August 22, 2012

As for firsts and lasts

Monday night was my last night in my bed, in my home. I listened to Birdy and packed; by Tuesday at 7, everything was in bags. 

We stayed the night at my aunt's house, which is halfway to the city, and came in a little after 10 this morning. On Tuesday I went into town to pick up my last paycheck (yes!) and to celebrate stopped by the local competing frozen yogurt place, where I actually ran into some people from my high school, which was nice. My gradual goodbyes actually worked out pretty well, I think. I saw some close friends - Josh, Jo, Laura, Rosemary, etc. - at the annual tea party, went out to lunch with some friends - Jo and Rachel - and hung out with some people - Zeke and Jacob. I was actually proactively social! Progress! 

It was so strange to actually start packing my bags from my dressers and thinking to myself get everything, not the typical selective mentality when packing for a trip or vacation. It's different. It's odd. On my way out of the house, I just walked down the hallway upstairs and walked through the progression in reverse (regression) of all of my yearly school photographs. I feel as if I've been so many different people. I saw how far I've come. The evolution of you, when one is forced to confront it, is pretty overwhelming. 

I just got back from the 'introductory' part of COÖP, where we played intro games and ice breakers from about 3-6, then we ate pizza and talked on the quad in our trip groups, and went back to our rooms to pack our dry bags. 

Tonight, we'll be sleeping on the quad, and then leave in the morning for a 4-day river canoeing trip down the Delaware River. I hope I didn't overpack. I hope I share a tent with someone nice. I hope I don't get too exhausted while we're on the river. I hope I'm a good member of the team. I'm really nervous. We get back Sunday night. I kind of just want classes to start. Here goes. 

August 17, 2012

As for concluding the conclusion

This summer is and was the trail end of my years in high school. I have yet to move on to the next step, and still linger in my hometown. And, with less than one week left at home, I just can't wait for it to be over. My yoga subscription has ended, television shows I was marathoning are done with, and I'm pretty bored. Even last night, a friend was having a get-together, and because I didn't know many of the people too well and there weren't any girls I knew that I could go with, I just backed out and stayed home and watched Reality Bites (which was amazing - Ben Stiller, Ethan Hawke, and Winona Ryder). So, I'm feeling a bit stale. I don't feel like packing. Ugh.

However, I did eventually get off my butt, did another chapter of French today, read another book of The Iliad, watched the pilot episodes of Sex and the City and The Sopranos and baked a chocolate blueberry tart. Yummm.

 I'm thinking of staying home instead of going on this little trip with my family tonight to stay on track with my French, actually do some packing and be productive about it, and bake something for the annual tea party my friends throw (which is tomorrow!). So, I think it would be for the best. I'm in the home stretch now! Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, done! Woah.

August 11, 2012

As for 'productivity' and self-maintenance

Today I studied French for an hour. I celebrated that hour of productivity by doing nothing for the rest of the day - note to college self: when you are dying of stress, be jealous of current self. Needless to say, it actually was a very focused hour and I actually have been making progress in The Iliad so...good for me. I really want/need to test into the Intermediate language course by way of the placement test offered during orientation, so I'm trying to get back up to speed with my French, seeing as I haven't taken or spoken it since March. It's annoying, but I'd rather study now than start all over (oh, please, hopefully that doesn't happen). Also concerning my foreign language study, for the past year or so I've been counting Comparative Literature as a viable option for a major, considering its focus on not only literature's role in culture, but other modes of expression as well, and its cross-cultural nature. However, I just found out that the requirements for the major and concentration include extensive study of two foreign languages. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Half of me is disheartened, because that would mean a lot more time studying language and less time studying culture and literature, but the other half of me is excited by the idea of learning Italian or a Slavic language. I guess time (and actual decision making) will tell what I end up doing. Deciding what major I want to declare and what career I want to pursue has been taking up a lot of my brain space this summer. I know it's kind of ridiculous but I simply can't help it. Without college apps to obsess over, I need to pick something else to take its place, and it just so happens in this pre-frosh state where I don't know much about my future role in any extracurriculars, classes, or internships, majors and careers are the most immediate 'decisions' I have to plan for. It's insane for me to be thinking so much about these things, but at least the fact that I acknowledge that insanity must be a vote in favor of my sanity, right?

