Tag Archives: but seriously

19 Days And Nothing Is Normal Anymore

19 days and nothing is normal anymore.

It seems a novelty to write about why I haven’t written in a while, so I’ll try and keep it short, and hey, I might even throw in a few pictures!

19 days without writing, 19 days with little to no downtime, 19 days of too little sleep. 19 days of jokes and stories that don’t make sense to anyone who’s not here working at camp with me. 19 days in a new town in a new state. 19 days that have felt like 6 months. 19 days and I am a dot com now!!!! (check the browser bar above!) 19 days of growing up and feeling so much like a kid at the same time. 19 days of brand new relationships. 19 days that I never could have predicted in, like, 19 million years.

My head always has this little buzz inside of it lately. Every single day is a blur as well as a lull and at some point, usually a Maroon 5 song (no shame) or Lumineers song or Aretha Franklin song that’s stuck in my brain and won’t stop playing. My hours are off, my schedule is off, and the only consistent thing seems to be the attachment of my phone to my hand and face.

I’m working from 7am-11pm every single day and my energy is so spent, but I’m not complaining. It’s exhausting and it’s hard and I tend to have a little freakout of stress every single day, but it’s worth it. Gone are the days of making huge plans and long hours of lazy television marathons in bed, and here are the days of quick ideas and constant problem-solving and barely having time to throw my enormous mane of hair into a style before I’m needed and expected to have some semblance of my thoughts together.

I’ve never done this before. You see, I’m a novice in the field of actually being busy and booked all day, every day. Sure, I’ve watched nearly all the romantic comedies and coming-of-age movies where the young twentysomething girl is wearing a polished Anthropologie-knockoff-outfit, holding several binders of important files and precariously balancing full Starbucks cups as she rushes through the bustling city to her challenging 9-to-5 and important boss, but my current version of said portrayal is a lot messier.

You know how they tell you to make goal lists and things you want to accomplish? This summer I’m shredding those lists and setting fire to the idea. Because right now, I live my life 5 minutes at a time, and can’t plan more than that, and I’m gritting my teeth to learn that it is actually okay. It’s actually OKAY to let go and pry my fingers away from holding onto my control-freak-mantra of where I’m headed in life. Sure, it is important to dream and have an idea of where you see your pretty face 5 years from now and yadda yadda yadda, but at this point there’s no telling and simply no time to do so.

Right now I’m hardly the sweeping-conversationalist and meticulous-playlist-maker obsessive-planner that I have been for so long.  Who am I?

I’m frequent sips of coffee. I’m little tiny moments of catching my breath before I’m back to teaching 8 kids that need my attention and exhaust all my brainpower. I’m high-fives when they excel and I’m concerned questions when they are stuck. I’m a constant brainstorming session of activities and strategies to make camp better. I’m the alarm clock that gets set minutes later each day to try and catch up.

But, even with everything, I’m not totally disconnected. Because, oh lord, more than ever before, I am constant little text messages and too-long phone calls and hours on skype to stay in touch. I’m verbose emails and gchats and Facebook posts and instagrams in a different time zone. I’m songs sent on Spotify when there’s no time to talk and we have to use lyrics instead, and I’m a paragraph of heartfelt I-miss-you’s and call-me-later’s. I’m long pauses when I know neither of us want to hang up but we’re out of words. I’m letters in the mail and voicemails that ramble.

I’m exhausted but also exhausting every single form of communication possible.

And while I’m grateful for this job and for this change of scenery and for all these moments, I just wonder if it is ever going to feel normal; so tired and burned out but so happy, as well as constant connection with those I love, but so disconnected at the same time. Maybe I should give up on finding normalcy in my 20s altogether?

Or maybe I simply need to wear that earlier-mentioned polished Anthropologie-knockoff-outfit while balancing Starbucks cups and everything will make sense. Maybe that’s what’s truly missing.

You And I And Our Lists

I worry that we are all just little collections of likes and dislikes, with detailed lists of each. We carry around these lists of our favorite and least-favorite things close to our chests, waiting to run into someone new and to share them to see if we have any in common. We quote movies and post song lyrics and claim ownership of hometowns– tightening our first around the things that we like, the things that we consume, the things that seemed to build us. It’s all just silly words and melodies and names and images, but it’s everything to us in a way. What we like is what we’re told to talk about, to pursue, and to share.

But it’s so small. Knowing a top 5 list is so miniscule.

Top 5 favorite movies. Top 5 favorite tv shows. Top 5 favorite bands. Top 5 favorite sports teams. Top 5 favorite books. Top 5 favorite sandwiches. Top 5 favorite websites. Top 5 favorite vacation spots. Top 5 favorite top-5-list topics.

It’s perfect when someone else’s 5 is the same as yours– you get a moment of swelling joy in thinking, “Yes! You get it! You understand me!” but that’s so cheap. Liking and disliking, comparing and sharing, it’s all so exhausting and so structured.

