Can’t stay away.

26 Apr

So, I know I’m not technically supposed to be writing here anymore, but I feel compelled. Seriously, so many nights of staying up extra-late to put some words down in this little project of mine, groaning to myself that April 25th will be a day of joyous celebration, promising that then I’ll go to bed a whole hour earlier every night and be free to spend a day without my computer in hand if need be–all of this, and now I miss it here. I miss knowing that all of you are out there experiencing things with me, even if our lives are totally tossed asunder in actuality. I miss having a reason to spend that time writing down my thoughts or pressing myself to come up with something creative to say when I feel like I’ve gone dry. Without the promise, the “I will do this every day, no matter what” mentality, writing feels like a luxury instead of a chore, and now I find myself even more urgently considering what writing-related task I’ll take on next.

(And, no, I haven’t decided yet.)

Anyway, if there’s anything I do want to say tonight (besides that I miss you and miss blogging with pathetic sincerity), it’s that my twenty first birthday was awesome unto rockstar proportions. It is late-early already, as per my usual, and so I don’t think I’ll be able to say as much as I truly would like, but here is the basic rundown:

8:30AM: I stumble sleepily out of my room (having stayed up until 3AM blogging the eve before) to find a surprised Swede walking in my direction with a smile on his face. Or maybe a snicker. I did look pretty spiffy in my peacock feather boxers, halloween t-shirt, slimy retainer/morning breath, and bird’s-nest hair. He said I looked cute. All-star boyfriend? Yes. Oh, and the reason he was there to greet me at all was that he had made me Swedish pancakes (like crepes, but sexier, because they’re Swedish), and we ate them together in the common room once I was retainer-free and the bird nest was under control. A delicious way to begin the day.

9:40AM: Phone call/singing in two languages from Tyler’s family. Again, Swedish just makes things better. I am beginning to feel the birthday-special-glow.

11:05AM: Tyler directs me to the big tree on the quad where I find Kate and Natalia, bouquet of roses and spiderman birthday balloon and big smiles all bundled together like a living birthday present. We hugged and I felt even more special for them having come so far to see me, and then doubly so when they took me to the mall for birthday shopping. Then, lunch at Noche, accidentally on $2 taco day. Win.

All afternoon: More phonecalls, more texts, more happiness. I am assured many times that I am the luckiest birthday girl on earth.

6:00PM: My sweet sister comes bearing gifts–including the perfect birthday dress, which I quickly don so that we can meet mom for dinner.

6:50PM: Dinner at Vintage Pizzeria with Mom and K-mo. Salads and bruschetta and tiramisu all around. Excellent.

8:45PM: Rallying in the room to go out for drinks and more food with many Oglies. I am given my first birthday drink–a shot of Cap’n Morgan in an Oglethorpe glass. Beth did one with me, like a good best friend, so I wouldn’t look silly doing it for the first time all by myself. Turns out, it didn’t help much because I totally chickened out on the first countdown. Honestly, I was terrified that I’d end up pouring it all over myself, and then I’d never hear the end of being the girl who can’t hold her liquor–literally. On the second try, though, I am told that I took it like a champ. All I know is that my tongue went numb for a minute or two. The Captain doesn’t mess around.

9:30-onward: Dinner and drinks at the Brick Store Pub with many happy Oglies, and Katie Mo. It was fabulous all around. It’s hard not to have fun with that crowd. For the curious, I did not get smashed, or hammered, or slizz’rd, or any other wildly nonsensical drinking-related adjectives. I did enjoy everything I tasted, though, and I was happy to hand over my ID when the time came. It’s just a good moment.

Oh, and sometime around midnight: Standing on the Decatur square, waltzing to no music, my boyfriend stops and tells me he has my birthday present in his pocket. In response to my curious grin, he hands me a piece of paper like the ones he always uses to write letters on, which seemed like a strange gift to give someone in the middle of a crowd of rowdy friends. Opening it, I realized that those friends were there for a reason–they wanted to witness the explosion. When I read that I’d be jumping out of a plane next Wednesday morning, and that my favorite person would be jumping with me, I got just a little bit excited. There was some “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” and some frantic embracing that took place. Pretty sure that the boyfriend points were visibly collecting over Tyler’s head, like those little coin box things that Mario bumps into.

