Can I Overcome My Introversion For One Night?

Have you ever had a trait of your personality conflict with an activity?
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Sea Stories III: Angry Filipinos

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(By the way, I’m going to begin to use stock photos from now on. What, you think you can take photos in basic training? By the way, these girls look about excited as I was. Even I’m impressed with their enthusiasm.)

The Petty Officer rounds us up, not unlike cattle. Wide-eyed, matching the looks of the individuals around me, we all sternly follow this strangely dressed man down by the departure gates of O’Hare airport. I almost forgot my bag in the USO office; it’s a bit redundant to say, but that would have sucked big time.

It was strange. O’Hare was an airport that I was so comfortable with. From the departure gates, I could see all of the terminals and check-in booths and rent-a-car stations that I remembered from when I was younger and I would be going on family vacations to wherever around the country or world. I felt pretty old now, and I just turned 18.

We were instructed to sit down on the floor of the terminal and to “shut the f*ck up”. I say that in quotes as I do not use sentence enhancers lightly. The guys in charge of us really did have mouths like sailors, and that scared a few of us. I thought it was hilarious.

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The Englewood Fairytale

The most charming cliché graced my Sunday morning and I want to tell you all about it.

I showed up at Ogden Park at 8:30 AM to pick up my bib and aqua-blue t-shirt for the 3rd annual Englewood 5k. I was by myself and spent the 2 hours until race time reading, pretending I’m good at stretching, and watching the whole community turn out for selfies and hugs. It was equally heart warming and alienating for someone who showed up solo.

Come race time, everyone passed under the timing arch, jogging to the beat of the Legends Drumline, which is objectively the greatest running music ever created.

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Sea Stories II – Paperwork for Days

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My fellow shipmates and I departed from the MEPS, or military entrance processing station feeling quite valiant, dare I say honorable. The only thing we truly did that day was sign some paperwork, then it was off to the buses for basic training.

Let me rephrase that: the only thing we did that day was sign paperwork. As in, from 0600 to 1500 we did nothing but sign paperwork. Who knew that the MEPS was so similar to the DMV.

Despite all the metaphorical papercuts, our family and friends were waiting outside the buses, cheering us on. I felt a sense of pride that I was becoming something more than myself, although that pride was not even close to being earned yet. My mom was recording the entire walk from the building to the bus on her iPad. Filipinos like to record everything.

And then I dropped my paperwork all over the pavement. I looked like a complete fool in front of everyone’s families, but I quickly scooped it up, and acted as if nothing happened.

I played myself.

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Blahsmopolitan No. 12: “Last Teenage Sleep” AKA “I Drifted Through Space for Twenty Years and All I Got Was This Gross Body”

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This is Blahsmopolitan, a column about one sophomore’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago. This week, our columnist turns twenty, thinks about his place in the universe, and learns how to type the long dash in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.

last week i had a panic attack on the treadmill at the gym because the belts were moving too fast and creating too much friction so it started to smell like burning rubber and i read this article that said people who have strokes say they smell burnt toast right before they have the stroke but i felt like maybe i could’ve misread the article so i sat on the floor of planet fitness and said “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” out loud to myself ten times because when my grandma had a stroke she said she couldn’t form sentences and i wanted to make sure i could still use every letter in the alphabet and when i finally calmed down i still felt fat so i switched machines and stayed for another 30 minutes

i’m 20 years old tomorrow and i texted my mom and asked if my birthday dinner could be popeye’s which makes me feel maladjusted

none of the “wonders” that humans made off the backs of slaves are really even that cool to me- the only things i’ve ever found quote-unquote beautiful are things that would’ve existed with or without us which makes me unbelieve and believe in God, respectively

if i was born on accident then why am i the one being punished Continue reading “Blahsmopolitan No. 12: “Last Teenage Sleep” AKA “I Drifted Through Space for Twenty Years and All I Got Was This Gross Body””

Writer’s Block

Has anyone else hit a brick wall that they’ve become stuck and uninterested in something you like to do?

