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Academia

Finals and Pineapples

(Note: I wrote this post last night around 11:45. It’s a little all over the place, but it’s raw and emotional, you know? A glimpse at what finals do to the psyche. This is a psychological exposé, really.)

The semester is almost over! Finals week is an uphill battle, my friends, and one time Julie and I climbed a mountain, which is also kind of an uphill battle, so I thought the picture would be fitting. Also, the phrase “uphill battle” will never not remind me of that Miley Cyrus song that she wrote for the Hannah Montana movie or the Nicholas Sparks one with the horrifically sad ending or whatever. There’s always gonna be another mountain, she’s always gonna want to make it mooooove. (The mountain, I’m assuming. Although she could also be talking about final exams. Pretty sure we’d all like to make them move. To never.)

I did a solid 8 hours in the library today. Can you tell?

(That wasn’t a humble brag, but okay, that was kind of a humble brag. Eight hours. My name is champion.)

In other news, Julie and I took a fiction class this semester. My friend Matt knew that we were taking a fiction class this semester. Matt is also 1) a reddit follower, 2) a Harry Potter fan, and 3) very fond of pineapples. I have compiled the following list and put it on the Internet because someday, I want to show it to my grandchildren.

Things My Friend Matt Texted Me This Semester:

  • Sept. 9, 11:32 AM: “Writing prompt of the day: murder is legal as long as the weapon is a pineapple. GO.”
  • Sept. 16, 11:11 AM: “Writing prompt of the day: a Muggle manages to sneak into the sorting ceremony. What happens?”
  • Sept. 21, 12:22 PM: “Writing prompt of the day: Gordon Ramsay is the new Hogwarts potions professor.”
  • Sept. 22, 11:34 PM: “Hi I’m Hannah Drake. Fiction writer.”
  • Sept. 25, 11:05 AM: “Writing prompt of the day: a group therapy session for guardian angels of horrible people.”
  • Oct. 12, 5:29 PM: “Send me that picture of me sleeping on my shoe.”
  • Oct. 21, 11:16 AM. “Any car that Tom Cruise drives is in cruise control. THINK ABOUT IT.”
  • Dec. 12, 2:09 AM “Also, I’m gonna start up a butter company called ‘butter from another utter.’”

So, yeah. Matt rocks. Finals don’t. Pineapples are somewhere in the middle.

See you on the other side, my friends.

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Pop Culture

Sunday Night Tragedy (Major Newsroom Spoiler)

Guys, there’s only one thing that gets Hannah and me through each week. It’s a glorious hour every Sunday from 9 to 10 pm. We keep this in the backs of our minds and it carries us through the Monday-Friday drudgery, come hell or high water or finals. If Sunday was a never-ending tunnel of procrastinated homework and raininess, which it usually is, then this one-hour block of television is the light at the end of that tunnel.

It’s our favorite TV show. Now, since this post is going to include all of the spoilers, I won’t mention it by name. Let’s call it The Rewsnoom, how about that? Last night, like all Sundays, Hannah and I frantically googled our University’s channel guide to HBO at 8:59. We found it in with seconds to spare and settled into the couch with a bag of M&M’s between us. Then the most emotional hour of our lives ensued.

They killed off our favorite character. Granted, all of the characters are either our favorite characters or our least favorite characters (it’s one of those), but still. This guy was the core of the show. From the first scene when you met him, you knew he was going to mean the world to you.

What you didn’t know is that he’d break your goddamn heart with one episode left of the series.

Yes, you read that correctly. The next episode of the series finale, and we were completely blindsided. Hann and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes and whispered, what the fuck?? The light at the end of our tunnel flickered and died.

(Sidenote: that dramatically-lit picture at the top represents nothing about the show except for the fact that it features the actors. The way they’re positioned makes little to no sense.)

So that’s where I’m at. Coping, I guess. I’ll accept kindly-worded grief cards and fruit baskets to help ease my pain, if you needed any ideas. And if you’re going through some similar television-spurred emotions, I recommend looking at a previous post about the Five Stages of Mourning the end of a TV series. We’ll get through this.

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The Gym

Fainting Only Happens in the Movies, Probably

I think fate tapped me on the shoulder and said, hey, you should blog about yoga this week. A few things happened recently.

