Always Joyful

I do this thing when I’m panicked where I let out bursts of breathy exclamations of horror. A guttural sort of grunt that somehow embodies the whole of my angst. Sometimes I open the front door of my house, proceed to the kitchen, greet my roommate and then we scream together — because we’re arts majors and theres a lot to be angsty about in the world. Other times I just repeat the phrase “I’m panicking” over and over at increasing volume. Recently I’ve been expressing both of these tendencies at a more frequent rate. *Feel free to interject said coping mechanisms wherever fitting whilst reading the following*

Today is Wednesday. It is the second week of my last semester at WSU. Three years has flown by. I know that everyone says that — “watch out, you’ll be surprised how fast it goes” and then you respond with a snarky comment about how you wish it was quicker and you roll your eyes because they don’t know what they’re talking about.  Continue reading “Always Joyful”

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Sophomore Slump Almost Did Me In

I survived the first semester of my sophomore year… barely.

Its been over a week since break began, officially leading to the close of the first semester of my sophomore year of college, and in the time that I’ve been back home with my family I’ve already had two hysterical crying episodes and lost sleep over the horror of the semester that unfolded much to my chagrin.

Between a twenty credit workload, a failed quest for a profitable job, living off campus and paying bills for the first time, medical failings, fractured relationships, professors without my best interest in mind, a university system which failed to advocate for me, a GPA on a steady decline and the weed out classes for my major it’s safe to say that this semester traumatized me.

I failed a lot this semester – academically, in my friendships, in my own faith, in basic humanity. I have very seriously considered calling it quits — pulling the blanket over my head, holing myself in, and hiding from the world.

I think that my brain is actually broken. I have been trying to write this post for almost two weeks now, but the simple function of formulating sentences has become a luxury which my brain rarely affords. What little sleep I get is permeated by nightmares of the past semester and the horror of returning to do it all over in the Spring. My family has more than once commented on my state of disarray, but I feel powerless to change it. Sophomore Slump has become my kryptonite.

This semester feels like a season of life that is never-ending.  I am in a constant state of longing to be anywhere and everywhere else in the world, and somehow recognize amidst that that God has placed me uniquely where I am at, now. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter.

Bitter is actually an understatement. I think that I am pissed at God.

This past semester he called me to a new church, pulled me out of relationships that I loved, and has continuously confronted me with the nastiness in my own heart.In the pressure and nonstop mundane of college, I’ve been able to push Him out. To tell Him I’ll deal with my heart when I have the time, that I’ll spend time seeking Him after I get my life in line. But I never got my life in line. It continued to crumble, and I continued to run from it, at a price.

 

When I am put under extreme amounts of stress, just like I believe most normal people also do, my body starts to shut itself down. Subsequently my body goes into panic survival mode, and this semester I wound up having almost three or four panic attacks per day until I completely blocked it all out. The anxiety attacks mostly manifest themselves in shaking fits, muscle spasms and an accelerated heart rate, sometimes accompanied by a flare up of my asthma. Naturally, when my body begins to panic I become anxious, further feeding the vicious cycle, and on and on it goes.

I am so tired from contracted muscles and the mental stress after an episode that the last thing that I want to do is get back to the school work which has piled so high its led to the physical decline of my health. I am so tired.

And I have never felt farther from God.

In trying to do the right thing I hurt the people that I cared about more times than I would prefer to recount. In striving to live right I refused to deal with my own crap and continuously hurt the people that I love, failed them over and over because I was terrified to be disappointed in their failures. I have realized so many things these past couple months – but the biggest thing that I’ve realized is my absolute terror of commitment.

I have sabotaged so many relationships because I thought I was doing the right thing. Not consciously, not out of spite, but something in me is convinced that I am not worthy of love from the people that I love and therefore I must sabotage the relationships I care about before I’m disappointed.

This semester I wanted nothing but to just completely shut down. The ultimate extrovert who is me was so terrified of spending time with others that I would rather spend my time bent over vomiting up my anxiety than trying to find the corner of a room where no one can see me.