Because you can know someone’s favorite tv shows for years but never get the inner workings of their soul.

And I know that sentence doesn’t sound profound at all, but in a society of meticulously-placed tweets and highly-edited information released exclusively, it’s so frustrating to feel real camaraderie anymore. Not just “we-commented-on-the-same-blog-post” friendships, but the kind that cuts deep and knows.

The kind that not only knows that you take two splendas in your coffee, but that you tear up when you see elderly couples holding hands because it makes you feel a longing for a romance that society has told you doesn’t exist anymore.

Or the kind that knows you can’t miss NBC’s Thursday Night comedy lineup, but also that the thought of your direction in life is terrifying.

After almost 22 years, I’m nearly an open book, and the ink is still very wet. I’m eager to share anything that’s not appropriate for “dinner table conversation”, even as we are seated at the dinner table. I want to talk about the hard things that aren’t comfortable yet. I want to tell jokes that would make our predecessors blush. I want to chat regarding the failed relationships we’re supposed to act like aren’t proper discussion topics but are all we are aching to speak up about. I want us to talk about hurts and confusion and pain. I want us to talk about awkward kisses and embarrassing stories we swore to never bring up again. I want us to talk about anxieties that cut us down and overwhelming pride that make us seem almost too confident. I want us to brag obnoxiously and I want us to mope listlessly. I want us to talk about faith and love, and where we’ve lost both. I want us to talk about childhood dreams that never came true, as well as the small victories we never saw coming.

I’m scared that it’s easier for me just to run down my list, day after day and year after year. I like jalapenos, I like The Beatles, I like long text message conversations, and I like turquoise jewelry. I don’t like waiting in lines, I don’t like silences, I don’t like Two & A Half Men, and I don’t like humidity. But where does this get us? Sure, we can sustain conversation and keep up appearances for a long time, but sooner or later there’s going to be that moment where I want to tell you all about near-mental breakdowns and we won’t have made it there yet.

So, yes, I will cling to my favorite things and I will tell you about them in full. I will gladly repeat banter we heard in a scene or learn chords in a song. I will quote and recommend and discuss your favorites and my favorites and resurrect a shrine of our top 5s, displayed as perfectly as possible. But, I hope that maybe together, when we’re ready, we can let go of our lists. We’ll slowly release our grip and smooth out all the wrinkles in the paper from where we’ve held on so tight and we’ll put them all somewhere safe. And then, with our hands free and our usual topics taken care of, we can really talk.

And if in that moment you can’t think of the words to say, don’t worry. I’ll go first.

At 21

At 21, I wonder if I’m supposed to start thinking about advanced skincare. When do I start using wrinkle cream? Should I be concerned about taking vitamins? Are free-radicals ruining my later years of Facetime with the grandkids on our iPhone 7S 17G smartphones?

At 21, the fashion world and I are at a standstill. I want to still buy young clothes, but I’m supposed to be looking at professional attire as well, for the career that I am waiting to come true completely.  Where is the middle ground between my usual uniform of denim cutoffs, leopard print, and 1970s jewelry versus nice heels-and-blouse-and-skirt-that-have-actually-been-ironed-with-a-real-iron-and-not-just-a-hair-straightener for the working world? Am I too old for some trends? Do I shop at Forever21 or Chicos?

At 21, half of everyone I know tells me that I’m such a baby age-wise and I have so much time to figure my life out and the other half sees me as an old mature graduate and reminds me that their generation has access to technology and resources even faster than I did. This causes confusion and lots of nervous laughter.

At 21, I am finally beginning to accept myself and all my quirks. I’ve gone through the rough awkward years of middle school and the dazed years of high school and even the happy 24/7 years of college, and I think I know a few of my personal strengths by now. My waist size and body type don’t stress me out as much as they used to, I know, for the most part, what looks good on me, and I’ve embraced my big hair wholeheartedly. I don’t have a lisp anymore, I don’t rely on music as my only conversation topic anymore, and I can take a compliment and just say “Thank You” without freaking out about it or over-thinking. When I look in the mirror, I can actually calmly smile at my reflection.

At 21, I know how to do some important life-skill things. I know how to jump start a car battery, how to make at least 10 different edible dishes (most of them breakfast, but let’s be honest, breakfast is the best), how to actually use the internet to find answers to questions and not just funny cat pictures, how to write a cover letter, how to blow dry my hair and have it come out somewhat decent, how to make coffee, how to put together an outfit, how to be on time, and how to pack a suitcase.

At 21, I still need to work on being specific with my calendar and schedule, having a conversation that’s not completely all about my fears of being a post grad in this economy, changing a flat tire, painting my nails without smearing the polish everywhere, answering questions in a job interview without wanting every answer I give to be funny, locating things on a map and not just relying on a GPS to do it for me, and how to do something productive with my Saturdays instead of the usual routine of pretending my floor is lava and my bed is the only safe place that I won’t get burned.

