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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flying

Does it feel, feel like you never gon’ find nothing better?
— Charlie Puth, “Does It Feel”

When I love a song, I love it. I listen to it on repeat, sometimes for hours, other times for days. Music has this beautiful way of painting pictures in my mind, scenes from daydreams that I can replay over and over or expand upon, depending on the lyrics, rhythm, and my mood. Poets do it too, paint pictures with words. I’d like to have that skill, one I believe is a magic of sorts. Words have an indescribable power.

As I was thinking about this on my flight yesterday (today?), I had a few semi-poetic thoughts myself.

1. From all I’ve read and seen of love, most lovers must be like clouds. They appear embracing and safe and lovely, but if you take a leap of faith (or foolishness), they won’t hold you up.
2. Soaring above the horizon of clouds, the setting sun looks like molten lava.
3. Sunrise turns the clouds into cotton candy: pink mist that gives me hope in this beautiful, twisted world. Then the cloud-mist changes, absorbing the sun’s rays until it’s an orange creamsicle. The pastel hues are gentle, like watercolors, and they soothe my exhaustion, lulling me into content as I stare out the airplane window for hours, watching the sky change.

Now I’m sure a writer could turn these observations into majestic prose, but I’m not a “real” writer and am too jet-lagged to bother with trying to be at the moment. Meanwhile, Iceland is EXPENSIVE. Which I knew, but I didn’t quite know it was $27-hamburger expensive. Needless to say, I’ll be consuming a steady diet of bread, peanut butter, and bananas for the remainder of my stay.

I recently read this quote on the back of On Booze, “a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s best drinking stories” (I haven’t read it, so I can’t confirm or deny this claim), and thought it was perhaps the truest, most relatable quote I’ve read in my life:

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

Tell me about it, Fitz.

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unfiltered thoughts

thoughts:

I think I missed my Birkenstocks and my dog more than anything while I was away. Does that make me “basic” or just simple?
Buying a Kindle was the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. I don’t know exactly why I never gave it a chance before, but it’s completely changed reading for me, and therefore my life.
My mom wanted me to get checked after that night. I told her no, listed off a plausible reason why it wasn’t necessary. Maybe I just don’t want to know.
I’m torn between wanting stability and normalcy and nice things, and wanting adventure and uncertainty and spontaneity. I think the latter desire is winning out, and I’m glad for that.
I was overwhelmed and surprised by the support I received after my last post. What began as an angsty stream-of-consciousness exercise turned into an apparently admirable excerpt to many of the people, particularly adults, in my life (or rather, on my list of Facebook friends).
I’m going to try to stop picturing their faces, the ones of the boys I admire, or at least to picture them less. There’s no use obsessing over the idea of people and being in love. Someday I’ll find the real thing.
I am completely enraptured by Lorde’s new album, Melodrama. Merde, I connect so fiercely to all of her brilliant beats and lyrics.
I have a mystical fascination with the stars, the night sky. I don’t know much about astronomy, but constellations and the concepts of starlight and stardust frequently consume my thoughts.
I wish I could write the way great poets can. I’ve been told that I’m a good writer, but when I read the works of poets like Lang Leav, I can’t imagine being able to skillfully and creatively craft words and weave meaning into them so poetically. To convey so much in so little space, with so little ink—and yet evoke so much emotion in the writer and reader alike. Poets astound me.
I think the most important word in the female vocabulary is no. I think we should sit in front of our mirrors and practice saying it, see what it looks like rolling off our tongues. Taste it on our lips. Hear what it sounds like: power. We should practice until it comes out easily, naturally. So that when we need the word, out in the big wide world, we don’t hesitate or stumble over it or stifle it for the sake of others or because we are unsure how to use it.

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The Martian by Andy Weir

20829029Novel: The Martian by Andy Weir | Goodreads
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Crown
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Andy Weir originally self-published The Martian in 2011. No wonder the novel eventually got picked up by a big publisher and adapted into a blockbuster film this year – it’s fantastic. While I have yet to see the movie, The Martian is a thrilling, adult science fiction novel that will appeal to a wide range of readers. I am not a science person at all. I have to work harder in my science classes at school to learn and prepare for tests, and I still don’t feel like I fully comprehend the material a lot of the time. So, naturally, much of the science in this book went completely over my head. But while I may not have understood all of the astrophysics concepts, I did appreciate the vast amount of research and knowledge Weir poured into his novel. The Martian is one of those books that makes you smarter just by you reading it.

Aside from the scientific specifics, the plot and protagonist stand out from those in other science fiction books I’ve read. Mark Watney is intelligent, hilarious, and, at times, a bit crude (but in a lovable way). It’s hard to imagine anyone handling being stranded alone on Mars for a year and a half, but he does with grace and a sense of humor. Mark narrates a majority of the novel through log entries, so he feels very real and unfiltered. There were times while reading where I began to feel a bit stifled by reading from one person’s perspective with little to no character interactions, but the novel would soon shift gears and give me a perspective change through NASA, the China space program headquarters, Watney’s crew, etc. (these were all written in third person). I didn’t find the plot to be predictable – there were always twists, turns, and catastrophes that Mark and the scientists watching him were able to solve through quick thinking, wit, and level heads. The Martian truly feels real, like it is actually happening or is a record of events that happened recently. In this aspect, it’s incredibly unique and it has renewed my interest in space programs.

Though I don’t read much science fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian. The only cons I can name are that, occasionally, Mark’s sarcasm seemed a little forced; I didn’t always find the science easy or desirable to follow; and at times, the story felt monotonous. However, I think the latter two “cons” were intended: space science IS complicated and the average person won’t understand all (or rather most) of it, and I think Weir wanted readers to feel the monotony of Mark’s life on Mars in order to enhance their perspective on the situation. Overall, I highly recommend The Martian to anyone who likes a witty narrator (think grown-up Percy Jackson) and is interested in a scientific space adventure. I can’t wait to watch the movie and see how it compares!

Thanks for reading.

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