Learn Stuff: 10 Tips for Making Moves

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Next weekend marks the one year anniversary of my move down from Rhode Island to North Carolina. Can you believe it!? I cannot, and yet here we are. I’ve been thinking back on the past year of life I’ve lived down here in the Tar Heel state (fun fact: still no idea what a “Tar Heel” is) and let’s get one thing straight. Making moves is not easy. Especially when you’re moving to a place that you’ve never been to before, where you know no one, and you’re starting off on a brand new chapter of your begrudgingly “adult” life.

Let’s just say I learned some things. Things like vampire teeth bottle openers are a necessity in every modern home. Things that I would like to share with you in the event that you are thinking of making moves of your own. Enjoy.


Do not search for apartments from the screen of a computer, way across the Atlantic, while sitting at a desk in a house on the Emerald Isle. Not my most brilliant idea because, shocker, I hated my first apartment here in Charlotte. Even though I hadn’t seen it before I moved in, I happen to be pretty… let’s call it unaffected (when I looked up synonyms for that I found ‘unsophisticated’ which also works) when it comes to stuff like this, so I knew I could make it work for the length of the lease. Understandable that everyone is not like that, so my advice is take a flight to the place you’re thinking of moving towards. Rent a car, get out there in the neighborhoods, and get away from the tourist attractions of the city / town. If you move there you will not be a tourist, you will be a resident. Go see where you want to reside. With your actual eyeballs.

2. Keep an open mind 

When I was first looking for apartments (again, stupidly from afar) I was convinced that I needed an outdoor patio and a fireplace. There was a compromise on the fireplace but I was still completely unwilling to budge on the outdoor space. Which then led me to spend an entire year never once using said space because I hated my surroundings, so, refer to #1… then also remember that the things you think you are dead set in need of you probably aren’t. Scope out all sorts of arrangements from your wish list and go with the place that gives you the best vibe. It might be the one you expect to like the least but you’ll never know if you don’t keep an open mind about the whole thing.

3. Clean first, move boxes later

When you finally find your dream dwelling and moving day comes around, take your time. Let the moving trucks idle for a few minutes. I know, this can be difficult, but trust me. Pick up your keys and walk into the place. Look around, see what the layout is like, if everything is prepped and ready for you to really immerse yourself and your boxes and boxes of useless belongings (no one needs that many mixing bowls, NO ONE) into it. If the guys who gave the place a fresh coat of paint weren’t so careful about leaving their shoes at the door, give the floor a quick mop down (or Swiffer if you’re not fully embracing that adulthood thing yet) before you start bringing everything in. Take the time to prep the place before you start the fun parts of unpacking. You don’t want to clean at the same time, trust me. I did that with my first apartment and it was miserable.

4. Don’t rush through it all

This goes for unpacking the old and purchasing the new. There is no race to unpack. Take your time, look at the things you’re moving in, and see if any slipped through the first round of “spring cleaning.” Put them places with a purpose. If something seems to have no place, and you’re stressing about where to shove it off to (because the hall closet is somehow already miraculously full with your two costume bags which you simply cannot downsize in any way), maybe just chuck it out. I am the QUEEN of holding on to things. I genuinely still have an old acorn in my possession from… no less than 6 years ago. Couldn’t tell you where or why or any semblance of significance but it moves with me everywhere.

I also happen to be the Queen of impulse buys, a woman of many talents. I see something or think about something that I want and it becomes a need to have it as soon as possible. Don’t be like me. Think about that children’s train rug from Ikea before you buy it. Give yourself a week or two or four to really think on the new things that you want to purchase. Then come back and see if they’re still in your head and if so, no one will stop you from buying them. Hopefully no one will stop you anyways because I assume you are an adult and are capable of making your own decisions, but you get the picture. I will not practice what I preach so be a doll and do it for me.

5. Get used to new creatures

Especially if you move down to the South. Let me tell you, this little Northerner had never seen bugs until she moved to the other side of the Mason-Dixon. There were a lot of new creatures I had to become accustomed to and… you know, I’m still not fully there but I’m doing alright for myself. And I have decent friends who will kill things for me when I ask them to… with tears in my eyes. Just accept that this is a new part of the culture, wherever you go. There will be new animals and critters to get used to. I believe in you.

