Category Archives: Thoughts & Thinks

Moving Forward

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It has been a really, really long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. Far too long. I kept thinking, “oh, I’ll write another day,” or “I’ll write a post next week when I have more time.”

And now it’s over a year later. Talk about losing track of time.

A lot of things have changed in the past year and how many months, and there’s no real way to go through it all in a single blog post, or try to recollect everything and post it gradually. The only thing left, then, is to keep moving forward.

Definite lesson I’ve learned there – move forward. It’s a multi-faceted idea that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It comes with the territory of the entire human existence  but particularly as I’m heading towards a mission (more on that later) and graduation after that. The future is a composite of everything in the past, but it holds few bounds and is limited to only what we outline it to be. Everyone has their setbacks, but the whole idea of hitting a bump in the road is to take a minute, realize what happened, and drive forward.

Minor setbacks have occurred over the past year, but I feel as though I’ve really been able to overcome those bumps and keep going, keep pushing forward and setting goals and figuring out who I am. There are challenges ahead, needless to say, but they won’t be so bad.

And actually, I’m looking forward to them. With every challenge comes a challenge overcome – a triumph and an opportunity to learn, grow, and become a stronger and better person. Can’t wait!

I’ll keep you posted on my adventures in the meantime. :)

– Meg

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Dear Cancer

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Dear Cancer,

Brad Paisley says you’re not supposed to say the word “cancer” in a song. Hermione Granger says fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself. My grandmother wouldn’t talk about you, she faced you three times, battling you twice herself. My friend’s mom incorporated you into her battle cry. You’re the first thing you rule out and the last thing you double-check for. You’re the ultimate way to put your priorities in order fast and the worst way to test out your health insurance. You’re the most definite way to pick your new favorite color.

Pink. Grey. Teal. White. Peach. Lavender.

Breast. Brain. Ovarian. Lung. Uterine…Cancer.

Probably the only word in the world that has the effect that you do – it’s like a mortar explosion or a grenade detonating at your feet. You get thrown through the air, and land on your back, gasping for air. You lay there, listening for those around you, needing to hear that life-pulse, till the dust begins to settle.

Cancer. You’re a dirty word. The second time you are spoken, you are broken and raw. You are fear drawn from the air, tangible in images and matter. No matter how often you are said, you do not deflate. No – you ring like gunshot in a valley, echoing on in the silence. You are a single angry, forsaken scream resounding in an empty canyon. You are heavy ringing footsteps, nail-shod boots on marble. Calculated and exact, snapping at the corners, sounding like the crack of lightning in a tree. You are glass hitting the floor, loud and aching and startling, then you are sliding and scratching, shards spinning across the floor. You are the broken pieces embedded in the carpet, clawing at bare feet before receding again.

You are defiant hope. The hidden sparks beneath the coals, waiting for the stillness to stop. A hand thrust deep down would burn unexpectedly. The lesson would be learned. Fear only goes so deep until it meets the inevitability of the human spirit.

You are a knot in a rope. Sliding down, it is a harsh jerk when you least expect it. The stumbling knot on the highwire, the one that makes you trip and fall 25 feet. But also the knots in the net below, catching you when you fall, keeping you from the impact of the cold, hard ground. It cradles you, swinging gently as you catch your breath and gather the strength to roll off and get to your feet. It’s there to catch you if you stumble because your head is still spinning.

You’re the thing that brings people to their knees, but you give them the defiance to get back up. You make them ask why, and then give it up to God. Your greatest lesson is that you can’t be mad at something you can’t change. There’s no point – you just have to pick up the pieces, patch them together the best you can, and move on. You bring people with you.

You are the ultimate test in relationships. You teach people who means the most to them, who will be there through it all. You are hand-holding, tissues and watery smiles. You are words choked with emotion. You are ‘drop everything and go.’

You are a bringer of compassion. You are a teacher. A cruel one. You are incomprehensible, and painfully clear. You are a driving force that creates other forces – forces of love and charity, hope and prayer.

Above all, you teach us what is most important in this world.

Cancer.

There, I said it.

M.

 

Back to the Future

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This week has been pretty crazy. I feel like the minutes ticked by with an agonizing slowness, but then I blink and they’re gone in a blitz. It’s how it was last year – a mesh of chaos and meditation as we all fall back into the rhythm of classes and studying and human contact.

