Consumerist Tendencies, Vol. 1

Google “September weather meme” and you’ll find an array of results breaking down the nuances of the weather patterns from the ninth month of the year.  And because I happen to enjoy pointing out out of the ordinary weather patterns as much as I enjoy complaining about them when I’m not appropriately dressed for the elements, I feel a strong connection to these memes.

Complaint or observation + [noun, verb, adjective] = the genesis of a meme.

As a celebration, a tribute, an ode, etc. to the start of what is my favorite time of the year, I’ve made a digital scrapbook of sorts that documents that coveted fall, back to school but not really, new year new me, aesthetic I’ve been pining for since mid August.

I should disclose that while I only own four of the mentioned pieces (sweatshirt, corduroy pants, sherpa jacket, and wrap leopard dress), I want all of them :/

Is this good enough reason to encourage overspending? Probably not. Will I still wax poetic on about their imagined value in my wardrobe? Yes.

I plan to wear this sweatshirt from Everlane a lot. Like a lot a lot. I already took it out for a spin on a 70-ish degree day and smiled through every minute of it. But really, it transitions summer-y skirts and bottoms into those few golden weeks in early October where leaving the house without a jacket is not a grave mistake.

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It also works with these corduroy pants from Aritzia. As would a plain tee, silky button down, and classic turtleneck. Said pants are long enough to just skim the floor (on my 5”3 frame) in a cool I wear trousers, not pants kind of way and have the most perfect snug and flattering high waist. I wish every pant I owned fit this way.

This jacket from Aritzia tops it all off for when it does eventually chilly. I’ve been wanting a denim sherpa jacket for a few years now so this is a purchase I can’t wait to be able to wear. It looks especially great with a bunch of gold jewelry too.

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I’ve been looking for an opportunity to lean into the animal print trend and this dress from Zara has let me bring that dream into fruition. It’s much longer on me than on the pictured model but I love it because when I tried it on it with a pair of tall suede ankle boots it gave the illusion of high boots without the commitment. Bonus, I can wear it with black Vans too.

A blazer is essential. One that is preferably oversized and makes me feel like Alexa Chung and Lizzy Hadfield. There will come a time in the dead of winter where I will try to squeeze layers of sweaters underneath it to keep warm after growing tired of needing to wear a puffer coat everyday. But for now, I will cherish the fact that I can wear it as a jacket/top hybrid.

I will probably spend four months looking for a pair of dupes for these Dear Frances boots. I also want this to be the year I find the perfect pair of lace up oxfords but I have yet to find any contenders that are in a reasonable price range.

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If I buy this cardigan I know I’ll have to practice strong self restraint to not wear it more than once a week. I’m growing to love greens and yellows to compliment fall and winter dressing. They’ve got the momentum to replace every variation of red and burgundy.

I’m contemplating this shirt from Paloma Wool to wear by itself or with a turtleneck underneath a la Timothee Chalamet (iconic) in CBYN (iconic).

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If I didn’t have an aversion to wearing gloves or didn’t live in climate that put me at risk of falling victim to frostbite, I would carry around this Kayu Hudson bag from Reformation big with me all winter long.

If I could get this workwear jumpsuit from Farrow it would lessen the amount of times I’ll stand in front of my closet in a panic about what to wear by half. I may or may not have residual workwear jumpsuit envy from Paramore’s After Laughter lewks.

This dress (made by Just Female) is also enticing. It can be just as easily worn with sneakers and aforementioned sherpa jacket on a brisk, 55 degree day as it can be paired with tights for later on in the winter is something I won’t know I needed until it’s the perfect day for it.

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I haven’t quite cracked the code for fall to winter footwear that won’t make me wish I was wearing sneakers halfway through the day. For all of the things I can list as reasons why I don’t love the summer, finding fun footwear isn’t one of them. So brb while I scour the internet for some shoes to go with all of these clothes (!!!).

The Thrilling World of Killing Eve

When I watched Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag I loved it almost immediately. It isn't a show that's trying to be loved and by in fault of that, it becomes one that you want to recommend to everyone you know. Waller-Bridge flips the "flawed female protagonist" trope on its head in Fleabag and completely demolishes it in Killing Eve.

