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“How are you?”


I know you’re not fine.

On our first date, my partner and I talked for hours about things couples usually don’t discuss when they first meet: religion, politics, what we don’t like about ourselves. He told me his insecurities about his physical appearance while I explained to him how I never feel good enough. It was that level of honesty that connected us to each other instantly; one of the many qualities we both share and fell in love with. Since our first date, I have been thinking about the amount of honesty and openness I use in daily communication.

In the span of 24 hours, I was asked “How are you” eight times (I counted this past Monday). Most days, I usually smile and say that I’m “good” or “okay” even though sometimes I’m not (Monday was one of those days). We all do it. We’re feeling like utter crap but we don’t reveal our truths when we’re asked. We don’t want the attention on us. We don’t want to look like “drama kings/queens.” We don’t want to have to explain our problems to people who might not understand.

“How are you” lost its meaning. It has become an official unofficial rhetorical question.

But what would happen if we were honest and responded with how we really felt?

During that special date, I was asked what is the one quality that I liked the most about myself. I thought hard, thinking about the things I was good at and enjoyed doing. A few months earlier, I was having cocktails with a friend at a bar and I asked her how she was holding up. She broke down into tears, explaining that she was depressed and she didn’t know what to do about it. So, I comforted her and was grateful that she was honest with me… I told Stephen that I was a good friend. I’m happy to be the person people feel comfortable opening up to.

It’s that level of vulnerability. I think that is missing from every day conversations. Sure, superficial conversation has its place but I want to learn. I want to know. I want to share. I want people to know that I’m truly interested in their well-being and that I’m listening.

In this year, the year that I seek out more meaning in my life, I want the BIG talk. Small talk is now and forever out. When we share, we bond. We get closer. We understand better. Our worlds open up. For me, it helps me get out of my head. I remind myself that we all have problems, great and small, worries and aren’t living in these perfect little bubbles.

So, when I ask, how are you, don’t hide your response. I want to hear it. The truth. And I want to be asked the same. This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to explain to a stranger how painful my menstrual cramps are or try to have a conversation while in the public bathroom (although I have been doing that lately- sorry to those who I’ve spoken to while sitting on the pot). When I ask, I simply want to know how you are doing.

Now dear reader… How are you?



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I love listening to dating stories. I have quite a few of mine own floating around in my head- after a long weekend, my lady friends and I get together and gab about people with cute smiles, huge blue eyes and who made us laugh until we had charlie horse in our stomachs. We all agree that dating is difficult AF but we look for bright spots among the dating darkness. We encourage each other after we’re ghosted and exchange ideas to keep a conversation going.

Two years ago, I had the privilege of performing in a play with the greatest cast mates anyone could ask for. After one show, we ate lunch together and came across this list from a New York Times article.  We started asking each other and answering questions from the list. It’s a fond memory I think about often- I still think about that moment often. Now that I’m dating, I try to squeeze in those questions from the list into conversation.

This list of 36 questions (broken up into three sets) is supposed to build intimacy by exposing your vulnerability to the person you’re responding to. I have never gotten through the entire list with a perspective partner (I have tried!) but I have pondered these questions when alone. In this moment of my life when I heavily reevaluating my relationship with myself, I’ve asked myself these questions in order to figure out my values and deepen the bond with my inner me.

I am sharing these answers with you, dear reader. I hope that my answers can inspire you into asking yourself,  your partner, your friends, the random dude you’re seeing these questions. These questions are meant to help you fall in love (even if it’s just with yourself). They may not do that exactly but they will help create feelings of intimacy and trust—necessary conditions for love to thrive.

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? I would have dinner with my biological father. I’m curious to see if we share any personality traits and facials features.

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way? Truthfully, yes. I would want to be famous. I would be a well-known journalism like Lisa Ling or Diane Sawyer.

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? The only times I rehearse are when I think I’ll cry during the call. I’ll usually write my thoughts down and repeat what I wrote.

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? The perfect day would consist of spending it at the beach with a group of close friends, filled with sunbathing, swimming, music and laughter (maybe a nap). Then, we all get dressed up and go out to a nice dinner somewhere semi-fancy and barhop the night away.

