Gentle

As I said before, it’s getting down to the wire for my classes, which, unfortunately, means I don’t have as much time for fun things. Instead I’m writing feasibility reports and historical reflections.

I like the idea of reflections, just not the formalities. I wish someone would ask me those prompts in person. What a conversation it would be!

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It was beautifully muggy yesterday evening

I think I’m losing the art of conversation. I don’t know if I just don’t talk as much here, or if I’m really just bad with small talk, but more and more I find it less pressing to talk to people. It’s still nice to have a conversation, but I realized my thirst is not in speaking, but in holding an in-depth conversation. I’m a listener, but that doesn’t mean I can’t express my own thoughts and opinions.

(Speaking of, I finally registered to vote today)

My COMM theory professor from fall semester brought up a recent study performed by one of his colleagues, and it stated that people of my generation were exceedingly good at multitasking. After expoing for two years now, I have no doubt I am great at multitasking. However, the study also said people of my generation scored significantly low in reflection. I remember furrowing my brows at that. What? What did this guy know?

But the more I look around, the more I see that some of my friends don’t reflect on anything. I specifically remember telling Mary “reflection is important!!”, and I’m pretty sure she needed to hear it – you’re welcome, Mary.

It’s like people don’t understand that they can try to answer the “why?” and “how?” questions themselves. “Why do I feel guilty about the way I treated this person?… Because it was the wrong thing to do, wow I should apologize.” “Why is it that I’m unhappy?… Maybe you’re feeling unfulfilled.” “How can I be fulfilled?… Try new things, find what you like.”

Some days I feel like I’m the only person who reflects. Then again, maybe I reflect too much. I’m always in my head when I walk to class or the gym. The gym is usually the only time my brain is absolutely silent, and that’s why it has become my savior over these past few years.

Anxiety? Run.

Sad? Better lace up those shoes.

Stressed? Boy you’re gonna be sore tomorrow!

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Unfortunately, the rest of my body disagrees with me, and it always tries to ruin my progress either by destroying my knees, my heels, or – now – my shins!

Sometimes having a silent mind can be more helpful than being reflective. I take after my mom in that my mind is always running before bed unless I can really tire myself to the point of exhaustion (which hasn’t been difficult since senior year of high school).

Some of my friends are really into eastern philosophies, and I remember trying my hand at meditation. I struggled with it (“Am I doing this right? No I shouldn’t be thinking… I think I got it – damnit no I shouldn’t be thinking!”), but I eventually got the hang of it. It really helped me go to bed. I think it’s similar to that savasina thing at the end of yoga, even if I’ve somehow pictured myself in a different world.

I think my ability to multitask and remain calm is due to my success at meditation. It’s not like you avoid all thoughts that come into your head – you accept them, finish them, and let them slip right on through. I realize I do this when I expo. When I’m suddenly overwhelmed with tickets, I internally scream, and then pull myself together, let the tickets flow out as fast as they flow in. I like the challenge it brings, and I’m always proud of myself at the end of a big rush.

I guess it’s important to find balance then. Multitasking is a great skill of our generation, but don’t forget to reflect. It’s important to balance a fast-paced life with enduring thoughts. It’s how you come to understand yourself and people around you better.

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. – Plato

(Never thought I’d ever be the person to quote a Greek philosopher…)

I’ll Be There For You

The hum of the A/C, the whir of the dryer, the glare of the lamp against the off-white walls, the animated conversation punctuated with giggles. What a nice lullaby to end the day. I think the constant buzz of city life has finally gotten to me. When I was home last weekend I couldn’t fall asleep, and I think it was because it was so quiet. It’s frustrating – I love quiet.

There’s really nothing to report today, no spontaneous adventure to scatter throughout, no do it for the blog! moment today. Sometimes you need a reminder that doing nothing, having a normal day, is okay. I even wrote about that for my English class.

The other day my friend was telling me how hard it is to make friends here, and I definitely agree. I was fortunate enough to be placed with roommates that I really click with, that I would consider friends based on more than just being stuck living together, and that’s a great feeling to have. We’re all going our separate ways next semester, but at least I can use going to see them as an excuse to get out of the apartment.

What’s better is that some of my friends from home are visiting me tomorrow! After enduring a trying couple of weeks, this is definitely the best medicine I could ask for.

There’s nothing more valuable in my life than the friendships I have made. Funny enough, I met all of these people coming to visit me through working at The Main Cup. I could make my experiences at the Cup its own blog series, but I’ll save that for another “do nothing” day. General idea, I love my job mostly for the people I work with.

So I’m going to take a moment to tell you about some of these special people.

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(Yes, this picture was taken from a video on snapchat. If there’s one thing this blog had been consistent with, it’s low quality pictures with high quality fun.)