6. Don’t let everyone scare you

You’ve never met My Nana but let me tell you, a more terrifyingly superstitious tiny Scottish woman you never did see. My first month down here she sent me a care package comprised of one little newspaper clipping. The harbinger herself sent me an article about a brain-eating amoeba that was found at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. Other people I knew warned me against certain parts of my new town and tried to repress the habits I’ve cultivated growing up in a close-knit Rhode Island city. There is danger out there in the world in every place, city or small town. Not trying to get too deep into that rabbit hole, and I’m not saying to trust every stranger you encounter, but know that it’s not healthy to let every little panicky Patricia out there get into the core of your livelihood when you’re moving to a new place. Just be smart about yourself.

7. You are much tougher than you think you are

Two weeks. That was how long it took before I had a complete mental breakdown, sitting alone on top of my bed in the early morning hot summer air, with about two months left before I started work, realizing that I just wanted to go back home. It was really hard to be in a place where I knew absolutely no one and at the same time, I knew that I had done this to myself. I wanted this! I wanted a change and a new area and I knew that came at the cost of friends and family nearby. I had to remind myself that I had never experienced a new place before where I had gone the whole duration without meeting anyone (and Charlotte has been no different – I’m very thankful to have met all sorts of wonderful and interesting humans, a few of which I get to call my friends). That reminder didn’t come to mind very quickly, and it didn’t make things any easier to deal with for a while. It probably took me a good month or two before I came to terms with the fact that I’m a tough cookie. I can stick it. But tough cookies still get homesick and that’s okay. You will get through it, even though you might not think so.

8. Find routines

Anyone else a big routine person? A planner person? A, I believe what they call us is, “type A” person? Part of what helped me get acclimated to my new city and my new life is the Sunday morning routine I’ve built for myself. I love going for drives with the windows down in this Southern swelter, so on Sunday mornings just before 10am I hop in the car and hit the road for a 20-25 minute-ish trip down to one of my favorite coffee spots. I turn on NPR’s Car Talk (shoutout to my best friend’s mom for getting me into that one) and laugh along with the radio as I cruise there and back for my caffeine fix. It’s an hour of my time, in all honesty, that has kept me sane. It’s something that I look forward to every weekend and it’s a routine that’s helped me adjust to my hectic work-life down here. Highly recommend getting something similar for your own.

9. Know your space

Whether it’s a walking city like Boston or a driving city like Charlotte or a small town in, I don’t know, wherever you’re going with a small town, get out there and know your space. I pride myself (on many things, but on this in particular) on knowing how to navigate most of the bottom half of Charlotte without a map. Queen of the (yeah, one more) backroads… in my own heart and mind. When I first moved down here I experienced getting myself lost a few times and eventually finding my way home. Figure out where your favorite stores are, where the best coffee place is, what routes to take when your usual cut-through is blocked off for a 5k. It makes you feel really good about yourself and like you’re actually getting a bit more settled. Sidenote: my uncle is one of those guys who can tell you directions for literally 99% of the country (“85 has a lot of traffic? Just hop on 49 to 77 to breaker breaker 1-9” etc. etc.) and I aspire to be that so this helps.

10. Receive change

Refer to the above, god knows how many times, when I mentioned some form of my stubbornness. Charlotte has never been on my radar as a forever home. When I moved down here I was convinced that I was going to absolutely love my first apartment and live in it for the few years that I stayed down here. I thought my trusty little blue VW would get me through those next few years. I thought work would have me traveling all over the country and I’d never get to know this fair city. I thought I would keep to myself and make 0 friends. What I’m getting at here is that, basically, I thought a lot of things and very few of them have held true. Yeah, guys, I made friends.

In March my best friend came down to visit and as I told her my woes of having to start the new car search process, she voiced the very core of my fears out loud. Change happens. Plans get deviated from and that’s okay! In my head, it was everything but okay. I had all of this figured out, it was step by step, cookie cutter. And now, merely a year later, almost everything has changed from what I expected. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: don’t fight that. I did, until I realized I can’t. Receive the changes that happen in your life. Tell yourself what I tell myself:

It will all be a-okay, Jack.


Learn Stuff: My First Mile In A While

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So… let’s take a moment to be very real with each other. I’m not physically fit.

