Month: August 2014

Thursday Three: Much Needed Color

Welcome to another rousing edition of Thursday Three. This week has been strange and stressful, but I’m trying to look at the positives.

1. Nail polish is easy to take for granted. Working in a food service industry, I wasn’t allowed to wear nail polish. I don’t get my nails done, and I rarely buy expensive polishes (unless we’re talking topcoat, in which case, take all my money), but when I read in the code of conduct that I could not longer paint my nails, a little part of me died. Initially, I didn’t think it would be a big deal, thinking I could paint my nails on my days off. A fantasy world really—I’d never have more than one day in a row off. And the idea of putting myself together enough to put on nail polish for less than 24 hours seemed useless. But one of the little joys in quitting my job is realizing I can wear it all I want. So tonight I treated myself to a personal manicure. Because their must be tiny victories.

2. Optimism is difficult. This morning things were going great. I baked brownies from scratch, I made some veggies patties, I even cooked some tomato sauce. I wanted to use up my produce before it went bad, and it was a great track—I was the kitchen master. But just as quickly, things went downhill. I missed the final delivery of a prescription cat food because a (well-meaning) neighbor brought my signed door tag inside. While on the phone with FedEx I burned (and ruined) my tomato sauce. After finished a load of laundry, I walked in on one of the cats licking the top of my homemade brownies! The positive attitude of the morning quickly fell off. I no longer had everything together—I was barely holding on. I don’t have a job, I’ve gotten three rejections today alone, I can’t make my resume look good: I’m USELESS. I had to remind myself, repeatedly, that a few bad things in my day would not color the rest of it. Bad things happen, but I don’t have to let them control me.

3. Stir crazy is real. I’ve been in this apartment (for 24 straight hours a day) for well over a month. I don’t have any expendable money, so I rarely go out with friends. Any trip outside is to the grocery store or for a run—I don’t interact with people. And the emails from potential employers that begin “We regret to inform you…” are starting to make me nuts. So I’m giving myself a leave of absence. I can apply to jobs and write from anywhere (the magic of the internet). I’m running away. I’m going to spend a little while with my sister in Cincinnati because a change of scenery will do me good. Sometimes you just have to take a chance on your well-being. Hopefully the field trip helps.

What have you learned this week? Can a bit of color change your outlook?

Oh My Gosh, Look at Her Butt

Last Friday, after a optimistic Wednesday run, I dragged myself through another Couch to 5K regiment, landing at a miserable 11-minute mile pace. I rocked out, threw my fists around, mouthed the words to the song (as is now, apparently, my custom), and still my feet sort of slid along the pavement. My ankles hurt, my thighs hurt, my calves hurt. I did my favorite move, the is-she-running-at-all-or-just-kind-of-walking-and-moving-her-arms-awkwardly? Three minutes of running seemed like a feat initially, and after a nice, endorphin-filled Wednesday, Friday came like a sucker punch. Maybe the weather was too much, maybe I didn’t try hard enough. But when I got home and saw the 11:09 pace (after bragging about my 9:48 on Wednesday), I questioned just how useful this whole thing would be. If I’m running at a walking pace, what is the point?

Monday brought a regiment I audibly laughed at when I saw it. Run for three minutes, walk for one and half, run for five minutes, walk for two and a half. REPEAT.

Constance, babe, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? I could barely drag my sad legs through two sets of three minutes, you want me to run for 16 minutes now? Ok, cool. Great. Can I do that thing in Mario Kart time trials where I just sort of watch my ghost do the race? Is that ok? I’ll cheer on the see-through version of myself from this curb.

I took the dance-run tactic to a new extreme. I put Nicki Minaj on shuffle, and let her angry, dirty raps kick me into gear. The first stop (no shame): Anaconda.

