Technokiss: An Interview with Maren Jinnett of Wired

In my magazine publishing overview course we were asked to interview a professional in the publishing industry. This is my interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
 

Wired Beyond Her Years


An Interview with Maren Jinnett of Wired, Assistant to the Editor in Chief
 
by: Alexa L. 

When I first contacted Maren Jinnett via e-mail, she confessed, “When I saw the subject line, I assumed it was an interview request for Chris (a normal occurrence!)….” Chris Anderson might be the king of free, but Maren, at only 23, maintains his kingdom. Maren moved to California in October of 2008. After five months of interning at Wired, she was promoted from gadgets intern to her current position as Anderson’s assistant. The following excerpts were taken from a phone interview on March 16, 2010.   

Alexa: So, what is your typical day like as Assistant to the Editor in Chief?  

Maren: It’s sort of a complicated answer because my typical day can really vary. Chris travels a ton. And depending on any given month, he may be in the office a minimum of six business days all the way up to a maximum of maybe 15. There’s almost no month that goes by that he’s in the office every single business day and sometimes he’s barely here at all.

A: What is it like when he’s in the office?

M: The bottom line with the job is that I have to split my brain into however many pieces are required of me on any given day, and one of those pieces is always where’s Chris and where should Chris be. So definitely, while I’m doing everything else, I have to keep an eye on conference calls that he needs to be on, or meetings that he needs to go to, or anyone who’s in front of me who’s asking to see him in that given moment…A lot of what I do is being sort of his gatekeeper. I make sure that he gets [to] places on time. I make sure that he’s—it sounds crazy, but I make sure he’s doing his homework. Like, I make sure he’s reading the parts of the magazine he’s supposed to read, that he’s handing off presentations that are due for speeches he’s about to give…I book all of his travel; so given that he does travel a lot, I usually have to make sure that I’m managing buying his tickets, creating itineraries for him so he knows what to do.  
     I think people are often really surprised when they realize that Chris literally has no idea what he’s doing from one minute to the next. He outsources that part of his brain to me. He’ll just come right up to me and say, “so what do I do next?” I literally manage every step that he takes. It frees him up to come up with all sorts of other things like ideas for the magazine.

A: And when he’s not around?

M: God, what else do I do? I handle freelance travel, I run pitch meetings—mostly logistics. I do research for Chris. So, research for story ideas, research for book ideas. But it’s very much the kind of job that as long as you can multitask and manage a ton of tiny details at once and be open to kind of going with the flow [with] whatever gets thrown at you, then no two days really do look the same.

A: What is it like being such a young assistant?

M: You know, it’s hard for me because I got picked from the intern pool to be his assistant. People had previously seen me as the intern they mostly ignored. It took me a while to kind of feel like people did respect me. And the person at my job before me was about ten years older than I was. And I knew that I was probably one of the youngest assistants [Chris] has ever had.

A: Then is age ever an issue with Chris?  

M: It’s not from Chris. Chris himself is someone who is mostly in awe of people who are fairly young and seem to know what they want. In his early twenties he was, you know, in a rock band and he was a delivery boy on a bike. I mean, he just kind of did his thing and was not the person who was super ambitious and had all the internships and, you know, crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s. That was not his background. So I think because he had that experience when he was younger, when he meets someone who’s in their early twenties who is achieving at a young age I think he’s mostly in awe of them. And it’s never a question of “oh, you’re immature, I don’t respect you”; it’s “wow, good for you for having your life together at a young age. That’s impressive.” No, I don’t feel ageism from him. But it’s in the air, it’s in the environment, especially in journalism.

A: I know Wired is all about technology. How do you feel about the subject matter?   

M: It’s so funny. I was super interested in tech before I moved [to San Francisco]. Here it’s technology. It’s like every single person you talk to wants to tell you about the start up they’re working on. All the guys work at Google, Microsoft, Facebook and I work at Wired and so there are times , actually, when I feel very suffocated by all tech, all the time. It was a little more fun when it was just sort of a passion and a hobby and now that I’m living in it, it’s kind of—there are moments when it’s a little too much. But it can be exciting, too.

