Weltschmerz v. Wanderlust

There are so many things I could write about, but I have such little motivation.

Well, that’s a lie. I am motivated to begin and end this blog post. I am motivated to one day finish sorting the hundreds of pages of music and class notes scattered about my room. I am motivated to do all of my Lieder translations today, and look at the music for Russian diction. I am motivated to sing through Joan’s Aria, and I am motivated to restrain myself to only two cups of coffee today.

But after that I may switch to beer.

These have been the longest two weeks of my life. Professionally, emotionally, and mentally, I’ve been completely drained. My energy is at an all time low– all I “want to do” is sit quietly by myself. I don’t even really want to listen to music. That’s another all time low for me. I could at least sit with something on in the background, usually. But today and yesterday I’ve put on the last-resort playlist of the Avett Brothers’– the soundtrack of my adolescence and the only music I can listen to with a combination of compliance, satisfaction, happiness-in-remembering-home and abject misery. It’s very strange. I guess I would compare it to the musical equivalent of the concept of “Heimat.” The Avetts are my musical Heimat– especially their older songs denote my experiences both at home and at Eastman. They were the soundtrack to both homes and can comfort just as readily (and often at the same time) as they bring heartsickness.

Anyway, what was I saying?

All time low. That’s right.

But overall the past two weeks have been successful? I sang as one of eight finalists for the Friends of Eastman Opera competition. Didn’t win, but I’m not complaining, as I had my senior recital a short two days later. Both my family from home and my musical family here were mostly present, in person or over the internet. It flew by in half of an eye-blink and then this week occurred. Long opera rehearsal combined with work, schoolwork and classes… and then thoughts about the summer and how I am supposed to afford it… My brain is just frazzled. And this is without considering the natural human element. The drama here is just suffocating.

But, I’ve read a little poetry and kept to myself as much as possible. This is not to say that I’m antisocial… but sometimes (okay, more often than not) it’s refreshing to get away from others. I can’t distract myself with a dog, so no escape there… I’d go for a walk, but it’s cold outside: plus, it’s not as if Rochester is necessarily picturesque. The escape occurs when I can leave Eastman. Mostly figuratively, you understand, but when I picture myself in Philly this summer my spirit gets just slightly lighter.

And Germany. Let’s talk about that for a moment.

I have wanted to go for nearly six years now. That’s over a quarter of my life. I’m of the opinion, if you’ve wanted something for a quarter of your life and haven’t achieved it yet, it’s time.

The question is, really, how? How to afford it, how to get there? How to convince my mother? And again, how to afford it? There are so many other things that need to be paid for, the least of which being rent, and the greatest of which being the summer program in June I’ve already committed to. How to make another pocket of money, in order to travel alone, halfway across the world, just because I want to?

There really aren’t any acceptable excuses for wasting money (or even debating wasting money) in this way. I must just be selfish. Why can’t I wait for life experiences to find me? I keep telling myself, if it’s meant to happen, it will. I need to be patient.

The funny thing is, while typing “happen” just now, I made the mistake of writing “happy” instead. Twice, I did this.

Now, that should tell me something.

There are some things– like Eastman, like this Russian Opera Workshop– that happen almost on their own. Yes, I’ve worked hard, but that doesn’t always mean success. These things have occurred by a stroke of blessed, cosmic luck, and I am supremely grateful.

But other things in my life (my senior recital, which received six “brava”s from the six present faculty members, or the Mahler solo in October) have taken place and been highly successful because I’ve worked. And loved the work, and worked with love. That has to count for something, too. The work, and love, and cosmic power have to come together at some point, for some people, sometimes– otherwise no one would ever accomplish anything they set out to do.

So there’s that tangent. I want to travel and experience things (and, you know, maybe actually learn this language I’m obsessed with). I just have no idea how it’s going to happen. The sad part is, if I hadn’t signed on to do Russian Opera Workshop again, I might have been able to scrounge up the funds to do Goethe-Institut in July. Now, there’s almost no way, because I owe Ghena money and of course I’m thrilled to be singing Joan; it’s going to be another incredible June. But it is expensive.

And I feel as though I’m going to miss something! I know it’s strange, at twenty-one, to really worry about missing life. Extrinsically, I realize that I have plenty of time and blah, blah, blah. But if I’ve learned nothing else, I know that that is really not always the case. I’m stuck here at this conservatory, garnering a fabulous musical education– and I should only be grateful. I am grateful. But I don’t leave. I don’t meet anyone. I don’t sing anywhere. I don’t even have time to learn music because I’m busy with rehearsal and classes and work. And outside of this grey, miserable, freezing, windy, sunshine-less city, the world continues spinning and others live full lives with love and happiness and other types of motivating forces that often don’t seem to exist in Rochester.

