Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and Christmas today got me thinking, along with millions of other Americans every year, what I have to be thankful for. 

Spend one week in a sorority house and you'll think we're all a bunch of deprived, miserable, sad, little girls. We complain about unfair teachers, the skank that stole someone's boyfriend, or the three pounds we gained that day. Don't mind the Louis Vuitton purses, Tory Burch ballet flats, and various designer dresses hanging out of every closet. It's crazy how easily we forget how truly blessed we are. I wish I could make everyone see the more important things in life, but unfortunately I think that attitude is something that begins at a very young age. All I have to do is look around at the kids I babysit in Buckhead whose mothers barely spend any time with them but make up for it with toddler-sized cashmere sweaters, matching Lilly outfits and anything else their little hearts don't even know they desire yet. Today's youth are taught to be thankful for material things and yet still aren't happy once they have them.

In today's society, it's so easy to get caught up in the "what have you done for me lately?" mindset. When a friend is short with me or a my boyfriend doesn't love the dress I spent 200 bucks on, I find myself feeling insecure, critical and defensive. When I start to feel those nasty thoughts creeping in, it's helpful to think of all the wonderful things that happened to me that month, that week or even that day. I know it sounds cheesy, but it really puts things in perspective. 

In light of this, one of my New Year's resolutions is to be more thankful for the deeper things in my life. More thankful for my health, more thankful for my loving family, and more thankful for all the opportunities that stand in front of me, that so many other 20 somethings don't have simply because of the color of their skin, their parents' income, or the country they were born in.

Lesson Learned: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." -- Oprah Winfrey 

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm a Poet and I Didn't Know It

Ok I lied. I kind of already knew it. I used to love to write poetry when I was younger, and some of it wasn't half bad. But then as soon as I grew out of my preteen-angst years and became a well adjusted high school social butterfly, I found I didn't have as much to write about.

Well if it didn't completely shock me to find out Georgia Tech had a poetry program, I don't know what would. So, now I'm part of this kind of amazing poetry program at Tech, taught by this semi-famous poet, Thomas Lux (look him up! He's so talented: ), and I'm writing poetry again and turns out non-angsty me is pretty good at it too.

Now I know poetry evokes very strong feelings in people -- as in they either love it or hate it. I happen to have always been on the loving it side, something I credit to my scholarly father. For birthdays, Christmases, graduations and anniversaries, my dad always writes and gives poems to members of our family, along with the expected material gift. The amazing thing is, the poem often outdoes the jewelry, knick-knack or whatever store-bought gift is given. The true gift in my dad's poems is this: he can tell us through poetry what is so hard for him to say in person.

One thing I've discovered this year is that there is a huge leap from liking to read poetry to being able to write it. I've learned important terms such as the "dense thingness of poetry" and that you never get credit for what you don't write, meaning that no one will ever appreciate the fact that you cut a tacky cliche out in the third draft of a poem.

Apparently I've been doing my homework correctly though, because in the last class of the year, I read a poem I'd written just like any other class. And just like any other class my professor ripped it to shreds, but then something magical happened: he said that once I re-worked my poem, he wanted me to send it off to be published. Publish a poem? Me? I don't think I've ever been so excited to call my dad about something that happened in school. It even beat the time I found out I was going to pass computer science. 

So now I've started to collect some of my poems to be sent off and I'm being pretty secretive about it. Even though some of the greatest poets have been produced in the South, college students, members of the Greek community in particular (as in fraternities and sororities -- not the race of people), don't seem to appreciate the art of poetry. The most commonly asked question I get when people find out I'm taking a poetry class is, "Does it all, like, rhyme?" Heaven help them. 

Anyways, I've decided to sprinkle in a few of my own poems throughout this blog, along with the regular posts. Here is the one that caught my teacher's eye:


Pictures of curly brown hair, turned to grey, to white,
limp mink stoles with little claws and noses
still attached, miniature spoons that bounce light
off of their handles laden with roses.
All part of my grandmother's estate,
but it looks more like a junk sale. I watch
as people pick through it. My father shows up late –
it's hard for him to be here long – and sighs,
I remember that teapot. The young woman
promptly puts it down. I want
to say, It's not your fault. My father, angry
at ghosts, looks around at the goods. His gaunt
eyes betray him and I see it:
the dolls, the books, and his uncertainty.

