Spring can really hang you up the most.

In the 6 months since I’ve posted (…), I’ve gotten my very first promotion, suffered through more than one Atlanta snowpocalypse, seen Lady Gaga, and gone on spring break. And started a new blog. At this moment, I’m sitting on my porch during what must be the last beautiful day before summer. This is all to say that there has been neither time nor place to blog on WordPress.

That said, I have been reading a bunch of interesting Internet pieces. Here are some:

  • This salmon recipe has CHANGED. MY. (culinary) LIFE. Cooking sous vide has always seemed more than a bit pretentious and inaccessible to me. It seems so obvious, but of course you don’t need an entire sous vide machine to experiment with the technique. You can literally poach salmon in a regular ol’ plastic bag for ~9 minutes with a deep skillet. I’ve used this method the past 2 nights and have been astounded by the results. One of those things that I can’t believe I didn’t think of before seeing a blog post about it.
  • Good news for my fellow liberal arts majors: here’s why companies are desperate to hire anthropologists. Since I’ve moved into a strategy role at work, I see clearly how important critical analysis skills are. Even in the seemingly soulless world of advertising! When I graduated, I didn’t know how my degree would come into play (or if it ever would). Well, okay, the actual French major hasn’t come to my rescue recently, but the skills I learned at Agnes Scott have proved invaluable in considering consumer motivation on a critical scale.
  • There’s no shortage of thinkpieces about the 1920s, but here’s video footage of NYC’s literary scene during that time. Fabulous.
  • 40 Books That Will Make You Want to Visit France. Enough said.
  • A nice link-filled piece on nostalgia & creativity.

Finally, if you don’t live in Atlanta, there’s a chance you haven’t heard about the impending demise of student programming over at WRAS 88.5 in favor of Georgia Public Broadcasting. While I’ve quietly hoped that Atlanta’s own NPR station (WABE) would incorporate some more talk radio in the afternoons, never in a thousand years would I have thought it would be at the expense of the city’s best radio station.

When I first moved to Atlanta for school in 2006, I was moving away from my then-boyfriend, best friends, and punk community with whom I identified in Tampa. To wit, since I grew up in the suburbs, my refuge from home was the local Borders (RIP). So the first memory I have of WRAS is of a moment that year outside the Borders parking lot in Poncey Highland. I found “I Don’t Care,” a long-running weekly punk show on 88.5, and almost cried at the poignant hurt of missing home and familiarity — but I’d found a parallel in Atlanta. So in a broad-sweeping metaphor, 88.5 brought me home again. I’ve grown a lot in 8 years (!!!), but I’ve remained loyal to 88.5. I wish Georgia State University could say the same.

See you in 6 months!

On summer weekends.

Salut! I was going to begin this post with a grumpy screed about how much I hate summer and heat and sweating without the validation of having done anything (like, exercise or whatever), but ultimately I decided to keep things positive. For now.

Today was a good day. This summer has been a rainy one in Atlanta, and I am not complaining. I’ll take the daily rain over oppressive, humid heat any day. So I made some coffee, sat on my new porch, and read my new-to-me book (The 42nd Parallel) in 81-degree sun. Later, on my way to the store, Rhye and Jessie Ware played on the radio back-to-back, both of whom are on Emily’s Ultimate Summer 2013 Jamz list, so with my windows down and the incredible late summer light streaming in and the music, everything paired in that really incredible, ineffable way that makes a body hate Georgia summers a little less. Allows the choice for giddy optimism over the staid sweaty sulk. Maybe summer’s almost over.

Tonight I am poaching some salmon and streaming the VMAs with the windows open. Caps off a well-spent week alone, complete with an impromptu BFF sleepover on Wednesday. You’re never too old for anything, maybe.


Some other things:

  • Bummer Bullet: my grandmother’s historic house in South Tampa (pictured above, in all its Grey Gardens glory) is being razed this week to make room for yet another nouveau riche McMansion. So reading about this beautiful 1917 home in Douglasville, GA (“The Rock House”) brings up a lot of feels, few of them generous toward the new property owner of my grandmother’s lot.
  • The End of Saks as We Knew It” on the gradual decline of department store Saks Fifth Avenue. An interesting takeaway: both Saks and Nordstrom now have more outlet stores than regular retail locations.
  • Inside Prince’s fridge with Heavy Table. No seriously why so much mustard
  • Speaking of food: henceforth, I only want to read about food if it’s written by Deadspin’s Albert Burneko. Definitely snort-laughed several times while reading his piece on cooking bivalves. Read it. You will not be disappointed.

Later, gators. I got salmon to poach!

On starting over, a year later.

So, here I am. A year and some change later, I’m sitting in my new-to-me kitchen/dining room/living room combo, trying to get over a particularly awful summer cold and finally worked up the courage to get back in the (WordPress) game. Apologizing for not blogging is perhaps more irritating than not blogging at all, so I’ll save it — in any event, it’s not like I haven’t been around, as I occasionally deign to update my Tumblr and sometimes my agency’s blog. So there!

