Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bitch, I Can Accomplish More Than One Thing

I’m not sure if I’m staying angry so that I can write this, or if I’m really still furious. I was definitely furious half an hour ago though, of that I am certain.

I teach a section of a class at Campbell called the Campbell University Freshman Seminar (CUFS). It’s basically just a required class for freshmen about how to succeed in college. To be a teacher of this class, I attend meetings every other week with all the other student teachers and we learn teaching strategies and styles etc. Tonight was one of those meetings.

Tonight’s meeting was about Stress Management, and Goal Setting. Stress Management was really fun: we did breathing exercises, listened to music, and colored. Then came Goal Setting, which involved The Stoplight "Game."

We were each given fifteen sticky notes (five green, five red, five yellow). On the red, we were to write things we want to stop doing next semester; on the green, things we want to start doing; on the yellow, things we want to keep doing.

At first it was hard to come up with things, but once the juices got flowing, I really enjoyed the activity. Visualizing my goals made me feel more productive and capable.

Then we lay all the sticky notes in front of us.

“All right,” Carrie, the leader, said. “Now, take away five of them. If you had to give up five goals for next semester, which ones would you discard?”

Ugh, that sucked after working so hard to pick really important things. I was annoyed.

“All right,” Carrie said. “Look at these ten things. These are the ten things you most want to be sure to do next semester.” We all nodded. “Okay, now take away five more.”

Now it just wasn’t cool. I stared at my goals, things like “Make Time for Creative Writing,” “Read my Bible Every Day,” and “Work Out More Consistently” and felt genuinely persecuted as I had to strip five more away. Who was this bitch to tell me that I could only accomplish five damn things next semester?

I still had seven when she beamed at the group again. “All right, now that you have five in front of you—” (“I still have seven,” I muttered to my small group as I finally stripped away "Stop Putting Off Getting Started" and "Start Writing Letters Again") “—I want you to take away two more.”

I glared at her. Wow. Now I had to take away “Blogging” and “Getting the Hard Stuff Done First” (an awesome strategy I’ve somehow just recently bought into).

“Now,” she said. “You guessed it. What if you could only have one goal in front of you? Discard two more. What is the most important thing to you?”

“Wow,” I muttered to my small group. “Obviously ‘Send Out My Resume and Get a Real Job” is the one thing that has to stay. I have to get a job.”

I stared at that little green sticky note which—just minutes ago—had held promise and productivity and passion, and I hated it. I hated its dirty fucking soul.

I had watched my colorful and well-rounded array of life goals boil down to “Hey Bitch. Get your ‘real’ life together.” I had watched goals like “Start Writing Letters Again,” “Eat Healthier,” and “Hang Out With My Roommates” get stripped away because they weren’t “as important” as practical or obligatory shit like “Read My Bible Every Day” (sorry, Jesus, I love doing that. I honestly do. Which is why it was fucking stupid to make me discard it) and “Send Out My Resume.”

It’s just not fair. Seriously, who is this bitch who thinks I can only accomplish one damn thing?!

We then had to continue this activity by sharing with the group and making a timeline for achievement, complete with intermediate goals. As people shared, they had fun insights like “My number one ended up being ‘Get Organized,’ and it’s funny because I realized that if I just get organized, I’ll actually achieve my number two and three goals, which were ‘Study More’ and ‘Sleep More.’”

“Great!” Carrie would say. “That’s great! That’s exactly right. Isn’t it cool how you figure out that by achieving your ultimate goal, a lot of the little things fall into place!”

Except that I actually arranged my goals so that they didn’t overlap like that. ALL of my goals were individually important.

“This might be a fun activity to do with your classes,” Carrie said. “We’re happy to provide sticky notes if you want to come by the office and grab some!”

I will set my classroom on fire before I subject my beloved freshmen to this, I thought.

See, I understand the purpose of the activity. It was to help us prioritize, and that part WAS really interesting. (So interesting that I’m actually going to end this post with my goals in order.) It just also depressed me completely.

