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. 

Finishing Well

It’s been somewhat of a pattern in my life to tire of projects before they’re finished.  This was first evidenced by the mountain of unfinished stories I have in notebooks under my childhood bed.  I would get a great idea, start writing, and then run out of ideas and peter off, until my next great idea.  This bell curve of interest bleeds over into other areas of my life, too.  When I’m at the beginning or middle of a project, I’m ready to do hard work.  I know what it will take to get to the end, and I’m prepared for that.  I am able to focus on work and get things done.  But when I get close to end, I start to get antsy.  I just want the thing to be over already.  I start rushing, or even half-assing work, sometimes at the expense of quality.  I get so close to being done that I lose interest.  I do this with papers, group projects, and even job interviews.

I attribute this tendency to my impatience.  I don’t know why I’m an impatient person.  I think part of it is that I like to be productive.  When I’m in the middle of a project, I can see things taking shape.  I can spend a few hours working and have something to show for it.  The bulk of the work is done in the middle of projects, and I like that.  I like seeing the results of my actions.  I even like editing — the big editing that comes after the word-vomit stage.  But when projects start to come to an end, a lot of the work to be done is just tweaking, perfecting.  And I know this is important, sometimes more important than the production of the project.  But to me, it feels less productive than sheer content creation because there is less to show when I’m done.  The words or results are already there; I’m just changing them to look or sound better.  It feels like busy work.

My mom noticed this about me early on.  At the end of a school year, or at the final level of a competition, I would lose interest in my work and start complaining about how I just wanted to be done.  And she would remind me to finish well.  “I know you’re tired of this,” she’d acknowledge, “but you need to finish well.  You’re almost done, and you need to keep doing your best until the end.”

Those words came to mind this week as I was going from class to class.  At this point in my life, I’ve been in school for 17 years.  I enjoy learning, but I am so tired of sitting in class.  I cannot describe how pointless it feels at this stage.  I am now what most people would call an adult, and I’m ready to live the adult life.  I’m ready to officially have my own home that is not a college apartment.  I’m ready to spend my days working for pay (and learning on the job!) rather than paying to learn.  I’m ready to be financially independent; I’m ready to make decisions; I’m ready to contribute to society in a way I haven’t been able to yet.

But like it or not, I still have 5 weeks till graduation.  I know it’ll go by fast, but it’s felt slow.  I still have two group projects and a capstone paper to finish, not to mention finals in my other two classes.  I still have meetings to go to.  I still have events to work.  As ready as I am to just be done, it’s not going to go any faster because I’m sitting here wishing it will.

That’s why I’m going to try to take “finish well” as my motto for the rest of the semester.  If I can remember that, I’ll be able to enjoy these last 5 weeks instead of wishing them away.

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.

Spring Goals Update: March 2017

It’s the beginning of March, so it’s time for a goals update!

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates.  As far as roommates go, this is going fine.  We don’t talk much, but we get the important things done.  Family and boyfriends are a different matter — my boyfriend and I are quickly realizing that life happens all at once.  He got an internship, so we are planning to move cities and get an apartment together.  Neither of our parents like that very much, especially my mom.  It’s been difficult to figure out how to maintain respect while still defending my own decisions.  I’m guessing there will be some conversations this week, since it’s spring break and I’m home.  As for the boyfriend, I’m usually okay at telling him how I feel, except when I start to get overwhelmed and have to deal with PMS hormones at the same time and end up getting really mad over little things that others do and it’s all because I do feel ready to be an adult, but at the same time I don’t…this is all hypothetically speaking, of course.  I haven’t yelled at anyone, at least, and when I get upset he knows exactly what to do.  I don’t know how he stays so calm when I am so not, but he does.  And he even makes me dinner.  I’m really glad I am writing this update now, though, because it’s reminding me to take a deep breath and communicate rather than holding stuff in.
  2. Get physically stronger.  With all the studying I’m having to do this semester, it’s a struggle just to get enough body movement in so that I don’t feel like a blob.  I think this goal is going to have to be scrapped in favor of just move your body sometimes!
  3. Find ways to support causes I believe in.  This has also fallen by the wayside in favor of reading for my capstone and studying for exams.  I will keep it on here, however, because I know that this can be done anytime, and it’s good to be reminded so that I can be on the lookout for opportunities.  I suppose working as a COB Ambassador could be considered a way to do this somewhat, since I believe the COB here does an incredible job of supporting its students.
  4. Read more non-white authors.  Capstone project — check.  Once I graduate, I’ve got a lot of books on TBR that I put on there especially for this, so I’ll be trying to find them then.
  5. Food: continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15 a month on coffee.  Cooking has slacked off a bit lately, but that’s also because spring break is about to be here and I’m trying to avoid buying groceries until I get back.  As for coffee, I’ve still stuck to my goal!  Go me!

