Vertically-Challenged Much?

Sometimes it’s hilarious to be tall.

The mirror in the bathroom in one of the science buildings on campus is exceptionally ridiculous:

This is my 6’1″ self standing a foot and a half or so away from it.

… Yup. Not exceedingly helpful unless I’m interested in a spot on my shirt, but it definitely does lift my spirits.

I don’t know why I find this so funny, but I do!

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Nighttime Joy

Tonight feels like the perfect night for dancing outside. If I had it my way, I wouldn’t have 7:40am class tomorrow, and it would be socially acceptable to walk outside, hands raised, singing loudly, even though I’d be off-key. I’ve got the perfect song for skipping to in my head and the perfect place to do so. I feel alone, but not in a terrifying way. Instead, I can feel my independence inside me, waiting to burst forth on its own. My confidence dwells in me, too. I don’t need people’s approval to make good choices. If I know something is right deep down, I can choose to follow that path, regardless of the ridicule that comes with it.

Life just looks so good right now. I don’t want to pass this opportunity up, although I feel like I must. It’s in moments like these that I grow up a little.

Molly

Sometimes it still surprises me how much my sister has grown up.

Every once in a while I forget that she’s almost seventeen years old and still see her as the timid little girl she was a couple years ago. The girl that would burst into tears if she had to talk in front of the class. The girl that couldn’t do anything without me doing it first. The nervous yet excited girl who left our elementary school looking for bigger and better things.

And boy did she find them. Molly certainly bloomed where she was planted. She no longer followed in my every footstep but instead branched out and created some of her own. She joined clubs and showcased just how talented she is at sports. She became captain of the varsity golf team. She found a great group of friends and overcame her learning disability. She has a reputation with the teachers as well as with many students for being one of the nicest girls in school. Not to mention the fact that she’s drop-dead gorgeous.

This year she decided to run for student government (something that I didn’t have the courage to do). She wrote a magnificent speech, which she gave with confidence to the entire student body. She compared our all-girls’ high school to the family we come from… and she started crying in the middle of it. Not out of fear, which would have happened a few years ago. No, this time it was out of hope and pride with a twinge of sadness for missing her big sister. She caused most of the girls in the audience to cry too, along with some of the teachers. She blew her competition out of the water and won in a landslide. Our vice-principal was even emotional when she announced it.

Tonight I’ve been listening to songs that remind me of Molly. My sister has a knack for picking somewhat inspirational songs that usually give me goosebumps (in a good way) and make me hopeful for the future. Just listening to them makes me realize how much she’s grown up and how much I’ve missed her.

I love you, Molly, and am so incredibly proud of the amazing woman you’ve become. Thanks for always being there for me and for being one of my best friends.

