Monday, December 17, 2012

Lady Snaggletooth Blog Teaser

Cristina Cote and Paola Tapia-Limon are two comediennes I interviewed for Cliché Mag. They began their own sketch comedy show, Lady Snaggletooh, and launched it online in December 2011. You can find their sketches online at their website and on Blip TV. These funny ladies are great examples of great examples of twentysomethings who are ambitious and successful.

Check out the blog teaser and full article at Cliché Mag.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm a Freelance Reporter!

I applied for a job with a local weekly paper, The Valley Chronicle, back in August, but wasn't picked up. However, just this week, the managing editor called and said they were looking again and still had my resume!

In my interview with the managing editor, she asked me to write up the weekly crime report, and sh also wants m to be a backup reporter for any events that she won't be able to attend. Then I pitched a few ideas and she said the valley's annual Turkey Trot could make a good story. So I covered it!

You can find my first (paid) newspaper story here, on The Valley Chronicle's web site. I also filmed the footage that's in the VCTV report on the home page! So excited!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ambition vs Happiness

A guest blogger, Eric, on Brute Reason, wrote a post called "The Tradeoff Between Ambition and Happiness." I think he makes some good points, but as I said in the comments, this only applies to people who do not like their jobs and are only in it for the money or prestige.

"Ambition requires focusing on what you don't have," Eric says. "Happiness requires focusing on what you do have."

But working a great job isn't about what you do or don't have. If you love your job, it's about what you're actually doing. Staying over when you love your job is great, because working makes you happy.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2012 Election

Besides the obvious race, there are also eleven props and multiple candidates to decide on tomorrow (if you live in California). The last time there was an election in my town, about 10 percent of the population made all the local decisions for the entire valley. If you don't like what we did, go out and vote!


Happy National Novel Writing Month!

Is anyone else doing this?

Since I frittered away my summer hours traveling around, I'm going to try to write about 50 -100 pages on my thesis (1.5 to 3.5 pages per day, or 25 per week). Let's see what happens.

Homework, thesis notes, and favorite novel.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Panel Discussion

shali Nicholas, Michael Cluff, Caroline Mays, Matthew Nadelson, and Cati Porter.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to be on a panel at an IE California Writers Club meeting at the Ovitt Community Library in Ontario!

CA Writers Club web site - Inland Empire chapter

I'm really excited, but also a little nervous -- I've never been on a panel before.


Writers must wear scarves!
Also on the panel were Victoria Waddle and Cati Porter, who is the managing editor of Inlandia Journal, shali Nicholas (lowercase first name), who is a poet friend from CSUSB, and Michael Cluff and Matthew Nadelson -- both writers and teachers for Riverside Community College, Norco.

The moderator, Kay Murphy, asked us questions about how we started writing and what it means to be a writer in the Inland Empire. The others had a lot of great things to say about being a writer and getting published. I'm just beginning -- so I felt a little out of place sitting there with several writers who have done so much more than I have. 

Still, I had a good time and was honored to have been asked. Everyone stuck around afterwards for a little while, too, and I got to talk with them about writing and teaching.  

Photos courtesy of Teddy Nicholas.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"The Defining Decade"

Check out this short interview with Meg Jay, Ph.D, the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now. I'm going order it from the library, but until I can read the whole book, what do you think about the article?

I have issues with the passage at the end, when Jay states:

Courtesy of Highways Agency.
'Twenty-somethings are very prone to what's called present bias. So are all humans, which is what procrastination is about, and oil consumption and overspending ... I think thinking about later is very scary for 20-somethings, because they don't have a lot of experience doing that. So, a lot of what I do with clients is not give them advice as much as ask very pointed questions: "What is it that you want?" "Where would you like to be in five or 10 years?" "Do you want to get married?" "Do you want to have kids?" "What do you want your job to be?" ... These are questions that no one asks 20-somethings because they know it scares them. But deep down, 20-somethings want people to ask them these questions because they know they need to figure it out.'

