Wednesday, August 27, 2014

school supply style

This is my favorite time of year. I love it more than peppermint mocha season. I love it more than sun hitting winter white legs season. I love it more than first wander outside without a jacket season. 
It's school supply time. 
You all know you feel the same way. There is no thrill like the one of tearing into a new packet of earthy-scented pencils or the excitement of a fresh, clean sheet of notebook paper. I'm an office supply addict, and my obsession just goes full throttle during the first few weeks of the school year. So, without further ado, here are my favorite picks for a successful, stylish school year. 

1// THIS tote bag is my favorite for carrying everything I need. It's functional, and has a little more flair than the average backpack (it's lined with the titles of famous banned books!).

2// THESE notebooks are my go-to. Moleskines are a little on the expensive and pretentious side, but their quality can't be beat. The pages are bounded with a thick thread, so you won't be loosing any important notes. There are 16 (the perfect amount) detachable pages at the back as well for pop-quizzes or passing notes. 

3// LE PEN. Oh Le Pen. Dream pens. Again, a bit pricey, but they come in every color imaginable, key if you are an obsessive color-coder as I am. 

4// A SET of sticky note tabs make finding a needed page in a book or notepad easy as can be. And guess what?! More color coding! 

5// THIS HIGHLIGHTER was introduced to me by my European friends during finals week in Ireland. It seems impossible to dry out, the bright color refuses to make pen ink smear and bleed across your page, and they come in every color of the rainbow. I'm converted to the gospel of Stabilo. German engineering at it's finest folks. 

6// SOMETHING FUN to stick on your laptop will brighten your study hours. I'm a Totoro fan, so went with the above option, but I've seen everything from Disney Princesses to Iron Man to food to pop culture art online. Whenever I whip out my laptop, however, all mouths instantly drop open and someone invariably asks, "Did you SHARPIE your MacBook?" Luckily, these guys are removable and changeable, unlike permanent marker. 

7// THESE make studying a breeze. If memory is not your bag (okay memorizing IS my bag, but I like to use notecards anyway), pick up a set and get to it. This may be the most boring product on the list, but also the most necessary. 

There you have it. I could spend another three-to-six hours debating the merits of certain types of glue and which eraser is best for your finger-size-to-palm-width ratio, but I'll spare you the details of my obsession. What are you musts for the new school year? Also-does anyone take notes on their computers? I'm an old fashioned sort of gal, so it's all pen and paper for me, but I'd love to hear what people think about note-taking on a laptop! 



Monday, August 25, 2014

the first last days

This is me on my first first day of school. Today is my last first day of school (for the time being). 

My mother sent me to a little brick country school, miles outside of our tiny town, at the end of a dusty dirt road. 

Lorenzo Elementary was the only school that offered full day kindergarten available in our area. Mama said I was "ready" for a full day of school, and to this day I'm not sure if she means I was ready to be active and learning for a solid seven hours, or if she was ready to have a solid seven hours to herself. Either way, on that first first day my Hello Kitty backpack was loaded up with pencils and my not-so-baby-anymore feet were stuffed into hardcore black Doc Marten boots (which my father lovingly knotted for me each morning) and I was off to the beginning of a sixteen-year adventure. 

Most of my classmates were farm kids, children who had grown up in corn fields and chores at the crack of dawn, cliché country stuff, but true. Each morning, rain, shine, or snow, the school matrons bundled grades K-6 up to be marched outside for a repetition of the Pledge of Allegiance and some patriotic sing-song (I still get "You're A Grand Old Flag" stuck in my head). I learned to read and write; I learned how to build a tumbleweed tower that withstood the powerful prairie winds. I made friends, although I often found myself lacking in conversation with some kids, the kids who went to church with their mamas, papas, and six brothers and sisters every Sunday, the kids who weren't allowed to watch my favorite show, The Simpsons. Spring was forever to be heralded by a sudden infestation of box elder bugs and pudgy fingers trying to trap their lightning quick black-and-orange bodies. 

Today, my little brick country school looms alone over fields of weeds and dirt. All of the colorful plastic playground equipment, all of the half-deflated basketballs, and our two-ship fleet of school buses are gone. If you stumble upon it, somehow find your car crunching ancient bits of gravel below its wheels as it eases up a pine-tree lined pathway, you might think the towering brick edifice is haunted. Some windows are busted out and a thick padlock clamped around a heavy metal chain seals the front doors tight like a tomb. When that famous Nebraska wind barrels through the trees, maybe you think you hear children laughing. Chills will run down your spine and an eerie sense of displacement will wash over you. You know the memory of that old haunted country school house will be fresh in your mind whenever your friends want to hear a ghost story. You'll probably shiver, reverse your car, and continue going wherever it is you're going.  

But I hope you won't. 

I hope, if you ever find yourself cruising over the Colorado line and into a state that's never crossed your mind, you'll pull over for just a quick second at a thicket of trees. I hope you'll smile, roll your eyes when you see the population of a little town called "Lorenzo", some 100 people large. Do me a favor, and when you come across my little brick country school, don't feel the emptiness and gloom that now envelopes the clearing. Think, instead, of a little girl who learned to read, who learned to love to read, who learned to love to learn. Know that this seemingly desolate locale was just the first stop on a long journey of notebooks and erasers and highlighters, of crushes and dramas and anticipation for both the school year to end, and for the school year to start. This empty place is where my life started, where my passions were sparked. It's the birth place of years of hard work, of two brown eyes that light up whenever a fact about a favorite novel piques an interest, and of high school graduations, and scholarships, and a six-hour-drive across the state, of a tough, but right decision to study what one loves instead of what guarantees one a paycheck, and a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to a country of green.

