Writing

Below are a few writing samples, both published and done for class. I also blog about fashion at The Mirror Shot.

For VERTICAL Tampa Bay Magazine’s website: (See full posts here.)

gardenvariety

Garden Variety
A Nature Lover’s View

Reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, and lush, vibrant greens; the scent of greenery and mulch, mixed with the freshly fallen dewy fragrance of a new morning, and the sun’s first rays just peaking over the chain link fence and starting to warm the day. This was the scene of my first visit to the USF Botanical Gardens.

I went on a whim, planning to take some shots with my camera, thinking it might be a nice morning activity. Although I had intended to go for an hour and then leave, I ended up snapping 500-plus photos in the span of three hours spent transfixed over the lush flora of the gardens.

Nature has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up in the woods of Maine, with a backyard about ten times the size of the apartment I occupy now. Maybe more. There was the apple tree, where the tire swing hung; the vegetable garden, right next to the raspberry bushes, which boasted fresh cucumbers in the summer and pumpkins in the fall; and out back, the fairy trees, a cluster of thin trees all angling up towards the sky together, that became a sacred area after my dad named the grouping, “Home to Fairies.”

I grew up in my backyard, roaming through nature with my sister and friends, making up games that allowed us to stay outside as long as we could. The first thing I look for in any place I live is the nearest form of nature. In Washington, D.C. my escape was the United States Botanic Garden—contained in a building and full of tourists, sure, but it still had the most amount of nature.

The USF Botanical Gardens offers much more to it than it would seem from a quick (or a whole semesters’ worth) drive-by. It begins with a succulent garden, full of cacti, aloe, and other water-storing plants placed, perhaps serendipitously, next to the lake.

The scene then progresses to a Japanese-style shade garden, complete with statues and a babbling brook, all enclosed in a circle of bamboo. Then there’s the fruit garden, with all types of sweet and ready-to-eat citrus hanging high up on the branches. I passed through the butterfly garden, healing herb garden, bee farm, and the student-run vegetable gardens. The flowering tree section was in full-bloom, the branches above and ground below both liberally covered in pink petals.

Tampa certainly offers more places to get my nature fix than D.C., but I think the USF Botanical Gardens may become my go-to nature spot for the same reason as my Maine backyard: it’s close to home.

firstdrink

First Drink
Celebrating 21 at a Speakeasy

The term “21st birthday” draws to mind images of finally-legal coeds partaking in alcohol-drenched debauchery, usually ending with a revisiting of the alcohol consumed earlier, to put it mildly. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Enter Ciro’s, a local speakeasy that provides just the right hint at illicit activity in a sophisticated atmosphere.

The decision to ring in my birthday speakeasy-style had been decided a few months ago, after my cousin proclaimed, “You will totally love it.” And so, on the night of my birthday I arrived at the doorstep of Ciro’s with my two cousins, her boyfriend, and a male friend. Fashion-wise, I had embraced the 20s theme, wearing a mid-length slinky black dress with a flapper-style headpiece.

After whispering the password, we entered a dimly lit room as the hostess led us past rows of intimately curtain-cloaked booths, finally stopping at one with just enough space to fit the five of us cozily. Lana del Ray, a personal favorite of mine, played in the background providing a sultry soundtrack to the evening.

I had my first drink in mind before looking at the menu, one my cousin had been talking up for the past few months: the Bramble, a mix of gin and blackberries. Sweet, with just the right edge of gin cutting into the fruity taste, it lived up to the hype.

I followed up with a Bee’s Knees, which may become my go-to drink—made with lemon, honey, and gin, it reads more like an aromatherapy treatment but has a surprisingly refreshing taste. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a 21st birthday celebration without shots. The hostess recommended the Sex Panther, which like its namesake cologne from the film Anchorman, 60 percent of the time, works every time (whatever that means).

And so passed an evening of quiet conversation, laughs, and sophisticated drinks with a couple of close family members and friends. As 21st birthdays go, it may have been tame, but I can’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate than that.

headoverheels

Head Over Heels
In Love With Shoes

I’m not sure what events in my life led me to fall in love with shoes more disproportionately than any other part of my wardrobe. I spent the duration of my childhood in a state of something like arrested shoe development.

