This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beginning of Summertime

Original title, I know. I just woke up from a nap to bids chirping outside my window. I'm settled in now in my apartment for the summer with one of my besties, Gianna. She's off at the hospital most mornings working and I'm raking in 30hrs a week at my smoothie job. Each week though I get a few days off which makes for lovely laziness.

I've missed living in an apartment, though it is nice to have one with some natural sunlight.
(Sidenote: I HEAR AN ICE CREAM TRUCK!)
Living in a sorority house was quite the adventure and though I'm glad I did it, never again. As much as I love my sisters I cannot live with thirty of them. How does drama always seem to follow me? I shall never understand.

Alex is on his way over and we'll partake in some necessary post-work-week-raging and head off to his hometown nearby for the day tomorrow. He's doing a 5K in Milwaukee in late July which means another excuse to visit the homeland for a couple days. I'm looking forward to going home solo for a week for the 4th and enjoying some Summerfest. I may not miss my suburb at all, but Milwaukee has a special place in my heart.

Things are going...well. Nothing much more to it than that, no crazy revelations, notable writings (except for the chapter I'm currently working on), friend problems, grade/school worries, or love-life concerns. Mondays are going to be my main "writing days" and though I'm still getting into the swing of the summer, I know I can manage at least that. And, Autumn Leaves will be done in 80 days (the beginning of sorority recruitment work week). This I know.

I managed a 3.0 for the semester, brought my GPA back up a point and a bit, and finally passed Latin III. I did decent on my finals considering how much effort I put into a few of them. This past semester has been my first in which I genuinely enjoyed every one of my classes. Shakespeare and Performing Autobiography were obviously my favorites and taught me more than any college classes thus far.

My stepmom is due with the twins (Soren and Maisey) in a couple months and my siblings seem to be doing well. It freaks me out most though to think my sister finished her first year in college and that my brother and I are both preparing for graduations next year, his high school, mine my undergraduate. It's strange that babies will be present in my house for the first time in over two decades but I'm excited for more wee-ones nonetheless.

I miss my friends back at home in Milwaukee and I miss summers with Stephie, but the change of scenery is doing wonders for my mood. Summers used to stress me out and make me itch with a need to escape my home. Now being away from Wisconsin makes visiting something to which I can actually look forward.

Being in Iowa City for the summer has been wonderful so far; it combines all the great parts of the school year minus the classes. You forget sometimes how much there is to explore in this lovely city and I want to have a couple adventures myself in the next few months. Most of all though, I hope I can get used to all this time spent at work.

Dear Smile on My Face,
             Please don't leave anytime soon. Mkay, thanks.
Love Always,
            Molly Jane
First day of summer

Summer nights are entertaining

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Junior Year Reflections

The night before the start of finals week, I feel I can give an accurate summary of my junior year. Last year was probably the most eventful of my college days what with joining a sorority and studying abroad. This year though has been a test of friendships and relationships.

Two relationships in this school year, both similar in that they've made me happy but very different. The first taught me what I wanted and didn't in a relationship and what it felt like to be loved. I learned how to care about someone besides myself and invest in something stronger than a friend. I discovered heartbreak is sudden and while not permanent, will always sting a little upon reminiscing.

My boyfriend, Alex, and me at my sorority formal
The second is moving slower which I appreciate and feels more relaxed, more comfortable, and there's far less pressure. There's a panic you feel in some relationships, ones that can eat away at your sanity and make you wonder what's wrong with you, but this one doesn't feel that way. I don't feel like my identity is wrapped up in being with him or that without him, I'd be nothing. Granted, he means the world to me and I don't know what I'd do if he weren't in my life, but losing someone you once loved has made it easier to stay grounded.

Me and Michelle, at midnight on my 21st
       I've learned maintaining certain friendships are harder than others. You become closer-er-ish with thirty girls when you live with them in a sorority house. Plus, you don't have to put the effort in of leaving the house or putting on pants. However, there are those people you've met over the years and say you should hang with who seem to disappear.

It's not that you don't care about them; it's that there are too many of them with which to mingle. You meet so many people in college and it becomes impossible to stay in contact with everyone. Eventually it got to the point that I was having three or four coffee dates a week and now at the end of this year, I'm addicted. That's what friendship does: creates addictions.

Kidding (sorta) aside, I've found the true friends are the ones you don't feel obligated to spend time with at all. My best friend Michelle and I are quite busy, so we have a set date every Wednesday between classes. Sure, we've missed it a couple times, but I look forward to it on Wednesday morning and I know she does too. I see Gianna all the time and we spend plenty of time together outside of the house.

