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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meet me in the woods

I took a little journey to the unknown,
And I come back changed. I can feel it in my bones.
— Lord Huron, “Meet Me in the Woods”

It’s been weird, being back. At first, I was stuck in Tampa, bored for two weeks. Now, I’m in Gainesville for my sorority’s recruitment process, and I’m unsettled. I feel restless, dissatisfied, and neither utterly happy nor unhappy. Not content, but not discontent either. I’m yearning for more, but trying to adjust to what will be my reality for the next four months, the life I loved just four short months ago in the spring.

I’m a long way from the one that I loved
I’ve been tending old flames, lamenting what was.
— Lord Huron, “Way Out There”

I’m experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance, because sometimes sorority life, and especially the recruitment process, goes so much against my values as a feminist that I want to scream. Sororities are organizations meant to uplift and support women, yet in some ways they restrict and belittle them by making decisions for them and attempting to control, or manage, their behavior, dress, etc. I don’t know how the others don’t see it, how they don’t feel a twist inside their gut every time our chapter advisor gets up to instruct us about wearing Spanx, every time mandatory spray tan sign-up lists get posted, every time we’re told how to act around boys so that they’ll like us. How it doesn’t raise their hackles when nationals rejects our event proposals because they’re “too dangerous,” “too much of a liability,” a “PR risk.” All of these examples show a lack of trust in our ability as grown women to make our own choices. Instead of acting as institutions with women’s best interests at heart, sororities have become national enterprises that aim to guide women according to their standards and, in doing so, discourage them from choosing for themselves what those standards should be. It’s not just my chapter or sorority; it’s all of them. While there are amazing qualities about my sorority that keep me in it, like the sisterhood (it sounds cheesy, but it’s real), sense of community, wonderful friends, and other perks, the superficial, petty, and misogynistic elements that are associated with Greek life as a whole sicken me. Some elements of sorority life, like the recruitment process, are so antiquated, and others mandate conformity or degrade women, even though the people in charge (and most of the chapter) don’t seem to see it. I know they don’t mean badly, but that doesn’t matter to me, nor does it minimize the harm done in a society where women are already held to high and ridiculous double standards.

I been unraveling since my birth
Gonna wander out there and see what I’m worth.
— Lord Huron, “Way Out There”

For the last two years, I’ve been in limbo. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or study and I constantly changed my mind about both. There was no plan; I had no single ambition or goal to strive towards. In the spring, I finally accepted this state of being, embracing my passion for history and the concept of living in the moment. I’d figure it out eventually, and that was okay. But then I took a backpacking trip to Europe for nearly three months this summer, and I came back changed. Different, in some ways. I’ve always been independent and aware of the world around me, but traveling alone increased those qualities tenfold. And for the first time in a long time, perhaps with the strongest conviction yet, I realized, or rather felt: this is what I want to do. I want to see the colors of other skies, swim in faraway seas, dance on narrow cobblestone streets at night, and howl at the moon in a field full of wildflowers. I want to live through every time change, experience different cultures and levels of development, taste exotic foods, and, to put it simply, see the world. Traveling this summer taught me that I could do it. I met people who travel for a living, or work jobs that allow them the opportunity to travel often. It’s within reach now, except for the fact that I’m at university for the next few years and probably shouldn’t won’t drop out. And that’s all good and well, because most of the people I met were at least a few years older than me and had gone through university or a traineeship or something that kept them from traveling longterm for awhile. I have to remind myself that I just have a head start, that I can be in their place in a few years if I want to, that I’m not “missing out.” But watching their Snapchat stories and reminiscing on the amazing time I had, it’s hard not to have a little bit (or a lot) of FOMO. To feel like my reality is a waste of time, and that I’d learn, see, and do so much more if only I were somewhere else. I realize it’s not the best attitude, and I’m working on it, because once school starts and recruitment is over, reality will get better.

But it won’t be the same as it was in the spring, and neither will I.

What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given
If all you do is stand in one place?
— Lord Huron, “Ends of the Earth”

p.s. Thank you, Kat and Delaney, for letting me talk through my thoughts; Sarah, for commiserating with me; and Dillon, for recommending Lord Huron in my time of need. I am blessed to have you all in my life. xx

