Monday, August 21, 2017

staying afloat in college, pt. 1

I go back to school in a week.


actually, I'm very excited about this. more than excited. I've had a countdown running on my phone since like a week after the spring semester ended. I'm one of those weird people who actually likes being in school and having to sit in class. I like learning, and I love my major so much that I just want to take ALL the classes right now.


however, not everyone is like me. some struggle with school. others have things they'd much rather be doing. when I'd update my sister on my school countdown, she'd groan at my enthusiasm...then groan even louder when she realized that her college starts a week before mine. going to college can be extremely stressful. it's a crucial point of time for individuals, a lot is going on, and it's so easy to become overwhelmed. I know I did my first semester, back when I was eighteen. and that first week is so full of uncertainty and questions, especially if you're a freshman.


with that in mind, I decided to put together a little series of blogposts about how to survive college. granted, I'm not a very good specimen of how to handle stress (*chronic illness chuckles menacingly in the background*) but I've bounced between schools for two years now, and I think that gives me an interesting perspective. plus, I have some guest posters lined up, and they have good advice to share as well (and by some I mean one lol).

seeing how it's August, the back to school month, I thought that we could start off with some first week survival tips. and so, without further ado, here's how to stay afloat in college (or at least not crash and burn), part one.

1. check out your classes in advance

one of my biggest causes of anxiety for both of my first weeks of class was not knowing where I needed to be. it is such a good idea to walk the hallways, get a feel for the building you're going to be spending the next four months in, or at least find out where the buildings are on campus. getting lost and then being late for your first class is NOT fun, and it adds way more stress than you need. I also wouldn't worry too much about having your textbooks with you on the first day--I had such a bad backache because I carried around my giant Brit Lit anthology the first day and then didn't really need it because we just did introductions and syllabus. typically by the second class period you'll get a feel of whether you actually need that super expensive textbook in your backpack at all times or if it can just sit on a shelf and collect dust (rip my wallet).

2. get a planner

I am a planning person. I live for schedules. I spent $70 on my planner for this semester (and for next year as well), and it was worth every single dollar. during your first week of class, there isn't much of a schedule, but by the week after, you'll be wanting to write everything down so you don't lose your mind. go through your syllabi, write down all your assignment due dates and when you should probably start working on them, important things like tests or presentations--you can even make a note of your professors' office hours (some people swear by office hours, some don't...I am one of those that don't. *shrugs*) it doesn't have to be anything complicated or fancy, but I do find that having a planner that I like makes all the difference.

3. schedule schedule schedule

hey, remember how I said that I live for schedules? I really meant that. one of the my favourite parts about college is having a schedule--knowing where I need to be every single day. it's great. but I'm not talking about your class schedule. I'm talking about your life schedule. its extremely easy to let yourself get overwhelmed by all the things coming your way during this first week, so it's important to figure out your groove. when you have time to study, when you have time to eat, when you have time to work (if you're like me and work on campus, this is an important one), when you have time to nap (also very important). planning time to de-stress and do nothing related to school is crucial as well. and--potentially the lamest thing about me--having a sleep schedule is literally the most important aspect of my life. I need sleep. NEED IT. if you're one of those people who can literally sleep from three am to seven and be ready to go by eight, I commend you but I don't understand you.


 if you're like me and need at least seven or eight hours of sleep every night (and lots of time to wake up as well), having a sleep schedule planned out a few weeks before classes start is a good idea. I have a set in stone bed time--I get in bed by 10:30 and all electronics must be off by 10:45. I wake up at 6:00 (read here: the alarm goes off and I snarl loudly) and then get moving by 6:15. having a clear idea of when you want to start and finish your day is really helpful--however, don't think that this has to be set in stone 100% of the time. I let myself stay up til midnight most Friday nights...but only then. so if you need to take an all nighter, do it. if you need to sleep in an extra hour, go for it. but just have a general idea of what your day holds and what you need to prepare for it. it'll do miracles.

having a blog schedule is a great idea too! 

