Making Stuff, Doing Things, Stubbing Toes

My first semester of junior year is over. I’m not dead. I have all of my limbs, still, though my arms are uncomfortably sore and I think my kidneys are kind of twinging every time I move (at least one of those is from moving). All my earthly possessions—with the exception of some canned asparagus that I left my roommates, because I am a giver—are sitting in my parents’ house, waiting until I get tired of stubbing my toes on boxes for me to unpack them.

This was a weird semester. For one, I was kind of worried that I was going to get C’s in several of my classes, though so far that hasn’t happened. The experience has taught me that I’m no longer a good multiple choice test taker and that I have no ability to predict my own levels of success, which I could have told you four months ago without having to be reduced to manic hair-pulling during the semester, I’m pretty sure. Good to have my suspicions confirmed, I guess. Cortisol is healthy, right?

My major goal for the break is to finish the short story that I started early this semester and quit working on in order to spend more time on drinking heavily and whining about class. It involves zombies and booze. The other major plan is to push an ebook I wrote last semester through the painful process of being edited into something that won’t shame my ancestors into retroactive seppuku, and see about pushing it through Kindle land.

In the times when I’m not doing that, I’ll be busy moving back into the room that I’ll be leaving in two months, because my life basically consists of putting things into boxes and taking them back out in a somewhat irritating cycle. It’s either a terrible metaphor for my life or a sign that maybe I no longer need to bring a blow dryer with me everywhere now that my hair is two inches long.

My broader goal over the next couple of months is to start making some things. I don’t even care what, but my hands are itchy and my keyboard is getting all greasy because all I ever do is type. So, if everyone I know gets custom butter and some limoncello for Christmas? You’ll know that this is why.

I’m in the Target catalog!

I’m in this year’s Target back-to-school catalog (as is my friend/coblogger Laura). I’m on the back, next to the legitimately kinda funny copy, “Keep your friends closer. Keep your family closer… ish.” (It’s advertising cell phones with which one can presumably screen one’s calls.) My head is right above the cell phone which I actually use and heartily recommend, if you’re going to be on Virgin Mobile. An editor at Target contacted me and Laura about the gig several months ago, so it’s awesome to finally see it in print.

Multiple people have been very sweet and posted copies of this on Facebook, which is very nice of them and makes me realize that folks actually read some of the stuff I put out, so that’s pretty neat! I managed to totally freak out my lab partner by stealing her copy of the catalog, since she didn’t know that my last name is what it is.

In other me-related news, I changed the background for my writing portfolio, which makes me feel pretty silly (it is a very large picture of my face), but whatever. Many thanks to Alesha, who took the photo in exchange for a bike/helped me set off fireworks in a pool last weekend.

How I Wound Up Freelancing

At my building staff meeting tonight, the question of the week (our little closing ritual) was where we saw ourselves in five years. It being Emory, half the group answered “med school.” I said that I was planning to be working in the Smithsonian by then, but on second thought (after much debate among the med school kids about whether residencies are in a lottery that, I must confess, I did not pay attention to) I said that I might want to run social media outreach for an interesting company. One of my co-workers said that she could see me doing that, and another pointed out that I have job skills that are not like normal college kid job skills.

Though I don’t think I’m unusually skilled, I do realize that my sources of income outside of school–primarily freelance writing gigs–are weird. So, I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I stumbled into getting paid for writing.

I didn’t do paid writing until this year. As a high school student, I spent three years as an editor on the school paper, the last two as the Editor-in-Chief, and that gave me some experience writing on a deadline and a lot more experience with badly-applied AP Style, group writing, and how to manage an illegal install of InDesign and hook up a network the school didn’t want–plus how to deal with our printers in rural Georgia and fiddle with a WordPress supplement that my teacher didn’t want. All of these–particularly group dynamics and learning to work around silly restrictions–were tremendously useful skills, but when I graduated I quit using most of them.

This summer, while working at school, I saw that Kelly put out a call for new writers on HackCollege. I’ve been reading the site since I was in high school (yes, I’m that kid) so I applied. I was accepted, and after a truly geeky happy dance, started writing for the site regularly. I don’t get paid for the site*, but having someone force me to write regularly in a non-academic context made me more confident in my writing abilities and gave me a body of work that other people read.

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Global Warming FTW!

Screenshot from Weather.com showing that it was 46 degrees in Tulsa, OK today.

This is freaking me out.

On Saturday, the family and I ventured up to Winslow, AR to stay with my grandparents for Christmas. After the 14-hour drive (complete with our very own simple dog) to my grandparents’ my family loaded back up into the car for the 2 1/2 hour drive to Tulsa, OK that we make every year in order to placate my sister and me. It may have been 8 years ago, but dammit, we are still bitter about being uprooted.

In Tulsa I got to see a few of my friends who were in town and eat some Mexican fusion, so it was good times all around. We spent part of the day wandering around Utica Square, in December, in Tulsa, without jackets. You guys, this is freaking me out. The first year we went back to Tulsa, my friends and I hung out at the zoo because we were 12 and what the hell else were we going to do. We had to cower inside the rain forest exhibit to restore feeling to our extremities. This weather is unseasonably nice, is what I’m saying.

Because I am from the Midwest, this mostly makes me idly wonder what God is going to do in order to even the karmic scales. I’m thinking a hail storm, tomorrow. Given that my grandparents’ power just went out (they live on a mountain in a town with 399 people), this may, in fact, be the route that He has chosen to go. Still not worse than a tornado! Continue reading

Vaseline on the Lens of Your Memories

The Dalai Lama wears a sun visor to block stage lights. He is delightful. Image courtesy of Flickr user Ferne Millen. Licensed under CC 2.0.

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It has been a busy week, what with it only being Tuesday. First off, today I saw the Dalai Lama speak at Emory, which was pretty sweet. (He had a tiny sun visor!) Plus, tonight my residents managed to fill a UNICEF box in literally five minutes. They are the bomb! Plus, my OpenStudy blog post went up and I registered the Riot Campus domain and life is good.

While at Emory after the Dalai Lama talk, my cohorts and I ran into literally every frickin’ junior at the school that we knew. It was kind of insane. The non-Oxfordians were wondering who the hell the screaming people in the sweatpants blocking the aisles were, I’m sure.

There was an uncomfortable run-in with a member of our group and her Atlanta campus ex. She came to our table, somewhat irritated: “I wish I could quit feeling! I just want an off switch!” I do not know this girl that well, so I didn’t say much, but I wanted so badly to say that I felt her pain. I have been there! It took me six-ish months and a lot of my life becoming awesome to not be there! And even now, with the knowledge that it was a bad relationship and I am better off single and holy shit how awesome is my life right now, even with that, when I saw my ex’s best friend sitting in the chairs behind me today I started to feel physically ill. I don’t think it ever goes away entirely. Continue reading