Monday, December 15, 2008

We love our names and birthdays.

Barrett Cope studying in my bedroom for the final that we had just one hour after I took this picture. He is graduated from college now and on with his life. It's a cool cycle. I met him on his birthday when I was a freshman in college.

I just remembered that everyone has a golden birthday. Since my birthday is on the 23rd of November, when I turn 23 I will have an extra special golden birthday. And whenever I look at the clock and it's 11:23, it always makes me smile because it's a minute just for me. We attach ourselves to our birthdays. It's the only day in the year where you're the only one that is recognized. As humans, we like this.

I've also taken to saying everyone's name because we like to hear our names. Making the world a personal place makes it feel smaller to me and full of love. When my movie ticket was torn last night I said "Thanks Bryce." When we left Olive Garden I said, "Thanks Jennifer." I remember how cool it was working at the Adventure Science Center, talking to thousands of people a day, when that one person said my name.

I was stressing out about getting approved by Campus France, an intermediary at the French Embassy that must approve all students before they can apply for a visa. Everyone I talked to who has had to deal with them before told me they don't answer emails; they don't answer phones; they aren't nice; they're inefficient and their website is an abyss of confusion. On the 7th week of waiting for something that they said should take two, I called. I called and was pushed from one operator to the next and I was falling into my old thoughts that no one knows what they're doing, really. Then I just left a message on some answering machine that I wasn't even sure it was an answering machine. It said something quickly in French and then nothing, so I started talking.

Ten minutes later the nicest French lady called me back and talked to me and helped me and didn't give up and looked for documents for me. She said "All I can do is apologize, I don't know why this was pushed to the side." I was so elated I just thanked and thanked her. She said she would approve me within the next ten minutes. She would do it herself. "Thank you so much, Deborah! Thank you!"

Now I can go to Atlanta and get my visa. I've been told the people who work there are non-apologetic, busy, paper-pushers, but we're all people, right? There's nice in everyone.

Good thing that happened: It was cold, maybe 50 degrees, and drizzling rain on the last day of finals. I was walking through the courtyard between two dorms and I looked up and met eyes with a girl about my age or maybe a little younger. She had her shoulders up near her ears and arms folded in front of her, looking just miserably cold. When you meet eyes with someone, usually you just smile, or ignore it, but this time for some reason I said "You're almost home." She looked at me for real and said "I know," and smiled like she really was glad that was true.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So We Move On.

I think this economic crisis and Obama are the two most exciting things that have happened this year. They both will bring the world together. It is getting smaller, more connected, more human. The economic crisis sucks for some people. Right now. But it lets us start over. We can change our archaic ways and move into the future: led by innovation and imagination and creativity and not by prestige and the notion of "well this is just how we've always done it."

It's a great time to be here, alive, in college.

Good thing that happened today: (I must first note that a considerable amount of good things happened today, but I will note this one:) Sarah and I went to Moe's for lunch and after telling me all about how her day was sucking the gentleman at the register asked her how her day was going. Of course we all say "fine," but I interjected "Actually she's having a pretty bad day. She just got a parking ticket." He gave her a free cookie and she was all smiles and laughs the rest of the time. It's a wonder that gestures of strangers can effect us so. It was awfully nice of that cashier. I tried to pay it forward with a healthy tip, but money isn't the same.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

RIP 100ft Stream Buffer Zone

Bush has got to go. He can't see the future. He's not thinking. He's pushing his own wild agenda, seemingly without an ounce of concern for the future.

On Tuesday, the Bush administration passed a rule change that now allows the already devastating practice of mountaintop-removal to be even more detrimental. Now the Office of Surface Mining can dump whatever they want into valleys, burying streams in the process.

I'm so glad for the future. Nothing is permanent. I'm positive on this.

I got the news about the rule change just today and I went onto and wrote a note to Obama's Transition Team on the environment. I'm sure it will help.

I wrote:
The rule change the lame duck just passed for the Office of Surface Mining is disgusting. Please fix it.

We cannot have OSM dumping the remains of blown up mountains into our stream beds. Mountaintop Removal is an invasive and debilitating practice. It should be done away with all together, but instead of moving forward on protecting our mountains, the Bush administration essentially obliterated the stream buffer zone on Tuesday. The streams that start in Appalachia are the headwaters of rivers all over the east. Over 2,000 miles of streams have already been buried, and that was when we HAD a stream buffer zone. Our streams must be protected. This isn't even a question. We need clean drinking water, especially when we are in a drought and freshwater is scarce. Please fix the huge mistake that the Bush administration just made.

The good that happened today: Ted drove me all the way back to Knoxville today so I could spend a few extra days in Nashville.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We're Going To Be Friends

Today I made a cake. It has a tree on it. It was also yum.

I also read Jelly Helm's blog today and watched a Honda commercial and liked it and it reminded me of a song I knew I liked but didn't know what it was called. I sat on the couch next to Jordan and without saying anything first, I hummed the beginning of it and stopped. He sang the rest of the chorus that I didn't hum and he told me what it is called.

Ted asked me "Can you believe how self-indulgent blogs are?"

No one reads my blog except Ted, so it's anyone's game.

But here: Americorps might not exist anymore with this economy. Write your senator if you want.

The good thing I saw today: I was walking with Scruffy and a lady smiled at me as I passed her house.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Insomnia anyone? No? Just me?

