Thursday, April 30, 2015

BEDA Day 30: Au Revoir

Happy Thursday, my loves! I hope you're all having good days. Can you believe it? We made it through April. Four months of 2015, gone. We're one-third done. Anyone else totally freaked out by that? Me too. But hey, SUMMER is nearly upon us, so it's all good.

BEDA has been good for me, guys. Posting (nearly) every day has helped to keep me accountable and on-track during this time of year, when I want to do nothing else but let my thoughts and my GPA wander. That's a big part of the reason why I chose to undertake BEDA: after successfully completing Blogmas during last semester's finals week, I remembered how accomplished I felt and how nice it was to have this blog as a daily creative outlet. And obviously I can blog any day of the year, but something about making it obligatory is really good for me as a writer.

John Green, author of Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars, and Paper Towns (coming soon to a theater near you!) said once in an interview that he deals with writers' block by keeping in mind advice he's gotten from his father: "carpenters aren't allowed to get 'carpenters' block.' Writing is your job; you wake up every day and you do your job." And while obviously carpentry and writing are a little bit different, and while obviously I'm hardly a professional writer, I like the philosophy behind that. If being a writer is such an important part of my identity, it's something I need to keep up with. Runners run almost every day. Actors act almost every day. Salesmen sell almost every day. See what I'm getting at? Writing every day is good for me. Even if I churn out something I'm not proud of, at least I'm writing. Every blog post, poem, or essay doesn't have to be Pulitzer worthy, but every time I sit down to write, I'm welcoming the opportunity to be struck with my best piece yet. Can't accidentally write something amazing if you don't write at all.

So thank you, BEDA. Thank you for forcing me to write every day. Thank you for reminding me to keep up with the craft I love. Thank you, readers, for taking in my words. Whether you're my friend, acquaintance, or a total stranger, I love you and your readership. You make me feel heard and understood. You give me a boost. You rock.

I promise I'll be back soon. For now, finals to take, things to pack, and another school year to finish up. Can't believe I'm almost half way done with college. Can't believe I'm almost done with April. Can't believe I'm almost done with BEDA 2015.

x,
Lauren

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

BEDA Day 29: Poetry

Hey guys. It's late, as usual, and I'm gonna keep this a little brief today. Because I don't want to bore you with the details of studying and finals, because I'm starting to realize I talk of little else, and honestly who cares? Instead I want to talk about my poetry class, which I was convinced I would hate, but ended up genuinely changing my life. It was the type of experience in which I learned just the right things at just the right time. I met people who told me exactly what I needed to hear. I learned how to express myself in new ways just when I needed to express myself most. Because my professor is likely leaving JMU after this semester, and some astounding people in my class are about to graduate, and if I had taken any other class or if I put off taking "ENG392: Intro to Poetry" for one more semester, my life would be entirely different. It's the type of cosmic thing that makes you think God definitely exists, how else can you explain this? 

We walked into our last class and just chatted, as usual. We often get into conversations about the writing life, social injustices that inspire us, and the day-to-day happenings of undergrad. So that was nothing new. Then my professor, easily one of the most impressive, intelligent people I've ever met, shepherded the class outside. She asked us earlier that week to bring in one of our own poems to read aloud, because she wanted to hear everyone's voice one last time.

She took us to a sunny patch of grass near the library, where we sat criss-crossed in a circle, fifteen eager faces meandering over one another's defining features. I, sat immediately next to my professor, kept looking over at the canvas tote bag she brought with her in addition to her purse, wondering what was inside.

We started by doing a quick meditation. Five minutes of intentional breathing and relaxation, during which time I didn't care who was to walk by and laugh at the group of hippies with their eyes shut and fingertips purposefully rooted in the grass. Then she turned to me, asking me to kick off the reading. I had a feeling that would happen. Taking a nervous inhale, I read aloud a poem I wrote this week, though it's far from done. When I finished reading, she smiled and said, "so now, I want someone to say one thing they appreciate about Lauren." Then a girl I sat next to all semester mentioned something about my vocabulary being good (ironically, I can't think of a better word than "good" right now) and I smiled and said thank you. I was too busy looking at my classmate that I didn't see my professor grab a book of poems from her tote bag.

"You and I have had discussions about how you want to work on concision in your work, and in your life. I picked out this book, because I think it'll really inspire you and help you with that."

She gave me a book from her personal library. To keep forever. She thought critically about me as a poet and as a person. And she did that for every individual in the class. Someone would read a poem, we would praise them, and then she would present them with a book she hand-picked from her collection.

"I picked this for you because this poet was a dancer, just like you."

"I picked this because you write a lot about the idea of time in your work, as does this poet."

"You've dealt with a lot of grief, so I thought this book of poetry would help you work through that."

Honestly, how she's so amazing I don't know. How she lives her life with such intention and grace I'll forever be amazed by. Damn, how she walks around without toppling over from all the knowledge she carries in her head is astonishing.

I'm glad to have witnessed it. I'm glad to have shared in it. I'm glad to have been thought of with such regard but someone so remarkable.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

BEDA Day 28: Mentally Vacationing

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Coming at you from, shocker, the library. I'm still studying for science, in preparation for my exam tomorrow. I studied with one of my classmates yesterday evening and I've gotten some help from my professor since we last spoke, so I'm feeling a little bit better about the material, but I definitely still need to go over things a few more times. That's the thing I hate about studying: I never know when I'm done, ya know? When it comes to things like writing essays, there's a very clear end point; there's a conclusion that you're working toward. With studying, I just don't know when I should stop without feeling guilty. I never feel confident about the material I've learned, especially in classes I don't naturally gravitate toward. I could have all the material memorized and mastered, but I would still feel unprepared. That's why a lot of times I just end up saying, "screw it. I think I know a thing or two, let's hope I'm right when I'm taking the exam." I think I'm reaching that point with this science stuff. I'll go over these notes a few more times, then I officially quit and give myself some downtime. We'll see whether or not I know anything about waves, atoms, and compounds tomorrow at 8 AM.

While I'm here studying, my mom called to say hi and give me a status update on her vacation. She's in Mexico right now, and I'm so jealous. She doesn't mean to brag, but it's hard not to be envious when she casually talks about how she went snorkeling and got an amazing massage earlier today. I want nothing more than to be there with her. To be fair though, no one deserves a nice vacation more than my mom; she works so incredibly hard. Every week of her life is as stressful as finals week, if not more. Still, right now I hate her and want to trade: she can study for my exams, I'll lie on the beach with a cold drink.

So for now I'm mentally vacationing: in my head, it's 78 degrees and there's clear blue water as far as the eye can see. In reality it's about 55 and cloudy today, but I'm channeling the art of visualization. If I squint hard enough, the carpeting in the library almost looks like sand and the students working around me are my fellow beach-goers. No one is talking about group projects or final grades; we're all listening to music and reading magazines while we work on our tans. It's a stretch, I know, but roll with it. Anything to get me through, right? That might just be the secret to finals week: the art of make-believe. That and lots of coffee. And the occasional Netflix break. There it is; that's the trifecta.

For now though, time to take a break from my mental vacation and review these notes again.

x,
Lauren

Monday, April 27, 2015

BEDA 27: I Wrote This In...Dunkin?

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you're all having good starts to the week. It's hard to believe that BEDA is almost over; I want April to last much longer, guys. That's probably because Finals Week officially kicks off on May 1st, which I'm dreading more than you know. The good news is the heavy lifting will be done a week from now. There's always enough coffee in the world and there's always enough time to get things done. Speaking of coffee though, I have a confession to make...

I love Dunkin Donuts. I love Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, I love Dunkin Donuts doughnuts (as the name suggests), I love the study environment...there's one thing I don't love, though. I don't love that I feel like a traitor. As I sit here, in Dunkin Donuts, I'm writing a post for a blog entitled "I Wrote This In Starbucks" on a laptop with a Starbucks sticker on it. I have my Starbucks Gold Card in my wallet and a bag of Starbucks coffee in my dorm room. I feel like the green Starbucks girl is looking down on me disapprovingly as I order yet another Dunkin iced coffee.

