When Shows End: The Five Stages of Grief

You know the feeling when you finish a really good book? Or a really good series of books? It’s happy and sad and emotional to the point where it’s physically uncomfortable. Those characters that you know so well have grown up, moved on, or if it’s Shakespeare then they’ve all died. (But only lunatics read Shakespeare for fun so screw that.)
I get a similar sense of nostalgia when I finish a T.V series. What I’m trying to say is that How I Met Your Mother ended a few weeks ago and it was radical in the sense that my life hasn’t been quite the same ever since. We watched it on our futon and Andie cried. It was one of the most emotionally-packed hours of my life, but by far the moment that got me the worst was when pictures of the main characters from the first season flashed across the screen with the theme song playing in the background. I’m a pretty nostalgic person, and this kind of stuff gets me every time.
One of the only other shows I’ve felt a connection to that rivals How I Met Your Mother is Malcolm in the Middle. When my family finally invested in Netflix, the first thing I did was watch the pilot episode and series finale back to back. It’s turned into a ritual, and I’ve done it probably two or three times since. I get pretty emotional every time. I’m not sure what this says about me.
Then, you enter the Five Stages of Grief: Netflix edition. It’s okay. We know what you’re going through.

Stage One: Shock- Yup, it’s over. Those characters are done saying those witty things, whatever happened at the end of Breaking Bad happened, and you have no idea what to do with yourself. I’d suggest talking it out, but make sure you don’t ruin the end for someone because then you are the worst.

Stage Two: Grief- Now it’s been twenty minutes since the credits rolled and all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position and be nostalgic for seasons past. It’s okay. Let it all out.
*(Avoid dwelling in this stage for too long. Remember, it’s just a show. There are plenty of series on Netflix, and you’ve got an affinity for procrastination.)

Stage Three: Anger- That finale was total crap. What were the writers thinking? Those two people were not meant to be together. All the wrong people died. Were the really dead the whole time? I demand a re-write.

Stage Four: Re-Infatuation- Suddenly it dawns on you that you can watch the entire thing from the beginning again! Or at least your favorite episodes here and there. You start listening to songs from the soundtrack again and when you hear Bizarro by Citizen King, (a gem from the Malcolm in the Middle soundtrack,) you get really emotional. This too shall pass.

Stage Five: Acceptance- It’s over, and that’s okay. Maybe you go outside and get some fresh air. Maybe you actually start doing homework again. Maybe you start another show and continue to ignore all responsibility. Either way, you made it and we’re proud of you.

Playing Dress-Up

After getting back from dinner about an hour and a half ago, Julie and I realized that we both have obscene amounts of work to get done before we go to bed. Being the ambitious, organized, and dedicated students that we are, we decided to drop everything and try on all the dresses in both of our closets. 

We listened to this song. The whole thing probably should’ve been a movie montage.

So now we’re both sitting at our desks in semi-miserable silence, trying to work on important things and restrain ourselves from going back for a third serving from the 5-pound bag of M&Ms on our dresser. Well, I’m working on important things at least. It looks like Julie’s doing actual homework.

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(Candid #1. My flash went off, so she knows something’s up.)

In other news, I went to a ball this weekend.

If you’re one of the twelve people who have been following my blogging career from the beginning, you might remember my cousin Kristina, who runs a lot faster than she says she does and isn’t actually my biological cousin. She’s studying badass international things at Georgetown University, and she was kind enough to invite me to be her plus-one to the 89th Annual Diplomatic Ball. (She also dressed me head-to-toe and made me promise not to burp in front of anyone. What are fake cousins for, right?)


The ball was in an art gallery with marble floors and a grand staircase that made me feel like the princess in every movie ever aimed at twelve year old girls. (The Princess Diaries. Anastasia. A Cinderella Story. What A Girl Wants. Take your pick.) We ate little foods on sticks and mingled until we thought our feet were going to fall off. Towards the end of the night, after most of the diplomats had gone home, the jazz band was replaced by a DJ who played throwback club hits. Singing the lyrics to the third verse of “Yeah” by Usher (won’t stop til I get em in their birthday suuuuuits) in a ball gown at a swanky art gallery only a few blocks from the White House had to be one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. In an awesome kind of way.

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So, in conclusion, I have the best fake cousin in the world, and I am capable of going six hours without burping. (There were some nonbelievers before the swanky excursion.) For now I should probably go join Julie in doing actual homework. She migrated from her desk to her bed. I’m actually pretty impressed she hasn’t fallen asleep yet.

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(Candid #2. Waited ten minutes to see if a candid nap shot was a possibility, but no such luck. No flash this time though. I’m the best.)

Goodnight all. And Jules, I think you’re my new muse.

