon as the reading ended, I left the venue and immediately began crying on the short walk to my car. And like clockwork, my mom called me to hear how it went just when the waterworks started. Alarmed, she of course asked why I was crying.

"They're happy tears, Mom. I'm just so proud of myself and happy to be alive."

To backtrack, let me set the scene for you: I left my apartment at 6:30, so by the time I entered the venue it was 6:45 and not a minute earlier. I was nervous enough without arriving awkwardly early, attempting to make small-talk as I meticulously counted the pages of my essay over and over again, as if one had run away while I wasn't paying attention. With my iTunes on shuffle for the drive over, "Girl Almighty" by One Direction began to play through my speakers, with its upbeat tempo. It's never been one of my favorite songs by my boys in 1D, but I couldn't not listen given the occasion. The song is about some anonymous girl who's vibrant and unabashed, and honestly that was the persona I desperately needed to embody just then.

Let's have another toast to the Girl Almighty,
Let's pray we stay young, stay made of lightning.
Am I the only, only believer?
There's something happening here,
I hope you feel what I'm feeling too.

At stoplights I glanced down at my phone only to find a slurry of texts from loved ones, ranging from "Wish I could be there!"s to "On my way!"s. The support made me both excited and nervous; people I care so deeply about were taking time out of their day to lend me their ears, and I sure as Hell didn't want to fuck it up. Sorry for the language, mom.

When I parked, I walked up to the performance venue, a little place in downtown Harrisonburg called The Golden Pony. It's relatively new, but I'd previously never been, as its notorious for attracting hoards of hipsters and alternatives, which we all know I am certainly not. I mean, I just moments ago quoted One Direction. The building sits street level, with its bright and eye-catching window art. I tried to search for a telling photo of its exterior, but Google images and their Facebook page both proved somewhat unhelpful. You'll just have to go with me on this one.

I walked up to a group of my classmates having a smoke before the big event--taking the edge off, I guess. Politely declining their offer to hang out with them in the cancer circle, I ducked into the venue, where nearly everyone else in my class was hustled up to the bar buying themselves a drink, again, taking the edge off. Never before feeling so sadly twenty-years-old in my life, I grabbed some water and proceeded downstairs, where the performance would be held. For some structural context, the Pony is a restaurant and bar upstairs, with an open-air performance venue in the basement below. There was another bar, with a blue-haired bartender wiping down the counter. The venue owner--forever involved and clearly dedicated to his job--was arranging rows of metallic silver chairs as audience members began to file in. It was at that point that my professor had all of us huddle in a group. I was about ready to cry, vomit, or pee my pants. Maybe a combination of all three? But with no time for any of that, I found my seat toward the front, seeing as I'd be making my way to the stage just a few minutes later. In that time, so many of my favorite people filed in: my best friend, with flowers in tow; my roommate Abby, who graciously took time off of work to see me read; my friend Eppie, with whom I get coffee every single Tuesday. And then, as a decent sized crowd settled into their seats, it was time.

My professor, Erica Cavanagh--our MC for the evening and a truly amazing professor and mentor--introduced the reading by giving the audience a brief summary of our semester's courseload and the type of essays that might be read tonight. The majority of us read either personal narratives (which was my essay of choice) or lyric essays; the lyric was especially popular. She then introduced me, the first reader of the night, and I climbed up onstage ready to go. I was still shaking in my boots (actually, I was wearing patent black ballet flats, but you get the point), though I was feigning utter confidence. Y'know: "fake it until you make it."

What happened in the ten minutes that followed are a blur. Honestly, it was such a surreal experience, I think I kind of black out? Is that humanly possible? All I remember is the audience laughed at the right times and through the haze of the bright lights in my eyes I was able to make out the supportive expressions of my friends, classmates, and professors. And according to them, it went well. I didn't put my foot in my mouth, surprisingly! I guess I'll just have to take their word on that, for lack of a fully fledged memory. The piece I read is something I'm proud of, and maybe one day it's something I'll post here, but for now it remains too personal to push out into the never-ending wormholes of the internet.

