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Featuring geeky originals, vlogs, news and thoughts on pop culture, tv, movies, music, and more!

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Introducting… MY VLOGs on YouTube

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Coming soon

StorybookDreaming is now awkwardMEOW. Look for new blogs, content, and videos soon!

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I Hate Things [Volume 1]

Back after a month without blogging! My excuse? I’m really busy with my online courses and have lost a lot of my motivation for writing. Just today I found out my plan to move to Madison and seek jobs has stalled because my potential roommate wanted to live alone, so I’m definitely in the market for one of my friends who would like to room with a clean, quiet person!

I hate so many things!

  • Sports
  • The way that sports metaphors have invaded our vernacular
  • The lack of separation between church and state
  • Alcohol culture
  • Miley Cyrus’ attitude
  • Good people who experiment with dumb things “just because”
  • Being irrationally mad at friends
  • The GOP
  • Lack of social justice
  • People who tailgate you when you’re driving
  • Hot weather
  • Humidity
  • The societal favoritism of extroverts
  • Rigid gender roles
  • Heteronormative culture
  • Guns
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Invisible diseases
  • Back pain
  • Loneliness
  • Visible diseases
  • Our reliance on foreign oil
  • Bad punctuation
  • Uptight people
  • The 7-month waits between Doctor Who episodes
  • Unequal pay for equally qualified women
  • The poor pay educators and librarians receive
  • Windows 8
  • Dogs
  • Not being a famous meme
  • Having horrible writer’s block
  • Lack of motivation
  • How many things I hate
  • Gross words
  • The vilification of atheism
  • 40-hour work weeks
  • How sports coverage delays regularly scheduled programming
  • When weather alerts pre-empt television shows
  • The way some people will take this too seriously and get offended…

 

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A Smashburger Adventure – The Epic Quest in Which Drew Drives To And Tries A Smashburger meal

It’s no secret that I like cheeseburgers, eating out, diners, burger joints, and the like. I eat more McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s than is humanly possible. Maybe I’m a robot? Anyway. Recently I read that Wendy’s had usurped BK’s #2 burger joint spot! I was trying to find out who #4 was, but couldn’t find it online. How lame. I figure it’s In ‘n Out (the west coast exclusive spot) or something like Culver’s or Five Guys that have been exploding everywhere the past decade. I did find an article on up and coming burger places, including Five Guys and Smashburger.

I had never heard of Smashburger, so I went and found the closest location. Turns out, it was only about 30 minutes away from Mundelein, IL! Being a burger connoisseur, I decided to embark on an epic journey to check it out. I’m moving out of Illinois where I’ve lived the past month since my grandma died and heading back to Wisconsin this weekend. There are NO SMASHBURGERS in WI so this was my only chance! I’m also not much of a driver, having never driven outside of my hometown and certainly never gone somewhere I haven’t “already been.” I took this as an opportunity to get some driving practice in while also rewarding myself with a future heart attack!

The Beginning

So far so good! I’m looking mighty fine… and I haven’t even left the driveway yet!

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Of course this is Lake County traffic which means an enormous line of cars in front and behind me. I must make it!

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I find that getting out of town makes me  very anxious and I keep worrying a car is going to swerve into my lane or I will get sideswiped and not react in time to save myself.

The Arrival

About 30 minutes later, after hitting some road construction I have arrived! It is not a stand-alone building, but shares space with others like Five Guys do. The outside reminds me of them as well with the tables and umbrellas.

Smashburger

Kildeer, IL

As soon as I entered the restaurant I noticed menus in a holder on the wall for people to grab and look at while waiting in line. Fortunately for me there was nobody ahead of me in line. I glanced around and found the seating arrangements to be pleasing as there were booths, tables, and even a bar looking out the windows towards the parking lot. There were half-walls sectioning off the customer queue area from the dining patrons.

The girl working the register greeted me and I told her I needed a moment. She asked if I had ever been to a Smashburger before and I replied, “Nope!” She then offered to tell me a bit about the place. I obliged and she explained how the burgers are smashed onto a grill, buttered, and yummy. She also explained that the Smash Fries are doused in garlic, olive oil and seasoned with rosemary.  I scanned the menu hanging above her which only had a few options, but one immediately caught my eye. The Smashburger Classic!

The menu listed the ingredients underneath each option. The Smashburger Classic comes with ketchup, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions as well as “Smash Sauce.” I asked the employee what the “Smash Sauce” entailed. “Mayonaise, mustard, relish, and lemon juice.”

Dude, I’m in!

I ordered the Smashburger Classic without onions, an order of Smash Fries, and a soda. “We make everything fresh, so we’ll bring it out to you,” she said as she handed me a plastic number 15.

The order came to about 9 bucks which is in line with a meal at Five Guys or most similar places.

20130904_191214

Blurry receipt is blurry

The employee female, Casey, handed me a normal cup as opposed to a paper one. That’s nice because it shows they are care about limiting waste. They had Cherry Coke available which means bonus points already! I also noticed they had lemon wedges by the soda machine and straws. Apparently, lemons are a big thing there! You know what they say… when life gives you lemons…

Thank you, Portal 2, for making that expression one million times better.

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After waiting just a bit somebody came buy and dropped off my meal. It looked amaaaazing. (Amazing said like this!)

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Smashburger Classic Meal

The bun is classy and the fries are super thin! The meal came on a wire tray and the fries in their own separate metal platter. Sweet! More environmentally friendly things. Also, they leave the top of the bun and toppings off so you can add to it!

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Wire tray-a-ma-bob

I disassembled the burger and the ketchup and smash sauce mixture looked great!

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First bite and I was in heaven. Yep, it was awesome. I felt a little something like this:

Seriously, that song is wonderful.

The fries were incredible as just the perfect mix of crisp and chewy! Here, have more blurry cell phone pictures. DAT ROSEMARY. They kinda reminded me of Andy Capp Cheddar Fries in taste.

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I immediately texted my Dad and told him he needed to check it out!

dadf

The Verdict / Aftermath

Smashburger wins. 

On my way out I kissed the cashier and loaded up the GPS on my phone so I could take a slightly different route to avoid construction. Thankfully, it was later so there was much less traffic and the roads were easier to navigate.

