I Bought Textbooks Today

Thought you should know. Life is scary and weird and the future is looming, so I’m going to ignore it and give y’all the promised June recap post before July is over (barely) because I’m trying ever so hard not to totally suck.

Gosh, can I even remember this far back? Summer has gone so unbelievably quickly; it’s ridiculous.

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In June, I officially ‘graduated’. As a homeschooler, I didn’t have a ceremony, but there was a Mass at my parish celebrating the 2014 graduates in which my pastor surprised me with my diploma—and it was super awkward because I wasn’t entirely sure what to do… Oops. (You know me, the epitome of grace and social poise.) (Yeah.)

My friend Rose visited and spent the night after way too many setbacks and frustrations and complications and Avril Lavigne-esque angst emotions. But it happened and it was great. We watched the Gatsby movie, which was the first time I’d seen it, and I still don’t know what to think of it. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t Gatsby to me. I don’t think anything but the book could truly be Gatsby to me. But I did think it managed to somewhat convey the feeling, but in a flashier, cheaper way. Also they paraphrased loads of the book in the voiceovers. Whyyyy would you paraphrase Fitzgerald. It’s like paraphrasing Shakespeare. Don’t do it! Anyway. Rose. She is beautiful and wonderful and hilarious. We went to Target. #bonding

Rose left the morning I started theater camp—I spent a week of twelve to thirteen hour days in rehearsal in order to put on The Music Man at the end of it. I played Zaneeta—for those of you only quasi-familiar with The Music Man, the “Ye Gods” girl. It was an incredible amount of fun and so so exhausting. I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it, or that I was making a big mistake—and I was definitely wary for the first day or so, but it really was such a great experience and I’m glad I got to do theater at least once more before I left.

(Also, I fell asleep during rehearsal so many times; there are about thirty—or, you know, three—photos of me sleeping on different days and it’s ridiculous.)

 

Immediately following theater camp was VBS which I’d rather not talk about because unlike the last years it was totally different and stressful and I was put in a teaching role and I basically winged it and I was so glad when it was over. xD

After VBS I basically kicked about for a week and did nothing until one of my best friends, Philip, flew in from Oxford and spent three weeks with us. He left on Monday and I’m still trying to get used to the house without him in it. I guess it’s good that I’m leaving soon, too, so that I’ll have a lot more to adjust to than his absence and won’t feel so mopey over it. Having him here was really just fantastic—it was the first time we’d met in person, and I was worried that we wouldn’t hit it off well, or that we’d fight, but we got along so perfectly and it was just the best feeling knowing that your friendship has basically been officially validated and that you do truly know this person like you thought you did. We did so so so many things (museums, day trips, sightseeing, loads of swimming, goofing off on the Wii, tennis, the rodeo, meeting up with other friends… absolutely nothing… reading, complaining, cooking…) and yet somehow not enough—so I guess we’ll have to get together again! I miss him a lot, but his visit was worth that.

God is good, friends are good, life is good—even though this particular moment is hard, I know things will get better and I will adjust to the changes I’m going through. I know college will be difficult but it will also be wonderful, and I can’t wait for the new adventures, challenges, and endeavors to come. Thanks for staying with me along the way.

Best wishes,
Hero

P.S. Thanks to Philip, I did eat breakfast nearly every day in July—but I was too busy enjoying the food and the company to take photos! 😉 C’est la vie.

Changed by Two Weeks

Is it possible to enter into something as one person and to emerge two weeks later a different one? To undergo a metamorphosis as quickly as a monarch butterfly, huddling into a cocoon for fourteen days and emerging something brilliant and different (that eats slightly less)?

I would have said no two weeks ago. (Well, nearly three now.) But then, well…

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It’s hard to come somewhere that looks like this and stay the same. 😉

On July 21st I boarded a plane and flew to Los Angeles for the Thomas Aquinas College Summer Program; I picked up my suitcases (one was full of shoes, don’t judge me) and got on a bus for the college. I remember sitting next to a girl with brilliant red hair and driving through all these mountains and talking about Latin and other random intellectual stuff, and I finally I realized just how amazing it was all going to be. I said to her, “You know, the best part of being here is that everyone here has a passion for learning… Everyone here is different, but we’re united because we all care about knowledge and understanding and everyone here is looking for wisdom. You don’t get that at home; in a normal setting, nobody cares. Here people are going to care.

