on sophomore year

IMG_8795*written while waiting in the main library for the clock to strike eleven so I didn’t have to pay for parking*

In the wake of a growth-filled and way-too-quick first year of college, I didn’t think that a second year had the capacity to constitute more growth or to go by any more quickly. But boy was I wrong on both accounts. Comparing this year to last, I grew exponentially more and it went by exponentially quicker. Thus, two things are needless to say: sophomore year achieves the impossible, and I could never accurately express all that I’ve learned this year. But I wanted to share this one thing that I’m learning right now that I keep thinking about and is so crazy relatable and important that I couldn’t help but share. So here we go.

The more I study literature, regardless of the time period or country of origin, the more I become aware of its reactionary qualities. As in that thing that things do when other things happen. Ugh, I explain it better in this one. But anyway, writers react to things. And this fact becomes so obvious when you read a lot of one writer: aka all I did this year. You should see my Amazon Prime “Your Orders” page from the beginning of this semester. It consisted of all the works of James Joyce sans Finnegan’s Wake and six single-poet anthologies. Reading titles that start with “The Complete Poems of…,” you best believe I learned a whole heck of a lot about very specific things.

And one of those specific things is a poet named Hart Crane. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s okay. Before this year, I also didn’t know you could call your kid a misspelled version of a four-arteried organ. But if you want to know a little bit more than you did five minutes ago about life and an American guy who tried, I insist you read on.

Hart Crane, or Harold Hart Crane, was born in September of 1899 in rural mid-West USofA. But, like most of us, Crane had New-York-City-sized dreams (both dreams of living in the city and big dreams in general, naturally). Crane dreamed of relating two things together that were as distant as the Empire State Building is tall or the Brooklyn Bridge is long. And this is exactly what he set out and did: wielding the Brooklyn Bridge in his pen-hand, he set out to bring the past up to the present, bring the south up to the north, while feeling the tension of his suspension and straddling the water separating Manhattan from the world.

An important and relevant name you might recognize is T. S. Eliot. Believe it or not, Eliot was born in 1889, not even a whole year before our beloved Hart. And the reason I say “believe it or not” is because T. S. Eliot had just a few different ideas from Crane. Although born in America, Eliot didn’t live in the US during the peak years of his career. In fact, he became a citizen of Great Britain before he turned 40.

The reason I mentioned the bit about reactionary literature before is twofold: I want to relate it to Eliot and to Crane, in two very related ways.

Firstly, Eliot is a post-Great War writer. His extensive, and even more extensive than we can understand, as poet Ezra Pound cut a huge hunk of out of the finished product, and epitomizing poem The Waste Land is in direct reaction to the first World War. The place out of which Eliot is writing is desolate. Millions are dead. Nothing makes sense. Not even language works anymore. I wouldn’t suggest reading TWL unless you like to be utterly confused and lose all hope of ever amounting to anything. It’s daunting and hopeless, just like the world of a post-war Europe Eliot saw out his Harvard-educated and atheistic window.

But, insert Hart, a reactor to The Waste Land. Crane was reading Eliot’s poem and saying “nope, that’s not it, at all” (if you get what I did there, you’re my soulmate). Crane’s world was different from Eliot’s Waste Land. Crane didn’t see desolation; he saw something completely different.

We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.
For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

—Crane, “Chaplinesque,” 1933

Crane, in the first stanza of the above quoted text, creates a picture of Modernity as he knows it:  a people making “meek adjustments”, rather than big changes, a people “contented with” randomness and anonymity and “too ample pockets” rather than purpose and pockets filled with hope, money, or something, anything.

BUT, there’s always a but with Crane. BUT, he says with the second stanza, kittens exist!!! You know how sometimes a stray kitten randomly appears on your doorstep? That happens sometimes! We can still find hope in the world, or “love the world” because there’s always a chance that something great will happen amidst “the fury of the street,” the madness and hopelessness of modernity.

Thus, CRANE SAYS ELIOT’S IDEA OF THE WORLD AS A WASTE LAND IS TOO SIMPLE. DEEMING THE WORLD ALL BAD IS TOO EASY. Nobody can say, “Woe is me, all is lost,” because all is not lost! All is only partly lost. Rather, all is lost and all is not lost at the same time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can all be lost but also not be lost? How can the world be completely good and completely bad? How can kittens exist in the “fury of the street”? And how I would answer those questions is this: that’s exactly the point. That’s exactly Crane’s point. We can’t deem the world all one thing or all the other thing. We have to learn how to be okay with, and actually thrive in, the reality of two things that can’t coexist as coexisting.

To quote Crane directly, “There is the world dimensional for / those untwisted by the love of things / irreconcilable…”

In other words, if you don’t get twisted up by holding one thing in one hand and the diametrically opposed thing in the other, the world will start to look like something for you. The world will take on dimension, even. “So,” Crane is saying to Eliot, “your world must be pretty flat.”

The way Crane posits this idea is so cool. He takes the thing he sees outside of his NYC apartment window, the Brooklyn Bridge, and declares its reality as holding up two diametrically opposed ideas, the island of Manhattan and Brooklyn, to preserve the metaphor. Then, he states the only way the bridge can do this is through the tension implicit in its suspension technology (s/o Roebling). To hold up two opposing things, it’s going to be uncomfortable; there’s going to be tension. In order to bridge the gap, you’ve got to be willing to strain yourself.

Now, let’s apply this ish.

Seeing the world as one thing or another is too easy: black or white is too easy, there’s so much grey it’s insane; good or bad is too easy, decisions are hard; racist or not-racist is too easy, systemic racism rears itself in our day-to-day more than we realize; similar or different is too easy, let’s talk to people more; beautiful or ugly is too easy, have you ever seen Uga X?

All these dichotomies are too easy. The world and all of its idiosyncrasies cannot be manifested in one either/or statement. It’s not even a both/and, for the most part. It’s a nuanced, complex, hard, and beautiful place to be. But, it’s the worthy thing. Actually, it’s probably the worthiest thing.

So let’s stop pretending we have it all figured out, life is so much freer and deeper when we don’t.

