January 2, 2013 by Justin Miller
I know that I haven’t kept my promise. I haven’t written to you in months, but trust me when I say that it hasn’t been you that kept me away. You have been on my mind frequently, and the more I thought of you the more I realized that without words, or breath, we cannot exist. I want us to exist.
As many of you know I interned with BULLETT Media (bullettmedia.com) in Manhattan New York over the past summer. First, as you can imagine, living expenses in New York are astronomical, which is why I didn’t stay in New York; I am staying with a friend and his family in Darien, CT. If you haven’t Googled Darien yet, let me just say that it’s ritzy. Ritzy as in “Yes, I am a CEO or corporate leader and yes, the house didn’t come with the big white fence and stone statues, I imported them from Europe because I am filthy rich and own three boats.” Yeah. But it’s pretty quiet in Darien–it has its similarities to Williamsburg.
As for BULLETT, I interned in the editorial department, so I’m always working with text. Whether researching for a feature, copy editing, transcribing an interview, or doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff via WordPress for the website, I always stayed busy. I would rather be with the cool kids in the table next to us editing film or photos, and messing with layout and design. But I guess you have to start somewhere, right? I had to carry the editor-in-chief’s dog once. Well, I didn’t have to, but my director, Juliet, was taking the dog back to her apartment and was carrying her in this suitcase thing on the metro and the dog was a bit too heavy for Juliet so I helped her.
New York itself. It reminded me of a big muddled mash of Richmond and DC. It’s busy and crowded, which is fine because once you survive public schooling for twelve years and have been in an airport as much as I have you know how to dodge a couple dozen “I’m-just-standing-in-your-way-for-no-reason” kind of people. There is a lot to see, eat (trust me), and do. I was normally in the city from 9:30am-7pm, the majority of the time in the office, but sometimes I commuted into the city during the weekend to actually see the city. I think a lot of people take it for granted that they are actually living in what some people consider the center of the very world, if not universe, and are actually accustomed to subways, and tall buildings, and New York life in general. But I get the feeling that the majority of the people in the world take their own homes, whether it is in the suburbs, the countryside, or even Europe, for granted. The phrase is trite, but you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and while returning to Virginia wasn’t fantastic, I did/do enjoy the homogeneous rows of houses, fresh air, and grass. Yes, grass, because that’s sparse in Manhattan.
This past semester was such a blur. Academic wise, I was only taking 13 credits, but it was a lot of reading and writing. I worked on an independent study with Professor Nancy Schoenberger, and I actually wrote about my summer in New York. The independent study was basically an exploration and cultivation of memoir, creative nonfiction, and blending the two forms into a hybrid. Weird, but I’m proud of the portfolio. You should read it sometime. I was also dealing with the whole tug of whether or not I really feel the need to apply to any graduate schools now or just wait a while. I think I am still dealing with that tug, to be honest. I think the academic institution, in all of its shapes and forms, is a safety blanket that I enjoy. But I also just like the feeling of being surrounded by people in my own age group, and knowing, no matter what time or light of day, that someone is awake somewhere on campus waiting to talk or hang out.
I still have a few opportunities, though. One of them involves talking with some Abercrombie & Fitch recruiters and getting into their MIT program, which would last this whole summer and send me off to Colombus, Ohio, where I would train to be a corporate leader/manager and then relocate somewhere. I’ve told some of the people I’ve spoken with that I highly prefer relocating abroad to either London, Paris, Milan, but now that I think about it I know I’ll be miserably lonely. That’s why I hate coming home for breaks and tenaciously seek driving to visit friends: loneliness. Another opportunity(ies) include applying to publishing institutes in New York (at NYU and Columbia) and going to those next summer. But while A&F can offer me a secure salary, these institutes only allow me to network and make connections, connections, that, if I press hard enough, could lead me to a job. Who knows.
