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Cheesy goodness

I must have blinked. It has already been three months since I’ve become a fully employed adult. I have a few drafts in my mind to fill the blogging gap, but for now I’ll share the one I’ve already written. I wrote it with “pen and paper” the night I moved into my new apartment. “Pen and paper” is just a theoretical phrase now, right? Who even does that anymore? 22-year-olds who don’t have internet at their new apartment yet. That’s who. I’ve had this in my Moleskine just waiting to be typed up for da blog and haven’t gotten to it. But here it is.


I might have just had the most delicious and satisfying meal of my life. It almost doesn’t matter that I say what it was, because I’m positive something this good could never be recreated. But I will– Lilly’s Pizza in Durham, their Five Points pizza. It know Lilly’s is fantastic because I’ve eaten at the Raleigh location, but this is at a whole new level. The most filling part that can’t be explained by flour or toppings is the feeling of accomplishment I have right now.

See, this morning I moved into my new Durham apartment. This signifies the day that I’ve truly and completely left the nest, as my parents have been excitedly chanting for the past 48 hours. I am so incredibly grateful for this position and phase of life that I am in. I feel so lucky to have my amazing support system of family and friends, and to be employed. I have the freedom to explore my interests and develop my hobbies while being financially independent and I am so damn grateful.

I feel like I’ve made it. Like I can finally sit down, enjoy a seriously well made slice of pizza (because that’s how you christen every new apartment or home), and appreciate the moment. All of the tension, stresses and worries that have ben holding me down, making it hard to think, they’re gone. I haven’t felt this free or in the moment in a long time.

Want a slice?

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Settling in.

Now I can get this show on the road. Post-grad life is happening! Now I can do cool adult things like have legitimate business cards, decorate an apartment with thrifted and DIY pieces, brunch like it’s nobody’s business and forget to pack lunch. I’m just taking cues from my already employed friends here. Clearly I’m new to all of this. With the start of my career looming over my head, I’ve been thinking, I need to go into this with the right mindset.

Okay. I’m about to earn money for the work that I do. That’s awesome. Getting paid to do things I enjoy is great. What are my priorities for that money? If I had no rent, no utilities, no Netflix subscription, no nothing, what would I do with it? I’m sure this isn’t a shock to you, but my gut reaction is to say paying for food. (I’m SORRY. The pun had be there. It was not negotiable.) Not just 25 cents for a package of ramen pay for food, but fresh groceries so I can make myself a delicious meal at least a couple times per week. Leftovers for the rest of the week because that’s how I do things. I call myself a low-budget foodie, and I stand by that because I really do love making good food. That’s the only reason I exercise, too. Say what you want, motivation for exercise is motivation for exercise. As long as I have good food and good people I’m pretty happy in life.

Well, good food and good people and fun. If you’re going to work hard all day and then just be boring in your free time, what are you even doing? Why are you earning money if you can’t use just a little bit of it to do cool things? Of course, save money, squirrel away into your 401k and whatnot. But use a leeeetle baby bit to do something fun every once in a while, amirite? Otherwise you’ll be dead and sad before you know it. And dead you will be like, “wow, that sucked.”

A lot of people have told me that the first few weeks at a new job set the tone for the rest of your time there, so I have to be careful about how I go about starting these work relationships and completing projects. I totally agree with that and I think it’s true for more than the hours spent inside the office. I also want to be careful about how I start the relationship between work me and free time me.

We are more than our jobs.

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Why Advertising

In all of my job searching, interviewing and writing cover letters, one question I usually get asked is, “Why advertising?” This isn’t new. It’s one of my extended family’s favorite questions to ask, along with “Are you seeing anyone?” and “Are you still doing that marathon thing? How far did you go this year?” (Ahhh, so close.) I’m used to it because my life path changed so drastically sophomore year from pre-med; everyone was pretty confused. I usually tell the story of the classes I was taking, the physicians I shadowed and what I went through when I was changing majors. But that’s the how. It’s not the why.

It can be hard to explain using words the feeling of being a perfect fit. The feeling that whatever direction I grow in will be accepted by this path. I love advertising and I know in my heart that I’m in the right place.

I love that we drive culture by being silly. “Hump day!” Anyone?

I love that we can show our sentimental, passionate sides without being made fun of. Thai Life Insurance “Unsung Hero”

I love that we can start conversations about important topics. Save the Children “Second a Day”, Chipotle “The Scarecrow”, Pantene “Labels Against Women”

I love that we can drive the bandwagon/brandwagon. Oreo “Dunk in the Dark”

I love that we have fun offices.

I love that you can get paid to manage social media. If that’s not the coolest job, I’m not sure what is.

I love that I get to feel useful. It’s not just data entry or cold calling, but something that really puts my education, skills and energy to use.

