642-ish Things to Write About

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing" -
Benjamin Franklin
Me at three.
Haven’t done a Throwback in a while… And it is Thursday, you know.

Me at three.

Haven’t done a Throwback in a while… And it is Thursday, you know.

< Boys who read The Fault In Our Stars.

< Boys who read The Fault In Our Stars.

Doodles

It may or may not be obvious to some that I spend a certain amount of time reading magazines. Of them all, when I open a Cosmopolitan, the page I look most forward to contains the cover star’s hand-written answers to the Cosmo Quiz. A parade of multiple choice/open-ended questions asks them about nicknames, the contents of their purse, the last song played on their iPod, what they like most about themselves, their favorite co-star thus far, etc… I always [not-so-secretly] wished I could take the Cosmo Quiz one day. I’ve thought about it so much that I’ve even wondered how they get those handwritten responses printed: Do they have a special iPad on which these celebs can write with a special pen? 

Anyways, the question I am always most fascinated by is the last one. 

"These are what my doodles look like:"

So. In case I never make it on the cover of Cosmo, I looked back over my notebook at work, and here are mine. I’ve  noticed that a lot of flowers, trees, suns, and general nature scenes occur. Guess that’s where my mind wanders to as opposed to basic geometry.

What are yours?

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Realism is for pessimists. An optimist creates his own reality.

—David Harley.

Things That Make Me Happy

I’ve already mentioned that my blog inspirations are Giovanna and Tom Fletcher. But I don’t think I’ve mentioned their other uniquely fantastic relative, Carrie Fletcher. Not only is she currently playing Eponine at the Queen’s Theater in London, but her weekly videos and blog which is now being turned into a book are amazingly real and entertaining.

I’ve had trouble lately coming up with something to write about (mostly because I don’t have the energy to reference my 642 Things to Write About book. So lazy), so I’ve decided to give one of Carrie’s ideas a go!

Recently she blogged about her ritual of writing down the things that make her happy to remind her about the good in the world when it seems like it’s all going to go “arse over tea kettle.” (Never heard that one before, but I’m rather fond of it).

Her rules are:

1. They have to be little things that I don’t appreciate often enough or take for granted in every day life.

2. I have to fill the WHOLE page.

I’m not going to hand write mine as Carrie does, so in averaging out how many things she could fit on a page, I decided to come up with 36 of my own.

Here it goes:

1. The prospect of seeing Carrie Fletcher in Les Misérables and meeting her at stage door.

2. Hot chocolate.

3. Hugs.

4. Sunshine.

5. Phone calls with my grandma in Argentina.

6. My dad’s laugh.

7. My bed.

8. Finding lucky pennies, dimes and feathers.

9. The ocean.

10. Cheeseburgers and french fries.

11. When my grandfather still calls me “Peanut.”

12. When my little cousin says “I love you.”

13. Talking to my friend Colleen on the phone (COME BACK FROM D.C!!)

14. Remembering That’s E.

15. The smell of Bath and Body’s Vanilla Noel lotion.

16. Breakfast.

17. The smell of coffee.

18. Finding Udi’s Everything Bagels in the store.

19. Adorable cheesy lines like: “I was robbed! You stole my heart.”

20. Campfires.

21. Grilled cheese sandwiches.

22. Bookstores.

23. Filling a journal and using a pen until it runs out of ink.

24. Getting recognized/appreciated for my work.

25. Spending all day in my pajamas.

26. Slippers.

27. Finding out that my mom’s been semi-bragging about me.

28. Getting mail (i.e. cards at every holiday from my Auntie Dot).

29. Candles.

30. A summer breeze.

31. Giving someone a present.

32. Baking.

33. Listening to ’80s and ’90s music.

34. Historical fiction/drama.

35. Fireflies.

36. Snow.

I did it! I can’t deny that I wasn’t slightly worried at realizing how pessimistic I am about the world and not being able to come up with 36 things. But low and behold, I could have kept on brainstorming!

I think the difficult part was coming up with things that aren’t just what’s making me happy now. Like certain songs you soon tire of after hitting replay, or newly discovered foods that are soon overindulged in.

