Surviving Freshman Year: A Playlist

Everything is coming to a close and I don’t know what to make of it. I’ve been sick for the past few days so all I’ve been doing is writing and cleaning out my Spotify playlists. I realized from Spotify mainly how much changing I’ve done and how sentimental (well, isn’t it always) music was to me this year. At first I thought I still listened to the same music, but my curated playlists from high school and now are pretty different.

A lot of my musical growth this year has come from boys. Most of my interactions with guys started over music, Mac Demarco being the main player. It’s funny, because in two weeks when I see him it will basically be a reunion of me and every guy I’ve ever expressed interest in this year.

One of the first guys gave me The Strokes. The Strokes were a big part of my fall semester playlists and they were basically all I listened to as I walked from class to class in the brisk weather. He also gave me Courtney Barnett, whose Avant Gardener I will never forget. I learned all of the words to that song in a heartbeat; it’s hilarious, it’s UVM, it’s amazing.

The guy who painted my spring semester with music gave me a lot: LCD Soundsystem, Kaytranada, $uicideboy$, and renewed appreciation for Cage the Elephant and Matt & Kim. He reminded me of the L Train and he has a girlfriend now, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered from his Instagram. LCD will always be a solid walking-to-class choice, thank you.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my old suitemate for letting me lay in his bed, smoke his weed, and listen to Lonerism. That really set the tone for my UVM experience. Also, thanks for being the only straight (?) man who appreciated unreleased Lana.

The following songs are songs I’m going to listen to as we drive away from my new city, possibly for the last time, loaded with boxes and boxes of clothes, memories, textbooks, and my winter boots. They’re the songs that characterized this translucent April, the April that helped me realize a lot about myself. Spring has always been like that for me, but April is ending in peace this time, and not open chaos. April came in like a lion and out like a lamb.

ragged wood – fleet foxes

“come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long. spring is upon us, follow my only song. settle down with me by the fire of my yearning. you should come back home, back on your own now…”

feeling whitney – post malone

to each their own and find peace in knowing, ain’t always broken, but here’s to hoping. show no emotion, against your coding, and just act as hard as you can…”

the dreamer – the tallest man on earth

“oh sometimes the blues is just a passing bird, and why can’t that always be?”

shine – mondo cozmo

“stick with me, jesus, through the coming storm, I’ve come to you in search of something I have lost. shine down a light on me and show a path, I promise you I will return if you take me back…”

an illustration of loneliness (sleepless in new york) – courtney barnett

wondering what you’re doing, what you’re listening to, which quarter of the moon you’re viewing from your bedroom. watching all the movies, drinking all the smoothies, swimming at the pool, I’m thinking of you too…”

hang loose – alabama shakes

“hang loose, hang loose, let the ocean worry about being blue. hang loose, hang loose…”

atlas hands – benjamin francis leftwich

“take me to the docks, there’s a ship without a name there and it is sailing to the middle of the sea. the water there is deeper than anything you’ve ever seen, jump right in and swim until you’re free. I will remember your face, ’cause I am still in love with that place. but when the stars are the only things we share, will you be there?”

The following are songs I’ll characterize with the uncertainty of the beginning. The plane rides, the sweat, the crunchy hair days when everything was humidity. Dropping my eight dollar wrap on a sidewalk in the District while my headphones flew out of my ears. Making myself Nutella rice cakes and doing my Spanish homework ten minutes before class. When I tried so desperately to pretend I had it all figured out, and all my dreams were so, so big. And towards the end of my fall semester, when everything seemed like a tragedy and I went home numb.

the moment – tame impala

“in the end it’s stronger than I know how to be, and I can’t just spend my whole lifetime wondering. I fell in love with the sound of my heels on the wooden floor, I don’t want my footsteps to be silent anymore…”

crane your neck – lady lamb

and how it hurts, even in the sun. it’s a god-damned joke how we can hurt even in the sun. for a heart beats the best in the bed beside the one that it loves, oh yes a heart beats the best when in a head, death becomes irrelevant. ’cause if you’re dreaming about dying, then you’re not really living, darling. you’ve gotta be starving, you’ve gotta be starving for it...”

