people

Me, and Stuff.

K is for Kristen.

(Is that too obvious? That seems to obvious.)

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I searched way too hard for an appropriate gif of Kristen Stewart.

I was recently accused (for the twelfth time) of not talking about myself enough. I tried to argue that everything you say is really “about” you, in that everything is a reflection of you: what you think about a person/place/thing and how you express those thoughts shows some aspect of your personality, character, and thought process. He wasn’t having any of it. Which is dumb, because I totally talk about myself plenty. I think.

Either way, I wanted to write but didn’t want to research anything, and, as many an icebreaker game has taught me, there aren’t any good adjectives that start with K (here’s looking at you, Kooky Katie, Krazy Kristen, and Kind Karen), so here’s a list of some random stuff that could probably mostly be qualified as “about me.”

I hate icebreaker games. They’re inane and awkward.

My favorite kinds of movies are ones in which an underdog gets ahead through hard work and perseverance (e.g. Morning GloryNever Back DownDirty Dancing). Bonus points if there’s a happy ending and/or the protagonist won’t put up with any drama.

I hate having all my toenails the same color.

Expensive art makes me lose faith in life and the rationality of humankind.

If my life were a romantic comedy, I’d probably be throwing Milk Duds at the screen right now. (That actually happened once. To a friend. Obviously. This one’s for you, Matty Flamhaff, you eternal heartbreaker.)

Asiago cheese bagels are my favorite food, especially when paired with a really good iced coffee.

I really hate talking about myself. I get about thirty seconds in and start to wonder why would anyone care? I’m not really that special. I don’t have anything to say if I’m not explaining something or providing some new, interesting revelation. Is this too much? This is dumb. And irrelevant. And then I take the time to convince myself otherwise and then thirty seconds later I repeat the process. It’s like one step forward and eight steps back. Blogging is supposed to help get me over this. Without turning me into some self-absorbed, self-obsessed dweeb.

I love 80s music. And 80s movies. Probably more than is socially acceptable.

There are exactly two people that I trust completely and don’t feel at all anxious around.

I believe that thrift shopping is a lifestyle and, if done right, a good lifestyle. You don’t have to pay a lot for clothes or art or coffee mugs. But, there are some things that definitely shouldn’t come from thrift stores if at all possible: underwear, bedding, stuffed animals, bath products, etc. You should always have a full and presentable set of dishes. You should always have a fuzzy blanket that’s only ever been yours. And you should treat yourself occasionally, because you can.

I expect the worst of people but hope for the best.

My perfect date would be a day at an amusement park, specifically one on a beach, like Cedar Point or Coney Island. There’s just something about the lights and the excitement and the sunshine and the smell, that lovely mix of sunscreen, sweat, fried food, and fish. I love it.

I always strive to be happy.

Baccalaureate (Or, Things College has Taught Me)

It’s my last week of college. I’ve finished all undergrad classes and I only have three finals separating me from the all-encompassing void that is life after graduation. They say college is supposed to be the best years of your life. Don’t ask me who “they” are; I don’t actually know. But I really hope they’re not right. Because while I did some fun things in college, I hope I haven’t peaked.

peaked

Me, talking to friends with plans.

I’m assuming I haven’t for the sake of hope and sanity, and, in that case, I’m not really sure what the point of college was. Sure, I’ve become a better writer, but I could have done that with any concentrated practice, and I’m not sure these four years were worth the piecrust promise of a well-paying job. I didn’t go to parties, I barely made friends… So, what what was the point? Learning, I hear the small voice in the back of my head say, the same one that told me writing a thesis was a good idea and that the one thing I said to that one guy four years ago was really dumb and he probably still remembers it. But, as usual, small voice, I think you have a point, even though I don’t want you to. So, what have I learned in college?

With the cram ‘n spam method of studying (cram the night before/ morning of, then pour every piece of irrelevant information you can remember into the essay test), you don’t retain a lot of information. So I remember random facts.

