Three thirteen

Three-hundred and thirteen hours.

The number of hours before I’m home.

The number of hours before I, for the first time since August, will feel free.

The number of hours before I can breathe again.

The number of hours before I finish two finals, two projects, one speech, one nine-page paper, and as many news articles I can get published.

The number of hours before I move out of my dinky apartment with awful maroon carpet.

The number of hours before I can snuggle my pets and hug my family.

The number of hours before Christmas season really begins and I can Netflix Christmas Hallmark movies like they’re going out of business.

But it’s also the number of hours I have left to spend with friends before I leave the country for a semester.

The number of hours to make the guy I’m crushing on fall in love with me and commit to a transcontinental long-distance relationship.

The number of hours to improve in my reporting class so I don’t fail and have to retake it.

The number of hours I have to say goodbye to friends that graduate in the spring.

The number of hours I have to soak up as much of MU before I’m an ocean away.

I’m so close.

What happened to the time? Where did my semester go? I had so many plans and ideas. So many things to accomplish and places to go.

Now here I am, sitting a Kaldi’s (SURPRISE) attempting to study for finals and write a paper about people I didn’t have enough time to read about.

But all I’ve managed to accomplish is write a few lack-luster notecards and read blog posts of friends that spent the fall abroad.

I just read my dear friend Madi’s blog post and I’ll be honest, it scared the crap out of me. She wrote of amazing adventures and trying not to “do” Europe. It made my wanderlust reach an all-time high. But also made me fear that I wouldn’t have the same experience.

What if I hate my time there or don’t live up the expectations of my internship? What if I endure an unrelenting homesickness that keeps me from experiencing the culture and people? What if I don’t make Harry Styles fall in love with me?

I know I’ve voiced these fears before, but with now only 312 and a half hours left to the semester, it’s becoming much more real. I don’t know if I’m prepared for what my spring semester holds.

I don’t know if I’m prepared for the next 312 and a half hours.

What I do know is that I have every intention of making the most them.

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I’m so cultured

I could have sat there for hours.

My honors art class had taken a field trip to two of St. Louis’ art museums on Saturday and our first stop was the Contemporary Art Museum.

I liked the majority of the work there, but one body of work in particular stood out to me.

It was a work by Carla Klein. She is part photographer, part painter. Her paintings are recreations of her photography, but she paints the flaws as well. Any chemical mishap in the development stage of her film is painted on the canvas. Her attention to detail was stunning and the subject of the series was haunting.

All her photos/paintings portrayed seclusion and vast emptiness. Her paintings sucked me in. I felt alone in the arctic tundra and on a road to nowhere. I sat and stared for 10 minutes.

Carla Klein

Carla Klein collection

We also went outside and experienced a Richard Serra piece named “Joe.” It was really neat because we got to walk through the huge sculpture.

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“Joe” by Richard Serra (ft. Veronica DeStefano)

Afterward, we made our way to the St. Louis Art Museum. I’d never been and I know that I’ll be back.

It was three floors of gorgeous paintings and sculptures from all over the world representing every century. We only had two hours to spend and it was not nearly enough time. I could have wandered for days.

The contemporary art section was one of my favorites. Several of the artists we were learning about in class had artwork on the walls of the museum. My two favorite pieces were Dan Flavin’s light sculpture and Morris Louis’ “Beta.”

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Dan Flavin

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“Beta” by Morris Louis

I really loved the simplicity of the works. It was great getting away from Columbia and enjoying the silence of the museums. It gave me time to forget the world and admire the beauty of art.

I know what I want.

I’m having a revelation. Right now. As I write this.

I know what I want to do with my life. 

andy-dwyer-reacts

But here’s the problem: I don’t know if I’m cut out for it.

I want to be a photographer for an outdoors magazine (OUTSIDE MAG OH EM GEE) or some commercial outdoors company (PATAGONIA NORTHFACE WHAATTT?) that allows me to travel the natural world with people that are extremely passionate about it. I want to explore. I want to meet new and exciting people, do new and exciting things. I want to surround myself with those that live life. I want to step outside my comfort zone. I want to climb a mountain, scuba dive deep in the ocean, backpack across Europe, tell stories both visually and verbally, and I want to do this as a career. Not as a side hobby or something to do in my (nonexistent) free-time with my (nonexistent) money.

I understand that this is really reaching. I know this sounds outlandish and unrealistic. I don’t know if I’ll ever get here with my life, but boy, it sure sounds great, doesn’t it?