I love that people take chances on, and believe in, creativity.

I love that it’s a team sport but you still can shine as an individual.

I love that I don’t have to wear a pant suit every day.

I love that we follow technology, art, science and music to stay up-to-date.

I love that we can indulge in silly fads for the sake of consumer research.

I love that we get to tell stories.

I love that we get inside peoples’ minds.

I love problem solving. (“You think all paint rollers are the same? Well let me make this easy for you.”)

I love that we get to give advice and tell people what to do. Is that not fun? I think it’s fun.

I love that we get to make fun of ourselves.

I love that it’s survival of the fittest.

I love that we get to be self-important and give ourselves cool awards. Lions, Effies and CLIOs, oh my!

I love that we can take the mundane and make it inspiring.

I love that sometimes, we can make a difference.

Book Burning Party – Troy Library from Leo Burnett Detroit on Vimeo.

That’s my favorite campaign, ever, for a few reasons. I think watching this case study in class (again, Hi Joe Bob! Great class.) was the moment I knew I was in the right place. First, I connected to it because the agency was Leo Burnett Detroit and I grew up in a few suburban Detroit cities (Novi, Royal Oak, Dearborn and Troy). For reference, Eminem grew up on Eight Mile, and I spent a few years just off Ten Mile. My sister and I loved libraries growing up. My mom loves telling the story of my sister and I running inside, grabbing the closest colorful book, and reading in the giant bathtub in the Troy library. Why a library would decorate with an old bathtub I have no clue. But when we were younger (curly afros in their full glory), the Troy library was a favorite. We moved to North Carolina in 2000, and I didn’t think about those years in Michigan much as I got involved in school, sports and clubs. But there I was in class, and this video was like a direct line to those hours spent sitting in a giant bathtub with a book in my lap. And that bathtub is still there because of the campaign.

This case study told me about how something as unexpected as advertising, the thing I had been taught to think of as manipulation and a waste of money, saved my beloved childhood hangout. That realization itself showed me how advertising could get me to see things from a different angle. It made me aware of my pre-existing assumptions, and made me wonder, what else have I been close-minded about? That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to work in a field that keeps me close-minded. I want a field that challenges me every day to see the world differently, like advertising. That is why I love working with creative people. I refuse to stagnate.

Like I said earlier, I had been taught that advertising is unnecessary and evil. Just the corporate busy bees manipulating us to buy their products. But that was just not true with “Book Burning Party.” Yes, sometimes it is just corporations wanting to bump sales up an extra percentage that quarter. And that’s great! It’s how things get done in capitalism. But sometimes it’s about making the world better. That keeps me going. Advertising isn’t all bad. Advertising is neutral, if anything. It’s the application of it that makes us see it as good or bad. I love that we can influence people that strongly. Just a few people meeting in a room leads to a whole wave of change. Is that not cool?

I love the creativity of this campaign. Who else could do this? Do you see a political party pulling this kind of thing off? I love that this is just one example of a creative campaign in advertising. This is just a snowflake on the iceberg.

For all these reasons, and more that are probably too silly for me to post, I love advertising. That’s why this question can be hard to answer. There’s no one answer that sums up why I know I’m in the right place. But I know I am.

**Any UNC juniors or seniors who think this life could be for you, I seriously encourage you to apply for NSAC, the National Student Advertising Competition. The application to be on UNC’s team with Joe Bob closes tonight at 5 p.m. Apply here! NSAC is the best possible thing you could do to gain real-world advertising experience without actually being in the real world. Plus it’s really fun. And the client is Pizza Hut this year. Can you say yummy research?

 

Disclaimer: Listicles are one of my pet peeves when it comes to writing, but I couldn’t help it. Sorry not sorry, internet.

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The adult we all want to be

Lately I’ve been taking time to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a few months– not all of them, but at least a few. It’s been awesome to hear from them. I miss them all like crazy. I’m not hung up on it or anything, but sometimes when I have a quiet moment I miss the days when friends could appear minutes after receiving a text. Now they’re states and timezones away, or without technology in one case. For 99% of my friends, FaceTime and texting is a great way to get caught up. Very regulated letters for the one technology-less guy. He’s going through officer training with the Navy for the next couple of months.

In getting caught up with my friends, all of the conversations have steered towards being an adult and adjusting to grown up life. All of us have that perfect adult life that we aspire to. Here are some overlaps I’ve heard:

Unfazed by anything: So your favorite coffee shop only has half and half, but no nonfat milk? It’s all good. Your brand new apartment that is currently eating too much of your paycheck just busted a water leak? On it. Boss needs that slide deck in 15 minutes? No biggie.

Does productive things after work: That means at 5:01 p.m. you don’t go home and immediately nap or binge watch Netflix. You’re signed up for your city’s recreational kickball league, and your team happens to kick ass.

