Lost Notes

Right now I’m sitting on an air mattress waiting for my parents to arrive with all of my stuff. My new bedroom walls are grey (which is a good thing, I’m obsessed with the color grey right now), and my suitcase is serving as a makeshift bedside table/ desk. Soon my room will be filled with stuff I mostly don’t need, a few things I do, and the mementos I delicately packed of all my life up ’till now.

Some of you may know that my computer decided to crash a measly two days before my move. By that I mean my hard drive failed. I had (and still have) an external hard drive in my Amazon shopping cart, but that didn’t do me much good. Every thing I had saved on my computer is gone. My music. Everything I’ve written in the past 4 years. My photos.

I’m pretty sure that I have some things saved on USB drives, but I don’t know what things I have saved or where said USBs are. I guess when I unpack, those are some of the things I’ll find.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect though. I’m done with school, so the papers I’ve written don’t really matter anymore. Sure, I would like to have record of them, but they aren’t necessary. The stories saved don’t really add up to much either. Maybe with their loss, I’ll even feel compelled to start again.

I’m sad about the music. More sad than I am about the photos, because most of those are on Facebook. Although I am not musically talented, music is extremely important to me. The music I listen to reflects very concretely the mental state that I am in. I listen to sad music when I’m sad, and happy music when I’m happy. A song plays, by coincidence, at the exact right moment, and suddenly you can never hear the song without remembering where you were at the moment. Who you were with, how you felt. What you were thinking. Or, a song comes on the radio and though you’ve heard it a thousand times before, you’ve never heard it when you felt the way you do now.. Suddenly the song is transformed, from a song you like to a song that represents, in better poetry than you could ever imagine, exactly how you feel.

I no longer have that record, that musical memory. I no longer possess a collected list of all the songs I’ve loved since the summer before my Freshman year in college. Lately, I ‘skipped’ more songs than I played, but I miss that music. I miss the songs I got from friends, from boys I liked, from the websites of favorite bands.

The timing for my hard drive failing was actually quite profound… I’m starting a new chapter of my life. I’m regenerating, as I have said many times before. I guess my computer crashing is like my TARDIS getting redesigned. I still have those memories, somewhere, but they will be a little harder to reach and it won’t seem quite the same when I find them.

Now I get to start again.

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Preparations

I’m moving in a matter of days. No, worse than that. Since it’s after midnight I’ve moving the day after the day after tomorrow. Holy shit.

I’ve known since January that I would be moving to DC. There have been times when I thought the day would never come, and times when I wish I didn’t have to go at all. But the day has nearly arrived. I have only a few last minute things to pick up and to finish packing all of my clothes and then everything will be sorted. I fly out on Thursday, and my parents will follow in their mini-van on Saturday with a bunch of my stuff.

How do I have so much stuff? I promised myself I would minimize all the things I brought on my move, but somehow I have more stuff than I ever could have imagined. It doesn’t help, I suppose, that my mother thinks it’s necessary to stock up on paper goods before the move. This is the same woman who snuck a roll of toilet paper in my suitcase when I studied abroad in England, because she wasn’t sure about there being toilet paper in that country, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It seems as though I  have more toilet paper, paper towels, and now paper plates than I could use in a year…

Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll be so tired when I get home from work that I won’t want to do anything at all. Well… maybe that’s true. But I hope it’s not because I have some big plans.

1) Learn Dutch – Ik leer Nederlands! I’ve been trying to learn/teach myself Dutch and so far it’s going all right. Although I usually don’t know what they mean, I can read most Dutch words. I have a pretty solid grasp on pronunciation and the sounds that all the letters and vowel combinations make. This is due mainly to a YouTube channel called dutchforn00bs. Seriously, she’s incredibly helpful, especially because there aren’t any easy, well-designed websites for learning Dutch as there are for other languages. Which brings me to…

2) Learn French using Duolingo. This site is seriously amazing. I have no idea how they can do what they do for free, but it’s awesome. They offer French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, hopefully with more to come. It’s like a game, where you rack up points based on how well you do in each practice. There are discussion boards, and you can go as quickly or slowly as you want through the program. I’ve yet to see if I’ll retain anything from the site, but it’s still pretty freaking cool. There’s also an iPhone app, so you can practice on the go!

3) Before I start work, go to as many free or inexpensive museums and attractions as possible.
To Include (among others):
The (new) NPR Headquarters
The National Zoo
National Air and Space Museum
FDR Memorial
Jefferson Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Library of Congress
National Building Museum
National Museum of American History
National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum
The Holocaust Museum
Rock Creek Park

Perhaps I shall write blog posts about these?

