Thursday, November 16, 2017

Computer Glasses. And a Novel Update.

I recently ordered some computer glasses for myself from Felix Gray.

What are computer glasses? You ask. Well. They are non-prescription glasses that block out the blue light spectrum that comes from screens. They're supposed to help with eye strain and eye fatigue and all that jazz.

"Are they working?" you ask. Well, I have no idea. I'm not someone who gets headaches from looking at the computer, but I do sometimes feel like my eyes are drying up and maybe will drop out of my head when I've been sitting in front of my computer all day.

Mostly I got mine for two reasons:

1. Since we've really only had access to personal screens for the past twenty years or so (and I think I'm being a bit generous there...I think it's been more like fifteen years for most people. But whatever), we really have no idea what the long term effects of all this screen viewing will be on our eyesight. Chances are, it's not going to have done great things for these ole eyes another twenty years down the road. So partly I'm trying to do my eyes a favor now.

2. I just really like glasses. I really do. I bought a pair of non-magnification glasses at the dollar store in college and literally wore them for an entire semester.

The best thing about these computer glasses is that they are just as cute as that dollar store pair I loved so much! So I'm pretty satisfied with the purchase overall. Not to mention I've been looking at screens an extra lot this month since I'm writing a novel in my spare time. Here's a video of my grooving to some music as I work on my novel.

To that end, here's an update on my novel: I've written 40,000 of the 50,000 words for the month. And it's still only the 16th! It helps that my sister is really really kind and generous and has been letting me borrow her computer most days so that I can work on it. I also have a pandora station that I started off the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack that is really great for writing to, in my opinion. It's got a lot of classical music and also string quartet and orchestral versions of pop songs, which is really cool. I've fallen in love with Clair de Lune. And I've also discovered the Vitamin String Quartet, which is who is doing that cover of Cheerleader in the video above. Pretty cool, right? So it's all going pretty damn well, I'd say. Just have to finish strong over the next couple weeks!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Some Thoughts on Recent Headlines.

This is a micro poem by Nayyirah Waheed. I've mentioned her before, and her work is fantastic. But anyway, this poem comes to mind often these days, as each and every day seems to bring forth more women talking about men who have assaulted or harassed them.

I am tired. I am tired of seeing and hearing about sexual assault every time I swipe over to the news screen on my phone. I am tired of it being in my face all day every day.

I want to stop having to hear about and read about the horrible situations that these women have gone through and continue to endure all the time.

But it's not that I want to silence these women who speak up so bravely in a culture where it could cost them respect, their jobs, their sanity, but most definitely costs them their privacy in a matter that is highly personal and surely painful. No, I'm proud of those who have the courage to expose their tormentors.

What I want is for this shit to stop happening. I want to stop hearing about it not because women continue to be too afraid to come forward, but because creepy men stop pulling stupid shit like this.

It breaks my heart. I'm so tired of creepy men doing creepy shit. Just be a decent fucking human. Is that really so hard to do? How about you only make sexual advances toward people your own age? And whom you aren't a work authority figure over? And how about, if the person you make advances toward seems to not be into it, how about you leave them the fuck alone and maybe even apologize for having misread that. Yeah, that might be awkward, but's better than just continuing to bark up that tree, right?

Like, is it really so hard to not be a creep? Because I really feel like it isn't. Especially when I consider the large number of non-creepy humans I know personally.

I just want everybody to collectively get their shit together about consent and stop doing things that create victims who then come forward and make the shady stuff public. Just STOP DOING THE THINGS. And we'll all be better off for it.

And I know that I will definitely be less tired.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again...

We're exactly one week away from November today (a fact that is kind of blowing my mind!), which means that in seven days NaNoWriMo begins. Does NaNoWriMo ring a bell to any of you? Maybe you remember that is stands for National Novel Writing Month. Maybe you remember that people can sign up to participate and then write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November. And maybe you remember that I participated in it two years ago and EVEN successfully finished my 50,000 words.

