Ghost Stories

I’m listening to another fantastic album that holds so many memories for me. This one is Ghost Stories by Coldplay.

The word “disappointed” doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt when Ghost Stories first came out. After all of the happiness and downright wonder of Mylo Xyloto (their previous album) I almost couldn’t bear to listen to this one. It was slow. It was quiet. It lacked the magic that their other albums overflow with. I heard it once and sadly wrote it off. “Maybe Coldplay’s losing their touch,” I thought sadly. And there it sat, gathering dust at the back of my symbolic music drawer for a good couple months.

Then last summer I was talking with my good friend Dara about the album. Dara and I have been close since freshman year of college, and she’s one of the biggest Coldplay fans I know. (I’ve posted about this wonderful girl before – read it here) And she was telling me how she was just completely blown away by Ghost Stories and how she couldn’t get enough. I looked at her skeptically, not really wanting to believe her, while she deconstructed the whole thing: the beauty in the lyrics, the simplicity of the songs that have the power to wreck your heart, the genuineness and sincerity in every note. I remember her specifically lingering on the last song, “O”, and how it might be even more powerful to her than her then-current favorite Coldplay song “Clocks”. After such a compelling argument, I thought I should give it another go.

And holy poop, the album leveled me. And I haven’t been able to get enough of it ever since.

Its beauty is in its subtlety. It is soft but so powerful. The listener can tell that true love and meaning went into the creation of every note. I find that the perfect time to listen to it is early in the morning or late at night, during a long and foggy drive. It reminds me of the Saturday mornings I’d wake up early and head to marathon practice with my Team In Training friends last year while the rest of the world slept. Or of driving on the freeways of Seattle coming home from friends’ houses or dinner with Davis’ family. It would be the perfect album to listen to while watching snow fall.

I especially like the song “Midnight”. Again, this is one that I completely wrote off when I first heard it. It was one of the album’s early releases, and when I listened to it the first time and watched the music video, I thought Coldplay had lost its collective mind. I was expecting a build, a Mylo Xyloto explosion of sound and emotion, a high as a result of watching it. And instead… just confusion. But after falling in love with the whole album, I can see that it fits so perfectly, and it somehow resonates with me deeply.

So give Ghost Stories a chance. Actually, give it a couple. I think you’ll find you too can fall in love with it if you keep an open mind.

Advertisements

Recap: Looking Better

I exercised five times this week.

Five times.

That’s crazy for me. I mean, this is coming from a girl who flat-out didn’t like going to the gym and really didn’t want to move if unless it involved goggles and chlorine. Any mention of running and suddenly I had a strong desire to do homework.

But that’s changed. And it didn’t happen abruptly, either: gradually I worked from doing a Yoga for Dummies DVD in my room every so often to “running” on the elliptical machine twice a week to… to this. A week in which I made three very different and fulfilling gym trips and ran from my house to Davis’s twice. (that’s 3.5 miles, by the way.)

And I feel better too. I feel like I look good. I caught myself staring me down in the mirror yesterday thinking I looked beautiful. My stomach is still a little squishy, but there’s muscle under there now. And I’ve been told that others can see a difference, too.

I’m glad it’s no longer a battle to exercise now. A lot of that I attribute to my friend Mat, who has literally been kicking my butt into shape this quarter. I’m so appreciative of the efforts he’s put into making me look and feel good – he’s paced with me while I’ve run (rather slowly, for him) and been my spotter as I’ve attempted various weightlifting exercises. He hasn’t given up on me – on the contrary, he’s made me feel awesome. So Mat, if you’re reading this, thank you 😀

I feel like I’m really making progress at improving myself this year. I hope I continue down this path for a while… 🙂

Gaping at Life

You know what I love to think about? (and I seem to think about it a lot, actually…) Those moments where our lives drastically change and yet we have no idea of it at the time.

I’ve got one particular moment in mind that I ponder over and over: it was the night that I first met “the guys.” Way back in freshman year, when I was new to college and still actively making friends, I went to salsa dancing one Friday night with a girl from my orientation group. It was lots of fun, even though I couldn’t (and still can’t) dance at all. There were also a couple of boys there who I recognized as my next-door neighbors. We’d never talked before – I’d just seen them come and go. When it was “free dancing” time at the end of the lesson, Davis and I happened to choose each other as dance partners. I don’t remember it much, to be honest… it’s just funny to be sitting here, over three years later, reflecting on it.

