Category Archives: Thoughts

A love letter to Papa

I don’t really remember when it was that you first told me that you read my blog, but it meant the world to me that it meant something to you.  Your comments are my favorite.

It was like when we first got you a facebook, and you went crazy.  You were connected to your kids and your grandkids in a way that you never had before, because even though we were spread all over the country (and at times, the world), you were in our lives.

I chuckled and told my mom about that one time when you emailed me because you saw a facebook photo of a guy with his arm around me.  You just wanted to know who he was.  I smiled because it was just an old friend on graduation day, but I loved how much you cared.  And trust me, when there finally is a guy who’s putting his arm around me, you’ll be one of the first to know.

Remember when we went to the Father/Daughter Ball together?  Dad took Mychelle, and I had the pleasure of being escorted by lovely grandfather.  I wore my red prom dress.  We danced, even though it made you really uncomfortable.  I always felt a little bad because I thought I pushed you too much to do it.  But you danced wonderfully, and I was proud to have you as my partner.

When I was a little kid, I always liked listening to you talk at holiday gatherings.  I actually preferred it to playing with the other kids, unless you were talking insurance.  That conversation always bored me, but other than that, I liked what you said.

I didn’t say much when I would listen, because I was mostly just learning and didn’t feel like I had much to contribute.  But as I got older, I started talking too.  I took so much pride in the fact that you actually listened to what I had to say and considered it valuable information.  You can always tell when people listen and don’t really care, but you did.  And even more than that, you listened like you thought what I had to say was intelligent.

I feel like that was a transitioning phase.  When I was really young, you always played board games with Andrew and me.  I schemed 4 way trades in Monopoly, inevitably taking advantage of Oma who always seemed willing to trade 2 railroads for something like Baltic Ave to please her placating granddaughter.  We played Flinch and Clue and Junior Bridge too.  You and Andrew always won the games, but they were fun.

So when I was little, we played games.  When I got older, I listened to you talk.  Then we talked together.

When I heard you were sick today, I was very scared.  But the truth is, almost more than any hurt you were going through at the time, I was thinking about the day (whenever that day is) that you will go and literally hang out with Jesus for the first time.  It didn’t mask any pain or concern about you at the hospital or how Oma was doing, but it was a transcending peace.

I’m by no means ready for you to leave me.  I don’t think I’ll ever will be either, but it was still a really cool and powerful thought.

I’ve had the great pleasure of being born into a family where I’ve had two relational grandfathers.  I remember talking to my mom about what kind of pastor you are.  She always emphasized how good you are with visitation and showing your love to people.

I see that in how you take care of Oma, always putting her first.  Whoever I marry is going to be a lot like you.

I love you Papa. Please get well soon.

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Metaphoric showdown: chin-up > pull up

With the ability to do what I want when I want to, the Paris white board pressure’s (nearly) dissipated, which has been not in the least assisted by that fact that I’m back in Indiana.

I have enough proof to indeed verify that there are folks here who could properly deliver their props to Dolores Umbridge herself.  However, this is the real exception in this community.

Honest to goodness, I’ve known hundreds of truly kindred folk from all kinds of places, but generally speaking, people are more friendly in the midwest than anyplace I’ve ever been in the world.

The security guards at the federal courthouse here in town acted just like what you’d think your grandpa would be like if he was hanging out with his old college buddies, the lady sitting next to me in the lobby at the pizza shop told me all about what her Fridays are like at work, and some stranger (noting that I was sitting alone, not drinking my coffee, had no work in front of me, made eye-contact with everyone walking into Starbucks, and was dressed in a non-dressy, but clearly showing that I really care Saturday morning outfit) took to openly teasing me about my job interview.

People do that kind of thing here, and I love that.

I haven’t the slightest idea where I’ll live after I graduate, but it is nice to be comfortable here now.  And somehow comfortable has led to clarity, and six informational interviews, a couple phone calls, a fistful of emails, and all the thank you cards my mom had in the house.  I still don’t know where it’s all going, but it’s nice to know it’s going somewhere.