I’ve hit writer’s block recently in writing raps/songs that it’s made me a little uninterested in writing, and it’s been hard to write about what I’ve wanted to write about, and it becomes more and more overwhelming in my head as time progresses. I usually write about a need for intimacy, my shyness, how life is going, and other things, but it’s been difficult to write and get out what I’ve been wanting to get out, because it’s about what you say and how you say it. I’ve made a playlist to help me try to get out of writer’s block, and get back into my groove of writing, whether it just be technical or writing full songs.

So in this playlist I’ve included mostly Hip-Hop songs with a few alternate rock and pop rock songs. I included some songs in this because they’ve helped me write before such as: “What’s Understood (ft. Joey Bada$$)” by Nyck Caution and “The Way I Am” by Eminem. Other songs, like “Illuminate (ft. Kendrick Lamar)” by Ab-Soul make me think about writing. Meanwhile songs, “Train Your Mind” and “State of Mind” by Dizzy Wright, “Enter the Void (ft. Ab-Soul)” by Joey Bada$$, and “YMF” by Ab-Soul make me think and overthink about what I want to say. Then there are songs like “Chum” by Earl Sweatshirt, “Hard Times” by Paramore, and “Slow Down” by Phora which I relate to personally as I go through problems and try to get through them. Lastly, there are songs about pushing forward such as, “Sing For The Moment” by Eminem. Many of the topics in these songs I’ve wrote about in some way, and can probably help me get through writer’s block and get me back in the moment. Maybe it can also probably help those out there struggling with writer’s block or if you’re stuck on a project.

Sea Stories I – Mail Call turns to Bro’s Scrawls

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(2130) SR Cuartero has assumed the watch, GRLKS. Division disseminating letters for mail call. We are moored port side, and currently receiving miscellaneous services from the pier. No new government defacement in sight.

“CUARTERO!” My Recruit Division Commander screamed out. My eyes turned into silver dollars as I ran as fast as I could to the center of the room. I took the letter from Senior Chief’s hand, returning to my spot by my bunk. My fellow shipmates were called to the center of the compartment just the same as I. The looks on their faces mimicked my own; wide eyed, and their pupils were silver dollars.

Senior Chief gave a perimeter sweep with his eyes, commanding the 73 recruits to do jumping jacks when he said jump, perform pushups when he said push, and shoot when he said shoot. And he didn’t even say anything yet.

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My October Favorites: TV, Music, and More for a Festive Halloween

Hey, friends! I thought I’d switch up the pace of my blog this week in honor of the best month: October! With fall weather finally settling in and Halloween right around the corner, I figured it would be neat to talk about all the spooky s**t I’m obsessed with this season.

Last year, my October favorites blog post was my most well-received post, so I’m here to give the people what they want! Forewarning: Stranger Things, S2, did not make the cut for this list because A) it’s a given and you should definitely be watching and B) I won’t be binge-watching it til Halloween comes.

Whether you’re hosting the ghoulish get-together of the century or having a low-key, fright-night-in, here are a few things I’ve been indulging in that’ll make your Halloween night to die for:

FOOD PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread - Super soft, moist, rich pumpkin flavor, and loaded with chocolate chips! Easy, no mixer recipe that's the BEST!!

I usually stick to TV/film/music when I talk about October favorites, but this recipe is just too good not to include. Pumpkin flavored everything seems to the standard this time of year, but I don’t f**k with anything made with artificial pumpkin. Gross.

Baking is one of my passions year-round, but baking in the fall always feels the most rewarding. The flavor of real pumpkin purée mingling with, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, in a toasty oven, is like a hug for your nose.

Late last November, I found this recipe online for “The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread” and it definitely lives up to the hype. I’ve made my fair share of pumpkin bread throughout the years, but this recipe combines those homey fall flavors with morsels of chocolate, which of course makes everything better.

The magic behind the moistness (I’m not sorry) of this pumpkin bread is the addition of sour cream — or Greek yogurt, if you prefer. The softness of the cake and the gooey-ness of the melted chocolate rightfully upholds this recipe’s title as ‘the best.’

Pro Tip: Bake the batter in mini muffin pans, instead of a bread pan, for perfect bite-sized treats that are easy to serve at a party and even easier to shamefully shove into your mouth while you binge watch horror films all night.

