writing

I Need to Get New Running Shoes

I am just about ready to retire my running shoes, but just like an old pair of jeans or a sweatshirt that is broken in just right, they are making it hard for me to officially let them go.

I am someone who, when I find something—especially shoes—that fit me just right, I will only part with them if they physically fall apart, are taken away from me by a concerned friend or family member, or if, in their demise, they stop fitting just right.

I like for clothes and shoes to feel like a part of my body, like something I don’t even notice I’m wearing, and might even force me to glance down and ensure I got dressed that morning.

Which is perhaps why I have hoodies hanging in my closet that are so offensively thin and worn out, but I still can’t manage to get rid of them because I’ve upcycled them into “summer sweatshirts” that I can wear when the temperature dare dips below 75. And it’s definitely why, even though the recommended replacement rate of running shoes is four to six months, I am going on year two, with this blog being my biggest step towards considering to consider getting a new pair.

But I can’t help it. They’ve been through a lot with me.

They’ve been up and down and around the streets of my neighborhood, running and jogging and walking, panting and gasping and fist pumping and dancing.

They helped me train for and finish the LA Marathon.

They’ve gone from machine to machine at the gym, trying to make me look like I know what I’m doing.

They’ve hiked up dirt trails and squeaked on tile floors and dried out missteps in rainy day puddles on back porches.

They’ve been covered in wet grass, slipped in wet mud, and run through the rinse cycle more than once.

While the laces are tired, they still let me triple knot them tightly, and while the tread is fading, I still run up gravely hills without fear.

The thought of having to break in a new pair of shoes, to listen to them squeak out the fresh and take the time to wiggle in the comfortable, is enough to make me (literally) run these shoes into the ground. But then I suppose a new pair of shoes offers a new set of miles, a clean slate of adventures, and a fresh round of compliments that I haven’t heard since I got rid of my last pair of shoes.

So maybe I’m writing this to hold myself accountable. Maybe I’m writing this as a breakup letter to my shoes. Maybe I’m wearing those shoes right now. Maybe I’m going to go on one last run—or five. But I’m definitely going to get some new shoes. I definitely need to get some new shoes. And I will.

Soon.

How to Snooze Your Alarm in the Morning

Before we start, I just want to make sure you read the title of this post right, as there is a very important word missing if you are looking to improve your morning routine, balance your sleep pattern, or build healthy habits. Because yes, I am here to give advice on how to snooze your alarm, not how not to.

This is terrible advice, a terrible habit and an overall terrible way to start your morning, but I do it absolutely every day and see no signs of stopping, so, I figured if anyone wants to join me on this (mis)adventure I thought I’d give you some tips:

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1) Set your alarm for at least 30 minutes before you absolutely must wake up. This gives you 30 minutes (or more if you’re feeling dangerous) to press snooze.

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2) If your phone is your alarm clock, get a wireless charger. This prevents you from reaching to turn it off and accidentally pulling the cord out of the wall or the power strip, which could possibly make noise and fully wake you up—a nightmare.

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3) Continually make empty promises to yourself that you’re going to stop pressing snooze, as this will make each time you do feel like you’re working towards something better “one day.”

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4) When your alarm goes off, internally (or externally, should you want to risk that burst of energy) pout that you are required to wake up and convince yourself that you deserve to press snooze “just once.”

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5) Always keep your eyes closed when pressing snooze, this prevents you from accidentally seeing any attention catching notifications on your phone, or the sun, which will likely be almost all the way up, letting you know that it is probably far past the time you should have gotten up.

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6) Decide a random press of snooze is “your last one”, but keep your eyes closed and decide to give yourself a 30 second “countdown” in your head until you have to really get up.

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7) Fall back asleep on second 15 every time.

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8) Occasionally decide to “get up on time” and unlock your phone to scroll through your emails, but always always make sure you remain lying down. Sitting up will guarantee a natural wake up pattern and ultimately derail your entire plan.

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9) On particularly late mornings, tell stories that no one around you believes anymore about you “never hearing your alarm”, or you feeling “so confused by how it got so late so fast”, even though you’re well aware you woke up with your phone in your hand under your pillow.

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10) Once you have reached “crunch time” and slowly open your eyes, knowing your phone will reveal a time that requires you to get ready with particular haste, audibly gasp in shock, and then blame the late hour you went to bed, so as to avoid taking any responsibility first thing in the morning.

