Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kids and Politics

A month or so ago, I was shopping with my almost-thirteen year old cousin. We were waiting to turn into Target's parking lot when we saw a woman standing in the median with the usual "anything helps, God bless" sign. My cousin looked at me and said "why doesn't that woman just get a job and stop being so lazy?"

I wasn't really sure how to answer. I know my aunt's views lean to the conservative side (although she couldn't tell you what her views really are, and she didn't vote in the 2008 or 2012 elections), but I was still surprised to hear my cousin say that.

I explained to her that we weren't sure what her situation was, so we didn't know if she was lazy. Maybe she lost her job and was worried about feeding her children, or she works third shift and has a sick spouse she needs extra money for. We don't know. Kathryn looked at me, surprised. You could tell she had never thought about it that way.

Of course, that woman could have just been lazy. I don't know. I choose to give people the benefit of the doubt the first time. But if you've ever talked to a homeless person before (not a beggar, a homeless person) you know that the majority of them didn't get there because they were lazy.

My parents never showed their bias when they talked to me about politics. They talked to me about issues a lot (I remember asking a lot of questions when my main man Bill Clinton was in office), but they never directly said "these are the things we believe." I remember one day at school (probably around the 1996 election) someone asked me who my parents were voting for. I said I didn't know, and she goes "I hope it's not Bill Clinton. I hate democrats." I didn't even know what a democrat was, so when I asked my mom about it that night she explained democrats and republicans to me and ended it with "But you should never hate anyone because their political views. Or at all. Hatred is not what we believe in." I guess you could say that by teaching me empathy and how to care about everyone, not just myself, they were laying the groundwork for me being a democrat, but there's obviously a lot more to it than that.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I would approach politics if we ever have kids. I would hope that I would take an approach like my parents took with me, but I am notoriously more outspoken than either of my parents (and almost anyone else that I know), so I'm not sure how that would go. I can only hope that I teach them to love, and always see the good in the world before they look at the bad. (of course, I'll still love them if they're republicans. they can be anything they want, as long as they're not Duke fans.)

Anyway, I hadn't really given the Kathryn situation much thought until I saw this video someone had posted on Facebook this morning. It's less than five minutes long, so I encourage you to watch it, but if you don't, I'll quickly summarize: this 12 year old thinks the NC Voter ID law that Pat McCrory is trying to pass is some serious crap. 

She's well spoken and articulate, and raises some really good points. Really, she explains her thoughts better than a lot of adults I know (myself included).

The differences between this girl and my cousin really struck me. They're the exact same age - but my cousin will probably never care about something like voter rights. 

How do you foster what this little girl has? I've been interested in politics for as long as I can remember, but I would never have done something like that. She obviously spent a fair amount of time on that speech, and she definitely did her research. So how do we make sure there's more of her (kids who are educated about the issues, not kids who will grow up to be democrats) in the future? 

Instead of teaching kids how to be judgemental, we need to be teaching them to love and care about others and have a passion for doing what's right. Hatred isn't some genetic thing we pass down. We teach that to them. And we need to knock it off. 

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

On Nostalgia.

At the risk of sounding totally emo, I've been thinking about feelings a lot lately. I'm not sure why, really. Maybe it's because things are mostly settled in my life, although I would hesitate to even say that because every time I do, something cuh-razy happens. Either way, I have been a big ball of nostalgia lately.

Nostalgia is kind of the cool thing right now, right? You can't go a day without some countdown on Buzzfeed about the twenty best things of [choose a decade]. People love thinking about their past. Reliving your best memories has been shown to decrease loneliness and anxiety. And it's kinda fun, right?

To me, the craziest part about nostalgia is that (Buzzfeed articles aside) it can come out of freakin' nowhere. There's no rhyme or reason, it just pops up when you least expect it. In fact, it's usually the little things that illicit the strongest emotions, right?

I was grating cheese for dinner last night when I got a message from Jenna telling me that she liked my post yesterday. When Jenna and I lived together, she never ever wanted to grate cheese because she was petrified she was going to slice her finger off, so I always did it. As soon as I got her message, I felt like I had been transported back to our old kitchen, grating cheese while Jenna browned some hamburger meat for Taco Pie. It was so vivid, so much more than just a memory. It's crazy that it was five years ago. FIVE years ago I was a junior in college, living in an adorable apartment with my best friend. Five years. I can't even wrap my head around it.

