Author: Astrid

Born an raised in Colorado, Astrid Hanson has a passion for living local and reading books. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2014 with an English degree and in 2015 with a management degree. Since graduating with her master's, she continues to look for a way to be a part of the book industry. In the mean time, she enjoys some of her favorite authors, including Haruki Murakami, Chuck Palahniuk, and Kurt Vonnegut, and works at a local gift shop that supports local artists.

Been a while…

It’s been over a year since I posted on this blog last. Oops. If it helps you feel any better, 2015 was a decently uneventful year. 

I went to graduate school and made friends with whom I have already lost touch. My first semester in the management practice program at CSU involved evening class meetings at the small bar on campus and figuring out how to keep my writing short and sweet. My second semester involved a lot of coffee and too much work with little takeaway. Lucky for me, the program only lasted two semesters, and I was able to graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in less than five years.

Since I graduated in December, I fell back into the seemingly never-ending job search. Once again I have to be a real adult person, and every morning I wake up thinking “I don’t want to. Don’t make me.” Because I might leave my part-time job any day to explore other opportunities, I can’t even fill my time completely with work. Mostly, I just wake up earlier than I’d like every day and send out hopeful responses to job postings. I’ve had one interview this year. I thought it went better than it did, decided to be my blindly optimistic self, and was very disappointed when I got a generic copy-and-paste email on following up. Not everything can go my way, but I’m starting to get tired of being told that someone else is better than me over and over again. It really is exhausting.

On the plus side, all this free time is giving me a chance to write more. Hence, this blog post. Not long ago, I found an old story I wrote and plan to revisit it. There’s another one that I think might be publish-ready, and if I can overcome that “it’s not perfect though” feeling I might send it out to a few places. Maybe I can make some money off my writing and never look for jobs again. If only…

I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’m trying to go in life and how the heck I’m supposed to get there. In an ideal world I could write stories and organize people’s houses for a living. I could read novels and have a vegetable garden(if I could keep it alive) in my free time. And I could interact only with people I actually want to see. This dream might require more adulting than I’m imagining it to, but it sounds better than anything else right now. Being a supportive member of society brings my mood down.

My other and I are still together, now for over two years. Every holiday we celebrate, we now celebrate for the third time(speaking of which, here’s my birthday fondue celebration:10325516_1111123848899826_7263920850305055632_nHe lives an hour and a half away from me now because of work, but it doesn’t feel like a “long distance” relationship. We see each other every weekend and miss each other all week, but we’re never too far away. I’m usually crying pathetically whenever one of us drives away on Sunday nights either way. When my lease is up in August, I’m probably going to move closer to him, and hopefully a job.

For now, though, I’m just trudging along without a bunch of turns visible ahead. I hope that I like whatever comes next.

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Think and Function

Have you ever woken up with an itch? Maybe it starts in the arch of your foot, but it digs deep into the sensitive skin right there. It hurts to scratch. You do it anyway, and your foot now has red spots, dusted with your own ashy skin.

Well, I woke up with an itch last week, but scratching wasn’t exactly easy. It felt like I had a grain of sand embedded into my eye. When I opened it, the light that crept between the shades blinded me. My eye immediately began to water, and for a week it didn’t stop. It was bloodshot beyond the help of eye drops. I had to use a saline wash to sooth the burning beneath my lid. Ice, hotpads, and whatever else might help, didn’t help.

It really is a little embarrassing to take a sick day for you eye, but I couldn’t drive without my vision, and what if it was pink eye?

That’s what I assumed it was. Pink eye would have made sense to a point, but I didn’t have some of the key symptoms. When I finally let someone look at it, she noted a scratch across my cornea. Turns out, one of the scrubbing beads in my facewash had made its way to the top of my eye.

(You think this is gross? Try feeling it for a week.)

The last day my eye bothered me, I also woke up with a horrible headache. Usually I’m only dehydrated, so I drank as much water as I could manage and napped all morning. When I got out of bed, the headache only grew. I took pain medication, but it didn’t kill anything. All I could do was sleep early and hope it would go away.

