The Unpretentious Reader

Monthly Archive: July 2016

Weekend things

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Well, it finally happened…I turned 30 on Saturday! Pictured above was my dinner (that’s chimichurri on the steak…SO good). It was a lovely day filled with breakfast at Ruth’s Diner, the climbing gym, a massage and pedicure, then dinner, dessert, and watching Star Wars with good friends. It was the perfect way to ring in a new decade of life.

While returning some clothes to Kohl’s today, I inadvertently found myself in the awkward position of emotional support listener to the poor cashier girl. There wasn’t another customer (or employee, for that matter) for miles, and before I knew it I was hearing about how exhausted she was because she’d stayed up late fighting with her boyfriend last night because her boyfriend just doesn’t understand her problems and cares more about his own feelings than hers and she’s stuck in a dead end job but she has a communications degree but can’t find a job in that field and …. by this point I’d backed up a good 10 feet because she’d already finished my return ages ago and given me my receipt, and despite every clear social sign that I was ready to leave, she kept talking. So I listened.

Sometimes I think we’re all just so desperate for someone to listen to and understand us. I couldn’t tell that girl whatever it was she needed to hear, but I listened and wished her good luck. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

In other news…here’s what caught my eye online this week:


From one of my favorite female travel bloggers: The world is not safe – but you should explore it anyway.


Like the rest of the country, we ferociously consumed Netflix’s Stranger Things and I already can’t wait for the second season. So I found this article to be pretty interesting: The stories behind Stranger Things’ Retro ’80s Props.


And there was much rejoicing: new Gilmore Girls trailer!


Speaking of new trailers… M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film looks CHILLING.


As someone who despises brainstorming in a group office setting, this research gives me hope. “As companies all over the country adopted the method, psychologists started to wonder: Does brainstorming actually work? Many scientific studies later, they had their answer: a resounding no. Study after study found that people who use this group technique produce fewer good ideas than those who ideate alone.” Brainstorming is dumb.


My friend Stef is one of those creative people who is good at EVERYTHING (seriously – check out her work). Her latest creation is this song, titled Ebb and Flow, and it’s so good.


Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

30 random facts about me {Turning 30}

1. One time in college, a friend texted me this: “We’re going skydiving today. Wanna come?” And I did. (Such a rush!)

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2. Until about 5 years ago, the only things I knew how to cook were chili, hamburger helper, and banana bread.

3. In 2010 I started (and finished!) a 365 photo project. I picked a heck of a year to do it, because I got engaged AND married and life was just crazy for a while.

4. I used to have 1/2 inch gauged ears, around the same time I was also majorly into hardcore music and going to shows every weekend. Ah, youth.

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5. The first CD I ever bought with my own money was MxPx’s “Teenage Politics.” Followed shortly thereafter by Creed’s “Human Clay” (NO SHAME, ya’ll).

6. I am right-handed, but I bat (and golf) left-handed. Yes, really.

7. When I was a kid, I had a pet hamster named Pumpkin and he was the best hamster to have ever lived in all the land.

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8. I was absolutely terrified of roller coasters until my 9th grade class took a field trip to Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL, during which my friends persuaded me to ride “The Hulk” with them. I’ve been a coaster junkie ever since.

9. Games have always been a huge part of my life; I was obsessed with Super Nintendo as a kid (who am I kidding, I still love SNES), I played Ultima Online all through high school, and these days I play a mix of PS4 and sometimes PC games. There’s not enough time in the day for all the games I want to try.

10. I learned how to drive stick in a ’92 Toyota Celica.

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11. As a young girl, I was a total tomboy. I balked at society’s rules for girls, at the color pink and the requirement to wear dresses for certain functions, and really anything at all that was considered traditionally “girly.” I got angry when I found out girls couldn’t play in the NFL. You get the idea. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned about feminism and started to identify as a feminist, but clearly, I’ve always been one at heart. (And now I believe it doesn’t matter if you like pink or not…it’s all about what you like because you like it and not because society tells you to!)

12. On a trip to the Bahamas when I was 13, my oldest/dearest friend Bekah and I were swimming in the ocean and started to get followed by a huge (~5-foot) barracuda…until I accidentally dropped my disposable camera in the water. That distracted him, and we swiftly swam to shore. Later we found out he was known to hang around that beach, and the locals had lovingly named him “George.” I am not kidding.