Sisterhood: The Norg Diaries

Now a few weeks ago, Hannah told you guys some stories about her little sister Sarah. The post was heartwarming and genuine, and it inspired me to dedicate a little something to my own pain in the butt. She’s tiny with big blue eyes and a radical overbite. When we go out to dinner and let her order whatever she wants, she asks for “the cookie.” You can always tell where she’s been in the house because she leaves behind a pile of half-dressed Barbie’s.


Her name is Norg, and she’s the best birthday present I’ve ever had.

A human as a birthday present sounds a little bizarre, but let me give you some back story. For the first ten years of my life I was the oldest of four children, and the only girl. Growing up with three brothers gave me the ability to pitch a baseball and an appreciation for Nerf guns, but I was left underdeveloped in other areas. I never got to watch Lizzie McGuire or other such Disney channel classics. All of my Barbie’s were mutilated. There was camaraderie and fighting and numerous wiffle ball games, but I never had a sister who’s hair I could play with. (Tom once offered to grow out his hair so I could have a sister, but eventually we figured out how genders work. Still, I appreciated the offer.)

Our lives screeched to a halt two days after my tenth birthday when Nora showed up, five weeks early. My mom’s water broke at a hair salon in the middle of the afternoon; Norg was waiting for no one. Aunts and uncles warned me I’d never have a birthday all to myself anymore, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the incredibly small person that fit into the crook of my elbow. She was perfect, she was tiny and beet red, and she was mine. I remember looking down at her and thinking, I didn’t know I could love something this much.

By the time we took her home, we came to the conclusion that she was a pretty lame baby. She slept like 90% of the time, (I guess premature babies sleep even more than normal babies,) and we couldn’t feed her or hold her too much because she was fragile. Being born into a family with four older siblings, she was probably the single most loved thing on the planet. One day in July we were swimming outside when my dad leaned his head out the window and called to us that Nora had opened her eyes; she was awake! We all scrambled over the sides of the pool and into the house to look. But four dripping wet children cooing in her face just made her cry, so we were sent away.

Though I loved Norg through her lame phase, I really wanted to know when she would start to be my sister. When could I feed her baby food and push her on the swing? When could I start dressing her? The only things that fit her were weird pajamas. When could I start doing her hair?? She really needed to grow some more hair.

And eventually Norg did grow up into a person who doesn’t sleep all day. Now she’s nine and killing it in the third grade. She takes gymnastics and figure skating lessons and plans to go to the Olympics in either one or both events. She wants to be a school guidance counselor when she grows up so she can help kids when they’re sad. She’s pretty uncoordinated, but she still seems to dance rather than walk. She’s really into Frozen.

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And I still can’t believe that I could love someone this much. (These pictures really capture her essence.)

And even though we created games over the years like “Poke Nora Until She Screams” and given her nicknames like “Norg,” and bounced her so high on the trampoline that she flew over the net, she’s still one of the most loved humans on planet Earth. And Norg, if you’re reading this, then I just have one thing to say.

You farted.


The Beast: College and Anxiety

anxiety (n.) – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically concerning an imminent event or situation with an uncertain outcome.

Up until about ten minutes ago, this post was going to be about pillow talk. Late night laughs, early morning chats, waking up to your roommate hanging her head down from the top bunk and whispering, “Hann? Hey Hann, are you up yet?” (Jules gets bored up there pretty fast.)

But I couldn’t focus as I sat down to write that post. My eyes kept wandering from the computer screen. My palms clammed up. I looked at the clock and realized almost ten minutes had gone by, and I’d done nothing but stare out the window and wring my hands.

I was feeling very anxious.

Rationally, there was nothing abnormal I needed to worry about. Julie and I had been laughing over breakfast with Andie only a few hours before. But my chest tightened, my heart began to race, and I could feel my thoughts start to turn dark. Anxiety attack. Just thinking the words made my stomach jolt. No Hann, you’re not having an anxiety attack. You’re okay. You’re okay.

I took three deep breaths and looked away from my computer screen, relaxing the muscles in my shoulders and recognizing that my workload had me feeling stressed. The breathing slowed my heartbeat. The knot in my chest loosened. Phew. I’m good. I’ll try to get to everything tonight. I’m good. When I returned to my laptop to keep brainstorming ideas for my post, I realized that pillow talk was going to have to wait.

Anxiety and the college experience. I think this one’s important.

If you’re not in college, it may surprise you to hear that anxiety can be a major part of your educational adventure. College is where you pursue your interests and meet your best friends and maybe your soulmate and go to great parties every weekend, right? What could there possibly be to worry about?

