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Monday, January 20, 2014

This I Believe #2

Post them here by 3 on Tuesday!

21 comments:

  1. I have a bit of a control problem.

    At all times I tidy and organize things around me: my library is color coordinated, bulk grains in the kitchen are kept in clear glass jars, and my socks are always folded before being put into the drawer (and intentionally mismatched because I prefer it that way).

    I don’t tidy in a Mary Poppins fashion, necessarily. I frequently forget to shower and neglect to vacuum. I just seem to have a compulsion to visually organize everything in my environment.

    I tell myself - and people who ask - it is because I find things more aesthetically pleasing, which, I suppose is true. But deep down I recognize I do this because I can’t help it. It is a distraction to a truth I cannot bear: that I ultimately have no control at all.

    Not to say this applies on the day to day. I try to keep in mind my overwhelming privilege and how this allows me to navigate many facets of my life freely.

    I guess what spooks me (or rather, what freaks out the control freak in me) is that larger, unpredictable and universal instability – that, you-never-know-what-tomorrow-will-bring part of reality.

    I believe it is not worth worrying about. But I worry anyway.

    I believe I make myself miserable stressing about my cosmic insignificance. But I stress anyway.

    Perhaps, making myself upset is the now-proverbial cigarette I know is bad for me; my fifth of whiskey.

    I believe my folded (and intentionally mismatched) socks represent a meaningless struggle against my lack of control.

    Although, if folding my socks allows me some small sliver of peace:

    I believe that will do for now.

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    1. Like you, I make lists, straighten edges, and do my best to organize myself and everyone else--like you, in an effort to pretend I have control.

      Needless to say, I really like your reflection :)

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  2. I believe in Martin Luther King Jr.

    Martin Luther King Jr. was a very courageous man and fought for what he believed and I support everything he stood for. I am so very thankful that he was brave enough to fight against the extremely powerful white man and society in which he lived. MLK set the example that one can fight for something that they believe without using violence no matter the circumstances one endures for everyone around him. Being only one person and challenging what had been the “normal” way of life for so long took an unlimited amount of courage, will-power, and dedication; MLK knew this and still pursued his mission to make life better for people of color. The amount of discomfort, racism, and fear he underwent was unbelievable and not many people would have been able to suffer through such things.

    King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This statement is very profound and is one of the reasons why I agree with Martin Luther King Jr. and strive to continue the fight for equal rights in our country so that his legacy and mission will never be forgotten. Being able to challenge others actions when they are in the wrong and able to stand up to somebody says a lot about one’s character. I think this is what MLK was talking about. When somebody can voice their opinion and stand up for what they believe when someone is doing something wrong, this proves that they really do care about their beliefs. Many people can talk about what they believe but when they are challenged to prove this, they fumble and let things continue the way they are, even if they are wrong.

    All of these things are reasons why I believe in Martin Luther King Jr. He has been my hero for many years now because he gives me the courage to stand up for what I believe.

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    1. Marty Clifford will agree with you--he likes to remind us that a single person can make a difference. I agree with Marty. But I also believe in the power of communal action.

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  3. For the past four years my Saturday night plans have been booked. There is never a question about what I’m going to do. My parents know, my friends know, everyone knows. As long as there is a new episode of Saturday Night Live coming on I know that at approximately 11:15 I will be walking through the door to Derek’s apartment.

    Having a best friend is a weird thing. You know everything about each other’s lives, yet it seems like you can never pin down just when you became best friends. That’s how it is with Derek. I met him six years ago through 4-H. We joke that we are best friends because we are the meanest people that we know, but it’s more likely that no one else would put up with all the weird things we do and that we have a similar taste in music.

    When the show starts, all talking stops. We don’t want to miss a single joke. We both have our own favorite cast members and are currently mourning the loss of Seth Meyers to Late Night. We laugh and live-tweet and laugh and swear that there is no way that it’s almost over. But then it is. We give our best efforts to watching the stand-up show that comes on after, but it’s not long before we give in and changed the channel. (Our current record is ten minutes before turning). When conversations die down or when I notice how late it is, I make moves to leave. This usually ends up with me standing in the doorway for another ten minutes because we started up another conversation while I was putting my shoes on.

