Tunesday: Men in Hats

Oh, it’s been a minute since my last Tunesday post. Apologies. Life is sort of weird right now, and I haven’t been great about consistent blogging. Or eating at normal meal times. Or sleeping enough. Anyway…

I’ve seen each of these three artists live, and the vocals are just as amazing at a concert set. Check out these non-studio songs (and send me music to listen to).

1. Gregory Alan Isakov performing “The Universe” for a Fuel/Friends Music Blog Chapel Session in Colorado Springs, CO.

the Universe, she’s wounded
but she’s still got infinity ahead of her
she’s still got you and me
and everybody says that she’s beautiful

I love Gregory Alan Isakov so, so, so much. When I was driving through construction at night with a U-Haul trailer attached to my car after being in the car for more than 12 hours (read: on the edge of an anxiety attack), I put on his music to calm me down. The Universe is one of my favorite songs ever, and always makes me feel sad-sleepy-nostalgic-content. I saw him in Columbia when he opened for Iron & Wine. There was a truly awful crowd that nearly ruined it for me, but I’m sure I’ll catch another set in my life.

2. Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors performing “Tennessee” in a living room session

I am the second born of my mother and father
He’s a lion hearted man, she’s a Jesus lovin’ woman
And no matter how far I roam I always belong

I was in the front row to see these guys in Columbia. For this song, the rest of the band went backstage and Drew sang this alone and acoustic. I nearly didn’t make it because I was so overwhelmed (okay, that’s really dramatic, but you know me). They’re playing at ACL in October, so I’m hoping for round two.

3. Shakey Graves performing “Hardwired” for Stetson Center Stage

Well you bumbled like bees
And I’m boiled like the seas
While you led where no one would follow

This! Man! Shakey Graves (i.e. Alejandro Rose-Garcia) played Blues On The Green in Austin on my birthday last week, which was the best present I could have asked for. He’s a total goober with an incredible voice, and this song is so bittersweet. He’s also playing at ACL, so hopefully I get to dance to Roll The Bones again.

What’re you listening to these days, friends? 

A poem! And what poem would that be?

 I told myself (and y’all) I would learn to be brave and post more creative work on here, and I’ve been slacking. Here’s that poem I told you I wrote this weekend.

My Longest Love Affair by Hanna Jacunski

The grandmother in front of me calls out to a mop-top toddler.
She half-laughs the same nickname you gave me,
and everything stops for a heartbeat.

Just like that, I am in my room alone.
I was screaming underwater and you were timezones away,
playing music too loudly.
Crying cat-in-a-cage howls. Aching, desperate, hungry.

Just like that, I am beaming.
Holding my own ribs. Exploring my own skin.
A little sparrow preening because someone was proud of her
for making it through the night. Patient, new, open.

Just like that, I am dreaming about you.
A silly fantasy that you fit into, despite every worry otherwise.
A line of love threading year after year together. Warm, tired, constant.

The world jumps into orbit again. Mop-top and her grandmother
grab their bags of peaches and milk and eggs.
I trip forward and pay for my groceries.
You ebb at my ankles and then wash back to low-tide.

I’m okay now. I exist outside of your attention.
I stopped selling you for parts,
desperate to see you in the people around me.
They are their own chewed fingernails or half smiles or messy hair,
not yours.

I’m okay now. I don’t feel guilty when someone sleeps in my bed.
You don’t lurk in the corner of every sad song.
The aching went away with the wishes for reciprocity.

I’m okay now. The nickname is simply a serpent with good intentions.
The last puzzle piece pushed into place.
A key in a lock. The weight of two blankets in the dead of winter.

I’m okay now, bug.

 This piece means a lot to me, so please be kind. I’d love constructive criticism if you want to drop me a line. Also: these aren’t the original line breaks, but I had to edit the formatting a bit for WP specs.

Yoga Drought and Writer’s Block

Yoga gets me in my head a lot for an activity so focused on presence of mind and body. On Sunday afternoon, I went to practice for the first time since Alaska. My mom and I walked in two minutes before class started, giving us enough time to spread out mats out before a soft voice was asking us to take a seat and close our eyes.

