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I Used to Think I Was Southern

I Used to Think I Was Southern

I used to think I was southern, and then I moved to Georgia.

As a Floridian, I always felt an association with the south. Even my family was from the south. My mom's side of the family is from rural Georgia, but my great grandparents relocated to Florida in the state's post-war boom.

Florida has all the trappings of the south -- you can find plenty of sweet tea, soul food, country music, and friendly locals. We eat grits, know what collard greens are, and politely smile at everyone. But, as any Floridian will tell you, Florida is a strange amalgamation of cultures. So, alongside that sweet tea you will also find guava pastries, Cuban sandwiches, and lots of geriatric Canadians lol. We also have a huge population of transplants from the northeast, which might explain my Dunkin Donuts coffee obsession. Many joke that the further south you get in Florida the more north you actually are.

While this blending of people and cultures is awesome, it also means that most Floridians (besides the panhandle and north Florida) are not very southern at all. Honestly, Florida is a weird place, and for those of us who were born and raised there (only 1 in 3 people in Florida are actually from Florida), we don't really have a larger cultural identity (unless "Florida Man" counts). Perhaps that is why I just always assumed the "south" was my closest cultural association.

Boy was I wrong. Living in a small town in Georgia has been a major culture shock. The only options on the radio are literally country or christian music. That is it. I guess I better develop a taste for country music (I have always enjoyed the sound of country music, but I struggle with the misogynistic and patriarchal undertones).

Obviously, I am missing the creature comforts of city life -- no grocery deliver service, a severe lack of cuisine options (why is everything fried and what is with pimento cheese?), no cute coffee shops, and no Nordstrom or Trader Joe's. I also always feel overdressed since no body here seems to wear anything other than shorts, jeans, and t-shirts (of course that feeling changed a bit when I started working on campus). And I am pretty sure my "wild feminist" t-shirt is not going to go over as well here. Oh, and downtown has not one, but two Confederate memorials. I have also been a little shocked by the number of abandon and run-down buildings and historic homes.

I almost forgot about the accents! Wow. Just, wow. At first I kind of chuckled when people spoke. I was not making fun, it just seemed so unreal, like an actor trying too hard to sound southern. It felt like a parody. But nope, that is really how people speak here. I am starting to get used to it though, and honestly I like it. I wonder what I sound like to them? Northern? Do Floridians have an accent?

But I don't want to paint the picture that it is all bad. People are insanely nice here... like crazy nice. When everyone lost power thanks to Irma, I had more offers that I could count for a place to stay and a warm meal. People genuinely want to know about you. They don't ask out of politeness, they really listen and engage with you. And there is no getting away with not telling someone your life story. I have also not had to open my own door or carry anything heavy since moving here. Not one person in Tampa offered to help when I spent 2 days struggling down my 3 flights of stairs and out to my car (then again, I didn't expect anyone to). And while there are a lot of historic homes in shambles, there are also many that have been carefully and lovingly restored (there does seem to be a lot of wealth inequality here).

Apologies that this post is a collection of random thoughts, but I always find it interesting what we learn about ourselves and our worldview when we are placed in a different environment, out of our comfort zone.

While my move has been overwhelming and exhausting (as all moves are), I have tried to embrace my new home and look for the positives... and drive to Atlanta whenever possible. I would love to hear any Atlanta recommendations you have!

Have you ever moved somewhere completely different? What did you struggle with?

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Ashley B
Beret for Fall!

Beret for Fall!

I am calling it now. Berets are going to be everywhere this fall. Well, technically I called this two weeks ago, but as autumn officially approaches, I am doubling down on my prediction, becuase I am seeing berets everywhere!

I purchased this gorgeous red beret 6 years ago in Munich. I was visiting my German friend, Laura (we met at language school in Florence) in December. And let me tell you, Bavaria in December looks like a winter wonderland, or better yet, Narnia! Everything was covered with fresh, fluffy white snow. I, however, was ill-prepared for the cold temps. Laura took me to one of her favorite stores and convinced me I needed this red wool beret. She said it was a timeless classic. She was so right. I guess I had always assumed that no one really actually wore berets, except French mimes in movies. But as I discovered that winter in Europe, lots of European women, including French women, wear berets.

Since that winter, the beret has been a winter wardrobe staple for me (I love my grey one here and I am obsessed with my petite beret here). So, I am so happy to see the beret is trending once more. Like other classic styles, the beret never truly goes out of style, but it does become trendy again every couple decades or so (but isn't that all fashion really?). Personally, I prefer a beret with more shape and weight (like this one) so that it does not fall flat on your head.

When I saw this poppy print Kate Spade dress I immediately knew I wanted to pair it with my red beret for fall. While the poppy print is so stunning, I was shocked at how flattering and easy to wear this silk shirt dress is (it does come with a belt if you want to add more shape). FYI, I am wearing an XS small, which is not my normal Kate Spade size. I usually have to size up in Kate Spade, but this dress is really generous so make sure you size down.

Will you be rocking the beret this fall?


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Ashley B
Floral Mini Dress

Floral Mini Dress

Here is the thing I love about For Love & Lemons -- they take soft, feminine patterns and silhouettes and add an unexpected element of sexy. Whether it is a low neckline, open back, mini hemline, or strategically placed sheer/nude panels, For Love & Lemons has certainly mastered the art of flirtatious dressing.

While most of their items are not office appropriate per se, I love their flirty, easy to wear dresses for weekends, travel, and nights out. I have never struggled to find work clothing, but I always seem to struggle to find "night out" attire. I feel like you can only wear skinny jeans and a cute blouse for dinner and drinks so many times before you need something different. Enter For Love & Lemons. Their clothing is perfect for a girls night out, dinner and drinks, and espeically a date.

