Saturday, December 21, 2013

Me, myself, and I

I am struggling. 
I am really honestly struggling most of the time. 

When I say that I'm struggling, I don't mean that I'm failing. I mean that I have kept myself just above water all on my own with no fall back plan.

I am going to MIT on scholarships and my part time work. I don't have a fall back. I couldn't transfer out of an engineering degree without losing my scholarships. I can't get a lower GPA or I will lose my scholarship. There is no one to pay my student contribution. If I lose my job, I don't have a relative to give me one. If I don't pay my bills, it's my credit on the line not a family member's. I don't have any such family members. Even my FAFSA recognizes - I am an independent; it's just me.

There is really just me. 

I am doing the best I can with the resources I have.

I have by all accounts done exceptionally well. Something like 50% of foster care alumni haven't completed a high school education and something like 15% end up in prison. 66% will be homeless, go to jail, or die within a year of leaving the foster care system at 18. Foster care alumni have higher rates of depressive episodes than the general population. Suicide rates for teens is about 7%.

I have completed high school and am working towards a degree at MIT. I haven't self harmed in almost a year. I have a plan of action for my depressive episodes that involves a stable clinician.
  
But when I look to other students at MIT, I see kids with very different resources. A lot of kids here have parents with PhDs. Some of the parents can help their kids with their work. Most of the kids here are not first generation; a good college has been expected of them since always. They go home to their mother and father knowing that they are safe and loved, unconditionally. They can email their psets to their parents and expect the questions to be understood and maybe even some guidance in answering them.

I don't have any of that. I don't have the financial security of college educated family. I don't have the educational support of STEM educated parents. I don't have the emotional security of being able to go home to my bio family.

This isn't meant to be a source of pity. I don't spend my time sitting around feeling sorry for myself. If I did I wouldn't be where I am. But I do need to deal with this reality. Because of the tendency to 'curve' class grades,
I simply mean to acknowledge that this responsibility is on my shoulders.

This is the reality I have been dealing with since I was 14.

I have learned how to deal with things to keep myself safe and head above water.

But I would like to have my grades from MIT show my skill. Not just my managing to survive skill. But my actual skill, when I am at the same place of safety as the other students.


Me, myself, and I

I am struggling. 
I am really honestly struggling most of the time. 

When I say that I'm struggling, I don't mean that I'm failing. I mean that I have kept myself just above water all on my own with no fall back plan.

I am going to MIT on scholarships and my part time work. I don't have a fall back. I couldn't transfer out of an engineering degree without losing my scholarships. I can't get a lower GPA or I will lose my scholarship. There is no one to pay my student contribution. If I lose my job, I don't have a relative to give me one. If I don't pay my bills, it's my credit on the line not a family member's. I don't have any such family members. Even my FAFSA recognizes - I am an independent; it's just me.

There is really just me. 

I am doing the best I can with the resources I have.

I have by all accounts done exceptionally well. Something like 50% of foster care alumni haven't completed a high school education and something like 15% end up in prison. 66% will be homeless, go to jail, or die within a year of leaving the foster care system at 18. Foster care alumni have higher rates of depressive episodes than the general population. Suicide rates for teens is about 7%.

I have completed high school and am working towards a degree at MIT. I haven't self harmed in almost a year. I have a plan of action for my depressive episodes that involves a stable clinician.
  
But when I look to other students at MIT, I see kids with very different resources. A lot of kids here have parents with PhDs. Some of the parents can help their kids with their work. Most of the kids here are not first generation; a good college has been expected of them since always. They go home to their mother and father knowing that they are safe and loved, unconditionally. They can email their psets to their parents and expect the questions to be understood and maybe even some guidance in answering them.

I don't have any of that. I don't have the financial security of college educated family. I don't have the educational support of STEM educated parents. I don't have the emotional security of being able to go home to my bio family.

This isn't meant to be a source of pity. I don't spend my time sitting around feeling sorry for myself. If I did I wouldn't be where I am. But I do need to deal with this reality. Because of the tendency to 'curve' class grades,
I simply mean to acknowledge that this responsibility is on my shoulders.

This is the reality I have been dealing with since I was 14.

I have learned how to deal with things to keep myself safe and head above water.

But I would like to have my grades from MIT show my skill. Not just my managing to survive skill. But my actual skill, when I am at the same place of safety as the other students.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Ah, I'm packing up for my trip home for Thanksgiving. Please take a little time to show gratitude to those you care for and especially to yourself as the busy holiday season goes into full swing!

Happy Thanksgiving

Ah, I'm packing up for my trip home for Thanksgiving. Please take a little time to show gratitude to those you care for and especially to yourself as the busy holiday season goes into full swing!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Affirmation of Sadness

While we may not need to cry that often, I think a lot of us struggle to let the tears flow. But it's really important to have a good cry when you feel the need to.

Sometimes when we cry, we feel weak or guilty for expressing out emotions. For women, it can be seen as a long expected sign of weakness to cry in the wrong setting. Men are often discouraged from expressing their emotions so tears can be a scary prospect. But all of us have emotions, no matter how strong of a front we put forward.

Here's a set of affirmations that I have been giving myself when I feel the need to cry. I hope that they help you or can serve as a resource for times of trouble. Please always keep in mind that things can get better and there are resources for help.





  • It's okay to be scared to cry. Strong emotions can be scary and unfamiliar, but these emotions are part of you. What's really scary is trying to keep these emotions back where they can fester. 

  • There's no reason not to cry. It doesn't matter if someone hears you. It doesn't matter if other people don't need to cry. It doesn't matter if the reason you're crying is small. Think about how many tears were shed over the Titanic: if you feel the need to cry, surely your emotional health is just as worthy as a silly movie.

  • You deserve the right to be sad. 
  • You deserve the space to cry.
  • You deserve the time to feel emotions, good and bad.

  • Confronting your emotions is a necessary part of moving forward. There's no way to have emotions go away without dealing with them. 

  • Crying because you are frustrated, sad, or angry is all valid. There are many reasons why people cry. Whatever your reason it is valid. 
And finally...
  • Tomorrow will be better.

Affirmation of Sadness

While we may not need to cry that often, I think a lot of us struggle to let the tears flow. But it's really important to have a good cry when you feel the need to.

Sometimes when we cry, we feel weak or guilty for expressing out emotions. For women, it can be seen as a long expected sign of weakness to cry in the wrong setting. Men are often discouraged from expressing their emotions so tears can be a scary prospect. But all of us have emotions, no matter how strong of a front we put forward.

Here's a set of affirmations that I have been giving myself when I feel the need to cry. I hope that they help you or can serve as a resource for times of trouble. Please always keep in mind that things can get better and there are resources for help.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Check in: Jumbled Thoughts

Periodically I find that I have to check in with myself and my values.

I was talking with a floor mate and she insisted that we have to 'prioritize' things. By this she meant that some values and truths that we find to be important we have to set aside, ignore the injustice of breaking them and the harm that this ignorance causes. She said that you had to 'pick your battles,' that you couldn't do everything.

