it’s real, the pain you feel.

Well hey there, WordPress, it’s been a while.  Mostly because for a while, I was writing things that weren’t blog posts, but lately, it’s because I haven’t been writing ANYTHING.  (PS: Writer’s block sucks.  It is quite possibly the worst thing for a writer, ever.)  I’m hoping a blog post will get the creative juices flowing again.  I’ll let you know if it works.

I’ve had an idea of what to write for a while now, but again, never got around to it (obviously).  I was thinking about college and graduate school a while back, and how, just after my dad died, I kept thinking about how I had to finish college because it would have made him so proud, and how proud it would make my mom and family and everything, but mostly my dead father.  Who could care less because he’s dead.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  I had some vague notion of “honoring his memory” by finishing college and finishing it well, with good grades and all that, when really, it isn’t about my dad.  It never was.  It was me not realizing that I could finish college and make good grades and graduate with honors because I wanted to.  Because I wanted to prove not only to other people but most of all to myself that I’m capable of that.  That I’m capable of what I never did in high school because I was lazy, and that I’m capable of hard work and the benefits of said hard work, and I succeeded.

By the end of my time at Montevallo, I wasn’t thinking, “Wow, Dad would be so proud of me.”  Well, I did sometimes, of course I always had my “what would Dad think of me now?” in the back of my mind, I’m sure I always will to some extent.  But most of the time, it was, “I’m proud of me.”  It was no longer about carrying on a legacy.  In college, I was proud of the woman I’d become.  I was happy that I could be a hard-working student with a knack for writing and putting in the effort that my professors appreciated, but also make time for watching entire series with my roommate, and going home on the weekends and seeing my family and enjoying my free time (or sometimes, making free time when I didn’t really have it, but hey, I did fine, didn’t I?).

And with graduation, I heard so much of, “Your dad would be so proud of you,” sometimes with an ‘is’ instead of a ‘would be’ – you know, the expected.  And that’s great.  I agree, he would be.  My still-alive family is, but most importantly, I am.  I used to be afraid of seeming like I was bragging about having graduated.  But my friend Ali once said something to the extent of being proud is nothing to be ashamed of because it IS a big accomplishment.  So, there it is – I am proud of me!  Of my accomplishments and my perseverance and my overall strength (because let’s face it – sometimes I’m not really strong, at all, but overall, yeah, I think I am a pretty strong person) and my good qualities!

***

So, that brings me to Part II, and I guess the meat, of this post: grad school, or lack thereof.

I, like an idiot, only applied to one grad school, and what’s considered an elite one at that.  And, spoilers if you didn’t know: I didn’t get in.  I have the grades, but for whatever reason, they didn’t accept me, and I think a large part of that is lack of experience (but I have yet to find out what got me booted out of the acceptance pool).  And coming to terms with that has been, and remains to be, really, really hard.  I should have applied to more so that surely SOME kind of acceptance would come and I wouldn’t be really soul-crushed like I am right now.

Actually, I’ve fallen into a big rut with being rejected from the only place I applied to, and why I didn’t apply to more than one haunts me daily.  Every time I put on my work uniform, I hate myself for not applying to more than one place.  I was lazy and decided I was so tired of having to deal with the stupid rigorous application that I just left it at the one.  And as a result, I dug my own Unhappiness For At Least One More Year grave.  Which is not necessarily true.  I COULD get a job at a local library (and have the possibility on the horizon, but haven’t gotten a callback from the interview yet) and love it and get paid better and it challenge me intellectually and not be completely unhappy with my life.  But as I see it, it’s just stagnating.

It’s no secret that retail is crummy.  You get to deal with people who act like the world must stop for them and complain to corporate about dumb crap and who act like the smallest mistake is the biggest deal in the whole world.  You get to deal with ten-year-olds speaking condescendingly to you and bossing you around, because guess what?  THEY are the customer.  You get to ask the same questions over and over and pretend to give even half a crap about complete strangers’ problems while dreaming of handling old documents in an archives department or even just shelving books, for god’s sake.  Repeat ad infinitum.  I have an infinite number of stupid mistakes I make at work, simply because I’ve turned my brain off.  Retail isn’t the type of work that really requires a lot of critical thinking.

