Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home is...

Like every other college student home for the holidays, I can’t ignore the mandatory blog post about everything I’ve missed about home.  They’re all relatively small things, but it is honestly the small things in life that I love the most because they often go unnoticed under normal circumstances.

Home is...
-          holding my mom’s hand while doing last minute Christmas shopping.
-          putting on slippers before going downstairs in the morning because the kitchen tile is so cold.
-          inside jokes and euphemisms (usually at the dinner table).
-          my mom knocking on the bathroom door because I’m taking too long in the shower again.
-          staying up late for absolutely no reason, just because I can.
-          food that is so high above the quality of the dining hall food at school that my palate thinks it’s getting spoiled.
-          trying to figure out Christmas music on guitar before Christmas Eve.
-          sisters walking randomly into the house because they all still live so close.
-          my mom chasing me around the house with a spider she’s caught in her hand.
-          actually reading a book for pleasure because I finally have the time.
-          trying to not take anything for granted because I know I’m going to miss this when second semester starts up in January.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Now here is a man who didn't underestimate the power of a well-written letter.

To Fanny Brawne, 13 October 1819, from John Keats


My dearest Girl,

This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair.  I cannot proceed with any degree of content.  I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time.  Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else - The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life - My love has made me selfish.  I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further.  You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving - I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you.  I should be afraid to separate myself far from you.  My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change?  My love, will it?  I have no limit now to my love - Your note came in just here - I cannot be happier away from you - 'T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles.  Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you.  My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love."  I can do that no more - the pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I was born in the arms of imaginary friends.

I finally managed to crank out my term paper, and I somehow lived through all of my exams, and I am so proud to say that I have survived my first semester of college.  Now, I'm on Christmas break at last, and there are so many things that I want to do.  I can definitely feel the Christmas cheer spreading through my veins--I spent a day at school watching White Christmas and eating Christmas cookies with the fabulous girls on my hall before I went home for the break, and this afternoon, my sister and I pretended we were elves as we wrapped presents for my parents at our kitchen table.  Then, this evening, I went out to dinner with some of my favorite people from high school who I've missed terribly.  The food was wonderful of course (how can you top authentic Lebanese food from Nicola's and delicious nutella and banana crepes from Cafe Intermezzo for dessert?), thus further ruining my attempts to eat in moderation as I attempt to lessen the blow that the infamous Freshman Fifteen has taken on me.  But what I had hoped would be an evening of good times and old memories, I was left feeling like I have nothing left in common with the people that I was inseparable from this time last year.  So inevitably, I started thinking about change, and I was left wondering if it was me who had changed or if it was my friends.  Certainly college is the place to find out who you really are, but is it really normal for someone to completely give up who they fundamentally are?  I'm lucky in that I've known for a while what my hopes and expectations and dreams for the future are.  If anything, I think that I am just a better version of myself than I was in high school.  Flannery O'Connor once said that "accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better," and I try to live by this everyday.  If I don't love myself, how can I expect anyone else to love me in return?  I'm always on the path to knowing who I am, and I love the adventures I have every day as a result.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Carols, Bells, and Choirs of Angels.

There’s something about Christmas music that I love.  It always serves to fit whatever mood I am in.  Earlier today, I was trying to motivate myself to finish searching for quotes within the plethora of sources that I have for my STAC term paper (and I finally know what I’m writing about, woohoo! – which is a good thing considering it’s due in a week.  Shit.).  Inevitably, I turned to the Christmas music that would pump me up the most, and I’ve found that nothing stimulates me more than the energetic chords from Mannheim Steamroller or the dark, brooding electric guitar strains of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Listen to “Hallelujah (From 'The Messiah')” and “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” respectively, and you’ll understand perfectly what I mean.  I’ve never found myself so excited to work on homework before in my life.

At mass this morning, the closing song was “Angels We Have Heard on High” which I adored hearing.  Traditional Christmas music will always be my favorite because it will always remind me of when I was younger and going to Christmas Eve mass with my whole family.  I can’t help but also think of the times when I was little that my dad used to pull out the guitar and strum some carols for us.  My sisters and I used to gather around him and sing along (or so I am told—my memory doesn’t extend back quite that far), and those moments to me are the ones that I would love to revisit because they seem so perfect.