But this wasn’t really meant to be a “look at how pathetic my life is” ramble. It originally started off as an update on the life of a tired soprano, for the three souls on the planet that might actually wonder (three is being optimistic, anyhow). And I know, too, that if I want change, I have to make it. That’s just one of those things, though, that is much, much easier said (or typed) than done.

I’m reminded of a poem I recently read; it resonates with my own unwinding, stormy mood this week. Like I said, this wasn’t supposed to morph into a gloomy mess, but here we are. Might as well indulge…

Ûber die Heide 
Theodor Storm*

Über die Heide hallet mein Schritt;
Dumpf aus der Erde wandert es mit.
Herbst ist gekommen, Frühling ist weit–
Gab es denn einmal selige Zeit?
Brauende Nebel geisten umher;
Schwarz ist das Kraut und der Himmel so leer.
Wär ich hier nur nicht gegangen im Mai!
Leben und Liebe– wie flog es vorbei!

My own poetic (ish) translation follows… watch out, world… 

Over the heath echoes my footstep;
Muffled out of the earth, it roams with me.
Autumn has come, Spring is far–
Was there ever once a blissful time?
Brewing mists spirit around;
Black is the grass and the sky, so empty.
If only I had not gone here in May!
Life and Love– how they flew past!

*For posterity’s sake I feel I should mention that Theodor Storm (besides being one kick-ass name) was the author of Die Nachtigall, one of my favorite poems ever. The text was set to music by Alban Berg and features as the third song in the cycle Sieben frühe Lieder. I sang these nearly a week ago for my senior degree recital.

Another list because I can’t seem to get off the internet

Yeah, I have about zero will power right now. Mary, EE, Ivana and I just got back from Relay for Life at U of R. I spent the rest of my money in support of cancer research. Not only has every other person in my immediate family had it, but I’m likely to, and so is my sister, unless we luck out like our father has so far. I made a luminaria for Grandpa, Aunt Ginny, my great-grandparents, and Aunt Josie. I also have a really spiffy t-shirt and pink button necklace now, but I would have spent the money anyway. It’s probably the best cause I can contribute to right now, and shit, if it means I’m without Java’s for a week, the world won’t stop turning, will it?

Anyway, I guess I said this was going to be a list in the post title, so here we go. What did I do today/think about (not that it’s relevant, or that anyone cares)… this is my own blog, after all, I don’t even have to write well, let alone justify myself. So there.

List of things I did/thought about today (in no particular order)

  • Matt Grills is a wonderful artist/human being and I could have sat in his recital for another few hours… days… weeks. Whatever
  • I can’t go to Wegman’s without spending money on cheese… I’m a sucker for a certain Brie, and I don’t care who knows it
  • I’m getting old
  • I had to check and delete my full voicemail inbox today, and heard messages I’d saved from two years ago. My great-aunt Mary Jane left me a message asking for my mailing address, and I’d saved it, probably because I guess I saved basically all of my messages at that time. She passed away over winter break this year. It’s not like I’m unaware that she is pain-free now, and I hope happier and at peace, but it was a quick clench of the heart to hear her sweet voice again, so unexpectedly. Also I was in Java’s waiting for my sandwich and basically about to cry. Knowing she’s better off now and missing her are two separate things entirely.
  • You know when you’re looking for someone who’s supposed to be meeting you, and end up literally staring at someone you know, but not really looking at them (more of a looking-through?)? Did that tonight. Whoops. I blushed so hard afterward I felt like I was hot flashing.
  • My eyesight has gotten SO BAD, to the point where I’m beginning to be concerned…
  • I think I’m going to enjoy the German future tense
  • I miss Russian more than I thought I did… I wonder if Michelle found my notebook when I asked her to, three weeks ago
  • I want to go home and see my family
  • I want to go home and have a fabulous place to practice
  • I don’t know how I’m going to make any money this summer
  • How shall I obtain Professor Daigle’s signature?
  • How shall I admit that I actually have a physical list of questions to ask about performing?
  • I just yawned wide enough to crack my jaw
  • I thought about Daniel today, after I listened to the Aunt Mary Jane voicemail. I guess because his is another death that has affected my life, albeit a little differently. He was nineteen, three years ago and eleven days from now. God.
    But as I thought about him, and felt sad for a pretty good chunk of time, I swear I almost heard a voice snap– pleasantly but sarcastically– “What the hell are you doing? Go out and live,” and I probably imagined it, but it killed the morose mood I’d sunk into and spurred me into getting ready for my next class, and resolving to be a little ballsier.  I’d like to think it was Daniel, even though I know that’s nuts, and if I were him I wouldn’t waste my time. But I know he tried to live life to its fullest, so, I guess you never know.
  • In other news, Mu Phi is lame, and no, I didn’t get a damn email, or text
  • I’m tired of this list and I’m tired in general. I guess I’m not very interesting this evening. Oh well…
  • “Guten Abend, mein Schatz! Guten Abend, mein Kind…”

I wanna dance with somebody

Well, this is cool. I’m blogging off of my phone, as my lack of computer for the last couple of weeks has left me a little desolate in the blogging department. 