Insistently, I said that we could do everything, that there was no cause so trivial to be put aside. I found her statements repugnant: It's an impossible and disrespectful task to determine which life is more worthy of your time. Lifestyles are inherently political; all aspects of a lifestyle should be aligned with the individual's moral views. While resources may be limited, ingenuity is not. If your morals do not apply to your actions, you do not actually believe your morals. I tried to explain how I structured my life in alignment with this belief.

In some places I could clearly articulate what I meant: I changed majors from something that was based in military applications (mechanical engineering) to one that was not only harmless but an important part of conserving the world's culture (art conservation). Even my achievement and choice of university was a political statement: a raised-poor biracial woman can go to MIT to pursue a degree in engineering.  I could also explain how I choose to purchase products that are generally organic and/or fair trade. I could even point to the fact that I was engaging in this conversation and the risk I have faced in spreading my beliefs.

However in other places, I found myself struggling to find the bright line between my intent and my effect. While I don't believe that individual choices within capitalism are a means of changing our larger social structure, I find that it is irresponsible to ignore the meaning in small changes of purchasing and responsibility. For example, I don't think that my recycling is going to fix America's lack of sustainability. On the other hand, I can't point to any direct action I've taken to change America's policies outside of my own awareness and the individual conversations I've had. Pointing to the resources available, I can say how much fair trade food I can afford to seek out and buy. But I cannot find a way to choose which products to purchase, which to 'prioritize.'



Always, articulating your values to another person is a valuable experience because it forces you to confront contradictions and vacancies. Because of this conversation, I came to a better understanding of what I want and what I am doing. Basically I know that I'm not causing harm but I am not actually making progress towards my beliefs being adopted by others or helping others.

I want to find out how I can better bring my daily actions in line with my values. In particular, I've increasingly been focused on how to turn my feminism into practice. What does 'solidarity with women' mean? I live on a women's floor. I choose to write my papers on women's contributions with women authors. I read and think about women's issues. But what does this mean in daily practice?

I would love to hear how others balance this or put their beliefs into practice. I think this is something that will take a long time for me to fully achieve, but I do want to begin working towards the goals I see for myself and the world. If I can speak about change, I must also act as I speak.





Check in: Jumbled Thoughts

Periodically I find that I have to check in with myself and my values.

I was talking with a floor mate and she insisted that we have to 'prioritize' things. By this she meant that some values and truths that we find to be important we have to set aside, ignore the injustice of breaking them and the harm that this ignorance causes. She said that you had to 'pick your battles,' that you couldn't do everything.

Insistently, I said that we could do everything, that there was no cause so trivial to be put aside. I found her statements repugnant: It's an impossible and disrespectful task to determine which life is more worthy of your time. Lifestyles are inherently political; all aspects of a lifestyle should be aligned with the individual's moral views. While resources may be limited, ingenuity is not. If your morals do not apply to your actions, you do not actually believe your morals. I tried to explain how I structured my life in alignment with this belief.

In some places I could clearly articulate what I meant: I changed majors from something that was based in military applications (mechanical engineering) to one that was not only harmless but an important part of conserving the world's culture (art conservation). Even my achievement and choice of university was a political statement: a raised-poor biracial woman can go to MIT to pursue a degree in engineering.  I could also explain how I choose to purchase products that are generally organic and/or fair trade. I could even point to the fact that I was engaging in this conversation and the risk I have faced in spreading my beliefs.

However in other places, I found myself struggling to find the bright line between my intent and my effect. While I don't believe that individual choices within capitalism are a means of changing our larger social structure, I find that it is irresponsible to ignore the meaning in small changes of purchasing and responsibility. For example, I don't think that my recycling is going to fix America's lack of sustainability. On the other hand, I can't point to any direct action I've taken to change America's policies outside of my own awareness and the individual conversations I've had. Pointing to the resources available, I can say how much fair trade food I can afford to seek out and buy. But I cannot find a way to choose which products to purchase, which to 'prioritize.'



Always, articulating your values to another person is a valuable experience because it forces you to confront contradictions and vacancies. Because of this conversation, I came to a better understanding of what I want and what I am doing. Basically I know that I'm not causing harm but I am not actually making progress towards my beliefs being adopted by others or helping others.

I want to find out how I can better bring my daily actions in line with my values. In particular, I've increasingly been focused on how to turn my feminism into practice. What does 'solidarity with women' mean? I live on a women's floor. I choose to write my papers on women's contributions with women authors. I read and think about women's issues. But what does this mean in daily practice?

I would love to hear how others balance this or put their beliefs into practice. I think this is something that will take a long time for me to fully achieve, but I do want to begin working towards the goals I see for myself and the world. If I can speak about change, I must also act as I speak.





Saturday, November 16, 2013

Advice for Dorm Politics

College dorms are a bit like little countries. Each dorm has its own stereotype and its internal politics, not always related. Different floors in the same dorm have different cultures; some groups may be in tensions with one another. Dorms may have celebrities: the people the gossip is about or the people everyone knows. Maybe even the people everyone dislikes.

All of these tensions and quirks come to a head in dorm politics. When you get involved in dorm politics, you're stepping forward for responsibility and discussion.


Read more for advice on entering dorm politics.


Popularity


It's sad to say, but things don't change that much since high school at least for dorm politics and elections. Popularity can be a major part of who 'succeeds' in dorm politics. 

Different floors have different popularities as do different residents. Some residents are known to be friendly to all floors and are loved while other residents may never be seen outside of their room. These different reputations can affect voting as can floor reputations. If your floor is known to be the 'fun social floor' you may have and advantage over a resident who lives on the 'quiet study floor' for a position that typically goes to outgoing people. 

Also keep in mind that different floors may have popularity and legacies for positions. Sometimes a inter-dorm position is always filled by a person from a particular sorority. 

Please don't be discouraged if you want to get involved. There is a lot that goes in and most dorm leadership delegates to people. If you goals is to help rather than hold a position, you're sure to be able to find a cause to help with. 

Mob Mentality Happens


Try to remember that dorm politics draws out the worst in people. Individuals that are perfectly fine may turn into horrors when in a group. Group dynamics turn into mob mentality. A dorm is what some people consider a home; most people have strong opinions about where they're living. When people start e-mailing large groups of people, things can quickly get out of hand. Some people are looking for drama or a distraction from their own work. Whatever the case is, take a step back from the drama. If you want to or feel comfortable doing so, talk to a few people one on one, in a quiet relaxed place.


  • Be very careful of dorm politics close to exams. People are stressed and may react much more strongly and negatively when they're stressed. Others may use dorm politics as a distraction from their exams. Tensions are always high so try to plan cushion time around exams.


Change


People dislike change. Even good change can cause negative reactions. Don't take this personally. It has nothing to do with you. It may not even have anything to do with the change that you are proposing.

Ask people to do you a favor, to try out the change. Let them know that they can go back to the traditional. If you can, offer a celebration - free smoothies, small snacks, dinner for those who offer opinions- to welcome the change, and discuss to improve it. Not to mention that the best way to cut down discontent after a change is to point out that no one spoke out when initiating the change.

