Iceland: the land of many layers.

Have you ever made a really quick, possibly financially foolish decision in under a minute? When that happens you immediately try to come up with any and every excuse to justify your choice. I made the decision to go to Iceland on an absolute whim. I didn’t know anyone that was going, the trip was scheduled the week before my spring break, I couldn’t convince my friends to go, and the trip was smack in the middle of an over-packed semester.

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So here it was, a great opportunity to go to Iceland (with AIGA members) in the name of design while also partaking in other incredible and unique Icelandic experiences and all arrows pointed in the direction don’t go.

In under a minute I decided that for all of those reasons, I should go. This was a huge networking opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up, especially with graduation around the corner.

The adventure began with an overnight flight to Iceland. Once there, the entire group partook in tired introductions and we were shuffled off to breakfast. The restaurant wasn’t typically open at that hour, but a favor was called in for our group. This happened several times throughout the trip. The perk of a really small country is that just about anything you need is a phone call away.

At breakfast, we were briefed on what the week would look like, how the design conference would fit into the schedule and how often we’d squeeze in a soak in the geo-thermal pools.

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It was a whirlwind of a week. Each day we woke up early, donned many layers (Iceland’s weather changes every 5 minutes), equipped ourselves with lots of camera gear, and were on our way. We soaked in three geo-thermal pools, Blue Lagoon, the (not-so) secret Lagoon, and a city pool. We visited sustainable farms and greenhouses in which we had the most delicious food, drinks, and treats. We hunted the Northern Lights and found them. We walked on black sand beaches, weaved in and out of old-style homes, ATV’d through lava fields, bar/design crawled through Reykjavik, gushed over design, and learned about each other. We had lots of laughs and lots of incredible food. Every turn we took, Iceland became more beautiful. The people of Iceland are welcoming and kind. It was an absolute pleasure to learn about their life and their perspective of the world and design.

This trip was beyond needed. Getting out of New York and meeting new people that have been practicing design for years in a multitude of settings was reaffirming. Graduate school is challenging and it makes you question all you know about yourself and what you’re doing. It makes you unsure of your future and who you’ll be. But this experience wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my choice to pursue this field. I’m glad I went, even though it might seem like a foolish choice to most. I met incredible people and saw the most beautiful things with them. This trip gave me perspective on a lot of things in regards to design, and I’ll be forever grateful.

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In praise of the weeds

Blown away by this post. Even more blow away that this is written by a peer, a friend.

We are all story

Of all the questions asked of me since starting grad school, I never anticipated that the hardest one to answer would be “Where are you from?”

As I stumble through the many homes I have had in the past few years my thoughts begin to trip over each other:

“Umm well I’m originally from Maryland – that’s where I grew up.  But I moved here from New Orleans where I was living for two years before this.  Does that count?  Except you know, I lived in Ohio for a few years as well and oddly enough I identify as an Ohioan more than anything…I even risked excommunication from my family by becoming a Buckeye fan (luckily they still love me!).”

I could get even more detailed than that – I have homes that I have only ever spent two weeks in.  “What about Mexico?  That was where I learned that…

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An open letter to the Tennessee Kid Nation

I have been a loud, proud (and often boisterous) fan of Justin Timberlake’s since I was 7. From the moment I saw him strut across the stage to ‘Giddy Up’ on the Disney Channel Concert for *NSYNC. The game was over from that point on (fellow fans, pun intended).

What was most exciting for me was that I shared this love for *NSYNC with my best friend. She and I were polar opposites therefore she favored JC and I favored Justin (my ranking order is as follows: Justin, JC, Joey, Lance and Chris…sorry Chris!). This worked well for our friendship because we never had to fight over the same guy.   I’d spend years battling it out with the best of the BSB fandome as to who was the better boy band—I don’t care if they’ve reunited 85 times, *NSYNC reunited for 45 seconds and the world went ballistic, better comeback..better band (even if only for a few seconds). However, I never did have any friends who loved Justin Timberlake.

I believe a lot of this stemmed from the fact that I am not a competitive person. I just don’t get wrapped up in that nonsense. Therefore, I wasn’t interested in finding another fan friend because I wasn’t interested in the pissing contest of “who loves JT more”. When forced into that competitive corner, a real ugly side of Miss Enlund rears its head. I simply don’t handle intense situations such as sports or UNO Attack! In fact, I spent more time defending Justin Timberlake’s brilliance than basking in it with another person. Plot twist: I was totally fine basking in the brilliance alone on my Timberlake island.

And then the inevitable happened.