Recently, my coworkers have gotten each other into this show called Weeds, you’ve probably heard about it in some fashion, and Nancy, the main character, says this about working as a manager of a maternity clothes store:

I wake up in the morning, get dressed, drive myself to work, put on a name tag, take my brain out of my skull and place it in a drawer. I spend the next nine hours staring at people, pretending to be interested in their happiness, tolerating the company of my co-workers, staring at the clock. At the end of the day I take my name tag off, open the drawer, reach for my brain, plop it back inside, walk to the employee parking lot and drive myself home. And it’s really, really boring. And it looks like I’m gonna be doing it for a long, long time.

That sums up my feelings on retail, too, and of the pit a combination of my own poor decisions, a sinking global economy, and bad luck I’m currently stuck in (preposition at the end of a sentence aside).

But it’s a job.  It pays the bills.  I’m grateful for the means to pay my own crap and help with household bills and give back to the woman who’s provided so much for ME all my life.

But at what point is my unhappiness not worth it?  I can’t quit, like that’s just not in the cards, because of bills and hard economic times and all that crap.  And it’s the worst feeling in the world.  Because I’m just stagnating.  I’m not growing intellectually, I’m not being challenged.  I miss college SO MUCH because on a near-daily basis, I was growing intellectually, I was being challenged.  I’ve been reading a lot, and I do have some intelligent coworkers that I have meaningful conversations with, but how much can you talk about interpreting the events of history or what the color red means in a book or whatever, while you’re at work, pretending to care about peoples’ problems and asking repetitive questions that have no significance on your own life at all, over and over again?

Little to none, that’s how much.

And as a result, I can think of no other word to describe me right now other than “stagnating.”  And I’m trying to find my way out of the labyrinth of suffering, and the solution isn’t forgiveness this time (Looking for Alaska reference), it’s finding a job relevant to my interests and future plans and getting the experience I need to get out of this stupid labyrinth and do something I really love.  And why is that SO hard?  To ‘build character’, whatever that means?  Okay, I get it, I appreciate the plight of the retail worker now.  I respect those I, frankly, already respected (because I’ve never been bitchy to retail employees like people have been bitchy to me and my coworkers, I’ve never chewed somebody out for the stupid crap we get chewed out for).

I think I’m angriest about graduate school because I can’t escape, at least not for a little while longer, unless I get a job in a field I care about (and by god, I’m trying).  So for now I’m just still stagnating, despite all the efforts I’ve made to try and intellectually grow.  I’m having panic attacks often because of customers, and you know what pisses me off the most about it?  Nobody takes it seriously.  Tough shit if you have social anxiety and withdrawal but are forced to deal with people who think their problems are the end of the world.  Tough shit if you have a mental breakdown over a customer whose infirmities remind you of your dying father.  Nobody takes it seriously because you’re just a worker in a company whose goal is to make money and you can be replaced.  And that’s the way of the world, yes, I get it, I understand that and the corporate machine and capitalism and I’m not looking for coddling or lullabies or a band-aid or whatever – I’m just looking for something that challenges me in a non-psychologically-damaging way.  And it’s hard to find.

And you know what would do that?  GRADUATE SCHOOL.  But because of poor decision-making and bad luck and a sinking global economy, I can’t achieve that goal just yet.  What’s the point of being proud of my accomplishments if they aren’t getting me anywhere?

So, I don’t really know what the point of this post morphed into.  I guess that life’s hard, wah wah, cry more.  But I’m allowed to be disappointed with things in my life that I can’t change on a larger scheme at the moment, whether for lack of money or lack of opportunity.  And I’m allowed to express these in a blog post that nobody has to read if they find me whiny or whatever.

But I AM trying to find my own way back into using my brain.  Falling from the cloud of “wow college is awesome” onto the pavement of “wow the real world sucks” has really given me an idea of what I DON’T want to do for the rest of my life.

Now, I’ve just go to try my best and take every opportunity that’s offered and get out of the labyrinth of suffering and of not using my brain as much as I can with being broke.  The ball’s sort of not really but still kind of if you turn your head and squint your eyes in my court now.  It’s time to keep trying to do something about it, because what else CAN I do?

I’m not saying I’m unhappy with every aspect of my life right now.  I have plenty of things that I enjoy and look forward to, and things could be a lot worse.  Before you call me whiny, know that I do appreciate the things I have.  I have a lot of amazing people in my life who make things not-completely-horrible.  Things could be so much worse, yes, I know this.  In some ways I AM privileged (though tumblr has made me really start to even hate that word).  I get it, I do.  I could just be a lot happier in ways I know are doable, I just have to achieve those things, and as I said, the ball is not always in MY court.