Why would you make me come up with things I want to do with my life, then direct me to discard everything that adds color and joy and personality, because—sorry—they can’t realistically make the cut because I’d rather “Start Working Out” than “Start Writing Letters Again.” First of all, that makes me feel like a really shitty person when you make me visually depict the fact that I guess I care more about how I look than keeping in touch with people? Except that I don’t think I’m a shitty person (at least not because of that). I think I can do both of those things perfectly well. Back the fuck off and let me keep my goals.

I know I sound like I’m getting way, way, irrationally angry about this. And maybe I am. Maybe I’m just PMSing. But I just think it’s really painful and unhelpful to make a college senior reduce her life to “Get a Job, Bitch.” But maybe that’s just me.

We shoulda done the Stress Management Workshop last.
15. Clearing Out My Email Inbox Regularly
14. Meeting Up with My CUFS Kids/Keeping in Touch with Them
13. Wasting So Much Time on Facebook

12. Letting My Room Get So Messy
11. Assuming People Don’t Remember Me
10. Hanging Out with My Roommates
9. Eating So Much Junk Food
8. Making Time for Creative Writing
7. Writing Letters Again
6. Stopping Putting off Getting Started
5. Doing the “Hard” Stuff First
4. Blogging
3. Reading My Bible Every Day
2. Working Out More Consistently
1. Sending Out Job Applications/Resume


Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Small Breakdown

I had a small breakdown today.

My roommate and I went to see the play "Anne of Green Gables" this afternoon. I LOVED those movies as a kid. We have the entire movie series on VHS and I think I can probably still quote whole sections even though I haven't seen them in years.

Actually, before the play, I hadn't even THOUGHT about the story lately: the story of a little orphan girl with an unparalleled imagination, a big mouth, and dreams of authorship. I forgot how much Anne felt like childhood, felt like a legitimate part of MY identity, felt like home. Anne found a home in Green Gables, and I found my home today in her.

Suddenly I remembered how inspired I would get when I watched movies set in "olden days." I would start getting up at 7am and making my bed and eating an "old-fashioned" breakfasts and doing my chores right away and trying to wear dresses. I would make vows like ones Anne would make, about being a more conscientious person. I would try to be Polite and Well-Mannered and Hospitable.

Then my stomach started to sink with the startling realization that I am sort of grown up. There will not ever be another time when I can wake up and reinvent myself while my mom actually keeps my real life spinning. I actually DO have to get up at 7am and do my chores, because no one else is going to do them for me. I can't just lose myself in whatever pretend game I want anymore. I have to live my own, actual, real life.

And then--at the time it somehow seemed directly related to the above--I got really homesick. Lately I've been plagued by a gnawing feeling of homelessness. The couch and chair in my apartment living room are SINFULLY uncomfortable (the arms are bony, the leather seats stick to your skin, and the cushions come out the moment your ass touches them). My room is always messy because 1) it's small and 2) I never have the time or energy to keep it neat. Our kitchen sink is too shallow to wash dishes in and we don't have enough counter space to cook real food comfortably. My apartment does not feel like home.

But Gem's dorm is even worse. He's in your typical freshman dorm:  roommate, cinder block walls, loud AC unit, muggy as hell (the dehumidifier they just bought collects TWO GALLONS of water a day), and his bed is all the way lofted. You cannot sit up in bed at all. You're like 18 inches from the ceiling. It is like living in a prison cell. A humid, humid prison cell.

So, naturally, Home--my parents' house--is where my mind wistfully wandered.

Except that "Home" doesn't feel right anymore either. It has actually just started to feel like "my parents' house." Sure, it's familiar and the couch is comfy and the sink is deep and the counter space is fantastic and Mom's cooking is delicious and my room is clean (mostly because I don't live there anymore) and I can sit up in my bed, but...I don't know. It doesn't feel like a place where my soul is relaxed and snuggled up in a blanket anymore. It feels a little bit empty.

Although I'd give anything to be there now, of course. I really miss my family. I miss Mom's cooking and our inside jokes and her just "GETTING" me. I miss hearing Daddy's newest philosophical and political insights and going to the antique store with him and letting him show me his latest woodworking project. I haven't seen my sister in...a really long time. I don't even know when I saw her last. She pretty much just stays at college. She doesn't even respond to my texts, much less text me on her own.

But anyway. "Anne of Green Gables" made my heart and my throat ache with homesickness. And then my brain engaged and snorted at me:  Homesick? For where? Where is your home? And I didn't even know what to say.