A: How well do you think Wired has dealt with changes in the magazine market?  

M: I was here in September when Condè Nast went through a big shake up, cut a ton of magazines, cut a ton of staff members. I was here through all of that. I technically have the safest position at Wired, so it was a very interesting place to be while watching everything look so shaky for everyone else. It was hard to be that close to it. A couple of editors were good friends of mine and they got laid off. It was rough for a while. But I think that Wired is perfectly positioned to sort of reinvent itself now that people are really excited about new ways of consuming media, particularly graphic-heavy media like magazines…I think magazines still have a place. And I think our magazine in particular is extremely interactive, extremely visually laden…So Wired, I think is going to be fine.  

Note: This interview was cut down from approximately 44 minutes of tape.

Stay classy, San Francisco.

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Stop Kissing Me…It’s Distracting.

In class I have a tendency to doodle, but tonight was a little different. I took phrases and bits of what my teacher said, of what classmates said, and morphed them into the poem below.
To Be Young, an in-class poem
by Alexa L., who most definitely pays attention in class
To be young
rewriting our lives
on college-ruled paper
and through texts
about lost love
and getting so drunk you can’t see straight.
To be young
presenting truth to the world
in passing out and passing notes
floating, flirting, flaking
on homework and textbooks, 
burning them in a thought of fire
     you know…
           like…
              umm…
                  totally…
I’ll rewrite it as long as it gets me an A.
What more can I say? I was, you know…like…inspired or something.
And just for nostalgia’s sake, a short poem from February 2, 2004 from a document I titled Flowers (I was 16).
Blushing in her modesty 
She turns her head to sigh 
And rosy cheeks do blossom such 
That clouds bend down to cry
Like, yea, ttyl.
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The Rime of the Ancient Kisser

Water, water, every where, 
Nor any drop to drink. 
from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Note: I realize I quoted a poem about an ancient mariner, death, curses, etc., but it seemed appropriate considering recent events in Boston where newspapers and news stations hail, “Don’t drink the water.” 


Oh, Boston. Oh, glorious Boston. You have sucker-punched the populace, stanched the flow of coffee to our veins, broken our pipes and boiled our water. When will you be well again, Boston? Twenty-four to forty-eight hours, perhaps. Like the water, it remains unclear. 
When headlines start focusing on the city’s want of coffee, it says something about the Boston culture; it highlights a Boston in need of caffeine fixes and constant buzz. The idea is readjustment, a quick change in livelihood due to a catastrophic event. This “water crisis” is simply a miniature representation of how our culture reacts to stress. We plunge into discomfort rather readily. We follow instructions; we do as we’re told. Crisis makes us listen. Our independence, if but a moment, fades in the communal worry surrounding potential sickness. Also, we finally gain a sense of respect for water. We cherish it as if it were gold. But when the faucets no longer drip with worry, water will again be used without restraint. All it takes is “the water is safe to drink” and it will be an end to caution and an end to the strange sense of community that once existed in shared dirtiness and a shared desire for a latte.
The Water Crisis presents: Inconvenient Activities for Alexa
  • Teeth brushing
  • Hand washing
  • Bathing (forget the occasional bubble bath)
  • Drinking from the tap
  • Ordering soda from a restaurant
  • Making coffee or tea or Kool-Aid
  • Washing clothes
  • Cleaning dishes
  • Preparing ice
*It is time consuming to boil the water, wait for it to cool, then somehow get just enough out of the pot to clean the toothbrush without spilling all that hard-worked-for water into the sink. I just don’t have that kind of time in the morning.
obstreperous: unruly
staunch: steadfast or resolute
The defense’s case holds water.
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You Kiss Funny

