Category Archives: Life

Day 6: Writing Retreat — Binge Culture Part 2

Almost immediately after publishing my last post, I realized I hadn’t answered my first question on this topic: Why do we binge?

What I really want to know is what the science behind it is. Why are we drawn to addictive behavior? Let’s find out…

Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s difficult to find research on binge behavior that isn’t dedicated to binge eating or drinking specifically. But there are parallels between these, including an addictive and compulsive personality.

Addiction is complicated. It is one of the most pervasive and least understood of maladies. It’s not that we don’t understand addiction per se, but our understanding is controversial. Is it biological? Is it inherited? Is it a disease process? Is it psychological, or psycho-social, or cultural? Is it a characterological disorder or just pervasive poor judgment?

The Continuum of Addiction and Addictive Personality

Personality traits of someone who is inclined to participate in binge behavior can include:

  • Obsessive compulsive
  • Stressed, lonely
  • Passive aggressive
  • Socially isolated
  • Deceptive
  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Ashamed

However, these characteristics are generally used to define an alcohol or drug addict, rather than someone who has an obsessive personality that results in compulsive behavior. So, is there even a link between different types of binge behavior? Is it even something worth exploring?

According to Greatest, yes. Binge behavior is the result of coping with negative feelings that are caused by either psychological, chemical and sociocultural factors. And you can binge on just about anything — food, exercise, shopping, sex and so on.

So, how do you cope with this addictive personality if it starts to become a problem? You should first solicit the help of a professional, who can let you know if it’s the result of a mental health issues. But if you’re using binging to cope with your stress and anxiety, you may be able to self treat. From meditation to writing to acknowledging, there are plenty of was to ensure you’re leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Day 3: Writing Retreat Research

I spent today doing research for my book. This mostly started from working on some of the tasks in “Ready. Set. Novel!” but I’ve since realized it is a necessity for me. My favorite part of writing is digging in and getting the details. It’s not enough for me to have a character respond in a certain way, I want to be able to define why he or she reacted that way.

Here are some of the things I came up with in my research of families across the globe:

  • The “Universal Family” looks different everywhere around the world
    • Think “Modern Family” exemplified
  • Teaching independence is the number one goal of parenting, no matter where you’re from
  • Americans are more likely to have less positive relationships with their families
    • This has a lot to do with the fact that we’re a melting pot of cultures, and the way each culture addresses family is different – thus leading to differences of opinion and difficulties
  • American parents are more concerned with their children’s success and intelligence than parents across the globe
    • We equate money with smarts
  • Culture plays a significant role in dictating what family relationships look like
  • Adult children from countries without federally-funded elder care are more likely to feel responsible for their aging parents well-being
    • This often leads to tension on the relationships between adult children and their parents

Some of this may not be surprising, but I find it informative to our day-to-day interactions. I can definitely see how these different points not only dictate my interactions with my family, but also my future plans of starting a family of my own.

Tomorrow, I look forward to learning more about how we decide which friends are acceptable to introduce into our family, and why sometimes those ending relationships hurt more than anything else.

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Day 2 [Late]: Writing Retreat Tweet

While my Sunday was was derailed by baseball, sunshine and house hunting, I did still write (a little). See below for my NPR poetry submission:

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Why I Love ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ And You Should Too

If you’ve started watching Season 2 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix too there’s a good chance you can’t get that catchy-as-hell theme song out of your head. But do you know where this viral little ditty came from?

Unbreakable!

They alive, dammit!

It’s a miracle.

Unbreakable!

They alive, dammit!

Females are strong as Hell.

As a word nerd, I had to find out what it was he was saying. So today, I Googled it and dove further into my obsession with the show.

Simply finding the lyrics proved tougher than I expected, as I stumbled across multiple pieces discussing the origins of the song. Turns out, not surprisingly, the theme song is the product of a monologue written by producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, according to Vanity Fair. See a clip of character Walter Bankston’s full monologue below, from Netflix’s YouTube page:

While I found it surprising that some viewers thought the above was a legit newscast, there was another point in the article that stood out to me. Vanity Fair refers to Ellie Kemper’s character as being not “just a survivor of a horrific experience, but a very famous one[.]” That got me dwelling on how the silly and sometimes dumb Kimmy Schmidt was so much more than just another unrealistic comedic character to watch.

