Sunday, October 26, 2014

True New Englander

I'll never forget my elation at seeing the drudgery of the misty gray clouds consume the City of Boston as my plane landed. Although I had just spent a fabulous week in sunny Florida with my travel companion and friend, Patsy, I missed home. Florida had palm trees, warm beaches, St. Augustine, and oranges, but I missed fall leaves, mountain vistas, Littleton, and apple cider.

Traveling is incredibly fulfilling for me, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to leave home twice this year. I'm ecstatic to look forward and plan my trips for 2015, but I think travel is more delightful when one knows they have a glorious place to return to, a place of most contentment.

For me this is Franconia Notch, but Florida reminded me that I'm not just a North Country girl or even a New Hampshirite, but a New Englander. Although I can only handle urbanism in small doses, Boston is my city. Although it's a real nuisance to shovel out my car, I'd rather sweat in my winter coat than on the car seat in 90 degree weather.

Warwick Long Bay in Bermuda is the most stunning beach I have ever visited, but salty hair and rustic tug boats make me feel complete. New England is a diverse region that has not only coastline, but lakes and mountains as well. We enjoy four seasons (five if you consider mud), and the most beautiful Autumns in the world. I learned this when I began working for the Chamber.

We may be pretentious and keep to ourselves, but in my small town of Sugar Hill, I have seen neighbors come together out of help, support, and yes, gatherings. New England is home to the meetinghouse and many of our towns are still run by a Board of Selectmen and town meetings. 

These towns perpetuate history, and although I visited the oldest city in America (St. Augustine), New England history is what really fascinates me. We have Plymouth Rock and the first Thanksgiving, the shot heard 'round the world, transcendentalism, the nation's oldest college, the Old Man of the Mountain, and more. It's the rebellious spirit of American Revolutionary roots and the unconventional philosophy of transcendentalism that inspires and makes me proud to say that I am from New England. 

Not only that, it's the summer strawberries and autumn apples that keep me here. Tonight I dined at the Common Man in Lincoln and left satisfied by a New England supper. Our food is hearty and delicious. I could never give up cider donuts, acorn squash, blueberry muffins, maple syrup, or whoopie pies! Fall does have a smell and it is incredible.

I love New England for its history, beauty, cuisine, and activities. I can be found kayaking on a lake in summer or picking blueberries in the fields. Fall brings foliage hikes while in winter I ski. There are so many outdoor activities that I enjoy doing and New England is the place where I can do them all. It's fantastic to have this variance.

I was born in a Massachusetts port city, grew up in a suburb, and now live in the mountains of New Hampshire. I can never see myself leaving.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Vespa: La Dolce Vita

Tim has given up on me. He says I am too short, that we will never find an on/off road dirt bike that will fit my stature of 5'1"--nor his tall standards. It's a rather depressing prospect, seeing as I got my motorcycle license on May 3, 2013 and haven't been on two wheels since. Well, two motorized wheels.

I haven't given up hope. Even if I have to wait a few more years to stumble across an orange '70s bike with low suspension, I know one is out there. Bring on the kick-start.

For now I have developed a new plan, however, one that formulated from a flashback:


Italy. My 2011 transatlantic voyage and first time leaving the U.S. (Read all about it here.) Not only did I maintain my weight while licking gelato everyday, but I admired the cobblestone streets, fashions, and scooters that buzzed all over town. Although I had only purchased my bug a few months before (das Auto), I could picture myself whizzing by, a colorful blur humming down the street. If Germany's vehicle is the Volkswagen Beetle, then Italy's is certainly the Piaggio Vespa.

In the back of my mind I've always wanted a scooter. The list was bug, dirt bike, scooter. While waiting for a dirt bike that I can touch the ground on, I'd like to re-acclimatize myself to two motorized wheels, and a scooter is now the best option.

The Vespa LX 150 i.e. is probably their most popular model, and the one I would go for had it not been for the company's launch of the revived Primavera 150. Not only does it pack 117 mpg versus the LX's 75, its top speed is still 59 mph. At only $100 more retail, the Primavera's design is inspired by vintage models. Behold:



=') It makes me happy. Almost as happy as the bug. After researching my color options (because that's what we girls do), I've concluded that red is vibe for me; bold, retro, edgy.

