17 Highlights from 2017

In somewhat chronological order.

1. My 20th Century Germany class in the spring
2. Disney (with Brianna and Korina in January, and my dad and sister in December)
3. Taking my first solo trip to Washington, D.C. (and the courage it gave me to take four more this year – discovering the freedom and ups and downs of solo traveling has shaped my entire year, and probably many years to come)
4. Feeling more confident and comfortable with who I am and who I want to be (and meeting people who helped me realize the multitude of paths available to me)
5. Katherine Jones
6. Intrepid Best of Morocco tour
7. Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert
8. Barcelona with Hannah and Kirsty
9. Snorkeling between tectonic plates in Iceland
10. Edinburgh and the people I met there
11. MacBackpackers Scottish Highlands tour, especially swimming in Loch Ness and having to hike barefoot because my flip-flops broke (but mainly the friendships those experiences led to)
12. Poland
13. Recruitment, because I grew closer to awesome people, and getting two beautiful littles (and just feeling more at home in my sorority and at school in general this year)
14. Delaney & Sarah
15. Nearly touching Harry Styles in concert at the Ryman Auditorium
16. Keeping in touch with travel friends in the fall, and visiting them in the winter
17. Christmas at Charlie’s

Honestly, I had AMAZING adventures and experiences in 2017, but it was the people who really made it a great year. So if you’re reading this, thank you. Cheers to 2018!

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2018 resolutions

Or rather, goals.

  • read more
  • explore a new continent
  • travel every school break (again)
  • ask people for book recommendations
  • write letters
  • journal more often (especially when traveling)
  • say no
  • don’t do things I really don’t want to do, but also be flexible
  • keep in touch
  • call my mom more often
  • buy less stuff; focus less on materialism (experiences > things)
  • continue hosting book club
  • plan fun date functions for my sorority
  • adventure more in Florida
  • take a road trip
  • have a volunteer or work experience abroad
  • be a positive role model for my younger sister
  • encourage others to share their feelings
  • be more consciously kind
  • talk less about others
  • continue to be open, but be more selective about who I’m vulnerable with
  • remember gratitude
  • be gentle with myself and others

drowning

I’ve been writing a blog post for days and days now––it’s hard with a concussion and negative amount of time. It’s not finished yet, and probably won’t be for awhile. In the meantime, here are excerpts from my phone notes from this week, because I haven’t been journaling the written way lately.

Excerpts

Saturday

You want to stop thinking about them. But no matter what you do to distract yourself or berate yourself or love yourself, you just can’t. It’s a tragedy.

Roses aren’t nearly as pretty without their thorns.

Sunday

Do you ever get a feeling when you go outside? Not exactly dejavu, more like – you’ve felt this before. Today feels like sweatpants and middle school.

Tuesday

Sometimes my shadow has a shadow. It’s a bit disconcerting, catching a glimpse of it while walking home alone at night. But then I think, I have two companions watching out for me in the dark.

Walking from the house to my dorm tonight, I’m struck by the distinct feeling that we’re living in our own world here. All the lights in the library are on, filled with students who, no matter what they’re studying, are all there late on a Tuesday night for the same reason. This place is for us, and that’s special. When else in our lives will we have something like this?

Wednesday

She died. Fourteen years old, cancer for a year. Now she’s gone. The funeral is tomorrow, and I wish I could go. You hear about kids dying all the time, but you don’t physically feel the tragedy of it until it’s a kid you know. I was her babysitter, her private swim coach. She was vibrant and kind and beautiful. Was. I wonder if anything signifies a loss more than the past tense.

Did she know? That she was dying? She must have been so brave, to endure that with a smile on her face. It absolutely breaks my heart to think about. One minute she was here; the next, gone.

I owe it to myself to be my own best friend, and to live my best life.

Thursday

Today. Was. So. Stressful. I was transferred to the head trauma clinic, a guy I like didn’t text me back, I took twins instead of one little, my phone was on 1% for hours, I spent $100 on little gifts, my big doesn’t want to come to steak dinner, I turned in my assignment with two minutes to spare, was informed I have to meet with the housing director regarding that horrible night, forgot I have a quiz tomorrow that I’m wholly unprepared for, desperately need a shower and a millennium of sleep, and am completely and utterly behind in absolutely everything.

