Stop and Think Before Eating that Turkey

Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving – I love the food, I love spending time with my family, I love the sentiment behind it, and I really, really love the break from school –  but I think it’s also important to recognize and acknowledge its history while we’re celebrating it. It’s especially important when you consider recent events: the Keystone Pipeline – which, if you recall, was heavily protested by Native Americans – leaked over 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota a few days ago.

Not Released (NR)

We learn in elementary school that we celebrate Thanksgiving to honor the first harvest of the Pilgrims after Native Americans had helped them learn how to farm and survive on the land after arriving what eventually would become the United States of America.
Image result for first thanksgiving

We draw hand turkeys, make little paper dolls of pilgrims and Native Americans, and watch Pocahontas, learning  how the pilgrims and Native Americans hated each other, but came together after clearing up some misunderstandings and they all live happily ever after.

Image result for pocahontas

As we get older, we learn that really wasn’t the case. I mean, there was a feast celebrating the harvest around Thanksgiving time that was celebrated by about 50 Europeans and 90 Native Americans. That’s true. The “happily ever after”? Not so much. In reality, Pocahontas was was about 9 or 10 when John Smith came to America. When she was 15 or 16, she was kidnapped by the English, forced to marry John Rolfe, then died when she was 20.

Image result for pocahontas

They changed her name to Rebecca, too

People don’t like to talk about this, but that’s why it needs to be said: this country’s history is not without the suffering of Native peoples and, as a nation, we still have progress to make in alleviating the long-term effects of that suffering. 

There’s the Keystone Pipeline, first of all, which was protested for, as we know now, 100% valid environmental concerns and the potential destruction of sacred Native American lands and burial sites. Native American reservations, which were lands that the US government allowed the Native tribes to live on (despite the fact that they were here first), have low standards of living and the people who live there suffer from high rates of poverty, substandard housing, lack of utilities like electricity and running water, and sub-par health services.

Then there are things like this:

This was from a textbook assigned to Canadian third graders. Recently. Thankfully, backlash on social media caused the textbooks to be recalled, but, frankly, it is 2017. This shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We shouldn’t have schools telling our children that the Native peoples “agreed to move to different areas to make room for the new settlements.”

And there are the little things, like the name of that Washington football team or the fact that people still dress up as “Indians” on Halloween, like their culture is a costume, like they’re not real. It’s the fact that they’re treated like second-class citizens despite the fact that they were here first.

I’m not saying people should stop celebrating Thanksgiving – that’s not what I’m trying to communicate here. In my opinion, I feel that people have certain ideas about the history of Thanksgiving and the colonies that need to be corrected. Eat the turkey and the gravy and the mashed potatoes (I know I will, and to excess), give thanks to everything you’re thankful for, and spend time with your family watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. However,  also be mindful of history. It’s as important as your present.

 

Advertisements

So I Lost My Phone…

I’ve got four exams next week so let’s make this quick.

I’ve always meant to talk about this whole incident, I just never got around to it for whatever reason. Maybe I was just blocking it out of my memory.

Looking backing on this, I’m the biggest idiot to ever live on the face of this earth, but never mind that! On to reliving horrible, stressful memories!

I had just come back from dinner with my roommates and I was looking for my phone. I couldn’t find it, but I wasn’t too worried because I’d misplace it all the time. It was in a white  case, I had a white bedspread, and my eyes are awful even when I’m wearing my glasses (I should probably get that checked out) so at this point not knowing where my phone is was part of the normal routine.

tenor

I asked my roommate to call my phone and I didn’t hear anything, which made me incredibly Uneasy. Then roommate says that instead of ringing, she went straight to voicemail, which made me quite Nervous, because I knew my phone wasn’t dead so it had to be off.

So I ran back to the dining hall and asked very calmly and collectedly to be let back in so I can see if I left my phone at the table and therefore be set free from this swirling vortex of fear, anxiety, and self-hatred. I didn’t just lose my phone. I had lost my debit card and my Rutgers ID and my state ID and whatever tenuous control I had over my life.