4. talk to your classmates (and professors)

I know, I know, it's scary, especially if you have anxiety or just are a shy person. but having a sense of community in a class can help you feel more comfortable in a new, strange environment, and it can also make the class more enjoyable. the class I fully intended to hate last semester became my favourite because I made friends with a few people, and because I got to know my professor. in fact, taking that class is the sole reason I'm taking a sociology minor--I loved the professor so much that I want to take more of her classes. something as simple as making small talk about how the homework assignment totally sucked  or how you feel stressed about an upcoming presentation can make a drastic difference.

5. remember to eat!!!

for those of you living on campus, this probably isn't as big of a deal--you go to the cafeteria, you go to your dorm, you go to the campus café, whatever. but my commuter peeps--food is so important. yes, it's a drain having to make a lunch every single day, but having something to eat makes a difference, especially if you have back to back classes or need to work right after getting out of class. having a lunchbag that you like is good too--last semester, I used a little cooler which was great, because it fit my dishes and kept them cold, but it was SO cumbersome and I felt really awkward carrying it around. this year, I got one of these puppies, and I'm really happy with it. if you don't have the time/ability to make or eat a sit-down lunch, having granola bars, trail mix, or fruit in your bag is a good idea too. you learn better when your stomach isn't growling and you don't feel like passing out (I say this as I am very hungry at work and do not have a snack. learn from my horrifying mistakes).

6. don't panic!

the first week is overwhelming, especially your first-first week. a lot of new things, a lot of scary things. I'm going into my fourth first week--my second at this school in particular--and I still get nervous. this time it's more excited nervousness tho, so it does get better. just take a deep breath, focus on the most important things that need to be done sooner rather than later, and you will survive. remember that you cannot control everything. classes will get cancelled. you will get sick and not feel like going to class. lab partners / group projects will be stressful and a massive nuisance.

you will survive.

I believe in you.

go forth, and get your education! I'll join you in a week!

have you already had your first week? what was it like? or are you dreading that first day of classes? also, tell me all about what classes you're taking, whether you're in college or not, because I love hearing about schedules (see--I told you I live for schedules)


~ ely

Friday, August 18, 2017

beautiful people : august 2017

hello, world!

I may question his choice of headwear but I love his smiling face <3

since my last beautiful people/those left behind update, I have finished the dastardly novel at long last!

*moment of fanfare and dancing*


honestly, since there's still so much rewriting I have to do on the first half (because I reformatted my plot halfway through hahahahaha why am I like this) I don't really feel like the first draft is done, but I am very happy that I finished before school starts back up. I also finished on the same exact day as I did two years ago, when I finished the second draft on the great ones and the general (if you want, check out my post from that day, because Matt and I have a little chat and it's still one of my favourite posts ever).

but enough about all that. it's beautiful people time.

so what is Beautiful People? I'm glad you asked.

Beautiful People is a blog meme hosted by the ever-awesome Cait @ Paper Fury and Skye @ further up and further in. Every month, they post ten questions to help you get to know your characters better. They can be elusive and enigmatic, but they hope every question that they post brings you closer to the answers about your wonderful beautiful people (your characters). 

since I did Lee and Matt last month, I thought I would do everyone's favourite (or at least, my favourite) side character, Colton Trelawney.


Colt is a babe. he's been around since the beginning, and in this draft, he's actually the character that pulled on my heart the most. I just want to give the dude a hug, you know? but since he's a figment of my imagination, I'll just talk about him at length instead.

source // source // source

what are they addicted to/can't live without?

