In Which I Regret Keeping Spiders in My Room

The apartment I live in is a great college apartment.  It’s cheap and close to campus, and that’s all I need. But it’s a bit old and surrounded by trees, so since I moved in I’ve had a bit of a bug problem.

First, it was slugs. There’s a door in my room that opens to a wooden deck, which, when I moved in in January of last year, was covered in leaves. Naturally, this leaf pile was home to lots of bugs. This was fine, except when it rained. When it rained, slugs would find their way to my not-so-greatly-sealed door, think, Oh! It’s not raining anymore! and proceed to crawl around on my carpet. I’m not about to squish any slugs, because ew, so more than one slug almost thirsted to death trapped under a mug until I could get my boyfriend to throw it outside. 

In the spring, I swept all the leaves off my deck and put a line of salt on the carpet right inside, and that solved the problem. 

But then it was beetles. That summer, it was very hot — one of the worst droughts came through the area than it has seen in years. Somehow, a colony of lightning bug-looking things found their way into our front door jamb, seeking the cool air. We had out landlord come spray, but that didn’t deter them. Usually they’d stay outside, but occasionally a few would have a meet up in the living room. It was the winter that finally got rid of them. 

After that, I didn’t see a whole lot of bugs for awhile. One or two small spiders made their way into the corners of my room, by the back door, but honestly, I don’t mind spiders. If they’re small, they generally stay on their webs and kill smaller bugs. It’s a mutually beneficial situation, so I tend to leave them. 

The real problem appeared about three weeks ago. One day, my boyfriend and I were getting ready to leave my apartment. I opened my closet door to get a jacket, and disturbed something near it. INTO MY CLOSET ran a 2.5 inch centipede (and I’m not exaggerating on size). I was horrified. We looked around for a while, but it had completely disappeared. 

Last night, I hadn’t forgotten about it, or my spiders, either. Over the weeks, a few more had joined ranks in the ceiling corners, and the original ones were getting bigger. As I was about to go to bed, I noticed a really huge spider on the  ceiling dangerously close to my bed. I finally decided it was time for them to go.

I prepared for my battle well. I’m only 5’1″, so I got my kitchen stool. I also grabbed a huge wad of toilet paper so I wouldn’t have to feel the spiders as I squished them. So I went for the big spider first. But even with my stool, I couldn’t reach him. I tried my desk chair next, which was iffy since it’s a swivel chair. I didn’t want him to fall on my head, so I put the chair as far away as I could and reached out and smacked. 

Success. I felt him squish into my nail, which was gag inducing, but he died. And he fell on my floor. So I thought, hey, my tissue paper is still clean. I’ll kill the rest with this. But even with the chair, I was too short for the rest. 

I had to resort to our straw broom. I swiflty stabbed each spider with the straws, then brushed their bodies onto the floor so I could collect them all and throw them away. (Y’all probably think I’m so gross for having all these spiders in my room. I am.) But once I got done killing all the spiders, I looked at my floor and realized the whole thing was kind of dirty. 

No problem, I thought. Neither of my roommates were home yet, so I’d just vacuum my room real quick. My floor would be clean and the spiders would be gone. So I went and got the vacuum, and turned it on. 

I vacuumed by my room door first. Then I went toward my desk. I picked up my backpack to get it off the floor, and as I returned to the vacuum, from under my desk RAN THE CENTIPEDE FROM THREE WEEKS AGO. 

I screamed a high pitched shit! and decided to chase it with the vacuum, because what else could I do? 

I finally got it under the vacuum, and it didn’t come out. I paused, and looked in the dust reservoir, which is clear plastic. I thought it might be crawling around in there, and I wanted to be sure. But I didn’t see it. 

I wanted to look around, so I propped up the vacuum handle. And from underneath the rollers, out popped the centipede — minus all its legs. And that is how I killed the centipede. Safe to say, from now on, I will not be keeping bugs of any kind. 

A Non-Tech Person’s Case for Android

I’ve owned a total of 2 smartphones in my life. One was my iPhone 5, which my parents gave me for my high school graduation. The other is the Google Pixel I’m currently using to type this blog post, which I received only a little over 24 hours ago — again, from my parents for graduation.