lonely – mean lady

it’s almost over, time when we’re not together. I feel it getting better all the time. and what if it takes too long? what if it takes too long and I’m lonely? how can it break me and make me so strong? what if it takes too long?”

new person, same old mistakes – tame impala

“and I know that it’s hard to digest, a realization is as good as a guess. and I know it seems wrong to accept, but you’ve got your demons and she’s got her regrets…”

wanderer, wandering – slow club

“I’ll ask where you’re going, and what you’re doing. you have no answer, ’cause you’re a wanderer, wandering, you’re a wanderer, wandering. and every second is a pounding drum, you’re leaning over me to put another record on, and every other guess is just cold hard luck…”

17 – youth lagoon

“surrounded by nothing, but nothing’s surrounded by us, it’s just me in my room, with my eyes shut. oh, when I was seventeen, my mother said to me, ‘don’t stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die…'”

hard to explain – the strokes

“I say the right thing but act the wrong way, I like it right here but I cannot stay… I missed the last bus, we’ll take the next train, I’ll try but you see, it’s hard to explain…”

The following are songs I’ll associate with the sadness of excitement. With the first drives up for the purpose of orienting myself here. With the Champlain sunsets, the firsts, the endless Ben and Jerry’s post-class outings, the sun catching itself perfectly in a window as I study. With the times I’d looked around with a soft sense of realization and wonder and knew I would be okay, and times I’d fallen asleep blurring the lines between here and home.

man on fire – edward sharpe & the magnetic zeroes

“come dance with me, over murder and pain, come dance with me, over heartache and shame. I wanna see our bodies burning like old big suns, I wanna know what we’ve been learning and learning from…”

reality in motion – tame impala

it made my heart run in circles and overflow, and I was closer than ever to letting go. it made my heart run in circles and overdrive, and I was closer than ever to feeling alive… heading for the deep end, soon as I remember, baby I surrender, I just need to breathe out, decisions are approaching, reality in motion…”

tiny cities – flume ft. beck

“can I? should I? find my way home? now did I, think I’d better go home. all I said I needed was gone, but I thought I heard it all wrong… but it’s never easy when you think you have it in control, somehow you get caught up in the moment and you never know…”

where the skies are blue – the lumineers

you’re gonna leave, it ain’t gonna break my heart, mama, cause I’ve never seen nobody quite like you. and if you ever change your tune, oh the world’s got the best of you, you can always find me where the skies are blue…”

settle – two door cinema club

“’cause I see the world in different colors to someone like you. the city will pull you in, romantic and drenched in sin, love. you only have but a time until this place will swallow you whole…”

no no no – beirut

don’t know the first thing about who you are, my heart is waiting, taken in from the start. if we don’t go now, we won’t get very far. don’t know the first thing about who you are…”

rivers and roads – the head and the heart

been talkin’ about the way things change, and my family lives in a different state. if you don’t know what to make of this, then we will not relate… rivers and roads, rivers and roads. rivers ’til I reach you…”

Where All the Veins Meet

This morning, I smiled at my reflection in the mirror, noticing a crop of new freckles and some peeling skin on my nose. It’s finally warm in Burlington. It may not last, but for the next ten days we are north of 50 degrees, which is all I can ask for. I smudged generous amounts of grapefruit essential oil on my wrists and neck and mixed it in with a few drops of the fragrance I’ve come to associate with my soul itself; Beach by Bobbi Brown. Together this combination reminds me of summer mornings at home cutting up a grapefruit, wearing a free people dress and going on a bike ride to the beach.

I am so happy here and don’t want to leave Vermont, because it’s so fun and beautiful, but I miss home so much. I don’t know how it’s possible to feel both. I can’t wait to jump feet first into the ocean, but I’m going to miss climbing up mountains and stumbling down to the waterfront with a picnic blanket, beer, and a sandwich. I guess my life is filled with so much beauty and the fact that I can’t have both places I love at once makes me sad.