Colt is a future journalism major, once he escaped the dusty halls of Fallon High School, and he always keeps a small notebook in his back pocket so he can jot down thoughts and article ideas, since he's a writer for the school newspaper. Matt once pointed out that he could basically do the exact same thing on his phone, but Colt rolled his eyes and said, "It's for the aesthetic, man."


if that doesn't tell you something about his personality, I don't know what will.

name three positive and three negative qualities about your character (or, because I'm lazy, three qualities that are a painful mixture of both positive and negative)

he loves too much
he sacrifices himself to protect those he loves
he has a bit of a temper (more negative than positive, but he's also really passionate so ???)


are they holding onto something that they should get rid of?

if we're talking about that half-eaten pizza riding around in the back seat of his truck, then definitely yes.

if we're talking about a deeply festering emotion hidden deep within himself, then also definitely yes.


if 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

probably an even three (wait. three is odd). before, it averaged at five or so because Jon used to come by and stress clean his room. things have deteriorated since then (oh my gosh why am I like this)


what frustrates them about the world they live in?

apathy. reluctance. adults. how expensive gas is. boys. girls. his best friend. jocks. mushy bananas. the government. his therapist.


how would they dress for a night out? how would they dress for a night in?

button up shirt, usually in navy plaid or something calm, and jeans for a night out. obnoxiously bright tshirts/hoodies and sweatpants for a night in.


how many shoes do they own, and what kind?

5 pairs of shoes. all converse, in rainbow shades and various states of falling apart.


do they have any pets? what pet do they wish they had?
Colt had a pet turtle when he was 8, but Mr. Shell has long since gone to turtle heaven (aka the backyard because he somehow escaped. who loses a turtle? how??)


is there something or someone that they resent? why and what happened?

he resents Matt, because his best friend is losing himself in the loss of his brother, and the way they grieve severely clashes.


what's usually in their fridge or pantry?

jello cups. crunchy peanut butter. day old sweet and sour chicken and fried rice. excessive amounts of tater tots (okay now I'm just describing my dream fridge).

also pasta is a huge thing for him. that is one thing our dream fridge does not share.

so yeah. that's Colt. I hope you love him half as much as I do, because this kid is definitely one the characters that I love with all my heart. not that I don't love my other characters, but Colt Trelawney has a special place in my heart, and a novel about Matthew North would not be complete without him. he makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me want to be a better person. and honestly, those are the best characters.

what's a character of yours that you just freaking LOVE so much that your heart could burst?

have a great weekend, y'all!

goodbye I love jung inseong his dorky laugh and you all <3

Friday, August 11, 2017

summer vibes : music edition

these voices were the soundtrack to my summer. hope you enjoy. also, you get a gluten free cookie if you get the reference (I was an emo thirteen year old once, don't judge me)

click here to be transported to a spotify playlist of all my favourite songs from this summer <3

+ all time low +

I never liked all time low. I mean, I listened to them when I was like seventeen and eighteen, but I never really got into them like I did with Fall Out Boy or twenty one pilots. it just didn't happen. until I saw the cover for their latest album and fell in love. I mean this quite literally. any other album cover and I wouldn't have listened to it. but thank goodness I did, because I found a whole bunch of new favourites.


+ bleachers +

the amount of bleachers I listened to this summer is absurd (read here: awesome). I'd heard about this band and listened to one song before this summer and kind of liked it, but someone I didn't like was an avid fan of this group so I just kind of steered clear of their music (yes, I can be that petty). but then I accidentally stumbled upon Like a River Runs via twitter, and here we are today. there's a concert pretty close to where I live in November and I kind of want to go, but I'm also terrified that a) I'll have a sensory overload episode which can trigger an anxiety attack b) won't be able to get seats that work with my health issues (I can't do standing room only...and being squashed by tons of people is a recipe for disaster), and c) it's in the middle of the week? who does that? at least it's on Wednesday night and I don't have to be at school until 12:30 the next day. BUT STILL.


+ marianas trench +

old love, summer classic, my fondness for marianas trench will never grow cold.


+ paramore +

After Laughter was my everything for the first half of my summer. I listened to it about once every day. so. so. good.


+ seventeen +

but seriously, is there any other band that suits summer better than seventeen? their music is so poppy and bright and cheerful...even their slow songs are perfect for summer. I liked to listen to a playlist of my faves while swimming or working out. JUST SO GOOD.


