Book Time

At a very young age I developed a love affair with books. I remember going to the library by my house and checking out dozens of books, staying up late under the covers of my bed until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I think my favorite series followed the crime-solving adventures of the Boxcar Children, whom I swore would be the namesakes of my future kids. This early fascination with literature contributed to my chosen major, English. However, when I relocated to college, the library I frequented was an hour away, I had no transportation to get there, and I was too bogged down with school work to pay much attention to anything else. To make matters worse, I soon found that my English classes were more focused on writing than the deconstruction of texts, and as I gradually got use to the lack of reading in my life, I became somewhat despondent and feared I would never regain that once grand sense of contentment.

And then my Nook happened. Over Christmas, my parents got me the simplest Nook e-reader, unsure if I could get use to the decided lack of texture and feel that a real book provides. But, the convenience of having thousands of books at my disposal (through my library’s e-reader program and the Barnes and Noble site) was too fantastic to ignore.IMG_1824 In my earlier college years, I found myself scarcely reading due to a lack of accessibility to books; I now find myself struggling to get through classwork because I am so swept up in my latest novel. My long lost love for reading has returned, and I intend to cherish it til’ death do I part.

I don’t really know if this blog post has a point, but if it does, I suppose it’d be this: don’t stop doing what you love. I truly enjoy reading and when I was unable to do so, it felt as if a crucial part of myself was being repressed. Well, maybe nothing quite so dramatic, but I was still bummed out a lot. Life often gets in the way of things, but you need to make an effort to incorporate your passions into the everyday and reflect on what makes you smile. The most that can ever be done in this ephemeral world is to ensure that your time is occupied by things that contribute to your happiness.

Judgement at the Gym

With the first semester of my Junior year over, I’ve found myself 15 pounds heavier than I should be. (Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a weight-loss blog, I just need to explain a bit more.) I’ve been struggling at the beginning of this year to take charge of my situation and do what needs to be done for the sake of my health. For the past two weeks I’ve been eating better, going to the gym almost regularly, and fighting off nightly temptation. There hasn’t been much difference yet but I know my plan is in its infancy, and I’m still proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Even though I’m not always eating right and consistent exercising is a tough habit for me to start, I’ve always tried to make it to the gym  for their weekly BodyPump class. Everyone grabs a bar with various weights and does weight training and resistance-type exercises to great tracks with songs like Welcome to the Jungle and Summer of ’69. Though I love the music and the sense of accomplishment, mostly, I  just go to socialize with my friends. I have about 4 or 5 good buddies who always join in and laugh along with me when another member of our group is totally out of rhythm or unable to use much weight. And after, we all sit around eating fruit smoothies.

This past Friday, after a rockin’ session of BodyPump, instead of going right for our fruit smoothies, my friends decided it’d be good to head to the weight room and do some ab exercises. Not good. The weight room is full of ripped guys with intense grimaces and torn shirts, drinking protein shakes, talking sports, and other manly stuff. Meanwhile, my stomach is bulging, my shorts are too tight, I already worked my butt off, and the last thing I want to see is a room  full of big, bulgy men who are probably laughing at my body. We find a machine where you sit on an incline and lift yourself up to work your abs. I think people are watching. I don’t want to do it. I’m nervous I won’t be able to lift myself up and people will laugh. I’m scared and uncomfortable.

But, that’s not the worst of it. A few minutes in to our routine (rotating between ourselves) a beefed up guy in a sweaty, dark blue muscle shirt approaches. He briskly asks us when we’ll be done because he has been cycling between machines and needs this one. Right away. We all look at each other, then back at him to politely explain how we are a group who all want to take turns. He huffs and puffs and gets into it about being rude that we are going to monopolize the machine. “Excuse me, the gym is packed, you’ve never encountered the problem of someone using your machine before? With all the steroids you’re on, you can probably stand to miss one rep on this machine. Why don’t you go flex for yourself in the mirror instead?” He left, but kept giving us death stares while on another piece of equipment.

But, once my anger towards the insensitive jerk abated, I felt nervous about using the ab machine. I obviously wasn’t in shape enough to use it (like Muscles McGee), let alone be in the same room with this intimidating equipment.

Isn't this intimidating? But, definitely not enough to cause a scene over...

Isn’t this frightening? But, definitely not worth causing a scene over…

I politely passed on my opportunity to use it, and after confused and slightly concerned looks from my friends, we went to get our smoothies.