During an intermission, I briefly reconnected with my poetry professor from last spring (whom I've spoken about on this blog before) who surprised me by coming to the event. I mean, her intention wasn't to surprise me necessarily; she came because myself and another student reading were in her introductory poetry class so she wanted to come out and support. Either way, I was very pleasantly surprised to see her. As she moved along to mingle with other students and colleagues, my friends began to filter out. It was getting late, and the fact that they took time out of their busy finals schedules to come is enough to warm my heart for at least the foreseeable future. I hugged them goodbye, taking their genuine compliments to heart and settled back into my seat to listen to the second half of the reading. The second half was just as entertaining as the first. At times hilarious, at times heartbreaking...either way enlightening and inspiring.

I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the night. When my happy tears dried up, I treated myself to a peanut butter Oreo milkshake and blared old school Taylor Swift on my drive home. The same music I was listening to when I was in middle and high school, wondering if I would ever grow out of my perpetual bad mood and my feelings of inadequacy. As I pulled into my apartment complex, I was listening to "Fifteen," feeling tears threaten to make another appearance.

And when you're fifteen don't forget to look before you fall.
I've found time can heal most anything,
And you just might find who you're supposed to be.
I didn't know who I was supposed to be,
At fifteen.

More happy tears, because I'm just now starting to realize I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and I'm proud of who I am and the progress I've made. I'm happy I can share this experience with you. I'm so glad I get to document my happy thoughts, bottle them up and save them up for a rainy day. So for you, yes you, reading: thank you. You remind me that someone's listening to the things I have to say. It doesn't go unnoticed. I don't take it for granted. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you more than you could know.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


AHHHHHHHH! GUYS MY READING IS IN LESS THAN TWO HOURS AND I'M FREAKING OUT. I'M SO STUPIDLY NERVOUS. I know we just had a talk about this yesterday, but I can't help but be anxious. But I'm trying; I'm giving myself some down time before I start getting ready, lying down in bed and taking some keep breaths. Tbh, my day-to-day anxiety is bad enough, but this is a new level. This is the type of anxiety that has me wishing I had a prescription for Xanax. But without medication to relax my nerves, I'm just trying to take my mind off of my worries by watching videos and listening to music that makes me feel a little less on-edge. So to kill two birds with one stone, I'm going to be sharing those with you today, in case 1) you find yourself to be a bundle of worry at some point in the future or 2) you're just curious to see how I take my mind off of my stressors.

1) Buzzfeed
I always, always, always turn to Buzzfeed when I need to stop thinking about what's going on in my real life. Across their various channels, they have a wide array of videos that are funny, informative, socially aware, scientific...whatever you're in the mood for. My new go-to favorite is "Drunk Girls Get Surprised With Puppies"

2) "Get Ready With Me" videos
Last Blogmas we discussed my love for beauty gurus, but I don't think I ever told you how much I love Get Ready With Me's, GRWMs for short. They're exactly what they sound like: just girls readying their makeup, hair, and outfit for various occasions, whether that's prom, a holiday party, or just an average Tuesday. This sounds like it might be boring, but for some reason I am genuinely captivated by these videos, when they're well-edited and produced. My two favorite beauty vloggers are Meghan Rienks and Ingrid Nilsen; Meghan's GRWMs are cute and a little goofy, whereas Ingrid's are aesthetically pleasing and super soothing. Together it's the perfect nerve-fighting concoction.

3) Celebrity Interviews
This is going to sound so dumb, but watching my favorite celebrities be interviewed or play silly games to promote something is so entertaining; I find myself unabashedly grinning through the whole process. I already embedded my new fave "Tattoo Roulette with One Direction" the other day, so in its place here are some more of my personal favorites.

I mean obviously I love this one; it's two of my faves in one place

And tbh any interview with my boys is going to make me smile, but this one is just one of their more recent ones.

4) Covers 
Especially famous singers covering other famous singers. BBC Radio live lounge has some great videos that feature popular artists remastering some of their favorite songs, and it never disappoints. Some of my go-tos:

5) Ellen.
I mean...does this one even need any explanation? Ellen is the queen of all media, if not the whole world.

