7-Day Blog Challenge

made just for you.

Actually, I’m making it more for me, but I really hope you give it a shot as well.

While I did find many useful tips on blogging in general during my Google search, I was looking for an actual 30-day blog challenge like the one I did a couple years back on here. Apart from the helpful tips and tricks from more experienced bloggers (with much better HTML skills), I found a lot of blog “challenges” typed out in cheesy fonts that essentially all amounted to, “Spend 30 days being as vapid and as narcissistic as possible.” Now, that is a bit exaggerated on my part but my personal search had still come up empty. I don’t have the capability to stomach all the genuinely useful information for bloggers but I also am too old to merely post “OOTDs” on here. So, with all of my authority, creativity and knowledge I’ve acquired (thanks to that degree that only cost me a heaping pile of digital debt), I have created a week-long blog challenge for you to partake in, if you wish.

Challenge I — Discuss an unhealthy coping mechanism you used to practice, or still do practice. How did you break away from it, or how are you currently working on moving on to more positive methods of coping? When did you first really notice you were engaging in this unhealthy behavior? Did someone else have to alert you about it? Has it hindered you in your day to day life or is it something that can be more easily swept under the rug?

Challenge II — Share a time where, as an adult, you felt pure fun, joy and bliss. Maybe it wasn’t all three at once, but close enough to it. Where were you? Who were you with? Do you remember the feeling more or the actual event more? If you could go back in time and relive it, would you? Have you felt those emotions since then? If not, do you think you will again?

Challenge III — Write a haiku. This could be as simplistic as you want but I encourage you to actually take it as a serious writing assignment. One thing I’ve learned as a poet is that short poems are often the most difficult to construct, edit and complete, and anyone who produces a truly good short poem deserves a round of applause.

Challenge IV — If you could go back to/go to college or university (all expenses paid), would you? Why? Which university would you want to attend? What would you study? Do you think it would help you even more in the working world or would it more for your own pleasure?

Challenge V — Write about a personal relationship that has failed. Was there a singular cause or was it a multitude of things? Are you upset about it having failed? Why or why not? If you had the chance to go back and try to fix things, would you? What would you do?

Challenge VI — Share a song, or a couple songs, that you feel truly exemplify you and how. Maybe one of them is how other people perceive you or it’s a song that represents you at the surface level, and the other represents your more internal, deeper version of your own being.

Challenge VII — What made you want to create a blog? Were you a writer before you started one? Do you have more than one blog? What’s the overall message for your blog that you want to give to your readers?

This 7-day challenge is very clearly not meant to be super coherent in one theme. I composed these over a few days when I was able to gather some mental clarity–I do hope at least one person who stumbles across this decides to “tackle it.” I am now obligated to and I’d love some company in the journey.

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What I Want // What I Need.

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Over the past year, year and a half, I’ve become more acutely aware of consumerism and how my own consumer habits hinder me. I started watching videos by Kimberly Clark, a drag queen and self-proclaimed anti-consumerist, and I was immediately invested in what she was saying about the toxicity that consumerism and the consumerist culture we live in can have. I think people like her speaking out on platforms like the one she has are so important now, I mean, just look at the day and age we’re in–YouTube has become the new TV and YouTube “influencers” and “content creators” are the new Hollywood stars. Many of these “influencers” are part of the vast, ever-expanding Youtube “beauty community,” a group notorious for peddling over-consumption, greed, and ignorance.

Now, it’s not all bad. There are plenty of influencers in the beauty community that I personally enjoy and either find not really “problematic” at all, or, while still being “problematic” in a consumerist sense, they’re still not peddling their bullshit at their viewers in such an overt way. Still, overall YouTube is choked with glassy-eyed, ring-lit infulencers who are basically just telling you what “need.” But you don’t need it.

After watching Kimberly Clark’s videos over and over, watching short documentaries about consumerism, and also reading about it in its various forms, I have become so much more aware of my own buying habits and how I want them to change. For starters, I’ve never been one for mindless buying–well, that’s not totally true, and I doubt it’s totally true for anyone–but I’ve noticed that most of the time my more mindless buying stems from feeling a loss of control in my life, or feeling more depressed than usual. Also, the mindless buying doesn’t necessarily have to be material objects; sometimes it’s food that I don’t truly need or what’s not in my budget (most of the time I can’t afford a 10 dollar cheese, despite how much I’d like to buy it).

