Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Down With the Sickness

I have the immune system of a mouse. Or a sick, cancer-ridden child. Or possibly a tiny newborn baby that literally just popped out of the womb and hasn't experienced the world enough to have immunity to anything. Whatever kind of thing I can compare my immune system to, the point is it sucks. A lot. 

And so, with my shitty immune system, I just spent the first part of my second week of school in bed. You'd think, as someone who spends a majority of winter and a big chunk of summer in bed with colds, I'd be used to it by now and could push through the pain. You'd be thinking wrong. I usually pride myself on my ability to push through anything, but I have two exceptions: head injuries, and colds. One is because of safety/depression reasons, and one is because I'm a huge baby. I'll leave you to guess which belongs to which. 

The thing is, when I'm sick it's not like I can just lie in bed and do my reading. I can't. It hurts to move, it hurts to sit up, and it hurts to lie down. I need sleep to get better but I can't sleep for too long because my nose and throat get clogged up with mucus if I don't blow my nose every five minutes. So now I'm four days behind in my reading, and I'm putting myself even further behind with the procrastination skills of a demigod. Seriously, people should worship me. 

Anyways, I'm officially done using my blog as a way to blow off homework. 

Stay healthy friends.

-E.B

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Look at my First Day

My first day in my Freshman dorm


I just experienced the last first day of school I'll have as an undergraduate, and if I'm being honest with myself, it wasn't exceptional or noteworthy in any meaningful way. My bike to campus was special not because of the day, but because I was riding with friends by my side. I experienced a momentary thrill of fear (and definitely anger) because a number of idiot pedestrians don't seem to realize the damage a bike can do when it hits them and not because this is the beginning of the end. I didn't enter the room of my first and only class of the day prepared with the brand new case of pens and pencils, the syllabus already printed out, books fresh from the bookstore the way I'd attended that very first lecture my freshman year. Instead I pulled out my tablet (the one thing in my backpack at the time) and typed out a few haphazard notes. 

I found myself wondering if this is the experience of seniors all over the country. Have we all been going through this surreal experience of unmet expectations. I was more concerned about whether my backpack had given me sweat stains than I was with the looming deadline of tuition. It was with great reluctance that I started marking future midterms and group presentations into my planner, something that'd provided an excellent source of stress and excitement in the last few years (I gave up halfway through my second class).

Is this something that others can relate to, or have I run into yet another unintended side effect of my semester abroad. Turkey taught me a great deal about remaining in the present and enjoying the moment. This attitude has obviously filtered into my life in the US, could it also be impacting my attitude on classes and graduation?

It's giving me pause, that's for sure, but overall I'm considering it a positive thing. I think I'll be able to focus on what makes me happy this year. Previously I was overwhelmed with guilt every time I blew off studying (which I did constantly). I couldn't read a book, couldn't draw, couldn't even write in my blog for fear of my time would be tainted by my own negative thoughts. I'm very sure this is the reason I was so susceptible to the depression that accompanied my concussion last year. The gentle hope I can feel filling my chest at this moment reassures me. I don't believe I'll be dealing with those same problems, which leaves me free to tackle any new issues I'll experience in the coming year. 


-E.B

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Moving Away to Move On



Anyone who has been reading this blog for the last few weeks has been a spectator to the emotional turmoil that I've been directing towards my ideas of home and belonging. Perhaps not the most fun of times, but for sure they've been interesting. Also absorbing.

Absorbing because I found myself, not for the first time, just sitting around thinking about the many detrimental parts of calling a place home (stoically ignoring the benefits too, but that's for another time). And a new reason to get the fuck away from whatever comforting area you've found yourself in has just occurred to me: being in a new place has come with the added benefit of not dwelling on my old fling that happened last semester as much as I had been doing over the last part of the summer.

