Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks Living

Thanksgiving is to memory as the spoon is to the bowl,
it stirs the pot and gratitude of those things that render hearts full.

We're all thankful for this land, the freedom and democracy,
but most of all we're grateful for the little niceties.

For the utter thrill and joyous faith bestowed by those we love,
I thank the people who gave me hope and delivered me like a dove.

The year's been fraught with countless mistakes, some careless as the last,
but the presence of my steadfast friends has made irrelevant the past.

To all the people near and far, in high spirits or in low,
trust that friends will reveal your light, and confident tidings you shall sow.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Amanda :)

Snood/cape: Anthropologie (old).

All photos courtesy of Alex Zhu.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stride and Go Seek

What is expertise, and how do we learn it?  Does it refer exclusively to knowledge accrued in an educational or vocational setting, or can it also recognize achievements in time management, cooking, public speaking, care giving, team building, and gerrymandering?

Well, I believe it's the latter definition.  If you devote more than 15% of your waking life to a certain capacity, it's probably something at which you have worked hard to become adept.  Without such proficiency in frequent tasks, I for one would feel quite stressed until I allotted the time necessary to qualify myself for the job.

Nonetheless, the question remains, Who teaches us these essential, if mundane skills?  Is it our teachers, our parents, our friends, strangers, ourselves?  How do we know where to look for guidance in the first place?

While many of us are blessed with amazing role models who share insight and even teach us some of these skills themselves, every one of us is likely to encounter a situation in which prior wisdom and direction simply cannot help us.  What can we do in such instances?

This past week was one of the most hectic of my life, for a number of reasons, but primarily because I was tasked with the overwhelming duty of soliciting dozens of food donations for an upcoming fundraiser.  Granted, the fundraising chair should be a little less clueless in her navigations of the donation domain, but it's tough when you're the sole person assigned to this task, without much counsel and with plenty of criticism.

When it comes to onerous jobs like fundraising, the truth of the matter is you're not going to find a lot of helpers offering up their assistance nilly willy.  While still respecting others' time and your own responsibilities to the task, you've got to take the initiative and ask for help from colleagues, friends, passersby--wherever you can get it and whenever you need it.  If you can't think of a relevant specialist off the top of your head, chances are one of your contacts will surprise you.

No matter what any higher power (or your parents) intended for you in this life, I know it didn't involve complete solitude and independence.  Don't be afraid to recruit the expertise of the billions of other humans out there, for their example will very likely mold your own approach for the better, and will perhaps foster a degree of camaraderie in the process.

~While staying true to her own technique, she admired her surroundings and all she could seek.~

Ask someone for help this week. :)

Hat: BCBG Max Azria (old).  Blazer: J. Crew (old; similar here).  Shirt: J. Crew (old; similar here).  Tie: J. Crew (old).  Coat: Saks Fifth Avenue (old.)

All photos courtesy of Alex Zhu.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mind and Matter

I say with absolute ardor and sincerity that knowledge absorption is nothing less than a pleasure, and formal education, nothing less than a gift.  

The people most intimately embroiled in and/or capable of astounding the higher education journey are also those most oft to lose sight of its value.  Particularly in high-stress scholastic arenas like Northwestern University, students sometimes prefer to bash their professors and lament their workload than to redirect such passion into enacting sustainable change in the public discourse.

Rather than pinpointing each negative externality that accompanies formal study, students would be much better off sifting out the necessary evils and inviting a process of long-term goal planning to the forefront.  Once these bright young scholars realize precisely how favorable and rich their position is, their outlook, academic performance, and psychological well-being are bound to improve.

A certain unexpected and alarming event this week forced me to consider where I would be without my current academic resources.  Were everything I regrettably took for granted to instantly disappear, how could I reconstruct my path to law school and beyond in a timely and equally formidable way?  

Honestly, I don't think I could achieve most of my life's goals without the college education so many of us shamefully criticize more than we do praise it.  Sure, a long road of enhancement, inclusion, and innovation awaits this school as it continues to strive toward its potential, but the plain and simple truth is that we are inexplicably fortunate to have the role models we do and to live in a country where such edifying centers exist to ultimately uplift us. 

What exactly is formal education, and why is it so important, you ask?  Well, it's an institution or a set thereof that welcomes energetic young minds and provides the support and materials necessary to produce the most confident, accomplished, diverse, and clever people around.  These are people who will develop the cure, fight the fight, and change the world.

