Sunday, April 28, 2013

Last Weekend in The City

I spent this weekend in New York with Kat. It'll be the last one for, you know, 1.5-2 years, which is kinda sad. But it's been a wonderful part of my freshman year. It was scary to be living in a different state than that girl, but megabus made it feel manageably closer. It's awesome to be able to hop on a bus and see my best friend. It'll be awfully hard when there is an ocean between us and I only have internet once a week. But we'll manage. Kat's my Russian pen pal, after all.

This weekend was a win. We did what we do best: eat and read. We got sushi and pho, went to Silver Moon Bakery for croissants, Community for Sunday brunch, and some place that had awesome dulce de leche crepes. Saturday the sun was shining and we laid on the grass at Columbia working/naping (okay, Kat was working and I was napping, but I was on vacation) for most of the afternoon. Then we went shopping, but more importantly we went to Strand Books and saw the high line, both of which were super awesome. Actually, Strands and the high line are going on my list of favorite things in the city. Mostly it was just wonderful to talk for 2.5 days straight.

So even though neither of us really had the time for that vacation (with classes ending this week and finals starting the next), it was perfect. Having a best friend really is excellent. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hello from 4AM

If you're one for technicalities, then it's 4 AM and I technically should keep working on the paper due tomorrow that's kept me up this late/early. But I'm not really one for technicalities, and it's the fourth paper I've written in the last 10 days. Plus this week has been kinda dumb. It's one of those weeks where my face is like, "hey you seem stressed, this must be an awesome time to break out." And I'm like "no face, you suck," which doesn't help anything much. So I'm taking a blogging study break to ramble and pontificate. Because that's what you do when it's 4AM and you don't want to finish your paper.

I have this bookmark folder called "Read". Mostly, it contains links to essays and poems and articles that I read and loved too much to let them fade back into the internet void. There's also a sub-folder called "books to buy". I'm embarrassed by how many book links are in that folder. Can we just say it's more than I could read if I moved to Hawaii for a month (or two)?

I've been sort of growing out my hair. Meaning I don't trust anyone to cut my hair, so it's gotten longer than it's been in a few years. I also haven't colored it. So I've got this sorta funny looking hair color where the top 4 inches or so are my natural dark blonde and the bottom 6 or so inches are my fake bright blonde. It's less than awesome. But I don't want to color it because I'm sort of really liking my natural dark blonde and I don't want to color that part. Which means I get to just grow it out. Hopefully ombre hair will stay in style for a while, because I'm sort of approaching that. As of me trimming my bangs tonight, there is no fake blonde left in them. This means that when I wear my hair in a ponytail (with the dark blonde bangs and the dark blonde top 4 inches), my hair looks about 2 shades darker than when I wear it down. So that's a fun party trick.

I did laundry today! It had been a good 3+ weeks. The sad part of that is that I have enough clothes to last me that long. The really sad part of that is that I have to get all those clothes home in a month. Thank goodness for Southwest and two free checked bags. While my clothes were in the dryer tonight, I printed 12 journal articles to read for my paper tonight. But the printer was doing this super not-awesome thing where it would print a page and then stop and then print another page and then stop. It did that for a good 100 pages, which was less than ideal considering I still had to read all those pages and then write about them. Oh well. The good news is that David Sedaris has a new book out. I downloaded the audio book for free with my free trial and listened to the first chapter while I folded laundry and put the clean sheets on my bed. David Sedaris is a bloody genius.

Next week is my last week of classes. I'm a little sad about it. Most of them have been super great. And I'm sad to be saying goodbye to my Freshman year. It's been a good one. But before the year is over I've got final papers to write and finals to take, so it've still got a while. Oh! Did I blog about our poetry workshop final reading? It's the culminating point of the semester. All 12 of us will read 4-5 poems. But the awesome thing is that we're having it in the amphitheater. Which, if you've forgotten, is this place.
So I'm super excited about that. It should be gorgeous  Poetry and trees, what more cold I want? I'll post pictures/video/poems when it happens. In the meantime, I'm signing off. 

PS. Here's the insta throwback of the day. Whimzy loves me and the Ukraine. But mostly the Ukraine. #letsbehonest

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Yesterday was perfect

Yesterday was perfect.

I could end my post there. But I won't.

