Friday, December 4, 2015

What's my age again?

This is my last blog post as a 22-year-old and that's a little bit scary but also a little bit exciting.

Let me give you a quick recap of my twenty second year of life:
- I graduated from college.
- I broke up with a guy I had been dating for a while.
- I moved in with my parents for a month.
- I got staples in my head.
- I moved to South Carolina and started living at the poverty level.
- I started this blog.

That's 22 in a nutshell for me, I mean there was more, but that hit the big parts.

I was thinking about things that I want from my twenty third year, but I'm drawing a blank.  I'm kind of terrified that I'll be 23 because 23 feels like real adulthood, you don't hear that someone is 23 and think 'aw they're just a kid' because when you're 23 you've usually graduated from college, moved out on your own and gotten a job (or at least you've tried).

So that's what 23 is going to be for me.  It's going to be my first year of real adulthood.  22 started it, when I moved down to South Carolina, but this year I'm going to be fully an adult.  There's no college classes, there's no living with my parents.  Turning twenty three marks my first time as a full fledged adult and I think I'm ready.  (I'M NOT READY)

But no one is ever ready.  If I've learned anything in the last year, it's that no one was ready when they entered the real world, we're all just really good at faking it.

So tonight at midnight, when it stops being December 4th and starts being the 5th I'll turn 23.

To quote Blink 182, no one likes you when you're 23.  Let's see if that's true.


Oh, and for anyone who reads this, I'm sorry there hasn't been an update in awhile, I haven't had wifi at my apartment for the last 3 weekends and I can't post when I don't have wifi.  I'm actually sitting at Panera right now since the wifi is down again.

That's an entirely different post though.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Red Cups Are Coming

The red cups are coming! The red cups are coming!

Let's talk about the red cups at Starbucks and the rather extreme response that some Christians are having to the holiday cups that the coffee chain released on November 1st of this year, like they do every year.

For reference I'm putting this year's cup and last year's cup in this post.   The 2014 cup is on the right and features stars or snowflakes, which, to be clear, are winter themed items and not Christmas themed.



















But this didn't stop a group of Christian's from going up in arms about the store becoming 'anti Christmas'

I'm not going to get into the 'movement' but I'm going to break down how absurd they are in their quest because 1.) Starbucks still offers plenty of Christmas items in the store, including a Christmas blend coffee and 2.) it's a fucking cup, it's red and green, how the hell are they offended.

So as a way to 'get back at' Starbucks Christians are being encouraged to go to Starbucks and buy a cup of coffee and tell them their name is "Merry Christmas."

Okay, what?

You want to prove a point by giving the company  that you're upset with MORE MONEY? That's the opposite of what they should be doing if they want to prove a point.  They should be actively going to Starbucks competition, not going there and spending money.  Like, wow, you really got them, you spent $5.95 on your peppermint mocha latte and they wrote Merry Christmas on the cup.

Starbucks employees don't care what they're writing on your cup and Starbucks home office is employees are probably sitting there looking at the tag #MerryChristmasStarbucks and cackling because they're getting a ton of free press that is encouraging people to go into their stores.

I also want to touch on a the video that was posted that started this whole thing.  The link to this video is here.  I'm laughing out loud right now because at no point in their holiday cup history has Starbucks featured religious symbols on their cups, they have featured things like ornaments, evergreen trees, snowflakes, snowmen and stars.  These aren't religious symbols, they are commercialized things that we view as Christmas-y.

This guy is so offended because they took away the Christmas from the cup, he even says something about taking the 'Christ' out of Christmas and I'm sorry, but that's too funny because Starbucks didn't do that, he did by buying into the commercial view of Christmas.  A cup isn't what Christmas is about and just because the cup is minimalist and only red doesn't mean you should freak out, it's just a cup.

Honestly, I'm more upset that it's only Novemeber and places are already playing Christmas music and the red cups are already out.  We haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, can we just take this one holiday at a time and maybe stop commercializing religious events? I'd be cool if I could just go buy my overpriced coffee in a plain red cup and not have to deal with the extreme views of 'scorned' Christians. You guys have it pretty good, you have entire sections of stores for you right now, how do you think that Jewish kid feels when he sees he only has the cap of an aisle in Target?  That Muslim girl who is getting shit for wearing her headdress doesn't have anything in the store, you can deal with the plain red cup.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Master of None

I'll admit it, I spent 5 hours straight binge watching Master of None, Aziz Ansari's new show on Netflix and holy fucking shit did I relate to that show on so many different levels.  He did such a great job of creating the characters and the different story lines that really hit home with me and probably millions (maybe not millions) of other people.  This post is going to be about the show so I'm throwing up a huge SPOILER ALERT right now so no one can get mad at me.

Aziz plays Dev, a late twenties-early thirties actor who's working as a commercial actor in NYC.  He's a first generation immigrant and his life is pretty sweet, his apartment is (in my opinion) awesome, his friends are an eclectic group who I'd love to grab a drink with and he has a great girlfriend, until he doesn't anymore.

The season finale of Master of None was the kind of ending that left me yelling at my laptop.
'HOW COULD SHE LEAVE HIM LIKE THAT'
'HE JUST MOVED TO ITALY?'
'IS THIS WHAT REAL ADULTHOOD IS LIKE?'

After I took a few minutes (hours) to sit, to stare at the now black screen of my laptop I didn't feel any better.

I had grown attached to these characters, smiled at their quirks because I can relate to them, laughed at their jokes and awkwardness, I was invested in their relationship in a way that I haven't been in  a long time.  (Yes, I am fully aware of how sad it is that I can get invested in a fictional relationship more than I can get invested in my own [lack] of love life).

