Saturday, December 24, 2016

Blogmas Day 24: A Finale and a Special Guest

Hello, everyone! Today is the last official day of Blogmas, and boy has this holiday season flown by. In the thick of it, it seemed as though December would never end, but here we are one day away from Christmas and one week from 2017. I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out what I should do as a grand finale this year, when the thought hit me: maybe the best way to wrap up Blogmas is to have a special guest write for me. I promise this isn't because I'm feeling lazy (okay, maybe partially because I'm feeling lazy...) but also because I thought it'd be special to have my grandmother take the helm for a turn. She's the world's most enthusiastic conversationalist and an author of two children's books; she probably has more to say than I do. So with that brief introduction, here she is:

Right after Thanksgiving, I was telling my husband that I really wasn't that much in the mood to put up a tree and do a lot of decorating. Part of the reason, I think, was because of all the work of having to haul all the stuff down from the attic. Fast-forward one week: my daughter, who lives in Virginia, called me and said "Mom, we're coming to your house for Christmas!"

I was so excited that my daughter, son-in-law, and my beautiful* granddaughter, Lauren, would be spending Christmas with me and my husband. My mindset changed very quickly, and I was now ready to get started on decorating our home. A week later, the tree was up, the mantle was decorated, the Christmas village had been set up, along with the Nativity scene.

Now it's Christmas Eve; Lauren and I made cookies and she made a coffee cake. My youngest daughter, Amie, will be joining us for dinner and hopefully we will be playing a few games, which always brings a lot of laughs. 

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. When my girls were little, I made them Christmas nightgowns and pretty dresses. The dessert was always a cake, and we would sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Our home was filled with warmth and love, and to this day those are the most special and precious memories, and we continue to make new ones each year. 

Lauren, again: I know it's short, but that's (quite literally) all she wrote. I hope you're all having a nice Christmas Eve, start of Hanukkah, or other secular festivities. Thanks for sticking with me for three Blogmases; I'll see you soon!

*I promise she wrote this without any prodding from me. All opinions are courtesy of Jeanne Archambault, copyright 2016.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Blogmas Day 23: A Day Told in Drinks

Hey, guys. Today was a long, happy, jolly day. I was able to spend some good quality time with my family and enjoy total relaxation. Instead of just giving you a boring rundown, though, I thought I'd punctuate the day's events via the drinks I consumed throughout. You'll notice that I'm taking advantage of my 21-ness this holiday season.

East Coast IPA--3:00 pm
First stop (and first drink) of the day was served at Pour Judgment, a bar in the heart of Newport, Rhode Island where my aunt has worked for years. She's pretty much a staple, with locals and regulars flocking the bar to joke around and practically beg for her attention. My mom and I went to visit and to grab a quick bite. She marveled at how weird it was to be able to serve me a beer, and helped me pick one from the extensive list of craft brews since I know virtually nothing. 2017 is my year to learn more about wine and beer so I don't feel like an idiot any time I'm presented with a drink menu.

Cosmopolitan--6:30 pm
As mom and I returned to my grandparents' house, we hung around and waited for dinner. Vacation, if you can't tell, is essentially just lounging around in-between meals. In that time we addressed Christmas cards and responded to emails to kill time. We were waiting for my aforementioned aunt to get off work so we could all go out to dinner as a family, figuring it'd be okay to make a drink in the meantime. Using the ingredients we picked up at the liquor store in town, I made us Carrie Bradshaw's old fave: the cosmopolitan. Aka the more sophisticated, fussy version of a vodka-cranberry.

Gin and Tonic--8:00 pm
After leaving my aunt's new dog (a "morkie" named Chucky, the world's cutest little dude) with our dog Hollie and piling into the car, we arrived to dinner. Chopmist Charlie's, a seafood restaurant that's been on the island longer than I've been alive, serves the world's greatest clamcakes and chowder, plus other New England staples. With the chowda and cakes, I got a gin and tonic, and was carded by the waitress. This inspired my mom's new favorite comedy routine, when she asks "Don't you want to see my ID, too?" Some waitstaff find this funnier than others. This one was pretty indifferent to the schtick.

Creme de Menthe--10:00 pm
My grandma loves to serve this emerald green peppermint liqueur over ice when she's entertaining guests. My mom remembers seeing it served at parties when she was a kid and marveling at the rich hue as it swirled around in sturdy bar glasses. As we let our dinners digest and dogs sit in our laps, my family and I sipped on the creme de menthe and reminisced until it was time to retire for the evening.

That brings us here. Gosh, it seems like all I did today was eat and drink. That's only partially true, I swear. But hey, isn't that kind of what the holidays are about? There's that old adage: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. Anyway, it's about time for me to call it a night.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Blogmas Day 22: A Christmas Survey

I don't think I can quite express to you how incredible it feels knowing I have zero reason to set an alarm tomorrow morning. Having woken up before the sun the past three days, the thought of sleeping in is more attractive to me than a large Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, Harry Styles, and a new season of RuPaul's Drag Race combined. If you know me at all, you know how serious that statement is.

Today's drive up to Rhode Island was pretty uneventful, which is about all you can ask for when it comes to road trips. I don't get carsick like I used to when I was a kid, which is comforting, but I must have passed the gene off to my ten-year-old dog, who delightful upchucked in the backseat of our rental car about four miles from my grandparents' house. She lasted eight hours and crossed through six states, yet couldn't wait ten minutes before she coughed up her breakfast. Nice. Other than that, though, my mom and I were able to occupy our time listening to music, podcasts, and old stories we cared to retell. Once we finally arrived (and thoroughly cleaned the car) we proceeded to flop into a horizontal position, where we remained for the rest of the evening, if you exclude dinner. Though to be honest I would've eaten lying down if I was allowed.

On that vein, today has been thoroughly draining. It also hasn't been one with a whole lot to report; I mean, hey, you heard about my dog's vomit and that's really the one thing worth noting. But Christmas is only three days away and I feel like Blogmas has been lacking its usual holiday cheer; I thought the best way to marry together my exhaustion and all things jolly would be to fill out a cheesy festive survey.

The Twelve Questions of Christmas*

1) What’s the best gift you have ever received? How about the worst?
When I was ten years old, I celebrated Christmas with my grandparents, my mom, my stepdad, and my aunt. Come to think of it, the exact same crowd that I'll be spending it with this year for the first time since then. Anyway, on Christmas morning my mom gave me a big flat box about the size of a large picture frame, wrapped with a bow. When I opened the box I came to find a shiny sheet of photo paper with bold red and green font, reading: "Tomorrow, you, Mom, Jim, and Aunt Amie are going to New York City to see The Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular on Broadway!" As a little kid with a fascination for theatre and an effervescent curiosity, there was nothing on the shelves of Toys R Us I could think of that I would trade that in for. I'm still the same way: when it comes to the best gifts, I'll take an experience over a physical object any day. Or just money, when in doubt.

As for the worst, nothing awful comes to mind. All I can think of is a Christmas when all I wanted was Hamtaro toys (those little rubber hamsters with accompanying play sets, because all my friends had them) when apparently they were flying off the shelves. My mom searched high and low but came up short; this was also in an age before online shopping was as prevalent as it is now. But anyway, because I still believed in Santa at the time, my mom wrote in Jolly Old Saint Nick's "note" to me all about how his elves only made one last set of Hamtaros but "a little boy in Alaska really wanted them, and I know how sweet and understanding you are, so I gave them to him." Not the worst gift, but definitely the worst cover-up.

2) What is your favorite Christmas movie moment?
The winter talent show scene in Mean Girls. It totally counts.

3) When do you open gifts?
In the past few years we've been in the habit of opening one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day; generally that all depends on if it makes sense, i.e. if there are pajamas to unwrap that can be slept in that night.

4) Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you he wasn't real?
This question is too pure. I believed in Santa until the age of ten or eleven, which is probably a little too far on the older end of the spectrum. My neighbor told me he wasn't real, and then my divorced parents decided the best course of action would be to take me out to Friendly's to officially break the news. When your mom and dad put their differences aside and let you order any sundae you want off the menu, you know it's serious. That's also how you know I grew up super sheltered.

5) What is your happiest Christmas memory?
I'm not sure. The "best gift" memory in question one definitely comes to mind, though I think as I get older my most cherished memories aren't any moments in particular. I really just love the warm, comfortable feeling of Christmas as a whole; I'm at my happiest when I'm baking cookies with my friends or hanging around the house in pajamas with my family after the gifts are opened. Just the sense of stillness and joy is my happiest memory. I know, I know: cheesy, but that's what you signed up for.

