Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Part 4: Turning Points

This was called a “Page of Maniacal Laughter.” This is a completely healthy way of dealing with insecurities.

Ah, middle school. How did we survive? Because that’s all that it was – survival. I honestly don’t know how I made it through. I almost don’t want to talk about it, but I feel obligated to at this point. Besides, I think teenage Audrey had a few nuggets of wisdom in that noggin of hers.

I’ll warn you, things get a bit cryptic at this point. I wouldn’t even tell my journal exactly what was going on and, to be honest, I don’t really remember. I do remember, however, that the late years of middle school/early years of high school were when my anxiety was rearing its head the most. That’s evidenced in these passages.

But don’t worry, this series isn’t going to take a suddenly morose turn. Teenage Audrey was hilarious – and if I’m honest, I’m not laughing with her, I’m laughing at her.

Audrey is 13 years old. She still hasn’t discovered makeup, or a good hairstyle (please don’t make me show you a picture of 8th grade graduation.) Theatre has become her passion. Boys are still stupid except for the celebrities she’s never met. Also braces (aka the outer circle of Hell in your mouth.) I don’t remember a moment in middle school where I was comfortable in my own skin. I felt awkward everywhere I went, with everything I did. Because I was. I only felt like I could be myself when I was alone. Or writing in my journal. Let’s jump in.

No threats! The little lady is growing up. Also, I wrote “Red Crayon” in red crayon. I was meta even back then. I also have no idea why I wrote “Teh” in calligraphy.

Journal #4: “Nattie” (Sometime in 2008-(a weird gap)-sometime in 2012)

This was an interesting journal to investigate. Audrey starts writing at the beginning of 7th grade (I think…I had to take a wild guess because once again she’s not dating her journals…in fact she’s not dating anyone at this point *ba boom tish.*) Then there’s a big gap between the end-ish of 8th grade and SOPHOMORE YEAR of high school. I’m all right with the fact that I didn’t document my freshman year. That one is worth being forgotten, and nothing really happened except that I was still awkward and had the stupidest crush of my life (he’s now married, by the way, which weirds me the heck out.)

One of Audrey’s first entries talks about her fears of entering 7th grade (honey, you have no idea.)

Dear Nattie (also, quick note on the name: the journal’s full name was Natalia, after much debatement, but I called it Nattie for sentimental purposes):

The days never falter, never slow their pace, and thus it is already the end of July. I begin 7th Grade next year. I don’t want to grow up! Remembering all the fun I had in 6th grade (YOU WERE BORED ALL THE TIME KIDDO YOU WROTE ABOUT IT ENDLESSLY), I want to stay there, but alas, the days would bore me if I repeated them all again (plus we had math every day). 

Get a load of this kid. She thinks she’s all eloquent but all she sounds like is too big for her britches. Just imagine a whole journal like that and you’ve got this journal (at least the first half, before the Weird Gap.) Much of the journal goes on like this. I developed themes to talk about, such as different ways to “celebrate” the days of the week  (for example, Thursday was always “Semi-National Clueless Thursday.”)

Then in 7th grade I won an award for something I wrote. The barely-noticed nerd became popular overnight and she had no idea how to handle it. This is how she did:

…And last week, I won the Golden Pen Award (just shoe-horned that in, didn’t even lead with it.) Big wup, right? Right, though I say it and everyone pores over me as if I were the story I wrote. Last week I was interrogated by an interviewer and dumped on with “congratulation”-zes and “good work”-zes, and pats on the back. 

She references it a little bit later in a poem. I’m really confused as to where this poem came from, because I don’t think it’s exactly autobiographical. I don’t remember much of this stuff happening. Let’s take a look.

Falling, A monologue by Audrey Wierenga (I’m gonna remove the spaces for cohesiveness)

My life is NOT a roller coaster. It is a pit (wow) you can either struggle to climb or succeed to fall. I fail a test (80% of my whole stinkin’ grade) I fall. I win an award. I climb. But at the last “congrats”, my friend spreads a rumor about me (I don’t think that ever happened.) I fall. My teacher reads my poem aloud. A little embarrassing, but I still climb. Life is not full of ups and downs. Life is full of climbs and falls (that’s the same concept, kiddo) It’s easy to fall but you’ll hate the results. It’s hard to climb but the work pays off. 

Drama. Queen.

So yeah, anxiety was definitely a thing at this point. I won’t belabor that.

Anyway, most of Audrey’s middle school career goes off without a hitch, other than the perpetual awkwardness, like we discussed. She gets more into theatre (but gets frustrated with small roles after a while, because she’s a drama queen, as we’ve discussed.)

Sorry, I just need to get junk out of my brain. A LOT of junk. Trust me, there’s a LOT of junk up there. I have way to much to think on right now…You know all my friends think I’m weird? One of my friends says I dress badly (not my FRIEND friend, but someone I know.)

I mean, you kinda did. (You still do.)


Not the store, but an odd gap between journal entries, a void we might call Freshman Year. Because I didn’t pick up a journal once during that time. I pick up again in tenth grade.

Me as a sophomore. Hey boys.

