Competing in a Best Friend Vs. Sister Challenge (things got weird)

 

Due to my compulsion to document everything (I’m a journalism major, give me a break!), the much-anticipated (mostly by Elaine who knew she would beat me) sister vs. best friend trivia challenge ensued. 

Elaine has been my sister’s best friend for over 10 years now, and along with her weirdly good memory and my weirdly bad one, we truly had no idea how this challenge would play out.

I spent about a day editing this, mostly because I insert random vines and memes that don’t make much sense, but I think it turned out pretty entertaining. Enjoy!!

Coffee Shop Awards of 2017

I did it! I compiled a list of my favorite coffee shops I discovered in 2017.

Here I have 14 places to get your cup of joe.

Please keep in mind that I am not a coffee expert. At all. A coffee shop expert? Possibly. But mainly I’m a coffee addict.

Ever thought about how coffee is kinda just weird bean soup? Think about it.

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SNUG ON THE SQUARE | Go-to Brunch Coffee 

Mckinney, Texas

  • Best Breakfast Award
    • Amazing breakfast choices for decent prices. My favorite is their oatmeal combo!
  • Best Location Award
    • Set at the heart of Mckinney Square, it’s the perfect place to meet up with people and walk around the cute antique shops right after!

Hustle Rating: ♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Snug on the Square is a two-parter. Next door to the coffee shop is the restaurant, though the two flow into each other easily. It gets pretty busy on the weekends, so try to go during a weird time. They do offer milk substitutes. On Sunday nights they host a worship service!

http://snugonthesquare.com/


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HOUNDSTOOTH COFFEE| Downtown Modern Coffee Shop

Dallas, Texas

  • Best Productive Workspace Downtown Award
    • Great place to get things done at the center of Dallas. (Though this picture doesn’t showcase much hustling, my grandma was really enjoying her donut.)

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥

The baristas here really know their stuff. It’s a great place to try different roasts with different tasting notes. It’s a camp-out-with-your-laptop-because-you’re-cool environment.

https://www.houndstoothcoffee.com


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FROGG COFFEE BAR & CREPERIE | The European Street Corner

Allen, Texas

  • Best Café for Sitting Outside
    • This Watters Creek shopping center in Allen, Texas has this big grassy area with beautiful trees and a little creek with cute little statues. It’s a super pretty area that never gets too loud and is perfect for a day with nice weather.
  • European Haven Award
    • Look how cute! It’s very europe-esque, and they have BOMB crépes
  • Best Place to Bring Kids and Dogs
    • Guess what? There’s an outdoor playground right outside the patio! Just the right distance for you to keep an eye out for the kiddos while you’re sipping an espresso.

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥

Great for both working and socializing. Sad for people (like me) who can’t eat crepes, but hey! Coffee is gluten free! (Also, they have omelets!)

http://www.froggcoffee.com


IMG_3901SUCRÉ CAFE | Absolute Asian Heaven

  • Most Visited by Isabel Award
    • During the schoolyear of 2016-2017 when I attended Collin College and took classes mostly at the Spring Creek Campus, I was at Sucré at least once a week. Most of the baristas still know me by name. At one point they even gave me discounts just because.
  • The First Open Mic Night I Ever Participated In
    • (Pictured below for proof.) If nothing has changed, they have open mic nights every last Tuesday night of the month! (But don’t take my word on that.)
  • Best Food!
    • Since opening, the place has expanded their food menu SO MUCH. Literally everything I’ve had there is amazing. They have rice bowls, different types of fries, chicken bites (of which I have probably consumed gallons by now), and many other AMAZING asian treats to keep you satisfied.
  • Isabel is Addicted Award
    • They have BOBA. Repeat. THEY HAVE BOBA. Not only is their coffee menu crazily extensive, but they offer slushes, smoothies, and THE best boba tea I have ever had. They make the pearls from scratch every day.

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

https://www.yelp.com/biz/sucre-cafe-plano

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FILTERED | The Hidden Musical Gem of Mckinney

  • My Best Friend’s Favorite Coffee Shop Award
    • My best friend loves it there, and the baristas all know her.
  • Cutest Artwork Award
    • I love the local art they post on the walls!
  • Most Musical
    • There are a bunch of instruments (and a piano) set out for people to jam on at their leisure. I’ve busted out a tune there myself and everyone there
    • is so supportive of random music-making!

