Sunday, August 16, 2009

warm and starry and a little bit wonderful.

After significant scientific research, I have discovered I can change the name of this blog. Nothing, not one picture of a porta-potty, not one of your awesome comments, shall be lost. I hope :) I'm planning to do the shiftaroo on Tuesday of next week. The new blog address will be ... unless somebody comes along this weekend and snatches it up. Should that situation arise, I shall propose the offending party and I arm wrestle. Winner take all. If I lose, then I'll think of a new plan. The only thing changing about this blog will be the name. I hope it isn't confusing. I hope it's as easy as I think it will be ... just type in on Tuesday. And, ideally, I'll be right there waiting for you.

In other news, "Our Time Is Running Out" (by Muse) just came on my iTunes. This song is fantastic, but it is not conducive to sleepy making. Please hold while I change songs ...* Better.

I have much I want to write about. I want to write about Julie&Julia, and how it made me cry (!). It inspired two blog posts; one on the identities we assign people via our imaginations (identities that are nothing like the real person). And two, about how Julie&Julia convinced me it would be fun to dedicate one of these posts to my baking savvy. So I baked. It involved blueberries. "Blueberry tart" is what I was going for. (Have you ever seen this blog? It never stops being funny. Unnecessary quotations are fantastic.) However, I ended up calling it the Blandberry Tart. More on that later. Just know that, from now on, when I see puff pastry in the store, I will give it the stink eye.

For tonight, I'll jump the lonely thought train**. All week now, I've seen Facebook statuses (is that the plural of status? Statusi? :) from people heading back to college. Or going to college for the first time. The lonely posts make me wish I could reach through the screen and hug some people. One, because that would freak them out and thus be hilarious. And two, because I remember how mortified/terrified/sad I was at my freshman orientation. I held it together through the boring sessions and then immediately found a place to cry. My cell phone didn't work. The phone in my room wasn't hooked up. I used to drive to a gas station near campus, call my parents, and sob. I didn't know anybody there. I thought everybody hated me. Nobody would talk to me, which made me sad (though it is hard to talk to someone who is persistently hiding in her room crying :). I was terribly shy, which made it all worse. My dorm room was across from a graveyard, which I thought was kind of a gloomy way to start my college career. Also, girls would put on their bikinis and go lay in the graveyard trying to procure a tan, which I thought was just bizarre. It was a hard beginning.

This morning my mom gave me an old journal she found. It was full of stuff from my first year in college, including a long page where I kept praying for a few friends. In the margin of that page, I eventually wrote: Thank You, God for Hannah!!!!! :) And reading it today made me a little sappy. Hannah is still one of my closest friends. (And today is her birthday! Love you, Han! :) Even though there were parts of college that stunk completely, and even though I would not repeat the experience if someone paid me to do it (though, ironically, I will probably be paying off student loans for the rest of my life ... ;), I had the three coolest roommates ever. I'll show you a pic. Here we are at our most recent roomie reunion:

How gorgeous are they? Way. This year was big for the Fab 4. Hannah (front left) got married to a sweet, handsome guy named Jack. Carrie (front right) got her Masters Degree (she remains the most brilliant individual I've ever met. How we became friends is beyond me.). Roya (back left) had a baby girl, Addison (thus making the Fab 4 the Fab 5 :). And I ... hmm. Well. Paperdoll came out but that doesn't really compare to weddings, babies, and fancy degrees. :) They still had a big year though! And I'm so thankful they're in my life. I'm confident I wouldn't have survived the stank of college without them.

My point is this: whether you're a freshman in high school, or a freshman in college ... your terror is way more common than you think it is. Very soon, I realized I wasn't the only person who was intimidated and lonely during those first few weeks. There are other people who don't know anybody, who feel kind of clueless, who are putting on a brave face to try and stop the tear spillage. Put yourself out there as much as you can and remember: this time next year, you'll be an upperclassman. And you'll be able to hug a few lonely freshmen who are hoping for a friend. And at least one or two of the friends you make might just be one of the best friends you'll ever have. I hope you have a fantastic year. May you dork out at every opportunity, meet some new people, and get zero parking tickets. And when you're lonely, remember you're incredibly loved. For those of you who are no longer freshmen, is there anything you know now you wish you'd known then? Feel free to share your high school or college survival tips.