At 21, I should have more sense. I should probably stand up straighter, tell the whole truth when I am asked, stop texting boys that are careless with my heart and don’t even appreciate my finely-worded puns, read more books, stop waiting so long to get my hair cut, trust Jesus more, wear sensible shoes, and floss every other day.

At 21, I listen to Jack White’s song “Freedom At 21” and pretend it is all about me and feel 300% cooler and more rockstar because of it. Judge me.

At 21, I actually carry a big-girl purse every day with a planner and Advil and chapstick and bobby pins in it. I am learning to be prepared. I wear a watch that’s not digital and I try and keep the dirt out from under my fingernails and my polish unchipped.

At 21, I need to be told that I’m doing okay. I need to be told that life isn’t a race towards success. I need approval from my peers, and it hurts sometimes when I don’t get it. I need to be needed but I have a tendency to flake out on plans. I need direction but I also need to feel like I’m making my own life decisions. I need a hug, and I need you to give one to me even if I don’t ask for it. I need to sleep more. I need to eat more vegetables. I need those really cute boots I saw in the magazine, but I am going to tell myself that I don’t need them…at least until they go on sale.

At 21, I am frustrated when people get down on my generation for being so connected to our phones, too apathetic, not interested in politics, careless, needy, spoiled, obnoxious, MTV-driven, lazy, obsessed with the Kardashians, and entitled, even if sometimes I know that it is absolutely true, and that I am all of those things at times.

At 21, I am adjusting to, well, my life. That is, at least until 22 comes along, then all of this falls to pieces again.

I Used To Be So Reassured (+ Time Travel!)

Hi, internet. I’m still unemployed for those of you wondering (all 3 of you) and I don’t say that to make you feel sorry for me, just to keep you informed and because well, it’s part of this story.

You see, when you’re unemployed, you have a whole lot of free time on your hands. During my large block of free time today, after filling out applications and googling pictures of puppies (because that is another essential task), I decided to go back and clean up some of my old blogs, seeing as I’ve had quite a few. I was going through old entries from several blogs ago (oh yes, I was one of those special breeds of the internet generation that had a blog in middle school and high school…and God bless your heart if you read them and are still deciding to read my words now) and I found this:

April 1, 2008: “There’s a few future plans I have planned out and heard more on lately, but overall, I’m just trusting God and putting it all in his hands. I hardly know everything, but what do I know? I’ve got a list of books to read and a set of records and box sets of LPs that Olivia is letting me borrow that I can’t even believe I am actually hearing and that amaze me. There’s also a graduation date to look forward to. And larger than that, I’ve got an intense passion for music that overwhelms me sometimes, a family and group of friends that I run out of fantastic adjectives for, and a desire to serve in some way. I know that those will be there no matter where I’m living or what I’m doing years from now, and actually, yes, that’s very reassuring.”

I wrote it almost exactly 4 years ago, about to graduate high school. The “box sets of LPs” were the Live 1975-85 Boxset and I was juuuust beginning to listen to Bruce Springsteen. I was 17, I was idealistic, and I was so reassured.

I’m definitely not the same girl I was then. I look different in nearly every way and I sound different too. I drink a lot more coffee than I used to four years ago and since then, I’ve also touched Bruce Springsteen’s guitar while he was playing it. In comparison to four years ago, I’ve picked up a ukulele and guitar, fortunately, and unfortunately, I read less books. I am, for all intents and purposes, better than I was four years ago, more educated than I was four years ago, and older than I was four years ago (duh) but that peace and reassurance about the future and about my life that I had four years ago? I’d give anything to have those back, instead of this post-grad anxiety.

I have been obsessed with the idea of time travel for years. No, really.  REALLY OBSESSED. Back to the Future was my Dad’s favorite movie and was on repeat growing up. Marty McFly stole my heart at a young age with his orange vest and guitar solo. Today I look into buying a used DeLorean on Ebay maybe once a month, and don’t even get me started on my adoration for Doctor Who and how I wish for the Tardis. Heck, I even loved Stargate and Battlestar Galactica for their crazy timeline drama. So, all this geekery and obsession leads me to love discussions about flux capacitors and what it might look like to go back into the past.  I talk about time travel with no qualms at all. However, reading something I wrote and craving to be able to write it again, to go back there when I thought I’d come so far, baffles me more than any space-time continuum.

Is it too weird to think that you should take advice from…yourself?

Here’s To The Fangirls (And Fanboys)

Here’s to the fangirls (and fanboys); I will never be cooler than you, because, well…I am you.

Here’s to the ones who have found that some form of art changed their life. It was a good book, a thrilling movie, a dynamic tv show or, my heart, a rock and roll album.

