Let Me Eat Cake

So, I had pretty much the worst day ever. After crying my eyes out and self-medicating with a couple of spicy tuna sushi rolls, I still felt like something was missing, and decided that the answer, as usual, was probably cake.

You would solve all of my problems.

You would solve all of my problems.

It’s about 11 degrees in Manhattan right now, so running out to grab cake was a big “no,” and I don’t have any cake mix, but then, brilliance struck: I’ll make a mug cake!

In the magical land of Pinterest, mug cakes abound. One search for recipes will give you about 3248392832 results, and most of them look delicious and fluffy, albeit a little…over-involved.

Yes, you look reasonable.

Yes, you look reasonable.

Despite the errant “crazy cake,” I was still pretty confident I could handle making just about anything that was cooked in a mug. Most of the recipes only call for about 5 ingredients at most, and even though I don’t have any cocoa powder in my apartment (which ruled out the gorgeous monstrosity pictured above), I figured there had to be some sort of easy vanilla-based cake recipe floating around somewhere. I ended up stumbling upon this little gemstone for a “funfetti” mug cake, which didn’t call for any eggs or baking soda (I don’t have those, either), and I felt good about it.

Cute, right?

Cute, right?

I followed the directions, aside from swapping out funfetti sprinkles for miniature chocolate chips, and mixed up the flour, baking powder, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and oil with only the utmost care…and still ended up with this.

...okay.

Womp womp woooomp.

Disappointing, but I figured, hey. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Beauty is only skin deep. Whatever. Plus, it looked pretty yummy when I went in for the first spoonful.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

I was wrong. You were as nasty tasting as you were deflated and sad, little mug cake, and with that, I hang up my proverbial apron. Curse you, Pinterest. You win, today. You win.

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I Have The Same New Year’s Resolution As You, Probably

And that resolution would be to get into shape. I signed up for a gym membership two months ago, so I could, you know, stave off death just a little bit longer, and I have not gone a single time. I just…ugh. I don’t WANT to. I really don’t. I want to feel better about myself and I want to reap all of the stellar benefits of exercising. I just don’t want to actually do any exercise. You feel me? Does anybody else have that problem?

I have no idea how people manage to work out on a regular basis. Working out is potentially my least favorite thing in the world, right up there with the fact that mosquitos exist and Miracle Whip. Everybody who works out says the same thing: at first it’ll suck, but if you just keep doing it, you’ll learn to love it. All it takes is time. And you know what? Not what I want to hear. That takes motivation, man. That takes drive. Those are the two things that I have consistently lacked since the day that I was born. I want it to be easy! I want to be able to run a mile without seeing my life flash before my eyes! Why can’t I just buy organic peanut butter instead of Skippy or whatever? Why can’t I just drink more water and call it a day?!

This is the exact opposite of what I look like when I go to the gym.

This is the exact opposite of what I look like when I go to the gym.

In the spirit of New Years, though, I’m going to give healthier living an honest shot. I’m sure there will be still be nights that I eat ice cream for dinner, but I’m only human. To jump-start the process of getting fitter, losing weight, and feeling better about myself, I’ll be doing a couple of things.

1) I ordered a 28 day “teatox.”

tumblr_static_skinny_teatox_detox_tea_28_day_copy

A teatox is basically a regimen of herbal tea that is supposed to boost your metabolism and cleanse your body of toxins. I know that a lot of people say that your body really doesn’t “need” any help cleansing itself, but the teas are 100% herbal and contain no added chemicals or sketchy stuff, so I figured that it couldn’t hurt. There’s “morning tea,” which I’ll drink every morning when I wake up, and an “evening tea,” which I’ll drink every other night at bedtime. Hopefully it’ll help motivate me to eat healthier and regulate my sleeping schedule. I ordered from Skinny Teatox, which seemed like the best option for people living in the U.S. I plan on reviewing this product after I finish, so if that interests you, stay tuned.

2) I’m going to join in on a worldwide fitness movement. 