Describe an ornament that has special significance to you.
I'm a big fan of those Christmas trees that are a collage of different mismatched ornaments, with each having its own significance or acting as a souvenir. I don't have a particular ornament in mind, but I will say that my grandparents give me an ornament every single year, a tradition they've continued with each of their six grandchildren. Each ornament is picked out intentionally and each one looks wildly different from the others. But what I'm just realizing is they only do this for your first 21 Christmases, the idea being that by that time you'll be just about ready to set off on your own, and when you do you'll have a tiny little ornament collection of your own. So I guess that means this Christmas I'll be getting my last ornament from them. For that reason, that one will have a special significance, but I'm not sure what it looks like yet, so I can't quite describe it.

7) What famous person would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I didn't realize this would be a question when I referenced Harry Styles at the beginning of this blog post. So like...Harry Styles. I love being thirteen years old.

When it comes to decorations, are you more of a Griswald or a Grinch?
It's a cop-out to say "somewhere in the middle," but...somewhere in the middle. I love nothing more than a well decorated home during the holidays, but the effort it requires is taxing. It's only fun if you bump Christmas music, and even then by hour two untangling twinkle lights gets old.

What is your favorite version of a Christmas song?
100% without a doubt "Please Come Home for Christmas" by The Eagles. Not just my favorite Christmas song, but one of my favorite songs of all time. I'd listen to it in July. In fact, I have. Many times.

Have you had any traumatic Christmas-related experiences?
Alright, dark question! I don't think so, but also it's too late at night to comb through my memories and really try to come up with anything grim. But I mean my dog did throw up in the car today, and that was pretty traumatic. Smelly, too.

What would be an appropriate gag gift for most of your friends?
I think you can never go wrong with any bizarre food or alcohol item. Because it's funny but also serves a purpose. Pasta shaped like nether-regions. Bacon-flavored vodka. You get the idea.

12) Would you rather be a partridge in a pear tree or a lord a-leaping, and why?
Oh, easily the partridge. Do you know how much energy leaping requires? I'm more than happy just hanging out in a pear tree, thank you very much. 

On that note, it's bed time. Thanks so much for reading, guys. I'll see you tomorrow!

*survey from from

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blogmas Day 21: Tired

 Hi, blog. Do you want to know how lazy I am? I'm currently using talk to type to publish this. Part of that is due to the fact that I am beyond exhausted. I woke up this morning at 4:45 AM so I could get to work by six, the day before that I woke up  at 5:30 to get to work by seven. Tomorrow morning I have to wake up early to get on the road for Christmas travels before the sun is up… Needless to say I'm a little drained.  It feels silly to be technically blogging, when really I'm just talking into my phone, and I apologize for any typos that it may cause.

 Judging by the fact that I've had fewer than 10 hours of sleep in the past three days, I'm cutting myself a little slack tonight. A post of respectable length will be up tomorrow,  and I promise I will actually type that one out.

See you then,

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Blogmas Day 20: Last Minute Gifts

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had productive Tuesdays. Mine started unfairly early, with that 7 am Ulta shift I mentioned yesterday. I kind of resent Ulta for opening so early this week just to cater to those people who have yet to get their holiday shopping done. Maybe that's because I pride myself on being an early shopper to avoid the crowds and the gimmicks, or maybe it's because I had to wake up at 5:30 this morning and tomorrow's alarm is set for 4:45. Maybe a combination of the two. But either way, if you're not done with your shopping yet, wandering aimlessly at 8 am isn't going to help anybody. Which is why I'm directly going against my word from earlier this month, when I said I wouldn't be providing you with a gift guide. Some of you guys are desperate and waited until the last minute, and now it's my job to help you. I didn't ask to be the voice of a generation, but here I am accepting the responsibility nonetheless. Don't say I never did anything for you.

Without further adieu: 25 Last Minute Gifts*

*note: these aren't exceptional gifts. We don't have time for "exceptional," you waited too long. Take what you can get.

1) Assorted teas
2) Assorted coffees
3) Assorted cookies
4) Homemade cookies
5) Homemade brownies
6) A good pair of brown boots
7) Boot socks
8) Fuzzy socks
9) New glasses (for someone with fuzzy vision)
10) Bar glasses (for someone who likes to drink to the point of fuzzy vision)
11) Barre classes
12) A new notebook for class
13) The Notebook on DVD or Blu-Ray
14) Blue suede shoes
15) A shoe rack
16) A new rack (for your flat-chested friend)
17) A flat-screen TV
18) iPhone screen protectors
19) Protection (condoms or firearms, interpret as you will)
20) A condominium with a fireplace
21) A special place in your heart
22) A heartfelt letter
23) Letterhead
24) Headphones
25) A phone call

I definitely thought this through with a lot of intention. I didn't just play a quick word-association game with myself once I realized how boring curating a gift guide would be. Nope. Not at all. That's not at all what happened here. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to be up quite early tomorrow.

See you tomorrow,

Monday, December 19, 2016

Blogmas Day 19: Working at Ulta--The Truth

Hey, guys! Coming at you live from my couch, where I am reclining and eating leftover tortilla soup before making an appearance at a friend's get-together. You know you're back home in the suburbs when you go to a friend's get-together that's only being hosted because their parents aren't home, and in order to go you have to leave word with your mom. I guess I'm making up for all those lost years in high school that I spent not going to parties; at least at this age I can be honest about my whereabouts instead of pretending to sleep over at a friend's. So, there, mom: if you happen to be reading this, all those times I said I was going to have a High School Musical marathon, that's really what I was doing.

I won't be staying for too long, because I have an early shift at Ulta in the morning. By early I mean 7 am, because stores are staying open exceptionally long in order to accommodate those last-minute gift shoppers. If you can't tell, I'm not stoked about the whole ordeal. But the truth is I do really love working at Ulta, for the most part, and as I've officially given notice that I'm leaving the company effective in January, I only have a few shifts left. Of course it is a retail job, and no situation is perfect, so it hasn't necessarily been the most fun I've ever had every minute I've been there, but I've had a really positive experience overall. In my eighteen-month tenure with the company, many girls have told me how jealous they are of my job. I've also heard every question under the sun about the company, its policies, and what it's like to be apart of it. Which is why today I'm answering your questions about working at Ulta.

Working at Ulta--The Truth

"Do you have to wear a certain amount of makeup when you work?"
I've fielded this question a million times. A follow-up, or a question I get just as often is, "Do you have to be good at makeup to work at Ulta?" The answer to both is yes and no. Having a basic understanding of and appreciation for cosmetics is definitely an asset that Ulta looks for in its employees, but what's more important is your experience in customer service. You can learn about brands and technique at any time, but if you don't have the chops to offer a good guest experience, that's not so easily taught. As for having to wear a certain amount of makeup--or makeup at all--once you're apart of the Ulta team, that's also a yes and no. In our official dress code, it states our makeup must be "clean and smudge-free" and "reflect seasonal trends." That's pretty subjective. That's also why you'll see Ulta employees ranging in the degree of their beat* without a whole lot of staff uniformity. Of course those of us who have jobs with the company generally tend to like applying and wearing makeup, so it's not a huge burden to paint ourselves up every time we go to work. That said, if it's an off day or you're running late or you just don't want to, you don't have to pull out all the stops for every single shift.

"Will this product ever go on sale? Will you ever start selling a brand I love?"
I don't know! We know just about as much as the average consumer; often we're told about new product launches and promotions 3-10 days before those announcements go live. For example, when the news that Ulta would be carrying a select number of Nars products dropped, associates were given about one weeks' notice with very strict instructions not to blab. Someone did, and let's just say they've parted ways with the company. As for sales and coupons, for prestige items--your Urban Decay, Bare Minerals, and anything on that side of the store--odds are good the price listed is the best deal you'll get. Ulta works with these brands to sell their product, with the prices set by the brands themselves. It's not Ulta's decision to make the Naked palettes $54, that's Urban Decay's call. 95% the time, you won't see that price reduced, unless you've received a membership perk (we'll talk more about that in a minute) or the product just isn't selling like the brand thought it would. But again, we as employees can't forsee those changes. And just as a little add-on I thought I'd like to mention that those $3.50 off coupons you receive in the mail have a lot of fine print and a lot of exclusions, which is due to those contracts Ulta has with its affiliate brands. I know it sucks that you can't use it toward everything in the store, but I'm not the one who makes those rules.

"What does my Ulta card do?"
Great question! If you're shopping at Ulta semi-regularly (as in spending on average $35 per month with the brand) it's in your best interest to have one. Why? It's completely free and gives you money off of your transactions. From a marketing and customer retention standpoint, yes of course the goal of giving you a loyalty card is to rope you into coming back, but you know you'll be shopping here again anyway, so you might as well get some money off for it. And for those of you who claim "I don't wear makeup," we sell things you do use. Shampoo. Razors. Gifts for your niece. Plus, the money off you receive can be applied to any product in the store, unlike those universal $3.50 coupons. You can also hoard those points and save a greater dollar amount on a single purchase; a few weeks ago I saved eighty bucks. That was a lot of my Christmas shopping done totally for free. Plus, you'll get a nice birthday gift, right now it's a free Urban Decay eye shadow. Plus, the cashier who's trying to sign you up is probably being tracked by her manager to see how many memberships she can close before her shift is over. It's free. It doesn't hurt you. Help a sister out; sign up.

