(Not to be Confused with Going Nowhere Fast) What I Want to Remember About 2015 and My First Semester in College
Sometimes, I sit up in bed at night and want to tell someone a story. It’s almost like something goes off inside my chest and tells me that I need to tell people about that time my seven best friends and I drove into New York City in my mom’s mini van and stayed up all night and watched the sun rise over Manhattan. I occasionally have an insatiable need while waiting in line at Target to tell people about sitting on the roof of a house boat, watching fireworks pop over the diamond-colored water, nestled in the middle of nowhere in the Allegheny National Forest. There’s just this unexplainable force that makes you want to tell people your best stories at the most unexpected times.
I’m no expert, but I think this is why writing exists. I think that writing exists because people have wonderful stories to tell, and want to tell those stories to as many people as possible; you know, to make them think about something a little more, or laugh or cry a little harder. When you write a good story down, it feels like you’re telling someone who’s sitting right there across the table from you – hands clasped in front of them, leaning in to hear a little better. They are the perfect audience.
Stories are one of the most significant parts of life, because we’re all living one. Our personal narratives have the potential to be much more important and exciting than the narratives we stay up reading in books or watching on television. Made-up stories mimic real-life stories; it’s just that the made-up ones move a little quicker and usually the guy always gets the girl in the end.
I have lived many stories and have written many of my favorite ones down, because that’s always been something I’ve felt strangely compelled to do. I believe it’s a combination of wanting to be a writer and also being self-aware of one of my most tragic flaws – that is, being hopelessly forgetful.
So here is what I don’t want to ever forget about my first semester of college, as long as I live.
Discovering the practice rooms in the basement of Thayer. It’s in those artificially bright, mirrored rooms that I have written songs, played the role of photographer for a scene in a short film, improvised on the piano while my ballerina friends made circles on the floor with their twirls, and discussed the existence of man while sitting at a piano until 4:00 a.m. with a once stranger and now friend.
Getting elected as Freshman Representative for Honors and making a terrible joke in my speech about keeping it short. (It involved using a comet as a metaphor. Don’t ask me how I won.) The thing about going to a small high school is that whether you want to be or not, you’re kind of forced to become involved in things, strictly because no one is really willing to do anything, save for a few select individuals who maybe have a slight tendency towards leadership. For example:
*school assembly* Authority figure: By show of hands, who is willing to save this child from a burning building? *crickets can be heard chirping as students stare at their cell phone screens* Me: Well geesh, I mean, I guess I’ll do it.
That being said, I didn’t think that I would be involved on a leadership level in many facets once I went to college. I sort of fell into the position for honors, alongside my now best college pal, Carrie, who was elected as the honors floor representative. Which brings me to……..
Having a spur-of-the-moment worship session with a floor mate I wasn’t very close to. I knew that Carrie could sing, I mean, could really sing, and I had been playing my guitar in the lounge on our floor for a while before I asked her one night if she knew some of the songs that I did. Because of this seemingly tiny effort, we ended up having a worship session that can only be described as anointed. Some of our floormates who were present were moved to tears. Ever since that day, Carrie became my closest friend at school. We have a linking that is kind of a little indescribable. I prayed for weeks before I really met Carrie that God would send me someone that was so rooted in their faith. Thanks Jesus! You’re super wonderful!
Staying up till 2 a.m. writing my first opinions article for the Globe in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio. Let it be known that I had placed a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to make this silly little article good. Read it here --------------------------->>>>>http://www.pointparkglobe.com/news/view.php/1011398/Obama-introduces-new-simpler-FAFSA-proce. Pitch meetings for the newspaper take place on Mondays in a very tiny, very warm room on the seventh floor of Lawrence Hall. It’s here that over the sound of senior journalism majors yelling their pitches, sweat dripping down their foreheads, that I chose to write my very first Opinions article. Articles are due to editors by that same week on Friday. I was in Columbus for a festival this particular weekend, staying at a scary motel that didn’t give us enough towels. (I had gone to the front desk in my pajamas to ask the desk attendant who looked like an even more gaunt Willem Dafoe for more -- only to find out that no, there were no more towels left in the entire hotel. It was as if the motel had been pillaged by feral towel-stealers and they had looted the laundry room.) I stayed up late rereading and editing that piece until my eyes stopped correctly interpreting letters and numbers. It was by no means a big deal; it’s not the Washington Post or anything -- just a college paper. But it marked the beginning of my newspaper endeavors, and that counts for something.
Correctly catching two buses to/from the Strip district alone to go to a church that wasn’t open. I’ve had many church-related misadventures since moving to Pittsburgh, but this really kicked the whole series off. I couldn’t find anyone to go with me that Sunday. Most everyone else was going to their own churches or not up to making the trip, so I accepted that I would have to go this one alone. I set off in my bell bottoms in search of Amplify Church, a seemingly outwardly hip church that’s kind of set into the side of a garage. I received clear-cut, exact directions from Alexander Popichak, who has proven to be my directionally-gifted, geographically-enlightened maharishi. Long story short, I got to the building with time to spare, which was basically a Christmas miracle, BECAUSE BUSES, and got an iced chai to celebrate (treat yo self) and walked up to the church feeling READY FOR JESUS – only to pull on the door and discover that it was locked. I tried for a really long time to pry the thing open; I wasn’t sure if there was a password I had to administer using Morse code or something, but it didn’t give. I discovered that there are two campuses for Amplify, and that service didn’t happen at that certain location until eight hours later. I walked dejectedly back to the bus stop, proceeded to miss two buses and then step in a large puddle that made my bell bottoms really grody. I walked back from the bus stop and ended up walking past a breathtakingly gorgeous cathedral with its doors open. I made it just in time for service.