But probably you didn’t hear much more about my “novel” beyond that. Partly, that’s because 50,000 words isn’t really what most of us would consider a novel. I think it was about 80 pages. The other reason you probably haven’t heard much about the one I finished is that I haven’t even looked at it since the end of NaNoWriMo two years ago. The best explanation I can give for that is that I hated what I’d written. For a couple of reasons. One is that I had spent an entire month writing what felt all like backstory. I was more than fifty pages in and there wasn’t really a plot yet. Another reason is that I’d started NaNoWriMo a different year with basically the same story idea and hadn’t gotten very far before life got too busy and I couldn’t finish. Well the one rule about NaNoWriMo is that you’re supposed to start writing from scratch on November first. So when I started with the same idea two years ago that I’d come up with a few years before, I didn’t ever look back at what I’d written the first time. But upon completion of 50,000 words, when I looked back at the original attempt I’d made with that story I realized it was better. Much better. The actual writing was better. So I concluded a couple of things: I didn’t really want to keep working on what I’d done, and also I might be getting actively stupider now that I’m finally not in school any more. Ugh.

Anyway. I decided to give it another go this year, which is going to be extremely challenging since I don’t even have a laptop these days, but we’ll see what happens. I’m planning to just write it all in a Google doc.

I’m for sure not using the same idea I had for a different year (even though there aren’t really any of those left, anyway) since that was ultimately a disappointment last time. I don’t have any great ideas for a novel this year, but I decided that I want to challenge myself and my creativity in new ways. I think I’m going to experiment with magical realism. Magical realism can be present in many artistic endeavors of all different types, but as wikipedia describes it “often refers to fiction and literature in particular, with magic or the supernatural presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.” Some of the most well-known writers of magical realism are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, and Salman Rushdie. I’ve read quite a few YA novels that fall into the magical realism category in the past few years. Some examples are American Street by Ibi Zoboi, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, and all of A.S. King’s books.

During a playwriting class I took in college, I had to write a scene where something not physically possible happened. It was sort of different, because the intent of the prompt was to write something that wasn’t inhibited by the constraints of performing it onstage. The point was to write something that would be a challenge to stage, that would require every member of the creative process to be inventive and figure out how to make the idea come to life. I ended up setting my scene on a space station that loses gravity at one point. So not exactly magical realism. But that writing prompt was challenging and fun and made me want to do something like it again. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Maybe I’ll end up liking what I have done at the end of November more this year. Maybe not. Maybe it’ll be one more piece of writing I never look at. Maybe it will be what finally gets me really writing again on a regular basis. Only time will tell. But it all starts a week from today.

As an aside, if any of you know really great places to write in Maine, I would love to hear them. I found the last time I did this that sitting alone in my house wasn't really my best writing plan. I'm also taking suggestions for music to listen to while writing.

(Also, this picture has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo I just like having a picture in every blog post and this one has books in it and a quote from a book that I read and liked once.)

Monday, October 23, 2017

2017 Goals Check In.

In the spirit of publishing my goals and holding myself accountable to how many of them I’ve actually accomplished, I’m going to share my goals for 2017 here and check in on how I’m doing with them. It’s kind of blowing my mind how fast this year has gone by. Wasn’t New Year’s Eve only a couple of months ago?

I actually had two different sets of goals for the year. I have the official list of 2017 goals I had for myself, which are sort of vague and self-improvement-ish, the way lots of people’s New Year’s Resolutions are. And then I had a list of 17 things I wanted to do in 2017, which is less vague and has more specific activities and still has some overlap with my original goal list.

Let’s start with the original goals.