On a good note, though, I’ve finally got an idea for a tattoo for my dad.  It’s about time, too.

(Sidenote: WordPress’s new layout SUCKS, seriously, way to make your blogging site much harder to use and, oh I dunno, BLOG with??  Seriously, ew.)

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circus girl without a safety net

Go, go, go, go now, out of the nest it’s time
Go, go, go now circus girl without a safety net
Here, here now, don’t cry
You raised your hand for the assignment
Tuck those ribbons under your helmet, be a good soldier.
First my left foot, then my right behind the other—

-Tori Amos, “Mother”

***

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a bookworm and I’ve loved to write.  I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember and often used to go Young Authors’ Conferences to share my oh-so-thrilling tales of cats or NASCAR or whatever I used to write about.  I still write stories often (as in, I have a ton of notebooks filled and many files that I’ll never get the guts to publish sitting on the hard drives of every computer I’ve ever owned or used), and I don’t think I’ll ever not write.  When I was a kid I narrated my life in my head—“She turned on her heel and angrily stomped down the hall of her middle school as she left her friend to think over the note she’d written,” etc., which seems weird, but I’m sure someone else has done this before.  Maybe you’ve even done it.  I certainly won’t judge you if you have, because I catch myself doing it even now if I’ve been reading a lot.

But because of this, I’ve kind of always thought of my life in chapters.  Not specifically most of the time, but when I’ve had a drastic life change or even just a traditional shift toward something else, I’ve thought of it as “one chapter ending, another beginning”—kind of similar to the “when one door closes, another opens” proverb, just with books, in a language I’m incredibly familiar with.  It gets confusing, though, when chapters can start within chapters.  Within the overarching chapter of my four-year experience in a challenging, college-oriented high school were chapters of friendships, relationships, and events all of their own; my dad’s illness could have been a chapter all in itself but not only falls under the high school umbrella, but the summer between high school and college and then the beginning of the college chapter.  Even the after-effects of his death carry over to today.  It’s hard to determine where chapters begin and end, and that’s why this system is a little flawed and why I don’t restrict myself to it.

I’ve always felt like my life was pretty textbook, even though experiences make people all different.  But as far as experiences I’ve had, I don’t know if my life would make a great movie.  I mean, it’s got all the makings of Hollywood films these days—drama, romance, adventures (small ones but adventures nonetheless), tragedy, overcoming tragedy and ending in success.  But the story isn’t over.  Now, as I start my graduate school journey (which, admittedly, I should have started back in December, but too late to change that), I look forward to a new chapter.  But where should it begin?

If I get into Chapel Hill up in North Carolina—my number one, dream-grad school choice, I will be, of course, moving up to North Carolina and living with my aunt.  I’ve been reluctant to talk about how excited I feel because I will miss so many things about Alabama—Birmingham and Montevallo both.  My roots are here, I’ve lived in the same house since I was one-and-a-half, and before then my parents and I lived in a house literally a street away from the current one.  This house was my grandparents’ house, and I share land in Pinson with my sister that’s been in our family since my dad’s grandfather.  So, I have a lot of connections to Alabama and I know—it’s just in my personality—I will get homesick so much while I’m up in NC.

But at the same time…I’m ready.  I’m ready for a change of scenery, ready for a fresh start, even though I’m terrified.  I’m shy, despite how I sometimes can come across, and generally socially awkward, and theoretically, I won’t know anybody in my program.  When I went to JCIB, I knew a few people from my W.J. Christian days, even though I only ever became close to one of them my sophomore year—all my other friends and relationships were with people I met in high school.

The same goes for college (though I never dated anybody there)—I knew a few people, but ended up hanging out mostly with people I met at Montevallo.  But that’s not going to be the case up in Chapel Hill.  Of course, I’ll be living with my aunt and my cousin and uncle and other aunt and uncle will be in the state and surrounding areas, but school-wise…I won’t know anybody.  And that’s kind of what I’ve wanted for a while.  This combined with a more confident-in-myself me, a me who’s finally emerged as an individual with a ‘self’ even if that ‘self’ is comprised of my experiences, others’ influences and their experiences, and my own personality—as is everybody’s ‘self’ if you ask me—makes me eager to test out the Real World Me.