I spent the next four days obsessively checking Find My iPhone just in case the heinous thief who had stolen my phone and turned it off suddenly became wildly incompetent at stealing phones. No such luck.

Let me just say that this story has a happy ending. My phone, debit card, Rutgers ID, and state ID turned up eventually.

But for the phone days I was phone-less, life was very difficult in ways I didn’t expect.

The lack of contact with my friends was strange. My friends and family were kind enough to switch all conversations to Facebook now that texting wasn’t an option (My dad just emailed me, but he did that anyway so there wasn’t much adjustment there), but I could only interact with them while I had access to a computer, which wasn’t always. So that was a bit odd.

without-my-cell-phone-i-wont-be-able-toYou also never realize how much you appreciate being able know anything at any time. How did people in the olden times do it? We have the power to find out breaking news in a country thousands of miles and also how tall Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is whenever we want. Appreciate that, kids. You’ll never know when that power will go away.

in case you were wondering

I never knew when the buses were coming. I never knew what time it was. What if one of my professors suddenly sends out an email canceling class while I was on my way to that class? That never happens, but what if? Not having my phone felt oddly isolating. It was like I was cut off from the rest of the world and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.  

Anyway, on Monday I got an email saying that my lost property had been found and I could pick it up from Public Safety Building. Thank the Lord! I almost left in the middle of class to go get it, but there were only twenty people there so I figured it would be kind of obvious if I left.

So as soon as I could, I go to Public Safety Building and wait a good half-hour for the guy who returns lost items (AKA The Most Wonderful Man In The World) to get back from his lunch break and then my phone was returned to me, my debit card and IDs perfectly intact.

“So where was it?” I asked, turning over my phone in my hands to make sure that it was real. I could hear choirs singing in my head.

singing-angels

“Oh, on the bus,” said The Greatest Man Who Has Ever Lived Or Will Live.  “Have a good one!”

“Thank you, kind sir! I shall name my firstborn after you!”

(I didn’t say that. That’d be weird.)

I was a little confused about how my phone ended up on a bus because I am 100% sure I left it at the dining hall. I’m pretty sure someone took it, but did they have a change of heart? Did they look at my ID picture and think, “No, the world has done enough to this unfortunate soul”? Was my phone just really easy to lose? I may never know.

It was definitely an interesting experience living without my phone for a few days. Would I repeat it? No. (Have I? Yes, against my will.) And I’m sure one could say all sorts of insightful things about technology’s effects on society and how people experience the world. How connected everything is these days, friends and strangers and information.

But like I said, I have four exam next week, so I guess you guys can think about it. Maybe leave your phone and go on a walk and you’ll see what I mean. But make sure you know where you leave your phone and not leave it up to the will of the universe whether or not you get it back.

 

It’s that time of the year again

If you are the type of person who likes to go through the posts of individual bloggers and search from recurring themes in their lives, then you might have noticed that I have a Thing about growing older and also the subjective nature of time. Therefore, it must be no surprise to you that I am once again writing a blog post about growing older and the subjective nature of time.
ongoing crisis

It’s probably the beginning of the year getting to me. I’m a junior, you know, which means all sorts of things such as the beginning of the end of “I’m an adult but I’m not a real adult” portion of my life. Which is terrifying to think about, let alone experience.

I know that one day I’m going to have the benefit of hindsight and I’ll be able to see that I was freaking out over nothing. Everything turned out fine and my best years were ahead of me.

But this isn’t hindsight yet. This is just plain old sight and I don’t like what I’m seeing. At least I can be comforted by the fact that I’m not the only one going through this at the moment. Every time I try bring this up to my friends they tell me to shut up. Instead of hurting my poor, delicate feelings, this comforts me. It’s one thing to freak out about the future, it’s a whole other thing to freak out about the future alone.

