“This is the way college ends–not with a bang, but a whimper.”

Alright, maybe that isn’t exactly how T.S. Eliot phrased it, but it works for me.  I am graduating in three days.  And I’m skipping the last day of my college career.  Isn’t that delicious?  But really, the whole thing does seem a bit, well, anti-climactic.  I won’t actually walk for my diploma until May (which I’m happy about…I want to walk with my class), so there’s not really an event to make me feel like this transition is actually real.  I feel like I’m just telling myself I’m graduating…like it’s this big practical joke I’m playing on my psyche.  Well, it’s no joke, psyche!  You’re actually graduating and you’re actually entering a master’s program!  It feels good to finish this degree well, and my J-term class (Dead Sea Scrolls) has been challenging while not being stressful.  It’s been a satisfying way to end.  I know I’ve been writing a lot about grad school and graduation, but honestly, that’s just been what’s on my mind lately.  I’ll branch out to other topics soon, I promise.

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To Myself

Did you really think you could slip in and out of grief

Like a pair of worn house-slippers?

Did you think that you could truly understand

the loss of a child, the loss of a mother?

No, far more dangerous than your presumption

Is the subconscious thought that if you wrote about it,

you could contain it.

That you could ward away loss and pain

by trapping it in ink

and binding it in a book.

Foolish, foolish girl.

And even as you write this, do you begin to think

that you finally understand sorrow?

Now that what you wrote about so confidently

actually happened to your friend?

You will not know the depths of heartache

Until it is your baby, your mother.

Then you will have no words to write

No smooth alliterations, or elegant turns of phrase.

The grief will choke you, smother you,

clasp it’s icy hands over your mouth

And you will not write.

________________________________

Aaron, if you are reading this at some point, I am so sorry.

A sweet surprise

Today I received a large envelope in the mail.  The address and beautiful handwriting belonged to my friend, Bree.  However, when I opened it, I found out that it was also from my roommate, Maria (Bree’s sister).  She is in Paraguay this month, and I am graduating from college in a couple days.  It disappointed me that she wouldn’t be here for that, even though it’s not like there’s an actual event that she’s missing.  Anyway, she arranged for many of my close friends to write me letters of congratulation and then had Bree send them all together now, during the final days of my college career.  I’m not sure I can explain just how much that means to me.  Maria knows how important words are to me, how much I value what my friends say to me in encouragement.  I read through all of the letters at once, laughing and crying in turns.  What a joy to hear from the people I love so much!  What good memories came to mind!  Maria’s thoughtfulness, and all of my friends’ kind words, completely made my day.  I just keep smiling whenever I think about those letters, waiting for me with support whenever I need it.

Thank you, my dear, dear friend.

I could walk away.

As I near the end of my undergrad degree, I sometimes panic and find myself thinking, “Why, oh WHY, did I sign up for even more school?!”  I know the answer is, “Because I want to be a professor and no one will listen to me if I don’t go to school longer than them.”  Another answer is, “Because I like to learn, and a good place to do that is at school.”  Still another answer: “Because if I become a professor, I will get to have summer, winter, fall, and spring breaks for the rest of my life!”  At times, this final answer is the most compelling.  But in those moments of panic when I feel trapped–when I feel as though I am locked into a car, my foot is on the pedal, and the accelerator is stuck–I remind myself that I can walk away from all of this.  I can.  If at any time I absolutely hate grad school, I can leave.  No one is keeping me here.  No one can pressure me to do this–not my parents, not my professors, not my friends.  I am doing this because deep down, I really do want to.  And if that should change for some reason, I am free to go and move on with my life.  So here’s to choosing, as each new day comes, to stay.

Growing Up

Hello readers,

For many years now, I have used a blog on xanga to write out my thoughts.  As I transition from college to graduate school, I feel it is the perfect time to transition to a more…sophisticated blog site.  And hopefully, in keeping with this switch, you will be dazzled by my elegant, insightful, and classy thoughts, recorded here for your perusal.  Cross your fingers, friends.  But really, my purpose for this blog is to display some of my creative writing (when I allow myself the pleasure of writing for fun and not for class), to discuss thoughts on life and the changes that necessarily accompany growth, and perhaps to tell a few of my memories from traveling throughout Europe.  I also love great literature and music, so they will almost certainly show up on this blog from time to time.

More will follow shortly.  Until then, thanks for reading.  This should be fun!

Valerie