    This is the way it has been since I came to college and it will continue until we no longer live in the same city. I am not looking forward to that day.

    I believe in driving home at two AM. I believe in laughing until I cry. I believe in Saturday Night Live. I believe in best friends.

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    1. I really like the simplicity of your descriptions. What a fun essay! Think about sharing it with Derek.

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  4. Before learning about peanut-butter-and-jelly meals, I nodded side to side for “yes,” up and down for “no.” We all did. My grandmother nodded side to side to indicate yes, she would have lunch ready at noon: moussaka with pickled vegetables on winter weekends, home-made French-fries on the side when I was lucky. My grandfather shook his head up and down—he disapproved of my mother’s ex-husband who did not join the Communist Party. My mother nodded up and down when I begged to play outside past 8 pm—the time unsupervised girls headed down a path of destruction. I nodded side to side when asked if I would join the Young Pioneers. I nodded in front of a monument that marks Bulgarian war victory against a historical enemy. Carefully, I moved my head up and down when asked by the chief of police in my university town if I was a spy for America.

    After coming to America, I discovered I had spent 22 years nodding the wrong way. This was one of several key lessons learned during a 5-day orientation for international students. We were told to count on Americans taking no for an answer, to avoid pretend modesty, and to shake our heads the right way. I took detailed notes and practiced saying yes the American way. I said yes to peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, big box stores, and driving culture. I nodded no to communal ownership, male-dominated families, and May Day parades. I spent six years learning critical thinking at a college that rejects birth control openly. Then I moved to Kentucky.

    Nine years later, I practice my American body gestures with confidence. But I believe in nodding the wrong way, at least once a week.

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  5. Maine. Why would a Kentucky girl be contemplating a summer in Maine? This girl is contemplating a summer in Maine for a break. Going to just to go and experience something new. No thoughts about continously building that resumé. No thinking or considering approval. I’m going just to go and have fun. Something I haven’t done in a while.

    I’ve never been the typical college student. I don’t drink heavily. I don’t party until 4 am. I’ve never thought about graduating with a MRS. degree. I’ve been the girl with her nose in a book. The girl who isn’t wearing make-up, hair thrown in a ponytail because she was up late reading for class. The girl who is always thinking forward, never really looking back. While there have been many benefits to my studious and future oriented ways, I have always felt that I was missing out on something. I have missed out on making mistakes. I have missed out on the opportunity to use the safety net that is the Transy Bubble. I have missed out on being young and dumb.

    This semester and this summer I’m hoping will be different. While I don’t plan on going crazy I do plan on embracing the moments I have left. I will make sheet forts and run through the fountains. I will cook a dinner for my closest friends. I will take more time to ask about people’s day and take the time to laugh about past adventures. I will hopefully be working at a summer camp in Maine teaching Yoga, Arts and Crafts or Drums. Even though I hope I can instill in these children something much greater than proficiency in these activities. I hope I can keep fueling their sense of inherent immediacy. I hope I can show them to make most of each day.I hope I can show them to take every opprotunity, but to live for their own passion. I hope I can promote in them a sense of self-awareness I seemed to have lacked. Even more importantly, I hope their energy will rub off on me and place some light back in my eyes.

    I believe there is some value in never growing all the way up, and taking a step back to Neverland every once in a while.

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  6. SEPTEMBER 26, 2013
    The internet blooms with excitement for the newest strain of tomato plant: the TomTato. Like all tomato plants, the TomTato produces tomatoes above the soil. Quite unlike the others, a TomTato will also sprout potatoes within its roots. But tomatoes don’t need gimmicks; they need gardeners.

    GARDENER
    unphased by the experience of...
    ...losing earnest months of work to an onslaught of water-starved squirrels that consume just enough of each fruit to push it to an ugly death by dehydration, (even those that manage to heal themselves and limp through to good health rarely yield half the meal they promised early in the season)

    unphased by the experiences of...
    ...underwatering, overwatering, too much or too little pruning, too high or too low ph levels in the soil, (each resulting in a crop that is less abundant, less sweet, less durable, and in so many ways less than what had been advertised)

    a gardener is marked by unrelenting optimism, born anew at the start of each season.

