What’s Up, Wednesday?

During the lull of the last few months I’ve been…

antm logo

… listening to: America’s Next Top Model. I can’t really say that I’ve been watching it, as it’s mostly just been on in the background as I work. I like seeing the results of the photo shoots, and there’s something about Tyra Banks that I just really like for whatever reason. I don’t really have words for why I like her so much, but I do. I know she’s got a reputation for being a little bit cuckoobird, but I love it. She just seems like she’s so unabashedly her, and I admire that. I imagine it’s far easier to just be YOU, weird and goofy and all, with no worries when you’ve got a bazillion dollar empire behind you, but even so. So old seasons of ANTM have been my soundtrack for the last few weeks.

brush calligraphy

… learning: brush calligraphy. This was one of my New Years Resolutions, and unlike some other resolutions that I’ve made in the past, I’ve been working pretty consistently on this one for most of the year. I’m still just okay, but I can actively see improvement from a few months ago, so that’s pretty cool.

game of thrones

… watching: Game of Thrones. Oh. My. God. How did I not hop on this train earlier!? nnngghhhhhhh. Jim and I started watching a couple of weeks ago after my brother bought my Dad season one for Father’s Day (my dad read the first book back in the day, and enjoyed it), and after I accidentally watched the “Battle of the Bastards” episode (the apartmentmate was watching it and I perked up at the SUPER AWESOME depiction of a pitched battle… I love me a good medieval murderfest…) We’re on season 3 now. This show, man… It makes me angry and frustrated, and sad and then mad all over again… but (generally) I love every second.

sansa stark red

…obsessing over: my new Sansa Stark red hair. Basically this is the exact color I’ve always wanted. Sort of ginger, sort of brown, with just a little bit of blonde depending on the light… it’s like, perfect. And after starting to watch game of thrones? I FINALLY had something other than like a video game screenshot (my Inquisitor and my Sole Survivor have this exact color) to use as reference for my stylist. Sansa Stark red. Perfect.

pokemon go

…playing: Pokemon Go. Because who isn’t? Well, plenty of people. But I’m playing, so yea. RIP my phone battery.

armpit cuddles

… enjoying: getting to know this little brat. Sieglinde. My parent’s new Goldendoodle puppy. And brat is definitely the right word for her… But I love her. Full post on her to come.

… working on: getting my life back together. Those of you who have been around on this blog journey with me for a while know that the past year and a half have been rough for me thanks to a persistent anxiety problem. My attempts to get a handle on it by myself just really weren’t working, as the continued silence here probably made clear. So I’ve finally started therapy to get it under control, and so far the experience has been a very positive one. I feel more relaxed and in control of my life than I can remember, really since I left school.

I have what’s been referred to around the internet as “high-functioning” anxiety. It’s not something that you’d see or that you’d know I was struggling with unless you were super close to me. This article describes what it’s like to have that constant “worst case scenario” running through your head but still appear “well adjusted” (whatever that means) to the rest of the world. My triggers are different, and my version of “learning to live with it” looked a bit different, but the overall idea is the same. Someday I’ll feel like the time is right to share my whole anxiety journey with you. Because I’m still in the process of working on changing my thought patterns, that time isn’t now. But I’m feeling like there’s a real light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in a long time.

So that’s like, super great.

What have you been up to the last few months?

30 Days – Day 2: A Photograph

So this one is taking a decidedly unexpected turn. I originally had several cherished family photos in mind when I compiled the challenge list, but ultimately due to questions of whether or not my internet-wary family would appreciate having them posted for all to see I’ve decided to go in a different direction (although the hunt through all our old albums was certainly beneficial for me from a gratitude standpoint – which after all was the point of this project.)

So I’m going in a more professional direction with this and in the process I guess I’m changing the prompt a little.

So here we go.

On day 2 of this challenge, I am grateful for: War Photographers.

Joe Odonnell

A quick warning here: some (all) of the photographs that I will link here are not for the faint of heart. Click through at your own risk.

This probably seems to you like a very strange thing to be grateful for. So let me explain.

See, professionally my research interests are dark. I gravitate towards the history of warfare – particularly the two biggies for the US in the 20th century – WWII and Vietnam. And as someone who routinely and purposefully surrounds herself with some of the worst things humanity has done to itself, the extremes of human suffering and brutality – you sort of develop a distance from the subject. You become jaded and separated from the reality of it, really as a defense mechanism more than anything.