I think this floral, flirty number is my favorite purchase from For Love & Lemons to date. The cut of the dress is perfection. It manages to be flattering and flirty without being tight. In fact, it actually has a loose fit (I am wearing a small FYI). The soft floral pattern and sweet pastel color palette is juxtaposed with the mini hemline and strategically placed nude panels on the upper thighs. While it could be easily be dressed up for evening (and made extra sexy with heels), I dressed it down with a fisherman's hat (my new favorite fall accessory) and burgundy cross-body bag for an afternoon in St. Petersburg.

Shop this dress and more of my favorites from For Love & Lemons below!



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Ashley B
My Fall Wish List

My Fall Wish List

I do a lot of online window shopping. It is part of my morning routine while enjoying my coffee. I love scrolling through new arrivals and seeing what styles, colors, and silhouettes are trending. RewardStyle makes it easy to save my online likes (even into different categories), which makes it super easy to collect and analyze what I am liking. This also keeps me from impulse buying. If you don't have RewardStyle, you can also do this on Pinterest.

I like to collect new arrivals and see what will work with my current wardrobe. It also helps me collect similar items and decide which particular style or price point works best for me and my budget. Where do I want to splurge this season and where can I save? Bookmarking items also gives me the sense of purchasing or shopping without spending money, which is always a good thing! If you want to keep up with my most recent likes, you can always click "MY WISH LIST" under the "GET THE LOOK" tab at the top of the page.

My online shopping over the past couple weeks (I have had lots of time during my move and Irma to do substantial online window shopping) has definitely revealed several key trends that I am definitely wanting to add to my fall wardrobe -- more yellow, military details, vintage accessories, velvet, millennial pink, and bold sleeves.

Of course, not all of the items saved to my wish list are realistic. Sometimes it is fun to save dream or inspirational pieces. This can help you develop your personal style and find similar items in your price-point.

You can shop my current fall wish list below:

What items, colors, or silhouettes are topping your wish list this fall?

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Ashley B
The Truth About the Academic Job Market

The Truth About the Academic Job Market

This should not come as a surprise to you if you are thinking of going on (or are currently on) the academic job market -- it sucks! It is pretty much like The Hunger Games out there.

If you were not aware of this, or don't know anything about the current state of higher ed/academia, let me break it down for you real quick. As more and more universities are being run "like a business," they are making the majority of their decisions based on profit margin and not on student achievement/success or the pursuit of knowledge. Now, you might think, "doesn't this mean higher salaries for professors and better fiscal management?"Nope. The only ones profiting from this are upper-level administrators. Students are paying more than ever and their professors are making less than ever.

The assault on higher ed is particularly frightening in the humanities. Simply put the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) bring tangible economic benefits to the university, unlike the humanities. So, these fields tend to be better funded, while disciplines like English, History, and Anthropology are continually underfunded. For example, to save money when a tenured history professor retires, the university simply hires a couple adjuncts to replace them. Rarely does the university hire another tenured track professor (for whom the university would have to fund research, travel, professional development, healthcare, and retirement).

This means that the jobs that should exist for graduating PhDs no longer exist. And, as their research funding continues to erode, they are forced to take temporary or adjunct teaching positions. When a standard tenure-track position does become available, hundreds of well-qualified PhDs are fighting for one job.

The sad reality is that most students are not even aware of the eroding of their education (especially in the humanities). They are being taught by exploited adjunct faculty who are teaching too many classes just to survive. Thus, they cannot care as much about individual students, course innovation, or competitive research.

You might be wondering, "what is wrong with hiring an adjunct?" I am not disparaging adjuncts. These are well-educated, and in many cases high-achieving, individuals in their field. My problem is with their exploitation. Someone with a PhD should not be earning part time pay with no healthcare because the university wants to save money. The average adjunct makes $2,987 per course. That means they would have to teach 20 classes a year to make 60k, and that is still without any benefits.* Nor should students, who are in many cases going into immense debt for their degree, have sub-par or overworked faculty.

Now you might be thinking, "well if you have to adjunct at first to get by, that's ok if it leads to a full-time or tenured position." This is a false promise, do not fall for it. The course load of an adjunct does not give them the necessary time to research, write, and publish, all of which are essential to landing a full-time position. Simply put, adjuncts are less competitive on the job market.

I am sharing this for two reasons. First, if you are a college student demand the faculty you deserve for the price you are paying. And second, becuase I think it is important that students who are thinking of a career in higher ed are fully aware of what is happening and the reality they will face -- you will likely not get your dream professorship, and if you are lucky enough to get job, you will likely have to move across country and shoulder a heavy teaching load with few of the academic benefits you once envisioned.

Of course, I was mostly aware of all of this when I entered my PhD program. Do I regret pursuing a PhD in history? Absolutely not. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. It made me more thoughtful and analytical in every aspect of my life. That said, however, I went in with my eyes wide open. I knew the challenges I would face and tried to position myself strategically to ensure I would be able to build a sustainable career when I graduated. Thank goodness I was successful, and I am so grateful for my amazing advisors and the support I received along the way.

I know this is long and a pretty doom-and-gloom kind of post. But I think it is important that people are aware of what is going on. I also have a couple follow up posts in the works in which I plan to share tips on how to position yourself to more successfully in order to better navigate this hostile job market.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and some of your experiences on the academic job market below!

PS - Don't even get me started on how little we pay primary and secondary teachers. What is wrong with us? It is time to change and value education! Businesses invest in what is important... just saying.

*PPS - What kind of historian would I be if I did not give you sources for my data? I pulled my data from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education. You can read more on adjunct statistics and pay here and here.

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Ashley B
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