Education/Career Goals

  1. COB Ambassadors: Try to help project manage an event.  I keep having opportunities to project manage, and I keep not speaking up to claim them.  We only have four meetings left, and I’m afraid I may have missed all my chances. So here’s my goal for the next two months: if another opportunity comes up, I WILL SPEAK UP.  I don’t care what, where, or when the event is, I will put my name in to project manage an event.  I will not keep quiet for fear of people thinking, her? She can’t project manage an event.  And if I don’t get another chance to, I will learn from these horrible missed opportunities and say yes to the next one that comes my way, even if it scares me.
  2. Apply to ~5 jobs a month.  I have completely redone my resume, and have been applying to internships and jobs like crazy.  I’m guessing if I hear back about any of them, it won’t be until the end of March or beginning of April.  It’s a little frustrating, because my boyfriend and I can’t really plan very well until I know how much I’m going to be making.  But I know this is how job searches go, and I’m trying to be patient.

So, I’m doing okay on some, and not so great on others.  I wish I could be doing a bit better, but no one can be perfect all the time.  I’m hoping I’ll have more positive things to say in April.

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.

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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.

 

Why Do We Hate Discussing Controversial Issues?

I know very few people that enjoy discussing politics and controversial social issues.  Most people, including me, tend to shy away from these topics and stick to lighter, more enjoyable, less divisive conversations.  In my experience, the people who actively bring up politics and divisive issues are the ones who have strong opinions backed by very little research (not always, but usually).

I have one friend I typically discuss social issues with.  She’s a sociology major, so she often talks about current events in her classes, and we generally have similar opinions.  Even if we disagree, we know how to do it respectfully, and we both admit when we have and haven’t done research on a topic.  Last time we met for coffee, we intended to stay away from politics, but ended up discussing them and other controversial issues almost the entire time we were together.  It was intellectually refreshing.  And then we wondered why people don’t do this more often.

Of course, there is the obvious reason.  Politics and social issues are divisive.  I’ve mentioned before that talking about politics means talking about everyone’s baggage as well.  It’s uncomfortable and annoying, and sometimes not worth the arguments that will inevitably ensue.

But why do these things hold so much passion for us?  One reason is that our political beliefs are closely related to how we view ourselves — our self-identity.  I read an article the other day about what parts of our brains light up when we discuss politics.  I couldn’t find the original article, but I did find this (older) one that got similar results to the one I read.  In the study, scientists monitored subjects’ brains while they evaluated “information that threatened their preferred candidate” just before the 2004 presidential election (I told you it was an old article).  Here’s what they found:

“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”  [emphasis mine]

Discussing politics isn’t the same as discussing what color to paint the walls.  Attacking someone’s political beliefs is more like insulting their kid.  The parent isn’t going to think rationally about that (at least at first); they’re going to be angry.  How dare someone say that about their kid, who they have a strong emotional connection with?  How can they believe x, when clearly y is true?  It’s hard to separate reason from that innate emotional response, and it’s much the same for politics.

I think another reason it’s hard to discuss these things is because it requires true self-examination.  It’s hard work.  First, we must inform ourselves about what’s really going on.  Then, we have to compare our moral values against what’s happening in the world, and then we have to pick a stance, and then we have to defend it.  It’s difficult.  It’s time-consuming.  In my experience, I’ve never just known what my opinion is on a hot button issue.  I have to research.  I have to discuss.  I have to mull it over.  And then I sometimes end up changing my mind.  It’s introspective, and introspection is hard, because it requires us to really know ourselves.  And sometimes, we don’t like what we find.

