Life is Weird: The New Normal in a Global Crisis

Life is Weird: The New Normal in a Global Crisis

Understandably, life has been hectic for most people all over the world for the past few months. Nothing like a global pandemic to bring us all together (at an acceptable social distance.) In a time of uncertainty and fear it is hard to find a balance in this new reality. What amount of returning to your old life is acceptable during a crisis? What level of anger should be expressed toward those not taking things seriously? How often should you check the news or the official case-count? Are you grieving? Are you denying reality? What is even happening?

It has been hard for everyone to adjust to life in a time of a global pandemic. Some have lost their jobs and others have had to take on extreme responsibility to keep their families afloat. The service industry is both thriving and sinking. The economy is collapsing around the globe. Healthcare workers are being asked to work around the clock with minimal personal protective equipment. We are actively running out of supplies in many sectors. No amount of prevention is an over-reaction because we have reached the worst-case scenario and at this point we are mitigating damage.

I am fortunate in my current position to have the ability to work from home or, as a friend pointed out, be at my home during a crisis trying to work. I probably won’t leave the house beyond walking my dog for a couple of months. Prior to all this, I was testing out a period of remote work for my PhD and happened to be a close driving distance to my parents when everything started going south in the United States. My university shut its doors and forced all non-essential personnel off campus so I decided to stay with my family and ride out the storm. We are all fortunate enough to have the luxury of working from home and also fortunate enough to have the supplies and space to adequately do so.

Despite the ideal situation in working from home, it has been incredibly difficult to focus on work when grappling with the thought of the world falling apart around us. It’s hard to think that anything matters when people are dying from something so preventable. It’s frustrating to know that people I love are in danger and that other people I love aren’t taking this as seriously as they could be. It’s difficult to face myself and ask whether I should have self-isolated sooner and if it is possible that I have been exposed and actively spreading it with no symptoms.


A friend from college posted a list of things that are ringing true during this time and I would like to share my take on a couple of them. The first being that everyone deals with anxiety differently. She mentions that some people become extremely productive and others become the opposite, but where you fall is not your choice. I’m finding this to be the largest disappointment in my working situation. My anxiety has rendered me practically useless in my work because I cannot concentrate on it long enough to make any progress. Accepting this about myself has been the first step in finding out how to maintain any level of productivity during this time.

She also mentions that when everything is turned upside down you cannot undo it through hard work. This notion has been comforting in ways I had not expected. I obviously don’t like to feel powerless in the direction of my own life, but it is mildly comforting to know that my powerless position is confirmed. After realizing that, it freed some mental space and I decided to make whatever small contributions I can to help others. For me this has meant calling to check in on friends, sewing fabric masks for family, friends, nursing homes, and hospitals, donating to causes that are providing important relief services, and kindly informing others about how their actions can impact public health.


During this time I am learning many things about myself that I both like and dislike. I dislike the crippling anxiety I feel most days, but I try to view it as an opportunity to test out coping mechanisms. I dislike my lack of focus on my work during stressful times, but I like my focus on meaningful conversations with people I love. I like my drive to help others and I like that even though I’m not on the front line of any of this, I can contribute to their health and safety. If anything, this has confirmed my priorities in life and maybe I’ll adjust my post-crisis life accordingly.

I have found solace in the idea that we are not the first generation to have a global pandemic. People before us have made it through and people after us will probably experience similar tragedies while hopefully learning from our mistakes. I’m not looking for silver linings because I don’t think it is fair to people who are dying and those who are fighting to keep those people alive. Nothing about this is good. However, I don’t judge people for trying to find silver linings because I know we need to see a light at the end of the tunnel to cope. My light at the end of the tunnel is that we will make it through. This will end one way or another. Hopefully it ends with minimal additional tragedy and the development of a vaccine and a treatment. Possibly it will inject a new sense of community into the world and a respect for the fragility and transience of life.

Most Worn Items of February 2020

Most Worn Items of February 2020

In February I mostly stayed put in Pennsylvania, but spent 5 days in Florida with my boyfriend and his parents. Except for a few days here and there, the Pennsylvania winter has been surprisingly temperate and hovered in the 40s and 50s with only a few days dipping below 30 (but man were those days cold).


The table below shows my most worn items from each category and the number of wears. Many of these items are similar to my January items with a few changes. My Everlane Cashmere Turtleneck took the lead in tops (by a little) and my Reformation Jeans took the lead in bottoms (by a lot). March will have a big change-up because I’m going to be on travel for 3 weeks and I’m packing a capsule wardrobe that works for Texas and California. I’m curious to see what I wear the most from that grouping of items; I’d like to believe it will be these cute spring skirts I purchased for the trip, but have a feeling it will be my basic denim shorts and plain t-shirts.

