Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Diffy

Before her death, Fran charged my grandmother with the task of giving her granddaughter, Meredith, a Christmas present from Fran. My mom ordered an Amish dollhouse, and we have spent the last month painting it with cathartic intensity, My grandma, mom, and I went down to their house today to give Meredith the house, and the ride was normal, except for being heavy with each of our fears that we would start crying the moment we walked in. We didn't. I spent the afternoon playing with Meredith and chatting with Fran's daughters. We joked, told family stories, and shared Christmas goodies, but everyone skirted the elephant in the room: Meredith's dollhouse was from Fran, Fran who wasn't there, Fran who will never share another Christmas with her only granddaughter. Fran was my surrogate grandmother years ago, 18 years ago, when my grandmother was welcoming me, and Fran was sad that her own children weren't popping out babies yet. Just before we left, Meredith's mom and Fran's daughter, Carrie, said offhand to my grandma that she was now Meredith's surrogate grandmother. Eighteen years apart, I'm trading places with a darling year-old baby who never got to know her own grandmother. Except it wasn't a fair trade; I got an extra, and Meredith gets a replacement (albeit an exceptional one). Granted, Fran and my grandma are kind of the exact same person. They met as librarians, were in the same book club, both gardened intensely, and both love red (my grandma wore a bright red jumper to Fran's funeral and no one so much as gave her a look). I'd honestly become less close with Fran in the last few years, but it was comforting to know she was there, and she was an excellent extra grandma to chat and share accomplishments with. Her husband, Hume, I had never really been close with. I'd see him, we chat politely, but never much more. Hume hugged me as we were leaving today. On the ride home I got to thinking that it isn't fair to say her death was good, but when God closes a door, he always opens a window, right? We have become so much closer to Hume, Carrie, Anne, and Meredith in the last year as Fran got sick and past. Perhaps that's my window.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Measure in Love

Today I remember. Seven months ago I listened to a teacher and a mother present an award honoring her children to two other members of what would have been her daughter's graduating class. Four and a half years ago I read a poem written by my best friend about a spectacular young woman. Five years ago next week I sat in an overflowing church with that best friend, crying, while Rent, a musical we were far too young to understand the power of, inundated us with emotion we were far too young to handle. Five years ago this week I didn't go to a viewing because I was afraid of what I would have to see. Five years ago tomorrow morning I sat in our health classroom in a circle of what were soon to become my seven best friends in the world, all crying. Five years ago tomorrow morning I prayed (I do not pray). Five years ago tomorrow morning I walked into school to a silent, dead gymnasium. Five years ago tonight my mom woke me up to come listen to the news. Five years ago right now, Dustin and Courtney Muse hadn't gotten in the car yet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Three Cups of Tea

Why is it that we feel this need to classify people as all good or all bad? Especially people that garner public attention must either be saints or villains in our society. Greg Mortenson is a fabulously committed social entrepreneur who started an organization that builds schools targeted at girls' education in Afganistan. After a trip there, he liquidated his entire life's assets to fund the project. It's a wonderful program that has helped immensely, particularly in rural areas. Last year, some documents came out suggesting he had embezzled some money from the organization and that portions of his book, Three Cups of Tea, may not be accurate accounts of what happened. Media quickly jumped on the story and utterly villainized Mortenson. Now, my argument here is not nearly that he did nothing wrong, I'm sure there were some shading dealings that led to the accusations. However, I do find it odd that we cannot cope with a figure who may be both good and bad. People often say that the best presidents are not particularly spectacular people. Why is it then, that when confronted by other such individuals, we are incapable of handling their character dichotomy? 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Half the Sky

Ok people, calm down. So what if I'm madly in love with a 50 year old man I've never met. HE CHANGED MY LIFE. I mean really, I put him in my Self-Image project (see the video in a previous post). Nicholas Kristof, is, as my Women's Studies professor, Jill Shultz, would say, "my favorite straight white guy." I'm not kidding, his book, Half the Sky, changed my life; perhaps not tangibly, but my life is definitely different. I have always been a feminist. Always, since falling in love with "Margaritaville" because at the end he realizes it's his own fault rather than a woman's. Nicholas Kristof, though, was a tipping point. No longer can I just be a feminist; I have to be a feminist. If you aren't letting it inform almost all of your opinions you probably aren't doing it right, because if you're a feminist on one thing and don't give a damn on another you sort of negate what you're doing by allowing it elsewhere. That isn't to say you have to fight it on all front, or even be confrontational, but you have to recognize the gender imbued in everything. Jill Shultz said a very wise thing in my first class with her. SShe told us there was going to be a point when we realized we were angry, and that if we weren't ready for that we should leave, because once we got angry we would never not be angry again. Then, it seemed a tad exaggerated, but it isn't. All semester, she kept asking us if we'd had our ah-ha moments yet. Half the Sky, and many little moments leading up to it, were my ah-ha, and I'll never not be angry again. I frequently have this sense of confusion as to how anyone can be completely happy when they see all the terrible things going on in their world. In fact, I went to a current professor's office hours and posed a similar question. "How do we live in a world where we know so much is wrong?" She told me I had to pick something I was passionate about and work on that; also that I'm just a Freshman and, really, truly, I don't actually have to have my entire life completely planned out yet (I may still disagree about the second point, for posterity). I see so many happy people around me, fighting for the world I want. I fight, but I think I fight from that anger; the passion to me is the anger, the fire, the desire to get things done and make things happen. And how can we ever stop to breathe when there is always so much to be done.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Never Look Back