Kai is my all-time favorite child to be featured on the show

And if you haven't seen this iconic video from one of Ellen's first seasons, drop everything.

I think that's gonna do it for me tonight, guys. I have to start getting ready for my reading and attempt to stomach some dinner. I'm sure I'll have a positive recount to share with you tomorrow, but send your well wishes nonetheless! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Blogmas Day 8: I was there, I remember it all too well

Good evening, everyone! Tonight's blog post is coming at you as a precursor to a daunting mountain of studying and revision. 'Tis the season to be stressed out, right? But that's not what I wanted to talk about tonight--this blog is a way to distract from my workload. Tonight I wanted to talk about a reading I have tomorrow night and how I'm so. freaking. nervous.

In honor of the semester ending, my professor for my advanced creative nonfiction writing class (which is easily my favorite and most productive course) put together a reading at a local performance venue for all her students. There's thirteen of us total, and we're spending tomorrow night reading some of our work in front of a crowd of friends, professors, and strangers. As of now, the Facebook event says that 50-ish people will be in attendance, but those numbers are very rarely accurate. Regardless of the size of the audience, the fact remains that I'll be hit with a spotlight and share one of my essays on a stage that is normally reserved for legitimate performers (poets, musicians, improv troupes, etc.) And out of all thirteen readers, my professor decided that I'm going first. No pressure or anything!!!

Honestly, I don't know why I'm so freaked out; talking about myself and having a captive audience that has no choice but listen to me are two of my favorite things. I think it's the subject matter that I'll be sharing that's so scary. It's daunting enough to share anything I've written, whether that's a term paper, a short story, or a personal narrative. But to make matters worse, I'm reading a piece entitled "Of Boys and Cars," which is about exactly what you'd think. I'm name-dropping boys from my past with vivid detail that makes it pretty easy to point fingers and identify exactly who I'm talking about. I don't think I've been unfair in my depictions by any means, but talking about other people who have no say in the matter makes me a feel a little bit ruthless nonetheless. In the creative nonfiction discipline, we talk a lot about the ways in which we portray others; this is a conversation I'm really interested in and have participated in many times. But no matter how much I objectively come to conclusions about the ethics of nonfiction, I still get irrationally guilty every time I write about another person. Even if I'm spewing compliments or telling nothing but the truth, I can't help but feel anxious about penning someone else's name. When I think about this reading tomorrow night, the same questions keep resurfacing:

"What if someone knows who I'm talking about?" 

"What if word gets back to so-and-so that I wrote about him?"

"Should I be ashamed by this?" 

"Will reading this essay about boys I once knew make me seem like a psycho?"

Today while I was going through the motions of that internal monologue, I was absentmindedly listening to my iPhone on shuffle while riding the bus home. Then, as if by divine intervention, one of my all-time favorite songs came up, which helped to alleviate a lot of my concerns: "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift. What really hit me were the repeated lyrics "I was there. I remember it all too well." She's telling the truth and she's being forthright about her stance in the situation. You can call her names and sling shit at her all you want, but you can't deny that she was an active player in her own life, and she was affected by her circumstances. To clearly and concisely say "this happened to me; you can say whatever you want about it, but I'm being honest and I'm telling my story" is kind of badass. It's only made more commendable toward the end of the song, in which she addresses her subject: "you were there, you remember it all." Not only is she telling her story, but she's reminding the guy who did her wrong that he played a big role in the situation, too. 

Some of you might be scoffing and thinking to yourself that it's no surprise Taylor Swift is the artist I look to for inspiration in regards to talking about boys. And I mean, that's kind of fair. But I mean that as a good thing. Listening to "All Too Well," followed by a lot of Taylor's other work, made me realize how brave it is to say exactly how you're feeling, especially as a woman. Swift has been under fire for quite literally years (the worst period being 2011-2013) about her "serial dating" and the notion that she'll write a song about any guy she meets. And not only is that untrue and unfair, but it trivializes her work as an artist. To be frank about your feelings and to claim ownership over your past is actually something extraordinary. It's something we can all learn from, maybe. At least for me, it's a notion that's pushing me to be unabashed tomorrow night on stage.