Listen, I can't help it that Dunkin is both cheap and delicious. I can't help it that it appeals to my super basic side. I can't help it that I gravitate toward the pink and orange color scheme. I promise I still love Starbucks, but there's just something about Dunkin. There's something about not being judged for getting cream and sugar in my watered-down iced coffee. There's something about listening to Top 40 music over the speakers. I love Starbucks, but Starbucks can make me feel inadequate. Starbucks is your cool, hipster friend who listens to  bands you've never heard of and rolls their eyes if you don't take your coffee black. Dunkin is your fun, bubbly friend who's down to talk about Zayn leaving One Direction over a box of jelly-filled doughnuts. And one isn't necessarily better than the other, but you need both in your life. At least I do. I need Starbucks to feel sophisticated and elite, as I hand the barista my members-only Gold Card and order straight espresso, but I also need Dunkin to boost my mood with a sugary iced coffee that was less than three dollars. I don't know, guys. I'm thinking too deeply about this. After all, it's just coffee. Wow, there's never something I thought I'd say.

That being said though, that's gonna do it for today. I'm going to get back to studying for my science class. Maybe tomorrow I'll go do work in Starbucks. I've been meaning to start working on my poetry portfolio, which is obviously much more of a Starbucks-esque activity.

x,
Lauren

Sunday, April 26, 2015

BEDA 26: The key is to do nothing

Hello friends! It's late on Sunday night and also my first opportunity to really sit down and chat with you guys. I've been busy pretty much all day, not really doing too much real work, but rather the exact opposite.

Roomie (y'all know this by now I'm sure, but on the off-chance you forgot: Ashley, my freshman year roommate, who I call Roomie pretty much exclusively) and I went on a road trip to meet her grandparents for lunch today, because apparently we've reached that point in our very committed relationship where we meet one another's extended families now. The whole point of the trip was for Roomie to pick up a laptop from her grandma, but I tagged along for the ride because I know how boring a two hour trip can be when you're alone, especially when you have to turn right back around again and go home again. We spent the entire time singing to music and having heart-to-heart convos, which was much needed after having kind of a rough few days. Plus we got frozen yogurt once we got back to campus, which was much needed (to be honest: PMSing super hard and was craving some fro-yo. TMI?)

ANYWAY...after that I went to a geology review session for my exam tomorrow, kicking off the first of two terrible busy weeks. The review session definitely helped though, because even if I already knew a lot of the material, just having the information reiterated by TAs is always good reassurance. Plus, they were able to tell me some inside scoop info about the exam, so now I know a little bit more of what to expect.

But to be honest, y'all, I was only at the review session for about an hour, and then after that I grabbed dinner and hung out with Roomie some more. I swear to God we're attached at the hip; we get separation anxiety when we're apart. But that's beside the point. Point is, I don't feel bad about not studying more for my exam tomorrow. I feel really confident and I've been working really hard all weekend--I know my stuff. I hope I'll be just as confident tomorrow while I'm actually sitting down in front of my test, but really I can't imagine anything is going to totally floor me. And I think in some cases, it's good not to overwhelm yourself with cramming up until the last minute. Of course that's not always the case, and most of the time extra studying is definitely the way to go, but I'm also a big believer in relaxing. Take your mind off the exam if you can afford to do so; take some personal time to recharge your battery. If you really know the material well, there's no sense stressing yourself out in favor of a late night study sesh. Just get some rest and kick butt on your exam. So that's what I'm going to do, y'all. I will see you tomorrow, hopefully reporting back with a good grade on my exam. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

BEDA Day 25: Psycho Crazy Study Sesh

Hey friends! Right now, at 5:11 PM, is the first time in 6 hours that I've taken a break from doing schoolwork. I've been buried deep in science notes, trying desperately to teach myself about waves and matter and ionic bonds. The good news is I'm getting a lot of work done well in advance, which will bode well for Future Lauren, but the downside here is my Saturday has been spent in the library, which isn't exactly my idea of fun. Oh well; with hard work comes high reward. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. Plus knowing that next week is the absolute last time I'll have to deal with science in any academic capacity is quite the motivator. As of Monday, May 4th at 10:00 AM, I'll be forever freed of science classes. Never did I think I'd be so close to the promised land of exclusively creative credit hours, but we're here, guys. It's so close I can taste it.

But to get there, I've been pushing myself extra hard these past few days, and it'll continue for the next week or so. But that's it. In as much as I had to trek through an entire semester of these terrible classes, I want to finish strong. I want to get the best grades possible on these final exams so these science Gen-Eds I was forced to take won't be totally in vain. Think of it this way: it's like this semester has been an entire marathon, and I'm currently finishing up the last mile. No sense in crawling to the finish line, since I've been running for so long. I might be exhausted and super over it, but you best believe I'm going to finish sprinting. And thus concludes my understanding of how marathons work, honestly. Huge props to people who can actually run 26.2 miles; just putting together this metaphor is exhausting for me.

So here's the plan from here until the end of BEDA: I'm taking the same approach. I'm finishing strong. There's only 5 days left in the month of April, and I'll be posting substantial entries all the way through. I can't promise they'll be super lighthearted or coherent, but dammit, they will be posted before midnight and they'll be longer than three sentences. I've gone ahead and made myself a detailed schedule for the next week (because I'm psychotic, apparently) that maps out my days down to the half-hour, and I've put in chunks of time devoted to blogging. And yes, before you ask, the schedule is highlighted and written in various shades of pink, blue, and purple. I like to be efficient, but I also like things to be pleasing to the eye. Anyway: don't worry guys, it's gonna happen. It is. There might be smoke coming out of my ears as I try to conceptualize these next few days, but it's gonna happen. Pretty sure at this point I'm just typing in circles and rambling on and on. Not even sure if this blog post has anything of substance in it. Whatever.

Until tomorrow, though, I need to get back to the books. I also should probably put some food in my stomach so I don't crash and burn at this library desk, too. Either way, it's time for me to go. I'll see you tomorrow. That's a promise.

x,
Lauren

Friday, April 24, 2015

BEDA Day 24: Libraries, Squats, Faults, etc.

Happy Friday! I'm coming at you live from the library, where I've been since 9 AM, with the exception of a fifteen minute excursion to the dining hall to get some pizza, which I then brought back and ate while I copied down some geology notes. Other than a few distractions and self-sanctioned breaks, I've been working nonstop on geology. I have a lab exam on Monday, which basically means analyzing topographic maps and fossils--it's about as fun as it sounds.

But that's enough about geology for today. I'm using this blog post as an excuse to take a break from my studies, even though I'm going to a review session in less than an hour and will probably devote a large chuck of tomorrow going over the study guide I spent my afternoon making. No more talk about rock strata, I promise. Instead let's talk about voyeurism and the entitlement of the male gaze!! Fun, right?!

So yesterday around 9 PM I went to the gym, as I often do. I did my usual 45 minutes of cardio and then went out into the hall to do a little bit of strength training and stretching. The way our gym is set up, there's a huge basketball court toward the back, closed off by a series of floor-to-ceiling glass panels. The people--usually all men--in the basketball court can see out into the hallway, and the people--usually all women--in the hallway can see into the basketball court. Admittedly, this is a little bit of an odd setup for a gym; it feels like an aquarium, where people are meant to observe animals behind a looking class. Here's the difference though: we're not animals. We're college students. We're humans who should acknowledge one another's personhood.

So now that you have that visual in mind, picture me in that little hallway, dripping sweat after cardio and ready to do some muscle work. I'm wearing a sleeveless black workout top and cropped yoga pants. Admittedly, the pants are tight around my butt, because I don't like to work out in super loose clothes; bear in mind that my choice of wardrobe is just that: my choice. Not at all any indication that I want to be stared at.

As is my usual routine, I start with squats. I try to do as many as possible; I squat until my legs can't take anymore. So I start squatting, facing the windows so my ass is backed up to the cinderblock wall behind me. I manage to do about ten or so, until out of the corner of my eye I notice two men--probably between 20 and 22--blatantly staring and making comments through the glass. They both actually stopped playing basketball in favor of angling themselves to best stare at my body while I was working out. And no, I'm not paranoid--ask any woman, and she'll be able to tell you: we know when we're being checked out. And sometimes it's wanted; sometimes we want attention. Most times it's not. Like when we're at the gym.

I tried to ignore their gaze and focus on my form, doing my squats as normal. But I felt like I was under inspection, which is not only creepy, but it's a form of assault. I felt like I wasn't even a person, but rather an object to be watched closely. So I stopped. Not even a third of the way into my anticipated set, I just stopped, packed up, and went home. That sucks. If you make another person so uncomfortable that they no one feel as though they can exist as they would like to, I have no problem telling you you're a shitty person.

I don't go to the gym to be checked out. I don't work on my body for the approval of random men. My workout is my time to be in my own head and to challenge myself. Anyone who thinks they can interrupt that isn't worth their place in society. And yes, I know it could've been worse: I wasn't catcalled, or touched, or physically assaulted, but being stared at that blatantly is a testament to the disgusting culture of female objectification that we live in.

