I’m Not Rejecting You Because I Have A Boyfriend, I’m Rejecting You Because I’m Not F*cking Interested

Let’s talk for a minute about female autonomy. Yes, the crazy notion that women are independent sentient beings. You might be thinking, “Duh, everyone knows that women are capable of thinking and making decisions on their own,” but you’d be wrong. In the past few days, this has become painfully obvious to me.

In one of many disconcerting encounters this week, a man sidled up to me as I crossed the street and casually asked, “Can I buy you dinner tonight?” When I looked him in the eye and responded, “No,” in the clearest tone I could muster, he didn’t seem perturbed. “You got a boyfriend?” He asked, as if my saying yes would explain away my lack of interest in him. I didn’t respond. Instead, I stormed away, wondering why I was so angry about this particular interaction.

Three times this week I’ve been propositioned by strange men on the street, but this one stood out. It reminded me that many men still only respect women’s rejections when there’s a man involved.

Despite the fact that I said “No” to this stranger’s advances, he immediately wondered if it was because there’s another man I defer to. He didn’t think about the fact that I, a woman, could just be not interested.

So let’s be very clear: When I said “No” to this guy, it had nothing to do with the fact that I’m in a longterm relationship. It had to do with the fact that I didn’t fucking know him. Typically, I don’t agree to do anything with people I don’t know, let alone go on dates with complete strangers who ask me out in the middle of the crosswalk while I’m minding my own damn business.

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Unemployment Diaries: Don’t Call Me ‘Entitled’

Today I got the following comment on my ‘Unemployment Diaries: Week 1’ post:

This is honestly one of the most entitled, privileged things I think I’ve ever read. You chose to do fun stuff instead of buckling down and applying to new jobs. You have the luxury because of family and friends to just chill – maybe your coworkers who’ve already applied actually need the money to pay rent or buy groceries? You literally are in control of this entire situation, but you’re acting like the victim the entire time. Sucks that you lost your job, but you were able to (as you said) just take a vacation while many others would have to rush to find anything to pay the bills. Doesn’t seem like you have much to complain about here.

 

So I’d like the chance to formally respond.

When we, the employees of LittleThings, all found out that LittleThings was shutting down, we immediately went into a meeting with the Editor-in-Chief, who was kind enough to tell us what she knew about the impending closure.

In the meeting, most people were in complete shock. A few people were crying. Some people immediately started voicing their concerns about making rent and paying their bills. It only took me about thirty seconds after we got the shutdown email to realize that I was, in fact, in a privileged position.

Because you’re right, I am privileged. I have parents that live nearby, a boyfriend who I live with, and amazingly supportive friends and family. I have a savings account that could keep me afloat for a while, I don’t have student loans anymore, and I don’t have credit card debt. I am more than aware that I have a lot of support (both emotional and financial) that other people don’t have. It’s absolutely fair to say that I’m privileged; it’s something that I try to remember every single day and to keep in check. I know that I am awarded certain opportunities because of my social characteristics: I am white, I am middle class, I am young, I am able, I am educated, etc. Believe me when I say that I know how lucky I am.

Now, I want to address each of the claims you made about me, without actually knowing anything about me:

You chose to do fun stuff instead of buckling down and applying to new jobs.

Yes, I did choose to “do fun stuff.” During the course of three days (two of which were over the weekend), I chose to spend time with my cousin and her friends, which is exactly what I planned to do before being laid off.

And no, I didn’t “buckle down and apply to new jobs.” But while I haven’t “officially” applied to any jobs — meaning I haven’t gone to the online job search platforms and applied to jobs through websites’ forms — I have gotten in touch with multiple people who offered to speak with me directly.

I spent hours updating my resume, redoing my website, and downloading work I’ve published. I sent links and clips to interested employers, and I set up meetings and appointments with people in the industry.

I’ve done the whole “applying to jobs” thing before (pretty recently), and in my experience, it doesn’t work to apply to jobs before you have a resume and website you feel accurately represent you. I spent six months applying to jobs last time I was in a similar position, and I heard back from almost nobody. I’d much rather spend my time preparing to apply to jobs and making it more likely I’ll get a reply on the applications I do send, than sending a million applications and getting one reply in a hundred.

You have the luxury because of family and friends to just chill – maybe your coworkers who’ve already applied actually need the money to pay rent or buy groceries?

