College 2.0

I’ve always really liked going to school. I never got the best grades, but when it was something I was interested in, I was there. That’s sort of the tricky part, isn’t it–when it was something I was interested in. I’ve come to notice how important it is for passion to drive you. When I was studying for my undergraduate, I really enjoyed all the reading and writing I did. I liked being creative, using that creativity in my work and studies, and ultimately not dreading every waking moment of my college career. The thing was, writing wasn’t hard. It never really presented a challenge for me. My studying amounted to re-reading passages in different works of literature which I could use in during an open-ended essay exam. Ambiguity is a beautiful thing. In the literary world, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s all about relevance.

Upon graduating, I had high hopes for getting my ass in gear. I was going to get a job! Gasp! And I did, just not in my “field”–which honestly, what is my field? I can read, that’s for damn sure. But no one is going to pay you to sit around and read books all day…and if they are, where can I find them? In all seriousness, the ambiguity of literature is as much a blessing as a curse. That ambiguity begins to create a problem in the job market. It’s this weird, uncomfortable gray area–a degree in English can take you so many directions, but which do you follow? Where do you go? You have no specific skill set, nor did you learn a specific set of traits. To the job market, your ambiguity is a risk. Most times, those risks are better off…un-risked? There is no experience behind reading and writing; most people assume everyone can do it, which is certainly NOT the case. But most people can get by with it, which is the truly unfortunate thing.

This ambiguity is the reason I have been serving and bartending for the last 2+ years. I’m really not all that ashamed to say it, because I make great money for what I do. Yes, the connotations that come with it are what they are–that we are lesser because we work to serve others. But it’s so much more. When you eliminate all the negative people who enjoy being genuinely unhappy, the job isn’t so bad (As much as I want to bad mouth every disgusting person who every bitched me out because of their food, or experience within a restaurant, I won’t….because I could go on, and on, and on…..). It’s a way to get by, a way to survive. And for me, it’s actually been what has led me to the next step in my life!

Since January, I’ve been working out steadily. I get up, have my little wakeup routine, get dressed, drink my pre-workout, and hit the gym. I usually go 3-4 times a week, depending on my work schedule. It makes me feel so so so so so much better, physically and mentally. I helps me relieve some stress, without even noticing I’m doing it. I feel more determined, more motivated since I’ve kept it up. I’ve never really dreaded being there, and if I wasn’t feeling it, I left. No point in ruining it for myself. But that’s besides the point…and is better left to another post.

Taking all of this into consideration, I will be going back to school to get my degree in Sport and Exercise Studies. There are a few certificate programs you can take in addition to the degree so you are qualified for different branches within the field. I can pursue Personal Training, Physical Education, etc. Since starting this fitness journey, I’ve really grown to love exercising and learning what my body can do. I am amazed every day how I am able to push myself and physically see the results. It’s unlike any other feeling–there is no ambiguity just pure, natural results. It’s amazing, and I am so excited to start this next step in my journey!

 

 

~whatever forever~

 

L

Farm Fest

So this weekend was my first ever Farm Fest. A friend of mine owns some farm land a little ways south of here, and every year he hosts Farm Fest–a weekend of hiking, camping, drinking, shooting guns, and driving around on old tractors. It’s a Midwest queen’s greatest dream! IMG_2116

As a first timer, I have to say there is nothing quite like the farm. There’s no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms. Your only call to wake up is the sun shining into your tent. Campfires burn late into the evening, and the Miller Lite flows endlessly. You’re really out there in it. Of course we bring generators and gallons of water, and TP, you know, the essentials.

Yes, we like to think of Farm Fest as just a reason to get fucked up around a fire and do dumb shit. And yes, that’s a pretty accurate assumption of the weekend. But it’s so much more than that–at least for me.

As someone who’s never been a huge camper, it was something a little out of my element. But as the weekend drew closer and we headed down south, I grew more and more excited. I couldn’t wait to sit by the fire, hike, drink some beers, and have a genuinely wonderful and peaceful time. I am so happy to say that I did.IMG_2115

There’s something, obviously, relaxing about camping or being out in nature. We were probably an hour, at least, from the closest “big” city. There were no street or city lights to obscure our view. I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen the stars as beautiful and bright, as they were on the farm. Stepping out into that cold morning air, looking up, it almost takes your breath away. I am not lying, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. I suppose it’s like looking out over the Grand Canyon, wondering how does something like this actually exist? But it does, and it’s all around us.IMG_2123

I’m constantly working and moving non-stop. I always have to be doing something. I so rarely take the time to just live in the moment. You know, stop and smell the roses? Sorta like that. Except I don’t take the time to stop and smell the exhaust that is coming out of me. It’s always go, go, go, go, work, work, work, work. There is time for play, but play centers around working and going and just always moving. The farm allowed me to rest, to disconnect, to spend time with people who are just genuinely good people.

