Monday, April 14, 2014

My Yale

I wrote last week about the Yale I imagined as a high schooler, the Yale you probably know.

But Yale turned out to be not at all what I expected... in the best way possible. Like any place that is commonly represented in the media, certain familiar themes can seem to represent an entire picture. But Yale is a real college in a real city, full of very real humans -- which always keeps things interesting. Not one day is the same as the next, not one person is alike the person next to them. There's constant construction on campus (to make it more beautiful in the longrun, true). The heavy snowfall in winter, while stunning from indoors, can be a real bummer to trek through on the way to class. Plus we never win at football. And, yes guys, people wear sweatpants.

The campus can sometimes feel like a Hogwarts wonderland, but way more often than not, it felt like this:

Yalies built this statue a friend

A professor doing a handstand in class

A Yale policeman keeping the peace on a Segway...?

It's not all fun and games: Spanish vocab flashcards

As far as the people go, my friends were obviously geniuses (where else would someone as a kid have mistaken "high-heeled" shoes for "high-yield" shoes?) -- but in general they managed to cover it up pretty well. People are all kinds of goofy and wacky, irresponsible, compulsive. My friends came from all over the world, from all kinds of backgrounds; on freshman move-in day my sister asked if I was living on a diversity floor -- nope, that's just Yale.

Dressed all in neon for Safety Dance, an annual 80s themed party

There is a lot of dressing up and undressing, prank-playing, general fooling around. There is also a lot of drinking, sure, but mostly there is a lot of eating. There is dancing, cuddling, procrastinating, yelling, and seemingly endless laughing and crying.

The best party I ever threw, bringing the beach to New Haven

More of the famous beach party

The Harvard / Yale tailgate

A party with the simple theme of "Weird"

I think Yale really lies somewhere in between the two worlds I've presented. Ye,s it is a place where the world's most brilliant minds gather to create and share knowledge. And it's also a home to thousands of energetic and confused 20-somethings for four short years. No matter what, I know it's an incredibly special place that I have been VERY lucky to be a part of. Everyone's Yale is a little bit different, and as far as I'm concerned, mine is the best.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Yale You Know

I was lucky enough to spend 4 years as an undergraduate at Yale, and now I'm lucky enough to work here. I'm going to make this a two-part post: first I'll share about being a part of the Yale you probably already know, and then I'll share a little bit about my Yale.

Before I visited campus (in fact probably all the way up to day #1 of my freshman year) I had a very specific idea of what "Yale" was. It's kind of like how I imagine it would be to work at the White House or live Kate Middleton's life. I had watched representations of a Yale on Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls, read about it in books, seen it interpreted through fashion...

Rory Gilmore <3 Yale

Chuck Bass on the "Yale campus"

An ad campaign for the store Gant, shot on campus (there's my friend John on the left!)

The Whiffenpoofs on Gilmore Girls

These handsome devils are some of Mike's fellow Whiffenpoofs, in a shoot for GQ

The "Yale brand" is strong: clean, diverse students in crisp Yale navy, frolicking and working to cure cancer surrounded by grand gothic architecture. Sometimes I walk around this campus and feel like I'm living in the very stereotype that intimidated and awed me as a teen. A friend once asked some of us to come out for a photoshoot on campus, and we all showed up like this for God's sake:


I mean, come on. Not to mention the place lends just itself to constant awe. Here are some of my favorite spots, all just snapped on my iPhone:

Cross Campus & Sterling Memorial Library

Old Campus (where freshmen live) in early summer
Just a window...

Connecticut Hall, the oldest building on campus

Cheering on the Bulldogs at the annual Harvard / Yale football game

More Old Campus, in winter

This is the view from my office building, in fall and winter:


And one of my favorite Yale shots, taken by my dad on graduation day:

We're holding little flags for Calhoun, which is our Residential College (think of it like Gryffindor to Yale's Hogwarts).

You're probably thinking this is glamorous side of Yale, the "good stuff." But actually, nope, the real Yale is so much better. There's a lot of allure to the idea of a Yale filled with ghosted halls and comfy Y sweaters -- but a lot of pressure that comes along with it. It's kind of like how I sometimes feel in a church, overwhelmed by the grandeur of it all and personally stressed by what it should mean or how I should be while I'm there. Not that I took it at any moment for granted (the perks of being a "Yalie" are never to be underestimated); but there's a lot at stake when it comes to this University' reputation, if you catch my drift.

So it only get better from here... can't wait to tell you all about my Yale tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fashions of the Future

I came across the following article this morning: Fashions of the Future as Imagined in 1893. Oh my goodness, this fascinates me!

The article is from The Strand magazine and was written by W. Cade Gall in 1893 (you can read the full thing here). This was Gall's imagination of what each decade's trends and styles would look like for the next 100 years. To our eyes in 2014, these clothes look more like costumes for the Land of Oz than any real world style -- but I think it's so interesting to think about what it all means!

I'm neither a historian nor a fashion expert, but some things seems pretty obvious. We know now that fashion has been strongly influenced by social and political movements throughout the years. So I love how Gall's projections reflect his Victorian mindset. Women's skirts stay long and restrictive, clothes only become more outlandish and decorative while less and less convenient.  He predicts that "hard shiny, black head-gear" will be the iconic look of the entire 20th century.... I don't even know what that means, but it doesn't sound cute or useful!

