Aug 16

You’re Supposed to Be Here

You’re supposed to be here.

Consider this a cosmic reminder: You're supposed to be here.


Even though some people try to make you think that you shouldn’t be here. Even though some people’s anxious energy makes you think that you’re the anxious one. Even though you’ve never been here before. Even though other people have been here way longer.

You're supposed to be here. Click To Tweet

Today I’m giving you this reminder. Consider it a sign if you want. Take it as gospel. Ignore it completely. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m just here to say that you’re supposed to be here.

Recently, I received this reminder out of the blue. In fact, when I got that reminder, I actually mistook it as a warning that I wasn’t supposed to be here. A reassuring voice can sound like it’s questioning you when you’ve been telling yourself you don’t belong for a year. It’s kind of funny how a worried brain on edge can do that. But when you’ve felt like an impostor for so long, it’s hard to accept that maybe you’ve been the real deal since day one.

This is all very vague. Or maybe it’s not. I can’t give you a concrete example or all the details of what happened. I wish I could spell it out for you and tell you exactly how it happened — how I realized I was supposed to be here. And I can, but only if we meet up for coffee. This is an in-person story, a story where the details and particulars don’t need to be where everyone and their brother can read them.

And it’s fair to say that if I consider a story to be an “in-person” story, then perhaps I shouldn’t have blogged it at all. I get that. But I’m a big fan of signs and shooting stars and messages scrawled in tarot cards and tea leaves. I’m sure some of my readers feel the same. And while I can’t trace the lines of your palms over the internet, pretend I am right now.

Pretend I’m looking at your palm, your wrist cradled in my left hand. My right index finger is prodding your lifeline. I look up at you. I stare into your eyes. We both smile. I say, “You’re supposed to be here.” You exhale, but not fully. It takes a minute for it to sink in. You ask me exactly what I’m trying to say.

I drop your hand. “Let’s go get a cup of coffee,” I say. “I need to reassure you that you aren’t crazy.”

Aug 16

Welcome to the Perfect Storm!

That’s right, fellow procrastinators — we’ve reached the perfect storm.

Welcome to the perfect storm!

That’s what I like to call the stage in any project where shit absolutely must get done, and the pressure to complete it is so immense that there’s no room for error. Couple that with the amount of things that have to happen to pull off your task, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm.

I usually don’t like to get here, and for the most part, I try not to. Sure, sometimes I’ll take on a project with a very quick turnaround that’s basically a perfect storm from day one. But for the most part, I’m pretty okay at getting little things done one by one so I don’t have to spend a couple of 18-hour days making it all happen.

A History of the Perfect Storm

My first perfect storms happened in undergrad. I wasn’t particularly bad at managing time, but I didn’t enjoy a lot of my classes. In those instances, I would wait until the day before something was due and stay up all night writing a paper. Because writing is kind of my thing, I could do this relatively easily. I wrongly assumed that others had this ability. On one occasion, I told a girl in my Medieval Art History class that I started my paper on the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus the night before it was due, and still got an A. She had spent three weeks on her paper on the great mosque of Córdoba, and even included some photos she took of it when she studied in Spain the semester before. I don’t know what grade she received on that project, but I do know that she never spoke to me again.

My final semester of my Master of Professional Writing program was a 3-month perfect storm. I had to complete my master’s project novel in one semester, lest I be forced to extend my program a whole semester to complete it. While I did have some friends who took that route, mama wasn’t about to pay any more money on that program of study. So, I wrote a novel in 3 months. And during those 3 months, I worked as a grad assistant for 20 hours a week, and waited tables for 20-30 hours a week. The novel I wrote wasn’t great. In fact, nothing I created in grad school was that great. (But that’s kind of what student work is — not great stuff where the student figures out what it is they want to create.) If you ever find yourself in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma, wander up to the library on the second floor. You can totally find my master’s thesis project in there. I think it’s called “A Summer in Belleville.” I can’t remember though. Like most perfect storms, I’ve completely blocked it out after the fact.