It is easy to stop seeing the people you read about as real. It is easy to begin reading it almost as if it was fiction – to get that same sense of detached disgust that comes with watching a particularly gory battle scene in a movie, or a fictional bad-guy order some sort of horrible fate for the hero. You know it’s awful. You know it’s horrifying. But it doesn’t really pack quite as much of a punch as it should.

You become desensitized. You stop seeing who you’re reading about as people, and more as a subject or a case study.

And as far as I’m concerned, nothing is more dangerous than that.

So today, I am grateful for all the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to record the horrors we’ve precipitated. The photographs they produced are the things that keep me grounded in reality more than anything – by recording the moments when we as a species have lost sight of our humanity, they’ve allowed me to maintain mine as I study it all.

I can read several thousand first hand accounts of the human suffering caused by the firebombing in Japan, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but nothing connects me to the reality of that more than photos of it. Nothing reminds me that these were real people who lived through this horror – not some fictional retelling – than the photos that let me see the suffering with my own two eyes. I can read hundreds of historians telling me about the civilian toll of the napalming and “search and destroy” techniques utilized in the Vietnamese countryside, but nothing drives it home quite like seeing the pain in the flesh – in the cries of a little girl in pain, or the fear in an older woman’s eyes. I can read Holocaust memoir after Holocaust memoir, but nothing hammers in the true horror of it like seeing the bodies, seeing the graves, seeing the condition of the survivors.

Seeing, after all, is believing.

And on a far less personal level – nothing forces us (as a society) to confront the reality of our past quite like photography – specifically because it forces us to admit that the pain was real. The suffering was real. That these were actual things that humans did to other humans – purposefully, no less. There’s a realness in the pain behind these photographs that even the best actor couldn’t reproduce, and nothing can remind us of the real human toll of war quite as effectively.

And that reminder is invaluable.

It is horrible that these things happened. But they did. And we cannot let that fact be forgotten. Remembering the human toll of war is what will be most effective in helping us prevent these things from happening again.

You know the old saying, that a picture is worth a thousand words? There is nowhere that this is more true than in photography of war. One photograph can be more effective in arguing for peace than a million words spilled by a million people on the subject. And today, I am grateful for that.

 

[Photo of Joe O’Donnell – US Marine and Photojournalist known for his photos of post-surrender Japan, including the aftermath of the atomic bombs. Clicking the image will take you to the source.]

It’s That Time of Year Again!

20150821_121218

I’m really about a week late on this one, but even now, colleges and K-12 schools alike are beginning to trickle back into session.

As an educator it’s without a doubt my favorite time of year. So much excitement! So much potential! So many OFFICE SUPPLIES!!! I love it.

Back to school season is second only to Christmas in my books.

And to celebrate not only this, but also my triumphant return to blogging on a relatively regular schedule, we’ll be kicking off the school year with some school themed posts. Most of them will be aimed towards higher education, since that is after all the level I’ve been teaching for going on 6 years now. But there’ll be plenty that can be applicable to high school as well!

For now, let’s start off simple enough – with a link roundup! We haven’t done one of these in a while, so buckle up – this’ll be fun!

Unsolicited Advice About Living On Campus from The Jesuit Post – This article contains some REALLY great advice for students moving into a dorm environment for the first time. And don’t be scared away by the fact that it’s by a Jesuit – it’s great advice for all students, whether you’re religious or not.

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2019 – Every year professors at Beloit College in Wisconsin put together a list of cultural factoids about the incoming freshman class that help us professors get some perspective on, well, exactly how old and unrelatable we’ve become over the years. Highlights from this year include the fact that this year’s freshman have never known a world without South Park, Harry Potter, or Google. Weird.

18 Pieces of Advice for 18 Year Old Freshmen – A post of mine from this time last year containing a lot of advice for incoming freshman – it includes things I now realize after having seen college from the other side of the desk, things I learned the hard way as a college student myself, and advice that I was given by others that I’m really glad I took to heart because it made my college experience *that much* better.

44 Things I Learned My Freshman Year of College from Mostly Morgan – And if you don’t trust me because you think I’ve been out of the STUDENT game for too long (although I’m tellin’ ya, hindsight’s 20/20), here’s some advice from an actual college student.