Well, I’m a SOPHOMORE now! And I have no clue what SOPHOMORE means, accept that I have slightly heightened responsibilities and I’m sort of grown up. 

Ain’t that the truth.

Anyway, here’s an update. She’s sweet and sixteen (or almost) and never been kissed. But she wants to be by someone very specific. Yep, you guessed it. Audrey has a HUGE crush. (Seriously, when I crush on people, I go all in. It’s a bit frightening. I’m sorry if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of my crushing crush-ness.) No more braces, no more same-jacket-to-school-every day. She wears blush and mascara, but she’s still a dork so don’t get your hopes up.

Her journal has become something of a prayer journal from time to time – either that or it gets very spiritually deep. I was a bit surprised reading through these passages. Audrey wrestled with a lot. She was only a few months away from being diagnosed with true anxiety and depression when she wrote this:

Dear Lord, wow, I have a lot to talk about, but I know you can handle it. I just need to find peace. Find it? It’s right here. A few weeks ago I had that major breakdown after going Christmas shopping. I felt sick from the commercialism. It’s flying by me at a mile a minute and I have to put things in perspective. Help me remember why I’m celebrating Christmas.

And lastly, I’m still thinking about him (AWWWW). I don’t want it to become an obsession (it does,) but I’m excited because I’ve met someone who likes the things I like (excited is an understatement. Y’all are head over heels.) So I’m going to ask you to guard his heart. I’m sure high school is hard for him too. Let him know there’s someone rooting for him on the sidelines. And, give me an opportunity to talk to him again. It always warms my heart.

And then on the cusp of a new year:

I want to stop wearing masks. I want to be the child You made me, serving you. Please, set me free. I am restless and defenseless. I have sinned. Please clean me and heal me. 

And finally, on an unknown date, one of the last entries of this journal:

God, I feel like I’m slipping away. Help me refocus and find my way back to you. Keep talking and open my ears. I want to hear what you have to say. Keep my stubbornness and self-pity away. Open my heart so I can see those around me who need your love. Give me the strength to embrace people I usually push away. 

This was the first time during my rereading of these journals that I’ve been surprised. I had totally forgotten I’d written these. I’d forgotten how introspective I was during those times when I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be (a daily discipline.) I’ve got to applaud this young Audrey for doing this. I hope that I can continue to be that discerning of myself in my thoughts and prayers in the future.

I have one more journal for you. I skip the last years of high school as far as journaling goes, so – you guessed it – you’re going to meet college-era Audrey next week!

a. w.


Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Part 3 – The Writer Becomes

Today you will read a story about farts.

When I was around 11 years old, I realized that I really loved writing stories. I mean, I knew that before, but by 11 I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to make a living writing books. Ten years later that dream does not look attainable, but that hasn’t stopped me from working on a book (mostly because I like the sound of “Yeah I’m working on a book right now.”)

Young Audrey (now five-foot-two with three inches to go) is eleven years old and in 6th grade. The urchin has entered middle school. She’s got a little baby fat, has the worst bangs you’ve ever seen, and wears the same sweatshirt to school almost every day (but she showers daily and launders it weekly, so chill.) Recently, Audrey has started reading the Chronicles of Narnia. And she is hardcore into those books. (More on that later.) But for the time being, let’s dive in.

Journal #3: “Scrappy” – Circa 2007-2008 (no exact dates. Young Audrey is making me go all paleantologist on her.) 

“Word dungeon” is written affectionately on top. Next to all the girly stickers. Also I drew a “scanner” on the claspy thing. Who does that? I guess I did. 

Audrey is much changed since last we checked in with her. Hormones are happening, and angst is increasing. Seriously, this child has some angst issues. She’s also pretentious as heck upon entering sixth grade.

She didn’t have a lot of friends, so to defend herself from rejection, she puts up a front of being smarter than everyone else. In fact, in the second entry, I call the journal “my second best friend in the world (my first best is God).” Isn’t that cute? This entry was at the tail end of fifth grade. I had three friends. I had recently lost the person I thought was my best friend (but hey, friends come and go in elementary school.)

Boys still aren’t a thing in young Audrey’s life. However, she does talk about boys a few times. But then she censored herself. Exhibit A:

Was I Donald Trump? Also, I’m not talking about how excited I am for a bathroom. A toilet bowl is a kind of waterslide, you uncultured swine.

So I guess you’ll never know who I was madly in love with at that age. (I honestly don’t even remember. Let’s just keep it that way. I can only be so embarrassed by my past self.)

This tiny human could be pretty funny sometimes. Case in point:

“I may have seen a few scary movies and I know they always go down and explore but NO I AM NOT GOING DOWNSTAIRS TO CHECK IT OUT! People in scary movies are idiots. Who would actually go down to explore a noise when they KNOW, after some freaky dude told them, that there was CLEARLY a monster down there. Sheesh! And they always open doors that the freaky dude tells them not to! And something bad ALWAYS happens! Then later they say, in the middle of dire havoc, ‘We shouldn’t have opened that door in the first place!’ Duh, you shouldn’t have! What idiots! Clearly if that freaky dude told you in a creepy tone “DON’T OPEN THIS DOOR!” You probably shouldn’t, and then nothing would ever happen bad!”

