I always knew Andy Dwyer was my Spirit Animal

I recently started a 6-week summer job, which means I’m back in my office for office hours. Those first office hours always seem to drag on, as most students don’t come to office hours the day after their first session and I have no papers to grade yet. So, what did I do to pass the time? In addition to some class planning and other busy work, I took this quiz, of course.

I answered truthfully instead of trying to manipulate the outcome (it’s so easy to get the result you want on these stupid quizzes), so the fact that I got Andy Dwyer means A LOT. What does it mean, exactly? It means that ANDY DWYER IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL.

I loved Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy, but Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer is still my favorite thing. I think it’s awesome that he has found such success as an action star–just like it’s amazing the success that Melissa McCarthy has found after “starting out” on GG–but goofy, good-natured, hopelessly helpless (most of the time) Andy is my favorite character.

PLUS, HE IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. Here’s how I know, expressed in GIF form, of course.

When I’m running in a 1,000 degree heat for the half marathon my friend Cassie and I signed up to run in September: 

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Why we decided to train for a race in the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN SUMMER, I will never know. Or, better yet, why the marathon people decided to hold a race that forces participants to train in the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN SUMMER.
In all honesty, my runs have actually been very frustrating lately. Like, discouraging to the point that I dread a run, which has never happened before. Sure, I’ve not wanted to run sometimes, but I’ve never dreaded it. The only way I was FINALLY able to run three miles yesterday without stopping was by watching “Parks & Rec” on TV. 

When I explain to anyone that will listen (because I talk a lot) why I’d never be able to do any of those crazy diets because I love cheese too much:

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Seriously. I love cheese. And diets are stupid. (Tell that to Katherine who ate pizza twice on Saturday…#oops #noregrets)

Whenever I surprise someone with my intellect:

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Whenever I try to do anything related to technology in anyway: 

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Technological related things Rahul has had to help me with in the past: losing my entire iTunes library, not being able to figure out how to set up new pages on WordPress, signing up for HBOGo and then not being able to access it on my computer, getting locked out of my Verizon account, 1,000 other things I can’t think of right now…he’s very patient when it comes to me and my lack of technology knowledge.

Whenever I try to do things in general: 

anigif_enhanced-11666-1406775913-1OK, I’m maybe not THIS bad, but I have broken two wine glasses this year, a plate, spilled my water bottle in my bag and on student papers more times that I can count, broken a fourth of the blinds in my apartment (they’re really crappy blinds!), and other general problems.

When I realize how frustrated I am at my current lack of creativity:

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This is actually a serious, legitimate one. I’ve been in a major creative rut lately. I can’t seem to land on a story idea that I like enough to keep writing. Also, all of my recent ideas have become too long, and I really, REALLY just want to write some short stories right now until I feel up to finishing my thesis project, which is a novel-length project. I feel like I used to have SO MANY story ideas and, lately, I’ve had nothing. It’s very frustrating and upsetting and makes me question my abilities as a writer. A lot of the stories I’ve started recently start to feel POINTLESS because I don’t know where they’re going or what to do with them. Plus, all of my plot lines become too serious and too bizarre, and I just want simple storytelling. I loved the first season of the TV show “Broadchurch” (seriously, go watch it now if you haven’t) for many reasons, but one of the main reasons I loved it was because of the last episode. The whole season centers around a young boy’s death in a really small town, where everyone knows everyone. Thus, the idea of a killer among them was hard for the townspeople to grasp. Instead of the show leading up to a serial killer or killing someone to cover up a secret (kind of like in “The Killing”), the death was caused by pure human error. It was caused by a character who was experiencing something he didn’t fully understand, which caused him to do something he never expected to do. I’m speaking cryptically because I don’t want to give anything away, but I LOVED this about the show. Even though the mysteriousness of his death kept me watching, I loved (I can’t stop saying that word) that his death was caused by humanity, in a sense. So, all of that to say, I’m trying to find a way to do that in my writing, and it’s hard. And it makes me feel like the above gif. Sigh.

Whenever I try to explain science-related things:

anigif_enhanced-21527-1406774805-3 (2)Also, on a related note, I love snacks. Written while I shovel popcorn into my mouth. I LOVE this popcorn but I can’t find it in my grocery store anymore, but their website says it should be in stock there…LIES!

Whenever I miss Bella and try to convince Rahul we need a cat:

Plo5yPpBecause cats are the best…

Whenever I’m at the grocery store and I forget the difference between 1% milk and skim (read: every time):

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Whenever I drive in D.C. and get upset at the terrible, mean, type-A drivers who clearly all have more important places to be than anyone else on the road and I consider throwing my  car into the Potomac (because I have superpowers like that):

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Whenever I accidentally find myself in a conversation about politics or anything government related: 

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Lastly, whenever I’m freaking out about my medical complications, which happened a lot this past year. 

I used the phrase “they took my blood away for science” WAY too many times. But hey, it kept me laughing during my super anxious moments, as did this!

Source for above GIFs: NBC via Imgur & Buzzfeed.

 

 

La Colombe

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series. 

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I was nervous about going to La Colombe Coffee. The fact that they have no wifi, coupled with a review on Yelp that stated the place was better to grab coffee to go, left me a bit wary of visiting. If it takes me more than 20 minutes to get somewhere, I’m not just going to grab the coffee to-go. And I know this whole visiting the coffee shops was my idea, but the rule still stands. A few weeks ago, I finally sucked up the courage to visit the place, with a back-up plan of walking to Macy’s (which I still did anyway) if the place was packed.

From the minute I entered to the moment I left, I kept thinking the same thing over and over: I don’t belong here I don’t belong here I don’t belong here.

Don’t get me wrong, La Colombe is a very nice coffee shop. It has a clean aesthetic, with small, simple tables, large art work, and a barista station that stretches almost the entire length of the place. The two-person tables are placed next to a wall of windows (which seem to be an old garage door), which gives the tiny space an airy and spacious look. The place has a perfect balance of well-brewed coffee, well-placed decor, and well-good intentions (I know that doesn’t make sense, but I wanted to keep the “well” thing going). The balance was too perfect, though. While I got a great cup of coffee, and got some writing done,  I felt as if the whole place might come crashing to the ground if pushed too hard. It felt like a well-oiled facade.

What I ordered: I ordered a latte. Surprise, surprise!

Latte Grade: The latte was tasty and warm, not hot. This made for great drinkability for the first few minutes, and then quick drinkability so I could soak up the latte’s flavor before it got too cold. The design on the top was pretty, but I unfortunately did not get to drink the latte in one of their pretty cups. When I ordered, there were no seats available, and the awkward “I don’t belong here” took over. Anyway, the coffee was good, despite the kitschy tagline on the coffee cup. Overall grade: B+

What I’ll get next time: I’ll probably try some of their home-brewed coffee to see if the taste really does trump the novelty.

Best time of day to go: I should have listened to the Yelp reviews. The place is busy all day. Luckily, there was a steady stream of people leaving, so spots opened up. I, once again, ended up at the communal table because a suit-wearing DCer didn’t hear me/ignored me when I asked if he was leaving his table. OK, this post is starting to turn into a gripe about the DCness of it all…I do really like living in this city, but the type-A personalities can sometimes be too much. I know it’s not the coffeeshop’s fault.

