Saturday, November 27, 2010


Today, my sister in law and I went over to my grandmother's for brunch. The original plan was for us to go over for dinner while a bunch of my extended family was going to be there as well, but they decided to come over on Sunday instead and my dad and I are leaving tomorrow to drive back to Virginia, so we decided to do brunch this morning so that I could see my grandma and mother while I'm in town.

My grandma's has become the meeting place since it's not possible to go over to my mother's. My mom spends the weekends with my grandma, so it usually makes sense for everyone to gather there. 

I hadn't seen my mom or grandma since I was up in PA this summer for Lynn's wedding. I hadn't talked to my mom since I set up a three way call with her and my brother on her birthday this summer.

The visit could have gone a lot worse, but I'll share some of the warm and fuzzy details with you.

When we got there, we got the customary hug and kiss from my grandma. My mom emerged about five minutes later to say hi. She gave me a typical fake, cheery greeting, hug, kiss on the cheek, and asked me, "Oh, so your hair's still long?" ...... Uhhh first of all, except for a short time in 7th grade that I deem a huge mistake, I've always had long hair. Second, how can you not know what your daughter looks like? How can you become so uninvolved in your child's life that you don't know about such a simple thing as their appearance? 

My grandma makes delicious Belgian waffles in an ancient waffle iron. She knows how much I like them, so she will usually try to have me over for brunch when I visit. While we were waiting in between waffles, my mom kept getting up to do dishes instead of talking to us. Even when she was sitting at the table, she wouldn't contribute much to the conversation or she talked about impersonal things. She didn't bother to ask me anything related to my life. I haven't talked to her at length in almost a year and she didn't have one question about work, school, boys. She did ask me how Lynn is, which is generally nice, but hurtful when she can't even ask me how I am.

The final straw with my mom was when my grandma was asking me about and talking to me about school. She was half way through asking me a question when my mom stood up, completely interrupting my grandma, and asked, "Is everyone done?" before grabbing my empty plate. My grandma still had half a waffle on her plate, clearly not done. My grandma was too polite to say anything to her about her rudeness and I was too much in shock to speak up. I sat there once it sunk in, face getting red, eyes wide, and tongue bitten. I don't understand what makes her so upset/jealous/worked up about me being in school that causes her to act so childishly. She's a mother, shouldn't she be proud and supportive?

And she accuses me of being rude. While I largely disagree with her, where the hell does she think I get it from? How could I not act so disrespectfully when she treats everyone like this?

Friday, November 26, 2010


"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them."

-George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Burst of writing before break

I am in the midst of writing my last paper of the semester. I stayed home from work today so that I could work on it all day and make sure it's finished before I leave tomorrow to go up to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. It's coming along at a slower pace than I'd like, mostly because I'm having a hard time focusing. I have a lot of other things to take care of tonight (like packing, cooking, and cleaning), so I'm not sure how late I'll wind up staying up tonight, but I couldn't help but be reminded of a few lines I wrote one night as an undergrad:

"There's something about staying up all night writing a paper that is so surreal.
It's the mingling of the words and the night that is so subtle and supple.
I would do it more often if it didn't hurt so damn much."

When the world is quieter, it's easier for me to focus, fingers flying and eyes locked on the screen. Even though it's more painful by far, there is something about the night time hush that is conducive to writing and thinking. The increased pressure of less and less time forces me to bridge the connections and string the words along. It's satisfying to see how much ground you can cover in so little time. Once I get past feeling tired and can ignore my human urge to sleep, I feel the skin sink into my eye sockets, the bright light from my monitor stings my bloodshot eyes, but the synapses are well trained to prickle and respond to the strain. 

Pennsylvania is on the horizon. I will be seeing my mother on Saturday, luckily in the company of many of my relatives. It really doesn't matter how I act or what I say to her, I will always be the rude, ungrateful daughter. She is quickly becoming a stranger to me though, so what she thinks of me means less and less. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday morning inspriation

"That is why we need to travel. If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don't let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take. But if you take them, you will never regret your choice. To be sure, there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in an icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come, so too will they fall away. In the end, you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much clearer, so much happier, and so much better a person that all the risk and hardship will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge and wisdom you have gained."

-Letters to My Son by Kent Nerburn, emphasis mine.

