* I wanted to share this post I wrote shortly after I lost my dear friend Liz four years ago. Feel free to share your memories of Liz in the comments. XO Emma
I was watching aliens save children from the apocalypse when I realized just how much I miss Liz. A maudlin scene involving extraterrestrial empathy was just the kind of thing that would have sent the two of us into hysterics - and gotten us kicked out of our favorite movie theater. Early in our friendship, Liz and I realized that we harbored the same shameful taste in movies and love of the absurd. Regardless of target demographic (who knew you had to be under thirteen to appreciate Twilight?) we would be there, providing each other with the running commentary that could make any movie a memorable experience.
Of course there was more to our friendship than subpar movies and shared tubs of popcorn. Whether I needed an unbiased opinion about a personal problem or a guide to the opening notes of my favorite John Mayer song, Liz was there for me, helping decisions get made, working chord progressions out before my eyes. Liz didn’t simply tolerate your idiosyncrasies - she reveled in them, and that goes a long way in explaining why her counsel had such great value. Her altruistic nature played the same role in friendships that it did in her service work, which astonished and inspired me. When Liz returned from her first trip to Africa, she described the charisma and courage of the people she met as well as the painful inequality she witnessed. Smart and intuitive, wise far beyond her years, constantly working and learning. At first, it amazed me, but in a very short time it was taken for granted. When Liz meditated on her second trip, her plans for a third, or told stories about the EMT work she accomplished in between, the unbelievability of it all waned, thanks to Liz’s matter-of-fact delivery.
Perhaps what I loved most about Liz was that she didn’t take herself or anyone else too seriously. I wasn’t any less of a person because my knowledge of Uganda stemmed from watching The Last King of Scotland. If anyone could have claimed the moral high ground, it would have been Liz, but she never did. She saw her service work as valuable and not optional, but she also cared deeply about the passions and goals of everyone else. Our conversations were never one-sided, and even though I never considered my own life particularly interesting or meaningful, it was clear that Liz disagreed.
Thinking about life without my dear friend makes me want to retreat from the world, and for a couple of days I did just that. However, I’ve come to realize that grief-derived inaction, appealing as it may be, is no way to honor Liz’s legacy. Liz was an original; she left an indelible mark on those who knew her. She also left us her core belief, as she expressed it in an article about her first trip to Uganda: “Somewhere, in the face of all of this chaos, despite all of this human suffering, we manage to find Hope, and Light, and Love.”
Someone once told me that in order to keep people engaged in your blog, you should plan to post at least two to three times a week. Well…that is not happening, but I hope my sporadic content is engaging nevertheless.
Frequent travel is partly to blame for my idle blogging. Before I set off on my most recent trip, I had grand notions of writing posts from 30,000 feet in the air, but reading “US Weekly” and catching up on episodes of “90210” on my iPad won out.
I can say unequivocally that “90210” is the best show on television. Let me qualify this: I may be 24, but I have a teenager’s appetite for TV. Perhaps this is because I kind of missed out on the whole turbulence of teeangerdom. I had a rather tame high school experience and my junior prom night ended with my best friend and me eating Ho Hos on the couch instead of in the back of a police car, a tattoo parlor, or at some all-night rager. (Is that still a relevant term? Was it ever?)
I embrace my bad taste and will chat about it with anyone who will listen. On the plane ride home from my trip to California where someone was arrested for saying “Hola, hola hola” over the PA system (I swear this is true!), I bonded with my seatmate over our tweeny proclivities. During a bit of turbulence which coincided with the air marshal handcuffing the rowdy passenger, she asked me if Dylan and Kelly were still together or if Brenda was still up to no good in the new series. I’m pretty sure if I had been reading a copy of “The Economist,” she wouldn’t have reached out to me and we would have braved the bumpy air in silence.
I feel no shame in knowing the plotlines of “Pretty Little Liars” or “The Vampire Diaries.” While some people might use this paragraph to showcase the other side of their personality, elucidating on their love of Greek mythology, Victorian literature or the genius of Anne Roiphe, I trust that those reading this blog know that I am indeed not an airhead desperate to be sixteen again. When my dad was sick and things were generally grim, cheesy nighttime soaps were an escape from the hell of hospitals. Now that my life is in order, but is still busy, busy, byst (perfect place to plug the NYT’s “busy” article) these shows allow me to unfurrow my brow, turn my brain off and power down. I also trust that if you know me, you support/encourage my decision to shut up and sit in front of the television for an hour or two a day…
**For those of you who share my questionable taste in TV, you will definitely enjoy posts by Troy Patterson, a hilarious television critic for Slate. His review of Bunheads on ABC Family is particularly amusing…
At 17, I believed I was destined for Washington. I wore my bleeding heart on my sleeve during every school debate. My scintillating newspaper editorials on Rwanda, gun control, the absurdity of students being allowed to ride bikes without helmets, and the inaccuracy of “The West Wing,” were read by a captive audience of 300 students at a Long Island Quaker school. With two consecutive years at an expensive, Ivy League debate camp under my belt, I felt like I knew how to hold my own against liberal detractors. Before I left for college, I even begged my mom to buy me a Banana Republic power suit, so I would be prepared to hobnob with the politicos in Manhattan.