And honestly, I don’t even know what the ‘Real World Me’ means.  I’m not going to change; I’ll still be the books-loving, writing-loving, video game-loving, anime-watching person I’ve grown into being.  But testing it out on people I don’t know at all is the scary part, I guess.  I have the chance to forge an identity and I don’t want it to be one that I end up being unhappy with, but how can I change myself that much?  Am I happy with who I am, with the main character of my life?  Yeah, I really am.  I’ve overcome a lot, I struggle a lot day-to-day with my patience and depression and overall happiness, and of course I have things I want to change about myself both physically and mentally and behaviorally—who doesn’t?—but overall, I’m okay with who I am.  But I’ve stagnated here in Alabama, and I don’t feel myself growing as an individual anymore like I want to, and this certainly plays into how I feel about leaving.

But I guess I just recently realized how excited I am for the potential to go where nobody knows my name (except for, of course, my family up there) so that I have the chance to really and truly meet strangers for the first time.  Undergrad at Montevallo really did help me establish myself as my own person way more than IB did (probably because at high school your personality is still so malleable and really indistinct) but Chapel Hill will be the penultimate chance for this I get—or Greensboro, or wherever I go to graduate school if it’s not in the state of Alabama.  And I’m excited.

But I’m also scared out of my mind.

Well, here’s to the chapter titled ‘Graduate School Preparation’, subtitled ‘Acceptance or Rejection.’  Let’s hope it’s a good one with a happy ending, the Acceptance ending.  Because don’t we all love happy endings?

First, my left foot, then my right behind the other…

as a child of twenty-one

So, this is it.  I’m sitting here typing at 2:57 pm on a Thursday afternoon needing to pack to go home–forever from the dorm, which is just weird–but instead typing out a blog that won’t change the world or anything.

My GPA is a 3.576.  I’ll get cum laude on my diploma, and Saturday starting at nine A.M. (ouch!) I’ll be sitting on Flowerhill listening to speakers and trying not to cry–because I know I will at some point because I’ll keep thinking about how my dad should be there and how unfair it is that he isn’t–and waiting to hear my name so I can concentrate on not tripping in my high heels as I walk across the stage to get my diploma.  Wow.

It hasn’t really hit that I won’t be coming back to this beautiful campus to live (certainly, I will to visit! I’m terrible at staying away).  I won’t be able to drive back under the stars that I can actually see because I’m not in a city full of bright lights while the fog curls in on the roads–well, I mean, I could, because who would stop me, but it wouldn’t be the same.  And on one hand, it’s good.  I’m tired of lugging my basket full of laundry and assorted things for the weekend home and back again.  I’m tired of writing for classes even though I loved college and loved being good at writing (especially with history–clearly I chose the right major).  But I’ll miss the hell out of this place.

I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be at Alabama, where students are left with a sense of disjointedness.  They don’t even get to walk at graduation until August 6–how crappy is that?  I cannot possibly imagine what that’s like, but to be fair, I really haven’t tried.  I don’t want anything else to spoil my own graduation experience, and that’s selfish.  In my head, it’s already torture that my dad won’t be able to come and sit in the audience, or my grandmother won’t be able to come and sit and cry with my mom and aunt.  And don’t get me wrong–I’m so glad for all of my relatives and friends or whatever who will come!  But because I’ve lost two people so dear to me and have to experience the biggest accomplishment of my life without them, I don’t really want to imagine what being in a state of different loss like UA students’ loss is like.

Maybe that’s selfish–I think it is.  But I didn’t go to UA, and so I will be able to walk at graduation, I will get to cry and probably get annoyed at the number of pictures being taken even though I do want pictures, and I’ll get to think about moving gracefully so I don’t trip on the stage on the way to my diploma–although, I have to say, it’d be pretty fitting if I did trip, I mean, few are clumsier than me.  And for that (that is, being able to walk) I’m grateful.  I’m especially grateful that our commencement won’t last as long as other colleges’ will, because while we do have a formidable amount of students, God bless Montevallo for being comparatively small.

To all my friends I met here at Montevallo, I love each and every one of you.  I can’t imagine what college would have been like without you–much lonelier, I know.  To all my professors who might read this, especially my history professors, thank you for making my college experience one of a kind.  You have been so kind and funny and I will never forget any of you.  And to anyone else who might see me bawling in pictures or at graduation itself…well, haters gonna hate, and criers gonna cry.  I’m the latter.

