Ten years ago, I was just starting as a full-time college freshman at my local community college. The college was three minutes from my house and its campus consisted of one building*.
Though it was comically small, I was thrilled to be in attendance. It was my first time consistently going to classes, as desks and droning lectures aren’t a typical mainstay of homeschooling.
Attending a community college that only offered two-year programs might have been the dipping-your-toes-in-the-shallow-end equivalent of experiencing college, but it was right for me. I saved a significant amount of money while earning an Associates degree and knocking out my core classes. But, that’s how I ended my time at GMC.
At the start of 2010, I was delighted by almost everything my tiny alma mater had to offer: The English professor with the deep voice of a long-term smoker, assigning me to write about which The Breakfast Club character I most identified with, and why – I chose Brian, because of course I did. The computer lab where I earned extra credit just by speaking with a tutor. The seemingly endless list of elective courses I could take, like Art History, Bowling, or Criminology.
I took all of those electives and a handful of others, too. I was still figuring out what I wanted to do and figured a few random classes couldn’t hurt in that journey. Spoiler alert: I now have my degree, and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.
Still, in January 2010, with a world of possibility at my fingertips, I chose to start college eight months earlier than most of my peers. As I began my college experience and wondered at what I should do, I doubt I considered a future where I was teaching, much less living in another country. Plenty of things happened between then and now to lead me here, of course, but it’s nice to look back. Maybe the optimism and curiosity that motivated me to take unnecessary electives is the very same force motivating me today.
*Please note a second building as was also built during my brief tenure there. It made a big difference.
Not long ago, a now-private Kashia Dunner tweeted a rallying cry to fellow Millennials. The tweet argues that “my generation lost hobbies,” and judging by the retweets and screenshots uploaded to Instagram, it seems many agree.
The last five words are a simple yet effective call to action, especially considering this tweet was published on New Year’s Eve.
i feel like my generation lost hobbies.
everything doesn’t have to be a hustle, side hustle, or money making enterprise. sometimes it’s just fun to do something because it brings you joy, peace, relaxation, or allows you to be creative.
I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that everything doesn’t have to be a hustle. In fact, I think the emphasis on Millennial hustle in a ‘gig economy’ is a sign of just how broken the corporate workplace is.
Even so, did our generation truly lose hobbies? I’m not sure. So many of my peers have little projects that are just for them. Like those coloring books for adults or making miniature houses (as a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fan, I find these creepy). I know people who bake to relieve stress, who sketch with Procreate® to pass the time, and people who DIY home decor – not because they need it necessarily, but because they enjoy it.
Personally, I consider reading my top hobby, but I have dozens of others. I embroider, I write self-indulgent pop culture reviews, I attempt to craft, I sing (often in the shower), I sew, I dabble with fashion, I play the same three video games, I design interiors for a home I don’t have. And there’s the graveyard of hobbies that didn’t stick, like playing the Ukulele or using a bullet journal.
In reality, it’s not that I’ve lost hobbies. It’s that my attention is focused elsewhere, interest lost and distracted by what’s directly in front of me. Instead of taking time for myself, I spend hours consuming content on my phone. I wonder which Succession character I am and BuzzFeed happily answers. I binge-watch Netflix. I Google to find out if I’m dying because my eye’s been twitching for two days. I deny myself the joy and personal reward of hobbies for a quick fix like the instant dopamine rush of Likes and comments. And on and on.
In the end, whether hobbies are forgotten or merely ignored, I suppose the final thoughts are still the same. Let 2020 be the year we pivot from solely consuming to creating, too. Start indulging the weird creative side of yourself, just for you. Whether you’re making a loaf of banana bread, working up a sweat from dancing, or typing out a grand manifesto, I hope you make it yours.
The NYT Crossword App Not long ago, a friend of mine shared the Crossword app and I’ve been hooked on the daily mini crosswords ever since. I keep trying to get others to join me by promising “It’s really fun!!!” but so far have only been marginally successful. So, if you’re a nerd like me, please check it out. It is really fun.
