Focusing on the Big Picture

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Dear P,

I miss you so much! I am so looking forward to our road trip and summer quests.

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In the words of the great Willie Nelson, I can’t wait to get on the road again.

My free time this semester has been divided into two extra learning experiences, as you know. One is an EMT-basic certification class and the other is the UT Undergraduate Writing Center internship. These are two very different skills, but I have been surprised by how much they have in common.

Both have routines meant to ward off critical mistakes. Both focus on making sure you, the helper, are “safe” first. In an emergency situation, an EMT is not supposed to enter the scene if anything looks unsafe, even if she can see an ailing patient. We learned what meth labs look like this week so that we will be able to avoid them. If a writer makes a consultant feel uncomfortable, the consultant is expected to ask for a replacement at the front desk.

Most of all, I appreciate how both EMT school and the writing center curriculum teach you to approach what’s really wrong first, and then focus on the details. Grammar doesn’t matter if the ideas in your essay don’t make any sense. Splinting a broken wrist won’t help if a patient’s lungs are collapsing. It is easier to notice minor injuries as the sufferer. If your finger has been sliced open, you will be able to see and feel it. However, a lacerated finger isn’t going to kill you. More serious injuries (heart attacks, strokes, diabetic emergencies) may hurt, but not always in a way that is easily recognizable. That is why patients/writers need EMTs/writing consultants to help them reflect over what is a big issue and which is a small issue. None of us have unlimited time. We have to pick which problems to focus on.

When I have a problem in my life, I often find myself obsessively cleaning my room. This has yet to help me solve any real problems in my life, but I feel that if I could just get this floor clean things would be all right. This is like fixing grammar in an essay that lacks a thesis: an utter waste of time. I am beginning to recognize that when I act like this I need help to realize what is actually wrong. I turn to my own personal consultants, my mom (mainly), you, my dear IM (who hopefully will come back to Texas eventually), and other trusted loved ones to help me prioritize my problems. Only then can I stop being a myopic idiot and actually improve my life.

Who are your main consultants, P? Do you compulsively clean when you know you know something big is going wrong? Just kidding, I know you hate cleaning.

Much love and no clorox,

E

Living Uncomfortably and Trying to Feel Comfortable About It

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin (February 12, 1809–April 19, 1882) in The Descent of Man

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(Pic of us by our friend N. Check out more of his stuff here.)

Dear P,

I am currently reading a book about Abraham Lincoln. It is called Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and it is about how Abraham Lincoln mustered together all of his political rivals into a team. The reason everyone respects Abe so much today is because in the midst of the greatest conflict our country has ever faced he “refused to be provoked by petty grievances, to submit to jealousy, or to brood over perceived slights” (Goodwin). He listened to everyone, even people he didn’t like when they were passionately disagreeing with him.

This is unlike the elderly man I just observed in Starbucks for an hour. He kept talking to the young guy beside him. At first, I thought they were working together, but it quickly became apparent that they had never met before. The old man kept telling his young friend stories of his own brilliance. He told him how he had taken apart his father’s lawn mower when he was six and put it back together again. He talked about how he commented on his Facebook friend’s pictures if he thought they were inappropriate. He was insufferable and didn’t stop even when the (very patient) younger man told him that he had a test the next day. This man was so self-assured that he had lost his ability to listen to things he did not want to hear, or even consider there were things he did not know.

Abraham Lincoln was not so self-assured. He was wracked with uncertainty, grief, even, some historians argue, depression. This suffering was displayed masterfully in the movie “Lincoln”, which I highly recommend. Lincoln is not the only example of a great thinker who was forced to live closely with the uncertainty of the future. Darwin doubted his own work so much it took him twenty years, and the presence of a usurper to his theory, before he published. If you ever choose to read On the Origin of the Species, it is better to only read the first four chapters. After that, Darwin waffles and defends himself in example after example. He was not certain anyone would accept his theory.

No one can be certain of anything. Last week, I was reading the book The Science Writers’ Handbook. I was reading about how to pitch a story and I felt overwhelmed with the weight of uncertainty. What if my pitches didn’t work, not just in this field, but in every aspect of my life? What if I proved universally unmarketable? I started crying and called my mom. My mom is a wise woman, but she had nothing comforting to say. There is nothing to say. Life is uncertain.

