Adventure is out there!

I started planning this entry on I-40 East coming home from Nashville. That has been my nice surprise of the month: I got to spend this past week in Missouri at my grandparents’, which you will have heard about in entries like this one and especially this one.

I didn’t bring my little computer at all and so was basically sans internet and mostly sans phone for over a week. I sat in the Raleigh airport a week ago Friday waiting for my flight and my head was spinning. I had just finished powering through season two of Mad Men at such a rate that sitting there I kept thinking every man I saw was Don Draper. Not that North Carolina boys are a bad-looking lot, but my, my, Alice, let’s not get carried away. My brain was fairly addled, and I felt disembodied. I felt as if I was no longer quite in possession of a self.

So here’s what I did all week: I read Tolkien, I washed a few windows, and I worked on a story. I had one white night, I watched one Jimmy Stewart movie, and I cooked some beans. I cleaned my grandma’s cabinets and went to Walmart only twice. One lovely afternoon I floated in the pool with a book and a milkshake from Tastee Treat.

I woke up a little, I think. It was a slow waking. I did not notice that I felt particularly different. Perhaps I was simply spending less time noticing myself and more time noticing the breeze on the dam of an afternoon, how many pages I had managed to fill in my little notebook, and marvelous quotes from the Hobbit to copy into it, though what I am writing is not at all a conventional adventure story. All hearty things for a kid in my condition—nothing like a computer screen to make you dwindle.

Then on Friday evening I sat in my aunt and uncle’s house watching the opening ceremonies and at the soaring shots of the countryside and the sound of the children’s choirs, I felt a near-forgotten longing. By the time all those Mary Poppinses floated down to vanquish Voldemort I had nearly lost my head.

I wanted to go. Karen and I had planned since we were sixteen to go to the 2012 Olympics. We were supposed to be there! What was I doing watching it from the couch? At the very least I was supposed to be headed there to study abroad this year. Off to visit the dear homeland of the Pevensies, the Bastables, the Mennyms, Pongo and Lady, the BFG and every other dear friend. (There is no faster way to my heart than British children’s literature.)

And thus it was that without warning I found myself saying to my mom in the car yesterday: “What if I got a job in England next summer?” Because, of course, I need money, (even at the end of this summer, I’m still scrambling for work,) but maybe I can quietly trick my scared little self into an adventure, if I make the arrangements fast, before myself notices.

I have often felt frightened and trapped and every miserable thing for the last year or so, but in the words of the indomitable Bilbo Baggins when he is trapped in a dark tunnel, lost from his friends and pursued by narsty, narsty goblins:

“Go back? No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”

He does not even think of standing still.

College’s Best-Kept Secret and How to Overcome It (I think)

Here are some reasons that I haven’t written in a while:

1) The next “favorite” on my list was favorite people, and when one really comes down to it, how does one write that entry? Could get a bit touchy, you know?

2) I’ve been working. Mopping floors and filing papers—quite enviable.

3) I’ve been writing. A little story for the new Mr. and Mrs. Upper along with the beginnings of something much longer.

4) I’ve been watching Good Mythical Morning.

5) I’ve been reading Suri’s Burn Book.

6) I’ve been slacklining. (Excuses are wearing thin at this point…)

7) Mainly, I just haven’t.

Before college the inhabitants of every corner of the earth converge to give you conflicting and vehement advice, but there’s one thing no one ever tells you. Unless you’re one of those mission driven people who gets an internship or works at a camp (and if you are, that’s fine, I still love you) then here’s college’s best kept secret: SUMMERS ARE WEIRD.

It goes like this. You come home and you think “Oh! I’m home! It’s summer!” and then you do nice home things and you go to work and you come home at the end of the day and you think “Oh! I’m home… Where is everyone? Oh. It’s summer.”

And that’s when it hits: you thought summer was going to be like partying inside of instagram, but it’s really more like sitting in your messy room looking at everyone else’s instagram, which you’re pretty sure (but not positive) that they’re all inside of partying without you.

So here’s some suggestions for my fellow weird-summer enthusiasts (or not so enthusiasts):

1) Read your summer books aloud: to your friend, to your cousin, to your teddy bear, to yourself.

2) Look up all those quotes whose origin you’ve never actually known, for that satisfying feeling of I-once-was-wrong-but-now-I’m-right.

3) Dry your laundry on the clothesline.

4) Go for a run in the heat, come home and say, “Welp, I did THAT.”

5) Turn halfway down the stairs into your regular hang-out spot.

6) Paint a room alone. Write secret messages in large letters then cover them up and giggle.

7) Try on old clothes and sit around in them for an embarrassingly long time.

8) Drive. Be loud in the car in whatever way you can think of.

9) Go to the farmers’ market on week days to make the venders feel loved.

10) Make lists. Surprisingly easy and surprisingly fun.

Do this and you will be left with a sore throat, extraneous knowledge, nice smelling clothes, a bunch of lists and no pictures or gas. Summer well spent.

Favorite Clothes

Sometimes people give me old clothes. I really like that. They tell me “This just looked like Alice,” which is flattering. Apparently I have a style. I am distinctive.

But then sometimes, I look closer at whatever they’ve given me and I wonder, “Really? That screamed my name to them from the back of their closet? Or did they just think ‘Oh. A dress. Alice wears dresses. She’ll take it.’”

Because I’m that girl. I’m a take-that-last-cookie-so-you-can-wash-the-container and take-that-dress-I’m-sure-I’ll-wear-it-tomorrow kid. I cannot resist good clothes. I avoid going to Goodwill when I’m broke because it makes me sad, and I never even look at stuff retail anymore because I get so indignant that I’m actually being charged for it.

