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Things I Learned a Year Ago

For some reason, this paper I wrote popped into my head, so I went to pull it up on Google Docs. The date? May 11th, 2014. Exactly a year ago today. The assignment was to write about our experience in the class. I am such a different person a year ago from who I am today. I think every year I’d like to write a what I’ve learned piece, outside of a class context.

This year I became a better writer, and a much worse writer.

For my first assignment of the year, I found myself sitting at a table in the office of an executive director with her personal assistant and the ninety-two year old woman that founded the company. Over the course of the hour long interview as I frantically took notes while the wheels on my tape recorder turned, each of the ladies told me in turn that they were glad the story was in my hands, because they were positive that I was “a truly gifted writer.”

Of course I smiled and thanked them, but they had no idea what was really running through my head was: I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Being on the high school yearbook staff and learning the basics in English 215 had no way of preparing me for the blatantly harsh but necessary review I received on that article, or the fast-paced assignment style of the class.

Yet it was because of that honest criticism and large workload that I learned to go from “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing” to “Okay, I kind of know what I’m doing now.”

In that first article, I didn’t know what questions to ask during the interview, didn’t know how to format a paragraph, didn’t know how to wrap things up, and lived in constant paranoia that my tape recorder would malfunction.

Now I can go into an interview without my safety net of pre-written questions, learned that a paragraph in journalism is not a big wall of text, and can conclude a story with a bang. I still am plagued by tape-recorder error nightmares, though. I’ll work on it.

As a creative writing major, I was unused to being assigned a topic to write about. Usually the topic world is our oyster, but in the journalism world if my editor told me my topic was oysters, I’d have to find the silver lining somewhere without complaint.

Topic assignment was a big learning experience because I’d never written creatively about something which I was not enthusiastic. On one hand I became more skilled at finding interesting aspects in topics I viewed as boring, and on the other I realized the importance of communication with my editors. A story with a writer who doesn’t want to write it is going to be a lot worse than with one who does, and I retrospectively I wish I had consciously recognized this earlier and talked with my editor more frequently about it.

I learned there’s a reason deadlines have the word “dead” in them, but the can bring out the life in a story. I’ve had unfinished creative writing stories on the backburner for years, but with journalism the idea is pitched and written over the course of a week, for better or for worse. And it’s usually for better, because of the immediate publication. I will self-create deadlines for my work in the future.

So, through learning all these things that made me a better writer, I am now a worse writer, because I have learned how far I still have to go. I know I will forever be in pursuit of a perfect headline, procuring the most memorable quote, and writing the most precise sentence. The fact that there is always room for improvement is both terrifying and exciting.

Accepting that someone else’s edits were an improvement upon my work with them having the final say was also something I wasn’t used to, but helped me grow. Sometimes when I think I’m making a fantastic pun – “Downtown orange feeling blue” or “Glow dance fades away” – I’m really just being cheesy, and it was important to realize that and move forward.

With this in mind, an article about The Club and the crazy adventures they go on was my favorite thing to report this year, not necessarily because of the resulting article, but because of the enthusiasm for life each member brought to the experience. During his interview, the club president quoted something that still resonates with me – “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” I immediately knew that I would include that in the article. And my editors immediately removed it. At first I couldn’t believe they had removed what I thought to be one of the finer quotes I had gathered, but then looked at the article as a whole and realized they were right.

Professionally, from a very young age I always wanted to be a novelist. But the older I get the more that looks less like a life of fame and storytelling adventure and more like lonely days battling blank word documents and even blanker bank accounts.

Journalism offers the possibility for a social aspect while – hopefully – earning a living and still being able to write. More than anything, I discovered just how much simply talking to people allows you to learn. Everything seems like a smaller world, and a bigger one – one girl I interviewed lives in my neighborhood across the street and I had no idea, but she just moved from the Ukraine.

Yet I must admit, I still have yet to find my niche in the journalism world. A fantasy-oriented writer in a fact-driven world, sometimes I felt caged-in by guidelines or rules. For a little while, faced with deadlines and difficulty in reaching people, I didn’t know if I could do it. But, looking back at everything I created over the semester I realized – I can. And that’s possibly the most important lesson of all.