I wouldn’t say what I did during my first week was “just chill.” Yes, I spent time with my friends and family doing things unrelated to job applications, but I also spent a lot of time working on my application materials. While I was out and about in Manhattan, I was responding to emails and setting up appointments and interviews. While watching the Oscars, I was preparing documents for a potential employer. While spending time at home, I was perusing the opportunities other former LittleThings employees shared on our Facebook group.

Yes, maybe my coworkers who applied to jobs are in a more dire situation than I am — again, I’ll check my privilege here. I am not at risk of losing my apartment or not being able to eat in the immediate future, and I recognize that others may not be as lucky as I am.

You literally are in control of this entire situation, but you’re acting like the victim the entire time.

I guess I’m a little confused here — I didn’t have control over losing my job. I didn’t have control over having an hour’s notice that my company was closing. I didn’t have control over the fact that I wasn’t prepared to start applying for jobs.

The only thing I am a victim of is losing my job. All I was trying to do through these Unemployment Diaries posts was to show other people that what they’re going through is okay. Even if we’re at different stages of dealing with the shutdown or dealing with unemployment or dealing with the stress of applying to new jobs, it’s okay. All of our feelings are legitimate.

Sucks that you lost your job, but you were able to (as you said) just take a vacation while many others would have to rush to find anything to pay the bills.

What I actually said was, “Although I’ve definitely come to terms with the shutdown now, I still feel like I’ve just been on vacation. I’m not yet convinced that I couldn’t just walk back into the office, grab a snack, and sit down at my desk.” I was by no means implying that this last week has felt like a vacation, just that it feels like a break from normal, everyday office life.

To clarify, this hasn’t been a vacation, nor has it felt like one. Traditionally, I like my vacations to come with less crying, less existential soul searching, and less work.

Doesn’t seem like you have much to complain about here.

If it felt like my unemployment posts were complaints to you, I’m afraid you misinterpreted them. The point of these posts was to give an honest, open opinion on what it feels like to be let go from a job you liked out of the blue. I was hoping it would resonate with people in similar positions and allow them to feel less alone, but perhaps I was incorrect.

This is honestly one of the most entitled, privileged things I think I’ve ever read.

Finally, I’d like to address your claim that what I wrote was privileged and entitled.

I believe I’ve already made it very clear that I understand I am in a place of privilege in this situation. I also believe that using privilege as an insult isn’t helpful to anyone. The fact that I have certain privilege in this world means that I have a voice others do not have. I try to use my voice to lift up other people and tell their stories; that is one of the things I am most proud of about my work at LittleThings — that I was able to tell the stories of people who may not have a platform like I do or the privilege to make their voice heard.

When it comes to entitlement, let’s break this down a little. The definition of entitled, as you’ve used it, is something along the lines of “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” Maybe you read my words in a way I didn’t mean for them to be taken, but I by no means believe I am inherently deserving of any privileges or special treatment. Do I believe I deserve a new job just because I lost my old one unceremoniously? Hell no. I recognize that privilege helped me get to where I am today, but I also worked my ass off. I made my way into the online publishing world on my own — without connections or help along the way.

I started my small-time blog while I was in college working two jobs, and I built my following over the course of years. I was lucky enough to tap into a niche that made me go viral, and I found my passion for writing. I picked up any writing job I could find and applied to a million and a half jobs and internships. I worked a job I hated for over a year while I applied relentlessly to jobs in my dream industry. When I was finally hired at LittleThings, I was working a full-time job in textbook publishing, as well as writing for a number of websites for free. I worked my ass off to get my first job in this industry and I fully intend to work my ass off again to get my next job. If it seems to you like I’m entitled, you don’t know the whole story.

 

And last but not least, I’d just like to add this: before you ridicule someone online for sharing their own truth and trying to be as candid as possible, learn the whole story and don’t make assumptions.

Unemployment Diaries: Week 1

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Day 2:

Last night, I applied for unemployment. It was both relieving and a little painful (and pretty confusing). Even though I had to read everything twice, it wasn’t actually as difficult as I thought it would be.

Today, I went to therapy and tried to make sense of my thoughts. I’m still conflicted about whether I should push myself to find a job right away or let myself have some time to recover. After therapy, I decided it was time for some retail therapy, so I wandered around Manhattan (only allowing myself into stores I had old gift cards for). I bought nothing, but felt a little better.

Finally, Matt met me for dinner and the two of us went for a “final hurrah” meal at Eataly. Of everything I did today, the food definitely put me in the best mood.

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Day 3:

As soon as I processed the fact that I no longer had a job, I immediately reached out to some of my old LittleThings coworkers, asking for their help and advice. One of my former fellow writers immediately offered to meet me for coffee, so today we met up at her office first thing in the morning.