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11) Every once in a while, forget to turn your alarm off on the weekends, so you can press snooze with power, authority, and misplaced entitlement that validates this entire process and ensures you continue.

Finding Focus with Your Senses

With so much going on and so many reasons to both worry about the future and get lost thinking about the past, it is easy to lose sight of the present.

I know I have a tendency of focusing on the if/when’s of the future or the “if only’s” of the past, and at times I can think and worry about them until I spiral down to a point of near paralysis. As a result, I often look for ways to reconnect to the present moment, as it’s the only thing I have any control over.

Recently, on an episode of the podcast The Next Right Thing, host Emily P. Freeman shared an exercise geared to get you back into the present moment by focusing on the senses. She said, “senses bring us back to the present moment, reminding us what is rather than what we are afraid could be.”

The exercise asks you to notice and/or write down the following:

Five things you can see

Four things you can hear

Three things you can feel

Two things you can smell

One thing you can taste

As I write this blog in a low sitting chair on the beach, this is how I would go through the exercise:

Five things I can see

  1. The waves moving in and out
  2. A ship far off in the distance
  3. My brother’s sandy feet
  4. The freckles on my knees
  5. A feather stuck in the sand

Four things I can hear

  1. The ocean
  2. Kids playing and laughing
  3. An airplane overhead
  4. A seagull squawking

Three things I can feel

  1. A slight breeze
  2. The sand between my toes
  3. The heat of the late morning sun

Two things I can smell

  1. The ocean
  2. Fresh (non smoky) air

One thing I can taste

  1. The bagel I ate for breakfast

What I love about this exercise is that it can bring you into the present both to diffuse a stressful or anxious situation, or to magnify a good one. It can bring good things into focus so you can appreciate them and it can bring negative things into focus so you can move away from them. It can also act as a good distraction from intrusive or anxious thoughts, and give you something to do for a few minutes besides just breathe—which sometimes just doesn’t cut it.

This exercise can be a great go-to on anxious days, long trips to the DMV, stressful family gatherings, slow moving traffic, mornings when it’s hard to get out of bed, nights when it’s hard to fall asleep—really any time when your mind needs something to focus on…other than what it’s currently focusing on. Or, on good days, it can be used to focus and perhaps memorize the things around you that make this moment perfect so that you can remember it forever.

My 500th Blog Post

Almost seven years ago, on a random Sunday night, I posted a rambling blog post, which to this day has only been viewed eight times. I didn’t tell anyone I posted it, and I didn’t know what to expect from it. I wrote it because I could—because I couldn’t seem not to—and because I wanted to know what it felt like to click publish. More than anything, that post was a dare to myself, fueled by late night confidence, to give blogging a shot. And even though I didn’t post another blog until almost seven months later, this dare hung in the air, it crawled into my thoughts and it wiggled out the tips of my fingers. Write, it said. Until eventually, I did.

Thinking back to the beginning, I won’t deny that I was dreaming big. Fresh off a semester abroad, during which I wrote weekly posts (on a different website) to update those back home, I had a pocketful of compliments from friends and family that gave me a big head and an expectation to turn my talents into a career—fast. You can hear it in my early blog posts. The I am so funny tone. I am so casually hilarious and knowledgeable and relatable. Feel free to make me famous.

Reading through some of my old posts, I cringe at the way I wrote, the way I rambled, the way I *clearly* didn’t proofread as well as I should have. I didn’t have a schedule, didn’t have a direction or a defined voice. I was very much just posting to gain a following, to get attention, to get numbers, and to move forward into what was sure to be a lucrative career. I spoke as a knower, as someone who was here to teach you something or to make you laugh or to change your life because of things I could tell you.

But then, little by little, I started to shake off that identity—as it didn’t fit very well—and started to write from the much more honest perspective of a learner. As someone who doesn’t know it all. As someone who is just trying her best and learning what she can along the way. And in finding that authentic voice, I found a much more comfortable, fun, and co-beneficial blogging process and experience, and grew a very genuine and caring audience that allows me to write without a defined theme—something every blogging advice columns suggests you find (#rulebreaker)—and who learns and grows right alongside me.

So as I write this post, my 500th post if you can believe it, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far and who is strapping in to see where we go from here! This blog is a safe place for me, something that is consistently fulfilling and comforting—even amongst the craziest and scariest of times. So thank you for helping me create this space! And if you’re new, welcome to this space! We’re happy to have you.