Last week was a whirlwind of last minute clothes shopping, packing, and trying to get everything into some semblance of order. Mom and I spent two days scouring stores for some new clothes and a few new pairs of shoes. After literally a dozen [or more] stores, we finally left with a few cardigans, three pairs of shoes, a two blouses and a sweet pair of owl earrings (a prize for suffering through countless hours trying things on, my least favorite part about shopping).

Dad and I drove down, listening to a mess of country, bluegrass, the little pop I own and Billy Joel. After staying the night in a hotel, we pulled into BV at around nine in the morning on Friday. I had hopped out of the car, full of butterflies as I drank in the easy familiarity of Main Hall, waving to my peers as we passed. We unpacked and began settling (stopping for a lunch of Hardee’s eaten crosslegged on my dorm room floor) before dad headed back home, eager to beat Irene to Connecticut.

The weekend was completely booked: a dance, football game, pep rally, floor meetings, Church… Monday was the respite from activity, oddly enough. I love my classes this semester thus far: a philosophy class with Dr. Armstrong (who was my bishop last semester) that promises to be interesting; German 3, where we like to pretend that it’s not Lord of the Flies the way our classmates keep disappearing; British Literature, which has proved to be a riot with Dransfield (whom I affectionately call Dransy); and my favorite class of all, Modern British Literature, which has turned out to be an Irish lit course.

I’m living with Kambyl again, which I’m stoked about. We fell into our beat within moments of her arrival, and I love the easiness of it. We are also rooming with a girl named Cameryn, who is an experience in and of herself. It’s looking like it will be a fantastic semester, one I am definitely looking forward to. Everything in our dorm is setttled: my photos are up on the wall, books properly shelved, notebooks neatly stacked. My closet bar had broken, but after a week of no one coming to fix it despite 2 work orders, Kambyl and I fixed it ourselves and I earned my Weekend Warrior badge.

Broken closet or not [insert Narnia joke here], it’s wonderful to be back in BV, progressing towards my future. Summertime to me was stagnant in some ways, the same things over and over, only 3 weeks of respite from the ordinary household tasks and patterns. I’m loving being back in the books, looking forward to the rest of the year and collaborating with my peers.

I feel like I’m officially an English major this semester, especially because I’ve begun setting goals that extend past Southern Virginia. I get a lot of English major jokes too (the only major that gets more jokes than English is Liberal Arts), especially from Kambyl. I spell something wrong… “aren’t you an English major?” I say something odd… “You’re  such an English major.” I refer to a book by the author’s first name… “English major…” It’s great fun, especially because I realize that those are definitely some of the hallmarks of being in the department. I think the most satisfying feeling is to have spent the afternoon or early evening curled up on my bed, surrounded by various books and novels and anthologies, a mug of tea or cocoa beside me as I fall into the pages. We’ve been reading Blake and Yeats and it’s been a blast. Especially Yeats. I love Yeats. No question.

Devouring all these books makes me excited for the rest of the semester and beyond (sounds ominous, doesn’t it?). It’s going to be fun, seeing where I go. Sometimes I feel like a little autumn leaf blowing about in the wind, other times I feel like a bright paper boat slowly but surely following the current, pausing in the little rocky inlets before moving forward once more. I’m looking forward to see how much I grow academically and spiritually this semester: I’m trying to soak up as much as I possibly can, storing it away for future use (don’t worry, I’m being careful not to do too much).

Anyway. Hopefully now that I’m back in my rhythmic element, I’ll be able to keep you updated more regularly. One of my goals for the scholastic year is to be better about keeping this blog lively and updated, and to change the writing style up a little bit. Give it a little bit more me, make it a little more authentic. We’ll see how that goes, yeah? It will be an adventure – and as you all know, I am all about adventures. :)

Love,
Meg

Packing Up Again

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This summer has been crazy. I haven’t been overly busy, no. Well, not until this month. August slammed me with 2 weeks of vacation in New York, a week of girls camp, and so much packing in between. And the first half of this week is going to be packing, packing, and more packing as I head back down to SVU for a second year.

In a word, craziness. Lots of it.

I’m more pumped and excited to head back to Virginia, I’ve missed her all summer long. I’m eager to be reunited with my friends, begin classes [my brain needs to wake up again] and get back into the school-year groove. I’ve got my list of goals for the year in hand, ready to be pinned above my desk next to the photos of the summer. I have a lot to write about, and some new music to pour myself into. I’ve got stacks of books to consume and paper to fill, ink to utilise.

