Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Unending Amount of Junk

For the past few days, I've been sorting through all of my belongings. It's amazing the massive amount of junk one can accumulate over 22 years. I'm trying to separate out all the things I need for our road trip, for Europe and for our apartment, and then getting the rest ready for a garage sale. While this may not sound so daunting given the fact that I have an entire week to do it, you'll just have to trust me: it is.

Not only is there barely enough room in my bedroom, the hallway, and parts of the living room, dining room and the garage to hold all of it, it's incredibly cramped when trying to organize it into different piles. Additionally, every time I find an old notebook or t-shirt, I'm thrown into a stroll down memory lane and have to examine it. I like remembering days past, but after three full days of it, I'm starting to go bonkers. lol I've tried on about 1/2 of my wardrobe in the past two days, and decided to get rid of about 1/3 of it. It's actually making me never want to go shopping again.

But, in the end, this will make moving in July that much easier. And I'm finding I was way overdue for a spring (and by spring I mean first part of my life) cleaning.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is it really over?

Two days ago I moved out of Ann Arbor, my home for the past four years. Standing in that empty dorm room, looking at the posterless walls, the desk no longer stacked with books and papers, the ridiculously narrow twin bed ... it was an incredible moment when I realized that I was no longer a college student.

For the past couple months, anyone who's talked to me knows just how much I wanted to be done. I've complained about exams, cursed extra study sessions, and even started thinking that writing just one more mundane essay really would kill me.

But I made it.

The graduation ceremony was unprecedented this year. Due to construction, the Big House was unavailable, so the students voted on an alternate location, choosing the Diag. We were the first graduating class to ever hold commencement in this oh-so-familiar part of campus. The trees framed the huge video screens all around the venue. Seats were crammed in rows upon rows upon rows all the way back to North University Street. The steps to the graduate library had been transformed into an elegant flower-lined stage with at least twenty brightly-colored flags providing the backdrop.

Bob Woodruff gave an excellent speech. He spoke with an easy-going charm that could make even his sales pitch for his book seem funny and conversational. The student speaker was also pretty good. He told a story about an old Native American legend concerning the wolverine. When he got to the part of the story where "even the wolverine failed" the entire crowd started booing, which was pretty hilarious. He eventually went on to say that the wolverine kept trying and eventually succeeded, thereby providing an excellent example of how we should never give up.

But after all of that, after my actual graduation, the $1.5 million commencement ceremony, I still didn't completely comprehend how huge this all was. It didn't seem final. It didn't seem like it was all over. But once I was in my empty room, all packed up with my car keys in hand, that was when it hit me.

It's true what they say: you don't really appreciate something until you don't have it anymore. Except this time, it was those last moments slipping away that I realized what I would soon lose: my little Ann Arbor town. It really has been a great place to live. The way the city merges together with the campus, the trees in full bloom during the first months of the fall semester and again as the school year ends, the endless stream of pedestrians stopping traffic, and especially all the legends about everything from underground tunnels to riot-proof architecture to the curse of stepping on the "M" too soon. All of it ... I was going to miss it.

But this feeling, it was more than just knowing I was going to miss Ann Arbor. I felt astonished. Had I really been here four years? Was my college career really over? It felt like I had literally only moved into my freshman dorm room in East Quad two or three days ago. Four years? One whole college degree? Standing there in the empty room, it felt like the universe had played some sort of cosmic trick on me. Time had been moving in fast forward all along.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Dalai Lama and Earth Day

On Sunday, I went to a lecture. It's true that I've already gone to my last lecture of college; this was a bit different: I just went to a lecture given by the Dalai Lama. That's right. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The lecture was entitled, "Earth Day Reflections" since Monday was Earth Day.

He wore a red visor on his head, which matched his red robe. He sat in a big leather chair with his legs crossed beneath him. It felt more like I was getting coffee with professor--who doesn't speak great English, though, lol--than sitting in a basketball stadium listening to a Nobel Peace Prize AND a Congressional Gold Medal recipient. It was pretty cool that a man of his magnitude could have that effect on an audience.

His speech was mainly on sustainability and environmental responsibility, and also compassion, tolerance and inter-religious understanding. Here's a quote: "Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all mankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival."

It really got me thinking about what I can do, since I am moving out and becoming an adult now. Chris and I have talked about getting solar panels installed once
we actually get a house. So then we would actually be producing energy for ourselves, and when we have an excess, it goes back to the power company and gets distributed elsewhere. Pretty neat, huh? I've seen a lot of other shows on alternative ways to save energy and water and such within your home. I really want to do as much as we can to protect the environment. (Although I must admit, the chances of us living in one of those self-sustained garbage houses out in the desert is pretty unlikely. lol)

The strange part of all this, however, was all the protesters outside. Apparently China is none too fond of the Dalai Lama. According to the Ann Arbor News: "A pro-China demonstration continued throughout the day, with about 100 protesters in a couple of locations passing out literature and engaging passers-by in discussion in support of China over its dispute with Tibet." They were also holding a lot of signs about the Olympics since they are being held in Bejing.

All in all, it was a pretty interesting experience.
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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Half-Time Plan

So here’s the thing. I need to decide what I’m going to do after all of our amazing post-grad adventures. Once we move in to our apartment and Chris starts working … what am I going to do?

Obviously I plan on working. But I have a feeling I’m going to need to have it a little more worked out than that. Here’s what I sort of want to do, but I’m a little afraid to do:

As I said in my first entry, I want to write. I want to be a professional writer. That would be amazing. To make my living off of writing. So what I could do is work half-time in a bookstore or something that requires very little mental energy, and write during all my free time. If I focus all my effort on getting and agent and getting published, I just might have a shot.

