Homemade Shampoo — the Best Thing to Ever Happen to My Hair

I recently graduated college, which is a pretty big change, and it’s inspired me to try making some smaller changes too. With that in mind, I decided to make the transition to natural, homemade shampoo.

Store-bought shampoo has all kinds of chemicals (seriously, what the hell are ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate and methylchloroisothiazolinone?) that mess up your scalp’s natural state. Many shampoos advertise that they remove the oil from your hair, but when your scalp notices that there’s a lack of oil in your hair, it works overtime to compensate. In the end, shampoo causes your scalp to produce even more oil than it does naturally, which throws your hair off balance. That’s why, if you don’t shampoo for a couple days, your hair feels oily enough to start a grease fire.

Homemade shampoo, on the other hand, doesn’t strip your hair. It works in conjunction with your hair and scalp to keep everything in a soft, smooth, just-enough-oil state of being. If you want to try out homemade shampoo for yourself, here’s my recipe.

I took this picture after my first batch of shampoo, which is why you see a bottle of avocado oil instead of jojoba.

I took this picture after my first batch of shampoo, which is why you see a bottle of avocado oil instead of jojoba.


 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup liquid castile soap* (Dr. Bronner’s is pretty much the go-to on this one. I like the rose-scented one, but the unscented baby mild is great for sensitive skin.)
  • 2 tsp jojoba oil (you can use a different carrier oil if you want to, but I like jojoba oil because it is closest in pH to our skin’s natural sebum)
  • 1/8 tsp peppermint essential oil
  • 1/8 tsp tea tree essential oil
  • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel (Lily of the Valley is a great brand)
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional, but it gives the shampoo more body)
  • 10-15 drops of essential oils (also optional, but will make your shampoo smell delicious and will give you aromatherapy benefits)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Use a whisk to make sure the aloe becomes fully incorporated (no chunks). Put the shampoo into a bottle, and you’re done! Shake the bottle before every use.

* Castile soap (like most soaps) is naturally alkaline, but our scalp is naturally acidic. That’s where the jojoba oil and aloe come in. They are both also naturally acidic, and they help balance the pH of the shampoo so your hair and scalp stay happy.


Some people like to do an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after shampooing. It helps rinse the soap out, keeps your hair from getting greasy, and also keeps your scalp’s pH balanced. I like to use this version from Reformation Acres. It makes my hair feel really soft. If you don’t like that version, though, just use 1-2 TBS of ACV mixed with 1 cup of water.

If you switch to homemade shampoo (which you should, because it’s amazing), you should know that there is an adjustment period. For the first couple weeks or so your hair might seem extra oily. This is normal. Your scalp is still used to overproducing oil, but without the chemical shampoo to get rid of those oils, you’re in grease-fire mode. The ends of your hair also might feel damaged. This is also normal. Chemical shampoo coats your hair so you don’t notice the damage. Homemade shampoo doesn’t coat your hair, so the damage is more noticeable. Once your hair and scalp adjust, though, your hair will be so soft you wan’t be able to stop running your fingers through it.

Those are the basics of homemade shampoo, and I hope you give it a try. Remember to do your research, though. Different natural ingredients don’t work the same on all hair types. What works for someone with thick, oily hair might now work the same for someone with thin, dry hair. Don’t give up, though, if the first thing you try doesn’t work. I’ve been using homemade shampoo for about a month now, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my body. My hair feels so much healthier, softer and fuller. So give it a try!

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Review: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ Overcomes Its Failings with a Heartfelt Story

When Seeking a Friend for the End of the World came out, I missed it in theaters. This was a horrible decision. Then I read some of the reviews, which weren’t awful but weren’t great either, and I put off seeing it again. This was an even worse decision. Now, finally, I made time to sit down and watch it. This was a wonderful decision.

Focus Features

Focus Features

I started this movie thinking it was just a comedy about the end of the world, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Yes, the comedy element was there (and it was good comedy, too), but mainly it was the story of two people who were lost and trying to figure out what they wanted. The end of the film was tonally very different from the beginning, but I didn’t find it abrupt or jarring in any way. The story built up to its end in a way that made sense, and the longer I watched the more I loved it.

