Tag Archives: dreams

Desired Chronicles from the Kitchen & Other Aspirations

Post-thunderstorm rainbow from the porch.

Post-thunderstorm rainbow from the porch.

I stopped writing.

It wasn’t so much that I was trying to get away or that I was too busy.  Had a lot more to do with being creeped out by who actually reads this and realization that the commentary that’s been running in my head as of late wasn’t appropriate for a public audience.  And since I didn’t know how to filter, I stopped.

But I also know that these posts are the best records I have of the best (and worst) memories.  I know that I’ve gone back to refer to them when something doesn’t make sense months, even years after the fact, and I’ve found that my old words hold a lot of truth in facts and stories that have had the been preserved without the filter of ex-post facto analysis.  Furthermore, I know that if I try writing them just for myself, as in unpublished, I simply won’t.

And so, curled on my bed last week, gripping my stomach over a very poorly prepared dinner, I thought about all my other bad cooking experiences, many of which are chronicled here.

This domestic failure (to clarify–it was really three failures, Monday’s dinner, Tuesday’s dinner, and Wednesday’s leftovers) mattered, and it mattered more than most.  It was the first time that I made a serious attempt at cooking and couldn’t, which was quite offensive because I’ve decided that now is the time to learn to excel in care taking.

In the last year, I’ve committed many Saturdays to grad school research.  I wasn’t usually making plans as much was I was filled to brim with hope and possibility and desperately looking for a direction to set my sails.  Of late, it’s occurred to me that a consequence of my incredible task-orientated behaviors (uhhrrmmm, extreme planning) is a little bit like Mario Kart.  In the game, when you hit the question mark box and get a red mushroom, you launch the power boost strategically, like when you’re neck-and-neck with Bowser and need just a little kick; I have to know where I’m going so I know when to peak, and this has repercussions for just about every area of my life.  It’s also why I plan.

So, I look back to that mid-fall day when I lived at Whaley’s house and stumbled across something intriguing on St. Andrew’s website and the moment it felt like a real possibility.  I remember discussing it in the car with Julie on the way to New London and everything that happened in the weeks afterward.

Come spring, I was pacing my new house with a bubbling idea in my stomach, caught in a frenzied prayer and with twenty fellowship/grant/scholarship tabs open on my Macbook.  They were all for American students pursuing postgraduate research degrees in the UK.  It was like planning classes, career, family, finances, and life purpose in a single simultaneous thought that’s so exciting I have to put it on hold for twenty minutes or so while I walk in circles.  I do this just so I can savor the synergy and excitement enough to focus on what it all means.

It was beautiful moment, but the St. Andrews day is not today, neither is teaching, blogging that is actually read, or publishing anything that is printed on real paper.  For now, those are just dreams, but they are all really just matured iterations of  things I care about and do now.

I’ll peak when the time’s right, and it will be glorious. But,in the meantime, I’m crossing my X’s, saving my dollars, and more importantly, drinking very deeply of the many lessons around me.  I mind the hows, whens, and wheres of communication, authority, and leadership.  I’m assessing the delegation and use of influence, and I like it.

It’s also why I’m learning to cook now.

Now, when I have no one to care for except myself and a roommate who never squabbles if the dishes are left in the sink a little longer than they should be.

Now, when no one will complain if I lose track of time and get home from work a little later than I should and when the relationships in my life are relatively simple and only as time-consuming as I let them be.

Because if I can’t learn to do it now, I’m not sure I ever will.

Ambition’s Shadow

When I was in high school, I wore my MIT sweatshirt on the day of important exams– SATs, ACTs, APs, and Honors Physics.

I considered it the academic equivalent of the guys who do pushups every time the football team scores and the girls with their boyfriends’ numbers painted on their tank tops and faces.

On one hand, for nerds like myself, I suppose this is terribly arrogant behavior.  Wearing the MIT sweatshirt on the steps outside Southside High School meant something.   Clustered among a small group of overachievers, all of us nervously clutching our graphing calculators and car keys, the sweatshirt served as nonverbal intimidation– to the SAT, to my friends, but mostly to myself, as it was a willful proclamation that I was good enough for that kind of school.

Because everything rode on getting into that kind of school.

It really did help though.  Not in some crazy good luck charm kinda way, but in a real way.  It was a visual way of saying what I believed I was capable of.  That’s a mindset shift, and while the intimidation end of it might have been a little intense, the starting premise was good.