IMG_7836

Yesterday I led a hike, my first real hike, up a mountain that was coated in thick untrustworthy layers of snowfall. By the time I left my socks were soaked through with snow and mud and my leggings were adhered to my ass from the times I fell and let myself slide. We sang along to Vermont radio stations on the way home and I was so tired and happy. A lot of the girls had never gone hiking before, and some were annoyed at how slow they were, but it just reminded me of a cliche, that we all get down the mountain somehow, no matter how unprepared or how likely to stumble we are. Even the best hikers on that trip had to sled down some parts, their packs soaked through with snowpack. It’s maybe a metaphor for this semester. Yeah, going uphill is hard, and you don’t know where to put your feet sometimes and your leg can fall through really easily, but the view at the top is great. On the flipside of that, the way down can be quicker and easy, but slushy, unreliable, and filled with challenges.

With that metaphor in mind, I know I’m just stumbling through the slush and mud in the final throes of spring semester. But I’m choosing to love it, rather than how much I hated it last semester. If there’s anything I wish I’d done differently, it would have been to talk to people. To wear the clothing I wore in high school. To try not to change so fast just because my surroundings did. To sing to Hozier in the shower on Monday mornings, to color in your journal on the quad, and to text that girl you met at a leadership conference to make popcorn and have a picnic. Follow the girl in your spanish class on instagram when you come across it. Talk to the boy in your environmental science class, ask him about Minnesota, go to a party and ask for a hit of his joint and be his friend. College can be just as socially smooth as high school was for you, Maina, if you just treat it that way.

My advice to future college freshman: buy the expensive fruit at the farmer’s markets, hang out with the kids you met in your orientation group, laugh for hours over breakfast instead of getting up after twenty minutes to study. Trust everyone and be content, like the wholesome meme says. People notice what you’ve got going on in your head, regardless of what the 2012 tumblr depression blogs say, so just choose to enjoy the challenges and people will enjoy them with you. I can’t believe I took all of this from a hike, but I guess the weather getting warm reminds me of who I really am. I do believe that people take after certain seasons and I know mine is summer so I am doing my best to reflect how I feel right now onto others.

I can’t really end this on a note that will tie this information together up neatly like most of my posts do. I feel like there is so much I’m going to live over this last month and two days of my freshman year. I cannot believe it’s almost over. So I’m just going to leave a poem that reminds me of this time in my life, so when I feel this way all over again it will make sense.

“As I write
the coffee shop is getting crowded
My back is to the line and counter
but I hear as people enter and exit
the creak of the door
I feel the cool draft 
the outside air gushing in eagerly
while it is able
Overhead is Bono’s voice
replacing Chris Martin’s
“I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls”
My left bicep starts to throb
I rub my eyes
“But I still haven’t found
what I’m looking for”
“But I still haven’t found
what I’m looking for”
The throbbing stops
and I inhale deeply
resting my head on the concrete wall beside me
painted white
although not fresh and fragrant” (x)
IMG_7811

Toast Can Never Be Bread Again

FullSizeR

This weekend was so strange in a wonderful way. If a little over a month ago I was feeling the seasons change from winter to fake spring, I felt the seasons change from winter to real spring this weekend. It snowed one (hopefully) last time Friday night, the sleet coming down in large swaths, at first melting as soon as it hit pavement and dry grass but eventually coalesced and stuck overnight. Saturday morning it turned into real snow and continued to fall over Burlington; the white sky encompassed absolutely everything and turned windows on Battery Street into stark alabaster canvases.

My favorite days are the ones where I explore Burlington by myself, picking the music I want to listen to, which bus seat I want to occupy, and what cafe I want to do work in. I walked around Church Street, College Street, and looked into most stores I have never entered before. I went to Burlington City Arts, I was the only one in the whole museum, and watched people walk through city park. I did work at a new cafe, August First, and drew in my journal until my hands hurt.