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥

Great place to get work done (except the occasional possibly distracting jam sessions, though those are random and not usually too disruptive), but also offers board games. Located at Mckinney square, so again, great places to explore in the area.

https://getmefiltered.com

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SUMMER MOON | My Go-To Coffee Shop

Frisco, Texas

  • My Family’s Favorite
    • It’s our go-to, being only a few minutes from my parents’ house. And yeah, we have t-shirts.

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Amazing coffee. Sometimes crowded (which makes sense because it’s great), but it’s super cute and has a great atmosphere.

http://woodfiredcoffee.com/frisco
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SALUBRIOUS JUICE+MORE | My First Coffee Shop Job

  • Healthiest Options Award
    • Organic and vegan! Not only is the coffee good, but they offer smoothies, cold-pressed juices and immune shots!

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

I applied for a job before it even opened, and was hired as the very first employee. When it started out, it was just me, the manager and the owner. The owner had me not only make drinks, but run the social media, paint artwork for the walls and make a full mural, as well as take photos for advertisements. It’s a great place for a quiet place to work, and the manager is super nice! I don’t work there anymore but I’ve stopped by to grab coffee a couple times.

http://www.salubriousjuiceandmore.com

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THE NEST | Super Cool Hidden Gem of Frisco

Frisco, Texas

  • Best Gluten-Free Food Around!
    • THE. BEST. Gluten free bread I’ve had!!! Amazing brunch. CRAZZZZYY GOOD sandwiches!
  • Quietest and Coolest Spot Award
    • I don’t mind spending hours there.

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

It’s a favorite for sure. Great for getting stuff done, or getting brunch with friends and family. Super friendly staff as well!

https://www.nestcafe.net

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DAVIS STREET ESPRESSO | Take a Bus to Serious Coffee

Dallas, Texas

  • Most Serious Coffee Experience Award
    • No milk substitutes which makes me real sad. Buuuut they’re serious about their beans!

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥

https://www.nestcafe.net

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XO COFFEE | Pretty Girl Boss Cave

Plano, Texas

  • Prettiest Place to Get Work Done
    • Super cute coffee shop! Great place to work!
  • Amazing Coffee Shop Tacos

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥

I was very pleased to find that they serve incredible tacos. But it’s a super cute spot in adorable downtown Plano. Bring a sweater, I feel like I’m always so cold there. But it’s nice and bright with cute decor!

http://xocoffeeco.com

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3E5C678D-682A-4168-98C8-DE14A406A849.JPGMUDSMITH | The Hipster Go-To

Dallas, Texas

  • The “They Have Kombucha!” Award
    • Yup. They have kombucha.

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥

It was a little dark for my liking when it came to studying, but I suppose if you were there for either meeting with friends or working on your laptop, it’s great! Super hipster. Great coffee, kombucha, and juice!

http://www.mudsmithcoffee.com

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IMG_2093.JPGROYAL BLUE GROCERY | Coolest Spot for Coffee and Food in Dallas

Dallas, Texas

  • Nicest People Award 😉
    • 😉
  • Celebrity Spotting?
    • Located at Highland Park, it is frequented by many different people. The likes of Anne Hathaway, Owen Wilson, and Matthew Mcconaughey have been some.
  • Coolest Grocery Store That Exists Probably in the Whole World
    • Wanna get coffee, lunch, and wine, all while getting your grocery shopping done? It’s the perfect place!

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

https://www.royalbluegrocery.com

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463DBD08-304C-49A5-A44C-3B55B0414B77.JPGODDFELLOWS | Super Cool Restaurant I Treated Like a Coffee Shop

Dallas, Texas

  • Photogenic Food Spot Award

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥

Only been there once, but I stayed pretty much all day. Got a bunch of stuff done, had good coffee, and met with a good friend!

http://www.oddfellowsdallas.com

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F4868110-FDC1-4648-92A1-A9D92DB7459A.JPGBIRD BAKERY | Cupcakes That Make Me Love Life

  • Gluten-free Desserts That I Sometimes Dream About
    • The CUPCAKES
  • Prettiest Bakery in Dallas
    • Pink neon signs? I think yes.

Hustle Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Social Butterfly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Instagram-ability Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Healthy-friendly Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Amazing pastries, super good coffee and kombucha, and great food! Located right by Royal Blue so spending the day in the area is a really good idea.

http://www.birdbakery.com

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Dallas Art Museum

My childhood best friend came back into town, bringing along her boyfriend. The three of us explored Dallas a bit, making a stop at the Dallas Museum of Art.

