Brands and blogs

I follow a little over 1,000 people on Twitter. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to segment these accounts into groups, lists, and categories multiple times. I’d say a third are involved in television (whether they write for TV or about TV), a third are in fashion (brands, bloggers, websites), and a third are miscellaneous.

That is a fairly broad and rudimentary way of organizing everyone.

Within those aforementioned groups – let’s take ‘fashion,’ for example – there’s brands (Kate Spade, J. Crew, DKNY), blogs (Byrdie, Refinery29, College Prepster), and prominent people in the industry (Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street Journal, Tom & Lorenzo, and Aliza Licht).

The problem is, well, Aliza runs the @DKNYPRGirl as a person, not so much as an overall Donna Karan/DKNY brand voice. Does Carly, the sole person behind College Prepster, belong in the ‘blogs’ or ‘people’ group? Granted, it’s my list and I could define the terms of each however I want, the trouble is when I encounter those accounts that blur the potential lines.

Then there’s the publishing outlets, Elle, Harper’s Baazar, WWD, W Magazine, and The Cut (of New York Magazine). In turn, these outlets have writers and editors that I follow, and thus the cycle of sorting begins once more – and it’s usually around this point that I think “why am I bothering to do this anyways? They all have on common denominator: I follow them.”

Or, I could simply throw all reason out the window and divide everyone I’m following by people/blogs/etc, but then I’d have Aliza Licht in with half of the BuzzFeed staff, Refinery29 with LevoLeague and The Black List and chaos would reign.

The more I think about this, the more I realize I do this in most aspects of my life. I organize and compartmentalize my books (fiction and nonfiction, then further sorted alphabetically by title), and my clothes (one closet is professional, one closet is casual, then both are sorted by sleeve length, material and color) with such precision that I’ve gotten down to a science at this point. My Gmail labels are for a whole other post.

Why my resolution is to work out less

We are ten days into the new year, and many people are still dutifully hitting the gym or the running trails (if it’s not too cold!) to keep up with their resolutions. Meanwhile, today is the first time in a long while that I can recall not working out two days in a row. And I am completely okay with that.

At school, I’d work out six days a week. M-F, 6:30 a.m., I’d be at the gym ready for my 40 minutes cardio and 20 minutes weights. Saturdays I usually used football games as my workout (easily 10,000+ steps, not a lot of tailgate food). But, I was exhausted. This regimented routine was wearing me down and I needed a break.

Well, I got that in the form of “unemployment,” or, a less severe title: “recent grad.” For the past three weeks, with the holidays and everything, my daily schedule has wildly fluctuated. I’ve started waking up around 7, 7:30, now I’m looking at 8:00 a.m. My workouts has shifted from the bike at the gym to the treadmill at home – in the afternoons. The biggest thing I’ve realized about this, is that it is all completely okay.

It’s okay if one day’s workout wasn’t as intense as another’s, or if I didn’t hit my target mileage. I have become a self-imposed robot that This. Is the Way. Things. Must. Be. Done. But life isn’t like that. I’m learning to be a bit more flexible and get some more sleep.

Hello, 2015!!

2014 was a whirlwind year. As usual, the twelve months flew by and I loved nearly every moment of it. In the past few weeks alone I’ve gone from “student” to “unemployed college graduate,” and I’m spending my final hours of 2014 with two of my best friends.

As we enter the new year, I’ll be actively applying to any job I am remotely qualified for. There is one job, associate account executive, at my top ad agency, 360i (you know their work, even if you don’t know them). I’ve admired 360i for a while, having met someone at the company nearly four years ago. They’re simply the best at what they do. They have a growing digital presence and I think I would fit in with the company and its culture perfectly. I just need to get my application noticed. And then get an interview. And then get hired.

Throughout all my internships, my bosses have said the same things about me: I’m passionate. I’m driven. I’m committed. I can do all the work the aforementioned 360i position requires, I just need to convey that in a short cover letter (which is hard for a chatty person like myself). I think advertising is fun, and I really want to work in the industry – my Dean of Careers at school said I am looking for a job in the ‘digital communications field,’ but I could’ve told you that.

People have been asking “well, if you could work anywhere, where would it be?” And my replies have distilled down to “In house? NBC. Agency? 360i.” It’s that simple. Granted – I would also love to work in fashion, in which case I’d look towards J. Crew or Kate Spate (and maybe transition in merchandising!?), or at a place like BuzzFeed that, beyond the listicles and cat articles, is doing some very incredible work and currently has 40+ jobs open in editorial alone.