Sorry to get all feminist rant-y on you guys, but I really just can't stop thinking about that. It was super creepy and not at all flattering. If you go to the gym on the regular, please listen up. The gym is not the place to pick up women. It's not the place to check a woman out. It's not the place to make a woman feel like she's lost her autonomy. Please just be like the rest of us: come in, do your workout, and go home. Simple as that.

I'll see you all tomorrow, hopefully with something more lighthearted to say.

x,
Lauren

Thursday, April 23, 2015

BEDA Day 23: April Favorites

Hello, friends! I hope you're having a good day; I'm a little bit overwhelmed with schoolwork, so forgive me for posting a kind of fluffy, short blog post today. But basically, I'm doing a very beauty guru-eqsue blog post today: towards the end of every month, beauty gurus post videos talking about their favorite products they've been using recently. They're often good ways to find new things to try out, but because not many people read this, I can't imagine any of you will be hugely influenced by what I have to say. Whatever, man, indulge me.

Beauty Products

1) Benefit's "They're Real" mascara


I've had this mascara in my desk drawer for a while, but I finally broke it out this month once I realized I'd been using my old mascara for longer than can be deemed sanitary. I've used a sample size of this stuff before, which is why I was inclined to buy a full-sized tube from Sephora last time I did some damage on their website. And seriously: this mascara is the best. It's a little pricey, (around the $20 mark, which I know sounds crazy) but it makes your eyelashes look amazing. As the name suggests, it makes your lashes look like you're wearing falsies, but in the best way possible. Your lashes look full, long, and soft. No clumps or gross spider-lashes. And while maybe it won't be the mascara I consistently repurchase, (because I'm a girl on a budget, y'all) it's definitely a "treat yo'self" mascara that I highly recommend.

2) Revlon's Lip Butter in No. 63 "Wild Watermelon"


This lip butter is the perfect in-between: it has the color payoff of a lipstick with the smoothness of a lip balm. I've had this particular product for a while now, but I recently dug it out from my overflowing drawer of lip products. On a serious sidenote I have a huge lip product problem: I have way too many. I think I'll graduate college and find a good post-grad job before I actually use up everything in my collection. That being said though, finding a color that I use over and over again is then a true testament to how great the product is: even though I have seemingly endless stash of lipsticks to go to, I keep going back to this one. That's because it's the perfect color for springtime: not too bright, but a little something extra. The median between a red and a pink. Also easy to throw in your bag and reapply throughout the day without having to constantly touch it up and fix in the mirror.

3) Maybelline's "Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser" Brightener

If you should know one thing about me, it's that I don't have a normal sleep schedule. One night I'm in bed by 9:00, the next I'm up until 4:00 AM. That said, I have gross purple under-eye bags. So I need a bomb-ass concealer that brightens up my face without being too intense or too expensive. That's where this brightener comes in: it's less than $10 and works like a charm. I use it under my eyes, but also on the bridge of my nose, my chin, and my forehead. Anywhere the sun would naturally hit. I dunno guys, I heard that's what Kim Kardashian's makeup artist does. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right or if it's a cute look, but any product that makes me feel like a Kardashian is great in my book. Bible.

Books

1) Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris


I still have a few pages left in this collection of essays, but I love it so far. I'm getting more and more into David Sedaris this year, and I can't recommend him enough to everyone I know. He writes nonfiction essays that are laugh-out-loud funny and just the right amount of inappropriate. This collection is particular is almost exclusively about his family; as a writer, I'm really interested in how others are able to write about loved ones, and Sedaris manages to do so incredibly well. After reading his work, I'm always inspired to sit down at my laptop and punch out a few stories. Even for non-writers, though, his work is great. I recommend any of his books, but this one in particular is perfect for people who've never read any of his stuff, as it's a really good representation of his style.

TV Shows

1) Mad Men


I'm only just now finishing up season one, because I'm incredibly late to the game, but I'm so into this show. I've always been intrigued, because my parents have been OG fans since the pilot aired, but I was always too young to appreciate it. Now I'm all on board and eager to keep watching. I should probably take a break from binge-watching in favor of finals, but knowing me that won't be the case. I just need to know what Don Draper is gonna do next.

2) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


This show is great. You know this. I know this. Tina Fey is a goddess among men; everything she touches turns to comedy gold. If you haven't watched this show yet, there's no excuse for you. Drop what you're doing now. It's only 13 episodes.

Music

1) Fifth Harmony's Reflection


Fifth Harmony is the feminist girl band we've been needing in the 21st century. Their music is fun, cute, and empowering: what more could you ask for? And while, no, their songs aren't objectively good from a songwriting craft standpoint, they're indulgent and a little bit sassy. Not all music has to be deeply meaningful and make you feel something. Some music, like this album, is just good "roll around town with the windows down and your music cranking" music. Simple as that; don't take everything so seriously. So I guess I'm a Harmonizer now...whatever, let me live my life.

2) Walk the Moon's Talking is Hard


I originally found out about Walk the Moon as I'm sure everyone else did: their hit summer song, "Shut Up and Dance." Upon falling in love with that 80s inspired dance track, I looked up the rest of their album on Spotify. And guess what, guys? It's great from beginning to end. Every single song is upbeat, which is perfect for spring and summer (I know I touched on this the other day, but it wouldn't be right to not mention them here, too). My favorites--other than "Shut Up and Dance"--are "Sidekick",  "Work This Body", and "Up 2 U." If you're into indie-pop music like fun., The 1975, and Bastille, you're sure to be a fan of Walk the Moon. Download and memorize all the words before they inevitably become the next big thing.

Alright y'all, I think that's gonna do it for today! I hope you enjoyed reading about what I've been loving this month; if you have any favorite things of April, feel free to leave me a comment!


x,
Lauren

PS: Can you believe there's only a week left of BEDA?!







Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BEDA Day 22: Sleepy, Sleepy Earth Day

Happy Wednesday, everyone! As I'm writing this, I'm the most exhausted I can recall being in a very long time. Worst part is, pretty much all I did today--with the exception of class and gym--was sleep. I woke up early and went to my science lecture, then went straight to the gym for cardio, showered, and then napped on and off for hours on end. No joke, I was in bed probably from 10:30 until 3:00 pm. Not my finest hour...or I guess hours. And the worst part is I was going to spend my afternoon doing laundry, cleaning, scheduling meetings, blogging...you get the point. I did none of that.

Then tonight I worked a lot, conducting meetings and programs. RA life man: sometimes it's a little bit tiring. The good news is, though, I always leave feeling fulfilled. Tonight, for example, I hosted a program where my residents could hang out and paint canvases together, and a lot of girls showed up and hung out. And while, yes, it was messy and time-consuming, it was really awesome to be appreciated and to facilitate that kind of bonding.

But fulfilling though it was, I am tired. All that lazing around really did it in for me today. I'm ready to wash my face, brush my teeth, and hit my pillow. It's not even 11 yet, and finals are fast approaching, so honestly my college student body should be revving at an all time high, but I seriously can't find the energy to keep my eyelids open much longer. I'm dreading the exams that I'm speeding towards at 100 miles an hour, but instead of bracing myself for impact, I'm just closing my eyes and pretending like it's not happening. Sounds like the perfect recipe for crashing and burning. I really need to get my shit together, but first I need to sleep for twelve hours.

Talk tomorrow! Sorry this post is so short!

x,
Lauren

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BEDA Day 21: Role Models and Mentorship

Hello friends! I hope you're having a good Tuesday; as far as Tuesdays go, mine was pretty good. I only had one class, which was very relaxed, then got coffee and ran some errands. I also met with my poetry professor for office hours this morning, which was an awesome way to start the day.

I initially came in to talk with her about a poem I wrote--the poem I posted a few weeks ago about catcalling--and how I could revise it for my final portfolio. After that, though, we talked for nearly an hour about feminism and creative writing. It was amazing. I rarely get the opportunity to talk with someone older and wiser than me about issues I care about so deeply. My professor is such a badass and such a gentle educator; she aims to inform, not patronize. We talked about the feminist presence on our campus (or, really, lack thereof), intersectionality, and the entitlement of the male gaze. She's just so smart and carries a library around in her brain, pulling from various reference sections casually. It's honestly incredible to witness. Having her as a feminist role model and someone to turn to is incredibly comforting. Plus I left her office with a list of feminist books, interviews, essays, and poems to read, so that's a huge plus.

