Spring 2015 Recap

Monday is the last day of class for Spring term and it is completely bittersweet. I really loved my professors, classmates, and the course material. Definitely a great start back to school!!

Working 46 hours a week and attending school required me to establish a daily routine, because time is so so SO limited.

My mornings started pretty early, so I can maximize my time. I actually learned to love the mornings for the same reasons I love winter: it’s quiet, reflective, solitary, and not many other people like them.

A day in my life for this quarter looked a lot like this:

5:00 am — Wake up, feed cat, brush teeth, etc.

5:30 am — Go to the gym, where I do weight lifting and cardio. Rinse off and get ready afterward.

7:15 — Bus to school, where I drink tea or coffee while preparing for class and/or do homework on the way to and from.

8:00 — Eat breakfast (usually yogurt with fruit/granola) before first class.

8:30-10:30 — Class

10:45 — Bus home

Noon — Take a longer nap or work on homework while eating lunch (usually some type of chicken and carb)

1:00 — Nap time.

Mid-afternoon (time varies) — work

11:30 — Bedtime: prep food, bag, and clothing for next day, wash face, brush/floss, yoga sometimes.

**Wednesdays had a different schedule due to my second job.

Weekends (before work) were for cleaning, cooking, other chores, and getting bulk homework out of the way, since my professors like to assign things during the week. As the course progressed it became harder to clean and prep for cooking, so that was more challenging to do.

I read some really important books for my Women’s Writers Literature course. I put a list up on Goodreads for anyone interested.

I took two classes (both English) and though it was tough to write so many essays and papers, it was SO MUCH FUN.

My composition class was combined with an Art Learning Community, so the entire course was centered on different topics within art. We had another professor shadowing the course and she happened to be an artist. This was an amazing course.

My literature course was also amazing. A diversity class, focused on Women’s Lit, felt more like a book club (where we actually talked about the books). My classmates were so insightful and really open minded, even though we all had extremely different perspectives. I wish I could take this class forever!

These two professors I had this term were possibly the best I have had. Not only did they treat their students fairly, but were excellent, passionate professors. I’ll miss seeing them daily!

I have three weeks until I start my next term and it will be filled with lots of unassigned books and naps.

Review: Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell

From the publisher

“Real” sorority life in all its f**ked up glory.

Taylor Bell comes from a long line of Beta Zeta sorority sisters, who all expect her to pledge upon starting at the university. But Taylor has other plans: she’s determined to give her family the proverbial middle finger and destroy the rich tradition they hold so dear by eschewing sorority life altogether.

However, Taylor’s resolve soon melts when she falls in with a group of hilarious, ultra-saucy girls, who introduce her to all things Greek and soften her to the idea of joining. Resigned to the fate the Greek gods have dealt her, Taylor pledges Beta Zeta and embarks on a collegiate career filled with the kind of carousing sure to make any sorority sister proud.

dirty rush

I was expecting this book to be a peek into the current world of Greek life.

And it is, complete with the passive-aggression, weird slang, and creepy rush tactics; but I also thought much would have changed from “my time” in Greek life (other than technology).

But it hasn’t.

Brought to us by the publishing gods that head the Written By Greeks, For Greeks parody sites Total Frat Move & Total Sorority Move, I was not disappointed with this South Park meets Mean Girls novel.

I believe my exact words to a couple of friends (both are Greek alumni) and my Little were: it’s fucking creepy how accurate this is.

College social life is messy. What do you expect when you add thousands of co-eds, with most on their own for the first time? Add in the bubble and the delicate social balance of the Greek system to that, and it can just be plain ugly.

Taylor Bell (obviously a penname, possibly for the cunt-punting scandalous queen herself, Rebecca Martinson) explores many themes that permeate Greek systems across North America:

  • The Add Water for an Instant Social Life whirlwind of the Greek system.
  • Loyalty to your organization.
  • Drugs, alcohol, and sex.
  • True friends — Greek and GDI — who are there for you in times of need.
  • The consequences of shocking secrets and scandals from years before you that affect you by association.
  • The fickleness of reputation.
  • The sheer overwhelming social hierarchy within and outside of your chapter.

It was a profound, highly entertaining read and I’m glad to add it to my bookshelf. I related more than I’m comfortable to admit publicly and I recommend it for everyone (Greek or Geed) who has heard of the Greek system and likes laughter with a dash of reality.(Which probably excludes every inter/national headquarters established. And parents.)

Read the first three chapters of the book here

**Note: while the publisher did send me the book to review, this is not a sponsored post. This review is an honest review and completely my own.

Next Chapter: Undergrad

The next – and my most awaited – phase of my life is becoming a reality. It’s both terrifying and exciting at the same time.

Finishing my education has always been a priority, however circumstances delayed it quite a bit. Not finishing has never been an option.

I’ve been out of classes for five years and in three weeks I will be a card-carrying, backpack slinging student.

I’m now considered “financially independent” by the government (though I have been since I was 18) and a “non-traditional student”. I get carded for R-rated movies, yet I’m a non-trad. At least I’ll blend in.

I’m nervous as fuck.