There is a dollop of truth to a good laugh; a sense of joy or embarrassment or cruelty. You can laugh at a person or with him. You can crack up or cackle. A laugh reveals a person’s eccentricities, his sense of oddness. It is in laughter you gain personality, dimension, and reaction. 
You feel discomfort in people bereft of laughter. You tell a joke and feel offended by silence. You expect at least a titter of amusement. A giggle. A smile? But smiling is nowhere near as polite. Laughter forces the lips to curve. It grabs the abdomen and tugs at it like a rope. A belly laugh. A guffaw reminiscent of Goofy.
And where would villains be without laughter? The witch who cackles at the sleeping princess. Snidely Whiplash and his snicker. The Joker and his darker sounds.
Laughter is potentially an insult. You can laugh at someone’s appearance. You can laugh at speech. A laugh can be a destroyer of feelings…
or a savior of them. People who are genuinely funny deserve a response to their efforts. If a joke is good; the laughter should be equally hearty.
For those who attempt to fake laughter*, then laughter acts as a cover, a mask. It hides feelings and reveals them. A nervous laugh, a hesitant laugh, a laugh simply because you’re terrified.
I try my damnedest to keep the laughter in, hugging my stomach and holding my breath. Sometimes it gets so awful my eyes water and my face, redder than it was a few seconds prior, warms. I look at the person, then away, then back at them and start laughing again. But it has been a while since someone has said something so funny, I break down laughing in my infamous squeak. It has been so long I think I forgot how. I almost miss my embarrassing laughter. I miss making my friends laugh just because my face turns as red as a cherry. I want those happy tears and belly aches. I want those awkward looks from the tables at the other side of the restaurant. Please.
*In the era of lol and lmfao, it is impossible not  to lie behind the guise of humor. The Internet has perfected faux laughter. I lol so much; but the real laughter is in the actual sound, not its three word (or in this case, three letter) counterpart.
Note: Happy World Laughter Day!
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
e. e. cummings 
“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
Lord Byron
“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”
Woody Allen

Ha, ha, ha.

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Stop, Drop, and Kiss or How to Deal with Stressful Situations

Just stay seated and everything will be all right. We could all smell the smoke. Everyone was talking about it. “Hell no, I ain’t stayin’ on this train,” a boy yelled, proceeding to try to pry open the doors bare handed. He was with his girlfriend, I suppose. There was a woman to my left. Blond hair, straight and past her shoulders. Blue-eyed, I think. She and I were trying to calm everyone down. “Listen to the intercom,” we’d say. “It’s the other side of the tracks. We’ll move soon.” No one was paying any attention. The blond girl and I continued to exchange glances as if to ask what do we do? A woman cried out about a baby.
When the doors opened, we could more clearly see the smoke. It was white as it crept closer to our seats. We saw a man with a bright vest or jacket. He held an orange cone. People started to rush out, the boy and the girlfriend up at front. “It’s up and to the left,” someone yelled. I assumed it was the man with the cone. So we followed, and the white became gray very quickly. 
What I remember of the rest of the experience is this: trying to breathe but realizing I couldn’t. Covering my mouth with my orange gloves and hiding my face in my jacket. A white woman with curly hair rushing past us yelling to let her through; she had a baby with her (what I heard later to be a one-year old and the mother was somewhere else ill from the smoke). Getting out into the fresher air and breathing in, then coughing. Talking to a boy who was down there with me who had asthma. Seeing that boy cry because his mother was coughing more than he was. A tall man who brought out water. An ambulance man saying “I can’t help you unless you were down there.” A woman from an ambulance truck listening to my lungs. Words that I was going to be all right. Looking around, confused, not knowing if I should stay, or if I should go. Phone calls and worried voices. Firemen and axes and police cars and people throwing up on the street. 
I was still coughing when I got home around midnight.
But I’m OK now, just shaken up. 
This is what happened last night at Downtown Crossing and my bare bones account of it. Apparently there was an electrical fire on the red line. Someone said South Station. Articles mention it was north of where we were. But the reason I mentioned all this in the first place is because I just talked about superheroes, and about 20 minutes prior to the event I had watched the movie Kick-Ass for the second time. Normal people being heroes. The lady saving a baby that wasn’t even hers. A man from the street buying waters for strangers. A woman I don’t know sharing a bottle of water with me. While it may seem minute, it just shows how people care more for the lives of others during an emotional event. We all were lost in gray and couldn’t see. We all heard the lady cry out for the baby. We all hesitated when those intercoms told us to stay put. I just hope they’re all OK. I know I’ll be fine. 
What to do when you’re caught in smoke (in my opinion):
  • If you smell smoke, leave the area.  Don’t listen to people telling you you’ll be all right. Just go.
  • As hard as it might be, remain calm. 
  • Hold your breath as long as you can. Trust me, trying to inhale smoke is worse than not breathing it in.
  • Follow a group. If you get separated, make sure your voice is heard. When the smoke gets thick enough, you can’t see anything. 
  • Help others. 
  • Walk quickly. Don’t run. If you run, your breathing will worsen when you get into fresh air. You don’t want to be gasping for breath while you are trying to get rid of the smoke.
  • When you get out, get your mouth, nose and throat checked by a doctor or ambulance. Make it known you may have inhaled smoke.
Wow, is life unexpected, or what?
For the people who rode in the ambulance, feel better.
For my friends and family, I promise I’m OK.
And in a flash, she was gone.
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Poison Kisses or How to Wear Spandex to a Party

