Peanut butter & jelly

I always try to do what makes sense.

Take bread, peanut butter and jelly from the hotel continental breakfast in the morning to have for lunch. (Don’t forget the banana and yogurt.)

10397226_10203581310885364_8723498419017002550_oIf it’s a beautiful day, go outside instead of staying in staring at a rectangle.

Ride your bike to the gym instead of driving. It’s only three miles away.

Getting a master’s in business administration makes sense. Right?

I have seven credits to take before graduation knocks on my door and force-feeds me a diploma. So let’s take a foundations accounting course, get a little math in there, get a taste of what an MBA would be all about. Be one of those few woman CEOs and run an entire company. Make a shitload of money.

…there goes my right brain.

I want to be successful, but maybe there’s another way. Another master’s program to enroll in, another path that is math free and more Emily-esque.

When I hung up from a phone call with the director of the MBA program at my school on Tuesday, I almost cried. Partly because of PMS, but also because I’m scared. College has basically been a walk in the park for me. The mistakes I’ve made have helped me learn and I’ve become a better writer, a better listener and a better intellectual. The idea of buying more textbooks, studying business strategies, solving math problems, stumbling over statistics… well, it scares me. Even though it makes sense. Even though I like the idea of being a boss to many.

For now I’ll save money by making a PB&J sandwich for my lunches with supplies taken from my hotel’s lobby. I’m a “poor” college student who can’t figure out if she wants to pursue what she loves or what makes sense.

Help?

A rainy juxtaposition

Lightning flashes. Rain hits my window, creating rivulets that slide down slow as molasses.

A peek at some raindrops.
A peek at some raindrops.

I’m safe in my room. My hotel room. My own bathroom in the back, my own king-sized bed in the front facing the window. I turn off the TV and my bedside table lamp to make it lighter outside, but sky blue sheer curtains interrupt my view slightly. The air conditioner hums to remind me I can’t open my window to smell the rain.

I’m under the covers, picking at the acne between my eyebrows and trying to string together the web of raindrops on my window to make something work. Anything work.

My parents and brothers have roofs over their heads, even though it isn’t raining where any of them are right now. There’s just one storm cloud over the palace –– yes, palace ––  I call “home.”

I can’t help but think about the man with the sign. He stands at several intersections around here. Yellow light.

Red light.

I have two bicycles, a car and a family that loves me, but no sir, I cannot spare any change.

I’m too busy buying myself smoothies, that extra bicycle, lunch and $100 worth of clothing I don’t even need. I have enough articles of clothing to last me a laundry-less month, for Christ’s sake, not to mention a backup computer just in case the one in my lap fails right now. And then a smartphone when both fail. (They won’t.)

But I won’t even look or read your sign when I pull up right next to you at that red light. There’s a $20 bill in my wallet that I don’t need, but it sure will come in handy when I want an overpriced sandwich later. Or panini. Or salted caramel ice cream from my favorite ice cream shop in town (that I’ve already been to seven times since moving back here five weeks ago). Whatever.

I’ll bop around to Katy Perry’s newest CD on one of the four iPods I own and pretend to be really interested in the license plate on the car in front of me. But I’m not.

My face gets hot, my cheeks turn red. I try to look at you using my peripherals. I want you to notice the rough condition the paint on my car’s hood is in. I want you to know that I have bills to pay, tuition to scramble around for and that I work hard for my money.

I tuck a lock of hair I paid $120 to get cut, colored and styled behind my diamond-earringed ear.

My parents don’t give me money; I provide for myself… but I can’t help but wonder who was supposed to provide for you.

You, bearded, homeless; swallowing enough pride to beg, beg for help. Admitting you need it. Not caring about the judgments and the little redheaded bitch in her Volkswagen Bug who drives by you nearly every. Single. Day.

 

Green light.

