No Money, Mo Problem$

Money has never been important to me. From a young age, my parents taught me that money doesn’t make a person happy and that you have to work hard to get what you want. I got my first job at the age of 14. I bought my first car at 15. I’ve paid off two loans. I’ve had seven paying jobs, several overlapping. I’ve been a cave guide, a Boys & Girls Club staffer, a server at a dinner a show, a photo assistant and more. I’ve managed to maintain a 3.5 GPA in college while working and taking over 15 credit hours each semester. And yet, I owe $50,000 and have $184 in my bank account.

A month and two weeks from now, I’ll be moving to New York City in what some deem an “adventurous” move. Others might consider “idiotic” or “insane.” I’m terrified and exited. I have no job, no source of income and no apartment (yet).I’ve applied for at least 30 positions, most I don’t consider myself qualified for.

Last week, I spent four days in New York exploring the city, looking at apartments and meeting with stellar, successful Mizzou alums. It was amazing and completely affirmed that the city is where I want to be come June 1. But the reality of money hit hard.

Although my parents love me more than life, they have three other children and their own household/debt to take care of, so expecting them to wave a magic wand and have $37,429 deposited into my account is unrealistic. (For those with parents that can, that’s amazing and I’m not saying you’re spoiled or lucky. Just different situations.) Therefore, I have to sell my car, work my butt off and borrow MORE money so that I can eventually make money.

Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t a huge deal. I’ve always expected it for the lifestyle I plan to lead. But right now, as a soon-to-be-graduate with zero dollars and no sense (see what I did there?), this whole “money” thing has become an all-encompassing, daunting, horrific nightmare. I’ve never worried how I’ll pay my rent. I’ve always had the option to go out for lunch. Grabbing a beer with friends after work never made me nauseous. But here I am, freaking the f*** out.

I know it’ll all be okay. I know my parents will take care of me. I know I’ll get a job and have a place to live. I know that I’ll make it. But as my school career comes to an end and impending adulthood grows nearer, my anxiety has skyrocketed. I’m sure this is normal, but it’s difficult to articulate what’s going on internally. I want to spend time with  my friends, I want to enjoy my final few weeks here, I want to breathe. So if this is something you’re also enduring, I’m so sorry. We can do this. It just sucks right now.

 

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Single Girl Diaries: A Taboo Guide to Public Pooing

Disclaimer: DO NOT read this if you are disgusted by the idea of poop advice.

Dedicated to my good friend Sophia.

A dear friend of mine, the aforementioned Sophia, sent me a link the other day about girls and pooping because she knows that it’s a topic I love discussing. Without reading it, I decided I, too, would write about the challenges of pooping as a woman and how to make the most (or least) of your quick trip on the pot.

First of all, I’d like to address the shame of using public restrooms. For women, it’s extremely uncomfortable to be in a restroom when someone else is. Why? Because growing up, we’ve known that most things having to do with our bodies, bowels especially, aren’t considered “lady-like.” So when others enter the stall nearest our own, we often times give up, wipe, wash and withdraw so to not cause further embarrassments about using the toilet. But let me tell you something. Every single lady I know poops. Some more than once a day.

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While I feel that women shouldn’t be ashamed, I understand that it can sometimes be embarrassing. The fact that these porcelain thrones are designed to help reverberate the faintest of sounds is reason enough to feel awkward, but ladies, come on. That’s no reason to have a poop stand-off with the person next to you, sitting in silence while awaiting the other’s ultimate defeat and departure.

So, for those of you in this stinky situation, here are a few tips to help you ease the tension:

Stop the Plop: If you’re the type that fears the inevitable sound of your nuggets hitting the water’s surface, here’s a solution. Place a few sheets of toilet paper at the bottom of the bowl to mute your mess. Neighboring potty-goers will have no idea you’ve just relieved yourself.

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Ease the Squeeze: To minimize the strain, try drinking coffee and other poop inducing foods. This will result in a quick and easy restroom break. Also, coffee is delicious.

