Friday, October 12, 2012

i'll let your ride be free

Somewhere deep within me, I knew it was only a matter of months before a post appeared on this blog again. My old readers are probably not those who are reading this, but this post has been slowly forming over years and I finally feel that I have enough of a grasp to put it into published words to share with the great expanse of no one and everyone simultaneously on the internet.
Perhaps you should read THIS first.

People watching has always been a favorite pastime. Perhaps its one of the reasons why I love travel so much. Its amazing what you can quickly get from an interaction with a stranger. You can pick up from the way they position themselves, the things they say, the framing of their sentences, the crooked line in their smile, slight darkness in their eyes that there's more than what you know. Sometimes you don't catch any such glimpse in a stranger at all. The Kroger cashier says, "Hey, how are you?" and you politely respond with some platitude, "fine, thanks, how are you?" and then the same statement is repeated back to you. At this point, generally some comment about one of the products being rolled over the scanner is made, method of payment is discussed, occasionally the weather or another nonsense topic is raised in the interest of making small talk and presuming dead silence as unacceptable awkwardness. These bull shit conversations used to drive me crazy with strangers. But the real truth is, how frequently do we have these same conversations with the people we are supposed to be confiding in, trusting, and sharing the deepest things with?
Rather frequently, wouldn't you agree?
And isn't it a pity. There is a well-circulated pin posted above that says, "be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." I've been chewing on this concept lately. Just starting law school in a state completely across the country, and around the globe from where I spent the last year building connections has attracted new light on the beauty and obstacles presented by young friendships. You avoid religion, politics, ex-boyfriends, hot-topic issues because you don't know their background. You say something that in your frame of reference is totally relevant or appropriate, but in their world, it is interpreted as the exact opposite. Exaggerated words are taken at face value and repeated. Young friendships are built off series of interactions walking a tight rope of "here's a small insight into me" and "i want insight into you" but too often, both slip by.
What is even more frightening is the likelihood that friendships formed on surface nonsense can seem like the real deal and can be rewarding, even lasting for years.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, when you have a friend that is experiencing all kinds of trials, you can be so close to that person, you can empathize with them so deeply that on some level you are experiencing it as well. As referred to in one of the most vulnerable posts on this blog, I have a fundamental issue with life struggles and the lack of ability to guide someone through a same or similar circumstance as one that I myself hobbled along. This week in particular, I was given an opportunity to attempt to be the friend I needed in that time. It was such a strange sensation to sit and think of what I wanted and needed at that time. It's amazing what you let yourself forget. As I tried to reconstruct fragile memories of wondering what the result of one of Mom's surgeries would be, I was reminded of the CDs I played while walking through the hospital hallways, of the smile cemented to my face that I didn't even recognize when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I thought about the constant admonitions of "I'm praying for you" and "God is good and He is going to get you through this" and how my gut reaction to each one made my stomach churn as I grasped onto each word but swallowed it down with doubt and anger.
I've thought so many times that "I want bones like iron, blood like mercury so I can tell you when I'm rising and when I'm sinking in" as so eloquently described by Dispatch. But life isn't like that. You can wear your story on your sleeve, you can sigh heavier throughout your day, your confusion can be visible, or your jaw can be crooked into a smile even you do not recognize yet all go unnoticed. So luckily, you can only worry about being open and honest enough about your own experiences to share them and hope that another will benefit. You can only be concerned with having listening ears and sensitivity to the needs of those around you.

The point I am desperately and poorly trying to make is this: you just never know what battle someone that you are interacting with is facing. At any given moment, that interaction could make a huge difference or none at all.
The emotional energy that you invest in someone else or something else may never be fully appreciated. And that is a shame. But in my experience, as it drains you to fill someone else, in the end, you are filled when they feel restored and you were a contributing factor to that restoration.
I am confident the emptiness that comes from the emotional investment initially, will ALWAYS be rewarded.

So, GO invest in someone.
Invest in everyone. 

"Well, I got a bad disease. 
Right from my brain is where I bleed. 
Today, love smiled on me. 
It took away my pain
Say, please, I'll let your ride be free.
You gotta let it be.

It's bitter baby
but its very sweet.
I'm on a roller coaster but I'm on my feet.
Take me to your river, let me on your shore. 
I'll be coming back, baby, I'll be coming back for more. 
I could not forget but I won't endeavor. 
Said my pleasure, I won't regret it never.

Where I go, I just don't know.
I got to, got to take it slow.
When I find my peace of mind, well, I'm gonna give you some of my good time."
-Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soul to Squeeze

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


well, i knew what i didn't want to know
and i saw where i didn't want to go
so i took the path less traveled on
and i let my stories be whispered when I'm gone
when I'm gone
well in this life, you must find something to live for
'cause when the darkness comes a-callin' you go back to where you were before
'cause this life is as fragile as a dream
and nothing's ever really as it seems
as it seems
well i lost my innocence one day, when in i let him dive
but the way that he looked at me made me feel alive
and now i know nothing at all but the release that comes when you're in mid fall
in mid fall
in mid fall
cause in this life, you must find something to live for...
-Lily Kershaw, As It Seems