That next morning, I was relieved to not notice my eye. I had another itch this time, though. It felt like I had a rash in my lungs. They burned slightly, and I was coughing violently. I feared that the cough I had last Spring was returning, but there was one difference: my nose was stuffed. Headache and cold, I went to work.

My lovely boyfriend took care of me for the days after that. He made me soup and manicotti, and I slept while he worked. For three days, I could hadly send a text message without losing all energy and falling asleep. I had a fever that drenched any shirt I wore, as well as the sheets under me. Every time I woke up, I felt like crying. I don’t often think the thought, “I need my mommy,” but this was one of those times. Of course, she couldn’t drive the two and a half hours to be with me, but she bought Rob and I dinner from a distance.

Yesterday, I finally felt healthier. I’m not 100% by any means, but the fever is gone. I didn’t sweat noticeably at all last night. I’m still coughing sometimes, and my head feels stuffy, but all I can do now is sleep. At least I can think and function!

Car Rides and Christmas

On the eve of Christmas Eve, my older sister and I shared my red blanket with the Colorado flag printed on it while murmuring quietly in my dad’s basement. A family argued on the television about how old you have to be to date and drink, but neither of us paid much attention. The new heater my dad bought warmed me into drowsiness, but I help conversation with my sister for a while before my mind begged me for sleep.

That was the first time my older sister and I ever hung out and talked in that house. By the time we moved to the northern end of Colorado Springs, she was almost out of high school, and back then we weren’t friendly towards one another. She, obviously, was older, and therefore cooler and uninterested in sibling love. When we did talk, it often led to bickering, as well as the occasional hole in the wall. Our little sisters like to have sleepovers in each other’s rooms and often fall asleep to giggles and whispers. If Mia and I ever tried to share a bed, one of us would inevitably be hurt by morning. She might have given me a bruise on the ribs, or I might have kicked her “unintentionally” in the face. We, in other words, were not friends. Our little sisters, however, are best friends. I like my sister being my sister, though. It’s a very different sort of relationship.

After a difficult night of sleep on the basement soda, I joined my dad in the kitchen to make breakfast. He prepared it all, but he had a doctor’s appointment–still cancer free!–so I cooked. And, to the younger girls’ pleasure, we opened every single bag and box beneath the pre-lit artificial tree. Later that evening, I underwent the same ceremony at my mom’s.

At this point, I would like to wish you all happy holidays, and I hope your 2015 starts out right!

On Christmas day, my mom and older sister boarded a plane headed to Oregon, and I drove from Colorado Springs back home. On my way through Denver, I started noticing the heavy black cloud with a curtain of white hanging below it. On my way out of Denver, the curtain blinded me. For an hour and a half, I drove at at a painfully slow rate to avoid sliding off the interstate as so many other vehicles already had. Half an hour of snow, and people’s bumpers were buried in ditches.

I was perfectly safe until hitting the exit ramp. Foot down all the way, nearly at a stop, and the ice slid my car into a stranger’s. It was a miracle I hit the nicest woman on the planet and did no damage whatsoever. Once I got home, though, I was shaking violently with anxiety-driven adrenaline. Wrapping me in his arms, Rob made me take a deep breath, and he calmed me down. The rest of my Christmas was leftovers and Bond films.

Now, I am happy to say I have some time to myself. I spent the day cleaning my apartment(which gets surprisingly disgusting if I leave my roommate to his own devices), I read a good chunk of John Dies at the End, and I’m just about ready to catch up on some much-needed sleep.

Be well, readers!

Breaking

Last week, everything I touched broke, and everything I did went wrong.

Well, not everything, I suppose. On Monday, I celebrated my birthday with mimosas and good company. I didn’t break anything then that I know of. Unfortunately, Tuesday was the start of a bad week.

I managed to knock over two big displays at work, breaking a good amount of merchandise. My boss never cares, and we don’t have to pay for what gets broken, but I’d much prefer that I didn’t mimic a tornado. In addition to that, I broke something I was trying to clean for a friend, ripped the sole of a pair of shoes, snapped a broom in two, and dropped my hair dryer. It almost feels like the destruction will never end. Maybe it’s in my blood.