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Helluva Smell: We all know what it’s like to eat the wrong thing. If you, like myself, are an avid Chinese food-eater, it might be time to invest in a lovely little product known as Poo Pourri. Spray it in the toilet and when your log hits the surface, a delightful aroma of essential oils escapes.

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Laugh in the Bath(room): Pooping is funny. Tooting is also funny. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. I do all the time. Don’t be ashamed. Embrace. (But don’t laugh at others unless they’re your really good friends. You don’t want to embarrass anyone else and ruin their public poo experience.)

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Partake in a Group Poop

Group poops are figuratively one of my favorite things. It’s like the ultimate trust exercise in a friendship. If you can poop together, you can do anything. And it’s super convenient if you run out of toilet paper.

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Hideaway Hayday

If none of the above works for you, scope out the most hidden and obscure bathroom you can. The sketchier the place, the better. Go unisex if you have to. Basements are usually a great starting place.

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So if you’ve been the type of gal (or guy/I’m not sexist) that’s too petrified to poo publicly, I hope this brief post has made you realize that it’s a burden we all share. Don’t fear the poo. Embrace it. (Don’t actually embrace it. It’s a figure of speech. Hugging poop would be horrible for all parties involved.)

I wish I could tell you this was a metaphor for life, and if you can come up with one, by all means, please apply it to this because I literally just spent three hours crafting a post about poop and I’d like to know that that time wasn’t wasted.

Smile.

“Smile,” the man shouts from the safety of his beat up ’98 Camry.

I turn to face my heckler.

“Come on, why ain’t you smiling?” he says to me while leaning out the driver’s side window.

As a 21-year-old woman, I wish I could tell you that this is the first time something like this has happened to me. I wish I could speak for all women and say that being verbally harassed on the street is a rarity. Unfortunately, I can’t.

While the topic of harassment is more ubiquitous than ever, I still can’t seem to walk to my college campus without someone hollering obscenities out their car window or telling me to smile. Walking through downtown Columbia after sundown without a catcall is a nearly impossible feat for females on their own. That’s not a statistic I read online. That’s personal experience.

Last year, a video was released in which a woman walked the streets of New York for 10 hours to capture what it’s like to be harassed on a daily basis. She’s dressed in everyday garb and wearing an average amount of makeup, yet she is bothered numerous times.

Now, if you don’t know me, I feel it necessary to inform you that I’m a pretty modest girl. I tend to thoroughly cover all the bits and pieces, plus a huge Goodwill sweater. But does that stop perverse idiots from making a scene? Apparently not.

Just the other day, I was on my way to my campus ministry wearing jeans and a flannel (a fairly lumberjack look, if I dare say). On the way, a truckload of college-aged guys felt the need to stick their heads out the window and yell crude things to me. I wasn’t fazed. I didn’t give them more than a glance. That’s what women learn to do. Acknowledgement gives these belittlers what they desire: attention and empowerment.

Two hours later, I was walking to a coffee shop after my ministry. As I was headed up Ninth Street, I saw a group of men. My instincts told me to cross the street, so I did. But as luck would have it, my intuition led me astray and I walked straight into my next harasser.

“I’ll give you $500 right now.”

Excuse me? I hope you’re offering me money because I look like a psychiatrist that can fix your disgusting personality.

“Sorry?” I replied, dumbfounded.

“Five-hundred dollars. Right now.”

“Bye,” was the only response I could muster as I walked right on past. I was so shocked that, at 8:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night, this would happen to me on a street I usually feel comfortable.

What was it, Mr. Middle-Aged Stranger? Was I just really rocking my flannel? Did my rushed walk make you think I was interested in what you had to say? Did my sports bra give the impression that I was a prostitute?

Granted, it was after dark and I was alone. “I should have known better.” I’d put myself in that situation by walking on a lit street three whole minutes from my campus fully clothed with a backpack in tow and DumDum sucker in hand.

It’s baffling. What the hell is going through the minds of these imbeciles? (I’m looking at you, douchey college boys.) Why is it that my female friends have to consciously think, “Will it be dark when I leave this event? I don’t want to have to be in a parking garage at night. I guess I’ll pay more to park on the street so that I’ll have witnesses.” Why aren’t more people aware?