  1. Practice hygge.
I did my best with this last winter. There were several moments where I felt like I was getting the hygge thing right, and I did make a lot of hot chocolate. Unfortunately, my bedroom is freezing all the time, so that makes it a bit of a challenge.
  1. Remember to breathe.
Well I haven’t died yet, so….
Nah, just kidding. This one is more about taking space to just appreciate what I have and all that jazz. It sorta goes hand in hand with the next goal, which is:
  1. Be mindful.
I read an article about mindfulness shortly before making these goals. I haven’t necessarily done a great job at it, but being mindful is something that I occasionally remember to make an effort at.
  1. Read to Mackenzie.
I was better at this when she was littler. She got really squirmy and was kind of a brute for a while and would tend to rip the pages while I was reading which made it hard. But recently she started really loving to be read to, so I'll pick back up with it.
  1. Read 50 physical books.
I’m keeping a list. So far I’ve read 23 physical books (and am in the middle of three more) but it’s not looking like I’ll meet this one. I spend a lot of time in the evenings cooking, exercising, and spending time with my family, and by the time I’m turning in for the night I’m usually too tired to read.
  1. Read all of Jane Austen’s books. (For real this year.)
I bit the bullet and started getting them as audiobooks. I’ve totally read two more! But I might not get to them “all”...
  1. Climb a mountain. Or two.
DONE! Tumbledown and Double Top. Boom.
  1. Remember that this life is my choice.
A constant work in progress.
  1. Learn to sing one song well.
I actually decided I want to play Passenger Seat on the piano. Haven’t really gotten it yet, but I did start practicing.
  1. Be more sparkly.
I’ve totally been wearing glitter any time I think it will be acceptably appropriate.
  1. Write more letters.
This is always my goal. I’d say I’ve done better writing letters in 2017 than I did for the part of 2016 that I was living in Maine, which is really what that was about. So I'll call that a success.

Now, for my more concrete goals. (Remember, there's some overlap here.) 

  1. Climb a mountain.
  2. Go skiing.
  3. Go snowshoeing. 
  4. See a play.
  5. Go to a concert. 
  6. Paint a picture.
  7. Re-insulate bedroom.
  8. Get curtains.
  9. Alphabetize bookshelves.
  10. Go on an adventure.
  11. Read every Jane Austen book.
  12. Knit something.
  13. Write 20 blog posts. (Working on it!! This one makes 14 that I've published.)
  14. Shoot 5 rolls of film + develop them.
  15. Buy a record player.
  16. Grow something. (I'm counting the cosmos that I planted even though there were only two flowers and then my brother-in-law's mom pulled them out cause she thought they were weeds.)
  17. Get Kendra to the Common Ground Fair.
So ten and a half isn't bad for that list, in my opinion. There are still two and a half months left of this year, and who knows? Maybe I'll surprise everyone by magically reading twenty-seven more books and re-insulating my bedroom and mastering Passenger Seat and all sorts of things.

Although probably not. 

But really, what matters to me is the attempt. And truly some of these things that I've gotten done have been really great. Like the record player? Probably my best purchase of the whole year. And climbing some mountains has been challenging but incredibly satisfying- I'm going to try to keep it up and actually hike Katahdin next year. And who knows, maybe I'll get really crazy and come up with my goals for 2018 before two weeks of the new year have gone by.

But then again, probably not.

Friday, October 20, 2017

What Am I Doing With My Life?

Sometimes, when I’m sitting in my cubicle at work and freezing my butt off because there’s inexplicably an air conditioning vent spewing frigid air at me in mid October, I wonder what on Earth I’m doing with my life.

I have a finite amount of time to spend on this planet. I can’t help but think of those lines from the Mary Oliver poem, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I occasionally start to feel that I am perhaps squandering it. I want my life to mean something.

Might I direct all of you to the song “Twenty Something” by Jamie Cullum?

It’s pretty applicable to my life right now and also the lives of lots of other people I know (who are in their twenties). I first heard it in high school and liked it a lot back then, but it becomes ever more relevant as the years pass.

I recently read this post about vocation. It talks about three different categories of work: a job, a career, and a vocation. In the post, they define a job as sort of a means to an end and a career as working to advance through the ranks and get achievements.

Now, I have had some “jobs” before, and I honestly liked them a lot. I guess part of that comes from the fact that I worked with kids a bunch and that never really seems like “busy work” because there’s always more going on when you’re helping another person learn and grow and change. But I honestly like working. I like feeling useful and helpful and doing things. I am pretty task-oriented. I like the feeling of getting something done. I did realize after three years of college that a career really doesn’t appeal to me at all. I am not interested in climbing a ladder and trying to get ahead of those around me. Competition isn’t really my thing. And I’m okay with that.

A vocation, on the other hand, is like a true calling. Work that doesn’t feel like work at all because we find it fulfilling and satisfying all on its own without paychecks or accomplishments. A vocation is what everybody wants. Or should want. Something that makes us feel like we were put on the earth for a reason and are making the most of what little time we have here.