And honestly, that's the best part of college. Learning goes so much further beyond lectures and assigned readings; you can gain so much knowledge and think critically if you ally yourself to professors and mentors. This is the time to get people in your corner and to explore the minds of those smarter than you, because when else will you have the time or resources to have those types of experiences? When else can you ask someone if you can come talk to them for an hour about feminist poetry? When else can you ask an expert to teach you and guide you through a world you've yet to explore?

So that's really what I want you all to learn from this blog post: you really should be utilizing your professors, supervisors, and peers in college. During these four years, those people want to help; they've dedicated their lives to mentorship and guidance. You're in college to learn something and to be an informed citizen when you enter the "real world." You're paying enough: you have the right to wring your resources dry. You have the right to take up space, you have the right to ask for help. Plus, professors want to be there for you; if they didn't, why would they become educators?

Now is the time to create a repertoire of supporters and mentors. Get smart, committed people in your corner. Learn from those who inspire you. Gain experience from people older and wiser. Make an impression upon those who want to advocate for you. Not only because it's good to "network," but because it's good for your soul, your ego, and your perspective. Even though it can be a bit intimidating and scary, you'll be so happy you took the time to get to know the people who teach your lectures and grade your papers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

BEDA Day 20: Spring It On!

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you're having a good day thus far. My Monday started off on kind of a rushed note--I woke up literally 3 minutes before I had to leave for class, meaning I had to throw on the first socially acceptable outfit (aka a t-shirt and leggings) I could find and rush to my 8 AM science lecture. It was about as fun as it sounds...

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about how beautiful springtime is. This time of year is almost magical, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. It's hard to be in a bad mood during springtime, because it's just that nice out. Although spring comes with allergies, rain, and some humidity, there's so many ways to embrace the warm weather, as long as you pop a few Claritins before you walk out the door. So here's my fool-proof list for a successful spring. If you do all of these things, I guarantee you'll find there's a spring in your step. Pun so very much intended.

1) Walk somewhere you'd normally drive or take a bus (within reason obviously): One of my classes is on the outskirts of campus, as it used to be a high school before our university bought it. From my dorm, it's probably a 20-30 minute walk. Naturally, I normally take a bus there, but lately I've been walking there and back. This started out as a total accident--one day I missed the bus because I took too long of a nap, leaving me with no other choice but to walk. And initially I was really annoyed and didn't want to hike all the way across campus, but as soon as I put on headphones and sunglasses, I was in such a good mood. So much so that I was actually refreshed and alert by the time I got to my geology lecture, which is very rarely the case on days when I take the bus. Those hard plastic seats just aren't as invigorating.

2) Accessorize your rain gear: We know the old adage, "April showers bring May flowers." AKA it rains a lot this time of year. You need to keep an umbrella in your backpack or purse at all times, just in case. And while the rain can be gross and put a damper (again, pun intended) on the day, it doesn't have to be that way. You can take little steps to make your rainy days less miserable. How, you might ask? A cute rainy day outfit, of course. Because for some reason, even if you have super frizzy hair and runny mascara, a cute ensemble pulls everything together. Wear a skirt with your rainboots and suddenly you're pulled together while you run through puddles. Don a bright yellow, nicely fitted rain jacket and suddenly you make "trying to stay dry" look fashion-forward. Plus piecing together a cute rainy day outfit gives you that extra motivation to get out of bed on rainy mornings when you'd much rather stay in bed.

3) Make a point to hang out outdoors for at least half an hour every day: If you have reading to do, do it outside. If you're meeting a friend for lunch, suggest an outdoor picnic. If you need to take a nap, sprawl out and rest on the grass. Getting that extra vitamin D helps alleviate stress, boosts your mood, and gives your skin some healthy sun exposure. "Healthy" is the operative term here, though: even in the spring, too much sun is bad news. If you're especially fair or are planning on staying outside for an extended period of time, slap on some SPF. Take it from the girl who got the worst sunburn known to man last year--this is not something you want to skip out on.

4) Discover new music:  A few weeks ago I posted my springtime playlist to get you inspired, but flip through the radio or take suggestions from friends to find new songs or artists you might like. Having fun, upbeat music is nearly essential if you're planning on sunbathing or going on a long walk. My most recent discovery is the band Walk the Moon, who's hit "Shut Up and Dance" has been stuck in my head for nearly three days now. Upon listening to their entire album on Spotify though, I can confirm that all their tracks are pretty good, too.

And I guess that's it, guys. Sorry this was quite the short list, but I'm just all over the place in my head today. Maybe it's because I'm indoors--I'm going stir-crazy. Gonna go for a walk now. Stay excellent.

x,
Lauren

Sunday, April 19, 2015

BEDA Days 18 and 19: Being a Real College Girl

Oops, I did it again. I forgot to blog yesterday. I promise it won't happen again, and we're gonna finish BEDA strong--forgive me for my negligence.

Here's the thing though: I didn't blog solely because I was out living the life of a Real College Girl. I hung out with friends and met new people and wore red lipstick...I was actually social for once! Crazy I know--it doesn't happen too often. A lot of that has to do with my job, which requires me to work on most weekends, and also because of my anxiety. I'm a little ball of nerves all the time, seemingly always fretting about something ultimately insignificant. It should come as no surprise, then, that going out and leaving the comfort zone of my room can sometimes be daunting. And I know a lot of you don't understand that; a lot of you are much more extroverted than I am and can't resist social interaction. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not antisocial and super weird, (well...that's up for debate actually) I'm just not at all bothered by my own company. I like being alone or with a small group, just chilling out to wind down from a hard week. I still love hanging out with people, and sometimes I definitely get lonely when I've been by myself for too long, but I dunno man, I've just always been a little bit of a lone wolf. Probably has to do with me being an only child.

But here's the point: I had a jam-packed, social weekend and I had fun. I broke out of my comfort zone and went along for the ride, and it ended up not being so bad after all. I'm definitely never going to be the girl who goes out every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but I'm also not the girl who necessarily needs to stay in and have a Netflix marathon every night. That's a good reminder. That's why, even though it's scary, you need to break out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Because here's the thing about anxiety, or at least how my anxiety manifests: I get nervous doing things when they reside in the unknown. I talk myself out of social situations because I don't know what to expect. Therefore the more I put myself out there, the more experience I have to draw from to convince myself that the outside world isn't always super scary. That's a nice reminder to keep in my back pocket.

So overall, here's the deal: anxiety sucks and can sometimes be crippling, but you can't use it as a crutch. Sometimes panic sets in and it's too hard to put yourself out there, but the more often you say "yes," the less daunting new things will seem. Also just a gentle reminder that there's nothing wrong with staying in and hanging out with yourself on occasion; in fact, sometimes riding solo can be refreshing and fun. You just need to find that balance of both worlds that makes you feel fulfilled and content, ya get what I'm sayin? Alright, I'll leave you with that.

x,
Lauren

Friday, April 17, 2015

BEDA Day 17: Girls Loving Girls

Hey guys! Happy Friday--currently cooped up in the dorm working tonight, as I will be pretty much every weekend until the end of the year. RA problems, ya feel me? It's all good though, because I'm effectively getting paid to wear leggings, no makeup, and stay in and watch Mad Men. Sometimes I secretly love my job for that exact reason: "oh shoot! Can't go out tonight--I'm on duty! I have to stay in! Yeah I know...it totally sucks...*cough*"

But my elderly tendencies are not what I wanted to talk about this evening, believe it or not. Instead I wanted to talk about girl-on-girl love. Not that kind of girl-on-girl love, perv. I'm talking women supporting other women and how great that is. Women who pass out compliments to other women. Women who share shameless sex tips with other women. Women who don't let their friends get jerked around by fuckboys.

I was inspired to talk about this today because I was having such a good conversation with my home friends via text. The squad is comprised of three girls I went to high school with, and they're all the most supportive women I've ever met. Being friends with them is such a blessing, because I know they're forever accepting and proud of me, and vice versa. If one of us achieves something, the rest of us are cheering instead of trying to do one better. If one of us is having boy drama, the rest of us listen and offer genuine help. If one of us looks cute one day, the rest of us validate those feelings of high self-esteem. I know that if I ever need anything or want to ask any question, I can go to them without being looked at the wrong way. I know that I can figuratively take a tumble, and they'll be there to help pick me up and dust me off; that's such an important feeling. Especially as a woman, having other women by my side to unapologetically empower each other is the best.

