Books

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.”

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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.”

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Some things I know to be true

In a few days, it will be two whole months since I kissed decent tacos and high-end shopping malls goodbye and traded them in for a whole new existence in Columbia, Mo. It’s been really good, mostly. But it wouldn’t be a proper major life change without some lessons learned along the way, right? Here’s an update on my life in the only way I seem to write these days, in a list, of things I know to be true since moving back to Missouri:

The road to homeownership is a complicated one.

Several of you know that I was so proud and excited to be buying a house or a condo when I moved up here. I have been saving for this! It’ll be a great investment! It’s my dream to own a home as a single woman and my chance is now here in the land of cheaper real estate! A few of you tried to tell me to hold my horses, but I soldiered on in naivety.

Some things I’ve learned:

  • Condos come with astronomical fees that don’t go into your equity.
  • What a USDA loan is
  • What PMI stands for and why it’s best to avoid it if possible
  • How many thousands I’ll save in interest if I wait until I can get into a 15-year mortgage vs. a 30-year one.
  • Houses in Columbia are cheap, but not that cheap.

If the house is in my price range, it’s either a total Fixer Upper (Do I look like I have the prowess of BOTH Chip and Jo Gaines?) or in a neighborhood where you’ll find heroin needles at the park. I could be house poor, sure, and buy something now, but buying a house just to prove to the internet that I DID IT is not a smart move. So I’m waiting.

It’s cool and fun and empowering to do stuff by yourself.

DD1721E2-B178-4C22-A1A5-5A58D5CB859AI mostly already knew this, but I get reminded every once in a while. In February I knew I wanted to see lots of documentaries at this year’s True/False fest, but I had a hard time coordinating with other people. So I saw a few films by myself. Some of the documentaries require a thorough emotional processing, which I found easier to do while scarfing down a gyro from International Cafe between movies, all by my lonesome. I talked to some strangers in lines, which was a common thing five years ago, but is now so rare to me that I found it ridiculously delightful. I saw the films I wanted to see with zero compromises. I cared less about bursting into tears while watching Dina when I didn’t know the people next to me. If you have the chance, I highly recommend Quest, Step, and Lindy Lou Juror Number 2.

Exercise endorphins are real. Duh.

When I first got to Columbia, I was working out pretty regularly. That all came to a screeching halt when I moved into the guest house (more on that in a minute). Subsequently, I started getting all moody and existential in ways that probably led to this blog post. When will I learn that regularly breaking a sweat is pertinent to my mental health? Here’s a pretty picture from one of my runs, which now feels like it was ages ago. Must get on the trail again soon.

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A lot of things do, but the quad never really gets old.

Moving is too expensive if what you’re actually wanting is a change of scenery. Because the novelty wears off quick. I’ve only been here a couple of months and I’m feeling it already. For instance, Shakespeare’s pizza is good, but it’s not great. Blasphemy, I know, but if you have permanent access to it, you realize just how greasy it is. That said, the quad on a nice day still physically makes my heart feel full. That’s as cheesy as it gets, but it’s just true. It’s a four minute walk from my cube, so on nice days I’ll take a break out there with all the undergrads.

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I draw the line at climbing up on the columns in my business casual, but some days it’s hard to stop myself.

Good friends matter. And I’m lucky enough to have several.

I like to tout a lot about how I’m this strong, independent woman, but the truth is, some really good people have gotten me through the past two months. Quite literally, several people have fed me, housed me, lifted heavy things for me, and helped me do really mundane things like hang stuff on my walls. They’ve asked me how I’m doing and really meant it. They take me fishing. They follow up on the problems I’ve mentioned to them in passing. They do the boring friend stuff, the over-the-top friend stuff and all the in-between. I’m not so strong and independent that I wish I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone, that’s for sure. If you’re a person I’m talking about: Thanks a million. I’m so glad I’m near all you people again.

I like to hang out with this guy.

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I know my grandpa sometimes wishes my brother and I could have grown up a little closer to him and my grandma in Springfield. Seeing your grandkids twice a year just isn’t always enough. But I’m closer now, and I’d like to make up for some lost time as well as I can. I have much to learn from him and about him, still. Like the more intricate rules of baseball, for instance.

The river and its surrounding areas at sunset are as good a reason as any to move here.

Before I moved, I couldn’t stop talking about how Columbia has so much more to do outdoors than Dallas does and how excited I was for that. I’ve been taking full advantage since I got here, and the fun is just beginning as it’s finally starting to get a little warmer. If you follow me on snapchat, be prepared for a full summer’s worth of sunsets, fishing videos, and other outdoor adventures.

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God, or the universe, or whatever, can redeem my recklessness.

As is to be expected, moving cities is emotional, and doesn’t really stop being so in two months’ time. For the first few weeks, I was as high as can be, walking around campus in awe that Mizzou and Columbia are big parts of my life again. But the novelty has worn off a little, and like I said, quickly, at that. Some days home feels really far away, because it kind of is. In my worst moments (that are very brief), doubt creeps in and takes over my thoughts like “Did you really pick up and move your whole life just because you felt like you needed a change and were overly emotional from some election results?” Some of you have also flat out asked me if I moved to get away from my ex. I did apply for this job before I needed to make a certain call to the police, but the timing was such that yes, probably some parts of me were glad to get as far from that situation as possible. Is that a little dramatic? Yes. Maybe even a little reckless.