The thing I loved most about this film was the relationship between Steve Carell’s and Keira Knightley’s characters, Dodge and Penny. They were two people who were at completely different stages in their lives, but they were also in the exactly the same place. They were lost and unhappy, and with the imminent end of the world they were saddened by the lives they hadn’t lived. But in helping each other get to the people they wanted to see before a giant asteroid crashed into the Earth, the realized they were actually looking for each other. At first their age difference makes it seem like their relationship won’t go in a romantic direction, but when it finally gets there age is the last thing anyone is paying attention to. Dodge and Penny make such a lovely and hopelessly romantic couple that it would have been upsetting if they didn’t end up together.

As I said, the movie ends in a very different place from where it began, but that made the ending that much more powerful. It was no longer about the comedy of living an unfulfilled life; it was about the tragedy of it. There is a very fine line between the two, and this film moved from one side to the other in a wonderful and heartbreaking way. And yes, I cried.

Did Seeking a Friend for the End of the World have its flaws? Of course it did. It was predictable, and the middle of the story could have utilized the end-of-the-world angle a little better, but for her directorial debut Lorene Scafaria made a moving film, and for everything that didn’t go quite right, there was something else that went so well. This is the story of a couple we haven’t seen a million times set against an unexpected backdrop, and that makes it easy to ignore the less than perfect parts of the film. I can’t believe I waited so long to see it, and for anyone who has the same mindset I did, just give it a chance. It’s worth your time, I promise. Just remember to have a box of tissues handy.

4/5

Feminism Fridays: Go Home SCOTUS, You’re Drunk

I would be remiss if today’s post was not about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In a nutshell, the decision stated that the government cannot require closely held for-profit companies, like Hobby Lobby, to violate their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family, who are Christians, felt its religious beliefs were being violated by having to provide coverage to employees for four types of birth control, including morning-after pills and IUDs. These forms of both control are abortifacients, which means they work after an egg has been fertilized. That, under the beliefs of the Green family, is a violation of Christian principles.

The biggest problem with this decision (in my opinion, anyway) is that for-profit companies have now been given the same status as religious institutions. Now, if a religious institution wants to take certain forms of birth control off their health-care plan, that’s fine by me. The people working at those religious institutions almost certainly hold the same religious beliefs as the institution. For-profit companies, however, hire employees who need a job, not employees who are there for religious purposes. And if these family-run companies now have the ability to make health-care decisions based on religious beliefs, how long will it be before all for-profit companies have the ability to make the same decisions?

Salon published an article about the highlights of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, which address some of these same issues. According to the article’s summary of Ginsburg’s dissent:

“Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. … The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.”

Also:

“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

Salon ends with Ginsburg’s views of how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been distorted:

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent.”

This decision has opened the door even wider for religion to take precedence over women’s rights. Every time it seems like women gain ground on our right to control our bodies, something like this happens, and we have to fight that much harder to regain our rights.

I am not protesting religion. I myself am a practicing Jew, and I find great comfort and community from religion. I also know many Christians who are great people and great friends and with whom I have wonderful and intellectual discussions regarding religion. But I also believe we live in a day and age where we have realized that those living in the time the Bible was written lived under very different circumstances. If we still followed the Bible to the letter, we would be killed for cursing our parents. Seriously. According to Leviticus 20:9, as it is written in the New International Version, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.” According to that law, how many of us would be dead now? I certainly would.

The decision has been made, and now we, those women who believe that we, and we alone, should be able to control our bodies, have a decision to make as well. We have to decide whether we will sit back and continue to allow decisions like the Hobby Lobby case to be made or whether will stand up and fight for rights. What will you decide?

Feminism Fridays: This Is a Thing I’m Doing Now

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’ve decided to do a new weekly post regarding feminism. I haven’t been great about blogging regularly, and hopefully this will help keep me on a better schedule. Also, feminism! Yay!

Some of you may be cheering with me. Others may be groaning. That’s ok. My hope is that this first Feminism Fridays post will turn your groans to cheers as well. It will be less about feminism in general and more about my own experience with feminism. So stick around, please, and maybe I’ll change your mind about what it is to be a feminist. For those of you who aren’t groaning, feminism! Yay!

So without further ado, here is the first weekly Feminism Fridays post.

