Saturday, January 23, 2010

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

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Rain and I used to have a nice relationship. As a child, I would run around in my rain boots and Big Bird rain coat. It was a fun game. Best part: if I ran inside quick enough to get some warm soup and get into some warm clothes, I would not have to worry with a runny nose which would later result in a cold. Rain and I were best friends. Until I met the storm. Thunder, lightning, heavy rain that hurt if it landed on me, scary winds daring enough to bring a tornado with it--all things petrifying to a child.

I do not necessarily have a problem with storms. In fact, for awhile (and still, sometimes), I was obsessed with the movie "Twister" and the idea of chasing tornadoes. But my desire to blast "Humans Being" by Van Halen in a Jeep Comanche and almost risk my neck getting the perfect shots and measurements for a tornado is just as alive as my ability to run as fast as Speedy Gonzales when the sky turns even the slightest shade of green. Fiction has no place in reality.

For the past two days, the only reality I feel I have been living is one of a social thunderstorm--a hurricane, to be more precise. I have felt my blood pressure rise to an unhealthy, unstable level so much so I could hear my own pulse in my ears and feel the constant drumming inside my head. I felt warm and shaken. All because of words. In movies, the idea of a little conflict can seem like a fun idea. While I still believe a bit of conflict does a person good, there is a such thing as avoidable contentions and necessary confrontation. And in these movies, not only is there a nice soundtrack during these scenes of torment, but it always concludes with a happy ending. However, I am still waiting for mine.

Without going into too much detail about my own life and those involved in the situation to which I am vaguely referring, I will say I have even less faith in people now than when this all began. People like to say a lot of things during the calm of a storm--they thrive on the build of dramatic effect, they do not thrive off of real results. It is a lazy attempt at stirring trouble, knowing someone will be there to fight the battle. I have no time for this "drama." When the storm finally comes, everyone else is left feeling the blows of the night, while the one who started it all is left standing, unmoved by the winds, and unlearned by their actions.

If shouting matches from a 30-foot distance and Facebook wars are what complete someone's day and give them their only story to tell someone later, I have no use for making conversation with them. Nor do I have the patience to bear witness to such pathetic, public displays of hatred either. All it does, is successfully bring me to my boiling point to where I am left the last one shouting and shouting at everyone. Problems will arise, however, if the people involved are not willing to confront one another, they do not deserve the first scream or the last word. Only those willing to rise to the occasion, confront their opponent, and find an end for the dispute deserve a monologue during the calm of the storm and after disaster strikes. Unfortunately for the former who inspired this post, they will probably never learn "fronts" never work once the person's insecurities are revealed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Awkward Weather

The wind rolls in, but only in the shadows do I tug at my sleeves. This far south, we see the rain, sleet, and then 60-degree weather all in one week. I politely call this time of the year the time for "awkward weather." Half of the campus is dressed from head-to-toe in their windbreakers and coats, while the other half dare to "rough it" in hardly anything of which could be considered clothing. However, some of the wiser students, plan for all contingencies. Though I have been away, I have not forgotten the typically warmer climate, thus, on a regular day, I might be wearing jeans, my Converse, a thin, long-sleeve shirt while keeping on my person at all times, a jacket suitable for bringing warmth when the wind decides to blow.

Today is one of those days where a short-sleeved shirt suffices. The air is warm, and the breeze is cool--feels like spring. It is a nice vacation from being at home with the freezing weather. While I rather enjoy winter, I could not handle year-around ice. I have walked through the campus many times just to feel the sun's warmth. It is a peaceful Sunday. A Sunday that leaves my mind in turmoil. The light outside my window brings warmth to the room and smiles to our faces. My roommate opens the blinds and welcomes the soft sun. I am still in my pajamas. The battle in my head? Do I want to enjoy a day full of leisure, or shall I go out and soak up this rather perfect day?--both a rarity, of sorts. I gladly did both.

The wind struck my skin, but not enough to burn, and putting on my jacket made me feel as though I was suddenly stricken with an early case of menopause. So, I let the weather do its worst and I enjoyed every moment of it. It is days like these I find myself enjoying life more than any other day. I do not need my camera, I do not need my music, and I do not even need the company of another. I can take a stroll on my own and be completely content. (Though, I am happy my friend joined me.) The sun was not enough to blind me, the clouds did not prepare doom on our little corner of the world, and the blue of the sky was awe-inspiring, with dazzles of pink hues here and there.

