Tuesday Update

Heroes

The Wonder Woman movie finally came out, after years and years of waiting for it.  I was worried.  For one thing, I have hated almost ever DC movie I’ve ever seen.  The most recent, Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, were exceptionally awful.

And yet, Wonder Woman was incredible.  Gal Gadot was the perfect actress for the role, playing Diana Prince as a powerful warrior whose kindness and compassion are her strength.  Chris Pine stole hearts and subsequently broke them as Steve Trevor, who is an actual nice guy who respects Diana and believes in doing the right thing.  The movie was populated by well-rounded characters, many of whom were also strong women, and it showed the pain of war as it affected communities and individuals.  This is mostly thanks to Patty Jenkins, the movie’s director who fought for years to bring the Amazon’s story to life.

It’s one of those movies that made me want to fight the patriarchy with my own bare hands, and a movie I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  The same thing can be said of Cars 3.

In the third installment of the franchise, Lightning McQueen is getting beaten more and more by newer race cars.  Other veteran racers are retiring, but Lightning refuses to quit before he’s ready.  When  he wrecks horribly, it looks like he might not have a choice.  He doesn’t want to face the same fate Doc did, but since he’s not there anymore, Lightning can’t ask his advice.  Instead, he goes to the places Doc trained on, the dirt tracks and the forest roads, and meets those who inspired him.

Initially, it looks like the message is the typical millennial-hating garbage of the older generation: newcomers ruin everything.  Actually though, it’s the opposite: the message is that the older generation has to adapt if they want to stay in the game.  Lightning gets to continue doing what he loves because he’s willing to learn new things to do it.

Lightning has a lot of character development, but my favorite part of this movie was Cruz Ramirez.  After being told all her life that she’s “not a race car,” she’s given up on the dream.  When she learns to believe in herself – and Lightning takes her under his wing – she proves them wrong.

If Wonder Woman made me feel like fighting the patriarchy with my bare hands, Cars 3 made me feel like dismantling it brick by brick.  They talk about the history of racing, both the good and the barriers outsiders had to break down themselves.  By looking at their history they were prepared to move into the future.  Nothing is given to them freely, but they understand why it’s worth fighting for.

Both are empowering movies and worth supporting for the messages they share and the characters they bring to life.  They’re great if you need a pick-me-up.  So head to the movie theater and get ready for Feelings.

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Dead Last beats Did Not Finish, which is better than Did Not Start

April and May did not work out like I wanted them to.  I still haven’t fixed my writing space; I’m still not sure how I could.

Instead of dwelling on that and the missed posts (and getting even more behind), I’m going to take this one word at a time.  It’s not a permanent solution by any means, but it’s better than what I’ve been doing.  And what a great week to start, because I did something really exciting this weekend that I’d like to share with you.

Friday, Jennifer and I (and Layla) drove down to Charleston.  It was exciting from the very start.  South Carolina drivers seemed to be holding a contest of who could kill us first.  But we did make it in one piece.  After checking in at our campsite (yes, campsite: more on that later) at James Island, we went downtown.

The stretch of King Street we were on looked like someone had turned Southpark Mall inside out and dumped it on the street.  But on the next block, down Market Street, we found some of the true gems of Charleston: the open-air market, Market Street Sweets, Kaminsky’s and the attached steakhouse that was recently damaged by fie, and the Moon Pie General Store.  We walked another twenty minutes to go to Blue Bicycle Books.

I don’t know how Jennifer felt about this bookstore, especially after all the trouble it took us to find it, but I love this place.  It’s quiet and peaceful, and I always feel like I’m entering a different world when I open the door and the cool air rushes at me.  We only stayed a few minutes, and we didn’t buy anything but my Charleston trip wouldn’t have felt complete without it.

With First Looks over, it was time to get to the reason we were there: Questival.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been describing Questival as a scavenger hunt, but it’s not that simple.  It’s 24 hours of adventures big and small.  The things we were challenged to do ranged from “draw a team crest” to “eat a bug,” “sing karaoke” to “ride a unicycle.”  Each quest was worth a certain amount of points.  Jennifer and I focused on location quests because we wanted to see as much of Charleston as possible.  We visited Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park with its pineapple fountain, and White Gardens.  We even drove out to the Angel Oak Tree, a 400-year-old oak.

