Monday, April 29, 2013

Introducing Weekly Dose Of Weird

           Growing up I always liked weird things.  I liked to find out unusual facts and the stories behind them.  I liked to hear the ghost stories no one had heard yet.  Then with the advent of the internet I found that many more people liked these things as well.  Suddenly there were websites full of weird, funny laws.  Then came books like Weird USA.  And now comes Weekly Dose of Weird.
           Weekly Dose of Weird is the newest feature on Written In Fairydust.  Every Wednesday I’ll be posting something odd, strange, unusual – weird!  It won’t just be a list of weird facts, it’ll be a short article on each topic.  
You get to see a different part of me from this.  I get to put on my nerd hat (which, let’s be honest, I never take it off) and do some research.  Which I guess is really more my academic hat than my nerd hat.  I also get to dust off the reporting hat I haven’t used since tenth grade journalism class.  More of these articles will be historical than modern for a few reasons.  One, I’m not fully comfortable writing my opinions on currently living people in a column titled “Weekly Dose of Weird.”  Two, because I’m a historian and I’m most comfortable researching the past, though I also like researching everything else.  Three, because the greatest weird things are the old weird things, the ones that have stood the test of time and not been proven hoaxes or scientific phenomena.

Often this will probably be something creepy: abandoned hospitals, the Lemp Mansion, female serial killers of the nineteenth century, but sometimes it will also just be a strange animal fact explained, or a weird news story from my local newspaper here in Washington researched a little more.  Don’t worry though, it’ll always be weird.

Stay Tuned.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Social Media

I’m becoming something of a social media geek.  I’ve been on Pinterest since it was founded (back when you had to request invitations from other people who’d gotten in - fancy); I’ve been on Twitter since I think 2010 (when I started my first serious blog, which I’ve since shut down); I’ve been on Tumblr since 2011 during my freshman year at college.  I check my Klout score on a regular basis, I interact on the Nanowrimo message boards during November, I spend far too much time on Instagram.

So I decided to make it easier to find me and interact with me on social media sites.  

Twitter’s probably my favorite social media website.  I spend an average of five hours on it per week.  My twitter is mostly about Phi Sigma Pi, Student Historical Society, and the occasional random thought.  I also sometimes interact with authors, so if you’re interested in finding authors on twitter, I have a good list.

Probably my second favorite social media website.  I also spend a lot of time on here, especially in between classes when I have nothing else to do.  I don’t instagram that much in my everyday life, but I always instagram events, and I love following other people’s instagrams.  

I really do spend too much time on Pinterest.  I have boards for everything from future apartment decor to character inspiration to cute elephants.  Most of what I pin is repinned, so there isn’t a lot of original content on here.  But if you want to know what kind of cupcake recipes I want to try, this is the place to find them.
Find me here.

I’ve been on Polyvore since 2009 or so.  Polyvore isn’t as active of a social media site as many other sites are, but it’s still a lot of fun.  I use it to get inside my characters’ heads by designing their average day outfits.  I also create wish lists for each season, curate collections of outfits I’ve worn in the past, and occasionally use it to create an outfit inspired by a fictional character.  This is one I’m not on too often, but I do enjoy it, so here goes.
Find me here.

Nanowrimo Forums
These aren’t very active when it’s not Nano or Camp Nano, but when I’m participating I’m all over these forums.  Whether it’s trying to name new characters, creating motivation for each other, or looking at cool new inspirational covers, I spend a lot of time on these forums while I’m Nano-ing.  
Be my Wrimo friend @JeanniGrace.

So, if I’m not studying for business, or public relations, or media, why am I so into social media?  Well for the same reason that I like to blog: I can connect with people. Business people and PR people and communications people use social media for their jobs and businesses, but I use social media to connect.  I can be very introverted, but when I get comfortable I can also be extremely extroverted.  In real life I have to push down this glut of fear in my stomach that everyone’s going to think I’m weird and be mean to me before I can get out there and talk to people.  But being on the Eboard for the Student Historical Society and having to talk to this massed group of history students really helped with this, because it made me realize that whether I wanted to or not I was getting up in front of them, and whether they thought I was weird or not, I was the one with the information they wanted to know.  

On the internet, with social media, I’m not quite as fearful of judgment, though I am still fearful of judgment.  I think we’re all less fearful of it online, because we’re away behind screens.  Obviously, this can be a bad thing when it leads to people feeling like they’re allowed to say anything and end up cyberbullying people.  On the other hand, I think it can be great because people can connect on a more authentic level when the barrier of judgment is removed. If I can share my weird thoughts with the world through twitter, someone else can share their weird thought with me in response to one of my weird thoughts, and then we can discuss weird thoughts and how weird they are.  
So connect with me.  Tweet at me, follow my instagram, make inspiration boards on Pinterest and share your favorite pieces of clothing and outfit inspiration on Polyvore.  And then send those links to me so we can connect about them.  

