23 Thoughts On Turning 23

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I started working on this list a month or so ago, jotting down thoughts whenever they struck me of what I wanted the coming year to be like. Most are silly, some are serious – coincidentally how I would also describe the LinkedIn “photo shoot” outtakes I’ve included here. Realized it’s fun to document these things, especially for the sake of looking back a few years from now to see the changes.

Thanks for having me, 23. I’m super excited to be here.


1) Stop rounding up your age before you get there. You’ve got all of next year to be that old.

2) Eat more potatoes.

3) Eat less chocolate.

4) Always give your little brother a hug when you come home.

5) Keep poison out of your heart.

6) Another year gone by, another every-Sandra-Bullock-movie-marathon gone undone. JUST DO IT.

7) Hydrate.

8) Don’t force it.

9) Tell your friends that you’re proud of them because you are.

10) Have courage & be kind.

11) Crush that new job.

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12) Stop assuming the worst – sometimes the friendly stranger is just a friendly stranger.

13) Remember to miss the snow every once in a while.

14) Make yourself laugh every. single. day. (you’re very good at this, shouldn’t be a problem)

15) Follow those gut feeling first instincts. Instead of not doing that and immediately regretting it 99.87% of the time.

16) Don’t pet the sweaty things.

17) Never give a half-hearted hug. Bear or bust.

18) Surround yourself with more plants, they make you very happy. Just try to stop naming them, cause then they make you sad when they inevitably die.

19) Ask people to tell you their stories.

20) Learn some natural remedies.

21) Be prepared to lose arguments and practice taking it graciously.

22) Bite to ten. Your heart will feel happier after not saying what your flip-switch temper wants you to.

23) This is the year… to listen to more Incubus. (2009’s “Monuments & Melodies” – ENOUGH SAID)

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Learn a Book! – 20[16k]

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“Seize the moments of happiness, make them love you, fall in love yourself! That is the only real thing in this world – the rest is all nonsense.” – Leo Tolstoy

For those of you who followed along with last year, learning some books was quite an accomplishment. In 2015 I read 30 books and racked up almost 12,000 pages. This year, rather than upping the same old ante again by tacking on a few more books to the total, I decided to shift the challenge over to those page counts. It’s something I track anyways, so why not make it the focus this go-around?

20[16k] pages. Let’s do this.


  1. “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer [461 pgs]
  2. “Cress” by Marissa Meyer [550 pgs]
  3. “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh [308 pgs]
  4. “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater [408 pgs]
  5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee [323 pgs]
  6. “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt [139 pgs]
  7. “Dr. Franklin’s Island” by Ann Halam [245 pgs]
  8. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss [662 pgs]
  9. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë [524 pgs]
  10. “Skibbereen: The Famine Story” by Terri Kearney & Philip O’Regan [84 pgs]
  11. “The Trial” by Franz Kafka [210 pgs]
  12. “Dubliners” by James Joyce [192 pgs]
  13. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë [326 pgs]
  14. “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy [464 pgs]
  15. “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover” by Groucho Marx [224 pgs]
  16. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows [240 pgs]
  17. “The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stiefvater [437 pgs]
  18. “84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff [94 pgs]
  19. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews [295 pgs]
  20. “Blue Lily, Lily Blue” by Maggie Stiefvater [391 pgs]
  21. “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George [370 pgs]
  22. “Lights Out Till Dawn” by Dee Williams [341 pgs]
  23. “Opening Belle” by Maureen Sherry [352 pgs]
  24. “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis [270 pgs]
  25. “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss [1,000 pgs]
  26. “hush, hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick [391 pgs]
  27. “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides [406 pgs]
  28. “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway [127 pgs]
  29. “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard [383 pgs]
  30. ** “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton [180 pgs]
  31. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut [215 pgs]
  32. “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee [278 pgs]
  33. “The Last Star” by Rick Yancey [338 pgs]
  34. “Ghost Fleet” by P.W. Singer and August Cole [379 pgs]
  35. “Rapture” by Lauren Kate [466 pgs]
  36. “Northanger Abbey” by Val McDermid [343 pgs]
  37. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne [308 pgs]
  38. “Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir” by Alan Cumming [282 pgs]
  39. “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King [251 pgs]
  40. “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley [482 pgs]
  41. “Diary of an Oxygen Thief” by anonymous [151 pgs]
  42. ** “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman [286 pgs]
  43. “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller [143 pgs]
  44. “Between Two Thorns” by Emma Newman [327 pgs]
  45. “The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide” by Stephenie Meyer [543 pgs]
  46. “As Old As Time” by Liz Braswell [484 pgs]
  47. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by JK Rowling [309 pgs]
  48. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by JK Rowling  [341 pgs]

