downloadTitle: Mammoth

Author: Jill Baguchinsky

Genre: YA Fiction

Publisher: Turner Publishing (November 6,2018)

Pre-Order: Amazon Barnes&Noble Indiebound

A few thoughts:

When I read a novel, this thing often happens where the female protagonist will do or say something that completely turns me off to her story. That NEVER happens here with Natalie, which is only one of the reasons this is such a fantastic read.

The book is 340 pages full of humorous, light-hearted, wholesome teenage fun! One of the reasons I loved her character so much is because the author doesn’t try to stick her in a box. Natalie isn’t just the plus size girl or the paleontology nerd. Natalie is just your average, paleontology loving, fashionista blogger. Characters like this show the next generation that it’s more than acceptable to be interested in different things and labels don’t matter.

Something that I was really intrigued by, during my reading, was the blog posts that Natalie shares. I think it’s interesting how the illustration never gives her a full face. We see an outline of one, but her cell phone selfie always blocks it. I don’t know if this was the author’s intention but it definitely gives me a better sense that Natalie could be anyone. You know? The reader always tries to fit herself into the shoes of the character, and I think that her anonymity really gives the reader that chance.

Another reason I love Natalie is that she was bad at talking to her crush, Chase, but she never changed who she was to impress him. She makes the whole interaction with the opposite sex seem more true-to-life than most television shows do and I think that that’s something important to show teens. We don’t always know what to say and it’s okay to be awkward, as long as you always show your true self.

I don’t want to share too much detail because I am afraid of giving any little thing away. This book is so great, and I read it during a low period in my life. Natalie’s journey during her internship is an experience that other teens, and other women in male-dominated fields, will encounter.

 Read below for the description of Mammoth as told by the back of the book:

The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin, Texas. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style and persona she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and designer heels aren’t compatible with digging for fossils.

But nothing is going to dampen her spirit. She’s exactly where she wants to be and gets to work with her hero, the host of the most popular paleontology podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase, the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s paleontologist hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, she has to un-earth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by men. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying the rules and risking her life for the sake of a major discovery. While sifting through dirt, she finds more than fossils – she finds out that she is truly awesome.

None for me, thanks

A woman in my office today was making chit-chat during lunch. “What do you do here, how old are you, are you married, do you want to be, do you want kids?” She damn-near fell off the chair when I decidedly told her, “No, I don’t want children. I don’t like them.”

“Well, why not?” she asked, as if my gender means I am predisposed to the motherhood gene. I gathered my thoughts for a moment and told her “I’m just not sure that a future filled with diapers, late nights, PTA meetings, scraped knees, children’s homework, and play dates really appeal to me.” She promptly turned back to her iced tea and salad.

Does being a woman automatically make me a mother? I’m already a mother to a 2-year-old Maine Coon cat. Isn’t that enough? Later on, I started thinking about what might happen if my boyfriend and I do get our act together and settle down. I don’t know that I have the wife gene either. What if settling isn’t actually what I want? What if that’s just the lie I have been telling myself because it’s expected of me?

Even if the ring is never on the table, how do you know when you’re ready to trade in girlfriend for wife and mother?


Fitness Adventures: Week 1

This week I decided to re-launch my fitness initiatives. I am really making an effort to get healthier and find the less chubby girl inside of me. I’m not on a mission to become stick-thin. However, I would at least like to be able to buy smaller jeans by Christmas. My pants size has slowly increased over the last 5 years. I’ve been a size 20 since the end of high school, although I did not fully embrace and purchase the size until college, I have been a size 20 for a long time.

I came up with a game plan, and I’m going to take my time completely surrendering to this process – this life change. I’ve discovered that my heart rate spikes WAY too quickly too early on in a workout, and while I acknowledge that I should see a doctor, I really don’t like them so I will go when I am ready. For now, I have devised a plan to try and manage on my own. I wear my Fitbit religiously, and I am always monitoring the readings when I am walking, sitting around the house when I am about to fall asleep – steadily! Even if it isn’t the most accurate reading, at least I am paying attention. So, what did I do for my first week?