The problem is, I have no idea how to find my vocation. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve sitting in that cubicle though. Which brings me back to the original point: what am I doing with my life?

I think it's okay not to know, but it doesn't really feel okay not to know. It feels like treading water in the middle of the ocean; necessary to stay afloat but ultimately pointless if there's no chance of finding and proceeding toward the direction of dry land.

I had a conversation with a friend this summer about how hard it is not knowing. For instance, I've always wanted to be a mom but I don't want to spend my whole life waiting for that to happen. If I knew that it would, I could better enjoy my time now, and if I knew that it wouldn't, I could adjust to that idea and figure out what to do with my life instead. It's the not knowing that is such a challenge. It's hard to make peace with something not happening while also still hoping and wishing for it. My friend said I better figure out how to live with it because that's all of life right there. And of course he was right. But knowing that I need to make peace with not knowing doesn't actually make it easier. It's still hard.

I still find myself wondering what I am doing with my life and what I should be doing with my life and what I could be doing with my life on a literal DAILY basis. I have some ideas- some realistic and some optimistic and some outrageous- that I occasionally take steps toward. I have some plans that I make small progresses toward. I keep thinking and pondering and hoping.

And some days that's enough to quiet the pulse of panic I feel when I think about whether I'm wasting my life. It's enough to be snuggling my niece most nights. It's enough to just keep breathing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On Body Image.

Let’s talk about bodies, shall we? Actually, I’m just going to talk about my body and also share some thoughts on self-image that I think are pretty applicable to other people, but I have no idea what goes on in all of your heads, so if I’m totally off base just ignore me, kay? Cool. Here we go.

Bodies are weird.

Like, they’re actually weird, with all the zillions of different parts that do different things some of which are automatic and some of which are only automatic sometimes. Breathing? You can choose not to but also your body will keep breathing if you stop paying attention. That is wild. But it’s also not really what I mean when I say bodies are weird.

They change in ways that are so very gradual that we don’t really notice until later when someone else points it out or when we see an old photo of ourselves. We are in some ways the closest observers of our bodies, but also the people who see ourselves the least. Weird. The way we think about ourselves is influenced, in so many ways, by the opinions we have about our physical appearance and how it compares with others. Of course physical appearance isn’t the only component of self-image; our skills and talents and willingness to embarrass ourselves in front of others and intelligence and all sorts of other things also contribute. But the way we look is pretty much the first thing others notice about us so it makes sense that it influences how we think about ourselves, too.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that many parts of our bodies are determined by genetics. In a lot of ways we just have the bodies we were born with (and some people won the genetic lottery and aren’t even able to get fat or whatever, which really blows my mind) and there isn’t much we can do about it besides get cosmetic surgery. But there are other people (with self discipline that is unfathomable to me) who exercise regularly and slowly get a body closer to what they want. Maybe it’s not perfect still, but they lose weight and tone up and whatever else they need to do to have a body closer to what they want it to be. And I don’t think people ever really “arrive” at their ideal. I don’t think that’s how bodies work. But I also think that’s okay. Maybe nobody is ever completely satisfied with what they’ve got and it’s just part of human nature.

Now for the part where I talk about my own body. It changes a lot. My weight has fluctuated between 120 and 150 pounds since high school. Which is a pretty considerable range, honestly. And what’s especially weird/interesting is that when I’m at my heaviest I usually don’t notice. Isn’t that interesting and wonderful in a way? When I’m my puffiest, “grossest” self I don’t usually look at myself in the mirror and think that I’m fat. I see all the different parts of myself that are the same as always and have the same problems with and praise for them as I always have; my inner thighs touch and I hate it (both because of how it looks and because it is uncomfortable AND because it seriously diminishes how long I can own a pair of jeans), I have hollows beneath my cheekbones that are subtle and often get lost in the roundness of my cheeks when I smile but are definitely there, I have a dimple in only one cheek, etc. It’s only after I have lost weight that I look back at pictures and think, “Wow, I was really pretty overweight, huh? How did I not see it?” Which might be bad in terms of overall physical health, but it also seems pretty psychologically healthy to me. It’s like the exact opposite of body dysmorphia.

