Monday, October 31, 2011

The Importance of Scars

At some point in my life I will have a mid-life crisis.  At least that’s what I’ve heard.  It happens to everyone at some point.

Right now I have more of a “mid-quarter” crisis.  I’ve hit a funny spot in my college career where I’m always tired, less motivated than before, and ready to take a vacation.  Not to mention everyone seems to be asking, am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and am I really meant to be here

There’s no doubt I still want to write, I’m just waiting to get all of my freshman classes out of the way so I can take something that teaches me what I need to learn.  Writing a blog is what keeps my creativity flowing—it’s the true practice I get.  At this point I’m doing a better job preparing myself than my classes are. 

(Disclaimer:  I promise I’m learning something.  Just not about what I’m most passionate about.) 

Lately I’ve been talking to various friends who are worried about their future.  And I am more than willing to hear them out.  If any of my friends need a good cry they can come to me, because I’ve been there many times before. 

“Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.”
~Albert Smith

There were three of us in my room last night, talking about our fears, hearing each other out, and allowing tears come every once in a while. 

But, being as distracted as I am, I often stray from the conversation at hand.  I asked one of my friends where she got a scar and before I knew it all of us were comparing scars and sharing stories.

You learn some crazy things about people when you talk about scars.  And we only covered the ones on the outside.  It really got me thinking about how many scars people must hold on the inside that I don’t even see, and I’ll never know about them unless they tell me.

And then I kept thinking.  Regardless of where we came from, we find common ground in the things that hurt most.  No matter how I feel about my classes, the weather, or the cafeteria food, the people here will influence me in more ways than I can currently imagine.     

Right now I have all my closest friends in one spot and, through learning more about them, I get the opportunity to learn more about myself.    

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Struggle Bus

More than a year ago I was in Pennsylvania previewing Grove City College.  It was my second choice at the time, SPU was my first, but I was fairly interested since I would be only an hour and a half from my grandparents if I needed somewhere to stay during the weekend. 

I was visiting with my Dad and when we stopped by the admissions office for some information there was hot chocolate available for the taking.  I helped myself to some immediately since it was rather chilly and rainy. 

After we left and begin to walk around campus I tripped slightly and spilled some hot chocolate on my hand.  A few steps later I did the same thing again.

“Man, I’m riding the struggle bus today.”

My Dad looked over me and said, “What in the world are you talking about?”

“I’m riding the struggle bus, Dad.  As in I’m struggling today and riding the struggle bus, you know?”

“No.”  He laughed.  “I’ve never heard of that saying in my entire life.”

Apparently no one at SPU has either.

Whenever I say it everyone asks for me to repeat it, since they have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. 

I guess I assumed it was something that everyone knew.

By the end of the year everyone will know what I'm talking about because I’m going to continue to say it no matter how ridiculous it may sound.

For now, it’ll just have to be my signature thing here, and maybe someday it will catch on.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Reward of Chocolate

I had my second midterm this morning.  My first one last night was for art and I’m pretty sure I did just fine.  

I was a much more worried about the midterm this morning.  

It was for my freshman film class.  It’s a USEM, which means I chose to take it because I was interested in the topic, even though I hadn’t ever considered majoring in film production. 

Turns out it’s the hardest class I have this semester. 

I made myself a huge study guide, I studied with my friends, I reread sections of the book, and went over all my in class notes.  I studied until my eyes were crossed and I couldn’t anymore.

I studied so much I couldn’t even sleep last night.  I ended up lying awake until almost 2 in the morning, which isn’t that surprising because that’s about the time I go to bed on a normal night anyway…oh college. 

When my alarm went off I was up immediately.  I knew I couldn’t dress too casual, but also not too fancy.  If I dressed too casual I would be tempted to fall asleep.  My idea of extremely casual is a hoodie and sweats/pajama pants, which really gets my body in the mood to shut off and take a nap.  I also couldn’t dress too nicely because, first of all, I did yesterday, and secondly, I wouldn’t be comfortable at all. 

Thus, I found a perfect “happy medium.”