Thank you, serendipity, for bringing this to my attention. This book is officially now on my "to read" list.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Link love

I'm in the midst of winding down my first semester of library school, so forgive me if I have few words to spare lately.

Some great things I found around the internets:

"Having a Coke with You" by Frank O'Hara I haven't read much of O'Hara's work, but I really enjoyed this poem. I'll have to pick up a collected works soon so I can read more.

Blekko A search engine that allows users to tag search results. I've been knee deep in learning about folksonomies and user tagging for a paper for one of my classes and a fellow librarian passed this one along to me.

Wordle A great, simple, and customizable tag cloud generator.

"Healthified" Creamed Corn I've been trying to decide what to make for Thanksgiving at my brother and sister in law's. After getting a list of the spread so far, I noticed a serious lack of corn, so I think I'm going to make this creamed corn in addition to a pumpkin pie.

Librarian Wardrobe If you work in a library, snap a picture of your library duds and submit it to this Tumblr. Such a fun idea.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's in a name?

The other day, one of my coworkers called me Saree. I smiled politely and exclaimed, "Wow, I haven't heard that in a long time. My mom calls me that."

I was named after the main character in the book A Little Princess. When my mother was sick with mono as a teenager, my grandmother read her A Little Princess to keep her entertained. My mother wound up loving the story and exclaimed, "If I ever have a daughter, I'm going to name her Sarah."

The name Sarah isn't very conducive to nicknames. Since it's only two syllables, it's hard to shorten into a catchy monosyllable that rolls off the tongue. The only real nicknames I've had in life were created by expanding my name into Sarahbell (as my best friend, Lynn, does), calling me by my first and middle names, or by changing the last syllable into something else (as my mom does with Saree).

When I was really little, I used to hate my name. I wanted to be named Crystal. I also really wanted to have long, blonde hair like Barbie. Fortunately, my tastes have vastly changed since then. When I finally accepted my first name and coloring, I moved on to hating my middle name. I thought it was too hokey. I began warming up to it when I realized the aesthetic qualities of my initials and using my middle initial when I wanted to feel older and more important. Now, I kind of like my middle name. My first and middle names together have a nice, folksy feel that lends well to my personality.

To my knowledge, no one else has ever called me Saree, up until my coworker this week, other than my mother. When she used to call me, she would always start the conversation with, "Saree? Hi, it's Mom." Likewise, she always starts phone conversations with my brother with, "E? Hi honey, it's Mom." I never particularly liked the name; it sounds a little childish and generally just a little off to me, but that's what I grew up with, so it just became the norm. I don't bat an eye when my mom calls me Saree, but when my coworker called me that, it definitely gave me pause and reminded me that it's one of the few terms of endearment my mom has ever showed toward me.

Sarah's such a popular name that it would be neat to be a little unique, but I've come to terms with not being one of the nicknamed people. I did; however, find out today that Sadie is a traditional nickname for Sarah. How did I get through a quarter of my life without knowing this?! I don't know how I feel about the name Sadie though. All I can think about is the Beatles' song "Sexy Sadie." Plus, I don't think I can really try and push a nickname for myself after 20+ years. It's generally something that you have to establish early on in life.

Also, may I also mention briefly that I bristle when people leave off the "h" in Sarah? There is a huge distinction between Sara and Sarah. I try not to take it as personally as I do, but being a Sarah, I know that I am not a Sara and do not want to be mistaken for one. Nothing against Saras, I just know that my personality aligns more with the Hs than the As. I'm pretty sure you have to be a Sarah or Sara to really understand what I'm talking about (or know some of both), but just believe me when I say: take the Sarah/Sara distinction seriously, my friends.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn leaves and rotting apples

By Kew Gardens, from Flickr
While walking to work this morning, I passed under a ginkgo tree and waded through the distinctive bright yellow, fan shaped leaves that had fallen to the ground. They followed me, scattered about the sidewalk and road, for a block or two before they tapered off. As soon as I saw the unique leaves, I smiled and whispered, "Ginkgoes!" out loud. I sadly can't distinguish most trees from one another. I've tried many times, but the information just can't find a place to stick in my memory and the knowledge quickly fades away. Ginkgo trees, however, have managed to stay with me.