While I was working on my Master of Library and Information Studies, I was also working full-time as a ghostwriter for perhaps the sketchiest publishing company on the face of the earth. During my first semester, I was enrolled in the Archives class. As I had always done, I waited until the day a 20-page paper was due to start working on it. I called in sick to work that day, turned on the TV and blared the first season of Downton Abbey, and then proceeded to research and write a 20-page paper between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM, when the online dropbox closed. I got the paper finished and turned in on time. I got an A-. I could not tell you what the assignment was, or what I actually wrote about though.

Remember that sketchy publishing company I mentioned? Well, while I was employed there, our standard operating procedure meant that I was writing two books at a time each month. And I had to turn in a quarter of each book each week to my supervisor. (The workload was insane and I got so stressed and fat while working there.) One Friday, I hadn’t even started writing either of the books I was supposed to turn in that afternoon. I had spent the previous 4 days on the phone or in meetings doing all manner of stupid stuff that prevented me from actually doing the job I was hired to do. So, I chugged a mug of coffee on my way into the office, and set two energy drinks on my desk, and got to work. By the end of the 9-hour workday, I sent off 15,400 words worth of writing to my boss. He then read some of those words to my coworkers during our meeting that following Monday, and commended me for the great work I was doing.

I’m not saying any of this to brag. I’m just saying that I think I tend to do better under pressure than I give myself credit for. Well, that and I’ve spent like the past 22 years of my life utterly obsessed with writing, so I’m perhaps more fit to complete writing tasks under pressure.

The Current Perfect Storm

As of this morning, I have 5 days until the semester starts. That means I have 5 whole days to set up my online learning management system, configure the online quizzes that come with the book, write a syllabus, figure out the course schedule, write all the assignments and rubrics, and get at least my first week of lectures all set.

I would like to state for the record that I intended to get started with all this back in July. But with teaching reading classes, and pretty much feeling like I only slept 3 hours this entire summer, it didn’t happen.

Currently, my record for setting up a course is 4 hours. But that’s kind of what has to happen when a department has an instructor quit two days before the semester and then scrambles to find you.

Since this is my fourth semester to teach this class, I’m not stressing the perfect storm as much as I would be otherwise. A lot of what I have to do is just re-tooling what I was working with the semester before. Regardless, I’d like you to wish me luck, and maybe buy me a coffee if you see me out in the real world with a very tired and stressed look on my face.

What about you? Do you like to work and get shit done in a perfect storm?

Aug 16

It Started With a Vision Board

Honestly, I’m the last person on the planet you should expect to have a vision board. But every once in a while I am overcome by urges to do things. So here we are. Let me explain.

vision board

Last Saturday, I came home around 1:30 PM from a friend’s house. We had played Eclipse Phase, and eaten absurd amounts of queso and donuts. (We did not dip the donuts in queso. Sorry to disappoint.) During that time, each of our characters was questioned by a Karen Gillan-esque character played by James, the GM. See, Black Hilda hired us to escort her, and we got into some mischief on Mars. So, when we boarded the Scum Swarm, naturally, people were curious.

(There’s a lot of backstory here, so if you’re interested, you should totally start listening to R2D. It’s a podcast that’s a recording of our games. Also, know that my character is an uplift octomorph named Coral Typhoon. Some call me Squishy.)

Anyway, after we played, Alexis took us around her new home and showed us the homestead. It’s an adorable house that she and her boyfriend have totally made their own. In the backyard, there’s a garden and a pond that her German Shepherd pranced in, and a creepy path that has a ton of poison berries and probably Slender Man tracks.

(Does Slender Man leave tracks?)

On my drive home, I kept thinking about how much fun it must have been for Alexis to buy a house and make it her own. I’m sure many people have had this thought before, but I generally don’t think much about the space I occupy, probably because for the first 28 years of my life, I tended to live in spaces that I was not allowed to modify in any way. But then I remembered that Chris and I totally have the ability to modify our space. AND THAT WE SHOULD.

