COVID-Coma

It’s been awhile since I’ve written, and even the last few posts I have written have fallen a bit short. The reason for that is something I have a feeling many of us are currently experiencing. It’s no secret that very few have made it this far into the pandemic without feeling a loss. Maybe you lost your job and have yet to find a new one. Maybe you are going stir crazy from working from home. Maybe you have been worked to the bone since this whole thing started and are forgetting what it’s like to not be exhausted. Maybe all your summer plans got cancelled and your major events ruined. Maybe you’ve lost someone sooner than you ever expected, and every time you think about them, you get an ache in your chest that takes your breath away. Maybe it’s been so long since you’ve seen your friends and family that it hurts to think about when you might see them again. Maybe your mental health is the worst it’s ever been, and you don’t have the motivation to do anything anymore. Maybe you’re just plain tired. I have decided to call all these feelings; the feelings of hopelessness, exhaustion, and longing the COVID-Coma. The overwhelming desire to do something, but the energy to do absolutely nothing.

My COVID-Coma has included spending 90% of my time sitting in my apartment alone. I’ve been working from home since mid-March, have had a string of health problems with a cause that remains unknown, worsening depression and anxiety, and an extreme lack of motivation and inspiration. So, I haven’t been writing, or much of anything else. But I realized, yesterday, that I desperately need to pull myself out of my COVID-Coma. I’m going to guess that most of you are in the same boat. So how do we pull ourselves together when there is no end to this pandemic in sight? How do we keep going when life as we knew it is starting to feel like it’s gone for good? I wish I had the answers, but I’m still figuring it out.

I’m starting by finding a semblance of a routine and doing the things I used to. Things like putting on makeup for work, even when I’m not leaving the house. Cooking the healthy foods I love that I’ve been neglecting. Going to the gym and getting a workout in. Shutting off the T.V. and putting my phone down (if your situation is anything like mine, you are so sick of watching Netflix and staring at your phone, you could puke). All of these are great things to do to pull me out of my COVID-Coma, but I think the number one thing we all need to do is stop using Corona as an excuse.

Living through this pandemic has been HELL, but it cannot be the reason we let our lives crumble around us. COVID isn’t forcing us to sit on the couch with a big of chips for dinner. We are choosing to do it ourselves. Stop letting COVID run your life and be your excuse. Cook a decent meal. Take a drive or a walk. Read a book. Whatever you enjoy that you have stopped doing. I know it is especially difficult when it feels like there is hate all around us, but COVID isn’t an excuse for that either. A global pandemic is not a good enough excuse to be cruel to others. I’ve said it a hundred times, and I’m saying it again. Just because life is brutal, doesn’t mean we have to be. Just because people are spreading hate and fear, doesn’t mean you can’t spread love and kindness. Now, more than ever, we need to be kind to each other, or we will never make it out of our COVID-Comas. I challenge you to do one thing this week you’ve been avoiding, or one thing you stopped doing during this pandemic that you used to enjoy, but also to do something kind. Sometimes this world knocks us down and tears us apart, but we have a choice to pull ourselves up and put the pieces back together. I don’t just want to get out of my COVID-Coma- I NEED to. And I am going to start by no longer using COVID as an excuse and figuring out how to put my life back together. I hope you do too. And if you feel like you can’t or you just aren’t ready, at least be kind to others. I think, more than anything, we could all use a little kindness.

10 Cooking Tips I Live By

Cooking is something I have always enjoyed; however, it does not come easy to everyone. I learned to cook by spending a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom, who was no stranger to spices and flavor. I love to play with different flavors and create new dishes from scratch. I like to take a recipe and doctor it until it’s mine. I’ve been cooking for so long, I can make a meal out of just about anything. In fact, I make some pretty awesome dishes by using the things in my fridge that are about to expire.

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*An amazing sauce I made one night by combining three of my original sauce recipes

I’m sure all of us know not everyone can cook. The way I see it, there are four types of cooks. Those who can cook really well, those who think they can cook really well, those who believe they can’t cook, and those who don’t even try to cook. To me, the main difference between those who can cook and those who think they can cook is whether or not their food is bland. We’ve all the seen the memes surrounding people who only have salt and pepper in their spice cabinet.

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*If you don’t get what’s wrong with this picture, then you are one of those who thinks they can cook

For those of you who are struggling to cook, who want to expand your cooking knowledge, and who can cook, but need a little help, here are my 10 cooking tips, tricks, and rules to making bomb ass food.

Salt and pepper are NOT seasonings. Yes, technically they are, but what I mean by that is that they are not something you should solely rely on. If the only seasonings you ever use is salt and pepper, you need to do some spice shopping. If you’re following a recipe, and the only seasonings are salt and pepper, add more. The number one reason food is bland is because people don’t use anything to season their food.

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Garlic powder and/or onion powder are great for when you feel like a dish needs salt. It also adds more flavor than just plain salt does. When I feel that what I’m cooking needs more salt, I add onion or garlic powder first. I’m not saying you can’t ever add salt, but you may want to try one of these alternatives first; you don’t want your dish to be overwhelmingly salty.

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While we are on the subject of good and bad spices, STOP USING GARLIC SALT. I have never bought garlic salt, and I have never missed it. If a dish needs garlic, I add fresh garlic or garlic powder. If a dish needs salt, well we already covered that. If you have garlic salt, throw it away! I promise you, you will not miss it. Nothing tastes more artificial to me than garlic salt. Get rid of it; you can thank me later.

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Want to get some spices, but aren’t sure where to start? First off, don’t buy spice racks that come with a ton of spices; you won’t use most of them. You are better off buying your own and focusing on flavors you like. If you aren’t sure where to start, try to get a few things that are salty, earthy, and spicy. For salty, garlic powder and onion powder are great starters. When I say earthy, I’m talking about herbs. They come in a wide range, so you may have to experiment a little. Italian seasoning is a good go to. Basil and sage are two of my staples. Oregano is great for spaghetti sauce and dill is fantastic with potatoes. When I want some spice, I use red paper flakes, paprika, or cayenne. Go easy with cayenne if you haven’t cooked with it a lot; a pinch can go a long way. It’s also not a bad idea to have some Cajun seasoning blend on hand. Other great things to have on hand is cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, and ginger.