I’ve always found that picking up yoga isn’t quite like riding a bike. There was no bobble of balance, no wind in my hair. My body moves with an ease and familiarity that I never quite expect. Flows feel second nature and breathing becomes intentional.  My heart centers and slows.

The aching I’ve been feeling for the past few days dissipated with each heart-center. Tired, weary muscles energized and came to life in every half-prayer twist, in every down dog. I moved with both instinct and intention as I sank into chair or warrior. I felt capable. I felt good.

A few years ago, I went to an early evening practice at the rec on campus. The sun was going down, and golden light poured into the quiet studio. Silhouetted against the mirrors, we stood in tree pose. I remember looking at myself to check my posture and realizing that I felt beautiful. Dressed in all black with leftover mascara, my hair pushed back with a soft headband, barefoot on my mat. Strong and still and surrounded by strangers.

For someone who has struggled her entire life with her body image, accidentally feeling pretty is enough to bring me to tears. There was no 20 minute makeup routine. There was no tugging at tops or fussing with jeans or changing into something that covers up more. I was not concerned with how others would interpret the jiggle in my arms. It was a singular freeing moment that I’ve been chasing down ever since.

Me practicing yoga is a lot like me writing poetry. I work really hard on it and then drop it for months. It stretches bits of me I didn’t realize were there. It usually helps keep my anxiety and depression at bay. I don’t know if I’m any good at it, but every time I do it, I want to go back for more.

I’ve been working on poems recently. Like, actively working. Like, sit-down-and-write-four-stanzas-and-rework-and-edit-and-write-more working. There’s a spoken word piece in the works, and I’ve been dabbling in flash fiction. I’m trying to embrace the struggle of creative writing. It’s nothing like blog posts. I can open up WordPress and dump my thoughts onto here with decidedly less effort. I type the way I talk and tell stories, without too much thought about meter or line breaks. Poetry, on the other hand, is much more labor intensive. And, for the same reason, much more cathartic.

I wrote one over the weekend that I’m actually really proud of, and I think I’m going to post it on here. There’s something so intensely gratifying in finishing a poem, especially when it’s been sitting in your drafts for days. I opened a vein I’ve been babying for months and worked out every drop of “I love you but.” It wore me out. It made me almost cry. I nearly trashed the whole thing, but the person I wrote it about read it and told me it was incredible.

When it was all said and done, I was left standing in the sun, feeling beautiful.

What I’ve been trying to say is that yoga and writing are the two things my soul is forever itching to do. It’s time to practice things that push us gently toward betterment. To work hard on understanding hard feelings. To letting pain give way to prayer and poems.

Here’s to strength of muscle and mind. Here’s to feeling beautiful.

Go To The Doctor. Love, Hanna.

If there’s one thing I ever wanted to do with my writing, it’s to make someone’s life just a smidge better. (Also, like, make people cry after reading my poems, but that’s another story.) So when I found out about health insurance provider Oscar Insurance’s infographic for CDC Girlfriend’s Day , I jumped at the chance to help spread some important information. Oscar is a new tech-based insurance company that wants their members to be proactive about their health. They have a Doctor on Call tool that allows you to reach a doctor with any question at any time of the day, and a Misfit fitness tracker that lets you earn cash back for reaching a daily step goal. (If you’re in the area, be sure to check out their New York and New Jersey health insurance plans.)

My close friends reading this are probably rolling their eyes back into their heads. “Hanna! You once had a sinus infection for nearly two months because you refused to go into the doctor!” Yes, I know. That happened.

Twice.
But I am reformed! I promise!

When I was working as a camp counselor in Alaska, I got super sick. Maybe it was the roller coaster weather patterns (hot and dry to cold and foggy). Maybe it was the late nights and early mornings. Maybe it was living in platform tents with five other staff members. The week I got sick, I was a floating counselor, and spent most blocks at the boathouse. I helped seven-year-olds find proper life jackets, pushed kayaks of middle schoolers out into our lake and prayed nobody forced me to use my small craft safety training. As I was helping one of my favorite girls pull her kayak in, she turned her small, freckled face to me and said “Jaybird, are you okay? You look really tired. Are you sick?”

