The Truth: Why I Really Drink Coffee

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How many Americans wake up every morning and head straight for the coffee maker? I would look up the statistic but that could potentially bore you (this is, after all, a blog about writing – and if it’s not writing-related do you really want me to throw a statistic at you?). I do know that I am part of whatever this statistic reveals. Okay, more than part of. I probably consume a large percentage of the coffee on this campus, in comparison. Ask anyone.

Believe it or not, there are a few legitimate reasons why I indulge in my caffeine habit (habit, yes. Addiction, questionable). I don’t just do it for laughs (it does get me excited and I do joke about it quite frequently, but that’s beside the point). I honestly think there are some pretty good reasons why I could potentially die without coffee. We’re talking in the long-term here; if I ever get stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere (because, you know, that happens SO often) I’m pretty sure a falling tree or a bear or a tsunami would kill me before a lack of coffee would.

Because, obviously all those things are also COMPLETE possibilities.

Anyway, back to why I need caffeine manually injected into my bloodstream.

For one thing, it wakes me up in the morning. Not an uncommon reason to drink coffee, frankly, until you add in this twist: I am a college student. No, revamp that. I am a college student majoring in English studying to become a dietitian writing a novel interning for a magazine posting random rants on my blog bad at chemistry a runner and a Grammar Nazi (even though comma usage in this passage is atrocious). THEREFORE, I do not sleep, like, ever. This morning I woke up at 3am FOR NO REASON. No coffee in the morning means I am a step below a zombie. I am a zombie that transformed back into a living human, died AGAIN and then got run over by a Starbucks delivery truck (because those exist, duh).

Point: give me coffee when I wake up or die. I will gladly drive the truck. (Trust me. You don’t want me to do that.)

Coffee motivates me to accomplish my goals. True, high doses of caffeine can cause a person to be jittery, anxious and restless (a little food science woven in there for you. You’re welcome). I can honestly say I’ve found the in-between – somewhere between death and extremelyhypermanianess (not a word, but I’m a writer, I can make one up every once in awhile). It gets me ‘worked up’ enough to cross a ton off my to-do list without sending me into inappropriately-timed laughing fits (usually). Got the mug full of coffee, got the Bucket List – I’m good to go.

It makes me a little silly, in a good way, of course. Hence this blog post (I just had coffee, which I really shouldn’t have done this late in the day, but OH WELL). I’m an overall happy person and generally I like to have fun, but I’m not always too confident in my ability to make other people laugh, so I don’t really try. I’m not trying now, but I’m okay with laughing at myself, and I’m sorry, but the truck thing made me giggle. Judge me, go ahead. Coffee also makes me not care about what you think. Mostly.

Last but not least . . .

It’s in my genes. You think I’m kidding. Right? No, there’s not literally a string of caffeine molecules all twisted up in my DNA. (I just took a biochemistry class – THERE’S NOT). Growing up I always hated coffee and told my mom I would never drink it like she did. Then something funny happened. I came to college, actually legitimately developed a small case of insomnia due to unfortunate external factors I won’t elaborate on at this moment, and all of a sudden it was either sleep through College Writing II or learn to like coffee.

She’s reading this (or not) and saying, “I told you so.” I bet you all the coffee in my apartment.

That’s a lot of coffee.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Top 10 #WriterProbs I Hate to Love

Because I have another week of Christmas Break (and am about ready to head back now, not because I don’t love my family or my cat or rarely if ever leaving the house but because I AM RUNNING OUT OF THINGS TO DO) I have been making a lot of lists. List of things I need to buy before I leave, lists of things I still need to do before classes start – I even made a list of all the things I need to make a list for. I’m serious. THAT’S HOW MUCH FREE TIME I HAVE.

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Lucky you – you get to embark on this fabulous list-making journey with me! I now present to you my latest Top 10 list – Top 10 #WriterProbs I Hate to Love. We all have them, and they’re different for everyone. Here are mine:

