The beginning of the end (or me starting to freak out and get nostalgic because I graduate in 12 days!)

Fun fact: I just wrote an entire blog post. Then it disappeared. What?! Where did it go? Sometimes I love the internet and sometimes I hate it. I keep checking, like, maybe it will have magically reappeared, but no. Ok, cool. Hopefully this isn’t indicative of how my week will go. Now for recreating said post…

Today I picked up my graduation regalia. It does not seem real that this cap and gown and sash and tassel are really mine. I haven’t been here long enough. This can’t be right. I only graduated high school… last year? Right? There’s no way it could’ve been four years ago. I’ve gone back to school every fall for the last 16 years. This year, I won’t.

I’m currently sitting by the Millersville pond, my favorite spot on campus. It’s a morning like a thousand other mornings I’ve had over the last four years. I’m pretending to read a book for my Drama class tonight, but I’m secretly letting myself be distracted by the swans, the ducks, and the squirrels (and the “TURTLES,” which the annoying girl down the bank from me keeps screaming every time she supposedly sees one).

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The Pond, complete with the school swans, Miller and S’Ville

As I sat here, reading my book, I realized this book of Eugene O’Neill plays is the last book I need to read before graduation. This is the final one. What?! Since I began my studies, I’ve read many books similar to this one. (And sometimes Shmooped or Sparknoted many books similar to this one.) They’re books that are interesting and literary and “part of the canon,” but also books I’d just as soon trade for a book of my own choosing. Too many times to count, I have whined, “Plays are meant to be watched, not read.” Today, I don’t want this book to end. I want time to move just a little bit slower so I don’t have to think about this season of my life being over.

I’m reading the book for my last Drama class, with my favorite professor, Dr. Carballo. Tonight is the last night that I’ll just get to sit, occasionally add some input, listen to him lecture, and be blown away by how intelligent he is, and how he seems to have 90% of the books in this world stashed away in the library that is his brain.

I was absolutely terrified to take a class with Dr. Carballo in the second semester of my sophomore year. He was the gatekeeper. You have to take Comparative Literature to get into the upper level literature courses, and at that point, he was the only professor teaching that class. I’d only heard bad stories about Carballo… throwing students out of class for going to the restroom, yelling at people for sneaking a snack during class, even supposedly losing his temper at someone for reaching for a paper rather than letting him hand it to her. Sadly, I never got to see these supposed displays of anger.

I did get to see a professor who expected much from his students, and gave them knowledge, and insight in return. I got to see a professor who demanded respect, and gave respect in return. I got to know Carballo on a personal level, and I love him. In fact, his friendship is probably the most important friendship I’ve acquired here at Millersville. Carballo complimenting me on a paper I wrote, or giving me an A on an essay exam, or writing me a letter of recommendation means more to me than any other professor or peer doing the same thing.

Dr. Carballo is retiring after this semester. I feel so sorry for future Millersville English majors, who will miss out on his wit and wisdom, but it also feels right that his retirement and my graduation coincide. I am glad he won’t be here teaching if I won’t be here to listen to him.

Tonight is my last class with my favorite professor. It’s my first “last class” of the semester. The beginning of the end. This is my last week of classes. Next week is my very last finals week.

I’m sad, I’m happy, I’m nostalgic, I’m excited, I’m stressed, I’m emotional, and I’m so ready to see what comes next (in essence, ALL THE FEELS). Here’s to the beginning of the end, and to embracing the future!

What I’m listening to today:

xoxo,

Carrie

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A Weekend Spent at Home

A few days ago, my dear Canadian friend Robin messaged me, “I’m going to New York this weekend. Can you come see me?”

Over the next few days we messaged about our favorite places in NYC, and where I’d want to go if I came to see her, and The Phantom of the Opera. (Which she is going to see on Broadway tomorrow. The jealousy is real.)

Everything inside me screamed “Yes!” But my responsible, finishing-up-the-semester, only-has-a-part-time-job, going-on-lots-of-weekend-trips-soon self had to say “No.”

A year ago, I was saying yes to trips like this all. the. time. And some of my favorites were with Robin. From our famous Welsh castle-hopping, backpacking, too-much-American-diner-food-eating, canal boating weekend…

To a weekend in London that included sleeping in hostel rooms with triple bunk beds and 18 strangers. Pretty sure one of us may have started that weekend with literally -7 Great British Pounds in her bank account. I won’t mention any names.

I do miss those days. Study Abroad weekends were the most frivolous of times. Almost every single weekend included at least a day trip or two. I remember the feeling of being so spontaneous, weightless, able to go wherever, whenever, and I miss it. Once you’ve traveled or lived abroad, it is difficult to stay in one place for long. You always feel like there’s some new place you could be seeing, or some adventure you should be having.

