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. 
finished_10 DSC_0082 DSC_1621 DSC_0083 Photo on 3-4-13 at 9.58 PM DSC_0247 DSC_0397 copy DSC_1492 finished_12 DSC_0554 DSC_1741 DSC_1639 DSC_1765 finished_10 finished_18

  • 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.
_MG_2867 DSC_0303 DSC_0043 DSC_1770 DSC_1773 DSC_0417 finished DSC_0010 DSC_0914 medouble 1930954_orig
DSC_0510 DSC_0582 DSC_1011

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.
DSC_0162
Lack of a bookcase // lack of ever trying more than twice to find a bookcase at Good Will // books make great windowsill decoration
DSC_0166
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.
DSC_0159
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. 
DSC_0161
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?