Author: adkissone

50 things before 25 | 18

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The next item on my 50 things before 25 list I’m able to cross off is number 18: volunteering. However, in doing so, I feel like I’m only physically crossing it off my list, while I will be continuing to find ways of helping after my experience. 

Along my track of not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I thought teaching English could be for me. It was the one subject I always loved in school, I could obtain a job doing it potentially anywhere in the world, and well, why not? While I later understood my why nots of teaching, I remained on a few emailing lists for volunteer teaching days. 

I received an email about a month ago stating the St. Louis area chapter of Junior Achievement needed a few spots to be filled for a nearby elementary school. I jumped at the chance to spend a day teaching a class of kindergarteners the importance of money, education, and sharing. While in the classroom, I read the students several stories and lead class activities provided by Junior Achievement. 

While I had volunteers come to my classes when I was in elementary school, I didn’t recognize at the time how important their teachings were for my and my classmate’s growth. It’s important to implement the value in education at a young age to cement the potential for students’ success. From this experience, I’m hoping to seek out more volunteer opportunities in the area. 

A Book Review | 01

Twain's Feast

While working at Textbook Services on campus, I am constantly surrounded by books. To some, whatever. To me, endless inspiration. While I walk the aisles of the textbooks that I have counted, stickered, checked-out to students, and done inventory for, I can’t help but want to read those that catch my eye. That includes anything under English, art, history, geography, various languages, philosophy, psychology, sociology, mass communications, marketing, anthropology, feminism… you get the idea. I would read nearly every book in the place if I had the time. To some, I find myself more sucked in than with others, so I check them out, and bring them home with me to read.

One such book is Andrew Beahrs’ Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens. It covers several of my favorite topics: literature, history, and food. It’s a reading for Geography 111, those lucky kids.

In the book, Beahrs explains his love for Twain, and his journey of falling in love with the food that Twain wrote about. He writes of eating breakfast on his 33rd birthday with Twain; he cooks a meal of “a mighty porterhouse steak an inch and a half thick, hot and sputtering from the griddle; dusted with fragrant pepper; enriched with little melting bits of butter of the most unimpeachable freshness and genuineness;… a great cup of American home-made coffee, with the cream a-froth on top,… some smoking hot biscuits, [and] a plate of hot buckwheat cakes, with transparent syrup,” to quote Twain.

Each chapter is separated based on various American meals Mark Twain wrote about while traveling abroad, and missing traditional cuisine found in the states. One that stuck out to me was “It Makes Me Cry to Think of Them; Prairie-Hens, from Illinois.” As I have spent my entire life in Illinois, of course this sticks out to me. But also, within the chapter, Beahrs travels to Newton, Illinois, a town approximately 60 miles from where I went to high school. While the only reason I have ever been to Newton, was to see the experimental/metal band Side-Lined that originated there, it is also the home of the last 300 Prairie Chickens in Illinois. He went to this farm, and learned all there was to know about the area: farms, population, way of life, food.

Included in the text were various ways of cooking Prairie Chickens:

Prairie Chickens Stewed Whole

Skin the birds, cut off the head and feet, draw them without breaking the intestines, and truss them so that they will be short and plump. Put them into a large saucepan with sufficient butter to prevent burning, and brown them; when the birds are brown, add for each one a tablespoon of dry flour, and stir them about until the flour is brown. Then put in a gill of tomato-catsup for each bird, enough boiling water to cover them, and a palatable seasoning of salt and pepper, and cook them slowly for two hours, or until they are tender. Serve the birds with their sauce and plain boiled potatoes.

-Juliet Corson, Practical American Cookery and Household Management, 1886

My favorite quote from Beahrs’ book:

“I’ve always hated it when people say that America doesn’t have a real cuisine, as though fast food were the only thing we can truly call our own…food is our most basic connection to the world, our fundamental means of sustaining ourselves on earth; it’s always seemed intuitively wrong to me to say that America lacks rooted culinary traditions. Surely we have them, even if many have been buried beneath a sodden heap of McNuggets.”

50 things before 25 | 06

prssa-transp

One of the items on my list of 50 things to do before I turn 25 is to become a member of a club at my university.

The purpose of putting this on the list was to actively force myself to become more active on campus. I was wholeheartedly active while in high school, participating in everything from science club to art club to show choir, cross country, scholastic bowl, and journalism. I rarely had a day free from the multitude of activities I threw myself at, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Since coming to college, however, I haven’t taken advantage of the many opportunities the campus presents to its students. I feel that joining a club was important not only to bolster my resume, but also to get me out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and gain important skills for after college.