I’ve also come to find that buying one thing sort of triggers me into wanting to buy more and more, especially when I’m in a more “vulnerable” place emotionally. With it being the holiday season I’ve begun my Christmas shopping, but I also ended up buying things for myself when doing online shopping on Black Friday. It was just a few things and I only spent a total of about 15 dollars on myself, and I’ve already gotten immediate use out of the items, but that’s not really the point. The point is, I was shopping exclusively for other people but then decided to look for things for myself–and, while I’m using them, I didn’t need them, and I could have saved that small bit of money for more gifts, for my bills, or for groceries.

The high of buying things online for myself is also different than the high of buying things in-store, and anticipating a package in the mail is part of that high. It makes me want to keep shopping and, with all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that were happening, I actually had to stop myself from further browsing through products purely for myself. Because I don’t need anything.

The mentality of need versus want is something I’ve tried to further instill in my mind for a while now but in addition to maintaining that mentality, I also have to know what to avoid, particularly on YouTube. Watching beauty “hauls” will most likely lead to me craving to buy something I do not need.  Still, sometimes I can browse Amazon or Sephora and happily add things to a wishlist without truly wanting to buy it right then and there. I’ve noticed it’s the consistently less expensive brands, like the cosmetics brand Colourpop, or websites that are having really good and fast deals, like Hautelook, that entice me the most. What stops me most of the time, honestly, is having to pay for shipping, which I’m never willing to do.

Inspired by a lovely YouTuber named Hannah, I have decided to not buy myself anything for the entire month of December. The only exceptions would be food (while still being mindful about those purchases) or if I run out of something necessary and/or I truly need something (like tampons, for example, which I will need very soon). Yesterday was the first day and I already ended up being sort of tested–first, I went to Barnes & Noble, which is absolutely a weak spot for me. I instinctively went over to the used poetry books and then turned back around after I realized that, while it was still nice to browse, I wouldn’t be able to purchase a book and I knew I would want to. After that I went to TJ Maxx, purely for Christmas gift shopping. Lo and behold, I found a discounted, untouched high-end blush that I have actually been lusting after for about a year. But I didn’t need it.

And once I commit to something, I really commit. Hence quitting smoking and no longer eating fast food. So, no nonsensical or pure-pleasure consumption for a month. I think it will be harder than I’m anticipating–after all, it’s only the end of day two–but I think it will be successful and a learning experience for myself.

Have you ever done a “no-buy” before? What’s something that you really have a hard time resisting? I’ve love to hear about others’ thoughts.

Who’s ready for cabin fever?

Not me!

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Winter came early this year, even by upstate New York standards. We’ve had snow in November before, in fact it’s not all that uncommon–we almost hit a new record two years ago. Still, we got our first snowflakes in October and our first measurable snowfall the first week of November. Our Thanksgiving also did set a record for lowest temperature ever.

Our winters used to be long, of course, but when I was growing up, they were typically more concentrated–snow really didn’t start until early December, snowfall was heavy through the months, but we had a gradual introduction to spring come March. Over the past few years the winters have become longer and more severe. Snow starts earlier, our storms are more brutal, and winter lasts much longer. Our seasons have very little graduation into one another–winter becomes summer and summer becomes winter. This past fall it went back and forth between 80 degrees to 40 degrees for weeks before finally dropping down into the low 40s and 30s since. We have some of the worst snowstorms in February but also in March and spring doesn’t show up until April, however April is a month of nonstop rain and warmer temperatures–which would be welcome, if only we had more time to adjust.

My point here is not simply just to lament about the weather and throw out some articles proving how terrible it can be, even for the people who claim to “love” winter (are you sure you mean our winter?). Really, I think it’s important to note in terms of seasonal depression, in whatever way it personally affects individuals. Our winters are more severe and longer and our seasonal changes are minimal. It’s a rough climate that seems to just be getting arguably worse in all different ways (good thing our president believes in climate change…right??).

While I desperately want winter to be over already and I can’t believe how much of it we have left, I’m shocked at how much better I’m doing this year than I was any other year. Most of that comes down to reaching a level of mental stability last fall, but even last winter I struggled more. That probably comes down to no longer being in school (finally). I only have my job to focus on, and while financial struggles are actually more real than ever before, I don’t have to worry about how to pay for textbooks and tuition, nor do I have to tout myself to a campus 26 miles away to be miserable for 7 hours then drive back and go to work right after.

I’m also giving vitamin D lots of credit here. If my memory serves me right (although it often doesn’t), I’ve taken it regularly for a long time now. But I know I would also have lapses for short periods. Now I make a point to always, every morning, take vitamin D and have been for months now. I also refuse to let myself not take my medications at night. I’ve also reincorporated vitamin B12.

