Fear + Lists

I spend a lot of time spiraling into "what ifs." Sometimes that works really well for me, like when I'm writing a story and I need my characters to do something interesting. Other times... my brain gets stuck playing a worst case scenario marathon, staring a dumber, less likable version of me. FUN!

One thing that has made it better is making lists. I once read that if you are afraid you can't do something (like say, applying to MFA programs or something, IDK), you should make a list of 100 fears related to your goal. No fear is too big, too small, or too unrealistic. For instance, "My fingers falling off and never being able to write again" was #20 on my list.

Once you get going, it turns out 100 fears is A LOT of worst case scenarios. I made it to 37 before I gave up. Once you have your list, it feels kind of impressive to stare at the limits of your overactive brain. Also later, when you feel yourself spiraling into your familiar fears, you can mentally be like, "Already catalogued it. Time to move on."

But the best part is when your deadlines/goals/big scary event has passed, and you can look back at your list. I was terrified of never hearing from a professor (#1) and missing an application deadline (#3) — then both those things happened, and things turned out okay anyway. And when other fears turn out to be unfounded, like not getting into a program this year (#9) or ever (#10), or getting in without funding (#11),  it was a nice reminder that fear can have very little to do with reality. So the moral of this story is lists solve everything. (JK but this is a nice reminder for me that it's probably time for me to make a new one.)

Words written this week: 2,381. (More than last week! But I also deleted a lot of last week's words too :(  

Accepting Reality: Winter, Elections, Goals

Winter is coming and I am doing my favorite thing where I pretend it's not, and then I talk to people to see how they feel about that. So far, mostly unamused! But not any more!!! After some very tough love from strangers, my Uber driver, friends and my family, I finally stopped moping + crying + being a big baby about something that normal people accept will happen every year. In other words, I finally bought myself a parka. 

More reality checks: Two weeks ago, I saw Michelle Obama (!!!!) speak on Pitt's campus. I was in the first row of people because I got there seven hours before the event started. It was 100% unnecessary and maybe even a little embarrassing, but you know what they say: You can take the girl out of NYC, but good luck convincing her there won't be 100,000 people trying to do whatever she wants to do.

Terrifying reality check: A Trump presidency is still very, very possible. The election + my lack of a 9-to-5 has turned me into a Politico/CNN/Twitter addict.. I've been reading headlines all day long and it's scared me so much, I've started volunteering for the Hillary campaign. I hate talking to strangers about politics and I hate being the lady with the clipboard who accosts strangers, but I'd hate a Trump presidency even more, so here we are. #Imwithher because #imscaredofhim. 

Final reality check for the week: I'm in grad school to write (duh). So now I'm trying out a new goal of 500 words a day, seven days a week. That means 3,500 words a week, minimum. And of course, I'm short my very first week, but I just keep telling myself that it's like training for a half: You're supposed to work your way up, until it gets doable, and then you readjust your goal. So that's where I am!

Words written this week: 2,255

This Week in Wins + Losses

This week's wins: triumphing over my sickness!!!!!! Goodbye piles of tissues and emergen-C, hello moving my body again. I can't stop talking about this gym I found on Groupon. I am OBSESSED. The average age of the ladies in my workout classes is 40 years old, but a lot are much older than that. They kick my ass and look graceful while doing it. I hope to be as fit and perfectly coiffed as them one day. 

Also a win: Discovering THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF!!! I am a dumb dumb for not watching this sooner. It's so good and also the perfect reward for a day's worth of work or.... four day's of stressing over a discussion-leading session that was obviously FINE because I am qualified for grad school, even if my brain sometimes tries to trick me into thinking I'm not.

One more win: Everyone in my family has a tamale lady. She sells tamales out of her car, her house, her church parking lot, whatever. She's possibly the most reliable person in your life: You can text her and she'll have tamales for you, always. (Don't ask me which tamale lady is the best because it'll lead to a civil war.) Anyway, I made empanadas for a latino event on campus and TWO ladies asked me to be their empanada lady. I was truly honored that these two ladies would trust me to be their snack constant. And after watching TGBBO, I'm basically ready to commit myself to a life of baking. Does every country have a Martha or a Mary Berry? I must find out. 

And losses this week — what can I say. This week, the busses are my enemy. I have missed so many busses, gotten on the wrong bus, let someone check their bank account statement (???) on my phone while on a bus, the list goes on. I LOVE public transportation, but only after I can get around in my sleep, aka in two years, when I've finally figured out where all the bus lines go. Until then, I'll be walking.

Hello, I live in Pittsburgh.