I had never heard of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) until Stacey Howard’s (http://mycauserie.wordpress.com/) Introduction to Public Relations class, in which she mentioned it as a unique career-boosting tool. Well, I’m all about career-boosting, so I went to the first meeting, in which I met some of the members and found out what being a member was all about, while eating delicious desserts. Since the first meeting, I have joined their Relay for Life team, attended a LinkedIn workshop, spoke with previous PRSSA members who now have careers in the communications field, attended a social media meeting, and learned about various volunteer opportunities in the area. This coming Wednesday is a resume workshop which would cost $100 for any non-member of PRSSA.

I couldn’t be happier that I joined the club that I did, rather than an unorganized one that meets “every once in awhile,” is just a filler for my resume, and doesn’t give me invaluable networking and organizational skills.

If you are interested in joining PRSSA, check out prssa.org to find information for the one at your school!

Upside-Down Thoughts

Painter: Frank Stella

Painter: Frank Stella

Like many children who are fortunate enough to have parents like mine, parents who wish to educate and influence their children in a variety of skills and opportunities, I took piano lessons for a few years. Unlike my brother, whose playing came naturally to him, I never found enough interest in it to want to practice. As a rule, I had to practice for a minimum of an hour a day, to hone my skills and be prepared for each week’s lesson.

To add to my disinterest in playing, my piano teacher was one of the most terrifying people I had ever met in my young life. If you have seen the movie Big Fish, picture the “witch” that lives alone, and upon looking her in the eye, you see your death. Except with this woman, the end never seemed near enough, and she never turned into a misunderstood fictional character. She truly was a terrifying human.

For both of these reasons, I found myself during practice time finding ways to entertain myself. Whether it was sitting at the piano, plucking at the keys with my poor (or angelic, whichever way you look at it) cat’s paws, finding patterns within the music, or drawing pictures on the sheets, I was always trying to do something else.

My all-time favorite thing to do was to lay on my back on the piano bench, looking at things upside-down. While I was taking piano lessons, we still lived at my family’s farm, a spacious old house built to accommodate at one point a family of 15. My parents have been antique collectors since before I was born, so our house has always been filled with furniture, glassware, lamps, mirrors, paintings, everything outside of modern-day necessities aging anywhere between 40 to 150 years older than present. This led my upside-down experiences down a historically-swapped day dream. While my parents’ tastes don’t always aline with my own, it couldn’t be helped that their’s would influence my own tastes one way or another. While their tastes lean toward Victorian curves and pastels, I enjoy more postmodernism pop-art, 1960s minimalism, and a missionary-style cabinet or two.

Though day dreaming wasn’t uncommon in my childhood, I got lost in these thoughts to such a degree that I still enjoy laying upside-down when I need inspired, need to look at things differently, need to be lost in my thoughts. I can lay here in my apartment that is decorated with my tastes inspired by my parents’ and just look: the speed limit sign that my mom & I “obtained” one laughter-filled afternoon, a large red crayon coin bank belonging in a child’s room but still holding my interest, Andy Warhol prints from middle school, post cards from Tate Modern, an enormous lamp from the ’80s. These things rearrange themselves in my thoughts while I get lost: everything is more organized this way. While I “walk” my feet along the crisp white ceiling, all of life’s nonsense has dropped to the floor, and out of my way. All the homework, applications, resumes, obligations have stopped impeding my clear mindset and straight-forward inspiration has fallen upon me. I imagine walking on this ceiling right out of my bedroom and into the world a more level-headed version of myself. 

If only we could lay on our backs and see the world upside-down whenever we needed to calm down and de-stress. If you’ve never done it, I highly suggest it. Get lost in your thoughts, and reawaken with childish wonder, happiness, inspiration.  

50 Things Before 25 | 21

I did not wear make-up for the entire month of February. 

In high school, during my years of never-ending pressure to look absolutely presentable at all times, I never went a single day without wearing my full “face,” never went swimming without re-doing my make-up immediately after, never went to track practice without being concerned if it was getting messed up. I was completely dependent on this look I had created for myself, and I wasn’t willing to let myself be seen any other way.

Upon coming to college, my personal discipline pertaining to beauty and vanity became more lax; I sometimes only wore mascara and cover-up for unfortunate blemishes. My life became too busy to care while juggling work, school, homework, family, friends, a long-distance relationship, and sleep somewhere in my free time. For this reason, and my boyfriend preferring me make-up free, it had become more common for me to bare my skin. 

