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What’s In My Purse: July 2015

July 15, 2015

orphan survival guide - social media - what's in my purse

To celebrate my new self-employment, I spent the weekend in Chicago to hang out with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and to go to a Chris Colfer book signing because that’s the kind of person I am. I am also the kind of person who has about 20 different unfinished post drafts and can’t commit to something significant today because my landlord keeps scheduling apartment showings while I’m trying to pack.

So as a placeholder for not having any content of substance today, let me show you what’s in my purse!

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Orphan Summer Reading List

June 4, 2015

orphan survival guide - social media - orphan summer reading list

With summer break comes more time to read. No more textbooks or article packets! More romance novels and self-help books!

Inspired by the Raised by Narcissists Book Club, I’ll be reading and reviewing books and resources for adult orphans. Plus I want to get to work on one of my Summer Bucket List items, which is to keep track of the things I read. Want to be Goodreads friends? Add me here!

I started working on a reading list page and realized there was a lot more than just books that I wanted to include. The Orphan Survival Guide Resources page will be updated with links to books in my summer reading list queue and (eventually) their completed reviews. It will also have links to social networks and informational sites to help other orphans and independent adults work on life skills and emotional wellness while connecting with other people for support.

The book recommendations will include Amazon and IndieBound links with my affiliate tag, a Goodreads link to add to your own reading list, and the WorldCat link for those who can’t afford to buy books.

I’m still building the list so I’m constantly adding links. It’s pretty bare so far, but I am excited to start adding to it!

Are there any books that have been particularly inspirational to you as you’ve grown up? Let me know in the comments!


20 New Semester Resolutions

January 1, 2015

orphan survival guide - social media - spring semester resolutions

I’m not usually the kind of person who makes new year resolutions. They’re just so… abstract and unattainable.

Lose weight? Travel? I’m not great at following through on big, long-term goals like that. Every year I make goals like stop hoarding or read a book a week. But I take a lot of naps and eat entire boxes of Cheez-Its in one day. I can’t aim that high.

What I need more than big resolutions and goals are motivators and routines, so that the things I need to do aren’t huge looming responsibilities.

Instead of a list of new year resolutions, I’m making new semester resolutions. They’re smaller steps with a shorter timeframe, and I’m concentrating on what has immediate consequences for finishing or failure. Don’t drop out or you’ll be stuck at your awful day job forever and keep a daily checklist or you’ll forget to pay your rent on time. Things that are useful and easily done.

Hopefully knowing what will happen if I do or don’t accomplish something will give me some perspective and motivation to actually do it.


Instead of big goals like get all As and don’t procrastinate, I’m focusing on what really matters: surviving the semester.

  1. don’t drop out
  2. don’t skip class (too much)
  3. turn stuff in on time
  4. befriend at least 1 person in each class
  5. take advantage of campus resources


On Monday, I have an interview for a new job within the company at Job #1. It means more responsibility and more hours, but also a much better pay check, benefits, and a nicer work environment.

I also have two other jobs, plus I want to write and blog regularly–maybe even make writing a primary source of income (unlikely, but still nice to dream about).

Finding a good work-school-sanity balance will be key this semester.

  1. meet deadlines
  2. finish things
  3. write and publish/submit at least 1 short story every 2 months
  4. don’t become underemployed
  5. know when to turn down a job and take a personal day


I’ve been doing pretty okay with managing my hoarding tendencies, but it still needs work. I made a checklist of things to do so I can kick-start my routine, so I just need to get off my butt and follow through with it.

  1. keep a daily planner and routine
  2. keep things clean and organized
  3. pay off personal debts
  4. cook more meals and drink more water
  5. stop impulse buying things


The sanity-part of my work-school-sanity balance needs a little attention. I let a lot of self-care go last year and basically turned Netflix and naps into my only forms of decompressing from a long day of work and class. I want to be happier and well-rested

  1. read 1 book per month
  2. track my online and book reading lists better
  3. be more confident
  4. be a good hipster and keep up with new music
  5. move in to an apartment I like

What are your resolutions? What does it take for you to actually accomplish them?

