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friends

You Know You Go To VCU When…

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Wow, I saw some weird things today at school. First off, there was a guy riding a unicycle down the sidewalk in what looked like a genuine attempt to get to class rather than a spectacle. Second, a group of ten guys were in the bathroom at the library standing in a line, backing up one step at a time to see how far back they could read the small print “Please wash your hands” sign. There were a couple other things, some of which I won’t even repeat on here, that I guess are just commonplace at VCU. The funniest thing about all of them, though, is that nobody even thinks anything of them at all. I’ve always found people watching to be interesting, but never so much as at VCU.

On a kind of sad note (for me), it looks like my best friend, Jen, is probably going to end up going to Liberty next year… if so it’s really gonna suck here without her. We’ll see what happens.

First Week Reflections

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So the first week of the Spring 2008 semester is over, and I really, really think I’ve turned things around for the better. My entire perception of college has changed. Last semester I didn’t put nearly as much time and effort into it, but now I am and I can tell I’m going to do a whole lot better. I’ve also settled into the routine of things and gotten a good group of friends. Just wanted to touch on that. More to come.

Ramblings About Winter Break

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It’s been quite an interesting break. I’ve had a month of hanging out with friends (including meeting some new ones and catching up with some old ones, as well as the usual suspects like Jen, Allie, and Tori), spending time with family, having a bonfire, and seeing lots of good movies (I went to see seven or eight). I also had lots of new experiences (like going clubbing at Have A Nice Day Cafe on New Year’s Eve) and learned valuable lessons (such as to not put myself out on the line as much when it comes to girls in general, but particularly this girl I really, really like (who is pretty much amazing, has a terrific personality, has a lot in common with me, and seemed like a great match), because I ended up getting hurt in the end, I guess because of my own lack of knowledge of women and knowing how to accurately judge whether or not a girl truly likes me back as much as, or in the same way that, I like them).

A month is a long time in the Winter. It seems like Christmas was forever ago, when in reality it wasn’t that long ago at all. It’s one thing when it’s Summer and you can do stuff outside and there’s just generally more going on, but I would have been happy with two or three weeks. After New Year’s, everything just kinda drops off. I’ve been out most every night doing something or another, but some of the nights it seemed like there was just nothing to do. I spent many a night driving around aimlessly, blasting (and singing to of course) XM, but even that, after a while, starts to get old. It’s amazing how, despite being very commercially-populated, there’s nothing to do in Short Pump (and the traffic, wow- I have a post about that coming up soon). I guess that’s why me and my friends have ended up downtown a lot of nights. But even that’s lacking the luster it had at the beginning of break. I guess what I’m saying is I’m just ready for a routine to set back in (yeah, I know, that will probably change a week into classes).

One thing I wanted to touch on that came to me recently (and please comment and let me know if you’ve experienced this, too) is how freaking difficult it is to make plans with friends sometimes. First off, as I alluded to in a previous post last week, I have a very diverse group of friends, spanning college and high school and from all walks of life. It’s very interesting to see how they mesh well together sometimes, but other times they won’t even give each other a chance. I’ve had many a night’s plan fall through because certain people don’t want to hang out with other people, sometimes when they haven’t even met before. Nothing ever turns out like you think it will, either. One person can be ten minutes late meeting you somewhere and before you know it the whole night’s gone awry and someone’s angry.

Anyway, as break comes to a close and I start my second semester at VCU, I look forward to some quieter nights and want to solely focus on school (in some ways I put it second or third last semester and that’s not ever going to happen again because I’ve come to some realizations and now I’m completely self-motivated to do well this semester). It’s back to classes, long nights in the library, and lunch and dinner at Shafer with Jen.

By the way, Jen, if you’re reading this, I know I say stuff like this all the time, but sometimes I don’t know where I’d be without you. You’re more than my best friend, you’re the staple that holds my day together sometimes. Not only have I had days when you’re the only good thing that happens to me, but it’s just the fact that you’re pretty much the only constant in my life. People come and go and things change, but you’re always there to talk and laugh with, and you give me a swift kick in the pants and straighten me out when I need it. For all that, I truly love you more than you know.

