Thursday, December 22, 2011

see how they resemble one another?

Well I met you at the blood bank
We were looking at the bags, wondering if any of the colors matched any of the names we knew on the tags
You said look it that's yours, stacked on top with YOUR BROTHERS.
See how the resemble one another? even in their plastic little covers.
And I said I know it well.
That secret that you know, that you don't know how to tell... well, it fucks with your honor and it teases your head.
But you know that its good girl, 'cause its running you with red.
What's that noise up the stairs baby, is that Christmas morning?
I know it well...
-Bon Iver, Blood Bank

Do you ever think about how similar we are despite our differences? We are beautiful and diverse creatures yet so much the exact same. We fall into patterns and habits and we act so strange. We repeat the same mistakes and forgive too easily just to be hurt next time. We cling to our fortress we build from the last time yet, completely cognizant, let someone sneak in on the side. I don't know quite how to describe where all my thoughts are coming from, other than that the above song has been on my mind. I had a lesson in a class a few years ago about the concept of a blood bank that I have never quite forgotten. Christmas is always a strange time for me. Well always? No, but the last few years for sure. I can't help but thinking about how strange this journey and this path is and how many people have held my hand along the way. How many things have changed and how many things have stayed the exact same. I am not naive enough to think that the world in the USA has been on hold while I have been over here. I am excited to see what I have been missing out on and to share with my dearest friends what adventures I have been on over here also.
My hope is that these secrets we, for whatever reason, have not shared on social media or email or skype have not deadly poisoned something that just a few months ago seemed so pure.
That despite the inability to pause time, through stability, static and change that the same blood runs through our veins. I know it well. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

exchanging my desire for a crystal ball for something so much greater

Long time no see. I would say I am sorry, but I am ridiculously busy with great things so I am not that sorry it turns out. So here is a much-over-due post. 
A dear friend's recent proposal sparked a near meltdown about life that i am so craving to be apart of happening without me. I'm such a control freak I can't stand not knowing what's going on. I haven't gotten a chance to do a big post on all the things I am thankful for or talk much on what I have attempted to learn through the book 1000 Gifts. I say "attempted to learn" because I do not have down by any means. in fact, I have a soap box of sorts about learning and the idea that very few things you truly learn. anyways, the past two months at the suggestion of a dear mentor of mine, I decided to begin this book that calls for a way of living where you appreciate essentially each and every second as something to be thankful to God for. The author challenges you to make a list and go past 1000. I am on number 361. Last year, I was driving in my car with my favorite songs playing and I had an awakening that instead of fretting and complaining about the future that I must chose to be thankful for the journey. this year, I am still practicing being thankful for the journey instead of bitching that I do not have a crystal ball. Still most days I would splurge big time for that crystal ball. Perhaps it is because a majority of my epiphanys occur in my car or in the shower it seems I have not had one in quite some time. my shower is less of a shower and more like a struggling dripping faucet so my morning showers last less than two songs. I haven't seen my car in over 90 days. But a few days ago, walking through the city and listening intently to her sounds while reading an email I felt joy rush through my body at something so simple: a new email. If you are truly a religious fan of my writings and you read my other blog, perhaps you picked up before on how much the various forms of communication make me feel connected and not like I'm standing on the other side of the world, but really. I am thankful for that email and all the emails that fill my inbox. So while my thanksgiving post last year was about a huge abstract idea, this post is about a collection of the smallest seemingly insignificant things that actually mean so much. This entire experience of living here has been about teaching me to be thankful for the little things. it's so easy to be thankful for a pretty day with perfect weather and the sun shining and hard to be thankful for the fog, rain and nasty weather. here are a few examples of the things I am thankful for that you may not have even thought twice about. it's my hope that this post inspires you to not think of thanksgiving as over and that it's Christmas time but to remember that giving-thanks is everyday, all year round and is a continuous state of mind instead of a dinner celebration that comes the third Thursday of the month. 

cash back
waking up early
the satisfying feeling of productivity 
jeans that feel looser
taking new shoes out of the box for the first time
the words "i love you" sometimes so insufficient and sometimes exactly what you need to be reminded of
the last sip of coffee that is always the sweetest
soap boxes
being completely enamored with a book
the moment when you actually can feel "the wheels" working inside your brain as your fingers fly across the keyboard
english tshirts on someone who most likely doesnt speak english
the doorbell ringing
a good bottle of wine
bright lipstick
a pokerface
the smell of gasoline
sheets of ice glistening under the sun
successfully talking and listening at the same
the crackling noise of a bonfire
hot french fries
rollarcoasters- figurative ones and the real thing
the little kisses on my calf that grey gives me
happy hour
porch swings
locks on doors
going someplace completely new without getting lost
the feeling of newspaper on your fingers
steam on the mirror
that food in the pantry you know you will never eat
the sound of a key turning a lock
catching a button before it falls off
my passport
making eye contact with a stranger
photocopies that are still warm from the machine
a dishwasher
shoes that are cute AND comfortable
all forms of carbohydrates
cookies fresh out of the oven

