Monday, September 24, 2012


It turns out I can't make ceramic dishware. Somewhere on my twisty-turny pasta noodles of DNA, next to eye color and affinity for remembering the names of D-List celebrities, there's a post-it note that reads, "Horrible with pottery wheel. Just disgusting. Will never succeed as artist." Fortunately, this fatal flaw probably won't come back to haunt me after I finish my art class, since those who are not professional potters rarely need to participate in pottering. Unfortunately, I need to pass this freaking class.

Six hours of class time, three hours of my own time, a stinging cut up the side of my pinky, a splattered and stained pair of jeans, and ten destroyed fingernails were all part of this week's sacrifice to the pottery gods. And what did I have to show for it? Four "bowls" (in quotation marks because each one was lopsided and likely couldn't hold liquid) when eight were due. When I heard the teacher call my name and ask to grade my finished product, I took a deep breath, plopped the little disasters before him, and tried to look as innocent as possible. I think I curtsied. I probably curtsied.

"What happened here?" he asked in a way that wasn't blatantly condescending but still made me bite my lip.

I wanted to say, "I'm graduating in two months and I'm working essentially full-time and I don't like being cold or wet or dirty and I'm so tired, dude; can I please just have a C and be on my way?"

I ended up saying, "Buhhh."

"I'll tell you what," he began, and a choir of angels sang out in jubilation, because no one but a sadist would start a sentence with "I'll tell you what" if he wasn't going to end it with something kind and helpful. "Why don't you toss these and I'll let you start over. Can you redo them tonight?"

"...Eight of them?"


So I think, "Oh yeah, I have a free eighteen hours tonight. I'll just fit that in between all the work I have to do for the book, and the video I have to upload, and the forms I have to fill out, and the prescription I have to drop off, and the homework I have to do, and the miles I have to run, and the video I have to plan, and the laundry I have to do, and the food I have to eat, and the reading I have to do, and the blog I have to write, and the shower I have to take, and the dying with my face down on the public sidewalk I have to do."

And I say, "Yeah. Sure."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tell me where to live?

I always thought of myself as a suburban girl. I pictured living near my extended family, owning a used car, never changing my voter registration to anywhere besides Ohio, wearing sweatpants to Olive Garden. Honestly, I don't look down on that choice at all, and it's entirely possible that I'll find myself happily living between a llama farm and a Cracker Barrel in my forties. I was a suburban girl, and I'll probably be a suburban woman. Buuuuut, at least for my take-chances-because-you're-in-your-twenties decade, I think I'm ready to hook some Mace on my keychain and call myself a city mouse.

So like... how do you do that? Or more importantly, where?

I've spent the last year compiling a mile-long list of US cities I could see myself living in, which ranges from the financially ambitious (LA and NYC) to the easy (Orlando and Indianapolis) to the new and exciting (San Francisco and DC) to the hippy (Portland and Denver) to the idk-I-mean-I-like-country-music (Nashville and Charlotte). I'm not writing off any possibilities, and the second that otherwise unappealing Minneapolis calls to offer me a cool job or great place to live, I'm there. But, after much consideration and eager prodding from friends, I think I've narrowed it down to three Big Scary Options. Maybe none of these will be realistic for a year or two, but it's fun to daydream, you know? Here's the rundown.

Los Angeles Pros:
  • Sunshine all year/no snow
  • Healthy atmosphere, easy to eat well
  • The beach! Nature! Green stuff!
  • SO many of my friends live there or plan on moving there
  • Potential for entertainment jobs/creative environment
  • Cool stuff to do/entertainment
  • Proximity to other West Coast cities
Los Angeles Cons:
  • Expensive rent
  • Need a car, need to park that car, need to insure that car
  • Feeling comparatively frumpy and Midwestern
  • Difficult and expensive to make plane trips home
  • Very competitive work-wise
  • No autumn leaves
New York City Pros:
  • Potential for in-office writing jobs
  • Don't need a car
  • Fairly easy to visit home
  • Cool stuff to do/entertainment/ability to stalk SNL cast
  • Seasons similar to home
  • Proximity to other East Coast cities
New York City Cons:
  • Very expensive and small living space
  • Gray, may have to go out of my way to be around trees
  • Maybe this is unfair, but a lot of my experiences with New York have left me sensing a certain elitism from people in the city, which turns me off and makes me feel judged
  • Snow that you have to walk through
Chicago Pros:
  • Midwestern feel (ability to wear sweatpants to an Olive Garden if you MUST)
  • Easy to get home to my family
  • Don't need a car
  • Potential for in-office writing jobs
  • Cool stuff to do/entertainment/ability to obsess over Second City
Chicago Cons:
  • Cold, rainy, snowy, windy/not enough sunshine
  • I hardly know anybody there
  • Farther away from East Coast cities