In addition, I’m back on a semi-regular exercise routine and I’ve spent a lot more time outdoors exercising over the summer and fall and with the early snow, I’ve even been on short hikes in the frigid white environment. I normally hate being in the snow but being in the woods makes it so much better and, quite frankly, being in the woods is sort of like meditation for me.

I’ve been pushing myself to do more cardio at the gym. My biggest motivation for that is constantly having so much pent up energy. I’ve been slacking with weightlifting and that makes me disappointed in myself. I used to live for it but now it seems daunting and tiring. I injured my right knee a while ago and haven’t been able to do as much as I used to, and after getting sick in June for a literal month and not being able to lift, I was totally thrown out of my routine. I also lost muscle mass.

I could be jinxing myself here with going on about this so early on in the game. But I hope my efforts prove me right and this winter won’t be as bad as some others–even with all the changes that are taking place. What are winters like where you live and what do you do to keep yourself sane, if you even need to? If I could give advice to the people who decide to move to upstate New York, and there are quite a few of them from all over, it would be to invest in great tires, get a bottle of vitamin D, and prepare for the worst.

Holiday cheer does very little for me, clearly.

Current Jams XVI

Ah, yes! The long-awaited return of my Current Jams posts…because I know all of you have missed them so dearly. Regardless, I have missed them and I’m ashamed that I haven’t done one of these in two years. I’ve listened to a lot of music in those two years  but I guess a concise list of some truly current bops will have to do.

  1. Hearing Damage” – Thom Yorke. First of all, shout out to the Twilight movies for having such killer soundtracks. I feel like I’ve gone way too long neglecting Thom Yorke’s solo projects despite being such a die hard Radiohead fan. “Hearing Damage” actually reminds me a bit of Radiohead itself, especially something that I might hear off Kid A or even King of Limbs. With that being said, it still sounds like a song which Thom did indeed have total control over. The repetition of “you can do no wrong in my eyes” lingers long after the song is over. oGk3Sfs
  2. Country Figs” – Alex Cameron. I spent nearly an entire week just listening to Alex Cameron, which is actually a feat considering he only has two albums out (please, please make new music, Alex). “Country Figs” has this quick, bouncy beat laced with optimistic, gung-ho keys. The lyrics are just really clever: “I hear drunk drivers singing as they speed to a red light / no brake marks means suicide.” The song has this slightly manic but still lighthearted energy that I just can’t stop wanting to listen to. 79d7133375e7c47a9c086030bfbb1185.1000x1000x1
  3. Rays on Pinion” – Baroness. Choosing one Baroness song for this was difficult; I recently delved into their music and listened to the Red album, the Blue album, and the Yellow and Green album in a row, and then again. And then again. However, the Red album was the first one I listened to and it might just be my favorite. It’s much more instrumental and less vocal than the others and something about the nearly 8 minutes of “Rays on Pinion” tugs at my heart. The steady drumbeat with the slightly soft guitar explodes halfway through into strong, commanding vocals: “we’ve resigned ourselves to soar home / despite these wayward ways.” a4273863148_5
  4. Nobody” – Mitski. Ah, yes, finally a song that encapsulates my loneliness and sadness without actually sounding downright depressing. “Nobody” is one of the most true-pop-sounding Mitski songs I’ve heard so far and it’s been playing over and over in my head for weeks. It’s a lament but it’s done in such a saccharine-sweet way–until there’s just an eruption of “nobody” over and over until the song finally ends–that’s where the sad, empty longing is. a2337835939_10
  5. Suspiria (2018 Soundtrack)Thom Yorke. The original Suspiria film is one of my all-time favorite movies but considering how much you’ve probably already heard about why it’s fantastic, I’ll save you from that. I haven’t even seen the new film yet (it screened at an art-house theater downtown briefly and then it was gone) but I finally picked up the soundtrack, not really sure what to expect, as I hadn’t heard any of it. I drove around aimlessly just listening to this–it mesmerized me. I don’t even have the musical knowledge to describe why I find this so amazing. But I will say that it would work in so many ways with the original film, yet it is its own unique creation. The track “Volk” is one of my favorites. As a fan, I am just so proud of Thom Yorke for creating and producing this gorgeous piece of art entirely on his own. One word: haunting. xl-recordings-thom-yorke-suspiria-music-for-the-lu

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Sicko Mode” – Travis Scott
  • “Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow
  • “My My My” – Troye Sivan
  • “Nina Cried Power” – Hozier
  • “Yikes” – Kanye West
  • “Sixteen Saltines” – Jack White
  • “Mr. Tillman” – Father John Misty
  • “High Hopes” – Panic at the Disco

 

You Know It’s Bad.