To celebrate the big 5-0-0, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite blog posts, but first, in case there are any other data nerds out there, here are some fun facts:

  • I have posted a blog on every single day of the week, the most on Monday (178) and the least on Saturday (9).
  • My total word count (including this post) is: 390,606 words, which is the equivalent of almost five books.
  • My blog has been read in 165 countries
  • My best day ever for views was December 15, 2015, when I posted this blog about Gina Rodriguez and she shared it on social media.
  • My most viewed blog of all time is this one about How to Recreate the Princes Diaries Painting.
  • The most used search terms that helped people find my blog was “things that happened in 2018” which led them to my All the Good Things series.
  • The first post I ever had published on another website was this one.

Now to name a few favorites. This was nearly an impossible task, because narrowing it down to a reasonable number leaves so many behind. But in a quick scroll down the list, these ones jumped out at me:

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1) The Mt. Whitney series

This is slightly cheating, since it refers to five posts that cover my experience of hiking Mt. Whitney, but this was the first series I ever wrote for my blog and the first thing that made me feel like a “blogger“. I was so thankful to have a place where I could document what turned out to be a big turning point in my life.

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2) The Simplest Kind of Happy

This post gives me the warm fuzzies. It was such a simple moment of an ordinary day, but it was pure and it was happy and the song I mention in the post can still take me back to that day.

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3) A Literally Sick Rap Song

I wrote this post when I was on day 3 or 4 of being home sick with the flu and it was one of the only things that made me feel better. I spent almost an entire fever filled day rewriting the lyrics to Tupac & Dr. Dre’s “California Love”, renaming it “Day&NyQuil Love” and I laughed so incredibly hard. I will never not think of this post when I’m sick.

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4) To My Fellow Tough Eggs

Some of the hardest blogs to post are the ones that feel like I’m sharing my journal or the innermost workings of my brain. This post was meant to be encouraging to all but especially to myself. It also stands out because shortly after posting it someone mentioned it to me by name and thanked me for posting it and that meant the world to me.

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5) A Lesson in Love from Mr. & Mrs. Day

This is not only one of my favorite posts on my blog, but one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. In 2015, my Grammie was moved into a nursing home, where we met Mr. Day and his wife, Mrs. Day, who was in the bed next to my Grammie. Their love story will inspire me always.

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6) The Year of Give

This was the start of a series I do at the end of every year where I recap the word that defined my year. It put me out of my comfort zone to post, but I’m so glad to have shared it because I love having a place to go back and read what I’ve learned from each year and each word.

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7) The Butterfly

In late 2015, my Grammie passed away, and I wrote this post, which ended up being distributed at her funeral. I felt very lucky to be able to honor her, and I think about this post often.

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8) I Ran a Damn Marathon

This had to be on this list because I still can’t believe it actually happened.

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9) This Blog Was Written By My Dog

This was such a fun, silly post I wrote from the perspective of our family dog, Laycee, who was the cutest, most loving dog I’ve ever known. Unfortunately, only about a year after I posted it, Laycee passed away, but I’m so thankful to have this encapsulation of what an important, special member of our family she was and always will be.

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10) Just Live the Day

I have written many posts describing a struggle of staying present, but I feel like this one really hit straight to the point. It was inspired by The Grapes of Wrath, and offers advice that I try to carry with me at all times.

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Thank you again for all your support through these 500 posts, here’s to 500 more!

91 Birthdays and Now I’m Counting Too

This past weekend we celebrated my grandpa’s 91st birthday.

It was a happy day filled with good food, lots of sunshine, and a big reminder of the many good things (and especially good people) I have in my life.

The most important person of the day, the ever handsome, ever lovable birthday boy, pulled up to the party in one of his most stylish (and one of my favorite) Dodger themed button down shirts, some nice pants, and a pair of shades. Throughout the day, I couldn’t help but look over at him, sometimes catching him looking at me, maybe to wave or stick his tongue out, and wonder how he was feeling.

When asked how he is doing, his go-to answer most days is that he’s doing okay. He says he feels old, and on some days, on especially good and sassy days, he’ll slick his hair back and tell you he feels oh, just as wonderful as ever. And while I know there are lots of hard layers to his answers—that he’s tired, his knees hurt, he misses my grandma, he’s not sure how much longer he wants to stick around—there are also good ones—he’s proud of the family he’s built, he’s always excited to hear what we’re up to, and he’s curious to see what another day holds. Still, I can’t help but feel like there is so much I don’t understand and can’t understand until I (or IF I) am lucky enough to reach the age of 91.