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I didn’t always consider myself a feminist. In fact, I used to actively disengage with the word “feminism.” It was not something I wanted to be associated with. When I was younger, the only thing I knew about feminists were that they hated men, they took themselves too seriously, they had no sense of humor, and I didn’t like them. I unfortunately did not have access to the kind of information that would show me what feminism is really about. Yes, the Internet has all that info, but I wasn’t looking to learn about feminism because no one told me that what I thought I knew wasn’t the whole story.

When I finally got to college, I began to learn more about feminism and women’s studies. I heard enough from peers and professors to actually look into feminism and see what it’s all about, and, gradually, I began to identify as a feminist.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t feminists out there who hate men, who take themselves too seriously, and who have no sense of humor. They don’t however, make up the majority of feminists, just like not all whites are white supremacists, not all Jews are doctors and lawyers, and not all blondes have more fun. The bra-burning, armpit hair-bearing, men-hating feminists are the stereotype. (Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with bearing armpit hair. You probably shouldn’t burn bras though. They are expensive. You also probably shouldn’t hate men. Sometimes they just don’t know any better.)

The problem is that there is not enough education about what feminism is, at its core, actually about. Even as I write this, I’m still not one hundred present sure what constitutes a textbook feminist. I’m not sure anyone does. But that’s part of feminism. It’s giving women the opportunity to choose who they want to be and how they want to act. Feminism is being able to not shave and show the world that woman don’t need to conform to social standards of beauty. Feminism is being able to shave and show the world that this isn’t for the men who find it beautiful. It’s for us. Feminism is giving women the power to choose. It’s raising women up to know that we are beautiful, we are strong, and we are good enough.

I hate that I didn’t learn more about feminism before college. I hate that I didn’t have many women in my life to teach me that women are powerful, and that we can do anything we set our minds to, even if society doesn’t think we should. I hate that young girls are taught to be pretty instead of smart. I hate that they’re shown how much society values their sexuality more than their minds. I hate that this is still a problem.

Feminism is not something to be feared, like I once did. It is something to embrace. It is something to teach the next generation. We as women have a duty to show young girls what women can do, to show them that we are not objects. And men have a duty to teach young boys that women do not exist for their pleasure, and that strong women do not immaculate them. We all have a duty to embrace feminism and teach future generations what equality looks like.

I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, but I’m saying again because no seems to be hearing it yet, not really. So help me spread the message, and welcome to Feminism Fridays.

Step Aside, Teens. Benjamin Percy’s “Red Moon” Is a Tale for the Masses.

percy_RedMoon_TPI recently finished Red Moon by Benjamin Percy, and it is quite honestly one of the most intense novels I’ve read recently. It is a kind of alternate history of the United States, clearly meant to speak to those of us living in post-9/11 America. Although, rather than tell a story about xenophobia toward Arabs and Muslims, the characters in Red Moon are fearful of werewolves (or, as they are called in the book, lycans). Stay with me. This is not Twilight or True Blood or any of the many horror books and movies and shows aimed at teens. This is literary horror that Stephen King and Dean Koontz readers have been hoping would emerge in this new generation of writers.

The lycans of Red Moon have been around since the seventh century. Their condition is caused by a prion called lobos. It is a blood-borne contagion, similar to a virus, which affects certain areas of the brain that control stress-related functions. When lycans change, they don’t turn into wolves. They become hairier, their teeth sharpen to points, their nails turn to claws, but they are still human. They are less the mythical werewolves we’re used to and more people with hulk-like abilities.

In Red Moon, lycans are treated as second-class citizens. They are required to register, and, even though they can control the change on their own and can function as normal human beings, they are required to take monthly blood tests to ensure they are taking Volpex, a drug which inhibits their transformation. Non-lycans are afraid of lycans, and that fear is reinforced by splinter groups of lycan terrorists fighting for their right to be treated the same as everyone else. Most lycans, however, are not a radical as those in the splinter groups and just want to live normal lives (sound familiar?).

Those lycans who wanted a homeland where they could live freely created the Lupine Republic, situated between Russia and Finland, in 1948. However, when the U.S. discovered a boat-load of uranium un the Republic, they occupied it and began mining the uranium. Most U.S. troops are sent there until the lycan terrorists back home set off a nuclear explosion.