It doesn’t quite fit into one category; it is part dark comedy, part spy drama, part cat and mouse thriller. It will pull you in and spit you out a seemingly different person, one that is adept at being able to predict how a psychopathic assassin will execute her plan of, er, execution.

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Killing Eve also exists in a zeitgeist of a TV landscape that champions original content but is also quick to reboot shows from the 90s and early 2000s for reasons that are beyond me. But this series -- which is an adaptation of the Codename Villanelle novelas by Luke Jennings -- strikes the perfect mix of intrigue and entertainment. You’ll love it without realizing all of the reasons why until you’ve started to try and describe it to someone else and before you know it, 20 minutes have passed and your friend’s eyes have glazed over not because what you’re saying is boring but because you're talking in circles.

Eve Polastri is a deskbound British intelligence agent (who, for clarification, was born in the UK, grew up in Connecticut and then moved back) that lives with her “nice and good” husband, Nico, in London. She has a thankless job that she is too smart for, great hair, and a penchant for female serial killers. When she learns of the string of murders being committed by an assassin with a distinct style of execution and no fear of being caught, i.e. leaving DNA evidence at the scene of the crime, Eve believes that the killer is a woman. This is in fact true, and the aforementioned killer (played by Jodie Comer) goes by the moniker of Villanelle, “an unfeeling adrenaline junkie, someone who murders not for vengeance but for pleasure.”

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The mediocrity of Eve's day to day life is directly juxtaposed with Villanelle's indulgences of the most hedonistic form. She might be a psychopath but we can still envy her wardrobe, her hair, her skin’s ability to never look gaunt after many a sleepless nights. Villanelle’s aura of allure doesn’t escape Eve -- that is her MO,  her way of charming her way into intimate situations with her soon to be victims -- but it is often a challenge to keep a safe distance away from someone that has taken as much of an interest in you as you have in them.

While Eve and Villanelle only encounter each other in person a handful of times, they become so intertwined in one another’s lives that when they do meet face to face, you don’t know what to expect. This element of surprise is one that runs through all of the scenes with Eve and Villanelle, and it is one of the best things about the show.

When Villanelle breaks into Eve’s house she doesn’t try to physically harm her,  she just wants to have dinner with her. Eve heats a pre-made shepherd’s pie and watches on as this serial assassin sits in her house, eats her food, and tries to bamboozle her into thinking that she wants out of this whole killing people in cold blood as a profession game. As a viewer I’m happy to see Eve calling her out on her bullshit (her words) but can’t help but laugh when Villanelle dramatically asks, “Can we get one thing clear before we go on with this? Is that a sweater attached to a shirt? Is it two separate pieces? How does it work?” This is what Phoebe Waller-Bridge is so adept at doing; undercutting tension with humor.

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There are many instances in the series that force us to think about what the endgame is for these two characters. Eve wants Villanelle dead -- she said so after she killed one of Eve’s partners and dear friends, Bill -- but she has opportunities to do so without putting herself in harm’s way. Eve is very clearly not a trained assassin and would stand virtually no chance against Villanelle if she caught her off guard -- see her trying to fend her off with a toilet brush -- but because Villanelle occupies Eve’s mind and the physical space around her, the boundaries between spy and assassin, cat and mouse, start to cease to exist.

It is in fact Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s intention to blur the lines so much that we’re left wanting to know more about why these two people can’t seem to get enough of each other. “I don’t think they could articulate it,” Waller-Bridge tells IndieWire. “When I realized I couldn’t articulate it, but I could feel it as a writer, that allowed me to give them the same dilemma; that they would never be able to explain to anyone else in the world what it is about the other.”

By the end of the season, the surface level of tension rises so high that the final episode is a 40 minutes of holding your breath waiting for the next shoe to drop. When the most significant line of dialogue is just three words uttered from Eve, “God, I’m tired” it feels only fitting that we’re left with more questions by the time the credits start rolling. Are these characters exactly who we think they are, who we expect them to be?