Fair Food I haven’t been to the Georgia National Fair in years, but every October, I begin to develop a very specific craving for Elephant Ears and a strawberry pineapple drink from that one food stall that plays ‘Kokomo’ on repeat. This year, time and space separated me from that specific experience, however, I was lucky to indulge in a Korean fair food experience instead. The Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival — hosted in my current city of Jinju — is a lantern festival with tons of gorgeously lit views to appreciate and my favorite, food tents with offerings inspired by different parts of the world. I went out of my way to try the “Tornado Potato” and a churro with customary chocolate dipping sauce on more than one occasion.
Watching Grey’s Anatomy (S15) For years, I have joked that watching Grey’s is a chore that I’m committed to seeing through. It isn’t quite in a Hate Watch category for me, but I generally find myself wishing for the Good Old Days (with Izzie and George, of course). That said, I found season 15 much more enjoyable than I have in a while. As McDreamy once said, it was like coming up for fresh air. Succession (S2) I know I talked about this show in the last issue of Popgirl, so I’ll just say that the second season raised the stakes in such a way that I am genuinely nervous to see if they can continue this streak of excellence with the third. I spent two hours of my life watching Brad and Claire, of Bon Appétit test kitchen fame, making sourdoughnuts and subsequently Starbursts and think you should, too. With the likes of Simu Liu and Andrea Bang, Kim’s Convenience (S1-3) is a good time and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In preparation for the sequel, I gave Maleficent (2014) a chance and was very pleasantly surprised. I loved the visuals and the overall message of this film.
Listening I discovered the Keep It! podcast from Ira Madison III, which has the perfect balance of pop culture rambling and thoughtful discussion about current events. Similarly, the Just a Tip with Megan Batoon podcast features refreshing conversations with delightful guests, such as Koreen Odiney and Alyson Stoner. I got a wild hair to make a Diet Halloween playlist (featuring songs that aren’t actually about Halloween) and then listened to it exclusively* for two weeks straight. Other music notes include Kesha’s ‘Raising Hell,’ the Bad Ideas album from Tessa Violet, and also ‘If The World Was Ending’ by JP Saxe, because of this:
Reading This month was pretty light on the reading front, but I did devour Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, mostly because I love the movie. It was a fun, fluffy read that made me feel much better about my own shopping escapades. Let’s Talk About the Yacht Clothes on Succession, because this show was pretty much all I could think about for nearly a month. A necessary read from Kevin T. Porter on how Ellen DeGeneres has diminished “kindness” to a dinky parlor trick deployed for status and profit. And, because I procrastinate, here’s an article I wanted to read but haven’t — on Instagram’s “getting real” moment.
Movies In true scaredy-cat fashion, the only spooky movie I watched was Shaun of the Dead (2004) which isn’t that scary at all. If you like zombie content that moves as slow as the walking dead, give it a whirl. I also watched Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which was not terrible in execution but deflates as a solid medium in comparison to the first movie.
‘Nice to Meet Ya’ by Niall Horan I’m thrilled beyond measure that Niall is releasing new music. That said, this single doesn’t do much for me. I find it just okay, and the music video made me even less enthusiastic about it. It is certainly branching away from Flicker, but I don’t yet know if it’s a direction I’m here for — though this article on the subject did give me some hope for what’s to come.
Pop of the Month
Sources say “oh my god, this is the best thing i’ve ever seen, no hyperbole.”
The Kid Who Was Pants for Halloween I firmly believe this kid will do great things. In a continued thread, the dad went on to say they dressed as ‘a big shirt’ and ‘purple hat’ at his request “because we love him very much/ don’t know how to say no yet” which is even MORE endearing. Protect this wholesome Halloween content!
TRULY cannot believe it’s already September, but I am totally ready for this Georgia humidity to lessen as the days get shorter and the weather cools.
