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On April 25th, 2010, a couple of important things happened.
First, I turned 20. Officially, I completed the second decade of my existence, thereby leaving myself with the feeling I’m sure will sound familiar to many: What am I doing with my life?
The answer, I guess, is a lot of things. I am loving lots of people and feeling pretty loved myself. I am a student of English, Psychology, and plenty of other things that won’t show up on my degree. I’m a Christ-follower, finding out that the threads of heaven are woven into my soul and the souls of others, and finding Him as the center of all things. I run, conquering the belief that there are limits to what I can do and treading on my trepidations with every heel strike. I dance; I love the meetings of rhythm and freedom on the dance floor, kitchen floor, or parking lot. I sing, usually in empty stairways because the acoustics are irresistible. I’m a daughter, a best friend, a roommate, an employee, a sister, and a devourer of all good foods. And somehow in the midst of all these things, I want to be a writer.
So, I started a blog. That’s the second thing that happened on April 25th. I had toyed around with the idea of a 365 blog (that means writing something every day for a year for a whopping total of 365 entries) for a couple of months, but not soon enough to make it a January 1st resolution kind of thing. When the idea for a birthday-oriented project came along, and with the advent of my 20th year on the horizon, it seemed like an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
Mostly, the reasons I am here and doing this are not profound or complicated. I want to be a writer for the rest of my life in some capacity, and writing the occasional once-a-month blog entry just wasn’t cutting it in terms of improving my craft. So, while I may not aim for top-seller quality with every entry, the idea is that writing every day will make me better whether I like it or not. That, or it will make me think, “Why do I like this again?” Either way, I wanted to push myself closer to the edge of productivity–the dangerous incline where writer’s block, burnout syndrome, and brilliant inspiration sometimes meet.
Also, this seemed like something that might be worth reading later, somehow. My 20th year turned into 365 days of words. Someone once said that “nothing has ever really happened until it has been written down.” I’m not sure I believe that, but it’s kind of what I’m shooting for. I want to be able to look at all these months of writing and think, “Yes. All of this really happened, and I remember every word.”
So, it’s an adventure with an undetermined destination. I have no idea if I’ll be able to write during every one of these 365 days, but I know I will try. If you’re interested, please check out the 20project–a year-long exploration of a life in the making.
This blog may revive after the 20th year comes to an end. We shall see.
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I didn’t sleep much last night.
After a near-2AM bedtime, I was awakened at 6:15 to the sound of the walls falling down around me. Thunder storms in Georgia are sort of like the crazy aunt you rarely see: they don’t come around often, but when they do, they want everybody’s attention. Enormous, bed-shaking rumbles and sharp, abrupt snatches of lightning took up residence in my room early this morning, and I welcomed the intrusion. I smiled at memories of what it was like to be small and terrified by those sounds; it really did seem like the world was ending then. I love thunder storms now, and I love the rainy green-gray world they leave in their wake.
Especially on a day when I’ll be sitting inside writing a paper all day.
Yesterday we had our annual Stomp The Lawn festival here on the Ogle-quad. It was perhaps the most perfect day of 2010 so far–breezy, drenched in sunshine, and full of happy things for the residents of the Ogle world. Today my sister comes home from Spain. Tomorrow is my 20th birthday. I still feel 17.
Life is full of sleepless thundery nights, beautiful sun-soaked days, conversations that are worth having, and a whole host of wide open horizons. And papers to be written. Regardless of this last clause, I am happy to be alive.
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“I found a place in a leaning tree
Over the soft water and the sound of secret things
Trembling beneath ribbons of painted pollen
Worlds of emergence and deep, gulping life
Fluttering gills and first flying leaps
Black bodies of tadpoles shuddering from my feet
and all the sideways solidity
of an old leaning tree.
Resentful feathered faces and curious craned necks
shivered across the sun on the water.
I saw you under their wings,
and in the surfaces of all the world in spring.”
It’s a good day for a poem.
