Insomnia Chronicles: Life Updates

At 2:45 AM on an evening (technically morning, I guess) in January 2015, I am theoretically blowing the dust off of the lid of this blog.

Writing things down has always been such a great way to reduce anxiety. And in the wake of my early 20’s, in my second year of law school and on the very edge of becoming a full-fledged, self-financed, self-regulated (kind of) adult, I am all for reducing some anxiety.

I’ve written on this before, but part of what keeps me away from blogging frequently is how lengthy I try to make my posts. I pressure myself to write more, because for some reason, I make myself think that writing less is not as credible, when that is most certainly not the case.

So, tonight, I’m going to keep it short and sweet with some updates on life:

  • As previously mentioned, I am in my second year of law school now, and I have seemed to finally gotten the grasp of the learning curve. The whole thing has been a huge learning experience with many ups and downs, and while I can’t say I’d do it all over again, I most definitely do not regret it so far.
  • I have a job lined up for the future (foreseeably). I’m working with a firm this summer as a summer associate, and provided all goes well, I have a shot at working for them after graduation, which would be nice.
  • I have a boyfriend. He is a fellow law student in my year, everything I ever needed in a guy and not at all what I expected. We’ve been together for almost a year and a half, and while that is a short time, I really couldn’t imagine anyone else right now.
  • I have stopped using a camera and gone pretty much to full-fledged iPhone (oh yeah, other change–I switched from a Galaxy to an iPhone 6) photography. Not especially a change I am happy with. One day, when I am a responsible adult (way too soon for comfort), I’ll save up for a nice camera and use that again.
  • I am still myself, but I’m very different from how I was when I wrote on this blog regularly in a lot of ways. I think if I make a habit of posting here routinely again, I’ll be able to paint a better picture of these changes without having to explicitly state it.
  • I am still an insomniac, through and through.
  • This is what I look like nowadays (about the same, I think–but I had to drop the fun hair colors):

Photo on 1-28-15 at 6.22 PM

Here’s to a hopefully permanent habit of blogging. I’m going to try to make an effort to do this just twice a week to start off. Even if it means I have to write in listicles (shudder).

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Climbing

Surprise, surprise–I’m still alive!

Law school consumes about 90% of my life nowadays. I allow 10% to be consumed by my social life, and sometimes, I feel like I’m being too generous to myself with even that. The good news is, I love school. It’s hard and rough and stressful, but it’s absolutely fascinating. So, I have no fears that I chose the wrong thing. The bad news is, the competition is fierce and I often waver between feeling okay, feeling self-doubt, and feeling like I need to feel even more self-doubt than I do. Lately, it’s been particularly rough. I think I should return to a habit I picked up for Lent one year in undergrad, where I blogged once a day, no matter how long or how short. I am in the process of deciding whether I’ll take that task up here, or if I’ll create some kind of anonymous Tumblr.

In any case, this is just a short update. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon!

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Tipping

On my breaks from school, I frequently go home and help my mom out and work at her restaurant as a cashier. The whole process is an experience worth an entire post in itself, but one thing I wanted to mention first and foremost is that I have come to learn a lot about people by how much they tip.

While I don’t get to see every customer who passes by, when I do, his or her demeanor usually, usually matches the tip (sullen or hostile: nothing or an amount so paltry that it insults their waiter; cheerful or pleasant: average to very, very generous). Of course, there are exceptions, like the broke college students who just want to eat somewhere nice for a change, or someone who is just having an off day. But most of the time, as I said, the customer’s attitude is spot-on with how much he or she decides to tip (and compliment or complain). It has been an interesting study in human behavior.

So, with years of working in a busy restaurant, I’ve learned to just let the rude ones go with a smile unless someone is exceptionally rude or out of line; but I’ve admittedly formed a habit of judging such people as they head out the door.

Today, a girl came up and paid her bill at the register, and not only did she not tip, but she waited for her change, which made up a total of five cents. She was, in accordance with my theory, quiet and a bit sullen, but not outright unfriendly. She took her change and walked out the door with no response to my goodbye, and I stared after her wondering what would drive her to want to keep the five cents. I thought maybe she also considered her change probably more insulting than not leaving a tip at all, and then I thought that perhaps she had a change jar at home where she was saving up for something, maybe a trip to Disney World, and she needed all the change she could get.

It’s a stretch, because the most likely reason is that she just wasn’t thinking about tipping and mechanically went through the motions of taking her change and leaving. But I feel like it’s a good habit for me to get into, giving people the benefit of the doubt like that. In all honesty, it’s easier to think of pleasant reasons why people do (or don’t) the things they do.