  • Julie and I got our caricatures done, as pictured above. (The guy was this close on the blog name. If only we’d switched seats.)
  • I made a scene in my favorite Bikram studio on Thanksgiving morning.
  • My mom turned to me afterwards and said, “hey, you should blog about yoga this week!”

It’s been a while since I wrote about yoga. (Check out http://hannahdoingyoga.com for some old posts about back sweat and inflexibility. Sometimes I’m funny.) I’ve really missed it, actually. I could talk about yoga for hours. Jules could too. Just ask anyone we’ve ever met at a party.

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But the real reason I’m writing this post is because I almost died in the Bikram studio the other day, and I’d really like to tell you about it. Other people have told me tons stories in which they faint or come close to fainting. My vision started to go out, they say, everything went black. And this does sound really scary. But, like I said, it happened to other people, so part of me couldn’t help but be like, it’s definitely not that bad. I’m way too special to faint, anyways. Fainting was just never on my radar, you know? As a child I caught a lot of colds, had a lot of anxiety about going to the movies (scary trailers did me in), and puked off of an impressive number of chairlifts, but I never passed out at the doctor’s office or anything. Fainting only happened in movies, probably.

All of these idiotic thoughts were still living in the back of my head when I walked into the Bikram studio at 7:55am on Thanksgiving morning. The room was a toasty 105 degrees, one of my favorite instructors was teaching the 8am class, and I was ready to get sweaty. And fifteen minutes into the practice, I almost fainted.

I say almost because I didn’t actually hit the ground, but I have to imagine that I was close. We were in our second set of this pose, hands-to-feet: (I look just like this, I swear)

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And when I released my heels and came back up to standing, the world started fading out. It was like when you stand up too fast and see dark spots, except the dark spots didn’t go away. They got bigger, drifted around a bit, and then they turned yellow.

The world started to go dark, but the darkness didn’t fade in from the corners like it always does in Harry Potter movies when he falls off his broom or something. Shadows moved randomly everywhere I looked. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror, two feet away. I was definitely going to throw up. And even though she was standing less than ten feet away, I couldn’t hear our instructor anymore. Her voice was replaced completely by a loud ringing in my ears and a very anxious inner monologue.

I’m dying. I am definitely dying. This is it, Hann, this is how people die, in hot rooms with weird yellow vision. It’s a stroke probably, or a heart attack, or maybe shell shock. Shell shock makes the least sense, but you never know, right? It’s going to make for a strange headline in tomorrow’s newspaper for sure. But I won’t be able to see it, because I will be dead.

After a few minutes Laura looked at me and said, “Hannah, would you like to go grab a Gatorade outside? You look a little pale.” I nodded and started walking towards the door, past a sea of sweaty, blurry people. I tapped my mom on the shoulder on my way out and said something along the lines of, “heymomcanyoupleasecomewithmeIdontfeelsogood,” like all sophisticated yogis would if they knew they were dying in the middle of the yoga studio. My mom waited five minutes—she had to finish the warm-up series, after all—then came outside to check on my survival status. (She claims she would’ve come right away if I’d actually hit the floor. But I have my doubts.)

Somehow, I survived. This wasn’t the first time I’ve said that I was surprised to be alive after a Bikram practice, but it is the first time I was actually surprised to be alive after a Bikram practice. I really thought it was game over there for a second. Like, red ring of death on your Xbox and your mom said she’d never buy you another, game over. (That’s still a thing, right?) My Thanksgiving dinner tasted like sweet potatoes and second chances.

So, to all my friends who have ever told me stories about fainting, I am sorry for being such an arrogant dumbass. You never knew it, because it was in my head, but I was. And now I’ve learned my lesson. Fainting is fucking nuts.

Final note: finals are rapidly approaching. (Pun intended.) Julie and I probably aren’t sleeping until Christmas. Stay tuned.

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Off-Campus

Europe, Yoga, Concerts: The Mantra

Last night I volunteered to pick up a shift at work for a friend, because I am the best. I was already scheduled to work 9-11:30 and then again from 12:30-2, but I thought hey, what’s a few more hours? I don’t have anything else to be doing. Those, my friends, are the thoughts of a student in denial.