And, that’s about all I have to say. It’s officially after 2, and my bed is calling me. If anyone is still reading, I wish you a happy Wednesday, and I hope you have many birthdays as wonderful as mine always seem to be.

Lessons learned.

24 Apr

Dear, wonderful blog-reading friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers: may I call to your attention that it is officially April 24th. Actually, I guess I don’t need to lie to you all by now–you know me well enough to know that there’s no way I’m writing this post before midnight. It’s technically April 25th, and I am only hours away from being alive for a full 21 happily lived years. Furthermore, it should be noted that the thrill of that statement extends beyond the usual birthday cheer this time around. Not only do I get to be born 21 years ago and have a whole day to celebrate with ones that I love, I get to do so with the satisfaction of having tackled this project and seen it through to completion.

I feel pretty good about that fact. As you may note from the image above (given to me by a thoughtful friend with a good sense of humor), it hasn’t all been a dream come true, exactly. Still, I’m so glad I chose to do it, and even happier that I made it to this victorious point.

But, as with most ends and beginnings, it comes with some sad to add texture to the happy. There are many things about this blog that I’ve grown to love (although the late bedtimes are not in that category), and I’ll be sad to see them go. Some of these things I expected, like the forced creativity that comes with writing daily, but others have taken me by surprise. I guess it’s safe to say that I learned some lessons in this endeavor, which is exactly what I was hoping would take place. And, of course, what kind of blogger or type-A personality would I be if I didn’t make a list of a few of these lessons learned for your reading pleasure?

So, here it is, the final entry of three hundred and sixty five days of writing. Begin.

Lesson #1: There are no muses. Having fun and being creative are not gifts from the writing gods–you have to chase them down. And by that, I mean that when you decide to write every day for a year, you will sometimes sit down and hold your fingers poised over the keyboard, with no lightning bolts or revelations in sight. That’s when you have to ask yourself, What are my options?

I can… a) write a blog about how uninspired I am (and make everyone else feel bummed)
b) quit this mess and get a less demanding hobby
c) eat my feelings
d) think happy thoughts and write something decent

And then you choose. And it’s not really easy to choose, sometimes, when the words just won’t seem to appear. This is why it’s a lesson learned–inspiration is peripheral. Creativity is a choice.

Lesson #2: Fiction can be fun, too. This is an easy one to explain, though not always believable in practice. It’s quite enjoyable to re-read the tiny moments of characterization that I’ve created over the last 12 months. But it’s tough to make something out of nothing, to take the details of my life or the lives of people around me and make then unrecognizable–hidden in the hemline of a good story. Well, a snapshot of a story. It might be a worthwhile venture to spend a whole year just adding to one story every day… I could probably use the practice.

Really, this category should be the catch-all for the many different styles of blog entry that I tested on you folk this year. That was one of my favorite things about this experience, I think–so many different kinds of words found their way to the surface. Sometimes it seemed like the driest spells were merely a precursor to knowing exactly what to say, and how.

Lesson #3: Consistency brings community. Or, maybe just writing every day and putting it online for the whole world to see makes you feel like everyone is your friend. Either way, throughout this project, I’m not even sure how many people sent me messages or spoke to me in person about the contents of my blog. And let me tell you, this girl loved every minute of it. I have been so encouraged by the level of positive feedback that has found its way to me because of 365 days of writing. You people are a rockstar group of friends to be writing to, and I’m so grateful that you’re out there, helping me feel like this counts for something on the days when I wasn’t so sure.

Another side of the same coin is how connected I’ve felt to far away loved ones as a result of this blog. You would think that the readers of a blog, rather than the writer, would feel connected with the author, and this may also have been true. I found, however, that the opposite was increasingly more definite over time, so much so that I don’t much like the idea of splitting ways from Ty in the summer without this form of communication so readily available. Part of that, though, belongs to my next point…

Lesson #4: Stories should be remembered. This is not exactly groundbreaking, I know, but it is important. So many memories would have fallen through the cracks this year if it weren’t for the fact that I had already determined to write something that day. For this reason alone, a 365 project is worth considering, particularly if your life is exceptionally eventful. Mine clearly does not fall into such a category, but I still loved writing it down.