I pulled out my favorite pair of jeans, my Sperry’s (best shoes ever), and a sweater that I kidnapped from my Mom.  She doesn’t ever wear it and I do, so I figured it was only fair.  It’s actually one of the best things I have in my closest.  It would easily fit into the “ugly-sweater” category, but I love it too much to consider it as such. 

Throughout breakfast I was going over facts once more, and trying to mentally prepare myself for the test.  I wasn’t doing too well.  I continued to get more and more tense until I felt like my brain was detached from my head… I don’t really know how else to explain it, but it wasn’t a good feeling.

By the time I got to the room where I would take my test, someone could have pushed me over and I would have toppled like a chopped down tree.  I was that tense.

And here’s the weird thing.  Never before in my life had I EVER been that nervous for a test.  I think it was partially due to the fact I had no idea what to expect and I didn’t know if I had studied for it right.  Plus there was a ton of information I had to remember and I didn’t know if I remembered any of it. 

My professor handed out the test and I began immediately.  There were no multiple-choice questions and no matching questions—we had to write everything.  He gave us ten terms and we had to define all of them through writing and then write an essay at the end.  I was partially peeved…picking only ten people/movies out of the dozens we had learned about didn’t make me feel like my comprehension on the first half of the quarter was being fully tested.  

In a way I wanted to be really mad about it, but I quickly shoved those feelings aside.  Feelings don’t have a place when it comes to a test.  If anything they make things worse.

I finished right on time and I felt like I had neglected discussing a few minor details, but overall I felt good that I was finished.  And I wasn’t mad at my professor anymore for making us write everything because half way through the test he walked around the room and handed each of us a fun-sized, dark-chocolate, Hershey bar.

If you don’t know me well, you need to know right now that I love dark chocolate.  I usually refuse to eat Hershey chocolate unless it's dark, and I was immediately appeased by my professor’s kind gesture.

On any other day I would have saved the chocolate for later, or maybe eaten only ½ of it.

Today I ate all of it.

I had successfully made it through my second midterm (my first official midterm in my opinion) and nothing was going to stop me from devouring it.

By the time my second class started, it was gone.

And I don’t regret it one bit.  

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The air is chilly, the time round noon
Alone I sit inside my room
Breathing the air of fall
Through a cracked-open window.

My homespun thoughts weave in my head
Thoughts of hope (and thoughts of dread)
Things I’d like release from my hand
And blow into the wind.

The falling leaves touch the ground
Hitting the pavement without a sound
And I watch them,
Dreaming of Colorado. 

Today is here, the sky is blue
A time of year when my feelings are new,
Yet the world is dying away
And preparing for winter.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Just Want a Steak

When I previewed SPU and ate at Gwinn the food was good, and I didn’t mind eating it. 

Here’s why: on preview weekends the food is always better to make a good impression on potential students.

Now that I’ve eaten in Gwinn every day I don’t think it’s very good anymore.  In fact, every time the scent of Gwinn crosses my nose as I walk in, I want to turn around and walk right back out. 

A couple of my friends work there and they tell me what not to eat.  I’ll never touch any of the hamburgers again.  I’m pretty much wary about any meat they serve because none of it seems to be cooked right. 

When I escaped the SPU campus a few weekends ago, I had the one of the greatest meals I’ve ever eaten.

It was home-cooked and spectacular.  (I also had the chance to eat a fresh peach, which was like finding gold since I hadn’t eaten one, much less seen one since I was in CO.)  The friend I was visiting couldn’t understand why I was so excited and happy.  “You will understand when you have to eat college food all the time,” I told her.  “You’ll miss the food your parents make.”

Not only do I miss my family, or my best friends from high school, I miss eating the amazing food my Mom (and occasionally my Dad) cooked.  The first night I’m home for break will be the greatest ever.  I’ll have my family and I’ll have real food. 

Right now I would give anything to have a well-done, seasoned, steak.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Truth About Fire Trucks

There’s something about fire trucks that get children really excited.  Perhaps it’s the flashing lights or the blaring sirens, or the honking of the horn.  Maybe it’s just the color red that catches their attention.