“Are you really not that busy?” Hannah asked last night when I’d told her what I’d done.

I really didn’t think that I was. We leave for Thanksgiving break tomorrow, so what could possibly be that pressing? Then I realized the following things:

  1. I had yet to even think about what I was going to post today.
  2. I had three fiction stories to read for Tuesday.
  3. I was also behind on two neurology labs.

Hannah and I locked eyes and I whisper-yelled, “FUCK.” (Note: this is not remotely the first, nor the last time this will happen to me. I could write an entire post about times I’ve said fuck too loudly in quiet, public places. Yoga studios, libraries, CVS pharmacies, you name it.)

But here I am. I left work at two, managed to not fall asleep for an hour, and came back to the office for three. Slaving away, and by slaving away I mean writing this blog post. It’s not the end of the world, because there’s always one mantra that I keep in the back of my mind while I toil away at my work-study job. Hannah and I like to refer to it on rainy Mondays when we’re feeling down.

Europe, yoga, concerts. Over the summer, when I briefly held both a full-time and a part-time job, Hannah helped me maintain my sanity by reminding me why we were doing all of this. We have an end-goal, a reason for our strife.

First and craziest, we’ll both be spending the upcoming spring semester in Europe. I’ll be in Ireland and Hannah will be in Spain, and neither one of us wants to starve while we’re there. I thought of every paycheck I got as another plane ticket to spend a weekend in a different country. And with that mindset, I can do pretty much anything.

Second and third, our yoga memberships are tragically not free, and we have no self-control when it comes to buying concert tickets. I told myself at the beginning of the summer that I wouldn’t buy tickets to any shows this fall, I really did. Then everyone we loved announced that they were going on tour and before we knew it we had tickets to four concerts in four weeks. The giant picture above is us straight-facing with a band that opened for Walk The Moon.

Just in case you didn’t catch that, Hannah and I will be studying abroad next semester! You’re probably wondering what will happen to this blog. You’re probably also wondering how we’re going to manage to live in separate countries for five months. Now please, stop hyperventilating. It’ll be okay. We’ll be posting from our respective countries every week, and Hann and I think that going on our own separate adventures will be a growing experience for both of us. And until then, we’ve got the mantra to keep us going.

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Academia

Hey, I Know English Too!

“Oh, so you’re an English major? Do you, uh, plan on getting a job when you graduate?” –something more than three people have actually said to me in the last six months

You know how Harry Potter was destined to save the wizarding world from evil? Well, I was destined to become an English major. (For about five minutes at the start of freshman year, I thought that I was destined to become a Russian major. I wasn’t.) My lit teacher senior year of high school told us that a former student of hers was studying English at a liberal arts school in upstate New York or western Pennsylvania or something. The former student was taking a semester-long class devoted solely to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Upon hearing this, I turned to the girl sitting next to me and mouthed, the horror! (Unrelated note: Julie was in this class with me for an entire year. She sat at the opposite side of the classroom and we spoke maybe twice. Star-crossed lovers.)

Now, let’s pause here for a second. I thought my joke was totally hilarious because 1) reading Heart of Darkness is kind of like slogging through a muddy swamp in Old Navy flip flops and 2) I am a nerd. (If it’s been a long time since your last high school lit class, the horror! The horror! is what Kurtz says at the end of the Heart of Darkness just before he dies. He’s talking about human nature or vegan chicken or something.) I don’t remember exactly how the girl sitting next to me reacted—if I had to guess, she laughed politely and then quickly left the room—but I chuckled to myself at my literary pun for a long time. I mean a long time. How did I not realize that English was my destiny?

Before I became an English major, I asked the same questions that you would. What could you possibly do with four years’ experience studying literature? How could that translate into anything remotely practical? Are beanies and oversized eyeglasses required to gain entry into a Shakespearean lit class?

To answer your most important question: no, beanies are optional. (Oversized glasses are strongly recommended, though. That’s why I got a pair this summer. People can smell your intellect.) But when I declared an English major, I found that people tend to have questions. And comments. And a lot of confidence that I’m never going to get a job.

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“So, you want to be a teacher, right?” Nope. Nope I don’t.

