My Story Isn't A Romance

My Story Isn't A Romance

A message to women about life, love and adventure.

There's nothing quite like a used book store. There's one in my neighborhood called Tin Can Mailman and it is two floors of narrow hallways, tall bookshelves and endless stories. I noticed a free box outside and sat for a minute giggling at the similarity of all the dramatic embraces on the covers. The whole box was full of discarded Romance novels. Sitting out on the curb on a rainy day, nostalgia of lost love seemed an obvious metaphor. Love and sex are the most googled words. Love songs, movies, books and general romance plots are everywhere. However, Romance is just one genre. It's indulgent and pleasurable to read, but at the end of the book I didn't learn much. Most of the time, I have no desire to read it again or save it in a corner of my room for it's magical insight. I have loved how even many of the new Disney princesses aren't in wild pursuit of marriage. Elsa's main love was with her sister. Merida, from "Brave," worked on repairing her relationship with her mom.

When in the Tin Can Mailman, I rarely enter the cheesy Romance section, but find myself lured into the mountains of knowledge. All of the really transformative books that I've read have been from other genres. Philosophy, travel, history, action, self-help, humor and who knows what else. There are a handful of books that had dramatic impacts on my life, and have probably walked past many that have the capacity to do so as well.

I think it's important that we realize for ourselves and our daughters that Romance is far from the only narrative. I've spent a lot of time reflecting about my own teaching as a female identifying child. The gender norms for women in relationships were especially impactful during my spongey transition from child to adult. I started worrying about fitting into society's definition of a "girl." I was taller than all the boys, and had relatively straight figure. At that time, I really invested emotionally into the whole concept of being someone's "girl." If I could go back and talk to myself in the 5th and 6th grade when my adult gender identity was starting to emerge, I would tell myself not to be defined by those norms. As social creatures, it's only natural that we desire intimacy and connection. That's totally ok! But I want to shout to the women of the world that no relationship innately needs to define their life. Connection and companionship isn't limited by monogamous relationships and value certainly isn't defined by them either.

Just like Princess Merida, my longest love affair has been with my mom. I love my friends. I still miss my first dog. There is a lot of love in my story. Actually, I'll probably fall in love hundreds of times with hundreds of places, people and things. Hopefully, not too many things, but that's beside the point. I want to carry on the pursuit of adventure and fearless play that characterizes so much of childhood and only the best of novels.

I want to invest into relationships, but not invest my worth into relationships. I think it's important to invest into questions like, "What do I want my life's work to reflect?" and "Is what I'm doing now how I want to be defined?" because the best parts of stories aren't the end-all-be-all moments, but the character development over time.

Cover Image Credit: Raleigh LaCombe

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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