Yesterday, I had two classes. I slept through both of them. Probably not my best decision, but still it felt awesome. When I finally got out of bed, I read for most of the afternoon. And I went to my favorite professor's office hours for paper help, but ended up just chatting for a bit. I found out that she and my other favorite professor are best friends, and that made my day. It was sort of like finding out that Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicol Krauss are married.

After that perfect afternoon, Winnie and I went into Philly. She wanted to get her ears pierced, and I love piercing studios, so that was awesome. Getting holes stabbed into ears is always a fun adventure. Unfortunately, the guy who pierced Winnie's did them a-symmetrically. So we had to go back and get it re-pierced. It was sort of awkward. But the second time looked great! So that was good. We came out of the subway next to Independence Hall, and that was cool. Philly history and such.
We went to Ishkabibble's had real life Philly cheese steaks for dinner. It was the first red meat I've eaten in 2.5 years. And, I hate myself for saying it, but it was pretty good. And it was one of those things I had to do. The only way to justify living in Philly and not having a Philly cheese steak is to be a vegetarian. Since I am no longer a vegetarian, it had to happen.

And from there we went to the Free Library of Philadelphia where Cheryl Strayed was having an author event. I really love Cheryl Strayed. Her book Wild was one of my favorite things I read this summer. She's one of those author's that's honest and vulnerable in a way I literally can't fathom. And she's GOOD. Like really good. So I was excited to see her.

Cheryl Strayed did not disappoint. It was hands down the best author even I've ever been too. Mostly she just talked. She just told her story. She was incredibly real. She talked about learning how to lift the things too heavy to lift. And being brave enough to break your own heart. And how writing is the same thing as long-distance backpacking. Some authors *cough Terry Tempest Williams cough* are like "I'm so smart and I can say beautiful things but they might be bullshit." Cheryl Strayed was like "hey I'm a person and I'm kinda fucked-up and I write about it." And I was drooling over her. It was one of those times (and this happens more often than I'm comfortable with) that she talked about writing and what writing means to her and I was like yes that's me! I'm like that! I'm not going to go to law school I'm going to be a writer! Oh, and at the end, she talked about texting Oprah. OPRAH. CHERYL STRAYED TEXTS OPRAH. That is the kind of incredible that she is. She's perfect.
We stayed late to get our books signed. We were in the second row when she read, so by the time we were out of the auditorium we were literally the last people in line. I thought it was worth it. I got to walk up to her and geek out (because I'm never good at meeting authors and having class) and now I have a signed copy of Tiny Beautiful Things (I didn't get my copy of Wild signed because I'm not sure what happened to it; I either lent it to someone or it's in my book black hole in Utah). And so now I'm very excited to be reading Tiny Beautiful Things.

Because we stayed late, we missed the last train back to school by like 4 minutes. It was raining when we left, but it was okay because I got to try out my new Kiev boots in the rain. They were highly waterproof, so that was good news. Since we had an hour to kill before the next train came, we went to Max Brenner. We had crepes with all kinds of chocolate and bananas and toffee and carmel ice cream. They were, of course, perfect. 

PS. Cheryl Strayed one excerpt from Wild and she read this. Hearing her read this was amazing.

Dear Seeking Wisdom,

Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.

In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best woman friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do ecstasy with them, say no.

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.

Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Poems on Tuesdays

My usual academic schedule for my poetry class is that Friday-Monday I work on a poem that is turned in Tuesday morning then critiqued in workshop on Wednesday. This weekend I was a little overwhelmed, and it didn't happen. Which, last night, put me in the position of having to write a poem in one fell swoop. So I started with a title of a poem I'd already written, "Self Portait Before Leaving Home" and wrote. It was one of those poems that got big and then small and then big and then small again. It's far from finished (and anyway, "a poem is never finished, only abandoned"), but I haven't posted a poem in a long while, so here it is anyway.

Self-Portrait Before Leaving Home

when all of the camel’s teeth
fall out one by one by one
i catch them in my palm
and he speaks to me,
says wild thing
aren’t you reckless

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My BFFL Spring Came to Campus Today

Guess who showed up today? SPRING. It was so warm today. I wore a sundress! A SUNDRESS! I actually ended up sitting outside browsing through my poetry collections for most of the day. Can you say awesome?

