Monday, December 30

2013: the year of answers

How horribly cliche is the title of this post?

2013 was undeniably the best year of my life. It was reminiscent of 2010, when I felt like I was passionate about the path my life was following and figured out how to cut my bangs to fit my pumpkin shaped head. Which of course means that I will probably hit another identity crisis this time with a college degree under my belt but at the moment, 2013 was the year I think I figured myself out again. I made big choices. I learned to appreciate the present. I felt at peace with myself and what I was doing again. I found my place with my friends. I achieved goals that I didn't think in a million years last January I would possibly stand a chance of doing. 2012 was simply a bad year. 2013 allowed me to start over and reground myself as I changed my major, lived in a city alone for a summer, and gained back a confidence in my future I have never experienced in college so far.

The fact that so much can change in a year is terrifying. Who knows what it will look like next year? But the fact that so many things can change, if you want them to, is also sort of amazing. It's inspiring. To think that with courage and the ability to assess your life to make what changes you know you need to make to be happy even if it is 180 degrees opposite of where things are going now you can change your own fate is a liberating and reassuring thing.

Mostly what that meant was choosing a major that allows me to do all my homework in the bathtub with a glass of wine and live in a city as an unpaid intern, but you know, those are still life changing things. I'm gonna be a poor writer and get by with wine and no matter what, I will be way happier doing that than reading Biology textbooks.

Instead of doing a month by month overview like usual, I'm just going to make a list of highlights. Because, well, that really does take forever. And maybe I'll regret changing it up this year, but I also have a sister to hang out with beside me and I just want to go hang out with her as soon as possible.

highlights of 2013!!!!!!!
  • I went on a day trip to the mountains with my mom, dad, and grandma where I learned to catch a fish and appreciate being completely isolated from civilization as a kid. It was a memorable and emotional trip together in the middle of winter and I did, in fact, wear jeans hiking through two feet of snow. Oops.
  • I got to meet Abbi, the sweetest and most genuine person I've ever met who I first met on the internet. Now she is ENGAGED to the love of her life and it inspires me every day.
  • I started to find the way to my own happiness.
  • I conquered commuter life in Seattle as an adult with a full time job and felt EMPOWERED by my own abilities. It was sweeeeet. 
  • I met Josh Ritter in Missoula while I was randomly walking around downtown Missoula. Stupidly, I didn't ask for a picture during our three minute conversation when I totally could have. But awesomely enough, he REMEMBERED me from past times I've met him and from the tweet I sent him the night before. I also got to attend the show front row with my mom who came all the way from Idaho. It was the best weekend of my spring semester.
  • My Missoula family became my roommate of three years and the cat we shared together in the most boring brand new apartment I will ever live in. But it was a fantastic year nonetheless.
  • I planned an inaugural event for 250+ people. I organized the volunteers. I made hundreds of phone calls to potential donors and begged for their generous donations. I wore heels for an entire day and night. I attended the event on a yacht. I felt AWESOME. I drove around Seattle by myself for the first time and rode the ferry back after the longest most stressful day of my life at 10pm. I found my way to a hamburger place I'd only been to once and stumbled upon Kerry Park where I ate a grilled cheese. It was one of those nights I'll never forget.
  • I went on the worst date of my life with the worst hipster of my life. For those who still ask what happened, we did not end up dating. It was the THIRD scenario. And stupidly I ended up going out with him again this fall where he left me while I went to the bathroom on our date. The next night I met the boy I'd realize I was met to go on a few bad dates with so I could appreciate what the best date of my life felt like.
  • When I realized that at some point, Seattle just became another place to me. Full of beautiful and perfect things, but at the end of the day, it didn't have the people I loved. It was a hard lesson as I cried on the steps I walked past every day after remembering where I sort of grew up a little in the city. 
  • I went to the East Coast for the first time to visit my star sister who goes to school in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was the experience of a lifetime to see Monticello and experience some history of our country. 
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  • I turned 21 and it was the best birthday I've ever had. Can every day be your 21st? On second hand, maybe that's a really poor idea. But it was fun nonetheless to dance with cowboys, get free coffee at Starbucks, run my own meeting at work, eat with all of my intern friends at Pikes, and drink legally.
  • The three sets of sisters were in the same place for the first time and it was the best celebration of the coolest friendship ever made.
  • I went to Hawaii for spring break with my roommate because her aunt and uncle have a house there and we did nothing but explore jungles, the ocean, and beaches without running into a single tourist for a week.  
  • I met Dillon in March for the first time IRL and then got to hang out with him over the summer in Seattle.
  • I declared my Idaho roots once and for all. 
  • I developed a girl crush on someone who hooked up with my ex and it was super awesome. 
  • An enraged Panamian broke my glasses at a Mens' USA National soccer game.
  • I wrote a letter to my 18 year old self.
  • I went to a One Direction concert and Sydney came to visit me in Seattle all in the same week. 
  • I realized, even after the best first date of my life and then best second date of my life ever the very next night followed by two weeks of effortless laughter and conversation, I was over-thinking the start of the best relationship I've ever had because I was scared to be vulnerable again. It's easy to close yourself off. It's harder to be open.
  • I met fantastic friends in my English classes and learned how to accept compliments and believe in myself a little more.
Thanks, 2013. This year ROCKED.
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Monday, December 16