"Can you do my makeup?"
No, not your whole face. I'd love to; trust me, I think it'd be fun, but we just don't have the time to devote to making over every guest. We'll spend as much time as we can with you while you have questions about product; we'll show you our favorites and items we think will best suit your needs. We'll of course do a color match to make sure you're getting the right foundation or give you a disposable wand so you can try on a lip color to see if you like it. If you want a more involved experience, though, that is a paid service offered through the salon.

"Do you work on commission?"
No. We personally don't make any cut of what we sell, but Ulta as a company does encourage the bulk of our net sales come from prestige brands. So yeah to be honest, we'll push you to buy the higher-end brands, but give us a realistic price range and we'll hook you up with some L'Oreal or NYX. Either way, that doesn't affect our take-home pay.

"Do you get a lot of free stuff?"
This is a good question to end on, because it's what most people want to know. This is another "yes and no" type of question. Personally, as a beauty advisor, I don't get a ton of freebies, but about once per quarter I'll get to take home some gratis, which is the fancy way of saying "free stuff." That's the company's way of letting us try items we can then recommend to guests. Because our 25% discount on product only goes so far; we can't buy up the whole store. That said, the amount of gratis an employee receives depends on their title. Prestige beauty advisors (the girls who stay in the high-end side or represent a certain brand) attend frequent trainings to best demonstrate and sell products. These trainings often, if not always, dish out a good amount of gratis. Management also attends these trainings, as well as regional and national conferences. From what I've heard and seen first-hand, this gratis is out of control. It's also just part of being a full-time Ulta employee.

And that's it, guys! If after reading this you have any other questions, go ahead and leave a comment or tweet me @laurenmsauer. I could talk about this stuff for days if you'd let me, but for now I gotta go.

See you tomorrow,

*makeup-code for amount/severity of makeup

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Blogmas Day 18: Things That Are Good

Hey, guys! I'm coming to you live from my bed, yet again, where I slept in until an ungodly hour and then proceeded to watch old music videos from the early 2000s until I ran out of JoJo hit singles. That is winter break in a nutshell. I'm afraid that during this part of Blogmas things always tend to slow down a bit, as I spend most of my days hanging around my parents' house and praying I don't run into anyone I know when I go to Target.  Not exactly blog-worthy material. So instead of giving you a boring play-by-play of my day (I wrapped Christmas gifts then went to the dollar store, where I was accosted by a 16-year-old cashier) I thought instead I'd just gift upon you Things That Are Good. It's a definitive, incredibly important list, hence the capitalization. The hope here is either you're in a good mood and want to continue the happy spirits, or you could use a little boost. That or you're like me and want to kill some time going down an internet wormhole. Any and all reasons are valid.

Things That Are Good

1) Drag Queen Makeup Tutorials

I think this is because I've been watching so much RuPaul's Drag Race and I've always been a fan of makeup tutorials. This is the happy marriage of those two, and it will occupy you for hours. This is a personal favorite:

2) This performance of Beyonce's "Daddy Lessons" featuring the Dixie Chicks

This is a childhood dream come true. As someone who was raised on the Dixie Chicks and was Affectedby Lemonade, this performance gave me chills. Their soundcheck is on Spotify for your listening pleasure, because trust me, after watching this you can't not hear it again. When they break into the bridge of the Dixie Chicks' song "Long Time Gone," I get teary-eyed. Every. Damn. Time. I'm not 100% sure why, but just go with it.

3) Gavin from Vine

I dunno man, some guy got the idea to start posting pictures and videos of his nephew Gavin all over the internet, and it never fails to make me laugh. Toddlerhood in small doses is beyond adorable and too pure for this world.

4) Calligraphy gifs

There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good brush stroke.

5) Neopets Games

When's the last time you played Meerca Chase or Faerie Bubbles? It's been too long, I can tell you that. The charm of Neopets is the website is still up and running and looks identical to how you remember it. Plus you don't even need to have a Neopets account to play the games, unless you miraculously remember your password from the early 2000s. In which case, you should probably feed your Kacheek, it must be on the verge of dying after a decade of neglect. But before you do that: 

Well, guys, that's about it. Let's pretend like all that collective time I've spent dawdling about online was all research for this post. What can I say, I take my job very seriously.

See you tomorrow,

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Blogmas Day 17: Mexican Food to Soothe the Wounds

Hello, everybody! I'm back from my little hiatus from yesterday; though technically I blogged, it was a total cop-out and barely counts as a post. But as the title read: "It happens." I wrote those two measly sentences at 11:40 pm in a bar somewhere in Downtown Annapolis with a plastic straw delivering a steady flow of gin and tonic to my mouth. I want you to picture me, wearing a lace-up top and a full face of makeup, furrowing my brow and screaming about needing to post Blogmas before midnight. Some girls get a little drunk and text their exes, some get a little drunk and start blogging at the bar. Call me Carrie Bradshaw.

Anyway, the reason I willingly crossed state lines was to hang out with two of my friends from work, who have since graduated and gotten big girl jobs. When we all went to the same university and worked in the same office, hanging out was something we took for granted. Now we all live thirty minutes to an hour away from each other, making the planning of our evening a tad bit stressful. It required a three-way call, which felt very 2008. But once we settled the details and two of us packed overnight bags and made moves to Maryland, things fell into place. Because of the distance between us (and a little bit because we're all obsessed with each other) the night ended with a sleepover that extended well into the next day. We didn't get in the car to go home until we had watched a solid two hours of Fuller House, which only added to that nostalgic factor that sleepovers always bring with them. Even if they're sleepovers out of necessity that end with slept-in mascara. We had a fun--albeit freezing--night out, starting a small collection of stamps on the back of our right hands that still haven't totally washed off.

The entire ordeal was bookended by delicious Mexican food that my checking account is paying for at the present moment. Dinner on Friday night to soak up the alcohol we'd be drinking later, lunch on Saturday afternoon to submerge our hungover insides in grease and sour cream. Which is a large part of the reason why I'm lying in bed with a bad bout of acid reflux and a desire to curl up into a ball and promise to start treating my body less like Legends of the Hidden Temple and more like, y' actual temple.

That said, I would give any amount of expensive bar tabs and hangovers for any time spent with good friends, especially those I don't get to see too often. That's one of the best parts of the holidays. It's a nice reminder that there are so many people in your life to love who love you right on back.

But on that note, with midnight quickly approaching, it's off to bed for me. If I had to guess, I won't be emerging from under these sheets for the next little while.

See you tomorrow,

Friday, December 16, 2016

Blogmas Day 16: It happens

Every year at least once during Blogmas, I post a cop-out "sorry I'm living my life, but technically this is a post!" post. This is this that post for this year.

Sorry I'm living my life, but technically this is a post!

See you tomorrow,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Blogmas Day 15: Sweet Relief and a Babe Alert

This is the latest Blogmas post yet this year! A new milestone! It's also the first Blogmas post of the year to come to you live from my parents' house, which means it's officially winter break. I don't think it's really sunk in yet that I'm completely finished and devoid of academic obligations for three weeks; that's probably because I spent every second down to the wire studying and getting last-minute things together. I packed for my three week stint at home in about an hour this morning, in between cups of coffee and bites of a granola bar. This is a tell-tale sign that I've forgotten at least one major necessity. I guess only time will tell on that one, but at the very least I know I packed enough underwear and tampons to last me. Jury's out on if I have enough clothes to wear, but I do vaguely remember packing two party dresses and at least one pair of jeans, so we'll make do.

Now that I'm home and my exams and projects have been finished--a milestone that felt so far away even three days ago--it's time to breathe a sigh of relief. That is, it would be time for any normal person to breathe a sigh of relief. For me, a neurotic, it's time to focus the attention I was spending on school on frivolous and largely unimportant ventures. I've become someone who craves a schedule and expects a certain level of hustle and bustle, and as a result I don't do "relaxed" very well. I have to be hyper-focused on something at all times, whether it's memorizing court cases for a law exam or watching drag queen makeup tutorials 75 times in a row.

In that vein, tonight's chore has been tearing apart my parents' house in search of this great liquid lipstick that I could've sworn I left here a month or two ago when I was visiting for a weekend. I've torn through my bedroom, my purse, my spare purse, my second and third spare purses, my mom's get the picture. I can't find it anywhere. The lipstick in question is one of Smashbox's Always On liquid formulas in the color Babe Alert, this perfect mauve-y coral that I only got to wear one or twice. I've been thinking about it ever since and will not stop until I have it back in my possession. This might seem like a waste of effort (mostly because it is) but just know that it's a very flattering and fairly expensive item; I'm not too jazzed on the idea of buying another one. Plus, this is just the type of high-stakes pursuit I need during my break. I've given up my search for the evening, but typing this is riling me back up and making me want to start searching again. But I'll hold off for now so at least I'll have a way to keep myself occupied tomorrow. Plus tomorrow I have to brave the local mall to make a return and finalize some Christmas shopping, so there will be plenty of tasks to keep me busy. But consider this my official call to commence the Babe Alert Search Party. Operators are standing by; please contact us with any and all information. No tip is too small.