  1. Getting an idea as I’m falling asleep. I CAN’T HANDLE THIS. Before I got old and college tried to eat me (me in my entirety, not just my brain or my sanity) I could force myself to get back out of bed to at least jot something down in a notebook. Nope. Now I just let it invade my dreams and hope I remember it all in the morning.
  2. Not remembering an idea I had the night before by the time I wake up the next morning. Makes me want to punch my pillow, except not really, because I happen to respect the inanimate objects I own (and honestly, I only have two pillows and an elephant to sleep with, so ruining those relationships would mean sleeping alone. #SingleLadyProbs. But that’s another Top 10 list I haven’t made yet.)
  3. Having too many projects at once. Right now I’m managing two blogs (one of which is set for launch in February – don’t panic, I’m not keeping anything from you), cranking out at least an article a week for College Lifestyles, putting together other articles for other unspoken media outlets – and pretty soon I’ll be writing papers about Shakespeare. SO MANY WORDS.
  4. Typing too fast and having to backspace to the beginning of a sentence to fix it. Do you ever have this problem? Obviously I do. Silly fingers.
  5. Not being able to name a character after someone I know. I start basing that character off them, and in some cases that’s just not okay. Especially if it’s an evil character. None of my friends are evil. I hope.
  6. Involving too many characters in one of my stories. I sometimes have a hard time narrowing down which characters to keep and which to save for another project. The world does have a lot of people in it but even God has to get overwhelmed sometimes. You can only focus on so many people at once.
  7. Getting so lost in my story that I forget I’m not part of it. Unlike my characters I still have to eat, and sleep, and shower at least once a day, and let’s be real, all that coffee doesn’t just evaporate after I swallow it.
  8. Trying to turn nouns and adjectives into verbs when they actually aren’t. I’m not Shakespeare, okay? I can’t just make up all the words I want to when I can’t think of any other way to construct a particular sentence. I’m not that awesome.
  9. Being paranoid that my ideas aren’t actually original and I’m totally plagiarizing a random author’s masterpiece without even realizing it. ALL THE TIME.
  10. Going back, reading something I wrote six months ago and not believing I’m actually the one who wrote it. I’m sort of afraid of my own brain. But that’s another story.

Pun, obviously, intended.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Things On My Bucket List I’ll Accomplish In 2014

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As those familiar to this nonsense-filled blog are blatantly aware, I procrastinate. All the time. Or I did, anyway. What you may not know is this: my primary resolution at the start of this year was to kick my procrastination habit, and so far I’m going strong on that front. (There’s not much to procrastinate on at this point in Christmas Break Land, but you gotta start somewhere, right?)

Procrastinating has gotten me into pounds and pounds of trouble the past year (I won’t go into details, you’re welcome) which is the main reason for my declaration to quit. I even have a new planner and everything (my old one just wasn’t working out too well). But getting ahead/staying on track isn’t the only thing I’m doing this year. I’ll read a ton of books, for school and for pleasure, obviously. I’ve pulled a decent amount of goals from my Bucket List that I’m going to accomplish this year as well – and I’m excited to tackle the [manageable] challenges ahead.

In no particular order of importance or desire:

Graduate college. With two degrees or one, my certainty often waivers. However, it is 100 percent certain that I will walk across a stage and obtain some form of diploma at some point before the year ends. That’s kind of scary. And kind of awesome. I’ll have to change the name of this blog (again) but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I think.

Run a marathon. When I’m in school and not leaving all my homework till the last minute (which, a week and a day from now, I will be) I average about ten to fifteen miles per week. It’s a great de-stressor and it kind of makes me feel like I’m flying. Running a marathon has been an ambition of mine for awhile, and now that time management is a top priority for me, fitting in time to train won’t be a problem. Look out Chicago – here I come!

Launch my own health/nutrition blog. Time-consuming and daring, but not hard. I want to write about nutrition regardless of where the next six months lead, so starting this up definitely belongs on the list. I like writing about writing, and myself sometimes, don’t get me wrong. But I get bored, just like you might get bored reading my posts. (Or not. But you don’t have to tell me if you do.)

It’s not a lot, but that’s three major life events – and three more things to cross off the master list. I don’t want to push myself into thinking I can accomplish certain things I’m not certain of, like being able to attend FNCE (expensive) or publishing a novel (not likely). I’m not saying I won’t try. If I accomplish some of the smaller things without saying I have to, that’s even better. I can deal with that.

Besides, I highly doubt I’ll be painting the White House with pink stripes or speaking fluent French any time soon. I’m just being honest.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Another Year

It’s finally come: my final post of 2013.

As conceited as this probably sounds, I think I can do a much better job of summarizing the past year of my life than Facebook can. No, you really don’t care about everything that’s happened to me in the past 365 days, but for lack of anything else to do (like, literally) allow me to take you on a journey back in time, to show you what ‘s been going on in the life of Meg since January 2013.

Some stuff? Awesome. Other stuff: not so awesome. Let me explain.