And then last…

21 Things People Should Know Before Going to College from Buzzfeed – I’m not usually a fan of Buzzfeed click bait, but this list has some genuinely good advice on it. Particularly #5, #14, and #21.

Happy Start of the School Year!

Last-minute DIY Valentine’s Day Roundup

heart friendship bracelets

I don’t do roundups much, but with Valentine’s Day coming up TOMORROW (I know, right? When did that happen, and what happened to January?) I figured a quick roundup of fast, last-minute DIY projects from around the web might be just the ticket.

Starting with these adorable heart-shaped friendship bracelets from HonestlyWTF (pictured above – not my photo, clicking will take you to the original)…

This adorable printable from The Dating Divas.

These cute little DIY fabric heart valentines from Flamingo Toes. LOTS of other awesome ideas on this site as well, and these particularly would make an adorable scrap-busting project.

This quick and easy crochet heart garland over on Craftaholics Anonymous.

… and lastly, if you’re looking for printable Valentines cards, I’m obsessed with these little Star Wars Valentines from Tips from a Typical Mom.

Hope everyone out there has a lovely Valentine’s day (or Galentine’s day)!

It’s Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day, aka Remembrance Day)

In Flanders Feild

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.

Today here in the US is Veterans Day – a day to celebrate, thank, and honor the men and women who have fought for our country. But it is also a much more specific holiday – and the holiday from which Veterans Day originally evolved: Armistice Day, which celebrates the ceasefire that brought an end to WWI’s Western Front.

Here in the US, World War One doesn’t get too much attention, mainly because our involvement was so limited. But, particularly considering that this year is the centennial of the conflict’s start, I think that it’s very important to take some time today to remember this conflict for what it was: a world war of such magnitude that it was presumed at the time to be the war to end all wars.

When all was said and done, when the battlefields of Europe finally fell silent, more than 17 million people were dead. About 7 million were civilians. The population and physical infrastructure of continental Europe had been ravaged by new military technologies like tanks, flamethrowers (flammenwefer), and chemical weapons like mustard gas. Naval warfare had been changed forever by Dreadnoughts and U-boats, and planes had seen their first usage as a weapon of war*. From the unprecedented destruction that these technologies birthed, to the collapse of four major imperial powers and the planting of economic and nationalist seeds that would later become an even more deadly conflict, there’s no denying that WWI quite literally changed the world. It christened the 20th century in an inferno of violence, death, and destruction.

So today, on the anniversary of the halting of hostilities by ceasefire on the Western Front of WWI, I leave you with the above graphic/printable I made featuring LCol John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” This poem is one of the reasons the poppy has become the international symbol used to commemorate soldiers who have died in war.

Additionally, if you wish to read up on WWI, or investigate the conflict further for yourself, here are a few links you may find helpful/interesting:

WWI by the Numbers: an awesome infographic c/o the History Channel that gives a great overview of the technological and human impact of the war using statistics (and some great graphic design).

WWI at the British Library: an amazing collection of primary sources and specially commissioned articles by historians exploring every facet of the war, from causes to cultural legacies.

WWI at the Imperial War Museum: lots of great exhibits and resources available through their website including online exhibits about life on the front lines, and life back home in Britain.

The National WWI Museum Online: has several great online exhibitions, again, on everything from the causes of the war to life on the homefront (this time in the US).

Operation War Diary: a joint project between the British National Archives and the Imperial War Museum to digitize and organize over 1.5 million pages of WWI diaries by crowdsourcing (I’ve written about this project before).

*Not-so-fun Fact: All this new technology is part of the reason why the war was so deadly – the combination of 20th century technology with 19th century war tactics resulted in bloodbaths of obscene proportions, with very little to show in terms of advancement or gains once the battles ended. Basically, trench warfare was nasty, nasty stuff.
[Graphic Info – Font: Breamcatcher; Image credits: WWI image – Wikimedia Commons and the Imperial War Museum; Poppy field image – koko-stock on deviantart]

Tempted by Sweater Knitting

Sweater pattern collage

Pumpkin lattes are out, and that always triggers a pavlovian response in me. Because of course, pumpkin latte time is sweater time. Never mind that it’s currently 90 damn degrees out as I type this. Facts? Who needs ‘em?