So, to readdress those questions with all that in mind...

"What if someone knows who I'm talking about?" 
Well, if that happens, then you know you did a good job of painting a clear image with your words.

"What if word gets back to so-and-so that I wrote about him?"
It might make him uncomfortable, but that happens. You didn't lie and you didn't say anything mean by any stretch.

"Should I be ashamed by this?" 
Absolutely not. If anything you should be really proud and impressed with yourself.

"Will reading this essay about boys I once knew make me seem like a psycho?"
Maybe...but that's a risk I'm willing to take.

Alright everyone! Wish me luck tomorrow; send good thoughts my way at 7 PM. Until then enjoy this motivational playlist by fearless female artists that I've put together and will be listening to on repeat between now and then.

1) All Too Well by Taylor Swift (duh)
2) Send My Love (To Your New Lover) by Adele
3) Here by Alessia Cara
4) Not Ready to Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks
5) Confident by Demi Lovato
6) Strange Love by Halsey
7) Mama's Broken Heart by Miranda Lambert

Monday, December 7, 2015

Blogmas Day 7: I spent a substantial amount of time taking Facebook surveys

Good afternoon, friends! I'm coming at you earlier than usual, because I'm currently skipping class. I feel oddly guilty skipping, but seriously guys the class I'm missing is kind of a joke. I'm getting much more done on my own time than I would be in lecture. If you can't tell, this is just my thinly veiled attempt to convince myself that skipping isn't the end of the world. It's only kind of working. My forever prevalent need to follow the rules is coming out. I feel more anxious and out of place than I did in middle school, which is saying something. BUT SPEAKING OF MIDDLE SCHOOL (great segue there, self) today we're doing something that is both personally mortifying and hilarious. I uncovered one of the surveys I took back in May of 2009 (that would be the end of eighth grade for those of you keeping track of time) and published in my notes. Guys, there's a lot of them too. And they're still public. I spent a substantial amount of time taking Facebook surveys back in the day. So we're going to copy and paste one of the more mortifying surveys here, and I'm both going to answer the questions as a 20 year old woman and comment on my old answers from back in the day. I did this once on my old blog, which I kept in my early high school days and is now deleted. Honestly I wish I could read those old posts and comment on those, but they're lost in the void of the Internet forever. All we have are my old Facebook antics. So without further adieu, let's begin...all of my responses from 2009 will be in black text, and my current responses will be in red.

100 Things You Might Not Know About Me...or we just make fun of it :)

Hit my forehead on the corner of the counter
That's true! That happened in third grade and resulted in an awkward bloody gash and sporting an awkward Band-Aid between my eyebrows for a week.

That's really precious, actually. I remember wanting bright green walls SO badly in middle school. They've now been painted over in a boring beige color.

used to grind my teeth, but not since i got retainers

Shoutout to those retainers; I haven't worn them in years. Sorry that you spent so much money on braces, mom! But re: the question, no. When I sleep I don't move or make any noise.

country, mainstream, showtunes :)

Ahh yes, this was during my Broadway phase. That's cute. Now the answer is pretty much just pop trash.

no...(yells upstairs) "MOM, WHAT TIME WAS I BORN?" and she says "DON'T KNOW, I WAS IN PAIN!" so, no idea.

I can verify now that this exchange literally never happened.

A cookie

Y'know, me from 2009? Me, too.

Some person who you don't know

Bankii and my guitars

I think I was trying to be cute and talk about my blanket that I had gotten, like, two Christmases prior. Also this was when I considered myself a ~*very serious musician~* even though I never learned more than six chords on the guitar.

5 feet and 3 and 1/2 inches

That half an inch doe. Since then, I grew 2 and a half inches I guess? I think I'm 5'6''?

Not really


Where am I? The woods=scared. My room=no 

I mean, duh. If you're stranded in the woods after dark you're going to be a little wigged out.


LOOOOOL OK. Although honestly the answer is probably the same now. Then I'm sure I meant it in a wounded angsty way, but now I probably cried because we talked on the phone and I realized how much I miss her.