That sounds really ambitious, I know, but here’s the story: there’s this girl on Instagram named Kayla Itsines, and she’s flawless. She’s a personal trainer in Australia whose claim to fame  is her e-book called the “Bikini Body Guide,” and she uploads amazing transformations all of the time of girls who have completed it. It’s a 12 week circuit training guide–you complete her 30-minute workouts 3 days a week and supplement with cardio, sometimes low-intensity and sometimes high. My friend D bought the first book and sent me the file, so I have it sitting on my computer, but the one time I tried to work out in my apartment I knocked a lamp over (it’s tiny in here) so I used that as an excuse to give up. On January 5th, Kayla and thousands of her Instagram followers will be starting the BBG from Week 1 as a group. Since I have the gym membership and the book at my disposal, I’m gonna do my best to keep up.

For reference, this is what Kayla looks like after she's trained her clients and eaten a greek yogurt or whatever

For reference, this is what Kayla looks like after she’s trained her clients and eaten a greek yogurt or whatever…

...And this is what I looked like after a climbed up a flight of stairs on summer vacation.

…And this is my sweaty, exhausted self after I climbed up a flight of stairs on summer vacation. #supermodel

TL;DR 2015 will be the year I don’t order Domino’s stuffed cheesy bread once a week. Holla.

Some Quick Thoughts Before I Proceed

So. I started this blog (a year ago…yikes) because I liked the idea of putting my thoughts down where other people could see them. It seemed simple enough at the time, but after my first couple of posts, I started to get super stressed out about it. “What is this blog’s ‘theme?’ Since I wrote about being pro-selfie that one time, does it have to be, like, a culture blog? What does that even mean?! I don’t know anything about anything. Should I just bail on that and make this a food blog? People like food blogs. I like food. Seems logical. But wait…can I put PopTarts on a food blog? Also, does that require cooking? Because I can’t do that.”

The spiral continued downward until finally, I convinced myself that having a blog would basically be impossible and said “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” But you know what? There’s nothing to be stressed about. Blogs don’t need a theme. Not everything I put on here has to have, like, a higher purpose. I don’t have to write about hard-hitting shit. I can swear, I can complain about the weather, I can upload stupid pictures if I want. I think that’s helpful. This can just be me and my 21-year-old voice. You know? That makes sense, right? Anyone? Hello? Bueller?

TL;DR I’m back, friends and countrymen. Let’s give this another shot.

Selfie Nation

If anything defines and unites Generation Y, it’s the selfie.

The bottom line is, if you were born between 1985 and 2000, there’s an overwhelming possibility that you’ve taken a picture of yourself and uploaded it to the Internet. Maybe you’ve showed off your pearly whites, felt the need to prove that you went the gym or treated yourself to an angst-ridden Photobooth session in your dark bedroom. If you haven’t, your friends have. Your siblings probably have. Maybe your Mom even gave it a shot, in the spirit of staying with the times. If you’ve refrained from posting your own face or body on any given social media outlet, you are in the smallest of minorities. It’s a phenomenon that has taken over, and unless you abstain from The Big Four (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) altogether, it’s virtually unavoidable.

**

We live in a time where it is more common, and much more acceptable, to hate yourself than it is to love yourself. This is reinforced not only by the media, with its impossible airbrushed standards, but also by our peers. We’re working with a strange juxtaposition here, because while most of us upload selfies, the general consensus is that selfies also SUCK. We might post them, but we roll our eyes when we see others on our timelines and newsfeeds. They are frequently dismissed as superficial, pointless, annoying and desperate. This applies to both men and women, but speaking strictly from a female perspective, I can tell you that admitting you actively like yourself–that you like your face, that you like your body, that you’re proud of it, that you wouldn’t change it–is social Armageddon. Our insecurities become the common denominator. Talking with your girlfriends about how much you hate your thighs or your stomach or your nose (or whatever) is hardly even optional. It’s part of being a girl, part of the this-is-supposed-to-be-my-peak-I-need-to-be-hotter fantasy.