As someone who had previously been laid off, she had some really helpful thoughts for me. Most people go to the classics when you lose your job, like, “maybe it’ll actually be a blessing in disguise” or “you’ll come out of this even stronger than before.” Fortunately, my old coworker knew just how overwhelming and frustrating it can feel to lose a job. Instead of telling me everything would work out, she told me that it’s okay to take a breather and give yourself time to adjust. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

After I left, I decided it was time for a trip to Goodwill, so I hopped on a train back to Queens. Of course, once I arrived at my location, I found out that there wasn’t in fact a Goodwill there at all. I trudged through the rain and snow searching for the store before giving up to go home.

In the evening, I packed Bella into her doggy carrier and made my way down to my parents’ house in Brooklyn. My cousin and her friends are in town from Montreal, so we all got together for a tasty home-cooked meal.

Day 4:

This morning I was supposed to go to a ballet event with a teenager I mentor, but she was sick. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll just go see my cousin and her friends early!” Wrong. I showered, sat down on my bed, and the next thing I knew I was waking up two hours later.

I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed and made my way into Manhattan for lunch, shopping, an improv show, cocktails, and a drag show.

Today was by far the most cathartic as far as dealing with the LittleThing closure is concerned. At the improv show, the comedians asked if anything interesting had happened recently to anyone in the audience. After someone told an entirely uninteresting story about the subway, I yelled out, “I lost my job on Tuesday!” The entire crowd cheered. I explained what happened, and the actors recreated the layoff later in the show. It was eerily accurate.

When I finally made it home (at 2 a.m.), Matt and I got into a stupid argument. Although it was no big deal, it set off the waterworks. I hadn’t really cried since the shutdown, but suddenly it all came crashing down on me. So I cried — and not the cute, one tear dripping down the cheek crying, no, this was the full on lips-swelling, snot-dripping, eyes-reddening kind of crying. By the time I fell asleep, I finally felt like I’d dealt with some of my bottled up emotions.

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Day 5:

Just a few hours after falling into a tear-induced sleep, my alarm started blaring, sounding for brunch.

The rest of the day, my cousin and her friend and I wandered around ChinaTown, stopped into the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, and finally made our way back to my parents’ place to eat some good NYC pizza and watch the Oscars.

Day 6:

Ah, Monday. The first day of a fully-unemployed week. I (once again) struggled to get out of bed before making my way to a LittleThings meet-up at Panera. It was a great idea, and some people were really productive, but the overall vibe amongst former-LT employees was stressed. We were all at very different stages of dealing with the unemployment process, which made for a somewhat hectic environment.

I knew I wouldn’t be at the meet-up very long, so I used my time to catch up with old coworkers and get an idea of everyone’s emotional state (not great).

When I left, I met my cousin and her friend for an NBC studio tour. Visiting news studios and the set of SNL reminded me that there’s more to life than LittleThings, and the opportunities for employment are endless. To round out the day, the three of us stood outside in the cold for two hours to get into a taping of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. It was more than amazing.

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Day 7:

Well, it has officially been one week since I lost my job. LittleThings hasn’t had a new article posted in a week.

Although I’ve definitely come to terms with the shutdown now, I still feel like I’ve just been on vacation. I’m not yet convinced that I couldn’t just walk back into the office, grab a snack, and sit down at my desk.

Today, a group of LT-ers came to my apartment for a “Java and Job Applications” get-together. I didn’t apply for any jobs, but I did drink some java.

It’s been wonderful to be around other people going through the same thing as me, but it’s also a little stressful to see people who are “ahead” of me in the job hunt. A number of people listed how many jobs they’d applied to today, and I’m still at a big old zero.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a lot of work — saving old articles, creating my website, working on a portfolio, etc. — but I haven’t gotten to the actual applying stage yet. I keep having to remind myself that it’s okay to go slowly and to work at my own pace. It’s not a race. We’re all on different paths, and we’ll all get there eventually.

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Unemployment Diaries: Day 2

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I won’t lie, today was sad. I didn’t have to wake up early, but I had a really hard time staying asleep this morning (which isn’t something that happens to me — I’m really good at sleeping).

When I finally got out of bed, I watched LittleThings last live video broadcast by the amazing Cassie and Paul Morris. I almost cried.

During my subway ride into work, I simultaneously felt perfectly calm and also as though I might throw up at any moment. It was a relief to finally get to the office and be surrounded by people who understood exactly what I was going through. My coworkers, who have become my friends and confidants, seemed just as overwhelmed as I was.