Ok, calm down. Also, this. I had a dream where I was reading a newspaper:

“I woke up after I read a headline that said NEWSPAPERS LIE – DON’T READ THEM.”

True. Story.

Like I said, Audrey wasn’t keen on boys. (If you saw the boys in my 6th grade class you wouldn’t blame me.) She admired a few actors a bit more than others because they were good looking (and many of them have aged like a fine wine…sigh…) but here’s a little tidbit Audrey wrote on the day after Christmas, of all days:

My brother tells me that soon I’m going to like boys! Ew! I hate boys, their guts, and their kind. All the ones I used to like are water under the bridge now. He always asks if I like any movie stars. I said no, I appreciate them as actors. That’s it. 

Oh, STOP. You literally just wrote a censored entry about cute boys. Don’t fool yourself. You’re falling and you’re falling hard, little lady. (Like I said, hormones.)

On February 14, 2008, Audrey expressed her disdain for Valentine’s Day. Not much has changed there.

One thing this child talks about a lot is boredom. Apparently, I was bored a lot back then. I’m pretty sure about half the entries I wrote are about being bored. Was my life really not that interesting? Or did I just happen to be bored every time I sat down to write? Or was I just a pretentious little snot who thought she was too important to be bored? Who knows. I’d rather not dive into the psyche of a 11-year-old more than I have to.

You just can’t make this stuff up. Luckily I started doing theatre a year later, because I was a drama queen already. “Don’t forget sunscreen.”

Now for the reason you’re here. 11-year-old Audrey farted and told a story about it. Her life is so exciting.

It was a placid spring day. I was listening to my teacher’s lecture about feudalism or whatsit. I scooted to the side of my desk and…pffft (It came out louder than expected) Moments later: 

Such art.
Names withheld for safety purposes. Although I’m sure they don’t give a rip (get it) anymore.

All I have to say to small Audrey is: WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?!

But for real, things like that were a lot more debilitating at that tender age. If I did the same thing now, I probably would’ve laughed along with them because I’m immature and still think farts are funny. (shrug emoji) But in middle school, like I said, you put up a front. Because you don’t know what else to do because you’re so insecure that you might melt into a puddle of anxiety at any given moment.

I also realize that this might have been early signs of the anxiety that would soon enter into my life. I was “diagnosed” at the age of 16 with anxiety and depression, but I’m sure it started much earlier than that. My mounting insecurities were evidence of that – fear of rejection, anxiety over friends, a drive to overachieve, and so on. (That’s also a Type 3 thing on the Enneagram, which I only found out this week. I should’ve taken that test when I was 10 and maybe middle school would’ve gone a lot better.)

That’s probably why I decided to try out for the middle school play! Stay tuned. 7th grade is on the horizon. And man, is there angst. (And pimples.)

I’ll leave you with this. Every sign-off, middle school Auds would add an “Inanswerable Question” (I now realize this is grammatically incorrect.) See if you can solve this one:

A doorhinge is the square root of…

a. Pi

b. Einstein’s theory of relativity

c. mass/volume

d. cheese

e. d

f. e

g. all of the above

Answer: I literally haven’t the foggiest.

a. w.

Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look At Journals, Part 2 – The Youth Attempts Short Stories


When I was younger, I wanted to be a lot of things. First, in second grade, it was an ice cream lady. I legit thought that was the coolest job in the world. I could just drive around making ice cream. After my startup idea fell through, I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist in 3rd grade. I doodled a lot in class, so it made sense, right? (I couldn’t draw then and I can’t draw now. But it’s good to dream.) Then, in fourth grade, I started reading the Jigsaw Jones mysteries religiously and decided I was going to be a spy. But the first rule of being a spy is not telling people you’re going to be a spy…which I did. All the time.

21-year-old Audrey still wants to be a lot of things. A writer. A copywriter. An actress. A nonprofit administrator. Maybe the dreams have gotten smaller, but they’re not just dreams anymore – they’re goals. Because dreams + money + a degree = a goal…right?

Maybe. But I think I can learn something from this little fourth grade pipsqueak who wrote in this oddly polka-dotted journal (affectionately called DJ, if you recall.) Which is where we find young a. w. today.

Journal #2: Circa April 2006 – sometime in 2007? (Young Audrey stopped putting dates on her journals. Didn’t she learn anything in fourth grade?) 

As we open this journal, we find Audrey coming to the end of her fourth-grade career. Let me fill you in on who this little lady was at the time – she was about 4-foot-8 and wouldn’t hit 5 until middle school. She had a pair of fuschia courduroys she loved wearing. And a purple hoodie. Overall, a lot of purple. She collected packs of gum in her marker box (which had TROPICAL COLOR Crayola markers, the coolest things on earth.) She wrote “books” (15-20 pages of college-ruled paper stapled together with a badly-drawn cover) and wanted to be a spy like Jigsaw Jones. She also frickin’ loved 4th grade. She did not want to leave.

Essentially, she didn’t want to grow up. She wanted things to stay exactly as they were.