…Saturday, here I come!

ready for the end of the semester like never before

As I sit here in the library whiling away time before my 6:30 History of Europe Post-1815 final, I thought about how this is my last semester of undergrad history classes and my last fall-semester exams and how I should be sad to be experiencing “the end of the beginning of the end” — a.k.a, my senior year of college.

But all I can think of is how relieved I am, how tired I am. I know this is partly because it gets dark earlier and it’s now almost pitch-black outside (at least what I can see out the window here beyond glare) and partly because I stayed up too late last night for no good reason, but part of it is just because I’m tired of this semester. I’m ready for it to be over. This has been the hardest semester for me to get motivated.

And even though I still have 19 hours to tackle before I can graduate on May 7, that’s my last semester, and after that, I will only have a year of being off to look forward to and then grad school. It also helps that I’m done with senior seminar, with the “culmination of my work as a history major” and that 20-page senior thesis I had to write.

Also, I guess there’s only so much undergrad you can do before you feel stir-crazy; whenever regular customers who know I’m in school and remember (like that one guy who’s so super nice and always remembers I go to Montevallo) ask about how I’m doing in school, I just respond with, “I’m ready for it to be over.”

Not that my experience here hasn’t been wonderful; it has. But I’m just ready to be DONE with undergrad.

So, now I’m off to waste more time between now and 6:30, with some part of that being spent you know, studying for that final.

With only one more day of finals left, Christmas break is almost within reach. Close, but not close enough.

Come on, Wednesday.

my love-hate relationship with college

Three years ago I started school at the University of Montevallo, and now that I’m due to graduate in May, I’ve been thinking some about the last few years, and decided that as much as I love college, I’m glad to be almost done with my undergrad career.  Why?  Well, I’ll outline the reasons for my love-hate relationship with academic life after high school.

I love the environment of a university, but especially this university.  Especially when I was dating someone who went to school in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama, and I would visit, there wasn’t a week that went by after my return to Montevallo that I didn’t think or express aloud, I’m SO glad I went to Montevallo.  It’s not that I think Alabama’s a bad school; however, I couldn’t handle having to leave super-early for classes because of the huge campus, or dealing with such crowded parking (and oh my GOD is the parking crappy at UA), or not having a personal relationship with the majority of my professors.  I definitely feel like I benefit more academically from a small class size, as I don’t know if I’ve had more than 35 students in any of my classes, and if I have, it was Geology, a class offered for a gen-ed requirement.

Additionally, smaller class size encourages more discussion on reading material or lecture topics, depending of course on the professor but almost always present in Montevallo classes.  Students readily ask questions and are often encouraged to offer input or criticism; sometimes class veers off-topic because of the path a conversation took, but that can be just as enriching as a lecture, if not more.  UM’s classes, overall, really do teach one how to think critically, and I know for a fact that I think far more critically than I did in high school at JCIB, although I’m sure the foundation for that was laid there.  Still, I think I’ve really flourished in college as a critical thinker, and it is no doubt because of the encouraging and open professors I’ve had.

Another thing that bothers me about Alabama that we don’t have the problem of here at UM is the lack of advisor.  I got lucky with my advisor, as he’s one of the most encouraging and sincere professors on this campus (as evidenced by his acceptance of Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award at Founder’s Day this year), and one thing that I’ll always remember is that the week I was out because I was spending the night at the hospital by my grandmother’s side, I was supposed to meet with him for registration-advising for the next semester, and obviously had to cancel.  I let him know via email, and he responded back with some advising on which classes I should take — through email.  Even a small gesture like that kept me from probably taking unnecessary classes or going into full panic mode because I didn’t know what to take.

He also informed me of his French Revolution class when I told him I’d taken French in high school, and through me being made aware of that course and then taking it, I quickly found out he was undoubtedly my favorite professor because of the environment he creates in his classroom. (And if I ever publish a book, he’ll definitely be one of my acknowledgments, if not the first one.)  But, from what I understand, Alabama’s advising system isn’t like this, and doesn’t allow for a student to get to personally know one’s advisor.  I’m sure it’s on a personal basis, too, depending on one’s advisor, but I love Montevallo’s advising system.