The ambience: As mentioned above, the space is lovely and spacious, but also feels too perfectly balanced. The ambience can be summed up by the pictures provided and the two thoughts I had while there: 1) Nice, but feels like hipster nonsense and 2) I don’t know if I’m qualified to drink coffee here…

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Good for: The tables are small and there’s no wifi, so it’s better suited for drinking coffee with friends or with a book. There were a handful of other people working on their computers, like me, but most people were there to grab a jolt and meet a friend.

Will you need a jacket? I wore 3/4 sleeves and was doing OK.

Other things to know: Hipster nonsense, hipster nonsense, hipster nonsense! I really want to like this place, but there’s a too-perfect sheen to the whole coffeeshop. I felt like I should have taken a crash-course to hipster language and counterculture coffee (which also seems like nonsense, to be honest*) before visiting this place. BUT the coffee was great. Also, it’s located down an alley, which is part cool, part best-location-they-could-find-for-the-price-they-wanted, part HIPSTER NONSENSE.

What I did: I worked on a story I’m writing.

Stupid thing I read online: Nothing. Thanks, no wi-fi!

*I also think the phrase “counterculture coffee” has become something it isn’t, based on the small amount of research I did when writing this post. I had no idea that it was actually a company. I think the phrase has been appropriated by many to mean something else, but that’s all conjecture on my part. I probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

The Coffee Bar

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series. 

Just like Compass Coffee, The Coffee Bar has a very straightforward approach to their coffee and the coffee shop itself. They make good coffee, and don’t need to attach any bells or whistles to make it special or any better than it already is. Just like with Compass Coffee, I like this approach, as it keeps the focus on the coffee and not the extras that many coffee shops rely on. This line from their website encompasses this approach: “We want to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone, from your average Joe to the coffee connoisseur.”
They also believe coffee should be its own food group, which I’m totally on board with.

IMG_2579The coffee shop is in the shadow of U Street, but is not nearly as busy or loud. TCB is tucked away a few blocks over, but is clearly a neighborhood favorite. In the few hours that I was there, I witnessed several regulars come through, as well as groups of people using the coffee shop as a place to gab or do business. In fact, the girls sitting next to me were talking shop about some kind of business or blog or something they were in charge of. I know this because they were very loud.

What I ordered: I ordered a latte and an everything bagel with cream cheese. Very basic, I know, but also delicious. As I said, TCB seems to have an no-frills-needed approach to their coffee and food, which makes ordering very simple. At the same time, you’re not cheated with what you get. I love everything bagels, so this was a great way to start my morning. Plus, added bonus, their bagels are from Bethesda Bagels, which I’ve been told are some of the best bagels in the area.
I say it this way because this was my first time trying their bagels. My thoughts: delicious, but you’d have to work really hard to make a bad bagel, right? 

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Latte Grade: The latte was warm, had great coffee flavor (good coffee/milk ratio), and was decorated with a simple and pretty heart. As I said above, they make good coffee, and it showed in the latte. The coffee flavor shined (shone? my English is failing me) through as I enjoyed the drink. Overall grade: A.

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What I’ll get next time: I’m interested in the London Fog or dirty chai, both drinks I’ve heard of before but have never ordered. I’m a fan of earl grey tea, so having it in latte form is sure to be delicious. Plus, I’m very curious as to what chai tastes like with espresso. I could see it being either delicious or disgusting. Let’s be honest, it sounds like a drink a tired and poor student made up because espresso and chai is all they had in their dorm room at the time.

Best time of day to go: I got there at 8:45 and it was already brimming with people.The space inside is sort of limited, with only an options of sofas or communal tables. I ended up sitting at the communal bar, which was fine until the chatty girls made an appearance. The advantage and disadvantage of the communal bar is that you are near people ordering. Good for people watching, bad for doing work. A steady stream of people wondered through and the place stayed busy the entire time I was there, which I’m sure is representative of the whole day. However, since the space inside is limited, and it’s a stupid swamp town outside (where is the Leslie Knope gif for this? Someone please make one.), I would go in the morning to avoid having to sit outside if all the spaces inside are taken.

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The ambience: TCB has coffee-related quotes written on the chalkboard behind the counter, which I love. The place seems equal parts relaxed, and fun-loving, as evidenced by the chill attitude of most people in there and the 80s music. 80s music! I love it. There were a lot of familiar songs, but my favorites? “Jenny,” which I love because 1) I have a cousin named Jenny that we used to sing this to and 2) 5 of the number’s 7 digits were the copy code for my first job at UMD, which I always found hilarious. “99 Luftballoons” was the other favorite, which my dad did NOT realize was IN GERMAN until my best friend and I told him when we were in high school.

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Good for: As I said earlier, there were plenty of people talking with friends or doing business, as well as people working on their computers–like me! The communal spaces provide a perfect place for both, as evidenced by the communal bar where I was sitting. On my right was another man working on his computer; on my left were the three girls doing business. One of them watched my computer when I went to the bathroom, which was a plus, but then she also let her phone receive texts full volume and sang along (OUT LOUD) to one of the songs, which was a big, big negative. In addition to those of us inside, there was a steady stream of people grabbing things to go. It did start to get loud midday when more people showed up, which was my cue to leave.

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Will you need a jacket? It’s so effing hot outside that a jacket, even inside, is unnecessary right now.

Other things to know: They love coffee, which makes me love them! This is definitely a place I could see myself easily returning to a second or third time.

Did they spell Katherine with a K or C: WITH A K! Yay.

What I did: I had a typical Monday morning: I caught up on emails and worked on blog stuff. I also read some of 12 Years a Slave, which I’m reading for a job I start in a few days.

Stupid thing I read online: I read about celebrity dads and what they tweet, which was actually kind of cute. My favorites: #12 and 18.

On Friday, I’ll share my thoughts on La Colombe, the third coffee shop on the list. 

 

 

 

Compass Coffee

The following post is part of the “‘I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee’: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene” series. 

The first coffee shop on the D.C. Eater’s List of 25 Essential D.C. Coffee Shops list was Compass Coffee. I visited this place on a very warm Thursday morning and the place was hopping. Compass Coffee is located in the Shaw area of D.C. and is both metro and parking accessible.

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The website advertises simplicity as part of the coffee shop’s mantra, and it shows. The place is spacious and sticks to the essentials: tables & chairs, coffee beans for sale, minimal wall art. Even the menu is straightforward and, well, simple. I like this–instead of overwhelming customers with a 1,000 different options, complicating the entire process of simply ordering a cup of coffee, Compass Coffee seems to acknowledge that making and selling good coffee doesn’t have to be a complicated process.
But let me be clear here. They DO sell good coffee. This was clearly evidenced by the hoards of people coming in and out of the place the entire time I was there, as well as the deliciousness of the coffee I drank. 

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What I ordered: a medium latte and a croissant. The latte had a lovely leaf design on the top and stayed warm for 75% of drinking time, which is a win in my book. Like I established in the last post, I’m pretty simple when it comes to my coffee, especially in the morning. The croissant was flaky and delicious because you have to really work hard to screw up a croissant. However, it was the last one when I ordered it, so guessing they have limited supply of some bakery items.