13. In 2013, I read 100 books. It was tough but I did it, and it seriously expanded my horizons in terms of new authors and genres to read.

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14. The one time in my life I went to Warped Tour, I got sun poisoning and swore off music festivals forever.

15. I used to be a Guitar Hero master. I miss playing…but only the PS2 version.

16. I’ve only ever been on one blind date, and that date took me to a ZZ Top concert. Front row at The Ryman! I could almost touch their beards.

17. I loathe raisins. I used to loathe raisins and carrots, but I’m starting to come around to carrots (though I still won’t eat the big ones raw). Chick-Fila used to have a side item that was a shredded carrot and raisin “salad,” and anytime I went through the drive-thru and saw its picture on the menu, I shivered. JUST LOOK AT THAT ABOMINATION:

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18. I’ve read and/or listened to the entire Harry Potter series at least six times but probably more than that (I’ve lost count). It never gets old.

19. I’ve visited 26 states in the U.S., in addition to the Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, and Taiwan. One day I hope to expand that list to all 50 states, the Greek Isles, New Zealand, Iceland, basically all of Europe (but especially Italy), plus about 239486 other places.

20. I once jogged/walked a half marathon in Nashville. NEVER.AGAIN. (I’m smiling in this photo, but I assure you it’s only because this was taken pre-marathon.)

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21. I have a gift card hoarding problem. I can never decide on something “good enough” to use the money on. (Currently have $75 in Amazon cards. WHAT TO DO!?!?!)

22. Around age 14, I worked at a horse ranch in exchange for getting to ride whenever I wanted. I absolutely loved it, all of it, and to this day I have a soft spot in my heart for horses and horseback riding.

23. My first experience with guacamole happened at my first job which, unfortunately for me and the guacamole, was Taco Bell. I didn’t try it again for years, convinced all guacamole was the equivalent to green baby poo. When someone actually made me guacamole with fresh ingredients, I immediately fell in love.

24. One summer in high school, my best friend in the whole world was grounded and the only way we survived was by writing actual, physical letters back and forth (in gel color pens, obviously). I mean…just look how cool we were:

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25. Breakfast/brunch is my absolute favorite meal to go out for but also my most conflicted. Savory or sweet?!? SAVORY OR SWEET!?!? It’s a struggle every time.

26. In college I worked at a hotel where, during the Super Bowl, the stars from One Tree Hill came to stay. My one brush with fame!

27. While dating, my husband started calling me “Scooter” and the nickname stuck. Now, I can’t even remember the last time he addressed me by my real name…haha.

28. I decided to do extra schoolwork one summer and graduated high school at the age of 17, mostly because all my friends were a grade higher than me and I couldn’t stand the thought of them graduating without me. 😉

29. Living near a coast used to be a huge priority for me, but lately my love for the mountains is starting to rival my love for the beach.

30. After almost 30 years of living…….I’m still one of the most impatient people I know.


GOSH, that was a long list. I don’t blame you if you gave up halfway through, but if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! 🙂

Weekend things

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How has your weekend been? Utah has a state holiday called “Pioneer Day” this weekend which means we get an extra day off work! Hallelujah. Except that Utah people really love their fireworks, which let me tell you, reaches several levels above annoying when it’s almost midnight and they’re still going strong. Trying not to be that person who calls the cops but HEY, SOMEBODY’S GOTTA DO IT.

We spent our Saturday in the Uintas National Forest and found the perfect place to climb in the shade. Afterwards, we came home and I played Minecraft for too many hours. It’s not a complete waste of time if you’re also listening to an audiobook while playing, amiright?

Here’s what caught my eye on the web this week…. does anyone even call it the web anymore? Maybe I’ll start calling it the “internet webs” like the Chewbacca lady.


I’d love to one day have a garden where we can start to grow our own food. Even more so after reading this, because apparently everything we love to eat is a scam.


This post is everything. Donald Trump’s nomination is the first time American politics has left me truly afraid.


Dude. Food art is my favorite kind of art. Dying over these cheese platters!


This entire article is 100% worth your time. What it’s like to be black in Naperville, America.


I’ve been thinking this for a while now. Our brains weren’t designed for this much bad news.


Here’s to another week – hope it’s a great one!

Things I have (un)learned in the past decade {Turning 30}

Therapy is not of the devil

In fact, therapy can be good for you! It’s simple: too often do we seek professional medical help for physical ailments, but neglect that same help for our mental health. There’s a stigma about this, thanks to societal and/or religious norms, that seeing a therapist or taking prescribed medication for issues you can’t see with your eyes is somehow wrong or a failure. I’m here to tell you: it’s not.