As for my current state of physical/mental health - it's the best it has ever been. I've just realized this. By doing yoga 4-6 times a week and avoiding the unbalanced mode of eating that I'd gotten into over the past two years. I'm learning to eat meals at normal times and not to obsess so much. Ironically, in the (recent) past, the more I focus on how long it's been since I last ate or what I have ate so far presented a kind of skewed reward system, as a result of which I would eat healthy food and then more unhealthy or carb-heavy food either as a 'reward' or to compensate for my nutrient deficiencies thus far. By finding the right type of exercise for me (focused on mind and body, anaerobic, goal-oriented),  I can eat good things more, when I want to, but feel centered enough to not feel the urge to binge or fixate. To my surprise, earlier this week, after about a month of not stepping onto a scale, I had arrived at a fantastic mean weight nearly by accident. It is far from my peaks, and a small but healthy distance from my low-points this year, which were not based on healthy habits. Now, I just need to keep this up through the school year. Hopefully through relatively consistent yoga practice (either through a class for credit, a gym class, or a nearby studio) and balanced, aware choices, this will be a natural physical transition. Also, as a note to future self, I do hope to complete a juice cleanse at some point this fall, or as soon as I can get my hands on one. In theory, I can really see this type of thing as satisfying my neuroses (ultimate control!) while also being really healthy and making me feel good. If and when the time comes, details will abound.

P.S. I used the term 'life-affirming' in conversation today with my instructor. I think we can all agree, from the honest nature of the above paragraph, and how I'm more open to an awareness-based type of spirituality (those who know me well know that I curl my lip at most/all religious institutions*) that my experiences this summer, however mainly boring my days may have been, affected a significant amount of positive change on how I approach day-to-day life.

*I by no means look down upon religion as a vessel for hope or culture, but when it is treated dogmatically, or its outlook applied to topics in the public sphere, such as the economy, social services, politics, and policies (as it so often is and has been in centuries passed), I simply cannot help but detest it.

P.P.S. I have officially practiced 50 hours of yoga this summer. Huzzah!

August 9, 2012

As for more sounds of summer

Here's a selection of some (mostly) acoustic music I've been listening to lately - it's got its fair share of sad female vocalists as well as bands such as Beirut and Fleet Foxes. Enjoy!

And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop - James Vincent McMorrow
Battery Kinzie - Fleet Foxes
Blinding (Acoustic) - Florence + The Machine
We Are Modern Art - Olivia Drusin
It Was Right There - Emily and The Woods
Internal Dialogue - Maria Mena
The Bad In Each Other - Feist
Love Out of Lust - Lykke Li
Everest - Olivia Drusin
Goshen - Beirut
Sheets - Damien Jurado
1957 - Milo Greene
More Like Me - Emily and The Woods
Montezuma - Fleet Foxes
California - Joni Mitchell
East Harlem - Beirut
Wasted Hours - Arcade Fire

August 7, 2012

As for some minor events

This summer is requiring a lot of stamina. Not that the whole thing is some gruesome ordeal I'm forcing myself through (although there is a little truth in that), but more that there is an underlying inescapable routine to the whole thing. Even if I am doing enjoyable and relaxing activities, they are usually the same, over and over. Yoga's nice, reading's nice, eating on the porch is nice, work is....not nice. Either way, it can get a tad boring. I'm ready for the school year to start (but nervous for the camping trip and orientation).

This past weekend I actually broke routine (for once) and went to the Berkshires with my family to go to Tanglewood and see some theater. We went to Tanglewood Friday night - there was a solo male opera singer who I really enjoyed - and Saturday morning for the rehearsal (at which I munched on a cranberry scone and a skim cappuccino - ah, that was the life!).