Before my parents divorced when I was eight, we all lived together in a huge, white Victorian house on three and half acres in Pennsylvania. My brother and I ran wild in the hilly yard, climbing every tree we could and breaking out in poison ivy on what seemed like a daily basis. The furry ropes of poison ivy that ran up and down many of the older trees did not do much to deter us from setting our feet on the bark and swinging ourselves up into the boughs. I cannot recount the majority of the tree species that were in my childhood yard, but I can tell you about three: the ginkgo, the Japanese maple, and the apple trees.

The ginkgo largely went unnoticed by me until autumn.We had a huge ginkgo tree that was unclimbable, due to its lack of low branches, that shaded part of the driveway close to the house. The color and the shape of its leaves made them stand out from all the other leaves that floated to the ground. They were not brightly colored or shiny like the other leaves. They were a matte pastel orange. You'd think that their comparative dullness would make them less noticeable, but the creamy orange color was always a nice change from the piles of showy leaves. I always felt compelled to pick up a leaf or two and finger the paper like texture, feeling the tiny raised veins, all running in the same direction. Ginkgoes are pretty robust and capable of thriving in areas of low air quality. Perhaps their quiet endurance is what attracts me to them so much.

By autan, from Flickr
The Japanese maple was in our front yard, sitting on the crest of a hill, right next to the road, and very close to our front porch. It was an excellent climbing tree because of its smooth bark and many low, well spaced branches. The leaves were always bright red, not just in the fall, and, for that, I liked its fiery independence. It was my go to climbing tree because of its close proximity to the house and because it had one thick branch that jutted out to the side that was perfect to swing on. The ground below was on a decline due to the hill, so when I was young, I could grab on the branch, arms stretched out, and let myself hang with my feet dangling as I swung back and forth. I remember the bark grew darker and smoother on that branch from my grubby, kid hands after a spring and summer of swinging back and forth.

Shortly before my parents separated, my mom began working part time, which left my brother and me alone after school for a few hours. One autumn afternoon, I ran out to the front yard with my brother after throwing our backpacks down inside and headed for the Japanese maple. I was dolled up in a dress and had on dress shoes. My brother stopped me and asked me if I should change first before climbing the tree. I looked down at my outfit, knowing that he was right, but shrugged my shoulders and said that I'd be fine. My recklessness made me bold and I swung myself up into the tree like an expert, gripping the well known branches and placing my feet into the joints that were formed where two branches met. The bottom of my shoes were slick and didn't have much traction. High up in the boughs, my footing slipped and as gravity pulled me down, I blacked out. I woke up, face up on the grass, with my brother, white as a sheet, kneeling over me. I have no idea how long I was out for, but as far as I can remember, I was largely bruise free. I stood up, all in one piece, and my brother and I unconsciously took the sibling silence oath and never spoke of the incident to ourselves or to our parents. The sheer terror of the accident kept us mum. Thinking about the amount of luck involved in me being able to walk away from that incident makes my brain hurt. I could have fallen into the street and gotten hit by a car, I could have broken my neck and been paralyzed, I could have, I could have...

By canong2fan, from Flickr
Farther away from the house, higher up on the hill, was a row of apple trees. Most years, we didn't do anything with the apples. We just let them fall to the ground and be eaten by the many deer that roamed through our yard. Walking around these trees in the fall was like walking through a mine field. Rotting apples were incredibly slippery if stepped on and piles of little deer turds were littered throughout. One year, my dad did gather up boxes and boxes of the apples and made applesauce with them. I have no idea what kind of apples they were, but it was the tangiest, most mouth watering applesauce I've ever had. After being raised on jarred, store bought applesauce, I had no idea that apples could taste that way.