Something else amazing emerged out this whole process, a flexible plan, one that builds on my month-by-month LSAT study schedule from last summer by adjusting some dates, re-prioritizing, and finally integrating a concrete long-term goal.  I didn’t throw anything out the window.  I just learned, added, adjusted.

So for now, looking at work and career plans seems to be a lot less like a dark mass and a lot more like freedom, and much needed peace.

And a huge part of that is the recognition that I could never pull myself up to where I want to go.  It’s all just been seeing who’s around and willing to lend a hand.  Can’t do that with your chin down or trying to pick yourself up off the ground.

See cause for someone to lend a hand, you gotta look up let go to grab it.


The Gilmore Affect

I’ve been spending a lot of contemplating the daunting mass of darkness that pretty much begins in May and appears to never goes away again.

Spain was incredible, so don’t even in the slightest read this to say that I didn’t treasure everything about my big European adventure and all the lovely people I met.  However, I can’t help but feel that I wasn’t, at least in some capacity, cheated out of the middle of what is my college experience.  See, I left a neck-deep-in-the-thick-of-it sophomore and I’m coming back an almost senior.  It all feels so over.

Comps essay idea wall

A few weeks ago, I was watching Gilmore Girls.  I started season two last July and finally, right after Christmas, I made it the final season, where Rory graduates from Yale.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Rory, the daughter of a single mother who ran away flying from her old money debutant lifestyle, has an intelligent, albeit incredibly quirky and socially-awkward friend, Paris.  Typically, Paris fills the foil of big personality sidekick that would be too much in the protagonist, but in a supporting role adds just enough comedy to the situation.  Point being, Paris is not the character you would model your life around.

When Rory and Paris return to Yale to wrap up their final year, there is a scene in there living room.  Paris has something like 8 gigantic whiteboards with everything they have to do before they graduate, broken up by categories (like job applications, fellowships, networking, final college experiences, etc) and color-coded (of course).  Beside each item in the lists there is a checkbox.

books, pdfs, and notes

The terrible part of all of this is when I watched this scene I didn’t just think this was a good idea, I found the scene strikingly similar to my room during comps last year.

The thoughts that ensue….”yes, that’s a great idea.  I just have to get organized again”……”I’m already organized”…”This is nuts”……….”Holy cow, seeing myself in Paris is probably an indication that I need to clear my mind”

I’ve been taking the latter part of that final statement to heart.  This is the longest break I get…ever.  From a couple days before Christmas to January 23, I’m free.  It is about as long as it could possibly get without making it practical to find a job.

And with a little space to think (and stockpiling a few hours of sleep for the upcoming semester,) it is truly amazing what all you can accomplish and just plain figure out.

 

 


Grip the moments

I’ve been struck by a few things so far this Christmas season.  Among them, how truly nice it is to be home.  The mountains in Santiago may have floored me, but the flat land and triangular roofs feel much more comfortable than the red clay tiles ever did.

Though it is more uncomfortable than ever to fit the six (seven when Andrew’s girlfriend was visiting) of us into the van, we do it fine.  Mychelle still yells to have the music turned down, “please turn the radio on” still means Rush to dad, and he who sits in the middle left seat, being by the controls, still determines whether everyone else in the back of the car is cold or not,  but other than that…it’s been great.

Like Tuesday night when I took the younger two out for Starbucks downtown.  I made a real big deal of it, and we walked around outside with our coffee.  Watson even went as far as to offer both of his arms to his sisters and escorted us by the Embassy Theater and Botanical Gardens.

We ended up in front of the large wreath at the Summit building where Mychelle and I took turns dancing with Watson.  I can’t recall ever having so much fun with my younger siblings.

We have been taking advantage of some great deals over at Pro Bowl West, where we’ve been twice this week now.  Having not bowled since high school, I’ve been far from impressive, but it’s been fun.

 

Honestly, just about every moment has been perfect.


Bookends

It’s a good thing I never ended up booking that trip to Barcelona, because I’ve spent the last two days more or less locked up in the house fighting off sickness.

But, then again, after the last two weeks, maybe slowing down isn’t such a bad idea regardless.

Despite not being able to go out this evening and look at the Christmas lights like I had originally planned, the night turned out rather nicely.