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on nosebleeds

The weirdest thing happened today. Or tonight, rather. My family and I all went to dinner. Not the weird part yet. When we got home from dinner, we decided to play a round or two of my sister’s and my guilty pleasure: Guitar Hero. Still not the weird part. As we were walking up the stairs to go shred some heavy-ish metal, my dad noticed that my sister and I, in the dead of December, hadn’t turned on the heat. Our rooms had been an excruciatingly chilly 65 since October. Brrr. He flicked it on, as the Georgia weather is forcasted to drop below 40 for the next couple of days, and interspersed throughout our playing, I could hear its low grumble, a sound that my ears had been lacking for so long. And by so long, I mean the week or two I’ve been living here over Christmas break. After we had had enough of all our shredding, we decided to hang up the way-too-small-and-also-plastic Stratocaster in its rightful place and call it a night.

The item following “play Guitar Hero” on my simplistic winter to-do list includes “get ready for bed.” So, I brushed my teeth and washed my face. As I was drying my face with a towel, I noticed two red blood smears (and white blood smears and platelet smears) right where my nostrils would have been. Hm, I thought. I went to get some toilet paper, and as I leaned over, a stream of blood exited my right nostril. Hm, I thought again, this is weird. I haven’t had a nosebleed since approximately the fifth grade when at a sleepover I ruined Alexa R’s white pillow case. So my next actions were what any human being would have done: I shoved some toilet paper up my nose and went on WebMD. I wasn’t really concerned for my health, but when I was a kid, I had heard mixed reviews as to whether or not you’re supposed to blow your nose with a nosebleed, and I had to put these matters to rest, you see. Of course, the only thing that WebMD led me to conclude was that I have a bleeding disorder and/or a substance abuse problem, so I clicked on the next link which happened to be a page called “MedicineNet.com”. Apparently “Medicine.net” was already taken? But the interesting thing that “MedicineNet.com” told me was that “nosebleeds can occur spontaneously when the nasal membranes dry out and crack” and that “this is common during the winter months when the air is dry and warm from household heaters.”

Can we talk about this for a minute? Not even an hour after my dad turned on the heater for the first time this winter did my nose start to bleed. How crazy is that? A bodily function that hadn’t let loose since my middle school days happened in the blink of an eye due to less than an hour of a change in environment.

But this got me thinking, as most things do. This fast-acting sort of response is how everyone expects things to be nowadays. And I might even go as far as to say we don’t just expect it this way, we demand it. We have grown so accustomed to instant gratification that we are confused and frustrated when things don’t happen within seconds of whatever thing that we flung into the internet that nobody ever needs to hear ever. We’re sad when in a certain amount of time, we don’t get enough likes or retweets or text messages or whatever the heck we think will satisfy the longing within us.

I watched a video, ironically on Facebook, of an interview with a man named Simon Sinek who is an author and speaker. Trust me, he’s legit; he has Ted talks. The premise of the video was “The Millenial Paradox.” And basically, the paradox boils down to this: the way kids are being brought up is way different than the environment in which they find themselves. Take the example of me getting a college rejection letter. Now, these suck. I should know, I got more than one. But why do they suck for me so much? Why are so many of my tears shed over these things? Because the worth of my whole life leading up to this point is dependent upon whether or not this college or university accepts me. My whole life has been my schooling, and all of my schooling has brought me to this point. But also, my whole life has been getting reminders and extensions on assignments and my parents complaining so that teacher bumps up that B+ to an A or registers me for that honors class that I shouldn’t be in. (Sinek calls these things “participation medals” in the interview: things that are supposed to be inclusive but actually leave me feeling embarrassed or belittled.) But the college decision process is unlike anything I’ve ever faced. It’s grueling and difficult and frankly unfair. I have been told for 13 years of schooling that I’m special, and now I’m just a number and a GPA and so-and-so college or university doesn’t even want me to pay them? I was not prepared for this!

Now add social media to the mix. These platforms are our coping mechanisms when life gives us lemons. Think about it, seeing that you’ve beaten your record amount of likes or noticing you have 12 new message notification feels good (and it feels extra good when you’re lonely)(and turning to a device as a distraction is easier than talking to your parents or friends about the problems your facing). And all of this feels good because it causes a release in your brain of a chemical called dopamine, the same chemical that’s released when you drink, gamble, or smoke–three highly-addictive, age-restricted activities. But interestingly, the satisfaction you feel when you see that you have 100 likes in 30 minutes on Instagram after your boyfriend dumped you is a similar satisfaction to a smoker having a cigarette after a long business meeting. We, as a generation, have habitually turned to devices instead of to people because devices can go to space and back in 0.45 seconds and bring back 313,000,000 results. And this causes mass impatience and an insatiable need for instant gratification.

Eek.

Realizing these things were so true about myself and seeing the collision of these two events (the nosebleed and the Facebook video) unfold in a bloody coincidence made me think more about how I’d like to spend my time and energy and how I’m actually spending my time and energy. And now, realizing that the answers to those questions are not the same, I’m deciding to take a social media hiatus.

So, if you need me, I’m probably off watching the world or reading a book somewhere, trying to keep my nose blood from staining the carpet.

That’s all for now.

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on the presidential election

Processed with VSCO with e6 preset

Now, this is not the kind of post where I shamelessly wave my political views in front of your face, like a kid with an ice cream cone, claiming my opinions as fact and my thoughts as truth. This is also not the kind of post where I give you “100 reasons” why I’d never vote for one candidate or the other, without any kind of basis for my reasoning other than that the candidate is “terrible.” I’m not here to tell you who I voted for, and I’m also not here to tell you who you should’ve voted for.

But I am here to say something that I feel needs to be said. It is regarding the election, but don’t worry, I won’t spend too much time being political.

Well, here goes nothing.

I hate the stickers. The “I’m A Georgia Voter” ones. Like the one I shamelessly selfie’d in and wore for the entire day after I cast my vote. Yes, there is a certain national pride that seemingly adheres itself to the adhesive Georgia peach, and it’s great to exercise your right, don’t get me wrong. That’s not what this is about. I was happy to stand in the poll line for two and a half hours because it meant that so many people in my area were making their voices heard. And voting is a great way to be involved with the goings-on of your nation.

I hate the stickers because it prolongs the notion that election day is the only day that American citizens need to be (or even can be) involved with the political system of their government. The stickers say that on this day, I did my part, and now I’m done. I’ve done all that I can do.

How much different would our society look if everyone wore a sticker that read “I’m a Georgia Citizen” with the same amount of pride? It’s the same concept. Your citizenship, not your ownership of identification and ability to follow some prompts on a screen, denotes your political voice.