However, the hate-side of my relationship with college comes from being unable to read during the school year.  Then again, this is probably because my concentrations are in two areas that require heavy reading and writing — history and English.  I read a lot during the school year, but never stuff I pick by either random chance or ones I have on my personal list.  I just never have time.  For instance, my roommate let me borrow Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut, and I’m only about halfway through even though I’ve had it since the end of last semester.

“Why didn’t you read it over the summer?” you might ask.  Well, I wanted to read Dearly Devoted Dexter more, and work and the internet just kind of replaced reading for me (especially the internet, which is such a trap).  I also didn’t read a Star Trek novel Charity lent me, or the X-Men comics she lent me.  Reading just fell out of habit for me, I suppose.  Honestly, when I read Lolita last spring semester during the term, I felt extremely accomplished and excited that I read something I’d been wanting to read for a long time while I still had school.  The summer between my sophomore year and junior year of high school, I stayed for a week with my aunt and uncle in Dahlonega, GA, and put a sizable dent in my reading repertoire by flying through books such as Dan Brown’s collection (aside from The Da Vinci Code, which I’d read before, during the school year)

Another reason or area academics have stunted me have been in the speed of my reading.  As I’ve mentioned before in my Harry Potter post, I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the longest of the series with 870 pages, in 22 hours.  Now, that’s probably not that good a thing as I don’t remember too much of the book that the movie didn’t rehash, but I used to read like crazy.  When I went back to visit my elementary/middle school (as they’re one in the same, K-8), I had a conversation with my old principal that went something like–

Me: I used to get in trouble all the time for reading in classes when I wasn’t supposed to.
Him: I wish we had more kids who got in trouble for reading when they weren’t supposed to.

And it’s true.  Everywhere I went, I had a book.  Usually on the way to the lunchroom or really any class change, if I weren’t talking with friends, I had my “nose stuck in a book” like that Beauty and the Beast song.  I wrote relentlessly in both middle and high school in classes when I wasn’t supposed to — which is probably why I didn’t do half as well as I should have in high school, that and general laziness — and I read relentlessly, too.  I got in trouble on more than one occasion for reading in math class (which shows you just how much I love math — that is, very little).

I’m ashamed to say that, either with high school or college or physiologically, my inability to multitask as well, my reading speed has dropped significantly and while I still read pretty fast, it’s nothing like it used to be, and that makes me sad.  I probably absorb more, but as a result I don’t get to read as many things as I’d like to.  However, some of the blame I think should go to the internet, which has just gotten me out of the practice of reading as much.  And yes, I’m a huge proponent of real books as opposed to online reading.  There’s just something about holding a book that makes it awesome, and I think online reading (at least of books) takes the ‘magic’ out of it (as dumb as that may sound).  I think things like the Kindle are cool, because it offers a wide range of books you wouldn’t have on hand normally, but I think nothing can compare to reading a physical book with physical pages you can turn.

Things I also can’t do as much of with school weighing on me that I don’t feel like talking about more because I’ve pretty much exhausted myself on the stuff above include: crocheting, video gaming, drawing/painting, writing creatively, and sleeping (the latter of which work will still impair, but it’s worth it for the money, I guess…right?).

So, all of that having been said, because of the way the GRE scoring works, in order for me to get funding for grad school at the grad school I want, I have to take a year off between graduating in May and getting into and going to grad school.  During that year I plan on catching up on reading things such as The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), The Brief History of the Dead (Kevin Brockmeier), Lullaby (Chuck Palahniuk), the sequels to Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, collectively known as the ‘Sevenwaters Trilogy’ which are Son of the Shadows and Child of the Prophecy — aka books I’ve been meaning to read since I fell in love with Daughter of the Forest in eighth grade — and finally finish Kushiel’s Dart (Jacqueline Carey) and the other books in the Kushiel’s Legacy series.  There are more, but I plan on starting with these.

However, I’m going to miss college terribly.  I’ll miss having to walk only two minutes to get relatively-healthy already-made food, or lying out on one of the quads and reading or listening to music and soaking up the sun, or going to work out at a ‘free’ gym five minutes away, or camping out in the library, or the satisfaction of getting back a paper with a good grade on it.  Plus, after graduating, I’m just one step closer to the Real World (and not that show I used to watch back in middle school) and Life.  And that’s a scary thought.

As I get closer to graduation, I’ll make a post of things to remember from my college experience, so that by probably even next year, I’ll be able to remember things I would have otherwise forgotten.