Whitney Houston just came up on shuffle, the room I cleaned yesterday has fallen back into its regular state of unoffensive clutter, and I’m still in my coat and shoes. My 8.30 class was fantastic, as per usual, but the happiness has faded a little. I don’t have a lot of fun here outside of class and homework and books– not that I’m saying that those things aren’t fun. But I missed a chance to go skating tonight (well, I’m on the waiting list). But I didn’t think to ask if anyone wanted to go with me until a little while ago, because as a rule many of my friends don’t like the same outside-of-school things as I do. Hockey games? No way– an Amerks game (with discounted tickets!) is out of the question. Boxing? Only now are a few of my singer friends starting to trickle in. And I guess, thinking about it now, aside from those and a few other things, I don’t have any fun things in my life here… besides reading and music. That should be enough, right?

Right?

Brief rant

I don’t consider myself weak-willed. I don’t think I’m a pushover, I don’t think I’m an easy sell or a wishy-washy personality. I have a love of compromise, and I value harmony.

But there comes a time when a girl just has to stand her ground and say, “Look, buddy. This is my career, and my education we’re talking about. I need us to do what’s right for me, whether you feel like it or not.”

Of course, nothing is that easy. I can state my viewpoint and give a list of reasons why I stand by it, and still be overridden by someone who thinks that they have the greater insight into the music that wants to be made.

But, sure. That’s fine. I’ll just sit here, miserable and hurt, and not just a little angry, while you call my primary teacher directly to discuss a two-page piece that we could easily present five days from now. Go right ahead, override me, make me feel small and stupid and unskilled.

Thank you, but no thank you for being an inconsiderate, falsely concerned, uncommunicative ass. I really appreciate your efforts to ruin my day.

The end.

Half of a confession (one’s enough for tonight, anyway)

My room is a disaster zone. Half-wrapped gifts are strewn everywhere, flashcards half-studied lie piled on my desk and all of my books and notes for every class I’ve taken this semester are piled on my bed, waiting for me to organize them and decide what I can throw out, what I can use to study from, and what I need to bring home for the break.

I have some Christmas music playing, but it doesn’t help the pressure go away. I have cinnamon coffee freshly brewed on my desk, and that does help. But it also serves as a reminder that I have four days left to prove that I can be a smart, dedicated, and productive person. I feel like this semester has pressed me into a corner, and while cowering in that corner, afraid of the work and the knowledge and failure, I’ve forgotten that I really am someone who loves to learn. I absorb new knowledge. I LIKE IT.

I didn’t like anything about this semester except the German language and diction classes, the excitement Dr. Laitz brought to written theory class, and the door Frau Balsam opened for me (helped me open myself?) into the world of German lied. Those things, and my illegal Christmas lights.

They make me happy now, when I force myself to reflect. They’ll make me happy for the next four days, until I can get the hell out of here and prepare myself for the semester to come in the comfort of my own home for a month. I am looking forward to learning the rest of the rep for Lucy’s and my recital, I am looking forward to teaching again… I am looking forward to being a huge cookie monster and going crazy for Christmas. I haven’t been this thrilled to be celebrating this holiday since I was about nine. I’m not kidding, either. I think it has something to do with the fact that I can now get my parents things: real, useful things. And I can spoil my sister like I’ve always wanted to be: with random, frivolous, happy little things that have no value to the rest of the world, but are so fun and precious between the people who give and receive them. (Although, Michelle, if you’re reading this, I didn’t get you a thing…)

Oh, and I can’t stand this– this pointless rambling about stuff that’s not really pointless, no, but it’s not the heart of the matter. None of it’s why I’m writing, none of it has anything to do with the sick feeling I have, all the time. I can’t even blame it on seasonal depression, because there’s no snow (yet).

I can’t (won’t) talk about the one thing, the thing that’s really wrong with me regarding finals week. That’s not for a public blog. But I can talk about the boy thing. And it might seem a little bit stupid, a little girly. And certainly a lot unimportant, considering you’d think there could be one or two other things I could be thinking about, right?

But no. Instead I sit here wishing that, for once in my life, I could meet someone. Maybe it’s this stupid little hope I have of a sleigh ride in a quiet woods, with gentle snowfall and a knitted scarf. Maybe it’s the hazy daydream of laughing with someone, of caring for them enough to find them a thoughtful gift. Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me that pleads for an impromptu hockey game on a frozen pond, or a morning of making hot chocolate with Bailey’s and Christmas cookies, or a night curled up together watching tacky traditional holiday movies.

