"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Summer of the Rest of Your Life


I've been trying to write about what it feels like to be newly graduated. Every time I sit down the words come, but by the end of it they don't feel adequate. Or maybe they feel self important. What do I know? Not enough. These days are strange and unwieldy. I try to wrangle them into submission by writing, making plans, setting goals. It feels like summer, and yet not quite the summers I've known my entire life. An old friend and a stranger.

Yesterday my friend Ruth came over and she, my mom, and I made gelatin prints with leaves and paint and fabric. It's a quintessential summer activity for us- making art projects for the fun of it, no pressure, no expectations, just enjoying making a mess. At the end of it we have twenty or so squares of printed fabric and no idea what to do with them all. Mom says maybe we could turn them into a quilt, but I kind of like the fact that they don't have a purpose. I like that not everything needs to be in service to something else.


Later, Ruth and I are talking about how it feels to be done with school (for now). I know that this is the source my uncertainty, this weird pendulum of days. I feel urgency, and I feel it bad. Every decision acts like something that effects all of the strands of time unraveling in front of me. When I was in school, for some reason, wasting time didn't feel as unforgivable. I could spend a couple of hours watching youtube videos and it was okay, if only because it was in a larger container. I could waste time because I had a deadline to pull me back into the work. Now, though, that container is gone. That container is the rest of my life. Now, it's entirely up to me to delegate my time, and I feel more guilty about wasting it because wasting it feels like wasting my life. 

Of course, I know intellectually that my time has always been mine, and it didn't suddenly become mine after I graduated. I've always had the choice of what to do with it, even though I didn't always use it wisely. I know I should use this new-found urgency to my advantage, but it feels like tug-of-war sometimes. I'm scared of losing it, because then I'll slip back into my old ways, with nothing to keep the idleness in check. But if I hold it too close, my whole life stretches in front of me, paralyzing. If I let urgency rule, even my most productive days are never enough.

That's why Ruth and I dubbed this "the summer of the rest of our lives." It feels like any other summer. It feels like I'll be going back to school in September. But this summer will blend effortlessly into fall, with no first day of school to mark the transition. This summer is the beginning of all other summers that will arrive unannounced, without ceremony.

And I know, eventually, these wild, expansive days will filter back into containers: I'll get a job. I'll have deadlines and appointments and obligations to people other than myself. The terrifying responsibility of being sole master of my days will loosen.

I keep coming back to that Mary Oliver quote, the one that insists, "Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I know I don't have to figure it all out this second. I know I have time, even when it feels like it's unraveling too fast. So I'll keep asking that question, keep letting it guide me. I'll lean into urgency and away from idleness. I'll try and cherish these container-less days.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Thinking Out Loud Episode 6: Space Dust


I love stories about people doing what they love, despite other people thinking they're crazy. I recently read a New York Times article about Jon Larsen, an citizen scientist who spent years searching for micrometeorites. This episode explores the cosmos, the everyday, and what it means to be an amateur.

Thinking Out Loud Episode 5: Farallon Islands


I recently finished reading The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni. It's a wonderful, eerie book about a nature photographer who is sent to a set of remote islands off the coast of California. At first I thought the islands were just a creation of the author's imagination, but a quick google search revealed that they actually exist, and that they are just as creepy in real life as they are in the book. I don't usually believe in comparing an author's description of a place to the actual place itself, but these islands just beg comparison. It's funny how you can go your whole life without knowing something exists, and then, once you do, you can't stop thinking about it. The islands have become a sort of haunting presence in my mind. Maybe it's the atmosphere created by the book, or the pictures of their rocky forms, jutting out of the ocean, but I have a feeling the islands will stay with me for a long time. I hope they do for you, too.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Thinking Out Loud Episode 4: Jane Austen


I never thought I could like Jane Austen. When I first read Pride and Prejudice it bothered me that she seemed to "tell" more than she "showed" and my understanding of the plot had been spoiled by the film adaptations. But, when I found out that my favorite professor was teaching a class on Jane Austen, I decided to give her a second chance. I'm so glad I did. Not only have I come to enjoy her writing more, but I have a greater appreciation for the contributions she made to literature as we know it. What's more, she's just a fascinating individual, shrouded in mystery.

Today, I talk about a New York Times article which discusses the possibility that Jane Austen died from arsenic poisoning. I'm not sure I believe this myself, but I find the concept of looking to people's personal belongings (in this case Austen's eyeglasses), in order to find out more about their life fascinating. How much can we really know about a person more than 100 years after their death? And how much would that individual want us to know? This episode is mostly questions, because I certainly don't have many answers.



Until tomorrow.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Thinking Out Loud Episode 3: Deep Time

Here we are, back at it again! This episode explores humanity and mortality and geological time and all that good stuff. In it, I talk about the book The Oldest Living Things in the World by Rachel Sussman, and about what is possibly my favorite website on the internet: Brain Pickings.

Because it's such a beautiful book, I had to take some pictures of it:












I hope you'll take some time to look up this beautiful book and support the author, who continues to make fascinating work at the juncture between science and art.



Until next time!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thinking Out Loud Episode 2: Self Help

I'm not gonna lie. I'm a bit of a self improvement junkie. I love motivational quotes, and reading about people's morning routines. When I was a kid, I was a bit obsessed with routine, to the point where I once I asked my parents to alternate the days that they read to me before bed (Dad one night, Mom the next, etc). I'm not quite as obsessed as I was then, but I'm still enamored by productivity tips and new ways of thinking about time, distractions, and getting stuff done.

In today's episode I share quotes from a couple of my favorite self improvement sites (Zen Habits and Raptitude) and talk a little bit about the weird world of self help gurus. This podcast is meant to inspire further reading, so don't hesitate to check out the articles mentioned and read them in full!




As always, thanks for listening, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thinking Out Loud: An Introduction


Today marks the beginning of a dream I've had for a while, but couldn't bring myself to embark upon until now. I'm making a podcast. Actually, it's more like a 30 episode mini-podcast, in which I dive into the things I've been reading, watching, and listening to, in under 5 minutes.

It all started when I was listening to an episode of the Design Matters podcast, in which Debbie Millman interviews Sam Winston. At the end she reads a quote from him about creation over consumption, and it got me thinking about all the stuff I consume in any given day, but never really engage with or talk about. An article or a twitter feed might spark something in me, but how often do I actually take that spark and do something with it?

Thus was born Thinking Out Loud, a podcast about ideas and inspiration, and being intentional with the information we consume.  I want to push myself to learn as much as I can about this new medium, and hopefully, I'll get better as I go along. There's something exhilarating about doing something completely out of my creative comfort zone, and this definitely falls into that category.

So, without further ado, here is the first episode of Thinking Out Loud:



I'll be posting new episodes as often as possible, and you can see the complete list in the Podcast tab above. Links to everything mentioned will be in the episode description.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!