On my home I saw a 7-11 but went too far to turn in to the lot. I decided if I saw another one I would stop because I haven’t been to one in 10+ years. Suddenly another one! I stopped and got a coca cola slushee!

And then I got home alive and typed this blog.

BOOM, POSTED!

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Growing Up is Hard To Do

20 years ago I was 7. I could count my age on two hands. While continuing to clean out Grandma Ellie’s house I’ve found old photos she had around of me through various stages of my life, including some where I was 7-9 years old. I try to imagine what it felt like to be that boy. 20130903_173638 20130903_173650 My life was fresh and sprawled out before me. There was an unlimited amount of potential and I didn’t really pause to think about it. I didn’t know about insurance or TIAA-Cref retirement funds, chronic disease, corrupt politicians, or the futility of life. Who cared?


Back then I certainly didn’t think 20 years later I would say this:

  • Granny is dead.
  • Grandma Ellie is dead.
  • I have to find a full-time job, and work it, to get insurance in order to see doctors, get new glasses, have my teeth cleaned, afford medication, etc…
  • I think I have some sort of anxiety, or depression, or something. Seriously, who knows?
  • I miss not needing glasses.
  • I miss being able to go on roller-coasters or swings (!!) without feeling motion sickness. Yep, that started around age 21.
  • I miss sledding and doing crazy things before my back went bad.
  • I miss not knowing what excruciating, paralyzing backspasms are.
  • I miss not taking medication every day for a stomach to keep it from tearing itself apart.
  • I miss having skin that was always clear and soft.
  • I miss Britney Spears not being a freak.
  • I miss playing alto sax and marching band.
  • I miss childish innocence and naivety

When I was 7 I had Sega Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog comic books and Power Rangers at 4pm after school. Lord Zedd might finally create a monster that destroys the rangers Zords! Kimberly and Tommy might kiss! Amy Jo (6) And, oh man, I never had to question whether I was gay because with THIS to look forward to every day how could I be anything BUT straight? Amy Jo Johnson, thank you for helping me never doubt my sexuality,  you gorgeous pink ranger, you!

Of course when I was a bit younger I had Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, and Chip ‘ n Dale: Rescue Rangers to look forward to after school in the “Disney Afternoon” block I recently wrote about on Buzzfeed (Disney Afternoon: The Golden Era of Cartoons), so TV was certainly an early love of mine. Yeah, I won’t go into TGIF with Full House, Dinosaurs, and Steve Urkel on Family Matters  because this is NOT supposed to just be about how much I loved TV! BACK ON TRACK, ANDREW!

Granny

Every Saturday I would go to Granny’s (Grandma Ellie’s mom / my great-grandma) house and at night I’d watch Snick, the amazing Nickelodeon programming block that featured shows like All That, Space Cases, Alex Mack, and, if I wanted nightmares, Are You Afraid of the Dark? (REALLY DREW? TV AGAIN?) I would eat Gran’s special “potato fries,” arranged lovingly like sunbeams with ketchup in the center on paper plates with wicker “plate covers” to add support or cinnamon toast with sugar on it. If I was really lucky I’d get a new sticker book or the privilege of arranging the fridge magnets or back door window clings to tell a story. She was a retired teacher and so she taught me how to write, to do math, to read, etc. “Look Sally Look! See Spot Run!” She was the reason I was in accelerated classes growing up.zGran Photos of Photos (32) When she’d fall asleep in her rocking chair, I would be so scared she might die. She was in her 70s. As a matter of fact, I was often afraid of dying myself.

Somewhere in my childish innocence there was a dark fear that I never quite shook (and, golly gee, just the other night it struck me again so I guess some things NEVER change). There’s something strangely unsettling about ceasing to exist. I don’t think I ever believed in heaven or God. It never sounded plausible, just as Santa seemed unrealistic. (I mean, how did Rudolph’s nose light up and what about people who didn’t have chimneys in their houses? These are the things that I considered as a kid when other people stupidly bumbled around being cute and ignorant.) Anyway, off track again. *ahem* And despite the seeming impossibility of there being an afterlife, I would pray in bed that I’d never die and nor would the people I loved before sinking into my nightly tradition of imagining that I was in a clubhouse with all my favorite characters, like Sonic, Batman, Chip n Dale, the Power Rangers, etc and we would fight evil together and I would find a beautiful girl who loved me.

Sometimes during my Saturday nights at Gran’s house when I was trying to fall asleep I would be scared if the old house creaked or, in Anne Shirley style, my imagination got the best of me. images I would walk into her room and stand there, afraid to wake her up, but afraid to be alone. Sometimes it would take me a long time to build the courage to call her name or it would come out as a whisper. Eventually she’d hear me. “Gran? Gran?” She always woke up and she’d come into the room I slept in where there just happened to be an extra twin bed. She’d lie in bed and reassure me she would always be there for me and tell me stories from her childhood and I’d fall asleep. (Feel free to make the joke that, again, some things never change.)

Something I’ve never been able to understand is the significance behind Granny’s house being a setting for countless dreams over the years. I haven’t stood in it for about 15 years since she moved into our home at the age of 12. Why, of all the places I’ve lived (7 houses) is that the only one I return to in my dreams? Does that represent the pinnacle of my innocence and an everlasting pull to return to childhood? It’s certainly symbolic of something.

Another aspect of childhood is how much I loved family get-togethers and parties because my Uncle Rob and Aunt Melissa were awesome and hilarious and my Grandma Ellie was wonderful to me as well. My parents put on the best parties with games, prizes, pool activities, cake, pinatas, apple bobbing… you name it.

When we got AOL \ dial-up \ the Internet I found a new addiction. No, I’m not talking about the Hamster Dance website (and possibly the first internet meme, if you’re not familiar – seriously check this out HAMPSTER DANCE).  I could fuel my addiction to Sonic comics or video games by talking to people similar to me in chat rooms or browsing websites dedicated to them!

Ahh, the sweet sound of nostalgia.

Hell, I could even use instant messenger to chat with the writer of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic books and get scoops for Sonic HQ (sorry, Ken, for harassing you… but it’s pretty awesome you knew who I was at Comic-con and thanks for giving ME the scoop on the name of Tail’s Dad!!!!) I could also could sit in the basement for hours and hours on end playing platform games like Sonic the Hedgehog 2-3, Crash Bandicoot 1-3, Spyro the Dragon 1-2 or RPGs like Shining Force 1-2, and Final Fantasy 7-9. I had nothing better to do and I was in bliss.