In the beginning of October, my best friend, Lynn, and I went apple picking in Charlottesville. The plan was to pick enough to make an apple pie and some applesauce. After partaking in apple cider and apple cider doughnuts, we entered the orchard and wandered down a pathway between two rows of apple trees. My nose perked up and picked up the familiar scents of the orchard. Lynn noticed the perplexed look on my face and she knew exactly what I was trying to place. "It smells just like at my old house. All the rotting apples in the fall smelled exactly how it smells here." She recognized the smell as well, having traipsed across my yard with me on a number of occasions. I had forgotten that pervasive sweet, earthy smell over the years, but in a matter of seconds, I had returned to my childhood, skipping and jumping over brown, mushy, wrinkly apples, on my way to the next tree.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The two extremes of parenting

"You're a horrible daughter." -My mother

"You're my favorite daughter." -My father

Friday, November 12, 2010


My darling friend, Rebecca (hands down my favorite lesbian), had her birthday yesterday. Because I had class last night (boo), we decided to meet up for lunch so I would wish her a happy birthday on her birthday. Before heading to Harrison St for noms, I presented her with her gift. Now, I like to pride myself on my gift giving abilities. When I have the time and the money and know a person well, I can usually hunt down something that will be meaningful for the recipient. When I first saw the painting that I got her, I automatically knew it was the one, so I was practically jumping up and down with anticipation to give it to her. Without prompting, she assumed the gift receiving pose: hands out and eyes closed.

I have bittersweet memories associated with that pose. Growing up, my mother would always make my brother and me do that before receiving gifts. "Close your eyes and open up your hands!" It became a joke and we would start saying it before she could, mimicking her intonations and making it singsong-y. When we were older, my brother and I turned the tables and would make my mom do the same pose before we would give her her gifts. That same phrase echoed through my head as soon as Rebecca did it, but I bit back the words.

For all I know, my mother still insists on closed eyes and open hands. I say "for all I know" because somewhere along the line over the past two years, my mother decided to stop giving me gifts. I didn't receive so much as a phone call from her on my birthday this year or last. There's something about having your own mother, the very one who birthed you, not give a shit about your birthday, not acknowledge your passage of years, that really never stops smarting. I am not a materialistic person and so the physical stuff isn't the issue here. It's the thought, the caring, the natural inclination to express your love for someone on a meaningful day that makes my mother's lack so incredibly hurtful.

Last Christmas, after witnessing all the gifts given to my brother and after giving all of the homemade gifts that I spent hours on creating, I was given a card and a box of chocolates from my mother. While I was tearing the seal on the card, my mother interjected, "The reason there's not anything in your card is because I didn't know if you wanted cash or check." Funny, she's never bothered to worry about such a trivial thing before. I blinked a few times and forced out a meager, "Oh... it doesn't matter." What I really wanted to say was, "No, Mom. You don't have to lie to me to make both of us feel better about the fact that the real reason there's nothing in this card is because you weren't going to give me anything. You feel guilty for not giving me anything because of all the things I just gave you, all of the things that I spent so much time on, that I made sacrifices for. You wrongfully thought that I am some monster, that I don't give a shit about you, and that I wasn't going to give you anything this year. Instead of apologizing, you're lying." I bit my tongue and let the mishap go.

Instead of blowing off Mother's Day and her birthday this year like I so badly wanted to, I sent gifts (that I was never thanked for) and had a three way phone call with her and my brother. Instead of calling her out for missing my birthday two years in a row, I maintained the silence. Instead of letting the bitterness overwhelm me, I bestow gifts onto those who matter to me. I know the importance of letting someone know that I am so happy and grateful that they were born because I am not always that lucky. Instead of continuing the cycle of virulence that my mother has started, I am making a clean break.

No ma'am, I will not participate in your pity party. I am donning my party dress and celebrating instead.

Link love

Some awesome things I found around the internet this week:

F Yeah Gay Vintage: These vintage photos will give you warm and fuzzies for sure.

Animated Cardigan: My college roommate started a style blog. I've always admired her bold use of color and I'm so happy to see her in more than just t-shirts.

HTML, CSS, & Javascript tutorials: I've been dabbling in code lately and intend to peruse these tutorials from Google.

Spell Czech t-shirt: I studied abroad in Prague for two weeks this past summer. So many bad check/Czech jokes were made with some of the girls I befriended on the trip that I couldn't help but crack a smile when I saw this shirt.

