It’s Been Awhile

Hello.

As I am currently in one in-person class and two online classes, I’ve been a little busy. Then again, everyone is busy. I’ll be doing the whole three-class thing again in the second summer session, so I won’t really have free time until mid/late July. Please bear with me!

The biggest benefit of my taking three classes in five weeks is that I’m reading. I’m reading a lot for classes, obviously, but more importantly, reading for these classes has brought me to a place where reading is all I want to do, and is what I spend most of my scant free time doing. It’s been fantastic; now I’ve been reading, reading, reading for weeks, all I want to do is write. I can feel the creative urge beginning to stir within my heart and mind. My to-be-read stack is ridiculously tall, but I’ll get to it. I’m steadily moving through books. I don’t devour them in a matter of hours anymore like I did my entire childhood, but I am consistent with how much and how often I read, and I still read in large chunks at a time.

I’m currently reading (for fun) You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, and The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. My classes are Representing Women, which so far has largely been about female representation in and creation of art, Major American Authors Colonial-Romantic, and Contemporary Rhetoric, so you can see how I am doing a lot of reading. The class I enjoy the most so far is Major American Authors.

So, I’ll keep plugging away and working my butt off. I’ll try to update here.

 

Summer

I love summer. I really do. I always have. Even summer in the South, even summer in the reclaimed swampland where I spent the majority of my life: I love it.

I love the contrast in temperatures. The sun is scorching, but the water – whether pool, lake, river, or ocean – is cool. I love baking in the sun, cooling in the water, and repeating the process to keep myself comfortable. I love that water is something my whole person can enjoy once more, that it is something in which I can again submerge myself. I love being cold indoors and thawing outside, then boiling outside and freezing indoors.

I love getting tan. I’m blessed to have southern Italian heritage, so I don’t burn easily – I definitely can, but frequently I wake up the next day just tan when the day before I looked absolutely like a lobster. I love getting blonder. I’ve never dyed my hair or even gotten highlights, and the summer sun combined with chlorine from pools and juice squeezed from the lemons in my kitchen is the only way I lighten my hair.

I love the way ice water is the sweetest, cleanest, most satisfying ambrosia in the summer. I love all the fruits that are in season, and I used to love being able to pick produce from my father’s garden and eat it straight from the vine. I love the foods, lighter and colder and delicious, like caprese salad, that are seasonally appropriate. I love that those foods sit lightly in the stomach and make me feel like I can more easily do physical activity. I love flowers and the verdancy of summer. I love the warmth of summer rain, and the chill of the air conditioning drying the water from your skin and clothes.

I love that summer seems like the perfect time of the year for adventures. Want to jump off a cliff into the water below? Why not! Want to go on a road trip? Let’s do it! I love hearing the music of the ice cream truck in the distance. It almost sounds like a fairy’s music box.

My very favorite thing about summer is summer nights. I love that the sun doesn’t fully disappear until nine o’clock. I love the scents of rain from afternoon thunderstorms, heavenly honeysuckle, intoxicating lilac, heady magnolia. But the sweetest thing about summer nights is the humidity, believe it or not. It’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket, because the air is no longer hot. It’s comfortable and comforting.

Breaking the Fast

Good morning!

I am a creature of habit. I like some form of dairy for breakfast every day, whether it’s actual dairy, like cream cheese on a bagel, or fake dairy, like almond milk in cereal. I eat about three things for breakfast when I’m eating at home, with a slim margin of variety.

I made up this “recipe” when I was living at home, in between colleges. I got the idea from the breakfast I always had in the dining hall, when I got up for breakfast, at my first college. I would always eat scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. I noticed that I liked it best when I got a forkful of both.

One of the benefits of living in your parents’ house is that there’s a (sometimes, in my parents’ house) fully stocked kitchen. I decided to recreate the breakfast I liked from the dining hall. I fried up some potatoes – and then promptly forgot to remove them from the pan, and cracked an egg over them.

I wasn’t about to throw it away; I hate wasting food. So I shrugged and cracked the other egg over the potatoes. I had a slice of cheese on the counter for the eggs, and I shredded it by hand into the mixture. A dash of salt and pepper, and breakfast was ready!

Now it’s a staple for me. I usually dice a quarter of a potato, fry the small pieces, crack the egg(s) over the potato, and shred a slice of cheese into the whole thing. Personally I like my eggs wet, borderline Grace-is-going-to-get-salmonella, but you can cook them to your liking.

Have a good day!

 

 

Sunrise

A few weeks ago, I took a small road trip to the beach with two friends. We stayed in a cheap but incredibly nice Airbnb, where at night, because we are poor and college students, we stayed in and studied the one night we stayed.

It was a great trip. We listened to some excellent music on the way, and the drive itself was beautiful, as the day was gorgeous. We arrived on the beach in the early afternoon, and stayed on the sand almost till sunset. We took walks, dipped in the water, which was so cold it sent waves of aching up my legs from my submerged feet, napped (okay, mostly I napped), and passed a soccer ball around. The wind blew incessantly, getting sand everywhere whether or not it was welcome. The beach was mostly empty and the water, at forty-eight degrees, even more so.

