12 Things I'm Leaving Behind at Midnight on New Year's

It was so wrong, but it felt so right.
One of those bags was just filled with bacon.
New year, new beginnings, and things are coming to an end. 2012 was a year full of some great up swings for me. There are a lot of improvements I want to make in 2013 and I think that a big part of that is that I need to make a commitment not just to embracing new things, but to letting go of old things. So in order to help me set better goals, I'm saying good-bye to the old.
  1. Unnecessary all-nighters. I am the queen of messed up sleep cycles and I'm done with that nonsense. It's making it hard for me to study, eat right, and enjoy day time. 
  2. Snacking on fries. Why did I ever think this was a good idea? I need to have healthy foods more readily available.
  3. Eating out so much. I should cook more! I hate dining hall food for the most part and I tend to eat on a weird schedule anyway, so I tend to grab fast food or overpay for a decent meal. 
  4. Disorganization. I need to be better at organizing and keeping everything in order. From my room to my notes to my thoughts. 
  5. Bad notes. What is the point of taking notes if they are not awesome? I think this is also the root cause of my grades not being as good as I'd like.
  6. Unemployment. I mean, I had a job over the summer, but I think it's time to get a job. I'm thinking about working at a movie theater or at the outlets.
  7. Putting off opening that new bank account. I want to open a new checking account for the things I'm saving up for, including a Disney Vacation and a nice camera! Having a separate account will help keep me from dipping into the money.
  8. Compulsive facebook checking. Really, not that much goes on-- why am I expecting it to?
  9. Not wearing sunscreen. I need to start a legitimate morning and night beauty routine. I don't want to end up like my mother-- and by that I mean that she developed an allergy to the sun due to overexposure. My mom is lovely :)
  10. Gaining weight. I need to stop! My body doesn't feel like my body anymore. I used to hover in a pretty stable range, but my weight has gotten out of control (because my eating has gone out of control and my exercise has disappeared). Its so bizarre suddenly realizing things that used to be easy are now difficult-- and I didn't imagine that this would happen until I was at least middle aged! I need to be done with that lifestyle!
  11. Soda. I'm cutting out soda except for Boylan's, a vintage style soda that I don't get very often because it's pricey, and Sunkist, which I'll only have if I need to pull an all-nighter. It's actually cheaper and more effective than coffee for me. I guess the smaller dose of caffeine goes a long way with me, and there's no warm milk to counteract the caffeine. (I'm one of those wimps who has to drink "coffee drinks" because I can't handle regular coffee). Having a lot of caffeine is not good for me anyway due to my anxiety issues.
  12. Failing to write! I need to write more! More poetry, more articles, more blog posts, more everything. I also need to read more. I'm excited to announce, however, that I'll be taking a class on Oscar Wilde, so that should provide some excellent material for me to reflect on. 
Share 0

Photo Recap: A Cruise to the Bahamas

I spent the last week on a cruise to the Bahamas. It was my mother's idea. My sister and I had never been out of the country before, and with my sister heading off to college in the fall, my parents figured it would be our last chance at a family vacation. My mother got a deal and we went on a cruise with Carnival to the Bahamas.

We went on the Carnival Pride, which is one of the few cruise ships that leaves from Baltimore, Maryland, which is not terribly far from our home in Northern Virginia. It's a smaller ship, since Baltimore can't handle very large ships. It accommodates about 2500 passengers and 900 staff members.

The ship was about 9 full decks tall. There were elevators within it (thank goodness). The ship had this weird art nouveau / renaissance theme which I thought was a little gaudy, but I'm sure someone liked it.

There were shows and karaoke nights and games. There was also a casino, and trivia games. I think these things are more fun if you're older or if you go with a bunch of friends. I hung out with my sister who was sick most of the trip.

Our first port was in Cape Canaveral, Florida. I went on a trip alone to Orlando from there to go to Downtown Disney. I'm a big Disney fan, but no one else in my family really gets it. I am and always will be the black sheep, in more ways than one. It was my first time at Downtown Disney, but I had a great time.

I did so much shopping! I had a ton of fun shopping, even though I got absolutely poured on.

I am Agent P
I got to one end of the strip, and decided to eat lunch while the rain came down, so I could wait it out, and stop feeling so dizzy. I wanted pasta so I headed to the Italian restaurant in the middle of Downtown Disney, Portobello.