I’m excited for my school-year schedule: philosophy and mathematics at 8 am (not so thrilled about that, actually), German, 3 institute/religion classes and 2 literature classes. I’m super stoked for my Topics in English class – it’s ended up essentially being an Irish lit course. I saw my book list and wanted to swear my undying devotion to the professor.

Also, this year I have a new advisor, Dr. Silverman. It will be an adventure he’s new to SVU, an English person like me, and has a pretty brilliant sense of humor. We’ll see what we can get done with this English major thing this year. Also, I’m considering a history and creative writing double minor. So it will be a decision to be made. Luckily, I’ve declared before most of my peers, meaning I can get atop of things more quickly (i.e. I can get more upper division classes unlike others because I’ve declared).

My thoughts keep drifting to life here in New England. Obviously, I’ll miss my family, but I’m also going to be missing my ward up here. I was asked to speak yesterday, and as I waited was able to watch the congregation and realized how much I love them. It will be a  little harder than normal, I think, to leave them behind. Especially a few families in particular whom I’ve become much closer to. I’ve adopted 2 little sisters who I really don’t want to leave behind (and we’re terrible about writing one another).

My dilemma today is packing all the clothes I need, and all the books I need that will satiate my bibliophile tendencies. Should I bring To Kill a Mockingbird even though I read it through again this summer? What about the novels I didn’t get to this summer? Will I have time this semester? Should I just have my parents send them as needed, or just bite the bullet and bring them all down? The dilemma unfortunately extends to other items as well and I’ve come to the conclusion that I really just need to work on paring everything down to the necessities for the next few years. I’m struggling to let go of my craft supplies though, so I’m not sure how that will go.

I hate the chaos that goes with moving to/from school. I always have. I dislike having to reorganize and settle everything, find ways to make it just so. I wish everything would just go poof! and settle itself. I always feel like I’m forgetting something important, and I get distracted so easily.

But, packing is such a mindless task, it means I can sit and plan out things that I want to do and write, as well as take care of other odds and ends. The laundry pile never ceases to beckon. And so I’m off. A new update will probably be in a week or so, once I’m settled back in the Lofts (and then they will begin to steadily flow again).

I’m hoping this year to make better use of my mailbox. I write one friend steadily, but miss the simple and heartfelt communication of writing letters with a pen on paper, licking the envelope and peeling the stamp off the book to carefully press it on the page. And yes, this is a plea for you all to help me fill up my mailbox. I’ll reply, promise.

Love till next time,
Meg

{wish I were sitting here…}

{…looking at this.}

Dear Me at 17

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Dear Me at 17,

You started this blog yesterday night. If I remember correctly, you were up pretty late into the night typing away, using the backspace bar more than you were actually typing. You named it “This Side” after your favorite bluegrass song by Nickel Creek. It was a poignant choice, even if you were the only one who knew it. I guess it was a little like  a secret code, symbolic without being all-out noticeable.

You didn’t know that 366 days later you’d be writing your sixty-ninth post. That’s three hundred and sixty-six days, written out, because I know you hate reading numbers. Makes sense – you are a girl of words, not numbers.

But in a few months, you’ll come to realize that you like numbers  a little bit when you read Dante’s Inferno with your favorite English professor in Western Lit. You’ll still prefer words though. That won’t ever change.

It’s a little crazy for you to think right now that you’ll be graduating from high school in less than two weeks, I know. When you stop to think about it, you feel like your head is going to explode right on the spot. Just breathe – you’ll survive that feeling of sheer excitement to get rid of high school. And you’re right, the only thing you’ll miss are a few of your teachers and friends and those lazy French classes beneath the giant oak tree.

Still, you’re having a hard time truly imagining “real life” beyond the walls of East Hampton High School. Makes sense, those bright yellow lockers are pretty distracting. But don’t worry. The next 366 days will be some of the greatest.

Oh, heads up. Doctor Berry will throw a “dance party” for your graduating class in the middle of the ceremony. Party in the USA is the song of choice. Just go with it. And Roberto’s tassel is going to fall off mid-ceremony. Be prepared to fix that.

