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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The Simple Things

Well, after nearly a month of being out of town, I’m back home and loving it. I spent a week in Portland, Maine before adventuring on to Paris, London, Belfast, and Dublin for two and a half weeks. I learned so much and gained valuable traveling experience, yet it’s good to be home. The Common App released on Saturday and I’ve begun filling out bits and pieces of it, all while studiously ignoring the essay portion. I finished a book over the weekend – The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – and it was actually the first book I’d completed since June. This year has been very slow reading-wise but so fast-paced in almost every other way. I spent a good portion of Saturday and part of Sunday totally reorganizing my bookshelves and, for better or for worse, I’m satisfied with the way they turned out. (There’s only so much a girl can do with more books than she has shelves to put them on.) I’m back to using my beloved planner after a month-long hiatus. It’s nice to feel productive again, though my suitcase still lies unpacked in my entryway. I guess it’s a work in progress.

I’ve caught up on my ridiculous reality TV shows and done even more college research, slowly whittling down my top choices and safety schools into a selection that will hopefully comprise my final list. I’m touring three more schools in mid-September, and possibly one or two more after that, though nothing of the sort is firmly planned. I started posting on my “bookstagram” account again yesterday after a very long and unintended absence. (For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the word bookstagram is used to describe an Instagram account dedicated to bookish posts.) My family has been eating home-cooked meals for dinner since I returned from Europe and it’s a surprisingly welcome change. The baked ziti and delicious salads have been my favorite parts so far.

Yesterday was a particularly good day: I had a balanced day of relaxation and productivity. I managed to watch TV, work on college stuff, nap, and exercise and truthfully I was very proud of myself. *Pats self on back.* Then one of my closest friends and I went out for dinner at a newish sushi joint called Kelp. While the service was mediocre, the menu was awesome and the food we tried – crab rangoon, the Mexican roll, and a tempura fried tofu and sweet potato roll – was fantastic. It’s not a pricy place either, so if you’re in the area and looking for reasonable and delicious sushi, then check it out. Afterwards, we tried to rent The Hobbit from RedBox, but it was unavailable so we went back to my house and watched the first Lord of the Rings movie. I hadn’t watched it in a few years, and had forgotten there was so little action in the first installment (compared to the next two, of course). However, I enjoyed seeing Tolkien’s Middle-earth brought to life again and we have plans to watch the second movie later this week when the weather’s supposed to be awful.

One of my other good friends is turning 18 on Monday, which is crazy. I haven’t seen her in forever due to us both having hectic schedules and being out of town, but I’m looking forward to celebrating with her and her family this weekend. She requested a Thanksgiving-style dinner because she adores Thanksgiving and I absolutely love the idea. More home-cooked food… Yay!

It’s my half-birthday today. I finally get to see my trainer again and I’m thrilled because he’s sardonic and witty and lovely because of it. We get along grandly and I have a few fridge magnets to give him from my travels that he can add to his ever-growing collection. What I’m learning from my few days of being back is that home, family, and the simple things are those that I sometimes forget to appreciate at their full value and that they deserve to be recognized more often. Getting away from it all and seeing the world is amazing. I cherished my trips while I was on them, and before, and after. But learning to appreciate the quirks of your family, the flaws of your friends, and the familiarity of your hometown is harder when you’re here living through it all. It’s easy to love what you don’t have, so it’s easy to miss these things when you’re away from them. The trick is learning to appreciate what you have while you still have it. It’s an invaluable lesson. And I’m still learning.

Lately

Hellooo.

As usual, life has been hectic lately. I most likely won’t have new content going up on Gemrene over the next two weeks (aside from a book review on Tuesday) due to AP exams. I’ve got four in the next week or so and I’ll be studying and freaking out and essentially not making time to post. However, every so often when I feel myself getting caught up in the fast-paced time crunch of everything, I like to sit down and reflect a bit on what’s been occurring in my life – good and bad.

The Good
1. The Lightning won their series in the first round of the playoffs and advanced to the second round to face the Canadiens. Last night they won their first Round 2 game in a double overtime thriller.
2. I did well on my practice exams for AP Calc and AP Psych. Hopefully those results are applicable to my future exam scores!
3. I was inducted into my school’s highest honor society Thursday.
4. I saw part of one of my good friend’s last musical theater performances in Cabaret last Saturday.
5. I have been feeling very thankful for my friends and most of my teachers.
6. I took the U.S. History SAT Subject Test this morning and thought it went pretty well. Fingers crossed!
7. I finished the book for April book club – Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger – and attended the meeting. I’ve been surprisingly reflective since reading it.
8. I took the ACT in April and got my scores back. They were solid.
9. I absolutely adore the family I regularly babysit for.
10. There are several great books that have either recently released or that are about to release that I’m highly anticipating reading… when I finally have time.
11. The Rangers and the Blackhawks (my two backup teams) also advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

The Not So Good
1. I didn’t receive a board position on Beta Honor Society or Gold & Black honor society.
2. I’m still waiting to hear about leadership positions for several clubs, namely Social Studies Honor Society.
3. I’m probably going to retake both the SAT and ACT in June because I’m perfectionistic and masochistic. :))
4. On a whim this morning, I decided to take the Literature SAT Subject Test cold (no practice, no prep). This turned out to be a terrible decision.
5. I haven’t been babysitting as often lately, which means less money and less time with my fun second family.
6. My cousin is extreme dieting, has highly distorted body image, and is struggling with mental illness. I feel helpless.
7. I haven’t had or made time for pleasure reading.
8. I have a TON of studying, test prep, and practice tests to do. A TON.
9. I’m nervous for my exams and I’m also sleep-deprived and I’m also an insomniac the night before exams and also I get major test anxiety. Yay for assessments that may or may not decide where I get into college!
10. My current mid-quarter grades in my two honors classes are lower than all my other grades and I’m eager to raise them, but annoyed that they need to be raised in the first place.
11. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the right now’s and the summer to-do’s, but I simultaneously feel like I’m not doing enough to compete with my peers at school and around the world who will be applying to the same schools I am. AGH.

So basically, my life revolves around school, hockey, and a tiny bit of miscellaneousness. I think that after AP exams I may be able to calm down, though maybe not if I am stressing about June standardized tests. I have a post idea I want to write at some point soon while it’s fresh: a post about passion. Anyway, good luck to future me in my exams and good luck to any of you who are taking them these next two weeks! Bonne chance.

Thanks for reading my rambles.
xx. Martha