I’m safe in my room. My hotel room. My own bathroom in the back, my own king-sized bed in the front facing the window. But I wonder where you are tonight and hope you’re dry. I hope you’re safe. I hope I get the gall to hold out a couple dollars or even a coffee. Get everyone to do it. Start a chain reaction with the BMWs, Cadillacs and Audis around me.

But for now I’m just ashamed of myself. Ashamed of my ignorance. Ashamed because you deserve some respect, just like everyone else.

A worked-up, worrying and whiny wench

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

~Corrie Ten Boom

I should really take Corrie’s advice to heart. She had a lot more to worry about than I do.

Corrie and her family helped hide Jews from Nazis during the Holocaust. I remember watching the biographical movie based on Corrie’s book (“The Hiding Place”) in eighth grade. It mesmerized me. Corrie and her family trudged onward with their mission to help the Jews, despite the risks involved.

At least my life isn’t on the line.

It’s money, okay? I never stop worrying about it, or, rather, the lack of it. I’m up right now – just after 2 a.m. – because I am sick with worry. Writing is therapeutic for me.

College and its financial burden rests on my shoulders. ‘Nough said, right?

It’ll all come together in the end – it always does, somehow – but all I can do now is fret.

Like I said before, at least my life isn’t on the line. And, it could be worse. I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back. Hell…I’m typing on a really really nice computer, for God’s sake (maybe I should sell it…?). Last year I used my birthday and Christmas money to help pay for my education. Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas to me. This year will be a repeat.

Since I rarely spoil myself, I guess it’s good I have a boyfriend who does it for me.

Gosh, I sound like a whiny bitch. I’m sorry. I’m lucky I even have this opportunity to seek a higher education. Not everyone does.

Making a difference

I was recently inducted into my high school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know what a National Honor Society does. All I know is that it’s a group full of the best kids in the school, and our goal is to help people. However, in past years, our NHS hasn’t been helping people or our community. In fact, the people of NHS have barely been doing anything. I’m working on changing that. I’m an aggressive and driven person. I can only hope that my ambitious behavior will inspire my classmates to be the same way.

I’m the person that will volunteer to go first when nobody else raises their hand. I am always the first person to jump into the pool when we swim in gym class, and one time the girls in my class were whining about a band aid that was floating on top of the water. To shut them up, I scooped it up and threw it over the side. Simple as that. I do what nobody else will. That’s just how I am. Here I am again, carrying on with what has become a trend in my life.

I dreamed of doing an NHS garden. I knew right where I wanted to put it and could envision it in my mind when I closed my eyes. The only problem was getting my fellow NHS members to cooperate and also think that it was a good idea. Well, they all agreed with me and wanted to do something with our community for once. One of our advisors was right with me the whole time and supported me as I explained what I wanted to do. Every single hand went up in the room when I asked if anyone was interested in doing this project through NHS. I was beyond pleased.

From there, I contacted a lady I knew could help us plant flowers and offer her expertise on flower gardens. She was all for everything I had to say and even had ideas of her own for us to try out. The only thing I needed to do was find out who owns the land I wanted to plant our garden on. I texted one person, got an answer, called the answer to the question, then when that person didn’t own it anymore, left a message on the answering machine of the lady that currently owns it. The next morning, I got a text message from the lady whose answering machine I had left a message on. She wanted to meet with me that day at 5:00 (and thus begins what I referred to in my last post as a “hellish week”). So, that day I stayed after for tryouts for our annual G-Town Showdown (more on that later) and then skipped practice to take care of some things.

I made it to the bank in the nick of time and cashed my check, then paid a friend I owed money to in relation to prom, and then chatted with her for awhile. I talked to Robby’s mom and dad, bought Robby the Luden’s cough drops we both devour constantly and then took off to chat with my editor about a position on the payroll. When that was deemed impossible, we sat and chatted for awhile. We talked about everything. I barely know her as a person; I just know her as my boss. It was nice to sit down and have a normal conversation and discover that a lot of our opinions are very similar.

