How I Accidentally Ran a Half-Marathon

Yes, you read that correctly. I accidentally ran a half-marathon. (I ended up covering 13.18 miles in 2:19:35…but we’ll get to that.)

I’ve run a half-marathon every year since 2012, when I ran the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. I was just remarking the other day that I probably wouldn’t run a half this year, due to the hassle of scheduling a race around my classes. I did run the 2016 Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half-Marathon, but it was the day after a 12-hour shift at the hospital, and it was honestly a grueling experience I do not want to repeat.

(Don’t be fooled by my smile. It was tough, and slow.)

I’d pretty much resigned myself to breaking my (official) streak.

I was having one of those mornings where being in my head felt pretty awful. Luckily, running has been a pretty solid way for me to shake it off. I started my watch with no particular goal in mind. I would just run until I felt okay.

Now, you have to keep in mind, I haven’t been running regularly lately – maybe once a week. So it was pretty wild that I managed to run such a good “race.”

The first mile of a run almost always feels shaky to me. My body seems to be saying, “You’re doing this again? Why, please? You’re so close to the couch!”

At mile three, I still felt terrible. I hoped it was just taking time for me to get in the groove. Mile five was no better, so I kept going. I was two neighborhoods away from my own during mile eight, but still no closer to feeling better, so I kept going.

This flooding water fountain was a heavenly sight at mile 10.

I started feeling a bit better (and a bit exhausted!) around mile 12. But then I was so close to a half! So I turned around at the entrance to my neighborhood (which would have left me at 12.25 miles) to do a little loop. That twelfth mile slayed me. I just wanted to be done. Physically, I felt okay. Mentally, I was spent. I felt like…what was the point? Why did I just run a half for absolutely no reason?!

You can kind of see my lack of training in my splits. Yikes. (9:50, 9:44, 9:56, 9:50, 10:08, 10:18, 9:54, 10:13, 11:09, 11:23 (WATER!), 11:45 (wait…I still have to run?), 12:01 (okay, I’m ready to be done), 11:15.)

Well…I wanted to prove I could make it. I’m just making it through every day. Most days I am just satisfied I’m surviving. But sometimes, I’m pretty freakin’ happy with myself, and today is one of those days.

I may break my official streak, but I’m happy to say I’ve still run my 2017 race, even if it was unplanned.

 

Why Grieving Is The Hardest Work I’ll Ever Do

I’m unemployed, but don’t let that fool you: I’ve been doing the hardest work I’ll ever do.

On January 6th, my father died. I don’t want to talk about how it happened. But I do want to talk about the after, because it is not what I thought it would be. I consider myself an advocate for mental health and therapy in general. I thought the death would be sad, and awful, but I had seen it coming, and at 76, my father was older. I took a leave of absence from nursing school to come home and spend time with him. I tried to live without regrets. I read a lot about anticipatory grief. I signed up for online therapy. I had a great support system. I thought I could handle it.

Boy, I was so wrong. I’ve never been so wrong in my life! No amount of therapy beforehand prepared me for the incredible pain and loss I feel in my bones when I think about the fact that my dad is never going to speak to me again. My chest aches when it hits me that he won’t be present for my graduation and all the future life milestones that have yet to come.

I used to be someone who jumped out of bed. The snooze button was not a function I utilized. Nowadays, I linger under the covers, clinging to the belief that if I don’t get out of bed, my life will be as it was before. I am not the same person as before. I feel ten years older, and a little more lonely, because he was the person who “got me” without explanation. And I’m loving harder than ever before, because life is precious, damn it! My priorities are clearly defined. I’m spending a lot of time with the people I love (hi, Mom, one of the few people who will always read my blog!) and trying to find some good in every week. I will be forever grateful to the people who have offered me love and support during one of the worst times in my life.

I still force myself to go out; life doesn’t stop. I turned 24 the day after we buried my father. (Then I caught the flu, so the immediate aftermath of his death was also accompanied by fever-induced hallucinations of my dad…fun!) My mom and I went on a trip, one we normally do as a family. My mom’s birthday still came, a few months later. I did my taxes. I got a haircut. Although mundane, I lived. I kept going, even when I really, really did not want to, when the easiest thing would be to bury myself under my comforter and shut out the world.