This seemed like an odd thing to say, to me, because the future is all that my twenty-something friends are thinking about: what careers they want, where they want to live, and who they want to be with. That's why twentysomethings are having a hard time of it in today's economy. They know what they want -- good jobs, financial independence, and (in some cases) families -- but they're having trouble getting it. Not being able to move out or find jobs equal to their level of education both embarrasses and worries twentysomethings. It embarrasses us because we feel like we're failing at life, and it worries us for many reasons, one of which is because I know that how much we earn in the formative years of our careers will influence how much we earn when we get to be experienced professionals.

Courtesy of elycefeliz.
If twentysomethings don't want to think about something in the future, it's because we're just trying to keep our heads above the water. I read an article in Time a few months ago that said that young adults should start saving for retirement and investing in their (401)k by the time they are in their mid-twenties. This is a nonsense statement to me, since I can't even afford to rent my own apartment, and I know several people who have yet to buy their first cars. When you're still sleeping in your childhood bedroom, it's pointless to start worrying about retirement. We're keeping the whole picture in mind, but trying to alleviate stress by focusing most of our attention on the next step forward.

Photo attributions from Flickr/Creative Commons:
"HA1-000344," courtesy of Highways Agency

"Money," courtesy of elycefeliz

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cliche Magazine

A few weeks ago, I began interning at Cliche Magazine, an online publication! I'm really excited about it. Although I don't get to see my articles in print (you can buy the mag in print, but it's expensive), I have been able to pitch stories and interview quite a few interesting people.

The October/November issue of Cliche Mag launched a few days ago. You can find it online at or (Unfortunately, I think they charge $1.99 to read it.)

In this issue, I interview Christopher Scott, a choreographer for "So You Think You Can Dance." He also choreographed for Step Up Revolution, and he helped launch the web series "The LXD -- The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers."

For Jan/Dec, I talked with Tara Summers, from "Boston Legal" and "Ringer." She is next to be seen in the film Hitchcock, which is about the making of Psycho. She plays a costume designer on set. In the interview, we talked about what kind of movies she liked, and when she said she doesn't like scary movies, I asked her if she'd seen Psycho (since, after all, that's what her film is about).

"Um, I've seen parts of it?"

Tara was friendly and really fun to interview, and now I'm talking to fashion designers and comedy writers for the next issue!

Friday, October 12, 2012

5 Dead Job Scam Giveaways: Thanks For Clarifying!

1. Two emails from the same 'company,' but with different addresses:

Email at Oct 8, 6:41 PM -- "Your resume has been reviewed and approved!"
Email at Oct 8, 642 PM - "Your resume has been reviewed and approved!"

2. After sending a professional-looking cover letter and resume, complete with contact information and previous job experience:

"Please fill out this application:
Full Names:
Home Address including city state and zip code ( Not P.O.Box ):
Cell Phone number:
Home phone number:
Current Occupation:
email address:

3. "I'm sure you'll understand I tend to have a very busy schedule at this point,as I am presently in Australia, I will be back in Three Weeks. Hence, you will begin your office based position immediately i get back to the states."

4. "Both myself and the company will prefer it that you use this Credit Report . . . In the event you possess a lower than expected credit score score, it will never prevent you from a place with us."

5. "Possess a great day!"


Because I kept reading depressing statistics about young adults and the recession, I wanted this blog to be hopeful and inspirational. But, I did always mean to include the good and the bad of careers and job searching and going after your dreams. Always writing about the good and never talking about the bad seems like dishonest. It also seems to deny that finding success and following your dreams inevitably includes hard work, rejection, and disappointment.

So, yes, I'm experiencing setbacks. Rather than just re-sending my transcripts, the CTC wants me to completely re-apply for a substitute teaching permit, which is about $100 that I really don't have right now. I'm in talks with the state senator's staff and hoping that they will be able to help me appeal this decision, since it was the CTC that goofed it all up to begin with.

In the meantime, does anyone else ever wonder what the ratio of real jobs to scams is on Craigslist?

Saturday, September 29, 2012


RUSD: "With your substitute teaching application, please include an official copy of your transcripts (no internet copies."

I send in my application with the transcripts, TB test, fingerprinting relase forms, etc. They check everything over.

RUSD: "Your application has been approved."

I say, "Are you absolutely positive that you have everything you need for my permit application? I'm leaving for Europe next week and will be gone for quite a while."

RUSD: "Yes, everything is complete."