Have all the issues you want with Nicki, but as a running companion, her take-no-prisoners attitude was extremely useful. There is something hilarious, stupid and freeing about mouthing “oh my gosh, look at her butt, oh my gosh, look at her butt, look at her butt.” And when I’m running, I can totally live in the fantasy world that I am, in fact, talking about my own butt. Because my headphones are loud, and I’m alone, and I look ludicrous, and for a few seconds I can pretend to have a big butt. Really, is that the most embarrassing thing I’ve done today? Not likely.

Next in the playlist was Bang Bang.

The beat is fun and peppy (did I seriously just write that?), and there are several moments in the song where it builds up, psyching you up run a bit faster. Right before the chorus, I actually started sprinting. Not for long (maybe five seconds), but on the second rep of five minutes of running, I needed something to clear my head from the “you suck, you suck, we can’t breathe, we should just stop now,” and pushing myself to sprint the block did just that. Dear brain, our legs just pounded that pavement, so you can shut up, now. We can sprint in the middle of a run. So sit down.

Am I listening to these songs for their musical quality? Not so much. But is a powerhouse female playlist helpful? Is there something awesome about having these straight talking women as running partners? It certainly doesn’t hurt.

Monday’s 9:38 pace and today’s 9:41 pace prove there is something to their madness.

How to Feel Classy When You Have No Money

Are you unemployed? Do you have a limited (or no) income? Do you reject the idea that people should know that you have no money? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m here to tell you how to feel special as your bank account dwindles.

First of all, put a bra on. No one takes a woman seriously if she hasn’t even put a bra on today. Change out of your pajamas—maybe even put on a skirt. As part of the “fake it ’til you make it” regiment, dressing the part has a huge impact on your point of view. You may no longer have direct deposit, but you’ve got a pencil skirt. Wear it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to drink. You may not have enough money anymore to buy $20 bottles of wine on a weekly basis, but you can’t afford to look cheap. That’s why you’ve got the white wine spritzer.

Trader Joe’s sells boxes of cheap (and not horrible) Chardonnay at $10.99 a pop. Buy yourself one. Not only are you getting over three bottles of wine for the price of one low-end wine, you’re going to water it down anyway, so the taste doesn’t really matter. From Target (or any other chain grocery store) purchase a 10-pack of La Croix seltzer water (preferably a complimentary flavor—I chose mango, but I’ve noticed passion fruit and even lime work well). Most white wine spritzers call for club soda or even ginger ale, but we’re cheap, so we’re taking a step down. Add half a glass of chardonnay, half La Croix, a handful of ice, and a few berries (if you’re extra cheap, frozen berries work just as well—I used fresh blueberries), and call it a day. Voila—class in a cup.

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After you’ve made your white wine spritzer, set the mood. You’re wearing a pencil skirt after all, you can’t listen to just anything. Billie Holiday radio is a wonderful start, and most sites offer it for free if you don’t mind the ads. iTunes has a pretty good catalogue, Spotify is weak, and Pandora is fairly consistent. If you’re struggling with Billie (which, who are you? GET OUT) other choices include Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, or Mildred Anderson (if you’re feeling particularly melodramatic, “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” is wonderful). More contemporary artists are Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, or (the classics) Michael Bublé and Norah Jones. The one things to keep in mind when you’re classing it up? Jazz is not an option. You cannot replace it with Mumford and Sons or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It is a nonnegotiable. (Unless, of course, you’re replacing it with Nicki Minaj, which I probably couldn’t argue.) 

Next, make yourself a meal. BudgetBytes is a great place to start (last night I made the Southwest Mac ‘N Cheese), but Pinterest is also full of classy recipes on the cheap. In fact, for the most part, cooking for yourself is pretty cheap. Is eating homemade truffle butter every night cheap? Not so much. But canned foods are hidden well in pantries, and if you want to class it up a bit, the lovely gentlemen at Sorted Foods make high end cooking easy and impressive. It’s all in the presentation. Work hard in the kitchen, feel classy.

