Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stalled

I haven't written anything all summer of substance.  I keep getting ideas and starting outlines, but they're not coming to anything.  I always feel like I write more and better stuff during the school year.  Maybe because I'm under more pressure and I have more time commitments which make me write better.  I don't know.  But I know that when I sit here and stare at my computer, knowing I have no commitments all day except to feed my grandmother, my mind wanders elsewhere.  

I know that I'm only twenty-one, so I shouldn't be expecting brilliance or perfection or even a full book.  But I don't think it's possible for an optimist to stop expecting great things, and everybody knows I'm an unrelenting optimist.  So maybe my expectations of myself are too big.  Maybe I need to work on my editing more.  Maybe I need to go to the public library and find a quiet spot in the front more often.  I don't know yet.

Part of it is that this summer is much more stressful than previous summers because I'm going to my senior year and applying to grad schools and studying for the GRE.  I'm still deciding what I want to do with my life after I graduate.  Right now I'm thinking I'll go to an MA program for Library Science and then later go back for my PhD in history if I still want to teach in a few years. Part of it is that my life feels much less together and sorted than it did last year or the year before.  Everything kind of feels like it's falling apart right now.

I know I'll do better again, but for right now I know I'm stalled.  At least I got through my birthday and I can look forward to my senior year.  Any advice?

Stay Tuned.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Twenty


Twenty has been a great year for me.  It’s had its ups and definitely, definitely had its downs, but overall it’s been a great year.  A lot has happened, a lot has changed, and I’ve definitely grown more this year than any other. My birthday is in just over a week and I'll be 21. It feels like I just turned 20 but at the same time it feels like I've been waiting for this somewhat arbitrary life mile-marker my entire life. I feel simultaneously like I have the world ahead of me, and like I'm running out of time. Does anyone else feel like this summer is shorter than all the previous ones? I feel like I just finished junior year and all of a sudden I'm making lists for a triumphant return to DC and my final year.

Twenty began with me getting my permit, and ended with me getting my license.
Twenty saw me become a junior, a Big, and a mentor.
Twenty saw me expand my friend group when my best friends studied abroad.
Twenty saw me break up with my boyfriend of over four years.
Twenty saw my dreams change, evolve, and completely re-form.
Twenty saw me act as a treasurer, a committee member, and then committee chair.
Twenty saw me attend a Phi Sigma Pi conference.
Twenty saw me create my 25 Before 25 list.
Twenty saw me become a vegetarian and make better health choices.
Twenty saw me discover yoga and running.
Twenty saw me become a person who is okay with silence and noise.
Twenty saw me look at more new cities to live in than I had before.
Twenty saw me become more like the person I want to be and learn to take pride in myself.  
Twenty saw me find a new personal philosophy that really helps me.
Twenty has seen me grow as a person, a Brother, a Historian, and a friend.

Twenty-one will see even more.


Stay Tuned.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gettysburg

One hundred and fifty years ago this week a battle was fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the likes of which no American army had known before, nor has known since.  It lasted three days, beginning on July 1st with the doomed Picket’s Charge, and ending, mercifully, on the night of July 3rd with a casualty count of 46,286.  For days and weeks the bodies of Confederate dead lay rotting in the fields where they fell, while the Union dead were buried in a massive gravesite.  Families lost sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers on both sides.  Several days later President Abraham Lincoln made a speech that lent morale to a force that had nearly given up before the battle.  Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, and had it gone to the Confederacy, the outcome of the war might’ve been different.  

Recently, there have been a lot of TV spots about Gettysburg and its significance.  A lot of them have had someone visit the battle site now, or run B-roll of the reenactments or the site on its normal days.  One thing that’s struck me from all the tv spots I’ve seen was that so many people remarked on how tranquil Gettysburg is now.  They’ll show some film of the open field, empty but for some fences designed to recreate the look of 1863, and a reporter will talk about how calm it is when the ground was soaked with the blood of nearly 50,000 people.  This isn’t a new trend in talking about battle sites many years later.  I heard it when I visited Gettysburg, I heard in when I visited Shiloh, I’ve heard it at nearly every battlefield I’ve been to (and believe me I’ve been to a lot).  But this has always baffled me.  Did they expect the battle to still be raging?  Did they expect the ghosts of the soldiers to still be shooting at each other, though no bullets could harm them now?  Did they expect constant thunder?  

Of course the battle sites are tranquil, these battles have been over for centuries.  I don’t mean to belittle the feelings of those reporters, but I don’t understand them.  I find the tranquility to be a better memorial to those who fell there than any plaque could be.  It reminds me that everywhere could have been a battlefield at one time.  It reminds me that people died in every corner of the earth, but they don’t all get a memorial, and they don’t all get remembered.  

Instead of thinking about the weird things that have happened in history today, I think we should take these days leading up to the anniversary of the founding of our nation to remember those who have lived before us.  I think we should examine why we go to war, as nations, and as individuals, and recognize that they are often very complicated.  

Stay Tuned.