27 before 28

“Oh tie up your boat, take off your coat, and take a look around. Everything is alright now. Cause the sky has finally opened.”

If you know me at all, you know I’ve been obsessed with Kacey Musgraves’ latest album, Golden Hour, that came out this spring. I have a different favorite song every week, and I’m still getting something new out of some songs. When I first heard “Rainbow” and really processed it, I couldn’t listen to it without full-on crying. It reminds me of everyone I’ve known who has struggled with depression and for whatever reason struggle to see the beauty around them.


But then the other day I heard it while I was driving around and I felt like those words up there applied to me, too. I sobbed in my car when I thought about how happy I am now vs. how unhappy I was not too long ago. Over the past year and handful of months, I’ve felt washes of gratefulness for the way my life has gone. Whenever I look around and realize that I knew none of the people sitting at my happy hour table a year ago, or when I have a particularly good day at work, or when I’ve spent an entire weekend outside, or when a super eclectic group of people all show up for my birthday happy hour and get along beautifully. When I stop within these moments and think about how happy I am, it feels like the words in that song. It feels like I’m taking my coat off, and noticing just how calm everything is now that the storm is over.

That probably sounds dramatic, even to people who are aware of the terrible relationship I was in before I left, but I had no idea how much that was affecting me until now, when I’ve had the gift of time and space and perspective. I feel so much lighter now. The fog has lifted. I sleep so much better. The sky has finally opened.

Birthdays for me lately are another chance to reflect, so I’ve been even more existential these past couple of weeks as I think about all that 26 was and preparing to have an amazing 27th year.

26 was a year of “should I stay or should I go,” in so many aspects.

Should I stay at Columbia’s “mega” church, where I can participate as much or as little as I feel like, or should I dive into this new church plant, where everyone is needed to help serve? Do I like my job enough to stay? Or should I try something different? Do I want to buy this house? Or keep saving money and wait for something better? Is this relationship right?

These are the things I navigated this year, and at times I felt like I couldn’t go wrong with any option. It’s a great feeling. I know I’ve written this here before, but a year later it’s still true: I am so happy here in Columbia. I have never felt more myself or more like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. After a few years of anxiously bumbling around, I’ll take this. I’ll be grateful for this feeling every day.

The things I want to do before 28:

  1. Buy a house?
  2. Visit New York City
  3. Still haven’t eaten at CC’s City Broiler here in Columbia
  4. Go on a ski trip
  5. Paint something
  6. Write a poem or a song
  7. Make a friend
  8. Spend a significant amount of time on creative writing projects. See them through.
  9. Host a Friendsgiving
  10. Go backpacking
  11. Pay off my car
  12. Fill up a journal
  13. Apply for grad school?
  14. Give generously
  15. Use a personal day at work to do absolutely nothing by myself
  16. Re-do a piece of furniture
  17. Be a good bridesmaid
  18. Get rejected from a few things (it means you’re trying)
  19. See all the Oscar best-picture nominees
  20. Learn to cook something rated harder than “easy” in any cookbook
  21. Go on a week-long road trip, preferably to some places I’ve never been
  22. Fall in love, maybe.
  23. Go on a solo overnight trip
  24. Buy a bike, ride it a lot.
  25. Write some letters and send them.
  26. Volunteer
  27. Write some articles or essays and pitch to magazines/online media spaces

Questions I wish were socially acceptable to ask on a first date

The older I get, the more I notice two things about myself:

1. I really love getting to know people. I want to know all of what makes them different from me. How has the sum of their experiences thus far shaped who they are? What does that tell me about humans in general? What do I have to learn from them? Conversations about these deeper things GIVE ME LIFE maybe a little more than most. You’re probably a good friend of mine if we’ve crossed paths and you, too, like contemplating the weirdness of humanity. And,

2. More and more I feel the pressure of our time being such a precious commodity. Something about seeing my grandparents get older makes me want to just cut to the chase with every person I meet. It seems a tragedy to me when a coworker changes jobs and I only got to know them on a very surface level (I’ve always been sentimental, and I guess aging only exacerbates that.)

