29 March 2015

Pre // Post

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Well, the honest answer there is that I don't. I haven't given much thought to where I'll be or what I'll be doing at 24 because the answers to those questions hinge so heavily on who I'll be.

But that's not exactly an answer your parents and former teachers want to hear when they ask that, so I tell them that I want to move back to Henderson (which is true) and that I want to work in local government (also true). But they're not things I want in the sense that I'm anxiously awaiting the day they become possible, laying groundwork and preparing myself for the inevitability that these things will come to pass.

I can barely imagine where I'll be in two months. Do people seriously expect me to have the next five years planned out so intricately that I'll have even a semblance of an idea as to what I'll be doing then? Why do we expect 18 year olds to have the next 60 years of their lives mapped out?

I've tried to plan my journey: terror used to overwhelm me when things didn't add up, even the minute details. But then something would change- usually within a few days- and I'd have to get back to calculating and scheming. So much of my time was spent worrying about where I would be, I didn't have any minutes to spend on enjoying where I was.

And all of that planning- where did it get me? I certainly didn't stick to any of the ideas I'd had. I learned more about myself and changed my mind and steeled my will then crumbled it again. So why was I worrying so much about getting something I might not even want the next day?

Now I've accepted that I have no clue what I'll be, and I'm okay not trying to figure it out. I've come to terms with taking things a day or a week or a month at a time and letting things unfold as they come to me- and I'm excited to see where they'll take me.

27 March 2015

<< The College Journey >>

Part I

As spring break wraps up, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on the past several months. In August, I took my first solo step into the world outside my hometown. The day my parents drove back to Vegas without me was the day this adventure truly started. Like any good adventure, the road hasn't been easy.

For starters, the friend I planned on living with had to bail at the last minute due to financial reasons. So, two months before the start of the semester, I had a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment and no roommate. And housing arrangements had been long since made.

Cue Craigslist: forum for the desperate and despairing. (Luckily, I get along fantastically with the girl who responded to the ad.)

Oh, and a fun fact about this building? It sits right in between two cemeteries. I didn't know that until I got lost walking home one day and took a roundabout route that led me right past one.

The graves used to creep me out terribly, but I got over that fear when I began working on my photography final last semester.

And there's no way I could leave out the college parties. I've only been to a handful- they're definitely not my thing- but at least they didn't disappoint.

On my very first day in Reno, a friend of mine that also attends the university invited me to a party so that she could introduce me to people. I agreed and rode to the party with her group- five of us in all. While at the party, I got separated from everyone (partially my own fault- I felt a little pathetic following my friend around as though I had on a child's backpack-leash) and ended up in the backyard. That's where I learned what the term "shotgunning a beer" means.

Later, when it got colder (which I thought was ridiculous, because it was August, for Christ's sake!) I wandered back inside (and felt immediately overwhelmed by the life-sized sardine can I'd trapped myself in) and plopped myself down on the couch. Where I was almost immediately accosted by two drunk girls: they demanded my name (which I told them), asked if I was a freshman (I said yes), then said if I didn't like it then I could just leave. (They, of course, used a lot more expletives than I've included here.) Not longer after, a friend of theirs (also drunk) distracted them and somehow the three of them enthusiastically came to the conclusion that they should go climb the observatory. On campus. At least a twenty minute drive away.

The three of them ran out the door and, since I never heard about any climbing-deaths or whispers about "what happened at the observatory," I have to assume that they either didn't follow through or didn't get caught.

Another party I went to actually wasn't supposed to be a party. My section and I had planned a birthday party for the four of us who have birthdays in January, to be held at my section leader's house. Not even an hour in, we looked out the window and see the driveway, the sidewalk, and the street teeming with people. They trickled in slowly at first, but once something cracks, it shatters. The house was overrun in seconds. I left as soon as I heard, "Oh man, this is gonna be so much better than a dorm party."

And then there's tonight, where my friend invited me out for frozen yogurt and then we ended up playing Hide and Seek in the Quad for two hours.

But not all of the adventures have been quite so exciting.

I get lost frequently.

There have been several near-misses in terms of car accidents.

No, the dirt and debris on the carpet will not be magically absorbed and disappear. It will show up on your socks.

It took three months to get used to the streetlamp outside that turns on and off intermittently.

It is possible to keep pulling your clothes out of boxes instead of unpacking, but at some point you get tired of ironing t-shirts just so you don't look ridiculous.

Kitchens do not come pre-stocked with the cooking/baking staples.

Keep a mental list if you want to, but when you need that thing that you forgot because you didn't write it down, have fun calculating if you have enough money to buy gas to drive to Wal-Mart and to buy said item.

Living on my own, in a city I'd visited twice prior to moving: that's been the adventure.



21 March 2015

Motto

Noun. A short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or an institution.

Give up giving up.

The fifteen-year-old version of myself heard this phrase at a leadership lecture given by a high school/college-band-director-turned-motivational-speaker and ignored it in favor of his more "tangible" advice.

The next year, my sixteen-year-old self didn't attend. I'd forgotten all of his points and didn't care to try to remember. It was a low point in my history as a leader.