Stay Tuned.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I don’t really know what to say about Boston yet.  But if I don’t write anything, that won’t feel like me.  So this post will be a stream of consciousness, all of my thoughts about this horrible tragedy.  If you don’t want to read any more about it, skip this post.  

I’ve wanted to say something about Boston since it happened, but so much more has been going on and the stories have been evolving so much, that I just couldn’t get a handle on any of it.  Now that the bombers have been killed/captured I feel like it’s an okay time to talk.
Ever since I came in and heard from my roommate what had happened, I’ve been obsessively checking twitter and crying.  I cry selflessly for those who’ve been hurt, scared, disconnected from those they love; I cry selfishly because I remember what that’s like.  I grew up in New York, and I was in fourth grade during the World Trade Center.  I remember that fear, that lack of understanding, not knowing whether the people you love are alright.  When I first heard about what had happened in Boston it brought me straight back to standing in my elementary school auditorium and seeing the secretaries and aids with a small portable tv watching news coverage.  The only image I remember from the tv is the towers burning before they realized we were there and shut it off.  Now, in a world with social media and internet news sites, you can’t shut it off.  

All I can really say is that we do not need more violence in this world.  We do not need more war.  There is a quote by Albert Einstein that I thought of early in this tragedy.  In a letter to Harry Truman he wrote “I know not with which weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”  In this time of tragedy, we can only believe in the power of human compassion and love.  I believe that human compassion will always way out human-borne evil.  I have to.  

Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Relay For Life Recap

This weekend was Relay For Life, an event that benefits the American Cancer Society.  On my campus, Relay is a big deal.  Teams compete in a March Madness style bracket, compete for Team of the Night, and compete to bring in the most money.  (I have to brag, my team won the bracket and Team of the Night and came in fourth out of 63 teams in fundraising). We have a bounce house (complete with jousting this year, I totally lost when I played), magic show, two acapella concerts, dance games on a wii, face painting, bake sales, dance performances, great music, group zumba, and group yoga.  My team raised over $3,400 before Relay, and then that night another $181 from a bake sale.  Only about twelve of us stayed the whole night, and by the morning we were dragging our blankets around the track while we all walked the final hour of laps together.  

(two of my teammates, and brothers, jousting in the bounce house)

I arrived late because I had to work a symposium for the history department, so I missed the opening ceremony and the survivor lap, but even without those two beautiful things, Relay was a constant show of how much compassion there really is in the world.  When people talk about the apathy of my generation, I will forever point them to this Relay, and to ones like it all across the country that are planned, executed, and attended by college students, and to the ones at high schools.  You can say that this generation doesn’t care about anyone, but in the face of something like this, where a college community raised over $60,000 in a couple of months for such a fantastic cause, how can you believe that?

One of the most moving parts of the night was the luminaria ceremony.  A luminaria is a small bag that has the name of a person who fought cancer on it, and they’re filled with glow sticks.  Then a ceremony honoring all of those people is held, and a lot of people cry, including this girl.  I cried so much my Little and I had to hold each other just to walk.  

Then of course came staying up all night.  You’re allowed to nap, or even sleep for several hours, and you certainly don’t have to stay all night, but I did, and most of my team that stayed the whole night stayed up the whole night.  There was a scavenger hunt, which my team completed all but one section of, and there is a lot of music to keep you up.  At about 2 am I led some friends who weren’t on my team, and two who were, in a “We don’t care what we look like, we need to stay awake!” parade dancing around the track.  
(Morning yoga together, can you spot me?)

The whole night is full of activities as well.  We had a dance team, two singing performances, zumba, and yoga.  Despite the deep sadness at the luminaria ceremony, the whole night was a lot of fun.  Spending twelve hours awake with my brothers fighting for a good cause was worth the little sleep I got afterward.  

If there is a relay near you, I encourage you to participate.  If you can’t participate, then donate.  The money goes to the American Cancer Society, and everyone knows someone who’s had cancer.  
(the tiny one in the middle of the bottom row is my brother Elise)
And if you go to a Relay somewhere, thank the people who planned it, it’s a lot of work.

