Friday, December 12, 2014

friday flashback: summer nights at the fair

I hate winter. Like, pretty much I hate everything about it (except for Christmas, fiiiine). I'm a summer girl through and through—I love California, love beaches and picnics and bike rides, love the month of June. So, because I'm stuck in Michigan at the moment freezing my tuckus off, I thought I'd reminisce about summertime. :) These photos are from when Henrik and I rode our bikes to the fair this summer. Town fairs are the best! When summer rolls around again, check your town paper to see if any are around, and then go! This one was in the parking lot of a high school here in Ann Arbor. :) It's a cheap, fun date, and who can say no to cotton candy and popcorn??

green figure skater dress: American Apparel | lace collared blouse: vintage | glitter Juju jelly sandals: ASOS
smiley hologram bag: Sway Chic

Thursday, December 11, 2014

home for the holidays: how to pack for holiday traveling

It's finals week just about everywhere right now, which means soon folks will be traveling for the break. Some people are lucky enough to live a stone's throw from their parents/grandparents/assorted relations, but a lot of us aren't. As someone who has lived far away from my family for about 4 years now, I've gotten the hang of this whole "fly in from another state and stay for 2 weeks in your childhood bedroom" thing. There's a lot that goes into traveling this time of year, from booking flights to packing sweaters and gifts to surviving winter weather delays. (Curse you, polar vortex!) I thought I'd share some general holiday traveling tips for making this Xmas season go as smoothly as possible—I can't control what your nutty uncle says after too much eggnog, but I can at least help get you there to witness it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

'Tis the season for festivities! Though Henrik and I are in the middle of Finals Week Hell (I believe it's in the 5th circle of Dante's inferno—wrath), we're putting aside time to gaze fondly at our tree and eat sweets and buy presents—because it's Christmastime! 

I made a pledge this year to shop locally or from small businesses, and each of my loved ones is getting at least one book. I asked my students earlier this semester how many books they had in their dorm rooms (not counting required textbooks), and many of them said none! As in zero books! What madness is this?! I don't even have enough room on my bookshelves for all the books I own—they're stacked up against the walls in teetering, hip-level columns. As a writer, I feel an obligation to support other writers by buying and giving away books whenever possible. As an educator, I also feel an obligation to encourage reading all the time. So, this Christmas: books for everyone. What do I recommend?

1. For the sensitive, reflective person (or someone who needs a little more calm in their life): Jane Hirshfield's Given Sugar, Given Salt [indiebound | amazon]
2. For the thinker: Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams [Graywolf Press | indiebound | amazon]
3. For the reluctant reader: Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York [indiebound | amazon]
4. For the activist: Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric [Graywolf Press | indiebound | amazon]
5. For the artsy teen/twenty-something: Tavi Gevinson's Rookie Yearbook Three [indiebound | amazon]
6. For the scientist/animal lover: Eugene Linden's Parrot's Lament [amazon]

Happy early Christmas/finals time to you all! I'm going to continue procrastinating by playing Smash Bros. and chasing Sylvia around the apartment.

And for your viewing pleasure, a bunch of pictures of me forcing Sylvie-the-Grinch to get in the spirit.

jeans: Urban Outfitters (similar) | sweater: vintage (similar) | glasses: Firmoo

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I can see clearly now

A few weeks ago, I went to the optometrist's office for my yearly vision checkup. Sitting in the chair, kicking my feet absentmindedly for the sheer pleasure of being able to (at 5'9", there are few seats I encounter where my feet don't touch the floor), I ran through a fairly formidable list of things I had to do before the week's end. I was heading to Michigan that Friday, escaping from school early in an effort to relax. I desperately needed to relax. How could I, with the electricity bill that needed paying, and the trash that needed to be taken out, and the teetering stack of student journals that needed grading, and the litter box that needed cleaning, and the refrigerator, and the bathroom, and the dishes...

When the optometrist walked in beaming the forced grin of professionals everywhere, I had a very deep line furrowed in my forehead. He handed me the black strip of plastic and instructed me to cover one eye. "Read the smallest you can see," he said.

It turns out, my vision is pretty terrible. My glasses should have been updated years ago, but somehow I hadn't realized it; I had an inkling that maybe I wasn't seeing as well, but I could still function, so I let it slide. It's interesting to imagine, now, how the world had been slowly fading right before my eyes—bit by bit, everything was becoming steadily more unclear. Maybe that's a metaphor for how this year has been. Out of focus, blurred at the edges, and me just resigning myself to it.

2014 has been hard. I think it may have been the hardest year of my life. I don't even know what more I want to say about it. It was hard. It was hard. It was inexplicably hard, and I so desperately want it to be over.

I have neglected this blog this year because, I think, I have been sick of my life. That is the honest truth of it. But I am sick of being sick of it. I need this upcoming year to be different, and I intend to devote all of my energy to ensuring it is. This year, I let myself be buffeted by things out of my control, I let myself be ruled by them. I may not have control over the things that are thrown my way, but I certainly have control over how I react to them. I can make a decision to work towards happiness.

I came home from the optometrist's and ordered a new pair of glasses. When I got them, I turned to Henrik and said, "It's like everything's in HD! Is this what seeing's like?"

I'm seeing a lot clearer now. I can see better where I'm going, where I want to be.

for old times' sake ;)  
yellow turtleneck: American Apparel | plaid skirt: thrifted | glasses: Firmoo

And I need to give a big thank you to for generously hooking me up with these frames. I love them and since first learning of Firmoo about two years ago, have used no other company for my glasses. With their fast shipping, free supply kit and case, and truly affordable prices (and awesome selection), I never look elsewhere for my new specks. If you're in need of glasses, try it out: you can get your first pair free. If you want even more glasses, they have a Christmas promotion right now for a buy one/get one free. Do it, my fellow poor-sighted friends.


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