I am a lady of action. I confront my problems head-on. I have thrown everything at my grief in an attempt to handle it, to fix it, to make it go away. As I’ve blogged about before, I like being in control, and death is obviously one of those things that you have absolutely no control over. But grief, I thought – surely I can control it? Surely I can have it not consume my life? So began the journey to control my grief.

I wrote in my journal. I ran. I did yoga. I signed myself up for grief counseling. I tried EMDR. I went to a support group for young adults who have lost a parent. I went to a church grief group. I let myself cry. I sat in the room where he died, and looked at photos, and just bawled. But you know what? I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t suppress it. Grief, like love, just is. I’m learning to be okay with just letting it be there.

I do control its presence online. I don’t show how badly I hurt publicly. I debated about whether or not I should even write this post. Social media shows none of this pain. By all accounts, I have “moved on” online. I smile in pictures. I go to parties. I laugh at cat videos. I am functioning. But just because I’m functioning, doesn’t mean I don’t hurt every damn day. At almost four months, the pain is no longer so raw, but it still stings. And I think it’s important to talk about that, not to hide behind only the good things in my life. The ramifications of glorification of life on social media are real, and can be tragic for those struggling with their own lives. Social media only shows part of the story.

I’m learning to live with grief. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Talking to people, slowly doing the day-to-day life things that need to be done, running errands (or “erranding,” as my dad called it): they’re all incredibly taxing. These tasks sap away at the “extrovert battery” that powers me. In the back of my mind, the grief is there, just lurking in the background, underneath the surface of emotions. I shove it back down, because otherwise, how would I function? But when it comes out, with no warning on occasion, I’m suddenly crying at a restaurant. Or sitting in the hallway of my house, next to his study, cursing up a storm. I feel every emotion so strongly, and the wave of emotions take over just long enough to wreak havoc. And then I lean back, exhausted, trying to breathe deeply and catch a little bit of normalcy before it comes again.

I’ve read over and over that grief comes in waves, and I find that to be true. Most days, now, I feel the waves of grief lapping at my body, soft, but always-present. And every so often, especially at night, a giant wave swells and knocks me down. Most days I just feel like I’m treading water. But I don’t feel like I’m drowning, anymore.

 

NOTE: If you or someone you know is thinking of hurting themselves, please call National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They also have an online crisis chat.

Blueberry and Banana Muffins (Gluten-Free!)

I woke up hella early this morning with the irresistible urge to bake. I knew I had a handful of ripe bananas, so I thought I’d improvise on some sort of banana bread. And so, a new breakfast stand-by was created….

Blueberry and Banana Muffins (Gluten-Free!)
Makes 12 standard muffins

Ingredients:
3 eggs
3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup blueberries (I used frozen ones, thawed slightly)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and mash bananas in a large mixing bowl (I used a fork) and add eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined.

3. Add the coconut oil and stir until dissolved.

4. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

Side note: It was 5:30 a.m. when I was making these muffins. I was frantically scanning my kitchen for baking soda. Thankfully, my dad came to the rescue with this GIANT bag of baking soda we use to maintain the pool…how many batches of muffins do you think I could make with this?? Haha.

bakingsoda13lbs

5. Add the blueberries and stir gently so you don’t break them in the batter. Once everything is combined, add cinnamon to your liking.

blueberrybananamix

6. Pour them into lined muffin tins until the liners are 3/4 full. Pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until well firmed. Slightly browned is preferable. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Nutritional Details (approximate):

serving size one muffin

Calories 85

Fat (monunsaturated) 1 g

Cholesterol 46 g

Sodium 73 g

Potassium 145 g

Carbohydrates 11 g (10 g net)

Fiber 1 g

Sugar 5 g

Protein 2 g

Vitamin A 2%

Vitamin C 6%

Calcium 1%

Iron 2%

Luke Parlatore Memorial Run 2015

On June 26th at 11 p.m., I thought to myself, “Eh, what the hell. I might as well run a race tomorrow.”

This is a pretty radical thought for someone who plans so much it’s practically a reflex. I am many things, but spontaneous is not one of them. I’m working on it, okay?

I’d run the Luke Parlatore race before, in 2010 and 2011 – it was a 5k, and then a 3-miler. The last time I ran it, I had just finished my senior year of high school.