Most memorable was the Four Corners of Law, not because of the  buildings themselves but because of the woman we met standing there: a 75-year-old former Marine who noticed we looked lost and stopped to help.  She suggested we go in the church, as both Washington and Lee had worshipped there, and eat lunch at Brown Dog Deli.  Unfortunately the church had just closed, but the deli was the most amazing meal I’ve had in a while.  I had the Fig’N’Pig, the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  Also a chocolate chip cookie, which was so sweet and gooey I almost died.

We finished Questival in 71st place.  Seventy teams did better than we did…but thirty did not.  At least ten of those had zero points because they didn’t even try.

Maybe we didn’t win, but we had a lot of fun exploring Charleston and stepping out of our comfort zone.  And yes, camping.

This was the first time I’d ever been camping.  We put up the tent and got a thousand bug bites.  We even made new friends with some girls from Asheville who camped a lot.  It was a great first camping trip.  We’re already looking forward to the next one.

Sometimes you step out of your comfort zone and find yourself in a magical place.

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A Day at Kate Spade

I started my job at Kate almost two months ago.  I love it, and one of the things i love about it is that every day is new.

That being said, this isn’t a “typical” day, because there’s no such thing.

9:02 – Kasey and I clock in.  I have spent almost an hour in traffic, but feel better as soon as I pass through the doors.

9:12 – While Kasey works on the deposit, I pull out my client book and make sure all my information is up-to-date.

9:20 – We take the trash out.  (It can’t all be glamorous.)

9:34 – Kasey shows me how to check in a shipment.  The first thing I unload is a new box of Glitter Keds!

10:03 – Music comes on and the doors officially open.

10:10 – We get our first client of the day, a woman looking for a dress to wear to her daughter’s “moving up” ceremony.  I sell her my favorite black dress in the store.

10:27 – Kasey and I talk about her time on a cruise ship while we wait for the next client to enter.

10:44 – We get a new delivery. Still preparing for the new floorset on June first!

11:29 – A man comes in to buy his wife a purse.  He talks about how she was there for him when he had nothing and how they’re still close now.  It’s the most precious thing I’ve heard all day.

12:00 – I’m introduced to a muse (that’s my official job title – how darling is that?) who has transferred from Charleston.  She gives me some suggestions about where I should eat on my trip next month.

1:30 – Kasey and I work with a woman who’s just turned 70.  She’s a sweet, colorful person who falls in love with our camel t-shirt and a pink pair of sunglasses.

1:34 – Off to lunch.  I have a chat with one of the employees at Coach about the acquisition.

2:34 – I clock back in.

3:02 – I help a lovely woman find a comfy dress to replace hers that’s falling apart.

4:28 – A girl comes in with her grandmother, looking for a bag to take on her trip to Charleston.

4:47 – Lainey and I tag-team markdowns.  Neither of us know all the product names yet, making the whole thing an interesting scavenger hunt.  (Spoiler alert: most of the items have already sold out at our store, so it’s a bit fruitless.)

5:58 – Dawn finishes her work in the back just as Britt is arriving.  The back room has never been so organized, at least not while I’ve been there.

At the end of the day, I’m tired and my feet hurt.  With the adrenalin fading, I start to realize some of the things I could have done better.  It’s a continuous learning process, and can be emotionally exhausting for an introvert like me.  I’m looking forward to my day off…but I’m also excited to return Saturday, when I’ll meet new, interesting people and spend time with all the shining girls I get to work with.

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Bill Nye Saves the World

Bill Nye has been educating children about science for decades.  This year, he has moved on to adults with his Netflix original show Bill Nye Saves the World.

This week, I watched all thirteen episodes.  They follow a particular formula.  First, Bill Nye introduces his topic in a fun way that makes it easy to understand.  He shows some science, then one of his correspondents tells a relevant story from another place.  He brings on a panel of experts to discuss the issue. He tends to conclude the show with a guest star or a joke video.  It’s funny but there’s an underlying message: it proves its relevance to the modern day.

There are a lot of things I love about this show.  Bill Nye is very aware of representation, using women and minority correspondents and experts.  Every show is a different topic, but he always comes back to the scientific process: how we make an observation, make a hypothesis, experiment, and then try to duplicate the results in order to find a solution.  With his panel of experts, he proves that it is okay, even good, to ask questions.

I also love his “Bill needs a minute” segments, where he is overcome with emotion (usually anger) and talks about the issue and why he finds it ridiculous.  Plus, oh my god, the DAD JOKES!  (“Paraphrasing my colleague Jay-Z, it’s not one problem, it’s 99 problems, and they’re all…difficult.”  About his ankle: “I’m attached to it.”  They’re cheesy and kind of hilarious in a really horrible way.)