At quarter to five o’clock, I walked over to where I was to meet the lady. I sat down on the bench sitting in front of the patch of grass I want to plant our garden in and waited for her to arrive at her photo studio. When she did, we exchanged friendly hellos and then set about the task we had before us. We discussed what I had planned for the land she owned ride next to her studio. After I explained everything, she approved it and said we had creative freedom to do whatever we, NHS, want. It was like a personal victory for me. At that moment I realized that one person COULD make a difference.

Since then, I have been riding on a cloud, dreaming about that garden. In fifty years, when I come back and visit good ol’ Gowanda, I’m expecting that garden to still be there, with current NHS members still feeding it and giving it the nutrients it needs. I want this to be something that kids in National Honor Society can take care of every year.

Already, in one week of trying to get this project up and running, my ideas of earned us $122 toward the garden. I organized a “Wear Jeans Day” for the teachers at my school, and they donated money to our garden to pay for the fact that they were wearing jeans on Friday. $122 may not sound like much, but it’s more than half of what NHS had in its account to begin with. I’d say that’s a pretty big step toward making my dream come true. I hope that once we really start getting dirty in that garden that my fellow NHS members feel as passionate about this as I do.

I want us to do something we can be proud of. I want to do something for our community. One person CAN make a difference. I’m proof of that.

For everything there is a season

It was like greeting an old friend as soon as my feet found the pavement. The snow had melted just enough and the air seemed balmy in all its glory of forty degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve always found it amazing just how different forty degrees can be, depending on the perspective you’re taking. When the seasons change from summer to fall, 40 degrees seems like the coldest temperature on earth. But, when the winter chill backs off a bit and lets in some of that 40-degree air, it’s as if spring has come early. It’s the same temperature and yet, it’s different.

I had considered making up a quick playlist of songs I could listen to while I ran, but I opted to leave my iPods at home, instead. The birds sang as I left the cul-de-sac I have lived on my whole life and let my legs carry me out to the main road and down the hill. I was surprised at how good I felt and let that carry me through the pain as muscles were put back into use after remaining dormant for nearly two months. The pain gave me something to think about and something to distract me from the mountain of homework I had to do and the hardships I had been dealing with on a regular basis.

When I was running, I didn’t have to feel anything but the pain from the exertion I was putting my body through. When I thought about it hard enough, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, but if I just let my mind wander and let my legs do my thinking for me, nothing really mattered. I ran by a business that owes my dad money and considered trashing it. But, I didn’t. I kept running and made my way toward the hill that stood menacingly in the not-so-distant distance.

My energy deteriorated once I reached the top, but I kept on running. I reached my halfway mark and kept going. I thought about how natural it is for me to run and how effortless it can be once I am in good shape to do it. I thought about the summer and how the three of us took part of this same route in an effort to be in shape for cross-country season. I thought about how fast the time goes and how it doesn’t make sense to try and cherish every moment. If you’re too busy cherishing, you’re not living. You’re just trying to keep it in your memory forever. A memory should be something you remember effortlessly, not something you save onto the desktop in your brain so you can click on it and wait for it to load.

I decided against taking a shortcut and instead went the whole way around and back to my street. I took a left, ran down to the green Pennysaver box and then took a right, thinking in my head about that last 200m that I face with every race I run on the track. I ran halfway up my slushy driveway and then bent over to catch my breath. I always do this, and then I bend my knees carefully before reaching my full height (5’2″ if you were wondering) and then walking around a little bit, my hands over my head.

I entered through the side garage door, made my way through the traffic blocking my way to the house door (sleds, snowshoes, etc) and shed my running sneakers (New Balance this year – a brand I never really gave a chance until over the summer), grabbed my already-full glass of water off of our butcher block-esque island and downed it in a second.

My ears stung from the cold and my breathing was wheezy with each inhale and exhale I made.

“How’d you feel?” my dad asked.

“All right,” I replied. “I started out too fast and was dead by the end, but it felt good to run. I’m gonna go lay down now.”