I can come up with a few reasons as to why this might be happening. For one thing, I've been extremely busy. The last week has been full of unpacking, buying new furniture, lining up a job, and any number of small menial tasks that take up the day and don't leave a lot of time for reminiscing. For another, there's been quite a lot of drinking to go along with my busy days and, I'm happy to say, I'm very much the happy drunk. I don't call exes, I call my best friends. In the 7 years I've been drinking alcohol I've cried twice. Once was over a boy (I still cringe at how incredibly embarrassing that was) and once was when my Grandpa died (no shame there). Lastly, and I think this is the most prominent reason, getting away from my comfort zone has allowed me to shed off the things I was allowing myself to dwell on and give me a place that feels new. New enough to not want to tarnish it with the thoughts of a person who was recently taking up a huge piece of my headspace. 

Comfort for a short time is rejuvenating. Comfort for a long of time is stagnation. That's what was happening, ever so slowly, in Nevada. I was just sitting and torturing myself with events I can't and don't want to change. There is nothing about my situation that I should be complaining about, and moving to a new area is the perfect way to remind myself of that.

And yes, every once and a while I sit and force myself into the what-if game, or just start remembering all the good and bad that's stuck in my head all day. I'm okay with that. I don't want to wipe the past away, I just want to be able to move beyond it, and a way I'm accomplishing that is by physically doing so. Homes are great for safety and comfort but not so much for the type of daring needed to keep the past in the past. 

Don't stagnate friends.

-E.B

I'm Thankful For A Mattress

Yesterday as I was lying in bed, trying not to close my eyes because I was exhausted but it was barely 9:30, the most amazing realization came over me; I am lying on something I own. 

You have to know some things in order to understand why this is so significant to me. My parents are incredible people who are doing everything they can to ensure I'm happy, successful, and focused on what matters. Because of that mindset they do their best to pay for everything they can, and while that is the exact opposite of a problem, a side-effect of it all is I've never felt self-reliant. Thankfully they're good about letting me live my life and make my own decisions, but in the back of my mind I know I wouldn't be able to make these decisions if they weren't there helping me out. 

Again, this is not a problem, but it does mean that I get ridiculously excited about the fact that I OWN THIS MATTRESS! I worked, saved my own money, and then used that money to buy something functional for myself. This was the first official step towards claiming my independence!

Something I'd like to point out is that I am incredibly lucky this is the reason I'm excited to own a mattress. If I didn't have the parents I do, or they didn't have their solid middle class income to help out, I might be excited for different reasons. There are a lot of kids out there who are ecstatic at the idea of any mattress, owned or no, because they can't remember living in a real house before. There are some kids who were forced out of their homes and away from their comfortable beds who now live in refugee camps. There's a lot of poverty and displacement happening in the world today, and I can only be thankful that of all the different reasons why someone might be happy to own something for the first time in their lives, mine is that I just happened to have loving parents who ensured I didn't need to buy my own mattress until now, because they were there with it already. 

Thanks mama, thanks daddy.

-E.B

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Escaping Shades of Brown



I claim this place as my cage,
a thing I would deplore if it were not mine.
I lie awake every night listening to the coyotes laugh
and can only think the desert drove them mad.
They were so beautiful
so late at night
but with dawn they slide away into hills
that crumble apart beneath my fingers.

My version of grass is long stemmed weeds,
my love of rain comes from its absence,
and I want to think this life is ugly.
I want to see all the bad and none of the good
because that would make leaving an easy,
simple task. 

But it's not easy when life has been tinted
by shades of brown and gray.
That sagebrush smell has creeped its way 
into the facets of my life.
My car reeks of serenity after rain.
My hair is forever windblown.
My eyes match the blue-grey of small leaves that weep
with the blood of my childhood.

If only it were black and white I could merely hate this place
I no longer wish to call home.
Sagebrush roots are deep
and twisted into hearts like wire.
They are no easier to remove than the longing I feel
for those hottest and driest of days.
That blistering heat sinks into my soul and my heart
beats so much stronger for it.

I hate myself for my love.
I hate this place for its beauty.
I hate so I may forget,
and I hate to feel some form of distance
that long drives cannot provide. 

I embrace the coyote's madness as my own. 

I run to other deserts only to be pulled back by the mountain's call;
dragged back.
I shake in my bed and smooth dirt over the cracks in my heart.
Are they caused by the people or the place?
      I can't tell anymore.