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We laughed and joked with one another, but there was an overwhelming blanket of sadness draped over all of us. We pilfered through office supplies and snacks, smiling as we filled bags with goodies for home, but we all knew the smiles were a farce. Underneath, we were all struggling equally to come to terms with what was going on.

Tonight, when I got home, I made an unemployment to-do list, with items like “file for unemployment” and “update resume.” My list didn’t say “try your best to keep it together,” but that’s definitely something to strive for. Making a list felt productive, but it didn’t heal me. I know I shouldn’t wallow in self-pity, but it’s going to take a little time to recover from the shock of shutdown.

As always, I have been astounded by the outpouring of love from the LittleThings staff. Everyone has opened their arms and stepped into this unknown journey of unemployment together. The sunshine we’ve all brought into each other’s lives will continue to glow, even if it’s covered by a cloud for a bit.

For now, I’m going to say goodbye to the Internet for the night, get into a bath, and grieve the loss of my LittleThings family. I love you all.

Unemployment Diaries: Day 0

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I’m back bitches!

So… today the CEO of LittleThings emailed us all and let us know LittleThings would be closing, effective immediately.

Needless to say, we were all in shock. All 80-ish of us lost our jobs with one simple email.

I’m still not really sure how to respond, but I do know that I’m a little drunk, completely unemployed, and still a writer at heart. So what do I do now? I keep writing, I guess. Since I don’t have an official, paid outlet for writing anymore, I’m back to this rinky-dink little blog that started it all.

Stay posted to find out more about my experience with unemployment, job hunting, and life post-LittleThings.

*To all my incredible LT coworkers, I love you all the way down to the depths of my soul. LT would have been nothing without you. Stay strong.

When Rape Culture Infiltrates Summer Camp

If you know me well, you know that I had a life changing experience at summer camp. I worked there for four years — first as a junior counselor, then as a counselor, then as an administrator. I made the most incredible friendships, learned to be a leader, and found the strength I needed to be confident in myself and my beliefs. I have no doubt that I would not be the same person today if it were not for my time at camp.

Summer camp is also where I learned to be proud to be a feminist and where I first came face to face with socially enforced rape culture. I was 20 during my final year at summer camp, and I was working with the most extraordinary group of women. All four female administrators were under age 30, and we worked together with a 40-year-old man who was camp director.

In my previous years at camp, I’d come to know it as a liberal and progressive environment, in which everyone was accepted and listened to. This particular year, we had decided as a staff to take a hard stance on bullying — any reports of bullying or harassment and you’d be kicked out of camp immediately. We’d already expelled one camper after a controversial incident, so it was obvious to all of the administration that we weren’t going to tolerate bullying of any type. Or so I thought.

It was a sunny afternoon when a counselor came to three of us — the youngest three administrators — and told us one of her campers needed to talk to us. Sally*, the camper, was on the oldest girls floor, which was comprised of 15 and 16 year olds. She sat on the bed in her room and told us that one of the teen boys on the opposite floor, Thomas, had grabbed her butt during a game of four square. We were stunned. We told her we’d deal with the situation and immediately went to find Thomas’s counselor, Luke. Luke said he’d talk to Thomas about the incident, then send him to the main office.

When the two administrators and I spoke to Thomas later that day, he was in tears. He had no idea what we were talking about. He swore up and down that he had no recollection of the incident. He wasn’t a particularly conniving or clever kid, so we tentatively believed that he was baffled. We told him that he needed to be more aware of his actions and watch his body more carefully, since he was making girls feel uncomfortable and unsafe. We made our stance on bullying and harassment clear to him and explained that even unintentional actions could count as harassment. Thomas apologized profusely and told us he’d be more aware. We didn’t bring the issue to the camp director because Sally wasn’t comfortable with him knowing.

Two days later, another girl, Mackenzie, approached us and said that while standing in line during a camp BBQ, Thomas had cupped her butt. The three of us were outraged. We informed her that we took her report very seriously and would handle it immediately. We called a meeting with the camp director and the other administrators and office personnel.

“Thomas’s parents need to come pick him up,” we told the other administrators after we explained what had happened. The women nodded in agreement, and the office manager began searching for his file. Our male director, who had blown the previous bullying incident out of proportion, didn’t seem to be on board. He asked to hear the accounts of what had happened multiple times before responding, “Well, boys will be boys. He’s only 16. I’ll have a stern talking-to with him.”

