Me, Lately

1. I created a Twitter account specifically for the blog. You can follow it here. I pretty much refuse to create separate accounts in Google anymore just because they make it so hard to log in and out of different accounts now (am I the only one who thinks this?), but stuff like Twitter is easy to switch between. I realized when I started using Twitter for a class recently that I have person stuff, I have blog stuff, and I have academic stuff all in one account. I honestly don't use Twitter very much so it never really bothered me before, but I figured eh, let's create a separate account. Plus the username will make it easier for people to find. If you're following the old account, you're welcome to still follow, but the new account is where I'll be posting all blog related stuff.

2. I've kind of been getting into Instagram, which I totally didn't expect. Although I don't follow a ton of people right now, I like having a picture feed and I like posting little daily stuff. If you're interested in micro blogging or seeing what my day to day life looks like, or what's on my nails, or whatever, you can check it out here. While I'm not posting very often here right now, that's a better way to keep up with me.

3. I've been really into stir fry. And pasta. They're both great things to whip up without a recipe, which is nice when you're cooking only for yourself, and they make great leftovers.

4. I finally got a remote for my camera, so I'm planning to take some self portraits soon. I've really digged the idea since the A Beautiful Mess Girls talked about it forever ago and I just never had convenience equipment to do it before.

5. I'm doing pretty well on my New Year's Resolutions. I'll be talking more about this soon. How about you?

6. I recently got my first Graze box after a friend turned me onto it. Have you guys tried any healthy snack box services? Graze delivers natural snacks every two weeks. Each box comes with four, individually portioned snacks and costs 6 dollars. I've only tried one of my snacks so far, but I liked it. I feel like the box is a little overpriced, but it's a nice way to add a little variety to your diet. Plus they do customize as you rate the snacks on the website, so that's cool (no, they aren't sponsoring me or anything). If you want to try it, you can use my friend code and get your first and fifth box free: vyfk3rkme.

7. I hate weather that causes me to have to watch my feet while walking. And causes me to be cold in my own home. And strikes fear into my heart when I'm backing up down my driveway.

8. I'm really enjoying teaching creative writing so far. It's the bomb. Before this I was teaching comp which I really liked, but generally the students are more engaged in the creative writing class and it's a little more playful. It's a nice change of pace.

9. The thing that's almost worse than being broken up with is the way that everyone then asks how are you doing and you know that they really mean how are you doing in reference to the breakup and it's awkward because you just really don't want to talk about it. But you would be super sad and offended if they didn't care or ask about how you are doing. So it just sucks all around.

10. I'm turning in a first draft of my thesis on Friday and it's terrifying/exciting. It's going to be rough, and there are many revisions ahead in the next month and a half, but yay!

How are you, lately?

Yours Truly, Jen

20 Things About Me

I always feel uncomfortable talking about myself; writing a bio is my worst nightmare. I think a lot of people feel this way. I prefer to put myself into fiction, little bits, little habits, little ideas, little memories of mine into each story. But, by this age, I know a lot about myself, and I don't expect myself to change too terribly much anymore. I mean, I'm always changing--growing up, having new ideas, fulfilling wishes, etc.--but I don't expect things that are inherent about myself to shift too drastically. Not too many of them anyway. Since I'm bringing the focus inward right now, I thought I'd post some more information about myself. Making these lists occasionally is fun, inwardly reflecting and labeling, and you're still getting to know me after all. I'm still letting you.

  1. I'm a yo-yo body moisturizer. As in person who yo-yo's in applying body moisturizer, not some hip-hop form of lotion. I always put lotion on my face. Every single day.
  2. I have a complicated relationship with my family.
  3. I hate baths.
  4.  I always wear my hair down.
  5. I wish my nose were thinner.
  6. I have always loved my freckles.
  7. I always follow too many TV shows, and end up getting behind and drop a few of them because I don't feel like catching up on them. If you don't feel like catching up on them, you probably shouldn't be watching them in the first place, right?
  8. I'm terrified of eating raw meat.
  9. I window shop online constantly.
  10. I rarely remember first impressions.
  11. I'm not a very good friend. As in, I'm too introverted to be the best possible kind of friend most of the time. I want to hang out with you, but I don't even think about inviting people to hang out a lot of the time. INVITE ME TO HANG OUT, please.
  12. When I'm having really complicated feelings, I have to write them out because I am not good at thinking or articulating complicated or awkward things without putting them to the page. I straight up write letters to boyfriends, y'all. I have had conversations off of written notes.
  13. I go long periods of time without crying. As I get older it gets a little easier to make me cry, but I'm not a big crier most of the time. I am also an ugly crier. Like my nose gets all red and my eyes get puffy and it just ain't cute.
  14. Most of my shoes are in neutral colors and that's something I really want to change.
  15. It is not uncommon for me to refuse to wear pants. Like, I just don't like wearing them a lot of the time. Dresses for life.
  16. I always wore pants up until college. I don't think I ever wore a dress to school in high school (except for, you know, special events. Not like to a regular school day).
  17. My life is a constant will she or won't she grow out her bangs drama (psst I won't).
  18. I love kids, but I also worry that I won't be a patient or selfless enough mother.
  19. I fall in love with people on the street all the time.
  20. I always have a million projects waiting for me to finish them.
Yours Truly, Jen

