The Cincinnati Quilt Project

Click on a section of the quilt below to read about the
person who helped stitch it. 

Broken Dishes

Broken dishes is one of the most common, earliest recorded designs in quilting history. This interpretation contains four sections of the pattern, and is a more complex example of this block.

Em Meurer

Death Scholar

I thought it was appropriate to give this more challenging block to an artist like Em, who is already experiences with quilting techniques. Em has researched death and grief extensively, and has attended cremation certification. We discussed death, grief, school, self-care, and growing up in our interview.
CW: death, grief, mental illness

So now that we're getting started, why don't you just start by saying your name, your pronouns, and why you think you're participating in this project?

I'm, Em I use, she/her pronouns. I don't know why. You just reached out to me via email. I assume it's because you follow me on Twitter cause you mentioned that earlier. Yeah, I don't know. Why did you reach out to me? I want to know now.

So I do research for school or whatever and I usually end up following whoever is in a graduating class who I think is sick. I think that I followed you and Anissa and a bunch of other people who left DAAP. I figured 'Oh, I'll get started on Instagram' and then eventually I got your Twitter and I was like, yeah, this girl's pretty cool. She does all sorts of things and I just like the honesty that you have on all your platforms. You're not just pigeonholing yourself into one thing. You talk about your work, you talk about your job, you talk about your personal life and stuff. And I just think you do it all in a really graceful way.

Aw. Thank you. I should tell my mom that because she told me the other day that she thinks I overshare and she was like, 'I'm really worried'.

Okay, what's the alternative? Like then nobody gets those stories. Right?

Yeah. And then I was like, well, I don't have money to pay for therapy, mother. This is the best thing. Also it's like my job right now to be on social media, um, which is like fine. It's whatever.

You don't sound like you love that.

Not... I don't know. I had like a hard realization the other day that like social media is so much more fake.

Do you think so?

So what I'm doing right now, in my career, is social media marketing for brands where we hire influencers to do things. And it's very, um, like how can we pay somebody to sell something with their content and then using that. It's fine. Like I don't know, maybe someday I'll evolve from dinosaur facts and selling yogurt on Instagram or something, but who knows? I dunno. I feel like I am at the point where I tried to separate what is work and what outside of work and using social media has become work for me. So using it in a more personal way is how I still enjoy it. If that makes sense.

That does make sense. So your mom says that you overshare on your Twitter account?

She doesn't follow me on Twitter. She follows me on Instagram. When everyone was doing those 'which whatever are you' filter she was like, 'Em people are seeing too much of your life.'

In what way?

No idea. I was like, 'okay, thanks mom. Cool.' I think it's more of a, 'my family follows you on Instagram and I don't like you doing these weird, nasty pics of you with from under your chin'.

They comment on it and it's embarrassing for whoever? Yeah.

At the same time though, I'm like everyone that I care about that I like who would see that would think it's funny. So it doesn't matter to me.

No. Because if anyone sees that and doesn't think it's funny, you probably don't give a shit.


Yeah, that makes sense. So will you tell me a little bit about, um, why you talk about death so much?

Yeah. So I started doing my thesis. Um... let me preface this. When I get interested in something I go very hard. I was thinking about my thesis like for a solid year before I had to do anything about it. So I had this weird, realization moment when I was reading this woman's memoir that like, 'Oh no, we're all gonna die.' But in a way, it was very freeing to me, so I was like, 'okay, this is going on the back burner.' Like I'm just going to be thinking about this constantly but not in any important way. But then when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for my capstone, I kept coming back to this idea of this is the universal experience sort of thing. And there are so many ways that it isn't being supported like it needs to be. With capstone, everyone tries to solve like a big universal problem. And I was like, 'this is my way of doing that'. And it became one of those things where I felt like it was the thing I was meant to be doing in a big, like....

Like in a 23 year old, 'I'm meant to be doing something way'.