Saturday, December 3, 2011

hell is so close and heaven's out of reach

cheers to a day when i didn't do anything i was suppose to get done. 
cheers to not thinking. 
cheers to a bottle of wine to drown lack of thinking and doing. 
to relaxing. 
to breathing. 
to figuring it out later. 
to the Crimson Tide.
to enjoying the moment. 
to being happy. 
to being thankful.
 to understanding that you don't understand. 
to adopting a lackadaisical attitude.
to grounding yourself by what you know beyond a doubt to be truth. 
to limiting yourself to 24 hours in one day because you have no other choice.
cheers to good music that soothes your soul. 
to experimenting with new words on your tongue for the first time. 
to having absolutely no idea what the future holds but swallowing that fact as something acceptable.
to 12 hours of sleep.
to a great dream.
to sharing a piece of yourself with someone new for the first time and discovering something about yourself as your share it. 
to adventures. 
to laughing. 
to falling in love all over again with a song you've already heard 118 times. 
to effective and pure communication. 
to reverie. 
to what-ifs. 
to brilliant ideas. 
to terrible ideas.
to not being sorry.
to an email that brightens my entire day.
to skype dates with dear friends. 
to dictating your own schedule. 
to doing something rewarding. 
to losing yourself in a book. 
to my list of daily blessings and gifts. 
to tomorrow being another day. 

tonight, on my ikea sofa-cama, i pour a third or fourth glass of wine to you.

"anywhere you go, anyone you meet, remember that your eyes can be your enemy.
i said, well, hell is so close and heaven's out of reach.
i ain't givin' up quite yet, i got too much to loose. 
hold me down, sweet and low, hold me down, and i'll carry you home.
the rain is gonna fall, the sun is gonna shine.
the wind is gonna blow, the water's gonna rise.
she said, when that day comes, look into my eyes.
no one's giving up quite yet, we got too much to loose.
and i'll carry you, always.
you say youre fine but you're still young and out of line.
all i need is to turn around, to make it last, to make it count.
im not gonna make the same mistakes that put my momma in her grave, i don't wanna be alone...
hold me down, sweet and low, hold me down. sweet and low, little girl. so hold me down, and i'll carry you home."
-Sweet and Low, Augustana

Sunday, November 13, 2011

who the hell did i think i was?

I have had this blog for exactly a year now and it seems that the labels can indicate the topics I always lean toward in this unique journey I have allowed you as readers to join me on. In the last year, I have mistakenly blogged about things too personal, I have hurt feelings, I have attempted to describe my own feelings, I have questioned, made judgements, expressed confusion and been unable to express words but still made messy attempts to do so. It's been a wild ride this last year, but then again, that is what life is, just a ride. 
The last few months, I haven't been able to write nearly as much as I would have liked, but I have made notes of future posts to come. Just know that even though I am not blogging on here as often, this blog has become important to me and I do not plan on deleting it or fully neglecting it anytime soon. 
It seems I have blogged the most about love, more than anything else. The other labels most often tagged are friendships, Dave Matthews, change, college life. For today's blog post, look up a label that suites you and find what I said this past year on it. 

"stranger than your sympathy, this is my apology...
when all my fears have pushed you out.
i wished for things that i don't need. all i wanted.
what i chase won't set me free. its all i wanted.
and i get scared, but i am not crawling on my knees.
oh yeah, everything's all wrong here.
where the hell did i think i was?
stranger than your sympathy, take these things so i don't feel...
now, my head's been filled with doubt.
it's hard to lead the life you choose.
you can't see when all your dreams are coming true..
oh yeah, it's easy to forget, yeah. and you choke on the regrets.
who the hell did i think i was?
stranger than your sympathy, all these thoughts you stole from me.
i'm not sure where i belong.
no where's home and i'm all wrong.
i wasn't all the things that i tried to make believe i was, and i wouldn't be the one to kneel before the dreams i wanted, and all the talk, and all the lies were all the empty things disguised as me... 
stranger than your sympathy, stranger than your sympathy..." -Goo Goo Dolls, Sympathy

A song that I've had on repeat all week. I am reading this incredible book and just trying to live up to the ambitious calls for a higher living she makes. Wow, I realize how greedy I have been with the dreams that I am chasing, realizing that some of the things I've wanted so badly are literally in my hands and I can't even be thankful for that.
You know when you have one of those days where you doubt every move you make and every decision that you've taken to get to this point? When you think, "wow, maybe I really fucked it up good this time." And then it seems like you blink, and your conscious is telling you, "It feels so good to know that I made the right decision." That voice in your head is telling you, "I listened to my heart and my mind bicker and I chose. I went for it. Good job! Sleep well tonight, Steph. Give yourself a pat on the back." this is a song for that exact moment when you hear them both, simultaneously. 
the moment when you look back on yesterday or the day before, or last week, or last year and wonder, WHO THE HELL DID I THINK I WAS?
When you say, this is my apology for making the decisions that I have in case they are wrong because I have no clue what I am doing even though I try so hard to pretend like I do. My apology that I am so far from perfect even though I want to be the best version of myself at all times, i fall so short. My apology that I have been so greedy with my blessings and dream chasing. That I'm not sure where I belong and that stranger than your sympathy is the endless reverie I am drowning in from my own mind. 
I get scared, but I am not crawling on my knees. 