It is intensely uncomfortable to live with this knowledge. It is nearly as uncomfortable as living with the only certainty-that all my friends, family, and eventually you, P, and I will die. However, it is only but constantly reminding myself of this uncertainty (and the certainty) that can internalize that I am not undefeatable, that it is important that I listen to others, that I must strive to be better every day. Because of the uncertainty, I appreciate every blessing I am given. In the age of positive thinking, it is important to consider this uncomfortable truth. The uncertainty of life helps me to live better, even if it is sometimes overwhelming.

Love,

E

Vulnerability in Frozen and My Life

“Life is going to present to you a series of transformations. And the point of education should be to transform you. To teach you how to be transformed so you can ride the waves as they come. But today, the point of education is not education. It’s accreditation. The more accreditation you have, the more money you make. That’s the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. And this instrumental logic comes wrapped in an envelope of fear. And my Ivy League, my MIT students are the same. All I feel coming off of my students is fear. That if you slip up in school, if you get one bad grade, if you make one fucking mistake, the great train of wealth will leave you behind. And that’s the logic of accreditation. If you’re at Yale, you’re in the smartest 1% in the world. […] And the brightest students in the world are learning in fear. I feel it rolling off of you in waves. But you can’t learn when you’re afraid. You cannot be transformed when you are afraid.” Junot Díaz, speaking at Yale

Dear P,

I’m sorry about your computer troubles. I hope you can get everything up and running again soon. Also, I hope everyone reading this is safe and warm.

I spent May of 2013 at my aunt’s house in Georgia. I lived in the basement and spent a lot of time reading Murakami and Ian McEwan, listening to Joni Mitchell’s album “Blue” and hanging out with my two-and-four-year-old cousins.

That month I dealt with a lot of shame. I made awful grades my freshman year of college. I was in this program where I could have been pre-accepted to either of two Texas medical schools, but because of my grades neither let me in. I knew my GPA was below my honor program’s standards and wondered when I would get the email that I was kicked out. I had enormous opportunities offered to me and I wasted them. I felt like I had managed to mess up my entire future in my first semester of college and that the repercussions of my failures would soon set in.

I felt the same way Elsa feels in the beginning of Frozen after she curses her sister. She feels the shame of hurting Anna and the fear of what will happen if Anna and the rest of the world find out about it. Elsa worries that something crazy-awful will happen to Anna’s brain if she learns her secret because the troll-magician told her Anna shouldn’t know about any sort of magic.

Back to my aunt’s house, where I was listening to Joni Mitchell and awaiting my impending doom, too scared to talk to anyone except my mom and eventually my aunt about my situation. The storm never came. It stunned me to realize that, though I had made bad grades, life continued. I had one beautiful day after another. Life didn’t suddenly lose all of its precious moments: I continued reading and playing and working on weird projects (I was trying to come up with the solution to Australia’s cane toad infestation). In other words, I didn’t lose E when I lost her impeccable GPA. I didn’t feel dumber and the word “failure” didn’t brand itself on my forehead. I will always be me, always be resourceful, even if it took me a little while to learn how to make A’s in college.

My shame was blocking me from doing better. During my freshman year, I was embarrassed to talk to professors and ashamed to ask my friends for advice. I felt like the grades gave me a shroud of stupidity that kept everyone from respecting me and my ideas.

My transformation from scared girl to fearless diva has taken a lot longer than Elsa’s. I still make decisions out of fear some days. Grades are powerful. They have bolstered us up for our entire sentient lives. What happens when they no longer back us up, whispering yes, this opportunity is yours, you earned it, you’re smart, you work hard, your ideas are valid?

Only you hold the answer to that question. Rip off the band-aid, pick off the scab, let as many people as possible know about it. It’s the only way people can help you and, more importantly, honesty is the only way to help yourself. Grades are not mysterious, undeniable measures of self-worth. You can easily improve them, and I have.

My mom asked me today if I knew who Brené Brown is and I said, “Yeah. She’s the anti-shame vulnerability lady.” It clicked to me that shame is what I have slowly been shedding since May, shame is what was holding me back, and shame is why I identified so deeply with Elsa. I no longer learn for the grades and I no longer write for the accolades, and because of that I am free from the fear of not reaching them and the shame of not having them.