The weather Sunday was supposed to be good, hence why we stayed the night instead of returning home once we were coated in sand. The three of us rose just before sunrise and trooped down to the shore. We stood in silence, watching the sky lighten, and then watching the sun rise.

We were silent and still. As young people, this does not often happen. But silent and still we were. It was lovely, and lovely to have only one thing to focus on. It was so quiet; it had been a new moon the night before, leaving the beach in a darkness so profound that I had never experienced such complete organic darkness before, and the tide was out.

Occasionally a smartphone appeared to snap a picture. Believe it or not, I’m happy the smartphone did occasionally make an appearance. It’s easy to unlock a phone and take a picture without taking one’s eyes from the actual event. I didn’t miss a moment of that sunrise, and I also have pictures to remember it from a slightly different vantage point.

If you’ve never experienced a sunrise, I would highly recommend it. This wasn’t my first sunrise, or my first beach sunrise. Sunrise is a wonderful time of day, especially if you get up for it specifically and know your warm, soft bed is waiting for a quick nap afterwards. It’s quiet – not silent, quiet. You can hear nature, mostly unadulterated by human noise, and there’s something ancient and enduring happening in front of or around you. It is an incredibly peace-bringing experience. It’s still cool or cold, but there’s a cleanliness to that, too. The quietude is what spoke to my soul. I live in an apartment with four total women including myself, three dogs, and a cat. It gets very, very loud, and having a few minutes of quiet was profound.

Find what your soul needs and enjoy it.

Weight and Self-Image

When I was growing up, I was always “the skinny one.” I had the supersonic metabolism that meant I could eat anything and stay thin.

I operated within this belief into and through puberty. I noticed weight gain as I my body became that of a woman’s. Since I’d always been told and seen myself as “skinny” in the way a child’s body is skinny, I saw my beautiful new curves as just fat. Fat fat fat fat fat. The self-loathing began.

I wasn’t fat, by the way, not at all. I was still thin, and curvy. Looking back now I see that. I see that my body was beautiful the entire time. Comparing it to the weight I am now, I could laugh until I cry that I thought I was fat, when I was gorgeous and perfect the way I was.

Gaining weight after finishing puberty was crushing. It started after I left my first college and retail job, and began my desk job. After awhile I decided to do something about the way I felt about myself. I began working out most days of the week and eating as well as I could.

Then I broke my foot, which has set me back immensely. I am now working out about three times a week, and eating better, and I’m noticing not only weight loss, but toning and muscle gain.

Maybe I don’t have to be “skinny.” Maybe I can just be healthy and curvy and happy. I’m going to keep working, and hopefully those size 8 pants will fit again soon. But if they don’t and I learn to love my new body on the way, that’s fine too.

 

Favorite TV Series

Parks and Recreation

This show is so genuinely funny it’s impossible not to love it. Though the first season was, admittedly, as my boyfriend says, a bad ripoff of The Office, it came into its own in the second season and kept the momentum going for seven seasons total. Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope is the feminist icon of the twenty-first century, and the plethora of strong female characters and the male characters that are accepting and supporting of them are excellent.

 

Friends

Though this show is admittedly somewhat problematic (see: lack of diversity, homophobia, etc.), it’s also the precursor to every following sitcom, and still makes me laugh aloud, even after seeing each episode a dozen times.

 

Brooklyn 99

Brooklyn 99 regularly and frequently has me in tears and stitches from laughter. It’s goofy, clever, and touching all at the same time. The cast is fantastic, and each character and cast member is as strong as the others.

 

Archer

I’ll admit, I hated this show at first. It was controversial and irreverent. It was its astonishing cleverness that won me over. The jokes are so, so, unbelievably witty that I’m caught off guard, which is some of the best laughter there is.

 

Westworld

Look, a non-comedy show! Westworld, though a remake, is a wonderful program. The effects are fantastic, and I love the fact that no expense is spared in the making of this show. It’s dark and the plot twists, and the suspense is delicious. This show is a little gory, but not overly so. It’s definitely cathartic.

Graduation Gift Guide

As summer approaches, so does graduation season. Whether graduating from college or graduate school, these are all great presents for the grad(s) in your life.

Gift cards

You can never go wrong with a gift card, and definitely not with cash. A lot of times college and master’s or doctorate graduates already have many of the things they need. Starbucks, grocery, movie, etc. gift cards are always helpful!

Combination churchkey/wine opener

You’d be surprised the length people go to open beers and wine bottles when they don’t have one of these. Make their lives easier, and just give them what they “need.”

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

This book is a great resource for anyone leaving what they’ve always known (i.e., school) and going into something entirely new. Why not set up your grad for success in their future endeavors?

Stationery

Stationery is definitely handy, especially for all the thank-you cards that will have to be written for gifts received. They’re handy for any occasion: birthdays, thank-yous, congratulations, anniversaries, etc.