My parents' house isn't Home anymore, and yet, I can't imagine feeling at home without my parents. This whole semester I've been excited to graduate and make my own "home": an apartment with all my books and my clothes and kitchen utensils where I cook food and watch TV and sleep and live real life. I've been so ready and so excited to make my own home.

But now I'm afraid that nowhere will ever feel like home, that I am incapable of creating "Home" by myself. I don't know how to do that. I'm afraid I'll always be a little homesick.

And I just started crying, right there in the play, right there in the dark theater house.

I'm not crying anymore, but I do feel lost and confused. What does Home really mean, anyway? Where Gem is? Where my books are? Where the damn couch cushions don't scoot out?

If I ever figure it out, I'm sure I'll let you know.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Songs on Repeat These Days



"Talking Dogs" These guys are great, by the way. You should check them out! My friend Alex Mckee is the lead singer and guitar player.

"The Hills"


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Debunked: Omg The Lion King is Hamlet

Tomorrow night I am going to see a live-streamed version of the play Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Be jealous.

In honor of getting to see my favorite play of all time, I would like to address a popular myth that absolutely fries me. It is the myth of

"Omg The Lion King is totes a retelling of Hamlet"

I would like to unmask this ridiculous falsehood by replying

"Bitch no it is not"

And, of course, providing evidence to that effect. So here we go.

WARNING: SPOILERS. I assume you know the story of The Lion King and don't mind some ruined "surprises" in Hamlet, but I believe there is a special circle of Hell reserved for people who spoil stories, and I am all about not going to Hell. So proceed at your own risk.

Similarities Between Disney's The Lion King and William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1. Both stories revolve around royalty. Congratulations, you have identified two works that feature royal families. This is only like one of THE MOST common elements in literature, and basically the MAIN element in classic Disney.

2. In both stories, the uncles kill the fathers in order to take the crown for themselves. This is a much better parallel, but, again, it's a common theme in stories. The little brother who wants his big brother's crown is pretty much a classic plot line.

3. In both stories, the ghosts of the dead kings appear. This would be a pretty convincing similarity if their roles weren't vastly, vastly, fundamentally different. See Differences...

Differences Between The Lion King and William Shakespeare's Hamlet

1. In Hamlet, the Queen Gertrude is involved in plotting King Hamlet's murder; in The Lion King, Queen Sarabi is clueless and loyal to King Mufasa.

2. In Hamlet, the uncle and the queen get married--rather quickly. In The Lion King, Scar and Sarabi never seem to have a positive relationship.

3. In The Lion King, the uncle frames the son, Simba--and Simba DOES play a role in King Mufasa's death. Yeah, it was Scar who orchestrated the whole thing, but in Hamlet, the King's death is presumed to have been from natural causes. Hamlet isn't even implicated.

4. In Hamlet, Ophelia and Hamlet are discouraged from marrying. In The Lion King, Simba and Nala are betrothed.

5. In The Lion King, Simba genuinely feels guilty for his father's death and flees. In Hamlet, the son sticks around and actually develops an investigation plan. Yeah, Hamlet goes to England for like four seconds, but that is not his idea, and he comes back ASAP.

6. In Hamlet, the love interest, Ophelia, goes crazy and dies. In The Lion King, Nala is a feisty and persistent character who makes Simba man (lion?) up.

7. The secondary characters are all completely different. Pumba and Timone are on Simba's side; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's job is basically to spy and tattle on Hamlet. Nala doesn't have a brother (Ophelia has Laertes). Nala's father isn't in the picture at all (Ophelia's father is adviser to the king). Simba doesn't have a strong confidante who actually survives the play (Horatio).

8. In Hamlet, there is no Rafiki character.

9. In The Lion King, the ghost of Mufasa appears to Simba to give him strength and hope. In Hamlet, the ghost of King Hamlet appears to Hamlet to demand vengeance. Mufasa encourages peace; King Hamlet brings unease and frustration.

10. In Hamlet, everybody dies at the end (I mean, it is a Shakespearean tragedy). In The Lion King, it is pretty much happily ever after for everyone except evil Uncle Scar (and the hyenas).