Sometimes, a song strikes me to the core no matter how many times I have heard it before. And its a clear visceral response that I can feel where my heart and mind simultaneously agree, "yes, thats it! thats exactly how we feel." I don't know if songs affect you that way, but lyrics are certainly one of my favorite languages when my own fails me. The past few weeks I have had so much on my mind, such weight on my shoulders while simultaneously traveling substantially. It's been a total roller coaster ride. At this point, these days are all about managing the highs and lows and ordering them to balance out. I have been thinking about the future of this blog and whether or not I will continue to maintain it. In September will be the blogs second anniversary. I am quite confident I will not have much time to dedicate to its postings next year while I have my nose buried in a book and selfishly, since I am unaware of who reads it if anyone, I cannot help but thinking my time will be better spent in the upcoming months dedicating time to my own journals and my travel blog ( That being said, if there is demand, there will be future posts and if there is no demand, this blog will probably be rarely updated. There is inspiration and ideas for great posts and not enough time or drive to see them through. This blog has been near and dear to my heart. It's posts contain raw thoughts and emotions with words direct heart strings and my opinion as precisely as I could have expressed it.

I hope that whatever reservations usually keep you from commenting, that if you were ever to leave a comment, it would be on this post. Otherwise, readers from wherever in the world that you are reading, it's been quite a journey. And journeys are one of my favorite things. It's certainly one hell of one I am on. And I wish you nothing but the best on yours.

With love,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

i remember a time my balance was fine

"I try so many times but it's not taking me
                                                                            and it seems so long ago that I used to believe
and I'm so lost inside of my head, and crazy but I cant get out of it. 
I'm just stumbling
                                                                           And I'm juggling all the thoughts in my head
I'm juggling and my fears on fire
but I'm listening as it evolves in my head...
And I remember the time my balance was fine
and I was just walking on one fine wire
Life plays so many games inside of me
and I've had some distant cries, following 
and they're entwined between the night and sun beams
I wish I were free from this pain in me
I remember the time my balance was fine..."
-Colbie Caillat, One Fine Wire

hashtag happy, no wait, miserable. no wait, happy.

These days are characterized by mood swings of new proportions. I feel that the weekends where I stay in Madrid drag on, the weekdays also go by painstakingly slow but yet, the fact that its the EIGHTH of May shocks me to the core. 
I have seven weeks left of living in Europe. 
Then, I am looking at around three weeks to move from Atlanta to Malibu. 
Admittedly, my mind is already in Malibu in many regards. I find my mind wandering to thoughts of buying a new couch, selling some things in the house, going through junk I have no use for with less care than a host from Clean Sweep. I am preoccupied with things I should be doing that I cannot at this time- find an apartment, finish my FAFSA forms, etc etc that I need to be in California barking down my Father's back for help. Conversely, I was walking through my neighborhood today thinking of how deeply I will miss Spanish rolling fluidly off my tongue, weaving through these intricate streets alive with culture and rich in history, with free time to do things like blog or read three books in five days and be completely up-to-date on all my favorite TV shows. But as a friend recently candidly wrote me, "the universe can be such an asshole" and you don't get to choose when certain chapters end and begin nearly as tactfully as you may wish. and that's how you end up with mood swings, questioning your own incapability of balancing what you're doing in this moment and where you're headed. 
One of the most poignant themes of my time living in Spain has managed to again remind me that i'm no master and i have much more learning to do. Where is the balance between falling for someone stupidly and falling for someone gracefully? When do you cut yourself off and demand yourself to walk away? At what moment is your investment in someone else's time and feelings the "right amount"? Is there such a thing? Is falling off that wire such a tragic thing, anyway? Maybe the most healthy way to approach complicated paradoxes is not by carefully walking the tightrope without falling off, but instead on hopping from one side to the other? 
These are questions I blog about because they're things rolling around desperately in my thoughts with no answers. What do you think? Where do you find balance in your life? Where is there lack of balance? 
All I know is I identify with the lyrics presented above. I know that over the weekend, I felt trapped in Madrid. claustrophobic like I wasn't able to breathe while thinking my next booked flight was not until my flight back to the US in July. Though I have zero intentions of changing my habit of caving to my gypsy-like desires, high blood pressure due to lack of foreseen travel in five weeks is a new level I am not sure is healthy. With my patience growing thin on nailing down upcoming weekend plans, finally a few things fell into place. I have plans for this weekend, which I am super excited about. Yes, in two days I will be on the road again. And it makes the surrounding air easier to breathe. 
I also booked my (extremely expensive, might I add) flight to VIENNA! As I have written many times, Vienna has a huge hold on my heart. One of my first mission trips and most certainly the most impactful mission work that I participate in, this upcoming trip will be my seventh trip to the shelter. I couldn't possibly be more thrilled. 
Until I have "it all figured out" (which will never happen) I will most likely continue to endure this insomnia while I lay awake wondering why I don't have some magical "how to balance abstract nouns and life's absurdities" handbook and blogging about how I managed to screw it up.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