And, although I’m sure there are more, I have made it to a point in the evening at which I feel must finally retire (2:27AM, to be exact). Truthfully, I’d like to say first a big fat

THANK YOU VERY MUCH (please click this, it is my gift to you)

to every one of you who has been with me, reading through this journey. Honestly, I can say that I’m probably a little bit too weak-willed to have kept going if there wasn’t a soul watching, and this would have likely turned into a 124 day project if that were the case. Your participation has been of the utmost importance, and I’ve always felt honored that anyone would take the time to read my words. A double-thank you to the ones who took the time to encourage me along the way… you are saints of the blogging realm.

Now, it is possible that more will be written here, or somewhere else, soon. But with the end of this season comes a new one, and a new challenge of some kind. More details on this are forthcoming.

As for now, after a year of my words, I leave you with some of my most favorite ones from two other writers’ brains…

“If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose pen and paper, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you.”
[Henry Rollins]

“Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”
[Henry Miller]

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a birthday awaiting me on the other side of sleep.

Alive!

23 Apr

It had been three days, and she wouldn’t wait any longer. Sabbath had kept her at a distance, prevented the journey to where his body lay. Now she walked with burial spices in her arms, staring bitterly into the road ahead. Her feet pressed heavier into the dust with every step; she felt the tears gripping her throat again as she neared the tomb. She shut her eyes against the morning sun that flared brightly against her as she turned the last corner. Opening them, she found herself staring into the darkness of an open tomb.

She drew in a short, anxious breath and ran to the yawning entrance before her to peer inside–but he was not there. The morning sun streaked like a silver thread into the place where his head should have rested, but… she hesitated. Were there grave clothes lying in the place of her teacher’s lifeless form? Where was the wounded head whose gentle reprove she had learned to treasure, the maimed feet she had gratefully bathed with her tears? Her heart sank and raged within her for the indignities done to this man, whom she loved. Where had they taken him now?

The tears would not be quieted any longer; she began to weep with the strength of a lifetime of grief. In him, she had found a reprieve from the weight of her mistakes, and a sweetness she could not grasp. He spoke truth and acted in mercy; he set the high-and-mightys straight and kneeled in the dust to captivate children with stories of “the Kingdom.” She grimaced at the thought and trembled with grief. What king? and what kingdom? Disappointment burst, not for the first time in three days, like a tide over her weary heart.
Then, from behind her, a voice. Startled, she turned.
“Woman, why are you crying?” This man wanted to know, “Who is it you are looking for?”
“Sir, if you know where they have put him…”
“Mary.”

With one word,–her own name, spoken in that sweet familiar voice–everything changed. “Rabboni!” She cried, and ran to her teacher, who is alive.

[based on John 20:10-16. Happy Easter, all.]

Steadfast.

22 Apr

My mom is sitting in the room next to me as I type, chirping along with the soundtrack to 42nd Street and deciding what to put in her 365 day blog project. To some extent, you could say we are in the same boat–both of us wracking our brains to try and uncover something particularly meaningful or worthwhile to offer the world–but I would venture to say that the scales of commitment, creativity, and hard work tip far in her favor.

I write words every day; something, almost anything, would suffice. This on its own, I have discovered, is more difficult than it sounds. There are some days, especially if I save the writing for the very last task of the day (those oh-so-rare occasions, of course), when there just doesn’t seem to be anything more to say. I know you friendly readers out there are almost infinitely patient–there are times when I wonder why anyone would take time to experience all the written parts of my life with me–but I still try to mix it up a bit. If nothing else (and it is more than this), keeping up with this project has been an exercise in my ability to whip an idea out of thin air and knock it into readable shape. Still, in spite of this struggle, I can assure you that my mom works twice as hard.

Every day, she brainstorms a photoshoot, captures an image, searches out a writing idea, and expands all of this into a slowly, carefully craft masterpiece. It is hard work, but beautiful and worthwhile, and the results are breathtaking. I don’t know anyone who reads her blog and doesn’t love it.