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Positive Nostalgia

After weeks of traveling back and forth to visit my mom (in a city different from the one in which I grew up) and my campus, I finally drove to my hometown a week ago. On the way there, I drove past some really familiar terrain, and I began to recall a big part of my childhood: the car rides home every day from elementary school. I remember mostly sunny days and sitting in the back of my parents’ car as it followed the curve of the highway, which ran through sweeping green hills that looked like they were straight out of a storybook. We’d listen to the radio as we went, and I particularly remember “Yellow” by Coldplay and “Semi-Charmed Life” by Everclear playing in their heyday. I’d fall asleep to these songs in the car, the scratchy cotton of my uniform blouse sticking slightly to my skin from sweat, since we’d have to wait outside on the blacktop in eighty-degree heat for our parents to come get us. But before I’d fall asleep, I’d often see a cloud or two outlined in silver by the sun, and I remember–because I attended a Catholic school where religion class was taught every day–thinking God was in those clouds. That was all it took to make me happy. I thought about this and smiled to myself as I drove home, now much older and by myself. With the realization that so much had changed, I found myself hoping I’d see some more pleasant reminders of the things that defined my childhood and directly influenced who I am today. I leave here tomorrow, and I’m quite happy to say that I got my wish in spades.

Nostalgia can be such a dangerous thing. I can go around having a perfectly fine day, and then out of nowhere, a wave of memories and feelings from the past leaves me with either a very pleasant warmth or a distinct sadness that the past is only the past. I’ve been experiencing a lot of this lately, perhaps in part because my life is at such a momentous transitional stage. I’ve always been fond of my childhood because of its relative normalcy and because of how loved I felt. Between my family, the teachers at my small elementary school, and the family friends we used to see at church and at the grocery store my parents used to run, I felt like I had a dozen parents instead of just two.

So with that said, these last two weeks have been filled with tangible triggers for nostalgia because I have seen many of those people for the first time in years.

I have seen old favorite teachers from high school at a teacher’s retirement ceremony last week, and just yesterday at a wedding for two of my high school friends, a few old friendly faces from my graduating class. Both events were really wonderful, and it made me proud and pleased to see how well everyone had grown up and how glad we all were to see each other. But the real kicker came today, this morning, when I attended mass at the church of my childhood, the church connected to my old elementary and middle school. I hadn’t been in years, and I honestly didn’t expect to see anyone I knew. But I saw so many, so many people who have seen me grow up from the age of four or five to almost twenty-two now, and it was like seeing dear, dear family members after a very long trip away. They met me with love and joy so palpable and evident in their voices and expressions that it stuck with me for the rest of the day. And I was so very happy to see them as well.

And maybe it’s just a part of growing, but to my great delight, all of these waves of nostalgia have left me quite happy and mainly just thankful that I had such a wonderful environment around me as I grew up. I marvel at how fortunate I was to grow up around such love and intelligence, because that is something that people cannot just wish for in advance. It really is a gift. So here’s to that positive nostalgia, which has left me feeling just so overwhelmingly happy and so thankful all day.

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A Summary of the Last Few Months

OH MY LORD, IT HAS BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME SINCE I WROTE HERE.

I feel terrible about neglecting this blog, because I do think about updating it at least once a week–and then I always say I’ll get to it when I have more time. I think my problem is that I want to commit myself to too many outlets. I like writing on this blog, I like writing fiction, I like reading lots of books, I like making graphics, I like organizing things, I like drawing. And then I end up doing none of that and end up perusing the web for useless slivers of knowledge for hours instead, without fail. Sigh.

So, much has happened in these last few months, much of it deeply personal, much of it exciting, and much of it absolutely hilarious, and this post will not do any of it justice… But alas, I need to keep it simple for time’s sake, eh? If I wanted that badly to keep a record of it, I suppose I’d have posted as life went along. So, in a few simple points, I will list the major happenings since my last post thus far… I guess in chronological order? As a result, this is going to read a bit like a Xanga post, so forgive me.

  1. I left the country for the first time in ten years! I spent my spring break on a cruise to the Bahamas. It was also my first time on a cruise ship and my first time to the Caribbean, and unfortunately, it took actually spending a night on the ship to learn that I was very prone to seasickness, haha. Thankfully, I got over it after the first night, and much fun was had and many lessons were learned. Moreover, great pictures were taken.
  2. I GOT INTO LAW SCHOOLS. HURRAY. I did a lot better in this application cycle than I thought I would, which made me extremely excited and extremely relieved. And ultimately, I got into my first choice, and I am happy to say that I will be attending my alma mater’s law school in the fall! One step closer to the dream.
  3. I cut my hair short and dyed it back to a red-brown, but before we (we as in my hair stylist, because God knows I do not trust myself with any kind of hair product other than shampoo and conditioner) could do that, we had to lift all of the black out of my hair with bleach, which meant I was completely and absolutely blonde for about an hour. It was pretty hysterical. It burned some of the skin around my scalp, which was not so hysterical. And then the end result was pretty nice. (Be warned: gratuitous selfies ahead.)
  4. I survived my photojournalism class, which taught me an awful lot and was much more difficult, as our professor had warned us in the beginning, than I thought it would be. I will say that I took many terrible pictures, but a few of which I am proud. (Just posting one that I took below, but maybe I’ll make a photo post later on with my favorite ones.)

