5 things I learned in college

graduation 1

I graduated college on Sunday. It’s almost been a week already. It doesn’t even seem real. I don’t think it will sink in until I have my diploma in hand.

I have to say, I quite enjoyed college. It taught me a lot. In fact, I feel like I’m forgetting something when I say

1. Education isn’t just taught in the classroom.

I learned so much from the jobs and volunteer experiences I had in college, many of which were on campus. The motto at my school is “Learn by doing.” Honestly, is there any other way?

2. It’s okay to change your mind.

In the four or five years it takes to graduate college (who’s counting, really?) it’s inevitable that you will change your mind a lot. Feel free to change your mind about about your major, who you call your friends, and who to date. Of course, you should have your reasons.

my mom and me

Paul and me

3. Let the people you care about know you care. 

I’ve always been shy. College made me just a wee bit more outgoing. I’m also totally over hiding my feelings. I’ve told guys that I liked them. That was scary. I also made great friends simply by showing them I care.

4. Don’t put yourself in a box.

When I decided for sure that I wanted to pursue writing, I somehow thought I couldn’t also be a photographer and marketer too. But that’s just silly. I was putting myself in a box with only one label. Then I met interesting people with multiple talents and interests. It’s okay to have hobbies. You can be a writer and a science student. Be a photographer and kinesiology student if you want to. You can even be good at more than one thing. I promise.

5. Life isn’t meant to be taken too seriously.

I’m a goofball, but I can also be super serious. As a kid I was often told “Don’t take everything so literally.” I like thinking deeply but life is also meant for water fights and silly games. I had some tough times in college and that only reinforced the idea that I shouldn’t take everything so seriously.

on the screen

Congratulations to all the recent graduates. I hope you all had a great experience. To those still in school, I wish you the best!

Head in the clouds

blue skies

Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago and accidentally pushed publish before adding in the pictures. Here’s the completed piece, as it should be.

It rained today.

My mom excitedly pointed out the rain as I was looking at my computer on the dinning room table. We could see through the dinning room window that there was rain pouring down, but there weren’t any clouds blocking the sun. “There must be a rainbow,” she said. Sure enough, there was practically a double rainbow.

I went right out in the rain with my flip flops, running shorts, tank top and hoodie on. (This California weather changes fast. It was hot a few days ago and I was inside most of today, so I was in lounge clothes.) After about 10 minutes, it stopped raining. I had some photos of the rainbow, a truly beautiful feat of nature, so I retreated inside to warm my feet.

from porch

I got lost in the Internet again. When I looked up from the 10+ tabs I had open and saw the sunset, I decided it was time for another photo session. Queue more cloud photography, a downpour and then hail started falling from the sky. That happens a few times a year where I live and I love it every time.

in motion


dark clouds

Each time I was outside staring at the sky, I thought about how my head has been in the clouds lately. I like to live in reality, but sometimes I get too caught up in thinking about the future, what it could hold, and what it should hold. The things that have been weighing heavily on my mind feel so personal at the moment, that I would rather not go into detail. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to say I’ve been deeply considering marriage and my career both as separate and intertwined things.

As I’m writing this, I just remembered a quote from one of my favorite books and movies, Little Women. “We’ll all grow up someday,” Amy March told her sister Meg. “We might as well know what we want.”

In my experience, this is true. We should know what we want. We should be dreamers and have our heads in the clouds sometimes. Of course, eventually we’ll have to come back to earth and see how our dreams can match up with reality.

I also try to keep in mind that wherever there’s rain, there’s likely to be a rainbow. Take the bad with the good and vice versa. Gray skies and blue skies can exist in the same day, even in the same stretch of sky. So appreciate what you have.

The sky always makes me feel very contemplative. I just have to remember to look up.


