A Summer in Ann Arbor

Now that it’s four weeks into the new school year, I can’t help but reflect on how my experiences over the summer have shaped the current year. During break, I had the opportunity to stay in Ann Arbor, where I worked and took two classes. One of my jobs was through UM Housing, which provided room and board. My other job was a position as an RC peer advisor, which entailed helping incoming students in LSA’s Residential College program pick their classes during orientation.

During my free time, there were a plethora of wonderful things to do. Campus was breathtakingly beautiful throughout the spring and summer, with flowers in full bloom and an overall more relaxed environment. I went to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market/food truck rallies, enjoyed nights at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park series, and made frequent trips to the Ann Arbor District Downtown Library (while participating in their Summer Game program, where you can explore A2 places, log your reading, etc. for real-life prizes). Additionally, I witnessed the gradual bloom of peonies at the Nichols Arboretum, experienced a green tea tea tasting at TeaHaus, and went down a water slide at the Fuller Park outdoor pool. 

Now for the artsy part of this blog post. When looking online for things to do in Ann Arbor, there was one thing I consistently came across: the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Nearby friends and family detailed it as something I had to check out. In the days leading up to it, I was prepared to feel squished among the enormous crowds that flock to downtown Ann Arbor for the event. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was the stormy weather. There were moments when artists struggled to hold down tents as rain and gusty winds came out of nowhere. It was heartbreaking to see the artists’ work knocked over and people scrambling for cover; I can only imagine the damage done to both attendance and physical pieces of art due to the inclement weather.

Nonetheless, it was very cool to see four independent fairs – each featuring incredible art – simultaneously occur to form one huge event. I was thoroughly impressed by the quality, beauty, and diversity of all of the art being presented.  Live music, interesting food, and good friends contributed to a positive experience.

Overall, summer was the perfect opportunity to explore some of the many amazing activities, shops, and history that Ann Arbor has to offer. The knowledge gained regarding Ann Arbor’s restaurants, bus system, and more have positively translated into feeling more comfortable and at home throughout the current school year. 


The Soundtrack of My Summer

Do you ever hear a song come on the radio and suddenly you’re taken back in time to when you first heard it? You might have liked it so much that you played it on repeat for the next week, until you got sick of it and never played it again. Then you hear it on the radio and you fall in love all over again, but this time it’s even better, because you remember how great it was listening to it the first time, and it’s associated with a different time in life, where things might have been better or worse, but all you cared about was that one song. I experience this all the time, partially because I overplay things, but also because I’m constantly listening to new music. It’s a great feeling to rediscover a classic, and briefly but vividly remember an amazing moment from years ago. This effect also makes me more conscious about the music I listen to in the present, because I know that the music I listen to now will define my nostalgia in the future. Basically, an over-complicated way of saying that I like to relate certain songs or albums to certain times in my life. This last summer I struggled to find interesting or new music; not that there wasn’t a lot, just hardly anything that I wanted to put on repeat. However, two albums gradually rose to prominence and inevitably became the soundtracks of my summer: “Igor” by Tyler, the Creator and “Relaxer” by Alt-j.

“Igor” came out at the beginning of summer and I listened through it in its entirety the night it was released. It was a memorable project with an amazing atmosphere, unique aesthetic, and bass-heavy rhythms, but I didn’t see much replay value in it at first. It was like reading a book: the first time the story is great and the plot is constantly surprising, but attempting to read it again is daunting and pointless. However, faced with no alternative albums that peaked my interest, I resorted to picking out some of the catchiest, most interesting tracks and started listening to them daily (it was better than nothing, and I can’t live without music). Songs such as “EARFQUAKE”, “WHATS GOOD”, and “NEW MAGIC WAND” became favorites, mainly for their experimental vibes and driving bass lines. Overall the album isn’t bad, but the pitched vocals and gritty aesthetic get old fast, and I was more a fan of his aggressive and dark style on older albums.

The second album I overplayed was “Relaxer” by indie/alternative band alt-j. This album is true to its name, consisting of mostly rhythmic, gentle, and natural songs that feature a lot of acoustic instruments and samples. Only 8 songs long, there isn’t a lot to the album (especially since I can barely stand one of them), but the best ones truly shine, namely “3WW”, “In Cold Blood”, “Adeline”, and “Last Year”. This is an album for long car rides or adventures into the woods; it has a spirit of wandering and mystery that yields endless replay value, as both foreground and background music. It also served as a great contrast to the heavily produced and experimental Igor, meaning I could alternate the two albums and neither of them would get old. The two albums make an unlikely pair, but they complement each other in such a way that helps me appreciate the styles of each. Regardless, these songs came to define my summer: I played them on camping trips, beach trips, long drives, before work, and pretty much any other time I could play music.  Even though they aren’t my favorite albums ever, I can’t wait for that feeling, years later, when one shuffles into my playlist and I can briefly relive the summer of ’19, if only for a few minutes of nostalgia.


I’ll just send in an application…

I know I’m not the only University of Michigan student stressing out about their summer plans right now.

The summer is an important time for a musician because it provides free hours in the day for one thing: PRACTICING– well, for some people. I do my best to try to avoid practicing for long periods of time. That’s a story for another day. I’m looking at a few different options for my summer but I keep going back and forth on one idea, so I thought I would write about it this week.

I have never been a camp counselor. I understand it’s like some sort of rite-of-passage thing for college students but I feel late to the game. I’m going to be starting my senior year in the fall. I feel like by now, being a camp counselor should be a “been there, done that” situation for me. The truth is that college has actually gone by very quickly and I didn’t fully realize how much I was supposed to accomplish by now… again, a story for another day.

