Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Hard Reset

Campus view, pre-pandemic.

On Sunday, my cousin Daisy drove up to the foot of my driveway with books to share. She tossed them onto the lawn, sprayed them down with an industrial-sized can of Lysol, we laughed, then she drove off, and was gone. Thus summing up the most Social Interaction I've had outside of my immediate household in Literal Weeks.

Some days, I'm really negative, and it can be kind of hard to see the good in this situation. But, in a way, this quarantine time has served as something of a hard reset. It's forcing me to evaluate what I actually want in life.

Before everything changed, I was burning myself out. In February, I was eagerly awaiting a time where I could rest, recharge, be alone for a little while, and work on my book. Then boom! Worldwide pandemic. Tons of time to be alone. Tons of time to write. 

So I'm trying to view everything through the lens of opportunity.

My sister channeling Lloyd Dobler a couple of months ago.

I can't lie and say that I'm not eager for regular life and its calming normalcy to return once more. But, I will say that I'm grateful. I'm grateful for health. I'm grateful for the hours I have now to work on my novel each day. I'm grateful for the cookie dough in my freezer, my morning cup of coffee, the sun shining outside, and the 20 episodes of The Vampire Diaries that I may or may not have binge-watched with my sister this weekend.

Because one day, Lord willing, the world will go back to normal. We won't have this strange time forever. I want to be able to say that I used this time, this reset that we've all been given, and created something beautiful out of it.

I did a thing and posted again on my 25 Project blog, if you want to check that out. I really love that this time is giving me a chance to plug into projects that I've ignored or put off for sometime. That I'm able to take a sort of pause from the hectic pace of normal life and see what God is trying to tell me. It's been tough, but someday, this time will be over. This too shall pass.

Smol List of Current Favorites

This article | Novel writing | Hazelnut coffee | This song | Candles

Treat yourself with kindness and remember to get a short walk around the block.

Probably writing or flailing about,

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Care Package 002 | March 2020

Practicing social distancing since 1993.

Hi, hullo. This post is coming at you live from the comfort of my purple bedroom, which will likely become quite a familiar space in the weeks ahead. Going outside invites a bit of madness, and people are semi-panicking, but here in the purple bedroom, we are keeping it calm and cozy with a brown sugar chestnut candle and a whole lot of blankets.

Although it's cozy, I must say, it's been a little lonely.

I'm an introvert type, so usually I cherish my Hermit Time, but nothing feels normal right now. That seems to be true for everyone in the country, nay, the world. So as I throw myself into coffee-drinking, creative projects and cleaning, I figured it was time for another installment in the Care Package series. Because most of us are probably a bit isolated at present, and could use a little pick-me-up.

Care Package 002
Welcome to the Care Package! In addition to the below recommendations, please remember to take care of yourself. Mind, body, soul. Things that have been helping me navigate this crazy time include park walks, conversations with friends, writing and journaling, reading the Bible and all sorts of books, getting dressed even if I'm going approximately nowhere, and eating right.

To Read

via Tumblr
* The Calm Place: My friend Shannon showed me this article once, and I've returned to it several times since. It's a little quiet place amidst the chaos of the Internet, and I dare say it's relaxing.

* The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: It is likely that I have already recommended this book in older posts on this blog, but if I did, I DON'T CARE. My friend Jesse recommended Marina Keegan's work to me years ago, and ever since, this book has been dear to me. I return to it quite frequently. Other books I'd recommend devouring while things are uncertain include anything by Sally Rooney, Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, and the entire Harry Potter series.

* "Things to Save in a Fire": The other day I read this simultaneously heartbreaking/heartwarming piece by Lucy Harbron. I love Lucy's blog, and she really puts such honesty and care into her writing. This post is all about the women and stories behind certain articles of clothing she cherishes. Definitely worth a read.

* Shameless plug: If you're bored and looking for music recommendations, I wrote a thing for you.

To Listen

* "After Hours" by the Weeknd: If you like music that makes you feel like you're on the dance floor in a Space Mountain kind of way (what are words), then is this the jam for you! But seriously, the Weeknd is super talented and 2:12 of this bop will make you want to dance for days.

To Do

via Tumblr
* Spend your time wisely: Lena Dunham made a list of little indoor activities you can do right now to keep yourself healthy and busy, and I highly recommend checking them out.