I entered the family room and plopped onto our brand-new couch to catch my wheezy breaths. After thirty minutes passed without my daddy turning on the TV, I went upstairs and grabbed The Lovely Bones and continued reading from where I had left off right before daddy had picked me up at the school just barely an hour previously. We sat there, father and daughter, reading our books of choice: his a Yankee book that someone had gotten him and mine a novel that had been made into yet another movie based off of a book. He wore one of his many pairs of $0.99 reading glasses and I wore the sweat and dirt of a girl who had almost made it through one of the toughest weeks of her sixteen years of living, and was coming out on the other side unscathed and perfectly fine.

At 4 o’clock, I tossed my book down and ran the shower upstairs in the bathroom that all of my brothers had vacated and bestowed unto me (we painted it a light brown and pretty light blue and got rid of the old Mickey Mouse theme that had previously reigned).

Before shedding my clothing, I focused on the length of my hair in the mirror. Back in ninth grade, it was a shock of bright-red curls. Now, it’s back to its normal color (brown/blond/red depending on the season and amount of sun received), though the curls have been kept (I have not dyed my hair since November 2008). I’ve decided that I want it to be long for when I take my senior pictures. I thought to myself Oh yeah, it will be long enough by the summer after this one!

And then it hit me.

I will be taking my senior pictures this summer. It’s crazy just how much time flies and how one change in your thoughts can create a chain-reaction of changes throughout your entire mind. At the moment, I am halfway through my junior year of high school. In June, I will sing in the Chamber Choir and watch some of my best friends ever don those white and blue robes and graduate from our little sliver of the universe and move on to bigger (and better) things. This hit me hard because I realized that I haven’t exactly enjoyed my high school experience that much. In recent months, Misery had taken over my entire being and forced me to look at everything pessimistically. But now, happy little Emily is back, and she plans on staying happy and little until she is forced to grow up in a year and a half.

They Say

Many books that I have read portray people that are known widely to be “popular.” Everyone in these books knows who the popular people are, and they desire to be just like them. A path is cleared for these kings and queens, and the ground kissed after their feet have deserted it. Supposedly every High School has its own popularity scale. The less popular you are, the more likely you are to be unsuccessful in life beyond the hell that is High School. Well, the authors of these books must not know about my little High School that is nestled between the hills.

At my school, popularity is a joke – or at least – I think that it is. Honestly, the “popular” people are only popular to themselves. They all think that they are on top of the world just because they wear nothing but Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister. Now, I do not know about you, but I choose NOT to wear the crap that is name-brand clothing. No, instead I shop at less-popular stores and pick out whatever the heck I like without worrying about meeting the approval of others.

You are only popular if you wear the right clothing. One day (as a joke, I assure you) I went to a friend’s house before school and she dressed me up in the most heinously name-brand outfit. A white Abercrombie & Fitch miniskirt, a pale blue A&F lacey tank top, and a white skin-tight A&F hoodie. Every piece of clothing I was wearing was branded with a moose – the symbol of “popularity.” You would have thought that I was wearing some kind of ridiculous costume of some kind that was the source to the many stares I received that day. I tested my hypothesis, and my educated guess was proven as a fact.

My friends and I make fun of the little girls that we see entering Hollister and American Eagle for we know that they are looking for the approval of others by shopping there. The secret to fitting in and living large during your four long years of High School is about to be revealed: spend all of your money on ridiculously priced see-through shirts and forty dollar flip flops. I guarantee that you will fit in. Or, you could be like me and my friends. Wear whatever the heck you like and do not give a crap about what other people think of you. The authors of many of the books I have read these days (for example: The Clique series by Lisi Harrison) make it seem like you are not cool if you do not wear what everyone else does. Honestly, just be yourself. And if being yourself coincides with being one of those name-brand clones, so be it. You may think that you are being yourself, but my friends and I will think that you are just trying to be like everyone else.