I love them to death, but don’t even try to bring athletes to an art museum. They’re both in college with huge golf scholarships and are crazy good at what they do, but couldn’t last very long at an art museum. Meanwhile, there was me. I could’ve spent the whole day there, but it’s okay. We went and got popsicles.

 

0561BF9D-2BF4-4092-901C-3DBFDF63B804Here are a couple of my favorite pieces we saw in our visit. The one above impressed me with its amazing texture. F20D1924-54F5-4E63-A7C5-0E5A77FA56C0

This one was by Félix Hilaire But, called “At the Boulevard de Clichy.” It was in a small section about French sketches. I loved it because it was just pencil, watercolor, and paper, some of my most used mediums, yet it was so masterfully created. The minimalism and simplicity of the lines and the fact that it wasn’t very detailed, yet each stroke served its purpose, amazed me.

Troy and His Series of Unfortunate Events

 

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You see that beautiful piece of zebrawood I’m holding? That gorgeously crafted piece of art? That is my electric-acoustic Ibanez, commonly known as Troy.

(Side note: My first guitar was a classical named Gabriella, so maybe you can connect the theme here. I unfortunately can’t plug her in or put a strap on her, so I needed an acoustic guitar to be able to bring around and use for church and performances and stuff.)

Yesterday, Troy died for the third time.

Get ready for a musical story of love and heartbreak. If you’re a musician of any sort, this might be hard to read. Just bear with me. Stay strong.

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Right after the picture above was taken (the picture of me and my best friend, not the gif of Will Ferrel…), I forgot Troy at our church building. It was right after I had done a rendition of “Beautiful” by MercyMe, and I had headed to work right after. Luckily, I was meeting a friend later that day, so I just asked her to grab it for me. The thing is, Troy didn’t have a case at this time. I had still been saving up to buy one. And unfortunately, the strap was a little finicky. While my friend carried it, the strap came undone, and CRASH.

Troy was decapitated.

Pretty much.

Well, his head was hanging off. (Technically it’s called a headstock, but… details.)

Needless to say, my friend was mortified. And it’s been a while since I’d seen her freak out that much. She knew how much I love Troy.

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We took turns comforting each other during this emotionally traumatic time. Luckily, she being the good friend she is, paid for Troy’s repair. Guitar Center fixed him for $150. Looking back, I should’ve just used the money to buy a replacement guitar, but hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?

Troy was fixed.

The End.

Right?

No.

Months later, on a road trip to visit our friends in College Station as pictured below, I decided it was a good idea to leave Troy in my friend’s car overnight.

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Worst. Idea. Ever.

You see, I had left Troy in the car many times before and it was fine! That is, I left him in the car many times before he was damaged. I didn’t even think about how his fragile state could affect his ability to withstand the intense Texas heat.

On the way home, I found Troy dead again. His head was once more hanging lose. The glue from his repair had come undone, and we were back to having a broken guitar.

This time, my parents were angels and agreed to pay for his repair. Once more, I really really really should’ve just bought a new guitar. I really really really really really really should have.

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Anyway.

After going to a big worship music ministry conference with my church, I was super inspired to start playing Troy again.

It was a Sunday night. 8:04 pm. I was in my dorm room. I opened the hard case I now keep him in, and there he was.

This time, completely decapitated. His head(stock) wasn’t even hanging, it was just completely off.

My guitar was in two pieces.

Keep in mind, I got Troy for Christmas, but had to still pay my parents half of his cost. He was $399. I’ve spent $250 on repairs by now. And he just freaking KEEPS BREAKING.

After a very intense cry session in which I had a questioning-my-life-and-contemplating-quitting-music-forever-and-never-picking-up-an-instrument-ever-again-maybe-this-whole-thing-is-an-omen-and-I-should-just-live-a-music-less-and-miserable-existence breakdown…….

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I eventually gathered myself together. An omen to stop music? Ridiculous.

I took the poor guitar to Guitar Center, and a nice man who worked there heard my sob story and offered to repair it for free, since their last repair was only a little over a month ago. There he now sits, getting his third surgery. But the Guitar Center repairman told me that he won’t last long. He explained that it’s like having a wrecked car. You can fix it, but it will never be the same. It’ll just keep breaking.

Basically, I need a new guitar. I’ll still have Troy, but I need something I can actually bring around since he’ll only last maybe a couple more months.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do, honestly. My plan was to save money for an electric guitar and a keyboard. Now I have to backtrack and figure out how to get a replacement acoustic. No new toys until I replace it. Do I get the same guitar as a replacement? Do I get a different one? Should I just get a keyboard instead? Should I wait until Black Friday? Or Christmas?

