Shaking Off the Rust

TWO MONTHS LATER…

Blogging regularly on here (or elsewhere) is like taking a cooking class; it always sounds like a good idea, but I never seem to get around to it. Judging by the lack of recent posts on this blog, I assume that I’m not alone in this struggle. At least we’re all failing together (hurrah for collective failure!).

I’ve been working on becoming more disciplined lately. I’ve focused on basic things like making my bed daily, keeping up on laundry, washing dishes immediately following a meal, etc. These are all small things, but they add up over time (particularly if one doesn’t keep up with those menial chores). Listening to podcasts like the Jocko Podcast (particularly the episode with Jordan Peterson’s interview) have helped fuel my desire to stay disciplined. And while I’ve been able to keep up with those basic tasks, I haven’t yet moved on to the work I actually want to do regularly: writing.

In addition to not writing on this blog, I haven’t been writing much elsewhere. The energy to write regularly has been gone for months now. This is partly caused by working at a highly repetitive job that leeches my soul away every weekday; it’s also partially caused by me being totally “out of shape” with writing. I haven’t written regularly in years. Going to college and working full-time stripped away a lot of free time and energy that I used to have in abundance. Now, I have to make time to write. Creativity follows no schedule though, and it’s exceedingly rare to find a time where I can write and I feel like writing.

I think the key to getting over this variety of writer’s block is to simply keep writing regularly. I gotta shake the rust off and get back to the base level of writing fitness I had back during the twentyeleven days.

Please forgive me in advance for some less than stellar posts that might come out at the beginning of this endeavor (including this one). I promise that they’ll eventually get better, but it will take time. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Look for another post from me on here by Tuesday.

-Will

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Home sick, time to scheme, make it your own, etc. 

Hey, guys.

I’ve come down with something ominously representing influenza, so in the sanctity of my lonely apartment, I have opened the windows, turned on some chill beats, and I have time to plan. This is the first time in my whole life that I’ve had a bedroom entirely my own to design, and it’s so disappointingly barren.

Now, some of you don’t know me that well, some of you know me TOO well. I need things in my life. I need a cluttered space. Anything too tidy distracts me and keeps me from being able to function. Anything too messy or “full” overwhelms me and causes a near panic attack.

I’ve recently come to embrace the side of me that loves herself. She loves wearing a lot of makeup, looking as pretty as she can, she loves dressing up in fancy clothes and *gasp from former me* wearing high heels. She reads anything she can get her hands on, she cooks for herself and others because she can and she’s damn good at it, she does nice things for strangers because she lives to put smiles on faces. She isn’t sure of her place in the world, but that doesn’t scare her anymore. She knows life is about the journey. She plans to start donating time to others, she dreams of a life away from home, she hopes for everything she’s ever wanted. Because she knows she can have it.

When I was 13, I went to summer camp for the first time. I was gone for 5 days. I had just finished painting my bedroom a shade called “bubbly lavender”. I remember the shade because I picked it out and tortured my mom with many a shrill “please!” before she finally caved and let me have anything but white in my room. She also let me get some yellow bedding, covered in different colored roses. The reverse side of the comforter was purple with green damask stripes. So cool. I had a 1970s brown wicker lamp hanging over a corner of my room with nothing at all under it. I got home from summer camp, had a sandwich and some strawberries, and went downstairs to my room to unpack and figure out which camp best friend to call first. I walked in, and gasped. My mom had painted a desk for me. Yellow to match my comforter, with multicolored rose appliqués under the knobs and on the desktop. This desk, I later learned, belonged to my great-grandma who was the nicest lady I’ve ever known. All I have of her are photos of her smiling down at us so big it looks like her face might split in half, and this desk. It was one of the only surviving members of a pretty devastating flood that I don’t have a lot of other history on yet. It’s old as shit, guys. That’s what I’m getting at. I  was able to borrow shop space from a buddy and get him to help me sand it down and prime it, and this week I’ll be painting it, applying a fun glittery finish, installing agate knobs and a custom glass top and putting it in my room, with a matching mirror above it. It will be something I look at every day and remember how much I am loved. It will be with me and my family for as long as it stands. It will be where I do my makeup and silently remind myself each day that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter how daunting the task. That’s something I never used to put much faith towards. I have always relied on the reassurance of others that I am enough. Now I feel that from within. I am more than enough and I am here for a reason.

Gosh, these get long quickly, don’t they? Time for another fever nap.

Love, Kelci.

Six Years Later…

It’s been awhile since we last spoke, but I think we can skip the awkward small talk.