But I digress. Anyways, here’s to an even better year in 2015 than 2014. It’ll be a tough one to top, but I don’t doubt there are some great things in store.

On graduation and officially being ‘unemployed’

Time flies, really fast. The past three and a half years have been a blur of exams, papers, classes, projects, waking up unnecessarily early, staying up late for the hell of it, making friends, keeping those friends in my tight clutch, making more friends, joining organizations, liking some of those orgs more than others, branching out of my comfort zone, and overall, turning from a scared freshman who yearned for the comforts of home to a graduated college student who is chomping at the bit to start her career.

Whew. What a rush.

The last two months, particularly, feel like one long week. One long week that I wish didn’t end so soon. As my mom puts it (accurately), “Kristina, you were just hitting your stride.” Yeah, I was. I was finally 21 and finally having a lot of fun with a lot of different, fantastic people. If I were to go back to school next semester, I would probably have a whirlwind four months and never want to leave college.

But I am glad I graduated early. If only so I can from ‘student’ to ‘unemployed’ a little bit earlier than some other friends. IMG_1159

People have been asking me what it feels like to be done, and I’ve been giving them all the same reply: it feels empty. There’s nothing on my horizon. No classes I scheduled months ago. No job I’ll be reporting to at a certain date. It’s liberating, sure, for now. I’m not exactly kicking back with my feet up, but here’s how I see it: it is still ‘the holidays’ for another week. There’s no reason to stressfully apply to every job I see right now.

I’m not saying I’m going to take a two month vacation from reality, living with my mom and ignoring the realities of real life setting in. I’m still actively searching for jobs, but no company is posting a job on Christmas day for an assistant/junior position. My mental deadline is February 1. That’s when I’ll start to get anxious, maybe reevaluate my application process. But for now, I’m just a recent grad in a strange limbo between college and the start the next chapter.

I might not finish NaNoWriMo… and that’s okay

It’s November. To some people that means the start of Christmas season, Thanksgiving, football, Starbucks holiday drinks, peppermint, and an overall enjoyable month. To others, it means all that and a mental marathon for the ages: NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.

I tackled this task last year and won – barely crossing the finish line – and I have pretty much been on a high for the last eleven months because of it. It has always been my intention to make writing a 50,000+ words in 30 days a personal annual event, but just my second time out of the gate, I don’t think I’m going to get very far.

I probably won’t complete NaNoWriMo, and that’s okay.

If I don’t, it just shows how busy I’ve been in other aspects of my life. I’m job searching, writing and reporting for Hypable, studying for exams, spending time with friends before I graduate, spending time with family during Thanksgiving break before I move out… all these things that yes, this year, are more important than writing a book.

NaNoWriMo means something. It stands for something – and it’s not “I’m going to become a published author.” It’s “I pushed myself, and I accomplished something.” You don’t run a marathon with the hopes of winning. You run to prove to yourself you can do it (sometimes. On that note – I’m thinking about trying to start running some 10k’s and half-marathons. Am I crazy?)

So yes, I have a story, and I have a few thousand words already under my belt, but this month will be used to get the ball rolling, even if it takes me a few months to hit that all-important 50k. I’m still writing extensively. But writing these 400 words for this post were more important that writing 400 words for my story.

I’m writing a feature piece about November ratings sweeps for Hypable that is going to be very detailed and researched. That will be 1,000 words I could have written of a fictional novel that is unlikely to see the light of day.

I’m glad I’m involved in NaNoWriMo – the pep talks and encouragement and community are amazing – but it’s fine if I don’t finish the challenge come November 30.

So much has happened that really nothing has happened

It has been a busy few weeks. But it’s been so busy, that there really hasn’t be anything notable to report on. The first half of October predictably flew by in a blur, and I wholly expect the second half to speed by just the same. I’m getting into the second week of midterms, my birthday is in a couple of days, I just got back from an insane weekend with the PRSSA exec board, and I’m starting to rev up my engines to apply to jobs.

I feel bad – guilty – that I haven’t been updating on here as much as I should. That I’ve been neglecting this part of my life over the past few weeks. But I’m trying to let go of that self-imposed pressure and just do what I can. School is top priority, with Hypable and PRSSA not far behind. Then comes this site and some other things. But at the end of the day – literally, around 10 or 11 p.m., I am passed out, exhausted.