What's more, there are these two huge saucer magnolia trees in the courtyard outside my dorm, and they literally bloomed over night. It's one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. They're just covered in flowers. And it smells so so sweet every time I walk out the door. I literally can't imagine anything better.
Because it was beautiful outside, today I put lipstick on. I have this newfound love of lipstick. I don't often wear makeup, but I've started putting lipstick on a lot. I think I consider lipstick something for grownups, and it's fun to wear it. I also think of lipstick as really feminine, and I like that. In realated news, my flat iron died, but my new one came in the mail today and it is probably the nicest thing I've ever owned. It doesn't weigh anything, it heats up in like 40 seconds, and it makes my hair look like I blow dried it. Basically I'm obsessed. 

It was nice of today to be great, because thinks on campus have been less than awesome lately. I mean, I'm doing great, but the student body in general is behaving badly. 

It starts with the fact that there was a huge debate about the choice of Robert Zoellick (Swat alum, former president World Bank, Republican) as commencement speaker, because he's an "architect of the Iraq war." Which is more or less completely untrue. Anyway, it got so back that he resigned from speaking and declined the honorary degree. So that was a moment of dear Swarthmore you are spoiled children

There has also been this whole referendum on Greek Life thing going on all year, but it's culminating this week. Since last April, a group of students has been trying to get rid of Greek Life on campus (by Greek Life I mean our TWO frats and founded-last-month sorority). There have been some serious issues that needed addressing, such as prevalence of sexual assault at frats and gender-identity inclusivity, but it's turned into something horrible. See today and tomorrow the student body is voting on a six-part referendum (each part has it's own vote): should Greek organizations stay affiliated with their national charter, should the houses become dry spaces, should both genders be admitted to both the frat and the sorority, should all Greek life be housed in a single space, should there be campus buildings explicitly for Greek life, and should Greek life be banned. I don't love that the referendum's happened, but I'm okay with it. What I'm NOT AT ALL okay with is the fact that the people who started it chalked the sidewalks all over campus once voting started with incredibly hateful and mean-spirited things about Greek organizations and the people in them. It crossed the line from discussion to antagonizing, and I'm not okay with it. But the results will be announced tomorrow, so hopefully things will die down.

That was a bigger vent than I'd planned. Oops. In short, I'm so glad spring is hanging around campus, because we could use a lift. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Summer Lovin

Have you noticed how much I've been blogging this week? It's because I have lots of work to do and when that happens I'm like "Know what I could do instead of work? Blog up the wazoo!"

In good news, since my incredibly frustrated clothing post, I've been making strides. I got a super awesome flat iron! And a longchamp! And I've been ordering things online with the same gusto that I order books on amazon. Which means I'll probably have lots of returns to make later, but I'm feeling more in control of life.

In less good news, I'm really bad at staying off facebook. But I haven't watched TV, so that's something.

So now that things are getting officialized and junk, I figured I can blog about my summer plans. NEWSFLASH: my summer plans include going on a mission to the Ukraine. Phew. Glad I got that out there. But between school getting out and going to the MTC, I've got a full 2.5 months of summer to do fun things with. And boy am I excited.

The day after I get home from college, I'm leaving for a two-week trip to Europe with my parents. We're doing a week of Greek Isles and then a week of Turkey highlights (Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, etc.) So I'm super pumped about that. It'll be pretty incredibly awesome to have two whole weeks to spend with my parents. Sam's not coming because 1) He hates Europe and 2) He has school. So I'll miss him, but it'll be okay.

The day after we get home, I have to surrender my passport to the officials who are in charge of getting my Ukrainian visa. So I'll be in the USA until I go to the Ukraine. However, later that week, I'm (probably) going to Hawaii with my parents AND Sam for two weeks. The probably is because of Kat, who is the variable here. See there's this awkward situation where she might be living in Utah or might be living in Hawaii at this time, depending on if her Utah house sells. And obviously seeing Kat is my priority for June (since she's going to Europe all of July), so whether it's in Hawaii or in Utah, we're going to be together every second of June.

And then in July I'm going to go to Oakland to visit my college bffl Winnie. And we're going to go to San Francisco and drive up to Salinas (because it's about time I made that pilgrimage) and get dim sum and mostly just eat incredibly good food. Because it's pretty sad that by the time I get back from my mission, it'll be her last semester at Swat. Naturally, we need to live it up while we can, and Nor Cal is the perfect place to do it.

