Adulthood Part 2: A Summer in the City

Well, so much for hoping a series would help me blog more regularly.

For those of you who read my post from almost a year ago, you know that I started a post-graduation series about my life after college. Clearly, one thing I didn’t consider was the fact that adulthood would be crazy, hectic, and put blogging at the very bottom of my to-do list. Even though it’s been nearly a year, I’m just going to pick up right where I left off. Luckily, the memories are still just as fresh as they were a year ago.

IMG_2717As I mentioned in my last post, I was accepted into the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City in April of 2015. This six-week long course teaches hopeful publishers the ins and outs of the publishing industry and includes two week-long workshops dedicated to book and magazine publishing. It’s intense, overwhelming, exhausting, and probably the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. I met some of the most recognizable people in publishing, realized that publishing really was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and made lifelong friends all while living in my favorite city for seven weeks.

But the true test of knowledge (and patience) came in the third week of the course. For a full week, we were split into 10 groups and charged with the task of creating our own publishing house–a name, a history, a backlist, and six new titles for our mock Fall 2015 catalog. Each group was told what type of publishing house they were (children’s, trade, academic, etc.) and let loose. Members of the group then decided who would play what role  in the publishing house (CEO, Publicity Manager, Business Manager, Editors, etc.) and started brainstorming ideas, many of which would get changed or knocked down by the panel of professional editors, publishers, agents, etc. leading the workshop.

By the end of the sleepless, exhausting week, my children’s publishing house, Rabbit Hole Books, had six very different books to present to the panel. As the CEO, I learned about people management, time management, and that sleeping is overrated. I was so proud and honored to work with the group of women I did–and I think we all walked away feeling proud of the work we did.

The next three weeks of the course focused on magazine and digital publishing and I was once again able to meet and learn from some of the biggest people in the industry. To cap off this section of the course, we were once again split into groups (this time of about 20 people) and told to create our own print and digital magazine from the ground up–stories, covers, PR campaigns, advertising–you name it, we had to do it. Once again the CEO, I learned that managing 20 people is much harder than 10 and that digital publishing is much more difficult than people realize. Our magazine, Cipher, a go-to guide for all things a sci-fi/fantasy fan could want, was ultimately a success and I couldn’t have been more proud of my team.

bailey katy lena


After a career fair and a final reception, it was time to say goodbye to my CPC family. I left the city with two portfolios of work, 15 new books (oops), and countless memories with some new best friends. I graduated from the CPC knowing that I could make it in New York, New York (which means I could make it anywhere)–and this confidence was the most priceless souvenir I took home from my time in NYC.

With only two short weeks to recover, I said goodbye to the Big Apple and hello to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Until next time, happy reading!


The Final Round

As my loyal readers know, the majority of this blog is dedicated to my deep and unending love of literature and Disney (and Disney literature). But this blog is called “Books, Birdies, and Earl Grey” for a reason.

2013-10-07 21.40.50

Me, Brigette, and Maddie at a golf tournament.

My last post about golf was back in 2013 and at the time I thought I would be more willing to talk about my golf journey. As it happens though, golf has taken a back seat both on this blog and (all too often) in my life. These past few weeks, however, I have really been thinking about the fact that this semester is the last time I will play for a golf team–ever. For the last eight years, golf has been a constant activity in my life and now that it’s on the verge of being a much more difficult (and expensive) hobby to maintain, I realize exactly how much I’m going to miss it. From the hours spent on the driving range every weekend, to the 7 a.m. practices to the hundreds and hundreds of golf holes I’ve played, I’ve learned so much more than just how to swing a golf club.

My very first golf coach, Jeff Strong, came into my life at the perfect moment and was just tough enough to get me out of terrible habit–quitting. Before I played golf I had tried just about every kind of extra-curricular activity my parents could sign me up for: track, volleyball, basketball, softball, guitar lessons, piano lessons, band, tennis, fishing, hunting; you get the picture. I was the type of person that did something until I realized it was too hard to get by on natural skill and then I quit. I didn’t like to work very hard at things (except school, but that was different).