I neglected to pray because I thought that I was too far away for God to hear. I neglected to dig into the Word because I lost my enthusiasm for it. I neglected my own well being because I was too tired to deal with it. I was stressed to the maximum and with that came second thoughts that sent me questioning everything.

Do I really want to keep going? Is the effect that school is having on my physical health enough to call it quits? Am I a quitter? Do I believe the promises that I have been speaking to others on God’s behalf? Do I genuinely believe that God will never leave me or forsake me? Do I believe that God cares about me?

I know the truth. But I am having a hard time believing it.

Without God what hope do I have to keep pushing?  With a lost hope in His plan I have no interest in foraging forward.

This semester broke me in so many ways, and as I have continued to lose sleep over it these past weeks I wonder what the future can hold. But there is one thing that I know to be true:

Its okay to doubt. Its okay to be scared. Its okay to be confused. Its okay to not feel great all the time.

But I don’t get to live in that.

This semester sucked, and theres no doubt about that, but perspective is a game changer. Away from Pullman I can think about things separate from the University, I can think about the long term, and with that in mind I can’t wait to get back to campus and kill Spring Semester.

Until next time, wonder on.

November Diary

Honestly as I sit down to write this, I am having a hard time recalling all that has happened in this packed month. For these updates, my planner is my best friend.

I can never decide if I love or hate the month of November, in my mind it is plagued with poor memories and great ones that convene to make a confusing picture. However, I can objectively say that I love November for the Fall atmosphere that abounds. I love reds and oranges and yellows and it feels like that time of year when Fall is taking its last breath before moving aside for winter, and it couldn’t be more beautiful.

That being said, here are a couple fun things that I did during the month of November:

November Update

During the first week of the month my brother was a central character in his very first play and it was an event that I was unwilling to miss. So after my Thursday classes I grabbed my bags and made the couple hour commute to Spokane.

In the radio production of “Frankenstein” my brother played the role of the creature and a scientist. With absolute certainty I can say that he crushed it. He stole the show.

It’s so weird watching him group up, it seems like just yesterday I was putting my tutus on him and shoving him into plant pots.

He had been working the soundboard and lights until now when the play team begged him to be a part of the production. Honestly, none of us knew that he had it in him, but he killed his performance and I couldn’t be more proud of him!

The next day I headed back to Pullman where Dad’s weekend was beginning. This is an interesting weekend for me. Honestly, I hate the premise of Mom’s and Dad’s weekends at universities 1) because those without a mom or dad are painfully more aware of it and 2) these weekends are notorious for producing ill-advised drunken parents who roam the streets of Greek row.

As November 1st marks 12 years since my Dad passed away I was hesitant to leave the house at all. Last year I spent the weekend in the company of my friends, blocking out the heartache with copious amounts of ice cream and movies. Praise the Lord this year was different.

My stepdad, Art, was gracious enough to come up and spend time with me. My mom and him left soon after me on Friday afternoon to spend time in Pullman. I bought tickets for Art and I to go see the comedian Gabriel Iglesias at my University. He cried laughing through the while show.

The next morning I got to show him and my mom around campus and watch the WSU Dad’s Weekend Pumpkin Drop in the freezing cold with them between introducing them to Deans, Professors, and peers. I’d say it was a good weekend.

In the third week of the month the Eastern half of Washington got hit by heavy windstorms. Spokane was put under storm warning and lost power from downed power lines for almost four days in parts of the city. Pullman was hit by some of the highest winds – 67 mph – hurricane grade, if we were by the coast. The university lost power for a few hours and cancelled classes the following day. It was an interesting event.

I had to drive to Spokane the night after the storm hit to pick up my best friend from the airport and in the city I encountered dead signals and massive lines as people fought their way through the gas station. It was like an apocalyptic nightmare in the city. I went home for the night where we huddled around a portable heater in a candlelit room. It was an interesting few hours that led me to think about just how privileged I am to have been inconvenienced by the loss of wifi.

Thursday I picked up my friend, Jami, from the airport.

