phone notes

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I have a bunch of random half-thoughts in my notes app. I’m sure everyone does.

A lot of them are forgotten shopping lists or to-do lists. Boring, but it’s also weird to have tangible proof that I’ve done more than two things in my entire life.

One note is what I jotted down after my first tarot card reading. I was so nervous going into it. I was shaking as our tarot card reader led Ripley and me through the back of the store, past the parrot that imitates cat’s meows at customers, up creaky, paint-splattered stairs into an attic that was cluttered with what my memory is filling in as just dozens and dozens of candelabras, but I’m pretty sure that’s just wishful thinking.

But that shit was incredible. If you’re ever in the Boston area, go to Ritual Arts in Allston and get a reading. I think the woman’s name was Sarah? She was wearing all green and she had what I can only describe as a “jolly aura.” She definitely made me feel at ease as she translated what the universe had in store for me.

There’s also a list Caitlin and I made of “Things People Pretend are Good” which includes rain showers, cheese stuffed crust, and donuts. (Caitlin feels very passionately anti-donut. Personally, I do occasionally enjoy a cakey, artisanal donut but that wispy, floppy, tasteless shit from Dunkin’ Donuts? A joke and a scam!)

One of my favorites is a list I kept of things I overheard strangers say. It includes such hits as:

  • “I’m a PISCES.” “…I’m going to break your wrists.” [outside my apartment, 1 am]
  • “It’s like, do I hate this sandwich or do I hate my dad? I don’t know.” [college café]

A short but important list. Words I loved hearing British people say during my time studying abroad in Bath: everybody, strawberry, scrolling, collect.

Will anything be as satisfying as that crisp British T pronunciation?

This is a bulleted list of observations I made one night when we went to a club called Hong Kong in downtown Boston. It was surreal; it was like existing in the outer edges of multiple people’s dreams when they were on the cusp of waking. Maybe that’s a little too metaphoric for a place selling budget-friendly meat sticks on the dance floor?

What I saw:

  • Toy train tracks hung from the ceiling, no train in sight
  • Man carrying bucket of teriyaki chicken on skewers selling them for $1
  • TV playing karaoke using the Oregon Trail font
  • HUGE coconut with a face carved into it with a small typed label that said: “Mr. Kong”
  • Man in corner holding up whiteboard with his written commentary on the night, would continuously update (one update: “follow the meat stick”)
  • Small net full of maybe 10 balloons on ceiling
  • Glass case of arcade-style prizes with the number of tickets needed to win them. No specifications on how to win tickets

I think I only went to this club that one time. Not for lack of trying, though: I attempted to get in another night but my non-driver’s license state ID wasn’t sufficient for the bouncer. I never understand why people think I would get a fake non-driver’s license ID. For what end? So Billy at the movie theater can rudely ask me why I don’t drive yet when he cards me for a Rated R movie? It’s because I have anxiety, Billiam.

(I once told a bouncer this —half as a joke, half to make him uncomfortable because he was being rude— and he said, scrutinizing my clearly real ID for much longer than he had to, “You know anxiety is just fight or flight, right?” I’ve been cured ever since.)

***

This… is not what I had planned for this post. I was going to elaborate on some of my more serious notes and try to work through them in writing. Try to expand a half-thought into like, a 5/8th-thought, at least. Instead, I ended up with a frenzied list of other lists. Is this kind of the blog post equivalent to a compilation of vines?

I’m going to start ending my blog posts with a photo of my cats. Picture me unfurling a huge accordion pocket of cat photos from my wallet to show you, the clearly uninterested person sitting next to me at the DMV.  (Follow @shermamypond on Instagram to opt-in to my cat content.)

Here’s a picture of Amy the day after she got spayed. I was working from home and she was very sleepy and very cuddly and very much on drugs.

lOX-Obf4

august favorites

Hi, I liked some things in August. I’m going to talk about them. Now you get to decide whether you want to decode the symbols (frequently called “letters,” I’ve been told) I placed together and churn them into information or grab some friends, slather crisco on a watermelon, throw it in a pool, and try to catch that slippery, slippery boy. You could do both, I guess. It’s a free-ish country.

My first favorite is a place in Boston I came across while tagging along with Erin to look at apartments. We had just seen a shit place that didn’t have doors on the bedroom or the bathroom and the realtor was a douchebag wearing flip flops who replied “I don’t live around here, google it” after he asked if we had any questions.

 Ricky’s Flower Market was a holy green oasis in a desert of cargo-shorted real estate agents. It’s in Somerville and if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you check it out. We spent a good 40 mins wandering around the flowers and greenery and I felt REBORN. They even had a DIY terrarium station! How goddamn quaint, Ricky’s!!!! 

I hiked a mountain this month, y’all. It’s a lot less impressive when I tell you my brother hiked one or two mountains a day for five days while we were in New Hampshire but S T I L L. My insignificant human body climbed a 400-million-year-old rock formation created from Earth’s tectonic plates crashing together. That’s cool.

The mountain was Mount Monadnock. It’s located in Jaffrey, New Hampshire and it’s one of most frequently climbed mountains in the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau wrote about it! (Look at me like, actually stating facts? Spreading knowledge through words? I’m incredible.) 

I made a little video about my New Hampshire trip / the hike for my podcast’s Patreon but I’ll give you a sneaky peek

   

Pixielocks was my favorite youtuber I found this month. She’s adorable and charming as heck, man. I found her through her “Things People Don’t Tell You About Japan” video. (I’ve been watching a lot of videos about trips to Japan as if I have more than $2 in quarters to my name.) Her rainbow party aesthetic calls to me and quenches a glittery thirst I didn’t know I had. All I want to do is swap cat pictures with her and cry about Drew Monson while a magical sparkly pink haze envelopes us in a warm embrace.