So other with the trips all taken up, I'm going to have pretty much a full month in Utah. In that time I anticipate lots and lots of lunch and coffee dates (except not actual coffee dates, because I'm a Mormon), some weekends at the Cabin, reading novels cover to cover and riding Tinker through those mountains I love, and hanging out with my family, because 18 months is starting to feel like a long time to be away from home.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Conference Weekend

So I probably shouldn't be saying this, but I have a love/hate relationship with general conference. The hate part is those sexist, homophobic, and hyper-conservative talks that make me want to quit watching all together. I'm getting better at just fastforwarding through those ones. I don't have it in me to listen to them without getting angry, and conference is not about getting angry. The flipside of that is the love part of conference which is that there are those talks that I hear and it's just like That's my church and that is truth. Those are the talks that I read and reread and memorize and that bring changes in my life.

I also have some really awesome memories of conference. See, the way general conference ticketing at the conference center goes, a box full of tickets for a stake is mailed to a stake president. Since Lorin was stake president when I was growing up (can't believe it's been a year since he got released!), we always got the box. I remember the first time the box came, and Lorin and Judy went to conference. I was about eight, I literally couldn't believe it. I didn't realize that you could get tickets to go to conference at the conference center. I'd always thought you had to be some kind of special celebrity to do that. But there were my parents, dressed up and going.

So the next time conference rolled around, I made Lorin promise to save me a ticket. Sam wasn't really old enough/interested, so Judy stayed home with him and Lorin and I went, just the two of us. And we went to a session every conference until I decided, for a while, that being Mormon wasn't really my thing. But I still love my memories of going to conference with Lorin. I love that he was willing to go, and that Judy was willing to give up her ticket so that I could go. I remember dressing up and feeling so special. And I remember how much I loved those conferences. There really is something special about conference in the conference center. I remember being there the day that Elder Bednar and Elder Uchtdorf were called into the 12, and for that reason they've always been my favorites. I remember singing "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet" with both President Hinckley and President Monson on the stand. And I remember what was probably my favorite talk I was there to hear: President Hinckley's "The Things of Which I Know".

Conference weekend is this weekend, and I'm enjoying it. I love that I get to be one of the pre-MTC 20,000 missionaries with calls. And, most of all, I love that they finally had a woman pray in conference. I don't know which one of the church leaders is the feminist, but I love them for it. Things are slowly (very slowly) but surely changing. This may be a small step, but it meant something to me, and to lots of other Mormon women.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dress Like a Pioneer

It was about this time last year that I was struggling to find a graduation dress (though to be fair, those restrictions are impossible, and the one I decided on was definitely too short). I'm going through a similar crisis again now, but this time it's missionary clothes. I'm looking for clothes that someone twice my age would wear. And I'm not especially enjoying it. Have I cried over it? It's possible that happened the first time I went shopping. It was just so overwhelming. I think that learning Russian will be a cinch compared to compiling a missionary closet.

The missionary wardrobe requirements are extremely conservative. Like the John Roberts PLUS Clarence Thomas of clothing. I mean, it's definitely possible to find clothes that meet the modesty requirements, but it requires some serious internet scouring. Knocking out about half the things I find is the fact that Dry Clean Only doesn't really work for a mission. Added complications is the fact that I only have two suitcases for 18 months, so everything has to go with everything. Plus, let's not forget that it's bloody freezing in the Ukraine pretty much all the time, so I have to find winter clothes when all the stores are selling spring and summer clothes. And the final problem is that I have to actually like the clothes. So to say that finding conservative, Ukrainian-weather friendly, machine washable, easy-to-match clothing that I like and that looks good is a downright impossible task is not an overstatement.

I had some wins when I was home. I got a new winter coat and boots for really good deals (hashtag I love sugarhouse outlets). And I got a sweater and two skirts, but I still have a long way to go.The skirts are the biggest battle. I swear, most of the skirts online barely cover the models ass, much less her knees, much less her knees when she's sitting. Seriously though, I understand the modesty thing, but the whole "knee must be covered completely sitting or standing" baffles me. I will never understand what is so sexy about a knee? Can we think of anything less sexy than a knee?

Maybe ankles.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Duke

I've been watching John Wayne films for my history seminar. I still think I'd like to be a cowboy. I miss riding my horse.

As it happened I did not grow up to be the kind of woman who is the heroine in a Western, and although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne, and they have never taken me to that bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow.
-Joan Didion