I agreed to have about ten members of Champlain College Class of 2021 in my common room Saturday night. I got them weed, they smoked, we talked. I forgot that people are excited about Burlington. I see it in the faces of the tourists and the way I feel when I look at sunsets, but Burlington lost next to all of its glimmer that it possessed when I visited here almost two years ago. They all inspired me to make more of a conscious effort to notice the excitement here, because it’s there, and we’ve all just gotten used to it, and that’s sad.

IMG_7682

I don’t know what it is, but something clicked in me after spring break. I felt it as I was laying in my bed, watching i-D videos about Korean beauty standards and slowly falling into a deep sleep. The sunlight reflected off of the snow coating the rooftops of South 1 and streamed through my window, illuminating the sounds of birds chirping. For a second, I felt like I was home. Not in the college-is-my-home-fuck-my-hometown way, but I started to blur the lines between Clinton and Burlington for a second, in sleep stasis. It was the same kind of settled feeling I felt in the car on the way to Walmart today when Emily and I had the windows down and Dug My Heart was playing. I didn’t feel inclined to lean my knees against the center console and tense up. I didn’t feel inclined to stay awake for fear of inconveniencing my roommates when they returned from the gym. I fell asleep peacefully, not dreaming at all, settled.

 

Both Sides Now

I have such a fascination with life, and hopefully it shows in everything I do, say, and create. It always strikes me how unpredictable and difficult life can be, and how we really, truly only have ourselves. For me, I know I have me, and some people I can count on the most, like my mother, father, brother, and sister. I know they have to and want to love me and care about me and my wellbeing, because they feel tied to me through blood and familial relation.

As much as I absolutely value the connection of friendship, and how I recognize that without my closest and even farthest friends I would not be who I am today, friendship is so fucking fleeting. They end over the smallest of things, or end quietly and you didn’t even notice. A lot of times, I find myself running away in friendships, blocking and unblocking them on Instagram, removing their photo on my lockscreen, avoiding eye contact or snapchats. And it’s so much harder to not care about people because of social media. Social media is fucked up in that sense. I want nothing more than to have some people out of my life. But the kid who falsely accused me of raping him in high school just updated his relationship status on Facebook, and my ex roommate posted a cute picture of the room she redid when I left. It’s. So. Hard.

And I was just saying today that I need to do things alone. I am creative when I’m by myself and I am more myself when I am alone. I can look at things differently when I’m alone and am fully immersed in my own voice and thoughts. I watch the videos and movies I want to watch, I pick and choose what I want to wear regardless of what others may think and what I want to listen to and not have to worry about who doesn’t like rap music.

Another part of me is always like Who are you kidding, you need humans to survive. And I know that. I know I am so reliant on human interaction. I love it and I thrive off of it, and I love making friends and seeing people’s posts on Facebook and VSCO. I love knowing what others are doing because half of it is curiosity and insecurity and the other have is just gathering genuine inspiration.

But then I get a mean text, or a side glance at the dining hall table, or an unanswered snapchat chat, and everything changes. I see the red minus symbols next to their heads like I’m playing Sims. And everything changes. I go back into my hole and I listen to Frank Ocean like it’s eighth grade all over again. Then I discover new parts of me and enter the real world ready to repeat the cycle all over again.

But this is also when I am most vulnerable. When I am all alone I feel fully powerful in a completely vulnerable way, like my soul is standing naked at an open window during a winter storm. And this kid came over last night, we ate chips and drank and talked about our childhoods, and I forgot what it was to feel like this. It’s such a thrill but also makes me want to cry myself to sleep. And that’s when I realized that that is love. Not love in the traditional let’s-get-married, we’re-soulmates sense, but the hey, I love life and so many other people do too and we all experience it different ways love. The kind of love that recognizes Manhattan and Philadelphia as someone’s childhood cities instead of Manhattan and Boston. And that’s the best way to think of it. Yeah, you might not have gone to concerts in Philadelphia on the weekends, but you did go to the Met, and so did he, and you both donated $1 like bad patrons and stared at the art like you were trying to become it.