Me and my darling Gianna
Feeling obligated to spend time with people makes me feel antsy, so I gravitate toward those who being with comes effortlessly. I used to think friends were the people you like to be around but I've realized it's much more than that: it's people you can stand being with for more than five hours at a time. You may get annoyed with each other but never bored, that's the key.

Me, Cass, Alicia, and NatNat in Ireland
It's been harder to stay in contact with my sister regularly since she's off at college as well now and has her own crazy schedule to keep organized. It's been hard to stay in contact with Alicia, Cassie, and Natalie since we're all so far apart from each other and/or insanely busy. So how does it work? I lived with all these girls, Stephie for sixteen years and the other three for five months, and that struggle of living together for so long creates a bond that time and distance does not break.

Stephie and me Christmas morning
My beautiful friends back home--Brittany, Jamie, Kailey, Kaitlin, Dana, Michelle, Carrie--and I stay connected via the wonders of Facebook and we all make a concerted effort to see the gang or at least a couple of the girls during breaks. I saw a few of them during Thanksgiving, almost all of them over Winter Break, and a few during Spring Break. It's a lot of work, yes, but we're all dedicated to staying friends. Seven years strong!

Michelle, Carrie, Dana, Kaitlin, and me in Milwaukee at Alterra on the Lake
School is challenging, thinking about the future is stressful, work is aggravating, but your significant other and friends are harder than anything. Unlike the other things though, they're much more fun at the end of the day. And of course they don't make you take stupid mother fucking finals.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"I Hate Seagulls"

I've been obsessed with this song now for months, probably because almost every word describes me (one of the things that doesn't is cream teas...ew...who wants cream in their tea?!). Obviously I'm avoiding studying Latin grammar and vocabulary and writing another blog post instead. Here are the lyrics:

I hate seagulls and I hate being sick
I hate burning my finger on the toaster 
And I hate nits
I hate falling over
I hate grazing my knee
I hate picking off the scab a little bit too early
I hate getting toothaches
I hate when it's a piss take
I hate all the mistakes I make
I hate rude, ignorant bastards
And I hate snobbery
I hate anyone who if I was serving chips
Wouldn't talk to me

But I have a friend
With whom I like to spend any time I can find with
I like sleeping in your bed
I like knowing what is going on inside your head
I like taking time 
And I like your mind
And I like when your hand is in mine
I like getting drunk on the dunes by the beach
I like picking strawberries
I like cream teas
And I like reading ghost stories


And my heart skips a beat every time that we meet
It's been a while and now your smile 
Is almost like a memory
But then you're back and I am fine
'Cus you're with me and I'm in love with you
And I can't find the words to make this sound unique
But honestly you make me strong
I can't believe I found someone this kind
I hope we carry on 'cus you're so nice
And I'm in love with you.

Cute, right? I smile every time I hear this song; I'm not sure why but I'm guessing it's the sheer adorableness of it all. I wish I could write something like this, so carefree and scattered but somehow organized. It's organized in its simplicity I think and I like the contrast of hate, like, and love. Such a large ascending tricolon (rhetorical device from my Cicero translations...at least some of it is sinking in) makes for a great structure and I want to emulate that. I don't see sometimes that my sentences start to look the same or at least follow a certain pattern.

Two of the women who were in my Performing Autobiography class are in the Nonfiction Writer's Workshop and hearing the writing in their pieces was inspiring. They had a similar flow to this, seamless, varied, quirky and heartwarming while also being perfectly subtle. There's this little "oomph," a step between mine and theirs that I'm missing and I want to find what exactly that is and use it in my own work.

As this summer fast approaches (only finals week stands between me, lots of writing time, plenty of bottles of wine, and many many smoothies being made) I dread and look forward to Autumn Leaves. It's been so long, far too long, since I've sat down and worked my hardest on this. I was looking through some of my stuff from last spring when I was in Cork, Ireland and found this explanation of how Autumn Leaves came to be and description of what it's like to write:

"Autumn Leaves was a combination of two shorter stories and a more exaggerated expression of my own mental crisis during my youth and early teens. The first story became the relationship that is Autumn and Jake. The second was born from my fascination with the school shooting of Columbine, but I wanted to add my own spin to it. Story originally was called "The Shooting" (around '08) since that scene was the first I wrote. The rape element became the main focus of the story shortly after I started connecting these stories; it was a result of my great fear of sexual assault, my obsession with Law & Order: SVU, and interest in the pathology of rapists and effects of early childhood development. Mother aspect added shortly thereafter to give depth to Autumn's character and because of my new desire to explore the powerful relationship (and devastating destruction) of mother and daughter. This exploration took on new weight after my mom passed and became much more important to me and a stronger focus overall. I wanted to figure out how a relationship like this could fail so horribly and made me appreciate mine with my own mom even more. The plot outline was finished around early '09, by which point I had written (independently) the shooting scene and breakdown. The next year I started working from the beginning, finally meeting up to the shooting scene by the end. In '11 I've been spending my time editing, hoping to write more in '12 and finish by the end of that year."

