I am Grateful

As another semester winds down, I find myself reflecting on all of the great things that have occurred over the past few months. While the end of the semester can feel like a breath of fresh air after numerous long nights and a lot of hard work, it’s hard for me to see this semester end as a result of how much I’ve enjoyed this class. I am grateful for T, who has been an amazing and incredibly helpful instructor all semester. I am also grateful for my peers in the Fall 2014 cohort for helping me develop my skills as a writer and for making each class fun along the way. It’s been a great opportunity to get to know a small group of people on an individual level and to see everyone’s voices to continue to grow and pop out of the page. I am hopeful that some member of our class can reconvene for the capstone course, but even if that’s not possible I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn and grow as a writer with you all. My thanks go out to all of you for a fantastic semester!

 

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Fall 2014 Cohort – Credit: Aaron Valdez

My Afterlife Should Contain the Following:

A short list of things I could never get tired of:

 

1. The band Wilco.

Of all the music I listen to, the one band that I will never get sick of is Wilco. I’ve seen them in concert numerous times, watched all the documentaries, own every album. The band’s diversity encapsulates every type of song and style that you could ever need or want.

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2. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood

Something about this book is magical. It creeped me out but something about the story just never let me go. This is kind of an odd thing to list for something that I can never get tired of because reading this book over and over again is not a frequent activity for me, but for some reason, to this day it stays on my mind.

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3. The podcast Serial

I hope to God that they continue to produce this podcast because since its existence, its consumed all of my free time. It’s very similar to In Cold Blood, but in podcast form, with new dimensions of the story added week by week.

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4. Hmmm, what else. I’m thankful for good ice cream. Specifically, the Brambleberry Crisp ice cream flavor from Jeni’s Ice Cream (which can be found throughout Ohio and now Chicago!)

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5. Also, Korean barbecue.

Seriously. So good.
Seriously. So good.

 

Home To Me Is Reality, And All I Need Is Something Real

One thing I could never get tired of is my family and my best friends. Sure I can get sick of them, and argue with them from time to time, but it means so much to me to have them in my life. Relationships with people are more valuable to me than anything. It’s around this time of year, Thanksgiving, that I am especially aware of how much my people mean to me. Of course the holiday prompts us to think about what we are thankful for, but also it’s often the first time I have seen or even spoken to most of my home friends and some of my relatives since August. I forget how much I miss them until I am reunited with them, and in the words of OAR, “When I’m with my friends I feel home”.

I take the term of “best friend” very seriously. I would be willing to do so much for anyone I would label a best friend and I hold high expectations for them to reciprocate that. I am so grateful to have people in my life that I know I can count on to help me in all the ways a person can be helped. I am grateful that if I’ve been in a lonely period where I didn’t know many people, such as the first days in a new place, my true friends and my family help me through that.

Going to the 4th of July fireworks has always been a tradition with my friends.
Going to the 4th of July fireworks has always been a tradition with my friends.

When it comes to family, I am always cognizant of how lucky I am that I have parents who love me and love each other. Not everyone gets to have that. They never make me feel like I have to get certain grades or be perfect, and I appreciate that since I’m obviously not perfect. My big brothers are my role models and because of the age difference between us, my oldest brother is almost more of a second father. He helps me with career and life advice, while my other brother is always the one I go to for a laugh.

Risky Business

Putting perpetual tags on anything is a business I have come to find a bit risky. Not a lot of things last forever; almost no person will be able to avoid letting you down at some point; and “the best” of anything can turn into the worst over night. I realize I sound like a Negative Nancy here, but I’d just like to call it being real.

In direct conflict with my opening statement, here are a few things I don’t believe I will ever become bored of:

-Reading murder mysteries: It was the butler, right? Actually, no, that’s never been the case in any of the murder mysteries I’ve read. But that would be too predictable anyway. The ones that do it right have me on my toes throughout – oh I know for sure now, it was the janitor! Maybe not. Two of my absolute favorites in this suspense-filled genre are Tana French (In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place) and Tami Hoag (A Thin Dark Line, Cry Wolf). 

