Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sewing Projects

Nick bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and I have loved learning how to use it! I have been doing all kinds of awesome sewing projects and having a great time improving.

Lots of my friends have been having babies lately, so I've been focusing a lot of my energies on making them little baby things. I've made bibs, blankets, and wash cloths, some of which are pictured below. Many of my items exhibit mistakes but they are indeed getting better! I can tell that right away and it makes me happy. It's still not perfect by any means, but I'm improving.





Making gifts for friends is fun, but not being a mother or a baby fanatic, making baby items can get old. I would say mostly because I have to give away everything I make and can't actually use it to "test out" its longevity. 

So last week I decided to start making some items for myself! My first project was this cute little wallet. What do you think? Would you like me to make YOU one? Let me know!

 
I also have this super cute teal and white chevron striped fabric for a mystery project, coming soon!


Guess what I'm making with it!



Friday, June 21, 2013

Reading History

I have been a history reading fiend these last few weeks. I first pulled up an old draft of a story that I wrote about 6 months ago and I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that it was good! (For a draft, of course.) The setting of the story was originally the 1930s and I have it taking place in Great Britain. The problem is, I've never been there, and the other problem is that I don't know if my knowledge of the era is accurate or not.


I've been reading up on the 1920s and 1930s in both America and England, trying to make my decisions about my historical setting as well as my location. I'm guessing there is a lot of research ahead of me before I decide anything specifically though. I am finishing the American histories and will be shifting gears into three histories about the English in the 1920s/1930s next.

I'll keep you guys posted about my progress and decisions!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Humanities and Liberal Arts in College

I've always thought that humanities and liberal arts studies got an unnecessarily bad rap, while also doing a bit of a disservice to their own. I just came across this interesting article today and I have to admit, these are not ideas I've failed to think of at some time already! I mean, how could I have gone without thinking of them when I studied 8 years under the guise of "liberal arts"?

I Went to College to be a Writer

Alright, so let me start with a little random back-story about myself, because it's only appropriate to frame such a discussion in this way. When I was in college, I never had any doubt about what I wanted to do with my degree or what I wanted to be "when I grew up." (In fact, the only thing I did doubt was whether the degree was going to do anything for me at all!) Well, of course the degree helped me personally because I learned to see things in a different way, to analyze things (especially stories) with minute attention to detail, and probably what I consider most important, gave me the opportunity to connect with people who had similar interests. Some of my dearest friends today are people that I acquired along the road of my college education and our friendships may be based on something as simple and seemingly silly as the same love of a childhood book, the same fascination with a certain author's trick with words, or the same endless emotional drive to "write the world anew each day." The latter is probably the strongest tie for me. I connect to readers, but my connection to writers? That is soul mate quality. Other writers can understand the thirst of my spirit like no one else.

But anyway, enough of that love story.

My point is that as a society we teach people they can "be whatever they want to be," and while that's a sweet, fluffy message, we also realize that it's a cruel one. You can't be a famous athlete unless you actually can be, just like you can't be a writer because you romanticize the lifestyle alone. You have to actually know how to write. For some reason the fluff doesn't apply to English students. When I was a student, I was only repeatedly told that I could not be a writer, could not depend on being a writer, there was no market for writing in the world today, etc. But that's what I was there for...to learn how to be a writer. Many times I wanted to quit college because of the overwhelming desire that was seldom satiated. Teach me to write better, I wanted to cry. Don't tell me I can't be a writer. Give me the skills I need to accomplish it and I'll take care of the rest.

Also, I was never once directed toward something that I could be, if not a writer -- except a teacher of course, but I've paid my dues in that department.

The Problem with Liberal Arts

So what's wrong with the liberal arts departments of most colleges? They stand by the worthlessness of the degree (it's not in the least worthless, by the way, if you make the most of your education and develop the confidence that you know what you know) and simply shake their heads at you for having a dream. 

To be fair, maybe my professors didn't often encourage my writing because they didn't think I was good enough at it. Maybe I wasn't...but isn't that what college is for? To learn your craft, to improve at it, to shape yourself around it as it in turn shapes you? Or am I being too dramatic about college? 

Disclaimer: Most of my professors were awesome. Not all of them shattered my dreams. (Actually no one shattered them....I'm stupid enough to keep plugging away at them regardless.)

I'm just wondering though, why does the college of liberal arts fail to promote career options to its students? I had no idea what I could be before I started doing it. (For an embarrassingly long time into my education I did not know that copywriting was not directly related to copyrights.) When I finally graduated from college and took my leave from the education field (Permanently? Temporarily? Who can say?) I jumped in headfirst to a field I didn't know if I could conquer. The only thing I had was a somewhat pigheaded stubbornness about my writing ability. I knew I could do it. I have been known to say, "If it needs to be written, I can write it, whatever it is," and that, I believe, is true.

College didn't give me that confidence any more than it gave me any idea how to pursue a career in my chosen craft (note that I did not say "field," because my chosen field still eludes me) and some people are not blessed with that arrogant, sometimes foolish confidence that hides underneath my thick skin. 