But since the race was local and I was familiar with the course, I wasn’t (too) nervous about a run down memory lane.

I walked to the course, donated to the scholarship fund and snagged a shirt, and then jogged back home to find a ballpoint pen to scribble my name on my bib and find a way to pin the bib on my tee without stabbing myself (the way turned out to be asking my mom for help. Thanks for the important stuff, Mom.)

lukesrun2015

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I jogged back to the start and waited. And waited. I was getting nervous at that point! I haven’t raced in more than a year, since the Marco Island Half-Marathon, and I hadn’t even been steadily running. I told myself to mentally prepare for a slower time since I hadn’t been training, but I hoped I could run faster than 34:04, which is what I ran the very first time I ran this race – the very first time I ran a 5k, much less raced it! I thought I could do it as long as I was careful not to go out too quickly.

I had hastily put together a playlist at midnight, so I told myself to match the music as I ran. It was still really tempting to go out at 8:00/mile race – since the pool of runners was so small, the “back of the pack” where I normally lined up was still pretty darn close to the front. Close enough that I was itching to go faster.

But I didn’t, and the feet grew and grew between me and the race leaders. This race was incredibly tough mentally because as I ran a 10:50 to 11:20/mile pace, I ended up running alone for the majority of the race. I could see people ahead and behind me, but they were too far to interact with, cheer on, or match pace with. My average pace it was too slow for the speedsters and too fast for the walkers.

It still felt pretty damn good for me, especially with no training.

I paced myself for a 33:30, since I hadn’t trained for it (34-36 minutes for 3 miles is an easy run, so I wanted to push it just a little bit.)

Of course, I’m really competitive with myself, and the weather was cooperating (overcast, slightly windy and slightly drizzly) so I ran a 32:47. It’s a really small local race, so it was mentally tough (there were people 300 yards ahead and behind me for the majority of the race) but my curated playlist really helped.

Here’s what I listened to (in order, so the slow start and the pick-me-ups were timed):

Steal My Girl – One Direction

Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects

All The Small Things – Blink-182

She Looks So Perfect – 5 Seconds of Summer

Bailando – Enrique Iglesias

Live Like A Warrior – Matisyahu

Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

Shut Up And Dance – Walk The Moon

More Than A Feeling – Hit The Lights (from Punk Goes Classic Rock)

I ended the race sprinting, as I always do (okay, the exception might be the Marco Island Half-Marathon. It felt like I was crawling for that one…but more on that some other time.) My Garmin Forerunner 110 (still working! still awesome!) clocked me in at 32:47 and 3.05 miles. I don’t have the clock time yet, but I’ll add it later.

After scarfing down half a bagel and half of a banana, I found a friendly Golden Retriever to pet. Food + animals makes me a happy camper.

Running this race made me realize how much I’ve changed, mentally and physically, in the last four years. I’m a stronger person – three miles is an easy run now instead of a never-attempted distance – and I’ve run three half-marathons. I live healthier with food, fitness, and mental health (or at least, I try) the great majority of the time.

Before, I was afraid to test my limits with a challenge. Now I can’t seem to stop challenging myself – and I’m so excited for everything to come.

A Year In Review: 2014

2014 was a huge year for me. I can’t help but become a little more reflective about all that’s happened to me – and that I’ve made happen – in the last twelve months.

I turned 21, Indiana Jones-style. I spent my 21st birthday with my parents, true good sports that they are, zip lining, driving Jeeps through the wilderness, and swimming in underwater caves in Mexico at Xplor Park. It was exhilarating, terrifying and truly unparalleled. (For a promo video of the sites I visited, you can check out these awesome shots of zip lining, the jeeps, and cave swimming via this YouTube video.) I’m almost wondering if I should just stop celebrating my birthday now – how could I ever top that?

I ran a half-marathon in Florida (for the second time in the sunshine state.) It was pretty awesome (and downright exhausting) to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles of Floridian heat and humidity in Marco Island, Florida. I hope I’ll be able to run it again one day, but for now, I’ll treasure that race as one of the most difficult in terms of pacing and mental toughness (I ran without music, I made some friends, I took walk breaks and tried to be humble.) I celebrated by going to Publix immediately afterward (which is still quite a novelty and love affair for this New Yorker.)

