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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Inspiration

It's late and I've been doing homework since 3:00 this afternoon and my brain is fried and I'm exhausted and I have two projects due this weekend and I feel full and happy and sad and like my head might explode from all of the things. 

*deep breath*

In times like this, when everything feels like it's just too much, I read this letter. Written by E.B. White (author of Charlotte's Web) at the request of the children's librarian at the Troy Public Library here in Michigan in the early 1970's, this letter keeps me going. 

(source)

"A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your questions answered."

A good place, indeed.  

Don't panic. Kick ass.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

(Another) Birthday Wish

Another year, another birthday wish for my favorite guy. 

Kyle & Molly, circa forever ago.
We look like babies!

Seven years ago today, in the midst of Shakespeare Festival and midterms, we fell in love. Today and every day, I'm so grateful to have spent so many years with such a wonderful man. 

Kyle, 

Thank you for being you. For folding the socks and frying the eggs and pausing the movies when I inevitably fall asleep five minutes from the end. For being the perfect balance of Superman and Clark Kent and for loving this stubborn and opinionated Lois Lane. Happy, happy birthday, Tex. I love you (and I like you). 

XO, 
M.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Deep in the Heart

Today, my best friend Shannon moved to Texas. 

Double rainbows with Shannon outside of the Bakery.

Unsurprisingly, this gives me feelings of both nostalgia and pride. I'm so happy for her and excited for the new chapter she is about to begin, but I'm just going to miss her so much. Shannon and I met when we were in 8th grade, which feels like it has been both eons and mere days ago. Although we had a similar circle of friends, we did not really become close until the summer of 2002, our freshman year of band camp. We bonded over a mutual love of Fairly Oddparents and the love/hate relationship we both had with marching band. 

Throughout high school, we were inseparable. We would spend Friday nights at football games, weekends seeing cheap movies at the Ready, afternoons driving around listening to Keith Urban and Panic! at the Disco. We'd sit on the beach with our friends Gyllie and Stephanie, watching the waves roll in and squinting to see the lights of Chicago along the horizon. Those years were filled with train rides to Chicago, slumber parties in my parents' basement, sneaking out to cemeteries in hopes of finding a ghost, or at least an antidote for the ever-present small town boredom. 

As years passed and physical distance grew, we kept in touch. But the ebb and flow of adulthood commenced, phone calls and visits would sometimes be sporadic, but still the friendship remained. Shannon stood next to me on my wedding day, kept me classy at my bachelorette party, and shared one too many bottles of champagne with me on my porch. She has seen me through frizzy hair and embarrassing moments, awkward crushes and finding soul mates. Always, she has been just a drive away. Close enough to have a semi-spontaneous weekend drink, but far enough away to always carry a small ache of missing my best friend. 

Today, the physical distance between us will get a little further. Visits will now require plane tickets and a bit more coordination. Weekend drinks may have to be shared over Skype. Phone calls will be more frequent than crashing on each other's couches. But if 12 years of friendship has taught me anything, it's that she will always be there. 

Best of luck on your new adventure, Shannon. I love you and I'm so very proud and honored to call you my friend. Take Texas by storm, but always know that you have a home here in the Mitten. XOXO

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Born Down in a Dead Man's Town

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Today is Bruce Springsteen's 65th birthday, so it only seems appropriate to reflect (again) on what his music means to me and how it has influenced my life. As far a musical tastes go, mine are not particularly hip or eclectic. I enjoy classic rock, a bit of folk, and some show tunes for good measure. I know what I like and I like it entirely un-ironically. Inasmuch, I abuse the ability to hit repeat and will happily listen to the same song on loop for hours. 

Not only is the Boss my favorite musician of all time, he is also my go-to listen for nearly every situation, nearly every feeling. His repertoire is a musical medicine cabinet of sorts; healer of all that ails you. I've written before about how nearly every major milestone in my twenties has been marked by a Springsteen song or album. To this day, I am immediately taken back to memories of summers of newly-discovered independence, my college graduation, or my wedding day with the opening riffs of the Greetings from Asbury Park and Born to Run albums. I often rank seeing the Boss play Wrigley Field as the best day of my life. However, while I will always love and appreciate Bruce for the big moments, it's his music filling the quiet between the milestones that I will always treasure. 