  • Lord Byron kept a bunch of pets, among which were a crocodile and a goat with a broken leg. He also bought the Greek revolution. Seriously.
  • Shakespeare was played in a movie by the same guy who plays Lestrade on BBC’s Sherlock.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was a marketing ploy.
  • Shakespeare’s plays are mostly dick jokes. Much Ado About Nothing is innuendo.
  • There’s an erotic retelling of Wuthering Heights. There’s also a children’s book version. About weather.
  • It takes approximately three minutes to read two pages of double-spaced, 12 point text. There are about 300 words per each double-spaced, 12 point page.
  • William Carlos Williams turned a refrigerator note into a poem and got famous for it.
  • There’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde musical. There is also a Wuthering Heights musical. More than one.
  • Celeste Ng spent six years on Everything I Never Told You.
  • Dr. Seuss hated children. Shel Silverstein wrote “A Boy Named Sue” as well as a song called “F*** it.”
  • Wassailing started as a bunch of drunk children breaking into houses and demanding food and money. Fa la la la la.

And that’s just the things I learned in classes. That doesn’t account for the random facts remembered because I heard them from people. I have a friend taking comparative anatomy and physiology, so I know a lot more than I wanted to, such as the anatomy of a cat testicle and the fact that humans have the potential to develop extra nipples on their thighs. I also learned that Michael from The Princess Diaries is the younger brother of Jason Schwartzman and is the frontman of a fairly successful band.

But I could regale you with random facts for a very long time. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. But I think I learned some solid life lessons in college as well.

I’ve learned that I can write a novel. More generally, I learned that I am more stubborn than I thought I was and that I can do anything I set my mind to, even if I end up wanting to tear my hair out. I also learned that I have good friends who will keep me from tearing my hair out.

I’ve learned that you can buy Long Island iced teas in a can. For under two dollars. They taste about as good as you think they would, but after about the fourth sip, you stop noticing. I’ve also learned what your basic cocktails have in them and even how to make some of them. I can now tell the difference between beers and can order without looking like a newbie. I’ve come to realize, though, that no one really knows everything about alcoholic drinks.

I’ve learned that getting a job is all about who you know.

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Me, trying to get a job.

I’ve learned that paint on asphalt in the rain has a bad reaction with Old Navy flip-flops, as proven many times over almost doing the splits in front of countless moderately attractive men.

I’ve learned that when two or more people planning weddings get together, they will talk about weddings. Then they will talk about their significant others, then living arrangements and lingerie and future plans. They will then talk about weddings again.

I’ve learned that while settling for the sake of being in a relationship isn’t the worst thing in the world (if you both have that mindset, anyway), be careful who and what you’re settling for. Someone who won’t hold your hand for newfound religious reasons isn’t worth it. Especially if the two of you have exactly two things in common, no more, no less.

I’ve learned that I’m capable of keeping a plant alive.

I’ve learned that everyone is a person. There is no hierarchy of humanity; everyone isn’t out to judge me and hold me to an impossible standard. There’s no exact formula for communication: no matter what you’re doing, you’re talking to a person, a person with feelings, with likes and dislikes, good days and bad days, self-esteem issues and constantly misspelled words and probably questionable fashion, and a bona fide sense of (often inappropriate) humor. I am as much a worthy member of society as anyone else.

I’ve learned that humility and self-deprecation aren’t the same thing.

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I’ve learned that you can’t fix people, and you can’t fix their problems. But you can give them coffee and chocolate and a safe space to vent or cry or sleep. Which helps.

I’ve learned that you’ll never regret putting people before work, but you’ll often regret putting yourself before your work. Sleep is not more important than that ten page paper due tomorrow. Netflix is not more important than that group project. But your friend’s life crisis is more important than both of those. And your professor will most likely understand and be lenient toward the latter.

I’ve learned that you won’t get what you won’t ask for. And if you’re offered something and you say no, it won’t often be followed by “are you sure?” My freshman year I was sitting alone in my room, hungry and single. An attractive guy knocked on my door and offered me a donut and, because it was my knee-jerk reaction, I said, “no, thanks.” He shrugged and left, and I regret that interaction to this day. If I had said yes, at the very least I wouldn’t have been hungry anymore, and at most I could be planning a wedding of my own right now. Ah well.