Beer with a Blogger: Cassie of Witty Title Here

A few weeks ago, I met up with another blogger for the first time. Meeting people from online is not all bad, I tell you. I’m still alive and I got to meet this cool girl Cassie who runs the blog Witty Title Here, a lifestyle blog which features personal essays, photography and interviews. For her Beer with a Blogger series, I suggested we meet up at O’Brien’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica, because hey, O’Brien is my last name.
beer close up

It was so cool getting to sit down across from someone whose blog I had been reading for months and talk about blogging with someone who actually does it. I don’t know any bloggers in real life, so whenever I bring up blogging to my family and friends they just play along.

We talked about blogging (of course), places to visit in the area, books, feminism and the media. Cassie is a Journalism student too! She’s also a California transplant who moved across the country for school, which I find very brave. The girl is brave, funny, honest and smart. You can follow Cassie on Twitter here.

William O’Sullivan neon sign

The owner, William O’Sullivan came out to meet Cassie and me while we were taking photos of the outside of the building. He was really nice and friendly. He wanted to know what we were taking pictures for, understandably, and even went back inside to write down the names of our blogs. I thought that was sweet. Although he was born in Ireland, he decided to name the bar after a Star Trek character instead of his own last name.

O'Briens Pub outside

The pub seemed like a nice place and I plan on going back. I’ll have to get my family to go with me so we can all enjoy being there together. Fun fact: My sisters and I all have pajamas that say O’Brien’s Irish Pub. My dad got them for us from Old Navy one year.

Beer with a blogger

Photo from [Witty Title Here]

This was so much fun! I’m glad we met up, Cassie. We’ll have to get meet up again soon.

The Versitile Blogger

Versitile Blogger Award

It’s always nice to be nominated. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Jasmine of Jazzed About Stuff, who just so happens to be a former college classmate of mine. Thanks Jasmine! As she wrote over on her blog, the idea is to choose 15 nominees, write 7 interesting/random facts about yourself and pass on the award. I’m assuming based on the name that the award is for blogs with a variety of topics.


Here are my 15 picks:

1) Alyssa Goes Bang

2) Awash With Wonder

3) A Novel Quest

4) Barrett All

5) Everygoodthing

6) Existation

7) Little Lessons In a BIG City

8) M Loves M

9) NDloveNY

10) Ohdizzle

11) So You Guys

12)  Welcome to Ladyville

13) The Wine Stain

14) With A City Dream

15) Witty Title Here

7 things about me:
1) I tend to leave a trail of bobby pins wherever I go. I’ll see them laying around places I have been such as the bathroom at my work, down the hallway, on my front porch, or in my boyfriend’s car. It’s kind of ridiculous.

2) Although I rarely cuss aloud, I don’t mind if other people do. Sometimes I like it. I guess somewhere along the way I decided that cuss words sound weird when I say or write them. People don’t expect me to, so they look at me funny when I do. Therefore, I just don’t.

3) My favorite movie is still The Lion King, hands down. I’m a little kid. Oh well. Also, I can relate just about everything to that movie. Here’s proof.

4) I don’t own a car and I rarely drive. If I do, that means driving my mom’s car while she sits in the passenger seat. Yes, even though I’m 23 and live in Southern California. Maybe I’ll write more on that later.

5) I met my boyfriend through our college student newspaper. The full story is here.

6) When I was in second grade, my teacher gave the class little award things and I got “most likely to become an author.” That made a big impact on 8-year-old me.

7) This is going to sound really weird, but I narrate my own life in my head sometimes. I’ll passively narrate what I am doing  in past tense. For instance, “I typed what I was saying and wondered if it made any sense at all.” Yeah, it sounds narcissistic and crazy but it’s true. I’ve always had this tendency. It’s something I tend to catch myself doing when I’m bored or anxious.

Welcome to Modern Notebook


Those of you who have been following this blog may notice some changes. For one thing the name is different. For three years, my blog had been named Take Comfort Project and it lived at the domain http://www.takecomfortproject.wordpress.com. Note that if you type that into your browser you will still be redirected to the site at its new address.

I’m the type of person who will mull on a big idea for a while and then make the change overnight when the time is right. So, this wasn’t a hasty decision. I’ve been thinking about overhauling the design and name for about a year. I tweaked the design about a month ago. Now it feels so good to have finally, finally found a name that I love.