Imagine looking at yourself every day and thinking that you look disgusting. And yeah, there absolutely are people who do that, but I don’t think most people do. Maybe I just have no clue. But it seems like even though we totally have things we want to change about ourselves, even when we are trying to lose weight or whatever, we are still usually able to make general peace with how we are at any given moment. Imagine if our self image kept us hiding out in our houses? Yikes.

Bodies are weird. But they’re wonderful. We spend our whole lives inside of ours and still don’t know everything about it. That totally blows my mind.

I started running this spring and my body has changed more in the past five months than it maybe ever has. I remember in high school before I lost a bunch of weight my senior year (my doctor later told me it was because I’d started eating breakfast- go figure) there was this time when I couldn’t find my hipbones. Obviously I knew where-ish they were, but externally you couldn’t find a trace of the actual bone. But then when I lost weight hip bones were visible. I was definitely not one of those people whose bony hips jab out of their jeans, but I could find them when I looked for them.

Anyway, similar things are happening to me now. Running hasn’t made me weigh less, but my body is just different. My legs are super muscular. I’ve always had pretty skinny calves but all of a sudden they are something that can only be described as “shapely.” All my pants are really tight on my calves and my legs barely fit into my boots. There are muscle bulges on my SHINS. I didn’t even know that could happen until now! And my thighs still touch, but they also curve way out in the front, too, because of my new muscles. And I just noticed the other day that I have this weird little hollow in the very front of each of my legs between the hip and thigh. I have no idea what it’s called because I never knew that such a thing existed. And, weirdly, I swear my shoulders are skinnier now. I have no idea why running would make my shoulders thin out but I honestly like them more now than I ever did before. I happened to catch a glimpse of the back of one when I was flexing for something or other and it was surprisingly jacked looking (I think it was kind of an illusion, but whatever). And for the first time that I can ever remember, I can tap my sternum and it makes a hollow noise because I’m actually just hitting the bone without any cushion in front of it (probably it was like that before as well, like when I was really skinny in high school, but I never noticed until this time). And I have quite literally run my ass off; it’s only about half the size it was last winter, maybe even smaller. Yet I totally still have a belly the exact same bulge-y size it was before I started this whole running thing. Cool, body, thank you so much.

Last week I went to see one of my friends play music in Yarmouth and, as I often do when I’ve made plans to go out in public, I wore something that made me feel cool (because dressing for my office job is actually one of my least favorite things ever) and sprinkled glitter on my cheeks and chest (because it’s one of my goals for this year to be more sparkly). Since my purple hair was still pretty fresh and I didn’t trust it not to stain my shirts purple, I wore black shirts all week. The one I wore that night was this floaty-ish shift type shirt I got in Portland, Oregon on my road trip last year. By the time I got home from the gig in Yarmouth everyone at my house had gone to bed and the shower light, which we use sort of like a bathroom night light, was on when I went in to get ready for bed myself. In the semi-dark of the bathroom, I saw my reflection and thought, “wow, I actually look thin right now! I can see my collarbones!” And as silly as something like that seems, I love when my collarbones are prominent. I’ve got a short torso and big boobs, and it’s just a lot going on in a pretty small area, so my collarbones usually don’t stick out and it’s usually not a part of my body that makes me feel delicate. But on that night I did. So even though taking bathroom mirror pictures is kinda trashy, and even though it was terrible photo lighting, I took a picture of myself.

And now I’m going to share it with you all even though the photo quality is dismal and I am making a sort of silly face in it and you can barely even see the collarbones in question.

Because even though the picture didn’t really capture what I was feeling, that was a moment when I looked at myself in the mirror and saw not just what I’m used to seeing or what I’m okay with seeing, but also what I want to see. For that moment, none of the things that usually bother me about my body (and there are plenty of things that do) were visible, and I was left with just loving everything that I saw.

In my experience, those moments don’t come super often, and I think that’s fine. As long as when they do come, we take a minute to just rest in the goodness and appreciate it.

**EDIT: Not hours after this posted, I saw a post on instagram from the poet Nayyirah Waheed that was so intensely relevant. I'll share a screenshot of the poem here for you all, but you can also click on these links to find her on twitter and instagram or buy her books on amazon. She's pretty dope.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hello, October.