Besides the beginning of the year, I have another thing to blame for this acute sense of impending doom. I was cleaning my room the other day because the mess had finally become unbearable and I couldn’t walk through my room without stepping on something that may have been important once before it had met the bottom of my foot. While I was finding yet another missing sock, I had spotted my high school yearbook underneath a layer of dust.

giphy

First of all, I didn’t realize that high school was so long ago it had time to accumulate dust. I also didn’t realize that three years is long enough to forget half of the people in your graduating class existed.

I remember,though,  very clearly the teacher who had run the yearbook going on this whole spiel about how important the yearbook was and I sort of half-listened while she was doing it, but I guess enough time has passed for me to get what she was trying to say. It was kind of like holding a little bit of my history in my hands and I hadn’t realized enough time had passed for it to become history.

High school didn’t feel all that long ago, but it was. Neither did my first year of college, but enough time has passed for me to change and stay the same. How is it that the first two weeks of school can feel like they lasted three years, but three years can feel like they happened two seconds ago?

I don’t know.  

But it doesn’t matter how time feels, because time will pass whether you feel like it should or not.

604724dd50794a1803fb29213733bfc0-yearbook-quotes-quotable-quotes

this was my actual yearbook quote in case you were wondering how far back this whole time Thing goes

And now I walk forward into the great unknown (this feels like I’m referencing something, but if I am, I have no idea what it is) and I know I spent the majority of this post sounding terrified, and I am, but I’m also kind of excited. I wonder how that can be too.

 

You’ll Have to Pry My Harry Potter Obsession out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Today I want to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart:

Harry Potter.

I had first read the Harry Potter series when I was around nine or ten years old, definitely before Deathly Hallows was published in 2010 because I have distinct memories of my mother pre-ordering the book for me and then waiting impatiently for it to arrive. I had seen the movies before then, of course, because it was almost impossible not to (though I do know of certain exceptions) but it wasn’t until I read the books that I became, and I’ll admit this, obsessed.

I’m not ashamed to admit this, though I probably should be. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter (I frequently wonder what I could be and all the things I would be able to do if 30% of my  brain wasn’t devoted to ‘useless Harry Potter trivia’).  In the weeks leading up to the premiere of the sixth movie, Half-Blood Prince, I’d read the entire series non-stop. A week long cycle of  “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” to “All was well.” I must have read each book ten times that week, but I was twelve so I didn’t really have anything better to do.

I’ve seen the movies more times than I can count and every time I watch them I feel like it’s the first time. My friends and I won a Harry Potter trivia contest after three tie-breakers. I got a Pottermore account as soon as I could and was Sorted (and yes, I used a capital letter for that) into Ravenclaw, just as I knew I would even though I’m terrible at solving riddles.

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure!”

But it was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who was obsessed. I wasn’t even the most obsessed. Fans have gone on to make three entire musicals, a puppet show, a convention, fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, and countless other things that I probably don’t know about, which is a level of devotion and commitment that kind of scares me, to be honest. 

I loved Harry Potter when I was growing up and if you look at it from a certain perspective I’m still growing up, so I love Harry Potter with all my heart even now, when I haven’t had the time to read the Harry Potter books in an endless loop since I was about fifteen. The books were my childhood.  They were an entire generation’s childhood. We grew up with them and it seemed the books grew up right along with us as we grew up with Harry.  The later books in the series hit on some pretty dark themes, now that I look back on them now that I’m older. They touch on things like death, fascism, racism, war, sacrifice packaged up nearly in a story about wizards and magic. It strikes me now just how young everyone was. Lily and James Potter were only 21 when they died. Harry was 17 when he finally defeated Voldemort for good. I’m three years older than him and I can barely manage feed myself let alone save the world. When you’re nine or ten, 17 and 21 seem ancient, but not really.

I often wonder how Harry Potter grew to be so popular, the science of it, I guess. What exactly was it that caused Harry Potter to hit that thing in our brains that launched it into the cultural juggernaut that it is today (and will continue to be, she thinks hopefully). 