Potentially, I over-think things...
Like it would probably be to my benefit to spend less of my time worrying about the state of the world and why we matter and what everyone's doing here anyway. At any rate, I think it gets me into some trouble inside my own head. College has made me sad largely because I feel like I can never go home. The first night I spent in Letts 3 North, marked the end of Bethel Rd being home. Now, technically, that isn't true; I get to spend at least four more summers there if I want and could probably even live there for a while after I graduate (even though I'd never let that happen). It just seems like the elephant in the room that we all just moved out, we just threw something away that we can never  get back, ever. It's depressing. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Things I Hate: The Apology

Yes, yes. Hate is a strong word, but really, there are some things out there I hate (not people, just things–that's a lie there's a very short list of people too, but never mind that). One of these, is stupid people. I am constantly overwhelmed by the stupidity of other humanoids. But another thing I hate, is lying/not following through/breaking promises/falling down on the job/not taking responsibility/blowing people off. I get it, it happens to all of us sometimes (god only knows), but thee are people who consistently say one thing and don't come through, and THAT, I hate. I was always raised to think that saying you were sorry meant you would change said behavior that you had to apologize for. Consequently, I'm a little mind-boggled by people apologizing for things and then doing them later. If you apologized, you recognize it's wrong and avoid it. This does not seem to me a particularly challenging concept. This does not appear to be the case for the rest of society. Because sorry actually means you will alter the behavior, my family doesn't apologize a whole heck of a lot. SOmetimes people complain that I don't apologize enough, but, quite frankly, unless I truly plan to avoid doing something again, I don't apologize; so, no, you won't hear it a lot. On the other hand, it means when I say it, I actually mean it. Now there's a whole other realm of apology which is the one-sided, fake apology. This is the "I'm sorry x happened to you," rather than the "I'm sorry I did y," when both parties are totally aware that the repercussion x was completely a reaction to the action y. I do appreciate people that avoid these, even though I'm sure I occasionally commit them. In general, say what you mean and if you don't mean it don't bother. It's disrespectful and not super trustworthy; not really qualities anyone looks for in others. I guess my point is that I wish people spent a lot more time saying what they mean instead of what they know they're supposed to say. Be genuine, for better or worse.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dry Your Tears

Crying, to me, is a very odd phenomenon. For much of my life the only things that could make me cry were fights with my parents, pain, or myself. I never understood this wishy-washy crying at weddings, or sad television shows, or depressing commercials from charity groups looking for donations. Until about a year ago, I had to be angry to cry. And then, (DEEP DARK SECRET SPOILER ALERT) I started watching The Biggest Loser. Without fail, an episode of The Biggest Loser will make me cry. Now, the whole Biggest Loser business was probably a lot less important than the coinciding realization that for the first time in my life someone I was in love with was slipping away from me. I have thought I was in love at least three times (though only with two people), but in the last year I've realized I was only ever really in love once (I suppose that's really the deep dark secret, and anyone who knows me knows who but probably not when). Being in love (and, more importantly, knowing it) made me feel things. I would assert that it is because at some point while one is falling in love, one must realize that they do not decide the fate of that transaction. Somehow placing your heart and your happiness in the hands of someone else is terrifically empowering to let you feel.
I suppose I started musing about this because, at Fran's memorial last weekend, I cried. I'm sure normal people are sitting here going "well, yeah, of course you cried, it was a funeral," but that isn't how I work. Perhaps only two or three of my friends have ever seen me cry and if they have probably only once or twice. I'm not quite sure yet how I feel about this new phenomenon because on one hand I feel weak and on another I feel more compassionate. Then I realized that's exactly how being in love feels. You're weaker, and you have less control, but you are given an incredible ability to care for someone else. It's a little different than just loving a friend of a family member; yes, I'd probably take a bullet for those people, but for different reasons. I'm friends with who I chose, and my family, though not choosable, I get to select who I am close to. Who I'm in love with, though, that falls in the hands of the cosmos, and karma, and fate. Being in love is also intriguing in that I don't think it has a prerequisite of being completely mutual. I doubt you can be in love with someone who never has and will never be in love with you, but I don't think two people are necessarily always in love with each other at the same time.
Anyway, I cry now (mostly when my grandmother does ridiculous, radical things like say she wishes Fran were reading at her memorial; selfish of not, I'm 17 and it would be a lot harder for me to live without one of my best friends than for a one year old to live without someone she's never know and won't miss surrounded by an undeniable amount of love from people who step up to fill the void).