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? I sang to myself this morning as I biked to get coffee. And does my cat count as someone else? If so, I sang to her this morning (she isn’t a fan of my singing and often runs away to hide under the bed).

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? I rather have the body. There is too much to do in this world and I would want young legs to take me places.

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Painfully. It will be a painful death.

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. What I seem to have in common with my readers is that we seems to concerned with current events in the news. We all want to change the world, or at least our corners of it. We also appreciate semi-decent writing.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful? I’m the most thankful for my friends. They catch me when I fall, inspire me to the best version of Andrea I can be and bring so much joy to my life. I’m so grateful to have such a large and strong support system.

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? There would be more sincere hugs and words of praise and encouragement.

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible. I was born. I was in foster care. I was adopted. I had sisters. I went to school. I was an average student. I became the child of a divorce.  I continued to go to school. I got better grades. I was insecure. I played the drums. I ran for student body secretary. I discovered that I wanted to be a journalist. I graduated. I left home. I went to college. I struggled. I hated school. I dropped out. I moved to New York City. I fell in love for the first time. I went to a lot of concerts. I partied. I learned how to fix bicycles. I learned a lot about myself and life in a short time. I moved. I fell in love again- twice. I finished college. I graduated with a degree. I job hunted. I traveled. I lost friends. I met some cool people. I’m still figuring everything out (all this was written in four minutes, timed on my iPhone).

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? I would either be able to read minds or breathe underwater (my grown self still desperately wants to be a mermaid).


Stay tuned for Part II.

Being Single = AWESOME (or Why You Should Take a Hiatus from Dating)


I was a dating late bloomer. I had my first boyfriend when I was 24 (I know now the only reason I went out with him was for the sole fact that someone actually liked me!). For the following four years, I became a serial dater. I moved to Brooklyn, a place where dating is considered an Olympic event. I became good at jugging dates- I’d have brunch with Brian; a bike ride through downtown with Elliot and dinner and cocktails with Christian. Dating eventually became exhausting and I didn’t find myself in a substantial relationship despite desperately trying my hardest. After all that dating, I defined myself as “the girl looking for love.” I didn’t know who I was when I removed that label.

Last weekend, me and a dear friend reflected on her recent relationship endeavors- her ex boyfriend, a hook up at Burning Man, the guys she met on Tinder. As she talked, I had a flash back to a conversation I had with my old roommate, BB. In that momemtn, our roles were reversed- I was in my friend’s position, complaining about men and dating and relationship failures. I’d just broke up with Brian; BB and I were cooking dinner together when she gave me the best advice, words that I needed to hear and put into practice,” Andi, you should just be single.”

At first, I was taken aback by BB’s words but I listened. I realized that I was going out with guys for wrong reasons. I removed all my online dating profiles that night. I stopped flirting with cute guys on the subway and in line at the grocery store. I made a passionate effort to spend more time with my friends and gett freelance work (hello, South Brooklyn Post!). My life became less complicated. I grew closer to people that really mattered and learned how to love doing things solo: eating out; seeing a movie; exploring… all alone. I read more books, befriended strangers and developed other values in my life. I discovered that life isn’t about being in a relationship. Relationships exist to make your life better and what better than to rejuvenate the relationship with yourself?

A dating hiatus is a good thing. Put your romantic activities on pause so that you can take time to not only break a pattern but to also get to know you- so that when you do re-open your romantic doors, that you are coming from a healthier place. It’s not a prison sentence- it a treat for yourself. And who wouldn’t want to treat themselves to some self-love and self-care?

You said it, Donna!

You said it, Donna!

Your Partner and Your Time

I hate break ups. Even though I don’t follow celebrity gossip, when I get a spam email about so-and-so’s split I cry a little inside for them. When I found out my neighbors broke up, I was heartbroken for them. They were a cute couple who were always kind enough to take out our trash to the curb on garbage day and let me play with their puppy. The reason for their break-up: they didn’t have time for each other.

