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Life

In Life on
June 19, 2017

mind your gap

Anybody in a creative-leaning field has seen it:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. (Ira Glass)

Have you looked at your gap?

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In Life, Link Roundups on
May 29, 2017

easy like (23)

(I feel like your birthday should hold all of your favorite things, and this is mine: sunrise on a rooftop in Rome. That’s the Vatican in the distance.) I wrote a whole other post for this day, but upon re-reading it, it just didn’t fit. #Typical.

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In Life on
August 15, 2016

Two Months Later

Georgetown Canal

Georgetown Canal

The weirdest thing about having an apartment all to yourself is the silence. The gentle pad of bare feet on wooden parquet floors. The constant hum of the too-powerful air conditioning, and the stifling humidity outside when you manage to get the window open.

I’m a slow adjuster to life in new places. And I have a lot of needs that I haven’t fulfilled yet. I need a coffee shop. I need a local bar to call my own. I need a hair salon, and a corner store. I need a church. I need a Thai place, or even better, an Indian place. I need open spaces. There are things like this that I haven’t figured out yet.

And that’s normal. I’m still exhausted after work every day. I’m usually too tired to do anything on the weekends except bake and read and call friends, and maybe if I’m ambitious, I’ll run when it’s not too muggy. But I still find myself slogging slowly around the Lincoln Memorial, dodging tourists, losing my pace again, and realizing that moving to another place doesn’t just mean moving all of your stuff.

It means moving your heart, too. And a little piece of mine is stuck in Missouri. Along with the little piece stuck in the lake-riddled north-easternmost county of Illinois. And the piece lodged in the sugar sand of Santa Rosa Beach on the Gulf.

So maybe this is how we do it. We take little pieces of our hearts and hide them all over.

I guess the trick is never asking for them back.

 

In Life on
June 1, 2016

The Last Two Years

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After the end of my sophomore year of college, I wrote a blog post in the form of a letter to all new college freshmen describing what I’d learned in my first two years of college. Here’s what I’ve got from the last two, for all the rising college juniors out there:

  • If you only paint the toes that stick out of the sandals, no one will ever know!
  • The only person beating yourself up for pressing snooze instead of working out is you. Sleep is a form of self-care, too.
  • If you think you might need to see a therapist, see a therapist. It feels better when it has a name.
  • It’s okay to cry after you get home from the party. Just remember that everything feels worse at 2 a.m. Get some sleep.
  • Ask them out, but for the love of God, don’t do it over Facebook. If you’re not ready to do it in person, you’re probably not ready, period.
  • You are allowed to take as much time as you need to heal. Do not rush your healing. If you do, you could find yourself in the middle of a house party you never wanted to go to, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, wondering why the hell you decided to put a dress on in the first place.
  • Embrace the mistakes you’ve made. Learn from them. Part of growing up is being able to look your mistakes squarely in the eyes.
  • Dance. Or sway. Bob your head. It doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to look good doing it. You don’t even really have to dance at all. But in the moments I felt the most beautiful, I was dancing. 
  • Sometimes painful thoughts will come back. So if your mind is a living room, let the painful thoughts sit on the couch. Don’t let them change the channel on the TV or let them say mean stuff to you; just let them sit. They’ll get bored and leave eventually. One day, those thoughts won’t come back. And it’s your job to close the door on their way out.
  • If you feel good in it, wear it.
  • If someone tells you’ve they’ve suffered at the hands of another because of who they are, who they love, where they come from, or what they look like, pay attention. There is injustice in this world, even if you’re just learning about it now. Pay attention. Do all you can, but most of all, be a good listener. Pay. Attention.
  • If the teacher doesn’t like your writing, they don’t like your writing. You’re not going to convince them otherwise. But that doesn’t mean you should stop writing.
  • Push yourself. Stay out later. Work harder. Sometimes the best stories come from recognizing how much you can toe the line–without crossing it.
  • Always take criticism with a grain of salt. Step back, and reevaluate. Sometimes they’re right, and you should change what you’re doing. Sometimes they’re wrong.
  • Tell the people you love that you love them.
  • You don’t need anyone to fix you. You do, however, need to take the time to examine your cracks. And if you need fixing, in a beautiful, difficult way, you’re the one responsible for it.
  • “Sometimes you have to say no to your friends and yes to the work.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Try to drink it without a chaser. This goes for life, too.
  • WEAR SUNSCREEN.
  • Walk away from people who make you feel less than. You don’t need an excuse.
  • You don’t have to like them back. Your heart is not a consolation prize.
  • But give the unexpected a chance. You might end up working at a Disaster and Community Crisis Center for a year and a half, loving every single second of it. You might become the “weird girl who always knows what FEMA is up to.” And that’s cool. That can be your calling card. And you won’t mind a bit.
  • You are more than a stereotype. People are complicated and have many facets; know it for yourself, and know it for others.
  • Passionate people are the best teachers. Seek them out. Explore something they love (in my case: swing dancing, 19th century European Art History, watercolors, Italian, baking).
  • Be thankful for the journey. 