Latte Grade: As I said above, the latte stayed warm for 75% of drinking time, which is a remarkable feat, if you ask me. I didn’t even have to ask for extra hot! Plus, the latte had a great, full coffee flavor instead of being overwhelmed by milk. Overall grade: A

Delicious and so pretty.

Delicious and so pretty.

What I’ll get next time: I’m definitely interested in the nutella mocha, so would try this if I were in a mood for something sweet. They also had PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES, which is always a win in my book.

Best time of day to go: I read online that this place gets packed, and that was no joke. I got there around 10:30, thinking that would still be early enough to beat a crowd. Yeahhhh, that was straight up wrong. The place was already packed, but I was lucky enough to score a seat at one of the bar-like tables near the front door. Sitting at communal tables always makes me feel a little nervous—I hate feeling like I’m taking up too much space—but it worked out just fine. I think the answer here is “right when it opens,” or just be prepared to sit at a communal table or bar. As far as seating competitiveness goes, be prepared to pounce when a table opens up. The place emptied out a bit around lunch time, but I’m sure it picks back up in the afternoon.

The ambience: The décor is pretty minimal and not distracting—displays of their coffee beans, big bags of coffee in the book, with drawings of the countries their coffee comes from on the walls. Because the décor is minimal, it feels spacious, even with the loads of people packed inside. There’s a “community bookshelf” feature, which would be nice to take advantage of if you live close by. Their soundtrack was very similar to Pandora playlists I’ve listened to before, with songs by Miike Snow, Grizzly Bear, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I.e., fun to listen to, but not distracting or too loud (looking at you, Starbucks).

Good for: There was a mixed crowd here of people working on their laptops, friends meeting up, business meetings…so really, a variety of options.

Will you need a jacket? It was blazing hot when I first arrived and then cooled down. So, yes.

Other things to know: They make their own coffee blends, which are for sale at the coffee shop! Definitely grabbing some next time I visit.

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Did they spell Katherine with a K or C: Catherine. Dammit.

What I did: I worked on a story I’m trying to write and sent some emails.

Stupid thing I read online: The Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud. I literally felt my brain cells dying as I read this.

Come back next week to read a review of coffee shop #2, The Coffee Bar. 

“I Can’t Stop Drinking the Coffee”: Exploring DC’s Coffee Scene

School’s out for the summer which, on one hand, is great. I don’t have oodles of papers to grade, I don’t have to worry about lesson planning, and I have more time to do literally everything. I can take as long as I want to clean my apartment, I can dawdle when I’m in the grocery store, I can lay out at my apartment pool and listen to the Undisclosed podcast (obsessed) and read FOR FUN. In the weeks since school finished, I’ve cleaned and organized my apartment, which resulted in bags of clothes that need to be donated, a crap-ton of old beauty products in the trash, and organized storage spaces. I’ve written some, even though I’m in a bit of a creative rut right now. I’ve started a new book, Everything I Never Told You, and then started to worry when I realized that the book I’m reading, the podcast I’m listening to, and one of the TV shows I’m watching with Rahul (“Broadchurch”) all revolve around children going missing and then later showing up dead. Strange obsession? Anyway.
Side note: I’ve since finished the book and the show’s first season and both are FANTASTIC. 

I look forward to this free time, because it means my time is my own, and I know many working professionals don’t get the same luxury of SUMMERS OFF that teachers do. However, instead of taking full advantage of this free time, something strange happens: I get on a weird sleep schedule where the only reason I finally get up is because I literally can’t sleep anymore, I dilly-dally around my apartment and on the internet, reading about things that I LITERALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT (I’ve finally reached a point where I’m actually annoyed with Buzzfeed, as opposed to last year when I couldn’t get enough, I’m becoming an adult!), before finally becoming productive in the mid-afternoon. In short, I waste my time.

When I first moved to Maryland to get my MFA, I would venture in D.C. every week to try out a different coffee shop and explore the city a bit more. Coffee + writing time+ DC=three of my favorite things! Now, almost 4 years later, I’m decently familiar with the city, but I stopped the coffee shop traditions and my writing has slowed to a trickle as opposed to the river it was before (BAD METAPHOR, I KNOW). So, I decided to change that.

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IMG_2518For the next however-many-weeks-it-takes-me, I will make my way down the D.C. Eater’s List of 25 Essential D.C. Coffee Shops. Doing so will solve a few problems with one stone—I’ll get out of my apartment at a normal-human hour, get some work done, and get to try different coffee and snacks all over the city. After each visit, I’ll review the coffee shops here. I know, I know, don’t get too excited.

Follow along if you’re interested in coffee and live in and/or will be visiting the D.C. area. Each week, I will review one or two of the places, commenting on the drink/food options, atmosphere, and other applicable things—like whether or not they spell my name correctly on the drinks, what ridiculous thing on the internet I distract myself with while writing, whether or not you need a jacket inside, and more. My goal is to provide feedback on things that Yelp doesn’t tell you.

Also, I’ll give each place a latte grade. I’m pretty simple when it comes to my coffee, and often find myself ordering lattes when I go out for coffee. At the end, I’d like to be able to look back and know which places I’ll go to for a second, or third time, based on beverage appeal.

If you’re a new reader, a few things you should know about me: I love coffee, as about half of the world does. My day always starts off with coffee. Furthermore, I worked in a few coffee shops in college and consider myself knowledgeable when it comes to making a decent cup of coffee, as well as a good latte, cappuccino, mocha, you name it. While I may not be as knowledgable on some of the “cool” coffee stuff–I didn’t know what a pour-over was until I moved to the DC area–I consider myself pretty capable of distinguishing good coffee from bad, as well as a good coffee shop from a bad one.

Disclaimer: I am doing this solely because I love coffee shops, DC, and writing. Wordifications is not affiliated in any way with any of the coffee shops I will visit. Furthermore, I will follow the order of coffee shops listed in the DC Eater’s article. 

 

Turning the “when” into “if”

I’ve always been sort of a high strung person. While I’m not as vocally expressive as others–i.e., I don’t like to make waves–I definitely need a schedule to function, even if it’s a loose one. When I wake up in the morning, I like to know what I have planned for the day and what I need to do. I’m a list maker, and I love crossing items off my to-do list. Nothing bothers me more than a neglected to-do list (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get what I mean), because then I feel super unproductive–even if I actually got a lot done, or did something enjoyable with my day.

Another way of describing this part of my personality can be best expressed through Lorelai Gilmore. fb3e2850-bb5b-0131-4878-6e98995d6e3eWe’re totes twins, as 95% of other fans of the show claim.

I say all of this to prepare for the rest of the post. Even though I’m high strung, I never really considered myself an anxious person. Sure, I would get nervous if I realized I forgot to lock the car door, or if I realized I put my laundry on the wrong setting. Minute things. But as far as overwhelming, mind-controlling anxiety, I didn’t really struggle with. Until this year.

A few things happened that contributed to my heightened anxiety. For the first time ever, I was ONLY working, which was an adjustment period, even if I was excited. Last year, I moved to a new place, which (again) is exciting, but it was further away from my friends in the area. But the tipping point was when I fell in February and fractured my ankle.

