.induction speech

In the days before my graduation ceremony I was inducted into the Wellesley College Alumnae Association. The induction ceremony felt long, though looking back it is easy to convince myself it was a few short minutes. I sat with cupcakes and champagne at a table filled with the women with whom I’d shared this spectacular journey. Sometimes, that moment seems like yesterday, other times it feels like another world entirely.

The induction speech was delivered by Professor Dan Chiasson of the English Department. I mostly remember listening to his words, waiting for the moment to sink in. In reality they’d be sucked into the tornado of graduation highs. Yesterday I reread the speech, catching every word, pausing at every joke and reflecting on every Wellesley reference. It was a perfect and watery-eyed moment, two years removed.

Life is long, and you spend much of it alone. What you fill that aloneness with is up to you: you can fill it with envy, or jealousy, or resentment, or with mere logistical planning, or with worry—I certainly spend many, many moments lost in all of the above. Or you can treat your inner life as merely a zone for imagining your outer circumstances: I’ve done plenty of that, imagining prestige, success, worldly triumph, glory, and all the rest. But I hate myself when I do it, and sometimes, when I am very, very down, it is because I simply have lost the ways I once had of being carried away by all those free or low-budget and repeatable experiences I am recommending. It is true: one has days when even poetry, even a slice of pizza with spaghetti and meatballs on top, fail to console. My dear friends, when you hit those dark patches, get thee to the weirdest, most out of the way and amazing falafel place, and order what the chefs eat.

Induction Speech, reposted on girl from the north country.

Thanks for sharing, @laur_saurus!

With a smile,

Monet

.giving back

Since I moved to New York in 2010, I’ve been looking for a way to give back and assert myself as a player in the mission for greater good. I wanted to volunteer my time, energy and skills to an organization that could use it.

In 2011, I volunteered with Girls Inc. of New York, an organization geared towards inspiring young girls to be strong, smart and bold. I went to East New York every few Saturdays to teach girls different leadership techniques. We went over standing up for yourself, being a good friend, recognizing positive role models, career development, saying “no” to peer pressure – the works. While I enjoyed working with those girls, I realized time wasn’t something I could always offer.

In parallel, I’d been thinking about ways to expand my experience, skills, and portfolio. Being an ambitious and driven person (toot toot), there are naturally things that I want to improve in my spare time. I’d like to be a baller UI/UX designer. I’d like to develop beautiful graphic designs for posters and flyers. I’d like to produce helpful and easily-digestible info-graphics. I want to know how to make a well-branded logo. It became pretty clear, though, that while these were things I was interested in and could be good at, I enjoyed my job and didn’t want a drastic career/field change to gain this exposure.

You know the saying “things will come as you’re ready for them”? That couldn’t be more true in this case. I’ve come to realize that at this point in my life I have the most happiness and the least stress than I’ve had in a very long time. I’m eager for change, a new challenge and a way to apply myself without being burdened by a mountain of personal stress and anxiety.

So what happens when I mixed a passion for giving back, the desire to work on career goals and the benefit of having a clear mind that’s ready for a challenge? I received an email with a handful of volunteer opportunities using my skills! (Okay, this email went to my entire company, but I can volunteer my skills!)

The next day, I applied for a project through Catchafire and was paired with Athena Collaborative Group working on a Graphic Design project! I picked Athena Collaborative group because:

Athena Collaborative Group is a nonprofit organization that delivers development programs that both expand the pipeline of female talent and the opportunities for women to thrive in quantitative careers.

Exciting! The project will begin in the next few weeks. More to come!

With a smile,

Monet

.is everyone hanging out without me? by mindy kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out WIthout Me? (And Other Concerns)Book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author: Mindy Kaling (“Kelly” from The Office)

Rating: ****

Thoughts: This book is hilarious and light. Not a combination I’m used to reading, let alone enjoying, but it worked. Kelly, er – I mean Mindy, is real, down to earth and confident in all of her quirks. Maybe that’s her comedic side coming through. This book is appropriate to read at once (I finished it in a few short days) or read a chapter here and there. It’s low commitment, high energy and full of laughs. WARNING: Take caution when reading this in public places, as random and insuppressible laughter is highly possible and frequent.

Favorite quotes:

  • “Video games scare me because they all seem to simulate situations I’d hate to be in, like war or stealing cars.”
  • “One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.
  • “The sight of a fat child falling, lifeless, from a high distance into a pond is kind of an amazing sight, I’ll bet.”

Okay, I admit that last one is a bit weird out of context but the story was priceless. Young camp-age Mindy climbed to the top of a tall diving board to get a better view of the lake and scenery. When she tried to climb down, the counselor taunted (or maybe joked from a different perspective) that she must dive, not climb, to get down. Then, well…just read the book. It’s totally worth it and you won’t regret it.

With a smile,

Monet

.2011 book recap (part tweet)

I started recapping the books I read in 2011 (and decided to do 2010 while I was at it – the line is blurry). And then I got tired and realized I’d rather tweet about them. 140-characters is just as good as a 140-word reflection. Right?