Was it the writing? The part of me that finds hyper-analyzing every little aspect of my life incredibly fun wants to say yes. That the setting, the plot, the style, the tone, the dozens of literary terms that I could shove in this sentence but I won’t because sometimes I forget what the all mean were all so brilliant and well-crafted that they impelled Harry Potter to fame. And  get me wrong, those things are definitely a part of it, but I’m not so besotted to say that the Harry Potter books are the best books ever written. Of all time. It’s a children’s book about wizards and not all well written books achieve this level of…I don’t even know what to call it. Impact? Adoration? Who knows. 

Maybe it was a matter of right place, right time? It hit just at the right time for an entire generation to get hooked.

Maybe the magical world Rowling created hit just the right spot between fantasy and reality. “Harry Potter goes to school just like me but he learns magic. He gets to take classes on charms and how to turn goblets into ravens. They learn about spells and hexes and there are flying cars and talking spiders and dragons! Dragons! That’s so cool! I wish that was me!” I still wish that was me, to be honest.

Still waiting for mine

Maybe it was a combination of both. Maybe it was a lot of other things. Maybe it was magic. Who knows?

But Harry Potter is not without its flaws. It’s been criticized for its LGBT and minority representation. Confirming that Dumbledore is gay in an interview is not the same as confirming it in the books. Rowling’s depiction of Native American culture in Pottermore was tone-deaf.   

But nothing’s perfect and nothing has to be perfect (as long as, of course, you don’t try to pretend that it’s perfect in the first place. It’s important to be critical of the things you love.) 

I love the Harry Potter books and will continue to do so for the rest of my life (probably). So I’ll read the supplemental material on Pottermore, I’ll read the play, I’ll watch the Fantastic Beasts movies, I’ll go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter someday, and do or buy whatever other thing corporate executives come up with to suck money from poor, innocent millennials who love Harry Potter.

Just take my money

I know it may seem weird to still be so obsessed, but isn’t it nice when a lot of people love something this much?

 

Thoughts from 39,000 Feet Up

I write these words while I fly from New Jersey to California –  passing over Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, the whole middle of America that I sometimes forget exists – as I realize that I am on a time machine.

do wee oooooh

Well, I’m on a plane, but your mind goes to a special place when you’ve been sitting in between a baby that alternates between being heart-meltingly adorable and the worst thing on planet earth at random intervals, and your mother, who seems to need to use the bathroom every half an hour, for the past who-knows-how-many hours. When you’re in that special place, an airplane and a time machine are the same thing.

I say this because the plane had taken off from Newark International Airport at 11:00 AM and will arrive in LAX at 1:00 AM after spending five hours and nineteen minutes in the air. If this sounds like the set-up to a weird riddle, let me tell you that the answer right now is time zones. There are two hours between 11:00 AM and 1:00 AM  and there are five hours between 11:00 AM and 1:00 AM and both of these things are somehow true at the same time. I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost three hours that I know I had somewhere. Where did they go?

(Okay I know where they went. I watched like five hours of Chopped in two hours while pretending the complementary trail mix was the wagyu beef in the mystery basket. Also, funnily enough one of the contestants on one of the episodes was from Jersey City, went to Rutgers, and made a fat sandwich for the appetizer. I was morally obliged to support her no matter what. The episode was the Midnight Snack Attack episode, if anyone’s curious).

Chef John is Me and I am Chef John

I think I have this obsession with time. Actually, that isn’t an “I think” statement. I know I have this weird obsession with time and if you know me in real life, you know I like to say that time is fake and maybe that’s true. Maybe time is a social construct, a system designed to measure the space between one moment and the next, and the only thing that is real are those moments themselves, but it feels real. And if it feels real then can it be fake?

Apparently I get philosophical when I’m on an airplane, or maybe this is the result of running on four hours of sleep for the past couple of days, but if I can’t think weird thoughts while sitting a metal tube hurling through the sky at who-know-how-many miles per hour, where and when can I? I’m living in a missing hour in the middle of nowhere in particular. The world is a strange place.

I don’t know why, but this felt appropriate

Right now it’s 12:05 PM but it is also 1:05 PM, just like it’s also 11:05 AM and 10:05 AM based on where the sun is in the sky? Is that what time is? A measure of the way the sun hits the Earth at any given moment? I wonder.