You’ll go on a roadtrip with Elisabeth, Suzanne and their moms to Palmyra with a few hours notice. They’ll ask Thursday night, and you’ll leave Friday morning. You’re going to cram in the back of a tiny Buick, listen to music really loud and have a blast. A handsome groomsman in a hay wagon will invite you to crash the wedding reception. You will have a blast. Near the end of Pageant, look up at the sky to the right of the stage. 3 shooting stars.

Patriarch will give you your patriarchal blessing. He’ll remember part of it when you see him in the fall and ask you a question. Just smile and shake his hand and say hello. Remember how awesome Patriarch is.

You’ll go to Girls Camp, have a blast, and leave the next Monday. But not before you give a talk at Church (you’ll be told that Friday by Sister Puida and Sister Black. Sister Puida will try to hand you a MormonAd poster saying “write your missionary” – take the Master Servant one. It will save you a headache. Ignore the smirk.). You won’t remember what your topic was, but you’ll remember that you talked about your girls and about Christ and how you were grateful to the sisters in the ward.

Just a heads up. There will be a stake rep on the stand. Don’t worry. Just give Bishop a quick look and everything will be okay. It always is.

You’re going to love Southern Virginia. Absolutely adore it. You’ll be a little homesick for a week or two, then you’ll be good to go.

You’re stupid though. 7 am biology is a terrible idea. It’s going to kick your butt. 366 days later you’ll still be trying to find a lesson in it. That’s okay. That’s life.

Buy rain boots. You’re going to need them. And not just for the weather.

You’re going to live for Sundays. Sunday nights are your favorite hours of the week because of Hymns on a Hill and your new tradition of Sunday walks. You’ll have great times walking around campus and BV with your friends.

Speaking of walks, the best time to see the stars is about midnight. One fantastic night you’ll find the perfect spot – you’ll know it when you see it – and spend hours talking and dreaming and laughing with a friend. You’ll remember it clearly. Also, it’ll be the first night of fireflies of the summer, so keep an eye out.

There are things to remember – there are no such things as original plots, the earth hangs from Heaven on a golden chain in Milton’s universe, extra pens are always good, the Holy Roman Empire does not equal the Roman Empire (keep them separate forever), Jane Austen can be funny if you let her, you can ask questions about the universe and have them answered, your favorite novels say a lot about you, if you ask nicely you can have class on the front porch, the Canadian kid can totally take you disagreeing with him, and the dog will come to you. Thanks, Dr. Cluff.

Don’t stay up too late studying for your finals. It’ll be okay. You’ll be fine. Come, Come Ye Saints will get stuck in your head – the last verse. The teachers know what verse you’re humming frantically under your breath. It will make them grin. You won’t die. Promise.

The best thing in the world is Chinese food with Kambyl and getting Ben & Jerry’s from the grocery store after. Yes, the food is yummy, but the best part is hanging out with your friend and talking. Remember that the lo mein might have peppers. Try to avoid that.

Fortune cookies always tell the truth.

You’re more claustrophobic than you thought. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Go down to the front porch of Main. You’ll love it there.

Hannah is going to get engaged. You will call it down to the day. Don’t let it go to your head that you have that skill.

You’re a photographer because you’re trying to capture words. You’re a poet because you’re trying to capture photos. You’re a writer because you want to be both.

Enjoy your writing friends. You’re different, but they get  you. They understand what the ink stains mean.

Your spinner ring will break halfway through the year. Don’t freak out.

You’re an awesome letter writer. It’s okay to write five pages because you know what? They’ll enjoy the stories of adventures, the lame jokes and the attempt to be serious. Cartoons are always a plus, but nothing can beat your illustrated envelopes. You even wrote a poem about writing a letter.

Your friends will quote that letter-poem back to you and it’ll make you warm and fuzzy inside.

Never title your poems.

October General Conference. Bring extra tissues. There will be an announcement that will make you cry and laugh and you’ll remember it every day after that. Share your excitement.

Getting thrown from a horse isn’t as scary as it seems. It’s not a big deal. Other people freaking out will freak you out more. And you’ll get through the shock.

Also, it’s a strange reaction to get up and calm your horse. But he’ll appreciate it.

Institute is going to be your sanctuary. You’re going to learn so much that you’ll feel like your head is going to explode. But it will calm you down, let you figure everything else out. You’ll love Brother Moss and Brother Stuart. Brother Moss will be impressed that you can match your pf flyers to your shirt and Brother Stuart will shake your hand and say, “you’re good.” Make sure to copy some of your better notes for them – they’ll appreciate it.