“You’re an English major? Hey, I know English too!” Everyone thinks they’re the first to come up with that one.

“English? So… what are you going to do with that?” I mean, I was kind of planning on doodling Toni Morrison quotes on park benches for the rest of my life, but now you’ve really got me thinking!

“What’s your favorite book?” I like this question, I really do. But it feels like my answer should be terrific. I usually go with On the Road by Jack Kerouac because it’s avant-garde, yet classic. (Plot twist: I have never read On the Road by Jack Kerouac.)

So yes, I take classes like “Introduction to Shakespeare” and “Contemporary American Literature.” I write scenes about people who only exist in my head and I say words like doppelganger and synecdoche out loud when I probably shouldn’t. But when I have a thought, or a weird feeling, or a crazy idea, I can bring it to life. That’s a practical skill, if you can believe it. Just look at any book, article, headline, or advertisement that’s ever been published. For me, being an English major is all about finding the right words, putting them in order, and making you see what I see. It’s like inception or telepathy. Being an English major is like being a magician, basically. We are wordsmiths in training. So you can keep telling me how unemployable I am—I don’t mind. If you need me, I’ll be over here making magic.

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Food and Friends

Back Sweat and Jazz Hands: A Birthday to Remember

Post by: Heather Krill

Thank you Hannah and Julie for allowing me to be your guest blogger!  All I wanted for my 40th birthday was to travel some place warm and sunny to relax with my friends. Ten other women from different chapters of my life joined me in Fort Lauderdale for a weekend of celebration. As a happily married woman, mother of two small children, and high school English teacher, I know better than to belabor you with the details of our people-watching at the beach, reminiscing about college, or receiving an exciting visit from Ft. Lauderdale’s finest fireman due to an oven malfunction one night during dinner. Instead, I’ll share two new exercise experiences which showed me more about my friends than even a bottomless bottle of wine ever could have.

Having been an avid reader of Hannah’s yoga blog last summer, I felt adequately prepared to attend a Bikram yoga class. Her mother, Rina, wanted to “treat” me to sweaty yoga for a birthday “gift.” Another friend, Michelle, decided Bikram yoga was also something she would like to try on this ladies’ weekend away from all things stressful in regular life. Family and friends who know and love Rina also understand she is a bit of a masochist when it comes to exercise. So with an empty stomach, a full water bottle, and a rented yoga mat, we entered the 105 degree studio. My theme song, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, played in my mind, and I was ready to sweat. Always an athlete, I am not afraid of working hard, battling through discomfort, and challenging myself. What I was not prepared for was the perpetual fear of passing out or throwing up on the 65 year old yogi to my left or my equally pained friend, Michelle, on my right. Michelle and I hung in there for all of the positions, stretches, flips from back to front and back again. But then the nausea overtook me, and I worried I would not be able to reach my towel quickly enough to catch the vomit. Would I be able to safely leap over the 30 other people “treating” themselves to Sunday morning yoga that stood between me and the door?

Let me clear: I was not hung-over. I had in fact just had the best night’s sleep since my 3 ½ year old had been born. I looked over at Rina who smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Surely, she thought this was the best gift ever. And I know the many benefits of Bikram; I just could not feel or observe any of them in the moment. It’s important to note that Michelle also looked close to death. Sensing our despair when I motioned Michelle toward the door, Maria, our instructor, told us just to lay flat on our mats and breathe through the next few positions. A rule follower by nature, I put my head back down and waited to either faint or projectile vomit. Neither happened immediately; however, upon exiting the hot room, I retreated to a very stylish and clean bathroom stall to throw up. I’m certain the other women in the locker room were whispering things like, “Poor thing- must be her first time,” or “She’ll get used to the heat.” And you must actually get used to the heat, or crazy people like Rina and Hannah wouldn’t return time and again. An hour or so later, I did feel fantastic- cleared pores, stretched muscles, and a quieter soul.