As could have been predicted, I never posted more in September. Sigh.

September sort of flew past and October is even more insane, honestly. In the middle of September, I suddenly found myself with plans for every single weekend of October. How does that happen?!?! And who knows if I’ll actually make it to all of them, but I do try. Some of them are just events that I want to go to, and when I have to go alone, all bets are off for if I’ll actually follow through when the time comes. But a lot of the plans are things other people invited me to, and I usually do go to those because I don’t get all that many invitations so I accept all of them. Anyway. As of right now I have only one weekend day free of plans during the whole month of October and I’m kiiiind of hoping to go to climb a mountain somewhere. We’ll see what happens.

For those of you who were waiting to hear (soooo...none of you?), my goals from September were a bit of a flop. I did take 7 pictures, but I still haven’t developed any film. I did get a haircut, which I really liked. I practiced Passenger Seat only a few times. I made a pie and went to church all on the same day, but it was technically October first, so I’m not sure it counts. I never drew anything. Meh.

Lots of other wonderful things happened though, like my friend Kendra came to visit me for a few days and we went to the Common Ground Fair, and walked on the breakwater and visited lots of cute shops in Rockland and all that great Maine sort of stuff. I love her. It was really really fun to show someone around my state for the first time again- it’d been quite a few years since I had the chance (I did get to show lots of people around Minneapolis while I lived there, though, so that’s something).

But now it’s October, which means a whole new set of goals. I already got purple hair (which is separate from the haircut I got last month) and love it. A few things on my list are events that haven’t yet happened. I also want to read three books and write five letters. We’ll see what happens.

I’ve already finished one book, The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur’s second book of poetry. It was phenomenal. I’m also in the middle of two others. Okay, full disclosure, one of the two is one I’ve been in the middle of since September. But that’s okay! I’ll hopefully still finish it this month! The other is Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor, which I have as an ebook on my phone with a new app called Libby. I am kind of loving having access to a book wherever I am as long as I have my phone with me (so, wherever I am). I’m totally someone who believes you should bring a book everywhere, but sometimes it’s really inconvenient to have a book in your purse. And sometimes you don’t have the book with you in very specific situations like when you’ve arrived at a restaurant expecting the rest of your party to be there already but it turns out they were running even later than you and you’re already inside without a book. In situations like that I’ve been reallllly glad to be able to just pull out my phone and start reading. It’s seriously great.

Anyways, things are happening around here. I got to meet a cute, fresh, little baby (Alice) ten days ago and I get to see my cute niece on an almost daily basis and she has so much personality already, despite exclusively calling me and everyone else she knows “Dada”.

I’ve been to the movies FOUR times in the past month and only two of them were with my mother! Okay, to be fair, one time was with my friend’s mother, and I’m not entirely sure that’s less embarrassing, but whatever. One movie out of four with people my own age isn’t bad though, right?! Oh, it is? Okay, whatever. I made it down to a weightlifting competition last weekend and I’m going to try to attend a Rett Syndrome strollathon in Capital Park this weekend. It’s gonna be crazy, but life is just like that sometimes.

And as the days get ever shorter and I find myself with fewer hours of daylight with which to do things outside, I’m glad for every single plan that obligates me to leave my house. Winter is hard and I feel like it’s heading for me at breakneck speed. I’m clinging to the last vestiges of warmth I can possibly get.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The First of Fall.

Today is the first day of fall. The Autumnal Equinox. It doesn’t really feel like it, though. Despite sunset now being in the 6:00 hour, the next four days here in Maine have forecasted highs in the 80s, which is utterly bizarre. Global warming, man! I get that it’s bad but I’m sort of relishing its benefits all the same.

Anywho, Summer always seems to slip by with little to no time to sit down and write about it. But that’s just the way I approach blogging in general, it seems. I had (and still have?) intentions to write about my travels in Europe, but it just seems not to have happened yet. Also, I gave my personal laptop to my baby brother for college (you’re welcome, Jonny!) which lends an additional excuse/layer of inconvenience to getting the time to write. It was my goal to write twenty blog posts in 2017 and including this one I’ve posted ten. I’ve got three months left of the year...we’ll see what happens. 