Your United States citizenship means just as much every day of the week as it does in an election year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Let’s imagine for a sec if our founding fathers had written “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, pledge to only speak our mind and/or be involved with the growth of our country once every four years…” If they had been as committed as we are, our history textbooks would look extraordinarily different.

And I know this is my pot calling your kettle black, here. I probably don’t do enough to stay involved with what goes on in our everyday politics. Okay, I definitely don’t. But we all get super riled up, heated, and opinionated once every four years, and then two weeks after election day, it’s like nothing ever happened. The issues seem to vanish into thin air. This makes me think that if people spoke up about and studied up on political issues more often throughout the non-election years, maybe election year conversations wouldn’t be as charged. We would definitely be considerably more up-to-date on issues, and there wouldn’t be any of this breaking-news-a-week-before-election-day type bull shit. And even though one side of this “breaking news” is considerably more political than the other, I mean on both sides of the ticket.

But when it comes down to it, I think this quote by Douglas Adams sums it quite nicely.

“To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”

So let’s not be a problem, people. Let’s decide to involve ourselves–our well-being depends on it.

on summer reading

This summer has been relaxing, this summer has been fun. But most importantly, this summer has been reading whatever I want to. I know, crazy stuff.

But for those of you who care, and for those that know me, this is huge. So I’ve decided to create a Goodreads-esque review of all that this summer had in print for me. Here’s, in the order I read them, what I picked up off my ever-growing “to-read” bookshelf after eight months of dictated curriculum. This might not be drumroll worthy, but I’m asking for it anyway.

Drumroll, please…

  1. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver

For starters, this book isn’t quite a book. It’s a collection of short stories. At first glance, the stories seem curt—like they leave out detail or imagery or whatever else a Romantic would deem “good.” But when was the last time you ever described stars as “tossing their heads in sprightly dance”? Thanks, Wordsworth. Carver encapsulates in very plain language the horror of real people things—like a failing marriage or the serious injury of a son. His stories are poetry that will leave your jaw and/or your stomach on the floor whenever you even think about them. And don’t just take it from me. Take it from Robert Houston of The Nation whose review of WWTAWWTAL just so happened to be on the inside cover of my copy. He states, “Nearly 200 years ago, Wordsworth and Coleridge started a revolution when they proclaimed their aim to write in ‘the language really used by men.’ Neither of them quite achieved that. In [this collection], Raymond Carver has. And it is terrifying.” Again, thanks Wordsworth. It is because of this style that Carver becomes a true contemporary genius. And also truly mimicked. But it’s the sincerest form of flattery, right? Have you ever seen the movie Birdman and thought the title of this book sounded familiar? The titular story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is the basis and inspiration of the play put on by Michael Keaton’s character in the critically-acclaimed Iñirratu film. The entire backdrop of the Best-Picture-winning, Best-Original-Screenplay-nominated movie was written by Raymond Carver. As if this fact alone wasn’t enough for me to pick up a copy, my favorite artist/songwriter shared on his band’s episode of VH1’s “Storytellers” that Carver is a huge inspiration of his and actually directly inspired this song. Carver’s work is unlike anything else. And that’s not just coming from me. Ask anyone who’s read him.

2. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

This is the first book longer than 300 pages that I’ve read since Harry Potter. Not kidding. But after it was recommended to me by my grandma, my other grandma, and one of my best friends from high school who physically gave me her copy and said “READ IT,” I had to read it. Oh, and also it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. Trust me when I say this book has all the feels. It’ll make you cry; it’ll make you want to throw it out a moving vehicle; but most importantly, it makes you sympathize with characters you never, ever thought you would. E.g. Nazi Soldiers or blind French girls. It’s pretty much your classic genius German orphan meets blind mon chéri of a Parisian locksmith, but (PLOT TWIST!!!) there’s a precious jewel involved. Moi-haha. While reading, I found myself consciously making an effort to read more slowly. I tend to have this problem when a book gets really good. I skim paragraphs in order to find out what happens. I was, in this case, rushing the beauty of the words in exchange for plot revelation—it was that captivating and unpredictable. So, with this being said, I will probably read this novel again. Book club, anyone?

3. Beloved – Toni Morrison 

If it had been up to me, I would have never picked up this book from the shelf at Barnes & Noble. But thankfully, it wasn’t up to me. This book was on the reading list for my AP Lit class my senior year of high school. Due to some extenuating circumstances, we never read it. I decided to pick it up, almost mindlessly, before I left on a trip to Boston. On the plane ride, I sat next to a lady who seemed like she wasn’t taking anything from anyone except for what was pulsing through her Beats by Dre. You know the type. But, I pull out my copy of Beloved, and this is the dialogue that ensues.

OMG, you’re reading BELOVED?”

“…Yeah, actually. It was a required reading that was…”

OMG, you are going to struggle through this book without a discussion group. Toni Morrison is the greatest writer of her generation, and the way she addresses big issues is, like, so poignant. You totally need people to talk to about it with.”

After I got a few words into the conversation and proved I was worthy of reading a book on my own, the Columbia graduate proceeded to praise Toni Morrison and also very much pique my interest. And turns out she was right. Morrison is, like, poignant in every theme of the novel. It might be hard to delve into what I really enjoyed about the book without giving anything away, but hold onto your hats. I’m going to try.

124 was spiteful.

When you open the book, you find yourself in the middle of 1870-something Cincinnati, Ohio. The first few pages introduce seven “characters,” so to speak. The first is a “spite” that haunts the house of 124 Bluestone Rd. The second is Sethe, a runaway slave and newly appointed heir to the haunted estate. Sethe has one remaining daughter named Denver. These two are the only two still living in 124. Next, you meet Baby Suggs who, unfortunately, is already dead. But don’t worry, she’s still an integral part of the story. Howard and Buglar are then introduced as Sethe’s sons who ran away once the “spite” broke the bathroom mirror and left two tiny handprints in the cake. And finally, enter Paul D, a man who lived on the same plantation as Sethe before she escaped.

The story is dedicated to “Sixty Million and More” and holds nothing back.

I hesitate in saying this book is my favorite, only because the things inside it make me cringe. But this, simultaneously, is why it’s my favorite. It evokes in me complex emotions I had no idea existed: hatred mixed with pity and fear, captivation mixed with repulsion.

If you want a real-life ghost story, this one’s for you.

