Posted in Responses

Companion, Partner, or Significant Other

My love interest and I have recently come to the dreaded question: what are we? Are we companions, partners, or significant others? But, that discussion would take a novel with a Spark Notes edition to figure out. Instead, I will enlighten you on my previous experiences with relationships for the prompt of “Companion.” Don’t worry, it will be quick. There are only three:

Number One: The one that cheated

  • Relationship lasted: 1-2 months (tops)
  • Why it ended: he cheated…with my best friend
  • Am I still bitter? Yes, very much so.
  • We met in school, we were friends, and I mistook it as more. He saw it as a great opportunity to get to know my best friend better. They grew so close he decided to date both of us at the same time!

Number Two: Phone Tag

  • Relationship lasted: ???
  • Why it ended: Did it even start? We were like, aware of each other but not really in a relationship?
  • Am I bitter? A little bit, but towards myself. I let it go from a high point to a low point by corresponding through other people and phones. It was…pretty lame. We met, we talked, we were communicating…and then we weren’t anymore. Six months later, he died. Now I guess we’ll never know?

Number Three: The Committed One

  • Relationship lasted: November 2012-Present
  • They are pretty cool
  • I like them a lot
  • Do I see a future in it? Yes, yes I do. (Please don’t prove me wrong in like two years)
  • Once again, I met them in school. I was actually talking to another guy at the time, but I changed gears the more I got to know about both of them. The guy was sweet, but I saw him as more of a friend. Things were weird between us after I started dating the current love interest, but we got over it and became friends again.

 

From the daily prompt: Companion

Posted in Responses

My Existing Crisis With Summer

Summer is a dangerous time for me. I push everything I have into the school year, and then, when classes end, my life essentially ends. I sleep fourteen-hour days, I wash when I need to go somewhere, and I eat anything and everything in my cabinet. Summer is when my busy life comes to an absolute halt and I realize that contrary to what my life looks like to people, I have no life. I love to write, I love to volunteer, and I love to sleep. Otherwise, my summer life is stuck in a lull.

This year, I decided to change that. Instead of staying home and being boring all summer, I decided to do what I love most: stay in school. I signed up to have my part-time college job go over the summer, I signed up for two courses, and I signed up to stay on campus instead of in my parents’ basement. I would be responsible for my scheduling, my meals, and my activities.

Problems so far:

  • I keep forgetting to eat.
    • When you’re responsible for yourself, and only yourself, you forget that their are things your body needs. I often forget to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When I get hungry, I chow on snacks.
    • I forget that their are 5 main food groups, not just Nutella and bagels. I went to Walmart for an already-made salad and my stomach almost wept with joy. While I am losing weight due to lack of food and overeating, my body hates that I am not getting enough fruits and veggies.
  • I forget I have homework
    • Sometimes I am just having too much fun. Other times, it’s straight procrastination. I have yet to miss an assignment, but I feel incredibly productive when I get an assignment done days in advance.
    • It does not help that I work all day and then go to class around dinnertime. For a bit there, I got in the habit of skipping dinner to do my homework and then go to class.
  • I am not communicating with the family.
    • The family does not like this. The truth is, I keep turning off my phone or setting it down and not looking back. The community of eight people that I am living with in the dorm have become my friends for the summer and the people I talk to on a daily basis.
    • I needed a break from the family to become more independent. I want my successes to matter to me, not be expectations of my family. I need to find who I am in college, not who they want me to be. So, on this bullet point alone, 10/10 would definitely do again.

 

Not Problems:

  • I am making so many new friends.
    • Whether it’s people from the other school over or the people right here in my dorm, I am meeting new people constantly. I am developing relationships I didn’t have before and I am learning more about people I knew previously, but never had time to learn more about.
    • My communication skills have improved. Without the full load and the stress from my everyday life, I am not worried about running late and I will actually sit down or stay up late talking to people. I want to ask everyone so many questions.
    • I also don’t have to worry about my parents being bothered if I have people over to eat pizza at 3 in the morning all summer long.
  • I get to go places that I never had time to during the school year.
    • I did not realize we had so many lakes
    • Where did all these pools come from?
    • What is the population of this town?
    • Holy crap, this restaurant actually does serve people!
  • I am responsible for myself, and only myself
    • This is just the most beautiful thing about this summer.
  • I am learning to cook more and take care of myself.
    • I needed to sit down to eat and learn how to cook. My on-the-go lifestyle sucked. Especially since the cafeteria food at my college is awful. If I make it myself, it’s always better.
    • I also needed to realize that I love salad even if other people don’t. It’s okay to make one for myself. Vegetables are the way to go with life (fruit is still kinda gross, though.)
  • I am using technology less.
    • I cut out my phone and TV. If someone needs me, they can e-mail me. Otherwise, it’s hard for me to stay in contact.
  • I am finding things out about myself that I never knew before.
    • This list is way too long.