Get Well Soon

I permanently operate under the assumption that I do not get sick; I mean I do NOT get sick, ever. Quite frankly, this is far from valid, I'm probably sick just as much as the next person, but mysteriously the thinking you aren't helps a lot. It seems to be something of an old wive's tale that one can think their way healthy, but it genuinely works for me. I wake up congested with a sore throat and promptly decide that I am not sick. Within a few hours I feel fine and it doesn't resurface. However, since this tends to work so well, on the rare occasion that I do get truly sick (once every few years), I'm insanely reluctant to accept or address it. For example, I am currently completely convinced that I'm having a weird seasonalish allergic reaction to something in my house (I just visited from college for five days for Thanksgiving). Unfortunately, my thinking I'm fine isn't getting me as far as it usually does. I've felt under the weather for four days and been back at school for one. Cognitively, I'm aware that I probably have a cold, but I will persistently continue to not accept that reality. I have allergies. That is all. Deal with it. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Adventures

I've decided you can't come home from college for more than three days and less than two weeks. You get back into the relaxed groove of home and just as you're starting to love it again, you go back to the monotonous, rumble-tumble, no-sleep, neither here nor there life which is college. About 99 percent of me desperately just wants to crawl into my own bed again tonight and sleep till the ends of eternity, the other one percent, though, wants to get back as soon as I can to get the next 19 days done as soon as I can so I can have that break.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Perch

So there's this fabulous little student-run coffee shop on the bottom floor of my dorm called the Perch. It is open from eight in the evening till two in the morning every day. This was a super good scheduling call on the part of the Perch people. I have had many a deep conversation at college, but, without a doubt, about 80 percent of them have taken place late at night in the Perch when I probably should have been doing homework. The other day I was talking to a friend who wants to be involved in politics about the policy changes I would need to see from him to sign on as a campaign manager or press coordinator and it just sort of struck me: in 15 or 20 years, how many people will be looking back on nights spent in the Perch (or other little places people have found at college) thinking that that is where it all began. How many beginnings of great ideas am I surrounded by when I sip the hot cocoa of the Gods at one on a Tuesday night (Wednesday morning?). People talk about how if you were in Silicon Valley at the right time you were surrounded by innumerable genius minds coming up with ideas that would shape the future, but how many of us are really going to get a chance to be a part of something like that. I think that at American, in DC, right now, we may be part of something, or maybe that's just my naivete talking. Maybe I'm just still young enough to think anyone can actually have a meaningful impact on the course of the world.

Drunken Spectacles

There is literally a period from 12 to 3 on weekend nights when I go out to roam the halls just to check out all the amusing things the drunk people are doing. Highlights: getting told it was super hot that I was having sex in the shower (this did not actually happen despite intoxicated individuals thinking it did), getting begged at, "don't hate me," by my class president's girlfriend, getting half-tackled by a boy who, earlier in the night, dove on a beer pong table and spent the rest of the night covered in beer, and hearing my very straight-edge RA yell "I swear to God, I'm going to kick his ass," at one of the few sober people on the floor (albeit, he's annoying sober or drunk).
Also, one of my friends is sleeping on my extraneous mattress because he has been sexiled, and, just before we went to sleep he lept up and ran to the bathroom to "get there before it got thrown up all over." This was probably a good call on his part, but only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Untitled but Remembered

I can remember my grandma telling me, somewhat jokingly, when I was little that she knew she was old when her friends started to die. She told me that, one day, I would feel that, too. But I doubt she had my seventeen-year-old self in mind. Yet, I have only experienced the loss of one person my age. That was hard, but somehow, losing people who I am close to who are also much closer to an age at which it is appropriate to die, has been astronomically harder. Perhaps it is because those who we expect to die soon we have much longer periods to accumulate sadness for than those who die suddenly. Two people I have dearly respected have died in the last six months, one of whom I considered almost a grandmother and one of whom I considered a hero. Mortality has never troubled me greatly; I'm not worried about souls or people being forgotten, but I am worried about making sure the people who didn't get to know these women know what they did. My surrogate grandmother died at five this morning and my grandmother, mother, and I have been charged with finishing her present to her newborn granddaughter. We are building a dollhouse, because Meredith needs to know her grandmother and know how much she was loved.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Self-Image Project


video

This is a project recently assigned for my Visual Literacy class. We had to make a compilation of images about us. Our professor said he was always surprised by how revealing they were. So, this is me. And a lot of it is insanely personal, but there's no reason anyone but me would understand any of it. Also, this is perhaps my favorite song ever (it happens to be by Girlyman, Ty wrote it).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Art of Seduction