Well, I think I’ve rambled enough. It’s two in the morning, anyway. Overall it’s been a good break, and now I’m ready to work hard and achieve all that I know I’m capable of.

What My Bonfire Taught Me About Life

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So I had another one of my bonfires last night. The idea for these things started when I had the idea to have a Christmas Party last year. I wanted to have a bunch of people over, but didn’t want to deal with having them all in the house and whatnot. So I decided to have it outside. It was cold, so I got some wood and put out the fire pit. I also set up a projector and made a screen of sorts from some fabric and stretched it between two trees to show a movie. It was a big hit. I had about thirty people, a great amount. I did it again for my graduation party, at which about seventy-five people came.

Banking on the popularity and success of the previous gatherings, I decided to try it again this past summer. It was pretty much a flop. It was basically the victim of poor planning on my part. I invited everyone about a week before and had it on the weekend most people were headed off to college. Smooth.

Well, I did it again last night. I originally was going to have the thing before Christmas, but found myself broke and realized that too many people had prior commitments with it being a little more than a week before Christmas and all. So it turned out alright last night I guess. It wasn’t an amazing turnout, but twelve or thirteen isn’t anything to complain about either.

Jen and Allie were there from the beginning, and were pretty much the staples that held the thing together. With the exception of two others, the rest of the guests were high school friends. Just worked out that way. Now I may be quick with a joke or humorous one-liner here and there, but for the most part I’m just not one to be able to keep a party going (I was busy enough doing that with the fire anyway). I guess I figured I was like an air traffic controller or something in the sense that I thought I would get the plane (or in this case the party) started and on the right course and then the thing would naturally take off as people started to talk to each other. Well, it just didn’t really happen. I think the biggest problem is I have so many different groups of friends in a lot of different places, from all walks of life. It’s the same thing when I hang out with people. There’s always some sort of conflict or difference between the groups that prevents things from going as planned.

So anyway it wasn’t any sort of catastrophic failure or anything, I just don’t think I’m going to try and do the whole bonfire thing again. There’s just too much of an assortment of people that don’t seem to mix well together for some reason. I think I’ll stick to my close-knit group of friends when it comes to these types of gatherings in the future.

So after five paragraphs you’re probably wondering when the revolutionary stuff the title of this post hints at is going to show itself. Well, it’s nothing revolutionary or anything. Pretty basic. I think this whole thing has shown me that I’ve kind of moved on. See, living at home while in college thus far has caused me to straddle myself between Deep Run and VCU, at least friend-wise. There are a lot of Seniors I’m still friends with, and at the same time I have my college friends as well. The only ones I really keep up with lately are Winston, Jenn, and Lizzy. Me and them do lunch/dinner and stuff from time to time, but for the most part with everyone else I guess I’ve just moved on. It can be expected I guess. I guess you can get this mental picture of what your life looks like and then you see it physically (like last night) and you realize it’s completely shifted in a different direction and changed a lot.

I think I need to get a place to truly feel like I’m in college. It just sort of feels like I’m taking some classes right now doing the whole commuting thing. It’s time I get into this thing all the way.

Anyway, I think another thing this bonfire taught me about life is that we never think things are as good as the first time we do them. We never think Christmas, for the most part, is as special or magical as when we were kids. It’s all because we have this idea in our heads about what we think the perfect event, holiday, etc. is supposed to be like based on past events. Things change. That’s life. It’s tough to do sometimes, but we need to realize that change is a part of life and new traditions can be formed even if the old ones don’t work out anymore. This is another thing that happened at my party (having so many people come before) and it’s just something that really says a lot about life in general.

Who knew a simple gathering with friends could be a metaphor for so many things in life?

The Cure For The Post-Christmas Letdown

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I love Christmas, and am let down every year after the holidays when the lights come down and things go back to normal. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s an excellent article from one of my favorite websites, dumblittleman.com (It’s a great site, check it out sometime). These ten tips will leave you feeling like it’s Christmas year ’round.

Does Christmas Have to End Today?