I pushed myself above and beyond, academically, when I took summer classes. I have to say that the day my final grade rolled in for Human Anatomy & Physiology II was probably one of the happiest days of 2014. I worked so hard for that A – the six-week, two-course summer session of A&P I and II was grueling and I’m proud to have made it through.

I moved off-campus, and by myself (sort of) for the first time. I live in a house now, instead of a dorm room, and it’s pretty sweet having my own room and being close to friends and classes. It’s not quite adulthood, though — I’m far too lazy to haul up a box spring, so my mattress is still on the floor, and just because I’m on off the meal plan doesn’t mean I’m cooking gourmet dinners every night. In fact….

This was my first year eating completely gluten-free. Ever since I found out I had a wheat allergy (November 2013), I’ve nixed all the wheat in my life. (For an explanation of medical reasons why people go gluten-free, you can check out this post.) After a whole year, I thought my meals would become way more sophisticated than just peanut butter and carrots (what can I say? I’m a total hermit when studying for exams), but it turns out that’s not exactly true. I’ve written a lot about my prior skepticism and the ways it’s changed my life here, and I started two gluten-free directories (Gluten Free Staten Island, for my hometown, and Gluten Free Hudson Valley, for my college town.) I’m always looking for recommendations, so please let me know if you have any suggestions in these areas!

I hosted a friend in New Paltz, and my friends from Staten Island visited me. I was so excited in September when one of my old roommates from the ASME Summer Internship Program made the trek up to New Paltz to visit me. We trekked around Minnewaska State Park, including Sam’s Point and the lake, and it was fantastic to catch up. And later, in December, my friends from home made good on their promises to visit me at college, and I was able to show them around the village.

I traveled solo for the first time. I traveled to visit another of my old roommates from the ASME program, who now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. I had a total blast despite the pre-travel jitters and I know I’ll probably return soon. I’m working on a longer post about Atlanta that will go up soon.

I completed college. I hesitate to say “graduated,” because technically I don’t walk across the stage at SUNY New Paltz till May 2015, but I’m done done done! It’s a great feeling (and, to be honest, it hasn’t completely set in yet.) I’m still struggling with this weird transitioning phase in my life (but I’ve figured out how to handle awkward situations, and you can too with this post.)

All in all, it’s been a great year. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for me.

10 Things About Senior Year and the End of the Challenge

It’s Day 40. Wow. The time has really flown. I’ve pre-scheduled this post (I’m in Atlanta at the moment!) and will write a longer reflection on the Worry-Free Challenge when I return home. I wrote this post mid-September 2014, and I think it’s only fitting to post it now as the semester has drawn to a close.

10 Things I Want To Remember About Senior Year

1. The thrill of moving off-campus and living (almost) by myself for the first time. The excitement and nerves the first few days. How proud I was cooking my first few meals.

2. How much I’ve grown since freshman year. My first semester here was exciting, stressful, and full of pressure I put on myself. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I know in five years, I’ll look back and laugh at my silly self for thinking I know so much more. I want to remember senior year as slowing down, breathing in, taking time to assert myself and to stand up for the right things. I want to remember not being a pushover.

3. I want to remember working my ass off and falling asleep, exhausted, so grateful for my quiet room. I want to remember looking on at some of my best work of my college career in journalism. I want to remember pushing my limits and taking risks.

4. I want to remember all the times friends and family have pulled me out into their circle and said, through their hugs or sitting through hours of talking, “Hey, I love you. You are a valuable person and your accomplishments do not make up who you are.”

5. I want to remember all the chats over late-night tea with my dad. I want to remember the stories he’s told me hundreds of times about being an entrepreneur, of not being afraid to fail, that there’s no shame in working hard at something difficult, and failure does not mean you will never succeed. I want to remember drilling anatomy with him, of us laughing over stupid mnemonics, of me saying, “The future is terrifying,” and of him saying, “You’ve been at the top your whole life. I have no doubts that you will succeed at whatever you want to do.”

6. I want to remember all the times when I called my mom and vented, and she listened and gave me the truth. I want to be grateful for her help, for helping me live where I am today, for supporting me and letting me do my own thing. I want to thank her for inheriting that stubbornness, that classic Irish bulldog that is in me, however faint. I need that spirit now. I want to remember: “This too shall pass.”