When I noticed the new trend of #freshfacefebruary, I couldn’t help but see it as an excellent opportunity to “force” myself to go without make-up for a month and see what kind of impact it made on me. While I never posted a picture of myself during that time, I did feel very confident in what my face looked like without make-up. I began to pick out other girls and women who regularly went fresh-faced, and I saw the beauty in their confidence. Why had our culture insisted we cover up our natural attributes? While it is now March, and I have allowed myself to slip back into somewhat of a routine of wearing cosmetics, I keep thinking: what do all these beautiful women look like uncovered? Would we all feel better about ourselves if we just went without make-up? How would it better impact teenage girls if they had role models who were comfortable in their own skin? 

I hate that the pressure to wear rather than not exists. I am wearing it now because I enjoy it, and my plan is to never feel pressured on an off day to look more presentable than I feel like being. 

 

50 things before 25 | 08

It is my plan to continue blogging even after this semester and class ends. This blog may not continue in the same format or under the same name, but I think having an online portfolio of ideas and writing is invaluable, especially in today’s job market.

Going All In

To do this, I needed a camera to document my writings, using original material. I’ve always been interested in photography, taking a class in high school, borrowing others’ cameras when possible, and dabbling in photo editing and modeling. I just never thought I have the skill set to need a nice camera, so I didn’t consider investing in one.

However, I recently told my mom about this list that I’m trying to accomplish and that I’m planning on saving up to purchase a camera of my own, and she offered me hers! I couldn’t believe it. I had borrowed her camera during my time studying abroad in London last summer, and it was everything I wanted out of a camera.

I will edit this post soon, to include an image with, or of, the camera. I’m so happy to have already checked one of the items off my 50!

50 things before 25

Photo Courtesy of Steve Adkisson

Photo Courtesy of Steve Adkisson

For the past few years, I’ve noticed my own decline in the search for a more inspiring life. I can’t say every aspect of my life has represented this, but I don’t see the world through the same open eyes that I did when I was in high school. To combat this, I’ve compiled a list of things that I want to accomplish before my 25th birthday. At that point, three and half years from now, I hope to be living a creative, professional life. Along the way, I want to photograph, and post about, the following:

1. Go to Europe again
2. Buy weather-proof shoes
3. Invest in professional “adult” clothes
4. Bake a from-scratch cake or cupcakes
5. Learn calligraphy
6. Join a college club [done]
7. Submit my writing for publication
8. Get a camera [done]
9. Keep a consistent blog
10. Learn cooking basics & master a few dishes
11. Sort through all of my emails/subscriptions
12. Try yoga
13. Throw a “Finer Things” party
14. Visit Springfield, MO.
15. Finish my 365 Day journal
16. Buy a coffee maker
17. Embroider/knit/sew something
18. Volunteer [done]
19. Try good sushi
20. Write to “Dear Abby”
21. Don’t wear make-up for a month [done]
22. Don’t drink pop for a month
23. Don’t eat meat for a month
24. Don’t drive to class for a month
25. Wake up at 5am everyday for a month
26. Read “Emma” by Jane Austen
27. Read every book I own, and donate all the ones I don’t hold dear
28. Take a college art class
29. Figure out what wine I like
30. Go on a juice cleanse
31. Make a collection of handmade cards
32. Make a “London” scrapbook
33. Make a “Miguel + I” scrapbook
34. Make a high school memories scrapbook
35. Visit Mrs. Van Natta
36. Photograph my parents
37. Photograph my grandparents
38. Photograph my hometowns
39. Move all of my (non-storage) belongings out of my parents’ house
40. Move into a non-student housing apartment
41. Have my own business cards
42. Keep a plant alive
43. Go to Mexico
44. Go to Canada
45. Write up a solid resume
46. Buy decent cooking utensils
47. Make my internet presence my portfolio/brand image
48. Try 10 new (to me) restaurants/businesses/places in the surrounding area
49. Obtain an internship (or two)
50. Graduate college

Public Relations Plan for Housing Development

Photo: Personal Property

I have created a PR plan for a fictitious brand new housing development with multiple issues that have been reported by disgruntled tenants. This development, less than one year old, has its first occupants living in the apartments. The price per bedroom (for a four bedroom apartment) is $600. While this includes a private bathroom for each occupant, the bedrooms are still small, and with the added maintenance complaints, it is arguably not worth living there. On top of the $600/month, resigning a lease for the following year, will cost an additional $100 for “activities fees” and new leasers will have to pay $200.