Then, later in the day, I let myself be taken over by the warm, fuzzy side of Christmas as I listened to Glee’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”  Let’s just say that Darren Criss makes my heart throb, and my breath literally caught in my throat several times while he was singing.  I would snuggle up to him on a cold winter’s night any day ;)

This evening, I took my evening walk, and although I tried to concentrate on my prayers, I couldn’t get Emmy Rossum’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” out of my head.  It was honestly one of those moments straight out of a movie: I was just walking along the sidewalk, passing various buildings decorated with trees in their windows and lights on the trees, bundled up in my long jacket with a hat on my head, and as I watched my breath freeze in front of my face, I couldn’t help but think of all the people in my life that I love.  I longed so badly to have been walking home to a warm fire and a house that smelled of cinnamon and pine, but I walked back to my dorm room instead and resigned myself to a warm shower instead of a warm fire.  I won’t be picky.  The shower felt damn good.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December Dreams.

The weather here is finally reflecting the season.  I find myself not walking outside without a coat over my already bulky sweater, and the ensemble is usually topped off with a scarf and boots.  Granted, I only have one pair of boots, so the soles of the heels are already getting worn down from walking to class everywhere.  Which saddens me to no end :(  ...stupid Freshman Hill...

But usually I'm not really a cold weather person, but recently, with my amplified vulnerability, I've found myself retreating inside clothes with an intensity that I've never really felt in the past.  Plus, I consider winter clothes to be a kind of challenge--they can either be effortlessly chic in their layers or they can make you look enormous, which is a pickle I am determined to solve.  With my newfound appreciation of cold weather though, I've started taking evening walks.  They only last about half an hour (I don't really have time for much more with exams looming), but they've become a sort of therapy for me.  I initially started spending most of that time in silent contemplation (or at least trying to), but my ten o'clock ritual has now morphed into time for me to just think.  I've thought about everything on these walks--life, love, time--and by the end, all of my thoughts have been collected to form a kind of prayer.  I usually end up praying for strength because it is the place in my life where I falter the most.  Strength to keep moving during hard times, strength to be myself, strength to not be afraid to love...  I find myself more and more turning towards my faith, and I really like the transformation this has brought me thus far.

I have a lot of goals this December...well, maybe it would be better to call them dreams because I don't think that all of them are exactly tangible. 

1. As much as I'd like to put it at the back of my mind, school is definitely one of my highest priorities right now.  I have a ten-page paper for STAC that is absolutely eating at me (yet I am still nonetheless unmotivated to work on it), and then I have exams in my other classes as well.  My only saving grace at this point is the fact that I somehow did well on my calc tests throughout the semester.

2. Pray the rosary every day of Advent.

3. Start working out (I'm going to Florida after Christmas!) -- bathing suit, here I come :)

4. Reconnect with my high school friends.  I shamefully admit that I've been negligent in keeping in touch with most of the people that I considered to be my best friends last year.

5. Find the perfect Secret Santa gift!

6. Get in the Christmas spirit!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Count My Blessings.

I’m thankful for: a family that loves me despite everything I’ve fucked up, a cat that will still purr in my ear after I’ve spent an hour crying on it, a warm bed to unload on after a long day, my faith, God, my guitar, self-discovery, Christmas lights, hot tea, friends who don’t care how much I laugh and how much I cry, random acts of kindness, YouTube comments, hard work paying off, Mae, Platonic love, long walks, letters, books that allow me to get lost in their pages, ice cream, purity rings, smiles, the hope that one day reality will be better than my dreams, you, me, us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

YouTube.

I have always been fascinated by the YouTube world.  The prospect of everyday people like myself broadcasting themselves for other people to see, well, that makes me excited.  It allows the regular Joe Blow’s and Susie Q’s of the world to obtain their own sense of, as my STAC class would say, aura.  I first stepped into the unknown realm of YouTube years and years ago, and by watching other people display their talent so openly, I wondered to what extent I could exhibit my own work.  With the indirect prodding of my guitar teacher, I wound up on YouTube a couple months ago, playing covers of songs that I had previously learned on guitar.  Initially, I put up videos purely in the interest of said teacher because of his inexorable request to hear me sing, but eventually, I began to gain a small (emphasis on small, haha) following of viewers who encouraged me to keep singing, despite my self-conscious belief that my voice is no incredible gift. 

Now, as the weeks have gone by, I have realized that if there is anyone that I make these videos for, it is myself.  Playing guitar has always been an other-worldly activity for me, but now, I am just beginning to realize how big a part music plays in my life.  Putting a video up on YouTube every few weeks has become an undeniably satisfying activity, and I am slowly proving to myself that it is okay to expose myself in such a way.  I have always been uneasy about how vulnerable I am, and perhaps I am slightly less meek on YouTube just because I don’t really know who any of my viewers are.  In the scheme of things though, these unknown people mean the world to me.  But this is also probably why I have never told anybody openly that I have a YouTube channel—I’m too scared of the personal rejection that I might receive because I, as much as I hate to say it, am extremely sensitive of what other people think of me.  Only two people know that I am on YouTube, and I wonder how long I am going to keep it that way.  I might say that they would find out from this blog, but nobody I know is aware that I am writing this either.  This blog is also, in a way, just for me.  Call it a journal if you will, but this blog is where I most find myself writing down the stray thoughts that pass through my mind, and writing helps me to cope with the stress that I have been experiencing in my life right now.