The Process ™ (patent pending)

Sometimes Writer’s Block (and yes, those words do deserve Capital Letters) happens and sometimes Writer’s Block happens while you’re trying to write a blog post. In case I’m not being totally clear, sometimes that person who is suffering from Writer’s Block while trying to write a blog post is me. So I thought I would take this time to discuss my writing process in a most likely futile attempt to become inspired to write something less meta. If you are reading this with your eyes, I have failed. So without further ado, here is what I lovingly and hatefully refer to as The Process (note: This Process is applicable to both academic papers, blog posts, and anything in between):  

Step 1: Brainstorm an Idea

Sometimes you have ideas and sometimes you write them on a Post-it note at 4 AM after shaking yourself out of the dream that had given you this glorious idea. In a tired haze of regret over having gone to sleep at 3 AM and with enough frantic energy to get you out of bed, you search for a Post-it note in the post-apocalyptic wasteland you dare to call a “desk” and you jot down whatever brilliant idea the dream goblins had given you. And sometimes you wake up at 10 AM and read that Post-it note and that Post-it note says sometimes along of the lines of “EGGS AREN’T REAL” or “TIME IS FAKE!!!!!” or “If he could’ve he would’ve but he didn’t so he can’t,” the last of which actually being a succinct analysis of Satan’s rationale against the idea of an omniscient, omnipotent God in Book 6 of Paradise Lost so sometimes things work out in the end.

Step 2: Do Literally Anything But the Thing You are Supposed to Be Doing

There is this thing that I do that I like to call Productive Procrastination (another thing I like to do, apparently, is to arbitrarily capitalize Certain words When i want to assign Them Significance). Productive Procrastination is defined as “the act of doing literally anything but the thing you are supposed to be doing.” I got an entire semester’s worth of homework done while I was trying to avoid writing an 8-page paper. Some examples of Productive Procrastination include:

  • Cleaning your room
  • Doing your dishes
  • Taking out the trash
  • Taking a shower
  • Redecorating
  • Deep cleaning your entire house
  • Doing this week’s psych homework
  • Doing next week’s psych homework
  • Doing the entire semester’s psych homework
  • Making a Spotify playlist with the music that you will write this epic A+++++ paper to
  • Repainting your mother’s bathroom
  • Taking a nap

And so it goes.

Step 3: Stare at Your Empty Document for Five Ten Fifteen Twenty Minutes

Feel the deadline come closer and closer until your anxiety compels you to write something, anything, before it’s too late.

Perfect.

Step 4: Write. Just write. Just get it over with. You know you’re going to write another draft anyway.

Step 5: Think “Hey, this actually isn’t so bad! Why did I wait so long to start this? Why did I go all the way back home to repaint the bathroom???”

Step 6: Realize that it is just as bad as you think. Oh god, why is this happening to me? Dear God, why?

somewhere along the way, this became a Buzzfeed article

Step 7: Scream.

you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain

Step 8: Finish your draft!

It’s terrible. It’s a garbage paper and you are a garbage person. This paper is a sin against both Nature and the English Language, but it exists and, frankly, that’s all it needs to do.

Your thoughts just need to exist somewhere on paper. They could be good thoughts or bad thoughts or right thoughts or wrong thoughts, but you can’t really tell what kind of thoughts they are until you see them.

Step 9: Write It Again

And then when you see them, you can decide what to do from there. No piece of writing exists perfectly the first time. Or the second. Maybe the third. Maybe.

What I’m trying to say is that if you’ve got a paper to write or a blog post or a story or something, honestly the hardest part is just starting.

So just write and write and write and write and somewhere along the way, you’re going to find something you like buried in the mess of your ideas.

So, yeah, anyway this is how I write papers. It’s a miracle I can get anything done. If anything I hope that this shows you that there’s actually no wrong way to write a paper as long as you actually write the paper.

Noreen’s Top 10 List of Books I Wanted to Read Over Break but Didn’t

In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first.

