humor

Dear Taylor Swift, Here Are 22 Things That 22 Actually Feels Like

1. Not being able to pay your grocery bill because you bought that extra handle of Fireball.

2. A dizzying lack of sleep.

3. Drinking day-old coffee because you’re too lazy to make a fresh pot.

4. Digging in all your coat pockets for enough quarters to do a load of laundry.

5. Rapidly approaching unemployment.

6. Choosing Netflix over a frat party and feeling really good about your decision.

7. Realizing that you have no more birthdays to look forward to.

8. Having more respect for your crockpot than your roommates.

9. Panicking about how soon you have to pay for your own health insurance.

10. Wondering whether it’s acceptable to get your news from both Buzzfeed and the New York Times.

11. Calling your mom to ask how to use the toaster oven as an oven.

12. Screwing up your taxes.

13. Forgetting what it means to have to wear something other than men’s boxer shorts.

14. Trying to figure out at what point it is no longer okay for your mom to be your emergency contact.

15. Losing all respect for pretty much anyone under the age of 21.

16. One giant, horrible, disorienting hangover.

17. Actually waking up when your alarm goes off.

18. A slightly terrifying readiness to become a contributing member of society.

19. Finally starting to become friends with the siblings you once wanted to strangle.

20. Learning how much shit you thought was free you actually have to pay for.

21. Complaining about back and neck pain.

22. Okay, maybe I do feel happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. Damn it Taylor Swift. Looks like you got something right.

The Empty Journal

2014-01-04 20.26.06

A year ago, I bought this journal at a craft store. I laughed out loud when I saw it, because it was just so incredibly perfect. “The creeping sense of impending disaster and the all-encompassing fears both specified and vague that colonize my mind, body, and soul” – that’s pretty much my everyday life, right? (And in case you can’t read the fine print at the bottom, it says “even though optimism may be unself-aware and ill-placed, I know I’ll be happier as a blind fool than as a clairvoyant apocalyptic.”)

Now if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I have an uncanny ability to fill a journal. I’m constantly buying new ones because I can never quite keep up with the pace of my own writing. So it is seriously weird that I’ve had this awesome journal for a whole year and only filled five pages.

Here’s my problem…it’s prompted.

The beginning of every page begins with “What I’m hanging hope on today:” and that seems unfair. Because hope is a nice idea and all, but when a page starts off with a heading like that, all of a sudden I feel guilty writing down anything negative. Because how can I finish that sentence? “What I’m hanging hope on today: my body image really sucks”? Or “What I’m hanging hope on today: my roommates and I just had explosive diarrhea simultaneously and we only have one bathroom”? And I can’t just ignore the prompt, because it’s sitting right there staring at me and making me feel worse about feeling bad.

Every time I write in that journal, I say I’m going to do it more often. That I’m going to suck it up and write what I want, prompt be damned. But I never do. Although I am a person who generally craves order and organization, when it comes to writing, I think the best thing I can have in front of me at any given moment is a blank page. No prompts. That way I can write in poetry or metaphor or prose or even draw, and there’s nobody looking down their nose and telling me I can’t. So many times I want to write about things other than hope. I want to write about fear and loneliness and vulnerability and how it feels to fall in love with someone from thousands of miles away. I want to write about my family and how beautiful they are and how much they truly love each other. I want to write about the way I feel when I have too much to drink and the emotions spill out of me like running water and I’m left face-to-face with something ugly and scary. It doesn’t give me hope. It gives me life. It means I’m living. And living is oh so very painful. To quote William Goldman, anyone who says differently is selling something.

I’ve moved on to other journals since I started this one. In fact, I’ve completely finished at least two since the last time I wrote in it. Still, I keep it. The cover makes me laugh, and the sometimes funny/sometimes inspirational quotes inside are fun to look at.

Perhaps my inner optimist is disappointed in me. I doubt it. I usually find some way to see the bright side of a situation, even when nobody asks me to. And maybe I’ll find use for such a book someday, when my thoughts bleed out loud rather than on paper. Until then, well, whatever happens, it’s gonna be okay.