you´re not drunk if you can´t stay in your lane

The reason why I love bad days is because the next day is always so much better. Sometimes, you feel like the sky has exploded and only you know (Age of Rockets). Or according to Jack´s Mannequinn, "alone in a crowded room." I firmly believe that life functions on a very carefully calculated balance and contradiction, where unless that balance is somehow maintained via whatever force, everything would totally fall apart. To be honest, I cant quite erase the images provided by The Adjustment Bureau when I think about whatever or whomever controls the balance. There is this quaint little tale in Spanish about a cicada and an ant. In the summer, the ant works really hard to store up for the winter and the cicada mocks him from his lounge chair laying in the sun. The cicada explains to the ant that he must enjoy the summer! The ant retorts, when you have no food in the winter, don´t come cryin´ to me because you should have worked during the summer! I´m sure there is some fable in every language along these lines, where the moral of the story is "don´t build castles in the sky" literal translation from Spanish. This is a balance that I am trying to grasp fully and the entire law school application process juxtaposed with living in Madrid has been operation teach Stephanie to appreciate the now AND prepare for the future simultaneously. I can confidently say that as I look back over the hours I spent pouring over research, websites, books, advice columns, though I am sure it prepared me in an inmeasurable way to make the decision that I did, Pepperdine wasn´t on my beautiful color-coded Excel spreadsheet. I don´t know what the faculty to student ratio is, or how many volumes are in the library but that doesn´t mean it wasn´t an informed decision, because it absolutely certainly was. It´s just that, sometimes the BEST things in life, you cannot plan. And when you look back, you will see that you really had planned it all along and it all followed that plan better than you could have ever imagined. And that my friends, is a truly spectacular thing. Life is unpredictable, ridiculous and beautiful all rolled into one mess. Who would have it any other way?

"Well, you´re not brave if you still keep the letters
and you're not sane if you don't want to get better
and you're not drunk if you can´t stay in your lane
 Well you're not awake but you haven't been sleeping
 and you hate God but you don't believe in him
and you're not scared but you still got you're eyes closed
the sky explodes, and only you know
Well it's not fixed if you love it broken
 you're not lost but you're missing your exit
 and you're not scared but you still got your eyes closed
I want you to worry when I don't call you back."
-Avada Kedavra, Age of Rockets

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

in awe of what's in front of me

“California, guilded crowns.
Mile markers counting down.
Somewhere down, down in the ocean of sound, we’ll live in slow motion
And be free
The door’s unlocked and opened
The door’s unlocked and opened.”
–Death Cab for Cutie, Doors Unlocked and Open

Bear with me here, because this is a loooong post. Posted first on my blog about my experience living in Spain, but equally applicable here. 

I sincerely hope you can find the time to read every word.
First: the headline—I will be attending Pepperdine University School of Law in the fall! Now, allow me to fill you in on how WE came to this decision and the revolution it took to get me there. Or, I should say, here.
Wow, what an incredible and ridiculous trip this has been and these past two weeks have indeed been particularly ridiculous. I was able to accomplish quite a bit in a short, short period of time. The first few days I distinctly felt like I had only revealed that I had more questions than I did answers and more and more I felt an increasing pressure to make some sacrifice on what I wanted for these upcoming years. I didn’t feel like I found a school that “had everything I wanted.” No, I felt like that didn’t exist. Instead, I was choosing which things I was willing to give up and which things I wasn’t going to compromise on. This was a suffocating feeling, but at least the decision was slowly approaching and becoming clearer. I ended up applying to 26 law schools and I was overwhelmed with blessings at the many, many schools that offered me a place in their 2012 incoming class of future JD students. I never expected to get into so many places and in the end, the great choices that I had increased the difficulty of my decision.
         The burning question this entire decision process has been, “Where do you want to live and practice?” And, flatly, I do not know. I simply do not know the answer to that question. Where you want to live and practice is incredibly important for where you attend law school. That city is where you establish a network, where the most alumni live, where your school will have the most connections for job placement, the state where you will be the most prepared to take the bar and not to mention, the city you are committing to live in for at least three years and most likely through your first job or two.
             I need to rewind. One of the reasons why I have always loved Death Cab For Cutie (a band) is because of Ben Gibbard’s (the lead singer and lyricist) remarkable ability to capture this idea of never quenching wanderlust. Many of their songs discuss “falling in love with an open door” and it is their “You Are A Tourist” that this blog was named after. Read its lyrics in full and then I’ll explain why it’s been so strongly on my heart throughout this entire last few months journey.

“This fire, grows higher…
When there’s a burning in your heart, an endless yearning in your heart, build it BIGGER than the sun, LET IT GROW.
When there’s a burning in your heart, don’t be alarmed…
When there’s a doubt in your mind, ‘cause you’re thinking all the time, framing rights into wrongs- MOVE ALONG.
When there’s a doubt within your mind, when there’s a burning in your heart and you think you’ll burst apart, well, there’s nothing to fear. Save the tears. When there’s a burning in your heart and you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born, it’s time to go and define your destination. There’s so many different places to call home.
Cause when you find yourself a villain in the story you have written, its plain to see that sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemption, would you agree? If so, please show me.
This fire, grows higher…”