I’ve learned that attraction is a bitch.

deal with it wile e coyote

I’ve learned that “Hi, I’m Kristen, I don’t know you,” is a perfectly acceptable way to start getting to know someone. (It actually led to a relationship. Who knew.)

I’ve learned that if you care about a person, that conversation is worth having.

I’ve learned that finding ways to decompress and de-stress is incredibly important. Stress is bad for your body and bad for your mind and, in the long term, bad for your productivity. Yoga is good, as is drawing/painting, and walking, and crocheting, and purposefully watching movies–none of this trying to multi-task homework and entertainment. Multi-tasking important things just hurts your brain and leads to less things getting done.

I’ve learned that needing alone time doesn’t make you a bad person. Extraverts don’t have to understand. But you need to try to explain it anyway.

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But don’t you want to hang out?! Nope.

I’ve learned that coffee is not a substitute for food.

I’ve learned that the world was designed for people much dumber than I am. No one wants me to fail, especially not at ordinary everyday tasks.

I’ve learned that you can’t fight over text. Well, I suppose you can, but it’s the exact opposite of productive.

Most of all, I’ve learned that communication is underrated. For goodness’ sake, don’t be passive aggressive. If you have a problem, address it. If you want something, ask for it. If someone is doing something good, tell them, even if it’s just a great choice of socks. If you want to talk to someone, talk to them. Don’t let fear keep you from saying hello. Don’t let a miscommunication turn into a fight or a ruined relationship.

College is about growing into a person. And I think I’ve learned that it’s acceptable just to be a good one.

This has been a PSA.

Frustration Is an Emotion, and a Persistent One at That

G is for GAH.

This word, while not being a commonly recognized Oxford English proper term, is one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t like how it looks, I don’t like that it’s not proper English, I don’t like that it’s overused. But the sentiment it expresses is one I am very, very familiar with. And its expression is unparalleled in any other word. GAH is halfway between a scream and a sigh; it’s the lexical equivalent of running both hands through your hair and trying not to rip it out by the roots. It is, at the moment, my constant state of mind.

GAH nicely either precedes or follows sarcasm–but it should never be used in a sarcastic sentence. (e.g. I love when someone I trust assumes half the things I say are lies. It gives me a feeling of joy exceeded only by said person lumping me in with everything and everyone he hates. GAH.)

GAH is a lovely substitute for actual words when you are frustrated beyond the point of being able to think in complete sentences. This can be caused by many things including, but not limited to, the complete and utter stupidity and relational impossibility of the person(s) you are talking to:

gah ryan renolds

when you screw something up beyond repair due to lack of information, lack of foresight, bad 2am decisions, or any number of reasons, or, as is more often the case, when said utter stupidity screws something up and you end up having to try unsuccessfully to fix it:

gah IT

a silent plea for supernatural intervention as you have reached your wits end and are unable to even comprehend anything beyond trying not to collapse in a frustrated, sobbing, undignified heap due to any number of overwhelming external irritants:

gah jake gyllenhal

being in an argument that someone else started and realizing that no matter what you do or say, they will stick with the story in their head despite how disassociated from reality it may be, and they will argue as though this is your fault:

gah brave

when you see the end of the path someone has started all of you on and you try to explain that this really will not end well because of reasons and experiences (a), (b), and (c), but they assure you again and again, with an irritated and condescending tone, that “it’s fine” and “you worry too much” and “goddamnit Kristen, we’ve been over this”:

gah rdj

(bonus points if it turns out you were right):

ed wood frustrated

and finally, when you realize that no matter what you do, you can only succeed as far as the people around you will let you succeed. Personal accomplishment means very little if it’s not validated in the real world, and more often than not, something (someone) will come along sooner or later to screw up every good thing you’ve worked for:

cameron frye

Cameron: [screams]

But you drudge on through the banality and frustrations of life and take joy from what you can until someone comes along and screws that up, too. GAH.