I always have such ambitious plans going into breaks and honestly they’re not even really that ambitious.

As an English major, I read a lot of stuff and while I went into break wanting to read more stuff, I quickly realized that my brain wanted a break, rejecting any attempt to open a book that was written pre-1950 or had received some kind of literary award. Instead, my soul desired mindless entertainment and to consume internet garbage. It was spring break. I deserved this.

“But, Noreen” cry the people who know me in real life, “All you do is consume internet garbage.”

Fools! Never underestimate the amount of internet garbage I can welcome into my life, especially when I had one week of unlimited free time (which, now that I say it, isn’t really unlimited at all).

I spent the majority of my break sitting around my house watching TV shows on my laptop, having brief, yet intense moments of panic as I searched for a summer job, and being a general useless blob. I regret nothing.

So anyway, here is, in no particular order, my top ten list of books I wanted to read over break but didn’t:

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.”

I like Greek mythology. I like LGBT themes. I find the ongoing debate over whether or not Achilles and Patroclus were lovers both fascinating and kind of hilarious.

2. The Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany or Any book from the Harry Potter Series

“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”

You’ll have to pry my at-times-illogical-desire to hold on to the Harry Potter series out of my cold dead hands.

3. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.”

I’ve heard good things about this book and got it for free like a year ago and by God do I love things that are free.

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by  Douglas Adams

“The story so far:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

I read this quote somewhere I can’t remember and it hit every single one of my sense of humor bones and I decided I needed to read this series. This was five years ago.

5. Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children–two boys and two girls–succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete.”

In my last blog post I talked about how I started to actually feel like I was growing older because I no longer like stuff I used to like when I was a kid. Well The Mysterious Benedict Society is a thing I used to like when I was a kid and I read a few pages of it and it looks like it holds up. I sure hope it holds up.

6. His Dark Materials series  by Philip Pullman

“In an epic trilogy, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Demons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first. “

So apparently the movie adaptation of this was terrible, an insult to the original series, and a blight upon this world as all book-to-movie adaptations tend to be, but I watched it and I enjoyed it. To be fair it came out when I was nine and nine year old me had terrible taste in everything. I’ve heard good things about the series though from Actual AdultsTM so I’m hoping this holds up too.

7. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore.” 

I’ve read this before, but I wanted to read it again.If you like not knowing whether or not the narrator is time traveling or has PTSD, then this is the book for you. I love Kurt Vonnegut.

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A storm is coming…

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.”

I read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett so I know I like this guy’s style, I like the premise, and there’s a TV adaptation of it coming out at some point so I thought that I’d finally read it. Nope.

9. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

“Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. ” – Goodreads 

I got this as a Christmas present and at the moment it has been sitting on my desk in my dorm room as decoration since then. Oops.

10. Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?” – Melissa de la Cruz 

Okay so I actually did go outside a couple times during break, you know, once the streets were no longer covered in snow and I ended up at the library, which I would say is typical me if I hadn’t just written 500+ words about how I didn’t read anything over break. I saw this, thought it was cool, realized I’d never actually seen a book with a Filipino protagonist, then put it on this list.

 

Anyway, I hope you take a page out of my book (hehehehe, I’m so funny) and add some of these books to your to-read list but, unlike me, actually read them.

 

 

i grow old i grow old

It has recently come to my attention that I am aging.

Tragic, I know.

And, cognitively, you know, I’m aware that I’m not old and depending on who you ask you can’t even say that I’m not young. College students all seem in that hazy in between state of “I probably should have my life together more than I do,” not necessarily young, far removed from old, but definitely older than the Good ‘Ol Days when snack time was government mandated, you could nap pretty much any time you wanted with no repercussions, and bills were something you didn’t have to worry about.

Good times, good times.  

And obviously I know I’ve gotten older, chronologically, but maturity is something that’s hard to pin down and quantify. Everyone knows that feeling you get on your birthday. The clock ticks forward, you’re another year older, but nothing feels different, nothing ever feels different, but you always expect it to. So it’s a little harder to figure out when you “grew up.”