7. I want to remember quashing my fear and taking risks. I want to remember throwing myself out there and pitching myself. I want to remember being proud of everything I’ve accomplished. I want to remember this belief in myself that has never felt so concrete before.

8. I want to remember this year as a healthy year. I want to look back and say, “Hey. You really took care of your body this year. You put your health first and your older self will thank you.” I want to remember making a conscious effort to breathe, meditate and be thankful every day, because the health of your mind is just as important as your body.

9. I want to remember time spent with those I love. Regardless of where we are in the future, whether we’re together or apart, I want to remember everything with laughter and grace. I want to remember staying up till four a.m. being goofy, hanging out and playing Kan Jam, looking at farm animals and staring in awe at the countryside. I want to remember the sunsets that are so beautiful I want to squeeze my eyes shut and make me remember the first time I walked home with my first group of college friends. That sunset made me feel like I belonged here. I want to remember when my friend visited and we drove through the mountains, talking about life and how fleeting and scary your 20s are. I want to remember making stir frys with my boyfriend in the wee hours of the morning, of waking up to the sound of pouring rain next to him, and being grateful for the bond we’ve shared, being so thankful that someone has seen into who I am and still loves me.

10. More than anything, I want to remember all the good times. I want to have stories to tell my kids someday about my amazing college experience. And it can’t be amazing unless I make it happen…so this year, I want to remember making it happen.

Day 40 Mantra: Make it happen.

Finals Week Playlist 2014

Day 39 Mantra: Blast some tunes and hang in there.

Keep your head up and push through finals week! (This is my last finals week ever of my undergraduate career. Craziness. That is an awesome feeling.) Here’s what I’ve been listening to (aka the songs that get stuck inside my head, for whatever reason.)

[polldaddy poll=8513710]

“Centuries” – Fall Out Boy

“Geronimo” – Sheppard

“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift

“Lips Are Movin” – Meghan Trainor

“Blank Space” – Taylor Swift

“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

“Immortals” – Fall Out Boy

“Fireball” – Pitbull ft. John Ryan

“Shut Up And Dance” – Walk the Moon

And if you can’t decide what you want to listen to…you could always listen to the 2014 United State of Pop Remix:

College Playlist: Year Three

This is a continuation of the College Playlist series of posts, covering my second year of college. You can find the first post about year one here, and the second on year two here.

Day 37: After reflecting on my junior year…”You can do hard things.”

Fifth Semester, Fall 2013

Junior year…well, this was probably my toughest year in college. I was knee-deep in biology and physics work, and even though I loved it, I totally needed a “going to battle” playlist before exams. Roar was a vital part of my pre-exam ritual.

Roar – Katy Perry

This semester involved way too much analyzing and over thinking. Here are some of the highlights of the songs that got me through it.

Brave – Sara Bareilles

Lucky Strike – Maroon 5

I remember listening to a lot of Maroon 5 in the shower. Specifically, this song. Blasting it.

Giants Sleeping – Koji

I saw Koji perform for the second time at a basement show in New Paltz in October 2013. Koji is an amazing singer and songwriter — he speaks from the heart and encourages his audiences to be kind and building community. His shows bring people together. I remember when he sang this, and the crowd joined in, singing the choruses together. I absolutely love this album. It gave me strength and courage to get through a really hard time.

Sixth Semester, Spring 2014:

Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars

I went to a friend’s house in the New Paltz countryside to watch the Superbowl. (I’m not a huge football fan, but when I was younger, I would frequently get sick the weekend of the Superbowl, so I’d watch it anyway.) Bruno Mars blew me away with this performance. This song makes me think of leather couches, snacks, the horse farm outside and the crisp winter air before we hustled inside to watch the game. The video below shows the full halftime show — Just the Way You Are starts around 10:08.

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

I saw Imagine Dragons live at the IZOD Center in March 2014! They were awesome. I remember being scared of the stadium seating (I was incredibly high up) and in awe of the gigantic drum they used. It was a great set — like a giant sing-a-long.

Third Summer, 2014:

This was the summer defined by taking human anatomy and physiology over the summer! Haha. I did make some time in between sessions for fun — I saw The Backstreet Boys and Avril Lavigne live at Jones Beach on Long Island. The two best songs in the show? 90s throwbacks, including these two.