Other times, we think we do know ourselves.  We have opinions and we stick to them. But we still avoid discussing hot topics because what if someone has a better argument?  What then?  If my views are disproved, am I really who I think I am?  Good counter-arguments can dismantle us, and our sense of self-identity, completely.

But as uncomfortable as it is, these things can’t be avoided.  If we avoid learning and trying to form opinions, we will get used, or ignored.  We’ll be seen as ignorant or outdated.  Our usefulness to society declines.  My friend brought up this specific situation: over the past two summers, she has worked at a children’s Christian sleep-away camp.  It’s similar to the quintessential camp experience: horseback riding, rock wall climbing, and overnight camping trips.  But the staff faces big issues.  Last summer, they received  call from a mother wondering what the camp’s policy was for transgender children.

Transgenderism and gender dysmorphia is something that Christians typically avoid.  It’s incredibly difficult to understand, especially within the context of Christianity, and on top of that it has to do with sex, which is often a taboo topic in Christian circles.  But if the camp staff hadn’t discussed it, they would have come across as willfully ignorant to that mom.  And they might have missed the chance to minister to a group of children that needs love the most.

Politics and issues like this aren’t fun.  We live in a messed-up world that often just looks bleak.  But the only way to affect it is to know what’s happening, and know how we feel about it, so that we can do something to enact change.  They say nothing good in life is easy, and in this, it’s more than true.

What I Realized About Christianity My Freshman Year of College

Over Christmas break, I met with one of the few friends from high school I still talk to.  It had been over a year since I’d seen her, we figured out, and it was nice to catch up.  While we sat drinking coffee, we started discussing how each of us had changed since high school.  As it turns out, neither of us are all that enamored with Christianity anymore.  As we talked, I put something into words that I didn’t quite realize had occurred until that moment.  I mentioned that one of the reasons I grew disenchanted with Christianity was honestly because college was the first time I realized that non-Christians can be good people.  Imagine that, right?  I know it sounds stupid (because it is), but that’s honestly what I thought.  It wasn’t a conscious thing; it was just a very black and white worldview. 

 If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you might remember that I was homeschooled.  Homeschooling is becoming more prolific these days, but there are still stereotypes — homeschoolers are all prudish, strict Christians who don’t trust the government with their kids, and all their kids are naive and sheltered, and none of them know what birth control is — okay, so it’s not that bad (at all — I’ll give you the side-eye if you actually believe that about homeschoolers).  But I know it is easy to assume that we are more sheltered than kids who went to “real” school.

We can get into my thoughts on all that another time.  But for me, the accurate description is not that I was sheltered, but that I was ignorant and self-absorbed (more so than now, anyway).  Yes, the homeschooling community where I’m from is made up of a lot of Christians, but there were plenty of other religions and non-religious people in the mix as well, and there was never any hate against those who weren’t Christians.  The large Christian presence had more to do with the fact that I live in the Bible belt than that I associated with other homeschoolers.  Also, being a Christian does not mean adherence to one exact set of beliefs — some are more liberal and some are more conservative, like with any belief system.  But in high school, I was more worried about my appearance and fitting in than I was about finding nuance in my community.  It just wasn’t on my radar.

When I started college, I quickly met a core group of friends that I hung out with all the time, plus random acquaintances from classes.  Again, because I live in the South, a lot of people do claim Christianity as their religion, but I quickly realized that not all of them really practiced.  I joined the Baptist student ministry, where 90% of the students claim Christianity, and ended up not really liking a lot of them.  Then I would meet other people in different settings, decide I liked them, and then realize they did not claim Christianity in any way, shape, or form.  I also watched one of my friends from my core group kind of have her own falling out with religion, and didn’t appreciate her any less as a friend.  I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but it was sort of a wake-up call.