* Smile: Just keep clicking > 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

* Log off: It's easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of news and noise at a time such as this, but taking some time away to sit in your backyard in the sunshine, or pray in a park is actually quite lovely. Also strongly recommended: a nice afternoon nap.

Ok! That's it, friends. If you have any fun things to share, please comment below!

Sending hugs and sunshine,

Saturday, March 14, 2020

2019 in Music: My Favorite Albums of the Year

Hi, hello, please forgive me for not posting this in December when I wanted to, but....life got crazy. And I am only just now getting around to writing, in March, about my favorite albums of 2019. *screams into a pillow* Because I have a disproportionate amount of excitement and #feelings about compiling my yearly favorite albums list, I will not Let It Go, I will Post It Late.

'Twas a good music year.

There were so many epic albums released in 2019, that I'm still listening to some of them on repeat (re: Clairo). And listening through records I missed (re: Wallows). Basically, I'm making up for lost time. 

Also: My favorite local record store posted a picture of me with one of my fave records I bought this year, and I admit I can now die happy. #HeyLookMa #IMadeIt

In summation: 2019 = rad music year, bad blogging year. But now, THE LIST!

Image result for billie eilish when we all fall asleep where do we go album cover"
Aesthetic: Cold jewelry on a bare throat; nose bleed; holding your breath underwater

Why this album: I will admit, I was initially wary of listening to Billie Eilish because of how much her music unsettled me at first. (Spoiler alert: got over that.) I've never heard anything exactly like it, which is reason alone for it to make the list. But the sparse soundscape, breathy vocals, sheer attitude and Eilish's stellar backstory really grew on me. Spooky and sarcastic, yet somehow sincere - sign me up.

Song to listen to: "When The Party's Over"

Image result for lizzo cuz i love you album cover"
Aesthetic: Dance party all alone in fuzzy socks; hair flip; being a boss at work or a workout; buying expensive perfume

Why this album: This album blew me away. It was a complete genre game changer from my usual alt/emo/indie leanings, and totally surprised me. The record, as a whole, is mad empowering. It's my go-to soundtrack for positive vibes or a smol dance party. Required listening for anyone going through a minor identity crisis.

Song to listen to: "Heaven Help Me" on repeat 25 times, or until the neighbors complain

Image result for waterparks fandom"
Aesthetic: Neon introspection; energetic existential crisis; depressed dance party; A LOT OF GREEN

Why this album: I was a fan of Waterparks' previous albums, but FANDOM really solidified my love for this band. This was undoubtedly one of my most anticipated albums of 2019. The singles the band dropped were somewhat of a departure from their pop-punk vibe into a more synthy, quirky style. It's still Waterparks, but you can tell they're experimenting (see "Turbulent"). This album was full of high-energy sad boi tunes - if said sad boi was also super pissed and/or wanted to dance.

Song to listen to: "Reboot"

Image result for clairo immunity cover"
Aesthetic: Driving away with the windows down; looking at film photographs; holding your best friend's hand

Why this album: This record was actually one of the last to make my list, but it has quickly become one of my favorite albums in recent memory. Its honest lyrics, effortless vibe and full dose of nostalgia is a bittersweet mood. It's perfect as calming background music, unless you listen too closely to the lyrics - then it becomes very melancholy very quickly. Overall, this was a really cool project. I'm eager to see what Clairo creates next.

Song to listen to: "Bags"

Image result for the head and the heart living mirage cover"
Aesthetic: Morning music; turning a corner to your own happiness; a worn-in flannel; buttery pancakes and coffee - this album is like breakfast to me (IDK, but it fits)

Why this album: Disclaimer: I love the Head and the Heart. Their music has given me some of my favorite folk tunes and this record did not disappoint. I took this album to work with me and put it on the record player as the sun came up, and it was one of the best ways to start my day. Can fully recommend for Monday morning listening. Everything about it sounds like a beginning - of a relationship, of a new way of seeing yourself...good stuff.

Song to listen to: "I Found Out" (!!!)