I knew it was the moment I would remember
with such bittersweet feelings,
even if they all would not.
I look back on these people I used to know,
people who never knew me,
and laugh with the wild dogs in my backyard. 

It's time.

It's time to move on and run wild with another pack.
Instincts mean more than a heart's desire
so I follow them away from my nest.
I fly on dark pavement,
weighed down with thoughts of houses on hilltops
and the small leaves on sage,
but still I fly on.
Heartache and fear are my growing pains,
and I can only hope they'll never fade.

True passion cannot reside where we lay our bodies lay to rest.
Dreams don't take the form of where we are,
only where we strive to be.
It's time to find myself out in the craggy hills of the southwest,
in the crashing waves of undiscovered beaches.
I find saltwater in my tears
and wonder if it's enough to draw the tide to me.

If home is where the heart resides then no place is my home.
I have my beautiful cage in the peeling blue paint of my childhood,
I have the temporary love of a desert home
full to the brim of knowledge,
I have the creeping greens over ancient stone walls
far in the distance.

But I don't have a home. 
A home is for somedays,

and these days are now. 



Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Mad Ginger's Packing Tips



There are a few things I'm known for in my family. Procrastination, lateness, and messiness being three of many (just to give you all some examples). So it just goes to show just how excited I am to be moving to Tucson that I am partway packed a full three days before I'm actually leaving. Three days! Do you know how often this happens to me? I didn't even have this much done before I left on a life changing journey to a different country! An entirely new continent couldn't even get me packing up so early! And yet, here I am. My room is now the kind of messy that says a person is leaving rather than the kind of messy that says some creature has been living in its own filth for the past few months.

That's a big step for me. 

And I know a lot of people are going through the same things I'm going through at this moment. Universities are starting soon all over the country, prompting our mass exodus from the safety of our own homes into the nonsense that is sharing your living space with other young people. For those of you who, like me, are able to snatch up housing with roommates you actually know, congratulations! For those of you who, like me last year, have to take the gamble of unknown roomies, may the odds be ever in your favor. 

I have a packing list I'd like to share, but hopefully it won't be like the many that are strewn around pinterest. Those are all useful, but also they're all exactly the same. Of course you need a laptop. Don't be a dummy and forget your laptop, you shouldn't need to consult a list on the internet for that. No, the things I'll be mentioning are what you need to bring to keep out the crazy that will inevitably come knocking at some point in the semester.

I'm bringing a shit ton of books. Some are literary classics and some are the fantasy novels I've been reading since I was 8. I firmly believe in taking the time to read books that aren't assigned to you in class before you lose all the joy that comes from running the pages through your fingers so you can smell that amazing book smell. Bring books. (My favorites are Harry Potter, anything by Tamora Pierce, and a history of cancer)

Art. Get yourself some nice paintings. Not stupid paintings of flowers you get from Ross. Get yourself some actual art that grownups buy. I got lucky; I come from a family of artists who just loved sharing their work with their granddaughters. My inheritance from my grandparents came mostly in painting form, something I'm eternally grateful for. Art gives me pride in my house; in my room. It makes a house feel like a home without a lot of effort. I refuse to live in a trap house. I did that shit already and now it's time for something nicer that reminds me of my amazing family every time I look at it. 

I have a memory box that I take everywhere I'll be staying long term. It's for those times when nostalgia hits and going through Facebook isn't enough (so, always). The "diamond" my very first boyfriend gave me is in that box. So is the letter my grandma wrote to me when she found out she was going to die. By those are the family pictures my ma keeps printing out and sending to me. And under all that paper are my journals from high school for when I need to laugh at myself. Memory boxes store everything that, you guessed it, you want future you to have for eternity. The number of times I've cried over the contents of my box is slightly embarrassing, and it's worth having it around. 

A piggy bank. I don't know about you all, but I'm the worst with money. I spent over seven months with my credit card a mere 3 dollars from maxing out entirely. In Turkey I actually had to choose between food and booze because I couldn't pay for both. That is not a choice I make lightly as someone who loves both those items more than a lot of things in life. So a piggy bank is necessary. I want to go places and do things! I can't do that if I put all my cash on my cards and then blow it on trips to the mall because my love of flannel overrides my common sense. Flannel is amazing, but travel is better. 