And now, a word on August.
MUSIC AND LYRICS Well, I went to a One Direction concert. No other concert experience can compare. There was so much tangible happiness in the air. I wouldn’t be able to know how well they performed because I was singing along to literally every song. At my request, my friend Patricia beautifully wrote a summary of her experience, and it says just exactly what I would say about my own experience also. Notably, One Direction released their newest single “Drag Me Down” a week prior to the concert I attended, and updated the set list accordingly (as an added bonus for audiences everywhere). I firmly believe it is impossible to listen to “Drag Me Down” without immediately listening to it all the way through at least one more time.
Nate Ruess’ solo album Grand Romantic was released well before August, but I became well acquainted with it in the last month. I enjoy the entire work, but I especially love the collaboration with Beck “What This World Is Coming To”, as well as the tune Ruess himself described as “Some Nights”‘ evil twin, “AhHa”. Teaming up with Apple Music, Ruess shot “The Grand Romantic”, a fun four video series that features music from the album. The series focuses on the struggles a big time rock star faces when he loses his voice, which is especially comical knowing the true vocal talent Nate Ruess is.
* RATED TEN ANDREW DOST ORIGINAL PIE PAINTINGS *
BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS
I blazed through Maggie Steifvater’s “The Raven Cycle”, falling in love particularly with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the third installment in the series. Steifvater has cornered the market on stirring prose coupled with intriguing content. I absolutely cannot wait to see what she does with the final book.
Upon a highly trustworthy recommendation, I read Anthony Doerr’s All The Lights We Cannot See. Truthfully, I probably finished it in July, but reading All The Lights We Cannot See was sort of like being slapped in the face with truly beautiful words and ideas and I implore everyone to read it and experience the painful, glorious process for themselves.
In August, I moved from
one corner of North Georgia to another. In all honesty I am beginning to feel the same level of restlessness I grew accustomed to in my hometown. FUN FACT: our new apartment has the same exact residence number as my old dorm at KSU did, it is all very zen and connected.
The One Direction concert I attended was in Baltimore, so I drove with Katie to stay with our friends Kel and Chiara in DC. Concert aside, the entire trip was one of the more memorable things I’ve had happen to me this year.
It was so nice just being in a new place, with the best sorts of people. Kel and Chiara were so generous to let us crash in their apartment for a whirlwind weekend. Highlights include the strawberry frosted birthday cake I was greeted with, walking around Georgetown, the time we spontaneously decided to eat dinner at a rooftop Tiki Bar and promptly realized that actually no, we did not want to eat dinner at a rooftop Tiki Bar, and the fact that I now include the term “lowkey” in my every day vocabulary.
Calendars and society are telling me we’ve reached July, but I have my doubts. I’m just continually amazed by how quickly 2015 is flying by. What a difference a year makes. I remember feeling like June and July dragged on especially, what with that imminent college graduation and all. I have a certain boy band concert to attend at the beginning of August, so I can’t say I’ll be disappointed if July comes and goes just as fast as the rest of this year has. Enough stalling– I’ve got a monthly review to write!
BOOKS The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan I love Marina’s voice. The fiction portion of this collection inspires my own delusions of authorship, whirling from one artfully crafted snapshot of a moment to the next. I know any good writer is capable of what Keegan accomplished, but I still found myself awash in jealousy and awe as I read. Somehow, “Winter Break” and “Against the Grain” both made me feel like making that 2.5 hour drive home just so I could give my mom a hug and tell her I love her to her face. In fact, all of the non-fiction essays connected with me emotionally. “Stability in Motion” for the nostalgia factor alone. Keegan describes her 1990 Toyota Camry and mode of transportation through high school as “a place of comfort and solitude amid the chaos of my daily routine. My mind was free to wander, my muscles to relax. No one was watching or keeping score.” Just. Come on. Don’t you love that?