The tactical, chess-like battle system was divine.

But we all know that can’t last. And it didn’t.

Descent into Darkness aka Adulthood

Saxy Drew

Your loss, Christina. :)

As I got older we moved 4 times in the same town. I had to switch middle schools because of the last move we made. Here I got bullied for my physical features and awkwardness. I found respite in concert and jazz band and for years I had a crush on a fellow alto sax, Christina, who was quite flirty with me. I’ll never believe she didn’t have a crush on me in 7th grade. Either way, I was too cowardly to make a move. “HAHA you don’t have any friends. You’re such a loser!” said Shera to me as I sat alone against the wall in a museum during our 8th grade trip to Washington DC. The bullying really brought me down and things only got more difficult when I got to high school and my Gran slipped into dementia and moved out of our house where she had been living for the past year. Her son kinda manipulated her and it was a mess that tore the family apart. I also asked out my first girl and got rejected. “I don’t know you very well,” said Kim. “Oh.. but we can get to know each other… by dating,” said a broken 13-year old Drew.  And then we moved to Wisconsin. But I knew that life wasn’t all happy flowers and sunshine anymore. I’d felt real pain. 

Culvers Uniform

And how could any woman resist THIS?

Obviously, I kept getting older, and unfortunately, I came to realize that meant life got exponentially harder. I did get girlfriends after moving to Wisconsin and was 4 for 4 in “asking them out,” even if the first three relationships were short-lived and all four were a struggle for me. The bullying continued up there as well. Then I started to work at Culvers, which sucked because the fast-pace is too much for a dreamer whose mind would wander to videogames, or fantasies. I’d make mistakes. I hated the grill, the sweat, the pressure, the pain I felt in my back, the way the sweat irritated my skin, but that was life and I needed money. I went to college and it was some of the best years of my life, and yet things got even more real, all the while being coddled in the bubble of a college campus.

Drew Pulls a Peter Griffen

The exercises I’m supposed to do for my back… HA (2004)

First, the back pain I had been feeling for years got worse, and till this day, there’s never been a possible diagnosis, although I do have osteoporis. The summer between freshman and sophomore year of college my stomach started to hurt  once a day. A LOT. Like, crippling pain that could only be faced by crumbling to the floor in the Walmart and curling into a ball until it stopped. My little brother Mark was freaked out when that happened, but unfortunately came to understand himself a couple months ago before Ellie died when he curled up on her kitchen floor in similar pain! Thankfully, he just had some serious ulcerage. I wasn’t so lucky to have something that would go away.

Next up in 2007 my great-grandma, Granny died. I thought back to all the times as a kid when I was terrified she’d die in her rocking chair and now here it was. She was gone. She lived into her 90s, and even though dementia made her a different person, she was still Gran. There was no turning back from that! I wrote a pretty emotional poem and read it at her wake, but what I wanted more than anything was to wake up myself and find out I was an 8-year old dreaming all this time. It didn’t happen.

After college I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I went to grad school because school was all I’d known and I wanted a masters degree. I got it in Higher Education Administration and became a Residence Hall Director at Cardinal Stritch University and then for 3 years at my alma mater. In my mind I was a kid again! It was fun. I was happy. Sure, things were a bit more complicated, but I still had my grandma Ellie, monthly Sonic comics (yep, 17 year subscriber :D) and I can deal with some chronic pains, right?

The Darkest Days

Then, a month after I learned my contract wasn’t going to be renewed at Lawrence, my grandma Ellie got sick. And it was fast. Like, 4 months later dead fast. I was already freaking out about my job and the impending loss of insurance, which, honestly, is a bigger loss than the income. But then I moved home and before I knew it I lost E-wa. I already wrote a blogs on these things – My Day With Death and Moving on from Lawrence so I won’t repeat here.

Emo Headphones

I’m a cool college freshman!

This summer I’ve analyzed my life like never before. I’m worried I might have some form of anxiety or depression or something, but despite the struggles I’ve faced for the past 10 years with dating and close relationships, I test low on screenings. However, until I find a job with insurance I can’t even take care of myself. Insurance is a nasty little thing. If I was 26 or younger I could be on my parents, but of course, I just aged out of being able to do that. My medication  for my stomach which costs about 30 bucks with insurance is 500+ without it. The medicine I use when my eye decides to go inflamed, turn red, and my vision blurs is over 110 dollars without insurance. I don’t have any and if my iritis, which appears to be a lovely companion to my stomach inflammation decides to flare up, I’m screwed. It usually flares around August so I’m realllllly hoping I get lucky this year! I already ceased my osteoporosis medication months ago.

I’d rather be in pain and sick than be bankrupt.

As a kid my parents had me covered, and granted, I was lucky to have two parents who were employed and provided for me. I’m lucky to still have parents who let me stay with them, free of rent, until I am back on my feet. I realized this summer how different 27 is from 7. My uncle I used to adore is still awesome, but now we disagree on things like politics, religion, student loan forgiveness, unemployment money… he’s conservative and not a fan of hand-outs. He doesn’t like social media or think a library job is viable. I don’t want my parents to have to help me, but I do support government aid. As a highly liberal atheist I have to be careful what I say. Point is, things have changed in ways I never even imagined as a naive child. I’m learning and accepting that my mom and my grandma and my relatives aren’t all perfect and struggled with their own demons that I never would have seen as a kid.

This world is a mess.  I’ve lived through Columbine, 9/11, Sandy Hook and many more tragedies. I don’t know if America is as fantastic as I grew up believing. I am disenchanted with the lack of social justice, human rights, stable economy, etc I don’t like the pressure and focus on the workforce to be slaving away 40-50 hours and not even making enough money to live comfortably. I hear European countries have closer to 30 hour work weeks. I also hear those countries have higher ratings of happiness…[1][2]

I spend a lot of time thinking about dying alone. Never finding love. As a kid I believed by now I’d have found somebody and be happily living like my parents were when they were my age. As I’ve watched 99.9 percent of my relatives over the age of 65 die, I worry about losing my parents. Seeing my mom grieving the loss of her mother and settle into being an orphan freaks me out, I’m not going to lie. I turn 30 in three years and I don’t know what I have to show for it other than a worn down body and damaged psyche.

