south carolina

Goodbye, Year of Exploration. Hello, Year of Ambition.

For the last three years, I’ve rejected the idea of explicit resolutions and instead made a habit of declaring a single word to embody each new year. There was the year of discovery (2012), the year of dedication (2013), and even the year of exploration (2014). Each year lived up to its name, albeit sometimes in surprising ways that pushed me to my limits and then a bit beyond.

In 2012, I discovered who I was away from my friends, outside of my hometown, and apart from everything that I’d always thought was certain, as well as who I was when I came back. In 2013, I dedicated myself to whatever felt important, including finishing my bachelors degree in English and refining my art. And, in 2014, I explored whatever struck my fancy, even as that led me to travel from coast to coast for months on end and begin a master’s degree in criminal justice. No two years were the same, yet no year was more or less enthralling than any other.

All of that being said, 2014 was pretty intriguing. I spent three months in California, Oregon, and Washington. Then I spent three months in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. That’s not to mention all the states and shores I visited on the way to and from those places. I turned 21 and wasted my newest privilege by drinking a pitifully small volume of alcohol (say “no” to big kablue-nas). I began graduate school and discovered that sometimes the student teaches the professor. I baked foods and treats I couldn’t even pronounce and used ingredients I’d never heard of before.

In short, I explored.

Now it’s time to put all of that behind me, to close the door on 2014’s wild exploration, and step into the year 2015, which already seems daunting and intoxicating.

Over the next 365 days, I’ll be traveling back to South Carolina, the state I know only through my family tree.  I’ll be completing my Masters of Criminal Justice degree, complete with nerve-wracking comprehensive exams. I’ll be leaving my friends and the only place I have ever truly regarded as “home.” I’ll be taking control of my health and defying my genetics. I’ll be taking important steps in my personal and professional lives, striving to achieve success through desire and determination.

All in all, 2015 can and will be nothing less than wild and engrossing, fast-paced and sublime. Thus, in the same vein of thought, I’ve decided to call 2015 the year of ambition. I chose the word ambition to embody or headline this year mostly because I have a strong desire to achieve multiple things this year. I have an end-game in mind and nothing will stop me from reaching it. In addition, I’ve come to realize that being ambitious is just in my nature and that is something to use to my advantage, to accept as a benefit. So, this year will be a journey in accepting ambition as a facet of my nature.

Keeping with tradition, as I jumpstart the New Year, I won’t write down any particular resolutions because, well, it just feels awful when a perfectly composed resolution isn’t fulfilled precisely as it was written. I prefer to stick with matters of certainty, like the inevitable graduation and move, and variety, like the generality of being ambitious in all my endeavors. Along the way, I simply hope that at least 15 marvelous things will happen.

Here’s to a year of purpose and cheers to everyone reading this. I hope that you find precisely what you are looking for in the exciting days ahead. Happy New Year!

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Foodulthood.

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When you’re a kid, you absorb little lessons each day without even realizing it. Later on, you start to notice what you’ve learned because others do something, or perhaps everything, differently. Here’s what my childhood taught me about food:

Nothing can beat taco pizza from Pizza Inn in Conway, South Carolina…except maybe the pudding at the Filling Station in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich are amazing…if you leave off the jelly.

When you get Pepsi in an individual bottle, buy a sleeve of Lance regular, salted peanuts. Then, drink a little bit out of the soda and pour the peanuts into the bottle. Drink that delicious motherfucker.

Eating M&Ms is automatically better when you have someone else to share them with and you can play a game of candy color go fish.

Eating spoonfuls of peanut butter at midnight is totally acceptable, as long as you use multiple spoons and never double dip.

There is a pizza joint in Canada, somewhere northwest of Ontario that, in the early 2000s, served the best food I’d ever had. Someday I’ll find that hearty joint.

Don’t dare to call barbecue the action of grilling meat and then pouring sauce on top of it. Barbecue is much more complex and generally only delicious if you get it from a place called Cooper’s Country Store in Kingstree, South Carolina.

Croissants are the perfect food for a Christmas morning…and Christmas afternoon…and Christmas night.

Giving me sugar or another sweetener to add to a glass of unsweetened tea does not sweet tea make.

Cereal counts as a meal whether or not you eat it with milk. However, if you stick it in a plastic bag, it becomes a snack, no matter how big the serving.

Bread is the ultimate food but, pro tip: take a slice of sandwich bread, tear or eat off the crusts, and flatten the remaining bread in whatever way you like. Just make that white bread goodness look like the Eucharist in church and eat.