If what I chase won't set me free, then why the hell is it something I am chasing?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the bittersweet between my teeth

If you are sick of the start-with-lyrics-then-post or post-then-end-with-lyrics typical layout of virtually every blog, well then, I'm sorry I'm not sorry. This one shall not disappoint. Here it goes. A song that's been on repeat and I didn't know why until today. Then an epiphany that had been formulating for days, weeks even completely crystalized. As I was walking down the jagged sidewalk trying to avoid stepping in something a dog had left behind, watching my breath vaporize in front of my nose and listening with a grin to Tina Fey's BossyPants, I stopped and let it sink in. What had just made itself clear to me. Here's the song. I'll attempt to hold your hand through why I'm so obsessed but I'll leave other secrets to reveal themselves as they please or don't please (yes, that was a Lady & the Trap reference).
"We're only young and naive still.
We require certain skills. 
The mood, it changes like the wind, hard to control when it begins.
The bittersweet between my teeth, trying to find the in-between... fall back in love eventually.
Can't help myself but count the flaws
claw my way out through these walls
one temporary escape, feel it start to permeate.
promises, swear them to the sky...
as it withers, brittles and shakes, can you whisper? as it crumbles and breaks.
count up all our mistakes.
pair of forgivers
let go before it's too late.
can you whisper?"

Around 1 am approximately 7 hours before this moment on the sidewalk, I was crawling into bed feeling defeated and like I hadn't gotten enough accomplished. Convinced to accept defeat by what-is and always-is Monday, I decided to go to bed. I am incredibly happy here and in no way do I think I made the wrong decision to come here. In fact, I do not think I will EVER feel that way. But things are beginning to get a little tense and stress is building (one temporary escape, feel it start to permeate). I am no longer in the "honeymoon" stage of thoughts like, "Wow! A new and exciting city!" or "can't wait for an email back on what happened at work yesterday." I feel like promises made in my last few days from certain people whom I love deeply have been sworn to the sky and that the fears I shared with them could come true. This frightens me deeply. We had laid with our hands gripped tight and now I'm all the way over here- an ocean and miles of land away and maybe the distance is overwhelming.
Things are beginning to become real. This is becoming life.
I am torn substantially between hanging onto everything and everyone from 3 weeks ago and so desperately wanting to include them in this new phase and diving into things going on here.
                     From home, the baggage I managed to pack included friends of all shapes, colors and sizes and varying degrees of quality. I also loaded the plane with my desires and intentions to go to law school in 2012. I am now nose-deep in applications and answering the most absurd personal questions along with intellectual essays that require sessions of genius followed by writer's block and procrastination again accompanied by genius. These applications are overwhelming me, to say the least. And without the support system that I had cheering me on through my battle against the LSAT, it's even more tough. Unbeknownst to me, all the things on my plate when I boarded that direct flight to Madrid is stuck there like when you use Wal-Mart dishwashing detergent and as soon as you open the dishwasher, its apparent that off-brand just couldn't quite get the job done. This is just one example.
                Additionally, I gained new wonders and stressors simultaneously. Things like opening a bank account, signing a lease, obtaining a temporary foreign residence card and moving into an apartment all within a few days, overlapping with starting a job that I have absolutely no training in and incredibly rusty Spanish posed quite a challenge. I love it so far. The chaos hasn't yet caused a complete anxiety attack, but my OCD self can only handle so much so it's only a matter of time before a complete hostile-takeover begins and I attempt to start running the place. Color coding, lists, file folders, schedules and nicely typed Word documents included. I've met some really amazing people here so far. I've also encountered some sketchy people that I feel like I cannot trust at all whatsoever which illuminates loneliness I don't even know exists until the moment I am reminded of it. I've also had students that I have contemplated risking an Amanda Knox trial, thinking no one would notice if I just slapped them square across the face... On the other hand, I've had students that remind me of the nerd I was, and still am, with this glowing eagerness in their eyes that reminds me of the potential I hope others see shining equally as brightly through me.
       As I am navigating what I escaped to that's managed to become permanent, I am feeling things crumble, break and shake. Not at all in a bad way.
I am here to enjoy this time. To soak in whatever adventure comes my way. To do whatever the hell I want (and I don't care if you fucking like it). To escape. To relax. To learn. To stay focused on what I want to be doing. And I'm realizing that I'm not sure I can do all of those things at once. I feel like the pre-October 4th Stephanie and the post-October 4th Stephanie has partially lost her ability to understand the balance between who she IS, who she WAS and who she WILL or WANTS TO BE. I am trying to find the in-between but I am young and naive.
As I've said 1000 times on this blog, I have literally no CLUE what the future holds. As I marked through pages of research regarding schools realizing which ones I still know nothing about and which ones to mark as "reach" or "match" or "safety" I thought to myself for the first real time: I AM GOING TO LAW SCHOOL. I have a score that I am proud of because I worked my little white, pale ass off for it. And that's what I want. Above nearly anything else right now, what it comes down to is that's what I want. This leaves me with an eery bittersweet realization of the sacrifices that I am going to have to continue to make in order to ensure that this law school dream is realized.
Everything else is going to have to fall into place afterward.
And I finish this long-winded blog with begging you to read this epiphany with a grain of salt. For now, can you  whisper and assure me that I am and have been making the right choices instead of counting my mistakes like tallies on receipt paper lining the ceiling of an elementary classroom counting down the days until school is over. I don't have it figured out, at all, not even almost maybe.
So there it is, devoted readers, Mastering The Balance of "In-Between:" Still Very Much So A Work In Progress.
While I am young, naive, with bittersweet between my teeth, putting love under a stack of other paperwork, counting up mistakes and requiring certain skills, plotting my nearest escape in fear of this place becoming permanent, bear with me. Live this ever-so-strange life with me or one of us better let go before it's too late.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