Sk8r Boi – Avril Lavigne

Avril, my Canadian punk rock name-twin, sounded amazing live. Just incredible — way better than any recording or televised performance I’d seen her in. Her range was so broad and just super fun. She was energetic and the crowd went crazy to this hit. I know it reminded me of summer days at the beach.

Everybody – Backstreet Boys

I couldn’t find the medley version, but this was the base for their opening song at Jones Beach in 2014. Suits + BSB + major nostalgia = an amazing time.

Rude – Magic

The first time I heard this song, I was driving home with the windows down after grabbing a meal with friends. It reminds me of summer sunshine.

Overcomer – Mandisa

Okay, confession time: I know this song is way more uplifting for much more dramatic situations than mine! The woman is battling cancer, for crying out loud. My problems are nothing. Let’s just say A&P I & II was an exhausting time in my life and I could use any peppy and uplifting songs on repeat. Forever. (Whatever it is you may be going through, I know it’s not going to let it get the best of you.)

Classic – MKTO

This song was on repeat for me in August. LOVE it. LOVE LOVE LOVE. (Okay, I’ll stop shouting now.)

Year 3.5 is coming soon!

College Playlist: Year Two

This is a continuation of the College Playlist series of posts, covering my second year of college. You can find the first post about year one here.

Third Semester, Fall 2012

I look back on my sophomore year fondly. It was a lot of fun, stressful, loving, and I lived with girls who became my college family. Our frequent dance sessions in our obnoxiously large common room were always a good time. We’d turn off all the lights — except the flashing Christmas lights — and act ridiculous. I mean, we always did act ridiculous, but this time we did it with music.

Gangnam Style – Psy

We’d work up a sweat to this hit before belting out the other top 40 hits.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

Mean – Taylor Swift

Sometime in the early fall, New Paltz was scheduled for a hurricane. After Irene (which resulted in a campus- and town-wide blackout for several days, effectively canceling one of our first weeks of classes and making school “camp”), we battened down the hatches and waited for the storm to come. We might have belted out this out a window wearing a Viking hat with horns. Who knew Taylor could be so primal?

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYa1eI1hpDE[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYa1eI1hpDE

Fourth Semester, Spring 2013 

This winter had been really tough on my family. I don’t remember listening to any music during this time. I only remember the good times — so I’ll include some more favorites from our dance sessions here.

International Love – Pitbull ft. Chris Brown

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdXesX6mYUE[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdXesX6mYUE

I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNoKguSdy4Y[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNoKguSdy4Y

Feel So Close – Calvin Harris

If any song defined my sophomore year, this was it. My suite mates and I would belt out this song at each other. (To get the full effect, you’d have to imagine us incredibly out of key and practically hoarse from screaming.)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGghkjpNCQ8[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGghkjpNCQ8

Second Summer, 2013

I sometimes joke that I peaked in the summer of 2013 and my life is all downhill from this point. This was “the” summer, probably one of the defining moments of my college experience, and one of the best summers of my life so far — quite possibly one of the best summers of my life ever. I had been accepted as an ASME intern, was working at Woman’s Day as a health editorial intern, and living with five other interns who became my summer family. Since I was the only native New Yorker, we toured New York, ate tons and tons of delicious food, and celebrated our magazine successes. It was an amazing time. I’m so thankful for the opportunities the program gave me. I will never take the experience — or living right off of Union Square — for granted. Here are some songs that always remind me of the good times.

Sonsick – San Fermin

We saw San Fermin at Webster Hall during one of the first weekends of the summer. I’d never been to Webster — we walked down the Bowery and I remember thinking — wow. This is it. This place is so famous for all the amazing musicians who have played here. Think of the history! Think of the music! San Fermin was just starting out at the time. I remember their songs as hauntingly beautiful. Here’s one of their better-known songs — one they played that night. Walking home, we were so exhausted — but it was so worth it.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld81Y6Em3NM[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld81Y6Em3NM

Pompeii – Bastille

Before this song got wildly popular, I remember thinking — Bastille who? I listened to this song on my friend’s computer in our NYU apartment, above Duane Reade on 3rd Ave, and I was instantly hooked. (But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all?)