And so I believe that my little brick country school refuses to be haunted by anything. Rather, I think it sits waiting to see what brilliant things have come and continue to come from the early adventurers that love it. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

in-sta-between

Wanna know what one of my very favorite things in the entire world to do is? Instagram. (Find me HERE @zoeyohn, follow me! Let's be friends!) So, for Friday, here's a little recap of some recent snaps. And only one food pic, kinda? What is this? 

1// best friends helping me celebrate 21
2// a long-awaited birthday gift 
3// silly faces 
4// drooling over Ben Gibbard at Maha 
5// my favorite lunch, 19-years-running
6// a bright lip to brighten up a Tuesday 
7// obsessed with these new Starbucks X Band of Outsiders to-go mugs (as if I need another mug)
8// the best time of day: nightly neighborhood watch patrol

Any big plans for this weekend? I'm enjoying the last few bits of summer vacation with a lot of sleeping in and mid-morning coffee downtown before the first day of school on Monday, yikes!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

maha '14

Omaha knows how to do music. In addition the big-name shows that seem to headline monthly at the major events center downtown and the ultra-cool underground scene that plays year-round in little pockets throughout the city, Omaha summers are bursting with live concerts every week of the season. This year, I finally had the opportunity to hit up a summer-music-must at the sixth annual Maha Music Festival. The Boy and I bought tickets as soon as we heard that our favorite band of all time ever, Death Cab for Cutie, was headlining and spent the entire day at Stinson Park enjoying everything the festival had to offer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

21 things in 21 years

Sorry I've been so MIA this past few days. I don't want to say I have a good excuse but, I have a good excuse! Monday was my 21st birthday, and Tuesday I caught a rock-my-world type of cold. I know how lame that sounds, I know how phony that sounds, but I guarantee: I was not hungover. I had a cold. 
Moving on. In lieu of my recent celebrations, I decided to compile a list of 21 things I've learned/discovered/accepted in my 21 years. Let's get to it. 

1. Girlfriends are endlessly important to have.
You can tell them all of the weird things you're thinking, they are always up for going shopping, and give the best advice. Surround yourself with good ones. 
2. You can't make anyone happy unless you are happy yourself. 
My mother taught me this one, and it's truer than most anything else I know. 
3. Try for everything. The worst you can get is a "no". 
Internships, job applications, Facebook friend requests...try it all. If you get a "no", then whatever. Move on, someone else will realize what amazing-ness you have to offer!
4. You have to create your own happy life. 
No one can make you happy but you. Do what you love and fill your life with your favorite people and things. 
5. Spend as much time with family as possible. 
At the end of the day, they're the people who love you most and will always be there. 
6. You are responsible for yourself.
You have to solve your own problems, be accountable for how you act and react, and accept blame when you need to. 
7. If something is bothering or upsetting you, speak up. 
Everything from how you've been treated by a co-worker to a haircut you are unhappy with. Nothing will get solved if you keep your displeasure in and just let it stew. If something isn't right by you, let the world know it! 
8. Not everyone is going to "get" or like you, and that's totally OK. 
It's just a fact of life. Instead of dwelling on those who aren't groovy with you, focus on building your relationships with the people who think you are the best. 
9. Always, always, always be your own person. 
Self-explanatory.
10. Say "yes" to more things. 
Get outta your comfort zone, even when you don't want to. Most likely, you'll have the time of your life and never regret it. 
11. But remember that it's OK to just say "no" when you want to. 
Never feel obligated to do something you really just don't want to. 
12. Send cards to everyone you love for any reason, or just for no reason at all. 
They're sweet and personal. Whenever a card is opened anywhere in the world, an average of 100000% happiness is instantly felt by the card receiver (it's proven by science). Go make someone's day.
13. Do what you love, even if it may not seem very logical to anyone else.
When I made the decision to switch to an English degree rather than a journalism or education degree, it was scary. Everyone has heard about the poor, broke English major. Turns out, studying what I love was the best decision I've ever made--I've made so many wonderful friends, have found a true passion, and am excited about my future. 
14. It's healthy to know how to be alone. 
Order in your favorite meal, watch two hours of 30 Rock, and end the evening with a long, hot bath. Perfection.
15. Trust your gut, it's usually right. 
You know what I'm talking about.
16. Everything happens for a reason, it just might take a while to see what that reason is. 
Call it the universal truth, God, karma, whatever. I don't care who does it, but I'm confident that everything will work out in the end, that the world knows what it's doing. 
17. Don't force anything-events, feelings, friendships, etc. 
If it's not working out now, it never will. 
18. Ask people about themselves and genuinely care. 
"Where do you work?" "Where are you from?" "How are your parents?" "Did your sister-in-law get that promotion?" Don't talk about yourself all the time, learn a little bit more about the people you're with. They'll always remember you as the person who cares, a good thing to be known as. 
19. Treating yourself is necessary. 
Duh.
20. Be inspired by others, but don't be a clone. 
Something I love about the blog-o-sphere is the endless potential to take inspiration from others. Use that inspiration! Take cues from the people that inspire you. But don't be a carbon copy. Put your own spin on everything. And please don't steal anyones catch phrase. It's uncomfortable. 
21. Wear SPF everyday.
Miracle anti-aging, complexion evening, rainbow sparkle face butter. You-plus-thirty-years will thank  me. 

And always be willing to learn something new! With that being said--what life lessons do you have for me? What touchstone facts-of-life do you always turn to?