Those last few months in Tuscaloosa, I felt like a tourist in this city where much of who I am now was born. I knew that fire to get out of the city and dream chase and live in Europe for a year was something real that had to be pursued. My plan after studying in Spain was to enjoy my senior year, retake the LSAT, live in Europe for a year and then go to law school. It would be a boldfaced lie to say that at times that plan has seems farfetched, out of reach and absurd. But hindsight is always crystal clear, and it’s such a blessing to look back on the tears cried over missing application deadlines or the disappointment with my LSAT score and think, “woah, it all has gone exactly according to plan.” And it really has.
        My months in Spain have taught me many things and in many ways, the most significant thing I have learned has been about myself. Though the fairly recently developed Brown nomadic lifestyle is now deeply ingrained in me, my definition of home has been crystalized.
Home is not Roswell or Tuscaloosa or York or Madrid.
Home is not in Irvine or seat 17F.
Home is a strange combination of all of these places.
Home is in the people that I love that revitalize me, encourage me, bless me, make me happy, make me laugh until my stomach hurts, allow me to call them venting, hold me when I am crying, that read my emails, that listen intently to details of my day, who Facebook stalk my photo albums and who I can pick up with wherever it may be that we left off.
Home is a collection of these places because the people that I love are spread out all over the world. Literally. And so, as for where I want to live and practice law? Well, I want to be a little closer to “home.” That is, the definition of home according to Stephanie Brown. Augustana has a song where he belts, "Do you want to see it, the place where I am free? It lives INSIDE me."

The morning of April 6th, I slept in for the first time in weeks. I woke up to Dad having read all my hours of research and all the brochures and viewbooks I had collected over the last few months. I listened intently as he was on the phone explaining to a friend that the day before after touring two schools fifteen minutes away from his apartment in Orange County, I had crossed them both off the list. He snuck in a few words of disappointment to the man that was the best man in my parents wedding saying, “I would really like her to come to school out here, but it just doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.” I left to lay by the pool and call a friend to explain, whether it was NYC or Miami, they were both incredible options, but they were both so far away from “home”. I was hell-bent though on not sacrificing a better education and better option for my future just because I have friends and family in California. All these thoughts about home and proximity to people that I love and need were not separate from this decision. As ratios, percentages, dollar signs, images and descriptions were all swirling around in my head like a broken radio I couldn’t turn off in my mind, behind all that were these feelings of being sick of being SO far away from everyone.

Friday afternoon, Dad and I were out running errands and we were having a discussion on “THE DECISION.” I had been leaning pretty heavily to New York Law School and imagining walking the halls of the sleek, new building and sharing with strangers on a plane that I live in Manhattan. It’s certainly a dream to live in NYC but after further research and review, University of Miami is just a better fit. Miami Law has everything I could possibly want and more. Though large and with a huge faculty to student ratio, the clinic offerings, the academic programs, the Latin population, the study abroad options, the notoriety, the connections and alumni network are all ideal. And before we knew it, Dad and I had reached a decision. Miami.

We ran into Best Buy for a few things and when we returned to the car, I had an email saying “CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve been accepted to Pepperdine University School of Law!”
I just kept repeating, “DAD!!” I had no other words.
This changed everything.
I delayed my flight to Europe for a week to fly back to LA to see Pepperdine and attend an Admitted Student’s Open House to make my final decision.
At church on Easter, this was my most exciting news to share with anyone and everyone who would listen. Each person made it clear their preference for where my tuition check should go. And who can blame them. Pepperdine has epic things to offer and being accepted feels like a dream. Feels like a life that isn’t actually mine.

After a full day of the Admitted Student’s Open House, it was even clearer than before that Pepperdine is the place for me. Several really incredible interactions took place. I spoke with students who told me they are praying for the incoming class and one girl looked me dead in the eye and said, “You’ll make the right decision and God will lead you here, because Pepperdine is a place where God leads people.” When we met the dean and she introduced herself to us, Dad said, “Well, I think she’s decided to come here!” The dean shrieked in excitement and gave me a hug. Completely thrown off, I stood there, thinking, “Wow, this is the community I am being welcomed by and I can’t wait to get back here.” It was a powerful day and I am so confident that this is the right decision.

I seem to be incapable of finding words profound enough to explain how my blood feels like it is running smoother in my veins. I am incredibly confident that Pepperdine will nurture, feed and build my dreams in a way that no other community would be capable of doing and its such an exciting thought to know the steps that lie ahead may be hard work, but are on the exact path I have been envisioning. Now, its time to go back to Madrid and enjoy my last few months before I sell my blood to the library. I’ve got a new pep in my step feeling like the doors are unlocked and open. I can’t wait for these next few months to be the best yet.

“I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me.” –Empire of the Sun

Looking back on a conversation I had several weeks ago with my boss in Spain, I said, “Pray that I see the name of the school in the clouds.” I can honestly say, it really did feel like God’s answer was indeed that clear. I cannot thank you enough for the prayers, support, encouragement and awesomeness that you all have offered me along the way. I simply could not be here without you.

And you’ll have a HOME in Malibu in the fall! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

total production costs: $10 plus awesome

Do you know what my cure for hump day is? Well, usually, I barely survive Wednesdays, but today, it is this song and this video. It´s going to make your day. I promise. It´s just SO AWESOME.

I´ve got all sorts of things on my mind and I plan to get some serious blogging done this weekend, but for right now, all that´s playing in my head is this man. this man, dancin´and lovin´ life.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

its important for EVERYONE

this is worth the fight. i hope you will join me in making the pledge, writing to the selected people, donating $5 measly dollars per month, and collaborating in my city on April 20th. but most importantly, INFORM yourself. not just on Kony, but on all international criminals. and maybe one day, youll see me working at The Hague. Because this is my dream, to raise a child in a better world than the world that I live in. To teach them that every human has rights, and that I fight daily to ensure the International Declaration of Human Rights is effectively being implemented and justice is being actively sought when it is not.

"where you live shouldnt determine whether or not you live."