The only sad thing is it's kind of a new occurrence. My friends and I supporting each other and being proud of our fellow lady is seen as not normal. I personally have been friends with so many petty, competitive, judgmental women in my life, as have we all, because that's the shitty norm. Girls--even girls who are friends--are supposed to secretly compete with each other. We're supposed to judge each other based upon manners, clothing, and sex lives. We're supposed to do whatever it takes to beat out all the other girls in our cohort. That sucks. It sucks that we're expected to be pitted against each other. It sucks that we're not supposed to support each other. That needs to change. I urge you all to surround yourself with inspiring, strong, smart, beautiful women; I guarantee it'll make your life so much better in every way conceivable.

If you'd like to hear more about my thoughts regarding girl hate, you can read a post I wrote over a year ago on that exact subject. Until then, though, I'm gonna return my attention to Don Draper.

x,
Lauren

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BEDA Day 16: Dumb

I had a really nice dinner with a friend and I bought new clothes and a cute purse and my hair looked great today.

Then my day got shitty and I got yelled at and then I got a speeding ticket.

No fun.

So close to midnight and so little motivation to write. So much motivation to lie in bed and cry.

This totally counts as a blog post, by the way.

x,
Lauren

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

BEDA Day 15: I Love Myself

I'm forever made fun of for my constant uttering of the phrase "I love myself." To be honest I don't at all mind, because I have a pretty thick skin and all the joking is in good fun, but I really just want to clear the air: it's not a bad thing to love yourself. It's not a joke to have good self esteem, and it's not problematic to take care of Number 1.

I love myself because I know how to do it the best--no one knows how to take care of me more than myself. No one knows when exactly I need to take medicine, or lie down, or read a good book, or be in the company of friends. Loved ones and those super intuitive might be able to make a good guess, but I'm the only person that's really at the frontline of my own needs. So then, why shouldn't I be constantly showing myself love and affection, especially when I need it most? Because I'm not trying to get depressing here, but at the end of the day, we only have ourselves. You come into the world alone, you leave the world alone. All that time in-between is spent with other ultimately temporary people. Whether it's through death, distance, or disdain, everyone eventually leaves. Except you. You stay with yourself--love yourself through the process.

And with that in mind, I love myself because it would suck if I didn't. Seriously think about it--if you had a friend who talked to you like you talked to yourself, would you be friends with that person? Not if they're constantly berating, critical, and negative. You wouldn't want to hang out with someone who's always mean to you, so why be mean to yourself? Sure, it's okay to sometimes be critical of yourself and to strive to right the wrongs you've committed, but overall you should be your biggest cheerleader.

That's what I try to do. That's why I always remind myself to engage in self-love. That's why I work out--I love myself enough to want a good bill of health. That's why I buy myself nice things on occasion--I love myself enough to drop some cash on a new purse when I've earned it. That's why I sleep on clean sheets and read good books and eat good food. I love myself and I want every fiber of my being to get the memo.

So in short: I know the phrase "I love myself" is funny. I know it's not commonplace for people--especially women--to be their own number one fan. We as a society are used to looking in the mirror and pointing out ten things we hate about what we see. We're shocked when someone sees their own reflection and says, "I look nice today." But it shouldn't be that way--we should want more for ourselves. We should strive to be comfortable in the only skin we're given and to be constantly bettering ourselves. That's the key: loving yourself is not blind cockiness and an aversion to criticism. Loving yourself is knowing you're not perfect and acknowledging your faults but refusing to make yourself miserable because of it.

In short: I love myself unapologetically and I don't care who knows it. I want all of you to love yourselves too. And if that's hard right now, because I get that, start with this: I love you. And I promise I'll love you enough to make up for the love you can't show yourself right now. That's, of course, on the understanding that you'll eventually take over my job, because at some point you need to fall head over heels with you.

x,
Lauren



Instagram photo courtesy of @kayleyhyde

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BEDA Day 14: Note to Self

Feel free to read this post, but it's a letter to myself. Don't feel like you're being nosey if you proceed, but just know that I'm taking a second to be self-involved and revolve this blog around my own needs and the things I need to hear right now.

Hey Lauren--

You are enough.

Never apologize for taking up space.

Also don't apologize for protecting yourself.

You're not as terrible as you think you are.

There's nothing wrong with putting yourself first sometimes.

There's also nothing wrong with taking care of other people, even when you know they can't even begin to return the favor. Because here's a secret: not everyone is as aware and as eager to do good. That's okay; you can't blame people for being somebody you're not.

Don't change yourself so people will like you. The people who do like you wouldn't want you to fix a thing, and the people who have a laundry list of personality traits and physical attributes they would tweak on your size 8, 5'6'' frame aren't worth your time.

Just keep drinking good coffee and reading good books and hanging out with good people.

You're a smart girl--you know where to get the good coffee and which books are good and which people have your best interests at heart. When it comes to that stuff, stick to what you know.

Also I need you to know that it's okay to be overwhelmed and it's okay to cry sometimes.

Who cares if your bedroom walls are thin and everyone hears your sniffles and deep breaths. You're a human with messy emotions, not a china doll with painted on eyes that are always glimmering.

And one last thing, because I can't stress this enough: YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.

x,
Lauren

Monday, April 13, 2015

BEDA Day 13: Compliment People

Happy Monday, guys! I hope your days were as stress-free as possible, though I know that's hard to hope for on a Monday. At the very least, I hope you had at least one good cup of coffee to help get you through it.

My Monday was pretty good all in all--kind of a long day though now that I'm thinking back on it. Do you ever do that? Do you ever think about everything you did in a single day and think to yourself, "wow...I seriously accomplished all of that in one day? The stuff I did this morning seems like it was forever ago." I went to four classes, filed a tax extension, did homework in Dunkin Donuts, read a book in the sunshine, worked out, got dinner with a friend, showered, blogged, and cleaned my room. Quite the productive Monday if you ask me. Can't promise I'll be super on my grind tomorrow. I just have one class and an afternoon cat nap scheduled, that's about it. Maybe a few episodes of Mad Men if I'm being really ambitious.

Switching gears: today I wanted to talk about compliments. Compliments are great. Receiving a compliment puts that spring in your step to propel you forward on even your worst days. Because maybe you just failed an exam, spilled down the front of your shirt, and got in a fender bender, but that girl likes your shoes! You're on top of the world! In all seriousness--because I know that's a little exaggerated--getting compliments feels so good, and yet I hardly ever return the favor. I rarely find myself telling people when I like what they're wearing, a joke they told, the color of their eyes, etc. If I'm really close to someone, say my mom or one of my best friends, I'll shoot a quick "you look cute" or a "that was funny" to them in passing, but I need to do more than that. I want to challenge myself to do more than that. Because when I do compliment people, especially strangers, the light that seems to come from within them and warm their entire face is straight up the most beautiful thing in the world.

So that's my goal this week, guys: compliment someone every day. Bonus points if it's a stranger. Because too many times do I silent think to myself "I like that girl's skirt" without actually opening my mouth and saying so. What's the worst that could happen? She'll bite me? I think not. Odds are good that she'll smile super wide and think highly of herself. I want to contribute to that. I want to be the reason for someone's good mood. And I want you to do the same. Compliment someone tomorrow, especially if you're like me and rarely take the time to spread the love. The good energy and positivity will work like a boomerang, bouncing off of that life you've just touched to put a smile on your own face, too. Not that we're doing this to make ourselves feel absolved or special; it's not about that. But it never hurts to make your own day as a side-effect of making someone else's.

I'll leave you with some ideas to get you started. You guys rock; go make someone's day tomorrow.

x,
Lauren

The thing I like most about these compliments is none of them rely on appearance. It's nice to sometimes tell someone they have pretty hair or that they should consider modeling, but what's more important is what's on the inside. All that physical stuff fades; compliment someone's soul. As Ed Sheeran once said, "your soul could never grow old--it's evergreen."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

BEDA Day 12: An Ode to Endorphins

Happy Sunday, everyone. I hope you had good, relaxing days. My day started off right, brunching and shopping with some of my wonderful girlfriends, but I'm not gonna lie to you all: things took a turn. In the midst of cleaning, doing homework, and general productivity that seems to always fall on a Sunday, I got some unsettling family news. Now before you jump to conclusions, everything's fine. All my loved ones are in good health thankfully. Just some personal business that I'm really not emotionally ready to handle right now. And initially my plan was to cry myself to sleep with no food in my stomach, only to wake up cranky and puffy-eyed on Monday morning. But I didn't do that. I went to the gym.

That's why this post is titled "An Ode to Endorphins": because exercise is the best. Working out boosts your mood unlike anything else on this planet--I'm so thankful that I've become someone who actually craves cardio. I know how that sounds; I know I sound like an elitist Nike snob. That's not my intent though guys--I just really want you all to know how good it feels to sweat. Exercise isn't just some terrible chore that everyone hates but sticks with to look good in a bikini. I mean sure that's a nice side-effect, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Working out makes you feel empowered. It makes you feel unstoppable. It makes you feel superhuman. Working out just makes you feel good. I mean here I am post-workout, feeling like I never even sobbed on the phone to my mom a few hours ago.

