Friday, December 31, 2010

every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

what a year!
a year of change,
a year of CRAZY.

i've moved 4 times,
made 52 new friends,
driven 14,851 miles,
and taken 4,178 pictures.

i've learned that all people really want is to feel loved, just as they are.
i've learned that if a room's too dark to take a picture, you can turn up your ISO and then shoot,
and i've learned that dancing really does solve a lot of problems.

and 2011 is going to be gooooooood.

i'm going to learn a language,
and leave the country,
and start a company maybe.
and probably become queen of the world.
and most of all just be really really happy.


Friday, December 24, 2010

christmas adam

yesterday, the day before christmas eve, lovingly titled "christmas adam" by my little sister, is also my brother's birthday. he is serving a mission in paris right now. what better way to celebrate his birthday, his mission in france, and christmas adam than with a five-course french dinner! (there is no better way, that is the correct answer.)

and a little chocolate baby lava cake for good measure:


every year, a couple of my cousins and i go to decorate my grandma's house for christmas. she only has two outlets in her front room, which isn't enough for the 12+ porcelain houses she has for her fireplace mantle:

this makes our mathematician desi go:

but once we've daisychained a little:

she can:

a few other decorative delights from grandma's house:

christmas gnomes!

gnome/elf/dwarf with wiggly legs:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

sweets, treats, and other delights

on the week before christmas break, i ate too many treats:

twelve blueberry muffins
half a shake from sonic
ten sweet potato fries
nine spicy nacho doritos
eight ounces starbucks caramel cocoa
seven cups of mango salsa
six ghiradhelli brownies
five chocolate truffles!

four mini milky ways
three handfuls of m&ms
two redeeming salads
and one very large rice krispie treat!

*other than one hamburger from sammy's, this is all i have eaten since sunday. yes, it's gross. i am aware. and ashamed. and nauseous.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a song at two in the morning for all those who are up writing papers with me

and it starts sometime around midnight. at least that's when you lose yourself for a minute or two. as you sit under your desk light, and itunes plays some song about forgetting yourself for a while. and the piano's this melancholy soundtrack to the miles of pages and pages you have to write before resting a while.

then there's a change in your emotions, and all these words come rushing like literary waves to your mind. but you feel hopeless and homeless and lost in the haze of the lines (on the paper). as you type and type quotes, your head's spinning, your stomach in ropes. and then your friends say, "what is it? you look like you've seen a ghost." (i have, thanks--MY ghost. the ghost of carolyn killed by writing a paper all night long.)

you walk home under the streetlights and you're too tired to notice that everyone is just as tired as you. you just don't care what you look like, your brain has split into two! you just have to be there, you just have to be there, you just have to be there, you just have to be there, you just have to be there to know that writing papers will suck your soul like voldemort.

Monday, December 13, 2010

monday morning letter, first day of finals

dear world,
please save me from having to use my brain.

i'm on the second floor of the library.

thank you,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the english major as a heroic enterprise

(my scholastic heroine face. harder than you'd think to pull--just the right amount of hoity-toity and fearlessness.)

i am a heroine, on a heroic enterprise in this journey to become a professor of literature. or so my faculty advisor told me tonight. as being such requires the biannual ritual of term-paper writing, i believe it is high time for the following list:

