Damned and Holy

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Right now I have 3 cups of coffee sitting on my desk. One from Caribou, one from Starbucks and one I brewed myself a few minutes ago. It’s 12:15 am and the thought of going to bed is bleak. I’m tired, stressed and overwhelmed, but my fingertips have a buzz that only writing can release. Plus, I have something on my mind…

I just finished a book called Holy Cow. It’s about the author, Sarah Macdonald, an acclaimed journalist in Sydney, who moves to New Dheli to be with her journalist boyfriend. Her experience is India is both inspiring and unsettling. While India is the beautiful, spiritual country I’ve read about, it’s also filled with violence, death and despair. Macdonald goes through a series of spiritual journeys to find herself. From Hinduism to Buddhism, Jainism to Judaism, she finds both beautiful and dark things from each religion. She first arrived in New Dehli an atheist who was highly cynical and judgmental (her own words) of the overt culture in which she was completely immersed. But her lack of spirituality and direction left her feeling unfulfilled, so she sought for guidance.

I’m trying very hard to turn this into a post where everyone can take something from it, but I prematurely accept defeat. Religion is a tricky subject that, for years, I’ve avoided. And when I say years, I mean my entire life. I am like Macdonald when she first moves to India; I’m cynical have very little direction in terms of my “spiritual” life. I’ve never been hooked. When the topic of religion comes up, I squirm. I never have anything very insightful nor knowledgable to contribute, so I hide in the corner until the topic changes. Coming from someone raised by two moms and was told time and time again that my family was going to Hell, Christianity never appealed to me. But even they can find love and hope in the church. If my moms, who have experienced enough shaming and hatred for a lifetime, can believe in a God who loves everyone (like he’s supposed to) then they’ve figured something out that I haven’t.

But I’m tired of being angry. I want to try to reopen the door that has been closed shut for so long, but I don’t know if I have the capacity nor the willingness to be that vulnerable.

Sarah Macdonald moved back to Sydney over 2 years later. She didn’t find a religion that spoke to her completely, but she took something from each:

From Buddhism the power to begin to manage my mind, from Jainism the desire to make peace in all aspects of life, while Islam has taught me to desire goodness and to let go of that which cannot be controlled. I thank Judaism for teaching me the power of transcendence in rituals and the Sufis for affirming my ability to find answers within and reconnecting me to the power of music. Here’s to the Parsis for teaching me that nature must be touched lightly, and the Sikhs for the importance of spiritual strength… And most of all, I thank Hinduism for showing me that there are millions of paths to the divine (Macdonald, pg 291).

While I might never be ready to open myself up to spirituality, I’ve learned that no one is ever ready for anything, so maybe I should take a chance. What I do believe in is this:

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times (yeah, I quoted Dumbledore). My faith in humanity used to be slim to none, but I’ve come to see and learn things that give me hope; hope for a better world, free from hate, hope for compassion and understanding. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that hope is a very powerful thing.

I might be on the verge of a very exciting, very terrifying journey.

Modern Equals Traditional

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T.S. Eliot once said:

Tout ce qui est nouveau est par ce fait automatiquement traditionnel. 

Translated: Everything that is new is thereby automatically traditional. 

I first heard this quote just the other day. Odile, a character in Bande À Part, recites it in her English class. It stuck out to me. It’s a beautiful thought, but what really does it mean? This troubled me. I don’t know if I should take it literally, meaning anything new is never new, because that troubles me even more. How am I suppose to be a creative individual who goes through a creative process to create something original when that something isn’t actually original? Is anything anyone has ever created already been a past idea? Are my ideas not my own? This thought is almost crippling, as I’m paying $40,000 dollars a year at an art school, an environment for “creative” individuals. If I take this quote literally, the word “creative” may as well not exist, and what kind of world would we live in then?

I don’t want to take this literally, nor do I believe that’s what the quote actually means. If you look at it a different way, it becomes a beautiful idea.