4. This Side of Paradise – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This novel, Fitzgerald’s first ever published story, is considered one of the most brilliant first novels ever written in the history of American Literature, and it is rumored as being slightly autobiographical. Maybe more than slightly. The 1920 story follows “egotist” Amory Blaine from his first memories to his assumedly present self. Amory transforms from a self-absorbed child to an still-entitled bigger person who realizes responsibility, to an extent. Spoiler alert: childhood is paradise. Growing up and also getting older is on the other side. Amory is writing from semi-adulthood, hence “This Side of Paradise.” Ergo, the other side. Ergo, not the side you want to be on. There’s also a Garden of Eden metaphor in there somewhere. This book shows you heartbreak, brilliance, and real-life pre-1920s.

In addition to consisting of beautiful and almost poetic prose, This Side of Paradise is kind of an eerie insight into our generation. Think about it. In what year were you born? I’ll give you a hint as to where I’m going with this: F. Scott was born in 1896. And I’m not talking about the year of the first olympics, folks. Well, I am. But that’s not the point. I’m talking about how most of my friends were born in 1996. As in Scott’s one-hundredth b-day. Weird, right?

We will be the same age during the 2020s as his generation was during the 1920s.

So, due to its 1920 publication date, when you read this book, it’s almost like you’re reading about the future.

Or going Back to the Future…

Wait what?

Tenth of December – George Saunders

Another compilation of short stories, like little book-ends to my summer. Literally. Somebody stop me when the puns get too much. 

I came across this book while in Portland, OR. I found it in a quaint bookshop called Powell’s that is as long as a city block. Needless to say, I died and went to heaven. And when I say “I,” I really mean the women two aisles over from me who passed out and left the store in an ambulance. With a shop this giant, the staff does a tremendous job making sure no one gets lost. They have store maps, employees everywhere, and “Staff Pick” tags on books sometimes as many as three per shelf and six or eight per row. As I was perusing the fiction section, I came across a tag that said “DO NOT LEAVE THIS STORE WITHOUT THIS BOOK.” So, naturally, I picked it up.

Turns out, it’s one of the more intriguing/captivating/strange-but-in-a-really-good-way books I have ever read. The stories tackle huge social issues, but not in a judgmental way. Saunders’ dry humor, unprecedented point of view/character development, and stream-of-character-conscious will entice you, and the best part about it all is that you have no idea just how enticed you are until the story ends and you snap firmly back to reality, or what you think is reality. The stories are just crazy enough for you to think what the heck, this can never happen (psh), but also just real enough for you to be like WHAT THE HECK THIS CAN NEVER HAPPEN! You know?

Read this book. It’s important.

Well, I hope this post makes you want to read a book, or at least think about reading a book. Have any questions or suggestions for what I should read next? Shoot me an email at the address in the “Contact” tab.

Until next time.

on college

I’ve tried to maintain my blog as being conceptual, but this personal post of mine practically wrote itself.

I’l try and keep the cliches to a minimum—by that I mean no “open letters,” no “dears” or “odes,” and especially no “highlight” reels (if it lasts more than ten minutes, I hate to say it, but it’s for sure not a highlight reel, it’s just a reel). Sorry to those I’ve already offended.

Freshman year is crucial. Even the word itself speaks volumes to its importance. Even though it’s not very gender neutral (“freshhuman”…who’s with me?), it sure does the job. Fresh, according to my good pals Merriam and Webster, means not previously known. Boy, does that describe it well. I had no idea what to even expect from a school year away from home, and as it turns out, I had never previously known what it would be like. But, subliminally, I knew exactly what it would be like. And, humbly bragging, that’s why I absolutely slayed my freshman year of college. I mean I just couldn’t have done anything any better. I never struggled, I never questioned anything, and I sure as heck never cried even once. This is why I’m here—to tell you how to do it. You literally couldn’t do it better than I did it. You’re welcome.

First thing’s first, registering for classes — schedule all your toughest classes for the same semester. They might say to you, “Maggie,” or they might not because your name is not Maggie. But they might say to you, “You can’t possibly read 2,684 pages in just one semester!” And you’ll say back to them, “I know!” And, “But watch me try really hard!” This is what I did. So be like me. Take three really hard, really involved classes simultaneously. Spreading stuff out over the four years you have is for wimps, I promise. Try it even first semester; easing in, shmeasing in! Making friends can wait. Take hard classes!

Second thing’s second, dining halls — I maybe stepped into a dining once this semester. Snelling? That’s not a word, much less a place. I never went there. Psh. Take advantage of really expensive restaurants on the outskirts of campus. You know, the ones that people with full-time jobs go to. People will try and convince you to go to one of those cheap, open-all-night places that sells corndogs as a side item. Take it from me, these places are for uncultured freshman fifteeners (okay, half of this is true). Don’t be seen there. Or with a $2.99 milkshake of any kind.

Third thing’s third, roommates — room with someone the exact opposite of you. I mean the literal antithesis, arch nemesis type. No soul mates allowed here, folks. This way, there’s no chance of a relationship to develop. There’s no growth, no pillow talk, no “sweet dream”s, no vent sessions (I mean just keep it bottled up like a normal human???), no movie nights, no sweet mirror notes, no unpaid help with homework, no ordering cookies at 2 am, and especially no hugs or shoulders to cry on. We don’t cry, anyway. This makes move out day a breeze. No tears will be shed, no feelings will be involved because what kind of sick-o enjoys feeling things? And I’m also fairly certain talking to your roommate is the dining hall’s way to lure you in. Don’t fall for the large university trickery.

There you have it. The three most important things to remember for your freshman year. If you keep these things up habitually for the first couple of weeks, despite the temptations to eat the food your parents have already paid for and to talk to the person you live with, freshman year will be absolutely baller.

And also remember: your RA is there to get you in trouble and introducing yourself to your professor is pointless!

Over & out.

on being alone / the art of the chopstick

Over the past business week, I’ve been resting. Partially needed, partially medically induced. This period of rest and literal inability to do anything has forced me to be introspective. Ahem, I mean, more introspective than I already am, which is saying a whole lot. I can think about my actions, like really delve deep, because thinking doesn’t involve moving. How splendid.

So here’s a story.