I also found myself wondering, “But, does that really make me happy?” That question lead me to deliberate between what I deemed as pleasant, a relief, a preference, or an enjoyment. What truly brings me happiness? Encountering no traffic is nice. Just driving the speed limit makes my foot itch on the petal (shhhh). But I only really appreciate an open road once I’ve sat in an hours’ worth of a bumper-to-bumper jam. It makes me happy because the alternative makes me unhappy. There are a lot of things we take for granted. And that’s what makes it hard to recognize the things that make us happy for no reason other than what they are in themselves. What helped me to determine the things that make me happy were considering if it makes me smile and laugh truly and wholeheartedly, if it brings happy memories to my mind, or if it sets butterflies loose in my stomach and a warmth swelling in my chest.

Click on Carrie’s picture below to be taken to her blog or check out her YouTube channels here!

https://www.youtube.com/user/ItsWayPastMyBedTime/videos

https://www.youtube.com/user/TwentyThirtyTwo/videos

image

But I can’t even press pause.

All of my dreams seem to fall by the side
Like a discarded thought or the day’s fading light
But I know that if I could just see you tonight
Forever.

At times we may fall, like we all tend to do
But I’ll reach out and find that I’ve run into you…

(Source: Spotify)

"My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask."
- Sebastyne Young

"My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask."
- Sebastyne Young

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.

—Winnie the Pooh.

The Two “L” Words.

Love and Loss.

Two words, both made up of four letters, both having an affect that is somehow so impacting on the human race. It doesn’t take much, as you can see.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

-Robert Brault

"The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday." (Forever quoting the Sunscreen Song).

Both intertwine, and yet both stand so far apart from one another. You can’t experience love without fearing loss, and you can’t experience loss without having felt love. It’s a vicious cycle.

A question came up last night when I was having a conversation with a certain someone of whether or not I would rather have loved and lost, or never loved at all. This question is by no means a new one, and in fact it’s rather old-aged and probably worn out from so much discussion. There is really no right answer. How can there ever truly be an answer when belief serves as the basis for it’s thought?

Needless to say, I can’t give a straightforward response to this one. I can, however, give you what I deliberated after a bit of thought.

Like everything else in life, it depends.

It depends on what you consider a “loss.”

The first thing that comes to mind at the word “loss” is “death.” And in that case, yes, I believe I would rather have loved.

The pain would be excruciating; I can’t imagine having someone I love enormously not only leave me, but leave this world as well. Knowing that you can never, ever see them again or talk to them is… well… they cease to exist; how can that be easy to take? It’s impossible to accept. But, there will forever be the memories and happy thoughts of them to carry close to me for the remainder of life I have left. And that’s worth it.

You know those cheesy Pinterest pictures all over the place that say something along the lines of “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”? Well, they have a point. I believe that everyone you meet has a purpose in your life. Paths cross for a reason; whether it be because they teach you something, or because you are there for them when they need it. Out of all the billions of people out there, this one made it into your life. That’s pretty significant.

Death is something you don’t have control over, and for that, it is easier to have loved and lost them.

Ahh… but… if loss could also mean abandonment, or for some reason or another someone chooses to leave you, is that something you CAN control? To be honest, I don’t believe you can any more than you can control death. I’m not necessarily a guru when it comes to relationships or anything, but I read a lot of books and watch a lot of TV. A mutual separation is something I rarely see in these representations of the drama we call “Life on Earth.” You don’t often see amicable goodbyes. And even if you did, that wouldn’t truly be a “loss” because, for example, two separated individuals who can co-parent as a team never loose one another from their lives. Someone who removes themselves completely from their significant others lives or their family’s lives is a loss. Take Cecilia Ahern’s “P.S. I Love You,” for example.

Holly: My husband died. He was taken. He didn’t wanna go, he didn’t wanna leave.

Patricia: Yes, my husband wanted to leave. And it’s so much easier being abandoned by choice, is it?

You can try. You can try fiercely to keep someone from leaving you. But sometimes all the good you can do in the world can’t keep other people from carrying out the decisions they’ve already made.