In these last two years, you will work harder than you’ve ever worked. You will stay up to see the sunrise and take long midday naps and hope that the damage you’re doing to your sleep cycle fades with time. But there are bars to visit full of the gorgeous faces of people you love, and beers to share, and stories to swap. There is ambitious, creative work to be accomplished, work that makes your heart beat faster and your palms sweat. There are hearts to break and hearts to mend. There are stories to be told. There are tears and hysterical laughter on the streets of a small city in Missouri you never expected to miss.

But I’m going to.

Remember:

Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed. (Misty Copeland)

Good luck.

In Life on
June 6, 2015

readers are leaders, man.

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading since coming home from Missouri and subsequently beginning my internship in Washington DC. Here’s where I’ve been burying my nose while sitting outside in the (prairie) grass:

Articles:

“The Last Stand in Africa’s Most Dangerous Park,” by Damon Tabor for Men’s Journal. (You should pair this with the documentary Virunga on Netflix.)

“The Only 10 Things You Need to Know Post-Graduation, from the Man Repeller. I’m not a post-grad for another year at least, but the snark and wisdom this list balances are hilarious.

6 Reasons Why You Should Do Things Alone,” from the Nectar Collective.

The Art of Living–Finding Our Creative Space, by Leah Gray from The Everygirl.

“On New York Bad Days + ‘Fake Problems'” by Grace Atwood.

What It Really Means to Eat a Big Mac at the Arctic Circle,” by Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes.

“Jane Goodall Is Still Wild at Heart, by Paul Tullis for New York Times Magazine. I love the lede to this piece; it’s amazing what little details stick to the biggest stories.

“No Survivors: What Would Happen if an 800-Kiloton Nuclear Warhead Detonated Above Manhattan? by Steven Starr, Lynn Eden, and Theodore A. Postol for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. (What? I’m a nerd at heart. A curious nerd.)

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Have you seen the bonsai trees at the Chicago Botanical Garden? So teeny. So perfect. So aesthetically pleasing.

Books:

“The Best of Outside: The First 20 Years,” including writing by Tim Cahill, Ian Frazier, Jon Krakauer (!!!) and Jane Smiley (and many, many other phenomenal outdoor, adventure, exploration, and travel writers.)

“Small Wonder Essays,” by Barbara Kingsolver

“Prodigal Summer,” by Barbara Kingsolver (my high school English teacher once said she read it every summer for a while; now I do, too.)

“Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes. I first watched Under the Tuscan Sun last semester for absolutely no reason only to fall in love with the character of Frances and her whirlwind adventure to the Italian countryside. Now whenever I have a bad day, I imagine just picking up and renovating a villa somewhere near Florence. I can’t wait to dig into this book. (Thanks for letting me borrow it, Aunt Dede!)

[Two of the above books were found at local secondhand bookstores. Support local businesses!]

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Not an obsession.

To-Read List:

Radical Self-Love,” by Gala Darling. I’ve read her blog since I first ventured onto the internet, and I’ve loved her journey and her self-love story. I can’t wait to snap up this book once I have a more permanent mailing address in DC.

“Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed. After seeing the movie, I knew I wanted to read the book. I can’t wait to delve into it.

“The Royal We,” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. What? I still want to be a princess. Sue me.

“Go Set a Watchman,” by Harper Lee. You better believe I’ll be in line to get this book when it comes out on July 14.

What are you reading? 

In Inspiration, Life on
April 22, 2015

National Poetry Month

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I spent this weekend exploring the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City for the first time! Um, why aren’t all art museums *completely free*? Anyway, I think painting is a different kind of visual poetry. So it inspired me. 

In the spirit of art, April is National Poetry Month! These are my all-time favorite poems (I’m a bit of a classic buff, but I feel something every single time I read them.); send me yours!

