Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blustery

Blazer, Forever 21 | Pants, Old Navy | Scarf, Target | Boots, Breckelles | Glasses, sponsored by Firmoo | Ear cuffs, DIY (tutorial)

My thoughts have been stubborn lately.

They refuse to be coaxed from the depths and tangles of my mind. I wrestle, drag, shove, but only emerge into the tangible realm with fragments.

I'm going to have to keep this post short; I don't yet have a good grasp on the multitude of things I want to say, or even a good grasp on the overwhelming amount of work ahead.

All I know is this: I will not let frustration or anxiety win.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Silver White Winters


I peer down the impressive, snow-covered slope. I glance at the brown dining hall tray in my hands. I am skeptical.

"Guys, are you sure this is safe? What if I die?"

My friends laugh and reassure me. The countless tracks that pepper the terrain should reassure me too, but I can't seem to push the joke of a seasoned sledder out of my mind: 

Either the tray breaks, or you break.

I look to the scenic mountain range in the distance for comfort, but only find the inky darkness of the night. I inhale deeply, hoping the crisp winter air will cleanse me of my fears.

I begin to reason with myself: Well, it is a campus tradition, and your friends have emerged alive and unharmed...

Exhaling, I speak before I can back out. "All right guys, show me how to do this."

After a mini-tutorial on the art of sledding with a dining hall tray, I attempt to emulate the proper form: butt balanced, knees up, feet hovering outside the tray, hands gripping the sides.

"Ready?" We gather at the crest, all in position. "One, two, three."

A warbled sound resembling a deep wail escapes my throat before I even begin to move. With an awkward self-start, I'm off. 

"AHHHHH."

I keep wailing as I whizz down the hill, snow spraying my face. I attempt to steer around bumps, but some of them are unavoidable. I bounce, fly, bounce, fly. It is oddly satisfying, invigorating, exhilirating.

I slow to a stop, dazed and dizzy but delighted. I am happy--because I've tackled the intimidating and allowed myself to let go. 

*                                        *                                          *

A few weeks later, the carefree moments of the beginning of the semester already feel so distant. Deadlines loom threateningly, stress leads to nights of tossing and turning. It's back to the usual grind.

Like sledding, I may not have control over everything along the way, but I know everything will be okay.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gradient

Cardigan, Macy's | Top, Old Navy | Necklace, LucyMint | Shorts, Forever 21 | Boots, Tommy Hilfiger

The transition to spring semester hasn't been nearly as smooth as the ombre on my cardigan, but I like to think I'm beginning to settle in. Class enrollment caps and my lack of seniority have sent me hunting for a final course during add/drop week, and of course, my indecisiveness has proved a barrier to finalizing my schedule. At least I can apply what I've recently learned in intro econ. Time to analyze opportunity costs and strive to maximize utility.

Anyways, this outfit was shot at home over break, and was one of my favorite work ensembles--nothing like subtle coordination and eclectic combinations. Now that I'm back at school, I've found it much more difficult to stay as polished since the perpetual snow and slush-blanketed paths force me to tailor outfits to my lone pair of black, riding-style snowboots. But of course, I welcome and gladly tackle challenges of all forms.

Hopefully talk to you all soon for a more in-depth update.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Travel Tips: How to Maximize Suitcase Space

While most college students are well into the swing of second semester now, I've only recently flown back to the picturesque East coast. Here's how I make it back and forth from Ohio to Massachusetts with everything I need, from textbooks to instruments to clothes.

1. Roll clothes and pack strategically
More space + easier organization + fewer wrinkles = win

There's a lot of speculation about whether rolling actually creates more space, but I've found that rolling allows me to pack my clothes more densely, the same way rolling sleeping bags is more effective than folding them.

It also helps to pack heavier items first. For example, I place my textbooks and sweaters on the bottom since my lighter pieces are more flexible--they can fit in whatever holes I need to fill.

If you have any fragile items, such as plastic containers or accessories, I also recommend placing those neither at the top or the bottom of your suitcase to ake sure they have sufficient cushioning on all sides.

2. Fill shoes with socks, underwear, jewelry
This not only maximizes precious storage space, but also keep any of your gems and baubles from being jostled.

3. Wear heaviest and bulkiest clothes
For me, that meant my thick cream sweater that still manages to stay damp after multiple dryer cycles, winter boots, and parka. Layering up also keeps you toasty on the often-chilly flights. Be sure to stay within reason, however; excessive amounts of clothing may make security checks difficult.
Coat, Columbia | Sweater, thrifted | Pants, Old Navy | Boots, Bogs | Scarf, gift (Kohl's) | Backpack, Herschel Supply Co.

4. Use a backpack as a personal item
As long as your second, smaller carry-on fits under the seats, you should be good to go. The space has been surprisingly deep, and I've been able to bring both my violin and stuffed Herschel on board with no problem. Check the space dimensions for specific domestic U.S. airlines here.

5. If flying Southwest, check 2 bags (for free!)
This has saved me nearly every time flying to and from school. Sometimes not everything I want to bring home will fit in one suitcase, so I check a large backpack as well. Southwest is one of the few airlines that allows passengers to check up to two bags free. I've found it the most efficient airline for me for that reason, and also because I can change flights with no penalty. If the new flight you want is more expensive, you simply pay the difference, but if it's cheaper, you get credit. I've actually gotten $30-$50 back before after switching my tickets once exam schedules were released. 

On another note, if your airline does not allow any free checked bags and your luggage is overweight, it's actually usually more economically efficient to check two bags than pay the overweight fee for one. It also makes it easier on the airport personnel transporting the bags.

6. Bring only versatile pieces; consider planning outfits ahead
For trips a week or shorter, I envision what I'll wear each day so I know I'm not taking more than I need. For longer breaks, I simply bring pieces I know I can style in many different ways, such my mint button-down and black skater skirt. In general, I've found it best to err on the side of caution--it feels like a waste to transport clothing I didn't get a chance to wear and working with a limited number of pieces really encourages you to be creative.
7. To check luggage weight without a special hand scale, weigh yourself, weigh yourself holding the suitcase, and subtract the numbers
Save yourself $20 and do some simple math. This is particularly helpful if you have access to a normal scale, but can't see the numbers when you place your luggage on it. It's not entirely accurate, but I've been within a pound each time. Use the space in your outside suitcase pockets in case you do have to remove some weight at the airport.

8. Consider investing in nifty storage pieces
While I've never personally used packing cubes and vacuum bags, I've heard that they can be extremely useful. For me, my favorite travel and everyday companion is this flexible plastic water bottle. When it's empty, it flattens completely and barely takes any space once rolled or folded. I toss it in my bag and fill 'er up once through security.

9. If packing for college, don't bring your entire wardrobe
I made this mistake. I envy my friends who don't need to check any bags at all because they left enough clothing at home. Take a good look at your closet, and ask yourself which pieces are truly staples and which ones you wouldn't mind switching out between breaks. 

I'd love to learn any of your own packing tricks--drop me a note if there's any way to be even more efficient (and a way for me to look less like a high-maintenance, crazy musician at the check-in lines).

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