I had a few issues with Christianity before college even started, too.  In high school, I kept an on-again, off-again pattern of reading my Bible every day and keeping a prayer journal.  It was more of a discipline than an enjoyment, but that was okay because everything good in life takes work.  My main problem was that I never felt good enough.  I know that by traditional Christian belief, Jesus died for me, and nothing that I could ever do or fail to do could change that.  But still, there are a set of moral principles that Christians are expected to live by, and I’m not perfect.  I knew what I was supposed to do and not do, and I kept doing the wrong thing for one reason or the other.  I was probably too hard on myself.  But then I didn’t think I was hard enough.  This led to feelings of guilt whenever I thought about my spiritual life, and that added on to insecurities about acne and my desirability to males and all those other things that characterize high school was not good.  So when I started college with an already-fading desire to continue with Christianity, and then realized that there are a lot of types of people in the world, I kind of dropped it.

That I thought Christianity was the only “right,” “good” religion wasn’t an attempt to turn me against others. I assume I would have been the same way if I had grown up Jewish or Muslim or anything else. And I don’t regret or resent being raised the way I was at all — on the contrary, I respect my parents for instilling in me the set of morals that they thought would turn me into the best person I can be. Really, my regret is that I was actually naive enough to think that to be Christian equals everything good in the world, and everything else must be bad or wrong. I know now there’s much more nuance. I feel silly not to have known that then. 

Spring 2017 Goals

Well, it’s that time of year.  I started doing seasonal goals in the summer, and really have seen a difference in how deliberate I am about doing or not doing certain things.  So it definitely makes sense for me to continue that.  My dilemma now is that I don’t really like New Years’ Resolutions, per se, because I never keep them.  I think it’s better for me to create seasonal goals, and update them until I either achieve them or they become a habit.  So these are my goals for my final semester of college — January through May.

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates.  I really hate confrontation, and I want people to like me, so I tend to just shut up and tolerate it when someone does something that makes me uncomfortable.  While the roommates I had last year were really awesome, there were a few things that did bother me, and I bottled it up and let it get to me rather than just talking to my roommate about it.  This semester, I have two new roommates, and while I’m not going to be unreasonable, I am going to voice concerns if I have them, and I’m going to try to prevent problems rather than solve them.
  2. Get physically stronger.  When I was in high school, I had a routine I did almost every day, and I had great muscle tone and concentration.  College changed that — my schedule changed and I didn’t really have the room to do my routine in the dorm.  Now, I walk to campus every day, so I normally count that as exercise, since it’s at least movement.  But I need to be doing something more, and I definitely need to be in the habit of exercising once I graduate, because it’s likely I’ll be driving to a job — goodbye, built-in exercise.  Since I’m bad at exercising for the heck of it, and I’ve noticed how much weaker I’ve gotten since having to carry heavy cameras and tripods around all the time, getting stronger is my goal to reach for.
  3. Find ways to support causes I believe in.  Since I’ve been in college, I’ve really come to solidify what I believe in, and I’m to the point where I want to be more active than just talking about an issue or sharing a video on Facebook.  This might be a little tricky, because I can’t contribute to anything financially right now.  But I may be able to volunteer a little, or something like that — I just need to research.
  4. Read more non-white authors.  I mentioned a couple posts ago that I’ve noticed how few non-white authors I read, so I’ve been trying to add new authors to my TBR.  I’ve already marked a couple off my list (I highly recommend Diane Guerrero’s In the Country We Love), and plan to continue this.  I may not have a ton of time to devote to pleasure reading, though, so we’ll see how this goes.
  5. Food: Continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15/month on coffee purchases.  I do cook fairly regularly, but I also end up eating frozen microwave meals or fast food quite a bit too.  I actually kind of enjoy cooking, and I eat a lot healthier when I cook.  I just need a reminder to continue doing it.  Also, this is my continuing experiment on how much I really spend on coffee.  During cold months, I like brewing my own coffee at home, but I like cold coffee when it’s warm.  Lucky me got a French press for Christmas, so I’m planning on using it to make cold brew when it gets warm to cut down on iced coffee purchases.

