What Is It About Wanting?

I want to see Hamilton. I want to go to Great Wolf Lodge. I want the Dyson cordless vacuum.

There are a lot of things I want, varying from the mundane and material to the grand and honorable. Hey, it’s good to have ambitions and dreams and desires. Recently I have been spending a lot of energy wanting these things in particular, inspired by some very convincing commercials and the Twitter-sphere. I talk about how great the new local Great Wolf Lodge must be, how we should go while the facility is still new and the staff still want to impress. When I’m cleaning the living room with our ancient cord vacuum I daydream about Dyson. And if you’re not following Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter, you are missing out.

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A Personal History of Libraries

1/2.  My mom is at work and my dad stays at the apartment to take care of me. The woman next door needs help with childcare and my dad needs money, so he hauls two kids and a baby all around D.C. We are lucky that so many things are free. I learn to walk at the Smithsonian in between trips to the zoo. We visit the Library of Congress and hear about the days my dad spent there in college doing research.

4. My mom takes a baby and a preschooler to story time once a week with some people who live in our California apartment complex. It is nice to be able to walk to the library without worrying about snow.

6. We have moved twice now and our new house in a colonial town is three-fifths of a mile from the public library. My mom walks there with a baby carriage and two little girls holding hands. My dad is at work now while she stays home, though we know nobody in this whole town. We are each allowed to pick out one movie, and as many books as will fit in the tote-bag.

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I don’t need to wait for tomorrow.

Today is not going as planned.

I don’t know exactly what happened. The dark, rainy morning didn’t exactly get me off to the greatest start. I think I forgot to wash my face in the shower and the house is freezing but the heat won’t turn on. I feel like the energy has been sucked out of me, even though I ate my usual breakfast. My eyes began to hurt after only being on a computer for half an hour. I started to feel a tiny bit dizzy and tired.

I’ve read a lot of ~inspirational~ articles about the power of getting things done before 10 am (or 9 am or 8 am or 7 am). Recently, I have not been getting anything done before 10 am. I feel great if I have showered and eaten something before 10.

Often times, if I don’t get the day properly in gear after a couple hours of being up, I will write off the whole of the day as a failure. I will say, “Oh well, guess this day isn’t going to turn into anything productive or fun or good,” and resign myself to wasting the (many) remaining hours.  I know all those platitudes about tomorrow is a new day! If today wasn’t going well by noon, I would just wait for tomorrow.

What was I doing in those many hours once I had written off the remainder of the day? Rewatching very old Hannah Hart videos, playing endless Sporcle quizzes, annoying my brother, staring into space, procrastinating on setting the dinner table, lying on the couch while my mom watched TV,  literally just wasting time until I could go to bed and wake up the next day with a fresh slate. And there are a lot of hours after 10 am.

I don’t need to wait for tomorrow.

The ‘day’ is the most powerful unit of time. It dictates so much of our lives in a very physical way, much more so that a week or a month or a year. But I don’t need to view my life purely in terms of good days and bad days. I can have a bad morning and a great afternoon. Maybe even followed by a mediocre evening. I can have a sour 30 minutes and then return to having a stellar rest of the day. I can take time in the middle of the day to reset a little bit, tricking my body and mind into thinking that we have entered a new discrete unit of time. Then I can get up, and treat the remainder of the day as if the morning (or early afternoon) was so long ago, as if separated by a whole night. I don’t need to wait for tomorrow, I can have a new day right now.

Today my break was watching a short movie on Netflix that I had been meaning to watch for years. This was a perfect re-set activity; I got to lie down, not pay attention very much, eat some snacks, and even cross something off of a long-term bucket list. There was no auto-play of a next movie (this is why I didn’t pick an episode of Netflix or TV). Then I got up, cleared my dishes, and sat down and wrote this. Having now recharged and written 500 words, I have saved the rest of the day. I feel motivated to clean a little, walk the dog, accomplish other things online, and eat dinner with friends.

I don’t need to wait for tomorrow.

I can start again now.