So that means the poor saps who go on dates with me (thanks bumble) are under a lot of pressure. If it takes too long for us to get to conversations that would lead to the below topics, I get bored and want to move on. I wish I could ask them all of the below the first time we meet, but I also need to understand that not everyone is as open of a book as I am. And that’s okay. I try to remember that personal conversations are earned, not just freely given away. So, with that wordy intro, here are the questions I wish I could ask first dates (and really, everyone I care about). These are likely only the tip of my question iceberg:

  • What do you think God, or life, or whatever is teaching you lately?
  • What’s one regret you have from this week? This month? This year?
  • What’s your favorite song and why?
  • Why is your best friend your best friend?
  • What’s your relationship with each of your parents like? Do you think that shapes much of who you are in your day-to-day?
  • What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? Has that vision changed much in the last 5?
  • What are you most looking forward to?
  • What did you learn from your last relationship?
  • What’s your favorite book?
  • What have you learned about marriage by watching your parents’ (or lack thereof)?
  • What area of your life do you need to give yourself a break on?
  • What area of your life do you need to be harder on yourself on?
  • Do you ever feel guilty about the number of kids you want, considering our generation’s obligation to a little more social responsibility than the previous one?
  • How do you know when you’re in love/what does love mean to you?
  • What do you wish that we as a society would just chill out about?
  • How would you describe yourself using five “I’m the kind of person who ____________” statements?
  • What do you, specifically you, need in a partner? (Can’t say cookie-cutter things like loyalty, honesty, etc. or the date is over.)
  • What’s your philosophy around personal finances?
  • What is saving your life right now?
  • Do you think people are mostly good?
  • How much of your happiness can money buy?
  • What are you most scared of?
  • What’s one thing you wish you could change about yourself?
  • What are some things you like about yourself?


BOOKS. I like them. I really hope you do, too. I ain’t really a “blanket statement” kinda gal, but here’s one for you: If everyone picked up a few more books throughout the year, I wholeheartedly believe the world would be a more empathetic, peaceful place. 

Even works of fiction can teach us about the human condition, place us in a person’s shoes that are so very different than ours, remind us of history, and teach us about topics we may never have breached otherwise. A few years after I started working, I remember feeling like I was literally getting dumber. It dawned on me that because I hadn’t been forced to read anything for school, I hadn’t read anything in forever. It probably also had to do with my ever-increasing phone addiction. Reading helps mitigate that in ways that are unmatched by consuming other media, even podcasts and long-form journalism.

I’m always hesitant when people ask me for book recommendations, because what people like varies greatly, so read the following reviews with this frame of reference: I am always looking for new authors who write beautiful, elegant prose. I really like historical fiction. Right now I’m gravitating toward books on spirituality and books written by people of color. Murder mysteries, fantasy, or dystopian stories don’t usually appeal to me unless they get at some larger, unique themes. And above all, I love a good coming-of-age story. Bring all of those to me.

Here are the books I’ve finished since April-ish:

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Although The Book Thief took me months to get through (it’s heartbreaking at times and has very, very short chapters, making it easy to put down), it was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. If you like creative, gorgeous prose that will stick with you, this one’s for you. It’s World War II through the eyes of a child. 5/5 stars.

“She was the book thief without the words.

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”


Trevor Noah, fairly new host of the Daily Show on Comedy Central, is someone I didn’t know much about before I bought his book on audible, but I’ve always loved his lilty South African accent, so when I read that he narrated Born A Crime, I thought – why not? I was hoping his book would talk a little more about his career and how he got started in comedy, but the book is exactly what it says it will be: Stories from a South African Childhood. It’s an incredible look into South African culture during and after apartheid. 3.5/5 stars.

“If you’re Native American and you pray to the wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.”


I bought Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine after Reese Witherspoon endorsed it via instagram. I am equally ashamed of this as I am sure that Reese Witherspoon can do no wrong so of course that was all the prior research this book needed. WOWOWOWOWOW this book was good. At first you hate the narrator, Eleanor. She seems self-righteous and rude and she’s clearly lonely. Something’s off about her, too. The more you learn about her story, the more you root for her. I don’t want to give too much away, but this book almost brought me to tears. No easy feat these days. 4.5/5 stars.