When I have fears that I may cease to be (John Keats)

Ozymandias (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

The Lady of Shallott (1842) (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

The Raven (Edgar Allen Poe)

Invictus (William Ernest Henley)

The Rights of Women (Anna Leticia Barbauld)

 Phenomenal Woman (Maya Angelou)

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Robert Frost)

Breakage (Mary Oliver)

(Did you know that Monet’s Water Lilies works [shown above] that are split up among different international museums were actually all intended to be displayed side by side in an oval room? It’s so that the viewer would be surrounded by serenity and peaceful images. I know. I love him, too.) 

 

 

 

In Inspiration, Life, Link Roundups on
March 16, 2015

Begin Again.

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(This is a “Things I Wanted to Write About This Week, But Didn’t” + personal updates. I hope you don’t mind!)

It has been quite a long time since I took to this blog to share my thoughts. A lot of things in my personal life have come to a turning point, and I’m sure details will leak into this blog eventually, as they always seem to do.

I’m proud of the journey I’ve made, and I’m proud of the journey I have yet to make. But some days, it’s hard to be cheerful, so here are a list of things that are making the bad days better, and the great days into phenomenal ones:

The fact that people take books, make them teeny tiny, and then into jewelry.

Can all fictional plots be reduced to data points? This article from The Paris Review discusses whether we can break down our favorite literary works into formulas based on overarching emotion–it’s pretty cool.

Two words: Breakfast. Sandwiches.

GIANT THINGS THAT ARE PRINTED TO LOOK LIKE OTHER THINGS (a.k.a. this comforter from H&M looks so cozy).

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And a little list of tiny things that make me smile. I’ve been keeping lists like these around my room lately:

Homemade chocolate chip pancakes (that I just learned to make) // a good friend’s laugh // the season’s first nectarines // foggy Missouri mornings // Thursdays // Retellings of Greek tragedies that include quite a bit of humor (‘Argonautika’ was delightful, despite all the sadness) // leisurely cups of coffee // living with a great roommate // watercolors // phone calls to my mom // a good cry // sunrises // the fact that spring comes so early here and lasts so long.

I hope you have a great week! I know I will.

 

 

In Life on
January 2, 2015

Into the Sunset

 

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So as of 9:30PM tomorrow EST, I will be headed to Paris, then Prague, back to Paris because we only landed there the first time to catch a connecting flight to Prague, then a train to Brussels, a short layover in Amsterdam (I have high hopes for airport entertainment, Amsterdam), and then Rome.

Phew. I have to admit, for 2 weeks, it sounds exhausting. I’m also, of course, very excited. This trip will visit local news organizations and ad agencies in Europe, and while I’m excited for that too, I’m a big culture person. I want to see how Parisians, Belgians, Romans, and the Czech live. I never imagined getting to go to the Czech Republic or even Belgium or even Rome for that matter. This is going to be one heck of an adventure.

I’d love to travel more after this, but I think I need to master this experience first before I daydream about going anywhere else. Packing for two weeks for a range of weather has proved a challenge in and of itself, as well. You’ll have to forgive any short sentences and typos–I’m writing this on a Kindle and will be for the rest of my trip. I’m going to miss typing on a real keyboard…that’s probably the thing I’ll miss the most! (Besides you, mom.)

I’ll probably update anyway as part of my coursework, but I’m not sure if I’ll have a schedule yet. What I do know is that I’ll be starting the Game of Thrones series while idling in airports and train stations! A kindle isn’t ideal for blogging but is for and avid reader.

Anyway, I hope you’ll join me on this adventure via this blog! You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram! I’ll try to post whenever I have free, secure wifi (and time).

Happy New Year!

In Inspiration, Life on
November 13, 2014

What Are You For?

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And for every day you paint the war, take a week and paint the beauty, the color, the shape of the landscape you’re marching towards. Everyone knows what you’re against. Show them what you’re for. (Andrea Gibson)

That quote is one of my favorite quotes from Andrea Gibson, who is a phenomenally talented spoken word artist. Her poems and performances are works of art. I can’t get enough of them. (My favorites are this one, this one, and this one.)

But this quote from her resonated with me this week for some reason. I’ve been swamped in activities and homework lately, struggling with applications and internships. In between all of those things, I’m also worrying about whatever I want to do when I graduate. Juggling all of that doesn’t always make me the most cheerful person, and I tend toward sarcastic most days anyway. It can be hard to stop criticizing, whether it’s myself or the world I’m living in.

I hope I’m not the only one, but I feel like I have this tendency to dream about the future to escape the present. It’s easier than facing the challenges that are right here in front of me. It’s easy to be cynical and distant; it is much more difficult to be positive.

What are you for?