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the spring

Light staggers through the trees.
Every moment is filled with other moments.
Richard Jackson, from “About This Poem,” Out of Place: Poems (Ashland Poetry Press, 2014)
It’s so strange, the flow of time. How its passing seems slower or quicker than it actually is, depending on the season, the semester, the people I’m surrounded by. And how it flows differently for different people depending on their circumstances. This spring has been one of the best of my life. So much has changed, I’ve grown so much, and everything that caused me unhappiness in the fall seems to have turned completely around. If I’m being honest, I’m sad to see it end, to have summer right around the corner—just four days away—if only because I can’t quite recall the last period of time I’ve been this content. This happy. They say all good things must come to an end, and I wonder whether I’ll be able to pick it all back up again in the fall. Whether the people I’ve met, the internal changes, will be the same. Of course, realistically, they won’t be. Four months is a long time, and everyone will change over summer. How much, is probably a better question.
I’m sure I will change too. I’m going to travel on my own on at least two other continents for over a month. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous—about navigating places and cultures and languages so different from my own, all alone. I’m nervous about the little details, and getting everything in order, and whether I’ve planned everything right (or perhaps too much). I’m nervous about fitting five or six weeks’ worth of stuff in a tiny carry on bag, and about being too worried about logistics to actually enjoy my trip. But I’m also incredibly excited to see other parts of the world and do it alone and be totally self-sufficient. I know I can handle it. I hope I will well.
This semester has definitely been defined more by my social life than by school. It’s been an adjustment, but a good one; one that I hope will lead to a better school/life balance in the future. I’ve met some wonderful people, and grown closer to friends from the fall. I certainly have branched out, in more ways than one, and, as my mom put it, have really come out of my shell. I’m proud of my growth, my increased social confidence, and my open-mindedness. This spring has felt a bit like junior year of high school, just ten times better.
I’ve honestly had the time of my life.
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catching up

“You’ve got the look of a girl who’s no stranger to the page. I can tell. You’ve got words in your soul.”

Normally this would be an excerpts post. It’s going to be jumbled and stream of consciousness style–I honestly don’t know what I’m sitting down to say tonight. But I haven’t written a post since August, and that one doesn’t really count–it was a playlist post. I haven’t written, either on my blog or in my journal, since starting college. And so, so much has happened in the last few months. Sometimes I wonder why I avoid writing, because it’s usually quite therapeutic for me, but I think life just kept happening and things kept changing and there was so much to say and not enough time to sit down and say it. I’ve definitely been putting it off. But I’ve finally given in to the urge to pour out some of my thoughts and feelings tonight and my journal is back in my dorm room at university, so naturally I turn to Gemrene.

“Wander often. Wonder always.”

So where to begin? This fall, I started college. The change that comes with moving to a new place, even if it’s only a few hours away from my hometown, and adjusting to the strange interim period that university is in my life, has been challenging. I don’t hate college, but I don’t love it either. It’s neither spectacular nor awful. Yet I don’t feel entirely neutral about it. I don’t quite know how to articulate, either in writing or with spoken words, how college has been for me thus far. I’ve done things, like joining a sorority, that I never imagined doing. I’ve switched roommates; I thought I would love my first one but it didn’t work out at all, yet my current roommate is an incredible blessing in my life. I’ve “gone out”, put myself out there, and met some wonderful new people. I’ve changed my major once already and am probably going to change it again. I’ve taken a step towards studying abroad this upcoming summer and am planning an overseas trip by myself for spring break. Writing it all down, I’ve done a lot.

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.”

I feel like a very different person than I was in high school, yet some things are still so familiar. For one, I’m not so focused on success and high achievement and doing things just to list them on a resume. For that, I am proud. I’m not quite as much of the high stress person I used to be, but I’m still far from where I’d like to be when it comes to managing my stress and anxiety. Surprisingly, for me, I have little idea what I want to do with my life. I have a few ideas, sure, but mainly I just want to be happy. I want to have the time and money to do and have the things that matter to me: travel, hockey games, books and reading, and two kids someday in the distant future. I want to be balanced. I want to enjoy my job. Basically, I want a high quality of life, measured not in “success” or income or prestige, but in my happiness and the ability to provide for myself the things I want to be able to have or do. But aside from that, everything’s still a blur. And while I’m only a freshman and everyone keeps telling me I have so much time, I look back and see how quickly my four years of high school went by. I’m almost finished with my first semester of university, meaning I have 7-9 semesters left. And I really, really want to make the most of them.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

I want to get another tattoo. I know what, and generally where, it will be and hopefully will have it permanently etched into my skin by the end of the year. I want to learn how to balance my time better at school, because living at school makes that even harder than it was in the past. I want to read more books, travel more, see more of the world, discover new music and new perspectives, and meet amazing new people who will inspire me and become important figures in my life. I want good friends, to budget my money wisely without being frugal, to try out new restaurants, and to take lots and lots of pictures. I want to live a full, beautiful, and meaningful life.

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

Until Next Time.

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2015 Recap

With the end of one year and the beginning of another, I find that I do a lot of thinking and reflection on the past 365 days of my life. As I was pondering the year 2015, I began to realize just how much happened and changed for me this year. So I thought I’d write a 2015 recap that highlights my, well, highlights, of 2015. Enjoy.

I met Lightning players and got cool, autographed stuff.
This year, I met (and took photos with!) goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and left wing Ondrej Palat. My dad won me a signed, game-used Valtteri Filppula stick at an auction, and I had a few chance run-ins with defenseman Anton Stralman. I also got most of the 2014-2015 team’s autographs at an open practice held in a town nearby.

The Lightning tweeted me. Several times. 
They tweeted me happy birthday on my birthday (the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars). Then they delivered a birthday cupcake to me at my seat a few days later and got the whole row to sing me happy birthday. I tweeted them to thank them and they tweeted me happy birthday again! Later in the year, they retweeted my Black Friday picture with Ondrej Palat. AH.

I joined Lit Up Review
I became a bimonthly contributor for a teen book blog run by a bunch of bibliophiles and fangirls just like me. It’s been a fun experience and has inspired me to write more book reviews/discussions.