Why do we have to grow up? What cruel joke has evolution forced on us? Granted, sure, some people age better and some people have more fortune and some people have less fortune. I’m lucky to even be where I am because it could be a hell of a lot worse. I just want the ANSWERS and the DIRECTION I didn’t even consider at 7. This isn’t an RPG video game. It’s far more difficult. There are only so many do-overs and definitely no Phoenix Downs or “Curaga” spells to heal my wounds or resurrect my fallen relatives.

I want to have insurance and I want Granny and Ellie back.

I’m in classes two and three of my 10 needed for my library science masters… I want to complete it quickly and be qualified for jobs, but I don’t know what to do! Social media? Cataloging? I try to be a writer, but I can’t think of any article ideas and don’t believe in myself enough or think I can write anything captivating. Writing a children’s book is NOT as easy as I thought.

I don’t know if I’m Peter Pan or Alice (in Wonderland), but I do know that I’m and old jaded man and there is no going back.

I have to make the most of what the rest of my life becomes. It was just a hell of a lot easier when it didn’t matter.


References:

1 http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2013/07/10/worlds-shortest-work-weeks/index.html?iid=F_Jump

2 http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/jan/08/cut-working-week-urges-thinktank

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My Loneliness Is Killing Me (The Cold Truth)

Dawn / Buffy

“People have a tendency to go away. And I miss them. And sometimes I wish I could make them stop. Going away.” ~ Dawn, Buffy 6×14

Loneliness is dangerous. It’s natural and normal and healthy. It’s not depression. It’s different from being needy, clingy, or codependent. All of these statements are true. This blog will attempt to defend against common misconceptions of chronic loneliness while hopefully educating others about the trials we face. I am not posting this as a cry for help, I’m posting this for those of my friends who have put out their own.

Recent research regarding the affliction of being lonely shows it can lead to inflammatory diseases, exacerbate those which exist, and even speed up death with as high a risk for mortality as smoking.[1] Loneliness adds a lot of stress and additional struggles for the immune system.[2] As somebody who has long suffered from chronic loneliness and various musculoskeletal inflammations, this concerns me a great deal. Like many invisible diseases (and yes, I consider this a disease) people tend to look the other way or undermine its severity. “Go talk to people. Get out. Just DO something.” It’s incredibly easy as somebody who doesn’t suffer to say this because they are wired differently. There is no “easy” fix for loneliness.[2]

Wait? Didn’t I just say it’s healthy and normal as well? Studies show being lonely is normal and healthy in reasonable doses, according to research that shows we are meant to be pack animals.

Society has pushed us in the direction of being “loners” and independent which goes against our nature. It kind of continues along the mantra, “everything in moderation.” Exhibiting loneliness means you have an inherent desire to be with people. Without people, there would be no reproduction or doctors or INCEPTION or Doctor Who or variety. Isolationism is not healthy or a key to long, fulfilling life. However, damn, if I don’t wish America would practice it a bit more! :) This is exemplified by research done in that showed men with HIV who were lonely got worse much quicker than those in relationships.

“Cole mulled these results over for a long time, but couldn’t understand why we would have been built in such a way that loneliness would interfere with our ability to fend off disease: “Did God want us to die when we got stressed?” The answer is no. What He wanted is for us not to be alone. Or rather, natural selection favored people who needed people.”[1]

Chronic loneliness is another beast. People look down on those who suffer from this degree of loneliness because it’s interpreted as a lack of independence or strength. The word that gets under my skin is “neediness.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s akin to calling somebody who thirsts for liquid “needy.” It’s a flawed conception and incorrect. It breaks my heart to see my friends expressing their loneliness on Facebook only to be ignored because people assume they are unable to be helped or just craving for love, but too ineffectual to find it (that comes all too easily to those looking down!) It’s one reason I can’t accept my parents’ urges to be prepared for a life alone. Sure, REALLY easy to say that when you and your siblings found your life partners at 20 and have been happy together since… Perhaps it’s rare to have a family that has avoided divorce?

Lonely people are perfectly capable of being alone AND surviving. However, at times it is an empty survival and no life at all. I love being alone. I’m an introvert, as my recent fame in the Buzzfeed article exhibits. I don’t like to see introverts or shy people trying to “overcome” this as if it makes us less people than extroverts. It upsets me. There is NOTHING wrong with being an introvert or shy (and the two are NOT the same thing) anymore than there is with having brown hair instead of blonde. Except, everybody knows brunettes are the best. That may not stop the world from discriminating against us and favouring extroverts, but I don’t like having to be untrue to myself in order to advance. Nonetheless, I’m getting off track.

From December 2007 to January 2013 I was single. I had friends and did things and socialized, but I was missing a companionship and thus even my favorite activities or moments felt somehow hollow. I was very lonely at times. I went to the movies alone and saw amazing masterpieces like Scott Pilgrim and Kick Ass with nobody to share popcorn with. I lived, but I felt lonely. The Doctor know what’s up -

Doctor Who - Hide (Lonely Doctor)

Source: iwearastetsonnow.tumblr.com

For 7 years I lived in a single room or apartment and I didn’t sulk or feel unhappy all the time. Misconception #1 Chronic loneliness is NOT depression.[1] It can cause depression or be a symptom of it, but I am not depressed.  If you think you may be depressed, I suggest checking out this resource about screenings – Depression Screenings.  I did not grow up in a house where people weren’t present. Maybe having a mom at home for 14 years doing daycare was somehow a bad nurture choice? Granted, I would be quite happy playing video games in the basement. As time has gone on, though, Disney movies and their impossible examples of “happily ever afters” have left me wanting to play video games with a partner. I don’t want to do everything with somebody or follow them or know their every move, but I want them there. And I want to be wanted. I don’t understand why this is seen as unhealthy, besides all the pain and misery it causes me as I strike out with every woman due to my impossibly high standards, expectations, and fear of abandonment? (I’m laughing inside, I promise!)