The Penn State PRSSA exec board representatives at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the conference.

The Penn State PRSSA exec board representatives at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the conference.

It’s interesting. At the PRSSA National Conference I attended in Washington D.C. this past weekend with eight other seniors on the Penn State PRSSA executive board, I really learned something. I learned that it’s important to strive for the job in the industry you want. Not the one you think you should have. Or the first one that comes along, offering a steady job and paycheck in a city you’re just so-so about.

That and you’ve got to be able to write. In high school, had no idea how important that skill was outside the world of arbitrary SAT/AP test scores. But then I started actually getting pretty good grades on my AP Lit essays. And then I started writing for Hypable when it was hardly a year old with a few hundred thousand monthly views. Now it’s three and a half years old, we have over four million hits a month, I’m writing better than ever before, and I feel like I have the confidence in my writing I’ll need as I apply to entry-level positions.

I’ll be taking my senior pictures soon, and we’re getting into the final 50 days of my undergraduate career. As Billy Eichner would say, “and here… we… go!”

You make your own luck (Rabbit, Rabbit!)

I forget what book I read it in – some lifestyle/non-fiction/How To book – but there was entire section devoted to the author’s opinion about luck and lack thereof. He said that we don’t have luck. No one is hit with a lucky stick. Just like no one is unlucky for “just because” reasons.

Shattering a mirror doesn’t give you seven years of bad luck, being born with Mercury in retrograde isn’t good luck (in fact – a planet being in ‘retrograde’ has little to no bearing on life on Earth. It just means we’re moving at a particularly different speed than other planets and have caught up/ surpassed them, so it looks like they’re moving backwards for a hot minute. Or something like that – Astro 006 was a few years ago.)

You make your own luck.

You make the choices that lead your life down certain paths. Drinking to excess will leave you with a terrible hangover the next day. So you feel sick and are late for class. That’s not bad luck – that’s the result of a bad decision. Getting out there and meeting people who can potentially set you up with a job post-graduation isn’t good luck. It’s your hard work and dedication paying off.

Luck is defined (yep, we’re going there) as “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” And I wholeheartedly disagree with that. ‘Brought by chance’ simply means someone else’s decisions have affected you, either positively or negatively, in the Rube Goldberg-like machine that we call life.

It’s October 1st. Perhaps ironically, I/we say “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of the month to “ensure good luck for the duration of that month” according to British tradition. But me saying a few words today won’t mean I’ll float through the month unscathed. I think of it as more of just a superstition – if I don’t say it, bad things might happen. But since I cannot predict the future nor peek into alternate timelines, we’ll never know would have happened to me if I didn’t.

I got in the habit once, after I read the passage I mentioned at the top of this post (I really wish I remember where I read that), of hushed-whispering “you do not make your own luck” whenever a friend mentioned his or her good or bad luck. But if some people wish to believe in it for their own sanity, who am I to tell them otherwise?

Here’s to a marvelous final quarter, 2014. October, November and December are progressively my favorite months. October is insane, with going out of town next weekend, and already looking toward my next exam week (and – ahem – a very important birthday). It doesn’t help that I’ve got November 1 circled with a big red pen on my calendar – Penn State vs. University of Maryland in football. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

How I Stay Organized

I pride myself on being organized. Sure, that term might be a bit broad, and sometimes it is organized chaos, but whether it’s in the physical world – my closet, my jewelry, my class notes – or the digital – my computer’s files, my Gmail, Hypable articles – I firmly believe in “a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.”

Lately, I’ve had a few friends come to me, looking to mimic my insane organization skills. They’ve asked what apps do you use? How do you organize your calendar? Do you know you’re insane? My answers:

  • A lot of them. Wunderlist and Evernote Premium being the top two, Gmail’s Task tab, too.
  • Meticulously. I use my Mac’s Calendar app, and Google Calendar (and I have a wall calendar), then I have an app on my iPad that combines the two.
  • Yeah, I’m not too concerned about it.

The truth is, I just make sure I always have everything written down. I have three sizes of sticky notes on my desk – squares for quick reminders, larger lined squares for short lists, and a large one to make a ‘run-down’ of whatever (groceries, To Do Today, To Do For COMM 424…). The notes app on my iPhone acts as the virtual sticky when I’m thinking about something when I’m out.