Consider this the official milk carton poster. Also consider this a reminder to follow me on Twitter.

I'll see you guys tomorrow, at which point hopefully I will have gained some level of chill. That or found my lipstick. I really hope it's the latter, but neither is looking too promising at the moment.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Blogmas Day 14: Peeved

Y'know what, guys? I'm peeved. Annoyed, disgruntled, pissed, angry...whatever you want to call it. Personally I like "peeved." And I'll tell you why I'm peeved. I have an exam tomorrow that I am 0% prepared for, but it's not for lack of trying. It's one of those exams where you're just tested on memorized information (in this instance, laws and court cases), so you just gotta sit down and drill yourself for hours. I've been in this local coffee shop for almost two hours, attempting to drill away, and nothing. Because while normally studying in a little coffee shop or cafe works out well, with just the perfect amount of stimulation, everything that could be going wrong is.

First of all, there's no wifi. It's amazing how distracting that is. Because even though I have all my notes written on paper, knowing I can't look up a vocab term or access Quizlet is infuriating. I've spent most of my time troubleshooting the issue, jealous of the people around me using their access to surf Facebook. Look, I'm not saying I need to use the internet for more important reasons, but let's be real: I need to use the internet for more important reasons. It's not fair. You might be wondering how I'm even posting this if there's no wifi, and to that I say: personal hotspot. To that I also say: sorry, Mom. I'll pay for the data overage; I'm desperate here.

Then there's the people. Ugh, the people. Shuffling in and out with their loud conversations and their laughter and their annoying, annoying, annoying habits at decibels far above what is appropriate for a coffee shop at four in the afternoon. When I walked in, it was just other people in front of their laptops working or studying silently, but since then citizens who are more than welcome to participate in this free market and the consumption of goods have the right to come in here?! I mean, what's that about? Coming into a coffee shop with your friend and ordering coffee, then having the audacity to sit and have a pleasant conversation, right in my ear? I can't believe the nerve of some people these days. And if it's not bad enough, the people who are coming in here are having first dates and Bible study. How dare they attempt to make romantic connections or find solace with Jesus while I'm over here trying to learn about the sixth amendment?

And then there's the music. The music. I come into this hipster indie coffeeshop to drink my $4.50 latte, not to listen to hipster indie music. And at this volume. Okay, you can barely hear it, but I still can't deal with it. Listening to the repetitive, whiny hum of "Skinny Love" is bad enough when it's at a volume louder than mute, must we really turn it up any more than that? Or at least change the words to "And I TOLD you to be silent, and I TOLD you to be mute" as a form of subliminal messaging for these people exchanging pleasantries? I mean for fuck's sake, it's finals week.

Now on top of all of that, if you couldn't already tell by the irrational, ranty (largely satirical) nature of today's post, I'm PMS-ing. It's like my body thought to itself "When would it be the worst possible time to make Lauren crave sugar, break out on her chin, bloat, and cry at the drop of a hat? Oh, when she has a huge exam? Okay let's do it then. That'll be fun!" So here I am: PMS-ing like a monster in the middle of this cute, pleasant coffeeshop, ready to ragequit Blogspot at any given moment. It seems like a bit of cosmic irony that there's a framed poster hanging on the wall next to me that reads "Work Hard and Be Nice to People," because while that's a wonderful sentiment, at the present moment I can't think of two things I'm less capable of doing. Plus, one of the girls participating in this Bible study to my left just said, "I mean, even if you're a feminist, you have to admit that women, by nature, are just more submissive!" So I think now would be a good time to change my study venue. Or bang my head into a wall. Either or.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blogmas Day 13: Mental Health Survival Guide

Hey, everyone! In these first two weeks of Blogmas, I've noticed that I'm quite prone to list-making. Of the thirteen posts that have gone up this month, five of them involve lists of some sort. I think I like lists because they do the organized part of my brain good, while offering a cheap and easy way to structure these posts. I would love to say that today is going to be different, but seeing as it's finals week for many of you and the holidays are just stressful in general, another list is in order. Today's list topic: Ways to Cope on a Bad Mental Health Day.

Whether you're having a random off day, you're hormonal, or you've actually been diagnosed with a mental disorder of some sort, we all have our bouts of bad mental health. This can be the result of hormonal changes, stress, the changing of the seasons, or just a bad night's sleep; regardless of why it's happening, it sucks. You feel like you're the only person in the world feeling how you're feeling, potentially the only person ever to feel this way, even though logically you know that's not true. And while it might seem like a good idea to bing-eat chicken nuggets and cry watching an old Disney movie (trust me, been there), it's not the answer. Maybe the nugs and Mickey Mouse feel good in the moment, but here are some surefire ways to cope. Notice I didn't say surefire ways to heal or fix your bad mental health days, but they'll put you on the right track.

Five Ways to Cope on a Bad Mental Health Day

1. Do something productive
When I'm feeling down, often it's either caused or accompanied by hopelessness. When I feel sad, my inner monologue says "You have always been sad, you will always be sad, there's no end to the sadness in sight." And, like I said above, logically I know that's not true, but a bad mental health day knows nothing of logic. Bad mental health days thrive on the illogical. That's why doing something productive helps. It's not always a huge item on the to-do list, (because when you're feeling really bummy, "Write 10-page paper in one sitting" doesn't exactly jingle your bells) but it's something that needs to get done. Preferably something that gets you out of the house and into the world. It can be as easy as getting the mail or running to the store for a carton of eggs. For some reason, as soon as you get up and do one menial task, you'd be surprised how those endorphins will start acting up and patting you on the back. Suddenly, you want to stop for a cup of coffee on the way home from the store, and suddenly you've killed thirty minutes and you have a latte. That's thirty fewer minutes being bummy, plus a shot of espresso. 

2. Put something nurturing and enjoyable into your morning routine
On those days when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, if time permits, do an extra something good for your mind and body that you enjoy and don't normally have time to do. There's two key components here: 1) Good for you and 2) You enjoy. You have to find what that balance is for you. If you love cooking, take the time to make yourself a nice breakfast that's more involved than your normal milk and cereal. If you love meditating, give yourself five extra minutes of deep breathing. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, do that. For me, on bummy days, I enjoy taking extra care in my grooming routine. Generally, I love putting on makeup and making myself look pulled together, so if I'm feeling gross, I'll put on music I like and really take my time with the beautification process. For a lot of people I know, applying anything more than Chapstick sounds like torture, so that wouldn't work for them; point is, you have to find your thing.

3. Wear an outfit with buttons and/or zippers
This one is pretty straightforward. On bad mental health days, I know how tempting it can be to pull on a T-shirt and pants with an elastic waist. Avoid the temptation. You don't have to pull out all the stops, but wearing an outfit that requires even menial effort will make you feel a little more pulled together, which will give your confidence a little boost. Because let's be real, though you may technically feel comfortable, no one feels their best wearing sweats to work. 

4. Pack a bag
I keep on me, at all times, a little makeup bag that has in it everything I could possibly need in the event of a mild inconvenience or a full-blown emergency. It's comforting to know I have this, because it takes a lot of the guesswork and anxiety out of my normal routine, on even my best of days. Therefore, having it on bad days is essential. It's a huge relief to know that even though I'm not feeling my best, I have at my disposal: 1) lip balm 2) a lipstick that goes with everything 3) headphones 4) a compact mirror 5) hand lotion 6) roll-on perfume 7) cough drops 8) bobby pins 9) a hair elastic 10) a tampon 11) a prescription bottle of Xanax 12) bandages and 13) a vitamin-C supplement packet. Some of these items might seem silly or unnecessary to some of you, but I've found myself without each and every one of these items when I needed or wanted them, and trust me the outcome was stressful. Plus, keeping them all in one compact bag is part of the magic, because it makes transporting everything easy. Going to school? Slip the emergency pack in your backpack. Have an interview? Slip the emergency pack in your purse. Traveling? The emergency pack goes in your carry-on. You get the picture: it takes the guesswork out of day-to-day packing and gives you total peace of mind.

5. My old trusty trifecta
My last piece of advice is my most crucial. I've found that, above all else, there are really only three things you need on a bad mental health day. They might not totally fix it, but they will always make the situation a little better. Those three things are, in no particular order: Water, Shower, Nap. If you're feeling sad or overwhelmed or stressed or whatever, ask yourself: Am I thirsty? Am I clean? Am I tired? Often the answer to at least one, if not all, of these questions is no. And sometimes even if the answer is "yes," you should take the extra precaution anyway. It can't hurt to have another glass of water or a quick rinse in the shower or a twenty-minute power nap. Trust me, with this trifecta you cannot fail.