Total Pages: 16,323


Bolded books come recommended by yours truly. Please do reach out if you want to know why.

** This signifies an absolute must read, irrespective of genre or author or any other segregating factor. I consider it the top recommendation I could ever give to a book – so definitely go pick up a copy right this instant.

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads as well. I don’t write reviews, I seldom remember to rank the stars, and you won’t see a status update from me until the book is moved from “Want to Read” to “Read.” So… enjoy that.

 

Forewarn the Madness: A Look Back @ 2015

Mid-December. The point in time where we, as a collective society, begin drafting up our resolutions for the coming new year. Oftentimes they’re about the things we didn’t do, the aspirations, the lifestyle changes. Some might say that making that list is easy. “1) Get a 6-pack. 2) Visit Peru. 3) Call my mom once a week.” But it’s the big ticket items we have a harder time coming up with, if we even think to focus on them at all. How many times have you thought: “You know, I just want to be a nicer person next year.”

The world around us is tumultuous, to say the very least, and I’m not going to go into any more detail than that because we’re all very aware of the lives we get to look forward to living. This year, I’m all about the planning. Something tells me that the next twelve months are going to be even more of a whirl than the last twelve and I want to be prepared! I want to forewarn the madness. It’s not always about “new year, new me.” In fact, we wouldn’t even be able to figure out who we want that “me” to become without the subconscious assistance of all the things we just went through.

So rather than a list of resolutions for next year, I’m going to reflect back on the things that happened to me throughout this one: the wonderful and the most painstakingly terrible. Not in any way comprehensive, but just a quick brainstorm of the major impacts. Then, let’s see if they can can help me find 2016’s big ticket.


The Worst

  • Lost my raison d’etre, my main man, the core of my life in October and it’s been hard but I keep on moving cause I know that he’d expect nothing less.

The Best

  • Survived an entire year living by myself
  • Made it to the age of 22 without a single… okay, with minimal scratches
  • Walked a marathon

My lifetime bucket list included running the Boston Marathon but the older I get the more I realize that I just hate running. In September my mother lost her friend, coworker, and Just Wings team captain Vicki to the battle against cancer so I agreed to do the entirety of the Jimmy Fund Walk with her. The Walk follows the same route as the Boston Marathon and wow – this was easily the most mentally and physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m a huge fan of walking, I prefer it to any other method of transportation (driving around in the summertime with a frappuccino not included), but this was tough.

So proud of myself for making it 26.2 miles, but more importantly I’m proud of my mom for her own physical endurance and for inspiring me to get to that finish line for us. Andddddd I’ll never do that again. See you at the 3-mile marker next year, Mom!

  • Studied abroad at the University of Cambridge

The thing that made this experience so powerful for me was that it was the first time I got to study something I love. It’s a sad reality that this must be what life is like for people who picked passion over practicality. I won’t go into my time abroad too much, but you can read all about it in past posts.

  • Got a “real job” in the Spring, which made going through the Fall semester a lot more relaxing without that added stress. I’ll be moving to Charlotte, NC next year so Welcome To Adulthood, Cass!
  • Took the creative plunge and shared this blog with the world. Still amazed anyone cares to read it.
  • Went to see Cinderella in theaters four times this year (it really affected me, what can I say?) and the message is still stuck with me to promote to you now: Have courage and be kind.
  • Completed my undergraduate degree

W H A T ? ? ? Absolutely reeling from the fact that my college experience is over. Bittersweet doesn’t seem like a strong enough adjective to encompass the feeling of knowing that these past 4.5 years flew by and yet there are still so many years of adventure ahead of me.

  • Met wonderful, incredible people in wonderful, incredible places. Some at home, some abroad, all who made the biggest impact on me as a person. Thank you for making me lucky enough to call you a friend.