 

With a story like this one, it’s better to not try and predict what is to come. Savor every moment of Sandra Oh’s performance as Eve -- a long overdue opportunity to show off the acting chops she has spent 30 years honing -- that is every bit funny, down to earth, and witty. Her identity as a first generation Korean-Canadian makes her Emmy nomination historic for the Asian community but is a reminder of all of the talent that has been overlooked by Hollywood in the past and present.

It is easy to want to project our wildest fantasies of a just and feminist world onto the Killing Eve universe; a world where women have as many opportunities to be assassins as their male counterparts. Killing Eve does not have to be a beacon for the future of television; it would be unfair to presume that every show starring women has to speak for a future generation of actresses, writers, and producers. It didn't have to be groundbreaking to be good. It just happens to be both.

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Re: When Your Favorite Influencer Couple Breaks Up

On a random day a few weeks ago, I spent a good hour visiting and revisiting the Instagram profile of a Youtuber/beauty influencer because I was genuinely upset at the possibility that her and her longtime boyfriend had broken up. I read the comments that people were leaving on her newest pictures. They were a variation of questions about where her boyfriend was, glorified theses that cited other posts that proved why they were definitely, positively broken up, and, as always, unsolicited advice about a range of topics.

Oddly enough, the two of them went on to post break up announcements on their respective profiles later that week. The messages were heartfelt and as genuine as they could be. Kind of like the Instagram relationship press releases that have been respectively shared by Chris Pratt and Anna Farris, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, and Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, etc. you know the drill. 

But unlike these celebrities, this couple had cultivated a following around their life that was attainably aspirational. Influencers wear many hats these days but it seems like there are few whose content feels genuine (a couple of sponsored videos here and there are harmless, they have to pay the bills too).

Because they could strike that ideal middle ground, it only made sense to root for their happiness. 

After reading one of their statements for the first time I returned to it again, and again, until I felt bummed out enough to feel solidly pensive about the state of modern relationships for the rest of my afternoon.

Here were these two people I have never and likely will never meet in real life. For the past five years, I watched their videos (one part of the former couple is a beauty/fashion/lifestyle guru) as I got ready for or unwinded from an eventful day. When I studied abroad in the city that they live in, one of my friends and I visited the farmer's market they frequented in the hopes of maybe getting a chance to see them but also to feel more like locals.

I know that this probably sounds as weird as it feels to write about it. I'm not an active participant in any internet communities and am a stranger to comment sections. I didn't even start liking social media posts of people I don't know IRL until a few months ago. But that doesn't exclude me from being able to say that it made me sad to know that a relationship in which both people had strong enough faith in to broadcast it to hundreds of thousands of people had to ultimately come to an end. 

Why do I care so much? Because everyone else does.

We're obsessed, to a degree, with other people's relationships; for reasons that vary between curiosity and envy, there's no hiding the appeal of spectatorship. How else could you explain the popularity of boyfriend/girlfriend tags on YouTube?

There's something about seeing strangers with varying degrees of fame live out their life publicly that has crosses over with the appeal of reality TV. Except the space in which YouTube inhabits -- one where the creators are their own broadcasters and streamers -- has its origins in fostering community and encouraging creative expression. Those two tenets automatically call for transparency (for the most part).

The handful of YouTube and social media influencers I consistently follow feel familiar to me in a way that mainstream celebrities don't. I guess that means they've succeeded in their job or perhaps are simply more appealing to follow than the average person or at least the ones we know in real life. 

We don't expect people with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and followers or more to share every detail of their personal life with us but we're intrigued when they do, even if it's just a glimpse.

My Favorite Places to Receive and Send Plan Cancelling Texts From

1. With my finger en route to click "continue watching" for another episode of Queer Eye or [insert name of other show that pulls on humanity's heartstrings].

2. In the moments before I succumb to the pressure of picking at a not-ready-to-be-popped zit as a means of putting off deciding what I'm going to wear. 

3. Swaddled in a blanket, on the -- rare occasion -- I'm nose deep in a great book that I'm pages away from finishing. In a Nancy Meyers fantasy world, there is a Diptyque candle burning in the background and I'm wearing a cashmere sweatsuit. 