I wasn’t wrong.

At TAC people wanted to learn. I wasn’t the only one talking in class; with the exception of three or four people, almost everyone in class contributed to discussion. We realized really quickly that the simplest, most seemingly obvious questions were the most profound. Instead of just assuming something as fact, we learned to ask WHY we assumed it. This is most obvious in Euclid, when we didn’t just say, “Well, yeah, obviously two angles on a straight line will equal 180 degrees,” but instead proved this using basic postulates and common notions… but it also came up in Genesis and Macbeth and Oedipus Rex… We had to look inside the text itself to answer our questions; we couldn’t bring in outside theology or trivia. (This happened a lot in Crito. “Well, the Ancient Greeks thought x, y, z…” “I have an idea, why don’t we read what the Ancient Greeks wrote and find out if that’s true rather than just assuming it…”) I got really attached to this quote from Aristotle: “All men by nature desire to know.” It really is true; I frequently give the speech that knowledge is desirable for its own sake… While I was at TAC I realized that I don’t just want to be smart, I want to be wise. There’s such a difference.

Outside of the classroom was amazing too. I went to Mass nearly every day – the first day the Traditional Latin Mass was offered I went for the first time, and I was completely and utterly lost. I was really disappointed because I’d been so excited to finally go and then I didn’t understand any of it. But I determined that I would go every single day I until it clicked… a few days later, it did. I followed along in the missal, realized the priest said a lot of it silently, that it was up to me to stay on track and follow along – and in doing so, I became fully dissolved into the mass. I didn’t check my watch once, and as I was walking out of the chapel I realized that I hadn’t just prayed at Mass… I’d prayed the Mass, by reading all the prayers the priest was saying and so intently following along. It was incredible and beautiful and in that moment I just fell head over heels in love with the TLM. (I fell even MORE in love on Sunday at the High Mass… THE MOST gorgeous thing I’ve ever been to in my entire life.)

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The friendships I forged there were incredible, too. I will treasure these people for the rest of my life. My roommate was so wonderful; she would do my hair in the mornings because I’m completely inept, we’d make sure we were both in dress code, and we’d stay up late talking… She would yank me out of bed in the mornings so I wouldn’t be late for Mass even though she went to the later Mass and didn’t need to be up yet, and she would take a bunch of selfies with me and we’d die laughing over breakfast. I met up with two of my friends who I’d known before through school, and they were wonderful. Aspirer was one (check out her post about TAC; it’s much better than this one and was featured on the blog) and the other was Joe. We hadn’t been super close before the program, but when I met up I basically attacked him with a hug (he’d say it was an attack, pure and simple, but he’s mean to me) and from that point on he became one of my most solid friends. I met my friend Val there because he was with Joe, but he soon became part of our group… such a sweetheart (and so much better at Latin than everyone). The last few days we “forcibly adopted” Anna into our group, and I’m glad we did. She’s literally a character from an Austen novel and so kind.

I met Sepp (he didn’t go to the program, but he came up to campus for a day) and it was fantastic; I actually befriended his older brother, Patrick, who worked on campus and I was surprised at what a good friend he was. He showed up to breakfast every morning the second week to help us with Euclid and would stay and chat all the way until we had to go to class. I never expected to make friends with him, but I’m so glad I did.

I remember on the Thursday night before the last night I was furiously studying Euclid (literally furiously… I was in a terrible mood) in the commons while an impromptu dance practiced went on in the background. Patrick was trying to help me, but I was so cranky I couldn’t get anywhere… eventually Patrick just went, “Come dance, you’ll feel better.” Apparently dancing puts one in a more favorable disposition to do Euclid. Who knew?

There are so many stories that I couldn’t possibly get into them all, but the memories of my sword, jokes about seeing people’s knees, Milk Guy, freezing cold water, Santa-Barabara-but-really-Canada, losing all my lipstick to my coffee mug (and my having coffee at every meal), not getting cancer because of blueberries and dark chocolate (“Okay, THAT is a fiction made up by a WOMAN.”)… Gah. I miss it all so much. At the dance on the last day I basically sobbed my guts out all over my friends in front of everyone. They really are the best huggers and I miss them and their hugs and their voices and their laughter.

