Ben & Jessie's Reception

Some details for our guests...

I figured since we don't have a website (we don't have nearly enough to say to merit that), I'd post a few items to note here so that everyone knows what to expect and where to go on October 26.



Rooftop reception begins at 8 pm on Saturday, October 26. Invite only, please. It will be held on the communal rooftop terrace at our apartment building, and there will be either a person or some kind of decoration to let you know you're in the right spot.

Parking is along Marietta Street, on the same side as the building itself. I have counted more than 20 cars easily on the street at others' rooftop events, but even so, carpooling with at least one other person will help cut down on the number of cars taking up space. (I assume many of you are carpooling anyway, at least with your date.)


The desserts and drinks will be plentiful! Cakes, doughnuts, pops, and plenty of other delicious treats. A menu and fully-stocked bar. This is an after-dinner event - I don't want any of you going into a sugar coma from the drinks and desserts because you came on an empty stomach! You've been warned. (We will be bringing in reinforcements for party-goers who stay past the half-way mark of the night.)


I would call this semi-formal. No tuxes in sight, but come wearing your most fun, fancy frocks! And a note, in the fall evenings, up on the roof, it can get a bit breezy, so a lovely little coat, shawl, scarf, or  other coverup for the ladies will be a wise decision.


Please bring your smartphones or cameras (or both, heck!) and snap lots of pictures for us! We want everything candid, nothing lame like us standing in front of a brick wall. So we're counting on you to take some really fun pics. We'll have a few cameras on-hand as well. Maybe some props, if I can scrounge some up here somewhere... But I can definitely say that the backdrop will be gorgeous and you'll want to take at least a few.


Sorry if we made it tough on any of you by not registering for gifts. We are blessed with many things already and didn't want to ask for more stuff while also inviting you to a reception-only event where we don't even feed you fancy chicken. But the good news is, if we've invited you, you're part of a small group of people most special to us, and so it's safe to assume you know us well enough to have an idea what we might like. All that said, though, we really just want to see your face! Please don't stress about this part.


If you've got any other questions at all, please reach out to me! You should have either my phone number or email address, Twitter or Instagram handle, any way that works for you. I am more than happy to answer anything - hotels, shoe advice, whatever you need. Can't wait to see you!


Dispatch from the edge of recession: eight long months, and counting

I'm a real-life Hannah Horvath (from Girls), sans the dramatic friendships, awkward sexual relationships, and hopefully, without the terrible decision-making. I've got too much education and student loan debt, and not enough experience in anything to qualify me for any job. Oh, except retail -- Hannah's own post-liberal-arts-education job is as a pretty awful barista in a coffee shop. I work part time as a sales associate at Gap. As is the new game, I had an amazing full time job for ten weeks. It ends tomorrow, and I have no plan. I really really hoped, back in October when I began the seasonal gig, that by this time in the year, I would have found another opportunity and had something lined up for the New Year. I have my job at Gap; don't get me wrong, I am thankful for that.

This week, I've gotten two notices on jobs I've more than qualified for, that they are moving ahead with another candidate. Three weeks ago, I inadvertently turned down a job offer by honestly responding in a phone call that I could not leave my current job with only three-days' notice. By the time I called back a few hours later, to see if there was any way we could make arrangements due to a two-week overlap in work, I was told they had already moved ahead with another candidate. Another candidate, someone else, someone clearly better for this job. Don't worry, there are other opportunities. Let me know how I can help. 

I'm tired of false promises, and I'm filled with regret over graduate school. What was the point of training myself for a career field that has absolutely no job opportunities  while I could have gone straight into the work force and at least got some actual work experience? Now I'm stuck with a master's degree, but everyone wants that plus years of other accolades and experience. And I don't have what the hiring managers see as real-world real-work skills to even be an editor, or marketing or PR manager for a company. More and more I doubt the choice I made back in the summer of 2010, even though yes, the job market for new grads then was possibly even worse than now. But when you're down and out, you doubt and wonder.

I've been applying to jobs in earnest since January 1, 2012 -- a full year of exhausting, depressing job searching. Being on this side of things, I have so much sympathy for those who have been out of work for many months and years, because I understand how absolutely disheartening it is to hear rejection after rejection, if we hear anything at all. It's enough to make you throw in the towel and sit depressed on the couch. I honestly never, in a million years, saw myself as the graduate who would be in this position. I've always had multiple part-time jobs and worked hard for good grades in college. If there were idiots and slackers all around me, I was in the ten percent who was not. But it looks like I am still not out of the rough post-graduate phase.

I am not under any illusions: I don't expect to be in charge, have my "dream job" or be a shoe-in for a position. I just want an interview, a chance to prove my skills and articulate my passion. And I just want a job that remotely relates to my career field (seriously, I could argue almost any kind of work) for a pay rate slightly above the poverty rate. I would like to be above the poverty level in 2013. I've been out of school now for eight long, confusing, disheartening, scary, real months. And counting. Floating between part-time, contract stints, full-time temporary.


"If I was noticing, then I was working." I am working.