That’s the thing about working with kids. They are honest (sometimes to a fault). Let’s just say after that, I pushed meds every four hours on the dot and drank more chamomile tea than I thought was humanly possible. I was better in a day and a half. Two lessons there: 1) I have an easily readable face and 2) do not deny help because you think you’re better than modern medicine.

Since that oddly transformative head cold, I have ~seen the light.~ I always have DayQuil in my cabinet. I finally reached out and got medication to curb my crippling anxiety attacks and depression. I actually treated my seasonal allergies during the pollen haze that is early springtime in the Midwest.

More so than just medication, I learned to listen to my body. Instead of pushing myself to exhaustion four nights a week, I cut back on my involvement in clubs. I tried sleeping instead of propping my near-lifeless body up with coffee crutches. Of course, during my senior year of journalism school, this was sometimes more of a theory than a practice. But I tried, and that’s sometimes all you can do.

The reason I’m prattling on and on about my own (seemingly stupid) path to modern medicine and common sense is because it’s important. By taking care of your health, you can keep watch over your livelihood. I know not everything can be fixed with a trip to the doctor — trust me. My mental health diagnoses gives me hell every day. I have hormonal imbalances that lead to a huge barrage of side effects and chronic issues. My skin breaks out if you look at it wrong. But I am working on making conscious decisions to improve my health. Life is better experienced when you don’t feel like you’re dead on your feet.

Real talk: Check-ups and vaccinations are super important, y’all. Early screening means early detection means getting a jump on treatment before infections spread or compound. Check in to be sure your family and friends are getting the routine immunizations and screenings they need!

Let’s be smart about this, ladies: We are generally social beings, so why not use it for a good? Let’s say you already text the group text with dog pictures 10 times a day (me). Try throwing in a reminder every once in a while to drink water, go on a walk or make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off. Get on Facebook and share an article with free flu shot clinic locations. Send your sister healthy lunch recipes you can make super cheaply (because let’s be real…we’re broke).

Establishing accountability from a place of genuine concern is a trend I’m all over. I love you — of course I want to make sure you live forever!

Oscar Women's CheckupsLRG
Infographic courtesy of Oscar Insurance

Happiness and the Nature of Winging It

Happiness is the easiest thing in the world, and also the hardest. It’s sunshine on your face. It’s battling brain chemistry. It’s as complicated as being in the right place at the right time to see the right person, and as easy as making yourself get in the shower after an anxiety attack.

This weekend, I celebrated happiness in the most tangible sense of the word. I decided on a whim to tag along with two friends to St. Louis Pride, which has been one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I’ve made in a long time. We gathered beads and beer, danced with friends and strangers, cheered on drag queens and yelled “Love Wins” at the top of our lungs. People were so happy. This ruling is a triumph in every sense of the word, but it’s a first step. A monumental one, but a first step nonetheless. There is so much more fighting to be done for LGBTQ+ rights: You can get fired for being not straight, and you can be even be evicted from your apartment. But there we all were, filling St. Louis with color and kissing and battle cries and selfies and hope and stickers and tears and smiling, celebrating a happy, happy victory.

Spontaneity has been on my mind a lot recently. It’s something I haven’t been able to indulge in for quite a while. I had to work. I procrastinated too much and needed to stay up super late to finish a project. I was broke. Usually, summer is my adventure time. After freshman year, I explored Austin with my sister. After sophomore, I ran away to Alaska to work as a camp counselor. Last summer, I hopped the pond to spend a summer in Belgium. This year, I’m off to a slower start. It’s been mostly work, Netflix and going to my favorite bars with friends.

But things are about to pick back up. When your life path is largely “I don’t know,” things are equal parts scary and exhilarating In two weeks, I’m moving out of my apartment and out of Columbia. For good. Which, initially, is terrifying and very, very sad and anxiety inducing in the extreme. It’s also exciting and thrilling and cause for celebration. I get to move on to a new adventure in Austin (which will hopefully soon include full-time employment if y’all could cross your fingers for me). I get to change and grow and go do new things. Meet new people. Find new coffee shops. Find new favorite bartenders. But to do that, I have to be willing to put myself out there.