Yeah. And also in one of those 'this is what I was born to do, stupid ways'. But the more that I got into it and researched it, the more I was like, 'yeah, this is something I could like reasonably make an impact on someone with'. That being said, I am not saying that I'm not afraid of dying or not impacted when somebody dies or whatever. Like my best friend's dad died last night and it's been hitting me really, really hard even though I didn't know him super well. I care about my friend and in that way I am also grieving this loss a lot.


I dunno, I think it's neat in a way. A lot of people are very morbidly curious. So yes, well I am getting a weird Instagram clout or Twitter clout for it I think it helps people in a way to recognize. But this is something that is universally experienced.

Have you been able to talk to people who were calmed or felt better because of some of the work you've done?

I had a lot of people come up to me who are like, 'wow, I loved your thesis read the whole thing'. At the time of when DAAP works was happening, there were a couple people that I was friends with who were going through loss and they were like, 'yeah, this is really resonating with me in a way. It's how I feel and I wish that people knew this about me'. And I've been on job interviews already so far where the person interviewing me would be like, 'Hey, I read your thesis because it was linked on your website and then this happened and it's been really helping me or whatever. Like I just stumbled upon this and it helped'. On a personal level, I definitely think that I'm way more empathetic. Which is good. I guess just overall. I am a lot more patient with myself when I'm feeling big, bad feelings. Still, as much as you put time into learning about the ways to support grief, it's something that needs to be practiced for you to get better at it. There's still a sense of helplessness. I don't know what to do when this is awkward and weird. But I think it's just being patient with yourself and not looking away is really important.

So if someone were to come up to you and say, 'Hey, Em like a friend of mine just died. I really don't know where to start'. What would you tell them?

I feel like a lot of people come up to me to tell me like, 'somebody I know's grandma died, what do I do?' But when it's somebody who I know that's grieving,


What do you mean by that one?

Like, sometimes when people are maybe sick for a long time before they die, some people feel like there's something wrong with them if they feel a sense of relief or if they feel glad that this person's not in pain anymore. And they think this is insane that I feel this way. I'm a bad person for feeling this way. And they get guilty about their own emotions within grief. I think while guilt and anger and sadness and whatever are all a part of grief, it's okay to remember that there's no exact 'here is what grief is'. It's different for everyone. So I think just being able to redefine grief for people who are grieving or see somebody else grieving is really the first step. It's kind of like when you're going into alcoholics anonymous or whatever and it's like 'recognizing the problem is the first step'.


Do you find that people will sometimes miss identify their grief as other emotions? I guess what do you mean by recognizing this is grief?

So I had this conversation with one of my friends who kind of mentored me through doing my actual thesis and she is a thanatologist, so somebody who studies grief, and something that she points out is that there are constant little deaths happening in your life. It's called disenfranchised grief by a lot of people, but it's little losses in your life that, while they're not as big as a death, or as recognized as a death, are just as impactful to you as one. That can be losing your job or your pet dying or things that we think of as loss or a part of your life ending. Like graduating from college is a huge loss and it's not really recognized as something that you can grieve. Recognizing that you have permission to feel whatever way you want to feel about whatever made you feel that way. I forgot the question that we started with.

That's all right.

Just recognizing that you aren't going crazy is a big thing. I feel like something that I said to myself a lot is 'you aren't going crazy. Something crazy is happening and you're reacting to it and that's normal'.

That's a really good way to put that.

And also I think that being able to step back and know that I feel like my life would be different if I had known all of this when I was grieving losses, like big losses in my life. So like I think that knowing it now has made me a better human to other people.

So you can give them those tools when they're at those points.

Or just knowing how to be more empathetic and patient. Just general skills to being a better friend to someone. I think because death is something that we all experience at some point and it's going to happen to all of us at some point, which is kind of wild. I think that it's one of those big teachable moments or whatever, that you learn these life skills to support it and then they will come into play in other ways.

That makes a lot of sense. Do you think that doing this research and studying all of this has made you a better friend?

