egg-soaked toast

SLOW COOKED
I should trust my internal alarm. Woke up once, woke up twice. 9:30 am. Decided that I’d skip French and cook egg-soaked toast. Have a real breakfast for once instead of a microwaved burrito. I remembered that God is good regardless of what I accomplish at school- bigger than French, bigger than my interview. I let that fact settle and congeal.

KINDNESS
As I walked over to research, a man spotted me in the rain. He offered me his umbrella and he had green eyes. Tom Hardy, is that you? He said he worked under UCLA hospitality- why, kind sir, you do indeed! I wanted to lock him in a bear hug.
My research boss let me leave early for my interview, as if she were more concerned about it than I was. She even sent me a text of encouragement.

GIFTS
When I got the email- when I got admitted- the tears came.

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I’m twenty-one

Might as well write a post, right?

The defining moment yesterday: I carried the laundry basket in my arms and walked across the hallway- a picture of the birth canal. I thought: twenty one years ago today, I was a singularity. From where there was no consciousness, I was brought to life. And here I am with the fullness of moments, strings of thoughts and feelings, present and past knit together. Here is a snapshot of life: moving forward daily, through to the end of the hallway. Making my way to a graceful exit.

What do I do with a day of affirmations? Shouldn’t I have felt happier? Why wasn’t I able to embrace the love I was receiving?  Somehow I couldn’t tap into the authenticity of people’s messages. I think I’ve always had this erroneous idea that I must strive in order to be loved- that I must give more in order to deserve kindness. If I truly understood their hearts for a moment – the thoughts of my brother, my sister, my best friends and my acquaintances about me – I’d be brought to tears.

I think we must remind ourselves of the absolute reality that we are intrinsically valuable. God only makes remarkable creatures and He delights in me. He likes me, no matter what I do- just because I am.

It is a privilege to be surrounded by such talented and amazing people in my acapella group. It is a privilege to learn French, even though it takes me five hours to type one page. It is a privilege to send out an email at 2am for my sorority. As my friend so wisely put it: “even on my worst days, my resting state is all the way up here”. Yes! I am resting perpetually on the apex; I am wonderful and I do not have to prove it. Thank you Jesus! If I am already loved, if I am already victorious, what is holding me back from loving the things that I am doing, the things that I am a part of? Nothing. I am walking in His light today.

 

Nonsensical post

No structure: free form, degraded hand-writing. Cursive, illegible. Makes me think: rap, jazz, free-style. You do it often enough and it sounds rehearsed; you get it right the first time.
So here I go, this was my day:
God, help me. I didn’t want to get up from my bed. Limbs weak, eyes dry. I put on my make-up, had Oreos for breakfast. Put on my falsies and got in an Uber: 8am photoshoot.
Some people can put on more makeup and look beautiful- I however, can only go so far. I look middle aged or like my face has been painted on like a festival mask (it is le Dia de Los Muertos). I am also awfully self-conscious in front of a camera. I focus on the fact that my eyes don’t crinkle when I smile, that I must look dead and insincere. I don’t know where to position my body, so my arms are fat and my shoulders are hunched – the body of a hag. Crazy to think I used to get a kick out of play-pretend modelling. Sleepovers were for perfecting catwalk, bootcamps for sexy squints.
I went home to rip off the lashes and put on my workout clothes. I went from acapella to boxing crew, all of whom were wearing hoodies as uniform. Made a joke about running on Oreos. Chimed in on the banter, got teased for my “night-before” makeup. I love this group: so encouraging  when I forgot the combo and even more so when I got it right (whoops, cheers, high-fives). It’s frustrating to deal with memory blanks. I check out and my body goes berserk. Don’t think about it, just feel it? Ironic that the key is mental repetition. Think about it.
Microwaved chicken, left over couscous with parmesan cheese. Bread and jam, two eggs. And Oreos for the rest of the day. Insulin spike won and I took a nap, only to be woken up by a phone call. I had agreed to Skype but my soul was dry. I LOVE MY FRIENDS but sometimes I let my temporary discomforts take over. I am drained, I am annoyed, I am bothered by the prospect of socializing. But remember: she’s going to graduate- you are lucky she even makes time for you.
Today I scrolled through my phone and wasn’t all present in conversation. Today we talked about this temporary home- it feels real now, like it could last. But we are just passing through. But speaking of the ephemeral, I downloaded Tinder and swiped for a brief fifteen minutes because I remembered this cute Burning Man guy who didn’t reply me after asking to hang out. (??) Such is life.
Talked to God seriously in the shower and came across something profound:

If obsessing over a certain kind of behavior will actually increase the probability of that behavior manifesting itself, and if it’s the intent of our heart that really matters anyway, doesn’t it make sense to take the emphasis off the behavior and place it on making sure the intent of our heart is right? Doing this accomplishes two good things. It will restore our relationship with God, helping us to regain our victory, and it will make the manifestation of the behavior less likely by depriving it of its importance.
– Jack Kelley

#preach. Food does not have the power to control me- neither through the fear of giving in or through obsession. We are all works in progress. I’m okay with that.

