London: I’d Rather Be Alone

I ventured out into a new part of London yesterday, I had no rhyme or reason, I just kind of wanted to go. So I woke up early (too early) after a late night out with friends, ate some breakfast, got dressed, and walked out the door before many of my flatmates had even left their beds. From the second I woke up I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go, but doubted myself for a second in thinking, should I wait for everyone else to wake up before I leave? Should I ask if anyone wants to come with me? Deep down I knew that I’d be happiest if I ventured out alone and it bothered me that I second-guessed myself, so it got me thinking…

It is pretty abnormal for a girl my age to prefer doing things on her own than in the company of other people, especially in discovering a new city which she knows barely anything about. Now I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, after all my phone is pretty much useless in this country so getting lost in London is quite easy for me to do and finding my way home can be quite difficult. Despite this though, the fear that accompanies being a young female alone in a foreign city, I still wanted and greatly preferred being alone yesterday. Now, a big misconception people have about me (and others like me?) is that I am shy and/or do not enjoy the company of other people – but let me tell you right now, neither one of those beliefs are true. I’m not shy and I thoroughly enjoy the company of my friends, I guess I just enjoy my own company a little bit more sometimes. Honestly, I can’t tell you why this is – why I enjoy spending time alone – and I wish I could because I ask myself why? every single day. I wish I knew why, or could at least explain why, I really do. Especially when I’m talking to two of my friends and one of them goes, “I’m not yet brave enough to be alone in London” to which the other replies, “Oh yeah, definitely not! I feel like I would get so lonely.” at which point I just sit in silence. This quality I possess, the quality of a natural tendency to alienate myself from others, makes me different. And because this makes me different, I’ve spent a lot of time wishing and trying to change it. But I’m learning that I can’t change, and probably shouldn’t change, because at the end of the day being alone is what makes me happy.

St Paul's

Picture of Saint Paul’s Cathedral taken on yesterday’s lonely excursion.

Samantha

London: I Love You

So it’s officially been one week since I moved to London. I don’t really know how else to explain how I feel about this city other than, I LOVE IT. Instead of boring with you how wonderful I think London is and how my classes are amazing and the beer here is exceptional, I would instead like to tell you a story. That story being, the moment I fell in love with the city of London:

London

It wasn’t love at first sight. It wasn’t until yesterday actually that I felt that sort of warm and fuzzy feeling, that feeling you get when all is right in the world – you know that feeling? Yeah, it’s great. So back to yesterday, I had just finished day two of orientation (*cue snoring* because orientation is b-o-r-i-n-g) and ventured out with my fellow flatmates (they call apartments “flats” here – so cool, I know!) to find the nearest Primark (basically London’s version of an even cheaper Forever 21). We got off the tube station (the subway is referred to as the “tube”) and started walking, walking in what turned out to be the wrong direction. But I’m getting ahead of myself – so we were walking, and walking some more when all of a sudden I felt it. I felt wholesome and happy and downright content with where I was and where I was going. Now mind you, it was raining this sort of slow on-and-off drizzle, the sun wasn’t shining by any means, and I was being pushed and shoved by the rush-hour pedestrian traffic. But despite all of those things, the things that often make me angry or annoyed, I could not have been happier. I think that’s what true love means anyway – when someone or something’s most irritable traits don’t even bother you anymore. Then, to add to it, we (my flatmates and I) discovered we had in fact been walking in the exact opposite direction of Primark the entire time. But let me tell you, and believe me when I say this, I could not care one bit! I had my love-goggles on and could not have been happier in my new home. I love you London, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.

IMG_0694

This picture was taken shortly after the moment I fell in love. 

