Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Just work"

This is a follow up to last night's post.  I'm assigning my students some videos on Brandon Stanton (the man behind HONY).  In the process of research, I came across this interview:

"Just work! You know, don't wait! Everybody's waiting till they have the perfect idea to start working... Even if you have an inkling of what you want to do, start moving towards it and it's going to flesh itself out through the process of moving towards the goal and by the time you get to where you're gonna be, it's not gonna look anything like it did when you sat on the couch thinking about it. And if you wait until it's perfect in your head till you get off the couch and start working on it, that's never going to happen." 
- Brandon Stanton

I haven't quite succumbed to Christmas music... this album is helping me remain stalwart!  [And it's just beautifully precious!]

Catch their amazing backstory on Britain's Got Talent here and here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Life

I remember first watching this episode... I was all ready for another cutesy episode, maybe an update on Bing or Darcy........what I was not expecting was for a cute little vlog series to ask "tough questions" about my life choices.  At the time I was 22, living at home, working a safe job.  And sweet as can be, Jane waltzes in asking "What's keeping you here?"  I think I gasped.  I remember feeling like I had walked into a wall.  For the next year, I was asking that question of so many areas of my life.
Living at home (which is not at all bad but sometimes, as Jane points out, a defense mechanism)?  I moved out and into a flat with a my best friend.  I spent time and money on crafting a space.  I learned a little bit of how to live with someone - it's an art!  There were Doctor Who marathons and parties and so many late night conversations ending in simultaneous laughter and tears.
Stuck in relationships running on separate tracks?  I made new friends and realized that being single did not mean I couldn't have fun.  There were road trips and "Galentines" and endless movie nights.  And my friends were amazing on days that weren't.  When I was visiting a friend and received some bad news, she ran the whole gamut in caring for me - tissues, talking, going out on the town, cozying up in sweats to watch Once Upon a Time.  On a particularly bad night I walked into my flatmate's room, showed her my phone screen and her response was, "I'll go get the wine and dark chocolate."  My sister took me out one day and just sat with me in a silence that acknowledged things were not "okay" - and that it was "okay" to feel that way.
And then the big one... What about going back to school?  From the time I was rejected from Oxford, it took me a year and a half to answer that question.  I wrestled with it.  I so badly wanted back into that world, but was so afraid at the same time.  Afraid of spending more emotional energy only to hear "no."  Afraid of moving away.  Afraid of how much work it would take.  But one day, I was sitting across from my boss and I just knew the answer.  I had to go back to school.  And it was grueling.  This time a year ago... whew.  Let's just say, I am still shocked I am in grad school.  Shocked, but so grateful.

The people I look up to have moved boldly to disentangle themselves from anything keeping them safely nestled in the status quo.  They embrace change without fear and keep working through the mundane and the high-pressure without losing sight of their goal.  I want to live like that.  I want to be with people who live like that, and for me that question begins with "What's keeping you here?"  Now, I feel like I am in the place and doing the work that is not "keeping" me back, but propelling me forward...and it's one wild ride!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mini-review: Eleanor & Park

This is a book I read several months ago, but due to a conversation with a colleague I realized I had never reviewed it and that I probably should.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Title:  Eleanor & Park

Author:  Rainbow Rowell

Published:  2012

Year I read it:  2014

One sentence summary:  This 1980's, YA, Romance isn't what you'd expect; it's about red-headed, socially awkward, physically and emotionally impoverished Eleanor and half-American, half-Korean, cool-kid Park - two different "outsiders" who discover that true love means becoming "insiders" of something beautiful.

Interesting fact:  Though it won critical acclaim and awards like Amazon's Teen Book of the Year, Amazon's Top Ten Book of the Year, and Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Book of the Year, the novel was censored in some American high schools. NPR addressed this in their pop-culture blog, saying, ""What's worrying about treating Eleanor & Park as a nasty book, or a dirty book, or an immoral book, is that it transforms talking about how to survive ugliness into something that's no different from ugliness itself. It makes the act of telling a story about rising above misery a miserable thing."