I dug up a few old episodes of Gilmore Girls and started packing, just like I did in my stuffy bedroom four months ago in New York.  Except this time, instead of dreaming of foreign lands and actually being able to speak Spanish, I was just thinking about home.

 

 


I am woman.

Let it never be said that I didn’t walk into the lion’s cage.

Broadly speaking, Spain has been a wonderful experience.  Academically, it’s been a never-ending crockpot of failure.  And furthermore, so unfun, except in the two classes I am doing the worst in (ironic, isn’t it?)

So on that note,  let us recognize that which the rest of the world so vehemently seems to profess and I have adamantly denied since kindergarten   Grades matter, but they aren’t always the best measure of improvement.

I think I’ve always rejected this claim on the basis of the absence of objectivity.  I’d feel better with myself if I upright faced failure rather than rationalizing it away.

In my father’s words, “You can either use it as a kick in the butt, or you can whine about it.”   If I pretended falling short of my goals was okay, then I was tricking myself into feeling better.

We are suppose to fail, right?  (hence the fall first)  So aren’t we cheating ourselves out of something if we call failure anything other than what it really is?

Spanish is not something that I’m good at.  I think I’m not good at it for the same reasons I could never get good marks on Strunk & White Grammar tests in high school.  I stink at grammar.  I can’t put raw language in lists and make a story about it (how I passed AP bio).  I study in CSS, because it all is a story–history, where ideas comes from, how ideas form governments, etc.  This stuff excites me.  I just have to think about it and apply it.

Anyways, I think there is real merit to studying outside of your strengths.  Unfortunately, outside of your strengths, stuff is a lot less fun.  Maybe because, I don’t know, you can’t/can barely pass your tests.

All to say, this semester is open range shooting on my GPA, but at least I can take pride in coming here anyways.  Doing it in spite of knowing how hard it would be.  And what’s a couple numbers in comparison to all the other experiences I’m getting along the way?

on the river, Valencia

 

 

 


Wikipedia xoxo

My dearest wiki,

I would like to credit you for all the childhood injuries you stopped when I was 11 and those that you are still lovingly preventing at 21.

Instead of reaching up high shelves for the most recent edition of the Children’s World Book that our elementary schools saw fit to purchase, we turned to yahoo (back in those pregoogle days).

Our first hits always turned up a wealth of information on our research topics, written by our middle school peers and their teachers.  Nothing quite cleared up what exactly the estates-general were like a 7th grader’s analysis of the French Revolution.  We grew to love geocities.

But our fascination would fade.  Once we learned what bibliographies were, our teacher’s taught us the difference between credible and non-credible sources, meaning no more personal websites.

But that quiet 6th grade year, something else happened.  You walked into our lives, keeping us from returning to dusty shelves where those heavy, outdated encyclopedias lie.   With all your subjects and embedded links to topics within the article, we looked to the future with newfound hope.

Sure enough, one day, our teachers told us that you too weren’t credible, but we knew not to believe them this time.   As high school masters of the MLA bibliography, we were smart enough to figure out to use the websites at the bottom of each page to find the “so-called” credible sources we were taught to use.

And our relationship grew and prospered.  I thought we could get no closer after you became a primary text in my college sophomore government tutorial, but then, wiki, I came to Spain.

And here, I wiki all subjects discussed in every one of my classes– in English and Spanish.  Here, it’s just you and me, spending long nights chasing new links, trying to figure out how the Habsburgs fell from power and when the Korean War started.

So wiki, as I preceed to finals, stick close by.  We still have many a-hour to get through together.

 

Yours truly,

Tori

 

PS

In the spirit of full disclosure, wiki, just so you don’t get the wrong idea, please know I’m not ready to get serious.  See, I graduate in a year in a half, and then I’ll be free to choose whatever books I want to read without repercussions of not having learned whatever prescribed texts my professors saw fit to throw my way.

It will be a lot less “When did the Spanish-American War start?” and a lot more ” What was the long term economic effect of foreign policy at the turn of the twentieth century in relation to President McKinley?” So let’s just make the most of the time we have left, ok?