4) Spend a month exploring each neighborhood and it’s offerings.
Excepting Downtown and the mainly residential neighborhoods, I want to spend all the weekends in one month exploring a particular neighborhood. Starting with my own, then moving to Georgetown, Dupont, Adams Morgan, etc.

5) Find my favorite spots.
Perhaps this should be higher on the list. I want to run around and explore enough that I can pick favorites and know them to be correct. Favorite coffee shop/cafe, favorite bar, favorite brunch place, favorite… grocery store…? You get the idea.

6) Cook good food.
I intend to cook ‘from-scratch’ dinners at least 3 nights a week. This allows 4 nights for leftovers, frozen and partially prepared meals, and dining out. I think I can manage that, even if I end up eating grilled cheese once a week.

7) Write.
I’m not certain whether that means keep writing this blog, which I hope to do (maybe I’ll even add pictures, yay!) or actually branch out and start writing stories again. A little of both, if I’m lucky.

Next time I post here, I’ll be in DC!!!

On Writing.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Most of that time, I wanted to be an novelist, specifically. A writer of books, of fiction. A creator of worlds either drastically different from our own or perhaps not so different at all.

I don’t talk about this particular dream much these days, largely because I’ve all but given up on it. I barely write fiction anymore, and when I do, I can’t seem to fill more than 3 or 4 typed pages. This would be fine if I were capable of writing short stories, but alas, every idea I’ve ever come up with has been for a novel. The number of wasted notebooks, half-filled with abandoned novels, makes the environmentalist in me shudder. “This time,” I would always promise myself, “this time I’ll actually finish it.” I never have.

The most I’ve ever written on one story was for NaNoWriMo 2010. It was a story I’d come up with 5 years earlier and I managed to get down about 27,000 words. I still have the story in my mind; I know what happens. But somehow I can’t manage to put the rest of it down on paper (or in this case, in type). The same goes for multiple other stories that I have started on. I just can’t seem to put them down. To get them out.

I keep thinking that with all the free time I’ll be having soon (what do people do from 6pm to bedtime??) I’ll start writing again. I hope I do. I hope the city sparks in me the creativity that I’ve been searching for for the last three years. I hope that it inspires me. I miss writing. Really writing, not just blogging (although I enjoy this, too).

In my life, I’ve always written as an escape. I lived vicariously through characters in the books I read and by writing, I could live a life that I designed specifically to free me from my fears and to bring me a happy ending of some kind (usually with a hot dude). I was never so opaque as to write myself directly into my stories, but I often made characters that were who I wanted to be, or who shared a trait or two with me.

I’m not sure if this blog has actually helped or hindered my creativity. Instead of using fiction as an escape, I come here, or to my private journal and wax philosophical about life and anxieties and really just a lot of self-reflective, self-important bullshit. This is my outlet, but it’s hardly a creative one.

I think that maybe I’m at the point in my life when I’ve experienced enough that big, grandeur dreams aren’t quite so necessary – I’m no longer the trapped 15-year-old struggling with her identity, but where I still don’t know enough about life, love, and all other miscellany to “write what I know.” Without the dreams to draw on, or the knowledge to inform me, I just don’t seem to have anything to write about.

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Reflections

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about a great many things. I’ve said all my goodbyes and though many of them still sting, there’s not much I can do about it. I’m gone from Bloomington, but I miss it. I spent the weekend in Columbus, Ohio with friends from high school, and oddly, I missed Bloomington more there than I did when I first arrived at my parents house. Perhaps the fact that I graduated a week ago was setting in… Columbus is nice. It’s a big city, but it’s very spread out. It’s not really feasible to walk anywhere, at least from my friends’ place, and it took us 30 minutes on the bus to get downtown.

Seeing the OSU campus just reminded me of why I went to IU. IU is GORGEOUS. The trees, the limestone, the flowers that seem to magically appear but which are really planted by landscaping workers at 6:30 in the morning at the beginning of spring… Bloomington is this lovely, idyllic town with friendly people and fairly quiet streets. It’s a utopia of forward-thinking, patient, and genuinely kind people. OSU is mangey and dark. Also, they renamed the street that their football stadium is on “12 and 0 row.” I know that IU is a bit preoccupied with sports, but really? Really? Ugh.

I have nothing against people that go or went to Ohio State. We all go to different places for different reasons. Still, seeing that campus for the first time in 7 or 8 years made me so glad that I decided on Indiana. Not that I ever even considered attending Ohio State – I didn’t even apply there. Nonetheless, it made me happier in my decision, and it was that happiness, I think, that made me miss the place even more.