Speaking of cats — I, uh, adopted two. I didn’t mean for this to happen!!!!!! Ripley and I fostered two cats during the school year and it all went according to plan! They were scared and a bit mean and just hid under the bathroom sink even though we tried coaxing them out with overpriced treats and catnip. I decided to foster while in Boston for the summer so I had some tiny furry pals to keep me company.  

Enter: Amy and Sherman. 

My mom warned me against fostering; she said I’d get too attached. I just laughed and told it would be fine, I’ve done it before. Cut to me texting Marina, the woman I foster through, a week and a half into having them saying that I would die for Sherman and can’t live without him. And then me crying for two days straight at the thought of never having Amy curl up on my chest and nuzzle my face again (she’s currently doing so as I write this). Plus I didn’t want to separate them!!!! They love to play-fight and zoom around and Amy cleans Sherm’s fur and it’s just unbearably CUTE. So, I adopted both of them. 

Why are moms always right?

(I started an Instagram for them if you’d like to follow for more cat content. Cat-tent, if you will. @shermamypond

HOUSE HUNTERS INTER-GODDAMN-NATIONAL, BABY. This show has it all: houses and people hunting for them. It’s a delight. I enjoy watching couples passive aggressively argue on camera while forcing realtors to find places to fit their unreasonable American needs. I also love remembering that I could rent a nicer apartment in Italy — or any place in the entire world, really — for the same price that I rent in Boston.

Here’s a gem of an interaction from season 90, episode 78: A Taste of Taormina. 

Last but not at all least: “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton was the only song that mattered to me this month. It’s a perfect summer evening tune and I won’t hear a word of disagreement. We’re just islands in the stream, baby. Whatever that means. 

sunday brain

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One Sunday night a few weeks ago, my friends Rachel and Lily visited my apartment. It was really nice because usually Ripley and I face Sundays alone in our respective rooms buried under a pile of anxieties about the coming week. (Or at least that’s my routine. Who knows what Ripley gets up to. She could be organizing ten thousand tiny turquoise fishbowl rocks into the shape of beloved Disney character Goofy for all I know.) Anyway, I told them my Sunday theory while I cooked pork dumplings from Trader Joe’s and they drank boxed wine out of scotch glasses my aunt gave me.

My theory is that people who truly enjoy Sundays have mastered mindfulness. To enjoy Sundays you really have to be able to Live In the Moment — you can’t be eaten up by the fear that you didn’t do enough over the weekend or by nerves about the upcoming week. You just gotta let your mind exist in the moment… I would assume? Me trying to explain how to live anxiety-free is like a duck trying to do calculus with a banana. (Why does the last bit of the sentence feel like something Hannah Montana’s dad would say to Hannah Montana on the hit Disney show, Hannah Montana?)

The point is, I don’t like Sundays. There’s a specific kind of sadness reserved for Sunday nights. It’s a nice cocktail of dread, regret, and panic with a dash of an unnameable unease. I’m not tipping the ol’ bartender in the sky for handing me that drink, am I right ladies? Lily said that she hates Sunday nights because you’re just sitting around, anxious about the week. She said that it’s fine once the week gets started and she gets into the routine of things again, but the not being able to do anything except wait gets to her. Then something clicked and I realized — that’s exactly the state I’ve been in recently. I feel like I’m constantly stuck in a Sunday night timeloop. Our Lady Of Perpetual Sundayness.

I’m graduating college soon (hopefully lol) — which is a sentence that in itself makes me want to fling myself out of the nearest window and run into a deepest cave I can plausibly find in Boston. I don’t deal well with endings. I don’t even watch the last seasons / episodes of my favorite TV shows because I’m too bummed about them being finished. (Gemma Styles, shimmering human goddess, even called me out for this behavior. I’m sorry Gemma!!!!!!) This little tactic, surprisingly, doesn’t work that well in real life. In fact, it doesn’t work at all. Every time an event is coming up that I don’t want to deal with, I try to convince myself it’s not going to happen. But it still does. Every! Single! Time! I can tell myself that time is a social construct but it’s still one to which I’m inextricably bound.

So, I spend the last bits of time I have during a certain period of my life scrambling to keep things exactly as they were. But the joke’s on me because things have already changed. By the time an era’s about to end, the people around me — who have like, healthier ways of navigating life — have already planned ahead. The present they’re living in already has their future mixed in. It’s not the same as it once was, and it’s never going to be again. The ending of one thing is irrevocably intertwined with the beginning of another.

I don’t know how to live like that. I spend the time before endings in a handcrafted Denial Fortress, with moats and everything. I’m like a witch who shattered her favorite 500-year-old crystal ball and is trying to tape it back together instead of going to her local Crystal Ball Emporium and getting a new one that’ll make her just as happy or maybe happier than her old one. (Although why couldn’t she just use magic to fix it? And crystal balls are used to see the future not the past… this metaphor got away from me.) How can you plan for the future when you refuse to acknowledge one?