That's about it for me tonight, guys. I hope you all had a good day (and listened to some Taylor Swift, because it is her birthday after all!) and are settling into a good week.

See you tomorrow,

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blogmas Day 12: I Didn't Get Cookout

Good afternoon, everyone. Today's post is coming to you from a relatively unknown lab on campus, where only four students other than myself are working on final projects. Scratch that--two more kids just walked in. Six students total. Point is I'm in a relatively quiet room killing time before I meet up with my video journalism group members to finish up our last ever video package. Hence the blog.

Since we last spoke, I've finalized my last ever collegiate creative writing portfolio, gone out to dinner with my roommate and her family, developed an intense craving for a Cookout milkshake, then ended up not getting said Cookout milkshake. Sounds riveting, does it not?

Anyway, last night once I finished those last few edits on my portfolio around 10:30, I developed a craving for a sugary, heavy, completely gross Cookout milkshake, with fries and a side of mayonnaise. If you don't live near a Cookout, or if you're health-conscious, you can't fully comprehend how delicious and disgusting the menu is. Milkshakes so thick you have no choice but to eat it with a spoon. Styrofoam to-go trays full of grease, where you can order a cheeseburger, corndog, and hush puppies for five dollars. It's madness: A vegan's absolute nightmare; a cesspool of lactose that would make a dietician quake. But I'm not a vegan and I'm not a dietician: I'm a twenty-one-year-old with finals and PMS.

I took to Twitter (because that's a valuable data-collection resource) to announce my plan, but here's an exclusive secret just for you guys: I didn't get Cookout. Scandalous. Salacious. And here's why: I didn't want to go alone. That's so odd and unlike me, because normally I'm fine doing things by myself, keeping myself company, and generally being my own "ride or die." But something came over me. I couldn't go to Cookout alone. You don't go pig out on gross fatty foods under the weird mystified feeling of 11 pm alone. There's something, in my mind, inherently pathetic about doing that by yourself. I've gone alone before, but that was before the hour of 8 pm, when I was picking up food to bring to friends or because my cupboards were empty and I needed a cheap, easy dinner. But anytime I've gone to Cookout late at night to treat myself to a milkshake and fries, I've never gone alone.

I don't know...maybe it was good I didn't go, because I saved money and calories from fat. But also maybe this points to some weird complex I never knew I had before where the thought to performing totally mundane (albeit trashy) tasks by myself almost brings me to the point of an anxiety attack. Point is I didn't get Cookout. Maybe another time.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blogmas Day 11: TV Shows that Need a Revival

Good afternoon, everybody! I'm coming to you from my kitchen table, where I'm in-between edits for my final writing portfolio and at that sweet spot where my food:coffee ratio is enough to make me that perfect amount of jittery. I thought I'd take a break to come hang out with you guys and talk about something that's been on my mind for a while now: TV Revivals.

I'm not sure what it is about this year, but there have been so many revivals of old TV shows and movies. I think it's fun to see old favorite characters placed in our modern times after they've been left to collect dust for far too long. Seeing DJ and Stephanie Tanner use the word "fleek" or seeing Rory and Lorelai Gilmore on their iPhones is equal parts heartwarming and disconcerting, but I don't think our TV execs are dreaming big enough. With the ability to stream content and the millennial generation all grown up and ready to paw at any and all re-imaginations of our old faves, we need more revivals. Someone go drag Matt LeBlanc and the old Disney supporting casts out of obscurity, because we have work to do.

5 TV Shows that Need a Revival, Now.

1) Friends

There are so many questions left unanswered that need to be addressed. Did Joey ever get another chance at stardom post-Days of our Lives? Did raising twins drive Monica officially crazy, forcing her to finally get a Xanax prescription? Most importantly: how long did it take for Rachel to realize her decision to not pursue her dream job in Paris just to be with Ross was a huge mistake? Did Ross ever realize manipulating Rachel's feelings by even suggesting she stay behind was a total dick move? Inquiring minds need to know.

2) Lizzie McGuire

As a child of Disney's golden age (aka the early 2000s), I lived for Lizzie McGuire. Her crazy middle school antics kept me tuning in day after day, even if it was an episode I had already seen fifty times prior. I would watch Lizzie's revival on any cable network or streaming platform, because I simply need to know how the rest of her life panned out. She was such a young protagonist with so much potential. I mean, the movie, our last dose of the McGuire franchise, took place the summer before she went off to high school! Picture yourself tuning in to see Lizzie's antics as a fashion editor for a magazine (I mean, she was so ahead of her time with those butterfly clips and bedazzled jeans, can you picture her doing anything else?) trying to figure it all out. And yes, part of this requires a new intro that features the whole cast in front of a green screen playing with kickballs of various sizes. No questions asked.

3) Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide

Another favorite of my youth and another show set in a fictional middle school where no one has acne and is actually sixteen. But the tips, admittedly, were helpful! Okay, some of them reached a little too far for the sake of that slapstick comedy we loved as kids, but I need a revival that is centered around the advice I need now. Call it Ned's Declassified Adulting Survival Guide. Potential episode titles: "Ned's Guide to Paying Your Taxes", "Ned's Guide to Setting up a 401k", "Ned's Guide to Establishing a Real Human Connection in the Digital World." Nickelodeon, call me. We'll set up a meeting.

4) 30 Rock

Mindy Kaling once tweeted about current phenomena she'd like to see The Office's Michael Scott's reaction to, and while I agree with that sentiment, I'd rather see Liz Lemon's take. As a mother and TV executive, how does Liz feel about the feud between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry? What's her take on Instagram? How many times can she say "BLERGH" in response to Donald Trump, and how many pieces of Hillary merchandise do you think she owns? Add in the colorful cast of characters and the opportunity to create poignant and intentional dialogue about our current state of affairs and I'm sold. There's even opportunities to expand into an album, a feature film, and a Broadway musical. Total EGOT material.

5) Sex and the City

Every few months a rumor resurfaces about the potential for a third SatC film, and every few months I'm left disappointed. As a young woman that has on many occasions stated that I want a career and life like Carrie Bradshaw's, I need to see where her, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda are now. The first movie shows Carrie's slow, reluctant use of her first iPhone, but now I imagine she's promoting her online column via Snapchat. Because she's smart and married to a financial heavyweight who can predict business trends, of course her empire has moved digital. The rest of the girls have made strides in that direction as well. Potential dialogue include Samantha saying "I'd be happy to blow you; I take cash or Venmo" and Charlotte decreeing "Tinder is ruining the dating world! I'm so glad Harry and I met the old fashion way, much less...skeezy," to which Miranda would chime in with a cutting, "Oh yeah, because having sex with your divorce attorney is exactly how Grace Kelly met her Prince of Monaco."

And there you have it. Limiting this list to five was far too difficult; just know this is only the tip of the iceberg. Tell your TV exec friends to drop me a line if they want to go into business, I already have five separate pilots drafted.

See you tomorrow,

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Blogmas Day 10: It's that kinda night

It was a freezing cold day full of bagels, coffee, video editing, dress shopping, and not nearly enough downtime.

It's the last Saturday night of the semester, and though many are spending it in various states of drunkenness, I have a monster writing portfolio due on Monday I haven't even thought of starting, and adding a hangover to tomorrow's all-day laboring sounds like a lethal combination.

That, and I just bought a new hooded blanket, I'm halfway through season five of Gilmore Girls, and I really want to take a long, hot shower.

Don't get me wrong, Blogmas, I love you, but it's that kinda night. Trust me, we'll both be better off if we take this time apart.

See you tomorrow,

Friday, December 9, 2016

Blogmas Day 9: Project for Awesome Inspired

Ahh, here we are: blogging late at night yet again. I told you we'd get back around to doing this. I'm writing this in a moment of what can only be described as mild panic, as I've just looked at the clock and realized, though I've reminded myself to blog multiple times throughout the day, I had yet to do so. Now here we are at 9:40 on a Friday night, in-between episodes of Gilmore Girls and editing my writing portfolio.

Anyway, today is an important day in new media history. For the 10th year in a row, John and Hank Green (known to the internet community as the vlogbrothers) are in charge of Project for Awesome, an annual virtual fundraising effort. The event itself has changed in logistics and scale over the years to respond to growing media and the way online video plays a part in our lives, but it's the same basic formula through and through. Basically, the Green brothers and those who are a part of their community create videos promoting their favorite charities in order to raise awareness and (most importantly) money. They've raised staggering amounts over the past decade, and it's overall an incredibly inspiring ordeal. So in honor of that, today's blog post is going to be all about ways you can make a difference if you don't have a large sum of money to donate to charity. Because don't get me wrong, monetary donations are great, but that's not always doable. Especially for those of us who are younger or don't have a salary to depend on.