So how do I get here? Of course I expect to hold a number of less than desirable positions. I may discover a passion in something else along the way. Maybe I’ll be a writer for Buzzfeed (a girl can dream) or a photo editor at a dinky newspaper in rural Missouri (which would also be kind of cool). WHO KNOWS?

But it definitely feels nice to have a direction. I may not be following the direct route of a normal photojournalist, but I want to spend my life doing something I’m excited about. Something that doesn’t make mentally exhausted at the end of the day, but physically exhausted because I had been hiking through Norway or snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. I want to share the beauty of the world with those that so often overlook it. We’ve been given an amazing gift to live this life on Earth and so few take advantage of that.

I don’t know where this adventurous spirit comes from and I doubt I’ll ever live up to it, but for right now, I’m content in my daydreams and hope to one day make them my reality.

That Overwhelming Feeling

hate

The semester is well over halfway at this point. I don’t know what happened. Where did the time go?

Monday after Monday, I manage to convince myself that it’s still the beginning and I’m just getting into the swing of things. However, that is a lie.

I am constantly going with little relief. The Missourian (and guilt of not being a better reporter) consumes my thoughts 67 percent of the day. The rest is filled with anxiety about my other classes, homework, coffee, the future, boys and friendships.

Over the past week, I’ve felt overwhelmed. Really overwhelmed. I had papers to write, articles to research, projects to do, family in town, books to read, and very little time to breathe. I’ve actually avoided stepping foot in The Missourian since last Wednesday. (That’s a record for me. I feel so guilty, but I just really needed a break. I’ll be back Wednesday, Liz. Promise.)

I’ve been trying to write an article about first generation college students and for some reason, very few people have gotten back to me. I’ve called and emailed, but no one is answers, they promise to get back to me later, they don’t actually answer my question, etc. It’s driving me nuts.

Photoj has been stressing me out as well. I want this. I want this so badly. But I’m so lost. I don’t understand a lot about photojournalism. The assignments cause me anxiety. I procrastinate. I don’t approach strangers well. It makes me think I’ve made the wrong decision. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love photography. I love the joy of it. The adventure. The beauty. The emotion. I just don’t know how to capture it.

I really hope I made the right decision studying abroad next semester. I’ve never wanted anything more, but writing a check worth more than my car (and it’s only 30% of the program fee) made me feel a little faint. I know it will be a wonderful experience and I hope it opens my eyes to the world and gets me out of my shell, but still. I get a lot of panic-inducing emails from the program about money and meetings.

I know that I’ll make it through this semester in one piece. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can say the same for my GPA or bank account.

(Sorry. Please, dear readers and/or parents, do not fret for my sanity or send me to the counseling center. I promise that this is simply a social media rant.)

A Weekend Home

This past weekend, I went home for the first time this semester. I cannot begin to express the joy of going home. The three and a half hour drive alone does wonders for my mood. Yes, there are trees in Columbia, even a few good hills, but it can’t compare to the beautiful Mark Twain National Forest of Southwest Mo.

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Missing home already.

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Fall finally makes its presence known now that the once green leaves are slowly melding into bright reds, rusty oranges, and faded yellows. The twists and turns of the Ozark backroads zoom by. Excitement builds. I’m finally home.

I brought a friend this time. Ellen got her first taste of where I came from. I’m sure she understands why I’m so ridiculous now.

I went home because it was my older brother and father’s birthday weekend. Garrett was born one day before my dad’s birthday. Quite the present.

We got in late Friday night. After hugs and love, we snuggled into the couch for a nice, lazy evening.

On Saturday, after an enormous breakfast of Dutch Baby pancakes, Ellen and I decided to take on Silver Dollar City, a pioneer-themed park in Branson, Mo. It’s the best. We rode roller coasters and ate tater-twists.

Later, nineteen members of my family crowded into my home Saturday night. I’m sure it was mildly overwhelming for my guest. Especially because when my family gets together, conversation usually revolves around poop stories and hunting.

The next day, we went to my home church and I’ve never seen the service have so many people. It was really encouraging. After, we took Ellen on the grand tour of Branson (i.e., drove down the Strip). Then we headed to Cracker Barrel for brunch. The rest of the day was spent perusing Walmart and driving back to CoMo.

This weekend was great, but it left me wanting. I always forget how much I love home. When I come to school, I’m on my own. I’m an independent college student left to rely on herself.

