Bill McKibben on Campus

I’m going to one of the best research universities in the country, yet I can admit that I rarely make it out to speaker events unless I am coerced by a friend to go. It’s not that I don’t like these things, but sometimes I also like staying home and reading too.

Last night, however, I went to an event like this without being coerced in any way. Northwestern’s Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED) brought Bill McKibben, famed journalist and founder of 350.org, a climate activist site, to Northwestern to talk about climate change. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the environment, but it is something I would love to read and learn more about, so I figured this event would be a great place to start. And it was.

I have always known climate change is an immediate and important topic we should all probably educate ourselves better on, but I never knew it was as big as it is. Bill spoke about how the Earth is only about a couple degrees warmer than its normal temperature, due to all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but there is the potential, with bad environmental decisions, to up the temperature even farther in the immediate future, an effect that would further acidify the oceans and disrupt weather patterns.

I realize Bill is very biased, obviously, in his views on the environment, but even if he is, the information he shared with us last night really got me thinking about what one person like me could do to help protect the environment. Yeah, I sometimes take long showers, and I sometimes forget to turn lights off when I leave the room, so I know there’s definitely room for improvement. I would love to read more about the subject, but for now, I’m glad these are ideas at the forefront of my mind.

One part of Bill’s presentation that particularly struck me was his photo slideshow related to his organization’s International Day of Climate Action and the more-than 180 countries around the world whose citizens demonstrated on behalf of environmental protection. It’s really easy to think about environmentalism and imagine the Al Gores and the hippies of the world as the face of the movement, but seeing Bill’s photos of all kinds of people in countries I have barely heard of before was really touching and memorable for me. It assures me that this is a topic that people around the world are sincerely passionate about and that can bring people together like many other huge political talking points never will.

I am a little bit reluctant to admit that it has taken me until my senior year to voluntarily attend these kinds of events, but better late than never, right? I think so.

That Acne Life

I have been dealing with acne literally as long as I remember. Back in third grade, I was the only 9-year-old in class with a couple of pimples, and by middle school, I had begun to rely on slathering my face in foundation in order to get the nerve to even leave my house. I took Accutane for 4 months in my early high school years, and even to this day, I deal with flare-ups on a pretty regular basis.

I wish I had advice to give anyone reading my blog who deals with the same kind of persistent acne as I do, but unfortunately if I had that advice, I wouldn’t be sitting here with several acne face products I use on a regular basis.

I’m very interested in the effects of diet on overall health outside of the obvious body weight, and I have done a little bit of reading on diet’s effects on acne. With my latest flare-up, I’ve become more desperate than ever to pinpoint the cause (besides the probable hormone stuff), and I think a lot of my problems with acne may stem from what I eat.

I know I could try harder to eat less inflammatory foods. Chocolate is a mainstay, and more and more lately, I have been finding myself consuming a ton of dairy, from yogurt to cream to cheese.

I want to try a little experiment, if it’s possible for me to even stick with it. I want to cut out dairy for a bit and see what it does to my skin. I’ve done it before for a while when I experimented with veganism, and the funny thing is that I tended to crave meat over cheese, which is the opposite of most people who try that.

For now, I’m going to keep the meat but try and cut back on the dairy. I also bought zinc picolinate supplements because those are apparently beneficial for adult acne sufferers like myself, and I have been trying to consume apple cider vinegar daily.

I feel like these past 10 years of my life, I have been so intent on trying to deal with my acne, but it’s always from the outside, with expensive creams and gels, or it’s with pharmaceuticals that may, as is the case with Accutane, be extremely detrimental to my health.

Time to try this the old fashioned way, all on my own.

Never Underestimate Your Neighbors

This isn’t another chocolate addiction post, I promise. (Chocolate does play a role, but it’s the secondary character in the story I’m about to relate to you.

These past few weeks, especially the Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays of these past few weeks, have been very busy and often stressful while I am trying to balance all my school- and work-related obligations. Since I’ve been running a busy schedule, I’ve been aiming to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, which tends to require me to be in bed by 11:30.

On Tuesday night, following Monday night’s glorious 8-hour sleep marathon, I wanted to keep it up and was asleep by 11:30. Sometime around 1:30, I woke up. The boys who live in the apartment directly below mine, who sometimes throw late-night parties that I don’t appreciate, were shouting at each other across their apartment and screaming and laughing loudly. Fun, except I felt like I was in the same room as them, plus you just can’t be that loud and live in an apartment. Sorry, boys.

As one would expect, I became very upset. It didn’t take long for me to stew angrily in my bed before I suited up and marched down the stairs to confront them. I was awake anyways; might as well do something about it. I knocked perhaps more loudly on their door than I needed to (hence sleeping bear Megan), and one of the boys answered.

“Hi, I’m Megan. I live in the apartment right above yours. I used to be asleep. I’m not sleeping anymore, as you might be able to guess. Tone it down so I can change that. Thanks.”

I’m pretty sure I terrified the drunk college boy on the other side of the threshold with how angry I appeared. He muttered, “Oh, sorry,” and ran away very quickly. Partially satisfied with my effort and partially very angry, I stormed back up the stairs and slammed my door. The noise stopped, but I was too mad to fall asleep for another two hours.