Outside of academia, I’ve been trying to spend as much time and memory with friends. This semester has been, by far, the most eye-opening and heart wrenching. I’ve started to make amends with two guys who I use to be really good friends with freshman/sophomore year, but with whom I burned bridges. It was difficult at first to actually sit across from each of them at a table and articulate why I acted the way I did or attempt to translate the beats of my heart. It was as if I was shoving a mirror into my face and really facing everything that I was avoiding, and hiding from, and too afraid or proud to confront. I’m starting to learn that the universe actually does work in mysterious ways; what you put in is what you get out. I haven’t put in a lot of good things, and, well, I haven’t gotten a lot of good things out. But I can—we can—better ourselves by treating and each other more delicately.
I hope that you are well and that you are not letting the world, or its ego, or your ego, or any pain, bitterness, or pressure, sneak itself into your heart. I hope that you are not seeking the answers to questions that will, with time, unravel before you.
July 31, 2012 by Justin Miller
My friends can tell you that though I am borderline obsessive about going to the Rec and working out, I know absolutely nothing about sports. They’re just not my passion. And it’s not as if I won’t play a game of X in the Sunken Garden or on Yates Field; I just don’t find any interest in watching sports on TV or online. But every four years I am struck with what I like to call Olympic Fever.
Whether swimming, fencing, archery, gymnastics, rowing or badminton, if it is the Olympics then I’m all about it. I found myself sitting on the couch two nights ago with a bowl of grapes cringing and cursing under my breath about women’s volleyball. “Why did you do that?” I shouted. “You’re in her way—move, move, mooooove!” And Michael Phelps—what happened to you? Why don’t the gods favor you anymore?
About an hour ago, I was erging at Crunch and I was watching a bit of women’s swimming on one of the TVs that hang from the ceiling. I nearly shouted when Germany took the lead, followed by China. But Italy’s Federica Pellegrini came in first in the end. Take that.
I was even shouting during the opening ceremonies. Did anyone see all of the Lord of the Ring allusions in the beginning? And how creepy was the giga-baby? During the Parade of Nations I felt like I was watching the hunger games and that everyone was submitting themselves to the jaws of Queen Elizabeth II. But the parade made me wish that I too could strut into that arena, decked out in Ralph Lauren’s GI Joe-esque uniform. I texted a friend of mine, “Why couldn’t I have been an athlete? I want to be there.” He replied, “Good question.”
Even if I’m not an Olympian, what’s wrong with being the American mascot? I can just march with the land of the free’s team every four years while waving and dancing and throwing around American stars, or something. Very much like a Paris of Troy kind of show. And every year the broadcasters will ask each other, “And what sport does Justin compete in, again?”
I’ll just keep shouting from this side of the pond for now.
July 12, 2012 by Justin Miller
I am currently sitting in the offices of BULLETT Media. Ah!
I met some of the editors of BULLETT last summer when I grabbed a copy of their magazine in my local Barnes & Noble and sent them an e-mail on a whim (you can read about it in my post entitled ‘Jumping the Bullett‘). Then back in February I got an e-mail from Juliet Thompson, BULLETT’s Content Director, asking me if I wanted to be an editorial intern. Of course I accepted.
My tasks always change, which is great because there is nothing more mundane than doing the same thing over and over again. Researching for an upcoming feature, correcting a story, fixing photos online, or even posting small articles, I tend to stay busy and I am learning a lot. It is also somewhat intimidating and numbing to be around such creative people: Sah D’Simone, James Orlando, just to name a few. This office is filled with artistic professionals and there is nothing more inspiring.
This environment has pushed me to think about my own magazine ROCKET not as a mere university publication, but as a brand and media outlet. I have a lot of goals for ROCKET this upcoming year and I have started thinking in the long term as far as the organization. But more on that to come. I’m not giving away any spoilers. Just get ready.