Once I hit 22 my body started giving me warning signs about my physical fitness, or lack thereof, with the tiniest bits of extra weight tucked here and there. Then I hit 23 and my body hit me. I started noticing bigger tucks and it made me a little worried. I’m not trying to be Adriana Lima, and I’m in no way making any negative comments about my body appearance or striving for weight loss (my weight is a perfect amount for my 5’8″ frame), but I’d like to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle! Since every passing year proves my likelihood of becoming a vampire, and therefore immortal, is getting smaller and smaller, I figured I might as well try other ways of extending this life I’ve been gifted. Being an all-around healthier person seems to lend to that.

Individual exercise was never my thing but it’s been a while since I played competitive sports in any capacity to make up for that. The last time I was habitually physically active was in high school when I played soccer, a sport I’ve played since I could walk. I’ve done the odd yoga class or elliptical session in college, but even those clock in at maybe a few times a year. A couple weeks back I went to see my doctor for my first physical since those very high school soccer years and she told me that people my age should be doing at least 2 and a half hours of cardiac training per week. And no, getting your heart rate up over Pride and Prejudice (2005) does not count.

My baby step decision was to start running a mile a day. My friend Allison is the person that put that idea into my head in the first place. She runs an incredible health and fitness blog over at Fit For Real and a few months ago she posted about how she runs a mile every day. Even throughout my months of not exercising, I couldn’t get that post out of my head. It always felt like that would be something I’d start on if I ever decided to get into exercise and as soon as I started my recent panic about my physical fitness her words kept coming back.

A few days after my doctor’s appointment it was time to face the actual event: my first run in… at least 6 months but probably closer to a year. I was excited, I felt motivated, I laced up my sneaks and hit the pavement… only to barely make it to the bottom of my street before my body realized what I was doing and started trying to shut me down with a vengeance. Shins started aching, lungs beat back against my rib cage, feet grew leaden, legs trudged and dragged like a tantruming toddler’s.

My inner monologue really took off faster than I was running with a million things my brain thought about my getting back into the cardiac swing of things, and therefore I decided to turn them around to share with you in case you’re trying to get into that habit too. Here are some notes from my first mile in a while.

First, you don’t need to like exercise. I freaking hate exercise. People ask me what my favorite thing to do to work out is and I say stretching. Running was never for me. I marvel at the fact that I ever even made it through as many soccer seasons as I did, but I also acknowledge the fact that I played defensive positions which required more of a quick sprint than the constant stamina needed from the midfielders. But running a single mile? That seems like such an insignificant amount! I’ve seen quite a few websites that say running a 10 minute mile is a decent pace for beginning runners with moderate health levels so that became my first step goal.

When I run I listen to Steady130 mixes because they’re just all around ideal and they’re long enough (about an hour) to be a constant beat rather than listening to a playlist I made myself with breaks in between the songs that don’t even really match up well in the first place. If you choose to listen to these as well a tip from me to you is to start the mix before you start running. I press play as soon as I’m ready to get dressed and let the tempo get into my head as I lace up my sneaks and take one last sip of water. I assume it puts some kind of psychological pace into my head so that starting to physically run isn’t so much of a shock to the system but who knows.

Motivation is hard to find for me, as I’m sure it is for many other people out there in the world, so I make it competitive. I’m literally the most competitive person I know and I’m pretty happy to be that way because I like to think it’s more of a personal, inside quality than an annoying, outside one. I’m constantly striving for a personal best and what makes me get up and move to achieve that is when I see things, or people, I want to incorporate in that. Take Allison. She’s a motivator, she’s an inspiration, she is not in any way shape or form being factored as someone I need to best. I need to best myself, and my competitive streak tells me that in order to do that I need to take a page out of her book. Allison is only one example here. Trust me, there are many athletes and personal connections and total strangers that I add into my internal competitiveness.

Pace is also a big problem for me. Back to those soccer influences, I would rather sprint than pace myself. I’m a long-legged girl with a big stride, but that means that I happen to outstride the pace my cardiac system can actually maintain. My legs want to leap and bound themselves up and down the street but my lungs and heart can’t keep up so the biggest challenge I have is reining myself in. Eventually I’ll work my way through the 10 minute mile goal to get to 9 minutes and 8 minutes and ideally 7 minute miles (fingers crossed) but for now I’ve got to remember to pace myself because the important thing is to just make it to the finish line.

