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!