Two Okies in California 

Look out San Francisco Bay, we have arrived! After 24 hours of driving, weird Airbnb hosts and non-stop Hispanic radio stations, we have finally settled in Oakland, California, our home for the next two months.

Hawk enjoying her first view of California

The drive itself had its ups and downs (and not just because we were driving through the mountains 😏). Long stints with no radio stations and a sleeping co-pilot often made it feel as if we were stuck in some never ending time loop. However, the scenery was nice, transitioning between mountains and deserts beautifully. Thankfully we have been through Arizona and New Mexico before, so we didn’t have to skip any big sights. When we finally reached California, we still had eight hours of driving ahead of us. Someone told us we would feel like we were in California forever, and they were definitely right.

All smiles on our way through Cali

Southern California is no joke. Everything is high: tensions, temperatures and gas prices.  I was so relived to finally start seeing orchards and grass again as we ventured North. Pulling into the driveway of our new home was both a blessing and a curse.  We had finally arrived, but we quickly discovered we have no idea how to park on the 90 degree hills littering Northern California. HILLS EVERYWHERE. But I’ll write about that later. Onto our accommodations!


Ney Farm is a gem.  Unassumingly seated on an average Oakland street, the house hosts a small farm out back, with chickens, flowers and fruit trees.  Five of the six bedrooms hold people like us: travelers, renting the space. The last room belongs to the house manager, Benjamin, a man who can stand on his head and loves French press coffee. The house is covered in windows, most of which are always open due to the lack of air conditioning (Northern Californians are weird). Hawk loves the windows, of course.

After we settled into our room, we ventured out for a bite to eat, choosing a restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom, a school themed restaurant that serves fancy mac and cheeses. It was delicious.

We’re now on day 4. Matt’s hard at work with computers and such. I’m attempting to keep our little space clean and our weird dog entertained.  My goal is to write about our adventures twice a week.

Final thought on the first few days: California gas prices are too damn high.

Spitting Image

I’m two, being paraded around to the out-of-town family. My face is hot as people I’ve never met tell me how excited they are to finally meet me. I cling to my father’s side, staring at the strange face in front of me.

“You are just the cutest thing. Oh, you look just like your father.”

*

I’m eight, rifling through a box of family photos with my grandmother. I stare amazed at the black, white and sepia images I discover, the names of people I’ve only heard about in old family fables scrawled on the backs. I pull a more recent-looking picture out of the box and see my baby face staring back at me. I pass it to my grandmother.

“Ah, I love this picture of your daddy. You looked just like him when you were that age. I think it’s those big brown eyes y’all have.”

*

I’m fourteen, sitting on the warm grass lawn of the amphitheater. I’ve given Dad the first birthday present I’ve been able to by him straight out of my own pocket: tickets to a Journey concert. We lean together and smile, looking towards the camera phone currently being pointed at us by a kind stranger.

“That’s a great one! Do people ever tell you guys that you look just alike?”

*

I’m seventeen, sitting in the front pew of the funeral home, where the family sits. Pictures of my father and I are positioned next to the flowers at the front, creating an arc of color around the black and red urn. I expect more tears, but I seem to be all out. As Kenny Rogers plays around us, the people in the other pews are encouraged to stand, stopping to offer their condolences to those in the family seats before filing out the door to our right. One of Dad’s friends from high school grabs my hands tightly. They are damp. She places her palms on both of my cheeks, bring her red face up to mine, new tears springing from her eyes.

“My god, you really are the spitting image.”

13 Things I Took for Granted Before I Moved Out

1. Consistent shower temperatures9a7e3660-b39f-0132-46ae-0e9062a7590a.gif

Fighting my shower has just become a part of life. From shivering to flinching away from the boiling heat, being able to just enjoy a shower has become a thing of a past.

2. Clean sheets just being there

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No more Mom reminding me to clean my sheets. Wait… When’s the last time I… Yeah, it’s probably time to clean my sheets.

3. Food magically appearing every week or so

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Things I’m currently out of: Bread, milk, eggs, edible food.

4. Having a washer and dryer inside the house

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Walk to laundry facilities, deposit laundry, return an hour later, switch, return an hour later, lug back to upstairs apartment, cry, repeat.

5. Laundry being free

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Need clean clothes for school tomorrow? That’ll be $3 please.

6. Not having to drive to literally everywhere

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Passenger seat, I miss you so much.

7. Going to the movies

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I could spend $10 on a ticket to the movies… Or I could do three loads of laundry and buy a pack of gum. Damn you, responsibility.

8. Having someone to take care of me when I’m sick

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Making your own soup and riving yourself to CVS to buy NyQuil reeeeeally sucks.

9. Cable TV

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With thing like Netflix, buying cable seems obsolete. But man I miss those Dr. Phil marathons.

10. Having enough people around to play a real board game

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There’s only so many games you can play with two people.