This one might be a little on the common side, but whatever, it's important to me. I have my fancy camera charged, packed, and ready to go by the door. That is not something I'll be forgetting. Having a camera simultaneously encourages me to be present in the moment that I feel is beautiful enough to capture while fulfilling my nostalgic urges when I go back and look at all the pretty pictures. It also helps me keep up with this blog when I run out of things to say but still want to share what's happening in my life. It's a handy device my ma got me and I plan on making her proud of her investment. 

Yes, it is important to bring a planner, and that cute bathroom tote you bought on Amazon, and your pillows. But those are things that come in handy rather than keep you sane. Free time isn't something a lot of college students have, but it's important to carve some out. Take a mini trip with the money you save in your piggybank. Take lots of pictures with your camera. Put them in your memory box! And when you're done with that sit down and read about the first lady knight in the realm of Tortall next to the big abstract painting that gives you something to admire in your room. The little artsy things are just as important as a printer and computer, mmkay? Remember that. 

-E.B


Monday, August 1, 2016

A Bit of Creativity: Home and its Impact on me

I'm in a very sharing mood for some reason tonight. This is by no means a finished project, but I thought I'd put it out in the world before I go back to work on it. I'm leaving home in a week, but I'm not sure it's really home anymore. This has been causing me a not insignificant amount of doubt and nerves, so I wrote about it. I hope you all enjoy. 



"How can a place I claim is my cage be so damn beautiful? I lie awake every night listening to the coyotes laugh and can only think the desert drove them mad. They were so beautiful so late at night but with dawn they slide away into hills that crumble apart beneath my fingers. My version of grass is weeds when I'm here, and I want to think it's ugly. I want to see all the bad and none of the good because that would make leaving an easy, simple task. 

Leaving is never easy when life has been tinted by shades of brown and gray. That sagebrush smell has creeped its way into everything. My car reeks of serenity after rain. My eyes match the grey of small leaves that weep with the blood of our settlers and the lives they took, although they never admitted it was a human splayed across the dirt. Just another threat to rub back into the desert wild. 

If only it were black and white I could merely hate this place I no longer wish to call home. Sage roots are deep and twisted into hearts like wire. They are no easier to remove than the longing I feel for those hottest and driest of days. That blistering heat sinks into my soul and my heart beats all that much stronger for it. I hate myself for my love. I hate this place for its beauty. I hate so I may forget, and I hate to feel some form of distance that long drives cannot provide. 

I accept coyote's madness as my own. 

I run to other deserts only to be pulled back by the mountain's call. I shake in my bed and smooth dirt over the cracks in my heart. Are they caused by the people or the place? I can't tell anymore. We all knew it was time to lose touch but that makes it no less easy. I look back on these people I used to know, people who never knew me, and laugh with the wild dogs in my backyard. 

It's time.

It's time to move on and run wild with another pack. Instincts mean more than a heart's desire so I follow them away from my nest. I fly on dark pavement, weighed down with thoughts of houses on hilltops and the small leaves on sage, but still I fly on. Heartache and fear are my growing pains, and I can only hope they'll never disappear. True passion cannot reside where our bodies lay to rest, and dreams don't take the form of where we are, only where we strive to be. It's time to find myself out in the sands of the southwest, in the crashing waves of undiscovered beaches. I already find saltwater in my tears and wonder if it's enough to draw the tide to me.


If home is where the heart resides then no place is my home. I have my beautiful cage in the peeling blue paint of my childhood, I have the temporary love of a desert home full to the brim of untapped knowledge, I have the creeping greens over ancient stone walls far in the distance. I do not have a home."

Still very much a work in progress, but so far I'm happy with what I've got. This is the kind of thing I crank out in a single night when I'm feeling particularly creative.

-E.B

Working With Kids



Working with kids is hard. 

It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I've taken care of animals, worked as a museum attendant, and drove around giving people pizza but this, working with children, is fucking difficult. People underestimate those of us who are in this field because there's this weird idea that every childcare worker needs to be perfect and also they're job is easy so why aren't we all perfect?