    130503_FHK_PORTFOLIO_007
  5. I graduated college, which is just unbelievable. It still has not quite hit me, probably because I perpetually feel like a twelve-year-old and probably I am staring three more years of school in the face. But little by little, I’m starting to realize I’m not in undergrad anymore. I graduated summa cum laude, which was a really nice way to go out. And while I wish I could still explore more areas of study, I am very happy that I learned so much about my majors. I truly believe all I learned will help me in the future, and I think learning what I have in the last four years has not only made me better educated, but it has also made me a better person.

  6. So I’ve just been spending my last summer of real freedom traveling around the Southeast, visiting my mom and going to the beach, going to my hometown and seeing old friends and familiar faces, and then heading back up to school and seeing friends before they move away and on with their lives. It’s been a lot of driving and at times exhausting, but I can’t complain too much–not when it’s been so beautiful and so freeing.

  7. And last but not least, I got an iPad as a graduation gift, which has been cool and also weirdly overwhelming, because it’s a lot of technology. Between a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet, I feel like I’m a little in over my head. But this is an extreme first world problem, so I’m going to stop there and just say it’s been awesome, particularly for reading, watching movies, and drawing ugly doodles of which I’m strangely proud.

That’s about it so far. Here’s to hoping this summer is full of continued happiness, growing, and more blogging!

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Sinking In

Sunset glow over part of campus.

You know, I haven’t really felt the full impact of the idea that this year is my last year of undergrad.

It’s hit me in little doses, really–each time I do something definitively grown-up, something an undergrad with more than a year to go would do, I feel it just a little bit. I felt it for the first time, I think, when I took my first LSAT. And then when I had my last advising appointment ever. And then when I applied to law schools. And then when I got the first acceptance (Brief update–I’ve gotten into three schools so far, all safeties, but my future is secure! Hurrah!). And today, when I realized that I still haven’t gotten my cap and gown and we have fewer than 100 days until graduation! And now, even when I know for a fact that I have three months left, I don’t think I am capable at present of recognizing how short of a time three months is.

Still, it’s there, that realization, at least partway. So, since I’ve got a little more time on my hands this semester than I did last semester, I’m trying to do a few things I haven’t done, whether they’re easy things or things that bring me completely out of my comfort zone:

  • I finally got an all-access pass to the school’s gym so I can attend any classes I want. I did yoga last semester, but this semester, I want to do it all–even though I am incredibly awful at Zumba.
  • I’m taking a photojournalism class that requires me to run up to strangers and ask if I can take their photos. Awkward and kind of fun and kind of hilarious.
  • Said photojournalism class has also prompted me to drive and/or walk around to photograph anything and everything, from people playing frisbee at the IM fields to the back neighborhoods that hide sprawling mansions and pristine front yards.
  • I want to try to attend more campus events. Our school had the privilege of hosting Dr. Maya Angelou tonight, and I didn’t get to go, and I really regret it. I don’t want to miss out on any more opportunities like that.
  • I want to explore every nook and cranny of these old and majestic buildings that make up my school. Seriously, our Student Learning Center has a reading room that looks like it belongs in a library at Yale. WHY HAVEN’T I USED THIS ROOM?
  • I want to go to the Georgia Theatre rooftop at dusk with some friends and grab a drink. And if possible, I’d like to make this a regular thing.

I know it’s not an awful lot, but I do find that starting with a few small things has really made me open my mind to a lot more options. I’m not quite as resistant and stubborn in my old ways as I used to be, and I’m thankful for such an important growing experience.

That said, here’s to hoping I end up attending my current undergrad’s law school and get another three years to take advantage of this city.

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For Lauren, Part 2

The always-fabulous Lauren Hornsby.

The always-fabulous Lauren Hornsby.

Earlier today (January 28th–it’s 1 AM on January 29th, now), it was my friend Lauren’s birthday. I tried to convey it in my last post about her, but I am not sure if I can ever fully express how much her life and her death have affected me. It’s been about five months since she passed, and I would be lying if I said a day has passed where I haven’t thought of her, no matter how briefly or for how long.