Finally, spend the rest of your evening reading. Best way to read extensively? The library (argue that you’re supporting local nonprofits—without you, we’d lose all of our libraries!). Almost every county library has an online catalogue that makes it easy to search and request almost any book, usually available at your local library within a week. Not so big on reading? Many big cities (Minneapolis included) are part of an audiobook sharing program that makes downloading an audiobook for free to your iPhone or Android easy and painless. Just enter your library number, download the OverDrive app, and start listening. If your library isn’t quite with the times, podcasts are a great way to keep learning while you’re cleaning, or driving or riding the bus (shhhhh—we don’t do that! We have Uber!). Some of my favorites include This American Life, RadioLab, The Moth, The TED Radio Hour and The New Yorker Fiction podcast. Remember, you want to exude a sense of intelligence and cultural prowess, and getting in touch with NPR never hurt anybody.

And remember, class is a state of mind. Exude it enough, people have to believe you sooner or later. Good luck!

Your Next Binge Watch: Teen Wolf

It has a beautifully campy premise: not-so-popular lacrosse player (Tyler Posey) and bumbling best friend (Dylan O’Brien) wander into the forest at night. Not-so-popular boy gets bitten by some strange animal (THERE HAVEN’T BEEN WOLVES IN CALIFORNIA IN 30 YEARS, SCOTT), and slowly discovers he’s turning into a werewolf—terrible sideburns and all.

As a loose remake of the 1980s movie of the same name, Teen Wolf greatly surpasses the original (which, I’ll admit, I haven’t seen), except, perhaps in the make-up department.

Is there a word to describe something well past mutton chops?

The first season is corny and hard to watch at times (some of the acting is far lower than subpar), but an appreciation of Dylan O’Brien (the bumbling best friend, Stiles), the on-point plot pacing, and the copious amounts of teen drama make it worth the watch.

In the vein of Gossip Girl, Teen Wolf is fleshed out with a painfully beautiful cast–many of them insistent on taking off their shirts more than once an episode. (Just to give you a hint as to how often, when you google image search Derek Hale—one of the characters—the first google autocomplete is “Derek Hale shirtless.”)

See what I mean?

Thankfully the beautiful cast can hold their own(ish–I really can’t handle Tyler Posey’s acting), and the smart writing keeps them pretty well afloat. Unlike a lot of other shows on TV right now, Teen Wolf is insistent on challenging many pre-conceived notions and stereotypes, attempting to build real people. The most popular girl in school and rich bitch (a main character) is also the smartest. The captain of the lacrosse team (also a main character) is both a jackass and best friends with the resident gay character, who is never once made less for his sexuality. An entire family of werewolf hunters have been built on a matriarchal system, and gender is never considered a detriment to one’s abilities. On top of that, sexual orientation is rarely dismissed as comical, every character is confident in his or her own and how it relates to others. Teen Wolf is wickedly smart—it recognizes that on an MTV platform it has the power to direct the conversation of teens, and it uses it (for the most part) well.

As for plot, the show can hold tension, knowing when to give out information, and when to leave the audience guessing. Plot arcs feel real and well-paced, and the teen drama makes way for infinite subplots that are somehow both indulgent and interesting. Like many shows about the supernatural emotions are heightened to an insane degree, but thankfully Teen Wolf knows how to balance chaos and loss with humor and truth. Perhaps too often they skate quickly by loss (people don’t die AS often as a Whedon show, but they die pretty often), but many shows suffer a similar fate.

The world Davis has created feels real enough, and like a Whedon show, it’s hard to tell where actual mythology and show mythology separate. The lore is well-researched and well-used. On more than one occasion it’s used as dues ex machina, but for the most part it’s smart and plays well into the plot.

Finally, since we are talking about an MTV show, Teen Wolf has a stellar track list. Each episode is set to a spectacular soundtrack filled with new songs from up-and-coming artists in a vast range of genres. The placement is great, usually laid to invoke emotion, but not cheaply. It is a powerhouse of upbeat, pump-up music and thoughtful, sad, teen drama sap. It’s one of the show’s greatest strengths, and I’ve found more than one of my new favorite artists from them (BANKS. I LOVE YOU BANKS).