Misconception #2 – Loneliness doesn’t mean you NEED or WANT somebody to sit by you 24/7. Please. No. One reason I wouldn’t want a dog (see my blog on dogs vs cats) – they don’t understand personal space. When I’m with somebody I value, I feel happy even not speaking. Just knowing they are nearby working on stuff even if we’re doing different things makes me feel safer. According to therapist Fromm-Reichmann who defined and brought loneliness to the spotlight in the 1950s, “‘Real loneliness,’ as she called it, is not what the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard characterized as the ‘shut-upness’ and solitariness of the civilized. Nor is ‘real loneliness’ the happy solitude of the productive artist… [it's]  the want of intimacy.”[1] Intimacy is not the same thing as being attached at the hip.

Thus, being alone does not equal being lonely. Alone is a physical emptiness and can be refreshing. Lonely is an emotional one.. It helps to chat with people, but it’s still not the same. In many ways, the electronic movement has probably made loneliness more of an issue because of how connected people are. A good way to display this idea is through this fabulous scene from Scrubs where JD realizes people aren’t meant to be alone.

Lately, I’ve felt quite lonely. After 9 years of Lawrence University and watching my beloved grandmother get sick and die on top of other bad things, I’ve felt lost. I also decided recently I was asexual. Trying to explain that to family leads to confusion or my brother teasing that I’m actually gay. It’s easier than ever to feel lonely when you realize that you are now 1% of the population in sexuality, 1% in personality (INFJ), etc. You start to think you’re doomed to being lonely because you have to be asexual (which means not sexually attracted to people… just romantically). And then you wish you were aromantic so you could live blissfully with no desire for companionship at all. Feeling broken and being in between careers is a good way to feel lonely. How will somebody so difficult and complex as I am ever find the right match?

Being distanced from those I care about, people who understand me, or try to and people that love me makes me feel more alone.

Loneliness is dangerous. (But let’s be real, we all have something killing us faster. Whether it be smoking, drinking, soda pop, or termites in our blood. I don’t think that’s a thing.) And for the love of Yevon, don’t make any wishes to vengeance demons!


…and just because, some awesome amazing songs about loneliness

“Dancing slowly in an empty room…” [Christina Perri - The Lonely]

My favourite song… [The Smiths - Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me]

References

1Judith Shulevitz, “The Lethality of Loneliness, New Republic: 2013. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113176/science-loneliness-how-isolation-can-kill-you#.

2Stephanie Pappas, “Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health, Study Suggests,” LiveScience: 2013. “http://www.livescience.com/26431-loneliness-harms-health-immune-system.html.

 

Also, Buffy, Doctor Who, and Scrubs

Categories: Life, Serious | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Brushes with Fame – The Quest to be a Meme

Well, I’ve had an old goal reignited. I aspire to be an internet sensation for no reason other than being me. I recently had my “internet fame,” as my friends and I jokingly refer to it, when a Buzzfeed article (see here  - 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand) was posted that utilized a forgettable meme a student made of me a couple years ago. Since then, I have attempted my own Buzzfeed articles (if they can really be called that) to success and come to some realizations about “making it” in the world.

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It all started with that Introvert article. I had like, 20 friends repost it or contact me saying “OMG… is that YOU? #12?!” Well, the answer was yes. It was pretty awesome because it made me realize just how easily / lucky internet fame could be. How peculiar that the Buzzfeed editor who made that list stumbled on my neglected meme that was created two years ago and selected it for her list… and even odder that my friends all found that, randomly, before even knowing I’d be there. It’s like running into somebody in another state completely unexpectedly! I’m hardly famous. My face has been seen by 3.5 million people, but the meme isn’t being used elsewhere or spreading around the internet.

Nonetheless, seeing this has made me WANT to be a meme. I understand memes tend to be making fun of the person involved, but they can also lead to money. Monetizing a meme, once it goes viral, is not that difficult. If you’re really popular you might get book deals with huge advances, plenty of YouTube followers and thus ad revenue, and the ability to sell out and license yourself to television ads. I hear these people can often ride this to multiple year’s salaries. HA Talk about the “easy” way.

I located a bunch of my weird photos, because, being quirky and awkward, I have many, and posted them around to meme sites. Unfortunately, people don’t take kindly to “new content” so they mostly get ignored or down-voted or met by insult. I discovered Reddit can be a pretty mean place. However, there are more ways to get noticed.

Buzzfeed

I wrote my own Buzzfeed article / list inspired by the Introverts one – 31 INFJ Problems. It is certainly getting visited and my posts on Reddit and INFJ forums are met with more up-votes and positive comments than my meme ones. I’m not surprised. I think a lot of people who look at memes are rude and childish. Or, that could be a terrible assumption / generalization. Thankfully, my friends who are meme-obsessed like me are some of the good apples. 

I also made a Buzzfeed article about Doctor Who – 29 Undeniable Reasons The Doctor And Clara Are In Love. I know that catering to these niche audiences like INFJs or Whovians is a good way to get leverage and they already have forums and places that posting the article proves to be a ticket to hits. Creating a positive online identity is important to finding ways to get yourself noticed or make money. As such, I need to have THIS blog be interesting. I need my profiles to be well-made and I need to be careful about how much personal information I put out there.

I don’t feel shame in wanting to exploit myself for money. I have no job and even if I did, this has always been something I aspired to. I won’t be working in a high paying field. I have medical bills and student loans, don’t own a car, and have yet to be able to take any vacations. Granted, I’m not keen on the idea of traveling without a companion anyway, but the money isn’t there if I wanted. If I can market myself or get lucky using the internet, it would be wrong not to try. Money doesn’t lead to fulfillment or companionship, but it can provide happiness that broken cellphones and debt don’t. I’m not musically or artistically talented. My talent may very well be in making fun of myself. Plus, writing short stories or articles and getting them published would help make me “hireable” and assist my future dreams of getting my passion project children’s books published. People are far more likely to publish a book written by “Bad Luck Brian” or “iJustine” than that guy down the block.checked-my-voicemail-mom-said-stop-calling

The nice thing about finding a level of internet notoriety is I could still work in a library and write books, but I would be able to make some money on the side and improve my name recognition. I’m not looking for a way to avoid working in life… that sounds unfulfilling and truly lazy. I want to work and make a difference, but I want to have time for friends, family, and, as an introvert, recharging. I think society expects FAR too much out of us for the hours we must work each week to survive. That’s another rant for another time, but for now, I just want a bit of internet fame because it would be the perfect kind for an introvert :) I am definitely going to try to get some more meaningful things published and use my obsession and passion for social media to my advantage.