wordless

I think I lost my voice somewhere between the Lochsa and Lolo. Maybe I lost it when I fell on a tree stump and got a sick bruise. Or maybe I lost it when we reached the hot springs a mile upriver from the highway and we had the whole pool to ourselves for the evening. Maybe I lost my voice when it started to snow, lightly, and fog seeped in through the trees and blended with the steam. Maybe I lost it when I realized I only have one winter left in Missoula after this one and part of me wishes I could take Montana winters with me everywhere I go. Or maybe I lost it between the Cheetos puffs and Peppermint Hershey's Hugs.

Maybe I lost it when I almost fell backwards into the river trying to put my yoga pants on but had an arm there to catch me, literally.

Maybe I lost it when I knew at that moment what everything had started to mean.
DSC_0510 DSC_0546 To this past weekend, you were the prettiest I've ever felt.

Thursday, December 12

JGL needed

Two cinnamon rolls, five finals, two portfolios, one "I just want my sister to be home and hang out around the Christmas tree with her already" emotional breakdown, an average of three cups of tea and coffee per day, one call per day to each parent, zero glasses of wine, two broken car batteries, one 24-hour clinic visit, five separate sheets of paper written on for one in class final, two bags of candy, and countless number of grilled cheeses made.

FINALS. Over.

Somehow, every time finals are over I can't help but think how anti-climatic the ending is.

Where is Joseph Gordon-Levitt with some Hall & Oates when you need him right?

The limp across campus to the car half dead after your last final just doesn't really do it justice. Not even a fist pump could be had.

Strangely, though, as I logged onto my computer just now after sleeping for a delightful three hours after my last 8am final, the thing that made me smile and text my mother in all caps was exiting out of every single tab on my browser related to Ecology and T.S. Elliot. There were a lot of tabs.

With only Facebook and Blogger up on my computer I say, see ya later Fall Semester 2013.


Tuesday, December 10

so long, sweet semester

This has been my favorite semester.

This has been the first semester that I was officially a 100% registered English major according to the University of Montana. 

This has been the semester I quit worrying about what other people were doing and just did my own thing.

This has been the semester that I was technically "unemployed" but made it work like a boss by going home once a month to take pictures.

This has been the semester I missed my biology friends, but was happy to have most of them in my ecology class. As well as having my two best friends from freshmen year in it. Happy, happy reunion three days a week.

This has been the semester I read Thoreau and Chopin, said things like, "I can't possibly go out tonight, I have two papers due this week!", did most of my homework in the bathtub or in bed, and only had one class three days a week because the literature classes here really like Tuesdays and Thursdays.

This has been the semester that I felt truly and finally just my age. I was just a 21 year old college student, free of any other responsibilities except to go to class and get good grades.

This has been the semester I think I finally felt capable. No other semester in my life have I ever felt good at what I've done or like my best was enough. 

This has been the semester that I wrote almost constantly, and fell in love with the craft of it. 

This has been the semester I realized the right boy won't wait to text you back, won't make you wonder whether he likes you, won't make you text 10 page long messages to your friends deciphering his every move, and won't wonder himself whether he wants to be with you.

This has been the semester I built up the courage to flag down the first girl I saw on the first day of class wearing a floral print maxi skirt and square glasses to force to be my study buddy. As it turned out, we had three classes together and are now best friends. 

This has been the semester I spent my every weekend night with friends and forgot about homework on the weekends. 

This has been the semester I got a drink at the bar next-door to the coffee shop immediately after finishing homework.

This has been the semester I realized you have to explore and get out of your comfort zone if you ever want your life to change. Last semester, I was lonely and spent most nights inside and while I enjoyed it half the time, part of me wondered most of the time what it would be like if I changed that. Last semester, I expected life would change in time. It didn't. It changed when I made it change.

