Heart Map Series: Mia

I can’t believe we are at the final post of the semester. It has been a great time working with these people and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else. I not only learned so much about the other bloggers, but about myself. As a second semester freshman, I’m definitely the newbie on the team, the rookie, but I think this has allowed me to really explore a ton of topics and not feel caged into a routine. This whole year has really allowed me to be free and find what I truly love. Below, you can see a few things that I have found really make up who I am and what I love.

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Feminism: I have always been for women’s rights, but this last year at Emerson a new fire has burned within me. I am no longer afraid to call someone out for a sexist comment or speak up if I feel as though I am in an uncomfortable/unfair situation. I hold this close to my heart because my whole life I have been surrounded by strong women who broke gender boundaries even though they had so many obstacles in their way. My Mother was told she shouldn’t go to college because “women don’t need education”, but she is attending college and finishing up her degree right now because she realizes it’s something she wants dearly in her life. I hope to aspire to this level of dedication to my dreams and feminism has a huge part in that and in who I am.

Traveling: I have been lucky enough to have parents who could afford to take me on family vacations. I have traveled since before I was a year old and haven’t stopped. It is something that I could never give up in life, traveling is adventure and I couldn’t imagine living a life without adventure.

Minnesota: Half of my family lives in Minnesota and even though I did not grow up there myself, I feel as if it is a second home. It’s where my childhood soul resides. It’s where I rode bikes, played tagged, rode four wheelers, and explored the woods. It’s where I fell in love with the outdoors and I could never let go of that.

Running: Running is literally the only thing that can shut up my constant stream of thoughts. It allows me to just focus on the run and the beauty that surrounds me. I don’t have to think about the paper due that week, how much laundry I have to get done, or the drama I have going on with friends. I can simply focus on my breath and it reminds me that at the end of the day none of that other stuff matters.

Dad: This man is my rock. Through high school, I only lived with him and he helped me through all the ups and downs, all the boy troubles, all the friend drama, all the college apps. Basically, I couldn’t have gotten through it without him and his unconditional support. Even though he is across the country I still view him as my rock. He’s the first one I call when things go array and I don’t ever see that changing.

Writing: To process my emotions I have to write them out. So writing for me isn’t just something that brings me joy, but something I have to do, something that keeps me sane. It is the best form of therapy I could ask for. Nothing brings me more joy than my choice to study it in college. It was one of the first decisions that I purely made for myself. It was not to impress my family or to make money down the line. It was just for me. I really hope it stays that way.

Friends: THESE PEOPLE ARE MY SOULMATES. They are the ones that always have my back. They are the ones who give me unconditional love and support. They know me better than anyone on this earth and I love them for that. They aren’t afraid to tell me I’m wrong or tell me that I’ll regret something down the line. They are the only people I feel as if I have to share every single detail of my day with because it’s simply something they want to know. They are the only people I can sit in silence with and feel truly comfortable with. They are the only people whose sole touch can change my entire mood. They are truly life partners and I can’t see a world without them in it.

Corgis: If there is an animal to sum up who I am, it would be a corgi. They are crazy hyper, filled with joy/love, and sometimes just weird as hell. Those a characteristics that I not only pin for myself, but are constantly pinned by friends, coworkers, classmates, and even strangers.

Coffee: One of my friends ask me how much coffee I drink in a day. I did the math thinking it would be no big deal. But, apparently, it correlates to twice the recommended dose of caffeine the average person is recommended to consume. So, yeah I love coffee.

Food: Food is not just food. It’s a way to connect with people, food holds culture. It can tell you what that person grew up on and it can even tell you that persons’ heritage. I love food, I specifically love Mexican food and that has everything to do with who I am. I am half Mexican and hold that food so close to my heart. This love for Mexican food only grew when I came to the East Coast and left behind my community. I don’t think that is a coincidence. I think it’s a way of me holding onto my culture, trying to keep it burning inside me.