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90Cw4l-8NY[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90Cw4l-8NY

Breezeblocks – alt-J

This song is creepy. The music video is beautiful. You have to watch it for the full effect. In this age of fast-forwarding and instant clicks, this is one video I’d still sit through. (Sorry, short attention span.) I saw this for the first time when I heard Pompeii.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVeMiVU77wo[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVeMiVU77wo

Hall of Fame – The Script

This was the year I roadtripped with friends to Hershey Park, Pennsylvania to see the Mixtape Festival. We saw Train (a longtime dream of mine), Hansen, Gavin DeGraw (amazing live!!) and The Script. The Script blew me away — they’re incredible live. The lead was a few feet away from us in the bandstands at one point in the show.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk48xRzuNvA[/embed]" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk48xRzuNvA

College Playlist: Year One

The creation of this playlist threw me, head first, into nostalgia about my college life. Here are some songs that I believe make up my college experience. These songs make me laugh when I remember a time I was being goofy, make me nostalgic for the beginnings of my college career and friendships, and make me remember how, despite the roller coaster of my college experience, I survived. I hope you enjoy this journey. I’ve done my best to write explanations of songs, and what they mean to me, but I don’t think I’ll ever truly capture that. Some simply remind me of a mood, or a mantra I’ve had in the past — they’ve all been a part of me in some way, and I’m thankful for music that helped my mindset.

Day 35: Beginnings are scary, but they’re also beautiful. Don’t be afraid.

Orientation – Summer 2011

Survivor – Destiny’s Child ft. Da Brat

I had a solo during lip sync of orientation. SUNY New Paltz has orientation groups perform lip syncs (essentially, song/dance numbers that can be silly or elaborate, usually both! Here’s an example from 2012.) I remember my parents saying they were really surprised I came out and had a little dance solo. It was a little thing, but it was one of the first steps I took to becoming more outgoing in college. I started putting myself out there and worrying less about what people thought of me. It was pure fun. (Side note: Orientation was probably one of the most exhausting, exhilarating and amazing moments of my life! I remember meeting Melanie Kaplan (my two-year roomie, still my bud and now a Disney College Program vlogger) in the Lecture Center during one of the mandatory lectures. We had to sit for hours to listen about campus safety…and then we’d be herded to Hasbrouck to eat. Again. And then have some sort of bonding sesh with the other freshmen at night. When I look back on it, it’s all so organized and bizarre…I had a lot of fun, though. I barely slept (huge thunderstorm the first night, and I was too nervous to sleep), and came home full of stories and full of New Paltz pride.

First Semester – Fall 2011

Someone Like You – Adele

Composition I & II are required for New Paltz students as part of the general education requirements. I had credit for Comp. I already, so I headed straight into Comp. II. This is still one of my favorite classes I’d ever taken at New Paltz — he was a genuine, irreverent and kind professor who engaged his students with great literature. One of my first college essays was on the science of barefoot running for his class. One of the running jokes during the course was how Adele’s “Someone Like You” would play in the background of his dream as he shopped in a grocery store.

Master of Art – Laura Stevenson & The Cans

I first started listening to Laura Stevenson in September of 2011, thanks to the suggestion of my boyfriend. This was around the same time I discovered Spotify — I made a giant playlist of her songs and listened to them on repeat. I saw them perform live in September and the show was amazing. I was two feet (if even!) from the stage. This song — it’s romance, it’s patience, it’s kindness and new love.

The Credits to The Royal Tenenbaums

I believe I saw this movie in late October/early November. The credits make me smile. Pure memories of the movie playing in a pitch-black room. Looping music. Late night conversations.

Second Semester – Spring 2012

All In – Lifehouse

The entire album Smoke & Mirrors deserves an honorable mention here, because I listened to it on repeat during winter break. I  wrote in my journal on my bed, on vacation with my parents, blasting this album and thinking lots of happy thoughts.

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson

This was the chosen song to blast on repeat by the race organizers (I believe it was around mile eight or nine.) This song is a total mantra song — I love it, and every time I hear it, it makes me think of how difficult and awesome running my first half-marathon was.

First Summer, 2012

Some Nights – fun. I remember driving around to this song, especially late nights driving home at two or three in the morning.

Years two and three are coming soon!