Since I read your post about choosing one word to think about this year instead of resolutions, I’ve been considering what word I want to base my life around this year. I chose the word “brave” today. I want to move beyond the fear of failure, the fear of feeling like I’ve disappointed the people I love, and the fear of traveling to unknown places. I want to live my life so mindfully I have no mental room for fear. When I feel fear and shame I want to tell people so they can help me, love me, give me advice and know that I have failed.

Bad things happen and life usually turns out okay. Some of it doesn’t. My mom, after she asked me about Brené Brown, told me that her friend was taking a course based on Brown’s teachings. My mom’s friend has experienced a devastating amount of tragedy in her life. Such sadness put my problems in perspective and reminds me of a quote from Dear Sugar:

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

So unclench your shoulders. Take a deep breath. Say some prayers for people you love. Create something, like Elsa created her magnificent ice castle. You can fail miserably and still have a brilliant life. In fact, you can’t not fail miserably and have a brilliant life. Shed the fear and enjoy yourself. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

Yours,

E

50 Unconventional New Year’s Resolution Ideas

Dear P,

We’ve never been the kind of people who are into normal New Year’s Resolutions like “Lose ten pounds” or  “Quit smoking”. Therefore, I’ve made a list of more interesting resolution inspiration. I’ve put stars by the resolutions that are particularly for me.

1. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro*

2. Adopt a candy-free diet. Sugar is my addiction and it makes me feel as burned-out as a hard drug.*

3. No E! shows or magazines that revolve around judging people.

4. Do 3 nice things for people every day*

5. Keep a logbook. I made mine out of an animal book I got for two dollars at goodwill.*

6. Make every present you give this year.*

7. Wake up at 5 or 6 AM and go to sleep at 9 or 10 PM. See James Altucher’s Daily Practice, as well as this article about how waking up earlier increases creativity and productivity. *

8. Run a marathon on Valentine’s weekend* (hint- there’s one in Austin)

9. Visit at least one continent you haven’t before*

10. Create something every day. Write a poem. Make a watercolor painting. Bake a cake.*

11. Go on a road trip. Make a perfect playlist and read Jack Kerouac while you’re at it.*

12. Have at least 3 positive, meaningful interactions with people every day. At the end of the day, do Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity meditation, in which you send three nice wishes to as many people as you like. Example: “May P be healthy, May P be happy, May P be safe.”*

13. Kiss at least three non-humans. Last year, I kissed a snake, a frog, and a puppy.

14. Eat an apple a day. I don’t know if it keeps the doctor away, but it can’t hurt.

15. Take a picture of one thing every day of the year. I don’t have any suggestions of what to do with all the pictures at the end of the year, but you can probably think of something.

16. Learn or practice a new language*

17. Learn to code

18. Give away all the clothes you don’t like but have kept for whatever reason. Life is too short.

19. Have at least one magnificent, all-stops-pulled party.*

20. Make a playlist for each month, then try not to listen to those songs again for awhile. Musical memories are powerful.*

21. Don’t lie. It eats you from the inside.*

22. Start conversations with strangers. You never know where they may take you.

23. Have at least ten new ideas every day (again, thanks Altucher)*

24. Don’t buy clothes from the mall.*

25. Volunteer at least an hour a week. More if you can spare the time. If you don’t know how to get started, check out this awesome website.*

26. Make sure to see both old people and young people at least once a month. It can be isolating while in college to only see 20-year-olds. Diversity is important to keep perspective.*

27. Use all the gift cards people get you. This is the only exception to Rule 24.*

28. Get your eyebrows done regularly. I get mine done once a year, they look amazing, I vow to get them done more often, and then I forget about it. Brows make such a difference in the way you look, especially if you have bushman eyebrows like me.*

29. Write thank you notes for all gifts, material and otherwise.*

30. Go to office hours, and not only professor’s. I was inspired when my uncle got a lot of famous people to write letters to his son when the son got an eagle scout. He did this by simply emailing them.*

31. Eat big breakfasts (thanks, Ben Franklin)*

32. Eat things off the floor if you drop them. It’s good for your immune system.*

33. Spend more time naked. Benjamin Franklin recommended taking dry baths, or laying on the ground naked. I think this is brilliant and, as Americans, we should all learn to embrace nudity a little more.

