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monthly faves: january 2k15


This here is the first post in a new series for 2015 where I talk about things I loved this month! Because I don’t spend enough time doing it at the end of the year. Obviously.


JAM: Because I have functioning ears and have also been alive for the last two months, my favorite jam is currently “Uptown Funk”. Bruno Mars is everything and it’s just SO GOOD. I love late 70s/early 80s era funk and “Uptown Funk” hits all the right notes of nostalgia and homage while still feeling really fresh and new and alive. Even with as much airplay as it’s been getting and as much as I’ve been listening to it on my own, I am still not sick of it. Also, the performance from Ellen was too much and Crystal won’t stop watching it at work and getting overly amped. AMAZON | ITUNES


ALBUM: This may seem seasonally inappropriate, but I think if you listen you’ll find that Low’s Christmas is actually wildly appropriate for January when it’s dreary and cold and Christmas is over and winter seems as though it will never end and you are going to be trapped in the cold and snow for so long that you transform wholly into some kind of frost creature. “Taking Down the Tree” is definitely my favorite here, but “Long Way Around the Sea” is also excellent. ITUNES


MOVIE: I only watched two movies in January — We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Maze Runner — and though Kevin was great, The Maze Runner wins for being more fun (Obbbbviously!) and also improving upon the weak-ass book that spawned it. I like Dylan O’Brien enough, but I thought the secondary characters were a lot more compelling and drove my interest more than I would’ve bet. I didn’t love it, but I was just amazed how much better it was than the book. That’s rare, so it’s worth noting. AMAZON | ITUNES


BOOK: I finally got the sequel to The Raven Boys on to my reading schedule last month and it was so, so gooooood. I would say The Dream Thieves is maybe even better than the first book? I continue to not like Adam as much as Maggie Stiefvater wants me to, but everyone else is genuinely awesome and complicated and interesting and Stiefvater continues to effectively and EROTICALLY exploit the female gaze in ways I love. I genuinely cannot wait until the third one comes up in my schedule. AMAZON


BATH & BEAUTY: I am allergic to traditional deodorants and since I quit wearing them in 2011, I have been on a quest to find a good “natural” deodorant that is 1. not a pain in the ass, 2. effective, 3. cheap, and as most of those efforts have failed, I have mostly accepted that I will usually just be a little smelly. I’m okay with it, Crystal is okay with it, and it’s better than getting huge growths in my pit follicles. Then I found Arm & Hammer’s Essentials and I don’t really smell bad anymore! It doesn’t have aluminum, it lasts all day and through even my long workouts, and it’s magical. The fresh scent is a little toilet cleaner-y, but that doesn’t really bother me and the unscented isn’t really — it’s sort of a light citrus-y smell. I’m in love. AMAZON


STUFF: Goodreads is my favorite uncategorizable thing I loved this month. I finally signed up at the start of the year so I could join the Reading Challenge in hopes that it’d help me hit my 50 book goal for the year and then I decided I’d write reviews of what I read all year too and it’s been really fun! I like seeing what everyone is reading — and how fast y’all read! — and it really has helped me keep up on my challenge. And I’m constantly adding things to my Amazon wishlist because I see other people reading stuff I haven’t heard of. It’s awesome, let’s be friends!

I also really liked this New York Times article about product naming, this A Softer World, this A Softer World, this post at thefrenemy.com, Dear Teen Me, this comic, and retroj.am.

LMAO months later, I realize I forgot one of my most favorite categories: television. Thankfully, I only really watched a couple episodes of Brooklyn 99 and New Girl, so nothing all that new to talk about. Oops.

a thirtieth birthday

I turn thirty on the 26th of this month. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to be traumatized by turning thirty or if I’m going to take it in stride and be chill about being an unsuccessful but surviving adult, still living in their parents’ basement. Who knows? This next 24 days are going to be a real adventure.