And there you have it.

So next time you hear people say "Omg The Lion King is Hamlet," please slap them for me. And then make them read this post.

Such a Nerd

Thursday, September 10, 2015

From What I Broke Free

Eminem and Rihanna came out with "The Monster" on October 29, 2013, about two weeks before I completely lost my integrity for a time.

You're trying to save me? Stop holding your breath.
And you think I'm crazy? Well, that's not fair.

I'd always liked Eminem (anyone who loves words should like Eminem. He is brilliant.), and I'd recently come to admit that I liked Rihanna (as a masochist who struggles with a porn addiction, she'd always hit a little too close to home), but "The Monster" took an unprecedented hold on me.

You know how I used to write in Purple and Green? That's because I used to THINK in Purple and Green, except that it felt like they were thinking for me.

I felt like my mind was made up of three distinct characters:  "Stephanie," "Purple," and "Green." We were each our own person with our own voice. A lot of the time, I--"Stephanie"--wouldn't get very many lines inside my own head. I would sit there and watch/listen to Purple and Green argue and discuss and joke until I felt like I was going legitimately crazy.

They wouldn't let me get a word in, and eventually I figured it didn't matter. Listening to them helped me process my thoughts anyway. I stopped trying to shut them up and started trying to use their interactions to reason my way through life.

Because life was bad.

It didn't always feel bad; in fact, most of the time it felt awesome. It felt like staying up late (to text PC, who I was supposedly broken up with) and saying what I wanted (which included a lot of profanity) and eating what I wanted (whether too little to be healthy or too much to be healthy) and going where I wanted (including to friends' apartments in the middle of the night so I could sleep on the same bed [i.e. dirty mattress on the floor] as PC).

I knew my life wasn't right, but a lot of the time it felt really great. I felt like I was really, truly, finally starting to Grow Up. I guess I thought growing up meant doing whatever you wanted and feeling really jaded about life.

But deep down, I felt so, so empty. I felt lost. I could close my eyes and see my heart inside of my chest:  dark, swirling, smokey fog. Empty. Insubstantial. Uncertain.

I lied to my family a lot. I told creative truths and lies of omission to Cassidy. I lost a lot of respect from my little sister. PC helped me do it all. I felt like he was really helping me though. I felt like he was helping me to Grow Up:  to be my own person and make my own decisions and fight my own inner demons.

He especially seemed to help with the inner demons.

First, he helped me to identify them, which included realizing how "arbitrary" my conditions for dating him were. (I really was being irrational and unkind. I couldn't reasonably expect him to get his life on track before I dated him again. Dating is all about understanding and tackling life together, right? I shouldn't demand that he get a job or become a real Christian first. That could come later.)

Second, he helped me figure out how I could combat the demons. For example, since I felt so guilty about constantly going farther in our physical relationship, we should set boundaries and stick to them. (He was also really patient when I didn't say No loud enough or push his hands away enough times. He constantly offered to draw the boundary lines again, and even offered to stop in the middle and go get protection when it looked like I really wasn't going to be strong enough to resist.)

Third, he offered educated diagnoses for my mental episodes (episodes such as changing my mind a lot, hearing Purple and Green, feeling really depressed, etc.). He gently cautioned me that I might be schizophrenic or have serious repressed sexual issues from childhood. Using extensive internet research and carefully constructed logic, he suggested that I might be a sociopath, and that he could see signs of psychopathy in himself (what a perfect match!).

Eventually I stopped resisting him. He was probably right about everything, and even if he wasn't, I had already gone too far down this particular Growing Up path. PC was not only the best I was ever going to get, he was also what I deserved.

I started hearing "The Monster" on the radio around the time I stopped resisting. I mostly skipped it; I never seemed to be in the mood to learn a new song, and sometimes I still liked to pretend I hated Rihanna. However, it was catchy, and it reminded me of myself in a way that made me smile wryly.

"I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head..."

That line always made me think of Purple and Green.

"You're trying to save me? Stop holding your breath."

My heart would pinch as I thought about PC. He loved me so much. He was trying so hard to help me become my true self. He was trying to save me, but I knew I was beyond help. I was hopeless.

"And you think I'm crazy? Yeah, you think I'm crazy. Well, that's not fair."