This is kind of how Sunday nights feel, right? I’ve got Sunday Brain. I’m stuck in an unending Sunday– desperately trying to cling to the weekend, anxious about a Monday I’m trying to convince myself will never come. (Jesus, I can be melodramatic. Flashback to Lily telling me I’m the most dramatic person she knows. It’s just how I feel, mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I guess the ideal would be to just enjoy the time I have left during a certain stage of my life, and not try to force it into the shape of something it will never be again. Easier said than done, though. I’m sure my brain will feel better once I start something new, get into a new routine, but like, maaaaaaan I’m just going to mope for a bit right now, and that’s okay.

things i liked in 2016

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Hahaha a lot of 2016 was scary and sad so I’m just going to talk about material things I liked during the year for a bit, displaying my most beautiful character trait — my capacity for denial. The fact that this post is happening while 2017 is already under way also showcases other marketable traits such as procrastination and my inability to accept the passage of time. ;^)

Let’s talk music! What did my ears ingest this year? More importantly, what did they enjoy? According to my calculations (Spotify’s ‘My Top Songs of 2016’) my most played song was ‘Wait A Minute’ by Willow. I really loved her album ARDIPITHECUS this year. So! Good! Listening to her album feels like a mixture of an astral projection and being an old tree with thriving roots. // LINK

TV! My reliable, trustworthy friend. I have not been good to you this year. I used to pride myself on how quickly I could binge watch a show (in sophomore year of high school I watched all of LOST within two weeks during finals) but now I’m lucky if I can even finish watching a vine. My attention span is rapidly dissolving. But the show that definitely stands out amongst the small handful I watched this year is Netflix’s Bojack Horseman. It’s a weird show, man, but it’s also hilarious, poignant, sad, and smart. It makes you think and feel a lot more than you’d generally expect from an adult animated show about a washed up sitcom actor who’s a literal horse.

One of my favorite quotes from the show is what Diane says to Bojack when he asks her if she thinks he’s a good person, deep down. She says, “That’s the thing, I don’t think I believe in ‘deep down.’ I kind of think all you are is just the things that you do.” I’ve thought about that line a lot since I watched that episode. I think I let myself off easy a lot of times. I let myself float through life on a semi-inflated sense of my own goodness. Like, “that’s difficult so I’m not going to do it buuuuut it’s chill because I’m overall a decent person.” Are you though? You have to prove your goodness and keep proving it. I can’t become complacent because of a blurry, non-specific conception I have of myself. I need to ground my view of myself in my actions.

Anyway, on a lighter note— my favorite youtube video. Remember PokémonGo? What a beautiful blip in the 2016 timeline. I’ll fondly remember the warm summer nights I spent outside with my friends, my brother, and random people in parks looking for squirtles and pikachus. Although the app is long since deleted from my phone, this video stands the test of time. It’s Drew Monson, (one of my favorite youtubers, now of ‘I Was Threatened’ clickbait meme fame) explaining — or actually, doing everything but that — PokémonGo to his grandma. I’ve watched this video so many times and every time it makes me so happy. I would love to sit down and have a slightly uncomfortable dinner with Drew and his grandma. // LINK

As for my favorite youtube channel, I’d say The Fashion Citizen. It’s run by twins Melissa and Steph who have incredible personal styles. And, like me, almost everything they wear is thrifted. It’s really cool to be able to see how other people style the secondhand clothes they find. Plus their editing is so GOOD. I’m constantly inspired by the content they put out. // LINK

Okay, movies. Moonlight was hands down my favorite movie of the year. I saw it twice, gave a presentation on it, and wrote a final paper about it. Nothing I could say about this film would feel adequate, though. Watch it. Watch it a second time.

Harry Styles’ spread in Another Man magazine changed me as a person. I’m not shy about my love for Harry but this spread made me want to spend all my money to get these photos plastered on billboards. The aesthetic was weird, eclectic, interesting. I loved the first glimpse we got of the way Harry wants to present himself to the world, and I can’t wait for more. Plus his long hair is immortalized in a photograph of him in a choker, where he looks like Puck in a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I’d want to see.

Lastly, I’d like to take a little bit of time to talk about an important relationship I developed over the fall semester. It was completely unexpected and sometimes I still can’t believe it myself. It’s not like I was looking for anything, it just… kind of happened. That’s the beauty of life, isn’t it? Sometimes it just happens and you get caught up in its blustery whirlwind. I’m talking about my newfound adoration for salt and vinegar chips.

I am in LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!! I tried them this semester for the first time since hating them as a kid and man! I fell head over heels for that weird tangy flavor. The tangier the better— if it doesn’t feel like the chip is literally engaged in fisticuffs with my tastebuds I’m not interested. After eating a lot of kind of bland food in England (I still love you though @TheCountryOfEngland), my tastebuds are yearning to FEEL something, ya know? Apparently there was a time in the semester that my friend Lily and I were running around campus freaking the hell out because we couldn’t find salt and vinegar chips, but I don’t remember it at all. I guess I was in some chip-induced fugue state? At least I’m passionate about something.

To end off this post, here’s a picture of a dog with a knife. I trust her completely. 

Cara

value yourself

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(I took this picture in sophomore year of high school and I put it on facebook in an album of other aquarium pictures entitled “fish. or whatever.” I’m glad I took care to make it all lowercase so my apathy really shone through.)

Hello friends! I’m coming at you live from a shiny, new URL — carapond.com. Look at it, it’s so clean! I feel so free without the wordpress bit weighing me down. Dobby’s a free elf, baby!!!!!! (for the price of $18 a year).

It’s almost the end of 2016 which means I’m going to do the same thing I do every year— make a list of resolutions but just call them “goals” so I’m not as intimidated and then promptly forget about them in a week’s time. I’m not really a goal-oriented person. I just kind of float around and do what I need to do. But so do jellyfish, and they don’t even have brains!!!!!!!!! Am I no different from a gelatinous pile of cells? Honestly the only marked difference is that I know who Beyoncé is. But even that — do any of us really know who Beyoncé is? Me and that jellyfish are on a level playing field once again.