It’s hard to believe that I’d have to live the life I’ve lived twice more to reach my grandpa’s age. And if I do, it’s hard to comprehend how much I will see and learn and experience in that time. Not to mention, how different the world (my world and the world at large) will look in 61 years. It’s startling and overwhelming, but also inspiring because it makes me realize how much life my grandpa has lived.

I would consider myself very lucky to be sitting in a backyard on a Sunday afternoon 61 years from now, looking out at a family I built, and eating a cake they made just for me. And I’d like to think in that moment I’ll think of my grandpa. I’ll think of how perfect the weather was at his 91st birthday and how lucky I felt to be a part of it. I’ll remember the sound of the excited chatter and the laughter and the clinking of drinks. And then maybe I’ll look over at a certain granddaughter or grandson who I catch looking at me and I’ll stick my tongue out.

A Few Sunburned Themed Thank You Notes

While it may seem obvious to even the most distant of onlooker, and while I should be well versed and well informed as I have lived with this knowledge my entire life, sometimes I still forget that I am a pale, pale white girl. And even on days when I am reminded of this, say, when I step into a bathing suit and the whitest parts my body squint at the daylight they don’t usually see, I still manage to forget that my skin is to the sun what a peace of bread is to a toaster: ready to get burned.

But alas, the sun is always there to set me straight. It is always there to cook me to the perfect pink of a medium rare steak, leaving me feeling the way I feel when I eat a perfectly pink steak too fast, and with too big a helping of mashed potatoes on the side: sad and regretful. 

So as I sit here today, in the last stages of healing from a weekend sunburn, still diligently applying aloe vera, and patiently waiting for the itching phase of healing to pass, I thought I’d write some thank you notes a la Jimmy Fallon, to the sun, to my sunburn, and to keep my hands busy so I don’t physically scratch my skin off.

I’ll keep my oven mitts close just in case.

*ahem*

Cue the piano, James.

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Thank you, Mr. Sun,

For teaching me what it feels like to be slow cooked. I can now empathize with everything I’ve ever put in a crock-pot.   

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Thank you, SPF,

For undoubtedly standing for Sun’ll Probably still Fry you.

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Thank you, Google,

For teaching me that the itching phase of a sunburn is called “hell’s itch”, making anything I was going to call it seem way less dramatic.

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Thank you, skin,

For always burning and then peeling and then going back immediately to pale. It has always been my worst nightmare to feel like a bronzed beach goddess, so I appreciate you keeping me from that misery.

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Thank you, fall in Southern California,

For actually being Summer: the Sequel.

Find the Things that Fill You Up

At the beginning of the year I set out on a quest to find a morning routine. And while that process has been and might forever remain a process, I have recently found myself in need of an afternoon routine as well.

Seeing as many things are still closed and many activities are still limited, I often find my afternoons and evenings in need of filling. Unlike my morning routine however, I can’t necessarily say, “oops, I overslept, guess I’ll try again tomorrow.” I often get home at 4:00 p.m., and while occasionally a nap seems necessary, I’m not looking to become nocturnal and/or nap off the possibility of a great night’s sleep.

Still, it’s hard after a long day of work to find the motivation to do a lot. Sometimes I want to take a nap. Sometimes I want to watch a movie. Sometimes I want to clean. Sometimes I want to exercise. Sometimes I want to talk to friends. And sometimes I want to stay cooped up in my room and ponder the state of my life and/or the world.

In this mishmash of wants and hopes and goals and laziness, I have found that the number one thing to remember when setting yourself a routine—for any time of day, really—is to find things that fill you up.

Emphasis on the you.

For a long time I was putting so much pressure on myself to be productive, to be active, to only do things that would drive me forward. I was trying to check off boxes of successful people, and do things that would in turn make me (or at least make me sound) successful.  And sometimes I felt so overwhelmed by this pressure that I wouldn’t know where to start, and so I would just scroll on my phone for hours and do nothing, which made me feel worse, and would make the pressure to do “big” things the next day even greater, thus making the chances of me laying on my phone even greater.

It was a vicious cycle.