The women in the room were dumbfounded. We simultaneously started spewing information about sexual harassment and assault. One at a time we barraged him with our own stories of teenage harassment, trying to convince him that yes, it was a big deal, and yes, we did need to do something about it.

Actions have consequences, we told him, and both the butt-toucher and the teenage girls needed to know that. If we do nothing, we told him, the girls will see that even in a liberal and accepting environment, boys can get away with whatever they want. If we “give him a stern talking-to,” we explained, he’ll understand that harassment gets you a slap on the wrist, and the girls will understand that their comfort and safety doesn’t matter. If they, god forbid, get assaulted down the road, they won’t tell anyone. They’ll think that silence is safer and speaking out does nothing. They’ll tell their friends, and the cycle of institutional rape culture will continue.

For 40 minutes, our boss argued with us, claiming that this wasn’t as severe of a situation as we were making it out to be. Eventually, we wore him down. He called Thomas’s parents. Since they lived 4 hours away, though, and camp was ending the next day, he agreed they could just come get him at the normal scheduled pickup time. As a punishment instead, Thomas wouldn’t be allowed to attend the final dance, our boss told us.

There was clearly nothing we could do to change the situation, so we told the director that Thomas would need to sit in the nearby lounge so we could keep an eye on him. “Well that’s not fair,” our boss responded, “he’ll feel like a zoo animal being watched by all the other campers.” Again, we were shocked — Thomas was already barely getting a punishment at all; the least we could do was put him in a place where the staff could see him and Sally and Mackenzie could know that he wasn’t going to bother them. Our director thought that Thomas’s embarrassment was more important than the girls’ fear and discomfort. We finally got our way, but we fought tooth and nail every step of the way.

This was the first taste I got of the fight I’d need to face anytime I spoke out about sexual assault and harassment. It’s a fight we women see every single day. There has been an outpouring of stories about sexual assault and harassment in the news recently, but it’s important to remember that this is something all women — whether they’re famous or not — deal with every single day.

*All names have been changed

Featured Image: Flickr / Petra Bensted

There’s A Difference Between A Catcall And A Compliment

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When women walk down the street, no matter what they’re wearing, they are always ready to be catcalled. You might think I’m being dramatic, but I promise you I’m not.

Every day as I walk down the street, I stare straight ahead. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand new place or my block at home — I always know it’s possible that a guy will decide to comment on my body. I regularly walk around with my middle finger at the ready and “go to hell” on the tip of my tongue. I try hard to stand up for myself and yell back, but I also have to think first and foremost about my safety.

One of the biggest arguments that men (and sometimes women) like to make about catcalling is that women should take it as a compliment. They say, “it means they think you’re hot,” or they try to explain that “they don’t mean it to be intimidating, they just want you to know that you look good.”

But here’s the thing: I’ve been complimented and I’ve been catcalled and they are NOT the same thing.

Let me explain.

Walking from the subway to my last office, I would walk by a lot of men who were hanging out on the street. A lot of them were construction workers, delivery-people, and drivers. I’m not trying to generalize blue collar workers because I have definitely been catcalled by white collar workers as well, but because they were the ones standing on the street more often, they were the ones who harassed me most.

I became so used to the stares of these men that I was always prepared to be catcalled. I heard everything from the normal “hey sexy” and kissy noises, to “mmm show me a smile baby” and “damn, girl.” I didn’t get any particularly creepy catcalls there, but keep in mind that I heard most of these at 9:00 in the morning.

So you might be thinking, “So what, they were just telling you that you were sexy.” But that’s not the case. Those men were taking advantage of the street space they hold to make me feel uncomfortable. At this point in time, all men know that catcalling makes women feel uncomfortable, if not unsafe. So men catcall women entirely to get a rise out of them.

And here’s the difference between that and a compliment: One day on my way to work, I stopped to cross the street. While I was waiting for the light to change at the crosswalk, a man approached me and said, “Excuse me, I just wanted to let you know that your hair looks really nice in the sun right now.”

That is a compliment. And you know how I responded? I didn’t flip him off, I didn’t yell “f*ck you” at him, and I didn’t tell him to go to hell. Instead, I said, “Oh, thank you,” and I smiled at him. I didn’t walk away feeling degraded and off-put; I walked to work slightly happier.

So, men, if you want to see a smile, don’t shout “show me a smile,” say something that might actually make someone smile. And don’t scream “hey sexy, nice hair,” mention in a non-threatening way that my hair looks nice in the sun.

I’m sick of people trying to convince me that catcalls and compliments are the same thing. I’ve experienced both, and I’m here to tell them that they’re wrong.