There are parts of this book which are not fully realized, mainly the characters. Claire and Patrick, the novel’s two teens, have an ongoing and complicated romance throughout the novel. They don’t grow that much, though. They move from one tragedy to the next, and they become harder, but they are relatively unchanged from the beginning of the book to the end. Chase Williams, a politician who is as against lycan rights as you can imagine, is turned into a lycan. Even that, however, doesn’t change his mind. He remains so far to the right in his beliefs that he seems less like a person and more like a vehicle for Percy to make a point. Many of the other characters exist more in the background than anything, and Percy sometimes seems unsure of what to do with them.

In the end, though, Red Moon is still a very impressive book. Percy’s prose is almost poetic at times. He describes violence in a way that makes it seem almost beautiful, which, in turn, makes it even more horrifying. I saw the whole book in my head so clearly it was hard for me to put it down. Percy’s descriptions are so clear I felt like I was there. And while the characters might not be as fully developed as they could be, Red Moon is, at its heart, an allegory for the world we live in. The lycans represent many of the minorities at the forefront of the tragedies and discussions of the last few decades. The resettlement and registration of the lycans is like that of the Jews during the Holocaust. The protesting lycans are reminiscent of the 1960s civil rights movement. The medical context of the virus that infects lycans, and the fear and lack of understanding of that virus, mirrors the initial scenes of the AIDS epidemic. And, of course, the Islamophobia of today’s post-9/11 America is possibly the biggest comparison Percy makes with his lycans.

I don’t know if Percy is trying to make a point one way or the other with Red Moon. Arguments could certainly be made for both sides. Rather, I believe Percy is merely trying to make readers question our thoughts and actions in today’s world. His novel goes to extremes, but I think that is to show us what could happen if we continue on our current path. In any case, Red Moon is an intriguing and intelligent read, and you would do yourself a disservice if you didn’t go pick up a copy right now.

Good Hummus Is Key to the Process of Discovery

Processed with VSCOcam with e3 presetA couple weeks ago I returned home from my second trip to Israel. I could have written this post then, when everything was still fresh in my mind and home didn’t quite feel real again yet. I wanted to wait till now, though, so that I could get used to real life again, so that I could look back on my trip and remember the things that were truly important (like hummus).

The trip I went on was called Birthright. It is a ten day trip offered to Jews, and it’s free. That’s how important Israel is to Jews. The country, along with private citizens, pay for Jews to come to Israel and experience the country in a way that the media never shows us. In Hebrew, the trip is called Taglit. Taglit means discovery, and that was exactly what this trip offered. It gave me, and the other forty North Americans and eight Israelis, a chance to discover Israel, to discover Judaism, to discover ourselves.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI could spend all day talking about the things we did there. We visited the Old City of Jerusalem, visited a desert oasis, rode camels, slept in a Bedouin tent, climbed Mt. Masada and watched the sun rise, swam in the Dead Sea, experienced the Tel Aviv nightlife, and so many other things. That’s not to mention the food. I could spend a day alone talking about hummus, falafel, shawarma, pita, bamba, and, again, so many other things. All of those things, however, are surface discoveries. They are memories that will fade over time. I will forget how uncomfortable riding a camel actually is. I will forget how soft my skin was when I washed off the Dead Sea mud. I will forget what the sun looks like rising over mountaintop ruins that are thousands of years old. I will forget how good Yemenite hummus is compared to Sabra (no offense, Sabra). What I won’t forget are the things I learned there. Israel has problems, just like everywhere else. The conflict with Palestine is not the only thing to focus on in Israel, just like we often focus on the wrong things in our lives. There are some things worth fighting for. Family is everything. Judaism is more than its stereotypes. It is a culture, a way of life. Questioning what we don’t understand should be encouraged, not punished. We need to remember our past so we don’t make the same mistakes. Learning and discovering is an active process. We can’t allow ourselves to become so complacent that we stop moving forward.

Processed with VSCOcam with n3 presetSometimes we get so wrapped up in our lives, so comfortable in our routines, that we stop noticing the world around us. We stop trying new things. Traveling helps remind us what we love about our homes, but it also introduces us to new things. Unfortunately, traveling is not something most of us can do often. Fortunately, though, most of us also don’t need to travel far to break our routines. So go somewhere different for lunch (have some hummus), take the long way home, explore a neighboring city, listen to a new band, go on a hike, buy yourself that thing you’ve been wanting forever but haven’t been able to justify. Read the news, educate yourself, contribute to your community. There are so many different ways to keep your life exciting and discover new things. You just have to be willing to try.