I honestly think so. I feel like I'm more willing to listen. I don't immediately jump to start fixing things. I don't interrupt people when they're talking as much. I try not to. I think that it made me a better listener and better at thinking about what I'm saying before I say it. I feel like there are just a lot of little things in my relationships with people that I care about that have changed in a way. I think it's made me a better person and I'm still working on it and I'm still working on being a supportive friend and whatever.

Well I hope none of us ever maxes that out or stops. Like 'I'm a good friend now. Done with that skill. That's it'.

Yeah. I like to think of myself as a good friend. I feel like I doubt it less now because I'm not like 'Oh, does this person secretly hate me?' Like that sort of thing. I feel like I have a lot less weird anxieties about little things in my relationships now. I also think that I'm just a happier person. I don't know what point exactly I realized that while I was working on this. But one of my professors was like, 'Em you're the least goth person I've ever met and you're doing the most goth capstone'.

Yeah. You don't strike me as somebody who wants to learn about death all day long. You don't look like it.

I think that's why a lot of people were like, 'what the fuck?' when they meet me. I don't know, I think it's made me kind of a happy person. I was a happy person before I started working on this. But I feel like I'm more recognizably like 'I like my life and I like my friends and I like what I'm doing'. I feel like I recognize more what I love about my own life and it makes me happier.

That's wonderful. It wasn't like that before?

I don't know. I have had depression since middle school and I think there are definitely days that are harder than others. Around the same time that I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my thesis is when I finally started getting help for it. Which 10 out of 10, like one of the best decisions in my life- getting help. I feel like there's a lot of things that I recognize 'wow, I'm very lucky that I'm not actively grieving right now'. And I'm very lucky that I don't feel anxiety about my existence. I think just finding something that I was able to find genuine joy in learning about was huge for me. I love doing research. I was told to stop researching my thesis cause I had too much of that happening. But I genuinely loved learning about it and still love learning about it. So 10 out of 10 would do my capstone again, honestly.

That's really great. Do you think that speaks to your whole experience in art school?


Do you wanna talk about that?

Uh, yeah. I feel like I had that very typical thing of like, 'learn from your mistakes'. I made a lot of them in terms of not sleeping and not listening to feedback at the very beginning. And I also became really good friends with a lot of people in my program. So by the end of it, it was like 'all of the critiques that I'm giving you are from the bottom of my heart (even if they sound mean) it's me trying to make you do better and trying to help you'.

So you think that's the way that you responded to art school?

I think that I went very, very hard in high school on everything. Pulled an all nighter week every year in high school. I still really regret that. I was so stressed all the time. Then going to college I was still trying to go that hard and I definitely did first semester. Then after that I burned out so fast.

Really. What did that look like?

I was still incredibly depressed but I was isolating myself when I wasn't in studio and I didn't enjoy any of the projects I was doing. I had a very hard time. I feel like the second semester with certain things like typography I just had a bad professor. I was like, ' oh well, I don't have to do well in this class because the professor isn't teaching me'. I still went very hard and if I didn't get an A, I was failing. But, I feel like I just had a bad work ethic and... it wasn't great. And then after my first co-op I was like, 'Oh, I get it. Yeah, now I have goals', but I was just super aimless for a really long, time and I got really involved after that. I got very involved after that with DAAP tribunal and I joined APX, and tried to go to events and stuff because I realized that when I was busy I was more productive. I like going to bed at the end of the day being exhausted and having used my brain a lot. So having commitments really helped me but also it made me have almost a forced community of friends cause I like going to events and being involved. I definitely have a personality type where I'm kind of a control freak. I'm not super anal about things, but I like being in charge and I kind of default to being in charge if no one else steps up. So being involved on campus, let me do that. I think that I got better at time management for sure. I feel like I saw a lot of people in years below me struggling with things and I was like, 'I don't want them to struggle with the things that I struggled with or I don't want them to fall into this pit of 'number of all nighters equals success' or whatever'. That so often happens in DAAP.