That line gave me pause. The rest of the chorus resonated so perfectly with me. But the speaker wasn't crazy? I was crazy. Wasn't I? Didn't I make up unfair, arbitrary conditions for dating PC; and change my mind all the time about how far I wanted to go physically; and hear voices; and have trust issues? I was crazy.

But what if that wasn't fair? What if...what if I could get along with my inner demons and voices in my head by myself? What if I could actually handle them just fine? What if PC's trying to "save" me wasn't really salvation at all? What if his saying that I was "crazy" wasn't true? What if it was a selfish ploy to get what he wanted? What if he was just posing as my savior and convincing me that I was crazy?

Well. That wouldn't be fair.

What if I wasn't crazy? What if I just wanted something different? What if I just wasn't who he wanted me to be? What if I just wanted a different definition of Growing Up? What if he was just labeling me as crazy so that I would trust him over myself?

That's. Not. Fair.

"The Monster" didn't change my life; it didn't inspire me to break with PC once and for all; but it was sort of an unintentional mantra for the next several months. I would listen to it every time it came on the radio, and I would sing along. The last line of the chorus always came out with more conviction than I anticipated:


How dare he convince me I was crazy just to get what he wanted? That's. Not. Fair.

And now, every time I hear that song, I am reminded that I am my own person. I am reminded that I have to be careful whom I trust. I am NOT crazy just because someone says I am

It's funny:  ever since I really, truly, finally broke it off with PC, Purple and Green have kind of left me alone.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Started As a Fragment, Has Ended in Roommate Sap

It's been a long time since I just talked here, since I didn't wait for a coherent idea or a fun question to wrestle with or a bunch of sappiness about Gem. I don't have any complete thoughts to share with you, just a lot of...well, fragments. At least I think they are fragments. You know how I get when I write: one thought will sometimes keep unfolding before my fingers until it's a real post. Right?

~ In three days, I will move into college for the last time. I know everyone always says this, but seriously, how was it three whole years ago that I moved in as a freshman? I was so...unhappy. I wasn't excited to be going to Campbell at all. I was mad at the perceived failure of not going to Wake Forest. I was jaded by my weird romantic relationship. I was lost in my spiritual life. It was awful. You could not pay me enough money to go back to freshman year.

{Of course, my roommate, Bekah, was actually awesome. We went to bed at the same time, watched the same TV shows, liked the room at the same temperature, listened to the same music, needed the same motivation to go to the gym. She was gorgeous and funny and did not care for drama. I'm convinced it was the most successful random roommate pairing of all time. But other than her, life as a freshman mostly sucked.}

But now? Now I am Happy.

My suite mates are the college girl friends everyone promised I would find. They're the people who will go with me to Walmart at 2 o'clock in the morning because I need frozen pizza. They're the people who will just sit down in the hallway with me and hang out there because I'm too stressed and depressed to make it to the living room. They're the people who I can take stupid BuzzFeed quizzes with for hours. They're the people whose opinions matter to me, whether about my earrings or my dinner decision or my boyfriend.

I hope I will be friends with them for the rest of my life; but if I'm not, if we drift apart and fall out of contact, I will never forget them. I will look back on "college" and hear us laughing and feel us walking across campus and remember us dancing and smile at our late night talks.

Gosh, I'm going to miss them. I'm going to miss congregating in one our rooms to pick out clothes for the next day. I'm going to miss "family dinners" where Harley makes chicken or spaghetti and the rest of us throw together some sides. I'm going to miss movie nights where we talk over most of the dialogue. I'm going to miss messing with each other and memorizing all the weird quirks and habits to make living together as easy as possible.

Harley doesn't let anyone touch her blankets.
Allison wears camis under everything, even T-shirts.
Mary is always cold.
Harley loves Captain America.
Allison loves Ed Sheeran.
Mary loves Baby Groot.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is. Reminiscing, I guess. But it could also serve as a reminder to y'all and to my future self that things get better. Freshman year sucked. But I didn't run away; I stuck it out, and my life is beautiful now.

If I had left Campbell, every single thing about my life would be different. I wouldn't have my suite mates, I probably wouldn't be dating Gem, and I wouldn't have had such amazing professors and therefore an amazing education. I wouldn't have had the same internships or tutoring experience or copy editing position at the paper.