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Underneath my bed, words and pictures are piled up haphazardly, a stockpile of memories and things I could probably throw away. Lying on the floor in my room, I just reached to my right and found my journal from 2006-2008, with old letters and poems still shoved inside it. It’s hard to believe how far away from me all of those things feel these days, and how easy it is to compartmentalize entire seasons of my life in my heart so that I can barely remember the fullness of how it all felt then as opposed to how it seems looking back now. This is why I am always telling myself to keep up with my journal–things tend to seem so different looking back. I have friends whose journals would undoubtedly be on the level of a publishable memoir if said loved ones would keep their lives written down. My roommate Clair is one of the most tragic of these instances in my mind–just hearing her talk about her life is like watching a movie in 3 genres at the same time. She tells me she would rather live her life in the present than always be looking back to has-beens. In response I say that I want to read her life in the past tense, even if she won’t. Seeing as reading other people’s journals is not a socially well-accepted activity, however, she remains unconvinced. I mourn for the stories that are lost.
Moral of the story: buy a journal and write, write, write.
Today was the kind of perfect that can only come after it has rained. Pollen has been closing in on us for a few weeks now, putting its green-yellow fingers on everything in sight and floating in the air like a solid wall of pixie dust pummeling into your lungs. Yesterday, rivers of rainwater carried swirling streaks of green away from our sidewalks and windows, and the world breathed a sigh of relief. As a result, today was a collision of sun, wind, and rain puddles that made for unbeatable running weather. The hills that make me want to give up and go home on cloudy winter days were a welcome challenge today, although I wouldn’t say I did a lot of conquering. I just kind of cruised through 3.5 miles, enjoying the fact that I can still run at 3PM without having a heat stroke.
I am happy to say that running is still taking up a sizable portion of my life these days, even with no set goals on the horizon. I’ve been turning over the idea of running a full marathon for a week or two now, and somehow the thought of it doesn’t daunt me very much at all. After training for the half and running it in November, I remember thinking that there was no need to do another 13 miles; it all seemed a little excessive to me. But a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine (who does not even like running) informed me that he would be training for a marathon to be run on Halloween 2010, to which I responded “That sounds awesome. I want to do this.”
And that was when I realized I wasn’t scared of 26.2 miles the way that I used to be.
So, now I’m just thinking, and trying to find the coolest possible marathon to run sometime in Fall/Winter 2010. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I hesitate to commit to the idea, mainly because the training runs will be upwards of 2 hour time blocks that I probably don’t have room for in my schedule, so I’m not promising anything yet. I will say, though, that if I can find the right marathon and sign up in the next couple of weeks, you just might be seeing some more writing coming your way. A first-marathon-training-experience would most definitely be written down.
Part of the fuel for my athletic fire is perhaps coming from the Defyance in my soles–and by that I mean “the new running shoes my parents bought for me.”
Meet the Brooks Defyance 3. They are my third pair of the same name shoe and they are my body’s best friend: no more nerves out of whack, tired knees, or unbeatable soreness in my legs. I have a friend who always tells me to run barefoot, but to me these shoes are the barrier between my feet and a world of concrete-induced pain. To the inventor of these shoes I tip my hat, and to my parents who paid for them I give an unlimited supply of hugs. Everybody wins.
Anyway, enough about running. Time for something new.
The Wild Streak is back! After months of winter absence, the first signs of summer sunshine have drawn it out of hiding. I spent several hours of my spring break putting in a solid bleach job and 3 layers of “wildfire red” hair dye, and yet it has still managed to turn a much tamer shade of orangey-pink in less than three weeks of washing. Nevertheless, I’m a fan of it and I have yet to receive disapproving commentary from any of the important people in my life, so I consider the Streak a success. In fact, the response I get from people is usually something like amused surprise mixed with mystified approval. I am okay with this. Plus, it makes me feel like summer is coming soon. Which is true. And that brings me to my next thought.
When summer comes, school ends. I know–please forgive me for blowing your mind. But really, the bittersweetness of that thought has been following me for weeks. As academic insanity begins to become a bitter reality in the Ogle world, it can be harder to look around and remember how beautiful the relationships I have found there really are. Papers and tests are suspended like storms over our heads, clouding out the sunshine of our happy college existence. Just last weekend, Amir, Clair, Sean, and myself were working through the painful hours of the morning trying to finish papers due in class the next day. Indoor camping trips and planet earth parties are banished until further notice, in favor of caffeine and a lot of wake-me-up-in-ten-minutes, 3AM naps.