 "When I write, it's like I'm no longer me in a sense. I become one with my imagination, with those parts of me hidden away in the darkest corners of my mind. Time has no length; seconds or hours could pass and I wouldn't know be able to tell the difference. Then, after these bursts of creative passion and clarity, I look at the paper or computer screen before me. 'How did I create this?' I wonder. I am proud of what I've done, but if I were asked to retrace how it is that I came up with these ideas, characters, symbolism, or even specific word choices, I have no satisfactory answer. They come to me in dreams mostly, my stories; it's my subconscious that's the brilliant and creative one. Not me. But when I'm actually writing, I don't know where the words come from since it doesn't feel conscious. I guess that's what makes it so special to me: the mystery of it all."

Maybe reading these insights I had last year when my mind wasn't so cluttered and I wasn't so stressed will give me the motivation to keep studying. If I study, I can get these finals over with and get working on what I love and keep forgetting that I love. I'd hate to let myself forget that for long.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crazy Old Man

So there's this crazy old man who changed my life. I saw him frequently for two years and every so often since then, but he made an impact on me I struggle to explain. He was my theater teacher, my director, and still is to some extent my mentor and always my friend:

Nick Weber.

Anyone who knows me will know at least a couple Mr. Weber stories from my theater days. If you mention DSHA, high school, theater, Shakespeare, or any combination of the four, I'll talk for hours about this man.

I met Mr. Weber the summer coming into my freshman year of high school. I was this short, gangly, awkward-looking, loud fourteen year old trying out for "Oklahoma" even though I could barely sing. I remember distinctively singing, "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" and looking at this man in his late sixties out in the audience.

He was balding, a few liver spots here and there, and those classic tufts of white hair on either side of his head. He had these thin silver glasses perched half way down his nose, scribbling furiously...then he paused and heard me singing. He put his pen down, looked up at me, and his left eye started to twitch. Uncontrollably. I didn't make it into the chorus that fall for the musical.

Mr. Weber would go on to be my teacher that fall in Acting I and would be my director in the spring. He gave me my first lead role (besides the Wicked Witch of the West in middle school) and fostered my love of theater. It was the smallest role in the lead cast, but as one of two freshman in this lead cast, I felt special and lucky to be a part of the production.

At the end of the year, he pulled me aside and told me he recommended me for Advanced Acting in the fall since he was retiring. It meant a lot to me he was doing this last thing for me as a student. The next year around December, I got a letter in the mail saying Mr. Weber was coming back to replace his replacement for the semester. I never screamed louder after getting mail, even my acceptance letter to Iowa.

"The Imaginary Invalid" and my lead role in that production coupled with various emotional issues going on at the moment made for a trying semester. Yet I put my all into that role, working harder on Argan than almost any character since. Moliere's play gave me a reason to go on in the time I was diagnosed with PTSD and the years before I received the correct treatment.  The faith Mr. Weber instilled in me and the talent he helped me foster meant everything that spring.

The next spring when my mom died, I held my composure fairly well throughout the wake. That is, I sucked back the tears until I saw Mr. Weber's head coming up the line. I lost it completely when he held me in a huge hug, telling me he was so sorry for my loss. I had an infinite amount of respect for that man who discovered something in myself I did not know existed and he was here, at my mother's wake, even though I hadn't seen him in months.

Since my junior year, I've seen Mr. Weber a handful of times around DSHA when I was still there and a couple when I've visited coincidentally on days he has as well. Last year he started a blog I read occasionally when I was abroad and hearing his voice in my head again made me smile. My high school friend, Gaby, messaged me and let me know his autobiography was finally published: The Circus that Ran Away with a Jesuit Priest. I think I need to get on this and purchase it now for the man who has fascinated me for almost a decade.

Tomorrow is my final showcase for Performing Autobiography with the written, directed, and produced student pieces. Mine is called, "Object of Your Affection" and don't forget the end collaborative piece with our erotica short stories. The latter will be presented with my class sprawled out on each other in a massive orgy. Hm, I'm guessing stuff like this wouldn't have worked the best at an all-girl's Catholic high school.

When I look into the audience tomorrow when I perform, I'll imagine Mr. Weber is sitting in his usual seat in the back left hand corner with that odd, twisted expression on his face in concentration. I thought for the longest time that it was a negative face, but it turns out it was a positive one. Here's to hoping someone out there scrunches up their eyebrows for me.
I'm on the left as Argan in "The Imaginary Invalid"