Monday, April 7

That time I quit blogging for a month

The fact is, this semester has just plain sucked. I haven't been my best self. I've been self loathing. I've overindulged in my own problems. I've let a crappy professor dictate how I feel about my writing. I've complained and complained and complained without doing anything about it. I stopped blogging because I knew I was just being a turd. I knew I'd dealt with much bigger problems and yet I let dinky ones get in the way of happiness. I don't know what feeling bad for myself for a month means but when it finally all just become silly, I did something about it. And then life became better.

In two weeks, I've gotten a job as a barista, scored an internship for this spring and into next summer, started volunteering at a nursing home, and returned back to hiking and running again. The action of doing something rather than sitting at home in bed with my journal and a sweet boyfriend to complain to made all the difference. 

So, I guess I'm back. I'm back and I miss blogging and I sort of miss my old self. I'm ready to do again. Chalk it up to a winter that never ended, a professor tell me I sucked, a series of migraines and colds that didn't seem to end, stuffing as many credits as possible into a semester so I can study abroad next spring, or immaturity- but a month of doing nothing proved to be the kick in the pants I needed. 

A couple weeks ago, while I was volunteering, I wasn't anxious to make the rounds to the ward of the nursing home of older folks who aren't active or talkative. It's hard to watch people who seem to have given up, but it's harder to watch people who seem to have given up because they've reached the stage of their life where their reasons for living exist only in their past. However, as I made my way down the hallway, one gentleman sat in his wheelchair outside his room. I've met him once and he barely smiled when I introduced himself. I knew his family lived states away and he spent most of his time reading alone. This time, though, I said hi and asked if he wanted to play a board game. 

He looked at me and said, "Girlie, you don't look old enough to ask a man if he wants to play a board game." 

He followed this statement with a wink and then looked me directly in the eye. I stared in shock and then, at the same time, we both started laughing. It was the only reminder I needed. Life is too serious to take so seriously sometimes.

Sunday, March 2

snowed in

When imagining the best present in the entire world, I might first picture something like a mountain of cinnamon rolls, a Mac desktop, the camera of my dreams, coffee by the truckload, love, or the boxed set of Gossip Girl on dvd.What I don't imagine is the impossible gift of time because in Montana, when they say it's going to blizzard, you never allow yourself the indulgence of imagining a SNOW DAY. It doesn't happen. I learned that two days into my first Montana blizzard freshmen year when my roommate and group of friends holed up in our dorm room (throw back Sunday to me four stinkin' years ago). You simply survive through it, in as many layers as you can fit in and over your down jacket.

So when I woke up Friday morning at 6am to a text saying that school was cancelled, I can say without a doubt, it was the best present the world could have provided. After my less than optimistic attitude that lasted so many weeks, a text that explicitly said, "DO NOT GO OUTSIDE!" I took that to mean that I should soak up every single second of free time to stay indoors. 

Heaps of dishes were completed tag team style while listening to the new Lake Street Dive, naps were taken, three movies were watched, pizza was consumed, fuzzy socks were worn, cell phones were ignored completely, snuggling was a necessity, and acknowledgement of a world outside a 2 bedroom apartment were ignored.

It was a stress free happy day that made up for a month of never ending to do lists. 

The blizzard lasted a full 48 hours in which I went outside twice: once to unbury my car and the second to take pictures of the snow for documentation because, really, how many times is this going to happen? The last time a blizzard in Missoula closed the University was in 1996.

I think I might be prepared to conquer the rest of this winter now. It's amazing what two days can do for the head and the soul. 
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Wednesday, February 26

the weight of it allllllllll

Maybe it's the record amounts of snow we are getting (after a record warm January last month) and the sheer amount of crazy happening in all my classes, but I am feeling a little (a lot) stretched thin right now.

I want to do it all. I want to show up to every class having carefully read every single word. I want to be there for every single one of my friends who are enduring loads of emotional drama in their lives (is this the winter of breakups after breakups or what?). I want to volunteer at the nursing home like it's my full time job. I want to read every single one of the 300 submissions to our school's literary magazine that I'm working on this semester. I want to meet my Netflix quota for the week. I want to meet my personal Netflix quota but also hang out with my boyfriend when I'm done with homework. I want to cook healthy meals every day instead of eating crappy food on campus. I want to work harder to book more photography jobs than I am now. I want to work out and be active. I want to babysit on weekends. I want to ski, go snowshoeing, take winter pictures, and thrift. 