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Play with your spices. Experiment with different combinations to see what flavors you like together and which ones you don’t. I know that most people have thyme in their cabinet, but I don’t like it. I love paprika, but I know others who can’t stand it. Start small; add just a pinch of this and tiny bit of that. You can always add more if you want.

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Sugar is a great way to balance bitterness. I use this trick mostly for tomato sauces, especially for spaghetti. I’m not a fan of jarred spaghetti sauce, so I usually make my own using a can of tomato sauce and adding seasonings. The problem with this is that tomato sauce can be incredibly bitter, so I add a little sugar to combat this. Just adding a spoonful of sugar to a bitter dish can make a world of difference.

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Buy fresh whenever you can. Fresh garlic tastes better than garlic powder. Fresh parsley is way more flavorful than dried. Fresh chicken is juicer than frozen. Fresh green beans are phenomenal compared to canned ones. The list goes on and on. When its within your ability, buy fresh ingredients. It will make your food taste a million times better.

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Coconut oil makes veggies and meat taste amazing. I don’t love the taste of olive oil, but I don’t like to use too much butter when I cook. The solution? Coconut oil! Coconut oil can give the buttery taste so many of us love without the fat butter adds. Every time a recipe calls for olive oil, I use coconut instead. It adds a better flavor, and when it comes to chicken, it keeps it nice and juicy. The key is to find a brand that doesn’t taste too coconutty.

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*This is the brand I use

If you need to thicken a sauce, you can use a roux. They are super easy to make; just take equal parts butter and flour (I usually start with 2 tbls of each). Melt the butter and stir in the flour, and bam! You have a perfect thickening agent. I also use this when I need cream, but all I have is milk. I just make a roux and then stir in the milk to thicken it to a consistency closer to cream. Knowing how to make a roux is a skill that has come in handy more times than you would think.

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*This is what your roux should look like

Recipes are a guide, not an instruction manual. Have you ever made a recipe that sounded absolutely amazing only to have it end up being just… blah? This is when all that spice experimenting can come in handy. Take a recipe, and make it your own! Add flavors you know you like, make it a little spicy, add more than a teaspoon of salt- whatever you like! My main rule is when the recipe is at the bottom of a blog post (which we all know is the most annoying thing in the world- I just want the recipe, Susan, I don’t care about how crazy your week was) is if the post uses the words hubby and/or kiddos, add A LOT more seasoning. Second rule? If the only seasonings the recipe calls for is salt, pepper, and garlic powder, add A LOT more seasoning. I use recipes as a starting guide and then jazz them up to make them my own, which almost always ends up tasting way better.

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*I promise you; it will need more than three ingredients 

Bonus tip! SEASON YOUR MEAT BEFORE YOU COOK IT!!!

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*If your meat looks anything like this, throw it away and try again!

Everyone can learn how to cook, you just have to know a few basics. Start with one meal and tweak it until it’s perfect. If you know someone who makes really bland food, suggest some flavor. Just have fun with it! You will be amazed by what comes out of your kitchen!

Why Best Friends are Better than Boyfriends

Growing up, I never really understood the concept of a best friend. This dynamic filled books, movies, and T.V. shows, but it was never something I experienced in the real world. I had friends I was very close to and did consider my best friend, but I often found myself needing space from them. I never knew what it was like to have someone I could tell anything to without fear of being judged or scolded. What it was like to have someone I didn’t worry was bashing me whenever I wasn’t around. Someone who didn’t get on my nerves and drive me up a wall. I have many friends that I love dearly, but I didn’t really know what a best friend was until recently.

While I was in the worst relationship of my life, I become quite close with that guy’s roommate. He seemed to be the only one that had an ounce of understanding of what I was going through and didn’t constantly put me down when it came to the mess I was in. He seemed to understand the dark side of the guy I was with, because he saw it to. He was honest and sometimes harsh, but he didn’t roll his eyes every time I brought it up. He wasn’t supportive to my face and then go and bash me behind my back like so many people did at that time. When I look back now, the friendship I developed with the guy I know refer to as my twin was worth every minute of pain and grief I endured at the hands of my ex. This guy also happened to have a girlfriend of his own; a girl I thought despised me for a long time. I was so intimidated by her; I could barely look her in the eye. I was also extremely jealous of her, because she just seemed so perfect. She was unbelievably pretty and everyone just seemed to love her and/or want to get to know her. She constantly had people coming up to talk to her and no one had a bad thing to say about her. I wondered what it was like to have a life like that; a life where everyone just seems to fawn over you.

As we got to know each other, I learned that her life wasn’t as perfect as I thought it was. We began to grow closer, spending more and more time together. She lived an hour away, and when she visited on the weekends, we would always find something fun to do. We opened up to each other about our insecurities, our struggles, and whatever else was on our minds. Then, last fall she moved in with her boyfriend in the town I live in. Since then, we’ve hung out almost every day. We cook dinner together and for each other, we surprise each other with coffee, we get way too drunk together, and we cry over This Is Us together. In all this time, we haven’t fought. I haven’t felt like I need a break from her. She doesn’t really get on my nerves and I’ve never felt judged or shamed by her. Lately, I’ve started to feel like this is the friendship I’ve been missing out on. This is what all those books, movies, and T.V. shows mean by best friend. So, know that I’ve indulged in an insanely long intro, here are the reasons why a best friend is better than a boyfriend.

  1. They know your coffee order. In fact, they know your order at every coffee shop. They know what you like at Starbucks vs what you like at Caribou. They know how many flavor shots you require at each place and if you want it hot or cold. I know when we roll up to Caribou together, she will get a large iced crafted press with two shots of vanilla, but at Starbucks, she prefers a large vanilla cold brew with sweet cream. She knows that I brew a light roast at home and drink it with half and half and chocolate almond milk. You never actually have to type out your coffee order to them because they already know exactly what you want.

