I believe in balance. Sweet and spicy. Work hard, play harder. Naughty or nice (is it time for Christmas yet?). All of a sudden I don’t feel so balanced anymore. I suppose it’s natural for the scales to tip from time to time.
But as much as life is about balance, it’s also about costs. Opportunity costs. It’s the natural way of things. As the seconds tick by on my watch, I think about the things I could (or should) be doing instead of writing this post. Tick tock, tick tock, that’s the way it goes. It’s a dangerous game to get lost in, even for an economist.
Which brings me back to balance, and my blog. I never kept a diary as a young girl. I love to write but gushing to an inanimate object never quite got the juices flowing. In my childhood room you’ll find a stack of journals that are intricately decorated on the outside and neglected on the inside. If my mom ever tried to read them after I left for college, she would have been bombarded with headlines about a random sample of events from my life. None of my thoughts fully developed.
But when I sit down with my laptop and open a blank blog post, the words begin to flow freely. Perhaps I really am a product of the technology age. Though my blog doesn’t get around now as it did when I was in London, there is something, oh what’s the word… dare I say, fun, about typing words into existence and hitting the “post” button. And no matter who reads it or how often I pay attention to it, I will forever have this artifact that I can look through from time to time.
Before that begins to feel creepy because things live on the internet FOREVER…
Dear blog, I now grant your freedom from any purpose other than to serve my unquenchable thirst to wield my literary sword in some outlet other than my scholarly pursuits. Yours truly, S.
I’m sitting in my office, back straight, shoulders relaxed, feet firmly planted on the floor. It doesn’t sound comfortable but after your dance teacher yells at you for an entire year because you have bad dance posture and airplane arms, it’s unavoidable. The sun is hiding today, giving the room an extra-strong fluorescent tinge. I stare out the window, then to my reflection in the computer screen, and back outside.
I avoid looking over my right shoulder, where 38 papers in need of grading await. A bright red pen resting beside them. Oh the joys of procrastination. Yes, even in grad school. In fact, even more so in grad school.
I direct my gaze back to the computer screen, which is now black and sleeping. As the screen comes to, I take a deep breath in and place my fingers on the keyboard. I’m playing Clair de lune on a beautiful baby grand. Instead, words appear on the screen. Words, then sentences, then paragraphs. Slow and steady. Click, click, click.
I really dislike Mondays. The ones after an awesome weekend at home (I saw Saturn from my backyard!) are especially glum. Of particular annoyance is the time spent in the elevator, stopping on far too many floors and stuffing itself full of far too many people. In an effort to be a cheery passenger, I remembered an elevator conversation from some Mondays ago.
I appreciate the little things, like a smile when you pass in the hallway or acknowledgement of my existence while waiting for or in the elevator. If you don’t know how it feels to wait awkwardly in the middle of five elevators, waiting for one of them to open its door and then to be the last one to get off of the elevator… come to work with me one day. The elevator can be the reason I am late to a meeting or late to class, or early on those rare occasions when it shoots up to the 25th floor without stopping… that, is bliss.
On a chilly Monday morning, my caffeine-deprived but still jittery self hopped onto the elevator to go to a meeting. A few floors down the mailman hopped on and we exchanged the usual greetings. I mentioned something about it being a Monday because caffeine-deprived ones are the worst, and I appreciate people who share that dislike with me. I don’t enjoy complaining but if we meet on a Monday, all bets are off. In reply the mailman said, “Well, without Monday, Tuesday would never come. So thank God for Mondays!” He is a consistently happy old man, and the conviction with which he made that statement instantly made me thankful for Mondays too! Logically I know that without Monday, the rest of the week would not come to be. And I know we should be thankful for each and every day we are given. Today’s elevator conversation reminded me of that and made me thankful for that Monday… yes, only that one :)
Oh dearest blog of mine, it’s been a while. The truth of the matter is, well, I miss you! I miss writing. The most writing I do these days is via e-mail. I should be doing a lot of dissertation writing, but that seems to come with automatic writer’s block. Despite having installed the Tumblr app on my phone almost immediately after I jumped on the iPhone wagon, I have resorted to taking notes on my phone during moments of inspiration.
it’s an unusually cold, rainy night. It’s hard to believe that the year is nearly half over. I find myself reflecting on life as a 25 year old, only two months away from 26. In recent years there have been two friends’ birthdays that have been cause for reflection of my personal relationship with my increasing age- one in December and the other in April. We are a day away from the April reflection date so tonight’s happy hour may be the reason for an early start to my scheduled introversion.