Life After a Liberal Arts Degree

I'm alright, but how are you? If you earned a degree in the liberal arts or humanities departments, I'd love to know...
  • What were you taught about your potential in the workforce?
  • What skills did you learn that helped you find a job? Were they taught to you, or were they learned by accident?
  • Are you currently employed in a field directly related to your degree program? If so, how long did it take you to land that job?
  • Did anyone ever teach you how to create a resume or CV? How did you learn?
  • What were you taught about how important your "resume" was, and did you find that to be true? 
My answers:
  •  I was taught nothing about the workforce except that I ought to develop marketable skills which were not taught in the English department. 
  • My work related skills were learned almost entirely by accident because I am an observer and a researcher. I took a few classes that might have helped a bit, but nothing that I do in my career now was actually learned in school, except the writing. 
  • I graduated with an A.A, a B.A., and an M.A. in English literature. I am now a copywriter/professional writer in the marketing field writing social media copy, website/SEO copy, press releases, etc. So...no. I did however get hired within the month after graduation and actually interviewed with my current company before graduation. 
  • No one ever taught me how to create a resume or CV, or even write a cover letter that includes the proper information. I actually just learned something new about that not too long ago and was ashamed to look back at my existing resume to see how it differed from my new knowledge.  
  • I was taught all through college that internships would be the key to a career. They were not. Working for almost seven years at the Home Depot and proving that I could write were the keys to getting my job. My boss tells me that those things 1) proved I was an employee with longevity and 2) proved that I could do the job I was being hired for. 
It's a good rule of thumb to not believe everything you hear whispered about in the halls of the liberal arts department. I'm willing to bet the whisperers are just as confused as you are. 

I do firmly believe that liberal arts departments need to have more information provided to their students, whether through conferences or courses that help them identify their skill sets and hone them. We need more for these students, because these departments do have value, and its a disservice to the students to act like they don't.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Life

Life is busy, and a little bit ridiculous.

I've heard it said that with taxes and the cost of things, you are literally working just so you can own a car that you use to drive to work, rent an apartment where you can sleep before you go back to work, and buy food that you eat to give you strength to go to work.

But that's not how everyone has always lived.

I believe that we need less than we think we do, that less would make us happier because it doesn't require as much work, and with a little less (less work, less stress, less luxury) we could enjoy life more...


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Life is Short

This past weekend I heard that my friend Diane had passed away. I know she's been sick a long time, though she has only been seriously ill for a few months. It was hard news to hear, though even harder news when she was nearing the end and I knew that I wouldn't be able to see her again. Sometimes it's harder than anything to live even just a couple hours away from everyone I know and be employed full time. I often feel like I'm wasting so much time doing things that don't even matter when what matters is life itself, and the people that populate it.

I'm heading to Diane's wake this evening to see her family, though, and the hardest part about going to the funeral of a friend is that the one person you can't see is the person you want to see most.

I've tried to commit to having more time for people in my life and I've come to realize that that is a lot harder than it sounds. I always want to recommit to that, and then find life slipping away with surprising speed. I thought about this last month in Tennessee after my family vacation, when my family had already returned home and Nick and I were sitting at the Elkmont campground without them. I thought of how they were already halfway home by then and that memory was over and gone. I watched a single rivulet of the Little River and followed it with my eyes until it was gone from sight, then thought of it later and wondered where it had gone. The motion of the river reminded me of life and the memory that I had just been living that very morning. Before I realized what had happened, it had gone by.


That's the way life really is and knowing that makes it hard for me to justify a lot of silly things I spend my life doing.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sherlock

Changed my background of my blog (it's a monthly necessity) to argyle because it reminds me of Sherlock Holmes's sweaters (not pictured).



I have a BIG old fashioned crush on Sherlock Holmes....

If you haven't watched CBS's Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson, consider this my official recommendation.

Heart's a Mess

My favorite thing about The Great Gatsby could easily be the soundtrack.

My number one question is HOW the heck did I miss this song? It's a life changer.

I dare you to listen to it approximately a hundred times and just see how much you can't help but love it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gatsby, and the Rest of My College Dreams

This past weekend when my friend Aisha was in town, we went to see Gatsby in theaters. I can't pretend that The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel even though F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers. I wanted to see this film particularly because I believe Fitzgerald to have been a visionary of his time. (Refer to my Master's  for further information.) He writes in a cinematic style that no filmmaker has previously been able to capture.



Well, the film certainly captures that over-the-top decadence that is a feature of every piece of Fitzgerald writing. I was not even at all disappointed in the Jay-Z soundtrack. It worked for me. Quite well actually.


I believe that Fitzgerald himself wouldn't have been disappointed in the production.

It's funny because a lot of people I know have said that they didn't like the film. My opinion is that you have to live and breathe Fitzgerald in order to get it. I think this is exactly how he would have wanted it to be. Insane, ostentatious, over the top, ridiculous, pop-culture infused....

You can't read Gatsby in high school and decide how the film has to be made (which is what too many critics seem to want to do). You have to read everything he's ever written and then write a thesis on him, and THEN tell me that Baz Luhrman did it wrong. I'm willing to bet after you've read everything--including perhaps my thesis--you might concede to my point.

Have I ever mentioned that writing my thesis on F. Scott Fitzgerald was a dream come true for me? This film depicted everything that I ever had to say about him...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reflecting on the First Year of Marriage

We did it. We've been married for one year. There was never a point within this past year where I doubted that would happen. Let me be clear about that up front.



Lots of people had a bunch of warnings for the first year of marriage. Never anything pleasant, I might add. "You'll hate each other," "You'll fight a lot," "You'll accidentally get pregnant and ruin your life"...cheerful injunctions like these. 

None of these things happened.


And I still like Nick pretty well :)