But, by all means, if there is a mysterious unknown person out there who is reading this right now, then let me know.  I would love to talk to you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Activities.

Life is what I make it, so here are some of the weekend’s more spectacular moments.  And yes, I consider Friday to be the weekend too :)

Friday:
Drinking hot tea on the way to 8 AM calculus.
Laughing my head off in said calculus class because Dr. Trotter is the funniest professor I have ever had.
Being done with classes by 10.
Taking a three hour nap.
Making sausage, egg, cheese, and potato burritos for dinner with my sister.
Going to the basketball game with a bunch of girls on my hall.
Watching A Very Potter Musical.
Making it to the end of the week :)

Saturday:
Sleeping in.
Walking to Atlantic Station with friends.
Celebrating my birthday in November, three months after the fact.
Eating a delicious dinner, followed by a delicious trip to the candy shop.

Sunday:
Waking up early to go to mass.
Eating breakfast with two awesome girls on my hall.
Finding time to read some Jack Kerouac.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Love.

Life is an ultimate swelling of the heart so that just when you think everything’s about to burst, it expands.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Falling.

I went home this weekend for my dad’s birthday, and while I was sitting in my room, looking out my window and waiting for inspiration to hit me, I noticed that all the leaves on the trees went straight from green to brown this Autumn, completely skipping all the lovely yellows, reds, and oranges that always make me associate Fall as my favorite season.  I can’t help but call this a strange metaphor for my life right now because, let’s face it, the end of October sucked.  I would like to think that November will be distinctly singular and different, but I’m still sitting here, waiting for that revelation.

Friday, November 5, 2010

51 Simple Pleasures

There have been a lot of great teachers in my life, and while I couldn't possibly start to name them all, there is one standout man who I credit as helping me to form who I am today as a person.  In the second term of my senior year of high school, I took his Prayer and Meditation class, and I couldn't possibly start to describe how much that class changed my perception on life.  In the months since then, I made it a personal goal of mine to take greater notice of the smaller things in my life that bring me happiness, and while this list certainly is not limited to 51 things, this number somehow made the most sense to me at the time.  This list grows and changes everyday, but I think the bottom line is that I focus on my own personal happiness.  Maybe this makes me a romantic, but I'd rather be epically romantic than a cynic.

  1. breaking in a new box of crayons
  2. starting a new journal (and re-reading the old ones)
  3. hand-written letters
  4. Keats, Yeats, and Eliot
  5. pressed flowers
  6. guitar callouses
  7. singing in the shower
  8. blowing a dandelion
  9. blogs
  10. thin mint girl scout cookies
  11. getting lost in a novel
  12. Caribbean Way
    smoothies from Smoothie King
  13. seeing the glass half full
  14. old photos
  15. slow dancing
  16. smiling at a stranger
  17. free samples at Alon’s
  18. hearing your favorite song on the radio
  19. family recipes
  20. window shopping
  21. receiving (and giving) a genuine compliment
  22. the smell of the inside of a book
  23. foreign crucifixes
  24. laughing till you cry
  25. getting a haircut
  26. waking up and finding out that the cat slept on your bed the whole night
  27. anthropologie.com
  28. happy endings
  29. rain on a hot day
  30. popsicles
  31. rediscovering an old, favorite song
  32. Chick-fil-a
  33. Sharpie markers
  34. flossing
  35. hot showers
  36. Charlie Brown
  37. band-aids with pictures on them
  38. Buckhead Music
  39. waking up early
  40. sleeping in late
  41. road trips
  42. cameo rings
  43. the perfect cup of hot tea
  44. street musicians
  45. a bear hug
  46. Eskimo kisses
  47. hydrangeas
  48. Emmaus letters
  49. food cooked over an open fire
  50. saying thank you
  51. butterflies

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hello.

There is so much hope that this one little word can provide.  It is the promise of a beginning and the opportunity to start anew because, let’s face it, everyone needs a second chance now and then.  Some of my favorite life moments have centered around such a seemingly meaningless word, and some of the best quotations focus on all the reasons why I love it:

“You say goodbye and I say hello.”

“The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye.”

“You had me at hello.”

And while I don’t consider myself to be the next Paul McCartney or Jimi Hendrix, I have always wanted to leave my own personal touch:

“Whoever said ‘the hardest part is saying goodbye’ lied.  The hardest part is waiting for the hello.”