15 Ways to Put Off Writing a Religion Paper

1. Organize everything in your closet by color, being careful to adhere strictly to the ROY G. BIV template.

2. Facebook stalk your high school senior prom date for no less than one hour. Come across the list of Inspirational People he has “liked,” and laugh because the list contains both Akon and St. Augustine. Then feel really creepy and weird and hope there is no way he can find out how long you spent poking around his profile.

3. Watch celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves.

4. Think about actually studying for your math midterm. Pick up the textbook and flip through the first few pages before deciding you’re not actually that desperate. Yet.

5. Start planning next year’s Halloween costume.

6. Drink Think about drinking, but decide the kitchen is too far away.

7. Go to WebMD and try to diagnose yourself with at least three life-threatening illnesses. Bonus points if you end up with something actually impossible; for example, a virgin with a diagnosis of syphilis.

8. Jokingly feign stapling your roommate’s business school homework to the wall. Be surprised when it actually works and spend at least 10 minutes trying to pull the staple out of the wall without ripping the paper. Rip the paper. Cry.

9. Try really hard to put all the empty Diet Coke cans in the recycling using just your mind.

10. Practice performing several different songs so you’re prepared the next time you happen to end up at a karaoke bar. Decide to channel your inner Britney.*

11. Think about shaving your legs. Don’t actually shave your legs.

12. Rerecord your voicemail message. Get freaked out by the sound of your own voice because there is no way you actually talk like that…is there?

13. Spend a few minutes wishing you had a boyfriend so you could make him bring you ice cream. Go get ice cream out of the freezer and eat it alone.

14. Paint your fingernails. Then take off the polish because you’re really bad at painting your fingernails and you realize that it looks like a unicorn bled all over your hands. Wonder how you got through 21 years of being a girl without ever learning how to properly apply nail polish.

15. Write a blog post entitled “15 Ways to Put Off Writing a Religion Paper.”

*Yes, that is a real video of me channeling my own inner Britney. You’re welcome.

Leeches: A Love Story

I was sitting at the picnic table in the sun, carefully organizing swim cards by cabin, when one of my staff members ran over to me with a look of terror and urgency.

My mind immediately started running through every horrifying possibility. Did a kid drown? Did we lose one somehow? Did somebody get a spinal injury? What was going on?

But it was even worse than that.

One of the campers had a leech stuck on his arm.

Now, I am a tad bit sadistic when it comes to leeches. I love killing them. It gives me a strange satisfaction to watch them writhe in pain until they stop moving altogether. But children do not see them as potential prey, rather as predators who will probably suck the life out of them within the minute. Children don’t understand how easy it is to kill them. And the second one kid comes out of the water with a leech, that’s it – none of them step even a toe in the lake for the rest of the week.

Those damn little buggers. I was the head of the swimming department and it was my job to make sure the campers got the swimming lessons their parents were promised, but leeches did a really excellent job of making my duties significantly harder.

I ran to the swim box and grabbed my trusty salt shaker. “Take me to him,” I ordered the counselor firmly. By the time we ran across the beach to where the victim sat frozen, wide-eyed, with his leeched arm thrust high into the air, I knew it was too late to save my swim lessons. Those kids were never going back in the water.

“NO!” the boy yelped as I reached toward his arm. He swung it away from me. “AAAHHH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!”

The other campers began to form a circle around their screaming, hollering friend. I shook nearly the entire supply of salt into the sand while trying desperately to get at least some of it on the bloodsucking creature that was ruining my life. But even after it was handicapped enough for the still-frantic victim to shake it loose, everyone on the beach was completely out of their minds. Kids were yelling obscenities and running toward the tree line, far away from the water. Counselors were sprinting after the ones who thought they’d make a clean escape under the rope lines. Chaos. My department was lost in utter and absolute chaos.

As I looked at the scene unfolding around me, I was overwhelmed by my sheer lack of control. I had no power to stop that kid from attracting a leech. I had no authority over the gut reactions of a bunch of 8-year-olds. I had no way of calming them down, and no idea of how to convince them that swimming lessons were still a good idea. I was standing in the eye of a hurricane, with no way of directing the wind.

