Reflection, Relevant, Remembering

To My Favorites

While I was the second of two daughters in my family, most of my closest friends growing up had younger siblings, and because of them I lucked into a number of little sisters. I shared hallways with them for a year of high school, my last and their first, and did what I could to make everything a little lighter. I got to watch them grow in a similar way I imagine my own sister did me: with the desire to protect them, to teach them everything I knew, to keep them young, and provide them with a space to grow up that was even just a little more compassionate than my own.

Of course, they grew up on me and became the most stunning, intelligent, creative, and caring young women I know. Next week they begin college, and with that will come many changes, I’ve learned, just a few years ahead of them in age. In many other ways though, they’re lightyears ahead of me. And now I’m certain that I didn’t just gain a gaggle of little girls to play Mother Hen to, but a number of dear friends.

There are a lot of Guides to Surviving Freshman Year of College written and published this time of year, which contain a number of insightful things like how to get involved with student organizations, the reality of the Freshman 15, how not to fail every class, how to party like a real frat star, and many similar bits of wisdom I don’t care to share with you. Instead, I write this one to my favorite little sisters, with the acknowledgement that I’m not full of wisdom or answers, just a great deal of love.

I still want to protect you, teach you everything I know, keep you young, and create a compassionate world for you to continuing growing.

For my favorite babes as they begin college:

Know this list is full of contradictions and exceptions.
Know that life is full of contradictions and exceptions.

Feel everything, except guilty for feeling. I don’t know a more graceful way to write that succinctly, but I think it’s important. There will be times when someone will dismiss your feelings, will minimize, will trivialize, and—if you’re anything like me—will make you feel embarrassed for caring too much. Or maybe it will be the reverse. Be honest about it. Let yourself feel what you feel, the extremes, the in-betweens, the numbness that may be worst of all. Let yourself miss home, let yourself be confused, let yourself be heartbroken. Feel organically. Sort through it when you can. Write from it, create from it, run with it, be motivated by it, make it valuable in some way if you can. And when it’s too much for you to handle, know how to ask for help. That’s important.

Communicate what matters. When you hurt someone, apologize. When you have big questions, ask them. When you love someone, please tell them, and don’t wait too long. I’ve spent too much of my life rehearsing phone calls before I made them, imagining conversations before they happened, and writing letters too late, letting my over-thinking get in the way of saying things that actually matter. Relationships do dissolve, friends do move away, and people die, which isn’t meant to be a that-escalated-quickly moment, but a serious one. I’m not one of those people who claims to not have any regrets because you can’t change the past or whatever. I regret many things, but most of those moments surround failing to say ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m sorry,’ for fear of shaking pride, or for fear of the response.

Take an Intro to Philosophy class your first year.

Be alone, and even lonely, at least a little. Let it teach you.

Don’t be afraid you’re not doing college correctly. I’m sure you’ve already heard/read/seen more than you would ever want to about The College Experience, so you’ll naturally go in with a number of expectations. For the record, my college idol was Rory Gilmore, who went to Yale, while I went to a giant state school in Texas, if that tells you anything about my misguided ideas about college. Gilmore Girls talk aside, my point is that you can’t possibly get rid of your expectations, but I think you can foster a kind of attitude towards those expectations which allows something meaningful to come from the disappointment when it isn’t everything you’ve ever hoped.

College may be the best four years of your life. It also may not even come close to the best years of your life. Let it be what it is and don’t worry you’re doing it wrong because it doesn’t fit the college mold. Don’t feel guilty if you actually like studying. Join a sorority even if your friends back home think it’s lame. Don’t be afraid of fitting a college kid stereotype, of being a hipster, of dating a guy or gal who writes poetry, of getting a 4.0, or being in student government. Don’t be afraid of being outside every stereotype. Do you, plain and simple.

Talk to people who challenge you and what you think you know. Let them teach you about yourself.

Read for pleasure (alright, over winter break).

Call your folks and your siblings often.