    SUPPORTING EXPERIENCE
    Once a bird made its home inside the basswood house I painted bright with stripes and dots to hang among the tall tomato plants which appeared happy to spend the summer growing without a single blossom to break up the forest of green leaves they produced. As the days cooled, the plants set fruit. The bird fiercely defended each tomato from parched squirrels desperate for the water within. I mount this stripe-and-dot house each year. The bird has not returned.

    QUESTION
    I asked an alum if it would be endearing to compare students to vegetables. He said, “Yeah, but you're not comparing them to just any vegetable. A TomTato is an abomination. Like Shelley's Frankenstein's monster before it, the TomTato will prove disastrous. Just like students.”

    He is clearly not a gardener and has not experienced the optimism of spring. I believe in TomTatos.

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    1. I like the optimism of your belief. I too believe in students.

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  7. It sparkles off my chest in the sunlight the same way a kids eyes light up when they get a new toy. I believe in diamonds, not because some wise soul once proclaimed that diamonds are a girl’s “best friend”, but because the necklace I wear around my neck every day and what it represents to me.
    My mom gave it to me in seventh grade, as a good luck present before I left for Florida to go to one of several national dance team championships I’ve competed in. At first, I thought it was ugly. After all, no seventh grader was interested in a gold and diamond necklace when all her friends were wearing oversized plastic bangles adorned with cheap rhinestones... God, those were awful.
    For a few years, it lived quietly in my jewelry box tangled up with the rest of my jewelry that I had no interest in wearing. I had almost forgotten about it, but then I rediscovered it two years ago. After a lot of effort and frustration, I untangled it. I’ve worn it every day since, with the exception of a few days here and there. I feel naked without it. I sit in class and twist the pendant while fumbling with the necklace to keep my hands busy; it’s become second nature to me. I don’t think about it, but I get an untold comfort knowing it’s always there. Without noticing, I often times reach the pendant up to my lips and kiss it. I guess I do it for good luck or something, I’m not sure.
    To me, it means my mom is always with me, even when she isn’t. It reminds me of how much my mom loves me, and even more so, how much I love her. She’s been the rock that I’ve leaned on for years, and the one person I can go to with anything. She always knows what to do when I’ve messed up, and her wisdom is far beyond my years and hers combined. I believe in my mom, and I believe in the comfort she gives me even when she doesn’t know it

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    1. A beautiful story. I hope you find a way to share it with your mom, Sara.

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  8. It was February 18th 2012 and I was on a four day weekend for Presidents’ Day. In the midst of senior year craziness and trying to find a college I had convinced my mom to drive to Kentucky and Georgia for a whirl-wind tour of colleges. I was excited, but nonetheless the fact I was going to Transylvania to audition for a bassoon scholarship was terrifying. No pressure at all--it’s not like I needed this scholarship to go to my dream school, it’s not like I had gone all senior year not in band, it not like I was in a strange place playing my instrument for people who didn’t know me at all.

    Yet, it seems now that that Saturday afternoon was one of the greatest days in my life. After murdering my solos I still managed to meet a TON of great people at Transy. I ate lunch with two of the most influential musical people I know and left this campus knowing that I had to return. But then the waiting came.

    So I waited. And waited. Until the day that a white envelope labeled with the official Transylvania seal on it came in the mail. I vividly remember me picking up the envelope, running to my room (not my usual place to open mail) closing the door and opening the letter. THIS was the letter I needed—not admissions, not academic scholarship—I had known where I stood for those. I also knew that this letter would single-handedly define whether or not I went to Transy. Oddly enough, when I ran out of my room hiding tears, my mom and sister seemed to know that they were tears of joy and that I had guaranteed a spot at my dream school. The music department and everyone in it shocked me when they gave me the top scholarship. I still believe that it less of my musical ability and more of my instrument and financial need that got me that scholarship—but I really don’t care what made them decide I was deserving of that scholarship.