I suck at time management. I spend way too much money on coffee. I have FOMO (fear of missing out). I’m a sub par student. But when I go home, I forget about all of that. I can just lay down on the floor and snuggle my dogs. I can pester my siblings until someone rubs my feet. I can eat a home cooked meal and/or deer meat. I can sit and talk with my daddy and watch Netflix with my mom and sister. I can talk to my older brother about life. I can make fun of my little brother for his tendency to date older women. Life is easier.

I tend to forget.

So this is your friendly reminder to hug a loved one, call a parent, text a sibling, and take a breath.

Note to Parents: I know you read these and think I’m depressed. I’m not. I just miss you. Get over it. (LURV U.)

Do The British Like Coffee?

london

As of yesterday, I can officially say that I’ll be spending my spring semester in London, England. Woah. Ugh. Writing that makes it feel so…official. So real. Am I really going to London or is this a sick joke?

I’ve been working towards this since freshman year. One of the main reasons I chose MU was because of their London internship program. January to April, I’ll be working for an actual news organization in London. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing, but what I can tell you is that I’ve never been more nervous and excited for something in my life.

For some silly reason, I’ve romanticized this foreign city. I imagine it as my be-all and end-all. Without this experience, I won’t ever discover what I truly want in life. Why? I don’t know. I’m probably crazy.

As you can imagine, I’m scared to death. I’ve been abroad before. When I was fifteen, I spent a month in Australia with a group of strangers, so I’m not nervous to be out of my element and in a foreign place. But I am afraid of failure.

What if I get there and can’t perform well at my internship? What if they hate me? What if I discover that journalism isn’t for me? What if I accidentally use a British accent in front of the wrong person and they kick me out of the country?

On top of failure, there are so many other “what ifs” running through my mind right now. Can I really afford to do this? What if I run out of money? What if I fall in love with a member of One Direction and then have to come back to America? What if I decide I never want to leave? What if I hate it and want to leave? What if they don’t have coffee?

So for right now, I could use a few prayers for peace and a friendly reminder that everything will be okay. Even if my trip is sub par and I end up living on bangers and mash once I run out of money. I can’t imagine this trip won’t have some huge impact on me, whether that be my confidence, my journalism skillz, or my life as a whole.

If nothing else, I’ll at least get some badass photos of Big Ben and Platform 9 and 3/4, right?

Roots N Blues and an Empty Wallet

I have this thing called FOMO. It stands for “fear of missing out.” Essentially, I want to do everything I can because I’m afraid I’ll miss something big or important.

This weekend, Columbia hosted its eighth annual Roots N Blues (RNB) festival. I’d never been. I actually heard about it for the first time last year and thought it was just a tiny concert in the street.

I was wrong. It’s a big deal. A really big deal.

I’d never been to a music festival in general for this year’s RNB, and I didn’t plan on going this year. There were several great bands going, but I just couldn’t justify the $85 for a weekend of non-productivity.

However, we were sitting in our morning budget meeting for The Missourian and Tom asked who was attending. On impulse, I raised my hand and immediately posted on Mizzou Ticketmarket in hopes that someone would sell me a cheap ticket, if only for one day.

I finally got someone to offer me a weekend ticket for $50 and I took it without thinking about the repercussions on my bank account.

After I made the money/ticket exchange, I felt sick. I don’t have the money to do fun things and still afford to buy excess amounts of coffee.

Regardless, I went. I only attended Saturday and Sunday, but as soon as the temperature dropped to 75 degrees in the park, I knew I made the right decision.

This semester has already been one of the most stressful of my college career. I’m in constant fear of failure and judgment. I hide in coffee shops for hours and avoiding social situations because I feel like I have so much to do that I can’t do both.

Roots N Blues was exactly what I needed. Though this week will be the end of me because I didn’t finish the homework I was supposed to over the weekend, I have no regrets. I had an amazing time, hung out with amazing people, heard amazing music, had the best doughnut of my life and thought nothing of my obligations to school and The Missourian. It was the breath of fresh air the doctor ordered. (There wasn’t actually a doctor, but I bet he/she would have ordered it.)

In conclusion, I’ve decided that yes, school is important and I need to become A LOT better with time management. BUT I need to take time for myself. I feel like I’m constantly going and have lost all focus to the extent that I studied on the roof of a parking garage to escape distraction.

So thank you RNB for providing a delightful weekend and a chance to live.

Roots N Blues