I still have dreams where I can fly—not really fly, but float. 
I sort of jump and I’m in the air and hover; then I wave my arms to gain height, like awkward wings or canoe paddles. It used to be a jump from my grandmother’s couch. I was tiny and terrified, my hands reaching for the ceiling and me realizing I was caught midair. It would last a few seconds and then I would fall back atop the cushions, mystified. I would try it again and again. Sometimes in dreams I could keep floating and others, it was just a series of failed attempts at kicking the air. But it felt so real. I swore I could do it. Flying became my secret ability, my superpower.
Now my flying dreams are science fiction and terrifying. I’m running from something. I’m scared. I’m willing myself to float high out of its reach. Sometimes I don’t quite make it high enough and it grabs me and I wake up. Sometimes.
I am fascinated by the difference between an older and younger me. When I was younger, I was a superhero. Now, I’m running from villains. This realization that there are negative things out there, that the bogeyman from our childhoods is simply morphing into realistic fears of perhaps being too independent, this is the difference from my youth. I’d like to think real superheroes exist to fight the villains, but we are taught early on this isn’t true, despite our desires and expectations. Dreams of having powers are dreams of being better than we are. To fly, run very quickly, or move things with our minds—all unrealistic goals, but damn how I wish it could be reality.
The reason for all the superhero talk is this: my friend Dave just got an internship at Marvel. This has been the conversation of the week, and there is a party this Saturday in his honor where we are allowed to be a superhero or a villain. To be a little bit…stranger than we are. But when Sunday comes and the spandex tights leave an imprint on my skin, I’ll have to remember that I can’t do this all the time. That I’ll have to wake up. That I can’t fly. And that the villains are still out there, waiting. 
*And if I could afford the fancy shmancy costume, I’d be Supergirl, or you know, Harley Quinn (sometimes I can be the villain, too).
 
misanthrope: basically, a people-hater
rapscallion: villain, evil-doer
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Little Kisses

When I was in middle school and high school, I loved poetry. I loved rhyme and rhythm, melody and verse. I enjoyed writing about love and friendships, with humor and bite. I wrote with literary themes. I was Dante and Edna. I pulled inspiration from textbooks and television and telephone calls. High school bred angst and first kisses; middle school, first crushes and a tendency to blush when I talked (I might still do that). It was a time of poetry innocence. Then some of the themes became dark, some dark and hopeful. I was asked to speak at funerals for family members, a poem for each. I wrote about Heaven and memories and loss. But writing that poetry was difficult. My poetic innocence fell away in pieces the size of ash, slow and fiery, with every reading. In college, my poetry had an edge and was marked by an apparent loss of youth. I chose subject matter plagued by grosser imagery. I wrote about bruises and cannibalism and sex and cigarettes. My collection of love poems stagnated. Lately, though, I’m trying to reconnect with a younger me. It presents a challenge, but I truly miss the love.

I’m including some poetry below from my first years of high school and from my undergraduate collection.

Note: Please excuse the lack of punctuation on some of these; I was young.