 

You know it’s bad when you start fantasizing about the lanky dishwasher from across the parking lot. The one who never wears a jacket, even when it’s below freezing and blustering sleet. The one with the perpetually bruised under eyes and the deep stare that you can’t decipher because he always looks like frightening, like you’re not sure if that stare means he wants to kill you, eat you, fuck you, or all three. And boy, does he stare. He stares across the way and through the glass and you don’t even have to look anymore than your peripheral will allow to see that stare and his hand at his mouth, smoke pluming from his lips.

It’s bad when you start to realize maybe you want to fuck him. You’ve seen him out there every day for nearly three years. You wait for him to emerge from that back door. You wait for him to turn to the side to light his cigarette and you wait for him to put his lighter away and then stare at you. You wait for it to be over but you also wait for him to stub the cigarette on the bricks and you feel disappointed. You wonder if he saw you toss your hair over your shoulder. When he stares, you become a performance.

You think about running into him somewhere, somewhere at night and in the dark. You ran into him once at the grocery store–that doesn’t count. You think about him shoving your back up against a wall; his hand running through your hair only to grab it by the roots; the tip of his nose grazing your throat; his free hand on your hip. Does he reek of cigarettes and cheap dish soap? Does he look better or worse up close? You don’t know and what bothers you the most is that you’ll never know.

You wait for the day you never see him again and you’re disappointed.

it’s 5pm & I’m dying (a writing exercise)

So you’re gonna start writing, I say and you’re not gonna take your fingers off the keys I say and Suspiria is playing and my mind is still going a mile a minute, well probably more and you’re gonna keep typing until the clock says 5:08pm because that’s 4 minutes of typing and you can do that you did it before you’re a writer you’re supposed to be a writer and sometimes you feel like you have nothing to say and oh my god stop only using a third person pronoun please just say I because I have nothing to say and yet everything to say and I need to stop separating my self from my other self, I am one whole self and my neuroses are going to kill me one day my neuroses are going to send me straight to the fucking grave I just wish I wasn’t like this sometimes, all the time I wish I wasn’t like this. I wish I could be like everyone else downstairs in their coats with their bare faces and not give a fuck. I wonder what she’s REALLY thinking when she’s staring at the prepackaged Chinese food? Nothing important, no need to worry. No need to worry no need to worry every reason every need to worry ugh I just wish this coffee was better and I wish it actually made me awake but god forbid my brain have any MORE stimulation like fuck fuck fuck I can’t even wake up, snap out of dreamland because my brain is filled with so much panic and anxiety and my body just needs to keep moving. I’m going to pick all my skin off my hands someday and just see bone. It’ll just be blood and bone and I feel like I’m going to vomit I want to see Eddy just don’t vomit don’t panic don’t panic don’t panic don’t panic and don’t panic and this is how I feel all the time this how I feel all the time this is how I feel all the time.

Red.

Everything since May has blended together in one mass

of vague memories and what feels like a fuck ton of driving.

I looked at the trees yesterday and saw how drastically the leaves had changed from lush green

to the revered colors of autumn everyone adores so much. When did that happen?

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that it was 90 degrees and raining, droplets gliding

off the spines of those green leaves? Jesus, I was in Detroit

two and a half months ago–it feels like I’m still there, in a way. I also sort of wish I still was; still wish

I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor in my cousin’s house, my grandfather’s leather chair

seated in the meticulously decorated living room. I sort of wish I could kick back at Sneaker’s Pub

again and sit on the edge of the strip of what is truly gentrification.

Burning rage has been bubbling up inside me for months on end now.

Maybe it was finally graduating–you know, finally achieving that thing that was supposed to fix everything.

But it’s only caused more stress, really. Maybe it’s my resume,

or what’s on my resume, or maybe the degrees I have really are “useless.” But I can’t handle sitting, festering,
in my box of a bedroom anymore. I can’t handle the noises from beyond the paper thin walls.

I can’t handle the noises from anyone. I feel like I need blinders. Why does that girl have to

go on the treadmill right next to me?

If I keep my body moving, the anxiety, anger, stress–they can’t get to me. But as soon as I stop,

they attack again. I already feel the tingle in my scalp. My leg is already bouncing rapidly.

Yet I’m really trying. The exercise.

Completely changing my diet. Fuck Greek yogurt.

Fuck Perdue chicken.

I take my vitamins every day. I take my medication. I try to be productive. But I still feel

like a caged and frenzied animal–either a massive breakdown is coming

or an assault charge, although I guess they’re one and the same.