The buildup to Christmas and all the year end holidays is so long and so pervasive that when Christmas finally comes and then goes, for many people a kind of post-Christmas slump sets in. If this happens to you, I have very good news. You can keep the delightful elements of Christmas alive throughout the year. You can feel the joy of Christmas all year. Here’s how you can incorporate the special aspects of Christmas into your life.

1. Kindness. Who says we have to stop wishing each other a happy day just because the holidays are over. There’s something to celebrate every day. Seek that out and wish those around you a happy day similar to how you wish them happy holidays at Christmas. Today I rolled down the window of my car to wish a neighbor “Merry Christmas.” It made me feel good, and I thought, ” Why do I only take the extra 10 seconds to greet neighbors during the holidays? I’m going to try to do this all year.”

2. Time with Family and Friends. This is the real magic of Christmas. Why not have a family & friends dinner once a month or once a season? A pot luck or a simple dinner is a nice way to keep this element of Christmas in your life all year long. Have some music, get out the board games that never get used, and have some fun.

3. The Tree. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to keep a Christmas tree in your house all year long, but you can certainly bring more plants into your home to bring the freshness of nature indoors. Bring in a new plant once a season and breathe in the fresh oxygen!

4. The Smells. The smells of Christmas are so special from evergreen to candy canes. You can bring these smells back anytime with some scented candles. Try a new scented candle every few months to celebrate each season of the year.

5. You’ve Got Mail. How nice is it to get real mail in your mailbox? Why not share that goodness a few more times during the year with other seasonal cards to a select few friends to say that you are thinking of them. When you print out your Christmas labels, print out a few extra copies so that sending out “thinking of you” cards will be easy. Send a few every other month or so. Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new trend amongst your friends.

6. Giving. You can incorporate the spirit of giving throughout the year quite easily. The first way is through charity. When you give, make the act more of a ritual by taking a few moments to meditate on a sending a special intention along with your gift as well as feeling gratitude for the good fortune to be able to give to others. The other way to give during the year is when you come across a little something that you know a friend would love, go ahead and get it for them. Imagine how good you and that friend will feel. A third way you can give is with your time. This may be the best gift of all. Think about who could use that gift and then find a way to schedule it into your life.

7. Anticipation. The big countdown to Christmas is definitely half the fun. You can create this in your everyday life by scheduling fun activities or making plans to attend special shows, movies, or events. You can create the anticipation by making a simple countdown calendar.

8. Lights. Who doesn’t love Christmas lights? It brightens up our world during the short winter days, unless of course if you are living “down under” where holiday lights are a nice summer time bonus. Who says you can’t keep some light element alive all year long? If this is something that brings you a lot of joy then, by all means, find ways to keep lights a part of your home and world during the year.

9. Seasonal Stories, Singing, and Food. Find ways to celebrate each season of the year through different seasonal stories, songs, and food. We don’t have to wait around for next winter to keep singing, telling special stories, and enjoying seasonal recipies. How do you make sure all these things happen? Schedule them into your calendar, just like Christmas!

10. Nature. The romance of a white Christmas is something many of us hope for. Enjoy the romance that each season in nature brings. Celebrate it with a special seasonal walk with friends and family where the point of the walk is to experience, enjoy, and be grateful for the goodness of that season.

Make celebrating all year long a priority and you’ll never have to feel the post-Christmas slump again!

Have A Very Merry Christmas!

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I just wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you take the time to slow down and enjoy the company of all of your family and friends. I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow. Each year Christmastime gets crazier and busier for me, and this year that has proven to be true on an exponential level. But somehow on Christmas Eve everything is put back into prospective. Tonight and tomorrow are the only times the whole year that haven’t and probably won’t ever change for me. I have something come over me every year unlike anything else. It’s a sense of peace and happiness I can’t describe. I hope Christmas is the same for you. God bless each and every one of you, and thanks for your reading loyalty throughout the year!

One Semester Down, Changes For The Next

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So my first semester as a college student was officially over last night after I took my history final. I think I did pretty well on my exams, but I know I still could have done better in terms of grades. Not horrible, but I had a lot on my plate between adjusting to college, working at church, and having a part-time job. I’m going to seriously consider the effect working has on school before I decide where I’m going to work next semester. I need to pick a place with flexible hours and good pay (so I can work fewer hours but make the same amount of money as I would in an average-paying job- does that sentence even make sense?).