Poems I wrote when I was 15 years old:

Walk by Alexa L., written February 9, 2003

I know it’s been a while
Since I first walked into your life
But my shoes are weary
My laces ache with pain
And I find my feet can’t stand

My soul guides me
But my sole is worn
My knees are weak
And I have trouble keeping straight

My step crosses and I descend
At the sight of you
And my heels are gaining lift
While my toes stick softly
To the pavement that grows equal in strength
To my heart

Trying in passionate steps
To stay parallel to the ground
I fall and drift
My feet lifting from under me
And the pavement’s open arms
Guide me to him
Until I can walk
Into his life again

Please Realize This by Alexa L., written November 2, 2003

I think you are a bit mistaken
My friend, I think you’ve lost your mind
Your sanity seems to be taken
To places I have yet to find

You think you love this precious child
My friend, she’s quite out of your range
And though you think she drives you wild
You’re acting just a bit too strange

It’s awful how you look at her
My friend, her looks take form of scorn
You think she’s being nice for sure
But you’re blowing on a muted horn

You really should give up on this
My friend, you’ll cause yourself dismay
You’ll never get true love’s first kiss
If you keep acting quite this way

Can’t you see she’s just a snot?
My friend, her nose hangs in the air
But all you think is that “she’s hot”
In reality there’s nothing there.

I love how things float past your head
My friend, she just laughed in your face
But yet you look past that instead
And try to find what’s empty space.

You are the sweetest one I know
My friend, this girl is dumb of sweet
And yet to her you always go
You tread behind her very feet

This girl is nothing but a blimp
My friend, her brain is helium
I’ve never seen you act a wimp
Consequence of delirium

Don’t you get this girl is wrong
My friend, there’s others, can’t you see?
I’ve been waiting for so long
Why can’t you find that love in me?

I confess, the need does burn
My friend, I love you just so much
I wanted love in true return
There seems to be no chance of such

My friend, this girl is not your style
My friend, the love will always grow
My friend, I loved you for a while
My friend, I was too scared to show.

My love, please understand my view
My love, I will not guide your heart
My love, I am in love with you
My love, I’ve loved you from the start.

A poem I wrote when I was 16 years old:

Invisible Man: A Poem by Alexa L., written August 27, 2004

I made an attempt to look the other way,
But I was forced back into my line of sight.
I could not speak, only seeing nothing
With my head turned down into my inner fight.

I reach across my chest to grab at something,
But nothing was still stopping me from that,
And I was caught without a way to argue
Against my forced down head from where it sat

The outside tried to force my head again now
To be looking up into a blinding light,
But I still tried to look inside my values
Since I saw that something was against my right.

So I pushed left while falling into circles
And my eyes received a final desperate blow,
For nothing was stopping me from something;
Apparently, the thing I did not know

It’s all right to say I never did learn something,
But the truth is always found beneath a lie.
So I closed my eyes and looked inside for guidance,
But the voice that flowed through all of me was dry.

With every turn into a wrong direction
I had chosen every path that could be wrong,
Away from what I prayed would lift my head up
Into places where I would be sleeping long.

But the fear of sleep and blindness was not tempting.
I was not to be afraid of what I thought
For every time I closed my eyes, I faltered
Thinking every time I spoke I never fought.

So finally in efforts to be human,
And to break the chains of what I could not see,
I chose to go into the dark for clarity

Of finding the identity of me.
Poems I wrote when I was 19 years old:

Flight Seven Thirty-One (sonnet assignment), by Alexa L., written March 26, 2007

Flight seven thirty-one had left the gate
and pleaded with the wind to let it rise,

but did not move at my required rate
(Not something I would often criticize).

But Grandma was a place I wished to be,
a destination from my very birth.
But clouds had covered all there was to see—
white coffin for the burial of Earth.

I prayed my destination would be well,
with all its streets and people in their place.
But if I found that all had become hell,
I don’t know if it’s something I could face.

So here I sit thousands of miles high,
discussing deaths of cities with the sky.

Flight Seven Thirty-One (sonnet revision assignment), by Alexa L., written April 18, 2007

I. Flight

I looked, but did not really look
at the city below me,
while flight 731
ascended the steps of the sky.