This is not a kids’ show, and he repeats that a lot.  It’s for adults.  One of my complaints is that he sometimes forgets who his audience is…or maybe I am.  Most of his show is for my generation, the millennials who know there are problems in the world and want to help fix them.  But much of it is proving these things are problems in the first place, which makes it seem like he’s talking to the skeptics and those who disagree with him.  Sometimes he (or his guests, but he doesn’t edit it out) insults those people pretty harshly.  While he has a reputation for disagreeing with creationists and Global Warming deniers, if he wanted this show to bridge the gap and inform those people, he should have approached them more kindly.  Instead, he only enforces the believes of those who already agreed with him and maybe just wanted more information.

Bill Nye has come a long way from his Science Guy days.  In this show, he switches between his lab coat and a blazer, showing when he is in “scientist” mode and when he is in “politician” mode.  His show is called Bill Nye Saves the World because its purpose is to encourage his audience to learn from his show and effect change.

All of it is fun to watch, but some of the episodes are more important than others.  I believe everyone should watch the episodes on global warming, vaccination, pseudo-science, and the sexual spectrum.  We can learn a lot from Bill, and maybe it really will help us save the world.

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May Blog Posts

In the interest of doing all my blog posts ON TIME this month, I planned a subject for every Tuesday in May.

Except, umm…this one.  Oops.

Looking at my assignments calendar, I don’t see a subject I can hijack for this post that can get written in the next hour and a half.  I worked eight hours today and didn’t plan ahead, so I don’t have time to put the work in.  And now it’s too late and dark to make a video tonight.  SO…

…I got nothing.  Shit.

And I actually planned for the month too.

Here, I can prove it.  This is my blog schedule for the month.

May 4th: Postcards from the Edge, a Book Club Thursday tribute to Carrie Fisher.  This is the only Book Club Thursday post I’ve planned.  The rest will depend on what book I read that week.

May 9th: Review Bill Nye’s show on Netflix.  I can’t do this one tonight because I still need to finish the season that’s up online.

May 16th: Day in the Life of Kate Spade.  I’ll take you behind the scenes and show you what my new job is like, and since this is right before Mother’s Day, it’s bound to be extra interesting.  (That being said, if you’re in the Charlotte area and you need a Mother’s Day gift, come see me!)

May 23rd: Writing Space Makeover.  As I said in my last post, my writing space could use some sprucing.  Once I figure out what to do with it (and get it done), I’ll show you guys before and after pictures and my reasoning for each decision.

May 30th: Bullet Journaling.  I’ve been doing it for almost a year now, but I finally got colored pencils and am trying a few different layouts this month.  I’ll show you my methods and how effective they’ve been for me.

See?  I planned for May, and pretty well at that.  I just forgot one little thing…the first post.

Oh well.  I’ll have to do better in June.

If you want these posts a day early, subscribe to my Patreon account.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.

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A Few Observations of My Life Right Now

Objectively speaking, writing hasn’t been going well lately.  Blog posts are late.  Everything else has stopped entirely.

This is in spite of the fact that I have a plethora of new experiences to draw on.  I have a new part-time job I love; I’ve been attempting freelance writing; I found a bakery, a restaurant, and two bars I enjoyed; I even changed my own tire.

Theory one: The problem is the writing itself.  Looking back on the work I did last year, I was experimenting with styles and that made it fun to write and fun to read.

Theory two: While I have been finding inspiration in my hometown, the environment in which I actually write (my desk/writing corner) is intimidating, making it difficult to work.

Theory three: My emotional state has left it difficult to find the energy to do things and write about them.

Theory four, and this one has legs: Some combination of the three where the problems compound so it becomes impossible to overcome any one of them.

Other things happening right now:

  • Thanks to my AMAZING employee discount, I own a $600 bag but my debit card got declined for a $13 purchase at the grocery store.  The irony.  But I still haven’t used my credit card since I got this job, and the purse was a MILLION percent off, so I don’t feel bad about it.  I just find it hilarious.
  • Brad Paisley’s new CD came out last week and, for the first time in years, I haven’t bought it yet and don’t know if I will.  I didn’t love the singles “Without a Fight” or “Today,” which was unusual in itself.
  • I’ve been feeling sick lately.  No water + no vegetables = sick Kari.  Time to go back on Weight Watchers because it’s the best way I’ve found to keep me personally accountable to healthy eating and exercise.
  • After going through old “keepsakes,” I got rid of a ton of papers from high school and all but three trophies.  It’s funny, the things that mattered back then: the grades, the test scores…I kind of wish I’d done more stupid things at that age.
  • The new Power Rangers is a fantastic movie, and you should go see it in theaters.  I also really loved Sense and Sensibility, and I miss Alan Rickman SO much.
  • Planning to do some fun things in May, leading up to something REALLY COOL in June.  There will be a blog post about it, but if you want pictures or specific updates…