what's your excuse? that's right, you don't have one.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because people actually take the time to slow down and thank others whom they depend on greatly. I rely on numerous people so heavily, I am beginning to feel the hole from lack of communication with them growing and expanding. I'm starting to see people tweeting about Christmas and that's one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate how every year, without fail, people get so excited about Christmas, they forget about Thanksgiving. This year, I have challenged friends, family and strangers to do something different. To think about Thanksgiving in October and write a letter thanking the troops for their service. I posted notes on Facebook, Tweeted, and emailed to around 200 people hoping that everyone would write a letter.
They have around 40,000 letters and they need 400,000. I took two days and wrote 100. You can take 5 minutes and write one. Do it. Thank someone else for a sacrifice that you could never make. Thank someone for protecting your country and your freedom.
Here's all the information:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

have you got it in you?

it's hump day. i've had a tremendously frustrating week. it feels like "tides that i tried to swim against have put me down upon my knees, oh i beg, i beg and plead. singing, come out of things unsaid..." is the perfect line to describe my emotions. but i just decided that i'm going to get over this hump. i am going to triumph. in the following ways, i have resolved to succumb to change for the rest of the week. these are my 10 theses of sorts for not just this week, but for the next few weeks. perhaps my self-proclaimations will strike you, something you needed to be reminded of also.

1. one asshole (student or elsewhere) will not ruin my mood or allow me to be phased for more than precisely 60 seconds. not a second longer.
2. i will maintain a fairly normal routine. no more staying up until 4 am, even if it is to finish an incredible book that i could not manage to pry from my own hands.
3. in no way will a list dictate my stress level. a list exists to do the opposite- manage and control the stress level. i will not be overwhelmed by the idea of a never-ending to-do list. the to-do list is ALWAYS never-ending and never will be "complete". this week's tasks are no different.
4. i will consistently breathe.
5. i will force myself to express frustration and emotions to friends to provide them with a window of opportunity that i have not thus far given them.
6. the tight rope hung between allowing an obstacle to challenge and inspire me versus overcome and consume me will be better balanced by combating it with optimism, sleep, a clear mind and with the help of others. i will seek to prove the phrase, "you can do anything you set your mind to." i will refuse to forget how far i have come and how much i have already accomplished.
7. no more rewarding myself with food. i am not a dog, after all. 
8. i will be more cognizant of my own expectations and aware when they are unrealistic. my mental timeline is imaginary. this includes my insatiable desire to predict the future. which, i repeat to myself, i am incapable of doing. i cannot predict the future. more importantly, nor would i want to.
9. since i am missing daily exercise, i will cave and purchase new tennis shoes. i will go running in the park just a few blocks away to clear my mind when i want to do so.
10. nothing of significance occurs overnight. i will remind myself of this more regularly. take one day at a time; certain things are only worth face value and others are worth nothing at all even when considered with a grain of salt.

"it takes a lot to be always on form. it takes A LOT.
i maybe not, all the time, all i've got. maybe not.
it's been one of those days.
safety first, don't push. what's the hurry?
'cause one nerve remaining... have you got it in you?
let me have it all, let me have a battle on.
have you got it in you?"
-Imogen Heap, Have You Got It In You?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

who can say where the road goes

if enya is not on your ipod, it should be. i always bust out her albums when i am on the plane, when i am trying to sleep and cant or when i just need to breathe. i have had many of the above listed moments in the last few days. not only did i need her to put me to sleep, i needed her to soothe me. and she's right, only time will be able to answer my questions about the future.

Who can say where the road goes, 
Where the day flows, only time.
And who can say if your love grows, as your heart chose, only time.

Who can say when the roads meet,
that love might be in your heart? 
And who can say where the road goes 
Where the day flows, only time? 
Who knows? Only time.
-Enya, Only Time 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

except replace dollar with 170 on the LSAT

i need a dollar, a dollar, a dollar that's what i need.
if i share with you my story, would you share your dollar with me?
well, bad times are comin' and i reap what i don't sow.
well, let me tell you something. all that glitters ain't gold.
it's been a long old trouble, long, long troublesome road.
i'm looking for someone to help me carry this load.
well, i don't know if i'm walking on solid ground, 'cause everything around me is fallin down.
and all i want is for someone to help me.
what in the world am i gonna do tomorrow?
is there someone with a dollar i could borrow, who could help take away my sorrow?
maybe its inside the bottle...
i had a good old friend but his name is whiskey and wine...
if god has plans for me i hope it aint written in stone
cause ive been working myself down to the bone 
and i swear on grandpa's grave that i'll be paid when i come home.
come on, share your dollar, give me your dollar.
-Aloe Blaac, I Need A Dollar

Every great work, 
         every big accomplishment, 
has been brought into manifestation through
                                     holding to the vision
and often just before the big achievement, 
comes apparent failure and discouragement. 
                                                   -Florence Scovel Shinn 

Monday, September 19, 2011

just keep doing what you're doing

i think i am turning from someone who never cries to someone who cries easily. and im actually a little terrified of being labeled a "crier." i've just never been that girl. but, i sat down to watch The Emmy Awards last night and all of the sudden, I had teared up after listening to about five speeches during this woman's speech- shown below. The thing is, actors are real people. Even though they're celebrities to us, at one point, they had these big dreams that they never thought they could reach.

in case you didn't watch it- the best part was "i'm sorry i'm a crier. my mom and dad, who supported me forever and shouldn't-of and said just keeping doing what you're doing. i'm from plainfield, illinois and i'm standing here and it's kind of amazing."

