The obligatory SXSW blog post, year two

Seven days have passed since I returned to Des Moines after the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, and unlike last year, my Storify recap is not finished (EDIT: now it is!) and I have yet to upload any photos to Facebook from the week (EDIT: here they are!). SXSW 2013 Badge

This year’s trip was an exercise in living in the moment, as much as one can live in the moment while uploading six-second videos on Vine, applying (subtle) filters to photos on Instagram and pushing out hundreds of tweets each day. I chose panels and talks more strategically; I limited my party-hopping to two (or three…) per night; I forced strangers to tell me about their non-digital lives. Most evenings ended at the Driskill, a hotel bar with its own secret entrance.

I tell people that SXSW is not a sustainable lifestyle, and I stand by that statement. Last year, I tweeted that I was leaving my heart in Austin. This year, after many Interactive attendees left a night early, I was ready to go home. But as I try to collect my thoughts from the most insane week of the year, I realize I’m still processing, still working to place the things I learned into the context of my own life. Here it goes:

Favorite “leaning in” ladies:

“That was kind of cool” moments:

And, of course, the Hilton Lobby dog:

Six months later

It’s been a full six months since the last time I posted on this blog. (Don’t believe me? Here.)

The good news is that you haven’t missed anything! Here’s what I’m thinking about today:

Michelle Obama has bangs. Perhaps she was inspired by everyone’s favorite duchess?

Yesterday I read Deadspin and now I know things about sports. Or at least Manti Te’o.

William and Kate’s firstborn is due in July. Crossing my fingers for a birthday twinsie.

I’m five degrees removed from the actual HBO subscriber whose account I use to watch Girls.

Even if Des Moines were to get an H&M, it would probably be the dirtiest H&M ever.

I share the same weight as Lena Dunham. Or at least, her character. That’s something.

There are 49 days until SXSW and I can’t remember being more excited for anything.

GRUYERE. Why is it so delicious? Why do I want to put it on everything? That is all.

My thoughts on sorority leadership in The Levo League

Several months ago, I started seeing buzz from the online community about The Levo League, a social network geared toward young professional women. From the moment I joined the site, I fell in love with the concept of the site and the well-connected team producing its content. In addition to sharing exclusive job opportunities and connecting young women with mentors in their field, The Levo League also publishes great editorial content, including a series about the professional benefits of sorority membership. When I saw a tweet calling for sorority women to share their stories for an upcoming piece, I jumped at the chance to join the conversation.

Like the story’s author, I never thought I would join a sorority. My high school experience had revolved around the small group of friends I cultivated through marching band and AP classes, and I had always been more focused on school than my social life. But though my collegiate membership in Delta Gamma was a whirlwind of ups and downs, successes and disappointments, I continue to be astonished by the strong alumnae network I’ve found after graduation. During the months I served as vp: communications for my chapter, our leadership team was eager to push the chapter forward into social media, and I happily led the charge. I’m thrilled to share my thoughts on that experience in the story above — and look forward to continuing the conversation, online and off, in the future.

My feature on the Drake University website

Several weeks ago, a member of Drake University’s Marketing & Communications team asked me to write a piece about why I chose to stay in Des Moines after graduation. I was honored that their team thought of me, but to be honest, I struggled writing this piece. My relationship with this city is so complex — there is so much about Des Moines that I will always love, the parts of this city that forced me outside the college bubble and into the real world. And yet, there’s plenty I would change about Des Moines if I could.

I could write many, many pieces about how being in Des Moines has affected my academic life, my professional life, my social life. But the piece below is a start, and if it begins to address the misconceptions that current and future Drake students have about this city and state — or the misconceptions of young professionals in other cities and states — then I’ll consider it a success. Click the image below to read about how I chose Drake, and how Des Moines chose me.

Life with Woz and friends

This is my little guy. His name is Woz, and if you have connected with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you’ve probably seen a lot of photos of him lately. He’s become something of an Instagram celebrity. So I’m giving the people what they want!