I watched a presentation on childhood development and technology and loved it– I realize I love research for it’s findings, not for it’s methodological design (bye pHD).The concept of contaminated time is also so real and intriguing- with technology and constant access to people, work, and school, we no longer have separate spheres of life. We no longer have a set time to do different things; we forget there are seasons in life and do everything at once. We can’t get away from work and are constantly stressed. I recently learned that some French companies will shut down email access during lunch hours for their employees. The French know what it means to live well. I also frkin love podcasts. I daydream about listening to them during research but it can get distracting so I listen to music instead.
I was pleasantly surprised by an interview offer for the developmental minor I applied for- although, the only available time slot for me is TOMORROW. Good luck to me!!!!!!

Sleep beckons.

 

Fragments

Pine needles adorned with pearls of rain, forest green, thick milky skies.

I hear melodies in the hum of appliances. Cymbals in rattling pipes, scales in soaring airplanes.

Auburn leaves gently sweeping through the air in slow motion. Like the littlest petals. Bon Iver, maybe Bootstraps cooing. I am watching something unfold: a God-given moment.

“I love music that makes you look up at the sky”.

So far

It is currently 2:13 am and I am forcing myself to write. I have forgotten how great it feels to walk around in the dark, naked. I am beyond full from a tray of Animal Style fries from In-N-Out – maximal gut distension- and am relying on green tea to kickstart my metabolism. I have been finding it difficult to refuse things I don’t even need. I am not listening to my body.

Last time I felt compelled to write, it was 6am on a Monday as I was riding the buzz off the coffee I’d chugged to complete an application for a minor (due later Monday). But alas, I did my French homework and went to sleep. I would like to reiterate that college is not conducive to hobby maintenance.

This quarter has involved a string of responsibilities I asked for but did not understand the realities of. I expected a quiet quarter- more space for relationships to grow, more time to weave networks. Instead, it’s been stacked acapella rehearsals, greater investment in the Schizophrenia treatment lab, lots of planning for my sorority’s philanthropy. I attempted a 21-day fast (learning as I went) and have recently come off a binge. Post-Application/Stress Monday was cheat day. As was every day since.

Whenever God changes something within me- whenever I am no longer struggling – I seek out the very things I’ve been saved from. No longer craving peanut butter? Let’s eat peanut butter for the hell of it. I remember post-fast brownies: disgusting. But I kept eating, hoping the next bite would taste as good as I had once remembered. My first bite of an Oreo was strange- not nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. How interesting. Why, Lord, do we still chase our former idols? It’s like, not wanting to take antidepressants for fear of getting better- for fear of transformation. Who would I be without my vices?

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of who He has created me to be: free. All things are permissible but not everything is beneficial. I am mindful of what I put inside my body. I take only what I need, no more, no less. I am content, I do not crave. I seek Him first, over any material goods, and I live according to the belief that all actions have a spiritual consequence.

Although I am so far from this goal, I have faith that God can take the worst of me and write me a beautiful story of transformation. My evils will teach me Your redeeming grace, Father.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:15

 

Wined and dined

This restaurant might be too high-calibre for us. Take the telecom tower stools, for example. We clamber on like children straddling our horses. We watch, bewildered as they switch out the forks and knives: one for entrés and one for mains. Why they would do such a thing eludes me.

The napkin is dropped once and retrieved by the waiter. It is dropped twice and retrieved by the tip of my heel. I am an imposter in painted red lips, checking my reflection every so often to remain in an upright posture, as is only proper.

We have just one glass of wine each, the cheapest on the menu. I spit on my arm mid-conversation. We have tap water, the small portions. But there’s tripe, porcini mushrooms with potatoes and four postage stamps for Ravioli. Garlic bread, complimentary- a highlight with the olive oil. We are surprised by it’s quality and potency. Being here is like scraping a C in the top set for Maths, or buying a Rolex when one eats dirt on a daily basis.

***
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the siblings who wanted to share their rack of lamb and rocket salad dish. They had ordered too much. “That’s nice of them- not the fact that they offered but that they didn’t want to waste food”. Rare in a place like this, perhaps. How very lovely.

“Si” he affirmed each order. The Italian waiter- I suspect, the manager- who reminds me of my Dad’s best friend. The one I used to have a crush on, with his stubbly chin and sparkling smile. He stood a little too close. Touched my wrist gently in recommending the porcini, when he caught my eyes scanning for the bathroom. And he did so with a smile bright enough to have been the one before the kiss.

London

This morning: the wail of a siren rising in pitch, the image of a chest expanding upon inhalation.

***

We walk onto the footpath, under the bridge and by the water. Enchanting in the sun, forbidding under moonlight, where shadowy figures blow smoke and talk to themselves.

***

Regent’s Canal: A Shiba Inu scampering with it’s tiny cute butthole. A fluffy baby duck floating amidst the algae, a linoleum green bank. Rustic, the rubber of a tire encircling a patch of soil. Some green shoots. Do the pretty weeds fight for life or does the stone give way? Embellish the mouldy brick, the chipping wall paint with some flowers and graffiti.