But those things happen in books. Those things happen in movies. And those things happen mostly in my mind. And they happen with someone who’s not a musician, who understands that there is more to life, and who’s typically about four or five years older than I am. Someone who wants all of me, not just the physical aspect. Someone who at least pretends to have a brain located somewhere other than the place where all boys keep theirs.

I’m not saying I want to get married and have babies. In fact, I turn a little green when I think about that. Honestly it’s too early, and I want a Career (yes, with the capital C). But (and this really is pathetic, because there are bigger worries, in reality): I’m lonely. I haven’t dated anyone in over four years. I’d trade all of the kisses since then for someone that respects women, respects what I do, and is a real person.

And that’s enough my emotional weeding for the evening. I have three finals this week and a recording session tomorrow evening (as well as class), so I should probably go and pretend I’m being productive.

Finally the little meltdown

Whoa, yep. Here it comes. Here we go. Finally the little meltdown.

I lost my Single Game of Therapeutic Tetris because of this. I was on level five. For me, that’s actually serious failure.

Look, I can’t help it that I am an emotional person. See? There, I’ve said it. I’ve finally confessed. I am a blatantly emotional person. It’s not a crime. It’s how I’m made. It’s a genetic accident that has led to extremely powerful feelings when I don’t want them and mentally know I sure as hell don’t need them (interfering with my daily life).

But on the other hand, those deeply felt extremely passionate reactions are the reason I can write and mean it. They are the reason I can sing about love and have it reach someone. They are the reason I can bring life to old volumes of music that have been around for centuries. They are the reason I can love so fiercely, and with everything I have.

I care about what happens to my friends. I care when I hurt someone’s feelings. I care when I feel I am being used to get to someone else. I care when people I thought were my very best friends treat me like shit.

I care that I am so uncomfortable speaking up when I feel that I have been treated like shit. Why I am walked over so easily? Why am I constantly taken advantage of?

Is it because I like it? Is it because I want to feel needed by the people I love?

Or is it because that, somewhere along the line, I stopped caring that I treat some of my friends better than they treat me?

I think I just love too much. I love so much that I don’t think before I speak when it comes down to protecting what I feel ought to be protected. I don’t gauge the consequences when I can’t take it any more, and that’s why I can’t stand up for myself. Because it usually turns out with me looking like some know-it-all, high and mighty bitch. When really, I just read a lot, so my bitchiness is well thought out and (for the most part) grammatically correct.

I hate myself for caring. I have thought to myself, why can’t I be someone normal, who doesn’t give enough of a crap to speak her mind about something important? Why can’t I just shut up and keep my advice to myself? I get myself in trouble for being honest. For being absolutely one hundred percent honest with someone I thought I could trust… and then I try to fix it, which is almost just as bad.

What’s wrong with me?

But I can’t change. I won’t change. I won’t even go back and proofread this because even if it makes no sense I refuse to give an inch on this… this entire stupid situation. It’s so petty and I’m done. I just want to go home.

You can while away the hours (like me)

Apparently the only useful skill I have right now is procrastination. I don’t want to unpack all of my clothes because I don’t have music on. I don’t want to turn music on because I don’t know what I want to listen to. I don’t want to listen to anything that’ll make me think of home for too long, because I miss it.

I called Grandma tonight, and that was good. Mom spent an extra three hours with me in Rochester helping me solve my phone dilemma. What more could I have wanted?

I still have my Deutsch to do and I am skyping with Kenneth in less than an hour. Ironically my German homework is a Familienstammbaum. Kühl. Not.

Anyway I guess I’d better get working on it. I’ve only been to Facebook and Twitter twenty times in the past twenty-six minutes….

I want to have friends that’ll let me be, alone when being alone is all that I need

That quote basically describes my life. If I am to be completely honest, I love my friends. I love them and it hurts when some of them don’t love me back. Or when they don’t even realize how much I give a shit what they think. It is painful to force yourself face to face with the fact that you are so insignificant in someone’s life (someone you’ve known for over a year now), that they don’t even realize how much you need them to care, even a little.

Isn’t that how life works, though? You try and love with all you have in whatever capacity you’re capable of, and it either doubles and returns or trickles off into nothingness. And you’re rejected.

As I listened to the Bitchin’ Kitchen play tonight, I wondered, if the group of people (friends?) I’m talking about cared, would it make it better? Would it make the clinging sadness in my chest go away? Or it is just early-onset seasonal depression setting in, or what? Then I wondered, if there was a boy, would it be better? And then I decided, probably not. A boy of that sort is basically a built-in best friend you can have sex with, and somehow I think having one of those would complicate things more than it would help.

