notes

Why did I ever stop reading?

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Written at 2 a.m. after calling pest control on a large, unidentified spider in my dorm room, which left me restless and afraid

I have to take a moment of pause from my NYU posts to brag on a read that has taken me too long to get around to. (If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been using this blog as my portfolio for the work I have done in my journalism course)

After being in New York for three weeks knowing nobody, I finally decided to head to the bookstore and pick up some light reads for my free time. I was drawn to the familiar cover of Maria Semple’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” which reminded me a lot of the illustrations from author Emma Straub’s collection, and also Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians” series. I purchased the paperback along with two other books, “How to Ruin Everything” by George Watsky and “Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures” by Emma Straub. I immediately began reading while sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack burger in hand. I spent the rest of my day completely invested in the lives of Bee Branch and her mother, Bernadette Fox. I finished it about 12 hours later.

My point in noting this—other than to applaud and brag on Maria Semple—is to reintroduce myself, and possibly you, to reading something so valuable and brilliant that I cannot put it down for fear of facing a reality unlike the one on the pages. It saddens me to think that every year the short span from May to August is really the only time I have until life gets busy again, reality checks in, and this crazy-dramatic fantasy that has been occupying my afternoons and sleep schedule must be paused. We all know how that is.

But alas, I have a plan, a goal, and a rough beginner’s list as a start to a project I am doing with myself to get more in the habit of reading (and not just reading, but experiencing). I’m not even here to sponsor my own creative genius; I’m just letting you know that I have a plan, and if you want to copy me you totally can.

So maybe we can do this together? Maybe you can pitch me some authors, books, short stories, or your mom’s instagram caption from April fool’s day? I really don’t care. The point is that this is something I’ve wanted to dedicate more time to for a while, and I’m excited to finally do the damn thing.

Here’s the list. Beware it’s a short one, but I fully intend on adding on to it as I expand my opinions of authors and genres (other than Emma Straub, who is an obvious yes for me, always).

  1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette (check)
  2. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures (check)
  3. How to Ruin Everything
  4. Fan Girl
  5. Eleanor & Park (check)
  6. The Stars in Our Eyes
  7. Americanah (check)
  8. The Versions of Us
  9. This One’s Mine (check)

So if you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to other than summer school and getting lost on the subway, voila!

RR

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notes

What’s New, New York?

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If someone could tell me how I’ve gotten to such a new place in my life where I simultaneously burn my microwaveable mac-and-cheese whilst scanning the Internet for part-time gigs that require dog walking capabilities, that would be great. Life is crazy. One minute, I’m marking through my grocery list and realizing I have no processed food left off my diet, and then I’m registering for classes at New York University. Yep, scene change for sure.

To be fair, I should probably introduce the story for what it is: a stressful panic in my life wherein I realized my skills, experiences, and resume were about as deep as the very bowl of mac-and-cheese I’d burned (how does one actually burn macaroni?). What am I doing with my life? I mean I’m a journalism major seeking a french minor, not a lot going for me in the job department from where I’m standing. But, alas! there is hope because of summer and the opportunities that shed from that right? All my life, I have seen summer break for what it is, a break, but I come here to tell you I was completely wrong. It’s for building your resume, shaking hands, and kissing babies… maybe not the last part, but it’s definitely about making connections and expanding the experience field of your resume. “Ugh” is right. In the past, I never really had to try for summer plans. In high school, I worked at the same store for two consecutive summers, and I always had family vacations to fall back on. Up until a few months ago, I was about to have my third repeat of a “high school” summer, which would include working, online classes, and probably becoming an insomniac on my annual Netflix binge, but I wasn’t looking forward to that, especially with the future of my career riding on the fact that I have literally no idea what I’m doing with my life. You can only use the “I’m not supposed to know what I’m doing with my life, it’s freshman year!” excuse for so long until even you start to doubt it. This was the moment that I decided to take my summer plans into my own hands in a really frantic, totally uncool manner: the Internet. I didn’t care if I had to take to Craigslist, I was going to get the hell out of here and do something productive for once. That’s when I had this genius revelation of taking courses at NYU. Yes, the big revelation is over, you can sit back now.

Applying for summer session at NYU seemed like an easy way to get out, go to New York, and take college classes that could count toward my major + it gives major points on the resume (I think) so I’m basically killing two birds with one stone. The only big issue was that without a summer job, I sorta kinda lost that source of income and what better way to fill my time in the big apple than get a job, right? At least that’s what my mom told me. So as of last night I have applied for social media internships, retailers, dog walking companies (big thing in NYC I’ve heard), and being a librarian at the New York Public Library. Will I get any of these? Probably not. Do I really care? no, but my bank account does.

I really don’t know what spurred this topic for a blog post. It seems a bit ramble-y if you ask me, but I also want to express how spontaneous this all was for me. I’m an 18-year-old girl who goes to the nearest, southern University that provided a safe fall back and a three hour drive from home. I don’t really take a lot of risks, and I guess I’m counting this as one. I’m also preparing whatever audience is out there because chances are I’m not going to find a job in New York and I’m going to have a bit of time to actually write and feel inspired. So readers, if you’re out there, I have no idea what I’m doing with life, but I’m willing to document if you’re willing to read.

See you in the big apple,

RR

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notes

summer readings alike

As summer reaches a point where weeks before school start are counted on one hand and that beach bod is officially out of the question, I like to reflect on photo memories, books read, and laughs shared in the past two months.

This summer was unique for me because I didn’t make a huge habit out of reading, which is kind of my summer thing, but in that handful of books I read were two new found favorites from author Emma Straub, The Vacationers and Modern Lovers. If you’ve never read the writing of Straub, I strongly urge you to. She has a unique way of creating reader anticipation through multiple third person narrative and the unraveled details of a problem mysterious to the reader (basically the opposite of dramatic irony).

In those two novels, I noticed a pattern. In The Vacationers, readers follow a family beach trip centered around avoiding the elephant in the room and concealing the appearance of chaos. Same instance occurs in Modern Lovers when the dynamic of two families is put to the test as they revisit the past and its risk of exposing secrets. Both include the reality of relational hardships, which is why I think I appreciate them so much. There is no sugar coating, no forgive and forget, no walking away with rainbows and butterflies because none of that is life.

This isn’t to say that there can’t be happy endings because I root for that, trust me! But in life the decisions we make have consequences that affect our present and future, and Straub does an AMAZING job at illustrating the realness that is forgiveness and love.

So while there are still a few weeks left of summer, I recommend picking up these two classics and allowing yourself to experience a truth uncommon to the average teen. I hope you enjoy Straub’s writing as much as I do, and I’m more than excited to continue reading her work.

RR

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