“There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock. The threads tighten slightly from Monday to Friday.


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Through several short stories, author Junot Diaz tells the story of Yunior, a serial cheater who immigrates to New Jersey from the Dominican as a boy. I devoured this book so quickly on the plane rides to and from Mexico City that I feel like the whole thing was a fever dream, and that’s a little bit how it reads. Each story of Yunior’s failed romances are so raw and quick and the subject matter – the complexities of love and relationships – is my absolute fave, so naturally I really liked this one. I’d do anything to be able to write as colloquially and as precise as Junot Diaz. He gets at the heart of the human condition in such a casual, pointed way. I’m not explaining it well, but just read it, ok? 4.5/5 stars

“That night you lay in bed, awake, and listened to the ambulances tear down our street. The heat of your face could have kept my room warm for days. I didn’t know how you stood the heat of yourself, of your breasts, of your face. I almost couldn’t touch you. Out of nowhere you said, I love you. For whatever it’s worth.”

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Written as a letter to the author’s son, this book confronts the topic of race in America as he perceives it stands today. This book made me feel uncomfortable in the most necessary way. It’s beautifully written. It should probably be required reading for high school seniors. It is brave and does not shy away from somewhat controversial assertions. I listened to it and should probably buy a paper edition, as I imagine it will end up being classified as classic literature. 4.5/5 stars.

“But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”

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Anne Lamott is basically my spirit animal. She’s funny, wise, and irreverent, but earnest where it counts. Is there a better combination? This is a quick read, and I could have highlighted a quote on every page. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said that “I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” That’s what Lamott is getting at here. When we say Help, it’s acknowledging that we can’t do whatever “it” is by ourselves, which is sort of freeing in a way. Thanks helps us see the bright side in every situation and circumstance. And Wow acknowledges the miracles of life, both big and small. I love Anne, and I love this book. 4/5 stars.

“You’ve heard it said that when all else fails, follow instructions. So we breathe, try to slow down and pay attention, try to love and help God’s other children, and – hardest of all, at least to me – learn to love our depressing, hilarious, mostly decent selves. We get thirsty people water, read to the very young and old, and listen to the sad. We pick up litter and try to leave the world a slightly better place for our stay here. Those are the basic instructions, to which I can add only: Amen.”

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This one’s for the girls. Jen Hatmaker is the friend every non-pearl clutching Christian woman wished they had. I mean, I wish she was my friend, that’s for sure. Women of all ages and classifications (single, married, young, old, Christian, not, etc.) will be encouraged by her stories of failure – none of us have it all together, but we all have the moxie in us to come out OK on the other side. She talks parenting, writing, sibling relationships, marriage, and Jesus. This one was fun to listen to and brought me to tears in the very first chapter. Give it a listen, ladies. 4/5 stars.

That’s all for now. Got any recs for me based on the stuff above? Come at me. Also let me know if you’ve read any of these so we can discuss and bond over our great taste in literature. (Insert nerdy glasses emoji here).

Summer by the numbers

When you live in a college town, and even if you don’t, summer ends multiple times, in multiple ways. In Columbia, it’s when the students start crowding my downtown lunch spots again, when classes officially start, when Labor Day weekend is over, when the temperatures drop, when football starts.

For me, summer was probably over for good when I went on that third and final float trip a couple weekends ago and took off my swimsuit for the last time until 2018 (although I suppose I should never say never – CAN I GET A HOT TUB?!).

I’ve had so much fun during the past few months that I’m tempted to drag it out a few more weeks until the official end – Sept. 22 (HA. That’s today. I’ve been working on this post off and on for weeks now), but let’s be real. All the above have happened. People are burning their tongues trying to get their first sips of Pumpkin Spice Latte. It was 50 degrees one morning this week. My beloved season is over.