Susan Najarian's Etsy shop: One of my best friends in Richmond turned another year older this week and I was lucky enough to find the perfect birthday gift, an encaustic painting, from this woman's Etsy shop. So simple, clean, and beautiful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Every year, my place of work has a charitable giving campaign. They make donation super easy by allowing us to have a certain amount automatically deducted from our paychecks and sent to our designated charities. Ever since I started working here, I have donated money to charities through this campaign. The decision to give was not a difficult one to make; deciding which charities to give my donations to was the agonizing part. There are so many worthy organization out there, I could easily give away my entire paycheck and more to help their causes. I know the importance of and life changing affects charity has firsthand, so it is incredibly difficult for me to say no. I feel pangs of guilt for all the causes that I am unable to support that I wholeheartedly believe in. I am but one person, so all I can do is what I am able to. The first year, I gave money to the Central Virginia Food Bank and the Richmond SPCA. Last year, I gave to the Humane Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council. This year, I decided to once again donate to the Natural Resources Defense Council and chose Water for People as my second organization.

The NRDC speaks to my many concerns for the environment. They are incredibly effective as they have lawyers and scientists working for them and advocating for the environment. Water for People is one of many clean water organizations that assist impoverished countries obtain safe water and create sustainable ways to maintain a clean water supply. This cause is a new one on my radar, thanks in large part to a friend of mine who listened to the following talk at TEDx and shared it with me:

I was astounded at how much of a crisis we have on our hands concerning water. I feel as though we have little hope of truly helping these countries in both the long and short terms if we don't start at the very basics: clean water.

Donating to charities is just one of the many ways I am striving to make my actions match my values. I am not able to give much, but what I am able to give is a hell of a lot better than nothing at all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How should I begin

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

-T. S. Eliot, The Long Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

On daylight saving time and seasons

You'd think that dealing with the time change year after year for my whole life would take away the novelty of the whole ordeal, but no. Each and every year, falling back an hour feels like I fall into a well. I appreciate the light in the morning, I do. I'm not a very graceful or quick riser, so the intense sunlight is the extra kick in the pants I need to get out of bed. It's the leaving work at night in the pitch black that bothers me. I have no windows in my office, so I'm already disconnected with the outside world for the large majority of nine hours a day. Not being able to witness the official closing ceremony of the day, the sunset, gives me an uneasy feeling. Not that I manage to sit and watch the event every night, but I'm usually able to register it unconsciously from having windows in front of me or slowly noticing the increase in shadows around me. There's something about not having a connection with the natural progression of the sun that always leaves a jarring feeling when I step outside of work into darkness. "A whole day, gone? How is that possible? I didn't see the sun go down." I guess it's the whole biological clock thing. I associate the passing of time with the progression of the sun and when I don't see the sun making its arc all day, I internally assume that time has slowed in some fashion and that outside looks the same as when I last left it at 8 or 9 am. Additionally, the dark is so uninviting and I tend to throw the towel in on the day. After work plans are barely even considered since it feels so late. Sigh. Give me a few more weeks and I'll begrudging accept the time change. My internal, unconscious underpinnings will make their adjustments and I'll stop bitching about the inevitable. This happens every year, self. Get with the program.

If you know me at all, one of the first things you quickly learned about me is that I absolutely hate cold weather. Give me 80+ degrees and I am in paradise. This fall has been a rather warm one in Virginia and for this, I am very grateful. (Regardless, my eczema has flared up horribly already and makes me worry about how bad this winter will be.) I just can't hack feeling cold. I feel as though I physically, mentally, and emotionally shrink. I know, at least, that my fingers do noticeably shrink, but I'm afraid the rest of it is just psychological. Deep down, I associate cold weather and snow with Pennsylvania, tapping into my reservoirs of hatred and fear, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I react the way that I do to winter.

Today, though, I feel very proud of myself and am not bothered quite so much by the chill in the air. The reason I feel a little bit better is because of my snazzy outfit. I've been paying more attention to what I wear lately because I want to look more professional at work and because I noticed that a lot of my clothes are incredibly old. I've managed to go shopping a few times over the last few months to update and replace my wardrobe a bit. So, I've been experimenting with my clothes more and today I think I'm going to count as a win. I'm wearing a very old printed dress (from 2004!) that I love, but because I hate being cold, I usually avoid wearing dresses or skirts in the winter. I came up with a solution for this: tights. Duh. How did I not think of that earlier!? Oh right, because I absolutely hated tights when I was little and I've had a deep emotional scar associated with them ever since. Well, I gave them another try and I must say, I've been missing out. On top of my dress and brown tights, I'm wearing my extra long, navy cardigan to pull it all together. I'm cozy and well dressed: the best of both worlds. Maybe I'll snap a picture later if I get a chance/remember. I must add that I drew my inspiration from the dapper ladies at What Would a Nerd Wear and Kendi Everyday. They both recently wore printed dresses with long cardigans, reminding me that I have similar pieces. Now I just need a skinny belt and boots to pull off the look. Errrr baby steps, baby steps.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sally Mann exhibit coming to the VMFA!