"not for self defense, but because it was RIGHT."

Friday, March 9, 2012

if a flame's what it takes to remember my name

It is my hope that in this blog, you occasionally read and think, "that's exactly what I needed to hear" or "thats where I am at" or "i want to remember that if i am in that position" but more importantly, that you find you can follow my ramblings and that you see how the lyrics presented go so hand in hand with the post. Sometimes the thoughts behind the post lead me to the music and sometimes its the other way around. But, they are always meant to be understood together by the reader and if your interpretation is getting lost, then I am losing my direction as a writer. All of these things are welcomed in emails and comments, so do not hesitate to keep giving me the feedback. That's why I write, for the feedback. 
Here's a culmination of several posts (see tagged labels below) and something that's really on my heart.

"this is a call to the color blind.  this is an ‘I-owe-You’.
I'm stranded behind the horizon line, tied up with something true.
Why is it not my time?
What is there more to learn?
      Shed this skin I've been tripping in
Never to quite return
Someday I'll fly, Someday I'll SOAR
              Someday, I'll be SO DAMN MUCH MORE
Cause I'm bigger than my body gives me credit for
I'm bigger than my body, now
Maybe I'll tangle in the power lines
And it might be over in a second's time
But I'll gladly go down in a flame.. 
       if a flame's what it takes to remember my name. 
-John Mayer, Bigger Than My Body

This winter has been extremely strange for me. I have had some really emotional highs and some rough, rock bottom emotional lows. I know those highs and lows aren't going away anytime soon. As a friend said to me regarding this law school application process, "Each step of this process has had its challenges and NOW its decision time..." In no way do I intend to ramble about my law school applications, but it's important for where I want to go, so hang in here with me for a second. As I spent several weekends laying around in bed because I was so sick, it's given days feeling well an entirely new brightness.

The decision to pack 3 suitcases and move to Madrid, Spain happened really fast even if it was something I had wanted for years before the Delta flight carried me here in October. I didn't have much time to really consider what I would be DOING. I teach teenagers. I am in a high school with students from all levels of English proficiency and all different backgrounds. With absolutely no education background, I have zero experience to be teaching English to highschoolers in Spain. Daily, I am faced with a question or word that I do not know the answer to. What is the difference in meaning in the sentence, "My mom likes everything including chocolate" and "My mom likes anything including chocolate." Nearly all of the textbooks are British English and I don't recognize some words or phrases or idioms because I speak American English. And for a percentage of my words, they can only be classified as Southern American English. The Californian English teacher that I work with argued with me when I said "I sleep in a bite guard at night." he said, "no, you sleep WITH a bite guard." this argument lasted ten more minutes. I say, you sleep WITH someone, WITH two pillows, but IN socks or IN pajama pants... maybe I just speak incorrectly. I don't know. But there are a lot of days when I think, "jeez, I suck at this job." Students blatantly skip class and do not study or participate or pay attention. The details of whats involved in "teaching English" is only a quarter of my job. The other part of my life here is battling the numerous things that drive me bat crazy, balancing the culture shock of the lackadaisical attitude, and other mounting frustrations unique to Spain but not so different than any other frustrations inherently attached with WORKING.
    All of this juxtaposition-ed against the time I had been dedicating to working on law school applications and carefully crafting beautiful essays that prophetically explained why I was anxiously awaiting an acceptance letter to THAT particular University, was more exhausting than I could properly explain to anyone. I was spending a large amount of emotional and physical energy on thinking about nothing except my future while feeling incredibly trapped in my current moment. I couldn't appropriately connect the two and I couldn't accurately justify how one led to the other or vice versa. For a majority of my mental capactiy, I was dreaming big dreams about what I want to do with my future, what I will do in fifteen years, the goals I have for myself and for my career. Why I want a law degree and what I am going to do with it. These essays took something out of me that I cannot explain. Telling someone, even if its a complete stranger, that you have dreams to change the way people think about genocide, the Holocaust and Human Rights meant for me that one day down the road, if I do not actually accomplish those things, I will be admitting to failure. Seeing these passions on paper scared me because they are the only reason why I have worked so hard. And if "those things" (any of my goals or dreams) are not meant, I will have failed myself, my wonderful support system and the law school that chose to accept me. But, this is big kid life and I am just beginning to grow into it.
    Now that I am out from the umbrella of the application process, I feel like I can breathe easier. But walking with what's become quite a weight on my shoulders of this looming GIGANTIC decision is becoming more difficult.
I know that I am going to miss Spain immensely. I am going to miss all the people that I live here with, who help hold me together just as much as my precious American friends. And while I am trying to make this huge decision, my one goal is to remember the ground beneath my feet.
To appreciate THIS precious moment.
To understand why I am receiving the decisions in this order and how to interpret each school's response.
To gain insight on WHO i AM, who i want TO BE, where I come FROM and where i am GOING.
To work on bettering myself in ways that make me happier, more pleasing as a servant to God, a better daughter, a better friend and a better citizen of this world.
To enjoy the days of sunshine and the days of rain, equally.
To basque in this phase of life, because I will never again hold it in my palms as I am now.

And, that is my challenge to you today, to do the same thing.