4. In the throes of a Pinterest spree.

5. Sipping on my favorite metaphorical cocktail of YouTube videos consisting of celebrity interviews, One Direction music videos, beauty tutorials, and influencer vlogs.

6. In the middle of reading a think piece on how Riverdale turned Archie into a fascist (via The Outline).

7. Online "shopping" for clothes that I would wear if I ever got invited places.

Riverdale: The Blackboard Jungle

It's 2018 and Riverdale is back and better than ever? Maybe not, but it's still good. 

As the town returns to normalcy after its holiday episode, Jughead reminds us that Riverdale might just be a place where bad stuff happens. I know what you're thinking. What are the alternatives? Unwavering hospitality? Nope. The list of other potentials ends there. Basically the most decent and reasonable person in Riverdale is Pop.

Moving on from that unnecessary tangent, The Blackboard Jungle shows us that life after the Black Hood's unveiling isn't as peaceful as it was hoped to be.

The Lodges are in cahoots with Mayor McCoy to get her to shut down Southside High in order to build, I'm assuming, shiny new condos. My details are fuzzy. 

Veronica is now, sort of, in on the family business of stirring up class tensions in unassuming rural towns and capitalizing on people's political ambitions. Her parents warn her of the merging of Southside and Riverdale high schools and encourage her to do her best to be diplomatic and ease the worries of her classmates about the big announcement.

What follows is a series of confused and surprised reactions to Principal Weatherbee's loudspeaker announcement, Reggie's (and the other out of focus players of the basketball team) being the best of them all.

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After brushing off Kevin's suggestion that she's nervous about the school merge because it means the return of Jughead (possibly Bughead?!), Betty goes home and finds an unexpected guest. It's a no longer pregnant Polly. She had the twins and was intent on not having anyone in her family learn the news. She also has no plans to return to Riverdale (smart) but will instead stay at her cult/farm (not as smart). This also lays the ground for Betty trying to find a solution to a problem that is yet to present itself.

Betty knows her mom will be upset about the Polly news; she went from two daughters and one (sort of) son to just one daughter, so how about reaching out to that long lost brother?

Charles (Chic) Cooper as it turns out was never adopted and after having to leave the convent orphanage hybrid that is the Sisters of Silent Mercy, now lives in Riverdale's (very own!) youth hostel. Suffice to say that life hasn't been great for him and he is not very fond of the Coopers. 

On the same fateful day that Archie decides to dust off his old guitar case to dedicate more time to his music he is literally stopped in his tracks by an "FBI" agent. The agency caught a whiff (sorry?) of the Lodge's sketchy business dealings and want Archie to be their man on the inside. 

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Archie is hesitant at first but takes the agent's contact information anyway -- hey, maybe he can get a summer internship out of him -- and decides that a dinner at the Lodge residence will give him an insight into whether or not he should go through with this.

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In an expected unfolding of events, it does. The FBI wanted to get details on the Lodge's relationship with Nick St. Clair and on the "accident" that almost killed him. Before going to the Lodge's, Archie meets with Cheryl to ask her about what exactly happened with Nick. It's then that he learns that Nick tried to hurt Veronica as well, giving Hiram a clear motive to hurt the St. Clair family and Nick specifically. Hiram and Hermione also do an albeit humorous, but unconvincing job of communicating that they had nothing to do with Nick St. Clair's accident.

Later that night, Archie lies in bed and has a shirtless realization that helping the FBI is the right thing to do. What a sentence. This can't go without saying that he has gives "Dark Archie" his time in the limelight when he visits Nick St. Clair at boarding school to give him a stern talking to.

Jughead and his affable Serpent sidekicks start their first day of school at Riverdale High and are met with a welcome committee consisting of Veronica, Archie, and yeah that's it.

But because this is Riverdale, the drama is high and near. Cheryl and Reggie (mostly Reggie) are scheming for the sake of scheming. They get Principal Weatherbee on board with banning the Serpents from wearing their leather jackets for the sake of school unity. Jughead is not pleased with this profiling.   

He's only temporarily convinced to surrender to the pressure to opt for a more mainstream choice of outerwear for when he's at school. Even Toni and Sweet Pea don't want to get suspended! But nevertheless, he persists and has to face the consequences.