My body is my own

One of the unfortunate side effects of being a pre-teen growing up in the purity culture / modesty culture frenzy is that a lot of those ideas, whether or not you agree with them now, have a tendency to embed themselves in your subconscious. Therapists call these core beliefs, and they are very hard to unlearn. But hey, creepy dude in the Wal-Mart who approached me while alone to tell me I’m “beautiful” – rather than be uncomfortably polite, I’m going to be rude to you now, because I didn’t ask for your opinion about my looks and even more important, I don’t care what you think.

Yes, your metabolism DOES slow down

Especially for those of us who have always struggled with our weight or always had slower metabolism or medical reasons why we can’t exercise or what-have-you. So do yourselves a favor, kids, and start eating right and exercising now. All in moderation, of course, but not creating those habits early is something I regret and am paying for now. My advice? If you’re physically able, find a type of exercise you enjoy. I loathe the gym – but I love being outside here in gorgeous Utah, so now I hike (and rock climb!). Same goes for cooking – if I don’t continuously find new recipes to try, I get bored and we order pizza instead.

It’s actually possible to get a job doing something you like

I majored in Business Administration in college, AKA the “I don’t know what to do with my life” degree. The only thing I’d been passionate about in high school was web design and writing. At the time, I wasn’t sure I was “smart enough” for a computer science or web design degree (thanks misogyny and general discouragement of women to go into STEM fields!). I also didn’t want to get an English degree just because I liked to write. All that to say, I had zero desire to start my own business or manage people. A business degree was easy but also bored me to tears.

Fast forward a decade, and here I am, in a communications position, writing for a living. It’s still a job, but it’s something I think I’m good at – something I enjoy. And one of my goals this year (that I’m woefully falling behind on) is to start coding again and rebuilding that skill set, so, yeah – I guess the point of this rambling paragraph is to not be discouraged if you get a degree you’re not thrilled about in college. You’re not pigeon-holed into doing that for the rest of your life!

I am very, very lucky to have the parents I do

We may not ALWAYS see eye-to-eye (ha!), but they love me more than I thought it was possible to love a person, they unwaveringly support me in all that I do, and they spoil me far more than I deserve. So many people don’t have good relationships with their parents (or don’t have parents, or have parents but they aren’t good people…the list goes on), and over the years I’ve just become more and more distinctly aware of how blessed I am to have them. They raised me to be an independent person with diverse interests, and I’m so very thankful for that.

Weekend things

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Heading back down the trail from Sunset Peak.

Here we are, at the end of another weekend. It’s true what adults say when you’re a kid; time flies when you get older. All you can do is try to live life to its fullest as it literally rushes past you. Ha.

This week our diet was in complete shambles. Does that ever happen to anyone else? We actually had food to cook, meals that were planned, but for whatever reason I just couldn’t face the kitchen this week. So, we ordered pizza twice (delivered by the same girl, who you know was judging us), ate cheese quesadillas one night, and even – I’m ashamed to admit – ordered from the McDonald’s drive-thru. I don’t know what the deal was, but we are getting back on the straight and narrow this week (says the person who just ate a PB&J for breakfast).

How was your week? Danny’s birthday was yesterday, so this weekend we celebrated with fancy dinner in Park City (including duck enchiladas, gazpacho, chorizo queso, elk london broil, snow crab guacamole, and ceviche), and a nice long hike to Sunset Peak yesterday morning with friends. Between all the food and hiking, I feel like I could nap for days. We’ve also been getting pretty obsessed with few new shows on Netflix and HBO GO: Stranger Things, How to Make It in America, and The Night Of. (I’m also hooked on Girls. I can’t stop!)

I hope you’ve all had a fabulous week. May I suggest you read…


An unlikely voice from the inside: “My husband is a cop. I’m tired of trying to convince my fellow liberals he’s not a monster.”


This is my absolute favorite: How to get a bikini body. (Or in other words, put your body in a bikini and take it to the beach!)


An imagined conversation with Instagram. So funny and true.


If you read nothing else, at least read this: Walking While Black.