As you can imagine, living in New York is expensive. That’s why I am commuting from the quiet, yet ritzy, Darien, CT. One of my friends and his gracious parents are letting me stay the month or so while I intern in Manhattan. The commute is about an hour, but that gives me plenty of time to read for my English seminar (yes, we have to start early) and get my thoughts together for a collection of essays I am writing to actually receive academic credit for my internship. The beloved Professor Nancy Schoenberger, who I took for screenwriting, is overseeing my work; I am excited to see what kind of work I can polish for her. Sadly, I normally just find myself looking out of the window listening to Lana Del Rey or Frank Ocean.
More to come.
May 16, 2012 by Justin Miller
In my opinion, junior year was by far the most challenging yet. The academic pressure, the strains on friendships, the crunch and reminder of time—everything just seemed a bit more intense than the two previous years, and I hope this was not an omen for next year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am certain that the final year may just present itself as a circumnavigated route back to the first. Everything from freshmen year—the friends, the nostalgia, the fresh innocence—will reveal itself one last time.
When my freshmen began to move out of Yates I sent them a letter as somewhat of a farewell token, and I hope that each of them take the bits of advice to heart. Some of the letter is below:
And this is the important thing: no matter how troublesome the world around us seems, we have to find time for camaraderie and laughter. College is not just about getting good grades and joining organizations/clubs/fraternities. The relationships you build with those around you are much more lasting than a measly paper or quiz. Do not let the red tape of academia blind or bind you.
College is also about being a mess. It’s about getting the wind kicked out of your lungs, because, as Sarah Kay says, that’s the only way for our lungs to really know how much we enjoy air. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to cut your elbows and knees, to stray from the path and forge a trail (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
And let’s realize that shame is not the same as guilt. Shame is the painful feeling caused by the consciousness of wrong and right behavior. Those without shame are those without the capacity for emotion and empathy. I hope that each of you never restrain yourself from your goals and desires; face your fears. Dr. Brene Brown says that, “vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” There is nothing wrong with vulnerability. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and somewhat terrifying to expose ourselves before others or the fears that laugh. But is there nothing more fulfilling with the strengthened heart? Because that’s the only true gem of laughter, friendship, family.
When it was my turn to move out, I was going through all of my folders and drawers and I came across a few photos from my own freshman year. These photos of my then comrades and myself are bittersweet because some friendships have dissolved, some faces blurred, but I am thankful for the moments I shared with each of them. I am also hopeful that, yes, perhaps the final year will expose the first year for the better.
April 30, 2012 by Justin Miller
I think this is the scariest time of the year.
Finals week begins today and while I should be busy hiding in the corners of Swem or Tyler hall, I can’t help but looking back on the year and trying to tie all the remaining knots. As I mentioned in my last post, a lot of my friends are graduating in about two weeks, and while I am happy for their futures and the new pages they will write, I am only starkly reminded that time isn’t as vast as I thought. I’ll be a senior in August and that frightens me the most.
In a recent conversation with my pal who is abroad, I told him that I really think senior year is going to be nothing more than a cataclysmic recycle of freshmen year. I think of the ouroboros—the ancient symbol depicting the snake (or dragon) eating its tail—and imagine how we, like the snake, will have to devour all of the memories and mistakes from the years in order to survive. I can only imagine how the seniors are dealing with the end of their own tales now.
I feel as though this summer is the last chance I have to relax, explore, breathe. But there is all of this expectation to intern, get real world experience, touch the paint before I splatter myself. As much as I want to travel to New York and intern with a magazine, I am anxious to leave. I find myself tenaciously trying to find an excuse to stay. The other day while I was running past Adair, I caught a whiff of sunscreen I was immediately hit with a montage of memories and emotions, and images of the beach, of friends, of golden dusk—all of which have filled my summers. All of which I will miss.
My tentative plans involve staying for the first session of summer classes and then going up to New York for an internship. But financial aid has yet to send out any reward letters and I haven’t secured a place to stay in NY yet, so I’m constantly on nerve. We shall see.
So, I don’t know my summer plans; I’m not excited for senior year.
But I do miss my friends; I am still scared; and I am going to hide for finals.
March 16, 2012 by Justin Miller
I cannot believe that it’s the middle of March. It’s been a blur to say the least. This post, as many of my most recent, will be a collection of various thoughts about the last few months/weeks. Bare with me!
Spring classes are okay. My course load is English heavy, naturally, so I’m spending a lot of my time reading or writing. I’m taking a Non-Fiction Writing seminar class, which is one of the best classes I have ever taken. It really forces me as a writer and reader to face myself head on to take my complexities and give them articulation. Hemingway got it right when he said, “There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And the beloved Chelsey Johnson is such a gem. I’m thankful and honored to have had such a stellar guide throughout my entire year of writing both fiction and non. Many kudos.
Half of my friends are studying abroad this semester, as I’ve mentioned before, and the other half is nervous and scared about graduation, about their future. Though I’ve managed to meet a bunch of great people who I know will become essential appendages to my well being (you know who you are), my heart still goes out to all of my comrades. I actually had made legitimate plans to visit my good friend in Scotland for spring break, but due to frustrating flight changes the trip would have cost more money than ideal for merely a week’s visit. It was sad, yes, that chat about dissolving our reunion. But I’ll see him sometime soon—expect a post about that indeed.
I will definitely be spending my summer interning in Manhattan this summer, but I’m not sure with which publication yet. So far I’ve been offered an internship with BULLETT magazine, an interview with Lucky, and I have heard from ELLE. I’m waiting to hear back from both the Conde Nast and ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) programs. Their responses should drop anytime soon, so I’m eager for the news. Finding somewhere to live in the New York area will prove difficult, though. I’ve learned this semester that if you don’t have ample supply of both time and money then you’re screwed. In this case I’m somewhat without the latter of the two, but I’m still exploring options. I’ll keep you posted.
Spring semester always proves the most irritating for me. The weather is sublime, yet how can I read or do anything productive when the Sunken Garden looks like a beach? The entire campus is littered with sun tanners, field players, and other troupes of free spirits frolicking about. Can’t the spring academia just be filled with outside oral presentations or nebulous discourse?
And I feel so rushed in the spring, too, with all of this exchange of housing and registration. I just finished my first rounds of midterms (one of which went extremely well in a class that I’m taking pass/fail and it irritates me that the Registrar will not let me flip my choice so I can actually receive a grade and GPA boost) and now I’m expected to configure my home and schedule for next year? Classes look fine besides the fact that I’ll be a senior. But W&M, you do too much.
As my supervisor mentioned in our staff training, friendships are tested during this time of year. Whether it’s a lack of communication or just opposing communication, there’s somewhat of a palpable tension about next year’s housing situation. I’m gracious that I’m squared away, but there’s something I can tell anyone who’s having problems (thefreshmenwhoIinteractwith) it’s two words: chill out. Friendships will last beyond whomever you choose or end up living with next year. Sometimes we spend our time over thinking everything until we forget the real meaning of what’s important to us, and other times we’re desperately avoiding those who we actually need to be friends with. So chill out and let friendship flow. Embrace change now or you’ll suffer later (believe me).
That seems to be all on my mind right now. I’ll post more, I promise. I’ll reconnect.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the sun.
January 12, 2012 by Justin Miller
While staying the night in Atlanta a few days ago, I received the e-mail from the 2013 class president asking for nominations for the 2013 commencement speaker.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the three names I will nominate, but it’s really difficult to narrow down my list. Below, you will find a collage of my top eight choices that I made while listening to Florence + The Machine’s ‘Shake It Out’. I find each of these individuals admirable and inspiring; they have each made contributions to our world that have sparked discussion, provoked thought, and, in a sense, furthered our joie de vivre.
And though the Board of Visitors may disagree with any candidate who isn’t an old political figure, I can still dream.
Speaker, I’ll see you there.