This has been the semester I felt like Missoula was the place I was meant to be in and the place for me.

This has been the semester I laughed every single day.

This has been the semester I talked to my professors and even became bus riding/coffee ordering buddies with them. And realized being pals with your professors is a GREAT thing indeed. Especially when it comes to studying for a final the night before you take it and getting email replies at 10pm answering your questions graciously. 

This has been the semester I trusted a good thing when I saw it in front of me.

This has been the semester I quit caring about eyeliner and started throwing on a hat instead of curling my hair. I always knew I could go to school in sweats sans makeup, but I never really knew I could feel so comfortable doing it.

This has been the semester I learned to stop worrying about the small trivial things and appreciate the bigger picture of things: I am happy, my family is healthy, I have great friends, and I am on the right path.

This has been the semester that I didn't just become the best version of myself, but I figured out the best version of myself was already there. It just needed a little perspective and a little bit of courage.

Friday, December 6

let me tell you the truth about -20 degrees

Okay, so maybe it's only -3 currently. But with the gusts of wind, the news is telling me that it is currently -24 with windchill.

-24 degrees. Twenty degrees below zero.

For those of you who have never experienced such disgusting subzero Arctic temperatures and might have an inkling that Montana is a dreamy paradise you'd like to visit, let me tell it to you straight.

-24 degrees means that the moment you step outside with damp hair, your hair suddenly becomes crunchier than fall leaves. Speaking of crunchy, -24 degrees also means that while you're walking outside, after about five minutes you suddenly scrunch your nose and wonder why you have so many crusties all up in your nostrils. I know this is gross, but this is a true record here. My boogers quite seriously froze in my nose.

And yet, somehow, snot still ran down my lip which was quite a weird experience. Frozen boogies while my nose also acts as a human faucet? I don't know, man.

-24 degrees means spending fifteen minutes scraping the inside of the windshield. It means requiring minutes to let your engine run. It means everyone starts to think that $2 suddenly becomes a very small price to pay in hourly parking on campus in hourly parking if it means not having to walk 3 blocks.

-24 degrees means every exposed piece of skin WILL hurt by the time you get to your destination. Even if you only walk five steps outside.

-24 degrees means that every little thing suddenly becomes so much work. Putting on shoes, tying shoe laces, unzipping your pants before changing into sweats, unlocking doors, wearing glasses- everything.

Oh yeah, -24 degrees also means needing to finger scrape ice off of your glasses after your condensation freezes to them.

Montana! I have nothing more to say to you right now.

Except that I just bought Head and the Heart tickets for a show in Seattle in February. Reuniting with my favorite city to see my favorite band with some of my best friends in the world? I'm pinching myself, both to check that I still have feeling where my limbs are freezing and because I can't believe I"m finally seeing my favorite band in the world live.

Wednesday, December 4

a pointless post because my new lens came

It makes me feel better that probably everyone in school right now is having a near emotional meltdown right about now, right? It certainly feels like we're all in the chocolate-overeating and hair-falling-out-in-the-shower stage of the semester.

For some reason I seem to think I can get through finals this semester without having a single emotional breakdown in the shower like I seem to every semester. Fortunately, I think I might be able to just do that this year thanks to a thing called being of age and having a bottle of wine sitting on my desk.

Anyways, I'm in a procrastinating mood and I recently just bought ("invested in") a new camera and lens for the weddings I'm doing next summer after going to every electronics store in Missoula to feel my dream camera in my hands. Mmmm. I ordered it online over Black Friday in addition to a lens that will be compatible with it since my old one won't be, and while the new camera hasn't arrived, my lens did! I just couldn't not mess around with the beauty of a f1.4 depth of field for two minutes.

So, for lack of better things to talk about or show you, this is the state of my life during dead week shown through just a couple pictures.
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Lack of a bookcase // lack of ever trying more than twice to find a bookcase at Good Will // books make great windowsill decoration
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All I can say is: day naps. DAY. NAPS. Hence, why I don't make my bed in the morning and just do so before I go to bed. There is no point.
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I could pretend I'm really embarrassed about the books I have on my windowsill instead of with the others stuffed in the back of my closet in boxes, but let's just look at the first two. Not embarrassed. It's almost like I planted them there. I couldn't have made up something that funny first without it being accidentally. DSC_0160
This is my life in one picture as an English major. Papers on papers on papers. So many papers. Never have I have used so much paper in my life. 
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Sometimes, I'm cleaning my room and I just need to stare at my favorite things in my closet for a wile. Motivation, you know? 