Know that if you choose a liberal arts/humanities major, people will criticize you for it, and there’s not much you can do to stop them. Know why you’re studying dance or studio art or creative writing or philosophy or theatre. Have a good reason, one you believe wholeheartedly. If you know what you’re spending your time studying is valuable, the criticism won’t get to you. Expect people to call it the “easy major” and throw around words like useless, frivolous, and would you like fries with that. It will be hurtful sometimes, and crummy people will base their judgements of you on what you’re studying. Don’t feel like you have to defend your major to the death. You won’t change their minds. Brush it off, and don’t ever read Yahoo! News. Just, don’t. English-major-hater central.

Know what is within your control and what isn’t. You can’t change the time of your 8 a.m. class when you come to your senses and realize 8 a.m. classes are the very worst. You can’t change your bank account balance when it tells you you’ve spent your last seven dollars this month and don’t get a pay check for three days. You can’t change the fact that you lost your phone on a Saturday night you can’t remember. You can’t change the fact that he doesn’t love you.

Know that everything and everyone can teach you something if you let them.

It’s OK to share cigarettes with boys on front porch steps, but always know how many packs you’ve bought in your lifetime. It’ll keep you in check, and keep your lungs from quitting on you when you’re 45.

Stand up for yourself. Identify what makes you valuable. Know those things like the back of your hand, so you never have to question it and never let anyone else.

Love with conviction.

Let yourself change. Recognize the changing as it happens, how it happens, who it happens with. Document along the way if you’re into that kind of thing. Write Future You a letter telling her all about you now. She’ll want to meet you, I promise.

Make balance a constant goal.

Resist apathy. This last one is important. You’ll meet a lot of people who care about very little. Don’t be like that. Care about something. Care about everything. Care too much if you have to, but be alive.

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Reflection, Relevant, Remembering, Ridiculous

‘Round My Hometown

It’s interesting going to college in my hometown. I say interesting because that’s the word we use when things are neither good nor bad. And I suppose Denton, TX is my hometown, although I don’t know if I’ve acknowledged it as such until recently. I don’t have any family here or anywhere close to here besides my parents and sister. And as a whole, looking to generalizations about Texas and Texans, I don’t see where I fit in. But in this quirky little town that, in reality, is not all that little anymore, I certainly found a place. And I love it most when I feel I’ve made a home here as a young adult, separate from the one I grew up in.

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about home lately. Summer and winter breaks from classes prompt this, with old friends and acquaintances returning from school or their newly-established homes to visit family. College towns have seasons like beach towns and ski resorts do, instead marked by the beginning and end of the semester, not the weather. The local coffee shops close early, streets around the university are empty, and the bars become filled with Dentonites, those of us who stuck around and those who come back.

You find yourself in restaurants and grungy bars with people you once shared bleachers and classrooms with. Everyone looks a little worn around the edges, even you. Especially you, it seems. In any case, you don’t know how you’re supposed to feel about them. Obligation? Regret for not keeping in touch? Complete apathy? To complicate matters even more, your college friends will mix with your high school friends. The girl you studied abroad with works at a Victoria’s Secret with a girl from high school who you recently deleted from Facebook, so that’s awkward. While they seem to be two worlds completely, space and time has continued as it always does completely outside of your life.

I vividly remember the summer before I began college, before many of my friends moved to various parts of the country for college. I was scared of change and probably still am, but I wasn’t worried about losing my friends. I thought the ones that mattered wouldn’t disappear, nor would our friendships. And the people I lost touch with wouldn’t be a huge loss or we (presumably) would have worked harder to stay friends.

But growing up is never that easy, and growing apart is certainly not painless.

As I’m about to begin my last semester as an undergraduate, with plans to move away in a few short months, I’m realizing more and more that sometimes we change as individuals too much for our friendships to survive solely because of history, of shared experiences from our pasts, of once being friends. It takes hard work, and sometimes it can’t possibly work. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do plan to continue working on a few goals I set for myself in the middle of last year, one of which was to not keep friends out of obligation. You may disagree with me on this one, but I decided that friendship was too important to me to reduce to facebook stalking and a text message on their birthday. While it’s not ideal, I think it’s okay that we get caught up in the lives directly in front of us, and that work and school keep us so busy that we don’t acknowledge each other for months at a time. I am certainly not immune and I have many friends where this is the case. But what is there behind all of that is a mutual level of care, an understanding that we’re invested in the other, we think about each other, and there is love motivating a friendship, not obligation to something that once was.