SUCCESS

EDIT: While writing this blog about 8 hours ago a stream of awesome things have occurred:

  • I received an e-mail telling me I had received “Cat Power.” You can get up to 5 “cats” on your profile on Buzzfeed and I have already received my first. I expect my second shortly as my lists continue to be viewed.
  • I received an e-mail that there were new comments on my post. I go to it and see the Associate Editor has replied comically to my Doctor Who post.
  • A few minutes later I get another e-mail that my post has been promoted to the FRONT PAGE of the Buzzfeed Community section. Not quite BUZZFEED front page because that’s reserved for employees, but OMG. This is awesome. Encouragement goes a long way with making me realize I can do things, even petty, silly, pointless things like posting 29 Doctor Who gifs with captions.
  • Not long after that I received an e-mail that my other post was also promoted to the front page.  Now I have two front page posts.
fdfdfdfff

Front Page Man x2

As of now, the INFJ article has over 17,000 views and the Doctor Who one has a surprisingly low 5.4 thousand. With such an enormous fan base, I expected it to go further, but I will definitely work to promote it more. The INFJ article has been shared 19 times via e-mail and has 624 Facebook “shares.” I checked out the comments on Reddit and searched twitter and was astonished to see people sharing with friends and complimenting the work.

People I had never met and never will posting things like “31 INFJ Problems – that’s me!” “INFJ probs. #24, (OK #21 too), #17, #16, #12, OMG definitely #11 and #7 (cause I’m embarrassing).” “if you ever wondered what it is like to be me…”

Keep an eye out for me, because I’m going places.

DOCTOR

Doctor Who stats

infj

INFJ Stats

Categories: Dreams, Library, Life, Serious | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moving On: Goodbye, Lawrence

Moving On

For 9 years from September 04 till now, Lawrence University was my life. Before I arrived for Welcome Week, I was coming from 3 years in Burlington, WI. Prior to that, I lived almost 15 years in Mundelein, IL.

Leaving Mundelein was horrifying. After being bullied at my second middle school I attended for 7th-8th grade, I had a fabulous freshman year. My former school district fed into the same high school as my current, so all my best friends were now in one place. I had two cliques. I felt like Sex in the City, except without the sex or city. It was awesome. And then my parents decided to move to Wisconsin.

I remember breaking into a million pieces. AmelieANOTHER move? Last time we switched schools I got bullied… I don’t want to go through that again!” Well, it didn’t matter. I switched. And I was bullied. Mostly in gym class, the same place I was once reduced to tears (but they were hidden) in middle school because I JUST. COULDN’T. DO. What my teammates wanted. Uncoordinated and unathletic -  Thaaaaaat’s me! All That - Amanda Bynes in Ask Ashley(Get well soon, Amanda.)

Despite the advent of the internet, I drifted from wonderful friends. I still miss them and often wonder of the road less traveled. (Cheers, Nick, Joe, George, Kyle, Alex, Matt and too many others…) Leaving Lawrence, where I spent seven years living on-campus ended up feeling a lot like leaving Mundelein which is why I am giving this history lesson.

B-Town Blues

I never really connected with Burlington, WI. I felt out of place. I belonged in Mundelein. I was shy and awkward, (and hilarious)tumblr_lw2xewcbkb1r790gdo1_500 but I still had a small group of friends I knew from Band (where I was Saxxy Drew) that I could vent to when I was pushed over on the track in gym class or told my ears and nose were too big or I was “gay.” I worked at Culver’s my senior year and had some peeps there. Leaving for college was scary and exciting all at once. I broke up with my girlfriend, Courtney, who I had dated for over a year to ensure I was ready for a fresh start.

LAWRENCE Freshman Year (Year 1)

During my freshman year, I learned that despite having been in accelerated classes and getting straight A’s for my entire life, I wasn’t really *that* smart. Lawrence was a wake-up call. I was now a B student, but I also received some scary grades I wasn’t accustomed to seeing… like D’s and F’s in Poli Sci and Comp Sci class. I wanted to leave, but I stuck it out. I was shy so I mostly hung around the 4th Floor Plantz guys and played video games like Final Fantasy 9. I also had a long distance relationship going with an old friend from Mundelein, IL so I spent a lot of time chatting.  My roommate was both a friend and a nuisance, but we became close my sophomore and junior years.

Sophomore Struggles (Year 2)

fuck-you-science

My second year I got a girlfriend and became an RLA (Residence Life Adviser aka RA). I loved putting on programs / activities for the residents and running the desk / duty at night. It was awesome. I still struggled though. First, I got diagnosed with a chronic disease that explained my months of crippling stomach pain. My relationship became tumultuous aaaand I got my first F. Well, a WF (withdraw failing) because I was not in anyway qualified for Psychopharmacology with Hetzler and no previous Psych courses. I tried tutors and studying, but in a course that had THREE graded tests as 33 percent of your final grade and spaced them so that by the time you have your second test back, the “Withdraw passing” deadline has passed, I was stuck. After my second test the professor said passing was impossible, so I had no choice but to withdraw. Man that sucked. For the first time in my life, I really epically failed at something besides sports. This bad grade was enough to bring my GPA a hair below the minimum to be an RLA, so my junior year I couldn’t even continue in my job. Someday I should write a blog about how stupid the grading system is and how ridiculous that experience turned out to be for me.

Jubilant Junior Year (Year 3)

Junior year was probably one of the best years of my life. I got elected Hall Council President and had a bunch of great friends I had made from being an RLA. I made friends that year as a Welcome Week Leader (freshman orientation) too. I was single all year and despite feeling lonely at times (blog on loneliness coming next week!), I persevered.

Senior Sexiness! (Year 4)

My senior year I had a quirky new girlfriend who also happened to be asexual… something which 5 years later I identified with. (See AVEN if you don’t quite understand what asexuality is. Yes, I’m straight.)  I was also an RLA again because my grades had improved. Not surprisingly, once the Gen Ed Requirements were done I stopped getting anything below a B. Senior year was awesome too. I had a fabulous group of friends and decided I wanted to stay at Lawrence. I decided I wanted to become a Residence Hall Director and keep working for LU! I made a Five-Year Plan of goals that I eventually completed in full.

