Portlandia Nostalgia

I’ve lived in Ohio for a more than a few months, but the longing that I feel for the state of Oregon is still as strong as ever. This couldn’t be more true after opening my old Portland Community College inbox and seeing a ton of emails; Pacific Northwest sustainability events, PCC campus talks, and Phi Theta Kappa activities. The best message was a sweet “just-reaching-out” email sent from my past mentor and Stress and Human Health course instructor.

After answering these emails at 11: 24 pm last night, I resigned myself to the fact that I might always miss Portland; like a family member you didn’t say goodbye to or an unresolved break-up.

I accepted that I needed to Mope a little. My current situation is that I attend college for free in the same state I was born in, but my heart is in a different place altogether. A place with a sh*t ton of rain clouds, cold beaches, cedar trees, food carts, and voodoo donuts. A place I can eat plants, wear flannel, and go brunching to my heart’s content.

I moped, but with that moping comes knowing that I left for valid reasons. I left for discounted college tuition and greater family bonding, as most of my blood relatives reside here in Ohio. I also left to distance myself from that “bubbly” feeling one gets when one lives in one place for too long. I needed to (literally) expand my horizons.

I’m a sad little cloud, but my brain reminds me:

“If it’s meant to be Lauren, you will be back. Oregon will still be there. Portland will still be there. The donuts will still have jam in them and mini-pretzel rods sticking out of their hearts.”

The silver lining? On New Year’s Eve (tomorrow) I get on a plane to make a 6-day trip back to Portland.

In that case, I can stop being nostalgic for a little while.

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Honestly, I Don’t Give A…

I’ve spent a long time giving a damn about what others have thought.

I won’t say that I  currently never care about how I’m percieved in other’s eyes. That’s not realistic. But compared with my past, shy self, I’ve taken a few strides.

I’ll share a few tips that have actually helped me.

  • Give yourself credit. Basically, a self-pep talk. When you complete a tedious project at work, smooth over a bumpy social situation, or ace an exam…don’t sell yourself short. Give yourself an A+. You know better than anyone else about how hard you worked, even if others tear you down by suggesting otherwise.

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  • Feel free to brag a little. Know that this isn’t an invitation to be “all that.” It is an invitation to sell yourself a little. Whether it’s at a job interview, on a scholarship application, or at a social gathering, it doesn’t hurt to share a few of your greatest exploits. It can be great for networking and also shows people that you’re a force to be reckoned with.

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  • Comfort is key. I’m no beauty guru. But I can still say with certainty that trading ‘trendy’ for ‘casual’ is a good idea (within reason). I know that when I wear my blanket-soft, blue hoodie, I give my best (non-capstone related) college presentations, make better small talk with strangers, and leave the house ready to face global warming.
  • Binge-watch Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Nothing helps better prepare you for telling the world to talk to your hand. It only takes a few episodes of learning from Chloe. From her hooker toothbrush habits, to the jam fetish website, to her constantly badass repartee, she’s the female Johnny Bravo who can properly teach the art of not giving a f—.
  • Do your research. Confidence goes along with knowledge. College? Auditions? Opening a business? Know what to expect so you have the upper hand in your sword fights. Ask questions.
  • Buy a witty t-shirt. Whether you’re telling people that you’re a mermaid who’s working Leg Day at the gym, or you’re sporting the phrase “Wingardium Mimosa”, let your smiling toasts and cats-with-shades shirts rock it on your frame. Unless you’re wearing “Doormat, Step Here”. Plus, it’s way easier to break the ice.

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  • Appear laid-back. This may not be in the cards for your job interview, but if you sling your arm back in a booth or chair, mind science says that you look a thousand times more confident. Essentially, try to look like any situation isn’t your first rodeo.

 

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  • Pump the iron. Exercise. (This is sort of the answer to most issues in life. I swear it’s on every list.) If you are working out and feeling the “runner’s high” you’ll be a bit more deaf to the pudge-pokers and general Debbie Downers.

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  • Make a list. On the days that you don’t feel accomplished, make a list of the things you’ve done. Whether it’s climbing a mountain, winning an award, finishing a huge project, or meeting your favorite celebrity, write it down and read it back to yourself. If you’re feeling precocious, type it up and save it for an emotionally rainy day.

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  • Connect with the squad. Kind of self-explanatory. Call, tweet, or text the squad. Better yet, go get pizza. Strut your stuff and get the support from the people whose opinions you truly care about.

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  • Distance yourself from the hate. It’s the other part to # 9. Block your ex from calling. Don’t cross the Internet troll bridge. Overall, keep yourself away from people who bring you down. This includes family members and supposed friends. If you’re surrounded by negative vibes, it can get to you.

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  • What Would ______ Do? We all have an idol. Insert their name here and ask. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Don’t regret it later. If I’ve learned anything, it’s go for the gold. (Olympic pun intended.) Life is to short not to do or say what you feel, whether it’s studying abroad, going in for the kiss, or paying a simple compliment. While there might be consequences (it happens), you won’t be up at night wondering what might have been.

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This isn’t an all-inclusive list. If I’ve missed something important, let me know. Also, comment below on what makes your confident self tick. It could make it into a part 2…

Dear Little Things

I still have boxes under the bunk bed. And before you ask, yes…I prefer the bottom to the top bunk. I can reach under the bed and pull something random from one of those boxes. It’s because I haven’t bought a bookshelf. But I do need one. Currently all the notebooks, paperbacks, and hardbacks are scattered in the darkness, slightly waterstained from the unsealed window and the vicious thunderstorms here. At least whatever hides under there is well entertained with the damp pages and hasn’t decided to grab my ankle as a I make that crucial leap into bed after getting up in the night.

Only recently did I actually start pulling out and reading my old notebooks.

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These include the clunky multi-ringed  A.M. kindergarten drawing books that taught me my letters. Because, I did keep several. I would write about the weather, my favorite color, my Santa lists, and my pets.

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The peanut butter love has existed my whole life.

Next were the journals that I took out of my desk in the morning when my teachers told me to pick a prompt and write a few paragraphs (with each paragraph containing at least 5-6 sentences). Okay.

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Still there are more that catalog late elementary school when my mom finally let me wear lipgloss and when my crush was on Troy Bolton. It was important then for me then to include what I ate, where my family took stay-vacations to, and my friends with all our newfound drama.

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I was more hesitant to open the ones that I started later. But I did open them. I read them cover to cover.

I love(d) writing and the idea of remembering everything. But unfortunately not all the written ghosts are friendly. What started as the musings of a twelve-year-old with her birthday haul and MP3 player song list, turned into a girl recording her stories about the bullies who would trip her on the stone steps, her unrequited love on crushes she thought were out of her league, and the cataloged fears of an individual whose family photo was divvied up.

There are a number of painful memories in those notebooks, but I still want to remember them. It’s weird. Part of me is glad that I have the luxury to call up those memories.  I’ll not only need them when I’m old and senile, but also now, as I look back and figure out my life so far.

No. I don’t plan on my children and grandchildren reading these diary passages aloud to me as I age and forget. I didn’t start these journals for that purpose. I might’ve checked my grammar or added a few embellishments if that had been the goal. No. My written ghosts are my ghosts until the time that I can no longer read them to remember them anew. By that point, I will have reached a time where they no longer serve a purpose because I am no longer in need of glancing back and am content.

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Until then…

I have started keeping a short journal again to remind myself of the little things that never make their way into blog posts and other forms of social media. Like online banking challenge questions, they’ll only make sense to me. And with any luck, they’ll still make me chuckle and shed a few tears when I’m a century old.

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