Teen Wolf certainly isn’t perfect. The characters are often too clever and too lucky, and some plots can quickly resolve without much tension. But at it’s fourth season, Teen Wolf has been able to hold some great tension all the way from the first episode. It’s well-written and quite funny. It teaches you to love the characters, to root for them when the going gets tough, to rejoice with them when they defeat the big bad. Should it win an Emmy? Probably not. But is it fun to watch several episodes in a row? AwwoOOOOOooooOOOOOoooo!

Teen Wolf seasons 1-3 are streaming for free with Amazon Prime. Current episodes (airing now on MTV, Monday nights at 10/9 c) can be watched on Hulu+ or MTV.com (released on a delayed weekly basis).

Summertime Fun: Last Minute Beers

Last week as I was driving on the highway, I noticed a great big billboard for pumpkin ale. And I started screaming.

“PUMPKIN ALE? IT WAS JUST JULY LIKE LAST WEEK, YOU DAMN MARKETING BASTARDS. I WILL NOT BE DRINKING YOUR TERRIBLE PUMPKIN ALE WHEN IT IS 80 DEGREES OUTSIDE. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU THINK IT IS ALMOST FALL. STUPID PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE MARKETING HYPE!”

Suffice to say, as a resident of one of the coldest states in the country, the oncoming storm of Fall just makes me shiver. Fall is a lovely season, we’ve romanticized the overcast skies, the crisp morning chills, the spicy seasonal flavors and treats, the beautiful blend of colors—ad nauseam. Fall is probably one of the most marketable seasons when we compare actual length of Fall weather to actual length of Fall marketing and income. Fall is great when I’m romanticizing it. But since the marketable, colorful-leaves-let’s-eat-tons-of-apples Fall is only about three weeks long, I tend of find it more heartbreaking than warming.

Let’s hang onto the last bits of summer. Here are my favorite summer beers to combat the onslaught on pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest.

1) Brooklyn Summer Ale

Beautiful bastard.

I mean, it’s summer in a can. It is SUMMER IN A CAN. It’s crisp and smooth and wonderful and I want everyone I’ve ever met to have a sip of it when I’m out. “Hi. You just brushed my elbow–care to try my beer?” The color scheme is lovely, the beer is bright and sweet, but not sugary like a shandy. It’s complex, but not overpowering–you can drink several in a row. Brooklyn Summer Ale. Can I date you? I mean, if you’re available and interested, that is. Go get it still if you can!

2) 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon

I’m not like other fruit beers.

Ok, I know, it seems like a girly beer. (Which, is an issue in-and-of itself, but let’s not get me started on that right now.)  For the most part, I drink a lot of really heavy beers–when I’m out my first question is “what is your IPA?” 21st Amendment’s Back in Black is beautiful–so I know they are a great brewery. Hell or High Watermelon is a great beer because the watermelon flavor is more of an essence. Again, no extra flavors or sugar like a shandy, just a nice little boost of fresh watermelon in the second round of fermentation. It is refreshing and beautiful and I wish I had had more than two sips of it this summer.

3) Indeed Shenanigans

Always go for tap.

Minneapolis is home to a plethora of amazing microbreweries. One of my favorites, known for their highly complex beers and strange yet adorable can art, is Indeed Brewing Company. I have loved almost every beer I’ve had from these guys. Their beers are intended more for sipping, hoppy and full-bodied—they are beers that beg to be talked about, to be discussed. When a friend told me they had a summer ale, I doubted Indeed’s ability to compete in the summer circuit. I bought a six pack of their cans and I was unimpressed. Indeed’s fondness for hops overpowered the beer, making it difficult to enjoy as a summer drink. A few weeks later this friend texted me to try it on tap. Somehow, this saved Shenanigans from being a forgettable beer—the tap version greatly surpassed the can version. The hops were toned down, and the citrus had been turned up. Again, like a good summer ale, there was a sweetness to it that made it easy to drink. If you’re out in downtown Minneapolis and you see the Indeed tap, order it. You won’t be disappointed.