Grad School (The Dark Ages)

After graduation, I started a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and after a year of that I got a job at Cardinal Stritch as an RHD! I knew this would position me to be a good candidate for an RHD job at LU. A year later, my mission was complete – the masters’s was done and Lawrence hired me as an RHD!

Residence Hall Director Era – “RHDrew” (Years 5-7)

The next three years would be three of the most rewarding and fulfilling years of my life! I made a bunch of awesome NEW friends and really enjoyed what I was doing. Immensely. I knew I wanted to give back to Lawrence forever and settle down in Appleton, but I also knew I couldn’t be an RHD forever and that I was hoping to settle in a department other than Campus Life where we had to serve in an on-call rotation with the duty phone.

Additionally, over my three years as an RHD I grew to love the town of Appleton and it became the place I spent the second longest time in my life. I explored every nook and cranny. It was safe and clean and the perfect balance of small versus large in population. I loved the little restaurants and….

Anne Shirley - Anne of Green Gables

And then it was over. My contract wasn’t renewed and I was in shock. My pleas were rejected. I was in the depths of despair for months,  which only was escalated by my breakup from my girlfriend, my grandma’s Stage IV pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and my dad’s own health issues which all surfaced in the same month. I desperately wanted to stay in Appleton at all costs to get married and be happy!

Summer 2013

I didn’t stay in Appleton over the summer to look for jobs because of my grandma’s proximity to death. RIP Ellie (See blog on that – My Day with Death). I didn’t really have the money to live without a roommate. I started my online courses for Library Science in hopes of eventually working at the Lawrence library and making a career out of it. From my home, I applied to various jobs at Lawrence. And then it hit me. Hard.

I don’t want to return to Lawrence. I don’t want to work there. I don’t want to live in Appleton.

If I go back, I’ll feel pathetic. I will be clinging to memories and safety. My fond memories of Lawrence are because of the people who I met there, like Erin, Allison, Lincoln, Paul, Sarah (x3), Ari, Tony, Molly, Tara, etc. I’m NOT an academic. It was the friends that mattered. It’s a fabulous institution, but it’s also not the most beautiful (little bro’s Lake Forest College’s red brick buildings got it beat).

1) Appleton smells bad when the paper factory gets going.

2) There are no buses on Sundays.

3) It’s a pretty conservative town.

Sure, it’s got SNOWY winters and the PAC and parks and TRAINS and restaurants, but there are definitely better places that I haven’t seen with more liberals, better public transportation, even more restaurants and maybe even mountains! I really want to see a mountain.

Sound of Music - Maria / Julia Andrews

I should probably see this movie someday…

It’s time to move on.

Onwards and Awkwards!

I have a class ring that I accidentally left in the care of my ex girlfriend the last time I was in A-town. I had it purchased last fall to remind me of how much Lawrence meant to me and how wonderful my time had been there. The side says “I am awesome.”  472065_762340466923_438198607_oI classified my years there in Harry Potter terms – last year was the 7th year, so it was Deathly Hallows. And how true and fitting that turned out to be. In many ways, my class ring is a horcrux. It holds part of my soul. The Lawrence part. However, there has to be more. I can’t, at 27, be done seeing the world. If I settle down, it should be because I’m older and have a companion and a full-time job. Plus, it’s not safe to have all my horcruxes in one place!

Obviously this realization was very difficult. It took a lot of intense thought. Sherlock - Benedict CumberbatchThere are plenty of reasons to be in Appleton – my brother David moved there 1.5 years ago, my ex girlfriend, who I am still very close to is there, good ole Tony Lor and all my former RHD coworkers and colleagues and residents are there too…. Not to mention the Queen Bee, the Brat Guy, Louie, and Muncheez Pizza!

But that changes. 3 years from now almost everybody I knew there will be gone. Next summer is my first reunion (what what, 4, 5, and 6 year cluster reunion with 2008-2010 classes!) I look forward to watching Lawrence grow and build new dorms and offices. I will definitely visit this fall, but the time has come to move on. It always felt somehow lacking without the Grill anyway…. RIP Viking Melts and Hot Dogs at 1pm on Saturdays.
Goodbye, Lenin. I mean Lawrence.

Lawrence Era in Numbers

9 Years of my Life

7 Years on Campus

4 Years in Kohler Hall

3 Years on staff

3 Ex-Girlfriends

3 Diseases (including Osteoporosis!)

2 years in Plantz Hall

2 years as an RLA

2 years as Welcome Week Leader

1 year as Hall Council President

1 year as Hall Council Secretary

1 year in Sage Hall

1 F (in PsychoPharmacology)

1 Sexuality Tweak (Sexual to Asexual)

1 Obsession with Portal & Doctor Who

Countless great friends and memories

Categories: Life, Serious | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are Dog Owners Unhinged? The Great Debate of Dogs vs Cats (SPOILER: Cats are better)

I’m a cat person.

I will start by saying I understand reasons people like dogs – they give you attention if you are lonely, are capable of doing cute things, and serve as a warning beacon or protection force for your house. Yet, as I’ve gotten older my dislike for “man’s best friend” has only grown. I know cat allergies are more common than dog, so that keeps a lot of potential cat lovers from giving it a shot. However, those who can have cats still may select dogs for reasons I can’t understand. My aunt and uncle have always had dogs, my grandma and great-grandma always had two at a time, and for the past five years, my parents have had a dog along with our two cats.

Etnie Wackiness

Our dog, Etnie

Costleee

Aunt’s dog, Costleee

Xmas Eve (3)

Aunt’s dog, Nestleee

When I’d be home on break from work / school the dog would get on my nerves very quickly. Now that I’m living full-time at my grandma’s old house with my aunt and two dogs, my opinions have only strengthened. I mean this lovingly, but are dog owners unhinged?

My Reasoning

Barking and Growling

How does anybody find this pleasant? My parents little dog has a shrill little yipe and the dogs here at my aunt’s house have both a mid-range yipe and a deep bark. I hear these sounds constantly. People have told me it means the dogs aren’t trained well, but over my life I’ve been around 15 dogs in various homes and have yet to experience a truly silent and chill dog.