After my leap into unemployment (and uncertainty) last year, I turned to the Born in the U.S.A album for comfort. Although it had never been one of my favorites, over the course of those insecure few months it filled me with feelings of rejuvenation and optimism. Born in the U.S.A tells a story of getting knocked down and picking yourself back up again, because that's the only option. In many ways, it's also a love story. But its pervasive story is that of a hopeful new beginning. When I felt like I had "nowhere to run, nowhere to go," once again the music of the Boss carried me home. 

It's that promise of hope that brings me back to his music again and again. When I need a song that's guaranteed to put a smile on my face, I turn to "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)". When I'm feeling lost, I turn to "Hungry Heart." When I'm hurting, I turn to "City of Ruins." In a musical homage to The Band's "The Weight" (my extreme love for that song deserves a post of its own), "City of Ruins" weaves a story of loss with the ever-hopeful chorus giving a glimpse of the beauty that will rise from the ashes. "Come on, rise up..."

In these moments of joy and happiness, pain and sorrow, I find myself automatically reaching for this music. By way of his words, his music, and his voice, the Boss has been there in every moment to celebrate and to mourn, to encourage or to just give a reason to turn up the radio and sing along. There's rarely an occasion that a little Bruce won't make better.

And so on this day, along with my birthday wishes, I want to also say thank you to the Boss. For writing what has become the soundtrack of my twenties. For being an enduring symbol of the strength of the underdog. For being a constant reminder that hope is everywhere, and for teaching us where to look. 

She found out how to cope
She rides to heaven on a gyroscope
The Daily News asked her for the dope
She said, "Man, the dope's that there's still hope.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Current Favorites

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1) Parks and Rec. 

Per the suggestions of a few friends, I started watching this on Netflix. Although I'd seen a bit of the first season in the past, I admit that I wasn't terribly impressed. I'm not a huge fan of single-camera, mockumentary-style sitcoms. However, now that I'm further into the series, I'm hooked. (But only on Season 3, so no spoilers!) The writing is hilarious, the characters are delightful, and I just can't get enough of Leslie Knope. I love her ambitious attitude and passion for her community. I could use a bit of the Knope spirit in my life. 


2) Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. 
This book series has literally been on my "To Read" list since high school, but for some reason I never got around to it. Over the summer, my friend Joe raved about it which gave me the final push I needed to dive in. I'm currently in the middle of the third book, absolutely loving it, and forcing myself to read slowly so that I can savor them. This series is a perfect blend of science fiction and satire, and Thursday Next is the perfect literary heroine. It's unlike anything I've ever read. 

3) "People Help the People," covered Birdy.
Although this album is a few years old, I've just recently started listening to it consistently. This song has been on repeat recently. I'm not sure what it is about it, but I can't get enough. Her covers of "Skinny Love" and "Fire and Rain" are also worth a listen. 

4) This awesome infographic about library usage. 
Despite what some might think, libraries are alive and well! Millennials continue to utilize libraries and are even out-reading older generations. My favorite statistic? In the U.S., there are more public libraries than there are McDonald's. Long live the libraries! 

5) The John Muir Trail. 
I love me a good documentary. I really love me a good documentary about mountains. So, when I saw Mile, Mile and a Half on Netflix, I knew that I would be in for a treat. This is a documentary about a group of artists who thru-hiked the John Muir Trail in California and documented their journey. Lately, I've been obsessed with the idea of long-distance hiking, thanks to books like Wild (PCT)A Walk in the Woods (AT), and Almost Somewhere (JMT). It's not something I have any experience with, but has this Midwesterner longing for mountains to climb. Perhaps one day...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm Still Here, Redux

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Although the calendar still indicates a few more precious days of summer, here in the Mitten all signs point toward fall. The skies today were gray, the air cool, and the sidewalks soaked with rain. While I generally prefer a bit more of a transition into this time of year, I am welcoming it with open arms (and umbrellas).