11. Backyards

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I mean, I could sit at the picnic table in the common area. But it’ll never be the same as my back patio at home.

12. Going out to eat

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Now every restaurant trip is filled with guilt and regret.

13. Vacuumed floors

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Sometimes I forget that vacuuming is a thing that adults do. Sorry, carpet.

A Trip to the Thrift Store

When I was young, maybe ten or eleven, my dad and I went to a thrift store in town. We went to these kinds of places a lot. I’d rifle through the old stuffed animals and boardgames missing half their pieces looking for my big find while my dad perused electronics and the men’s clothing sections, mostly looking for jackets. He’d lift me up to occasionally look at the glass knickknacks housed on the shelves placed on top of the clothing racks. Ceramic cats were one of my favorite things to find. Thrift stores always felt different than our trips to Toys ‘R’ Us or Walmart. Here, I could touch anything I wanted and I never had to worry about the thing I wanted being more than $20, the standard amount for an excursion. However, despite the fact that everything was more accessible, nothing at the thrift stores ever felt lesser than the things at Toys ‘R’ Us. Whatever I left with, I loved it as much. The things sometimes felt a little mystic because I knew that my new bear/doll/game had a life before it came to me.

After checking out one day, we walked out of the store and into the cold parking lot. It was dark, the chilling wind stung my face and the parking lot was basically empty as all the stores had already closed. As I walked close to my father, I noticed a man a few yards in front of us, leaning into the open-hooded car in front of him.

“Baby girl, go hop in the truck, I’ll be there in a second. Here, take the keys and start it.”

With that, my dad walked off, headed towards the stranger. I kept looking back at them as I waddled to the truck, cold and clutching my new whatever. I could feel myself getting anxious. I thought maybe Dad knew this guy, that was the only logical reason my nervous brain could  think of. Why else would he approach a total stranger in the dark with no one else around? The truck windshield began to fog as the heater came to life and my view of Dad and the strange man became muddied as the lights of the parking lot reflected across the glass.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was most likely about 8 minutes, my dad pulled open the drivers side door, rubbing his hands together in an attempt to ebb the chilling pain in his hands.

“Who was that guy?” I asked, relief flooding me as I realized tonight would not become an episode of Forensics Files.

“Not sure, I didn’t get his name,” Dad replied nonchalantly, flipping on the headlights and   pulling the gearshift.

“Well then why did you help him?” I asked, confused as to why he put not only himself, but me in danger.

“Because he needed help,” he said, eyes focused on the road home.

“But why did you have to do it? Someone else could’ve helped him,” I huffed, my young mind annoyed.

Dad looked over at me, his brow furrowed. “Because,” he began, his serious tone extremely evident in his voice, “When somebody needs help, you help them. Or they could be waiting on a ‘someone else’ who might never come.”

I could tell the conversation was over. I glanced behind me and saw the other man pulling out of the parking lot, driving away from us. I wondered what he bought at the thrift store before realizing his car wouldn’t start. I wondered how long he would’ve sat there if Dad hadn’t helped him. But then I stopped wondering. Because he was headed home, just like us.

 

Preparing for the Spring Semester

Last night I had a dream that I couldn’t find any of my classes for the new semester. Panicking, I frantically attempted to look up my schedule on my phone, but the normal links seemed to be gone. I could hear the bell for the start of the next period ring. Then the 5-minute-late bell. I tried to remember what room I was looking for. Eventually, I woke up, took in the surroundings of my bedroom and immediately wrote my new class schedule into my planner.

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There were, of course, some dream-like qualities to my environment, including the fact that I was in my old high school versus at my university, but the fear was still very real. With school starting back in a little over a week, I think this dream was my brain’s way of telling me it’s time to start getting my sh!t together for the upcoming semester. The holidays have happened and it’s time to put my big-girl pants on again.

Since MLK Day falls on the Monday we’re supposed to start, we’ll range this semester in on a Tuesday. My first class will be my Writing Creative Non-Fiction. As an English Literature major, I still have to take a few writing credits. I started last semester with Intro to Creative Writing and will further my writing journey by dipping into Non-Fiction. My professor has published a memoir before, so I think it’ll be an interesting class.

Also on Tuesday, Philosophy of Race. I’ve heard amazing things about this one and it is the one and only class that I will get to take with Boyfriend. As an engineer, he needs to take a humanities so we’ll be in this one together.

For Wednesday, I’ll have The Modern West, which is a history class and then, my most anticipated class, Murder Will Out, a literature class focused on detective fiction. Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, all in one class. Plus, the professor, while a little eccentric, is amazing. I had him last semester. He is difficult, frustrating and I learned so much I thought my brain was going to explode. I can’t wait to see what he has in store this semester.

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Finally, my computer class is all online. Which means I’ll probably forget about it a lot. I need to leave Post-Its everywhere to remind me that it exists….