Saturday morning, Garrett and I watched The Hunger Games. As I was watching the credits roll at the end, I was immediately transported back to the first time we had watched it. We had only been dating a few months, and we had binge-read the entire trilogy a few weeks before so we could see the movie when it came out. We saw it in Norfolk, at the expensive movie theater because doing things together was still new and exciting and we didn't care about being practical. Our relationship was so fresh and so honeymoon-y, which is a stark contrast to where we are now: settled and comfortable and normal. Obviously, this is is where the really meaningful parts of being in a relationship come in, but there's still something really special about the honeymoon phase in a relationship that you know you're never going to get back.

Then there are all the weird, little things.... I have a pint glass (that I stole) from The Village the last time I visited Laura in Richmond that always makes me smile. Whenever I look at all the books on my bookshelf, I think about how most of them were bought during rips to Ed McKay's with Kelsey, our usual destination after we filled up on Ham's and Port City Java. Ridiculously enough, Pumpkin Spice Lattes make me nostalgic sometimes because they're something that I've loved for six years now, and quite frankly, there are very few things that been consistent in my life for this long.

I'm so grateful for all of these memories that have made my life a truly happy one, but man, do they give me the feels. I've finally discovered that feelings aren't something to hide or ignore, though, so for now, I'll play my favorite memories back in my head, and continue to chronicle them on my blog. I like it that way.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Assorted Monday Thoughts

We had a good weekend. We ate a quick dinner at home on Friday night, and then headed to downtown Greensboro so I could take Garrett to Cheesecakes by Alex. I got pumpkin cheesecake (duh) and Garrett got kahlua espresso cheesecake. After we ordered, the couple behind us only got one slice to share because a "a slice for each of us is just too much!" Child, please. Get out of here.
We spent Saturday night with Jenna and Andy eating pizza and playing board games, which might be my new favorite way to spend the weekend.
We spent Sunday doing a little bit of shopping at the outlets about 45 minutes from here. (The Panthers weren't on so I didn't have a football game to avoid watching. Seriously, we usually win when I'm not watching.)

Also, Jenna got us these adorable cups the last time they were in Asheville. I can't remember if I've ever mentioned it on here, but Garrett calls me "bird" and I call him "bear" (vom, I know) and Jenna remembered (because she's amazing) and got us these as a housewarming gift! I'm thinking I'm going to try to plant some succulents in them. Those are supposed to be pretty easy, right?

I'm not a huge Halloween person, but I have LOVED seeing all the costumes you guys have been coming up with!! I think my favorite so far has been Rachel's from Life Unsweetened. SO GOOD!!!

I have some phenomenal recipes coming up this week... Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Kale Caesar Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Linguine with salmon and Taco Soup and.... something else I haven't picked out yet. There are too many nights in the week, right?

Speaking of food, if you haven't made rice krispy treats with pumpkin spice marshmallows yet, I implore you to do so. Seriously, the best. The four of us ate an ENTIRE batch on Saturday night.

I fell in love with the J Crew Field Jacket yesterday, and I'm trying to decide if it'll be worth the splurge. If anyone wants to throw me a hundred bucks, I'll gladly send you my Paypal information.

What is everyone else up to today? For a Monday, this day hasn't been too terrible. Although Garrett bought me a PSL this morning, so that always helps.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Say what now?

I've decided to rework my Weekly Roundups (again). I know a few people like them (Kate, you're the best!), and I enjoy doing them, but they never get as much action as other posts, so hopefully I can make them more interesting or appealing or whatever.

In case you had forgotten how awful Leann Rimes was, she posted a helpful reminder on Twitter on Tuesday:
Hahahaha right? Because adultery is HILARIOUS!
Here's what: I think it's wildly unfair that in cheating situations, the woman takes a lot more heat than the man does. I also don't think cheaters are all bad people JUST because they cheated. But this is straight up unacceptable. Bragging about how you're a homewrecker? Joking about how you broke up a home when there are children involved is just BEYOND. Also, why does she feel like she needs to keep reminding us she had an affair? Is it because it's she knows she's been irrelevant for a few years now? I think it might be.

I love North Carolina, but it's becoming harder and harder to defend this fabulous state.
On The Daily Show on Wednesday night, Don Yelton, a Republican strategist and self-proclaimed bigot, defended the Voter ID law that is supposed to be enacted in 2016 by saying that it's not racist, the main purpose is to "kick Democrats in the butt!" Thanks for explaining that Don, now I feel a lot better.
But did my main homie Don stop there? Nooooooo sir! He went on to say that it wasn't fair that black people got to say the N Word and white people don't, he's not racist because HE HAS A BLACK FRIEND, and he said that the witch doctor picture he posted on his Facebook was making fun of President Obama's "white half, not his black half." 
Here's what: It is astonishing that people still think saying things like this on national television is okay. Also, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out in North Carolina. So far, Republicans have been able to hide under the "but what about FRAUD?" umbrella, but my main homie Don absolutely admitted that it's to hurt college students, lazy blacks, and the democrats, thus ruining any legitimacy the law COULD have had. 
Update: as of this morning, the Buncombe County GOP has forced him to resign. Good job, my friends. 