I want to be able to enjoy life more, but not just because I am looking forward to days like this one. I want to wake up, see the storm, and still know everything will be okay. I can usually achieve such a positive demeanor from day-to-day, but life happens, and the happiest person in the world is capable of falling apart. I do not want to be devoid of all real emotion, but I want happiness to be the one with which I am most acquainted. The rest of the season is bound to bring more awkward weather--good or bad. From now on, I am going to be ready.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Where can I fit in?

The third floor of the library stands as the land of forward thinking on campus. There, books on becoming a better teacher, child psychologist, student, public relations officer, politician, homosexual--yes, I found a book outlining the mechanics on how lesbianism "works"--and religious texts interpreter can all be found on the same shelves. Like one big, happy family. These things are what make college, college. The open-minded, experimental, "politically correct," underage, anti-religion, indie rock obsessed, voters of marijuana legalization run the campus and are the poster-children for MTV's next season of College Life. All the while, the open-hearted, believers of a Higher power, appreciators of music--not to say all indie is bad--Stephen Colbert fans are chastised for not being more liberal or even criticized when the discovery one's roommate used to have lesbian tendencies leaves one in a state of uncomfortable shock. (That, of which, is not a personal experience but a friend's unfortunate run-in between her roommate and RA--resident adviser.)

Correct me if I am wrong, but I would think the "open-minded" would understand the backgrounds of all people entering a new environment, thus treat their, sometimes, "small town" peers with a bit more respect. Though I fall into the latter category, I am far from prejudice against those outside of my own ideals. And still I find myself surrounded by students who stand against me and shake their heads in shame, because I would rather not be counted amongst the thousands before me who stood upon tables, a beer bottle in each hand and a cigarette falling out of my mouth. I was warned college can change students who once thought they stood strong for their political ideals and beliefs. I have yet to feel this pressure to conform to the books on the shelves. Instead, I just find myself fighting for some recognition and respect.

I may never be a martial arts doing, mace-slinging feminist; a political activist who firmly believes you either ride for Obama or die; a band geek who relies on pot during the school year, and band camp for pleasure; a Coexist player with enough bumper stickers to rival any Bible-thumper (though I do not disagree with love for everyone); or a homosexual trying to "find myself" in this crazy world. However, I will be the lover of all music, sitting quietly to myself, with a faith in God, lapsed in religion, who hates all politics, and knows how to have a good time without drowning myself in disposable products that will only blur my vision and memory for the night and make me wake-up questioning the location of my bra. If there ever is a book about people like me, I just hope one day it will make the shelves on the third floor. We deserve a place, too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Walking the Green Mile

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It is now safe to say my second day of classes, for spring semester, has come to an end. I am exhausted. Actually, "exhausted" is an understatement. Because of my inactivity for a month, and being at home where the second hand on a clock moves at, what I have perceived to be, a normal pace, life on campus has become an alien thing. What was once habitual and almost monotonous has left me dazed. Case and point: a 19-year old college student should not have to even consider moving her bedtime to a single-digit hour of the evening. Maybe, if she is in the ROTC program or having to go to an early morning class, however, neither applies to me. And for some odd reason, today has gone by slower than any other day I can remember living. God just loves playing these little tricks on me, I suppose.

Not only am I tired, but my legs hurt from all the walking I have done around campus. And I do not just mean to go to class. Walking to class, I can handle. I am far from weak. However, my friends and I have taken to walking in circles around campus, and off-campus, in our spare time, just so we can say we were doing something between classes. My legs hate me, I just know it. I would hate me if I were my legs. Well, technically, I hate myself now for doing such a thing to my poor limbs. They did not do anything to deserve such torture. It seems time away has changed me. I thought it was just a mental state of mind, but I have discovered, physically, I have lost my youthfulness since being at home. As much as I thought I would love being back, as I wrote in my previous post, "Learning to Work, Loving the Work," all I really want to do is sleep--sleep long and sleep hard.

This semester, for me, is already looking less than hopeful. However, I cannot give up on myself when I have yet to begin! My goal for this semester--and every semester following--is to make A's in more than just English class. I must study. I must strive to be my best. And I cannot lose faith. To achieve all this, I will strengthen my legs, drink lots of caffeine, keep the volume to my music at an ear-shattering level, make lots of to-do lists and keep my eye on the prize: the A. I am already off to a decent start.