Uh... what do you think? I'm half tempted just to put it up to a vote. TELL ME WHERE I BELONG, STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET! Write-ins are also accepted, so long as you don't say "my house" or "Detroit." This isn't a problem I need to solve immediately, but it's pretty fun to fantasize about it. I don't have a clue where home will be nine months from now! Maybe my parents' house. Maybe under a bridge. Maybe in a mansion with Daddy Warbucks. Maybe Jason Mraz will finally answer my emails and carry me over his hippy shoulder all the way to his avocado orchard. Who knows? I don't have a clue, and for the first time in my life, I think that's awesome.

P.S. You guys were HILARIOUS with your responses to my little complain-about-your-exes game. I read every comment (94 at the time that I'm writing this!) and I honestly cannot pick a favorite. Honorable mentions go out to Sarah (MVP song: "I Wish I Hadn't Kissed You After I Beat You in Air Hockey"), Comelygrace (MVP song: "Why did you think I would want you to hollow out a tree in the woods and make a boat for me"), and a presumably different Sarah (MVP song: "Obscure Haiku [Don't Get That Tattoo]"). Cheers and appreciation and high-fives to you all.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Songs for Boyfriends Past

Today, while struggling more than any able-bodied adult human ever should to make a clay pot for my art class, I overheard an intriguing conversation. As water splashed off my pottery wheel, covering my arms in a layer of gray mud, two competent art students nearby discussed the new album one of them (presumably a singer-songwriter) is recording. "All the song titles," she told her friend, "are things I've always wanted to tell my old boyfriends." I was fascinated, in the way people who spend too much time on twitter and tumblr are always fascinated by the love lives of strangers, but didn't want to eavesdrop too much. The musician went on to list the track names for her friend, and I forced myself not to listen... but I did make out two of them: "I'm Completely Over It" and "Shut Up Already." Nice.

I tried to disguise my smile as a twisted-face look of concentration, and in taking my mind momentarily off the slippery monstrosity before me, I flattened my pot into a lopsided disaster. It was okay, though, because my brain had moved on to better things. If I were to write songs for all my former significant others, what would I call them? After some thought, I came up with the following:

NOW! That's What I Call Irritating (Volume 1)
1. I'll Never Stop Hating Your Oasis CD
2. Ugh
3. We're Very Impressed By Your Atheism (Talk About Something Else)
4. Making Out During That '70s Show
5. Bored! at the DnD Game
6. Is There a Subreddit That Can Teach You Social Skills?
7. I Think My Dad Hates You
8. I Told You That In Confidence (Don't Repeat It At This Party)
9. Your New Piercing
10. My Dad Definitely Hates You
11. Let's Just Watch Wishbone and Eat Chips
12. Ugh (reprise)

So what would yours be? This game doesn't discriminate against those who rock their singlehood-- you can make a track list for former crushes or flings or celebrity obsessions, too. If you want to play along, leave a comment with your list of song titles, and maybe I'll announce my favorite entry next time? All applicants win the invisible prize of my eternal love. And seventy invisible cookies.

Okay, I have to go scrub hunks of dry clay off my legs. (Is it supposed to burn?) I hope you guys have a lovely evening!

P.S. I posted a new video on Sunday. It's ridiculous.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm reclining on a hideous-in-a-cool-way vintage couch that once lived in my late (incredible, inspiring) grandpa's work office, watching the sun set over the 1800s red brick architecture of my university campus, huffing the glorious fumes of a baking batch of cookies, whose recipe I just created on a whim. My roommate is off somewhere, allowing me to guiltlessly lounge pantsless and let my favorite Julia Nunes album play without headphones. I think you know, but just for the record, I only like you for your large hands...