Oh, and I’ve been so busy studying for the GMAT and working Christmas season in retail that I forgot to mention the Master of Management Practice is still available if I get in for next semester. And considering I aced the GMAT, it wasn’t much of a surprise when I got my email of acceptance yesterday.

My mom is so happy to have two daughters going into masters programs. My older sister studied biology, however, and she is pursuing it even further. She’s already in a successful career with her own house and car. I have a feeling that owning a small business or editing won’t get me to the same point as quickly. Then again, I have no idea what lies ahead–in any category of life. Everyone seems to celebrate their 20’s as much as possible: drinking publicly, wearing youthful clothing, meeting various partners. To me, at least for now, my 20’s are unstable and confusing.

I don’t mean I’m unstable. I’ve never felt better in my life, actually. But I don’t know where I’ll be in sixth months, let alone in several years. The ground shifts constantly beneath my feet, and while I have decent balance, it’s starting to make me uncomfortable. It makes me dread the ground falling out beneath me.

A pretty personal example of this is my relationship. It’s great. We’re a strong couple, but we discussed long distance and won’t do it. Rob graduates in May, and by entering this program I know for a fact I’m staying where I am for at least one more year. Already, though, he is applying for jobs around the country, and he knows he plans to jump around before settling down in one place. It’s likely that I’ll spend several years saving money before opening my business, but I don’t know if I’ll be jumping around with him. I want to ask him to wait just a little longer for me to graduate, but I never want to hold him back.

So for selfish reasons, I pray he gets a job in Colorado. Because I love him more than words and want him to succeed with joy, though, I plan to urge him to do what is best for him, even if it means him moving to Texas or Illinois. So that’s one reason I consider my 20’s a time of instability. I have no control over my future in many aspects.

Rob and I did get a wonderful gift from my boss, and Sunday night we had dinner and rode through Old Town in a horse carriage. Here we are:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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I woke up at 7 this morning,  but my alarm just sounded at 11 a.m. Sleeping in isn’t easy for me,  especially when I have anxious dreams about being back in high school.

In my extra time today,  I made one pecan pie and two pumpkin pies. Of course, I would’ve done that even if I didn’t wake up early.

I’ll write more soon!

Have a swell Thanksgiving!

And now?

Last week, I was told that the graduate program for which I applied is no longer available. Admissions asked if I wanted to apply for a different program, but every other business program takes two years and is meant for corporate aspirers. Getting an MBA is definitely something to feel accomplished about, but a lot of the classes would be irrelevant to my goals. So I asked another woman at Colorado State University for some advice, and from what she said in response, I might still be able to get the Master of Management Practice if I get accepted for Spring semester. The downside is that the business school likes to take its time in responding.

My biggest tension right now is in the fact that I don’t know whether I need to sign up for the GMAT, and whether I should keep studying for it. I did a good amount of studying before I found out the program may no longer exist. Now, though, I’m operating under the depressing assumption that I can’t actually get into next semester’s graduate school.

If I can’t get the MMP, I’m just defaulting to community college classes. Based on the curriculum, I should be able to get an AAS in business in about a year, maximum a year and a half. It would be much less expensive than an MMP, but if I’m going to open a business, I’d prefer the best education I can get.

I’ve been brainstorming businesses lately, thinking of how I’d like to arrange a shop, what I’d like to sell. There are so many things about retail I love, but I need to narrow my vision. I started out thinking about a cafe, bar, and bookstore. I still like this idea, but I’m not entirely sure I want to work in food.

Inspired by this, however, I would like to have coffee-, tea-, beer-, and wine-themed gifts at the front of the shop, with a central display of coffee samples to draw people in. My current job at Alpine Arts: The Colorado Showcase, as well as past jobs at Colorado gift shops, have inspired me to support local artists, as well. In that spirit, I would very much like to open a Colorado Boutique. I would most likely carry some of the same artists as Alpine Arts, but I might also pursue some vendors she never did. I’ll also try to work with other contacts I’ve made since I started working in Old Town, Fort Collins.