It’s important to recognize when your body needs a little R & R. Whether that’s actual rest and relaxation, or maybe you’re spending your week away from the city and all that drives you crazy. Whatever it is, make time for it. Get away, disconnect, forget about the problems and the troubles that taunt you day-to-day. Take some time, forget those things, and spend time focusing on what you like to do, or want to do. Give yourself a little vacation, and enjoy life and the world around you.

Glad tidings.

L

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Ms. Clean

Ok, guilty pleasure time. I love cleaning. It’s a secret love/hate sorta thing. I hate doing it when it’s absolutely necessary but eventually I just get the urge and I do it all at once–very meticulously, might I add.

Over the weekend I was sorta out-of-commission. I came down with a cold or a sinus infection..whatever it was, it sucked. I’ve been feeling almost better since that but I just can’t get over the congestion. So! My solution to feeling better was to clean everything.

Like I said, I love cleaning. It makes me feel better. Sometimes I listen to music and tidy up, put clothes away, things of that nature. Other time I put on the big, yellow gloves and get down on my hands and knees–nitty and gritty. It’s not all that often, but it’s often enough. I believe the way a persons house is kept, in all the business that life brings is a real tell-tale sign of who they are. There are those people who are total slobs (I’m recalling a really great episode of FRIENDS right now…). There are those who are clean, but cluttered. Finally, there are the neat freaks, the vacuum every day freaks, the disinfectant queens. Listen, the dog hair doesn’t bother me. The dishes are done every other day, at least. If I’m not having people over, why can’t I just live?!?!

That’s besides the point. Every once in a while, the home requires a thorough cleaning. You throw things away, rearrange furniture, de-clutter closets, sort through old clothes, coats and shoes. It just feels good, you know. Like somehow you’re aligning your life by hanging all your t-shirts in the same direction in your closet. It’s freakin’ amazing!

Mentally, I think it should be something everyone forms as a habit. Weekly, daily, or throughout the days, de-clutter yourself. Find those things you’re holding onto for silly reasons and let them go. If you haven’t worn it, donate it. If you’ve paid it, shred it. Recycle. Donate. Get rid of the things holding you down.

It feels better when you let all the junk go.

Because then, you know, you can go get all new junk! That’s the best part. 😉
~ whatever forever ~

L

Workin’ on that fitness..

So far, I’ve written about writing, reading, growing up, job interviews….whatever. Pretty much everything, basically.

WELL, there is one thing I have yet to touch on…and that is fitness.

Recently, I’ve become a fit freak. Like, go to the gym three or four or five days a week, freak. I go for about an hour every day, or every other day, and lift weights, do some cardio, and admire my booty in the mirrors because damn I am proud of it, okay? Okay.

I’ve always been thin-ish with an athletic build. I used to tell myself that I had the body of a twelve-year-old boy. I’m sort of a stick straight, up and down kinda gal, with a little junk in the trunk. Because of this, I spent a lot of my teenage years being insecure about my small chest, broad shoulders, and lack of curves. I wanted to look like the tall, bodacious models that graced the cover of every Victoria’s Secret catalog–I wanted their long legs and slim torso with flat abs and curves and hips. But at a whopping 5’4….my body would, and will, never see the likes of that.

It took me a long time to realize that everyone’s body is different. And different is beautiful. When I started back to the gym in February, I decided against doing any type of cardio. I’ve seen those girls. I do not envy those girls. Fuck, I don’t even want to be those girls!! Sweating over the monotonous tempo of an elliptical while watching old re-runs of Law & Order: SVU (okay, so maybe I’m envious of that). I don’t know about you but that sounds terrible. Instead, I decided to start out with weights. I liked the challenge, it didn’t bore me, and I didn’t have to spend thirty minutes sweating my ass off to feel like I accomplished something.

* I just want to add that I am not claiming that cardio does not have it’s time and place when it comes to working out…I just fucking hate it, so I don’t do it. *

It took about three months for me to really see a change in my body, but when I did, it was an amazing feeling. My muscles looked mean. I looked like a badass. I carried myself differently, more confidently. I wasn’t afraid to get into the weight room with a bunch of dudes around me. I started to realize that the other people at the gym don’t give a shit what you’re doing. They’re in their own world, battling their own dysmorphia. It’s now October, eight months after I’ve started, and I feel like a damn goddess. This is how women should feel, every day. I wake up in the morning and I love what I see. Sure,there are days where I am an elephant and my arms are too flabby and my stomach is a prego food baby..whatever. We all have those days. But aside from that–ahem–one week of the month, I feel great. And I’m not ashamed of it!