I consider myself a pretty well-adjusted person, so when I realized the leg I had been walking on for two weeks was fractured, not sprained (thanks, first doctor), I took the news in stride. I understood what it meant, and I was able to acknowledge the next steps necessary for recovery. This didn’t stop me from breaking down in tears in Perkins with my parents, or having fears of never walking again (my brain went nuts), or any number of irrational fantasies. Luckily, my mom came to MD with me and was able to help me get around, which helped tone down many of my irrational fears. I was doing OK, until…

I visited the ortho for a check-up, told him about a pain in my leg, got an ultrasound, and ended up in the ER because of a blood clot. Let me tell you, guys–I have not cried that hard in months. I was literally breaking down in the waiting room because I literally couldn’t wrap my mind around what was going on. A blood clot? What? This was something I had never worried about in my life, ever, and suddenly I was sitting in the ER because of one, listening to doctors tell me about blood thinner medications, and getting CAT scans to make sure my lungs were clot free.

Even though I didn’t express it this way at the time, I can understand now what happened. Something I had never worried about was suddenly consuming my  life. What other things that I’ve never worried about could pop up next? What did I need to prepare myself for?

And then, like knocking over a witch’s cauldron (bad metaphor, let’s just move past it), my brain was FLOODED with anxieties and worries. I spent hours reading online forums about DVTs (blood clots). I cried on the phone to Rahul, to my mom when she flew back up to stay with me (because she’s awesome). I would have to stop grading to have intense thinking sessions about what the DVT meant and what the blood thinner was doing in my body. I put off taking Xarelto by one day because there was no antidote if I ever started bleeding a lot and only felt mildly okay taking it after talking to Rahul, Rahul’s dad (both doctors), and hearing advice via my mom through my aunt and uncle, who are both nurses. In the midst of freaking out about what was going on in my body, I fed the anxiety monster that had taken over my mind with several full meals many times a day. I let the anxiety win. Suddenly, I was imagining what would happen if I happened to cut myself cooking, or if I got in a car accident, or if someone mugged me on the street. Bad circumstances at any point, sure, but a thousand times worse while on a blood thinner.

I just finished my course of medication, and I’ve moved away a bit from the initial panicking. I have my follow-up appointment this week, and will probably get another ultrasound image to check in on the clot, even though it’s not required. If the xarelto did its job, my body should be clot free. Since receiving the initial news, I’ve done certain things to help my anxiety: I stopped reading medical forums. I (tried) to stop overwhelming conversations with friends about the medicine, because I was only doing it to make myself feel better (again, feeding the anxiety monster). Rahul has helped a lot, because he won’t engage in conversations that are purely motivated by my anxiety. What he’s doing, and what every person who struggles with anxiety needs, is providing support through not engaging my anxious self. Anxiety often pushes you to place certain needs, thoughts, etc, over others, and most of the time, they’re irrational fears, or things not related to the present. Also, for any person who has ever read up on anxiety, you know it’s often future-focused. Most anxiety is stoked by concerns about future problems, not present realities.

Through all this, one thing has stuck with me. One thing that reared its ugly head when I became convinced that I would majorly injure myself while taking the blood thinner; that popped up the other day when I became convinced I had appendicitis; that shows up every night when I check my locked door: the WHEN. Lately, my thoughts have been consumed by not “if” something happens, but “when” it will happen. And through all of it, I’m amazed by the powerful hold anxiety has on the mind, because it’s all mind-related. The minute appendicitis pops in my mind, it becomes “WHEN I get this.” WHEN I get into a car accident on 495. WHEN my apartment catches on fire. WHEN the blood clot lets go and travels. WHEN I fall while running and break another bone. Some are based on some level of reality–i.e., the blood clot concern. But most of them are severely irrational, and only cause my anxiety to increase by the thousands.

I know anxiety is mind over matter. It’s controlling your emotions, it’s refusing to feed the monster. But, you guys, it’s hard. It’s hard when it’s so simple to feed that monster just a little bit, just a bite. But it never works that way. It’s like opening a bag of salt & vinegar kettle chips: once you have one, you have to have 25 more. Anyone that struggles with anxiety knows what I’m talking about, and how unhealthy this is. Also, anyone that struggles with anxiety understands the upsetting confliction of being able to understand what’s going on in your mind, and understand what you need to do to stop it, but not being able force yourself to take the leap.

Instead of leaps, it’s much easier to start with baby steps.


I really like this quote from the clip: “All I have to do is take one little step at a time and I can do anything.”

In the baby steps I’ve taken since receiving the blood clot news, I’ve been able to, for the most part, successfully squelch my need to do certain things, like look up medical advice online, or talk about my health problems with everyone under the sun. Amazingly, once a few days pass without doing the thing, the desire passes. It alleviates. Of course, I could reignite it by one simple Google search, but now I’m removed enough to tell myself I have the option NOT to do so, and I feel okay about it. Also, I think about it this way: how easy it is to strike a match, start a fire, but how hard it is to put one out. The same applies for feeding my anxiety, and I’m slowly, slowly (baby steps!) choosing not to do so.

The big thing I’m working on right now is changing the when back to if. I’m reminding myself that just because it happened with a blood clot doesn’t mean it will happen with everything. The terrible part about the blood clot was how blindsided I was: suddenly, I was in the hospital, learning about blood thinners, hemoglobin tests, staying away from sports and heavy drinking; all these things that were literally so far from my radar the day before. I was scared, most of all by how unaware I had been. I’m trying to remind myself that that isn’t the case with everything. Just because I was blindsided by this doesn’t mean the rest of my life will be terrible. This one incident doesn’t mean my life will become a series of “whens.”
Plus, I’ve made a deal with God, or whoever is listening, that the first half of this year can suck, and that first half ends tomorrow on June 30. I would really like the second half of this year to be awesome. So, a deal is a deal. 

 

Looking Back at my 25 Year Old Goals as a 28 Year Old

For the past little while, I’ve noticed that a blog post from 2012, 25 Life Goals from a 25 Year Old, has been getting a lot of viewership. I don’t know the reason for this, because I also don’t fully understand how the internet works. Either way, I thought I’d revisit these goals, written a little over three years ago, to see which ones I’m sticking to, which ones I think are completely bonkers (or don’t make sense), and any new goals I have.

Reading a three-year old post was delightful and entertaining. These goals are definitely the ones of a young, optimistic person. There’s nothing wrong with them, but many of them seem a little too hippy-dippy for my current state. Some also seem crafted and written specifically for a blog post, instead of realistic, true goals. Again, nothing wrong with that, but if I had written this today, I would have surely used different language.

Something I’ve realized in the three years since I turned 25 is that life is magical and ever-evolving. After turning 25, I experienced a life crisis of sorts. In college, 25 seemed so old. I expected to have everything figured out by 25 and that I would basically be a billionaire living on the ocean in an exotic country or something. Since turning 25, I’ve adjusted my worldview and come to understand that life is often a slow burn (in a good way) and that things take time. Also, I’ve realized that age is just a number. Sure, there are certain things that I should be doing by 28–like saying thank you, or doing things I want to do, and a handful of other things on this list–but most of these are just general being-a-decent-person life goals. I set these goals at 25 as a reminder to myself to take ownership of my life, and that mindset is still just as prevalent today. So, in a way, they’re life goals from my 25-year-old self that I can stick to and adapt and mold for as long as I want.