Guatemala: awesome. I went there on a missions/research trip, in a nutshell, and it’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Do I want to go back? Eventually. Have I had enough of airports for the next few years? 100 percent yes. I don’t like flying, but I made that sacrifice to be able to travel to a new place for the betterment of others. There really was no benefit to me whatsoever, other than being able to remember the experience (and it was a great one!). I gave up my spring break and skyrocketed straight out of my comfort zone for five days. It was worth every second.

Opened a fortune cookie without a fortune inside: not awesome. I’m not sure if my feelings should still be hurt by this or not. At least give me a chance to dream big, right? I love Panda Express too much to have held it against them all this time, but still. I’d almost rather have a bad fortune than nothing to anticipate at all.

Joined the editorial team at College Lifestyles(TM): awesome. These ladies are my virtual family, and sometimes I don’t know where I would be without them. I’ve just celebrated my one year anniversary interning with them and I pray for many more months to come. Stay classy my darlings!

Messed up a few good relationships: not awesome. But the thing is, it happens: people come in, God does some work behind the scenes and then sometimes they go away and often don’t come back. The only thing we can do about it is cherish the good times we had with them – but more importantly, give ourselves some time to grieve too. I did plenty of that. I really hope 2014 requires little to no grieving.

Got an eye makeover: awesome. You wouldn’t even be able to tell if I didn’t say anything. Obviously.

Biochemistry: not awesome. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Wrote 100,000 words worth of novelage: awesome. Wrimos are pretty much where all this insanity started, and really I don’t know how I would have survived the past six years without them.

Lost a great literary mentor: not awesome. This happened very recently and I am still processing it all, but it definitely made the last few days of this past semester a major challenge to learn of his sudden passing three days before coming home. Plus side: it has given me new motivation to work on a lot of writing projects I’ve been neglecting. But obviously, again, grieving is not a fun time.

Didn’t quit: awesome. Believe me, there were plenty of times I thought about quitting dietetics this year. Still haven’t, and don’t plan on it. So overall that makes this year pretty great.

Even still, I really hope 2014, in comparison, is even better.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Frozen In Time: Finals Week Edition

I woke up this morning thinking about biochemistry. I suppose this is my life now, consumed by science at all hours of the night (it is night, still, technically, I suppose). At least, it’s my life until Friday at 3:00. Then I’m, as they say, free at last.

I’m wondering what would happen if I just flipped my test booklet over and wrote an essay about photosynthesis instead of filling in bubbles on a piece of paper. There’s nothing wrong with creativity, right? But sorry, he really doesn’t have quite that kind of an appreciation for “thinking outside the molecule,” if you know what I mean.

So currently, just in case you were wondering, it is exactly zero degrees outside, which means my chances of actually bundling up and shivering my way over to the rec center to run a few miles just plummeted in the same direction as the thermometer. Which is really a bummer because, I mean, I know I probably won’t run the rest of the [three days of the] semester because of finals. Dumb winter. Why can’t you just wait until Christmas to freeze time?

I suppose, if I can’t (or don’t want to make myself go) run, I could substitute that valuable time with biochem, or finishing this book and writing a paper on it for another final exam due Thursday. Or making my PowerPoint for this huge presentation I have tomorrow look pretty, or professional, or whatever term you want to use.

Sleeping in my own bed? Yeah, it’s going to be pretty fabulous.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Brain Fries

I think my brain is still completely fried from last week’s academic insanity. I have not been thinking clearly all day. I was walking back from the rec center this morning and just walked right past the bridge I have to go across to get to my apartment building. Okay, brain. Time to get it together here.

Not only do I need to study biochem, but I have another (one more!) presentation on Wednesday to get ready for. And a “final exam” in my lit class, which pretty much consists of writing a short paper and submitting it online. I just … haven’t done it yet. Which really isn’t an excuse, because I got back from my senior interview at like 3:30 and what have I accomplished? Work for my internship and eating dinner. And entering my references into DICAS. But we won’t talk about DICAS. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just let it go. Move on.

I would explain. But then I might have to (virtually) kill you.

Do you want to know what the first thing is that I’m going to do when I get home on Friday? Haul all my stuff up to my room and lay down in my bed. Seriously. There just won’t be any energy left after that.

But I write about this because, well, writing about being tired almost makes me less tired, somehow.

Yeah my brain is mashed potatoes. Or french fries.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

The Biological Dilemma

So you’d think by now (after, technically, nine previous semesters of college – that includes summers) I would have figured out this whole “finals week focus” concept. Yet for the past two days I have not been able to focus, especially on important things like studying my brains out (um, literally?) so I can pass biochemistry.