Has a cool hobby: Perhaps it’s cultivating an herb garden, or hiking every single state park on the weekends. Maybe you’re the most kickin’ knitter the world has ever met. Whatever it is, you have something that makes you happy and you stick with it.

Packs your own lunches: Some days it might be a peanut butter and jelly, in all its elementary school glory. But some days you go all out like those moms on Pinterest. You took the 10 extra minutes in the morning to pull something out of the vast wasteland that is your fridge and tied it up with a bow so mid-day zombie you might crack a smile. Also let’s talk about how much money that saves, because you’re a responsible adult with things like budgets.

Speaking of budgets…: You squirrel away every spare quarter and nickel you have so that one day, one day, you just might have enough to buy a new couch. Not that the blue stripe and stain patterned one from Craigslist isn’t great, but it’s time for an upgrade. Something a little more “you.”

Oh, and you have a style: Your apartment emits personality waves. All those DIY projects and hours spent moving furniture one inch to the left paid off to make the space your own. Your wardrobe? A carefully curated balance of mom’s vintage jewelry, investment coats, business casual and trendy pieces. It is so essentially you that you don’t actually need a monogram necklace to tell people who you are. …Do people still wear those? #sratlife

Takes pictures: It’s completely possible that a month will pass by and you’ll have been so busy you won’t realize it’s been a month. But luckily, you’re be the kind of adult who keeps mementos, takes pictures, and journals/blogs regularly. That way, you’ll have something to reminisce upon when life feels like a blur. You’ll have something to show your parents/kids/S.O./parrot (I don’t know your life) when you’re talking about the good times.

Confident: You don’t need a ThoughtCatalog article to tell you, “Yes, you’re a twentysomething, and you’ll probably be okay!” You got this, and you know it.

 

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Things I’m loving right now

I was offline for the past week while I was with Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem (a camp for children whose parents or primary caregivers have been affected by cancer) is one of the nonprofits I grew particularly attached to over the past couple of years, and I volunteer for them one week per year as a counselor for the 14-16 year old campers. This year was just as spectacularly amazing and life-changing as it was last year. I already had a year of experience with Camp Kesem so I thought I was mentally prepared, but again I was blown away by the campers. When they have every right in the world to be selfish and focus on their own difficulties, they are some of the most caring, generous and fun people I have ever met. There’s nothing quite like that warm fuzzy feeling after camp when the magic hits you.

Now that I’m all settled in at home again, I’ve returned my focus to the job hunt and post-grad life. While writing cover letters isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world, I get pretty fired up thinking about the future and all the different opportunities I have ahead of me. I’m really enjoying this stage of life that I’m in. It’s totally flexible and could be anything at this point. I know that kind of uncertainty might make some people anxious, but I’m enjoying it. It gives me a lot of chances to follow my dad’s favorite piece of advice, “the sky is the limit.” Sidenote: I realize that there is a lot beyond the sky. In fact, the vast majority of everything is outside the reach of our planet. However, I still appreciate the spirit of the phrase that has motivated me since I was a little girl. And the jobs I am applying for happen to be within the limit of the sky.

I wanted to share a few of the things that I’m loving right now. I love being able to find joy and beauty in the little things. When that happens, I love telling my friends, or the whole internet in this case.

1. There’s a lot of awesome music in the world right now. Here are some of the tracks I’m listening to.

2. Maple View Farms chocolate milk. Ohhhh it’s so yummy. Chocolate milk is usually one of my favorite treats and theirs is especially creamy and delicious. (Like everything else they produce)

3. I’ve had a lot more time to cook from scratch. Thanks, Pinterest for these great recipes! I recommend them to anyone who likes food, even a little bit. I was really inspired by all the French, Italian and Greek cuisine when I returned from the trip with my sister, so I loved finding this recipe for the vinaigrette found on every salad in France, as well as homemade mayonnaise. You know there is truly no substitute if you’ve ever had it. I also brought back a box of macaron mix that I’m saving for later (I know! *hisses* Pre-made mixes, sacrilege. But this one was carried home from France so it’s okay, right?). All my travels helped me realize just how common processed food is in America, and how much more delicious it is to keep recipes to the essentials. It’s hard to beat something as simple as a homemade loaf of bread with olive oil with freshly-ground pepper. Simple, but certainly not plain. Also, let me just say that the Greek have a way with iced coffee. Other recipes I’m loving:
· Chickpea, Feta and Parsley Salad I found this one at Weaver Street Market and immediately searched for a copycat when I got home
· Kale Salad with Pine Nuts and Cranberries It might be a little faddish with the kale, but yummy regardless
· Eggs Benedict Brunch lovers, unite! Bonus points for homemade English muffins
· Green Goddess Sandwiches Lunch has just been changed forever
· Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas Anything with black beans, yes please

4. Breaking in my new running shoes. They might hurt my knees right now…I definitely should get some inserts, but still, there’s something fun about new shoes. There’s whole new world of adventure out there! And my feet are ready.