Image result for nf the search cover"
Aesthetic: Creative madness; running through a dark city at midnight; overthinking; hustling even when no one believes in you

Why this album: Like with Lizzo's record, this album was a step away from my usual genre comfort zone. I'm not usually into rap or hip-hop, but there was a dark yet inspiring element to NF's songs on this album that really made me a fan. 1000% recommended listening if you need to absolutely crush a workout.

Song to listen to: "When I Grow Up"

Image result for - Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties - Routine Maintenance  cover"
Aesthetic: Driving far, far away; stale cigarette smoke in a small venue; reading the newspaper at a diner in a grimy flannel

Why this album: This record is, to me, a specific time, place and person. It is a road trip kind of record, and an album that really drove home the concept of song-writing as a character to me. It's gritty folk with rough edges and a whole lot of heart. Listen to the first Aaron West record ahead of this one for the full experience.

Song to listen to: "Runnin' Toward the Light"

Image result for - Half Moon Run - A Blemish in the Great Light  cover"
Aesthetic: Me, screaming out of a car to the general populace and anyone who will listen, that they NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS RECORD OR ELSE

Why this album: Half Moon Run is one of my top favorite bands, and they hadn't released a record since 2015, so I was EXCEEDINGLY STOKED for this album to come out. You best believe I drove straight to the record store to buy the only two copies of this album they had in stock (one for me, one for my sister). I realize I'm not spending much space talking about the Actual Album, but that's because it's breathless, wordless, and in need of approximately 0 blurbs to hype it up. Just listen. That is all.

Song to listen to: "Flesh and Blood" (Maybe my favorite song of the year, honestly)


Ok, that's it.

I should probably stop here. This post has been incredibly long as it is. If you're still looking for more tunes, you can check out last year's favorite albums list here. And! If you have music recommendations for moi, feel free to comment below. Always up to discover rad new jams.

That's all she wrote,

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Learning & Leaving

I got in my car, with the entire contents of my office emptied into the backseat, at the end of my last day of work. I expected emotions, and all of them were mixed, as they have been for months, about every facet of my life. Then this song came on the radio, and what could I do but laugh?

Ever since I turned 26, it's as if my life has been in a blender. (Literally me.)

But it's shown me some things, I'll give it that. (Again, me.)

Learning: Maybe I don't want to be a hermit in the woods just yet (all bets are off for the future). Maybe I need to pursue a profession that better serves me creatively, financially, and mentally. Maybe I need a person who has the same energy levels as me and likes books. Maybe I need to write my novel instead of just talking about it.

Leaving: A place that was once my home. A person who was once my home. The notion that I have to have everything all figured out.

It makes sense that I haven't blogged since November.

I'm not even mad at it. It's been such a crazy time, that even when I wanted to blog, I was sort of at a loss for what to say. I still have an unfinished draft post of all of my favorite records of 2019! I still might publish it - there were some bangers on there. It just goes to show the kind of craziness life's been throwing at me lately.

But now, it feels like I'm entering a new season.

It was windy and we were being dorks.

The other day, my sister and I grabbed coffee and went to the park. I couldn't remember the last time I had done something like that, just hanging out and talking with her in nature. It gave us a moment to sort through everything we've been thinking and feeling and experiencing lately. And we both feel like we're on the cusp of very big change in our lives right now.

Naturally, my constant thought at the moment is, "Everything's ending."

But when everything's ending, that means new things are about to begin. It's a new chapter, a new page, the next act of the play that is my life (somebody stop me, I am getting unforgivably cheesy, SEND HELP, OR PIZZA). And while it's hard to leave behind things that were very, very good, it is the right thing to do at this point in my life. It doesn't make it any easier, and I don't like sitting with these difficult emotions, but tough times can make you resilient.

I guess this is just the latest installment in the ongoing series entitled:
Erin Grows Up and Discovers Who She Is.

Even though I think I've known who I am for a while. But I just keep learning new things about myself, and what I want, and what I don't, and it's kind of baffling. There's this quote that I want to include at the beginning of my novel, that I just adore, and it's by e.e. cummings: "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." WELL DANG, e.e. RIP MY HEART OUT, e.e. Because that's how I feel, in this weird phase of learning and leaving. It's knowing that who I am and what I want for my life isn't going to be for everyone.

But that's okay.

Because, to quote the great Avril Lavigne: "I can't not be what I am."

Drink water and take care of yourself,