So there I was listening to Rachel (Dev's girlfriend - ex girlfriend) talk about how she can't become her sister.  She can't wake up one day with a kid and realized her window to live a life that she wants has closed.  She says in an earlier episode that it's not like it closes slowly, you look up one day and it's already done.  She moves to Japan.  I hate how much I relate to her, to her need to live a life without regrets, to wanting to be free, even if that means hurting people you love.

Then there's Dev.  He fell into acting and it's not like he loves it, it's just something he does because the money is good. The look on his face when Rachel tells him she's leaving is a look I've seen before because I've put it on people's faces, but I've also seen it for myself.  I was heartbroken for him because how could she just leave him like that? But I know how, I know why.  He goes too.  He ends up moving to Italy to become a chef.

The ending wasn't clean cut and happy.  Sure, both characters are moving and trying to grab like by the horns and live fully but at the same time what's the cost? They aren't 100% sure about each other,  but when in life are you really 100% sure about anything.  I'm not 100% sure about most things.

Maybe that's why I cut ties and run, because I want something to be 100% guaranteed.  What Master of None really showed me was a fogged mirror of myself.  Aziz Ansari created a show about Millenials that causes us to put down our phones and think about our lives.  How do we treat our parents? Our grandparents? Are we missing out on life as we toil away at jobs we don't like, in relationships that don't satisfy us? Are we really living?

End Spoilers

These days we live half lives.  We want to do all these awesome, amazing things, but we're scared shitless because we don't want to miss out on what's happening where we are.  I still think about what my friends in Buffalo are doing and feel a little FOMO (fear of missing out) but then I think about who I would be if I were still there and I start living in my moment again.

I don't want to be a person who is always cutting ties, who's always afraid that my window is going to close. I want to be a person who doesn't care about the window, who will find a door if that doesn't work out, who will stand up for what's right.  I'm not going to ignore the open windows around me, not anymore.

So here's to all the windows out there, closed and open and the ones that haven't been built yet.  Here's to spending Sunday afternoons wrapped in a blanket drinking tea, here's to coffee shops and book stores, here's to loving the life you're living and trying to make it better if you don't.  Here's to the Millenials, the risk takers, the people around me who inspire me to be better.

A special thanks to Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang for creating a show that spoke to my soul in a language that it understands. Thanks for the laughter and introspection that it inspired, just thanks for doing what you do.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Seasons Change

I'd like to say that I've been away from this blog for so long because I've been busy or because I've been saving puppies or something interesting, but the reality, like most realities, is much more boring than that. I've been doing more of the same down here in South Carolina.  I wasn't effected by the flooding, I haven't really done anything new or exciting.

I was driving to work today when a thought crossed my mind.  In movies you never really see the characters driving to work, you don't often see them sitting at a desk working, in movies and TV shows you see the action, you don't see the dullness that can be real life.  I was stopped at a red light and I looked up and was taken aback by the beauty that is the changing of the seasons.

If my life were a movie I would have had a voice over in that moment that went something like this, 'It's weird, this is the twenty second autumn that I've live through, the twenty second time that I've seen the leaves fall and every year I'm surprised by how perfect it looks.  We live lives that don't always allow us time to stop and look at the oranges and the reds, the yellows and browns of the fall, but I want to live a life where I remember to look.'

Cheesy, yes. But how the hell did I miss the leaves starting to change? Fall is my all time favorite time of year, I love waking up to the chilly mornings, wrapping myself in a blanket and drinking hot tea.  I love apples and hiking through a multicolored forest, I love what fall stands for, shedding old things before new life can start.  How have I been so wrapped up in the daily monotony of my life that I forgot to look up from the road and just look

Don't get me wrong, a few weeks ago I drove up a damn mountain to go to an apple orchard and it was breath taking but it was an hour a away and I made the effort to get into the mountain air because, to quote Jane Austin, "What are men to rocks and mountains?"  I forgot to look around me in my normal life, to be even more cliche than ever, I forgot to stop and smell the roses (not that I would smell any flower, I think that cut flowers smell life death and no one can change my mind on that).

I'm going to try to be less distracted by work.  I'm going to stop and just breathe in this perfect season because so many people exist without really living and I don't ever want to be that person.  I want  people to listen to my stories and be inspired to live.  I won't ever climb Everest, I probably won't ever swim with sharks or live off the grid.  My life won't be the stuff of legend, but it will be something worth living.

I don't want to look back in 5 autumns and realize I forgot to look at the changing seasons again.  I won't make that mistake twice.

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 - The Year That Love (Maybe) Died

So as most of you know I am basically the picture of stoic and not at all dramatic, ever, so this blog will be shocking to most of you because it could be read as a little mellow dramatic.  (Okay, let's be honest, I'm basically the Drama Queen of the world, but whatever).

2015 has not been a great year for love, at least not in my circle of friends.  I have watched couples that I thought would be together forever breakup, I did some breakups of my own, but here's the thing, I'm personally happier for it.

Yeah breakups suck, they hurt like hell for both parties in most cases, but I'm 9 months out of my last breakup and for the first time in my 22 years of existence I can say without a doubt that I am happy within myself.

It took me a really long time to love myself the way that I do now.  Years and years of self confidence issues and letting people use me as a doormat takes time to heal.  I started the process a long time ago, towards the end of high school, but it wasn't easy, loving yourself isn't always an easy process.

So here's my thing.  I've heard that you can't love someone else until you truly love yourself, but I think that's complete bullshit.  I think you can love someone else with all of your heart, even if you don't love yourself.  I think that expression should be you can't accept someone else's love until you love yourself.

It's easy to love someone else, to accept their flaws and their quirks, it's not so easy to love yourself and when you don't love yourself it's hard to think that anyone else could love you either. I think that a lot of times relationships end because one of the parties doesn't believe it when the other person says they love them.  For me accepting romantic love was hard for a long time because I couldn't understand how someone could love me and all of my flaws.