Here’s to the literature nerds who read something and felt the words jump off the very page and surround them and kept them wrapped up in chapters, unable to leave the story behind, and often, unable to tell where said story and reality differed. Here’s to the television enthusiasts who never miss a week of excellent screenwriting and storytelling and for years, follow the same characters and grow up with them. Here’s to movie-quoters and cinemaphiles who go to midnight premieres and dress up as cast members, who talk about directors like they are old friends and mentors, who get goosebumps upon seeing trailers for the first time and who have seen the originals of today’s remakes and foreign versions of classics. Here’s to yall! You love the characters, you love the screenplays, you love the dialogue, you love the authors, you love the cinematography, you love the memories you have associated with your movie or book or show and you love those that love all of it too.

Here’s to all of you– you make me feel so much less alone. You make me laugh sometimes with your dedication, but in the end, your passion is so amazing to me. In a generation of apathy and cynicism, you’ve found something you love and you’re not afraid of loving it so deeply and so brashly at times that you can’t help but be a little obnoxious. You found something else besides yourself, some little piece of art and you ran with it. You filled your days with it, planned your schedule around it, saw the beauty in it and it changed your life. You talk about it like it’s living and breathing and you love it. You LOVE it with every fiber of that beating heart in your chest, and I’m begging you, please don’t ever stop. Loving things should be much cooler than it is. It’s so cool these days to put down and criticize every single thing and your artform-loving heart gets crushed. Please don’t turn into that critic who may have made you reconsider loving what you love. We need more love in this pessimistic society.

And now, for the ones who I am associated the most with– here’s to the band fangirls and musically-obsessed boys; you crazy ones.

Here’s to the ones who talk about concerts like they are religious experiences (and find that they often actually are). Here’s to the ones who know the names of the four bass players the band has gone through since they started, the birthdays of their favorite lead singers, and have all the old eps and remixes memorized. The ones who buy the cd the day it comes out and listen to it for weeks straight. Here’s to the fans who frame ticket stubs and beg the security guard for the setlist taped onstage and ask for guitar picks and keep them in a scrapbook, no matter how nerdy.

Here’s to the music nuts. I am so grateful on my behalf and yours that some band or singer decided to put pen to paper and voice to microphone and instrument to pedalboard and then to an amp, as a result, made something that resonated with you. And it didn’t matter if they were the best-reviewed band on Pitchfork or Rolling Stone because they were yours and your ownership was important. Because you see, it wasn’t just another song; it was your song, your album, your lyric and your life in a melody. It made you feel young and old at the same time, alive and joyful and sad and scared and hopeful and connected. You played it on important days, you played it on random Tuesdays, you wrote the lyrics in pen on your hand in middle school or in puff paint on a homemade tshirt or in permanent ink in a tattoo. You used it to explain yourself and to express your feelings all at once.

Here’s to all of you, because you are my kind of people. I hope that one day we can all meet up and wear the ill-fitting band shirts we haven’t thrown away and tell all our concert stories. We can talk about that moment that the singer locked eyes with you or that time we heard a great song and it stopped us in our tracks or how we thought the last album was maybe too experimental but we still bought it or how we should have been alive or at least old enough to attend that one band’s shows during their good years or best era of music.

Here’s to all of you crazies, and may you never stop listening, never stop reading, never stop watching, never stop singing along, never stop believing in silly things like tv and books and movies and rock and roll and soul and pop and country and acoustic and bluegrass and metal and even dubstep and screamo and new-age synth.

However idealistic it may be, don’t grow up and forget what being a fan feels like. Don’t let people tell you you’re too old to truly love things with your whole heart, because I sure do think the world could use a whole lot more of you.*

(*As well as venues that accommodate for a whole lot more front row seats, so that we can all sit together.)

Unemployment & Little Old Me

Oh, internet. I’ve been oddly away from you for nearly a month, but you know this lion couldn’t stay away forever. So, what could I talk about in this long overdue post to entertain you and simultaneously express my feelings at the same time?

I could talk about working 11 AM – 4 AM at The PureVolume House the entire week of SXSW in Austin, Texas and how it meant not having a life and having 12 emotional breakdowns a day and running around the city and never sleeping and losing 5 pounds from stress and getting a million free t-shirts and liking the experience in the end but being so exhausted and slightly absorbed in the Austin hipster culture more than I need to be, but that would just be obnoxious (see what I did there?).

I could use this post to apologize for not being more consistent in my online presence, but I think that’s just the story of my life at this point.

I could tell you how obsessed I am with any and all Dawes albums, but I’ll just leave this link here to let you discover the love for yourselves.

I could put pictures in this post, but I’ve been lazy with the camera, too- minus using PhotoBooth to test out the 4 pairs of feather earrings I now own (because when I finally embrace a trend, I go head-over-heels).

(brb, flying away now!)

So what’s the thing to talk about?

I think the American Dream is a thorn in my side at this moment.

It’s just, me being unemployed is not quite the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings.