On that note, as I get older sleep is becoming more important… and harder to come by! Goodnight dear blog, till we meet again.
Powerful in small spaces, yet with profound effect on distance. Love defies time, outliving both its source, and its object. Love is faster than light, for light requires time in order to travel through space. But love reaches its object instantaneously.
Love journeys forever, into infinity. And it’s here, binding together two lives.”
— Larry Fleinhardt, professor of theoretical physics on Numb3rs
A weekly one-hour doctoral seminar is a great thing. It’s long enough to share and discuss relevant issues, and enough time to whine and complain about your committee or how much you hate your topic. As the hour comes to an end, you’re relieved to be another week closer to the end, or you’re stressed that you still have revisions to complete. Will it ever end? Either way, the group offers support. We even bake for each other these days. Submitted your proposal? Brownies for all! Proposal approved? Cookies for all! IRB approval? That one calls for something stronger. And so we continue down the yellow brick road to academic sainthood.
This week’s discussion revolved around issues of organization: how does one keep references in check? How does one manage complex data sets? What tools are available? A colleague mentioned that despite the availability, ease and usefulness of online organizational tools (OneNote, Dropbox, RefWorks, etc.), nothing could replace the act of printing articles or data output and making hand-written notes. She blamed it on her age. Being at least ten years her junior, I piped up to happily dispel that notion because I too loved printing, highlighting, note-taking and lugging around a ream of paper. The conversation evolved to the matter of how much paper we were wasting, and horror filled our faces. I religiously print double-sided, two pages per sheet, and still I have mountains of paper hidden in multiple crates in my apartment.
So in an effort to thank Mother Earth for her resources, I promise to plant one tree for every month I spend working on my dissertation. It won’t happen now, it is unlikely that it will happen all at once, but it’s been added to my bucket list.
I know it’s not a lot, and it will take years for these trees of mine to grow. Maybe they won’t be cut down and used to make paper. Maybe they will stand tall and strong to provide shade for someone, a perch for a bird’s nest, or simply as a reminder of the beauty of nature. Whatever the case, I have come to dispel the notion of waiting for the right time to make big things happen; instead, make the small things count more.
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” - Mother Teresa
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” - Van Gogh
“If you want to know what your life is, throw everything over and see what stays the same. Maybe there are certain magnetic things in your character that keep you in a certain place.”—Sheila Heti, author of How Should A Person Be?
12/12/12 was magical. Special enough for my Christmas Cookie Exchange, special enough for a dear friend’s engagement, and so many other little joys. In searching for the perfect holiday desserts, I decided to take up the 12 day of baking challenge… mostly because school is out and all I want to do is bake, and because there were too many recipes to choose from!
Day 1 - Sugar Cookies for Decorating
Day 2 - Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Day 3 - Pumpkin Spice Brownies
Day 4 - Spiced Rum Cake with Walnuts
Day 5 - Brownies with Chocolate Rum Frosting
Day 6 - Gingerbread Cookies
So… now it’s time to get creative. So many goodies yet to come!
“The world does not judge actions on their merit, but on their chance results, and they [the world] consider that only those things which are blessed with a happy outcome have been undertaken with sound advice. It is always the unfortunate who are first to be deserted by the goodwill of men.”— The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius
It’s 8 a.m. on the first Tuesday of school. Dr. G is nowhere to be found and I’m half-asleep and yet so anxious. I keep twisting my coffee mug in my hands, not drinking any of it (boy I wish I had). I didn’t have time to drink any at home, barely had time to stuff my face with an English muffin. Oh, I woke up plenty early but I was still running late. Typical.
Just a typical morning, until the elevator dinged and Dr. G stepped out looking frazzled. “Is my hair still wet?” she asked. We exchanged big smiles and a few words and headed into the classroom. FIFTY students staring at me, in my blazer and pastel print dress, wondering who I was and what they had gotten themselves into. Many were still fighting to keep their eyes open. At least I wasn’t alone.