I moved! 25 days ago! Now I live in a city that is 2,581 miles away from San Francisco. When I first moved to SF, I was very, very homesick. Like don't talk to me, I'm a big grump and I'm going to purposefully smell the pee on the street and be mad about it homesick. Guess what: I was not fun to be around! Then I learned I liked running and spending time outside (WHO KNEW?!), my job got less stressful, I made new friends, and life got better, just like everyone said it would. It was like a movie montage, only with more burritos and (tragically) no cute guy at the end. 

UGH to the double article. Bad editing! But how charming is The Rock? If you don't follow him on Insta, you should.

UGH to the double article. Bad editing! But how charming is The Rock? If you don't follow him on Insta, you should.

Sometimes I think about all the bedrooms I've lived in. They're too far away from each other; it's a fact. Another fun fact: my mental image of my SF bedroom is mattress-less, because my mattress went to Burning Man without me. (How rude!) 

Now I'm in Pittsburgh, which is both closer and farther away from all the homes I've ever lived in. I go to school, workout (sometimes), read and read, and sometimes write. It's kind of a dream, except for the part where my friends are far away. It's a very sad situation, but I'm not sad all the time. It's truly a miracle. Or maybe growing up. WHO KNOWS.

In SF, I learned a lot about myself and what makes me happy. Most (ALL) of it came from letting go of dumb ideas, like being an "outside person" was just for people who had grown up camping, or working out could never be fun. I used to think everyone else could pull off bold lips, but not me. That was so wrong. (LOL) Okay but seriously, it turns out that when you drop your #nonewfriends mentality and let people introduce you to the things they love, you GROW. AS A HUMAN. (Ugh this realization was just as annoying as finding out that exercise really does make you feel better.). So like my girl JLO, I'm gonna try channel a judgement-free zone and be open to new experiences. It's really hard (for me), but I'm going to do it anyway. 

Happy Holidays From My Favorite People!

Glue sticks + tabloids + scissors = my favorite activity.  Add some holiday cheer and a shiny gold pen, and it's my zine dreams come true, in the form of DIY Christmas cards. Who better to wish you happy holidays than the crazy faces that stare at you every week in the grocery aisle? 

The same trusty seven magazines have served me well since Valentine's Day, but I think it's time to treat myself to new celebs + headlines in the new year. Here's to another year of making messes and being silly.

How to Make a Tinder Photo Prop for an Engagement Party

Two weeks ago, Vanessa and I were tasked with planning a surprise engagement party. And by tasked, I mean: It was our idea and we love throwing parties, so throwing a party for two people we love, to celebrate their love to each other, was a no brainer. 

Fun fact about the couple of the hour, Marley and Rachael: They met on Tinder. Who knew that was possible?!

I knew I wanted to incorporate Tinder into the party, but I wasn't sure how ---- did we really want to cut into a cake with their tinder profiles on it? (No).

Then I spotted this hanging polaroid prop and the Tinder frame was born. Step one was buying a piece of foam board that was almost as tall as I am (60" x 40" to be exact). Foam boards are inexpensive, but VERY HARD TO WALK AROUND WITH. Also, it turns out that when you carry a giant object, it invites strangers to shout guesses as to what you could be making. (This is probably my fault for taking it on public transportation.)

Step two was cutting out the hole in the middle of the foam board. This is much easier if you own a ruler, level and measuring tape. Since I own neither (because I am not a functional adult), we made do with straight edge objects that I DO own: books! The top of frame is the length of Jude the Obscurewhile the sides are the width of the same book. The bottom of the frame is 2.5 copies of Strong Is the New Sexy, aka Snookie's upcoming memoir. (LOL).

The most stressful part was writing the letters. (Although I'm probably biased because I made Vanessa use the blade cutter). My handwriting is... okay. Sticker letters or cut out letters could work here if you're a stickler for details. 

We had a very serious debate about which Tinder interface to use (LOL), ultimately deciding to go with the classic. I traced two large plates and one small bowl to make the circles. (Note: I would not recommend this unless you don't care about your dishes. My dishes now have a cheerful black Sharpie border around the rim, but that might bother some people).

I briefly contemplated drawing and coloring the heart, "i," and "X," but then realized I would be high from Sharpie smells in about five seconds. Instead, I cut them out of construction paper, outlined the edges, and glued them on.

 The last step was adding wedding bells (more construction paper + glue) and getting to posing. Eeyore was my first volunteer, although he's not exactly wedding material. (Sorry, Eeyore, but it's true.)

Luckily, we only had to wait one day to take this show on the road. Vanessa sneakily walked this over to the party house with a sheet covering it. She made it to the party in one piece, and a very happy SURPRISE! and many rounds of wine and cake later, we made the guests of honor pose with it.

YAY TRUE LOVE! 

(PS check out Karl the Fog rolling up to the party, even though he was definitely NOT invited).

Success! Next stop: the wedding, where guests can join in the photo fun too.

Congratulations, Marley and Rachael! <3 <3 <3