Reading Facebook Statusi also made me think of how weirdly fast summer goes by. One day I'm yammering away about the heat, the next day ... I'm still complaining about the heat. But summer starts to simmer down. The days get shorter. The fireflies stop blinking. The crickets don't sing me to sleep anymore.

In most regards, this summer hasn't been extraordinary. I finished The It. Watched a space shuttle sail over the house. Saw some good movies and read some good books. I drove downtown with the windows down, looking at the lights, listening to the music. I clipped white roses and put them in my room. Drove to Harrison Bay to watch the sunset:

Drank sweet tea on the porch. Took a roadtrip with my mom. All in all, the summer was really normal. But as I sit here thinking about it, it seems like it was sort of incredible. Like something special happened this summer that I'm not thinking about, or don't get just yet. It's like there's this one, warm, starry memory tucked deep down in my heart I might not realize for a long time. Sometimes you don't realize a good moment when you're in it. I think this summer will be like that for me. (Or maybe my Tylenol PM is just kicking in now and I'm not making any sense? :)

I would love to hear from you. What was your favorite part of the summer of 2009? (And if you have more than one favorite part, that is also okay! :) I can't wait to hear your answers.

Happy weekending. Don't forget ... Tuesday we're moving to a new place.

*Flightless Bird American Mouth by Iron and Wine
** That sounds like the title of a country music song. :)


  1. High school as a social party every day for me. But college...I had to meet people--by myself? Not a pleasant 4 years. I, too, would not do college over. But I often think about how I didn't put myself out there enough. My advice would be not to turn your nose up at things you think are beneath you. Like I was too--something--to be in a sorority. Well, those sorority girls had friends. And cool tshirts. And I didn't want to be bothered by the lame and random group that met in a church affiliated student union. And I couldn't bring myself to go to the student union that had free lunch 1x a week. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Geez, I was the lame one. Push yourself to be different, and if you're shy, and just get out there and make some friends. Volunteer. Sit in in the lobby of your dorm for a bit each day or week. Strike up conversations with perfect strangers in class. All those who seem unapproachable to you as a young college student are sooooo not much different than you. Trust me.

    And Natalie, UGH! Of COURSE your book Paperdoll is HUGE. It is baby and wedding and masters huge. It's gigantor huge. Be proud. Anybody can get married these days...; )

  2. I think a great piece of advice for those starting high school or college is to get involved. Find a club or a team or a society that you're interested in and join it. You'll automatically have something in common with everyone there, and common interests are a great place to start a friendship. And if you can't find something you're interested in, you're either too picky or not looking hard enough... ;)

    And Natalie! Don't downplay your book! Not that marriage and babies and masters degrees aren't great achievements, but being published is a landmark (unless it's your 200th book...I imagine the luster wears off...still, 200 is it's own landmark--but I digress).

    And my favorite parts of summer were the lazy afternoons and evenings sitting on the front swing with a tall glass of iced tea (we don't have sweet tea up here in the Northland) while reading and writing and being with God. Absolute bliss.

  3. Jenny, such good advice. Loved your blog today too. Good reminder you never really know how much you like something until you try it. College is a great time to try.

    Carra, thanks so much for your comment. I think a problem I had in college (and probably still do to some extent) is that I wait for people to approach me and pull me into something. Your comment is a good reminder that sometimes, as awkward as putting yourself out there is, it is so worth it. Like Jenny said, everybody really is in the same boat when it comes to nerves.

    Also, your summer comment is making me crave tea. I like it unsweet too. In some pockets of the South (not naming any names), sweet tea has so much sugar I can feel cavities forming as soon as I take a drink. That is no good :)

    And to both of you, I hope the book thing didn't come off as self-deprecating. Writing it was a big freaking huge commitment and I'm way grateful and so excited over it. I just thought in context with the other "biggies" maybe it didn't fit. Regardless, even if I did write 200 books, the luster would not wear off. Not even a little bit. I would still scream like a cheerleader everytime. :)

  4. I had an awesome time doing stuff with my youth group this summer. And the fun doesn't end in the fall, either. We still meet at church for Sunday school and Bible study and AWANA. It's great to go and talk and learn about God.