Lord knows I could not have afforded to replace my iPhone, so I’m doubly thankful that my parents did. After having my iPhone for 4 years, it had gotten persnickety. It was on an exponential decline. It glitched all the time. Apps took forever to open, if they opened at all. Neither camera focused anymore. The screen was coming off. And on the last few phone calls I got, it thought headphones were plugged in when they weren’t, so I couldn’t hear a thing.

But that’s to be expected from an old phone. My real bone to pick with Apple is more than that. The longer I had the phone, the more I learned I was an Android person. (Having an Android guy as a boyfriend helped, too.) I found I didn’t like Apple’s exclusivity with charger types. I was annoyed with the storage options. And as I used other people’s Androids, I felt my phone was so cluttered with all the apps on the screen.

So my boyfriend helped me shop around, and I ended up with the Pixel, which so far I love. Even though I’ve only had it a day or two, here’s why I already much prefer it over iOS.

  • Customization. This is the age old argument for Android, but it’s true. With an iPhone, you don’t have a lot of control over where apps go. If you want some hidden, you have to put them on another screen. On Android, I can have only my most used, quick access apps on my front page.  I have a weather widget displaying the temperature. I could add my WordPress stats if I wanted. And apps I don’t use as often I don’t have to put anywhere, and Android will hide them for me. But when I do need them, all I have to do is swipe up.
  • Voice commands. This may not be true for all Android devices, but the voice controlled assistant for the Pixel is incredible. She understands everything I’m saying, and gives me relevant solutions. Siri did not do that for me at all.
  • Charging accessories. Apple has always annoyed me. Why is it so special that iPhones must have their own charger type? Android devices use either micro USB or USB type C, which are both universal cables – ie, you can also use it for your tablet, or your camera, or your mom’s dumb phone. (The type C cord is just starting to become the standard, so it does only work with newer devices. But regardless, it will be becoming the industry standard for tech – something the lightning charger can never boast.)

That about hits my limit on tech knowledge, so I’ll let actual tech nerds take it over from here. But the truth stands: I’m a converted Android person now, and I couldn’t be happier.

How to Survive an Interview (or Audition)

I’ve worked random part-time jobs since I was about 16.  While not every singe job I’ve had required an interview, and while a lot of those interviews were more formalities, I’ve been through a few.  In high school, I also did a lot of flute auditions, which kind of count as a musical interview — the judges are assessing your skills and qualifications, just like they do in interviews, and the nervousness beforehand feels about the same.  So although I’m not an expert, here are some of the things I do to 1) survive and 2) do my best in interviews.

  1. Tips from my flute teacher: eat well beforehand.  This sounds like the opposite of what you’d want to do — nervousness makes some people nauseous, so why would we want to eat?  For auditions, my teacher told me that eating tricks your brain into thinking it’s not in “danger.”  If your stomach is full, your brain says, you must be in a non-threatening environment, because no living thing eats when they are in danger.  Choosing what you eat helps, too — turkey and bananas both have tryptophan, which just makes us fall asleep after Thanksgiving, but calms our bodies down before auditions and interviews.
  2. penguin
    If you visualize, you can avoid this

    Visualize yourself in the interview or audition.  This does work a bit better for auditions, because you usually know what you’ll be expected to play, but it can be modified for interviews as well.  Before auditions, when I was practicing, my flute teacher told me to close my eyes and imagine myself walking into the audition room.  I would visualize how I was going to stand, how much I would breathe, and then would imagine playing each and every scale.  Don’t just think about the audition, she said, imagine every single finger position and every movement that your body will be making.  It’s a way of being in the environment without actually being there, and it helps to alleviate fear of the unknown.  For interviews, you can imagine yourself going in and saying hi, and then sitting down and taking a deep breath before you answer a question.  You can imagine how you will explain your skills and experience, and then imagine giving a strong handshake before walking out.  It feels a little weird at first, but it really has helped me in the past.  If you’ve done something before, it’s not as scary, so this is a good way to practice for an interview or audition.