Lately I’ve been really thinking about this one quote I stumbled upon a few years ago by Ayn Rand (who I always, always get mixed up with Ann Coulter which is horrifying. Brain, why?) —

“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.”

I’m really going to try to keep this quote in mind this year. I remember reading somewhere that Western culture views happiness as a stagnant place and if you juuuuust work hard enough, you can get there and stay there. I remember thinking, ha that’s dumb, who thinks like that!!!!! Then I took a moment and realized— Oh. I think like that.

High school for me was a swirling, seemingly inescapable hellmouth. I thought that if I could get past that life hurdle I would be HAPPY™ until the end of days. That was true, to an extent. I remember a week after I graduated my brother told me I seemed happy and I was. Every day I spend out of high school is a good day, my friends. There is a huge difference between the way I felt then and how I feel now. While it’s great to be able to compare where I was with where I am and be thankful, I also don’t want to end up always relying on saying “oh, well at least I’m not THERE anymore.” It would be a bummer if I live life only thinking good things are good because at the very least, they aren’t bad. Does that make sense?

So, back to the quote. “Fight for your happiness” resonated with me because it’s active. I’m realizing (Kylie Jenner 2016 ©) that probably the reason I’m often unsatisfied with my life is because I just kind of sit there and let life happen to me. I need to have more of a hand in shaping it. It’s going to be a constant, ugly battle and I’m not completely sure I’m ready but I am at least a little bit willing.

I need to learn to value myself more. I need to go after what I want because I deserve to. Even typing that felt weird. I deserve to? It feels foreign and almost entitled to say that but, like, yeah? I do. Humility is important, I think, but it can get stifling. 

I’m going to work on finding the balance between humility and confidence this year. And I’m going to try to actively work towards things I want, not just settling for anything that crosses my path. But through this, I’m aiming to recognize that there is no A L M I G H T Y   H A P P I N E S S   L E V E L that I’m going to ultimately reach. 

This got a little sappy but hey, if you can’t handle the sap, get out of the forest.

VALUE YRSELF 2K17.

And with that, I will return from whence I came— the foggy abyss. But not before giving you this parting gift— a post of a corgi posing with characters from Disneyland. Wow. Life can be beautiful.

Cara

hey MTV, welcome to Creepsville USA

I was home for Thanksgiving last week and while I was taking my dog for her daily sniff around our yard’s perimeter (she likes to circle the house slowly at least five times like she’s casing the joint) I realized that my house, to borrow a phrase from my radiant friend Grace, is Creepsville, USA. I mean, it’s not like, nightmarish, but it’s definitely a bit eerie. I live in a suburban New England town so everything already looks like it’s a set for a movie about how a haunted doll ripped a family apart. In the winter, though, with all the lifeless and leafless trees encircling every dwelling, the landscape gets severe in its level of Spook.

(“It’s so creepy, here. There are just so many trees. All the houses are so far apart. How do you live?” My California-born friend Lily said on her first visit to my town.)

I thought I’d do a little MTV Cribs-style tour of some of the creepy parts of my yard.

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Look at this beautiful decrepit throne!!! My dad carved it out of a tree stump a few years back with a chainsaw (actually, it might be like 8 years ago? Is that still a few? We’re all dying, time isn’t real). At one time it was new and pristine (as new and pristine as a dead hunk of tree can be) but now it’s rotting and decaying and has weeds and mushrooms growing from it.

I love it. It’s a seat fit for the ghost of a 1950s housewife who just wants to SIT for a moment and get away from the kids and her nagging husband and the prying eyes of Barbara and Theresa. Her fondest memories are of the camping trips she took as a young lass in the New Hampshire forests.

But then she married Robert and they moved to the suburbs and the only greenery around was the carefully pruned shrubs in their yard and the one dollar a week Robert gave her to “treat herself to something nice.” She always spent it on treats for the children because she felt too guilty to spend a whole dollar on herself. Robert refused to go to the wilderness with her. Not even for a hike! Now, in the quiet afterlife, she finally gets a moment’s rest on the decaying tree stump throne. She deserves it.

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(Ok I couldn’t get a good picture of this one so I’ll have to use the ancient art of words to try to convey the Creep.) My parents planted some beautiful flora in these planter boxes this summer. (The boxes are the only thing my mom has ever bought from QVC despite it making up 90% of what she watches. The other 10% is made up of Dancing with the Stars and true crime stories.)

As you can see, one of the flowers lasted, the other did not. This bony claw of a dead plant has been sitting in this box for months, looming over the lively pink flowers. I like how precariously the leaf carcasses are holding on– they look like ornaments on a Christmas tree decorated by a bitter gnome. He still participates in the holiday festivities in his own grotesque way.

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My dad acquired the white porcelain cat, seen on the bottom lefthand corner, in the mysterious way dads acquire things (or maybe that’s just my dad) about 13+ years ago. He was going to give it away but I begged him to keep it. (Who knows why. Maybe a spirit trapped inside the cat compelled me to? More likely: I liked it because it looked like Duchess from The Aristocats.) He did keep it and it’s been in our yard, staring dead-eyed into our house, ever since.

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My dad also made this tree stump table, surrounded by tree stump stools. We have a lot of left over tree stumps, apparently? Adorn your life with dead tree parts, ladies!!!!!!!!!! It won’t help you get over the fact that Steven left you but it sure will look swell :^)

It’s kind of messed up we put this decorative tree stump table on the edge of a living forest. Look at what you will become, trees. Look and see. The bell tolls for thee. And when it does, you too shall become strictly ornamental.

