Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Finding the Right Words To Say

I cannot believe I have almost completed my first year of college. Last weekend, I would have been completely happy to hear that soon I will be gone. However, since then I have had some time to think about my life here and what I will miss. I do love this campus and the people. Before I know it, my time with these professors that I enjoy will be over and this campus and town that I have walked all over will be too far to just travel to by foot. I have discovered new, amazing places to take pictures on this campus and around town just by taking a nice stroll with friends--friends who have proven to be some of the best people I could ever meet. This place is like another world entirely from my home.

The tears might come or at least the moments of, "Aw, I'm going to miss you." But I really cannot wait to go home to my old friends and my family. I need to see them. I love what I have learned in my first year here through friends, professors and on my own. I appreciate everyone who has entered my life, good or bad, and taught me something new. Which is what makes this moment so bittersweet. I want anyone I have met during my stay here, who might be reading this, to understand they mean the world to me, and even if we have had our differences, this heart will still beat for them and I will still be there when they need it.

Along with those friends I expect to keep, it is particularly interesting the amount of people who have come in and out of my life so easily this year. I remember when I was younger, if a friend and I stopped speaking, I would be so hurt by it. I used to hold onto people and friendships as if I had nothing else going for me. Which was never true, I was just sensitive. Now, I have learned, in the years I have grown, how to make my days with someone last as important memories, and if they leave, learn to let them go. In the next however-many-years-it-takes-me-to-graduate, I hope that I can keep the close friends I have now, make more, and have enough pictures and memories to last me a lifetime.

I am closing this chapter of my life and welcoming the summer sun with open arms. I cannot wait to be reunited with everyone that made me who I was before I came to school, and make more memories with them this summer. It is nice to know that I never truly have to say "good-bye," to anyone. This is simply, "See you later."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Every Candle Has A Name

Friday night, I attended the Relay for Life event on campus. For me, it was just one step closer to my true healing of my mother's passing and my acceptance of who she was and who she was to me. There were booths set up for different activities, games, food and little things like glow stick bracelets and necklaces.

The Luminaria was my favorite part. Lines of bags with candles inside were laid out down the path to walk and lit in honor of those who lost, won and are currently fighting the battle against cancer. It was a very humbling moment.

The poem "Every Candle Has A Name" by John W. Storey was read, and the final stanza really spoke to me:

There’s a name
Of the ones who are still here.
There’s a name
Of those gone we still hold dear.
There’s a name
Each one shining in the flames
And we know,
That every candle has a name.

For many, the world is bigger than their circle of friends or the size of their yard. For many, their life is completely unpredictable and the future is unknown. Every walk in the park could be their last. Every visit to the doctor could be more than just a visit. Every birthday is counted, every anniversary is cherished. Dates and numbers are stored to look back on later just in case tomorrow does not bring more memories.

We often forget the reality and horrid truths of our world in the midst of our blind happiness. While I believe in being positive and always looking towards the future with a smile, one cannot forget no one has complete control over their life. To believe otherwise would be shameful.

I am okay with understanding I will never be in control of everything. It is, after all, what keeps life interesting. And when faced with a challenge, staying positive is the best way to fight it and understanding that whatever happens, happens for a reason. The more someone tries to fight nature/God's plan, the worse the outcome will be.

I wish more people understood that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Need To Compartmentalize

I wish I could say I care that it is Earth Day, or that it feels wonderful outside, or all of the pleasantly joyful things I might typically say. But this is no typical day for me. Today is the day I organize my notebooks and start an intense studying schedule for the numerous tests, quizzes and final exams I will be facing within the next couple of weeks. It is a stressful time for us all.

Which is why I asked a friend of mine to pray for me before I left home Sunday. We did not sit down and pray, but he did promise he would. That was enough to keep me smiling despite my unwillingness to come back to campus and fight these beasts. Sometimes, I wonder what I would do without him in my life. I gave him the best hug I could muster and did not want to let go. He has faith in me, and because he has faith that I will get through it all, I have to have faith that I can push through anything.

There are people in my life that believe I can do anything. While I politely disagree, it is nice to have that biased support. I am not sure where I would be without it. I probably would not even be in school if there had not been a group there telling me I could do well and it would benefit me later.

So, despite my want to just wrap myself in a blanket and sleep until my summer vacation begins, I am going to push forward, but not before I give a little thanks. I have to remember I am here and worth something because of those that give me worth. I am no one without someone beside me who thinks I am worth the cheer. To all of my blogging friends who always leave me wonderful comments, and to all of my friends and family who are always there for me: thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

I needed to take the time to remember why I am here and push aside those pathetic feelings of wanting to give up when I am so close to the end. I have a reason and a purpose for being here and people who care whether or not I make it. I will make it through this. I just need to compartmentalize: first my mind, next my notes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Signs Pointing Home

After a long night of traveling, I love nothing more than seeing the signs on the road that point to home. The exit numbers changing, getting closer to my own. And of course, my favorite sign: the sign with my hometown plastered all over it. Thursday night, Shanna came to campus and we made the three-hour journey back home. Goosebumps overwhelmed me as I read the sign for our exit. I was home. Though the house was out of clear view, I was still home and that is all that mattered.