The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turn my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools,” said I, “you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sound of silence.

~~~

I’ve recently discovered that I don’t do well in silence.

The emptiness, the nothing, just sitting there, left with your own mind. It causes mine to wonder bad things, like if I’ve done something wrong in the situation, if that’s why there isn’t any talking. Did I mess up somewhere? Is the person I’m with mad at me? My mind races faster and faster to try to figure out why it’s so darn quiet, why no one is saying anything. This in turn causes me to find things to talk about, subjects that don’t really matter, just to fill the airwaves and make me less uncomfortable. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do in this situation; it’s just what comes naturally. It puts my mind temporarily at ease, but then my brain returns to panicking when the conversation dies down again and I am left in the silence.

When I was younger, my parents would go through bouts of not talking to each other for a few days when they were angry. I don’t think this approach of communication (or lack thereof) is right; I think it’s more important to talk about why you’re upset with the other person instead of not saying anything at all and trying to make them “read your mind” (to use their words, not mine) and figure it out. This is one of the reasons I think silence scares me so much, especially in relationships. If nothing is being said between the couple, they must be angry, and it must be a bad thing… right?

Also, when I get really angry and moody, I get really quiet. I won’t say anything and instead be trapped inside my brooding mind. Sometimes when I’m stuck in situations where there’s only silence, I start to think that the other person is upset with me, and then I start coming up with things to be angry at them for. I internally blame them for things that don’t really even make sense.

My materials engineering class started talking about philosophical things in class on Thursday, and one of the things to come up was, in fact, silence. My professor said that silence makes most people feel very uncomfortable, mostly because as humans, we want to be heard. So even if we don’t have anything important to say, just talking about something makes us feel like we’re contributing, like we’re being heard by someone else.

I find silence cold, haunting, uneasy, full of tension. I know that I make it this way, since it can just as easily be beautiful, peaceful, satisfying. While it naturally makes me itch and squirm, it could just as easily cause me to relax and put my mind at ease.

Davis brought up a good point yesterday: if you’re in a relationship for a long time, you’re going to hit a point when you just  run out of things to talk about. Sure, you can bring up the same subjects over and over again, repeat yourself, just fill space with meaningless words, but even then you’ll tire of it and be left with nothing to say. I need to be okay with that. Right now I’m most definitely not. Right now the silence still makes me uncomfortable. But I want to find a way to make it wonderful instead of scary.

Yesterday I learned something else, too. There was a girl in high school that I became friends with. At the beginning she was standoffish, and not a lot of people liked her because she was so opinionated and loud. But I found my way in and became really close to her. We’d talk a lot and were really good friends. But then I noticed that she was becoming quieter and quieter, and I started to think that I was doing something wrong, that there was a reason that she wasn’t talking to me. I didn’t like her silence, so I’d try to talk to her and she’d only give me one-word answers. I became frustrated and hurt – why wasn’t she saying anything to me, yet talking to other people? This, along with many other things, led to the deterioration of our friendship.

I think I might understand this aspect of her now, though: she felt comfortable enough around me not to have to say anything. She was satisfied with just being with me. Instead of it being an insult, it was a compliment, and it really showed how close we had become. I didn’t see it this way at all, and it’s still kind of hard for me to understand this completely. I want to become okay with the silence, to not feel pressured into saying anything when nothing is really necessary.

I love the lines in the song above that say, “People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening…” I remember thinking about something similar when I was little: that it’s so easy to hear without listening, or to look without seeing. I want to work on this: to always listen, to always speak.

I am by no means a quiet person. I will talk with anyone and everyone, and I think this is one of the reasons I am good at meeting people and making new friends. But when it comes to people that are important to me, I want to make sure I really listen and truly speak. Words aren’t always necessary; sometimes the silence says more.

My goal: to become okay with silence. It will be tedious and very difficult, and it will take a long time, but I know that it’s something that needs to be done. I don’t need to become a master of it now; I just need to work on it little by little. I also know that I have the support of my friends in doing this, that they will be helping me and praying for me as I go.

Song by Simon and Garfunkel. If you haven’t heard it, you should seriously go listen to it right now. It’s amazing.

Ringing Ears

I just got home from seeing dredg in concert. It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing – I saw on Facebook that they were playing in town this week and so Davis and I decided to go. We’re both teeny-tiny little fans, but we thought it would be fun anyway. Here’s what I learned there…

– I really like dredg, both recorded and live. I’ve only heard one of their CDs, which equals two of the songs they played (both of which were fantastic live). Although I did find that a little disappointing, I realized that they incorporate so many different styles and different types of art into their songs. So I have a lot to listen to!

– This being said, I really need to educate myself before the concert I’m going to on Friday. As mentioned previously, Davis and I are going to be seeing This Will Destroy You, who I know next to nothing about. I just got one of their CDs from him though, so I’m eager to listen to it while I power through my homework tomorrow.

– This was the first concert that I’ve been to in a small city. The town I’m in is mostly a college town, and while bands do stop here, the ones I like come few and far between. Usually we’ll go either to Los Angeles or San Francisco for shows, which is always fun but does involve quite a bit of driving. This time it was just nice to only have to drive for ten minutes to get to the venue, and to be able to get back home at a reasonable hour. The venue is nice and wasn’t crowded at all, so we’re going to keep our eye on it in the hopes that other bands will come play there.

– I still don’t understand the point of mosh pits. Like, seriously, who came up with the idea? Pushing people around and running into each other just doesn’t sound fun to me at all. Though of course, my hypothesis is that (almost) everyone involved in mosh pits is inebriated while participating, so clearly it doesn’t make sense to me since, for starters, getting drunk doesn’t sound like much fun either.