I don’t think it’s in my genes, this whole science thing. Ironically.

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Really, I just need to take all my technology (phone/laptop/iPad, all Apple products, which are just that much more distracting) and hide it from myself for the next six days. I’m sure nothing too awful could come of that. Who needs e-mail/Facebook/virtual human contact, anyway? This is the final countdown, the second to last time I’ll ever go through anything quite like this. (Unless of course you count this summer. Which, currently, I just don’t.)

Whose idea was it, anyway, to cram everything into one week and expect to get an accurate measure of our performance throughout the entire semester? One test does not define my understanding of four months’ worth of concepts. Take biochemistry, for example. On top of it being, well, biochemistry, I’m an awful test-taker. However, I am going to completely ace the stuffing out of this final, because I pretty much have nothing else to do this week other than study for it (relatively). And the way the course is set up grading-wise, it will almost be like half of the tests I’ve taken don’t even count.

Not that I’m complaining about that (trust me). I’m just saying.

This is one thing I love about English classes. Usually, finals in the upper-division courses are either talking or writing your way to an A. Literally. I can handle that. I can ramble on and on about reader-response theory for twenty pages, no problem. But expect me to apply everything I’ve studied to a 50-question multiple-choice test? Really science? REALLY?

I’ll write an essay about the citric acid cycle. Would that count?

I like biology, but time has been my enemy this semester (and I suppose all the rest of my life, too, but particularly this segment). As much as I struggle with procrastination (what am I doing right now?), it’s not procrastinating when you literally have something due Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and are somehow still expected to master six chapters of biochemistry and take a test on them on Friday, and just don’t have time to grasp every single concept of fatty acid metabolism. I do need some sleep, you know, or I’ll, like, die.

And I would really rather not do that just yet, thank you.

You’ll have to forgive me if I start incorporating excessive biochemical concepts into my posts this week. At least it might give you something interesting to Google, if you don’t have finals to study for or whatever.

Note to self: study enough biochemical concepts so they can be effectively and excessively incorporated into this week’s posts.

Unplugging my power strip. Right now. Maybe. Probably not.

Love&distractedhugs, Meg<3

The Sixth Year: How I Won NaNoWriMo (Again)

If you ask me how I managed to write 50,000 words in 30 days this year, don’t expect a concrete answer. As chronically organized as I tend to be (or perhaps, only as you might perceive me to be), there is no method to my madness when it comes to my writing. So is the title of this post deceiving? Probably. Do I care? Hm…not really.

You’ll have to excuse my out-of-character apathy. I did end up cramming a decent amount of words into my last day of NaNo (I finished on the 29th, because as you’ll learn in a second, I really couldn’t drag it out any longer), but for the first time at least in a few years, I found myself wanting to continue writing anyway. I actually stopped in the middle of a “chapter” (more like a scene, in my head) because I had been writing on-and-off all day and once I finished, I knew I needed to be done. My wrists started hurting, which hasn’t happened since the summer before my sophomore year, when I did that whole write-a-novel-in-two-weeks thing. If you’re a first-time visitor here, that just went completely over your head. I apologize. But I must move on.

Roar, I hate tangents. The point is, I stopped when I really didn’t want to. And of course, being in college and living the absolutely insane life I live (don’t ask), I had to put my novel away and shift all my focus back to school and my internship. I really didn’t get much done over Thanksgiving break, which was why I didn’t have time to write my typical “I won NaNo and I’m awesome” end-of-November post. (I really don’t think I’m all that awesome, don’t worry.) See, there’s this thing called The Week Before Finals Week. And for me, it is the busiest, most trying week of the entire semester. I have stayed up past midnight every night since Tuesday and overslept, straight through my alarm, twice. Yes, this is my life.

You must also understand that I usually wake up around 4am. Routine is essential in this 21-year-old brain.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done plenty of writing since I hit 50,000 and validated. One 8-page paper, the final installment of a 30-page paper (what?), a critical article summary …. I think the worst part about last weekend was sitting in the car on the way back home from my grandparents’, knowing when I went back to school the next day, I was likely not going to get a break until the next weekend. Even more frustrating, I started thinking about this other idea for a trilogy I’ve had floating around in my head since the summer before my junior year. I got really excited about it, too, before I remembered I can’t work on it. Not until this semester is over, anyway.