The Portable Dorothy Parker (Penguin Classics)
That afternoon we went to Williamstown, ate at a delicious sushi restaurant (favorite: shrimp tempura) and saw A Month in the Country by Turgenev (read a piece on it here), which I really enjoyed. That and Chekhov's Three Sisters are the two Russian off-broadway shows I've seen, and I have to say, we're batting two for two right here. It didn't hurt that we had front row seats. I loved the minimalist stage design and staging in general. The translation was clear and moving - it was practically contemporary, although the costumes and society was clearly of Turgenev's time. So. Other than that. Either way, note to future self who lives in New York and has the opportunity to see a lot of theater: see more Russian plays. The next day we went to a small theater in Chester and saw a two-person contemporary play - meh. Moving on.

I've finally started reading my required summer reading - The Iliad. One book in, many more to go. Onward! This is (excluding The Odyssey which I "read" in ninth grade) my first time reading an ancient Greek epic. So far, I think I'm understanding everything. We'll see how my comprehension holds up in seminar (first impression anxiety, here I come). 

Ah, well. That's pretty much it. I'm at a local cafe now, dawdling on the internet. So it goes.

I remember nothing that happened worth relating this day. How many such days does mortal man pass!
—James Boswell, Journal, July 21, 1763

July 28, 2012

As for this summer rhythm

I realized yesterday that the days of the week mean nothing to me anymore - during the school year waking up to see those precious three letters Fri on the corner of my computer screen brought a rush of those precious happy hormones. But with a scattered work schedule and no outstanding structure otherwise, it finally solidified. I can't wait to go back to school. Now, this would not be the case if school was high school. Sure, maybe a couple of weeks prior to September I would start to feel a mix of dread (at waking up early, the slog of work) and elation (at finally having something to do with myself, seeing friends). But now I find myself counting the days, this time with a mix of excitement and deep-rooted anxiety (making new friends? picking classes? joining extracurriculars? living in New York City? being a college student? Ah!). Needless to say, this summer rhythm is fine, but I'm ready to be again where I am happiest: in a busy, stimulated, whirl.

Here are my summer rhythms. Enjoy!

This Time Tomorrow - The Kinks
Lost In My Mind - The Head and the Heart
Testament To Youth In Verse - The New Pornographers
Bedroom Eyes - Dum Dum Girls
Beginning To See The Light - The Velvet Underground
Lazy Line Painter Jane - Belle & Sebastian
White Nights - Oh Land
Breadcrumb Trail - Buried Beds
I Won't Miss It - Goat Boy
The Future Pt. 1 - Voxtrot
Play With Fire - The Rolling Stones
Montezuma - Fleet Foxes
I Found You - Alabama Shakes
Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) - Peter Sarstedt
Strangers - The Kinks
I Sing I Swim - Seabear
Our Window - Noah and the Whale

July 25, 2012

As for this silence

My summer thus far has featured a lot of silence. I haven't been making an effort to engage with people. The vast majority of the people I would want to spend time with are away, and I am comfortable spending time with myself, so this isn't too bad. What is wearing me down, however, is my lack of emotional engagement. I shouldn't have to point out that this factor is not necessarily satisfied in tandem with the first. It makes me sad. And because my mind is not immersed in academic affairs or assorted projects, this disengagement has become an incidental subject of frequent rumination.

This evening, I wrote this on a streetcorner.

I need to exorcise this loneliness from my bones,
to reprise the purity I once owned.
For I find myself standing here
with every concrete thing to fear
and not knowing if this is hell or home

Later, I spend an hour reading in a coffeeshop. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" by Joan Didion. I sip cranberry iced tea until it's gone and then I leave. I drive across the bridge, roll down my windows, play sad acoustic songs by female vocalists until I can feel the chords. The clouds turn pink and blue as the sun sets, but it's out of my sight. My mind wanders back to the boys of my time. I wonder sometimes if I meant something different to them than they meant to me - the fleeting, fervent kisses in cramped cars or en plein air. Was it ever about them? I don't think so. I wish it could have been. Those adventurous, sad, sweet reliefs. But in my silence I feel sad for what was; older, more distanced.

It's odd to know with utmost certainty what has happened. Because high school was a phase of life, and my experiences were my own. And these formative, defining, deeply meaningful experiences are somehow slapped with the label of 'high school experiences.' They are not to be trivialized, yet I feel farther away from them.