Have you ever had a brilliant idea or question or cure to cancer pop into your head right as you’re drifting off? It happens to writers a lot, but then they go to sleep and wake the next more, trying to scratch the itch that the idea left behind. This is why one of the key pieces of advice for writers (novice or expert) is to keep a journal next to your bed and write it down. I do this for everything. If I have a question for a professor, I’ll quickly type it into a note. Or if I realized a great blog post topic, I’ll write it down.

To become organized, the key is stream-of-conscious writing. Don’t overthink it. You have a million tasks buzzing around in your head, so the best way to make sense of them is to sit down and write/type it all out. An example of what a Google Task list would look like:

  • Write reflection on Case 1 for COMM 419
  • Write and schedule ‘The Mindy Project’ season 3 premiere article
  • Blog post: organization
  • Email X and Y about Z
  • Make sure rooms are scheduled for PRSSA meeting Tuesday

Then, you know to start from the top and just knock ‘em out. You don’t feel like doing Task 1 now? Too bad, probably won’t feel like doing it later, either.
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Full Steam ahead!

We are already two weeks into the semester. Or, depending on how you look at it, we are just two weeks into the semester. In some ways, it feels like time is flying by, but in other regards, I know we’re only just getting started.

Looking ahead, I’m already thinking about my first round of midterms in two weeks, and working to build my major advertising capstone project with my amazing group (Full Steam Communications Advertising!) that’s worth more than 50% of my grade, when all told.

We’re getting into the thick of September now, and with it, my org groups meetings are regularly scheduled, and television is coming back. Today has been spent typing up all my hand-written notes from classes, contacting some professors about questions and making sure I have everything in order. No missing assignments!

In the meantime, I’ve been learning a lot. Technically, I’ve only had nine days of classes so far – none of Fridays and Labor Day was last Monday – but I cannot fathom at how much I’ve already learned in my Mass Comm Law class (COMM 403 for you fellow Penn Staters). The court systems and laws are interesting enough, but the loopholes and first amendment technicalities are endlessly fascinating to me.

All in all, I am juggling so many different projects, organizations, classes, and posts that I feel like I really need to make to-dos out the wazoo to keep everything organized.

And on Day 3, I figured out how to code a (very simple) website (sorta)

One week down, fourteen more to go in this Fall semester. Time is a-flying!

I’d like to take you back to this past Wednesday – my third day of classes. I am taking an online class, Art 003: Web Design and Visuals for the Web. Seems simple enough. I have a decent enough grasp on the fundamentals of images, ‘visuals’ and the like and how they’re used online.

Wrong. Oh I was so very wrong. As I was going to the syllabus I realized that I would have to actually learn how to code a website for the first assignment. I cracked open my textbook and tried to find an easy way to use CSS for the first time. It spelled mostly everything out and I already knew most of the fundamentals, but by and large: new territory.

So I got to work. I read the first twenty pages of the textbook – going beyond the assigned reading portion – and opened TextEdit on my computer to start writing the code. I had typed up what I thought were all 50 lines of correct code.

I typed this code! Then I read over it approximately one thousand times.

I typed this code! Then I read over it approximately one thousand times.

Then I started running into problems. The font was being read properly, the page was all misaligned, and the spacing between my paragraphs was irregular. Back and forth I went for an hour, carefully scanning each character looking for the error. I realized I was learning a whole new language. It felt like I was back in spanish class, knowing the general gist of the phrases I was reading, but not fully grasping every word.

Now, I’ve been around HTML a while. I use the basics for Hypable, such as italicizing and bolding. I can figure out how to resize images and align them certain ways, and I can get into a Tumblr blog’s theme code and change the colors of the page or the margin sizes. But goodness, actually creating something from nothing proved to be quite the task.

After finally reading through the chapter once more and inspecting the element (looking at the HTML of the example my professor posted), I took to looking around my classes’ site for HTML help.

Lo and behold: there is a generator where you can import a .html file and it’ll scan through, pointing out errors and, this is the best part, the reason why they are errors. A reasoning for the cause! My rational brain was so thankful. I went from 14 errors to 3 in one try (the back up to 17 with bad editing on my part) and finally, the message that I was free and clear of errors and my file was good to go!

This assignment isn’t due until September 8th, but I am so happy to have accomplished this task already.