Everything is worth it. My one real regret in life, the one thing I've said I would change (not getting into Wake Forest) has ceased to be a regret. It is hard to say that given a do-over I wouldn't apply to Wake Forest. But it is a no-brainer to say that I am overjoyed to have gone to Campbell.

Senior year, I'm {getting} ready for you.





 A few weeks ago XD

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Some Kind of Validation

Some Kind of Validation


P.S. The writing is going well. But let's not jinx things.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Need Your Help

I'm going to start writing again. Real writing, as in "the stories that I've always wanted to write, but haven't because I'm lazy and terrified of failure."

I am going to try to write "The Mirror." The problem is, I've started it three separate times. One version has over a hundred thousand words. One version has just over six thousand. The version I started today has four hundred and seventeen.

It's all the same story, but the openings are all very, very different. Would you be willing to read the opening few paragraphs of each version and tell me which one you like the best?

I'm going to post them here in case your answer is Yes. It would really help me to get some momentum if you'd help me out. I'm just so familiar with this story that I can't seem to see it well anymore. Kind of like missing the forest for the trees.

Anyway, thanks in advance, maybe :) I'd appreciate the thoughts and prayers as I try to revive the near-dead writer in my heart.

Version 1 (circa 2008)

I should have known from the moment the idea came into my mind that I’d end up over my head in something I couldn’t control; that was usually the way things worked out, but never in a million years would I have dreamed anything could turn out so horrific.

It all happened because I asked Darren Blackburn to the dance. Or at least I think it did.

It’s not what you think. This is not your typical I-Wish-I’d-Never-Asked-That-Creep-That-Was-The-Worst-Night-Of-My-Life kind of thing. It really isn’t Darren’s fault. This horrific thing is something you’d never worry about when going on a “date.” I mean, who thinks as they look in the mirror one last time, “Gee, I really hope my date doesn’t have some terrible secret I should know about before I get swept up in something TOTALLY OVER MY HEAD THAT I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF.” Sorry. Like I said before, it really isn’t his fault—exactly.

Okay. Not making any sense, am I? Um…okay…I’ll start at the beginning, but I’m not exactly sure where the beginning is. Okay. Here. I’ll try, but I’m warning you: I’m no good at storytelling, and telling your own life’s story is even harder

Version 2 (circa 2012)

I had always been a reader.  I might say “dreamer” if it weren’t for the dewy-eyed connotation.  I just loved books, and everything they represented.  I loved persuasion, knowledge, and words.  I craved adventure, thrived on intrigue, and wanted to leave a glorious mark on the world.
At fourteen, I began to untangle myself from the wild flights of fantasy and decided that the best way to leave a mark was to become a lawyer.  Or a teacher.  One of those.  I gave up on finding Neverland or the genie’s lamp.
It never occurred to me to look for adventure in an old mirror, although I guess technically I never did; it was Darren.  Getting caught up in the whole Sorayoni thing didn’t fit my plan at all (not that it fit Darren’s either).
Looking back on that night junior year, I always wonder if I’d do anything differently.  Even now, I’m not sure.  All I know is that I was entirely too eager and had no idea what I was doing.  For a logical human being who reads so much, both those facts should have been red flags.  Darren even tried to warn me.  But I did what I did because I was who I was, and it’s as simple (or as complicated) as that.
This probably isn’t making that much sense.  I guess I’ll just do what one traditionally does in this position:
Start from the beginning.

Version 3 (today)
 Growing up is a funny thing. When you’re a kid, you assume that you’re old enough to…fill in the blank:  cross the street, pour the milk, critique parenting methods. Then for the next ten years, you make a habit of looking back and rolling your eyes at your younger self:  wow; how stupid, incapable, and naïve you were. Now, at this new age, you actually know everything. In high school, you hit the age where you’re grown up enough that it becomes acceptably cool to like some childish things again, like Disney movies and playgrounds and your old teddy bear.