So I’ve been in a sweater state of mind for about two weeks now. My knitting box is starting to look attractive again, I’m itching to pull everything out of storage, and every time I look out a window I’m half hoping that the leaves have already started to turn. But of course, they haven’t. And they won’t for a while. And if I ACTUALLY put on a sweater, I’d be a sweaty horrible mess within 30 seconds, because it’s been one of the hottest weeks of the year here. Augh.

So to satisfy my cravings for fall, I’ve been looking at sweater patterns on Ravelry. I’ve never knit a sweater before – I don’t swatch for gauge when I knit, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never care enough/have the patience to, so sweater knitting is pretty much out of the picture. Too much yarn required (which means too much of a financial commitment) to possibly only end up with something that doesn’t fit.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t look. And maybe drop hints to my mom – who is knitting again, and is seriously a machine (like, seriously, she’s put out more FOs in the year she’s been back to it than I have in my nine years I’ve been knitting times 5).

So here’s a collection of the five sweater patterns that tempt me the most. You know, in case anyone wants to knit for me (all links lead to the ravelry pattern page).

Unbound by Annamaria Otvos

#1: Unbound by Annamária Ötvös. Love this cozy, slouchy pattern. The use of fingering weight leaves me feeling like it’d be pretty light as well – perfect for that in-between weather.

Aidez by Cirilia Rose

#2: Aidez by Cirilia Rose. This cabled cardigan seems like the ultimate cuddle sweater. Can’t you just see wearing it with a comfy vintage tee with leggings and big slouchy socks while curling up with a cup of tea? Augh. Fall. Where are you?

Ease pattern by Alicia Plummer

#3: Ease by Alicia Plummer. Another simple, cozy sweater pattern. Are you seeing a trend in my taste? I guess cozy and slouchy is the name of the game for me this fall/winter. I like this for its simplicity and the fact that there are options to knit it with a hood or without, so it can be either a little more formal, or very casual.

Sari Cardi by Jenise Reid

#4: Sari Cardi by Jenise Reid. Love the construction of this cardigan – it’s like half wrap, half full sweater. Again, perfect for a cozy kind of day, while still staying work-wearable. Plus, I’ve always had a thing for saris. They’re just SO BEAUTIFUL.

and last, but not least,

a hint of summer by isabel kraemer

#5: …A Hint of Summer by Isabell Kraemer. Another light, slouchy pullover like Unbound, but this time with stripes. Again, perfect for that in-between weather that’s fast approaching.

What are your favorite sweater patterns?

[All photos taken from the Ravelry pattern pages, and link back to said page]

8 Things I Wish I Owned When I Lived in a Dorm

Dorm Room Essentials

 

A lot has changed in the world since I was an undergrad (seven years ago now… I honestly don’t know where the time went…). Myspace isn’t really a thing anymore, Facebook has changed so much it barely resembles what we so eagerly signed up for when our university FINALLY got added, AIM has died a slow death, iPods are rarely seen as a separate entity, and everything you used to use your computer for can now be done on the phone that fits in your back pocket.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is the nature of dorm life. Rooms are still tiny, closets are still far too small, bathrooms are still communal, shower shoes are still needed, and walls are still most often white or beige cinderblock (lucky you if you get actual drywall!).

Now, the agenda post was supposed to be my last back-to-school post, but after I watched campus move back into the residence halls last week, I got to thinking about the kind of things I wish I had had while I was living that cinderblock surrounded life. There are so many cool things out now that are super conducive to life in a dorm, and so I’ve gathered a list of eight of the things I think would have made my life SO MUCH EASIER as a dorming student.

keurig

First, a Keurig Coffee Machine. I got one of these babies (mine’s blue, though I am admittedly very fond of this orchid colored one) for Christmas from my Aunt after I moved into my first non-school-housing apartment in 2012, and let me tell you, it’d be pretty amazing for dorm life. When I was in school, I had a coffee machine in my room, but it was just a small, regular drip machine – and it could get really messy, what with the pouring, and the coffee grounds, and the dripping filter. Additionally, with the drip machine, you’d have a pot and a filter container to wash after you were done. But with the Keurigs, there’s no extra hassle. Just pop in a K-cup and you’re on your way. They’re also perfect for heating water for tea – just run a cycle without a K-cup. And as if that wasn’t enough, the large cup is also the perfect amount of water to fill a Ramen Cup-O-Noodles to the fill line.