Saturday, November 30

ready for December

Tomorrow is December.

December is one of my months. I have special relationships with the months of May, October, and December. They are my jam. Or something. And whenever we get to December, I can't help but start to feel a bit nostalgic that my favorite month of all is here and it's going to be over before I know it. Usually that makes me a little sad; like another year has come and passed by again before I realized it had even arrived. Sometimes I get sad before things even begin because I'm not ready for them to feel over.

This year feels a little different.

No, it's not the end of the year yet. But the fact that Thanksgiving is now over and winter break is just two weeks away, I'm already in the "winter" mindset. There's snow on the mountain tops of Missoula surrounding the valley and this year, it feels like winter should be here. It actually feels time for a new season. It feels like I experienced every season this year completely and as much as I could. I lived in the present and didn't let the days pass me by too quickly so I enjoyed the heck out of every day of every season as much as possible. This year feels so complete. Like I can kick back this month and enjoy it before time restarts.

How great of a feeling is that to be able to say going into the end of the year? To not feel rushed or thrown into it, but rather relaxed and happy to come full circle to what was maybe one of the best and most rewarding years of my life?

How great does it feel to feel capable of embracing next year as a new year and not needing to look at it as a fresh start, but as another opportunity for even more things to find and conquer?

I feel armed and ready with what I've gained this year and ready for the next.

I ended November with one of my favorite people in this world who is one of those parts of this year that was simply magical. DEBOOBRAH, this year wouldn't have been half of what it was without you.

Afterlight

Thursday, November 28

Happy Thanksgiving!

There's nothing like a solid Thanksgiving spent with my mom watching episode after episode of Parenthood, introducing my dad to The Hunger Games ("Oh, wait, Jennifer Lawrence is in this movie!?"), skyping my sister who is across the country spending her Thanksgiving in Virginia with our neighbor who is also across the country for school, and realizing a project worth 15% of my grade is due on Monday.

Solid. SOLID. 

This year has given me so many things to be thankful for. I can't believe all the things that have happened this year for my family and I. Between my sister's college dream come true, my parents' good fortune in having a mostly stress year for the first year in too long, and the summer of a lifetime for me spent in Seattle. 

Good things happen in time. I like to think we are all out of this slump we've been through and never before have I felt so thankful for the small things. We may not all be together this year, but we are all happy. We are all healthy. We have each other. Bad things happen and this year has shown me more than any other year that it's important to be appreciative of the good because it's not always so easy to push past the tough things to notice the small good details. When it's this easy to see the glory in just sitting in bed with both my parents sipping coffee, the happiness in it is so easily magnified when there's nothing bad to worry about. It's important to cherish this. 

Now is a gift.

Tuesday, November 26

you're allergic to coconut...?

I was sitting on his striped battered couch the other day with his massive owl printed blanket over my shoulders when he asked me, "Maggie, have you ever had a Somoa?"

"Like... the Girl Scout cookie?" I said. I tilted my head to the side and sighed.

"YES!" he said.

"Can't eat them. I'm allergic to coconut," I said. His eyes widened like it was the absolute end of the world that I have never and can never have the cookie that suddenly appeared to me was some cookie sent from heaven to him, but alas, it was the truth. He shook his head and professed how tragic that was before saying how weird of a thing that was to find out about me.

A couple days later, I figured out that he was so bad at sports in Junior High that when he didn't make the 8th grade team, he was put on the 7th grade team for the season. I laughed until I felt guilty, which took all of two minutes.

This is the strange thing about dating someone without having been friends first. This relationship snuck up on me so quickly that there were only about three weeks that we were hanging out before it moved into 'more than friends' territory. It made me nervous. I didn't know what skeletons were hidden in his closet and he didn't know that while I am overflowing with an obnoxious amount of energy in the middle of the day, in the morning it takes me three cups of coffee to wake up. I am not the Maggie everyone loves in the morning. I am CRANKY and I am messy. I didn't know what his past looked like. I only had what I knew at the present and it terrified me to sort of go into it not knowing what I'd learn about him or the things he would find out about me.

But, a couple months later, I think I can safely say that I sort of love how I get to add layers and more layers to what I know. I love getting to know someone in such a pure sense. I love that it's innate and sort of raw. It feels genuine because of the curiosity it takes to learn new things about each other. I love getting to know someone as I date them. I love the way little details are learned about the other, like the way his arms are so ticklish and that when he's in a bad mood, he simply grunts occasionally. It's nearly impossible to diagnose his crankiness any other way and it took me forever to realize his grunts meant something was on his mind. I like that he doesn't know my secrets and it's up to me as to when I disclose the things about myself I'm not proud of instead of them already being known. I like that we can navigate those waters together. I like that some things are a mystery and that he has no idea that I blog. I like that I can create my own picture of who he is for myself without anyone's opinions getting in the way of that.