My brother had a fire truck birthday party one year, which all of us thought was the greatest thing ever.  My Mom and Dad transformed a giant refrigerator box into a fire truck and we pretended to drive it around while screaming siren noises.  We became heroes in our own minds as we rescued people and put out fires.      

I don’t know if any child truly knows what a fire truck stands for, but I can remember the first time I realized what it was all about. 

My Dad, brother, and I were in the car one day driving through the neighborhood and I spotted smoke on the horizon.  “Daddy, there’s a fire,” I said.  He told me that, no, it wasn’t a fire, it was just smoke from a grill.  But I continued to insist that it was a fire and he drove us through the neighborhood until we reached a house that was engulfed in flames.

We got out of the car and stood along the other side of the street while we watched the house burn.  I can’t remember exactly how I felt but I did realize that there was no fire truck in sight.  My Dad and several other people were calling 911 and requesting help. 

I must have been 6 or so and I had never seen anything so real in my entire life.  The fire truck didn’t get there in time and there wasn’t much left of the house.  No one was hurt, but everything was gone. 

After that I went through a stage where I was paranoid about my house catching fire and burning to the ground.  I was most concerned about having my stuffed turtle, pet goldfish or dog get lost in the fire.  At some point it also crossed my mind that I could lose someone in my family…

If the fire truck doesn’t get there in time when someone is in the house, then what happens?  I started saying prayers whenever I heard sirens.  I wanted everyone to be ok.  It was still exciting to see a fire truck, but at the same time I knew what was on the other side.  Someone could be really hurt.  Whether it’s a car accident, a fire or other mishap, someone could die.

As soon as I started driving with a permit when I was 15 I would always get out of the way of a fire truck or ambulance as soon as I heard one.  Even if it was driving on the other side of the road I would pull over.  That’s what you were supposed to do, and everyone did it.  In Colorado it was fairly easy for emergency vehicles to get around quickly, and no matter where I was, no matter the time, the sound of sirens would diminish as soon as I heard them.

That’s not how it works here.  Once I hear sirens it seems like they go on forever.  This is partially due to the fact that the roads are small and hard to drive through in many places, but it is also due to the fact that people don’t get out of the way.  One of my friends was expressing her frustration at this the other day.  She told me, “People in Seattle don’t get out of the way like they should.  I can’t stand it.” 

I can’t either.  Granted, there is traffic because I live in a packed-in city but I want people to make the effort—there is someone on the other side that needs help. 

I would like to have a kids’ view of fire trucks again.  They see it as someone rushing to the rescue, which is true (I admire firemen greatly), but in the back of my mind I can’t help wondering who is hurt.  I want to believe that a fire truck always represents safety, but I can’t quite do that anymore.

This past summer when I was visiting Ohio I saw smoke on the horizon.

Here is what I wrote: 

Something is burning
On the horizon,
Black clouds of smoke
Permeate the blue
In sky, and I am
Sitting in my car
Watching through the
Window, from a distance
While someone is
Surely someone is
Screaming, while
I watch (unfeeling)
The burning sky.


I might be doing ok, but there’s always someone who isn’t. 

This is reality.

And I just want to be the girl at the fire truck party.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Major in Doodling

People ask me what my favorite class is (a lot).

I’m going to be honest.  I don’t have one.

All of them are on the same level.  Some days a certain class will be better than my other two.  Or sometimes one of my classes will be so boring that they other two are immediately better. 

It really just depends.  I like what I’m learning and I’ve learned a lot, but there’s not one class that really stands out above the others as my “favorite”. 

In my classes I tend to be a pretty good note-taker.

But I’m also a really good doodler—if I zone out my notebook paper will transform into all kinds of things. 

I’ve been like this my whole life and I think I get it from my Mom.  When I was a kid, I used to watch her doodle on a notepad while she talked on the phone.  She would draw all kinds of shapes in different ways—she was unconsciously a professional doodler.  Just because she doodled while she was on the phone didn’t mean she wasn’t listening to what the other person said, she just liked to doodle.

Now I'm exactly like her because that’s what I love to do…in class.  I had this idea that all my notes would be organized and wonderful and easy to read in college.  For the most part they are, but the margins tend to be lined with little drawings all the way up and down. 

