Dear the people who’ve passed in and out of my life,

I’d be lying if I said I knew that, one day, we’d grow apart. I didn’t know, but really, I never thought about it. I think I’m more aware of your existence now than I was when you were in my life. The empty space you’ve left behind doesn’t like to be ignored.

There are times I allow myself to think back on our moments together, while simultaneously reflecting on what could have been. I have mixed emotions, but the greatest is disappointment. I have to wonder if how quickly people have come in and out of my life is normal. Is it me? Is my personality incompatible with the majority of people?

At this point in my life, I have a few good friends–each of which I’ve known no more than a few years. I guess, growing up, I never realized maintaining lifelong friendships would be so hard. Except “hard” isn’t the right word. I didn’t lose any friends because I didn’t work hard enough. I lost friends thanks to time and distance. It just makes you wonder how important you actually are to people. It makes you wonder if friendship is more of a pipedream than the movies make it out to be. It also makes you wonder if it’s not a pipedream at all, but instead, maybe something’s wrong with YOU.

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I realize the path I’m taking with this topic is somewhat depressing… I suppose I’m not objectively observing. I can’t muse about lost friendships without eliciting an element of disheartening nostalgia.

In the end, I just miss you, and I blame myself. Whether or not that’s normal, I don’t want to anymore.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

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Dear the local Chipotle,

I’m going to try to temper my temper here, when I ask: Where the EFF is your drive-thru?

Listen, I only have so much time for lunch before I have to go back to work… I only have so much energy to even attempt to get out of my car once I get into it.

I work eight hours a day, most of which are spent sitting—and I’m keeping it that way. Where do you get off that you want to pit my hunger against 1) my determination and 2) perhaps more importantly, my sloth? Sloth as in the deadly sin, not this.

Yes, my hunger won out yesterday when I parked my car—reluctantly—outside your four walls (your drive-thru-less four walls) and dragged myself inside. It was cold, and people were, like, looking at me as I made my way to the line, where I was forced to stand. Ugh, standing… one of the most overrated pastimes.

Fortunately, the line was short, but that’s your only saving grace. As for redeeming qualities, supply and demand are miles apart on that y-axis.

One would think having a drive-thru would be fiscally lucrative… I can tell you I would visit WAY more often than I already do if I didn’t have to get out of my car or talk to people for my side of guac and chips. In fact, I think my visit yesterday was after a few month’s hiatus—a hiatus that would not have existed had you thought ahead. This is on you, Chipotle.

Look, you don’t even need a drive-thru. It’s easy—set up a service on your app where I can order from my car and you bring me my food. Think of the tips! Yeah, it’s like curbside service. All the cool restaurants are doing it. Outback. Ruby Tuesday’s. Sonic. My mom.

Alright, if you want to brainstorm some of my ideas, leave a comment below and I’d be happy to oblige, especially where guac and chips are involved. That’s really all I need in payment. I’m flexible.

Sincerely,

Stephanie

Lesson #16: Blogs are hard work to maintain

Let’s be real… they are.

I’ve done surprisingly well with this one, but in the last month, my motivation has dwindled. Site traffic hasn’t been bad, but where’s the participation, people? Hey, it’s okay. Don’t put yourself out there if you don’t have to, am I right?

Still, I’d LOVE to hear from the people who actually take even just a small amount of time to read my blog. Honestly, I need that validation to keep my stamina up. Positive reinforcement. I run on that shit. Otherwise, I can get pretty burnt out, and I feel that lately. Life, though… Life is hard, especially when you’re an adult. My parents were right. You don’t actually start living until your pockets are empty and survival is a daily goal.

I committed to blogging once a week, and then, I thought I’d play around with trying twice a week. But alas… I think it’s been a week and a half since I’ve blogged. Let me tell you, though, those depersonalization posts were LONG and hard to get through. I’m glad I have it out in words, ’cause I’m hoping they can help some people. Still, PHEW. I could have said so much more, but that would require more work than I’m willing to put in.

Bear with me as I try to get back into my blogging groove. But remember… every “like” and comment helps. I’m not begging. I’m just SAYING, it endorses my purpose for blogging.

Lesson #10: Adult coloring is NOT interactive porn

Adult coloring is not interactive porn.