I would never ask a guy friend to walk me home (mostly because I’m too self-confident in my Tai-Kwon-Do skills and too naive to acknowledge the danger of streets at night), but they rarely offer or ask if I feel uncomfortable. The world women live in is much different than our male counterparts. They can walk home in a drunken state from the bars at 2 a.m., but if I were to attempt the same feat, I’d MUCH more likely be taken advantage of. And it’d be my fault. I shouldn’t have been so stupid. I should’ve worn a longer skirt. My leggings were too tempting.

COULD THAT BE MORE IGNORANT? Who believes that anyway? You know how to stop sexual harassment? DON’T SEXUALLY HARASS PEOPLE. Why can’t I feel safe in my own town just because I have a different downstairs mix-up?

To bring us full circle, if you haven’t heard about the dumbass of a reporter at Serena Williams’s press conference this week, let me give you a little insight. Don’t ask one of the greatest athletes of our generation why she isn’t smiling. You’ll get a response like, “To be perfectly honest I just don’t want to be here right now.” And to be perfectly honest, I would have been much more rude. That reporter is just lucky Serena is a classy lady.

So a little food for thought next time you or a friend consider catcalling a girl to “make her feel good about herself,” don’t. And ladies, next time some dude is a perverted arse, ignore him, don’t give him the satisfaction of a response. He has a lot to deal with anyway with his tiny penis and all.

P.S. To the next guy to tell me to smile, I’m going to punch you in the throat.

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BLOGGING IZ HARD

Remember when I said I’d try to blog weekly? Pretend like you don’t. Because I haven’t. (Granted, I have written a weekly column for MOVE Magazine, but that’s different.)

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This is personal. I should’ve been updating you all on the many endeavors I’ve gone on over the course of the semester and I haven’t. Too anyone that I may have upset, I apologize.

But here’s the deal. Living abroad is a lot. Like, a lot a lot. It’s exhausting. I know it’s not as if I have a 9-5 job and run a household (props to all those out there), but living in a huge and exciting place like London means that I have a limited amount of time to absorb it all.

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One of the many aspects of living in London that I didn’t expect is that sometimes, I just want to stay in. GASP. I have a massive city with endless possibilities at the tips of my fingers and I’m just sitting on my couch. In the dark. On my laptop. Boring, amirite?

WRONG. I (and multiple Buzzfeed quizzes) consider myself to be an ambivert. That is, neither an extravert or introvert, but a healthy dose of both. I love to be loud and silly and meet knew people, but I also gain energy from escaping it all and being alone. It depends on my mood, how tired I am, what I’ve been doing, if I’m reading a good book, etc.

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What I’ve noticed about my life in London is that the only time I’m ever “alone” is on public transport because no one talks and when I shower. While being surrounded by people is something I thoroughly enjoy, sometimes I need to get away and I just don’t get that in a city with millions of people.

So I spend a lot of my time here exhausted and in need of a break. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend my weekends exploring the city and finding new, exciting places. But often times, I just want to come home and sit on the couch with my roomies and scour the internet for hours.

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Should I feel guilty about that? Because I do. I feel really guilty. I’ve spent so much (of the government’s) money to get here, and now that I’m here, I’m afraid to waste any time. I feel a constant nagging to be out there and exploring my temporary home, but I don’t exactly have the means nor the energy to do that every day.

I’ve noticed several of the others on my trip appear to have a lot more endurance than I, going above and beyond when it comes to living in London. They’ve been to numerous shows, restaurants, bars, clubs, events, attractions, etc. They’ve really gotten into living in London. But I, and my flatmates, are fans of the familiar and repetition. We have several hang out spots. We have a diner, a coffee shop and pub that we go to regularly, all of which I love. But I fear that we’ve been holding ourselves back and are missing out on something amazing.