  3. Be prepared.  When I apply for a job, I try to always looks around the company’s website a bit to get a feel for the company, products, and culture.  If I get an interview request, I go back to the job listing and match responsibilities and skills to relevant experience on my resume.  I try to come up with specific anecdotes to illustrate those skills.  Then I go back to the company’s website for two reasons: 1) to re-familiarize myself with the company and the department I am interviewing for (if possible), and 2) to learn more about the company so I can come up with intelligent questions to ask during the interview.
  4. flawsAnswer questions genuinely and honestly.  We all know that when asked about our weaknesses, we’re supposed to say that we are perfectionists and pay too much attention to detail.  But unless that truly is your weakness, I think it’s cliche.  Interviewers would rather hear about the real you, so be honest.  When I’m asked that question, I typically answer that I avoid tasks I know I’m not good at.  I’ve noticed that about myself and jobs.  However, I do mention that since I know that about myself, I try to be intentional about learning and practicing in weak areas, and knowing when to ask for help.  Knowing your weaknesses and having a plan to correct them should impress employers.  And while some people have told me that it’s better to have a “strong” weakness — ie, one that can be spun into a strength — when I’ve gone that route, I’ve ended up sounding fake.  So for me, being honest is better, and if that is the thing that loses me a job, so be it.
  5. Waiter-pun
    A great interview — but did he get the job??

    Don’t get too excited after a good interview (but don’t beat yourself up, either).  Not to sound pessimistic, but I learned this from experience.  Back in the fall, I had an interview for a manager trainee position.  I went to the interview, and felt it went really well.  I had specific examples to back up my skills and qualifications, the interviewer was friendly, and the job sounded great.  I even had more than one intelligent questions to ask about the job.  I was sure I’d get chosen for the second interview, so I told a bunch of people about it and got really excited.  And guess what?  I didn’t get the second interview.  It was quite disappointing.  I don’t know why I didn’t pass that stage — it could’ve been that there were other, much more qualified candidates, or it could’ve been that my interview didn’t go as well as I thought.  Either way, I chose (for once!) to look on the bright side — doing that interview was excellent practice, and I learned a lot from it.  So while I didn’t get the job, it was definitely still worth the time.

  6. Know that you’re not going to nail every interview.  You’re just not.  Sometimes, you’re off your game, sometimes the interviewer is in a bad mood, and sometimes you’re just not a good fit for the job.  It’s okay.  Interviews are a part of life, and you’re not going to “win” all of them.
  7. Finally, no matter how the interview went, you should celebrate that it’s over.  Interviews and auditions are stressful.  If it went great, that’s awesome!  Congratulate yourself with an ice cream cone or something.  If it went terrible, that sucks, and a wine and movie night is definitely warranted.  Even if you don’t get the job, you got through the interview (or audition), and that in itself is something worth celebrating.

 

This Should Be Everyone’s Pet Peeve

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to get a pizza.  He drove, because I hate driving.  From his apartment, it takes about five minutes to get to the pizza place.  It’s a straight shot.  Turn out of the parking lot, drive, turn into the pizza lot.  The end.  It’s so easy.  And it should’ve been a happy drive, because I got pizza at the end.  But it wasn’t.  Do you know why?  Because in the five minutes that it took us to get to the pizza place and back, I saw five drivers staring at their phones instead of looking at the road.

Five drivers.  In five minutes.

Behavior like that infuriates me.  By this point, we have all heard the statistics.  In case you haven’t, here’s a rundown:

  • Texting while driving makes you 23x more likely to crash,
  • slows your brake reaction speed by 18%,
  • causes 1.6 million accidents a year,
  • and is the cause of 11 teen deaths every day.  Source

These are ridiculous numbers.  This stuff shouldn’t be happening.  It’s really not that hard to not use your phone while you’re driving.  And I know most of us have seen these statistics and messages at one point or another.  So why the crap are we still doing it?

  • I need everyone to see that I’m driving fast.  Live large!  A lot of people I know Snapchat while they drive so they can put up the miles per hour filter, as if we’re all going to be so impressed that you’re going 80 in the left lane.  Congratulations, friend, all you’ve done is give me road rage from my living room and also endangered everyone on the road around you, including yourself.
  • My fave song came on the radio and you have to listen to me sing along. #totalfan  Again, this is a common Snapchat thing.  Even if your viewers share your music taste, which they probably don’t, if they wanted to hear the song they’d just pull it up on Spotify, where they don’t have to listen to your (probably terrible) voiceover.  Not only is this dangerous, it’s dumb.
  • I’m texting a romance interest and I have to reply now because if I wait too long they’ll think I’m not interested!  No, they won’t.  They should think more highly of you for practicing safe driving.  And if they don’t, well, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
  • I’m a good driver; I can use my phone while driving and be fine.  I’m still paying attention to the road.  Maybe, but not enough attention.  Your brain is not wired to do two things at once.  Sorry.  See brake reaction time stat above.
  • I’m bored and I’m tired of just looking at the road.  Sucks.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to die anytime soon.  And I don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s death, either.  I think most people agree with me on that.  So I honestly don’t understand why people think this is still okay.  It’s not okay.  It’s stupid.  You can be the greatest person I’ve ever met, but if I catch you using your phone while you drive, my respect for you will plummet.  And while I know my opinion of you means nothing, the fact that you’re more likely to harm another person by texting while driving definitely should.