When we entered the town square, I was reminded how much I love this place. The Square, to me, is the most beautiful place in the entire world. And I know that might seem like an exaggeration given I have not been many places, but nothing can compare to the quaint shops and the glorious court house with its amazing clock tower. Something about the square gives me joy no matter what time of year it may be. And the further I am from it, the more I long to see it. The more I wish I were walking around, enjoying the sunshine, watching children play, or grabbing a nice lunch at one of the restaurants on the corner, or getting a freshly-baked cupcake from the bakery.

I have spent so much of my life in the square with friends or by myself. It is home. Nothing else could compare. And while this town continues to grow, and trees are cut down to build pointless strip malls or gas stations, it is in the square where everything feels the same and where I am comforted after being away for too long.

Signs are a powerful thing--whether they be signs from God, Allah, or the devil; signs pointing to a hot spot where the teens like to loiter; or signs pointing to a long-awaited destination. Signs show a person where they want to go and where they are headed. I have just a couple of weeks left before my spring semester finally reaches an end, and I cannot wait to make the trip again just so I can see all the signs as I get closer to home once more for 3 months of summer vacation. I have plans this summer and personal projects I want to start. And just as where everything ends, it will all begin here: home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Teenage Girl In Hip-Hop America

I am a seemingly normal small-town girl, but hip-hop corrupts all young minds. It makes a girl sing. It makes a girl dance. It takes a quiet girl and turns her into something she would not typically be without the influence of a rhythmically intoxicating beat. Most people would not believe it if they have not witnessed it firsthand, but I love to dance. Granted, I am not one for clubs at all, but I love to be with my best girlfriends listening to music and dancing, or just being in my own room moving. (Preferably the latter; I am a bit of a private person, after all.)

Ever since I was younger and got a taste of the turn-of-the-millenium pop/hip-hop, it was almost imperative that I turn the music up and dance--which usually involved me shaking things Mamma probably wished she had never given me. Though the best part for her was, I made sure the door was closed so she did not have to hear me blast remixes of Mandy Moore's album, "I Wanna Be With You (Special Edition)," or watch me move around like a fool until I really got the hang of it. (Truth be told, I looked more like I was choreographing Napoleon Dynamite's dance routine in those days rather than grooving like a professional.)

With all of my friends, I am known as: clutz, spazz, retard, dork, and a numerous other degrading and not-so-graceful things, but I am okay with it. With my best friends, I am the loyal goof-ball that is serious the minute someone needs it and then acts stupid just to hear the sounds of laughter and see the smiles. I enjoy making people happy. It is no surprise even some of my closest friends might not believe I love to dance. Of course, they might believe it, but probably would not assume I have any talent.

On every street corner of America, there are girls from ages 13-19 who are moving and grooving to today's best hip-hop. They cannot help it. Their iPod could consist of nothing but Terra Naomi and Regina Spektor, and still, when "Drop It Low" by Ester Dean starts playing, they do just that. It is a complex thing being a teenager in Hip-Hop America. As teenage girls, we lead a difficult, often, secluded life: one of double-playlists and unheard of gyrations. Will the insanity ever end?

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Good Friday

I woke up at 7:30 this morning to call my friend, Elizabeth, and make sure she was not running late. After having a mental breakdown, she decided to travel back home--an hour away--and sleep there for the night. We had a geology test this morning at 11:oo and I could not let her miss it. If I was going down, she was going down with me. It is what friends do for one another, after all. Luckily, today was much better for Elizabeth and I than yesterday. Sometime while she was home, she had an epiphany: everything is going to be alright. (Because when I said it to her fifteen times yesterday, it just would not stick. Which I can understand, but my usual talent for giving advice does not typically go ignored as it did with her.) Last night, I was cranky and managed to even pout about the rain, and then woke up this morning to wonderful 65-degree weather. Thank you, Spring.

The plan was simple: take my geology test (speed through it, actually) and escape the depressing lecture hall with enough time to spare for an actually satisfying lunch and entertain Elizabeth before she had to venture to her Spanish class--a language to which I am happy I never bothered learning. I hate the lecture hall. It is too large, and full of too many students. A majority of the students that are present test day, I would have never guessed were even on the roster. Most of the time, the auditorium is all too vacant. We found a space on the second row. Perfect! I wanted to be somewhere close. I could turn the test in and leave without disrupting too many people. However, we were not the only ones trying to make plans for a quick escape. Soon enough, the whole row was full of students. I completed the test half-heartedly in 20 minutes. Then came the most challenging part of the morning: getting out of the row of seats to turn in the answer sheet.