I don’t know. I’m bad at decisions. I’m still looking around and spending a questionable amount of time at Guitar Center feeling out the instruments and trying to figure out what I need to buy and with what money. We’ll see what happens.

So there you have it. The story of how Troy died. Three times. And though he’s getting repaired again, his life is over. So let’s just end this weird cliff hanger of an ending with some pictures commemorating our good times together.

HAIM

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Este, Danielle and Alana Haim make up one of my new favorite artists. I’ve talked about them a lot on social media it seems, but I wanted to dedicate a post to talking about their music.

I love, love, love artists that are different! Their vocals, drum beats, and overall songwriting are so unique! For some people their music takes a while to start appreciating, but the way they build each song is super cool to me.

With all the artists out there that either a) make me wonder how they got famous in the first place, b) are not very involved in the songwriting process, c) can’t play any instruments, or d) are not involved in the instrumentals and production of their songs, Haim is the kind of artist that I respect. They not only write their own music, but play most of (if not, all), of the instruments. You can tell that these girls know their music. They build their songs usually from drum beats, and add on playing the electric guitar, bass, piano, synth, and vocals.

So where should you start getting to know these girls? Don’t worry, I gotcha. Here’s a little crash course on HAIM:

  1. Want You Back Video

I like music videos like this- ones that are super simple, yet entertain you the whole time. Here’s one of my favorite songs of theirs!

2. Watch them play!!! Valentine Studios

I love seeing them show off how crazy talented they are… like, can I please be that cool?? Make sure to catch the end though, what’s cooler than three sisters drumming together?

 

3. The Wire

My other favorite. This video’s got a little humor in it, which is always nice.

 

Enjoy, my people!

Song Explorer- an aid for the music nerd

For my Intro to Digital Hybrid Media Class, my professor had us listen to a couple podcasts on Song Explorer. On this website, artists take apart their music piece by piece. If you want to hear musicians dissect their work, I’d highly recommend to check it out!

 

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I scrolled down and stopped when I saw “La La Land,” of course. It’s my favorite movie, so obviously I want to hear about it. It was the coolest thing to hear the different parts of “Audition.” I heard Emma Stone’s voice stripped of the orchestra, and vice versa, all taken apart with commentary from its creator, Justin Hurwitz. This guy is mega talented, so I loved hearing his thought process and creative journey through making this beautiful song.

 

Click for La La Land podcast

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047e64fa924a9cfa76cd7da210667d73I also listened to a podcast on The Lumineers. It was about their song “Ophelia.” I’d never heard the song before but I’ve liked some of their music so I wanted to learn more about them. I loved listening to the behind-the-scenes clips of the artists working on the song and hearing their thought processes. My favorite part of the podcast was when they were telling the story of stomping on a wood floor in a random corner of the studio with their boots for a beat.

 

Click here for the Lumineers podcast

Anyway, super random but I hope your enjoy dissecting music!
*not my photos!

Sit down and chill out!

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I had this week booked. My schedule was lit up like a Christmas tree. I tend to do that to myself.

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But this week, on top of my normally busy schedule, I started a new job that required many hours at the beginning of the week to train, I was stressed out about a couple assignments at school not going the way I wanted, and I had a really cool social media job set for this weekend.

Stylecon is a national convention where bloggers, makeup artists, stylists, etc. meet from all around the country. It’s supposed to have a couple thousand attendees at the Dallas one this year. And guess what? I was contacted to run their social media for the weekend! The Stylecon people looked at my Instagram when I applied to volunteer for the event and decided to have me run their Instagram and Snapchat for the event. You can imagine I was pumped! (This goes out to the haters that think social media is useless…)

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Also, I had a friend coming in this weekend. My plan?

Run the social media for a national convention, not miss a single hangout my friends were having (which is a lot, let me tell you), go to an SMU football game with my family, not miss my Friday class, pick up an 8-hour work shift, go to church, and study for a few hours. All in one weekend.

Was I stressed?

Yeah, but what else is new?

Did all this happen?

Pshhh, no.

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Times like this, God likes to tell me to chill. Because I think I am Superwoman and can handle everything all the time, and apparently I can’t.

So I got sick.

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I tried to shake it off, but after one of my work shifts I decided to lay in bed, and I kinda just stayed there.

I called my mom, who conveniently lives 40 minutes from SMU with no traffic, and she came to bring me medicine. But after seeing that I had a fever or whatever, she decided to bring me home home.