It’s arguable which form of loss hurts more: a break-up or a death. Break-ups are horrendous. Unrequited love? The worst. Nothing sucks more than scaring away a friend because you had to go and develop feelings which you REALLY had no control over, and they didn’t develop back.

When I think over the people who broke my heart, I realize I could have saved myself a lot of ache if I had never loved at all. But what if I had never even known they existed? I guess I couldn’t imagine never having them in my life. They may be a distant memory now, a “no one” with whom I can no longer pick up the phone and say “hello” to. But at least I know they’re still there. And at one time or another, they were a big part of my days. They meant something to a younger me. They made me who I am. My mom always tells me that maybe you experience these things so that you can know happiness. How would you know what it’s like to be happy if you had never been sad? I’d like to say that’s a bullshit explanation, because then the world would just be a little cruel. But maybe it’s true. I can’t think of a more feasible reason. So I guess I would still rather have loved.

I can say, though, that all the times I would complain about never having a boyfriend and then hearing everyone and their mother tell me I was “young and didn’t need one and would be thankful one day” have actually proved to be my motivation to fight for the “never loved at all” side. That’s probably because it’s easier never knowing what, or who, you miss out on. But the time I spent being single gave me a chance to learn how to love myself, rather than experience more “loves and losses” who may have further bruised me as an individual. Yikes. It’s like high school; who would ever want to go through that more times than necessary?

The Art of Getting Caught Unawares: “Got a Pen and Paper?”

EXT. BOSTON CVS - EVENING.

ME leaves the entrance of the store and begins strolling down the sidewalk of a busy Boston street. A cell phone starts ringing. ME looks down questioningly at the screen of their iPhone.

Me: Hm. Should I answer this call right now? I’m not even sure who it is. I recognize the area code; that’s about it.

Letting it go to voicemail.

Wait. That may mean it’s someone I possibly know… Great, about 4 rings gone, it’s now or never - ?! - ugh, fine. Hello?

*Garbage truck drives by*

Them: Hello kjdsakwnekl; ssa?

Me: Yup. Mistake. I can’t even hear these people. And by the formality in their voice that I WAS able to catch, I can tell this call will require my “making an impression” voice.Ugh. Time to turn it on: I’m sorry, what’s that?

*Stops abruptly and turns phone away from the street to avoid the apparent grinding of concrete happening somewhere.*

Them: Hi, this is so-and-so calling. How are you today?

Me: Oh, I was actually waiting for this. Good call on picking it up.

*Voice dials up about two notches on the pitchy scale.*

Oh, yes! Hi! I’m good! How are you?! Maybe if I act extra excited they’ll think I was just casually sitting in a quiet room, waiting for this moment, and not caught unawares in a mid-city commute.

Them: I’m doing well. I have that information you requested. Do you have a pen and paper on you?

Me: A pen and paper? Shit.

*Starts looking frantically about surroundings. Realizes still at a dead halt in the middle of the sidewalk, shouting into the receiver of the phone, and people are having to walk around.*

Jeez, they don’t look happy. Whisper. Just whisper.

Um, yes, yes… Hold on just one second while I grab one… Shit! I’m standing in the middle of the street right now, where am I going to look?

*Moves to the edge of the sidewalk to hug the wall of a building.*

Hm… I’m sorry, I should have one here. How long has it been since I’ve been “grabbing a pen and paper paper”?? Oh - purse! Purse has a pen. Score! Now paper… Hm. The side of this brown paper CVS bag will do. Okay! I’ve got it! Ready. What is it? Phew.

Them: Reads off the number.

Me: Great! Awesome.

*Writes down the number, after which some conversation ensues sounding slightly like, “Blah Blah Blah” - hangs up. Sigh of relief.*

Me: Sweating. I’m sweating. But hey, I think I pulled that off. Seems like no one is looking at me AND THEM will never know I was standing on a busy street, blocking sidewalk traffic, and transcribing what they said on the side of a bag containing tampons. I think it was a success. Now, if I could only just remember NOT to throw this bag away when I get home…

xxlillymaexx asked: Rachel Joyce is such an amazing author... Gahh it's a great book! I think I cried

Definitely! I haven’t gotten to the end yet but I’m foreseeing that kind of reaction for myself already!