Today, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve done over the past few days that have made me happy. This weekend hasn’t been glamorous or overly-adventurous, but it has included plenty of happiness. Most of it has just gone unnoticed because I haven’t taken the time to be grateful.

A couple days ago, I baked this delicious bittersweet chocolate cake with lime cream. Holy goodness. And gluten free!

I also baked some whole wheat cinnamon rolls (for you gluten lovers). Baking is something I really missed while living abroad, because I did not have the kitchen utensils, the beautiful, open kitchen, or the ingredients I have here. Baking is also my go-to way to de-stress. The closer it gets to finals week and the end of the semester, the more I bake. (It’s one of my similarities to Dr. Izzie Stevens.)

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On Saturday, I babysat my nephew for a few hours. We went to the park, watched the big kids skateboard, had ice cream, and saw (part of) Zootopia. I also read to him, and of course his book of choice (that we read no less than 4 times), was a book about Tommy taking a train to New York City. Cool. Awesome choice, Desmond.

Last night I hung out with friends and played cards at Prince Street Cafe. Today I was able to worship at my church, where I have to admit my attendance has been sporadic over the past few weeks. It was really good to be back. After church I went out for lunch with several friends and Living Room co-leaders.

Earlier this week, my cousin Warren and his wife Lorna were here to visit. I had so much fun taking them around Lancaster with Warren’s sister, Wanita, and my brother, Clifford. We cafe-hopped and saw a bit of Amish country. Showing other people my home alway reminds me of all the things I love about it!

Today is a beautiful day. I’m not sure why spring is having such an impact on me this year. Have I always been the person that brings up the weather in every conversation, or is this new? It’s been 2 years since I’ve experienced a Lancaster County spring, and I was unprepared for the beauty. Spring comes slowly, with scattered warm days, rain, and even occasional snowy days in April. Then, one day you walk outside and all the trees at your house seem to have budded overnight, and your soul soars. Spring is my favorite season because it’s a season of growth and new life. My apologies to the allergy-prone.

This afternoon I’m ignoring my schoolwork for a few moments more, lying in the sun, reading the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge. I feel like most “good Christian girls” read this book in youth group, but somehow I missed that particular rite of passage, so I’m actually reading it for the first time, for a Bible Study I’m in now. One thing that stuck out to me in the first chapter is that the passivity I see in a lot of people of my generation (especially guys-but maybe it’s just easier for me to pick it out in them) is not a new problem. Adam’s fatal flaw was passivity. So I guess you can say it’s an issue that has been around for a long time. I’m excited to see what the next chapter says about Eve, although maybe that’ll be a bit more of a slap in the face to me?

This weekend hasn’t been glamorous, but it has been filled with some of my favorite “home” things. I love a relaxing weekend spent at home almost as much as I love a fast-paced weekend of adventure and travel and will-we-catch-our-train(?!) moments. Much of the time, I’m too busy to appreciate the little things. When I think back to Scotland, it’s hard to remember how much I longed for “home” things, like my family, bad-for-you cereal, my bed, driving my car, and my mom’s kitchen + the ability to bake anything. Though I do love a good train journey with nothing but a backpack to my name, I’m pretty content with a weekend spent right here.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” -Terry Pratchett

How was your weekend? Did you get carried away, or stay right where you are?

xoxo,

Carrie

Be There.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology.

I love it, because it keeps me connected to the world, current events, and my social circles. It allows me to do things like send this blog post out into the inter-webs.

I hate it, because when I sat down to write this post, I didn’t just start writing. First, I watched about 5 minutes of Snapchat stories that I’d somehow missed over the last 24 hours. Then I checked Instagram. Then I wrote the first two sentences of this post. Then I replied to some Snapchats my cousin sent me. Then I started writing.

This past Friday night, my friend Nikki and I went to see a play called Dead Man’s Cellphone at Millersville University, where I go to school. (For 3 more short weeks!!!!)

Dead Man’s Cellphone is a… strange play. Let’s just say I was glad I’d asked another English major to go with me because some of my friends may have wanted to leave at the intermission. (If you want to go see it for yourself, it’s playing until the 24th. You can find tickets here.)

It starts out with Jean, the protagonist of the play, sitting in a cafe. A man is sitting at a table a few feet away. They’re the only customers. The café seems to be employee-free, too. Soon, the man’s cellphone starts ringing. And keeps ringing.

Then, when it finally stops ringing, it rings again.

Jean starts to get (understandably) annoyed, and after questioning him and receiving no response or acknowledgement, she goes over and picks up the phone, answering it. She takes a message for the man, and it’s not until she puts the phone back down that she realizes… the man is dead. Jean calls 911 on his phone, and waits with him until the ambulance arrives.

