Post 500: Welcome back to Blackbyrd

In the fall of 2014 I toured a personal finance magazine’s office in downtown DC. I had actually secured an internship there for a summer but turned it down for another, more-substantial offer closer to home. 

(P.S. I’ve now worked at the company I chose over the magazine for nearly seven years.) 

(P.P.S. I knew close to nothing about personal finance, but I suppose I’m a classically trained journalist who could have figured it out.)

During the tour I couldn’t help but think about what my life there could have been like. The bright office in a beautiful building, the shiny tile floors, the official-looking professionals in their smart, tailored suits. Did I make the right decision? Two summers in a row at the same company — really, Emily? Who would I have met?

But the environment and my daydream isn’t what stood out most to me about the visit. It was the woman who would have been my boss, a notable alumna from my alma mater. It wasn’t how she looked, what she wore, or what she did — it was one tiny thing she said that she probably didn’t think anything of, but it has stuck with me for nearly 10 years. 

Twenty-Year-Old Emily: “What do you do in your free time? Do you ever write for yourself?”

Notable Alumna: “Oh gosh, by the time I get home from work, staring at another computer is the last thing I want to do.”

I was shocked. Imagine me, the self-proclaimed poetic genius five years deep into a personal blog and three years into what essentially was a writing degree, discovering that someone who could be a role model didn’t make time to write for herself outside of work.

I couldn’t imagine it because, at that time, not 24 hours could pass without Emily jotting down a new blog post idea; a young woman’s naive belief that what she has to say really really matters. 

Today, I get it. Today my eyes are tired.

But my fingers have been itching for years with blog posts unwritten and prose unprofessed. I need a creative outlet for my brain beyond the little victories I get at work in-between project planning and PowerPoint deck creation.

I’ve said this before, but this time I really mean it: this is the year I’m bringing my creative writing back. I’ve titled this “The Blog Project,” and my goal is to revisit my roots and practice my writing. (Aka I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF ANYONE READS IT… I think.) I’m reading more than I have since I was a freckled kid lazing away over long stretches of summertime and I’ve written more poetry in the last couple of months than I have in the past four years combined.

So here’s Blackbyrd, a blog started by a 14-year-old in the heat of angst and uncertainty who is now a woman in her late 20s. I’ll be covering topics as a professional millennial plus some just-for-fun musings and projects.

Welcome back.

An 18th Century “rape” and some Johnson

I have a test in my English class at 10 a.m. that I probably should be studying for right now, but I can’t focus. All I know is Achitophel tricks Absalom, the bastard child, into believing he deserves the throne and some sort of rebellion ensues. They’re mad about the Catholic religion invading the monarchy or some shit like that so they rebel. Religion is such a silly thing to argue over.

I know enough about J-Swift and his “modest” proposal, thanks to my ninth-grade Honors English class. And that guy Gulliver? Man, he really put up with a lot of shit with those damn Brobdingnagians. But I can totally relate with his view on beauty and beautiful people; sometimes people and body parts get uglier when you see them up close. Or when makeup is removed from faces. Or when you actually meet someone in person after being fooled by his/her deceptive Facebook photo for weeks. Or months. Or years. Please give Nev Schulman a call if it’s been years. You’re kind of an idiot. 

Don’t even get me started on “The Rape of the Lock.” Belinda completely overreacts to the “rape” of her lock. Life isn’t all that bad, Belinda. It’s just hair, Belinda. I myself look like a boy with my short hair, Belinda. Here’s a link to an article I’ve been referencing this week, Belinda. Chill out and read it.  

Oh, Samuel Johnson, thanks for telling me I am going to make a mark on the world due to my college edumacatedness. It is my understanding that, back in your time, college-educated individuals were rare, hence your sentiment here on college graduates’ success. Now a bachelor’s means about the same as a high school diploma and master’s degrees replace bachelors’. But my life adviser told me yesterday that yes, Emily, you will be applying to graduate schools across the country. Maybe I’ll make my mark on the world after I gain a little more knowledge.