And so, I decided that my only goal for every afternoon and evening was to do things that make me feel good. Things that filled me up. Me. Not those I saw on social media. Not those who might ask me how my day was. Me. What made me feel like I had a good, enjoyable, and productive afternoon?

As of now, this:

When I get home from work, (time willing) I give myself about an hour to decompress on my bed. That might mean scrolling on my phone. That might mean taking a nap. That might mean finishing an episode of a podcast or TV show that I started earlier in the day. Then I will get up, roll out my mat, and do some yoga.  Then I’ll sit down at my desk and do a section of my prayer journal (right now I’m working through The Between Places by Stephanie May Wilson). Then I’ll grab whichever book I’m reading (right now it’s Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw) and I’ll read one chapter before heading into the kitchen to make dinner.

During dinner, I’ll watch an episode of a TV show (right now I’m watching The Boys on Amazon Prime) and then I’ll take a shower, get into some comfy clothes, and sit down on the couch to do some writing, or work on my counted cross-stitch (don’t come for me and my grandma ways).

Again that’s:

  • Decompress
  • Yoga
  • Prayer Journal
  • Read 1 chapter of a book
  • Dinner + TV
  • Shower
  • Write and/or counted cross-stitch

Obviously this isn’t carved in stone. Sometimes I’m not in the mood for everything on this list, sometimes I’m in the mood for none of it, sometimes I’m in the mood for more. The point is, each of these things fill me up. Each of these things provide me with a little boost of something good. And so when I have the time, I am motivated to do them because I know I will enjoy them.

So if you’re in need for some structure in your day—be that the morning, the afternoon, the evening, weekdays or weekends, look for the things that fill you up. Look for the things that make you excited to do them. Look for the things that help you pass the time rather than allowing the time to pass you.

The Summer Smells

I have a very good (and very sensitive) sense of smell. There have been times my mom has referred to my nose as “a pregnant nose” because of my inane ability to pick up even the smallest scents, and my inability to go down certain aisles in the grocery store (I’m looking at you laundry detergent) because of the scents being too strong.

I am also good at identifying smells. I like to pinpoint it down to the finest detail. For example, I might say something like, “does it smell like blue raspberry jolly ranchers in here to you?” or “why does this soup smell like Christmas?”

Scents are big memory keepers for me. And sometimes when I smell something familiar it stops me in my tracks, and I am taken back to wherever or with whomever the scent pertains to. And while most of the scents outside, and even inside right now, are sadly riddled with smoke, there have still been summer smells that have brought back some good (and minorly traumatic) memories:

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1) Wet grass

The other day I walked across a wet lawn and I was immediately taken back to an early morning soccer game. I could hear the rustling of kids and parents trying to find which field they had to be on, and I could feel the damp blades of grass being kicked up with each passing pair of feet. I hated playing soccer, but I loved putting on my uniform and cleats and feeling official. I also loved the coupon for a free snack bar Popsicle we got at the end of every game.

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2) Chlorine

Whenever I smell chlorine I think of myself as a 10 (and then 11, 12, and 13) year old girl trying to learn how to dive off a family friend’s diving board, and never quite figuring out how. I can feel the water in my nose, hear the splash of other kids doing cannonballs, see the fluttering toes of my sister doing a handstand in the shallow end, and hear the encouraging words from my parents and their friends asking me to try again. Which I did, again, and again, and again, to no avail.

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3) Barbecues

There are few things that give me an immediate, cozy, summery feeling than the smell of a backyard barbecue. When I was little and my family would go over to friends’ houses to swim or have game nights, there was always something on the grill. And being a girl with mostly simple pleasures when it comes to food—especially when I was young—I love a homemade cheeseburger that you awkwardly eat off a paper plate in your lap, while trying to keep track of your fork so you can eventually transition into your helping of macaroni salad, all the while ensuring you leave enough room in your stomach to have a homemade cookie later.