Morals


Do what you think is right. This is the most important. You're not the president of the US; you are still you. Even if it means that you lose your position for a term, do what you think is right. In the long term, it means a lot more to you, to your friends, and to the dorm.

In my experience, the thing that really sticks with you is whether you did the right thing. While hurtful words can be painful in the moment, the thing that gave me strength was that I was doing good for people. Time usually ends up proving you right.

For example, I was really adamant about making sure people submitted their presidential application early on. I brought up in discussion with the dorm the problem we had of claiming to be inclusive but really not doing anything to fix the divisive issues between floors. A person stepped forward to be president late in the game; I questioned if we should let their application be put to a vote since they hadn't demonstrated any interest in the position aside from claiming to be inclusive without a plan of action. People really criticized me especially after this person won the election; I had a hard time of it and was less welcome on the floor this person was a part of. But I knew that expressing my concern for the dorm was the right thing to do. When the going got tough, the president huffily resigned. In the end, I was right. It didn't make me happy to be right.

What did make me glad was that I had done the right thing and weathered the storm that went with it. Because I had spoken up, other people and I were prepared to step in and help the dorm as we transitioned between presidents mid-term.

Confrontations


The best way to avoid confrontation is to leave room for face-to-face conversation. This might sound counter intuitive, but it's very empirically true. People are much nastier when they don't have to see the face of the person that they are talking about.

Sending out an email with the intent for it to stay under the radar only encourages a flame war.

Set up a meeting time that's a little removed from the blow up: give them time to cool down and give yourself time to think about what you want to say.


  • What do you see as the problem?
  • What do they see as the problem?
  • Are these problems compatible?
  • What are the resources available for this?
  • How can you help people who are having this problem?
  • Why did you feel the need to speak up?
  • Where is the other person coming from?





Advice for Dorm Politics

College dorms are a bit like little countries. Each dorm has its own stereotype and its internal politics, not always related. Different floors in the same dorm have different cultures; some groups may be in tensions with one another. Dorms may have celebrities: the people the gossip is about or the people everyone knows. Maybe even the people everyone dislikes.

All of these tensions and quirks come to a head in dorm politics. When you get involved in dorm politics, you're stepping forward for responsibility and discussion.


Read more for advice on entering dorm politics.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Storing food and 3 Ways to Stop Pests


Air tight containers are a must for storing food in college kitchens and dorms. Without airtight containers, your food will let out odors, attracting pests for the whole floor. More than that if you have food in your room, there's no need for rodent room mates.



Air tight containers will also extend the shelf life of your food. Some containers are expensive, but they're worth the investment. More than that, losing all of my food to a moth infestation has given me great faith in air tight containers. Trust me, you know you're in college if tupperware for Christmas is the best gift.

Read more for advice on airtight containers!



Invest in Materials: thick plastic or glass


Thick plastic or thick glass is a must for airtight containers. This will be a little bit pricier than cheap plastic or bags.

Ziplock bags will not cut it. If you absolutely can't afford more expensive effective containers, triple bag your unopened store packaging. This isn't a 100% guarantee but it will keep most things out while minimizing the smell.

Paper, cardboard and thin plastic can all be chewed through. The store packaging will not be enough to keep pests out.

Make sure that there is an air tight seal.


Canning Jar Set of Six ($9 via amazon)

Canning jars are great. The glass I think is really gorgeous. I use these for small snacks.


Amazon, Rubbermaid 50 piece storage set ($34)

This rubbermaid set is what I have. I have used sharpies to put my name on them along with dishwasher safe labels ($10 via amazon).

The diversity of sizes is pretty great. My only complaint is that there are so many of the tiny 'sauce' tupperware. Otherwise I think it's great; I never feel like I'm out of tupperware.



Amazon, OXO Good Grip 5 piece storage set ($50)

oh my gosh, these are amazing. So I have to confess that I didn't buy them myself. They were a Christmas gift. And what a gift! They're pricey but really worth it. The seal on these is just great. I love the top 'button' that seals them.

The only complaint is that they are not dishwasher safe. But since I generally use them for cereals and rice, I never feel the need to wash them that often. 

Method: How to get rid of pests

     1. The moment you purchase something, place it into an air tight container. The longer the product is left out, the longer pests have to get in.


     2. To get rid of pests, place the grain in the freezer for 4-5 days. This cold spell will kill any pests already in the grains. Don't skimp on the time or the pests will just hibernate rather than dying. I only bother to do this for large purchases, but this works for all sizes of grains.


     3. After the freeze, place the grains into a clean airtight container, safe in your cabinet.


I'd suggest using Expo dry erase markers or post it notes to label when you purchased the food. You can use these dishwasher safe labels ($10 via amazon) and then just write the date with a dry erase marker.




Storing food and 3 Ways to Stop Pests


Air tight containers are a must for storing food in college kitchens and dorms. Without airtight containers, your food will let out odors, attracting pests for the whole floor. More than that if you have food in your room, there's no need for rodent room mates.



Air tight containers will also extend the shelf life of your food. Some containers are expensive, but they're worth the investment. More than that, losing all of my food to a moth infestation has given me great faith in air tight containers. Trust me, you know you're in college if tupperware for Christmas is the best gift.

Read more for advice on airtight containers!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Recharge and Refocus

I took a few days off of blogging to recharge. Life seems to get more and more daunting as I move forward. But there are also a few amazing changes that I want to share.

The first is that I think I'm going to move out of my dorm. While the people on my floor are lovely, I find the dorm culture to be a bit toxic and too transitory for my taste. This is something that I've been looking forward to as an abstract thought for a while, but it's much closer to becoming a reality than ever before.

The second is that I'm trying to make a monetary commitment to myself. I have enough things lying around, not all of them being used, that I don't need to buy anymore. I want to make sure that I'm financially stable as I move out and that I start saving money the way I really should be.

Finally, I want to do the things that I set out to do over the summer. I want to draw twice a week. I want to read all the books I've purchased. I want to go back to writing letter. I've been dealing with difficulty and stress. In general, I really just lost sight of what I'm doing and who I am because I was too caught up in the stress of the moment and the difficulty of the moment. I want to get back in touch with the ideal me that I was working to be, rather than the miasmic discouraged me.


Recharge and Refocus

I took a few days off of blogging to recharge. Life seems to get more and more daunting as I move forward. But there are also a few amazing changes that I want to share.

The first is that I think I'm going to move out of my dorm. While the people on my floor are lovely, I find the dorm culture to be a bit toxic and too transitory for my taste. This is something that I've been looking forward to as an abstract thought for a while, but it's much closer to becoming a reality than ever before.

The second is that I'm trying to make a monetary commitment to myself. I have enough things lying around, not all of them being used, that I don't need to buy anymore. I want to make sure that I'm financially stable as I move out and that I start saving money the way I really should be.

Finally, I want to do the things that I set out to do over the summer. I want to draw twice a week. I want to read all the books I've purchased. I want to go back to writing letter. I've been dealing with difficulty and stress. In general, I really just lost sight of what I'm doing and who I am because I was too caught up in the stress of the moment and the difficulty of the moment. I want to get back in touch with the ideal me that I was working to be, rather than the miasmic discouraged me.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Positive Change> Average: TED talk

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Please check out this exciting and hilarious talk. Achor has a great sense of humor and that makes his material so exciting to listen to.