And here I have been for three days. Just lying here. I had to cancel on 9 people in the last two days. And Stylecon.

I was bummed.

But you know what?

I was forced to chill. I needed that. I need to learn to stop.

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Being sick shouldn’t be the only thing that gets me to lie down and do nothing. It’s healthy to just sit and breathe every once in a while, you know?

It sucks sometimes, but there are days that I really need to just stop. And breathe. And think.

I’m slowly recovering, and it helped that my best friends risked their healthy lives to visit me and bring me food, but I realized a few things while sitting in bed:

  • I really wanted to help with Stylecon because I wanted to be cool. But I don’t need to prove my coolness!
  • I got to thinking a lot about this blog and I really want to dedicate more time to it.
  • In Luke 10 there’s a story about Mary and Martha. Martha was super busy doing a million things at once and was mad at Mary for not helping, but Jesus told Martha that Mary was in the right for having her priorities straight and just sitting at his feet. I need to watch myself so I don’t become a Martha. I can’t think that the many little things in life outweigh the important things.
  • Ginger tea is the BOMB. I think I’ve been drinking 25 cups a day.

 

 

A Documentation of My Coffee Shop Obsession

I noticed that when one scrolls down an Instagram feed, there are certain themes. Things that recur and develop a narrative if you stitch up all the matching posts. The development of a relationship, a talent, or an obsession can sometimes be traced in Instagram history.

I decided to document my obsession with coffee and coffee shops by taking screenshots of my personal Instagram account (@isagram.98, wink wink…), and embellishing it with some artwork I’ve posted in my art Instagram account (@artsyrosebud, nudge nudge…) and further decorating it with some random doodles and notes. I made it in a very long format so that one could do the ever-familiar, Insta-esque, scrolling motion.

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the code of friendship

Coding- it’s super daunting. A whole different language that lives right in your computer.

Don’t get me wrong, I still know nothing about coding. Like, absolutely nothing.

But I got introduced to something that looks a lot like coding. Does it count? Maybe not. Either way, it made me feel cool.

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Look at that beauty. I have no idea what any of it means. But my art Professor had us open up a .jpeg image in TextEdit, and that’s what came up. All the little bits of information that the computer uses to make up the picture. Here is the original photo:

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These are 5 of my best friends. We like to think we’re like the TV show “Friends.” (I’m Pheobe, of course.) But that’s all probably for a different blog post.

I took this picture of them a couple weeks back and processed it through VSCO. Then I opened it up in TextEdit to see this random array of letters, numbers and symbols.

This is where the glitch comes in.

My professor taught us how to make glitch art. To mess up images to make cool irregularities.

I started deleting large sections of the code and replacing many parts with the names of my friends typed over and over. For example, here’s Tyler’s section:

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After a while of totally destroying sections of the code, the results were pretty cool.

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the code of friendship

How Did We End Up Here?- My SMU Story

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Hope. Heartbreak. Drama. Plot twists. Australia. You can find it all below, in the story of how I came to attend Southern Methodist University.

Today was the first day of school for the semester.

I am attending Southern Methodist University.

If you knew my story, you’d chuckle. When life gets ironic or takes unexpected turns, especially for the good, we tend to chuckle. I am chuckling.

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Halloween. October 31, 2014 was the first time I set foot on the SMU campus. Anyone who visits can tell that it is easily one of the most beautiful college campuses in the US. But I also fell in love with the Arts school. Long story short, after my very first college tour, I was hooked on SMU. As a high school sophomore.

When it came time to enroll, I got in. The acceptance rate is 49%, so I pretty much had a half and half chance.

The problem?

The price.

That’s fine, right? I can just get a scholarship!

Totally! I received a scholarship of $30,000!!! Super exciting, right? The problem:

SMU’s undergrad tuition fees are around $50,000 a year. Plus, they require students under 20 to live on-campus, so add another solid $14,000.

I did not have that money. My parents did not have that money. So off to community college I went, kicking and screaming.

The thing is, Collin County Community College actually turned out to be an amazing experience. I had a bunch of friends by my side in the same boat, and made some new friends along the way. I got to help start a Bible study group on campus and soon became its President. Attending community college was one of the smartest decisions I ever made because of how much money it saved me, and it was a crucial stepping stone into adulthood. I was also so grateful for that extra year I lived at home. It really prepared me for moving out.

But what now? What’s the plan? What happens after Collin?