About 36 hours after the extraction of my impacted third molars, I was sick of eating non-solid food and also sick of being inside my house. I had exhausted the episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix the night before, and I had spent the day trying to find a pot big enough to cook the box of macaroni and cheese my mom had bought me. So I ordered Chinese food for dinner. What else was there for me to do? I got dressed, grabbed my keys, and started out the door. It wasn’t until I was searching for my credit card in my purse that I realized my mom had my driver’s license. The oral surgeon needed to make sure I was truly Margaret Dryden and that a weird, sleazy teenage girl with a tooth fascination wasn’t trying to get her wisdom teeth out in my place. Oh, and did I mention that the surgeon asked me as I was going under if he was “taking out all four”? Like he wasn’t certain and was asking just to make sure? Alright. Long story still long (my apologies), my mom had my driver’s license due to my incapacitation post-surgery. Here’s the conversation that went down in my head after this discovery had been made. Or it could have been out loud, I talk to myself more often than I’d admit.

Okay. So you can’t get pulled over. It would be fine if you got pulled over at any other time. Now, it really matters that you don’t. Just drive really carefully, you’ll be fine.

But what if the person working at the restaurant asks for my ID?

For Thai Spicy Chicken? It’s not like you’re going to the package store.

Alright, well, I’ll bring my student ID. It has a photo and a signature…same thing, right?

With my student ID in hand, I walked out the door and got into the car. I drove the whole ten minutes almost forgetting I had no source of legal documentation that I was allowed to be operating a motor vehicle. It wasn’t until I was at the cash register that I remembered things might not work out the way I had intended.

I walked inside, and I paid $12.99 for some chicken and rice without a hitch. Success! I grabbed the brown paper bag and asked the nice foreign man if he had put chopsticks in it. They’re fun, and you really get a feel for a culture by the amount of practice and skill they put into eating.

“No, how many pairs do you need?”

I reply, “Uh, two, probably.”

Wait, what? Two pairs of chopsticks? I have been at home alone all day, and all of the food I just bought is, in fact, for me. I have eaten alone, gone out to eat alone, been served food alone more times than I can remember. Why am I in this particular moment ashamed to admit to a man and an empty Chinese restaurant that I am not sharing this food with anyone? Was it because I was flustered and ID-less? Or self-conscious of my post-surgery swollen cheeks (which really aren’t that swollen)? I have no idea. But for some reason, I knowingly and blatantly lied to a man-I-don’t-even-know’s face to maintain a facade of not being alone. Even barely after the fact I realized what a weird thing I had done. Right after the words left my mouth, I was purely confused. It was probably written all over my face. And also, who on earth “probably” needs a pair of chopsticks? It’s like I was trying to put forth some sort of mystery, like there might be a man in my life, but there also might not be. He might not want to use chopsticks; he might be more of a traditional fork-and-knife kind of guy. But I’m not sure, so I’ll PROBABLY NEED TWO PAIRS.

All the way home I thought about this true slip of the tongue. In a very simple conversation with a person I will definitely never see again, I was afraid of admitting, or maybe just looking like, I was alone. There is something deeper here. Something underneath a layer that I’ve dug up accidentally. Do I care more about appearances than I thought? Is there a certain social standard I’ve set for myself to which I don’t even think I measure up? Does “measuring up” mean having someone to take Chinese food to?

Maybe this is just the medication taking things too seriously, but alas, I am alone. And any guy I end up with better like to use chopsticks, none of that “probably” stuff.

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Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

on tanning for a purpose

I had a tough realization this week.

Around this time a few years ago, I went to my neighborhood pool (as you do when you live in a neighborhood with a pool). Now, “Chaco tans” were becoming a weird fad about then, if my memory serves me correctly. Which it does because the fact I just stated is crucial to the story I’m about to tell. Anyway, a Chaco tan: a tan on one’s foot that comes with continued wearing of the shoe brand “Chaco.” This apparently is a signal of outdoorsy-ness, the true testament to one’s granola nature. Crunch, crunch. And it also apparently looks pretty cool. All striped and criss-crossy like it is. Now, this tan is supposed to come from the use of the Chaco for all intents and purposes of the Chaco. I went ahead and took the liberty of doing some research on the Chaco brand. Their slogan is “Fit For Adventure” and their mission statement is as follows.

“Chaco creates premium footwear and accessories for the outdoor-minded. We make simple, versatile products that provide superior comfort and durability. We believe life is enriched through outdoor adventure, travel and community.”

Very adventure-minded, wouldn’t you say? Here’s a screenshot of their lookbook to prove my point.chaco

Climbing things, beaches, rocks–all of things things involve some sort of adventure. Now, would you say it is very adventurous to sit by the pool in a lounge chair with nothing on but a bathing suit and Chacos, presumably for the purpose of achieving that all so coveted Chaco tan? This for sure spoils the point and the nature of the Chaco tan (pun definitely intended here, just to clear the air). Where’s your waterfall, your mountain, or even your trail? Nowhere to be seen, not even within a ten mile radius. This is the girl I saw at my neighborhood pool.

But like I said before, I had a terrible epiphany.

Over spring break, I went on a service trip in the Caribbean. Very warm, very ocean breezy. Here are some pictures.

On these types of trips, I like to bring my digital watch, if you didn’t get the picture (also, very intended). It’s waterproof, durable, and the perfect alarm clock. The alarm is a subtle “Get up, sweetheart,” as opposed to the “GET UP, YOU LAZY EXPLETIVE” of an actual alarm clock. It gets the job done and is quite polite about it.

While on the trip, the watch quite obviously did not leave my wrist. Thus, I developed a nice little watch tan, it being the beginning of March and my arms not having seen the light of day since the past September. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to wear watches. I have a couple of analogs that I like to rotate between. But, after this week in March, I found myself almost-subconsciously wearing a watch in order to maintain this humorous wrist tan I had developed.

My mind wandered this week to the girl with the Chacos. Am I the same as her, this symbol of fad-ism I have for so long resisted and regarded as too conventional and conformist? My mind cannot rest. If I keep wearing a watch, am I wearing it for its purpose of time-telling, or for a selfish purpose of conformity? Or caring too much? Or some other reason that doesn’t match with my persona?

Please, if you know somebody who is dealing with this, give him/her my information. No one goes through this alone alone, not on my watch.

Wait…

on the diversity of music

*written while watching a pre-recorded hour of Beck at Austin City Limits*

Recently, I have found myself in musical conversations. And I don’t mean the kind where you talk about whether you’re team Glinda or team Elphaba. These one-too-many-to-not-write-a-post-about-it convos have really got me thinking about the infinite diversity of music. Two people could have the exact same taste in music, and here’s how the dialogue would fall:

“Hey! I hear you like Fall Out Boy! Have you heard Panic! At The Disco’s new album?”