One day during my favorite class circa….2007…, I heard a girl in the grade below me talking about Justin Timberlake. Said girl was going on and on and on about how she had gotten tickets to the FSLS concert. Envy began bubbling because I hadn’t gotten tickets and the entire tour was sold out. But alas, I rose above it and began discussing the wonder that is JT and wished her joy during the show.

“Ahh…I’m a huge JT fan, cant wait for it”—girl

“Me too!”—me

“No, but like, I’m a REALLY big fan. Been to all of his concerts. I just love him to pieces”—girl

“Yeah same, I just had bad luck getting tickets this year”—me

“I’m a bigger fan…”—girl

“I’ve been a fan since I was 7..have fun!”—me

“Well I’ve been a fan since I was 6, so I’ve loved him longer”

And then my head exploded. Even though she had “loved him from a younger age” she failed to recognize that while she was 6 and I was 7 the YEAR WAS 1998 and therefore we had both liked him since 1998. Petty… I know. Hense why I never cared to have JT friends.

The Mrs. JT nickname carried on through college.

Last summer, z100 announced that it was having a contest to determine who JTs Biggest Fan was. All you had to do was explain in 140 characters and then get people to vote. I’m bad at limiting myself to a few characters, but I knew I could get the man power behind me. The contest lasted about 2 1/2weeks. I was so touched by how many people pulled through for me. I had something over 5000 votes. The support was unreal and I was floored.

I basically teetered between 1st and 2nd with this one girl. Remember when I said I had an ugly competitive side? Well, I found her on any and all social media and stalked the bejesus out of her. When she’d knock me out, I’d get really aggressive and amp up the voting posse. I created a JTfan blog to try and campaign because I don’t believe in limiting myself. I monitored what she was posting and I envied the fact that…SHE HAD ALREADY MET JT! GIVE ME A CHANCE z100!!!!!

That was the most exhausting and intense two weeks of my life. Right at the tail end of it, that girl and I got knocked down and it got so intense that I sat down and said to myself…”if its meant to be, it will be”.

Then …. That girl (Andrea, btw) direct messaged me on Twitter. *raised eyebrow*. She and I started discussing what the possible outcome of the contest would be and how z100 would go about announcing it. She admitted to stalking me right back…and the other girls that were in the top tier with us. We mutually discussed the person we assumed won the contest before the poll was closed, Mauri. Andrea informed me that she had begun to connect with most of the people in the contest to kind of keep an eye on the announcement.

I wasn’t about that. No way was I getting involved with JT fans now..especially via social media. No pissing contest on my twitter feed, kthanksbyeeee.

Mauri was named JTs Biggest Fan and I felt a flutter of envy. I did the big girl move and followed her on some social mediums and decided that she was an alright person. Same decision followed with Andrea. Since the release of the second half of 20/20 my hesitation with connecting with JT fans has diminished and my friendship with Andrea and Mauri is something that I hold so dear to my heart. More importantly, I started following other Timberlakers. Such a great decision. JT is effing wonderful, I think I’m pretty great, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has some of THE MOST awesome fans out there I can’t wait to meet my girls, #JTsisterwives, in December to see our man SLAY us at Barclays Center. Thank ya’ll so much for the support, friendship, and laughs! LOVE my fellow fangirls/guys.

 

Here is an open letter to the #TNKidNation #JTfam #TNKids #timberlakers all over the world :

 

Thank you #TNKidNation,

Our fandom is so much more than a screaming-to-tears, cyber-supporting “stalking”, retweeting fanatical group of people. We love JT and each other hard, support, share, and UNDERSTAND what it actually means to be slayed in the special way that only Mr. Timberlake knows how.

Outside of us, people have a hard time understanding why we get butterflies when JT crinkles his nose and does that grin. Following Justin throughout his career has brought us pride, fun, creativity, love, and pure ecstasy.

Thank ya’ll for being there to just understand and to share in the giddiness of this perfect #yearofJT. Following along on your reactions, how he has inspired ya’ll to create cool shit, and how much he just means to all of us has been so comforting. Its great to not have to justify or explain why I love Justin so much. Ya’ll just get it because you get equally as tongue-tied in trying to explain. Often there aren’t words to describe what following Justin is like…just beaming smiles and ridiculous uncontrollable body flails.

It’s because of the fandom that I don’t feel weird…at all.. for supporting every single thing Justin has his hands, including but not limited to: all of his brands, all of his band members, dancers, managers of various operations, his mother…and the rest of his family. Why only support just Justin, right? He clearly surrounds himself with amazing artists and people. Might as well!