"Amy amy wait. Don't cry. No human lands on all fours like that. Amy, I think that means you're a unicorn!"








Positive Change> Average: TED talk

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Please check out this exciting and hilarious talk. Achor has a great sense of humor and that makes his material so exciting to listen to.

"Amy amy wait. Don't cry. No human lands on all fours like that. Amy, I think that means you're a unicorn!"








Saturday, October 26, 2013

Loving your dorm room

Make your room the way you want it to be. I often struggle to get everything together, cleaning painting and decorating and organizing. It sounds like so much to do! But here's a little motivation for us to love our rooms the way we want to.


Read more to get a pep talk for making your room the way you want.





This might seem obvious but your room should be a place that you enjoy being: a place for you to recharge and focus yourself. Do what it takes to make the room worth living in. You may have a lot of limitations on what you can change or how much money you can spend, but there are all sorts of amazing DIY projects that you can try.


  • Make a list of your 10 favorite things about your room and 5 things you want to change


A lot of people will tell you what your dorm room should be like. Some will tell you it should be empty; others will tell you to cram in all of your belongings.  A lot of people will say that it's not worth the effort to decorate; a few will describe their parent's efforts to arrange their room. I'm not going to tell you what your room should be like. Please tell - or better yet show- me what you want your room to be like, what functions you want to do in your room.


  • Make a Pintrest for cool dorm rooms and DIY projects

Make sure that your room serves the function you want it to. Arrange the furniture the way you like it. If you don't want to study in your room, go to the library to study.
If you want a decked out stereo system, set it up!


  • Clean your room and get add photos of your top 10 to Pintrest

Whatever you want your room to be, it can be. It's just up to you to make it happen. So go and do it!


  • As you look at how great your room is, start working on your DIY projects! 
  • YOU CAN DO IT!




Loving your dorm room

Make your room the way you want it to be. I often struggle to get everything together, cleaning painting and decorating and organizing. It sounds like so much to do! But here's a little motivation for us to love our rooms the way we want to.


Read more to get a pep talk for making your room the way you want.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

College Dorm: Dresser Top

Your dresser is something that you look at the start and end of your day. It's the bookend to your routine: Decorate and design it according to how you want to fill your day. In this post, I'll share how I design my dresser top.



Read more to develop your own dresser top






Flowers


I've written before about Fresh Plants and Flowers. I love to have a little bit of spring time always here with me; I also suggest having fresh growing plants on your dresser. They will clear out the air for your healthy breathing.

Jewelry and Organization




A beautiful jewelry box is more than just a way to store your pretty necklaces: It's a piece of decoration for you. Don't be shy to have more than one box. Play with the different designs that you love.

  • The back black jewelry box is initialed for my first name. I love how the mirrors make the dresser seem larger, reflecting sunlight in the morning. It stores my medications and large bracelets.

  • The golden jewelry box was part of a gift exchange; it was a vintage purchase from Etsy. I use it to store my hair barrettes. 

  • The white jewelry box was also a gift. It is great for organization so it stores most of my jewelry. I love the two level tray that it has.

Try browsing through Etsy to find a jewelry box that suits your needs and budget.

Decoration with Functionality



Of course you need some things that are just cute and gorgeous for their won sake. Sometimes you can incorporate functionality. Other times you just have to embrace decadence for its own sake. 

I love these little glass bunnies! They are so cute and they can hold my rings. I picked them up at Forever 21. I didn't really need them since I don't have many rings, but so cute I couldn't resist.





If you loved the bunny, don't think I've left you without. ModCloth carries a similar bunny ring holder; this one is mirrored rather than glossed glass.



This ring holder also caught my eye. Do you think I should get it? Are any of you tempted by it?


College Dorm: Dresser Top

Your dresser is something that you look at the start and end of your day. It's the bookend to your routine: Decorate and design it according to how you want to fill your day. In this post, I'll share how I design my dresser top.



Read more to develop your own dresser top

Monday, October 21, 2013

College Dorm Advice Part 3: How to Make and Maintain Your Bed


You have your closet set up and you have all your furniture.

If you checked out part one, you have your supplies for your bed. If not, run out and get them. Here's your list; I'll be waiting. Chat with your roommate to pick out some colors, then find a nice Target and have fun shopping. Make sure to get a design that you like!

The Basic List


  • Foam Mattress Pad
  • Pillows
  • Pillow Covers
  • Fitted Twin Extra Long Sheets
  • Bed Risers
  • Bed Comforter

Read more for more details and extra advice on what to buy from this list along with how to maintain your bed.



Bed Comforter

Here are a few different bed comforters that I like, with good reviews. Remember that there is no difference between twin and twin extra long in comforters. Just comforters though. So get whatever style you like! Bright colors will liven up your room. Light colors like white will make your bed and room look bigger; dark colors will make the bed seem neater and smaller.


  • Do be careful that the comforter can be cleaned with a washer
  • Make sure that the comforter will match what your roommate has
  • Be careful that the pattern will be good to sleep on










Twin Extra Long Sheets

Size matters here! Twin sheets will not fit on your dorm bed if it is extra long! 
Check your dorm's webpage to see what size the bed is; most likely it is twin extra long but you should make 100% sure before purchasing.

  • Get soft and comfortable ones
  • Plain white sheets will be easy to bleach and wash clean
  • Be careful of any skin allergies
  • Cotton sheets will be easy to wash and dry
  • Satin will gain you mockery but also soft skin

If you are getting a mattress pad, I would suggest getting two fitted sheets. I find that the two fitted sheets will keep the mattress pad from falling off.

Pillow Cases

Silk pillow cases are not just for the James Bond wanna-be. Silk pillow cases are really good for your hair and can even help will allergies.




Of course all other pillow cases are great.

  • Wash pillow cases every week!
  • Have an extra set for busy weeks
  • Be careful of fabric softener for cases; they can give you acne
  • Fragrance free detergent and air drying will best serve your pillowcases


Pillow

Now what to put in that lovely pillow case? This is something you might want to talk to your parents about: ask them what type of pillows you've been sleeping on your whole life. Likely, you don't know right now but would notice and dislike any major change. Try the pillows out in store to see what feels right to you. 

Read more about choosing the right pillow for you. Sleep for all is a really great site with some great advice.

If you want to try a little adventure, check out this buckwheat pillow. I'm thinking of getting one next semester. What do you guys think?


Organic Buckwheat Pillow ($35 via Amazon)

Foam Mattress Pad

This is where it gets serious. This could possibly be the most expensive part of your bed furnishings.

Mattress pads come in different qualities and different price ranges.

Consider what you need for your back:


  • Do you prefer a hard or soft bed?
  • What level of support do you need?
  • Do you have any back injuries?





Soft Mattress Pad ($45 via Amazon)

This is a low cost soft mattress pad. If you want to sleep in a soft pillow, then this would be a good match for you. The price is low which mean you may have to replace after a year or two.