Eff It All

Well, the first week of my last semester of college has come and gone, and I’m resigning myself to the fact that my constant state of being for the next four months will be tired, stressed, and surviving. So, with that in mind,

F is for eff it.

As in, “Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” (If I were a book, it would be Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Or possibly Good Omens. Both wonderful reads. I’m not biased at all.)

As in, keeping up most relationships is more trouble than it’s worth.

As in, conversely, my plan to avoid all but like five people this semester is going terribly. I’ve had plans with different people every single night so far. And dare I say I’ve enjoyed it? I’m exhausted, sure, but I don’t like being alone. Might as well make the most of college. So my plan has changed. Rather than avoid everyone, I’ve resolved not to unduly dislike anyone. It’ll take some work, but I hope it’ll turn out worth it. If people want to be my friend, I might as well be theirs. I’m too tired to hold pointless grudges this semester. For the most part.

As in, I spent all day yesterday at a bridal show with my best friend and seeing that many happy couples made me want to vomit. If you had enough patience, a bridal show would be a great place to pick up chicks. Because all the single bridesmaids are there with their soon-to-be-married friends, surrounded by things meant for couples, and already used to writing their name and phone number on things. It’s pretty much foolproof. If only I could have run into the cute male model from the weirdly upbeat fashion show.

As in, I WANT TO BE DONE WITH MY THESIS.

As in, I’m supposed to have a writing portfolio completed in about three months and I have next to nothing that’s not the novel I’ve been writing since June. And I can’t decide if I care.

As in, a coffee addiction is only detrimental if your heart stops, right?

As in, my priorities this semester are having fun and getting thin, but everything is enough of a priority that they all have to get done. If everything is a priority, is anything? Is it possible for me to stay sane right now? I have my doubts.

As in, it’s much more fun to get organized than it is to do the things you just organized.

As in, caring about things takes too much effort. I’m not a robot, but I want to be. Life would be infinitely easier if I were as task oriented, practical, and emotionless as I pretend to be.

As in, I have no idea what I’m doing after graduation and it’s terrifying and I’m occasionally crippled by panic but I’m not actually worried about it.

As in, eff you.

As in, I don’t actually know how to say eff it and then follow through. Like the character in Dirk Gently’s Holisitic Detective Agency, my life is a constant cycle of this: “That was it. That was really it. She knew that she had told herself that that was it only seconds earlier, but this was now the final real ultimate it.” Until the next time.

As in, I can think the unthinkable. I can do the undoable. I can grapple with the ineffable itself. And we’ll see what comes of that.

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I Got a Tinder for Anthropological Purposes. This is What Happened.

One of my friends, ever the bad influence (just kidding–if you’re reading this, I love you) convinced me to download Tinder and make myself a profile. I’m a little too paranoid for full on online dating, but in this instance I decided what the hell. I included one picture from like three years ago and a sentence fragment of a bio, yet I still got a fair amount of matches. I learned some things, too. So here, in no particular order, are the things I learned while using Tinder.

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Ready?

So many people are named Mike, Nick, Matt, or Chris. At least 75% of the men I flicked through had one of those names. (On a related note, did you know that 84% of statistics are made up on the spot?) Okay, so I didn’t count, but the point is there were a lot. Maybe “Mike, Nick, or Chris” can be this generation’s “Tom, Dick, or Harry”? (Or “Tom, Dick, or Stanley,” if you’re more of a Disney buff than real human being. To be honest, that’s what I thought it was before I looked it up. It just has a nicer ring to it, don’t you think?)

Pictures of a man holding a fish while wearing a cutoff t-shirt are not very attractive. And are far, far too common. The same goes for four-wheelers, drunken poses and Red Solo Cups, hunting rifles, and cigars without a three-piece suit. The fact that you like craft beer and sports above all else is not even remotely interesting or attractive and, judging by the amount of people who claim it, possibly not true. I very much don’t want to see a picture of you with an ex-girlfriend, prom date, or bar hookup, and there is absolutely no point to having six other people in all of your pictures. How can I properly judge you by appearance alone if I don’t know which one is you?