I’m really not trying to sound all self-righteous here (I know it sounds like I am).  (Okay, maybe I am a little.)  But really, in all honesty, I am just genuinely baffled by the fact that texting and driving is known to be one of the most dangerous things you can ever do, and yet people still do it.

Y’all, it’s not that hard to just wait.  I know it’s tempting.  I know think you’re a good enough driver.  I know there might be no one else on the road right now.  But please, for the love of God, just stop.

Big Decisions

I’m two months away from graduating from college.  (With two degrees.  I’m proud of myself, but also kind of wondering why the crap I did that to myself.  But it’s too late now, so.)  If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you know I’ve been looking for jobs and trying to plan for the real world, for my next steps.  And y’all — it’s kind of hard.

I know I am not the first person to grow up and leave home.  And honestly, I do feel very well-prepared (as prepared as I can be at this point, anyway).  I know I don’t know everything there is to being an adult, but I feel like I can handle what will come my way next.

The thing is, I don’t know what that is.

My degrees will be in Marketing and Spanish, so (obviously) I’d like to find a job where I can use one or both of those.  I’ve been applying to jobs and internships since last summer, and still have gotten nowhere.  I have a Plan A, and a Plan B, and a half-baked Plan C.  I have long-term goals I know I can achieve, and I know it’ll take some doing to get there.  I’d just really like to know which one I will be starting on in two months, you know?

I’m at the point in life where I’m starting to have to make big decisions.  I’ve made biggish decision before, like deciding where to go to college, what to major in, and whether or not to move off campus.  I’ve decided not to go grad school, even though I considered it.  I’ve decided what I want to pursue long-term.  Those are all big decisions.

But now, I’m starting to make decisions I can’t turn back from.  The boyfriend and I are starting to plan for engagement and marriage.  We’re planning which city to move to, and how much we want to save up for a down payment on a house, and which big expenses we’ll need to make in the next three to five years.  I’m making decisions that will completely rule out other options, which I’ve never really done before.

I’m not really nervous, per se.  I know a lot of people my age who are terrified of graduating, because they have no idea about the future.  But I do have an idea, and I am not afraid I won’t be able to make a living or anything like that.  I know I’ll be able to move out of my parents’ house, and I know I’ll be able to find some kind of employment, even if it’s not necessarily my first choice.  The thing with me is I know I’m about to be independent, and I’m really making my own decisions.  And I know that some of the decisions I make may not be what others want for me.

That shouldn’t be a big deal.  After all, it’s my life, right?  But like any child, I do want to please my parents, and I want them to be on board with all my decisions.  I know they are with my job plans.  But the boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together after graduation, mostly to save money.  And neither of our parents are thrilled with that idea.

I’m the oldest kid in my family.  It’s up to me to kind of draw lines.  The thing is, I’m not sure where to draw this one, and I don’t know if my parents are, either.  On one hand, we both know that it is my life, and I am going to make the decisions that I feel are best.  But on the other, I do want them on board.  Even if it’s reluctantly.  But the decision is pretty much already made — the boyfriend turned down the housing he was offered through his internship so that we could move in together, and neither of us can really afford our own apartment by ourselves.  So now we just have to hope our parents will go along with it.

It’s been weird this semester to see our lives start to fall into place.  We both knew that this would be happening, but it’s an odd feeling to actually be searching for apartments and making real plans.  It’s nice and exciting, as I knew it would be.  I wasn’t counting on feeling a little nervous, too.  But I’d be a robot if I wasn’t.  As nerve-wracking as it is, I can’t wait for these 1.75 months to fly by so I can dive into whatever happens next.

