Those Days Where I’m Glad I Drive Alone

Maybe it’s just the end of the semester. Maybe it’s the extra hours I’m getting at work. Maybe it’s that suddenly every relative of mine has been reminded of my presence and feels entitled to my personal space and a certain amount of my time.

Probably a combination thereof.

But the clock’s ticking for a lot of different deadlines and the stress I’ve been dealing with hasn’t even began to fade. (Granted, skipping the Tuesday before Thanksgiving might have been a bad idea. No matter how crummy the weather was.) So I find myself looking for more and more ways to let the pressure off, while still keeping up. Hoarding de-stressing methods for next semester like a little stressed out dragon.

So, in an effort to not miss another assignment, I’ve decided to list as many as I could here. Maybe I can reference back to these for later.

De-stressing, the broke working college kid way:

  • Yell in the car. Don’t hold your thoughts in when people drive too slow or cut you off.
  • Sing in the car. With all the commuting I do, my voice has definitely grown stronger and belting out with no one to judge you feels great.
  • Fidget. Some people actually refer to this as ‘stimming’ (stimulating your brain) and it’s highly effective for some when there’s too much or too little going on.
  • Invest in a White Noise app. I recommend Brainwave Studio Free. Customizable and great for other situations, like focusing for tests or trying to fall asleep.
  • Puzzle apps. Nothing too complicated. Things that either only take up five minutes of your time before running out of lives or give you a boost in confidence when you gain another level. Candy Crush and it’s clones are rather effective.
  • Read short stories. Something that will take you away from whatever is currently stressing you for about ten minutes. I’ve found that self indulgent fan works are effective for me, but you might have to look elsewhere.

That’s all I have for now, but I did find an Huffingtonpost article that has more if you’d like to give it a read.

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How am I Going to be an Optimist About This?

I guess it was about time that I made a more personal post. Finally, some personal venting on my blog.

As with any college student, I am stressed. As with any college student with a part time job, I’m supremely stressed, on the verge of tears. I have a speech to write for a debate tomorrow and I cannot find a single good source. I don’t exactly agree with the side I’m arguing for, but I was assigned the side I was and I’m struggling to find a good perspective to argue from.

These past few weeks have been piling up on the stress with the extra work hours and exams looming on the horizon. I don’t cry. I’ve never been a crier. I went through two and a half months of bootcamp and did not cry. This new mountain of stress might be the straw that broke the camel’s back, though.

Right now, the only thing keeping me from breaking down and wasting time is the Old Hollywood trntbl playlist and binaural beats study aid video.  I’m aware that binaural sounds are pseudo science at best, but if it can help, I can’t afford to ignore it.

Maybe I just need to get better organization related habits and this sort of super stress will stop. I know that ‘College Success’ was supposed to prepare me for situations like this, but I took that online through a Florida Gateway College online dual enrollment class and I failed it most spectacularly. I suppose that is telling of just how suited I am for higher learning. Which is to say, not at all suited. I understand that ‘educated’ and ‘intelligent’ are two separate things, but I also know that society as I have to deal with it defines ‘success’ with words like ‘educated’ rather than ‘intelligent’.

I believe that it’s Albert Einstien that is often quoted as saying “…if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

It’s unfortunate how often ‘stupidity’ and ‘anxiety’ are put together because of this.

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I Miss Philly

Philadelphia is hardly the most beautiful or interesting city in North America. The weather usually sucks, the driving is horrifying, and the view of the statue of Pennsylvania’s founder William Penn from the LOVE park is awkward and hilarious. (That’s his hand, I promise.)

My stepfather and was raised in the city of brotherly love and every day I get a new story about how that name is fully ironic. From all the times that Eagles fans have cheered at players receiving injuries, brawls that have started at Flyer’s games, and their position of number 9 on on the crime index (where 100 is the safest), I am intellectually aware that Philly is probably one of the worst cities in America.

That being said, I’ve never had better Italian food than the calzones from Celebre’s Pizzeria and the cannolis from Termini Bros Bakery next door. Not to mention the full fledged Philly Cheesesteaks that could feed a family of four for at least a week. On top of all of this, during my trip, we were staying with my step-grandfather. Though he’s completely Irish-Swede, he cooks Italian like he was born in Naples. If I can suggest a trip to Philly for any reason, it would be the food.