Turns out, Fey and Carlock were asked by NBC if they’d want to write a show for Kemper. As the two (mainly Fey) go on to explain to E! in an interview, they recognized that Kemper has “this kind of sunniness, but also this strength.” And it was with these two traits and the crazy-horrific backstory that Kimmy’s character was born to create a twist on the standard starting over story.

For me, I think that’s what makes this goofy girl and sitcom so lovable – it is relatable and inspiring. Unlike most of us, Kimmy is able to keep a sunny disposition despite tragically losing out on her childhood. So we get to follow her around NYC as she makes her way, and laugh about it with her. Because there seems to be one thing that Kimmy did learn while living inside that bunker: Bad things happen.

And, as Kemper points out in an interview with E!, Kimmy has the ability to overcome her bad things and not let those experiences define her. Which is what makes this comedy so worth watching. Let yourself be inspired by the pure optimism and strength of a character who may just seem simple at first glance.

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Dear [Baby],

I originally wrote this post about six months ago, but decided to hold off on posting it at this time.


You are precious. Your life has just begun and you have a lifetime of moments ahead of you. And my wish for you is that you get to experience every single one of those seconds. The joyous, the painful, the thrilling, the terrifying, the precious, the bittersweet – all of the good and all of the bad. Take in and savor each and every emotion. Hold on to those memories. Because the adventure ahead is just beginning and you’ll need all that you know, all that you’ve learned to make your journey your own.

When you’re young, the years fly past. Summers seem endless until the snow falls, and before you know it you forget to remember the last browned leave hanging from a tree. And they say that as you get older time seems to move faster with each passing year, but I disagree. I think we stop savoring the moments and truly living each experience that passes us by.

No longer do we whiff the scent of a fresh cut blade of grass as the spring’s rains subside. The first flakes of winter loose their glittery charm. Instead, we’re always ready and waiting for the next big thing – even if it’s happening, right then.

So do grow up, do grow old. But while you do: Live. Experience life.

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Today was a Sad Day

I’m not sure just why, but today was a sad day. It loomed over me on my morning walk. The air was crisp, not as humid as it had been. The sky was fresh blue, but there was something lurking in the distance.

As the day went on, these suspicions were confirmed. A reminder of a court hearing appeared on my Newsfeed – I wished them well (this has been left intentionally vague). Later, the follow up for that hearing’s sentencing was delivered to me via text, and my eyes welled. I was left with so many questions. But there was one thing that mattered the most:

I feel more at peace.

In this life, we are touched by so many. Those who are close to us, related by blood. Those who we pick up along the way, the ones who feel like they were meant to be in your bloodline. But then there are the ones we never meet, the ones whose stories we read, the ones whose lives never directly cross our paths. And yet, somehow, our lives can still be touched by theirs.

To the family who lost their sister, their mother, their daughter too soon: You are in my thoughts.

What’s a Tragedy?

I’m sure if I had a lot of followers, I would get a lot of backlash for what I’m going to say in this post. However, I don’t, so I’m not too worried about it.

With the breaking news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death (may he rest in peace), social media has been set ablaze with grieving fans posting about the “tragedy.” From what I have read, it sounds like this was the result of an overdose – please, correct me if I’m wrong.

Of course, death is a difficult thing for many to warp their heads around, especially when it comes unexpectedly. I don’t blame these people for grieving. However, I do not think that ODing constitutes the same response as an actual tragedy would. In my opinion, a tragedy marks reference to something that was out of the victim’s own control: terrorist attacks, disease, murder. But choosing to pump yourself full of too many drugs and paying the ultimate consequence for those actions? No, that’s not a tragedy.