At the beginning of September I made a list of goals for the month, which is something that I often do at the beginning of months. I stick it up on the mirror on the back of my bedroom door so that as I look at myself every morning I’m reminded of what I wanted to achieve for the month. It’s had mixed results so far but I’m totally “a person who makes lists” so I keep doing it anyway.

Here’s the list I made for the month of September:

  1. Read three books
    1. All Our Wrong Todays
    2. The Moth Presents: All These Wonders
    3. (Currently reading Braving the Wilderness)
  2. Write three blog posts
    1. (See what I did here?)
    2. Also already wrote one about the first few days of my European adventure
  3. Practice Passenger Seat (I’m trying to learn it on piano)
  4. Make a pie or two or three
  5. Climb a mountain
  6. Get a haircut
  7. Run at least 3 times a week
  8. Go to church
  9. Draw something
  10. Take 7 pictures and get film developed

I typically only put about five goals on my list for the month. This one may have been a bit overambitious. I've gotten some done though. For instance, I climbed Double Top Mountain in Baxter State Park. (Although I technically made these goals after I did that, so the intent was to climb another mountain...maybe that'll happen.) Here's a panoramic photo I took at the top!

And this is a picture of my legs on one of my three runs this week. (This goal was not successful though because there was totally a weeklong span where I didn't run at all. Whoops.)

And this is the book that I spent alllll of August and a fair bit of September reading. Which makes it seem like it wasn't good, but it was actually really good and fairly quick reading when I actually got the chance to sit down and read. I just didn't make time to do that very often.

Clearly I have some serious work to do in the next week if I’m going to get it together and get these done. And I probably won’t. But that’s okay- the point in this exercise, I feel, is not really to get more done, although that is definitely still a desired outcome. Rather, the point is to be more mindful. Be aware of passing time, of things that I could get done over the course of thirty-ish days and understand that if I want them to happen I need to make moves toward them. The point is to savor my life a little more. Again, mixed results with this. I also read once that people who have make clear goals for themselves feel more of a sense of fulfillment (or something like that…) so this is partly an exercise in goal setting for the sake of goal setting. (Don’t worry guys, I know I’m ridiculous and also don’t have a damn clue what I’m talking about or why I do the things I do half the time; you are not alone!)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

I'm Famous.

So a couple of weeks ago I was walking through my local Hannaford and I got sucked into the book section. "Really?" you think. "The book section of the grocery store, Aleena? The only books there are weird romance novels." Well, yes. I would mostly tend to agree with you, which is why I don't often peruse the book section of the grocery store. I can always tell when I haven't been to any bookstores recently because I find myself totally sucked in by the sight of any books whatsoever. (ALSO, I would like to state that the book section of this particular Hannaford totally had some pretty decent non-romance-novel-ish books that I actually considered buying. Just saying.)

Anyway, I was standing in the dairy aisle, glancing around at the books, when this bright pink one caught my eye.

I was like "Oh cool, a book about the Women's March that I attended! I'll flip through that!" So I grabbed it and looked at some of them. The book is pretty cool because it shows images from different marches that took place in cities all over the world. Neat, right? And I was like "I wonder if there are any pictures from the Portland, ME march!" Because, you know, I was at that one. Now, most of the pictures were from much bigger cities (D.C., New York, Boston, etc.) but there were exactly four pictures from the Portland march. And one of them featured two women wearing hijab that looked pretty familiar to me. And then as I look at the picture closer I noticed that I AM TOTALLY IN THE PICTURE, TOO!

That's right, folks, my face made it into the book about the women's march. How cool is that!?! Was obviously super excited and decided to buy the book, even though I'd had no intention of doing so. 

I also made a surprise appearance in the background of a picture of a high school track meet that was published in the Kennebec Current (super low-key newspaper that isn't a big deal at all haha). 

AND I did a voiceover for a PSA about service animals that my brother-in-law made for the Maine Human Rights Commission. (You can watch it here, if you would like to hear my voice and also learn alllll about service animals!)

So yeah, basically I am famous. 