I kind of felt bad about it as I sat awake that night and struggled to remain awake the next day. I was brusque; I might have yelled at that guy without taking a breath; I might have slammed a couple of doors and pounded my feet. But that didn’t change the fact that the boys in the apartment below me were making an inordinate amount of noise for so late on a weeknight (I have brushed off their weekend 3 a.m. parties, mind you).

Fast forward to last night. I was at my sorority’s annual fondue night fundraiser drowning my sorrows in melted chocolate when I received a text from my roommate: “Y’all guess what. So the guy who was really f***ed up and noisy the other night just came by, apologized for being super noisy (he’s really sorry to you especially Megan) and he dropped off Godiva chocolates, which I’ve left on the living room table.”

You must be as astonished as I was. I now have the confirmed power to yell at people and receive chocolate in return. No, I’m kidding. Maybe.

This guy was so sorry for waking me up the other night that he went out of his way to apologize. I was especially surprised because I know I probably could have been more tactful about it myself, so I half expected him to urinate on our doormat, definitely not apologize in such a manner.

This whole experience taught me something extremely valuable for me to keep in mind throughout my life: Never underestimate anyone’s intention or ability to be a sincere, good person. Even when someone seems completely immature and makes you mad, sometimes he can come out of that and prove his sympathetic worth.

If this happens again, I will probably be nicer about it, especially because he left his number, presumably hoping I would text it instead of making a personal appearance.

No shame. More chocolate for me.

How to Out-Chocolate Yourself

Dear hopeless chocolate addicts of the world like me: It is possible to eat too much chocolate. Some days, there’s not enough chocolate and that makes us sad, but some days, there are so many opportunities for chocolate consumption that you go overboard—especially when Valentine’s Day is on the horizon.

Here’s how to get your chocolate fix so hard that you might not need more for a day (or at least 12 hours):

  1. Prepare a morning cup of hot chocolate at work.
  2. Prepare an afternoon cup of hot chocolate because once definitely isn’t enough.
  3. Get home from work and scarf down half a 70% cocoa bar before going to Pure Barre. Don’t regret anything. It’s healthy when there’s that much cocoa, right? We’ll say so.
  4. Buy a butt-shaped milk chocolate pop from your friends who are raising money for your university’s annual Sex Week—also because chocolate.
  5. Attend your sorority’s fondue night because melted chocolate. A single plate is great, but the unlimited option is where it’s at. Dip strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, graham crackers, pretzels, and even potato chips in melted chocolate.
  6. Get a second helping of chocolate and nothing to dip in it except a spoon that allows you to transport more chocolate to your mouth.
  7. Realize when you have two spoonfuls left that you’ve gone overboard and lean back in your chair as your mind spins from the sugar and as your blood flows with the nectar of melted chocolate.
  8. Wake up the next day and do it all again.

The Writer’s Market: First Glance

I went to Barnes & Noble on January 31 to finally purchase The Writer’s Market because I have these dreams of starting a successful freelance writing career and eventually publish a few bestselling books, and because there’s no time like the present to invest in your own future.

Then life got in the way—life, as in multiple jobs and my full class load and headaches and general freak-outs and wisdom teeth trauma—and I still hadn’t launched my freelancer life. Surprised? I’m not.

Anyhow, I reckon any successful career has to begin somewhere, so I have been going through the book little by little throughout the past week. I haven’t made it quite all the way through yet, but I have paged through most of the book. What follows are my actual thoughts upon reading it (mostly) cover to cover tonight.

“Alright, let’s do this. The Writer’s Market, at long last. I can tell we’re going to be friends. Okay, we’ve got some kind of symbol key. Looks useful. I’ll remember it’s here. [Flips the page, pauses, flips back to the symbol key.] Wait, I have to earmark this page. I just have to.”

“Hold on, there are a ton of useful how-to articles in here! What a deal! And to think I’ve already bought two other freelancing books when I could have bought this behemoth a long time ago and gotten started in November! [sigh]”

“I love this book. I can definitely do this freelancing thing if it is as easy as it sounds. Just gotta start self-marketing and drafting queries. No big deal. Once I get going, it’ll just become a part of my everyday life. What am I waiting for?” [encounters another article in the front of the book] And while I’m at it, I’m finally going to start that successful, money-making blog I’ve always wanted to start! If Carol Tice says it can be done, it can be done. I’m going to be so legit. Just you wait, world. Just you wait.”

[Flips straight through the literary agents and book publishers sections.] “This is for later. After I start my successful blog and writing career.”

[Flips to consumer magazines section.] “There are a lot of magazines! One of these will take my work. Oh, but not these. I don’t know anything about personal finance. Or about race horses. Or sport fishing. But hey, Condé Nast Travel—the dream! But not accepting submissions right now. Okay…oh but I could maybe get published in this other travel magazine I heard of once probably! I don’t know what to write about, but that’s for another day. I think.”

[Flips through business-to-business section in complete mental silence until reaching the end.] “Oh no. I don’t know anything. I can’t write about plumbing! I can’t write about cosmetics supplies! I can’t even write about book publishing even though that’s what I’m doing as a job! How can I write about anything? Do I even know what to write about? Do I know anything? Oh God.”

[Closes book and cries in the shower.]

This has been a full and detailed account of my latest job angst episode. Tune in next week for when I forget how to write my name out of sheer stress.