Suddenly, I started to laugh. Fear wasn’t doing me any good. Guilt wasn’t doing me any good. This was a moment of madness, a moment that would one day make a hilarious story (barring some strange turn of events where something legitimately terrible happened). My lack of control meant that it wasn’t my fault. And so, free of the weight of blame, I laughed.

I managed, with the help of my staff, to wrangle all sixty or so kids into some semblance of an orderly line so they could tag out of the swim section. After they returned to their cabins, I performed my normal cleanup routine, picking up lost towels and discarded sand pails. Everything was sane again.

As I plucked the empty salt shaker from the sand where it had landed, I couldn’t help but smile. Oh, tomorrow was going to be hard, I knew that, but today had reminded me of the unpredictability of life. And that was a beautiful thing.

An Open Letter to Netflix, or Why I Will Never Be Productive Again

My dearest Netflix,

It’s been two years since our worlds collided. Two years since I provided you with my name and email address, and you opened my eyes to everything I’d ever been missing. It was such an ordinary day. I liked you well enough, and I wanted to watch Girl, Interrupted, so I gave you a chance. And my life changed forever.

Congratulations, you are the most visited website on my computer.

Congratulations, you have killed my motivation to do literally anything else.

“One more episode before I go to bed,” I say to myself at midnight every night. “I just have to see if Zack can get Kelly Kapowski back from that sleazy waiter.” Then I wake up eight hours later, drooling on my keyboard, only to hit the space bar and watch the title sequence begin once more.

“I can totally do my homework just as well while I’m watching Firefly,” I reassure myself as I read over my problem set. It’s a good idea until I’m three episodes in and I look down at the paper in my lap and all it says is I ❤ SIMON. My math teacher probably won’t give me any partial credit for that, even with the inequality thrown in.

Oh, Netflix, you are so cruel. You know I don’t have the willpower to stand up to you. You know I’m easily seduced by your “You Might Also Like” popup notifications. You know me too well. It’s a trap I can’t escape.

Without you, there are so many things I could do. I could have a social life, you know, hang out with my friends. I could read a book. I could do laundry, or go grocery shopping, or clean my room – all of which really need to happen. You cater to my addictions, Netflix, and you’re taking away my life.

In the words of Jack Twist, I wish I knew how to quit you. You’ve done too much for me. Without you, I never would have met Buffy Summers or fallen in love with the tenth Doctor. I would still be blind to the mysteries of LOST. I wouldn’t worship the ground Joss Whedon walks on or be able to recite the entire script of Clueless word-for-word. You’ve given me entire lifetimes of adventures in only two short years.

And all it cost me was $8×24 months=$192, my social life, my sanity, and my academic performance.

Wait a minute…

Yours very fondly,

Gwen

Confessions of a Chronic Third Wheel

Today I was riding my bike home from class, as usual, when I was suddenly struck by a disturbing revelation.

I have gotten WAY too good at third-wheeling.

73148

Me, every day

It wasn’t always this way…I don’t think. I think I used to have single friends, or at least I sometimes hung out with one person instead of two. And on the rare occasions that I did find myself alone with a couple of lovebirds, I remember feeling awkward. That’s a normal reaction, right? It’s supposed to be awkward?

I mean, I guess I technically spent the first two years of my life third-wheeling my parents, so that could be what set me up for a lifetime of sitting alone on one side of the dinner table. Maybe it’s hereditary. When my mom was in high school, her best friend dated her older brother, so she probably spent her fair share of nights buying her own drinks at bars. Or maybe it developed out of my timid nature and sarcastic self-loathing. People in relationships probably like having me around because I make them glad they’re no longer single and depressing. Something like that.

I was doing homework at one of my good friend’s houses this afternoon, and her boyfriend came by (like he always does, they’re adorable, yada yada yada), and they invited me to join them at the Art Institute on Thursday. At first I was a little taken aback, you know, because I didn’t want to crash their date, so I politely declined. Turns out I can’t go anyway because I have class, but even before I realized that, I had this moment of clarity where I thought, wow, this is actually my life. I live in half of a two-bedroom apartment, the remainder of which is occupied by two people who have been in a relationship for a solid four years. I am actually a voluntary, residential, rent-paying third wheel.