I found out today that a Sally Mann photography exhibit is coming to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts here in Richmond. It opens on Saturday and will be here until January 23. Color me all shades of excited!

I wish I could remember exactly when and how I stumbled upon Mann's works, but sadly cannot. I do remember that I found one of her books of photographs either in a bookstore or a library as a teenager, found the nearest perch, and sat spellbound while I turned the pages, absorbing each and every photograph. I've remembered her name ever since, which is saying something since I'm usually pretty bad with associating names with works. I love the range of emotions she manages to capture coupled with the aged and worn feel of the photographs. The results are haunting.

The VMFA has really beefed up their exhibits since they reopened a few months. I'm so glad Richmond's attracting such great work. My dad and I are already excited about the rare Picasso show coming in February. There's really nothing better than walking in a trance from piece to piece, mouth agape, tuning out everything else, and feeling the push and pull of connection with the artist.

Monday, November 8, 2010

High school flashbacks

Two news items this past week and weekend drew my attention back to my hometown, high school, and a few characters that I had met while I was there.

I read that a guy in my graduating class was stalking and harassing his exgirlfriend by calling her over 80 times a day. The girl's name doesn't ring a bell for me, but she wised up and called the cops on him. When the cops went to his house to arrest him, they found pot and thousands of dollars on him. Then they proceeded to search his home and found large jars of pot, packets of heroin, even more money, and handguns. So, needless to say, he got charged for more than just stalking. I looked at his picture in my senior yearbook and I remember him as one of the nicer punk kids who was well meaning enough.

The second story is the one that's been on my mind a lot more. I found out that a guy that was in the class below me died in a car accident. He had been missing for a few days prior, so it looks as though the crash occurred days ago and no one noticed it until Saturday. This is completely possible as the town I grew up in is rather rural and a lot of the roads go through unpopulated, wooded areas. They're curvy and don't have many guardrails. His car apparently struck a tree and got thrown into a ditch, so it wasn't visible from the road. The thought that he just sat there, dead or dying, for days is the most haunting part of this story for me. He was involved in a car accident a few years ago where the driver, a guy that was in my graduating class, died. He survived that crash only to find himself in the same fatal situation. I did not know him well by any means, but two girls I knew dated him. My most direct contact I had with him was when I interviewed him for my junior yearbook. I was in charge of the life after 3 page where we highlighted some of the extracurricular things the students did that had nothing to do with school. He skateboarded, so I talked to him a few times and got a picture from him. He was a nice guy, a jokester type that was the center of attention. Smart, but unmotivated. A pothead and partier, a dreamer that had an infectious personality. When I looked in my senior yearbook for his picture under the juniors, he wasn't there. I looked at the not pictured section and his name wasn't there either. This really bothers me because I was the yearbook editor my senior year. How did he get overlooked?

My senior year of high school was hell. I overloaded my schedule with excessive AP classes and topped it off with being the yearbook editor. I was working through a depression that had boiled up that summer and was incredibly bitter and jaded. Yearbook was a pet project and I came at it with an obsessive vigor. I spent hours upon hours perfecting the layout and stressing over wording. I became rather close with the yearbook advisor only to have bitter words exchanged and the relationship smashed. I ultimately gave up on the yearbook once I graduated. I had grand plans to go in and finish it up that summer so that I could give my seal of approval on all the pages, but the yearbook advisor stopped me in my tracks. She called my house one night when I wasn't home, demanding my mother tell her where I was and why I hadn't been in to work on the yearbook recently. My mother related the conversation to me the next day. I was appalled at how rude that woman was to my mother. I had gotten a summer job that was taking up a lot of my time, but the reason I was away was because my grandfather had just died unexpectedly and I had gone to West Virginia to pay my respects. The next day, I barged into that woman's office, bubbling with anger, and told her off. She had no right to be that rude to my mother, I demanded she apologize to her, and I let her know that I wasn't being a lazy ass after all, I was simply being a good granddaughter. When she started crying and apologizing to me, it was one of the most powerful feelings I have ever felt. Little me had stood up for myself and I brought a much feared, grown woman to her knees. I never went back.