Clouds formed a coffin,
that buried the Earth,
and I could not see through
the white,
opaque puffs.

I closed my eyes, and leaned
my head into the window. My cheek
molded into the plastic casement,
so all that could be seen from those
thousands of feet,
was the paleness of my skin.

When I would reach my destination,
to see Grandma,
I would tell her how the birds
laughed at the pallor of
my flattened face.

I would tell her that the clouds
looked like elephants, and as the night
crept into the pink and purple hues of sundown,
they made the sky into a star-lined rainbow.
And she would smile.

II. Grounded

The airport was cold, the walls
white. But not white
like the clouds.
Hospital white.
My father waited to pick me
up, but could not suppress the hurt
that reddened his eyes and made crying
seem harder than learning
to fly.

I wanted to go back to the plane
and wait
to go anywhere but Grandma’s house.

Because if I was on the plane,
maybe
she would still be alright,
would still want to hear about
elephants and honey-roasted peanuts.

But I felt my eyes get red too,
and sank to the corner to face

white walls.

III. Destination

Grandma’s house was separated

by labels with printed names of who
gets what.

My name was everywhere.
Her scent was everywhere.

A collection of elephants was torn
apart and spread
across the country,
from California to Maryland.

Elephants with trunks facing skyward
meant good luck.
Why didn’t I feel
lucky?

My name was on three
elephants so far,
raising their trunks toward
Heaven; with their destination,
unknown.

IV. Boarding Pass

Numbers took their respective
place upon the paper rectangle
that would decide my
fate.

But I was not destined to crash,
burn, or die.
Others were;
just check the numbers.

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A Kiss is Like a Comma

In high school, we were required to read an essay by Pico Iyer titled “In Praise of the Humble Comma.” I am in grad school now, and yet I still can’t forget the name. Iyer stated, “The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said—could it not?—of the humble comma.” I am no punctuation buff, but I think punctuation, for writers, can be an attempt at risk. A chance to stab a sentence with a comma and pray the essay does not come out bloody—it can be invigorating. A rush.

Punctuation lacks attention in a text-driven society. We punctuate with emoticons. What could once have been said with a semicolon is now said with a smiley. No “I love you, darlings”; simply a wink or a small yellow face with accentuated lips and batted eyelashes (If a picture is worth a thousand words, what the hell happened to the words?). Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the advent of social media networks like Twitter and Facebook; I believe these platforms have opened up new methods for conversation, and are instilling a new genre of writers for an evolving generation. What I don’t understand is why punctuation has devolved so drastically. There is a whole other conversation about the loss of proper grammar, spelling, language. In some of my publishing classes, students argue that as long as the message gets across, as long as people are writing, then short-form media is a wonderful tool. But for me, the problem begins in the loss of punctuation to save space.

In undergrad, I studied creative writing and worked at the writing center and copy edited for a mom’s magazine. What I learned: college students and mothers still don’t know how to use punctuation, if they use it at all. I have my share of mistakes, especially with humble commas, but I know the basics and the errors (I still don’t really know how to use a comma in every situation; even the Chicago Manual of Style is confused about the process). Comma splices would make my copy editing professor cringe.  And periods? Some students didn’t use them. Workshop after workshop. Dependent clauses. That and which. Missing commas. And this is just for English. Spanish pronunciation is defined by its accent mark.

For reading or performing Shakespeare, punctuation is vital for emotion. In my senior year of high school, my teacher asked us to memorize part of Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy—with the punctuation. So this: “To be or not to be—that is the question:/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/And, by opposing, end them.” would read as this: “To be or not to be dash that is the question colon/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune comma/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/And comma by opposing comma end then period“. Speaking the punctuation made us notice the intentional pauses, the lengths of breaths, the dash, pregnant with the thought of existence.

So my advice for staying properly punctuated? Listen to Iyer. The humble comma gives breath and takes it away. Read aloud. If you stop, the sentence stops; you’ll notice the distinction.

Words of the day:
elision: in pronunciation, the omission of a vowel, consonant, or syllable
mellifluous: melodious, musical, sweet-sounding

Period.