That’s the question, isn’t it. That’s the thing with community college. You feel like you have multiple senior years because in the end, you still have to figure out where to go to school.

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With some dual credit courses under my belt, I could transfer from Collin after a year. So I had one year to decide where to go. Sounds like enough time, right? It should be, but not for me! No sir, it was approaching the summer and I still had no idea where I was going. I applied to 7 schools- UTD (University of Texas at Dallas), UNT (University of North Texas), TCU (Texas Christian University), Rice University, UT (University of Texas), Tufts University (a school in Boston), and SMU. I was basically waiting to see what the cheapest option would be, because money.

Slowly, financially things got narrowed down. But they got narrowed down too much. Everything was too expensive. Pretty much every school gave me a decent amount of money, but not enough for me to afford going for three years. Even UTD, the cheapest school I applied for, barely gave me money so it was still pricey.

And then I got the call.

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I was in Austin for a Leadership Training week, having a deep convo with one of my girls, when the phone rang. Out of the 100+ students that applied for a transfer scholarship, 25 were being chosen to come in for an interview. One of them, being lil’ ol’ me.

I got pretty much everyone I knew to pray. I had elders in the church on their hands and knees praying for this interview. So you can imagine the stress, huh?

No sleep for Isabel.

Only 10 would be chosen to receive a full-tuition scholarship to SMU for 5 semesters. That’s basically like winning $150,000.

My sister had her driver’s test that morning (talk about STRESSSSSS in the Arcellana family household), so my friend Lacy drove me up for my interview.

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(Photo taken right after the interview, when I was feeling pretty good about myself.)

I got the email soon after.

I didn’t get the scholarship.

I read it over and over and over until my tears blurred my sight. “We regret to inform you…”

Why was I crying? I’m not a very emotional person. But I am a very driven person with very high expectations of myself. I’m also a dreamer. SMU was my dream school. I had worked my butt off at Collin so I could just have a shot at this exact scholarship. I worked so hard. And what was it about my interview? Am I just not likable? What did I do wrong, what did they want?

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I also didn’t know where else to go. It was June by this time, and I had no idea where I was going to live in 2 months. My mom and I crunched numbers over and over. I would have to go into a lot of debt (which we were trying to avoid like the plague) to even go to UTD, which was not even a school I really wanted to go to.

At one point, I started planning on moving to Australia. People thought I wasn’t serious.

I was serious.

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I was already emailing friends out there and figuring out where I’d live. But my mom wanted to try for SMU again. She said we might be able to afford it if I commute the 45 minute drive, since I have some scholarships. So we started negotiating for me to live at home. And that’s when my SMU advisor asked me to come in.

Two weeks after I had received that heartbreaking email and the day before my birthday, I was back at SMU. At the same intimidation building that was fancier than the White House.

I was led into the office of Jennifer Lasagna, and when I sat down she put a letter in front of me.

“I’ll let you read that.” She said.

I did read it. Again. And again. And again. (Actual footage of me that day)>>>

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I finally decided that I probably forgot how to read and did not understand the letter. “Wait, what?”

She laughed. “You got the scholarship!”

What a turn of events, am I right? I’ll take that as a birthday present.

As it turns out, I was chosen as one of the 10 all along. This whole time, there were 4 or 5 SMU staff members emailing back and forth because some of my credits weren’t transferring and they weren’t sure if they could accept them yet. (Because of me, SMU is having to change some of their policies on AP transferring credits.) They had to tell me no just in case things couldn’t be worked out.

So there you have it! I was absolutely blessed with one of the 10 North Texas Community College Full Tuition scholarships!

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The way I see it, God was like “I’m going to humble you first and make you rethink your whole life and really depend on me. Then I’ll show you my plan. It’s great, I promise. We’ll all laugh at this someday.”

Here’s to hard work paying off, God waiting until the last minute to reveal his plans because it helps my heart, and random life plot twists. Here’s to doors opening and closing right when they need to.

Pony up! I’m a Mustang!

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÷ | Ed Sheeran’s New Album: Thoughts and Fun Facts Part 1

Ed Sheeran took a year off. He got rid of social media, communicating solely through email, and traveled the world with his girlfriend. He came back, finished up ÷, and has recently released it. The following is a breakdown of each song, pulled from an interview (which will be in a link in Part 2), in which Ed addresses Divide track-to-track.

As Ed says, he “couldn’t have made a better album.”