New Goals:

1. Find ways to work on my anxiety. I’ve developed a lot of anxiety over the past year (thanks, fractured leg), and I’m trying to find ways to reign it in.

2. Get out of my apartment and stop wasting time. I waste so much time, especially when school is out for the summer.

3. Never get tired of my surroundings. DC is a great city, and I never want to feel like I’m just “tolerating” it.

4. Don’t underestimate or undervalue myself. I’ve had a revelation of sorts lately where I realized the reason why I hardly ever spoke in any of my classes as a student was because I was underestimating myself, not the other way around. I’m learning to value my voice more, as well as my own opinion, and finding ways to more thoughtfully engage in conversations.

5. Write write write write write!!!

The Original List: 

1. Write thank you cards. Say thank you.
I’ve done okay on this one. I usually remember to send thank you cards, and try to always say thank you when I feel genuinely thankful for someone’s help, advice, you name it. 

2. Take a moment to calm down when overly emotional. Re-consider your thoughts.
Eh. What can I say? It’s that quarter-Italian in me. My brain has this funny way of going into overdrive when I have something interesting to say, or I’m trying to make it point, and takes over my calm, rational side. 

3. Never make decisions when you’re emotional.
Again, I’ve done so-so on this one. I’m pretty impulsive by nature and when I realize I need to do something, I want to do it RIGHT AWAY! But, I have gotten more practical about my decision making, usually allowing things to sit before completely deciding. 

4. Read books for pleasure.
Yes! It’s a slow process, but I have done this one. When I made this goal, I was in the middle of my first year of my MFA, which required a total of 20 books per semester for the lit classes I was taking. Ah! The back-to-back reading turned me into a very, very slow reader, as I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything potentially important while reading. Let me tell you, that’s not a fun way to read. I’ve been working on bouncing back from that. I have little time to read during the school year because I’m up to my ears in papers to grade, but I’ve managed to read The Secret HistoryThe Girl on the Train, and Station Eleven, and I loved all of them. Just finished Everything I Never Told You, which was amazing. AH-MAZE-ING. This book will stick with me for a while. Do yourself a favor and add it to your reading list now. 

5. Open your windows. Go outside.
This one seems kind of silly, but I am trying to do this instead of lounging on my couch all day…which has happened a lot, unfortunately. BUT I’m finally running outside again, post-leg injury (knock on wood). I also take advantage of the apartment’s pool, as well as walking to the grocery store instead of driving. Even though it’s blazing hot, it’s nice to get outside. Plus, I have huge windows which make my apartment feel luxurious. 

6. Stop making excuses.
Eh. I’ve gotten better at this, but I still come up with the excuses in my mind, even if I don’t use them. Since I’m sort of anxious/shy by nature, I’ll often think of reasons not to do something, even if it’s just meeting friends for a drink. BUT I will say that I didn’t use my broken leg as an excuse to not grade my classes, other than for the day I was actually in the hospital. 

7. Allow yourself to have free time, even if it’s 10 minutes of coffee in the morning, 2 minutes to play Scramble with Friends, or a date with your boyfriend to watch Titanic. Don’t laugh—Rahul and I totally did this the other night.
Free time is my best friend. I probably take too much advantage of it. How else am I going to watch all of my favorite TV shows constantly? 

8. Celebrate something at least once a day, if not more.
This is hard to track. I am trying to get better about focusing on things I DO do during the day–cue Chandler Bing–instead of things I haven’t done. Doing this helps cut my anxiety and also helps me enjoy my days a little more. 

9. Catch up with a different friend once a week.
THIS IS SO HARD and I’m also really bad at it. I’m the queen of texting, but suck at phone calls. I’ve kept up with friends, but it’s more sporadic than scheduled, which is actually fine with me. 

10. Keep your attitude in check, always. Be intentional in what you say.
I’m good about this when talking with my students, but sometimes bad when talking to friends or family. Working on it! 

11.Listen to others. Take notes. Remember.
Again, another one that is so-so. I definitely haven’t taken notes (come on, 25 year old Katherine), but I do try to be a conscious, observant listener. 

12. Don’t be scared of confrontation, when necessary.
Hmm. If I was making this last now, I would change it to “Don’t be scared to hold your ground.” I definitely struggle with this in my teaching–at my core, I want to help each student be their best, but I’ve had to acknowledge and understand that it sometimes just doesn’t work that way. 

13. When you make a mistake, never, ever blame it on someone else.
I’m pretty good at this. I had a teacher in college that would never take the blame for mistakes he made (i.e., we would put something in the newspaper because he said we could, and then go back on his word, etc), so I vowed to never be like this because it’s so disrespectful and wishy-washy. 

14. Laugh at yourself.
Um, yeah. All the time. 

15. Do things YOU want to do.
Also all the time. Stay tuned for my coffee shop series to see an example of this!

16. Don’t say sorry when it’s not your fault, and do say sorry when it is.
This is a hard one, especially since I say sorry all the time for stupid reasons. 

17. Engage.
What? As in get engaged? Okay, yeah, I did that. : ) 

18. Talk to strangers, or someone you wish to get to know better.
HAHA! I’m definitely the type to have few, close friends, instead of a 1,000 friends. Of those people, I try to ENGAGE and get to know them better. I definitely don’t talk to strangers. This was definitely written by optimistic Katherine. 

19. Do things that remind you of what you love in the world.
I really try to stick to this, especially living near such an awesome city! Since writing this blog, I’ve traveled to some beautiful places (India, Paris, London, New Orleans, Provincetown, just to name a few), which definitely reminds me what I love in this world. Visiting and doing things in DC allows me to take advantage and enjoy a city I love, even if it’s just driving to the Trader Joe’s on U Street. 

20. Try new things. My recent fascination: baking and cake decorating. Sorry, Mary Beth, but I’m probably going to ask to use your kitchen a lot this summer.
Mary Beth, do you remember if this happened? I don’t know. BUT I did get into a serious baking frenzy after moving to my new apartment. My masterpiece is banana chocolate chip bread. 

21. Don’t bullshit. Ever.
I’m pretty good with this, but this is also so broad. Don’t bullshit about what? I’m not sure what I was thinking here. 

22. Embrace who you are, even if you sometimes don’t like who you are.
OH BOY. I’ve had some ups and downs in the past three years. I’ve had many moments where I didn’t like myself, and many moments where I did. However, I think that’s natural for most people. Regardless, I am working on embracing the parts of me that are inherent, and changing the things I can change. 

23. Tell people what you think of them at every chance you get, whether it’s “You’re a rockstar” or “I appreciate you” or “You inspire me” or “I love you.”
I do try to do this! If it’s my students, I let them know when they’ve done good work. I tell my family and Rahul how much they mean to me and how much I love them constantly (so they don’t forget, haha). When someone helps me out, I try to say thank you or that I’m appreciative. 

24. Don’t waste a day with a bad mood. Find things to cheer you up.
I wish I knew what this video was, but the account has been deleted! oops. But I do try to do this, although when I get in a REALLY bad mood, it’s hard for me to come out. Usually it’s because I’m freakin’ stubborn and want to sulk. 