Three reasons to read it:
  • This book feels like John Green (The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska) and Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being a Wallflower) had a sister and she wrote a high-school romance set in 1980's Nebraska.  I say this because she captures the interiority of adolescence beautifully, aware of the dark, but not overwhelmed by it.  Alternating between Eleanor & Park as narrators, she carefully and graciously uncovers the different ways we suffer pain - be it poverty, racism, abuse, or bullying.  It is a profound book. 
  • I read this book in one sitting.  It's that compelling.
  • I hadn't read a true Romance for a while - a book about falling in love.  Romance was usually incidental to the fantasy adventure or contemporary novel I was reading.  But Rowell does an incredibly job recounting what it's like to fall in love for the first time.  She takes a few pages just to convey the sensation of what it's like to first hold someone's hand.  It may sound sappy, but it is a breathtaking story of what love is like.

One reason you maybe shouldn't:
  • The story does get dark.  There is mature language in an abusive context, which could definitely be a trigger to some.
Great quotes:
Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.

Holding Eleanor's hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.

“I want everyone to meet you. You're my favorite person of all time.” 
I don't like you, Park," she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. "I..." - her voice nearly disappeared - "think I live for you."  He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.  "I don't think I even breathe when we're not together," she whispered. "Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it's been like sixty hours since I've taken a breath. That's probably why I'm so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we're apart is think about you, and all I do when we're together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I'm so out of control, I can't help myself. I'm not even mine anymore, I'm yours, and what if you decide that you don't want me? How could you want me like I want you?" He was quiet. He wanted everything she'd just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with 'I want you' in his ears. 
“Nothing before you counts," he said. "And I can't even imagine an after." 

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I know I've been a bit neglectful on here.  I'm sorry - I really do miss it.  Due to the pace of the next few weeks, I probably won't be here as much as I'd like.  But I'm determined not to turn this space into a complaint over how much I have to do.  It is a lot.  But I had a good conversation with a colleague about how we may be stressed out, but over things we actually care about.  We chose school over a million other things we could have done.  And we aren't stressing over a bosses concerns.  For the most part, these are our own passions and instead of performing for someone else, our job is simply to make other people care.  So, as I go off and try to be productive, I'm trying to keep that mentality.  I may have a lot to do, but I chose this and I love this.  And for that, I count myself lucky.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Today was full of beautiful things!

It all started a few weeks ago when the boyfriend said, "I want to take you on a fancy date!"  Well, if you insist...  So after taking the time to get dolled up this morning, it was off to Portland.  He planned the whole day and it was lovely.  He took me to the Portland Art Museum.  We saw Cezane's and Degas's and Renoir's and Van Gogh's and Monet's and Picasso's--we saw Rodin statues!  Then we indulged in delightful food!  He knows I've been studying for a French exam next week and found a darling, delicious French restaurant, Little Bird Bistro (un petit oiseau).  If you get the chance, check it out.  I had chicken fried trout with pickled radish and carrots drizzled in the most exquisite aioli.  For dessert, we shared an apple cheddar crumble with apple cider ice cream - ah! Delectable!  Then we took in the beauty of Nolan's scientific imaginings... a wondrous thing to be sure.  "Love is the one thing that transcends time and space."  Sigh... The film made me so glad I live on planet Earth--and so, so grateful for community!

Like I said, full of beautiful things.  And now, off to dreamland.  Bonne nuit!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1st

You are one of my heroes
This day and every day
but especially today.

Today, may you feel even a measure
of the sun's warmth on your face.
May you taste the beautiful things of life--
tea, laughter, wine, color, chocolate,
dresses with pockets, stories,
and a host of other wonders.

May you catch a glimpse of Meaning
walking through the garden of your life,
softly touching the flowers, yes, but also
the soil, the roots with Her bare feet.

you are loved.
And yesterday,
you are loved.
And tomorrow,
and tomorrow's tomorrow,
you are infinitely loved.

Mystery brought you forth, and She
sends Meaning to see you through.
And in all, They revel
in the intrinsic goodness that is you.
And in every tomorrow
you are loved.