At the end of my first run, crawling up the stairs all red in the face, my neighbors were probably looking at me thinking I just finished a marathon rather than a mile. Quick side note: I’d like to say thank you to all of the people I went to high school with for moving out of the neighborhood so I could make less of a fool of myself in front of people who actually recognize me. But I had done it! I finished a mile! And it felt supremely miserable and painful in the physical sense but kind of rewarding in the mental/emotional sense. I’m not 100% sure I agree with the runner’s high thing, but I guess I have to concede that accomplishing a run definitely boosts my dopamine. Or seratonin. Or whatever it is that makes me happy and proud of myself.

Because a mile is hardly anything! And yet it’s so much! If Allison can, I can and if I can, you can. Probably. Most likely. Let me know how it goes regardless.

Learn Stuff: Luke’s (Chicory Nutmeg) Coffee

Lorelai: Mmm. Luke, that is an exceptionally good batch of coffee.

Luke: Yeah?

Lorelai: Hello!

Luke: I added a little nutmeg.

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There aren’t many things held most dear to this here heart of mine, but a hot cup of coffee sure is one of them. My love of brewed magic has been a slow development over the years. I try to know more than I do, and avoid the people who actually succeed in that (no one needs your hipster elitism – just help me understand why this air needs pressing!), but until the time comes when I take an actual class in brewing I’m just going to have to content myself with at-home experimentation.

Another ardent holding? Gilmore Girls. It’s my all time favorite TV show and ever since I first saw it I’ve been dying to try a cup of Luke’s coffee. I feel pretty confident that I’m not the only fan who yearns for that. Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up with what feels like an insatiable thirst for some piping hot caffeine? For me, that craving is always what I associate with what Luke’s coffee must taste like. Unfortunately, Amy Sherman-Palladino never really takes you through the recipe and it’s not like Luke has his own real brand for direct purchase (someone please create that Kickstarter) so it’s all left to the imagination. Luckily I’ve got one of those and so I hereby deliver to you a dice-ily researched recipe for Stars Hollow’s very own Luke’s Diner Coffee.

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The Coffee Base

A few fans out there on the internet did a little sleuthing via paying attention to the small details and determined that at one point in the show Luke is using Hills Bros, a San Francisco brand of coffee. Do I wonder the motivation behind that? Of course. Will I question it and look for/use another brand? Of course not. East Coasters (or maybe just Rhode Islanders) might have difficulty like I did in securing the apparently very well recognized brand so know that it’s Amazonable.

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The Additives

Now, as my graciously provided quote from the series (Season 1 Episode 12) has demonstrated – Luke was into experimentation with his brewing recipe. Nutmeg was added and pleased Lorelai’s taste buds so who do I think I am to remove it? That’s right, no one. The nutmeg stays.

Want to talk a little bit about preconceived notions, though? Here’s mine: Luke’s coffee is actually made with a bit of chicory too. Now, I know he’s lived all his life in Connecticut but he seems like an olden days, classically gruff kinda man and to me that equates to the famously-New Orleans roasted root. After many days spent researching what this mysterious substance is and how to find it, I went ahead and made the commitment to add chicory to this recipe of mine. Roasting and grinding it from scratch seemed to take a lot of work (definitely not a Lorelai move) so I took the easy root and ordered 16 ounces of organic roasted chicory granules from Frontier Co-op.

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Let me stop right here and warn you that chicory ain’t no joke. That stuff packs a lot of taste for such a tiny granulated substance and I’m just looking out for the both of us when I say use it sparingly. It’s best known for being a type of coffee additive/flavoring down in New Orleans or as a healthier coffee substitute when steeped (although, it has no caffeine so take “substitute” for what you will). I wanted to integrate it to give the coffee a bit more of a woodsy taste because well… Connecticut has trees and Luke likes the outdoors so logic. It took me too many tries to figure out that a little goes a very long and astringent way.

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The Recipe(s)

I’ll save you my experimentation narrative (which happens to be many days long) and direct you straight to the good stuff: my winning combination.

The method of choice was good ol’ drip brewing since that’s how they did it in the Diner. While the stubborn fan in me insisted that this brew had to be tried Lorelai style, that is to say – black, the chicory’s pretty powerful taste creates a none too pleasant bitterness and I found that adding a tiny bit of milk helped smooth it out. But also, coffee preferences are one of the most personal things an individual can have so feel free to add whatever you need for this to taste like what you imagine Luke’s would.

