my favorite things about summer 2k17 are

  • this sun that lasts till 9:30
  • podcast hosts and hot white gloves
  • cabana bay resorts
  • this one boy.
  • quitting jobs that weren’t good for me
  • multiplying my freckles by 1000
  • bouncing around new cities like a playground
  • watching video game streams with other people that like video game streams
  • no syllabi or lesson planning
  • irl cuddles
  • this one boy.
  • paying off credit cards in full
  • drinking in new cities
  • penthouse life
  • hazy nights at guesthouse
  • all the arcade bars
  • still pretty good at beer pong
  • all the Skype talks
  • W1 SMB3 runner, only
  • table for 15 for my 31st
  • less stress.
  • this one boy.
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summer sweetness.

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My friend told me the other day: you think about your own thinking too much. I couldn’t agree with her more. As a writer, primarily nonfiction writer the last few years, I constantly assess and evaluate my thoughts, what’s happening around me, my current happiness level in a given day. I have gotten better in the last year, since turning 30, at turning that constant critic off and embracing the wonder of a moment, but it’s still a struggle. Thankfully, there’s no better time to practice embracing the possibility of a moment than the slow ones that summer brings.

There is almost nothing sweeter than the transition from school semester to summertime. The final grade deadline looms and blocks out all rational thought, until finally, anti-climatically, it’s over. And just like that, I’m on my slow 3 month schedule.  Sometimes the mental adjustment to summer is instantaneous (last year was wondrous), but the switch this year has taken its time. Most of my April was a whirlwind (thanks to podcast hosts, Skype dates, and juggling endless projects from four different jobs), that when I suddenly dropped teaching from the mix, I barely had time to celebrate that freedom before my days felt just as busy as before.

Today, now 3 weeks into my summer schedule, I finally feel it. The evening jogs and trips to the store without feeling exhausted, the time I now have to pick up new books, catch up on TV, go to the gym, get a manicure. It’s here: It’s Summer. And though the monotony of routine makes me panicky ( I need to express more gratitude for the freedom of freelance), the steadiness of a primary summer job at the tutoring center allows me to indulge in other freedoms I so desperately need for my peace of mind. I need to let summer do what it does best: let me slow down, breathe, enjoy the adventure, develop meaningful relationships, and grow in ways I would’ve never expected.

So, here’s to those glorious 3 months that I cherish every year. Do your best.

 

some specific resolutions for 2017

Instead of making, general, vague goals for this year (lose weight! Get money! Make my dreams come true!) I keep thinking of all these random things I’d like to accomplish this year that would 1) bring me happiness and pride 2) seem more tangible and realistic 3) personally seem interesting. The list:

writing: Last year I had 3 major bylines. I coasted on that for a lot of the year, but really, 3 isn’t a lot. Let’s double that. This year, I want 6 major headlines. That’s one every other month. Also, I started a novel in November and got 30k words in. That’s great, but it’s only halfway done. By years end: book is finished, edited, and ready to send off to YA agents.

professional: Last year was the year of 15+ interviews, and I can’t do that again. My goal is to slowly make the transition to being more freelance/remote. Right now I’m 70% remote; maybe by the year’s end; if I’m still getting up at 9am and being OK working alone, I’d like to be completely remote. I also want to go do something this summer that benefits my career – whether it be a teaching volunteer trip, a conference, an internship, anything. I want to spend more of the summer out of Orlando than in it.

health: I’ve been doing a lot more yoga lately, and I think it’d be awesome by the end of the year if I could do a headstand. It would be such an achievement of strength, flexibility, and patience.

personal: I’m going to say no more this year. If I can’t do something, if something’s not working for me, I want to be able to say, “no, I’m sorry, but I can’t” and feel good about that. Too often I people please and compromise myself in the process. Boundaries. Oh also: I need to lower my credit card debt by 30%, too, so I can consolidate my debt and get in a place where I don’t give half my paycheck to cc bills. I feel so constricted by the amount of debt that I have; if I really want to be somewhere new and take chances, I can’t worry about my credit score so much.

funsies: one random goal I have is to get a good run time on SMB3. I love playing through that game and I’d like to beat it in oh, say under 3 hours. I wanna say the goal is: get on the world leaderboard of run times (last place is 2hr 55 mins), and, maybe I can. I think last time I played the whole thing through, it took about 5 hours. So I think getting it to leaderboard status is achievable. And that’d be just a cool thing I’d say I can do.

How to Publish Embarrassing Essays

A new blog post of mine written for the UCF MFA blog, covering how to write embarrassing personal essays on the internet and still (try) to remain some professionalism

The Creative Writing MFA and Beyond

This summer, I received an email in my inbox from an MTV casting director. She was casting the docu-series True Life and wanted to interview me to potentially be on a future episode. The director said she’d found me through an article I wrote for Cosmopolitan last year. An article exploring the female orgasm.

While I was flattered that the director read my article and reached out to me, and after considering it for several days, I ultimately declined her offer. It came down to this: I would have to talk on camera, to a national audience, about my experiences – nay, troubles – with orgasms. My mom could see this, not to mention my students. I imagined telling my Dean: “I’ll be on a national television show, but it’s going to be super personal and embarrassing for everyone!”