I’m not saying college isn’t awesome, because it is. The friends, the parties, the sporadic realizations that you’re actually excited about what you’re studying– it’s all here. But college can be really hard sometimes too. Living away from your parents for the first time presents challenges. Professors demand a different kind of work than they did in high school. Relationships can be tricky to navigate, and money becomes this mythical thing that you can only aspire to one day have. There’s more to worry about than you might expect, and everything feels heightened by the seemingly constant reminder that this is as good as it gets, kid, enjoy it while you can.

We are adults, but we are not quite adults. The uncertainty of the in-between can be an unexpected trigger for anxiety. (Not to mention college-age students are still kind of in the wacky hormone stage of human development, so sometimes we just get the irrational urge to cry or punch things. Always a good time.)

Jules and I usually like to share our happier adventures with you guys, because we are very lucky and have quite a lot of them. But today I’d like to share something a little more personal. A few months ago, I had a pretty serious bout of anxiety. I started having frequent panic attacks at school. I had trouble falling asleep. The simplest of decisions made me so nervous I wanted to cry, and when I did cry, I couldn’t even explain why I was so upset. A sadness set in that I just couldn’t shake. It was a strange, pervasive uneasiness that left me feeling nutty, helpless, and alone.

I tell you this not to depress the hell out of you, but to share with you what I’ve learned since then. Anxiety is scary, but it is normal, and it is everywhere. In evolutionary terms, it motivates us to do the things we need to do in order to not die. (Eat food. Drink water. Avoid killer snakes.) But sometimes it sticks around for longer than we need it to.

Anxiety comes in a lot of forms, and everyone experiences it differently. Some people feel anxious as the result of situational experience. Others are genetically predisposed to worry and depression. One of my biggest struggles in overcoming my anxious episodes was the fact that I couldn’t pinpoint why I was so unsettled. Sometimes there just isn’t a logical explanation for anxiety or depression, and that’s okay. Brain chemicals can be weird.

Above all else, I learned that anxiety is more common than I ever could have imagined. I began opening up to people I felt comfortable with– my family, my friends, even that weird roommate I share a blog with– and almost all of them answered with something along the lines of, yeah, I’ve felt like that before too. I was floored by the number of fellow college students especially who told me that they’d recently had feelings of anxiety/depression. It was like we’d all been secretly struggling to fight the same beast, too embarrassed or scared or proud to admit that we’d let the beast out of its cage in the first place.

If you’re dealing with symptoms of anxiety or depression, please know that you are not crazy, and you are not alone. It’s almost silly how hard we fight to keep it all inside sometimes. Admitting you’re not okay can be the hardest part, but I’ve learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.

With support from the best group of family and friends a person could ever ask for, I was able to get the help I needed to befriend my anxiety. Befriend it– not conquer it. Anxiety is still a big part of my life. It always has been, and it probably always will be. But that’s okay. I have my people, my yoga mat, my journal. I can get through whatever the beast may bring.

So I’m going to leave you with 1) this song, which seems a tiny bit relevant in an angsty-soundtrack kind of way, and 2) the challenge to try to be honest with yourself and the people you love. I didn’t admit that I wasn’t okay for a long time, and it made things a lot worse. I know it can be scary, but if you’re feeling anxious, confide in a friend. If your roommate’s not being himself, ask him if he wants to talk. We don’t have to take this beast on alone.

What’s A Ski?!

For most of my life, I assumed I was a pretty cool person. I did things. I had talents. I could do back flips on trampolines and off of swingsets. I could rollerblade like a champ. One time I caught a massive purple jellyfish at the beach in a plastic bucket. Hell, one time I even jumped out of a plane.

Then I moved in with Hannah. As we made our beds and unpacked our bags after Christmas break, she asked me if she could keep her skis by my bed. Of course, I’d said. Roommate harmony continued. When friends walked into our room and looked around, their eyes always seemed to stop on the skis propped against my desk.

“Do you ski?” they’d ask. And every time I answered no, I got the same incredulous response.


You don’t ski??”

This was usually followed by a “lame,” or a “what the hell,” and after a while I got defensive about my lack of mountain experience. I refused to apologize for never having skied and insisted that it wasn’t that cool anyway. That is, until I tried it.

Over winter break, Hannah invited me to her ski condo, fed me chocolate chip cookies, took me snowshoeing, lent me gear, and taught Andie and I to ski. (In case you were wondering, it is in fact possible to have a roommate that is this cool.) On day one we snowshoed.


Despite what it looks like, we had a good time.

Then the day arrived. We put on all of the necessary articles. (There are so many things you have to wear when you ski.) We tried helplessly to adjust to walking in ski boots. Hannah made sure we looked legit (though I’m not even sure what “legit” looks like), and we tried not to blow our cover by saying something stupid. A second after I said this, Andie shouted, “What’s a ski?!” while flailing her arms in the air.

