Monday, August 15, 2016

How to be An Adult

By: Hilary Neesam

I wish someone had warned me about turning 27.

For instance, I wish someone had said, hey girl, just so you know, because you’re like totally an adult now, things are going to be different. There are days, more often than not, that you will feel sad, bored, and incredibly lonely. There are days, more often than not, that you will wake up and wonder where in the world your unbounded imagination went (why don't you want to fight pirates anymore?). Every single day you will wonder if you’re doing life right, and you’re definitely going to wonder, every single day, what “doing life right” even means. All of this worrying and fear and self-doubt is going to almost kill you. And that’s no hyperbole. You are going to have to fight to survive.

But nobody warned me. Not really, at least. What a crock of shit.

For the longest time I tried answering the question what am I supposed to do with my life? What am I supposed to do?! Well, brush my teeth, eat my veggies, get some vitamin D. I know I’m supposed to do those things. But what am I supposed to do with my LIFE? Well, what do you get when you mix an elephant and a rhino.

Hell. If. I. Know.

I’m 27 and still as confused and anxious as I was at 15. I think my problem stems from expectations. When I was young and awkward and so utterly uncomfortable in my skin, I always expected, and took comfort in thinking, that as I grew older things would eventually get better. But now that I’m an adult (and therefore exceptionally full of wisdom, obviously), I’ve finally caught on that there will always be something to take the place of a pimply forehead or a bad basketball game.

A friend of mine made a good point about expectations at different stages of life. When you’re a child, you’re hurting for reason a, b, and c, but it’s okay because when you become a teenager everything will be better. Then you become a teenager, and is that ever awful! Because now you’ve got responsibilities, PUBERTY, a new a, b, and c to worry about. But damnit, you’re still alright because when you graduate and go to college... Oh boy! Will THAT ever be the bee's knees! (Okay, I admit, college WAS the bee’s knees, but it also was terrifying and telling and all kinds of depressing.) No fear, because when you become a REAL adult you’ll finally have your shit together... See where I’m going here? To be alive is to suffer, and no matter what stage of life, any living, breathing human being is a testament to this cold hard fact.

Something I’ve been doing a lot of lately to cure my quarter-life-crisis blues is travel. I’ve hightailed it out of Wisconsin more times than I can remember because I thought leaving would help me discover the missing pieces of the puzzle called life. But when I reflect on all the trips I’ve ever taken, I can’t help but think not everything is as it seems.

Washington, Montana, California, Florida, Utah, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Michigan, Georgia— so many expectations I had for these places, yet they are all as busy, beautiful, and messy as the last. And whenever I arrive home, I am left only with the realization that my life is one big blur.

Disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong. I love traveling. It helps me breathe easier, it makes me more curious and appreciative. But I’m not going to pretend it’s a cure for all my struggles.

Someone once told me, "you alone are responsible for the quality of your life."  I think that person was maybe an alcoholic, and I think she was drinking a cocktail when she told me that, but she speaks truth. Each individual is liable for their future. And it's part of growing up that we start to recognize this liability. I understand that we are not promised a damn thing, that emptiness and loneliness are probably the only things we are close to being guaranteed. I understand that bad things happen and good things happen and sometimes you’re sad and sometimes you’re happy. I’m also starting to understand that just about all we can do is endure.
All of this being said, I’m not a total depressive and dispiriting cynic. I’m not sure why I wrote it, really. Just venting I guess. Just trying to get this out of my head. I’ll blame it on a quarter-life crisis. I’m happy a lot of the time. I’m sad some of the time. Being an adult rocks my socks off. I love the freedom and knowledge I've obtained as I've entered into adulthood and who I've become because of it, but sometimes it just kind of sucks. When a child, it is impossible to know that little by little, day by day, you ultimately will forget what it was that made you want to fight a pirate in the first place. I think I just really miss fighting pirates.

I’ve chosen to live a life set by my own standards (difficult but doable), and I try to encourage others to do the same. I try my best to make the quality of my life Grade-A, like an oil change at Jiffy Lube (damn if that shit ain’t expensive). But I don’t think I’ll ever figure out what the correct way of adulting actually is. At least I can find comfort in knowing absolutely no one has it figured out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Open Letter to the World,

Dear world,
Hello, my darling.