CategoryItemColorWears
ShoesFranco Sarto Alix Flats
L.L. Bean Gore-Tex/Thinsulate Boots
Taupe
Brown
6
12
TopsEverlane Cashmere Turtleneck Grey3
BottomsReformation High and Skinny JeansDenim20
OuterwearMadewell Teatro Swing Coat
Eddie Bauer Waterproof Winter Coat
Grey
Grey
10
9
DressesGal Meets Glam Makenna Maxi Dress Tan/Rose1
JewelryMejuri Between Hoop EarringsGold13
AccessoriesThe Elephant Pants Knit Hat
Warby Parker Haskell Glasses
Navy
Aloe
12
8

This month we have a few items with cost per wear around $1 with one below and a few close behind. Mind you, there are a few items that I haven’t estimated the cost of because they are t-shirts I bought forever ago. I may estimate the cost of these at a reasonable value and track cost-per-wear for the year. For newer items purchased at the end of last year and beginning of this year, many items are already hovering around the $1 – $3 mark for cost-per-wear. Looking forward to watching these drop through the year.

This month I wore 51 items in 203 instances, averaging 3.98 wears per item.

Average cost per wear for clothing and shoes: $9.34

Total cost: $1588.20

Total Cost-per-Wear: $382.78

# of clothing items worn: 41

Average cost per wear of accessories and jewelry : $2.71

Total Cost: $299.71

Total Cost-per-Wear: $27.06

# of accessories worn: 10


Most Worn Colors: Light Grey, Denim, Dark Grey, Taupe, Gold, Aloe


In the coming months I think I’ll start tracking my full wardrobe as best I can. The average cost-per-wear for all of my items is fairly high considering I own many things and don’t wear them all that often. These might be the numbers I need to see to start purging some items and passing them onto friends, repurposing them, or donating them.

I am already looking at donating some of my dressier business clothes that I never reach for. Over the years I have accumulated pants, blazers, tops, and totes for internships and conferences that no longer make me feel my best or don’t fit my current look. I think many of these items could find a better home through Dress for Success or a similar program. I would like to pass them on to someone who can use them while they are still in style.


Things I’m Loving, but Not Buying

Things I’m Loving, but Not Buying

I have seen more and more anti-haul style content on my favorite blogs and I find them informative and refreshing. It’s sometimes nice to see that other people are showing restraint and talking through the thought process of passing on that item at that moment. Here are a few items I have been eyeing this month, but won’t be purchasing now or in the near future.

Gal Meets Glam – Sage – Trench Coat

I’m a sucker for a fun print and a classic style. Since the Gal Meets Glam Collection launch in 2018 I have followed their monthly collections closely and have purchased a few items (read: five dresses and one sweater) along the way. If I’m being honest with myself, I would probably purchase most of the things in the collection to the point of financial ruin. While I like this coat, I realize it is flashy enough that I wouldn’t reach for it often. I’m trying to purchase with more intention this year so this coat is out of the question.

Everlane – The Oversized Alpaca Crew

This sweater makes me feel some type of way. I own a lot of sweaters and I definitely don’t need another. My next sweater purchase will probably be a similar color, but I won’t make that call until at least next fall. I don’t own many blue things, but I do love the color so I could see it finding a home in my closet in the form of a comfy sweater.

Everlane – The Day Heel

I have had my eye on these heels for a while now and I keep tabs on available options on Poshmark. I’m not ready to pull the trigger for a few of reasons. First, money. Second, I walk at least 1.5 miles every day in my daily commute, heels (no matter how comfortable) are probably not the most practical footwear. Third, I’m indecisive and can’t pick a color.

Cuyana – Classic Structured Leather Tote

Much like the heels, I have been looking for a tote bag for a while now. After finishing classes I feel like I can upgrade from my backpack, but I’m not sure a tote is what I need at the moment. The hefty pricetag of a nice bag and the thought of the shoulder pain on days where I’m carrying more items have been good deterrents for the time being. Additionally, I think I need something with a top zipper, I just don’t like the look of most of those bags. The hunt continues!

Gallery

Aspiring Plant Mom of the Year

Plants are my love language. My boyfriend knows I only want plants as gifts. They’re all I want and all I need. Prior to moving to Pennsylvania I didn’t have a lot of space for plants and I was constantly moving so it didn’t make sense to have them. Over the course of about a year I acquired quite a few plants and keep wanting more. I now have two office plants and six home plants (plus one Marimo moss ball.) Writing this has reminded me that I need to take better pictures of my plants so I might go back and change these pictures, but all future pictures will hopefully be better.

In the lineup, and in no particular order, we have Mortimer, Henry, Janet, Penelope, Chester, Roscoe, Saoirse, Priscilla, Finnegan, and Flannery.