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On the other hand, yes, your adorable golden retriever will make me more likely to swipe right, as will the cute child you’re playing with, as long as you specify it’s not yours. But that’s enough about generalizations and stereotypes. (I wonder if they’re different in different cities. Don’t know that I care enough to find out of my own accord.)

On a personal level, Tinder is a great confidence boost. No, really. I know you’re not supposed to get your self-worth from what other people think of you, but you can’t deny that sometimes it’s nice. Every time you get a match, a little part of your brain goes off, saying, “Hey! This person likes me!” And, while that not may be entirely true, at its barest form, you can say, “Hey! Look at all these attractive people who want to bang me!” (Thank you, Emma Stone, for letting me know that word was still relevant, at least circa 2011.)

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It’s also a great way to practice flirting. I had no intention of ever meeting anyone I met on Tinder, for multiple reasons. (All of which I will keep to myself, lest you judge me.) But that didn’t mean I couldn’t chat with anyone. I’ve been told I’m terrible at flirting. (Don’t feel bad; it’s true.) I even once had a friend take me to the mall with some of her friends so I could “practice flirting.” That turned out about as well as you would imagine. Honestly the only thing I remember from that day (aside from someone getting a date at a Wendy’s) is this comment: “Ooh, sass. Boys like sass. You know what else boys like? It rhymes with sass.” And then he winked. Words of wisdom to live by if I’ve ever heard any. So I figured Tinder would be a good way to practice flirting. After all, it wasn’t real.

Eventually I started swiping right on players and jerks, just because I thought it would be fun. If his bio contained the phrase “I usually won’t message first” or had anything cocky and disparaging to potential swipers, he was the one for me. My favorite was a body-builder who thought very highly of himself and demanded pick-up lines from anyone he matched with. I gave him a pick-up line (which to be honest, I’m not sure he fully understood), and then made a bet with my friend how many messages it would take for him to stop talking to me. Even without trying to sabotage it, I was right: three. He just didn’t understand the rare pleasure it was to be speaking with me. Hah. But this pattern repeated. I got pretty good at flirting over messaging, actually, so bonus. But I, for some reason, felt bad when I just stopped talking to them when I got bored. Maybe that means I still have a conscience?

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If you’ve stayed with me through this partial Tinder commercial, it all goes downhill from here. But I’ll pause for a confession first: I never actually swiped left or right. I couldn’t ever remember which was which, so I just hit the little heart or x, depending. Unless I dropped my phone and accidentally swiped one way or the other, which happened a few times. But I’ll continue to use the swiping terminology, because that’s what most people know. If you’re anything like me, right equals yes, left equals no. Oh, and confession number two: Yes, all of these gifs are going to be Emma Stone gifs, because she’s wonderful and lovely and I want to be her. Anyway.

Tinder is a cesspool. It’s a who’s who of the underside of humanity. With a lot more filtered pictures and bad pick-up lines.

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(Except this one. Because it fit.)

If you could take the concept of objectifying people, and boil it down to one of its most basic forms, you would end up with Tinder. You’re shown a picture or three of a person, maybe a few sentences describing their personality, character, likes, or dislikes, and asked whether or not you find them attractive enough to talk to and/or hook up with. A couple of the bios I found said something along the lines of “I don’t expect you to read this,” which made me indescribably sad. Are people really that shallow and pathetic? I refused to swipe right on someone until I read their bio. Even if they didn’t have a bio, that in itself said something about them, something that I needed desperately to know before agreeing to anything.

Anyway, if you both find each other attractive enough, you’re then subjected to stupid pick-up lines or infinite varieties of “hey.” Seriously, infinite. There’s the typical hi, hey, hello, sup. There’s the double, triple, quadruple y (i.e. heyyy). There are multiple pet names, all with varying degrees of familiarity and degradation. There’s the colonparenthesis, semicolonparenthesis. And emojis. So many emojis. And the cream of the crop? Well they mix and match these options and still somehow end up unoriginal. It’s pretty much magic.