The day went by incredibly fast, and we had so much fun. Our friends were patient and helpful and they laughed at us when we fell. The cold air tasted so good. And the day was basically one big photo op.


So now that I’ve seen what I’m missing, I feel a little bit more lame for not actively skiing more. I’m not too worried though, I can still rollerblade.

I Have a Sister

Up until this point in my blogging career I’ve really only mentioned my sister in passing, which was brought to my attention when she recently texted me something along the lines of UGH WHY AM I NEVER IN YOUR BLOG POSTS. So I thought I’d take this time to tell you a little bit about my darling, talented, funny, compassionate, pain-in-the-ass sister, with whom I am now madly in love with.

But I’ll get to the madly in love part a little later. Because before around 2008, my little sister was the Devil.

Sarah was the kind of younger sister who would hit me and then put herself in timeout. (She was three and I was six.) I was the kind of older sister who cried when Sarah bit me, but refused to retaliate because even at a young age I understood the importance of nonviolent conflict resolution. (My mom has often referred to this affinity for wisdom and understanding as “being a wuss,” which I have chosen to respectfully ignore.) Sarah used to make fun of me, jump on me, swear at me, and imitate me until I thought my brain would fall out of my own head. To be fair, I was an even nerdier child than I am a college student, so Sarah had a lot of good material to work with. But the sisterhood was pretty rocky there for a decade or so.

To say I never retaliated would be a bit of a lie. I sang at the top of my lungs a lot, especially when Sarah was around. (My mom particularly enjoyed this phase.) My nerdiness got me some stellar grades, and the older-sister-academic-legacy is a surprisingly powerful weapon in the sibling game. One time I got so fed up with her bullying, I stuck my foot out and pushed her onto the hardwood floor, hard. My parents punished me, but revealed years later that this was actually a pretty proud moment for them (look at the wuss! she’s standing up for herself!).

Then sometime around my sophomore year in high school, it dawned on me that Sarah was actually kind of cool. She had turned twelve and no longer tried to bite me. She was tall and gawky and funny and good at sports, and she could sing. Boy, could she sing–way better than I ever did when I belted in the backseat of the car to drive her crazy. That girl had a voice like a chorus of baby angels.

Smack dab in the middle of our awkward phases, we had a photo shoot. Sarah’s going to kill me but I really think these pictures are important to your understanding of us as humans.




So I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but the Devil and I became friends. Best friends, actually. And the Devil wasn’t the Devil anymore– she had been replaced by this really witty and wonderful person who shared my DNA. I suppose that person had been there all along, I’d just been too distracted by the abuse/assault to see her.

After I went to college, Sarah and I went from best friends to soul mates. (It’s a lot easier to be someone’s soul mate when that someone is too far away to clog your shower with her hair.) I call her to tell her about my day. She consistently sends me this snapchat.


She and Jules get along well enough I guess.


And now, I’ve put her in a blog post.

So Sar, this one’s for you. Never stop doing that thing with your hip.





On Perms and Procrastination

Are you looking for new and exciting ways to actively not do schoolwork on the weekends? Of course you are. Lately, Hannah and I have taken to a new form of procrastination that comes in handy especially on Sundays when you have nowhere to be except the library. So if you’re ever bored and kind of hungry, try our latest tip:

Sitting in the dining hall for hours on end.

You know the drill. You go there for breakfast and take your time. You wait those extra ten minutes for a fancy omelet (entirely worth it), and you settle in. There’s something about the dining hall on a Sunday that just feels homey. Maybe it’s the seemingly-endless supply of muffins. Maybe it’s the whimsical combination of Michelle Branch and the Backstreet Boys that plays on a loop. Maybe it’s the fact that walking out the door means you have to acknowledge the mountains of work that you’ve been ignoring all week. You’ve got no classes or meetings to attend, and this booth is just so comfy. And you’ll never get bored when armed with this list of fun suggestions to keep you busy while you loaf for hours in your dining hall of choice.

  1. Experiment with different hair styles. (This is me considering a perm).


2. Find new ways to accessorize with scarves. (Andie’s specialty).


3. And, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can go for the full teletubby transformation. (For advice, see Hannah).


Then, there’s always the art of leaving. You stand up and survey the cluttered mess of dished you’ve managed to accumulate over the hours and wonder how you’re going to carry it all out in one trip. The game of dish-Jenga begins. Cup fits inside the mug, fork and knife on top of the napkin so it doesn’t flutter away while you hopelessly swat for it with your hands full. Then, as you walk down the stairs with the careful deliberation of a pageant queen, something goes clattering to the floor. It was probably the knife. Goddammit.