So, when I got home, I asked my boyfriend Chris, a bearded fellow of the burly sort if he wanted to make a vision board for our house. Oddly enough, he said yes. We gathered our things and headed to Barnes and Noble to purchase some magazines (and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) so we could come home and make a vision board.

I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to help me make a vision board. He said yes. Click To Tweet

See, we want to change up our house a bit. A lot, actually. We have quite a few remodeling projects we’d like to take on, and we’ve been lacking the motivation to get started. However, upon seeing Alexis’s house and all the work they’ve done in the garden, it occurred to me that the best way to get things done is to just straight up do them. Oddly enough, that seems to do the trick.

So, before we even hung a single image on the ol’ vision board, we started tearing up some carpet. And now the fireplace is a lot closer to being done that it has been in the past 7 years. (For those of you who don’t know, there has kind of been a gaping hole in the wall for the past 7 years…literally since before I met Chris, and way before I moved in with him.)

(I must really love a dude to move into his gaping hole house.)

To be clear, the gaping hole is still there. However, we have laid down this vapor barrier thing, and there’s a frame that’s braced against some studs, and soon, we will have no more gaping holes! (Obviously, I’m not good at talking renovations. I may be a contractor’s daughter, but let’s be real. This blog will never be about fixing up a house. It could very well become a blog about selling off 98% of your possessions and living in a van as I traverse the country, but we’ll discuss that at a later date.)

As we make progress on the gaping hole, I'll keep you posted. Click To Tweet

As we make progress on the gaping hole, I’ll keep you posted. The next step is to purchase some cement boards and tile, and of course, to install them.

As for the vision board, I think it may continue to grow. We have all manner of ideas for this house. And as long as I keep getting random spurts of inspiration from hanging out with people, then who knows how many more projects we’ll tackle?!

Aug 16

If We Were Having Coffee…

If we were having coffee...

If we were having coffee, I’d probably just order a hot, black coffee. Even though it’s roughly one billion degrees outside, I just can’t stop drinking my coffee hot. I do enjoy iced coffee, but man. There’s something about sipping a hot cup of black coffee, exhaling gently, and letting your brain settle. No, seriously, there’s something about it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m not ready for the school year to start. I have a brand spankin’ new office that I love, and we’re using a new textbook too. But for some reason, someone cut summer short. I could swear that it was supposed to be like 3 months long. How is it that the fall semester starts in less than 3 weeks?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how proud I am of Chris and the business he’s built. It’s awesome to see how many stores are now selling the enamel pins he’s made. I love all the hard work he’s put into doing something that he loves. And then I’d encourage you to buy this fart pin. Seriously. You need a wearable graphic representation of a fart.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about LulaRoe and how it’s functionally saved my business casual wardrobe. I attended at party back in July at Mari’s house, and wound up purchasing 7 pieces. (This may sound extreme, but know that I recently got rid of like 80% of my ill-fitting, age-inappropriate work clothes.) Prior to the party, I’d only heard rave reviews of their leggings, but I don’t really have many days in my week when I can actually wear leggings. I wasn’t interested at all, until I saw the Amelia dress online. Now, every time I wear an Amelia dress (since the party, I am the owner of 3) I get a compliment. Oh, and they have pockets. SAINTS BE PRAISED. My friend Samantha and I are  having a LulaRoe party in October to celebrate our birthdays since they’re a week a part. I’m totally going to buy like 6 more Amelias, 5 Cassie skirts, and 9 Madison skirts. You may think I’m crazy, but I finally found the Garanimals for adults, so they can have all my dollars.

I finally found the Garanimals for adults, so they can have all my dollars. Click To Tweet

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that my orchid is still alive and well, but hasn’t bloomed after all the flowers fell off. I’d also tell you that I’m taking it personally, and that I intend to write an angry letter to the head orchid, if such an entity exists. Also, I may ask you for help with my orchid. The stems are super green, and the leaves are looking good. But no blooms. How the hell is it possible that owning a dog is easier than owning an orchid?