Tool Kit

Again, you’d be surprised what people will turn to if they don’t have the proper tools. I myself have used scissors as a screwdriver and any number of things for a hammer. Getting real tools was a godsend. I’d especially recommend an electric multi-tool with various interchangeable heads.

Keurig

While it’s more than likely that your grad has one of these, if they don’t, it’s a handy machine to have. A Keurig will ultimately save your grad money on their Starbucks habit – especially if you didn’t get them that Starbucks gift card! Just remember to give some pods with the Keurig if this is the gift you choose. The Keurig is almost useless without them.

Phone Chargers

With the way phone chargers get lost, stolen, or damaged everyone could always use extra phone chargers. It’s an excellent, useful, and cost-effective gift you know your grad will appreciate.

 

Easy Ways to Keep Your Spaces Clean!

“Cleanliness is close to godliness.” And it’s true, when things are clean and organized we tend to feel almost like gods for making it happen. But how quickly the mighty fall. Having a dirty and/or messy space can feel overwhelming, which can lead to the worsening of the problem. Below you will find my tips and tricks for keeping your space clean and organized so you, too, can feel like a god.

Pick up immediately.

Now, by this I mean that instead of just kicking your shoes off your feet and leaving them lying around for anyone to trip on, put them away immediately. It becomes less of an ordeal later if you put in the effort when you’re already taking off your shoes, which is effort itself. You won’t have to later stop what you’re doing to put something away or clean a dish. It’ll already be where it’s supposed to be! Plus, if you put things off, it’ll not only make doing it later extra effort, it might be forgotten entirely. Making a habit of doing things immediately and when you think of them leads to tidier spaces.

Spend five minutes at the end of the day tidying up.

I don’t know about you, but I always sleep better once my space has been tidied for the night. A cluttered room can reflect a cluttered mind. If everything is put away before bedtime, I believe it symbolically tells your brain to put away the worries and cares of the day. Plus, you’ll wake up and there’ll be only one thing to do . . .

Make your bed first thing in the morning.

Making your bed is a small action that has a big payoff. Mainly, it makes your whole room look better in less than five minutes. Making your bed is a small accomplishment, which can lead to better self-confidence for the day because something was immediately accomplished upon waking. Also, if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have already tackled something not unpleasant, but not enjoyable either, which makes you feel productive and will likely increase your productivity throughout the rest of the day.

Have a designated cleaning day at least once a week.

Here I mean cleaning, not tidying up. Break out your Windex and Clorox, it’s time to get clean! Replace and wash your sheets and towels. Clean the entire bathroom and kitchen. Dust and vacuum your room. Doing these tasks once a week will ensure that filth does not build up in your spaces, and cleaning will therefore not be an ordeal done once a month – or less. It’ll be a quick endeavor you do one or two hours a week, and we all know that’s practically no time at all.

Basically, my advice is to stay on top of things. Don’t procrastinate. That’s how filth accumulates. You can do it!

The Benefits of Journaling

Dear Diary,

Today I’m going to talk about the benefits of journaling on my blog.

Journaling has many benefits. Among these are emotional benefits, which lead to physical benefits, and an increase in the amount and quality of what one writes.

So let’s start with that obvious. By committing to journaling at least once a week, you’re already writing one more time a week than you normally would. Writing is a craft best improved, like many others, through practice. Journaling is an excellent way to do so. Another reason journaling is a great way to practice writing and make writing a habit is that the source material is you. Your thoughts and daily doings and thoughts about those daily doings are what you’re writing about. This could blossom into something bigger.

Journaling is also a great emotional exercise. Why do you think movies depict teenage girls writing in their journals all time? Journaling forces you to look at your day and process your feelings about it. Emotional stability can help with stress and pain management.

Go find yourself a pretty journal, one that makes you excited to fill its pages. Get a pen you love to write with, so you actually write in it. And get to writing!

Cheer Up, Buttercup!

Do you ever wake up and it’s raining and the dog pooped in her crate overnight and you forgot a homework assignment and you’re down on yourself the whole rest of the day?

Me neither.

But, if that were hypothetically true for me, this is what I’d do to cheer up.

I’d name everything I was grateful for, even if it was something as simple as breathing and a full belly.

I’d walk my dog and be patient with her as she sniffed everything and searched for the perfect place to do her business.

I’d journal about how I was feeling, no matter how silly or stupid it seemed later.

I’d watch something funny, or at least some favorite of mine that’s uplifting.

I’d talk to a friend, whether in person or on the phone. I’d vent about my life, then be sure to ask and listen about theirs. Other people’s problems and triumphs are a good distraction from your own troubles.

I’d cuddle my dog and kiss her silky little head, knowing that her love is unconditional and eternal.

I’d list everyone I know loves me, and remember that they still love me, too, no matter how badly I feel or how badly my day is going.

I’d read an engrossing book and lose myself in its pages and story.

I’d eat something delicious and healthy. A full belly makes for a happier perspective.

I’d drink water. Being adequately hydrated means you’re more awake, which means you’re in a better mood, most of the time.