When I was in high school, I went to lots of different string camps and orchestra festivals during the summer. All of these summer camps had such rigorous schedules of rehearsals and supervised practice time that progress was inevitable, and succeeding with my instrument provided more motivation for me to work harder. In true summer camp form, there were also cabins, counselors, and camp traditions. I wore a uniform of navy pants and a light blue polos when I went to Interlochen for two years. On Sundays I had to wear white polos or a counselor would send me back to my cabin to change. We all had a love/hate relationship with the counselors. Most of them were college girls and their personalities ranged from cool to power hungry. I felt like too many took pride over being able to control us, but I had one or two that were kind of like second mothers to me and my cabin mates during our six week stay away from home.

Maybe I would be a good counselor. I feel like I do well with high schoolers and kids. Since I went to the camp myself, I would be able to help them enjoy camp in all the ways that I did, as well as encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities I didn’t pay attention to. I would be able to revisit a place that changed my life: where I discovered that I loved music and wanted to pursue it for a career.

But maybe going back to Interlochen to be a counselor would ruin the magic for me. The nostalgia might be too painful being in a place I loved without my friends. Maybe I would be jealous watching the campers go to orchestra rehearsal. It could replace my old memories of a place where I thought I was the best version of myself. But also, I need money, and it wouldn’t hurt to have the experience. I’ll send in an application and think about the hard stuff later.


With summer only two weeks away, there are so many things to think about.  Will you go back home? Where will you find a job/internship? And most importantly: What snacks will you eat?!  A new and fun trend is to eat fun, colorful, and healthy popsicles. Here is a list of some to try out this summer.

You can make a popsicle with just about anything.  A yogurt, granola, and honey popsicle is great for a hot morning or just a snack.  You can also add fruit to it, whatever you like in your yogurt. This is a great recipe that has a little crunch to it.  A pineapple pink lemonade popsicle is made with only pineapple

chunks, pink lemonade mix, and water. It’s a refreshing twist on lemonade for the hot summer.  A creative popsicle is a chai tea ice cream pop. This popsicle has an ombre look and the flavor of chai tea. It’s a great tea substitute for the hot summer days.  Rhubarb and elderflower ice popsicles are a different and fun popsicle to try. It is very easy to make with only having to use fruit and natural fruit juices. It is also a very pretty popsicle, if you add food coloring to make a very pretty shade of pink.  A fun, but not so healthy popsicle, is a chocolate popsicle. This can easily be made by freezing chocolate pudding. It’s great for a sweet treat during the hot summer months. Another frozen sweet treat is a chocolate covered peanut butter popsicle. It is exactly what it sounds like, and another great thing to eat when you need something sweet.  A different popsicle to try is a jello popsicle. This is very simple, you make jello and then put in the freezer. It is a fun and different way to eat your jello this summer.

Fruit popsicles are also very popular this summer.  A grapefruit popsicle is a refreshing and healthy popsicle to try this summer.  It is made with just grapefruit juice, lemonade, and a slice of grapefruit. This recipe is pretty to look at and tastes great.  Another fruity popsicle is a hibiscus and minty watermelon popsicle. This sounds very fancy, and very delicious. This is also a healthy popsicle to try.  Raspberry-mango popsicles are pretty to look at and a great combo of fruit. They are made with only raspberries, mangos, coconut milk, and honey. Peaches and cream is another great recipe for the summer.  Peaches and cream are abundant in the summertime so it’s fitting to put them in a popsicle together. A simpler popsicle is a strawberry popsicle. This is great to cool off with, and to make it a little more exciting you can dip the end in chocolate and put it back in the freezer.  Now you have frozen chocolate covered strawberries.

Anything I can do, you can do better

*sniff sniff*

This is my last official post for a while.  The school year is ending and I’ll be abroad next Fall in fabulous New Zealand.  I’ll try to send you guys updates on the foreign art scene once in awhile. I’m going to miss writing for arts,ink.  It’s a great job that has encouraged me to explore such fabulous things throughout the year.

I’m hoping to spend this summer not actually looking for new art, but creating it.  My muse has sadly been chained to a chair in horrendously orange corner of my mind for most of the school year to give me a chance to actually get my assignments done, but come Tuesday her constraints will rust and she’ll be able to burst free from prison (with more grace than Superman could ever muster).  I’m expecting to spend good portions of next week sitting in a corner of the Espresso on State St and just write.  I managed to spit out 50K words in Nov and am aiming to write at least 75K this summer.  (I could try my November pace, but my muse was so tired she actually willing donned those chains and has yet to return to that still as yet unfinished story)

I also am hoping to do at least one photo shoot and spend an hour a day on a mural I’ve wanted to get started on ever since last year.  Who knows if I’ll succeed (most of my New Years resolutions have gone up in smoke) but I’m willing to try and make this a productive summer.  I mean, playing Frisbee and going to Ben and Jerry’s almost every day is a great summer plan, but what will you have to show for it at the end?  100+ pictures, all so similar that your entire summer could fit on a single page in a scrapbook?  Trust me, having a completed work of art work will make you feel much for accomplished.

Thus I challenge you to create something this summer.  It can be a single poem, it can be a collage of leaves from every town you visit, or maybe you just produce a sketch book full of doodles.  Either way, I want to hear about it.  And look on the bright side, you get to actually cheat and do some of the work come the Fall semester cuz I won’t be here to know any better ^_~

So far well (for now).  May you have a great summer full of good times and good art.  I’m curious to see what you all create.

Your muse chainer,