Walk this tight rope with me, of keeping your eyes focused on where you are walking, and each individual brick beneath your feet that is leading you there.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

we can feel so far from so close

if life wasn't such a roller coaster of ups and downs, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the best moments. I hadn't realized how deep my rut was until I glanced up and saw the black cloud had been lifted and blue sky was there instead. this change in the weather was partially due to exciting news (I've been accepted to law school!) and mostly due to a visit from a great friend. I so badly needed to be reminded of who I am and she was there to do just that. so when you get so discouraged, you don't even recognize yourself in the mirror, just think that if you could see the BIG picture, the BIG plan that you may be closer than you realize. and in that moment, you may feel the furthest away but count on a good friend to tell you, "shut up. I can see this so clearly and you can too if you took the time to stop worrying or being self absorbed and actually LOOK." most likely, it won't come out quite like that but if you're actually listening, that may be what you hear. and it's most likely going to be the exact reminder you've been thirsty for.
just keep the seed in your mind that nothing in this world is permanent, not even our most wicked troubles.
and hold on. 
better yet, hold on with someone else. 

Listen to Mat Kearney's song that inspired the post, the title of the post and the entire album I have on repeat here

Monday, February 13, 2012

throw the careful into crazy

Somehow holidays always sneak up on me. It´s like, I know that the holiday is coming and I know that February fourteenth is just another day, like yesterday was the thirteenth and tomorrow will be the fifteenth, but somehow a holiday makes the entire day FEEL different. After living for several months in a country where most of your holidays aren´t celebrated, I have realized this is even more true than I ever previously thought. Spain doesn´t particularly celebrate Valentine´s Day, and considering that it is 6:30 in the morning here, I have literally no clue what is in store for the rest of my day other than what´s written in my calendar: work and Spanish class. Though I feel it will be difficult to top my Valentine´s Day post from last year (read it here), I would like to make an effort, doing so with less effort.
Listen up: here.

I remember what I was doing last year and how it truly doesnt feel like 365 days have passed.
I remember Valentines Day in high school, waiting to see how many carnations I would get at lunch, who they would be from and what they would say.
Valentines Day in elementary school was always my least favorite, even if there were arts and crafts and chocolate involved. Lets be honest, there was always one kid that I didn´t like and I didn´t think deserved to get a valentine from me. Okay, who am I kidding, there were always at least three or four kids I felt that way about.
I remember a Valentines Day when I walked into a room with my favorite flowers and still, to this day, the most beautiful gerber daisies I have ever seen. I was so happy and I was so in love.
Last year, I was drug to that atrocious Valentine´s Day movie. It wasnt atrocious for any reason other than it was a sappy chick flick, and I strongly dislike these movies. My movie pick this year would be one the what feels like hundreds of Oscar nominees I haven´t yet seen.
I miss those little notes that just say, "hey, I love you!" from a friend stapled to a cheap $1 flower guaranteed to barely survive the entire day.

How should I inspire you today, on a day when you should be bringing to the attention of someone that you love that you love them? Well, unfortunately I don´t have much inspiration, so I am hoping you find some in this wonderful song by Bob Schneider (see some of my favorite lyrics in pink below). It´s my Valentine´s Day gift to you, regardless of if youll be curled up next to someone later, if youll be curled up in your cozy bed with a good book or if youll be spending time with friends and/or some combination of all of the above.


Here´s what I know, most definitively: there is something right about you and me. 
There is no reason to think that this black cloud I feel hanging over me isnt on its way out of town.
When the whole world falls into the sea, Ill still be clutching tightly onto the friendships that I treasure so dearly and that have successfully brought me this far. And we will be living ever after, happily. Of this, I am confident.
Despite creeping fear that its risky, I hope we can spur each other onto diving in whole-heartedly, even if it means potential heartbreak, just for the chance of something great and better than any expectations. Because, let´s DO IT. Come out with me tonight, come out with me baby. Let´s throw the careful into crazy. We can be like, good times that haven´t happened yet, but WILL. We can do what we wanna do.
Hell, make a fire, gotta burn a few...
Dream stealing is no crime. We´ll get there before you know.
Maybe discontentment is born from half-assing it and straddling the middle ground, living in the boring comfort zone. And that´s no good because...

We ain´t got no time to waste, 
we got too much life to taste. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

my love affair with everywhere was innocent, why do you care?

Vacilando – according to, it’s a Spanish term for the act of wandering when the experience of travel is more important than reaching the specific destination. John Steinbeck (inTravels With Charley: In Search of America, 1962) wrote: ‘In Spanish there is a word for which I can’t find a counterword in English. It is the verb vacilar, present participle vacilando. It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but does not greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.’