This summer flew by in a blink and was heavy with classes, a play, and the weddings of lovely friends. I didn't spend as much time up north, at Lake Michigan, or eating frozen yogurt as I would have liked, but it was a beautiful summer nonetheless. I made a lot of lattes, wrote a lot about libraries and reference services, and thought a lot about what I'd like life after grad school to look like. (Preferably a view of mountains from behind a reference desk.)

After a ridiculously busy month of July which included finishing classes for the semester, starring in a play, and spending a week in the Canadian wilderness, I had the entire month of August off of school. Although I relished in the lack of homework, I also experienced a lack of purpose. Despite the intensity and often overwhelming workload, I really love my program. I missed school. (A sentence I never thought I'd utter.) If nothing else, I've learned over these past nine months that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Libraries and literacy are my passion, and my heart swells at the thought of spending the rest of my life sharing that passion with others. 

With the transition to fall comes orchestra rehearsals, ArtPrize, Shakespeare Festival, Rocky Horror, birthdays, anniversaries. In just over a month, Kyle and I will celebrate 7 years together, as well as turning another year older. This past year has brought many changes and challenges, gray hairs and tears, and memories that make my heart feel full.

So, I continuously remind myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this very moment. I repeat my grad school mantra: Don't panic. Kick ass. I draw strength from the supportive people who surround me. But more than anything, I hold on to hope. Because sometimes, that's all there is. 

As always, thank you for reading friends. Thank you for having my back. And thank you for not just giving me hope for today, but hope for tomorrow as well. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm Still Here

My life, for the past 6 months.

Hello, friends.

I'm sorry this little space has been so quiet lately. Life has swept me away, with tides both rough and smooth, sometimes both all at once. I have one semester of grad school under my belt and am currently submerged in another. As I write this, I'm in the midst of finals week for one class, and midterm week for the other. Rehearsals for a new (thankfully comedic) play that I'm in began this week as well, something I'm really excited about. 

The waves are occasionally choppy, but I'm staying afloat. It's not always easy, but it is so, so worth it. 

I promise to return soon with a proper update, but in the meantime know that I love you, I miss you, and that you're never far from my mind. I hope you're all enjoying these summer months and are soaking up all of the sunshine in your lives.

Thanks for sticking around, friends. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

March Favorites

Fingers crossed that I can count sunshine and above-freezing temperatures among next month's favorites! Oh, Pure Michigan. 

1) 8tracks.
Thanks to my friend Victoria who introduced me to this music playlist app, I'm discovering new (to me, obviously) music that I'm absolutely LOVING. Current favorites include Ed Sheeran, Passenger, and Birdy's cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." Having playlists of new music makes running and doing homework a little more bearable. If you do the 8tracks thing, you can follow me @justgrandmolly. 


2) Live tweeting the Oscars and Ellen's selfie.

I haven't enjoyed the Oscars this much in years, despite the fact that I hadn't seen many of the nominated films. Ellen was a delight, and I don't care if it was just a crummy commercial, that epic selfie was the best. And that pizza looked delicious. 


3) "Let It Go" with classroom instruments.




For some reason I'd decided that I wasn't going to listen to "Let It Go" or its plethora of covers until I could hear my BFF Idina sing it at the Oscars. (I loved it.) But as far as I'm concerned, this song is a Classroom Instruments original. Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, if you're reading this, DO MORE CLASSROOM INSTRUMENTS. 


4) Lily Tomlin!

I went into this hoping to laugh until I cried, and I was not disappointed. Lily Tomlin was FANTASTIC. She performed for 2 hours straight, with no intermission. It was insane. Edith Ann and Ernestine made an appearance, as did other characters from her LaughIn days. Also, when she laughed she sounded like Ms. Frizzle, and that was just the best thing. 

5) Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout.
I've found my new favorite beer. That is all. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life Lessons from Jurassic Park

It's no secret around here that I'm a huge fan of Jurassic Park. For so many reasons. 

But mostly this one.
(source)
But I'm not here to talk about how much I love to hate Dennis Nedry or Dr. Malcom's sex appeal or how much that scene in the kitchen still scares the shit out of me. (Although I could talk about all of those things. A LOT.) I want to talk about how Jurassic Park reminds me to persevere in the face of adversity. (And not just the dinosaur kind.)

Allow me to set the scene: 

Shortly after the T-Rex eats the lawyer off the toilet and then proceeds to make a mess of pretty much everything, Dr. Grant rescues Timmy from the Jeep that was flung into the tree by the T-Rex. They quickly climb down only to find themselves trapped in the Jeep again after it plummets on top of them. 

Because of course it does.

It's fiiiiine.
(source)

After the dust has settled, the two have this little exchange.

Timmy: "We're back in the car again."
Dr. Grant: "But at least we're out of the tree."

So often I feel like I'm back in the car again. To put it simply, this winter has been difficult. Adjusting to balancing grad school classes with work and rehearsals and life in general have left me struggling to maintain my composure. The depression and anxiety that I worked so hard to overcome this summer came creeping in, and I felt like a failure in all aspects of my life. I was angry and frustrated with myself for failing, for losing control. I was back in the car. Again.

But in the midst of this trying season, there have been moments of clarity, of purpose, of resolve. Though entirely overwhelmed, it is all with things I love. I love my program, my job, my community, my friends, my family. I'm no longer stuck in a dead end career, without passion or purpose. I know my place, where I belong. It's difficult, it's a mess, it's hard work, but this life is beautiful, and it finds a way.  

At least I'm out of the tree. 

Live fiercely, friends.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

(Belated) February Favorites

Abbreviated favorites for an abbreviated month. Here's to spring!

1) Of Monsters and Men.

I was first introduced to this band through The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack and quickly became obsessed. It's difficult to narrow down a favorite song, but these lyrics from "Mountain Sound" really speak to me:

I heard them calling in the distance
So I packed my things and ran
Far away from all the trouble 
I had caused with my two hands


2) Jimmy Fallon and The Muppets sing "The Weight."




This might possibly be the best thing that has ever happened in the history of  everything ever. Or at the very least, in Muppet/Fallon collaborations. This song is so meaningful to me, and to see my favorite Muppet friends sing it moves me nearly to tears. What can I say? The Muppets make me feel feelings.

3) These guys.

Vic, Morgan, & Mo
//Feb2014

With a little wine and a lot of love, these beautiful women always carry me through, even on the grayest of days. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Peaks & Valleys

Sitka, AK
//Jul2013

I'll be honest: it's been a rough few weeks. Grad school stress, hormones, and a dash of seasonal (PUNS!) depression  have combined forces to make me a sad, messy mess as of late. And it sucks. 

I've finally come to accept that my battle with depression, anxiety, and panic will be ongoing. There will be peaks, and there will be valleys. I'm learning to cope with this, even thrive despite it. But the fight is still difficult. For too long, mental illness has been so stigmatized. I want to be open about this struggle, because I know that I'm not alone. 

I've learned how to detect my personal symptoms of depression: withdrawing from loved ones, exhaustion, excessive dwelling on negative feelings, not wanting to get out of bed, feeling gray. I can identify the symptoms. Finding the strength to get out of bed and cope in a healthy way, rather than just crawling under the covers and eating another bowl of cereal, is another matter. 

I'm making every effort at healthy means of self-care. Often, I equate "self-care" with "shutting off my brain." This means that I often look at watching hours of Netflix and eating graham crackers with frosting as taking care of myself. (Spoiler alert: It's not.) Today after work, I forced myself to not just go home and crawl into bed. I went to the gym and ran a few miles. I practiced my violin in preparation for an event I'm playing in later this week. I read a few pages of my book. And for the first time in a couple of weeks, I felt better. Not 100%, but better. 