Months ago I told Jami about my trip to Seattle and the heartache I felt for its homeless community. So, while I was in Burma this summer, she and I were FaceTiming and she proposed the idea of spending our Thanksgiving in the city to volunteer to serve dinner to the homeless community. Which  brought us to this week, a week full of adventure.

First in Pullman where I made her an honorary Coug for a weekend. And then in Seattle when we explored the city together.

While still in Pullman one of my friends from church volunteered to take our pictures. In three years of friendship, my move to the Pacific Northwest and her move to the East Coast left us without any pictures together – which is basically a crime in the world of Pinterest decorating dorm/apartment rooms. So, I arranged for us to spend a couple hours getting our pictures taken together in a makeshift bestie photoshoot before we headed out to the coast.

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We got all decked out in our fall gear and hit the streets of Pullman. It was a glorious event, and even more glorious to have my best friend here, in the flesh, to share it with me.

On Monday we left for the coast. There was supposed to be a huge storm that would make it relatively impossible to drive the pass, but it never really hit. Nonetheless, we left a day early and stayed the night in SeaTac. The next day we hit the University district, scoping out the haunt of my rival college: UW. We headed down to Oak Harbor that night, spending the night and the following morning on Whidbey Island. The next two days were full of exploring the city and serving meals at various locations. Here’s a video of the adventure:

Thanksgiving Roadtrip to Seattle with JL from AJ Freibott on Vimeo.

I rounded out the month in Spokane, spending a few days with my family before heading back down to school to finish out the semester. We left out the Turkey in favor of rabbit and duck, leaving us with a Thanksgiving meal to remember and respectful of our copious amount of varying allergies.

We decorated our Christmas tree before I left down, leaving me dreaming of the tidings of Christmas until I return home in three weeks at the conclusion of the semester.

November Favorites

Coffee Shop Indulgence: Dirty Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte with an extra shot of espresso

Unfortunately, I don’t have a pretty picture of this month’s drink (blogger fail), but don’t let that deter you from tasting this sweet treat! This is the perfect drink for the Fall season – a cinnamon-y and pumpkin-y sweet treat to usher in the warm fuzzies of Fall. If you like Chai Latte’s this is the perfect combination of all things lovely.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Transylvania IMG_8321This really weird and scary picture is the only one that I was able to find with the lipstick on my lips. I took it while waiting at a drive thru for my Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte.

I love this particular shade because it is so incredibly dark. I feel punky and elegant at the same time. It has a purple sort of tint to it in parts which I really love. (Also pictured in Dad’s weekend photos)

Buy it here

Music: JUSTIN BIEBER’S NEW ALBUM

Okay, seriously, has there ever been an album as brilliant as this? It’s been on repeat for weeks… Not even sorry.

And thus ends the November Update. Until next time, wonder on.

Meat.

I am the vice president of a club on campus called “In It To End It,” which is part of a national initiative to end human trafficking, and in order to raise money to free people from modern day slavery we decided to sell pizza to drunk college students during homecoming weekend.

This is what happens when you are a girl standing on greek row at 2 a.m.: Boys come up to you and point out the size of your breasts, they tell you that they’ll only buy your pizza if you give them your number, they openly rate girls in front of you, and if you’re lucky a forty year old pervert might even decline your pizza in favor of a girl who he says “has legs impossible to close.”

Greek culture, and the party culture that goes along with it, is entirely foreign to me.

I’ve watched alcohol ruin lives and families of people that I love, and I’ve realized that in college and high school, there isn’t a  problem with underage drinking so much as there is a problem with drinking to lose all inhibition. People don’t drink to be sociable anymore, they drink to lose themselves. I’ve had countless conversations in the past month alone where people who are drinking tell me that it’s hollow and empty, but they continue to do it because without the buzz of the alcohol they are afraid that they aren’t enough, that the alcohol tricks people into thinking they’re better – friendlier, bolder.

And thats where dehumanization begins. Thats when it becomes okay to look at people like they are nothing more than meat.

I am not a piece of meat.

I am a full human, with a brain and a body which houses it.