But, here’s the catch. I don’t feel great because I am skinny (I HATE that word). I feel great because I feel fit. I don’t want to be skinny. I want to be fit, I want to be strong, I want to be dedicated, and I want that dedication to shine. It’s a lot of work to go to the gym. You have to do the most embarrassing looking things in front of complete strangers. You have to sweat, and groan, and fall down. You have to lift things that are heavy, and push yourself off the ground. You stink, your workout faces are ugly, and you most likely have calluses on your hands. But you must get back up. And when you go to sleep at night, there is something comforting about the hard work. It just feels good.

Going to the gym now is the highlight of my day. And sometimes it’s a good day and I walk away feeling pleased with myself. Sometimes it’s a bad day, and instead of just chalking it up as a loss, I make up for it before I leave. I do something to push myself harder. I make that bad workout just a little better. It’s made me stronger mentally and physically. It’s given me so much more confidence when it comes to day-to-day challenges. My anxiety levels are even much lower–I don’t find myself in a nervous panic as often.

And sure, I understand that fitness and exercise isn’t for everyone. But if you’re waiting for the motivation to come….it won’t. You have to stop waiting and just go do it! Don’t be afraid, don’t be nervous, and don’t feel gymtimidated. Hey, as long as you’re there, you’re one step towards a better you.

Eat clean, train mean.

Pick heavy things up and put them down.

~ whatever forever ~

L

Objection!

–my favorite part of any SVU episode…the courtroom is quiet, the defense is building their narrative, the air is tense, electricity begins to pulse as the inquiry proves to be true….OBJECTION!

Overruled…

If you’ve never binge-watched an entire season of Law & Order: SVU, on USA network, from 10 am until 10 pm….you’re missing out on life! Actually, you’re probably out living your life…but if you have found yourself sick, disheveled, hungover, etc. etc…then really what else is there to do? Remember, the couch is your friend…and Elliot Stabler is a DILF!

But seriously–let’s get to the point. A few months ago I started (finally) listening to the Serial podcast. I was instantly hooked. Then, I stumbled upon the Undisclosed podcast. Now, not as many people have heard of Undisclosed. It’s not quite a follow-up to Serial, and is actually in no way affiliated with Serial other than the interest in the Adnan Syed case. It’s put on by three lawyers, one of which is a close personal friend, or family friend, to Syed. It takes Serial deeper, looks into the discrepancies of the case, and breaks the State’s narrative wide open. It’s awesome.

SO, and I know this is a little out there, from this I’ve drawn an almost solution to my grown up problem. I’m sort of at this purgatory where I’ve got to either shit or get off the pot. I’m going to be 25 in about a month, I’m still working at (two!) restaurants–serving and bartending–and that’s all I’m really doing. I graduated two years ago and am sort of at a really weird place. I finally decided that in a year, so this time 2016, if I am still working in the service industry, I would go back to school. I always decided that if, or when, I went back to school I would study Library and Information Sciences. It’s a popular MA at my alma mater and it seemed up my alley. Technology!? Organization!? Books!??? Sign me up!

But, recently–and I mean like….within the last 3 days–I have come to consider law school as an option. Now, this is very preliminary and I have not even looked at any information about it or getting in or anything! But, it’s just an option. Something a little out of my comfort zone, but I find that when I just go for it, things tend to not be so daunting.

I have another interview on Monday for an Associate Editor position at a company I’ve interviewed with before. I’m really excited, and also really happy that they remembered me enough to consider me for a different job months later….hell yeah!

I’m keeping my options open and being optimistic. How’s that for a Friday spirit??!

~ whatever forever ~

L

What I Have Come to Learn About Words

It’s no mystery to those around me that I love to read. I am a reader. It’s the first thing I like to bond with people over. I love offering up new book selections, sharing my favorites–and not so favorites–with others, and I love love LOVE when someone (who isn’t a big reader) finishes a book and wants to share it with me! There’s something about reading that’s romantic–it’s a lost art. I’m not saying that there still aren’t huge numbers of people who can just sit down and read, but in this day and age, with iPhones and iPads and booze and jobs, it’s hard to find time or even the energy, to just sit down and focus.

My favorite times to read–especially when it’s a great book, are in the afternoons, outside, sunning my legs or curled under a blanket in the early morning. I also love to read before bed–and hallelujah for my iPad because it is the BEST THING EVER when it comes to reading before bed. And that’s coming from someone who has literally refused technology-aged reading practices up until about a year ago. I’m weird, WHATEVER.