This is one of those pretty moments that remind me of just how important pretty moments are. When I'm fifty years old and I think "college," my mind will probably go to that one professor who really believed in my poetry, the tornado that forced my nineteenth birthday party into a windowless hallway with a group of strangers and half a cake, waiting in the same line for the same late-night burrito every drunken weekend. Chances are, I won't commit a lot of this to memory-- the sipping tea, the listening to myself typing, the ignoring a sink of dirty dishes, the messy bun on top my head. I won't remember this pair of brown sandals, about which there is nothing at all special or extraordinary, but who took my feet for long walks around Chicago and out to karaoke with my best friend and shopping with my mom for the first time that I insisted I purchase all my own clothes. I won't always remember twenty-one with the kind of reverence I currently feel it deserves. I won't be able to conjure up this feeling of being equal parts confident and insecure about my body, equal parts excited and terrified about future job possibilities, equal parts comfortable in the world and anxious as hell. I won't remember how it feels like a victory every time I get through a phone call with a doctor's office without stumbling over my words like a little kid, or how it feels to have someone refer to you as "that woman over there" and realize they don't mean "woman" as a condescending compliment, but a genuine descriptor. I won't remember that little sinking in my stomach when it occurred to me that blue nail polish looks kind of silly on me now, or how I actually hold my breath every time I check my bank statement, or how eating a grocery store doughnut in a parking lot no longer sounds like an awesome idea. This state of twenty-one-ness that makes up my entire life right now will be gone and virtually forgotten as soon as the next stage starts... so this evening, I'm making an effort to soak it up.

I hope you guys have a lovely night! I'm off now to fill myself with banana-oatmeal-dark-chocolate-graham-cracker cookies and throw another filthy bowl on top my pyramid of neglected dishes. I should probably feel guilty about it, but who has time for that? I have a lot more twenty-one-ing to do before bed.

P.S. I posted a new video yesterday! This week's Answerly video (my series of advice for college students) is up as well.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


This is my last semester of college. Like, ever. By December, I'll have a degree, a real life, and a heart attack. What do graduates do? When does their year start? When is their summer? Do they ever buy five-subject notebooks? Do they still eat a whole package of Oreos in one sitting?

To commemorate my career as a writing student, I thought I might start posting some of my more entertaining* class assignments. I'm currently taking a course on the personal essay-- talking about yourself, trying not to sound obsessed with yourself, being obsessed with yourself-- you know, essentially this blog. For our first assignment, a short essay about one or more of our pet peeves, I was too bored to be honest, so I decided to write it from a slightly exaggerated, not-exactly-real version of myself. It's not a masterpiece, but it was fun. I hope you enjoy.

At this point, my biggest pet peeve is a little too big to fall under “pet” status. This peeve is more like an overweight son in his mid-twenties who won’t move out of your basement and get a job. This peeve has been nagging me to some degree my entire life, and it just gets uglier and heavier and peevier as the days go by. People tell me, “Get over it! It’s a fact of life! Junk food makes you fat!” I tell people, “Yes, and that pisses me off.” 

The thing is, I understand why unhinging your jaw like a pelican and cramming a dozen mini cupcakes down your throat would, in theory, make you gain weight. We’re decedents of chimpanzees who spend most of their afternoons gnawing fruit and trying to crack nuts open. Anything that strays too far from naked grazing on an open meadow is bound to be unhealthy. But shouldn’t evolution have solved this problem? Shouldn’t evolution have looked around, noticed that I spend my afternoons sprawled on my crumb-covered bed, elevating my chin just high enough to see my computer screen? Science really ought to have abolished calories by now. If I were science, I’d be like, “Wow, humans invented onion rings? That’s freaking incredible. We should get our shit together and let them eat onion rings. Free of charge. Go forth, my children.” 

But my peeve isn’t quite that simple. I’m almost able to accept the conditions: If you want to look good, you can’t be happy. This has been proven so many times, by so many blonde celebrities holding Starbucks cups on their way out of rehab, that nobody with the E! channel needs me to elaborate further. My second-biggest peeve emerges when someone inevitably tries to defy this law. For every two McDonald’s patrons this country has to offer, there is at least one vegan surfer who takes B12 supplements and does yoga on purpose. I really don’t know which is worse. On the one hand, all the leading causes of death in the US involve eating yourself into a blob. On the other hand, screw vegans. (I can say that. I am one. Because I hate myself.) 