Christmas morning, I received my first pair of adult coloring books. I had heard of this new phenomenon before–apparently, adult coloring is all the rage right now. To be honest, when I first heard the term “adult coloring,” I pictured books full of pale outlines of sex positions, naked women, and rock-hard penises (penii?) that I could bring to life with whatever colors I desired. That’s sick, I thought.  I soon would admit to myself that idea was preposterous. Of course that isn’t what “adult coloring” is… Although, in an age where books like Fifty Shades of Grey makes it onto the New York Times Bestseller list, my original assumption wasn’t that far-fetched.

Thank you Goodreads...
Thank you Goodreads…

But I digress…

Still, until Christmas morning, I had hardly an inkling as to what this adult coloring craze might be all about…

And then this happened...
And then this happened…

Oh, neat! I thought. If you look closely, the books claim to be great for stress-relief! Just what I need! I have stress. A lot of it. My stress is quite versatile, as it doubles as severe anxiety. *thumbs up*

So I took to coloring, and man oh man, let me tell you, adult coloring is the shit. And I don’t mean the kind that humans excrete and smells bad. I say “adult coloring is the shit” idiomatically (word?).

In the beginning, Stephanie created this...
In the beginning, Stephanie created this…

Adult coloring is rather addicting, and I say that proudly, because it can’t be the worst habit to form, right?  It’s already worked to take my mind off of all my anxious thoughts, like growing up, becoming (being) an adult, the future. Not to mention… it’s something to be proud of. As I colored, my intermittent “hand-breaks” became longer and longer so I could marvel at the progress I’d made.  Ladies, I do declare you’re all probably rather acquainted with the “hand-break.” Think about it.

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In the beginning of the book, there is a key, loose suggestions as to what colors to use. I followed that pretty diligently, being a novice. But I soon came into my own and developed a personal, intrinsic “adult coloring” form, or rather, a sense of what might look “cool.”

Until, finally, nearly two days later, I defeated my task, which, I should add, had quickly become mandatory. I set my pencil down, wondered at my masterpiece, and whispered ceremoniously, “It is finished.”

It, indeed, is finished.
It, indeed, is finished.

I plan on hanging it on my wall–perhaps I’ll frame it. And as I continue to humor this new hobby, my wall will soon become monopolized by color and design and CREATIVITY and FEELING MADE TANGIBLE. Sorry, I let myself run away with my pretentiousness.

On a slightly different note, I encourage ALL OF YOU, like I will my friends, to take up this activity! It really is just simply enjoyable. “Good clean fun, adult coloring is.” – Yoda

Lesson learned: Adult coloring is a great way to harness the child in us all. I believe hiding that part of ourselves is synonymous with dishonoring everything that makes us who we are. Adult coloring is fun. Adult coloring is discovery. Adult coloring is the shit. 

Lesson #9: Expect To Lose It All This Holiday Season

My Christmas “Lose It All” Playlist

  1. All I Want For Christmas Is My Money Back
  2. Santa Baby [Please Save My Bank Account]
  3. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Poverty
  4. Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain [Dollah Dollah Bills Ya’ll!]
  5. Here Comes The IRS
  6. Do You Hear What I Hear? [The Dry Cough Of My Barren Bank Account]
  7. The Twelve Days Of Financial Insecurity

Ahh, don’t you guys just love these Christmas classics? Me neither.

Lose It All

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Christmastime is like going to Las Vegas with $1000, knowing you’re going to lose it all, and then losing it all. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts; but it’s buying them that becomes taxing. The worst part comes once Christmas is said and done, after everyone has opened their presents and the excitement of watching their faces when they open their gifts has worn off. The worst part comes late at night, at the darkest hour, when you’re laying in bed alone, surveying your bank account. Only then do you realize what you’ve done. Did you lose it all? Yes, yes you did. You, my friend, just got crapped on by a Christmas Craps table.

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Way 2 go!

And the only person laughing is good ol’ Saint Nick, a contrived symbol of Christmas spirit–a man who prides himself on his ability, or should I say resources (i.e. elf slave labor), to spread holiday cheer across the globe–a soul who’s sole purpose it is to guilt you into fulfilling this gift-giving expectation and spend all your money on pointless things just so you can check off a “good deed” for the year.

Cindy Lou Who _2
‘Lil Cindy was onto something…
Yikes... nevermind
Yikes… nevermind

I sound like The Grinch. I’ll tone down the cynicism, because I’m not really at all cynical about Christmas. I LOVE GIVING GIFTS. But isn’t it interesting that we only do this once a year, excluding birthdays? Why aren’t we giving gifts all the time if it so clearly makes those closest to us happy?