My life has gone in a vastly different direction than I assumed it would back in 2011. Looking back at this post, I can’t help but laugh– I was so naive. I was so convinced back then that biochemistry was the major for me. After nearly failing my first chemistry exam, I soon realized that I didn’t love chemistry as much as I thought I did. College in itself was a different experience than I assumed it would be back then. I thought that MSU would finally present an opportunity to explore the topics I loved, with challenges that went beyond boring busywork. College, I thought, would finally eliminate the things I loathed about academics from past experiences.

College turned out to be a completely different beast than I anticipated.

Writing the first draft of this post lead to the most depressing catalog of events that happened since 2011. I don’t want to sugarcoat the past and pretend everything has gone according to plan (because it really didn’t), but the last six-years haven’t been entirely terrible either. Great things happened. Awful things happened. Life happened! Focusing too much on either the highlights or the pitfalls would be disingenuous.

Distilling the past six years of life into a single post is nearly impossible though. To keep things brief, I’ll hit some of the important details here:

  • I’m currently living in Bozeman. I work for Gibson Acoustic. (If you would have told me six years ago that I would be making guitars, I wouldn’t have believed you.)
  • I’m dating my best friend, Kelci. (Another thing I probably wouldn’t have seen coming back in 2011.)
  • I totaled the old Focus back in 2013 (RIP in pieces). 2013 was a shitty year (for numerous reasons that I might dive into in a later post).
  • I have not graduated from MSU (yet). Changing majors multiple times, taking time off to avoid student loan debt, and other reasons have led to this delay. It’s something that really bugs me, but I do plan to finish my degree soon.
  • I finally got a motorcycle last year. Motorcycling has become one of my favorite hobbies. The mental clarity and presence you get on a bike is difficult to find anywhere else.
  • I’m an uncle! My nephew, David, is four-years old. He’s the best. (I don’t feel old enough to be an uncle, but it’s a pretty cool experience.)

Many other things happened since 2011, but I’ll leave some of those details for later posts. For now, I’m happy to be back with you all. This reunion of the twentyeleven crew was a total surprise. I want to thank Kelci for making this happen, as well as all of you who’ve come back and written a post on here. You guys rock.

I’ll write on here again soon. Until next time,

-Will

P.S. For a delightfully incomplete record of some of the things that happened since the twentyeleven project ended, you can check out my personal blog, The Final Summer.

T.M.C.

On 20e, there was a sort of running series that almost everyone contributed to that we (Joshua) affectionately labelled, “The Love Conundrum”. Any post addressing the love conundrum was simply a few paragraphs musing upon whatever romantic issues we each individually decided were imperative at the current time. Looking back at these, with and without context, I throw my head back and laugh loud like the only way I know how. Oh, to be young. I wish I had my old problems back. I’ve noticed with no difficulty exactly how challenging it can be to look back on your life and describe the ways in which you are different or the same. It’s far too vast a period to compare. It’s like saying “well, when I was born, I couldn’t walk or see or speak. Now, I am a teller at a credit union with a nice used car I can’t afford and an adorable downtown apartment with mediocre credit and no degree.” How in the hell do you even cover a spread that large? Personally, it would take at least a year to go into any valuable detail. So instead, I’m hoping to start a new series by the darling moniker “The Me Conundrum”. Figuring out who has a crush on you is no longer an important thing in my life. I want to break down who I am and who I used to be and why those are two completely different, very familiar human beings. I like the formatting Anna used, and aside from her bodies of text, the headings could honestly be my own. I’ll give it a shot.

Who I was:

  • I was so endearingly naive. I was like a character from a John Green Novel that thought she was invincible. I acted like I was. I read my old posts and its a nauseating combination of nostalgia, affection, and embarrassment.
  • I trusted anyone I met immediately.
  • I was extremely musically, socially, and academically inclined. I never slept. I had insomnia at the time, so my schedule typically consisted of waking up, making breakfast for myself and my little brother, going to school, doing homework at Off the Leaf (RIP) or my mom’s backyard (weather permitting), hanging out with as many friends as I could fit in my giant boat of a car and listening to the same 6 songs on a loop until we had them memorized, and then going back home and speaking spanish to myself while looking at old photos or reading. (I considered it studying to read an english book and translate it to spanish out loud to the best of my ability.) This fact embarrasses me and impresses mostly everyone else. I would often experiment with hair and makeup until 2 or 3 AM, knowing full well that I’d go to school the next day wearing only eyeliner, mascara, and a ponytail.
  • I was unsuccessfully processing how to recover from the knowledge that my parents’ 23 year long marriage was over and pouring myself into anything I could to distract myself.
  • I was in love with the idea of being in love. I remember it being so important to me to have a boyfriend, I wanted to prove my parents’ failed marriage wrong so badly. A sort of “it’ll never happen to me” gesture. I was angry that my family was broken. This is a feeling that only left in recent years.
  • I fought with every single member of my family, all the time. I was a total asshole to the most important people in my life just because I didn’t know how to tell them that I was crushed. It didn’t seem like they cared. Of course they did. I was not alone in my suffering.
  • I was really, really good at spending money. I no longer have any of the things I spent that money on, and I always wished that I had saved it instead. That’s life.