Gall writes, "the domination by the fair sex cannot be many centuries distant"

What we do know is that rather than men dressing more and more like women, as Gall predicted (see his 1993 above!), the opposite occured. Women came to adopt menswear as they transitioned into what had been traditionally masculine fields and fought to gain equal rights in all aspects of life. We needed to be able to join a rally during the suffrage movement, to fix planes during WWII, to run between college classes, to go out to the disco and get down... Clothing became far more functional for men as well, and just a lot more simplified overall.

I will give the guy credit for predicting that 20th century fashions would embrace color, which he was right-on about. It's not reflected in his drawings, but he mentions it at the end of his piece. I don't think neons even existed in the 1800s! so good for him on that front. I mean, who could have predicted this?!

Gall's entire article takes on a funny attitude though -- he assumes that fashion only becomes more and more crazy over time. He's constantly using words like "inane," "inappropriate," "exaggerated," "grotesque," "asinine," "idiocy," and even "donkey" (?). Though he is theoretically taking on a forward-looking voice, his views on fashion are so painfully stuck in his own present. It seems impossible that he would have imagined that clothing could be functional, or even empowering. The idea that fashion itself could influence a generation (rather than vice versa) would have been inconceivable to him! So I for one am glad to be living now, in a time when I can express myself by wearing leggings as pants if I feel like it on a Sunday.

That said, considering just how wrong this guy was... aren't you kind of terrified and excited to see what happens in the NEXT 100 years?!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Opposite of Loneliness

I'm just one voice amongst many who are sharing Marina Keegan's story right now. If you haven't heard of her, Marina was an extremely talented young author (and performer, and activist) who died just days after her college graduation, leaving behind an incredible wealth of written work. A compilation of her writing, entitled The Opposite of Loneliness (after a now famous article she published at the end of her senior year) will be released tomorrow.

This story is a personal one for me. Marina was my classmate at Yale, and beyond being a writer, she was a theater kid (along with the president of the Yale Democrats, and more). I worked on a whole bunch of shows with Marina at Yale, and she was a regular face in my English classes and within my group of friends.

It would be inappropriate to say that Marina and I were "good friends" -- sure, her number's in my phone, but we never sat down to get lunch together. She was more of a colleague... but I did know her well. She loved it when I brought gummy snacks to rehearsal, because they were gluten-free and she had celiac disease. She didn't shave her legs, and she had the most adorable sailboat tattoo on the back of her foot. She wore wristfuls of bracelets and never took them off, even when a director told her they didn't go with her costume. She brought soup to class every Tuesday our senior year and ate it shamelessly right next to the professor  (she also left her cellphone out on the table during seminar, quite the brave move in a Yale class). She got away with being late for things because she was smart and funny and not afraid to say what everyone else was thinking.

Once, after we read Will Eno's Middletown, she was brave enough to admit that she just didn't "get it" (neither did I!). Marina wondered aloud about the value of  seemingly "deep" plays that left so many readers and audiences in bewilderment... If no one understands what's happening or what something is meant to signify, does that make the audience idiots -- or the play just incomprehensible? I know that as a Yalie myself, I was terrified to admit when I didn't understand something or question the value of a piece a professor had put on the syllabus. But Marina said what I was thinking, and she called out the playwright, the professor and the rest of our classmates all at once... maybe some of this work we worried we were too dumb to understand really was just "bullshit."

Another time, during tech for a show we were working on, Marina asked to borrow my camera. She gave it back to me with literally hundreds of pictures of herself and the rest of the cast making mischief... Not for any reason really, expect that they were bored backstage. She had entertained the group during long hours of tech with the goofiest of photoshoots. Here are some of the best shots (Marina's in green, don't ask about the costumes):




Marina was brave and silly and surprising, sometimes difficult, always passionate. The fact that's she's gone still isn't really real to me, largely because we probably wouldn't have been in touch post-college anyways. She would have thought this blog was silly, and in some respects I do too. But I think she would have appreciated the shout-out.

Nichols Kristof wrote a beautiful piece about Marina's book yesterday in the New York Times, and I can't wait to read it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

One Day: Wallpaper

I've written about my "grown-up house" dreams before here and here, and decided I'd zoom in on something a little more specific this time: wallpaper. This is something that I definitely won't have until I actually own a home... Wallpapering is the kind of thing you do when you're really settled and ready to make a commitment. It can drastically change up a space! and I plan to have plenty of it.

In general,  I prefer wallpapering one of two ways: either as the complete centerpiece of a room, or as a rather subtle background for the rest of the components. The in-between can obviously work too, but for me I feel like it'll be all or nothing. Here are some shots that inspire me.

First, the bold choices. I love this dark starry paper, maybe just on one wall of a boy's nursery?

These florals can't be missed:


And this famous Scalamandre zebra print even looks extreme in tan!:


The dog-lover in me can't resist this whimsical pattern! I might not put it in a room necessarily, but it could be awesome cabinet liner or inside a closet for a fun surprise:

Now for the subtler stuff. This is more likely to happen in reality, because I love constantly changing my surroundings and they'd be a lot more versatile. "Subtle" doesn't mean "plain" or "boring" to me! Some of these are just as gorgeous and interesting as the more in-your-face ones. Not to mention way more practical...



I think these lighter tones add just the right amount of texture and interest without looking overdone. I especially love that bathroom floral.

What do you think of wallpaper? Do you like it bold or subtle, or somewhere in between?