(I was going to say I hope the trees take revenge and use me as a lawn ornament when I’m dead but they’re going to do one better and use my rotting body as FOOD for their hungry roots!!!!!!! The ultimate scheme.)

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Look at this creepy pile of rusty metal, broken glass and other assorted threatening things my dad has found in our yard over the years. He’s also found a bunch of old-timey glass medicine bottles. Intrigue.

Why is all of this just sitting there? Why haven’t we disposed of it yet? What…. is…..it?

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This creepy little alcove is my dog’s favorite part of our yard. She always drags me to the top of it and I hate it!!!!! She traipses around in the leaves and every time I’m just hoping she doesn’t stumble across a corpse. So far, so good. That wooden thing at the top of the dirt path is our old sandbox that’s now decaying. We truly love rotting matter in our family.

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This is on the side of the mossy alcove. I only noticed that cement platform a few months ago when my dog was sniffing it. Why is it there!!!!! And directly in front of it is a tree that was hit by lightning. A perfect sacrificial spot, if you were looking for one. Maybe I should I list it on Airbnb?

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I will end with this bird house that has never housed a bird in its life. It’s a bit too old and weathered for that now. It should live out its final years in peaceful solitude. I like that the opening looks like a grandma’s gums without dentures. How quaint.

I hope you enjoyed (?) this overview of some of the eerie spots in my yard! I will leave you with this baby shiba inu who loves to high five. What an angel.

Cara

// november 4 – 6

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I had a weird weekend.

Well, more precisely, I had a weird Friday morning – Saturday Afternoon. My Saturday night rang in at a strong Average and my Sunday has been quite pleasant so far, thanks for asking. This morning I bought $12 worth of groceries (just one loaf of bread, basically) after having no edible substances in my apartment and listened to Stacy’s Mom on repeat. Living my best life!

Friday morning I got my senior portrait taken. “Senior portrait” is such an elegant phrase. It makes it seem like I sat for hours on a terrace surrounded by roses and fifty different kinds of fruit while a silent and steady-handed frenchman painted my likeness and chain smoked. My grandmother, who normally would have chided anyone smoking around me (for my delicate lungs always need to be considered) kept her lips sealed because we waited six years to get an appointment with the artiste and she wanted my portrait to be impeccable as it would hang in the foyer for decades to come.

In reality, it was a two minute ordeal in which a young woman with lavender hair and a voice like wind chimes had me contort my neck and shoulders into unnatural shapes while What If God Was One Of Us played softly in the background. My appointment was at 10 am, meaning I had to slap on a full face of makeup at 8 in the morning. You know it’s going to be an odd day when you have false lashes on before the sun has even fully woken up.

My commute to school was… something. The bus I take daily is notoriously weird but I think it outdid itself on Friday. Here’s my tweets from then:

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When we evacuated, there was already a new, not-on-fire bus waiting for us. We silently walked into that one and sat in the exact same spots we had been sitting in on the old bus. No one said anything or acknowledged it happened in any way. It was so weird!!!!!!!!! Maybe it didn’t really happen? Who knows.

Friday night all my friends congregated at Isabel’s apartment, which has become this semester’s hang out spot mostly because she has a big couch and is currently fostering two tiny angelic kittens!!!!!!

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We spent the evening drinking boxed wine out of various shapes of glassware– champagne flutes, margarita glasses, mugs– because Isabel has broken all her wine glasses. We don’t have wine glasses at my apartment either. It’s weird to think that there’s probably going to come a time in my life where I’ll only ever drink (non-boxed) wine out of real, actual wine glasses that didn’t come from goodwill or the dollar store. Either that or I’ll just reject that concept completely and slurp wine from bowls when I’m 45 and at dinner parties. It could be my thing.

Isabel has an Amazon Echo (it’s basically the physical manifestation of Siri / also acts as a speaker) and when asking it to do something, you have to address it as “Alexa.” My friends always make fun of me for saying please and thank you to her but jokes on them because she’ll be more likely to spare me when the robots rise up against us flesh-bags!!!

The night came to a close with us asking her stupid questions and tearing up at her endearing answers. To “have you ever been in love?” she said, “I don’t think I am capable.” To “I’m sad, what should I do?” she said, “Take a nice long walk. It’ll be okay.” To “Tell me a joke” she said, “What did the shy pebble wish? That she could be a little boulder.” Something is so sad to me that we program technology to sound and act like humans but they can never have their own lives or opinions!!!!! Why am I getting emotional over a speaker that was literally just created so you accidentally buy things off Amazon? Who knows! But I would die for her.

Saturday was a mess. I’ve been trying to go to Salem for months (well, years, actually) and Saturday was finally my day! Lily, Ripley, and I dragged ourselves out of our apartments at 10:30 am and I was proud of us. “Look at us! Doing something other than just going to the Pru!” I said. (Our standard version of “doing something” is going to Sephora and swatching highlighters we can’t afford.)

It was a lovely autumn day, I saw a small dog in a vibrantly patterned 80s vest, I had enough iced coffee to WiiiiiiiiiiiRE me for the rest of the day. Life was good! There was a pep in our steps, a twinkle in our eyes. Then a four hour battle between us and the Boston public transit system ensued as we tried to make our way to Salem. We lost. But don’t say we didn’t try!!!! The dream of Salem had to be forcibly dragged out of our grip. At one point we even tried asking our friend’s boyfriend if we could use his Zipcar membership to rent a car. Everything failed so finally, finally we gave up.