I get back from Europe: "Dear RUSD, I haven't gotten my permit yet. What's going on?"

RUSD: "I don't know, ask the CTC."

The CTC doesn't take phone calls, only emails: "Dear CTC, it's been three months and I haven't gotten my permit. What's going on?"

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing: "We have not received your transcripts"

Friday, September 28, 2012

Still Interning

Set back today -- I responded to an ad for a newspaper job, but was told they didn't need writers after all and they'll keep my information on file.
I was really hoping for this position, and while I'm disappointed, I'm also so glad I didn't cancel my internship with I think I'm going to learn a lot.

Going to keep on keeping on. . .

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I was on the train to Berlin, admittedly a little bored with the Central Valley-type scenery we were speeding by not quite fast enough, when fifteen to twenty men boarded the train together. They all wore matching black t-shirts with green print that said:
Tomas' Junggesellenabschied

With them was one man dressed in a black-and-white striped inmate costume. I had paid for WiFi on the bullet train -- foolishly, I might add: never do that -- and quickly clicked to Google Translate to confirm junggesellanaschied. Sure enough -- it means bachelor party in German.

While it had been relatively quiet before, the twenty-or-so men changed that in a jiffy. Sitting together in four sets of booth seats, they brought the party to the car, breaking out little tin kegs of beer and clear plastic cups. Passengers walked by, talking and laughing with them, and the bachelors would offer a cup of beer.

"Nice guys," my Berliner seatmate said, chuckling and listening to their conversation.

How I wished I could understand the jokes. Along with the mini beer kegs, they brought an energy, a sense of fun and joy onto the train with them.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eurail to Bern

Before the train started out from the station in Milano, I took out The Life of St. Catherine. But I didn't know that we'd be speeding by the base of the Swiss Alps on our way to Bern, Switzerland. I was alone in my booth, and switched between the aisle and window seat, trying to see out both sides of the train at once. I pressed my cheek against the cool window to try to see the top of the green mountains. They were haloed in mist.

A few stops in, two men came and sat across from me. They wore beige polo shirts and brown fleece jackets, though the one on the right wore a hat, and the one on the left had a cross necklace. They nodded and smiled at me. I think they were related.

"English or Deutsche?" I asked, my hands in the air, signaling what I don't know.
They shook their heads. "Italiano, Français."

"Oh," I said, pointing at them. "Italiano?"
"Madagascar," they lifted their hands, too. "Um. . . business."

Security and customs came through the car thrice, each time asking for our papers. I felt like I was in a World War II film. The last time Sécurité checked our passports, they took a second look at the man with the cross. "Priest?"

He nodded.

"Priest?" I asked again, when Sécurité had moved on. The one on the left smiled and nodded. I wish they would just wear collars so you could tell these things.

Holding my book up with one hand, I pointed to the picture and title on the front.

The priest smiled.

"Santa Caterina," I said, looking upwards and patting one hand over my heart. Sometimes it really is pretty easy to communicate with just gestures. And nodding. Lots of nodding.

The priest and his friend (or brother?) got up to go to the cafe car. The man in the hat pointed in that direction and asked, "Caffè?"
I said no, grazie, but they brought me back a bottle of water anyway.

Soon the train came to Bern. I nodded, arrivederci, and hauled my twenty-pound backpack and fifty-pound suitcase to the entryway. Though not the largest city, Bern is the capital of Switzerland, so many people had to get off there. Soon there was a line of four or five people, complete with baggage, between me and my old seat. It wasn't until then that I remembered I'd bought a St. Catherine medal in Siena, and what would be cooler than to have it blessed on a train in Switzerland by a priest from Madagascar? The train was slowing, though, and the tiny medal was somewhere in my large bag. I decided I might look like an idiot, but nevertheless, I'd try.

There was just enough room to lay my bag down on the metal floor near the exit. I unzipped the zippers and rummaged through the souvenirs for a thin gift shop bag. Correction: for the thin gift shop bag. Luckily, I could feel the small bulge of the medal at the bottom of a bag of postcards. Nobody could take my bags anywhere with the hallways full of people, so I zipped it up again and squeezed my way back through the hallway to my seat.