What’s even cooler about the #TNKidNation is that so many of us have met up with one another. We’ve become real friends. Conversations don’t always revolve around Justin Timberlake or any of his other projects/brands. We’ve begun to lean on one another and support one another as individuals. That’s just beautiful and I hope it’s something that Justin realizes. His fandom his global—he’s connecting fans in the states with those in Germany. He’s fostering this connection for transplanted fans, in new areas, to find people close to them.

I am a proud Justin Timberlake Fan and even prouder member of the Tennessee Kid Nation/Family. So much love to all of you out there! Keep doin what you’re doing.

Erika

PS—a VERY special shout out to all of the MOMS who have supported our crazy asses and been on every line with us and shared in each and every panic attack that Justin has been responsible for.

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Generational gaps and such

I think the best part of my experience here has been the thing that causes everyone confusion: living with older men and working with older women.

Most people question how I cope with the generational gap and others commend on what a lovely learning experience I’m having. To them, I get this wonderful honor of living with the elderly and learning nuggets of wisdom from them.

I agree, but the hilarity in all of this is the gemstones that I have left them with.

  1. Justin Timberlake. For sure, there are three Christian Brothers who not only know of Justin Timberlake’s existence, but can recognize his face! They pay attention to headlines about him and even have seen scenes of his movies. Occasionally, if the radio is in my favor, they even get to hear his angelic voice. They’ve even saved magazine clippings with photos of him.
  2. Simple functions such as “CTRL + C/V” or—a big favorite—“CTRL + P”. These are moments I’m most proud of. You can teach anyone how to turn a computer on and fire up the internet. But it takes determination of the student (above the age of 70) to retain the knowledge of quick commands. You’re welcome, world.
  3. An update to modern slang. Imagine explaining to a dear friend who is a nun that the word pussy isn’t always in reference to a feline. Furthermore, imagine having to explain the phrase “will eat pussy for weed or booze”. *face palm*
  4. The wobble. Although this reference really dates back to that time I taught my grandma and her cousin how to wobble, I found myself teaching another group of older women. Everyone loves a good group number, I tell ya.
  5. Cell phone tutorials. These range from turning the phone from vibrateà sound to explaining how to add a calendar event on the iPhone 5s’ new OS. I even taught a nun/massage therapist how to amplify her Pandora station by just using a cup. Amazement all around.
  6. Everyday cat knowledge. In a city where stray cats outnumber the amount of homeless people, basic cat knowledge is a must. No Charles, you cannot feed a cat an onion. Yes, she will eat scrambled eggs with cheese. Don’t worry guys, she’s not being aggressive she just happens to be vocal. Side note: lasers are an absolute party must have.
  7. Selfies on selfies. Although, most of their knowledge of selfies actually comes from watching the news, they’ve learned the art through me. Nuances such as lighting and the perfect angle to maximize the number of people squeezed into one selfie. Followers of blogs and Facebook pages owe their laughs to me.

 

Until next time,
Miss Enlund ;]

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The cold front from the New Orleans perspective

Even more relevant now since we’ve had three freeze nights in a row . Will be thinking and praying for the guests this entire weekend ❤

My Timberweekend

This weekend was one of the best (and corniest) weekend’s of my life. [I wrote this immediately after the concert but have had some trouble with the photo uploads so now its late—The concert was November 18th..yikes].  I met up with my parents in Memphis, Tennessee for no other reason than to see Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Tour. Because I tried to convince my father that this was his father’s day present, we also threw in a VIP tour of Graceland.

You might wonder why a 22 year old would drag both of her parents (in their 60s—roughly) to a JT show? Because anyone can attend his concert and enjoy the hell out of it! Also, because I’ve seen every concert with my mom and I figured daddy needed some lovin’ too.

I’ll start with the tour of Graceland because that was surprisingly eye opening.  I had never known that THE KING was such a humanitarian.  I guess I also never really understood and appreciated just how famous/popular he was.  The Raquetball Room was ASTONISHING.  He made his Grammy/record room look pathetic. I was also taken about by Elvis’ unique taste in decorating.  My favorite room, however, was his peacock living room.  I thought it was absolutely stunning

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ON TO THE BEST PART OF MY LIFE AND THIS BLOG POST.

So, if you missed it, November 18th was officially declared “JT Day” in Memphis by their mayor.  I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 5:25 am to get ready for my JT DAY.  Mom and I got ready, donned our JT gear (me—the black “dressed up” suit/tie tshirt from justintimberlake.com and mom—the JT/JAYZ VIP shirt from the LOTS tour).  Unfortunately, I broke my foot two weeks before the show and am forced to wear this giant aircast (affectionately referred to as my space boot).  I spiced up the boot with the JT bowtie that you can also purchase from justintimberlake.com.  My #bootandtie look, if you will.  This look later caught the eye of a local ABC tv reporter.