Now for reflection time. I feel like I am perfectly comfortable with who I am, but sometimes, when confronted with things I don’t like about myself (my fitness level), I get nervous and upset.  However, this situation should not have merited those feelings. Why did I feel so uncomfortable? Who really cares what I do? There probably wasn’t even anyone noticing me! I need to get out of my head, accept all of myself, and be fearless in the pursuit of being “true to myself”. Largely meaning doing what’s right only for me. Heck, I’m the girl who took pictures of the artwork in the lobby! I’ve been trying my best to be healthy! And it’s just a stupid machine! While I may have failed in the moment, looking back on the experience has shown me that I really shouldn’t care about my weight, fitness level, or bulked up gym comrades. All that matters is how I perceive myself, and the rest of the world can readjust itself to suit my perceptions.

IMG_1783 I know, I’m basically a rock star.

Artwork and a Carefree Attitude

I was walking to one of my Communications classes in the Art-Sociology building when I made it to the lobby and noticed a couple sculptures made out of cardboard, littered over a little seating section. Everyone was looking at them in admiration and passing on by, their eyes rooted to the pieces until their feet carried them on, but luckily I had to wait outside for a bit and got to enjoy them longer than the passersby.

I have seen a few things like this over my years at Maryland, big, wooden boxes, large and colorful flowers, and my favorite of all — sheep! I was walking past that same building about a year ago and saw wooden sheep with cotton ball bellies in front of the building doing various activities. One was riding a bike and another was attempting to retrieve a kite from a tree, in what looked like a pretty unsuccessful attempt. Everyone was laughing and pointing at those sheep, and their presence completely brightened my day! But, I was too much of a coward to take pictures of them.

I know it seems lame, it’s just a picture, some other people even had their phones out snapping images. But, I just wasn’t comfortable going against the norm of pretending not to care and just going about my day. Yet, in reality, I really loved seeing those sheep and I instantly regretted  not taking any pictures of them. I let the stupidest bit of stupid insecurity hold me back in an effort to not seem enthusiastic, how most kids want to appear. Well, that’s stupid. And I’ll tell you what, I took pictures of those sculptures. People looked at me a bit, but I truly didn’t mind, they just wish they had the courage to care about something and make it known.

ImageImage<– I really like this wolf, I think he is so cute and possible something that I could figure out how to make.

They had a lot of other things, but I didn’t really care to take pictures of them. I like the gramophone though –>

I think the two most popular were the guy in the nifty orange costume and the Maryland Terrapin. I am so proud to have gotten pictures of both. I feel a bit ridiculous using the word “proud”, but I accomplished something and got over my insecurity, and now I have these wonderful memories to reflect on. Now I can only hope the sheep make a reappearance.

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Tea Time!

Most every day I wake up at 7:30 am, sometimes I attend class, sometimes I stare at a computer screen for hours, and some days I just relax in my room. However I start my day, I always try to do it with a nice, hot cup of tea.

I have a kitty cat mug which I’ve used since childhood, a scrabble mug with my first initial on it and a double letter score in the bottom, and a Kenneth the Page mug that my best friend got me for Christmas, exclaiming “I don’t drink hot liquids of any kind, that’s the Devil’s temperature.” Then there’s the tea itself, regular Lipton, Green Tea, and an Acai Berry whose aroma is intoxicating. Smelling these teas in my wonderfully patterned mugs gives me a happiness that is hard to describe. I know that whatever the day will bring, my tea time will remain the same and calm me as to what is ahead.

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(I wish my cat mug was more like this…)

It’s something simple, having a drink. But when I drink tea I’m not on the sugar high of an energy drink or getting burdened down by the sluggishness of soda, I’m simply reminded of the history of tea which gives me a connection to the world. I remember the old Chinese remedies that incorporate tea and how it is a universal drink that breeds sophistication and class. Or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself. No matter the reality and true simplicity of the drink, I am free to explore my worldly connection, my thirst for something beyond a liquid, and my morning.

Beating the Winter Blues

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Your time spent in college is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. With new friends, new experiences, and new surroundings there is always something to be excited about. However, at certain times of the semester those wonderful times can seem far removed. Whether it’s the winter chill, intensive projects, or a bout of homesickness there are always times when that happiness seems far removed. This blog is here to showcase the wonders of college life (minus the wild nights and illegal frills) and prove that joy is ever-present, even if slightly veiled.