I think that's very true. Where do you think that comes from?

I have no idea. I have no idea. I think that there are professors that encourage it. I could go on about that and I have gone on about that with members of the administration. If I have a problem that is solvable by someone, I'm going to tell them.

That's great. That's so realistic.

This is so stupid. Like at work right now we were having a lot of issues with our boss who got promoted and now she's our project manager or whatever and she's just okay at it. She's very nice and I think she just doesn't really know what she's doing. But everyone was bitching about it and I was like, 'all right, tell me more'. And I had a Google doc open and had a meeting with her this morning. Like, 'Hey, let's talk about this. Are you stressed? I'm a little stressed'. I like fixing things and I'm trying not to constantly be jumping on to fix things and just kind of let them go.

You said a little bit about how being a good friend can be not always trying to fix things.

Yeah. I like to use the word actionable a lot. I think there are actionable steps you can take to making things better, but I think that trying to fix everything is not helpful.

That makes sense.

Yeah. I think it's something that I've had to learn and understand and still have to remind myself.

Can that be frustrating?

Yes. Yeah. Oh yeah.


And I was like, ‘Oh, so many things are like that. Wow'.

And I really liked what you said about it not being linear too.

Yeah. It's definitely not. Everyone's like 'but the five stages of grief'. I read the book that that's from, and it never says that. It's a misconception. The book is actually not even about grief, really. It's about how people who received terminal medical diagnoses come to terms and cope with the understanding that they will die and they will die very soon.

Sooner than expect.

Sooner than they expected. Yeah. And it's a pretty good book. It's very eighties- er no, it came out in 69. (Nice.) That's how I remember it. It's very of the time. When you read it, you're like, 'Oh, this is an old book'. But I think that it's kind of a nice thing too. It's like one of those inspiration porn kind of books where you go 'let's look at the wisdom of these people who are dying'. Cause that's absolutely what it is. But it's also written by a psychologist who was working with these people and what she learned from that. It's very broadly categorized. So when somebody says 'the five stages of grief', I'm like, no, those are five categories of emotions that you can feel when you're grieving.

Really. So the author never even outlined this kind of trajectory?

Yeah. And in later additions of the book, she writes like, 'Hey, this was promoted bad. There's this misconception'. A good chunk of her career after that was trying to undo this accidental, interpretation of her work. It's so wild to me. I think it's really important to remind people that that's a misconception. There's so much that we think we know about grief, from just living life, but that's not really the case. Even reading materials that came out five years ago are completely different than what we think of now. Death care is changing drastically, before our eyes. I think it's kind of our responsibility as design thinkers to think about the end result, like with any project. But I think we can equally apply that to end of life and how we deal with it.

Do you know what you want done at the end of your life?

I do. I want to donate my body to science. Probably. I have to do more research as to who I am donating it to because that is unregulated. Which is wild. Ideally though, if it is legal, I would like to do re composition, which is currently only legal in Washington state. Today it got proposed in the California house though, which I'm very excited about. It is basically when you compost a body completely and the family receives potting soil essentially. It's this process that they're rethinking the way that the facilities are built for it and all of these elements surrounding it now that it's becoming a real thing. But yeah, I think that in death I want to uphold the same ideals that I have in my life. I am very mindful of how wasteful I am. And it's one of those things where, when I go to the store, I'm like, 'but the packaging!' So choosing a death care option for myself that isn't wasteful. I don't want to be embalmed. Whatever I do, unless whoever I donate my body to is a medical school, then I guess I have to do that. I can outline what I want done as much as I want, but it really comes down to whoever is my next of kin when I die. So I'm trying to have this conversation with my parents and they're like, 'this is so morbid'.

Your parents don't want to talk to you about it?