In general, I would assert that throwing one's self on another human is kind of, lets face it, trashy. Recently, I have been confronted with one particular man that seems to get people throwing themselves at him all the time, I may even be a tad guilty (though, to clarify, I'm distinctly uninterested). I've met three such guys in my life, at least that I know of, that are great, but in no way, physically or otherwise, completely irresistible (I feel I can say this because I have had a crush on all of them at some point). I never fail to be baffled by these seemingly ordinary men constantly having the attractions of an obscene number of women. One I have dated and two have been best friends. Two are also bisexual. All of these things continue to puzzle me. At any rate, one of them I've been spending a lot of time getting to know recently, and he has now been dubbed an "accidental man-whore" because of all the girls he has circling around him. What I find especially fascinating about these guys it that they rarely seem to recognize that their experiences are, in any way, not normative. So, the men are intriguing, but the women command equal intrigue. When one knows a guy is, for lack of a better term, a man-whore, why would one continue to pursue them? Why is it that we find so attractive something that will, inevitably, cheat on us or break our hearts in some other manner? 

Grace

One of my friends just mentioned how she liked that my blog had this title because, even though it is thoroughly unrelated, Grace also happens to be my best friend's name. This got me to thinking about one of my long standing life philosophies which I thought I'd better share. Another best friend told me many years ago that he had always thought that the person you were supposed to end up with, life would give you a lot of chances to find. Now, I am not remotely traditionally religious, but I consider myself very spiritual, and I am still toying with my personal beliefs about fate, but I truly like and believe that statement. The world will give you as many chances as you need to get things right even if it isn't how you initially planned them. While this was referring to love, I find it has quite broad applications. Grace, for instance, came up in these to scenarios. I also have a particular affinity for the number 17 or 7 specifically. It makes it a lot easier to take full advantage of the world around you knowing that there will always be more opportunities.  

Pit Bulls

I will say upfront that I'm fuming as I write this, but rather than start a shouting match it seemed appropriate to complain to the readers of the blogosphere. I don't understand why people are voluntarily mean-spirited without any provocation.

I have returned since I originally wrote those first few sentences now that I am less angry. Basically, my mom made a Facebook status about how it's sad that people don't adopt pit bulls and think they're vicious when really that mostly comes down to the way they are trained. So then this lady, comments that her husband is a doctor and they see so many pit bull bites and that the dogs deserve all the scrutiny they get. While it may be true in some places that pit bulls cause a lot of bites (locally, it is not), that wasn't the point of the post. So I commented that I the spirit of the original post was good-spirited and she should just let it be, at which point this individual commented again about how much damage pit bulls do and how mean they are. I have met plenty nice pit bulls, and I have come across some mean ones. That isn't the point. The point is that my mom made the post to be nice and bring up an issue. It doesn't matter if you disagree, what on earth would inspire someone to be that rude and mean-spirited, especially on Facebook. If I see a post, unless it is truly offensive (it which case it is probably a better idea to message the poster and let them know it may not be appropriate), that I disagree with I just ignore it. I don't understand why anyone would go out of their way to make the poster feel bad for trying to make a nice comment.

Anyways, I was troubled.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Poverty Project

In US Society a few days ago, we were talking about the social construction of poverty. Now, that's interesting but not a huge shocker to me. What was a shocker was this simulation, playspent.org. It makes you make financial decisions for a single mom and child for a month and kicks you out of the game if you run out of money. You have to talk a month. The game lasts about fifteen minutes and is insanely stressful. Don't feel bad, everyone kills the dog.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Girlyman