***

I remember how our worlds once connected, how they intertwined so tightly I never imagined they would ever do otherwise. But I want to both recognize how they once did and no longer do, to be kind to one another, but not regret the directions we’ve moved. We forget the capabilities of time to change us, neither for better or worse, just significantly. In this town, everyone seems to know everyone. But in reality, no one really knows anyone at all. We may not know each other at all.

But if we want, we could re-meet, without presuming we know everything about each other because we shared hallways and glances across tables of coffee shops four years ago. As lame and aphoristic as it sounds, I think friendships begin with discovery, and that’s a pretty spectacular thing worth shooting for.
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Ridiculous

College/The Glory Days in the Making

Yes, I’m going to write about school because it’s the beginning of dead week (which is not actually a real thing) and all I do is write English papers. You’ve been warned.

My final Shakespeare research paper was due Friday, and I spent many late nights last week getting it done (pats self on back). Lucky for you, I captured my paper writing one particularly long evening last week. I realize I did this some time last fall, but here’s a little glimpse anyway.

This is me at the beginning of the night. This is my you-better-check-yo’self-before-you-wreck-yo’self-(comma)-Willy-Shakespeare face.
Approximately 10 o’clock p.m. and off to a good start for the evening. 1

You know things get serious when I put my bangs up. Lookin’ a little more tired and less optimistic about finishing the paper.
Approximately 1 o’clock a.m.
2

Around 2 a.m. I had a dance party alone in my room, which proved relatively effective. But shortly after, I had post-groovin’ crash. Classic. I legitimately dropped my head onto my keyboard, inserting a long trail of g’s or y’s into my paper. It was so obnoxious that I documented it. I don’t know if you guys do this, but the longer I spend writing, the closer my face gets to my screen, which doesn’t help anything because it makes my eyes more tired from the light of the screen. So dumb. Oh, and this angle gives you an excellent view of my super sweet sparkly clip. You’re welcome.

Approximately 3:30 a.m.
3

P.S. I tagged this post “Shakespeare” so hopefully someone actually looking for an insightful post about Shakespeare is brought here and is extremely disappointed when they find this instead.

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Random

The inevitable

I hate this time of year. I should officially announce a blogging hiatus the last three weeks of each semester, that way I don’t feel guilty about neglecting this sweet all-too-forgiving writing space.

This time of year is the worst. The beautiful natural world around me and the tease of freedom is just enough to motivate me creatively, to make me want to write constantly, to play music every day first thing when I wake up, to spend my weekends cooking great food, reading novels, taking pictures and long bike rides, and practicing my calligraphy. But I can’t, at least not yet. Soon my time with come, when graduate school applications and research papers and poems and stories are all in and out of my hands and time to make and do lovely things will once again be mine.

In reality, being a college student is incredible and I really love that I get to spend my time doing what I’m doing. End-of-the-semester burnout overshadows my love for this incredible life I get to lead sometimes, but I know I’ll miss all of this when it’s over. More on that later.

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Read, Reflection, Relevant

Lists and Promises

Those of you that know me well could testify that I’m somewhat obsessive compulsive about making lists. I write at least three or four to-do lists every day, sometimes even micromanaging my time scheduling what I will do in thirty minute increments. I promise this is the only thing I’m crazy organized about in life, my roommate can testify to that lovely truth. But there’s something truly satisfying about crossing items off of lists. I admit that I have been known to write already-completely items on my to-do lists just for the satisfaction of crossing something off. No shame. But today as I flipped through my to-do lists from the week, I noticed a one-word to-do item that was carried from each day to the next last week and was never crossed out: blog.