 

The self-discovery I made this summer? Do what you want, yes, but make it productive. I am knocking out 6 credit hours, making some money, and I am making friends, all at the same time. I am not partially committed to volunteer work for the summer or sitting at home by myself. I actually find myself going on adventures that I never thought I would. A boy that lives in the dorm invited me out to meet his family and they made me delicious Mexican lasagna and I was able to pet kittens from their neighbor lady’s three new litters. It’s sad to think that if I had packed up my dorm room and just gone home at the end of the semester, I would probably be in bed until 1 PM, snuggling my cat, and watching TV. That would be every day, with a few short breaks for taking care of my sisters or going out to do work with volunteer groups, on repeat until the semester began again.

 

I am glad I did my own independent adventure first.

 

In response to the Daily Prompt – SUMMER.

Posted in Pieces

My Two-Week Rule with Unhealthy Relationships

I am a cold-hearted bitch when it comes to ending friendships. Usually, there are signs that the relationship is damaged: it is painful to hang out, it takes a long times to make plans, the friend is a serial no-show, the friend cancels literally at the last second nine times out of ten, or none of my ideas are worth their time. The spectrum goes both ways: either the person does not have the time for me or I do not have the time to commit to the other person, or one of us is uncomfortable giving their time to the other.

Unfortunately, I am human. I attach myself to a person and cannot let them go. That is why I developed a “rule” for myself. I call it the Two-Week Rule. When I suggest using the Two-Week Rule, the conversation goes a little something like this:

“Hello, [insert friend name here]. I have noticed that we’ve been having a “tough time with communicating lately” [insert problem various problem within the quotations]. I suggest that we take a two-week break. For two weeks, we don’t communicate electronically and we avoid all contact with each other unless unavoidable. Even if contact is unavoidable, we limit our communication to what is required of us in the situation. At the end of the two weeks, we will then reevaluate the health of our relationship and what it means to be in this relationship[1].”

While this is the dialogue, the actual process is a lot more complicated. Both parties are aware that they should avoid contact. I know that I have to resist contacting them, despite how the friendship/relationship has been operating until now. I usually delete the conversation history so I am not tempted to text them, even by accident. Over the two weeks, I also begin to use my phone progressively less. I am taking the time to respect my own life without them in it. Toward the end of the two weeks, I have to start asking myself the questions:

  1. Is my life better without this person?
  2. Am I happier without this person?
  3. Was the relationship I shared before with this person equal? / Did this person invest just as much time/love/investment as I did?
  4. Do I miss this person?
  5. Can we fix our relationship?
  6. Will the other person be as willing to fix it as I am?
  7. Is this relationship worth my time/effort/pain to fix?

The two weeks is a wake-up call. Without the person integrated into my everyday life, it is easier to see trends in the relationship or evaluate how much each person was investing. Emotions and memories can sometimes get in the way. I find myself grappling with the emotions left behind by the relationship. Sometimes, the memories are outdated. The person I am dealing with now is not the person I used to know.

I have experienced three personal results from the Two-Week Rule:

  1. I am too attached
    1. In instances where I was the problem, I texted them immediately, either caved halfway through and tried to fix the problem before the two weeks was up, or could not face the facts: this person either does not want to be with me or is not a healthy person to be in my life. When I cannot wait two weeks, I know I have grown too attached. When I am the problem, breaking the friendship off is the hardest. I am now dependent on this person. It is not healthy to be dependent on anyone. Relationships should exist on a plane where you have your own life and so does the other person. To fix it, I redefine the relationship between us so that it is equal or take a break from the relationship in its entirety so I can look at the problems in my own life a little more closely.
  2. They are too attached
    1. If they cannot wait two weeks to contact you (unless a dire emergency), they are too attached. I am not their therapist. I am supposed to be their friend. Their problems do not become my problems unless I make them my problems. If they are dumping on me constantly or treating me in a way that is not respectful/appropriate, I need to cut off the relationship. Either they are developing it too quickly or they are not seeing me as the give-and-take relationship that I want. These are often harder to fix, because the shift is on the other person. Suddenly, the problem is THEM. They will see this as a betrayal. Instead of fighting their problems with them, I am creating one. Usually, friendships are not salvageable unless both parties are willing to make a change.
  3. RADIO SILENCE
    1. Radio silence is both a good sign and a bad sign. Either they are not interested at all and the two weeks was a vacation they desperately wanted or they respected your space enough to give you the time to reevaluate. I have had both. At the end of the two weeks, one girl immediately showed up at my door and demanded we talk. She desperately wanted to remain friends, but I realized that my life had been drama-free since she left. I did not want to be friends anymore and I told her so. Another time, when I met the person again, we spoke as if the two weeks never happened. We worked through the issues that we had pinpointed during our two weeks apart and came out of the two weeks 100% stronger than before.