The second reason I would give is the intense presence of art and American history. Phildelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and the well preserved Independence Hall across the street form the Liberty Bell are just the few major sights to plan for if art and history interest you at all. (It’s highly suggested, by me, that you watch the musical 1776 before visiting Independence Hall. Maybe even get the soundtrack on your music player of choice. The nerdy glee is more than worth it.)

And if pop culture is more your speed, you can always take the Rocky tour through Philly. You won’t be the only person attempting to run up the Philly Mueseum of Art’s steps to stand on the Rocky plaque, I promise.

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You Should See This

There’s a kids’ movie out in theaters right now that has the main character sing a cover of Creep by Radiohead. This same character does a cover of ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons and ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ by Elvis Presley. If that isn’t reason enough to go see it right this minute, I suppose I will simply have to give you more reasons.

The movie is called The Book of Life and it is easily worth the eight to twelve dollars it would take to go see it.

(The Book of Life promo via

  • The main story takes place in 1920’s Mexico. (Not your average fairy tale location.)
  • The framing device (A literary technique used to introduce the main story and set the scene. Think ‘Princess Bride’) is a modern misfit group of children listening to story being told by a museum tour guide.
  • While the story is about the ‘love triangle’ between the the main character and his childhood best friends, the rivalry between the two men never overcomes their friendship.
  • The artwork for this movie is amazing. (Do yourself a favor and take a look at the art at the official website.)

(San Angel concept art via

  • This movie is a colorful delight with it’s scenery, character design, and bold colors.
  • Directed by Jorge Gutierrez (El Tigre) and Produced by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim)
  • The soundtrack is just as amazing as the visuals.
  • Also, they have a wonderful tribute to Ennio Morricone
  • Did I mention that they covered Elvis, Radiohead, and Mumford & Sons?
  • There’s at least three original songs in this movie. All three deserve Oscar nominations.

There’s action, romance, beautiful art, and amazing music. Unfortunately, this is all I can reveal without spoiling the plot, but even if you think you know how this story is going to go, you will most certainly be surprised. So, treat yo’ self, and go see an amazing movie while it’s still in theaters.

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I Get Excited About Books On Autism.

It’s been an extremely long time since I’ve wanted an actual physical book. Even longer since I’ve wanted a non-fiction one. It’s not that I haven’t been reading, it’s more that I lurk on websites full of short fiction stories full of magic and sci-fi. And it’s absolutely free. Why on earth would I want any more heavy and difficult to properly store books in this digital age? (Before you try to argue with me, independently written stories online are just as valid as paperback trash romance novels that your mom reads. So, save it.)

But I want a book now. After years of living in my post-Potter depression, I’ve found a book that’s grabbed my interest

img via wikipedia

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison. It’s a hardcover and completely non-fiction autobiography, detailing how Robison grew up as an outcastin the 1960’s due to his Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). [Asperger’s is considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder as of 2013]

Robison dropped out of school and instead picked up an extreme fascination for sound engineering and electronics. A fascination that led to working with Pink Floyd’s sound company, engineering special effects for KISS, designing games and toys for Milton Bradley, and starting his own business repairing and restoring luxury cars.

This hits way too many of my interests for me to ignore. Audio engineering, 1960’s rock culture, and, most importantly, ASD. For once, I’ll know what to ask for this Christmas.

[Robison also wrote another book recently, “Be Different”. It was published in 2011 and seems to have excellent reviews on the Barnes and Noble website. I’ll have to check it out if I end up liking Look Me in the Eye as much as I expect to. Maybe if I keep up this blog after this semester, I’ll write a review or two on Robison’s books.]

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One Thing They Never Really Tell You About Bootcamp

If you talk to me for any significant amount of time my unfortunate habit of over sharing will kick in. It’s a combination of the odd social habits I picked up in all the customer service jobs I’ve had and the lack of social anxiety which I mostly lost in bootcamp.

Yep, I’ll over share and tell you all about bootcamp.

You see, after high school, college was way too big of an idea for me. I would actually have to know what I wanted to do with my life. I had to have a passion for something. I had no idea what I wanted to do and while I can be obsessive most of the time, I don’t think I’ve ever been truly passionate about anything. Except for naps, maybe.

So, in my brilliant little 17 year old mind, joining the military wasn’t as scary as joining a college. Less debt, more benefits and guidance, what more could a girl ask for?

Naps would have been lovely.