FP is working at Pop's again (I'm unsure of how the progression of this played out) which means that there are designated hours during which he can't wear his Serpent jacket. Long story short Jughead should suck it up. 

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Betty and her mom's adventure to the youth hostel, to no one's surprise, went awry. But I guess Betty's "my sibling is in danger" senses have been re-awakened by her meeting her brother and arrives at the hostel to find Chic at the perfect time to save him from a strange man knifing his arm. So Betty pepper sprays the dude, gets Chic out of there, and brings him to her house where her dad + an old first aid kit suffice for the care of a licensed medical professional.

By doing this, Betty has literally and figuratively let dark and murder-y spirits into the Cooper home. It was obvious that he feels resentment towards his long-lost family, but it seems like he wants to inflict harm on one member specifically. 

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Processing Mass Shootings

Earlier this month the world watched in horror as the events of the deadliest mass shooting in current US history unfolded. I wondered how long its news lifespan would be this time. How long would it take the president and his party to convince us that all we can do is say our prayers and move on?

The American public is often forced to view tragedies like these as unpreventable. They're attributed to the unpredictability of the evil and crazed lone wolf. It's as if we are expected to be content with the fact that if the men who commit these atrocities fit into the prototype of 'white male', then there is no way they can be flagged or stopped. 

Notable members of the Republican party retreat to the topic of mental health in their many poor attempts to quell American's concerns about the inevitability of mass shootings. It masks their cowardice towards having productive conversations about gun control. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting Paul Ryan spoke out about the importance of mental health reform, on its ability to prevent events like these from happening again. He might have to be reminded that his effort to champion the repeal of the ACA would slash the one of the largest "expansions of mental health and substance use disorder coverage in a generation (Mentalhealth.gov)." This debases the public health issue surrounding our country's stigma towards mental health. It's taking credit for policy that you have not fought for and will never fight for. 

When we apply Paul Ryan's logic to the greater issue of gun violence, we can state that the problem isn't guns, it's making sure they are out of the hands of the people who shouldn't have them. But as the Department of Health and Human Services has stated (and as this was referenced in this article from The Nation), "most people with mental illness are not violent, and only 3 percent–5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness." 

Maybe this retreat to violence is a product of our culture. I happened to be reading bell hooks' All About Love when the events in Las Vegas unfolded. In it, hooks dedicates as much time to unpacking the value of love and community as she does discussing the cultural impact our loveless society has had on us as individuals.

“The more we watch spectacles of meaningless death, of random violence and cruelty, the more afraid we come in our daily lives. We cannot embrace the stranger with love for we fear the stranger. We believe the stranger is a messenger of death who wants our life. This irrational fear is an expression of madness if we think of madness as meaning we are out of touch with reality. Even though we are more likely to be hurt by someone we know than a stranger, our fear is directed toward the unknown and the unfamiliar. That fear brings with it intense paranoia and a constant obsession with safety"(194).

An obsession with and desire for safety seems quite reasonable if it means that, in the long run, it can protect us when the ever looming threat of deadly violence becomes a reality. The problem with this reasoning is that it leads us to a circular fallacy; the "good guys" with guns have never been able to stop a mass shooting from happening. We know this and so do lawmakers. 

America accounts for 4.4 percent of the world's population but for almost half of the civilian owned guns (Vox). State gun ownership stats directly correspond to their rate of gun related deaths (Vox). The party with majority rule in Congress knows the risks that their lax gun control laws pose to their citizens and continually choose to do nothing about it. Toxic masculinity and the patriarchal structure of this country have inextricably tied gun rights to America's favorite trigger word: freedom. It's a lethal formula. 

A List of All of the Browser Tabs I Repeatedly Open and Neglect

There are a few things that I’ve come to realize I’ll never do. Like watch Game of Thrones, be the type of person that is okay with going to parties where the only person I know is the host, and not texting my mom to approve of all of my prospective clothing purchases.

I am, however, capable of fostering unnecessary attachments to the all of the tabs that I open on my Internet browser of choice. What if an article unpacking the pitfalls and/or genius of our generation inspires me to make a small decision that will alter the course of my future? Or what if that pair of shoes I wanted to get as an investment piece, but never actually intended to buy, go on sale and I never knew about it? THE HORROR.