Facebook wall posts, excuse me, TIMELINE posts, that say things like, (and I quote) "update your blog you whore." make me feel happy inside and that you people actually care about what i do and do not write. So here is my blog post. Apparently, it is Spanish tradition to talk about what you expect to happen in the next year of your life around your birthday. It's like New Years Resolutions, except, not. In my 23rd year of living, what do I expect to happen? Well, in fact, this is a spectacular question. As mentioned in my previous post, I really have no clue what will happen in this next year. But I am beginning to think that is better than having all these expectations and then being heart broken when I realize, AGAIN, that I had no idea what was actually the best for me but that miraculously, things worked out better than ever possibly expected.
I have discovered in the past month or so that one of the most difficult yet interesting things to do is to reveal yourself to someone. And this is one of my new least favorite and favorite past times. Each time such an opportunity arises to learn about someone else, you get to learn about yourself too. And its awesome. There was a quote from 30 Rock when Liz Lemon says, "I wish when you first met someone they could just tell you all their weird quirks up front so you didnt have to discover each layer on your own, getting more and more sour with each one." (something along these lines) and sometimes, I agree, I wish it was that easy, but other times, I think about the beauty of someone who really KNOWS you, and that's nothing I could have ever handed someone on a silver platter, no matter how hard I tried. For example, I was super sick earlier this week and friends berated me about getting rest, hydrating, going to the doctor, skipping work, etc. All demands without substantial encouragement and coercion I seem to be incapable of following on my own. I'm not really sure where this was going, or if it ever even had a direction, other than just to say, that I have loved letting someone else inside, if even only just for a few seconds to selfishly discover new things about myself. And it's true, I form in wet sand. Or so, I am completely convinced.

"My shadows side so amplified, keeps coming back so dissatisfied
My love affair with everywhere was innocent, why do you care?
My sunny side is up and died
I'm betting that when we collide the universe will shift into a low
My what a good day for a walk outside
I like to get to know you little better baby
God knows that I really tried

I saw you there so unaware those hummingbirds all in your hair
The disrepair of norma Jean could not compare to your routine
My what a good day for a let it slide
I'd like to say we did it for the better of...
Right on the verge just one more dose
I'm travelling from coast to coast
My theory isn't perfect but it's close
I'm almost there why should I care
My heart is hurting when I share
Someone open up Let it show

I thought about it and I brought it out
                                I'm motivated by the lack of doubt
I'm consecrated but I'm not devout
The mother, the father, the daughter
You don't form in the wet sand,
You don't form at all
Woah you don't form in the wet sand,
I do"
-Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wet Sand

Monday, January 30, 2012

i chose this.

Tell me this is not how you feel on Mondays. And this "stranger's nightmare" is what I chose for myself. And sometimes its wonderful and sometimes, it's totally not. I have had this song on repeat. I love the song itself more than the lyrics, but there are a few lines I can't help but feel the hair stand up on my neck as I think, "oh yeah that's actually about right..." and the video some kids made could not have been more of a pleasant surprise. A new day is around the corner. And thank goodness for that!

You shut me up with your long tubesocks
                                          They don't scream, "Hey, let's just be friends" 
Look at both my inkwells brimming 
How many stars you think you possess?
How many in your butterfly net? 
Build me a star in your forehead.
Don't let the bathwater get too high 
You will be a flood of porcelain...
And we're going to flood this house
This is me starring In a stranger's nightmare
-Freelance Whale, Starring

Sunday, January 22, 2012

it's just too bright, as the days keep turning into night

"Well, I have been searching all of my days.
Many a road, you know, I've been walking on, all of my days.
And I've been tryin' to find, what's been on my mind, as the days keep turning into night.
Well, I have been quietly standing in the shade, all of my days.
Watch the sky breaking on the promise that we made, all of this rain.
And I've been trying to find, what's been in my mind, as the days keep turning into night.
Many a night, I found myself with no friends standing near..
I cried aloud, I shook my hands, 'what am I doing here?!' all of these days...
For I look around me, and my eyes, confound me.
And it's just too bright, as the days keep turning into night.
So I smile, and know I'll feel this loneliness no more. For I look around me, and it seems you've found me.
And it's coming into sight, as the days keep turning into night.
And even breathing feels alright. Yes, even breathing feels alright. Now, even breathing feels alright."
-Alexi Murdoch, All My Days

It is January 22nd and I realize this post is a little late. But time is really flying by. I think every one of my journal entries begins with something about how fast time is going by, and it seems I can hardly keep up as these days keep turning into nights. 
I was teaching lessons on "New Year's Eve traditions and resolutions" all week and I can't help but share some thoughts. First of all, I learned that Spaniards don't particularly make resolutions. The word resolution itself is best directly translated as, "propositions." Interesting, I said the first time I heard this. I asked my students, "So, wait, you don't claim you'll miraculously become a new and improved, better person in the upcoming new year?" One student replied quizzically, "No, I mean, that's unrealistic, so why would we do that?" I wanted to end class right there and just chew on that. As I reflect on what my resolutions are this year, I realize that they are all basically the exact same as they were last year. I pride myself in being a very goal-oriented person, like my Mother and I do generally succeed in meeting the goals for myself. But as I have read Thought Catalog's "What 20-Somethings Want," I think about what I want, and its all basically the same things I wanted last year. And just because there are few changes to my Hello 2011 post, doesn't mean that I didn't succeed in reaching those goals last year. It's just that I think I've reached a point where the things I am chasing, wanting, trying to be are slightly more static than they have been in years past and I am okay with that.
Just because commercials cater to Americans thinking they will miraculously muster up the motivation they've been lacking for years because it's time to make resolutions, doesn't mean that resolutions are inherently bad. Even if they're not kept. And that's what I think about resolution making. It's worth your time even if you fall short. What's that cheesy phrase that used to be on posters in our elementary classrooms? I can picture it right now: Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars. Set goals, make resolutions, create propositions for yourself not just because its the first fresh few days of a new year, but because you owe it to yourself. Self-improvement. Not just in January, but throughout the year. So, this year, resolve to set some goals and then resolve to stick to 'em.

Who knows what 2012 will hold. 