Val was the last one I left – our flights were at the same time in the same terminal, so he was the last one I saw before I had to fly away. I wish I could have stayed forever, but all good things must come to an end. I miss my mountains and the gorgeous weather and the Traditional Mass and not having to cook my own meals… 😛 But I still have the memories with me and that’s enough to hold onto.

A friend of mine remarked the other day that TAC changed me. And she did. TAC taught me to seek wisdom above knowledge; taught me to appreciate beauty, truth, friendships, love, time… made me realize what was important and worthwhile and what isn’t. When they told me on the 21st that these would be the best two weeks of my life, I laughed and went, “Sure.” I realized on the last night that they hadn’t been trying to sell me something, they’d been telling the truth.

I’m so glad I went. I’m so glad I had this experience. And I am so so glad to be this butterfly that TAC has turned me into; I’m sure as soon as I stop mourning my departure I’ll be a lot happier than I was before I went. 😉 Thank you, Thomas Aquinas. Thank you for everything.

“All men by nature desire to know.” ~Aristotle

Best wishes,
Hero

 

 

As I Go Headfirst Down the Stairs

In this dimly lit study I drink my coffee and peer creepily at the cars rolling down the street, essentially ignoring all forms of  actual study. To my left are two papal encyclicals (that I’ve finished reading, thank goodness); to my right is another that is as of yet unread, but needs to be by Thursday… In front of me a book of Plato’s Dialogues, Greek Tragedies, and Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, along with my notebooks and my folders for Driver’s Ed.

My elbow rests on my orchestra paperwork, reminding me that I still have four études, a scale, and half a solo (it should be the whole solo, but I’m hopeless) to practice on my cello, who waits patiently upstairs completely surrounded with sheet music.

Amid all this, I write a blog post and blink sullenly with the Beatles blaring in the background. It seems that when I have only a little bit of work to do, I view it as less important and so I put it off. But then when it piles up I stress to the point where I am just drowning in it so I banish it from my mind and don’t do it either.

It’s kind of a lose-lose situation.

[Enter many hours later.]

Oh. Also. I procrastinate on my methods of procrastination. For instance, this blog post! Yeah, I’m basically the worst. I also can’t remember what my original purpose in writing was.

*thinks*

Right. I’m stressed. My mom also does this uncanny thing where she walks in and starts scolding me for not working on something that I’ve actually been working on and freaking out about already. The thing is, I’m very self-regulated, and chances are that by the time you have to nag me to do something, I’ve been guilt-tripping myself over it for hours. I seem to live my life in constant panic mode.

This is something I’ve noticed recently, specifically with cello: I am a hugely tense person. I got a new cello teacher and he frequently does this thing where he looks over and goes, “Just relax your arms! No – no! Relax!” or “You remind me of how I used to be, you keep all your tension right in your jaw… Let it go.” “But I have to tense somewhere!” “No. You don’t.”

*insert feeble excuse here*

Physically, I am tense. I wake up every morning with an aching back because I clench my muscles while I sleep. I can’t just sit still; I’m jittery. I fiddle with everything – I was on a Skype call with my friend Sarah and I realized that within the space of ten minutes I’d pressed all the buttons on my calculator, turned my phone on and off six times, played with my watch, flipped through a book, spun all the buttons on my shirt around both clockwise and counterclockwise, pulled my purity ring off my finger and put it back on more times than I could count… I am physically incapable of relaxing.

I’m the same way emotionally, too. I worry incessantly – about me, what I’m doing, my life, my decisions, my failures, the amount of work I have to do… worry worry worry. I worry about other people – I have a friend who every single time he goes to a party or out at all, really, I spend the entire time wringing my hands and thinking he’s going to end up dead in a ditch or something. I’m serious! It’s constant. If I can worry about it, I will worry about it. It eats me up, my heart basically gets completely wrung out every time someone takes longer than usual to respond to a text message or I have to say something awkward to them or I think they’re upset. I’m basically a mother hen who kind of just herds all her chicks and has a complete aneurysm every time one of them is even vaguely sort of possibly out of sorts. (At art camp they called me Dorm Mom because I immediately fell into the mother position and started snapping at everyone and keeping them in line. I’m “Mumsy” to a number of my friends because I’m such a Mom about EVERYTHING.)

