Looking back

I was browsing the archives of this thing looking for the recipe to something I’m pretty sure I baked last summer and I came across this entry and got completely distracted.

Nearly four years ago, I was still telling myself to let go of aspirations to be the best, but deep down, I seem to have known my potential.  I find strength in the knowledge that my enthusiasm for learning and my drive for success haven’t been put on me by overbearing parents or dreams of fame and fortune. I strive only to be exceptional and I make it happen.

Dear Katherine from Last Summer: Thank you for believing in me so much more than I’ve believed in myself for the last six months. My days are still filled with a mix of “striving for continuous improvement” and “trying my best to avoid and ignore responsibility,” probably in proportions of which you wouldn’t approve (Neither do I, but my Avoiding and Ignoring Responsibility side tells me it’s okay). I know there isn’t really an “it” to “make” in my lifestyle, but let’s pretend there is.

We made it, Younger Me. Not only did we make it out of our undergrad with a 4.0, but we did some incredible shit along the way. Your overuse of the term “exceptional” was a bit unnecessary, you cocky little asshole, but you know what? We had goals and we accomplished them and that’s pretty great.

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Good job, me. Now just keep going.

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Wandermania

Remember when I said “maybe I don’t like to travel”?

I take it back.

I need new hills to stand atop, new roads to wander down, new cities to smell and new sights to see and I need them pronto.

Someone get me out of here. 

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RJ

Today, I received news that a friend of mine from college died. He is a grade above me, but he was on a five-year Master’s course. He was set to graduate this Saturday.

I found out in a message from my sister. Actually, I was asked about it by my sister. I found out from Facebook. I was in the middle of Zara and for a few moments, I couldn’t hold myself up. I considered sitting, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself so I leaned against a wall, brow furrowed, chest tight. Being eight hours ahead of California means that when I first woke up this morning, RJ was alive. Being thousands of miles away from California means that I had begun a grieving process shared by no one else in this entire city. And you know what I did after that? I kept shopping. I moved from store to store in a daze, then I bought a skirt, then I went to dinner and a movie with my friend. I gossiped and laughed and, in every way, just kept going.

I try not to over-romanticize the dead or the relationship I had to them. RJ was fun, incredibley funny, and always so polite. We partied together frequently my freshman year and occasionally last semester. He always made sure to say hi to me when he was cleaning the tables in my sorority’s dining room (he worked for the chef). I rarely spoke to the other girls in the house, so it was always nice to see him around and say hello, even if all he did was ask how I was and tell me I needed to go out more. He tended to get, well, angry when he drank, especially in the first few years. I know a lot of people who disliked him for it, but I always tried to defend him. He was always kind to me in the big brotherly way that so many Pikes were kind to me.

He was undoubtedly a part of my more debaucherous antics in college, from the frequent no-shirt parties my freshman year to probably too many games of beer pong. I want to say something like “we had a lot of fun then, but I’ll remember you most for inspiring me to be a better person,” but that lie is unfair to us both. What I can say without a doubt is that I always enjoyed myself around RJ. It’s very easy to make me feel uncomfortable, disliked, or ignored, but RJ was always so good at making me feel like at least someone in the room cared that I was there.

I still, honestly, cannot fathom that this actually happened. I tend to be terrible with deaths though. There is no RJ shaped hole in my day or my future. For all I know, I would have graduated/”graduated” and never seen him again. The knowledge that this is not happening because each of us will lead separate yet filfilling lives but because he no longer has the opportunity to do so is difficult to grapple with, especially from this distance. It is moments like this when I almost wish I were still religious. To say “he’s in a better place” or “we’ll meet again one day” and genuinely believe it would make death a lot less painful, but I’m also glad that I don’t try to cheapen a death by convincing myself that, for whatever reason, it’s not that bad or not that permanent. People die and it sucks and they don’t come back and we don’t high-five in heaven. In a case like this, I am comforted by the knowledge that the ripple he made in my life was a positive one and I can only hope that he led a life he enjoyed.

I was just looking for a photo of us to post here and it seems that we haven’t been photographed together in years. The best I’ve got is this one, with RJ in the white tie and hat, flipping the camera off.

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It seems somewhat appropriate, in the final week of both of our college experiences, for me to take this chance to remember him as we were when I first met him–inside Pike, well-dressed but not entirely sophisticated, and filled with a verve only felt by the young and recklessly naive. RJ is far from perfect, but he is loved (not was far from perfect or was loved, because I don’t think his death makes him any more perfect or less loved than he was just yesterday) and I will miss him dearly.

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Post-collegiate #1

Does that sinking feeling that you ought to be doing homework whenever you’re relaxing ever fade completely, or does it just evolve?

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BEDAFAIL 2012: Get it together, America

Would it be so hard to mark foods “vegeterian friendly” on the back? Would it?