I mean, I don’t mind being my own best friend. And I’ve said for a long time that if no one talks to you, that’s your own fault and you should go be more social. But here, everyone is working their asses off to be the best. If I don’t talk to people, it’s because I’m working. I’m trying to make something of myself. I want to have friends who understand what it’s like to need to be alone, to focus or to refocus, but who also understand the necessity of human contact.

Maybe it’s all about finding the perfect fit of people who care a lot, enough to notice when you’re upset or lonely or tired or miserable. Maybe it’s all about taking closer notice of the feelings of the ones I am rather close to. The ones who don’t talk to me simply because they’re bored and there’s nothing else to do.

But for now, I guess I’ll be my own best friend. It’s okay. I’m used to it by now.

In the first spinning place

I’m sick today.

But it’s okay, because it’s just a head cold. Praise Jesus. Although granted it feels like a hippopotamus is sitting inside my brain, chillin’. But it’s okay! I only have two exams to freak out for this week, and I’m singing in studio tomorrow with Orlando accompanying me and no Joong-Han and crappy Italian and OH I feel like crap.

But it’s okay. I get to sit out of Women’s Choir tonight, by order of my Professor (who basically runs my life, and it’s great). I’ll go to River Campus and get some food and do some work and take Robitussin and decongestants.

Renee

So I’m supposed to be getting ready right now. RENEE FLEMING is singing in the Eastman Theatre at 3. I’m sitting here in my gym clothes, unshowered, and cranky because I don’t feel well.

I hate being sick.

That said, I know I need to cheer up and get myself moving. I also have a mountain of homework I’ve been shoving aside because I can’t seem to focus… but seriously this phase needs to work itself out because I really don’t have time to deal with it. I need to be present, and I need to be on top of this shit. I have my aural midterm in less than four days. Oh God. Oh God. And then the in class exam on Thursday. So, yeah. Need to be focused.

BUT. Renee Fleming is singing today! And I can get semi-dressed up and pretty and go hear/see her. I’m at the orchestra level, which is mad cool. I’m a little grumpy I missed her question and answer session yesterday, but we had a concert (gag, choir). But, as I kept reminding myself, if one is a forward-thinking and positive singer, one hopes that one would meet her in a more professional, different context someday. That would also be mad cool.

But yeah. I’m totally wasting time right now and I have an hour and one minute to get ready. I shouldn’t need that much time but I don’t want to rush myself. Ha ha. I mean, because I’m in such a rush as it is right now. I not only hate being sick, I hate being unproductive. At least I cleaned my floor, tried to work on my composition assignment, and have the Avetts playing loudly and obnoxiously (I hope the girl on this floor who likes to bump shitty techno in the middle of the night is here, and annoyed).

UHG. Yeah. I need to go. To Renee! Eventually.

I should go to sleep

Well, I should.

I feel like everything I post nowadays is really boring, or about how busy I am or how I’m feeling.

I wonder what it would be like to not talk about myself for once? But I suppose that my most knowledgeable subject so it’s easiest to discuss.

It has been sunny lately (default: weather). This is great. Vitamins, minerals, natural light/natural warmth.

Okay forget this, I can’t even pretend to want to talk about anything else. I love sunshine. It makes me happy. Therefore the weather today was even correlated directly with my feelings. It’s not as if those feelings are any more relevant than yours, say, or my next door neighbor’s, but they’re what I know. So I’m going to discuss it, all right?!

And now I’m arguing with myself. Title=case in point right now. Entirely pointless, self-centered two minute post finished. Gute nacht.

You drift upon the silence of my dreams

I almost didn’t write. I had this window closed and everything. But I guess I needed to.

There’s not a whole lot going on right now, though: it’s one of those chunks of time that you’re so busy with everything that time just slides by.

Good. It should. I’m ready to go back home.

It’s silly, though, because I adore it here. I’m just ready to see my family again.

My accompanist told me this morning that he feels old. He’s twenty-five or six. I’m eighteen, and I feel old every morning.

I have eleven frappuccinos from Starbucks in my fridge (before you scorn me, I did not use actual money, I used declining).

I am completely typing stream-of-consciousness right now, so what you see is what I’m thinking, I suppose.

I’m listening to a recording of “The White Swan” right now (Ernest Charles). I sang it tonight in studio, and I got a lot of really solid feedback for it. It’s got an indigo and red-violet shimmer to it that’s edged with a sliver of white gold. That’s the song in color for me: deep jewel tones with a bright, hot edge.

It’s about someone who wants someone else. She thinks she’s forgotten this person, and has closeted away thoughts of them. But there’s something striking and vivid about a memory from before, of a white swan bursting through a sable pool she and this person saw years or days or months ago… and it slides deeply and sharply into her heart, that she craves this person more than anything. “I dared to dream I had forgotten you. Yet from the shadows of my darkened heart, like a white swan upon an onyx pool, you drift upon the silence of my dreams– and fill my heart with longing! With longing… and desire.”