Samantha

What It’s Like To Be An Outgoing Introvert

Allow me to paint you a picture really quick… I work in an office that’s pretty much just one really big room with a few desks, computers, couches, etc. There’s this sort of “intern table” if you will, where all the interns sit and work the entire work day. Despite the presence of this “intern table” I am still pretty much allowed to sit and work from where I wish to. For the first few weeks, I sat and worked beside my fellow interns at our unofficial “intern table.” Though now, I opt to sit and work from a table further away all by my lonesome, while all other interns sit together, yet separate from me. I really do have a love/hate relationship with being social. Those who meet me often title me an “extrovert” but I’d have to disagree. As outgoing as I can be at times, I prefer being alone – seeking comfort in my own company. For the longest time I too thought I was an extrovert, but the older I got the more I realized that I lacked most essential qualities needed to be an extrovert. I prefer working alone, I prefer going places alone, I prefer being alone BUT I am also very good at being social. I typically don’t have a problem talking to strangers or making new friends and enjoy doing all of these things, but when put in these situations for extended periods of time or way too often, I get socially exhausted and need to be alone for a while. When I finally realized who I am and what I should be identifying as, I viewed it as an obstacle I was supposed to overcome. Push through the exhaustion, just force yourself to go out and meet new people and have fun. But what I didn’t realize was that it was OK to take a step back, it was ok to alienate myself at times, and it was ok to be an outgoing introvert. IMG_3526 Now that I’ve come to terms with my situation (???) I’m a lot more content with myself and my life. So going forward I would like all my fellow outgoing introverts to know – yes, it is possible and it is OK. Samantha

“We Need Boyfriends”

I guess talking about your failed love life is embarrassing, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

I was in the car with my friend the other night when she turned to me and said, “we need boyfriends.” I laughed, but only to avoid crying, because it is so sad how true she was – I do need a boyfriend. Boyfriends are fun and they take you places and whisper cute things in your ear and pay for your food, who wouldn’t want that? But at this rate it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever have one of my own. There’s no easy way for me to explain this, other than to create a list of the reason why I don’t have a boyfriend (and will probably live the rest of my life alone):

1. I don’t have time. With two jobs, both of which are out of state, I barely even have time to talk to my mom, never mind respond to a boyfriend. The idea of having someone or anything for that matter that would require a certain amount of time or attention from me just seems exhausting at this point of my life. It simply can’t be done!

2. I don’t like to smile. Resting bitch face is a serious problem that I just so happen to suffer from. I’ve been told on a number of occasions that my facial expressions are simply unapproachable. Trust me, I’ve tried to change but forcing a half grin just felt too phony and it made me angry.

3. I can’t seem to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Like, for example, right now I live in Connecticut and spend most of my time in New York, but a few months ago I lived at school in Massachusetts, then in a month I’ll be studying abroad and living in London. So that leaves me with the big question of where would I even have this boyfriend? In what state or country would this perspective boyfriend live? And no matter what, at some point in time, our relationship would be “long distance” – which just seems unmanageable.

4. I’m too self-absorbed. This basically goes back to point #1 and that is, I have no time to worry about anyone other than myself. I am far too wrapped up in supporting myself and building my own future that I can’t imagine someone else being a part of it. Is that totally egoistic of me to say?? This is where you say – “Yes Sam, it is.”

IMG_3763

At this rate, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will probably be forever alone. I mean my cat can just keep me company – right? RIGHT?!

Samantha

Something I Feel Strongly About

Everyone shies away from the topic of prison, but I don’t. 

A few months back, in my second semester of my sophomore year of college, I wrote a sociology report titled “The Transition From Prison To Society.” My professor entered my paper into two writing competitions, both of which I won, so I guess (just kidding, I totally know) my paper is pretty good. Now I’m not here to share my college papers with you *yawn* but rather to share with you a topic I feel very strongly about – that topic being, recidivism. Recidivism is basically when an ex-prisoner finds themselves re-entering prison, and most often for reasons out of their own control. I’ll just leave it at that for now, it’s up to you whether you’d like to continue reading or not (which I really hope that you do):