 

Who I am Now:

  • I’m still really gullible and naive, but I am a lot better at pretending I’m not. Thanks to my favorite high school teacher, I literally “fake it til ya make it, kiddo”
  • I’m still an incredibly trusting, give-you-the-benefit-of-the-doubt sort of person, but I’ve learned to make people earn the initial trust. I am learning to be a little bit more selfish and put myself first. It’s a difficult habit to break, but I’m feeling a lot better about the way I’m treated by others now.
  • I’m still musically, socially, and academically inclined, but it’s a lot more uh, refined. I notice now that when I listen to music, I listen. I cant help but notice the way the drum beat compliments the rhythm guitar which compliments the independent cadence of the lyrics which of course are perfectly choreographed and harmonized. I am obsessed with music. I’m still staying polished on my spanish, I’m also trying to learn italian. I still feel most at home in a room full of people, but I’m learning to value solitude.
  • I’ve gotten over the damage done by my parents’ divorce, accepted that there was nothing I could have done, and repaired relationships with my family members. We’re almost closer than ever. My mom is one of my best friends, not exactly something I saw as a possibility at the time.
  • This next topic is always weird for me. I’m a serial monogamist. I’ve only been single for a total span of maybe 1 year out of the last 10. My shortest relationship in the last 6 years lasted 13 months. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had an affinity for getting through breakups quickly and painlessly. I suspect that since I’m usually the one ending the relationship, I go through the grief stages before the break happens. This goes back to the super-trusting-give-people-a-million-chances thing from before. I have explored this side of myself in therapy before, but it honestly doesn’t bother me too much. I see it as a blessing that I don’t get easily devastated over heartache.
  • I still drive around for fun, only now I get paid for it. I am always figuring out how to capitalize on my hobbies. I enjoy drinking coffee and talking to people and creating fun flavor combinations, so I worked as a barista for almost 4 years. I love driving around aimlessly listening to my favorite music, so now I drive for Uber and get paid to meet the strangest people you’ve ever heard of. I love growing things and watching the process from seed to garden, so I’m going to get a PhD in Plant Biology and figure out how to do something with that for the rest of my life.
  • I am becoming more acquainted with the logical, obsessive, organized side of myself. I used to be so lazy, and I still am, but I’ve learned to just do things before they end up kicking my ass later. My room still constantly looks like a bomb site, but every single other aspect of my life is nearly pristine. Everyone I work with thinks I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder because of how exactly perfect everything is at my desk, at all times. I don’t have a clue how this part of myself came to be, but I’m certainly not fighting it, either. It’s been extremely helpful in my independent adult life.
  • I am still really good at spending money, but I spend money on nice things that I will have for a very, very long time. I have unfortunately impeccable taste, and I survive on 2/3 of the income I had 2 years ago, with nearly twice the expense. I’m not sure how I’m doing it either, it’s fine.

That’s as far as I can get today without completely exhausting myself, but I will do some more work on this whenever I’m able. Please comment with any questions, comments, jokes, insults, or concerns. You Stay Classy, World Wide Web.

Love, Kelci

 

Who are you becoming?

I look at my life now, 6 years later, thousands of experiences and trials in: It’s as though I am a completely different person. It’s as if I don’t even recognize that terrified, bitter, hurting girl in those photographs anymore.
And yet, there are elements that the Lord has shown me are part of my DNA.
As incredible as the healing and transformation has been, it’s only in the last few months that I have reflected on what makes me Anna.

How do you sum up what’s happened in 6 years?
Especially in your 20s?
Don’t they say that these are the most formative years of your life?
I believe it. I’ve lived it.
It feels as though I’ve been at least 6 different people in that span, and culled through the grime and the dirt of living only to reveal more dirt and grime to be expunged.

Truth be told, I have no clue how to begin telling you the myriad of stories I have to share. I guess you could hop over to my blog and see some of what has transpired, but does that even do it justice?

I’ve traveled to 5 different countries, lived in at least 10 different rooms/buildings, broken hearts and nursed wounds on my own, become a fur momma to the best pup ever to quell the throbbing and add some (more) excitement to my life, discovered who I am not, exploring who I am, worked 7 different jobs (only 5 at once, tops), changed majors, graduated college, sang on an album thats up for Grammy nomination, chopped and grown my hair, hiked mountains and floated in pure salt below sea level, made hundreds of new friends, lost many friendships that I cherished more than they, seen miracles at the edge of prayers, dreamed big and halted my own dreams from growing, performed on a Disney stage after landing the best and most challenging job I’ve known, grown in confidence, been struck down by pride, made thousands of mistakes, and have completely been transformed by the love of God and those He has placed around me.