I live a very different life now than I lived last year or even a few months ago.  I've fallen completely in love with my life, flaws and all.  I've accepted each of my quirks and I'm okay with not changing them.  I'm 22 years old, so there's time for me to become a better person, but there are some things that people might consider flaws that I wouldn't change at all - for instance, some people might think my compulsive communication is a problem, I on the other hand am completely okay with it.

So maybe 2015 was the year that romantic love died around me, but here's the thing, I think that love is like dust, like a phoenix, like the sun, it will always rise.  Maybe 2015 is the year that love was burned to the ground, but it is resilient.  We can't give up on love because it's what makes the world go round.  As the Beatles said 'All you need is love.'

As 2015 starts to wind down (crazy to think that it's already October) I want to spread the love.  If you're feeling sad, if you're feeling unloved, come talk to me.  I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I'll listen and if you want advise I'll share my experiences.  As someone who has fallen completely in love with herself and my life I might be able to help.

This feels a little ramble-y, but I'm pretty okay with it.  I'm a ramble-y, dramatic person and I love myself for it.  XO

Friday, September 18, 2015

Internet Killed the MTV Star

They say that video killed the radio star which might be true, I really wouldn't know since I was born after the conception of music videos (yes, I know I'm so young blah blah blah). But here's the thing, technology has killed and created so many mediums over the last 25 years that it's actually kind of terrifying.

When I was a kid back in the last 90s early 00s you didn't come home from school and text your friends, you didn't even get online and instant message them.  If you wanted to hang out with someone after school you had to make plans days in advance, you had to pick up the land line (sometimes they were cordless but other times they tethered you to the wall) and you had to actually use your words.

The art of words is slowly dying.  I remember a time when I couldn't hide my face in my phone when there were other people around, when I had to make conversation and engage those around me even if it was uncomfortable.  Lately I've been trying to put down the phone and do that again, the problem is other people have to put their phones down too.

I'm not saying that technology is all bad, because it's not.  I love the shit out of it most of the time but today I was thinking about the kids who have always had cellphones, who have never lived in a world where they needed to know the Dewey Decimal System, the kids who have always had the world in their pockets.  They will never know the pure elation that comes with getting Encyclopedia Britannica for Christmas and using your precious computer time just looking stuff up.

I mean I guess kids these days are lucky, they have a whole world of information at their fingertips but sometimes I pity them because some of the best days in school were the days that they let us on the internet to explore and research.  I always felt so powerful when I was learning new things that not many other people knew, but now nearly 95% of people in the United States have access to the internet.

I feel like I'm contradicting myself a little so let me make it very clear that I love the fact that I can pull out my phone and find out what year Henry VII died but I also loved my childhood that was spent at the library trying to learn as much as I could out of a book because that was all that I had to learn from. I think that the internet is both a blessing and a curse.  Humankind survived for thousands of years without it and now I fear that if we didn't have it for a week people wouldn't know how to handle themselves.

I think that my goal for the next week is going to be to spend less time attached to my phone.  I know that it will be hard because I am just as guilty as everyone else as using my phone as an appendage of my body but I think that it will be good for me. So here's to cutting back on technology (she said as she types on her MacBook Pro, using the internet while her phone lights up with a text message and a Snapchat), this should be interesting.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Orange

I'm not sure if y'all have heard of the leadership color quiz (I don't think that's the real name).  I just checked it's not the real name, it's called the True Colors Personality Quiz.  My roommate was talking about how she's blue and gold and I decided to take it.  

There are 4 colors, blue, gold, green and orange.  As you may have guessed from the title of this post I'm orange.  As I was scoring myself I had to laugh, the lowest score you can get is 5 and the highest you can get is 20.  I was 17 points orange and 5 points gold, so I guess I'm really not gold.  

Orange: "I act on a moments notice.  I am witty, charming and spontaneous.  I consider life  a game, here and now.  I am impulsive, generous and impact.  I need fun, variety, stimulation and excitement.  I am optimistic, eager and bold. I value skill, resourcefulness and courage.  I am physical, immediate and fraternal.  I am a natural trouble shooter, a performer, a competitor. 

I crossed out optimistic because I'm more of a realist but otherwise the quiz was very accurate on my personality.  What really made me laugh was the signs of a bad day for an orange personality type.

Symptoms of a bad day:  Rudeness and defiance, breaking the rules intentionally, running away, use of stimulants, acting out boisterously, lying and cheating, physical aggressiveness.  

As I read them out loud to my roommate she started laughing at the 'use of stimulants' and I asked what kind of stimulant it's talking about.  She looked me right in the face and laughed out the word 'caffeine.'  Okay, so maybe the quiz was a little accurate.

What this quiz really did for me was helped me think about what kind of job I want in the future.  One of the qualities of an orange at work is 'bored and restless with jobs that are routine and structured' and I felt that on a spiritual level.  I really don't like sitting at a desk, more than once since starting a job that has me sitting at a desk all day I've felt restless and needed to get up and walk around (this happens like 4 times a day, oops).

I want a job that will keep my on my toes, a day in the office here and there is good but I don't like to be a bump on a log just sitting around all day.  Another quality of an orange at work is that I am a natural performer. Yep, that sounds about right.  I think that's why I liked waitressing so much,  It was never the same day twice, I got to interact with so many different types of people and I was always moving.  

So my challenge to myself this week is to brainstorm potential career options that give me that freedom and that allow me to shine because let's be honest, the whole world is my stage. I know jobs like that exist and I hope that one day I'll have one because if I've learned anything about myself at work over the past 2 months (can you believe I've almost been here for 2 months?) is that I don't thrive behind a desk all day.

