Relevant

(throws confetti, once again)

Today is, in fact, my sweet little blog’s
fourthbirthday

Screen shot 2013-09-07 at 10.40.22 PMThat’s right, folks. Four whole years. They grow up so fast!
Anyway, I don’t have anything special planned, but I wanted to recognize this day and thank you all for sticking with me.

The past few months of grad school have been exceedingly difficult, emotionally more than anything else. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that my writing has suffered because of school. It happens every semester when papers and tests pick up. But this seems to be something different entirely, and I’m trying to sort my way through it.

This space continues to grow and change as I do. So thanks for coming back.
Thanks for not giving up on me.

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Write, Right When You Get There

I’m double posting about this because I think it’s pertinent to both my writing and design spaces. I typically keep the two separate, but I’m making an exception this time, so I apologize if you read both and find this redundant. 

I’m very excited to tell you that I recently completed my very first submission for The Sketchbook Project!

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I’ve been a fan of Art House Co-op for years, and have participated in a number of their art swaps and smaller projects, but just contributed my first sketchbook to the collection.

To participate, you order a sketchbook from Art House Co-op and register the book with a particular tour you want your book to travel before being housed in the Brooklyn Art Library. The theme of the tour I chose is called “Write, Right When You Get There,” bringing together written story and visual artwork, which felt right up my alley. It also seemed like the perfect theme as (many of you already know, of course) I made a huge life transition and moved across the country just two months ago.

A lot of the writing that has appeared here the past few months was written first in my sketchbook and adapted for this little digital space, but if you’re in any of the cities along the tour (Kansas City, Louisville, Columbus, and Pittsburgh) or find yourself in Brooklyn any time soon, you should check out The Sketchbook Project and the Brooklyn Art Library. And if you feel like looking up my book, you can find it by this call number (216.5-7), and I would absolutely love to know if you do. Here are a few photos from my sketchbook.

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Reflection, Relevant, Remembering

To My Favorites

While I was the second of two daughters in my family, most of my closest friends growing up had younger siblings, and because of them I lucked into a number of little sisters. I shared hallways with them for a year of high school, my last and their first, and did what I could to make everything a little lighter. I got to watch them grow in a similar way I imagine my own sister did me: with the desire to protect them, to teach them everything I knew, to keep them young, and provide them with a space to grow up that was even just a little more compassionate than my own.

Of course, they grew up on me and became the most stunning, intelligent, creative, and caring young women I know. Next week they begin college, and with that will come many changes, I’ve learned, just a few years ahead of them in age. In many other ways though, they’re lightyears ahead of me. And now I’m certain that I didn’t just gain a gaggle of little girls to play Mother Hen to, but a number of dear friends.

There are a lot of Guides to Surviving Freshman Year of College written and published this time of year, which contain a number of insightful things like how to get involved with student organizations, the reality of the Freshman 15, how not to fail every class, how to party like a real frat star, and many similar bits of wisdom I don’t care to share with you. Instead, I write this one to my favorite little sisters, with the acknowledgement that I’m not full of wisdom or answers, just a great deal of love.

I still want to protect you, teach you everything I know, keep you young, and create a compassionate world for you to continuing growing.

For my favorite babes as they begin college:

Know this list is full of contradictions and exceptions.
Know that life is full of contradictions and exceptions.

Feel everything, except guilty for feeling. I don’t know a more graceful way to write that succinctly, but I think it’s important. There will be times when someone will dismiss your feelings, will minimize, will trivialize, and—if you’re anything like me—will make you feel embarrassed for caring too much. Or maybe it will be the reverse. Be honest about it. Let yourself feel what you feel, the extremes, the in-betweens, the numbness that may be worst of all. Let yourself miss home, let yourself be confused, let yourself be heartbroken. Feel organically. Sort through it when you can. Write from it, create from it, run with it, be motivated by it, make it valuable in some way if you can. And when it’s too much for you to handle, know how to ask for help. That’s important.

Communicate what matters. When you hurt someone, apologize. When you have big questions, ask them. When you love someone, please tell them, and don’t wait too long. I’ve spent too much of my life rehearsing phone calls before I made them, imagining conversations before they happened, and writing letters too late, letting my over-thinking get in the way of saying things that actually matter. Relationships do dissolve, friends do move away, and people die, which isn’t meant to be a that-escalated-quickly moment, but a serious one. I’m not one of those people who claims to not have any regrets because you can’t change the past or whatever. I regret many things, but most of those moments surround failing to say ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m sorry,’ for fear of shaking pride, or for fear of the response.