This blog is supported by Patreon.  You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

One in five women are raped in their lives.  Eight of ten victims know their attackers.  One in four girls are sexually abused before they are eighteen years old.*

But only six out of every thousand rapists go to prison.*

In America, April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  It’s a time to remember our outrage at the system that lets Brock Turner go free after being convicted of rape, what his father called “twenty minutes of action.”

Cases like that anger us, but when I look at the statistics…I just feel tired.

It is easier to get angry about a single attack, it’s harder to stay angry about the constant reinforcement of sexism and rape culture that build the foundation for them.  And we need to stay angry.  It is only when people get angry that change happens.

That’s what awareness is for.  Many people from the older generation like to look down on what millennials do, on the idea that a like or a share can do anything in the face of the world’s problems.  But awareness is important because it is the first step.

In the case of sexual assault, it is not enough to know the statistics.  We have to know where they come from.  We have to know what societal factors contribute to the numbers.

It’s years of teaching our children that “boys will be boys” and “he can’t help himself.”  It’s teaching them that no means “maybe” or “convince me” and silence is consent.  It’s acting as though a short skirt or a low-cut top automatically means a woman is open to sexual encounters.

It’s also a society that continues to consume media from actors and creators who have a history of sexual violence.  It’s a society that promotes stories where a woman says no before someone “changes her mind.”  It’s a country that looks at a man with pending rape charges and says, “Yes, let’s make him president.”*

The first step to changing this pervading culture is awareness.  The next is to treat it like it’s wrong, to speak up when someone makes light of sexual assault, to boycott when creators are found to be rapists and abusers or when companies protect them, and to protect the sanctity and power of the word “no.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so let’s stay aware and informed.  But after that, let’s speak up.  Let’s do something about it.

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50 Ways to De-stress

April is Stress Awareness Month, which seems kind of pointless.  I’m aware of stress, guys.  I am SUPER aware of it.

Here are 50 ways to get rid of it.  Results may vary.

  1. Take a bubble bath.
  2. Take a nap.
  3. Write a to-do list.  Organize it based on priorities so that you know what parts aren’t so important.
  4. Write a list of things more important than your to-do list: i.e. family, health, etc.
  5. Have a drink
  6. Read a book.
  7. Call a friend.
  8. Listen to music.  No, I mean JUST listen.  Without doing anything else or using it as background noise.  How often do you do that?
  9. Pet your cat.  Or someone’s cat.
  10. Pet a dog.  Doesn’t have to be yours, as long as it isn’t a service animal!
  11. Make your bed.  (Unf*ckyourhabitat SWEARS by this, and you’d be surprised how having one clean surface makes everything else a little easier.)
  12. Talk to a child.  When you have a hard time being carefree, it helps to view life from little eyes.
  13. Buy yourself something nice.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  It can be dollar store nail polish.  But give yourself a little treat.
  14. Paint your nails.
  15. Color!
  16. Exercise.
  17. Meditate.
  18. Go for a walk.  Which is kind of like exercising, but it guarantees your outside in the fresh air.
  19. DELEGATE.  If somebody else can do it, let them.
  20. Watch a children’s movie.
  21. Watch a really BAD movie.
  22. Watch your favorite movie.
  23. Therapy.  Yes, I said it.  I mean it.
  24. Go for a drive.
  25. Sit by yourself for a while.
  26. Sit with a friend for a while.
  27. Sit outside for a while.
  28. Yoga.
  29. Deep breathing exercises.
  30. Do something artsy with your hands: paint, sculpt, crochet, knit, sew, etc.
  31. Unplug.  Get away from the devices for a little while.
  32. Eat something sweet.
  33. Kiss somebody sweet.
  34. Let someone else read to you.
  35. Chew gum.  (This is a good one for immediate relief in a stressful situation.)
  36. Light a candle.  Especially a scented one.
  37. Count.  Again, for an immediately stressful situation.
  38. Pray.
  39. Get a massage.
  40. Scream.
  41. Punch something…preferably a pillow or punching bag.
  42. Have a cup of tea.
  43. Get rid of things you don’t need.  This is a double win: you get some clutter out of your life, which will make you feel more at ease in your surroundings, and you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something.
  44. Watch something that will make you laugh (and here are my go-to videos).
  45. Drink water!
  46. Journal.
  47. Travel.
  48. Be grateful for the little things.
  49. Get rid of the stressful thing, if possible.
  50. Be gentle and forgive yourself.