Her bark is worse than her bite, I promise. “Explosives ahead?” Really? A skull? Especially compared to the saccharine sweet entry adjacent to it (I might still have that teddy bear and his name might be Peter.)

Things haven’t changed a whole lot since the last journal, as you can tell from the front page of warnings. However, I’m sensing much more angst in this small human. She’s starting to grow up and things are changing. For example, her best friend moved away the summer before fourth grade. She spends five journal entries talking about it and writes a (bad) poem.


5! (I counted off how many times I’d written about my friend.)

Well, it gets better. I was upset, then I forwarded a letter to her and guess what? I got a VERY LONG reply! We now write to each other constantly but I still want her to be next to me again, I made a poem, that doesn’t rhyme:

Far Away (yeah I underlined it. It’s important)

I miss my friend so very much, 

Now that she moved away.

I wish she was right next to me,

on that empty swing.

All of those memories are treasures of friendship.

It has been filled up.


*cue hearts breaking* Feel free to take all the time you need after reading that.

After reading that, I thought about that friend. Inevitably, we’re not really close friends anymore. We’re still Facebook friends and such, but we don’t write letters every day. Kinda funny how things change. There was also another friend I talk about a lot who I barely speak to anymore. A lot of entries were “my friend is coming over tonight! I’m so excited! We are going to be BFFs forever!”

But now we’re not, you know? Like I said, funny to look back and see how that all changed.

Now back to the angst of a 10-year-old.

This young Audrey wrote short stories. For example: Audrey is going to play Laura Ingalls Wilder in a living wax museum for her fourth grade class. She’s SO EXCITED. Until her parents ask her to recite her speech for them. SHE BLANKS. So young Audrey writes this short story to cope:

The girl who became a failure (aka me)

Once there was a normal average girl. One day, her nice teacher gave them an assignment. “I want you to choose someone from history and make a wax museum for it.” The girl was excited. She worked at it and worked at it, and when it came to the eve of the wax museum, her parents asked her to say it to them. (She stands there, looking into space.) She never said a word, and on Monday, when people pushed her button (??????) she never said anything. Her teacher came over and thought she was a jerk and suspended her (I mean, EXPELLED) her for being rude, and no one heard from her again. The end

Girl, you need more confidence. (Disclaimer: She did write an alternate ending to the story afterward and then followed up the next day saying the wax museum went VERY WELL. So it was all okay.)

Audrey continued to dread the end of school. “Tomorrow will be the best day of my life, and the day after that will be the worst day of my life,” she says, talking about PJ day (WOOT) followed by the last day of school. She includes a picture of herself crying “faucet tears.” She later talks about wanting to invent a time machine so she could go back (or “time masion.” Her words, not mine.)

But there’s more deep-seated angst in this small child. I came across this story in her journal called “The guy who could hear anything.”

Once there was a guy who could listen in on everything. So the CIA made him a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy! One day, he overheard his friend talking to another guy. “I was invited to go to Ultra Fun world with two friends, and you’re one!” HE WAS SUNK!

I have so many questions about this story. Where can I apply to be a super-duper, ultra-matic, listen-inner spy? And where is Ultra Fun world? And why did he decide to abuse his power in such a way?!

I’m thinking Audrey had some insecurities about her friends back then. This is neither the first nor the last time she gives voice to them. When she starts 5th grade, she really wants to make friends with the new kid (spoiler alert: she doesn’t.)

I think those insecurities never go away. They just change. Now I have insecurities about getting a job in six months. Will employers like me? Will I adapt into a workplace environment after being in a classroom for 16 years of my life? Will I find a boyfriend/potential husband who will accept me for who I am? Like I said, they don’t go away, they just change.

There are two empty pages at the back of this journal. Why did young Audrey leave these empty? She signs off the journal at the end of fifth grade, on the cusp of the Young Writer’s Festival (at this point, Audrey wanted to be a writer. Spoiler alert: she still does.) And leaves two pages blank. Of course she would be a drama queen. She just found her love for theatre this year, and that love is only going to get bigger.

Things are only going to get stranger and more difficult for you, young Audrey (who is now proudly 5 feet tall and almost in middle school.) Because – brace yourself – sixth grade is coming.

(Also, 10-year-old Audrey had a crush on Brandon Routh. 21-year-old Audrey doesn’t see a problem with that.)

a. w.


Ceaselessly into the Past: A Look at Journals, Pt. 1

I’m in the process of moving out of my parents’ house. Going from an actual house to a two-bedroom apartment is proving a challenge for my hoarding ways. I started “downsizing” a few weeks ago, and it’s been a little tricky trying to decide what should stay and what should go (cue The Kinks.)

Of course, when one cleans stuff out, one finds things. Like old AP Government notes from 12th grade. Or an award you got in middle school for taking out the trash (don’t start on millennials getting rewarded too much. Middle school trash is disgusting.)

And you find journals. In my case, lots of journals.

I first started journaling in 3rd grade. It became an almost daily practice for me through middle school, and then it kind of fell by the wayside when life got busy. I tried picking it up in college, but turned to blogging instead, and you know how that’s going.