Just 24 hours later, Jolene, a self-proclaimed “jazzercise fanatic”, asked that we join her in a class which is combination of old school aerobics, Zumba, and modern jazz. Kris, with a K, bubbled with enthusiasm for out of town guests, prattling on about “just shakin’ it” and “bouncing that booty.” Students poured in from the streets, including an eighty-ish year old woman wearing a black sweatband and a red t-shirt that read An outfit isn’t complete without dog hair, and an Asian ball room dancer/ professional male ballerina wearing actual jazz shoes and flashing perfect teeth and jazz hands. After stretching and warming up, we brought our heart rates up with a variety of sashays, kick ball changes, chest pumps, and grapevines- all of which brought back memories of awkward dance classes in sixth grade when my own mother gently suggested that I should focus more on team sports. Kris with a K shouted out instructions in between phrases like, “You doin’ OK, Bud?” as Bud struggled to kick his foot six inches off the floor, and “Walk it sexy; walk it sexy! Shake it Bev, just shake it.” Bud was indeed OK and Bev was easily 75 and wore a beaded black hair accessory in her perfectly coiffed ponytail, clearly a cheerleader, gymnast, or majorette back in her day. Kris also updated the entire class on the latest celebrity profile of Justin Timberlake during a remixed Michael Jackson song. Her routines ended in complete musical synchronicity, jazz hands in the air—she/he was like a combination of an Olympic gymnast and an elegant orchestral conductor. 5500 steps on Fit Bit (the equivalent of 2.3 miles) later, we took our group picture atop the studio stage, sweating, laughing, and feeling well-jazzercised.

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We will return to our families having shared new experiences together like Bikram yoga and jazzercise, but I’ll probably stick to hiking mountains or jogging with my children in a double stroller. Like all good friends, whether 10, 20, 40, or 60, we challenge the ones we love to try new things and move beyond our comfort zone. These are the best gifts I could have received for my 40th birthday; I’m one lucky girl. Side note: on more than one occasion this trip, it came up that Rina had been to Fort Lauderdale for spring break in 1984. As I was only in fourth grade at the time, the only part I would have changed would have been our costumes for jazzercise. I imagined us all wearing leg warmers, matching terrycloth wrist and head sweatbands, high- hipped hot pink leotards and Flashdance sweatshirts with the neck scooped out to hang sexily off one shoulder; instead we wore the same clothes, laundered of course, we had worn to sweaty yoga holding only the memory of if not actual vomit.

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Off-Campus

Nannying: The Most Effective Form Of Birth Control

Much like abortion and America’s current political system, children are a polarizing subject. Some people love ‘em, others would prefer to never be around them ever. It seems like you’re either a “kid person” or you’re not. But there’s no wrong way to be.

I like to think that I had no choice but to be a “kid person.” I grew up with four younger siblings, and was blessed with a baby sister at age ten. So by the time I got to college, I felt like I’d already raised a child. I’d been changing diapers since I was in fifth grade, and I’d been extorted as free child care service by my parents for even longer. I could break up fights, dole out punishment, and was an expert at getting gum out of hair by the time I hit middle school.

But friends, that is not even close to the same thing as being a parent.

Like many college students, my goal this summer was to scrape together as much money as I could by working a job that I could land before I got my degree. Paid internships proved to be as elusive as four-leaf clovers or matching socks. So I was a nanny to four awesome kids. I was part stand-in older sister, part whiffle-ball referee, and part mom. I made lunches and wiped tears. I spent forty hours a week with these kids, and that was still an abridged version of parenting. That blew my mind. I got to punch out at the end of the day! I’d get in my car, roll the windows down and peel out, free until the next morning.

Now it’s not like I was planning on having a kid anytime soon, but people told me that this job was going to be great birth control. And it totally was. I loved every day of it, but I gained some respect for the parents of the world. You all deserve some type of cookie. I also gained some wisdom from being a part time mom. And here I thought I knew it all.

Part-Time Mom Wisdom:

  • It is impossible to please everyone at once.
  • Kid’s shows are undeniably the worst. Especially ones with singing.
  • Whoever invented the game “yellow car” was an evil person.
  • Kids will eat Ramen noodles for every meal forever, if you let them.
  • Razor scooters still rock.
  • Going to the beach with five kids makes the beach alarmingly less relaxing.

Below are some highlights.

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Quick photo shoot with this purple bush.

"I can hear everything you're saying because I have four ears!"

“I can hear everything you’re saying because I have four ears!”

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