I succeeded in enlisting into the US Army and was shipped over to Fort Leonard-Wood. Fondly referred to as Fort ‘Lost-in-the-Woods’. Home of the 3rd Chemical Brigade and the main training base for every Military Police (MP) that ever was or will be. When you enlist they tell you all sorts of things to get you ready for the reality of Basic Combat Training (BCT). What seems to slip every recruiter’s mind is sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation, as defined by is the “general term for a state of sleep inadequacy at the appropriate time, which may be acute or chronic.”

The first three weeks of BCT was nothing but sleep deprivation and physical training (PT). We were very very lucky to get to bed at 10pm and wake up at 4am.

If someone’s gear or bunk was out of place at night while the Drill Sergeants (DS) were making their rounds, or if a a private on night shift fell asleep or simply didn’t radio in to the DS in charge that night, all 150+ privates were dragged out of our bunks out into the court and drilled in PT. Or as the DS’s liked to call it ‘Corrective Training’. Using exhausting and painful physical training to correct improper social behavior.

I’ve heard of sayings such as ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, but I think the anger Drill Sergeant Rivera showed when a third platoon private left his rucksack out next to his bunk (as opposed to stored properly in his locker) definitely rivals the fury of hell. I clearly remember that it was snowing that night, mostly because the push-ups I was doing caused me to get several hundred close ups of the snow under my hands.

Recruiters will warn you that the physical training will be difficult. They’ll tell you how mean the drill sergeants are and what they are and are not allowed to do to you. But I never once heard a single recruiter mention sleep deprivation.

Halloween is Nearly Upon Us

So, one of the the most exciting holidays is coming up.

Halloween Witch Clipart from Google Search

 Ah, yes. Halloween. The history nerd side of me would like to infodump the entire history of the holiday to you, but I’ll let you read up on it yourself, if you’re curious. History of Halloween, Instead of nerding out about old Celtic traditions, I’ll use this post to do something a little more useful.

 As fun as the week before and night of Halloween can be, the unfortunate state of the human race makes taking precautions necessary.

Drunk Driving PSA from tumblr user halloween-pumpkin

  • I shouldn’t have to explain this one. If you’re old enough to drink, please prove your adult status and make the decision to not drive.
    • That being said, there most likely will be drunk drivers on the road. Stay safe and be careful when traveling on Halloween.

Black Cat picture from Google Search

  • Take extra precaution with pets. Even if you aren’t giving out candy, some stubborn trick-or-treaters are probably going to ring your bell a few times.Or there might be a noise party upstairs. Take the time to make sure your pets aren’t stressed by the noise and activity.
  • The ASPCA has a bunch of good tips to help you keep your pets happy and healthy.
    • Owners of black cats should also be wary this Halloween. The superstition surrounding your pet makes it a lot more susceptible to violence than others. If they’re an outdoor kitty, consider keeping them in for a few days just in case.

2013 “We’re a Culture Not a Costume” Campaign

  • For the love of God, do NOT wear a racist costume. I shouldn’t have to explain it. Blackface, Native American Headresses, and ‘Lazy Mexican’ costumes are not acceptable.
  • Also, for anyone considering doing ‘Day of the Dead’ sugar skull face paint, don’t. Dia de los Muertos is a holiday completely separate from Halloween that is all about honoring the dead. Please show a little respect for the beliefs and traditions of others.
    • Please consider checking out Ohio University’s STARS organization to see more posters.

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The Introverted College Student is Thankful

So, starting college was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There’s all the usual reasons, future career success,education, and networking are all very important. What I find myself most impressed with, though, is that when a professor is done with instructing nearly everyone pulls out their head phones or ear buds.

No more sneaking the wires up jackets or worrying about being caught and given detention. High school is long over and no we’re all adults who are paying for our education.

While this seems just somewhat interesting to some people, it’s incredibly important to me. All throughout grade school, I have had problems with paying attention. Either the topic at hand wasn’t stimulating enough to stick or it was too much and I would get overwhelmed. Self study was the bane of my existence. I flunked two online courses through dual enrollment because of this issue. My mother started throwing acronyms like ADD and ASD around, trying to explain why it was so difficult to do something that was apparently so easy.

When I signed up for classes this semester that had ‘lab time’ I expected that I was going to struggle just the same as I did in my dual enrollment classes. Then I had my first math class, which took the first hour in the class room with traditional instruction and then the next hour in the studio. Following everyone else’s lead, once the professor was done instructing everyone how to use the online application, I put my ear buds in. I took one cautious glance around to make sure no one was getting in trouble for having their’s out as well, still coming to terms with the independence granted to college students.