I was given the amazing opportunity to co-teach with my favorite professor. That’s right, co-teach. With Dr. G?! Yeah, I had the same reaction. It’s a dream I never had, but still a dream come true. Tuesday morning was the first time we had truly worked together, and it fit. Her obvious passion for teaching put me at ease and our banter came naturally. One big class being taught by two big nerds… for a moment I felt sorry for our 50 colleagues. Oh well.
Every week I’ll share with you the trials and tribulations of one of the coolest opportunities of my academic career. I want to be a professor when I grow up. That journey has officially begun.
“So, no, the real lesson of London 2012 isn’t that the U.S. is the most fantabulous country on the planet and that everywhere else stinks, although in Michael Phelps, Allyson Felix, LeBron James, and others we certainly have some incredible athletes. The real takeaway from the Games is one that might surprise Mitt Romney and his new running mate, Paul Ryan: government initiatives can work, and very effectively at that.”—John Cassidy on London’s Lesson for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: Government Works. Click-through to continue reading: http://nyr.kr/MY0qxZ (via newyorker)
I had a simple realization yesterday, smack in the middle of my gelato-induced sugar high (second time in a week). I think it’s what I’ve been searching for all summer without really knowing it; it just clicked. A conversation with my sister sparked a train of thoughts about the difference between loneliness and learning to being happy when doing things on your own. Being busy can distract you from paying attention to the loneliness factor, especially when there are endless articles to read, papers to write and data begging to be analyzed. Being hundreds of miles away from your best friends only makes it worse, especially when you get back from adventuring with them around the country, plotting to take over the world (to make it better, obviously). I grew up not having time to even begin to think about the word lonely or to think about doing things alone. Consequently, I love spending time with people and always had an overload of people to do things with. Totally my mom’s fault. Somewhere along the way, probably when I moved to a city I hated, to live by myself for the first time, where the only person I knew was my dad, I learned to really do things on my own. I knew it but refused to accept it or let it get in the way, I was lonely in Houston. It’s expected under such circumstances I suppose. I didn’t know what to do with it. I had friends, we did fun things, I was close enough to go home, and still something wasn’t right.
At 24 I tried to crawl out of it. 25 hit and I freaked out.
When I turned 21 I said I didn’t feel 21. When I turned 24, I sounded like a broken record. And then 25 happened. The truth is, I don’t know how to “feel” 25. I keep thinking back to my 16th and 18th birthdays, dreaming with friends about how settled and grown up we would be by 24. How simple things would be. I yearned for it. How we would be brave enough to stand up for our dreams, and take responsibility for our decisions. At the ripe young age of 25, I will continue to freak out about getting old, keeping my fingers crossed that my mom’s metabolism sticks with me for as long as it’s been with her. But “feeling” 25 is the realization that I will always stick by Me. That’s a lot to look forward to!
So in honor of the above word vomit, I’d like to dedicate this post to Me. I don’t know where you went, but thanks for coming back- stronger and fiercer than ever before.
I know I talk crap on being a twentysomething but I’m only half-kidding. In actuality, there’s no age I’d rather be. (Besides maybe seven years old because they don’t do anything besides eat ice cream and poop themselves. That sounds like an ideal life to be completely honest.)
Being in your twenties is all about discovering which things hurt you and what makes you feel good. You go in blindly, practically pricking yourself with a dull blade, and then you walk out with tougher skin. One day you’ll stop pricking yourself altogether. Maybe. I don’t know. How would I? I’m just a twentysomething, remember?
This is what your twenties are for — to feel and see as much as you can, to take advantage of not being tied down to anything and anyone and to go balls to the wall with everything that you do. You’re a raw nerve. You hate getting upset over little things, about being constantly unraveled by ignored text messages, parents, grades, and friends, but you have to remember something: you don’t know yourself entirely yet. Before the age of 20, you were mostly under your parents care, a reflection of what was going on around you. You didn’t have the option to make your own choices. You were merely living the life someone set out for you. Being in your twenties allows you to start carving out the life you want for yourself. Everything is on your terms now which seems daunting but is actually liberating. For the first time in your life you’re the boss.