Lesson Learned: "Poetry is what gets lost in translation." -- Robert Frost 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When the Leaves Begin to Change...

What is it about Fall that's so magical? Maybe it's forgetting the craziness of summer, or being able to wear cashmere, or having an excuse to snuggle up to someone. In all honesty, I'm a warm weather girl (like any good Southerner). My dad's Minnesota tolerance for cold was not passed on to me. But there's something about the colors of Fall and the hint of holidays that just gets to me. Plus the Gingerbread lattes at Starbucks don't hurt either! Well don't hurt anything except my hips, that is.

Normally I absolutely dread the cold but this year I've decided to develop a new approach: whenever I'm walking through campus, hands stuffed in the pockets of my jacket, neck buried in my scarf, I look around me, appreciate the rich colors and the clear blue of the sky, and -- here's the most important part -- I pretend I'm in New York. Don't tell my fraternity boys! I'm pretty sure they would disown me on the grounds of liking anything above the Mason-Dixon line. No matter how much I love Atlanta and love the South, there's just something about pretending I'm strolling down Park Avenue or Greenwich Village that makes me feel a little tougher and the air temperature a little more bearable. I mean, true New Yorkers would consider what I call cold to be downright pleasant.

One of my favorite things about fall is the change in style. By the the time September rolls around, I'm thoroughly sick of wearing maxi-dresses, sandals and jean shorts and ready to embrace the cozy fashion associated with cold weather.

Here are some of the things that are inspiring me this fall:

One can never have too many sweaters. There are an endless array of styles, but cardigans like this are my favorite right now. I love the colors and print of this one -- perfect to throw on with some jeans and boots and always feel good in. This gorgeous cardi can be found at Anthropologie.

Glitter. I don't know if it's the dancer (those costumes always had so many damn rhinestones on them!) or the secret diva in me, but I adore all the sparkly dresses, shoes, watches and everything else that are so popular right now. They just scream party-time and what good college student doesn't love a party?

The Archive Leather Boot
The one thing I love more than sweaters are boots, and these are just so classic. I love the rich reddish brown color; it makes them wearable with brown or black. No boot is ever the same to me and every one fufills a different purpose. I'm constantly on the search for my next pair (it's really becoming unhealthy; I have more boots than anyone would ever need) and they're definitely at the top of my Christmas list this year. These beauties are from Madewell, a.k.a. boot heaven.

Vintage lace is so delicate yet interesting. It can be ladylike or sexy, old fashioned or trendy. From long-forgotten wedding dresses, to my grandmother's gloves, to a pretty negligee, lace is incredibly romantic to me -- it tells a story, especially when it's found on vintage pieces. Personally, I gravitate towards pieces with small details or little hints of lace and it always has to be cream, yellowed or otherwise vintage-ey colored. Stark white lace is so 80s wedding.

I'm not normally crazy about grey, but this handbag is irresistible. I think leather in subdued tones like dusty rose or mustard yellow are so gorgeous and they go with everything. This bag is Prada...hey, a girl can dream, right?

Crystal wing ballet flatsCrystal wing ballet flats
So I already mentioned I love sparkle, but you should also know I adore anything brown, olive, cream, or any variation on earthy colors. These shoes are the perfect marriage of those two obsessions. Most people would shy away from brown as a staple wardrobe color, but my closet is full of it. There's something so warm and comforting about the colors in this shoe that I might have to run over to J.Crew right now and get them...

Lesson Learned: Our dreams can take us places outside of our physical location, lift our spirits and make the world a little brighter.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

My dad has been writing a book...for about 30 years now. At least. Ever since I was little, he's has been working on this mysterious project and every few years he'll announce he's made a breakthrough and his book is going to be amazing and then...nothing happens. The thing about my dad is, he's kind of genius but he's trapped by his own self criticism. He puts so much pressure on himself to be perfect, to write the perfect book, that it never happens because nothing he writes is ever good enough in his eyes.