"Scuza?" I said, leaning over their seat, still half in the entryway. The medal was in the palm of my hand and I smiled and held it out toward the priest. "Per favore?"

He raised his hand over it and made the sign of the cross.

"Grazie," I said. "Arrivederci."

Stepping around feet and over huge pieces of luggage, I made it back to my own bags and slipped the medal in a small pocket on the inside of my purse. Just a minute later, we pulled into the Bern station, and I tripped happily down the ramp, full of Italian stories to share with F, a family friend.

 All photos are mine. I'm pretty sure the last photos are of Interlaken (two connected lakes near Bern).


Monday, August 27, 2012

Secret Bakery

Firenze is home to a few secret bakeries. There is no advertising, no signs of any kind -- it's all by word of mouth. I heard that one is run by nuns. After talking to several people about them, my roomie got the downlow on a bakery near our school. This was a commercial bakery that made pastries for local businesses in the wee hours of the morning. If you knocked on the door, they would sell you a pastry for one euro. The directions were vague: we were supposed to walk down an alley late at night, between about one and three in the morning. Look for a a light, a group of people on the street, we were told. You will know you are close when you can smell the pastries baking.
At 1 a.m. my roommates and I left the apartment in our PJ's and walked down the empty Ponte Vecchio, the empty Via Por Santa Maria, the empty Piazza Signoria (these are normally far from empty!!), and through the small streets around school. The little bottegas near Via de Benci -- the cafes, shoe stores, and the many leather shops -- all had their aluminum doors rolled down to protect the storefront. On top of the closed stores, apartments were stacked about six to eight stories high. Around a corner, we found the secret bakery. Its tin garage door, usually shut in the daytime, now opened to reveal opaque glass double doors. On one of the doors, a handwritten sign said, "Be quiet please" in English. Sure enough, we could smell things baking inside.

 Other students from my program stood in the street. We made a nice contrast: us in our pajamas and them in their clubbing clothes.  They told us that when they opened the doors, we'd have to send one person up to order and pay for everyone. We waited for them to come out with the pastries for our other group.
An man opened the door a crack and held out several white bags to our friends. Then, because we had been told that the Nutella pastry was the best, roommate M handed the man five euro coins and asked for cinque Nutella pastries.  
He nodded and shut the door. We were so excited, but we tried to be quiet. While we were waiting, another group of clubbers rounded the corner and waited to order by the door. They kept talking loudly so we shushed them a few times. About five minutes later, the man opened the door again and handed out our pastries -- warm.
They were light and flakey like croissants, but shaped differently, and there was a dab of Nutella in the middle. They really were very good pastries, but they tasted even better because it was so much fun sneaking around trying to find this mysterious place!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Midnight Pizza

The girls decided they were hungry, once, so at midnight we erupted from our apartment and overrun the streets. They had all had a few glasses of wine -- I was just up for an adventure.

We ran down Via Guicciardini looking for an open pizzeria and being a little too loud. While two girls ordered pizza at Golden View, the rest of us walked to the wall overlooking the river. Across the Arno, fifty or sixty people were dining on a grassy spot set up with tables on the edge of the water. Someone was singing a cover of Adele's song, 'Someone Like You.' We stood in the cool night air, listening to "Someone Like You" and waiting for our Margherita pizza. I missed B as usual. 

"View from Michelangelo's Square," my photo. (The two prominent churches in the photo are the duomo, on the left, and Santa Croce, on the right.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Original Manuscripts

While in London, I spent an afternoon at the British Library and saw Jane Austen's manuscript, as well as her desk. The manuscript was of a story she wrote as a teenager, and the notebook was left open so visitors could see her handwriting.

Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite authors, so I stood in front of this for a long time, hoping to absorb some of the greatness and skill that emanated from the pages.

Additionally, I also saw a manuscript from the poet Robert Browning, and music written by Handel and Schubert, and lyrics written on scrap paper by The Beatles!

Photograph of Jane Austen's "History of England," from (The British Library forbids visitors from taking photographs.)


I am now officially a published author. In mid-July, I received an email acceptance letter from Inlandia Journal -- a small, online lit mag based in Riverside. I am very happy to join the ranks of Stefanie Barbé Hammer, Kate Anger and Judy Kronenfeld (UCR professors), as well as Samantha Lamph, Nicelle Davis, and Shali Nicholas (current and former classmates) -- who have all also been published in Inlandia Journal.