I draw whatever I want.  Random squiggly lines, clouds, flowers, birds… I even drew the Colorado flag and colored it in.  I carry around a set of 10 Crayola skinny markers all the time.  They are a blessing and a curse in the sense that they are great for underlining things, but they are also great for coloring.  And I’ve definitely taken to coloring with them a lot more than I should. 

Today I drew a super man symbol.  It wasn’t my idea.  My teacher brought up a picture on his slideshow that reminded me of superman, so it was his idea, and I drew it.

It’s funny how things work.  I have a drawing class and when I’m in that class I don’t feel like drawing a thing, but I enjoying drawing and doodling in my other classes. 

Too bad there’s not a Doodling major.

But then again, if there were, I would have graduated long ago.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011


As of yesterday I have a personal relationship with my printer. 

At 8:40am I remembered I needed to print some questions before I left for class.  I pulled the document up and selected “print”.

This terrible choking/grinding noise came from my printer and a message popped up saying “Error.  Paper jammed. Code 5623”.  My brain, on the other hand, played a message more like this: Right before class too, right when I need you, you poop out on me!  Please work, please please! Come onnnnn. 

Since I was pressed for time, I emailed my questions to my roommate and she printed them for me.

I forgot about my distressed printer until I walked into my room later that afternoon.  There it was, sitting on my desk, not looking too happy.  I didn’t even know what was really wrong with it since I hadn’t seen any jammed paper no matter what I had pulled out or opened that morning. 

I pulled out the printer manual and turned to page 11.  Troubleshooting.

Once more I opened the same compartments I had before, and pulled out the same trays.  Nothing.  I continued to turn the printer off and on, unplug all of the chords, open and close compartments, pull and push everything several times with no trace of any jammed paper.  Every time the same error message popped up.

This must have gone on for 10 minutes.  There were other people conversing with each other in my room but I was totally oblivious to anything they said.  I just wanted to fix my dang printer!

Looking back down at the manual I spotted a URL.  Why not fix broken technology via other technology, right? 

The site came up soon enough, and I selected my printer type and then clicked on the error code that the printer had given me repeatedly.

It told me the same things as the useless manual, which I ignored, and I continued to scroll down until I came to a picture that pointed out directly what I needed to see.  The whole time I had been looking in the wrong spot.  I hadn’t bothered to physically pick the printer up.  When I did, I opened the compartment in the back and peered directly into the face of the problem.   

There, jammed between the rollers, was a white sheet of paper. 

After much coaxing and tugging, I removed all the piece of paper from my printer, which, by then, had turned into several pieces of paper. 


I knew right then that I needed to name him.

I Googled “names that mean troublemaker”.  Various names came up, but when I read “Dwight” it fit perfectly.

So my printer is officially named Dwight and now that I fixed him he's not causing as much trouble.

Perhaps he just wanted a name all along.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Representing the 303

I’ve played a lot of “getting to know you” games since my first day of college.

During one of these games people sit in a circle and take turns saying something random about themselves. 

Most of the time I say, “I was born in Holland” because that answer is simple. 

I decided recently I have a new random fact.

I love getting mail. 

I love getting mail so much that I’ve contemplated mailing letters to myself just so I could have something in my mailbox.  I suppose everyone loves getting mail though, especially in college.  But I truly get excited when I get a letter from someone.  Anyone. 

I don’t write letters to myself (I don’t have time), but on occasion I buy something online if it is reasonably priced.  And if I know I’m going to use it.

Most recently I bought a 3’x5’ Colorado flag on Amazon for $6.  The price included shipping so I thought it was a pretty good deal considering it was coming all the way from New Hampshire. 

I was rather curious why a guy in New Hampshire had a Colorado flag, but at least he was going to let me have it. 

When I bought it I was super excited, and then I forgot about it because I knew I had to wait for it to be shipped across the country.

Then today I got an email notifying me that it had arrived.