Most of my freakouts have been not age related, but milestone related. I freaked out about going to middle school. I freaked out about going to high school. I freaked out about going to college and graduating college and going to grad school and graduating grad school and moving cross-country and moving back and moving cross-country again.

But the birthdays? Nah. I like birthdays. I remember ten being a big deal — double digits! — and thirteen! And I failed my driver’s test on my sixteenth birthday, so that one was pretty garbage-y, but otherwise I’ve been okay so far. Birthdays are happy, celebratory. I spend the entire month of my birth making myself the center of everyone’s attention and because I am just that annoying and because the people around me are just that amazing, they not only tolerate it, but encourage and participate in it.

I feel old all the time. I feel old when I realize how young other adults are. I feel old when I realize — with a suddenness that should be impossible at this point — that I will not publish my first book before I am 25*. I feel old when I see Taylor Swift. I feel old when my bones ache — which is sometimes daily — and I feel old when I hear a song I loved as a kid played on an “oldies” station. I feel old when I don’t like something intended for youths and old when I do. I feel old when I wake up with a headache or when I decide not to have a drink because being buzzed sounds exhausting. I feel old constantly, but I have always, since I was a kid, and it has never had anything to with the numerical value of my age.

I am old. I have always been old. I am perhaps slightly less old now, at thirty, than I was at 25, and most definitely than I was at sixteen. I will likely always be old.

But for me, old is just the way to be and the way I have been has worked out pretty well for me. So bring it, thirty, I’m waiting.

*And now not before thirty. What a failure.

PS: My RSS feed was/possibly is broken, so it is likely you aren’t even seeing this post! I have removed the Totally Top Five 2K14 Giveaway since it wasn’t hitting readers, but I will get it up again this week and give you guys plenty of time to win some Amazon gift cards! I will eventually spend a weekend moving away from my current theme since it is kind of infuriating, but for now we shall persevere.

new year, same me

Resolution culture is garbage. It is a New Year, but you do not have to be a New You. You are wonderful and you don’t have to change jack shit if you don’t want to.

But if you want to make a change, the New Year isn’t a bad time to, right? New Year, fresh start, all that stuff. You’re the same person you were last year, but with maybe a little extra motivation.

I spent 2014 making some very big and serious changes to my life partially because I got The Cancer, but also because I was well enough to have a full-time job and sort of behave like an actual Adult Human for the first time in my life, which is kind of cool.1

So, since 2015 is upon us and I did pretty damn good making changes last year, I’m taking my New Year’s Motivation and making some resolutions and sharing them with you. Fun, yeah?

1. Write More

I’m a writer! But I basically forget to write. I cram blogs in at the last second and I forget how much I actually enjoy writing them. When I write one blog, I feel urged and excited to write more of them. I should, you know, follow that instinct. I also write fiction! And, to be fair, I verbally and text-message-ually write almost every single day because I tell my girlfriend stories of all shapes and kinds, but I don’t write enough of those stories down. I have a finished novel I should edit and try to, like, sell and another that’s got a solid shape and tons of ideas scribbled down in a million places. I want to do something with them. I love words. I need to write more of them down.

Concrete Goal: Write 100 words a day! Edit/re-write my MFA book.


2. Consume More

I read and watch a pretty fair amount but I want to consume more and I want to consume things more intentionally. I like liking things and I want to find more things to like. Simple.

Concrete Goal: One new movie every two weeks, three new episodes of TV a week, 50 books this year, and more comics! Update listography and goodreads regularly, including a small review for each book I finish this year. Try to hit at least some of these diversity challenges.


3. Keep Moving and Feeding This Body

I work out frequently — sometimes six times a week! — and I have gotten much better at feeding myself in a way that satisfies my body and doesn’t make me miserable. I want to eat burgers and fries for every meal, but it turns out that my gastrointestinal system doesn’t exactly feel great when I do that? Crazy. Also, I kind of like how I feel after I work out. Gross, right?