So, for fear of belaboring the point, I’ll cut to it: for the next few weeks, I will be reading through my old journals and extracting the juiciest (?) bits from them. Maybe I had some wisdom to share as a child that I’ve forgotten about. Or maybe I can just give you the scoop on Audrey’s 3rd grade crush.

In other words, dis gon’ be good.

JOURNAL #1: Circa 2004-2006

Context: According to the first page, I started writing on December 24, 2014 (I got the journal from my cousin for Christmas, as written by 8-year-old a. w. in the first entry, see below.) At some point, I went back and added to them. (Dangit younger self, why are you ruining the memory of posterity for me?!)

Seems innocent enough. I still have no idea what “Angels on Assignment” is. Stickers courtesy of American Girl. I was into that kind of thing.
Okay, I’m literally asking my brother to read it with all these warnings. Also, I really want to know what I wrote on Thursday February 9. Did I murder someone?! Also I like that I crossed “crushes” out like I was above that or something.

I took a no-holds-bar approach to privacy as a youngster. Ain’t no one was going to crack open that journal, apparently. I even wrote “TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED” on one of the pages. Geez. Calm down, small Audrey. The IRS is not after you for what you wrote in that book.

Let’s take a look at the first entry, for reference (completely unadulterated, with spelling mistakes and all):

December 24, 2004

Dear journal, 

My cousin gave me a jornal for Christmas! Well, a day before Christmas. I am in 3rd grade. We do cursive. Tommorow is christmas, and I cannot wait. And I got a barbie. 

This is all well and good, lil’ Audrey, but what’s your lead? None of this is very interesting. Also, your syntax is horrible. The first few entries are a bit clunky and formal because I was getting used to the idea of writing my thoughts down on paper.


. . .

Upon further investigation, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happened on February 9. Small Audrey, you sly dog. It was a TRICK.

She may have been talking about December 29, 2004, which has some very strict warnings on that particular page. Little Audrey talked about how she wanted to make a cartoon when she grew up and she didn’t want anyone taking her idea. (I STILL don’t want you to take my idea, so I’m not gonna tell you.)

I talked a lot about how I wanted to be a cartoonist (affectionately spelled “cartoonest” in my weirdly round handwriting) I dressed up as a cartoonist for career day. How do you dress up like a cartoonist? I don’t know. I just kind of went with it. And I was hardcore into career day, let me tell you. I have at least five journal entries about it in this journal alone.

The first few months are BORING AS HECK. You’d think I had no social life at all. (I didn’t. Because I couldn’t drive and I was eight.)

Sometimes lil a. w. waxed poignant. Skip ahead to “Thursday evening of April 2005” (I even came up with really good stream-of-consciousness poem titles.)

Dear journal, 

I’m just sitting on the driveway, dreaming and writing. I just like time alone after the hussle and bussle of the daytime. (Once an introvert, always an introvert.) I just like sitting here and listening to the birds and looking at God’s wonders. I like it here in the caldisac. It’s always pretty, There’s a whole bunch of nature around it. I hope we never move away from here. 

Spoiler alert: We never moved away from here.

And now we go to fourth grade where THE DRAMA GETS TURNED UP A NOTCH.

I had a crush in fourth grade, and it was the stupidest crush I’ve ever had. Wait. Every crush I’ve ever had has been stupid, but anyway. The first of many. Let’s take a look at Tuesday February 7, 2006.

Dear journal, 

Today was like any normal day. I’m working on a new book, it’s called, The Map to Treasure! (note: could have been the next great American novel, but I never got passed page two.) Tommorow (I didn’t learn how to spell that until I was like 18) I have piano lessons, yesterday I had GEMS. As you know (I guess my journal is sentient) Valentine’s day is coming up and I like someone. His name is Zach (last name withheld). I’m going to write him a love note. 


Audrey W, 4th Grade (Cuarto Grado)

 (I was learning Spanish and couldn’t spell.)

The drama intensifies. Will Zach say yes? Will he accept my Sweet Tart Valentine with a really bad “roses are red” poem in it?

Spoiler alert: everyone in fourth grade got wind of my crush and I never dropped a crush so quickly in my life. He then fell madly in love with someone else in 4th grade (guess what? It didn’t last.) and then again in 5th grade (still didn’t last, sorry to disappoint.) I’m not proud.

We will wrap up this segment with Sunday April 2, 2006, since this journal isn’t super interesting. The young, doe-eyed girl is still developing her voice.

Small Audrey is very excited about her birthday, which is over a month away. But this entry will give you a good picture of what I was like at the age of 9.

DJ, (oh yeah, I should tell you that at some point I abbreviated “dear journal” to DJ to be hip and trendy like the hip and trendy kid I was.)

We have plans for my birthday. Here they are. 


(after 3rd grade, I really wanted to be a spy.)

Scedule: (Small Audrey is organized.)

1.Go bowling

2.Come home

3.Play games

4.Cake and pizza

5.PRESENTS! (I have priorities.)

My birthday is May 16. Du big 1-0!


After I read this, I laughed for a solid five minutes at “du big 1-0!” I remember how big of a deal that was.