Snakes and rollercoasters

Same. So I haven't done a lot of growth in the "face your fears" department.

Depends on all other controdicting physical features

Sweet spelling of "contradicting" there. Also what does that even mean?


I said N/A because I was a baby and didn't understand that marriage proposals are constructions of our patriarchal societal and that there is no gender that "has" to propose or be proposed to.

COFFEE! Skim caramel latte, a touch of vanilla powder

I CAN GUARANTEE I WAS NOT DRINKING COFFEE IN EIGHTH GRADE. Also a skim caramel latte with a touch of vanilla powder sounds gross.


Eh, or just cheese.

Swedish fish

I thought you wanted a cookie like 5 questions ago

Lime green!

Hence the walls.

The snack that smiles back! 


A painting my grandma made for me of butterflies and a little blue bird

That's cute and true! But also that's a weird question.

Yes I do

No I don't. Wait but that's really cute because when I wrote this I had a crush on this kid in my theatre class and proceeded to irrationally love him for a year.

No :(

Apparently not being double jointed was a real bummer for me in '09.

Don't have one

That's code for "it's lame to say Aeropostale so I'm just gonna keep that to myself"

Reese Witherspoon

Okay but why? Is this when I first discovered Sweet Home Alabama? (Probably) 


She's almost 10 years old!!

White miniature Schnoodle 

How is she almost 10 years old?!!

Not sure

Another odd question



Considering the fact that I have a brain, I enjoy being a brunette

@myself: that's a cute little bit of stereotyping and internalized misogyny. You keep that up.

"Him ha-have a PIG nose!"-Alexis Gosselin
"I'm seeing some melting, and it's not just the crayons"-Kate Gosselin this was my Jon and Kate Plus 8 phase, clearly. Guys, I'm not lying when I say I watched that show every. God. Damn. Day. For those of you who might not know, (bless your soul) Jon and Kate Plus 8 was a docu-series on TLC that followed a trainwreck of a family held together by a loveless marriage and IVF that resulted in a set of twins and a set of sextuplets. I fucking lived for it.

Jamestown, Rhode Island

Aww, that's so cute! And true! I love it so much I have its coordinates tattooed on my body!


Apparently geography wasn't my strong suit in 8th grade. Sadly since then I've only been to Mexico, (and stayed in the gated confines of our resort) but this summer I'm going to Ireland to study abroad for five weeks! More on that later.

Jon and Kate Plus 8, Taylor Lautner shirtless


Umm...oh yeah...there was the...Jonas Brothers?

I met the Jonas Brothers in seventh grade and proceeded to brag about it for the remaining year (before the Jo Bros kind of became irrelevant) 


My real first job (one that required setting up direct deposit and having a formal job interview) was being a brand rep at Justice for Girls, aka retail hell.


My friends and I loved to call my mom's friends out of her Rolodex (remember those) at the wee hours of the morning during sleepovers.

Yes, somewhere in the world

*wistful sigh*

Watching 'What I Like About You'

That was another show I watched religiously after school, starring Amanda Bynes and Jennie Garth on ABC Family. Genuinely still a show I would watch now.


Since then I've had my wisdom teeth pulled, though that's pretty lame.

Sense of humor

Which is odd, because I doubt I was that funny in middle school.

Just got them off during spring break

And then proceeded to take 900 selfies with my pink Nikon digital camera and uploaded them to an album on Facebook entitled "no braces && eyeliner." Again @myself: why?

A puppy

Jfc just the thought of having a puppy now makes me so stressed out. 

Twins (two girls) Lilliana Jeanne and Leah Marie

ACTUALLY NO. On all accounts.

Middle name after great grandma Sauer

That remains to be true.

Perverted (pretty much illimates half of the guys at school, huh?)

Ooh, kill 'em. Also note "illimates"

Not sure yet, I'll let you know next year
Aww, how precious. I guess in retrospect I liked a lot of junior year, especially once I got my driver's license in December.

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration 

Now just the scent of Herbal Essences alone makes me gag.


I don't mind it

Roast Beef

Still true

Being annoying :)

I mean you're not WRONG...