She has a resilience and a commitment to excellence that overshadow my own, I think, and it shows.

Anyway, what else is on my mind: it’s Good Friday. This day represents what Jesus did two thousand years ago to bring me into the Father’s love. He had kneeled and breathed deep, agonizing prayers, beseeching God that this redemption might occur in any other way. The thought that keeps coming back to me is how lonely my Lord must have felt–how his friends abandoned him, denied him, and outright betrayed him to protect themselves in some way. Still, he carried what the Father asked him to carry–with resilience, and obedience, and incredible love. He gave up his spirit.

God, let my heart always grow more grateful.

Hang in there.

21 Apr

Even though it’s my last (!) week of blogging and I want everything I write to be at least a little bit interesting, it wouldn’t be April without at least one “too tired to keep my eyes open because it’s 2AM and I wanted to go to bed 3 hours ago” entry.

So, tonight I find myself waiting for a few things:

* My bedtime/half way through this paper.
* The end of this paper (and all Core papers, ever, unless I decide to take one voluntarily later).
* A welcome break from blogging, and perhaps a new writing endeavor (thoughts are a’brewing).
* Easter–so many good things about that day.
* My birthday! And all the happiness of a 21st year of adventures.

For now, I’m hanging in there, knowing all this is coming soon.

Angst.

20 Apr

Something funny about having a writer’s brain (and heart): I know when I am sad, because it is then that I want to write poetry–almost without fail.

I’m not sure this is a good thing, considering how much angsty “free verse” poetry there is in the world already; and by this I mean all the jabber that people post on their livejournals so that they can express their feelings in a way that seems raw and artistic. Now, anyone who’s reading this and has known me for more than 5 years is laughing, presently, because those jabbery blog entries were my main gig for quite some time. I even had an account on a poetry website–where I would mingle with other inspired cyber-authors and where I wrote quite prolifically–at the age of 12. I am the self-proclaimed overly expressive poem-blogger, or, I used to be. I seem to have developed a new (and hopefully less distressing) medium these days.

Anyway, I digress.

The sadness of the oncoming summer feels like a poem waiting to be written in me. All the details of these last couple of weeks are glaringly apparent to my heart’s watchful eye. This time last year was so different, so incredibly joyous–I had no idea how long four months can feel.

So, in preparation of the poem I intend to write, I have crafted the following similes and metaphors to express the depth of my emotion. Feel free to borrow any of them for any of your romantic writing endeavors:

* The feeling inside me is like lemons, a hundred lemons, and a paper cut across my left thumb.
* You are as far away as Christmas from the middle of June, and I, a small child. It’s like you’ll never get here.
* The distance between us seems as wide as the ocean Columbus once sailed,–uncharted, and solitary. My ships are sinking.
* Time feels as slow as a turtle, walking through molasses, in a coma.
* The mail lady is like a doctor, delivering good news to a desperate patient. Your letters are the treatment; your return, the cure.

Long distance dreams.

19 Apr

I was dreaming yesterday about the possibility of running the Nike women’s marathon in California this year–an unlikely event to begin with, mind you, since it costs money both to sign up and to get there. It is especially unlikely that I will be participating this year, however, considering that I am intending to be in England on October 16th when the race takes place.

Which made me think that I should perhaps find a marathon sometime in August, somewhere in Georgia, that I might love nearly as much as the coveted NWM. But this thought (although still being entertained) was swiftly followed by the realization that there aren’t many options for such a race because anyone with a brain knows that running any amount of serious mileage in Georgia in August is misery.

So, then I thought to myself, if I’m gonna be in another country, could I not have the most awesome first marathon experience ever? Could I not travel to France and run laps around the eiffel tower? Yes, yes I could.

Now I am dreaming even bigger, ladies and gents, and open to your suggestions. Although, I am proud to say that the US is a way more running-addicted culture than anything in Europe, as far as I can tell. My options may be limited. But if I could find 26.2 miles to run on the coasts of Ireland… I think I would not mind missing out on the free Tiffany’s that finds you when you cross the Nike finish line.