***

We walk by a bar of morbid things. Drop anything into a mason jar and it will become an artefact. I read something I wish I hadn’t. I have a gross fascination with disgusting ideas- I hate them in reality. Like, bad things are funny when they’re not real.

***

Chilli plants like a crazy head of red. We are drawn to any sign that says: coffee. And my enthusiasm for walking fizzles out with the rain. I am on a one-man mission for food. I do not do well without breakfast, it seems. A third of the way into the chicken schnitzel and laughter bubbles inside me. Her name is Aquel.

***

Buckingham palace: I spilt coffee on the monument. I learn that she hates holding cups. You can learn a lot about your friends on holiday.

 

Trust

Nothing could have prepared me for the blood on my sheets yesterday morning. Fantastically red, smeared all over my thighs as if my skin were canvas. Splatters like cherry trees. I had never seen periods in this way: kind of beautiful, actually.
Though a little annoyed that I had to clean this up (and to think I’d want a puppy…), I got on with the task at hand. Sometimes you just have to do it. Like, cleaning your flatmates plates and taking out the trash before anyone else for some peace of mind. Like, starting a ten paged report, bulking up your skeletal resume, and going to that 9am class when your body feels like lead.

I praise God for a more adaptable attitude and an optimistic problem solving style. Instead of shying away from challenges and feeling defeated, I’ve noticed that I now respond to failure and disappointment in a more level-headed way. Am I stressed out about my Linked-in, the looming GRE and grad school applications? Absolutely. But I’m not going to be paralysed by anxiety. There is no ultimate deadline: success is growth at whatever pace works best for me. Most of the problems I’ve faced aren’t unsolvable, my screw-ups unsalvageable. And best of all, my God has planned every day that lies before me.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:16

Maybe I should’ve planned my winter holiday better. But hey, I’m on holiday. I’m trying to relax here. I’ve finally finished my two songs and posted them onto Soundcloud- now I don’t feel like a fraud when I tell people I “write songs for fun”. I just can’t find the time for personal hobbies during the school quarter- it always feels like I should be doing something else. Anyway, how frequently do you have to do something for it to be a hobby? How long ago was that a habit? Do you currently write/sing/hike/draw/read? Erm not really.

At least I’ve replied all the important emails and I’ve seen some important friends- though I tick them off the list and think I’ve done my part after one meeting. I’ve done some Christmas shopping, crafted some cards, watched The Intouchables (brilliant French film). I’ve still got Dim Sum and a massage on my mind. Another song. A book to finish. But I’m not going to fret if I don’t complete everything; last summer was a bummer because I couldn’t do it all. This winter will be different because I’m #chill.

F sleep

Any less than four hours of sleep and I am subhuman. Expressions fail to materialise, lips pressed into a hard line. I am unresponsive for the most part.

I cried on the way back from the Christmas party. It was cold, I was tired, and the thought of the trek in heels made me weak. I thought I hated her too. All of a sudden, I’m the better friend for bearing the brunt of her mood swings. I can’t wait to fly home and celebrate Christmas with my true friends. Maybe I won’t ever come back. Fuck social pain. Fuck irrationality.

I didn’t play White Elephant because I didn’t get a gift for anyone; I watched on the sofa with a heavy belly and a drowsy head. Sick from all the sugar I ate to compensate for the sluggishness. This. is. Defeat.

I dredged up all the frustrations in my heart and threw them at her in my mind. Then I forced myself to remember that I am loved with unfathomable depth. That He was loved least by men. That I can learn to love without expectation.

(sleep erases the accusations)

I slept in, skipped class this morning and drank some coffee. My skin is amazing because ovulation. Music is wonderful. My research investigator called me an Honour Student. My friend invited me to free-load off her sorority for lunch and my schedule is working itself out. It’s like magic.

I pledge to take better care of myself, to be invested in what my friends are doing and write more. Today is a better day.

Happy camper

You can take the girl out of the campfire but you can’t take the campfire out of the girl. Traces of it in my hair, my (roommate’s) silver padded Patagonia jacket. I’m back with gritty nails- half bitten, inedible sausages. I’ve accrued mysterious bruises along my side and the confident gait of one who has traversed mountains.

I’ve walked amongst the dead, charred bodies of pine cones, black as tar. Amongst micro-forests, little colonies of plants like shrunken trees. I found myself on the set of Brother Bear, surveying creeks and slender trunks on which feral grey squirrels darted back and forth. I dared myself to drink from the fresh ice-water rushing along the granite and imagined the bacteria settling in my stomach, teeming with protean life.

I learned how to roll a sleeping bag properly- a laborious affair. In America, it’s a standard mom thing to pack sleeping bags for their children, I’ve been told. I remember my favourite blanket was a padded princess sleeping bag my dad would sometimes zip me up in. I remember the pink and the baby blue, the yellow of her crown, the cotton lining a hot cocoon around my body- I learned the hard way that my feet like to breathe.

I used my electric toothbrush, lined up for hot cocoa and breakfast oatmeal- thanks to the portable water heater. Snap-stories failed to post… But I peed a couple of times in the bushes to make up for my sins. Let’s pretend it’s not my first rodeo.