Take an Intro to Philosophy class your first year.

Be alone, and even lonely, at least a little. Let it teach you.

Don’t be afraid you’re not doing college correctly. I’m sure you’ve already heard/read/seen more than you would ever want to about The College Experience, so you’ll naturally go in with a number of expectations. For the record, my college idol was Rory Gilmore, who went to Yale, while I went to a giant state school in Texas, if that tells you anything about my misguided ideas about college. Gilmore Girls talk aside, my point is that you can’t possibly get rid of your expectations, but I think you can foster a kind of attitude towards those expectations which allows something meaningful to come from the disappointment when it isn’t everything you’ve ever hoped.

College may be the best four years of your life. It also may not even come close to the best years of your life. Let it be what it is and don’t worry you’re doing it wrong because it doesn’t fit the college mold. Don’t feel guilty if you actually like studying. Join a sorority even if your friends back home think it’s lame. Don’t be afraid of fitting a college kid stereotype, of being a hipster, of dating a guy or gal who writes poetry, of getting a 4.0, or being in student government. Don’t be afraid of being outside every stereotype. Do you, plain and simple.

Talk to people who challenge you and what you think you know. Let them teach you about yourself.

Read for pleasure (alright, over winter break).

Call your folks and your siblings often.

Know that if you choose a liberal arts/humanities major, people will criticize you for it, and there’s not much you can do to stop them. Know why you’re studying dance or studio art or creative writing or philosophy or theatre. Have a good reason, one you believe wholeheartedly. If you know what you’re spending your time studying is valuable, the criticism won’t get to you. Expect people to call it the “easy major” and throw around words like useless, frivolous, and would you like fries with that. It will be hurtful sometimes, and crummy people will base their judgements of you on what you’re studying. Don’t feel like you have to defend your major to the death. You won’t change their minds. Brush it off, and don’t ever read Yahoo! News. Just, don’t. English-major-hater central.

Know what is within your control and what isn’t. You can’t change the time of your 8 a.m. class when you come to your senses and realize 8 a.m. classes are the very worst. You can’t change your bank account balance when it tells you you’ve spent your last seven dollars this month and don’t get a pay check for three days. You can’t change the fact that you lost your phone on a Saturday night you can’t remember. You can’t change the fact that he doesn’t love you.

Know that everything and everyone can teach you something if you let them.

It’s OK to share cigarettes with boys on front porch steps, but always know how many packs you’ve bought in your lifetime. It’ll keep you in check, and keep your lungs from quitting on you when you’re 45.

Stand up for yourself. Identify what makes you valuable. Know those things like the back of your hand, so you never have to question it and never let anyone else.

Love with conviction.

Let yourself change. Recognize the changing as it happens, how it happens, who it happens with. Document along the way if you’re into that kind of thing. Write Future You a letter telling her all about you now. She’ll want to meet you, I promise.

Make balance a constant goal.

Resist apathy. This last one is important. You’ll meet a lot of people who care about very little. Don’t be like that. Care about something. Care about everything. Care too much if you have to, but be alive.

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Making Sense of Somewhere New

You’ll drive somewhere just to see if you can find home again on your own, wandering to wander.

You’ll miss hugs, the good ones that last too long and say so much.

You’ll go to the same places over and over again to relish in the familiarity.

You’ll miss the possibility of running into someone you know, an entire town of yearbook photos that have grown a little worn around the edges.

Homesickness will fill the silences if you let it. You’ll step onto an empty balcony at an uncomfortable house party and it will come.

You’ll be surprised by the easy days.

Your new friends won’t notice when you’re gone, when you work through lunch everyday for a week or miss Wednesday night drinks, because you haven’t been a constant in their lives long enough for them to realize you’ve been elsewhere.

You’ll double-take every time you hear a voice or see the back of someone’s head that feels familiar, regardless of how improbable it is. You’ll be disappointed every time it’s not him.

You’ll take yourself out to brunch on a Sunday morning because you want the calm and the quiet and the proving to yourself that you can. Eventually you’ll learn to feel comfortable saying “table for one.”

This comfort might scare you.

You’ll find yourself making categories and placing people in them in true Dr. Seuss fashion: old friends, new friends, home friends, school friends.

Those categories will becomes less defined and new ones will materialize: then and now. This might not be easy to accept.

You’ll challenge the things you feared.

You’ll survive.