1) Clean out your cupboards
Throughout the year, but especially during the holidays and the colder months, local soup kitchens and food drives are looking for donations of non-perishable goods to give to impoverished community members. You'd be surprised how many of the items they request are hiding in your cupboards and under your sinks! Find a local goods pantry and see what they're in need of: canned food, bars of soap, and paper products are just a few examples of items in high demand that you probably have lying around. So toss all of those cans of cream of mushroom soup and cling peaches in a box and take them somewhere they'll actually be eaten. If your community doesn't have a nearby pantry, many schools and offices will have communal deposit boxes this time of year, which takes the commute out the equation for you. Plus, it's an ethical way to declutter.

2) Walk a dog
Earlier today I went and filmed dogs and cats at the local SPCA for my video journalism course. While there, we saw many volunteers coming in to exercise and feed the animals. This is good for the restless animals that are kept in cages for most of the day, and is good for the people hanging out with them, too. Going outside for a walk is a great way to clear your head and get moving in the winter, and puppy kisses only make those rewards sweeter. You'll be doing good for your mind, body, and for local animals. What a win-win-win situation.

3) Shop consciously
Okay, technically this one does require spending money, but it's money you're already planning on spending. When shopping for loved ones this holiday season, bear in mind all of the ethical and fair-trade brands that are out there. So many gift shops give job opportunities and a portion of proceeds to tradesmen and women all over the world, whether they are survivors of assault, live in impoverished nations, or are drastically effected by the gender wage gap. This connects our global market and gives individuals independence and livelihood as small business owners. Plus, their products are high-quality and make great gifts with an even better story attached. My favorites include Punjammies, The Little Market, and (a local fave) New Creation.

4) Let your lifestyle change create a domino effect of good
Those of us living in more privileged environments have the opportunity to change our lifestyles without much thought. We can throw away old clothes, try out new gadgets, or change our diets without thinking about a longterm financial impact. This is a good and bad thing. The good thing is it means we are able to advance technology, help the environment, and continue the flow of commerce. The bad thing is it can create wasteful behaviors. But it doesn't have to! If you've made a lifestyle change recently, think about how your leftovers can be donated or repurposed. Just lost a bunch of weight? Donate your now too-big clothes, as long as they are no more than gently worn. Just switched to the Diva Cup? Donate your leftover sanitary pads and tampons to a women's shelter; one of the number one requests from impoverished women is donations of feminine hygiene products, as 38 of our 50 states consider them "luxury goods" (and therefore cannot be purchased with food stamps). Are you now a vegan or gluten-free? Donate your inedibles. You get the picture. Don't just let remnants of your old life collect dust when they could instead be helping others.

5) Ask for donations for the holidays
Trust me, I know how fun it is to get gifts during the holidays, but don't pretend like you have never received a gift you didn't need from a well-intended distant relative. It's totally fine to partake in the giving and receiving part of the holidays (more than fine: FUN!), but next time your mom says, "Your great-aunt Felicity wants to know what you want for Christmas" come up with a gift that is ethically sourced (see idea #3) or the name of a charity you'd like them to donate to on your behalf. Nothing screams holiday cheer like knowing you helped others and avoided yet another unnecessary stationary set in the process.

And there you have it! If you'd like to know more about Project for Awesome, watch this video. Otherwise, I'd love to know if you have any other ideas for ways you can do good this holiday season.

I'll see you tomorrow,

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Blogmas Day 8: One Month Since the Election

Good morning, everyone! I know yesterday I alluded to the fact that I might very well start posting Blogmas later and later as the month progresses, but I guess I like contradicting myself, because this post comes to you live from 10:30 am in the library. I've been up since 7 because I had an interview at 8:45 (nothing exciting or worth noting, just a girl in an introductory journalism class who wanted to write an expose on the Ireland study abroad trip I did over the summer) that wasn't nearly as long as anticipated. Add that to the fact that my professor cancelled class yet again, giving me a large chunk of my morning to get ahead on work. And hey, I'm not complaining, but I do wish I had known all of this earlier so I could maybe devote the extra time to some more sleep. But the good news is there's always more than enough coffee at my fingertips to keep me going, and today's post has been one that I've wanted to publish since Blogmas started.

The title is very self-explanatory. It's been, to the day, one month since the presidential election, and every day since then I've been living in a state of mild panic. I've kept my thoughts to myself for the most part, give or take a few tweets, letting the dust and hysteria settle. But hey, here's the fact of the matter: it's been one month since Donald Trump has become our President-elect (and only one day since he was named Time's Person of the Year), and I have something to say.

My election night looked a lot like the SNL skit, except for the fact that I wasn't at a viewing party with friends, but rather in bed constantly refreshing Twitter and the CNN app. Still though, I was hopeful to almost a concerning degree. I was well under the impression that Hillary Clinton would be elected as our country's first female president, and I was so ready to celebrate and rub my liberal point of view in my relatives' faces. Then the swing states started swinging red and Florida started to look like an awful appendage dangling off the edge of the country that maybe we didn't need? Somewhere around 11:30 I fell asleep in front of my laptop screen, with Trump pulling ahead by about fifty electoral votes. I don't know how my nerves didn't keep me awake, I don't know how I drifted off, but next thing I know I came to and my clock read 3 am. Of course the first thing I did was Google "US election results" (say what you want about the dooms of technology, but let's not act like that's not convenient) and saw that little checkmark and the word "winner" not where I expected it.

It was the most peculiar feeling; I had never felt so alone and isolated. Because it was the middle of the night, the irrational, optimistic part of me wanted to believe I was having a nightmare. I would actually wake in the morning to the results I wanted. Not even the results I wanted, but the results I had come to expect.

I blame part of that on the college bubble. Being on a campus of 20,000 students, it's very easy to assume the majority of the population leans liberal. It's easy to assume post-grad debt, gun control, and equal rights are concerns held by the common man. They're not. I'm not saying the conservative population is bad or wrong or evil, because their beliefs are rooted in family and personal values. Their version of the truth is--as much as I hate to admit it--valid, even if it looks different than mine. And I know that for many, Donald Trump seemed to be the best option, but I also can't help but wonder what went wrong.

A president fueled by fear-mongering and hatred is not a president I want. A government worried about giving everyone a gun but God forbid a marriage license is not a place where I feel safe. A nation that will conduct foreign affairs alongside our prejudices and harsh stereotypes does not fit into the global framework I believe in. And I know it sounds selfish: I want, I feel safe, I believe in, but I know I'm not just speaking for myself.

Shortly after the election, when I was home for Thanksgiving break, my stepfather asked me how I felt about the results. For him, this is "the change America needs," but for me it feels just the opposite. Though I knew he wouldn't take me seriously, I said I felt scared. He made a joke asking me if I needed a safe space, and I tried my best not to get haughty or dramatic. He then asked me what he thought was a simple question: "Are you open to change?"

In response to that, I guess I have to ask what kind of change. Am I open to sexual assault becoming even more normalized than it already is, because we're just following our president's example? No. Am I open to the forceful deportation and separation of immigrant families? No. Am I open to living in fear that as a woman I won't have access to affordable and judgment-free healthcare? No. I'm not open to any of that. I know he meant "am I open to Trump actually making positive change?" and I guess in a weird, twisted world I can't say I'm not, but I'm also wildly skeptical and worried about what's got to give to make any progress he deems necessary.

So in short, I haven't really drawn any conclusions. I don't know a whole lot, and I won't until Trump's inauguration, but I do know this: the morning after the results were announced, the air felt stale. It felt like someone died. It felt like no matter what you do as a smart, accomplished woman, there's still a chance it won't be good enough. It felt like we're looking at four years of anger. It felt like the white boys who walk around campus wearing salmon quarter-zips and boat shoes are the only ones who will really benefit, and when's the last time anyone said "let's try giving the rich white guy a chance"?

I know this sounds preachy, and that's because it kind of is, but just know that it's been a month and I'm still not done fighting. I'm still not done being upset, and I don't know if I ever will be. But I won't behave like a child, just whining on my blog and across social media about how life isn't fair. I'm talking about my beliefs. I'm raising the questions that are hard to address. I'm donating to Planned Parenthood whatever I can, because I believe it's important. I don't know what else I can say, because I could rant and rave for much longer than you'd care to read, but I guess I'll leave you with this: I'm still with her, our first female president. I really, really wanted "her" to be Hillary Clinton, but I'm excited to see whoever she ends up being.

I'll see you tomorrow,

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blogmas Day 7: Overindulgent

Hi, guys! I can't believe it's 10:30; I guess it's that part of Blogmas where posts just start going up later and later in the day. In a few days I'm sure I'll be rushing to hit that publish button by midnight.