This describes so perfectly how I approach this time in my life. One writer to others, young: [quote cite="George Saunders" url=""]

Can you share an example of overcoming adversity to keep your writing dream alive?
Although it can be really hard to be a young writer, I’d advise trying not to think in terms of “overcoming adversity” but, rather, trying to use those experiences to train oneself in learning to think like a writer.  So, I can remember times when I found myself in a strange or difficult or even somewhat degrading work situation, and writing was miles away – but I always felt (or tried to feel) like if I was noticing, then I was working.   That is, the young writer can do a little mental switch, and think: “Ah, so this too is part of America,” or “So this too is part of life – these feelings that I’m having and all of these physical details I’m seeing around me, and the reactions of the other people in this situation – are all interesting.”  Not easy to think that way, but if you can nurture that tendency in yourself, it becomes a sort of armor.


From the blog Writeliving.

Stephen King and Tina Fey both also talk about jobs in their early adulthood and the impact it's had on their perspective as a writer.

I am using all of these experiences, storing it in my brain, making meaning. It'll come out in my words someday.

Dispatch from the Edge of Recession: Job Market Moment... the Elusive Excitement

I have that sick, nervous feeling right now. I just came across a job posting for a place I desperately want to work, here in Atlanta, with an amazing mission and unbelievable combination of my passions, skills, and beliefs. And every single thing they list on the job description I can do now, and would dominate in that position. Writing for the web and published media sources, networking, working with the press and local organizations, planning and organizing in-house documents and memos, social media management,  photography for events and media, group and project work, and a boatload of other exciting things--and above all, believing in the mission of the organization. Seriously, I would rock this job and every responsibility I am given, because it's things I excel in already and have done in many capacities before, but also because it's in a field that I have dedicated two degrees to so far, and both of them fostered my concern for the mission of this organization as well--civil rights, human rights, communication along cultural and racial lines, understanding of one another. I am riddled with excitement, to put it mildly. Suddenly, I have gone from a regular night of searching job listings and imagining my near future in retail once more (and working for seven bucks an hour, woo!), to imagining something far different and much more exciting--working in a meaningful position for a purpose, putting my skills and work ethic to the test and building them further. I desperately want to pour myself into a job. And I really want it to be something I care about, though I have had to make sacrifices in this portion of my goal, because employment is more important than holding out, unemployed, for a noble goal. I am realistic if nothing else. (Hey, it might take a few years of crap to get back to the noble goal. And student loans don't pay back themselves.)

So I have been applying to various clerical jobs, submitting my resume to staffing agencies, saying I'm looking for administrative work. And the recruiters ask me what kind of work I am looking for. The honest answer is any work, at least at a rate to cover my bills. But perhaps that sounds desperate, not ideal--so I'll say admin work, sure! The job fair I went to today had many openings for health care workers, police officers and security professionals, warehouse workers, and for those seeking employment in the fast food industry. It was a depressing picture for someone with a niche degree like Heritage Preservation. Try throwing that one on a staffing recruiter. I try to emphasize my strong administrative skills in the conversation, too.

In the nine months during which I have been applying to jobs, this is only the second one to arise that is here in the city I love, which I am qualified for and which truly, makes me utterly breathless with excitement. I immediately bound ahead in my brain, to having the job, making positive improvements, wearing my beautiful skirts and blazers and representing well everyone who has helped me get to this point. I have had days where it has been impossible to imagine, to conceptualize, my future--what job would I even be doing, and where, and for whom? It is a fast downward spiral when you can't conceptualize whether you will be folding clothes or doing data entry or answering phones, or changing the world in my own small way for an employer I love.

This is only the second job to send electricity down my spine. I read the long description over and over, and each time, I am more confident that I can nail every single bullet point. I am a master of so many of these things already. And when I am on paper, the only thing people see is that I'm a recent grad with no full time work experience, even though multiple, simultaneous part-time jobs have earned me all the skills I have and use in what equals a full-time commitment of my time--and which make me exactly the person for the job. But my mind has already blown past this more realistic doubting part of my brain, because, of course, you're made for this! They'll see that!

That is what I really believed about the singular previous position that I desperately wanted and felt highly qualified for. I didn't get that job. I got an overly formal and way-late e-mail response from some lady I had never spoken to, saying they had chosen someone else. Now, in nine months of scores of job applications and submissions, I am quite used to impersonal rejections and regrets, but this one hurt. I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't get it, but I also thought there was a good chance I could. The experience has made me thoroughly exhausted with employers not wanting to take a chance on a passionate, young professional. Heck, I'll work for next to nothing and I really care about the job! And I work hard to boot! And communicate well! What on earth more can you want from a candidate? Idealism? Creativity? Tech savvy? Perseverance? Amiable personality? Strong leader? Organizer? Oh, wait -- I am all those!

This is a public website, and I am fully secure in posting my thoughts publicly, because you know what? I'm a frustrated twenty-something in a tough transition, in a terrible economy, in a niche industry. And I am not going to hide that from employers, professors, parents, friends, strangers. The excitement I feel right now is very real, and I risk heartbreak and sadness all over again for what could become a missed opportunity to perform above and beyond in an excellent position for a great company. I really need to share that feeling with you, because it is the tiny little glimpse of the future -- of producing great things and of the potential I have sitting right here at my desk -- that keeps me from giving up.

