27 Things I Learned By 27

30 May 2018

1. Let people merge into your lane. Don't be the driver who makes the out of state minivan with their turn signal on, miss their exit because you don't want to slow down 5 m.p.h.
2. Don't watch crime dramas right before bed.
3. Your opinion isn't the only correct opinion.
4. Get off your phone. And I don't just mean while at dinner with friends. Walk with your eyes to the clouds and observe the sights and sounds around you. Your Instagram feed will be there in an hour, I promise. When I think of all the missed connections I've had with people and adorable dogs I didn't pet and nature I missed because my head was down looking at my phone as I walked home, I cringe.
6. Text or better yet, call your mom on your birthday if that's possible for you. I'm still baffled that I get honored on the day my mother completed literally one of the hardest and most painful experiences a human can go through.
7. Make your bed every morning. There is nothing quite as satisfying as coming home after a long day of work and walking into your room to see a neat, clean bed waiting to engulf you.

⇒8. Have Faith. Find your God/spiritual liaison/higher power, whatever it is and rely on Him/it/that when things get hard.

9. Find your signature drink.
10. Speaking of signatures, adopt a
somewhat legible one.
10. Stop beginning sentences with "sorry."
11. Don't sell boardwalk. EVER.

12. By this age, your metabolism is basically non-existent (if you're one of the lucky few who can still eat like they're a junior in college, congrats!) so start paying attention to what you eat, work out, but most importantly love and respect your body
(easier said than done).
13. Don't compare your life to others. If that means you
have to delete snapchat and twitter and possibly Facebook
because it makes you bitter, then do it.
14. Double check that you set your alarm in the morning
 to AM not PM.
15. Things not worth overpaying for: haircuts, mascara, linens.
16. Things worth paying a little more for: toilet paper, contact solution, sushi.
17.  Volunteer. It's one of the most rewarding and selfless
 things you can do.

⇒18. Get a library card. Seriously, why are you spending $25 on a book you will finish in 3 days and maybe won't even like? The library is free and offers as many books as your heart desires. THEN, and only then, if you really love the book you may buy it. Because, how many of us actually read the same book more than once?

19. Say "no" more often.
20. It's okay to put yourself first. There's a difference between self-care and being selfish. You need to prioritize your needs before other people's wants.
21. Forgive easily. You will be happier not carrying the weight of guilt and bitterness with you.
22. Never be afraid to acknowledge your weaknesses and seek help.
23. Strawberries aren't actually berries. I just really think more people need to know about this.
24. Never accept a job offer without first negotiating salary.


25. Learn to use public transportation.
26. A spray tan can change your life (It can also make your hands the color of Cheetos, be careful).
27. Growing older is a privilege, not a curse. Celebrate another year on Earth instead of dwelling on being "old."

Current Book Favorites

08 May 2018

Short Stories/Poetry

All The Names They Used For God- Anjali Sachdeva
I usually hate short stories because first off, I think they either pack way too much story into 20 pages, or tend to be super boring with abrupt endings. I know, Hemingway is rolling over in his grave, but I just prefer novels. However, this is probably one of the very few collections of short stories that I approve of. Every story is unique and concise and thoughtfully written. There aren't any stories thrown in to be page fillers and each one is creative and could stand alone.

Depression & Other Magic Tricks- Sabrina Benaim
I first heard about this author through her spoken word. For those who aren't into poetry or spoken word, there's this pretty renown organization called Button Poetry. They produce spoken word videos and put them on various platforms, including Youtube. One of my favorite poets on their channel is Sabrina Benaim so when I saw she came out with a poetry collection, I wanted to give it a read. Think Milk & Honey but way better. I love her poems, they remind me of my own writing style... if I was super talented and put my minor in poetry to any actual use.
I plucked a daisy in Kentucky. It told me that you loved me, so I left your love there. There in the dancing around, dancing through, dancing on the spot, where I buried my expectations and the wanting of it all. You know, the truth hurts less when it's not parading around in front of us. I only doused myself in gasoline when you handed me that match because I was tired of being a metaphor. I mean, why is it always about burning? 

Oldie but Goodie
Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury
I am ashamed of myself for not reading this book until my 26th year of life. How have I waited this long?! I'll blame my school system for this one because I feel like I definitely should have read it in 10th grade or something. Ray Bradbury's futuristic world where firefighters start fires instead of putting them out is reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 and had me intrigued from the first sentence. 
It was a pleasure to burn. It was a pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. 
I mean, dang, what a way to start off a story! This is a short book, only 119 pages, so I really don't want to discuss it much for fear of giving something away, but seriously just read it. If the awards, the acclaim, and my fabulous recommendation don't persuade you, read it because HBO is releasing it as a movie starring Michael B. Jordan next month. Yes, Black Panther's enemy will be playing the protagonist Guy Montag, I cannot wait.

The Woman in the Window- A.J. Finn
I was on the waitlist at the library for this book for 3 months so to say I had high expectations would be an understatement. The story centers around a woman scared of going outside her home (she has PTSD from an event the reader doesn't know the source of). The woman watches the neighbors from her window and witnesses what she believes to be a murder occur in their home. However, she is unreliable, a drunk, mixing various psychotics, basically The Girl on Train x 10 in terms of narrator credibility. It intrigued me but I wasn't entirely sold since the story seemed like something that had been done before. But then, it did what I love in a good mystery and completely blindsided me, not once, but twice. I read a lot, so for me not to intuit something coming, says a lot about the author's excellent writing style.

Hidden Bodies- Caroline Kepnes
I included Caroline's first novel, You, in my 2017 book favorites and the follow up sequel is no different. I just love this author's writing style, it's so easy and quick to read, I finish her books in maximum 2 days. There's murder, suspense, love, a criminal trial, basically all my favorite Criminal Minds episodes rolled into one. Start by reading You, and if you like it, definitely follow up with Hidden Bodies. 