Mom and I headed up to Millington, TN to visit Mirimichi—Justin’s golf course.  I viewed this whole weekend as my own personal pilgrimage, if you will.  In true Erika&mother fashion, we ended up at the back end of the golf course and panicked because we thought it was closed.  Luckily, we figured out that we probably weren’t in the right spot and corrected our mistake.  We drove into the beautiful entrance and I was beside myself with nerves.  There is no way in hell that I can even pretend to be a golfer.  Would they kick us off? Think we’re psychos? Would JT be on the green for a pre-concert round?  And so we parked the car and strolled into the pro-shop.  Jenna—who’s amazing btw—saw right through my mom and I (probably the t-shirts).  She kindly showed us around the shop, took a photo of me by the golf bag with JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE stitched onto it, and overall entertained my fandome.  The icing on the cake?  She suggested that mom and I take a golf cart and check out the course– something I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do without actually golfing.

We cruised around the course.  It was a bit chilly in Memphis and the green wasn’t exactly green but Mirimichi is beautiful.  It was overwhelmingly peaceful in the early morning and for a second I was beginning to understand why so many people enjoy golf.  This little experience was unlike anything I’ve done with my mom also so that was really cool.  I feel as if the course is divided into two types of eco-systems.  There’s a very open area that is mildly marshy and then there is a very woodsy area.  It’s a really enjoyable cart ride.  Mom and I did manage, however, to get lost which was pretty comical.  I’m convinced our cart was bugged because if we found something that wasn’t perfect and joked about it, it was being addressed by the time we made our way back to the pro-shop.

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This is what I enjoyed most about this excursion.  We grabbed a bite to eat and the operations manager came up to us and began explaining how wonderful Justin is to work for.  He spoke of the golf course and how it functioned before JTs ownership, how JT learned how to golf on the course itself, and how thankful he is that Justin and his mom stepped in and refurbished it. It was wild speaking with someone who knew Justin and his mom so well.  He spoke so highly and so personally about each of them.  I was a proud and eager fan.  It was great to hear of a real human, down-to-earth side of Justin. Round of applause to his staff!

From there, we scooped my dad up from Waffle House and headed downtown to officially celebrate JTDay.  We enjoyed the press conference held outside of the Westin Hotel (in front of the FedEx forum).  Bowties were passed around to the people in attendance.  A disclaimer was made immediately that Justin wasn’t even invited to this event because they knew he’d be busy and didn’t want to put him in a position to say no.  Many businesses took part in JTDay by posting signs in support of Justin or by having their employees don the bowtie.  The mayor of Memphis spoke highly of Justin and his impact on Memphis.  He then presented the degree to his mother who was in attendance.  She was DECKED out in JT swag (suit and tie tshirt and JT belt).  After the conference ended, a girl who I met and I went up to Lynn Harless to meet her and snag a pic with her.  My opening line to this woman was “can I take a picture with you since we’re twinning”.  Sometimes I hate myself. Either way, we were twinning because we both were rocking the JT bowtie. She laughed, told me she was going to wear the t-shirt that I had on, and gladly took the photo.  Don’t worry folks—it didn’t stop there!  My mom later went up to her, and her grandmother and chatted the two of them up. I ended that experience by trying the two latest flavors of 901 tequila. Happy JTDay, ya’ll.

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And then….

The 20/20 Experience concert…le sigh! So this performance was the 8th time I’d seen Justin perform.  I WAS SO EXCITED and I chose this concert because he’d be performing in his home town.  I knew his energy would be palpable and infectious.  Words will fail me as I attempt to explain his pure bliss on that stage.

I was blessed to be in the second row (again).  However, this second row was closer to the stage than it was for the Legends of the Summer Tour.  There is something special, as well, about seeing JUST Justin on stage.  He’s so damn talented and every single maneuver is perfectly thought out.  Now if you’re a lunatic fan like I am, you know his little inflections, hand gestures, and overall responses to his own music to a T.  I was right there with him the whole time.  It was hard to believe that there were about 15,000 other people around me.  Hell, I forgot that my parents were right next to me.

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He was a giddy little boy again.  He shouted out his dentist that he saw in my section and joked that he probably knew half of the people in the crowd, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing (insert his perfect giggle).  He proudly pounded his chest as he told the Tennessee Kids, “That’s my city!”

Gah. He’s perfect.