Woz came into my life about a year ago. After spending hours on Pinterest staring at this little guy (who I believe is actually not a hedgehog, but perhaps an Australian echidna?), all of my rational thinking skills were replaced by this loud voice in my head that said, “GAWWWW” anytime I saw a baby hedgie. The boyfriend had grown up with a hedgehog around the house and managed to track down a local breeder, and so on my 22nd birthday, he surprised me with a hedgehog of my very own. I’ve actually already written this blog post about “the early days,” so I’ll stop writing it now.

What I really wanted to write about was how I became a “pet person,” because it was a development that seemed to happen overnight. But here’s the thing: I am spoiled by the most adorable, most loving, most low maintenance pet there is. I really had no choice but to be swept into this madness by his charm.

Sometimes when I’m alone in my apartment, I realize I’ve been talking to Woz for far longer than is socially acceptable. Even worse, that typically happens during the day, which means my nocturnal hedgie is konked out. He’s not even awake to hear me talking to him! (Like that makes a difference. See, crazy!)

But now I’m spending my evenings swiping through photos of medically needy adoptables in the Petfinder app and on Facebook. I’m emailing photo after photo to the boyfriend, knowing we’re in no position to bring more animals into our lives but THEY’RE SO CUTE and THEY NEED US. Insanity, I tell you. Insanity!

And now, gratuitous photos of my family’s dogs, Emmett and Murphy. At 13 years, Emmett is an old soul, our beloved Golden. He loves laying down on the patio in the sun and ignoring Murphy. When Emmett was bad as a puppy, my mom would shout “Damn it!” at him and when we called her out on it, she would tell us she had just yelled “Emmett” so she wouldn’t have to put money in the swear jar. Sneaky sneaky, Mom.

Murphy is less than a year old and was a rescue from RAGOM, Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota. He looks less and less like a Golden each time I see him and enjoys playing soccer, moving around the sod in my parents’ backyard and tearing the wallpaper off the wall in the hallway. He also walks with a goose-step and runs like a rabbit.

Welcome to June.

Today marks the start of a new month, and to say that I am thrilled is an understatement. I’m positively giddy.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a wonderful May, or that I’m particularly looking forward to the month of June. I just find the start of a new month to be a joyful, liberating experience.

Perhaps it’s because for the first 22 years of my life, the turn of a new month meant a new song to sing (“Hoy es lunes, el siete de marzo…”), a new calendar page on the bulletin board, a new date to write at the top of my papers. It was a way for teachers and professors to break up the monotony of the school year, to remind their pupils that time was passing even though the clock seemed to stay still. We looked forward to remind ourselves that life was moving forward, even if we couldn’t see it.

As an adult, I mark the start of a new month with my own traditions. A new pair of contact lenses, a new parking pass to wrestle onto my rearview mirror, a few minutes updating my net worth on an Excel spreadsheet. Updating my iMac’s desktop to the next month’s calendar, courtesy of RedStamp. These are the small tasks that bring joy to me at the beginning of a new month, insignificant as they may be. They remind me that life is moving forward, even when things feel stagnant.

Welcome to June.

My Q&A on the Pair blog

On April 12, I won a pair of iPhones from a company called Pair.

I’ve had quite a lucky streak lately, but I never expected to win something of such great value. Pair was celebrating the launch of their iPhone app by giving away a pair of iPhones, and on a whim I entered to win and then promptly forgot about the contest.

I had read about the app on Mashable and TechCrunch, but it wasn’t until after I won that Robbie and I played around with it. Pair is a sort of all-in-one app for couples — once “paired,” couples can chat through text and video messages, draw sketches together, add tasks to each other’s to do lists and even “ThumbKiss.” It’s silly, but that’s what makes it fun.

I’m sure there are people that deserved the iPhones more than I did. But thanks to Pair, Robbie and I will be giving our old iPhones to my parents, and I’m excited to welcome them to the iPhone family! My parents are tremendously hard workers, people who think of everyone else in their lives before they think of themselves, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to treat them with something special.

Click the image above to read my post-contest Q&A on Pair’s blog (and see some super sweet pictures of Robbie and me).