Overall in my life, I am happy. I stress about the work I’m doing, but ultimately I’m doing the work because I love it. Greek philosophy and drama? I’m in love with it. Cello? Same. I worry about myself and my life because I want to make sure I’m doing things that are good and true and beautiful. I worry about my friends because I love them more than life – and surely that’s a good thing?

And my restless leg syndrome is probably due to the excessive amounts of coffee I consume daily and my failure to have a normal sleep schedule. 😉 No one to blame but myself.

Even though sometimes I feel like I’m flailing and falling headfirst down the stairs, ultimately I am having one of the best summers I have ever had, with the best friends I could possibly ask for, doing everything I love, and crossing off item after item on my summer bucket list.

I realized basically two seconds ago while kind of aimlessly staring at my dresser at my favorite photo of me and Essie that failing does not make me a failure; that just because I don’t accomplish every impossible task I set down for myself, I am doing everything I can to the best of my ability, having fun, seeking wisdom, and hopefully growing a bit in the process.

After all, isn’t that what being young is all about? I may be an old biddy at heart, with my affinity for cats and sweaters and completely ancient music, and my tendency to fret endlessly about the people I care about most, and my everpresent grumpiness, but I am me and I am young and because of that I am learning and laughing and loving… and that desire to always seek wisdom, to always be able to laugh at myself and enjoy my life, and my unbridled and unabashed love for my friends and family… that is what’s going to keep me as the most youthful, hip hop & happenin’ old biddy there is for every day of my life.

Thanks for reading & best wishes!
Hero

Stayin’ Alive

[cue BeeGee’s song]

Stayin’ Alive is rather apt at this point, to be honest, as “stayin’ alive” is basically my life-plan for the next two weeks or so. I have two papers due (one I am probably going to ignore until the stress of my junior-year-thesis-project-essentially-except-not-really goes away), a debate, the SAT, and a chemistry test. Not to mention chair auditions in my orchestra within the month & random, erratic college stress.

Speaking of random, erratic college stress, the reason I didn’t blog on Friday (because let’s be honest, I have zero excuse for the last almost-two-weeks), I was visiting my first college ever! I got to sit in on a literature class in which they discussed Great Expectations – my favorite Dickens that I have actually never read – and I made a semi-intelligent comment about Pip and Estella and infectious scorn and the relationship between their characters and being “poetic in retrospect”… Gah, I love literature.

I also attended a Latin class, an amazing history lecture, and a theology lecture. I also got to meet some of the college faculty (including the philosophy professor who decided to take me under his wing and show me the music department because I happened to be wearing my orchestra sweatshirt & then complimented my name) and witnessed a Harlem Shake.

So yeah. That was interesting.

I had a good time, but I’ve decided that it’s not the college for me. I liked a lot of it, but the lack of a formal orchestra and music major, as well as a lack of some other things made me realize that I’m just not drawn to it. So decisions are being made! We can strike it off the list.

I still bought a t-shirt, though. 😛

Since I’ve been bad about this, I’m just going to go ahead and say – I’m going to leave the commenting/liking the 1 year blogiversary post open for another week, after which I’ll run the comments through random.org to find a winner! So leave a comment/like the post if you haven’t already!

Sorry this is such a short post – hopefully I’ll have something to write about on Friday. Probably not.

Best wishes!
Hero

P.S. Send help! I’m being murdered by Richard III! He is determined to prove a villain!

BEDA Day 29: Throwing My Report Card Out the Window

So I basically threw my goals out the window mid-month and I am UNASHAMED.

However, I am setting new goals for this school year. Starting with my quote for the year:

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~Will Rogers

1. Be more on top of things.

Starting Monday, I’ve been getting up, showering, doing my hair, dressing nicely, making breakfast… Trying to be a little more organized, a little more put together. I’m viewing junior and senior year as my preparation for college, to sort of transition into maturity and adulthood and blah blah blah. With that said, I’m doing my best to be composed this year.

2. Get straight A’s.

This is my standard school goal, lol.

3. Stay on top of school.

I don’t tend to get super behind in school, but getting it done at a reasonable hour is sometimes another story. So I’d really like to not work until 10 PM every night because I’m such a loser.

4. Prep for SAT/PSAT.

Something I should be doing but am not. ‘Nough said.

Anyway, I’m exhausted and need to go to bed. Have a good night, guys!

~Hero