Mortimer

Mortimer is a Marimo moss ball. I know he is neither a plant nor is he moss, but I love him just the same. He was a gift from a good friend on my birthday. She is Japanese and thought I would love having him as a little friend in my life. She was right and I adore him. I change his water every two weeks and keep him in a bright spot (out of harsh direct light).

Henry

Henry is a succulent I found at Trader Joe’s. I’m not sure what type he is and don’t know enough about succulents to spot the differences between the ones he looks like. In any case, he’s easy to care for and I pretty much ignore him and he stays alive. I water him every week and a half or so and he seems to stay happy, I can generally gauge how he is doing based on the angle of his leaves and water him when he doesn’t look as perky. I’m not positive this is the right method, but he seems to be happy and that’s all that matters.

Janet

Janet is a ruby ball cactus that my boyfriend gave me after I was having a particularly overwhelming day at work. I named her after Janet on The Good Place because of an episode where she would hand everyone a cactus no matter what they actually asked for. She’s cute and I water her about as often as I water Henry. I am trying very hard to not love them too much. I know many people who have killed their cacti and succulents from over-watering. In this picture she is in a little ceramic I made because that’s all I had on hand. Since then she has graduated to a cute terracotta pot I painted.

Penelope

Penelope is a Marble Peperomia and she lives in my office with her brother Chester. I bought them both while I was taking a study break at a cute little plant shop down the street from my office. She sits on my desk and appears to be doing well despite the dry office air.

Chester

Chester is a Maranta Leuconeura Kerchoveana (‘Prayer Plant’) and he lives in my office with Penelope. He was purchased at the same plant shop and brings me a lot of joy. I was so taken by him that I forgot to ask the shop owner what type of plant he is so I had to ask my boyfriend to take to r/plants and ask redditors to identify him. We had an answer almost immediately which is why I love reddit, but also why I’m scared of reddit. This guy grows like crazy and I’m constantly finding new leaves. He’s also fun because he folds up at night to sleep.

Roscoe

Roscoe is a Calathea Rattlesnake and was another gift from my boyfriend. He was purchased through The Sill and I was so pleased with how thoughtfully he was packaged and what good shape he was in considering he had been in the mail going through Pennsylvania winter. He sits on my vanity at home and I’m still trying to figure out if he is happy there. I keep him out of direct light, but am trying to figure out what helps him grow best. He also goes to sleep at night and when he starts folding his leaves up I start winding my day down.

Saoirse

Saoirse is a Pink ‘Lady Valentine’ Algaonema (Chinese Evergreen). I had been eyeing this type of plant and think they are absolutely gorgeous. I bought her from an Etsy seller after trying to find one in local shops and having no luck. She came carefully packaged and in very good condition especially considering she endured a four day, cross-country shipping journey. She sits on my windowsill because my friend said they like a lot of bright light. So far no sunburns, but once the days start getting longer I might move her away from the sill.

Priscilla

Priscilla is a Marble Queen Pothos that was yet again a gift from my wonderful boyfriend through The Sill. He even named her for me and picked out the planter. She sits on my dresser and gets medium light. Right now I have her on a watering stake because I’m going to be out of town for a bit and she seems to be happy with it. The picture is deceiving, but this is actually the medium size (7″) sill pot. This picture was taken right after unwrapping her so she has fluffed up a little more and she has some cute vines hanging out of the pot now.

Finnegan & Flannery

Finnegan and Flannery are twin Pothos plants that I’m trying to propagate from one of my mom’s plants that is older than me. I’ve never done water propagation before, but transported a dozen clippings wrapped in wet paper towels in my backpack on an airplane and then put them in water to grow on my windowsill. After a month or so without seeing much root growth I decided to just put them in some soil with fertilizer to see what happens. Worst case scenario I can grab some more clippings when I’m home next.

Bonus plant!!! Saoirse was shipped later than anticipated and the seller included a small Monstera clipping that I’m propagating in water. The roots have already started growing and I’m looking at planters and picking out names.

Most Worn Items of January 2020

Most Worn Items of January 2020

I had some inspiration from one of my favorite Aussie bloggers, Mademois-elle, who makes a point to keep track items worn during a season. I decided to follow suit and keep track of my items. Because I adore data, I was interested in the numbers. In this case, I’m wanting to wear my clothes from each season and get the cost-per-wear for each item below $1. This is probably unattainable for my pricier dress clothes, but I think this is a reasonable goal for my day-to-day items. If I’m not wearing a pair of jeans at least the number of dollars I spent on them then I probably didn’t need to spend that much. I also think this will be a good way to reevaluate my wardrobe as a whole and determine key style pieces and pieces I could pass on to someone else.

In January I was split between two very different climates. I spent the first half of the month at home in Texas and the second half of the month at university in central Pennsylvania. Home ranged from temperatures in the 30s to the mid-60s for most of my time there and I was able to get some wear out of my lighter pieces. In Pennsylvania it has been hovering around 30 and dipping into the 20s and teens with some wet and snowy weather requiring my to be bundled up more. This means my stats are a little bit skewed and spread between a few pieces.