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  1. Speaking of drinks, they also know what kind of alcohol you prefer. They know what cocktails you’ll drink and what beer you like. They know what types of alcohol are off limits, which ones will make you sick, and which ones give you the worst hangovers. I know she doesn’t like vodka, because it makes her stomach hurt. She knows I don’t mix alcohol with cream, because I will most likely instantly throw up. I know she likes her beer with olives, and she knows I prefer mine with pickles. And of course, we both love Malibu with Coke (hers diet, mine regular). They can go up to bar and order you your favorite drink based on how drunk you want to get. They know what shots you’ll take straight and which ones you won’t touch. They also know what to expect from you the next morning.

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  1. In fact, they know your favorite everything. All the way from your favorite kind of chips to your favorite pair of jeans. They know what you dip your fries in and what brand of shampoo you use. I know she likes vanilla soft serve cones and puts ranch on EVERYTHING. She knows I like Doritos with cheese and Game of Thrones. In fact, they probably know more of your favorites than you do. They even know your guiltiest guilty pleasures, but they don’t judge too harshly.

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  1. They will be honest when it comes to your fashion sense. You never have to worry about them lying to you, because they will always tell you like it is. They’ll tell you if your hair looks questionable or if the outfit you have on isn’t the most flattering. They’ll help you get rid of the things that you don’t have the heart to throw away, like your crimper. I know she prefers her jeans tight and likes to wear yellow. She knows I look awful in pale pink and prefer my hair up. We have the same taste in shoes and makeup, and we both hate anything velvet. They are the best to go shopping with, because you can always count on an honest opinion that is given without sounding harsh.

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  1. They know your emotions better than you do sometimes. They can usually tell exactly what mood you’re in just by looking at your face. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re feeling sad until they point it out. They also know what habits you tend to fall into based on how you feel. I know she eats when she’s stressed or bored (as do I) and she knows I get more restless than usual when I’m anxious. You know when to sit in silence and when to offer reassurance. They know when to be serious and when to crack some comic relief. Sometimes you don’t even know why you’re mad or sad or even what you need until they tell you. 

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After my toxic relationship fell apart, I spent three years rebuilding the self-esteem he had destroyed. When I finally felt like I was ready to try again, I ended up seeing someone whose treatment of me started to remind of him. After that, I started seeing someone who decided I wasn’t even worth breaking up with. All of that evidence has led to me to the conclusion that boyfriends aren’t worth the trouble and I will stick with my best friend instead.

The Salutatorian Speech I Never Got to Give

Over the past few weeks of being quarantined in my apartment, I have noticed that I keep being disturbed by memories of grade school. Most of these memories are things I thought were long since buried and forgotten, but now they seem to want to surface and remind me of how much I hated middle and high school because of my classmates. I remembered the time I tried to throw an end of the year cookout and invited the whole class, only to have no one show up. (I later found out there was a different party that I wasn’t invited to). I remembered the time I sat in my AP Government class as a junior and the other nine people in the class moved to the other side of the room, forcing me to be on a jeopardy team by myself.

But then I think about my little brother, whose senior year has been cut off due to this virus, and I can’t help but wonder which senior year I would rather live out. I spent majority of my graduation ceremony waiting for it to be over and feeling angry that I didn’t get to give a speech, but is that better than not having one at all? It’s a question that I just don’t have the answer to. One of my biggest disappointments in high school was being salutatorian. I was predicted to be valedictorian from the time I was in elementary school. I worked hard for this honor only to see it come crashing down my junior year, when I received an A- in AP Literature. When I finally made my peace with the fact that I would be ranked number two in the class rather than number one, my principal enlightened me that I would not get to give a speech during the graduation ceremony. Traditionally, the valedictorian and the salutatorian give speeches during the ceremony, but because my class had two valedictorians, I wouldn’t get a chance to speak. This was devastating for me. I had spent four years working my ass off, just to have it amount to nothing in the end. I never told anyone how much it hurt to not get to speak. How I had been looking forward to doing so all year. That I had already written a speech.

I have never told anyone about the speech I had written for my graduation ceremony. I don’t know why I kept it a secret; maybe it was because I was so ashamed that I would never get to read it to my class because I was second best. I had spent my entire life up to that point feeling like I didn’t belong, and not getting to give my speech just seemed to solidify that feeling. So I never told anybody about it. I emailed it to myself, moved into a private folder, and that’s where it has sat ever since. Until now.

I’m not sure what inspired me to finally share this speech. Maybe it’s realizing that even though I didn’t like high school, at least I got to finish out my senior year with some happy memories. Maybe it’s seeing the class of 2020 having the moment they’ve spent their entire lives working towards- that walk across the stage to receive their diploma- being ripped away. Or maybe some deep, hidden part of me feels that it’s time. Whatever the reason may be, I want to share with you all the salutatorian speech I never got to give.

As much as I wish I could stand up here and reminisce with all of you about how great the last four years have been, lying is just not in my nature. This may come as a shock to some of you, but high school is not something I feel I will look back on fondly. I have spent majority of the past four years waiting for high school to be over. I have contemplated my own suicide more times than I can count. I have told myself over and over again that things will get better; I just have to get through this. Many times, it felt as though we were sorted into the “in group” and the “out group” back in first grade, and have been forced to carry those labels ever since. I, like many of you, was sorted into the out group. Because of that, my speech is not for those who will look back on our time together and cherish all the great memories they made. Instead, my speech is for those, who like me, have spent the last four years counting down the days when they could finally bust out of out here. My speech is for the students who never got to find out what they were capable of, because they spent their entire academic career being overlooked and ignored. My speech is for the people who worked hard and pushed themselves to their limits, but never received any real credit. My speech is for the outcasts.