Despite my complaining about my legs--not to mention the arch of my left foot because, in my dazed confusion, I forgot to wear my Reebok shoes instead of my Converse, thus leading to no support--I have pressed forward and continued venturing with my friends despite the pain. Also, in my need to remember everything important that needs to be completed just for the beginning of this semester, I have already devised a nice to-do list for myself. I would share this to-do list, but frankly, I am in no mood to trudge across the hard flooring of my dorm to the list, and I would be in no mood to type it once I finally made it back to my bed. Instead, just imagine the most spectacular to-do list written on the most magical legal pad in all of Staples®. It contains important things to get done and some premeditated studying. All of which, I hope to complete before the week comes to a close. I truly hope this is not a prediction of what the rest of my semester will shamelessly resemble. Hopefully, once I am used to the new schedule and being on campus again, this will not seem so hard.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Country of Hotels, Warehouses and Southern Cooking

The openness of the interstate is a glorious sight early in the morning when barely any dare to travel down such a road. The skies are beautiful at such a time and the sun knows exactly where to hit the ground to make me smile--years of practice, I presume. As much as I love the familiar walls of my home, and the doors and windows that open up to familiar skies with a familiar air that fills my lungs a way I cannot begin to explain, once in awhile, a change of scenery is nice.

Much around me was frostbitten and brown, but I was not as cold as I had been. I found myself flinching under the sun's sometimes harsh rays, but it means well--it has a purpose. The best way to describe this place without sounding too terribly judgmental would be, "Deadwood." And I do not mean that to draw a parallel between my trip and a crass, contrite effort for entertainment. However, there is life, but it all depends on what one considers a proper definition for such a term.

There, the most I could find as I traveled down the large expanse of pavement were several hotels, warehouses and a randomly placed Cracker Barrel or other restaurant specializing in southern-style cooking. Not to mention, numerous billboards advertising such establishments. All were emitting smoke into the air as if this were the coldest day of winter. (With the exception of the billboards, of course. I do not want to see a billboard smoking--could be tragic.) We followed a lane that was clear for miles, riding along the yellow line as if I was Dorothy and we were on our way to see the Wizard.

If the numerous warehouses and large unidentifiable buildings called "Georgia's Finest" something were not enough evidence for someone to clearly see they were in the deepest parts of Georgia, the several peach structures and signs with the fruit painted on them should have been a dead giveaway. This is where the rebellious youth who love to hate where they live are less abundant. Thankfully, there are not enough inhabitants who still believe this is Avril Lavigne's world to stir up their fond hearts.

Though our capital may be Atlanta, where rap-artists show their pride and the biggest businesses may wish to reside, the true heart and soul of the state is there along the treks in the pavement made long before my father and I. There, in the deepest corners of this "nothing," in the south that is typically hidden from the limelight; there, where the accents are thick and trends are not always the forefront on the people's minds; where patriotism runs deep in their veins; that is where the people who love Georgia the most can be found. The people who have lived there their whole lives--like me.

It may be a change of scenery, but it is still familiar territory. And before I truly travel, being somewhere with just a hint of home serves as a fair transition.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Learning to Work, Loving the Work

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For reasons I have yet to understand and would not have understood a year ago, I have discovered, when given the opportunity to lounge around the house and not be held responsible for any real work for a month, I am left feeling useless and lazy. Throughout the course of this winter break, if I was not dining with friends or flapping gums over useless topics or even just staring at a wide-screen in a theatre room as it emitted dazzling pictures and captivating sounds, I was at home, doing nothing. While the break was nice the first couple of weeks, the lounging around began feeling unjustified. I did not have a previous job to which I could return to fill some time as I remained in town, nor will anyone hire some college kid living in two places at once for one month, when half of the month I was incapable of even devoting to a part-time job.

So, as my time seems to be coming to an end here at home, I have been weighing over reasons why I want to stay at home and reasons why I need to go back to school. Of course, my list begins with the obvious: education. Through all the smudges of ink and lead I have washed off of my hands, so much so I have almost rubbed my hands dry, and all the money spent on books and regular supplies, I have grown accustomed to staying up through the next morning trying to finish papers, and being overloaded so much that once leisure comes on the weekends, I enjoy it even more than the average person--though it could probably be statistically proven the average American spends half of their lifetime on the couch. And as much as finals may stretch and strain the length of my mental endurance, without this work and the rewards reaped from it, I would not feel as accomplished afterward.