I got the Penne Bolognese. It was fantastic. Of course, by the time I got there, I had nearly drowned in the half-hour downpour. Only when I got into the restaurant did it stop. Of course. I had a really sweet waiter. I gave him a fat tip, because goodness, he was just so concerned for me and how absolutely soaked I was.

The second port we went to was Nassau, in the Bahamas. I loved the colors of the buildings there. So bright and happy.

Share 1

2012 Firsts

2012 has been a year of firsts for me. I think that that's a good thing-- If you run out of firsts, it means you ran out of new experiences and didn't take chances. Every year should have its fair share of firsts.

First internship/job at Gannett. I learned so much about the industry as well as about being a professional. It was a really wonderful job full of fantastic people who taught me so much. Plus the cafeteria was extremely awesome. It was a phenomenal experience.

First manicure. My roommate Emily is responsible for that. I visited her up in Jersey for her Birthday and we all went and got our nails done. Apparently not having a professional manicure before at age 19 is weird. Oh well. I've never been one for normal.

First time in New York alone. I went by myself up to New York City for the first ever National HerCampus InterCollegiette Conference. It was amazing. I made so many friends through HerCampus and I won a laptop and got to speak in front of all these amazing girls. I visited Times Squares and bought my first Newsies shirt. I met the HerCampus Team-- it was all so wonderful.

First finished year of college. I came out of it okay I think.

First blog sponsorship. First blog domain name-- and then a second domain name. HarperHoney is here to stay though.

First college party. It was weird. I have a hard time figuring out if it would have been better or worse if I had had some alcohol. (I don't drink.) I think maybe I'm just not one of those people who likes parties like that.

First time buying my very own real purse. You know, there are bags and purses, and then there are the real, "big girl" purses. Some women are all about shoes-- I'm all about purses. I bought a red crossbody by Kate Spade (my favorite designer) and it was the first time I ever bought something like that for myself.

First time planning an event. A huge event. The conference I planned last year was a huge stressful project, but ultimately it was awesome. I also met some awesome people there and I'm looking forward to the next conference.

Coming up, first time out of the country! I'm going on a cruise. I hope I have a good time and that my dad doesn't get seasick. I'll update you after I get back!

Did you have any awesome firsts this past year? Share below or put a link!
Share 0

Demand a Plan to End Gun Violence

Growing up in the DC-Area, there was a lot to live through, even in my affluent, sheltered suburb. When I was growing up, I remember having to change the way we loaded onto the school buses after the bell at my elementary school rang because we were afraid one of us would get shot by the DC Sniper. No one was safe.

I don't think that you have to be against guns to be against gun violence. I think everyone should be against gun violence.

This holiday season, there are families going to unexpectedly spend that time without one of their children or siblings. There are presents wrapped that won't be opened.

I'm done with guns in the wrong hands and I'm done with them getting there legally.

Demand a Plan. Demand action.
Share 0

10 Ways To Motivate Yourself During Finals

Finals are hard to get through. There's no way around it. Papers, exams, presentations, and more work all at once and for 20% of your grade-- not fun. It's during these trying times that we are found binging on caffeine, not sleeping, not showering, and camping for 4 days in a row in the library. It is in your best interest to stay motivated, but also to keep you sanity. Here's how you do both.
  1. Take Study Breaks. Working on one thing for more than a few hours straight can start to make your eyes cross. Keep fresh and focused by taking a break every once in a while. Snack, grab coffee with a buddy, whatever.
  2. Write papers with friends. Your paper should be your own, but if you and a friend both need to get a paper done, sit in the same room or at the same table to do it. Seeing your friend working will motivate you to do that same and chit-chat every now and again will keep you going. You can also wake each other up when one of you starts nodding off.
  3. Write out a study plan. Having specific points to meet and accomplish and a to-do list for each day is key in getting things done. Spread out your work and you won't feel as rushed and you'll have the freedom to take some time to reward yourself. 
  4. Change your desktop to an image that reminds you to study! Open up an image of one of your personal heroes on an image editor-- doesn't matter if it's MLK, JK Rowling, Wonder Woman, Beyonce, Ironman, or The Fonz. Then add text as if they are telling you to keep working or put your to-do list for the day or even your exam schedule down. 
  5. Set check points. Set out goals and a time by which to meet them. This helps you turn one big task that seems endless into manageable bites. Setting a time limit keeps you on schedule.
  6. Get off social media. It's a time suck and we all know it. It's so easy to accidentally be on facebook for an hour when you only planned on 20 minutes. Set a timer, block it from your browser, or even have a friend change your password until you are done with finals. 
  7. Get some sleep. Let me tell you, I am the QUEEN of not sleeping like a normal human. I am often caught in a vicious cycle of not sleeping and oversleeping. From someone who has been there, let me tell you that there is a point at which it is more productive to sleep than to pull an all-nighter and study for an extra 6 hours. It does not matter how much you studied if you're too strung out to understand what the question are asking.
  8. Set work hours and a reward for afterwards. Say your work hours are from 10am to 5pm. This is when you need to get the bulk of your work done. Try to get everything on your daily study to-do list done during this time. When your missions are all accomplished, kick-back and watch a movie. Then any studying you do afterward is like a bonus, getting stuff done ahead of time and you'll feel like you're being super productive and going somewhere--which is a really motivating feeling!
  9. Eat well. It is so tempting to fill up on greasy comforting foods and high-calorie coffee drinks, but it really is important to not destroy your body during these trying times. Stock up on some healthy study snacks like pretzels and hummus, fruits, baby carrots, cucumbers, and fancy cheeses. (Maybe that last one is just me.) Also get some water and keep it on hand and remember that crunchy foods are great for keeping you awake.
  10. Find rewards that work for you. For me, I'm big on watching movies and TV (since I'm a little bit of a pop culture junkie) and writing. Celebrate finishing that paper. Maybe reward yourself for meeting your benchmarks by watching an episode of a webseries you're into since they're short episode and you'll be hungry for the next installment. 
Share 0