This is fun.

Sunday, November 24

recently-ish

Recently I've spent my Friday afternoons at the Humane Society holding kittens and chasing puppies outside wishing I wasn't a college student in a teensy apartment who could adopt one. I've pretty much given up on trying to eat 'healthy' and commit to a working out schedule. If it happens, great! If it doesn't, eh. There's always Christmas break to get myself back on track, right? I've been to two jazz concerts and I might be discovering an inner jazz enthusiast somewhere inside of me. I've edited a lot of pictures of other people in love doing cute things.

I've spent hours deciding what camera I'm going to 'invest' in for the weddings I'm shooting next summer. I've also decided using the word 'invest' is sort of silly and I hate when I read the word on Instagram or blogs because it always reads like a person is trying to validate themselves for buying whatever they're indulging in. I feel exactly that way when I say that I'm investing in a crazy expensive camera body over Black Friday and when I say that I invested a pair of genuine leather boots after I nearly bought a third pair of Target ones in that many months. But, truly, I expect I'll be wearing these puppies until I'm 35. And just one wedding will return the price of my camera so, #yolo and stuff.

I've spent afternoons writing. Really writing. 18 page essays galore. And I've been proud of my work.

I've spent more time out of my apartment than in it.

I've spent almost no time taking pictures with my SLR and my life this semester exists in my iPhone photostream. I've realized I'm really okay with this. Life behind the lens can be wonderful and make me slow down to see the details of a moment, but it can also lead to forgetting the big picture of things. Lately I've been really happy in front of the camera in the moment, remembering these vivid details of happiness while they're here. 

Wednesday, November 20

Who gave me a gun...?

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In retrospect, didn't we all know this was coming?

Can you live in Montana and like, not shoot a gun at some point? I can't lie and say I wasn't excited about the idea. I was very excited. Albeit, I screamed every time I pulled the trigger and squeezed my eyes shut at the same time. I definitely only hit one target one time that was four feet in front of me. And I can't say I went with people who I had met before and knew anything about.

... But we lived to tell the tale?

And if you're going to shoot a gun with anyone you don't know, chances are if those people are from Montana, your chances of survival should be pretty high considering the ratio of guns to people in this state?

These are things I'm telling myself to sleep at night. But seriously, I held a gun. I shot a gun. I wore a Carhart and my Uggs.

In retrospect, no one should have let this happen.

Monday, November 18

A Sunday Tale at Jazz Martini Night

It's Sunday night and it's not like I went to the football game the day before and indulged in a bit of tail-gating or anything.

But in Missoula, a thing called Jazz Martini Night* happens every Sunday evening and it's about as classy of an opportunity for college students to add some sophistication to their weekend without dropping $30 on two drinks at John Mayer's favorite bar in Montana. And there's nothing better, if you ask me, than an adult chocolate shake after completing an entire ecology "semester long" project in just an afternoon. Some things just have to happen and showering for the first time all weekend, putting on a dress, and listening to jazz is sort of the best way to let the weekend simmer down a little more slowly than breezing through three episodes of Pretty Little Liars. 

Walk into the bar. Get ten feet before I spot the Bouncer who is nodding off on a stool and he leaps out of his chair to chase me down.

"ID, gimme your ID," he says, grunting. It's already in my hands. I've just learned by now that my chances of not looking like a sixteen year old with a fake are nonexistent. I hand it to him. He looks at me, wondering I'm sure what sixteen year old is allowed out on a Sunday night and who my parents are, but lets me pass with an eyebrow raise. Nothing unusual.**

Find our friend who is waiting for us. Be introduced to a gal I sort of think I know because I'm pretty sure someone told me my ex hooked up with her and stuff. She's really awesome and watches Supernatural and seems to genuinely enjoy my excitement over the One Direction album leaking on Tumblr. Bond over other girl things and I remember that her article in the school newspaper this week was about wanting to have more friends that are girls and how hard it is to impress other girls when you want to be friends with them. Think to myself, I'm down with being this girl's friend and maybe we can talk about how uncomfortable my ex's stubble was. Maybe. I'm now not on a double date with my boyfriend, she is my date and how on Earth do I impress this girl enough to be friends by the end of the night?