Happy Monday everyone! Have a great week and try taking the quiz, I found it to be really enlightening!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Free Food

I've officially been a college graduate for about four months now and yet I still won't pass up a free meal, maybe that's something that will never change.

I will go out of my way to get a free breakfast, even if it means waking up an hour early, I will spend my days at college activity fairs for work because there's free pizza most of the time, I' not sure that I will ever outgrow the desire for a free meal.  Food always seem to taste better when it's free, at least it does to me.

Maybe it's because I'm living at poverty level, maybe in a few years when I'm making real, actual money I'll say no to the free breakfast that means I have to wake up an hour early, I'll pass on the free pizza, I'll say no the cookies being handed my way, but for now I won't.

I guess that's all part of learning to be an adult.  I have to weigh the pros and cons of waking up for that breakfast.  I chose to spend a year at poverty level and thus far I don't regret it, it's a great experience and usually once a week I luck out and get a free meal out of it, not that that's the reason I'm doing what I'm doing, that would be silly.

So for now I'm going to end this post, it was rather pointless and mostly I just wanted to talk about food because I'm hungry and I already ate my dinner.  It turns out being an adult is a lot of days that run together and some weeks I just don't feel inspired to write, so sorry about that.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Self-ish

I used to want to be brave, to be a hero, to change the world.  I don't know when that changed.  I think it was a slow process, a disillusionment with the world around me, a part of growing up.  I mean it doesn't have to be a part of growing up, I know plenty of adults much adultier than I that still want to be a hero, to change the world, but that's not me anymore.

That isn't to say that I don't want to make the world a better place, because I really do, I've just seen that you can't do it on your own, you can't be a one woman hero that changes everything and makes it better like some magical storybook.  In the real world you don't get clean cut endings that tie everything in a bow, in the real world there are some things that can't be fixed or saved.

So I find myself at an impasse.  When I was in college one of my favorite professors asked the class if we were optimists or pessimists, I'm not either.  I don't see the world as a half full or half empty glass, I see it as water in a glass.  I'm a realist.  I've accepted that I may not be able to accomplish something great or something huge that changes the world, but I can do small things that make me a better person and through that make the world around me a little better.

I know that small changes won't change every one or fix everything, hell they might not even fix anything, but just because I don't want to be the hero anymore doesn't mean I don't want to be something.  I'm not saying that my small acts will create an Elysian paradise in the world, but I'm not above trying to create one for myself.

That sounds selfish, it is selfish.  Growing up has made me a much more selfish person, but I think there's a difference between selfish (lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure) and what I call Self-ish (the capitol S is important).

Self-ish is an internal focus on your Self, on what makes you inherently you.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to make yourself happy, you don't have to put your own happiness beneath other people's because in the long run you're hurting yourself.  You don't have to be a martyr be a good person, you don't have to be selfless to make other people happy.

I am Self-ish.  I believe that my own happiness is just as important as other peoples, but not more important.  Given the choice half the time I will put other people's happiness before mine, but I try to avoid it when that makes me unhappy or sad.  I want my friends to be happy, but in recent years I've realized that I want to be just as happy myself. 

So this is a call to action.  I want you to be Self-ish today.  I want you to spend time doing something that makes your soul happy even if it doesn't benefit another person.  When you're making a choice between your own happiness and someone else's I want you to seriously consider whether or not making them happy will take away from your Self. Try it, just for a day and see how it feels, maybe you'll love it, maybe you'll hate it but you can't know until you try. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MPH dreams

I've been having more and more moments of clarity that last week or two about the future and it's a really exciting feeling.  I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I want to go to grad school or law school after I figure out what I want to do when I grow up so here it goes, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up but now I know what direction I should be going.

I took a class in college about health communication, we got to plan, execute and evaluate a health campaign and it was the most fun I've had in a class, it was also stressful and challenging and I loved that. I didn't realize it at the time, but that class put in on a new path, or maybe I came to a Spork in the road and ventured into unknown territory.

Here's the thing, I want to get my MPH (Masters in Public Health), I want to move out west to do it because I'm all about exploration and living in new places, and most MPH programs require or 'suggest' you have two years post grad experience before applying. Well, I'm currently 4 weeks into post grad experience so I'm heading in the right direction at least.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time researching different MPH programs and it turns out that as long as I do alright on the GRE I should be able to get into a top 10 program (finally all those late nights in college are paying off, woohoo for 3.55 GPAs and diverse classroom experiences).

So here I am, four weeks into my year of service and I now know that I need to do another one, preferable in some health related field.  I don't want to stay here for that year because it's a great big world and I've only seen a tiny part of it. I'm hoping that this time next year will bring me away from the East Coast and the Rust Belt to somewhere totally new.  I'm thinking Arizona, Colorado, California or Washington State.

I'll try to keep you all posted on my next great adventure, but for now this adventure is shaping up quite nicely, it's not a fiasco just yet (that's my word of the day, I had to throw it in there).  I'm feeling great, like I'm ready to take on the world - or maybe that's the pot of coffee talking.  Either way, I'm sucking the marrow out of life, Thoreau would be proud.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

True Life: I'm a Walking Accident

When my parents were helping me move down to South Carolina I half jokingly pointed out every urgent care center and every hospital we drove by.  I say half jokingly because anyone who has known me longer than a week can probably tell you that I'm a magnet for injury; I've been put into casts twice, have knee surgery just as many times and spend a good chunk of my yearly salary on first aid related items (this is only a slight exaggeration, band-aids and gauze can get really expensive).

That being said, anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear that it took me almost a month in South Carolina before having to drag my ass to the urgent care center.  Remember that spill I took early on Sunday morning? That little (it wasn't little) fall had me in the urgent care not once, but twice in the last 3 days.