+ linkin park +

this...this one is hard. one day, when my Bluetooth device that lets me listen to the music on my phone in the car was flaking out, I turned on a random radio station on my drive into work. and Heavy, by Linkin Park came on. honestly, it nearly brought me to tears--both because it fit so well with what I was writing about in those left behind right then and because it echoed so many things that I've felt over the last five years. then I listened to the whole album, then more and more songs. I really love this group and what their lyrics mean...which is why it hurt even more when the frontsman of the group committed suicide just weeks before I finished those left behind, a novel dealing with the aftermath of suicide. it was hard, and I think the night I saw the news I just laid in bed listening to Battle Symphony over and over, trying to sort things out in my head. it still breaks my heart, and probably always will. but that doesn't mean that the music Chester Bennington created loses its value in anyway. in fact, potentially it means more.


+ gfriend +

okay but gfriends music is always so peppy and amazingly full of guitar riffs. I may not have loved their latest comeback, but Me Gustas Tu is always a classic.


+ dean +

dean has the perfect voice and you can fight me on this (plus he's really cute. just saying.) even if you don't like kpop, you should really check this dude out, because his songs just make me want to drive forever while grooving. he also sings whole songs in English, if you don't feel like dealing with a foreign language. seriously. check him out.


+ goo goo dolls +

for some odd reason, I always match John Rzeznik's voice with the sound of my childhood, even though there's no way I listened to this artist until I was 16 or even older. maybe it's because I liked Treasure Planet a little too much, maybe it's because his voice is just so smooth and nostalgic and beautiful...either way, I started listening to them again this month and I don't regret it one bit.


+ halsey +

do I even need to talk about this? I love halsey's music. I always have, always will.


+ sf9 +

these kids are adorable and very very stupid (pls watch their asmr video because OH MY GOSH) but their music is so good--such a perfect mixture of swagger and growling and beautiful melodies. also did I mention that they're stupid and adorable? (ps this is not the actual asmr video--it's a crack(ish) version that I included because the zoom ins are GOLDEN)

so yeah! that's the soundtrack of my summer (okay okay its from a Boys like Girls song don't judge man). if you listen to that whole playlist...well, godspeed.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

july reads : baby, you're so classic

last month, I went on a grand adventure. it was kind of weird.

I read classics.

and didn't have to write papers on any of them.

I have no idea why that felt so freaking weird, but it did. I'm not typically the kind of person who reads a lot of the classics--every now and then I'll get a craving, but typically I stick to newer stuff. but for July, I read SIX whole classics, some of which I loved, some of which...not so much.


+ the handmaid's tale +

oh my gosh. this was definitely a love. I was going to read this last year, but I never made it to the library when my hold came in and therefore never got around to reading it. but oh my gosh. this book.

it's so bleak and such an interesting world because it is our world but it also isn't. the premise is chilling and scary and yet you look at certain events in our society today and realize that there are eerie similarities between this year and that.

it's been a good month since I read this book, so my memory is a little foggy on details of what I really, really loved (I need to start writing reviews RIGHT after I finish the book, not a month later...) but I definitely remember that it was a good read. a haunting read, but a good read.


+ hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world +

okay, so I said weird earlier, right? well, it wasn't just the whole 'not writing papers' was mostly to do with this book.

I'm not sure how to feel about this one. I liked it--it was funny, it was interesting, it was clever--but it was hella WEIRD. like, none of the characters had names. they were identified only by their traits. not even in the protagonist had a name. I like characters to have names! it helps me connect with them and see them better. but no. it took me a while to get into the book because of that. it also bounced between two different stories and you don't really get an explanation of why until the end? it was totally cool when you get it explained, but right off the bat, it's baffling. I thought I was missing pages or something. but the humor in this was wonderful and surprising, and although it laaaaaaagged so much, I really wanted to keep reading. I think I liked the parts where they were climbing through the sewers the best.