One thing that is for sure is there will be more engagements and weddings than I can keep track of. Mine will not be one of them. Maybe this will be the year that I will fall madly in love again. Maybe this will be another year of funny stories, disaster dates, short lived hotties and almosts. In fact, either of these or a combination thereof, I am perfectly okay with.
2012 holds the secret of where I will be settling for the next three years, perhaps where I will apply to take the bar and perhaps the state where I will call "home" for a long time. That frightens and excites me simultaneously, especially considering I currently have NO clue where that will be past this short list: DC, LA, NYC, Miami, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago.
Maybe 2012 will be another year of friendship turmoil or maybe 2011 held it all so 2012 can be about harvesting the good that's left over. Perhaps this year will be another great football season for the beautiful Crimson Tide and perhaps it will be a rebuilding year with a few losses sprinkled into the season.
This will be another year of being a 20-something lost, confused and searching for answers to questions that I have been looking forward to answering for years and questions I have yet to create entirely.
I predict that for a decent chunk of 2012, I will be in the library with my nose dug into a book or staring at this very computer screen until I go cross-eyed. I. cannot. wait.

As for the idea that if you keep your resolutions a secret, they will come true, I think that's pure nonsense. I believe in the opposite. So, here are mine. I hope that you will help me with the following ideas and that you will consistently be on me. If you share yours with me, I will promise to do the same thing. Promise.

LOVE. above everything else. 
keep my priorities in line.
make myself and those around me proud.
Don't forget to breathe.
Pray. Have a faith bigger than my fear.
Run and do ab workouts several times a week
Take good care of those that I love
Make the most of every second and live with no regrets
Read all the NYT Bestsellers
Read a complete book in Spanish
Learn from myself and others
Do something extraordinary
Do something that makes a difference, no matter how small 
Do something new
Read the news several times a week
Maintain my blogs regularly
Break 3 bad habits: snooze, acrylic nails, texting and driving
Make art
Be thankful for absolutely EVERYTHING
Remind people of their loveliness often
Watch all the 2012 Academy Award nominees
Watch all the 2012 Emmy winners
Rationalize with my heart and head instead of siding with one or the other
Keep an open mind
Stay in better touch with Mom's family. Go to Dallas.
Surround myself with people who lift me up, call me to higher living, and believe in my dreams
Gain a pea-sized ounce of patience
Expand my vocabulary and curse less
Less English, more Spanish
Whatever I do, be passionate about it
Look for inspiration
Go to concerts of my favorite artists and other cultural events

And in case I didn't already take up enough of your time today, read this.

Friday, January 20, 2012

i wanna wear my hair up in a mess, cut off jeans, can you get with that?

Source: via Meghann on Pinterest

hey Friday. i choose to spend you however i want. sleeping, pinterest-ing, and listening to great music.
hey to-do list, see ya tomorrow.
download this. its just a powerful jam. so great...

Monday, January 16, 2012

just by folding a map

for the last year and a half, this blog has been a refuge to spill about things in life that confuse, perplex, astound, amaze and impress me. i am continuously surprised at the random people that tell me they read these ramblings, much less when i hear they feel where i am coming from. i am hoping that this next string of thoughts finds you either on my same page, or with the ability to leave a comment that says, "steph, i love you, but you're crazy."
perhaps, it will leave you thinking both, which i am perfectly content with.
In one of the first Death Cab songs I ever fell in love with, Ben Gibbard expresses, "So, this is the new year.
And I don't feel any different. 
The clanking of crystal, explosions off in the distance. 
So, this is the new year. 
And I have no resolutions. 
It's selfish, I panic from problems with easy solutions...
I wish the world was flat like the old days, 
so that I could travel just by folding a map. 
No more airplanes or speedways, 
there'd be no distance that could hold us back. 
There'd be no distance that could hold us back."
Since I boarded the plane to come back to Spain, I cannot shake this feeling that I have been so strictly forced to choose. I hate that I have to choose HERE or THERE. That I am incapable of doing a decent job of reconciling both worlds that are each so important to me, so dear to my heart, so ME. Unable to clear these thoughts from my head, all day at work today (which happened to be particularly frustrating as luck would have it) all I could think was, "what the fuck am I doing here?!" I feel that everything I am doing here is wrong. Not that me actually being here is wrong, but that what I am actually DOING here is wrong.
My priorities are so absurdly out of line.
As Dave would say it, "what I want is what I've not got and what I need is all around me." What I want to be spending time on is not how I am actually spending my time at all, whatsoever. What I want to be learning, seeing, doing is what always seems to get the back burner. This is where the "problems with easy solutions" line comes into play. Well then, I think to myself, I will re-prioritize. I will re-invent this side of my life. I will RESOLVE to get things in order. I will think about how i WANT to spend my day and spend it THAT way. But it's not so easy. I have committed to things, I have made promises, I have tied myself down and I have found that this free bird has actually become acutely aware of the cage she built. Even if that cage is just until July.
I am confident this feeling will be shaken when I have settled back into my routine and I am not on hyper-sensitive mode to the strangeness of things here, the bizarreness of a grueling job i never saw myself having, the inability to see how this is relevant to training i want or need and that my entire mentality is different. but for a girl who appreciates vulnerability and has promised to be a messenger of a variety of emotions and topics, this is one of those posts that's just not quite as colorful as the others.