On Holidays

This past Tuesday was Valentine’s Day.  That night, my boyfriend and I sat in my apartment doing homework — we had already celebrated by cooking breakfast for dinner the Friday night before, when we had more time.  A few hours into Tuesday evening, my boyfriend’s mom texted him asking if he had gotten me chocolates or flowers for Valentine’s Day.  He felt a bit awkward telling her he hadn’t gotten me anything, even though that’s what we agreed.

That brought up a discussion about holidays.  He said he had thought about getting me some flowers, because he knows I like them.  But, he said, I hadn’t seemed like I wanted anything this year.  And he’s right — I didn’t.

We’ve been dating for a little over three years.  The very first Valentine’s we spent as a couple was about a month into our relationship.  He did get me flowers and chocolates then, and I loved it — it was the first time I had ever had a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day, and it was so fun to feel special and loved.  I dried a few petals from that bouquet, and they’re now in a frame on my bedroom wall.  But the reason those flowers were so special were not because they were for V-Day, necessarily; it was because it was a first for both of us.  It was a milestone.

Those are the things I’d rather celebrate, I told him that night.  V-Day is nice and all, but I’d rather celebrate an interview, or a job offer, or a milestone in our relationship than I would a holiday that people celebrate just because it happens every year.  Holidays can be nice, of course.  But to me, they feel a little obligatory.  Plus, practically speaking, it’s cheaper to celebrate things in the off-season — have you ever noticed how much flower prices go up during holidays?  It’s insane.  I would rather my boyfriend save the money, and if he wants to give me flowers, give them on a random Tuesday just because he’s thinking of me.  He wholeheartedly agreed.

There’s a lot to be said for holidays, of course — they remind us to slow down and appreciate the things we have, and there is often lots of historical significance behind them.  But we’ll save the fight for a table at Olive Garden for the (hopefully-soon) moments that we get job offers.

I will get my flower fix this spring, though — we decided that in a few weeks, when home improvement stores start stocking spring flowers, we’ll go get me some perennials to replace my begonias that died last year.  That’ll last a lot longer than a Valentine’s bouquet.

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my first flowers

How I Own My Shared Apartment

I honestly don’t know if you can tell from my blog, but I am not the biggest fan of being around people.  As you can see from these (actually quite accurate) results from a Facebook personality test, I’m not the friendliest person you will ever meet in real life.  I’m not warm, I’m not gregarious, and I’m only friendly when I make a conscious effort.

archivo_000

That said, it makes sense that having roommates is not my favorite thing.  I will admit that I have been blessed in the roommate department — I’ve had a total of 5 throughout the years, and none of them have been crazy partiers, or always had tons of people over, or were so absolutely loud that it woke me up at night.  I know roommates can be SO MUCH worse than that, and I’m really thankful to actually be friends with 2 of mine.  However, I’m the type of person that even if I have the greatest roommates ever, I still cannot wait until I make enough money to have an apartment that’s all my own.  I just really like having an entire apartment to myself.

Because of that, moving into an apartment was an adjustment.  When my freshman roommate and I moved into an on-campus apartment our sophomore year, I was excited.  It was the first time I had my own room, and it was great to have a kitchen.  But unlike my roommate, I wasn’t that excited about decorating or anything like that.  For one, decorating is expensive.  But mostly, I knew the apartment would be temporary, and I didn’t see the point in investing in it.  I put up a few photos in my bedroom, and that was all the decorating I did.

That first apartment was also the first time I had to take care of spaces other than my room.  At home, I shared a room with my sister growing up.  Our parents made us clean it every now and then, and we were required to clean our shared hall bathroom every week.  But those were always chores I hated, and didn’t want to do.  Moving into an apartment changed that.  Suddenly, the rooms were mine, and it reflected on me when they weren’t nice and clean.  It was me and my roommate who had to deal with messes, so we were more careful not to make them in the first place.

I moved out of the on-campus apartment halfway through junior year, because I finally realized how much more expensive it was compared to off-campus ones.  I moved in with two girls, one of whom I knew fairly well.  Moving in there was a bit of a different dynamic.  While my previous roommate and I had decided together to move out of the dorms, and had planned together which furniture each of us would get, when I moved again it was into an already-established apartment.  Of course, I did feel welcome, but I mostly stuck to my room because it was the only space that was all mine.  My roommates were much more gregarious than I (not hard to be, given the graph above), and had friends over to hang in the living room frequently.  That was fine, of course; it was their apartment as well, and their friends were nice.  But being the way I am, I didn’t hang out in the living room because there might be people I didn’t know coming in at any time.