Musicals: As a writer, I inherently love stories and musicals just blow me away. It is hard enough to write a story in prose, so I can’t imagine having to write that story to a catchy beat that is also somehow still achieving a story arch, deep characterization, all while still trying to convey your overall message. It is so impressive and just so darn lovely to watch and listen to.

California: This is where I am from, simple as that. I grew up on the beaches of Southern California, grew up blasting music down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, grew up with the backdrop of so many other people’s dreams. It definitely has it’s downsides, like no amazing season, horrible transportation, and it’s share of snobby beach boys. But, it’s still my first home.

Laughter: If you ever have met me in person you know I laugh a lot. And by a lot, I mean all the time. Practically every sentence. It’s not a dainty laugh either. It’s a laugh that echoes through the room and makes heads turn. It’s loud just like the rest of my personality. But, I love it. It means I’m happy and I personally, that’s my main goal in life. So, as long as I’m laughing I know I’ve reached the top.

Positivity: If you can’t tell by the end of this piece, I’m a pretty positive person. I always try to look on the better side of life because why look at the worse? Being negative just doesn’t motivate me and can ruin my whole day. Being positive pushes me to be the best I can be and makes my day far more productive than it would have been if I just mopped around. This wasn’t always true and of course, I still have negative days, but actively deciding to be positive has changed so much of my life. I have far more good than bad days, I smile way more, and I write way more. I strongly believe that positivity breeds positive outcomes and I’d rather live a life filled with joy than pessimism.

Heart Map Series: Jenn

After working on Atlas Blog all year, I feel absolutely honored to have worked with such an incredible team. Without the fabulous people on the Blog, I doubt I would have poured my heart and soul into each post.

This week, we have all created Heart Maps to give you all an insight into what we all value and love. Here is mine:

A lot of my heart map include parts that I have explored in past blog posts such as stationery, romantic comedies, Emerson College, Boston, food, my family, and dogs. Briefly, I love those topics so much – they are now a part of me even if stationery and food are inanimate objects. My family means the absolute world to me – I chose navy blue as it represents loyalty to me and I take my duty to my family very seriously. For me, I have made sacrifices to be with my family members not because I have to, but because I truly want to. They understand me through and through in a way that no one else can understand. Much like my family, dogs make me incredibly happy – they are cute, funny creatures that carry a super loyal bond to their families. I used metallic teal pen to label the dogs part as it makes that part of the heart regal. And if it wasn’t obvious, food is at the center of my world even if I once had a negative relationship with it.

For the rest of the heart map, I focused on these topics:

  1. Money
  2. Water
  3. The Sun
  4. Fashion
  5. Friends
  6. Music
  7. Comfort

I like to believe that these are my core principles nowadays. Although some of these might sound a bit superficial, there are real things behind each topic.

Money – I do not just want to get paid, I value working and my work ethic. I have been working and employed since the age of fifteen. Since then, I have just been used to working for my own money especially this year. I work 5-6 days a week and make enough money to support myself and to fund my trip to Japan in the summer time.

Water – I love drinking water, being in water and being near the water. I think there is a certain level of clarity and relative calm when you spend time by a body of water. Although that might be hard to find in the city, I have always felt my best by the water just because I seem to be the healthiest and calm when I get that interaction. Also, I get thirsty a lot and water is great.

The Sun – I am deficient in Vitamin D so I need as much sunlight as I can get. For me, the sun represents happiness and even if I hate sweating, I always feel best when the sun is high and shining. I think it makes everyone happy!

Fashion – I like shopping. I guess it’s a known fact but I like to see how everyone has a different sense of style. Being around people who are not afraid to show their personalities through clothing has always been an important factor for me. Even if I tend to have a pretty simplistic style, I like getting inspiration from those around me. And it has always been a dream of mine to go to New York Fashion Week – to watch the shows, take part of all of the promotional events, and to see the ins and outs of the one of the most important weeks in the Fashion world.