“Yeah, I have! It’s great. Do you listen to All Time Low?”

“Yeah, bro, of course! Do you listen to *insert unheard of, kind of punk-ish pop-rock band here*?”

“Wait, no. I’ve never heard of them.”

Ding, ding, ding. The infinite diversity of music. There is something for everybody, there is always something to share, and (the best of all) there is always something great you haven’t heard yet.

With this idea becoming tangible in my brain, a coinciding idea also took hold: diversity in music creates diversity in its purpose. In other words, different kinds of music do different things. Mulling over this idea made me realize that pretty much every single album by every single artist does something entirely different because the artist is creating for him/herself. Whether he/she is processing a breakup, attempting to speak for a larger group of people, or writing without thinking anyone would ever read the words, much less have the words sung back to him/her one day, the artist is doing something never been done before because it is being done by him/her, a unique individual, a direct copy of nothing.

For the past year or so now, I’ve been trying to build my musical repertoire in order to avoid saying the one thing I despise: “Oh, yeah. I know that one song by them. What’s it called again?” This response, in my opinion, does a huge injustice to the artist after he/she/they have slaved on an album for the past anywhere between 12 to 36 to 48 months. So I’m a huge proponent of the album. And a not-so-huge proponent of the “hit single” culture of today. There. I said it.

With all of this being said, to me, the purpose of music has a lot to do with the album as a whole. To demonstrate this, here are three albums that I believe encompass a whole lotta purpose. Keep reading for your potential new favorite music. Stop reading if you hate expanding your mind.

  1. Beck – Morning Phase

I know what you’re saying. “Beck. Hm. That sounds familiar.” You’re darn right it does. It’s because you tweeted hate at him that one time for winning Album of the Year in 2015 over Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé. Let me refute you real quick. Name another artist who plays multiple instruments, produces, composes, and writes his own music, has been famous for longer than you’ve been alive but is younger than your mother, and is known worldwide by his first name. Oh, and two of his LPs are published in the Rolling Stone’s list of  500 greatest albums of all-time. That’s what I thought. Morning Phase demonstrates change. Beck himself says in an interview with Rolling Stone the album is about the existence of “…this feeling of tumult and uncertainty…about coming out of that – how things do get better.” Even further than that, however, Morning Phase demonstrates the change and transformation of Beck from his early days of fame until today. Before it was released, this album was placed number two on Stereogum’s list of most anticipated albums of 2014. Beck was a huge deal before winning any Album of the Year Grammys to prove it. He has recorded 9 official studio albums in his lifetime, his first recorded in 1994. Even though his first album has only one relatively well-known song, this relatively well-known song is the number one most played of his on Spotify with, get this, over 40 million plays. No, Beck. You are certainly not a loser. In addition this first hit is classified on Wikipedia as “experimental hip hop,” and I think that’s hilarious. But nonetheless, in comparison to the acoustic, mellow tones of Morning Phase, “Loser” could have been created by a completely different mind. That is the beauty of Beck evolving. But the key is this: he doesn’t lose his artistry. The production value doesn’t depreciate, and his vocals, wow, his vocals. They’re unreal. Beck can grow and change as an artist and do it well, and that is why he is important. Plus he’s the cutest human to ever exist. beck-2014-press-650x430

2. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

I fell in love with The 1975 when I first heard Chocolate on my Sirius-XM radio. I consider myself the introducer of their “not a pop band” pop music to my (at the time) little bubble of lovers of good music.  This sophomore album, albeit the title a mouthful, is tremendous. I have never come across a pop band with a sound as distinct yet as wide as The 1975’s. And this album demonstrates that among other things. The frontman, Matty Healy, wanted, and succeeded in my opinion, to create a sound that is The 1975’s. Taking inspiration from artists like Michael Jackson and Prince, the band evokes in you a nostalgia for an era that you never knew (considering the majority of their fanbase is teenage fangirls (not including me (ugh, who am I kidding. I hate that this includes me))). Another aspect of this album that I enjoy is the subtle allusion to the band’s self-titled first album. The 74-minute journey commences with a redone track from the first album titled “The 1975.” How fitting. The subsequent tracks contain lyrics which are direct responses or growths from the first album. It’s like a little puzzle to solve for the very dedicated lyrical people. And if you know anything about me, the previous sentence just described me in thirteen words. The 1975 have created more than a sound; they have created a vibe, and that is why they are important. They can remix a song that is entirely not their own and make it sound as if Matty Healy is behind the mic. (Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9CdTRL3n70) Also, you’ll swoon over Matty’s accent and intellect. Here’s his original poem. Read it out loud with the thickest British accent you can muster.the1975

3. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Okay, so I can’t take credit for the discovery of this gem of an album or the discovery of Father John Misty, but I can take credit for doing more research on it than what is socially accepted. If you know what’s good for you, you know FJM as one of two people: either as the front man of J. Tillman or as the drummer of Fleet Foxes. Über talented. Über stereotypical tortured artist. Über in love with his wife, Emma.  Honeybear is a social critique, a love story, and it’s without a doubt meant to be listened from start to finish. I love albums with a storyline, and this one does it better than most, detailing every aspect of being in love without forgetting the part about the people falling in love being socially cynical and unsure of why humanity acts the way it does. These two themes of love and social critique marry and intertwine in the lyrical aspect of this album–you cannot find one without the other. FJM, or Tillman for our purposes, takes on a number of personas to depict this marriage throughout the course of these 11 songs which I have listened to roughly 32 consecutive times today. Tillman the satirist demonstrates poignant social critique coupled with fear of relational commitment in “Bored in the USA” (“I’ve got a lifetime to consider all the ways / I grow more disappointing to you as my beauty warps and fades”). Tillman the jealous boyfriend/ladies’ man paints a picture of an old Western bar scene with the twangy sounds of “Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow” (“On the road again / For months at a time / It doesn’t take half that long for men about town to forget what’s mine”). And Tillman the EDM-induced separatist demonstrates his ironic separateness from his lover because of the American obsession of “strange devices” in “True Affection” (“When can we talk with a face? / Instead of using all these strange devices”). FJM may hate the conformity and effects of technology this world has to offer (watch this video if you don’t believe me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5_6EUJNjCQ&feature=youtu.be), but he loves you, honeybear. Josh Tillman is a great American poet in disguise, and that is why he is important. (Also, “When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” is so important.)josh-emma-tillman-1024x680

So there you have it. Music with growth. Music with sound. Music with a story. Music with purpose.