However, in spite of all this busyness, I have really not been able to stop myself from thinking about how good life with the Oglies has been. Moments from the last two years rise up in me with sad urgency, and I just want to hug all the necks of the people I have come to love so dearly. I am not sure where I’ll be in school next semester–if the Ogle world is going to be my world anymore–but I do know that the people I met have changed my life for the better.
Anyway. Summer is coming and I don’t know what she will be bringing, but I hope it is very, very good.
I think that’s where I’ll end tonight… it’s getting late. How is it that there are so many other things I wanted to say? This is long already. I guess that leaves room for me to say, as usual, “more soon.”
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Those are the things that fill my Saturday: good coffee, books to be read, and lots of list-making to keep my brain on target. Admittedly, “write a blog” was not part of the plan, but it seems like its been too long not to just say something short and sweet.
Last night, I was rudely awakened by the sound of the apocalypse screaming through North Magbee Hall. A student managed to burn food in the kitchen at 4AM, thereby setting off the fire alarm and sending all the residents on a groggy early morning stroll out into the cold. I, personally, consider it a learning experience in which I realized that a fire in the building would almost certainly have a chance to destroy half of NoMag before I even put two feet on the floor. In spite of the supernaturally ear-splitting screech of the alarm, Clair had to come and alert Beth and me to get up and get moving. I remember being awake, and incredibly confused, but not at all concerned and having no intention of moving anytime soon. The power of the sleep gods is strong in the college student’s psyche; all the forces of nature, and possibly the fire department, are powerless to overthrow it.
A frightening truth, ladies and gentlemen.
Also frightening is the mercurial nature of the world these days. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Two-minute thunder storms. What is earth coming to? Georgia has been tossing her inhabitants thoughtlessly from snow to sleet to sunshine to storms to all at once for weeks now. I am willing to accept her behavior if she will steadily begin to move in the Spring-ward direction. Summer starts to feel like a possibility as soon as flip-flops and lily-white toes begin to make an appearance where sneakers once reigned supreme. Rain and sun are both welcomed, but only if they bring 65 degrees of happiness with them.
This coming from a girl who loves cold November rain. Georgia is pushing me to my limits this year.
That’s all for now. I know it’s short. Homework calls! Happy Saturday, all.
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This is the current view from where I am sitting at the table in our common room. Amid piles of books, blankets, and pillows, Clair is cat-napping on the couch. She came in from reading in the library this morning with a look in her eyes that I know all too well–the one that says “I’m going to crash as soon as I take my feet off the floor.” It is not unusual to find sleepers in our room, their homework hanging from their fingers in academic surrender, or sitting on the table untouched altogether. Depending on the napper, they’ll wake up 10 minutes or 2 hours later, bleary-eyed and mumbling something about how many pages they have to read. It feels like an endless battle between the rock-hard requirements of our syllabi, and the slightly more malleable demands of our exhausted bodies. Even now, a stack of pages to my right is relentlessly calling my name. Clair has awakened, Beth has returned, and all eyes are homework-bound. We are spent today, and you can see it in the pure determination in their faces–willing the eyelids not to close, working against gravity in an attempt to make the price-tag on this education worthwhile.
And I think it is time well spent. I am more well-read now than ever before, and I have developed a literary persistence that keeps turning pages even when I’d rather scrub the cafeteria with a toothbrush than read another word by Adam Smith. That has to be useful somehow, right?.
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Well, I am alive. Six months of nothing for my own darling blog page, and I am making a comeback.
I promise I didn’t stop writing. I actually wrote just the same, but elsewhere. If you are interested, the proof may be seen here. I wrote all the blogs for a missionary team that traveled to Liberia, Africa, at the end/beginning of 2009-10. Not only did I write for the team, I was actually a part of it, and it was the adventure of a lifetime. I didn’t know until sometime in August that I’d be writing there, and I decided to let it take me away from Perspicacious entirely for a short time. Thanks to a few very persistent and encouraging (and slightly agitated) friends, I have found that I can’t stay away. I also did not want to. I love this little space.