Not really. The other day they were like, 'here's where our will is'. I think that they have expressed that they want to be buried and I assume that means being embalmed as well. But I don't know. There is a green burial ground in Cincinnati now though, and I'm very excited about it. You can't be embalmed to be buried there. It's like a nature preserve. It's very exciting for me.

So it really sounds like dwelling on all these things and thinking about death basically every day for two semesters or however long that has made you feel like a more comfortable person.

Yeah, I think so.

Do you think that's true for most people who think about death all the time?

I have no idea. Honestly. I like would like to know outside of the people that I've talked to, but all of the people that I've talked to that work within death care are some of the nicest, happiest people I've ever met in my life. It is so wild. Genuinely such wonderful and amazing people human beings. They're also the most willing to talk to you, like I just reached out to this person on Instagram that I followed like, 'Hey, I'm thinking about doing this for my capstone'. And like she was like, 'let's hang out'. And now I dog sit for her. All of these people are so delightful. When I got my crematory license everyone was like, 'wow, that's going to suck. You're going to hate it. It's going to be the worst day of your life'. Honestly it kinda sucked being in a classroom for six hours and just watching an old man present a PowerPoint. But it was also the funniest classroom experience I've ever had. Jokes left and right. I remembered everything I needed to remember for the test at the end because he made a joke. There were a lot of younger people in it and they were goofing around and everyone was just having a really great time. I think that there's this notion that everyone who is in death care is very morbid and, yeah, a lot of them were very goth. But they were all such wonderful people and were there for different reasons. Like there were people there who this is their family business and they were the next person to do this. But there were also people who were like, 'I love whatever thing'. Like there was this girl that I'm still pretty good friends with from it who was like, 'I love skeletons at the museum and I want to learn more about that'. And that's why she got into it.

That's so cool.

I think as a career path, it's something that a lot of people don't want to do because in some ways being in death care, is a very blue collar job and people are afraid of that. But people are always going to be dying. If you want a trade type job that you need to go to school for it- whether that's taking this six hour class or getting your 2 year funeral director degree it's like a very affordable choice with a hands on educational experience.

Would you ever consider getting into that?

I actually thought about it. In high school in my anatomy class we went to the morgue. Which was a time. The Cincinnati college of mortuary sciences is across the street from St. X. So that's where I got my crematory license. Somebody that I went to high school with's' dad worked there and he was like, yeah, come on, come to our morgue'. So like 30 teenage girls went to the more together. It was like a lightly scarring experience where we were all like, 'this is going to be fun'. And then we were all like, 'no, that's actually a human body'. Yeah, I'm comfortable with the idea of death but still being around dead people is weird and freaky to me.

So you're still very conscious of that?

Yeah. But I don't know, a lot of people that go to mortuary school do it because they aren't freaked out by that. And a lot of them that I've talked to have actually expressed like they feel like this is the role that they're supposed to play because they're not afraid of this and they're doing this for. the greater good.

That's an interesting perspective to have on it.

Yeah. I would say half of them are like, 'I need a job and I'm going to school and whatever'. And then half of them are like, 'this is like my calling or whatever'. I really have enjoyed talking to people in the death care space. [iron starts freaking out and we fix it].

So sometimes it is just, 'Hey, people are dying every day. I could make some make a living off this'. And then sometimes it is just a calling.

This all kind of started cause I read this woman's memoir who couldn't find a job during the financial crisis or whatever. So she started working at a crematory while looking for other jobs and then became very involved in the whole world of death care. And now she's the most recognized mortician. She is a controversial figure the death care world.

What makes her controversial?

I didn't know that she was controversial until I started meeting with death care professionals. But she is very anti big funeral or whatever. A lot of people that work for funeral corporations don't like her because she really promotes alternative funerals. She says 'Here are your choices' or like, 'Hey, you're allowed to negotiate on price'. She very much puts power back into like the hands of the people I guess. But also she does a lot of education work. Apparently some funeral people don't like that. But a lot of them do. A lot of them are like, 'yeah, it's really great that people are more okay with what we do'. So, apparently there's a lot of beef in the funeral world though, that I didn't know about.