So you get past the painful intro, the useless small talk, the “You like coffee? I like coffee!” and… there’s literally nothing else. Very, very few people were interested in having any sort of legitimate conversation. I would ask a question, hoping to maybe get to know someone or at least engage in some witty banter, and I would get some half-assed answer, a winky face, and maybe a “haha you?” So boring. I’m pretty sure the collective IQ and social ability of Tinder is the approximate size of a pile of dog crap. If Tinder had encouraged reaction gifs (and if anyone there had half the sense of humor they claimed to), I would have gotten this on a daily basis:

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But alas, people are not that creative. I would have actually appreciated the thought put into that one. I was talking to one guy (he had a kid; he accidentally slipped past my filtering system) and asking him about his life, about his kid. He responds to one of my questions with the completely unrelated statement, “I’d be good to be friends with benefits.” (That was me paraphrasing. The original was not nearly that grammatically correct.) But really? If there’s a lull in the conversation, maybe. If it actually addresses something I asked, sure. If you start with that, you’re awful, but okay. But to respond to a completely unrelated question?

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And, see, the worst part of all of this, to me, is that people do it voluntarily. If humanity was forced to sign up for this dating service as some kind of big brother mind control thing, then sure. But people legitimately think that it’s a good idea.  They make a profile with the pictures that flatter them the most (at least, I hope they do. I had my doubts for some of the profiles I came across), they do what they can to make themselves agreeable to strangers in a bite-sized piece, then say, “Hey! Catcall me! Hey! Judge me! Hey! Objectify me and reduce my life and emotions to how attractive you find me, agreeing to me not even as you would a piece of meat, but as you’d agree to take a flyer for a band you’ve never heard of forced on you by a stranger with too many piercings!”

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I think the idea was that people could present themselves as a fancy dish from a nice restaurant–pretty, unique, desirable, and in an incredibly small portion that leaves you wanting more. But they all come across more as a two-piece chicken nuggets or a Whopper with three bites already taken out of it: pointless and kind of gross. Do you remember that scene in Crazy, Stupid, Love where Steve Carell is trying to channel his inner Ryan Gosling and every time the woman tells him something, he cries, “BORING”? That’s what I felt like doing to almost every single person I talked to, and not even because I was trying anything. They were just legitimately boring. The most interesting guy I talked to, in his main picture, was wearing a bed sheet toga. I don’t know what that says about me, or humanity, but I don’t think it’s anything good.

Tinder is a fascinating idea, to be sure. It plays to the microwave generation’s need for immediacy, and it’s efficient. And the name is brilliant, really. Tinder: All you need is a spark. (I should work for their marketing department.) But it is the epitome of inauthenticity. The fact that it links to Facebook should have been my first clue, now that I think about it. There’s nothing real, nothing meaningful, nothing even remotely authentic. People are pictures and pick-up lines, no more. I didn’t take it at all seriously, but it still drained my energy, my happiness. I want to believe there are still good people in the world. Tinder gives you proof after proof that that’s not true, and you have to constantly remind yourself that this is only a lonely and pathetic subset of the population, not exactly the winners, the stars, the stand-up citizens. It’s seriously exhausting.

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I didn’t even really learn to flirt. I picked up a few phrases and emoji placements that work better than others, but nothing incredibly helpful. The slightly degrading, sort of flirtatious phrases and pet names were a crowd favorite (e.g. oh come now, darling) and a properly placed winking kiss emoji can make anything tempting. But that’s not a lot of help when I come across an attractive man in a Barnes&Noble. Still totally clueless there.

emma stone bad flirting.gif

Actual picture of me flirting.

All this to say, don’t get a Tinder. Even if you don’t take it seriously, it just shows you how awfully sad humanity can be, the depths it’ll sink to if given the chance. If you want a date, go to a coffee shop, a bookstore, a bar. Be original. Be interesting. Be authentic. Treat people like they’re human beings, like they’re worthy of time, effort, and respect.