5. It’s not a million degrees outside anymore. Granted, there is always the notorious North Carolina September heat wave, but I’m enjoying the weather right now.

6. Working from my front porch

7. Rediscovering some of my mom’s old blankets with some awesome retro designs

8. I have time to do a lot of writing, like this!

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I wish you way more than luck

You’ll see I updated my tagline to a David Foster Wallace quote. It’s from the very end of his “This Is Water” speech if you’re listening to the full version, not the 9 minute version by The Glossary.

I’ll admit that I had a rough morning today. Things that are normally easy became especially difficult for who knows what reason. As soon as I got a lunch break, I listened to the full version of This Is Water, which as I’ve mentioned before, is my favorite speech. It was assigned for my Clinical Psychology course two days ago as homework, and I was more than happy to listen to it for a second time this week. I hadn’t actually heard the full version before this week, so I’m glad I did now. It offers a lot more context.

This speech always makes me feel better. Not necessarily that it goes “There, there, honey. You’ll be okay.” It reminds me to get out of the default setting and focus on what’s important. It gives me a great reason to move on from the trivial nips and stings that might be holding me back. And that’s really all I need to be reminded sometimes.

I’m happy to share my vulnerability in this blog post. I’m a human being. To do anything otherwise would be insincere. I think that some of the most beautiful moments are when people learn how to pick themselves up or lean on a friend. That’s when you learn the most about yourself and what motivates you. If you’re lucky and honest, you’ll be happy about what you find.

I’m blessed to have amazing support from my family and friends. I truly feel that they bring out the best in me. I am certainly an optimist (not deludedly so); I like to see the best in people and I believe wholeheartedly in positivity. But that doesn’t mean reality won’t lash out every once in a while. In those times, you just have to do what you can and learn from it. And hopefully, your support system will be there, just as strong as ever.

The reason I felt the compulsion to change my tagline is to keep reminding myself of that “capital T truth” DFW talks about, and also to acknowledge the many components of success, however you define it. I know this quote wasn’t the central message of his speech, but it resonates with me. And this is my blog so I’ll do what I want. (Sorry, bad morning me is still feeling a leeeetle bit feisty.)

Also– shoutout to my girl Mary for starting a blog! Proud of you 🙂 I can’t wait to listen to all of your playlists!

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504 words about what’s going on in my brain

Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. You have to understand, Internet, that things still happen when I’m not at my computer. Perhaps even more so. “But wait, if I don’t tweet/blog/insta about it, do I even exist?!” Well funnily enough, I’ve inadvertently been doing a super scientific experiment by not posting everything I do to the interwebs, and I have successfully rejected my null hypothesis. So, yes, I do still exist, with 95% certainty! It really is a wonderful thing.

All bad jokes aside, I’ve been taking the past couple of weeks to enjoy slowing down. I had dinner with my aunt the other night, and we were talking about this stage of transition that a few of my cousins and I happen to find ourselves in. [There is a grammatically correct Jiminy Cricket chanting in my head “transition in which a few of my cousins and I happen to find ourselves” but I just can’t do it right now] She asked if I’m nervous about potentially starting in a new city and living on my own. I thought about it, and I had to say no. I feel just fine! I’ve never been one to shy away from responsibility or change. Heck, the first couple of weeks of college were some of the best in my life. I’ve held leadership positions in the majority of organizations with which I’ve been involved. I become my most efficient and focused self under pressure. So yeah, I feel ready for this. Bring it on, life!

That being said, it was been re-hee-heeally nice to slow down for a bit to just enjoy the place that I’m in and the relationships I have. Chapel Hill is a wonderful place. My friend Jackie wrote a great blog post about all the things we love about this place. (There are really a lot of things to love) I’ve loved exploring the nooks and crannies of Chapel Hill/Durham/Carrboro that I missed the past few years, and revisiting some of my favorites. It’s been nothing short of awesome getting to spend more time with my parents and friends.

This actually brings me to one of the bittersweet parts about post-grad life. I’ve heard it from so many people and read it on Thought Catalog so many times, but it truly is a lot harder to keep up with friends after graduation. It takes effort. That’s the bitter part. It’s almost too easy to let those ties fade into the past. But the sweet part is, the ones you hold onto become that much stronger because of the effort you’re putting into them.

I have just under two weeks left of classes and then I’m done for real. It’s serious this time; May graduation was just a test run. Then I’m going to make a quick road trip to DC to visit my sister and friends, then a week at Camp Kesem, and then the great question mark part of my calendar begins.

Hey, I’m excited. This is the cool part!

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