If we were having coffee, I’d probably curse way more than your comfortable with. Know that I mean no offense by it. It’s just something I do when I feel comfortable around someone. Curse words are my love language.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how hard I’m geeking out over Tom Bombadil. Since I’ve been teaching The Fellowship of the Ring this summer, I’ve gotten to obsess over little elements of the novel. The first time I read it back in high school, I didn’t know what to think of him. And I remember in one of the commentary videos on the special edition DVD of the movie that someone basically said a character like that wouldn’t be allowed to exist in a modern novel because editors would take it right out. Luckily Tolkien didn’t deal with today’s editors, because it means I get to geek out over Bombadil. And I try to transfer some of that love of him to my students. I really need to get a pair of yellow boots too. Ol’ Tom was a pretty fashion-forward sort of guy.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that for the first time this summer, my desk in my home office is clean. I mean, it still has piles of washi tape, too many pens, Post-Its galore, and various random things on it, but it’s clean. I mean, clean for my desk. Basically, there isn’t a pile of paper work on it. It’s weird how good that makes me feel. It’s also weird that the 15-minute task of cleaning off a desk can somehow take months.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the Bella Twins diet was a massive failure. I made it 3 days. And I was uncomfortably full the whole time. Rest assured that I’m back to consuming Diet Coke and popcorn popped on the stove top for like every meal. Oh, and Chris bought me an air popper, so I’ve basically leveled up when it comes to the popped arts.

I'm back to consuming Diet Coke and popcorn popped on the stove top for like every meal. Click To Tweet

If we were having coffee, I’d probably tell you a whole lot of things that I’m not going to publish on the blog. They aren’t bad things. They just aren’t ready to be released into the void yet. A lot of it’s really good stuff. I’m talking epiphanies. I’m talking realizing life purpose. I’m probably talking manic upswing, if I’m being real.

If we were having coffee, what would you tell me?

Aug 16

When You Don’t Have the Energy for Introspection

When you don't have the energy for introspection

One of the big things I like about reading blogs is getting a glimpse into the heads of others. I’m not big on fashion blogs or recipe posts, but I love posts about travel and the way people felt in a certain space. I love posts where people detail how they lay out their planner. Do you have a kickass morning routine? I WANT TO KNOW ALL ABOUT IT. Do you have an even kickasser nighttime routine? I WANT TO KNOW ALL ABOUT THAT EVEN MORE. Maybe I’m a voyeur, but I really like slice-of-life posts and looking into someone else’s world.

Naturally, the stuff I gravitate toward tends to be more introspective. I like feelings and thought processes. And I’d like to be the sort of blogger that can always bring that to the table.

But here’s the thing.

I can’t.

Lately, I just feel tired. All I do is count down the hours until I can go home and sit on my couch and read the internet while my dog snores loudly next to me. All I do is zone out so I don’t have to be aware of the time I’m spending doing something other than watching TV with Chris. I haven’t been doing a very good job of taking stock of my life lately, and I haven’t picked up my journal in months.

The reasons for this are many. Burn out without a break makes one a little dull around the headspace. So while I’m slowly coming out of this weird brain funk, I’m still a little too tired to think properly.

What I’m saying is that I don’t have the energy to be introspective right now, and that’s okay.

Instead, I’m spending my energy on other productive things, mainly in hopes that they will keep propelling me forward. I’ve tried using sleep and Netflix to get my head right, and all that does is make my anxious. So instead I’ve been lugging my camera around. I’ve gone to a great antique store, and I’m planning a reading date where I just take myself to a coffee shop where I can finish a good book. I’ve learned that I need to make productive downtime a staple in my life.

I've learned that I need to make productive downtime a staple in my life. Click To Tweet

And maybe I’ll even start writing posts about the various self-care routines I’m trying to make habits. We could all probably use healthier ways to keep our heads right. And maybe I’ll come up with a self-care habit that will work great for you.

Until then, I’ll keep chugging along, reading the introspective posts from other bloggers and looking forward to the day when I’m more aware of the thoughts and feelings in my own head.