This whole “Oh no, I’ve gotten older, everything’s changed” thing hit me over the summer, actually, so not really all that recent depending on how you look at it.

Now, I really wasn’t doing anything over the summer, which did make me feel kind of useless, but that’s a whole other issue entirely, so I spent the most of my time going to the library and playing Pokemon Go when that was still a thing.

please describe Summer 2016 in one image

Very early on in the summer I had determined that I was getting tired of reading “smart people books” which, as an English major, I felt obligated to do. So after a week of reading said smart people books,  I said a quick apology in my head to my English professors and went downstairs to my library’s Young Adult section.

I’m a young adult, I said in my head, it’s totally socially acceptable for me to be here. Besides, I could totally pass as a high schooler and no one will judge me and okay the person checking out my books went to my high school, just don’t make eye contact. Why are you making small talk?? We barely ever talked to each other! When did you get engaged???

I spent a shameful amount of time reading cheesy teen romance books and, I’ll admit, I loved every second of it and have no regrets.

this was really good

And then, maybe a month into summer break, it happened.

I used to be in love with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I loved Greek mythology, I loved the characters, I loved the story, and most of all I loved the writing. It was so clever and hilarious to me and I thought If I ever become a writer, I want to write like that.

we don’t talk about the movie

So anyway, as I was walking through the YA section, I spotted a new book written by Rick Riordan, set in the same Percy Jackson universe, and I decided Well, I’ve got nothing better to do and I borrowed it along with Wink, Poppy, Midnight (which was meh) and The Raven Boys (10/10 would recommend).

also pretty good

When I got back home, I made myself cozy in my bed and cracked open The Hidden Oracle, excited to read another adventure from a series that I had loved so much.

I couldn’t make it through two pages and dropped it to my bedroom floor, where it stayed until its due date.

It’s not that the author had lost the ability to write, if anything he’s gotten better since the first book. I know for a fact that if I had read this five years ago I would have finished all 400 pages in 4 hours and loved every hour, every minute, every second of it. The fact that I couldn’t read this book kind of felt like a betrayal to my younger self. I wanted to like this book, for nostalgia’s sake if anything, but I just had no interest in it.

It was just kind of meh.

I’m not torn up about it. I didn’t cry over the fact that I don’t like books written for middle schoolers, but I was…I don’t know. The closest word I can think of is “disappointed” and even that’s not quite right.

It’s like finishing a book or TV show or movie. The story’s ended, you’ve got your closure, you’ve got another book or TV show or movie waiting for you, but you’re still kind of sad that the last one is over. That adventure’s done, it’s time to move on.  

And I guess that’s where we all are in our lives right now, that old adventure’s over. It’s time to move on to the next one. But it’s okay to miss the old adventure from time to time.

How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule When You Make Terrible Decisions

Listen, I love sleep more than most things in this world and I’m not ashamed to admit that. And ever since coming to college, I feel like all of us have acquired a deeper appreciation for sleep.

First of all, being asleep means that you’re not awake. Which means you don’t have to deal with things like classes or homework or actual work. Second of all, sleep is a socially acceptable reason to lie in bed and do nothing, which is honestly what I want to do all the time except that I have things like classes and work that need my attention. Third of all, sleeping is just amazing. I know it, you know it, we all know it. I really don’t need words to explain something everyone already knows.

So yeah, I love sleeping. But I also love, apparently, making poor choices regarding my health and sleeping habits.

I won’t tell you guys what time I went to sleep every night during winter break because I want you to still respect me in some capacity, but just to give you a general idea of how bad of a decision maker I am, let’s just say that the answer rhymes with shmive o’clock in the shmorning.

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’ll say it anway – coming back to Rutgers was…difficult. And exhausting. I’m pretty much tired all the time and I hate coffee (I know, I know, unpopular opinion) so I don’t even have caffeine to help me.

So obviously, as I am wont to do when I am confronted with something that a normal human adult would probably able to fix, I turned to Google for guidance (I can’t ask my mom, she thinks I go to bed at 9 PM every night).  