Let's be real; the world has been kind of a scary place lately. No, not kind of--it's been terrifying. And every time I wake up and read the news, another part of me breaks for you. It breaks because I can't fathom the misunderstanding people hold for one another. It breaks because I just want to scream at them to listen. It breaks because none of this has to happen. It breaks because I know that we are so much better than this. So much more.

And I see you.

I see you crying and I see your soul broken. But, if there's one thing I know it's this: the power of your tears. Your tears fall on us and they pull us up with their strength and purity. Your tears fall on all of us and we're forced to look up and pause. Look around. And pause.

Forced to look at what we've done. Intentionally. Unintentionally. To see each other, truly, for the first time.

We see your strength... we see our strength. And that is beauty.

Your soul won't heal by itself, but as your tears fall, more and more people will listen.

We hear you.

Your soul will heal because I know that hatred is misunderstanding and misunderstanding is avoidable. Your soul will heal because I know it's possible for everyone to listen, to care. Your soul will heal because I know that we are so much better than this.

And, with the good that I know is in all of us, we will heal. Together.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Abigail Mercaldo: Cousins

Photos by: Abbie

It's been great the past week with my cousins visiting. With my grandparents moving in recently, I get the opportunity to see my extended family more often than I have in the past. My cousins are stunning (clearly) but they have such a contrast in personality. I think it shows pretty well through these photos. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sunflower Fields and Sunray Hearts

Last summer, we stumbled upon a beautiful field of Sunflowers near Madison and as the Instagram posts starting popping up again, we decided to take a spontaneous mini road-trip to the fields of sun. With all of the tragic happenings around the world lately, it's easy to forget that there is good in this world. That goodness is all around. Soak it up. 

Our Faux-Chella Line-up

It's always been a goal of ours to attend Coachella because we have an affinity for good music and flower crowns. However, as we're still dreaming, we paired up with Gina from TickPick to pick up a line-up for our own fake Coachella. Below you will find our dream list of bands and artists that we would simply die if we saw all in the span of a few days.

Who would be on your Faux-Chella list? 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Abbie Mercaldo: Stan's Donuts

Photos by: Abbie 

These are some shots from a photoshoot I did around Wicker Park in Chicago. I'm in love with Stan's Donuts. It made for some great shots and great donuts!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#Parcel500 Mid-Year Reflection

By: Kaitlyn 

When I first started a project of sending 500 letters this year, I had zero expectations. I really liked sending out cards the previous year when I had done it and I just wanted to do more. I didn't know at the beginning of the year that I would grow to absolutely love not only writing letters, but finding cute stationary and meeting card makers from all around the world. 

In this world of social media, I think that there's something to be said about hand-written correspondence. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing social media by any means (I live a large part of my life online), but there's something that can't beat a piece of paper with someone's handwriting on it, a piece of paper that someone devoted at least a few minutes of their time to send to you. 

People's generosity throughout this whole project has been absolutely mind-blowing to me. Card makers from all around have just donated their products. Sometimes they would send me one card to use, sometimes, companies would send me full boxes of goodies (here's looking at you, Design Design).

I've not only been able to interact with artists, but I've been able to use and support their products and that just makes me the happiest person in the world.

I've also been able to work with Kit & Ace and host an event in which we created our own cards and had a letter-writing party on a Sunday morning (complete with mimosas).

So much can be accomplished once we start to lift each other up.

The most gratifying part of this project has been meeting all of my lovely pens pals. A small portion of my pen pals were old friends that I wanted to reconnect with, but the majority of my letters were sent to people I have never even met.

These people have been so genuine and beautiful in every way. I have made some true friendships all just through written correspondence. People have opened up their lives and their stories to me and that makes my heart fuller than anything else possibly could.

I hope to meet all of you one day in person and give you the biggest hugs, but I'm so excited for what another half of a year (and hopefully more) has in store for us.

Currently, I am working on my 249th letter. Since that's so close to being halfway done, I thought now would be a great time to write this post. I do have some catching up to do to reach my goal, but I'm confident that I can kick my butt into gear.

If you're thinking about writing a friend, do it. Do it now. You don't have to write 500 letters, you don't even have to write ten. But sending one letter and getting one letter back in the mail weeks later is the most heart-warming feeling.

If you're a card maker and want to donate cards or if you want to be pen pals, send me an email at