January 3, 2012 by Justin Miller
Can you believe it’s actually 2012?
My winter break has been filled with nothing but travel. First I took a visit to Charlottesville/Keswick to visit a good friend and her family. Now, if you’re as much of a reality-television buff as I am, you know that upon meeting new people some of them just deserve their own television series. I need the Bravo Network to fly over the Appalachians and start filming. Two words: good times.
Anyway, I had never been to Charlottesville. It feels and looks a lot like Hagerstown and Funkstown Maryland (where some of my extended family live). There’s this bagel place called Bodos that would obliterate the College’s measly Einstein Bros. We need one here—in Williamsburg—now. And in the Downtown Mall area, there’s this place called Daedalus Books. Calling all English majors: road trip! This place made me feel like I was in Daedalus’ legendary labyrinth. I only found one out of three books I was looking for, but an old copy of Dante’s Purgatorio made the adventure all worthwhile.
I took a trip up to Herndon next, where the majority of my time was spent dropping dollars on clothes, movies, and exotic Thai and Korean foods. My last night in NoVa, a group of friends and I went out to this club called Fur, which did not have fierce animals, but an intense European DJ instead. The dance floor was more tightly packed than one of Lambo’s eurotrash parties, and though our first attempt to ascend to the second floor balconies was barred, our second attempt put us in the upstairs VIP lounge. Yeah. There were leather couches, with tall, thin glasses, buckets of ice and champagne and servers pushing through the dancers to run to and from the bar. Confused, yet excited, we tossed the ice around and had a thrilling night indeed.
For new years I went back to Keswick. There were about nine of us total, and we all celebrated clumsily, but blissfully. We made pizzas, which included two Italian pizzas (made by yours truly), two Thai, a Mexican, and a Pear/Gorgonzola pizza; played Apples to Apples and this game called Bodies to Bodies, which involves turning off all of the lights and running from a killer until you either stumble upon a dead body or die yourself; bellowed the Alma Mater after the ball dropped; and then shot off fireworks from the nearby helipad, while continuing to swing the champagne and sing tunes from Adele, Queen, Kanye West, and Gaga. Probably the best new years celebration I’ve ever had.
There’s nothing more magical I have learned in College than how momentous it is carving memories and adventures with friends. That’s exactly how I wanted to spend this break; so, now I’m off to Alabama before continued RA training begins!
December 6, 2011 by Justin Miller
It’s literally been months since my last post, but I haven’t forgotten about you.
At the moment I’m in the middle of studying passages for an English final tomorrow, and I can’t believe the semester is nearly over. It feels like just yesterday Hurricane Irene was impending upon the College and the freshmen in Yates were squabbling amuck. But because we’ve been departed for quite some time, allow me to recap the gaps:
October: I traveled with a delegation from RHA to the SAACURH conference at Georgia State University. It was my first time in Georgia outside of the bleak Atlanta airport walls. It was enjoyable, but ultimately filled with procrastination, which is the nature of any trip away from the College, unfortunately.
When we arrived in Atlanta, I had a conference call with the Publication Council about ROCKET’s proposal for permanent seat amongst the Council, and after a few days it was official that ROCKET magazine was granted full membership.
Halloween was blurry. Date party after date party, costume after Greek costume, and so much dancing. I was the Greek god Hermes (or his Roman equivalent, Mercury) for every occasion, and my array of dates throughout the weekend included both Daphne and Megara.
November: The week October transitioned into November was filled with anxiety and stress (much like the current finals week). The root of that irritating pressure rests within one word: Registration. Oh, the Furies. Now a junior, I actually managed to triumphantly trounce Banner and slide into my desired classes.
Right now I’m signed up for three seemingly fantastic English classes, a GER 4B, and an aloof class that I’ll most likely discard for another. I still spend time procrastinating on Banner, of course, clicking and scrolling through the pages of classes for something different, something better than what I already have—the perfect schedule, that’s the overarching dream.
