how to be okay

Wouldn’t it be great if a binder showed up at your doorstep the day you turned 18, telling you how to be an adult? It’s hard to even talk about the challenges of adulthood (in a blog, no less) without sounding like a colossal, first world jerk (and seriously, if people start tagging my blog posts at whitewhine.com, I get it). But… it’s hard. Being an adult is hard. Grieving is hard. Breakups are hard (especially today, as Steve and I finally had a We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together moment yesterday)(Yes, I did just quote Taylor Swift in what was meant to be a poignant line)(And it’s sadder still that the thing that finally made that fact of the final conversation feel real is that both of us just changed our facebook profile pictures to effectively erase the other person from their life and public reputation).

Oooh, I just typed a paragraph airing dirty laundry and then decided it wouldn’t make me look better, and since my ego is a bit fragile at the moment, I’ll continue to pretend to be mature, because I want you, dear readers, to like me.

Animals are very good for comfort during trying times. I go visit these cats, who I cleverly call Cat Friends, and then come and greet me and roll around on my purse so it smells like them and demand that I pet them both at the same time. Sometimes the one on the right chews on my toes.

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Exciting in mastery of simple tasks can also be therapeutic. Whether it’s a gross task…

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.. or a cooking task.

I ask you, have you ever seen a more perfect omelet?

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Avocado. Always.

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My roommate has always been awesome (we are the greatest of Craigslist success stories), but she has really been extra amazing during the relationship strife (and she’s had some stress of her own, so hopefully I’ve been able to reciprocate a bit on the support front).

We went on a sushi date together, which was fun.

Free miso soup!

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And since the rolls were oddly expensive and the bento boxes were oddly cheap, I did cost-benefit analysis and ate this over the course of a couple meals.

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Nothing revelatory but quite tasty: salad with ginger dressing, a spicy tuna roll, lovely sticky white rice, a variety of nigiri, and teriyaki salmon.

Had the leftover rice, for example, in this cute little plate. Avocado (just always avocado. It’s either on my plate or I wish it was) and veggie chili (soy chorizo, onions, tomatoes, red lentils, spices, crock-potted).

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Making little beautifying touches around the house can also be good to cultivate comfort. I got a really beautiful lamp (you can’t really see in this picture, but the shade has a papyrus-y effect) and it was like $5 at the PTA thrift shop.

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My aunt got me this wonderful Charley Harper calendar for my birthday. There are already wonderful whimsical pictures, and then there are stickers based on the pictures that you can use to decorate special dates. For example, January 29th had an owl to conjure up wisdom for my roommate Alli’s first test (she’s taking grad school prerequisites!) The stickers seem to have good juju, since I put up a flying birdie one on the day Alli had a flight and was worried she’d be delayed at the airport due to snow, and the flight went through without a hitch.

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We all know the importance of time with female friends during times of difficulty. I invited over my true blue friends I’ve made in the past year and a half in NC, and my new friends from my program (who I really value, especially when we get to spend meaningful time together outside of class and we’re reminded that along with valuing one another since we suffer together through biochem, we also value one another because our program is full of smart, interesting, compassionate, fun people). And… we had a CLOTHING SWAP!

Hurray hurray hurray clothing swaps! (Pictured is a tiny proportion of the clothes! I also had an area called “randomness”, that had an old printer, an ice scraper, phone cases, shampoo, and more)

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This was my first time hosting a clothing swap in awhile (though I’ve attended some, and learned a lot from the hostesses!) The key is definitely setting up an organizational system in advance. We had like 13 participants, all of whom brought an impressive quantity of clothing- the pictures above were taken early in the day and were only the contributions of about three people (!!!) I put up signs in general categories (Dresses, Skirts, Tshirts, Fancy shirts, etc.) and had either pieces of furniture to hold clothing or big sheets/towels spread out on the floor (having an open floor plan is almost a disadvantage in this particular situation, because it’s hard to have clearly marked zones).

I know other folks have systems at their clothing swaps of who gets to go first, but I’ve always just done it as a free for all, and everyone was just so civilized that there were no big fights over clothing. Having the bedrooms to serve as fitting rooms was helpful, so not only could everyone try outfits on, they could then come out and model them to a room of friendly, encouraging women. I think each person got at least one thing that she really liked, which was awesome!

Of course, civility is always enhanced with delicious snacks, too! I kept it super simple.

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(Tangent: how beautiful is that fresh flower garland?! I swear to God, I was at the farmer’s market that morning, and this girl just draped it around my neck. She said according to the lunar calendar she used [I think she and my favorite vendor buddy are… Hare Krishnas, maybe?] it was the first day of spring. The garland is BEAUTIFUL and it’s now dried and still lovely]

Anyway, the food I got was Trader Joe’s. Tortilla chips and salsa verde, carrots and horseradish hummus (yum!) and ginger snaps. I knew people would bring food- the wine and dessert departments were particularly well represented. Bethany brought Samoas (!) which were eaten so quickly I got neither a picture nor a taste (though given how I behave myself around Samoas, that was probably for the best). Myra brought these ADORABLE little tarts- she had gotten little dark chocolate shells as a gift, and filled them with just homemade whipped cream and raspberries. So cute and special and simple!

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I had Soda Stream fizzy water, cider, and wine, and people brought several more bottles of reds and whites.

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I actually didn’t pick out any clothing until everyone had left, since I was trying to circulate and introduce everybody (and, since this was a week post breakup, get the concentrated wisdom of a dozen women on matters of the heart). In spite of this, I ended up with five new pairs of pants that fit me perfectly! All the more baffling because I can’t really think of a single guest who’d cause me to say, “Yeah, that’s my size”. The best part was that though everyone got something they liked, there were a lot of leftover clothes, and I had a plan for them! My classmate is going on a Spring Break mission trip to the Dominican Republic, and we had genuinely nice, well cared for clothes to donate to the kiddos in the orphanage she is visiting.

It’s funny, I was chatting about this with my best friend Lydia, with whom I’d host clothing swaps in high school, and she said, “Ha, remember how we’d always have old gross bras?” and it’s really true- there’s nothing that makes you feel like an adult like having a clothing swap and realizing everyone (myself included!) now has her life together enough to realize she can throw out the old bras before the clothing swap; no one wants them. Given the tone in which this blog post began, I want to believe that symbolizes something.

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