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Read, Reflection, Relevant

It’s Easier To Pine

I’ve been obsessed with A Fine Frenzy’s newest album PINES since it released in October. Accompanying the album is an interactive digital book singer/songwriter Alison Sudol wrote, titled The Story of Pines. The entire project is absolutely stunning. I’m a sucker for music that meets narrative; what can I say? I remember my friend Lily recommending a few songs from One Cell in the Sea to me, but I wasn’t a huge fan of A Fine Frenzy until this album. I emotionally connected to PINES immediately after the first listen, and I’ve come back to it a number of times over the past few months. For me, it’s a definitively winter album. It’s a little softer, a little sadder, a little more painful.

I bought the album the week it dropped, but just stumbled upon a track-by-track commentary on Spotify with Alison Sudol, in which she takes listeners through the sensory progression she imagined and where she was emotionally in writing PINES. It’s all very lovely and worth your time. If things like Spotify playlists interest you, I made one with the commentary and album so you don’t even have to go searching for it, which you can access here. I transcribed a short clip from the commentary for you all because I thought it was all around lovely, even on its own, apart from the song.

“Dance of The Gray Whales–I started writing this piece–it’s the first instrumental piece I’ve ever written, and I started writing it years ago when I was on tour during One Cell in the Sea, actually. And I used to play it for myself and for friends who were upset or who needed soothing, or I’ve played it for friends and they’ve just fallen asleep to it. And it’s just–there’s a moment that happens after a stormy or turbulent event in your life where there’s a quiet, and–a really deep quiet. And there’s a bit of pain left over, but not really pain, but the memory of the pain. And yet there’s this kind of peaceful sort of gray cloud that comes over you, which is healing and–not gray, not dark gray, not a charcoal, not a storm, but a softness.

And I love whales, I think there’s something so wise and ancient about them and I just imagined being in the sea and having been in a shipwreck and gotten in a fight with ghost ships and then being rescued by whales. I mean, how much lovelier could that get, even though that may not carry the same weight because you’d be a bit tired. But it’d still be pretty nice.”

From PINES (Spotify Track by Track) by A Fine Frenzy 

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Reflection, Relevant

“And while you wait for your luck to change all you can think of is where you started”

I’ve always held the notion that inconsistency is a feature unique to this time in my life, unique to the all-too-lost and self-absorbed twenty-something, that eventually I’ll get to a point where things change a little less frequently, or in smaller ways, if nothing else. I’ve anticipated this moment, this age of consistency where I don’t feel drastically different each day when I wake up, each time I flip the pages of the calendar that hangs in my kitchen, each birthday that comes and goes and comesandgoes again, as though it would be easier that way, with the steady and the certain, as though we ever stop changing. Maybe I’ll get to a point where things will remain the same from year to year. Maybe I’ll buy a house and paint the walls a soft green and learn to save money and hang my clothes in my closet after I wash them and maybe I’ll have a better idea of who I am because she won’t seem to change nearly as drastically as she does now. But I don’t actually think consistency is compatible with humanness, and I don’t know that I want it to.

I think living can be really difficult sometimes. We don’t talk about it this way though because the alternative, the not-living, is horrifying both figuratively and literally. But I think it’s okay to admit that living is hard, and it’s okay to want it to be easier sometimes because it means we’re alive. It means we’re not numb to the world and all its horrible, terrifying, silly, heartbreaking, inspiring, overwhelming, beautiful, and complicated facets.

There’s something valuable that comes from discomfort and uncertainty. You taught me this a long time ago, before time convinced me we were no good for each other and I wanted to impress you so much more than I wanted to be great at anything, so I consumed all of your words, carefully, so that maybe they would press and form to my insides and become part of me and me a part of them and maybe I would believe them for the right reasons and I want to thank you because I do.

Living is hard sometimes, and I’m learning to love it more and more ardently, sincerely, and intensely every day. To love that the only thing consistent is inconsistency, and it’s all the better for that. And tonight, with a little bit of music perfection, I was reminded what it feels like to be a little more alive.

As you think the bad,  feeling so bad makes the good so good.

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“You’re already home where you feel loved.”

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year…

I played hooky with a stellar seventeen year old, had a lovely dinner with the best rents any girl could have, saw a movie with my favorite gal Toria, played my ukulele for the first time in weeks,

I wrote a love note to a stranger,

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I made paper Valentines with my favorite five-year-old,
cfd069f472fa11e2ae9022000a1f9a21_7and I designed and mailed postcards to my sweet friends and family.

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In the larger scheme of things, Valentine’s Day doesn’t actually matter and is pretty trivial. But I can’t help but love any day that gives me an excuse to remind the wonderful human beings in my life how lucky I am to have them. So, thank you, friends, old and new. And happy Valentine’s Day to you!

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