I do admit that I think I would prefer the bigger version with the water tank on the side to the mini – particularly now that I’m in a real apartment with a real kitchen, but the mini is much more compact – perfect for the limited space of a dorm room.

poopourri

2) Poo-pourri. Oh my goodness would this have been awesome to have in a communal bathroom. My mom brought home a bottle of this one day a few years ago because she thought it was hilarious, but lo and behold, turns out it actually works. This would have been so handy to have a really big bottle of… could have saved me (and others!) so much sneaking around, holding it in until the bathroom is empty, and hurrying out before anyone saw it was you who “did the deed.” Because even though EVERYBODY POOPS, and NOBODY’S POOP SMELLS LIKE FLOWERS, for some reason it’s still sort of taboo to admit that the smelly one was yours. And even if you’re not someone who is embarrassed by that kind of thing (I admit that the older I get the fewer shits I give… pun intended), there’s a practical purpose for this one too – to keep the communal bathroom as a whole fresh.

swivel sweeper

3) The Swivel Sweeper. I got one of these last year for quick touch-ups in our mostly hardwood floor apartment, and honestly it would have been such a perfect vacuum for a tiny dorm room. It does a great job on hard surfaces and throw-rugs alike, and the new model has a handy feature where the brushes come out for easy removal of hair that gets trapped around them. All we had when we were in school was a regular dry swiffer for the hard surfaces, and we had to borrow the big floor vacuum from maintenance when we wanted a real vacuuming of our throw rugs, mainly because we couldn’t find a vacuum small enough that still actually, well, vacuumed.

hot hair tool storage

4) Hot Hair Tool Storage. One of the biggest pains in the butt in a teeny tiny dorm room is using hot hair tools like blowdryers or straightening irons because, well, where do you place them down when they’re still hot? And you can’t put them away until they cool down enough, so forget it if you’re in a rush… But these handy caddies are such a perfect solution to that issue – they’re made of stainless steel with high-temp resistant silicone so that you don’t have to worry about putting your still hot curling iron away and rushing out the door.

hanging jewelry organizer

5) Hanging Jewelry Organizer. This would have been a complete life-saver. Not only would it have cleared off space on my already too-packed dresser, but it would have kept my jewelry organized, AND safely out of sight, nestled in with all my actual dresses and shirts.

vornado fan

6) A Vornado “Air Circulator” (Fan). My apartmentmate got one of the really large size Vornados about two years ago, and let me tell you, these guys are worth the price tag. They move more air than any fan I’ve seen that’s twice their size. And they’re quiet too. One of the medium sizes would have been so perfect for our dorm rooms, which because of their size often got stuffy, even when the air conditioning was on (when we had air conditioning – not all dorms do). All we had was this dinky little desk fan, which frankly didn’t do anything unless you were sitting with it pointed directly in your face. These Vornado fans are designed to move all the air in the room – making it feel a bunch cooler, without having to dry your eyes out by having wind pointed directly at them.

huggable-hangers-55-piece-set-with-jumbo-totes-chrome-d-2014072414430487~346113

7) Huggable Hangers. These things are every clotheshorse’s dream. I made the switch to these too late to be of any use in a dorm, but the amount of clothes you can fit into even the tiniest closet with these is pretty astounding. They come with hanging loops so you can cascade hangers, and clips that can turn them into skirt hangers. And bonus – now they come in different colors!

Now, the original Joy Mangano hangers are, admittedly, a bit pricey for a whole closet’s worth. And while I think it was totally worth it (In my experience, they’re much sturdier than the non-name brand ones), it might be a bit much to spend for college – so luckily, in the years since these debuted, there are TONS of cheaper imitations out there and you can get slimline felt hangers anywhere from TJ MAXX to Walmart.

over the door purse storage

8) And last we have these over-the-door purse racks. This is the only item on this list that I actually DID have in college, although only for the last year when me and my roommate were in an apartment. But having used them then, I can attest to how amazingly handy they would have been in our tiny dorm, particularly since both me and my roomie were purse junkies. These are basically canvas strips that have hooks on them, and they’re fully adjustable, so they can fit on your dorm door, OR the door of your wardrobe.

Any suggestions for stuff to add to the list? What did YOU find most handy as a dorming student? Do share in the comments!

[Clicking on the pictures should take you to the source – and the place you can buy these things. This is not a sponsored post, I am not affiliated with any of these companies or websites – they just happen to make products I love.]