I’ll tell you why… and it starts with a $. Because all that money you’ve saved up so you can move to Chicago in a year–you’d lose it all. Every last drop. At least, it will feel that way. But hey, it doesn’t mean you can’t surprise your best friends and family with a little something every now and then. Heck, I know I’d appreciate it. (Hint Hint)

I just finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, and while it came as a relief, I soon felt a deep, yearning emptiness in the part of my heart that’s synced to my bank account (You’ve got to buy the app). So you know what I did? I took off my pants (as I do when I get home) and got in bed. If I were a robot, the minute I closed my eyes would be accompanied by that sound robots make when they’re powering down, like a jet deaccelerating, a low yrooommmmm. Then begins the recharging period. But because I’m not a robot, I let myself fall asleep, enabling the defense mechanism that prefers to slip away into dream world rather than face reality.

Give It All

Yeah, it sucks having to spend so much money during Christmastime, but there’s nothing like seeing the smile on the faces of the people you’re gifting. There’s nothing like the warm feeling you get in your heart, that trumps the aforementioned emptiness. Yes, giving gifts is selfless, but it’s also self-fulfilling. It feels good to give gifts, at least for me. It feels much better than the regret I feel upon handing my hard-earned money over to the cashier. That’s what it comes down to. If you’re not a gift-giver. Don’t force it. Everyone has a love language, and if gifting isn’t, do something else to show you care during this holiday season. Take your mom out to lunch. Write a poem for your boy/girlfriend. Compliment your best friend all day until they can’t take it anymore. Do what you do best on Christmas Day… unless you’re REALLY practiced in kleptomania. Do us all a favor and try to deny that compulsion, at least for a day, k?

Lesson learned: Expect not to lose it all during Christmastime, but give it all. And expect to be happy about it.

happy_christmas_0051

Lesson #8: Expect nothing will go according to plan

Saturday morning, I woke up at my boyfriend’s house and left to go grocery shopping for gingerbread cookies (I was making Star Wars-themed gingerbread men for a bake sale at the animal humane society).

I didn’t expect the ingredients to cost too much (all I needed was ginger, clove, something called unsulfured molasses, and few other odds and ends). 63 FREAKING dollars. But I paid it, because it’s for the animals. Fine. I should mention I overdrew my account the previous day… luckily, it had been pay day.

When I got home, I set about making myself some breakfast–just your simple over-easy eggs and bacon. I took the bacon out of the freezer, put it in the microwave to defrost, and set the eggs on the counter. Two cartons had been in my fridge, one that expired on November 27th, and another that was best by December 1st. I threw away the first and decided the latter couldn’t be THAT old. It may not be “best” anymore, but it had to still be good, right?

While I was surveying the eggs, little did I know, I had forgotten to press “defrost” on the microwave… so, essentially, my bacon was cooking, inside its plastic, in the microwave. As luck would have it, I caught it before the plastic melted into the meat and spoiled the only thing I had to eat that morning. The bacon was still mostly raw, but a bit scorched on the edges. Great. So far, I’m feeling REALLY on top of my game. I got this young adulthood thing down.

I started cooking the bacon, and by the third batch, a lot of grease had accumulated in the pan, so much so that I figured I better get rid of some unless I wanted fire-grease to the eye. I took the pan off the burner, and began to pour its contents into a small glass. WELL, FOR ANY OF YOU VETERAN CHEFS OUT THERE, YOU PROBABLY KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EXTREMELY HOT GREASE MEETS GLASS. It shatters. Into pieces. In my hand. So now, my hand covered in hot grease and glass, I decide to sing the word “shit” and tend to my fuck up. Did I mention a little bit of hot bacon grease went down the drain? It did. I can only hope there is no permanent damage. I hope the same for my life in general.

After that, I decided to endure the scorching grease that popped and sizzled, sending globs of fire onto my skin and face as I finished the bacon. Needless to say, I’m not happy at this point.

With the bacon done (did I mention I burned a good half of them?), I set about making my over-easy eggs. FOR ALL OF YOU WHO KNEW HOT GREASE KILLS TEMPERED GLASS, YOU PROBABLY KNOW EXPIRED EGGS DON’T MAKE COOKING THEM VERY EASY. Let’s keep this short. I cracked the egg, opened it over the pan, and the contents splattered onto the surface with a sickening plop; the yoke had broken and now covered the entire pan. Its sizzling laughter mocked my orignal desire to have over-easy eggs for breakfast so I could dip my crispy bacon in the hearty yoke.