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As of today, I have exactly one month until this adventure of a lifetime is over. I’ve already seen the changes in myself. I’ve grown as an individual. I ooze maturity now. (Slight exaggeration, but hey, I can survive in a city with eight million other people.)

That being said, please keep me accountable. I want to make the most out of this final month. Ask me how I’m doing (disclaimer: I might be too honest), tell me about cool places to visit if you’ve been here, encourage me to step outside myself, etc.

Please and thank you.

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With  love,

ellise

We Have a Maid: London Update 2

I woke up Wednesday morning to a knock at the door. I was still sleeping, but one of my flatmates let her in. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t do well with maids. Not because they aren’t wonderful or that I’m afraid they’re going to steal something, but because I feel that my mess is my responsibility. When she started clearing the dishes we had used moments earlier for breakfast, I quickly told her if she needs anything out of the way, just tell us to move it or kick it. That’s when I discovered she was French and didn’t understand a thing I said. So she went on her merry way and took care of four 20-something girls.

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This was just one of the many experiences I’ve had in the last 10 days that are very different than what I’m used to.

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If I told you the transition to living in a different country an ocean away from home was easy, I’d be lying. Luckily for me, I’m surrounded by 26 other students in the exact same position.

Monday marked my first day working in London. At 9:55 a.m., I arrived at Lumiere London, my internship for the next three and a half months. What I walked into was NOT what I expected. Apparently, over the last month or so, the beautiful photography studio I was expecting was no longer the home of Lumiere London. Carlos (my adorable little photographer boss) and the rest of the companies he owns/works with, moved to a larger and better space. Unfortunately, the construction wasn’t really close to being finished.

I went in Monday expecting a short interview and schedule set up. That turned into working for seven hours with the office manager, Alessandro, and updating their entire website. When I told them I knew how to use WordPress, I realized too late that blog WordPress versus professional website WordPress are very different things. But thanks to the MU j-school’s “learn by doing” method, I figured it out.

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My second day at Lumiere London, I was told to bring clothes I could get dirty. I did. We spent the majority of the day organizing and cleaning the dust/dirt-filled studio space. Every surface was disgusting. And with no heat in the studio and 30º F outside, it made for a chilly day. But a good one. This was my first day to really get to know Carlos and Alessandro. We were able to goof off, talk about backgrounds, and work peacefully/jam out to my Spotify playlist. So an all-around solid day.

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On Wednesday, we had our first day of classes. We have two classes on Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m. and going until 7:30 p.m., one being an international journalism/media class and the other our internship seminar, both taught by Steve Rice. (If you’ve taken J2150 at MU, you’ve probably heard of him.)

Now, if I’m being completely honest (and this is my blog so of course I’m being completely honest), I was NOT looking forward to having Steve as our professor. But I have to tell you, Steve is really cool. And nice. And a good teacher. And loves his family. He’s like…a real person. WHATTT? Who knew?

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So we had our class introduction, etc. For the seminar, we just gave presentations on each of our first days of working in London. It was amazing to hear what kind of work my peers were already doing in their first two days. It really seems like CAPA (our program) knew what it was doing when they picked out these internships for us. Everyone is genuinely interested in their jobs and it’s clear they will be building great portfolios. My friend Sophia had already published a story in The Independent (kinda big deal) by the time class began.

On Thursday, we met Richard.

Richard is a hilarious little British man that teaches our British culture class. He is so funny and as obsessed with One Direction as I am. He even told us Harry Styles owns a house a mile away from our flat so if I end up home before April 29th, just know it probably had to do with stalking charges…

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Our afternoon with Richard was great and I must say, I really love my classes. We get to adventure through the city of London. With Steve, we’ll be going to BBC and The Guardian, etc. while Richard will be taking us to museums and curry restaurants (IN CLASS). I don’t know why I’m getting school credit for this stuff, but I’m cool with it.