Seeing Built to Spill at Mr. Smalls and not recognizing that their finale was a song off of the Smiths’ Meat is Murder album, while wearing a Meat is Murder Smiths t-shirt. (It was shameful. I blame the distortion.)
Discovering Waffallonia in Schenley Park (one Antwerp, please) and sitting in the park and talking about socialism.
Finding out that from the 10th floor of the Wood Allies parking garage, you can see the entire city. Living in Pittsburgh kind of feels like living in a fishbowl; I’m not really sure how else to describe it. It almost feels like there’s this wide expanse of wonderful that you can’t really reach because you’re kind of stuck on the ground. Going to the tenth floor turned into regular relief.
Eating a gourmet BLT hot dog with my RE at a church-themed hot dog shop understandably named Franctuary.
Finding out that 21st Street Coffee exists and watching my campus pastor play there at his album release party. The coffee actually tastes like pure earth. Like I’m pretty sure leafy elfin coffee creatures harvest it from the forests of heaven and combine it with water straight from the Fountain of Youth.
Going to the 40th floor of the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt and looking as far out of the windows as humanly possible.
Staying up until 4 a.m. as an extra in two of my floormates’ and closest friends’ 48-hour freshman film fest entry.
Pulling an all-nighter and going on a bike ride to the Point to watch the sun rise (it sounds more glamorous than it is -- I went on the bike ride to try to make myself tired so I could nap before my 1 o’clock class.) Shoutout to my main man insomnia -- you’ve always been there for me.
Writing existential questions on balloons with Sharpies and throwing them out the window from the 5th floor of Lawrence while watching people beat a piñata full of rolls of film and candy at a photography mixer.
Coming in late and trying not to wake my sleeping roommates and dropping an entire container of plastic utensils.
Coming in late and trying not to wake my sleeping roommates and ramming my guitar into the side of my bed.
Staying late at a National Press Photographers Meeting and talking for hours with the president and finding out that we have the same favorite band. NEEDTOBREATHE, you unite people. Mazel tov.
Conducting my first interview for an article and not knowing what to do with my hands or say during the awkward pauses between questions.
Getting a story published in every section of the Globe. Yes, even sports. I didn’t even know how cross country worked, but I sure as heck was willing to write a story about it. A very sincere thank you to the cool athlete person I interviewed who maybe (key word being maybe) likes Star Wars more than me. Thanks to the Globe, I got to tell people about a 16-year-old girl who tried to light her high school security guard on fire, the evils of gentrification, a stabbing that took place a block from campus, policy concerning serial rapists’ honorary degrees being rescinded, a Pittsburgh-based medical program that specializes in street medicine and treats those who identify as homeless, and an on-campus musician whose managers have credits with Mac Miller.
Skipping part of an oral comm lecture to get Dunkin Donuts with Jaron Andrechak.
Blacking out all the lights in the 4th floor lounge and watching Rear Window and The Road back-to-back.
Answering an extensive set of questions about the Bible and relationships and leadership for an hour for my Body interview and getting the position. The Body has been such a substantial, beautiful piece of my Point Park/faith experience, so I thought I’d give it a shot and apply for a leadership position for the spring semester. I am bursting at the seams to start working alongside some of the most wonderful people I have ever met to help show some folks some Jesus.
That time Linda Fisher Bruce wore one brown boot and one black boot.
Successfully conducting an interview (I learned what to do with my hands!!!!) for almost two hours with someone who completely altered the way I viewed homelessness. Jeremy Northup is changing the world; when he writes a dozen bestselling books or becomes the first television psychotherapist, you heard it here first, folks.
Going backstage at the Benedum during the Nutcracker with the honors program and watching the ballerinas that are literally hand-picked by God to be in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater warm up and bend their bodies in such a way that makes you want to just drive into the sun and die. We also got to see excessively tiny and adorable ballerinas with their mini bunheads sitting in front of lighted mirrors waiting for their parents to pick them up.
Going to a modern art and theology lecture at Carnegie and getting a private hour of free reign at the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Showing Carrie Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time and rewinding the scene where Cat gets thrown into the rain. ONE OF CINEMA’S SADDEST SCENES OF ALL TIME.
Getting $100 worth of pizza and watching a Charlie Brown Christmas before leaving for winter break. We requested silence during Linus’ speech.
If you know me beyond the four technological walls of this blog (also, thanks, you crazy fools! Thanks for reading this thing when I posted them here and there. And thank you to the people, aside from my mother and Carrie Reale, who reached the bottom of this unreasonably long post. You probably should have done something a lot cooler with your time. The only reasonable thing for you guys to do now is all go in on an ice cream cake and celebrate how awesome you are!) you know that I’m not super sentimental. I like looking forward. HOWEVER – this year’s sheer greatness almost makes me a little sentimental, just a little bit softer.
*metaphorical luxurious red velvet curtain drops dramatically as I Heely away from 2015 and say bonjour to 2016, the year of…..well, good stuff, I’m sure, as well as not so good stuff. Here’s to another year that of the world spinning madly on.