Yesterday, I read about a girl who, as an entry-level analyst, courted a major new client for Merrill Lynch when she was 22.  By the time she was 25, she was COO of an industry revolutionizing activewear company in Sweden.   Suddenly, I felt like such a major underachiever, but not in a green-headed jealous kind of way.

I kept reading and nearly every story I came across, I was like “Shoot, I could do that,” “I’d make that decision,” or “OOhhh, for the opportunity.”  In some cases, I was like, “I’ve done that already.” 

Yesterday, I wore a pair of pointed-toe, bright red, patent leather stilettos.  I’d literally been searching for this particular pair of shoes for seven years, and I finally found them about a month ago.

Granted, I went by myself and no where important, but the shoes still fit a little bit like my old MIT sweatshirt.

The only difference between then in now is that there’s no admissions counselor standing in the way.  I’ve “arrived” and am free to do whatever I like; I just need a platform to do it.

Ink Blots and Achievements

20130609_183613A good half-dozen partial posts are sitting in my draft box.

Each begins with some creative quip or funny experience, but invariably they drop-off in quality at the part that I tie the opening paragraphs to the section that actually matters.

While it would be difficult to argue that my life has in any way significantly slowed since the pre-April 12th days (aka the days before my thesis was due), I am spending considerably less time undisturbed in a research cave.  Lack of human interaction encourages use of other outlets to process life…like blogging.  Hence the plethora of thesis-complaining posts and absence of anything since then.

But more importantly, I think there’s been less to record.  Despite finishing school, moving, and settling into what will be my life for as long as the immediately foreseeable future holds, everything simply is, and I’ve been waiting for it. 

I finished school sometime at the end of May, but my thesis eclipsed all other schoolwork in importance sometime in early October.  After thesis, none of it mattered any more.

By the spring, I started experiencing some kind of mental whiplash for attempting to fully live in the worlds that were work and school, knowing that I couldn’t fully commit to either.  I could remember everything on the church calendar for the next three weeks, but I’d consistently double-book my own schedule because school and work never merged in my head.   I willfully chose to try to make the most of what was left of school, but my friends were as aware as I was that my heart wasn’t in it anymore.

I’ve been teased for my lack of sentimentality, which is probably fair.  One of the last times I spoke with Prof. Elphick, I went to great lengths to assure him that I didn’t regret my Wesleyan education.  Near-complete lack of resources for anything I really cared to study is unfortunate, but learning how to ceaselessly defend and protect myself has got to count for something.

But the truth is, I love a challenge.  Sometimes, I love a challenge so much, I bypass the transitions, because what’s next or could be is always more exciting.

This doesn’t deny the importance of the present.  In fact, it elevates the importance of the present, because it articulates dreams that are still too splotchy to yet fully-explain as challenges instead of directionless aspiration.  It frames the present in the realistic context of what could be.

Some of what I’m working toward are very old dreams, some are clearer than they once were, and some I finally just know how to pursue; and while I’m still drawing the plans, there’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful place to be.

Breaking without Recovery

Despite the affect of finals and furious thesis writing to my general health, the common, end-of-semester exhausted wave of immobility is yet to fall.  The last paper was completed with great expectation, but the familiarity of the end-of-semester load and realization that it isn’t actually done (thesis work and job searching this beautiful break) keeps that “what will I do with my life for the next month” feeling at bay.

Sometimes I just sit and think and write and think and draw and think some more, and now that colloquium is over, I can pretty much do this all I want.  My mind combs through books and conversations, ordering them and categorizing their arguments.  There are days where I will spend the whole day just trying to fill in the diagrams that I draw in my carrel, which are often a mix of color-coordinated arrows connecting loosely associated terms attached to a timeline.

These long days have a funny connection to graduation.  All this thesis work should be pulling me away from my job applications, career research, and networking opportunities, and who knows; maybe they are.  But it has been my evenings over these crazy old books (and sometimes the really old handwritten notes I find inside of them) that all those post-graduate life questions start to make the most sense.

I got the impression that second semester senior year was suppose to be frightening and disorderly.  After all, I am officially homeless in five months.  But instead, it is just very, very exciting.  My mind bubbles over with ideas and half formed sentences, but my heart races with the possibilities of where those ideas could take me.

Carreling Fall 2012

As I sit here in my thesis carrel, my mind bursts with the potential of the ideas that surround me (literally, I put my notes on the walls).  Narrowing in on those ideas, is a slightly different ordeal and is why I’m still here.