Eraser

Track 1, and Ed hits us with verses upon verses of what he calls “verbal vomit.” The words strike with such rawness and realness. Almost the first whole minute is simply Ed spitting bars about fame, money, and the “trappings of the industry.”

Ed wrote this song in his treehouse the same night he wrote “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.” He says “there’s so much that has happened to me in the last 5 years that I haven’t been able to talk about.” A great kick start to ÷, “Eraser” packs a punch for sure.

Castle on a Hill

Here we have a single that was released in January. A classic roll-your-windows-down-a-country-road Sheeran song. Most of his friends cried when they first heard it, and it’s his dad’s favorite song on the album (probably because he actually lives near the castle on the hill). Ed remarked that he was influenced by Snow Patrol, and that he had the idea of doing a reflective song for a while. He said he thought, “No one’s done this reflective thing! And then that Lukas Graham song came on- and I was like, aaaah!”

Dive

Ahh, now we’re chilling it out a bit after a couple hard-hitting tracks. A great ballad filled with Ed’s underrated belting skills. A classic beat with some very unique melodies and lines like:

So don’t call me baby
Unless you mean it
Don’t tell me you need me
If you don’t believe it
So let me know the truth
Before I dive right into you

When asked about this song, Ed said “that’s hard to sing.” Understandable. But he did it great, didn’t he? “It was meant to be sung falsetto. I was in the kitchen belting it out and Benny (Benny Blanco, producer) was like- ‘that’s how you’re meant to sing it!’.”

Another surprise in this song was the background female vocal. Out of nowhere, a woman named Jessie Ware (who did vocals for 3 songs and co-wrote “New Man”), comes in. Ed confessed that none of his managers and no one at the label agreed with adding her in (it had never happened before on a song of his), but he insisted.

Perfect

Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know
She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home
I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets
To carry love, to carry children of our own
We are still kids, but we’re so in love, fighting against all odds
I know we’ll be alright this time
Darling just hold my hand, be my girl, I’ll be your man
I see my future in your eyes

Before writing this soft, classic love song, Ed said that his mindset was “I need to write the best love song of my career, and I need to do it %100 me.” Ed’s mission was to beat his hit “Thinking Out Loud,” and ended up writing, singing and producing what he sees as his best song yet.

Talking about his current girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Cherry Seaborn, he admits that he is “really happy, really comfortable,” and has “never been more inspired.”

Galway Girl

A personal favorite of mine, and apparently Ed’s as well. About this ode to Ireland, he said “That’s like my favorite one. My whole album is my favorite one, but that one I was so excited to come out!”

For those who don’t know, Galway is a harbor city in Ireland. Ed had an Irish folk band called Beoga over at his house to record for some of his songs, and decided to write a song in their style. Some people are speculating that the “Galway Girl” is Niamh Dunne, the fiddler in Beoga, but some facts in her life don’t really match up with the song. Also, Ed has said that this was one of two fictional songs in the album (the other, we have no idea).

“I know there’s like 400 million people in the world that claim Irish, and they’re going to love it, and I can’t wait to put it out there. And also Ireland is my biggest market.” There you go, Ireland. A perfect song all wrapped in a bow.

Happier

Ain’t nobody hurt you like I hurt you
But ain’t nobody need you like I do
I know that there’s others that deserve you
But my darling I am still in love with you

“When you’ve had your first relationship or second relationship when you’re young and it ends, you’re so bitter about it and I get to sort of… look at exes in their relationships and think ‘she actually looks happier than she’d be if she were with me’,” Ed said, when asked to explain the feeling that this song stemmed from.

“It was a kind of epiphany moment,” he commented, comparing it a little to Adele’s “Someone Like You.” He described meeting the new boyfriend of the girl who his first and second albums were mostly about, and thinking, “he’s so much more suited to her than I ever was.”

New Man

Now, this song is just plain funnyIt’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and proof that Ed can put things like Instagram stalking, kale, Kardashians, and eyebrow plucking into a song and still make you dance.

But still, I’m just keeping it real, still looking at your Instagram and I’ll be creeping a little
I’ll be trying not to double tap, from way back, cause I know that’s where the trouble’s at
Let me remind of the days when you used to hold my hand
And when we sipped champagne out of cider cans
I guess if you were Lois Lane, I wasn’t superman, just a young boy trying to be loved
So let me give it to you

About this song, Ed said “I was basically like, let’s write a list of like- you know when your ex leaves you and the first guy she gets with- what that guy is like.”