BY THE WAY, in case any of you never knew this, I was totally in a music video once, too! It was filmed a few years ago, right after I moved to Minnesota; a friend of mine asked if I would be in it with her because her friend was directing it and they needed extras. The song is called "Kill the Fun" and it's by a Minnesotan musician Haley Bonar. You can watch the video here! ( I am very much just an extra in it. I'm one of the women "going to work in the factory" in the back of the truck. You can see my face if you pause the video around seconds 18-20, and the back of my head is totally in seconds 52-54ish- I'm the one in the red scarf with purple flowers. But honestly, if I didn't actually know where I was sitting and what I was wearing there's no way I'd have been able to see myself.)

All this to say: you guys should probably get my autograph now before I really make it big and don't have time for any of you anymore. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Life Lately.

A week or two ago I deleted my Facebook. Some of you may have noticed, some might not have. (I usually only notice things that appear rather than disappear- also, I read an article recently about how our brains are hardwired to do that, so whatever.) I haven't missed Facebook at all, though. There have been like two instances where I wanted to be able to look someone from high school up and see where they are now and wasn't able to, but otherwise I've hardly even noticed. I do NOT miss scrolling aimlessly through my Facebook feed looking for something to entertain me. Not at all.

I probably would have deleted it sooner if I knew that you can keep messenger while your profile is deactivated. (Shoutout to my friend Liam for letting me in on that secret!) So now I'm Facebook free and loving it. Not sure anyone will even read this post though, since I think people only see them when I publish to my Facebook wall, but oh well. We'll deal with that later. Right now, I'm simply updating you on my life these days.

It's the end of May and I leave for Europe in just a few short weeks. I have no idea what I'm going to do alone in Greece for a week, but I'm planning to mostly just bum around on the beach. Seems legit to me. Maaaybe I'll come up with something else to do while I'm there, but honestly if all I do is the beach bum thing, I think I'm fine with it.

Last weekend I got to see my childhood camp friend, Hillary, get married to her high school sweetheart. It was a beautiful wedding and honestly one of the most fun weddings I've ever been to, I think. Even though her little brother is totally afraid of me now because I tried to pressure him into dancing (I KNOW he's good at it! I've seen the videos on instagram and stuff!) and he's a 15 year old boy who is not about peer pressure from 26 year old women that he doesn't remember (even though I've totally known him since he was like six!) oh well. After the wedding I got to see my dear friend Simon host and perform in a burlesque show which was also super fun.

All spring long, I've been going to as many of my brother Jon's track meets as I possibly can. Yesterday I had the extreme pleasure of watching him make a new school record and PR by successfully clearing a high jump of six feet four inches. It was incredible. He's also got the school record in hurdles and tied the school record for pole vault. What a champ! He's been all over the Kennebec Journal (our local paper) sports section. If you've missed all that (I almost did, because of not having Facebook) here's the article they wrote just about him. It's pretty great. He's also been mentioned in a few other articles over the past couple weeks because he's basically everyone's favorite person to watch at the meets. Seriously, it's hilarious- all the boys are always whispering "What's Jonny doing now?" and "Has he done his high jump yet?!?" like he's some big celebrity. Also, when he made the 6'4 jump, I swear half the people at the track came over to watch.

Also a few weeks ago my brother Zac graduated from Thomas College- whoop whoop!- and then Jonny went to his senior Prom later the same day. In case any of you missed the photos of that, I will admit that my sister and I dressed up in our own old prom dresses and went down to the boat landing to take pictures with him and his girlfriend. Because obviously my sister and I are the highest quality sort of siblings. (It was actually my idea, and when I mentioned it to Britt that morning she said, "That's the best idea you've ever had!" So then we were definitely doing it even though I think she wanted to chicken out.) It was actually totally hilarious though. We didn't tell anyone we were going to do it and my mom almost fell over laughing when she saw us. I think Jonny was entertained, too.

Other than that, life has been pretty normal around here. I've been trying to get more exercise lately, even though some days it feels like it's going to kill me. I've gotten to eat fiddleheads a few times this spring, which I have enjoyed immensely. Last week I even took showers on two consecutive days (and I might even do it again tomorrow!) so basically I'm killing it on the self-care. You can be proud of me. I'm proud of myself.