Eventually, you grow to the point where you are only certain of how little you know. You are only certain of how uncertain life actually is. You look back at your younger self and covet that innocence, that freedom of the soul, that psychological invincibility. Wanting to be a grownup is the mark of a child; wanting to be a child is the mark of a grownup.
I don’t know at what age that natural switch typically happens. All I know is that for me, it happened unnaturally, atypically, and fantastically. And not “fantastically” as in “shockingly happy beyond comprehension.” Fantastical, as in adj.: conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination; odd and remarkable; bizarre; grotesque. With an emphasis on the last two synonyms. And the “as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination” part. Although, “odd and remarkable” more than hold their own in the story I’m about to tell you.
I’ve waited a long time to tell our story, Darren’s and mine. Not because it’s too painful or unbelievable (though it is both of those things), but because it’s too important to tell wrong. If I tell it right, you might help me. If I tell it wrong, They might kill me.
At the beginning of our story, I didn’t know any better. I was just a 15-year-old girl with a bookworm’s head and magic-lover’s heart. Somehow, I didn’t get that when I really took the real red pill in real life, real shit would go down. Somehow, my obscenely large mental collection of thriller movies and well-written novels had failed to convince me that if I threw myself down the rabbit hole, I would end up over my head in something I couldn’t control. I guess on some level, I did know and did want that. But never in a million years would I have dreamed anything could turn out so horrific.


Monday, June 1, 2015

I've Been Reading

I've been able to start reading again.

"Read," is the advice always given to budding writers. Actual practice helps your writing improve too, but reading... It seems to train your mind to Hear and See the world with capital Hs and Ss.

When your car rushes through a rain puddle, the sound registers as "a lush hiss" instead of not registering at all. A dance recital audience reaction becomes "an appreciative rumble of laughter" instead of just "chuckling." You have conversations and naturally detect things like others' "clunky giddiness"or "apologetic authority."

To me, words give the world more substance. When I read a lot, I start to sense the depth in the molecules around me. It's not like the world is brighter; it's like I start to see new colors. Everything isn't more beautiful, but everything is more intentional, specific. I'm not sitting on my couch; I'm sitting on My Couch, where I had a kiss that tasted like ramen, where I first fell asleep on Gem, where I once cried a tear stain into the cushion.

When I immerse myself in words, everything feels more real. It's like tapping a secret source of energy.

I guess this makes sense, seeing as the entire world is Words. "In the beginning...the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep... And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."

This entire world is literally words. There was nothing, and then God spoke, and from His words came the existence that I now try to describe with my own words, like "lush hiss" and "appreciative rumble." Is that redundant? To use words in an attempt to express/describe/create a reality that is already so perfectly linguistically expressed that it is actually tangible?

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."

Jesus is--maybe literally, maybe figuratively, maybe spiritually (which is probably some inexpressible middle ground there)--Words. God is Words. He made our world of words with His words. We are in this world, made in the image of God. We are spoken. We are words. The light is words; the water is words; the land is words; the day and night are words.

So yes, it makes sense that everything gets more beautiful and more real when I connect with words. Don't you understand the ocean better when you jump in?

Words are fun and powerful and persuasive and enduring and endearing and funny and piercing and beautiful and satisfying and frightening and dangerous. I like words, on principle, because I am a writer and a reader and I like to reason and persuade. But even deeper than that, I like words because I think they are cosmically important. When it all comes down to it, the world is just atoms and energy and space.

But when atoms and energy and space come down to it, they are all words.


Monday, March 23, 2015

On the Whole, the Best 365 Days Ever

Left:  this year's spring formal (Mafia themed). Right:  last year's spring formal (Gatsby themed).

"Maybe I'm just trying to find things that were wrong about that night, because really, it throws a good cynic for a loop when an evening turns out perfectly." - 20-year-old Me, when Gem and I became "official"--March 23, 2014.

Today it has been a whole year, and I still feel like a cynic thrown for a loop. How has this past year been real?

I honestly don't know what it would have been like without Gem. Possible, certainly, but not much besides that. Junior year of college has been an utterly indescribable beast (and I'm still not convinced that I'll make it out alive); Gem has kept me saner and happier than I could have been otherwise.

I remember in June (head-over-heels in love, all blushing and lightheartedness and sparkles and warm fuzzies) thinking "Dang. This can't last. It's gonna suck when this feeling wears off." But guess what?