(OMG she has a camera!)


Now to be the logical, rational thinker that I strive to be, I need to look at this from all angles. I live in Sugar Hill. Hill. They do not lie with the name- we have hills. It's not that the thing couldn't power me up it, I'd just be a tad nervous about it. It's not like I'd scoot down to Nanny's either (though it would look adorable on the streets of Newburyport!), I'd just drive it to work and to Littleton.

So this is on the list, which has changed from bug, dirt bike, scooter to bug, scooter, dirt bike. (I haven't crossed bug off the list, because I am actually in the market for a new one...).

Oh- and the license plate would be MGASCT.


{MegaScoot}

Saturday, March 29, 2014

When I graduate...

Last week I registered at Lyndon for the last time. Although I'm ready for summer, I am also looking forward to snow again--because in December, I graduate! I will be completely DONE with school, an incredibly refreshing feeling. I'm at that point now where many people ask me, "What will you do after you graduate?", somehow thinking I will not be able to occupy all of the time I currently spend on school. However, I have an entire list of what I will be doing post graduation:


  • Building my business. I will have time to take the BETA (Business and Entrepreneurial Technical Assistance) course at WREN as well as other photography workshops, including those at C1M Academy in Amherst. I might also teach a few photography workshops of my own! (Stay tuned...)
  • Improving my photography. Along with workshops, I will also dedicate more time to shooting and submitting my work to galleries and contests as well as joining more organizations (Chambers, photography associations, etc.).
  • Traveling. I love new experiences and documenting the places I visit. Learning is not confined to the classroom, and I know my travels will provide me with a more in-depth education. Additionally, travel is an excellent way to improve photography!
  • Writing. I've always wanted to be a writer, even before I first picked up a camera. I will have enough time to write creatively and perhaps look into publishing. Furthermore, I have a few professional writing opportunities that I will pursue further, including guest blogging at MassFinds.
  • Crocheting. This is an old hobby of mine. I started in the third grade but have lost touch with it due to time constraints. I'm hoping to become a "happy hooker" yet again! (And maybe even learn how to knit.)
  • Homesteading. Another passion of mine, I'm going to help with my family's garden this summer and eventually make everything myself from food to toilet cleaners. My goal is to follow the Paleo and green lifestyles and everything advised by my favorite blog, Empowered Sustenance. (She's awesome! Check her out.)
  • Exercising. This has been a battle. As I'm dating a super active boy, I don't think it will be difficult, I just need the time! I'd like to kayak, bike, hike, cross-country and downhill ski. No gym for me!!!
  • Skiing. Today I went skiing on Cannon Mountain with my mom and cousin, Eddie. I forgot how much I love it. It took a few runs, but it finally came back to me and I look forward to improving. (One perk of being a college student is the 4NH Pass- an inexpensive season pass to Cannon, Bretton Woods, Cranmore, and Waterville Valley. I am definitely investing in this before I graduate.)
  • Buying a new car. I've had the bug for three years now and am praying it lasts until I graduate. After that I'm hoping to find a green 2010 with a sunroof and manual transmission. Is that too much to ask? Hahaha.
  • Buying a house. After working as a residential loan assistance and reading many books on finance, I will never rent an apartment. Instead of lining a landlord's pocket I'd rather put that money into equity. It may take a few years, but I can definitely do it.

I'm so excited because I know all of these things are feasible. I work for myself and love what I do, and I know my business will take off. (It already has!) In addition to that I'd love to be a freelance writer/photographer for Yankee Magazine and National Geographic, among a few others. What's also helpful in my situation is that I will be graduating with no student loans. NONE. I will have earned a Bachelor's, two Associate's and a minor without any federal or private aid. I'm so thankful for the opportunities I've had, as student loans are such a huge weight I will not have to deal with. (I'm also going to live with cats and plants instead of dogs and kids, which will allow me to spend my time and money on everything listed above.)

So for everyone who's wondering what I will do post college graduation, I have it all figured out. =)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tweet, tweet, buh bye!

I just deleted my personal Twitter and Instagram accounts. It was a rather spontaneous decision, but I'm so happy I did it.