Current Weight – 275        Goal Weight – 165

Current Cardio Fitness Score – 21-25 (Poor)     Goal Score – 31.2-35.9 (Fair)

Week 1:

Get to the gym at least 3 days a week and do (minimum) 10 minutes of cardio.

I have had a Black Card Planet Fitness membership for two years, and it’s the best $20 that I could ever spend. I love to go to different locations for my workout, and I can bring a guest – which typically means either my sister or my grandfather.

So far, I have been to 8 different Planet Fitness locations, between 2 states. During my time living in Connecticut, I was a member of the Amity location. It’s really spacious, clean, and the lockers are super modern and can fit much larger bags. While it did take some effort to get there, it was always worth the trip. I highly recommend this location to New Haven residents.

Inside New York City, I have taken quite the tour: Tribeca, 14th street, Chelsea, Canal Street, and Columbus Circle. Out of all of these, I would have to say that the one in Chelsea (27th street) is my favorite so far. It’s off-the-beaten-path it seems so it doesn’t have too much traffic when I am leaving work. The 35th street location is overcrowded and dangerous sometimes. How can I safely use the elliptical with muscle-bound men using the free weights right behind me or next to me? I can’t…so, I won’t. The Tribeca and Canal Street locations are excellent, but they are far from my current office. I only went to the 14th street location once, and I honestly can’t say I remember my experience so clearly nothing went horribly wrong. Same for Columbus Circle, although, I do remember that that location was impossible to get to from where the subway stops.

I am kind of addicted to making my body sweat as much as possible when I am working out because releasing those toxins really helps with my anxiety and depression, but they are bad for my heart it appears. Since discovering that my heart rate jumps so quickly, I have been conscientious about just how hard I push myself at the gym, and all I want to do is go faster. It turns out that the best way to improve my cardio fitness is by doing more cardio.  Oh, the irony!

My compromise, with myself, has been that I can keep using the Elliptical Machines (my second favorite type of cardio), BUT I have to actually use the settings and listen to the machine when it says I need to slow down. I also practice deep breathing while I am on there because I have learned that I am afraid to breathe? One night at the gym I noticed that I hesitate to let anyone see that I am breathing hard while working out. It’s bizarre, but that’s just where we are. Haha!

Re-fill the water bottle at least 3 times.

I have one of those fancy re-fillable water bottles (BPA free) from my undergrad years, and I love carrying it around with me. It’s a little more than 28 fluid ounces, and it’s absolutely perfect for me! I read on this chart somewhere once that based on my weight (275 lbs), I should be drinking 142 fluid ounces of water a day, but that just seems inaccurate. I think drinking the 84 fluid ounces a day will be just fine. Is that too much as well? What’s the right amount? Can anyone tell me?

Log everything that I eat into MyFitnessPal.

I absolutely swear by the app, MyFitnessPal. It keeps me honest, and I can even connect it to my Fitbit’s app, so everything is all synced up together. It’s so great, and I definitely recommend it to all who are looking for a great meal/workout tracking system. I say it keeps me honest because it feels like I am writing it into my diary. No one knows what I ate, except for me. The only judge I answer to is myself, and I can effectively see the breakdown of what I have eaten and how it affects my exercise.

Week 2 Previews

  • Planet Fitness (normal gym) cardio on Monday
  • Kickboxing – TBD, since I confused the date of my first lesson and now need to call to reschedule.
  • Drinking water always

In my eyes, week 1 was a major success! It takes about 21 days to fully embrace a new habit, but I think I did very well so far. I went to the gym on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I drank 64 fluid ounces of water on Wednesday, and I have learned to embrace yogurt and granola (all healthy and natural, with some help from my momma!)

I’ll see you all next time! Feel free to leave comments, questions, and all helpful bits of fitness advice for a novice!

Who can relate?

This past week has been especially tricky. It started off with the job interview of a lifetime and devolved into panic attacks and a major depressive episode.