25. Love.
Yes! 

And an extra one because I have problems with limits (even when they’re my own):

Don’t complain about things you can control. This is a MAJOR one to remember for me as of late.
OH MY GOSH, I still struggle with this SO MUCH. The kid taking too much time at the water fountain, the traffic on the way to school, you name it. I’ve really tried to work on these things and let these complaints go, because, when I do, I feel lighter and happier. But sometimes I just want to be mad at the world. 

My Favorite Moments from the “Gilmore Girls” Reunion

The original post was updated once I realized the original panel I watched was EDITED. WHAT THE HELL, EW. I have since watched the whole damn thing. 

There’s a lot of these posts going around right now, but what the heck. Since it’s already been CLEARLY established that I’m a “Gilmore Girls” fan, generation 1 (since season 2, baby!), I want to share some of my favorite moments from the ATX TV festival reunion.
Disclaimer: I’m aware of the Today show interview as well, but have not had a chance to watch it. 

First, let me establish my ethos.* This is what I teach my students, so it’s only right that I do it myself, right?

I discovered “Gilmore Girls” right at the end of its first season. If I remember correctly, I caught the very last episode of season 1 after a “7th Heaven” episode. (I know, I know, my family and I used to watch “7th Heaven,” let’s just all accept it and move on.) I don’t know why, but the show clicked with me. My soon-to-be high school self just knew it was a show I would love.6f910260-bb5d-0131-1add-120afe85a4f5So when the second season was about to start (remember that? anxiously waiting for seasons, back in the pre-Hulu and Netflix days when you couldn’t just watch the old seasons on repeat during the summer?) I told my mom I wanted to watch the show. She agreed to watch it with me and, soon, Tuesdays nights were GG nights in our household. My mom, sister, and I would gather around the TV and watch the newest episode.

One thing I wish the second generation of fans could appreciate is the true experience of watching “Gilmore Girls” as it originally aired. The anxiety of waiting between seasons 2 and 3 to see what was going to happen with Rory and Jess. The pure joy of watching season 3, knowing every episode was special and hilarious. The treat of watching the town of Stars Hollow develop and grow as the show did. When Rory graduated from high school, I had just finished the 10th grade, but I still remember my mom crying at Rory’s graduation speech and itching for that special day to arrive for me. (Even though I wasn’t valedictorian).

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The sheer pain of watching the end of season 4 and beginning of season 5 as Rory and Lorelai fought, mixed with the PURE ELATION at Lorelai and Luke FINALLY KISSING. Season 6 aired during my first year of college, and I hated the episodes where Rory and Lorelai weren’t talking, as their relationship was the lifeblood of the show. I continued to come home every week to watch the show with my mom (I went to college in my hometown), sticking by its side even as it grew weary and tired in the 7th season, it’s wind (and Amy S-P) knocked out of its sails.
One of my biggest pet peeves is people who adore and love a show, yet pretend certain seasons don’t exist. Sure, season 7 is a far, far cry from the other six (watch season 7 and then go back immediately to season 1 for a hilarious treat), but it’s still part of the show. To continue on with my ship metaphor–I’ll go down with the ship even if it sinks, because I LOVE THE SHIP SO MUCH!

“Gilmore Girls” was truly a formative show for me. Obviously, I understood that the show was fiction and I lived in reality (sadly), but I grew in so many ways just from watching GG. Through listening to their fast-paced, sharp dialogue, I grew as a writer. Even now, the dialogue amazes me. Through listening to the quick-witted Lorelai and Rory, I gained a quick wit of my own (although it’s pretty rusty at times). Through absorbing the cultural references on the show, I learned about many, many different things that I would not have had access to otherwise. Even now, when I watch the show, I’ll catch a quick reference to something that I can understand and appreciate in new ways. (Plus, for you first generation fans, I totally looked through those “cultural guides” in the DVD collections.) The show was the biggest cultural impact for me as a teenager/young adult and, even now, as I realize how shitty of a boyfriend/person Dean is; as I understand how snobby and pretentious Rory became when she started Yale; as I see how thick-headed and stubborn Lorelai could be with her relationship with her parents; I LOVE THIS SHOW AND I WILL LOVE IT FOREVER.

Okay, now that my ethos is THOROUGHLY established, let’s go through some of my favorite moments from the ATX reunion. 

1.  Lauren Graham mouthing “he was in insurance? I don’t remember that” when Amy S-P stated their reasoning behind why Richard was an insurance man. Clearly, she hasn’t been marathoning the show on Netflix with the rest of us….

2. A Canadian Dean?

3. I love that 1) Milo V. called Matt Czuchry “Mattie,” 2)Matt C. and Jared P. are both team Jess, 3) Matt C. interrupted Amy S-P’s discussion about what kind of character she wanted Logan to be by saying he was “kind of a dick”, 4) Alexis Bledel refused to pick and instead talked about what good actors they were, and 5) Scott Patterson ended the whole conversation by saying “none of you are good enough for Rory.”

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THANK YOU SCOTT P. YOU HAVE ONCE AGAIN REMINDED US THAT A WOMAN’S LIFE (OR, IN THIS CASE, A FICTIONAL CHARACTER’S LIFE) SHOULD NOT REVOLVE AROUND WHICH MAN IS BETTER FOR HER. THIS IS AN OLIVIA POPE SITUATION ALL OVER AGAIN:

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4. Amy S-P stating that “at least she got this” about “Gilmore Girls” and her career. Never a better reminder that we owe literally ALL of this to her.

5. Lauren Graham saying “does he have a girlfriend?” when Scott Patterson was musing where Luke was in life. The answer he gave (she comes out for fly-fishing lessons?) was so strange and also so not-Lorelai.

6. Yanic Truesdale saying he never really understood why Michel was in Stars Hollow in the first place. Ha! Good point.

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7. Liz Torres calling Stars Hollow “Scott’s Hollow.” Eh, close enough.

8. I love that Liza Weil stated she was really freaked out about the Paris character and that they created it specifically for her…watching the show, you would never know! She’s Paris through and through.

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9. Alexis and Lauren (yes, we’re on a first name basis now) whispering to each other about what happened on the first day of set to confirm before sharing. Also, even though I’ve read this somewhere else before, I still love the fact that Lauren had to essentially carry Alexis around the set to help her meet her marks.

10. Scott Patterson admitting his age, whether he meant to or not, by expressing shock that his comments on the podcast “Gilmore Guys” went viral on the internet. By saying, “it was just a little podcast,” he definitely demonstrated that he does not know how the internet works.
But I do agree with his comment that “it’s kinda time” for a TV/movie “Gilmore Girls” reunion.

11. When Kelly Bishop stated that “I know this woman” about her desire to play Emily Gilmore. Just as good as Lauren Graham stating she didn’t want ANYONE ELSE playing Lorelai.

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12. Amy S-P stating that an on-screen reunion would have to be done “right,” and then saying, “the good thing is that no one here hates each other.” Whew, I was worried.

13. They saved a seat for Edward Herrmann. Hearts.

14. Lauren Graham asking why “Oy with the poodles already” is so popular and then saying “that’s so funny” when the audience explained the phrase and its inception on the show. I especially love how Amy S-P responded with “oh, now it’s funny!” Similarly, Alexis Bledel stating “What’s copper boom?” Then pretending she remembered…seriously, the two have the same memory of filming the show that I do of high school. I.e., nothing is remembered.