First – this exercise has made me realize how fortunate I am to have a dozen good things and only one bad. Granted, the one is worth more than the dozen all pooled together but still. In short, what a year.

Second – I found my big ticket, my focus! 2016 will be a year of showing people that I love them, be it new friends or old friends or family or strangers. Never feeling embarrassed or hesitating to say it to a best friend or a little cousin. Love is not allocated on a per group basis; it’s a different strand for every individual being out there. We feel it in lots of different ways, but how often do we communicate that?

A big example of one of those ways (which I like to stress a lot) is self-love. That concept is something I feel very privileged to have in my life. Not a day goes by where I don’t count myself lucky for being happy with the things I’ve done and the person I’ve become. This is not a sentiment meant to be gloating, but rather sanguine. And so my hope is for everyone else in the world to realize their own rarities and achieve that kind of happiness as well; to live lives so abundantly full of wonderful experiences. Anything I can do to help others feel happy and loved, that’s what I’ll resolve to do in 2016.

A friend sent me an article the other day that really contextualized the importance of time, or rather the importance of being aware of time. We don’t get enough of it, do we? Just another reason not to waste the opportunities to make a person feel that they’ve got someone out there rooting for them, proud of them, and loving them.

So congratulate yourself on all the things you overcame this year and pick your big ticket focus for the next one. If you want to stick with calling your mom once a week, I guess that’s okay too.

My Senior Semester Beantown Bucket List [@BostonMA]

The Ell Hall Husky

I’ve spent the last 4+ years of my life working towards one of those diploma things and now I’m left with mere months until this undergraduate life is all over and done with. Technically my graduation date is in 2016, but technically I’m actually finished with school at the end of 2015. So I’m gonna do like any true senior would and choose the gimmicky one with the smallest amount of effort – here’s a list of 15 things I want to do in Boston before I leave Northeastern!

  1. Finally try something from Chicken Lou’s: Famous eatery on campus that I’ve never actually eaten at before, though I could pick out the smell of their fresh fried chicken from 10 miles away. Or at least from Richards Hall.
  2. Go to an ImprovBoston show: Improv is one of those things that is either so fun to go to because it’s so good or so fun to go to because it’s so bad. I’m leaning towards checking out a student showcase, but I wouldn’t mind The People’s Show either.
  3. Share a meal with Shillman Cat: Did it! First meal back at school consisted of a burrito and a one-sided conversation with NU’s favorite cat statue. Not sure why I wanted to do this, but at least I’ve accomplished something here.
  4. Crawl to bars with El Tour: These seem to be a popular activity amongst the young’uns. I guess that makes sense since they started as Northeastern house party crawls. I’d like to go Drink to Fall but I’ll be off adventuring elsewhere so Christmastime Crawl, anyone?
  5. A finals week Nose Rub: Everyone is told about the mystical tradition of rubbing the Ell Hall Husky’s nose for luck before finals week but I’ve never actually done it. I’m asking you all to skip this year cause I’m gonna need to take all the luck I can get on my way out of here.
  6. Last Supper in Stetson East: I was able to survive my entire first year of college on little more than chocolate fro-yo with marshmallows and french fries with mashed potatoes. I definitely won’t sob real almost-adult tears upon that revisit.
  7. Have a cup of coffee at the end of every Green Line: A lot of students become acquainted with the MBTA and the Green Line is where I’ve spent most of my time over the past few years. I felt I should give it a proper send-off a la riding it all the way to the last stop on each branch for some yummy hot beverages.
  8. Sit in on that cool music class: MUSC 1111 is apparently the technical term for it. BUT unfortunately for me, ‘Rock Music’ is not being offered this semester so I’ve gotta go for the next best thing: MUSC 1112 aka ‘Jazz.’ So many people have taken one or the other of these 500-person classes throughout the years and I’ve never had space to be one of the cool kids. So, I decided screw it – I’m gonna crash a lecture anyways.
  9. Go to The Sinclair again: My favorite concert venue in Boston (technically Cambridge). I’d love to go boot-stomping and beer-drinking just one more time, especially when they’ve got Wormtown ‘Be Hoppy’ on draught. Point me in the direction of the bluegrass!
  10. See a Harvard Football game: I absolutely adore college football, but silly me picked a school without a team. Given that watching a game in person will also be a first for me, I figured what better place to do that than in the oldest collegiate stadium in the country?
  11. Tour Jack’s Abbey Brewery: Massachusetts is home to a lot of breweries and I’d like to take advantage of that. Did you know I like beer? Is that evident? Have I mentioned it only 1500 times in the past few posts? Because, I like beer.
  12. FINALLY visit the MFA: Now this one is downright unacceptable. Not only have I lived literally right across the street from this place for years, but my school ID gets me in for free! And I’ve never gone! There is a pretty cool looking Herb Ritts exhibit calling my name.
  13. Have a people-watching brunch on Newbury: I better hurry up and do this one soon while the weather holds up. Every time I stroll down this famous Boston street, I’m supremely jealous of the friends having brunch and gossiping on outdoor patios. Which of you wants to share a pitcher of bellinis with me one of these Sundays?
  14. Attend the Boston Common Tree Lighting: Okay, okay, so I’ve been to this before too… But that was freshman year and its one of my favorite memories! I adored it! Christmas in Boston is one of the most magical things you can experience and I just want to drink some hot cocoa, listen to carols, ring a few bells, and jig my way home down Comm Ave.
  15. ACTUALLY GRADUATE!