Have you ever worried that the Internet is taking up too much of your time?
So on average, people spend 100 minutes on the internet each day. When you spend those 100 minutes a day, that means you're losing 27 minutes of work time, 29 minutes of leisure time, and 12 minutes of sleep. 
Here's what: I would argue that throughout the day, there would probably be 27 minutes that you weren't being work-productive anyway, and most people use the internet as part of their leisure time, so I'm not sure I would count that as "lost" time.
I would ALSO argue that just because you're on the internet doesn't mean you're not working or getting other things done, you know? It's totally common for people to have gchat or Twitter open while they're working, because neither of those things require 100% concentration. 
Either way, the only thing I thought when I read this study was "......only 100 minutes a day?"
The entire study is here but it costs $$ to download. The Washington Post's breakdown is here.

What do you think of this new format? I think I'm into it so far.

Happy Friday!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Favorite Fall Nail Polish Colors

Everything about fall is great, and that includes the nail polish options. While I love the bright polish colors you get away with during the summer, there's something super cozy about a nice, deep red on your fingernails while your hands are wrapped around a pumpkin spice latte. Fall colors are warm and inviting and perfect.
"Cynthia" is my absolute favorite blue polish. I hate polish colors that are so dark they look black in most lighting (especially since I have such fair skin in the fall/winter), and this is perfect. I love how it's kinda funky because it's blue, but it's dark and muted enough that it could still be semi-professional.
"Charmed, I'm Sure" is perfect... it reminds me of "Lincoln Park After Dark" by OPI, but way better because it's not so dark that it looks black. The color is deep and gorgeous... it's almost an eggplant color. 

I just bought "Cashmere Bathrobe" at Target last week, and I love it. It's a really nice dark gray that has a microglitter in it that makes it super shiny, and just a little bit more fancy. And you guys know how I love being fancy.
Honestly, I only wear "Artsy Crafty" one once or twice a year, but I LOVE it. Is "sassy green" a thing? Because that's how I feel when I wear it. It's a bit whimsical, but it really compliments all the beige/neutral colored clothing I wear during the fall. 
"I Knead Sour Dough" is a dusty rose that has a bit of shimmer to it. I like to wear it when I want a classic red/pink look, but I want a little bit MORE. You know what I mean?
"Downtown Brown" is what I think of when I think of a classic fall polish. It's a warm reddish brown that is super classic. It's oxblood-ish, but I bought it before oxblood was A Thing, so it's probably not an exact match. Still, it's one of my fall standbys.
"Warm and Fozzie" is my favorite nail polish color of all time, but man, do we have a history. I picked it up at Ulta one day right after the it had come out (as part of the 2011 Muppets collection) and then put it back. Right after, it exploded in popularity, and when I went back to buy it, it was gone. I ended up having my best friend buy me a bottle in Baltimore, and she mailed it down to me. It's such a cool color! It has hints of bronze, gold, pink, and purple. It sounds crazy, but trust me, it works. (See one of Scrangie's swatches here.) It's the color I put on my nails every Thanksgiving.
This might be my favorite polish that came from any of the Fall 2013 collections, because it's so transitional. It's a shimmery, rosy gold foil that looks great on any skin tone. It goes on in two thin coats, it's super shiny, and it dries super fast. And the best part? It's less than five bucks! You should probably go to Target and scoop this one up immediately.

What's your go-to nail polish color for fall?
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No experts here!

Clearly, there's been a lot of talk recently about how much we hate Martha Stewart now because she doesn't think bloggers are"experts." I'll agree that her delivery wasn't the best, but I just can't bring myself to get angry at what she said. First of all, because it's true. Second of all, this woman is 72 years old. Are you really surprised that she doesn't "get" blogging?

I know you love your blog (and I love mine.... a lot.), but having a blog does not make you an expert. Sure, there are always the exceptions (Pioneer Woman is the one I see the most), but that's what they are: exceptions. Anyone can make a blog and spew whatever they want. That doesn't mean they're awesome or smart or noteworthy. It means they know how to type. (And sometimes they can't even handle that.)

I have a love-hate relationship with blogging sometimes. You can put anything on the internet. ANYTHING. It doesn't matter if it's wrong or it hasn't been well researched. You can put it out there to for other people to read and more importantly, believe. And they do. It's a lot of power, and there are always people who do not handle it well.