You would think that after countless cuts, scrapes, sprains, broken bones and bruises that I can handle a few flesh wounds, turns out I was working with faulty information because when I went into urgent care on Monday after work I was told that I was using too much Neosporin and it was causing my wounds to not heal.  They put me on an antibiotic, cleaned it up for me and sent me on my merry way.  All good things.

Until it wasn't so good anymore. I spent Tuesday limping around, my foot swollen and a little red, my ankle tender to the touch, then I woke up today after sleeping with it elevated and found it still swollen and red.

That's how I ended up spending 2 hours at the urgent care this afternoon.
Step 1: Get a tetanus shot because my last one was in 2007 (whoops, I should have gotten that on Monday)
Step 2: Have a nurse practitioner poke and prod by foot and ankle trying to find where it hurts (hint: everywhere)
Step 3: X-Rays because they think it might be broken (it's not, thank god)
Step 4: Get blood taken because they're worried (I'm worried too) that the antibiotic isn't working and that I'm going to have to get my food cut off (okay, so they didn't think that last part only I did but don't you dare judge me I could have been dying).
Step 5: Find out that the blood work is good and that my ankle is definitely sprained and that I should avoid too much pressure for the next few days.

Needless to say I was kicking myself for not bringing crutches down here with me, but there's nothing I can do about that now.

But here's the thing, spending all that time in the urgent care made me realize something, I really am an adult now, at least in the independence aspect of it.  I had to go pick up my own prescription, I had to make my own appointment (yes urgent care takes appointments) and I have to get better all on my own.  Sure, I can call my mom and tell her what's happening everyday but she can't fix it for me anymore.  Adulting for the win (not really).

My word of the day today is unbridled, uncontrolled or untrained.

I won't say that I have an unbridled joy for adulthood but I do have an unbridled gratitude for the staff at the Immediate Care Center on East Main Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  That team of nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors work like a well oiled machine and I can honestly say that it's the best immediate care center that I've been to (I know these things, I was a frequent flyer in Buffalo as both patient and driver).

I want to end with one last thing, the caregivers at the center I went to really go out of their way to take care of the patients both physically but also emotionally.  They should serve as a model of health communication done right.  10/10 would go to again (let'shonest, knowingwing my track record I'll be back by December but hey fingers crossed, maybe I'll finally grow into my limbs).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Laughing

Since my last post I have had no less than ten people reach out to me and empathize with how I've been feeling and that makes me feel so much less alone.  This weekend has been one for the record books for me. 

Last night I laughed so hard that I cried 6 separate times, I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard 2 times and I realized that sometimes the best nights come as a complete surprise.  I was home and thinking about bed by 9:15, so naturally around 9:45 people were at my apartment and it was the start of an epic night that went until 3 A.M. and ended with a missing hotdog. 

I'd like to preface this story with the fact that I had people over on Friday night and managed to only get around 4 hours of sleep so by the time Saturday night rolled around I was ready for an easy night in.  Lucky for me, I only had 4 beers in the fridge so I did manage to have it easy on that front, but according to science being exhausted can make you feel drunk, so there you go. 

My roommate never had the 'college' experience so this year we're trying to give it to her.  Last night we played card games and blasted out music too loud.  We jumped on tables and sang Rent, we went swimming at midnight, we went on a 2 A.M. food run.  The night culminated with me chasing after my friend Melissa because she wouldn't share her fries, if you know me at all you know that I'm a klutz at the best of times. 

I bit it, hard, I've got some nasty looking road rash on my leg, but I was laughing and I feel good.  My roommate tried to sleep in a bathtub, it was a good night, even if my hot dog went missing. I'm convinced that they didn't put it in the bag to begin with.

So since my last post I feel better, sure I miss home and my friends and family, but I have my new friends down here who have all been checking on me and making sure that I'm okay.  My abs hurt from laughing.  Last night was the most fun that I've had in a really long time.  

There's a Regina Spektor song that says, "you laugh until you cry, you cry until you laugh, and everyone must breathe until their dying breath."

That's what I'm doing, I'm laughing until I cry and I'm crying until I laugh.  This week will be better because now I know that I'm not alone, I've got people here who are going through the same thing or who have been through it before.  I'm making connections with people and the pit in my stomach is shrinking even smaller. 


Friday, August 7, 2015

Cathartic

Just a warning to my lovely readers (do I even have readers) that this post isn't full of sunshine and rainbows and optimism.  I'm having a bit of an off week which is why I haven't really been writing and I'm just going to lay it all out here.

This week I came to the very frightening realization that I am in fact an adult now.  It's a truly terrifying thing to realize because I don't think I'm ready for this.  Sure I'm prepared for the idea of adulthood, but not for the actual reality of it.  It's a big change and even though I'm adjusting to life down here and I'm making some really great friends I'm starting to get this pit in my stomach that feels a lot like loneliness.

My word today is exacerbate, which means to make a problem or situation worse. I think I've been exacerbating my maladjustment to adulthood by trying to deny it.  I don't deny it out loud or even to myself, but on a subconscious level I still feel like I'll be going back to school in a couple weeks.

I've been receding into myself this week.  I've been avoiding extended social interaction because I feel like I'm on the verge of tears constantly and I can't put my finger on exactly why.  Sure, I miss things about home and I miss my people but, it's not that.  It feels sort of like I came here to find a missing piece of myself and I'm so close to finding it yet so far away.

I thought that last week was a bad week on a personal level, not an emotional level though.  I had a friend from college pass away and got some sad news about a really old family friend but I still felt okay.  I think it's all hitting me this week, like maybe I'm not as strong as I though.  I'm sad about all of it, I feel small because I can't fix it and because everything feels so damn ephemeral (see what I did there).

