Better Birthdays and Other Goals for Being 22

I have been 22 for 2 months now and time feels like an illusion. While we’ve all watched too many Youtube videos and read too many Refinery29 articles about what it means to be in my early 20s out of college, I’m still thinking about ways to improve my own early 20s life.  This year, I’m trying to be a better friend, be a little calmer, and spend time on things I care about. Here are 3 ways I’m working towards that.

1 . Be better about birthdays

I never really cared that much about my birthday, satisfied with eating a meal I liked at home with my family. My friend group for most of my life was not good about remembering, so it was always very low-key.

In high school, a group of friends that I knew went all out for birthdays. Instagram collages, carefully selected gifts, cupcakes at school, the whole shebang. I always really admired this, all the effort they took to make their friend feel special. Recenty,  I’ve been really touched by people who took the time out to text me on my birthday, rather than relying on that Facebook reminder. Waking up to those messages on my phone made me feel special and valued.

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5 Cheap Things to Do in Central Mass This Summer

Stuck in Central Mass for the summer with not a lot of cash? Don’t feel like you have to splurge on a commuter rail ticket to trek to Boston. There’s lots of ways to keep cool and have fun without breaking the bank or leaving the area.

1 . Worcester Art Museum

The Worcester Art Museum far outclasses the city in which it resides. They’ve also embarked on some efforts to make the museum more accessible to the general public. If you are a student at any college in Worcester, you can get in for free! Just present your school ID at the desk.  Do you not attend at Worcester consortium college but live in the area? You can reserve a pass to many local museums through your library. Reserve the pass online, pick it up at the library that day, and show the pass at the desk.  In addition, if you receive benefits through SNAP or WIC, present your card and you get in for just $2. Spend a couple hours enjoying air conditioning and art (there’s also free parking!). This summer in particular the WAM has a very strange exhibit featuring live cats that I highly encourage everyone to check out.

2. Out to Lunch

Last summer I worked at City Hall in Worcester and my favorite part of the week was the Thursday Out to Lunch concert series. Once a week the Worcester Common hosts an outdoor concert with a small farmer’s market, some local food trucks, and local craft vendors. You can get food from the Wooberry froyo truck, the Dogfather (they’ll make you a hot dog you can’t refuse), and the Loving Hut. In addition, the REC Mobile Farmer’s Market is always there with high quality produce, and if you pay with SNAP/WIC you get 50% off. The music varies throughout the summer, though my favorites are the 80’s cover bands and the salsa groups. These two hours on Thursdays are a nice way to see people flock to downtown and to have the Common filled with positive energy. 3. Regatta Point State Park

3. I started going to Regatta Point to take a sailing class a few summers ago and I fell in love with this little spot on Lake Quinsigamond. Park of the state park’s system,  there’s a small beach for swimming as well as a community sailing organization where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. There’s also a nice spot for fishing  by the Worcester Boathouse and from the beach you can watch sailboats and crew shells go up and down the lake. It gets pretty crowded on the weekends with people having barbecues, so I like to go in the late afternoon on weekdays (if you arrive after the guard leaves you don’t have to pay for parking). Bring a beach chair, put your feet in the water, and enjoy the breeze off the lake.

4. West Boylston Movie Theater

My house doesn’t have air conditioning so I’m always looking for some place nice and cool and cheap to spend a few hours. The discount movie theater in West Boylston shows second-run movies at a cheap price, so if you missed a film when it was in regular theaters this is your chance to see it on a big screen. The best deal is on Tuesdays, when all movies are just $4 all day. The popcorn is pretty cheap too, and there’s a Walmart in the same plaza if you want to buy snacks there as well. The theater is usually pretty empty, especially on a weekday matinee, so if you and your friends might get a whole theater to yourselves.

5. Purgatory Chasm

If you want to get out and explore a little bit, Purgatory Chasm in Sutton is a great option. The park is based around a deep chasm between granite walls, with cool rocks and tunnels throughout. It’s also easy to get to, just off of Rt. 146, and there are a variety of  hikes for different fitness levels. If you grew up in the area, you probably know some stoners from your high school who reached enlightenment on a Purgatory hike and then talked about it for months on end, though in the summer there will be more of a camp kid crowd. Regardless, this state park offers a chance to get outside, have a picnic, and climb around on some rocks.

 

 

 

How Do I Trust My Gut When My Gut is Untrustworthy?

I am thirteen years old and am pacing around an empty living room holding a cup of hot water in my shaking hands. We are on a family vacation and have rented a house for a week. I am jet-lagged and having a panic attack, though I do not know those words yet. The clock is turned around so I do not continue to panic about how late it is. I am convinced that I will never sleep again, that I will die in this drafty unfamiliar house, that my body will never be calm again. My mom sends me back to the room I am sharing with my sister, where I read a boring book with a flashlight and hold my body tense until it is exhausted enough to sleep. My body is screaming: take me home. After this, I do not travel further than my grandmother’s house for 6 years.

I am fifteen years old and feel nauseous. I have learned about anxiety and panic and the importance of soothing evening routines, but am not very good at identifying and implementing. It is a school day tomorrow and I quickly become convinced that I am going to throw up. My dad tells me to drink water out of a glass instead of a straw and reminds me that I have felt like this the past 100 nights. I haven’t thrown up then and I probably won’t now either. I keep a bucket next to my bed just in case and read old-fashioned comic books while trying to breathe deeply. What is my gut telling me? I should drop out, be homeschooled, go vegan, drink more water, go to sleep earlier, switch out of my AP classes? The message is lost in a muddle of exhaustion and dry mouth. Regardless, I have to go to school tomorrow.

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How Do We Fill the Silence

My parent’s house is creepy during the early evening. They are at some sort of social event and my siblings are out as well. My laptop is perched on the kitchen counter, playing the most recent season of 8 Out of 10 Cats as I bake cookies and clean up the kitchen.

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The hours pass by with YouTube videos playing in the background. Sometimes I am doing data entry for my research assistant job, sometimes I am scrolling through Tumblr, sometimes I am doing haphazard yoga, sometimes I am just lying on my bed trying not to contemplate the abyss.

It started with British panel shows – those cheap to make programs where a bunch of comedians play little games or talk about the news. Often times I wasn’t familiar with the news items they were talking about, which made it was very easy to tune out, though I often found myself scrolling back at the sound of laughter to hear what the joke was. I was constantly checking the list of episodes on Wikipedia to find uploads I hadn’t watched yet. From Would I Lie to You  and Have I Got News for You to my true favorite 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, the laughter and bad jokes of British comedians filled the empty spaces of long afternoons. Read More