Some of you may or may not know from past posts that I suffer from depression and social anxiety. Well, this week, I started to research some of my symptoms from the prior month, and all of my information points me towards Bipolar Disorder. I am obviously going to speak to my actual therapist, but everything sounds exactly like what I have been experiencing lately. I started noticing around Christmastime that something was different, but I think I was afraid to bring it up because I didn’t want to try new medications or be sent for tests that might be pointless.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Bipolar Disorder is a “manic-depressive illness which causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.”

Here are some of the listed symptoms and signs of each episode:

Bipolar Disorder

I know exactly what my depressive episodes feel like and that’s how I knew when the mania hit me. So, pile this on top of the anxiety that I already had and the week became incredibly stressful. I’m also waiting to hear back about this job I really want, which adds more stress and the world squeeze a little tighter.

I’m not someone who avoids talking about mental health because it makes people uncomfortable. It’s essential that we make it as commonplace as necessary because you never know who might be helped by an open forum such as this. If my journey, my demons, can help someone else in pain, then I will share anything you want me to – just not my therapist, haha!

I think Demi Lovato says it best – she is on a journey to experience a world free of all demons.

That’s a day I’ll look forward to experiencing for myself.



If you are in crisis and need someone to turn to immediately, please see below:

For Immediate Help

If You Are in Crisis: Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is open to anyone. All calls are confidential.

If you are thinking about harming yourself or thinking about suicide:

  • Tell someone who can help right away
  • Call your licensed mental health professional if you are already working with one
  • Call your doctor
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency department

If a loved one is considering suicide:

  • Do not leave him or her alone
  • Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911
  • Remove access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications

Texts Unread

I don’t like playing games – no one should.

I especially don’t like or appreciate when guys play games because that’s not how I date. Playing games tells me that you’re not looking for something real, even if you tell me you are, and it tells me that you don’t have the decency to tell me this.

Right now, I am dating the biggest game player in the country, and I have half a mind to text him and tell him that after 3 years of the same bullshit, I am done. If only it could be that simple for me, but my brain would never let that go. Unfortunately, I have done everything from breaking up with him to deleting his number to flat out blocking him in my phone. Sadly, I have memorized his number, blocking him isn’t permanent enough, and breaking up was easily reversed by texting him again.

His routine is texting me for a couple of days, then he won’t for about a week. Then, there will be weeks where he texts me once a day every day and I can’t have a conversation that way, obviously. Sometimes he just won’t text me for two weeks and say that it’s because he’s been working. What sucks is that I know exactly how many smoke breaks he takes and that he is ALWAYS on his cell phone, but he just can’t take five seconds to text his girlfriend.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of waiting, tired of telling him what I need so this relationship works, tired of feeling alone because my boyfriend can’t be bothered being present in my life. I don’t have many friends, only a select few, and right now he’s not one of them. Right now, he is very much on the outside of my life and I hate feeling like this because it’s not how it should be. He is supposed to be the exclusive insider in my life, and at one point he was, but it didn’t take him long to stop caring.

Maybe it’s over with us, and maybe it’s not. All I know is that I need someone that’s actually going to be there, will text me or call me at night and lets me know how important I am to his life as well.

Love is a two-way street paved with double yellow lines.

One Year Later

It came to my attention that New Haven wasn’t making me very happy. So, what did I do? I gathered my family and my cat, packed up our belongings, and we left. Cooper and I are back in New York with my parents, and so far the change has been good for me, and for him, I think. It was so amazing having my own apartment, but I could tell that I was sinking down into the depths of my depression and anxiety which was only going to worsen the longer I stayed in that situation.

Deciding to leave was not easy – it came down to the wire. The week of my move I was contemplating calling the whole thing off and staying because, I mean, this is my beloved New Haven I’m talking about. How could I choose to leave?