My journey with Girlyman started a little over four years ago, on the eve of my first day of high school, when I heard them open for the Indigo Girls at Wolftrap. Now, I was pretty unenthused for this concert to begin with as we were going with my ex-aunt, who I severely dislike. I got into a few of Girlyman's songs for at least their duration, but I think the experience was overwhelmingly eclipsed by my general indifference to the title act and a reasonable amount of anxiety about the day to come. I never thought to think about how deeply I had emotionally connected with the music (a point which is now critical for my appreciation of an artist or song). At any rate, at least six months later I still had this song, "Reva Thereafter," stuck in my head. I could remember the chorus, that the guy had sung it, and that it was about his grandma. I couldn't forget this song, and so the quest began. I told my mom I wanted the album with "Reva" on it. Low and behold, my mom gave me Joyful Sign, for Christmas. Thus marks our true anniversary. Since then, I have seen the band live three times (one of which was a few hours ago), and own all but one of their albums (and, yes, I pre-ordered the upcoming one, Supernova). On another note, music has always spoken deeply to me. I can't help but sing along at the top of my lungs anytime something I know is on and dance like I ought to be institutionalized. I have also played violin for nine years. There is, of couse, some specific music that has always particularly appealed to me. Probably fostered by my parents playing Tracy Chapman and Mark Chapin Carpenter, acoustic and folk sounds have always been a soft spot. Anyway, I love Girlyman's sound, rapport, and message. At first I just loved the songs, and then I came to realize that I lived all the songs. In my 17 years I have managed to be in two incredibly serious relationships (one two and half years and one at least that though probably closer to four) and I have gotten to feel all the pain of a 13 year old in love. Girlyman speaks to me in this. It has also informed an incredible amount of my transition from an awkward teenager to self-confidant young adult. Girlyman is about anything and everything, it is about life and living, loving and laughing. So I feel this odd bond to these three (well, four now) people who have taught me so much of who I am but who I have only exchanged a maximum of 100 words with ever. Last year, on November 19, I saw Girlyman perform at the Barns at Wolftrap. Nate, Ty, and JJ were joking about how Dorris had gotten sick on their UK tour and was refusing to let go of her last piece of Britain. About ten days later, Dorris was diagnosed with leukemia. Well, tonight, November 3, I saw Girlyman at the Brans at Wolftrap. Dorris is officially cancer-free. So not only have these people changed my life, I have also been a part of this incredible journey for them, if only through passionately singing along to their music literally everyday driving to and from school. I don't know that I, personally, would have survived high school remotely as intact if I hadn't had that outlet for happiness, sadness, anger, and everything in between. It's remarkable that I will cry with these people I don't know just as soon as I would laugh with them. Somehow, something is communicated through those harmonies that is deeper than a long friendship and more unbreakable than blood. The really sad part is, that connection, it only goes one way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ethics

So I’m sort of debating how closely the journalistic ethics of writing for a college magazine should mirror actual journalistic ethics. I’m writing a story and I had a few sources for some information that it mildly embarrassing for some members of our school community. I anted to ask someone a little closer to the issue so I did and he verified, but I knew he probably wouldn’t like that I was including it in the article. Now, I didn’t quite him or even add any of the extra details he gave me so in my mind this guy is a verification. I already had a source. But then another friend of mine (coincidently the original source) said “You didn’t tell him?!?!” I don’t really see a problem with this; I think it is an issue people ought to know about and it doesn’t bother me that I wanted to make sure I was getting it straight before I published it. However, I know that, had I told him my intention and he had gotten upset that the incident would be published, I would have felt too bad about it to include it in the article. Dilemmas.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Room


I totally expected to miss my room and my things, but oddly I don't. I've only had a few moments when I wished I had something an that was usually to make my life easier rather than for a sentimental value. Then, the other day, I started looking through my old pictures and found photos I have of my room and at first I felt sad, but then I realized I didn't need to be because I can obviously look at it even here. Now, maybe everyone else doesn't creepily document their life like I do, but that just sucks for them I guess. I get to live here, and have my life there with me all the time. That's less metaphysical than it sounds, I promise.

Part of a Whole

We are all parts of a whole, together, fall on us
Ready for duty, fall on us
The drama queen
Long flowing hair like royalty
Putting on a show that sends a smile
Bouncy and booming
A glorious distraction from a gloomy day
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Exciting and vibrant, fall on us
The goof ball
Upside down on a bedroom floor with eyeballs rolling back
Silly little girl
Innocent and so naive
Always an opportunity for a laugh
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Ridiculous and raving, fall on us
The eloquence of fun
Ready for playing around but a quiet, open listener
A large cushioned pillow to cry on or poke as need dictates
Screaming and silent
A girl’s best friend
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Strong and faithful, fall on us
The baby
Daddy’s cute, button-nosed sweetheart
Soft and caring
A trickling stream rather than a raging river, yet still flowing steadily
A perky face to lift up spirits
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Fresh and blooming, fall on us
The small
Quiet and meek
Addicted to the intense, sweet flavor of life
Self-judging, clinging, self-absorbed
A pick-me-up by sheer comparison
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Lonely and sobbing, fall on us
The shy, compassionate one
Patient, aware, sympathetic, and loving
A nurturing mother to all her tiny babies
Concerned fibers coursing through the veins near a prematurely bleeding heart
A helping hand
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Understanding and passionate, fall on us
The rebellious conservative
Crazy and outgoing yet still grasping “values”
Preaching purity, but only accomplishing perjury
Enjoying life in secret shadows of unknown hiding places
Ready to drag others along on a risky ride
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Radical and reckless, fall on us
The dreamer
Reading and writing and learning and exploring
Desperate to eradicate minute injustices
Primed to take on massive, menacing armies just to maintain sanity
Inspiring belief in a cause
We are all parts of a whole, fall on us
Determined and selfless, fall on us
We represent not many but one
Containing all aspects of well-rounded humanity
On each other we will always fall
And together we remain as the ashes settle
The petals of a gorgeous, budding rose
Preparing for the turmoil and glory life will, in turn, bring us
Separately and as a cohesive being
My life, my love, my heroines
We stand, fight, and die as one army
One superpower the world will have to reckon with
Mine to fall on as I will stand my watch
Ready for the bursting flares sent by a wounded sister in the darkness
We are all parts of a whole, we respond as one to the battle cry of . . . ourself