I seemed to have inherited this little trait from dear old dad. The perfectionism gene is a hard one to shake and I've been struggling with it my whole life. I have lots of different interests but many of the projects I start are never completed because of my obsession with creating something perfect. I once turned an art project in 2 months late, knowing that I would recieve a zero as a grade. The zero was worth it though because I wasn't ready to turn it in until it was flawless-- kind of crazy, right? My art teacher definitely thought so.

A fortune teller told my mom when she was pregnant with me that one day I would be a famous author and live in Europe -- talk about pressure. It doesn't help that everything else she told my mom has come true. It may sound silly, but I'm afraid I can't live up to some probable cuckoo's prediction, so I've just avoided it.

This is a mindset that has brought down entire corporations: the Bank Crisis of the 1930s? Could have been avoided entirely. At the beginning of 1932 there was nothing actually wrong with banks but when anxious Americans withdrew all their money and began to hoard their cash, 9,000 banks failed within just a few months. Then, of course, Americans believed they had done the right thing by withdrawing their money before banks started closing their doors, not recognizing that they had actually been the cause of the crisis that they believed they had narrowly avoided.

Today I am making a promise to myself that I will not become a self-fulfilling prophecy; I will not fail because of fear of failing. The point is, I am writing this blog just for the fun of writing, not because I expect to become the next Elizabeth Gilbert (although people have always told me I look like Julia Roberts...). Some things may be serious, some funny, some entertaining and some just plain boring. Besides, it's not like anyone's actually reading it, right? Cough, cough that's your cue to click the "Follow" button if you're out there. Mom, you don't count.

The irony in this post? It took me forever to finish it.

Lesson Learned: "Just Do It." -- Nike

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mad About Gadabout

A gadabout is "an aimless pleasure seeker; a traveler in search of enjoyment; one who roams or roves for social activity." Wouldn't we all love to be gadabouts? Going wherever the wind takes you (personally, I'm pretty sure my wind would take me to Greece, then Rome, then Paris), soaking up the beautiful things around you, Eat, Pray Love style...

Well meet my idol, Hanna Nation, founder, president and artist of GADABOUT, an absolutely incredible stationary (that word just doesn't do it justice) company. Why is she my idol? Not only is she a truly gifted artist and designer (my greatest artistic achievement to date is a painted cooler for a fraternity event), but she's following her dreams; it takes guts to start your own business, right out of college, especially one centered around art. In today's economic environment, to pursue something so risky when you could get an average nine to five office job instead and pay the bills without worry every month, means serious devotion. The girl is only 3 years older than me and already so accomplished. Let's just say, if I have half of Hanna's gusto in 3 years, I'll be in New York, up to my eyeballs in student loans, getting my MFA and writing.

But enough about my girl-crush, wait until you see her designs. Whimsical is the best word I can think of to describe them, but there's also sophisticated, exotic, fashionable, worldly, feminine, southern, and just plain beautiful. Plus, I love the names and captions under every design; they really show the thoughtfulness and attention put into each one. Needless to say I promptly ordered TWO designs for my birthday as soon as I discovered this treasure. Now I just need someone to write hundreds of letters and/or thank you notes to! I think it's time to bring back the art of the hand-written note -- email is so 21st century.

It was nearly impossible to pick considering I love them all, but here are several of my favorite designs:

Tete a Tete
Truly, there is no better place for chitchat than a cocktail party. With guests in good spirits, it is only fitting that the attire should inspire conversation.

Thissur Pooram
Known for the processions of richly caparisoned elephants, Thissur Pooram is one of the most colorful and decorative temple festivals in India.

(Noun.) Flamboyance, confidence, self-assurance, style, flair, élan, dash, verve,zest, spirit, brio, éclat, vivacity, gusto, liveliness,vitality, energy; informal pizzazz, oomph, zip, zing.

Bringing Up Baby
Released in 1938, this romantic comedy was as unique as the leopard who starred in it. Filled with lighthearted lines and a first class cast, Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant made the most out of misadventure .

Why Put Off Tomorrow, What You Can Do Today?
A reminder of the advice that is seldom taken. When sitting at a desk we love, it is just as easy to stay on task as it is to get off of it.

You can view the rest of Gadabout's exquisite designs at .