Slurp on chocolate shake. It's so good I want to stop at the Liquor store on the way home to buy a bottle of this Godiva chocolate stuff, just to top off my Sunday night right. Girl gets up and also orders a chocolate thing. When she comes back, she mentions Seattle and how she's from there and I die inside and she becomes not just girl, but Girl Crush.

Boyfriend ordered some sort of concoction that has garlic flavored vodka in it. Reaffirms that I am no longer on a date with him but with Girl Crush.

Suddenly, turn around at the sound of... a child crying? Sure enough, it's like Baby's Day Out if they included a bar scene. A baby in a fluffy Patagonia onsie snow suit is sauntering around the bar. Two seconds later and a lady at the bar looks under the counter to see him missing and springs after him. Baby. At. A. Bar. Is this an "only in Montana" thing?

Be introduced to boyfriend's jazz playing friend. "Oh, you're THE Maggie. You're famous in the music building."

After a half hour, Girl Crush says she has to leave. She gets up to shake the hands of the dudes and when she gets to me, she hugs me. Facebook Friend request sent the next day. Success.

*dating someone who is a music major is awesome because you discover things like Jazz Martini Night because he knows the people in it and sometimes performs in similar things that happen around Missoula. 

**I really did get ID'ed to go to an R-rated movie last week, so I seriously do look 16 to people. 

Tuesday, November 12

guilt

Is it so bad that I sort of have come to the conclusion that I never want to live anywhere else except Missoula for fear of letting anyone else change the oil and vacuum the floor of my Subaru than the pair of sexy brothers who are Subaru experts and own their own auto-repair shop across the street from my favorite pizza place and ice cream place in Missoula? Their attractiveness and proximity to my two favorite foods has nothing to do with it, of course. It's entirely due to their steady hands when dealing with my car *cough cough*.

Is it so bad that I curled my hair this morning and less than two hours later, I was twisting my hair up into a bun in the middle of class because I just couldn't with my hair today?

Is it so bad that I am so hopelessly smitten with my creative writing professor that I'm working on our school's literary magazine next semester that he runs so I can devote my every Monday night to receiving every helpful word of advice he has to offer? And stare into his eyes through his 1960's retro glasses despite him being old enough to be my dad's dad?

Is it so bad that I finished a bowl of captain crunch as an after dinner snack and am heading out the door for a bar of chocolate?

Is it so bad that I haven't done any real homework in three weekends? (Yes, yes this one actually IS bad as I discovered when planning out everything I need to do in the three weeks of the semester that are left.)


Monday, November 11

blue skies have arrived

A full day spent in my bed watching TV. All. Day. Long. At least eight hours of television/movie watching in one sitting. Mulan, American Horror Story, and America's Next Top Model. 

Captain Crunch for breakfast, an appetizer before dinner, and dessert. Grilled cheese. 

Coffee at three in the morning. Russian Rummy, speed, and hearts. A bottle of wine for one. Leather jackets and beanies. Crocheting hats in front of the TV. A group of the best friends sitting spread eagle on my living room floor. Cards against humanity. Driving home at two in the morning. The Conjuring. 

"I like you a lot. And I like making out with you a lot."

Crashing a 20-monthaversary dinner with iHop cheesecake pancakes, finishing two whole pots of coffee between two people, a Target excursion that included picking out a cardigan for someone else's boyfriend, and a girl movie date to About Time. Actual tears. Ginger love. Babies. Ben Folds. 

Finishing an entire book in one evening, Me Before You. So, so good.

Waking up alone in an empty apartment with sun seeping through the blinds. A 30 minute call from Dad. 

A run on the mountain through breaking fog escaping the valley. Dance running to Lorde down the trail. Remembering Norah and the Whale. Realizing the blue skies have arrived. 

Sunday, November 10

"realizing I deserved better changed everything"

New relationships.

It's like my friend Debbie said, "I've been in three Facebook official relationships in my life. After each one, I've thought to myself NEVER AGAIN."

And then, you know, it's been a few weeks and and you find yourself doing the thing you swore you wouldn't do it again unless you thought really hard about it and reached the point where you expected at least a 6 month long expiration date into the future at minimum. Because isn't it the most embarrassing feeling in the world to change your status back to single and slam your computer screen down only to receive three texts in the next hour about it? Once everyone KNOWS, there's no going back.

But but but.