But then things work out so perfectly that it really does all feel ~meant to be~ namely in the form of my living situation. Right when I needed it, a position that provides an apartment that they pay me to live in opened up. I’m the guest house attendant for the Wyatt Guest House, a place where patients from rural areas who are coming to Columbia to receive cancer treatment can stay, very close to the hospital, at a discounted rate. I have to be in my apartment from 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. on weeknights to answer any emergencies. I have Friday and Saturday nights off. “Emergencies” are usually things like letting someone in who locked themselves out or getting everyone into the basement in the event of severe weather. Rare stuff. In two weeks I’ve had zero calls. And it comes with free rent, wifi, utilities, and cable. So as you can imagine, it puts me in a very wonderful situation financially. Everyone is all, “HOW did you score that gig?” and the truth is, 1. I happened to know the right people and 2. The timing worked out by the grace of God. That’s all.

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My simple, small living room. That needs a rug still.

That’s just one example of many. And I’m not even sure I believe in “one chosen path” and that my decision to move here was either the right one or the wrong one. It’s just a choice I made, with pros, cons, and consequences – both good and bad. I knew I would feel this way a little bit when I moved, but I was on such a high my first few weeks that I thought maybe I’d skip any negative feeling altogether. But nope, I’m a little homesick now.

But whether it’s through the guest house, a gorgeous sunset, or a good conversation with an old friend, I am constantly getting nudges of reassurance. Life is real good, y’all, and I’m so, so grateful.

 

 

One Big Announcement & February Goals

Remember when I said I’d only self-reflect like this about once a month? Well, it’s February 1st. Your rent is due, and it’s time for me to look ahead a few weeks and set some personal goals for February. More on that later. First, to catch you up on my January: In a nutshell, I have never experienced so many emotions in such a short time.

The breakdown:

Jan. 6 – Approached for a possible job by an old friend.

Jan. 10 – Landed an interview with a different job that I applied for in December, scheduled for the 23rd.

Jan. 18 – Had a great but emotional conversation with a family member about what we both can do to improve our relationship. New year, new us, ya know?

Jan. 20 – Caught my ex boyfriend breaking into my car on camera. For no known reason. Knew he had been doing this repeatedly.

Jan. 20-22 – Called police. Filed a report. Got a fancy alarm on my car. Bought pepper spray. Changed my apartment locks. Cried some. Got really angry. Spent the weekend hiding at my parents’ house. Drove myself crazy wondering what he was doing and why and what I should do. Spent too much time thinking about how I could have prevented this. Didn’t really prepare for the interview as much as I would have liked. (Side note: I knew I wouldn’t make it more than two blog posts without oversharing.)

Jan. 23 – Had the job interview via Skype as well as an editing test. It went well, I guess.

Jan. 26 – Was offered the job. (!!!)

Jan. 30 – Interviewed for the job from the old friend.

Feb. 1 – Decided to accept job offer #1. Told my current employer. And now I’m telling you.

Talk about burying the lede, right? I am ridiculously excited to move back to what feels like my second home, Columbia, Mo., for an editor position with Mizzou. I’ll be editing materials developed from MU’s faculty research for the general public to use as a resource through MU’s Extension office. My office will be on campus. IT’S ALL HAPPENING, YOU GUYS.

While I’m so thrilled for this opportunity, I’ve really loved being in Dallas. My apartment and who I share it with has been the joy of my life for the past three years. I love being close to family, and I’ll seriously miss all of Dallas’s delicious restaurants (Eating is just what you do here). My first job, apartment, and city were the perfect places to navigate the first few years of post-grad life, but this move feels so, so right.

I can’t wait to do all the bucket list things I never got to cross off while I was there. Chief among them: Riding a bike on the MKT to Les Bourgeois winery in Rocheport. I’ll also finally get to see a lot of films at this year’s True/False fest. I’ll hike the Pinnacles. I’ll eat at some of the classic restaurants I missed my first time around. I’ll sit on the alumni side of a football game. It’s gonna be good.

And this brings me to February. Last year off and on my little nerdy self would write down actionable goals for each month. (Read two books, make a dentist appointment, work out at least three times a week. I aim real high, y’all.) I liked it. I’ve decided I’ll do it this year, too.

My biggest February goal: DO NOT DIE.

Others include:

  • Get pre-approved for a home loan before moving.
  • Buy a couch maybe.
  • Let myself cry as many times as I want to. Moving = all the feelings, all the time.
  • Make time for alllll of the proper goodbye lunches, dinners, and happy hours. Packing can wait.
  • Visit my Texas grandparents one time before I go.
  • Make sure my current employers like me when I leave by getting all the things done to help with my transition.
  • Continue to be a nice person even while very stressed.

2017 has been a bumpy ride so far, to say the least, but I’ve already seen how the bad was a blessing in disguise and there’s been SO MUCH GOOD, too. Columbia, I’m comin’ for ya.