Issues reported by tenants include:

-Mold in windows (bedrooms & common area)
-Cold rooms because the spray applied on the mold by maintenance men ate away the paint, calking, and drywall around windows
-Maintenance men tearing down curtains when coming in to clean windows
-Damages on walls, doors, floors upon move-in
-Cheap paint allowing smudges upon any touch
-Lack of light bulbs upon move-in
-Cheap fake wood floor easily torn, some upon move-in
-Poor customer service at office
-Water in apartments periodically not working
-Nails in walls & ceilings showing
-Water stains in ceiling
-Limited guest parking
-Apartment numbers stolen
-Not following federally regulated issuing of addresses for apartment buildings, and coming up with their own addresses for occupants, leaving them unusable. This led to lack of mail for weeks, public humiliation at the post office’s judgment, and lack of safety for occupants because the apartments could not be found by GPS, and 911 would not work in case of fire or emergency.

Because it would be in the best interest of the apartment complex to keep tenants at all costs, I would advise the following:

-Hire a public relations professional who specializes in crisis coverage
-Acknowledge mold in some of the apartments, ask other tenants if they have mold. If they do: clean mold, replace window & calking, offer to pay medical bills, remove additional $100 to live there the following year.
-Lower monthly prices or state that remodels will be made for all problems if price remains
-Build more parking
-Fix damaged roof

How to Pack

Photo: Personal Property

When preparing for a trip, the first thing I do is lay out all the things that I know that I either want or need to take with me. To take into account: climate, upcoming activities, lodging, and possible national differences from home.

Photo: Personal Property

When I studied abroad in London for six weeks, I was able to fit everything I needed in one medium-sized suitcase, a carry-on bag, and a personal bag. From this experience, I now know it is very unlikely that I will ever need to take that much with me on future travels because I now know what is truly necessary.

Rather than explaining all the things that I packed for a six week long trip, instead I’ll lend suggestions for a trip of a shorter duration. For example, I find it to be considerably easier planning for my trip if I decide on a few basic colors for my clothing. I usually stick to black, navy, and cream, with accents of lighter blue and red. That way, you don’t need to pack full outfits for each day, and can use each item multiple times.

For a two-week-long UK vacation during the early summer, I would suggest taking:
-1 compact umbrella
-Shoes: 1 pair each of flats that can be dressed up, versatile sandals, sneakers, and boots for when it rains (wear bulkiest shoes during flight to save space in suitcase)
-Converter plug-in
-Toiletries: be sure to follow flight regulations before arriving at airport, and pack them in a quart-sized zip-lock bag! Another helpful tip is to invest in bars of soap and shampoo to save space for other items in the baggie
-Pants: 2 pairs of blue jeans, 1 pair of black jeans, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts
-Tops: 3 cardigans, 4 undershirts, 5 neutral shirts, 1 button-up
-Dresses: 2 casual, 1 nicer
-Undergarments: research before-hand if there are washing machines available where you are staying, to pack lighter and bring a small amount of detergent with you
-Raincoat/Jacket: the rumors are true! It really does rain frequently in this region, and the summers aren’t as warm as most American areas
-Accessories: bring (inexpensive) fun jewelry with you to brighten otherwise neutral outfits
-Copies of travel documents, all forms of ID, travel insurance, maps, medications
-Travel journal, pens, stamps for postcards to send home
-Laptop
-Something to read on the plane

Photo Courtesy of Kathy Adkisson

Preseli Venture: The Ultimate Experience

Photo: Courtesy of Kailan Harms

Photo: Courtesy of Kailan Harms

When arriving by train at Fishguard, you will be greeted by a friendly face, and a large van in which you will be helped to load your bags into. Once seated and secure, you will be driven along winding roads wide enough only to allow one car at a time. When meeting others traveling in the opposite direction, one of the two cars are forced to drive backwards, until coming to a driveway or other road, in order to get out of the way. The realm of this country area is truly a magical scene: grass as tall as corn stocks hug the sides of the narrow roads, making a solely lush green window-scape.

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Fink

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Fink

Preseli Ventures, nestled in Britain’s only national park, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, is the ultimate travel accommodation. This twenty-five year-old adventure destination is the perfect place for a week, or weekend, spent in Wales.

Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Aeschliman

Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Aeschliman

I participated in a weekend trip at Preseli Ventures aimed at study abroad students. Upon arriving at the five star lodging, we were shown our beds, showers, and common area. The common area included tables for eating, a fully-stocked bar, stereo system, pool table, and television. The common area is the only place in the entire area with wifi or service of any kind, placing you in a world away from distractions.

While there, I went coasteering, cliff jumping, kayaking, and hiking along the coast (shown in last picture) with some great friends that I met while studying abroad at Richmond, the American International University in London, England. I held multiple jellyfish in my hands, swam past a seal lounging on a wooden door, ate incredible homemade food, and felt completely alive and in the moment. If you ever get the chance, go.