Though this winter feels endless, life feels overwhelming, and there are days where I just want to flee to the mountains, deep down I know there is hope. Though I may currently find myself in a proverbial valley, it's a valley filled with love and light, despite the clouds. I know the light will shine brighter once again. So until then, I will continue remind myself there are mountains on my horizon. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Mind Drifts Like the Snow

Lake Michigan, supposedly.
Feb2014

My favorite line from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, wasn't spoken but rather shown as written words onscreen. Walter writes in his journal, "my mind drifts like the snow." Those words so perfectly encapsulate the feelings of this season, both literally and figuratively. 

Some mornings I awake feeling as though I could conquer the world. I'm productive, check things off of my neverending to-do list, and I feel hopeful for what life holds. Other mornings, I wish that I could just hibernate with bottomless mugs of coffee and mountains of books. Sometimes, I just wish that I had a river to skate away on. (Thanks, Joni.)

Somehow, all of the things that make up my life get done: work, school, orchestra and quartet rehearsals, runs, meetings, maintaining relationships, the various minutia that is making dirty laundry clean and empty refrigerators full. If I think too deeply about all that needs to be accomplished, I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, it's best not to dwell and to just keep moving. Always moving. 

Some days I just feel homesick, missing something that I can't quite identify. Longing for sunshine filtering through tree leaves and fields of weeds and wildflowers and creaky floorboards and waves and sun tea. Sometimes the tears fall without reason or prompt, and sometimes it hurts to breathe.  

Today, I'm feeling nostalgic for the past and daydreaming about the future while still trying to keep myself firmly grounded in the present. But still, my mind drifts like the snow. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!

(source)

For conspiring with me in my many harebrained schemes, instilling in me a love of conspiracy theories and Gilligan's Island, and for giving me the confidence to follow my passions, I am forever grateful. When I was 14 you told me, "Drop everything and do what's important to you." Although it's a lesson that's taken me over a decade to learn (a lesson that I'm learning still), those words continue to resonate along with your strength that I carry with me always.

Today and always, Mom, do what's important to you. Because you deserve it. 

Love, Baby Girl

Monday, January 27, 2014

January Favorites

Polar vortex-ing on Paris.
Jan14


Here's what I'm loving this month!


1) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I am obsessed with everything about this movie. It's beautifully filmed, has an emotionally engaging and exciting story, and its soundtrack makes even doing homework feel like an adventure. If it's still in a theatre near you, I highly recommend checking it out. (Although be warned that it's not the Zoolander sequel you've been wanting since you were 13. Just me?) If you can't catch the movie, check out the soundtrack on Spotify. (The song "Dirty Paws" is my favorite.) You won't be disappointed. Seriously. 


2) Where'd You Go Bernadette?
I've been doing pretty well thus far balancing pleasure reading with my grad school responsibilities. (I'm enjoying it while it lasts.) Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is one of the best books I've read in months. Bernadette Fox, an eccentric-genius-architect disappears seemingly without a trace, and her 15-year-old daughter Bee takes it upon herself to piece together her mother's correspondences to find her. Lighthearted and witty, Bernadette is an absolutely wonderful and enjoyable read. (And this quote sums up my feelings exactly: "I miss it, the mountains and the water." Indeed.)

3) Clothing Swaps and Game Nights.
Every few months or so each of these things happen within my group of friends. And both are awesome. Clothing Swaps involve cleaning out your closets and getting to wear your friends' stylish hand-me-downs. And mimosas. Game Nights involve board games and dark humor. And mimosas. Win!

4) Plaid, plaid, and more plaid.
With the chilly temperatures and my tendency to assimilate into my hipster surroundings, plaid is the only thing I want to wear. And it's becoming a real problem. I need a plaid-tervention. 


5) Frasier
And of course this list wouldn't be complete without an outdated pop culture reference. The pretentious snark that is the Crane brothers never fails to make me laugh out loud and make me want to drink sherry. (What the hell is sherry, for that matter?) Thank goodness for Netflix its ability to provide a little comfort food TV on these blustery winter nights. 