Dusk is my favorite time of day. The sun has already set, leaving behind blue and lilac streaks in the horizon.  The air is crisp and burns your cheeks on your way home. I was looking out at Lake Michigan, at least what’s left to see with all of the ice, and saw the darkening sky engulf what was in front of me. It’s the end of another day. But while it may be ending here, it’s just beginning somewhere else.

Tout ce qui est nouveau est par ce fait automatiquement traditionnel. 

A new day brings new hope. With the beginning of a new day comes a fresh start; everything is new. But across the globe, another day is coming to a close. With the ending of another day comes resolutions (hopefully) and rest.

This analogy isn’t perfect nor may it be what Eliot meant (I apologize in his honor) but this is how I interpret his words.

This post should…hopefully will reside with everyone, not just art students, who is struggling or feeling stuck (myself included).

I wake up every morning having the potential to create and design my destiny. By the end of the day, I’m one step closer to figuring it out (trying). This quote, instead of crippling me, has made me excited to try new things and go new places. Most importantly, it makes that $40,000 education worth every penny.

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A Summary

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My mind is blank.

I’m staring at my room trying to find some inspiration.

Butterflies, boxes, books, pillows, messy sheets, paper cranes and lots and lots of sticky notes.

My brain is completely blank.

Today was the first day I woke up with energy and vigor. It’s like I actually wanted to get up. I didn’t even get enough sleep, but when my alarm went off I was excited to start the day.

This is new, I said to myself.

At lunch I picked up a brochure about studying abroad. I flipped right to the page about Paris. It’s fate. Then I saw the price. It’s an expensive fate.

In intro to journalism we talked about Michael Sam. Then about Marcus Smart. Then my professor talked and talked and talked and talked until we only had 2 minuted of class left. He doesn’t know that his clock is 5 minutes slow. He kept talking.

I worked my shift at the Fashion Study Collection, helped some students, locked up, and walked back to my dorm.

In my French film class we watched Bande À Part, a nouvelle vague film from the sixties directed by Jean-Luc Godard. I really liked it, especially the music.

I did laundry.

I showered.

My mind is still blank.

It’s searching for something, but this is the best I can do.

I’ll think of something better next time.

Cheers.

Bande À Part, Le Madison

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A February Realization

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It’s interesting what comes out of the new year. It’s the end of December and suddenly everyone is thinking of ways to change. How can I live differently? What can I live without? Am I finally going to commit to a workout schedule? By time time February rolls around, it’s a different story. Most people realize that their resolution/s was/were unattainable. Or maybe they stopped caring. I mean, it’s already February and I’m just now writing this post. People lose motivation. They expect change instantaneously. But that’s not how things work.

When I didn’t instantly feel different when I moved to Chicago, I was surprised. But more importantly, I was terrified. It’s like I expected an abrupt change to come from within, telling me that “this is the place where you can be happy.” When that didn’t happen, I gave up. I didn’t think that being happy was a thing I could achieve. It just wasn’t for me.

During winter break I got to see all of my best friends from high school. It felt good to slip back into the comfort of familiarity. Everything was the same: the same café, the same booth, the same jokes. It felt good, really good. I know these people, I know this town, there’s no unknown here. But hey, that’s the exact reason I wanted to leave.

After a month, I was itching for the city. My time back home felt expired and I couldn’t stand a minute more of it. I lost my sense of comfort to which I was originally clinging. I actually started to feel uncomfortable, like my home didn’t want me there either.

I ditched my small town to live in the city and I’m not happy. I leave the city to go back home and I’m not happy. So, what’s wrong with this picture? Can I really never feel happy?

Of course I can be happy! I was searching for something that couldn’t be found. I couldn’t find it because it wasn’t hiding; it was already with me.

So, for my “New Years Resolutions”…

1. Create my own happiness from within. Happiness starts with me and only me.

2. Make more art. There’s never a surplus of beautiful things in this world.

3. Continue my “Chicago coffee” list…

4. Write more often, even if what I write isn’t good.

5. Make resolutions everyday, not just at the end of the year.

This list has no strings attached, no pressure, but I have a good feeling about it.

Cheers!