Now, don’t think that I don’t find the news of Hoffman’s death sad. I am, after all, human – of course I do. I enjoyed his work and think it’s a shame for him to have left this world at just 46. I also wonder what led him to an early grave? There’s always a driving force behind addiction.

I’m hesitant to post this, or at least to link to it on my social media profiles. In no way am I looking to spark a controversy, this is just something I’ve often thought when hearing breaking news of celebrity deaths from over doses, reckless driving and other unhealthy decisions. Shouldn’t I feel safe to feel my thoughts on my personal blog anyway?

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Do Wishes Come True?

Throughout my childhood, I must have spent $100 in pennies, throwing wishes into fountains. Of course, that change never came from my pocketbook. I’d ask my mom, grandma or an aunt, “Can I make a wish?” How does one say no to that?

First, I’d look at the date to see how old the penny was, and then hold it tight in my tiny hands. I’d squeeze my eyes shut tight as I rubbed my wish into the copper. Before tossing it in overhand, I’d open my eyes to ensure it was safely delivered.

Never once did I feel a magical response, as though my wish would be granted. And never once was my wish granted – I know this because that wish was always the same.

At some point, I’m not sure quite when, I stopped wishing on fountains. With this, the hope for my wish slowly faded away.

On this past Christmas Eve, though, I saw a shooting star. It was a brief, magical sight in the clear, dark sky – when I was a child, I would have believed it was Santa’s sleigh. While it had probably been 15+ years since I’d tossed a penny in a fountain, I found that my wish had changed. Yet still, seeing that meteor’s tail glowing behind it as the rock entered Earth’s atmosphere made me wish again.

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I Guess That’s How The Future’s Done

Do you ever hold on to things and you’re not sure quite why? I have knick knacks that make up a well-told history, but really have no meaning. Some may hold some sentimental memories, but there’s no real value in any of it. And no, I’m not talking hoarder-style. I do have a lot of belongings, but the majority of it is clothing and books.

However, there are some things I’ve held on to past their time of need. Some date back years, while other only weeks. For instance, I have a framed photo of my best friend from high school and I on the shelf in my living room. We haven’t spoken since early in college, but I keep that picture on display. I’m not sure why, I just never thought to replace it.

I have a piece of loose leaf paper I once received folded eight times from a stranger when getting off of the bus at my college campus. After a bad day – of which I don’t remember the cause today – I read inspirational words on that paper. When I looked up to see who had turned my day around, I saw no one. It didn’t change my life, but the words written in blue ink have remained tacked to my cork board since.

Every single spare button that’s come attached to a sweater, jacket, shirt or blazer I’ve purchased are bunched together in a small sack. I doubt I’ll ever do anything with one of them, and many are from clothing that’s long gone. Still, I keep them on hand.

I have Beanie Babies, remember those? Not the entire collection from my childhood – those are boxed up somewhere in the basement at my parents’ house. I have four, all of which I believe I’ve obtained since leaving for college, and – if I remember correctly – were given to me by my mom. There’s a pink sock monkey, his name is Poet. The other three are a pig (of course), a giraffe and a bear. Every time I have to find a place to put them, I wonder why they’re still around or how Maize hasn’t de-stuffed them, but still … I keep them.

Yet, in spite of all the things I keep without knowing why, there are other things that must go. Eventually, once treasured cards get tossed in the trash. The now rarely printed photograph gets replaced. Things break, they fall apart, and lose their necessity. Other things, are harder to throw away, but simply need to go so you can let go. Tonight, I did just that.

A bag full of damaged property that held nothing but poor memories was taken out to the alley and shoved into an overflowing garbage bin. The musty smell that had been hidden in a storage room for months was finally removed. The only belong worth saving had been recovered – yes I know the exact date – on November 25, 2012. It was a ring I had adored and feared was destroyed beyond repair. But lo and behold, the first time I ventured into that bag of nightmares, it was found.

I’m not sure why we hold on to faded memories, in our mind’s eye or with physical objects, but we do. What’s in the past is just that, passed. And perhaps it shouldn’t matter, but it does.

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