First things first, what’s new since I last posted (the truncated version):

  1. I got the job. I’ve now been working for an ad agency for over a year now (uh, okay; a year and 2 weeks), and it’s been really, really good. Good for me, good for my student loan payments, good for stretching my brain and forcing me to learn new things every day. Incidentally, this is the first job I have had that has lasted over a year. It’s funny to think that this go-round, I’m gearing up for an annual “creative performance review,” not steeling myself for yet another nonprofit contract conversation that inevitably ends in “Sorry, no budget.” This has been a year of tremendous, incredible growth both professionally and personally. Even when I’m exhausted and feeling creatively spent, I remember to be thankful.
  2. I moved into a new apartment, exchanging a top-floor view of the Agnes Scott campus for a ground-level porch overlooking a shaded parking lot. It’s a little more romantic than it sounds. I also swapped a 15-minute walk to downtown Decatur for a 4-minute one. I’m not instinctively wired for change, if you couldn’t tell.
  3. I am capable of making very good paella.

OK, here’s to hoping this sorry excuse for a post gives this blog a new lease on life.

Here are some interesting things I’ve found on the Internet recently — that I have actually been storing for this blog and this blog alone:

  • Language is a Virus: How Loanwords Move the World’s Tongue. “Loanwords explain how and why English speakers can say things like Frankfurter, pretzel, hinterland, dreck, or kaput without their conversational co-conspirator batting an eye.” via Tumblr! I love it, this stuff is seriously fascinating. (via Daily Dot, h/t Tumblr Storyboard)
  • On Being an Aging Hipster Who Drinks in the Park.” When you’re 25 and feel simultaneously old and like a baby, pieces like this tend to hit the spot. Oh well. Sometimes it’s hard to be a walking stereotype.
  • Zelda’s Moment.” So, I think we can say that the hype’s died down over the latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, and that’s fine by me (I loved it and am OK with my unpopular opinion). I read Nancy Milford’s Zelda: A Biography on a sleeper train to Italy in 2008, and the fascination with the perhaps lesser-chronicled Fitzgerald held strong.
  • Have you ever wanted to read a hyper-academic analysis of Weird Twitter? Here you go, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • A Brief History of ‘It Girls,'” a list from LongReads. Good for Sundays.

So, that’s all for now. While you’re anxiously awaiting my return, here’s an important screengrab from Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow:

thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

Between 2 computers, I’m constantly flipping between daily work, job applications and promoting the Nonprofit Summit; needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and skimming, and not a whole lot of personal writing. Because I have a self-mandated deadline to finish X amount of applications before Friday, I figured I’d just give a short list of things I’ve been reading/enjoying across the Internet in the past week — in the hope of getting things closer to a normal pace next week.

  • What Foodies Can’t Get (Not Even at Whole Foods).” If you’ve spent any time with me in the past year or so, you know I’ve gotten passionate about food access and how privilege can affect the dialogue around “good” food. This is definitely a topic I’ll be coming back to when I have more time to rant and rave – in the meantime, this post from the Midwest Sustainable Cities Symposium is excellent.
  • A 5-Step Technique for Producing Ideas, circa 1939. I’m not sure if I think it’s odd or not that what’s spurred me back into blogging has been advertising. Ad agency blogs, advertising books, agency-produced visuals. “Knowledge is basic-to-good creative thinking but that it is not enough, that this knowledge must be digested and eventually emerge in the form of fresh, new combinations and relationships…a good idea has, as it were, self-expanding qualities. It stimulates those who see it to add to it.”
  • I didn’t really have lunch today, so I’m thinking about food a lot. Here’s a great profile on Holeman & Finch bread. H&F demi-baguettes are $1 at the Grant Park and East Atlanta Village Farmer’s Markets, FYI.
  • Why we have a case of the Mondays. I get to work just before 9 every morning, but don’t really hit my stride until ~10, and can work solidly up until about 2:30. Before and after, it’s more or less system obliteration by caffeine.

Happy Monday. I’ll be home in Florida this weekend, enjoying St. Pete Beach with my mom. Until next time, here’s this:

spring 2012.

So, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve come back to this blog, after a long time spent trying to figure out how to … well, get to it. Sometimes you go so long without writing anything of personal substance that the idea of returning is, more or less, fraught with low-level panic and the pervasive fear of mediocrity.

As someone who is 24 is perhaps wont to do, I’ve spent these long months making new friends and trying to ascertain where my life is headed, and if the person I’m shaping up to be is a person I want to become. This is not a new thing. This year has been weirdly instrumental in terms of grown-up direction — as in, it’s certainly resulted in more bulletpoints to add to a thankfully more-or-less linear resumé, the importance of which cannot be discounted as I enter the job search for the 3rd time. I won’t even go into the complaints about looking for gainful employment as they are not a new thing, either; it’s all sort of the same grousing on different levels of intensity.