Sleep Innovations 2-Inch Memory Foam ($66 via Amazon)

As you can see, we are starting to go up in the price range. This mattress pad is 2" of memory foam; this isn't enough for full firm support but will not be super soft. The reviews are very good.



3.0" Sleep Studio Visco2 Ventilated Mattress Enhancer ($88 via Amazon)

Getting a bit pricier, this mattress topper provides more support. As a memory foam it will have a bit of initial give, but will support you very well. Already you can see the difference from the cheaper foam: it is thicker and has ventilation for better support and circulation. Reviews for this were very good, lots of "I can't get out of bed!" comments.

This mattress topper does not come with a fabric cover and some have noticed a persistence of the "mattress foam smell."


3 Inch Thick, 4 Pound Density Visco Elastic Memory Foam ($120 via Amazon)

This one right here is my dream mattress pad. I'm seriously considering getting this for next semester and will review if I do.

On the high end of college mattress pads, this mattress is just shy of the sort of mattress pad recommended for people with back pain. The memory foam is just perfect; reviews refer to it as a cloud with support and best purchase. Amazingly positive reviews, especially considering the low cost and free shipping.

Spring and Winter Bedding

If you can, invest in blankets for the winter and spring, especially if you are in a place like Boston. Our winters fall to the teens, with tons of snow and ice, while the sweltering summers get up to the 90s. Most of MIT's dorms don't have air conditioning. We do have central heating, but different rooms end up with different temperatures based on windows and their location on the building. So my bedding can keep me from being frozen or from sweating, year round.

Having bedding appropriate to the season is really important. 110% worth the investment.



Pinzon Signature Zero-Twist Egyptian Cotton Blanket ($70 via Amazon)

A good spring blanket or for watching movies in common couches. Egyptian cotton has good breathability, which is a must for spring dorm rooms that don't have air conditioning.



Faux Fur Burgundy Microfiber Reversible Winter Blankets ($40 via Amazon)

One of my floor mates has this winter blanket and I envy her for it. It's so warm and comfy for the winter; it feel like a big hug from a teddy bear.



Northpoint Sapphire Sherpa Blanket ($45 via Amazon)

This is a good approximate for what I have; I adore this style of blanket for the winter in Boston. If it works up here in the north, you know it's good!

Because this blanket doesn't have as much fluffy fur to it, this blanket is a little thinner than the one above, but offers the same degree of warmth. So if storage is an issue, this will keep you warm while saving space.



College Dorm Advice Part 3: How to Make and Maintain Your Bed


You have your closet set up and you have all your furniture.

If you checked out part one, you have your supplies for your bed. If not, run out and get them. Here's your list; I'll be waiting. Chat with your roommate to pick out some colors, then find a nice Target and have fun shopping. Make sure to get a design that you like!

The Basic List


  • Foam Mattress Pad
  • Pillows
  • Pillow Covers
  • Fitted Twin Extra Long Sheets
  • Bed Risers
  • Bed Comforter

Read more for more details and extra advice on what to buy from this list along with how to maintain your bed.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Finding inspiration for creativity: 5 ways



Here are a few ways that I find inspiration, especially for things like drawing and writing.





1) Collect cool things


I use tumblr to collect cool images to draw over at my art blog, ichoosetorefuse. All the images there fall within a certain aesthetic so when I need to get into that mood, I just head there to immerse myself. From there, it's a simple matter of finding the right image that clicks. I also keep clippings of my favorite magazines and articles.

You can use pintrest, flicker, or any other site to collect your cool things. Do try to sort those things as you gather them.

2) Find a inspirational place


Walking through the city on your way to work, you spot a bench in a park that you've never sat down in before. Take the time later that week to sit in the bench- or whatever places are calling out to you.

The places that offer me the most inspiration are:

  • independent cafes (tea preferred)
  • sections of museums with pretty portraits
  • benches next to flower shops
  • busy diner counters
  • off rush hour train cars
You'll probably notice that these places have people moving through them but don't require me to interact with others. Most of these places don't require me to get up and move a lot; once I get into my rhythms of writing or drawing, I won't be interrupted but I can look up and around to find something interesting. 

As you start to look for the places that work for you, you'll build up your own favorite places. Do try to visit new places.

3) Review your old work


Sometimes going through your old work or rough drafts can rekindle an old spark or ignite a related idea. Follow the train of thought that first inspired you- either it will lead you somewhere new and exciting or you'll follow through on an old inspiration.

Re-drawing an old sketch can be great both for finding motivation and inspiration. 
Viewing how far I've come can really get me pumped up to try something new and challenging that I mightn't've tried without the warm up.


4) Talk to a friend


Talk to a friend about anything. Talk about the idea. Talk about the problem. Talk about your weekend plans. Talk, listen, discuss. 

I'm always amazed by how a good chat with a friend can make my day. And a good day for my heart is a good day for inspiration. 

Talking about what you're brainstorming for can knock all sorts of ideas out of your brain. There's something about verbalizing a problem that makes the problem more clearly defined and the answer a little more obvious.

Similarly, your friend will probably have their own spin to your idea that can improve it. Or make its error more clear. 


5) Work through it


Sometimes you just need to get going. This method is the toughest one. Once you've pushed through the first 5 minutes, working just gets easier. Is it something about inertia? Whatever it is, starting makes going easier.

Even if I'm still having difficulty working once I start, then I remind myself that I have made progress. More likely than not, I don't end up taking a break because getting the ball rolling is the hardest thing. 


Finding inspiration for creativity: 5 ways



Here are a few ways that I find inspiration, especially for things like drawing and writing.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Thoughts on: Museum Frictions Introduction

I wanted to share some of my reading on museum theory; maybe I can add something to the analysis or get some suggestions for my writings.


Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations
Introduction


Summary and some questions posed towards pages 1-13 article.






Globalization


"We accept that recent decades have seen increasing speed, growing intensity, and multiplication of directions of extranational flows, processes, and relationships that are called 'global.' But we also want to acknowledge that greater integration of the globe, either in cultural or economic terms, is not the necessary endpoint of globalization, which can produce uncoupling and isolation -- the loss of opportunity -- as much as it can produce new relationships and opportunities." (pg 5)

Globalizations is not an inherent good. Globalization is driven by Western colonization and faces very little as means of analysis from the mainstream public. 

  • What/where/when is global?
  • Who/what/where is excluded?
  • Who benefits from their exclusion?


Blockbuster Exhibition


The blockbuster exhibition is an exhibition designed to please the public, usually with broad ideas and already popular objects. A focus on universalist or humanist connections means that the public can relate to the objects and their famous owners without deep learning or internal searching. The blockbuster exhibition usual enjoys a international tour.