I want to do it all. For five weeks, I've tried. I've tried and it's starting to take a toll on the quality and quantity of sleep I get every night. It's starting to take a toll on my happiness and the way I process every emotion, good or bad. It's starting to all become an all consuming never ending to do list I'm always thinking about and taking me away from the present.

And the thing is, my "problems" aren't even really "problems". It's just life and being busy. It's just those pesky extra ten minutes in the morning brushing six inches of snow off my car, losing a couple hours of sleep, and not being able to have as much fun as I'd like that's getting to me. It's just LIFE and I'm sick of waking up feeling stressed every morning. This week I'm trying to wake up with a fresher and happier attitude. It's starting to help and putting in time to go to the gym is also helping. The fact is, I can't do it all and after five weeks, I'm starting to accept I won't be able to execute all of the above perfectly. And that's okay.

My best sometimes is good enough.
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Saturday, February 22

winter is still here

The past month.

Writing, constantly and obsessively. Pages and pages and pages. No fewer than three separate word documents on my screen at one point. Five research essays each week; memoir 15 page increments; and dreaded poetry. I like to think all of this writing is helping me and that I'll grow from it, but most days I just feel like I go to my computer and write to get the required pages out. Most days are starting to blend together to feel like 'eh' writing days.

Snow, predictably inconsistent and exhausting. One morning, it wakes me up gently, coaxing me outside with its elegant fluffy layers, and the next it's all been replaced by swaths of ice and slush. I hate the slush and ice days more than anything. On mornings when my walk to school feels like living in Narnia, I feel light. But those February ice days, man. They're getting to me.

Friends, uplifting and necessary. Pains in the ass some days. Important, always.

Crocheting, because for every moment of chaos and panic, there is always something tangible I can create and hold with my hands when I'm done. That is everything when it feels like everything else is swimming.

Homework in bed when there isn't time to cuddle and watch movies. Reading when I've finished my homework and he hasn't, curled up on my own side facing the window in my room where you can see a hint of the Bitterroots. Back tickles between page turns.

Head and the Heart. John Butler Trio. Lorde. Lake Street Dive.

So, so ready for a new month. February, as I've decided, has been the best of the best and the worst of the worst in terms of everything.

Tuesday, February 11

red velvet was calling my name

Prepare yourself for a post mostly about nothing.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, I have eight glorious hours of classes in a row without a break. There's nothing better than eight hours of class without more than a 10 minute break, all in the exact same building, so that most days I don't even have to smell the fresh Montana air. This morning, my first class was cancelled because my fancy professor is speaking at Stanford. I would be impressed but this is also the same professor who left her students for the safety of her office during the lock down last week, so. She blew it there. With an extra two hours this morning to spare, I decided to go to the grocery store to buy coffee creamer since I've been out for a week instead of buying espresso, and picked up Red Velvet muffins without a second thought because, duh, it's Valentine's week, right? I am happy to report that within six hours of purchasing them, one whole muffin and two muffin tops are gone. 

I decided to do laundry and while in the laundry room, a very attractive man entered and to my surprise, recognized me before I recognized him. How often does a hot guy recognize you from sharing a class together before you realize you know them? Never, if you're me. We chatted and he was every sort of adorable and I tried to peek around him to see if he was a boxers or a brief (forget shoes, this says everything about a man). After he left, I loaded my washer and realized I left my soap at home but Hot Guy From Non-Fiction left his laundry detergent sitting on the washer. Thanks, dude. 

As we get further into the spring semester, I just get happier and happier that I'm not graduating yet. I will be the proudest super senior in school. 

I've turned memoir writing into an excuse to just eat grilled cheese for nearly every meal and I'm okay with my future if that's what being a writer looks like. I mean, chin acne has never been worse and I've never been more motivated to go to the gym as a means of procrastination but all in all, it evens out.

I have plans for Valentine's Day this year and they involve a concert and I'm not even mad about how corny this holiday is going to be.

Sunday, February 9

the most pretentious thing I've ever done

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Wanna hear a joke?