34. Don’t watch the news.

35. Edit wikipedia articles in subjects you are knowledgeable about. Answer Yahoo answer questions. Translate wikipedia articles on Duolingo. In other words, give back on the Internet.*

36. Save someone’s life this year. I am getting my EMT certification, but if you don’t have the time for that, get your CPR certification. It takes about three hours and is worth it if you are confident you could someone’s life.*

37. Do all of these 50 date ideas with your significant other, or come up with your own.

38. Sing in the shower. Bring rubber duckies and chocolate-scented soap in while you’re at it.

39. Jump in every puddle you see, all year. This challenge is a lot easier if you live in our dry hometown.

40. Take more selfies.

41. Check your email once a day, or set it on your phone and only check it when it dings.

42. Use candles.*

43. When you are upset about something, talk to someone about it. However, if you talk to more than three people about your problem, you are just looking for attention. *

44. When you hear someone speak, work to come up with at least one meaningful question to ask them. This works to keep you engaged and keep the conversation moving.*

45. Build a treehouse. Build a fort. Build a firepit.

46. Write a manifesto.

47. Delete candy crush, Facebook and fruit ninja from your phone.

48. Drink more water. Just do it. You are made of water. Consider any water you drink an addition to your soul.*

49. Do stretches before you go to sleep. I’ve been doing this for a long time to combat my natural muscle-tighness. It hasn’t gotten me to the realm of normal flexibility but it has helped me get a lot better than I was.

50. Stretch yourself. January 1st is not the only time you should be creating goals. I create mine by the week, month, and day. Avoid the Okay Plateau by constantly pushing yourself to be better. It’s so easy to fall into stagnation.

Love,

E

Good Morning, P! A catch-all post

Hey P!

It’s five o’clock in the morning here in the beautiful Austin, Texas. I feel honored to be part of the procession of early store workers, still-costumed party-goers, and Austin’s homeless population that are dragging themselves up the drag on this still autumn morning.

Here are a couple of updates about my life:
Last weekend, I went on a mini-roadtrip to the state fair with I and her roommate J. I can’t exaggerate the perfection of this day. We stopped and got kolaches on the way there at a place called the “Little Czech Bakery”, which I urge everyone to czech out (hehe) if they’re ever making the trek from Austin to Dallas.

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On Thursday, A squared, S, C and I signed the lease for an apartment next fall semester. I have never felt so much like an adult in my life. I can’t wait to live with my best friends in an apartment in my favorite city in the world. Basically, all my dreams came true.

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James Altucher started following me on twitter. It’s an auspicious beginning for my baby twitter account. A lots of cool new brain & psychology research has come out this last week: click here to read the similarities in the way the brain processes music and poetry, and here if you have ever doubted the importance of sleep. On my birthday, I ordered Nylon magazine for myself, and I got my first issue last week. You have been getting it for years, so you know this, but I was shocked to learn that it was so inexpensive. We should all take advantage of the magazine industry folding (I am rocking the puns so hard this morning). Besides Nylon, which I like to cut up and put in my art journal:

(Here’s a couple recent pages)

I recommend Wired and Smithsonian. One of my favorite ever TAs, Joe Hanson, now works for Wired. Here‘s his website, where you can links to his PBS show, “It’s Okay to Be Smart”. If you are still wanting for internet fodder, Gala Darling put out her October Carouselthis article is a good summary of everything James Altucher has ever written, and Maria Popova wrote this article in honor of Brain Picking’s 7th anniversary. If you are looking for a good during-school book, read Maximize Your Potential. It’s a series of essays by successful entrepreneurs. It’s easy to read and will keep you inspired.

I hope your tests went well this week. I miss your smiling face so much.

Loads of love,

E

Beyond Lions, Tigers, and Bears

All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.
-Sally Ride 

Dear P,

Last night, I had a dream that Voldemort got his body back and I had to go into hiding with my baby cousins Z, G (shown above), and B. I was relieved to wake up and find out that I was not under any immediate threat from the dark lord. This just shows how very unimaginative my post-slumer brain can be, because even if Voldemort did exist, he would be only a small worry in this terrifying world.