Hanging out with friends from high school made me realize how changed I am since I started college. I was this shy girl, who’d never done much. I was afraid of everything – of failure, of rejection, of making too many mistakes, of making the wrong decisions, of misbehaving… I spent my time reading and living vicariously through fictional characters who were far braver than I. Even then, I had an intense desire to travel, having already visited England on an AP Lit tour and several islands in the Caribbean on two cruises. The interest in travel was there then, but the need hadn’t developed yet.

I was bad at meeting people – too afraid of rejection to put myself out there. I like to think I’ve changed from that, but I know that at heart I still fear rejection more than almost anything else. It has lessened, but it’s still there. I was once afraid to speak my mind – that has changed significantly… now, good luck to anyone who wants to get me to shut up! I’ll rant about my beliefs for as long as I have a captive audience.

For many years, I was preoccupied with the notion that I was waiting for my life to begin. I was waiting for things to happen to me. In the past 12 months, I’ve realized that my life has been here all along. Waiting around isn’t what makes a life worth living – doing things is. If all you do is sit back and wait for things to happen, nothing will. When I went to England to study abroad, and travelled, and made friends with people from all over Europe… That’s when I realized that they only way to live is to do so on purpose. Sometimes, okay, most of the time, it’s difficult. There’s a reason that most people do not end up very far from their hometown. Family brings them there, and comfort prevents them from leaving. It’s certainly easier to stay at home and watch movies than to walk or drive across town or the state to see a friend. I am guilty of doing so on more occasions that I would like to admit.

I want to keep challenging myself. To do the scary things. To remember that no reward comes without risk.

I guess that’s what moving to DC is really all about.

Going, going, gone.

Well I’m here. I’m at my parents’ house. I won’t call it home, because it’s not. It hasn’t been home for a while now.. I left my home this morning and who knows when I’ll find a new one. Hopefully, I’ll at least have a residence by the time I start my job…

I promise that when I get to DC, this blog will morph in to something more interesting than me being sad about the end of college. That’s pretty much all this thing has been since January. But for now, I’m stuck in Ohio, and there’s not much to do but sit at home on my computer. I may as well do something mildy productive, and write…

This morning was rough. It took far longer to move all of my stuff down the three and a half flights of stairs to my car than I expected. I lost track of how many trips it took, but my legs are sore now, only 4 hours later, so let’s just say there were many.

As predicted, I reenacted the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration scene:

There were considerably more tears though.. In fact, it would be fair to say I looked more like this:

Or even this:

Yeah, definitely that last one.

I’ve calmed down now though. I had a three hour drive to dry my tears and gather my thoughts. College is behind me now. In time, and in space (if you consider a place west of you as being “behind” you, Indiana is west of Ohio).

College was everything I wanted it to be in none of the ways I expected. And it sucks, it sucks to have left that place behind. College is the best thing I’ve done so far, but I’m only 22 – I haven’t done that much. The best years of my life are ahead of me.

I’m about to embark on this huge adventure and, yes, I do think I’m being brave. I’m scared as shit, but I’m going. I never, for even a minute, seriously considered not going after the decision had been made. There were moments when I wished I weren’t going. Or times when I wished I had more time… but I always knew I would go.

College was where I learned to love myself. Sometimes we still get in arguments and there are certainly times when I hate myself, but for the most part, we’re pretty happy together. It was where I learned to rely on other people instead of always being independent and shut off. It was where I learned to ask for help when I needed it. I also learned more than I care to explain about the Indians of Indiana, Dante’s Inferno, oh, and finite math. Well, I’m not actually sure I learned anything about finite, now that I think about it…

The fact that I am so sad to have left Bloomington and the people I love in Indiana is just a testament to how happy I was there. It’s only sad to leave a place you liked, a place that is attached to happy memories. I daren’t quote Dr. Seuss, but it’s true… I’m so grateful that it simply happened.

I’ll see you again.

This isn’t goodbye, not really.

I love you, keep in touch.

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End Times

So I missed April altogether. It was a busy month, full of trying to make the best of the time I had left and stressing out from massive amounts of school work.

I’m moving in a month, and I still don’t have a place to live. I went to DC last weekend and looked at places, but as of today, officially, none of them worked out. I’m trying to convince myself that the trip wasn’t a waste, that it helped me get to know the city and know where I want to be and where I don’t, but I can’t help but regret not having spent that last weekend in Bloomington with everyone, especially since nothing panned out as I wanted it to.