Isn’t it weird how “big deals” change as we get older? When we’re little, big deals are crushes and sleepovers and birthday parties. Now they seem like small blips on the radar, don’t they? There’s going to be a lot of “blips” on this journey – “best friends,” friends moving away, loves I thought would last forever, and all that jazz.

Don’t worry, friends. There’s more sass and threats to come. It only gets better (and more hormonal – middle school is coming!) from here. Stay tuned!

a. w.

1910 Dating Advice: 2016 Edition

Remember when newspapers offered dating advice? Me neither. But sometimes those old-timey “This is what dating is like in the olden days! Weren’t they silly?” things pop up on Pinterest, Facebook, or other various social media platforms usually populated by older people wishing it was like the olden days (Quick question: is “olden” even a word? Seriously?)

But they weren’t the only people who were silly.

For example: hipsters. Everyone thought it was just a phase, but it looks like 1880s chic and something-press coffee is here to stay. I guess none of us should be surprised. There’s a counter-culture to every culture, and a counter-counter-culture to every culture, and millennial hipsters are an odd mixture of both.

I go to a small, private Christian university where hipsterism is alive and well. Before college, I considered myself a hipster, but now, based on the people I’ve met, I’m seriously reassessing. There are some people out there who have read every chapter of the Hipster Playbook. Just because you wear a sweater in 70-degree weather doesn’t mean you’re a hipster. Nope. It’s basically a religion.

How was I supposed to survive in a world of such seasoned hipsters, mid-grade yuppie that I was? I had to learn, and learn quick. Especially at a Christian college where “ring before spring” is not just a fun saying, but a lifestyle. I had to do a little bit of anthropological studying to figure out the mating rituals of these exquisite creatures, but here I am to offer you comprehensive dating advice, old-timey magazine style, of how to flirt like a 2016 millennial hipster.

1. Location. Before you initiate communication with anyone you desire to date, you have to choose the right environment. Your apartment by yourself is not an option, which already puts me at a disadvantage. Find an obscure local band (preferably that has several uses of the word “grassroots” in its Facebook description and a lead singer that blogs) and figure out when they play next. Arrive at venue, dressed in concert chic (not festival chic; there’s a difference). Don’t make contact with anyone at first; just stare down at your phone with furrowed brow until the opening act. Nod appreciatively along to the music of opening act, but don’t seem too invested – you don’t want to make it seem like it’s your first rodeo. After the opening act, say something vague about “their sound” to no one in particular. Someone is bound to hear you and possibly say something in return.

Alternative: If it’s early afternoon and you need to study, find a coffee shop. I cannot stress independently-owned enough. You know who goes to Starbucks? Dirty venture capitalists who are just trying to steal money and Wi-Fi from the little guys. Also, there will inevitably be cute baristas at any given independently-owned coffee shop. Walk up to the counter, give the barista a smile (but not a big one, just a small grin acknowledging their existence – you’re not clingy, you just want a drink) and take a second to look at the menu, even if you know what you want. Those baristas spent a long time writing out that menu on that chalkboard in perfect Times New Roman font. Appreciate the menu as its own work of art. Don’t say anything about the prices – only angry old men and suburban moms do that. Order something pretentious, like a cortado, even if you don’t know what it means, just so you can say the word. Don’t ask what it is; you’re looking to make friends, not enemies. Tip the barista (they spent a long time writing that poem on the tip jar too, so appreciate it). Watch the cute barista make your cortado as if he is making an absolute work of art (because in his mind, he is) and then ask for the Wi-Fi password. Then talk about how you are going to camp out there for the rest of the day and work on your novel (whether this is true or not). Proceed to do so, even if you’re merely scrolling through Pinterest the entire eight hours you remain in the coffee shop.

2. Dress. Dress is almost as important as location. It’s extremely important that before you dress, you know exactly what environment you’ll be entering into. “I-dress-homeless-but-my-parents-pay-for-college” dress is vastly different from “photoshoot in an open field during optimal sunlight” attire. I would recommend the more homeless route for everyday ventures like coffee shop hopping or wandering around the city taking artsy Instagram pictures, and a more “photoshoot” esque wardrobe for events like barista competitions and 16mm film festivals. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Choosing the right wardrobe is like choosing the right band to be your favorite – it has to be so incredibly calculating that it looks authentic. And that’s the baseline for your wardrobe choices as a Hipster. At all costs, it must be authentic. And even if it’s not you have to tell people it is. Remember: At all costs.

Make sure that, if you have a tattoo, your clothes reveal it, but only slightly. You don’t want the full-on tattoo showing like you’re some loose sorority girl on spring break – so tacky, right? No, you simply want a subtle hint at a possible tattoo. It’ll make people look twice, which is exactly what you want in the game of attraction. Make sure you only reveal your minimalist tattoos with vague meanings, not the portrait of your dog you had done on your shoulder after he died (it was very sad and we all understand). Then an attractive hipster will intevitably ask you about what it means. Have a scripted response available.

