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Listening: ‘Ctrl’ by SZA.

Photo from Rolling Stone magazine.

Morning! I am still very much dealing with stress and grief, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve entered whatever stage messes with my sleep. I’ve been having nightmares nearly every night, and even on the weekends, I can’t seem to get on a sleep schedule that leaves me feeling rested.

But still, I am working to comfort myself by looking to things that have comforted me in the past. One thing that has always helped me is music, so I have been scouring the shelves of my local library’s CD collection and checking out whatever looks good.

A few months ago, I bought a few songs on iTunes from SZA, and decided to get her entire album, “Ctrl” at the library so I could feel it out before buying.

“Ctrl” is SZA’s debut album and it was released in the summer of 2017. It’s mostly R&B, but definitely has hints of soul. I would venture to say she’s got a bit of an Amy Winehouse sound (that is so difficult for me to admit, if you have ANY idea how much I love Ms. Winehouse), and she’s not afraid to come out and say whatever is on her mind.

After releasing many singles from the album, including “Broken Clocks”, “The Weekend”, and “Drew Barrymore”, “Ctrl” went Platinum as of March 2018 – hitting more than 1 million sales.

Last year, SZA was nominated for 5 Grammy awards, but walked away empty-handed. According to an interview she did with GQ magazine (read it here), SZA was “mad as hell” she lost, especially the Best New Artist award, which was (wrongfully) given to Alessia Cara.

But of course, she didn’t create the album to succeed at the Grammy’s, and this is precisely why Grammy Awards don’t matter – everyone loves mediocrity… don’t even get me started.

Even after listening to the album, “Broken Clocks” remains to be one of my favorite tracks, but I also love “Normal Girl”. “The Weekend” is one I’d love to dance to in my stiletto class, and I do like the very first song, “Supermodel”.

I ain’t had a smoke break
In about two days don’t break
Been about three years since I dated you
Why you still talking ’bout me like we together?
I moved on for the better
You moved on to whoever

-SZA, Broken Clocks

SZA has a very unique voice and style, and I’m excited to see what else we hear from her (there is a rumor that she will be collaborating with Missy Elliott).

On another note, I do want to throw something out into the universe that I have been grappling with for some time now, and that’s telling people “no.” I don’t mean telling people “no” in the sense of making plans that I’m too busy to have or taking on too much work, I mean telling people no because I am really just not interested in a relationship with that person.

For whatever reason, I keep getting confronted (often in front of other people) by the same person about spending time together and I feel like I have tried everything – explaining how I felt offended by things that happened between us, blocking phone numbers, posting things on Instagram about rude things they’ve said to me, ignoring them to their face, skirting invitations to hangout… I am at a loss here.

I don’t want to be mean, but I am also not trying to force friendships. I truly feel like I have nothing in common with this person, and I do not want to go to lunch, or discuss books, or even talk. I am just not interested.

Why am I struggling with this? Because I feel like everyone else loves this person and, well, I do not. I’m not going to get into reasons why, but I just cannot shake the anxiety that comes from this situation. Has anyone else dealt with something like this?

Either way, I’ll figure it out.

I’ve got another book to review this week and I think you guys are going to love it – see you then!

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My grownup Christmas list.

Naturally pretty.

Naturally pretty.

This isn’t about the Christmas song entitled “Grownup Christmas List”, where the singer (it’s been covered by many different ones over the years) wishes for world peace, healed hearts, togetherness, love, and friendship. Of course, I want ALL of those things + some.

But, today I’m talking about my material Christmas list – what I sent to Santa. I didn’t think much about what was on the list until one of my friends told me she laughed at what she told her parents to get her – “grownup things”. Hmmm, I looked over my list. It sure looks different from the lists I wrote as a kid, but I’m okay with it, and I’d venture to say I’m just as excited about these items as I was then. So, here’s what I asked for this year:

Lighted Mirror – For daily use, I’m good with my standard bathroom mirror. However, when I need to pluck my eyebrows or stare at my pores, I need more lighting! I also want something I can use pre-performance; I’ve learned by now that the lighting backstage is subpar. Here’s a portable light up mirror from Conair.

“Cravings” by Chrissi Teigen – If you’ve been following Ms. Teigen on Instagram over the years, you KNOW she is always whipping up something so delicious, it makes you wonder just how she keeps that model body. Amirite? According to the book’s description, her first cookbook has got recipes from fried chicken and Thai classics to breakfast and salads. Grab your copy here!

Birchbox Subscription – I’ve had a subscription to Birchbox for a few years now, and I can’t imagine my life without it! Each month, I get a small box that contains at least five luxury samples, based on my custom profile. This way, I can try beauty and lifestyle products before I decide to buy them. Over the years my Birchbox has sent me candles, perfume, hair care products, makeup, and nail polish, among other items. It’s a fun thing to get in the mail each month! Subscribe, or gift a subscription to your favorite guy or gal, here!

Glass Food Containers – I don’t know about you, but I’m freaking SICK of plastic tupperware containers. I pack my lunch five days a week, and I don’t think my little containers ever get as clean as they could be, and who knows what sort of chemicals go into my food when I pop the plastic sucker into the microwave. I’m ready to upgrade to glass, even if it means a heavier lunchbox. Here’s a set of various glass containers and lids from Glasslock.

“Hatching Twitter” by Nick Bilton – I’m teaching a course on Twitter Tips in March and I’m trying to learn as much as possible about the platform before then. I stumbled across this book by listening to a podcast, and cannot wait to read it! Supposedly, there was a lot of greed and betrayal in creating Twitter, and this is the first book to spill the beans. Get your copy here.

Donut Baking Pan – I always see the cutest donuts when I’m scrolling through Instagram, and while most of them are from bakeries, why not make them at home (and make them a tad healthier)? With my very own donut pan, I can turn all sorts of flavors into delicious donuts! Here’s a pan that fits one dozen of the yummy suckers.

Various Facial Masks – If you follow me on SnapChat (@OrangeJulius7), you know I love to test any kind of face mask – sometimes multiple in a single night! I really like to live on the edge 😉 I am always looking to expand my collection of face masks to keep my skin looking fresh. Here’s a pack of 11 sheet masks I found for just $10!

Over-Ear Headphones – You probably know that I’m OBSESSED with podcasts (and recently downloaded the Sirius XM app), and I listen to them all day long at work. Well, earbuds are starting to really hurt my ears, so I need a solid pair of earphones that block outside noise. Check out these cool white ones.

Various Makeup Sponges – I know the Beauty Blender is ALL the rave, but I like to try different things when it comes to makeup. And life. For awhile I was going with the brush sets to apply makeup and now I want to see if there’s a good sponge that will work better. Here’s a pack of various-shaped sponges, for just $5!

Rechargeable/Battery-operated Vacuum – I’ve lived in an apartment for 9 years, and one of the biggest downfalls is not being able to plug in your regular vacuum and use the attachments to clean out your car. Amirite? Because it’s like $10 to use the vacuums at the car wash. So, I need a portable vacuum. Here’s one that plugs into the cigarette lighter – smart!

…And there you have it, my Christmas list! I’d love to know what you all are wishing for this year, too!