I’ve been wondering about this day for a long time. Even a month or two ago, I’d think that it’s almost January, that it’s almost the month of Lauren’s birthday. I think I remembered this so distinctly because I remember how, as kids, she’d told me that she’d been born on the day after the Super Bowl in 1991. I remembered this, and I would wonder how I would feel, how her loved ones would feel. I figured it wouldn’t be easy.

This entry might not make much sense, as I’m having a difficult time trying to express myself without making a caricature of my emotions and thoughts (which I’m sure that her friends and family have also felt through these last months as well–the depth of their love is ever-apparent, and her Facebook wall is brimming with messages, particularly today).

I wrote above that I have thought about Lauren every day. This is a true statement, and I’m very relieved that it’s true. I’ve been wondering why and how I manage to think of her so much when I hadn’t seen her for over a year before she died, when I remember how different we’d become by the time we parted ways. Aside from what I’ve written before–that she is one of the few people in my life who knew me right down to my core, all artificial differences aside–I think that Lauren defined so much of my life that I will carry her around forever, even when I’m fifty, even when I’m eighty.

I can’t count how many songs have come on my iPod during the day that she introduced to me or that I shared with her. (And even with the iPod itself–I wanted an iPod for Christmas when I was thirteen because she wanted an iPod for Christmas.) Her family was, for a time, like my own family–they drove me around just as much as my own parents did, fed me and introduced me to new ideas. My sense of humor, something that I think has come to define and distinguish (albeit not always in the best way) me, is so heavily built upon the quirky and nonsensical and often absurdist jokes we shared as adolescents. The books I read, the art I love, the clothes I like–she is a cornerstone in all of these things. And most importantly, she is a cornerstone in the things that define the key parts of me–my sense of morality, my social beliefs, my interests, and my faith in myself. And with every trial I faced before I came to college, she was there, one of my few constants.

So, I said that I didn’t think today would be easy, and it hasn’t been. I haven’t been in hysterics, but today has admittedly been very melancholy. The day itself was incredibly overcast, much like the day of her funeral. Funnily enough, I thought about this day so much in the days leading up to it, but when I woke up, it didn’t occur to me that today was the day, Lauren’s birthday. It only hit me about two hours later, as I was walking up a hill on campus–Wow. Today is the day. And I tried to think about how I felt and how it met and defied my expectations.

Today was sad. There have been days in the last five months where I cried more than I did at her funeral, more than I did on the night after her death, because death really takes some time to settle in. It settled in a little each time I realized that I couldn’t pick up the phone and text her to say, I miss you, dude, let’s get a drink sometime when one of us is in town. (It settled in a little when I realized that the last person I could call “dude” comfortably is gone.) It settled in a little when I saw that other people are letting it settle, too, that people have been posting on her Facebook to say that they miss her and that they love her dearly. And it settled in quite a lot when I remembered–only a few days ago, actually–that still-hilarious inside joke that I formed with her when we were only twelve or thirteen over something that was so obscure but so funny, and I realized that the only person besides myself who could laugh at that joke isn’t around anymore–literally nowhere on this Earth. Today was the day where I remembered all of these things at once. So, yes, it was sad.

But it was also strangely okay. After death settles, it’s somehow a comfortable presence. For me, part of it is indeed due to a pretty strong belief in God and heaven–but even people who don’t believe in all of that can still feel that comfort. Because when we are alive, we do take each other for granted, even when we try not to. When we are alive, it is physically impossible to be around one person all the time, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. But when a person is gone, his or her presence is suddenly everywhere. Again, this can be sad–but it can also be lovely. I do feel closer to Lauren lately, as though she can see what I’m doing and feel how I’m feeling and sympathize with me and laugh with me, even though she can’t. Part of this is admittedly guilt; I wish I’d spoken to her more. But part of it is also renewed memory. Suddenly I remember everything she found funny, everything she loved that I loved, too. I’m really happy about that. So, in a way, today was easier than I thought it’d be.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with the thing that I remember about her that really moves me the most.

Throughout my life, I’ve had a little bit of a difficult time believing in myself. I’ve always been self-conscious and wary and careful. Lauren was my first big fan and cheerleader. She liked everything about my life that I thought was weird and unnatural, and over time, she came to make me feel like I was perfectly normal, and better yet, a bit of a standout. I really feel like she thought I could do anything. I thought she could do anything, too. That might be one of the most important things she gave me.

And at the end of the day, I only wish I could tell her thank you–in person–for all of these things. I guess I’ll just have to wait.

Here’s to a happy 22nd birthday to one of my dearest, oldest friends in the world.

Image

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