Apparently this was going to be a bonus track (Ed wanted “Save Myself” to be in its place), but the management insisted on putting it in the top 12, and I’m glad he did.

Hearts Don’t Break Round Here

Ed did say that this was his favorite song of the album, but by this time he’s said that about maybe 3 or 4 tracks, sooooo we’re just going to accept the fact that he can’t show favoritism with his babies. That’s okay.

This track came a bit later, and was an “Ed production” as well, meaning that it was %100 Ed-produced, written and recorded. He wrote it on his kitchen table, remarking that he often “finds the best songs- like happier- where it’s not structured.”

What Do I Know?

This song was Ed’s way of having a say in politics.

We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I’m just a boy with a one man show
No university no degree but lord knows
Everybody’s talking about exponential growth
And the stock market crashing and their portfolios
While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote
Saying love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?

Many a British artist can get confused about the craziness of American politics. I mean, even American politicians can get confused about it sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I love how Ed has put his two cents in. He describes this song as a “knee-jerk reaction” to what happened last year. “It’s me looking at the world and being like, we’re not doing too well here, are we?” I appreciate Ed giving us some perspective, and as always, backed up by a catchy beat.

How Would You Feel

I was a little iffy about the new album when I heard “Shape Of You”- I thought, this could go either way. I hoped Ed hadn’t gotten sucked into the swirling vortex of pop music. But after hearing this song, I was confident that Ed would never do that to us.

Another classic love song to add to Ed’s collection of perfect wedding songs. He was asking Cherry what her favorite song of the album was, and she replied with, “my favorite song, you don’t even know it exists.” So, she found it in her email and played it to him. As it turns out, he had written it a while back, recorded it on his iPhone, sent it to her, and forgotten about it. Thanks to his girlfriend, we get to enjoy this gorgeous ballad.

Another fun fact! Ed said that while he was trying to get the guitar solo down, he wasn’t satisfied and kept thinking about how only John Mayer could do it well. And since he’s lucky enough to have John’s number, he called him up. The brilliant guitar solos that you are graced with in this track is the John Mayer.

The last song and the four bonus tracks will be covered in Part 2.

 

÷ | Ed Sheeran’s New Album, Part 2

Supermarket Flowers

In a previous album, Ed had released “Afire Love,” one of my favorite songs of his, as a tribute to his late grandfather on his father’s side. Here is another song about a grandparent, this time about his late grandmother on his mother’s side.

His grandmother was very ill and passed away when he was making the record. At first, he wasn’t going to release this song, but was encouraged to do so by his father and grandfather after he had played it at the funeral. A beautiful song, written from the perspective of his mom.

So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back
He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home

Save Myself

Another one of those songs that make you sort of rethink your life. Thanks, Ed.

I gave you all my energy and I took away your pain
Cause human beings are destined to radiate or drain
What line do we stand upon cause from here it looks the same?
And only scars remain

Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels
I drown it with a drink and out of date prescription pills
And all the ones that love me, they just left me on the shelf, no farewell
So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself

Nancy Mulligan

If you’re listening to this after “Save Myself,” it’s a bit random and out of place. Yet, it fits. Perhaps it’s a cousin to “Galway Girl”?

This was basically Ed telling the love story of his grandparents. The whole thing was a true story, which makes it a thousand times better.

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters

Let me just say, wouldn’t we all want to have a grandson like Ed?

Bibia Be Ye Ye

After the opening lines about losing his shoes and not knowing where he put his keys, I was hooked by how relatable this song sounds, you know?

Someone told me, always say what’s on your mind
And I am only, being honest with you, I I get lonely
And make mistakes from time to time
Se enioma enko ye 
Bibia Be Ye Ye
Bibia Be Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye
Bibia Be Ye Ye

Okay, let’s translate. “Se enioma enko ye” means “if things aren’t working out,” and “bibia be ye ye” means “everything will be alright.” It’s not just a bunch of random cool sounds.

This is another ode to Ed’s year of travels, because it was recorded in Africa.

Barcelona

This song was going to be the first single, but ended up as a bonus track, and I’m not really sure why, because it’s awesome. I mean, not only is it one of Ed’s catchiest songs, but he even speaks spanish in it! He said that he was in Barcelona about to make the video when he got a call that his album wasn’t good enough yet. He said that his managers “know that if you put pressure on me, the songs will come.” At that point, he kept writing, and was happy he did, because he came up with an album he is really proud of.

For the full interview (it’s an hour long; I watched it so you don’t have to, but you do you), see below:

Zane Lowe Divide Interview