It hasn't worn off.

Sure, there's been arguing and frustration and embarrassment, but I sit here today and blush over how good he looked at this year's spring formal, and smile when I think about seeing him again, and sparkle when someone asks about him, and fill with warmth when I think about the little things.

Little things like how in a big city, when we're about to have to run across the street before the light changes, he always glances back and holds his hand out for me. How I told him one time that I think guy should open the girl's car door on special occasions, and now he remembers every time. Or how whenever I say I'm feeling lonely, the next thing I know, he's FaceTiming me. Or how he still asks me out on Dates even though "we're already dating," because he says he loves taking me places.

I love dating him. He's the one I would choose, 100% of the time :)

I don't let him read this blog, but I'm gonna say it here anyway: "Happy Anniversary, Gem!"


P.S. I will try to post something not Gem-related soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guilt, Fifty Shades, and Valentine's Day {all unrelated, believe it or not}

Let me tell you a little something about myself (because after reading my thoughts for four years, you know nothing, of course):  When I feel bad about how long it's taking me to do something, I continue to not do it.

- Justin texted me on February 11 asking if I was on campus because he was visiting. I was busy and didn't reply that day. I feel bad. So I still haven't replied.
- I have been working on a promotional piece for someone's website since the beginning of the year. She emailed me with some critique at the beginning of this month. I was swamped in schoolwork and didn't know what to do about it. So I temporarily ignored it. I feel bad. So I am still ignoring it.
- James wrote me a letter about ten months ago. It was amazingly great. I didn't write back right away. I felt bad. So I still haven't written back.
- I haven't blogged since Christmas Eve. I feel bad about it. So I've been not blogging.

Hi? *sheepish look*

{But I mean, in addition to all the guilty feels, I have also been swamped in homework and all the, like, not responding to other stuff, so...}

I also haven't had anything to say, besides life updates, which is kind of not what this blog was intended for, you know? It was supposed to be social commentary and life hacks and sort of pointless well-written pieces. It has mostly devolved into me alternately whining about school work and gushing about Gem.

Hey speaking of Gem. Doesn't he look like the world's most precious and endearing squirrel in this picture?

Yeah. But really, back off; he's mine.

I really wanted to post a response to all the commotion about "Fifty Shades of Grey" (Gray? Grey.), but...I dunno. It seemed pointless. People who hate it already know why they hate it. People who like it also know why people who hate it hate it. It's not really complicated. But if I were going to post about it, I would probably make these three points:

1) BDSM is not going to send you to Hell, so stop condemning people who like it rough. However, what is depicted in "Fifty Shades" isn't necessarily how "correct" BDSM is supposed to work. So. That's not good.
2) I have read a lot of "Fifty Shades," and it is an absolute disgrace to good writing. I am 100%, utterly, unreservedly certain that I can write better erotica than that. Hands down. Not even kidding. If it weren't immoral I would offer to send you proof. "Fifty Shades" completely disgusted me from an artistic standpoint. This is honestly what infuriates me the most about the whole thing. If someone ever writes an erotic novel that is good, I will review it and admit it. It can be done well--not MORALLY, but at least ARTISTICALLY. Which brings me to...
3) It's definitely porn. There is nothing classy or artistic about it, it is just straight up girl porn and not well done. See point two. Maybe if it were actually well-written it could at least be artistically valuable, but it's literary shit.

Alrighty. I am now dragging myself away from this topic. I don't think any more needs to be said from me. It would get ramble-y. {That being said, if you have questions or vehement disagreement or anything, I would be glad to listen and respond.}

Mmm. That's enough content for now. I really do have school work to do.

Here what else has been up, just btw.

Passion Conference 2015

I Turned 21
{I also went "out," of course, but there are not very good pictures from that.}

My suite mates threw me a surprise party when I got back :3 They are seriously the best.

I Celebrated My First "Real" Valentine's Day (i.e. with a boyfriend who did more than just text me "Happy V. Day" at some point during the 24-hour span)
We went to a local state park, which was gorgeous.

Then got cleaned up and headed to a restaurant, where we ate the best food I think I've ever had. Not even kidding. When we tried the chocolate lava cake dessert, we just lost it. Did not even try to be mature adults about it.