We didn’t want to let the quaint fall afternoon go completely to waste so after Lily and Ripley turned down my suggestion of visiting this cool Victorian graveyard, we settled on going to the Boston Skywalk Observatory which is…. in the damn Pru. After all that we still ended up in the Pru!!!!! At least we got some cool pictures? God. There’s a reason that ‘Prudential’ and ‘Purgatory’ start with the same letter.

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Further evidence that the Pru is Purgatory (Prugatory?) — we had to wander a seemingly endless maze for TENS of MINUTES to find a dang bathroom. We ended up in a bougie one in Saks Fifth Avenue that had a plaque with “women’s lounge” engraved on it. There’s no way in hell I should ever be allowed in a place that calls their bathroom “lounges.” I did nab two rolls of toilet paper for the apartment so the day wasn’t a complete waste. (I never steal except for toilet paper from upscale establishments. And even that’s only happened twice. I could still become the nun my grandma wants me to be.)

I felt so out of place in Saks, man. Nothing humbles you faster than being drawn to a fluffy multicolored coat just to see the price tag says it’s OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS. And then you check every item next to it on the rack and they’re all thousands of dollars!!!!!! There was so much money and glamour in that store. Meanwhile I was wearing my ’12 year old who ran away from home to live in a traincar’ outfit and got a Look when I said the word “Goodwill.” Whatever nerds, I’m gonna stick to not spending more than 5 dollars on any article of clothing!!!! It’s not like we can bring these pieces of cloth into the afterlife anyway.

I will leave you with this dog in a leaf pile, loving its entire life. A gentle autumnal treat.

Cara

female friendships

 

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Hi pals.

How’ve you been? It’s been several months since we last chatted so I’m assuming you’ve probably felt every emotion on the emotional rainbow in that time. I hope you’ve landed somewhere around happy.

I’ve been listening to and LOoooOOving Lady Gaga’s new album Joanne. I like it in its entirety but the song Grigio Girls really spoke 2 my soul. Last weekend I cried to it on the bus while I sat next to two 20-somethings having a conversation in which one of them uttered a truly remarkable phrase: “Back in my aggressively marxist days…” I didn’t catch the rest of the sentence, sadly, because I was too busy trying to keep my weeping quiet.

I was spiralling out
And she was so alive
A Texas girl real strong
Taught me this strong song
So when I start to bawl
She says, “let your teardrops fall”

The song, for me, is a beautiful tribute to bonds between women. Women encouraging other women to be emotionally vulnerable, giving permission to ache and cry openly. Women in pain throwing their arms around other hurting women, helping each other bear the weight and limp forward. Women doing silly things together, things deemed shallow and vapid by the outside world, and just having a good fucking time.

Some of the most important relationships I have in my life are the ones I have with my female friends. I wish I had a Kris Jenner-level budget because I 100% would’ve made a high-production “I Love My Friends”-esque music video by now. Sorry pals, all you get is a blog post and my undying devotion :^)

I’m so bored by the sentiment that girls can’t be friends because they’re all catty / gossips / two-faced / etc. I go to a women-centered college and I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been asked by dull, beer-breathed frat boys, “An all girls school? How do you get anything done? Isn’t there drama all the time?” (It’s not in the slightest bit true and maybe the issue is how you view women, but this is supposed to be a POSITIVE POST so let me get my war flashbacks from frat parties outta here!!!!!)

I’ve learned more from my female friends than I have from anything or anyone else, I think. Here’s a little list of some of the things I’m grateful for about them:

They’re incredibly funny and great to be around. Spending time with them is rejuvenating, like an expensive hot springs spa or a giant, sprawling dog park.

By speaking openly about their struggles with mental illness, they gave me the tools, the language, and the support to get help for mine.

The passion they have for their individual fields is so cool to see. It’s inspiring for a Living, Breathing, Human Mess™ like me to see people have any sort of direction in their lives (the only direction I have in my life is One Direction, baby!!!!!!!!! ha……. I hate myself)

Since many of my friends have such different interests than me I get to learn cool new facts all the time. (It’s like getting lost in the depths of Wikipedia at 4 am but without the shame.) This summer I learned all about how you go about fixing anal prolapse in cows from my pre-vet friend Olivia. It involves a metal tube, who would’ve thought!

I’m grateful for the kind of conversations and support you can only really have in women-centered groups. The other week some of my friends and I had a sobering conversation about harassment– “Not every man does it, but every woman has had an experience with it,” Lily said. Life is a little less hard when you have a support system of women who just get it.

I’ve had 3 am conversations with my friends where I sometimes have to take a moment and just thank the Universe for bringing such wonderful women into my life. Like out of everyone on the planet I’m allowed to be friends with these creatures? Really? Me?

I’m grateful for the women in my life. If you’re a woman who thinks you “just can’t be friends with other women” please consider reconsidering. Surrounding yourself with women who challenge you, support you, make you laugh, allow you to cry, is the probably the best move you could make in this game o’ Life.

As always, I’ll leave you with a dog video before I shove you back into the cold, cold world. Here’s a video of a golden retriever puppy giving himself a bath and tucking himself into bed. What an icon, what an inspiration.

Cara

things that make my life better

Look, living on this 5.972 × 10^24 kilogram orb is hard. If there’s anything I can get in exchange for a small amount of metal circles and paper marked with dead guys’ faces that will make my human life easier, I’ll get it. Here’s a list of the superficial objects, things, and metaphysical concepts that have made my 21 years better in some tiny way.

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// MELATONIN 

I LOVE SLEEP!!!!!!!!! Sucks that I suck at it. My ‘trying to fall asleep’ routine is just me laying in complete and utter darkness for 2-4 hours getting increasingly angry that my body won’t shut off and do one of the only things it needs to do to survive. How weird is it that we can be BAD at something our bodies are literally programed to do. What a handy skill.