I want you all know that this doesn’t have to be your entire story. What you were labeled in the past does not have to be your label for the future. Outside of these walls, no one is going to care whether you were “in” or “out.” We spend so much of our lives thinking and being told that what we do in high school paves our way for the rest of our lives, but the secret they don’t tell you is that it does not need to. You have the opportunity to change your story; to make it into whatever you want. From now on, no one is going to force you into the shadows unless you let them, because the truth is, no one cares who you were in high school. And there will be more ways to prove your worth than popularity status. If you become a doctor, a hospital isn’t going to care how many friends you had, they’re too concerned with whether or not you know how to properly stitch a wound. Construction companies (which are just as vital as hospitals) aren’t going to be impressed by where you sat at lunch, but they will be impressed by the Class A license in your wallet. If you apply for a teaching job, that school isn’t going to be concerned with whether or not you were on the homecoming court; they’re going to be concerned by your qualifications and your abilities. If you didn’t like who you were in high school, this is your chance to change.

I’m not saying that the experiences we had in the last four years don’t matter, because they do. They can and they will influence decisions we make from here on out. But that doesn’t mean they have to define us. Just because you slacked off in high school doesn’t mean you have to slack off for the rest of your life. Just because you didn’t have many friends doesn’t mean you won’t make tons of connections a year from now. Just because you felt like you didn’t fit in here doesn’t mean you won’t fit anywhere. High school made guide us, but it does not define us. If the people here didn’t recognize your worth or your value, then that’s on them. Because they missed out on what may have been a life changing friendship or an astounding student, and that’s their loss, so move on.

My advice for each and every one of you here, especially the ones who were cast out of the spotlight, is to be better. Be better than who you were. If in five, ten, or twenty years, you can look back on yourself in this moment and confidently say that you are a better person today than you were yesterday, then you’ve been successful. You can decide if these four years define your life or if they were just stepping stones on your path to greatness. You can choose if this is who you want to be for the remainder of your time here, or you can choose to be better. Take risks, force yourself into the spotlight, show kindness to strangers, travel the world- do whatever you need to do to be a better person. And when you do look back on those four years, instead of being angry and bitter, remind yourself that you got through it, even though you were in the “out” group. That despite every setback, you made it to the end of high school. Remember that you walked into this gym with your head held high, even if it was just to keep your cap from slipping off. Remember that right here, in this moment, it’s impossible to tell the “in group” from the “out group.” This proves that we all have the power to be more than what other people say we are. We have the ability to change the narrative that has been written about us. We are all capable of being better. A teacher we all know once asked “Why are we here?” And maybe the answer is as simple as “To be better.” To be better than who we are and better than who others thought we were. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know that I have to be better than an unruly outcast who is filled with anxiety and bitterness. So, Mr. Hentges, that’s my answer. I’m here to be better. I know I can be kinder. I know I can be more understanding. I know I can be better than who I am now. What about the rest of you?

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Quarantine Surgery

Like many of you, I have been spending a lot more time at home than usual, due to the COVID-19 outbreaks that are sweeping through the world. This means many of us have to find new, creative ways to keep ourselves from going insane from boredom. In the past two weeks, I have kept my house way cleaner than usual, washed out my make-up brushes, taken a ton of baths and showers, and purchased concert tickets for October. Last night, after my third bath of the week, I decided to do a slight surgery on my leg. Before I get into that, I feel need to give a back story to help set the scene.

When I was in high school, I developed a cherry angioma on the back of my leg. A cherry angioma is a growth on the skin made up of blood vessels. This spot started out tiny and grew to be about the size of a coffee bean. Whenever I poked it with a pin or nicked it with a razor, it would bleed like crazy and take forever to stop. When I finally went to get it removed, months after it first appeared, the doctor gave me a shot in the leg to numb the area, cut off the angioma, and cauterized the spot to keep it from bleeding. This whole process probably took less than ten minutes.

senile-angioma(A standard looking cherry angioma)

A few years ago, I developed another one of these angiomas right above my ankle. This one was a lot smaller and didn’t bleed as much as the last one, so I was hoping it would just disappear. Over the past three years, it has stayed the size of a standard mole, but I still wanted it gone. I have made appointments at the doctor, only to cancel them because something came up. I have tried to convince my friends to cut it off. I have tried to burn it off using a lighter (I lasted about 1 second and don’t recommend this method). Finally, last night whilst in the tub, I decided I was getting rid of it once and for all.

I knew I had gauze and medical tape left over from my breast reduction to keep the bleeding contained, so there shouldn’t have been any issues. I grabbed my toenail clipper, lined it up with the spot, and clipped. And in that moment, I learned why the numbing shot was necessary with the first one. That little spot burned like hell! And the blood wasted no time oozing out. Now is probably a good time a mention that I bleed like a stuck pig. While holding a tissue to my wound, I realized I should have gotten my supplies ready before I clipped. Pressing the tissue to my leg, I awkwardly hobbled to the shelf that held all my first aid stuff. Pulling the tub down to the floor, all the while holding the tissue in place, I rifled through it to find the medical tape and the gauze. That was when I learned to always check to make sure you have the needed supplies if you’re going to do self-surgery. Surprise, surprise, I did not have gauze pads like I thought I did, and my tissue was running out of time.

IMG_8214(My first tissue right before throwing it away)

I wobbled back into the bathroom to clean the smeared blood off of my leg while I came up with a Plan B. I decided a cotton ball covered with medical tape should do the trick. I finished cleaning, grabbed a new tissue, and hobbled back to the shelf to grab the bag of cotton balls before sitting back on the floor. It was still bleeding pretty good, and was coming out faster than I anticipated.

IMG_8217(Close up of the wound after I cleaned my leg off)

Despite the blood and the feeling of lightheadedness I was getting, I managed to trade the tissue for a cotton ball and tape it down to hold it in place.

IMG_8218(My DIY medical bandage and the second tissue)

Feeling better about the entire situation, I went to bed. At about 2am, I woke up to a burning pain coming from my leg. Apparently, I had moved enough to knock my patch job loose, which enraged my little wound. I groggily stumbled to the bathroom and flipped on the light. When my eyes finally adjusted, I pulled the homemade bandage off, which hurt way worse than it should have. Pieces of the cotton ball were stuck to the wound and it was still bleeding, but not as bad. I slapped two standard band aids over it, and hoped for the best before going back to sleep.