I hate when this space becomes bare and the gaps in between substantial posts widens far more than I prefer. I just crossed the midterm mark in the semester, which for you post-college cats probably seems like a cakewalk in hindsight, and I realize the real world is a grim place and that I should be thankful to sit in the coziness of my college life as long as possible. But this semester is demanding a lot of my time, which is why I haven’t been writing in my sweet little blogging space as much as I would like to be. I have been writing though, more than ever have before, actually. I’m two drafts into a couple of long-form nonfiction essays for workshop that are demanding all of my time and love. I’m not sure that I’ll share them here at any point; they’re really quite long. But I’m happy to be writing and writing a lot even if none of it is being posted here.

All this to say I hope to get back on track with writing for you cats. I appreciate you being patient and continuing to care despite my evident lack of attention to this space. You guys are the tops. I mean it.

And because I heard him speak last week and love his work even more than I did before, I leave you with a poem by Kevin Prufer to slow down your day a bit, to sit with, to get to know, and absorb the way it asks you to.

In a Beautiful Country
by Kevin Prufer

A good way to fall in love
is to turn off the headlights
and drive very fast down dark roads.

Another way to fall in love
is to say they are only mints
and swallow them with a strong drink.

Then it is autumn in the body.
Your hands are cold.
Then it is winter and we are still at war.

The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear
about how we live in a beautiful country.
Snow sifts from the clouds

into your drink. It doesn’t matter about the war.
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,

then down you’ll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love. Love,

the broken glass. Love, the scissors
and the water basin. A good way to fall
is with a rope to catch you.

A good way is with something to drink
to help you march forward.
The gold-haired girl says, Don’t worry

about the armies, says, We live in a time
full of love. You’re thinking about this too much.
Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.

 

 

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Relevant

Reality Check

Tomorrow is, in fact, the first day of my last year as an undergraduate. And while the scary real world creeps right around the corner, I’m optimistic amidst all of the nervousness and anxiety that normally clouds my judgement. I’m thankful for this little virtual space to come to when sleep won’t come, to write about little milestones as they fly by and to do my best to sort through how I feel about any and all of it. Thanks for reading and caring, kind humans. It means so much.

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Relevant, Rhyme

“You’re not dead. Let’s have dinner.”

A few things that stopped me in my tracks today:

1. Strange request on a post-it.

2. Dumpster message.

3. Scary clowns clouds.  

So, yes. I hope you all enjoy my crappy cellphone picture-taking/documenting my mundane life. If I don’t put them here, they get buried amidst hundreds of pictures on my iPhone that I end up deleting to make place for music I don’t listen to. Oh, and I had a poem due today and it was my worst one yet! Yay! So much fun. It had some moments that I’m not completely horrified by that I’ll post. The basic gist of the assignment was to write an imitation poem of Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” and I had, what I think, was a stellar idea that I started, but because of the requirements of the assignment I had to start over with something much less stellar. Maybe I’ll write that other poem just for kicks. Anyways, here are a few of the least awful moments. (Wow, I’m really building this poem up…)

I
Roses say “I love you,”
Carnations say “I’m sorry,”
Flower petals only speak
For cowards.

II
The big hand perfects its pirouettes.
Artificial flower petals attached to artificial stems
Rest in lines above the dirt.

VI
In loving memory of.
The first petal falls away.

XIII
Colors move with the rhythm of warm winds.
Flower petals kiss the sun,
And the earth becomes a kaleidoscope.

So there’s that. Into the english-paper-writing cave I go for the next thirty-two hours. See you on the other side (hopefully).

Oh, and if you haven’t spent a significant time seriously deliberating how you’re going to get your hands on an actual hard copy of it tomorrow even though you’re at work and in class from 7:30 in the morning to 9:30 tomorrow night, the new Fun. album Some Nights comes out tomorrow. I can’t wait.

*Post update*
So, I’m exiting the paper-writing cave to let you know that it occurred to me that I will, in fact, have a moment in the middle of my day to pick up a copy of Some Nights because I have an exam that shouldn’t take me a full hour and a half. I’ve never been so pleased to have a test in my whole life. That’s all. I felt that it was valuable information you needed to know. I know you all were reading this post, biting your nails with extreme worry that I wouldn’t be able to buy the CD. Rest easy, friends.

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