There are certain things everyone knows to be afraid of. Terrorism. Plane crashes. Chemical warfare. That the internet will eventually kill our ability to communicate with other people and make everyone depressed.

For the imaginatively neurotic among us, myself included, these niggling fears are only the tip of the iceberg, much like the crust of ice that covers Mount Ranier. The U.S. Geological Survey calls this the United State’s most dangerous volcano, since it sits right over Seattle. The ice would cause the volcano to form “lahars” if it erupts. A lahar is a toxic solution of mud and lava that can spread for miles when the volcano erupts. Basically, remind me to never visit our friend K or the rest of the northwest.

I am sensitive to the dangers of volcanos because I remember when the 2010 volcano erupted over Iceland and prevented most of my friends from coming back to school. Volcanic ash causes jet engines to fail. This is only the most remote, but still terrifying, risk that you could encounter during air travel. Do you know the reason the flight attendants say to “attach your own oxygen mask before assisting the person next to you”? You have roughly fifteen seconds after the oxygen masks fall before you drift into a dreamless sleep and into death’s hazy plateau. That’s the way Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the “Big Bopper” guy went on February 3, 1959, the “Day the Music Died.” Bye, bye, Miss American Pie. Of course, these are only small risks each individual takes for the chance to explore the world. The scariest aspect of air travel is how quickly we can spread diseases around the entire planet. Due to the prevalence of antibiotics and the high densities of urban populations, diseases are primed to evolve to become as virulent as possible. It’s only a matter of time before one of these knock us off the face of the planet.

Who even says the planet is going to last that long, anyway? Asteroids, plate tectonics and global warming all pose a threat to the Earth as we know it. Our paranoia could expand even from there: the Great Glaciation theory is that our universe will eventually expand beyond it’s energy capacity, slow down, and stop.

Sweet dreams,

E

I Have a Hoarding Problem

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(These plants from the botanical gardens this morning really weren’t that remarkable. Why did I take this picture?)

Dear P,

I’m sitting on my aunt’s back porch, munching on my third box of Kirkland’s Winter Roasted Seaweed today and reading Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore”. I just put my cousin down for his nap and the Georgia sunshine is perfection. In other words, I’ve reached a peaceful point in my existence, an excellent point from which to examine my many character flaws.

One particular problem has been bothering me lately. Since I have been using the app Snapchat, it has become clear to me that I am a picture hoarder. I have become an expert in taking a screenshot in the two-second window the average snapchat provides. It causes me an untold amount of anxiety that, if I did not archive it, the picture would drift onward into the great beyond, leaving that precious moment of my friend’s existence un-remembered.

It’s a short jump to the realization that I have a similar compulsion to record my own life. With my iPhone camera so easily available, I can snap a picture of every precious moment. Right now, I have 2,154 pictures on my phone. When will I have the time or desire to look through and savor each of these 2,154 individual moments?

Never.

My iPhone album is only the beginning. We share a tumblr. You hardly ever like things, so I know I am responsible for the 9,684 liked posts from over the course of this year. I feel a little ill admitting this to myself. I have wasted enough time on tumblr to like nearly ten thousand posts. The only reason I like things is because, at some point, I have a vague plan to go back and re-laugh, re-exclaim, re-enjoy the post. I have no inclination to go back and look at the pictures on my iPhone. I have even less inclination to go back and look at pieces of the Internet I have already wasted time looking at. The hoarding goes on. I have 843 items in my catch-all “Awesome Pictures” folder. I have 590 items in my “Favorite Quotes” folder.

Why do I have this compulsion to document, to archive, to unceasingly record for my future self? My future self doesn’t have time for this nonsense. Do I subconsciously believe that, by documenting every single second of my life, I can stop time from passing? That I can deny my own mortality?

I don’t have a solution to this problem, so I will continue to photograph, journal, blog and “like”. I will try to live in the moment but probably wish the moment would expand so that I could relish it indefinitely. But time doesn’t work like that.

Yours truly,

E

P. S.- I’m so glad you put up the Jacqueline Kennedy- P flashin’ fashion. It’s one of my favorites. I also hope that the finals fairies sprinkle fairly dust all over your brain. It’s only a month before the best weekend of your life- when you will come see me and we will have your nineteen-and-one-month birthday and everything will be merry and nothing will be sad or stressful.