4) Bell’s Oberon

I can’t pronounce this beer to save my life.

I feel like Oberon was Bell’s Brewery’s attempt at making Blue Moon. And they kicked its ass. Again, like all the other beers on our list, Oberon is a great, simple beer. It’s hoppy enough that you don’t feel like you’re drinking flavored water, but calm enough that it isn’t like eating the hops. Oberon is a wonderful standby when you are at a strange bar and have no idea what you should drink. It’s easy to drink, refreshing, and just all around lovely company.

What do you drink in the summer? Have more suggestions? Let me know!

Embarrassing Episodes: Running Music Video

This week for the Couch to 5K I graduated to running for three straight minutes at a time. On Sunday night I looked over the workout for the week and audibly gasped. “Three straight minutes of running? I’ve only run for like a minute at a time—are these people INSANE?” Possibly.

I procrastinated the Monday workout for a long time. I putzed around the apartment, made myself a cup of coffee (or two), watched backlogged YouTube videos, did some dishes—anything to avoid running for three straight minutes. I am a weakling, and even the idea of running for that long sounded terrible.

I finally got outside around 1PM, and when Constance said “start jogging” for the three-minute interval, I did something that didn’t quite feel like running. It felt like speed walking, excessive limb jostling that kind of looked like slow-motion jogging. I always kind of pity those runners when I see them on the street. “Please stop honey, you look like you’re gonna die. Are you even running, really?” (Karma, I can hear you laughing.) Over the course of the run I lost a whole minute on my average running speed (last week I was running at 9-minute miles, I’ve crawled to a 10-minute miles this week). I somehow succeeded by distracting myself. Rather than focusing on the “MY LEGS ARE LITERALLY GOING TO FALL OFF AND MY HEART WILL BURST THROUGH MY CHEST LIKE AN ALIEN” I started to use the time to plot-map my novel. I thought through scenes that I’d been stuck on, worked through backstories for some minor characters. Did I feel all three minutes? Sure. Heart-bursting-from-my-chest felt those three minutes. But I finished them. I ran (read: crawled) the whole time. And Constance’s heart-warming, sounds-like-she’s-giggling “walk” came through in the middle of a thought, so that it was kind of surprising that I was done. I didn’t want to keep running, I wanted to stop and fall down forever when she said I could walk, but it still did come as a surprise. “I did that? Like, I really just did that? But… how?”

Today I pushed myself a little harder. That 10:09 minute mile was a slap in the face. I mean, I didn’t even feel like I had to puke, so what was the point, really? Today I couldn’t concentrate on the plot-mapping, so I tried a different route. I run in a fairly secluded area of town (lots of houses, but not many pedestrians), so I turned up the music in my headphones, and let the imaginary music video start. There is a wonderful release in mouthing along to the lyrics of a ridiculous song, especially if you’re trying to stop your brain from the loop of “WE WILL DIE THIS WAY.” A good pump-up song should be more than just a mental pump-up—get physical about it. By now my workout mix is getting a bit old, it doesn’t quite get me as excited as it first did. So how do I combat that? Mental music video. Just go for it. Make it a giant running/dance party. Get crazy, turn it up, throw your limbs around a bit. I am confident I looked like an idiot—100% confident. But if you saw someone going for a run while mouthing the words from their headphones and dancing a bit you’d probably think, at most, “well, that person is having fun.” And that person will look at you for just thirty seconds anyway, and really, how terrible is thirty seconds of embarrassment in the grand scheme of things? Thirty seconds of embarrassment got me a 9:48 mile today.

Will I do this in an actual 5K? Probably not. But to get the endorphins flowing and my mind heading the right direction, I will run-dance for a bit. Want to look like an idiot with me?

90s and 2000s songs are a great start. You already know the lyrics.

The Love Affair I Can’t Give Up

I don’t know how it happened. I used to be responsible, put together, smart about these things. I used to know where the line was, used to know my limits. But now? Now I’ve crossed over. Now I can snooze for two hours before realizing how detrimental it is to my day. That’s right, I’m obsessed with my snooze button.