Reasons

They tell me everything happens for a reason 
and I don't know if that's True. 
but I do know that everything that happens 
profoundly affects Us, 
that the people who touch our lives 
that have such a Magical gift 
are usually the people who are in that life most briefly 
a single chance to change the course of history 
to rewrite a story--for better or worse 
and we owe it to those People who 
Form our beings at the core, 
who guide us, 
or make us Think 

we Owe them our lives 

and thus we are all charged: 
to touch some Small life, 
in some Small way. 
a whisper in the Darkness 
or a shout through turmoil. 
that maybe, just Maybe 
they can know 
what we have had the Fortune to know 
and we see that it Is 
for a Reason 
very far off and indefinite 
and yet so close and defined 
that maybe, just Maybe 

we can come to Know ourselves 

College

So I've realized that the difference between college and high school is not necessarily the difficulty level, but rather, it is about the sustainment of the intensity level of work. In high school, you had a big project and then not so much for a week or two or three, whereas, here, they keep coming and coming and coming. Unfortunately, it took me four weeks to nice this. The first few weeks I operated under the same principle, so once I finished something I didn't feel super inspired to do anything else challenging for about a day. Wrong. The second most important realization was articulated to me by Meredith, our fabulous AUUU leader, but is only beginning to sink in. She said at some point you have to accept that everything isn't getting done. Not gonna lie, I'm just not there yet. This potentially stems largely from a slightly OCD need stay organized and on time and together, but I just can't "let go" of doing all my work. Don't get me wrong, I get behind, but I feel perpetually compelled to catch up; this may or may not help me in the long run.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Fall

I suppose this happens remarkably frequently, whether I like it or not, but I am mesmerized, shockes, compelled, and horrified every time someone I have idolized has a, so-called, fall from grace. The first time I really noticed it was when one of my best friends first told me he had had sex (I think he was sixteen at the time), and then proceeded to tell me how much sex he had: a lot. Quite honestly, I don't really care how much sex anyone is having as long as they feel good about what they're doing and the people that they are engaging with feel mutually, and to his credit, this particular friend was having sex for perfectly fine reasons with a perfectly willing accomplice. And even knowing all that, it still bothered me. I'd spent so much of my life looking up to him, it was hard to imagine a world where he was making decisions I didn't agree with and wouldn't follow. Don't get me wrong, I have no issue with my friend himself, it was more that the circumstance appalled me. It was right up there with realizing mommy can't always fix everything (although I've come full circle on that and, as I'm about to turn eighteen, I'm confident mommy can come pretty damn close to fixing everything). Anyway, I recently encountered another fall from grace. My entire youth group has been madly in love with one of our advisors since before I can remember. He's the coolest guy ever with an insana amount of enthusiasm and an even insaner commitment to us. A few month ago he went into the hospital for complications related to his diabetes. More recently I have come to find out that, these "complications" have a lot more to do with alcohol abuse and depression than they do diabestes. And so another falls like Lucifer.

Sunrise

I've oddly never really slept much at sleepovers. I mean I guess we ought to call it something other than a sleepover now; I'm crashing here or staying over there. Either way, I'm visiting a friend at college and he boyfriend has a futon in his room so we all just stayed in there rather than split up. Coincidently, everyone else got wasted and is dead asleep. I, however, who don't sleep at sleepovers, am sitting up in this guys room. One is grunting, one snoring, one sleep talking, one showering, and one out for a run so even with everyone else sleeping on and off it's been an interesting night. But bottom line, I'm watching the sunrise through his window and it's amazingly surreal. Everything is so peaceful and I'm mysteriously not tired, although I'll probably need a good solid nap today if we are going out tonight. Anyway, thought I'd share my cute little moment with the sunrise.

More Juxtaposition

I've come to the conclusion that I either move to fast or too slow; I either get interested in a guy after knowing them for a few hours or I'm friends with them for a few years before they get really appealing. Currently experiencing both at the same time. Met a guy last night who is super cool and, while everyone else was sleeping, we had a really nice chat about cats and Dexter and life. Oddly, he violates one of my few ABSOLUTE rules of dating; he's potentially shorter than me, we may just be the same height. I think I probably would have kissed him if I hadn't know that he'd never kissed a girl before. I really apologize to anyone who has to deal with my baggage in a first relationship. But anyway, semi-simultaneously, I'm also falling for my ex again (not that this is a particularly rare occurrence). However, this time has been a little different, with me refusing to just fall back into the way things are whenever we're both single, which is all kinds of up in each others' business. Anyway, the guy I just met I'll probably barely ever see again, except he did say that "the next time we hang out..." we should *insert activity I don't honestly remember*. Yeah, good times. I'm still just naive enough to think this time might be different.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Remembered