This is when things start to get a little absurd. Instead of leaving the phone with the man, Jean takes it with her. And she keeps answering the dead man’s cellphone. Throughout the play, she gets mixed up with all the important people in the dead man’s life. She is convinced he’s good, and she makes it her mission to fix the mess he left behind. She makes peace with his mistress, his wife, his mother, his brother… She even becomes mixed up in the business he ran, which happened to be trafficking human organs.

What really stood out to me about the play, and about Jean, the main character, is how the cellphone takes over her life. At the start of the play, she doesn’t own a cellphone, but by the end, her whole life has been changed because she picked up the dead man’s cellphone.

At one point Jean says,

“You know I never had a cellphone? I didn’t want to always be there. You know, it’s like, if your phone is on, you’re supposed to be there. Sometimes I like to disappear. When everyone’s phone is on, no one’s really there. We’re all disappearing the more we’re there.”

I think that’s my biggest issue with cellphones, too, Jean. Whenever it’s near you, you’re expected to be there. You’re expected to reply to emails, to answer when it rings, to check your Facebook notifications, to Snapchat back if you open your friend’s Snap.

But when I think about it, who is telling me I have to do that besides myself? Most of my friends won’t think I’m ignoring them if I don’t reply to the text they send me a few minutes before midnight. Am I still awake? Probably. But office hours are closed.

At times, having a cellphone, and more specifically a smart phone, makes me less present. More preoccupied. I’m with people, but I forget to really be there because I’m thinking about the photo I’m going to post on Instagram later. Rather than enjoying the moment, I think about sharing the most aesthetic version of the moment with the world.

Even though I try not to look at my phone when I’m eating dinner with my family or having coffee with a friend, sometimes I fail.

My recent social media drug of choice has been Snapchat, which is ironic because I put off downloading it for a long time, thinking I would never use it.

I love the messaging features of Snapchat. The app helps me to stay more connected with friends I don’t see often and relatives who live on the other side of the country. I also like that I can be goofy and lame on Snapchat in ways I don’t feel comfortable being on Facebook or Instagram. Not only do the snaps disappear after 24 hours, but fewer people see my snaps than any of my other social media posts. I also love sharing weird and random parts of my day with my friends and in turn, I like to see little snippets of their days. But there’s a time to snap, and a time to just live, and that’s honestly a line I’m still learning not to cross.

I used to read in bed.

Now, I get into bed with a book, but if I don’t watch myself, I look at social media or even read some news article online until I fall asleep, the book lying forgotten at my side.

Another issue with unplugging? My phone is my alarm clock, calendar, camera… At times it’s even my Bible, my books (thank you, Audible), and my newspaper (thank you Dad’s Wall Street Journal subscription). So much of me is found on my phone that I can’t even turn it off without disrupting my life. It’s hard to feel like disconnecting my phone won’t mean disconnecting myself from the world.

The other night, I knew I was going to be able to sleep in the next morning. So I did something wild. I went to bed early, and I turned my phone OFF. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or even watching a movie on Netflix, I read a book of my choosing for a few hours, totally undisrupted, until I fell asleep. This is something I used to do every single night, and it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things I’ve done in a long time. Knowing no one could reach me for a night was peaceful and freeing.

A few years ago I read an article from The Atlantic called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The article looks at the way we Google things rather than thinking about things. We all have hundreds of thousands of facts in our brains, but too often we don’t even try to recall them because Googling them and then forgetting them 5 minutes later is easier. Sometimes I’ll be in a group of people and someone will ask a question that five years ago, we probably could’ve riddled out. Now? It’s straight to Google. Rather than stretching our minds, we tend to go for the easy answer. As much as technology benefits us, it also makes us lazy.

I love technology. I’m not going to be the trite blogger who says technology is evil while clinging to my laptop. I’m just saying, remember to take a break every now and again. Remember to let your brain have some screen-free time. Remember that you don’t owe anyone an instantaneous response. Something I’m going to try over the next week or so is not checking or replying to messages between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. That’s not something that would have been considered so crazy even a few years agobut I know even that will be a stretch for me.

Most of us have had that experience where you’re out with a friend and they’re more absorbed in their phone than in your conversation.

Maybe that means you’re boring.

Maybe that means they’re rude.

Maybe you are that friend.

Setting boundaries for yourself is important in most areas of life. Technology use is one of those areas, because it can be a distraction from living your real life and because it can suck all your valuable time away. We’re all busy. None of us need that.

If you feel like your proximity to technology is keeping you from being present in areas of your life that are  important to you, it’s as simple as hitting the “off” button or deleting that one app you know you open too many times a day.

I want to learn to keep just the good parts of technology without disappearing into my smart phone.

 

jim

 

What I’m listening to this week:

Ophelia – The Lumineers

The Lumineers’ whole new album is rad, but “Ophelia” is one of my faves. Have a listen.

 

XOXO,

Carrie