I know it’s only been 3 or so months of not having a job on my end, but there’s days where it’s hard to keep my head up. Not that I’m ready to settle down, but every five minutes I log into Facebook and see that another friend of mine just had a child. Or got a job. Or got a promotion. Or is engaged. And I’m happy for this progress in their lives, don’t get me wrong, but when I’m applying to part-time shifts and my most substantial relationship is the one between my right foot and the gas pedal on my Rav4, it becomes harder and harder to relate. Unemployment hasn’t ruined my life yet, if nothing else, I’m just restless. I bounce between living at my parents’ house (yes, living at home, you have no idea how much pride I just dropped to type that on the internet) and couches of my best friends, but nothing feels permanent. Everything I own is in boxes or suitcases and there’s a little backache from sleeping on weird surfaces that won’t seem to go away. I feel like a gypsy at times, and while this is what my little traveler heart has potentially wished for, there’s still a feeling of being trapped. I can’t just drop everything and hop on the open road, because, for one thing, I’d run out of gas money by about El Paso and secondly, I’m afraid to go too far without the means to support it, friends and family to guide me, and really, a purpose. I’d love to leave Texas in my rearview mirror for a season or two, but it’s so hard to rationalize it when I’m not doing anything to make a paycheck.

I feel like an early-era Bruce Springsteen song or a bad twentysomething-life tv drama, but the white-picket-fence-settle-down-and-have-a-family-and-be-happy dream is so perplexing and challenging to my brain at this moment in time.

Am I supposed to be striving for this at age 21? Would my wild heart be more suited for domestic bliss? Is finding a normal job and normal hours and a normal relationship more secure than trying to somehow get my moccassin-clad foot into the music and media industry’s door?

Well, probably. But then again, being unemployed 3 months after graduating isn’t totally unheard of. My own situation has some sense of normalcy, and everyone I seem to meet says they don’t have this American Dream thing figured out any more than I do, even if they do have a fence and a golden retriever and wear clothing that wasn’t bought at a thrift store and go to meetings with clients and remember important events in their iPhone calendars.

I think my plan is to leave the American Dream on hold and settle for just finding something substantial with a paycheck that I can live in for more than a week, but for now, I do live week-to-week. Rest stop to rest stop. Couch to couch (and sometimes a real bed!). Cup-of-coffee to cup-of-coffee. I say yes to any and all free food offered to me and I celebrate sunny days with my sunroof down. I see old friends when I can, make new friends in the most random places, daydream big and sometimes I even put on a big-girl-outfit for a job interview.  I scan wanted ads and job openings for hours online, apply to a few and hope for the best. I get rejection emails daily saying I’m over qualified, under qualified or that companies just don’t have room for me.

Sometimes I feel a little discouraged, but then I remember that I’ve got a good set of speakers and a car that runs and music that I can press the repeat button on. I’ve got friends that make me laugh and family that loves me and lets me stay with them even when I’m without a job, and most of all, I’m still breathing and walking on my own two feet.

I don’t think unemployment looks good on anyone, but it doesn’t hurt to smile every once in a while, so, I am. Also, if you’re reading this and you need a copy of my resume, I can send it to you faster than you can ask.

(No, seriously. And I’m passionate. And I can start immediately. And I make a mean cup of coffee.)

SERIOUSLY. ANYONE, FEEL FREE TO HIRE ME; TODAY!

I Will Unfollow Your Wedding Board On Pinterest

I went to a wedding for one of my friends this weekend and looked all snazzy with these beautiful people:

(give all of us modeling contracts, plz)

Now, I know that as a single girl, weddings are supposed to make me bitter and hyper-aware of my aloneness, but I’ll be darned if I wasn’t sitting there the whole time with a big grin on my face and possibly tearing up during the vows. Is this progress? A little.

You see, I have a love-hate relationship with weddings. I think they are wonderful and a beautiful picture and celebration of Christ’s love and two people committing themselves to each other, and I also adore a good dance floor, but I try and steer clear of planning my own. I will unfollow your “Wedding <3 <3” board on Pinterest faster than you can say “I do” because I’m afraid of my wild imagination getting ahead of me and looking at perfect wedding ceremony and reception pictures all day then becoming a girl who places so much worth on getting married. It’s not that I don’t want to or that I don’t believe in it, quite the opposite, it’s just that I know it’s so easy for those idealistic dreams to cripple you. I know so many lovely and wonderful single girls who envision their ceremonies for hours and this becomes what they strive after, not their life as an unattached female! They pursue plans that aren’t even in the works yet and then come to the conclusion that getting married will solve every single problem. I mean, I laugh at things like this because they’re true:

But seriously, it’s okay to want to be married. It’s okay to like a certain color scheme or a sweetheart neckline or to occasionally tune into Say Yes To The Dress and chastise the girl for bringing too many bridesmaids with her to the salon (I mean, come on, everyone knows that’s a rookie mistake) but if you’re not engaged yet, don’t get so bogged down in the wedding fever that you can’t see anything else. There is life in being unattached, there is more to plan than what your invitations will look like! It’s so dangerous to place your heart in a situation that it’s not prepared for yet. Pursue the things that matter to you now.