"But international blockbuster tours rarely, if ever, reach so-called less developed countries, which from the organizers' viewpoint lack both the funds that such exhibitions require and a sufficiently elaborate infrastructure to support them." (pg 12)

  • Who are the organizers? What is the 'elaborate infrastructure?' 
  • How do the organizers and museums benefit from keeping these tours from reaching less developed countries?
  • Who built the infrastructure? When? How?
  • Are less developed countries actually incapable of funding these exhibitions?
  • Do developed countries have a responsibility to have the exhibitions tour all of the world?
  • What are these funds? How much are these funds? Who supplies the funds? 
  • Why don't organizers think funds would be supplied to less developed countries?

Reinstallation of permanent collection


The reinstallation of the permanent collection parallel the blockbuster. Museums seek to gain and audience by drawing attention to their rarely seen items; biennial exhibitions also return focus to certain aspects of a museum's collection.  



Exhibitions as legitimacy


Both of the "blockbuster" and "reinstallation" exhibitions are signs of the resurgence of museums as arbiters of legitimacy. 

Communities seeking to establish their cultural identity turn to museums for both a venue to share their arguments and a venue that lends them safety and legitimacy. Plural societies have few venues for citizens to gather information about cultural identity without the obvious stamping of bias. As museums' bias is often overlooked and their stand as unbiased collections of objects and knowledge, the public turns to museums to gain information and approach the public sphere for these issues.


Public controversy


"The growing integration of new media into museum and heritage practice has resulted in a certain democratization of access, with collections and exhibitions available in virtual form in homes, school and elsewhere, and it has provided the basis for cooperative ventures among institutions. Yet it simultaneously creates new barriers defined by digital divides both within and among countries." (pg 13)

The two main ideas:


  1. The internet and new media increases audience which automatically increased public controversy
  2. The internet and new media created barriers between those who could access the tech and who couldn't which created controversy.
But a few questions:
  • "Yet it simultaneously"- What is 'it'? Who responsible for 'it'? Is 'it' simultaneous?
  • Is there more controversy or is the controversy more public?
  • Is the audience reached by the internet and new media different than that of old technology?
    • If not, what is it about the method of the technology that creates controversy?
    • If so, who is being excluded? Why?
  • Does the audience reached by new media have different goals or expectations of museums than those who had access before?
  • Is the cooperation beneficial? To whom? Is the cooperation open or a cabal?
To help you consider the effects of technology on traditional heritage, try this article: 
A good reading on whether technology inherently changes what's being transmitted, especially with digital technology.

How can this be applied to museum spaces and publications?







Thoughts on: Museum Frictions Introduction

I wanted to share some of my reading on museum theory; maybe I can add something to the analysis or get some suggestions for my writings.


Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations
Introduction


Summary and some questions posed towards pages 1-13 article.


Friday, September 6, 2013

new posts

I'll be queue-ing new posts this weekend.

Please know that this blog is not abandoned.

new posts

I'll be queue-ing new posts this weekend.

Please know that this blog is not abandoned.

Friday, August 30, 2013

More posts coming

Just moved into my dorm and have finally settled in.

More posts are coming~
I'm took a little break to get myself together and help with advising things.

More posts coming

Just moved into my dorm and have finally settled in.

More posts are coming~
I'm took a little break to get myself together and help with advising things.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What to do when your internship ends?

So my internship ended yesterday!

Huzzah for getting through the internship!

But there's still plenty of time until I head back to school, almost a whole month. So what do you do now?

Read more to find out a few productive and fun ways to spend the in between time.




Wrap things up from your internship


This involves writing thank you letters to those who helped you during your internship, people who interviewed or mentored you, any people who you owe gratitude to.

Keep this contact information for future use. A name, telephone number, email address, and business address are good to have on hand for asking for recommendation letters or just to check in.

Also, compose a list of things you did during your internship. Focus on what you will use to get other jobs or in you intended profession. You might be amazed by the diversity of things that you did. Composing this list while things are still fresh in your mind will lead to a more accurate and complete description of skills that you've learned.

Now that you have a list of things you did and learned, use that list to update your resume.

Plan for the fall semester


I've been planning out my courses for the fall semester, figuring out what my schedule will be like. Adding in the school's academic calendar dates like holidays can get you started on your calendar and give you a good sense of pacing.

Having a good sense of what your fall will look like may motivate you to do some preparatory reading over the summer or to get in touch with a professor. I'm also starting to look at how much my textbooks will cost. Saving up for textbooks or lab fees can be quite a feat!

On that note, if you want to have a internship for the fall, you will probably need to start your search now to send out applications towards the middle of August. If you need to apply separately for funding, the search will be a bit more intense and may end up being the objective of this month.

Plan for the next summer


What are you going to be doing next summer? Don't know? Find out.

Try contacting the internship office where you were working this summer. Try reaching out to professors; likely they'll ask you to check in later but asking early will already put you on their mind when applications open.

Do you want to study abroad? Check out what your school has to offer. There's probably a study abroad office. You can also check with your department to see if any professors have travel planned or contact with international countries. Volunteer work can be another way to get out of the US. Planning your study abroad will likely take a lot of time, especially if you are looking for funding or have never been out of the country before.

Personally, I'm going to be asking around about study abroad. I'm going to try to apply for MIT's  MISTI program with the goal to have a museum internship in Europe. I've already made an appointment for when I get back to campus.


Fun things


You should be having some fun during your summer. This is a break from the rigour and schedule of school and work, which should be taken advantage of.

I'm going to be going to Otakon and hanging out with friends. Figuring out when these things will happen and organizing for us all to get together takes time if I don't want to be stressed as I scramble at the last minute.

Take time for your extensive or time consuming hobbies. Read books! Read lots of books! Work on a craft project that you've put aside for a long time.

Travel and take advantage of the things happening where you are. Since I'm in D.C. there are tons of free and fun events for me to go to which I'm going to try to take advantage of.

What to do when your internship ends?

So my internship ended yesterday!

Huzzah for getting through the internship!

But there's still plenty of time until I head back to school, almost a whole month. So what do you do now?

Read more to find out a few productive and fun ways to spend the in between time.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amazing Smithsonian Comment: My thoughts in response

I would first like to recommend this amazing article from Jezebel: Don't be the Intern Your Fellow Interns Hate. Having read this article, I started to scroll through the comments and I ended up stumbling on an amazing one from Chasmosaur100. She was a volunteer intern at the Smithsonian.

I implore you to read her comment. She shares some great information on how to balance an unpaid internship with a paid job, make a good impression, and to set some strong boundaries.


Read more for my drawing out of key points and response based on my experience as a Smithsonian intern.




Boundaries



Also working at the Smithsonian in an unpaid internship, I've found that it can be important to set a clear schedule and make clear that this is so that you can work another job, not to go hang with friends. My position was fairly flexible in the sense that I staff events after hours. Those "extra" evening hours can be subtracted from the usual business hours as I see fit.

Be clear from the beginning what hours you can work, how you can be contacted, and follow through on these commitments. Keep in mind that a company that doesn't respect your boundaries as an intern likely won't respect them as an employee either.


Menial tasks



Her willingness to do menial tasks is something that all interns need to embrace. It makes a good impression on the staff; they really are grateful. Simple tasks are often the stepping stones to bigger ones. If you can't be trusted to sort mail, how can you be expected to write it?