Back when I had a job I would set my alarm not for the time I needed to get out of bed, but for the time I thought I should get out of bed. It’s innocent enough–having lofty goals for the morning. I’ll wake up, have breakfast, shower, maybe even get some writing done, get to work early, have a coffee. It was worse when I worked evenings. I’d set my alarm for the morning, hoping that I would get a few things done before catching the bus around 1, but the inevitable would always descend. My alarm would go off around 8 in the morning, I’d reset it a few times, maybe even for an hour, before I just reset the whole alarm for two hours later, and then snooze for another hour before getting out of bed.

How terrible, right? Everyone knows that snoozing only makes you more tired. That the sleep you get in those 9 minute increments is mostly useless. That you aren’t really sleeping. Why not just reset the entire alarm for an hour later rather than snoozing for an hour? Because that’s the smart thing to do. Haven’t you learned by now that we don’t identify me as “smart?”

It feels like I’ve tried everything. I set the alarm across the room, only to get out of bed, turn it off, and crawl back into bed. For a while I had the app that would sense your REM cycles and wake you up when you were least asleep. You could knock on the back of your iPhone for the snooze, and I’d do that until the last possible minute. Or, more likely, I’d turn it off, with a backup alarm set for the “GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF BED OR YOU WILL LOSE YOU JOB BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE” alarm. I’ve tried certain music (giant power chords intros), the radio, the obnoxious alarm noises. All of these things only make me want to shut the stupid thing up faster.

I don’t particularly like the snooze button. I don’t feel good after hitting it for a while, and I certainly feel a bit like a failure every time I get out of bed at 11AM instead of 8AM. But like a bad friend, I can’t let the snooze button go. Sure it makes me tired, ornery, and cranky, it makes me feel like a failure every time it speaks, makes me wonder just how useless I really am. But it’s so nice to have around. It’s so nice to hit that button, curl back up into the comforter, and know that for, almost 10 more minutes, I don’t have to face the world. I can stay in bed, and maybe keep sleeping. What a lovely present the snooze button has given me–procrastination.

I’m working on quitting my love affair with this beast, but I’m finding it difficult. How do you get out of bed in the morning? Are you just smarter than me, does it come easier to some people? You think you’re so successful because you can get out of bed in the morning, and go to your awesome job and–

Sorry.

I’m a little cranky. I didn’t get much sleep this morning.

Saying Yes

I am a textbook introvert. My ideal Friday evening involves staying in my apartment, watching a few hours of Netflix by myself with some good dinner and a great beer or wine. Sometimes I’ll let my cats snuggle up against me as I write later, but for the most part my bedroom door stays closed.

I don’t think being an introvert is a bad thing. I don’t think there is anything wrong in finding energy in solitude, in spending quality time alone. But I do think, personally, that there is a fine line between being alone because I’m an introvert and being alone because I’m depressed. I realized this fact recently when after watching several seasons of Teen Wolf in quick succession I found it strange that more hadn’t happened in my life. The emotional, fictional adventure I’d gone on with the characters was just that–emotional, but fictional–entirely hollow.

The TED Radio Hour recently did a podcast on happiness, “Simply Happy.” One of their speakers, Graham Hill, became a millionaire at a young age after selling a start-up company in the late 90s. After a few years of too much money, Hill realizes just how much stuff he has accrued, and begins to edit his life. This quote comes from the podcast:

“As a way of editing your own life, let’s just remember that what really matters in life is memorable experiences, connections and relationships. Space and stuff should support that.”

I probably have too much stuff, but that’s, strangely, not the lesson I took away. That Hill makes a point of saying that life is about memorable experiences really stuck with me. It’s like one of those truths I’ve always known, but have never really had to face. Obviously, life is connecting and interacting with people, but when faced with the decision to make real, relational connections with people or to stay in and live the hollow fictional life, I’ve found I need to focus on the real connections to find joy. Which, as an introvert, is often a very hard decision to make. Fictional lives are easy and neat, conflicts resolve quickly, everybody gets to say their piece, every decision feels essential to the plot, everybody matters. Real relationships are much more complicated, they’re messy, riddled with double meanings, often directionless, confusing. But it is ludicrous to live only in the fictional world, to spend much of your life as an escapist.