Remembering those we've lost is always a quiet, sad affair. On Saturday, I was at the Newseum and many of the exhibits noted the loss of lives in and around media, but there is a special exhibit reserved for such recognition. That is disquieting enough, but what was even more disturbing was the huge open space in the wall below the listed names, clearly for names to come. Obviously, this is reasonable. It is ridiculous to assume that no more human life will be lost in the pursuit of open communication, but is it not equally ridiculous to essentially accept it. Shouldn't it be an atrocity every single time a human life? Apparently not, apparently it is just another engraving on a wall to know. Maybe the argument is that it is much more cost-effective to build with an anticipation of future needs, this is an appropriate planning technique when building any structure for a growing capacity. But then I think all we're saying is that their life isn't worth having to make a new wall, and every life, every single life, is worth more than any damn wall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good Things Don't End Unless They End Badly

The wise words of Ben, the runner up on the Bachelorette after his proposal was turned down on national television. At first I thought this assessment seemed rather stupid, but the more I consider it, the truer it becomes. If things are good they don't end and consequently any ending that did occur would be the decision of one party within the good thing, making it bad for all other involved parties and then, by association, bad for the whole. You may say that sometimes good things end amicably or on an otherwise positive note, but I would argue that this only occurs when said good thing is ending as a way to create an opportunity for a thing that is even better. However, then I got to thinking that, in the event that something is ending badly, perhaps then we know that it was, at some time, a good thing for at least some of the parties involved. Because if it wasn't good for anyone, no one would be around to make its end bad. Even if this isn't a particularly scrutable theory, I like it, because it gives me a little faith that some of things that have ended rather poorly in my life have at least been measurably good in some manner. It makes me happier to think that life and people may, in the end, tend toward good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not Ready to Make Nice

So, remember that controversy with the Dixie Chicks a few years ago when one member said something about not all Americans being pro-Iraq War or pro-Bush. Most radio stations stopped playing any of their music and they received hate mail from people all over the country. Then they wrote the song "Not Ready to Make Nice" in response to being told they needed to just smooth over the whole situation. Anyway, there is a line in that song that goes "it's a sad, sad story when a mother will teach her daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger." I reminded me of a class I was sitting in yesterday when a girl said that she doesn't understand why we afford constitutional rights to suspected terrorists. Her argument was that they clearly don't respect our constitution and therefore shouldn't be afforded its protections. Um, maybe because we don't want to be a crazy totalitarian regime? Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but seriously. If we, as a society if not as individuals, espouse the ideals of treating everyone with respect and equity, why would we not uphold those values? Especially if we expect to be respected within the international community, we have to engage in our dealings fairly. But beyond that, it concerns me that anyone would be confused about what is right. Or maybe that isn't the issue, maybe people just don't feel innately obligated to do what they think is right. Then again that concerns me even more.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Out of Africa

In fifth grade, I got really interested in this country in Africa that I'd never heard of before, The Democratic Republic of the Congo. I don't know how I happened upon it, but I started doing research on it and brought two friends on board. We eventually told one of our teachers what we were up to and, low and behold, she used to teach karate at a studio where one of the other instructors was from DRC. We quickly met Puma (not his real name, but no one can pronounce what it actually is) and became very involved with his organization, Able and Willing International Education Foundation (seriously, a great organization, I encourage you to check it out). Able and Willing builds schools around Puma's region because the school in the city are too far away for young kids to get to and usually too expensive for their parents to enroll them. Puma's school is open to everyone, very cheap, and provides scholarships. In fact, Able and Willing just opened a second school and got them internet connected. Anyway, after volunteering at events for the organization for a while, PUma invited Emily, Hanne, Ms. Venus, and I to cone work building one of the schools one summer. Now, we were sixth graders and didn't really think about what this would involve or the dangers we should be aware of. We started fleshing out plans, that we would travel only with a large group of adult and mainly male members of Able and Willing, that Ms. Venus would accompany us and we would always stick together, that I would eat pretty much nothing but tuna (DRC food involves peanuts or peanut butter in about 80 percent of the dishes and I'm allergic to nuts and peanuts), that we would fly in and stay for between two weeks and a month, that we would stay near the capital (where there is less violence than more rural areas), and that we would begin to learn French (their colonized language). Ms. Venus started teaching us French and we continued to make plans and learn more about the country. Turns out, the country got more violent and less safe for three pre-teen girls and we couldn't go, but it was my first taste of Africa. I have no African heritage, in fact I'm pretty hardcore Scottish, but I am in love with Africa. Our romance is a song with many harmonies. The scenery is one, and perhaps the loudest is my grand notion that it is a place where I could make a difference. But the harmonies are only gentle support to an ever-beating melody. Africa's melody is its spirit. It is hard to describe, but you can glimpse it between smiling women in bright headdresses, running children, and loud, definitive music. Africa is not quiet, because even when it sleeps the spirit whispers. It is a song of passion and heartbreak and togetherness. For an assignment in my Visual Literacy class we have to pick the best scene ever in a movie. I chose The Last King of Scotland. It embodies the power of Africa, and also its sorrow. Watching it, I fell in love again and I hear the song echoing in my head, calling me to a place which is neither my homeland or heartland, and yet feels like both home and heart.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Weekends