It gets pretty intense. And as two of my favorite studio mates (grad students) told me this evening, with the accompaniment, “That’s hot.” So by that standard alone it was a great class. It never ceases to amaze me that I’m actually here. I’m really living, breathing– and studying at Eastman. What the hell?

A year ago I was hating life and yearbook and wishing to Jesus that I could just have fun. I thought for sure I was going to Syracuse to do something else with my life… besides sing.

I still want to do something else with my life: like be someone worth knowing? that would be cool. But singing is something I find myself connecting with on a deeper and deeper level every day. Especially since “O del mio dolce ardor” at the departmental recital, I just have a feeling (a confidence? maybe) that I should be doing this. I could travel with this, I could learn so much if I continue with it.

I take my music ed assessment tomorrow at 430. This is directly after four hours of classes (not counting the two in the AM). The assessment will determine whether or not I can double major officially or not. Oh God, what do I do if I fail it?

I won’t fail it. I hope.

With that, it’s time to conclude these completely disconnected ramblings and go shower. Buona notte, wordpress.

Perfection (a reflection)

To be honest, I never usually have so many ideas I can articulate in one day. Occasionally they’ll hit me, quickly and suddenly, and I’ll have to get them down somewhere, somehow immediately or lose them forever. Others drift as remnants, half-formed and vague, until later. Or until never.

But today is just a good day for thinking and writing, I guess. It’s also strange that I’m blogging now because generally by 11:06 pm on any given evening (weekends excepted) I am either sleeping or wishing to God I was sleeping, so hey. This is cool.*

But back to my stream of consciousness at the moment, why don’t we?

I think a lot about perfection.

We all try to be perfect. We all want the 100 on our theory homework or the A in ed psych. Obviously we all want to perfect our skills, especially at Eastman (like, DUH, hello). And there are other ways in which people strive to perfect themselves: religiously/spiritually, physically, emotionally. Still others strive to behave perfectly or respond perfectly in social situations, perfecting their image.

I have tried to perfect myself in all of these ways. Possibly more, I guess. But over the course of the past few years, and especially here, I have put myself at a level with other, more “normal” human beings– and by that, I mean the kids who don’t try as hard, or the kids who aren’t at an advantage socioeconomically, or even the adult working class. I think working at Tim Horton’s all summer and this winter break reinforced my relationship and tie to the everyday average person. And while I refuse to lower my sights or adjust my previously-set goals, it’s humbling and enlightening at the same time to have a glimpse into the real world. It was also a learning experience– an incredibly motivating and meaningful one.

I guess it gave me a glimpse into a life not filled so much with lofty aspirations of a perfect fellowship with Christ and the church, or a toned and physically disciplined body, or straight As.

I mean I’m not going to alter my own goals– I have a shady outline of what I’m here to do, and I plan on filling it in. But there are manners that some adopt that make having goals seem like something pretentious and disgusting. Like, “I’ve got these plans and nothing is going to get in my way.”

It sounds okay, but in my opinion there need to be some priorities. Right? Like, family? Friends? Relationships with people, meaningful interactions with others, your teachers, your peers? What about living life? I don’t mean getting drunk (although hey, sometimes it’s a perk) but enjoying yourself and taking time to reflect on the happiness in your life. Little things, like having a ridiculous discussion with my roommate about Barbie and Ken, or talking to my grandmother about Criminal Minds, or savoring Starbucks because I don’t have it at home– or even staring into the sun and feeling it touch your face because it’s the middle of winter– those things are valuable to me. They are, in a way, much much MUCH more important than behaviors I’ve noticed, such as…

Biblical facebook statuses: I mean I guess people quote meaningful song lyrics and that’s similar, but please, do you really need to shove your faith in everyone’s face? I mean, I can say I love Jesus because, well, I do. But in my opinion and experience, it’s better to show your love for him through your actions. It’s really not how often you talk about your prayers or your youth group or “how you can spread the Woooord.” How about, you just go show it? Loving people without judgment is going to have more of an effect than a club at college where all you do is chat about how to add more people to your club. It feels exclusive. And it feels like bragging, and an exaggerated attempt to make oneself into someone others should seek out or respect.

Physical perfection: I understand that gyms are awesome. I have a membership. But those that get carried away, and do a freakout if they miss half a warmup or a stretch or something stupid? That’s ridiculous. The world is not going to end if you miss Pilates, dude.

Academics are overrated. Isn’t it enough that we kill ourselves to achieve proficiency at our art? The added pressure of grades just screams “give me migraines.” Some overwork themselves to the point where learning the material is secondary and the letter grade is most important. Isn’t the acquisition of knowledge the goal? Not the skill with which one takes tests.