Life, at this moment

How can anyone resist a survey, right?
Right now, I am...
:: marveling at my new, beautiful set of rings from an amazing silversmith in Jerusalem, Israel--they feel perfect
:: tired of weekly assigned readings for my classes. I'm truly, honestly over reading for class.
:: laughing because that is what you do when things are out of your control and you just have to embrace the moment, and the unknown beyond it
:: overwhelmed by the effort, art, and never-ending disheartening search for a full-time job after graduation
:: pleasantly surprised that there is a cupcake kiosk right near my office that is better than any I've been able to find lately. dangerous.
:: wondering where in the heck I will be living in 4 months' time (also, what I'll be doing...)
:: grateful for my boyfriend
:: hearing silence, one of my most favorite sounds
:: going to the coffee shop down the street soon, since I skipped breakfast and my regular morning cup earlier
:: planning an art project
:: digging deeper every day into the history, activism, and modern-day issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and its devastation
:: creating new friendships (by being brave enough to seek them out)
:: listening to something greater than me, trusting that having no plan is OK right now
:: saying less is more
:: inspired by every square I view of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and the stories and lives behind each
:: happy to be in Atlanta, Georgia
:: delighted that my capstone project might actually work
:: waiting to see what meaning I can create out of my passions, interests, and talents -- is there a job that suits all I seek to do, be, change, in this world?
:: being the person I am, each day at a time

That's the way this wheel keeps working out.

On this lovely day, February 19, 2011, I was driving home from Barnes & Noble thinking of all the things that make my life so good, right now. There are many, including the amazing people I have surrounding me. But this list does not include people--they are the biggest given. I am not a big-crowd, many-friend person, but the people I do love mean a great deal to me. And these are all of the other things that came to mind as I sat in my car, and then attempted to recall later on in my apartment. And a few things I don't love.

Putting them down at this moment, so that when life turns again, I can see what was meaningful at this point.

Things I love:

  • the 850 square feet in this world that are my own
  • dancing in my living room because no one is around to make fun of me (except my cat)
  • citron yellow (even though I cannot wear that color)
  • more recently, anything in murky, even ballet-pink. Mauve, if you will.
  • the itty bitty iPod nano I reluctantly bought to replace the one I lost at the gym. It has a clip. It's touch screen. It has only music I actually want to hear right now.
  • the idea of cooking
  • sometimes, cooking
  • patchwork things. but not all patchwork things.
  • Denyse Schmidt's inspired, modern but not too modern quilt designs
  • tiny, vintage prints (on fabrics)
  • school. Really, truly honestly, I love it so much. I will love and hate when it ends.
  • reading books. avoiding reading books. buying books. writing in the margins of my books. underlining passages in my books. thinking that someday I will have a giant bookshelf. having lots of smaller bookshelves now.
  • the colors on my walls
  • organized spaces. clean spaces.
  • my long, white $15 couch
  • my car
  • starting a book
  • finishing a book. (have I already said books?)
  • being able to pay my bills, even if it means I can't pay for much else. Truly a blessing.
  • the thrill and fear of giving a talk at a history conference (next weekend)
  • the lyrics to John Mayer's song Wheel
  • Dunkin' Donuts coffee. The Best.
  • my black plastic glasses.
  • that my parents are downsizing, and heading abroad to mission work once they are empty nesters. Definitely better, for them, than sitting around waiting for holidays when your kids come home.
  • podcasts
  • Patrick Cox and all of the talented people who work with him on PRI's The World broadcast
  • Pimento cheese
  • Sweetpockets cupcakes
  • walking on Georgia State's campus, observing the many types of people who walk with me (and sometimes, getting fashion inspiration)
  • spring, encouraging warm weather
  • Twitter. I really love Twitter, and all of its wonderful, unfettered potential.
  • daydreaming of the projects I want to accomplish in my life. Some sooner, some later. Like the thing I want to sew tonight, and the book I want to write later. Et al.
  • the Public grocery store by my house. It has amazing urban-audience items, and very nice, late hours. They know the people they serve around these parts. Plus, Publix has the best employees, really.

Things I am not so crazy about:

  • the thrill and fear of giving a talk at a history conference
  • car maintenance
  • the fact that I need a car to get to all the places in my life
  • ugly, generic dining room light fixtures (which is why I changed mine)
  • the prospect that many of the funds for programs I care about (and that my career may depend on) are facing big cuts. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • not being able to wear sunglasses on days when I am wearing my black, plastic glasses
  • not having enough time to consistently exercise
  • pre-washing my fabric. I don't like lots of steps in between me and my projects. This is made worse by not having a washer and dryer. However, I am a firm believer in pre-washing. So I always do it.
  • the fact that I have never been to New York City. I really feel there's a part of me that belongs there.

"You can build a house of leaves, and live like it's an evergreen /

It's just a season thing / it's just this thing the seasons do /

And that's the way this wheel keeps working out /

... Can't love too much one part of it"

John Mayer