Massachusetts Doesn’t Count

There’s one game out there that’s absolutely supposed to drive everyone Americrazy. We’re all proud to be housed in the land of the free; at home with the brave. But 50 states? That is quite a few to remember. And if you can’t name ‘em in 10 minutes, well, they say it’s likely you’ll never be able to name ‘em all on your own. Myth?

We shall see. In honor of the recent passing of the 4th of July (anyone else wonder how, after we stopped talking all fancy, we decided not to change this to July 4th along with all the other dates?), I’m disabling Google, my Maps app, and - Tumblr - I’m taking you on (mostly because no one else wants to play with me 😢).

On your keyboards.

Get type-ready.

GO.

(1) Maine, (2) New Hampshire, (3) Vermont, (4) New York, (5) Rhode Island, (6) Connecticut, (7) Pennsylvania, (8) Delaware, (9) Maryland, (10) New Jersey, (11) Ohio, (12) Indiana, (13) Illinois, (14) Minnesota, (15) Michigan, (16) North Carolina, (17) South Carolina, (18) Virginia, (19) West Virginia, (20) Kentucky, (21) Tennessee, (22) Georgia, (23) Alabama, (24) Florida, (25) Mississippi (Yes! halfway there!), (26) Louisiana, (27) Arkansas, (28) Kansas, (29) Nebraska, (30) Nevada, (31) Utah, (32) Arizona, (33) Oklahoma, (34) Texas, (35) Idaho, (36) Iowa, (37) Montana, (38) South Dakota, (39) North Dakota, (40) California, (41) Washington, (42) Oregon, (43) Alaska, (44) Hawaii, (45) Missouri (Okay I’m starting to struggle here…), (46)  Wyoming, (47) Wisconsin (Are you sure there are more states out there??), (48) Colorado, (49) (Two to go!) New Mexico, (50)

Ugh. Okay. I give up. 49! I ended up with 49 states and I must say, at this point I’ve given myself a fair amount of time. Now to look at a map and realize how dumb I am for forgetting some ridiculously obvious state…

HOLY MOTHER - I forgot Massachusetts. The state that I reside in and am currently sitting in.

Hey, I never said I was smart.

It’s funny to see, nevertheless, how everyone plays this game. I know there’s various strategies, but geographically is how I first start. I set out from my home region of New England, at the most north-east tip, and work my way south east, south west, then jump over to the west coast, then try to tackle all those jumbled up states somewhere in the middle that I really don’t know but can only picture as flat nothingness. When I hit a dead end there, I go over them alphabetically until I convince myself that everyone else is lying and that no, there are NOT 50 states. There just aren’t.

In case you think you can beat me and top my record of 49 states, take a practice run or two on Sporcle and let me know when you’re ready to show me up.

Until then - I do have something that I think can redeem myself with. I once had these all down-packed, but it’s been a while now. Let’s see if I can get the 23 Provinces of Argentina:

(1) Buenos Aires, (2) Catamarca, (3) Cordoba, (4) Corrientes, (5), Entre Rios, (6) Jujuy, (6) Neuquen, (7) Rio Negro, (8) Santa Fe, (9) Santa Cruz, (10) San Juan, (11), San Luis, (12) Santiago del Estero, (13) Tucuman, (14) Tierra del Fuego, (15) Rosario, (16) Mendoza, (17) Chaco

That’s it. I can only get 17.

Here’s what I forgot: Chubut, Formosa, La Pampa, La Rioja, Misiones, and Salta. Darn, those sound so familiar now.

Thanks, Sporcle. You are an awesome tool for learning states, and even the countries of Europe (which I once also attempted in college and when I had nothing better to do with my time, thinking I was a horrible International Relations minor for not knowing where any of the countries were, let alone that they existed, and learned quite a few. But to try again now would be to embarrass myself further past my failed Argentine Provinces attempt at redemption…)