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4) Sunscreen

I have competing memories when it comes to sunscreen. On the one hand, there is the beach. There are the long days spent swimming in the ocean, trying my hand at boogie boarding and getting womped by the waves enough times to retire from boogie boarding at age 12. There is the sound the ice chest made when you dragged it through the sand and the wonder at how good the snacks inside the ice chest tasted after you’d be out in the sun for a few hours. There are sandcastles and digging for sand crabs, and there are sandy walks to the showers and drives home with wet hair. On the other hand, there is pure trauma. When I was around seven or eight, I got sunburned on my shoulders so bad that they bubbled and blistered; when I was 17, I got sunburned on the back of my calves so bad that they peeled for an entire month afterward; and my personal favorite, when I was 13 I went water skiing and didn’t put any sunscreen down the center part of my hair and burned my scalp, making it look like I had thick, mutant dandruff for weeks to follow. So while sunscreen smells like fun in the sun and overall sun safety, it also smells like a lesson I learned the hard way—more than once.

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5) A summer night

This smell is hard to describe but without a doubt one of my favorite smells in the whole world. It’s that combination of the warm weather, the slight cool breeze that starts to sneak in the screen door after dusk, and the hint of water from the neighbors’ sprinklers that just kicked on. Plus there’s the wide open night sky, the quiet swishes of the ceiling fan, the distant chatter of neighbors sitting on their back patios, and, when you’re little, the knowledge that you don’t have any homework to do. To this day summer nights feel so light and free, even when I know I have to get up for work, or take my trash barrels out, or do my laundry, just as I would at any other time of year. Summer nights just have that magic about them that makes you feel like you might end up anywhere. Maybe you buy a spontaneous ticket to a baseball game, maybe you drive down to the beach just to watch the sunset, maybe you see a movie and then walk down the street eating a double scoop ice cream cone.

This summer, obviously, is a little different than most, and for many it is impossibly tough and completely void of those special nostalgic smells. If that’s you, I hope this post can find you and not only remind you of some good things, but encourage you toward the good things awaiting you on the other side of this hard season.

A Minute Past Midnight

There is a clock hanging on the wall in my bathroom that never tells the right time. I have changed the batteries, I have checked to see if it is hanging straight and flush with the wall, I have changed the nail it hangs on, I have taken it off the wall and blew on it Nintendo 64 style, but no matter what, after a matter of hours or, if I’m really lucky, a day, the clock goes back to having a mind of its own. Choosing hours and minutes seemingly at random, making my incessant glancing at it while I get ready in the morning absolutely pointless.

And so, a few weeks ago, I took the batteries out.

I thought briefly about buying a new clock, but since I wear a watch, and have now grown used to using the series of notifications I get every morning as my gage on whether or not I’m running late, I didn’t immediately feel a need to.

So, I set the hour hand to 12 and the minute hand to 1, and then hung my broken clock back on the wall.

That way, whenever I go in to get ready in the morning, or walk in to go to the bathroom after work, or step out of the shower, or touch up my makeup, or sit on the edge of my bathtub to overthink something weighing on my mind, I can look up at the clock and see it showing me a minute past midnight. No matter what time of day, no matter what kind of day, no matter what I did or didn’t do or how good or bad I might feel, I can look up at the clock and be reminded that I can start over. I can’t redo what’s already been done, I can’t take back what’s already been said, I can’t uncringe the cringe that’s been cringed. But I can take a deep breathe and start over again in that moment. I can accept that whatever happened has happened and I can start to move forward to something new.

For Anyone Else Who is Opening and Closing and Scrolling and Sighing

I wrote this a little while back, but it has been resonating with me lately so I wanted to share.


 

It’s 7:00 p.m.

I’m alone, my roommates aren’t home from work yet, and I’m lying on my bed with a towel in my hair. I unlock my phone and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll, and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open YouTube and I watch a few videos with my head resting on a pillow, my hair making it damp through the towel and my feet kicking off the end of my bed.

I drop my phone on my bed and I walk into the bathroom. I take the towel off and hang it up, then run a brush and some product through my hair. I walk back to my bed and pick up my phone. A red notification shows up on Facebook. It’s a friend request from someone I don’t know, so I block it, and then I take a few seconds to scroll. At some point I lay back down on my stomach and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it.

I sigh.

I walk downstairs. While I make dinner, I leave my phone on the table so I won’t look at it. I open my computer and open Hulu, with subtitles, so I can watch an episode of something while I cook. Ten minutes later, a notification goes off on my phone. I look over at it on the table, and then I turn back to the stove and my computer. I finish cooking and set my dishes in the sink to do later. With a spoon I scoop myself a healthy serving onto a plate, then I grab a fork, a glass of water, and my phone en route to the couch, where I turn on the TV.

