Friday, March 25, 2011


The folks at Oxford University Press shocked the world this week when they announced that they're adding a new word to the good ol' OED.

Why all the hullaballoo?

The word is: ♥

That's right. ♥ is the first typographical symbol to be added as a word in the dictionary.

Tweeny-boppers of the world can argue that "I ♥ JBiebs" is now a full sentence.

I'm not sure what I think about it yet. Are we headed down a slippery slope? Are we moving ever more rapidly toward vapid and thoughtless expression?

Or is there something beautiful in the ♥?

There's certainly something expressive and romantic about it.

And the wonderful thing about language is that it's dynamic. It should change as society does.

I for one am hoping that the interrobang is the next piece of punctuation to make it big.

Thanks to Anne for bringing this to my attention.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

Dear Blog World,

I have a problem.
I'm addicted to overcommitting.

I made an infographic to describe my neurosis.
It doesn't come from a fear of failure or a need for recognition or a perfectionist tendency (although I'll freely admit to having all of those).

It's just that I get excited about things. Really excited. About everything. All the time.

I hear about a new class or a new project, and every fiber of my being just yells, "That! I want to do that! Right now!" It's like I'm seeing new colors or tasting new flavors or visiting new worlds.

I try to split my time up among all these commitments, and it just doesn't work. There's so many of them and only one of me. But if you ask me to do fewer things, I feel like I'm making Sophie's choice. I can't think of one thing I wouldn't cry over if I cut it out of my life.

Does anybody else feel this way?

Friday, March 18, 2011

SB11 Day 6: And it was beautiful.

So now I've been to the Big Apple.

We visited New York City today, and I'm not yet sure what to make of the experience.

It's a city that's been so mythologized in American culture. You might call it the Mecca of our nation.

Artists rap about its ability to make dreams come true. Screenwriters tell us it's bursting with opportunity. Advertisers show us its streets—full of color and life and joy—and tell us we're missing out.

I've grown up in this city-centric culture, and I've imbibed the myth that glorifies the metropolis. I've always looked at New Yorkers enviously, like a child reluctant to go to bed because he's certain he's missing some unknown magic.

So I went. I went with my wide trusting eyes. I went to soak it all up, to smell and taste and see. I went stockpile images, to record my impressions.

I saw bustling streets and bright shops. I saw bubbling toddlers and bent old women. I saw skyscrapers and landmarks and incredible billboards, and I'm not sure yet what to think. I can't package what I saw into a neat little bundle.

I think what shocked me most is that it was real. It's not a myth, and it's not easy to make sense of. It's not hellish, but it has tragedies. It's not ideal, but it has beauty.

What draws us to the city is life—irresistible, incomprehensible life. And life is not one-sided. It holds both the beautiful and the repulsive, both hope and desperation, both businessmen and beggars.

Yes, New York is beautiful. Yes, New York is distressing. Yes, New York is real.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SB11 Day 4: Forever 21 is my soulmate.


The girls in our spring break trip went to the Christiana mall today. While we were there, I visited Forever 21 for the first time.

It was two floors (!) and amazing.

Be still my beating heart.

Everything was cheap. Everything fit. Everything was adorable.

I got this gorgeous skirt in navy.

And a pair of cute blue earrings!

When we got back to the house, we discovered the boys had cooked us dinner!

Aren't they adorable?

Anxious to Matter

Long conversations are among my greatest joys.

I spent a long time chatting with friends after breakfast today, and my friend Cassie asked how I thought I had changed in the time I've been in college.

These words came out of my mouth:

"I don't know really. I'm a lot happier. I used to think I had to accomplish something, do something big, get my name in a history book. Now, I just want to find somewhere I fit."

And I think it's true. I'm a lot more at peace than I used to be. I'm a lot less fearful. I'm a lot happier.

In Pearl Harbor, Ben Affleck's character explains why he's in the war by saying, "I'm not anxious to die, sir, just anxious to matter."

For most of my life, I was anxious to matter. I was desperate to be someone important. But by the grace of God I'm realizing now that the stuff that matters is stuff that lasts a heck of a lot longer than things in a history book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SB11 Day 3: Brotherly Love.

Philly today.

It's my first time back in Pennsylvania since the family moved away seven years ago.

We visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

It's an interesting feeling to be so close to something you've read about in history books.

I wandered slowly through the Liberty Bell Center, watching people of all ages and races mill around, listening to the faint sound of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech from a video in another room.

Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land
unto all the Inhabitants thereof.

I'm not a particularly patriotic person, but you know what?

I felt kinda proud.

I'm glad to be American. I'm glad these guys existed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SB11 Day 2: Freedom smells like saltwater.

We visited Ocean City today.

Aaaand it was freezing.

But it wasn't too cold to get a few great pictures:

Yes, dear blog, you are at the beach.

This is our poor attempt to spell "Asbury!"

I love this! I love us! I love break!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

She got in!

I'm so proud of my big sister!

She just got into the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Yeah, that's right. She'll be attending the world's oldest school of journalism (est. 1908).

Yayayay! She's totally deserves it.

Get ready Mizzou, Kate Brannen's about to blow you away.

SB11 Day 1: Hello, Garden State.

Spring Break is finally here! I feel so free.

I headed up to New Jersey yesterday with about a dozen of my friends. We're staying at Cassie's house, and it's basically the best thing ever.

Today, I went on a four-wheeler for the first time!

I also got to try Wawa coffee.

Wawa's a New Jersey phenomenon. It's a gas station with coffee, subs, milkshakes, and more, and all my NJ friends are just crazy about it.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In Which I Shamelessly Plug Josh

It was a short entry about this guy:

Back then, I had only just heard of the wonderful musician that is Josh Ritter. I wasn't familiar with his goofy smile or his compelling lyrics. I didn't know that his soulful voice was missing from my life.

In the months since, I've become a much bigger fan of Josh. I'm on the email list. I follow his Twitter feed. I read his blog. I listen to his Pandora station constantly, and the girls on my hall roll their eyes every time I start singing "that song about the devil car."

What I love most about Josh is that he uses words well. His undergraduate major was "American History through Narrative Folk Music." His songs have literary allusions, and he describes his own music as "rock and roll with a lot of words."

You can imagine my excitement when I read that my newfound favorite was writing a book.

At Christmastime, I asked for a pre-order, and I've been counting down the days until I have a copy of Bright's Passage in my hands.

Today I got an e-mail from Josh Ritter with these wonderful words:

Josh's debut novel, Bright's Passage, hits shelves in North America on June 28th. Go here to download the first chapter of the book for free.

Yes, yes, yes! I've downloaded the chapter, and I'm saving it as a reward until I finish my article for the Collegian on water aerobics. I can't get those words written fast enough.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Speed up photoshop!