Before I did, however, I had to think it through. (After all, one must be logical.) Was this an abrupt decision from a maniacal moment, or the result of much subconscious pondering? I concluded the latter. To affirm my sanity--as one must do every so often--I sought the insight of others; "permission" so to speak. I stumbled across this post from a blog on minimalism. It's an excellent articulation of my feelings, but let's make it personal:

Why I deleted my personal Twitter and Instagram accounts:
  • I have become too busy living life behind my phone. Yummy ice cream? Instagram it. Cat did something funny? Gotta tweet. Instead of living in the moment I was too preoccupied with sharing it, which leads me to my next point:
  • Nobody cares. Constantly I found myself bypassing a multitude of tweets simply because I really don't give a hoot about what shampoo a friend is in love with or how much fun they're having on vacation. If it was important we'd have a personal conversation about it. When I addressed my feelings of apathy it hit me: nobody cares about my microblogging either. (I did not shed a tear over this thought.)
  • Selfies. One of my biggest nuisances was the incessant selfies that bombarded my newsfeed; social media brought narcissism to a whole new level. My frustration with selfies caused me to evaluate myself and whether I was being self absorbed and boasting with my tweets and instagrams. I think I was.
  • It's depressing. I'm no psychologist but I know the woes of social media have contributed to many miserable feelings. From experience I've felt my life was boring and have been jealous over how awesome someone else's looks. But that's just it: looks. I recently finished reading an insightful psychology book geared towards people in their twenties. In it was a chapter dedicated to the facade that Facebook and other social media sites has allowed users to create.
  • "iPhoneography". I stumbled upon an e-card that read, "Bitch please, a cell phone and Instagram does not make you a photographer." This had me in stitches! I love following professionals who post incredible photos of people, landscapes, objects, etc. but these photos could not have been captured with a phone camera and Instagram filter. There's so much more to photography than "point and shoot" that Instagram has muddled.

That being said there are many benefits of social media. It allows us to connect and discover new ideas, people, and places. It allows us to stay in touch with friends. It also allows us to market ourselves or a product freely and efficiently. For these three reasons I am keeping my Facebook and Pinterest. Also, it is why I still maintain a few Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Whaaa? Allow me to explain: This post has been about why I deleted my personal Twitter and Instagram accounts; however, I do own a business and know that these platforms are excellent for promotion. The difference is with these accounts I do not post vacuous updates, I upload photos and tidbits about what's new with the business and what I am up to. Furthermore, I don't feel frustrated or depressed when working with these accounts, I feel inspired. The purpose is professional rather personal. My professional accounts also do not occupy nearly as much time or energy as my personal did.

Finally, I'm now the Social Media Manager/Photographer for the Franconia Notch Chamber of Commerce. (Ironic, eh?) I know there's a time and a place for social media, but I believe it has gotten out of hand. Thus I have deleted my personal accounts to focus on living my life rather than documenting it. So far I find it rather refreshing.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Left and Right

In Bethlehem there is an incredible organization known as the Women's Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN). WREN offers workshops and classes geared towards the budding entrepreneur or aspiring crafter. Their gallery hosts the work of local artists and in celebration of WREN's twentieth anniversary, they are holding a monthly "Write Night in the Gallery". I decided to join! It is held the second Tuesday of every month and the group responds to prompts given by our leader, WREN's gallery coordinator Katherine Ferrier (Check out Thread!). As the exhibit changes monthly, we write about a different piece that draws us in. In January my eye immediately caught this beautiful felt piece by Beth Harwood

Titled "Topography", the colors and shapes of this piece drew me in and I knew this would be the one to write about. Below I have included one of my prompts about "Topography" written January 14, 2014. Can you guess the metaphor? =)


The platform of central processing is abuzz and conflicting. The left wants rigidity and order, the right wants flow and abstraction.

Shapes of analytics block a river of creativity. Both are in conflict with one another- until they slip- a shift in tectonic plates thrusting forth a tsunami.

Right is left and left is right. Analytics sparkle and rivers are consistent.

Shades are humbled but uniform in temperature. Bright, deep, light, bold. Yet cool.


The confliction of order and chaos is the symbiosis of left and right.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nineteen and In-Between

Birthday flowers from Sam. =)
I've been asked many times what I am doing for my birthday, but haven't been able to provide a definitive answer; I wasn't really thinking about it. February 1st snuck up on me this year because I've been too preoccupied to notice.