Let's stop being mad, okay? She started this whole lifestyle movement a long time ago, and had an empire way before you or I even considered starting a blog. She's going to keep trucking along just like she has been, and so should you and I. If you want to prove her wrong, do it by putting out really great, thoughtful, well-written content. THAT'S how you make someone take you seriously, not by threatening to boycott their products. (And seriously, if you're boycotting her craft paint, you're not hurting anyone but yourself. Seriously, it is the best.)

Long story short, I'm decidedly not a bloggerexpert. I'm not sure I'd want to be... lots of pressure there. I'll just stick to these things that I'm TOTALLY an expert at:

Internet Stalking Investigating. I will not tell you the lengths I've gone to to find information about people I don't know (because it's super embarrassing) but just know: I pretty much always find what I'm looking for.

Ignoring text messages. Seriously, I am the worst. I forget to respond to them allthetime. If we text and you don't hear from me for three hours days, don't take it personally. It's not you, it's me.

Procrastinating. I'll elaborate on this later.

Curling my hair with my curl wand. I bought this curl wand last year after Christmas, and almost a year later, I'm still OBSESSED with it. It makes my hair do things that I never thought it was capable of. See here, here and here.

Finishing a whole bottle of wine in one sitting. Do I really need to elaborate here?

Promptly removing the recycling so it doesn't look I downed a whole bottle of wine in one sitting. Whatever. Don't judge me. You don't know my life.

Looking put together in a pair of J Crew Pixie Pants. I'm not saying I look super fabulous all the time, but every time I get a compliment on my outfit when I'm wearing Pixie Pants (or as I affectionately call them: "fancy sweatpants") an angel gets her wings.

NotAnExpertAlyssa, over and out.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Unfollowing.

There's been a good bit of... um.... political talk lately, right? For the most part, the commentary has remained civil, which is how it should be, because we are all lovely, intelligent ladies in this community, and we all know that there is no need for name calling.

(And to those of you that have resorted to name calling though this process, thanks. It's made it really easy to figure out who I would never, ever be friends with.)

Everyone says they don't care about followers, but most of us care at least a little bit, right? I mean, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's exciting to know that there are people actually reading your blog. Real live people who don't HAVE to read your blog - they read it because they CHOOSE to. That's pretty cool! I'm humbled all the time that 300ish people read this blog. because it's about 298 more than I ever thought would want to read.

Some people get offended when people unfollow them. I don't (...usually). The best thing about reading blogs is that you're free to fill your Reader with blogs you love... blogs that talk about things that you want to read about. You're in charge of your own Blogland Experience (TM). No one else is.

I think it's totally your right to unfollow anyone you choose. For some people, their blogging time is their time to blow off steam, so they don't want to follow anyone who posts too many serious things, or too many political things. They want to keep it lighthearted and entertaining. Others use their blogs as a means to keep up with current events. Everyone's expectations are different. so naturally, the types of blogs they want to read are different too.

There are a few things that will make me unfollow someone:
1) People who make cracks about poor people all the time. You are insensitive and uneducated.
2) Or undocumented citizens. If you call someone an "illegal" and/or complain about how hard your life is because your taxes go to pay for things for said "illegals", you're out.
3) If you can't use the proper names for things. If you write a sponsored post about tampons, but you can't bring yourself to use the word "period" or "vagina," you should probably reevaluate what you're doing. Also, grow up. Also, it's not shameful to have a vagina. Stop acting like it is.
4) Speaking of sponsored posts: stop doing them for things that aren't applicable to your life. If you're not a mom, don't review pacifiers. If you're not in college, a post about renting your textbooks probably isn't going to work. I know you like the money that comes from a sponsored post (who doesn't, right?), but please don't sell out like that. It makes you seem untrustworthy to your readers.
5) If you're constantly fishing for attention. I won't lie and say I don't like attention. I think we all do, which is why we... have blogs. Right? But if you're constantly posting about how "awful" you look just so people can shower you with compliments, you're taking it way too far. Or "I have a secret, email/call/text/tweet me if you want to know what it is." lol WHAT? I already told you what I think about vagueblogging. Stop that right now.

There are other things that don't bother me that I know bother others... I don't care if you post a zillion pictures of your kids, or talk too much about your church or serving your husband. While all of those things are so different from anything in my life right now, I understand that's YOUR life, and I totally respect that. One of the things I really love about blogging is that it gives me a glimpse into the lives of people whose paths I would NEVER have crossed otherwise. That's pretty freakin' cool.