I traveled a lot.
I went on five trips this year. First, I visited Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts over spring break in March with my dad. We toured colleges, skied, saw relatives, and attended a Lighting/Bruins game in Boston, as well as a UVM/BC college hockey game. Next, I traveled to Portland, Maine in early July with my mom, dad, and youngest brother. He had a hockey tournament, but on the off-days, we explored Portland and its surrounding area, including a few state parks. Just two days after returning home from Maine, I left with one of my best friends for Europe. But I’ll discuss that trip a bit more below. In September, I traveled to Chicago with my mom, touring colleges and taking a day trip to Indiana to attend my first college football game. The Chicago Blackhawks were also present and the team sat just yards away from us, with the Stanley Cup, no less. Finally, in December for Christmas break, my family of six traveled to Keystone, Colorado to ski for over a week. More on that below.

Zayn left One Direction. 
I think this is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll spell it out anyway. As an avid 1D fan, this was a rocky year. Zayn left the band, the four remaining boys finished their tour and released an amazing new album, and now they’re going on a yearlong break. Sigh.

I was inducted into the Order of the Gold & Black honor society. 
It’s the most selective and prestigious honor society at my school – only twenty juniors get in in the spring. And I was one of them. It’s always nice when your hard work pays off, and getting recognized for it is just a bonus.

The Lightning made the Stanley Cup Final. 
Need I say more? I attended every home playoff game and it was such a blast. Looking back on the 2015 playoffs, it was definitely one of the best times of my life. I have so much love and nostalgia for that period, though going through it was actually very intense and nerve-wracking.

I got job. 
I’ve worked all throughout high school – babysitting, tutoring, swim instructing, and working baseball concessions – but in June I started my first “real” job at a women’s clothing boutique. I think it’s been a valuable learning experience and it’s always nice to have a steady (if meager) income.

I started watching Game of Thrones.
AKA the greatest show on earth. Jon Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow. In England, I bought the complete box set of the book series, along with a Funko Pop! and Jon Snow sweatshirt. In Northern Ireland, I got to go on a Game of Thrones filming locations tour. So, so cool. (The cast was actually in the area filming at the time, but we didn’t know until we met a locations scout for the show on the bus back to Dublin.) I can’t wait for season 6!

I visited Europe for the first time. 
I left North America for the first time this year and got to travel to my favorite place on earth: Europe (sorry Canada). I visited Paris, France; London, Oxford, and Cambridge, England; Dublin and Malahide, Ireland; and Belfast, Northern Ireland (along with all the GoT tour stops, like the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge).

My best friends graduated from high school and started college.
Two of my high school best friends left my hometown to begin college this fall and it was very bittersweet. There was definitely an adjustment period I had to go through, as I was so unused to not having them around. But yay for school breaks when they come back to visit!

I became a senior.
It’s actually crazy to think about. I’ve been dreaming of this for years, but when it finally happened I just couldn’t wrap my head around it for awhile. Again, another adjustment period because it was weird at first being the oldest in the school. But now, I’m doing just fine.

I was named a National Merit Semifinalist.
This was something I distantly hoped for, but actually earning this honor was an incredible surprise. It’s opened up scholarship opportunities for me and just makes me happy and proud.

I attended some amazing concerts (key word: some). 
I attended 5 Seconds of Summer’s Rock Out with Your Socks Out Tour with my friend Kathryn in September and it was tons of fun. The highlight of the year though, in terms of concerts, was Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, which featured opening acts Shawn Mendes and Vance Joy (both were phenomenal live). For the not-so-great, I attended The Weeknd’s Fall Madness Tour, which was supposed to open with Halsey. However, she was in the hospital on my tour date. The music was too loud, people were drunk, vaping, and smoking indoors, and, while The Weeknd sounds good live, the show was just a total bust for me.

I concluded my swimming career.
I finished my nearly ten-year stint with competitive swimming at my last high school State meet. I swam really well, medaling in the medley relay and doing two personal best times in the 400 freestyle relay.

The Hunger Games film franchise ended. 
The odds are always in this film franchise’s favor: The Hunger Games films are arguably some of the best book-to-movie adaptations out there. I absolutely adore these movies – the screenplay, actors, acting, characters, plot, everything. The final installment to the series, Mockingjay Part 2, released in November and it was fantastic.

My family took its first family vacation in 2.5 years…
… And survived intact. We traveled to Colorado for Christmas – the first Christmas I’d ever spent outside of my city. We stayed there for nine days in a cozy little condo with a fireplace that warmed us from the -10 degree weather outside. Colorado is breathtakingly beautiful, and I really enjoyed the longer runs down the mountains (as opposed to the northeastern U.S., where I’ve skied in the past). And our private instructor, Will, was awesome!

I applied to colleges. 
What a hellish nightmare. Absolutely awful. 0/10, would not recommend. But seriously, joking aside, it’s not a fun process. I’ve received two acceptance letters and one deferral, but I won’t hear from the majority of schools I applied to until February or March.

Well, that’s it for me and 2015.
What were some of your 2015 highlights? 

Thanks for reading.

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