I think so

Not in eighth grade. But now? Yeah I'm rad as hell.



Before you really know the person it's how we all judge


Write a song or a poem

I physically cannot deal with myself. I thought I was a tortured artist at the ripe old age of thirteen.

I'd be creepily underweight but lose

I would've preferred to be 50-something pounds and quite literally die than be 58 pounds heavier. Okay. If anything, that goes to show the pressure young girls are under to fit into a mold that is hella unhealthy.

Become a successful attorney or be on Broadway

Neither of those would end well. I would be an awful attorney and an even worse Broadway star.

Raggedy Ann doll
I carried my Raggedy Ann doll down the aisle as a flower girl at my Aunt Amie's wedding when I was three. Me and Raggedy Ann were tight.

Not sure

Code for "I don't have a lot of friends right now so I don't really want to embarrass myself by giving you an answer"

As a little kid? Wait a sec, when did we all stop liking Barney?


63. Do you use sarcasm?
Not really

Same, actually. I went through a super annoying sarcasm phase when I was around 11, and I think when I wrote this I was just growing out of it.

Macaroni and cheese
I would fuck up a bowl of macaroni and cheese right now.


Be more vague maybe. Like "they're racist and bigoted and awful, but they have a personality which is all I'm looking for apparently!"

Yeah! How come I never got any cool nicknames? Freshman year of college some of my friends got in the habit of calling me Lo on very rare occasions, but that never stuck. I guess my main nickname is "Roomie," which only my best friend (and freshman year roommate) calls me. But we literally don't call each other by our first names ever, so I don't know if that even counts.


Another great spelling choice

Jon and Kate Plus 8, Secret Life, What I Like About You
FAM DO YOU REMEMBER SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER? AKA AN ACTUAL TRAINWRECK? It's on Netflix instant streaming, and I urge you to watch at least the pilot. It's a teen soap opera that starred Shailene Woodley and aired on ABC Family for much longer than it should've.

Ignore them

I'm surprised I didn't say "write a song or a poem about them"

Mint Chocolate Chip

I got my period last week and coped by eating an entire pint of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream, so clearly nothing has changed.


Another odd question


I don't so much have a computer in my room as much as I have a laptop that travels with me just about everywhere.


Womp womp

Not really sure yet, but I want to buy my grandparents house for my summer home

That sounds lovely, but I don't see myself having the money to do that as a freelance writer.



Jon and Kate Plus 8

I wasn't kidding when I said I watched Jon and Kate Plus 8 all the fucking time.




...oh. (I haven't talked to my dad since summer 2014)


I feel like that's such an odd thing to say; we always pick out individual features, but like? You don't just notice one feature on a stranger. It's the whole face, is it not?

Play guitar

We get it, you're an artist.

Twilight :)

Just some more uninformed baseless hatred fueled by internalized misogyny :)


Summer's so hot and sticky and awful, but yes that's still true


That sounds about right


This is a boring question

Chesnut brown

Wow be more pretentious. Also another great spelling of the word "chestnut."


I'm surprised I didn't come up with another bougie way of saying that.

8 or 8.5

My feet haven't grown since '09, apparently.

Tace Bell

That's gross, fam. 

Flying Fish (sushi)



Calm down


Jon and Kate Plus 8, obvs.

August 3rd :)

My birthday :) I'm self-absorbed :) But not much as changed since :)

Bass clarinet and guitar

Oh yeah, that bass clarinet. It came in a carrying case that was genuinely larger than my body and had a mouthpiece that collected an alarming volume of spit. Hot.


I didn't really know why when I first wrote this, but true.


How PG of me


This is a really weird question for a survey designed for middle schoolers


I paid my electric bill #adult #mature

No! The court is waiting!


Gone with the Wind, good book

I dead-ass maybe read 100 pages of that book, a process that took an embarrassingly long amount of time.

Amazing friendships and silently crushing


Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed reading through that. I sure did, and only wanted to light myself on fire like three times, tops. I'd love to know if you enjoyed this, because if so this is something we can do again before Blogmas is over.