Paper Towns by John Green
“Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”
It took almost 200 pages before I finally understood what it was about this book that I first loved so much, but once I did, oh boy. What with fresh-faced idiots labeling John Green the “savior of YA Lit” and then some, it’s difficult to take any of his work seriously. However, I once considered PT my favorite novel, and I knew the movie release was just around the corner. Two things that remain true to memory: the genuinely epic road trip sequence, and the pay-off at the end of the book. It is almost (not quite?) worth the terribly boring 100+ pages we spend suffering Quentin’s creepy obsession with Margo. I do love that moment when Q miraculously- finally- understands that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl image he has of Margo isn’t anything more than “an idea that [he] loved”; and when he acknowledges “how long, and how badly, [he] wrongly imagined her” you sort of feel like cheering.
Avengers: Age of Ultron in the spirit of full disclosure I will state that I do not consider this worth reviewing. It is as if Whedon wrote Avengers fanfiction, ran it by Marvel execs as a potential sequel idea and somehow turned it into what I can only describe as the most agonizing 140 minutes of my life. No stars.
Spy OK- I admit I went into this movie 75% invested in Jude Law’s return to the silver screen (Wes Anderson and thriller forays excluded) and the other 25% focused on the actual movie itself… but despite this, I loved Spy. Not only was Melissa McCarthy incredibly well cast, it is just an absolute blast to watch. Little things like the juxtaposition of a rodent-infested headquarters against the super sleek exoticism that abounds in tales of espionage just put Spy at the top for me. Also, Jude Law did not disappoint.
It’s worth noting that I watched Mad Max: Fury Road,Tomorrowland, and Pitch Perfect 2 in May, and proceeded to Not blog about May. Still feel like talking about them, though. Beautifully shot, Mad Max was absolutely one of the best films I have seen all year. I left the theater feeling like I hadn’t taken a breath in over three hours.
I went into Tomorrowland with almost no expectations and was blown away by the magical optimism of it all. I believe my friend Simoa stated it best when she said this was a movie Walt would be proud of. I’ve attached this quote displayed at the very end of Meet the Robinsons (2007) because it applies so well to the feeling I got while watching Tomorrowland.
Meanwhile, I had the highest expectations you can possibly imagine for Pitch Perfect 2 (Anna Kendrick and a capella… what could possibly go wrong?) and was marginally underwhelmed. What made 22 Jump Street funny was the constant reference to the fact that the film was basically exactly the same recipe as the first one, just with a larger budget. What made Pitch Perfect 2 unfunny and unlikeable for me was the obvious reliance on the popularity of the first movie… with a bigger budget. All/most of the song choices fall flat. Hailee Steinfeld works wonders, but as one of the few characters that is not recurring, this is not a huge surprise. When it was all over, I wanted to watch Pitch Perfect just to cleanse my soul of this gross attempt at a continuation of the original story.
Lately I have not been my usual cloud pic loving self, so I was glad to find this gem on my phone. I love a good sunset, but I think we can all agree the cloudy sky is what steals the show. I don’t know if the business (or rather, routine chaos) of my life is keeping me from taking stock of the natural beauty we get to see every day or what. But I hope I have more pictures of the sky to share come the end of July.
At the beginning of June I decided I wanted a haircut change without actually sacrificing the length of my hair. I honestly feel like I have been growing it out for years, when in reality it’s probably only been a couple of months or so. Either way, I decided to try out an undercut. I didn’t really get it as short as I’d have liked, and it’s definitely subtle– but I suspect this is a good thing. Better safe than sorry re: hairstyles. Always.
I spent the entire month of May completing a series of style dares on Instagram (most of the evidence has since been deleted because, you know, I have that ability…) so June’s style was severely lacking. That, and I don’t think you’d be surprised to find that spending most of my time at work does nothing to inspire my inner fashionista.
This blog is horrifically long and I am a monster.