Another thing about me: I am a bit of neat freak.  Since I’ve had a room of my own, I love it most when everything is clean and organized.  I work and relax best with a clean desk and clean floors, and love to see my laundry basket empty.  I also hate a messy kitchen.  I’m not above leaving dishes in the sink, but I am above not wiping down the counter after preparing food on it.  Also, cleaning is one of the things that makes me happy — honestly.  Dusting is the only cleaning chore I don’t like, and that’s because I don’t like having to move all the stuff that sits on surfaces.  But when I vacuum, or mop, or wipe counters, it makes me feel like I’m being productive and like I can accomplish anything.  (Also, cleaning is seriously a great workout.)

I used to get annoyed when my roommates didn’t clean.  It felt like they didn’t care about their spaces, and almost like they didn’t care how I felt when I came into the apartment to see a huge mess in the kitchen or hair all over the bathroom sink.  But I’ve gotten over that.  For one, I’ve realized that not everyone notices grossness.  Take my boyfriend, for example — it’s not that he doesn’t care than his bathroom is kind of yucky, it’s that he legitimately does not notice until I point it out.  (I’ve accepted that when we move in together, I’ll be the one cleaning.)  And for two, I’ve realized that cleaning makes me feel more at home.  I definitely feel simultaneously relaxed and energized in a clean apartment.  But more than that, cleaning an apartment allows me to claim it as my own.  I take responsibility for it, and in doing so claim it as my space that I’m proud to be in — and have others in.

I admit I am counting down the days to graduation, not only because I’m excited, but also because I’m ready to move into my own apartment.  But for now, I’m content to live where I do, and I’m thankful that I’ve figured out a way to make places my own wherever I am.

 

If You Don’t Like Sports, You Should Watch Basketball

My family is not a sports-watching family.  My dad has never cared about sports in his life — he’d rather read about WWII or go hiking or work on a broken engine.  My mom enjoys some sports, but that mild interest is usually overshadowed by something else — namely, the fact that no one will watch with her.  Neither of my siblings care much about team sports, either.  My sister prefers equestrian and rodeo-type events, and my brother has only recently shown an interest watching hockey (due to new friends, I think, more than anything).

Soccer is the only sport we’ve ever been into as a family.  My siblings and I all played soccer in elementary and middle school, and my dad even played in a pickup league for a few years (before he realized soccer wreaks havoc on your knees).  But I quit when it began to get competitive.  For me, that took the fun out of it, and I didn’t really have enough time anyway.  I chose flute lessons and band over soccer practices.  Once us kids all quit soccer, the family interest kind of died, too.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, is definitely into sports.  He played baseball starting when he was little, and basketball through middle school.  Plus, his dad is a devoted college football fan, and they both enjoy the occasional hockey game.  If it’s a team sport, it’s likely my boyfriend enjoys watching.

When I met him freshman year, we became inseparable quickly.  And that meant I went with him to all our college games.  Freshman year was the first time I had ever been to a real football game, and honestly, it wasn’t my favorite.  For one, it was cold, and for two, football is slow.  Have you ever measured the amount of time the players actually play during a football game?  It’s not a lot.  But I did enjoy the people-watching, and the atmosphere, and I’ll be honest — I mainly kept agreeing to go so I could watch the marching band.  That’s the stuff, right there.

He also dragged me to basketball games, and we drove to the state capital for NHL hockey when we could get cheap tickets.  He would explain the rules to me, and as I understood the games better, I began to appreciate them.  (Except baseball.  I don’t know if I’ll ever appreciate baseball.)  For awhile I thought hockey might be my favorite sport.  But then we both started working for our college sports network.

We covered our women’s soccer team in the fall, but it really got fun when basketball season started.  I knew I enjoyed basketball games the most anyway, and when we started working every single home game, I got truly invested.  I began to figure out which players were good at what, and really began to care about the team as more than entertainment.  I still don’t know all the rules, and am bad at watching for fouls.  But basketball is an easy sport to enjoy, especially if you think you don’t like sports.  Here’s why.