    I believe in music. I believe that there isn’t a day in my life that music hasn’t been there—be it on the radio or someone playing it. I believe that music has been one of the few consistent things in my life and has given me more benefits than I will ever return. I believe that every musician (and non-musician) is affected every day by the influence a music—an influence that has been there every second of my life and has pushed me to achieve everything I have done thus far.

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  9. As life goes on, I find more and more each day just how important good timing is in nearly every aspect of life. This idea may be found in politics, fashion, cooking, or arguably anything. However, I want to focus more specifically on the importance of good timing in relationships.

    Whether it be my 3 day relationship in middle school or over 3 year relationship in high school, I would agree that timing played a great importance in the beginning of these relationships, as well as length. I was in the seventh grade whenever I started “dating” my first “boyfriend.” We were both in the Christian organization First Priority, so whenever he asked me to be his girlfriend I thought it was just the greatest thing ever. Of course as you now already know, this “relationship” lasted a total of 3 days.

    Surprisingly enough, I have not talked to him since middle school. On the other hand, the guy I dated for over 3 years and I still keep in contact, mainly because our mothers are still best friends. Nonetheless, it was the strangely good timing that kept us together for so long and still keeps us in touch. Although I would never date him again, I honestly have no regrets for the time spent with him.

    After that relationship ended, 2 short months later I somehow found myself in another relationship. Not that I was looking for one by any means. The last thing I wanted was another long relationship during my high school years; it just kind of happened. Timing played a great part in the beginning of the relationship, but an even greater part in the end. Our relationship lasted over 2 years, but only a month into my freshman year did we realize it wasn’t going to work for more reasons than one. Maybe it was because we had different family backgrounds. Maybe it was because his future was in the army and mine was in college. Nevertheless, it was the timing in each of our lives that have lead us to where we are today.

    Looking back, I believe each of these relationships had a purpose; that is, to show me that relationships cannot be forced, but may just happen with the right timing. I believe in sweet serendipity. I believe that timing is everything.

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  10. Every morning, when the alarm set on my phone decides it is time to rudely interrupt the only peace I get– when I have to make the terrible choice to rise up and meet the day, I remember what has really made a difference in my life: coffee. A drink of the productive gods, coffee has always given me the strength to meet life’s daily challenges, with enough energy to maintain social interaction in a somewhat acceptable level.
    I have been drinking coffee since I was eight years old, after having first tried it at age seven. My grandparents drank it every morning and night, making multiple pots throughout the day. I wanted to see what the fuss was about and made my first cup– black, absolutely no additives. You would have thought I would have gagged at having tasted something that was pretty similar to something being drained from a flower pot and then poured out of someone’s dirty gym shoe. However, I enjoyed it and became quickly hooked to it.
    Since that day, I have averaged four to seven cups a day, sometimes going as far as 10 or more cups a day closer to the end of semester. For this clear addiction of mine, I have had multiple people try and convince me to stop drinking coffee. And every time, my attempt to let my neurotransmitters reset only results in multiple headaches and an unwillingness to do anything with the world regardless of what is required of me.
    Coffee is my motivator. With it, I am able to finish writing this paper at 1:12 AM. With it, I will be able to finish reading that last 12 pages for my Interpersonal class. With it, I will be able to wake up at 7:30 in the morning and remain awake through my classes that begin at 11:00 and pretty much won’t end until 6:00. Without it, I am an uninspired, hopeless mess who could never rise to the occasion to act like a college student.
    No matter what you try to convince me, coffee will always be my drug of choice.

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    1. I too love coffee. Don't give it up! (Ok, I admit I am prejudiced...) And now I feel that I should write my own TIB about coffee...