“Mind the gap” makes substantially more sense than “watch the gap.” You’re supposed to be mindful of the gap as you step over it. Watch that gap too closely and your head’s getting clipped by the oncoming train.

Chips in debit cards. I don’t understand them, but apparently they’re more secure and I’m sick of having cashiers literally hold up my debit card to compare it with my signature on the receipt before giving me my hummus.

Two story buses. They’re efficient.

Two story coffee shops. They just look so much nicer. Basements are cozy and second floors have good views.

Really? Big ol’ city like San Francisco and all it gets is literally one line of underground transport?

Speaking of public transport, let’s get back into trains. They have all the “seeing things” wonders of car travel without the “I need to be sober and alert so I can operate this safely” downsides of driving.

Get Rekorderlig cider. Now. I want to be drunk on this stuff every day until I fly back just so I can remember it in all its glory.

Get better fast food. Maybe if we had places like Pret a Manger and Eat, we’d be a little less inclined to eat triple scary cholesterol burgers with extra greasy fries for lunch.

We need some higher expectations of our quiz shows. I don’t want to see a hick ask an “ordinary” American lady inane questions about the useless information we learn over the course of our elementary school education. I want a well-respected writer, performer, and generally amazing human being (Stephen Fry) having highly entertaining discussions with genuinely intelligent people about genuinely fascinating information.

Sport coats. Every man in America, buy them. Wear regularly. Enjoy immediately increased attractiveness.

Weetabix. Biscoff. Butternut squash everything. Malteasers. British beer. Halloumi. Please and thank you.

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BEDAFAIL 2012: Be grateful for America

Be grateful for America.

Be grateful for Starbucks, where your tea can come iced, your lattes can come skinny, and your barista understands “triple grande skinny caramel latte, no foam” no matter how quickly you say it.

Be grateful for Splenda because it’s everywhere and because seriously, Costa Coffee, no one even likes Sweet N Low.

Be grateful for Target on those days when you need tampons, earrings, dinner, and a curtain rod and you just cannot be bothered to go to four different stores.

Be grateful for new buildings. They might not have grand histories and they were probably built in the 1980s so let’s face it, they’re hideous, but at least they adhere to modern accessibility codes. Human beings can fit in the bathroom stalls and if you need to get your heavy suitcases to the second floor, you can usually take the elevator.

Be grateful for your entire shelves with dozens of varieties of a single product. When I want detergent, I want Tide HE Sport with Fresh Linen scent, not “that one on the shelf in Tesco.”

Be grateful for granola bars of all flavors, sizes, and protein levels.

Be grateful for nutrition facts with serving sizes you can measure. I have no idea how much 100 grams of soup is.

Be grateful for potable water coming out of all the taps, not just ones in kitchens (sorry, environment).

Be grateful for lawyers who wear suits and ties, not robes and wigs, because they understand that it’s 2012.

Be grateful for your production studios and for the fact that you’ve rarely, if ever, encountered a “This content is not available in your country” notice on a website.

Be grateful for the wild consumerism that makes for amazing commercials.

Be grateful for a grading system where “doing 100% of what was asked” earns you a 100%, not a 70.

Be grateful for your sunny California summers and for your vast countryside that just begs for road trips.

America isn’t perfect in any way, but it’s still pretty cool. Be grateful for weird, gigantic, fantastic America.

America, you’re awesome. Sorry I didn’t appreciate you for so many years. I’ll see you soon.

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BEDAFAIL 2012: Springtime depression

You know that thing where people tend to be more depressed in the winter due to long nights, dark days, and bad weather?

Welcome to springtime in London. I felt so bad that Janine came to visit and it rained a few days she was here, but I would love to have those days again (though admittedly not just because they were less rainy). It has rained every day since she left–how poetic–and today, the day when I was ready to finally get some coursework done, it has been pouring and/or hailing for the last seven hours. Pouring in London isn’t like pouring in California though: I’d contend that here, it’s not the volume of water coming down from the sky but the violence of each individual water droplet that makes it so unbearable. Umbrellas are borderline useless when the wind is busy either turning your umbrella inside out or blowing the raindrops horizontally.

Anyway, I woke up at 7 am and stayed in bed until 1. I wasn’t reading or sleeping or screwing around on the internet, I was just laying there, curled into a ball, thinking of the number of days until my flight home (35 including today). I’ve been alone a lot and not like I was alone in high school, where there were people in my classes and teachers asking me questions and a family to come home to. I’ve been literally alone. Alone or in the company of exclusively strangers and it’s starting to get to me. It’s sucking up my energy and my motivation to do ONE DAMN PROJECT and then I’m DONE WITH COLLEGE but it’s just so hard.

So sorry to everyone at home, who is suddenly getting multiple skype calls a day, and sorry to Janine, who I never want to stop texting because even if it’s not a phone call and it’s not face-to-face, it’s something.

I miss everyone and everything and no, right now, I’m not having a great time. I’m lonely and it sucks.

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