Or, maybe I’m just overthinking this, and it’s the attitude with which one seeks perfection that is the really irksome thing. Maybe I just place too much value on not being an obsessive lunatic. Maybe I have a thing against acting like an overeager or scarily-driven know it all. Hopefully, though, I’m capable of pursuing my own goals with a passion for life and an enthusiasm that’s contagious and considerate, not obnoxious.

But that’s all I know for tonight.

Also, Lucy and I were just having a discussion while I wrote this… for her benefit I’m supposed to mention that Zulu thatchers were hired to thatch the roofs of all the gift shops in Disney World so that they would look legit.

 

* I mean, undoubtably this also has something to do with the fact that, YES I’M GOING HOME TOMORROW.

Alrighty then, bus rides and a linguistics notebook

Sometimes you just need a time to not think. To forget– or at least, not dwell on much– how insignificant or misconstrued your life is or has become. To disregard your acne or your ugly hair or chipping nail polish. As you try to ignore the fading natural light or the uncomfortable chill in the air or the constant miserable lurch and clatter of the bus.

There are times when you need that stillness. But when you take those moments, thoughts leak in seeping like a familiar ooze of blood from an oft-picked scab. Thoughts like, “there are so many problems to solve– how–?” or “what if the bus crashes?” or the recurring “life sucks.” But these viscous thoughts twine and blend in a way that makes it impossible to hold onto any one of them for very long. You pass an interesting building or the cold shifts and slaps your face, or you’re reminded of your undone theory homework and the world continues its spin, dragging (or leading?) your mind along.

Real, and well this is my life right now

So I found this quote on Ivy’s blog and nearly started crying. It’s silly, I know.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing, in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously. I hope you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

-Neil Gaiman, “A New Year’s Benediction”

But it’s just that I think I’m experiencing a period of self-hatred right now. I know that is probably silly, too. There’s all this crap about loving yourself floating around and being shoved down everyone’s throats, and up until recently I believed it. I wasn’t truly deeply happy, although seeing my family always inspires a serious dose of love. Upon reflection I think it’s that I hate myself. I love everyone around me. I love them so much it hurts and would never want to leave them (that’s why going back to Eastman generally just makes me sick). But me?

I feel stupid. I feel undereducated and barely literate. I know of few ways to rectify this and in any case my schedule this coming semester absolutely would not allow it. Those “fine books”? Yeah, right. Because I can read for fun. And if I could, where would I get the books? Rush Rhees? Because I have that much time.

I feel ugly. And I know it’s not what you look like that matters. That’s what I tell myself every day. I tell myself that just because I’ve gained a little weight I am by no means fat. I’m curvier, and that’s supposed to be attractive. Right?
I can’t even fall back on cleaning horse stalls to tone up. It’s winter and the tractor is clogging the barn. My dad cleans them every few days because he uses the tractor and if I tried messing with that whacked-out setup I’d break the barn. And if I make an effort to work out it will be like confirming I’m a mess and need to fix myself. I’m just scared to make a change, and for that I despise the insecure and procrastinating parts of myself that slap and tug, each in opposite directions.

The idea that I will kiss someone wonderful this year is unlikely at the very best. I need to not focus on boys or relationships. Boys terrify me. I hate writing that and I hate that it’s true. I hate that I’m too much of an insecure coward to take steps to get to know anyone like that. I hate that the only boy who would kiss me has two other girls he’s also propositioning and I hate that I would even consider that offer. I won’t take it. I know that he won’t care and we’ll move on and stay friends. Chemistry means nothing, the physicality of it all means nothing unless there’s love. And that’s just not in the game plan. I won’t waste my time when there are so many more important things to be doing.

That looks so dramatic and stupid and I’m sure that three years ago I’d’ve been scolded and told to stop being… oh shit what was it. “Emo?” Yeah, well… That was a long time ago and I know the psychology of my situation then back to front. I’ve put it aside.

But I’ve also thought through my life in terms of the big scheme and if I stumble across someone in the distant future who can value me as more than a good time, more than someone to manipulate, and more than a secret meeting, I’ll maybe reconsider. And to be honest I’m jealous of the normalcy, the innocence of my sister, because she has so many options and the good sense and sharp mind to tell all the jackasses and lost causes I seem to attract to go screw themselves.

So this is one step I can take. One thing I can and will firmly refuse. Without love, I won’t make myself vulnerable to anyone. It’s such a hopelessly romantic statement and looks like I’m a giant loser, but the drain that kind of attempt at loveless commitment can take would cost me too much, in terms of emotion, and time.

Most importantly time.

But I will sing. I will write and I may finger paint. If nothing else I will progress musically to the best of my ability, even if that ability happens to be less than everyone else there.

I keep returning to a thought: that I’ve been told I need confidence.