By a funny course of events, I was dating the next year's yearbook editor and a few months later, while I was in my freshman year of college, he asked me to write the introduction to my yearbook. He didn't think it was right for anyone else to write it since I was the editor and he knew how much effort I put into that book. I was still incredibly bitter about the whole thing and got a horrible taste in my mouth when I thought about everything that had occurred, but still, I agreed because I knew that he was right and I figured this would be a good way to form some kind of closure. So, in my dorm room, I thought about the movie theme we had for the yearbook and the absolute hell I went through in high school. I wrote out the following introduction:

"John Barth was quoted in saying that 'everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.' Each of our lives has played out, like a motion picture, for all to see. Every film has been full of originality and depth and, even though admission may be free of charge, these real life stories are by far the most inspirational and worthy of our observation. While the steady beat of life continued to play as the soundtrack, we discovered that the starring role is none other than ourselves and the plot is our very own reality.

High school was just the beginning of each of our life stories. The experience gave us the ability to not only discover our strengths and weaknesses, but to utilize resources that improved upon both. For the Class of 2004, this year dictated the closing lines to the scene of adolescent life and offered significant foresight into the next. The robes were worn, the tassels were turned, the caps were thrown, and the documentary of life continued on. There will be much more to learn and many more moments to treasure. However, the bittersweet year of 2004 will be immortalized for most of the seniors, looked back upon as the time when they were old enough to endure responsibility, yet young enough to accept dependence. This moment of teetering on the edge of adulthood found a special place within all the graduates, reassured by the fact that no matter which roles their classmates pursue, they are bound together by their common roots at [Pennsylvania High School.]"

I can still pick up on the bitter undertones and where I carefully choose my words, but all in all, I'm proud of what my 18 year old self slapped together after all that high school threw at me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A more thorough introduction

My name is Sarah and I am a twentysomething living in Richmond, VA. I decided to write this blog for a variety of reasons.

My main reason for writing is because I have a story to tell. I would ultimately like to pen a memoir and I decided that getting my thoughts down in a blog would help the whole process along. Many of the things I will be writing about have not been voiced to anyone and have barely been acknowledged by my own self. Writing this blog will help me find my voice and allow me to get back into the swing of writing, a craft I have let slide over the years.

My story is one of squalor. I grew up with a mother who is a hoarder and who has undiagnosed mental issues. We had and continue to have a very dysfunctional relationship. The years of hardship and humiliation I spent with her ultimately motivated me to move away from my home in Pennsylvania and to attend college in Virginia.

On the flip side of tragedy, I have begun a new life in Virginia and would also like to use this blog as a place to sound off about my interests. I strive to better myself everyday and I would like to communicate a message of hope for those who have gone through or are currently going through similar problems. I would not wish the loneliness and hopelessness I felt during those years of my life on anyone.

Deep breaths now, yes?

Currently, I am working full time at an academic library and going to grad school full time. I'm studying information sciences so that I can become a full fledged, sexy librarian. I have an adorable Siamese cat that keeps me entertained and a cast of friends that never disappoint. I have plenty of romantic mishaps. I am a pesco-vegetarian and I love to cook and bake. I can play a pretty bad ass game of Scrabble. Thanks to my artist father, I have a good eye for the aesthetically pleasing and I try to expose myself to art on a regular basis. I strive to be eco-friendly and to live a minimalist life. Experiences mean more to me than stuff. I love to travel both internationally and domestically. I like to go out and enjoy this city I now call home as much as possible: riding my bike, drinking, dancing, engaging in shenanigans. All of these things that make up my life are up for grabs for topics I'll be writing about.

Even though I have a dark past, I try to live for the present and plan for the future. Likewise, this blog will be a mix of the past, present, and future. I surely hope it will be an enjoyable ride.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Informal introduction

Well, hey there, big ol' world. I've been feeling the pull to write to you and to let out a lot of what I've kept in these past twenty odd years of my life. I hope that you will make my efforts worth while and that I can find more calm and peace through my time spent punching at keys.