Honorary Suggmentions

Let me tell you, I put very minimal effort into thinking about this list. So if there is something you think I absolutely have to do as a college senior or as a Bostonian then please PLEASE suggest / mention it! Note: stay away from the typical big tourist things. Yes, we’ve all Freedom Trailed our way to the North End after one too many Sam Adams down in Southie on St. Patrick’s Day. I hate cannolis.

Learn a Book! – 30 in 2015

Pembroke Library

Pembroke Library

Remember the good ol’ elementary school days where you had to read 25 books over the course of a school year? Which was a big freaking deal? Well, now I’m an “adult” (by law, not by choice) and it feels like reading 25 books in a year is still a big freaking deal! In 2014, my goal was to meet that elementary school standard again and let me tell you, I struggled.

This year, I’ve upped the ante to 30 books and, in an effort to hold myself accountable, I’m sharing that list with you! (Disclaimer: you can judge me all you want for my choices in Young Adult Fantasy books but I am going to once again refer you to my This Is Me page and consequently tell you to go stuff it…)

Bolded books come recommended by yours truly. Please do reach out if you want to know why.


  1. “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell [624 pgs]
  2. “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro [245 pgs]
  3. “One Direction: Who We Are” by One Direction (lmfao, I know, okay? I know.) [350 pgs]
  4. “Torment” by Lauren Kate [452 pgs]
  5. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens [466 pgs]
  6. “Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman [286 pgs]
  7. “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol [312 pgs]
  8. “Etta and Otto and Russell and James” by Emma Hooper [277 pgs]
  9. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith [319 pgs]
  10. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen [249 pgs]
  11. “Charm” by Sarah Pinborough [187 pgs]
  12. “The Mime Order” by Samantha Shannon [501 pgs]
  13. “Half Bad” by Sally Green [394 pgs]
  14. “Grey” by E.L. James [559 pgs]
  15. “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen [251 pgs]
  16. “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen [335 pgs]
  17. “On The Beach” by Nevil Shute [312 pgs]
  18. “Wyrd Sisters” by Terry Pratchett [297 pgs]
  19. “Honeymoon” by Amy Jenkins [297 pgs]
  20. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer (I read this saga every year, ya dig?) [498 pgs]
  21. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury [165 pgs]
  22. “1984” by George Orwell [297 pgs]
  23. “Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol [292 pgs]
  24. “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse [248 pgs]
  25. “The Casual Vacancy” by JK Rowling [503 pgs]
  26. “Passion” by Lauren Kate [420 pgs]
  27. “Life and Death” by Stephenie Meyer [387 pgs]
  28. “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer [387 pgs]
  29. “New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer [563 pgs]
  30. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy [1,224 pgs]

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads as well. I don’t write reviews, I seldom remember to rank the stars, and you won’t see a status update from me until the book is moved from “Want to Read” to “Read.” So… enjoy that.