The reasons for barking are plentiful. Our dog at home barks nonstop when my parents leave the house… or when the garage door goes up to signal their return. If my parents go out on the porch or into any room with a door closed, the dog stands by the door and barks and howls incessantly. Yelling “No!” does nothing. Here is a video illustrating my point.

Our dog also has a weird condition where she stops on the second stair from the bottom or about midway down a staircase and barks a “ruff!” until somebody “invites” her with encouraging (i.e. high-pitched and stupid) voices. That gets irritating. Fast. Especially because she loves to do it when I’m asleep. She’ll wait until the morning when I’m sleeping in and sit outside my room either barking or sit on the stairs outside my room barking to be invited down. But only when I’m sleeping. Similarly, whereas our cats open doors, she can’t figure out how to walk in a door unless it is wide open. When the door has a dog-sized crack, she still sits and barks until you open it wider. That is sooo irritating!

Let’s not forget the classic! Every time somebody walks past the house, or another dog barks outside, the dog barks. When there are sudden sounds, the dog barks or growls. I understand that people think it protects the house or warns of intruders, but 99 percent of the time it’s wrong. Get an alarm system. 99 percent of the time they DON’T give off false positives and are not going to wake you up at 5am because a squirrel was in a tree.

Also, I understand I am very easily startled. I’m jumpy. I’m paranoid. My desk area is near the front door which means every time I’m sitting there at peace, or concentrated on a homework assignment, one of my aunt’s dogs barks right behind me and scares the bejeezus out of me. I don’t think that’s good for somebody’s heart. Perhaps my easily being startled is just as much a health reason to avoid dogs as somebody with cat allergies!

Cats don’t bark. As a matter of fact, they meow. Which is adorable. It’s not obnoxious and they don’t do it very long.

Licking

How can anybody not find this disgusting? Saliva from an animal that eats… well… I won’t even talk about the things they eat outside. Its not sanitary. People say cat tongues are gross too, but it’s rare for a cat to lick a human. And they are much more likely to respect your wishes for them to stop. Our little dog at home licks nonstop. The dogs at my aunt’s house are a bit more respectful with that, but they still do it. My dad likes being licked. Why, dear God, why?

Walks

Going for a walk is a great thing. It feels good and lets you get your head straight. So why do people want to take a DOG with them? Dogs have to be walked to stay in shape and take care of their stupid dog business. However, walking with dogs is so NOT relaxing. They stop to smell or eat EVERYTHING. Getting places takes time. Other people with dogs look at you as if you have some sort of special bond and brainwashed humans chitter about how CUUUUUTE your dogs are. Yeah, cute. The fact that they go for walks outside means they are dirtier too. I guess as somebody who is OCD-ish and doesn’t walk around barefoot unless they plan on getting inside and wiping my feet off would find this disgusting. Our dog at home eats the most repulsive things. And in a sort of related topic -

Bathroom Use

I don’t want to even mention this, but I have to. Dogs are disgusting. Why people want an animal that has such little dignity as to decide to pee every few blocks with you standing right beside it, I’ll never know! Cats sulk off into a litter box that can be placed somewhere out of sight. And you don’t know when they are using it. I don’t want to know when PEOPLE are using the bathroom and think it’s disgusting how open some people are with their habits, so why would I want to know every time my dog is going? And dog owners seem to love to talk about it too… which is just… asinine. And why would I want a dog to stop and visit their Mother Earth restroom with me standing there, while people awkwardly walk past?

I can assure you, if they are people like me (read: jerks) they are probably feeling high and mighty about their cats back home and REALLY happy that scooping a cat box is nothing like reaching down and cleaning up after your dog so you can carry their waste home in a bag for the rest of the walk. At least cats bury their waste in sand. They understand shame. Good for them.  Thankfully, my aunt does all the dirty work with the dogs. I find myself gagging.

Plus, let’s not forget that they need to be let out throughout the day. The dogs I’ve known like to get people up early to do that. If a dog can’t share the same sleep schedule as a person, that’s an issue.

Furthermore, our dog here got skunked earlier this week. It was traumatic for the dog and my aunt. It’s happened 4 times to the poor dog in the past year. Indoor cats don’t have that problem. If the animals here were lower-maintenance kitties, the house wouldn’t still smell like skunk.

EDIT: 8/11 – THE FREAKIN DOG JUST PEED ON ME IN THE CAR DESPITE HAVING GONE BEFORE LEAVING.

Smells

Not much to say – dogs just smell worse than cats. Not worse than skunks, though. In fairness.

“Companionship”

Okay, as somebody who suffers from chronic loneliness, dogs are too much. When I say I want a companion, I don’t mean somebody who sticks their nose in my face and breaths on me every time I have food, begging for me to share. I like personal space. I like being alone, sometimes. (Look for a blog in the future about my research on loneliness, because I think people like me get a bad rep as being needy when in reality, our needs aren’t understood.) Dogs are always there. Our dog at home follows you everywhere and tries to sit on your lap. I don’t want that. I don’t want an animal that sits on my bed where my feet should be and barks to wake me up. Cats will be cute and they’ll nuzzle you if you’re lucky, but most of the time they got better things to do. They wouldn’t exactly make a replacement for a future wife, but they’re certainly better than a dog :)

I’m sure there is more but those are some of my main points. As for people who complain cats tear up furniture, if they are babies and you have the front claws removed, as barbaric as that may be, the problem doesn’t exactly exist. I’ve also heard complaints cat pee smells. Well, if your cat is peeing in the wrong places, it’s sick or not trained. Don’t hold that against it. As for hair balls? Yeah, gross. Not as gross as what dogs do. End of story.


As for my weekly update -

Things are going well with the library education. I’m wrapping up week 5 of 6 for my first course and so far I have received 100 percent on the two graded assignments I’ve submitted. My job search has stalled, but I had an interview I was really happy with a week ago. We’ll see if that pans out. If not, I am prepared to keep my life moving onwards and upwards.

The author side is still stalled. My muse has been difficult to channel lately.

If you missed my “Bucket List” blog last week, check it out! Next week I will be talking about loneliness.

Categories: Serious | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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