How to Live Like a Tourist Everyday – Part 2

This post and its predecessor were written for ROC U’s blog about being a college student in the Rochester, NY area.

In case you missed Part 1, it’s here.

Now that we’ve gotten the terminology down, here are three tips to help you start your illustrious career as a citizen tourist right now.

1. Eat out.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “You acknowledge we’re broke college students, and now you want us to eat out more?”


The truth is, to know a community is to know how its people live. To know how people live is to know how they eat. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, farmers markets, and locally specialized grocery stores (hello, Wegmans?) can give you this insight.

Stop some people on the street. Ask them where they like to eat. It’s so simple it even rhymes.

Also, if you haven’t already, it’s time to fall in love with Urbanspoon. This amazing website (and now app) sorts restaurants by customer rating, geographic location, price range, and more.

This is the “Cheap Eats” page for Urbanspoon Rochester. Go wild!


Click here to read on at ROC U’s tumblr.


How to Live Like a Tourist Everyday – Part 1

Today I am blogging over at ROC U blog, a tumblr populated by a group of journalism students at Roberts Wesleyan College. My post is about the best lesson I learned while studying abroad in Europe.

We hear the word “tourist” and immediately think of money-sucking “tourist traps.” We do our best to master prior to our vacations the walk and talk that will make us “not look like tourists.” We brag upon our return that the quaint places we frequented in our travels weren’t the least bit “touristy.”


But if we turn to our good friends Merriam and Webster, tourism is simply defined as :

noun \ˈtu̇r-ˌi-zəm\ 1. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

How nice. Who wouldn’t want to do that? So why should pleasurable travel have such a bad rap?

Well, probably because the very next (and increasingly more common) definition is :

2. the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, etc., for people who are traveling

The problem with tourism, as with many modern art forms, is that it has been turned into an industry.

Click here to read on at ROC U’s tumblr.

6 Films About the Artist in You

Whether it’s inspiration or encouragement you need today, these are six contemporary films from a variety of genres and styles that will feed, challenge, and change the artist in you.

I’ve added a few words about what I personally got out of these motion pictures. You know, because I’m good with words and stuff 🙂 It’s what I do, haha.


Midnight in Paris

This quirky Owen Wilson drama with a little humor thrown in (I mean, it’s Owen Wilson) is an Art and Lit major love fest. Seeing names like Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and my personal film inspiration Luis Buñuel (the movie features quirky inside jokes about his works that made me feel very smart indeed) just sets me squirming with glee.

The powerful message of this film is demonstrated in the first line of the book Wilson’s character is writing:

“Out Of The Past was the name of the store, and its products consisted of memories: what was prosaic and even vulgar to one generation had been transmuted by the mere passing of years to a status at once magical and also camp.”

This statement about the past not merely about vintage trinkets. It is about the temptation for artists to think that nothing new can be done in the era in which they live–that everything they and their contemporaries create is dull, average, and uninspired while the works of those who came before are the only true innovations. As the film makes plain, in the future, artists may look back on today and wish that they lived in this inspired bygone age.

Define your era. Don’t let it define you.


The Vow 

I know. I know. Sappy though this romantic film may be, it has two very powerful messages about the life of the artist.

The first is that it is important to know why you want to be an artist. It doesn’t so much matter why Rachel McAdams’ character Paige has decided to attend art school. What is important is the very personal journey she takes to discover why she fell in love with art (and Channing Tatum) in the first place.

The second is to not be afraid to be impractical. I think most people who have decided to be “professional” artist have already overcome this step, but it’s nice to know that others are making the same crazy life decisions you are. Misery loves company!


The Dead Poets Society

There has never been a film that more successfully demonstrates the profound impact that literature can have in the life of an average young person than The Dead Poets Society.

I think even the partly biographical Freedom Writers (not a personal favorite, great story but not-so-great movie) comes up short in comparison to Dead Poets.

From standing on their desks and quoting “Walt Whitman” to closing their eyes and blurting out whatever they see, Dead Poets is all about the students at a repressive prep school learning to let down their inhibitions and just create. While not all of them are or want to be artists in the orthodox sense, they all have something to gain from learning the lessons of eccentric Professor Keating (a surprisingly serious Robin Williams). Art and literature has the power to set them free.

Mr. Hollands OpusMr. Holland’s Opus

When Richard Dreyfuss’s character, Mr. Holland, gets a job teaching music at a public high school, he is tasked with the weighty feat of making a roomful of teenagers care about his deepest love–music.

It could just be the soft spot in my heart for the Deaf community, but I found this movie to be absolutely precious. The moment when Mr. Holland signs “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon to his Deaf son Cole–bridging the gap between his language of music and Cole’s language of ASL–just makes me cry every time. And the final scene when his symphony is played by his former students who call themselves his “real symphony?” So many tears.

The lesson to be taken from this film?

Taking a day job doesn’t mean giving up your dreams of being an artist; it means embracing new ways of pursuing those dreams and encountering brand new ones in the process.

6P.S. I Love You

“My business is to create.”

I may have left out Freedom Writers, but Hilary Swank made it onto the list anyway. Also a very sappy movie, P.S. I Love You is unique in the sense that one of the film’s main characters is dead for 90% of the film.

I will come out and say it, this is not a good love story. It is, however, a good art story. The main theme of the movie is to stop making excuses for not doing what you were made to do. If your business is to create, don’t let any obstacle (no matter how devastating) keep you from creating.