But if you’re just looking for a meaningless hookup and you don’t think you’re attractive enough to find one at a bar, by all means, use Tinder. But whatever you do, keep it classy.

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Here, There, and Everywhere in Between

It’s amazing how quickly the brain blocks out unpleasant memories.  Three days, a week later, and most of the bad memories are gone, leaving only good ones.  Now I’m not talking about traumatic experiences, just little things–getting up at the crack of dawn every day, sweating out your body weight, loneliness, arguments, stress, lack of caffeine, etc.  It must be some kind of coping or survival mechanism that the body has–leaving only good memories so that you want to go on surviving.  Or maybe it’s like in the BBC Sherlock, when Sherlock doesn’t remember that the earth revolves around the sun because it’s not relevant to what he’s doing.  Maybe we don’t remember little bad things like that because they’re not important or relevant to what we’re doing.  The human mind is a fascinating thing.  But anyway, I digress.

I just got back from traveling (twice–but it had only been once when I started this post).  The first was a missions trip to one of the poorest parts of North Carolina.  We stayed in a church surrounded by a cemetery with ashes in the walls–didn’t learn that last part until I got home, thankfully–and did repair work on local homes and churches.  It was a youth missions trip (aptly called the Youth Service Project–YSP) that my sister’s youth group goes on every year.  (Psst.  She’s in charge of it.  It’s like I have friends in high places or something.)  This was my second year going and it was pretty great.  I learned new skills with power tools, killed my fair share of bugs, was up on a roof for the first time that I can remember, and made friends.  All of which are somewhat out of my comfort zone.  As an aside, shout out to whomever created wasp and hornet spray.*  You’re the bee’s knees.

I don’t really know what to say about the trip past that.  It had its upsides and downsides, just like everything in life.  Looking back, I remember it fondly (see first paragraph), but it did have its iffy moments.  I didn’t know a whole lot of people on the trip very well (I wasn’t just meeting them, so it’s not like I was the new kid that everyone wanted to meet, but I didn’t know them well enough to just join in whatever they were doing, either) and socializing isn’t really my strong suit, so I spent a lot of the trip just talking to my sister and her in-laws.  One of the days I ended up hanging out solely with the adults on the trip.  (And I mean “adult” as in leader–not as in over eighteen.  Just to be clear.)  None of this was that bad, they’re all cool people; I just suppose I was mad at myself for not being more social and not being able to just enter into a conversation with the people I really wanted to talk to.**  I’m almost positive people would have talked to me had I just started talking.  It’s a constant struggle.  Plus, of course, there was the whole constant-lack-of-sleep thing.  I wasn’t a fan of that.  It didn’t really help my inability to socialize, either.  I can barely bring myself to talk to people when well-rested and fully caffeinated.  One of the nights I ended up making a paper swan in my room.  I was talking to someone while I did it, though.  So, progress.

The scenery was excellent, though.

The second trip was a trip to Chicago with my parents.  That was fun.  I love traveling and seeing new places.  We waited over two hours to go to the top of Sears Tower (which is not technically its name, but Chicagoans still refer to it as that, so “when in Rome” and all that), which frankly didn’t look much different from the top of the Empire State Building.  Most cities look the same from up that high.  But I did get this cool picture:

That’s my feet.  And my mother’s feet.  Way up above Chicago.

Anyway, cities are cities.  I personally fall on the NYC side of the NYC/ Chicago debate, but both cities have their merit.  The Chicago Tribune building was cool.  Apparently the person in charge way back when told his employees that he wanted parts of famous places.  His employees, fearing they would lose their jobs if they didn’t comply, went out and (most likely) stole pieces of famous buildings and monuments.  So now all those pieces are embedded in the building.  There’s a brick from the Great Wall of China, parts of Greek temples, pieces from buildings all over the USA, and apparently even a moon rock, among other things, although I didn’t see that.