There usually aren’t enough hours in the day for me to read all of the articles I’ve opened or money in my bank account to order all of the items in my countless shopping carts, but I’m trying to live up to, and beyond, my own expectations here. Or, more reasonably, am in a constant state of trying to prevent future FOMO. This might not be healthy.

But now, a list of all of the tabs that are stuck in a vicious cycle of disappearing when I turn off my computer for the night and reappearing the next morning:

  1. A think piece from The Atlantic that unpacks the significance of X or Y cultural phenomenon but is long enough for me to keep putting off reading it until I "have more time to really digest it."

  2. A series of Reductress and ClickHole articles that I will, at some point, send to a group text when the topic of conversation is juuust right.

  3. The schedule of my local yoga, barre, spin, and pilates studios. Every instructor says that the hardest part is getting to class and I... have absolutely no reason to argue with that.

  4. My Outdoor Voices shopping cart because having work out clothes goes hand in hand with actually working out. One can't happen without the other but I beg the question, what comes first?

  5. The website of an obscure beauty brand that some celebrity mentioned in some Into the Gloss article and swears by but has a $30 shipping fee.

  6. The Google Doc of contact information and template emails I've written out to send to people to set up networking coffee dates.

  7. The enrollment homepage of that coding and web design class I've been meaning to take, and will continue to be meaning to take, for the next year.

  8. The spreadsheet of grad school programs I spent an afternoon making while nursing a $7 cup of artisan coffee.

  9. A New York Times and/or Washington Post article breaking down the newest health care plan being served up by the GOP.

  10. The page of all of the Medium articles and Now This videos I’ve bookmarked on my Facebook. Fear not, what one lacks in nuance the other makes up for in its nicheness.

  11. A Vimeo page of a random short film that was shared by a friend but made by a friend’s acquaintance.

  12. LinkedIn.

 

Post Grad

Like the movie starring Alexis Bledel - but not at all.


It's been a year since I graduated college, six-ish months since I turned 23, and .5 hours since I've had a mini existential crisis. What has changed since the day I walked across that stage... tassels stuck to my lip gloss on the one occasion since 2014 where I actively decided to wear lip gloss? 

My anxiety, for starters, reincarnates itself into new and fun (!) forms. My living quarters are 1000x cleaner but with 1000x less privacy. My skin is clearer but partly because I spend almost all of my nights at home - sans makeup but with sheet masks. Everything post graduation feels fleeting and permanent at the same time.

Will I wake up one day suddenly knowing how health insurance works? I'm doubtful. Will I always be willing to spend too much money to opt for almond milk instead of regular milk in my coffee? Yes, but that's an issue to address another time.

I think I've waited for a moment, or a stretch of moments, that would shake me out of my complacency. Maybe, I thought, it would happen during a significant event like while I watched two of my best friends graduate from our now alma mater this past weekend. Maybe, I think, it will happen during an insignificant event like while I sit on the bus in bumper to bumper traffic on the way home from work. Or maybe I'll just tell myself to get my shit together and do it. 

In an effort to make myself less stressed and less anxious about my future, I've tried to stick to making only short term goals. Like, "by this time next month, I'll try to have done X." But there are things that have deadlines, like applications to grad schools, that require me to confront time head on. I guess that's the most intimidating part of this all - having to put my own time stamps on life. 

In May 2016, Pew Research Center published a study revealing that for the first time in the 'modern era' (130 years), more young adults ages 18-34 are living with their parents than in other living arrangements. While the timing of the release of this study was concurrent with me getting my diploma, knowing that I was part of a big 'stay at home kids' club has only temporarily made me feel better or more secure in my current situation. And about locking myself out of my online banking account twice in the span of three months. 

But said banking account is probably (definitely) better off with me living at home; it'll give me the independence that I don't necessarily have now in the future. I also may or may not need a trigger warning for the word future now. It could be a blessing in disguise or personal issue that needs to be addressed ASAP. From all of this uncertainty, though, comes a weird comfort. I guess in knowing that because I don't have a plan...