I guess that can be true for any industry. So you've done a lot of research on death and on the logistics of it and also the psychology of it. Do you ever find yourself therapizing people and kind of using your own understanding of this and using your own experiences of having depression and being anxious?

During my capstone, people kept asking me and I was like, 'AAAAHHHHH' the whole time. So then when I was finally done, I was like, 'here's my capstone. Just take it, don't talk to me. I already did this'. I feel like it was very overwhelming. I feel like now less people come to me in desperate need of advice. Which is great for me. I came across this really amazing resource that was like, 'Hey, here's your reminder that you're not someone's therapist'. And I was like, 'Oh my God, you're right'. I think a lot of the time, I say it out of aggravation, but I'm like, 'I'm not your therapist' or 'like friendly reminder. I'm not a therapist'.

Do you have to say that to people sometimes? I'm sorry to hear that. Strangers on Instagram?

Sometimes yes. I love talking about it, but it is emotionally draining sometimes and if I'm not in the right mental state to be talking about it, I don't want to talk about it. I think it's also a lot of me giving myself permission to be like, 'you don't have to fix people's problems for them'.

I think that can be true even for people who didn't do research on death.

Yeah! There are times where I will doubt like..... it's sort of one of those things where you doubt your own expertise in something even though I know more about this than a normal person would. There are a lot of times where somebody that I love and care about is grieving and I don't know what to do. Ike, in my mind I know what to do. But it's one of those practicing things of you have to get in the habit of being better about it. I think I kept coming back to this weird grief resourcing thing which was like, 'Hey practice self care, Hey practice self care'. But what does that mean in this context? What I tell people who like need it, it's like


I try not to be people's therapists though. Now that I have a resource somewhere that I can point people to, it's helped me a lot. There's so many resources out there that are amazing and people don't know about them. Pointing them into that direction has also been very helpful for me. [sewing logistics].

I think it can be so important to draw those limits and make sure that you're respecting those limits for yourself. I was planning on coming in here and asking you all these questions about hardship, death, school studies, personal shit. And then I saw on Twitter just through chance that you'd had a tough day (so I checked you were still good to do this).

And I thank you for your email. That made me like 'Oh God, somebody cares about me'. Yeah, I left work today. I had this meeting with my boss and I was like, 'listen, I'm not doing so hot'. And she was like, 'you can go home when you're done with your meetings'. And I was like, 'thank you. So nice'. I didn't bring it up to any of my work friends. So then I told my friend I'm having a rough day, I'm going to go home. And she was like, 'what's wrong?' And I was like, 'I just love my friends a lot, but I can't deal with them being sad and I really care about them'. And then I came home and spent three hours doing one task for work and was like 'can somebody else please do this please'.

I think it's important to understand when you do have to go home or maybe ask someone else to do something.

I think part of me becoming an adult has been learning how and when to ask for help. If my coworker who picked up my work said no, and she was too busy, I probably could have just dealt with it. But people are wonderful and kind and surprise me a lot with how wonderful and kind they are. I don't know, a lot of my friends are like, 'Em you are such a pushover. You will say yes to anything'. I have trouble saying no, but when other people do it in return for me it touches me in such a wonderful way. It warms my heart and I'm like, 'this is what it feels like to be helped'. I think growing up has been giving myself permission to be helped if I need help.

You have to remind yourself to do that.

Yes, all the time. I feel like I have to remind myself that I don't have to make things as hard as I do so often.

I think that one thing I definitely want to achieve with this project is to remind people that it can be really tough to remember simple things like that and it can be really affirming to just fucking hear it or to just read it. The beautiful thing about the interviews I've done so far is that people are willing to be honest like that. We all want to just sometimes remind each other of these simple little truths that are honestly super helpful. I'm really lucky to have access to these community members who are really willing to talk about these things. I'm a 23 year old senior in college, so obviously I'm trying to figure out who I want to be.