The scary part is: what if I don’t get published? What if no agent likes my work and no publishing house will take a chance on me? All that time would be wasted, and I’ll be just as much of a broke college student as I ever was.

But if you don’t take risks, I guess you never really even have the chance to go somewhere.

Wow. One of my first big decisions in my shiny new life. They don’t start you off with the easy ones first in the real world, do they?

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Final Days

On Saturday, our ResStaff put on the Oxford Carnival in our building. We had a cotton candy machine, carnival games, a caricaturist and an airbrush tattoo artist. By the end of it, we were all covered in tattoos and sick from too much cotton candy. haha It was quite successful, though, and the residents really seemed to have a good time. But as usual, the staff had a blast together. It's been so great working with such a fun staff all year.

Well, the Xylem launch was ... O.K. It was nice to see my story in a printed book. I submitted two stories, and they actually picked the one I didn't expect them to pick. That was interesting to see what other people like in my writing.

Unfortunately, my name is spelled wrong two out of the four times it appears in the journal. :-( At least they recognized me as the correct gender in my bio, which they failed to do for one of the other writers. The event itself looked formal, but didn't have a lot of structure to it. It wasn't the type of event that you want to invite your parents to ... which I had already done. lol So that was disappointing and I felt guilty for having my mom drive out here. Oh well, live and learn. At least I have my work published in a journal. :-) Can't complain about that.

Tonight we had a Staff Recognition (foodless) Banquet. lol They had it set up sort of like a carnival. I tried to learn how to juggle. Tried is the key word. Our Hall Director called up all the seniors and recognized us for our contributions. He thanked me for always doing the artistic projects for the staff that they volunteer me for when I'm away from the staff meetings. haha And also for doing technology-related stuff too. He also gave our whole staff little stuffed oxes (for Oxford) which was incredibly cute.

And one of the most exciting things to happen in these final days of college: today I went to my last two classes of my college career! Not bad, eh? I turned in my last essay today, and in a week I have my last two exams. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm sad to almost be done, but to be honest, I'm really not. I know everyone says I'll miss it all when I don't get to sleep in anymore and have to go to work everyday. But it's hard for me to see that right now. It's like I keep saying, I'm just so excited to be starting my shiny new life with my boyfriend. I'm happy that I'll soon be in a no-distance relationship instead of a long-distance relationship. I'm thrilled by the idea of coming home at the end of the day and having time for myself, instead of for studying. And I can't wait to have all the writing I do be for me, and for real people and not just professors to read. How can I be sad about anything when I have all that to look forward to?
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Sunday, April 13, 2008


I love hallways.

I like what they signify. You’re leaving one room, but you’re on your way to somewhere else. With a hallway, you always have somewhere else to go.

Hallways are like the journey in a big adventure. They aren’t the destination, but they are still important. After all, half the fun is in getting there, right?

I’ve lived in a single-room dorm for the past four years. A couple summers ago, I worked freshman orientation at UM, and I was allowed to stay in room with a private bathroom. Connecting the bedroom and the bathroom: a beautifully narrow, white hallway. It was the highlight of my summer.

Standing in that hallway at night, with the light flickering from the tv around the corner, I felt like I was somewhere special. I imagined myself in my own apartment, on my way to the kitchen to actually cook for myself. Only after you’ve ate dorm food for four years can you understand the intense desire one feels to cook for one’s self.

And now, Chris and I are moving into a wonderful 2-bedroom apartment with a hallway that leads to three different doors. Imagine the possibilities. It’s tantalizing.

Anything could be behind those doors at the end of the hallway.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Xylem Magazine

This Sunday is the launch of UM's literary magazine, Xylem. One of my stories is being published in it. :-) It feels so great to say that: I'm being published. No matter how many times it happens, I don't think those words will ever lose their thrill. And I must say, it's a great way to end my college career.

The journal publishes poetry, prose and photography. It sounds like a lot of us will be reading/displaying our work at the launch party. Another reading this weekend, I guess. haha I suppose this will get me ready for the life of a professional writer. ;-)

Now if I can only focus my energy on writing that last college essay that's due on Monday ...
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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Senior Honors Thesis

Last night, I had my Senior Honors Thesis Reading. There were nine students who completed a thesis in Creative Writing. It was so fun hearing all the different styles or writing, especially considering that many of us have the same adviser.

Standing up there at the podium, in the little Benz library, I kept thinking about how this is it. This is the moment I've been working for for the last year. Moreover, this is the culminating event of my college career. Pretty huge, right?

When it was all over, I walked home with a smile stuck to my face. I couldn't have frowned to save my life. It felt so good to have such a huge project finally finished. And it brings me that much closer to graduation and all my exciting adventures with Chris. :-)

Creative Writing

I'm graduating from college in two weeks. Two unbelievably short weeks. I'm getting my BA in Creative Writing and Literature, and I just found out that I'll be graduating with honors. :-)

"So what are you going to do with that degree?" I'm sure you'd like to ask me.

Well, I'm glad you wanted to ask that, because I want to write! I love books. I love stories and adventures and carefully-worded sentences. I love romance and sci fi and biographies. And I love, love, love to travel.

But I guess that doesn't answer your imaginary question. The truth is ... I'm not completely sure. I've got some options and I'm just seeing how things work out.

Here's what I do know: I'm going on a road trip with my boyfriend, Chris, in May. In June, we're going backpacking in Europe for a month. And in July, we're moving to Syracuse, NY.

The most important element in all of those things is, of course, my companion. As far as I'm concerned, everything else can be worked around that. I'm so excited to be starting this next phase of my life--my shiny new life, that is--with this wonderful guy, this best friend of mine.

So now, I'm going to use my writing skills from my shiny new degree to write fiction and post in this blog. And I'm excited to share my adventures with you. ;-) Hope it's every bit as entertaining and adventurous as my life so far.