This is my public declaration and internal plea to let myself take more chances. I’m a people pleaser and also a nervous sort of person. I worry about what people think of me. I don’t like to leave the house without triple-checking my hair or doing my eyebrows. I am also a person who loves adventures and eating at late night diners and exploring where there isn’t cell service. I want the next chapter of my life to focus on soothing this cognitive dissonance.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s way better than it has been. I feel more like myself than I have in ages. My good body image days far outweigh my bad ones. I’m not really afraid of shorts. I’m not afraid to dance in the grocery store. My hair is half blue-teal-teal-whatever.  I am realizing parts of my identity that are exciting and freeing and wonderful. I have a couple ridiculous crushes that make my life so wacky. Things have been really good recently.

Maybe it’s the fact that I won’t have to endure another finals week for more than five years (assuming I ever go to grad school). Maybe it’s the fact that my research project is done and submitted and out of my hair. Maybe it’s the fact that I feel validated in my physical presence. Maybe it’s the fact that people are proud of me. I’m not sure, but I feel more less like a pile of sludge and more like a sunbeam every day.

Not Dead, Just Thinkin’

I haven’t blogged in a while. Instead, I’ve been recording audio messages on my walks home. It looks like I’m talking on the phone, but really I’m just spilling my guts about things coming to an end. I’m going to try to translate some into written words. No promises for how it turns out. 

Every day is a last, even if I don’t realize it. The last time I’ll grab a beer with someone. The last time I see a favorite regular customer at work. The last time someone sees me crossing the street. Last that I haven’t been able to hang onto, to claw at and cling to like sentimental sand.

I have been an up-and-down mess. I am staying out later and later with my friends, none of us wanting the party to end. (even when it comes to us sitting in a silent circle, listening to music a notch too loud). I crawl into hugs and settle there, unable to make myself let go. We’ve become dependent. We’ve become hungry. We’ve become bottomless pits for cheap beer and dance beats.

I sleep late. I roam around my apartment. I open up my journal to write poems, then close it in favor of The X-Files. I am still drinking too much coffee. I am making new friends.I went to a bar alone to say bye to my favorite bartender. I am saying goodbye to best friends. I am crying on my walks home because I am tired of saying goodbye.

I’m searching for jobs that won’t squash my soul. I’m looking at dogs up for adoption. I’m toying with the idea of starting to pack up my apartment. I’m taking naps on my couch. I’m working long hours. I’m singing out loud.

Things are strange and different and changing quickly in my world right now. When I can make sense of my emotions a bit more, I’ll write a more put-together post.

Until then, here’s a list of good things in my life:

  • The dynamic between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully
  • Summer thunderstorms
  • An abundance of puppies
  • Coffee Zone’s playlists
  • I finally snagged the Stila lipstick I’ve been pining after
  • Overwhelming love and kindness from my friends
  • Sufficient alone time
  • Co-workers that make seven+ hour shifts not awful
  • Best friends
  • Supportive mentors even when I’m a mess
  • Ice cream
  • Breakfast potatoes
  • The promise that my next chapter will be just as crazy and sad and happy and weird and wonderful as my last.

Happy summer, kiddos. Read good books and drink beer on patios. Hopefully the sun is out wherever you are.

Pick Your Platform: I Need Your Help!

Hi, y’all! It’s the middle of finals weeks. I am an exhausted, sappy, why-did-I-put-this-essay-off, stretched-too-thin mess, so real blog posts will resume after graduation (!!!!!!!!!) this Saturday.

In the mean time…

I have been working on a research project this semester about social media behavior and the psychology behind why we post certain content on certain platforms. One of the biggest parts of this project is an anonymous survey about posting habits. It took ages to write, format and get approved, but it’s finally live.

That’s where you come in.

Please consider taking less than 10 minutes out of your day to take this survey. It’s completely anonymous and doesn’t require any critical thinking. It’s simply answering some questions about how much and what kind of ~stuff~ you post online.

You can take it by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/socialmedia_hfj

*forced laughter and general disbelief*
*forced laughter and general disbelief*

Thank you so much for your help! It really means a lot.
Good luck on finals and happy graduation to the Class of 2015! We did it!