No prize is more perfect than that.

Go show me what you've got!
Amanda ;)

Dress: Theory (old).  Necklace: J. Crew (old).  Coat: Ann Taylor (old).  Tights: Express.  Shoes: Urban Outfitters (old).

All photos by Alex Zhu.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Elements and Style

My brief yet powerful reflection of the day can be summed up (surprisingly) in one sentence: 

Nothing in life is a given, so make the absolute most of every opportunity, quality, and conviction you've got.  

Live freely, but also judiciously.

Gratefully yours, 
Amanda :)

Dress: Topshop (old; similar herehere, and here.)  Mask: Pier 1.  Shoes: Ann Taylor.

All photos courtesy of Alex Zhu.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Never a Moment Too Late

Your lover, your best friend, your roommate, your coworker, your boss, that guy down the street who delivers chicken wings.  

Do you think they would have ever assumed those particular titles had you judged them based on your first five minutes of interaction?  Not even the chicken wing guy would be who he is today had you not given him a second chance.

Over the past several weeks, I have spent many moments in contemplation over the friendships I have lost and those I retain today.  Much to my surprise, I have concluded that most of the people who emitted the most effervescent impressions are no longer my friends.  For good reason, a falling out ensued once I  became aware of the sheer contrivances and underlying complexes lining their behavior.

In contrast, some of my dearest friends to this day are those whom, at first encounter, I may have considered relatively bland or under-enthused.  Once fate awarded me a second opportunity for reconnaissance, however, I realized just how refreshingly down-to-Earth and strong these people were.  Though imperfect, these individuals possessed all the qualities I had always valued, before flashes of pretension beguiled me.

It's precisely those people who don't feel the urge to put on a show whenever they meet someone new whom you want to know.  Otherwise, you never know when you're getting the performance or just the curtains.

Take your time,
Amanda :)

Vest: Ralph Lauren (old).  Tank: Similar here.  Pants: Ann Taylor.  Hat: Banana Republic (old).  Scarf: Adrienne Landau (old; similar here).  Bag: Louis Vuitton.

All photos courtesy of Eric Pan.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hued Awakening

College really is the petri dish of all things rude and awakening.

Friday night presented me with quite the whirlwind tour of all that's amiss in my life, from my lack of organization skills to the consequences of my procrastination to my tendency to overbook myself.  I felt as though I disappointed about ten different people that night, each for a unique reason, but all under the blanket of frazzled cluelessness.

First, I invited my friend to take pictures for this very blog.  Seeing as though I trip over something in my room five times on average every time I step into it, I of course hadn't prepared a systematic outfit lineup for the photo shoot.  In the midst of frantic foraging, my friend Christine surprised me at my door, expecting a quiet evening of homework and good cheer.  My dear girl didn't know what she was getting herself into.

As soon as I managed to scrounge up a silver sequin backless dress amidst that pigsty, we all adjourned to the lakefront, at which point it began to sprinkle cold and heartache on my friends as they snapped countless pictures of me in dismal solitude. O__O

Alright, that last paragraph was mostly for comedic effect, but seriously, my night only reached higher echelons of oblivion as it came time for my roommate dinner.  I already felt indebted to my friends for braving the tumultuous conditions of Chicago Early-Mid Fall, so I decided to bring them with me to this pre-scheduled dinner, unbeknownst to my future roommates.  Given that this tomfoolery only measured about a 3.5 on my Trick-ter Scale, I figured now was the time for my future mates to decide whether such antics would knock me out of the roommate equation.

Much to my relief, they did not, and everyone had a great time intermingling on common bonds of Amanda vexation.  Hey, works for me!

Subsequent to the mounting chaos and failed comedic undertones, I realized there are two ways to approach such rude awakenings.  For one, you can dwell on them and ultimately change nothing about your routine in the long run.  Or, two, you can transmute the angst into motivation to be better, to do better, and to live better.  I think I'll choose the latter.  Trust me, life is much better here on Earth than it is in outer space.

May gravity be your deliverance,
Amanda :)

Dress: Paperdolls Boutique (St. Louis).  Hat: Urban Outfitters (old; love this one).  Gloves: J. Crew (old).  Bag: J. Crew (old).  Shoes: Urban Outfitters (old; love these).

Photos by Eric Pan.