Making Mondays Sunny

P’s Quote

“The world will knock you down plenty. You don’t need to be doing it to yourself.” -Elizabeth Scott

Things I Love This Week

For some reason I’m having trouble thinking of the things I love this week, so I guess I’ll revert back to the things I always love in life

My family, texts from my little brothers, my best friend E, sleeping, being alone, going to the library (the Boston Public Library is absolutely beautiful), texting C all the time, yoga, free smoothies, how helpful people are here all the time, the flavor pineapple surf, and the fact that summer is almost here and school is almost freaking over, and the thought of being back home in t minus 3 weeks

Things to Make This Week Sunnier

study really really freaking hard

eat some froyo

work out as much as I did last week (I really went at it)

study some more

go to the movie theater

hang out with people I don’t usually hang out with

study study study

My birthday is coming up soon! At this current point in time I can’t say that I’m really excited for it. I’m not really looking forward to it and it’s my first birthday away from home, which is sad. It’s also on Wednesday, which is humpday, making it exponentially lamer. I guess 19 isn’t really a big one, except for that you know it’s your last year of teenagedom, which is both exhilarating and sad.

Here’s for hoping that next week is a good one.

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Surgeries in the OR

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Pics from Macklemore with K and A.

Much love,

P

Sorry, P! I got so sucked into studying yesterday that I completely forgot MMS!

E’s Quote

“What a joy it must be to be a truly great writer, even if it means a shotgun at the finish”
-Charles Bukowski
I’m sorry this is a depressing quote. I don’t believe you have to be suicidal to be a truly great writer, but lately I have been investigating the ties between mental illness and creativity. I think Bukowski sums this correlation up with his usual grit.

Things I Loved This Week

The weather in Austin. I can’t imagine anything more perfect.

Eating Indian food on top of a hill Saturday night.

My dorm had a festival Saturday. It involved a lot of bouncy contraptions, bubbles, ice cream and a climbing wall.

Making pumpkin muffins with A squared while watching “The Lion King 2”

The hunt for the perfect overalls with I. I still haven’t found them yet.

Eeyore’s Birthday.

Getting glamorous Friday night. Then traipsing home early enough to indulge in a music-sharing and freestyle fest.

Snapchats. Snapchats. Snapchats.

Quizlets, Koofers, and chai tea lattes: the three ingredients to actually studying.

I’ve just been feeling a lot of love this week, you know? I’m so grateful to have you and T and A and I. It makes me tear up to think of how lucky I am.

I wrote James Atrucher and JAMES ALTRUCHER WROTE ME BACK. It was the most exciting thing ever. We’re basically best friends now.

Things to Make Me Happy This Week:

Ace my finals

Keep following Altrucher’s “Daily Practice” (laminated for me by I’s mom)

Sending you lots of love, P! Keep on keeping on, and you’ll be home in Texas soon!

E

#BostonStrong

Dear E,

This week has been a hellish week.

On Monday it was the Boston Marathon. My friends and I woke up early in the morning to a day of perfect weather and tons of potential. We walked across the bridge to Boston and towards our sorority house, which is about mile 22 of the marathon. There we watched some of the most elite runners in the world run by us. We then went to UBurger where we chowed down on some delicious food and then we headed towards the Prudential Center, which is right next to the end of the finish line. On the way we stopped at a frat, where a couple of our friends live. The boys were playing cornhole and grilling and everyone was just hanging out and drinking and eating and laughing and chatting. We stood at mile 26 for a solid hour. We were at a corner so we would see masses of runners, running by.

It was CRAZY. The energy was incredible E. It was amazing. I saw all those runners going by and the tens of thousands of people cheering for complete strangers and it just made my heart so, so happy. We were standing at mile 26, but it seemed like we were standing at mile 1. The runners were flying by like it was nothing. I remember saying something like, “All 27,000 of these people are my heroes.” And they are. I think thats the thing about marathons. Here are these every day normal kind of people. They’re our friends and our neighbors and sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers and they’re running fucking 26.2 miles. At one point we tried to go to the finish line by following the marathon trail but it was way too crowded. The streets were literally packed and we couldn’t even move. So we headed back to a frat house an chilled there for awhile and watched the marathon and chatted.