Just think about Colin Firth saying to his dad when he was little that he wanted to be an actor.
Telling his friends that he was going to be in movies one day.
Believing that he would be in a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FILM.
That one dream alone would have alienated friends. And surely, his support system said, "yeah, you can do it!" but I'm quite confident they probably wouldn't have bet their life saving's that he would be cast in a big film... much less be cast in A LOT of big films. Much less become a household name. Much less, be nominated for an Oscar. Be nominated for A LOT of Oscars. Oh, and then win one. For best actor.
And that's why I love watching Award shows. Maybe they're all about the glitz and glam for others, but I love watching people be honored for hard work. And I love watching them say, "hey, i chased this dream that use to seem crazy and intangible and really extreme... but now it's REAL. it's not only REAL, it's my life. it didn't turn out how i wanted. it turned out better." 
I'm thrilled for Mad Men, one of my favorite shows. But watching last night made me realize, there is a lot of good TV out there. Though I proudly stay ahead of the movies, I am behind in TV. If I think Breaking Bad and Dexter are excellent and other shows took home Emmys, I can't imagine how good those shows must be. Especially these shows I've never even heard of! I better start watching Modern Family....
maybe when Award season comes back in February, you will catch a few minutes of it.
Until then, check out The Voice or So You Think You Can Dance or Project Runway- two other inspiring shows where people with exceptionally raw talent get recognized and get a chance at actively chasing and pursuing their dreams.
It takes my breath away.
More importantly, watching these people inspires me to get up in the morning and suffer through all the little steps I have to take to get to "there."
If that doesn't inspire you to survive stressful work, maybe this will. - When work feels overwhelming, remember that you're going to die
what? a fluffy post was LONG overdue.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

zebras don't exactly change their stripes

"with every sun that sets, I am feeling more like a stranger on a foreign shore with an eroding beach disappearing from under me... i always fall in love with an open door
with a horizon on an endless sea as i look around at the ones who are standing right in front of me. "

Turned onto this amazing blog by a sorority sister, I have been enthralled with this random stranger's journey.
I cannot help but feel envy as I search the pages of photos and stories nor can I ignore the similarity between myself and this person who I will never meet. My lust for travel cannot be matched, must less understood by a majority of the people that I know. But it goes beyond that. It's not exactly something I can describe with the limiting conventions of language. I stumbled upon a page asking, "How do we know when it's time to go home?" And for a solid hour or two, I pondered this exact question.
The concept of home, however strange with an ever-changing location and perhaps evolving definition.
Where is my home? Is that where I am, home? In a large suburban house full of nothing except junk, antiques, multiple china patterns, stuff and lurking memories around every corner of tears, drunken escapades, hugs, conversations lasting until after sunrise, nights spent sound asleep and nights spent tossing and turning without sleep at all.
Surely, I am still in search of home. I could find and make home out of anywhere. Home is where the heart is and my heart is fractions across the entire world. Part of it is in Vienna. Part of it is in California. Part of it in Alabama. Part of it has to be saved for wherever I end up in the future. Won't where I attend law school, where I practice law, where I work, where I raise a family all be considered, "home"?
Or maybe, I am just confused and little do I know that my suitcase heart is just a girl waiting on a slow-pony home? Back to here.
It is my intention to spend the next year answering this question. When it is time to go home versus when you cannot take it with you. Although, I liked one response that said something along the lines of, it is time to go home when you are more inspired and thrilled at the thought of comfort and stability than of the next adventure or new experience. Will that sentiment ever fill my body? Certainly, at this moment, the opposite is true. And I suppose that is why I am on the front-end of a year of travel instead of on the other end.

As the day of my departure back to a country where I believe I left a small portion of my heart encroaches, more and more people are asking, "what are you afraid of?" or "are you starting to freak out?"
I could not answer it better than my new best friend, Daniel elegantly expressed here.
My favorite part highlighted in blue and Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V'ed below:

“Daniel, I’m so excited to see where you will go and who you’ll meet and what you will eat. But to be honest, I’m also really curious to hear about your fears. I want to know what they are and how you’ll navigate them.”
When it comes to questions posed to me about my trip, the popular inquiry is about my destinations or my trajectory, which makes perfect sense considering a travel-based project such as mine. But for Ashley, as she admittedly jostles with her own big life decisions, she simply wants a reference point from someone else who is in the flux of reconfiguring life.
                                                                             How does one deal with the fear of change?
There shall be no shame in asking this question.

he goes onto say this: 

There are certain fears that one might infer when pondering the idea of long-term international travel. Many of these fears I recognize, but for one reason or another do not resonate on any sort of debilitating level. For instance, I’m not specifically afraid of being lonely, for loneliness has been present when I was not traveling. I’m not afraid of having my camera or computer or personal items stolen, I have mentally prepared myself for this to occur at some point during the journey. I’m not afraid of being hungry or without shelter, as I have a general faith that my fellow humans will provide for me at my most vulnerable moments. I’m not afraid of being hijacked and murdered by disgruntled Columbian terrorists because, well, I’m not planning on going to Columbia. I generally believe that anything tragic that could happen to me on the road could also happen to me (in some form or another) crossing the street in my hometown.
So what are the fears?
My greatest concerns revolve more around what will happen to me after my travels. These fears are most relatable, I feel. Such as, how will I financially support myself in the future? Who will take care of me if I become permanently ill? Will I ever reestablish the wonderful and illusive trifecta of employment, apartment and friends I had somehow been fortunate to obtain in Montreal before leaving? How do I deal with all the unknowns of life?
I guess what I’m arriving to is the idea that travel is not that scary. But life is.
And if I am forced to really focus on travel-related fears, I suppose there is one great concern. It reads like this: In the “me-centric” pursuit of this dream, I fear the dynamics of my relationships with family and friends will change. I’m afraid that this absence is asking too much from them. 