God, endorphins are so good. Go run a mile and try to tell me you don't feel amazing.

X,
Lauren

Saturday, April 11, 2015

BEDA Day 11: Happy Saturdaze

Happy Saturday! I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful weather if that's the case where you are. It was an absolutely gorgeous day today, 75 and sunny with bright blue skies. And when it's nice outside in college, that means it's time to dress up like you're going to Coachella and drink in someone's front lawn.

Now I don't have anything against a day drink; I think there's nothing wrong with enjoying the sun and good company while you're wearing a flower crown and holding a red Solo cup. Just wasn't feelin it today, ya know? Some days you just want to enjoy nature in a way that's a little more low-key. Which is why I'm so thankful for my friend Ashley, aka my bestest friend and former roommate.

As I was contemplating how to spend my Saturday, she texted me asking if I wanted to go adventuring. And for a second I thought she was kidding, but turns out she was 100% serious. So we did. I picked her up at her apartment immediately and we got on the highway with no destination in mind. We switched roads whenever it felt right, following signs toward towns that sounded promising, and eventually ended up in the downtown area of the next town over. So really we didn't even travel that far, but we ended up somewhere totally new and fun to explore. We stopped into small boutiques and locally-owned businesses; we browsed used bookstores and wished we had enough money to eat at the fancy looking restaurants we passed. We took pictures of ourselves by balancing our phones on strangers' cars (wouldn't recommend that, not a super smart choice) to document the experience and drove home taking only a book Ashley bought for five dollars in one of those small businesses. It was genuinely such a fun, different way to spend a Saturday.

And, y'know, I hope you all have someone in your life who makes you that happy. I hope you have a friend, family member, or significant other who can take you on a spontaneous road trip to a place you've never been. I hope you meet someone who changes your life for the better, so much so that you can't possibly remember what your life was like before they came in and turned the brightness up by 200%.

I'll leave you with that before I get super sappy and emotional. Have a good night, everyone!

x,
Lauren

One of those pics we took in the middle of the road. Shoutout to that Toyota Camry for being our tripod.

Friday, April 10, 2015

BEDA Day 10: Good Things Friday

Happy Friday, friends! Coming at you live from the RA office, where I'm currently sitting duty. I'm here until 2 AM, serving this community and keeping it safe. Yadda yadda yadda. Long story short: I'm babysitting freshmen. So to combat that, today I wanted to just spew out some happiness at your computer screen, because it's been a pretty solid week. And plus, it's good to focus on the positives, especially when things get overwhelming.

So, good things:

1) I got an 80% on my geology exam today! I could've sworn I did much worse than that, but apparently I know a thing or two about rocks and shit.

2) I got two books in the mail from Amazon today! New books are fun; I haven't been reading lately (so needless to say that New Years Resolution is going...great...)

3) I got back in the gym after taking a week off from working out, solely because I was lazy. Well, and also because I got super sick. Speaking of...

4) I'm not super sick anymore! After ten days of feeling under the weather, I'm finally starting to feel like a real human again.

5) I'm seeing my favorite teacher from high school tomorrow. And she's pregnant! So exciting; she's gonna be such a great momma. I can't wait for her and her husband to be super cool, liberal, hippy parents.

6) There's a very good chance I'm going to buy myself candy from the vending machine shortly after this blog post goes live.

7) Two of my friends surprised me with cookies and cream flavored ice cream from our local dairy bar! And then they hung out with me while I was on duty for awhile. So blessed to have thoughtful, kindhearted people in my life.

8) The weather was beautiful all week, give or take a few rain showers. I chose to walk to class instead of taking the bus on a few occasions, which really did wonders to clear my head.

9) I read aloud a poem I wrote the other day in class (the poem I posted a few days ago, actually) and it was really well received and started an in-class discussion on street harassment and catcalling. Validation, for sure.

10) There's officially less than one month left in the school year. I can't decide if that's a good thing or not, since of course I don't want another year to come to an end so soon...but I'm ready for summer y'all. Now that I've had a taste of nice weather, it's hard to keep my nose in a textbook.

Alright, I'll leave you all with that for the evening. I hope you had a great week full of good things.

x,
Lauren

Thursday, April 9, 2015

BEDA Day 9: Tattoos and Why I Have Them

Hello, friends. How's it going? I hope your Thursday is going well--honestly mine has gone by so quickly, which is surprising considering all I've done is sit indoors and study for geology. Or at least attempt to study for geology. I dunno, guys; I think I've forgotten how to study, it's quite a problem. Send positive vibes tomorrow morning at 10:10 when I'm struggling through 40 multiple choice questions about volcanoes, earthquakes, mountain building, geologic time, and the interior of the earth. Emphasis on the struggling. But as usual, I don't want to talk about schoolwork today. I'm so bored by schoolwork; I want to talk about tattoos.

Because the majority of my readership is comprised of people I know in real life, most of you might know that I have two tattoos. I have the word "fearless" tattooed on my wrist and the coordinates of my grandparents' home tattooed on my rib cage. I got the wrist tattoo done in January 2014 and the ribcage tattoo done in March 2015. Both are super simple fonts in just black ink; that's just my aesthetic preference. I think colorful, intricate tattoos are absolutely beautiful, but only to look at, not to have inked on my body. Although never say never. (Sorry, Mom)

My tattoos both took less than an hour, (in fact, the wrist only took about 15 minutes, if that) so I don't really know much about serious tattoo artistry. All I know is I thought both designs were important enough to put on my body, and I don't regret either of them. I mean, to be fair, I've only had tattoos on my body for less than two years, (or, in the case of the ribcage tat, less than two months) but I don't see myself being overwhelmed with regret any time in the future. Okay, maybe in the future, when my skin sags and the ink blurs, I might not think the artistry is as impeccable as I think it is now, but I don't think I'll ever regret the idea of having the tattoos. Because for me, having tattoos is such a special sense of ownership and bravery that is unparalleled in all other aspects of my life.

I love the fact that I have tattoos, because it takes guts to get a tattoo. There are some brave, iron-clad, tough people who won't get tattooed, because the idea of permanent ink scares them. Or they're wary of the pain. I can't tell you how amazing it feels to live in the aftermath of getting tattooed, because I get to live in a world where I get to pretend to be brave. I might be super timid, but at the very least, I have tattoos; so many people can't say that. And maybe conservative, buttoned-up people might disagree, but I'm so proud of myself for undergoing a tattoo. It might not be the most excruciating pain in the world (in fact, it's really not THAT bad), but it's no walk in the park. It takes a certain level of tolerance and strength. I've proven to myself twice now that I have that tolerance and strength locked up within me somewhere.

And here's the other thing: I've willingly altered my body forever. That takes bravery. That takes courage. That takes confidence. Call it stupidity, call it ignorance...call it what you want, but I'll forever be proud of myself for being so self-assured. Because here's the secret: on a day-to-day basis, I'm the most timid, anxious, self-conscious person you might ever encounter. I'm always worrying or over-analyzing. Seemingly always on the verge of a panic attack. So having tattoos is a little reminder to myself that I can be brave. In fact, the first tattoo ("fearless") is in-part a reminder of that: to be unapologetically myself and to take that leap. Do things for my own approval and my own happiness.

So, that's why I love my tattoos. I love classifying myself in a subset of the population who's been inked up. I love the little smirk of satisfaction I get when I catch sight of my tattoo when looking down at my hands or standing naked in the mirror after a hot shower. I might not love having to explain myself to extended family, and maybe someday I'll be preaching the dangers of tattoos, but for now I'm not sorry. I'm a canvas adorned with some beautiful works of art.

The ribcage tattoo--kind of a scandalous photo. But I mean, gotta show off for Instagram, y'know?

The first tattoo about an hour after it was done--hence the red, bumpy skin.

x,
Lauren

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BEDA Day 8: Poetry, According to Me

Hey, guys! I hope you're doing well. This week has been a little bit overwhelming, but I'm hanging in there. I have a big exam in one of my science classes on Friday, and for some reason nothing makes the week go by quicker than a big exam on the horizon. The good news, at least, is that means it's almost the weekend. But enough about that; school and tests and academics are generally boring topics.