Processed with VSCOcam with e6 presetThis was not my first time in Israel. Some things were familiar to me, some things we completely new. This country has so much to offer, so much to discover, and it will always have a place in my heart. It will always be home. It is hard to describe to a non-Jew what Israel means to me, to Jews everywhere, but many of use the word “home.” It is the one place in the world we can go to and move from the minority to the majority. It is the one place we have that was created for us. Coming home from Israel is an interesting feeling. It feels more like leaving home, actually, like when your parents are divorced and you split your time between two homes. I’m back in America now, but Israel is still home, and I will keep its lessons with me. Eventually I will go back, and I will learn new things and bring them back to my daily life here. Until then, however, I will do my best to remember the important things (and to find some quality hummus). And if you ever get the chance to go on Birthright, DO IT, and savor it. You only Birthright once.

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P.S. If you want to see more photos and in-depth descriptions of my trip, check out my Instagram page here, or find me on the app @jordynmyah.

Another Year Older, Another Year Better

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My birthday was two days ago. It’s been an interesting year. This time last year I celebrated by having a party at my apartment. I spent most of that time wishing I could go in my room, shut the door, and just be alone. Things only got worse from there. I isolated myself, stopped doing my work, withdrew from society, cried a lot. I’ve been depressed pretty much since I started puberty, but last year was one of the worst. There were days I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was empty.

Then, in February, I started seeing a therapist again. I started taking antidepressants. I left my apartment, hung out with friends, became motivated to do things again. For the first time in a long time I felt like a person again. So this year my birthday I went out to dinner with friends, stuffed my face full of pizza and garlic rolls, and came home to wine and cookie cake. It was a great night. It felt kind of like New Year’s, like a clean slate, a fresh start. It felt like a chance to be better.

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So here I am. Another year older. Another year wiser. Another year to figure myself out. It doesn’t matter how well we think we knew ourselves. We’re always changing. There’s always something new to learn. This year I plan to listen to myself better. I usually know what I want, but I either have a hard time convincing myself I’m right, or I have a hard time gathering the confidence to go through with what I want. So my goal for the next year is to stop doubting myself and to know that I can both do what I set my mind to and know that I am deserving of the things I want.

 

I think we take our birthdays for granted. We often see them as excuses to get presents or hang out with friends or get free Grand Slams from Denny’s. But birthdays are more than that. Our birthday is a day to look back at where we’ve been and how we’ve changed, and it’s also a day to look forward to what we can be.

When is your birthday? How have you changed in the past year? What do you want to be?

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Asking for Help Is Not a Surrender

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 presetI saw my first therapist when I was eight years old. My parents had just gotten divorced, and they wanted to make sure my brother and I were dealing with it ok. I don’t remember much about therapy then. Ken, my therapist, had a ponytail. I put some puzzles together, which I think was supposed to be some representation of how I was handling everything. The whole experience felt strange.

I saw my second therapist when I was fourteen. I had just started high school, and after three years of dealing with depression under the guise of “teen angst” and “it’s just a phase,” I knew I needed some help. My dad took me to Dr. Shinitzky. Shinitzky was a nice Jewish name. I only saw him for about a month. He kept pointing out my failings, and I always felt worse after I left his office. I don’t know if it was his fault or mine that therapy wasn’t working. It was probably a little of both. All I knew was that I still wasn’t happy.

For the next seven years I made excuses for my depression. Freshman year of college was hard for a lot of people. Of course being back in Florida was less fun than spending a semester in England. I did poorly in school because my family was going through a lot. But eventually I ran out of excuses. I isolated myself. I spent all my time in my room. I went straight home after class. I didn’t go out. I barely spoke to my roommates. I lost interest in everything. I cried often, and when I wasn’t crying, I slept. I had struggled with depression for ten years, but I had never felt so empty, so helpless. I knew, again, I needed help.

I told both my parents what I was going through, and they encouraged me to not only see someone but to think about trying medication. My mom took antidepressants when she first got sober. My dad started taking them around the same time, when he and my mom got divorced. Knowing that they had both been through what I was going through helped me make my decision.

I started seeing my third therapist a couple months ago. I also started taking an antidepressant. I tried Zoloft first, and I had side effects bad enough to land me in the ER for a few hours early one morning with a grumpy nurse who jammed an IV in my arm unceremoniously enough to cause some pretty good bruising. Not a great start. But then I tried Celexa, and after a few weeks I felt like an actual person again.