But, more than I love reading and a good story–I love the writing. As a writer (wannabe writer, poser, faker, amateur, etc.) there is a thing I have…and that thing is for words. Like, some people really like keeping their house organized or drinking tea or whateverthefuck they enjoy, but my thing is words. I love words. I love writing words–I am a huge handwritten notes and ideas kind of girl. I just love them. I love the way words sound together, I love the way writers say thing so beautifully and all you want to do is just read it–a sentence, a paragraph, a whole book–over and over and over and over again. Maybe it’s not even about something that is relevant to the story, or to my life, but I just get so hung up on them!! Beautiful, lovely words. Like, for example, the beginning of Grapes of Wrath, when Steinbeck is describing the texture and the essence of the decaying land in California….like OH MY GOD IT’S JUST SO BEAUTIFUL. How….HOW, how do you do that? How do you find those words?! I mean, I know how…he’s a fucking writer that’s how…and a far better writer than some of the crap that’s churning out now, but like….I just…..I literally can’t. That kind of beautiful prose just stops me in my tracks. I love it. It makes me think. It makes me pause…and anything that can make me pause is something worth consideration.

It’s when I read these beautiful excerpts of prose, or witty banter like Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please, discussing pregnancies and empowerment of women, that make me remember why I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Whether it’s a book, or a poem, or a blog–like this one–that pause, that moment of enlightenment, that shared love for words and beautiful creations that come from them…those are my moments. Those are the times I remember why I became and English major, and why I spent so much time studying words and grammar and fiction and creative writing and nonfiction and African American Women’s Studies. It’s not even the stories–I mean it is–but it’s that flawless creation of something so simple and so beautiful. A perfect string of consonants and syntax and, and…whatever! Writers that can do it, can just do it. Steinbeck, Hemingway, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood…they can all just do it. Read one of their stories and tell me that it isn’t some of the most beautiful speech and use of language that you’ve ever heard. I challenge you.

So, I guess….that is my message today….? That I love to read and I love words……. wait, what?

I guess what I’m really saying is to read more. And really read. Look into the words on the page. Focus on what the writer is really saying, why he or she chose those words, and what those words and those sentences and all of that beautifully constructed prose do for the story as a whole. Stories can be good without great writing…because writing can just be good. It can be what the story needed it to be. But writing can also be great. It can be moving, and beautiful, and it can bring you to tears. So give it a shot. Read, and look deeper into the words.

~ whatever forever~

L

Finding the Way

So, a few weeks ago I posted about loving the one you’re with. I have since deleted that post because, well, the one I love I am no longer with. Ahhhh the dreaded breakup. Inevitable in some situations, and after all the things Adam and I went through….it unfortunately was not able to be fixed. Partly, and mostly, it was my fault. I’ll admit it. Sure, there were things each person did wrong, whatever. But when it comes down to it…yeah…definitely my fault.

I wish, wholeheartedly, that things could have been different. In fact, I wish I could just pull my head out of my ass and be happy. But things don’t usually work that way and your brain doesn’t cooperate and shit just hits the fan…in a figurative way, of course. Ew. I won’t go into detail, because our relationship is just that…ours. There’s no way to explain the things we felt about each other, or things we didn’t feel, or what made us angry and happy and sad and all of those together at the same time.

What I have learned, or sort of learned, is that sometimes love isn’t the answer. You can love someone and still not be happy with them. And maybe that’s just me getting into my head too much. But I’ve come to understand that you can love someone, and miss them and wish that they were around you still or however you want to put it, but still not want to be with them. And sometimes you just need time alone. You need to gather, to collect, to bring yourself into some perspective. Especially when life is throwing you curveballs and you just can’t seem to play the game. It’s frustrating to have a relationship depending on one person being so structured and have their shit mostly together, and the other one is struggling to catch up. Life isn’t always going to be perfect and things are definitely not always going to go as planned. Life is stressful. Relationships are stressful. And sometimes dealing with that stress is better handled alone…or so I am trying to tell myself.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake. Maybe I’ll never meet someone who will love me the way Adam did, or does. And maybe I will never be as happy with someone. Well, then I guess that’s my mistake and my lesson to learn from. But maybe there is. Or maybe I’ll realize that I enjoy being alone, and that I enjoy doing this whole life-thing on my own or without someone to depend on. It’s the depending on someone else that gets me the most. You cannot depend on other people to make you happy. You have to be happy with everything in your life before you can be happy with someone else. Work, life, relationships–those all cause unhappiness. And if you’re unhappy with more than one, hell even just one, it’s a recipe for disaster. I hate to say it, but it’s just the way it is.

So I guess my lesson today is to find your own way. Throw your own curveballs. Fight your own demons. But be happy. Search for happiness.

~whatever forever~

L