Thank you to all my past and present professors, family, and friends. I am very happy to have been included in the Summer 2012 issue.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


My class railed to Rome last weekend. As a Catholic and art-lover, I was so amazed and excited!

We ran through the Vatican museums, just spending a few minutes at each of the most important pieces of art. I really wished we could have stayed longer. Then we walked through the Sistine Chapel and hurriedly took in the frescoes while our tour guide argued with a security guard. He wanted to kick out everybody because one of our group had been filming the ceiling.

It was as almost as packed in the Sistine Chapel as it was in the subway -- standing room only. Far above us, Michelangelo began the first frescoes close to the entrance. You can see that the people are much smaller in these scenes, because after painting them, Michelangelo stood on the floor to see how things looked. He realized that it was hard to distinguish who the people were from that far away, so when he went back up to the ceiling, he began to paint fewer people on a much larger scale.

I liked seeing the Birth of Adam in person, and in context. It is surrounded by other panels that depict each stage of creation. One shows God creating the sun, and then shows God again, with his back turned and his behind bared -- the moon!

The Last Judgement was also the last fresco that he painted there. In it, you can see the influence of "Laocoon and his Sons," because it was after seeing the unearthed sculpture that Michelangelo began to paint people in complicated, twisted poses. (Or that's the theory, anyways.) 

When the Japanese cleaned the frescoes in the 1980s, they left black squares all over the wall to show how dark it had gotten. Our tour guide told us that art history books had talked about how the darkness in Michelangelo's paintings had revealed the darkness of his soul -- little did they know that he painted in bright colors!

You can see one of the biggest black squares here, in the bottom left corner. 

Monday, July 16, 2012


Glove shops are sprinkled all over the place in Florence. I like nothing better than looking snappy during the winter, but even more than that, I love being warm. I get cold faster than anyone else I know, so no hoodies for me -- I have to wear two at a time to keep warm in my house. When going outside, I wear either a lambswool or Swedish wool sweater with a colorful scarf, black wool trench coat, and a black cloche or magenta fedora. So when I noticed the glove shops all over, I knew I had to find some.

Since I'll be here for a month, I took my time and checked out the prices of several shops before deciding where to buy. Today, I went to Martelli's Glove Factory and bought a pair of navy blue leather gloves with silk lining.

I wanted to get magenta or a bright blue to match the fedora, but the shop lady said that one should either wear a bright hat and understated gloves, or an understated hat and bright gloves. She recommended the navy color, which I bought -- though I may still return to get a bright pair, too. This is what they looked like when I first bought them, and here's a photo after a year of use:


Some people come to Florence and buy jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio, maybe even more come for the designer shoes, but my favorite souvenir is a smart pair of gloves.

Update: I did go back for a bright purple pair:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I have been in Florence for just over a week now and live with four roommates in the tourist-y area of Via de Guicciardini. We have an apartment on the second floor with tile flooring, wood-framed windows, lace curtains, no air conditioning, and a small washing machine and refrigerator. 

For the first few days, doing everything was an adventure. We knocked on our neighbors’ doors to ask how to use the washing machine, but nobody answered. One of my clever roomies figured it out by Youtubing it. The first grocery store we went to was very expensive and about the size of a 7-11 in the states, but since then we found a bigger store – about ½ the size of a Stater Brothers. There’s also a market across town where they have a good selection of produce – but we don’t go over that way too often. Also had to learn how to reheat food without a microwave.

So far, we’ve only had media workshop classes – a CSUF professor is teaching us basic photography skills and showing us how to use iPhoto, GarageBand, and Final Cut on the school MacBooks. I’m not great at this sort of thing, but am slowly picking it up.

During the week, we walk fifteen minutes to get to school, which is about halfway between Piazza Signori and the Santa Croce church. This is my favorite part of the day. We go over the Ponte Vecchio bridge, dodging crowds of tourists and walking over cobblestones that are who knows how old, cobblestones that Dante and Michelangelo could have walked on a few of these stones! The streets are narrow between the high brick buildings. Laundry hangs out on the balconies just like in the movies.