Which is why I’m making a point of saying “yes” more often. I hope to challenge myself, to be outside my comfort zone, to build to new relationships and connections.

I can easily waste away my entire life. But by saying yes, by meeting new people, experiencing new things, making new connections and memories, I will combat that wasting away.

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Here’s to saying yes more often. To accepting the offer to vacation with new friends, to making new connections. Let’s get ourselves going.

Thursday Three: Inspired

My friend Samantha creates these posts called Thursday Three, which are often remarkable discoveries/observations of her week. I’ve found them very insightful and honest, and I like her blogging style, so this week I’m going to do a Thursday Three update.

 1. Writing is hard. These past few weeks I’ve really buckled down on writing. I write my fiction at a remarkably slow pace, and I’m trying to speed up, but I like working with the nuances of scenes, the structure of the sentences and paragraphs, the show aspect of “show don’t tell.” I’ve written several novels at whiplash speeds (NaNoWriMo vet), and found them entirely trash-able. I don’t want that to be the case, but I don’t want to spend the next five years writing one book. Every time I sit down the write it’s hard, but when I don’t it’s even harder.

2. A healthy dose of fantasy is a must. This past week I’ve caught up on the phone with an old friend, and it felt so wonderful to chat, to be part of one another’s lives again, to feel connected. She is moving to London shortly, and we spent a bit of our conversation fantasizing about high tea in cafes, going to graduate school in downtown, living in the same city, being a part of each other’s lives. This week I’ve thought about being a flight attendant, moving to Boston on a whim, starting a company. None of these things will likely come to pass, but that doesn’t mean that the fantasy is not helpful. The fantasy is lovely, and I will imagine cream tea with Anna for as long as I’d like.

3. Saying yes more often has its perks. As an introvert I tend to say “no” a lot. I would much prefer to stay inside and watch Netflix than go to a party. But when you’re unemployed staying inside all day is a dangerous thing. So tonight I will go to a bar and write terrible poetry with my college friends. And tomorrow I will celebrate the successes of my best friend as she goes off to grad school in Seattle. And these upcoming months I will go to concerts with new friends and find people I like to spend time with. Saying yes is wonderful.

What have you discovered this week?

Oh How the Mighty Fall

Oh man. Last week on Wednesday I was all I can keep running forever, running is great, I love running.

Ha.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Today is not last Wednesday, folks. No, I am quite far from that doe-eyed optimist of Couch to 5K day 2. She lived a pipe dream. This week I found myself realistically wondering what would happen if I threw up. Where would I do it? In that flower bed? Would some snobby white lady run out of her house screaming about how I ruined her hydrangeas? Would I keep running after that, or officially wave the white flag?

Thankfully I did not puke, but man, there were a few moments. I felt my pace slow to a crawl (I’d look to my right and marvel at just how slowly everything was passing me), and my mind kept screaming “OH GOODNESS WE SUCK SO HARD.” My feet felt like they were barely leaving the ground–I was doing a terrible reverse moonwalk, in slow motion.

And yet, when my darling Constance told me it was time for the cool down, I was ready to run again. I certainly didn’t want to, but I was mentally prepared to (I’m terrible at keeping track of how many reps I’ve done). And I think that is a big part of today’s training, that my body can do more than my brain thinks it can. My legs were ready to run, it was my mind that wheezed “WE’RE GONNA DIE.”

So maybe that’s today’s lesson. That many times I’m in my own way, my own brain sabotaging me into missed opportunities because “we can’t do it, we’re gonna fail!” Perhaps it’s time to start telling your brain to take a seat, because it’s speaking out of turn. SIT DOWN, SHUT UP AND HOLD ON. We’re gonna make it yet.