But that’s really OK. Many of you already know that I truly lived it up this summer, in every sense. Even though it was 4+ years ago now, I still have visceral, fond memories of Columbia in the summer from our college days, and, remembering that fun, I ran around this town like a feral child for two months trying to make the most of it. I spent every second I could outside. I said yes to absolutely everything. I drank too many beers. I never slept in. I rarely watched TV or took the time to just be an adult and do things like cook and clean. Why clean your apartment when you can watch your 6th sunset at Cooper’s Landing?

This first (maybe of many) summer(s) back in Columbia is one I don’t want to ever forget, so without further ado, a recap of sorts, with my summer by the numbers:

3 float trips

To me, floating the river is the quintessential Missouri summer bucket list item. Not because you can’t float the river elsewhere, but because it’s truly a way of life here. If you’re from MO, you figure out when, not if, you’ll go floating each summer. Plus, they just do it better. Rafts are greater than canoes, are greater than individual inner tubes. Trust, folks. I’ve been around the river bend a time or two. On each of these trips I gained a new friend or became closer with people I had already met. One of them we took our sleeping bags out into a clearing and stared at the stars for a few hours. Cute, right? Another one was GIRLS ONLY, no boys allowed, and we didn’t just survive without boys packing our coolers, we thrived. I’m always thankful for the weekends spent outside, so these were some of the best I’ve had since I moved here.

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1 county fair attended

There’s nothing more wholesome than a few small towns coming together for their annual county fair, is there? Lincoln County’s is a big deal (the fair queens are kind of treated like actual royalty), so I drove my butt 1.5 hours out there for just a night. On my way back, I shed actual tears when I thought about how lucky I am to be here, and how happy and full the past few months have been. I was also a little sad that I didn’t make the decision to come back sooner. Hormones are real is the only explanation I have for those tears.

4 books read

In the spirit of absolute transparency, I feel like I should tell you I listened to two of them, one I devoured almost entirely on the plane rides to and from Mexico City, and the other one I had been working through for months. In short, not a lot of actual reading happened this summer, but that’s OK.

The Book Thief – 5/5 stars
This is How You Lose Her – 4 stars
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – 5 stars
Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime – 4 stars

Several of you ask what I’m reading and if I liked it and why, so in another post I’ll review them more thoroughly for you.

1 bike ride

As a faithful follower of this blog (hey mom), you’ll remember that one of my 26 things to do before I turn 27 was to ride a bike to a new town. Mission accomplished with this year’s True/False Boondawdle ride. I bought a child’s helmet from Target the day of and off we went, 17 miles down the Katy Trail to Rocheport. If you’re not familiar, the Boondawdle is a fundraising event for Columbia’s True/False Film Festival. Participants dawdle down the trail, stopping at fun T/F themed stations along the way. (Our favorite was the station where you could ask an “advice machine” any question you want, and a custom typewritten answer would be given to you with the answer on it.) Once you arrive at Les Bourgeois winery in Rocheport, you’re given a delicious meal, and are among the first to see one of the films that will be at the following year’s festival. It was worth every penny. Can’t wait for next year.


Side note: I do not recommend snap chatting while biking. I still have some mild scars to prove just how terrible of an idea that is.

2 new cities visited

First up was the Land of 1000 Lakes, or more specifically, Minneapolis. This was such a good weekend for me to reconnect with the OG high school peeps. The ones who know me best, the ones who relentlessly make fun of me. Minneapolis has sweet, midwestern people, a beautiful and clean downtown, the BEST restaurants, and a great outdoors scene. I like it there a lot. I probably wouldn’t like it in January, but that’s why I visited in July.

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Literally three weeks later, I visited Mexico City. This trip was somewhat spontaneous. I barely knew anything about the city the week before I got there. I’ve been so busy that I didn’t plan, I was just along for the ride. And can I say that while I’m a huge planner, sometimes having no expectations for a trip can make it that much better? I feel so lucky to have gone when I did because just this week the city was flattened by a major earthquake. As of this morning, more than 270 people are dead, many of whom were elementary-aged children trapped in their school. My heart is breaking for a city that I knew nothing about just a month ago. I can’t describe to you exactly why the people there just felt so warm. Mexicans are familial people, and we felt their hospitality at every turn. The care they put into their food presentation, their patience with my terrible Spanish, the smiles from strangers on the streets. I felt so safe in such a large city that I was like “I could live here.” And I think I could! To those of you who think I’m crazy, who think of Mexico as a run-down country, you’re wrong, like I was. Go see it for yourself.