After my first few lessons with Jeff, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You can do this. You have potential. But you’re going to have to work at it. And I don’t teach people who don’t work hard.” I left that lesson feeling both good (I had potential!) and scared (Wow, this guy is serious). I guess that one slap in the face ended up being exactly what this former quitter needed to hear; within four months of my first golf lesson I was playing on the varsity golf team at my high school.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

This lesson continued in college. Playing Division III golf brought on a whole new set of challenges. College was hard. Golf was hard. School was harder. I had to learn how to balance an even more difficult course load with the added pressure of being a college athlete. Luckily, I was once again blessed with an amazing coach, Carla Spenkoch, who not only helped me transition into the routine of college golf, but continued giving me what Jeff had for four years–the encouragement and toughness I needed not to quit.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

I’d be lying if I told you golf was easy. In fact, anyone who tells you golf is easy is lying to you. It’s a game of patience, perseverance, and hard work–and sometimes you can put your whole life into it and still not come out a winner. But I don’t think God put golf in my life to teach me how to win. I think God gave me golf for the friendships, the life lessons, and the stability that I would not have gotten from anything else.

As I start this last golf season, I don’t know what role golf will play in my life after college. All I know is that I plan to make the most of it (and maybe, finally, place in a college tournament or two) and that the life lessons it taught me will be with me long after I stop playing the game regularly. No matter what–it’s sure to be a great final round.

Growing Older, But Not Up

“That’s the trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.”

–Walt Disney

Two weeks ago, I celebrated my 22nd birthday. This means I can fully appreciate everything Buzzfeed says is great about being 22 (pardon the profanity) and sing TSwift’s “22” with real gusto now (at least, I would if I liked TSwift even just a little). This week, I officially registered for what could be my last semester of school, applied for graduation, and sent in my resume for a professional internship with Disney Publishing.

All of this can only mean one thing: I’m one year closer to that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing called adulthood. Bills, jobs, taxes, actually paying for a round of golf–it’s a scary world! A (very small) part of me is looking forward to it, but for the most part I spend every day waiting for Michael J. Fox and Doc to appear and take me back to 2004 in a Delorean (1985 would work, too!) so that I can delay growing up for just a little bit longer.

One of the most common questions I get (more than I care to admit, actually) is why I love Disney so much: “Don’t you think you are a little old for that?” Most of the time I shake it off and adamantly and vehemently say, “No, I know many 22-year olds who still watch Disney movies while they drink Disney hot tea brewed in their Disney French press in a Disney coffee cup while wearing Disney slippers. It’s perfectly normal.” This is usually followed by an uncomfortable laugh and some variation of “Well, isn’t that cute.” This shouldn’t bother me. And for the most part it doesn’t. But my obsession with  love of Disney is based on so much more on just the movies or the princesses or even *shudder* Mickey Mouse.

December 2013. Proof that I still haven't grown up.

December 2013. Proof that I still haven’t grown up.

Loving all things Disney is the last somewhat socially acceptable way for me to hold on to my childhood. For an hour and half I can sit and speak and sing along to movies and songs I know all too well and feel like I am eight eight years old again. It’s the only thing I can do to help me forget that I am about to embark on a scary-wonderful journey and that life as I know it is going to change–hopefully for the better, but a change nonetheless. I can pretend to be Belle or Ariel or Jasmine and forget that I have my own new world to discover.

But most importantly, these movies (and everything else in the Disney universe) are reminders that even though I may be growing older, I don’t have to grow up.  Ironically enough, Disney’s blog website, Oh My Disney, seems to agree with me.I can face adulthood with a child’s imagination, a young heart, and teenage angst. I can conquer the world head on and know that it’s OK (even expected) for me to fail sometimes. If this is a good enough mentality for Walt Disney, it’s good for me, too.

So, a word of encouragement to some of my fellow college seniors. We are going to get through this. Adulthood is going to be awesome. It’s going to be scary; it’s going to be hard; and it’s going to shake us up, but if we all remember that adulthood doesn’t mean we have to lose our youthful outlook on life then this final semester and everything that comes after it will be amazing.

After all, to tweak a Walt quote, “Adults are only kids grown older, anyway.”

The Books that Built this Blog

Hello, dear readers. It’s been a while.