1/2 cup of Hills Bros, Original Blend ground coffee to every 2 mugs of water

Had to break out the math conversions for this one but with canister-provided instructions of 1 tbsp to every 6 oz of water, increased to every 4 oz because I like my coffee strong, with my Luke’s mug serving as approximately 14 oz of water… ouch, Charlie. Just get a moderately sized mug like mine and you’ll be fine. This gives a little over a single serving so increase accordingly.

3/4 teaspoon of Roasted Chicory Root Granules

A liberal pinch of nutmeg

Bonus: the recipe can easily be converted out of the woodsy chicory taste by… get ready for it… removing the chicory. All else remains and you’ve still got Luke’s coffee.

While I’m sure any coffee tastes better in my Luke’s mug, this recipe feels particularly at home. I’m also very excited to work chicory into my daily rotation. Now all I need is to enjoy a cup on the front porch of 37 Maple Street, watching the first snow of the year with my Girls named Gilmore.

Learn Stuff: The Attention Span Experiment

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I’ve been clutching hard to the last few days of Autumn – yes, I’m in the Christmas spirit but no, I’m not going to pack this pumpkin away anytime soon.

With finals week looming around the corner, I’ve been trying out any and all ways of improving my ability to get work done and help myself with the push to end all undergraduate pushes. If you were to couple my wretched attention span with my generally bad memory, you’d get a bonafide 6 year old they’re giving a college diploma to in a few weeks.

Over the past month or so I’ve been conducting a little experiment I designed around something I read once, which is that human beings are able to focus on something for 12 minutes before their attention begins to wane. Now before you ask me where I found this information, let me get right to it and tell you that I cannot for the life of me remember and some quick Googling has confirmed that it has no clue where I got it either. You’ll just have to take that research into your own hands.

The design of this experiment was further supported by remembering how my all-around personhood idol, Rory Gilmore, switched through different subjects every time she got bored or unfocused while she crammed for finals one time. Thus a combination of those two clearly very academic sources of information was born into what I call The Attention Span ExperimentIf it’s good enough for Ace then it’s good enough for me.

The Hypothesis

Switching between subjects every 12 minutes while I study will make me more focused and will increase the amount of information I retain.

The Variations

All Subjects – Reading Only

I’m taking four classes this semester and all of them can be pretty reading intensive. For 2 hours, I tried rotating through the required readings for each subject every 12 minutes.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2

Some Subjects – Reading Only

Since two of my classes require substantially more reading than the others, I chose to focus on only the assignments for those two subjects. One class is textbook based and the other is article based. Side note: let it be said that I detest being taught by a textbook. 100% anti that. I need some human connection up in this lecture room. Again, worked for 2 hours in 12 minute intervals.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2

All Subjects – All Work

My classes also include these wonderful little things called ‘case studies’ and ‘group projects’ so if that type of work was priority over the reading assignments, I worked on that instead. Example: I worked on readings for two classes, a business plan for my capstone class, and a case study. Can you see what’s coming next? 2 hours, 12 minutes.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2

All Subjects – All Work, A Little Play

Most times out of all times, I’ll choose personal reading over school reading (wouldn’t life be swell if they were one and the same???). For this variation, I added a fifth “subject” to the interval loop (see smiley face, below). Think All Subjects – All Work plus a block of personal reading to give myself a break from the boring.

Classes: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 🙂 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 🙂

*Note: I did not sit for 8 hours and go through all of these back to back. Every variation was tried on an entirely different day. Also, I used 2 hour blocks because that seemed appropriately long enough to get me into the homework mindset but that’s as far as the logic goes.

The Results

Well… it’s the thought that counts, right?

This was interesting to attempt, but overall most of the variations just caused increased frustration. When rotating through just reading assignments, I found that even though the page count was up I couldn’t say I actually finished anything in its entirety. The issue with that is the to-do list conundrum: since nothing could be crossed off, I felt unaccomplished and unmotivated. My favorite variation was definitely All Subjects – All Work, A Little Play. We all know we’re going to end up procrastinating anyways and it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

I tried, I really did, but at the end of the day I still had trouble absorbing information with all the switching around. Not to mention the timer left me feeling exasperated.

My focus was lost before it was found, so I guess I’ll just have to keep looking. Do let me know what you think works best. I’m desperate for tips to keep me productive.