Friends – ugh, I love these people. I am someone who values close friendships and relationships. I like having closeness to my friends and having people to hang out with who lift me up, empower me to do better, and to make me laugh until I cry. I included the initials, ML, for my best friend Meagan — she’s the best and I adore her! (I would add more but let me not be extra)

Music – I like singing and dancing along. I really enjoy having music in my life because it lifts me up. I truly believe a good song has the power to change your entire day and to sum up how you feel on a certain day. Also, I think that a song can tell a story in a format that will change a narrative, a stereotype, a idea, and ultimately, the world.

Comfort – I LOVE MY BED AND MY COUCH. I think that being comfortable is a very important thing – if you are not comfortable with your surroundings, you will not be able to find a safe space for yourself.

I loved working on this heart map and loved my team even more! ❤


Challenging the Literary Canon

After years of being assigned books to read for school, have you ever wondered why the same authors find their way onto every English teacher’s syllabus? I can still remember most of the books I was assigned in high school, throughout my years of Honors and AP English classes. As a freshman, I can recall reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My sophomore English syllabus emphasized Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Victor Hugo. Junior year was my AP Language course, which consisted primarily of analyzing speeches from great men of times past, such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

All of the works I have mentioned so far were authored by white men. I can only remember women and/or non-white authors being a significant part of my class curriculum during my senior year. That year, we were treated to an entire unit on Toni Morrison. Song of Solomon by Morrison was even our summer reading assignment. Later in the fall, we were tasked with writing a research paper on Morrison and her writing. But, it’s tragic that Morrison is one of the only black writers I can remember being taught in high-school. Why should a school English curriculum only emphasize one type of author? White, male, straight, cisgender — why is that considered the story worth reading?

When somebody mentions the literary canon, they are referring to the set of authors or works seen as the epitome of greatness. The books you are exposed to in middle and high school typically belong to this canon. That canon overwhelmingly features authors from those categories I already mentioned. This is how we all end up reading and reminiscing over the same “sacred” works. That isn’t to say, though, that there isn’t value in reading Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare. It’s just that we need to make an effort to allow other voices to be heard too.

Race, gender and sexuality are three areas where this diversity is most lacking. As already mentioned, most famed authors are white, straight, cisgender men. Writers who don’t fall into those categories rarely garner that same recognition, yet representation in literature and the arts is incredibly important for marginalized groups. It is important then that as consumers of media we make room for those marginalized voices.

Undergraduate Students for Publishing, a student organization at Emerson, recently hosted a speaker series titled Decolonize the Canon. As its name suggests, speakers at the event spoke about challenging the lack of diversity in the accepted literary and art canons — not only in regards to what artists receive recognition, but as well as what stories they are allowed to tell. Different ideas were discussed, including the importance of challenging what is perceived to be art and the importance of representation in literature. 

Knowing that the accepted canon typically only features certain authors of certain backgrounds, it is necessary to challenge that canon. Engage with the works of authors of diverse backgrounds and experiences and encourage a more inclusive literary canon. As readers, that’s the least we can do.

My Boston Favorites

I always talk about Boston – I literally never shut up about it.

My soul is full of pride to know that I grew up in this incredible city. And after watching the Marathon from the finish line this weekend, my heart has just burst from happiness, love, and pride. Although it is normal to love the place you grew up, I know that my love and pride surpasses that normal capacity.

And as I am turning 2o this summer, I have put together a list of my all-time favorites within the city of Boston. For the most part, I am a HUGE foodie which is the reason why a lot of my favorites are restaurants. Along with food, I love shopping and large hang-out places which makes my list a combination of hidden places and well-known parts of the city. The way I went about making my list is by creating a quirky, lil’ map through Google to actually pinpoint the places I am talking about AND to make it easier for you all to figure out where they all are if you decide to try them out for yourselves!


To go through this map properly, I color-coded all of the places! And to do it in an extremely organized fashion, I will go through each place by the order of colors in the rainbow.

#1. YELLOW – Bova’s Bakery

I have always been a sucker for a good cookie. I grew up with one of the strongest sweet-tooth within my family aside from my dad. Although I have never visited Bova’s until I got to Emerson, I absolutely fell in love with the bakery. The best part about Bova’s is that it is open 24 hours and is family-owned which makes customers feel especially welcomed. My favorite thing from Bova’s would be their chocolate chip cannoli’s. That piece of deliciousness makes me melt and cry every single time!