Finals Motivation: Webseries You'll Love!

One of the things I really believe in during finals week is setting goals, meeting them, and rewarding yourself for doing so. Not rewarding yourself for meeting your goals can lead you into a dark tunnel of endless work the ends in your nervous breakdown. It's important to celebrate your accomplishments-- finishing that paper, reviewing that chapter, etc. One of my favorite ways to do this is by topping each benchmark off with an episode of a web-series. Web-series are great because episodes are sort, typically between 2-12 minutes and they'll keep you hungry for more, motivating you to keep meeting your benchmarks. Here are some of my favorite web-series that you might want to use to motivate yourself.

Dorm Life on Hulu

Dorm Life is a web-series centering on one hall through their freshman year. 5-South is full of interesting well-drawn characters that I think really epitomize the college experience. It's told through an "Office"-style documentary approach where the chracters know they are being documented, but are still going about their daily lives. It's a complete series of two seasons and each episode is probably around 4 minutes on average. Really fantastic web-series and I watched it before going to college and I still find it to be a really good representation of college. It's funny and at times over the top, but in general it really does a good job of illustrating the trials and triumphs of your freshman year and even the characters we poke fun at and sometimes even look down on (the "whore" character, the "irresponsible drunk," the "asshole jerk," the "mama's boy virgin") are redeemable and maintain their humanity and point of view.  I recommend this series for people not in college yet either. It's really fantastic.

The LXD on Hulu

Created by director Jon M Chu (the last 3 Step Up movies), this series delves into the idea that the ability to dance is a super-power. Imagine that dancers use their energy, their chi (or in this series, "Ra") as a weapon and that dancing is a way to battle, cast spells, and even kill. That's what this series is all about. This story is told almost in a comic book style and features around 3 alliances competing to either maintain or overthrow the balance between good and evil. If you are a fan of dance, you will love this series. It is absolutely stunning, although at times I feel that the story isn't as comprehensive as I'd like. BONUS: The cast also functions as a dance collective and have made appearances on So You Think You Can Dance (twice!), the Oscars, and the new Microsoft Surface Commercial.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries

If you have not heard of this series, boy, are you behind the times. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is a weblog-style adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is, of course, told from the perspective of our intelligent unreliable narrator, Lizzie Bennet. For fans of P&P it's a ton of fun seeing how they adapted the story for modern times. It updates Mondays and Thursdays and is still going on.
Share 0

4 Economics Lessons You Must Learn In College (even if you don't take Econ)

Not everyone takes and Economics class in their college career-- however, everyone learns a lot about economics, whether they want to or not. These economic lessons are really life lessons, so the quicker you catch on, the better.

1 - Opportunity Cost
Opportunity Cost was taught to all of us at some point as what we forgo when we make a decision. If you could have had apples or oranges and you pick apples, oranges are the opportunity cost. At least, this is how it was explained to me in 3rd grade. What opportunity cost really is is the next best option to what you chose. That means that if you are looking at five different clubs, but only have time for one, whatever your choice may be, you're not giving up four clubs, you're only giving up one other club since it's not like by not choosing club A you'd be able to join clubs B, C, and D. Understanding this helps you put your choices into perspective, and in my experience, not freaking out about the decision is important in making the right choice.