IMG_8222(2am patch job) *pic taken when I got up this morning and not at 2am

When I woke up this morning, I peeled off the band aids to find the thing had finally stopped bleeding. I hopped in the shower, and the second the hot water stream hit my little spot, I let out a dramatic gasp of pain. The little thing burned so bad, I felt it halfway up my leg. I showered as fast as I could, and then dapped some rubbing alcohol on it, which also burned really badly. I’ve been keeping an eye on it throughout the day, and it seems to be healing quite well. Even though I learned a lot of important lessons and this probably wasn’t my smartest decision, I’d say my little quarantine surgery was a success! Here’s hoping the angioma doesn’t grow back!

IMG_8224(My wound now; it’s looking good!)

Things to Do After an Awful Week

We all have times where life just seems to be kicking us while we’re down. Sometimes it’s a day, sometimes a week. Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging on forever and life will just never stop sucking, and you’ll be doomed to live in this state of shit for the rest of your days. In the past few weeks, it has felt like I simply cannot get a win. I’ve been like I can’t do anything right and that my entire life is doomed to be worthless. In the past week alone, I’ve broken down at work… twice, got bad news concerning my family, have attempted to figure out why my body feels as though it hates me just to have the doctor run one blood test, come up with nothing, and then tell me there’s nothing else for them to do, and I’m not 100% positive, but I’m pretty sure I got dumped. This week has been nothing short of shit, but thankfully I’ve had the weekend to recuperate. This has given me a lot of time to consider the best things to do after an utterly crap week.

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Watch a romantic comedy… or three

There’s no shame in binge watching your favorite rom-com or finding one that you’ve been meaning to watch forever. I’m writing this as I’m on the second Bridget Jones movie, and I cannot believe I have gone my whole life without seeing these movies.

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Take a hot bath or shower… or both

There is a nothing that a hot bath and/or shower can’t temporarily cure.

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Watch a horror movie

I love watching a horror movie when I’ve been having a rough time with life, because it reminds me that no matter how bad my life is going, at least it’s going better than the poor suckers in the movie. I may have had a crap week, but at least I’m not tied up in some crazy woman’s basement (bonus points if you can name that movie).

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Get some ice cream

Because honestly, you probably deserve it!

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Clean up

If you’re anything like me, your home probably reflects the tough week you’ve had. Just putting everything away, doing some dishes, and running a vacuum through my living room makes me feel a million times better. Plus, you actually accomplish something!

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Get drunk… like really drunk

Full disclosure- I didn’t actually do this this past weekend, but believe me when I say I tried. However, I can confirm that I am typing this whilst drinking a beer.

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Make a really good meal

Just because life isn’t going your way, doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious food. Make yourself your favorite comfort meal and eat it until you’re so full, you couldn’t possibly eat another bite. If you don’t feel like cooking or can’t cook so well, treat yourself and go out to eat at your favorite restaurant.

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Hang out with your best friend

Even if you just sit around watching trashy T.V. about spoiled, rich girls spending thousands on wedding dresses, just spending time with your bestie can make you feel a million times better.

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Write a semi-shit blog post

Exhibit A can be found above.

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The past week or two or five may not have been great, but at least my weekend wasn’t too craptastic. Luckily, there’s no rule that says next week can’t be absolutely fabulous! Keep working your perfectly imperfectly selves, and I’ll keep working on mine.

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Tightrope

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I feel like I’m walking a tightrope; trying my hardest not to fall. Concentrating so hard on keeping my balance, I stop noticing what’s waiting beneath me. When I look down, I see two different sides that would catch me if I were to misstep. Two sides that are so different; one shows me a future and the other my past. One side is welcoming and full of light. I see myself being safe and cared for. I see a future filled with smiles and laughs and maybe even love. I see my face smiling and full of pure, honest joy with my eyes shining bright. I see days and nights filled with a kind of security I’ve never known before. I can hear the laughter coming from me that sounds so relaxed and carefree. I see my chance to have a bright future in which I could truly be happy, and I want nothing more than to let myself fall in; to take that plunge and finally let myself open up. I want to dive in, head first, and see what this future holds. And just when I think maybe I could, I see what else is hiding below.

The other side is dark and cold, full of the pain and heartbreak I’ve felt so many times before. I can see my face, sad and defeated, with tears dripping down my cheeks. I can hear myself gasping for breath between sobs and feel the weight squeezing down on my chest. I feel the same agony I’ve felt every other time I’ve let myself fall. I see my past broken down into all the times I let someone else break my heart. I remember all the boys who came before, each taking a small piece of me when they left. Unlike the others, I can actually see his face telling me how worthless I am. I see my past self learning to believe it and accepting the fact that I didn’t deserve any better. I feel the bitter sting of my tears each and every time he told me our fights were all my fault. I hear the longing in my voice as I beg him to forgive me again and again. I see all the shame and guilt I carried with me when I was with him. I see myself falling apart over and over as I fought to get away. I watch myself scramble to pick up all the broken pieces he left behind and fit them back together. I see all the blood, sweat, and tears I shed while learning to rebuild myself for three years after him. I watch myself rise up off the floor, finally feeling whole and healthy and ready to try again.  

I balance myself on the tightrope, trying to decide which side scares me more. If I fall to one side, the side that holds my past, I am terrified I won’t have the strength to claw my way out of it again. That I will get swept up in the darkness, and remain there until it swallows me whole. That the people around me will just look on as I sink deeper and deeper into myself. But if I fall into the other, the side that holds the happiness and light, I’m afraid to find that it’s all a lie. If I fall into this side and discover that there’s nothing there to catch me at all, just an illusion tempting me to fall. So, for now, I remain trapped walking this tightrope, hoping I don’t make any mistakes. Focusing on not losing my balance while trying to ignore what’s down below. Keeping myself rigid and tense, knowing that I can’t afford to relax. Putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that I will inevitably fall to one side or the other.