The moral of the story here is: don't get upset if you lose a few followers along the way. It's all a part of the process. It's not you, it's them. Unless you're doing one of the things I talked about above. In that case, it probably is you.

And if I see anyone else calling someone "ignorant" for their opposing views and getting into a comment war instead of, you know, just unfollowing them, well. I only have one word for you:

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So you wanna know more about me?

I pride myself on being pretty transparent on my blog. I try to be straightforward and upfront about who I am, and I think that if you read here regularly, you have a pretty good understanding of who I am and what I'm about. You know that I love coffee, fingernail polish, and technicolor anything. You know what my apartment looks like. You know who my friends are and what I do on the weekends.

But there are things that you can't pick up from a blog, no matter how "yourself" you are. There are always little things about people, the quirky parts of their personality, that you don't get through a computer screen. And it's a shame, because the quirks are what make you relatable and real and adorable and amazing.
(the fact that I'm riding a rhinoceros in this picture is mostly irrelevant. Just go with it.)

1) I tend to speak in hyperbole. Example: "I bought sugar-free pumpkin spice creamer instead of regular. This is a nightmare." (That really happened, by the way. It was awful. Sugar free anything is the devil's handiwork and anyone who tells you different is a liar.)

2) I talk with my hands. Always. I wave them around and carry on and generally make a scene. I've broken things (by accident, of course) because of it.

3) My facial expressions are out of control. I don't have to tell you what I'm thinking because you can always read it on my face. Sometimes, Garrett has to remind me that, um, I don't have my sunglasses on and people can see that I'm giving them the stinkface. (Exhibits A-G)

4) I tap on the bridge of my nose with my pointer and middle fingers when I'm thinking about something. I didn't realize I did it until Garrett and I started dating and he pointed it out.

5) I don't like to have the volume on my TV or my radio on a prime number. Not an odd number, just a prime number. I know. I know.

6) I hate washing dishes. I hate hate HATE it. Because of this, I am a PRO at stuffing as many things as possible into the dishwasher. It is nothing short of a talent and I'm darn proud of it.

7) I say dude a lot. Like... a lot. More than any adult woman should.

8) I hate the words "gal" and "beaut." There's no reasoning here, but if you ever say "She's such a great gal" or "that painting is a beaut!" or "that gal is such a beaut!" I promise I'll be cursing you in my head. Sorry.

9) Germs don't freak me out... at all. If I drop a Dorito on the floor, I will pick it up and eat it 100% of the time. I usually don't use toilet covers or squat... I put my bare booty right on the toilet seat. (Sorry, Mom.) I'll drink after pretty much anyone. (It's worth noting that I almost never get sick. #knockonwood)

10) I drive a 2004 Honda Accord. Her name is Holly the Honda, but I don't call her by her name that often. Really, only when something bad happens. Like 2011, when I got rear-ended by an off-duty police officer. Holly the Honda sustained $1800 in damage. Oh man, what a story.

So what do you think? Are you judging me now? Are you questioning why we're blogfriends? Are you nodding along, saying "omg, me too!" Hopefully it's the latter.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Sunday Currently

Watching the Panthers, duh. I'm hoping we win, but I wouldn't be THAT sad if we didn't, because I know Adrian Peterson needs some good juju right now, and I've always liked him.
Reading all my magazines that I have to catch up on. I'm hoping to get at least one recipe for the week out of Better Homes and Gardens.  
Looking At furniture on I want this and this and this and basically the entire collection.
Smelling clean laundry... lots of it, obviously. I love the smell of clean clothes, but I hate.... everything else that comes along with clean clothes. You feel me?
Ignoring that big pile of Garrett's socks that need to be matched/folded. I hate putting socks together. No thx.
Excited that I made the bed this morning. #itsthelittlethings
Drinking coffee out of my new mug! Looooooove.
Thinking about my posts for the week.... I haven't planned anything, to be totally honest. Whoops.
Excited about the wine and champagne glasses we got yesterday, even though I broke one literally the second I picked it up. Sometimes I don't know my own strength, you know?

How's your Sunday going?
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Happy Friday!

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their super-kind comments on my post yesterday. I want to make sure you know that I don't think pink things in themselves are the problem. If you like them, or are comforted by them, then I think they're great. I just don't want anyone to buy a pink blender from Target "for breast cancer." If you want to do something to help, donate. 
I loved reading about everyone's 21st birthdays... it looks like a lot of people had disappointing birthdays. What does that tells us? 1) we put too much pressure on one day and 2) we need to have a massive blate where we all get 21st birthday do-overs. Together. Who's in?!
Who watched Glee last night? Did you think it was as perfect as I did? Because I thought it was an absolutely perfect, well written, flawless representation of how different people grieve. Well done, Glee people. 