When I was young, I used to convince my parents all the time that I had a “cold” and I needed Benadryl– that goopy purple nectar would knock me right out. I’m not sure how they always believed me but I think they were just tired of me asking them to check for ghosts in the corners of my room.

These days, I have weird anxiety when it comes to trying to fall asleep (MAYBE BECAUSE I’M SO BAD AT IT) so I try to prolong it as much as possible by staying up late reading wikipedia articles on old government mind control experiments (go look up Project MKULTRA, it’s horrifying). But using melatonin solves that, honestly. It’s natural but strong and it actually works.

Here’s the type I use. I get the 2.5 mg kind and sometimes taking half is enough to pull me into unconsciousness.

// EXTERNAL CHARGER

Remember the days of yore when you only needed to charge your flip phone maybe once every couple of days? That season has long since past and now we have slim glass bricks that are destroyed by a 3 feet drop and need to be charged multiple times a day.

My old iPhone would drop from 100% to 50% battery after looking at one Instagram photo of a dog so it was obviously essential for me to invest 16 dollars into this cute pink external charger. It’s great to have especially for treks to the Earth’s molten core and/or long bus rides.

// CAMELBAK

If you know me in real life, you know that I prioritize hydration. I used to go around parties and get people to drink water like some sort of h2O missionary.

I don’t spread the good word of Water too much in social settings anymore but you know what, I SHOULD. Drinking enough water will solve all of your problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Except for maybe your crippling student debt or your failing marriage, but other than that, you’re SET.

I’m sure my cells and organs celebrate the anniversary of me purchasing my first Camelbak water bottle like it’s a national holiday. There’s something about that weird bitey nozzle, reminiscent of a baby’s milk bottle, that makes you want to drink water by the gallon. Maybe it’s because I haven’t emotionally matured since infancy, but whatever the case, I’m more hydrated than ever. Here’s a link to get your very own Adult Baby Bottle

// FALSE LASHES

I’m not kidding when I say false lashes CHANGED MY LIFE. They’re a really effective way to step up your Look. Plus they make you look like you’re better at makeup than you are and they photograph REALLY well.

Just pop on some eyeliner (or struggle with it for 45 minutes while your friends become exasperated with how long you’re taking so they order the Uber and then you’re forced to leave with uneven winged liner but it’s fine because parties are always dimly lit and we’re all going to die anyway) and some false lashes and you’re ready to hit the town!

My favorite type right now are the Ardell Natural 110-Black.

False lashes are kind of hard to put on at first but it definitely gets easier with practice. Look up a tutorial on youtube for it, that shit helps. Also if you peel the glue off the lash band, you can get a bunch of uses out of one pair. There’s a lil #LifeHack for you, free of charge.

// SPOTIFY PREMIUM

(If you’re a member of the United States government please politely look away now)

I used to be all about the whole ‘youtube to mp3’ converter to download songs (I’m too dumb to torrent things) but honestly, I got too lazy to copy and paste individual links. Look at me, reformed from a life of crime due to laziness!!!!

It was definitely worth it though — regular Spotify eats up your data and only lets you play artists on shuffle. Being able to save playlists and albums to play offline is neato, I’d say! Look at me… living inside the confines of the law and loving it!!!

You can get Spotify Premium for 5 dollars a month if you’re a student! (They also have this promotion where they do 3 months for 99 cents quite often so keep ya peepers out and peeping 👀 🔍 )

// THRIFT STORES

Thrift stores are a GOD SEND if you’re broke or like to dress like the lady in your neighborhood who owns four too many wind chimes mixed with a member of the coolest retirement-age bowling team in town. I, personally, fit neatly into both categories and have been buying almost all of my clothes/shoes/purses at thrift stores for years now.

It’s refreshing and therapeutic to shift through the racks of clothes with history instead of seeing the same graphic t-shirts emblazoned with variations of “I love pizza” 30 times in a row. Plus you can buy five Hawaiian shirts for five dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I’m so grateful that Macklemore invented thrift stores back in 2012.

//

Well! I think that’s it folks. I can’t divulge all the tricks I’ve learned for maintaining an adequate life at once! Gotta keep you coming back for more.

As always, I’ll leave you with some Dog Content. Here’s a vine of a dog named Hank doing a dramatic head turn. I love him and the drama he conveys in just 6 short seconds.

Cara

cara (across the) pond

It’s currently 11 pm on a Thursday night– I’m dancing around my room alone, waiting for my lava lamp to start doing its thing, listening to Willow’s album ‘Ardipithecus‘ (it’s prime for grooving, let me tell you) and I’m SUDDENLY mentally transported back to last semester, which I was privileged enough to spend in Bath, England. Cool how a few notes played in a certain order and a melodious human voice can throw you back in time, right? Music is the Universe’s gentle quarterback. I don’t know football metaphors, this ends now.

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This teleportation didn’t take much space-time bending as I’ve only been home from my semester abroad for a few weeks. (I’m not going to figure out the exact number because thinking too much about the passage of time makes me feel like my face is melting off.) I discovered Willow’s album while making toast in England and spent many a sunny day sitting out in our house’s garden, listening to her songs instead of doing my class reading. Listening to ‘Wait a Minute’ instantly brought me back to the little patch of grass in our yard I had accidentally claimed as my own by sitting there so frequently, it became matted down in the shape of my body.