I had this post planned about how finding an apartment is like dating, only way worse, but I’m going to wait to write it until I’m a little distanced from the process. It’s probably an overused metaphor anyway, so maybe I won’t even bother. Basically this: dating someone is really nice but having a place to live is considerably more important. Therefore, when you’re rejected from a place to live it stings about 10x as much being rejected by a date. But hey, maybe knowing that will make dating in the city easier…

Somehow two days before graduation, it’s almost 11 at night and I’m sitting alone in my apartment. I should be packing, but all I can do is mope – partly because of having been rejected yet again from an apartment and partly because I’m alone when I should be spending time with friends – after all, it’s my last chance to do so.

Leaving is hard. Leaving here is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I’m still a few days away from actually going. I just can’t deal with the fact that I’ll never see most of these people again. Yes, I’ll stay in touch with the most important people. I’ve promised myself that much. But it won’t be the same. I won’t see them on my way to class, or run in to them in Collins. I won’t chat with them and ask them how their semester is going.

I keep seeing incoming Freshmen on tours and I’m so jealous of them it makes me angry. “ENJOY IT” I want to yell at them, “IT WILL GO FAR FASTER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE!”

I know that I will get over this. I know that I will move on and grow up and someday it won’t hurt anymore. Probably sooner than I think. But in the mean time, it hurts so fucking much.

Sometimes I think, “oh, I’m not ready to leave, I can’t do this.” But that’s not true. I am ready. I’ve been ready for a while now. It’s time to regenerate. I know I have to do it, and I’m fairly sure that I’ll make it out alive. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be crying and screaming, “I don’t want to go,” a la The Tenth Doctor.

I’m moving (theoretically) to a huge city where things are always happening and there are MILLIONS of people, so, statistically, there must be at least a few people I could be friends with. And I have a job, which is more than many people my age can say.

It’s going to be an adventure, and I’m excited for it. I am, I swear. Don’t let the tears fool you.

Why Society Blames the Victim

Disclaimer: This is my opinion. I, in no way, advocate victim-blaming. But I think it’s important that we try to understand why rape is the only violent crime for which victim-blaming is prevalent.

Anyway.

So first off, I want to consider the small victory that was the conviction of these boys. They were not let off (though their punishment could have been more severe…)  This serves as an example to young men and young women. Women – you can press charges and you can have those charges taken seriously.  So many cases of rape go unreported because of confusion about the situation, or fear that pressing charges would be fruitless. Well here is a high profile example of reporting a rape making something happen. And for men – yep, you sure can get thrown in jail for rape. Even if you’re the star of the football team, even if you’re “going places.” Guess what, you’re not anymore.

The result of this trial is a good thing. It means that our justice system is making strides and that change could really be coming. I highly doubt that fifty, even twenty years ago, the trial would have had this result.

The bad thing, as we all know, is the news media’s coverage of this trial. Victim blaming, releasing the name of the girl (which has resulted in her receiving threats), worrying more about the well-being of the young men than the victim… all of these are things that news media did wrong.

But why do people blame the victim? I think it’s because of fear. It’s because we want to believe that rape isn’t as common as it really is. We victim-blame as a form of self-preservation. This person was raped because she was too drunk – well, I don’t get as drunk as she does. This person was raped because she dressed too provocatively – I don’t dress that way, so I won’t get raped. This person was raped because someone dropped something in her drink – I watch my drink at all times, so that won’t happen to me.

We come up with situations that place blame on the victim, because it gives us the illusion of control. “If I behave differently than the girl who was raped, then I won’t get raped.” We want to have control over the situation. We want to believe that if we act the right way and dress the right way, we will be invulnerable. To accept that it is not the victim’s fault, is to acknowledge that we have no control over other peoples’ actions, that we have no true agency in determining whether or not we will be a victim of rape.

The only way to protect ourselves is by avoiding ‘risky’ behaviors. And even that doesn’t always work. The reality of the situation is that women constantly live their lives in fear of being rape. Women choose to not to live on the ground floor, so someone doesn’t break in and attack us. We don’t walk home alone at night, so that we don’t get attacked. We don’t make eye-contact with strangers, because we don’t want them to pay too much attention to us. The fact of the matter is that over 50% of rapes occur in daylight hours. Avoiding walking home alone at night does not make you invulnerable to rape.

I’m not excusing victim-blaming. It’s incredibly destructive. Rape victims are less likely to report rape if they think they will be held responsible, and when they do, being blamed can cause serious psychological problems, in addition to the ones that result from the rape itself . It’s disgusting to think that the person being violated could be held responsible for such an act.

Blaming the victim can make us feel safer. But it does not actually make us any safer.