Also, to be clear, I’m not that music prude. I could get down to something good by Taylor Swift. Or at least respect that you get down to that kind of thing.

I also really enjoy 80s pop and Kendrick Lamar.

If you ever want to musically chat, hit me up on Facebook, Instagram, or the email address in the “about” tab!

And in the uplifting words of Father John Misty:

“No one really ever knows you, and life is brief.”

Signing off.

on the theory of everything

Imagine a tenth grade girl. Imagine her painfully self-conscious and unsure. Imagine her having no idea who she is or what she wants but constantly surrounded by confidence and seemingly concrete ideals. 297300_467434893274847_478982419_nHello, it’s me.

It’s also a horrendous solo shot in Ephesus, Turkey (correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you can get more simultaneously cool and un-cool than this).

It’s hard being a high school girl. Everything’s dramatic, and you’re not quite sure what to believe.

Tenth grade was a particularly crucial year for me, looking back. It really dictated who my friends were to become and what things became of interest to me. But most importantly, it was during this year that I fell in love with literature and the English language.

In tenth grade at my high school, we studied American Literature. The way the course was structured, my teacher brought us through the all of the world views of American people from Puritanism to Postmodernism. Oh, and another minute detail: my teacher was so fresh out of college and an absolute dream. But that’s beside the point. (or is it?)

What really struck me about this course was the swing that world views take: when major world events happen (i.e. wars or genocides or the invention of the camera), the ideologies and sentiments of the entire American culture (as demonstrated by the writers of any given time) completely shift.

For example: the Realism to Modernism shift. The realist movement aimed to demonstrate events, people, or things exactly how they are. Think Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with its use of the “real” vernacular of the times and the 300 page description of a raft floating down the Mississippi. Absolutely riveting. The worldview shift to Modernism came with the invention of the portable, easy-to-use camera coupled with World War I. Because the use of the camera became so widespread, people captured the war in its reality. And it wasn’t pretty. This caused people to lose faith in conventional institutions (and even convention in and of itself). So they revolted from it. Hence the Modernist movement.

Now, what does this have to do with a sixteen-year-old girl? This proved to me that no matter what time period, people have always questioned things. No matter what the circumstances, there was/is always fluctuation with the way people think. In other words, people in history, writers specifically, had no idea what was happening around them, so I wasn’t alone. I found solace in this. And thus began my sweet love for words, philosophy, and literary movements.

Fast-forward to my first upper-level literature class in college: the semester-long comparison of Modernism and Postmodernism. Talk about a breath of fresh air. As an assignment for this class, we listened to a podcast of a lecture given by Alan Watts on the Indian philosophy of maya. This was my first real glimpse into Eastern philosophy, and it was about as total immersion as you can get, considering the podcast was three and a half hours long. Even still and all longevity aside, the philosophy was so thought-provoking, the content so applicable, and Watts’s accent so endearingly British that I couldn’t get enough. (This being said, all ideas/principles to follow are taken directly from Watts’s “Reality, Art, and Illusion” lecture.)

The basic principle of maya has three relatively succinct themes which I will try and explain as precisely and concisely as possible. Buckle your seat belts. Your brain is about to never think the same way again.

Elements of maya:

One. The world is wiggly. Think about it. Natural things (think leaves, a bubbling stream of water, the Milky Way) are not perfectly straight. The curves and wiggles of a human body and brain are undeniable; however, the human brain has a tough time making sense of all the wiggliness surrounding and even composing it. So what does it do? It imposes straightness and order onto the wiggly in order to understand it. Watts uses a constellation example: stars are in the sky in a seemingly random assortment; it’s human brains that see patterns in the wiggliness of the stars and create constellations. Constellations, therefore, only exist as a form of human approximation of the world or consciousness (making sense of nonsensical things). In other words, the Big Dipper looks nothing like a dipper from anywhere else in the entire universe. Humans also do this in the form of Calculus, language, television, and other approximations. We cut up wiggly into processable bits of straight.

Two. Humans are under the illusion that these self-created, processable bits are separate and independent from each other. In reality, all of these cut up bits are part of the same cosmos, and human culture is the one dictating the importance of some bits over other bits. We humans are under the colossal illusion that we are living under our own skin and are separate from everything else. We deem ourselves internal and the rest external. Watts argues “our real self is the whole cosmos–we are all part of what the cosmos is doing. As soon as we are taught words–which are bits of consciousness–this idea disappears.” We think of ourselves as creating the cosmos and not the cosmos creating us.

Three. Magic. The magic of the universe is making things appear to be not as they seem. The example of this is the drama, the play. Actors are, for a wage, hired to create an illusion. People as the audience pay to be deluded, to see an actor pretend to be what he is not. For example, if you go to see Hamlet performed, you want to see an actor portraying Hamlet to the best of his (or her) ability. You don’t go to a play to have the actors take off their wigs and makeup on stage–you go to be fooled or deceived for a while. And things are not as they seem, just as in reality (what we’ve cut up into straight are holistically wiggly).

These ideas in and of themselves are mind-blowing. But what I found most insightful (and kind of a justification for things I already practice) are the things Watts claimed as extensions of maya.

How do you know you exist? Ponder this question for a moment. Is it because you are composed of atoms? Or that people perceive you? Or maybe because you can touch things or feel the stigma of the actions of others? In thinking about your own existence, you become aware of everything in the universe that isn’t you. In investigating the “internal” world, you become aware of the “external.” In this idea is proof that the universe is one. And here we are, thinking we are separate, “chewing up animals and creating death in every direction.” Watts claims that “the pretense of you just being you and you have all these problems…” is complete bull shit! Which it is, from this perspective. What I claim as “me” and “internal” is just as external as the next “me” which is you. Got it? Good. Now here’s where things get interesting.

You might be thinking, well then why are all humans under this giant illusion? The answer is simple: skin. We have this container of our insides called our epidermis that physically separates our being from the external world. We walk around on two feet independently from the ground. We see this as freedom or separateness, when in reality, we couldn’t walk if there was no ground. Watts says, “walk up a hill, the hill walks you up it.” Our skin is deceptive because it is a seeming boundary between “me” and the external world. We have this idea of what human beings look like. If you look at our insides or at our bodies through a microscope, you wouldn’t call what you saw a human being. Just as the universe is collectively everything all at once and not individual pieces and parts or insides. “You are prejudiced if you think that a human being only looks like what is enveloped in skin,” claims Watt.