 

If You Bring a Guy to Your Home

If you bring a guy to your home, he’ll lay down in your bed. Then he’ll say he needs to throw up. When he goes to throw up, he’ll get it all over your bathroom before laying back down. Then he’ll say he’s going to take a shower. He’ll get back up, turn your shower on, and stay in there until you start to worry. When you get up to check on him, you’ll find him sitting down, passed out on the floor of your shower. You’ll go back to your room and try to figure out what to do, and you’ll hear him finally step out of the tub. When he doesn’t come back into the room, you’ll check on him again. The shower will still be running, and he’ll be passed out, naked on your bathroom floor. So you’ll shut the water off, and cover him with a blanket, making sure not to peek at his private parts. You’ll start to panic about what to do, so you’ll call your friend to help you. She’ll tell you that there’s nothing anyone can do and to just let him sleep it off on your floor. While you’re still on the phone, he’ll stumble into the room and fall into your bed and pass out again. You’ll make sure the blanket is tucked between you and him, and you’ll even take off your shirt so maybe he won’t feel so embarrassed when he wakes up. Eventually, you’ll fall asleep and wake up the next morning, afraid of what you’ll find. He’ll get up to put some clothes back on, and you’ll be sure not look. He’ll use your toothbrush to brush his teeth and then he’ll lay back down beside you, and you won’t feel awkward at all. You’ll cuddle and kiss the morning away, until you have to get up and go to work. You’ll feel excited and happy and spend all day thinking about him; you won’t even mind when you finally get home and have to clean up all his puke.

You’ll spend the next week talking with him and getting flustered when he comes over. You’ll be amazed that it’s actually going so well. You’ll get into your first argument with him, but it will turn out okay. He’ll tell he wants you, and you’ll believe him, so you’ll end up staying the night in his bed. You’ll spend another morning in his arms, and he’ll talk vaguely about a future with you. You’ll start to think maybe this will be the one that finally works out and start to let your guard down.

You’ll go to work, and he’ll leave for the weekend, and when he comes back, he’ll come over to your house again. When he comes over, you’ll be cooking him the dinner you’ve spent all day stressing about. While you’re cooking dinner, he’ll watch a baseball game and barely acknowledge you. You’ll try to make forced conversation, but it won’t go anywhere, so you’ll try to just let it be. You’ll serve him the food, and sit mostly in silence while he keeps watching the game. After he eats, he’ll get up to leave. When he closes your door, a part of you will feel like it’s over, but you won’t know why. You’ll try to tell yourself you’re just being crazy, but you’ll end up on your couch with silent tears streaming down your face.

When you wake up the next morning, you’ll feel a little better, but then you’ll have a really hard day. You’ll ask if you can see him, and he’ll say you can’t, because he’s leaving town tonight. Then he’ll tell you, hours later, that he got hurt. You’ll be kind and caring, but you’ll worry about him and hope he’s okay. You’ll try to talk to him the next day, but he’ll be distant and vague, and then suddenly stop responding to you all together. So, you’ll wait until morning, and try again, and you’ll end up making plans with him. You’ll be eager to see him all day, and wait all night for him to say he’s coming over, but he’ll never show.

You’ll tell him the next day that if he doesn’t want to see you anymore, he can just tell you, but he’ll say that’s not true. You’ll try to ask what’s going on, and he’ll tell you he wants to take things slow. You’ll say that’s okay, and think things will get better again, but he’ll just go back to ignoring you. You’ll keep asking him if he wants out, and he’ll deny it every time, before going back to bailing on your plans and ignoring your messages. You’ll try to talk to him again, and you’ll think you’ve solved the problem with him, but then nothing will change. You’ll spend day after wondering what you did to cause him to change his mind. You’ll lay awake a t night and go over every conversation you ever had, trying to figure out what you did that was so wrong.

One day, he’ll message you to tell you he might be moving away. You’ll break down and cry and call your best friend, and she’ll tell you that everything is okay, because =, after all, there’s a chance he’ll stay. You’ll ask to see him that night, and he’ll say he’ll text you to come over. You’ll lay there for two hours, your phone clutched in your hands, waiting for him to message you. You’ll realize he ever will, so you’ll get hurt and angry, and when he tells you the next day he fell asleep, you’ll try your best to just ignore him.

You’ll drive two hours away, but all you’ll be thinking about is him. You’ll try to be strong, but you’ll break down and message him. He’ll actually respond and you’ll talk a little. You’ll ask to see him when you get home, and he’ll say you can’t because he’ll already be gone. When you get home the next day, he’ll still be in town. You’ll pretend it doesn’t bother you and try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but deep down, you’ll be hurt.

The next day, you’ll see he’s just leaving, but he’ll actually start to talk to you. You’ll forget about being upset that he lied and hope that maybe whatever issue was there has disappeared. You’ll talk for the next few days, and it’ll feel like it did before. He’ll suggest hanging out with you when he gets home, and of course you’ll agree. When he gets home, you’ll wait to hear from him and be excited to see him, but the hours will tick by and you won’t hear a word from him. When you finally cave and ask him about it, he’ll tell you it’s your fault and ignore you the rest of the night.

You’ll stop responding to his messages for a while and start to think maybe all of the other guys were right. You’ll start to think about how you really are worthless, and maybe your ex wasn’t lying when he said you could never do any better. You’ll convince yourself you deserve to be treated this way and that you shouldn’t even try, because you are destined to be alone for the rest of your life. You’ll decide to give it one last try, and send him a message one last time. You’ll put your heart into that message and shake when you hit send. You’ll see that he’s opened it and anxiously wait to see what he’ll say. He won’t even respond, and it’ll make you feel like you’re falling apart.