Stay Tuned.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Things That Remind Me Just How Young I Am

Music on Campus
One of my brothers has a band on campus (The Flying Jays, check them out!).  They’re great.  I recently went to one of their shows, and picked up their cd, at one of our campus coffee houses.  The show was free, the room was packed, and there were people standing on the windowsill outside to listen.  Some other brothers and I had claimed a corner couch/table area and sat on the windowsill inside in order to see over the standing crowd.  This is not the first (nor the last) free music show I’ve been to this semester.  There are open mic nights nearly every other week, the College of Arts and Sciences hosts an event called “Rock the CASbah” which has free music performed by CAS students and faculty, the choirs almost all do free shows, as do the other on campus bands.  Even just sitting on the quad I get free music from other students who play guitars, violins, banjos, or sing.  
Last year I attended a concert at the 9:30 Club and the ticket cost was fairly low for them, but still more than I would’ve liked to pay.  When I get to attend free music events on campus, it reminds me that I’m not yet in my mid-twenties, that I’m barely a twenty-something at all.  Free (good) music where I live?  Yes please.  

Being on Campus in General

My campus is not very large, the homeland security facility next door is actually much larger.  We do have a quad, but it’s pretty small too.  This week it’s gotten into the eighties and nineties, so people have been out on the quad in droves, including me.  Even just walking to class, let alone the time that I spend reading on the grass and just lounging in the sun, reminds me that there are so many other people on my campus, and it’s reminded me of just how young I really am.  I can feel ancient, but I am only twenty, and I’ve just barely started my life journey.  
The fact is that I’m a college student, yes I’m a college student who is about to leave college, and a college student with a fairly mature mind, but I’m still a college student.  I’ve got a lot of future ahead of me, and I realize that most when I’m walking around my campus and see other people my own age just quadding and reading and living.  Being on my campus reminds me that my days are still full of infinite possibility, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.  

My Friends’ Love Lives
I’m not going to go into detail, and I’m not going to discuss my own love life on here.  But to speak in general terms, a lot of the long high school and college sweetheart relationships I know are breaking up, and then those people are going out and dating others.  I’ve always seen these relationships as static, as permanent parts of my social landscape.  But they’re not.  They’re changing, growing, reshaping, and sometimes breaking apart.  This has, so far, always been for the better of both people involved.  
Even though most people would probably have expected these relationships to break up, I didn’t.  Coming to terms with the fact that all of these relationships are impermanent and just as subject to the winds of change as my master’s degree plans has reminded me that even though sometimes I feel 32, I’m still 20.  Change can be a really good thing.


This is related to the next one, but it’s also individual.  I’ve had wanderlust as long as I can remember.  Traveling all over the world just me, a duffel bag of clothes, and a notebook, sounds amazing sometimes.  Most of the time I’m pretty grounded.  But sometimes I just really want to go somewhere new alone.  Since I moved to DC I’ve loved wandering around various parts of the city alone.  I hop on the metro, pick an area, and just go.  
I also really love driving around Missouri with my mom and just seeing what we can find.  We discovered once that Kimswick, Missouri is closed on Mondays (not just a few stores, the whole town shuts down).  Right now I’d love to get on a megabus and go visit somewhere like the beach at Ocean City, Maryland, or Durham, North Carolina where a couple of my friends live.  I’d love to hop on a plane and go see Venice or Edinburgh or Cardiff.  
My wanderlust forces me to remember that even though my mind sometimes feels really old, I really am young, and even my old mind/old soul remembers that subconsciously.  Even if I don’t remember all the time that I’m twenty, in those moments when I look out at the gray sky of Washington, DC (or more recently the bright blue sky of Washington) and I just want to leave, then I remember.  

Looking at New Cities to Live In
After I graduate from college I want to go straight to getting my master’s degree beginning the next fall.  After that I want to take a break and work for a while before I keep going for my PhD so that I don’t burn out.  Both while I’m in my master’s program and in that period away from school I want to live away from my parents and off the east coast.  Right now I’m looking at schools everywhere, as I mentioned in my last post.  My main prospects, at least as far as those in the US, are Chicago and Indianapolis.  I love the Midwest, and I really want to live here or in the Rocky Mountain region.  I’ve felt really tied down for a long time, really stuck.  But I’m not tied down yet, and I may be sticky, but I’m not yet stuck in any one place.  
Looking at all of these new possibilities makes me feel so unbelievably young.  I can move to Chicago and get a job in a museum there after graduation if I want.  I can go to Indianapolis and teach high school history after I get my master’s (I think....).  I can move to Wyoming and freelance write for a historical magazine or National Geographic.  Looking at grad schools may show me my options narrowing, but at the same time looking at the possibilities in the future really does remind me that I’m still young and I still have hundreds of options.  