Well you know what? You get too confident and then life sucks when you find out you’re not even close to as good as you thought you were. You try your damnedest to mix humility with the confidence and hope you shine, hope to God it’s working because you crave to do what you love, and it hurts even more when it’s destroyed. You think you know something and you keep seeking that knowledge and you try and fall flat on your face. I’m in a place right now where if I take those kinds of chances and fall, I may not be able to get back up. Everyone knows everyone and they talk. They talk they talk and I keep thinking I don’t want to go back and spend as much time socializing because sleep is great, but apparently their opinions matter and I don’t quite know why. It’s only three and a half years more.

But these people will be around, connecting in the future, for the rest of my life. What do I do? I don’t know. I don’t know.

What do I want?

I want to dream. Dangerously, outrageously. I want to do, and do something useful to benefit people. I want to serve, I want to help. I want to give of myself to improve the life of someone else. I don’t want to dwell in this place where I’m sad and I’m stuck and miserable because I’m ashamed of myself.

I don’t just want, no– I don’t just want to.

I need to surprise myself.

Brief list of wishing

It’s late. Or early. Pick one.

I wish I was sleeping. But if I sleep, that means I have to get up. That means my mind will have to start to function all over again. So instead of winding through the same putridly stagnant thoughts, like I am right now, I’ll get a new and fresh slam of them in the morning.

I wish I was rested. But if I rest, then I’ll have energy. That means I’ll feel everything as clear and sharp as sleet. So instead of breathing in and taking time, like I should be, I’ll keep skittering along on coffee, strong and black, and hope that I can just hold out until Tuesday night.

I wish I was dull. But if I pretend I’m stupid it might actually happen. That means that the gurgle of pathetic trickling through my system might simply take charge, and that would be horrifying. So instead of falling back on hapless self-pity, like I have before, I’ll press on with a sturdy support of resilient crankiness for a while.

Used to it by now

So, I think I’m just no fun. That’s the clear conclusion. It doesn’t matter, and doesn’t bother me overmuch, but it’s what I believe my problem is. I’m a serious person… usually. And when I’m not, I guess I’ve got a dirty and sarcastic sense of humor that is generally fun-loving and chill, but there’s really only so much I can do to make myself into someone others want to spend time with. And to be honest I don’t believe I should have to do that much to transform myself. I shouldn’t have to change to please those who don’t care.

If I’m not entertaining enough, or sociable enough, or flirtatious/charming/shallow enough? Well, I hate to say this, but I’ve made my peace with that a long time ago. I am who I am. I wouldn’t change it. I thought about it, yesterday for a little while. I could play those games, I could cake on layers of fake and gooey glamor that’d strike a bombshell chord in whoever talked to me. I could wear the right clothes, say the right things, climb a social ladder of sickly sweet smiles and “hey, honeys.” For some people, that works. That’s who they are. I could do it, too. If I chose.

Just the thought of it makes my stomach roll. I don’t think I’d be able to stand it. I’d rather take the no fun and the semi-lonely melancholy that accompanies than adopt a slick glaze of false.

Regarding the password

It’s silly, but I figure once something’s on the internet anyone can see it, so. My last post? I needed to vent out some things. If you’re interested in reading my come-to-Jesus rant to myself, just drop me a line somehow (see “Contact” up at the top of the screen) and give me your name. I’ll be more than happy to send you the password, no questions asked. Have a splendid night (even though, well, I won’t be. lolz.).

* EDIT: Or, this is probably simpler.

email: yellohxylophone@aol.com

Awkward laundry post

So I’m sitting awkwardly in the basement of Eastman right now, waiting for my laundry to dry. I guess this can be a good exercise in seeing whether or not I’m capable of cranking out a halfway decent blog in eleven minutes (approximately).

I think that, overall, laundry time is a bad experience (unless you have someone to do laundry with). I don’t like the wait, and I don’t feel comfortable leaving my clothing unattended. It’s not like I believe someone will take it; but I don’t like to leave things to chance. So I sit down here and wait.

The lonely vending machine in the laundry room...

It’s not as if it’s unproductive. No, I finished all of my homework and now I don’t have anything mandatory to finish except for the Laitz reading, which I can do in about five minutes when I get back to my room. (It’s a big book, I didn’t want to have to lug it down with my bag and my laundry.) But other than that? Successful finish of the work for me today… and the homework for tomorrow and Wednesday? Totally out of the way.

So why is laundry awkward?

It is awkward in that the people who walk in, stare. And don’t speak. And then do their own laundry processes and leave. It’s like, what? Where would I go? Where else do I have to go that’s not the weird little room full of interruptions off from the kitchen, or my dorm?

So I sit here. And wait until my laundry’s done and I can shuffle over to fill my bag, then leave.