All prisoners face the same issues upon exiting prison, these include transitioning from their life in prison to their life in society as well as finding a way to maintain their place in society with a criminal record. It is hard for anyone who has never needed to overcome such barriers to imagine the hardship that prisoners go through after incarceration. Sociologists, politicians, and corporations are a few groups working towards building a better system and providing more opportunities for prisoners and their reentry into society. Preparing prisoners for life after prison and enforcing laws that make the job search easier will reduce recidivism and create a smoother transition from incarceration to society.
Reentry into society, after having been incarcerated for an extended period of time is often a very big challenge for prisoners. Max Kenner, founder of the Bard Prison Initiative, has come up with a solution for an easier transition for prisoners reentering society (Lois 2014). Kenner believes that providing prisoners with higher education opportunities while incarcerated will better prepare them for life outside of prison. Max Kenner says of his Bard Prison Initiative, “If they do that, not only will they be more fulfilled as people, but they’ll be better prepared for release, be better neighbors, better citizens, better at any role they seek to fill later in life.” Given the opportunity for a higher education, prisoners will be less likely to face hardships upon exiting prison. Typically, reentry means that prisoners must struggle to rebuild their life while also facing marginalization by their peers due to their criminal record. Ex-prisoners will then struggle to overcome the stigma of having been incarcerated. Though if a prisoner can exit prison with a better form of education they will have a higher chance of being accepted back into society. Max Kenner further enforces this point by stating, “If they have access to an education like this one, the society at large is saying something more nuanced, more thoughtful and more caring to a person in prison than, ‘You are a threat and you will carry a stigma and ‘You will never be a fully recognized citizen in this democratic society again.’” A prisoner now has more career options upon exiting prison, thus building the foundation for an overall better life after incarceration.
Time spent while in prison has been taken care of through the Bard Prison Initiative, but another very big hardship must be overcome, and that is maintaining a valuable spot in society. The national rate of recidivism is a shocking 70 percent (Katel 2007). This is highly due to a lack of resources for prisoners exiting prison and looking to rebuild their life. Michael Jacobson, a former New York City jail employee states, “Look at the people who are coming out of prison – drug-addicted, mentally ill, no stable housing – of course they’re going to fail parole. The system is set up for failure. The institutional mind-set is, ‘We don’t have enough money to deal with your issues, but we have enough money to catch you.’ It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.” Jacobson makes a valid point about how we treat inmates while in prison and how that directly reflects on how they act when they exit prison. We are currently setting prisoners up for recidivism by not offering them the help they need for a healthy life outside of prison.
If and when a prisoner receives a job after incarceration his/her risk of recidivism is in-turn highly reduced. An estimated 65 million people in the United States have a criminal record (Katel 2012) and all 65 million will be sanctioned because of it. Employers must realize that many of these people will not return to their criminal behavior, though many of them are not given the chance to prove themselves as honest and hardworking employees. Co-director of the National Employment Law Project, Maurice Emsellem, is trying to change that, “All we’re saying is that there’s got to be some reasonable assessment of risk and not to make blanket assessments. You want policy to reward good behavior. If you have a blanket disqualification, you’re not promoting rehabilitation.” Those carrying a criminal record deserve and need a better chance at being considered and obtaining a job. Ohio Governor John Kasich is enforcing laws that give people with criminal records a better chance at getting employed. Governor Kasich has eliminated the need to reveal a criminal record on a job application in the state of Ohio (Katel 2012). His efforts have proven successful; the state prison population has reduced by 6,000 inmates as a result of Governor Kasich’s law enforcement. The initiative has been taken in the state of Ohio, now it is in the hands of all other states to do the same. As a country and a society it is our duty to eliminate the stigmas we place on those with criminal records and make for an easier transition from prison to society.
Prisoners are incarcerated for the crimes that they commit, and their time spent in prison is their consequence for their wrongdoing. Therefore, all members of society need to stop sanctioning these men and women upon their reentry into society since they have already received their punishment. A more helpful and successful transition from prison to society is essential to reducing recidivism. Reducing recidivism is accomplished through providing prisoners with a higher form of education and job opportunities, overall resulting in a smoother transition from prison to society.

FullSizeRender-3

If you read that entire report, I applaud you – but even if you didn’t I hope you got enough out of it to forever change your perspective on prison and criminal records.

Samantha

I Got A Tinder

…and it’s made me lose all faith in humanity.