The only solution to rape is to change the culture.

 

 

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Changing Perspective

I’ve been looking at things the wrong way.

For the past month, I’ve been sad when I should be happy. I’ve been so worried about leaving that I haven’t considered the fact that I’m going. Yes, it’s true. I have loved my time in Bloomington and at IU. I will be saying goodbye to lots of friends and meaningful places.

Things are going to be different, and I’m scared. But since when has being scared of something ever been a good reason not to do it, not to run towards it? It’s like when you jump off something high – you have to get a running start.

I’m moving to a city. A huge, important city, with history, and people that matter. Maybe I’ll get lost in the shuffle, but wasn’t I afraid of the same thing when I came to IU? I know that, just as I did here, I will find my way out. I’ll find my niche, even if it takes a while.

I’ve always had this problem… I get stuck in the past, stuck thinking about all the things I’m going to miss instead of all the new things I’m going to love. I’ll meet new people, make new friends. And it will be hard. But I will feel that much stronger for having done so.

There are concerts in DC, and bars, and a fast-paced lifestyle. Public transportation that doesn’t suck. There are museums that I vow not to take for granted. I’ll go to the Smithsonian once a week for the first month. I’ll go on the White House tour until I get on one that’s surprised by the President and the First Lady. I’ll go to NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. I’ll go see live comedy, and live music and plays. I’ll take a train to New York City, or Boston, or Philly or wherever. I’ll rent a car and go to Polyface Farms for freshly slaughtered chicken (I’ll try not to think about it when I’m eating).

For the first time since the beginning of January when I was offered the job, I am really and truly excited to move. It’s going to be scary, and it’s going to be difficult. Saying goodbye is going to suck. But if I plan to enjoy all of the time I’ve got left (and I do) it will be a lot easier if I’m not moody and sad half of the time.

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Narcissism.

I think it’s possible that I’m a narcissist. For what other reason would I be sharing all of these rants and raves and personal anxieties with whoever chooses to read them? Why would I want strangers or acquaintances to know that I’m both scared and excited to graduate? That no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop being sad in advance?

Of course, there are some (a very few) people who read this blog occasionally and who deserve to or want to know the things I say. Or at least I tell myself that there are. There are certainly people who I want to read it. In many entries, I’m writing with these specific people in mind.

A blog is a nice way to send out your thoughts, and never know if the person you meant them for received them, but still feel comforted by the effort. Even if you don’t read it today or tomorrow. Even if you never do, at least the things I wanted to say were sent out in to the cosmos. The interwebz.

If you think I get personal on this blog, well damn, you should see my actual journal… Not to worry though, you never will.

In which Allison is sad and perhaps a bit overdramatic.

There will come a time when I no longer know you. Maybe it will take longer than it did in our parents’ era – what with Facebook and social media making it so much easier to keep track of people you barely know… but at some point I will grow up enough that I will no longer feel a desire to check Facebook everyday. My life will be filled with work and maybe family and hopefully crazy beautiful places and dear friends. But in all likelihood, you won’t be in it.

I’m not trying to be an asshole here. I’m just being realistic. You won’t be in my life anymore. We’ll each have moved so many times that somehow we lost track of who was where and doing what. Maybe I’ll get invited to your wedding. Maybe I’ll be able to take off work to go. I hope so – I really want to go to your wedding. I bet it’ll be a kickass party. Maybe I’ll see the status update that announces you’re having a kid or maybe you’ll have long since deleted your Facebook and I’ll only think of you when I remember the time we spent together.

Is this what growing up means? Does it mean that people who have been in your life and been the most important people in your life for so long suddenly disappear? That you start over somewhere else and meet new people who are the most important to you. But then you go somewhere else and you have start over again…

I don’t want to stay in one place for my whole life. The thought of that is just… not fun. But if I commit to keep moving around, then I am basically promising everyone I meet that someday, they will no longer be in my life.

I’ll remember you. In some ways, you’ll be impossible to forget, even if I wanted to… You’ll always be important. You’re part of why I am who I am and why I will be who I will be.

But you won’t be there.

I want you to be there.

I hate this. I hate that leaving means leaving people behind. I want to get out of here and make a change and do things differently but the fact that soon we will all be going our separate ways just makes me terribly, terribly sad. I am not good at keeping in touch with people. Sometimes, it takes a significant effort to remember to text you. Even if I’m thinking about you a lot, I’ll either assume that you’re busy or just won’t have anything particular to say. I’m awful about that. And I’m sorry for it, but I think I’ll be even more sorry soon. When you’re gone. When I’m gone.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I didn’t want to be sad today.

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