After a while, my roomie K and I as well as two more of our friends decided that we were going to get to the finish line even if it took us forever because we were determined to see all the faces of the runners at the end. Because we live in Boston we kind of know the ins and outs of the city so we took a detour of sorts and ended up walking down Boylston street and towards the finish line. There were SO MANY PEOPLE, E, it was crazy. Here are some pictures from the day.

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The end of the flags is where the finish line is.

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This is mile 26.

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This is on Boylston street. You can see how packed it is.

All I can say from here is that I am so glad that we left when we did. About 20-30 minutes after we left the finish line, the bombs went off. My friends felt and heard the explosion and there was mass panic and confusion and chaos. Three people were killed and 60-70 people were injured. This is so saddening and heartbreaking and tragic, but in all the midst of the chaos has arisen a huge sense of community from Boston. I’ve gotten so many calls and texts and emails and Facebook messages from everyone back home asking if I’m okay.

Throughout this time this quote has popped up a lot and I love it. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news my mom would always say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’  To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mothers words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.” And man, were there helpers. People ran toward the explosion to help the wounded. Runners handed each other jackets, photographers walked through blood while holding back their own tears to capture the moment, and people performed CPR at the risk of being bombed again. Police officers and doctors and medics swarmed the scene of the crime. Marathon runners finished the marathon and then ran an extra two miles straight to Mass General Hospital to donate blood. People created google docs so loved ones could find one another. And that’s what my city is E. That’s who we are.

Here’s a link to what Stephen Colbert had to say about it….it’s pretty funny.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/425527/april-16-2013/intro—4-16-13

“But here’s what these cowards really don’t get,” Colbert said. “They attacked the Boston Marathon, an event celebrating people who run 26 miles on their day off until their nipples are raw for fun. … When those bombs went off, there were runners who, after finishing a marathon, kept running for another two miles to the hospital to donate blood. So here’s what I know: these maniacs may have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are.”

There were statuses posted everywhere like this

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Tuesday was a day of reflection and worry. Everyone making sure everyone was okay and trying to figure out who did this and what was going on.

Thursday I had two tests, so I basically spent ALL of Wednesday and Thursday studying as much as possible. Thursday night I finished my last test at about 9:30 and I walked back from the Stata Center by myself. My friends and I were glad that our hellish week was just OVER so we decided we were going to go out. Literally RIGHT as we are walking out of the door of our dorm we get an email saying to stay away from Stata Center because there’s been a shooting. So of course we are all freaking out. Another disaster? In the same week? We didn’t know if the bombing and the shootings were connected. We wake up the next day and school has been cancelled because the entire city of Boston was on lockdown. My friends and I spent a good chunk of yesterday listening to the news and tweeting/facebooking, etc. I got so many calls and texts and facebook messages again, and I feel so lucky to have such caring amazing friends and family.

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Unfortunately at the shooting an MIT police officer was killed. We hope that rests in peace and we all know we owe our safety to him. He and his family will be in our thoughts.

The entire city was put on lock down so that the police could find the other bomber. It looked like this:

http://www.businessinsider.com/eerie-photos-of-boston-looking-like-a-ghost-town-2013-4

There were tweets like this:

“Boston is probably the only major city that if you fuck with them, they will shut the entire city down…strop everything…and FIND YOU.” -happygilmore

Articles like this:

http://labs.huffingtonpost.com/highlights/quote/8322586/

” I started to notice the men and woman, civilians mostly, tearing down that fence and barrier with their bare hands as they, without hesitation, ran toward the area where those bombs went off. Toward the area. Not away. Toward the wounded, tearing their own clothes to make tourniquets, soaking their own pant legs in the blood flowing down the streets and mixing with the blood of our Revolutionary ancestors, not turning away from death. Their instincts were to save their fellow humans.”

“There are only a few other places on earth that I would expect to see these acts of bravery, like I saw on Monday. New York City, you will always be in my heart, but Boston, I have your back. Thanks for having mine. This week, you showed me what it means to love your city, love your people, love your heritage and above all, what it means to be human first, Bostonian second, American third.”

or this article

http://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/jim-dowd-responds-to-the-attack-on-the-boston-marathon/

“This place will kick the screaming piss out of you, come up with a cure for having the screaming piss kicked out of you, give it to you for free, then win a Nobel prize for it and then use the medallion to break your knuckles. See what I’m talking about?”