It’s not the coursework I’m worried about. I’m a good student and I love learning. It’s not even work/school balance. My job is aligning nicely with my educational goals. I will be saying goodbye to the dreaded morning shifts, making it easier to sign up for classes without completely throwing a wrench into the delicate balance that is shift scheduling at a hotel.

The thing is: I have a lot of hesitations about trusting a higher education institution, considering my first time around, I got burned pretty badly due to a fucking clerical error. In retrospect, I’m grateful, since the field I was studying wasn’t something I’d want now, nor would I be where I am without those series of events happening. But it doesn’t mean I’m not cautious and slightly paranoid. The trust isn’t there. My micromanagement muscles will definitely be flexed over the next few years.

For about a year, I thought the tuition for the year was the tuition of one quarter. You can imagine my panic on how I was going to afford that without trading my future salary to pay off loans (which are off limits). Thankfully, I was wrong and I will most likely achieve my goal of graduating debt free, if I’m diligent and careful.

I had the “college experience” the first time around. I lived in the dorms, I joined clubs and organizations, I partied, etc.

Now, I just want my damn degree.

What I Read: February | What I’m Reading: March

February reads

Book club reads:

Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp by Mary Cronk Farrell

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Other reads:

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore, (Illustrated by Kevin O’Neill)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (read-a-long with R.F. and J.G.)

March To Be Read:

Book club reads:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Other reads:

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (currently reading!!)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (read-a-long with R.F. and J.G.)

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (A to Z read)

Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell (sent for review)

What did you read last month? What are you reading this month?

What I Read: January | What I’m reading: February

January reads

Book club reads:

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (cont’d)

Other reads:

Kim by Rudyard Kipling (A to Z read)

A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

Paper Towns by John Green

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (A to Z read)

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan

Wynter #1 by Guy Hasson and Aron Elekes (Illustrator)

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist)

Fables (Deluxe Edition, Vol 1) by Bill Willingham (Illustrated by Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha & Craig Hamilton)

Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham (Goodreads Author), Mark Buckingham (Illustrator), Steve Leialoha (Illustrator)

Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction (Writer), Chip Zdarsky (Artist)

February To Be Read:

Book club reads:

Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp by Mary Cronk Farrell

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Other reads:

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolff (A to Z read)

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (will I EVER get to this??)

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (A to Z read)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill (Illustrator)

What did you read last month? What are you reading this month?

Looking good, 2015

This is the year I’ve been waiting for since I got the news six years ago I would have to leave school. Due to a clerical error, my financial aid was compromised, I owed a semester’s tuition in backpay, and $8k in student loans.

I cleaned up the back pay tuition, started figuring out what I really wanted to study and decided to wait until I was deemed “financially independent” by the government before returning to school. That way, I wouldn’t have to use my mom’s income on financial aid paperwork (which is irrelevant to my education, as she doesn’t and can’t contribute financially) and could actually get adequate aid for my income. So 2015 became the year I’d return. It’s been this light at the end of the tunnel that I’ve been focused on and now it’s here.

2015 has also become a promising year elsewhere. At work, I gained a new title (in addition to the ones I already have), for which I’m traveling for training to Portland in a couple of weeks, gained more independence, and gained a second job doing something that allows a creative outlet. My fitness has been a bigger priority as I’m mentally able to push myself further and further. I’m participating in a running challenge with a couple of friends and setting fitness goals I never have before.

I’ll be traveling to Chicago, where some of my greatest friends and I will engage in excellent experiences such as seeing the Blue Man Group, running in the Badass Dash 7k, Smashing Pumpkins fangirling, and — reminiscent of Shenanigans Master Ferris Bueller himself — a trip to the Art Institute and lunch at a fancy restaurant.

The last few weeks have been telling. If I feel as if parts of me were dormant for quite some time and I’m not sure if there’s an exact reason why, nor do I really care. People change and grow, but it’s hard to say whether I think a person can change completely. I think essentially we have a core personality that can fluctuate into different personas, behaviors, and habits throughout our lives. But that core personality is hard to change, if it can be changed at all.

The two years encompassing my senior year of high school and freshman year of college were a wild ride. There was so much change, so much freedom, so many shenanigans, and so much enjoyment in my life, despite the depression still hovering over me, even thundering its ugly roar.

Despite the ugliness of that and the demons that caused it, those years are still probably the happiest I had been, up until now at least. I finally feel as if I am liberated again, only this time, liberated completely because,  for the first time, I’ve been able to manage the depression rather than run from it. I feel unstoppable. And it’s fucking awesome.

How I do it: winter running (outside)

This is my second year running in winter and I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to do it. Though it seems crazy (and…well, it’s running), winter running is definitely possible, safe, and fun with a bit of planning and caution.