I may have finally hit the point of social media saturation, an incredible thing. It pretty much starts and ends with Pinterest. I’ve been a member for a long time, but on a sick day a couple of weeks ago tried to figure out why everyone has been freaking out about it lately.

My friend David and I have come to the conclusion that Pinterest is, in essence, the less hipster version of Svpply, a site which I still think is great — even if my activity has sort of petered out, given I’ve been doing more measurable, deliverable work at work this year. In any event, as I continue to try to work out Pinterest/why I should care about it/what makes it any more nuanced or interesting of a platform than anything else, I am kind of astounded by how much more immediately popular my items are on Pinterest than on Tumblr. I can’t really figure out why, except for the obvious fact that there are a lot of bored twentysomething white women out there who cannot get enough of macaron pictures or Sophia Loren “moodboards.” Another story for another time, maybe.

The issue of copyright infringement on Pinterest is an interesting one; I wonder if all of this hubbub is not just because a lot of Pinterest users aren’t careful about sourcing/crediting their images. Like, if you’re using a site like Svpply in the manner for which it’s intended — sort of an aggregate marketplace that allows you to categorize items in a way that codifies your interests, in a blabbery way of putting it — you shouldn’t be in too much trouble with the law on that end. If you’re “pinning” or posting something from Etsy, the nature of the platform (in this case, Svpply/Pinterest) is to link it back to the marketplace/seller, which creates a much more effective way to do e-commerce (IMO of course, and not knowing a whole lot about e-commerce, generally speaking). Tumblr is in the same way: If you’re allowing users just to post tilt-shift pictures of a sunset with a empty quote about ~sadness~ without any sort of image crediting, or a picture of a Modcloth dress with no link back to the original page, then of course there’s going to be issues of intellectual property/copyright infringement as applicable. This is kind of a meandering rant, and eventually I’ll do a better job.

The point to all this is, I really do need to get back on the blogging bicycle, and get over my fear of the “sophomore slump” when it comes to this one. I fear Tumblr has made me complacent and obsessed with short-form. And, I work too much and too hard at my real job, and I’ve got to chill out on that.

Words to stand by:

“When I was writing The Keep, my writing was so terrible. It was God-awful. My working title for that first draft was, A Short Bad Novel. I thought: ‘How can I disappoint?’ So, just write and be happy that you did it. You stuck to the routine. You’re kind of holding the place so that you’re present for when something good is ready to come.”

Creative Things I’ve been reading (and liking, but probably not Pinning):

social networks have I known …

If you’re tech news-obsessed like yours truly, you’ve probably heard about Friendster deleting all of its users’ info at the end of this month. If we’re being honest/unfriendly, reading about Friendster’s demise in 2011 is kind of like finding a really old, mildewy pair of jeans in the back of your closet. Er, perhaps alongside that collection of white belts and “artfully” distressed thrift store shirts (and to further the metaphor of a 2002 ‘scene kid,’ let’s imagine them as skinny jeans, rolled up a single time). Not like I had any of those; ahem.

So, anyway, I logged into my long-untouched Friendster account and experienced a little secondhand embarrassment. For myself. I created my Friendster account in ’03, after some prodding by a friend (full disclosure: he wanted a “testimonial” from a female so he would look interesting and desirable to all the cool hipster ladies of the Internet; do with that what you will); looking at my Friendster info now, I have to say that I may have been a lot cooler at 14 than I am at 23. This is a startling revelation.

Rule No. 1 for a Teenage Internet Hipster: Take Yourself As Seriously As Possible.

In all honesty, I’m not too concerned about Friendster deleting my data. I don’t have anything spicy or too embarrassing up there (ha-ha, I saved the good stuff for my LiveJournal), just a fairly accurate display of pseudo-intellectualism. Friendster engagement does reflect the first real major step in social networking as we now know it. I’m going to try not to make too many more sweeping generalizations about Generation Y/Millenial/Me/Narcissistic and the digital world and blah blah blah, but it is true that I’ve grown up “with” the Internet. I’ve had an online identity, to one degree or another, since I was about 12, using AOL and posting diligently to music message boards.

My friends and I were really into Geocities and Angelfire and all sorts of site-building hosts that, in retrospect, were really rudimentary and full of glittery cat GIFs. But it’s the experience that counts, right? I also remember learning super-basic design skills on Expage. I probably created around 10 different Expage sites, and was practically religious about writing the HTML code by hand so I’d remember it for later. Even though by current standards, my parents really should have been on their A game for parental controls (after all, there are few things more dangerous than an insatiably curious, precocious tween with Internet access); if they’d been more diligent, I probably wouldn’t be confidently cresting the social media wave like I am now. Pats on the back all around!