Similar to Alpine Arts, everything for sale in my shop would be made in Colorado, but I would target a slightly wealthier audience than souvenir shops do. I would probably have a smaller shop with less selection, but everything would be incredible quality and absolutely beautiful. Ranging from hats and jewelry to wall art and pottery, I would want people to feel as though they are investing good money in my product.

In order to find vendors, I’ve been browsing Etsy and looking at catalogues from work. It’s a good use of my time, I think.

I suppose, for now, I just have to wait and see how things unravel.

Conversations and Failed Pumpkinery

The pumpkin I carved this year isn’t very good. It looks pretty cool in the daylight, but it doesn’t look very good with a candle in it. Last time I carved a pumpkin, it was a really neat owl, but this year, I tried to do the Colorado flag:

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I didn’t even take a picture of my pumpkin. If I painted it, it might look better, but I honestly just didn’t think it through all the way. Rob carved the pi symbol into his.

Rob also taught me how to make glasses out of beer bottles. I managed to do it once very slowly, but he went much faster without my “help”. And he brewed this incredible pumpkin spice beer.

Over the past few days, I’ve recognized and appreciate how much my boyfriend does. I’ve also realized how much time he needs in order to accomplish his tasks, but I didn’t see this without some help.

On Tuesday we had a long-needed conversation about our relationship, and immediately afterwards I felt all my anxiety disappear. The central theme of our talk was that I’ve been investing so much time into him and our relationship that I haven’t had time for myself. On top of that, I’ve been absorbing all of Rob’s time, making it difficult for him to be himself and do all his work. So now we hang out a little less, and I read a lot more.

I forgot how much I love books. Since Tuesday, I read the final books in Amy Kathleen Ryan’s Sky Chasers series. A lot of my friends had read them in middle school, but I hadn’t even heard of them until I took an adolescent literature class last year. The storyline is fascinating, and the ending isn’t at all disappointing. I’m planning on finishing David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day this week and starting the book my mom just gave me. I’ve even been feeling creatively inspired to write more and do mosaics. I’ll take a picture of one when something turns out nicely.

My long-term life plan may have changed since I last wrote for this, too. After talking with Rob, I realized how young I am, and how far ahead I am. Most people aren’t even close to graduating at 21. So I’m going to apply to business school, get an MBA, and open a store where I can do what I truly love to do.

It will be a bookstore, and I will begin my stock with books donated to me by everyone I know. But the books certainly wouldn’t be the profit, so I would make it into a cafe and bar, serving coffee and tea day-long and adding beer and wine to the menu in the afternoon. I would hold book clubs, and I would host creative writing workshops. Hopefully I could convince people to read some nights for entertainment.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’m excited. We’ll see what happens, but whatever does will surely be wonderful.

Feeling the norm

The past few weeks have been rough on me, and I know it isn’t for any particularly logical reason.

A part of it is that my significant other has been incredibly busy, so I haven’t seen as much of him as I’d like. Not only is he in his final year of a mechanical engineering degree, but he works part time and volunteers to help various contacts with events and projects. At home, he’s even been brewing his own beer and kombucha, so I’m certainly not concerned about him misusing his time. When I do see him, it’s sweet. He makes up for our time apart with warm hugs and little acts of affection. Nevertheless, I’m never quite as energetic or cheerful as I am when I get to spend more time with him. It doesn’t help that it’s been a down week anyway. At least it’s a down week instead of a down life.

Even with the low thoughts and waves of negativity I’ve been experiencing, I appreciate the normality I feel most days. When I was in high school, I didn’t know how the typical person felt at any given moment. For me, a pause in activity or thinking was dreadful. When I slowed down, I would hold my breath and try not to move until that heavy feeling of suppression left. So I kept as busy as I could back then. I took all the hardest, most work-intensive classes, and I played flute. I fenced, and I babysat. Sometimes I even tried to cook or knit or play computer games. No matter how hard and constantly I worked to avoid those moments of non-thinking, though, they would come.

I would often lay in bed waiting for sleep and stare at the lights traveling across my ceiling, and it was at those times I feared myself. I could have listed everything that made me happy, but if I did my mind would have twisted it all, and joys would have become miseries. Every movement would bring to my attention another dull aching brought to life only by my chemically unstable psyche. My own mind turned against me, gave me options for emotional release that only would have worsened my situation.