There you have it.  50 ways to de-stress.  I’m sure not all of these work for you, but hopefully you can find a few in the list that will.

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NCAA Championship 2017

I’m not very good at keeping up with sports schedules.  I love the Tar Heels, but I didn’t watch any of their games in March.

I know.  I’m awful.

And the truth is, even when I manage to turn a game on, watching it on television just isn’t much fun for me.  The Carolina-Duke game was the first one I had seen in a while, and I watched it at a club in Charlotte with other members of the General Alumni Association.  I wasn’t sure I’d even see the championship…until a friend, who’s a lot more committed in general, said she was going to watch it in Chapel Hill.

Huh, I thought.  There’s an idea.

I was lucky enough that things worked out.  My Tar Heels made it to the final game and my new job gave me Monday and Tuesday off.  I had just enough money left over for gas and I had a friend in Chapel Hill who offered her futon.  I would get to see the final game in the Dean Dome surrounded by my fellow Tar Heels.

It was everything I love about seeing a game live.  If you saw it, you know how close the game was.  In the past, there have been several games Carolina lost because their heart wasn’t in it.  In the first half of this one, they had the opposite problem: they wanted it so badly that they over thought every move.  What finally put them over the top was that they started to get mad.

People started to rush the court – and run out the door – before the final buzzer, when Justin Jackson dunked the ball and the lead was big enough that we knew we had won.  We all screamed as we ran towards Franklin Street.

I’ve never been able to do that before.  We didn’t win a championship when I was a student.

The street was packed.  People were climbing trees and light poles at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia.  Someone had set a couch on fire.

I drove downtown the next day and the celebration was still happening, just in a different way.  Every parking lot and garage was full.  People were shuffling through various t-shirts and the stores that didn’t sell them had some sort of special going on.

All in all, it was crazy fun and it felt like going home.  A trip that was totally worth spending my two free days and my last dime on.

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5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Applying to Grad School

I am not going to graduate school this year; I guess the timing wasn’t right.  Eventually, I will apply again, and I will be better prepared when I do.  Here are some of the things that will make my next application season (and yours, I hope) easier.

  1.  It’s expensive.
    I only applied to two programs, and neither required a GRE.  I still spent around $250, between application fees, ordering transcripts, and the financial aid form – which, yes, costs money and not all graduate programs take.  Budget accordingly, but also plan ahead so you don’t spend more than you have to.
  2. All programs are NOT created equal.
    I knew this, hypothetically, but hadn’t considered all the facets of it.  It’s more than the faculty; each school has its own focus, its own funding, and its own reputation.  These things are dependent on the program itself, not the school.  For instance, I assumed Columbia was a top MFA program, because Columbia University is an Ivy.  But between poor funding and a “high” (read: 20%) acceptance rate, it is actually looked down upon in MFA circles.  I mean, I still want to go.  But it’s something to think about.
  3. READ THE APPLICATION QUESTIONS EARLY.
    This is where I made my biggest mistake.  I gave myself a month to work on the application with the earliest deadline.  After that, I had two weeks for the other.  I assumed that would be plenty of time, because the questions would be similar and I just needed to tailor my general answer to each specific school.  In my case, I found out they were completely different questions and I would have benefited from working on them simultaneously.  Pay attention.
  4. There is a support system.
    There is an MFA Draft Facebook group every year.  Columbia had its own as well.  No matter what program or concentration you are applying to, thegradcafe.com will connect you to other people going through the same process.  I didn’t discover these resources until I was playing the waiting game, and I feel utilizing them may have improved my application.  Now I know for next time.  Which brings me to my final point…
  5. You will probably be doing this again.
    Most programs are tiny.  It’s part of what separates graduate school from undergrad.  Don’t take rejection personally.  I was shocked as I scrolled through the MFA Draft Facebook group and realized how many people were on their third and fourth attempts.  It’s nothing like applying for college.  You can try again if you don’t get the one you want or if the funding doesn’t work out.

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