And so is every other human on this campus.

In walking to my classes I catch countless appraisals of girls as if they’re livestock. I watch the flicker of boys’ eyes as they run up and down the passing bodies, and I watch as they lick their lips and punch the shoulders of the boys with them, begging them to catch a glimpse. On Greek row boys assign numbers to the girls that pass by them, openly evaluating their hotness, openly discussing all the things that they want to to do them in the dark. Girls are naught but a toy for their filthy desires. They aren’t ashamed of their appraisals, and they aren’t sorry for their reactions.

I can feel eyes on me when I am walking to and from class, occasionally I’ll catch the eyes of an onlooker and downturn my face so as to pretend I didn’t see him mentally undressing me. There is this stigma that accompanies the appraisal – am I a ten or a two? Some part of me will always wonder, and that’s what breaks my heart the most.

Multiple times in my life I have been told to “sit down and look pretty.” I’ve been put down, an item to look at rather than inspire. There are others, my sisters, who have treaded the paths of sexual violence and abuse, found themselves in the mentality that they aren’t good enough – that they’ll never be good enough. We live in a porn-saturated-society, every fantasy and desire can be quelled at the click of a button, so why tell a woman that she’s beautiful when you’re looking for nothing more than to validate your masculinity by telling your frat brothers about all of the girls you’ve screwed during the weekend?Masculinity today is no longer about protection, it is about the release of sexual tension.  We are the faceless generation. Slaves to desire because no one is willing to remove the chains which have already been unlocked.

I am losing heart.

Recently my university hosted a screening of the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which follows the stories of multiple collegiate women who have been raped and silenced. Their respective universities told them to be silent because to point the finger meant losing valuable athletes and income for the universities. And this is not an unusual story. Girls that I know and love have been the victims of sexual violence, but it is an injustice that carries so much shame that often they are silent. What could happen if they did speak? They don’t want to be the demise of the boys, they rationalize that its normal, that its not a big deal, and then they drink themselves into oblivion to avoid the truth. What do boys do about that? They laugh at them being so drunk and the cycle repeats.

At the screening of the documentary, everyone left as soon as they received credit for being there, they could care less about the injustice, they just wanted the extra credit. People get uncomfortable when they are put face to face with an injustice as potent as this. We all hear statistics – 1 in 3, 1 in 4 – the list goes on, but the victims are more than a number and their pain is more than a story.

Meat. A puppet for desire. How did we come so far? When did the woman’s body lose its mystery and beauty in favor of debauchery?

I know that this is not all the world has to offer. I know that there are men out there that genuinely care for their sisters and strive to protect them; even if 90% of them do suck.

So what happens now?

Men of character its time to stand up. We live in a world where a man’s voice carries real weight. A man who speaks out on the issue of sexual violence and dehumanization has a voice as potent as twenty girls speaking at the same caliber. Men of character its time to set the example, its time to establish a new precedent of respect.

Ladies, you are so valuable, you don’t need the approval of a douche to believe it. Its okay to say no. It’s okay to deal with your hurt. It’s okay to be hurt. Its okay to tell someone to leave you alone. And its especially okay to speak up.

Its time to end the perversion. What happened to the respect?

Will the real men please stand up?

meat

What It’s Like to be Off the “Happy Pills”

Quote from “This Is What Depression Really Feels Like” by Elise Jamison in the Huffington Post:

“I have seen so many of my peers tweet about how depressed they are and they’re lives are so awful blah blah blah. Yes. We all have bad days. I get it. But depression is defined as severe despondency and dejection, felt over a period of time and accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. There is a humongous difference between temporary sadness and dissatisfaction with your life, and the sinking desperation that is depression. It sucks when you don’t fit in and you are lonely, but that isn’t depression. Depression is the dark emptiness you feel that makes you believe you can contribute nothing to anyone or anything. You feel like your life means nothing to anyone.