In one of my favorite posts on The Good Women Project, Laura Hill talks about finding purpose in singleness and it shakes me up in the best way. It’s such a challenge to be a little ray of sunshine when people keep asking you about being in a relationship or telling you that your time is ticking before you need to get married (I mean, seriously? Is me not getting married like a bomb going off?) but it’s a challenge that you should accept wholeheartedly. Plus, after a while, pining for a perfect wedding or a picturesque romantic-comedy marriage is just going to leave you feeling empty anyway, and unless Ryan Gosling or George Clooney all of the sudden come to their senses and show up on your doorstep holding a welsh corgi and a bouquet of orchids, it’s pointless anyway. Work on improving your own life, not your future husband’s. Be you, be content, be happy. Don’t be spending hours creating the life you don’t have yet and may never have; love the one you’ve got.

And as for the wedding I went to? Perfectly executed. I mean, if you’re gonna serve breakfast food, I’m going to cheer. If you’re going to give me an excuse to wear 4-inch leopard print platforms, I’m going to celebrate. If you’re going to serve as a great example of a loving Jesus-centered relationship and when you smile at each other the whole crowd melts, I’m going to get excited.

And if by some miracle, you’re going to play Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ as your last song, you better believe I’m going to start screaming and make everyone else do the Boss-snapping, Clarence clapping, saxophone solo and Courtney Cox arm movements with me like a fool on the dance floor.

I mean, come ON, how could I not?! It’s the little things.

It Always Ends Up Being About The Beatles And Jesus

One of my favorite parts of the movie Juno (and yes, it has grown on me and I own the cutesy soundtrack, call me a hipster and be done with it) is when Juno’s talking to her dad and he’s reprimanding her about her pregnancy (oh yeah, sorry, spoiler alert, Juno’s pregnant) and he says, ” I thought you were the kind of girl who knew when to say when. ” Juno pauses for a moment and says, “I don’t really know what kind of girl I am.”

(You can skip to the 1:39 mark if you want to hear the original integrity of said line-)

Anyway, I don’t relate to this line because I am also with child (I’m not! Promise this is not a baby announcement!), but there’s something in the simplicity of that honest sentence that I do relate to.

I know it sounds like a MySpace-era-rant, so forgive me, but I don’t really know what kind of girl I am at this point either.

My interests and time spent is so vast – one minute I’m insisting that I need to watch every single movie on the IMDB Top 250 List (and, for better or worse, I’ve seen quite a lot of them already) and the next I want to sell everything I own and go overseas, pull an Oprah, and open a school in South Africa for orphans and under-privileged youth. My day-to-day life is frustrating, feeling like I matter is frustrating, simply deciding what to do on Friday nights is frustrating.

I struggle to find my voice in writing. I want to translate all these thoughts in my head to something I can put down on paper or something I can type up, but I struggle to wrangle it all together in one category. Half of me loves to craft jokes and puns and dialogue and wishes and hopes to turn that into writing screenplays in the entertainment realm. Half of me loves to write songs and wants to put down feeling and emotion into lyrics and melodies to share with the world. The other half of me wants to write on serious topics and address hurts of the soul with the love and hope I’ve found in Jesus Christ.

(And yes, I realize I used three halves in that last paragraph, but hey, math was never my thing.)

I struggle to know what I want to do career-wise. Applying for jobs is confusing, putting my whole life on one sheet of paper to give to employers baffles me, and in interviews my voice sometimes gets shaky. I just want to do something I can be passionate about, something I can reach others with, even if it’s in the smallest way, and my head spins – either thinking I can do everything, or worse, thinking I can do nothing.

As much as I want to be a stereotype sometimes, I’m not. I’d love to define myself by one or two words, but I shuffle between all of them – struggling musician, sarcastic cold-hearted cynic, girly-girl, i’m-over-it twenty-something, childlike wonder, southerner, music-nut, vagabond, girl-who-takes-everything-too-seriously, girl-who-takes-NOTHING-seriously, party animal, homebody, gossipy teenager, fangirl, foodie, dreamer, hypocritical-christian, happy-go-lucky, sensitive sally, drama donna, negative nancy and about 25 more. In fact, as I was writing this, I sneezed, which caused me to knock over a cup of coffee that proceeded to spill all over my phone, which in turn, made me hit the phone and start my loud Beyoncé ringtone, so you know, I’ve even got the hopelessly-clumsy-romantic-comedy-heroine angle working for me right now. (Ps, don’t even think about stealing that move, Katherine Heigl.)

So, in this great transition of my life, I think about myself a lot, which is actually a pretty lame thing. I worry about not developing into someone successful or not being able to give a witty answer all the time. I worry about being liked, about being defined and it’s all so stupid.