I will be waking up early tomorrow morning to leave and will hopefully arrive on campus at least an hour or so before my first class begins. (Which will be convenient considering I am not even sure where the class is located; I just pray it is on the first floor.) I never would have guessed, after a month, I would want to see campus again. The irony in all of this is, as I have been home, I have actually still had school on the brain. To help out and feel useful for once, I took up tutoring for a friend of mine in homeschooling. Even more ironical than the fact I am tutoring is I was tutoring the girl in algebra--the class I failed last semester. I did not allow the parents to know I failed algebra--I did not want them to worry. I know the basics, and I was able to help my friend get through all of her tests. Even better: I got paid for the small gig. While I thought all the math was mind-numbingly boring (even more boring than a "Terminator" film--which usually ends in me trying to find something sharp to jab in my eyes) committing to helping my friend get through her first semester of math and knowing I had a job to do made the week I did spend with those workbooks tolerable. I am just pleased to know I will not be making up the algebra course this semester. If I can help it, I want to put off looking at another calculator for awhile.

Aside from working hard and hardly working, I have found school is a much more relaxed place than home. (Go figure.) I am not asked where I am going. I am not asked with whom. The only time anyone ever wonders about my plans is if my roommate just feels curious or has not seen me all weekend and wants to know how I have been spending my time. She, unlike family, just likes the chit chat and does not expect any ulterior motives behind the "he" who might be included in one of my sentences, or the "where" of our gatherings. When, as many who know me understand, there is never an ulterior motive or anything borderline sexual with how I spend my time. Risque and cleverly adulterated opportunities do not arise very often, and if they do, I am more clever than it and hold my head about "who," "how," and "how far" a situation carries. While my parents will say they are just curious, at school, no one asks unless I bring up the issue. I like it that way. I am a private person, and I typically like to keep it as such. Family does not always seem to respect such a reality--might even feel offended. It is who I am, though. My roommate, hallmates, and friends understand it and respect it. Because of that, the feelings are reciprocated. It is a place of freedom and friends. I can be myself, and I can grow. And even that takes work.

While my father's figure disappearing into the distance might actually depress me for a minute, I am there because I have a job to do, a future to secure. I have dreams, and I want them fulfilled. Though my next scheduled break is not until my spring break in March, I might find at least one reason to sneak back home and spend a weekend with the family. Though I am enjoying being on my own, I need them as much as they need me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snow in this metro? Be still my heart!

I had been waiting for it for a year: the tapping of water dripping from faucets. It had finally gotten cold enough to worry with freezing pipes. While this is not an uncommon occurrence, one must take into consideration I am significantly further south while at school, so coming home to actual winter-y weather made my heart skip a beat. Now it had dropped to a mere 19-degrees, and I was unsure of what to do with myself. However, I knew what the forecasts had planned for Thursday, January 7: snow. There is something about this time of year that warms me, though my hands may be cold to the touch.

I had lost all hope for snow. It was as if the skies were teasing me--clouded skies, but no moisture. Then it happened: sleet. The icy death-rain began stabbing the ground as if to say, "Take that, dirt!" (Which, usually, I would encourage, however thought it rather inappropriate and rude. Sleet, why must you be so mean?) The sleet finally died down, and my eyes grew wide, as, right outside my window, snow began to fall. Snow! Real snow! Or, the more-ice-less-fluff Georgians call snow.

It did not stay long, and only left small remnants of its journey tucked in corners of the yard or on the rails of the porch, but I did not mind. I was just happy to see snow. My one wish was to see snow before I had to go back to school--I know I will never see any there. This was my miracle.

Luckily for me, my joy and dancing was not held in contempt through my brother's efforts for too long. Later in the night, more snow began to fall, and this time, faster and harder than earlier in the day. The best part was it was actually sticking to the ground. As of this moment, we have an amazing white gift in our yard.

There is just something about snow that makes me so happy. Now, I can wear my super-soft pajamas and go to sleep and pray it is there when I wake up in the morning.