I am writing a memoir. For class. It seems absurdly out of the question to be expected to produce a memoir in a semester's amount of time as an undergraduate creative writing student who is barely twenty one and a half years old but there you have it.

We've started writing them. I spit out four pages, without really thinking or concentrating about what it was going to be "about", which was my creative writing professor's best advice.

"Let the story come to you," he said.

It seemed silly at first. In an obtuse way, it makes sense, to write the story that wants to be told thumbing around in your head, but it's never been how I do things. I always seem to have to form a plan in my head before I write something. I always need to know what direction I'm going in before I start something new. Otherwise, I end up writing 12 pages and it's only around page 11 that I figure out what I'm REALLY writing about.

In my time at the University of Montana, I've learned how to make every single word I write count. I've learned to tell a story in 50 words. I've learned to obsessively nit pick over one word for twenty minutes until I find the right one. I've learned to cut out the 'fluff'. I've also learned how to write without thought, for pages and pages and pages, without editing because my professor believed firmly in the roughness of a 'first draft'. I've learned to get everything on paper before reading something twice. I've learned to write every day.

But this class has a different approach that isn't one method or the other. It's new to me. There is less instruction and fewer guidelines than I've ever used. Even though it took a week and a half, I think I finally am latching on. I'm not producing word vomit until I figure out what I mean but I'm also not reediting the same lines over and over again. I'm, as corny as it sounds, trying to find the words within my own voice to tell whatever story is in my brain that is bursting to get out. I've heard the best writers write stories they are obsessed with and I'm trying to embody this idea that my professor is forcefully shoving down our throats.

I thought this class would be a joke but now I sort of see that if I wasn't forced to do this, I probably wouldn't do it. Ever. 

I'm trying to embrace it. Trying, trying. Come at me, stories of my life. 

Friday, February 7

Taco Bell robberies and Lena Dunham

These past two weeks of school have just been plain funky.

Yesterday, in the course of three hours, my roommate totaled her car and the University of Montana had their first ever 'lockdown'. 

My roommate is fine. Just poor luck and unmarked intersections. 

The entire lockdown was live tweeted and our school ended up being a trending topic on twitter for a hot hour or so. I don't think I've ever been so entertained in my life. I should clarify, no shots were ever fired, and the whole thing transpired because an armed robber decided to wake up in the -20 degree weather yesterday and rob Taco Bell. He then fled through campus which is why for two and a half hours, I was locked inside of my classroom without a professor because she realized our classroom was much less safe than her office. We watched Mulan instead of learning about gender roles in Sons and Lovers and those with iPhone chargers busted them out. People out of state were looking at us like, "Seriously? One armed robbery and the whole city goes on lockdown? At Taco Bell?" Pretty much. I should also add that students were so hungry as they starved in their respective classrooms that Jimmy Johns was called dozens of times and the police had to issue a statement saying that no food could be/would be delivered to campus. After we were released, Jimmy Johns gave everyone free sandwiches anyways because they felt bad for us. This is Missoula in a nutshell, folks. Thankfully, no one was hurt or injured.

Otherwise, I am writing a memoir for class. We are being forced to and in no other circumstance would I dare venturing to write my life memoir at 21 years old. More on that another day.

I also became addicted to Girls this week. Two seasons in as many days addicted. Lena Dunham, however, makes me reaffirm my belief that trying to be a writer is a great thing. Can I be her, with floral dresses, cute weird boyfriends, and an armor of confidence in three years?

Tonight I'm attending my second poetry reading of the week which is something I never expected to say, even seeing as I'm an English major. Guys. I don't do poetry. I know that's a terrible thing to say, but I seriously don't get or like poetry. I'm trying. I'm openminded about the idea of liking some poetry. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I also had a lot of 'friend' time this week. Last week was 'alone' time, and this week has been 'friend' time. The thing about dating music majors is that they have things like dress rehearsals and concerts almost constantly and when they don't have concerts to prepare for, they have pep band and marching band ect. It's almost weird to be the less busy one in a relationship? Friend time, however, is good time. I keep forgetting that even though I'm not graduating, a solid 75% of the people I love that make Missoula so great will be gone in a couple months. 

Happy weekend-ing!