I’ve heard that the concert was really impressive as far as the light show/visuals go.  Admittedly, my eyes were glued to the President of Pop and swept over his band/singers frequently.  I was barely aware of the visuals.  My 67 year old dad was blown away by it though, so props Justin.

The man doesn’t stop moving at all.  He doesn’t even pull up a stool to do a ballad.  The only time he sits is during the one piano number (Until the End of Time) and he’s still dancing and crooning so you can barely count it as a break.  After the 9 minute intermission he left us.  Now, having attended several concerts, I know that Justin loves to visit the fans out in the crowd—therefore I was expecting him to get off of the main stage.  I was not, however, expecting the stage to break off in the way that it did and go ALL THE WAY to the opposite side of the stadium.  When the stage finally stopped, I teared up because of how wonderful he is.  I’ve never seen his stage designs go all the way across the stadium (he usually gets to the middle).  He then stayed over there for four songs and some covers, running back and forth so that the back center wasn’t just getting him.  I’m so floored by him it’s unreal.  I did feel a  bit cheated on when he went that far away and performed two of my favorite songs (Cabaret and That Girl), but I was a bit thankful for the distance.  I’m pretty sure if he had been in my face the entire night, I would have had a heart attack.  The distance allowed me to just take in his performance and catch a breather. But don’t worry Justin, even with a broken foot, I didn’t sit down once!

So…I’ll never be happy again but that’s okay. That was the best performance I’ve seen out of him.  The only thing I need to ever top that is a hug from Justin.  Part of me hopes he sees this and makes that wish come true.  Part of me hopes that doesn’t happen for a year or so because once that happens my life will no longer have to continue.  Everything I’d ever wanted to do will have been done.

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Until next time,

Miss Enlund

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An Open Letter to Sharkeisha

Bryant Cross

Dear Sharkeisha,

Real recognize real, so I decided to write you today. I’m from (and live) in the Southside of Chicago so I understand street politics. I know that you can’t let disrespect go unchecked because you have to fend for yourself. The police that are suppose to watch out for us are the very ones that hurt us. Teachers don’t care what goes on in the school because they’re too busy focused on other things. No one is watching out for us. No one is looking out for our best interest. Therefore, we must do it for ourselves. That is why disrespect can’t go unchecked. I know that letting a little disrespect slide opens the door for people to get bolder with their antics. But let me say again – I live in “Chiraq.” After so many killings I’ve come to ask certain questions, questions I will ask you…

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Communication 101

The most important task I have at my job is “mingling” with the guests. Although seemingly easy, this is one of the harder parts of anyone’s experience at the center.  I thought I’d have this role in the bag because I love chatting it up with anyone and almost everyone.

But there are some conversational phrases that frankly suck when you work with the homeless population.

I’m a big fan of the following conversational openers: “How’s your life?”, “How are you doing today?”, “What was for dinner?”, “What did you do last night.”

Welcome to the awkward world of Miss Enlund, the volunteer.  I’ve quickly learned that these phrases just can’t be used at work.  They warrant some colorful answers occasionally, but often they just make you feel two inches tall and you have to creatively back out of the situation you walked into.

But thank the Lord for those with a sense of humor and the willingness to talk.

During these accidental moments is where I have found the great hope that made me fall in love with New Orleans.  The people here are so strong and so hopeful. I learn about the smallest things that impact their new lifestyles.  It’s in these conversations that they reflect on the circumstances that lead them to this point in their life and they talk about their change in perspective.

What’s really cool about my job is how these ice breaker conversations grow over time.  I think what is so unique about the center that I work at is the level or relationship between staff and guest.  There are guests that come around every so many months, there are daily guests, and there are “success-story” guests who come back for a visit or to say thank you.  The interactions between these guests and staff include conversations about family and specific memories. It really is so special to each of the guests that they have a connection with, at least, one person to realize that they are still cared about.

There is a group of gentlemen that have found one another and stick together.  They watch each others’ backs and have developed a great sense of camaraderie. Although they often arrive at the center in different waves, there is always a point in the day in which they are all together.  I have a great connection with each of them, but I love talking to them as a whole.  They bounce off one another and share their stories with such lightheartedness.  They all genuinely listen to each other as well.  I think it’s so beautiful that they’ve found each other because they are all from different states and each has a very different story.  Between them, however, is a beautiful understanding, level of trust, and almost a brotherhood.  They support each other and encourage the other to stay away from trouble and to do what they have to in order to move forward.

And they keep me in the loop…

I’m forever overwhelmed with the emotion of love for those I work with. I’m so grateful for this experience.

Until next time ;]
Miss Enlund

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