The Two-Weeks Rule IS NOT a mind game. Some people play around with others’ feelings and operate with the intention of “trying to get a response.” Both parties MUST KNOW that they are conducting the Two-Week Rule. It is also a good idea to determine if you have the time to conduct the Two-Week Rule. Family members are not always the healthiest people to conduct the test with if they live under the same house as you, especially if you cannot end the relationship immediately. Coworkers are the same. When the basis of the relationship is outside forces rather than on personal choice, it is unfair to conduct the test. It is important to know the risks before conducting the test and know that you, the subject, are the priority on your half of the test. No outside forces should be involved and no outside people should be communicating on your behalf or discussing the other person with you. YOU must make your decisions about THEM. Only at the end of the two weeks may they try to change your mind. I recommend that when in doubt, it is best to extend the break rather than engage in a harmful relationship.

[1] Notice the word “relationship.” The Two-Week Rule can also work with romantic relationships. I have used it before in that context, too. The results are actually clearer when it comes to relationship partners rather than friends.

Posted in College Life

When Do You Do Homework in College?

Every college student is different. I mean that. I am one of the crazy few that has my day-to-day, hour-by-hour planned before the week even begins. It is not that I want my schedule that way, it is just that I have very little room for error and if I miss something, there is a very small chance I will remember later. For scheduling alone, I have three calendars: my assignment notebook, my Outlook calendar, and the OH SHIT notebook.

My assignment notebook is set up in a weekly view and color-coded by highlighters. Yellow means “do tonight”, pink means “do later”, and blue means “complete.” It is the simplest form of calendar I have. I will also use the margins for reminders, appointments, deadlines, and test reminders.

My Outlook calendar actually started as a work calendar that escalated very quickly.  I needed to be able to map out where I would be throughout the day for my student position on campus, but once I started adding things, I never stopped. I now list events, appointments, work, and big projects coming up on it. I can also share it with other people so they know where I am and what I am doing in case they get a hold of me. Upon seeing it for the first time, a close friend of mine said, “That is a clusterfuck.” I have to agree and that is my day-to-day schedule.

The “OH SHIT notebook” is for emergency weeks. Instead of being a lined, dated book, it looks like a smaller sketchbook. Only it is not for sketching, it is for prioritizing. Whenever I have an especially busy week, I need to be able to map out assignments and tests by priority, length, and difficulty. I will literally list out the same day in four different ways to be able to squeeze assignments in at different parts of the day. I do not use the OH SHIT notebook daily. The notebook’s primary use is for when I feel like my life is falling apart and I need some way to pick it up, reorganize it, and then put it back together.

My daily schedule is a hot mess. I usually go to bed at midnight, wake up at seven, have breakfast around eight, and go to class at nine in the morning. I usually have class until three in the afternoon with a few fifteen-minute breaks and an hour lunch break. Some days I have an hour of work in between classes. Other days, I just have work after class. Depending on what day it is, I work until eight in the evening or have dinner at six. Last semester I had an evening class that went until eight at night. That meant I work going from seven AM to eight PM five days a week on a concrete schedule. I would then do my homework for four hours until I went to sleep.

On Saturday, I started sleeping until noon to make up the sleep I was missing. Saturday is now the one day a week I do not answer to anyone. I avoid scheduling anything over Saturdays because I know they are a sacred day to me. They are about fun, reconstructing, and sleep. I need to relax so I do not lose my mind.

Sunday has become big project day/homework/prepare for the week coming day. Sunday became the day I hated and loved, all rolled into one. I still wake up later, but once I do, it is back to scheduling for the week that is coming.

Homework in college is an essential part of the process. The lecture is the learning portion, but homework has become application. One skill is required in class, but another outside of class. When it comes to the test, it is important to have both. In my experience, teachers build homework into the structure of the class so well that it can make or break a grade.

My advice for homework?

JUST DO IT.