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A Walk

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First off, I know I haven’t been writing for nearly 2 months. Although I don’t consider 5 people a fan base, I’m sorry to those of you (all 5) for my absence.

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I took a walk today. I didn’t get out of bed until 1:30 in the afternoon, probably because I didn’t go to bed until 4 in the morning, but I decided to take a walk. First, I went to return some shoes I just recently bought. The zipper broke only after 2 weeks of me wearing them. I then stopped by Starbucks to get a cinnamon dulce latte; my favorite. As I was heading back to my dorm, planning on getting back into bed and finish the day watching Netflix, I made a snap decision and headed east instead.

I found myself at The Art Institute. It’s one of my favorite buildings in Chicago. The regal lions standing guard look out on Michigan Avenue, announcing their presence to the world. I can almost hear them speak to one another. I can only imagine the history they have witnessed. I continued walking and saw that the garden next to the Institute was open, so I went in.

There was a man standing in the middle of the walkway taking pictures. I didn’t want to get in the photo, so I went around him. At the point that I was behind him I looked up to see what he was trying to capture. It was almost unreal. The fountain that usually runs during the warmer months was off and the water was drained, but the sculpture of the fountain was breathtaking. The water had left its effect on the copper figures. Vibrant oranges and yellows seemed to melt over the copper blue. All of the golden leaves on the tress had fallen into the fountain. The vines on the wall were a brilliant red that gradually changed into more yellow and green. The trees had bright little red berries on the branches. I sat down in the garden and stayed there. At that moment, everything seemed right. Everything was in balance.

The past few weeks have been hard. I began to doubt myself and everything I was doing. I no longer knew what I wanted nor where I wanted to be and that terrified me. All of my friends here have an unbreakable passion. You can see it in their eyes. They spend every moment of the day practicing and working and planning. I didn’t feel the same and that scared me. I was exhausted trying to pretend that I felt that way, but I wanted so badly to feel it. I was worn out and unhappy. Maybe I had too many passions and I was stretching myself  too thin. Maybe I didn’t have enough passion to spread over all that I love; and I love a lot of things.

I sat in the garden looking at the copper figures and I felt at peace. Multiple people and families had walked by, taken a few pictures, and continued on, but I remained sitting there.

I have time. I don’t have to know what I want yet and I have time to figure it out. Unlike those lions, nothing is ever set in stone. I can be whomever and whatever I want.

I left the garden feeling better than I have in nearly a month. I promised myself I would go to that same spot at least once a week; it has some kind of hold on me. I felt the very low flame within me start to grow… and I know I can’t ignore that feeling.

 

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The Return of the CTA Guy

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When I mentioned to my dad that some dude on the Red Line kicked me, he became extremely worried.

If this guy ever does anything to you again, you just tell me, okay?

I told him that I would probably never see this guy ever again. And then, I saw him.

I was walking down the street with a friend today when all of a sudden…

White women are crusty old bitches!

I didn’t even have to look. My friend’s eyes grew wider as she realized it was the same guy from a few weeks before.

They’re disgusting! 

What are the odds?

I Believe in Coffee

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I believe in coffee.

I believe in noticing the change in the breeze that tells me that fall is here.

I believe in laughter.

I believe in staying up until 3 even though you have an 8 am class.

I believe in friendship.

New friendships, too.

I believe in listening to The Killers while reading my fashion textbook.

I believe in The Killers, always.

I believe in Garrett

and Celeste

and Emma

and Cat

and Kailah

and Amanda

and Keegan

and Raine

and Mikaela

and John, Luke, Megan, Alex, Renae, Jordan, Susie, Alice, Stoney.

I believe in connections.

I believe in fate.

I believe that, one day, I will experience fate.

I believe in love.

I believe in knowing I’m the only one for someone.

I believe in travel.

I believe in getting lost.

I believe that I will be okay.

I believe in change.

I believe in having 3 different calendars that are dedicated for 3 different subjects.

I believe in butterflies.

Flutterbys.

I believe in pinkie promises.

I believe that I need to go to bed.

I believe that I probably won’t.

I believe in really strong coffee.

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