Stay warm out there, friends!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Assignments Gone Wrong

This week, I had to record a video introducing myself to my Information Technology class. I spent Friday night recording practice runs. I think it's safe to call this particular run an outtake:



At least we know how to keep things interesting?

Happy weekending, friends.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Recent Developments

1) I love orange juice.
There are very few things in life that I just won't eat or drink. I'm very open and will try just about anything. But I hate orange juice. Until about a month ago. Now, I can't get enough. Perhaps with these frigid temps and nasty viruses flying around, my body is just desperate for vitamin C. Or maybe I'm just hooked on mimosas. Either way, bring on the OJ!

2) I have a new face. 
At least, it certainly feels that way. In the past two months, I've gotten both glasses and bangs, and have started experimenting with wearing bold lip colors. It's funny; when I look in the mirror I feel like the reflection is finally capturing who I see on the inside. I feel like I've been reinvented. 

3) I love my job.
Yes, seriously. Working in this small cafe has given me the daily autonomy and variety that I've so desperately craved. I love chatting with our regulars, recommending drinks, and choosing the daily specials. I'm content and comfortable in my position, and for the first time in far too long I don't dread going to work. Dare I say, I even enjoy it? 

4) I don't hate winter.
I never thought I would say this, but here we are! While gray skies and icy roads still cause stress, I'm actually enjoying this season of bundling and being cozy. I don't even mind the snow! (Although that Polar Vortex was no joke!) Perhaps I'm just subconsciously preparing myself for an imaginary move to Alaska.

5) I'm going to see Lily Tomlin perform in GR in March!
I've had a thing for Lily Tomlin since her voice graced my ears as Ms. Frizzle on The Magic School Bus. As I grew older, I came to admire her comedic genius through Laugh-In clips, her stint on Murphy Brown, and her amazing role in 9 to 5. (And you guys, I could wax poetic for hours about my love for 9 to 5.) You could say that Lily Tomlin is my comedic idol and I'm beyond thrilled for the chance to see her perform at LaughFest!

FUN FACT: Lily Tomlin studied theatre at Wayne State University in Detroit, where I'm currently pursuing my graduate degree (albeit online). This pretty much means that we're best friends, right? RIGHT?!?!

(source)


So catch me up. What are you up to?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Embracing Apprehension

Staged reenactment of a nervous breakdown. 

Today is my first day of grad school and I'm terrified. 

I'm afraid of the unknown. Of failing. Of hating it. I'm afraid of being a terrible student. I'm afraid of the little voice that says, "Are you really sure this is what you should be doing?" 

Last week, I'd had a stressful day. I didn't feel well and the post-holiday, pre-grad school blues were just getting me down. I went to Target armed with a gift card, prepped for a little retail therapy. 

But it just didn't cut it. (Surprise, surprise.)

I left empty handed, still anxious, still with a tightness in my chest. But with a clear idea of where I needed to be. And so I escaped to the place that has always brought comfort: the library. After wandering the labyrinthine shelves and choosing a few precious books to take home, I found that I was breathing easier.  I also found a peace in my heart.

Despite the apprehension and nervousness, it's moments like these that confirm that I'm pursuing my passion. 

And if it turns out that grad school isn't for me? That's ok. Dreams change, but passions are steadfast. If I've learned anything in the past year, it's to follow your heart and to pursue what makes it beat quickly with excitement, in any way possible. 

So, I'm taking these feelings of apprehension and turning them into anticipation. I'm giving myself permission to take this semester, this year, this entire program one day at a time. I'm allowing myself to be open to possibilities, whatever they may be. I'm on this path for a reason, and I'm going to embrace it with joy and pursue it with hope.

On a side note, it is my intent to continue blogging while I'm in school. However, if life gets hectic and this little space gets quiet, I'd love to connect with you via Twitter and Instagram.


Have a good week, friends. Stay warm out there!