So where to begin? It would not be enough to say that a lot has taken place since the last time I wrote here; multitudinous meaningful occurrences have taken place in these six months, more than could be captured here. I finished a journal in October, though, and am 60% through a new one already, so at least some part of what’s been happening in my life has been written down. That’s something, I think, to speak for the productivity of this July-to-January gap. Finishing a journal is big business in my world, right up there alongside free food, clean clothes, and getting all my homework done on time. Perhaps it’s not a thrilling life, but it is an enjoyable one, and I live it in the company of others who appreciate the same kinds of small-but-happy things as myself. Like when my roommates and I all accidentally wore nearly the same outfit to brunch on Sunday morning.
Some of you, perhaps, would run from such social blunders as this. We, however, sprinted unhesitatingly in the direction of complete coordination, 90’s girl-band style, and we were giggling like children all the way to the cafeteria. I love my roommates. That has not changed in six months. Here are a few more seemingly immutable facts of my life:
1. Clarence and Clementine.
Our fish children. Ironically, Clementine is the white one. She was orange when we got her. No, we do not always keep them in a carafe– it was temporary, photo shoot housing only. We have had these guys since October-ish of 2008, and I am proud to say that they are still happily coexisting in spite of our somewhat “hands off” approach to parenting. I deny all accusations relating to the idea of Clarence having been replaced over the summer due to my inadequacies as a mother. It’s not my fault he looked a lot bigger in August than May. Fish grow sometimes. Sue me.
I still love it. I spent last semester training for my first ever half marathon, a slightly terrifying but terribly wonderful experience. When I started running in March of 2008, 2 miles felt like an accomplishment to be shouted from the rooftops. Simultaneously, I despaired of ever being able to run more than 5 miles, much less did I ever expect to do so without collapsing. Needless to say, I have come a long way since then, both literally and otherwise. From August to November, I spent a lot of hours listening to the collision of rubber soles on pavement–a sometimes maddening, but inexplicably wonderful sound. I trained with the Atlanta Track Club 1/2 Marathon Crew, which is made up a small contingent of experienced coaches, a slightly larger number of trained athletes, and a majority group of eager, terrified, fresh-faced new guys like myself. We followed a schedule during the week and came together on Saturdays to do our “long runs,” which started out at 4 miles and grew to monstrous distances over time. If you told me a year ago that I’d be running mileage in the double digits, I probably would’ve cried a little bit at the thought of it. On my first 10 mile run at the end of October, I wanted to jump for joy. And when I crossed the finish line on Thanksgiving morning… oh, man. It was a lot more than a jolt of endorphins that was making my heart glow. My teacher told me last semester, “Write about running,” so I couldn’t resist letting this experience be a part of my final. Here’s a piece of what I wrote:
“As we neared the start, traffic slowed. Runners flung open passenger doors to find the corrals on foot and I joined them. What happened next took me by surprise. With the asphalt finally beneath my feet I couldn’t stop the thrill that spread over me from top to bottom. Ten thousand pairs of pounded, wounded soles were cold and anxious with me. I could look in any direction and see the same story, told ten thousand ways, that had been growing in me since August. And what felt like a dream to me could have been anyone else’s nightmare—a 13.1 trek through Atlanta on Thanksgiving morning with thousands of my closest friends.
Standing in the corrals, I watched the sun break over the Clairmont bridge, four runners silhouetted in the center of the glow. I can’t remember how it happened—if a gun went off or if someone just spoke the words—but there was music, and thousands of bodies picking up speed, and the feeling that I could move the earth with the force of my stride.”