There’s no better way to explain this than to provide you with the painful details of every single one of my tinder experiences, each experience as unique as the one before it:

1. The Dog (literally): His name is Cubby and he owes a bunch of money to the IRS and asked me to make a donation. I wasn’t as surprised by this as I probably should’ve been – I mean I went into Tinder hoping to see some weird sh*t, and weird sh*t is exactly what I got!

2. That Guy From High School: I was feelin’ ballsy so I swiped right on that guy who was a senior when I was a freshman in high school and was/still is SO HOT. That-Guy-From-High-School turned out to be the MOST BORING conversationalist of all time. Like grandpa status b-o-r-i-n-g. All he was interested in talking about was some TV series he was watching. I don’t even remember what the stupid series was called because that’s how uninterested I was. Ugh, a disappointment for sure but at least I’ll never have to ask myself again “what if?”.

3. The Catfish: When all your pics are model shots, chances are you’re not who you say you are. Trust me, I’ve watched enough episodes of Catfish: The TV Show to know an internet phony when I see one.

4. The Prostitute: There’s always gonna be that buy looking to exchange money for sexual favors. In this case, he wanted me to pay him – if you get what I mean…

5. The Too Good To Be True: He’s attractive, a recent ivy league graduate, and comes from a loaded ($$$$) family. When the Too-Good-To-Be-True struck up a convo with me I made the wise decision to ignore him …and I’ve second-guessed my decision everyday since. Maybe it’s not too late? Maybe it is. I don’t know?

IMG_3643

I can confidently say that my time wasted spent on Tinder is officially over. I came, I saw, I conquered – Tinder. 

Samantha

It Ain’t All Rooftops and Happy Times

Everything on the internet is often sugar-coated so this is my desperate attempt to keep it real.

It may be hard to believe that someone who’s life appears so perfect on social media can actually suck so bad. Ok, my life doesn’t suck, but in my mind – the way my brain works – it almost always feels like it does. Allow me to explain (in third person, if you will):

Sam wakes up every morning sad. Sam is thinking about the millions of tasks she needs to get done that day. Sam tries her hardest to be optimistic about getting everything done. Sam wishes her life were easier. THEN Sam must remind herself that her life is actually pretty fucking fantastic. Sam has achieved almost EVERY goal she’s wished to achieve thus far in life. But then again, Sam wants to achieve MORE and struggles to reflect and smile about the great accomplishments she’s made thus far. 

Sometime my little morning pep-talks work and sometimes they do not. Lately, they’ve proven mostly unsuccessful.

And that’s all for my short story on what real life’s been like lately.

IMG_3146

Me on a roof again.

Samantha

“The Schedule One”

When a drunk man calls you the “schedule one” it’s not want you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear. 
I was working/attending this event in the city on Monday night and on my way out ran into a few intoxicated older men. We all happened to be waiting for the elevator (event was in a penthouse by the way, and yes I’m totally bragging) so I stood there and giggled at their drunkenness. But when it was time for me to get in my cab back to Grand Central, where I’d take the train home, they were quick to invite me “out” with them. “We’ll bring you to Soho House” one exclaimed as I slowly turned my back and started walking away, “I have to catch a train and I have work tomorrow!” I yelled back. Just then, the other (more attractive) intoxicated (older) man said, “oh I get it, you’re the schedule one.” What the f-ck does that mean? Why not just call me the “uptight one” a–hole?? But as I slipped away, waiving goodbye to my perspective sugar daddies, I realized that YES, I AM the schedule one. I freaking loooove me a good schedule!
It wasn’t always this way, ya know? There was this time in high school where I could give two you-know-whats about a schedule. But times have changed, and so have I. I often feel like I can’t function, like life can’t go on, unless I have a written-down schedule. I mean I’m being dramatic, I can totally function without a schedule. Some call it obsessive – and though I can’t totally disagree with that statement – I just don’t see the harm in a very scheduled life. Schedules keep me calm and make me happy and it’s about time I come to terms with that!
IMG_2829 2
Picture from the night I had this “revelation,” if you will.
Samantha

The F*cked Up Things About Social Media

In our society social status is everything, and your social status is determined by how many instagram followers you have. 

I overheard a conversation the other day that went something like this:

“wait, who is she?”

“I don’t know but I guess she’s pretty important.”