And the Potlucks, Pre-Thanksgiving break dinners—the mouth, belly, and eye can only handle so much, but spending time with friends while sharing a meal is always special.
Before break, I attended my first Publication Council meeting and won the position as Chair for next semester. I’m thrilled. Publishing is my passion—it’s legitimately what I want to pursue as a career, and I expect this experience to only further my understanding and love.
Also, the fall issue of ROCKET hits campus this week. I cannot thank the team enough for its ceaseless devotion, and I am excited for you to see the issue. Here’s a peek at the cover:
Make sure you check it out!
Now: December already, really? Classes are already over, Grand Illumination (not elimination) spectacularly commenced finals week, and the semester is in its final chapter. I don’t like this. I can’t believe I’m nearly 1.5 years away from graduation, away from being plucked from the College and shooed off into the rigid real world.
It’s also a rough time outside of academia because it’s time to start thinking about reapplying to Residence Life, as well as thinking about housing in general. Additionally—and more sentimentally important—a lot of my closest comrades are studying abroad next semester. But trust: any down time, including dull weekends and spring break, will be spent on a plane and in a foreign country. From Scotland, to Spain, and even South Africa, my heart goes out to each of them.
You’ll hear more from me soon, I promise.
October 3, 2011 by Justin Miller
Within the past forty-eight hours I’ve probably slept about eight or nine of them. I wouldn’t say I necessarily procrastinated to write a paper that was due earlier today at noon, because I wrote a brainstorming sheet (I take a blank piece of computer paper and then just scribble, map, and plan out all of my thoughts) two days previous, and I let the ideas and thoughts ferment in the back of my mind. But I just didn’t end up actually writing the paper until around nine o’clock the night before. Well it’s done now, right?
It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m finding that this year seems to shaping into the most challenging yet. All of my classes fall within three days of each other, so while it may seem that I have a marvelous four-day weekend that’s not the case. I spend those days trying to find the strength to pack and haul my backpack to Swem, but I find myself just lollygagging around the hall, messing/pranking/scaring/hanging with the freshmen and playing games. Not until I walk into Swem do I really realize how much work I have, and it’s finding that balance—between work and want—that’s bothering me.
As far as classes are concerned, I enjoy them all. The mean of my satisfaction is somewhere in the B-B+ range. The majority of my classes discuss the same topic, the Classics, so all day long I’m listening to different interpretations on battles, heroes, monsters, and the human condition therein. The only problem is that I have not yet adjusted to back-to-back lectures all day long. I don’t remember it being so straining and fatiguing in high school.
I’m taking a fiction writing class that meets on Wednesdays. I really enjoy the intimate class size and the contemporary literature we’re reading; however, the writing assignments always make me anxious. Writing outside of the realm of academia is a passion of mine (hello blogosphere!), but sometimes I feel pressured and constricted by the “write this” assignments. I completely understand the need to hone my creative thought process—and the urgency to develop a polished writing prowess—but it’s just that sometimes I find myself staring at the assignment as if it were a vile insect. The class is creatively challenging, yet I have produced some of my most raw and true pieces yet. I favor it.
Also, there’s an undergoing trend at the College that I noticed freshmen year but didn’t really understand its true dynamic until last week. Even though it’s the beginning of October, people and organizations already have their eyes on the summer and next fall. Why? Why can’t we all just enjoy the now. I attended an interest meeting for the W&M DC Institute and though the New Media branch sounds phenomenal, I was just in shock at how the application for your summer life is so early. And I have friends applying and interviewing for orientation aid director positions, and also a few considering to study abroad, and when I sit down and think of it I’m just in shock that our minds are constantly in the future. But I guess we’re in the age of Aquarius, right?
Tonight is Busch Gardens day, which means tickets for W&M students are ridiculously low. I am not attending these festivities because I’m on duty tonight and I’m also recovering from sleep deprivation. The campus is quiet. And I think it’s a good start to the weekend.
Until next time!