Oh, I am absolutely still trying to figure it out.

Oh, so that doesn't stop?

No, unfortunately.

Yeah, it's a time in life that we're all going through and sometimes we don't want to let people know that.

Yeah, I feel like there's so much pride in pretending that you're all good and stuff. That kind of sucks. Being emotionally vulnerable is very hard. But I think it's so important and also it's so dumb, but there have been so many people that have DMD me on Instagram. Like 'your life looks so together'. And I was like, 'okay, cool'. I spent today doing X, Y, Z, thing that is so not together and feeling bad about it. I feel like I'm very brutally honest when people are like, 'your life is so together'. And I'm like 'no'.

I think that on your social media sometimes it can really look like that.

My life is very not together. I sometimes hate social media because of that. I feel like my sense of humor is very physical and in person and I feel like that doesn't translate well to social media. At the same time, I feel like I constantly overshare what I'm thinking and stuff in real life. And that doesn't translate to social media well either cause I just don't like typing it all the time. So I think one of my weird small goals that I've kind of set informally for myself is being more real and frank on social media.

What does that mean? Does it mean maybe typing those things out or maybe just being less curated?

I think both. I think in terms of Twitter, I feel it's very separate in my mind of the type of content that I can create on there. But I'm on Twitter, I am less filtered. My immediate family does not follow me on Twitter, so I'm more okay with sharing weird things. But also I feel like it's more conducive to very stream of consciousness talking. So I think that's something that I do a lot on there. My Instagram is definitely way more curated and I like have a weird small goal of posting on Instagram more right now.

Why do you have that goal?

Part of it's stupid because I want to become a Pro Vax influencer. Oh my God. So many of the influencers that I work with are very anti vax subtly.

That you work with in person?

No, like at my work. The mommy bloggers that we contract to create content are all like 'my child Maisie / Maylie / Shaylyn has been sick because I don't give her the smallpox vaccine' or whatever. Stupid drives me up the wall, they're uneducated about science. I love science and I love talking about science. So I want to become a weird influencer who talks about science.

I think that's a wonderful goal to have.

It's one of those stupid dream career things. Now that I like am an adult. I have my other dream career. I joke that cremation is my backup career because I was thinking about college when the financial crisis hit and have always have grown up with the idea that your job isn't safe. Having that backup career was important for me. But having a stupid ideal, weird job is a weird fantasy that I have now where I don't dream of my fantasy wedding or my future children. I'm like, 'how can I teach people about things that I'm interested in in an accessible way that I get excited about?' It's dumb, but something that makes me very happy to think about.

So you think you did that mostly on social media. Have you ever considered writing another little capstone style book of things you like?

Maybe someday. I immediately after finishing my capstone, started working on my podcast, which I've kind of had to put on the back burner. I loved doing it. I love making it. I love talking to people about their research. It's just very, very hard and it's very hard to do on my own. It's like a second job. Pretty much.

It is some people's job.

Yeah. I know there are people that I know in real life whose job it is, like I don't understand. I love doing that and I've always been a project person. I thrive on group projects and learn the best with a project. But I dunno, like in a weird sense that would be a weird dream of mine. It's like my like weird fantasy dream. To make money teaching people about science or whatever. And also another one of those learn-from-your-mistakes thing. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and go to college. I am so glad that I went to DAAP. I think that was the best move for me really. I learned so many things that I don't think I would've learned somewhere else. And I'm genuinely happy in the field that I'm in. That's all I could ask for. But I feel like a lot of what I do is out of spite for like, well somebody said I couldn't do that, so I'm gonna do it.

That's kind of spite there is. To a constructive end.

I can't wait to maybe one day run into this bitch that I went to grade school with and be like, 'I'm successful. You said that I couldn't do X, Y, Z and look at me'. For some reason I was like, 'I'm not smart enough to do science or writing or whatever. I can only do art'. And so that's what I did.