Moving through the halls with friends, I would lose motivation to walk, collapsing to lean against any wall nearby. They would join me, chat about silly things, and act as though I’d deliberately taken that seat. I know that some of them were burdened, too, though, put down by their own genetic codes and family members. I know and knew that I’ve never been alone, and for that I am appreciative.

When I started college, my mother and older sister encouraged me to seek help, and it wasn’t the first time they had done so. Before, help was never really accessible, though. Even so, for bad reasons–fear of diagnosis, risk of exposure, pride–I resisted. I went to bed when the sun was barely setting, I showered twice a day, I skipped classes, and I avoided human contact.

Then, after a very honest night with my older sister, I decided I needed to stop the urges to disappear before I got the courage to do something horrible. She took me to a therapist, and she took me to a doctor. The therapist was no help at all, considering that she was more interested in talking about her weekly tarot meetings in Denver than discussing how to cope with my brain’s uncomfortable flaws. The doctor, though, may have quite literally saved my life. Finding the cocktail took some time, but one morning I woke up and the clouds had cleared.

Many people don’t know what depression feels like, and it’s not easy to describe, but being without it is incredible. I now breathe without the desire to stop. I swallow without the ball of tension in my throat. When tears come, there is almost always an external source for the pain.

So I’ve had a few rough days. I’ve slept a lot and taken too many showers. Even right now I’m sitting on my bed, the only light here pushing its way through the slits in my closed blinds, but I know that this odd, encapsulating heaviness will fade if I let it. Because my norm has changed. And I am so grateful.

Thankfully

It makes me feel guilty when I don’t write or post to my blog for a while, especially considering that my last post was a reblog. Strangely, though, I want to to blame it on laziness, when it’s really just lack of time and motivation. The last few weeks have been very odd, too.

My dad and I have a hard time keeping in touch. My stepmom and I email back and forth occasionally, so I usually know what’s going on at home, but my dad never answers his phone or returns messages. A couple weeks ago, however, he did give me a call. He told me he went to the doctor after he got back from China–nobody had told me he was in China at all, by the way–and they got some funny results. He was scheduled to go into surgery the next morning.

Cancer has hit my family pretty hard.When I was in high school, my mom found out she had colon cancer. She had to get surgery, and she had to go through chemotherapy. Throughout the whole process, my dad was very sweet and helpful, even though they’re divorced and don’t get along. At the time, I was just starting to drive, so he helped pick her up after chemo, and he got her flowers. She wanted to do the same for him when he got his news, but the whole process went much more quickly.

Thankfully, my dad doesn’t have to experience chemo. He got the surgery, and after a few tests, they found out it was a complete success. So in a span of a week, my dad found out he had cancer and became cancer free.

I was going to drive down with my boyfriend the weekend after his surgery. Last November, I ended up having a few seizures in the hospital, and he drove up just to see me for a few minutes, so I wanted to return the favor. I wanted to be as supportive a daughter as he has been a father. The painkillers weren’t working as well as they should, though, and he picked up a stomach flu that kept him confined to the bathroom. My stepmom called to tell me that driving down wasn’t the best idea.

That weekend my little sister got injured in a wagon accident and broke her clavicle and separated her shoulder. I’m not entirely sure what a wagon accident entails, but I’m pretty sure she’ll stay away from wagons from now on.

While my parents both have cancer, and my sisters are all just as accident prone as I am, my family has ultimately retained its health. I really do appreciate modern medicine and caring doctors.

Chuck Palahniuk’s Books Reimagined as Insane Concert Posters

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors. Along with Haruki Murakami and Kurt Vonnegut, of course.

Flavorwire

The books of Chuck Palahniuk are steeped in the signifiers of cult literature — sex, violence, dark humor — so it makes sense that their stories and styles would lend themselves to perhaps the ultimate cult art form: the rock-concert poster. Paulo Correa, an art director and illustrator based in the Philippines, has taken up the task of translating Palahniuk’s aesthetic into what he calls “lowbrow gig posters” for each of his books. Click through to see the full series, which we spotted at Design Taxi.

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