This is Timmy, the mastermind behind all of tomorrow’s plans. He started working at the Cup a month or so after me, and back then his curly hair was so long he reminded me of Bernard the Elf from The Santa Claus. He’s always the life of the party with his outgoing, positive personality, and quick-witted sass. Somewhere along the line one of our inside jokes became him being my cat? I don’t even know how that happened, but thanks to this guy I get to see some of my friends from back home tomorrow. And he taught me how to chacha! (Pictured above).

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Left to right, this is Sam, Will, and Roeder on one of the many spectacular nights in Will’s basement.

Sam is musically gifted – I’m talkin’ incredible. He’s also just a kind human being. I remember during June when I was going through a rough breakup, Sam asked me how I was doing and I told him truthfully I wasn’t doing that great and that I was supposed to have the “closure talk” later that day. He texted me that night saying that he hoped it went well because I deserve the best. During that breakup I was shown so much love from so many surprising people, and it really helped me realize that I would be okay, that I was surrounded by love. Sam was one of the people to show that to me, and for that I’m grateful.

Oh boy, what could I say about Will… He has easily become one of my better friends throughout the year because of his sense of humor. Even though his horrible jokes make me roll my eyes, his physical humor has me in tears almost every night I work with him. He also brings Altoids (“you mean, Draco Malfoys”) to work all the time, and it seems like a bonding experience between us for some reason. He also made this video back in high school. He showed it to me on New Years Eve and I was in tears, again, laughing so hard. You just… you have to watch it.

Roeder and I have a funny history. We’re family friends, and my mom goes walking with his mom almost every Saturday morning, and I’d say they’re best friends. Though I’ve known him since I was probably nine or ten, we never really became friends with him until he started working at the Cup. He has this habit of never shutting up, and I remember there were nights that Zac and I would look at each other and say “whose turn is it to yell at him?” I’ve made some attitude-y comments to him at work before, but the good thing is that’s never slowed him down or hurt out relationship. He’s at UMD with me now, and I always have someone to watch the games with and talk to about the latest Marvel movie (my roommates aren’t into sports or superhero movies. Bummer.).

This is Ryan. Unfortunately he won’t be joining us tomorrow, as he goes to school all the way out in Ohio (and I’m hoping to visit him in April – imagine the blog then…), but I felt like I had to include him, and he’s already visited so I’m not really breaking any rules.

We’d both gone to Middletown since elementary school, but I didn’t really get to know him until eighth when we were both part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (back when we were actively religious), and we immediately clicked and became close friends during that year.

Early high school we didn’t really see each other, but junior year we both had chemistry. Naturally, I was horrible because chemistry is part science, part math, but we got to choose lab partners and eventually we chose to work together. We quite literally rekindled our flame over bunsen burners…

I’ve always been able to talk to Ryan about anything, and so many of my favorite memories involve him: sitting in the trunk of my 4Runner on a hot summer day just killing time; having a few beers around a bonfire, taking turns choosing music; going to Hershey Park in eighth grade (2009) and again in 2015; taking trips to Rita’s, where we would share bites of each other’s flavors, and he would usually end up finishing mine because I take forever to eat; going out every night in Ohio, and staying in every night in Maryland (fun fact, I drove almost 7 hours to see him in Ohio, he drove almost 8 hours to see me at UMD for one night over his break. What an awesome friend.) I would definitely consider him my best friend.

Him and…

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This guy! Alex. He and I have also known each other since eighth grade, when he dated one of my friends at the time (oh those middle school romances). We had a few classes together in high school, and we would always talk but I would’ve considered him an acquaintance at the time. Also during junior year, as I rekindled my friendship with Ryan, he invited me to go longboarding with him and Alex. That’s when it really turned into the golden trio.

Suddenly we were going on these longboarding expeditions all through town and up in Braddock, and most days when I got too tired we would find a place to chill, sit on our boards, and just talk about life. We jokingly called ourselves “RAD” – Ryan Alex Dani – but my favorite is the likeness to Harry Potter – Ryan with his black hair, me, the girl with the brown hair, and Alex, the redhead.

Unfortunately I never took pictures of us all back in high school, so this is the only picture I have of all three of us together, taken a few months back.

During senior year, Alex and I had a bit of a falling out for personal reasons, and at the end of senior year, before we could make up, he and his family moved to Australia. I was devastated, sure I’d never see him again and that I’d just lost a friend forever. I don’t remember when or how it happened, but we started talking again over Facebook, and then we started skyping every once in a while to catch up. We fell back into being friends, and I’m beyond thankful.