With my planner full of class times, there’s only a few more things I need to get together and I’ll be ready to head into the second semester of my junior year. It’s pretty insane to think that in a little over a year, I’ll be a college graduate.

Good luck to those of you heading back/already back. Kick this semester’s ass!

17 Things I Hope to Do Better in 2017 (and You Should Too)

Yes, another 2017 post. I’m sure you’ve read a million of these by now, but I think there’s a reason for that. 2016 was a hard year for a lot of people, and not just because of the election or celebrity deaths. Because of that, plus the simple fact that it’s a new year, people are hoping to change things: their lives, their surroundings and even themselves. I’m among this group. I did a lot of things in 2016 that I’d like to do better in 2017. So here they are.

1. Read for fun

Because I’m majoring in Literature, I read A LOT. I read 14 novels last semester. And while I enjoyed many of them, I haven’t read for fun in far too long. While I know it might be difficult to juggle required with recreational when it come to my books, I really hope to make a little more time for the things I want to read by choice.

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2. Wash your face before you go to bed

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I know, I know. Makeup/dirt/whatever collects in your pores and makes you breakout blahblahblah. I’m gonna try to be better. I promise.

3. Do homework before the day before it’s due

Being a person who writes a TON of essays, procrastination is not my friend.

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4. Walk for 30 minutes every day

Wake up early. Walk. Kick that day’s ass. Done.

5. Vacuum once a week

Being a 20-something means that I don’t vacuum until I can physically see something wrong with my floor. It’s time to teach that dog hair who’s boss.

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6. Fold your laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer.

I have a tendency to leave clean clothes in the basket long enough to accumulate enough dirty clothes to go into that same basket. I need to give my hangers some love.

7. Get over $1000 into a savings account

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A goal I think most young adults should have. For emergencies, Christmas shopping, etc. A buffer in your savings account can do you wonders

8. Switch from coffee creamer to Half and Half

Though I’ll miss the sweet, calorie filled creamer that I’ve come to know and love, my waistline will thank me for this one

9. Wear socks that match

While I was a die-hard sock mismatcher for years, it feel pretty adult to walk around in socks that match. Even if they have Darth Vader on them…. Which mine definitely might…

10. Try a new recipe (or 2 or 17)

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Branching out in your cooking can be scary, semi-expensive and even difficult. However, it is worth it if you can come out on the other side with an amazing dish that gives you bragging rights for weeks on Facebook.

11. Craft something

I’m gonna shoot for a scarf. But cross stitch or a painting works. Even macaroni art counts!

12. Listen to a few new bands

You always hear about those people that ‘saw Led Zeppelin before they got big’. Be that person! See the whoever before they get big!

13. Hang out with people you’ve missed

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I technically started doing that last year, connecting with an old friend. I highly recommend it.

14. Call your family

This is a little deep, but believe me: You’ll regret it when they’re gone so do it while you can.

15. Get dressed up on a normal day

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2016 was a bad year on my body-confidence. So I’m going to force myself to remember how beautiful I am. And you are too. Remember that.

16. Do a crossword to completion

Don’t give up! You know words! (Maybe don’t use pen though..)

17. Allow happiness in

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As a person with depression, it is hard to accept happiness. As soon as it comes, I start looking for the part of the sky that could potentially fall. This year, I hope to embrace the happiness that I have.

Reading Resolutions for 2017

Happy 2017! I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never put energy into completing them and when I don’t, I always feel bad about it. But I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution about the books I would like to read. Being a Literature major, I do a lot of reading, but not really for fun anymore. So I’m hoping to read for fun more this year and I think listing my books out could help with that. So! Here we go!

Wool by Hugh Howey- I’ve already started this one and I’m totally hooked. I’m all about post-apocalyptic dystopias and this one hooks you within the first 5 pages.

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1984 by George Orwell– A classic that I’ve somehow never read. As a huge Animal Farm fan, I’m excited to enter another Orwellian world.

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams- A book I’ve started a million times and have never finished. But this is the year! 

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Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch– This is my boyfriend’s favorite book, so I feel like I have to read it.

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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut- Despite the fact that I read over half of this pretty short novel, I weirdly never finished it. I blame academia.

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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison– Saving this one for a time when I’m okay with getting EXTREMELY sad. If you ever want to get your heart ripped out, read something by Toni Morrison.

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After the Funeral by Agatha Christie– I’m taking a Murder Mystery literature class this semester so I’m super pumped to immerse myself in the world of detective fiction. Why not start with the queen?

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The Girls by Emma Cline- Because of my weird fascination with true crime and serial killers, a book about the Manson girls is everything I need in my life.

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher– As a lifelong Star Wars fan, my soul aches at the loss of Carrie Fisher. Getting to experience her light and warmth will be a true experience.

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I hope that by physically listing them out, I will be better at keeping up with my goal. I hope to finish all of these and add more to my list (which I will of course share with you all!). Here’s to 2017, fresh starts and new books!

 

Cheers!