then, he ends with this:

So, I move forward. Putting relationships to the test. Prioritizing “individual” over “community.” Wondering who will still be cheering me on after this journey. Breaking my mother’s heart, once again. Feeling intuitively guided, and making few apologies for my decisions.
And in my moments of self-doubt and wondering if I’m making the right life decisions, it helps to bring out the old “scale of life.” Each time I balance the concerns of leaving versus the potential personal profits, when I weigh the prospective gains against the conceivable costs, the scale keeps pointing to a simple (minimally fear-laced) sentiment:
Go. For. It.

and excitedly, this marks the end of my alphabet challenge. in case you missed it, the last 27 posts have begun with a letter of the alphabet starting with A and ending with this one, Z. it was not an easy task, but it was done. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

young heart and i never wanna get old

personally, i don't blame Ponce de Leon for spending most of his life dedicated to finding the fountain of youth. I'm not quite sure what would happen if anyone ever did discover such a thing, though with medical technology and all our advances in research in the past several generations, we've certainly created ways to prolong life. Like the Pirates in the latest movie, I would certainly make some sacrifices to go in search of a way to find that fountain. Especially if I knew for a fact it existed. The thing is, I don't want to get old. I don't really want to go back in time either (remember?) but I'm just not so sure i'm ready for all the responsibility that I've got headed my way associated with growing old. Budgeting, paying all my own bills, worrying about insurance, the inability to do everyday things without experiencing some pain from arthritis or some additional ailment.... i don't want wrinkles or gray hair. i don't want diabetes or a heart attack at age 45. i don't want to really have to watch what i eat. ugh, the thought of my arms getting flabby makes me cringe. ooh and after a baby? forget it.
and we think we should be allowed to sit around and complain now. ha!
i was just talking the other day with a friend about how we always took for granted the ease of college. the days wasted doing absolutely nothing. now, if i have a day like that, i feel guilty because i recklessly abandoned so much responsibility.
the dermatologist asked me last week what am i doing right now to prevent wrinkles? uh, a healthy diet of white wine, organic food, occasional chic-fil-a and multiple double vodka sprites? i wash my face at night and in the shower? uh.... thankfully, there are anti-aging serum commercials, drugs you should immediately talk to your doctor about commercials every few minutes and a plethora of advertisements on the radio about laser-hair removal, plastic surgery and all that.
i'll take the wisdom that comes with age minus all of its bullshit.
do you think if i sit here long enough staring at Pinterest, I will miraculously be motivated to do anything?
maybe i'll go back to mindlessly watching tv and ignoring everything i should be doing until motivation literally hits me in the face. chances of that happening?
ugh, i know 0.
i just need some soul-resurecting on this monday afternoon. hopefully the gym, starbucks combination i have planned will do the trick.

"help me to forget about the lions chasing me.
if a man among us has the notion that he's free, i entreat you to the challenge, stand on up and let's see you get old.
the hardest part has always been to resurrect my soul.
you try and you try, but you can't try enough.
but you keep fighting, you keep on fighting me. you keep on fighting.
don't you know, you already won?
its summer in the city, we were hanging on the lawn, talking all the time about where the time had gone.
its not the way i thought it'd be, it's not what i was told.
i got a young heart and i don't want to get old.
old, old, i NEVER wanna get old. so i'm never gonna get old."
-Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers, Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts

Friday, September 9, 2011

X that, let's do this instead

one of my new years resolutions (which i happen to take very seriously, unlike the average person. see here) last year was to be more spontaneous. i  succeeded in doing handful of spontaneous activities, but by no means did it transfer into a personality trait. as much as i love being organized, planned and scheduled, it's shocking how much i love being surprised. tonight, i had plans to get dinner with a few girlfriends from high school. in the five minutes i got on Twitter today, i happened to stumble across a tweet that The Weepies were playing in Atl.
I am obsessed with this dynamic duo.
They define the word musician. They're simply incredible with inspirational, powerful lyrics and producers of seriously quality music. Check them out here.
Then, let these words sink it. Its what i need to be reminded of today and catch a glimpse of the concert I saw tonight.
This venue has some more great shows planned, so if you're in the Atlanta area, work one in. Going to concerts of singer/songwriters and fantastic musicians is certainly one of my favorite things to do and I cant wait to be rich so I can go see all my loves.
What a fantastic day from start to finish!