Education/Career Goals

  1. COB Ambassadors:  Try to help project manage an event.  This is a continuation of one of my fall goals.  I don’t know if this will be possible, because I’m not sure how crazy the semester is going to be.  But I’ll keep my eyes open.
  2. Apply to ~5 jobs a month at least.  This is going to be an -ish goal.  Normally when I sit down to apply for jobs, I do 3 or 4 at a time and then don’t look again for awhile, because it takes a few weeks for new jobs to be posted.  Regardless, I don’t need to be neglecting this.  It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t, but I’d really like to have a job lined up before I graduate.  How’s that for a goal?

I may end up adding to this list as the semester really gets under way, but those are the main things I want to focus on in the coming months.  This is already quite a lot, so I don’t want to overload myself.

Finally, here’s a random life update: my aunt, who helps manage a new-ish church in Alabama, contacted me recently to be the church’s webmaster of sorts.  I’ll be updating the site and content every so often, and I’m really excited about that!

Alcohol, I Like You, But Let’s Just Be Friends

If you’ve been following my blog since at least August, you know I recently turned 21.  That means I’m at the age where I can legally drink.  While I’ve never been interested in going out and getting drunk, I do find alcohol fascinating.  Beer doesn’t sound good to me, but wine intrigues me.  I’ve tried about 5 different kinds since August, trying to find what I like.  (So far, moscato is my favorite, and I guess chardonnay would be second.)  Mixed drinks also fascinate me, but liquor is more expensive than wine, and I’m too intimidated to order one at a restaurant.  I will eventually.  Maybe when I look less like a fourteen-year-old.

But intimidation is not the only thing holding me back.  I know virtually nothing about drinking, because almost none of my family drinks.  My dad grew up in upstate New York, the first child of a pastor.  I’m pretty sure my grandparents have never drank — at least, I assume that’s part of the reason my dad has no interest in it.  The Bible say somewhere that getting drunk is a sin, so it’s just easiest to stay away from alcohol completely.  Plus, it is pricey, so I get that.  I do admire my dad for staying away from it, too, because he spent four years in the Marines, and if that’s not an alcohol-infused culture, I don’t know what is.

My mom’s side of the family is a little bit of a different story.  If my dad’s side is the white-picket-fence stereotype, my mom’s is the opposite.  I’ve had to piece together the details as I’ve gotten older, but I know alcohol was a big factor in my grandparents’ divorce.  I also know that the divorce and the events surrounding it deeply affected my mom and her three older sisters, and some of their life circumstances now are a direct result of turning to alcohol to cope.  My mom doesn’t drink because she’s seen the ugly effects of it.

Both my parents would rather me not drink at all.  Family history, plus religious beliefs, plus the fact that I’m pretty small makes them a little nervous.  And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tiny bit nervous at times, too.  There are just so many things that could go wrong.

But I’m responsible by nature.  I am (or try to be) all about balance.  So I’ve been careful.  I only buy a bottle of wine about once every 2.5 or 3 weeks, and I make my bottles last.  When I have a glass of wine, I just have one.  I make sure I’ve eaten something beforehand and that I won’t be driving till much later.  I even try to only drink when I’m already in a good mood, so I won’t be dependent on it as a pick-me-up.

I’m afraid that as a get more comfortable with alcohol, I will relax these standards.  I’m afraid I’ll be tempted to see how far I can go.  I have an irrational fear of throwing up, and this is the only time it comes in handy — I know I’ll never get drunk enough to vomit because I’m terrified of it.  But I hope that’s never all that stops me from having that second (or, God forbid, third or fourth) drink.  I’ve asked my boyfriend, who drinks even less than me, to keep me accountable.

And this is not all to say that I think you’re an idiot or irresponsible if you drink more than I do, or go out to get drunk.  That’s your decision.  All I know is that I need to be careful with alcohol, probably more than most people.  But I also know that even though I need o stay cautious, I’m really excited about exploring all the things humans do with alcohol.  It’s one of the only completely universal things, and every culture has its own special relationship with it.  I’m excited to learn.  But for now, I’ll just stick to researching the cheap grocery store wines that I pick up on a whim.