  5. I guess I've been really blessed, because I have loved every second of college so far. My freshman year was completely amazing, and it just keeps getting better. I have a feeling that graduation is going to be one of the hardest moments of my life, haha.

    My advice for freshmen? Meet as many people as you possibly can, especially in the first week or so because at that point, no one knows anyone and everyone's wanting to make friends; no real cliques have normally developed yet. I'm not an extremely outgoing person by nature, but I have a HUGE group of friends, most of whom I met during the first few weeks. Also--don't let your time with God slide. It can have a really gradual, but really devastating, effect on your relationship with Him!!

  6. Ashley, sounds like a sweet summer! Love that you're tight with your youth group. :)

    Ellie J., so glad you are loving every second of college! Great reminder on time with God too. I went to a small Christian college and sort of substituted the environment for my time with God. Which was dumb. Like watching people lift weights, and never lifting them myself, but still assuming I'll get Kelly Rippa arms dumb.

  7. Whoa, my Google reader automatically figured out the new link. Gold star for Google. :)

    Julia and Julie (or is it Julie and Julia?) was great! I loved the dialogue, and definitely cracked up laughing when Julia's sister arrived on the train--"You can't miss your sister."

    I would recommend to freshmen to check out all their options during their first year, and find a niche somehow. For me, once I got involved in helping with Bible quizzing, and Youth in Mission, I found my place and was able to establish some continuity.

    Here in Ukraine, right now, I have to do some of the same things, but with the missionaries and with the teachers. I will be figuring out where I fit with each person, and getting to know them, because for the most part, we have no prior history together. (The missionaries that I do know won't be back until 2 weeks from now and in October) Hopefully this weekend I will be traveling with some folks from my denomination down to Odesa, on the Black Sea. :D

  8. Natalie, this post was quite encouraging! I'm heading off to college just five days from now, and there's an ache in my heart that refuses to go away. Thanks for reminding me that it's okay to feel teary and strange at first. ;)

    I'm sad that summer is drawing to a close, but I've got to say that it's been a happy one. Nothing big...just full of laughter, Happy Hours at Sonic, going bowling and taking LOTS of great photos. :)

  9. Ok, so I HEARTED college, but I was still nervous when I started. The best advice I can give is to get involved with several activities/orgs, but don't try to join everything all at once-pace yourself. I don't think most people would classify me as a typical sorority girl, but joining a sorority was one of the best things I did in college. Also, it sounds obvious, but GO TO CLASS. It's really easy to skip it and watch a Gilmore Girls marathon, but if you have a borderline grade and the professor actually remembers seeing you in class, you'll be better off!

    My favorite part of the summer has been watching all the wildlife from my porch-turtles, cranes, ducks, geese, herons, bats, and Elvis. Good times.

  10. You were involved with Cru in college? That's awesome! It is one of the reasons that I have loved college so far! I got plugged in with a great group of friends and then my sophomore year lived in a primarily freshman dorm to lead a Bible study. This year I am on student staff and being discipled and discipling other girls - I agree, I love the emphasis on multiplication.

    I hope my roommates and I still get together for reunions after college!

  11. mc, you're an awesome source on how to have a successful bordering on fantastical college experience. I should have listened to you. And transferred. ;) But seriously! I second the concept of pacing yourself. I wish I had focused on one thing to really throw my heart into in college. Your porch is awesome, btw. I like hanging out there too! :)

    Samantha, I wasn't heavily involved with Cru. As a freshman, I participated in a Bible study. As a senior, I led a Bible study for freshman girls. That's a great organization though. I'm glad you're involved there!

  12. I'm only going to a community college, not a four year one, and I'm a nervous wreck, LOL. It's encouraging to realize that I'm not the only one who feels nervous and awkward. This is such a huge change for me, because I'm having to become more independent and meet new people. Or maybe even with people again who I haven't seen since elementary school. =)

  13. Kristin, I think, in a way, it's even harder to start college with people you know (or sort of know .. :). Rest assured, everybody is still freaked out :) Hope you love every minute of it!