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Actually, Steve Jobs was a big (in impact and size) book for me worth more than a tweet. For one, carrying around that colossal hard-cover book made it obvious that I needed a Kindle. For two, I was borrowing it and had 10 days to complete it (challenge successful). For three, it was, as far as I can see, an astute, raw, no bullshit depiction of Steve Jobs’ life and times as an up-and-coming industry changer. I learned that it’s not always about being nice – oh wait, actually, I learned it’s actually never about being nice. Most importantly, I learned, that it doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters how much time you put into your craft and your ideas.

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This is another book worth a few more words. I wasn’t super surprised by the story and the ending was a little anticlimactic, but I appreciated what Stockett did for the characters and the story.

With a smile,

Monet

 

.2011 book recap (part one)

2011 was a year of reading changes for me. My work-commute (where I get 98% of my reading done) went from an hour and a half to 30 minutes. I moved to Brooklyn (arguably more fun than New Jersey) and spent more time out than in. The summer sun blew away all of my desire to read – What? It was so sunny and beautiful! – and the nice weather lingered well into November. But alas, I did read a thing or two, and I’m a better bookworm for it.

Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This is one of the few book-to-movie marriages that I fully support. The books are easy to digest and offer great opportunities for discussion about social class, Big Brother, first world order, etc. All packaged neatly in a 15-year-old girl’s perception on (puppy) love, sacrifice, defiance and her role in the world around her. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that this is a pleasant read. I finished the first two page-turners and can’t wait to finish the third (and final, boo hoo) book.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told by Alex Haley

Phenomenal book. Five stars. Two thumbs up. One of a kind. Nothing like it. Powerful. Breathtaking. How many cliches can I squeeze into this short description? To be honest, I thought this book would have a negative effect on me and my perception on the world, because what I knew about Malcolm X was what “the books” told me. They never mentioned that Malcolm X’s journey covered a full spectrum of an enlightened man. Lost Black man –> prisoner –> The Nation of Islam –> radical views of whites and their “evil ways” –> Hajj to Mecca –> compassionate attitude towards social change –> voice for peacefully working together (a la MLK) –> assassinated. He had a very clear perception of his role in the Civil Right’s movement. He knew that people would depict him as a radical, evil man; that the lies about him would cast a shadow on the good he’s done. This book is mind blowing down the last page. I will absolutely read this book again (and I don’t do that too often).

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I would not recommend this book. But if you’re going to do it anyway, just know that it isn’t the cohesive and profound novel you’re expecting. Think essay passages from a standardized test strung together with coincidental character overlap. Yes, it won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but I’ve received an awards for “sportsmanship” aka “losing”.

My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid & Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye by Michael Eric Dyson

I read these books at the same time. Well, I started My Brother and found it hard to get through, so I thought reading two books at a time would be like a book tag-team. Wrong. So wrong. I found it hard to get into the writing style Kincaid employs in My Brother. I always wanted more information than she offered, and eventually didn’t care anymore. Mercy, Mercy Me was not the autobiography I wanted it to be. It was a series of essays about perceptions of Gaye’s life. I would be interested to read Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye as told by David Ritz to get a better understanding of who Marvin was (according to Gaye himself).

Native Son by Richard Wright

Technically, I read this in high school. But I should be honest and tell you that Sparknotes did most of the work connecting the dots and summarizing full chapters for me. Horrible – I know, I know. This time I’m happy that I read it all the way through. It is really a book loaded with so many metaphors that two things could happen: 1) You can spend a full book club meeting talking about the tangents and metaphors, without really referencing the book. Check, this happened. 2) You question what the book was really about. Was it just about a murder? Was Wright talking about something else all together? Check, this also happened…at the book club meeting from point 1.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

This was a significant personal reading challenge. Most of my time reading The Fire Next Time was actually spent highlighting the beautiful literary bombs Baldwin dropped left and right or reflecting on the concepts. I would love to have a cup of coffee (or maybe a cocktail) with Baldwin and pick his brain. He has an acute perception on the world, the role we play, and how to use that to move forward. The details are a little fuzzy (this must’ve been a 2010 read), but I am still enthralled in his work. I read this shortly after The Autobiography of Malcolm X and enjoyed a book in the same ballpark, that offered such a contrast in content and style.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

This is a story about war, soldiers and soldiers after war. I am fond of the way O’Brien juxtaposed the physical items the soldiers carried (ammo, lovers’ photographs, bibles, etc) with the mental things they carried (fear, distrust of their white/Black comrades, longing for purpose). No matter how you calculated it, everything weighed down on the soldiers. I feel like a broken record, having described my reaction to several people, but I can’t say it enough. It’s powerful to read about these somewhat random soldiers and still be able to see my grandfather in them. I imagine Vietnam was not the hot spot during the war (or any war zone, to be exact), but there’s a certain level of isolation veterans receive when they come home. Just because they’re taken off their heavy ammo and uniforms doesn’t mean that all of the weights from the war are gone. Excellent book.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the list. It’s shorter and sweeter – promise.

With a smile,

Monet