Back to the ever-present beauty contest of life, Johnson goes on in “The Vanity of Human Wishes” to say that, if you have a pretty face, you’re probably dumb as a rock. And the longer you live, the longer you suffer, so don’t wish for the elixir of life. I think 80 seems like a good age to die and I don’t really think I’m dumb as a rock. So what does that mean?

Johnson gained some respect in my book when I skimmed the SparkNotes of  read “The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.” Johnson never attended his tutoring sessions in college. He had far better things to do. I can relate to that. I’ve spent the class period for the aforementioned English class responding to emails and searching for internships. Seemed far more productive to me.

On the plus side, after this exam in approximately eight hours I can stop pretending I’ve been reading that massive Norton Anthology of English Literature all semester. Keeping up a charade is exhausting. So go change your profile picture(s) to one that actually looks like you.

I really don’t quite understand how I related my English work to Catfish, but here’s a pic.

Kitchen decor, sans highchair

I want a bright green kitchen with black-and-white checkered flooring. Laminate’s fine; I’m not trying to break the bank here. Sky blue and lime green dishes will show through the windows of my white, country-style cupboards. My countertops will be poured concrete with flecks of different colored glass shards. I’ll do this by myself, though my brothers may help me.

Mismatched chairs. Check it. [Image courtesy of deerbunny.blogspot.com
Remember the table Monica had in her kitchen in Friends? Same concept here. Mismatched chairs. Mismatched cushions. But my table will be painted white. With a sky blue tabletop. Then a round piece of glass. Again, I’ll do this shit myself.

Because Monica and Chandler moved out to the country when the twins were born, a highchair never joined the apartment’s dinette set. Same concept here.

There will be no highchair. Or at least not until I am good and ready for one.

I’ve lost touch with several people over the years. It’s okay. If I wanted to continue a friendship, I’d call, text or message you every once in awhile. But here and there, I’ll “creep” on someone I haven’t seen in years.

My jaw dropped today.

The girl who was my best friend from kindergarten to third grade is due this week. As in, her baby is due this week. As in, she’s going to be a mother. 

There will be a highchair at her table, wherever that may be, a diaper bag to accompany her purse and a carseat in whatever car she’s driving now.

I hope she and her boyfriend can be together and raise this child as a family. I wish them the best. But shit. We’re the same age. The thought of having a tiny human being in my realm of responsibility is enough to make me panic every month, even if/when I have absolutely nothing to panic about.

I need these crazy college years right now.

I need to get drunk on the weekends and forget about my day-to-day responsibilities and refrain from creating a new one.

I need to figure myself out before procreating.

I need to have my career and my own life.

I need to take care of myself.

I need to actually fall in love.

I need to be ready for a child. Sometimes children really are blessings in disguise, but I’d rather endure Aunt Flo’s visits right now. (Then I get to use The DivaCup –– sorry, had to squeeze this bit of self-promotion in here.)

I don’t need someone holding me back. I’ve had that in the past. I’m done with that. And if I can prevent the the presence of an anchor keeping me down, you’d better believe I’m going to.

Someday I won’t be afraid of pregnancy anymore. Someday I’ll be in love with someone and I’ll be ready.

Right now I just want to be a driven, self-centered college student dreaming of the decor that will someday be in her very own kitchen. Sans highchair.

Because “buoyant” is a cool word

I wrote this post on my friend’s and my shared blog after my first day as a single lady.

I was worried. Scared. Lonely.

It’s been nearly a month.

Uh… it’s been awesome.

No joke. Yes, this is Emily typing. No, I’m not on something right now. I’m serious.

I am finally –– finally –– living the college life. I haven’t left campus to see a boyfriend, I haven’t been home since midterm break. I’m here. I’m going to live.

I flirt with whomever I want. Sometimes it’s reciprocated. Sometimes I get rejected. But I don’t even care. For the first time in five years, I don’t have a crush running my life.

“I’m all out of pick-up lines,” I said bluntly to a guy two weekends ago. So I grabbed his hand and led him to the dance floor. Two other girls intercepted him.

But I didn’t even care. 

I danced with my girlfriends, instead.

I’m happy. Buoyant, even.

I’m doing things for me instead of worrying about someone else.

It’s about damn time.

Back to pre-teen summer days

Did I mention that I’m falling in love with the area?