My inspiration for this article was frustration. I was diagnosed at age 14 with depression, and I am so frustrated with all of the people around me who cannot differentiate between angst, PMS and mental illness. I have worked so hard in the last couple years to overcome this illness and it is still a daily battle. It took me years to even be able to acknowledge that I mattered and realize that people cared about me. There is nothing more frustrating than someone who says they are clinically depressed because they are feeling sad that day. It devalues the struggle I and so many others have endured. And to all of the incredibly ignorant people out there who think just because someone has a nice family, cushy home and pretty belongings does not mean they can’t be depressed — they lack the chemical serotonin in their brain. It has nothing to do with the fact that they wear Ferragamos or Target flip-flops.”

This might be the single most raw post that I ever write.

In all honesty, I hate that I am writing it.

But this past week has been a living hell for me, and I think that deserves to be addressed.

For those of you who don’t know – I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety.

Some people are shocked by this, and others are complacent – but most are simply ignorant. Most often I am met with sideways glances of disbelief and frustrated looks of disproval; people struggle to understand what it even means and they refuse to acknowledge it as a legitimate sickness. They tell me that happiness is a choice. They tell me that I am just tired because of college. They tell me that I am just blowing it out of proportion. Mostly, they just don’t understand. Simply put – none can comprehend the scope, and so they often disregard it entirely. Which is utterly and heartbreakingly invalidating for me in every aspect.

This is a mental disease. Wait, did you catch that? This – depression and anxiety -are legitimate mental illnesses. But who seriously ever believes that?

It is so important that people understand that this has nothing to do with happiness or choice, and everything to do with brain chemistry.

The truth is, every single day of my life is like swimming through a pool of molasses.

People toss around the phrase “depression” like it’s some sort of easy way to get attention. Like its some kind of lighthearted joke to easily describe how you feel when you’re having a  rough day.  I think that is the worst part about it –  because my sickness does not manifest itself externally, people are quick to invalidate me for it.

Most of it is unintentional. I don’t believe that people set out with malicious intent to beat me down, but because of the lack of understanding I often fall prey to thoughtlessness.

The amount of times in the past week that people have spat “What’s your problem?” at me are innumerable;  and each of these was coupled with expressions of absolute distaste. No matter where I went this week, the criticism was inescapable, and relatively constant.

And it was completely invalidating.

I hate this disease. I hate that I can’t function like a normal human. I hate that I have to suffer through it. I hate being a freak.

I have been on the same medication (fluoxetine) since I was diagnosed my junior year of high school; at the time the doctor prescribed it mostly out of desperation. She wasn’t sure that it would work in my case, but because of how high I scored in her routine depression assessment she was more concerned with regulating  my brain with something rather than letting it stew as we tried to figure out the best option. Fluoxetine is basically the gateway drug to depression medicine, most people start there and mess with it until they find out that something else works better. However, like I said, I scored high – so high in fact that the doctor basically wanted to put me on suicide watch.

Fast forward to now, almost three years later, and the medication has stopped working.  With all the stress and sleepless nights of college I found myself hyperactive or robotic but never in between. The medicine was messing with my brain, and I was sinking deep. I lost all my passion. I lost my will. I lost my motivation. When you suffer from a mental illness like depression something as simple as getting out of bed in the morning can be the most difficult task that you face all day. After suffering from a migraine for four weeks I decided it was probably time to see the doctor, oh – and the fact that I ran out of the fluoxetine and my prescription was expired. No surprise, he gave me the same test. I got the same score. Even on the meds, this doctor was extremely concerned and wanted to put me on suicide watch. He highly recommended counseling, but he gave me a new drug.

Which leads me to why this last week was a literal hell.

Because this illness has to do with the function of the brain and any medication for it deals directly with regulating it, I had to ween myself off of the fluoxetine before starting the new medication. Which meant an entire week of no medication for me.

I often like to pretend that depression isn’t as crippling as it really is. I try to believe that off the medicine I’ll be fine. That I’m not such a freak that I absolutely need a “happy pill” to get me through the day. But, like I said before, since it is a regulatory drug my body was basically in panic mode all week. There wasn’t a second where I wasn’t shaking, and opposite of normal when I am entirely robotic, there wasn’t a second when I wasn’t on the verge of crying. I was just trying to hold it together. To get through the week without too many breakdowns, heck, to even get out of bed in the mornings, was my sole goal.