First, it was a mandatory elementary school dress code of black shoes; later, a socially mandatory uniform of Converse and Old Navy flip-flops. As a result, I thought of shoes as more of something to be worn out of necessity; less as an avenue of expression.

After leaving the confines of high school and entering the more footwear-diverse atmosphere of the real world, I began to take notice of all different kinds of shoes. Before, I had thought of heels in terms of the combined cubic zirconia and glitter emblazoned kitten heels reserved for fancy occasions, meaning prom. Then I realized just how many types of heels there were: boots, high heels, stiletto, wedge, each beautiful in their own right and capable of altering the mood of an outfit.

Today, I exercise what Carrie Bradshaw famously coined as my right to shoes. My collection is a place where leopard print lives peacefully amongst polka dot pumps and Isabel Marant-inspired wedge sneakers cohabitate with Eskimo boots. Each pair brings its own strength to an outfit, and can either reinforce a message, or contrast against it to create a more striking look. Sometimes my Ikat print boots help amplify a cute ensemble, or bring some interest to an otherwise monotonous jean-and-t-shirt combination.

Although material-wise, shoes make up a small portion of an outfit, statement-wise they can complete, make or break it. I think it’s this subtle power that makes them so alluring.

The following poem was published in the Spring 2013 issue of Thread Literary Magazine:
Fruition

It begins bare, but big— too big, in fact.

Emaciated, misshapen, grotesque,

Not enough muscle to stand on its own.

Hidden away from all in a corner

Until it receives the attention it needs

To grow: stronger, fuller, fitter. And then—

 

It uncurls. One finger, then one limb at

A time. The muscles fill out; sinews grow.

Rising, able now to stand on its own.

It grows stronger, but not bigger—clearer.

The awkward body making sense now

And finally, it is ready. To be

Spit out on a tongue, and then, to the world.

Movie Review for the film Drive

He drives.

Underneath, the Driver’s job is much more complex than that, but on the surface, he is a driver.  Directed by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn and set to a dreamy electronic soundtrack, Drive follows an emotionally detached driver as he becomes entangled in a series of worsening events.  The Driver, played by Ryan Gosling, is a stunt driver and auto mechanic by day, and a heist getaway driver on the side.

Gosling’s character appears to be emotionally distant and void of personality, but it soon becomes clear that he has become emotionally attached to his neighbor Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, and her son, Benecio.  The conflict begins once Irene’s husband Standard, played by Oscar Isaac, is released from jail still in debt from his time spent in jail.  When Standard asks Gosling to drive as he attempts a heist to repay his debts, and the plot complicates further from there.

The soundtrack plays a central role in creating the atmosphere of the film.  At some points, the electronic, ethereal, and disconnected music seems to mimic the Driver’s own personality– or what little we see of it in the film.  Other times, the soundtrack moves to slow, melodic beats that complement the slow motion shots that appear frequently in the film.

Through his day job working as an auto mechanic, the Driver is hired by two notable gangsters, played by Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks, to stunt drive in a movie they are producing.  We also meet his well-intentioned boss, played by Bryan Cranston.  Cranston’s character serves as a contrast to the ruthless gangsters played by Perlman and Brooks and helps out the Driver as much as he can.

Although we are led to believe from the beginning that the driver is void of personality and emotion, it soon becomes clear that the Driver does have loyalties, and they transcend any other relationship in the film. The majority of the movie is devoted to exploring the lengths the Driver goes to in order to protect the family he has grown attached to.

Drive is not a romance movie, and neither is it an action movie.  It does, however, contain elements of both.  Gosling plays the Driver well, and accomplishes the difficult task of causing us to care about such an emotionally distant character.  Gosling’s character becomes relatable because of his commitment to protecting those he cares about so fiercely.  This is something that on some level, all of us can connect with.  As the driver drives, he takes us on the journey with him.

Written for Understanding Media, COMM-100:

The following is an essay written for my Understanding Media course, asking us to further examine an issue in the media. I chose to examine how the controversial new rap group Odd Future has used social media platforms, specifically Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr to effectively to achieve the level of fame they have today in a short period of time.  I will warn you, it’s 10 pages, so you may want to get comfortable before reading it.  Opens as a PDF below:

Odd Future and the Internet

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