The tangy tomato dressing from Outback Steakhouse is the best dressing in the world. It should be bottled and given out free to every U.S. citizen as salad potion, just to brighten everyone’s days.

Boiled peanuts are the ultimate snack. They’re actually the official snack food of my birth state. But, when you eat them from a brown paper bag, they are three times better.

For some completely unknown reason, a sandwich will always taste better if someone else fixes it for you.

The U.S. military has a secret weapon and it is the pepperoni pizza from Anthony’s…a restaurant that can only be found on military installations and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No one wants to share that amazing cheese, bread, and meat combo.

Popped jello out of the snack cup, slicing it into pieces, and putting whip cream on each piece automatically makes you feel fancy and fulfilled.

Coke and Pepsi are not the same. Don’t ask me if I’ll accept one when I’ve asked for the other.

Popcorn is evil. If it is anywhere even kind of, sort of, maybe, near its’ expiration date then don’t eat it. I’m telling you: pure, unadulterated evil.

There is a huge different between the Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese with the cheese powder and the same with the cheese goo. Say no to goo every time.

Coconut oil does not in fact make foods taste like coconut…however, if you tell someone who you used it, they will insist that they taste it.

The pop tarts that were around circa 1999/2000 that broke into three strips of pop tart were the best pop tarts ever. Why did you discontinue them, Kellogg, why?

Red delicious apples win. Small, medium, or large. Period.

Traveling just to go to a particular restaurant is acceptable and highly encouraged.

Everyday counts as a holiday if you make and eat pumpkin pie. Also, use the Libby’s recipe, but you must use more cinnamon and less ginger or your pies are pitiful.

Avoid drinking too much of the blue Gatorade, particularly if you’ve not eaten much else recently or with it. It goes down blue, but trust me, it comes up green.

They say that a watched pot never boils. I’m here to tell you that is just silly. A watched pot seems to boil over even faster than the one I abandoned for 10 minutes.

Making pasta sushi from the left over ingredients of lasagna (mozzarella cheese rolled in lasagna noodles and dipped in sauce) is the best part of lasagna-making.

The barbecue sauce from Burger King is the perfect dipping sauce for french fries and thus stockpiling it every time you eat there is fully allowed.

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That is all that I can think of at this moment, and the boiled peanuts my father just made are calling my name, so I’ll leave it up to you guys now. Post your own food lessons in the comments.

I wonder what food lessons I’ll pass on to people as time passes. Peace, love, and pizza.

I can’t stand not being able to picture something.



When I was little, and now, my mom told these stories about the hotels her parents owned when she was young-about the beach pavilion, working hard even when she was just a kid, and going through school in her wild way. My dad, has told his own stories about growing up on a farm, working in different trades, and his crazy family. The stories can be happy or sad, and wild or simple, but either way it’s always driven me bonkers to not be able to picture what it was like. So, I have an idea of what I want to do to change that… 

 
Descriptions have never been enough for me; I need to feel like I’m there. I want to know what it felt like…the average day…the little details that we often forget to acknowledge. I want to know the simple things, and I want to feel like I lived then too. Wanting to feel it and picture the past, is actually what led me into art. When I was little, I so terribly wanted to be able to see what was being explained. I needed something to show me what an “Astro Needle,” “Sea Dolphin Hotel,” and “Georgetown Academy” looked like, and then the art exploded from there, into all sorts of mediums.
I know it doesn’t make much sense to explain, and other people probably find it silly. There’s no way for me to write down how intense it feels when you just can’t see something, and you so strongly want to feel it. I’d give anything for my parents to have taken pictures, or somehow saved pieces of the past. It’s the little things that I need to be able to see. Like how a house looked, what a grocery store was like then, and what kind of car someone drove. 
So, I’ve found a project and purpose for myself. I can’t save the past that my parents have forgotten, and I’ll never have lived in the times that my mother worked at a zoo for weeks to earn her own collie puppy, or that my dad was a talented soccer player, but I can save the time I live in now, for the future. I’m already obsessed with photography, so why couldn’t I just work on holding onto now? One day I could have a niece, nephew, son, or daughter who despises the feeling of needing to picture something as much as I do, and they could have my pictures to look at.
Nothing is too mundane for a picture. Every little detail has a story. So why not fill a book with pictures, of everything, of everyone, and hold onto this time? I don’t just want pictures of parties and fun with friends. I want to capture the feeling of average days now, and yes, all those fun things too. I’m sure I’m not making sense, but I think I’m going to like this thing. It’d be lovely if there were someone doing this with me, someone who knew what I was talking about, but who knows. It’s a big project…and as far as I can see, it doesn’t end until I die…so, I’m starting now. Anyone with me?