You’ll finally work up the courage to delete him, and as a few weeks pass, you’ll feel yourself starting to let go. You’ll finally stop thinking about him every minute of every day, and wondering what he’s doing and if he’s thinking about you too. When you’re finally starting to feel a little better, he’ll message you again. He’ll tell you he’s sorry and a little bit about what’s going been on. He’ll tell you he might be moving in two days, and you won’t know how to respond. You’ll let his message sit all day and into the night, until the anger fades, the sadness passes, and you can think normally again. You’ll give a kind hearted response and then wait to hear if he’s moving away or not. He won’t just tell you on his own, so your anxiety will soar until it makes you physically sick to the point that you have to leave work, because you can’t even sit straight due to the knots in your stomach. You’ll cave once again and ask him, and he’ll tell you he’s not leaving. You’ll feel all the tension you’ve been carrying finally release and you’ll let yourself fall into thinking everything will still work out.

You’ll re-add him, and he’ll snap you almost every day. At first you won’t want to reply, but eventually you’ll give in. You’ll ask him if he wants to go for a walk, knowing full well he’ll probably say no.

He says he would, but he’s leaving soon, but once again, he won’t leave until later the next day. He’ll keep sending you messages, and you’ll keep responding, and even start to be the one who reaches out. Then he’ll stop messaging you first, so you’ll start sending him things you hope he’ll respond to. When he doesn’t, you’ll feel a deep sadness that you’ll do your best to ignore. When he does, you’ll get excited and try to figure out how to keep the conversation from ending.

One night, you’ll go out with a friend to keep yourself from staring at your phone. You’ll run into him and his friends, because of course he’s there. He won’t acknowledge you, but the second you sit down across the bar, he’ll send you a message that you won’t be able to keep from responding to. Then he’ll ignore you the rest of the night, and you’ll start to feel lost. When you get home, you’ll lay in bed and curse your perfect memory, as you play every moment over and over in your head. You’ll try to tell yourself to be patient, and that everything will be okay, but you’ll still lie awake, trying to figure out what you did to make things go this way.

You’ll keep messaging him because you can’t help yourself, but you’ll feel terrible  because of it. You’ll find new ways to distract yourself from the hurt and will even open up to your coworkers about it. They’ll tell you that you deserve better, and you’ll explain why you don’t. They’ll tell you that you need to talk to him about this because it will only get worse. You’ll tell them you’re afraid to because you don’t want to lose him completely, but they’ll remind you that being alone is better than having only half of a man.

You’ll decide to give it one last shot, and ask him if he wants to hang out with you over the weekend. He’ll tell you he’ll be out of town, and you won’t be able to keep yourself from wondering if that’s actually the truth. You’ll think about all the times he told you the same thing, only to find out it was a lie. You’ll think about how this whole situation has been eating you up inside. You’ll think about all the guys that came before him, who treated you like you were nothing, and you’ll start to wonder if maybe you are. You’ll assure yourself it’s better to know, so you’ll send him a message that lays out all your thoughts and feelings. You’ll tell him you understand, but you have feelings too. You’ll tell him you’ll go slow and do anything else he needs you to, but you can’t do this weird in-between thing anymore. He’ll tell you he’s not ready to date, but you’ll know what that really means. You’ll remember he tried to date another girl not so long ago, and think that maybe there was more to that story than he told you. You’ll realize he just doesn’t want you, and you’ll feel yourself start to break. He’ll tell you what you’re thinking isn’t true, and that it’s him and not you, but you just won’t believe what he says anymore.

You’ll barely make it through the door of your house, before being consumed by tears. He’ll ask if you can remain friends, and you’ll tell him you can’t because it’s just too hard. Your sobs will tear through you, and you’ll feel like you can’t breathe. You’ll wonder why you even tried in the first place. You’ll hear a voice in your head telling you how worthless you really are, and you’ll start to think about how you’ll never find anyone else. You’ll think about all your friends and how happy they seem to be with their partners. You’ll think about how tired you are of being the single one and how you are just so sick of being alone. You’ll ask yourself why you dared to hope when you should have known better. You’ll think about how you’re nothing and feel like something is crushing your chest. You’ll lay there and cry, desperately wishing it had worked out this time.

Your best friend will insist on coming over, so you’ll try but fail to pull yourself together. She’ll listen while you talk and cry, and say the thoughts coursing through your brain, and you’ll suddenly realize that they sound insane. She’ll tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you, and some boys are just cowards. She’ll get you to crack a smile, and you’ll start to feel a little better. You’ll dry your tears and wipe the smeared makeup off your cheeks. You’ll get up and brush yourself off, because deep down you know you’ve already survived a hell of a lot worse. Your best friend will stay with you until you’re ready for bed, while another one will make you laugh with all the crazy things she says. They’ll both remind you that it takes a lot more than one, immature boy to break your heart. But even though you know you’ll be fine, you’ll go to bed alone and lay awake, asking yourself why you chose to bring a guy to your home…

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Being Safe While Living Alone

I’ve been living alone for almost a year now, and although I’ve mostly enjoyed it, I have also learned to take some precautions. While living alone can be very refreshing, it does come with some risks. I often think about how I could go missing or have some sort of accident at home, and it would probably take days for someone to notice. Over the past year, I have learned a few tricks that make me feel a little more relaxed and a lot more secure about living by myself. These things aren’t necessarily just for those who live alone, because I think pretty much anyone could benefit from them, but I do think they can help those who are living by themselves feel a little safer about their living situation.

Before I launch into that, I want to give a little background on the things that are going to make this list, for the lack of a better word, biased. Many of the tips I have looked up online involve having the locks changed, installing a chain lock, and investing in a security system. I rent an apartment, and all of those things are not an option. The locks are not changed every time someone new moves in, I am not allowed to install any sort of lock, especially one that only locks on the inside, and I am not allowed to install my own security system. Therefore, a good portion of the recommended tips are not possible for me and aren’t possible for a lot of people. If you are able to do these things, that’s great! But I will not be including them in my list for the above reasons. With that said, here is my list of tips for living alone.

If you have sliding doors or large sliding windows, put a board in the bottom track. Just about any department store sells some type of board, so all you need is one close to the length of the track. It doesn’t need to fit exactly; just make sure when the door or window meets the board, the gap isn’t wide enough for someone to fit through. You can also use old broom handles, thick dowels, or anything else that is hard enough to withstand someone pushing the door or window against it. Patio doors are actually quite easy to break into and everyone knows windows aren’t the most secure (especially cheap apartment ones), so the board is an added security measure that makes it a lot harder to break in.