What I wanted to talk about today is poetry, in honor of April being National Poetry Month. I have a very unique relationship with poetry that I want to explore. Basically, I wouldn't consider myself a poet. Or at least not a good one. Poetry doesn't come easily to me, both reading and writing it. And that's fine, because I don't expect myself to naturally excel at every type of writing I undertake, but for some reason, poetry has plagued me for the longest time. Not being naturally inclined toward stanza and meter and endstops sure has a way of making me feel inferior. That's because right now I'm in an intro to poetry class. I took the class because it fulfills credits for my creative writing minor, and as I just mentioned I wanted an opportunity to get better at reading and writing poetry. "Better" is the operative term here; I don't know if I'll ever master the art of poetry, but I am seeing improvement. A lot of that has to do with relinquishing preconceived notions about what poetry is and isn't.

For the longest time I thought I was terrible at poetry because I thought it all had to be incredibly thought-out and intentional, right down to the commas and semi-colons. I thought my poetry couldn't be good unless it read like a muddled storm of metaphor and angst. I thought I needed to make allusions that only the most precocious literature students could pick up on. I compared myself to the other students in my class, who were writing poems that were metaphysical and confusing. Turns out I was wrong. Turns out poetry is whatever you want it to be.

At least that's the conclusion I've come to. I could be wrong, but I think there's beauty in poems that are meant to be taken literally. I don't think there's anything wrong with poems that tell it like it is. Poems that don't require you to reference a dictionary every third word. Poems that are easy to understand. Because while some poems require work and are worth digging deep for, I don't necessarily think it's bad for a poem to put everything out there on the table. No complicated literary devices. Just, "read this poem. Feel something. Go with your first instinct."

What do you think, though? Because maybe I'm oversimplifying things. Maybe I'm just giving myself an excuse to write basic poems. But maybe I'm onto something. Maybe some art is meant to be immediately felt--some art can touch your heart without first establishing a heavily-contrived metrical scheme. Maybe we're too afraid to tell it like it is, and we're clouding up our poems because we don't have the courage to do otherwise. I'll leave you with a poem I wrote recently, and you can answer those questions for yourself.

Fourteen, Street Corner

Over a quick visit to my hometown,
I drove past my old high school
which isn’t hard to do, in fact
it’s hard not to drive by the building
when running suburban errands.
Because someone thought a major road
slicing the town in half was a prime spot
for secondary education.

Stalling at the stop sign,
a young girl waited to cross the street
next to the open window of my SUV’s
passenger side. Maybe fourteen, born
the same year this car was manufactured.
Her backpack slung low over slumped shoulders,
Legs exposed in shorts worn in a heat wave.
Denim on her skin; apparently inadequate armor.

Because soon came a car from the opposite direction.
Four men at forty miles an hour
hollering incoherently, pinning passive pain
on a girl who dressed for the weather
on her walk home. And I watched her sudden shame.
From my rearview mirror I recognized her grimace.
And I remembered being on that sidewalk,
my cheeks fiery after another day in ninth grade.

Wishing to be eradicated, blaming myself
for an opinion resounded by a violently wielded sword.
Slicing apart my self-worth with a sloppy hand.
Wondering if I had permission to be upset
while choking under the weight of a pompous thumb
who yelled from the safety of a moving vehicle.
From the safety of boys just being boys

on suburban roads, on the assumption that she doesn’t matter.

Until tomorrow.

x,
Lauren

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

BEDA Day 7: In Need of a New Job

            I am in dire need of a new summer job. Not to complain, because having a job you dread is better than having no job at all, but it’s April and here I am, already dreading. I need a new summer job that welcomes only adults. I need a new summer job that is as challenging as it is rewarding, not challenging with lack of reward.
I need a new job because I’m a camp counselor. June through August, Monday through Friday, nine in the morning through four in the afternoon I’m herding kids around. From the art classroom to the bathroom to wash their hands before snack. From the bathroom to the picnic benches outdoors to eat. From the picnic benches to the art classroom once they’ve each eaten a bag of chips or a piece of fruit. Inevitably back to the bathroom ten minutes later because at least one kid will have to miraculously use the toilet again. Bathroom to art classroom. Art classroom to gym. Gym to kickball field. Kickball field to bathroom. Bathroom to picnic tables. Picnic tables to locker rooms. Locker rooms to pool. And after all that is said and done, the clock has barely scraped past noon.
I need a new summer job because I’m just not a “kids” person. Some people thrive on the never-ending store of energy kids have. I tire from kids. Not that I don’t like kids; I like most kids. Most kids are sweet and kind and have mothers who teach them to say “please” and “thank you.” But even among the sweetest kids, I feel my enthusiasm depleting and the coffee I drink in the morning rendered obsolete. And that’s with the sweet kids. Not all kids are sweet. There are kids who yell. There are kids who cry. There are kids who will hit and punch and kick and pull the hair of the sweet kids. The kids who will splash you in the pool and will “accidentally” dump an entire canister of glitter onto the linoleum floor with an unmistakable grimace. And even when these kids are a vast minority, what they lack in numbers they make up for in screams.

I need a new summer job without those kids. I need a new summer job that without those kids’ parents. Because if you’ve ever met a loud and destructive eight-year-old, you haven’t met his parents. His parents allow him to bite and yell and say “no” to everyone. His parents give in to his tantrums. His parents give him cake for dinner if that’s what he wants. His parents think their child is an angel and will not for one minute hear anything to argue the contrary. I know this because at my summer job, I call those parents. At my summer job I’ll be leading a craft or a game then suddenly I’ll need to pull out my walkie-talking and have another camp counselor watch my group so I can make a phone call. The other camp counselor will come and I will fly up the stairs to use my boss’s phone. And then I’ll be yelled at over the phone in defense of a parent’s precious child who couldn’t possibly be behaving that way. So then the duration of the camp session will be awkward during drop-off and pick-up times, and I’ll grit my teeth while physically feeling my patience running thin. And maybe one of those aforementioned sweet kids will lift my spirits for just a moment by presenting me with a drawing they’ve done, their crayon signature in the bottom corner. And I’ll feel a moment of gratitude and contentment, but then, like clockwork, another scream will enter my ears. I need a new summer job.


**obviously this is all in good fun. My summer job is not by any means terrible. I'm treated well, but sometimes a girl just has to blow off some steam for the sake of a well-intentioned, funny blog post. Can I live?**

Monday, April 6, 2015

BEDA Day 6: Spring Playlist

Hello friends! I hope this Monday finds you well. It was a beautiful sunny day here in Harrisonburg, meaning wearing a maxi dress and flip-flops even though I still felt like I was run over by a truck. The good news is I'm definitely on the mend, but I've still been sniffly all day. Trying to combat that by drinking lots of water and taking my medicine. I'm also about to run to the gym to try and psych myself into being healthy; hopefully some cardio will make this cold run for the hills. After that, I think I'll have a hot shower and ten hours of sleep. If I'm not better by tomorrow after all that, I officially quit. I'll officially resign myself to the Common Cold Overlords.

Back to that beautiful weather, though: because it's so beautiful outside, I thought I'd share with you my go-to playlist for this time of year. Something about warm weather brings about feel-good music. Be forewarned that a lot of this is either country or super sugary pop music. If you're looking for deep, meaningful lyrics, keep it moving, because you won't find that here. Expect lots of dumb songs to unabashedly listen to with the car windows rolled down, cruising down the interstate. Without further adieu:

1) "Sofa" by Ed Sheeran
2) "Eighteen Cool" by Hoodie Allen
3) "Worth It" by Fifth Harmony
4) "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon
5) "Raised On It" by Sam Hunt
6) "Girl Almighty" by One Direction (RIP Zayn)
7) "Trailer Hitch" by Kristian Bush
8) "Nobody Love" by Tori Kelly
9) "Crush" by David Archuleta (SUCH a throwback. And I still know all the words.)
10) "Your Side Of Town" by Maddie & Tae

Go forth and look all of those up at your earliest convenience; don't blame me when they're all stuck in your head tomorrow.

x,
Lauren

PS: Leave your favorite warm weather songs in the comments!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

BEDA Days 4 and 5: Sick

Hey, guys! So yesterday I just completely dropped the ball. No other excuse for it--I straight up forgot to blog. I've been sick all weekend, sleeping on and off and taking medicine, so in my NyQuil haze I managed to fall asleep without posting. To be fair, I'm sure very few of you noticed, but there's my apology nonetheless.

Today's Easter, and even though I'm not super religious, it doesn't feel like Easter at all. A lot of that has to do with me being sick, accompanied by both of my parents, who have been struck with the same wicked cold as I have. That meant no visiting extended family, no wearing a pretty sundress, no Easter ham for dinner. Instead, I stayed in my Target robe and ate a lot of soup. I think Jesus who understand, though.