P.S. If you read this, you should totally leave a comment telling me a little something about yourself.

Things I Miss

Everyone has been so sweet about reaching out to me and telling me they're here for me and extending condolences and I've felt really loved in a lot of ways and really unloved in a lot of different ways. I have plans for girls' nights and things like that in the near future, but right now I'm spending some time by myself and on myself, sorting through my feelings, figuring out what I want, and focusing on being healthy and happy in the ways that I can.

I'm a writer, so I tend to process things by writing. Last night I sat down and wrote a list of things I miss about Andy and being with Andy, a spontaneous list that went on much longer than I knew it would. I thought I would cry while I wrote it, since I seem to be prone to that a lot lately, but revisiting memories from different parts of our relationship and pinpointing and writing down specific things that I loved and missed actually made me smile. I feel like a lot of times during breakups people focus on the negative aspects of that person or that relationship to make that loss easier, and it's tempting to write a list of things you won't miss about that person (I'm sure that list is somewhere in my future). But I also think it's important to remember the good things and the reasons you loved that person.

I wrote that list for me, but I thought it might be useful moving forward with this blog to share some things from that list here. You all have heard me talk about him and our life together before and you'll hear me talk about life without him in the future so this is, in a way, a picture of the good parts of what I'm moving on from. This list is incomplete--there are things that I wrote down but haven't included here for various reasons, and I'm sure I'll continue to add to my personal list as I think of things.

Things I miss about Andy / Being with Andy
  • him cooking for me
  • him bringing me coffee in bed
  • watching TV with him
  • playing card games with him
  • his curly hair
  • his smile
  • his surprised but amused face
  • spontaneous back rubs
  • cuddling
  • him hovering in my office doorway
  • him making tickle fingers at me
  • hearing him laugh or clear his throat downstairs and it being comforting to me
  • him touching my hair
  • looking at recipes and making grocery lists together
  • randomly chatting with him on Facebook
  • him watching me put on my makeup
  • that little excited face he makes when he rubs his hands together quickly and he bites hit bottom lip
  • his scratchy handwriting
  • him singing along to an old song
  • dancing in the kitchen
  • the look on his face when he knows I'm right, or I've bested him in an argument, that little glint of recognition in his eyes
  • him getting excited over a new outfit idea
  • his double take, mock outrage, when I find something in 30 seconds that he's been searching for for 5 minutes
  • making cocktails together
  • sitting next to each other at our favorite bar
  • watching him type away on his tiny little keyboard with his stubby fingers
  • feeling so safe and loved and wanted with him
  • feeling like we were so lucky to have each other
  • the ew face he would make at the mere mention of certain foods
  • watching Jeopardy with him
  • the awed face he'd have at the end of a good movie, all still and bright-eyed
  • him reading a poem to me before bed
  • him telling me, "you look great"
  • him coming up behind me and wrapping his arms around me and pushing my hair over to one side and resting his chin on my shoulder or kissing my neck
  • eating pizza together
  • looking at each other with yucky or disapproving faces when a singer on the TV was off-key or a food dish didn't look appetizing
  • sitting on the couch watching CBS Sunday Morning, eating donuts, sipping coffee, us each checking our email and Facebook and also watching television, sometimes setting aside our computers to cuddle or kiss
  • his surprised, grateful, excited voice when he says, "that was really nice of her/him/them"
  • him standing in the grocery store, debating chip flavors
  • him "taking a sip" of my drink and drinking half of it
  • him picking out pajamas for me from his dresser
  • him complaining about my cold feet
  • him telling me I smell good
  • him taking beautiful photographs and showing them to me
  • him defending something and saying "well I think it's..." with that kind of embarrassed but also confident look on his face
  • him saying "now don't you worry about..." and taking care of my load of dishes or whatever when I'm tired/stressed/behind on work
  • him saying "well go ahead and cut into your meat" so he could make sure it was cooked perfectly before he sat down to eat with me
  • him telling me "I love you" without being followed by a "but"
Yours Truly, Jen

P.S. I'm not back for regular posts yet, but I'll be posting when I can.