I don’t get it. Am I so desensitized to human affection that it doesn’t even faze me anymore? Am I masochistic? Do I get sick pleasure out of constantly being reminded that I am destined to die alone? WHY did the universe curse me with such a high tolerance for people who like to just couple off like Kit-Kat bars?!

I tell myself that eventually it will be my turn. Someday, I will get to nurture a third wheel of my very own, to tell him or her to enjoy it while it lasts, because before you know it there are sappy pet names and stressful birthdays and (ugh) accountability. It’s not so bad for a while. You get to watch relationships ebb and flow, and you learn valuable lessons without having to get hurt. You just never get to feel the giddy melty butterflies either. But it’s okay, because someday you will.

And in the meantime, couple friends, there will always be someone around to take your picture when you look too cute to resist. Just be warned that this single girl is the queen of photobombing.

10 Things I Could Be That Would Be Worse Than Being “Fat”

Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to get through a day without that thought. Ugh, I’m so fat. Yeah, it’s irrational, it’s stupid, it’s superficial, I get it. I hate that it even crosses my mind.

And the thing is, no matter how many times I’m reassured (by myself or someone else) that I’m not, in fact, “fat,” it doesn’t get any easier. It’s still an overwhelmingly negative thought. It’s still a triggering thought. And I have to look at it in its big ugly face every day. We get in this ridiculous back-and-forth circular argument that never ends.

“You’re fat.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes you are.”
“No, I’m not.”

And so on and so forth until I get tired of fighting and try to drown it out with loud Top 40 music, still feeling like a piece of garbage.

But you know what? Maybe there’s a better way to look at this. I’ve been thinking a lot about my mental processes lately, and I generally don’t respond well to confrontation, even with myself. So I thought, hey, maybe instead of constantly arguing with the pesky little voice in my head, I could try outwitting it. I’m a pretty smart person, I think, and I have a good head for logic. It’s worth a try, right?

Here’s the deal, you negative thought, you. We’re gonna play a nice game of “Would You Rather.” Actually, it’s more like a game of “I Would Rather.” And I’m going to tell you about some character flaws that I DON’T have, that I’m proud not to have, and that I would choose “fat” over every single time. Yes, that’s right. Every. Single. Time. So here’s the list, without further ado, for your intellectual consideration. Ten things I could be that would be WAY worse than being “fat.”

  1. Rude. There’s nothing worse than somebody who’s impolite, bad-mannered, and ungrateful.
  2. Unreliable. I would hate to be that person, you know, the one nobody can ever count on.
  3. Narrow-minded. Everybody’s biased, but I’d rather not be intolerant or bigoted.
  4. Selfish. Let’s face it, no one wants to be friends with someone who only cares about themselves.
  5. Arrogant. People’s self-superiority can be pretty darn suffocating.
  6. Oblivious. I much prefer having general knowledge of what’s going on around me.
  7. Lazy. It’s much more rewarding to achieve things when you really earn them.
  8. Apathetic. Caring hurts sometimes, yeah, but it’s better than feeling nothing at all.
  9. Cowardly. I may be afraid a lot of the time, but I’ll never be a coward.
  10. Boring. Let’s face it, I’ve got a story to tell. I’ve got a lot of things to say and I like to be ridiculous and I’m a pretty riveting conversationalist. The worst thing I could ever be is boring. And if being slightly off-kilter means I’m a more interesting person? I’ll take it. I’ll take it any day.

15 Things I’d Do for A/C Right Now

1. Wait in line at the Comcast store.
2. Watch Miley Cyrus’ latest music video on repeat.
3. Sit next to a screaming baby on an airplane.
4. Clean my bathroom window frame with my bare hands (just trust me for the gross factor on that one).
5. Shave my head.
6. Learn to quilt.
7. Cube ten pounds of raw chicken with a dull knife.
8. Sit through all five Twilight movies in a row.
9. Change a diaper.
10. Teach my grandmother to use her iPad.
11. Speed date everyone I went to high school with.
12. Wrestle an alligator.
13. Go through sorority recruitment again.
14. Watch someone else eat the entire carton of ice cream that’s in my freezer right now.
15. Be stung by a jellyfish.

Bonus: Shots. I hate shots.