Fine. I’ll make scrambled.

I sat down with my plate of two eggs and bacon that had caused far too much physical and emotional strain, and took a fork to the scrambled mess. On first bite, I knew I had made a mistake by assuming the expiration date was a loose discretion. THEY TASTED LIKE SHIT. So, ignoring the eggs, I chewed on my bacon and watched Jane the Virgin to forget my sorrows. But you know what I learned?

Lesson learned: Expect nothing. Life won’t always go as expected, but that just makes it more real. Besides, mistakes make for lessons, and I’m all for that. I now know how not to properly dispose of bacon grease. And that Netflix cures everything.

As for the gingerbread men, they were a beautiful success. Took me a good five hours, and there were a few hiccups with the dough thawing out too quickly, but I have to say I was quite proud upon finishing. And though I wasn’t there to witness their distribution at the bake sale, I like to believe they brought a smile to kids, pets, adults, and Star Wars fans alike.

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I mean, c’mon… These are pretty badass. Look how cute Darth Vader is…

Speaking of cute Darth Vaders, look at this kitten I met…

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My boyfriend named him “Darth”

Lesson #7: Avoid social media at all costs

In the midst of heated debates about gun control and Syrian refugees and gross generalizations about people, religion, and society, it’s been hard for me to keep silent.

I grew up with a conservative father, but I never found much interest in politics. In fact, I’d proudly assert my disdain for all things political. It’s true that, today, I still don’t particularly like “politics,” simply because, to me, the word holds a rather negative connotation (I’ll explain later). Instead, what’s changed is the attention I’ve chosen to pay the world–to what people do, are, and say. I can’t ignore it. I can’t ignore our blatant disrepect for people who need our help. I can’t ignore the hypocrisy spewed by the people claiming to want what’s best for the world. I can’t ignore the fact that I don’t trust our government, because half the members are too prideful to act on behalf of the good of the country. Name one politician who doesn’t act on behalf of themselves these days. But only if you can prove it.

Call me naive, but “politics” isn’t what it used to be. I can’t imagine even half of our presidential candiatates this year care about the issues they relentlessly debate. These days, it’s about power and winning the argument for your “team.” In the end, what matters is the scoreboard. And my biggest question is “why?” I’ve never asked a more important question in my life.

Why? I don’t understand. Why do you think this…? Why do you believe that…? Why are you so…? Why the pride? Why the hypocrisy? Why can’t you see what you’re saying?

But the sad thing is… I fall victim to these things, too. Hypocrisy. Pride. Ego. Cynicism. All the things that make us humans. And the name of our game is self-destruction. Go figure.

Pride leads me to social media, Twitter, Facebook, where I find myself in a heated, yet mature, debate about gun regulations. I always told myself I’d never do this, but as many of you know, it’s incredibly difficult to avoid chiming in when the person who last chimed in presented his opinion with five whole paragraphs and obviously bias, oftentimes incorrect, information. See? I’m getting angry just typing about it. Why? I never wanted to be one of these pretentious people–the people who pride their opinion and demean anyone who opposes it. I’m trying to gain perspective–really, I am. I’ve been reading blogs, articles, whatever I can get my hands on. But it’s hard to gain perspective when we’re all sitting behind computer screens, casting our opinions out into the sea of our “friends,” forgetting that social media gives us the hidden and valuable space, seperate from the real world, where it’s too easy to have a one-sided argument, where we’re tricked into thinking we’re “saving the world” by “liking” a promotional article about defunding Planned Parenthood or filtering our profile pic to the colors of the French flag, where we can provoke opposition and show off our expertise and skill at articulating our views on contemporary issues. Where the media tells us what we should and should not care about.

Have we forgotten what it really takes to save the world? I have. It doesn’t take logging on to social media and looking for posts about guns, or violence, or Muslims so I can give my input and fulfill my desire to prove my opinion worthy, possibly even more worthy than everyone participating. That’s bullshit, Stephanie. It forces me to ask myself, “Do you really care about the issues? Or do you just want to win the argument?”

No, we haven’t forgotten what it really takes to save the world. We’re just too lazy to do it.

Lesson learned: Stop arguing, and start acting.  

Click here and here to make a difference for Syrian refugees.

Click here to gain perspective on Islam.

Click here to help people around the world.

Click here to help those who lost so much in France.

Click here to support teenage Pakistani activitist, Malala’s, fight for education around the globe.