Robin Thicke wants to make sure you know that he doesn't twerk. He's twerked upon. True story. Here's conclusive evidence that Christopher Columbus was a jerk. Jon Stewart thinks that certain members of Congress are getting a little bi-curious... bipartisan curious, that is. If you're still super into the 90s like me, you'll love this Saved by the Bell: Today, according to Zack Morris. Too funny.

Alyssa's post yesterday on happiness is seriously my new favorite post on the whole internet. Seriously, what's so wrong with being happy? Do you enjoy live-tweeting your favorite shows? Read this first. Seriously, let's stop blaming rape on social media, and also anything other than rapists. California has passed the only bill all year that expands abortion access instead of restricting it. Good on you, California.

Tonight is the first Friday night Garrett and I haven't had ANY plans since... we moved into the apartment. I have officially found my favorite pumpkin coffee creamer. I have time this afternoon to catch up on all my ridiculous DVRed shows before Garrett gets home. Garrett bought me a new chevron mug this week because he is awesome. The weather has been GORGEOUS this week, so we've been able to keep the windows open. Window-open weather is awesome because our apartment feels great, and also it saves so much money. Win-win, yes?

Happy Friday!!!

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Yeah, I said it.

We're solidly into October now, and pink stuff is everywhere.

I realized Breast Cancer Awareness Month was stupid in October 2011. I had gone to Ulta to grab a few things. When I was checking out, the cashier asked me if I’d like to donate a dollar to “breast cancer awareness.” I said “no thank you” and was expecting her to drop it. She gave me a weird look and said “Are you sure? It’s for a good cause! Breast cancer!” 

Oh, trust me. I'm aware. Is anyone not aware? Anyone never heard of breast cancer? Anyone? Bueller? 

Nope. We're all aware. And since breast cancer is something that affects 1 in 8 women, chances are you know someone who's been personally been affected by breast cancer, either because they, or someone they know, have been diagnosed. 

Here are the problems with Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
1) It reduces a really huge problem and a very scary situation into a bunch of pink pens, Facebook games, and catchy slogans. 
I bet you can name at least five companies that are selling pink stuff this month. But can you name five risk factors for breast cancer? If yes, did you learn that from the pink blender you bought at Target yesterday? No, you learned it because you're a smart cookie who does her research. Good for you.

2) Few other diseases get the same recognition. 
Did you know that September was Gynecological Awareness month? Or that October is ALSO Domestic Violence Awareness month? Breast Cancer research IS important, but is it more important than other causes? I don't think so.

3) It leaves men out completely. 
According to the American Cancer Society, about 2500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. Breast Cancer is significantly less prevalent in men, but it's still something that affects them. So where do those men fit in to the whole pink scheme? Do you think they're comforted by all the "Save the Tatas" shirts? I don't. If we're going to spend the whole month talking about Breast Cancer, let's make it as inclusive as possible.

4) "Awareness" by itself does nothing to fix the problem. 
There are some great things that come from this month. I won't deny that. But when you look at most companies who talking about their plans for the month, you see the word "awareness" a lot more than you see the word "research." We're aware of the problem, now it's time to figure out how to treat and prevent it.

5) Saturation isn't always a good thing.
I hesitated about bringing this into the post, because I don't want it to be about me or my family. But when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 (she's fine now) someone looked her in the eyes and said "well, you'll be fine. There's so much they can do now, it's basically just like getting a cold. Getting cancer now just isn't a big deal anymore. It's not what it used to be." Well, that last part is true. Thanks to some really smart people and some really great organizations, more people are living through a breast cancer diagnosis than ever before. But to think that it isn't a big deal 20-30% of breast cancer survivors will have the disease return and metastasize in the body. 40,000 people still die from it every year. A breast cancer diagnosis changes your entire life for the rest of your life. There's no part of it that isn't a "big deal." Sure, this was an isolated incident and most people understand the seriousness of breast cancer. But I have to wonder where this kind of nonchalance comes from, and part of me wonders if it's because breast cancer stuff is everywhere all the time, and not in a good way.

Here's what we can do instead:
1) Do your research. 
Educate yourself on the things in your life that could potentially cause cancer. Learn the risk factors, and get the lowdown on your family history (if you can). There's no way to guarantee you won't get breast cancer in your lifetime, but making healthy lifestyle choices like exercising, eating right and not smoking all reduce the risk.

2) Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop with the stupid Facebook games. 
No one cares what color your bra is, and no one understands why you're putting a heart as your Facebook status. We would never make a game out of remembering 9/11 or Sandy Hook. Why do we try to do it with Breast Cancer? 