It's amazing just how much has changed for me in the past month. I left a steady job to focus on my studies and my photography has been taking off. I'm excited about the shoots I've been doing and the opportunities I've been presented with. Owning a business is so much fun! Significantly more so than homework.

This semester I am back at Lyndon State College to graduate with a B.A. in English and an A.S. in Business Administration this December. (Yippee!) At White Mountains Community College the majority of my classes were online, thus it has been a challenging adjustment to attending six courses face-to-face--and especially to that 50 minute one-way commute. (I have seen my gas gauge shift from full to empty three times in the past two weeks. How depressing!)

I've noticed that the main difference between this semester and the previous few is how incredibly in-between I feel. It's like I'm stuck in-between stages. The first is being a college student: going to school and staying on top of copious amounts of homework. The second is being an adult: managing a business and staying on top of bills and responsibilities. When I'm sitting in a classroom I'm taught how to do something, but I'd rather be out in the world doing it.

But that's what college is: more showing than doing.

This week a new element has arisen: I was sitting in my Creative Writing class--a topic I love--when I glanced at the clock to calculate how much longer I had to sit there. =0 I think it hit me then and there that I am no longer going to school because I have a desire to learn, I am going to school because I need to obtain a piece of paper.

There was one point in high school when I didn't want to go to college; I didn't feel that I would need a degree. And arguably, I might not. There are many people who do well with their lives through diligence and experience, not education. But why is education limited to formal schooling (and why do we judge people based on it)? What about the College of Life, as my friend Bobbe refers to it? There are many topics we have learned not from school, but from experience and interest. It seems that the information we retain is mostly that which we have had the desire to seek in the first place.

I think self education can be more important than college education. It is easier to learn on the job by doing than in a classroom by pretending. And furthermore, many of the classes we're required to take in college are not applicable to what we will be doing in life.

My favorite environment to learn in is a workshop. These micro classes are focused on a specific topic, thus tending to address the crux of the matter more quickly than a similar college course would. Furthermore, people elect to take them, and are generally more interested by the material. In my experience I've also found the group in a workshop to be more motivated and diverse. What I really love is how I enjoy completing the work and don't feel pressured to do it- I want to do it. But if I can't, I won't fail the workshop like I would fail a college class.

Maybe it's my hippie/homesteader ideals that are influencing my opinion, but this is just how I feel. There is absolutely a need for colleges- I'm thankful Sam's doctor attended one before performing his knee surgery- but in many instances, I find that a shorter college experience--more concentrated in one's desired area of study--to be more effective. I found this quote by George Bernard Shaw that is quintessential in describing my feelings: "From a very early age, I've had to interrupt my education to go to school."

Going into my nineteenth year I feel divided. My mind is having difficulty keeping up with everything: feeling like a college student but not really, an adult but not really. I know I'm not the only one. Hopefully by the twentieth birthday I will be fully enrolled in the College of Life and loving it. Stay tuned. =)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reflected in 35mm

His presence consumes me with ease, his vibration emitting an air of calm. The wise hue of his rectangular beard is emphasized by the depth of wrinkles that turn upward when he smiles or recollects old times. From his past he has developed hands dexterous and muscular with use, yet cracked with age. I love when he uses his hands to wrap me in a hug, surrounding me with peppermint. He’s addicted to Star Brite candies.

There’s an aging photo on his refrigerator, the man depicted having bright eyes and a straight smile. He’s wearing a Naval uniform. His hair is wavy, red, and short, face clean-shaven. The man he was is a contrast to the man he is today, not only in appearance.

Along with his looks, the years have shaped his personality, leaving him sensitive and afraid of conflict, though he’ll never leave when needed. From his past he carries a subconscious need to be surrounded, displayed tangibly through vast collections of nothing in particular.
            

He is reflected in 35mm through the camera he bought after high school—when he explored the world through the belly of a ship. Like the camera, he has the ability to separate beauty from distraction and focus on what he wants to see.

Grandpa is the epitome of kindness, his many layers revealing complexities that go unnoticed. But when I go through his Kodachrome slides kept in the upstairs closet, I see them, even if he doesn’t want me to.