Why do I get caught up in all this? Why do I worry so much?

I’ll admit that I don’t know what kind of girl I am, but I do know that I am loved.

I am loved, and since I am loved, nothing else matters. I am loved by a family that has raised me with care and humor and honesty. I am loved by friends that have made me better, that have celebrated the person I am. Most of all, I am loved by a God who doesn’t let go of me, doesn’t change his affection based on my mistakes, doesn’t desire for me to be anything else but in a relationship with him.

And didn’t the Beatles say it best? All you need is love.

I mean, really, you can call this cheesy, you can tell me that their sentiment is just an empty Hallmark-card-saying, but, all you need is love. Really, that’s all you need. You don’t need to define yourself with anything else. If you know that you are loved, if you can cement that in your mind and lean on that love, you can do anything. It doesn’t matter if sometimes you struggle to find yourself, struggle to find truth, struggle to find what you really want in this life – if you are truly loved, those struggles aren’t the end.

I don’t know if John Lennon and Paul McCartney had Jesus in mind when they wrote it and I certainly don’t think they had a big-haired big-mouthed blog-writing girl in mind when they wrote it- but – call me a hippie, call me idealistic, call me the one that too often makes song lyrics a mantra about Jesus, but, all you need is love. Love is all you need.

After all, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

And really, (WARNING: embarassingly-bad pun ahead) what’s not to love about that?

A Letter To My 18-Year-Old Self

dear 18-year-old self,

hi, i’m about to graduate in 5 hours and you haven’t even entered it yet. get ready.

i know you’re scared of college, i know it doesn’t make sense yet and i know it’s not exciting yet, but it will be. you’re going to learn A LOT in the next 4 years (spoiler alert: it’ll actually only take you 3 and 1/2 and you’ll wonder why you graduated early) but i just wanted to share a little advice with you before you enter the greatest university in the world (go bobcats!!!).

based on what i have learned in these college years, here’s some wise words and Advice from me to you:

buy someone a drink. coffee or alcoholic. when they’re having a bad day, when you’re feeling generous, or both. this is the simplest thing to do but it is the easiest gesture to just spread a little love. pay for the person behind you in line. offer a refill. this is a good thing.

stay up all night just to appreciate sleep.

go on a road trip. see things you’ve never seen, even if they’re only 15 minutes away.

stop being so cynical of love. you’re going to heal, you’re going to get back on that horse. i know that you still want to make sarcastic comments anytime anyone enters a relationship but you’ve gotta refrain. you’re gonna get over it. you’re gonna listen to a lot of adele and some nights you’re gonna cry, but you’re gonna become a better woman from all this and more that anything, you’re gonna laugh about it in the end.

PICK UP THE GUITAR IN YOUR CLOSET AND ACTUALLY LEARN IT. also, think about finding a ukulele. trust me.

offer to drive everyone. make playlists for the car. don’t overlook how much bonding is going to take place just driving around your small college town.

make cookies. learn that cookies take almost no time or effort to make, but they are secret code for caring.  LEARN THIS EARLY and then make them often, make a lot of them and give them to your friends. no reason needed.

i know it seems stupid right now, self, but you’re gonna get really into fashion and you’re gonna have a heart for it and you’re gonna find a style that suits you and looks good. just trust me on this one. embrace the fact that you love leopard print and vintage 1960s looks and go with it. also, thrift stores will be your new home, so bring febreeze.

try not to be so dramatic. keyword: try.

you’re gonna watch a heck of a lot of good tv. don’t let anyone tell you that this is a waste, because certain episodes are going to bring you to tears and you’re gonna realize that that’s what you wanna do with your life. you’re gonna make a best friendship cemented with buffy the vampire slayer. you’re gonna marvel at mad men and be blown away by the heart and simplicity of pushing daisies. share these with other people and watch episodes together and all fall in love with the artform of visual media.

take pictures!!!! take a million pictures! TAKE SO MANY PICTURES -but don’t get lost in the nostalgia of them. appreciate the memories but don’t get stuck trying to relive them. the past can hurt if you try and stay in it. always be moving forward, always look for new little places and people to give your heart to and share your life with.

call your mom. you’re gonna grow so close to her. she understands that a spoonful of nutella counts as a meal. she understands that growing up is hard. she knows what to say and when to listen and when to pray.

call your dad. he’s gonna teach you how to fix a flat tire and a broken heart.

call your brother and grandparents. they’ll always have a good story to tell and a good restaurant recommendation.

don’t worry so much.

everyone’s gonna get on you about dating and at family gatherings everyone will ask if you have a boyfriend. just smile at them politely. i know you want to punch them, but please, smile.

and whenever you get sad, just switch decades and go live in the 60s and 70s for a little while. play soul music and old country and psychedelic tunes and dance in your room till it gets better. let jimi’s guitar solos speak when you can’t, let sam cooke cheer you up with that divine voice of his and let john, paul, george & ringo continue to sing you to sleep.