Our air bnb flooded one night. But it was fine, it was all fine.

26 miles run

What’s that you say? Some people run this in mere hours? At one time? Good for them, I suppose, but to me that mostly sounds bad for you. My miles logged this summer were few and far between, but instead of beating myself up for being so inconsistent, I just relished the way each run made me feel at that very moment. This summer I ran for my sanity, not my vanity, for maybe the first time. When I started to feel excessively tired, anxious about things out of my control, and stressed, I knew 30-45 minutes on the trail would be the cure. Something about sweat pouring, breath tearing through my lungs makes me feel the most alive and helps keep stress and anxiety at bay. I get it, work out people. I really do.

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2 lake trips

Lake days are the best days, amirite? Make friends with someone who owns a boat. Bribe them to take it out. Your summer will be better for it. Also, dare to venture beyond the Lake of the Ozarks. THERE ARE OTHER LAKES IN THIS STATE. And they’re good ones, too. I promise.

1 job transition

It’s no secret that for various reasons, Mizzou is experiencing some tough times budget wise. Extension’s budget was cut along with everyone else’s, and some people lost their jobs. Luckily, I was not one of them. But in June, I was told that what I was hired to do (edit extension publications) would now be outsourced. My role has completely shifted and I’m doing things that frankly, I have no clue how to do. This is good for me, but it is not easy or fun a lot of the time. I feel stupid and feel like I’m asking stupid questions every day. While some people are perfectly comfortable with this, for me it’s mentally draining. I am looking forward to the time when I again am good at my job and comfortable in my role, but this week, this month, and maybe even this year are not those times.

0 houses bought

It’s not all gloom and doom, though! This is a good thing. I’ve kept my eye out on houses ever since I moved, and when I found out about all the chaos about Mizzou and my job (which I feel is never guaranteed), I just felt a wash of gratefulness that I hadn’t yet taken the plunge. If I had just dumped my life savings into a down payment on a house and then got laid off or was constantly worried I would want to find a new job soon, I’d be panicking. Insert cheesy line here about thanking God for unanswered prayers. It me.

1 total solar eclipse viewed

Y’all. There are no words for the experience that is being in the path of totality. I thought this whole thing was way overhyped, but it wasn’t. On the first day of classes, me and hundreds of my closest Mizzou friends gathered on the quad with our glasses and watched as the moon perfectly eclipsed the sun. Everything had a weird glow about it, the streetlights came on, the locusts started screaming like it was 7 p.m. It was real cool. I now understand why people become career totality chasers. Sometimes experiences that make us feel small are humbling and sobering — we’re so small and in control of so little, and likely still have only scratched the surface of all there is to know about the sophisticated design of our vast universe. But to me, it’s freeing. We’re just a speck of bones and blood on this earth for a blip of time. So let’s not take ourselves quite so seriously all the time, ok?

Please for the love of all that is holy do NOT listen to the audio on the below video.


As I reread this post, I feel like it’s not doing justice to all the life I managed to cram into this summer. All the little nights spent with girlfriends with wine on patios or time spent holding a new person’s hand, or walks at Rock Bridge State Park aren’t significant in themselves, but they’re the little nights that make a life, and mine has been good good good. At least four of you have responded to a snapchat with “I feel like you’re having SO much fun,” or “You seem so happy in Missouri,” or other variations of the same sentiment, and it’s mostly true.

Even with all the turmoil at work and with the University, I’m glad I’m here. It feels right and good, but maybe not as permanent as I’ve previously assumed on my very best summer days. The older I get the more accurate it feels to not assume anything, to not hold onto anything very tightly. I shouldn’t assume I’ll still want to call Columbia home in five years or maybe even two.