Lesson Learned: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Age Issue

I'm having a mid-college crisis. I'm a junior; I've rounded the curve, I'm no longer a hot commodity, I'm closer to graduating than I am to being a freshmen. So how do I rectify this situation? By going out Wednesday through Saturday, wearing tight skirts, and bonding with the freshmen. Not the most mature plan, but it seemed to be working. Or at least I was having fun. Then  I realized that I may be able to act like a freshmen again, but my body remembers my real age and apparently does not recover quite as well as it did when I actually was one. I'm having trouble fitting in my jeans for the first time in my life, I can barely make it to my 11 am classes after a night of partying, and my hangovers have become exponentially worse. Clearly, this is not the solution to my crisis.

On the other hand, my boyfriend is getting ready to graduate in less than 2 months and enter the scary world of adulthood. Naturally, I don't expect him to still want to hang out at the fraternity house on the weekends (heaven forbid he be THAT creepy, old guy) but that doesn't mean I won't want to. He's had 4 1/2 years to be bored with the campus night scene but I'm just starting to get the hang of it. At the same time, I rarely have as much fun without him, as I do with him. What can I say, after 2 years, I'm not sick of the guy. So what do I do? Do I follow him into the grown-up world of the 9-5 job, getting 8 solid hours of sleep a night, and worrying about money, or do I stay put right where I am and live out the rest of my college days like any true college student: drinking more nights a week than studying, fropping (frat-hopping) with my girlfriends, and scraping by every semester with decent grades?

The thing is, I've always been drawn to older people; I just get along with them better. Maybe it's because I'm the only child of older parents, or maybe it's just something I was born with. Either way, I've  always been told I seem older than I am. Now this can be a great thing (I've been getting into bars since I was 16) or this can be a burden (my boyfriend I constantly get asked when we're getting engaged, even though I'm barely of age). Because of a combination of all this, my natural instinct it to want to play house with the bf once he graduates and to drop the whole freshmen act. My fear is, can I do this without giving up a part of myself? Of my college experience? Will I end up resenting the person I love, even though this was my choice to make? Sometimes it's hard to remember, years down the road, 500 fights later why you make the choices you do. Maybe this blog will help to remind me if I ever do start to feel that resentment creeping in.

Lesson Learned: Don't live in the past or in the future. You will only be right where you are one time in your life. Celebrate it. Love it. Embrace it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Every Rose Has Her Thorn

In my third year of college, I find that these are the facts of my life: I'm in a serious relationship with a handsome Republican from a good family, I'm the Rose, a.k.a. Sweetheart of his famously conservative fraternity, I'm a member of a sorority with old southern roots whose members are known for wearing pearls, and I work at a store that sells exclusively Lilly Pulitzer clothing, the uniform of the privileged and preppy. Sounds like I'm living every good, southern belle's dream, right? Well, too bad I'm not a good, southern belle.

Raised by a mother who cried (sad, not happy tears) when Bush won a second term as President and a father who was born and raised on the streets of Minnesota, going to school fifteen minutes from home and having a group of friends composed entirely of the "bad guys" was not what I had in mind for my future when I entered my senior year of high school. My plan was to go away to school somewhere glamorous, preferably NYU, become a writer and come home for holidays with drool-worthy stories for my friends about all the amazing clothes, food and people I'd experienced. Instead, I find myself at a school which most people don't even know has a liberal arts program, a newly developed southern accent (at least that's what my friends tell me), and the question I get asked most often isn't "what am I going to do with my degree?", it's "when am I getting married?". Ew.

While it may appear to the casual observer that I've changed drastically in the two and a half years I've been in college, I swear I haven't turned to the dark side, given up on my dreams or come anywhere close to settling. Sure, my plan may have undergone a few adjustments, but at least I still have one. Just because I blend in a little better with my conservative counterparts doesn't mean I've become one, which I think is a major accomplishment considering I'm surrounded by them 24/7. I mean really. It's amazing I haven't lost my mind.

So while it may appear that I'm nothing but a sunny, southern rose, don't be fooled. I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve, not to mention a few thorns too.

Lesson Learned: "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; never stop fighting." -- e.e. cummings