  1. It’s fast moving.  Unlike football, players are on the court more often than they are off.  You don’t get bored watching because there’s always something going on.
  2. It’s a high-scoring game.  This means no matter what team you’re watching, you’re going to see someone make a basket.  All you really need to know about basketball is that whoever makes the most baskets wins, and games can turn around quickly.  It’s unpredictable.
  3. The rules are fairly simple.  For players, there’s a lot of nuance.  But for casual viewers, it’s easy: when the opposing team has the ball, your team plays defense.  When your team has the ball, they play offense.  Fouls get called when players touch each other too much, and that’s when you get free throws.  That’s a ridiculously dumbed-down version, but that’s honestly all you need to be able to follow a game.
  4. You get to see cool moves.  Basketball courts are kind of small, as sports go, so players have to be quick on their feet in order to make baskets.  They have to be able to pass quickly and accurately, and may need to do a few nifty spin moves to get away from defenders.

The rules to football and baseball are a little more complicated, even when simplified, and hockey and soccer are so low-scoring that they sometimes can be boring to watch.  But basketball has all the right attractions.  And you don’t even have to sit out in the cold.

Photo source

 

On Coffee Culture

There are a lot of things I didn’t know about before I started college, and the importance of coffee was one of them.  I knew people drank coffee, and that for many it’s an addiction, but I had no idea just how many people are coffee enthusiasts.  I had no idea how culturally important it is.

I don’t claim to be any kind of coffee expert, although I wish I was.  I have, however, joined the enthusiast club.  Like I assume many do, I started off slow.  There is a Starbucks on my college campus, and freshman year my meal plan included a couple hundred dining dollars I could use at our few food joints that aren’t the cafeteria, including Starbucks.  I wouldn’t have gone in there if one of my friends wasn’t already addicted, but she was, so I did.  She introduced me to frappuccinos, then mochas as it got colder, then finally I graduated to plain coffee.  Especially iced coffee.  I like hot, but iced is the stuff.

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My growing mug collection

But I didn’t truly get addicted until I went to Costa Rica.  The coffee industry is big there, and thus almost everyone drinks it.  My host parents each drank a cup every morning, and since I ate breakfast with them, I did too.  When I got back home, I dug out my parents’ old coffee pot and continued making some every morning.

When I climbed aboard the coffee bandwagon, I didn’t just gain a new favorite drink.  I joined a community.  Coffee shops are often the hub of a neighborhood — they’re one of the best places to meet up with friends, study, work, or just take a break.  And they’re versatile.  I’ve never been in two alike coffee shops (even chains develop local quirks over time).  Each shop is reflective of the community it’s in.  Going to coffee shops is one of the best ways to get to know a new city.

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ft. the mug from my local coffee shop

Plus, coffee is versatile.  While there are those that look down their noses at anyone who doesn’t drink their coffee black, there are literally millions of ways to enjoy it.  There are the universal drinks — lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, to name a few — and there are new creations every day from professional baristas.  There’s almost no limit to what you can add to coffee.

It can be hard to order.  Most coffee shops assume its customers know a little bit about coffee, so they don’t explicitly display what you can add to your coffee if you want.  If you don’t drink coffee regularly, it can be intimidating to know what to ask for.  But the beauty there is that baristas are experts, and are usually happy to give you a recommendation.

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meow mug ft. surprise cat

And speaking of beauty, coffee is one of the most photogenic things I have ever laid eyes on.  To be honest, one of the (great many) reasons I love the blogging community is because we’re pretty much all addicted to coffee, and we love to take pictures of it.  Every time I see a photo of a blanket, a laptop, and a mug of coffee, it just makes me happy.  It may be cliche, but there’s a reason.  Words and coffee just go together.

Coffee takes a biggish chunk out of my budget.  I’m trying to cut back on buying it from shops, but I also like to support my local one.  Like everything, it’s a balance.  But even though my wallet might, I don’t regret taking up the habit.  In addition to being able to enjoy one of the most delicious beverages on the planet, I can now truly enjoy the coffee community and all it has to offer.

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ft. crochet cat

 

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souvenirs from New Mexico

All photos taken by the wonderful boyfriend, whose Flickr (with other amazing photos) can be found here

 

 

On Trump’s Inauguration Speech + A Discussion on News From Twitter

So, I watched the inauguration.  I didn’t really want to, but it’s history, as my mother told me, and mother knows best.