If you rent, get to know your landlord and keep them in the loop. If I’m going out of town for a week or longer, I let my landlord know. This way, she has a heads up that my apartment is supposed to be empty and she keeps an extra eye on it. I also keep my landlord in the loop with major things going on in my life. For example, I let her know when my job changed and what my work hours would look like. This way, I have another person who can look out for me and could potentially notice if something seems off. I have also worked very hard to get on her good side and earn her trust, so if there is an issue with the apartment or with someone who lives in the complex, I know she will listen to me and take my concerns seriously.

Make friends with your mailman. If something does happen to you, your mailman may be one of the first to notice that something is wrong. If you suddenly go weeks without getting your mail or there has been a package sitting outside your door for a few days, chances are the mailman will notice. I’ve lived in the same apartment complex for the past four years, and I’ve gotten to know my mailman quite well in that time. When my roommate and I would be gone for summer break, the mailman would notice that we hadn’t been getting our mail and would double check with our landlord, just to make sure there wasn’t a bigger issue. This is also where keeping your landlord in the loop comes in handy. Go introduce yourself to your mailman and get to know them. Say hi to them whenever you see them and be friendly. A little kindness can go a long way, and it’s always a good idea to have an extra person looking out for you.

Tell your friends when you are meeting someone new or going out alone. When you don’t have a roommate to make sure you make it home safely from a date or a night of drinking, it’s a good idea to let your friends in on your whereabouts (I also allow some of my closer friends to see my location on their Snap-maps). If I let my friends know I’m planning to go out alone, they can keep an eye on me to make sure I’m safe or check in with me. If I ever went on a date (maybe someday), I’ll let them know who I’m going with, where we are going, and when I get home. Again, it’s always important to keep people in the loop, especially when you live alone. When I’m out with my friends, I let them know when I make it home, so that they know I made it there safely.

Lock your door when you’re not able to keep an eye on it. I know most people lock their doors when they go to sleep, but it’s also a good idea to lock your door whenever you’re not around it. I lock my door when I have music cranked up or when I’m not really paying attention, when I’m taking a shower or bath, or when I’m lying in bed. Anytime I can’t keep an eye on who might be coming into my apartment, especially when I’m not expecting anyone, I keep my door locked.

Keep your phone in the same room as you. I know most people almost always have their phones on them, but there are times when you go to take a shower and maybe leave your phone to charge in your bedroom, or something similar to that. If you live alone, keep your phone near you. If you have your phone in the bathroom and fall in the shower, you don’t have very far to go to call for help. If someone happens to break in while you’re inside your apartment (which does happen, believe me), you don’t have to go hunting for your phone if you have it with you. You don’t need to have it glued to your side, but it’s a good idea to at least keep your phone in the same room as you.

Give a spare key to a friend, preferably one that lives in the same town/ area. This is so much safer than a hide-a-key, because this way your spare is actually with someone, so there’s less of a chance of a stranger finding it and using it. If you give a spare to a trusted friend, if an emergency situation arises, you don’t have to either figure out how to get them a key or explain where the spare is. I’ve had to leave town for an emergency, and needed someone to feed my dog. It’s so much easier to coordinate this when someone I trust already has a spare key. I feel safer knowing someone has my spare key rather than having it sit under a flowerpot. I also keep a second spare in my house, just in case I need to give it to someone different for whatever reason.

Save your local police department’s non-emergency number in your phone. This is something I never thought I would need until I did. I’ve called this number for a variety of reasons, and it’s paid off every time. 911 is great, but it can take forever to get connected to your local law enforcement; this way, if I need to reach the local police department, I have the number for their specific office. In all the time I’ve lived in this complex, I’ve never needed to call 911 (thankfully), but, as I said, I have used the non-emergency number for a variety of reasons (usually intense fights in my parking lot). Look up the number for your local law enforcement and save it. If you never use it, no harm done, but if the time does come that you need it, you’ll be glad you didn’t need to spend the time looking it up.

Keep a hidden cash stash. Keep a stack of around $100-$200 of cash hidden somewhere only you know. If your apartment ever gets broken into, or if your wallet ever gets stolen or lost, you have access to some money. I once had fraudulent activity on my debit card and my credit card in the same week. Both accounts were frozen because of this, so I had no access to my money. Thankfully, I had some cash on me, but since then, I’ve made sure to keep a secret stash, just in case.

Get renter’s insurance. It’s usually not that expensive- I have mine added to my car insurance and it’s only $6 a month. You never know when you might need it. When my apartment was broken into a few years ago, I didn’t have it and it sucked! I have it now, and while I hope I never need it, I know I’ll be happy to have it if I ever need it again. Most landlords and rental companies only have insurance for damage to their property, so renter’s insurance helps protect yours.

If possible, get a pet. Not only do pets serve as great companions, but they can also add an extra layer of protection. My dog may be a giant baby, but a random person doesn’t know that. He’s big and has a deep, intimidating bark, and he will charge at strangers in the house if I’m not around. When someone attempted to break into my apartment a few months ago and again last week, I’m convinced that it was my dog’s loud bark that scared them away. I also am pretty positive that if I had had my dog when my apartment did get broken into, he would have heard them come in and would have alerted me that someone was inside and probably would have also scared them away. I know some places don’t allow pets, but if they do, it’s not a bad idea to get one. They are great for loneliness too! There’s no way I could live alone if I didn’t have my dog.

As much as we like to think bad things and accidents don’t happen to us, the fact is that they do. My two roommates and I were all home, sleeping when our apartment was broken into. In the year I’ve alone, I’ve had two break in attempts (that I know of). Bad things happen, and no one is immune to them. It’s always better to be safe now than sorry later, because there is no way to know when bad things or accidents might happen. Do what you need to do to protect yourself, and stay safe.