These tasks also aren't difficult. Administrative work does require attention to detail and time, but it's something that most people can do quite well if they just dedicate themselves to it. While it might not be the most educational, spending a few hours in front of the copier is not difficult. As I joked with one staff person who was reluctant to give me a copying job, it needs to get done and I'm as good at standing in front of a machine as any paid employee. Dull low skill tasks should be balanced by mentorship, complex tasks, and (hopefully) pay. Get through it and do it well.

The corollary to this is that you are not to good for any job or task. You are not too good to copy, fold, print, or even take out the trash. I really don't understand how some interns think they're too good for certain tasks; they have to get done.


Relationship


Due to the good relationship that she made with the scientists, she was invited to go on a three week research trip. What an amazing opportunity! Creating a relationship with fellow professionals in your field is an important part of any internship.

Creating an good relationship can make a world of difference for what doors open to you. People want to hire someone that they can work with and chat with in the office. Social skills and building relationships is an important part of others' perceptions of you. I personally struggle with this as I'm an introvert. But doing your best and finding a niche that fits you can work wonders.

She found that her sense of humor and chatting over lunch helped her to get a good relationship with the staff, well backed by her competence. I also find that lunch is a good time to chat. In public programs, I often stay after the program to help take down and chat with other staff and volunteers. While I'm not the chattiest person, I make an effort to show that I am there and interested in others.



Amazing Smithsonian Comment: My thoughts in response

I would first like to recommend this amazing article from Jezebel: Don't be the Intern Your Fellow Interns Hate. Having read this article, I started to scroll through the comments and I ended up stumbling on an amazing one from Chasmosaur100. She was a volunteer intern at the Smithsonian.

I implore you to read her comment. She shares some great information on how to balance an unpaid internship with a paid job, make a good impression, and to set some strong boundaries.


Read more for my drawing out of key points and response based on my experience as a Smithsonian intern.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Joy: Cat cafes in the USA

The positivity post for this week is about cat cafes.

Here's a link to a short article on cat cafes slowly making their way to the USA.

Has the time come for cat cafes in the U.S.?

 

I sure hope that the US gets some cat cafes in the North Eastern area; they'd really have all my money. 

There's a bit of hope from tumblr user catcafedream who is looking to start a cat cafe in Boston. 

The concept of these cat cafes hosting adoptable cats seems like a great idea to me, certainly a nice living space for the kitties than the average shelter.

Joy: Cat cafes in the USA

The positivity post for this week is about cat cafes.

Here's a link to a short article on cat cafes slowly making their way to the USA.

Has the time come for cat cafes in the U.S.?

 

I sure hope that the US gets some cat cafes in the North Eastern area; they'd really have all my money. 

There's a bit of hope from tumblr user catcafedream who is looking to start a cat cafe in Boston. 

The concept of these cat cafes hosting adoptable cats seems like a great idea to me, certainly a nice living space for the kitties than the average shelter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Internship advice

I'm going to do a few posts to provide advice for interns. I really struggled when I first got my internship with all sorts of questions. This is certainly natural: most minimum wage jobs and academic settings are a completely different work paradigm than an office job or internship.

These posts will provide some basic advice for interns, from starting out to finishing up.

These are a few key approaches to be an amazing intern.



Attitude: Interview


Your internship is really just a very long interview. Receiving an internship is just getting your foot in the door; you still have to continue to be an amazing potential employee. You haven't made it in yet. While you should be proud of landing the internship, you should realize that this is just the first step to making a good impression at the company and with your supervisor. Even if it seems that you will be likely give the job, look further: you can still see this as an interview for the next job that you apply for or the promotion that you will want.

Much like an interview, every day you should be on your best behavior, looking out for pitfalls and opportunities.


Thank you letters


Gratitude is an amazing thing to demonstrate. People are always happy to help someone who take the time to pat them on the back and return that help. Especially in well established companies and those jobs that gave you your first experience, gratitude for the opportunity to work is expected.

Write thank you letters for being interviewed, for recommendation letters, for being mentored, for the opportunity to work. If you can, give back some sort of value to the person who helped you. This could be sharing a bright idea that they inspired, pointing out an opportunity for funding, or offering to put them in contact with a professor at your school who you think they would get along with. They helped you so you should do your best to help them.

Don't discount what you can do to help them! These small acts coming from you now will signal how truly motivated you are and that you will be an important professional connection.

Thank you letters should be well written in content and put on nice stationary. An email will not cut it.

Proofread and Perfect


When you first get an assignment, ask questions about it. Try and get a sense not only of what you are asked to do, but why and what your supervisor truly wants. Don't pretend like you know what you're doing. It's better to ask questions than make mistakes.



Here are some useful questions:

Basic details
  • Would you like this saved as a pdf or word document? 
  • Should I print this in color? 
  • Who should I copy on this email?
  • When do you want this by? 
Conceptual questions
  • What is the target audience of this project/publication?
  • What is the goal of this project/publication?
  • Do you have an previous examples?
  • How was this program developed?
  • What is the latest innovation for this program?

Work quickly and efficiently but make sure to keep up the quality of your work. Proof read everything you do. The best way I've found to proof read is to print out everything and read what I've written multiple times.

Share ideas and innovation

Having asked meaningful questions about the project, think about the project. How would you run this project? What could be added to the project? Where would there be problems?

Once you know what is wanted of you and what is being asked of you, do both and add your own spin to it. If you can, add some sort of innovation to the task. Are you making an event program from Word document? Make the program in Publisher; explain to your supervisor that it will be easier to print. Create several designs for the event program, designs that fit with the feeling the event is going for. Do everything you can to make a perfect product.

I also ask other coworkers to look things over or bounce ideas before speaking to my supervisor. This shows initiative and, when I credit the coworker for sharing their idea, humility and good teamwork.

The point


You are you. You can do a lot to become a better worker. But to be a truly excellent intern, you need to show yourself as an excellent worker and as someone who can add to the company.

What you add is about who you are.


If you're an amazing social butterfly and spend tons of hours running events for your sorority, take that to your job. Be Elle Woods. If you're a quiet dreamer with tons of ideas, work them over in your mind and then share them. Take your inspiration from the imagination and rectitude of Tesla.  If your social skills are so so, but you love the technical side of things find an office that understands this, find a task where you technical skills can shine as you work independently, find your niche.

You can't be happy constantly changing who you are; you can't be a good worker if you hide your best aspects.





Internship advice

I'm going to do a few posts to provide advice for interns. I really struggled when I first got my internship with all sorts of questions. This is certainly natural: most minimum wage jobs and academic settings are a completely different work paradigm than an office job or internship.

These posts will provide some basic advice for interns, from starting out to finishing up.

These are a few key approaches to be an amazing intern.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

College Men's Common Criticisms of Feminism

It seems like if you get a group of college kids together, late at night when there's just enough trust to let conversations start flowing, it's inevitable that a guy will steer the conversation toward a critique of feminism.

Why do guys feel so much of a need to harp on feminism?
And if guys want to criticize feminism, why do they only want to criticize it when they feel that the criticism isn't going to leave a safe space?