keep writing songs, please. keep writing them and singing them even if no one hears them. maybe let someone hear one. and then two people. and then three. and before you know it, you’ll be strumming them in a coffee shop with your best friend adding harmonies. ps, you’re gonna grow so much from this.

don’t be so negative on the internet. don’t vent. use the internet as a place of creativity and humor and connection.

smile at people you don’t know. it’ll freak them out a little, but what’s not fun about that?

go play. go be outside and run around and do cartwheels in the sunshine. build blanket forts and eat candy.  you don’t have to grow up just yet.

pray, read your bible, talk to people about jesus. seek him when it’s not going right, cry to him when it’s not fair and tell him everything you need. don’t let loneliness creep in; remember that you are loved.

you’re going to live with some wonderful ladies who make college apartments feel like one big sleepover. cherish this even when yall get on each other’s nerves. reconcile by making breakfast and going shopping and getting manicures and watching chick flicks, because it is perfectly okay to be a girl and be feminine and sometimes spend too much time talking about ryan gosling and shoes. embrace those x chromosomes.

guess what? get ready for the greatest men in the world to enter your life! you’re gonna find boys who teach you what you want and they’re gonna respect you and make you feel pretty and loved even without saying anything. you’re gonna be the luckiest, most envied lady for all the great guy friends you have in your life. appreciate this and love them back.

go to that stupid freshman year seminar that has that speaker who you’ve never heard of and look for the boy who’s messing with the zebra phone case. i know that looking back it will be embarrassing when you tell him within the first five minutes of meeting that you two will be best friends someday, but trust your instincts. and get ready for the best friend of your little life.

and you know what? even though sometimes your feelings are messy and undecided and up-in-the-air, don’t be afraid to share them.

oh, and don’t forget that no one looks good in that silly hat, but the least you can do is add a little pizazz to it.

(and don’t worry, your hair’s still big in the future.)

love,

your 21-year-old ready-to-take-on-the-world-but-not-really blessed-with-the-greatest-friends-in-the-world self

My Two Cents on The Big C

Kevin posted something a lot like this entry HERE, and I actually have him to thank for even getting me on my Springsteen kick, PLUS, his post is a lot more put together and lovely, so I suggest reading it instead, ha, but I have had this post sitting in my drafts for too long and needed to hit publish! SO, onward-

I know this is late and lame, but I have to say a little something.

I’m not a seasoned rock and roll music critic and there are plenty of people that know more about Bruce Springsteen than I. However, Clarence Clemons was my favorite member of the E Street Band and I got to see him twice live on two different tours.

Put simply, the man was amazing. My concertmates and I were on the front row both times, but it was clear that from any place in the arena, you could just feel the energy from this enormous man; all his laughs and smiles and dances were such a joy. He wailed that saxophone almost like it was a weapon, and his parts of the song were always electric. He just had this fire, ya know?! We cupped our fingers and held up C’s with our hands through Born to Run and Livin’ In The Future and Badlands and most of all, JUNGLELAND (!) and he saw them and let out this enormous grin and I couldn’t help but grin as well. It was infectious. He loved what he did, he loved making music, and for those two nights, we got to send him a little love back.

He and Bruce were in sync at those two shows, which are only, of course, two tiny snapshots of forty or so years of friendship, playing in a band, surviving a band breakup and coming back to tour- all to make great music together. This band’s ‘legacy’ or whatever you want to call it is so much bigger than me, bigger than a fanbase, bigger than a few (great) records. I don’t know any of my favorite musicians personally, but if I had the right stationery to send to the Big Man, (and his address in Saxophone Heaven) I’d have to pen a thank you for the music that provided the soundtrack to me growing up. The music that I could listen to on both sunny days and dark nights. The songs that stuck with me and seemed to resonate like no other. The songs that made me dance and wanna shove the accelerator on my car hard and just GO with them! The songs that I could drop my turntable needle onto, skip my cd towards and shuffle my ipod with and it would just fill me with that little musical spike-happiness-feeling when you realize something is wonderful.

So thank you, Big Man. It might take me a while to tell people why I love you and they might still cock their head when I list you in my favorite musicians.

I didn’t grow up in Jersey.

I didn’t go to years and years of shows.

Being only 20, I didn’t get to see you back when the magic began.

So, I know you mean a lot of things to a lot of people and nothing to some people, but you gave this blonde-haired wide-eyed girl who stumbled upon a now-lifelong love for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band a bunch of songs that she’ll never get over or tired of.

And if I get a little misty or this big grin on my face when I hear a sax solo, you can be sure it’s because my heart’s still happy from hearing the Biggest Man in the world show me how it’s done firsthand.

(Photos provided by the lovely, wonderful Katie Darcy, as taken at the greatest concert of my life!)