JUST DO IT

It is okay for your schedule to get hectic in college. Trust me when I say it happens to everyone. The sink or swim that comes into play is when you start to lose control. I remember crying on my dorm room floor for an hour during finals week because I did not know what to study, when, and how to study it. I would burn myself out. Time management kept me alive. I knew that by blocking off time, I would at least have the time to invest into studying. I am not going to lie, there were times I caved and spent the time labeled for “studying” doing something that was definitely not studying. When your feel the burnout coming, sometimes all you can do is anything else besides what you need to do. I usually freaked out about it later and went crying to somebody’s office, but I dealt with it.

first i panicked

My worst experience from last semester was having three papers due on the same Friday. As an English Major, I can say that in my experience it is essential to get a paper approved by the instructor before moving forward with it. I had two English papers and one long History research paper all due, one of which I had all semester to do. For the History paper, I cranked out half at the beginning, realized I had a strong start, and put it away for four months. When the other two papers materialized and I realized hell on Earth was approaching, I spent most of my time on the other two papers before finally sitting down with the last paper for History. I finished it, twelve pages of glory, and went to meet with each of my instructors individually. One English professor was rough with corrections he wanted, the other English professor thought I was doing great and just wanted it cleaned up, and my History professor sat me down, gave me a long speech on how beautiful it was, but that he wanted an idea added that was another three-to-five pages of investment.

A few small tears turned into a full-blown waterfall.

I am not ashamed to admit I cried in his office. I had three papers due the next day and a list of corrections for all three, but I mentally had not been ready for such a huge change to a paper I saw as whole. He did not want me to scrap the paper; he just wanted a bit more “controversy” as he put it. My paper was too clean cut for his liking. He gave me a few gentle pointers, I thanked him for his time, and turned in the paper the next day with an added four and a half pages. I received a 100% and then I cried for two days. Stress kept me going, but once I got the grade, I needed some time to recover from the burnout. I treated myself to ice cream, Taco Bell, and hours of sleep.

Embrace time management, planning, and self-love when it comes to college and things will be smoother. If it becomes too much, lower your hours of work or drop a class. Next semester, I will be taking only 15 credit hours instead of 18.5 credit hours. I also recommend talking to your advisor. My advisor repeatedly said I could do it, which made me believe I could, too. If the stress overcomes your day-to-day life, I recommend counseling services. Most colleges in the United States offer services free to their students. If you are struggling, always seek help. It might be scary or intimidating at first, but your body and stress level with thank you in the end. College is a stressful time. Take it one day at a time.

Posted in Responses

Perfection to Me

I wanted this to be more of a poetic exercise. I asked my partner what they thought was “perfection” to me and then I made a list of things I thought were perfect. Comparing the sticky notes, here were our responses:

My Responses:

  • Newly unwrapped textbooks
  • Fresh stationary
  • Clean printer paper
  • Things when they first come out of the box
  • Laminated things

 

Their Responses:

  • the Walmart clearance section
  • Mega Stuffed Oreos
  • Spicy Food
  • Taco Bell
  • A clean room

 

Their answers were ten times better than mine. Maybe I set the bar for perfection a little bit too high?

 

In response to the Daily Prompt – Perfection.

Posted in Responses

The Open-Book Policy

Lying scares me. It comes too easily, we use it too often, and when people lie, they sometimes get this electric rush of emotion that they enjoy. I am scared of people who lie and I am scared of myself when I lie. That is why I try to live my life with the “Open-Book Policy.” However, as I have gotten older, sometimes the fact that I live like an open book is just as scary to people who lie casually as people who lie casually are scary to me.

How do you live your life being an open book? It’s kind of like that movie, “Yes Man.” The premise of the movie is that whenever someone asks you to do something, you say yes. The main character agrees to do a bunch of things against his better judgement and eventually finds he enjoys it. However, over time, he strains his relationships. Living as an open book can have the same effect: honesty is the best policy, but sometimes, honesty is not what people want.

If you want to know how I feel about the dress, I am going to tell you.

If you want to know whom I am voting for, I am going to tell you.

If you want to know if I dislike like you, I am going to tell you.

If you want to know my stance on abortion, I am going to tell you.

When someone asks a deeply personal question or one with a negative response, I will often deflect it. Questions like, “Do you really want to know the answer?” and “Why does that question matter to you?” arise a lot more often. It is an attempt to have the person asking the question reevaluate why they are asking.

I also get satisfaction from always trying to be honest. Sometimes, I learn more about people by being vulnerable and honest than I could have in any other way. My writing also improves, because I am writing just as it happened to me. I am more skeptic of myself sometimes, I put a lot of responsibility on myself, but I think that is healthy. The confidence comes from self-reflection: I have reasons for my choices and it makes me comfortable in my own skin.

The daily post prompt:  Open

Posted in Personal Posts

Welcome!

My name is Jessica and I am the writer of “The Girl in the Squid Hat.” I am a sophomore in college and I will be turning 20 in less than three months. I have two younger sisters and a brother. I also tend to swear, so consider this a warning for what is coming.

The blog was actually created months ago, when I entered college, but I did not have time to write for a while. I began planning some of my posts instead. Now that summer is here and I am attending school part-time and working part-time, I will try to start writing a bit more.

If you have any comments/questions/concerns, feel free to send them my way.

Thanks for visiting!