Artsy, College

Meta Thoughts on Hannah’s Couch

We’re sitting on Hannah’s couch in Nashua. Julie’s cold, and she’s wearing a max-fuzziness sweatshirt that Hannah bought from Marshall’s a few weeks ago. Hannah’s typing this right now, and the whole 3rd-person thing feels pretty weird, but we just wanted to let you guys know that this is going to be one of those ones written from both of us.

Co-writing when you’re sitting right next to each other and one person is reading over the other one’s shoulder the whole time is really hard, and we both usually end up staring at the computer screen until one of us says, “do you wanna just watch Girls?” So bear with us here, and know that we’d rather be watching Girls. This is Julie now by the way.

I don’t know if you noticed, but we didn’t post last Monday. (No one texted us. We really thought at least one person would text us.) We’re also conducting a test to see if you can figure out who is actually writing at any point in this post. The test will be cumulative, and worth 82% of your final grade. The other 12% is participation, so read up, fuckers. (This is still Julie.)

Basically, we’ve been feeling a little unloved. We think we peaked in popularity the week that we became famous, but lately our readership has been on the decline. We’ve noticed over the years that towards the end of any semester, readership just goes down. It’s no one’s fault. It’s definitely not our fault. It just happens naturally. Like cyclical unemployment in the United States due to strange and inexplicable economic forces. (Credit Hannah on that last line. She took an Econ final this morning. Still recovering.)

We also noticed something else. If we leave for a while, and then come back with some big announcement—like, hey guys, we’re BLOGGING again!—you guys absolutely eat it up. It’s like when Gandalf comes back from the dead as Gandalf the White in The Two Towers and he saves Pippin and Merry in the forest from the talking trees.

(A behind the scenes look at the making of this post:
Hannah: What’s a movie where a character like dies and comes back or something?

So yeah. We’re still on Hannah’s couch. We’d still rather be watching Girls. We will probably be watching Girls very soon (the one where Hannah wears a see-through, yellow mesh top on a Wednesday—we already decided). But we just wanted to let you guys know that last week, we were in fact testing to see if you’d notice when we didn’t show up, like a passive-aggressive bully on an elementary school playground. And you didn’t notice. So now we’re going to accidentally-on-purpose hit you in the face with a Foursquare ball. It’s gonna be the kind with the little ridges on it, and it will leave marks on your forehead.

This is Hannah typing now, but Jules and I thought of the Foursquare-ball-to-the-face punchline at the exact same time. Seriously. When I said it she looked at me like we were in What Women Want, and she was the Helen Hunt and to my Mel Gibson. (If you haven’t seen the hit 2000 rom-com What Women Want—well, don’t. It sucks. But Mel Gibson reads a lot of minds and waxes his own legs at one point.)

“We just wrote a page and a half of unnecessary bullshit to tell them that we’re not going to be blogging for a few weeks.” –Julie. She really wants me to get to the point that we won’t be blogging for the next few weeks.

To be honest, you guys have been getting tired of us, we’ve been getting tired of us, and we’re really looking forward to vegging hard on this vacation. Hannah and Julie are taking a winter holiday. We’ll be back in late January after we’ve eaten our weight in cookies and SOMETHING.*

*This is what we do when we can’t think of that one last witty thing. Extremely effective.

Who’s typing right now, by the way? And whose head is currently resting on the typer’s very bony shoulder? (The world may never know.) We’ll miss you guys. You’ll eventually miss us, too. We’re counting on it.

In the meantime, enjoy this random collection of photos that we just found on our phones. (The one of us who isn’t typing had to do something, right?)

For five minutes, Julie was really excited about taking pictures of Hannah with mundane things at the Sam Adams Brewery Tour. (Post coming eventually: “Touristy Pictures of Hannah in Totally Normal Places.”)

Iconic things that happened on December 10th: We became friends on Facebook, and Hannah quoted Fatboy Slim.

Happy holidays, friends. We’ll be back soon.