Part of that has to do with what I want to talk about today, which is the idea of being overindulgent. I feel like as of late, I've been "treating myself" way too much, and not in a good way. I'm all for self-care and doing what I need to do to keep my mind and body healthy, but that's not what I'm doing here. I'm allowing myself "one more episode" when I should be sleeping, "one more" cup of coffee when I've already had three, "one more" swipe of my debit card when I know my account balance is hurting a little. I give myself naps and fast food and second (then third and fourth) chances to get it together.

It's a relatively new phenomenon, because I'm usually super hard on myself, but lately I've just been allowing myself all the simple pleasures in life. Part of me thinks that's not necessarily a bad thing every once in a while, but a larger voice in my head is bellowing "Cut it out!" Maybe it has something to do with the weather or the stress I'm under this time of year, but maybe that's just another excuse I'm handing myself.

A great, also terrible, example of this happened tonight at dinner. I woke from a nap I didn't mean to take (surprise, surprise) and realized I was starving. By that time, it was 8:30, and with a messy kitchen and only pasta in my pantry, I knew cooking wasn't happening tonight. What I should've done was drive around the corner to the Food Lion and buy a ready-made meal, like a salad or a microwave dinner. That would save money and wouldn't leave me moaning and groaning after the fact. But of course, wanting to "treat myself to something special," I decided instead to drive to McDonald's. To be completely honest, I don't visit the golden arches too often. The last time I ate McDonald's was two months ago when a friend and I walked a mile there from a party that wasn't holding our attention. But I digress: point is, McDonald's and I don't hang out too often, but tonight was a rare exception.

Ordering a chicken mcnugget meal (and, frankly, not caring about what actually goes into the process of making them, because they taste good either way) with fries, I waited in the four-car line, smiling like an idiot when I received my greasy paper bag. I blindly snuck a few fries on the drive home, not yet totally tucking in to eat. By the time I got back to my apartment and starting pulling my food out, I realized the worker had made a mistake. I ordered one order of chicken nuggets and one medium fry. He gave me a box of twenty nuggets and two orders of fries. I couldn't decide if I had been kissed by an angel or screwed over by the devil.

In my mind, I couldn't possibly waste the food I was graciously given, but on the flip side, what human being can put away that much garbage and live to see another day? The overindulgent side of me was saying "eat it all; leave no evidence," but the rational part of me said "just eat what you ordered and chalk it up to an accident." Thankfully Rational Lauren won. The food waste part of the equation of course wasn't the most rational thing to do, but I think in this instance it was okay to throw away the scraps of fast food. This doesn't mean I've cured my overindulgence, but it means I at least have some standards.

But the good news is, Blogmas is also helping with that! I feel like even if I was shouting into the void and no one was reading this, it'd still be helpful to have this routine. Thankfully, though, there are people out there waiting for these daily updates, and to you I owe so much. Thanks for keeping me accountable and being there when I want nothing more but to let myself crawl into bed early or procrastinate with a late-night drive thru run.

See you tomorrow,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Blogmas Day 6: Regarding Time

Good evening, everybody! Today was a cold, rainy day, the kind that makes hair frizz and fingertips freeze. The type of day that turns campus into a parade of umbrellas with a bad mood permeating the air. If there was ever a day to throw your hands up and forget pleasantries and effort, it would be today. But here's the thing: no matter how gross the day is, outside or in our heads, there are a few things that shouldn't change, regardless of time.

Being on a university as final exams loom closer and closer, I keep hearing stressed-out students and professors claiming they "don't have time" for certain things or that there needs to be more hours in the day. There's "no time" to be polite or see your friends, yet somehow time can be made to binge watch Stranger Things when we should be doing homework. Yeah, I see you. The concept of time and obligation always is an interesting one, if you ask me, because really we have the same number of hours in a day as world leaders and change makers. It might sound cheesy, but we choose what we do and don't have time for.

Things You Don't Have Time For
You don't have time to listen to the naysayers.
You don't have time to date someone who isn't a feminist, or at the very least understands why feminism is important.
You don't have time to wish you loved people more while they were around.
You don't have time to leave a nasty hate comment online.
You don't have time to doubt yourself.

-on the contrary-

Things You Will Always Have Time For
You will always have time to say "thank you" to the cashier at the coffee shop.
You will always have time to acknowledge the driver who waits for you to cross the road.
You will always have time to check in with your loved ones, even if it's a quick text message saying "Hi, love you".
You will always have time to grab a piece of fruit or a granola bar on your way out the door.
You will always have time to tell that girl you like her shoes.
You will always have time for courtesy, kindness, and compassion. I'm tired of hearing otherwise.

I know it's all very cute and simply put when written out like this, but timing is a funny thing. Once we start prioritizing, a lot of our wants and needs become very clear in one way or the other. As for everything else, I guess that's up for interpretation.

Just some late night Tuesday thoughts. I hope you're doing well.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Blogmas Day 5: Embarrassing Things I've Done Recently

Happy Monday, everybody! I hope you're all having good starts to your week. For some reason, there's something I love about Mondays; I feel like it's a chance to start fresh again and start the week off right. I also don't have class on Mondays so I generally get to sleep in as late as I want on these days, which definitely sways my opinion. But I do usually use Mondays to get my ducks in a row, so to speak, with a lengthy to-do list and plenty of coffee. Right now I'm in-between loads of laundry, which seems like the perfect time to type up today's post.

The title is super self-explanatory, but I figured I should tell you exactly why I'm voluntarily exposing some cringe-worthy secrets for all of the internet to see. There's two reasons really: for starters, I love poking fun at myself. This is a somewhat new development in the past few years, as I was terrible at being the butt of the joke when I was a kid. I hated being teased or laughing at my own shortcomings. In fact, I remember being no older than eight years old sitting at the dinner table with my parents when this less-than-stellar characteristic of mine really came to light. My stepdad was making a joke at my expense (what's new) and I wasn't taking it well (again, what's new?), even though he wasn't cutting below the belt or saying anything that crossed the line. My mom leaned across the table and said, "You know, people like other people who can laugh at themselves." That must've struck a chord with me, because in my young adult life, I couldn't agree more. When someone does something embarrassing or dumb, it's objectively very funny. Just because I'm the one doing it doesn't change that. So that's part of the reason: I have years of being a stick in the mud little kid to catch up on. Laughing at yourself every so often is healthy, plus I think it makes for entertaining reading material.

Reason number two comes from a conversation I had with some girls in my video journalism class yesterday. We were filming a news package for class and treated ourselves to coffee after a job well done. Over espresso and girly conversation, one of my project partners admitted, "Y'know, Lauren, I was scared of you when we first got paired together...don't get me wrong, I didn't think you were mean or anything, but you just seemed so cool!" Now, as someone who was never the cool girl in school, this caught me off guard. I do think I've come into my own and developed an almost deceptive amount of confidence during my time in college, but I didn't realize the "calm, cool, and collected" facade I was making up as I went along was passable to my peers. So in honor of that, here's a secret: I'm fucking neurotic and I do embarrassing things all the time. Don't be scared of me, because I promise I'm not at all cool. At all.

Now, with all of that build-up: Embarrassing Things I've Done Recently

1) A few weeks ago, I went out to a favorite bar of mine in downtown Harrisonburg. It's a favorite because the music is good, it's not too terribly crowded, and most importantly, drinks are $3 on Thursdays. Normally it's a fun time, but this particular night ended on a sour note. I don't remember why, but I was in a mood. Now, under normal circumstances, guys grabbing at me without consent makes me angry, but add alcohol and that aforementioned mood and it's not a good time for anyone. As I was leaving the bar in a huff, a particularly forward dude grabbed me around the waist. Like, full on grabbed me, with both hands, around the waist. Without breaking a stride, I forcefully slapped his hands away, feeling like a Boss Ass Bitch. It was a really empowering moment, until two seconds later, when I slipped in a puddle of spilled liquor and watched my legs fly out from under me. I caught myself on a curtain before my ass made contact with the ground, but that didn't stop bellowing laughter and a loud "That's what you get, bitch!" from behind me. Nice.

2) I was working with a different partner for the aforementioned video journalism class about a month ago, researching potential topics for our upcoming news package. We were looking on the local news affiliate's website for inspiration, noticing a story about a couple who were experiencing vandalism on and removal of their "Trump for President" yard signs. I laughed, said "Good!", and went on with a long diatribe about how awful our now President-elect is. I mean, without even asking about her political views, I ripped into President Cheeto. The next day she came into class wearing a "Trump for President" sweatshirt. No wonder she didn't chime in on my hatred.

3) After being rear-ended (long story) I went to my school's parking services office to obtain a temporary on-campus pass for the rental car I was given. Because I had a class to get to and I know from experience how hectic the parking services office can get, I made a plan to arrive bright and early, right as the office opened at 7:30. All was going well, until the friendly receptionist asked me for my student ID number to look up my account. Totally blank. No recollection. Being a college senior, I've used that number on every online database and Scantron form for four years. But absolutely nothing was coming to mind. The woman looked at me, understandably, like I was an idiot. I made a lame joke about my brain not being fully awake before 8 am as she accessed my account using my last name, but I think she only offered a half-chuckle out of sheer courtesy.