Many of my friends on various social media sites have been doing the “10 Book Challenge”–a challenge I have been both dreading and patiently waiting for. Ever since I have started to see these posts on Facebook and such, I’ve been really thinking about the 10 books I would choose that have really shaped me as an individual. I’ve been afraid that I would be asked to do the challenge before I was ready and I would make the (terrible!) mistake of missing a book. But, alas, I find myself ready to compile the list, but with no challenge to accept. So, I thought I would take it upon myself to do the challenge anyway.

So here they are: The 10 books that have shaped me as a reader, a student, and a person.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas-Clement Clarke Moore:

I know this seems like an unusual book (or poem, as it were) to be on a list like this, but I truly believe that without this poem, I never would have become as in love with literature as I am. Not only is it about Christmas (who doesn’t love Christmas!?) but when I look back on my childhood, this is the first book I ever remember reading to myself. According to my parents, I had the entire thing memorized by the time I was four and would turn the pages at the right time without really looking at the book at all. This poem made me love to read; I loved the pictures the words painted in my head (the famous “visions of sugar plums dancing” comes to mind). While there isn’t much to this poem, it made a lasting impression on me in my formative years and I have never forgotten it.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore-
William Joyce:
Although another children’s book, I found this while perusing in Barnes & Noble about two years ago and it quickly became one of my favorites.Lessmore The story of Morris Lessmore and his flying books has become my story–I, too, am amazed at the wonderful places books can take you and truly believe that life is better with books in them. The story is happy, beautiful, and touching and delivers a deep message in such simple terms, it’s hard not to fall in love with this book. Anyone who loves to read would identify with Mr. Morris Lessmore and his wonderful flying books.

The Kingdom Keepers Series-Ridley Pearson:

Anyone who knows me knows that I love everything Disney. So when I stumbled on the first book in this series and realized it was about a group of kids who get to fight the Disney villains in the Disney parks at night, I was sold. While everyone else my age was navigating their way through Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, I was busy making sure Maleficent and the Evil Queen didn’t takeover the Disney parks with Finn and the rest of the Keepers. The last book came out this summer and I am unashamed to say that I saw the series through to the end. This series let me hold onto my childhood for much longer than I thought I would be able to and taught me that imagination, hard work, and creativity can solve almost anything.

mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee:

What top ten booklist would be complete with this masterpiece? This novel taught me more about racial inequality and injustice than any history book ever could. Lee’s ability to articulate deep and complicated problems–rape, racial inequality, injustice, loss of innocence, child abuse, domestic violence–through the voice of nine-year-old Scout still amazes me. This novel showed me that, as unfair and wrong as it is, ignorance and intolerance are sometimes the victors. This shattered my optimistic world view and is what made me start thinking critically about the society we live in. Why was this your only book, Harper Lee. WHY?

The Necessary Shakespeare-David Bevington:

When I was in high school, I didn’t really have an opinion on the Bard. I read him when I had to, didn’t particularly like or dislike him, and had a vague idea of his impact on English literature. And then I took my college Shakespeare class. My. Mind. Was. Blown. I fell head over heels in love with him (much like Gwyneth Paltrow, but I digress). I have always been a lover of words and wordplay and puns, so I was always told Shakespeare would be right up my alley, but I never truly appreciated any of Shakespeare’s work until I had this collection of almost everything the Bard every wrote. I could probably write a whole post just on my top ten Shakespeare works, but for now I will just recommend Sonnet 43. Wordplay, metaphor, imagery–beautiful. (Side note: The fourth edition has changed the cover from a painting of the Bard to a dashing image of Joseph Fiennes from Shakespeare in Love. The English major in me says “NO,” but the fangirl in me says “Ohhh yeeeeahh.”)

brooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith:

I read this book during a family vacation to Colorado the summer before my freshman year of high school.   I have an incredibly vivid memory of driving through the mountains of Colorado while reading the diary section of the novel and bursting into tears (“Mama found my diary and made me change every ‘drunk’ to ‘sick'”).The semi-autobiographical work is written with simplicity, honesty, and innocence. Frances’s story of perseverance and hardship is heartwarming and tragic. Although it was published in 1943, the themes and story are all too relevant today. I don’t know if it’s because I was a young, naive, coming of age teenage girl who didn’t quite fit in when I read it or because this book is truly a masterpiece, but this book has left a lasting impression on me.