Love is the vulnerability I feel turning on music I was too afraid to listen to because it reminds me of my old suitemate that I didn’t let myself have feelings for. Love is thinking of the three instances you have watched Pepperoni Playboy with people; one with Amanda on a senior snow day falling asleep, one with Olivia in Peter’s bed high off your ass, and one at 2 a.m. with a boy from New Jersey wearing olive green pants. Love is life and connection and disconnecting for a while and not always having to bring things full circle, because you know that the universe will do that for you and it will fill you with awe and raw emotion. Fascinating.

Ideal Shopping List

  • dates
  • Justin’s hazelnut butter, the big jar
  • rice cakes
  • whole grain bread
  • maple brown sugar oatmeal
  • cacoa nibs
  • lemons
  • nectarines
  • plums
  • smoked gouda cheese, pre-sliced
  • blueberries
  • chia seeds
  • butter lettuce
  • classic hummus
  • cinnamon sugar
  • coconut shavings
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • a few bananas
  • deep river potato chips
  • lemonade
  • guacamole
  • hint of lime tortilla chips
  • vanilla yogurt
  • bagels
  • berry cream cheese
  • peaches
  • pineapple
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • passion fruit
  • honeycrisp apples
  • whole grain pasta
  • pasta sauce with spices
  • fresh Italian bread
  • white wine

Fake Spring: Sunrises

One of the things I live for in this life is fake spring. I swear, this is a real thing. When it hits late February, usually like 22nd through 24th-ish, there’s random 50 degree weather that comes out of nowhere and forces you to wear a lighter coat and step over puddles. If you think I’m lying, watch the end of this video I made last year and tell me that history isn’t repeating itself.

I know fake spring is just a product of global warming, and it ends as soon as March hits, but I love reveling in it.

Fake spring brings a lot of beautiful sunrises. Since my roommate doesn’t sleep in my room anymore (don’t ask), I perpetually keep the window blinds open, and every morning around 6:40 or so I wake up for just a few minutes to watch the mountains turn orange and pink. Of course, I go right back to sleep, but it’s so cute that the sun wakes me up like that to have that moment.

That used to happen to me when I lived in my house on the beach. I would wake up to one of the most beautiful songs in the entire world, Ms by alt-j, which soon became my regular alarm, and I would eat a slow breakfast and write in my journal in front of the waves because the sunrise came through my window with such force that I could not go back to sleep; my room was too orange. It is one of my favorite memories ever and always makes me feel so calm.

vsco_022116

I actually found a piece of writing from sometime during senior year about those Fake Spring sunrises, something I have never shown anyone (and listen to this while reading)…

I never thought months later at 5:45 AM I would be missing my old routine.

Wecan’tlosetouchbutwecan’tletgooooo

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOhhhhh….. My eyes open. My room is soft gold. The deep brown wood of the skylight and closet window is the color of my hair. My hair is long, I am wearing a bleach-printed thin white t-shirt, my track bag is packed in the corner. It could be the morning of my AP testing, the morning of prom, or the morning of my birthday, but regardless, pink and gold and orange light fills the room with such intensity that I am forced to get up.

Blueandwhitegunmadefromle-e-e-gooooo

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOOh….. I turn over in my light pink comforter and my bed squeaks. I smell the smell that permeates the house that I cannot describe. It’s clean and furniture-y and sandy. I’ll know it if I go back. It’s something in the carpets. I feel the empty stomach and chapped lips of an early morning, the weight of the world holding me in bed. It’s how I felt the morning of April 30th, and how I feel now.

Allthevowelsvowtoholdyourname…. I am thinking about the oatmeal concoction coming to me. I roll out of bed and go to the blueberry bowls, checking every window along the way for signs of the sunrise. The sunrise follows me down the captain’s stairs, and floods my path towards the kitchen. I stop and turn and run to the backyard, the backyard is ocean number thirty one.