“but she doesn’t even have that many instagram followers…”

So this made me think – how f-ed up is social media, really?

In my mind I’ve always used social media as a way to share my life and as a way to seek insight into the lives of others. I guess we’re all a little nosey and things like instagram and Facebook allow us to know what’s going on in our ex’s life without it being totally weird. Ok, maybe scrolling down to 132 weeks ago on that guy-you-met-at-that-party-one-time’s instagram is weird, but no one will ever know so it’s kinda ok. But that right there is perhaps one of our biggest problems – social media users can 100% hide behind their computer screens in everything they do. Here’s a scenario for you: girl posts a picture of a cupcake on instagram but girl also has an eating disorder. You as the viewer only see what’s presented to you which is often times incredibly shallow, therefore you (and I) fail to understand what the person on the other side of that post is really like and/or going through.

About a year ago my sister deleted all of her social media accounts. Her reason being, “why would I want to see how great everyone else’s life is everyday?” I didn’t totally understand what she meant at first because in my head, why wouldn’t you want to see how great everyone’s life is everyday?? But what she meant was, social media allows people to filter what they wish to share. No, I’m not talking about those photo editing options you have on instagram, but rather the content in which people choose to share. Everyone has their good days and their bad days, but quite often people will only share the good days. And on the rare occasion that a bad day is shared it is done in a way to receive sympathy, with a sort of “feel bad for me” innuendo attached to it.

Now I’d be lying if I said that I don’t care about how many likes I get on an instagram picture or that I don’t only ever share the positive aspects of my life. I never really saw the problem in this, especially when I was 16 and believed that my social life was eeeeeverything – but now I do. I honestly believe that we are setting future generations up for serious mental health and body image issues through our very own use of social media. Yes, that picture of you on some incredible beach vacation will be seen by someone in a less-perfect place who will immediately compare and as-a-result hate their life because it’s not like yours. I hate to sound like I’m blaming all social media users for others distress because I am just as guilty here as everyone else. I guess my only hope in writing this super long post is to raise awareness over the fact that social media sometimes does more harm than good. Just knowing this, I am way more conscious about the things I post and the things I say because at the end of the day my goal is never to make someone feel worthless, and I so desperately hope that your’s isn’t either. Let us also not fail to realize that behind that perfectly posed for selfie is a real person just like you who has real problems just like you.

Just something to think about…

FullSizeRender copy

Samantha

Coffee Stains

Today was my very first day at my brand new internship. I took my less-than comfortable seat on the train and basked in pure excitement and anticipation as my summer officially began. But wait, I am ahead of myself, the first detail of this story is how I left my coffee (that my father so lovingly brewed for me) in the car. So my coffee is in the car and I am at the train station – I panic briefly but quickly enter problem-solving mode and buy a less-than mediocre cup of coffee from the train station. Then I get on the (extremely crowded) train. I get comfortable, pop my headphones in, and sit while the train bobs me side-to-side slowly sipping my coffee. About 30 minutes in I realize my coffee cup has a leak, that’s ok, I remind myself, I’ll just be veryyyyy careful while I drink it. Though I should’ve known that nothing I – Samantha Renee Guarnieri – do is careful and/or graceful. SUDDENLY I feel a warm drip on my chest, only to look down and realize I’ve spilt coffee on my freshly washed WHITE t-shirt. Let me remind you, it isn’t even nine o’clock yet and I am on my way to my first day at my new internship and I now have an awful coffee stain on my clean white t-shirt. I am bummed, SO bummed!

So I sat and sulked for a little bit before deciding that this minor catastrophe was an opportunity to learn a very important life lesson. The life lesson I learned today was that one can truly never be too prepared. Here I was, early in the morning, en route to my first day with a packed lunch, meticulously selected outfit, and even an extra pair of shoes in my bag just in case. In my mind nothing could’ve gone wrong because I was prepared – though to my dismay, not too prepared. Basically, shit happens and there really is nothing I, or you can do about it. We have to accept the coffee stains and move on with our lives.

IMG_1923 2

A very awkward picture of my coffee stained white t-shirt.

Samantha