Eating Alone

Though I long thought of myself as an extrovert, more recently I’ve been appreciating how much being with other people energizes me. I am not self-conscious going to the grocery store or park or concert alone, but being with another person makes even the most mundane errands more enjoyable. I also just finished college, where you have the constant option of being surrounded by people the moment you step out of your dorm room. Now that I am back in my parents’ suburban house, spending time with people other than my family requires a bit more effort and planning.

According to some parenting book my mom read in 1995, it is important for families to eat dinner together regularly. My mom really took this to heart. When I was little, my dad walked to work at an office park a half mile from our apartment. Though he worked late hours, he would come home for dinner before returning to work in the evening. When we moved across the country this was no longer possible, but every night everyone who was home ate dinner together, sitting down at the kitchen table. This sounds very Leave It to Beaver- esque as I write this, but it became our routine. It helped that my mom is a teacher and was able to be home in the afternoons and evenings, but routines easily perpetuate themselves.

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Sparks of Joy: Thinking About Belongings

Have you started watching Just Between Us yet?

Monday’s episode is about decluttering using the KonMari method (though they don’t mention it by name). The premise of this method of cleaning out your belongings is that you take out all your belongings (say, all the clothes in your closet), hold them individually to your chest, and if they do not bring you joy, throw them away.

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This method was created and popularized by Marie Kondo through her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which she has now expanded into the beginnings of an empire. Every Youtuber, mommy-blogger, lifestyle guru, and media personality has tried it.

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5 Kinds of Transfer Students

I am obsessed with learning the reasons why people transfer to a new college. Any transfer will tell you that everybody’s reasons are different, everyone’s educational journey is different. But I’ve been trying to find some patterns.

I transferred from a small liberal arts college to a small, more selective, liberal arts college. I went from going to school in the city next to where I grew up to a school in an odd suburb 90 minutes away. In the two years I spent at Wesleyan, my second school,  I met tons of other transfers and heard about why they transferred (or at least the prepared five second half-lie that they tell to people). From all the people I met, I noticed five distinct kinds of transfer students. Some of these types are specific to small liberal arts colleges, some are specific to Wesleyan, but I’m sure you’ve met these transfers are your school, too.

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Economics of the Internet: The Confessional Essay

I’ve been thinking about the economics of the Internet a lot lately, especially since I read Gaby Dunn’s essay about being Internet famous and broke and saw Femsplain temporarily close when they couldn’t pay their writers. The modern web is built around content – we all read and watch hours of it every day. I want to keep thinking about who is creating that content and who is making money off it.

I’m thinking in particular about the confessional essay. You see these essays everywhere, in women’s magazines, tabloids, and online media sites like Slate. The titles clearly state what the article is going to be about, click-bait without lying. I Had a Late Term Abortion. My Sister Was Murdered. My Husband Is Cheating and I Don’t Care. The essays are usually about something somewhat controversial and rely on the writer exposing a deeply personal part of their lives to an online audience. (More experienced, knowledgeable, and thoughtful online writers have already written a lot about this topic and their work really opened my eyes. For starters, check out Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke and Laura Bennett‘s articles. They talk about why these kinds of essays are so in-demand right now and the impact the publication of these essays have on their writers.)

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Thank You For Voting for Contestant 3: A Love Letter to American Idol

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I wish I could say that I was with American Idol from the beginning, but I really started watching Season 4. I was ten years old and watching real network TV for the first time, a big step up from my decade of PBS Kids. I watched every episode that season, from the first auditions to Carrie Underwood’s finale victory. The first album that I ever owned myself was from American Idol, an album of the top ten each singing a song they had performed on the show (I don’t think they even make those anymore, since individual songs are more easily released on iTunes). The finale aired the week before my eleventh birthday and that album was the present I was most excited about.

In early middle school our bus driver listened to morning radio talk shows on the way to school and on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings we all listened to the American Idol predictions and recaps, yelling at each other to be quiet so we could hear the WXLO discussion over the sound of the bus motor. We compared how many times we were allowed to vote over the phone before our parents sent us to bed, whether we were allowed to stay up until ten o’clock to watch the entire finale. Was our hatred of Katharine McPhee was reason enough to let the mediocre Taylor Hicks win? Was Elliott Yamin going to have a career? I don’t even remember those kids’ names, but I do know what they were doing every Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 o’clock.

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