Checking Out For A While

I don't have a super public private life, but since I have talked about Andy a good bit here, I thought it would be pertinent to mention here that we have broken up. This is a really hard time for me right now and I'm not in a good place...I'm okay, and I'm holding up, but it felt sudden and surprising in ways I wasn't prepared for. Everything I had planned to post this week has stories with him in it and I don't see myself writing any new content for this blog right now, so I just wanted to let you know that I'm okay, but I'm checking out for a little while.

Send Your Thank-You's

Man, the break is flying by and I still have so much to do before school starts back up. In between getting my course calendar in shape and working on my thesis, I'm also really pumped about working on my resolutions and goals for the year and getting myself organized. One my birthday goals was to send letters and cards via snail mail, and in my birthday goals reflection I decided that I really needed to re-invigorate that goal since I hadn't made it happen yet.

I found these cute little cards in the Target Dollar Spot shortly before Christmas, and I even brought them back to Texas with me thinking I might write some cards while I was there, but that totally didn't happen.

I decided a couple of days ago that I would really like to send some thank you cards after all of the kind things people did for me while I was back in Texas, so I actually sat down and wrote out four letters in one sitting. I still have a couple more I need to get to, but that's all I could do at once!

Another thing that I did was put my cards, including some older ones that I dug out of my closet, and stamps in an old Birchbox container to keep on my desk, that way I have a constant reminder to put more letters in the mail! I'm keeping my eye out for some affordable, pretty stationary paper as well.

I just think getting real letters in the mail, as opposed to a bill or junk or catalogs and magazines, is a really sweet and thoughtful surprise, and it doesn't happen very often. The thank you card is another tradition that has really fallen by the wayside, and I know that I always love to receive one. Why not send out a couple of thank you's of your own this year?

Yours Truly, Jen

What I'm Listening To | Male Vocalists

I love music, but I can't say that I really "keep up with it." I don't know all of the new, underground bands, and I don't have a terabyte of music, and I don't have a working record player, and I don't know when the last time I played a tape was. I listen to All Songs Considered, I expose myself to lots of different music, I think I have a pretty eclectic taste, though I definitely tend to re-listen the same albums all the time and neglect everything else in my iTunes. December is always a great time for music for me because I always download a bunch of stuff before the epic drive to and from Texas. It's also when everyone is putting out their end of year lists, which gives me an insane amount of stuff to sample and consider purchasing if I like it. Recently there are 5 albums that I have been listening to and loving and, interestingly, I didn't really realize before putting together this list that they are all groups with male vocalists.

The 1975 by the 1975- I actually just started listening to this album right after I got back, and so far I'm liking it. The album plays with some different sounds. Sometimes it reminds me of Chvrches, sometimes the Airborne Toxic Event, sometimes The Neighbourhood, sometimes groups I listened to in middle school. My favorite song right now is Sex, but I need to listen through the album a few more times to really get a good feel for it.

Trouble Will Find Me by The National- Of these albums, this is my favorite to listen to all the way through. In fact, I pretty much never just listen to one song from this album. Also, this may be weird, but the fact that my name is in some of the songs makes it extra special for me.

Muchacho by Phosphorescent- Song for Zula is definitely one of my favorite songs of 2013. This album kind of reminds me of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and it's just fun, sometimes slow and sometimes mildly upbeat.

Repave by Volcano Choir- If you love Bon Iver, you will likely love this album and group. Some of the songs like Comrade, have some similar background music to Bon Iver's self titled album, and there's a good amount of male falsetto, but he also delves into deeper voice as well. It's a beautiful album to listen to, and another one that's really easy to listen to all the way through.

Woman by Rhye- Open may very well be my favorite song from 2013. I don't know what it is, but I love it so much. The male lead singer has a beautifully adrogenous voice, again with a good bit of falsetto, but not falsetto that sounds like oh, this is a man that sounds like a woman. If you didn't know it was a man singing, you would probably think it was a woman listening to the first track. The rest of the album gets a little bit of an easy dancing beat.

Below I've created a little playlist with two tracks from each album to give you a beat of a sampling. It begins slow and gets more upbeat as it goes along. Let me know what you think and what albums you're loving!