I just want to let you know, chick wearing a handmade sweater made of organic yarn, that everybody hates you. Not for real, but symbolically. We see you picking at your cup of spinach, staring straight ahead with a dead-in-the-eyes smile as you attempt to gnash raw leaves between your molars, and you remind us that we’re Jolly Rancher-ing ourselves into a downward spiral. It’s your prerogative to eat granola, but at least have the common decency not to do it in front of me! 

Above all, though, I’m peeved with myself. These ten pounds that I lose and gain and lose again, every three months like clockwork, keep me constantly yo-yoing between worlds. I have duel citizenship in Fatass Town and Pretentious Pseudo-Nutritionist Who Says Shit Like “Holistic” City. I’ve been that person at the party whose enthusiastic cry of “Let’s make more brownies!” is greeted with silence and shrugs, and I’ve also been that person holding out a Mason jar and crooning, “Do you want some of my quinoa? I can never finish it.” Get with the program, past self! Your brownies make everyone feel like shit, and your quinoa tastes like it. But until I get a grip on reality (never), I will remain militant against all other eaters worldwide. You with the cheeseburger? You’re pissing me off. You with the agave nectar? You’re pissing me off. I guess what I’m getting at-- after all the “Can I see a dessert menu?” is said and after all the Pilates is done-- is that food stresses me out.

So yeah, that's basically how I'm using my multi-thousand-dollar education. If you're not completely sick of me yet, I posted a video on my second channel a few days ago, and I have a new hayleyghooover video coming out tonight. I hope you all have a lovely day! See you soon, guys.

*Keep in mind that "entertaining" is a relative term, and that these essays are pretty much only entertaining in comparison to 10-page papers about what the color green means in The Great Gatsby.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pits and Parkas

Depression is the shittiest shit monster made of shit. It makes me write sentences like that one. It makes me write nothing else, at all, for days. The only natural cure for this feeling-- where it's like you've fallen into an extremely deep pit, and any attempt to crawl out just jostles more dirt into your face-- is to do your best to ignore that face-dirt, power through, and pull yourself out. That's what this melodramatic analogy is for. If I don't write a little bit of nonsense, I'll continue not writing anything at all. So get out of my way, face-dirt! I've got a blog to update!

I hate nothing more (short of, like, the supervolcano) than being a massive downer. I get my energy from being around positive people, I feel like one of my strengths is maintaining a certain level of optimism during debates, I genuinely enjoy the musical stylings of Ke$ha. It kind of disturbs me that a catchphrase of my generation is "I hate everybody," and when I'm in that place where I'm more happy than not-- more grateful than disappointed-- I find it difficult to be around people who disagree. Because of all this, it's mega hard for me to answer "How are you doing?" with anything other than "Good!" I don't want to be the sad one. I don't want to be that introspective emo chick in the coffee shop, wearing enough eyeliner that you can see her misery drip down her face. I don't want to be a drain or a bother or an Eeyore or a supervolcano. I just wish the energy and excitement for life that I definitely do have... came out of me with less effort. Maybe a better analogy than the pit of dirt would be a parka? Or something? It's me under the coat, completely alive, completely normal, but it's zipped up too tightly for me to get it off, and I can't get any work done because I'm sweating to death under the weight of this totally unnecessary layer. I can talk about all the stuff I have to get done, but I can't actually move.

I have just pages of video ideas on my desk right now, and I haven't been able to post anything for over a month. The creativity isn't an issue, but the creativity might as well not exist without the followthrough. I've found myself sitting still, doing nothing at all besides glancing half-heartedly at my twitter feed, saying out loud, "Today. You're filming that today. You're finishing those edits in half an hour. Twenty minutes. Now. You're writing that paper, you're going for that run, you're calling that friend. Get up!" And I just can't. The parka's too tight, the pit's too deep, whatever. It's the absolute shittiest feeling in the world.

I guess it's a step in the right direction, though, to be able to write this feeling down. It's taking longer than it ought to, yeah, and I'll be embarrassed and flighty if anyone in my day-to-day life tries to talk to me about it, of course, but at least I'm getting something finished. I apologize if I've made you uncomfortable or sad, guys. But, as always, I'm so, so, so entirely thankful that you're here to listen. I hope you have a lovely day, and that any pits or parkas you're aquatinted with don't get a good grip on you.

P.S. If depressed, I do not recommend clicking that link about the supervolcano. It was a bad decision to include that one. Just watch today's Answerly video about bagels instead. Or listen to Ke$ha.