Anyway, I’ve come to realize several things this semester. Not having much time to do anything besides what I mentioned above, I realized just how much I value free time. I got so burnt out that once I took a week off, such as I did from the church, I not only saw all of the stuff I had neglected to do for months and decided to get it done, but I also decided to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and just chill out. Moreover, what I really realized was that I just want to live a little and be a college student. I have the rest of my life to slave away at work (well hopefully I’ll be doing something I like), so I want to live it up while I can. I’m going to seriously consider changing a lot of things next semester.

First off, not seeing many of my friends nearly as often as I did before has caused that area of my life to suffer, and I’m not willing to let that happen. Friendships are an integral part of life and with schedule conflicts caused by all that I did last semester, I lost touch with some people that I’ve been friends with for years.Secondly, I don’t even do anything with several hobbies I had before. I have run a local history website (that I haven’t updated in a year) since 2001. This is the first time I’ve let that slip in seven years. I also have a history exhibition out at Field Day of the Past that I’ve done since 2002. This was the first year I didn’t set up my display because it’s a huge undertaking (the displays take up the whole tailgate area of my Xterra from floor to ceiling) and I just didn’t have the energy after the week I had.

There are plenty more things I haven’t had the time or extra energy to do, like writing, doing some graphic design and video projects I’ve wanted to, and on top of everything else I’m not going to let my school work suffer anymore either. To quote the lyrics of a song by Bruce Hornsby, next semester “there’s gonna be some changes made.” I’ve got to balance things out more. I’m amazed I’ve even kept my blog updated on an (almost) daily basis.

What I’m Thankful For

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Well it’s Turkey Day. I’m off to Home Team Grill in a couple hours to help serve Thanksgiving meals to the elderly and less fortunate with church, then to the family dinner at my cousins’ house. I just wanted to take a few moments to say what I’m thankful for.

First and foremost, I give the utmost thanks to God for all he’s done in my life in the past year. He has blessed me with so much, taken care of all my needs, and helped me change myself for the better in many ways. He has also provided a way for me to use my talents and skills to help others reach Him through my church with the Impact Arts multimedia ministry. Through the church, I’ve also made some great friends such as Anthony and Tori.

I’m also really thankful for my family. People may come and go, but they’re the one constant that’s always there no matter what. I love them very much.

I’m very thankful for my best friend, Jen. She’s always there to talk to about anything, always keeps me entertained with her crazy stories, and is just an overall wonderful person to be around. Sometimes when nothing’s gone right all day I’ll hang out with her, if only for a few minutes, and my whole day is turned around. She has a way of doing that, and I love her a lot.

There are also so many other things I’m thankful for, but these are the top ones. I hope you’ll take some time today to really reflect and thank God for his blessings in your life. Enjoy your time with family and friends, and eat lots of good food!

P.S. – I’m thankful for all my faithful blog readers, too! 

The Police

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I went to see The Police in concert last night at John Paul Jones Arena at UVA in Charlottesville last night with Melissa. I have no other way to describe it than to say it should have been a pretty bad night because of how lost we got and something else that happened on the road (happened again- if you know me well you’ll enough know exactly what it is). Chances are I’ll tell you if I talk to you on a regular basis, but I’m just not gonna post it for the world to see. But it actually turned out to be an awesome night.

Anyway, the concert was amazing. Twenty years after releasing their last album, The Police sounded even better than ever. Sting is a great performer, but the whole band had a great stage presence. We were pretty high up, but I think we still had decent seats. That’s about the only non-blurry picture (to the left) I managed to snap on my iPhone.

They say half the fun of doing anything is how you get there, and I can attest to that. I haven’t had that much fun since probably this summer, and that was just in the car. We were singing our favorite mid-90s alternative rock songs at the top of our lungs all the way back. It was great. Maybe we were just hyped up on our coffee/hot chocolate, but I had the most awesome time, and all with someone who I’ve only so much as casually talked to in class before last night. We’ve got a lot in common. I think I’ve found a great friend.