Love the river and the random creeks and waterfalls you’ll find. Clean clothes don’t last forever. Memories do.

Memories don’t last forever. Write in your journal before you forget. Take lots of pictures.

Go to Church and the firesides. You won’t be able to describe the singles ward, but you don’t have to. You’ll enjoy it.

Remember the home ward though.

The banging noises in Durham are nothing to worry about. They add character. They remind you that SVU is authentic.

Country music is your soundtrack. As much as you like Kambyl’s music, the good old twang is what you inevitably turn on when you’re alone in the dorm room folding laundry. Go ahead and dance to it.

Speaking of dancing, you’re gonna take lessons. Just have a blast and don’t think about how little rhythm you have. Appreciate the good dance partners. The one in the plaid shirt is going to be your favorite. Just go with it. Remember, following the Tornado with a slide and a dip in Swing isn’t a good idea. Do it anyway. It will make you laugh. Others will be impressed even if you’re doing it all wrong.

You’re going to have the opportunity to attend stake conference with Elder Christofferson. Go with your gut and get home in any way possible. You need to hear what he and President Taylor have to say (pay particular attention to President Taylor’s topic). Note how alike Patriarch, President Taylor and Elder Christofferson look. Look Elder Christofferson in the eye. He’ll make a comment during the next General Conference that will make you think of that and laugh.

Traveling alone isn’t a big deal. Just breathe. And put your headphones in.

Paper boats and fish ponds were made for each other. Besides, the koi like to pretend they’re Moby Dick.

Main Hall is the perfect place for hiding hershey kisses. The professors like it too.

Harry Potter jokes should be cracked often. Narnia too. Twilight never.

Pizza doesn’t last long.

Paper airplane races during Spring Break is the best thing ever. Just give in to the silliness.

Packages from home will make you everybody’s best friend.

The Rules to Cowpunch: 1 slug for a cow, 2 for a white cow, 1 poke for a calf. Rinse and repeat. Play with Kambyl and Bruce for the most laughs.

Drives are better with the windows down and Sweet Home Alabama blaring.

The Pink Cadillac Diner is tradition. You don’t mess with tradition.

You’ll learn a whole new language down in Virginia. We’ll start with ‘rockawhile’ and go from there.

Always listen to the musicians in main hall. A favorite will be the boys from upstairs with their improv songs about trains. Quote that song as much as possible.

Enjoy the fact that SVU is always singing. Guitars in Jonzzeys, ukeleles out by Chandler, Nate in the gym, the basket ball team (it’s okay, they’re gonna sing “going to the chapel” but just leave it be). Be prepared for random bursts of “Hey Soul Sister.”

Bowties are the new cool. Always wave to Provost.

Be friends with Rod. He’s not going to be here forever.

Go to Walmart looking rough every so often. It’s refreshing (look out for the blonde Cadet – you and Kambyl will name him Wendell).

Thunder is going to be often, but you’ll survive it. Tornadoes can be fun.

Pranks are totally acceptable. Use codenames.

Sisters are there to harass you. Harass them back. It tells them you love them. Adopted sisters too.

Remind people that while you’re from East Hampton, money runs towards the ocean and your little town is landlocked. You live in Connecticut, not New York.

But you’re still a New York girl.

It’s perfectly acceptable to say “hey ya’ll” as long as it doesn’t preface “watch this.”

When you’re home, get to writing. You’ve lost time and you need to make it up. It will keep you sane. Keep in touch with your friends from BV. Keep in touch with adopted sibs. Remember that prayer is constant, it’s like having a secure line to Heaven. Use that.

Life has its bumps, but the best thing is grabbing the ceiling and laughing along the way. Goodbyes are never forever, and a hug says everything. Fist bumps are the best way to celebrate, and pinky swears are binding. Roll with the wind (and Alexander Rybak) is the song to listen to, and “come what may and love it” is the motto. It’ll be a good year, girl, enjoy it.

See you in 366 days,

You at 18.

PS – come to love the postscript. You will have a ‘ps war’ with a friend and it will be hilarious. There will be some jaw-dropping postscripts that will have you laughing. Save up the best one for last every time. Comics also count. ;)