But that’s not really the night I was referring to, originally. The one I’m talking about happened exactly one week later. Hoping to run into them again and invite them over for peanut butter brownies and seven-layer bars at my apartment, I ventured to salsa dancing again and was extremely disappointed when I didn’t see them there. That week’s lesson was even less memorable… all I knew was that I was bummed not to see them and had two dishes’ full of sweets sitting back at home, which I presumed that I was going to eat alone.

But upon getting back to my apartment, I decided (with the encouragement of Orientation Friend) to knock on their door anyway, see if they were home, and still invite them over. And when I did… that’s where the night really started. They were enthusiastic – they’d love to get to know me and eat my delicious baked goods, they said. I brought the food inside their apartment – everyone was settled in there already – and we began chatting. I remember talking to Jonathan’s parents (who had come up for the weekend) about my aspirations as a roller coaster engineer and confusing Nathan with James (and vice versa – they looked really similar, initially!). I also remember that the night was really short – I went back home kind of early and was happy to have met them, but sad that it was over so quickly. Until Jonathan, who had just walked his parents to their car and wished them goodnight, strolled by my window again. We started talking through it, then Nathan joined him, and I invited them inside. I propped my door open and we all sat down in my living room. Davis wandered in shortly afterward. I remember he was barefoot and in his gym shorts. He sat down in one of our couch-chairs and put his feet up on another chair from the kitchen. From there we talked the night away, until our advisors asked us to close the door (we were being too noisy, I guess) and we realized how late it was getting.

This event seems completely unsubstantial from an outsider’s perspective. But I can’t help but look at how drastically all of our lives changed that night. Those guys would soon become some of my best friends at school. I’d spend hours upon hours in their apartment, playing Guitar Hero with them, making dinner together, just hanging out. They’d invite me to Steak Night and I’d bring the dessert. We’d go hiking together, do homework together, go on adventures together. My future husband was one of them, the one that quite literally wandered into my apartment. I remember chuckling when he came in, along with everyone else. He seemed sleepy and kind of disoriented – mostly just confused, I think, at where his roommates had gone. But later that year, I’d fall in love with him. He would have more of an impact on my life than almost anyone else.

And at that moment, I had no idea.

There are other moments like this too. In that night, for instance, I think back to Jonathan’s parents. They too had no idea that the girl they just met would accidentally introduce their son to his future girlfriend. Or there was another night in which a couple girls and I were in a friend of a friend’s apartment and her roommate walked in, carrying her band uniform. I saw her for a fleeting second, but I remember it well. That girl would become one of my best friends at school, and I would become pretty connected to the school band too through her and other friends. And yet again, I didn’t have a clue about any of it.

I love how life does this. And it also makes me wonder what’s happening now that I’ll look back on in the future and marvel over, just as I’m doing now.

It’s been a while, WordPress.

Last I left you, I was exploring the world!!! Well, I guess I still am… though unfortunately not by being in Europe anymore. I feel the need to fill in all the details since my most amazing days in Paris, but I feel like I can accurately sum it up by saying a few short words:

Paris was wonderful. My expectations were well-exceeded by this great city. The people were friendly, the place was clean, and things were just… magical. There was something to do every day, and while I love love love Italy, I absolutely love Paris too, though in a different way. Paris, I’ll be coming back to you, don’t you worry.

London… I can’t say I had the same feelings. London was… dark. It was dirty. It was full of people rushing from place to place, who were overall kind of rude. I think by the time I got to London – a place that spoke English, which was something I wasn’t used to after the six weeks prior to my arrival to the UK – I was ready to go home. And I think our hotel put a damper on everything: it was really small, really cramped, and the people who ran it weren’t nice at all. I seriously think they had something against women travelling alone, like we were. Oh, and the movie theatre in Piccadilly Circus wanted to charge me £25 to see Harry Potter over a month after it was out. Which is, like, forty bucks in the US. Yeah, definitely a damper.