Yours Truly, Jen

P.S. Previous What I'm Listening To
P.P.S. What do you think of the new format? Did you like the way the other post was formatted better?

Happy, Healthy, & Productive Resolutions 2014

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Okay, so I totally wasn't going to do resolutions this year. I have never been super into making resolutions, mostly because I feel like usually whenever I resolve to do (or not to do) something I immediately do (or don't do) it because I'm just contradictory like that. Yeah, I know, I'm the one who has to live with me. Gah.

Anyway, the more I've thought about it, the more I've decided that I really like the birthday goals for concrete tasks that can be accomplished, and that's definitely the direction I will be taking it this September when I make my new one. It's basically like a bucket list for the year in my opinion. Resolutions, however, are little changes to your way of life, or lifestyle, or attitude, or way of approaching things, or things like that. At least that's how I see it. And the other day, as I was stranded in a Burger King while I charged my phone (story to be told at a later time), I started to write down some changes I wanted to make this year, and I've really been feeling for the last couple of days like this is a fresh new year and it's post holiday and it's a perfect time to make some changes. While I've been really stressed about preparing for the semester and thesis things and thinking about the future, I've also been really excited to get healthier and shed some weight and be more productive in certain ways. So yeah, I thought I'd share that with you.


1. Live a more active lifestyle. Make an effort to get up and get active--at least take a walk--every day. I plan to take some fitness classes and do more things like hiking and biking when the weather warms up, but just getting off my bum is a big thing.

2. Be smarter with money. I'm really weird with money, and I'll be the first to admit it. I'll be super frugal and stingy on certain things at certain times, and then other times I'll just be like whatever, I'm buying it and I don't care how much it costs. I've come to rely on my credit cards too much, and I need to do a better job of tracking my spending and reducing the overall amount I spend. Sadly, I think the beauty budget will be the first to be slashed!

3. Reach out to people more. Make an effort to go out with friends once a week and keep up with long distance friends via mail, phone, email, or Facebook message regularly. I love that I'm able to see what's going on with my friends via social media like Facebook and Instagram, but I really want to be better about chatting regularly and seeing the people I'm near to.

4. Write every day. At least a little bit. Just carve some space and do it. A writing schedule was something on my birthday list, and I wanted to include it here because I want to make writing more of a natural part of my life again rather than something I do when I have a deadline. I also need to find a balance between writing for this blog, writing my fiction, and writing other things I'd like to start writing, like essays and some journaling.

5. Read for fun more. Try to spend a little time every day. Since I've been in school studying English for almost 6 years now, I've been assigned so much reading during that time. I really do not read "for fun," stuff that I pick for myself enough, and that's really something I want to make more of an effort to do this year, especially now that I'm finishing up my master's degree.

6. Have some time away from screens to just relax and unwind at the end of the day. I don't know how well I'm going to do at this one, and this may be something that ends up getting relegated to weekend, but a lot of my down time right now it watching TV or Youtube or reading blog posts or whatever, so I don't really spend a lot of time just relaxing and unwinding, and I feel like that's really important for stress relief and sleeping well, etc.

None of these are resolutions that I will consider having "failed" if I don't do these things every day. There will be entire days I spend in bed. There will be weeks Andy is the only person I spend time with. There will be superfluous spending, and days where I don't write or read, and there will be stress. These are simply things to be mindful of, and work toward. So instead of saying, this year I will lose 10 pounds, or this year I will read x number of books, for my resolutions I'm keeping it simple and giving myself manageable tasks, a list of 6 things to look at every day and try to check off. Because change can be good, and you can't find out if you can change unless you just try, and if it's to make you happy, then it's productive no matter what. I think a lot of people don't make resolutions because they think it's corny (which it kind of is), or because they're afraid to fail at them (which, to be completely honest, they probably will), but fear is no reason not to try something new. Failure is a natural part of all processes, so if you accept that it will present itself in some way, you can move on and strive for your best, knowing that it's shy of perfection. So if you haven't made a resolution yet, what are you waiting for? You don't have to wait for a new year or a birthday, but it's good to set goals for bettering yourself. What else are you here for?