I booked it out of my room down to the mailroom.  It’s a nice walk across campus, which I don’t mind doing.  There’s only one thing that annoys me about the mailroom and it’s the fact that I’m left handed.  When I have to the sign to receive my package the people working in the mailroom always hand me the stylus and scanner as if I was right-handed.  This causes me to always cross my arms in an awkward fashion to take it so that I can sign with my left hand.  I guess it’s only fair they do it that way since most people are right-handed. 

When I got back to my room I immediately opened the box and pulled out a wonderful, new, folded Colorado flag.  It smelled slightly of fish…but I don’t really want to know why.

Now it is pinned to the ceiling above my bed so I can see it every night.

It’s about time I represented where I’m from.  

CO flag in place... 
(On the left side of the picture is the plant I wrote about in The Wisdom of Water)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sweet Dreams

If I go to bed at a reasonable hour, the sun rises in New York while I’m asleep.

The East coast greets the day, and the West coast says goodnight.  Granted, Hawaii and Alaska are even further west than the coast, but Seattle has some of the last people to say goodnight on the mainland.     

And now I’m one of them.

When I was in Colorado I was always stuck in the middle.  Someone was always sleeping or always awake when I went to bed.

Now, by the time I settle in, the rest of the US is already tucked away and dreaming.

I think this plays a huge part in coastal personalities.  In general it seems like the people on the East coast are more up tight—it’s because they have to start off the day on a good note. They have to get it right for the rest of us. 

On the West coast, throughout Washington, Oregon, and California, the day is already started and determined by various events.  All we have to do is close the door, which makes us more easy-going.  As long as we sleep well, we’re alright. 

The only thing we have to do is say sweet dreams just as New York is about to wake up and stretch its arms.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Psychology of a Band-Aid

After working with preschoolers for nearly a year, and babysitting on dozens of occasions, I could tell you the best cure for a scratch or boo-boo is a Band-Aid.

It doesn’t matter if it’s plain or has Mickey Mouse on it or Scooby Doo.

It just needs to be a Band-Aid.

It doesn’t even matter if they’re bleeding or not.

They’re still going to want a Band-Aid.

It makes them feel better and it reassures them that they’re going to be ok.

Whoever invented the Band-Aid was a genius. He created a common psychological necessity that will never go out of style.

I remember going through the same stage when I was a kid but now I’m in at place in my life where a Band-Aid doesn’t work as well anymore.

There’s not a Band-Aid for homesickness or lack of sleep or I have no motivation to do any homework whatsoever.

Truth is, nothing is ever going to be as easy as it was before.

But I can still go out and buy some Band-Aids no matter what.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chair Paranoia

SPU has some pretty nifty chairs.

Chairs that swivel from side to side, chairs with bendy backs, chairs with mini-desks that sometimes fold down… you name it; we probably have it somewhere on campus. (Except massage chairs—I don’t think we have any of those.)

Discovering these chairs the first week of school was an exciting time of self-discovery. I’m left handed but now I know that I like my chair-desk to be on my right. Because knowing that is essential to my happiness, obviously.

The chairs with the bendy backs are probably my favorite. If I need to stretch I just bend alllll the way back and hope I don’t smash into someone behind me.

However, considering how many pros there are for these chairs, there is going to be something wrong with them. This con happens to come in the form of one word.


Chairs are great if they can swivel and bend backwards, unless they get squeaky.

The first day of school I sat down in English, and placed all of my books on my mini-desk. After the teacher started talking I realized my need to stretch and bent my chair back with a SQUEEEEAAAAAK. I sat upright and the chair bounced back to its normal position. The rest of class I tried not to move at all. I didn’t want to my chair to interrupt again.

How embarrassing.

This happens to the swivel chairs as well. It happens to pretty much any chair that can move. If the professor is boring the class it’s rather easy to tell because everyone starts moving and creating a cacophony of squeaks.

I don’t know what’s worse. Having a chair that can’t move and trying to keep myself awake, or having a chair that can move and not being able to move it.

It seems this has developed into a mild case of chair paranoia.

I never know what kind of chair I’m going to get.

But I’m not going to risk looking like an idiot while testing every single chair, so I just have to pick one and hope for the best.