I hope everyone has a great new year and new semester!


How to Have an Orphan Christmas

December 27, 2014


This year I had an awesome Friendsgiving with a big group of friends, a huge turkey, and tons of sides and games. Some of those same friends are sticking around town to throw a Friendsmas, where there will be more food and games.

These are the ideal Christmas celebrations for orphans, at least for an extrovert like me.

For everyone who can’t afford to drive home to their families; everyone who wants to avoid uncomfortable conversations with their parents over Ferguson and gay marriage; everyone who just doesn’t want to deal with ignorance of dietary restrictions; all the stragglers come together for one big meal.

Orphan Survival Guide - How to Have an Orphan Christmas

1. Make a Plan

Where are you going, who will be there, and what are you going to do? Make a fancy invite or just use Facebook so everyone knows when and where they need to be, and what to bring before the thing happens.

And if they bail on you, have a good backup plan like Netflix and Chinese delivery.

Make sure your plan is solid, so that your friends have fewer excuses to bail on you at the last second, leaving you alone with their cats and a bottle of gin. Not that any of my friends did this to me this year because they would never, right?

2. Invite Some Friends

What’s a Friendsmas without friends?!

3. Clean Your House

I swept up and cleaned the cat boxes yesterday. I’ve still got some dishes to do tonight because I cleaned out my fridge (I’m really bad at leftovers) but those can always wait.

As long as people have places to sit and it doesn’t smell like vomit or cat pee, you’re probably good.

Febreze and air fresheners are your friends. I like the ones that smell like Christmas trees. There are always printable coupons online through, Target, and Walmart if you don’t feel like paying $4 to make your house smell less like butt.

4a. Dress Fancy

It’s a party! Dress up!

4b. Or Wear Pajamas

Why bother putting on pants? You’ve got no one to impress.

4c. Find Some “Ugly” Christmas Sweaters

Ugly Sweater Parties are all the rage this year. I, however, do not find them ugly at all.

5. Make Sure There’s Food

Ham and cookies are staples for Christmas dinners, but don’t let tradition keep you from making something interesting and tasty like:

6. Bring on the Booze

It’s Christmas. You’re probably suffering through at least three friends Snapchatting you all of their parents’ expensive gifts while you open bargain bin Hallmark cards.

Trust me, no one’s gonna judge you for drinking those five mimosas.

7. Give (and Receive!) Presents

Everyone else is getting a buttload of presents, so why shouldn’t you? In your Plan, set a theme or a limit for presents so that no one goes overboard or feels left out. Easy and cheap gift ideas:

8. Keep People Entertained

Watch a movie, play some games, or even make Christmas crafts.

9. Tell Stories

There’s a reason you’re all coming together for an Orphan Christmas instead of spending time with “family” like everyone else is. Go ahead and let out all those feelings with people who understand.

10. Start New Holiday Traditions

Start making your holiday plans for next year! I already have Friendsgiving plans for next November; there’s no reason to not start planning early for next Christmas!


Beating the Holiday Blues

December 23, 2014

It is no secret that I love Christmas. For the last several weeks, my friends have repeatedly posted that BuzzFeed video about Your Friend Who Is Too Excited For Christmas on my Facebook wall, because that video is me.

But as much as I love string lights and tinsel and pine-scented Glade plug-ins, the holidays can be depressing.

The holidays can be a huge bummer when you’re a broke, single orphan. Last Christmas I got Chinese food and went to see Anchorman 2 with some friends. Turns out, my couple of friends were also a couple who were also a couple looking for a unicorn. It got pretty awkward pretty fast. I came home to my cats and vodka and ate half a package of Oreos.

But winter doesn’t have to be a painful reminder that you’re sad and alone.