Though not all of England was bad. For one thing, the food was delicious! Way more tasty than I thought it would be. Bangers and mash, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie – it was all really wonderful! Top it off with Pimm’s or a pint of cider and boy was I happy. Also, we got to tour Buckingham Palace and see Kate’s dress (!!!) which was really cool. But by the time I got on the plane headed home, I was more than ready.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t so short. I might post pictures of it all later if I feel up to it. Anyway, the real excitement comes after I get off that plane heading back to the States.

My life drastically changed that night, the eve of my 21st birthday… and in a good way, I promise!

After my 11+ hour plane ride, most of which was made up of two obnoxious girls climbing over me every twenty minutes while I tried to sleep, I scooted through customs and met Davis at the airport. We were so excited to see each other, and I talked his ear off on our way to my house. Once there, I said a brief hello to my family and crashed for a few hours on my bed, until I was awoken by my wonderful boyfriend, telling me it was time to go on my birthday date. I threw on some clean clothes and off we went to a surprise destination.

We soon arrived at our stop, which turns out to be – get this – a gondola service that would take us on a romantic cruise! Davis explained to me that he knew I’d be missing Europe already, and that since I hadn’t gotten to go to Venice, he wanted to take me to the American equivalent of it. We were introduced to our rower, a beachy-looking guy whose name escapes me now, and hopped in our boat to start our cruise.

And it was wonderful! And romantic! And just a little awkward cuz it was me and Davis and this guy we’d met ten minutes before, who was encouraging us to be lovey-dovey! But let’s rewind for a second, and just go with romantic, cuz that’s really what it was.

And then, it happened.

(And if you know me, you know what I’m talking about 😀 )

Davis got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

I’m not going to rewrite everything he said, because to be honest I want to have it as ours and no one else’s. I want to hold it dear and remember it whenever I’m feeling down or just want to smile some more. He put it beautifully, and it still makes me giggle like a giddy schoolgirl when I think about it. But so does every little sweet thing he does.

(Oh, I said yes, by the way. 😀 And apparently in a very “Well, um, duhhhh!” type of way. And as another sidenote, he was so adorably nervous right beforehand… it was really really cute, and I love him ever so much for it.)

Then we finished our gondola ride and giggled profusely some more, and upon leaving the establishment we rounded a corner and all of my close friends were standing there. Like, all of the Drake family, plus my roommate and good friends from home… everyone. And they scream their excitement and glomp me, and my brain can’t handle the awesomeness and I’m laughing and smiling like a mad fool and recounting the events of the night. Then after so many awesome pictures are taken and passing my hand around so that everyone can look at my new engagement ring (!!!) we’re whisked away to my roommate Kaylinn’s house, where her family so generously hosted us with dinner and drinks and celebratory goodness. And we talked! And I told them tales of Europe, and how excited I was to be back. Then we went to my friend Lauren’s house and then out on the town for my birthday! Not too much alcohol was consumed, for which I was grateful – we went to two bars, so it was the right amount of fun without being overwhelming or sickening, then hung out some more at Lauren’s. And after talking for hours, a very tired Davis finally had us go home so that we could sleep and I could get used to the American time zone again.

The next day we went out to breakfast and I called a few people to tell them. (I continued to do so over the course of the next week or so) My mom and sister got home then too – they were on a different flight than I was, which was annoyingly delayed, so they were very tired by the time they finally got back to the states. We hung out some more at Lauren’s and had dinner at my house. There was just… so much overwhelming excitement, in the best possible way. I still can’t believe that all of my friends drove up/down to see me, to celebrate with me. If any of you are reading this, you are the most wonderful people, and I am so so lucky and blessed to have you in my life!

Okay, so now that that’s been summed up, ish… I’m going to try to breeze through the weeks that followed:

Davis and I were orientation leaders at school! It was SO tiring, but such good fun that it was entirely worth it. We had some pretty awesome freshmen to introduce to their new home. We kept our big news to ourselves and didn’t tell them until the last day of orientation. They were surprised but very happy for us.

I built myself a bed! This monstrosity came in three huge and heavy boxes from Costco, which we hoisted up two flights of stairs into my bedroom and then took a week or so to build. But it’s done! And it’s beautiful! It’s a full loft bed with a desk and an obscene amount of shelves underneath. And I love it 🙂

I’ve gotten comfy in the rest of my new apartment too. It’s so lovely! And it’s got a beautiful view of the mountains.