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15. This statement from Keiko Agena makes me sad and laugh at the same time: “We didn’t know it [the show] was ending, I would have stole so much!” It makes me sad to be reminded that the actors didn’t know the show was ending, even though the seventh season sucked, but also laugh that the characters took things.
But seriously, though. The show could have had a “Community” style comeback, a la season 5. Dan Harmon got to come back, why can’t Amy S-P? 

16. Amy S-P stating “they would validate my parking” when asked how the show’s pitch would be received now. So true, though. With the end of shows like “30 Rock” and the move of “The Mindy Project” to Hulu and “Community” to Yahoo, it’s very clear that a show has to either be “classically” funny or created by Shonda Rhimes to make it on network television.

17. I swear, Lauren Graham is my spirit animal. When she said, “If I could stop talking about Bobby Flay, I’d say they’re [Lorelai and Luke] still together, 100%,” I knew, once again, that our babbling capabilities are equal.

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18. I loved, LOVED that Lauren stated the rift between Lorelai and Rory was hard to deal with as an actor on the show, but also that Amy S-P defended the need for the rift on the show. As she said, it was time for Lorelai to pull out the mom card and for Rory to act out. Still, so hard to watch!

19. I loved hearing Amy S-P speak a little on writing for the show, specifically on how she wrote lines and jokes for each character. Her discussions of jokes working for multiple characters not being good writing is a great reminder oh how important character development is. Plus, let’s be real, this statement of hers was a true testament to all writers everywhere:  “I’m a writer, man, it’s what I gotta do! I can’t do open heart surgery, I got no other skills. If I didn’t do that shit, who’s gonna watch the show?

20. Lastly, I’m so glad Lauren Graham put an end to the questioning about what the final four words of the show were going to be, if Amy S-P had stayed on. I was already kind of annoyed at the moderator, but I got REALLY annoyed when she asked Amy’s husband if he wanted to share the final four words.

That’s like getting a no from one parent about going out, or whatever, and then immediately turning to the other parent to hopefully get a different answer. Rude and uncalled for. I’m glad Lauren stated she didn’t want to know the last four words unless she was speaking them or hearing them spoken to her. With that comment, I believe the mother voice has spoken and we should all stop harassing them about it. I mean, also, think about it: what if the last four lines are “you’re dead to me” or something like that? Then we’ll wish we never asked to hear them in the first place.

Bonus: I had NO IDEA that there’s a GILMORE GIRLS DRINKING GAME. Also, I loved the sassy kid who asked the very last question. When Amy S-P stated she would not buy him beer, he responded “Well that wasn’t my question, thank you very much.” So much sass. So great.

That’s all, folks.

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*As further proof of my ethos, I obviously aced this quiz.

Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 2

After weeks of nonstop grading, a much-needed trip to my hometown, wedding cake tasting and flower picking, celebrating my dad’s 60th birthday, and several cuddle sessions with our family cat, Bella, I have finally found time for Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 2.

My sister and I decided to match at my dad’s 60th birthday party. We also decided to practice different poses while taking pictures:

I call the series below Bella with Katherine’s Laptop (and doesn’t help grade):

Now that I’ve overloaded you with pictures, let’s get on to the actual post.

Before dress shopping, I got a few tips from friends and websites on how to best approach the whole process. Most of the tips were simple: set a budget, scout ideas beforehand (while also being open to other choices), take a few favorite people with you to each store, and keep your store visitations to a select few places. 

Well, I did really well with the first three: I set a very clear budget in the beginning and stuck to it, screenshotted dresses on Pinterest and cut some out of magazines, took my mother to every single dress shop (except for one, when my sister tagged along as well), and made initial appointments at three dress shops that I had researched extensively online. I just knew that I was going to find THE dress at one of these first appointments, because that’s what my friends and every single TV/movie featuring wedding dress shopping had told me.

Guess what? I was wrong.

If you read my last blog post, you know that somewhere between the 3rd and 9th bridal store visit, I disappeared into a tulle-induced frenzy where I was determined to try on every single dress that I might REMOTELY like. I was on a crazy dress path and it was going downhill fast. I was waiting for that “ah-ha” moment when I put on the dress and everyone around me starts clapping and crying instantly. I’m not making that part up–I’ve literally read a blog post where a bride said this happened to her. So, in my crazy bridal mind, I was determined to have that same moment because, dammit, why not! I tried and retried dresses, determined to have an ah-ha moment of my own.

But then, something my best friend said to me brought me back to reality: “The TV/movies lie to you. The dress is important, but it doesn’t make the wedding, and definitely doesn’t make the marriage.” (I’m totally paraphrasing because I can’t find the original text).

There is a reason we have best friends, and it’s for times like these. Her simple text reminded me that just because the “ah-ha this is the dress” moment happens all the time in the media doesn’t mean that it has to happen to me. Every person’s dress shopping experience is different, and every PERSON is different.

This is the same rule that applies to the reaction to getting proposed to. Even though I always pictured that I would cry, as that’s what you see in the movies/etc, I instead started in utter shock at the ring. On an unrelated note, I’ve also started to think that men holding women’s purses when they shop is not a real thing, but something started in commercials/TV shows. More on this to come.

After this text, I slowly came back to reality and the rest of the wedding dress shopping experience became a little easier, as outlined in my first post. Here, I want to share a few dress shopping guidelines–as it there weren’t enough already out there–to remind other soon-to-be-brides that it’s okay if the “ah-ha” moment takes some time, or happens in a different way than you expected.

Wordifications’ Endorsed Wedding Dress Shopping Guidelines

1. Plan beforehand. Like I outlined above, going in with an idea of the dress you’re looking for is key. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a helpful reminder.

2. Say no and be firm to dresses you are not interested in. You will be offered plenty of dresses that are not your type or are too pricey. Just because that trick works on other customers–oh, you love the dress? oh, it’s $500 over your budget? oh, you want it anyway? perfect!–doesn’t mean it has to work on you. I’m a perennially nice person when it comes to interacting with salespeople, often too timid to really speak my mind, but I said no when necessary.

3. The step above helps trim down your dressing room options, which is key. You don’t want to take a bunch of dresses you don’t actually like back to the dressing room, and waste your time trying them on, when your dream dress is probably somewhere else in the store. Especially in stores that have a strict appointment time limit, say yes to only your favorite picks.

4. At the same time, say yes to different styles–within reason. Like, if you know you will never, ever want to wear a huge ball gown type dress, then mark those off completely. But, if you know you are open to, say, strapless, even though it’s not your first choice, then try on some strapless dresses. You never know, you might find the dress this way. Let’s just say that’s how I found mine–although my dress doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. Like I would give away what the dress looks like on this blog!

My emotions (in gif form, of course) about halfway through the whole dress shopping process: 

5. Don’t put your hopes on one store. Let me repeat. DON’T PUT YOUR HOPES ON ONE STORE. This was the big dress shopping mistake I made and it ultimately lead to my wedding dress-shopping-frenzy. I was so disappointed that I hadn’t found the dress at this specific store that SO many people had vouched for, that I spun out into a wedding panic.

