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Existential Turtle Time

A collection of adventures, reviews, and contemplation

Don’t Mourn. Act.

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I never considered myself a political person until recently.

This was only the second time I had ever voted (my first was in the primaries), and trust me, there have been many opportunities for me to exercise this privilege since my 18th birthday. I abstained from local elections, never attended rallies, and generally steered away from political topics in conversation. While aware, I was passive. And when the new presidency was announced, I thought to myself, “Is there anything else I could’ve done?” even though I already knew. Complacency, at any point in the political process, has never been appropriate. Continue reading “Don’t Mourn. Act.”

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The Guilt of Dropping Engineering

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This past summer, I decided to transfer out of my engineering school. The confrontation of my intense desire to, as well as the actual steps I took to do so, were all extremely emotional. My mind was racked with disappointment, sadness, and so much guilt. Was I being a cop-out? Was I tanking my future? Who, besides myself, was I letting down? Continue reading “The Guilt of Dropping Engineering”

“Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne

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I was expecting Around the World in Eighty Days to be very Eat, Pray, Love-esque, in the sense that I thought it’d make me want to jump on a plane and explore the world. It didn’t; the book is more about precision than it is about wanderlust. But that’s actually something I loved about it: it was filled with adventure without getting caught up in the sentimental details that are typically found in books about travel (e.g. “Here’s how my trip to *insert place* changed my life forever…”). Continue reading ““Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne”

Olympic Mindset

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I. LOVE. The Olympics.

Two days ago, I sat on my couch and finally tuned in to the most exciting international event of 2016: the Rio Olympics. I didn’t become a huge fan of the infamous games until 2012, when for the first time I witnessed the magnificence of Aliya Mustafina’s stage presence, the glow and optimism of Gabby Douglas, the grace of Aly Raisman’s floor routine, and the heartbreaking fate of Jordyn Wieber’s all-around potential. (If it wasn’t obvious already, gymnastics is my favorite sport to watch by FAR.) I would sit cross-legged on the floor with my cousin, late at night and barely a foot from the TV screen, avidly watching the gymnasts do the seemingly impossible. And if I still had it in me when the events were over—even after holding my breath and crossing my fingers during every pass—I’d stick around for the daily medal count and recaps. Continue reading “Olympic Mindset”

“You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero

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THIS BOOK WAS SO FUN TO READ! It was exactly what I needed after a pretty difficult past year. It’s so easy to play the victim and stay in a pessimistic mindset when things are repeatedly going badly, but this book shook me out of that state and brought to my attention how lame it is to wallow in your own negativity. You Are A Badass emphasizes how you could and should wake up every morning, pumped about your day and loving the fact that you get to be you. And if you’re not….then, well, you’re kind of half-assing your life. Continue reading ““You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero”

“Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut

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This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. When I finished it, I was honestly speechless. And once I finally overcame that initial shock, my first thought was: what the heck did I just read? Continue reading ““Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut”

Bucket List Item #18: Become a Published Writer

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Wasn’t the novel that I imagined would be checking off this item, but hey, it still counts! Continue reading “Bucket List Item #18: Become a Published Writer”

Lessons From My Sister

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My sister is a role model, a teacher, a confidante, and an inspiration. I cannot stress enough how much she has shaped me, and if you’ve had the privilege of knowing her, then I’m sure that applies to you as well: wherever she goes, she makes an impact. Despite being only four years older, she’s acquired an incredible amount of wisdom. Below are some of the best things I’ve learned from her: Continue reading “Lessons From My Sister”

Bucket List Item #16: Eat a cannoli from Carlo’s Bakery


I used to be a huge fan of Cake Boss, so eating one of their famous cannolis has been the dream for quite a while. When I realized that a Carlo’s Bakery would be opening in my hometown—even better, during spring break when I’d be back—I knew that this fantasy was finally in reach. Well, kind of. Continue reading “Bucket List Item #16: Eat a cannoli from Carlo’s Bakery”

“Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton

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This book was basically the OG love affair novel of early 1900s American literature. You’ve got a troubled marriage, forbidden but passionate love, and the typical introverted and awkward male protagonist who is suddenly transformed into a romantic when infatuated by a captivating new stranger. Continue reading ““Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton”

Lessons From My Mom

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I swear, my mom is Superwoman. She has done absolutely everything to pave the best possible path for my sister and me, and I cannot thank her enough for being such an amazing caretaker and role model. Her sacrifices, her kindness, and her grace are unmatched by anyone I know. Below are just a handful of the many lessons she’s taught me: Continue reading “Lessons From My Mom”

Lessons From My Dad

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Everyone in my family has blessed me with bits of wisdom to carry throughout my life. I haven’t always agreed with my dad, but I realize that without him, I would be an incredibly different person (and probably a much less productive one). As I think about the way our relationship has developed over time, I recall the many lessons he’s taught me, the best of which are below: Continue reading “Lessons From My Dad”

Compartés Chocolatier

Not your typical breakfast bar. Compartés Chocolatier is AMAZING. These handmade, fashionably packaged, and downright delicious chocolate bars from LA are worth a try—definitely going to try their s’mores bar next!   

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

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As of yet, this is the best self-improvement book I’ve ever read. As Covey points out in the introduction, The 7 Habits distinguishes itself from others of its genre through its emphasis on the Character Ethic instead of the Personality Ethic. Continue reading ““The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey”

you.

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I am at home right now
Sleeping in a room of relics and past dreams
You sleep in a different bed in every city.

I have a schedule now
I rise and dress and leave for the day
You never plan decisions and only do as you may.

I am silent now
By choice, by wish, I restrict what I share
You tell me everything because you believe I should care.

I am indifferent now
With all tenses, all choices
You still reek of past guilt and background noises.

But while I still ache
from things so long-gone
You never blinked an eye,
I wished I were as strong.

Growing Pains

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It’s an incredibly eye-opening experience, although subtle in its effects, when you separate your mind, emotions, and physical self from something that used to hurt you. You cannot see the changes immediately, and if you can, perhaps you’re trying too hard to search for consequences that need time to develop. Continue reading “Growing Pains”

Mini Pies

As if regular pies weren’t cute enough. Mini pies for the win!

The Dark Side of Proactivity

A friend and I were recently talking about habits, particularly ones we’d like to form. Of course on our lists were things like “drinking more water” and “exercising consistently,” but on a deeper level, I really wanted to work on being more proactive. Continue reading “The Dark Side of Proactivity”

Bucket List Item #5a: Do the Krispy Kreme Challenge

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The Krispy Kreme Challenge is a race in which you run 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme, eat a DOZEN of donuts, and then run 2.5 miles back. The challenge is to finish this all in under an hour!

Continue reading “Bucket List Item #5a: Do the Krispy Kreme Challenge”

Books in the House!

FullSizeRenderBooks on books on books. All found and selected in the Le house, mainly from Em’s bookshelf!

Bucket List Item #22: Start a public blog

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Well, this is meta.

“Yes Please” by Amy Poehler

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It was written exactly how I thought it’d be. Continue reading ““Yes Please” by Amy Poehler”

A Year Ago Today

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A year ago today
I cannot remember clearly
The only thing in heart and brain
Is who I valued dearly

I think back on a year ago
Sigh past residual pain
Accept it, for it’s undeniable
Everything has changed.

Career Paths…Through the Ages

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Question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
4th Grade Natalie: A mix between a doctor, a tennis player, and a pro bass fisher!
5th Grade Natalie: Y’know…I wish there was a college degree for just “Dominating,” because I want to rule the world.
Junior Year (high school) Natalie: A CEO.
Freshman Year (college) Natalie: A physicist-computer scientist-engineer.
Present Natalie: *see 5th Grade Natalie’s response.*

But seriously, I have no idea what I want to do with my life anymore. Which is kind of scary, of course, but in an exciting way.

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