I managed to scoot out of the row seemingly fine. The only problem was my foot apparel. I was wearing flip-flops. Not my best idea considering squeezing past people's knees and desks is grounds for more athletic attire. Most of the students on our row were also some of the same students who overheard me say, "And he likes anal," a week before, and I am sure they remembered, which meant I got a few grins as I passed. The acoustics in the lecture hall are very good--another reason to hate the class. I would love to say the conversation was more harmless than my outburst would imply, however, I would have to, unfortunately, lie about the entire context of the conversation itself. I am not one for lying. But I will ease everyone's mind by stating it was all in humor. We were not having a serious sexual conversation in the middle of our stimulating class about rocks, dirt, and more rocks. But I digress, one of my flip-flops managed to catch on the bottom of my jeans so I almost tripped walking to the front of the room. I really hate test days.

Elizabeth managed to follow my horrific, clumsy example not but ten minutes later. I was waiting for her outside of the room, and we walked to the parking deck for some food. Our destination was Slap Daddy's, a burger joint just on the outskirts of campus. Elizabeth has a bucket list she has constructed for me: movies I have to see and places I have to eat all before I die--which is apparently soon, because she is desperate to make these things happen. I have to admit, I am often nervous around her when she gets excited about these sorts of things. I was willing to try something new for lunch, though. I was sick of campus food and wanted a real burger. As greasy and unhealthy as you could make it. The place was kind of small, but I loved the service. And the burger was well worth being on my bucket list. I almost convinced myself to a get a t-shirt before we left, but there is time for that, contrary to what Elizabeth's list might infer about my lifespan. I am even happier to announce that while it may have been unhealthy, it was, in no way, as greasy as I was imagining. I have had worse from bigger chains.

While I was the epitome of "lady-like," plowing into my cheeseburger like an untamed 5-year old, dropping half of the contents back onto the table, Elizabeth could not seem to keep her thoughts to herself. It is not as if I minded, it was just something I noticed. She noticed it, too, but it did not stop her from talking. I was happy to hear her reminisce and become consumed in her moving-on-ness. It was much better than her constant babble about how sick and tired of everything she was. While I was there to comfort her tears, there is not much one can do for another when the advice given goes unnoticed. As I wrestled with an onion (because my open-bite makes it hard for me to bite down on sliced-onions, as much as I love them), she was lost in the past, smiling. It was not until she noticed my gruesome battle against my vegetable toppings that she stopped to smile at something else: me. Why is it so hard for people to pretend I am not mentally and physically challenged?

As much as I have loved today, it is just not my day to be graceful. Not that it ever is my day to be graceful. But while I was lighthearted, it is nice to know I was not just being humored by Elizabeth today, she was genuinely lighthearted and free of any of the world's weight. This is what I call a good Friday.

Monday, April 5, 2010

To Touch

I am moving forward with a new chapter in my life. This new chapter is called "Touch."

My year as a freshman in college is swiftly reaching an end, and while I cannot remember every detail of every memory I still have within my grasp, I do remember the impact each moment had on my life. I remember all the times I was right, and most importantly, all the times I was wrong. I see the impressions I have made as well as the people who are only left with those first-time impressions. And I have discovered who I am and the person I want to be.

I have said it plenty of times: I want to be moved and move others. But I would rather talk about those who have moved me, not just what I think I have done in the face of knowing who I am. The very fact that these people continue to be present in my life proves I have left a mark on them, so to stroke my ego anymore would be a waste and too hypocritically pretentious. Just because it is my first time meeting someone does not mean they did not have a life before me. Their lives and their stories are just as important, and I want to know them.

To touch a person does not just mean to be some sort of Heavenly being that floats down to a person and changes their life. Touch is a sense to which works best when both parts can feel the change and are transformed by the experience. As much as I would love to help others, I need help, too. We all do. I want to build relationships. I want to reach out and have an extended family full of people who want to love just because love is something we all need. I want there to be assurance in everyone I meet that love is there, if they need it, much as I will from time-to-time.

If the stories are heartbreaking, I assure anyone who is to approach me, I can break their heart, too. But it is not about depressing people. Even people who have lead relatively "happy" lives still have something interesting to say. Often times, they are the ones with which I would rather surround myself. They are the ones, with optimism galore, who can lift me up when I am down. I cut myself off from most emotion before this year began. But I realized, fighting back tears is harder than letting them flow.

I would rather be a passionate person than a cold one.

I am learning, and I want to know what others have learned. What lessons do they have that they could teach me? I want to learn what it really means to touch a person and have them touch back.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everyone! I really hope you remember what it is about and make the day amazing! :D

I was sitting here believing that I did not have much to say, and then it struck me: in lue of getting my very first blog award, I should create one and pass it along. I did not think I was worthy of that sort of recognition, but it made me smile to get one, and now I am passing one on to the following bloggers who make me smile: