Category Archives: in the final days

Thank You

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Today is the first day since I can remember that I actually have nothing – yes nothing! – to do. I’ve been school searching and job searching and paper writing and apartment hunting and Japanglish memorizing and life stressing every moment for the past many years. And, starting Monday, I’m sure I will be again. But today it’s sunny, unseasonably temperate, and I have nothing to do but sun myself in Prospect Park with a good book.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

yours.Rachel

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Soon You’ll Be Drenched to the Bone

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Yes, Mr. Dylan, the times, they are a changin’.  The summer is almost over; I am days away from completing my internship, an epic road trip home, and a new semester shortly after that.  And, as fate would have it, the rest of the future seems to be knocking at my door as well.  A renewed relationship and a bright prospect has rekindled my love for Boston, and it’s also rekindled my passion.  I’m excited to move on from here – not because I hate my job so much – but because I’m excited for the next phase of my life.  I’m actually ecstatic for school to start.  My classes have the potential to be really interesting, and I’m looking forward to having more time and energy to put into learning this fall.

And shortly after fall ends, I will hopefully have the job I’ve been working myself raw for over the last four years.   I’m ready to go, but for the first time, I’m not terribly anxious for it to all come together.  The last time I had a prospect like this – one that in the end didn’t yield and led to my semester in Rome (and my life being shaped accordingly) – I started having panic attacks I was so ready. I couldn’t handle the waiting – the uncertainty, the delicious tease, and the way an unexpected email could change everything and reduce you to a giddy little girl stumbling over her own tongue.  The back and forth of the day to day, and the hurry up and wait made me miserable.

Ironically, the thing that’s keeping me calm now is fear.  I’m not ready for January, because I don’t feel ready for this job.  Take note, this is me, admitting infallibility (save this link for future reference.)  I have this bizarre and terrible feeling that I’m so clever I managed to endure 18 years of education without learning anything, and that when I get to Boston, to my dream job, to everything I’ve ever wanted in the world, they’ll find out.  They’ll realize I’m a phony – that I didn’t do all the reading I was supposed to, that I’m not “Wicked Smart” (or a real redhead) like my redheaded friend thinks I am, and that I don’t actually know anything about anything.  They’ll tolerate me until the end of my internship and then they’ll let me go, disappointed, but not having lost much.  I, on the other hand, will have lost everything.

My fear of imperfection has long been by best friend and worst enemy.  On a good day, it will motivate me to be excited for my classes and to pay attention when I know my confidence and fair writing skills could probably let me coast.  But, on a less-than-good day, it will make me feel like I don’t deserve this.  How many people want a job so glamorous as this – one where you wear jeans to the office and leave Friday at 2 if you have nothing to do, and where they pay you to go plan parties and stay up all night. How many of those people are smarter than me?  How many are skinnier?  How many of them are better at making fast friends and making people fall in love with them?

I mentioned this to my mother earlier when we were talking, and apparently both feeling very open and candid, and she recalled a book she read (characteristically), about this very feeling.  It came out in the 80s, or some other equally self-obsessed decade, and it discussed the common symptom of 20somethings feeling like phonies.   Apparently many people my age felt like this, at least in the 80s, and were all irrationally convinced of their own inadequacy.  She recalled feeling the same way.  Do you?

Perhaps it’s the rebuttal to the infallibility of the college years – the times when you are invincible, self-obsessed, and fairly sure that you’re the best thing since sliced bread.  Then, when you’re paying your own rent, buying your own broccoli, and thinking about a 401-K plan, you realize you aren’t all powerful.  And, for some reason, that translates in our developing brains to complete incompetence.  I don’t know everything, and therefore I must know nothing.  And the people who pay me – who pay for my rent and my broccoli and my (probably-non-existent) 401-K plan, had better not find out.  Maybe?  But like I said, I don’t know.  Anything.  At all.  Shhh…don’t tell.

Fortunately, and also characteristically, I was comforted by this book that may or may not really have existed (I don’t know).  My mother and I aren’t always good at hearing each other, and we are often no good at helping each other, but when we connect is when I am looking to be told that what I’m feeling is normal.  Sometimes all I want to know is that I’m not alone, and that I’m not just cleverly dodging the label of insanity like I fear I am dodging the label of ignorance.  Times like this my mother, with her calm detachment and extensive mental library, says exactly what I need.

I mean don’t get me wrong.  I’m still terrified I’ve been faking it, and even more terrified that someone who isn’t will find out.  But hopefully I’m just terrified enough to care about things I’ve never cared about (school).  Maybe the fear is just what I need to keep myself occupied.  Maybe life is a desert, dreams are manna, and fear is the sun beating on your brow, pushing you onward.   You wouldn’t get to the oasis without it.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Maryanne Williamson

yours.Rachel

facts and other things

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Last night I couldn’t sleep.  Laying in bed for an hour and I half, I listened to Iron and Wine and felt something heavy resting on my chest.  When the room started to spin around 4, I got up, had breakfast, and wrote a paper.

Littered across the floral carpet in our living room are tiny orange pieces.  After a moment of brow-furrowing, I notice they are spilling out of a foil bag suggesting they are a miniature cousin of Cheez-its.   Branded “Grips.”  (ha.)

This weekend, my father broke his toe.  After stubbing it, he decided it was no cause for alarm and proceeded to take a 4 mile hike.   Upon removing his sock and discovering his toe was purple and deformed, he considered stopping at the emergency room before work.  He made sure to leave a half-an-hour early.

Everyone keeps telling me I must be having a panic attacks. I keep shrugging, and not giving a shit whether they are or not.  What good is naming something if that’s all you have to say about it?

Lately, I have been constantly dehydrated.  No matter how much water I drink or chapstick I apply, I can’t seem to do much about my hard dry lips.

Earlier, I was looking at her sitting where I am now, and I mentioned it was funny how thin the line is between neuroses that incapacitate and those that make an individual highly effective.

I got a new YelloBeat this evening (that time before the sun came up).  Went Driving.  Almost ran over a woodchuck, or whatever other furry four legged creature that was that ran in my way.

Turning down my street, I got to thinking about dreaming.  I don’t regret my dreams – any I had then or still have now.  Dreams keep from you shriveling up, keeping you limber until you can make your reality into something you’re pround to claim.

a degree in decorative arts and Material cultuRe Studies

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A good friend of mine laughs when people say Albion is a place where a lot of people come to get an MRS. degree – “if that was my plan, honey, I’d have gone to Yale.  That’s doing it right.”

The other night, some of us were sitting around our dining room, cluttered with snack-wrappers, decongestants, crumpled/official institutional papers, and the remnants of creative party costumes, and we found ourselves researching a certain academic institution.   Their slogan, “A Place to Think”, smacked of our latest investment, the beloved “Always Thinking” campaign, but we chuckled, thinking that their rhetoric fit the bill better than our sweet Midwestern face.  Recreationally perusing their assets, we restlessly explored their internet space, imagining degrees and futures and places far from here.  I happened upon their graduate degrees, finding one dedicated to the study of “decorative arts” and the study of material culture.   They, with futures in translational neuroscience and clean water activism couldn’t help chuckling, and I laughed too.

It got me to thinking about material culture.  As an amateur psychologist and an aspiring marketer, I am fascinated by why people purchase what they do, how it makes them feel, and what that means about them and all of us.   I suspected I would enjoy the field of study, but was equally convinced I would jump out of the window of an Upper East Side apartment if I spent too much time there.

And I’m looking around the dining room table now while I should be writing a final exam paper, and I’m noticing the tremendous amount of “stuff” I’ve accumulated over the week.  Transitional periods in life are usually accompanied by the acquisition of things, as if we like the ancient Egyptians are trying to gift our leaving loved ones into success in the next phase of life’s journey.

In this week, I’ve acquired a lot of material.  This includes but is not limited to:  A silver-plated frame engraved with “Albion College”, penis shaped wine charms and ice-cube trays, a marble paperweight mounting a bronze plaque inscribed with my name, a sequined butterfly thong from Meijer, plastic lobster shaped plates, a fair-trade obnoxiously beaded but stylish ring from India, and highly-caloric snackfood courtesy of the admission office (hoping to appease the younger ones into retention and the older ones into donation).

It’s funny, sitting with all of it surrounding me here in the dining room.  A little tipsy, I can’t help but laugh at the juxtaposition – the ceremonial next to the absurd, the creative next to the conventional, and how much that feels like these last 8 days of our time here.  We bounce back and forth from pomp and circumstance to feet pounding down the stairs and a stream of obscenities as someone has tackled someone else on the floor.   The days are divided into the sentimental and the escapist, the formal and the utterly casual, the poignant and the ridiculous.  Hardly a day passes where someone hasn’t sobbed and laughed hysterically only an hour later, and honestly none of us are sure whether we should be blinking proud tears or scoffing at the stolen Balwin trays arriving daily at our door.

These days are strange ones, and all I can think to do is finish my paper on the most significant theories in the field of Communications, sipping on the wine in my glass adorned with a red beaded charm and a dangling dick.  A somewhat realistic one, with veins and everything.   Cheers.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed
ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to
function.  – F. Scott Fitzgerald

yours.Rachel

The times they are ‘a changin

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It was ironic now that I think about it.  It was another Saturday in Albion, and we were returning from sorority events and recovering from rough mornings – I was nesting in a soft wine-stained blanket eating rice cakes.  All of us sitting around in boxers, tanktops, and last night’s dresses, our expertly applied eyemake-up smudged and our hair flattened or tangled as the noontime sun shone through the windows.   We were sharing stories from the evening before and laughing while we should have been writing papers or attending some sort of programing and All Systems (were) Normal like it says on the temperature control system everyday.  And We were watching a movie about prison.

Years ago I saw the Shawshank Redemption, but at the time I don’t think it meant much to me.  But seeing it here – looking around this big house, our own private island with crown-molding abounding and the windows divided into small panes by wooden pieces casting shadows that looked like bars on the floral carpet – it hit a little closer to home.  There are a lot of things we’ve built here.  No incredible libraries, but chapters and stories and realities instead.

Some people get out and can’t handle it. I saw one today.  Though locked in by cornfields and abounding midwestern averageness, these same walls that confine also protect, and as we seniors learn daily, there isn’t anything that’s actually beyond our control here.  When some are freed, paroled into the larger world, they loose their footing and choke on the ropes they’ve tied around their own necks.

But others of us have been picking since the first day we arrived.  With tiny chisels we have pick, pick, scraped away at the walls every night, covering our progress with pretty faces and elected offices.  And now it’s time to crawl.  Crawl through 500yards – 15 days – of dust and dirt and shit and red tape.

When the movie finished, we went outside because UVrays are all that’s left for us around here.  The edges of the skies started to gray and scribbles of light shot from one end of the house-studded horizon to the other.  We watched the storm come in, and I thought about a line I’d scribbled down during the movie.

“I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice.”

This ones for you, bright-feathered birds.

yours.Rachel