Alex has always been protective of me, the older brother, though he’s the youngest of the trio. He and I have deeper conversations, and when I come to him with my problems he will always be the person to tell me what I need to hear, no matter how hard it is. I know he’s just looking out for what is best for me, and I think it’s important that everyone have someone like him in their lives. Lucky me, I have him in mine. I have both he and Ryan in mine. I do get a small sense of pride, saying that one of my best friends lives halfway across the world, and I’m proud of us for staying so close. When I was thinking of studying abroad in Australia, we had even talked about being flatmates! Thanks for the disappointment, ARHU…

(I had to break the rules for Alex. Of course he hasn’t visited me, he’s in Australia, so cut him some slack)

I have several other friends that I didn’t include just because they haven’t visited me yet (I’m lookin’ at you, Mary!), and maybe I’ll make that its own post sometime. I just wanted to share with you how happy I am to know that I have these amazing people in my life, and I am lucky enough to call them my friends.

I can’t wait to make more memories with these people. Look out UMD, The Main Cup is comin’ for ya!

 

 

A Hum and a Howl

Having this blog has already helped inspire me. I walk around campus looking for the next mediocre photo I can post to the page, something that captures a new side of this place that I haven’t seen, haven’t been looking for.

The dryer hums and rattles behind me, my feet are cool – I wore sandals today in hopes of warm weather. Instead I was greeted with a cold wind that whipped right through my sweatshirt. I guess that’s how being here has made me feel so far.

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I expected Maryland to be the reparation for the disappointing college career I’ve had. Sometimes I feel there’s a lot of pressure for me to be happy here, “is it everything you dreamed it would be?” Well, no. I dreamed it would be a great place to meet people, grow and prosper, and explore new things. Instead I find it’s much easier than usual to slip into the sea of people here and go about my day unnoticed. This is the first time in my life that my professors haven’t known my name. I’ve always been shy, and I guess this is where I learn to introduce myself and branch out. Finally forced out of my comfort zone, unlike the terrapin that has come to represent this place, who has all the comforts of home on his back.

But I think I need this. If I never leave my shell, I’ll be stuck. Stuck in the same old town with the same old people in the same old job with the same old problems. I’ve done a lot of soul searching recently, yet I haven’t made any breakthroughs. If anything, my searching has left me even more lost. Where do I go? What will make me happy?

What will make me happy while taking me out of my comfort zone?

I cling to familiarity. There is comfort in familiarity, a sense of calm. But no matter how far my branches stretch, the roots still remain, clinging to the same old soil.

I love my little Middletown. It’s nice to look up and see mountains and a blue sky instead of just brick buildings. There will always be a connection there, but I’m caught between hanging on and letting go. Maybe it doesn’t have to be an ultimatum, but that’s how it feels right now. I fear I will return and never again leave, never branch out and live elsewhere. There are too many places to experience, too many people to meet.

Yet I also fear what it would mean to leave. I would be away from family, from close friendships, from everything I’ve ever known. For the third time in my life, I would be alone in a new place, left to my own devices to figure out where to go.

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As I write this, I realize that’s what I need in my life. It’s not like leaving someone behind means letting go of them forever, that the gate will be shut, the bridge will be drawn, and I am left to sink or swim with the crocodiles. Starting somewhere new opens up a whole new storybook for you to fill, and it’s your duty to take the pen and start writing yourself a beautiful, adventurous story.

There’s comfort in familiarity. There’s opportunity in the unknown.

 

My First Blog

So let’s get started! I have no idea what I want this blog to be about. Probably just my life, my thoughts, my perceptions, my experiences. I hope to someday be able to go back through my blogs and see how I’ve grown as a person, because you don’t always notice the day-to-day changes, and then somehow those tiny changes have lead to a completely new you.

But let’s start with who I am and where I am now:

  • I’m 20 years old (about to be 21 in 45 days WOOHOO!)
  • I’m a student at the University of Maryland, studying Communications and Professional Writing
  • I have always loved writing, and I think it’s the only creative thing I have (but I’m trying to branch out)
  • I find communication theory more interesting than my lecture classes
  • I work part-time at The Main Cup as an expo and I love it; it’s my second home and I always try to make it a point to see my second family when I come home
  • I do not have a boyfriend (boys are too complicated)
  • do have some amazing friends (shoutout to Ryan, Alex, Mary, and Will)
  • I have no idea what I want to do for a job
  • I love animals and I want to foster
  • I am itching to travel, even if it’s by myself
  • I love mountains. I grew up in a small farming town tucked into the mountains, and I have seen some purple mountain majesties.
  • I don’t know how to camp, yet my recent dream is to backpack the Appalachians
  • I’m young and everything is either terrifying or exciting – and sometimes both!

Some days I may be casual, like this, and some days I may be more soulful. I’m not sure where it’ll go, but life is wonderful right? And I’ll spice things up when I start working enough to afford my own little camera. I have a feeling I’ll be putting in a lot of hours this summer…

Much love,

Dani