A few days ago we went to the Accademia and saw Michelangelo’s David; this weekend we spent five hours in Venice, walking around St. Mark's Square & Basilica, eating, and riding gondolas and the water bus. Today we saw the Pitti Palace, which housed the rulers of Florence (including the Medici family) for hundreds of years. There is so much Renaissance and Modern art in there, you wouldn’t believe it. I’m definitely going back to spend more time there; we had a three-hour guided tour, but even that wasn’t enough time.

Tomorrow is the Uffizi Gallery and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”!

"Corner of the Ponte Vecchio bridge at dusk," photo by CCM.

"View From Our Door in the Early Morning, Before It Gets Busy," by CCM.

Photo of Michelangelo's "David," by

Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus," photo not mine - unknown photographer.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Master's Thesis

The minimum page requirement for my Master's thesis is 160 pages. Most of the other students in my class are writing short stories, so once they write enough stories to fill approximately 160 pages, they'll be finished.

I decided to try writing a novel. The problem with a novel is that it's possible for it to turn out much longer. If you write 160 pages and are just beginning, young Tolstoy, you still have to finish the story in order to turn in your thesis. Right now, I have 66 pages written, and I know I'm not halfway through. I'm not even one-third of the way through. It is maybe 1/5 or 1/6 finished.

If 66 pages is only 1/5 of the way through, the total number of pages would be 330. If it's 1/6 of the way finished, then the end count will be 396 pages. Just by choosing a novel (though my writing style is also to blame), I've created twice as much work for myself than if I had decided to write short stories.

The average of 330 and 396 is 363 pages. My goal this summer is to write the first 200 pages of this novel and see where that gets me. With 14 weeks left until school starts, that means that I need to turn out an average of about 14 new pages per week.

Hard enough, right? The complication is that I just arrived in Florence today, scrambled and jet-lagged and ready for a month of studying and sightseeing.

Wish me luck. Or dare me. Either one will help.

Packing Tip

Not that I’ve traveled extensively or anything – because I haven’t – but here’s a packing tip that you may already know about: stack books on your clothes and let them compress your luggage overnight.  I  did this on accident – packed my clothes and then set the books I was bringing on top of the bag, planned on putting them in a backpack later. The next morning, I found that my clothes were way more compressed than they were – I fit a few more items in and there is still a decent amount of room left at the top, so I zipped it up with ease. I think it weighs about 40-45 pounds.

"Italy, Tuscany, Young woman pushing stuffed suitcase in hotel room," Publisher: Westend61-RF-2, on

Monday, June 25, 2012

So ends my stint in real estate.

Last week, I gave my boss my resignation letter. I haven't left a real job before (because I haven't had a real job before). I did resign from Big 5 Sporting Goods when I was twenty, but that was a big store with lots of employees, and I only worked there a few hours a week. They weren't going to notice that I left. This office, however, has only four employees and is about the size of half of my house. I worked there full time for one year, and part time for seven months. I often hold down the office by myself. I can match up most of our 203 properties with their 203 tenants, and some of their almost-203 owners. I have begun to develop a soft-sell sale style that has been pretty effective.

The night before I resigned, I found myself Googling how to write a resignation letter. I followed the sample I found on, which suggested that one should thank the company and keep the letter brief. I was happy to be moving on to other things, until my boss brought in the new receptionist to work on my day off. The next time I came in, I discovered that this other person had been at my desk, taking my phone calls and leaving notes on our business projects in handwriting that was a strange cross between my boss's cursive and my coworker's caps. I've been replaced, and, suddenly, I felt territorial -- like baby bear coming home just in time to find Goldilocks.

Someone has been calling my tenants!
Someone has been advertising for my properties!
Someone has been working my hours, and she's eating them all up!

I'm sure that when the time comes, I'll be more than happy to sit in a bigger chair and sleep in a longer bed. But until my last day, I don't want anyone else picking at my bowl of oatmeal and craisins.

Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl," 1988.

Ellsworth, Mary. The Colorful Story Book. 1941. Web 24 June, 2012.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

On Leaving Home

My family left home this weekend for a two-week vacation in Yellowstone National Park. I left today, too, in a sense. My family always packs home into the car with everything else: it's stuffed under the seats with the sleeping bags and binoculars, crammed in between the metal plates and gas stove.