But going back to NaNo – how? How, in this full credit load of a semester, with the addition of my internship, grading chemistry homework and writing so many health-related articles I’ve sometimes felt like my head was going to explode, did I squeeze a good portion of a novel in? Really, I don’t know. I had to give myself a 2,000-word limit per day, so that I would not take up too much time writing, but also so that if there was a day or two when I absolutely had no time (and there were a few), it wouldn’t set me too far back. There were days I really struggled to keep going. There were days I really struggled to force myself to stop. But that’s typical NaNo psychology. You really just have to roll through it. Sometimes you’re going with the flow and sometimes you’re going completely against it.

Two months out of every year I dedicate  a good segment of my life each day to working on a novel. Because I’m in school about an average of 9-10 months out of the year (thank you, summer classes and a double major, for that twist), I can’t just write novels all the time. I could, but I would probably fail all my classes. That would not be okay. These two months are extremely important to me. So I guess, if you did ask after all, I would have to say it’s because to me, November means words, glorious words, and lots of them. And that’s what gets me through fall semester, every year.

Why do I write? I’ve told you a thousand times: it’s part of me. Without it, I would break into pieces.

After the week I’ve had, my wrists are, once again, not happy with me. So I must be kind to them, even if for no reason other than the fact that I like having hands, and if they, like, fell off or something, well that would just be quite unfortunate.

But seriously though. I really like my hands.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Your Characters Might Know More Than You Do

Even though I have about twenty thousand four hundred and sixty eight things left to do before I go to bed tonight (I just violated AP Style and I don’t care – BLOG FREEDOM), I must interrupt my seemingly endless stream of productivity to bring you this important announcement:

My characters are keeping secrets from me.

And yours might be, too.

It started yesterday, with the scene continuing and finishing up this morning. There I was, minding my own business as the narrator and all that, and all of a sudden, as Callie was sitting next to a headstone (it’s important, but don’t worry – SPOILER ALERT – Ashley does not die before the novel ends), she started having this flashback.

So then I was stuck writing about her life as a college student, as a comparative parallel to Ashley’s life before she ended up where she is now in the present, and who eventually appears, seven years in the past? ASHLEY DOES. That’s right. My own character neglected to inform me, until yesterday, that she and the other main character in my story had met before the events summarized in the past began.

Seriously? How is this supposed to make me feel?

I don’t know whether to be offended or impressed. I mean, if Callie can go an entire 23 days knowing something I don’t, that’s worthy of admiration right there. But, ahem, WHO’S THE WRITER HERE? I don’t think I appreciate having to add in an entirely new complicating factor to my story just because my character, the one who actually still communicates verbally in the present, kept her mouth shut.

But then, how can I hold it against her? She’s smart, after all, I guess smarter than I originally thought. I really need to keep an eye on them, especially when I go on a writing hiatus starting December 1 so I can, like, pass my classes and ace my biochemistry final and all that. They might start writing the story themselves while I’m gone.

Now wouldn’t that be interesting.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

The Hands That Type

I have been writing pretty much all day. Literally. Tragic, I know. Just awful.

Before you get too excited, no, I did not spend the day boosting my word count. I am at a solid 39,000 words, right on track to finish just in time (my plan all along, in case you weren’t quite sure). What I have been working on, though, involves a series of self-critiques, research papers and one very pesky English capstone paper, totaled at 11 pages without any direct quotes added in. I spent about five hours on it this afternoon – five hours writing primarily about myself.

It’s almost like, now, I’m getting tired of writing. But not really.

I really should just keep going. I should go ahead and write the three articles I have to put together tomorrow, and compile the paper for my senior group project due Monday, and whip up the three-page paper I have due Tuesday. Simple. No big deal. Just keep on typing away – and hey, while I’m at it, I might as well get another thousand words in before bed.

Except, you’re even crazier than I am if you think I’m going to attempt all that between now (9:24 my time) and my bedtime (honestly, probably within the next hour, if not 30 minutes). First of all, let me reiterate a point: I AM TIRED. I am a college student three days away from Thanksgiving break who has not gotten a full eight hours of sleep since October. I have had so many assignments due in the past seven days I can’t remember what all of them were. Second of all, my hands are starting to hurt. That’s the one downside about MacBook Pros. The condition of my wrists over the past three years has significantly declined. Not okay, Apple. Not okay.

I just keep thinking: Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, I can sleep as long as I want to. And I honestly don’t think I’ve been that happy about being able to sleep in since…well, fall break.

You know you’re tired when you start writing about sleeping. Your characters, who usually don’t sleep that much, suddenly end up liking to sleep a whole lot more.

I hope I’m not the only one who writes about sleep.

**feels self-conscious**

Love&hugs, Meg<3