I’ve never liked math, but having music constantly playing made it easier to think and problem solve. Without it, I’d probably be a fidgety mess or just so extremely bored and tired. It’s there to help me focus if the task at hand is either too much or too little. The best part of college is definitely the freedom to use what coping methods I need to study.

I usually have a fairly eclectic mix to listen to, but I’ve found that some genres work better than others for me. Here’s a list of links to some songs that I’ve used. I tried to make a decent mix of them so you might find something you like:

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Wouldn’t you know it, I’m not a poet.

I always wanted to write poetry. Seriously, it’s been the most vague desire out of all my passing whims and fancies. Wanting to learn ASL (American Sign Language) or engine mechanics have both been some more defined urges. But poetry? I’ve been writing for self expression and my own entertainment for years. I’m a member of another blogging site where my friends and I write stories together.

But poetry?

Would it rhyme? Would it have some fancy meter? Would the very shape of the lines contain another meaning in themselves?

Basically, I’ve always wanted to be Robert Frost. I know I’ll never be Robert Frost. That hasn’t stopped me from memorizing ‘Stopping in the Woods on a Snowy Evening‘ to recite to myself whenever I get down.

Maybe I’d be lucky and be like Leonard Cohen, the Canadian songwriter. I can’t find a clear and official source on it, but I’ve read that he wrote nearly 80 different and original verses for his song Hallelujah. 80 different verses following the same pattern and somehow he narrowed them all down to just seven for his original recording and then five for the later 300 plus covers. Wow.

And that’s just the kind of poetry that rhymes.

Every day I encounter the non-rhyming poetry on the other blogging site. Stream of consciousnesses, smooth flowing things. No more words than necessary and formatted in all sorts of ways. One line aligned left, another aligned right, the next in the center. Whatever helps drive home the meaning of the words. It’s usually about relationships gone sour. I guess I can relate a little, but what always gets me is the precise word choice.

It’s like minimalist poetry. Neat lines in a visually appealing format, no longer or shorter than absolutely necessary. There’s no mistaking the meaning and intent, even with the metaphors, similes, and poetic imagery. Everything about these poems points to the exact meaning. Every letter has a purpose.

Maybe it appeals to the parts of myself that developed to appreciate to straight talk and blunt honesty. Yes, it’s poetry with flowery and fiery words, but it’s honest and bare. The authors have no word requirement to meet and have no need for fluff and filler.

Maybe I’ll figure out how to write like that one day. One day when I have no word requirements.

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What’s in my Blue Earbuds

(Brilliant title, I’m aware.)
So week three of classes and another post is due. Haven’t been given an topic to write on, so I write about the music I’m listening to right now.

(I need something to do while it rains like crazy. I would rather not drive home in that mess, thank you.)

I’m aware, that unlike myself, not everyone is into the pop-punk genre of music. I understand perfectly, but I absolutely and thoroughly enjoy every version and sub-genre of punk. I get excited when those schools I so enjoyed in middle school come on the radio. I sit in math lab with songs about riots and broken families playing in my ears. Morbid and strange? Probably, but it’s all relative to your own experiences. There’s an attitude in pop-punk that I haven’t found anywhere else. It’s cathartic with a good beat if nothing else.

So, having explained myself, you might understand that I’m nearly bouncing in my seat thinking about the newly released Fall Out Boy song ‘Centuries. Oh. My. God. I’ve had songs move me to tears, I’ve had near-religious experiences to god-like guitar riffs and angelic vocals. I got shivers the first time I heard the growl in ‘Monster‘ by Skillet. But there’s a very short list of songs that have made me feel like I could punch Zeus in the face and sit on his throne. Centuries is currently at the top of that list.

Cover art for Fall Out Boy’s new single ‘Centuries’


Music, at it’s core, is just another way to tell a story. The story that Centuries tells is one story I’d love to live out. “You will remember me, remember me for centuries.” The way Patrick Stump sings that line sounds like a political regime rising in fast forward. In all beliefs and religions I’ve read about, something stays roughly the same. Everyone honors their dead. They commemorate the ones gone. There’s a certain immortality after death for those who make the history. There’s power in knowing that people will still talk about the things you did long after you’re laid into the ground. Even if they have nothing good to say.

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