Friday was great. It was my last day at my internship for the week, but as expected, I didn’t do much with fashion photography. Instead, I learned a bit more about the business aspect, then spent the afternoon painting the rafters with Carlos. I kind of loved it. I got to spend more time with my co-worker (kinda?) named Dan who is very British and sounds (in my opinion) a lot like Benedict Cumberbatch. He also has the perfect, stereotypically sarcastic sense of humor, which made the fact that he had to ask if I was being sarcastic at one point just that much better. (Yes. I was being sarcastic.)

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The week flew by. Everything is flying by. But I have be honest. This is unlike anything I ever imagined. And there have already been a few bumps along the way. If I were to tell you that homesickness didn’t consume me the first few days and that I didn’t cry in the shower everyday for the first week we were here, I’d be lying.

I didn’t intend to make this post serious, but it’s been a little rough over the past couple of weeks away from home. As a person that suffers from anxiety on a daily basis, being in a huge city with total strangers is hard. It wasn’t until five days in that I began to feel comfortable and transition into my temporary life in London.

However, now that I’ve made the transition, I feel good. Really good. The sights, the sounds, the smell (meh…maybe not the smells), the life all make this experience so unique. I have 99 days left before I make the long journey home, and I intend to spend every minute of it exploring and educating myself on what the world has to offer.

(PS: I totally went poop in the Stonehenge bathroom.)

London is so diverting

Well. I’ve moved to London (temporarily). For the next three and a three-quarter months, I’ll be living in Camden Town, London. If you’re anything like me, you imagine everything to look like it does in Mary Poppins and Big Ben to be visible from every borough. Boy was I wrong.

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We’ve only been here about four days, which is not nearly enough time to explore the whole city. I’ve seen the major sites via bus tour and took a walk through the original, one square mile of London that houses Parliament and Benny, but everything is already so different than I imagined.

Beginning with the people, I definitely underestimated how diverse this city truly was. I knew the statistics, but until you are actually walking around London, the fact that there are over 300 registered languages spoken daily and that white British are a minority didn’t sink in.

Our flat in Camden is extremely modern, not at all like the hotel Amanda Bynes starts at in What A Girl Wants. We have a lovely view of the street below and some office building across the way. But the unique thing about Camden is its colorful variety of people and shops. The Camden Markets are one of the most renowned and popular attractions in London. The streets are filled with shops and salespeople. You can find anything from London souvenirs to Doc Martins (the current fashion trend of the city). Pubs and bars also fill every street corner here. The night life is booming and there seems to be no lack of entertainment. I unfortunately haven’t found a go-to coffee shop yet, but it’s only the first week (and nothing can ever take the place of Kaldi’s in my heart).

Our group of 26 (or 27…I don’t remember) is really great. The majority are strat comm, meaning I know very few people here. It’s definitely put me outside my comfort zone to be in a new city on a different country without any of my closest friends or family. That’s been the hardest part thus far is accepting that I won’t see any of them for nearly four months. I think the first few weeks is the worst for homesickness. Though the city offers countless distractions, I find myself thinking of home in my downtime.

However, I begin my internship tomorrow with fashion photographer Carlos Lumière and I could not be more excited (OR NERVOUS). I know very little of fashion, but I look forward to working with Carlos and learning the ends and outs of running a successful photography business (I’m assuming he’s successful because he splits his time between London, New York, Paris and Monaco…).

I just did a trial run so I could figure out where the heck his studio was and let me tell you something. Having no GPS on my phone was terrible. I didn’t even know which direction was north. You exit the tube and you’re suddenly in a street with no idea which way is up. BUT. After walking five minutes the opposite direction, I managed to get my bearings thanks to the London Eye and eventually found my way.

The Eye

I have a huge adventure ahead of me, that I know for sure. New friends, new places, new experiences, etc. I can’t wait to finally get in the swing of things and stop feeling like a small child as I ride the metro in silence. This city is beautiful, the people have been kind, and I can already tell that this life-changing experience will leave a long-lasting impression on my life.

Look out for more blog posts to come. If I get obnoxious on social media, I understand if you choose to unfollow me. Also, feel free to send words of encouragement or just updates on life back in “the States.” (That sounds so pretentious. I’m sorry.)

Peace n Blessins,

Ellise