Cause you don't have to be smart to do art.

I know, I know. But now I'm kinda like, 'I love being smart'. I get a lot of genuine joy learning about things. I feel like while I did super well in school and worked really, really hard in school I didn't enjoy learning and I didn't understand how some people could love school. But now that I'm out of school and when I was almost done with school, like in the last year and a half, I was like,' I love school, I love learning. I love an academic setting'. While I know that I can't afford to be one of those people who is constantly in grad school or spending forever on getting a PhD., I would absolutely love to do that. I just want to keep learning for the sake of enjoying it pretty much. And I want to share that.

So is that something that you think you add to your community in a big ways? Because this is a community project. I'm going to ask you what do you think it is that you bring to those around you?

I. Hmmm. I dunno. I the other day my friend was giving me constructive criticism on something that I did that bothered them. This is so stupid. I had to go pick up drive through food for my sister. And so I had to leave hanging out with some of my friends early and they were mad at me. One of them sent me really genuinely nice constructive criticism that I cried about. Cause I was like, 'you care about me so much and tell me when something's bothering you about me'. I love to know when I do something that bothers someone. They were like, 'you genuinely care about people too much and you can't say no. You just want to make everyone happy. I love that about you, but you need to stop'. I was like, 'Oh my God, you're right'. I'm everyone's airport friend. I'll go pick them up from the airport.

I know where you're coming from.

I'm always the person that even people that I'm not super great friends with will ask me to drive them to the airport.And like, yeah, yeah, of course. I've driven so many DAAP people to the airport that I didn't even know.

So wait, is that what you think you add to your community?

Wow, that makes me feel shitty about myself, like what a weird humble brag sort of moment. I think that I do things because I feel guilty if I don't. But I think in a way I am a reliable person. I dunno. I'm not always the most reliable and I'm kind of a flake, but I think that I'm a reliable friend who genuinely cares. If I am your friend, I genuinely care about you. I want what's best for you. Anything that I say that sounds vaguely mean is out of the kindness of my heart. I want you to be OK and not get hurt and all of that stuff. I just love my friends. In terms of my community though, I feel like that's my immediate friend group of what I contribute to. I don't know I get very emotional about my friends. I love my friends so much, but sometimes I do feel doubtful. Like 'are they really my friend, do they really care about me as much?'. I got invited to my friend's wedding and I straight up two days after I got the invitation was like, 'do you really care about me enough to have me at your wedding? Like you guys means so much to me and it really touches me that you invited me to your wedding'. I want to be as good of a friend to people as people are to me. I want people to not feel like they're alone. Cause I feel like I've felt so isolated so many times because of my mental health. So talking about it I think is a way that I can kind of help people. I know it's really stupid, but back when I was a teen on Tumblr, realizing that it wasn't super normal to always feel bad. And that other people felt that way was wild to me.

So both the depression isn't standard and that other people get that.

Yeah. Knowing that I wasn't alone like in my sexuality or my mental health or things that felt incredibly isolating to me as a teen. Like just being in Ohio. It's like knowing that there were other people that felt that way was hugely important to me. I think with social media or whatever, being an active member of my community, I'm trying to be more involved in my actual community but like being able to say 'Hey, here are my experiences if you relate to them let's talk about it'. If you need support I am here even if you don't know me personally. The world is both a lot bigger and smaller than we think it is. And I want to be a resource for people who think that they need help or need somebody to talk to or to learn from mistakes that I've made. Like that sleep is important when you're in college. Also, something that I learned from my capstone that I just remembered that


I love that. Yeah. That is so important.

Like that stupid DAAP brag of 'well I pulled this many all nighters so I am a better designer' or whatever.

I have the pain clout.

Yeah! I think that's horrible. I totally was that person though all of high school and early college. I'm like 'I spent this long doing this project. I spent this long studying. I am therefore better or more justify it in my complaining'. So I think that's another weird little thing that is universally true, but you need to be validated.