Why 30 is exciting, for me {Turning 30}

Look at those stirrup pants. Those pants are saying, “30? I’ll never be 30! I’ll be young forever!” Also, I’m pretty sure that clown was possessed…

As a child, like many of you I’m sure, hearing that someone was 30 years old was the equivalent of them being 60. It was just so unfathomable to my young mind, practically lightyears away. 30-year-olds were, like, actual adults and had wrinkles and shopped for washer/dryer sets and lived boring old people lives.

Can we all just stop and laugh for a minute? I knew nothing. Nothing!

Ok, so maybe I don’t have the best skin in the world anymore and maybe I do get excited about buying new appliances (COME ON. Look at the refrigerators that exist today, they’re glorious), but I certainly do NOT live a boring life.

In fact, I’m pretty certain that the best is yet to come.

I spent my 20s working. I graduated from college a hair before turning 22, and as I wrote in my last ‘Turning 30’ post, I immediately moved away from my home town in Jacksonville, FL to Nashville, TN. It was a vulnerable time. I found a job (that I hated, but which gifted me with dear friends whom I love and keep in touch with to this day), and that was that. I’ve had a job ever since, aside from a brief stint of unemployment when we moved from Nashville to Salt Lake. That’s not to say I’m quitting my job the day I turn 30 – ha! Not happening anytime soon.

While I can’t predict the future, here are some things I’m looking forward to hopefully taking place in my 30s:

Buying a house

You guys, I am too old and cranky to deal with apartment-living for much longer. We’re lucky enough to finally be living in a condominium complex, with each building only housing four units with neighbors we get along with (and are even friends with), but still. I can’t tell you how ready I am to have our own backyard where we can grill again (!!!) and walls I can paint whatever color I want. I don’t even know where we’ll be buying (as in, which state) but I can tell you, IT IS TIME. Which brings me to my next point…

The unknown

In less than a year, my husband will have graduated college with his computer science degree. We literally have no idea what’s in store after that – will we stay here in Utah? Will we move? What kind of job will he get? What will our lives look like without school taking priority over everything? This uncertainty could bother some people, but I can’t help but be excited about it. All I know is the next chapter of our lives is about to begin and it has been a long time coming. School has consumed our lives for almost 5 years; I can’t wait to see what’s in store when it’s over.

Getting a dog (or two)

Many of you are aware that two years ago, we did have a dog. The sweetest, most perfect little dog with a very huge problem: separation anxiety. Living where we do, we were not allowed to get a second dog to keep him company all day, and believe me when I say that for eight months we tried EVERYTHING. We ended up having to adopt him to another family with a second dog, and to this day, I can’t think about it without my heart breaking. I haven’t dealt with the grief of that situation very well at all, but I can tell you that having a dog filled a hole in my heart I didn’t know I had until he was gone. While he can’t ever be replaced, I’m ready for that emptiness to be filled again…which will happen whenever we finally have a house and a yard.

Caring less about other people’s opinions

I’ve changed a bit in the past 10 years. I think most people do, especially in their 20s. I’d like to think that I’ve changed for the better. I’m more open-minded, more cautious of other people’s feelings. How I feel about political and social issues has changed. Most of all, I’ve tried my hardest over the past decade to become the most informed I can be about current events and social justice.

I’m not an expert on anything, but I know for a fact that I am white and privileged and could stand to learn a thing or two (or 50) from people different than me. That’s probably one of the most important things I’ve learned the past few years, and I hope to continue letting that guide my life and decisions moving forward. Included with that is not caring what other people think. I’d like to learn how to let go of worrying about other people’s opinions and be more of myself, my authentic self, regardless of the situation.

Weekend things

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Look. I’m not going to be one more white person adding to the noise about the tragedies and injustices that have occurred this week. All I’ll say is that it is possible for a person to be pro Black Lives Matter and pro police officers. The two are not mutually exclusive, and I am equally outraged and saddened at the loss of life on both sides this week. Senseless violence fueled by systemic racism and hate.

Most of us want peace. Most of us don’t want anyone to be killed.

What else is there to say? My heart is heavy.

Here’s some stuff to read.


The unfortunate reality of dry shampoo. Can’t a woman catch a break!?


This guy makes some good points.


“On July 13, 2015, President Obama commuted the prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders. Here’s what their lives are like now.” This was a very, very good read.


Alton Sterling and when black lives stop mattering: a poignant essay from one of my favorite authors, Roxane Gay.


The next time someone says “all lives matter,” show them these five paragraphs.


And iPhone lovers rejoice: Apple may finally be ditching the 16GB iPhone.