I’m always freaking about time- or the lack of time. I’m always on the go between work, school, friendships and my extracurriculars (just last night, I sat during my play’s rehearsal, crying at the thought of an extra weekend rehearsal when I need more time to study for a midterm). I’m always pushing myself and well, let’s admit this now: I don’t know how to say ‘no’ when people ask. So, I get roped into doing things. Even though I like being busy and my keeping things interesting, it’s exhausting. (I’ll write more about time management later.)

Despite all activity, I always make time for Steve. I’m fortunate to have an easygoing boyfriend who appreciates that I have a productive schedule (he does, too, working almost 60 hours a week for Tesla). But we haven’t always been this way. We have fought in the past about our schedules and not spending enough time with each other. That fight was a wake up call. Knowing that my boyfriend would always be there despite my schedule was something that I took for granted. I thought, his schedule could just revolve around mine. But it doesn’t work like that.

How do you go about fixing a problem like that? Easy. Make the time. At the start of every week, I take out my hand calendar and write down all the things I have to do. Work in the morning. Exercise in the afternoon. Rehearsal every other evening. Homework at night. I find the holes in my schedule and dedicate them to Steve. If I’m finding not enough holes, I ask myself if I really need to do something and either cancel it or move it- if I have to skip a run or cancel a dinner with friends, so be it (I’m grateful to have the most understanding friends on the planet). It also help that Steve and I are almost the same person when it comes to shared likes. We’re happy with simple things- drinking at the bar next door or grabbing burritos before watching a couple episodes of “Frasier.” I also believe that making plans with your partner is important. We enjoy traveling and are busy making holiday plans (a white sandy Christmas, anyone?). Even at the end of the day, we both are excited to hear about the day’s mild drama and snuggle with each other in bed. We both know that our time together isn’t almost perfect but our relationship is almost flawless.

What are your tips for a good relationship, dear reader? And how do you spend time with your significant other?

Lazy in Love

I’m finishing up a four-part fitness series, and in my latest entry, I wrote about being lazy when it comes to working out. Honestly, I’m lazy in every aspect of my life. I procrastinate when it comes to exercising. I avoid homework and my freelance pieces (even when I’m getting paid to write). I idly take the people in my life for granted, especially my boyfriend.

Growing up, I always thought adult life was supposed to easy. You went to your job and earned some money, hung out with your family on the weekends. I realized later, of course, life is hard. Sure, you can coast by but some people want to experience life to fullest and try their best to do so. They work hard, making their fantasies come true, finding the person of their dreams. When I was little, all I wanted was a fun job and a bunch of stamps in my passport. I didn’t imagine myself ever getting married- I wanted to travel (still do). Maybe it was my parents’ divorce that slowly solidified this belief. Believe me, I had severe crushes (hi, TR!) but I never pictured myself being married. Being single always seemed to be the easy way out.

When I lived in New York, I dated a lot. For me, dating was easier than maintaining a relationship- especially in a city where people had no time to commit to a stable relationship. But I’m human and I soon wanted connection. The easy version of connection. Well, there is no easy button to push when it comes to love.

Looking back at my past relationships, I often took the easy way out. Breaking up was always easier than staying together. My lazy ass wanted to hang out on the couch all day and not put any of the work in. I found it was easier being single. But I was single and lonely… I’m learning now how to love. It’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time. Love is about the tears you cry and disappointments.

But love is is not all about that (but if the love you feel is all about the negative stuff, maybe you need to end your relationship). I’m finding that love is not just a feeling, but a decision. It is a choice that you helps you keep going. During tough moments with my boyfriend, I make the choice to stay in love and work hard at making us better. There are definitely some times when I want to be lazy (examples: holding in feelings and not working them out; not putting any effort into compliments, kind gestures or tokens of affections) but I chose not to.

When it comes to love, like many other things in life, you always know in your heart what the right thing to do is. It’s all a matter of having the courage to do it. Dormancy, laziness, negligence- they are all the sisters of fear. We must be brave in love, and step into the dark void with a bright hope. It’s time to get off the couch and leap into your lover’s arm… Then, you can both snuggle.

Oh, Big and Carrie...