I didn’t end up needing the suit. After my first political science course at Barnard, confidence in my life plan started to waver. As it turned out, many of my peers had similar political aspirations and a dogged competitiveness that I did not possess. When pressed by my peers on my political opinions, I often couldn’t justify my beliefs and just parroted what I heard on NPR or the BBC. While my political internships during college were rewarding, these jobs fueled my interest in corporate and political communication more than anything else.
Like most of you, I’m eager to watch the first Romney/Obama debate tonight. While my 17 year old self would be frantically taking notes on policy stances and seizing on every inconsistent fact cited by a candidate, I now watch with a different intent. My dad was a corporate speechwriter and I always respected how he was able to craft a sales pitch or launch presentation into something enjoyable. Once when he was working on a presentation for a new esophageal aid, he wittily told me that his ultimate goal as a speechwriter was to make “important points digestible for an audience.”
Much had been made of Obama’s oratory erudition, but after Romney’s recent snafus, I imagine that his press team has been working hard to finesse his public speaking skills and that he will prove to be a formidable opponent. I believe that the delivery of a political message is nearly as important as the message itself, and I’m curious to see the strategies employed by both candidates and the subsequent reactions to the debate on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.
Hopefully, America won’t need an antacid come 10:30 tonight…
**If you’re interested, here’s a great Q&A with Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and author of Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama, about how emergent social media is changing the dynamic of political rhetoric for the upcoming presidential election: http://www.cjr.org/swing_states_project/qa_daniel_kreiss_assistant_pro.php?page=all&print=true
“You are all goddesses of the earth, beautiful, glistening goddesses who spin for a better world.”
It is 7:30 P.M. at the Upper East Side Soulcycle studio and class has just begun. I’m not feeling like a glistening goddess (more like a sweating pig or an unscrupulous woman in a place of worship) and I’m spinning to look better in my neon-colored (and extremely unforgiving) skinny jeans, not to cultivate a better world.
It’s dark inside Studio A, and I’m thankful that no one can see me.
FLY INTO THE WIND.
THIS IS A B.S. FREE ZONE
Uh oh, I guess the instructor CAN actually see me. The fit-bodied, platitude loving man is standing perilously close, screaming directives with a sadistic smile. I’m pretty sure my Degree deodorant fails to live up to its promise of protection, as he scampers off immediately after imparting his wisdom. I pedal in earnest for a while, going faster and faster, until the instructor moves completely out of my sight line (I believe he has transitioned into writhing on the floor to Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave to You”) and I promptly slump back into my bike seat.
At $32 dollars a class, I can’t really afford to like Soulcycle, but I don’t just like it—I LOVE it. This cycling studio is the latest addition to my faddish exercise diet which also consists of ballet-inspired workouts, hot yoga, and “Big Ricky’s boot camp” (yes, I was once a regular at “Big Ricky’s boot camp”). I was never athletic growing up and upon moving to the city six years ago, I made it my mission to get in shape and look ridiculous doing so.
I can never do everything asked by the spandex clad instructors, but whenever I do something right (as infrequent as that might be), I love getting a high-five or “You go girl!” Is this validation why people love sports?
Whether twisting myself into a pretzel in 105 degree heat or furiously pedaling a bike headed nowhere, I love the collective frenzy of a workout class and I love post workout celebratory frozen yogurt even more…
Uncoordinated since 1992…..(That would be me on the right, in case you couldn’t tell…)
When I was a junior at Barnard, I served as the editor of the New York City living section for the Bulletin, my college’s monthly magazine. As editor, I scored lots of free things: tickets to concerts, movies, and gallery openings, self-help books on how to “ensnare a wealthy Wall Street banker” (not a joke), exercise classes (I still have an unused pass to “naked yoga” if anyone is interested), and more. Some of my old articles are certainly cringe-worthy and pretentious (my post-structuralist review of “Juno” is particularly insightful), but my gumption and unabashed love of all things New York is something that I wish to have once again and share with others.
So what has changed in the past four years? Well, quite a lot actually.
For starters, I don’t live in Manhattan anymore. I now reside in a grown-up apartment (2 whole rooms and a kitchenette!) in Jersey City with my boyfriend of four years.
I know that leggings are not pants.
Frozen yogurt is no longer a staple in my diet.
I sadly now have to pay for my entertainment and exercise classes.
Perhaps the biggest change over the past four years is the loss of my editor and best friend, my dad. After a short, yet devastating battle with cancer, I lost my father last February. If you know me or had the pleasure of knowing my dad, you understand just how close our bond was and how much he is missed. My dad was a masterful writer of both corporate speeches and irreverent blog posts; my love of words and books is all a product of his passion for language.
For the past year and a half I have distanced myself from writing, instead dedicating myself to my job (which I love!), my wonderful, brilliant mom and friends old and new. Now for whatever reason, I’m at a point where I’d like to throw writing back into my routine. This blog will be lighthearted and whimsical, and hopefully enjoyable to read.
From jeans to chambray shirts, we can’t get enough of all things blue. Here, a few ways to wear our favorites.
CHAMBRAY SONGBIRD DRESS
Wheelspoke Pendant Necklace
The Chronicle Bag
The Barnwood Boot
SILK WAVEFORM CAMI DRESS
thank you madewell for legitimizing my love of all things chambray.