Holiday Ideas for Introverts

Some people actually enjoy spending time by themselves, and being alone on Christmas is like a jackpot for them. It’s not a reminder that they’re sad and alone, it’s a reminder that they don’t have to deal with the crazy family drama that everyone else complains about on Snapchat.

  1. Turn Off All Means of Contact—Just because your friends are all with their families doesn’t mean they’re not going to live-blog their gift unwrapping. Turn off your phone and computer and ignore everyone’s humblebrags all day.
  2. Take Naps—I’m a big fan of naps. If you have nothing else you have to do all day, why not spend every minute in bed? You could even do this after you:
  3. Make a Blanket Fort—Who’s gonna judge you? The cats?
  4. Pamper yourself—Give yourself a fancy pedicure, take a bubble bath, use the expensive lube with your vibrator, put every lotion you own on your face. Whatever makes you feel and smell awesome, do that thing.
  5. Online shopping—So you didn’t get the thing you wanted, or maybe you didn’t get anything at all because your friends are as poor as you are. Count your pennies and buy something from your Amazon “treat yourself” list.
  6. Netflix—C’mon, who’s not gonna sit in their pajamas and watch Netflix all day on Christmas?
  7. Play Video Games—One of my introvert friends said this would be her preferred activity if she didn’t have to be with family. Since I’ve spent upwards of 9 consecutive hours playing The Sims in the past, I think this is a likely option.
  8. Order Chinese Food—Unless you want to go the entire day with no human interaction at all. In which case:
  9. Pre-Make The Next Week’s Meals—You have plenty of time, so there is no excuse to not get started on meal prep. Just think of the money and morning-time you’ll save getting it out of the way early!
  10. Catch Up on Work/Classwork—This may not be the most uplifting task, but it should take your mind off of the lack of presents.

Holiday Ideas for Extroverts

This is me. I need a lot of attention. So much that I went on a super awkward date on Christmas so I wouldn’t have to be by myself.

  1. Throw/Attend an Orphan Christmas—This is my plan this year. I’m having people over and going to a party. Stay tuned for my tips on having awesome Friendsgivings and Friendsmases!
  2. Hang Out with Your Jewish Friends—Not everyone goes crazy for Christmas. Why not hang out with other people who have no social obligations that day!
  3. Go to Your Friends’ Family Christmases—As soon as you say you’re going to spend Christmas alone, people will extend (mostly insincere) invitations for you to spend Christmas with their families. I’ve done Other People’s Holidays three times, and even when it’s mostly okay, there’s always a little bit of awkwardness being The Friend.
  4. Volunteer—Soup kitchens and homeless shelters always need a few extra hands to help out on Christmas. Help make someone’s day a little brighter!
  5. Commit Random Acts of Kindness—These are huge on Pinterest: people making goodie bags and cards, or buying gas cans and groceries for neighbors.
  6. Make a Family of Snowmen—If all of your friends are spending time with their own families, you can make a family of your own! Hopefully it’ll fill the void in your cold heart?
  7. Skype Christmas—Even if you can’t spend time together in person, you can still have a pretty great get-together over Skype. Make a Facebook event and plan to have everyone log in at the same time with drinks and snacks of their own, and maybe play a round or two of Cards Against Humanity online together.
  8. Go Get Chinese Food—If you’re lazy, you can still order in, but if you really crave human interaction and greasy vegetables, head to the nearest Chinese buffet.
  9. Go to the Movies—Go see Into The Woods. Go do it!
  10. Go On Vacation—If you can afford to go somewhere fun for the holiday, do it! Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year at Disney World, and who wouldn’t want to go to the beach in the middle of winter? Go somewhere fun and meet some new people!

Embrace your solo time, do something for yourself while everyone is doing stuff for each other, and enjoy the freedom of having no obligations for a day (hopefully).

Remember, the holiday madness will soon be over and you can get back to your regular routine.

I’ve had a number of Christmas celebrations over the years, from going to other people’s houses to awkward dates to eating cold pizza and watching the entirety of Glee in a few days. What’s your orphan holiday tradition?