And while that mystery is sort of frightening – I think a lot of 20 somethings, myself included, want to feel settled – it’s also sort of fun, too. The future is uncertain, but the world is always our oyster. Life is strange and meant to be enjoyed, and I don’t think anyone doubts that I enjoyed my summer this year.

As we move into the next few months, some things I’m looking forward to:

  • A real temperature drop at a normal fall time
  • Football. Even though Mizzou is already making that rough on us.
  • Mizzou basketball
  • Slowing down. Cooking more.
  • Warm coffee
  • All the weddings
  • Crying over the leaves changing. Because that’s just the sort of weirdo I am. It’s just so pretty here and seasons come and go so quickly, and the transition is beautiful and EMOTIONAL, okay?
  • Visiting home

If you’re still somehow reading this – thanks for sticking with me. I hope to see your face at some point this fall. Really, I mean it.


26 things before 27

For the past couple of years I’ve used my birthday as a time of reflection on where I’ve been and where I’d like to go. There’s nothing concretely symbolic about birthdays, just like there’s nothing magical about choosing January 1 as the day that you’ll really start making an effort to get this whole life thing right. But obviously the older I get the more this phrase rings true: “The days are long, but the years are short,” and I don’t want to look back on my 20s and wish I would have slowed down to live a little.

So, for me, the New Year is for resolutions, but birthdays are for bucket lists. The 26 things I’d like to do before I turn 27:

  1. Travel to New York City
  2. Ride a bike to a different town
  3. Take a handful of yoga classes
  4. Learn to bake a pie
  5. Visit at least two new states
  6. Fill up a journal
  7. Paint something
  8. Write a poem or a song
  9. Take a solo overnight trip
  10. Read all the unread books I own
  11. Run a half marathon
  12. Travel outside the country
  13. Eat at CC’s City Broiler here in Columbia
  14. Find an organization I think does good work here in town and volunteer my time for them
  15. Send a lot more snail mail
  16. Learn to do a few easy car-maintenance things myself
  17. Shoot a fish with a bow
  18. Plan a trip with just one other person
  19. Keep some house plants alive
  20. Learn to cook a few traditional southern dishes
  21. Keep up with this here blog but also don’t worry about it too much
  22. Spend a whole night looking at the stars
  23. Cook a nice meal for some friends. Cocktails and all.
  24. Join a D-league sand volleyball team
  25. Go to several Mizzou football and basketball games
  26. Re-do a piece of furniture

25 lessons in my 25th year

  1. Clean as you go. While cooking, while living.
  2. Dallas is diverse, flawed, beautiful, resilient. It’s also not home.
  3. I like audiobooks.
  4. Sunscreen is always a good choice.
  5. How hard it is to move two states away when you’re full-fledged adult who has acquired some stuff.
  6. How easy it is to move two states away. Like all the sudden nothing about your life is the same as it was the week before and you aren’t sure how you even got here.
  7. I don’t need a DVR or cable to be happy. Not even close.
  8. The Bachelor franchise is crap. (Yes, unfortunately I did NOT learn this until the year of our Lord 2016.)
  9. Who Father John Misty is.
  10. Seriously, trust your gut.
  11. Staying engaged in politics is exhausting but worthwhile.
  12. If a fitness tracker motivates you to work out even half the time, it was worth it.
  13. I don’t have to apologize for liking crappy country music or instagramming my glass of wine to people who I would consider “edgy,” and I don’t have to pretend I’m not interested in weird movies and progressive politics for others. Life became so much more fun once I stopped trying to fit in either box.
  14. I like Indian food.
  15. Columbia is definitely still as great as I thought it was. Maybe even better.
  16. You’ll mostly get the jobs you’re passionate about.
  17. Working in higher-ed is a different beast than the corporate world.
  18. The fake succulents aren’t nearly as satisfactory, but at least they last.
  19. Books are always worth the money.
  20. Starbucks is almost never worth the money.
  21. A little self-care goes a long way.
  22. Alone time is a precious commodity to be grateful for while I still have plenty of it.
  23. Plane tickets are getting cheaper. Google flight alerts are handy.
  24. Changing your hair is actually really fun.
  25. I’m a completely different person than I was five years ago. I wonder who I’ll be at 30.