3) If you're a woman and you don't do self exams, start doing them now. 
Once a month. Make sure your friends do them too. Breast cancer doesn't reveal itself first in a lump every time, but early detection is crucial, and self exams are a huge part of that. The same goes for going to the doctor every year. I know it sucks, but you gotta do it. "But Alyssa, I'm fine." I know you are. Everyone that was diagnosed with breast cancer was fine at one point, too. And then, they weren't anymore. So please go.

4) Don't buy pink stuff just for the sake of buying something pink. If you want your money to go to a breast cancer organization, donate money directly to them.
If you only get one thing from this post, I hope this is it. Companies and organizations who REALLY care about preventing and curing breast cancer will tell you. The best charities will focus on research and prevention, not awareness - if you see a company that only talks about awareness, it's probably not a good one. All nonprofits are required to disclose where every dollar goes, and you can see the breakdown for each organization on Donating to a charity is something that should be deeply personal, so choose an organization that means something to you. Here is a list of organizations ranked highly by Charity Navigator. (A few notes: Susan G Komen is on that list, and I'm not a huge fan of them. My favorite is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.)

I don't actually think Breast Cancer Awareness Month in itself is a bad thing. I think it started out with good intentions. There are meaningful programs and good people who DO work incredibly hard (all throughout the year, not just in October) to make a difference, and I would never, ever want to diminish the work of those people. And if you DO decide to start doing self exams after you buy a pink bra, or you're comforted by a pink thing you bought, good for you. I think that's money well spent. 

I just hope that after reading this, you'll approach this month a bit more critically. Prevention is key. Research is the only way we're going put an end to this. 
Facebook games, pink highlighters and girly football jerseys are not awareness. The pink ribbon movement was started by a phenomenal woman who didn't want to market her idea en masse because she didn't want to water down the message. Now they're everywhere, under the guise of awareness. 

We're all aware. Now what will we do to fix it?
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My 21st birthday was a bust.

Linking up with all these cute ladies today because you KNOW I can't resist a good one-time link-up.

I guess the title is misleading because my 21st birthday wasn't really THAT bad. But here's the true story (and the part of this post I'll delete soon): most my friends were older than me, so I had been drinking underage at bars for almost two years before I turned 21. In my eyes, the best part about turning 21 was that I could do it legally now. Nothing about my weekends was going to change. You feel me?

Anyway. My 21st birthday was on a Thursday, which was awesome because I (and all my school of education friends) didn't have class on Friday. What could go wrong, right?

I woke up on Thursday morning, and my roommate Jenna had decorated the apartment. (I thought I had a picture of it, but I couldn't find it. Boooooooooo.) Adorable. Amazing. The day was off to a good start.

I went to class like normal on Thursday. We got out of class around 5, and my parents took me, Jenna, and two other friends to PF Changs for dinner because I really wanted a PFX for my birthday. (Have you ever had one? THEY ARE THE BEST.) When I ordered my drink, our waiter didn't even card me, and I was so mad. LOOK AT MY ID, FOOL. I AM LEGIT.
(Contrary to my face in this picture, this was only my first drink of the day.)

When we got home, several of my friends were waiting on me so we could go to a few bars. As soon as I walked in the door, shots happened, and then somehow I got wrapped in toilet paper:
I don't even know.

Then, it was time to go out! One of my friends was still under 21, so we had to plan around that a bit, which was fine, because as we know, I was a pro. I was feeling pretty great thanks to those shots and I hate making plans for groups of people, so I was letting other people make the decisions on where we would go. We ended up at this bar in Greensboro called Coopers, which, looking back, was a pretty interesting choice. We walked in, I triumphantly handed the girl at the door my ID, took it back, and started to walk into the bar.

But as I'm walking away, I hear "wait, can I see your ID again?" That's never good, so I said "no." (Real smooth, Alyssa.) One of the other bouncers walked up all intimidating-like and said "show her your ID again, or you have to leave."

Really? You're going to yell at me, this tiny little person on my 21st birthday? You are rude.

I hand her my ID again, and she looks at it and then looks back up at me and says "You know your license is expired, right?"

Um, no. No I didn't. "It expired today because of my birthday, I guess? You can still let me in though... my birthdate is still valid."

Nope. It had expired on my 20th birthday. A year before. For real.


So we left, and drove another 15 minutes downtown so we could go to the bars downtown. Buuuut guess what? The same song and dance happened there. Since when do they care THAT much about your license being valid? I mean really. (I know they care a lot. BUT IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY.)