It’s important to talk about why your twenties are great because it seems like we spend so much of our time wanting to be somewhere else other than where we are. Think about it. Why the hell are we in such a hurry to live some boring grown up adult life that we saw at a Crate & Barrel? Because once we do get there, we’re stuck for a long time. The novelty’s going to wear off, we’re going to get married and have babies, and everything will be amazing but don’t think for a second that you won’t be nostalgic for this time. Don’t think for a second that you’re not going to miss those nights you spent putting on your make up, changing five million times, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes out your apartment window, and going to some silly party, a party that feels like all the others you’ve been to but still has the right to feel special. You will miss all of this. This is a luxury. It’s going to leave us eventually so you better freaking enjoy it. You better enjoy every lame ass party, every awkward kiss, every 5 AM hangover, every drug experience, every crappy apartment, because one day it will all be gone and you’ll just be left with the pictures and the bruises and nothing else. Youth is fu**ing magic. Don’t you get it? Look at your skin! Touch it. Look at your smooth legs and stomach. Grab it. When you’re older, you’ll want all of this again so bad. You’ll possibly spend so much money to get some semblance of it back. Now it’s yours for free.
We’re not stuck. Even if it feels like we are, it’s not true. We’re the opposite of stuck. As twentysomethings, we’re constantly moving — apartments, relationship, cities, jobs. Anything is possible. People are ready for you. They want to hear what you have to say. They look at you and are curious about what words are going to come out of your mouth. You’re the new generation. What do you have to say? Don’t bite your tongue. One day you’ll be pushed aside for a younger “fresher” perspective so you better get it out now. Make a mark. Make a stain. Make something.
I want to remember the fear, I want to remember the promise, I want to remember the nights I wanted to curl up in a ball, I want to remember the people I’m not supposed to remember, I want to remember not knowing myself, I want to remember the moment I started to feel safe and like this life I’m leading is really mine. I’m going to be scared, I’m going to bruise my knees and not know how they got there, I’m going to try to fruitlessly forge a connection with someone who won’t ever get it, I’m going to lose the person that means the most to me and find my way back to them. I’m going to be a twentysomething because that’s what I am and all I know how to be. And you should too. You should love every single moment of this hot mess of a decade. Chances are you’ll miss it before you even get to say “I’m 30.
One of my favorite events in Houston is the annual Art Car Parade. Art, politics, family, fun, funky, voice, history, community, oh I could go on and on. To read about the history of the parade and the host, the Orange Show Foundation, click here: http://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/art-car-parade/
After six hours of pouring monsoon rain, hail, howling winds, tornado warnings, bright flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder, the clouds parted and the 25th annual Art Car Parade was a go! Here are just a few photos from this year’s parade. If you’re ever in town in May, it’s a must-see city-wide event! To see this year’s parade entries, click here: http://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/2012-featured-art-cars/
To open the show, Mayor Annise Parker in her new ride!
A hamster wheel for humans.
The coolest of them all.
There was music. And trout and lobsters dancing in sync.
“"THE SUPPRESSION OF INDIVIDUALITY — THE SENSE THAT NO ONE IS LISTENING — IS EVEN MORE PRONOUNCED IN OUR POLITICS. TELEVISION, NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES, ARE A CASCADE OF WORDS, OFFICIAL STATEMENTS, POLICIES, EXPLANATIONS, AND DECLARATIONS. ALL FLOW FROM THE HEIGHT OF GOVERNMENT DOWN TO THE PASSIVE CITIZEN: WHO CAN SHOUT UP AGAINST A WATERFALL?" — ROBERT F. KENNEDY”—
The best three minutes of your day. Watch the trailer for this beautiful film about memories and the irreplaceable role that art plays in our lives. Ps. The film is directed and produced by my dear friend Petra!
ELENA recounts the journey of Petra, a young Brazilian woman who dreams of becoming an actress but is warned not to do so by her mother. Against all admonitions, Petra moves to New York City where the reasons she was advised against this path begin to unfold. Her older sister Elena went to New York at the age of 19 to pursue her acting career and fell into a deep depression.
While Petra discovers who Elena was and what led to her depression, she starts to identify with Elena and her drama. Petra’s mother then comes to New York and mother and daughter retrace to the darkest moments Elena’s past so deeply entangled in their own. As the past unravels, the knots loosen, allowing space slowly for each to come to her own.
Intimate in style, the film delves into the abyss of one family’s drama, revealing at once the inspiration that can be born from tragedy. ELENA thus becomes an invitation to dance with our inconsolable memories, those for which there is no solace but in the openings offered by art.