I can’t wait to buy a knapsack, fill it with my camera(s), phone, poetry journal and a book or two and spend the day on my bike.

It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been able to set out on my bike and actually get somewhere. The “booming” downtown area is about three miles away from where I grew up and my Huffy and I didn’t always want to brave the hills. Heading downtown is easy; it’s coming back up the hill near the prison that burns.

I opted for the local library, instead. With my little black knapsack on my back, I used to cruise down Richardson Hill, ride up Ames Hill and latch my bike onto the rack in front of the local library. Then, laden with books, I’d cruise down Ames and inch up Richardson, little by little. While I’d be breathless at the top, at least I had the day’s catch on my back, ready to be devoured.

Exploring this area reminds me of those carefree, independent summer days during my pre-teens. I seem to have broken the need to constantly require companionship. Sometimes I’d just rather be alone and have adventures on my own.

image

Welcome home

Home doesn’t feel like home anymore.

Sure, the dogs greeted me and Weezie the cat made a few appearances, but it’s not my home.

My childhood bedroom with its lime green, sky blue, raspberry pink and orangey orange walls close me in after branching out too far.

I can’t relate to 13-year-old Emily anymore. She’s the one who picked those colors and the bedding. I’m still very colorful, but I shed experiences every time I walk through the doorway. I’m back to the beginning, making the glow-in-the-dark flowers on the ceiling into triangles of Mickey Mouse’s nose and ears. My drawers are full of abandoned poetry books, cellphones and hair accessories. My bedroom door took a beating during my “nobody understands me!”, braces-clad phase. Returning is a bit debilitating and a hit to my morale.

I’m so happy with where I am now.

It’s a new place I am making my own. I’m discovering the area’s quirks, little by little. Thirteen-year-old, metal-mouthed Emily used to gaze in wonder as her oldest brother, Jordan, showed the family around the Chautauqua Institution, an area unbeknownst to us. Now 19-year-old Emily is doing what Jordan did.

I run and check out the neighborhoods. I brought my bike back with me from home this past weekend and discovered a really neat park tonight where I plan to spend a lot of my summer. And you just can’t beat the main, bustling street full of family-owned shops and boutiques. I find something new every time I walk/run/bike down it.

I’m secure with being alone and doing things for me. Running for me. Biking for me. Finding new nooks and new swingsets to swing the evenings away on.

And then watching the sun set every night:

image

It’s time

Some things take precedence over others.

For example, take my history class from this past semester. If it’s a requirement, chances are I don’t want to take the class (especially if it doesn’t apply to either of my majors). So, instead of paying attention, I sat in class with my laptop open, updating my cover letter(s) and redesigning my résumé. I still managed an A-. Landing a good internship for the summer meant more to me than getting an A.

This post is much like the one from a month ago regarding the end of my sophomore year, and yet it’s totally different. This time I’m on the edge of my childhood. While I haven’t acted or been treated like a child since maybe 15(?), this truly is it. It’s over.

It’s a pretty safe bet I won’t ever really live in this house ever again. A suitcase will replace the closet I used to pull outfits from.

And I think I’m ready.

These past few homework-free weeks have been good for me. I’ve lazed around, slept in, read and cooked a meal or two. But these carefree days can’t last. My days of rolling out of bed at noon and sipping coffee on the porch have met their end.

It’s time to get busy. It’s time to build my career and make connections. It’s time to utilize the degree I’m in the midst of earning.

I’m ready.

A haven for the go, go, goer

But, wait –– didn’t I just write this post?

With one more exam to go, I’m sitting on the edge of my sophomore year. Tomorrow, Dad comes and hauls all of my belongings away, leaving me to brave senior week with my friends. I’m not sad that the year’s over, I’m merely shocked at the speed with which it came and went.

My dorm room shows a year of use. Picture collage on the wall, inspiring quotations to help me get out of bed in the morning, the clutter of a college student who is always go, go, going.

I spent the first weekend here bedridden and unable to stand up after a cross country meet literally knocked me over. From there, I chose to be bedridden on the weekends, placing an empty garbage can beside my bed should I feel, erm, nauseous in the morning.