Imagine how much harder that is when everyone is constantly reminding you how dysfunctional you are.

So, I write this not so that you will pity me, in fact, I think I would be pretty frustrated with that outcome. Rather, I write this because this week has waged war on my soul. Every part of me aches.

My constant thought as I navigated the week was that if I was just “normal” I would be able to handle it. If I wasn’t such a freak that I was shaking like a Chihuahua and navigating the campus like a zombie, then everything would have been fine. If I was “normal” comments about me being “pissy” wouldn’t have mattered so much, sideways glances of disgust wouldn’t have made me burst into tears.

When your brain is so used to being on medication and then you suddenly rip that away it sends everything into a tailspin, and because of that everything is ten times harder to navigate. Everything feels like the end of the world.

There are moments when I legitimately think that I am going insane. I genuinely feel like my brain is betraying me. And to have people point that out when all I am trying to accomplish is basic life functions is crippling.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could control it?

My brain is a force of it’s own. It is a machine completely independent of me. It is a broken contraption of hurt and longing, of ache and pain, of disgust and shame.

And shame is exactly what I feel, all the time. I am so ashamed of my illness. Not because of what I believe about it, but because of the way that society has made me feel because of it.

I refuse to apologize for my sufferings because they make you uncomfortable. I refuse to let your lack of understanding be the source of such crippling shame. I refuse to let the confines and dictates of your carelessness set the course of my life.

And let’s be honest, even if I wasn’t suffering from any of these mental sicknesses, don’t you think it’s already awful to address someone’s lack of enthusiasm with such harsh comments? Isn’t the point to love each other, not shame one another into acting in a socially comfortable and artificially happy way for the sake of your wellbeing?

I’m begging you to think before you speak. I’m begging you to think about the repercussions of your words.

This week was already hard enough as I waged war with myself, and the commentary was no welcome guest.

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Double Degrees and Collegiate Exhaustion

I’ve been drinking so much coffee these past couple weeks that I’ve begun to get heart palpitations.I swear I’m losing my mind. In the worst way, I’ve been so stressed that I’ve actually been making myself ill. And its almost shameful to admit. I’ve been forgetting things more rapidly than I should, and losing my train of thought in the middle of my sentence, and forcing myself through the day with copious amounts of coffee is beginning to make my head spin.

Like many others, my pre-University college impressions were largely shaped by the schema of cinematic and entertainment based portrayals of it.

I thought that I was going to end up somewhere where the sun consumed the sky and the campus was over-crowded with sun-kissed hotties and the warm waves crashed onto golden sand outside the gigantic window of my massive room which housed a queen-sized bed. In the times when I wasn’t hanging around in the beautiful sun, I would be in the library with my glasses prettily strewn across the bridge of my nose and my focus deeply rooted into whatever I was reading while attractive men knocked down book shelves to get to me. I pictured a world where class time and social time were hand in hand, and yet there always seemed to be more time for the latter.

My first semester of college has all but completely smashed every aspect of this portrait.

I somehow thought that I would play the role of Paige Morgan from The Prince & Me while the rest of the world played the part of the unfortunate souls in 22 Jump Street – no walks of shame for this princess.

Turns out college, much like life, is nothing like the movies.

College is more difficult than I ever imagined. It strains me in aspects of my life that were previously completely unknown to me. It leads to long nights full of tear stained pillows and tightened chests. It is the birthing ground for unrest. It is one of the hardest things that I have ever done.

For so many years it feels like everyone has been so quick to tell me that college would be amongst my greatest joys. One of the biggest highlights in the reel of my life – why then does it feel so much like I’m a fish trying to fly? I haven’t slept in what feels like weeks, and at this rate, sleep seems like a forgone luxury – I’ve got to pay my four years before I am able to reap the benefits of that sweet pleasure again.