Wuthering Heights-Emily Bronte:

I was probably the only person in my high school English class who loved this book. I mean REALLY LOVED this book. I will admit, I did have trouble following the characters (Catherine, Cathy, Linton, Mr. Linton, etc.), but this love story touched me. Maybe it’s because I’m a product of the Disney fairy-tale era, but it was comforting (and jarring) to read a story of lovers who don’t have a happy ending, but at the same time had a love that endured forever. The imagery and language in this novel only makes the story more beautiful.

gatsbyThe Great Gatsby-F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Like Wuthering Heights, this novel changed my view of love. I spend the entire story wanting Daisy and Gatsby to be together knowing that it is impossible. Fitzgerald does an astounding job of creating the colorful and decadent world that Gatsby built for Daisy while making it painfully clear that the world will be destroyed. The complicated nature of love and money is portrayed brilliantly and I sympathize more with Gatsby every time I turn the page. The eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg have been an imprint on my mind ever since I finished the book the first time, and I sometimes find myself standing next to Jay on the dock, yearning after a green light of my own.

A Thousand Splendid Suns-Khaled Hosseini:

I don’t think I cried so much over a book in my entire life. I read this novel in a two days–I was captivated by the story, the characters, and Hosseini’s language. Before reading this novel, I knew nothing of Afghan culture or society, and while I still don’t know very much, this novel gave me a deeper understanding of the culture–something I probably couldn’t get from any of the history books in the U.S. Hosseini’s ability to give every character a voice of their own is amazing. I immediately wanted to talk to someone about this book when I finished it, but no one I knew had read it. I hounded my mom for two weeks, and when she finally finished it and came to my room with tears in her eyes, I cried again.

Notes-from-a-tilt-a-whirlNotes from the Tilt-a-Whirl-N.D. Wilson:

This is the first and only book I have ever finished and immediately turned back to page one and read again. I was deeply moved and inspired by this book (as made obvious by the number of quotes I posted on Facebook while reading it). Notes has shaped my faith in ways that I cannot even put into words. I’ve come to appreciate the little miracles that happen every day and I am overcome with the amount of love and grace that God bestows on me. There isn’t a single Bible verse in the whole book-but it doesn’t need one. For fear of doing the book a grand injustice, I will simply leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “But why would any Christian claim that God has stopped talking? Did he speak the world into existence? Does matter exist apart from him? Is it still here? Are you still here? Then He is still speaking.”

So that’s it. The ten books that have influenced me the most. What are yours?

Happy reading.

The End of the World

OK, not really. Just the end of the semester. But when I look back on everything I learned in my Media, Culture, and Technology class, it certainly does feel like the end of one kind of world. I started this class, and this semester, as an optimistic and hopeful user of media and technology. After reading many books and articles, watching countless videos, and extensively talking about technology for the past 4 months, however, I have changed into a critical and somewhat skeptical technology user; and this makes me proud.

I started to feel this change very early in the semester, and pointed it out in my post Internet Misconceptions, which I wrote after starting Curran, Fenton, and Freedman’s book. As I mention in this post, I was naive to think that the Internet was a legitimate and effective way of encouraging democracy. After reading Dave Egger’s The Circle (which I discuss here and here), I quickly learned that when in the wrong hands, technology can hinder democracy, even when it looks like it is helping it. This has made me rethink what it means to be an active participant in our society. Instead of sharing a video, liking a status, or signing an online petition, I’ve learned that the best way to make change is to turn off my computer and cell phone and get out in the world. We live in a culture that constantly encourages us to be active participants–and staring at a screen is not the way to take advantage of that.

This class has also taught me how important it is to check facts and sources before sharing or believing them. While I usually did this before this class, after conducting our CRAP detection survey, I discovered that I am in the minority of my fellow students. Some students do try to fact check the information they get, but not many of them do this at the level they should be. As Howard Rheingold suggests in his book Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, the best way to verify data is to triangulate it–verifying it through three other sources before sharing or using it. I’ve learned that this really is the best way to ensure you are using accurate and recent information.