Here it goes. Square one. Public and fearless and armed with a don't-even-care who knows attitude. If my life were a TV series, I would be Seth Cohen standing on a coffee cart declaring my affection wanting everyone to know that I'm in this. Did I just say that? I'm in this. I've gotten really good at listening to my gut. It doesn't mean I always follow through with what it tells me to do and it doesn't mean I always back out before I get myself into corner, but when I do, I'm usually right. I was scared, I was scared, I was scared. But I was right. I was right about it being good and I was wrong when I thought I knew what being treated right felt like. Maybe that's sort of the best part about starting over with someone new- you forget about all the rules and things you told yourself you would do next time. The type of guy you are attracted to may have evolved into a floppy haired music major who in your first week of dating received calls from his mom twice when you were together and texted you THE DAY AFTER you hung out the first time, but when it comes to the rest you forget about the risks and bad parts of old relationships. You swore you'd never blog about a relationship EVER again, and there you have it. Facebook Official and blogged about in the same week. It's NEW, baby, and it sparkles like a firework. Or something dumb like that.

Also, as if I needed better proof than my gut instinct was possible of curating a happy bubble that can't be burst, I'm a lot closer to my TV series dream life than I even realized before I started dating my sort of real life Seth Cohen. And this morning I was notified that our celebrity couple name has two impeccably beautiful options: Saggie or Meth.

Saggie. Meth. 

That says it ALL. 

Wednesday, November 6

first snow

On my to do list for the night is to fit in a shower. Laura, are you reading this? Are you proud?

It's one of those weeks, I guess. Not that I'm complaining. It's just one of those weeks where naps are taking precedence over showers and breakfast is a muffin and protein bar in class.

Still. Not. Complaining.

Thankfully Avril released her new album and it is head bangin' and everything I could have wanted from my main girl. (I called my dad this morning to ask if he'd downloaded it yet. His response, "No, because I don't know how to put it on my music player since you still haven't taught me." Noted.) It's almost good enough to make me forget she married someone from Nickleback, which is coincidentally my dad's other favorite musician.

I also finished editing 900 photos from the wedding I did in late September and I definitely feel like that justifies a glass of wine before dinner. But wait, there's still a test to study for, a discussion question to post with 75 pages of reading I have yet to do, and three workshop critiques to finish before 11pm.

I really have nothing meaningful or even interesting to say about my day or my life this evening. But the way I figure it, not every blog post should mean something. Sometimes it's okay to say that today I haven't showered because there was two inches of snow on the ground when I woke up and I decided to stay in bed an extra fifteen minutes.
Afterlight
Decisions like those sometimes mean the difference between a day feeling like all you did was run around doing a million things and feeling like though you had a busy day, the stress of it doesn't feel so tangible because you got an extra fifteen minutes to prepare for it all.

Monday, November 4

October and I aren't done honeymooning yet

No one knows how to welcome November like Montana.

Sunny 60 degree sun one afternoon with blue skies, and just two days later scarves are triple looped around necks and hats are yanked to eyelash level. A single windstorm overnight blows every orange and yellow leaf off of every tree so you're forced to walk through foot high piles on sidewalks covered in a crackling layer of frost and a snow dusting.

It's enough to make a person miss October, just four days after it's over.

But, but- dearest November! Try as you might, this October was too good. I woke up thinking this morning that, well, here we have it. Winter is here. But then I considered the fact that although it might look a bit different, those October vibes hadn't left my soul quite yet. You can take the October out of the November, but you can't take the October out of the girl who didn't just smile for a month straight all for nothing. 

Dear October,

Thank you for your pumpkin spice lattes. I'll never really be above the PSL's. I may have worn my Ugg sweater boots a couple times while sipping on them, too, so there. You did this to me and I'm not ashamed. Thank you for showing me something even BETTER than the PSL- the pumpkin chai. 

Thank you for a month of leaves that I swear lasted longer than they ever have before. Thank you for morning walks to campus that made me late to class by five minutes every single day because I walked extra slow through the University District admiring square houses with brick eaves and cobblestone walkways. 

Thank you for bestowing the Target buyers with the genius of stocking their shelves with all of the best hats in the world this season. The ones I picked out gave me a valid excuse not to brush my hair in the morning and you know, like my dad always swore, my head stayed extra warm.

Thank you for the best creative writing non-fiction workshop that ever existed and people in it that I sort of want to know forever. It made this month extra full of fat genuine laughter. 

Thank you for all of your good music this month. Head and the Heart, most noticeably. But also Wrecking Ball. That gem will live down in 2013 history.

Thank you for giving me my October back. My faith in our relationship has been increasingly rocky for a couple years now.

