Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Survey

An old, old tradition of mine. Like... since 2005 old.

What did you do in 2011 that you've never done before? 
Danced in finals at MIT.
Danced silver.
Bought a car.
Got a real job and even raised my own salary!
Acted like an introvert.
Drove from GA to PA by myself.
Graduated from college (!!!).
Frequented a bar (salsa nights!).
Legit job.

Did you keep your New Year's resolution and will you make one for this year? 
I made no resolution.
2012: Just do it. Stop waiting.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Becky Watlington, Christy Martsolf, Amanda Tingle, Adele Cole, Alysia Watkins.

Did anyone close to you die?

Did anyone close to you get hitched?
Sarah and Matt Martin
Arden and Mary

What countries did you visit? 
This question pains me.

What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory?
MIT Weekend
First week in March (a vague, blurred, but deeply etched time)

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Have a legit answer to "what countries did you visit?".

What's your biggest achievement this year? 
My undergraduate Honors Thesis.
1st Semester Out of College intact (mostly)
Being there for my siblings as best as I could.
Elements Apprenticeship.
Word Parties.

Biggest failure?
Belief that I was constantly failing.
Not telling the truth. Or not telling it soon enough.

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
First ER trip of my life and morphine dose. Hello Kidney Stone.
Wisdom Teeth: The Gourd Face

What was the last thing you bought?
Wide legged dance pants. I'm aiming to become a Westie.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
Gretchen. Jennifer. Isaac.

Where did most of your money go?
Food, rent, car, dance.

What did you really get excited about? 
Ballroom 24/7.
Thesis writing.
Working with Calvary Elements.
Whim Cotty.

What song will remind you of 2011?
"We Found Love in a Hopeless Place"
"Stand By Me" and other various constantly replayed salsa night favorites.
The entirety of "Recovery" by Jeremy Casella, especially, "Born Again". In fact, let's just go ahead and say that "Recovery" as the album of the year in my life from March on.

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? 
A stupid question. Emotions are not measurable in this dichotomy.
In my own scale, I feel what it is to have seen what one is so afraid of seeing.
And somehow becoming more rooted than before.
Grateful. Not because I am happy, but because... well... because I'm not alone.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Speaking my mind.
Going to poetry readings.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Being afraid.
Those two go hand in hand.

What was your favorite TV show?
Downton Abbey
Bachelor/Bachelorette (it was all about the community, ya know?)

What were the best books you read? 
"Walking on Water" by L'Engle
"Body", collection of essays
Essays by Annie Dillard.
The essay genre in general was a new Love.

What was your best musical discovery?
Mumford&Sons, driving through a gold summer Lancaster sunset.

What did you want and got? 
Ballroom weekends off of work
A trip to Boston with Fraleigh and Sara to see Vaughn
Samba improvements

What movies did you see in cinema? 
Final Harry Potter (while on oxycodone so I don't remember much)
War Horse

What did you do on your birthday? How old did you turn?
The day of was pretty quiet. A few weeks later, I celebrated quietly with Fraleigh and Sara over carrot cake and champagne.

What one thing would have made this year more satisfying? 
The one thing I wanted, have wanted, will always want, but am learning to accept may never be given.
Learning to accept it and myself and life sooner. 
Learning to be patient with the process of "growing up".

How would you describe your personal fashion?
From the "cannot be bothered" to the extravagent. Eg. safety-pined shoe straps to Ray Rose dance shoes.

What kept you sane?
James and Sam.
Elements planning.
Isaiah over and over and over.
Salsa nights.
Julia Kasdorf.

Who was the best new person you met?
Vaughn Morgan. A wise counselor, friend. "A lot a bit". "Boys are stupid. Girls are crazy."
Mae (not technically "new", but we became friends this year).
Nicolle Maurer.
Steve Cline, adopted little bro.

What was a valuable lesson you've learned?
-Be patient, little one, be patient. You'll grow up as fast as you can. No sense being angry at yourself while you're trying really hard to do what is good and life giving.
-Trying very hard to "be right" is a prison; "the law", as the Bible calls it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Missed Words

I came into "Christmas Break" armed with books. I also came into the Christmas Break, ie the most distractible time of the year. But last week on a retreat day, I found a list in the journal belonging to early 2011, a list of books I would read in order to complete a proper education; books I had missed in undergrad.

There were even a few blog posts about it here. I included things like "Lolita" and "Ulysses" and anything by Faulkner and...

Until two weeks ago when I made a last second decision to pick up "Lolita" from the library, I had read none of them. [Slight exaggeration. I did read "Notes from the Underground"]

If you haven't noticed, there is a list on the right hand side of this page where I'm supposed to keep you updated on what I've been reading. I don't think its changed in a while.

So this Christmas, I'm starting to make the small journey towards the literature no one made me touch in college. I have "The Basic Writings of Existentialism"[owned for years] and "Lolita" [talked about for years]. Neither are very "Christmas Spirit"-y but my annual re-read of "A Christmas Carol" could perhaps make up for that.