My food is hot. I put a pillow on my lap and I blow softly on the plate while unlocking my phone and opening Instagram. Hardly anything new has been posted, so I go to the discover page and I scroll and scroll and scroll until I learn more about a stranger’s life than I have ever known about some of my friends. When I realize I haven’t turned on the television, I put my phone down and scoot it away from me on the end table, and then I start eating.

When I finish eating, I put my plate on the end table and I clutch onto the pillow in my lap while I watch television. I like this show, but at some point I’m looking at my phone again. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but it feels like I should keep looking. When I don’t find anything, I put my phone down again and I go into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

I want to write tonight. To be productive. Maybe go to bed early so I’ll feel better tomorrow. I walk upstairs and sit down at my desk. I throw my phone on my bed so I won’t look at it, but then I walk over and pick it up because I decide I want to listen to music. Just music, I tell myself. But when I hit a snag in what I’m writing, I’m back on my phone, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

It’s 9:00 p.m. now and there is still nobody home. I’m tired. I want to say it’s because I went to the gym earlier, but it’s not my muscles that hurt. I want to say it’s because I woke up early for work, but I’ve been doing that for years. I lean back in my chair and let the exhaustion set in while I continue scrolling. When I find a tweet someone wrote about feeling tired, I feel understood, and I feel better.

For a second.

I throw my phone back on my bed. I need to write. If I write I can move forward, and if I move forward I will feel happy. But I’m too tired today. Today I need a break. I get up and walk over to my bed. Reaching for the remote on my bedside table with one hand, I pull my phone towards me with the other. With my index finger, I tap the screen, looking for notifications, texts, missed calls, anything, but there’s nothing there, so I flip it over. I pick a movie and I lay back on my pillow. I pick up my phone and I turn it in my hands. It’s just a fidget, but when I happen to turn it in a way that makes the screen light up, I glance down at it—just to check.

It’s 10:30 p.m. now and there is still no one home. One roommate said she’s working late, and the other texted to say she’s grabbing drinks with a coworker. So for now, maybe even for tonight, I’m alone. It’s just me. And it’s quiet. I pick up my phone and I scroll and scroll and scroll, but nothing helps. There’s nothing there. Or if there is, I can’t find it. Should I keep looking? Should I follow new people or unfollow those I’m no longer closer to? Should I post something? Should I take something down? Is there anything I can do to break this silence? Anything to make me a little more visible?

That’s what it is, I’m just not loud enough. If I was louder, people would hear me, they would see me, they would talk to me. I should post something. A picture or a blog or a tweet. Something funny. Something sweet. Something that makes people think or laugh or just simply answer. I should post something.

I scroll.

It’s 11:00 p.m. My eyes are heavy now and my stomach hurts. The house is quiet. My room is quiet. But my head is so loud. My phone is on the charger and I’m wondering whether or not I’m upset. Am I mad at my roommates? Am I mad at myself? Am I mad at all? Maybe I’m sad. Maybe I’m lonely. Or maybe I’m just tired. That’s it. I’m tired. I should go to bed.

I scroll.

Tomorrow I’ll do better, I think to myself. Tomorrow I won’t look at my phone. Maybe I’ll even leave it at home. No, what if I have an emergency? What if I need to call someone? What if someone sends me a text or a Snapchat or tags me in an Instagram photo or mentions me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter or posts a good YouTube video. Not that I care about that stuff. People know where to reach me. They could call my work if it was really an emergency. Plus, if I leave my phone at home, I bet by the time I get off work I’ll have so many notifications. And when I tell everyone I left my phone at home and just saw this, they’ll think I’m cool and casual and don’t need my phone—like the rest of the world. Which I don’t. I barely even look at my phone.

I turn my phone on silent. I don’t need all of the upcoming notifications keeping me awake. I turn over, then wonder if people are texting me. Namely that guy I like. I’m sure he’s apologizing for waiting so long to text me back. My friends from high school and college are probably sending me quick messages to let me know how much I mean to them. And my sister might have posted something about me on Instagram that people will think is funny and endearing and make them wish they were in my inner circle of friends. People are probably commenting on my blog, letting me know how much it means to them. I bet my follower count is increasing by the minute.

I roll over and pick up my phone. Nothing.

Right.

I don’t care.

I was just curious what time it was.

I turn back over and close my eyes. I’m glad I’m not one of those people who think their worth can be found in their phone. I bet they’re miserable.