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Productivity, iPhone Games, and Craig

You guys, this Sunday I had the best day. My dad picked me up at 8 o’clock in the morning so my family could spend the day together. We stopped for breakfast on the way home, split some pancakes, and chatted about books and Louis CK. My grandmother was visiting for the weekend and she made fun of us for being on our phones. We played wiffleball in the backyard. We bought our Christmas tree. We named him Craig.

But every few hours, I’d find myself wringing my hands. All of a sudden I’d need to get up off the couch and pace for a minute. I’d usually end up standing in front of my backpack.

I was surrounded by my family and good food and Craig, but I couldn’t stop myself from squirming. And I know exactly why- I wasn’t being productive enough. I didn’t study for any finals, didn’t work on any grad school applications, didn’t work out. I got to spend the day laughing with my family- something I really don’t get to do enough – and I felt vaguely yucky and jittery all day.

(The Riley children will pose nicely for a picture for about 12 seconds)
Now some of this can be attributed to impending finals and grad school deadlines. I probably won’t feel entirely at ease for at least two more weeks, and I’m okay with that. What’s been bugging me lately is how hard it is to relax, how it always feels like I should be doing something more. I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way, but if you can relate at all, I’d like to tell you something:

You are more than the sum of your productivity.

It’s okay that you didn’t get as many things done as you’d have liked to today. It’s alright that you didn’t finish studying for your exam, or walked right by the gym, or didn’t happen to spend your afternoon rescuing stray puppies and solving the global energy crisis. We can’t all be super-productive everyday. I think that’s important to realize.

Now I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be productive. In fact, my mental well-being depends on it a lot of the time. There’s nothing better than a day full of learning new things, talking to people, challenging myself, and working up a good sweat before I sit down on the couch with my mug of tea at the end of the night. But I think it might be starting to get toxic.

This semester, our friend Meg started grad school at MIT. Today I got this snapchat from her.

It was the beginning of September, and we’d been chatting on the phone a lot. (It was the beginning of another semester apart and we were still adjusting to not doing homework on the couch together every night.) Meg was in the middle of MIT orientation, and underwhelmed with the whole process.

“They’re just not telling me anything I don’t know and I’m not with anyone who’ll be in my program so I think I’m gonna skip the next two days,” she told me one afternoon. “The only thing is, if I don’t go then I’ll have the next two days totally free. I’ll have nothing to do.”

I laughed. “Isn’t it funny,” I said, “how freaked out we all get by free time?”

It’s true. Hannah and I look at a day off like some people look at a colonoscopy. When you have no class, no work, no meetings, no homework to do, then what are you supposed to do with yourself all day? We’ve come to rely on being busy, to define ourselves by it. And it gets a lot more intense during the school year.

Every time I stop and talk to someone, we get into this back and forth of who can sound more busy and put-out and exhausted. But it’s not a competition. You don’t have to be the busiest. You don’t have to be busy at all, really. Not all the time.

It’s okay. Really, it is. Sometimes you go to the library and stare blankly at your email for a while before leaving for lunch because you’re hungry. Sometimes you go to the gym then get off the treadmill after twenty minutes because you feel like you’re gonna die. Some days you avoid the library and the gym and other humans like the plague. Sometimes you sit down to read a book and end up napping on the couch. (Actually, that might be the only version of that situation. How are you supposed to finish any books if you get kinda narcoleptic every time you try to read?)


The other night I got home from the library with all these plans of what I was going to do while I waited for Hann to get home to watch a movie. I was going to write, read my book, have some tea, maybe work on my personal statement. I ended up playing this dumb game on my phone where you essentially connect different colored dots. You win some you lose some, ya know?

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College, Hard Stuff

The Baby Deer Day

To be completely honest, I’ve been a bit of a mess lately, my friends. A few weeks ago I got anxious about a few things, then I got anxious about getting anxious, then before I knew it I was bawling in my car because Julie had 1) asked if I was okay and 2) put on Mumford & Sons. Deadly combo.