"Yesterday, when you were young, everything you needed done was done was done for you.
Now, you do it on your own, but you find that you're all alone. What can you do?
Walk on, walk on. Cause you can't go back now.
You know there will be days when you're so tired that you can't take another step.
The night will have no stars and you'll think you've gone as far as you'll ever get.
But, you. and me. Walk on, walk on.
Go where you wanna go.
                    Be what you wanna be.
                               If you ever turn around, you'll see me.
I can't really say why everybody wishes they were somewhere else.
But in the end, the only steps that matter 
are the ones you take all by yourself."
-The Weepies, Can't Go Back Now

Thursday, September 8, 2011

wake me up when September ends

"A southern girl with a scarlet drawl. I wave goodbye to Ma and Pa 'cause with the birds I'll share this lonely view. Soft spoken with a broken jaw. Step outside, but not to brawl. Yeah, autumn's sweet. We call it 'fall.' I'll make it to the moon if I have to crawl. Scar tissue that I wish you saw, sarcastic, Mr. Know It All." -Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scar Tissue

I spent a decent amount of time the other day dedicated to reading basically all I could get my bear paws on regarding varying strategies, methods, myths and everything out there on the LSAT. I don't know how many readers I have out there that are interesting in taking the LSAT, but let me just tell you a few things about it.
It's a beast. Actually, that's more or less all you really need to know.
I was reading a suggested time-line for studying and under the "one month til test date" link, I read a statement that said something along the lines of this: It's time to crack down. Get serious. Put your social life on hold. Do you think that the highest scorers were caught up on the most recent episodes of Teen Mom? Yeah, right. Put everything else on the back burner and focus exclusively on the LSAT. 
Alright. The LSAT is a gigantic percentage of my stress and my life right now. No doubt about it. That pesky little three digit number will almost solely determine where I am enrolled in law school a year from now. But, put the rest of my life on HOLD for the next 25 days and do nothing except eat, sleep and breathe the LSAT? Seriously??
What about my friends that I am leaving when I flee this country?
What about the few shows I love indulging in- Dance Moms, my new obsession?
What about reading the news, reading books?
What about working on my personal statement, recruiting recommenders, researching schools, requesting information from potential schools and gaging which schools in which countries have the programs I am interested in?
What about working on the house repairs, basic cleaning maintenance and other daily chores that demand time?
What about the fancy gym membership and training I am paying a pretty penny for?
What about running errands like a chicken with my head cut off getting ready to move to Spain?
What about journaling, blogging, Facebook-ing, Pinterest?
What about calls to friends to check in, for them to check in on me and to unwind and laugh together?
I'm not really up for putting ALL of those things on the back burner.
I didn't realize just exactly how much I juggle, how closely I keep my schedule. And how incredibly poor I am at asking for help when I really could use some.
Yet, simultaneously for the exact sentence I just wrote, I AM ready to say "see ya" to all those other responsibilities. Because this is what I want and I'll do whatever it takes to get there. So some sacrifices have been and are going to be made. Time to get serious. Focus in. So, for the last week, I have been really LSAT-intense. I have been so LSAT-intense actually that I dreamt about it on the two days I didn't study very much because I was in the great city of Tuscaloosa.
Can you imagine if we just wore our "scars" like they do in the music video for the 90's classic, Scar Tissue? If you didn't have to read someone's status, tweet or blog in order to learn what's actually going through their mind? Thank goodness we don't, or we couldn't afford to stand in line at Kroger and say, "hey, how are you" all nonchalantly confident that the response will assuredly be, "I'm fine, thanks, how are you?" even though, you could care LESS about how that woman is. But sometimes, don't you wish you were a little better at boldly saying, "hey, help me out here." or "hey, this is what i've got going on and i need you." i'm an expert at the being needed part (see my above list) but i really suck at being NEEDY. which I am. Because I am human.
I've been wanting to include Scar Tissue in a post for several months since I read the book. I'd highly recommend it. And I'm really looking forward to listening to their new album. Whoohoo.

Ugh, and did I mention its September, my second least favorite month of the year? At least it's starting to cool down outside.I feel like I am running a sprint marathon STRAIGHT uphill. 
One thing at a time.
Breathe. LSAT. Breathe. Repeat. Got it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

vestiges, vituperate, viscous and other V words to incorporate into your vocabulary

I caught myself correcting someone's argument in everyday conversation the other day. When I was reading a magazine, I was picking out formal logic and felt inclined to circle keywords as I skimmed through the pages of LUCKY!!
Oh my God.
What is happening to me?!! I almost started arguing with a police officer on Monday... thank goodness I didn't word vomit that he committed a classic flaw- equivocation- by using the same term in two different ways, therefore his argument to write me a ticket was invalid.
Instead of focusing on the section that is my strength, I've been focusing on some of my weaknesses the past week. Any second now, I'm going to begin to shake because i haven't worked any of my favorite practice problems. Seriously.
If I am beginning to see a transformation in my thoughts, reading style and argumentativeness already and I'm still a year from even being enrolled in my first law school class... I may just be in really big trouble.
If change in T & RS & A -> big trouble. Oh, my. It may be worse than I thought.
Time to get back to the vicissitudes (a change or variation; ups and downs) of my ridiculous everyday life, hopefully withstanding any vituperating (to abuse verbally; berate) from anyone about anything. Sometimes, words can have more strength than the most viscous (thick and adhesive, like a slow-flowing fluid) liquid and stay in my head for days.But if I don't get back to my variegated (varied; marked with different colors) study guides, I will be carrying around the burden of vestiges (remnant, trace) of dead dreams as expressed by these brilliant artists. Most sincere apologies for such a verbose (wordy) post, it feels like a high-school vocabulary homework assignment. Perhaps, you learned something new to utilize in your everyday conversations, like nerds like me.
But, very strange changes are occurring with my mind. Consider yourself warned for when you catch the first glimpse.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