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things- Bryn Greenwood
Ok so this book is weird and slightly disturbing and pretty dark. It's very Lolita and I'm just going to throw it out there that it's about a relationship between a 25 year old man and a 13 year old girl....yeah it's gross. BUT it's written so beautifully and is set in a Midwestern methlab and trailer park so compared to everything else going on around the two main characters, their feelings for one another seems like the least illegal thing happening. The two characters are emotionally "in love" but not physically loving one another so that also makes you feel slightly better when you realize that out of all the other awful characters in the book, these two are your favorites. In the brutal surroundings and environment, their affection towards one another emerges as the only delicate thing and something you find yourself as the reader hoping doesn't break. I painted a weird picture of this book but there's also murder, police, foster homes, and motorcycles involved so the book isn't completely about an illegal relationship, I promise.
Feeling dead was better than when my head hurt. Sometimes I thought it might burn through my ribs while I was asleep, and smolder in the sheets until the whole house caught fire.
Historical Fiction

America's First Daughter- Stephanie Dray
Oh how I love me some historical fiction. I was reading this while getting my hair cut and couldn't help daydreaming about wanting to go back to this time period and marry a dashing General who served in the American Revolution. We would live in the rolling hills of the blue ridge mountains and have southern drawls and as my husband wrote important letters in his study I would play harpsichord as the children played by the fire. Then I remembered I definitely would have died 5 years ago from childbirth at the ripe old age of 22 or would've passed from one of the many cases of strep throat I seem to catch every winter...so yeah, I guess the present time period and its antibiotics are cool. Daydreaming aside, these two authors are fantastic. They are widely acclaimed for being historically accurate (they write other historical fictions novels together) and jammed this book full of so many historical facts and nuances that it should be a boring history book but instead flows like a beautiful narrative from Thomas Jefferson's daughter's diary. I am a Virginian so of course I loved that the book focused on Virginia and on her greatest residents but genuinely I think even guys would like this book if they're into history. It's not romanticized, and instead gives a raw and real account of the hardship and eventual poverty that followed the Jefferson family. If you're a Virginian, read it to learn your history, if you're an American, read it to see how far we've grown as a nation (shockingly, it actually is better in America now), and if you're anyone else, read it simply because it's a beautifully written and intelligent piece of literature.

Review: Wild

23 April 2018
I will begin by saying that I'm not a "wilderness-adventure" type of girl. I don't make my own gluten-free trail mix or use a BPA-free water bottle, and I definitely don't wear those creepy shoe/socks that have the toes peeking out. I enjoy hiking (look at me being outdoorsy to your left! I am so adventurous!) and heck, I'll even camp a night or two if the occasion demands and Smore's will be eaten. But, don't you dare expect me to pack up everything I own and live on a trail for 6 months.

So...when I decided to read Wild, it was less about relating to the hiking experience and mostly because I wanted to watch the movie and my English Major past wouldn't let me watch it without first divulging into the book. Despite my love for hygiene and hatred for bugs and outdoor sleeping arrangements, I was surprised to find myself loving a book that took two pages to describe how to purify water for drinking. The book is, first and foremost, about the grueling task of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), but it's also about a girl grieving over a failed marriage, dead mother, and overall loss of drive and direction in her life. I listened to the audiobook this past weekend as my family and I made the 5 hour journey to Northeast Pennsylvania. And maybe it was the fact that we were headed to a funeral or maybe it was just my emotional self listening to beautiful and heartbreaking dialogue escape the narrator, but I found myself sobbing on Highway 95 North when Cheryl Strayed (the author) described her mother dying of cancer. I didn't think I could get emotionally attached to a voice coming out of my radio since it's such a different experience than reading a book, but I was so incredibly moved by Cheryl's story that I broke down and cried when she painfully explained her mother's agonizing passing. I was shameless in my breakdown and apologize if any fellow DC drivers witnessed that hot mess from their car windows.

I had diverged, digressed, wandered, and become wild. I didn't embrace the word as my new name because it defined negative aspects of my circumstances or life, but because even in my darkest days--those very days in which I was naming myself--I saw the power of the darkness. Saw that, in fact, I had strayed and that I was a stray and that from the wild places my straying had brought me, I knew things I couldn't have known before.

The entirety of the book was so refreshing, because like myself, Cheryl was not a hiker or outdoorsy girl when she decided to complete the 2,650 mile trail. She failed multiple times on the trail (unable to purify her water, not reaching her camping site, her shoes breaking) and was faced with many instances of almost quitting, but despite her extreme inexperience, she completed the trail. I loved the inspirational story of a girl who has lost everything, but can find herself while alone in the beauty of nature. Maybe it was the situations she went through that I found myself relating to the narrator but from her lowest lows to highest highs on the trail, I felt connected to the author throughout the book.

I then watched the movie of course! I have to say that as far as movies after books go (always awful), this one was pretty dang great. I thought Reese definitely deserved an award for her acting performance, she was fantastic. The film incorporated a lot of the book which I appreciated and though I was very curious how they cinematically would go from the character's traumatic childhood to adulthood as seamlessly as the book, they did an excellent job.

Lastly, I will leave you with the quote below. It's so simple but I love it. You don't have to hike for six months to find adventure or challenge yourself. Everyday, just living your normal life, you are met with challenges and adventures that define you. There's a wildness and fear in just stepping back and letting things be (Can I copyright that for a poster?....I should know these things, I am a paralegal after all...oops).

How wild it was, to let it be.

         Rating: 4 out 5 Books