Nineteen year olds shouldn't have brain tumors, 22 year olds shouldn't die from heart issues.  It's all bullshit and I'm not handling it nearly as well as I thought I was. But even as I write this, as I admit it to myself I'm starting to feel better.  Not better in a sense that I'm not sad and angry but that pit in my stomach doesn't feel as heavy anymore.

I barely cried about anything last week.  I wouldn't let myself feel sad because it was my first week of work and I wanted to be strong and stoic.  I am not a stoic individual, it was absurd for me to even feign that.

Today I cried, not just a tear or two but an ugly, full body, blotchy faced cry in my car outside of my apartment because I finally let the walls fall.  This stupid song came on my Spotify and the floodgates opened, but here's the thing, it was cathartic.

Maybe it's okay to be sad. It's definitely okay to be sad when things happen to you or around you.  My roommate is a big believer that no one handles change well, I don't disagree with her but I also thing that some people handle it better then others.  I won't lie anymore and say that I'm handling it like a pro because today I ugly cried in my car for 20 minutes, but that was less about moving 600 miles away from everyone I've ever known and more about outside circumstances that would have made me ugly cry anyway.

I'm letting myself be sad.  I won't let it consume me but I'm letting it be a part of me.  I feel a lot like Riley from the movie Inside Out.  If you haven't seen it yet and don't want me to ruin it for you stop reading right now because SPOILERS. At the end of the movie Riley admits that she's sad and her emotions work together because it's possible to be happy and sad at the same time.

That's what I am, I'm happy and I'm sad and I'm scared and I'm ready for adventure.  I am all of those things and more because I know that I need to be here.  I know that some days will be harder and others will be easier.

Sometimes it's cathartic to cry, sometimes it's cathartic to write out what's bothering you and sometimes it's okay to miss a place or a person or your dad's cooking or your mom's ability to know when you're having a bad day.  I'm 600 miles or more away from all of my best friends and my family and it's okay for me to miss them.  I shouldn't feel stupid because I miss them but I shouldn't feel alone here either because I've met some really great people who are going through similar situations.

This next week is a whole new adventure that I'm ready to undertake now.  Thanks for reading, it helped to write it all out.  It's funny how just putting it down on paper (or a blog) can make everything clearer, it's cathartic.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bibelot

I'm a huge advocate of collecting moments, not things, but with that being said I have a few trinkets that are around my office.  I mention these trinkets because the word of the day today is bibelot, which is defined as a small, decorative ornament or trinket.  These trinkets make my office feel more like home, which is nice because I'm here 40 hours a week.

These things that I've collected all have meaning, they represent a moment to me so I think that though they are still things they are more like moments to me.

I look at my small elephant that I have next to my phone and I see the art festival where I got it, the smell the kettle corn and the roasting turkey legs, I feel the sunshine on my face.  It is a thing, an object, but it is a physical representation of that day, of that place.

It's nice having those reminders, but at the same time the physical things can weigh you down in a way that memories can't. I don't want to collect more bibelots on my adventures this year, I want to collect moments that I won't soon forget.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mondaze

Monday always get's a bad rep, you're just coming in from the weekend and even though weekends should be for resting you cram everything into them that you wanted to do all week.  Mondays are exhausting because you come into the day already exhausted.

There's a new term, or maybe it's not new and I'm just not hip to what the kids are saying anymore, called Mondaze.  It describes the feeling of being in a daze because it's Monday and you're tired.  This morning I was in a Mondaze.

I don't like that feeling of being unproductive and out of it so I drank some coffee, then I drank some more coffee and finally after my fourth cup of coffee I was out of the daze and into a productive rhythm.  Hopefully next Monday it won't take that much coffee but there's nothing I can do about it now.

One of my goals for this year, a goal unrelated to the tasks that I'll be doing for the Urban League and the Spartanburg community is to change my attitude.  I think there's a lot to be said about the power of positive thinking.  If you wake up and think that you're day is going to be awful then there's a good chance it will be, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the flip side of that if you wake up and think that today is going to be a good day there's a good chance that you'll be right.  I understand there's a level of uncertainty going into each day, that you can't know for sure if it really will be a good day, but if you go into it with a positive attitude you might surprise yourself.

That's how I pulled myself out of my Mondaze.  Sure the coffee helped (a lot), but I put my best foot forward and I didn't let the little things get to me.  If I can't change it or I can't fix it I shouldn't worry about it. When the wifi went down I didn't let it get to me, I worked on a hard copy of my plan, when I forgot my lunch I remembered the snacks I had stashed in a drawer of my desk.

Though positivity can't take you all the way, it can start you in the right direction. I started my week in the right direction so it should be a good week.

And because I know you're just dying  to know the word of the day is interlude,  an interval, break.  An in-between period of time.  A pause between acts of a play.

I suppose there's a chance that when I look back at my life I'll see that I'm in an interlude right now, a period of time between ending college and starting my life, but you probably don't know you're in an interlude until you're removed from it.  I'm going to live this year like it's the first year of the rest of my life, not like it might be a pause in my life. I can't stop myself from growing up, I can't take a break from life and hope for the best.

So here's to a week without interlude, to a week of positivity and forward motion.  Here's to a week full of coffee and smiles but above all of that, here's to the next week of the rest of our lives.

Happy Monday Y'all (looks like the south is getting to me).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Offing

Today's word is offing.  On offing is the most distant part of the sea that is seen from the shore, it is beyond the anchoring ground.  I'm going to ask you to hang in with me for a few minutes while I relate this word to my life and life post grad. 

To get anywhere by sea you have to venture into the offing, it can be a scary thing because you don't know what's there, what's beyond the horizon. Back in the days of old they though that the horizon was the end of the world, that you'd fall off it you sailed too far into the offing.