Note: Today is the the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A pause, a dash, a moment of silence.

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A Kiss of Inspiration or Things to Do When You’re Hungry

So my friend Amanda and I have started attending these inspirational lunches. When I say attend, what I mean is that we bring our lunches out to the Common and read to each other. We bring old poetry and new. I sing to her. Another friend tells us the story of an aggressive duck through interpretive dance. We laugh. I smile. We come up with “assignments.”

Ideas for inspirational lunch members or lunchers, as I will call them for now:

  • Make up a line of poetry for a luncher; they then have to use it as the first line in their poem
  • Write a response poem or song to an original piece from a fellow luncher.
  • Pick a form or type of poetry and bring in a new piece the following week in that form.
  • Make a list of subjects you’ve never written about, but wanted to; then write a poem using the top three topics.
  • Pick a favorite poem (original or famous) and rewrite it.
  • Pick a poem from childhood and rewrite it.
  • Write a poem about a dream.
  • Pick a color and try to express that color in a poem without using the color itself.
  • Write a slam poem.
  • Write a haiku, then create a longer poem from that same haiku.
  • Use a photograph for inspiration.
  • Open a dictionary and flip through it, choosing ten words at random. Use those ten words in a poem.
  • Give a luncher a controversial topic to write about.
  • Pick a news story and write a poem inspired by the headline (or use the headline as a first line).

There are hundreds, nay, thousands of ideas out there. Probably infinite, though in calculus I usually ended up approaching zero (no matter how  hard I tried for the alternative). But the ideas for ideas are not really the point of these lunches. These lunches are meant to keep us writing, to snap us out of the creative funk we’re facing in the wake of finals and futures. If Amanda is anything like me, she needs to write to stay grounded. I outsource my stresses to my song lyrics. They keep me sane. And when the lyrics stop flowing, when the creative well has dried up, all that’s left is a publishing student with an empty journal and an empty heart. Just recently, I was able to transfer files from an old laptop onto my new one. What I realized in this transfer is that I was a firecracker with words when I was 11, but now? I lack opinion. I lack stance. These inspirational lunches are my way back to finding my voice, to finding me

Write on.

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A Kiss to Keep Me Motivated

Summer creeps near; I can feel laziness breathing down my neck. Huff, huff, huff. A siren’s call, promises of trips to the Cape, dips in pools of blue, blue water, and the clop of sandles on the pavement. The promises quell worries of fall semester, of graduation and job hunts, 8-hour days and entry-level payment. Summer in Florida consisted of Disney and movies; Boston speaks of road trips and site-seeing. Such a difference. So much history here. But when summer ends, and the plastic umbrellas shrivel in your drinks, it is important to remember to shed the laziness like a sweater.
Staying motivated is not easy; I know this well. So here are a few techniques I’ve acquired to keeping up with the workload.
  • Choose a competitor. Pick a person in your class whose quality of work surpasses your own and then consistently try to outshine him. It can be a friend or an enemy; this doesn’t matter. It just makes you competitive, and keeps you attentive. 
  • Create a rewards system. For example, if I get straight A’s this semester I can buy myself the new phone I want.
  • Set aside homework time. If you are watching a television show, use the commercials to do part of your assignment. 
  • Mix homework with chores. If you’re already doing the dirty work, just balance it out. While you’re waiting for a load to finish, do the homework. Folding clothes ends up being a pretty amazing break from studying.
  • Invent time goals. Give yourself a time to finish your assignment by, sort of like a due date, but on your terms. If you don’t finish it when you said you would, you don’t go do the next thing on your list (like going to a movie). 
  • Write your goal on a mirror. If you have a dry erase marker, they work just as well on bathroom mirrors. Put your to-do list or goals on the side of it. Basically, every time you go to brush your teeth or fix your hair you’ll be reminded of what you have to do to succeed. 
  • Study with a friend who is motivated. Find a person you know can focus, and follow their lead.  
These idea, dorky as they may seem, have worked for me. I hope they work for you. 
Ta ta, for now.
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