10 Things I’ve Cried About While Drunk

1. Knocking over my mojito. Don’t judge me, that’s a waste of some delicious alcohol right there.

2. Some random dude at a bar calling my best friend a slut.

3. Finding out that the guy I’d been flirting very overtly with all night had a girlfriend.

4. Falling asleep in the middle of a game of Kings.

5. Eating an entire pizza by myself.

6. Kissing a boy whose name I never bothered to learn.

7. The fact that my little brother was not responding to my (completely incoherent) drunk texts.

8. Similarly, the fact that the booty call texts I sent would not result in any actual booty, because they were unreadable.

9. My best friend taking my phone away from me because I was crying about #8.

10. Existentialism. That shit’s hard to wrap your head around, especially when you’ve had one too many tequila shots.

The 10 Weirdest Dreams I’ve Ever Had

1) Harry Potter and the Evil Gym Teacher

In this thrilling mystery, I was assigned to assist Harry Potter in solving a crime at the local high school, which we both attended. Shrek, who was the gym teacher, played a very convincing villain. At one point I opened my locker to find a severed human leg sliced at the knee and ankle.

2) The Revenge of the Teddy Bear

I was given a teddy bear for my birthday, but it was not as innocent as it seemed – the second I went downstairs, it transformed into a real bear and chased me out of the house and into a mattress store. Unfortunately, I had uncontrollable compulsions to lie down on every single mattress I passed, which made it easy for the bear to catch up to me and swallow me whole.

3) Whose Baby Is It, Anyway?

One warm and breezy spring morning, I woke up eight months pregnant. I was fairly terrified, for good reason, considering that even in the world of my dreams I was definitely not having any sex. But no one believed me when I said the baby wasn’t mine! (The next day I had a newfound understanding of how the Virgin Mary must have felt.)

4) The Other Neighborhood (Recurring)

This semi-weekly saga began with a casual walk around my neighborhood, but then the scenery would change dramatically and I would find myself in a slightly darker version of my natural surroundings. In this “alternate neighborhood,” my parents were serial killers and I was constantly on the run from my alternate self, a psychotic bitch who was frighteningly skilled at wielding a crossbow.

5) The Contest

Tired of being the oldest staff member on camp that had never been kissed, I decided to hold a Bachelorette-style competition to help me figure out who would deflower my lips. After several grueling rounds of awkward dates and painful eliminations, I finally had my Drew Barrymore moment on stage in front of all the kids. (There are SO many reasons why this is messed up and should never happen.)

6) My Brother, the Fairy

In this tragic tale, my younger brother was transformed from a child into a fairy. I entered his bedroom to find his Hot Wheels set abandoned and a tiny winged creature floating by his window. After saying a tearful goodbye to my only sibling, I opened the window and let him fly freely into the heavy twilight.

7) You Can’t Save Everybody

A story of true love and the inevitability of destiny, this dream had me jumping through time during a romantic relationship. Early on, I found out that my lover would die in a shootout, and I went to desperate measures to prevent this from happening. However, each time I saved him there was another casualty – sometimes I died, sometimes a whole school full of kids died, and actually one time I was pregnant and my unborn baby died. In the end, I had to learn to let him go and realize that sometimes horrible things happen for a reason. (This plotline felt oddly familiar – has someone made a movie about this before?)

8) The Number 41

I was repeatedly forced to stand on scales which all read “141.” I swear this was like a three-hour dream, and all I did was step onto various scales the entire time.

9) Camp Armageddon

It was the night we were all dreading – the night the world was going to end. I was up at Camp Calumet with my friends and my mail carrier, and we sat at the arts & crafts table making tissue paper flowers silently until the rapture took my mail carrier to heaven and left everyone else behind.

10) Memory Check

On an innocent visit to my high school’s performing arts center, the director announced that as a surprise pre-show act, the cast of the 2009 competition play, Flowers for Algernon, was going to perform. Everyone else remembered their lines (FROM FOUR F*CKING YEARS AGO, WHO EVEN DOES THAT) but I couldn’t even remember my character’s name. I was then laughed off the stage and as I ran crying into the wings, I realized I wasn’t wearing any pants.