I certainly didn’t think about it this way at the time, but it’s kind of interesting to think of being a pre-teen and being so involved in digital community-building. I actually made some really good friends over the Internet; which, naturally, has become a less weird thing over time. Some of whom, in the manner of Kevin Bacon, I shared very few degrees of separation. (e.g., Dani: a girl from Omaha I talked about music with over AIM/the aforementioned AOL message board; who auditioned at some of the same theatre conservatory schools as I did in the pre-college days; who ended up at University of Southern California and became a good acquaintance of one of my best friends from home, Andrew, who was incidentally an Acting major at USC; who startled me with a phone call during my first year of college to inform me that he had met Dani, My Internet Friend. Kevin Bacon has nothing on this.)

Tumblr has also been an excellent way of “meeting” folks, not to mention the people I’ve met at conferences thanks to Twitter. The progression of more complex, community-based platforms has been nothing but intuitive for me, even if my digital footprint makes me roll my eyes at times. Speaking of Tumblr, I came across this timeline on my feed the other day, which speaks to a lot of the stuff I just talked about (the image links to source):

So I’m not going to parade around with how Internet-active I am or have been, but I do think it’s interesting (and a little weird?) to have engaged with nearly every “Important Internetty” platform listed in the timeline. To be fair, my older sister was the one of us to discover Napster, so she wins the Cool Internet Point for this round — although I can say with some pride that my first Napster’d song was The Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon” in the summer of 1999. Hair flip!

I’ve been batting around the idea of having some friends write guest posts on my Fellowship blog about their experiences “growing up” with online communication, but I suppose it will all depend on who’s willing and able. The topic of digital communities is endlessly fascinating to me! I like thinking about Twitter as an exercise in linguistics and brevity (the latter clearly being something I struggle with); Tumblr as a means of cycling information in a dynamic, quantifiable way; Svpply/Pinterest (et al) as a potentially SUPER effective model for online consumerism.

The next post will probably see me returning to my 14-year old self, if only because I am currently in the throes of an existential crisis and feel the urge to revisit the days before student loans and being a grown-up. Deal with it.

(is it just me, or is there something vaguely terrifying about this video?)

creative juicing, typeface doodling.

It’s just about that time in the semester, wherein I have a lot of normal College work to do, and manage still to neglect my blogger duties. Which is funny, because part of my job is motivating students and faculty to get into the blogging habit — coming up with content, fleshing it out, making it go live. I read somewhere that it takes around 30 days to pick up and/or quit a habit; 30 days, if you’re someone not necessarily given to constant writing exercises, is a whole lot of creative juicing. And if you’re me, who’s currently juggling 10 different projects — none of which have much to do with this or the other blog — brainstorming new post content can get relegated to the back burner. Aside from this post sounding vaguely whiny, I stumbled across an interesting Tumblr today that got me thinking about new content to post, as well as my non-job-specfiic Internet interests. In terms of posts that will need to appear on the DDF blog in the next few weeks, a more nuanced one on interesting blog platform alternatives (as in, alternatives to WordPress or Blogger) is high up on the list. I use Tumblr for my amateur photography; generally, I prefer Tumblr’s layout flexibility over the ol’ WordPress free theme standbys. There also seems to be a more vibrant visual community on Tumblr, due in part to the fact that it’s basically picture-based Twitter (in my opinion, anyway). The technical aspects of this particular conversation are part of another story for another time, though.

Anyway, I recently started “following” a Tumblr called PrettyClever, a microblog offshoot of the eponymous graphic design firm in Chicago. By way of PrettyClever’s reblog, I came across design work life‘s post on Joe Newton’s typography sketches.

(sketch by Joseph Newton)

I’ve always been interested in typography, possibly derived from my college years when I was a research paper snob who refused to turn in anything that wasn’t set in Courier New (harking back to my “college years” makes them seem a lot less recent than, uh, 10 months ago). I also have a very soft spot in my heart for serif fonts, particularly those of the Garamond family. It’s cool to think of how typography affects us on many levels, as consumers, activists, and scholars alike; it identifies us in our font elitism (refer to all arguments against the usage of Papyrus, Comic Sans, Lucida Handwriting, et al), and is capable of changing our perception of the written (well, typed) word. It’s an historically intricate art form that resonates strongly today, which is cool from the academic side of things. Aside from that, though, how letters appear on a screen really make me consider my own handwriting, how my uppercase Gs differ from someone else’s. Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season, maybe; all’s I know is Newton’s type sketches have inspired me to rethink those Gs. Maybe making them fly into Hs?

Today my post-work plans are to hang out in the park by my house, absorb some pre-spring Atlanta smog sun and try my hand at a more visually interesting version of the Latin alphabet. Haaaappy Friday!