Fuck that line of thinking. This shit is hard. I'm not even teaching yet, I'm running group games and helping out with emotional issues and I'm so worn out. 

See, I have to deal with your children getting in "wars" with each other. And that's not me calling it a war, that's them. They're all either at an age or just about to reach the age where every situation they're in is this serious, life or death matter that will always have dramatic consequences. So when two little girls are best friends one day, and not talking the next it's not just a matter of ignoring each other and finding better people to hang out with; it's a fucking war to them (something I find eternally frustrating). I also have to play the same game every.single.day. The number of times I'm asked to play knockout is pure insanity. And I like the game, but not a three times every day kind of like. There are certain kids who aren't allowed to play certain games, certain siblings not allowed to be on the same team, certain little guys I have to make sure get enough attention and ball time that they don't get discouraged and quit. There are teens I can rely on to make good decisions as leaders to include everyone, and there are teens I won't take my eyes off of even if my hair's on fire because I know for a fact they'll pull some kind of shit. I have to explain why it's okay to hug for a short time but not too long or else it's not appropriate. I have to explain why it's okay to hug me but not climb on my arms and swing around. I have to explain that even if you're having fun and joking around it's not okay to hit someone in the nuts (also I have a genuine question: does it hurt boys as much getting hit in the nuts before puberty as it does after? Cause the way these little ones carry on when they get junk punched by their friends is just ridiculous). 

And that alone would already be a lot, but then we add parents to the conversation and shit gets real. Because yes your kid was hit by someone but no I cannot tell you who because it is not okay for a grown adult to hunt a child down in the building and berate them for something they were already punished for five hours ago. And yes it is necessary to punish your child for threatening other members and staff because it's not just "boys being boys" it's a serious thing. Just the other week I was yelled at by a parent because her son didn't make it home on the bus from summer school. Was it my responsibility to make sure he was on the bus? No. Was it my job to look after him for free even though he's not a member of the club? No, but of course we're not going to turn him away when he obviously needs help. Did this parent threaten to call the cops on me (for what, I'm not sure)? Yes, yes she did. That's the kind of shit we deal with on a daily basis.

We deal with it because it's worth it. I love these little guys. I love the little ones that pretend they're werewolves and howl around the club. I respect the older siblings who take it on themselves to include their little brothers and sisters even though it slows them down. I admire the ones who have anger issues but do their best to control it and take a step back when they need to. The teens are sarcastic and pretend they're uninterested while the little ones go through the daily dramas of winning games and losing best friends (only to gain them back within the hour). I've held a girl trying to deal with her parent's divorce and had a meaningful conversation with a boy who thought hitting a kid was the right way to handle a bad situation. I don't think I could ever work with elementary aged kids full time because they are truly ridiculous, but right now they're perfect and funny and wild. It's great looking at the parents who care so deeply about their children and it means something to be there for the kids who don't have that kind of love and commitment at home. 

So even though this is the hardest job I've ever worked, it's also the best experience I could ask for. Also I get paid to go to Wild Island and Lake Tahoe, so that's pretty awesome too.

End of sappy post.


-E.B

My Poetry Can be Romantic Sometimes

I can label myself as a romantic, albeit a very guarded one. I don't talk about my feelings directly, don't let myself stay over, and try to keep things superficial. But sometimes I catch the feels, and when it happens my inner romantic splooges all over the place because it finally gets a chance to run wild. Wild like a chicken with its head cut off, but still wild. 

But like all chickens it has to die eventually, and I wrote a poem about the distance I put between myself and the end I know is coming. Here goes: 

Harsh is the light 
that hits the romantic's eyes. 
Just as harsh as reality
to the romantic's wild feelings.
This tunnel is black
but not all happenings in the dark
are works of negativity.

A movement can be felt and not seen.

Better to sense with the bold red 
of this heart's beat
and the most delicate touch of skin.
Ignore the slow, steady rumble,
ignore that cutting beam, 
give no thought to oncoming trains.
This tunnel doesn't have to end.
Just keep on running down the track,
wild flowers in hand.

Inner child
free
at 
last.

-E.B