They found him E.

They got him.

The city is no longer on lockdown.

Last night thousands of people gathered in Boston Commons to celebrate. People were singing the national anthem and chanting bostonstrong, USA, and BPD.

I’ll close with this video from Obama.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-every-one-of-us-stands-with-you/2013/04/18/62d669b6-a838-11e2-8302-3c7e0ea97057_video.html

“We finish the race, and we do that because of who we are, and we do that because we know that somewhere around the bend, a stranger has a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody’s there to boost our spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall. We know that. We know that.”

Proud to be a Bostonian and proud to call Boston and MIT my home away from home,

-P

Making Mondays Sunny

P’s Quote

“He wanted all to lie in an ecstasy of peace; I wanted all to sparkle and dance in a glorious jubilee. I said his heaven would only be half alive; and he said mine would be drunk: I said I should fall asleep in his; and he said he could not breathe in mine.” -Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Things I’m grateful for this week:

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Things I Love This Week:

my little brothers, how freaking awesome my little brothers are, how everything is hilarious at 5 am, my new Chanel lipgloss named Fatale because it makes me feel like I have killer lips, the feeling of flying back home, Sunday morning breakfasts, devouring books like there is no tomorrow, yogurt with granola, my mom’s cooking, laughing until I’m literally crying or rolling on the ground trying to breathe, this dear old town in Texas, finishing my pistol class and being a sharp shooter, catching up with friends over chocolate and Max Brenners, being able to go swimming, unwinding with Starbucks and a fat stack of magazines, spring break, escaping physics (even if it’s only for one measly week), my new Gianni Bini shoes, hot tubbing, the group text with K, S and M,

And most of all being home. With my parents and brothers and old friends. I never realize how much I absolutely miss this peaceful place until I leave it.

Things to make this week sunnier:

go to group classes and do yoga, read as many books as humanely possible, no alarms, go swimming everyday, hang out with mom, download a bunch of songs ❤

Much love and peace,

P

E’s Quote:

I was just going to put a piece of this poem, but it is so perfect, and sums up this week so well, that I think I’ll just share all of it.

9.

there are so many tictoc

clocks everywhere telling people what toctic time it is for

tictic instance five toc minutes toc

past six tic

 

Spring is not regulated and does

not get out of order nor do

its hands a little jerking move

over numbers slowly

 

we do not

 

wind it up it has no weights

springs wheels inside of

its slender self no indeed dear

nothing of the kind

 

(So, when kiss Spring comes

we’ll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss

lips because tic clocks toc don’t make

a toctic difference

to kisskiss you and to

kiss me)

-e. e. cummings

Things I’m grateful for this week:

S’s birthday is today! I’m so grateful for her friendship! She has an unfailingly fresh, honest perspective; she’s one of the smartest people I know and is always down for an adventure!

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I’m grateful for all the wonderful people who came to visit UT this weekend!

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BR (middle) came to check out the business honors program!

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The other B was on spring break and decided to pay us a visit!

On Sunday, A, S, and I went to Holi, which is a Hindu festival where you throw colors everywhere!

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It might be kind of boring to be grateful for the weather, but I definitely, definitely am! It could not be more beautiful here!

I’m grateful for salsa dancing parties at 2:00 in the morning; I’m grateful for free poetry books that make you want to stay up all night reading. I’m grateful for post-test, overly emotional frozen yogurt runs with I that make chemistry that much more bearable. I’m grateful for the  private violin concert from B while I studied on the sun deck of my dorm (he was technically practicing). I’m grateful for the satisfying ending to the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Youtube. There’s nothing more happily predictable than Pride and Prejudice; it’s better than a Disney movie. I’m grateful for Jamba Juice and the coupons they are currently giving out (so I can justify going every other meal). I’m grateful for runs to the grocery store with A for seaweed salad and Bath and Bodyworks lotion samples.

I hope you have a fabulous spring break at home, P!
Loads of love and hugs!

E