– I could tell in the way that Gavin Hayes (the lead singer) was singing that he really truly felt the music and loved what he was doing. There was some passion about him that was awe-inspiring at times. He is truly following his dream, even if, as he mentioned, he’s broke doing so. I realized that if I could do anything with my life, it would be to create art too. I want to write, to reach out to people and teach them something, touch them somehow. Instead of being onstage performing music, I’d be able to travel to different places and just write. That – well, this – is my form of expression and artwork, and someday I hope to be able to share it with more than just the handful of people that read my blog.

dredg and so many other artists have given me something to dream and reach for, and I’m excited at the prospects of that. For now, though, I must go to sleep so I can get up and be an engineer tomorrow.

Weekend Play-by-Play

Good weekend!

Thursday: went to an open house with Aaron, Connor and Anna. The house wasn’t that great, but it was fun anyway. Later, in between rounds, we played Apples to Apples, drank hot chocolate, and watched Avatar: The Last Airbender. I also made s’mores with my friend Kristen.

Friday: much needed sleep, then after not really doing anything for a few hours, Anna and I decided to go downtown. We went to Urban Outfitters and ogled at the clothes that are too expensive for us to own and laughed over the hilarious book selection and the knowledge each work contained. Then we went next door to Coalition, again to ogle over expensive yet super comfy Toms that I really want to buy, then to Powell’s Candy Shoppe, which was amazing as usual. There we picked up Star Wars Mad Libs, which we have yet to try, and Anna bought butterscotch striped candy sticks which were sooo delicious. We had Firestone avocado sandwiches for dinner along with a big basket of fries and went on to mull around a bookstore while we waited for the bus to take us back to campus. In the bookstore we found a very depressing book about a sexually abused child… we still don’t really know who the main target audience was for it.

Saturday: went to a program my friend Shannon was having, where we painted coffee filters with watercolors and turned them into parachutes for army men when they dried. We then proceeded to throw them off the parking structure and see whose man took the longest to fall. Mine ended up winning, and I got two epic foam swords because of it. After that, James and Mat and I worked on our Materials Engineering project and came up with an epic idea of what to do (pictures to hopefully be included later). I then went home and baked amazing red velvet cupcakes from scratch… mmm, they were delicious! After that I went to Relay for Life, which we were having on campus and that Davis was participating in. It was just fun to be there. I was involved with it in high school, and I always love the atmosphere of Relay. We walked around the self-made track a few times then wandered around the business buildings like we sometimes do. He then walked me home, where I hung out with my roommates and went to bed.

Sunday: I’m so proud of myself – I finished one section of the paper a group of us have to write…  before noon. For a struggling recovering procrastinator, this is a big deal! After that I got Full Metal Alchemist from one of my friends, then went out to lunch with Kristen. We had a great time catching up with each other, and I realized that I really miss her. Afterward I came home and had craft time with Anna (hopefully pictures will come later for this too), then went out to dinner with Davis. We watched Mask of Zorro,  which I’d never seen before but really liked. Then back home I went to try to do some homework… which I worked on a little, then Anna, Meredith and I took each others’ Facebook “quizzes” and created a hilarious new one relating to our apartment. Davis and I also found out that two awesome bands are playing this week that are relatively close to us, so we’re going to see Dredg tomorrow and This Will Destroy You on Friday.

This morning, which is technically still the weekend for me (hehehe): I covered my friend’s desk shift for her and wrote another part of the paper (*pats self on back*) and took a field trip for my desk manager with my friend Liam to get more laser printer ink. And now I’m here. Woohoo!

I realize this isn’t really that exciting – I mean, it’s the play-by-play of the past few days, so really, how thrilling can it be? But that’s not the point. The point, rather, is that I had a great time this weekend and spent time with so many people. It put me in such a good mood for this week. It flashes back to me in little blips: Anna and I sitting on the floor in our hallway, threading needles and tying knots; throwing my army man off of the parking structure and watching the wind catch him; cracking my glowstick at Relay in remembrance for those who have suffered from cancer; taking a walk with Davis on Saturday night… I could go on and on. I am content, I am happy, and I am excited for what this week and next weekend hold for me.

Paper Squares

Last week I visited the engineering advising center on campus for help deciding what classes I should take in the fall. My registration priority wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t bad either, and I didn’t know what to take or what to do, especially because I just switched majors. One of the first things my advisor told me was this:

“Rework your flowchart.”

As engineers, our major gives us a strict flowchart that we must follow if we want to graduate on time. One would think this would be simple, since all of our classes are mapped out for us, right? But you must remember to take into account the fact that everyone else has to take these classes too, and because of budget cuts, it’s hard to get all of the classes you need when you need them.

Since the middle of last year I’ve been realistic about graduation. I’d tell people that I was okay with graduating in five years instead of in four. No big deal, right? But it wasn’t until I was actually looking at the classes I need that I realized that I’ll be spending a full extra year in school. I’m okay with that concept, I suppose. But the idea that some of my friends might not be here too kind of freaked me out a little. Well, more than a little.

So I sat down with my flowchart for a few hours. I cut out all the tiny little squares and spread them out on my desk. Classes like “Operations Research I,” “Quality Engineering,” “Ergonomics Lab,” and “Human Factors” told me that I am finally in the right major. I can’t wait to take these classes, but I dutifully spaced them out in between the more boring “Strength of Materials” class and other not-so-exciting subjects. Looking at it again, I see that most of the classes I’m going to take appeal to me in some way or another. I rearranged these little papers until they fit perfectly, like pieces of a puzzle that slid into place.

Four and a quarter. I can graduate in four and a quarter.

What’s interesting to think about is what these squares actually mean. Sure, they’re class numbers, just words on paper, but really: behind each square is knowledge that I will probably use for the rest of my life. The pile on my desk was what I had to go through to become a full-fledged engineer. And the best part about it is that I think I’ll like most of the classes!

My new chart is beautiful. I’ll be taking fifteen or sixteen units each quarter, which might be tough, but I know it’s doable. I also have to take summer school, which I signed up for last week, but I’m actually really excited for it. I’m taking two online classes: one about American film, and another about psychology.

Yay flowcharts. Yay happy reworkings. Yay doable schedules and classes that I’m excited for. I finally feel like I’m in the right place.