umbrellas rendered useless when it actually rains

"she may be young, but she only likes old things.
she loves the natural light, captured in black and white.
she sees mirages and mountain ranges, within a blink of her eyes it changes back to the open plains.
                                                                     oh no, she can't explain.
i cry out love, 'keep your arms around me. 
                                 i am a bird that's in need of grounding.
                                                        i'm built to fly away, never learn how to stay.'
the night is gonna fall and the vultures will surround you.
when you're looking in the mirror, what you see is gonna to astound you.
but all these lines and grays refine, they are the maps of our design of what began on a Monday morning.
and all the glow of you from inside the room, is burning on inside of you."
-Death Cab for Cutie, Monday Morning

Sunday, August 28, 2011

this is a public service announcement.

"it's time to tear this place down.
i've got the last gig on my mind.
not seen my friends in ages, have i been left behind?
it's time to figure out why i find myself in custody with each and every question on my mind.
fly to El Salvador. i don't know why and i don't know what for.
i've seen the picture for myself.
where did that label go? i tried it out, but it didn't work so, i'll choose the picture for MYSELF.
it's time to start all over.
take only one thing spare to wear."
-Athlete, El Salvador

i am human. i mess up. i make mistakes. i disappoint people that matter to me. i occasionally think before i speak. i've also been known to speak before i think.
sometimes, i commit to doing something that i end up being unable to go through with. i doubt myself and think "i can't actually do this." a time or two, i've told a lie or a white lie or ignored flat out telling the truth in order to protect someone or myself. several times a year, i have a complete meltdown. people tell me i'm smart, but i don't always believe that for myself (thank you, LSAT). sometimes, i don't recognize my own limit and i do really stupid things. i enjoy making art, even though sometimes it's not even worth how much i paid to make it. i enjoy talking with friends and sharing in memories and stories. i like long walks on the beach. not really, actually, i'm not a gigantic fan of sand. there are days when i want to do absolutely nothing except lay in bed and watch a marathon of criminal minds or law and order SVU. i am stressed; i am overwhelmed. i see the best in people and sometimes that entails misjudging them. i am an optimist, a realist and a pessimist simultaneously. i frequently talk to myself. i am beyond the definition of stubborn.
i am going to pick up. leave. and teach myself how to let go.
if you religiously read my blog and this post seems like the last five except reworded but expressing the exact same themes, i am sorry. i take that back. i'm sorry i'm not sorry. this is what i needed today, and maybe you'll find that you needed it too. for the same reasons or for reasons completely different.

                                                                                             Source: via Stephanie on Pinterest

"Failure is always the best way to learn, retracing your steps til you know. 
Have no fear, your wounds will heal." -Kings of Convenience, Failure

This is one thing I know. Love can set you free. 
Now in a "LOVE.Everyday" first, I will include a Biblical inspiration in the daily quotes and music lyrics. Because I needed this refresher, you can find a good definition of it here. Reposted below with the emphasis I particularly had to read to be reminded of today (from The Message).

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the BEST of the three is LOVE.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

suck it up, suck it up

admittedly, i've sort of been putting off doing a blog post on this subject, though i have felt it looming over me like a ceiling fan. i had a great epiphany at the beginning of the summer. this epiphany was that my ideal answer to the constant obnoxious, "what are doing after you graduate" question was "working on myself." i had big goals for this summer. i wanted to dive back into regularly attending church, get a mentor to study the Bible with me so that I would start chatting with the Big Man upstairs again. i wanted to get in shape. not saying that i needed to lose weight, but instead to gain a sense of athleticism. i wanted muscle definition and endurance of some kind. the ability to run a mile and not completely feel like dying. i wanted to do some soul searching, traveling, job hunting, studying, reading of good books and relevant news articles. i also wanted to enjoy some time relaxing, breathing and in the company of dear friends. remarkably, i think i did almost all of these things. granted, all of these items are still VERY MUCH so a work in progress, i did indeed manage to start tackling all of them. individually AND simultaneously. i think i deserve a pat on the back for this.
focusing in on the idea of "working out," bear with me. this is something i have NEVER enjoyed. field day was my LEAST favorite day of the year in elementary school BY FAR. in fact, i distinctly remember one day, my mom got the newsletter and said, "oh, stephanie, field day is next Friday. are you going to be sick around Thursday night?" my response included a quick cough and "yeah, Mom, now that you mention it, I might feel something coming on right now. DON'T MAKE ME GO!" i was never picked on teams, i was the last person to finish "running" the mile even when it wasn't a race and i thought that sweating was stupid. ALL of this is behind me ladies and gentlemen. it's definitely still something i do not enjoy, but i DO like the definition i recently acquired in my legs and arms. i love walking by a mirror and thinking, "oh, i don't look so bad" even though i am home alone and have absolutely no one to impress.
you're your toughest critic.
if you want something, go out there and get it.
if you want some change to occur in your life, figure out how to tackle it and see to it that the change becomes a habit. it's incredible what you can do when you really put your mind to it. let me just tell you!
go get 'em tiger.
guess who is one step closer to a beach body and one step closer to winter with multiple layers of clothing? THIS GIRL.

Source: via Stephanie on Pinterest

and major props if you caught the tile as a Dave reference. it was an accident. it happens.