That’s the beautiful and terrible thing about college – you are both independent and alone. On the good days, I see the independence as refreshing. On the bad ones, I crumble at how far away and asleep my mom is as I break down in the early hours of the morning.

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the chase

I’ve always admired Taylor Swift. In the last year, my admiration for her character may have been tested with all the scandals surrounding her reputation. However, she’s never been afraid to be honest in her lyrics, and that’s something I connect to. Her lyricism tells a story; her albums are open narratives about her love and loss, her life. Being an open person who also derives comfort from writing down my thoughts and feelings, I draw inspiration from her boldness. She owns herself and her truth and, right or wrong, that’s admirable.

The Autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place,
And I can picture it after all these days.

And I know it’s long gone,
And that magic’s not here no more,
And I might be okay,
But I’m not fine at all.

I just need that second chance. I know it’ll fade away completely if I could just have that again, only with someone else. Someone new. Someone who can stick around.

And I know it’s long gone
And there was nothing else I could do
And I forget about you long enough
To forget why I needed to

I don’t know why it’s come back to me all of a sudden this past week. I thought I’d put it all behind me, but the most insignificant fragments have returned to shatter me.

The drought was the very worst
When the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst
It was months and months of back and forth
You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore

Anyway, I’m sat in my bed listening to Lord Huron, eating a nectarine, and brainstorming a blog post for my internship. It’s 9:55 pm. I’ve been slowly working my way through The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless and it’s painful to read about Carine and Chris’ childhood. To see how much was omitted from Into the Wild, both the book and the film. There was such toxicity, such abuse in that household––it makes Chris’ decision to go off the grid all the more understandable.

Tomorrow I get to teach seventh graders about writing. How to write for fun, for stress relief, and as a way to get to know oneself better. I’m going to talk about blogging and journaling, and have them do a stream of conscious exercise my junior year English class did that changed the way I write. I’m hoping I can make them more aware of the ways writing can help them outside of academics, but I don’t have much of a lesson plan put together and get nervous speaking in front of people, so we’ll see how it goes.

I just want to dance. That’s probably my favorite thing about parties––the dancing. When I dance, I feel free and uninhibited. It’s an outlet for stress and negativity and anything else that may have built up in the course of the day or week. Dancing can also help me express things I can’t with words. Like the way the instrumentals of Avicii make me feel, or the sense of invincibility that music gives me. I’ll dance anywhere and everywhere, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing. (My G pointed to a book at brunch this morning titled “How to Behave in a Crowd” and said I should take notes.) What can I say? I take after my free-spirited and wild mother, though I’d like to think I’m a better dancer.

When you get older
Your wild heart will live for younger days
One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember.
These are the nights that never die.

When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can’t put out
Carve your name into those shining stars
Go venture far beyond the shores.
Don’t forsake this life of yours.

I’m worried about money. I spent a lot this summer, more than I anticipated or should have. Now I have another trip coming up this winter, and I know I want to go abroad for the entirety of next summer. That’s why I got a job, and my internship is paid, but I’m still anxious that I have too much catching up to do.

I hate getting “hit up.” When people want something from me, but play games or dance around it or pretend that they don’t. I have zero tolerance for bullshit and prefer bluntness over euphemisms any day. People who think they’re entitled to my time or my help irritate me to no end. Especially people I worked hard to keep in my life, before finally coming to the realization they aren’t worth it, only for them to pop up a month later like nothing has happened and try to reinsert themselves into my life (or DMs). No! This is not okay by me––be straight with me or go away, please and thank you. I’m too heated about this at the moment to phrase it any more eloquently.

Yet at the same time, it’s nice to be chased for once. To not be the one doing the chasing. And I’m in a place where I could take it or leave it, which makes remaining detached easy, and the situation, while a bit infuriating, entertaining. I’ll just sit back with a bag of popcorn and see how it plays out, although my money’s on nothing changing because nothing ever does when it comes to him.