I guess I’m doing this…Bachelorette Recap, Episode 2

I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of recapping this season of the Bachelorette for lots of reasons. On one hand, it’s a pretty stale idea. Tons of bloggers who are funnier and more insightful than I will also be writing about the same two hours of television every week. Feel free to read them instead. Also, as an avid Bachelor franchise fan (I’ve watched every season except for Juan Pablo’s since Travis Stork in 2006), I am of the opinion that it’s gone downhill in recent years. It’s more predictable, edited more severely, and the Bachelor/ettes and contestants are spoon-fed the same trite lines year after year. It’s eye-roll inducing and way less fun than it used to be. Plus, it’s now full of (only hot) people trying to make a buck when it’s all over by shilling Sugar Bear Hair Care products on instagram. It’s all pretty gross, yet I can’t turn away.

I have a love/hate relationship with this show and have contemplated the freedom I might feel if I were to free up two hours of my week by just not watching it. Enter: Rachel Lindsay, the heroine this franchise needed. And so my guilty pleasure continues.

ABC seems to be mostly glossing over the fact that it has finally, FINALLY, picked a person of color (save for Juan Pablo) to be its main character, but this is a pretty big deal, and obviously way overdue. On Nick’s season, Rachel said that she hadn’t really seriously dated anyone who wasn’t black, which means that most likely the producers will pick more men of color for her to choose from than there has ever been. Everyone jokes that the white bachelorettes have to keep the black guys on for at least three episodes, so as not to seem like she has a preference, and then it’s back to all white people again, but presumably this season will be different. Maybe a person of color even makes it to the top 4, and our next bachelor will be black, too. I won’t go into a diatribe about representation here, but needless to say, I hope that’s what happens.

I happened to adore Rachel on Nick’s season. She seemed smart, genuine, kind, and she was really funny. While literally most conversations filmed for the show seem forced and awkward, Rachel and Nick were playful and silly. She kept him on his toes and was a joy to watch. I am SO HAPPY for her that my cynicism for this crappy yet addicting show has softened some. I hope she finds love, and according to several reports, she definitely has.

Half an hour in to the second episode of the season, and I’m already loving her as the Bachelorette. She is calling the guys out left and right, being her bubbly and outgoing self, and actually admitting that some of the conversations are sucking. She is a breath of fresh air from the more bland Emily Maynards and JoJo Fletchers of the franchise. So, I decided to write about it. Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

First group date

The first group date features Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who are fans of the show, and rank high on the list of America’s Favorite Couples. They plan a weird and humiliating obstacle course for the men to prove they are “husband material” involving baby Bjorns, baby dolls, and diaper changing, and I think to myself that watching grown men make absolute fools of themselves in the name of love (or really at all) never gets old.

Lucas — a.k.a. WABOOM guy — wins thanks to a hilarious stiff arm to the pro wrestler at the end (I really appreciated Lucas’s effort here, even if America is already tired of his antics). Rachel isn’t that happy about it. Girl can not contort her facial expressions into something neutral/fake happy to save her life, and I love her for it. My favorite part of this date is when Rachel flat out tells the cameras that she isn’t feeling any of her conversations with these guys. They are all about small talk, her career, etc., but she wants the lawyer talk off (she gets it, she practices law), and the romance on. Again, she can’t hide her boredom and gives one guy this face as he’s asking her about her future career plans:

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But then, a wild Dean appears. Dean is only 25, but the rest of these dudes need to take notes on the ways he makes Rachel laugh instantly. They’re cute. He’s perfectly vulnerable when he says he was terrified to meet her with the line: “I’m ready to go black, and I’m never going back.” She’s obviously into it, and he snags the group-date rose easily. He THEN seals it with a kiss. Good job, my smiley friend. You get to stay another week, and you kinda made me blush, too.

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Peter’s 1-on-1

Next, comes Peter’s 1-on-1, where Rachel grimly announces that it’s actually a 2-on-1. But the extra person is her dog, Copper, so Peter’s really the winner here. They fly (because you have to fly on the Bachelorette) to a dog amusement park or something, and Peter only seems mildly interested in the dogs, which, red flag. During dinner (a.k.a. let’s just costume change into the serious part of our date and sit at a very small table while definitely not eating), Rachel and Peter bond over the fact that they both have gaps in their front teeth. It is very cute and seems natural.

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That gap tho.

Rachel also loves the fact that they’ve both utilized a therapist to get through some past relationship struggles. It was pretty cool to see two beautiful people very casually de-stigmatize something a lot of people would be ashamed to go to right there on national television. You go, Peter and Rachel! Rachel is all smiles. She likes this one. A lot.

Group Date #2

Cue group date numero dos, where they keep showing DeMario in the interviews. Rachel also keeps talking about DeMario in her interviews, so any smart viewer of this show knows that whoever is about to be ousted as a player by a current girlfriend (as per multiple teasers throughout the night) knows that DeMario definitely will be said player. And so it goes. Ex-Girlfriend claims she and DeMario were going to work out their problems, then he literally disappeared off the face of the earth (ouch), and next thing she knows, she sees him on TV about to appear on Rachel’s season. Rachel asks very specific and direct questions to get to the bottom of this, none of which DeMario can really answer, so she sends him packing.

The guys then offer SO MANY shoulders for Rachel to cry on, though she honestly seems fine, but she appreciates their efforts anyway and is encouraged that they’re all here for —say it with me now—the right reasons. Josiah gets the group date rose. He managed to steal a kiss, but in my opinion, had Josiah not literally made Rachel kiss him, he might not have gotten any “KISS ME” signals from her.

At this point, I look at the progress bar on the bottom of my screen and realize that there is definitely not enough time left for a cocktail party and a rose ceremony. We’re getting a to-be continued. Just as Rachel is starting to leave the DeMario drama behind her, he shows up, begging to explain himself. The rest of the house is WAY too hopped up on their own testosterone, which apparently seems to multiply exponentially in settings such as the Bachelor mansion, and upon realizing that DeMario is outside, decide that they’re gonna fight him for hurting their girl Rachel. Typical meatheads, thinking this neanderthal display will in any way help them with winning over Rachel, but that’s why they got chosen to appear on TV.

Next week, we’ll get to watch it play out much less dramatically than ABC teased, because they are good at what they do.

Who is winning my heart this week:

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Dean, group date #1 rose winner

He actually said: “I don’t want to disrespect her by going in for a kiss too soon, but I really wanted to kiss her.” What planet is this 25-year-old from? Most guys as young and good looking as him would never even consider that kissing a girl too soon could be unwanted. I want to give his parents a hug. They did good. He is sweet and probably most importantly, genuinely funny, and I bet he’ll be around for a while.

Who I’m over:

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Blake, the one who vehemently hates Lucas (Waboom).

I’m tired of hearing him complain already. I want one of them gone (preferably both) so I don’t have to hear about it anymore.

Final thoughts:

I’m genuinely surprised that ABC didn’t make DeMario’s girlfriend wait a few weeks to reveal their relationship to Rachel. That would have made for better TV. At this point, Rachel didn’t know him well enough to really care. Would that be unethical? Yeah, but the producers on this show pull stunts like that all the time. Just watch Unreal, people.

Also, a few of these guys are straight up WEIRD during their 1-on-1 times with Rachel. One guy (too lazy to look up his name) demonstrated for Rachel with the baby doll they were given to take care of how to correctly WIPE a child’s dirty bottom, saying that most parents wipe too much??? WHAT?? Why is this a thing you feel the need to discuss when you have precious little time with this woman? Do you think she wants diaper butt to be the topic of conversation?

Later on, I guess in a desperate attempt for some physical contact, a different contestant literally challenges Rachel to a thumb war. Because we’re clearly on the elementary school playground here. I’m not amused, boys. Do better.

That’s all for now, folks. Hopefully this week I’ll like more than just two of Rachel’s guys.