Other than being sick, I did have a pretty good weekend all in all. On Friday night myself, plus my friends from home, visited our other friend who goes to school about two hours away. The road trip was fun, as was the change in scenery. We ate greasy, delicious fast food for dinner and got to soak up the beautiful spring weather until we fell asleep at four in the morning. Of course, eating the terrible food, yelling over top of loud music, and going to bed just before the sunrise only made me sicker, but sometimes you just have to put your health on the back burner so you can spend time with your friends. Only downside of the trip is we were barely there for twelve hours, so we didn't have much of an opportunity to explore. That's okay though, because it just means another full-fledged visit is definitely necessary at some point in the future. Plus, nothing quite like road trips with friends that somehow result in long-winded conversations about feminism and the gynecologist.

After that trip ended, everything is a sick, common cold blur. I came home to celebrate Easter weekend with my family, but instead of actually celebrating, I've been cooped up in bed for most of the visit. That's okay, though, because honestly I'd rather be sick at home than sick in my dorm room. At least here I can have my momma to take care of me. The only bad thing about coming home is it makes me want summer so badly. There's a little over one month left in this school year, and while it seems like the first day of classes was just last week, I'm ready. I've never experienced such a lack of motivation toward my schoolwork, and the warm weather only makes it harder to focus on my classes. I think a lot of that has to do with me finishing up my gen-ed classes; I'm sure once I'm taking classes I'm passionate about I'll feel differently. At least I hope so.

So anyway, I know this post is a little on the shorter side, but I'm gonna sign out. I'll talk to you all again tomorrow. Sorry again for forgetting to blog yesterday and for the rambly, haphazard nature of this post. Blame it on the meds.

x,
Lauren

Friday, April 3, 2015

BEDA Day 3: Forgive Me

Happy day 3 of BEDA! I'm the worst, but it's a Friday night and I'm being social. Kind of. Idk. Real post tomorrow.

Love you, mean it.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

BEDA Day 2: Science or Something

Wouldn't it be hilarious if I forgot to blog on the second day of BEDA? If right out of the gate I completely dropped the ball? By hilarious I mean pathetic and embarrassing. But I didn't forget! I remembered in just the knick of time--let's BEDA it up.

So right now I'm blogging in the midst of studying for this science exam I have tomorrow, and to be honest, I couldn't care less about anything I'm learning. Granted, I'm doing a lot of "listening to Fifth Harmony" and not a lot of "strictly devoting myself to my notes," but that's neither here nor there. I'm trying my best to focus on electromagnetic fields and parallel circuits and thermal energy, but I just don't care. And if you ask me, apathy makes studying nearly impossible. If I'm even remotely interested in what I'm learning about or if the class somehow benefits me later on, I can go over study guides like nobody's business. But science? I'm both intimidated and disinterested. I don't want to approach science in a dark alley. I don't want to touch science with a thirty foot pole. I don't want to take science out of coffee and ask it about its future goals. I would be perfectly happy living the rest of my life never having to utter the words "proton" or "thermodynamics" again. So as you can tell, I haven't really formed a full opinion on science yet. I'm pretty indifferent to the subject...

In all seriousness though, the thing that sucks about not being scientifically inclined is being looked at as lesser. For some reason, there's this myth that people interested in math and science are objectively smarter than creative types. And that's just not true. I've met plenty of engineering majors who can't hold a conversation and biology majors who don't how to piece together a literary analysis essay. But who's being revered and acknowledged? The nerds balancing chemical equations and looking at shit through a microscope.

And I mean maybe I'm being a little unfair to the Bachelor of Sciences in the world. I know their workload is very important and stressful and worthwhile. Without science we wouldn't have doctors and weathermen and engineers and basically the world as we know it would crumble apart. My sourpuss attitude just comes from a place of harbored hard feelings from people looking down on me for my interests and intelligences. It also comes from a place of science being BORING and DUMB. Sorry, that's my immature, cussed side coming out.

So anyway, even though I want to be doing anything else, I really should get back to studying. I would love nothing more than to tear up my notes and toss it around my dorm room like confetti, but I'm trying to do this whole "Dean's List" thing, which means I can't let this science class weigh my GPA down too hard. Aka I'm just trying to get a C+ on this exam so I can continue skirting by while exerting the lease amount of effort I can possibly muster. I'm such a role model; kids, you should aspire to be me in your collegiate endeavors.

Alright, I'll talk to you tomorrow!

x,
Lauren

PS: Apparently no one wants to do Question of the Day, so that was a fun experiment that failed pretty terribly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BEDA Day 1: On Forgiveness

Happy April, and more importantly, Happy BEDA! We're gonna hang out for an entire month, guys, and I couldn't be more excited. It's gonna get warmer outside, we're gonna bust out our sundresses, and we're gonna hang out every. single. day. Who's pumped?!

To kick off BEDA, though, I kind of want to tackle a more melancholy topic; I've had something on my mind for a few days that I want to share. Don't expect this post to be super well-written or well thought out, but rather prepare yourself for a little bit of word vomit.

...no wait...actual vomit. 
Inevitable Mean Girls reference out of the way, here's what I want to talk about: apologies and forgiveness. Specifically, how to forgive someone when they apologize for something they've done. I'm a big believer in the power of apology; I think a heartfelt "I'm sorry" can heal a lot of wounds. That's the key though: heartfelt. Genuine. None of this "I'm only saying sorry so you'll get off my back, but I don't really mean it."

When someone genuinely apologizes, we're inclined to quickly respond with an "it's okay" and move on with our day. That's not helpful, either. I'm of the belief that a haphazard "it's okay" is just as bad as a half-assed apology. Because think about what that actually means: you're basically allowing the behavior that rendered the apology to go unchecked. When you say "it's okay," you're really saying "what you did was okay. Feel free to do it again." That's not right. That's why instead I think, "I forgive your apology" or "Thank you for your apology. It means a lot" is much more effective. That way the person apologizing knows not to commit whatever they're apologizing for again, and at the same time the relationship (whether it's family, friends, romantic partners, etc etc) can continue to exist with minimal damage.

But what about those apologies we never receive? What about those "I'm sorry"s we never heard? When we feel like we've been wronged without any damage control, it can sting a bit. That's where things get a bit more complicated. Making peace with people who have wronged you in the past is hard. I know because I've been there. I'm currently there, if we're honest. I've been there for a long time.

I think the reason why it's so hard to forgive people who never apologized to us is because it's easy to feel like a victim. It's super tempting to slip into a place of "they never said sorry, so I'm going to feel sorry for myself." That's destructive. If you're too busy feeling sorry for yourself, it's hard to feel much of anything else. You miss out on unabashed happiness. You're too wrapped up in your own pity party that it might not come as a shock when your friends stop inviting you to real parties. No one wants to hang out near a dark cloud.

But moving on and snapping out of it is so much easier said than done. I'm really talking to myself in that last paragraph, because it's the advice I need to hear. I--and maybe some of you reading, if you're in a similar place--need to stop feeling so bad for myself. Because, yeah, I've been lied to and manipulated. I've been wronged by people. But I'm also so blessed and so loved. I might have one or two enemies, but I also have so many people who I love and who, believe it or not, love me back. That's what I need to focus on. I urge you to do the same. Making peace with the past starts with acknowledging that it hurt. I've sufficiently taken care of that step. Now it's time to realize the reason why the past is never going to correct itself: the people who hurt you can't apologize because they're embarrassed. Unless you were hurt by a sociopath, that person you have hard feelings for knows. They're living with their guilt, most likely. And that sucks for them. Feel sorry for them instead of feeling sorry for yourself. 

It's hard to be Heidi Montag. You're Lauren Conrad. Lauren Conrad is clearly the best girl on The Hills.
Iconic reality TV gifs aside, you're awesome. You don't have time for negative energy. It's April, for crying out loud. Start this month by releasing some of that hatred stored up in secret corners of your brain. It's beautiful and sunny outside, stop dwelling on that time in the past when it thunderstormed. Like I said, this advice is also for me, in the event that I need to hear it again later on. I hope that someone else benefits from this, too.

See you tomorrow (!!!)

x,
Lauren

When I did Vlogmas, I ended each post with a quote, but for BEDA I think I want to end each post with a question. This is assuming you, as the reader, would be willing to contribute. We'll see how it goes.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite Mean Girls quote?
Bonus Question, for those of you who want to earn some extra Brownie Points: what kinds of posts do YOU want to see during BEDA?