It’s funny, actually. I have been thinking of names for my lifestyle blog for quite a while now, but hadn’t settled on one until last night. When it came to me, I changed the domain right away and made a few changes to the sidebar as well.

I figure a name is pretty important, so it was important to make the change. I’m not sure how you all felt about Take Comfort Project. To me, taking comfort by diving into a it signified project like my blog. It also meant that the blog is a work in progress.

Of course, it still is. But I don’t want to think of it like an ongoing project any more. I want to be happy and proud of my little blog. That means all parts of it.

The name Modern Notebook just came to me last night when I was on the phone with my boyfriend. I had thought of a different name and looked it up only to find that the domain I wanted for it was taken. Then when there was a lull in the conversation I thought “What about Modern Notebook.” He said it sounded like a band name, which makes sense because he’s a musician. He would say that and I loved that he said it. Modern Notebook it is.

That’s what this blog is to me. It’s my Modern Notebook. It’s a place for me to write down my rambling thoughts, big ideas, goals, latest recipes, music I love and anything else I find notable.

The content won’t change, or at least it won’t change along with the name change. I’ll still be experimenting as I deem necessary. My enthusiasm for the blog has grown, which makes me really excited.

I hope you keep following along with me. I’m still navigating this, so I’m not sure about a few things. Do I have to update my Bloglovin’ page somehow? Anyone know? Any feedback on these changes will be much appreciated!

A big thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you blogger friends who have encouraged me to take this little project blog and make it better all the time. Your support means a lot to me!

Putting goals in perspective


I never did reflect on my fall goals because I was embarrassed that I neglected almost all of them. I set 10 goals in fall and ended up accomplishing about two that season.

You see, I was in my last quarter of classes and ended up focusing on school work more than the lofty goals I wrote before the academic year began. I actually ended up getting the best grades of my whole college career. That might not be saying a lot since I’ve never been an A student, but I was happy about it. I got As in three academic classes and ended up with a B+ in yoga because I skipped one two many classes. Whatever. It’s funny, actually, because I usually include “get all As this quarter” on my goal list and I didn’t until I stopped putting it on a goal list.

Now that it’s spring, I feel okay about reflecting on my long forgotten fall goals.

1. Get another internship
I had a short lived internship at the end of summer, but I wanted another afterward to gain more career experience. I actually need to complete an approved internship for course credit to graduate in spring. Although I applied to some in fall, I didn’t get a response back until winter, when I had much more free time for applications. I began two internships in February in slightly different but related fields. So, I accomplished this goal, but in winter instead of fall. Yay hurray!

2. Read at least three books
Honestly, I can’t even remember reading one book. That makes me a little sad. But, like I said, I was focused on school. I had to read a lot of articles for my Multiracial and Hybrid Identities class. Surprisingly enough, I also had to read and write a lot for Meditation and Yoga, although I put a lot of that off for the end. I had to read, watch videos, take photos and create projects for Photoshop class. My Magazine class involved a fair amount of reading too, if you count copy editing, but there was no required book. So, there you go! I did read.

3. See a fun live TV taping and/or a play
Yeah, this didn’t happen either.

4. Submit articles to magazines and/or websites
Yes, I can say I did this. It might have been winter by then though. I submitted a story about grief during the holidays to HelloGiggles and it was published on Christmas Eve.

5. Redesign this blog
Oh silly me. I underestimated how much time I need to contemplate a big project before making changes. I’ve been working on this lately though.

6. Purchase a car and drive said car
I did go through three lessons with a driving instructor in fall and it did me good. Now my mom feels confident enough to let me drive her car while she sits in the passenger seat. I don’t feel comfortable buying a car when I don’t have income coming in, however.

7. Workout at least three times a week
I sort of did this. My yoga class was sort of like exercise and it was twice a week. So much of that class was meditation that it didn’t feel like a workout, but it did feel healthy. I also walked my dogs a decent amount.