Oh, Big and Carrie…

A Conversation with Clarissa

I met Clarissa on my first day of college. 11 years ago, we sat together in Deidre Pike’s Journalism 101 class, trying to peer over other’s heads. Over the last decade, we’ve seen each other through major life milestones and personal victories: writing for our college paper, trying to come up with witty jokes for UNR’s first (and last) semester of “The Daily Show,” first boyfriends and difficult break ups, spontaneous dance parties by the river, moving across country to New York City, getting lost together in Brooklyn on route to the Botanical Gardens…
I believe that everyone needs someone like Clarissa in their life. She has been that one friend who always keeps it real with me and tells it to me straight. She knows when I’m being a dumbass and keeps me in check. Last week, we had good chat over Gmail. I wasn’t having the best day- I was feeling rather depressed- and Clarissa talked me through it, giving me the “tough it out, you got this” advice I needed. Below was a snippet of our conversation- I’m keeping it on file to read when I get stressed about turning 30… Do you, dear reader, have a friend like this?
Clarissa: …Better to have that busyness than not.
Andrea: Is it sad if I say I just want to lay in bed all day and watch “Dexter?”
Clarissa: Not really sad but I think you might be trying to hide from something and you might be depressed…
Andrea: That is true.
Clarissa: So, it is not sad but you might be sad.
Andrea: Both. I don’t want to be an adult.
 Clarissa: Oh really, why not? Why do you think that?
Andrea: I’m just tired of trying to the best thing and the right thing all the time…
Clarissa: Yeah, it’s an uphill battle being on your own but it does sound as if you’re putting unnecessary pressures on yourself. Your idea of being an adult doesn’t have to be a checklist of milestones from society’s standards. You can do what you want – that’s also being an adult. And you can also make sure you have fun, too.
Andrea: I don’t have a lot of fun. My fun is sleeping…
Clarissa: I think you need to take some time out for yourself -you know – go grab a cup of coffee for 15. It’s tough right now but I think you’re doing the things that will lead to greater happiness in the end.
Andrea: It’s not even that things are tough. My life isn’t particularly difficult right now. I’m just feeling lazy. Plus, I keep on thinking about all this other stuff I want to be doing with my time…
Clarissa: So you’re preoccupied with not experiencing something that isn’t even happening… and it’s bumming you out? I mean, I see that. But, you can’t focus on what’s NOT happening. You’ll drive yourself crazy – miserable – you got to enjoy what’s happening NOW and then make sure you are taking steps to get to that point later. External factors won’t really get you motivated – or happy – just internal ones because you control the internal.
Andrea: I just feel like being so close 30 without accomplishing much is such a let down.
Clarissa: Yeah, well, just get up and realize that the worst thing you can do right now is make yourself unhappy for something that’s not about to change. It is what it is, so fuck it – just get over yourself and see that you have another few decades to get what you want.
Andrea: You don’t think 30 feels/seems too old?
Clarissa: Um, of course I do but I’m not going to get myself all upset about it. Shit happened. I didn’t quite get what I wanted, oh well, try again.. took me a while to figure out that it’s only me that’s making me upset – not everybody else. Plus, we’re not 30 YET. Put on some happy music. And stop watching “Dexter.”

You Got the Love

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Named after Saint Valentine of Rome who was imprisoned for performing weddings for Christian soldiers in the Roman Empire, February celebrates all things mushy and gushy- true feelings of the heart.

Before you get all “Valentine’s Day sucks- it’s just Singles Awareness Day,” a day created by Hallmark and the candy companies; I want to remind you that you are loved. For a long time- even if I was in a relationship- V-Day was just blah to me. I didn’t understand why there was only one day a year we go out of our ways to express our love for someone. There was always this pressure to be perfect on V-Day, to give the perfect gift or have the perfect date planned out (and with being a perfectionist, everything needed to go right or else). If you’re with someone who loves you, why go through the excess stress? I now understand why.

As a media junkie, I watch/listen to the news every day. I hear about shootings, sick babies and other sadness. Last night as I walked to dinner, I walked by a group of homeless men, asking for handout. These things hurt my heart. I try to fill this balance of bad things vs good things with special moments between my friends and my boyfriend, making them smile. I know that I have a lot of love to share and Valentine’s Day is that universally-recognized day to share that love. If there is any day a year, I drop my anger and hate for a person and try my hardest to treat them well. I remind them all that they are loved and cherished. Sure, I should live by that mindset always but there is something about Valentine’s Day that especially brings it out of me. Whether that love is from your family, your significant other, your friends, your cat, YOURSELF – I want you recognize that you are lovable and that you’re worthy of love. You got the love.

Sending lots of love to you, dear reader- have a great Valentine’s day.

Girlfriends, Husbands, BFFs, Whatever… Relationships and Important Questions

My handsome Steve and I

My handsome Steve and I

I’m going to brag for a moment: I have the best boyfriend in the world. While others may disagree, my fellow is a multifaceted, all-encompassing hunk, filled with kindness, adventure, hilarious jokes and intellect. I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have him in my life, not just for his delightful company but because he teaches me a lot of things. Not only have I learned a lot of Black culture from Steve, I also learned more about my feelings and how to connect them with being not just a better girlfriend, but being a better person. We work together as a team and we communicate well with each other.

Last week, I made this list of things I wanted to talk about with him. It was a list of questions that was eating at me for a while and it asked the both of us questions I believe every couple needs to think about every couple of month. Think of this as a kind of check up list. The questions will all have different answers per person, of course, but it’s a good tool to have. It doesn’t matter if you have the “perfect” relationship- these questions and answers matter. Even good things could be better.

Ask your partner and yourself…

1) What do you need in our relationship? A person’s needs are constantly changing and its important to recognize them in each and every state. These needs can range from spending enough time together to adding some fun into the mix. Its important to address them every once in a while.

2) Am I giving you what you need? With those needs, if your partner isn’t giving the things you want, speak up! A good relationship is a little bit of give, a little bit of take. It’s all about the compromise and negotiation. Be willing to work through the tough stuff (a positive attitude helps here- no hard feelings). If you need time alone, say that you do and come up with a better day to hang out. Just make sure to support and respect all decisions made.

3) What feelings and concerns do you have? I have to admit- my relationships are usually the Andrea Show, where I’m the star and no else is. I’m still learning that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that other’s feelings get hurt all the time. So with Steve, I’m asking myself more what he feels. I try my best to listen and respond appropriately. I also take a look at my own feelings and concerns and address them. I do still feel awkward talking about certain things with Steve but I know that I’m being heard and feel better after we chat.

4) Are you truly happy with me? I read an interview with Channing Tatum and how he and his wife developed a number system to measure the happiness in their marriage. They rate their happiness on a 1-to10 scale, with one being horrible and sad and 10 being perfectly blissful. They ask each other during random times what their happiness number is and when things dip below good, they work on it. I think happiness is one of the most important characteristics of a good relationship- duh, of course you want to have and be a happy partner. So, if one of you isn’t happy, what can you do to make things better? Remember, happiness is the key and is the thing both of you deserve.

A Balancing Act

Over this last year, there has been a lot of change in my life- going back to school, my new job at Artown, my new-ish boyfriend (we’ve been together for an amazing nine months), more social invites. With my new job, I’m determined to be the best I can be, pouring out most of my energy into my work. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted. All I want to do is sleep. I haven’t worked a full-time, 9-to-5 job in a couple years so I’m not used to this schedule- sometimes I feel like I will never get used to it. Add to the mix my social circles, the freelance writing I do and school. Lately, I’ve been having a hard time balancing everything. Friends call to ask if I want to hang out and I cancel- all I want to do it fall asleep to an old episode of “Friends” and not wake up until the next week, but I decide to keep myself up until three in the morning to finish my Spanish homework.

I do so much because I want to be the best that I can be. People tell me that I stress out too much; that I need to be easier on myself. Although, I understand and agree with that they’re saying, my philosophy is that you only have this one life to live and it’s up to you to make it great- be a doer, not a dream. If you’re lazy in bed all day, you have stamped  yourself “lazy” – it’s right there in big, bright letters on your forehead. If you work hard, you are labeled a “hark worker.” I believe those with incredible goals have to work especially hard to make those dreams come true- AND they will come true if you put in the time and effort. This is why I’m always busy- I’m making my dreams come true.

In this process of making those dreams come true, I found myself so buried with things to accomplish (see what was listed above). I know that I need to look through my list and pick out the things that aren’t essential to my life- but I have tried and I can’t choose. I need my job because I need my paycheck in order to survive. I’m a class away from finishing school- I need to finish. Plus, having my degree will allow me to purse bigger and bright career opportunities, especially since I want to move to a bigger city in the near future (hello, 2015!). I love my boyfriend- and even though I know that I shouldn’t rely on him for my happiness- he is that one thing that makes me constantly happy and I want to build a future with him. I need my friends for obvious reasons. I already sacrificed my personal time (which is fine). I read that if you need to de-stress your life, you need to cut the non-essential out. So, what do I cut: my job, school, my boyfriend or my friends?

During this time of busy-ness, I want to stress the fact of taking care of yourself. Sleep and food may be the last things on your mind but they are essential (this is coming from a person who hasn’t eaten in the last couple of days). No one can rule the world on an empty stomach and an hour’s worth of sleep. Remember that your body can only do so much. Your mind may be pressing you on but if your frame is telling you to go to bed, go to sleep!

Dear reader, I ask you for your advice– how do you balance everything? How do you go about the craziness of your day and manage to eat a proper dinner and sleep at the end of the day?

This and That

With all the beautiful chaos going on in my life, this blog is the first thing I put on the back burner (sorry for the lack of recent posts, dear reader). But alas- I am here now, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to write (at a decent 6:30 in the a.m.). I have had a lot of things on my mind these post couple of weeks- short, little bursts of thought that probably wouldn’t be enough to make a full blog post. Nevertheless, here are some of the things that have been on my mind…



1. #BringBackOurGirls. At the end of April, 234 school girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School by the Boko Haram group in Nigeria. All 234 are still missing and uncounted for. Humanity groups all across the world have protested, hoping that their words and motivation will bring all the girls back to their families. As the Boko Haram continues to murder and pillage villages all over central Africa, the United Nations, as well as the rest of the world, are fighting back. For more information on how you can help, click here.

2. I had a to make a hard decision last week. I’m not going to go into the details but I will say one thing about it. In high school, I was obsessed with the movie, “Moulin Rogue!” In the movie, Christian (played by the fabulous Ewan McGregor) falls in love with the terminally ill star and courtesan, Satine (played by Nicole Kidman). The tragedy focuses on the central theme of love- the greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. I thought about quote that as choose the next path of my life. I don’t know where I’m exactly going (in some kind of positive, lasting direction, I hope) but I know that this new road will currently be filled with love and kindness. In the end, I think that’s we all hope for. We all want kindness and deserve love in one way or another. If you can find those traits in someone (other than yourself- you should be kind to and love yourself first and foremost), I think you should hang on to that person as tight as you can and don’t let him or her go.

NBA player Jason Collins

NBA player Jason Collins

3) While out enjoying a light dinner, a friend recently asked me why I was so busy all the time. I told her that I’m busy leaving my legacy. Legacy- this is something I think about often. I think of the positive things that I’m doing for my community and how I can not only better my home but myself, as well. How am I am making a difference? How I am I influencing others? As few issues ago, TIME Magazine came out with its Time 100 Most influential People of 2014. The people featured in the list are incredible- people from Edward Snowden to Janet Yellen, Beyoncé to the Koch Brothers (I was actually surprised to see them on the list- I must admit that I’m not a fan of them but to each their own). Each article about them is written by one of their peers- showing that their talent, success and bravery have truly influenced the world. During these last couple weeks, when I’m feeling defeated, I reread each written piece and I feel inspired again. I know that leaving legacy takes hard work- doing any kind of good does- but if these people in TIME can do, so can I.

4) Last weekend, I treated myself to a movie at the cinema and watched “Godzilla” (it was so good! I highly recommend it!). Movies like “Godzilla” taught me:

  • Never live in or around metropolises like New York City or San Francisco;
  • Learn basic first aid;
  • Improve your running time and speed- it’s a sprint; not a jog (especially when it comes down to a scary monster chasing after you.)

What’s been on your mind lately, dear reader?