In general, you want to follow the basic rules of hipster dress: don’t wear socks unless you’re wearing Chacos, two types of denim is okay, either wear no makeup or a ridiculous amount, etc. My next blog post will be a 1300-word summary of what your eyebrows should look like. If you’re wearing long pants, roll them up to an inch above the ankle, no matter what the weather is like. This isn’t Edwardian England, ladies. We can show our ankles now. If you have time to dye your hair a color that is opposite your own on the color spectrum, add that as a finishing touch.

3. Conversation topics. Remember that hipster conversations occur either on or about social media. If you’re not on social media, you’re talking about it (“Did you see Daveed Diggs’ newest Instagram post?” “Did you see what The Atlantic retweeted?”) However, you might be of that breed of hipsters that goes on Facebook every three months and only follow your aunt and Barack Obama on Instagram because you’re “above that culture.” Whether you are of the first or the second breed, you will eventually have to use hipster buzzwords and phrases, like “doing life” or “Buzzfeed” or “paleo.” You will inevitably also talk about popular fiction, coffee, and architecture, even if you know nothing about any of the above.

Bonus tip: Say “authentic” as often as you can. It’s the icing on the cake, and a buzzword that eligible young men are always listening for. Everyone wants to date the girl whose Twitter bio says “authentic.”

Another bonus tip: People assume that all hipsters like things that “aren’t cool.” However, this is not the case. Hipsters like things that are slightly less cool than other things. They can’t stand Beyonce, but they love Saint Motel. They are all caught up on Game of Thrones, just like everyone else. The only things they read are on the New York Times’ bestseller list, but never the first one. Usually the tenth, because then they sound interesting. Keep this in mind when you go on a search for obscure things to develop an interest in. And speaking of developing interest, stay cool about it. Don’t be extremely passionate about one thing; rather, say that you “dabble” in a lot of things, but you’re still trying to “find yourself” (more buzzwords to add to your hipster dictionary.)

4. Make your move. You’ve found yourself a good environment, you are dressed appropriately, and you’ve struck up a conversation with someone who seems decent and misses the 90s as much as you do. What’s your first move? Do you ask for their number? Of course not. You go home and friend them on Facebook. If they accept you by that evening, they’re interested. If they do the next morning, they thought they had a good conversation with you but aren’t too invested. If it’s a few days, they’re either one of those every-three-months Facebook-checkers I talked about earlier or they’re simply not interested. They might not even remember you, but friend you anyway for “networking” purposes (another buzzword for you). If they friend you, you now have access to all their past information – including high school photos. Proceed with caution.

At this point, I should probably tell you that most hipsters aren’t interested in a relationship. They won’t tell you straight-out, but they’re afraid of commitment. They really just need some time, you know? They can’t settle down just yet. They haven’t quite found themselves. They don’t know what they want. Be prepared; all of the previous statements are things you will hear if you sit down for a good old-fashioned DTR. “I’m just really focusing on my art right now” is another one that might come up. So, you might as well disregard all the advice I just gave you and go back to your apartment and your Netflix original that’s not Narcos or Making A Murderer.

There you have it. A comprehensive, old-timey-style guide to flirting like a 2016 hipster and on your way to inevitably finding yourself in an ambiguous 21st-Century relationship. In fact, in a hipster sense, this entire post is ironic, considering that hipsters rarely read literature longer than a Facebook status.

And on that cheap shot, I’ll leave you to it. Go out there, and find that fish in the sea that belongs to you. Hopefully that fish is wearing a cardigan, even in the middle of August.


20 Things That Are Familiar to Every Communications Major

Every college major has its staples. Something, be it a diagram, a picture, a feeling, that’s familiar to all who studied that in college. As a communications major, I’ve noticed a few of these familiar things in my journey so far. Allow me to elaborate:


1. This picture. 


Ekman’s six universal facial expressions. Because Paul Ekman is king. (https://genevievewanucha.com/2015/06/26/whats-in-a-word/)

2. And probably this picture. 


Or a more/less complicated version of it. Actually, a comm major’s life consists mostly of diagrams. (http://www.project-management-skills.com/definition-of-communication.html)

3. “Oh you’re studying communications! You must like talking a lot!” 

Well, no. Not really. *uses the fish in water analogy excessively*

4. “What exactly is communications?”

“What ISN’T communication? It’s math. It’s science. It’s language. It’s ART” 

5. Research on research on research. 

Comm is a great major, but you’re not going to miss all those readers full of studies or those comm research methods classes.

6. Taking Interpersonal Communication and finally realizing why your last relationship went wrong. 

“Oh now I get it…the costs were greater than the rewards, and there was very little self-disclosure.”

7. “You’re such a good listener!” 

Perk of being a comm major: You learn how to listen to people reaaaally well. We know that there’s a step-by-step GUIDE to listening.

8. Being totally prepared for any job interview. 

Definitely true. You know how to persuade people and put yourself out there by using things like the color your wear or the strength of your handshake.

9. “What do you want to do with that?” 

Sure, this is a question most college students are faced with. But what DON’T you want to do with comm?

10. Coffee. 


11. Analyzing all of your current relationships and driving everyone crazy doing it. 

Or analyzing other people’s relationships for them. They LOVE that. (That’s sarcasm, which is hard to communicate in written text.)