So maybe what I end up with is a little eclectic. This is not to say, however, that I don’t have opinions. I have lots of them. Most of them are about things I love, but there are a couple strong negative ones, which I think I’m going to go ahead and share. This is the internet after all. It’s time I offended somebody.

Uggs are ugly. This should not need to be said. They are even uglier when stained with road salt. And ugliest when worn with basketball shorts, as I saw a man do in Long Beach a couple years ago.

Do not wear cargo shorts. Ever. Please don’t even ask about cargo pants. The only legitimate excuse I can come up with for such behavior is if you use all of those pockets on a regular basis, in which case, you look truly strange, but more power to you.

Maybe you think you don’t care about clothes. This entirely untrue. Even my little brother cares, evidenced by the fact that he stubbornly refuses to wear the wonderful bomber jacket my mom got him a couple years back. What you wear matters. I don’t really mind too much that he won’t wear it though, because that means I get to.

In other coat news, more men should wear pea coats. I know women are attempting to dominate that market now, as they do almost everything, but they were originally worn by sailors. So if you want them, which you should, take them back! Don’t be afraid.

Then there’s the marvelous silk one from my Grandma’s closet which I’m only just now beginning to gain confidence about. I did wear it to a wedding, though.

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Final coat of note: my leopard fur (faux.) My Grandma and my cousin have matching ones, and I like to wear mine to entirely inappropriate occasions, like a low-key hall Christmas party.

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If a certain piece of clothing is my favorite, I will wear it nearly anywhere. This includes my polka-dot dress which I wore to pack up last year, and my eyelet lace graduation dress which I nearly ripped playing Frisbee a few weeks back. Oops.

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There’s also the brown leather and black suede skirts which I found with Hannah at Goodwill at different times. The suede particularly tends to show up in all sorts of odd places.

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And the hound’s-tooth jumper that used to be my aunt’s has run the gamut from Italy to Storytime.

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Then there are sweaters. Sweaterssweaterssweaters. Big, cozy, versatile sweaters. Here is a sampling of my favorites:

Black, courtesy of United Airlines, for not swimming:Image

Green, the one Emily Van Vranken loves, for wandering:Image

Orange, cashmere for fall, for crowded couches:

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Dad’s, for lazy days and flat cakes:

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And blue, my favorite, for pizza and everything else:

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I’m also a huge fan of anything with a waist. (I assume we all know what a waist looks like…) They are the key to success. So get thee some belts and high-waisted skirts and maybe even some high-waisted pants, and have at it!

Then there’s Family Pantry gear. Obviously. (Kevin is spending the summer with me, if anyone wants him.)

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I like clothes that remind me of people I love (i.e. everyone above). Maybe that’s really why I love hand-me-downs so much. They come with people and stories attached. They come loved and lovable. It is easy to forget that they’re factory made. I do care how they look, but maybe not quite as much as I like to pretend I care. Because sometimes I reserve the privilege to unapologetically wear something really hideous. Just because it sometimes makes a bad day better.

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Blogs, Vlogs and Workaday Creativity

Within the last several months I have become…how shall I put this…a follower of several mild online sensations. Bloggers and vloggers. Not bloggers of the class to which I belong. I write for family and friends because I like to write and like to read what I write, and I know that sometimes they do too.

The people I’m talking about are different, and besides often enjoying what they create, I’ve become fascinated by the fact of their existence. They sit in their houses and apartments and bedrooms all day writing and editing and drawing and tweaking and filming and trying. Then they click a button that says “Upload” or “Submit” or “Publish” and what they have sometimes spent hours making zooms out to meet an audience which hovers somewhere between fanbase and friend group. They are really the maker’s people, his race of Joseph. These people spend five minutes watching, twenty minutes commenting, liking, responding and re-enjoying, then they go back to their own lives with a smile on their face and a nice, new thought in their head. Until next time.

It’s a really unique relationship, I think. By no means an ideal, but there’s something wonderfully affectionate about such an interaction. The audience knows nearly everything worth knowing about their friend. They know his birthday, the names of every person in his family, the layout of his entire home (because often they’ve seen it themselves), his most minute fears, every expression he makes, and entire story of the time his dog threw up on the carpet. They know this because he has opened the doors of his life and let the internet stream in; he is sharing his humanity with the world, in the most entertaining way possible, in case anyone cares to hear. His people love him for it. A few clicks of a mouse, and there is that familiar face of a friend doing their darndest to make your day.

The creators themselves, on the other hand, know very few of their people personally. They read comments, they answer emails, they take suggestions, they give hugs, pose for pictures, and are delighted to be shown around hometowns. Yet they know that there is really only one way to reciprocate the friendship so lavishly offered in nearly every comment. They have to keep creating. They have a responsibility to all these priceless souls with silly user names to continue to throw open their doors every day or every week and find something funny or thoughtful or weird to present to their people like it’s show and tell all over again.

I admire these people for their commitment to creativity. It must wear them out to be so funny and likable habitually, to concentrate their whole self into a blog post or video on a regular basis, to meet such a demand and be a friend to so many. Regular, responsible creativity  is a frightening thing to me, as well it should be. It is one of the reasons I don’t want to “grow up to be a writer.” I would have to dig and strive to do something I loved at a time I didn’t feel like it, and in a manner I wasn’t comfortable with.

BUT. Inspired by the workaday creativity of these familiar faces, I’m challenging myself. Not hugely, because I’m a student who needs to keep up her GPA, but a little.  Starting now, I’m going to post a coherent, well thought-out  post once a week until the end of the calendar year. (After which I’ll reassess and all that…) Okay?

Now, I’d like to introduce you to some friends of mine: the Green brothers, Allie, Charlie McDonnell, and the Loerkes. Or maybe you’ve already met?