And, what I didn’t write in my final, but what resonated deeply in me for a long time after the race ended, is the feeling of such deep camaraderie with so many thousands of people that I’ve never met. So many people look at you like you’ve lost your mind when you tell them that you’re training to run 13.1 miles–just for the fun of it. I knew on that morning that I was surrounded by a whole lot of the same kind of crazy, and that was a very unique feeling. I couldn’t help but think about the day when, with millions of believers on all sides, I’ll see the One I’ve been waiting for. And we’ll go home. It is a beauty drenched in hard work and anticipation, perhaps impossible to convey until you’ve seen it– so go run a race. That’s the moral of the story. Any distance will do. :)
The ever present frenemy– even now as I type, my developmental psychology textbook is urging me either to sleep or to read, for goodness sake, but stop wasting time on this blogging business. Right now, I am resisting, but in general I spend a very good amount of time with my face buried in the pages of one thing or another, which I should really be okay with since I am, after all, an English Major. Sometimes, though, the things that are considered “great works of literature” are not what I would consider pleasurable food for thought. Slogging through a hundred pages of some brilliant writer’s creativity and contemplation sometimes leads to a moment of revelatory delight, and sometimes leads to falling asleep in my chair. It’s a toss up every time; you never know what you’ll get.
Recently, I got lucky in my English Heroines class with my very first Jane Austen book ever– Emma. The whole story captured me completely, reminding me of why I might actually want to spend a lot of time staring at words on pages, or even writing down some words of my own. Jane Austen, however, so masterfully crafted nearly every aspect of Emma that I’m not sure I could even harbor aspirations to ever try to follow in her footsteps. We shall see. Altogether, though, I certainly recommend the book (don’t watch the movie–read the book first), and I suggest that you read it with a pen in hand. There were plenty of moments when I found myself gasping, exclaiming, laughing, sighing, even almost to the point of weeping as I sat on my kitchen counter taking in the last 50 pages… you will want to write in the margins on this one. Definitely.
The darker side of my lighthearted Emma experience is that I’ll be writing a paper about it this weekend. College just seems so relentless sometimes. Scratch that. Life seems relentless, and I feel like I’m only just starting to put my feet in the water. How is it possible that I’m ready to crumble already? Maybe it’s a learning process. That seems likely to me. In fact, the more I talk out loud about the things that seem weighty in my mind, the more conquerable they become. I walked and talked with my roommate Clair for an hour today, and together I think we tossed back and forth a hundred ideas about people, hearts, and living. As I spoke, I listened to the knots of worry in my mind untangle and fall away. The space between two people who know and love each other, who listen and speak with honest words, is rare and beautiful. Talking with my good friends sometimes just feels like waking up early and remembering that it’s Saturday. Unexpected, and sweet.
So those are a few of the unchanging things. There is a lot that I could list that has been altered, but because my word count is approaching 1600, I feel that I should relieve you of your audiencial duties and be silent for the time being. The funny thing is that, after so many months of absence, I feel I have no imparted any sort of unusual wisdom or thrilling news. Maybe it is better that way. And it seems best, I think, to end in a list.
Things I’m a fan of right now:
1. Peanut butter toast. Whole grain bread, banana slices on top. Breakfast of champions.
2. Dance lessons. Or, I will be a fan of them if I can ever actually find time to go to the studio and take them. More on this in the near future, I hope.
3. Februarian Indecision. This month cannot make up her mind. It flurried on Sunday night, and today I could have worn a t-shirt. It was gorgeous outside. The good news is that I love cold rain, and I love cold sun. The alternating day-by-day changes are working for me for the time being, although I’d like to settle into a good 6 inches of snow sometime before spring comes. Can I get an amen?
4. “Restiveness.” Mickey pointed out this word to me as one that he was puzzled over from his Tocqueville reading tonight. When I looked it up, I found it to be exactly the opposite of what it’s pretending to mean:
restive |ˈrestiv|adjective(of a person) unable to keep still or silent and becoming increasingly difficult to control, esp. because of impatience, dissatisfaction, or boredom.
Tricksy, I thought. I like it.
5. Planet Earth. As in, the BBC series. Chelsea gave it to me as a Christmas gift and the semester has indubitably been one of our most educational thus far. It’s what we do on weeknights when we finish our homework in time. And, there really isn’t a way to say that without sounding lame. Oh well. I know more about freshwater seals than the average girl of 19, and that, my friends, it to be envied.
That’s all for tonight. The sleep gods assail me. Thank you for reading- I know you don’t trust me when I say this, but… more soon.
P.S. Mickey- I beat you. Too bad I LIVE HERE. Love always, Beth.