Now, this theory is seriously applicable in regards to my life. (And maybe yours, too. Who knows? We are all connected.) Because I am everything and everything is me, my schedule and my problems become petty. They don’t become nonexistent, just interpreted from a different standpoint. From this point of view, I then can focus on things that aren’t me. I become deeply connected with the cosmos. I become un-isolated from within my body and connected with the entirety. I am the galaxies and the oceans. I become aware of the reality of the universe, and I am it. How freakin’ cool.

Now these theories don’t explain everything. Everything could only be explained if there was another everything to rub itself up against. Like a fish can never know water or the tip of a finger can never know what it feels like. But these things prove that we are deep beings, that we are connected beings, that there is a common thread in everyone and everything. Individuality and uniqueness become connectedness and awareness. I become deep and complex and something more than myself.

And what else could an eighteen-year-old girl dream of?

on why reading is good for the soul

There have been very few instances in my short 18 years of living that have constituted pure and utter boredom. I could count those times, most likely, on one hand. The most recent instance, however, is this: home for the holidays.

Why on earth, I ask myself, do most colleges and universities promote total immersion into the atmosphere of home away from home and then proceed to give students a whole month in their actual home for the holiday break? I thought you’ve helped me move on from this phase of life, state college or university! Haven’t I grown up? There’s nothing left for me here at home! Old friends are nice, sometimes, but you’ve given me new ones! Better ones! Ones that I have yet to meet!

All negative ranting aside, I’ve been purely and utterly bored over the course of the 30 sum-odd days I’ve been home. In order to pass this disgustingly superfluous time, I made it my goal to visit every bookstore and music store–new and used–in my area. Praise baby Jesus that most of the Christmas envelopes addressed with my name came with Ben Franklin inside.

My trek throughout the metro-Atlanta area consisted of only one chain bookstore: the tried and true, overpriced and underwhelming Barnes & Noble. But here, for a staggering $24.95, is where my holiday quest breached the ordinary to find the pot of gold, the diamond in the rough, the extraordinary book that makes the magic happen.

Big Magic, that is.

This 273-paged wonder, its full title Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, is written by critically-acclaimed author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert. This book has been tearing me up. Not just to shreds, but to tiny little pieces, soon (hopefully) to be picked up by the wind of ideas and inspiration and tossed into the ocean of creative living, salty and terrifying though it may be.

Throughout the course of the book, Gilbert makes several claims about creativity and inspiration (and the relationship these things have with humans), none of which I can recreate with the same effect. So enjoy this quote from the one and only, Big Magic.

I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels–that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place–that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt–that’s what I call Big Magic.

Wow. Thank you, universe. You are too kind. But get this–that’s not all! The universe also gives humans access to its ever-flowing whirlpool of ideas. According to Gilbert, ideas are inhabiters of the earth, the same as humans. Ideas don’t have bodies or forms, but they have a consciousness and a will to be made tangible. “And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual,” says Gilbert. And, boy, do I believe this. And ideas are where Big Magic really comes into play.

Gilbert spends most of the beginning chapters convincing her readers that this theory of ideas, swirling above our heads, waiting to be manifested through the brain of a human comrade, really exists. She tells crazy stories of poets feeling an idea quite literally rush through them, the chosen soul hoping he/she gets to a pen and paper quickly enough, impossible events involving ideas transposing through a kiss, and other “freaky, old-timey, voodoo-style Big Magic”examples.

But as for me, I didn’t need convincing. I’ve seen Big Magic play out in my creative life right before my very eyes, clear as day.

A few weeks ago, maybe even a few months ago, I did some Instagram soul-searching. I love Instagram. I love pictures and photography, but even more than that, I love Instagram as a platform to encourage people. I’ve seen people do this every now and again, every once and awhile posting a picture of another person with a feel-good caption. But I thought, “Why don’t I make this an every-post thing? Making my Instagram less about me and more about others?” But I did nothing with this idea. I didn’t even notice it slip out of my brain and into the brain of a close friend.

Fast-forward. Two weeks ago. I went on a road trip with two of my close friends, Mark and Claire (one of whom is the close friend described in the preceding paragraph). We all brought our cameras and were snapping pics of the expansive view of South Georgia and of each other. It was such a fun day.

Fast-forward again. Last week. The booth of a Willy’s (not as good as Chipotle, but a far-off second) after an afternoon spent downtown snapping pics of Mark and another friend. An idea is born between Mark and me: an Instagram picture series based on people. Or #thepeopleseries for short. After a hiatus of a few weeks, the idea was reborn in my mind with one of the friends from the road trip, Mark. The name, the People Series, came to my mind as a title right off the bat, but Mark and I spitballed other names for around an hour. No joke. We wanted the name to be perfect and something that everyone could get behind. But we settled on #thepeopleseries, and I am so glad we did.

I posted my first of many #thepeopleseries that night: a picture of Claire. The other friend that I had taken the 6 hour road trip with, the only friend who wasn’t there when #thepeopleseries idea had taken flight.

Not ten minutes after I had posted the picture did I get a text from Claire. The actual text of the text was this: “Yooo that’s so weird about your people series thing because I was planning on doing a thing called #TheSheIsSeries where I paint a picture with the words ‘She Is..’ and then an adjective describing whatever subject I’m talking about. I wanted to do it to empower girls, and I’d have people send me submissions. Would it be weird if I still did it?”

Whoa. There is no coincidence here. There was some Big Magic buzzing around the heads of those that road tripped to south Georgia that day. The fact that both of our ideas even have the word “series” in them is proof enough. The three people that went on the trip founded two movements, both encouraging people on a social media that has a very self-promoting culture. Both with hashtags. And both as a series of pictures. I am so glad that Claire wasn’t in that Willy’s booth to be discouraged in her own encouraging, creative endeavors and that two movements were born instead of one.

But I could have taken this non-coicidence very differently had it not been for Big Magic. I could have been selfish, claiming that Claire had stolen my idea. When in reality, the idea almost left me, and almost the same idea (with a few differences, here and there) had sunk into the brain of Claire. On a 6 hour road trip. Where we all encouraged each other. Go figure.

If this isn’t proof that ideas are alive and looking for the next available human to partner with, I don’t know what is.

Thank you, universe, for not only providing views like these but also hidden jewels deep within us and ideas floating around us.

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