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Katy Perry’s Super Super Bowl Sharks

If you tuned into Sunday’s Superbowl like roughly 120 million other Americans, chances are you’re probably still riding the wave that was Katy Perry’s halftime performance with the sharks that stole the show. We can take a cue from the California girls, because from sea-inspired prints to lobster patterned pants, anything out of the ocean has been all the rage of late. Don’t jump the shark – find a way to channel your inner Katy Perry and make a splash with nautical themed clothing.

In case you missed it, Katy Perry’s back-up sharks created quite the ripple on stage.

You can even get a back-up shark t-shirt online:

Could there be anything more lovable than a giant, adorable dancing fish? Well, the fact that you can step into shark-style with the Shark Bite Slipper might be a close contender.

If you’re looking for something a little less Jaws and a little more “I am a super fashionable shark,” you can still get covered from head to toe.

The Striped Shark Jaw Boxy Tee offers the perfect blend of cool and casual for anyone looking to take a stroll on the pier or just pay homage to a new found Katy Perry inspired love for sharks. Pair them with some Sperry’s and some navy colored pants and you’ll be all set for a day of smooth sailing fashion choices.

For a perfect outfit, accessories can never be forgotten. And no one will be forgetting the dancing sharks any time soon. Shark Week can be any week with a Sterling Silver Shark’s Tooth necklace. Like Aria on Pretty Little Liars, it can be dressed up with a black collared t-shirt or layered over a t-shirt to create a laid-back nautical vibe.

You can even pay tribute to the sharks right down to your toes with a shark themed manicure in a fresh sea green polish. You can go great white or even tiger shark, but the hammerheads really nailed it.

So make sure you’re dancing, not sleeping, with the fishes by paying attention to details or making a big statement, and always remember – fish are friends, not food.

 

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The Day After a Second Date

Found this free-write when I was in a really happy place in my life and posting this in hopes of going back to there.

 

Sometimes I feel the world is so ripe and full with potential and I get so excited that I’m alive. It usually happens around dusk, the hours where the sun is setting and the moon is starting to materialize above us. I slip between those two moments in time. I get so caught up in things. things I have to do, loans I have to pay, things I need, things I want. I get so caught up that I feel weighed down and forget that life is just me and God and the people I love.

I drive around sometimes just for the fun of it. Tonight was one of those nights, with all the windows down in my car and my wet hair drying in the wind, my music up high – “start a fire in my soul.” There’s a fire in my soul when the night is warm and the moon is a massive golden crater kissing the stars in the sky. When it matches the street lights blinking around me. I know what I have to do tomorrow, but right now the moment is forever and I feel free.

It’s times like those that I want to do something crazy. I want to never say that I am ordinary.

I want to damn the consequence and call him on the phone and drive around the darkening streets with my windows down and laugh and thank God for a life that can be so spontaneous and special that it takes my breath away, that I’m simply driving down a road because I can. I can. I want to share it with him but I’m am terrified of the potential I can feel on this kinetic night, scared to squeeze every last drop of possibility from the velvet sky because it feels so wonderful just to float in it and think of the what-ifs.

So for now I will leave it at the what ifs and what if we held hands and walked down moonlit brick paths in the heavy dark air and were anything but ordinary, drove until we were lost and sat on the hood of my rusty car while staring up at heaven and wondering how anything could possibly be better up there, but knowing that it is.

Smiling smiles and dancing dances that let us know we are not alone in this tiny world where streets that we see every day are magic depending on who you’re not alone on them with.

I am always reaching for the stars with stars in my eyes, hoping I never reach them and hoping I will.

 

 

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Quiet Time

I was in the mountains on a retreat and we had quiet time for an hour, this is what came out of it –

I want to run on greener pastures, I want to dance on higher hills.

I have been going through some things lately and a few weeks ago when that song came on my iPod in the car I couldn’t stop the tears from falling.