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  11. A musical instrument can be anything that makes sound. People since early times have crafted interesting instruments and have created beautiful sounds with these instruments. People all over the world have gotten creative by using things such as buckets, brooms, PVC pipe, and many other objects to make sounds. Some of these organized groups have always fascinated me because of the things that they come up with and the sounds that they produce. Groups like STOMP and the Blue Man Group are some examples of these awesome talented people. Music can be meant for when people are feeling a certain way. It sways people in certain directions and it is often music what joins people together. Talented musicians create songs with messages towards certain ideas or political views that they have. Many bands share their emotions with the world and try to spread peace and love amongst others. A very influential person to me is Jimmy Hendrix, his music and style of guitar playing has revolutionized the way people play the guitar. He has created a new form of art and along with other bands like The Beatles and Bob Dylan, it has inspired many to make a change in this world. A famous Quote from Jimi says, “ When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Many bands talk about love, but others try to influence people to think about their society and to realize the world that they are living in. Rage Against the Machine creates their music in hopes of reaching out to the public and showing them their opinions on society.
    I believe in music. I believe in creativity. I believe that people have the right to express the way they feel and do so in an artistic manner, whether that is in the form of a book, or a poem, or a song. I believe that music holds the power to change this world and make a difference. Music is in our cultures and it helps people in good times as well as bad times.

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  12. My younger siblings and I were introduced to Queen when I was about eight years old (my brother one year younger and my sister four years younger than him). We had heard “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust” countless times before hand, but it was not until my mom bought the golden colored Greatest Hits album did we really fall in love with the band.
    Mom slipped the first disc into her CD player, adjusted the many cords it took to make our out dated minivan to play anything other than a cassette, and cranked the volume far too loud. We were heading into town to look at furniture, and during the time that we were driving, we listened to “Bohemian Rhapsody” two times. When we parked in front of the Rent-to-Own store, my brother tried to convince her to let us listen to it just one more time before walking in. Once inside, Mom went with the salesperson to buy the furniture and I was left to babysit for the five minutes it took to go over a contract.

    Babysitting was easier than normal; while we waited, we just jabbered about how great the new CD was, completely ignoring the fact that we had only listened to the first song on the album. By the time the adults were done, my sibling and I had moved on to head banging, singing, and playing air guitar. Mom explained to the confused clerk, “We were listening to Queen on the way over here.” The man, probably still in high school and too young to have grown up with the band, didn’t look any less confused but did not ask for any clarification. Mom smiled, glad that we loved the band as much as she did.

    Now, my family still looks forward to playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on car rides (we upgraded from cassette player to CD player just in time for manufacturers to start installing iPod docks in cars). We still sing along, though none of are good singers. We still air guitar during the solo, though my brother is the only one who can even hold a guitar correctly. Most importantly, my mom still laughs and smiles.

    I believe that Queen is an awesome band.

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    1. Love your story. I too "discovered" Queen in my childhood.

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  13. This I Believe...


    I believe in bruises
    The discoloration of skin
    Blue, brown, black
    Purple, pain
    Survival
    The colors that paint my body
    The colors that decorate my skin
    My Warrior paint
    The picture they paint across my skin tell my stories
    the shape of my fathers hand, imprinted from the mistakes I’ve made
    my mothers finger prints, left behind from her fear of falling
    the busted lips, bleeding from the fights taught to me by those who fear for me
    the swollen eye, closed to teach me to look before i speak
    my knees have tasted these colors
    from the times I've fallen on them to cry out in prayer
    to the times I've fallen out of balance
    My bruises come from dancing
    My bruises come from those who love me
    My bruises come from living
    I believe in bruises
    because bruises teach me to look before i speak
    to learn from my mistakes
    to catch those who are falling
    to fight for myself
    to keep my balance
    My bruises teach me to stay on my knees
    I believe in bruises
    because they make me
    me

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  14. At some point, everyone has to make a decision about what is right for them, despite what close friends or family has to say about it. This is something that has become very apparent to me since I have started college. Although my family is usually very supportive of me, they sometimes seem to try to push me in the direction of what they think I should do. They have tried to push me in the direction of which classes they think I should take or which area they think I should study. I appreciate their help and advice, but in the long run it’s up to me to decide what choices I will make during college. I believe that college is a time for change and a time for me to experience new things. I believe that it is also a time for me to decide what choices are right for me, and what path I want to take.

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