I could tell a long-winded story here, all about the essential items I forgot at school on Tuesday and the exits I missed when I drove back the next morning to get them and how late I was to everything I had planned for the rest of the day because of those forgotten items and the mixed exits. But the truth is I just typed out that whole story, and it’s actually pretty boring, so let’s just skip to the baby deer part.

My sister Sarah and I were standing in American Eagle on Wednesday night, surrounded by jeggings and flannels and adorable store personnel with radios in their back pockets. (What if those radios were actually direct lines to the CIA? Does American Eagle assign their employees into platoons? Why don’t they say Roger every time they send someone to open a dressing room for me? Things I’ve wondered while waiting in line to exchange dark-wash jeans.) We’d just stopped by the mall on our way to see the new Hunger Games movie at eight. I checked my email to make sure our movie tickets went through.

My movie ticket purchase had gone through. For the seven o’clock show.

It was already 7:02. Fuck.

As we left American Eagle, I scrambled to buy new tickets on my phone and wondered out loud if we’d even have time to get dinner. Take-out Panera? Or we could try the Food Court? Sarah finally stopped and turned to me.

“Listen. I’m driving, we’re going to get take-out Panera, and you’re not making any more decisions today. Okay?” She looked at me, eyebrows high. I nodded, she nodded, then she took my arm and we were on our way. “This might be the most Hannah you’ve ever been, you know that?” She laughed.

“I know, I’m fricken sorry, okay,” I laughed too. (I lost a lot of swim goggles as a child. And eyeglasses. And watches.) “Lead the way, captain. Jesus take the wheel.”

“I am kind of like Jesus, aren’t I?” Sarah took the wheel big time.

I sent this text to Jules while we were waiting for our take-out Panera.

Wednesday night, standing in Panera next to my sister who is four years younger and two inches taller than me, I felt like a scrawny ass baby deer. Whenever I tried to walk—or pack, or re-pack, or buy movie tickets—my legs got all shaky and folded up. Like that adorable scene in Bambi when Bambi tries to walk on ice, but maybe slightly less adorable.

I was going to stop here, more or less, but Julie reminded of something important as I was writing this post. I’m not even feeling like a baby deer anymore and that girl knows how to pick me up.

She wrote this on my draft: I guess the only thing was I was waiting for it to get deeper into the baby deer dynamic because I know it goes beyond feeling anxious. (Like sometimes you feel like you’re not that capable or grown up, when that’s not true.) And it’s that part that causes you anxiety.

Jules, sometimes it feels like you know me better than I do. Because there have been several moments in the last couple of weeks where I’ve felt really and truly shit-my-pants incapable. (I haven’t gone so far as to actually shit my pants, but that seems like the most accurate way to describe the feeling.) I have no natural talent for cooking or cleaning, I’m shit with directions, I have a tendency to forget where my shoes are right when I need them most. With the four horsemen of the graduation apocalypse waiting just around the corner, sometimes I really do get nervous. Am I going to make it out there?

Well, yes. I am. Feeling like a baby deer doesn’t actually make you a baby deer. (Although wouldn’t that make for kind of a hilarious time?) We all have our baby deer days. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you you’re done walking for the day and throw you over her shoulder. (Lookin’ at you, Sar.) But the important thing to remember is that we really aren’t baby deer, no matter how much we may feel like one on a Wednesday night at Panera Bread.

I’m back at school now, and as far as I know, I managed to pack everything I need. My baby deer day has passed, but I wanted to share my baby deer story just in case I have some fragile-feelin’ friends out there. I don’t know if you get anxious, or stressed, or angry or sad or discouraged. I’m not sure what it is that makes you feel like a baby deer on ice. But everybody’s got something. And finals are coming up—this is baby deer season. It’s okay, my friends. Take care of each other. And always remember to double-check your movie ticket order on Fandango.

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