Insecurity is probably a major draw for the #selfienation; in other words, people find it difficult to like themselves, so they need others to do it for them. We have been raised to downplay the way we look. We can comfortably promote our intelligence, shamelessly exhibit our artistic ability, or display our athleticism, but the second someone comments on our appearance…game over.

“You look great today!”
“No, no, no, look at my hair!”

“You have beautiful eyes!”
“Ugh, they’re SO gross, I wish they were blue…but thanks.”

This is a problem that is so common that I’m not even completely sure who or what to blame for it anymore. I’m guilty of resisting compliments sometimes, and even though I know I shouldn’t, it’s just been ingrained into my psyche. Selfies are nice in that way. You can upload a picture of yourself, and people will say nice things about the way you look, which, culturally speaking, you aren’t supposed to do yourself. It’s a confidence booster without being considered stuck up. And if you’ve grown up wishing that you had a different/better body, or a different/better face, or different/better hair, whatever your hang-up is… it might be totally necessary to hear that you’re a babe every once in a while.

My issue is that there is a stigmatization with selfies that dictates that insecurity is the sole reason they are uploaded–one motive, and it’s bad. Regardless of who you are, anybody can look at what you put up on your Instagram and think “it’s all because you’re insecure. You’re hungry for the attention. You need to be affirmed.” My question is, what if you’re NOT? What if you DON’T?

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I am vehemently pro-selfie, and have no problem leading its cheer squad. Most of my Facebook default photos are selfies. I upload them to Instagram sometimes. I don’t do it because I hate myself, though I do have days where I admit I could do a better job of thinking positively. I don’t do it because I need people to tell me I’m pretty–I have a boyfriend who thinks I’m pretty, and his opinion doesn’t stem from, nor does it change because of, the way I photograph myself. I could live my life just as happily if I never posted another one again. I’m not into selfies because I need to fill a psychosexual void. I’m into selfies because I am not afraid to allow myself that little pulse of pride. A selfie is an acceptable way to say “I feel confident today. Here you go, world, eat your heart out. I’m awesome.” That’s a freedom that everyone deserves to embrace.

With that, I encourage you to purge the idea that selfies only serve to satisfy a negative purpose. Realize that tooting your own horn doesn’t make you an egotistical maniac. Make a conscious effort to rid yourself of negativity about your appearance. It’s not about equating your worth to the feedback you get online; it’s about allowing yourself to be excited about how awesome you are, and not apologizing for it.

Selfie on, Gen Y. Selfie on.

Am I Doing This Right?

This is weird for me.

It’s almost 2 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time. I’ve already managed to eat 4 slices of leftover pizza, for no other reason than the fact that I’m bored and have watched 2 whole hours of Kitchen Nightmares. Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is playing on my Pandora, so I feel like crying for no reason (or every reason?), and I guess a lightbulb went off that said “Hey, Sam, you’re emotionally vulnerable and no one is awake for you to bother. Let’s start a blog.”

The funny thing about this is that I’m pretty sure I hate blogs. I don’t actually read any blogs, nor have I ever had one, but it’s more a matter of principle. Every time I log onto Facebook, there are about 85 blogs cluttering my newsfeed, all of which I have to ignore. “Look! I’m studying abroad in Barcelona! Here are pictures of me stuffing my face with tapas!” or, even worse, “I’m a fashionista! Read my top ten tips on how to wear a scarf!” It’s like, how can anyone even pretend to care about what you’re doing? HOW?! And yet here I am, getting aggressive with the “thumbs down” button, alone in my living room and typing away, joining the ranks of college students who I’ve grown to violently roll my eyes at over the past two years.

On a more scholarly note, as a newly declared writing major, it’s come to my attention that employers are usually interested in actually reading something you wrote, so this whole “blog” thing might not be the worst idea I’ve ever had. Maybe I  should’ve gone into this with some sort of framework or plan, but that’s not really my style (read: I’m lazy), so I guess I’ll chalk this up to youthful spontaneity and see where it takes me.

“Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root just started playing. Good note to end on.