That's what life is about.  You have to take a risk, you have to sail into the offing to get somewhere new.  When I went to college in Buffalo I ventured a little bit away from the shore, into the sea but I could still see the safety of the shore behind me, ready for me to come back if I needed to.

But on this adventure I've lost sight of the shore, I'm in the offing.  I've moved toward the horizon, but the thing about the offing and the horizon is that they keep moving as you move. There is no edge of the world that you'll fall off if you sail out too far, but that won't stop me from trying to get there.

There's a quote I really like about taking a chance in life, "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."

We were made to leave out harbors and sail to distant lands, or at least I think that I was.  Just over two weeks ago I set sail from my safe harbor and arrived in a place that I didn't know and I was terrified, but that feeling of apprehension, of fear, that means you're living. 

Maybe I'll never make it to my destination, maybe I'll be drift in the offing until the wind catches my sails again, but while I drift I know that I'm going to end up where I was meant to be.  I don't mean that in some cliche way, I don't mean fate will take me where I'm meant to be because I think that fate is bull shit, we make our own destiny, you do what you can with what you've been given. 

I'll end up where I'm meant to be because I've decided to go there, whether it was a conscious decision or gut instinct.  Going into the 'offing' was something I had to do to change my own life,so while I'm here trying to find the right wind for my sails I'm going to enjoy the ride - I have a feeling it's going to be a wild one. 


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Halcyon

I never understood the joy of a weekend, in college and high school I worked on the weekends and even if I wasn't working I had something to do, whether it was for a club or homework. As an adult with only one job I have an actual weekend which is a new experience entirely.

Last night I had a Friday night where I didn't have to work or worry about a paper, I had no responsibilities.  So naturally I went and got pizza, drank some wine with some of my coworkers and was in bed by 11.  If this is adulthood I can totally get down with it.

This morning I woke up around 10, made breakfast and then went to the pool for 4 hours.  I almost feel guilty not being at the library haphazardly trying to finish a paper that's due on Monday, key word being almost. I mean I guess I'm getting my comeuppance in the form of a pretty nasty sunburn but it was well worth it.

Though I'm sure I'll soon bore of this halcyon lifestyle I'm going to try to appreciate it while it lasts. For those of you who are tuning into this program already in progress I have a word of the day app that I'm attempting to weave into my life and today's word is halcyon.

Halcyon - happy, sunny, carefree, serene, tranquil, quiet.

My weekend has been halcyon and I'm learning to enjoy that or I'm trying to at least.

I'm currently sitting at Starbucks with my roommate and another girl in our program, all of us half ass working on some project or another, slightly burnt from the sun, drinking our iced beverages and I am feeling completely content.  It's a relatively new feeling at this juncture in my life, no anxiety about money (for the time being) and no worries about the future because for the next 360 days I've got plans and for now that's enough.

This next week I am going to try to be the embodiment of halcyon- smiley, upbeat and peaceful.  I don't know if I can manage the quiet bit, but I'll give it a shot.

Until next time my friends.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Evanescent

I recently got a word of the day app because I am a firm believer that education never stops and because I like using words that aren't used often, it adds a certain flavor to the conversation.  That being said, I don't often get the chance to use words like coppice (a grove of small growth that is cut back at certain times for fuel or other reasons) in casual conversation, but some days the word strikes a cord.


My word today is evanescent.  If you've been reading along with my other blogs you'll remember that the title of my first post was Ephemeral.  Evanescent is defines as such, ephemeral, vanishing quickly, lasting a short time, quickly fading or disappearing.  Passing out of sight, memory or existence.


I'd like to keep my posts fresh and not write on the same topic twice in the same week so I'm going to try to spin this a little differently then my first blog.  I have talked about how everything in like is ephemeral, that life itself passes more quickly then we'd like to think, so today I think I'll talk about how we can still try to make our impact more then evanescent.


The AmeriCorps program that I am doing originated 50 years ago, well before AmeriCorps itself. The VISTA program came from the brilliant mind of JFK, it was the idea of a domestic Peace Corps and from there the Volunteers in Service to America was born.  The VISTA program is different from other AmeriCorps programs because though we work to alleviate poverty we do it from a capacity building perspective.


I don't go into a community and serve directly, I am essentially the woman behind the curtain trying to make sure everything runs smoothly.  This year I'll be fundraising, grant writing, recruiting volunteers and working on social media for the Urban League in Spartanburg. So far in my week at the office I've already written a communication plan and attempted to write a volunteer engagement plan (I say attempted because I am really not sure if I did it correctly, but no one has told me otherwise yet so I'm counting it as a win).


The idea of sustainability after I leave brings me back to my word of the day.  My presence in this office, in this city and probably this part of the country entirely is evanescent.  I'm going to finish my year here a better person and hopefully with a trajectory for my life but if I don't that's just fine.  


I have one overarching goal this year.  I want to leave a mark, I want to build the capacity of the Urban League, I want to leave in a year and know that what I am leaving behind in sustainable. I myself will be evanescent, I will leave in a flurry with nothing but some paperclips and pens as a physical reminder that I was once in the office, but what I did here won't be gone so quickly.


One person can make an impact, it won't be a meteor sized impact but it will make a difference none the less.  When you throw a small stone into a pond the splash is small but the ripples are far reaching, spreading over the pond long after the initial spot of impact has vanished.  I want to be that stone.


I leave you with a quote that I have next to my desk. “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” - Rumi



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tumbleweed

I always say I'll try anything twice and thank god for that because day two was so much better then day one.  I actually got to do something with substance on my second day and that was not only exciting but challenging since I am making this up as I go, not in a bad way, it's just that I don't have a template to adhere to.

I like the freedom I've been given with my tasks, I get the chance to not only come up with plans but to create something entirely my own.  The only thing with that is that if it isn't right it's on me and me alone, that's a lot of pressure, but you know what? I like the pressure, I like feeling like I'm doing something new and exciting and if it's right that's all me and if it's wrong that's all me too.