Wikipedia Surfing: I’ve read somewhere that all Wikipedia articles lead back to “philosophy.” Let’s try it (clicking first links only). We’ll start with our good ole buddy – George Washington. Ready, go: “George Washington” leads to “President of the United States” leads to “head of state” leads to “Constitution” leads to “state” leads to “community” leads to “level of analysis” (via “social unit”) leads to “unit of observation” leads to “statistics” leads to “data” leads to “set” leads to “mathematics”…leads to (HOLY SH*T) “philosophy.” And yes, I honestly just did that.

-Basking in the warm glow of the sun whilst sitting on a beach chair with my toes in the hot sand, Lake Michigan spread out before me, an Arnold Palmer or other iced beverage to one side and a copy of GQ magazine to the other: What more could I say about that?

 

Bella

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Princess Bella on her mat in the backseat.

I am grateful for my dog, Bella. She is a loyal friend that always greets me at the door when I come home. She will sit with me for hours on end and not demand anything in return (except for treats and belly rubs). I never get tired of her company, and I miss her when she is not around. The room just isn’t as lively. Whether she is playing fetch or sitting off to the side chewing on her bone, Bella always provides entertainment for my family. In other words, Bella give us something to talk about–something to connect with. My parents, my siblings, and I take turns feeding her, taking her on runs, and even driving her to the vet if she is sick. As a team, we provide a great life for an animal that we rescued from an abusive environment when she was 3 years old. Its hard to remember what my house was like before Bella arrived, and I cant imagine what it will be like when she is gone. Bella is the daughter my mom never had. She constantly talk to Bella throughout the day, keeping my mom company while I am away at school. I know they will both look after each other. When my mom tripped and broke her ankle while on a run, Bella barked loudly until getting someones attention to come help. After my mom got a brace at the hospital, Bella would sit gently against it and lick it, as if to help heal the injury. It is safe to say that Bella will always be a contributing member of our family. She unites us, protects, entertains us, and gets plenty of treats along the way.

 

 

They Never Get Boring

I come from a large and loud family. Almost every Sunday night growing up my entire family on my dad’s side congregated at someone’s house for a weekly dinner. It usually consisted of my immediate family, my dad’s brother (my uncle), his wife and two daughters, and then my dad’s step- brother and his wife and two daughters along with my grandparents. Over the years there have been additions to the gang, but these 14 people have been a constant. Our family dinners never fail to be entertaining. I don’t think I will ever get tired of them due to the numerous different dynamics that occur. From learning about what is going on in everyone’s life, to gossiping with my cousins and cracking countless jokes, family dinners are never boring.

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all of the cousins

I am lucky enough to have a unique relationship with everyone in my family, and that I am grateful for. Whether our conversations are serious or light, under good circumstances are bad, I know that I have the support of my family. No family dinner is ever the same and nothing less of exciting. Filled with good food, good company and good conversation, family dinners are always something to look forward too.

I Miss You, Fall

As I sit in my living room looking out into the mid-November blizzard that is upon us (I’m still in a little bit of shock), I can’t help but miss warmer temperatures. I’m not even dreaming of 75 degrees and sunny, because all I want is some more fall weather. Fall has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember; I could never get tired of it.

From cozy sweaters, hot apple cider and football season to bonfires, Thanksgiving and the leaves changing colors, the list of why I love this season so much seems endless. Even when compared to the others, fall always prevails in my mind. The hot and humid feeling of summer gets old, spring more often than not just brings rain, and if you think your favorite season is winter, try trudging through piles of snow with the below-freezing wind blowing in your face and then get back to me. Fall is the perfect happy medium.

I think it’s safe to say that weather can impact people’s mood, and clearly the sight of crisp red and orange leaves surrounded by blue skies is my happy place. I’ve never felt the need to be thankful for a season before, but looking back I am very grateful for being able to grow up experiencing all four seasons, even if one does stand out from the rest.

I am also currently very grateful for fuzzy snow boots and warm blankets. Burrr.

 

 

Can I live here?
Can I live here?

 

Pop…

This is what comes up in google search when you type in pop. It's clearly called soda NOT pop!
This is what comes up in google search when you type in pop. It’s clearly called soda NOT pop!