however, I did have some issues with this book. first of all, this 30 something man kept thinking about having sex with a 17 year old girl. ew. and there was a whole section of him contemplating chubby women as sexual partners, and it was very awkward and I couldn't tell if he actually liked chubby women or if he didn't. overall he just came across as very condescending and creepy. secondly, if you like your books to be straight forward and not abstract at will not like this book. I am a very abstract-leaning person myself, and I had a difficult time wading through this book. I still liked it, but it took a while. and even now I feel like I don't understand everything. I probably never will.

this gif is the most accurate thing and unless you've read the book you won't get it

but there were unicorns (that is, dead unicorns) and puns and just really interesting aspects of this book that make it one of my favourites that I read this month.

also, I'm about ninety-percent sure there's a Deadman Wonderland connection here and I am determined to find it.


+ the jungle +

I didn't plan on reading this one. it just happened. I was reading my history book and it mentioned the jungle, which took me back to high school. I LOVED reading this book for high school American History, which is ironic, because literally everyone else in my family hates it with a passion. but I guess even at sixteen the power that this book held really made an impression on me, and reading it as an adult furthered that.

the jungle follows the story of Lithuanian immigrants coming to Chicago for a better life. they get cheated by their landlord, stuck in the worst working conditions, and are made to watch as one by one their family disintegrates, killed off by illness or accidents. it's a hard read, and it's extremely bleak, but my gosh does it pack a punch. this book was originally written in order to illuminate the issues within society during the Gilded Age (look mom, I actually pay attention in class). Upton Sinclair wanted to highlight the atrocities committed against immigrant men, women, and children and spur society toward fixing the issues. he did so by taking the upper class into the meat packing factories, by showing them what kind of horrors took place there. but instead of doing something to change the flaws in the system, the upper class focused on the fact that their food was being prepared in these dirty, awful places--they didn't care about the workers who lost their hands, skin, and lives while working in those factories. the jungle triggered the Food and Drug Act and the regulations we follow today regarding food processing, but it wasn't until decades later that the workers got any sort of justice. and I guess that just adds to the heartbreaking nature of this book.

I don't recommend the jungle if you're looking for something cheery. it's so far from that. but it's an excellent piece of literature, as well as a chilling social commentary.


+ the house of mirth +

also another read I gleamed from my history book, although I'd never read this one before. I call this 'Jane Austen but without the happy ending and the witty dialogue'. it follows the life of Lily, a girl who comes from the middle class but associates with upper class society and the pressures that places upon her. she has to find a rich husband to support her, but in order to meet people like that, she just keeps putting herself further and further into debt, until one day her mistakes catch up to her and slowly her reputation is shattered.

the house of mirth is yet another sombering read (are you seeing a theme here?) it's full of devastating statements about Lily's state of mind, her desperation and her hopelessness. the ending is horribly sad, because you don't really know if  she was consciously committing suicide or if it was an accidental OD (sorry, spoilers--but I told you it was sad!) overall it left me feeling gray and cloudy, and while it was a very interesting read, it honestly felt too much like a book I wrote a paper on last semester for me to enjoy it.

not my style

+ farewell to arms +

ah, ernest hemingway. my good old friend. not.


I wanted to like this book. I really did. and I did like parts of it. but mostly...nah. I don't know what it was about it--the whole pages of dialogue, the disconnect between the protagonist and the real world, the utter futility of it all...maybe if I'd read this book first, before all the other slightly/really depressing books I read this month, maybe I would've liked it better, but by the end of July, I was ready to read something happy. and this wasn't it.

but me no likey

so yeah. and that's pretty much all I have to say on that. *shrugs*

do you have any favourite classics? ones that aren't deeply sad and depressing? my personal favourites are probably Castle of Otranto, Northanger Abbey, and Frankenstein (purely so I can laugh at drama queen Victor)--and yes, those are books I had to read for school. sue me. I love me some gothic/romantic literature. I also really liked Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson (Alan Breck was my first fictional crush I think, and he made me want to be a Scotsman. *shrugs*)

and if you don't read classics--you should totally give it a try. it's a bit of a mixed bag, but there are some golden ones out there!