I also love that this movie is about an uncommon and unorthodox art form. Shoemaking! How unique is that?


The Artist

I believe that Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail perfectly sums up the poignant focus of Best-Picture-Oscar-winning film The Artist.

He writes that this French-made picture “uses old technology to dazzling effect to illustrate the insistent conquest of a new technology.”

This “love letter to cinema” so dubbed by the film’s director Michael Hazanavicius. Is all about the balance between satisfying an audience and satisfying oneself in the changing worlds of art and media. The ultimate message of the (silent and black-and-white) picture is all about art for the sake of art.

I hope that curling up to watch one of these films will give you the courage to continuing pursuing your dreams as an artist.

Always remember: If you believe you are an artist but can’t afford to pursue your art “full time,” that part of your identity does not go away from 9 to 5. Stoke it. Bring it to life in every possible moment.

Live Well, Dress Well: Fourth Festivities

How to dress for Independence Day is probably never a big question in the minds of today’s fashionistas. Some charming but cliche combination of red, white, and blue is sure to do the trick.

But how can one really stand out fashion-wise in the same old shades of red, white, and blue? I mean, we all want to be patriotic, but we don’t all want to look like little clones of Uncle Sam. We want to be unique as well, and hopefully (I know I do) we want to be classy.As much as I love Katy Perry and her sense of style, this is not especially classy. Definitely unique, though!

Here’s an idea!

How about dressing for what you’ll be doing on this day rather than dressing for the day itself?

Here are three sample outfits based on your Fourth of July Festivities.

1. BBQ Cutie

If your plans include a nice family event or any type of get-together where you want to feel a little more feminine and put-together (or want to catch the eye of a certain someone who looks juts great in his board shorts), pairing a high-waisted skirt with nautical stripes is a great way to give off a fun-loving, flirty, and slightly more formal vibe.

Add some girly and glamorous details like a sleek watch, a flower headband, and golden glads. Best to keep the shoes flat to avoid looking a little too dressy. It is a barbecue, after all 😉

2. All Night Long

No matter how hot the day may be, you’ll wish you were layered up if you’re planning any type of late-night fireworks-watching escapade followed by partying into the early morning. For one thing, temperatures can plummet in the hours past midnight regardless of daytime highs. For another, bugs can’t bite skin that they can’t find! So cover up!

Starting with blue jeans and then adding red and white accents such as a quirky printed t-shirt and red heels (I would go with wedges since you’ll be on your feet for awhile) is the key to looking party-ready without overdoing the Independence-Day pride. These star earrings are also a subtle and sexy rockstar nod to the American flag. Instead of a hoodie or sweater, bring along a jacket that looks fierce enough to amp up your night-out look.

Pro Tip: Embrace neutral accessories to keep from looking too costumey.

3. I’m On a Boat

My family members are lake people, and we are spending Wednesday afternoon and evening on my uncle’s new houseboat!

If your Fourth looks anything like mine, there’s bound to be a lot of swimming involved, so try working a retro bathing suit into your boating-day outfit. Layering a fun pattern like polka dots (I would probably avoid stars and stripes) under a drapey tank (or crop top) and distressed shorts is an easy recipe for a fun summer holiday look.

If you’re craving a little star-spangled banner, why not just add a cool star bangle like this one? You might want to skip the earrings to avoid losing them in the water! As for shoes, they don’t call ’em boat shoes for nothing! Shy away from heels and other non-sturdy numbers if you plan on being on a boat.

P.S. If you’re more of a bikini girl, you can make that work, too. Just don’t wear a white shirt over that soon-to-be-sopping-wet swimsuit!

What are your plans for the Independence Day? I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for ways to dress for your Fourth festivities.

Reblog: 33 Ways to Stay Creative

This poster absolutely made my day after a night of dealing with a stomach bug and still needing to come into work this evening. I came across it on tumblr and have had no luck locating the original author, which breaks my heart a little bit. He or she deserves credit for something so inspirational!

It’s all so simple, yet so ingenious.

I couldn’t have stated so many of these tips better myself, and the list is perfectly inclusive. When I think of my favorite ways to “spring clean” my creative mind and exercise those imagination muscles, I come up with almost this list exactly! It seems to me that the author left nothing out!

Well, you know what I think of this list (I highly recommend making lists to foster creativity, by the way), but what do you think?

What do you do to stay creative?

Photo Shoot: Awoken Beauty Part 1

The premise of this lovely, ethereal, fairy-tale shoot that Rachel was kind enough to help me out with is a question that I found myself asking while walking through the woods on my grandparents’ property.

“What if there were no prince by her side when Sleeping Beauty woke up?”

What if, in the age-old fairy tale, hundreds of years passed without her Prince Charming riding in to rescue her kingdom from it’s enchanted sleep? What if the curse wore off after years of hopelessness, and Beauty awoke alone to a castle and kingdom collapsed and overgrown beyond recognition? Would she feel fear and desperation? Or maybe just disappointment–even anger?

This is an example of the artsy-fartsy mishmash that goes through my head when I’ve gone too long without creating something.

Anyway, I’m now happy to present to you the first half of what I believe was a very successful photo shoot entitled Awoken Beauty.

More imaginative photos after the jump!

 More photos from the Awoken Beauty series to come!