Epic Things

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As I said in my life update, I recently started a new job as a Junior Writer at Epic Things. I’ve been totally loving it — great coworkers, young work environment, wonderful office space — and I wanted to share some of my articles with you, the people who have supported me since the very beginning.

A lot of the articles I write are stupid stories about trending celebrity news, exploding poop, or sexy women. Some of them, though, have been really great to write. Those are the ones I’m going to share with you. You’re obviously more than welcome to read the rest of the things I’ve written, I just won’t be posting the links to them here.

  1. Netflix “She Rules” Video Is Exactly What We’ve Been Waiting For

  2. Watch This ‘Shark Dancer’ Risk Her Life To Help Injured Sharks

  3. When Celebrities Read ‘Mean Tweets’ Of Themselves On ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’ America Rejoices

  4. Michelle Obama Goes On ‘The Late Show’ And Proves She’s Just Like Us

  5. Beach Created By Bombs Is So Gorgeous That Your Mind Will Explode

  6. The 15 Best Celebrity Reactions To The First Presidential Debate

  7. Katy Perry Uses Her Body To Get People To Vote

  8. Joe Biden Will Cameo On Tonight’s Episode Of ‘Law & Order: SVU’

10 Adorable Tiny Houses That You’ll Want To Live In Right Now

ICYMI, tiny houses have become all the rage the past few years. From television shows to YouTube channels, tiny houses are sweeping the nation. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re perfectly-designed miniature houses that play into the sense of comfort and coziness that we all seek. And in an overly-materialistic society, tiny houses seem like the perfect way to live a nomadic, traveling lifestyle while still having the comforts of home. Plus, for those of us who aren’t particularly outdoorsy, but still want to experience nature, tiny houses are the perfect solution to camping. Even if you’re super attached to your material goods, I promise that by the end of this post you will be pulling out your checkbook to make a down payment on your own tiny house.

Read the rest of the article here!

Life Update: Fall 2016

For all the people who follow my blog in order to catch up on my life (and not just for my snarky social commentary), I want to update you on my life.

A lot of big things have happened since I came back from Lauren’s wedding in Hawaii, which I think is the last time I did one of these “life update” things. I know I said I would write more about the wedding, but I didn’t, because life got in the way. Although, I did write a tiny bit about my experience as her Maid of Honor, which you can read here.

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On August 18th, my boyfriend Matt and I adopted a dog. We’d been thinking about it for a while, but we found a listing for an adorable one-year-old dog online, and later that day she was ours. She is a Tibetan Terrier mix and is partially hypo-allergenic (which Matt needed). Her previous owners received her as a gift (even though they didn’t want a dog), so they kept her for a while, and then surrendered her at the shelter. They had named her Bela, which we changed to Bella (short for Bellatrix).

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When we adopted her, she had kennel cough, which is the dog equivalent of the common cold. What that meant, though, was that she was in isolation in the shelter. We brought her home that night, bought food and a bed, and started taking care of her. Within two weeks, she’d been to the groomer, multiple pet stores, and two different vets. I have legitimately spent more money on this dog’s medical bills than my own.

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She’s been quite a handful, but we really love having her. To read more about how she changed my relationship with Matt in the first month of having her, you can read the article I wrote for Unwritten.

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So Bella is big change number one. As some of you probably know, last summer I was working as a marketing assistant in the higher education department of Oxford University Press. After about six months there, I knew it really wasn’t the right fit for me. I started actively applying for jobs in January. I went on a few interviews, but nothing panned out. I grew increasingly more and more frustrated and desperate.

After applying to more than 60 jobs, I was finally offered a position as a junior writer at a website called Epic Things. I accepted the job, and started on September 14th. Epic Things is a small website under the parent company, Little Things. Little Things is primarily a website with uplifting videos, recipes, parenting tips, DIY projects, and pet things.

Epic Things is kind of like Little Things’ teen brother. We write a lot about poop, explosions, car crashes, celebs, and other “epic” stories. I’ve written a lot so far (almost 100 articles) and I’m really loving it. You can check out everything I’ve written here (please don’t judge).

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A few days into starting my position at Epic Things, I got an email from another job I had applied to. A week or so later I had a freelance blogger position for a website called The Hoth. It’s a little hard to explain what I do, but basically I’m a ghost writer for blogs. So far I’ve written about guns (yikes), Pokemon Go, trucking invoice factoring companies, and cerebral palsy in relation to medical malpractice.