#2. BROWN – Faneuil Hall Meeting House

It’s a huge tradition at my high school to hold graduation at the Faneuil Hall Meeting House. From the moment I was fourteen years old, some of the most important moments of my teenage life have happened in that historic place. And one of my favorites has to be graduating – I remember walking down the aisle, crossing the stage, and dancing down the stairs with my diploma in hand. Plus, it is a gorgeous location with the painted ceiling, the huge chandelier, and the stage. The meeting house almost represents a second home to me and I love it!

#3. ORANGE – Eataly

Located in the Prudential mall, Eataly is an Italian dining and shopping emporium. Eataly has everything under the sun: pasta, meat, snacks, fruit, cheese, desserts, restaurants, pizza, seafood, literally EVERYTHING. My obsession with Eataly holds no bounds – I love olive oil, I love pasta, I love cheese, I love fruit, I love gelato, I love bread, and I can get the best of ALL of my worlds in that one special Italian marketplace. I wholeheartedly believe that Eataly is an unique dining and shopping opportunity for anyone who wants to try and learn more about Italian cuisine. My favorite thing to get is a Chicken Panini, a.k.a their Rotisserie Chicken sandwich, which is smothered with olive oil in a beautiful piece of bread.


I am obsessed with stationery: pens, notebooks, folders, highlighters, binders, notecards, sticky notes, planners. After learning that MUJI was opening a store in Boston, I almost lost my cool. I remember going there with my sister in NYC and absolutely falling in love with their merchandise. Aside from stationery, they also have simple living essentials ranging from luggage to skincare to furniture. I really love their stationery products and they are incredible! I am never disappointed whenever I go to MUJI.

#5. MAGENTA – Children’s Wharf 

I spent a lot of time at the Children’s Museum when I was younger. And to this day, my favorite part of the museum is definitely the wharf park. I remember spending long summer days running around the boardwalk, begging my mom for ice cream from the Hood booth, and looking over the water at the seagulls. Much like the past, I still feel like a kid whenever I visit the museum and the boardwalk – the feeling will never escape me. If you have the chance to visit the museum and the wharf, I wholeheartedly recommend it! And now, they have 21+ Friday nights!

#6. BLUE – Charles River

Although the Charles is a bit disgusting, I still love it. When you live in a city, you will take a body of water and embrace it. For me, I grew up with the constant sight of the Charles. Whenever my family came into the city, we would drive down Storrow Drive and I would look out the window to see the glistening water of the river. I just think it makes Boston complete – without the Charles, I feel like we would be less of a city or that there would be something missing. Plus, the river runs throughout the state even in the parts of the city I live in!

#7. DARK GREEN – Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop

For me, this bake shop is a hidden gem. They are located near Mass. Ave and they have an incredible orange juice. Although most of their merchandise is dedicated to their baking and cakes, there is something so special about this bake shop. I think it has to do with the fact that they put so much love and passion into everything they make and sell!

I hope that you found these places interesting! I love everything having to do with the city of Boston and can only imagine what this list will be a couple of years from now!

The Importance of being Alone

Alone time. It’s a strange concept where we, naturally social creatures, take time for ourselves. This isn’t constricted to just sitting in your room watching Netflix, it can be anything! Of course, fill it with Netflix binges if you want but some might fill it with running, others with a much needed nap. Personally, I have always struggled with this concept. I struggled to the point that when I was alone I would panic as if I were doing something wrong. As if there had to be something I needed to do or someone I needed to see. It took me till this semester to realize the true glory of alone time.

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Japan: My Perspective

I have never been to Japan.

I know, I bet you have not been there either. However, there is a reason why that sentence is so important: I am half Japanese and have never been to the country that half of my body, my soul, my literal blood belongs to. Going to Japan is almost like a milestone in my family – if you go, you are a true member of the family. And as of April 10th, I am officially going to Japan this summer from August 17th to September 3rd.

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