At this point, I was tired, upset, and I had lost whatever buzz I had when we started. I wanted to go home, but my friends (who were awesome) insisted that we go somewhere... anywhere. So we ended up at this DIVE bar close to campus. You know the place... where no one has showered and the bartenders serve to seventeen year olds. But I didn't care. My friends told the bartender that it was my birthday, and he took really good care of us. The night was salvaged, but man, it was a struggle. Karma is a real thing, people. Do not drink underage!

The next day, one of my friends drove me to the DMV, I got a new license (that doesn't expire until I'm 28) and that night, we had a do-over. It was a lot better.
I mean, when all else fails, just take some margaritas straight to the face, right? Right.

Feelin' 21 Link Up

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013


One year ago today, the tall guy asked me to marry him.

We were at the beach, and I TOTALLY knew something was up. He was hiding his text messages, he had bought our favorite wine, and he was being really particular about the plans that I was making through the weekend. He had also had lunch with my dad the week before... that was obviously the biggest clue.

Buuuuuut I wasn't sure, because we hadn't planned on getting engaged until November/December/January, and we were there from Friday-Tuesday, and we got all the way to Monday and he still hadn't asked.

But on Monday, we went to Broadway at the Beach to hang out and play Putt-Putt. So if he was going to ask, surely he'd ask then, right? Nope.

And then we went to one of my favorite beach places for dinner, so he was DEFINITELY going to ask then, right? Nope.

And THEN we went to Starbucks, so maybe he was going to ask then??? Nope.

We got back to the condo, and I was a little disappointed. And surprised, because there were just too many signs and I know this man and I KNEW he was up to something. I set our drinks (PSLs, duh) on the counter in the kitchen, and went to pee. When I came back, I said "I should probably taste yours too to make sure it's not poisoned." When I picked it up, an engagement ring was sitting underneath it.

I looked at it, and then back at him, and then back it it, and then back at him, and then said what any normal woman would say: "What the hell is that?"

And then he got down on one knee and said a lot of wonderful things and boom! we're engaged.

We called my parents, and this was my mom's reaction:

Even a year later, I still think it's CRAZY that I'm grown up enough to have my OWN diamond ring. I still catch myself looking at it sometimes, not believing that it's really mine.

We've dealt with a lot in the last year... job searching and moving and sick parents and death and a LOT of four hour drives. But we've made it. And I can't wait to spend my life with this man.

Mostly because most of our nights look something like this:

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Hangovers and Teenagers and Shopping, Oh my!

As I mentioned yesterday, we actually had a pretty busy weekend. It's a blessing and a curse because obviously, we're fun people who like to have fun, but when your weekends are so busy, they FLY by. And that sucks.

Friday, we headed over to Garrett's cousin's house for a cookout + game night. We had a lot of fun, which means that clearly I didn't take any pictures (#bloggerproblems). Having no pictures is probably which is probably for the best because there was a lot of wine. and a lot of gin. and also a few white russians. sooooo. you know. Garrett and I didn't get to bed until 3:30 on Saturday morning. For two people who are usually in bed by 10:30, it was rough.

Saturday, we slept until almost 2pm. Well.... I woke up around 10, stumbled out to the couch, and then promptly fell back asleep. Garrett's morning looked about the same... we were COMPLETELY useless. Finally, around 4pm, we did something I'm not proud of. I can't believe I'm about to talk about it on the internet.

We went to McDonalds.
WHAT. Don't judge me. There is nothing better for hangovers. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And then in an act of complete opposite-ness, on Saturday night, we went to my cousin's 13th birthday party. I know, it was quite a transition.

I hadn't seen the girls since the funeral, so it was good to see them. And it was SUPER good to see them having fun and laughing and being teenagers.
They are so grown now and it is SO FREAKIN' CRAZY. Kathryn spent most of her time with her friends, so Garrett and I spent most of the night hanging out with Hope and her boyfriend. The fact that my oldest cousin is 15 now and has a boyfriend and is cool and we hang out together is just too weird for words. But we had a really great time. I spend so much time talking about how I'd like to move away eventually, but nights like that make me really glad that I have family that lives close by.

And because this post is just full of embarrassing stuff, here's a blurry picture me doing the Wobble with three teenagers. Thanks a heap, Garrett.
I cannot even.

Sunday was pretty lazy, although we did do a little bit of shopping, and Garrett bought me this PHENOMENAL Joseph Joseph cutting board. If you know me at all, you know that I fell in love with the stripes + bright colors almost immediately.
Alyssa and the Technicolor Dream Apartment is going to be a real thing, I'm telling you.  

It was a great weekend, I gotta say. I hope yours was too!

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