things i love about writing term papers:
  • the double-dipped chocolate peanuts. i'll be honest, that IS the first thing i think when term-paper time rolls around every year. no i am not ashamed okay maybe a little. they're in the bookstore at the fudge counter. they really help when it's 3 pm and you have fallen into the black hole of realizing that you don't a) have enough time to write the length of paper you need to, b) have enough time to write the quality of paper you need to, or c) even have an idea for what you are going to write the paper about. at that point, you begin losing any semblance of hope you had, and are nigh resigning yourself to utter despair! bad news. the good news: double-dipped chocolate peanuts will pull you out of the 3 pm black hole. you're welcome.
  • the stillness of writing a paper at 5 am on the bedroom floor. the morning really is a time when there is enough quiet that the right words seem all around. fruit to be plucked off the tree. (by 3 pm the fruit has been thoroughly plucked and the tree is barren (hence the 3 pm black hole). and then you feel justified in quitting, which is also a good feeling. which leads me to....
  • hitting the wall. i have become very attuned to my inner sense of focus. my brain hits walls. it used to take me 30 minutes to realize i'd hit a wall. now it only takes 2. when i see the wall, i keep running till i hit it, and then i pack up, and go home for a movie, or for some guitar time. you understand. i am good to my brain. i figure i've got to be if it's going to keep doing me good in this herculean task called term papers.
  • the nap you get to take because you got up at 5 am to write a paper.
  • finding cute boys in the library to sit by. sometimes this is the best way to keep me focused, because you think, "oh hey, that cute boy is here studying. that means i should study too." think of it as having your mom in the room with you when you're getting your wisdom teeth removed. in a weird sort of way, knowing friends (or cute boys) are around, sharing in my pain, helps me to be okay with being there, having the wisdom of my brain extracted. (get it, get it? it's an extended metaphor and also a pun.) (and sorry if i'm superficial or creepy for finding cute boys in the library. sue me. and sorry if the comparison of cute boys to your mom is weird. yeah it kind of is.)
  • finding your one song, the one that is always there to untie the twists you've gotten in your scholastic knickers. this year, mine's "The Longer I Run" by Peter Bradley Adams. (ironic title considering my procrastination rant yesterday)
  • having sentences just come to me, as i'm in the shower or walking to class or driving home or falling asleep. this results in me memorizing whole paragraphs to type as soon as i get out of the shower, veering off the sidewalk to sit amongst bushes and hammer out a paragraph or two on my way to class, scribbling snippets of sentences and phrases on the back of receipts in my car at every stoplight i stop at, texting myself outlines of my paper because i'm too lazy to get out of bed to find a pen and paper.
  • the pages and pages of scribbled notes and webs and outlines and sketches and maps that prove that i'm actually thinking, and not just sitting mindlessly staring into space. someday when i am a genius i will publish all of these in a sort of compendium to the art of crazy-writing.
  • that moment when you've been wrestling through empty ideas and tangled thoughts, and suddenly the enlightenment comes, and everything around you blurs and it's just you and the page and your words. those moments i could write forever, and never eat again and never sleep again, but just write until every truth in existence was unraveled in my pen. melodramatic, i know. but i live for those moments.
  • that last half-hour when you're writing the conclusion, and the words are just coming to you, falling like manna straight to your fingertips. and you ride the river all the way to the ocean, when your fingers show you the "so what?", the meaning, the magnitude of what you have just unearthed. i don't know that i've ever experienced this moment without crying a little bit. in a good way. crying at how lovely our minds are and the Spirit is that from two literary loaves and a few fishes, we can somehow construct a feast. i see this power in so many people around me, in the words they say, the lessons they teach, the papers they write. at the end of every paper, i am left with a profound sense of gratitude, for the capacity of our minds, for moments of enlightenment, for others' words that have inspired me, helped me make connections, deepened my understanding. for the very simple yet unknowable miracle that is words!
and now, thing i don't love about writing term papers:
  • the two weeks of acute anxiety i put myself through before allowing myself to experience the above joys. yes, this IS because of my habit of procrastination. don't mock.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Overcoming Procrastination"

"Overcoming Procrastination." that's the title of the handout that somehow found its way to me as i walked through the wilk today. let's read it together:

Ignore the Task: Do you ever think that if you jut ignore the task it will go away?

Why yes I do. I justify this practice by telling myself I'm practicing my powers of imagination, which are crucial to any artist's well-being.

Underestimate the Work and/or Overestimate your Abilities: Do you underestimate the work involved in the task, or overestimate your abilities and resources in relationship to the task?

Does saving a research paper, a 15-source Annotated Bibliography, a lesson plan, 257 pages of novel reading, 10 pages of Norton Anthology reading (those of you who are lit people know the equivalency ratio: I believe it's 1 pg Norton = 10,000 pgs regular), and a presentation for the morning that they're all due qualify as underestimating the work and/or overestimating my abilities?

Become Distracted by Repeated Delays: Do you find yourself wasting time on small unimportant tasks at the expense of larger more important ones?

Yeah this is pretty much my I'm blog-writing instead of writing 2 10-page papers, reading Theory...well, you get the picture. Again, though, I justify this--I'm building my creative writing skills, right? And as for all the cooking I've accomplished this semester instead of studying, well, I'm sure it will be to a good end someday.

Dramatize Commitment to a Task: Do you dramatize commitment to a task rather than actually doing it?

I'm fond of talking about all the stuff I have to do (as demonstrated above), and yet rarely am I really as busy as I construct myself to be. It's unintentional, I mean, in my mind I'm really busy, or should be really busy, I'm sure. And yet I still had time to watch Christmas movies every night last week.

Waste Time Deciding Between Alternative Choices: Do you waste an unnecessary amount of time deciding between alternative choices?

Time AND paper. I make extensive lists of all the things I have to accomplish, followed by detailed schedules of when I will accomplish it all. The great thing is that everyday I feel the need to make a new list. I have stacks of lists of things I have to do. They all say the same things, but I think my brain gets some weird sense of gratification--or accomplishment--by writing what I have to do, as if the act of writing were as good as actually completing the task!

Okay. So clearly I have a problem. Now, I could wrap this whole thing up with some clever (albeit cliche) sentence about how 'I'm going to start overcoming my procrastination problem...tomorrow!' but I'll spare you the eye-roll and I'll spare me the commitment to something that we all know I'm not actually going to do. Because let's be honest: procrastination works for me. In fact, I think I produce my best stuff in the wee hours of the morn. Sick though it is, knowing I only have 5 hours to write a term paper gives me just the right amount of adrenaline to produce the good stuff. Some people like jumping off cliffs. I like writing term papers at 4 am. That's all there is to it.

Procrastinators of the world, I will see you in the library! I'll be the girl playing speed scrabble amidst stacks and stacks of books.