Perhaps the most important thing this class has taught me, however, is how I interact with technology on a personal level. I’ve learned that I become engrossed in technology not because of the connections they give or the distractions they make or even because they are new and exciting. The most fascinating thing about technology, to me, are the worlds we can create when we use it. This is the issue I am taking up in my digital story, specifically with regard to books–the most important form of technology in my life. By analyzing how I engage with technology, I hope that I can become an even more intelligent and critical user of it.

As this semester draws to close, I look back and think about all I have learned in this class and I am overwhelmed. I’ve learned that technology could potentially take over democracy. That our generation is passively living in a culture that begs for active participation. That everything you read on the Internet (and anywhere else) is not always true. That technology can be used to manipulate children. And, most importantly, that technology is everywhere and we need to be careful with how we use it.

The Bird is the Word?

Post preface: For the next few months, Books, Birdies, and Earl Grey will be doubling as a “learning blog” for one of my media classes. Most of my blogs will stick to book discussion, but may be more scholarly in nature.

I recently had to do a group project where we discussed a current event or issue related to the media. My group decided to discuss how Twitter is not only becoming an increasingly popular news source for adults 18-29 (Kerr, 2013; “Why,” 2013), but also how more mainstream news sources (Like CNN, USA Today, and FOX news) are starting to use Twitter as a starting point for finding breaking news stories.

As this video from the Wall Street Journal shows. This is exactly what Twitter wants to accomplish–especially among young, educated, higher income people.

My group compared journalists using Twitter to get breaking news to college students using Wikipedia to start their research. One thing we found, however, was that college students never cite Wikipedia (or even admit to using it) but mainstream news sources are not afraid to claim they got their information from Twitter. While my group saw this as a problem, we were somewhat surprised to discover that not many of our classmates did. Many of them considered news sources smart to use Twitter this way because it could lead to faster and (sometimes) more reliable news because live tweets of an event could be considered eye witness accounts, as was the case with the Boston Marathon Bombings.

I was also taken aback by the demographics of people who get the majority of their news from Twitter. I had always assumed that higher income, educated people would get their news from more reputable sources (like actual newspapers or various news channels). When I discovered that this was not the case, I was surprised.This made me ask the question: Are news sources increasingly using Twitter as a starting point because more young people are looking to Twitter for news, or are young people looking to Twitter for news because that is where news sources are getting their information?

While this question cannot be answered without research and analysis, this group project certainly introduced me to the more productive ways Twitter is being used. I don’t have a Twitter, but this issue definitely made me consider getting one.


Kerr, D. (2013). “Twitter a News Source? Not So Much.” in CNet. Retrieved from:

“Why Twitter Wants to Be your News Source,” in Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: 

My Life in Books

Post Preface: For the next few months, Books, Birdies, and Earl Grey will be doubling as a “learning blog” for one of my media classes. Most of my blogs will stick to book discussion, but may look more scholarly in nature.

“Morris Lessmore loved words. He loved stories. He loved books.”

These are the opening lines from William Joyce’s children’s book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, a tragically beautiful story about the eye opening and fulfilling life that books give us. While a book probably isn’t the first thing most people think of when someone says the word technology, they have definitely been the most influential piece of technology in my life.

While most people in my generation are becoming more and more dependent on digital technologies, in this ever-changing (and at times confusing) new world we live in, I find myself becoming more and more lost in the fictional, simple worlds created by books. Although I’m dependent on a technology that is considered somewhat out of date by today’s standards, I think my addiction is still a testament to how dependent our society has become on technology as a whole.

It is this question that I would like to address in my digital story. What is it about technology that makes it so engrossing? Or really, what is it about us that make us so dependent on technology? This dependency is bringing us dangerously close to the world of Dave Egger’s The Circle; where anything and everything we do must be documented through social media and our interactions are mediated through some kind of screen.

While the specifics of my project are not yet clear in my mind, my vision is to focus on the relationships we have with the various technologies available to us. Later in his book, Joyce says, “Sometimes Morris would become lost in a book and scarcely emerge for days.” I think this line, more than any other line in the book, defines the way we interact with the various technologies in our world, whether it be a cell phone, computer, or, in my case, a book.