Concrete Goal: Keep food journaling, meal planning, and going to the gym. Keep on keeping on.


I also want to be less envious and subtweet-y. I hate how often being cranky makes me think everything is dumb, but it’s kind of hard to resolve to like, be an entirely different human being than you are? And to come up with goals more concrete than “Be less of a dick.”

I am going to try to ask myself “Do you really want to say that?” before letting things loose on the world via social media. And also try to think, “That’s nice” when someone is enjoying something, even if I’m not into it. I love enthusiastic and joyful people! I don’t need to be a passive-aggressive bummer. I want to lift people up whenever possible or at the very least try harder not to drag them down, indirectly or otherwise. I am not a beacon of sunshine and I will never be, but I can strive to, you know, shut up a little more frequently when I’m in a mood.

Are you making resolutions? Are they as boring as mine? Did you resolve to become a superhero? That’d be pretty cool, to be honest.


1: I would way, way rather be sitting on my couch marathoning TV shows, but we can’t have everything.

at [roughly] this moment, i’m…

This is a quick update! To report that I am alive and very well!1 and that instead of being wildly busy with being sick and miserable all the time, I am instead very busy with a very boring but fairly well paying full-time job! Where my fiancée is my boss! Which can get kind of weird, but is largely okay!

So, since I have been a very bad blogger and very, very absent and also, to be honest, pretty boring in general — Truly. Are you an insomniac? Let me lull you to sweet sleep with wild tales of reorganizing an entire employee file system! Let me tell you about entering hundreds of insurance claims at a time and then submitting them! Over dial-up! You’ll sleep like a baby. — I thought I’d steal a meme from the awesome Kimmie at That Girl in The Wheelchair that she posted and I saved about a million years ago!

Currently…2

Loving:

To be perfectly honest, the first answer that came into my head was sleep, but that’s boring, so I’m going with 1. Lumosity since breaking up my work day by playing games that are supposed to make me smarter is actually much more enjoyable and useful to me than taking a lunch. 2. This Smith’s Minted Rose Lip Balm because it’s like, the second lip product I’ve ever tried that I thought actually made a difference to my lips. And 3. Bath & Body Work’s Sweater Weather. I know I’ve talked about how much I love this before, but dude, I really love this scent. Soon it will be too wintery to burn any longer and I will mourn it. It is so strong (such a good ~throw) without being overpowering and the scent lingers forever without getting stale. Oh and also, my new glasses!


zennioptical.com3

Reading:

Just Finished
Right Now
FUN!
WEIRD!
GREAT!
TRASHY!4

Watching:

To be honest — and to my dismay — I honestly don’t even know what I watched on purpose last. I haven’t intentionally watched an episode of TV since the end of September and I haven’t seen a movie in theaters since we saw Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st. Tragedy! We did however manage to get through an entire movie on Netflix last weekend! And a documentary no less! I Know That Voice was super delightful! And fascinating. And definitely worth watching if you have even a passing nostalgia or interest or enjoyment of animated movies. I’m interested in voiceover work anyway, so it was particularly interesting to me. Love seeing the faces that go to the voices. And we’re going to see Big Hero 6 tomorrow! And also I watched a bunch of eps of The Mindy Project and that is pretty fun.

Oh, and also this. On repeat.

Listening to…

  
  
  

Working on…

The answer to this question should be: my finished book that needs editing, my next book that needs writing, the book after that that’s in need of conceptualizing, my screenplay, my other screenplay, the dozens of projects I have in lists everywhere, but mostly I am working on trying to get better at adulthood. It turns out that managing time is really hard and trying to have a life while working 8-10 hour days is, like, actually difficult? Last time I had a full-time job, I was too depressed to care if I ever had any fun or leisure, so this time around it’s at least an improvement!

