I signed up to study abroad during my junior year of college. An entire semester in Spain designed to immerse students into the culture, learn about the history, and live with a host family who spoke zero English.
Literally, zero. No habla. Just a Madre and a padre who discussed current affairs every night at the dinner table (I'm guessing, I actually had very little idea what they were talking about. Like I said, everything was in Spanish, and they talked so fast!), and a host brother who was super into Shakira. My roommate and I heard the song Rabiosa through the thin walls of our piso AT LEAST once a day.
Spending a semester in Spain sounded like a great opportunity. I mean, yea, my Spanish skills sucked - even after two semesters of the basics, my ability to string a sentence together usually went like this: "Hola. Como estas? Chaqueta, biblioteca, gracias, tienes un pluma?" Which Google Translate will tell you means: "Hi. How are you? Jacket, library, thank you, do you have a pen?" Clearly, I was ready to navigate a foreign country.
We went hiking on one of our first dates. I say "one of" because neither of us can remember which "one" it was. I think it was the sixth or seventh, and Kyle thinks it was, "Maybe the fourth? Fifth? I don't know."
Here's what I can tell you - it was late enough in the game that we were comfortable spending an hour and twenty minutes in the car together, yet it must have been in the EARLY stages, because I remember waking up at 6 AM to shower and "get ready".
Get ready. For hiking.
A day in the woods. Weaving through trees. Climbing over rocks. Walking through spiderwebs. Doing that thing people do where they take really big, wide steps over puddles and act all, "What? Like it's hard?"
Contrary to popular belief - working in the fashion industry was never really my "dream". People always assumed it was because A) I wanted to move to New York City, and B) I liked to go shopping.
That's it. There was also a brief stint during my childhood when I begged my parents to let me pursue a career in modeling because the lady at the mall from the Barbizon Modeling School told me that I could. For a fee. But she thought I had a real "look", so the $750 application fee would be totally worth it.
To this day, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I'd just gone to the Barbizon Modeling School. Maybe that lady WASN'T just trying to scam me as a poor, unsuspecting eighth grader with low self-esteem, maybe I really did have "the look" - if that look was 'glasses and frizzy hair'. Instead my parents got hung up on that measly $750 application fee. Even though I was like, "The lady said it's TOTALLY worth it! I have THE LOOK." And my parents were like, "uh..." and I was like "The Barbizon lady said that! And she knows what she's talking about, SHE WORKS THERE."
Right. She works there. So, she said it because it's TRUE. Not because she's trying to scam my family out of nearly $1,000. She wouldn't do that, she was so nice.
The first time I brought Kyle home - like "home" home, as in "meet the parents" and "let's see how long it takes before my mom breaks out the baby pictures" home - it was Easter weekend. Of last year. He had met my parents once before when they were visiting in Chicago, but I had considered that more of a 'practice round'. A 'by the way, this is the guy I've been hanging out with -- see, I told you he's not a murderer!' sort of thing. This was the real meeting. The "family holiday" meeting. The "staying for a weekend" coup de gras (my parents live in Ohio, so it would have been tough to turn around and drive back after dinner.)
My parents are not the kind of parents who live to embarrass me. In fact, when my mom suggested "We should dig out those old home movies! Kyle, do you want to see Jennifer's first Christmas when she was a baby?"- my dad mumbled to my mom, "I thought we said we weren't going to embarrass her. Remember...?" and she was like, "Well, THAT'S not embarrassing! She was so cute! It's only the FIRST Christmas."
'It's only the FIRST Christmas'. Not the fourth or fifth when I turned into a real diva about Santa and got really specific with my
Barbie demands "Dear Santa" Christmas-list-letter.
So my parents dragged out the old home movies. And the baby pictures. And the articles I wrote for the county newspaper during my journalism internship as a high school senior.
"Did Jennifer tell you that she had a journalism internship as a HIGH SCHOOL senior?" my mom asked Kyle. And of course Kyle was like, "Why no, she didn't!"
Thank God for moms. Right?
Before we could even DISCUSS plans for Saint Patricks Day, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to go into the city. It's tradition that Chicago dumps green food coloring in the river that runs through the city, and the whole day is just one big-huge-ginormous Saint Patricks Day party. All of the people from all over the land come to Chicago to party it up. They wear green, and watch a parade, and have a grand ol' time.
And I told my boyfriend - again, before anyone ever said anything about Saint Patricks Day - "I want to do a blog post about it."
When I hear the term “capsule wardrobe”, I immediately think of it as a “time capsule” wardrobe. Not in a weird way – I don’t imagine putting all of my clothes into a box and digging it up in fifty years. But there’s something about the idea of a “capsule” that makes it feel timeless. Like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly. Not so much ‘the trends’ - just a classic, elegant style.
I’ll tell you that’s what I strive for – a ‘timeless, classic’ look – but what I’m not telling you is that I’ve been on a mad hunt over the past three weeks for one of those winter beanies with the fur pom. Or as I’ve been calling them “you know those hats with the fuzzy ball? Yea, I want one of those.” I don’t know if that look falls under “timeless” or “classic”, but I LIKE IT. Even though I'll be looking back at pictures with my grandchildren in fifty years and they will ask, “Why does your hat have a fuzzy ball hanging from it?”, and I’ll be like, “I don’t know. That was the style back then.” *Shrugs*
For the record, I couldn’t find one. The department stores swept those winter hats clean in January when they made room for their Spring collections. So, I’ll just have to stick with my regular, old, BORING, non-fuzzy-ball winter apparel until next year.
Full disclaimer: I am not a photographer. Sure, I take a lot of pictures – but that’s essentially all I am: a picture-taker. When purchasing a new camera, photographers are people who consider things like shutter speed, lens selection, aperture, and various camera-words-that-I-don’t-know-because-I’m-not-a-photographer. Meanwhile, in the other camp, a “picture-taker” will pick out a camera based on… “I don’t know, is it easy to use? Is it heavy? Do I have to know stuff about cameras to be able to use it? Will it take better pictures than my iPhone?”
These are all real questions that I asked when searching for a new camera.
Photographers don’t like picture-takers (I’m just guessing). At least they don’t like the picture-takers who like to call themselves photographers. (Again, I’m just guessing.) I feel like if I had taken a lot of time and practice to hone my craft, I’d be pretty annoyed with the person who shows up with an iPhone and an Instagram account and refers to themselves as a “photographer”. Congratulations, you officially have as much photography experience as Chrissy Teigen (who, for all I know, could actually be a very skilled photographer.)