So friends, even though sometimes I feel really, really old, I also sometimes feel really young.  Some things remind me that even though I’m about to end this amazing chapter of my life, I still have a lot more chapters to write.  

Stay Tuned.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Things That Make Me Feel Old

To be fair I don’t really have the time to knit too much right now.  Which is really unfortunate, since I also really love knitting.  It’s calming, it creates something productive, and it really helps me learn to focus (which is a life goal!  more on that later).  Right now my project is a mug cozy, then a scarf next.  The mug cozy is a short project, just something to put around my cocoa or herbal tea mugs to keep my hands from getting burned.  The scarf is hopefully going to be something I wear in the winter.  Both are going to be green, my second favorite color, since it’s the only yarn I have with me at school.  
Knitting also makes me feel old because it seems like everyone I know can’t even sew a button on, let alone knit a scarf.  I love that I can take some sticks, yarn, and my hands and actually make something.  When I’m stressed out and feeling totally useless, I take to my needles and knit a few rows.  There’s something about not only the repetition but the fact that this actually produces something that calms me right down.  
Why not pick up a skein of yarn and some needles yourself and give it a try?

Going to Bed “Early”
I don’t go to bed early all that often.  I usually go to bed around midnight to 12:30, sometimes 11, sometimes 1.  But for college students, that’s early.  I know a lot of people who are up until 5 and then sleep till 9 and go get the next day.  And they’re not up partying (okay, some of them are) most of them are up doing homework and writing papers.  Luckily for me I can usually manage to get everything done on time and still sleep at least 6 hours a night.  But going to bed “early” makes me feel old, like I’m not a part of my generation.  It makes me feel like I’m a grandparent.  At the same time, it’s the greatest thing to wake up actually refreshed the next morning.  So, you win some you lose some.

People I Know Having Children
People I know, people my own age, have been having children since I was about 16.  But that didn’t really make me feel old.  Now people I know having children makes me feel so much older than my twenty years.  Why?  Because now the people I know having children are usually having them on purpose.  When I was 16 the people I knew having children were accidentally pregnant, not intentionally.  
Recently one of my fraternity brothers got married and is pregnant.  It makes me feel ancient that someone my own age, someone I’ve known since freshman year, has a husband, a dog, a house, and a baby on the way.  How is that even possible?  

Our generation is extremely nostalgic.  Just look at tumblr or buzzfeed.  Half the articles are about the “best” things from our shared childhood.  Maybe we’re more nostalgic than previous generations because we’re looking out at a bleak future full of debt and low employment opportunities.  Some older people say we don’t have drive because we’re so nostalgic, but I don’t think that’s true at all.
I think we’re nostalgic because our future is uncertain, more so than previous generations’ futures were.  I think we’re nostalgic because ours is the generation of student loans and living with your parents after graduation.  I think we’re nostalgic because our childhood was rooted in a stable economy.  
I also think that because we’re so nostalgic we’re going to be the generation that works to bring back the stable economy for our children.  We are going to be the ones who create more job opportunities for ourselves.  We are going to do great things, because we’re so nostalgic.  

Looking at Grad Schools
Of course looking at grad schools makes me feel old.  It’s the first step to the next chapter of my life. I’ve been getting packets a lot more frequently now than I did last year, some of them requested, some of them outreach from the schools themselves.  I’m being school-wooed from as far away as York, England, and as close to home as St. Louis, Missouri.  It’s a great feeling to know that they think enough of me to want to send me packets, but at the same time it makes me recognize that I’m not a kid anymore, that I have to make decisions about grad school soon.  It’s scary because it’s uncertain.  
Grad School itself is also scary because of how much work a master’s degree is.  And it’s scary because I will have to decide on career paths afterward.  Do I go for the interdisciplinary Medieval and Renaissance Culture program at Loyola?  The interdisciplinary Medieval Studies program at York?  The Public History program at Purdue?  An entirely different and separate program in Library Science to become a librarian?  Each one creates a more solid career path, but it also makes other career paths harder to achieve.  It cuts off, or at least creates obstacles to, my other options.  
I’m scared because I’m a realist and I can see those closing options clearly.  But I’m also optimistic.
I am optimistic that whatever I decide will be what’s right for me.  I’m optimistic that wherever I go will be a great school and a school that gives me a better future.  I’m optimistic that I’ll find a place in this world for myself, and if I don’t that I’ll create one.  
I’m optimistic because I’m an incurable, unrepentant optimist.

These are far from the only reasons I feel old, but they’re a few of the big ones.  What things make you feel old, my fellow twenty-somethings?

Stay Tuned.