And that’s not even half of it.

I think what strikes me about looking back on who I was 6 years ago is how little I knew about how broken I really was. Shortly after I entered college, it all broke down. I broke up with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years, experienced some serious PTSD from things in my past I had tried to bury, entered trauma therapy, discovered a church full of people who honestly sought truth, found out who Jesus really was (much more than just fire insurance or a cause/belief to fight for), and with that knowledge recognized how much I was hiding, holding too tightly, and crying out for. You can’t heal if you don’t know what’s wrong with you.

And although there are still hundreds of issues needing attention in my heart, I can’t help but rejoice in how much healing has happened.

I look at my life now, 6 years later, thousands of experiences and trials in: It’s as though I am a completely different person. It’s as if I don’t even recognize that terrified, bitter, hurting girl in those photographs anymore.
And yet, there are elements that the Lord has shown me are part of my DNA.
As incredible as the healing and transformation has been, it’s only in the last few months that I have reflected on what makes me Anna.

1. I am a woman of very strong opinions.
I would hope the last 6 years have softened me and turned me into a better listener, but I am forever grateful that I am a person of conviction and am not afraid to stay true to what I believe. The strength of my conviction has led me to a deeper understanding of how other people think and act; After all, we act out of the core of our beliefs.

2. I am a creative.
Everyone is putting on their best “duh” face here. In a world where creatives are not viewed as relevant to society and the job market isn’t sure what to do with you in some parts of this nation, that piece of my identity started to feel more secondary. That is, until I was reminded what I was created for. I can’t live without pursuing the arts and music – I would be doing myself and everyone else around me a disservice by pursuing anything else.

3. I have a very strong streak of empathy
I can’t even watch the tamest of Disney movies without getting emotionally involved with the characters. (Lookin’ at you, Baymax) I’ve learned that empathy is a strength, and a muscle to be worked on in order to expand your range of emotion and depth of relationship. The weakness here is when your emotions control you, rather than embracing them as a part of who you are and learning to partner with them in making decision, not allowing them to overcome you. Empathy allows you to step in to another person’s world and learn from them, as well as see a better way to love them and help them.

4. I love big and I love loud.
And I am learning to love quietly and embrace the small moments too. This can be a double edged sword, especially for an empathic artist who works at Disneyland. Self care has been a HUGE lesson that I am still learning, even now. Loving myself was the biggest challenge I faced – realizing that God loved me and wanted to be with me was even harder. But it wasn’t long before I realized that loving from an empty cup only made me bitter, exhausted, and scared to love anyone. You can only truly love from a place of love. Love yields love, whereas hatred yields hate. You can be the most giving person to others, but if you hate yourself, your actions toward others will never have pure motives and your love capacity will shrink with your soul as you continually deplete yourself.

5. I am highly adaptable.
Montana girl plopped in the middle of Southern California with uncertainty and culture shock around every corner. Trips to South Korea, Israel, Nicaragua, and Europe with varying degrees of intensity. Unstable living situations, car troubles, balancing more jobs and commitments than any sane human being should, having to learn the power of “no” to stop from slipping into that insanity. Learning to thrive instead of function. Coping with the busy until stillness becomes a habit of the soul, not just the body. Putting on 11 different hats every day to fulfill the expectations of every space I inhabit. My will is strong, but has learned to bend. Flexibility has become one of my favorite modes of living. I have learned there is freedom in not knowing, a delight that comes with embracing a blind but confident faith in a God who loves you and knows you inside and out. There’s a peace in smallness, doing the same things faithfully while trusting that more is on the way. Trust precedes a leap of faith, and if you allow yourself to bend and mold, while keeping your identity like putty, you’ll find life has a way of surprising you in the best possible sense.

6. Life is an adventure, and I’m looking forward to what’s next.
I am applying to grad schools, expanding my photography, diving into personal music projects, sinking my teeth into my department at Disney to learn and grow all that I can, and discovering more of what needs to be healed in me to truly live out the “abundant life” that Jesus promised in John 10. It’s onward to a time of refining, growing, and loving like I have never loved before.

This is a glimpse. I know there will be more to say, and I guess at some points I ought to be more specific. I guess I just felt the focus for myself needed to shift to truly figure out how to even begin.

I guess the real question isn’t “what happened since then?” it’s “who have you become?”
How do you sum up what’s happened 6 years?
You don’t.

Yours truly,
– Anna