TELEVISION — ERASED (2016)

Between two jobs and a full-time academic workload, I haven’t had much time to get into new shows or movies this semester, but I did manage to come across a particularly noteworthy series.

If you’re one of those people who can’t watch a show with subtitles, you are egregiously f**ing up and missing out on a stellar series.

ERASED is a Japanese anime about Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old, struggling manga artist with a strange, supernatural gift. In moments of oncoming tragedy, Satoru finds himself in periods of ‘revival,’ in which he is sent back several minutes before an incident occurs. He uses this rewind-in-time as a second chance to spot approaching danger and save lives.

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In the first few minutes, this anime seems to establish the themes of most, generic anime plots: awkward protagonist who lives alone and works a dead-end job, cute/potential high school love interest/friend/coworker pushes his buttons often, and the difficulties of paving your career path in the Japanese job market.

However, the first episode quickly escalates as Satoru experiences a period of ‘revival,’ saving an innocent passerby and establishing that very little is normal about our protagonist’s life.

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I don’t want to reveal too much about this series, but the plot quickly thickens with overtones of murder, mystery, and a long-time unsolved case of child abduction. This show is perfect for those who aren’t a fan of excessive gore and jump-scare horror, seeing as it fits the bill of more of the thriller/mystery genre.

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You can access ERASED on VRV.co, an online TV and film streaming service. It’s $10/month to sign up with VRV, but you can definitely take advantage of their 7-day free trial before you commit to it.

Pro Tip: Do NOT skip the opening theme before each episode of ERASED. In fact, I encourage you to pay close attention to it for full immersion, which will aid your uncovering of the mysteries presented in the series.

MUSIC — “TT” by TWICE

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If heart-stopping, frightening things aren’t your jam, I’m disappointed, but not surprised. I try to work Halloween into small-talk this time of year and I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t as jazzed about the grim and eerie side of the season as I am.

If you’re one of those people, or if you just so happen to really love K-Pop, then you have to check out the music video for “TT” by TWICE.

I’m a pretty big K-pop buff but, seeing as I’m not a huge fan of girl groups, I hadn’t heard of TWICE before. A good friend of mine introduced me to them during the first week of October and I was hooked. Halloween? K-pop? Cute girls? Yes.

The premise of the video is just, weird? Like, it doesn’t make sense at all, but — as with all things K-pop — it’s extremely aesthetically pleasing.

Two little kids who seem to be trick-or-treating (?) walk into a creepy house and find a group of girls dressed in pastels and, several outfit changes later, are seen embodying an assortment of Halloween characters – all while they sing about some dude they’re crushing and crying, or ‘TT-ing,’ over (T_T).

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After watching the video a few times, I noticed that the girls’ costumes might actually be a sly homage to certain Disney characters, including but not limited to a snow queen, a puppet, a tiny blonde fairy, and a mermaid.

I’m not gonna lie though, regardless of the cute Halloween theme of the music video, this song has been my October anthem for the catchy-ness of the song alone. It’s a total banger…that I may or may not have memorized the dance moves to.

Have a Happy (and safe) Halloween!

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X,

Katerina

It’s A Gudak Thing

If you’re a millennial like me, you might remember the fleeting memories of disposable cameras that were all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s. Nowadays, disposable cameras are still accessible and able to be purchased, but not for anything less than around 20 bucks – for just the camera alone.

Not to mention, when trying to post an image on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you’re met with almost too many filters to make the picture look as perfect as you can possibly alter it to be. Back in the day, you had one shot at taking a picture, and the way it came out was the way it came out – but it was nearly perfect as it was anyway.

But if you’re still looking for something to fulfill the nostalgia of the previous millennium, you can look no further than your own smartphone!

Earlier this year, a Korean startup company Screw Bar created Gudak Cam as a way to relive the days where capturing the moment was essential, and snapping hundreds of the same picture was unthinkable. In the era of the smartphone, we are so used to redoing the same photo a million times to make sure it is absolutely perfect before posting it online.