Well right now I am literally on higher hills because I am here in the mountains, but I still don’t feel like dancing.

And my soul is getting restless for the place where I belong

I ask that question when I feel lost – is this the place where I belong?

I think that this could be a place where I belong. We’re having quiet time but I’ve never been able to keep quiet for very long. Quieting my thoughts just means turning down the volume. There’s nothing I can do about the speed at which they constantly race around my brain.

It’s quiet here. The hills are rolling against the skyline, freckled by trees and not roaring freeways stuffed with cars.

There’s ants crawling on my toes. I don’t care. They’re having quiet time, too. Their whole life is a quiet time.

The little yellow leaves are falling one by one by one and the breeze is pushing them across the sky, the thinning tree branches stretching to the wisps of clouds left in the sky. Winter will be here soon, they say. Clothe us.

I came up here because I’m running from something and when I go back I will still be running from it. Even in my stillness I am running. I never get away because I think I am running from myself. I wish I could leave myself behind.

I can’t leave myself behind in the quiet spaces because in them I think about the places and people I’ve left pieces of myself behind in, and how that’s why I’m broken now.

But just for a moment, when I look at the fragments of stars in the sky, I lose myself. I leave myself behind in them, with a bunch of broken pieces I could never be whole without. It’s not the kind of sadness that rips right through you. It’s the kind of sadness that can be addicting if you’re not careful, the kind that you can’t escape no matter how much you smile it away. It’s the kind that’s seeped into your veins, pulses to your fingertips. Deep. It’s the kind of profound sadness that I wish I could share, but the beauty of it, the reason that it’s sad, is that I can’t. I can’t articulate it. It can only be felt, in my core, in my bones, in puffs of breath, vapor on the blackness of the sky.

The stars are so much more beautiful here than they are in the city, scattered across the sky in infinite broken shards. It sit in my backyard and look at them and wonder if someone is out there, too, thinking that life is vast and infinite and terrifying and how in this terrifying world will I ever meet them. Hoping it’s in the stars. Hoping we’re in each others’ stars.

But if something that beautiful can get even more beautiful the higher up you are, the closer you are to reaching it, well maybe that should give me hope. In the city you can see them – lights in the sky. But here you can see them too. They are up there all the same but brighter. From the new vantage point, clearer. The city lights fog them up, pretty distractions from what we’re really meant to see.

It seems like there are so many more stars here just because we can see them better. They’re with us down in the city, too, but the pretty little distractions are blocking our sight.

But they’re up there, whether we see them or not. Stardust, fairydust, shimmering. A promise that I’ll got up and down sometimes and won’t be able to see them sometimes even when things get dark. They’ll be there. Whispering to all the little broken parts of me. We’re broken, too, but we’re beautiful.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of the 90’s Fashion Revival

When people ask, “Hey, where’d you get your shorts?” I no longer hesitate to tell them that they’re straight from my mom’s closet, and straight from the 90’s.

Maybe she was holding on to her 1992 high-waisted levi’s shorts and tie-up crop top because she knew the 90’s would come back eventually, but it’s really probably because she doesn’t want to let go of her supermom glory days.

Well, mom, your supermom glory days were never gone, and now they can return in full swing because the 90’s are indeed back. That being said, while I’ll sneak out of the house before she realizes I’m sporting her clothes, there’s a few things hanging the closest from days of old that are more “as ifs” than totally fly, yo.

Do’s-

1. Crop Top

Julia Roberts is showing off the less is more look straight from 1990 –  but I’d believe it if it someone told me that she was walking up to her latest movie premiere in the stripy ensemble.

Blogcroptop

Nearly twenty years later crop tops are hitting the fashion scene again, often paired with another old-new staple, highwaisted shorts.

moderncrop

2. High-waisted Shorts

Speaking of high-waisted, it’s nearly impossible to walk outside and not see someone sporting the wildly popular fashion trend. Is nothing new? High-waisted shorts didn’t start in the nineties (according to a search on the all-knowing expert that is Google, and my secret viewership of basically every I Love Lucy Episode), but people certainly did wear them frequently.