I’m trying to continue to learn Italian – that’s not something I want to give up even though I’m back in America. I’m hoping to take Italian II next quarter, and I’m brushing up on my current skills. Reverse culture shock didn’t hit me very much… except for one day in Paris, but once my mom pulled me out of bed, I was fine. I’m doing really well, and it’s great to be back, especially now that I have a fiancé. As my friend Mat said, “Sarah and Davis… it was only a matter of time.” *Lord Inglip look*

Oh! And on that note, one more thing:

Isn’t it purty? 🙂

And we went to a bridal fair yesterday… gah, it’s so exciting. Now I’m planning my wedding to the man of my dreams!!! 😀

Okay, now I really have to go – I have my first midterm in a few days, and it’s study time. I’ll update more often than I have these past few crazy weeks. But ciao for now!

Good Conversations

Life’s finally slowed down for a minute, and goodness is it wonderful! This evening I had dinner with the lovely girls I will be living with next year. It was awesome good fun. We ate on campus, nothing special, but it was full of laughter and just good talks. Afterwards I went up to set up a program – Housing showed How to Train Your Dragon – and on my way back to my apartment I called home. The following conversation ensued:

Me: I just finished setting up for a program.
Mom: Ooh! What program?
Me: How to Train Your Dragon.
Mom: … But… what if you don’t have a dragon to train?

I love my mom. Well, I love my whole family, actually. I had some really great conversations with them tonight. My mom and I just laughed a lot. We always do. We’ll talk about serious stuff, and then we’ll poke fun at life and just laugh. Then my dad and I started talking about pretty deep things, like how efficiency can benefit companies but destroy lives if it’s implemented incorrectly. This is the one problem I have with my major. I don’t want to ever, ever, ever use it to jeopardize people’s well-being. I can make processes more efficient, sure. I can optimize them and tell you what the best way to do something is. But I never want to do so at the cost of the jobs of others. I don’t want to replace people with machines and take away their income, work, and life. My main goal (as of right now) is to find some way to apply what I’m learning so that human lives can benefit. How I’m going to get there, or what I’m going to do, I’m not sure yet. But I just… I really want to find a way to make people happier using everything I’m learning right now.

(This conversation was really cool too because my history class just took a quiz on this exact topic, which really made me think about it all again and connect the dots between my real life and something that happened over a hundred years ago.)

Anyways, after that discussion, my sister and I had an amazing one where I’m still not entirely sure what went down. We talked about religion and God and what she wants to do with her life. We talked about the retreat she just went on, about being sisters, about school. It was just so good for both of us. I’m so glad to have her in my life.

One more exciting thing: I bought a book on learning Italian. I realize that I already have a day calendar and other books and can listen to lessons on my iPod, but this one looked so fun! It’s colorful and full of word puzzles, and while I was standing there looking at it in the bookstore a voice came over the intercom saying that they were closing in five minutes, so I followed my impulses and bought it! I’m so excited… I think I may do the first lesson before I go to bed.

I’ve had “After the Storm” by Mumford & Sons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqUsAHTUPTU) playing on and off in my head all week… it’s so beautiful. Listen to it and have an amazing weekend 🙂

Cancelled Class = Writing Spree!

I just got informed that my Operations Research class has been cancelled this morning. While I definitely do enjoy OR, nothing can compare to the feeling of finding out you have an hour and a half of additional freedom than you had anticipated. Hurray! So I’m using that time to write… and then to watch Up in the Air.

Things are starting to look up again. Last week I hit a bit of a panicky slump with school and such overwhelming me. But now it’s all better. Or at least, it’s getting there. Things are falling back into place, my spirits are rising, and I’m feeling good as a person. I can feel the stress melting away. I’ve been putting in the effort I need to in homework and school, and it’s making me feel great. I also got to see my family this weekend, and Davis gave an amazing pep talk Saturday night about strength and growing as a person. I’m so grateful for all I have in my life.