8. Start scrapbooking
This still hasn’t happened.

8. Get better at photography and gain confidence in abilities
I bought myself a camera in late August (I think) and it has made a huge difference in my photography skills. It’s so good to own my own camera. I gained confidence in my abilities in fall and have been loving photography ever since.

9. Run a 5K
Two of my friends and I almost ran a 5K at school. But we didn’t. We got lazy and changed our minds.

10. Work on budgeting money
This didn’t happen either. I tried to bring my lunch more often instead of buying food on campus. At least there’s that.

I love making lists and goals. But sometimes the timing just isn’t right or sometimes I just don’t stick to them and that leaves me feeling guilty.

I wonder if I should make any goals for spring or if I should combine my spring and summer goals. I also have a 24 before 24 list going that I want to complete before February 2015. Not to mention I’m graduating in spring and want to secure a job before then. Putting any other sort of to-do list together would feel like too much.

This whole reflection time is reminding me of a line from Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” video and song. “My aspiration in life is to be happy.”

I could make lists all day long. But instead I am going to do what makes me happy and in the process I know I will end up accomplishing a lot!

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As I mentioned on Saturday, my family decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early and I decided to blog about it. I hope you all enjoy the photos and learning a bit about my favorite holiday.

Why we celebrate

To be honest, I wish I knew more about why my family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. I do know some of the history and traditions, but not in regards to my family specifically. Since as long as I can remember, my family has celebrated the holiday by eating a special meal. I’m not sure when that started though. I’m guessing my grandparents did, but I’m not sure.

Continue reading

Cold and wet

me, annoyed

bus stop

I don’t want too much time to pass before I post a few photos from the LA storm this past weekend. It seriously poured on Friday!

In LA, rain makes the news. That’s true pretty much every time, no matter what month or year. It’s not just news for no reason this time, though. This winter has been unusually, which is especially bad considering California produces most of the nation’s crops.

I was glad that we got some rain. I love the sound of rain on the roof. In high school, I loved running in the rain. I was a crazy cross country runner then. But, I gotta tell you, I did not love standing around waiting for a bus to come on Friday afternoon while I stood around in the rain. My bus was 30 minutes late, which I didn’t realize at first, so I stood at the stop for a total of 45 minutes. I say that because I also got to the stop a little early. So, that’s why I look so annoyed in that photo up top. I actually took a selfie because I was annoyed and bored. Plus, posterity of course.

I snapped these pics while I was waiting around. Actually, I was prepared for this. Not only was I wearing my big green jacket with a nice hood, I also brought along my camera and a plastic bag specifically to take photos. I put the plastic bag over the camera to cover it from rain. All I had to do was rip a hole for the lens.

Then I called my Grandma. Thankfully, my grandma was able to meet me halfway, so I didn’t have to transfer buses. We had a few minutes at her house to chat, eat cookies, and drink cappuccinos before I went off to have dinner with friends.Grandma loves the rain, so it was nice to experience it with her, even for just a bit.

turning in water

near Starbucks

The in-between time


“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston

I love this quote. I read the book Their Eyes Were Watching God a few years ago for a college English class. To be honest, I didn’t love the book, but I have a feeling if I read it again I might feel differently. That’s what’s great about literature and life. As I grow up I find that I might not like the same things as before because I’m not entirely the same me as before.

I feel as if I’ve figured out what I want in life just a little bit more since the last time I wrote about growing up. My internships are helping with that.

Writing about this just reminded me of how this great professor I had in fall would talk about how the idea of finding out who you are and forming an identity is strange to her. After all, identity is not a static thing. There are aspects of it that can change over time. I wish I could express what she said as well as she did. Hopefully you get what I mean.

A while ago I put together this playlist centered around the idea of “in-between time.” Take it for whatever it means to you. For me, it means being in my 20s, trying to find out what kind of career I want, where I want to live, when to get married and other big things like that.

You can listen to the playlist above, or listen on your Spotify player by clicking here.

I’m going to leave you with one more quote because I love quotes.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E. E. Cumings

Image via Terry Gotham.