So on top of all the new things going on in my life, I’m also trying to eat healthier, work out more, and be more on top of housework (but these are things I’m always trying to do better at). Since my last post, I also turned 23 and have been trying to find time to volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign (I signed up months ago and still haven’t gotten a chance to go).

Anyways, I think that’s everything. I’ll be writing more soon and trying to post some of my Epic Things articles (that I’m actually proud of) and Unwritten articles (if I ever find time to write them). Stay tuned for more! Love you all.

5 Non-Basic Dates You Need To Have With Your S.O. This Fall

Fall is finally upon us! Autumn means falling leaves, crisp and cool air, apple picking, sweaters, and cuddling up with bae. All you want to do when it gets cool out is go on leisurely walks, stay in bed all day, and snuggle up with some blankets on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that your relationship can get a little slow – gone are the summer days of sitting outside drinking wine late at night, going to warm summer concerts, and having picnics in the park. To make sure you don’t get bored with your SO this fall, check out some of these adorable autumn date ideas:

1. Go for a hike.

Lose the UGG boots and invest in hiking boots. Even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, going on a hike can be a great way to appreciate autumn’s natural fall beauty. Since the heat of the summer is finally gone, you can get some fresh air without sweating up a storm – and if your hands get chilly, that’s what your SO is for, right? So go get a look at those gorgeous leaves as they change color; there’s really nothing like it.

 

To read the rest of this article, click on over to Unwritten!

If These 6 Instagram Accounts Don’t Inspire You To Study, Nothing Will

With the fall semester ramping up, you’re probably already overwhelmed by the amount of work on your plate. For some reason, professors seem to think that the beginning of the semester is the best time to give you crazy assignments, and they usually say something like, “since it’s the beginning of the semester, I’m sure you don’t have much other stuff to do.” Yeah, right.

But that’s okay; if you’re already feeling the procrastination setting in, we’ve got you covered. Check out these incredible Instagrams for all the studying inspiration you could need this semester!

1. @studeying

This young Australian woman posts tons of photos of beautiful notebooks filler with her perfect handwriting. She also posts lots of pictures of different office/school supplies – pen lovers will adore this account!

To read the rest of this article, click on over to Unwritten!

Dear Coach Craig: A Letter From A Grateful Gymnast

Dear Coach Craig,

Since I’ve been watching the Rio Olympics religiously this summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about my gymnastics career. It was a career that gymnasts would call unsuccessful, but that outsiders would call victorious. Sure, I won the Oregon state competition, but I was a 15-year-old level 7. From a gymnastics perspective, I wasn’t a great gymnast. I usually didn’t even really feel like a good gymnast. All I know is that without you, Craig Bayer, I wouldn’t have been a gymnast at all.

So I have something I need to say to you, something that I’ve been thinking for years, but didn’t know how to articulate: Thank you. Thank you for being an incredible coach, an intelligent educator, and a fantastic mentor. You coached me when I was “uncoachable.” While other coaches wrote me off as too old, too scared, and too boring, you saw potential in me.

You don’t know this, but I wrote one of my college essays about you. The prompt was “tell us about someone who has influenced you in a significant way.” Here is what I wrote:

“You aren’t trying! Stop thinking about it, just do it!” My coach yelled from the floor. A tear threatened to spill out of my eye as I bit my lip and swung down to the mat. I landed with a cloud of fine chalk rising from the ground around my feet. I turned to face him, to prove to him that I was strong, that I could do this, but as I met his eyes a disobedient drop ran down my cheek. “What did he mean, ‘stop thinking’?” I thought angrily; this was not a concept I understood. To me, thinking is everything; I am organized and analytical — not thinking is never an option. Gymnastics is not an intellectual sport. That isn’t to say that people involved in it are not smart, but the sport itself is not about strategy or reasoning; it is based on power, precision, fearlessness, strength, trust, and more than anything, the ability to suspend thinking — to just do it.

Throughout the years, I’ve had my fair share of coaches. Whether it was moving across the country or moving between levels, new coaches always came with new territory. As with all people, sometimes I got along with them, sometimes I didn’t. Most of my coaches didn’t generally value my need to study a skill before doing it or to scrutinize every step. Stuck in my own head, I tried without succeeding to do what came effortlessly to the other girls. While some of my coaches gave up on me, or assumed I “wasn’t trying”, there is one standout in my mind: Craig. While Craig may not have produced any Olympians, and though he was never given the head coach position by the gym owner, Craig was the best teacher. He understood that different people learn in different ways, and that success is measured by the individual and what they expect of themselves. More than anything, Craig believed in everyone.