I am also working on a post about what I’ve been up to since my last update (The Twin Cities! Great food! Yellowstone! A new puppy!) and the Totally Top 5 series for 2K14! Oh, and I’ve also been posting the #holidayjamz I normally upload to my tumblr (who Cease-and-Desisted me to death! Thanks, Stevie Wonder!) as Youtube links to my twitter instead with #holidayjamz2k14 because the holiday season begins November 1st and if you can’t take that… well, suck it.

1: Cancer treatment is going very well! Can’t use the word remission until I have a hysterectomy, but my oncologist is very chill about waiting for surgery and very confident that we caught the stuff early. Woo!

2: What I’m currently reading/watching/listening to is always over there on the right hand side of the site. I update it fairly regularly even!

3: I am ~feeling a LARGE number of the frames from Warby Parker, but I didn’t like any of the ones in my first home try-on (at least on my face, they looked great off) so I am hesitant to take the plunge and order the ones I really want, since they don’t even have a home try-on option. Free returns and all, but nail-biting! We’ll see how the next box goes.

4: “Her [REDACTED] became a gourd of hot syrup, spilling into Dominik’s mouth.” So, yeah.

this mutation

There are maybe three phone calls that you’d really describe as the worst in your life: the person you love most in the world has been killed or severely injured, your beloved pet has been killed or severely injured, your doctor has test results and they’re not good.

I got the third — for which I’m grateful, to be honest, the other two are worse — and it was the worst phone call of my life after the worst, most anxiety-riddled three weeks of my life.

My girlfriend took the call for me — the saint she is, appeasing my anxiety at the cost of her own, always — so I can’t recount it in perfect detail but the gist was, “You have cancer. We thought it might be a worse, more rare cancer, so we had to send all your bits and pieces away to be double-checked which is why it’s been three weeks, but no, you’ve just got the regular ol’ garden variety of endometrial cancer.”

Cancer is not a fun word, it’s not a kind word. It sounds ugly and feels wet and clunky and hiss-filled in the mouth. It effortlessly terrifies everyone who speaks English, makes them simultaneously recoil and lurch toward you in apology and pity.

I am 28 years old and I have endometrial cancer.

I have cancer. This is what I say to myself every morning upon waking and every night as I try to fall asleep. It’s a constant, gently barbing hum at the back of my throat any time my mind quiets. Sometimes, like the evening that followed the worst phone call of my life, it isn’t quiet. I say it aloud because if I don’t remind myself that it is real, I cannot cope. I fear I will forget and my life will return to normal without me realizing and it will come again and strip it away from me again, fresh and brutal.

I have cancer.

Sometimes it comes out like a cough, sudden and jarring, scratching at my throat. My eyes water and sting, but it passes quickly — a swallow of water down the wrong pipe — and everything’s okay again.

The night I learned he results of my labs, I looked in the bathroom mirror and fluffed my hair and stroked the skin under my eyes because I still haven’t found an eye cream I want to buy. (I’m almost 30 and I live in a place where the temperature is regularly 20 below, hydration is a priority.) I looked into a face that has cleared up tremendously in the last few weeks because of a drastic change in diet and exercise, my color finally returning to me after months of severe blood loss that necessitated two separate blood transfusions and a total of nine pints of strange blood commingling with my own. I looked in the mirror and I smiled and I said, “I have cancer and I have never looked more beautiful.”

My narcissism truly knows no bounds.

“I am reading Gone Girl on my Kindle and I have cancer.”

“I am shopping for a desk lamp at Target while having cancer.”

“I have cancer and I am moisturizing my face.” “I have cancer and I’m deep conditioning my hair.” “I’m cleaning the bathroom and I have cancer.”

It’s a refrain to center my reality. For now, this thing inside of me, this vicious brutality of mutation is part of me and I must learn it, acknowledge it, accept it.

Cancer will — hopefully, prayerfully, “Please, oh please”-fully — not always be my reality, the center of my every breath, but for now it is.

I have cancer.

I have cancer and with luck, it’ll all be fine.

I am Ash, I have cancer, and I’m doing okay, really.