12. Being way more clever on social media than anyone else. 

Your social media courses have taught you well. You know that people don’t want to see a status saying you ate a grilled cheese sandwich at 2:25pm, but you can whip out a snappy status like the best of them. In fact, comm people know their way around most social media sites and they’re great at marketing themselves.

13. “You know that feeling when someone stands too close to you on the elevator…” 

Yes. That’s called the Expectancy Violations Theory. Seriously. There’s a theory for everything. *person backs away from you slowly*

14. Finding out your conflict style. 

Are you an aggressive shark or an accommodating teddy bear?

15. Watching an episode of Seinfeld in at least one comm class. 

Or Gilmore Girls. Or Friends. If it was a 90s sitcom, you probably watched it.

16. Ekman is life. 

Ekman is king.

17. “92% of communication is nonverbal.” 

…maybe? Mehrabian is a pretty smart guy, but some comm people aren’t so sure about this one. Whatever the case, you’re gonna hear this a lot.

18. Using more math than you thought you would. 

Remember when you learned about standard deviations in eleventh grade? Yeah, you’ll need that.

19. Speeches. 


20. And last of all, not wanting to trade your major for the world. 

It’s not just the major. It’s the people you meet. It’s the lessons you learn and the opportunities you have. It’s finding more out about yourself. Or, as Pocahontas once said, it’s learning “things you never knew you never knew.”


Feeling Uncomfortable.

Have you ever had a sock slip down your ankle while you were wearing a shoe? If you are a human being, you answered yes to this question. Everyone who has ever worn a shoe has encountered this problem.

It’s a small problem – it’s literally a piece of cloth sliding down your foot for one reason or another (it’s probably because it’s an anklet. Anklets are the worst.) but it affects you. You’re always somewhat conscious of it, you can always feel it. It might even change the way you walk – I mean, part of your foot is stepping on soft, cushy, socky goodness, and the other one is just pounding on the cold sole of your shoe. (Maybe your soles are comfortable, but in my experience, they’re cold and kind of rubbery feeling under my heel.)

Bland and long-winded analogy aside, sometimes a situation in life can feel like a sock slipping down your foot. Sometimes, you can have a situation that’s like stepping in something wet when you’re wearing a sock (which is worse. I save that analogy for really bad situations.) But a lot of situations are just like that – slightly uncomfortable, something you’re constantly aware of that’s nagging at the back of your brain, something that you can’t readily fix until you get a good moment (usually in privacy, because it’s kind of weird to dig into your shoe in public.)

Second bland and long-winded analogy aside, life is sometimes uncomfortable. More specifically, situations in life are often uncomfortable. Life as a whole is pretty all right, wouldn’t you say? But sometimes there are things or situations or conflicts that just mess with you. They’re not pressing, they’re not urgent, but they’re there. And you know they’re there, but you can’t readily do anything about it – or you’re putting it off for later, constantly pushing it back. And it’s uncomfortable.

In which case, it will only get worse. Your whole sock will end up bunched up by your toes the more you walk. Which feels like someone jammed a couple oversized cottonballs between your toes. In other words, not a great feeling.

All of these extended analogies to say: there’s probably something like that in your life right now. (There usually is, unless you’re a Disney princess after the credits have rolled, in which case everything’s fine and also you’re not real.) It could be something really small, like calling the doctor to make an appointment. It could be something really big, like buying a house, or something adult-y like that. It could be something emotional that you’ve set aside, but you still have to work through. You have a sock slipping somewhere. You might even have two socks slipping. That’s two more slipping socks than anyone needs. But still, there they are. And they are bunching at your toes.

“So Audrey,” you ask, maybe, “what do I do? You seem to know a lot about footwear. Do I just unravel everything? Pull off my shoes and make the strangely satisfying adjustment to my sock? But that means I have to pause. That means people might realize how bad my feet smell.”

Well, gross. I wasn’t going that direction, but you’re probably right. You’re going to have to stop and fix your sock, and yes, people might smell your feet. That was the most awkward sentence I’ve ever written.

I’m putting the feet analogy away now. Yes. You are going to have to stop and fix your problem eventually. And people might notice that you have problems. I’m not saying press pause on everything (Hey look, an analogy!)

But what I am saying is, you have to deal with it. Before it gets all bunched up and complicated. Then it will just take longer to unravel. It will be more uncomfortable.

And people are going to notice your problems anyway. Congratulations! You’re a human with problems! You are normal! You are not a robot that tags people in Ray-Ban ads on Facebook!

If necessary, peel those socks off. Run barefoot. It will make you more sensitive and you might step on something uncomfortable, but it will also make you more free.

All of this to say: You’re going to feel uncomfortable eventually. It’s all in how you deal with it. You might be a stoic and stick it out – just let that sock bunch up until you lose circulation. (Literally and figuratively would not recommend. But it’s your decision.)

Your sock might be small, like a bootie that people put on babies (the most unnecessary thing I’ve ever seen), or it could be a nice hearty crew sock like your grandpa wears. Whatever kind of sock you’re dealing with, you have to grab hold of it while you still can. It’ll be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.

So hike up your socks and go on an adventure.

Brownie points if they don’t match.