Thank you for reminding me it's okay to live on the idealistic side sometimes, if only for a moment. It's okay to love those simple dumb things. It's okay to be obsessed with the leaves and the lattes and the hop in your step because it's all sort of fleeting. It's okay to stop and be obsessed with the present for a moment even if it means self-knowingly living in a fog. Nothing is guaranteed, it's good to enjoy something in the moment while it's there. What better time is there to do just that than the prettiest season of the year?

October, it may be November, but I think we can keep honeymoon-ing for as long as it sticks- until I decide not to forget about how much I hate scraping my car windows in the morning and not being able to see behind foggy glasses for a while. October and I are still honeymoon-ing.
Afterlight
Afterlight

Saturday, November 2

over thinking is BAD, I repeat, it's BAD.

Here's where I admit that I haven't logged into blogger or even read a single blog since Wednesday.

Here's where I admit that I have actually been seeing a boy for a couple months and while you probably figured that part out, I left out the part about seeing him nearly every day and sort of temporarily putting all of my hobbies on hold. I guess I'm that girl. And I'm fine with it? At first I was uncomfortable by the incessant need I felt to hang out with him so frequently because I told myself at the beginning I would "twice a week, at most". But after talking to a few friends and rethinking the whole thing I decided I didn't care. I decided to roll with it. I decided to hang out with him every night that I wanted to, even if it meant an episode of New Girl at 11:30pm when I was done with homework. I decided that every reason I had to sort of shy away from spending so much time with someone was related to my own issues and insecurities. Giving too much of myself and my time again so freely is scary. It's scary when in the past caring about someone too much came back to bite me hard. Caring about someone more than they cared about me is not an experience I want to relive. But that's sort of what this whole silly dating thing is about, right? Giving it another go, over and over again until it's "right" in the end?

But whatever this is going to be or what it will be is not what I'm concerned about, and that's truly the most exciting feeling for another person I've felt in the long time I've spent single. Being relaxed about the future, not over thinking anything, and not constantly wondering whether "he likes me back" - those feel like adult feelings. They feel like progress. They feel like a natural and mature beginning to something. Hanging out with someone because I can talk to them until 5am, and that's not an exaggeration, feels easy and like it speaks for itself. I feel comfortable with the relationship but even better, I feel comfortable with myself in it. No matter where it'll go or how long it'll last, I am happy with the beginning of everything and that says more about how much I've grown in the past couple years than anything. I don't need to hang out with him every day, I just want to. That difference means everything. 

Wednesday, October 30

Monticello, Virginia, and Sophie

Last spring, I got a phone call from my sister. I knew already that she was supposed to find out whether or not she got into the hardest school she applied to, but what I didn't expect was a phone call from her as she logged into her account online to see if she got in. I squeezed my eyes shut and bit the inside of my cheek until it bled. I was completely nervous and went over in my head what I was going to say that would be encouraging if she didn't get in. Sophie, you're wonderful and everything happens for a reason? It's UVA's loss, not yours? You did everything you could? Those sort of things. I waited impatiently as I heard her type in her user name and password in silence.

More silence.

"Sophie?" I asked.

And finally, I heard laughter. A sort of surprised kind of laughter that came in short breaths like she was figuring out for herself how she was feeling. I wasn't sure if she was experiencing the laughter you feel when you get bad news leading to hysteric tears or if it was a happy astonished sort of laughter.

"Sophie!? Did you get in?!" 

I swear, it was one of the longest moments of my life. And then she said the six words I'll never forget that in my 19 years of being an older sister to her exemplified everything I knew about her in one question.

"Why would they let me in?!"

It wasn't fake and it was completely genuine. She said it through her continued laughter and her disbelief perfectly showed how humble of a person she is.

Whereas I am sometimes self-indulgent and idealistic, my sister is humble and selfless. She worked ten times harder than I did in high school and got one hundred times the reward. She deserved everything she got because she earned it. The school that is her perfect fit is the one she was accepted to and given a hunk of change to fly across the country to attend. Last weekend, my Grandma, Mom, and I all hopped on separate planes and got to visit her in Virginia where she's now been for two months. I finally got to see her in the place where she didn't believe she stood a chance of going to. 

Sophie, I am proud of you. But I am (also) absolutely and sincerely happy for you. I am so happy that you got yourself to Virginia and created the life you have now for yourself. I only got to see a snipet of your life and I'm sure there is a lot I will never know about it. But from what I saw of you there, you stood taller than I've ever seen you. You fit there. And it is exactly what you deserved to get.
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