4) I was being melodramatic about God-knows-what about two months ago, which means I was sobbing listening to Taylor Swift oldies in my car. Not even driving around listening, but parked in front my apartment in the dark, dabbing my face with Chipotle napkins. This is embarrassing enough as is, but picture this: as I was sob-screaming along to "All Too Well," Taylor's most depressing song to date, my car shut off without warning. It has a built-in timer that will turn itself off after it's been parked with the engine off for a certain amount of time, but of course that happened during the height of a hysterical episode. It was if the Chevy gods were saying "Okay girl, enough."

5) Recently (as in as of last week) I've developed an affinity for Shawn Mendes. That on its own is embarrassing enough.

On that note, I'm gonna go.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Blogmas Day 4: November Favorites

One of my all time favorite guilty pleasures is binge watching beauty gurus on YouTube. There is a giant network of predominately rich, young, white girls talking to their fans how to apply makeup, dress up skinny jeans, and spend money with expertly crafted brand deals that seem totally genuine. There are a few beauty guru tropes that every who's-who in the biz has done time and time again: the "What's in my Bag?" video, the "Get Ready With Me!" video, and the "Haul" videos prominent examples. But none of these come close to the popularity of the Monthly Favorite videos. They're pretty much exactly what they sound like: the beauty guru in question gets in front of the camera and raves about products they've been loving for the past month, generally broken down into categories. For some reason, I love watching these videos, and I've always wanted to do my own. But I'm not a YouTuber--I'm a blogger--so today's post is going to be a second rate version of a favorites video, in written form. I'll link sites where you can purchase these items if you're intrigued; some of these suggestions might even make good gifts, if you're struggling to buy for that one girly girl on your list.

On with the favorites!

Beauty Products

1) Lorac Mega Pro 3 palette

Photo courtesy of Temptalia. It's an Ulta exclusive, and unfortunately it's no longer online, so call your local store ASAP if you want to get your hands on one!

This palette was love at first swatch. The dangerous thing about working at Ulta is how easy it is to sample and play with products when the store is slow, which is how I came to discover this beauty. It's a good mix of matte and shimmery colors that blend like a dream. If you're new to makeup or want to try to get into eye shadow, I recommend this guy: it has every color you need to create any look, from demure to dramatic. My favorites to dip into are "Pecan" (third from left, top row), "Maple" (third from right, second row), "Cider" (third from left, third row), and "Dark Roast" as an eyeliner (third from right, bottom row). I apologize to all my other makeup palettes, as they're not getting as much love as of late.

2) Mario Badescu Facial Spray

Photo courtesy of Purchase here!

Another purchase made after frequent use while working at Ulta. Especially this time of year, my skin has a tendency to feel dry, tight, and dull. This spray, at only seven dollars, has been a lifesaver. I've seen an improvement in the texture and overall look of my skin, and as this is the only major change I've made in my routine, I can't help but think this is why. I spray it on my face in the mornings before moisturizer, during the day to freshen up my makeup, an a heavy helping at night before sleep. I know it's working for my skin, but even if it wasn't I would keep using it solely for the calming and cooling effect it has on my face and the nice, light smell. Confession: I haven't even had the four ounce bottle for one month, and it's already half gone.

3) Kylie lip kit in "Lovebite"

Photo courtesy of Kylie Cosmetics. Purchase here!

Y'know that song that goes "I hate you, I love you, I hate that I love you"? That's how I feel about Kylie Cosmetics. Kylie Jenner is 19 and already has more money than myself and my entire immediate family will have in our lifetimes, combined. I really didn't want to give into the hype of her coveted lip kits, because I figured they couldn't possibly be that special, that I could find something similar, if not better. This shade in particular--a cross between a brown and a mauve, a shade straight out of the late nineties--wasn't anything I was finding in stores. I read articles and bought throwaway lip colors in search of dupes, but eventually I knew I just had to break down and give $30 of my hard-earned cash to the youngest member of the Kardashian matriarch. I wish I could say I was disappointed in my purchase and the product sucks, but it doesn't. It's not exactly an everyday shade, but when I do wear it I get lots and lots of compliments. My mother also happens to hate the way it looks on me, but don't let that sway you.

4) Benefit Rollerlash

Photo courtesy of Benefit Cosmetics. Purchase here!

Anyone who has stubby eyelashes that can't hold a curl, this mascara is going to be your new best friend. For a while, Benefit's They're Real was my ride or die favorite mascara, but after receiving a full-sized tube of Roller Lash in a gift box, I was sold. It's great for those days when you want a "natural, no-makeup" makeup look, but can also be built up to give your lashes a lot of length and curl without looking clumpy. But take my words with a grain of salt, because I'm usually one of those girls who says "if you're spending more than $10 on mascara, you're an idiot." And I'll level with you: if I didn't get this in a set, I wouldn't have bought it at all, but now I'm (regrettably) sold. But if you're on a budget, Covergirl's Clump Crusher works almost as well at only one-third of the price.

Music, Movies, and TV

1) Music

This month, my taste is music has kind of been all over the place. In the fall and early winter, my taste generally mellows out to match the nippy winds and falling leaves. This month, my Spotify playlist was pretty representative of that, with a mix of girl group pop and John Mayer slow jams. 

2) Movies: The Edge of Seventeen

Photo courtesy of Amazon. Buy a ticket here!

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I looked like Hailee Steinfeld, I'd probably have enough money to, Hailee Steinfeld. But to me that's a huge compliment, as she was phenomenal and transcendent in this move. The Edge of Seventeen was compared to The Breakfast Club and Juno by reviewers, and I can see why. I think it'll be one of my all-time faves for the next foreseeable future, as the humor, pacing, and heart of the story resonated with me so much. This film captures exactly what it's like to be seventeen, with no cringe-worthy thought or feeling left unexplored. Needless to say I was laughing and sobbing in cyclical fashion, leaving the theater ready to sit down for an another screening.

3) TV: RuPaul's Drag Race

Courtesy of TV Series Finale. Stream here!

Not only have I spent the month of November binge-watching Drag Race, but convincing every human I come into contact with to do the same. For any fans of reality TV or competition-style shows, this is an absolute must-watch. It's essentially America's Next Top Model, but with drag queens as the competitors. But to be totally honest, saying that kind of doesn't do it justice, as the queens on this show are way more talented than any of the girls on Top Model (sorry, Tyra). I mean this genuinely when I say I admire the well-rounded set of skills and tricks these queens have. They have to be comedians, they have to be seamstresses, actors, makeup artists, dancers, singers, and possess a certain je ne sais quoi. If you're not already watching, you need to be, and the holidays are the perfect excuse to lay in bed and finish an entire season in one weekend. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...

Random Favorites

Beauty gurus always have a few items they've been loving over the month that don't really fit into any category: kind of a miscellaneous pile, if you will. In honor of that, I've also been loving...

1) The book "I Am Not Myself These Days" by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Photo courtesy of Amazon. Purchase here!

This book is a re-read for me, though it's been years since I picked it up for the first time, so it's almost like I'm starting it fresh. This choice is 195% inspired by my addiction to Drag Race, as the story follows Kilmer-Purcell during his drag queen days. Working in advertising during the day and drunkenly performing at gay bars at night, his memoir is both hilarious and harrowing. Kilmer-Purcell is a strong narrator with a clear vision and voice, making it hard to put the book down when it's time to go to sleep. His work deals with the mature topics of drugs, abuse, sex, vulgarity, and addiction, so it might not be the right read for the young or faint-of-heart. But for those that aren't afraid of a story with a little grit, I can't recommend it enough.

2) Coffee with Chrachel

Photo courtesy of iTunes. Download from the iOS Podcast app or stream here!

Podcasts are a new love for me. Whether I'm driving a long distance or have mundane tasks to complete around the house, they make the time go by much faster. My favorite as of late is Coffee with Chrachel, an hour-long chat between Chris Hubbard and Rachel Whitehurst (get it, the title is their names put together), a Seattle-based couple. The tone of their podcasts are pretty clear given the title: it's just like you're going out to coffee with your friends, talking about internet memes, how awful Donald Trump is, and everything in-between. Because Chris and Rachel have been together so long, their chemistry and conversation is seamless, with witty banter and serious topics woven together without awkward pauses or forced transitions. Plus, every so often you'll hear little mews or rustlings from their two cats (lovingly referred to as "the chunks"), adding their own personalities to the mix.

3) This. Fucking. Vine.

Calling this 6-second video one of my "monthly favorites" seems beyond dumb, but I don't consider it the holidays until I've watched it about 100 times. Modern performance art is really the only way to describe it.

And on that note, I'll talk to you guys tomorrow.