I wrote the article for Cosmopolitan back in December, after…

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a busy summer equals a sleepy fall.

The transition into fall always seems more jarring than the other seasons; spring naturally slips into summer, and cold fronts give us a mild, brief winter, but the start of school, return of PSLs, and the sudden shifts in decor make the fall transition feel monumental. I’m not complaining – I adore summer and all of its long, warm days, but I love me some fall season, too. Even though the year is three quarters over, fall feels like rebirth, especially this year – a new apartment, a new semester of freshmen faces, a modest promotion at work, an excuse to dye my hair cinnamon red.

This transition also happens after a whirlwind of a summer, a summer that I’m still  reminiscing over, so it’s another reason the switch to fall feels particularly abrupt. June was all job interviews, running a summer camp, and 30th birthday celebrations. July was family vacations, boys visiting, drunken nights, harry potter parties, and packing for the pending move.

Now the move is over, classes have started, jobs have not been offered, it’s back into normalcy and routine. Instead of indulging in my usual anxieties, I’m trying this new thing where I don’t feel guilty over a slow (read:boring) day. Where perhaps I let myself enjoy a lazy night reading, or a long sunset walk, or whatever. I need a fall that is stress-free, slow, and self-indulgent. Still, it’s hard to ignore the mental nagging that comes with slowing down my mind and activity. I should be doing more, always! Feeling productive is an addictive high.

But productive days don’t mean I’m successful or even achieving anything important, and I need to remind myself of that more.  I don’t want a year to slip by and I’m still just crossing off a daily to-do list, doing the same work without any real achievement, the same portfolio, the same number on the scale. Perhaps the deliberate choice to have a more playful, wandering fall will let the important work, the work I want and need to do, come surging forward. After all, as the queen Shonda Rhimes says:

“Work doesn’t work without play. The more I play, the freer my mind becomes. The more I play, the better I work. The more I play, the more I feel the hum, the nation I’m building, the marathon I’m running, the troops, the canvas, the high note, the hum, the hum, the other hum, the real hum, life’s hum.”

a decade at a glance.

  • returning from london so much braver.
  • all the fall out boy. all the time.
  • first boyfriends. and other firsts.
  • driving for hours just to see the boys live. giving them friendship bracelets.
  • reading all of harry potter the summer after I graduated college.
  • initiation into club subway.
  • pour one out for every time I’ve thrown up from drinking (it’s a lot)
  • moving to orlando, full of energy and potential.
  • finding likeminded friends.
  • working my ass off.
  • crushes on everyone.
  • apt 1090.
  • writing, a lot.
  • drinking, a lot.
  • seeing boys, a lot.
  • promotions & drama.
  • getting my masters & getting my own store in the same week
  • taking driving lessons and deciding to not be a scared little shit
  • having friends with benefits for way too long.
  • coffee life for me.
  • nah, teaching life for me.
  • game nights forever
  • finally feeling like a professional.
  • curious to where a new decade will take me.

 

 

Why Fear Shouldn’t Hold Our Lives

I’ve been a nervous, anxious person for most of this year. I’ve been on six interviews in the last four months, and no job has (yet) come of it. It’s been a constant mix of interview prep, dread for interview day, and more dread waiting for the phone call. And, when the position isn’t offered, it’s all anxiety and nerves about my future. Will anyone hire me? What am I doing wrong? How can I stop being so nervous during these interviews and show my potential? Can’t I just curl up into a ball on the couch and waste away there?

In the middle of a weekend of stress (I have a very large interview on Wednesday and an office visit next week for a job I feel unsure about), I’m woken up this morning by my mom calling me in tears about the mass shooting in Orlando. Then, messages galore from my friends and loved ones. Everyone checking safe on Facebook, everyone sharing blood centers for donating. And it puts my dumb silly fears in perspective. My heart goes soft and starts thinking about what’s important: that we come together and help our community. That this just happened in our backyard and lives are now ended by extreme senseless violence. That this needs to be not just another shooting; this needs to be a catalyst for change.

How can all of this stress and anxiety and nerves for a one hour meeting on Wednesday matter when I have breath in my lungs and life in my body and the ability to even interview for my dream jobs? That I get to express my talents and skills and live a comfortable life. Who cares how well I can talk about course alignment when we’re all grieving?

I realized instead of giving in to the panicky thoughts, the best thing I can do going forward is to be human – to show my compassion, my faults, to live honestly and be the best version of myself. Fear doesn’t let you do that. Fear cripples you at the core of who you are. How selfish of me to choose to live in fear when today, many of my neighbors don’t have that choice at all.

Today, there are more important things to worry about than your job performance or career choices. Today, we need to be humans who have the ability to help other humans and be the most honest versions of ourselves – a version of ourselves that simply cannot exist when fear is around. My interview on Wednesday will come and go, and I should be lucky for the chance to be there. To show that I’m not some candidate on a resume, I’m a human. We all are. And we should rejoice in that, the sheer pleasure of the human experience.