PS. Would anyone in the State College region be interested in participating in the IAM Readers Guild with me this year?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Changes a Brewin' in Whim Cotty Walls

Things are changing piece by piece this week in Whim Cotty. A suddenly empty wall opens up. I stop in the bathroom, unsettled because something has changed. Ah yes, the grim "CLEAN YOUR TEETH" poster that reflects menacingly in our vanity mirror has been removed. I had stopped the same way when it first appeared, held up with masking tape this last August. It took several days to find the culprit: Avery's artistic choice to put it up. Her moving out to take it down.

It's been an adventure having 5 roommates this semester. Perhaps I don't want to say "adventure". I say "adventure" when I'm trying to make a comedic tale out of something I didn't quite enjoy. And I did enjoy having 5 roommates. Not just housemates. Roommates. In case you didn't know, Whim Cotty boasts of 1 bedroom that was formerly the living room/dinning room. All of 5 of us lived in various corners of that space. It kind of surprises me now that I'm thinking about it. It shouldn't have work. Somedays it didn't. But most of the time, I enjoyed the strangeness. I grew very comfortable with sleeping to the sound of a fan running every night.

Whim Cotty is not the typical apartment shape. If it were, none of the choices we made this semester would have turned out as well as they did. It is the first floor of an older stone home in the Holmes/Foster district of State College. We live in a bizarre
 shape. The middle line is the first hallway. The long left of the E is the hallway that runs the length of the house and contains the "i room" and the bathroom. The top line is the kitchen and old bedroom that we use as a living room. The bottom line is the old dinning room and living room, which is the bedroom for 5. Soon to be 3.

Avery is moving out due to graduation and the onset of what we Valley Dwellers like to refer to in hushed tones as "real life". Jocelyn, by living in the madness that is/was our home, discovered that she is a very strong introvert. She loves us and we love her, but she needs a room with a door. It was a valuable insight to gain, one that the strange shape and sounds of Whim Cotty was able to give.

This set up has taught me a lot about space and how we each use it and what we need it to be doing. Yes, static walls can be active shapers of interactions and relationships. Each of us has taken up a corner and made it our own. There was something about our personalities in each of these spaces. Nicolle seemed to take to the long couch in the living room and could be found there doing work at any hour. Jocelyn was the same but only when she has the option to close the door and be there alone. Before it was cold, she used the back porch quite a bit [it isn't heated]. Avery was always in the i room, particularly on the white chair. Mel would wander, rarely settling to do work unless it was reading before bed but choosing places where she could talk and interact, often the kitchen. And me? I chose as I have chosen since I was a high school student, my bed. I put my beloved desk right up next to it and spent hours in the back corner, the farthest away from all of the action that I could. I never minded another person in the room as long as I could find a place where, on occasion, people wouldn't talk to me. I use the bed as a couch, chair, table, etc. I nap, I read, I watch movies, etc.

It's fascinating to think how the walls and size of a room and the amount of light it gets helps to determine what is a room is and how it is used. It is fascinating to think about how personalities shape the way that a space is used. And I love Whim Cotty. Not everyone in our house has loved it the same way. I am in love with its quirks and traits, the way the bathroom door gets stuck, the eerie sound of the basement, the shape of the living room and the chair that gets the light in the winter afternoons, our bizarre tile pattern in the kitchen. It's a good place with good wood floors and a good feel to it.

As Anjali said last night with her inaugural visit: "I can see why you call it 'Whim Cotty' now. It's a perfect name."

Friday, December 09, 2011

Masked and Dangerous

I had begun to understand Erica Reitz's plight in her first trimester. I had begun to know the knee jerk reaction of gagging and choking at the strange smell that sometimes hit me in my apartment. The smell had become a legitimate problem: when the fridge door opened, a smell would drift out and quietly murk its way down the hallway and into the bedrooms. It travelled a long distance and would stay for several minutes after the unoffending fridge intruder had closed the door again.

By last night, I had had enough.

I pulled out a box of "not wearing right now" clothes and found my old bandanas. I wrapped one around my face and with Melanie and Nicolle for back up, I went in.

Even with protection from the bandana, it was a gruesome affair. I viciously sentenced many jars and bags to an untimely death in the trash can. I scrubbed all the walls with clorox. All items were removed and placed back in only if they could pass a smell test. Nicolle handed me paper towels. Mel helped organize things I had chucked behind me.

And still the smell persisted.

The decision to throw away almost all items in tupperware containers was the decision that changed the game.

Black beans, it would seem, do not keep well.

The smell as the lid was removed was catastrophic. I fell over and tried not to breathe through my nose. I yelled, "Get it out!" and Nicolle ran with the bag to the door and out to the dumpster. I felt the need to cheer and celebrate.

"A small miracle has happened: I was just motivated to do housework!" I said.

The moral of the story: don't wait for a smell in the fridge to gain feet and wander around your house before you viciously end its life with the trashcan and clorox.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wisdom of the Day

Just saw Erica Reitz in Irvings. After my first "grown up and employed" Christmas party last night, I've been feeling pretty angsty about maturity and responsibility and what that does to the ability of a group of people to throw a good party.

So I tell Erica all of this and then I start feeling guilty for having been the awkward person at the "grown up and employed" Christmas party.

Her response: "You can't have an emotion about an emotion. Makes everything way too confusing."

...astounded stare...

Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner?!