This was heartwarming: police chief writes a passionate letter to fellow officers after Dallas shooting.


How to take care of yourself in the wake of traumatic shootings. Bad things have always happened, but it’s only in the last decade or so that we’ve had access to those bad things at our fingertips, in an instant. It’s tough on the mind and soul, and it’s important to remember to take care of yourself.


I hope this week is better – for all of us. <3

Book review: Americanah

Americanah

Premise:

Primarily a story about race, with a little bit of love thrown in, Americanah follows the life and experiences of Ifemelu, a young woman born in Nigeria who ends up leaving midway through college to finish her studies in the U.S.

Thoughts:

WOW, what a good book. Americanah is, first and foremost, a study of the complexities and nuances of race and immigration. The book primarily follows Ifemelu, but some chapters also read from Obinze’s perspective, her high school/college boyfriend, who also moves out of Nigeria to London for some time. When Ifemelu moves to the U.S. to finish her studies, she’s confronted with this sudden concept of race, something she never even thought about in Nigeria. What it means to be black and born in the U.S., and what it means to be black and move to the U.S. from another country…which she discovers are two very separate things. She learns to lie about how long she’s lived in the U.S., and she adopts a fake American accent, all so she will be accepted and treated “normally.”

At some point, Ifemelu decides she’s tired of faking it. She begins to embrace her Nigerian roots again, she loses the accent, she wears her hair natural. It’s empowering, and you love her for it. I also just liked her as a character in general – she’s strong-willed, self-assured, stubborn, and never afraid to speak her mind, which sometimes gets her into trouble. She goes through ups and downs during her time living in the U.S., but ultimately she ends up being a successful blogger and writer, choosing to focus on race in America in her blog posts. Despite her academic and professional success, you find out in the very first chapter that Ifemelu has decided to return to Nigeria, a decision many of her friends and family immediately question. She has her reasons, which you find out as the book goes on, with subsequent chapters exploring her early years in Nigeria, her relationship with Obinze, and how everything has changed since then.

I won’t say much more as I’d rather you just discover it for yourselves. This was an important read…extremely engaging and gripping. Highly recommend!

Weekend things

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Yesterday we went exploring for new climbing routes in American Fork canyon, and as I stood on one side of the stream waiting as Danny explored the other side, it hit me all over again as it sometimes does that we are so lucky to live here. Utah has its downsides like any other state, but as I stood there listening to the water rushing by, surrounded by mountains and tall trees and the smell of wildflowers, I couldn’t remember any of them. Now if only my family lived here….it would be perfect.

I don’t know about you, but three-day weekends are my jam. We have an entire, extra day off tomorrow (I hope you do, too!) and I’m thrilled. We’ll probably go for a hike, maybe a climb, definitely try to get out of the valley and away from the fireworks (Utahns looooove their fireworks). Hope you have a happy 4th! 🙂

On the interwebs this week:


How being a good girl can be hazardous to your health. “From our earlier years we’re taught to be “good girls.” We’re told to be polite, be good, to not interrupt, to say thank you and fake appreciation even when we don’t like something, to be pleasant, not make waves, to be seen and not heard, to not question authority, not stand up for our rights, not be bossy, share when we don’t want to – the list of how we’re taught to “be good” is endless. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be decent citizens with good manners, but that’s different than not speaking up for ourselves and accepting what just feels wrong. Our inner “good girl” usually starts at home, follows us through school, and stays with us in our jobs, relationships, and business dealings.”


I found this interview with Matt Weiner, director for a particularly climactic episode of Orange Is the New Black, to be fascinating. I won’t say too much here for fear of spoilers, but if you’ve finished watching season 4, I highly recommend reading it!


Geraldine Largay’s Wrong Turn: Death on the Appalachian Trail. No words. So sad.


If you (like me and the rest of the country) obsessively followed season one of Serial, then you’ve probably heard the news that Adnan Syed was granted a new trial. Justice – or is it? What do you think? I’m interested to see how it plays out.


THIS. So much yes. “But when a man tells a woman she has to behave more sensibly to prevent risk, he never means that she should behave more sensibly around him. He retains the right to not only view himself as non-threatening to her, but also to insist that she treat him this way to avoid insulting him by association.” This is why we have women-only spaces, and why I don’t want to hear your complaints.


It’s like a particularly awful car crash…you want to look away but you can’t. In other words, I need to see this: Tickled.