The meds have been giving me some insomnia, but it’s nothing a cup of herbal tea before bed can’t fix. Other than that, I feel better now than I’ve felt in years. I’m motivated and excited to be around people again. I don’t get anxiety attacks when I sit down to do work anymore. After years of feeling like I’ve been sleepwalking, I finally feel awake again. (Yes, I know that is a horrible cliché, but it is honestly the best way I can think of to describe what I’m going through.) And unlike the last couple times, therapy is actually helping me.

I don’t tell you all this for pity or anything like that. I tell you this because I think it’s important to get the word out that depression and anxiety are not mere phases or things you can talk yourself out of. For a long time I told myself any number of things to convince myself that I was fine. And because I wasn’t on the most extreme end of depression, I thought I wasn’t depressed at all. A lot of people are afraid to ask for help. Some people don’t even realize they need it. It took me years to reconcile with the idea that I needed help.

I’m still working on what it is exactly that triggers my depression and anxiety, but the point is that I am in fact working on it. It took a lot of courage to ask for help and to realize that some of that help might come from medication. It’s still taking a lot of courage to look at myself and try to figure out how to be a happier person. But even just realizing that I do have the power to be happy is a big step for me. Yes, part of that happiness comes in the form of a small orange pill, but I’m ok with that.

So, like I said, I’m not telling you this to call attention to myself. I’m telling you this to encourage anyone who might be reading this to get help if they need it. There is, unfortunately, still a stigma surrounding mental health issues and medication for said issues, and I know that this one blog post in some small corner of the Internet is not going to change the way the world thinks about mental health. It might, however, change the way a few people think about mental health, and that’s all I’m trying to do.

On the Benefits of Binge Reading

9780385754309_custom-8006d202f8bdaddd4b2db22ad6cbfa6b75854575-s2-c85This weekend I did something I haven’t had the time to do in a while: I binge read. Scandalous, I know.

About a month ago I saw a screening of The Spectacular Now. I didn’t realize it was a book until after I had already seen it, which, I’m slightly ashamed to say, does happen sometimes. But on Friday a friend lent me the book, and I took it home, sat on the couch, and didn’t move for the next two days.

There’s something wonderful about binge reading. Sure, sometimes I like to make a book last. Sometimes I simply don’t have the time to read it all at once. But every now and then I will get so engrossed in a story that the only thing I want to do is be in it as thoroughly as possible. The Spectacular Now is one of those stories. It is about being a teenager and growing up and falling in love and struggling with who you are. It’s about life, and it’s real.

I stepped out of my own world this weekend and into the world that Tim Tharp created. The windows were open and a breeze kept making the curtains flutter. The Wooden Birds (an amazing band, check them out) played in the background on repeat. I forgot to eat at regular intervals, although this is a common occurrence when I’m reading something so delicious I forget I need physical sustenance too.

I’m not saying you need to read The Spectacular Now — well, no actually I am. You should read The Spectacular Now. But even if you don’t, you should take a weekend and just read. Put on some good background music, sit in a room (or outside) where the natural lighting takes care of everything, and just read. Immerse yourself in a world that isn’t your own. It’s the best kind of escape there is.

An October Night at the Fair

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Last October my best friend Dragana and I went to the local fair. Recently I found some of the photos and I thought I’d share them with you because it was such a great night. We hadn’t spent one-on-one time in a while, and the fair seemed like a wonderful place to do it. So here’s to Dragana, and to best friends everywhere.

2012-10-27 20.37.58-12012-10-27 21.08.51-12012-10-27 20.13.04-12012-10-27 21.48.46-12012-10-27 20.41.57-12012-10-27 21.00.15-1We left the fair that night with two stuffed dogs that the carny we won them from named Sandy and Candy. We also won two goldfish, which we named Randy and Glandy (we decided to keep up the rhyme scheme). It was lovely night, and we’re going back again this October.

If you’ve never been to a fair, you’re missing out. Take your best friend. Win a stuffed animal, or maybe a goldfish. Hang out with the carnies. Get on the bumper cars. Don’t be afraid to be the oldest one there, because the kids will show you no mercy. Do what you want with a person you love. You’ll be happy you did.