But you’re just my type
The kind that only calls me late at night
You can’t decide if you’ll be yours or mine
I hate to say it, but you’re just my type

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revelations

“Understand I will quietly slip away from the noisy crowd when I see the pale stars rising, blooming over the oaks.
I’ll pursue the solitary pathways of the twilight meadows with only this one dream. You come too.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

I go back and forth between journaling and blogging. There’s usually no rhyme or reason; only my mood, and whether I want a pen in my hand or keys beneath my fingertips. In the last few days, I’ve been journaling a lot, trying to get some thoughts out after nearly a month of no time to think, reflect, breathe. With love week, recruitment, classes, an internship and a job, and getting strep, I haven’t had much time for the little things. Like staying in touch with my mom, or eating dinner at the house, or writing. I’m feeling behind, like a lot of things have passed me by: the chance to meet new Phis, time with friends, season 7 of Game of Thrones, and events I wanted to write about but didn’t get the chance to. I wouldn’t say I’m drowning, but I’m definitely on the verge of being overwhelmed. It’s nice (and unexpected) to be home for the weekend, so hopefully I can catch up on schoolwork, rest, and maybe some TV shows (don’t even get me started on reading––I am so behind).

I’ve taken to keeping a list of firsts. My list for the spring takes up a page in my journal; my summer list, while not yet written, will likely be longer. I’m curious to see how long this fall’s will be. I know that, realistically, the longer I live, the fewer firsts there will be. But I’d like to try to have a lot, because experiencing new things has helped me grow. And I never want to stop growing.

JOURNAL EXCERPTS

“Being sick puts a lot into perspective. You realize how much of your daily life is trivial, and what really matters. It’s made me less vain, and re-think cigarettes.”

“In the spring I grew comfortable in my own skin, something I’d been faking-till-I-made-it for years with mixed success. After this summer, I’m confident in my own skin, and I didn’t realize there was a difference until now.”

“I think there’s a critical difference between not giving a damn and not giving a fuck. The former is matter of fact; you can own your opinions without needing to defend them with a facey word like ‘fuck.'”

“It’s hard to find the right balance between hard and soft. But somehow, tortoises do.”

“You will always be my favorite what if.”

“It doesn’t hurt anymore, but sometimes I’m reminded of the memories, and for a moment, it does.”

“I wish I didn’t have so much stuff––that’s something I’m trying to be more conscious of going forward. I learned this summer that I enjoy living with less.”

“I want to keep my standards high, but that’s hard to do when you’re constantly surrounded by frat guys, or when you’re intoxicated, or lonely. I want to meet someone now, just to experience what that’s like, but my heart lies abroad, and in a few years, so too will my body.”

“I want to meet someone whose eyes give me a glimpse into their raging and beautiful soul.”

“Something I’ve learned this year: Sex doesn’t really matter. Not to me, anyway. You’re not a cooler person because you’ve had sex, or a better person because you haven’t. And sex isn’t necessarily intimate, either. Just because someone’s seen your body doesn’t mean they’ve touched your soul.”

“My memories of that time don’t rise to the surface very often, and they become blurrier each time they do. But when I wipe the fog off the lid of that glass box that holds them, they still come back in bits. Fragments. A twirl on a dimly lit dance floor, a gin and tonic in my hand. A smelly kitchen with two chairs, two beers, two souls, late night. Arms wrapped around my neck from behind, his chin resting on my head. The fire, and the trees. A pile of blankets and a swinging chair for two. A spilled glass of water; his head in my lap as I played with his hair. A couch. And two gentle kisses goodbye. This is all I remember now, and even though I don’t feel much anymore, I can remember what I felt then. The memory of it all is what brings me hope and devastation, all at once.”

“It’s hard to look at the big picture all the time. Sometimes, I just want to have fun and experience new things. New people.”

“It’s raining, like it has been all day, and the pitter-patter of droplets on my ceiling is singing my eyelids to sleep.”

Goodnight.

“I’m thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it’s hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.”
― Ada Limón, “Mowing” from Bright Dead Things

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