The table below shows my most worn items from each category and the number of wears. In the shoe department I end up wearing my Bean boots most days and changing into another pair of shoes when I get to the office, in the outerwear I thought my waterproof winter coat was a rather boring win so I added in my other most worn coat, and for accessories I’m almost always wearing my glasses (even though they are fake) and I wear my knit hat most days to get to and from the office.

CategoryItemColorWears
ShoesFranco Sarto Alix Flats
L.L. Bean Gore-Tex/Thinsulate Boots
Taupe
Brown
10
9
TopsEverlane Chunky Mockneck Sweater Red5
BottomsMadewell High-Rise Skinny JeansBlack10
OuterwearEddie Bauer Waterproof Winter Coat
Madewell Teatro Swing Coat
Grey
Grey
14
5
DressesGal Meets Glam Ruby Dress Red1
JewelryMejuri Bold Sphere EarringsGold3
AccessoriesWarby Parker Haskell Glasses
The Elephant Pants Knit Hat
Aloe
Navy
11
11

These numbers are only for this month so the cost-per-wear is expected to be high because it’s only been 30 days and I’m not including the countless times I’ve already worn items.

This month I wore 50 items in 176 instances, averaging 3.52 wears per item.

Average cost per wear for clothing and shoes: $13.37

Total cost: $1371.15

Total Cost-per-Wear: $494.61

# of clothing items worn: 37

Average cost per wear of accessories and jewelry : $20.59

Total Cost: $479.71

Total Cost-per-Wear: $247.09

# of accessories worn: 12


Most Worn Colors: Red, Aloe, Grey, Taupe, Gold, Black

Wardrobe Goals 2020

Wardrobe Goals 2020

As a poor graduate student, I have found that I often pretend like I’m not poor. This usually comes in the form of buying expensive clothes that don’t suit my lifestyle or are generally out of my price point. I would not call myself a shopaholic, but I definitely have a problem with properly prioritizing my clothing needs. I feel like a lot of people are in my boat where we buy aspirational pieces first instead of buying basic items that would enhance what we already have.

Because of these faults, I decided to do a little project in 2020 to streamline my shopping process and make myself feel happier with less. This project has a few components and most of them are introspective conversations aided with some personal data acquisition.


Wardrobe Tracking

I’m a big nerd for data so whenever I decide I want to embark on a personal journey I like to research as much as possible and then collect data about myself when applicable. For this particular issue I have tried a lot of things that somehow always fell flat for me. I love the idea of being a minimalist, but the path has felt murky and unattainable for my life even with excessive reading on the subject. I think most of this boils down to it not being a one-size-fits-all situation.

This year I have decided to keep track of every item I wear and determine the cost-per-wear when possible. I’m going to be separating it by month and season in hopes of converging on a more coherent view of what I wear and what is feasible in my life.


Minding the Wish List

Wish lists have always been a nice idea with zero follow-up for me. I’m a very impatient person and once I get an idea I tend to run with it in that moment. Generally this is great for my creative process and working conditions, but when it comes to purchasing things I’m kind of a mess.

This year I would like to stick to a wish list, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve already had a couple of impulse purchases based on things I’ve been wanting for a few months. As I write this, I’m sitting in a beautiful sweater I bought when it went on sale last week. I’m going to try my best to stick to the list moving forward and only buy things I have thoroughly researched and know will find lots of wear in my life.


Reevaluating What I Own

After each season I will take a look at my tracked items and hope this will provide insight in what I actually use in my wardrobe and what I can comfortably remove. I will also evaluate my seasonal color palettes so I can get a better feel for my own personal style. I often view my style as an incoherent mess of outfits with a wide array of colors and styles. I’m trying to tack down how all these things fit together so hopefully this process will help me find the commonalities in my wardrobe items and help in my personal style journey.

Welcome!

Welcome!

I’m trying out this whole blogging thing again. I get into this every couple of years, but this time I think I’m going to do less talking and more showing. I’ve been learning some new skills and trying to keep sharp on the ones I already had. This blog is partially for myself to see progress and to put thoughts down on a page, but also so I can be a little more involved in the online communities that I lurk around in.

Right now I’m focusing on a few personal growth goals:

  1. Become the best dang plant mom.
  2. Be consistent with pottery piece production and hone the necessary skills.
  3. Pursue personal style and tailor a wardrobe around this notion.
  4. Pick up some new art skills.
  5. Play piano and sing more.
  6. Be a consistent reader and writer in and out of work.
  7. Commit to creating.

Of course all of these goals are supplemented by my constant quest to become a better human by giving back to the world and being the version of myself for everyone in my life.