So gather around children, I’m sure I’m not the only one who messed up their sleep schedule this break, and here are some tips to get your life back together (according to Google):

  • The first article I clicked on was from WebMD, which seemed more legitimate than WikiHow. The first item on the list was to  avoid blue light which means that turn off and look away from anything with a screen, so I was already sceptical of my ability to follow this list and then I read item two, which was “Skip Naps,” at which point I x-ed out of WebMD, never to return.

  • The second article from Her Campus had the more reasonable goal of only taking 20-30 minutes naps (which is also backed up by another WebMD article, in case you didn’t trust Her Campus for some reason. Alright, okay, so I did return.)
  • And all of the articles I read had this point in common: STICK TO A ROUTINE. Meaning go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Don’t fall into the trap of staying up later on the nights before days where you don’t have to be anywhere until 5. Because I have fallen into that trap. Multiple times. I’m pretty sure it shaved off maybe five years of my lifespan.
  • And of course, there’s the obvious avoid caffeine, try to stick to regular hours, and exercise.

So welcome back to Rutgers after a tragically short break. We’ll get through this somehow.  

How Not To Do a Secret Santa

“My life is a money garbage disposal,” is quite possibly the greatest and most relatable quote to ever come out of Buzzfeed’s “Ladylike” series and I quote it at least once every day.

With it being the holiday season, in the past few weeks I have seen a drastic change in the amount of money in my bank account. Unfortunately, this drastic change is more negative than positive.

Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), a good portion of the people I would want to buy gifts for is made up of broke college students so we’re all more or less in the same boat.  

The solution to the lots-of-love-and-little-funds problem is the good ol’ Secret Santa, which is code for “You guys are great, but last week we fought over a quarter we found in a puddle, so here’s a fun excuse to only buy one person a gift this year. Yay!”

I really love Secret Santas, you guys. I like the feeling of not knowing and I love the feeling of surprise you feel when you discover who was your Santa and I love the look on the face of the person who discovers their Santa was me. They’re nice feelings. Good and pure and feels like the magic of the holidays has entered the dorm that hasn’t been clean since August.

Last week, my roommates, our honorary roommate, and I exchanged our Secret Santa gifts and while everyone was super excited about the gifts, everything about the exchange was an insult to the very name the Secret Santa. I was morally offended.

So here’s how not to do a Secret Santa.

Learn from our mistakes, children.

First, make sure no one (NO ONE) finds out who you have. Because it’s a secret.

I mean, making sure the person you’re getting a gift for doesn’t know who you are just makes sense. It’s called a Secret Santa for a reason. Just like curiosity killed the cat, curiosity also kills the core principles of the Secret Santa. Because once one person finds out who you have, you find out who they have, and then you learn who everyone has, including who has you, and, well, there goes the surprise.

Second, make sure the person you have DOES NOT find out what you got them. Because it’s a secret.

When your roommate, whom you lovingly bought a gift for, goes into your room, rifles through your drawers, picks up the present which you wrapped in Monday’s newspaper, and then shakes it, we have failed, morally, as a society. Is nothing sacred?

Must curiosity destroy everything? I swear to God the last words that will ever be said by a human being will be “What’s this button do?”

We were not made to last as a species.  

Obviously I was a bit upset that everyone in my Secret Santa group knew who had them and more or less what they were getting. Perhaps irrationally so. Some would say there was yelling and an impassioned and incoherent speech about the “magic of Christmas” and the “sanctity of privacy” involved, but if those certain people want to tell their skewed and biased version of the events that transpired last week, then they can go ahead and write a blog post about it.

But, you know, at the end of the day, even though there were no secrets involved in any aspect of this Secret Santa, there was still surprise and fun and holiday magic. I mean, I’ll devote a disturbing amount of energy into making sure that the next Secret Santa will actually be a secret, but whatever happens will happen. Secret Santa not being a secret doesn’t destroy the sentiment.

“You’re a person I enjoy being around and I spent two weeks thinking about who you are and what you like so I could make you happy.”