Keepyourestateeeeeeeeee….. clean of me.

The feeling that I get when I open the door is like the feeling of the bells.

I’ve pillowed you so many times this week…. The sky is a shocked pink, the pink of lox sold to top bagels at Cohen’s and strawberry lollipops. The moon still looms up ahead and the ocean is beginning to breathe as we head throughout spring to its golden season. Pink, pink, pink, magenta, pearly pink with orange creamsicle. A little purple, like a periwinkle.

Closeeyes,open,closeagain,forgetand fall asleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

The air is a wet cold punctuated with warm salt, coating my face in a residue that will hang throughout the day like laundry on the line that never quite dries. The hot and cold gusts fuse together uncomfortably. I shiver out of hunger and drowsiness. But I begin to wake up. I walk down the steep wooden attachment stairs and hit sand. My feet, dry, tread sand easily and then I sit down.

The dark seeks dark. The dark seeks dark. OOOOOOooooooohhhhh, darker.

oOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooohhhhh, darker.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooOoooOOooOooOOoOOooooh,

Andthat’sallofmyyouthpressedintooneglassofwater.

Yes, I’m Gone to Connecticut in My Mind

My opinion of myself and what is best for me always changes. It changes based on new revelations I have within myself but most often it changes due to influences from people around me. This is probably that one defining character flaw that would lead to my demise if I was a Greek goddess in a mythology tale. I can never seem to trust my own instincts until it is too late.

I need to transfer. Financially, it makes sense. I need to go back to Connecticut and get an undergraduate degree at the best college for the lowest amount I can. I have been denying myself the right to say “need” instead of “should.” This is where I will consciously recognize that I need to transfer. This is my record.

Watch this movie clip if you want to understand the next few paragraphs.
I have been tearing myself up about this since the day I stepped foot on campus. But I knew it as soon as I boarded the airplane for Washington, D.C. I got the exact feeling that I felt when I was a little girl watching What a Girl Wants, when Daphne leaves a voicemail for her mother to listen to while she leaves the country to find her dad. I have always wanted to feel that feeling, the complete serenity in my head and heart that I know I’m doing the right thing, even if it seems hard and like I’m breaking a lot of rules.

As I type this in my bed, rewatching this scene over and over again, there is a reason five-year-old me loved this movie so much and this specific scene. I used to rewind it and watch it until my mother got tired of it and told me to cut it out. I would like to thank my younger self for drilling into my head that I should always follow my heart and my instincts. Even if I don’t remember to most of the time, whenever I get the feeling that I do when Daphne leaves Manhattan, I know that whatever I decided was right for me.

Going to school in D.C. eventually is going to be one of the biggest goals I have ever set for myself. And I intend to accomplish it. Not in my undergraduate years, but in my graduate years. Someday I will sign a lease for an apartment on some street that begins and ends with a letter of the alphabet or the name of a state. And I’m going to sit there and be thankful that eighteen-year-old me had the guts to go against my outside influences and follow what I know is right for me and me alone.

I don’t regret coming here and figuring out all there it is to figure out. I learned how to live with multiple personalities under one roof, three separate times. I learned what I don’t want and what I do want. These two semesters, even as this one continues, just keep changing me into the adult I will eventually fully become.

I would like to thank two of my good friends here in Vermont for reminding me that this isn’t just me. UVM’s retainment rate is pretty low. I’m still going to be dramatic and upset over this decision, just because this is who I am, but I’m not alone.

For Being Dramatic About Transferring

…(because there is a playlist for everything)

Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson                          For the First Time – The Script

I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross                       Butterfly Fly Away – Miley Cyrus

Landslide (Live) – Fleetwood Mac               Carolina in My Mind – James Taylor

Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks                My Eyes – The Lumineers

Out of Place – Gavin Thorpe                          I’m Like a Bird – Nelly Furtado

Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield                So Yesterday – Hilary Duff