July 29th was a good day for my creativity and it was also a good day for my mental state. I got the chance to talk to a fellow VISTA about what she's done in her life and while we were talking it clicked with me that there are very few doors that are closed to me at this point in my life.  I'm 22 years old, this year I'll be turning 23 and I am so young and I have so many opportunities ahead of me, some that I haven't even thought of.

I like to (mis)quote a Zac Brown Band song, the line goes 'You've got a gypsy soul to blame and you were born for leaving'.  When people ask me why I moved to South Caroline to a place that I had never been to before I told them "I've got a gypsy soul to blame, I'm born for leaving."  I sometimes call it my tumbleweed lifestyle, I go where the wind blows me and often even I'm not sure what the next stop is.

I like my life, no actually I  love it.  For the first time ever I didn't let fear or a commitment to something or someone hold me back.  I made the choice to move away from everything and everyone I've ever known and love because it was something I felt like I needed to do to grow.  I was a blossoming plant in a small pot, safe from the rain and watered daily with love and friendship but I was outgrowing the pot.

Sometimes you need to uproot yourself, transplant yourself into a bigger pot because you can't grow anymore where you are, that's what I did. I uprooted my entire life and I've transplanted myself somewhere entirely new to me and it is the most exciting and more terrifying thing I have ever done, but I love every second of it.

For the longest time I was sure that I wanted to go to law school but now I'm not sure.  That door is still open, I won't close it yet because I'm not sure if I want to cross that off the list entirely, but the moment that I decided to take a year (or two or three or however many I need to figure myself out) countless other doors opened, doors that I hadn't considered, doors that I didn't know existed until now.

There's a song by The Head and the Heart called Rivers and Roads that really struck a cord with me just as I was graduating from college and it still resonates with me a few months later.  Rivers and Roads was the kind of song that hit me in the gut, it managed to capture exactly how I was feeling in that moment.

"A year from now we'll all be gone, all our friends will move away.  They're going to better places but all our friends will be gone away."

That line is so simple and so true about this time in my life.  It's a period of transition, of fear and of growth.  No one can tell you where to go, they can try but you don't have to listen.  You can follow any road you want to, any river you please.

The song talks about change and ends with "Rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you" which to me means two things.  Firstly it means you can go anywhere but second it means that you can always come back home.  But coming home doesn't mean that things will be the same, that's the scary part about going away, nothing will stay the same.

But here's the thing, I can't have a gypsy soul and a tumbleweed lifestyle without leaving.  I can't let the fear of things being different when I get home hold me back because maybe everything is the same at home and I'm different.  Maybe I'll take a new road to get there, maybe all the blowing in the wind will lead me back to where I came from, or maybe it will lead me somewhere entirely new. That's the beauty of growing up, it's a journey that can take you anywhere if you don't let your fear hold you back.

So it may be rivers and roads until I reach where I'm going, but until them I'm going to sit back and let the wind take me where ever I'm meant to be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ephemeral

We live in a fast paced, ever changing world.  Sometimes it feels like everything that I do is ephemeral, like it won't matter next week what I did today - like I can't make a difference.  That's why I'm here - not just here writing this blog but here in South Carolina working as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

I should start at the beginning, where my existential, quarter-life crisis began.

This time last year I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life.  It was all so simple in July of 2014, but I've come to realize that simple doesn't always mean right or good. In July of 2014 I had taken the LSAT and I was all gung-ho about my senior year of college, I thought I was ready to take on the world, then I got my scores back.  They weren't bad scores, they just weren't what I had wanted.

It was after I took the LSAT for the second time in September of 2014 that I felt completely and utterly disheartened.  For the first time in my life I was questioning if law school was the right path for me and it was a terrifying thought because law school had always been the end game, so if I wasn't sure about law school what else was I not sure about, and what the hell was I going to do with my life.

I put off thinking about it for the rest of the fall semester, like any mature college student would.  I also came to realize that my parents weren't proud of me because I had always wanted to go to law school and I was striving for that, they were proud of me because I worked hard and I was following my passion.  It turns out they were even prouder when I told them I wasn't sure anymore and that I was looking into taking  a gap year.

By March of 2015 I was positive that I wanted to take a year and figure myself out, I knew that I wanted to do something that would make an impact and I knew that as a 22 year old that would be a challenge. Enter AmeriCorps.

I applied for programs all across the country, I knew that I wanted to get out of Buffalo (where I was attending college) and that I wanted to stay out of Cleveland (where I'm from).  So that's how I found myself moving to Spartanburg, South Carolina.  It's a small city of around 40,000 and right now I am calling it home.

That brings us to now, you're welcome for only giving you the cliff-notes, the story could have gone much longer.  I'm here because I want to make a difference and because I still have no idea what I'm planning on doing with my life but I know that I want to make some sort of impact.

Two days ago a classmate and friend of mine passed away - it was sudden from what I understand.  He was a great person, always smiling and making other people feel important.  He would have started law school next month and I know that he would have been great but life is cruel and too short for some people.

That brings me back to the feeling of everything being ephemeral.  Everything in life is fleeting, even life itself but at the same time it's the longest thing that anyone will ever do.  I'm going to try to make the most of my transitory existence because I have been given the privilege of having it.

This blog will be where I put my rants and ravings of the day or week, where I talk about what I'm doing at my job, where I talk about anything.  I don't expect anyone to read it, but everyone I've talked to about this type of experience has told me to document it so that I don't forget it, so that's what I'm doing.

Maybe some day I'll look back at this and realize that it was the beginning of a beautiful time, maybe it'll be the first day of the rest of my life, who knows? I sure don't.