Which store, you ask? Well, about 2 1/2 hours away from my hometown in TN is Low’s Bridal & Formal, which so happens to house the largest bridal selection in the mid-south. Sounds perfect, right? My mom and I heard about the store and, after asking for opinions on FB on whether or not a visit to the store was worth it and getting a resounding yes from many people who got their dress there, I made an appointment. After such praiseworthy FB comments, I was positive that I was going to find THE DRESS here. Like, steroid-induced confidence positive. And I did find many lovely dresses at this store, ultimately whittling it down to two favorites. Yet, while I was looking for the “THIS IS THE ONE!” moment, I instead spun off in a totally different direction: stressed, anxious, and confused. Sure, I had found some lovely dresses, but none of them were THE dress. Instead of feeling excited that I had found good options, I was stressed about the whole process and upset at the blind confidence I had placed in the store after hearing such rave reviews about it. I had planned on walking out with a dress purchased, and I instead walked out (well, rather, hobbled-I was still in the boot from my fracture!) confused, angry, and a little bitter, which is SO not the emotion you want to get from wedding dress shopping.

The visit to Low’s slowed down the whole process a bit instead of speeding it up, as I had hoped. Even though many, many people raved about the store, I finally accepted that their positive reviews didn’t mean jack if I wasn’t finding the dress I wanted, even in a store that looked like it was straight out of “Say Yes to the Dress.”

Ultimately, going to 12 different stores paid off–I found THE dress, and I’ll be going to try MY DRESS on in a week and a half. However, if I had known some of the above reminders going in to the whole process, especially the fifth one, the process would have been a little easier. I finally had to remind myself: There are thousands of dress shops with millions of dresses (not really sure on that math) and NO WAY to try on every single one. I had to put aside my inner perfectionist and, once I did, I was able to calm down long enough to say yes to the perfect dress.

Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 1

GUYS. It has been a hot minute since I posted on this ol’ blog—55 days, to be exact. A lot has happened in those days: spring break, sending out our SAVE THE DATES, grading upon endless grading, day trips to DC with my mom,  a short hospitalization for a blood clot in my leg, an anxiety attack from said blood clot in my leg, physical therapy visits, weekend trips to New York (Soho shopping, yes please!), finishing Amy Poehler’s book, finishing Mindy Kaling’s book, watching “How I Met Your Mother” two times through, ordering HBO just to get HBOGo to watch “Veep,” starting “The Mindy Project,” job interviews, wedding planning, the list goes on…

But today, I want to write about the most exciting event of the last 47 days: FINDING MY WEDDING DRESS!

The journey to finally saying yes to the dress was a long one. My first official bridal store visit was on March 3 (Birthday Bride!), and I finally ordered THE DRESS almost a month later on April 2. During this time, my mom and I visited 12 bridal shops in 4 states, tried on countless dresses, developed a genuine distaste for excessive netting, and reached a near breaking point. Somewhere during the experience, after my third bridal store visit and before my ninth or tenth, I disappeared into a tulle-induced frenzy where I was DETERMINED to find the perfect dress. I had found a lovely dress at the 2nd store visit, but somehow convinced myself that I needed to be sure that a more perfect dress didn’t exist somewhere else. In this journey to satiate my inner voice, I tried on many dresses that were not my style at all, squeezed into size 8s and drowned in size 14s, and became more and more frustrated with the whole process. I was positive that I would find the dress while home for Spring Break and, when I didn’t, I returned home to Maryland disappointed that I would have to do the rest of the shopping by myself.

But then something miraculous happened—I spent a day in the hospital for a fractured leg-induced blood clot, after which my mom flew back to Maryland (after already spending 3 weeks with me during my hobbling stage, because she is the best) to spend another 2 weeks with me while I adjusted to a new medication and lived in an anxiety-induced fear of what was happening in my body (watching this video on repeat helped ease my mind and also laugh). While the circumstances for her return to Maryland were crappy, her second visit in 2015 meant one, very exciting thing: we could finish wedding shopping together!

We made a few more appointments in other bridal shops in Maryland, even though I was starting to get tired of the whole experience, which was kind of frustrating. Its wedding dress shopping; how can it be frustrating? I had gone into the whole experience expecting a Monica Geller moment of finding the perfect dress, complete with a “THIS IS THE ONE!” exclamation, pushing all those around me into tears immediately (ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch), with an immediate sense that this dress was going to “complete me.” But then, I had a moment of realization, plus a real talk with my BFF and countless conversations with my mother, and came to understand that I wasn’t buying a wedding dress in the movies. The ah-ha moment is fabricated, in those situations, and I also realized that I’m not even a “ah-ha” moment kind of gal. I just knew I wanted to find a dress that looked and felt amazing, and I started to push myself to hard in finding this dress.

After a few conversations about this frustration, my mom and I set an April 1 deadline for picking the dress, after our last bridal appointments in March 31. A deadline! As a former journalist and current teacher, I love deadlines, and so I latched on to this quickly. I still liked a dress I had tried on at the second bridal shop, and had tried on countless other times afterward, but I wanted to be sure.

And, despite the lengthy journey, I’m so glad I did. On March 31, we visited our last two shops. The first visit was strange—they didn’t allow you to take photos while trying on the dresses (which I know is standard in many shops, but also kind of lame) and the woman helping me made a comment about how I can “wear the wedding dress again,” to which she asked “Why do you laugh?” when I, of course, laughed at what she said. She was being totally serious and implied that I could always make a short summer dress out of the wedding dress. Acc-a-scuse-me? I’m not turning my wedding dress into craft time.

So while the first visit was a bit disappointing, the second visit was so different. Maybe it was because I knew this was our last bridal store visit, no matter what, or maybe I was just in a good mood, but this last store was lovely! Not only were we the only ones, but the dresses were spread out instead of being crammed together, which made browsing a lot easier. Because there were fewer dresses, and this was our last visit, I ended up trying on a few dresses I would have said “heck no” to at other places. Because of this, I finally had a mini-bridal moment. I tried on a dress that I normally would have turned away, and immediately and instinctively knew that this was the dress. It was very similar to the other favorite dress I had tried on several times, but upped the ante just enough to knock the other dress out of the ballpark. I tried it on twice, twirled it in, sent pictures to my sister who immediately approved, and immediately went for fro-yo afterwards to discuss the decision with my mom.

During the whole process, my mom provided the perfect balance of “this is your decision” and “that dress does/does not look like you.” She never pushed me toward a dress, while also pitching in when she could tell I was unsure about a dress I had tried on. She did intervene when I was in my tulle-induced frenzy to tell me I had gotten away from my original dress goals, which was true, and which was exactly what I needed to hear. But she didn’t hide her excitement when we actually PURCHASED THE DRESS, which was such a surreal moment for me that it took a trip to Old Navy and the mall for the realization to sink in. I had found the dress! I’m so happy that my mom was there to finish the wedding dress journey with me; it would not have been the same without her.

We found the dress at the last shop visited and bought the dress at the first shop visited, which adds a nice touch of symmetry to the whole process. Come back in a few weeks for “Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 2”, presented in list format, of course. But first, grading. And grading. AND GRADING!!!!