College, I’ll miss you, but in a way, I won’t.

Love,

Christina

getting older: someone set me up the adulthood

About two weeks ago, my mom and I took a trip to Walmart, and were walking down the main aisle of the food section — you know the one, it’s got all those cookies displayed, or pumpkins, or flowers, followed closely by beer cases piled high, sometimes in a dumb football pattern or an ‘AU’ or ‘UA’ for the rival teams of the state — when I spotted a woman with a face I would recognize anywhere.

My mom and I stopped simultaneously, the woman cocked her head and nodded with a small smile out of politeness before stopping as well as my mouth opened and I fumbled for words.

“I know your name is Christina, but I can’t remember your last name!” she exclaimed as I cheerfully exclaimed HER name, before we hugged.

This lady, of course, was my old kindergarten teacher I hadn’t seen since I was at least seven or eight, whenever she left the school (although Mom can confirm/deny this better than I can — I don’t remember much from that age).

Mrs. A taught me when I had a pixie cut and threw up lasagna one day while standing in line at the classroom door after lunch.  We sat on a rug made up of colorful letters and numbers, and I remember one of the games we got to play early in the day was to stand on the letter of our first name, and I could never choose between ‘L’ and ‘C’ (I go by my middle name).  And she, like a lot of my elementary school teachers, used a yard stick to point at words on a board we read every morning for our reading exercise.

She had not changed a bit, but here I was standing so many feet taller than the last time she’d seen me, with a young woman’s body and glasses and a deeper voice and an actual vocabulary.  It was the weirdest thing.  She couldn’t believe I was a senior in college, but laughed and was glad to hear that she wasn’t the only one who felt old when I admitted that I did, after telling her that I was twenty.  She told me to send her an invitation to graduation and she would be there — I’ll probably cry if she does come.

It wasn’t until later, though, that my age really hit me.  My mom said something along the lines of, “Mrs. A taught you your first year in school, and now you’re in your last year of school.”  That just about blew my mind.  Sure, I’d graduated high school, so I was past my ‘last year’ of public grade school, but grad school isn’t even the same as undergrad college, which is pretty different from grade school but the last system based on levels or ‘standing’ (freshman, sophomore, etc.).  So, there it was, staring me in the face.

I’M about to be a SENIOR in COLLEGE.  When did this happen?!

***

I’m a first-generation student.  Two of my cousins went to college, but didn’t finish, my mother began taking classes at a community college nearby, but didn’t finish, and the only people in my ‘immediate’ family to go to college were two maternal uncles.  So I really had no idea what to expect when I started at the University of Montevallo.

Well, I don’t want to launch into my life story, because that’s not really the point of this post (if there even is one), but I’ve done well in college, and I plan on going to grad school to get a doctorate in history.  But what then?  I’m a senior in my undergraduate career — shouldn’t I be thinking of this stuff?

Okay, grad school — I’ve got that.  Hopefully I’ll get in.  But grad school for history doctorate-pursuers takes anywhere from 4-9 years, from different articles I’ve read.  I don’t want to just be floating aimlessly for that time frame, do I?  I’m only twenty, so I know I don’t need to stress about this stuff, but sometimes it seems overwhelming.  When is it okay for me to have a family?  Getting married is one thing, but having children just seems like too much stress for me to handle if I’m still pursuing my grad degree, so when am I supposed to pop out tiny me + future significant other spawn to populate the earth?  Do I even want to pop out TM+FSO spawn?

It doesn’t really matter now, but sometimes these questions start piling up in my head, and it makes me want to give up on my dreams of getting that sweet, sweet Ph.D.  I don’t even know what exactly I want to do with the doctorate, but two of my preferred options include: 1) teaching at a university, or 2) being a librarian.  The latter of which is a pretty sweet idea, actually, since I never had a choice in the matter of me being a bookworm or not (hint: I am).  But I just don’t know.

But no one ever knows what they’re going to do, right?  I mean, they might have plans, but plans are by no means any way of knowing what you’re going to do.  I guess I just have to take things day by day before then.

I know I said it before, but still…when did I grow up?  This is insane.  And I know it will only get insaner (which doesn’t look like it should be a word, but it definitely is).

***

I’ll leave this post with a quote I found on postsecret’s tumblr the other day:

“It makes me happy to know that none of us get a how-to guide–
We’re all just kind of winging it