I had the coolest experience on Sunday night. Or, well, it’s definitely up there. I was over at The Drake (which is Davis’s and my friends’ house) and it was cold and rainy outside – perfect conditions, if you ask me. We lit a fire in their awesome fireplace and all gathered around it to do homework. And it was wonderful. There were eight of us there: The Drake’s five residents, me, Jena (my friend Mat’s girlfriend, who’s super cool), and Dara (who I have written about previously, who’s one of our friends and is completely awesome). And it felt like family. It felt like home. Well, actually what it really felt like was the Gryffindor common room, which is too awesome for words and close enough to home for me. We talked and laughed and drank cocoa together, and it just felt right. I can’t say we were too successful at doing our work – we’re going to have to get better at that – but it was totally worth it.

(I wish I could put a picture of The Drake here… next time!)

Recently I’ve been listening to more folk-sy music, especially Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons. Oh, and “Home” by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Wow, are they good! They’re super chill and (as lame as this sounds) they speak to me. They’ve calmed me a bit and made me smile even more.

I really hope I’m not getting sick. Something seems to be going around, and I can feel it pacing, waiting to pounce, lurking out of sight. Please, immune system, don’t give in!

That’s really all I’ve got for now. Time to watch Up in the Air!

PS – This picture just doesn’t look right: http://www.oclumencia.com.br/galeria/albums/19/promocionais-odf-oclumencia_com_br_(11).jpg

The Other Side: Being The Helping Hand

I’ve gotten really bad about remembering to post.

It’s become a long debate in my mind, one which I just tried to narrate to show to you but yet still managed to fail. So I finally found time right here, right now to sit down and write. I’m going to write about the good stuff and graze over the not-so-good, because that’s really what gives my life light. So here goes…

These past few days haven’t been so awesome, but as promised above I’m going to make that part of my story short, since I find it depressing and, well, insignificant. Basically, I haven’t been feeling that great due to not sleeping enough, being stressed from my absolutely wonderful (but currently very time-consuming) job, getting dehydrated, not eating right – in short just not looking out for myself. I’m much better now, though still not one-hundred percent, but I am on the road to recovery!

So enough about that… onto the good part! Last night I wasn’t feeling too great (see above) and was just about to go to bed when there was a knock at my door. When I opened it, a girl rushed in and started talking a mile a minute, clearly kind of nervous and unsure of herself but in need of some kind of help. After listening for a few minutes my situationally-slow brain finally pieced together everything she was saying: she was a transfer student who was new to our school and felt out of place in her orientation group. She didn’t know who to go to and didn’t feel like talking to the advisor on her floor, so she picked me on a whim and, after taking about an hour to muster up the courage to do so, came and knocked on my door to see if I could do something about her situation for her.

At first I was kind of dumbstruck. I didn’t know what to say – our housing department is in no way related to the huge orientation program our school has in place, and since it was almost ten o’clock at night I didn’t know of anyone to call to instantly make the situation better. But then my super advisor powers kicked in and helped me to think on my feet. Orientation leader? I thought. I don’t know the regulations and policies for switching groups, but my really good friend is a leader – he could help me there. So I whipped out my phone and told him the girl’s story, to which he replied that he had room in his group and that he would be more than happy to have another member join. Twenty minutes later, my resident and I were on our way to meet her new orientation group, which was full of people she seemed to click with immediately.

I know this doesn’t seem like that great of a story. It wasn’t life-altering or anything that special. But I can honestly say that something about it brightened my week. I saw her again tonight, when I went over to my friends’ house to watch a movie with the group, and she looked so alive and happy. Yes, that’s it – happy.

When I first decided to become an advisor, I did so because I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I wanted to have an opportunity to actually change something for someone for the better. And just for one person too – not for all of my residents or even a handful of them – no, just for one. And now I feel like I really accomplished it. I could see it in her eyes and feel it in my heart. I went out of my way – and granted, it wasn’t very far – to help someone else. And it felt amazing.

I’m so glad that I got this chance, this opportunity. And I don’t want to be greedy by asking for another one – I got the one I asked for. But to really have the ability to bring happiness to someone else – I can’t tell you how good it feels.

Also, I can’t take all the credit for this myself – my two friends Mat and Jena are amazing leaders and definitely helped by welcoming her and making her feel at home. Together, I really do think we changed her life a little.

Life, you’re just so good sometimes.