Tired is a thing that happens to people when they feel they have had enough of something or when they are actually physically fatigued or sleepy. Getting tired of something means you have exhausted your own personal tolerance for whatever it is that you are doing. You wanna know something I am never tired of… Pop. In New York we call it soda, but in the Midwest and in the South its, “clearly called pop,” as per my friends. They always use the term pop to describe the carbonated drink I usually have at restaurants. Ever heard the saying, “when in Rome do as the romans do?” Yea it sounds good and all but as for me ill stick with the soda! Listen to how soda sounds. SO-dUH! Two of the funniest phrases every used. It is perfect for the clear bubbly liquid that I can resist only long enough to urinate and rid myself of the Sprite right before it. Before you know it im back at it drinking another soda (sprite to be exact). Right now I have a 24oz. Sprite as I write this. I also had another one at a book club meeting and after that at my boyfriend’s house. Sprite is vesatile. It can actually be consumed anywhere. There is no criteria other than have a mouth and a throat so you can swallow the tasty goodness. It even tastes great flat- uncarbonated. I know there are things you all dont get tired of. What are they?

This is an authentic sprite. Drawn and colored to perfection!
This is an authentic sprite. Drawn and colored to perfection!

Stuff That Doesn’t Get Old.

I get sick of things really easily. Blessed with a shorter-than-average attention span, I was that kid that participated in just about every extracurricular for about a week (or until my mom paid the deposit), later realizing they weren’t “my thing.” I have to buy things in small quantities, as I quickly grow tired of gum flavors, shampoo scents, and popular songs (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift.)

Still, some things never change. Here are a few things in my life that I am grateful will never get old:

 

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Actual photo of a cat not getting old.

Jennifer Aniston. (She seriously Does. Not. Age.)

Going to the movies in the middle of the day and sneaking into other showings after.

Christmas music. (Except Santa Baby. That one is kind of creepy.)

Re-enacting the scene from The Notebook where they lay in the middle of the street like it’s no big deal.

Every season of “Parks and Recreation.”

Coffee. (Unless it’s expired. Then it’s old. Throw that out.)

Fishing with my dad on Lake Huron.

National Parks, and obnoxiously pulling the car over to take pictures every 200 yards.

Photo-shopping my friends’ faces on things.

The Moonrise Kingdom soundtrack.

Hot pretzels with mustard.

Cats. All of them.

Re-reading The Catcher in the Rye in the summer.

That episode of SpongeBob where’s he’s delivering the Krusty Krab pizza.

Flannel. (Just for 90s grunge? I think not.)

And of course, for relevance if nothing else, writing.

Up North Loving

Northern Michigan Sunset
Northern Michigan Sunset

When it comes to Northern Michigan, the sights just never get old. There’s always a view to be seen and an adventure to be had. Where I grew up, in Traverse City, Michigan, there is water everywhere and almost every summer activity makes use of it somehow. Whether it be swimming, boating, or just going to the beach, northern Michigan is full of things to do in the summer. Yes, I do love all of those activities, but the one thing about northern Michigan that I never get tired of is it’s views. From my home, I have a lovely view of Bowers Harbor, a small harbor that eventually connects to the larger Lake Michigan. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to walk out my front door and see a sunset as amazing as the one in the panorama above. No sunset is ever the same and each one seems to be even more incredible than the last.

Aside from my home, there are tons of other inspiring views to be seen as well. About 45 minutes from my home, there are hiking trails all along the coast of lake Michigan that lead to jaw-dropping views. Some are tourist attractions, but some are more secretive, known only to native Northern Michiganders like myself. No matter how many times I hike the trails through the woods, anticipating the opening of the trees to reveal an incomparable view of lake Michigan, I will never ever get tired of those sights.

In the fall, the hikes become even more amazing. I’d like to consider myself well-traveled for a girl my age and I have yet to see another place with fall colors as beautiful as those in Traverse City. Driving down the Old Mission Peninsula, there is a scenic pullout at the top of the hill. Most people pulling over are tourists, visiting for the fall colors tour. But even as a local, I always have to pull aside at least once in the fall to take in the amazing colors of the North.

To most people, Traverse City is a tourist town. Locals, including myself, often get irritated with the traffic and idiocy of tourists who come to experience the beauty and adventures that Traverse City has to offer. But, I guess I can’t blame them because, honestly, the views just never get old.