Read more for the common criticisms and my run down on why this happens.




The things that men always bring up against feminism:

  • privilege isn't real because i don't think i benefit from it
    • bonus points for a story of a bootstrapping story of independent success
  • if feminism is about equality why is it femin-sim? why not equal-ism?
    • bonus points for claiming men and women are equal because we can both vote
  • women pay less of car insurance so there's no such thing as a pay gap
    • bonus points for claiming women's low car insurance is strange since women can't drive
  • why are women so upset that they have to shave their legs? i shave my beard
    • bonus points for challenging women to find a guy who doesn't care
  • but really, friend zone
    • bonus points for stories of personal experience
  • i knew this one girl who was a bitch... so... yeah
    • bonus points if the girl wasn't actually a bitch
  • girls get benefits from being hot so it's not bad to want them to be hot
    • bonus points for claiming natural beauty is more attractive anyway
  • it's a natural thing for guys to be agressive and it's encouraged by society for the good of everyone
    • bonus points for also claiming that women can just ignore all societal expectation

If these are honest concerns for the sake of advancing women, why don't they bring them up publicly? For the benefit of everyone? For the benefit of their beloved "equal-ism"?

The answer is of course that these aren't for the benefit of feminism. These criticisms are really just worries that college guys have about losing their privilege. These guys voice their loss of power to encourage their female friends to give men back power, to placate their male friends with subservience and docile explanations for why we women folk have encroached so far.

And their concerns reveal and underlying ignorance and backlash that ought to motivate women even more to pursue feminism. It's so angering to hear these "criticisms" again and again, as if feminists haven't written extensively on these topics already.

College Men's Common Criticisms of Feminism

It seems like if you get a group of college kids together, late at night when there's just enough trust to let conversations start flowing, it's inevitable that a guy will steer the conversation toward a critique of feminism.

Why do guys feel so much of a need to harp on feminism?
And if guys want to criticize feminism, why do they only want to criticize it when they feel that the criticism isn't going to leave a safe space?

Read more for the common criticisms and my run down on why this happens.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Refocus: Upcoming internship and career posts

I wanted to take a post to refocus myself. This internship is a totally new experience for me; I've never worked in an office before and I find myself both excited and tired by what that work experience is like. I want to refocus myself so that I can better help you: it's only by having a good sense of my goals that I can share with you advice of how to pursue your goals.

Here are a few posts to look forward to!

  • How to make a good impression at your internship
  • Connecting to others in a workplace
  • Internship Advice Collection
  • Initiative: Internships and being your best
  • Internship Outfits!
  • How did you learn about Art Conservation?



Read more for the commentary on refocusing!



I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out exactly how I can get towards my dream of preserving artwork, combining my love of science with my passion for the arts. It seems like the people who end up in the conservation field enter it from, not only a place of exceptional comfort and privilege, but from a different academic setting than I'm in. As much as I love MIT, we don't have studio art classes or a strong art history department. Not to mention that conservation seems to be a bit taboo- those who love art history are frightened of the technical requirements.

Additionally, I want to refocus this blog. I want to share something valuable with all of you. Your reading or just stumbling on this blog means so much to me. I find writing and explaining my experience to give me a lot and the whole process of working on this blog gives me a lot of focus. Writing to you, as friends, is an external promise that motivates me to work hard. I feel honored to be able to share with you; I don't want to break that honor.

Part of that honor, I think, needs to be to turn this into something positive and valuable. I feel that there is a lot of personal meaning and academic advice catalogued in this blog. I want to continue to expand on this and start sharing financial and professional advice. I want i choose to refuse to reflect how I'm growing and changing: the books I read, how I pursue a career, my worried about student loans, the paintings and sketchs I make, and all the amazing things that are helping me to grow.


Refocus: Upcoming internship and career posts

I wanted to take a post to refocus myself. This internship is a totally new experience for me; I've never worked in an office before and I find myself both excited and tired by what that work experience is like. I want to refocus myself so that I can better help you: it's only by having a good sense of my goals that I can share with you advice of how to pursue your goals.

Here are a few posts to look forward to!

  • How to make a good impression at your internship
  • Connecting to others in a workplace
  • Internship Advice Collection
  • Initiative: Internships and being your best
  • Internship Outfits!
  • How did you learn about Art Conservation?



Read more for the commentary on refocusing!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Moving Forward From Failure: Get Started!

I find failure to be the most difficult thing to overcome. Maybe it's the fact that failure had such a high cost in my youth. Maybe it's just that failure represents the effort put into the attempt not being quite enough.




But here's what I do to get over my fear of failure and get started on a project.


Mentally Approaching Failure 


During our youth, it seems that many of us were told that talent or intelligence meant never failing, having things come to us easily. Therefore, when we face difficulty or worse yet failure, we question one of the fundamentals of our identity: our talent. The ideology behind this comes from the concept of a Romantic genius, a person with natural talent whose work far exceeds what practice and route learning can achieve in the untalented.

But this is a silly notion. Even the Romantic geniuses had failures!
Friedrich did studies for his paintings; even The Wanderer had its precursor. Chalk Cliffs is nowhere near the statement as the The Wanderer. It's not a shame to the artist that he went through a process of refinement for his ideas. That's what failure is: the process of improvement.Van Gogh did not immediately paint a perfect canvas: often he painted over his failures, adapting them to the improvement of his next work.

Fear of Mockery


Our greatest fear seems to be that we will be laughed at or mocked for our failures.

Let's remember van Gogh. Most art historians lament that he painted over his "failures." They wish that they could see the process that he went through, much as they pour over the sketches of those painters trained by the French Academy.

And okay, somebody laughed at your failure? So what? What are they doing? Instead of taking that time to be improving themselves, they're paying attention to you. If anything, that means that you're already succeeding. You're gaining attention for your new work. You've got an audience for your future success. You're making someone else feel happy, maybe a vindictive happy that reflects on their inner demons, but still happy. So don't worry about it.

The Cost of Failure


"I spent so much time working on it but it didn't turn out right."
"Look at all the money that went into that ugly thing! What a waste."
"My reputation's ruined by that fiasco. No one will let me try again!"

We've all heard or said these things about our own efforts that ended in failure.

But what have we said about the profits of success?

Consider failures investments. Don't jump into large ones; slowly build. Develop a skill. It only takes a single success to put you on the market, but all success requires skill.

In the case of drawing: Start out on cheap newsprint as you learn to draw or paint. Invest in a few nice sketchbooks. When those are filled, you'll see improvement. You'll have the wisdom to choose the style and medium that best suits you. A few quality finished works on canvas will yield more and more knowledge, based on the sketches you continue to do on cheap paper. Finally, you'll have a piece that satisfies you. You can send this succes to a gallery where it may or may not be accepted. But you will always have the skill of drawing, a skill that can continue to grow.



Moving Forward From Failure: Get Started!

I find failure to be the most difficult thing to overcome. Maybe it's the fact that failure had such a high cost in my youth. Maybe it's just that failure represents the effort put into the attempt not being quite enough.




But here's what I do to get over my fear of failure and get started on a project.