Despite firework-exploding epiphanies that have gotten me closer to the ever evolving question of what exactly I’m writing about, I sit here, not quite sure how to procede.

There’s something that is desperately exciting about this process.  Something inside me that recognizes that I have never read anything like what I am intending to write, something that recognizes the potential of a well thought out and convincing argument on my topic of choice, and that’s breathtaking.

The last week has delivered a variety of experiences– nearly all of which are deserving of their own blog posts.  Unfortunately, the nature of college life is that they don’t all get written down, which is indeed a shame.  As reading some of my own old posts has taught me, it is easy to forget.

So as I find myself mesmerized in jaw-dropping academic wonder and discover in more and more meaningful ways how to lead and love in with a Kingdom vision, I just have to take a note of how incredibly cool this is.

Because it is here, deep in the catacombs of Olin library, up the hidden staircase on the 4th floor, carrel 435 that all of that slowly swirls into a single line of thought, a single story, and it is one that I intend to tell.  Just give me time.  #senioryear #thesis2013

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.



Today: 21st birthday, 50th post, 1000th hit

“And yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.”  -Col Brandon, Sense and Sensibility

I’ve always liked that quotation.  It’s like it gives you permission to be optimistic.  I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time contemplating long term plans recently, basically the kind of plans I couldn’t ever actually piece together at this stage in life, but I think about them anyway.

I’m leaving for Madrid in less than a week, and I don’t even know who I’m living with yet.  I don’t know how I’m going to pull second semester together or, despite my best efforts, if I’m going to be able to pick up a second (or third) job.  I think I know where I’m going to be next summer, but I don’t know how I’m going to get a good paying job.  I don’t know how early I’ll be able to crack down on my studies for the LSAT or how old I’ll be when I finally pay off my students loans.

I don’t know when I’ll get married or where I’ll settle down. I have not idea how long it will be before I can apply my law degree in the way I actually want to use it.  I don’t know where I’ll be able to get into law school, or if I will be able to visit them over spring break like I want to.

…but I still like to think about it.  I love living in anticipation, because I thrive on my goals.  In my mind, I often think of challenges as mental pushups.  Uncertainty has always made me uneasy, and it easily brings out my worst traits.  That may be why trumping uncertainty and fear about what’s next with a smile and a peaceful heart means so much.  Maybe that’s why looking forward to what’s next is so sweet.  After all, if you didn’t look forward and imagine what was coming next, you wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much when you got there.

And so, with that, I’ll continue to hold onto Col. Brandon’s wise words and the amiable prejudices of my 21 year old, (still) young mind.


I think it’s awesome that today is my 21st birthday, that this is my 50th blog post, and (if 7 more people read this today) that I will have had 1000 hits.  Just a lot of nice, round numbers.

Color-Coded Accompaniments: Tori’s Map to Law School

I made it tonight.  That list. The big one. The one with percentiles, LSAT scores, and GPAs, all broken up by geographic region of the country.  The bulleted list of everything I have to do for every season between now and winter 2013, including number of study hours per week, test dates, and times to research schools too.  I charted my current academic benchmarks and goals, and it hangs to the left of the agenda just to serve as reminder of all that I have to do to get where I want to go.

I do realize that I openly stating this online, I am admitting that I am in fact 100% geek, but I have no problem owning up to that.  My little color-coded charts might just be enough to label me a nut, but it’s like this.  It’s the only way I know how to handle it.

It– the pressure.  I’m yet to start my junior year, and I already feel as though I am out of time.  The summer’s half over, and while it is a great honor, I’ve committed myself to several hefty additions to my reading list by participating the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Honor’s Program. In August, it’s off to Spain.  When I get back, I’ll be devoting myself to putting together a conservative lecture series for the fall of 2012.  Wesleyan might not be abundant with folks of my political persuasion, but I’m not going to leave without having done everything in my power to express my thoughts to my peers.  That’s been an up and down adventure, but I want to leave having done it right.  My mind has been spinning with senior thesis topics since I was a freshman, and you can bet that I’ll soon be completely sold out to some micro-specific topic that almost no one else will have any interest in at all, but I’ll get a total kick out of it.

My crazy charts and lists are there to prove that the fear that I will not have time to prepare for the LSAT ever becomes a realization.  It’s there to prove that while I might not be sleeping, I’m not sleeping with purpose.  And I think that makes all the difference in the world.