College, much like adolescent life, is an awkward half-way between adulthood and prepubescence (Well, maybe not the latter because I’m hoping that my cohorts have already enjoyed the benefits that puberty has to offer), and I find myself in what feels like a perpetual stream of awkwardness as I navigate the waters of pre-adulthood life.

This thing called life – yeah, it’s not easy. Not in any way.

For months I’ve been working my tail off, desperately trying to stay afloat in a world that seems so determined to swallow me whole. I find that in the collegiate realm I have trouble finding the time to just simply breathe. It’s an interesting phenomena – the suffocation of an institution, in all honesty, I’m still gasping for air, and I feel like I’ve got so many more months and years full of collapsed lungs.

However exhausting it all is, there have recently been some huge developments in my own screenplay:

I’ve decided to pursue a double degree!

This was a big decision. It means that I’m adding about thirty more credits to my course load, and in order to complete all of the requirements I have to complete 150 credits total. Nonetheless, I’m incredibly stoked. This means that I am officially part of four different colleges with all of my majors, minors, and specializations considered – needless to say, the advising appointments have been long. I certify for my first degree this spring and in the next year I will be able to certify for my second.

My advisor told me that I’m ahead of the curve considering planning, and it’s been great. When I graduate the aim is to have a BA in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism and Media Production, a BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, a certificate from the Honors college, and a minor in Comparative Ethnic Studies. It’s a full course load, and a little overwhelming to think that all of it will be completed in four years, but I could not be more stoked to pursue each of these different passions of mine.

Which leads me to my next thought!

I will be studying abroad!

During the Fall of my Junior year I will be studying abroad in Aberystwyth University in Wales!!! Yoo-hoo! The road ahead is paved with countless applications and long nights, but I am excited to spend a semester abroad since it’s been a long time dream of mine to study English abroad.

Amidst the stress of finding a place to live next year, the preparation for my summer mission trip, and my working toward certification, everything feels like a mess. But, the exhaustion and planning are finally beginning to lead to a plan.

Just yesterday my friend Garrett turned to me and told me that he thinks that we are “slowly figuring out this whole college thing,” and in the moment I wasn’t sure, but the more that I thought about it, the more I begin to recognize my wings.

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“Sometimes when it feels like things are falling apart they may actually be falling into place.”

Photo courtesy of my friend Jacqueline.

Surprise! A Birthday Celebration for Housteeze

Recently one of my good friends had his 24th birthday. A few days before it came about we were at the store, coincidentally in the cake isle, when I asked him what his favorite cake was and he let slip (after answering red velvet) that he hadn’t had a real birthday party…like ever… and a surprise birthday party was never even a part of his cognitive process.

So, of course we had to throw him one!

Earlier this year one of my best friends threw me an incredible party for my birthday – complete with Tangled themed decorations and a delicious gluten free homemade breakfast shared with my family and friends. It was entirely incredible, and such a massive blessing, and I couldn’t help but think of all the fun we could have with this. So we started scheming.

I wanted to make sure that everything was super cheesy and stereotypically birthday-party-y, so we set about to create a birthday party reminiscent of our childhood – complete with streamers and a “birthday boy” button. And it was great.

It was so fun to have our friends in one place, eating under-cooked cupcakes, improvising lighters (because you can’t have a flame in the residence halls) with phone apps,  and acting out the game of charades. This is what college is about I think – not the 2am drunken walks home or the mornings full of regret – but this, nights spent in the company of friends to the tune of a celebration of life.

Houston had no idea, and he was happy with the surprise. I guess now he can check surprise birthday party off his list.

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(A blurry one that I wish wasn’t blurry – haha.)

To Houston –

Happy Happy birthday, you are a great man – and now an old one – and I hope that your birthday was absolutely superb. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead for us, and I hope that this birthday has filled your heart with memories that will last the years to come.

You are so dear to my heart, and I am so glad we got to celebrate you! May your 24th year be filled with even more magical memories.

houston bw

P.S. Here’s a super sweet post that Houston wrote about the event, enjoy: “The Heart”