Just so we’ll be clear, I don’t like Trump.  Also, I don’t pretend to be any kind of political expert.  Because I’m mostly tired of hearing and speaking about Trump, but now we really have to, here are my reactions to his speech in bullet form:

  • His speech was all about America.  Obviously, as President of the US, it should be.  But, he also implied that the US is the most important country in the world.  While there is no denying that it is highly important as a global power, I feel that he completely dismissed the importance of literally all other countries, and by extension, the people who inhabit them.
  • He seems to think that helping or even being involved with other countries equals harming the US.  I completely disagree.  From an economic perspective, helping other countries develop and therefore become richer benefits the US because it means they have the power to buy and sell from and to us, which over time increases our own GDP.  I realize that the US as a whole, in trying to “help” other countries, hasn’t always been the most helpful.  However, I think it is prudent to maintain an attitude of mutual benefit.  No man is an island, and countries (metaphorically speaking) aren’t, either.
  • He mentioned that he was going to eradicate Islamic terrorism.  While not a bad sentiment, I think this wording showed his skewed worldview.  The terrorist groups that claim Islam are not recognized as truly Islamic by the vast majority of Muslims.  I’m all for ending terrorism, but I’m definitely against perpetuating xenophobia.
  • His speech really was more of a campaign speech than an inaugural address.  I watched NBC’s live stream of the ceremony, and the reporters noted that some of the paragraphs were verbatim from campaign speeches.  I’m not sure if that means he is too inexperienced/doesn’t care enough to prepare a real inaugural address, or if he is so insecure in his support that he still feels he must garner it.
  • The NBC reporters also noted that he kind of insulted all the former presidents with him on the podium as well as the Republican senators.  I agree, because he implied that the government has completely failed in most respects.  I’m not saying it did or didn’t, but the way he put his views was quite tactless.  Although let’s be honest — he’s not known for tact.

That’s all the thoughts I have on that.  Stay tuned till Thursday for a much more enjoyable discussion on coffee culture.  Or read on if you feel like talking about Twitter and news.


So, Twitter.

It took me awhile to get into Twitter.  I don’t use it the same way I use Instagram or Facebook.  While those are ways to keep up with people I actually know, I use Twitter to get my news.  I don’t have cable, so I don’t watch televised news much, and I barely have enough time to read the books I need to for school, let alone various news sites.  So Twitter it is.

Here’s a breakdown of what I follow:

  • Business/entrepreneurship journals
  • Local TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers from my hometown and college town
  • Local police and emergency services accounts
  • Major US newspapers — Wall Street Journal, NY Times, etc.
  • Various BBC accounts
  • Celebrities
  • Bloggers

As far as news goes, I normally scroll through and read tweets and headlines, and I’ll read the articles I think are most important or that have to do with my hometown.  If several separate sources are writing about the same thing, I try to pay attention.  I’m also guilty of scrolling past stuff I don’t want to see, because let’s be honest — news is usually depressing.  I also try to pick and choose somewhat strategically what articles I click on, because most newspapers will only let non-subscribers view so many articles a month.  I try to save those free ones for important stuff.

Yesterday, someone mentioned something along the lines of, “That’s the danger of getting your news from Twitter.”  I don’t remember why they said it (I should probably pay more attention).  But it made me wonder why some people feel that way, because I think Twitter is a pretty good place to get news.

First, for my part, I follow well-known, established news sources.  I know journalists can never be completely objective, but to work for such established organizations means to follow ethical and objective journalistic standards to the best of your ability.  I tend to believe the best of the general population, and don’t think that a professional journalist would willingly jeopardize their career by reporting nonsense.  Readers do need to read critically, of course, but it is in everyone’s best interest for journalists to report objectively.

Second, I don’t just scroll through headlines.  When I see something important, I read the article to get the available details.  If I have time, I’ll read about the same event from another source.  I don’t do this all the time, of course, but I know that getting information from more than one source is preferable.

Finally, even if Twitter is not the best source of news, I would still rather stay updated through Twitter than not make an attempt to stay updated at all.  I try to be a good citizen (4H drilled that into me) and staying informed is one of the best ways to do that.  Until I make enough money to have cable and newspaper and magazine subscriptions, I’m going to keep using Twitter.

How do you get your news?  What’s your opinion on Twitter as a news source?