2 - Timing Matters
Supply and demand shift over time so timing can be a big factor in what opportunities you get or miss. You'll notice this everywhere from your experiences trying to apply for internships to attempting to get a decent meal at a dining hall. This is a huge life lesson and college is one of the first times you'll feel like you're competing with many people for the same things all at once, whether it's the last parking space, the last spot in a class, to the last bratwurst. Being conscious of your timing is a big part of success.

3 - You can't have everything
If you didn't know this before you will understand it now. If you did understand it before, you may likely find yourself challenged by it in new ways. Less space, less money, and less time is the general trend. Resources are scarce, and even if you've got all the money in the world (which you don't) you don't have unlimited amounts of time or health etc. Remind yourself that you can't get everything you want-- even that class you've been pining for like a middle-schooler over a teen pop star.

4 - You can't do everything
In economics, there is a model known as the production possibility frontier which basically shows what a firm can produce working at maximum efficiency. Anything on the PPF line is a situation in which a firm is allocating its resources for the most output. You can't go outside that line-- the resources just don't exist. Don't over-extend yourself and be realistic-- writing essays, doing sports, joining clubs, and studying will eventually compete with your sanity. Don't let it get to that point.

This is no substitute for a real Economics class, but economics is real life and the better you understand how life works the better you understand how to make good choices on your life.
Share 0

I Finally Watched Dostana!

Dostana is a Bollywood movie that I've been meaning to watch forever. It's a romantic comedy and it's excellently over the top on the comedy element. I finally watched it a couple nights ago. Worth the 2 hours of my life (Indian movies are longer than American ones).

I'm pretty big into foreign music in general. I mean, that's not to say I like everything (because that's ridiculous) but I'm not turned off by not understanding the language or hearing less western or modern sounds in music. I like hearing undertones of folk music or more east asian progressions etc. Some people get turned off by it because they're not used to it or it just doesn't speak to them but that's not really me. I like a lot of diverse kinds of music. I tend to be a more song-by-song person than a genre person.
"Jaane Kyun"

Anyway, in high school I had a phase where I was really into Bollywood music. I grew up in a really diverse area and so I was exposed to a lot of different stuff and I just fell so hard for Bollywood music and its jazziness and danceability. I'm the kind of person who plays a series of songs they're crazy about for like one month straight so I was on a Bollywood kick for a while and Dostana was added to my list of movies to see because I loved the music. My friends said it was a lot of fun too.

The plot revolves around Sam and Kunal who are looking for an apartment in Miami when they find a posh place with two rooms available and in their budget-- the only problem is that the other tenant, Neha, doesn't feel comfortable renting the room to two men. Kunal and Sam decide that in order to grab spots in the apartment, they'll tell Neha that they are gay lovers. They become the best of friends and eventually the two fall in love with Neha, but they still have to keep up the charade of being boyfriends. Hilarity, confusion, and heart-warming ensues.

"My Desi Girl"

The thing I like about the movie is how it was such an interesting blend of a movie, a musical, and a music video. The opening and closing songs were basically music videos that tied in a bit thematically to the plot but were not really related to the reality of the movie. The rest of the songs either played in like a regular soundtrack like during a montage or were made into big song and dance numbers. So excellent.

"Shut Up and Bounce" is one of the more Music Video like numbers. It's the opening credit scene and serves basically to set up the setting in Miami and show Sam and Kunal enjoying a party and beach heavy lifestyle. The woman singing the song actually has nothing to do with the plot, and so this is really just a music video setting up the location of the movie.

One of the criticisms of Bollywood movies recently (as in in the past decade or so) has been that the music is less about the story and more about generating pop-y, club-mixable music that will keep the movie in the public consciousness longer. Which is probably fair, but I think most things in the mainstream music scene are guilty of this. Case in point: The Cast of Glee has had more #1s than The Beatles. I don't necessarily think that this makes the movies bad, just made not as soul-crushingly deep-- but even then, the movies aren't totally about the music. They're about the storyline and the music usually is more about the pizzazz and adding a little fantasy-- the music isn't as ensconced in the storytelling the way it is in a traditional musical.

Maybe my constant desire for a more musical life is why I am drawn to this mode of storytelling.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the movie. It was a little campy and over the top at points, but it was still very strong in my opinion. You can grab it on Amazon or on iTunes :)

Share 0