At seventeen, I was reminded why I loved leadership; it renewed my zeal and strengthened my determination. That year, when I heard him say those words, my ears perked up. What an interesting concept.

I liked to scrawl the sentence on pieces of notebook paper, in the margins of Calculus homework; I liked to edit photos of landscape and overlay the words in pretty fonts over trees and ships' masts and lakes. (And then post those on Instagram.)

The way those words sound together- euphonic. The ebb and flow of the syllables. I just enjoyed the music of it. Not until later did I start thinking about the meaning.

I mean, it's fairly straightforward. Give up giving up. Nothing to analyze there.

The concept is so simple, and yet in practice, I've found it to be one of the most difficult rules to follow.

I've realized just how quick I am to quit. I'm so easily discouraged. I find a task or assignment trying or frustrating, so I half-ass it because some points is better than no points and throw it away, feeling dissatisfied. I walk into lessons or lectures, already thinking up excuses or shortcuts, figuring numbers to find what the minimum amount of effort I can put in is and still maintain my GPA.

This motto is in almost complete opposition to who I am as a person. If something doesn't come easily to me, I psych myself up with try harder, it'll happen, give it some time. And then I make excuses, or I procrastinate; I avoid doing whatever it is until it's a distant memory and I'm wondering, why didn't that ever work out?

I've spent the past year trying to incorporate this phrase into my every day life and so far the only success I've had has been not giving up on trying to do so. Every goal I've worked towards in the past twelve months, both large and small, has ended with me completely forgetting about these words. Whether I achieve my ends or not, my utter lack of conviction in their attempts leaves me with an unsavory feeling. To me, not giving up includes one-hundred-percent effort.

So it's been hard, trying to live up to these words, but for some reason they're always tumbling around in my head. And even though keeping them with me throughout the past year has been the one thing I haven't given up on halfway through, it's still something. I'll hold onto that, at least.

20 March 2015

rumination

Fatigue,

but not the kind that’s cured with sleep.

Rather, the kind that comes with a weary soul.

It’s the pounding ache in your chest, in time with each thud of your heart (or maybe it is your heart). Your blood coagulates, slides torpidly through your veins. It exhausts you. You delay each breath; each expansion of your lungs takes so much out of you.

Even laying here, watching the darkness settle: the effort of keeping your eyes open is almost too much. And then the heaviness descends, suffocative, the cold penetrating your blankets. You briefly consider standing, throwing off the comforter (not that it’s done that so well), switching on the lights, but then you choke on your next breath and your heart thuds protestingly-

and you slump further into your mattress.

You can’t tell anymore if it’s the pillows or your own sadness that’s swallowing you.

15 March 2015

Top Five || TV Shows

I don't watch a lot of TV; I never really have. My roommate and I don't have cable, and when I'm at my parents' house, they've got some cooking show on more often than not. However, thanks to Netflix, I have access to an incredibly vast number of movies and series. I'm slowly catching up on every show that I didn't watch as a child (I was probably re-reading Harry Potter for the millionth time instead).

Partially due to my abundance of free time and partially due to my inclination towards procrastination, I've spent a lot of quality time with my boyfriend's Netflix account over the past year. Obviously, that qualifies me to speak on what constitutes quality television programming.

(Not really. But these are shows I really enjoyed, and I hope you do, too.)

Parks and Recreation



Hands down, my favorite show of all time— nothing I say could accurately capture the show's essence. It's silly and ridiculous, the characters are all caricatures of real life, and yet the growth and development they experience, individually and in their friendships/relationships, helps you see yourself in all of them. At first it just seems like a dumb show about building a park, but by the end, you realize it was about building a community, if you will.

Futurama

I just finished watching this, so the imprint is still fresh. Kind of a long show— 10 seasons over the course of 14 years— but every episode keeps you interested. The exposition takes you on a weird, crazy journey, and a minute later you're on a totally different adventure, having forgotten how exactly you got into this mess. Nothing's ever as cut-and-dry as it may first appear. And despite its length, it doesn't get boring or repetitive— all of its episodes are unique, and you're never able to guess what the next one will be.

Bob's Burgers

I'd seen a lot of hype on this show, but when I watched the pilot, I'll admit that I was sorely disappointed. I thought to myself, I don't like any of the characters that have appeared so far and I'm bored off my rocker. Why is this getting so popular? I gave up on it for a solid six months, until I got tired of seeing it around and not knowing the context for any of its one liners. I caved and tried watching it again and holy crap, what was freakin' wrong with me? This show was created by a genius! The characters as individuals are too outlandish to be believable, but their interactions as a family unit are entirely too true— that's part of the appeal, I think. They're so normal. They're so average. But you watch the show and go, How did they get involved with this? Why do things keep happening to them? And you keep watching hoping that maybe this time they'll catch a break (even though you know they won't).

Gravity Falls

It's a Disney cartoon, I know, but at the same time it's ridiculously complex and, at time, gut wrenching. And it gets dark, fast. I don't know why it's even still considered appropriate for kids. Unfortunately, there's only two seasons out, but the mysteries presented will create enough curiosity to last you a lifetime (the only problem is the need for more seasons to relieve you of your curiosity).



Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This is another short show (it was just released this year and only has one season) but, I mean, whoa. Tina Fey is one of its co-creators, so obviously it's got to be good. I really don't want to say much on it other than that— it's so short that just about anything could be a spoiler. Just trust me and go watch it (it's a Netflix Original Series).

[Welcome to a (possible? you tell me) new series, where I recommend/tell you about my Top Five XYZ. Hope you enjoyed this installment and let me know if you'd like to see more!]



12 March 2015

Sick Days

By which I am most definitely not referring to those days where you wake up congested and feverish; those days are sick days. What I'm referring to are Sick Days. Capital S, capital D.

They usually follow an extended period of stress or overworking; they're the days you're just so tired that even just thinking about all of your responsibilities makes you feel like you've just finished an intense workout. So instead...

You decide to play hooky. Ditch the responsibilities. Forget all the errands you were going to complete. You need a day to relax and if you don't take it for yourself, no one's going to give it to you.

They're the days where you sit back and go It's okay if I don't empty the dishwasher at exactly five o'clock. It's not the end of the world if I let the trash sit until tomorrow morning instead. 

If you're lucky, you're able to get away with missing class or calling into work- but sometimes that just tinges your day with worry. I've found that the best Sick Days begin right after I get home from my last Friday class, but I've had a few that happened when I was just so mentally exhausted that I couldn't even fathom making the trek to campus just for two or three classes.

I think everyone deserves to take Sick Days; I think everyone needs to take Sick Days every once in a while.

But what am I supposed to do on my Sick Day? What is there that's worth blowing off all my obligations?

Well... I'll tell you.


Some fun things your Sick Day could (and probably should) include:

  • Hit Snooze. Don't even think about it. Ignore the alarm. You need the sleep.
  • When you do (eventually) get up (it's also totally optional), stay in your pajamas. Or change into even comfier ones. Wear them all day.
  • Take a shower. Make it the perfect temperature and take everything a step at a time. Stand under the water for a while. Shampoo your hair slowly. Invest in a loofah and some luxurious body wash. 
  • Even better: run a bath. Buy one of those bath bombs that helped hatch that viral Internet meme. Turn off the lights, light some candles. Give yourself the ultimate bath experience.
  • If you'd rather not wear pajamas in broad daylight, get dressed. Wear your favorite outfit, but take your time. Admire yourself in the mirror. 
  • Put on your favorite playlist or CD and find your favorite lounge area and just be.
  • Go to your favorite store- coffee shop, book store, retail center, what have you. Sit, browse, people watch.
  • While you're there, buy yourself your favorite drink or a new sweater- anything that strikes your fancy.
  • Order in. If you don't know the good delivery in your area, try this website.
  • Get comfortable and make time for whatever your favorite hobby is.
  • Work on your craft. Whatever it may be. (For example, playing clarinet, or blogging, or singing, or knitting... anything.)
  • Make cookies. Or brownies. Or chicken soup. Whatever you're in the mood for.
  • That thing you've always kinda wanted to get into? Get into it. Find some youtube tutorials. Go buy yourself some simple supplies.
  • Call your favorite person. Just listen to their voice. Let it wash over you.

I'm taking a mini-Sick Day today. Here's how I'm spending it:


A large meat-lover's pizza, a Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino...





...and my boyfriend's Netflix account.


08 March 2015

On Intimacy

The water turns cold, and a yelp escapes my lips; I huddle under the stream, waiting for the warmth to return.

He slides the curtain back and peeks in, holding his razor in the hand not holding back the plastic, concern in his eyes, in the scrunch of his brow, the set of his mouth. I shake my head to dispel his worries, reassuring him with a smile. He reciprocates, puckers his mouth for a kiss, which I gladly deliver. He retracts; I listen to the whirr of his razor as I work a lather between my hands.

He finishes and the only sound is that of the water hitting the floor. The curtain rustles again and he steps in, flinching as the water burns his skin. I kiss it softly in apology- I like my showers sweltering. I watch as he reaches around me and turns the knob a little to the right, looking to me for permission. I nod, and step aside for him to wet his hair. 

It's an awkward dance- the tub too narrow for the both of us, the shower head too low for his towering frame. Still, the soft upward turn of his lips sends my pulse racing. I feel heat building below my stomach.

Ignoring that, I face away from him and reach for my shampoo; once I've squirted some into my palm, I feel his fingers brush against my hips. He pulls my back flush against his chest and drops kisses onto my shoulder and bicep as I wash my hair.

We dance again, exchanging places so I can rinse the soap from my hair. His blue body wash slides over his chest, and I can't help myself: I reach out and rub my fingers in sweeping circles across his collarbone, his sternum, his stomach, sliding dangerously low down his hips...

A few more ungraceful maneuvers, and then we both finish washing ourselves. Yet we remain under the water, letting it slide over us. He wraps his arms around my back and drags me to him, lowering his lips to mine. It's a soft kiss, a gentle kiss; his hands are flat on my back, pressing me into him. Our lips are closed, they move slowly. This kiss is nothing more than I love you and I love you too passing between our clasped mouths.

And yet my desire for him has never been stronger than in this moment.