Seeing that building might have been my favorite part of the trip.  Although a close second is a little tea cafe that we went to a few times.  I love cafes.  It’s on my bucket list to do a bookstore and cafe tour of the US, just asking the baristas to make me whatever they think is the best drink.  I did that both times I was at the tea cafe, and neither drink disappointed.  Granted, they weren’t my favorite, but they were still pretty good.  It’s hard to screw up tea.  Oh, I almost forgot.  We also saw the Blue Man Group.  That was my favorite part of the trip, hands down.

I got a signature!  Well, sort of.

We tried to go to Navy Pier for fireworks.  Whoever thought that was a good idea was very, very wrong.  There were so. many. people.  I don’t do crowds.  Checking the news later, apparently about 125,000 people were there.  Maybe more.  The pier reached capacity at 7:00pm and the police weren’t letting anyone else in.  There were crowds on top of crowds outside the pier trying to get in.  The fireworks weren’t scheduled to start until 9:30pm.  We left early.  It was probably one of the best decisions we made during the three days we were there.

I love traveling.  I do.  But traveling also teaches me that I love being home.  So my list of places I’ve yet to go is still incredibly long, but I appreciate the time I spend sitting in my living room writing, too.  Here’s to many more travels and a comfortable home.

This picture doesn’t really have anything to do with anything.  But I took it in North Carolina.

*I tried looking up who this person was, but I learned that there are far more types of insecticides than I could have ever imagined.  The only name I could find in my somewhat brief internet search was Paul Müller, who created DDT, but I figured I didn’t want to give him a huge shout out because he wasn’t the first (even though he did win a Nobel Prize in 1948) and because, you know, birds and PETA and stuff.  Although I suppose DDT was better than the arsenic and lead used before it.  So here’s just a general shout out to anyone who had anything good to do with insecticides.  If anyone knows who the original creator was–if there even was an original creator–let me know.  (For more information on the many types of insecticides and what they all do, visit the wikipedia page here.)

**I know you’re not supposed to end sentences with prepositions.  But for the sake of clarity, and because I’m feeling lazy, I’m going to do it anyway.  I just thought you should know that I know what I’m doing, before all you grammar sticklers start twitching.

I’m Being a Rebel and Not Writing About Mother’s Day

Okay, I lied.  Brief bit about Mother’s Day: I was planning on cleaning the house after my parents went to bed, but it’s midnight and my dad still hasn’t gone to bed.  And I’m starting to get tired.  Darn it.

Anyway, in the spirit of doing nice things, I thought I’d talk about love languages.  Wow, I sound like a talk show host or something–but a really lame one.  My dad brought to my attention the other day that a person can “speak” and “hear” different love languages.  I suppose this isn’t quite as revolutionary of an idea as it struck me at the time, but it’s interesting.  It also provides quite a problem in looking to not offend people.  I generally just assume that if a person gives a lot of hugs, then they’d want a lot of hugs in return.  But maybe that’s not actually the case.  Maybe the person who gives a lot of hugs wants to be told she’s pretty in return.  But how on earth would someone not super close to her figure that out?  I don’t generally like to ask questions unless I have some idea of an answer to them, but I have no idea in this case.  People are not my strong point, not my specialty.  For as much people watching as I do, I don’t understand them.  I’m getting better, but it’s a struggle.

You’re Not on My Mind, You Were Just at That One Thing Once

I think my biggest problem here is going to be not writing about people.  You might think, “Why is that a problem?  Just don’t write about them, duh,” but it’s not like that.  My life is marked by the interactions I have with people.  I don’t remember events as much as I remember the people who were with me.  And if people are going to read this blog (which I hope one day they will), then I can’t very well write about my best friends or the people I hated in high school.  I can’t even really tell stories about people, because whoever is in the story will know.  I don’t think I’ll be able to escape it completely–after all, the people around me shape how I see life–but I’ll do my best.  Just know, if you recognize yourself in any of my writing, that there are no three-layer deep messages or meanings, and you’re no more special than anyone else.  I probably just thought the story was interesting enough to write about.  Please don’t make judgments about me or anyone else, and if I write about you and you want me to take it down or take you out of it, then just let me know.  Don’t secretly hate me then spit in my drink next time you see me or something.  That wouldn’t be nice.