Even when I leave the house this week, I'm not leaving California yet--I'm staying the night at an aunt's house and flying out of LAX the next day. It makes it easier to leave if one does it in pieces--first the real home, then the physical house, then the region. Lucky for me, my family and home will be unpacked and settled into the house again by the time I return. . .

. . . so happy that Italy has palm trees, too!

"Close-up Of Palm Trees Near Buildings, Rome," by Keith Levit Photography. <>.

Monday, June 18, 2012

2012 looks like it’s turning out to be a pretty big year. I completed my year-long internship with Inland Empire Magazine, I’m quitting the secretarial job I’ve held for over a year, I’m studying in Italy for a month, seeing the London Olympics, and – at the end of this adventure – I return to a new job, a new year of grad school with new profs and classmates, and a new internship with Cliché Magazine.

That’s a big improvement on 2011. Not that nothing happened – it was last year that I landed my first grown-up, (nearly) full-time nine-to-five job, and then grad school started in September. On a daily basis, I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything, and I was not earning much money, either. Sometimes 2012 feels the same way, actually, even though this year has a lot more going on. Whenever it happens again, I’m going to remember everything I'm doing that I have to be thankful for.

And then, I’m going to go back to concentrating on how to make that year even better than the last one.  

Photo citation:
les Phillips cover of Life Magazine, 1927

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Recession? Yes. Hope anyways? Double Yes.

The roaring twenties are remembered as a time when people ate, drank, and were merry. If you compare the twenties to the two-thousands, they would be magenta and we would be a dull brown. They would be "It Happened One Night," (okay, a few years later), and we would be "Made of Honor." 

We are in a recession, and if you believe what you read in newspapers, most young adults are struggling to pay for their ever-increasing tuition, fighting to get into general ed classes, and desperately searching for jobs that aren’t there. When they do finally land a job, they will most likely be underemployed, because only half of employed graduates find positions that even require a bachelor’s degree (Rampell 2011).

The result of all this is that this generation will make significantly less money in its lifetime, because, according to the NYT, students who graduate “during a poor economy [experience] a relative wage loss even 15 years after entering the work force” (Buchholz 2012). That graduates will accept lower-salary jobs also means that uneducated workers who might normally hold such positions are having to look elsewhere, making their unemployment rates even worse than those of the just-graduated (Rampell 2011).

This is what the papers say -- and, unfortunately, they are correct.

So, what are we going to do about it?

We’re not going to give up. We’re going to beat the odds. I think there can sometimes be an unconscious tendency to -- as Lady Bracknell says – see such dire facts as a prediction, a destiny, to see them as “statistics [that have been] laid down for our guidance” (Wilde). But if we’re going to best his recession, the key to accomplish that, according to economist Till von Wachter, is almost to act as if there isn’t one. “[W]hile young people who have weathered a tough job market may shy from risks during their careers,” von Wachter says, “[T]he best way to nullify an unlucky graduation date is to change jobs when you can” (Rampell 2011).

So let’s band together and make the most of it. Despite the circumstances, the disappointments and hardships, we still need to work to achieve our goals. There will be times when we feel angry, cheated, disillusioned – and there’s a time for that – but I hope that mostly we will try to interpret this situation as a challenge, as a test of our hope.

I am dedicating this blog to that hope, to that struggle. I am dedicating this blog to the celebration of goals, of continued learning, and to the search for challenging, fulfilling work. This blog will try to support young people who want to use wisely every minute of their twenties: to strive, to grow, to take chances, to change the world, and to enjoy life.

Let’s celebrate this uncertain and exciting time in our lives.

This is for those who will still roar through their twenties.

Works Cited

Buchholz, Todd and Victoria. “The Go-Nowhere Generation.” The New York Times. March 10, 2012. Web June 15, 2012.

Class of 2012.” Editorial. The New York Times. June 4, 2012. Web June 15, 2012.

Rampell, Catherine. “As New Graduates Return to Nest, Economy Also Feels the Pain.” The New York Times. Nov. 16, 2011. Web June 15, 2012.

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. 1895.

Image: cover of Life Magazine, Feb. 18, 1926.