Yours Truly, Jen

Birthday Goals Reflection

Happy New Year y'all! This fall semester was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be, and I'm sure the spring will be the same. While I've been working on finishing up my thesis and my degree, I've also been working on personal goals, personal growth, and my relationship with Andy. New Year's is a great time to look back on the year and look ahead to the next, so I thought it would be a good time to check in one my birthday goal list and show you (and me) how I'm doing.
1. I really wanted to start focusing on publishing, but right now having a complete thesis that I'm proud of is the priority. Hopefully as I finish up stories this semester I will also start sending them out, but with the typical turnaround of literary journals, it's fairly unlikely that anything would be published by my birthday. An acceptance would be close enough, but we'll see.

2-4. This is stuff that will be happening this spring, so I'll get back to you!

5. Andy and I went to Charlottesville for the first time, which was awesome, and I went to Lampases, Texas for the first time just recently to visit family, so that counts. I'm hoping to work in a second fun weekend trip with Andy at some point though, maybe over Spring Break or the summer.

6.  In addition to bringing in our herb plants for the winter, we also snagged a couple of curb plants and bought some tropical plants on sale at Kroger. So yeah, rocking this one. I keep really wanting to buy a lemon tree, which you're supposed to be able to grow indoors, but I've waited so long at this point that I'm probably going to wait until I move before doing it.

7. I actually have not been baking a ton recently. I've made some fairly extravagant desserts in the past (at least by my definition), but none recently. It's basically guaranteed that I'll be making one for Andy's birthday though.

8. I have made zero effort whatsoever on this one. Seriously. I need to sign myself up for a class and just do it. I'm definitely planning to make fitness more of a focus this year.

9. I am well on my way for this one. By my count I've read 4 books and am currently working on 2 different ones. That's a little slower than my usual rate, but I've been spending a lot of time listening to podcasts and reading individual stories and articles and blogs, so while my reading time has increased substantially, my book consumption has decreased. Alas.

10. I actually bought my very first pencil skirt maybe a month ago. I don't think it's a magic pencil skirt that takes away 10 pounds or anything, but it's cute and I'll be sharing it with you soon.

11. See number 8.

12-13. I had previously planned to have a solid draft of my thesis done early in the fall semester and then spend a lot of time sending out applications. That did not happen. I've also since decided that while I've really loved teaching, I feel like I might need a break from academia. So I will definitely be sending out applications in the spring, but maybe not the same ones I thought I would, and I may not apply for any fellowships after all. Maybe I'll apply for some small ones. We'll see what's available once I get a draft of my thesis handed in.

14. This hasn't really happened. I have been recording some good things via this blog and Instagram, but not all in one place like I wanted to. This will be a good one to re-invigorate in the new year.

15. Andy and I have gone on a couple of walks, but we used to walk together fairly frequently. I definitely want to do more of this.

16. This will probably be happening this spring or summer. After it's warmed up. Cause yeah.

17. I've looked into this, but I've put it off a couple of times because I wanted to cross check prices more. I'm so ready for some new hangers though, so this will be happening soon.

18. I'm really disappointed that I haven't done this yet. I've bought some cute little cards and set some reminder alarms on my phone, and still nothing. This is definitely a goal to re-invigorate.

19. I got this one taken care of right off this bat with Andy and I's Charlottesville trip.

20. After Andy and I finally finished 30 Rock we felt like we needed another sitcom in our lives, so we started watching Parenthood, which is totally awesome. Thus, Battlestar has been delayed again. If it doesn't happen in the spring, it will surely happen over the summer.

21. I had no problem getting this one done. I have another What I'm Listening To coming up, and see the first one here.

22. I had a really hard time getting this done in the fall due to a fluctuating babysitting schedule, a small change in my teaching schedule mid semester, and having to work to meet deadlines a lot. I'll try again for the spring semester!

23. Andy and I have actually put a lot of thought into this, but haven't quite pulled the trigger yet. You have to invite the right number of people for the games you want to play, those people should know and like each other, and you want to do it on a weekend where you don't have a lot going on so you can hang around without worrying about anything. It'll happen.

24. This is one that doesn't have a eureka moment where it's like, I'm done. I have definitely been learning a lot about this, but I would really like a chest freezer so I can freeze bigger stuff and I would really like to learn more.

Because I'm a crazy person, I bolded the stuff that I consider done, italicized the stuff that I have put definite work towards, and left normal the goals that still need to happen. After looking back at this list, I'm feeling pretty okay about it. 5 completely done, 3 that are getting there, 16 that will be (hopefully) happening sometime in the next 9 months. That's not bad! Since creating these goals, some of my priorities and wishes have definitely shifted, so some of these goals I'm okay with not reaching. What are your goals for the new year? Or if you have a list like this, how are you doing?

Yours Truly, Jen