It's 3:24am central time. I am sitting on my bed in Nashville while all of UT has to go to class in mere hours, because I feel it is my time to respectfully bow out of this semester in its entirety. I will show up for my exams, sure; I will kiss the sombitch goodbye; but for now, I will sit here, eating celery, not sleeping.

Tomorrow, I will mail my papers to Reunion and call Campus France to make sure I can get my visa to study abroad. Red tape is such an idle bore. I will finish my philosophy paper on the environmental ethics behind mountaintop-removal, and write a feature-length journalism article on the lodgepole pine and its arch nemesis, the mountain pine beetle. After that, I may look at my Land Surface Systems take-home final exam. Hell, I might even do some of it. But mostly, tomorrow I will be at home, in Nashville.

Oh! Thanksgiving happened.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seasonal transitions.

It's winter?! Crazy talk! Even though it was 25 degrees this morning, I'm going to deny it. I am not going to deny it as hard as I did last week, though. I froze my ass off! Today I wore my ski jacket (and I was still cold).

It is, however, that point in the semester that everyone seems to just throw in the towel. The sweatpants and ponytails come out to play. It's cold and it's dark at 5pm. I guess people feel like no one can see them anymore, and stop showering. That's fine with me. I'm nearly a self-professed hippie-lifestyle-lover.

I'm in the library now and I just turned around to see dozens of clusters of chattering youth! I thought I knew them all! It isn't true. I don't even know a-one. But we're all in the library right now with winter coats at our feet, nesting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Small ones, round ones, big ones, oval ones, colors, all pink, Christmas themed, I buy them all. I buy them quietly and hide them in my room and one by one they disappear. I buy M&M's like a drug. My good friends know that I'm never without them, and my best friends know that they can tell how I'm feeling by how many I've eaten. I keep bags of them in my bedroom in a wicker basket an old boyfriend once gave me. Poetic, isn't it? Obviously and disgustingly poetic. Another disgusting habit is keeping everything that once made me happy. That means old postcards, letters, and ticket stubs, but it also means acorns John once left in my pocket when I wasn't looking and found later to just think of him and smile all over my pretty fucking face. Cute? Sweet? Gross. So gross. Masochistic even.

I have all sorts of things all over the place, not even just in Knoxville, but in Nashville, too. The bones of my failed relationships are degrading all over Tennessee. I have birthday cards, love notes, letters, freaking fall leaves. I have gifts, books, and yarn from scarves never made. You name it; I've got it. I even still find small pieces of relationship hidden in my room: on post-its in books or inside boxes. When I finally feel like they have all been found and appropriately dealt with, I find a card addressed to my old room's address and signed, "yours." This is exactly why I am never without the colorful, small, big, oblong, or round, perfect, necessary, M&M.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


2004-2005, when I was seventeen, was the best year of my life. Every year I challenge myself to outlive it, be more than it and I never can. I'll turn 21 years old in a couple of weeks and I want to challenge myself again, to make this year beat my 17th. I got my first car when I was 17: black, foxy, sports car that hugged corners like it was a yo-yo goin' 'round the world. I spent the summer with friends: Lara, Kelsey, Kim. We played kickball in the park in the middle of the night with a gang of teens that laughed and didn't even drink. But yesterday, kayaking in a glassy nook of a lake laden with waves, I realized sitting in the peace, that it was the absolute perfect temperature. The sun hugged my back and the air was cool enough that I noticed my cheeks. Hannah was on my left and Brent on my right and we just sat there, in the quiet.

This year that is about to close, as my personal New Year's draws near, is a strong rival to number 17. I went to Colorado this year. I saw moose and peaked mountains. I lived in honest freedom, and now Obama is our President-elect, and this is a good year. This is a very good year. This year is something of the beautiful, something of the change, something of the hope. This year is one to love hot tea, try every week to complete a crossword puzzle, appreciate all kinds of cheeses and give Mexican food a chance. This is that year, and it will always be that year. So, in reality, there can be no rival to 17. There never was, because it stands alone, as a great year of change and new independence. I appreciate it by itself, as I should every year.

In two weeks, I will be 21 years old. I will not be the image from my twelve-year-old mind that thought far far into the future. I will not be anything more than two weeks old than today. But for my personal New Year's, I grant myself a new challenge: leave fuller than you came, Stephanie. Leave fuller than you came.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


(Right now, I'm eating leftover Chinese food with wooden chopsticks on the floor of my first college apartment.)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Yes We Can.

In the final days of campaign season, I feel like I have been listening intently to political rhetoric for over a year now. My roommates and I are hosting an "Election Return Party" and there is talk of a victory bike ride, naked, if Obama wins. I'm almost positive it will end up being a near-naked bike ride, if anything. But, deep down I feel like the whole country will be wanting to do a victory lap of some sort when (note: 'when' not 'if') Obama wins. We deserve something good, especially while we are all dealing with so much shit, daily.

Good things happen even through economic and climatic crises. Good things like friends coming in town. Jordan came over and we walked all over my neighborhood and through the Old Grey Cemetery. I took all the pictures on this disposable camera (yeah, I know, they still make those?) I bought almost three years ago. I took some pictures with my digital camera, too and I'm realizing how much I really love taking pictures.

The colors were gorgeous. I think the best colors of fall in the city are in cemeteries. They are also the most quiet and respected outdoor places in metropolitan areas.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Some ask why

Every move we make can be a step in the right direction. We can make things around us better with every facial expression, with every word, with every movement. I think that's a neat concept.