I opened my door on my birthday to find cards on the floor and the walls practically covered with sticky notes, most of them containing messages of love from Robby. Those have since been peeled off the walls, but it’s something I’ll never forget. The women’s cross country team serenaded me that night and couldn’t wait to see all of the clothes my mother and I had purchased while on our weekend escapade to Erie for birthday clothes shopping. I just recently took down the “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” banner Robby had hung from the ceiling; it remained an essential part of this room for nearly two semesters.

I’ve cried in this room, stressed in this room and felt the touch of friends in this room. It’s a white box painted with my memories and experiences. Because it is such a cozy little nook, I can’t help but feel extreme comfort every time I cross the threshold. After my intense set of summer internship interviews, I returned to campus, entered my room and promptly curled up in the fetal position on my bed.

I’ve spent the entirety of this semester exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally. It took months for me to feel like myself walking around campus following the break up and my resignation from the cross country team. I could feel my former teammates’ stares as I went about living my life and knew my decision left them with a hot topic to discuss (not to mention the rumors they started). It took new friendships and relationships to help me get back on my feet.

At the store I worked in off campus all semester, I met some of the nicest people. I expanded my network, put myself out there and saw outgoing Emily show her face more often than she had in months. I worked over 20 hours a week, did my homework and still found time to hang out with friends, new and old. The weekends brought time for Emily to finally relax, though she often woke up with an empty garbage can beside her bed, just in case.

This year hasn’t been easy, but this room has always felt like a safe haven to me. I’m sad to let it go, even though I’m onto bigger and better things. Next year I’ll just have to spice up my room again to make it cozy. The best part about next year is the friends I’ll be living with whom I will be able to call my home.

2.5 months later…

I’m still upside down. But I’m on top of the world.

On the very first day of 2013, I sat at our antique kitchen table across from my brother Adam. MacBook Pros out, Grouplove playing, coffee in hand(s). He surfed the web for music while I began my summer internship search.

With help from my oldest brother’s best friend, I built a list of at least 10 internships I planned to apply for. My criteria: close to home, communications-related, paid.

I redesigned my résumé. Had people proofread and edit it. Redesigned it again.

I designed and printed my own unique business cards. I put together the pieces I wanted to include in my mini portfolios to send out with each application. I redesigned and uploaded new pieces to my professional portfolio blog in preparation for new viewers.

It all paid off.

I have now been interviewed this semester too many times to count.

Currently, it seems I have three potential internships on the table in front of me. Pros for one pull me one way, the cons, the other way. And not one of them is very close to home.

My goal this summer was to merely have an internship. Needless to say, I never saw this coming.

Wish me luck.

Dress your best for success

“Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” my mom has drilled into my head.

It applies in everyone’s daily life; not just the working man or woman’s.

I am a student right now. It could be considered my “job,” I guess. But it’s not the one I want, per se. College is the staircase leading to where I’m going. I want to graduate and immediately find a job. Preferably one with respectable pay. (A girl can dream, right?)

Photo on 12-7-11 at 10.26 AM
Bright colors are definitely my style.

My clothing reflects my attitude. I try to mix in cute skirts, cardigans, dresses and boots for a young, professional look. Though I hated tights when my mother made me wear them to Sunday School, I love them now. They cozy up my legs during the colder months in Western New York. Heels are saved for days when I don’t feel the best; they give me a different pain to focus on.

I receive a lot of compliments on my outfits. And, let’s admit it, receiving a compliment makes everyone feel good. Wearing nice-looking clothing on days when you feel down is guaranteed to make you feel better. Countless compliments will help you keep your chin up. Tucking your sweatpants into your Uggs just doesn’t have the same effect.

I save the yoga pants and tee shirts for hungover Saturday mornings and Sundays full of homework. Those situations call for comfort. Attending classes calls for one to have some class. I like to make a good impression to professors, especially those I have never met before. Everyone should. We are all paying a lot of money to sit in those classrooms – might as well do it right.

There isn’t a dress code where my mom works. Still, she gets up every morning and showers, dabs on makeup, does her hair and pulls on a nice pantsuit, or a cute skirt and cardigan.

There isn’t a dress code at school, but I like to pretend there is. I’m dressing for the job I want.