Every day for a year, my friend would get up on the bar, confident and ready. As soon as she was ready to go, with Craig spotting her, she would freeze, overcome with fear; he would slowly let her to the ground, trying to convince her she could do it. 365 days and countless attempts later, she finally did the skill. Craig had the ability to push people to be their best without making them feel inferior, and everyone knew they could trust him. Though Craig brought me to win the state championship, I knew it wouldn’t have mattered if I had won, or gotten very last place — he would have been proud no matter what. When Craig left in the summer of 2009, to go on to bigger and better things, I didn’t know whether I wanted to keep doing gymnastics or not. But Craig had always taught me to keep going, so that’s what I did. Whenever other coaches yelled at me, or told me I wasn’t good enough, I knew that it didn’t matter — all that mattered was my ability to push through and not to lose hope. Most of all, Craig taught me that a good teacher is able to accept that people learn differently, and not to give up on them in spite of that.

A few days ago, on the night of the women’s gymnastics qualifying round in Rio, I posted a photo collage on Instagram of me at the 2009 Oregon State competition. Within minutes the photo had comments from a bunch of former teammates; they read: “OMG I miss coach Craig!!”; “Oh Craig!!”; “I was going to say I miss Craig. But looks like we’ve got that comment covered”; and “Craig…… What a guy.” From those responses, I know that I wasn’t the only one you had a profound impact on; you changed us all.

I don’t know where you are now, nor how to contact you, but I’m hoping that through the power of the internet, this will somehow make it to you.

To the coach who believed in everyone, called little girls “shrimpy,” and made bird calls at every meet, thank you. You are the reason I loved gymnastics and the reason I cherish those gym memories today.

— A Grateful Gymnast

 

Lauren’s Wedding

This past Friday, my best friend Lauren got married in Hawaii! I’ll post more soon about how amazing it was and what we did while we were there, but for now I decided to just post a Polyvore image of something similar to what I wore for the wedding. The  dress is the right color, but we wore short dresses (with no sequins) that were much cuter. I was one of two maids of honor, and Lauren (being the wonderful bride that she was, and not at all a bridezilla), bought all of the maids of honor/bridesmaids pearls to wear for the big day. We don’t have the photos yet, but I can’t wait to share all the beautiful pictures of the wedding (and obviously the bride) with you.
Lauren's Wedding

 

9 Apps That Can Help You Face Mental Health Challenges

Under The Labels

People who struggle with mental health never know when they will have a good day or when they will have a bad day. From panic attacks to manic episodes, mental illnesses can strike hard, even during times when you think you’re handling things well. You could be having a wonderful week where you feel almost fully like yourself, and then you could wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed. For all the times when you are physically debilitated by your mental illness, when you’re paralyzed by fear, when you’re unable to get off the subway, even though you passed your stop fifteen minutes ago – here are some apps you can download that can help you cope in those rough moments.

  1. Optimism: This app helps you track and manage your health. The app aims to help people with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and…

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10 Celebrities Who Embrace Their Mental Health Issues

Under The Labels

By: Ileana Paules-Bronet

One of the most common effects of suffering with mental illnesses or disabilities is feeling alone. Depression and anxiety, two of the most common mental disorders, are great at making people feel isolated. It’s this crazy feeling – you know on a rational level that other people are experiencing the same feelings, but somehow you also know that nobody has ever felt the same way you do. And until recently, a lot of people didn’t talk about mental health problems. Over the past few years, however, people have been more open about their own mental health, which has put it in the public spotlight even more. A lot of celebrities have been speaking out about their struggles, so whenever you’re feeling alone, just remember that you definitely aren’t.

1. Lady Gaga

“I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every…

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What NOT To Say To Someone Struggling With Mental Illness

Under The Labels

By: Ileana Paules-Bronet

Trigger Warning: This piece features phrases regarding mental illness that may be upsetting for some readers.

People experiencing mental health issues have usually heard some sort of insensitive comment from a friend, family member, stranger, or even medical professional regarding what is going on inside their mind. The point of “Under The Labels” is to work toward minimizing the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses, mental disorders, and other mental health issues. Often, people don’t even realize that what they are saying is insensitive; a variety of people who have experienced an insensitive or offensive comment about their own mental health have shared some of the insensitive comments they’ve heard below:

  • “Oh, stop being so dramatic!” – My mother, all the time
  • “Come on, how many therapists have you been to?” – A soccer coach of mine, in front of my team. He also called me ‘psycho’ instead of my…

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