However, if you’ve heard of high-waisted shorts at all, you’ve also probably heard complaints about the minimal coverage they sometimes offer. To save your eyes I’ll spare you a picture; high-waisted shorts are only a ‘do’ if they’re done right, where people will actually be able to look at you without shielding their eyes.

3. Phoebe

OK, so a Pheobe isn’t an item of clothing obviously. But if it was it would be whimsically cool and everyone wearing it would be all that and a bag of chips. She was the master of maxi dresses, statement jewelry, and songs about cats. Sounds very 2014 to me.

4. Neon

neon1

There are do’s and don’ts within this blast from the past. You may have guessed that the above is a don’t. A modern rule to live by with neon is that, like with crop tops, less is more. Now it’s all about accents, like a pop of bright color on fingernails, a purse, a hair tie, or thin belt.

5. Grunge

We’ve all heard of the fashion paradox of spending two hours to look like you just woke up and rolled out of bed. While I’m not sure that the mysterious secret behind this elusive look is one that can ever be discovered, I’m positive that one of the keys is a good “oh I just threw this on” flannel t-shirt. This is a great DIY flannel tutorial where you can take some time to look like you took no time at all.

Bonus do: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Need I say more?

fresh-prince-of-bel-air-style-1

Don’ts –

1. Bowl Cuts

bowlcut

No one should walk into a salon and say “I would like it to look like there is a bowl on my head.” Apparently this happened a lot in the 90’s.

2. Parachute Pants 

parachute pants

As stylishly as this model has assembled her outfit, I cannot get on board with parachute pants. There’s a reason they’re called parachute pants. Because people wear them when they go skydiving and use parachutes. Not strolling through the mall. Unless it’s SkyMall, but even then, they’re still big baggy potato sack pants.

3.

choker

There’s a reason even the name sounds so painful.

4. Overalls

overallcat

Overalls have been slowly creeping back onto the runways, but there was a reason that the last time I snapped on the straps to a pair was when people were still playing with Pogs. Overall, they’re a hit or a miss, but usually a miss.

5. Whatever is happening here.

don't90's

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There is no try. There is only do.

Still more reasons for being terrible:
There are more chances in life to do nothing than there are to do something.
Like Dumbledore said, “Soon we all must face the choice between what is right, and what is easy.”
It’s kind of a cheeseball quote, to be honest, but for some reason I can’t help it from popping into my head from time to time.
Yesterday I pulled into the parking lot on time to go to class, then realized I had basically forgotten everything. Yes, more or less everything I needed for class, including my homework and a book.
Cursing my brilliance, I drove home really quickly and grabbed the aforementioned items, and was about ten minutes late to class.
On the way there, a man was standing in the Piazza, the center of our school by the fountain, holding a clipboard. As I approached he said, “Miss, would you like to help the disabled?”
Without really thinking I said, “No, I’m late to class.”
What kind of a horrible human being says that? No, I don’t want to help the disabled because I’m late to my oh so meaningful GE Spanish class where we’re going to talk about what type of comida we like to comer?
The day before that I went to see a magic act which was very cool and produced the usual “I need to know how he did that or I will die” effect. Afterwards he told his testimony about how he became a Christian through his battle with Leukemia because one person was able to be his bone marrow donor. Under our seats was a form that allowed us to sign up to be donors as well – all it would take was some paperwork and a cheek swab to be put into the registry.
But I didn’t do it. I mean, I do have a factor V Leiden blood deficiency gene, but I don’t think that would stop me from donating marrow. I used it as my excuse though. Why? Because it wasn’t easy.
It wasn’t easy to be a little more late to class to see what the guy with the clipboard was talking about, and it wasn’t convenient to take my time to fill out the form.
Instead I did nothing.
I find this happening to me a lot. I see a problem. I want to fix it. I don’t. Because in order to do that, I’d have to actually get up and put some effort into doing something about it, talk to people, do a little work. And that’s not easy. Doing nothing is easy. Doing something is hard. Here’s to doing more something.