During that last week, I started to panic thinking that I was making the wrong choice. What if I was supposed to stay and now I was messing up some master plan? I made it to Connecticut after all and I fought to get here, and I struggled to stay. How could I give it up so quickly? The answer is that I didn’t. Sometimes, I would cry just sitting downtown inside Blue State Coffee because I was going to miss coming in for my 5 o’clock hot chocolate. I would never again run for the bus after almost missing the shuttle connection at Union Station. I would miss the LL Bean grand opening on Elm and mentally dressing my boyfriend in the windows of Gant. Speaking of my boyfriend, what about him? The last time we did this dance with him in Hartford and me in New York, it didn’t work. Are we stronger now? Stay tuned, and we will all find out. I think a small part of me knows that I made it too easy when I moved closer to him. He needs to start showing up in New York. Three years later, and I am still playing the same games?

Back in June, I had quit my job. I was miserable; I had panic attacks daily. I had to go. Now, I am working, as an intern, on this database project in Manhattan, and although it is not the most glamorous gig, it is nice to do something simple and monotonous. It’s nice knowing exactly how my day is going to go, at least while I figure out where I hope to land next.

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I moved home and I still have so much unpacking to accomplish. There is one box left with my clothes and then many many boxes of books, knick-knacks, and paddywhacks that need to be sorted and either sent to storage or placed somewhere in my bedroom. Between my stuff and Cooper’s stuff, we have limited space. My goal for tonight is to set up the desk so I can really focus on writing my novel, or, at least have a proper space in which to do so. I can smell success coming right around the corner! I want to have at least a rough draft to start submitting by December. No more messing around. If I want to write, then I have to actually write!


You lost your job. Now what?

At 24 years old, you don’t expect to lose your job, before you can leave it. No one ever wants to lose their source of income, but it happens. You could have been laid off because of a shortage of work, poor performance in the workplace, or maybe you somehow managed to be terminated for violating a workplace rule. It doesn’t matter how it happened – no one enjoys losing their job!

Rule #1: Before you leave that termination/lay off meeting, find out exactly how the items inside your desk are getting to you if they have already told you that you cannot touch them. Feel free to give the Department of Labor a call and ask some general questions if you’re not sure about something.

Monday will be seven days since finding myself unemployed. Up until this point, I never took heed to the “have six months of back up money in the bank”. My budget has been so tight since moving to New Haven that I have almost no money in my account and I feel so incredibly foolish. As soon as you lose your job, there are a few things you need to take care of:

  1. Look up the unemployment rules for the state you live/work in. I worked in New York, but I live in Connecticut. The current rule is to file where you were employed. You will need to make sure to have all of your personal information and your W2 so you can apply for unemployment payments. The first week of unemployment is always an unpaid waiting week so be sure that all of your finances for the week are settled and that you have enough to cover any bills due.
  2. Take a day to organize your update and polish your resume(s), make lists of your career interests, research companies you may want to apply to, and update your LinkedIn information. I would also recommend talking to your contacts and rounding up your references, just in case an application requires them.
  3. Don’t waste time before applying to positions. I usually apply in batches based on location and job type. I am currently looking for roles all over Connecticut and in Manhattan.

I actually feel like the biggest question has been, “What Do YOU Want to Do?” I really am not sure which career path I want to follow next. I am going to school for publishing, but I also have interest in events planning, interior design, fashion, public relations, and the list could go on for days. Right now, I am making lists and organizing the files of my computer and researching each possible path for my new life.

Rule #2: Build a new routine.

Create a new daily schedule that you will stick to because this will really help you remain focused and determined. They say that it takes 21 days to really adopt a new habit, but day 1 is the hardest day if it never comes. I made sure to start this week off right. I woke up at 8AM and whipped out my Yoga mat.

My new routine is going to be hitting the gym every weekday morning. I have wanted to be one of those morning gym people forever and so I am finally going to be one of them! On the weekends, my mornings start with Yoga, right here in my apartment. On the weekdays, after the gym, I will apply for jobs until about noon and then work on my novel for a bit.

Rule #3: Lean on a few shoulders

Use this time to really lean on your family, your friends, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your fling, whoever you have in your life that makes you smile or makes you feel good and can help support you – lean on that person or group of people. This has probably been a major setback in your life plan and it’s really important to know that you have a network of people standing tall behind you. No one likes falling down and getting dirty, but someone will help you stand back up and will wipe the dirt off your back so you can keep moving.