It's the first weekend after classes have started and boy, what an adventure. Mostly, I babysit drunk people. And that sounds pretty bad, but they're generally really amusing, for example one guy always wants to cuddle and one girl spent all of Friday night trying to take her shirt off because, she argued, that she would look cuter topless than the boys. That is true, and was our justification for making her keep it on. She also really wanted to play with scissors, which we deemed dangerous. I've gone to bed at about five in the morning the last few nights due to the resulting drama, but that's ok because I DIDN'T HAVE ANY HOMEWORK. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I came to college for this. So we played board games and watched movies and drank hot cocoa and Jon (different Jon for those who keep up with this blog, a new one who is a good friend at AU) made shrimp risotto for us. It was delicious. Now I'm hanging out in my room with Hope, who just got moved into her new apartment in DC. Hopefully next week involves less drama, it may even involve a date with a cute Indian boy, or maybe just helping my friends stalker make cupcakes for her, you never know.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Among the Stars

So there's this guy. I didn't really expect to like him, but I think it may be the quickest connection I've ever had with someone. We have only chatted on Skype a few times and gone on a group-date, but I'm already caught up in it. Mostly, that's because of how willing he is to be an idiot and laugh at himself. This was particularly evident in an encounter last night. So after we each got home from dinner, we got online and I told him I love singing and/or people singing to me. Side note: He is mostly deaf, completely tone deaf, and generally follows conversation by lipreading rather than trying to rely on his hearing aid. So anyway, he said he would sing for me. He proceeded to attempt a terrible falsetto with accompanying dancing, head bopping, and signing. We just sat there laughing for about five minutes and then he started to teach me some of the signs he used in the song. (I learned voice, sorry, and remember; and confirmed a few others, like penis, sit, and name.) So I thought that would be the end of that, but he seemed to really enjoy how amused I was so we went on like that for almost half an hour; him singing, me sometimes singing along and trying to copy his signing. I felt like an annoying awestruck child making him show me signs over and over while I practiced them. I realized part way in that he may have been offended that I was focusing so much on his "disability," but I was just genuinely really intrigued. And I was also mesmerized by his ability to completely make a fool of himself. It was lovely.

Monday, August 1, 2011

No Concept of Infidels

I was reading a poem, "Everywoman Her Own Theology," for a Women's Studies class and it is the personal story of a woman creating her own spiritual journey. One line in the poem is that her new theology will have "no concept of infidels." What a beautiful theory.
And not as though it is unheard of. My entire life I have been raised in a religion that denounces the idea of "infidel" and yet that line struck me as something I had never notices before. But mostly it struck me because the line was not that there would be know infidels but rather that the concept of being a traitor to belief does not even exist because, admittedly, even though I was raised thinking that no one was an infidel to my religion, I certainly knew what they were and acknowledged that, to many, I was one. It seems as though it should be a lot easier to forget about heretics if once you were a heretic and then I realize that at sometime, somewhere, everyone has been. Yet we still fall dangerously into the whirlpool of hate. Its an odd world out there, and, as far as I'm concerned, lends itself much more to pessimism, like it or not.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The End of the Beginning

Tuesday will begin my last 20 days of high school. I think I'm supposed to feel something about that – excited, terrified – but no, nothing. And I don't mean I feel indifferent, I just entirely lack a feeling. I want to be excited, I just can't muster the feeling. I committed to American University Thursday night. Everyone is very excited. I'm pleased; I truly love the school. 
This is a bit of a recurring issue in my life. I never am as excited as I think I should be. I watch my peers and their families react to college acceptances and I think I ought to be as thrilled as they are, but I'm not. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy, I'm ready. However, I'm not quite as happy. 
I'm also getting tired of people saying they "been there" or that I "think that now" because, honestly, I don't much care if I'm wrong, but I want to figure that out on my own. Only so much of what you must learn you can be taught, the rest you have to fall on you face and cry a little for. 
In nine days I start AP tests. In 23, I finish them. Also in 23 days, I will attend prom with a boy (currently undecided). In 40 days, I will graduate from Governor Thomas Johnson High School after 12 years in the Frederick County Public School System. In four months, I will move into my dorm in Letts Hall in D.C. In three years, I will graduate from American University and then God only knows what.