Gudak Cam takes that away completely. One of its quirks is that it takes away your ability to be able to fully see what you are capturing by limiting your focus to a tiny viewfinder at the top of the screen. And selfie view? Forget about it. The app makes you work to snap a selfie by using the front camera. This may be off-putting to some, but these features are what make Gudak Cam so appealing.

Here’s how it works: you open up the Gudak app and are brought to the camera, but instead of a fullscreen view of what you’re trying to photograph, you see mostly an image of the old-school disposable cameras from back in the day, with the exception of a tiny viewfinder to give you a glimpse of the scene in front of you.

Source: Gudak Cam

A new “roll” gives you 24 shots, and the pre-made lightleak filters randomize once every hour, so every image is different so long as you don’t use all 24 shots in one hour.

Once you’re finished, the roll goes to the processing lab, where it will take 72 hours to develop. Once that’s finished, the images download straight to your phone’s camera roll and you have two dozen new images with a variety of different filters and lightleaks to give each photo its own charm.

The app is available for 99 cents only for iPhone for now, but the increase in the app’s popularity would suggest it will be making its way onto Android devices in no time. So, get snapping! In the meantime, here are some of the Gudak Cam photos I’ve taken recently to give you some inspiration. Click through to view full size:

Thinking about giving Gudak Cam a try? What do you think about this concept for an app? Comment and let me know!

-Sonia

Feeling SAD: Battling Fall/Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder

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With week 8 of the Fall 2017 semester coming to a close, I feel simultaneously relieved and unnerved. We’re almost there! Yay! But also, holy s**t.

Regardless of whether you’re excited or terrified that the semester is half way over, a congratulations is most definitely in order.

Pass those midterms! The happy avocado believes in you! And so do I.

This week, I wanted to check in on my blog readers because, in addition to the stress that midterm season brings, this time of year is rather difficult for me because I get SAD.

And no, I don’t mean ‘sad’ like when you watch a movie and any slightly touching moment that happens transforms you into an inconsolable whirlwind of tears. No? Just me? Okay, cool.

Well, I’m talking about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Those who suffer from SAD — which can either be a stand-alone or an additional sub-type of major depression — typically experience it around early fall, leading into and throughout the winter months. However, experiencing SAD in the spring/summer is totally possible, too.

Essentially, it’s a seasonal form of depression that pokes its head around the corner each year, around the same time of year. I take fall/winter SAD rather seriously because most people brush it off as ‘normal’ to feel down as the temperatures plummet, mislabeling the sensation a ‘winter blues.’

While it’s normal to feel down now and then, it’s important to understand that SAD is very much not that, just like depression =/= feeling sad. SAD is a form of depression characterized by persisting, prolonged periods of lethargy, oversleeping, not sleeping enough, hopelessness, overeating, not eating enough, etc. — much like major depression.

In my case, SAD takes shape as soon as I notice that sun is beginning to disappear before 6pm. Less sunlight means less serotonin, which can be a depression breeding ground. The simplest tasks start to feel more impossible than usual. My limbs become leaden, my drive is all but extinguished, my confidence is obliterated, and my thoughts are poisonous.

I’ve never been able to prevent SAD, and that’s the truly crummy part about some forms of depression — they don’t leave, you merely learn how to better handle them — but, in addition to the obvious solutions like therapy, medication, exercise, supplements, a balanced diet, and so on, I had an epiphany recently.

Amidst the relentless sea of responsibilities and obligations that consume us in the approaching winter months, how much of what we do is because we actually want to be doing it? And I’m talking, no strings attached.

This semester, I’m enrolled full-time and I’m working two part time jobs, one of which entails being a research assistant for a professor — i.e. reading scholarly articles all week, trying to understand them, and looking at Excel spreadsheets until my vision fails.

I took a hard look at my life and realized that the only ‘fun’ I’ve allowed myself is watching half of Food Network’s Chopped re-runs in between post-workout eating and showering. Everything else? Work. Stress. Deadlines.

So this week, I’m turning that question around on you. When was the last time you did something just for the hell of it? Have a heart to heart with yourself and reevaluate your schedule and your methods of self care. Our jobs, educations, and other responsibilities take priority, but our mental health should too.

X,

Katerina