Things I ALWAYS run with


Energy gels, electrolyte tablets, earbuds, chapstick, housekey, ID, insurance card, pepperspray, waterbottle & armband


  • Cell phone, earbuds, & armband: I use my phone for music/podcasts/audiobooks and for the Nike Run app. Also, it’s good to have if I have an emergency.
  • Waterbottle: You do need to hydrate in the winter!! My waterbottle has a little loop for me to hold it and a pocket to carry my housekey, ID, chapstick and some energy gels.
  • Security items: housekey, ID, pepperspray: Maybe I’m paranoid, but I seriously get freaked out about getting into any type of trouble and not being able to be identified in case I can’t do that myself. (I watch too much Criminal Minds). The ID I have is an expired drivers license I keep in my waterbottle pouch. I taped emergency contacts and emergency info on the back and have a copy of my insurance card too. I have “runners” pepperspray that has a Velcro loop so I can just let it hang out in my hand.
  • Running shoes & running socks: Having good running shoes and socks is so so so important. When I switched to non-cotton running-specific socks, it greatly reduced blisters. Go to a sporting goods or specialty running store for your shoes to get fitted. If you already have good shoes and socks, tying your shoes to fit your feet is also a nifty little trick I learned and helps the fit and to reduce injury.

 Winter Running

1. Motivation & determination

The biggest deterrent for a lot of people is the weather. Warming up is something I started to do to help the initial shock of the cold. I throw on my music and jump around a bit before I get going, which gets me pumped up too. Getting out of bed is probably the hardest.

2. Clothes

Follow the rule of dressing as if it is about 15-20 degrees warmer. I started out using the What To Wear tool Runner’s World has and adjusted after trial and error.


Clothes for a 20 degree day


Arsenal of hats, neck scarf, headbands


The best base clothing is made out of a moisture wicking fabric so it doesn’t freeze against you. I like fleece for my outer shell and for insulation. DO NOT wear cotton as a base layer (the layer that is against your belly). It doesn’t insulate and just absorbs your sweat, making you colder when wet.

A note on underwear: don’t wear cotton or anything that will bunch up, if you wear anything at all. Get a good sports bra.

Here’s what I wear for each temperature bracket. Keep in mind this is the feels like temperature:

50 degrees or higher:

  • Capris or shorts
  • Short-sleeved shirt

40-50 degrees:

  • One pair of leggings
  • Thin long-sleeved shirt
  • Gloves, depending on wind chill
  • Headband

30-40 degrees:

  • Two pairs of leggings
  • Short-sleeved shirt
  • Long-sleeved fleece jacket
  • Headband or hat
  • Gloves

20-30 degrees:

  • Two pairs of leggings
  • Short-sleeved shirt
  • Long-sleeved fleece jacket
  • Headband or hat
  • Gloves
  • Neck scarf (to cover face)

10-20 degrees (if not on the treadmill or indoor track)

  • Two pairs of leggings
  • Thin long-sleeved shirt
  • Short-sleeved shirt
  • Long-sleeved fleece jacket
  • Headband or hat
  • Gloves
  • Neck scarf (to cover face)

Sub-10: treadmill and indoor track

3. Ice spikes

I wear SnowTrax pretty much every time I run in the winter. They’re easy to remove and light if there’s not much snow or ice and definitely worth having for when there is. I slipped on ice last year and was out for a month because I twisted my ankle when I left them at home. I can’t recommend having them enough.

4. Timing & planning

It’s ideal to go running when the temps are highest, but it’s not always possible when there’s less sunlight out. No matter what season it is, it really helps me to schedule the runs at rigid times; the times just change depending on the season. Check the weather, have your gear out and ready (or if it’s a morning run, sleep in them), and when the clock hits run time, GO. Be flexible with your running days or distance length to accommodate for weather.

Run in safe places, especially when dark (regardless of what gender you are) and find a clear path. Running through college campuses, cemeteries, and k-12 school campuses is the best bet since they’re typically lit and plowed. One thing I’ve done several times is scouted a route by bicycle or walking to see how the conditions are for running.

5. Group running

Join a running club that runs in winter or find a running friend. Some of my longest non-race miles are usually on one of my group runs. In a good club, there’s at least one person that matches or is willing to go your pace. Having someone to meet makes it infinitely harder to cancel a run when your bed is too warm and your couch is too comfy.

6.  See and be seen

There’s really no such thing as “too much visibility”. Drivers aren’t always looking for things that aren’t cars and that triples for winter, because who in their right mind would be out in the cold? (raises hand)


Waterbottle with reflective strip, headlamp, ankle strap, SnowTrax, and running gloves with reflective details

Currently, I use a headlamp and a reflective ankle strip. My shoes, SnowTrax, and running gloves have reflective details. I also have a highlighter-yellow hat and jacket.

Some other ideas: reflector vests, reflector pins and tags, adding reflecting tape to your existing clothing and accessories, reflector bands, clipable lights, shoe lights, etc.

Do what works for you and isn’t too cumbersome. The longer it takes for you to get out the door the less likely you’ll go run. I’m a sucker for reflectors since lights take batteries and time to turn on. I do recommend at least a headlamp so you can see.

Tip: novelty colored reflectors (pink, red, blue, green, etc) are typically dimmer. Don’t trust the picture! I know orange, white, and yellow make you look like a traffic cone, but at least you’ll be seen.

A pair of sunglasses are also helpful if you’re out in the light. White snow makes it hard to see when the sun is out.

Winter is probably my favorite time to run. It’s beautiful, easier to adjust to temperature, and much less sweaty.

Lace up and get out there!



Winter runners: what would you add to this list?