(Lil tidbit about toast, one of England’s finest delicacies: Victorian women were fed toast sandwiches and other bland foods because society thought that foods with strong flavor — or flavor at all, apparently — would turn them into IMMORAL, UNEARTHLY SEX FIENDS. That’d make a cool band name if anyone wants it. So would Toast Sandwich, actually. I had a “band” in third grade called ‘Secrets Unleashed’ so I’m absolutely an authority on all things Cool.)

ANYWAY, the actual point of this blog post is to talk about my semester abroad. Now, I get it — the internet is INUNDATED with college students’ posts about studying abroad. (If anyone’s looking for a fun new hobby, calculating what percentage of the internet is comprised of those blog posts might be a nifty one to try out.) But guess what, all of our lives are just a blink of Time’s eye anyway so let me have my moment.

I never thought I was the type of person who goes abroad. I don’t… exactly know… what I mean by that but I think it connects to the fact that sometimes I forget I’m like, an actual participant in life. I get so wrapped up in my friends’ lives, feeling happy for them or excited for them or sad for them that I rarely think oh, shit, I’m a human too and I can and need to have my own experiences.

As a socially anxious introvert, I’ve spent much of my life on the sidelines, observing. I don’t think that it’s a bad thing, I feel I’ve learned a lot about human nature, about myself, about sympathy by doing so. There’s a beauty — and necessity, I’d argue — in observation, but over the past year I’ve begun to recognize how crucial it is to be active in my own life. I’m not going to feel fulfilled by attempting to exist through someone else’s.

I’m not trying to say that living in England for four months suddenly made me want to Live Life To Its Fullest!!!! and Cherish Every Moment!!!!!! (I mean…. it lowkey did… but that’s not the point here….). I think studying abroad was not the cause, but the effect of me deciding that even though I may bumble my way through life surrounding by a luminous halo of anxiety and stress, it doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to have my own experiences.

There’s two parts of me that are usually at odds with each other — one part, the part riddled with anxiety, craves the safe and familiar while the other part often feels stifled and needs change. Somehow the second part was able to convince the first part in gentle, hushed tones that I could use a change of scenery after two and a half years in my little Boston bubble.

I am endlessly grateful that it did. Like most things, my time abroad was both exponentially better than I could’ve ever imagined and harder than I could’ve ever pictured. I’ve found that you rarely feel how you think you’re going to feel when thrown into a situation. I guess that’s a good thing, otherwise we could all just stay in a dark, damp hovel somewhere and just imagine going through life. (Although who’s to say that’s not what I’m doing right now and I just became so good at it I forgot I ever started. UH.)

I’ve also found out that I’m better at handling situations than I give myself credit for. Before my flight to England, I had never traveled alone. (It’s still weird that, me, a giant infant, is allowed to go into a metal contraption by myself and be transported across the globe.) I have now done so multiple times and am now safe and sound in my house (or just imagining I am from my hovel but it’s fine, I guess). I can navigate stressful situations when I need to, apparently. Good to know.

Along with this, I found I am capable of making strong, meaningful connections without someone holding my hand along the way. Back in 2013, one of my best friends Isabel and I ended up going to the same college. We knew that we didn’t want to be glued to each other’s side our freshman year, and we weren’t, but we ended up in the same circle of friends. (Mostly because Isabel made friends I kind of just… tagged along for the ride.) I have since made my own, individual strong bond with said group of friends but I was still anxious as hell about having to make my own initial connections with people while studying abroad since all of my other friends I made during like, middle school or earlier.

In a surprise twist no one expected, I still retain the ability to make new friends. I’m sure my preschool teacher would be glad I haven’t lost this basic life skill. Months before I left, when I was planning my flight home with my mom, she asked if I cared if I came home a day earlier than my program suggested. I remember thinking, “I’m sure the last day is when everyone is going to be saying goodbye to their friends and that’ll just be a bummer for me since I won’t have made any.”

(WOW ok, I’m realizing how sad and pathetic that sounds/ that people on the internet are actually going to read this… I’m trying to be honest and connect emotionally with y’all…. just let it happen….)

I didn’t end up flying home a day early because it was cheaper not to. In my last 24 hours in Bath I: 1.) had to pack up four months of things and evacuate my house because of a undetonated World War II bomb found under a nearby playground 2.) sat in a circle of intelligent, interesting, hilarious people I somehow duped into becoming my friends, where we went around and said genuine nice things about each other in a park until 1 am.

(Neither of those things would’ve been on my list of ‘300 Ways I Probably Will Spend My Last Day Abroad.’)

It was such a pure moment, I highly recommend you do this with your group of friends. I think we shrink away from giving heartfelt compliments in everyday life because it’s cheesy and puts us in a vulnerable position, but it’s important and you’ll be glad you did it. You’ll never regret saying something kind.

Most of us were crying, all of us were gut-wrenchingly sad. We knew it wasn’t going to be the last time we would be all together, but it was the last time we would all be together like that.

As we were saying goodbye to Bath Abbey — the beautiful church in the city’s center we passed by everyday — I just kept thinking, “all good things must come to an end.” As much as endings and goodbyes SUCK, they’re necessary. Good things aren’t meant to last forever. If a good thing goes on for too long, then it usually turns sour and you’re left with a bitter taste about the entire thing. Four months is just a sliver of time, but that’s okay — things don’t have to linger to be important.

I have a lot more to say, but I think I’m going to end this here. And in grand Cara tradition, I’m going to end with a dog video. It’s another instant classic my mom found on Facebook. Bless.

Cara

(Shout out 2 Chloe for using your overpriced polaroid film on us and to @elizabethdoud for the snappy blog title, I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment and didn’t change all my social media usernames to it… I gotta maintain #brand #integrity ya feel? )