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504 words about what’s going on in my brain

Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately. You have to understand, Internet, that things still happen when I’m not at my computer. Perhaps even more so. “But wait, if I don’t tweet/blog/insta about it, do I even exist?!” Well funnily enough, I’ve inadvertently been doing a super scientific experiment by not posting everything I do to the interwebs, and I have successfully rejected my null hypothesis. So, yes, I do still exist, with 95% certainty! It really is a wonderful thing.

All bad jokes aside, I’ve been taking the past couple of weeks to enjoy slowing down. I had dinner with my aunt the other night, and we were talking about this stage of transition that a few of my cousins and I happen to find ourselves in. [There is a grammatically correct Jiminy Cricket chanting in my head “transition in which a few of my cousins and I happen to find ourselves” but I just can’t do it right now] She asked if I’m nervous about potentially starting in a new city and living on my own. I thought about it, and I had to say no. I feel just fine! I’ve never been one to shy away from responsibility or change. Heck, the first couple of weeks of college were some of the best in my life. I’ve held leadership positions in the majority of organizations with which I’ve been involved. I become my most efficient and focused self under pressure. So yeah, I feel ready for this. Bring it on, life!

That being said, it was been re-hee-heeally nice to slow down for a bit to just enjoy the place that I’m in and the relationships I have. Chapel Hill is a wonderful place. My friend Jackie wrote a great blog post about all the things we love about this place. (There are really a lot of things to love) I’ve loved exploring the nooks and crannies of Chapel Hill/Durham/Carrboro that I missed the past few years, and revisiting some of my favorites. It’s been nothing short of awesome getting to spend more time with my parents and friends.

This actually brings me to one of the bittersweet parts about post-grad life. I’ve heard it from so many people and read it on Thought Catalog so many times, but it truly is a lot harder to keep up with friends after graduation. It takes effort. That’s the bitter part. It’s almost too easy to let those ties fade into the past. But the sweet part is, the ones you hold onto become that much stronger because of the effort you’re putting into them.

I have just under two weeks left of classes and then I’m done for real. It’s serious this time; May graduation was just a test run. Then I’m going to make a quick road trip to DC to visit my sister and friends, then a week at Camp Kesem, and then the great question mark part of my calendar begins.

Hey, I’m excited. This is the cool part!

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LLWOC: On Freshman Year

For my last last week of class (LLWOC), I’ve decided to dedicate each of the four days to reminiscing about each of the four years. Yesterday, Monday, was freshman year. So all day, the only music I listened to was from the time period of August 2010 and May 2011. Music, like scent, is one of those powerful things that can instantly transport you to a moment of time. In listening to these songs, I was carried through a lot of those little moments that slipped my mind, and it was really nice.

Last Friday Night, Cooler Than Me: Remember when these were the popular, overplayed songs on the radio? Hah!

The Lucky Ones: I thought I was pretty cool for discovering this singer-songwriter all on my own. I bought the whole album and listened to it often while making the 20-minute trek from good ol’ Craige to north campus. Gosh I can see it so clearly right now. Making a left out of my suite, down two flights of stairs, passing the magnolia leaves on the ground and sketchy bridge leading to the Manning/Ridge intersection, emerging out of the parking lot, waiting for the light outside Craige North, hating every single stupid loud beep from the crosswalk sign, climbing past Hardin and Morrison, through Rams, down Stadium, across South, and arriving to class thoroughly sweaty and out of breath. But I really loved that album. It was so soothing and seemed perfectly appropriate for my first year at UNC. Then, at a Clef Hangers concert when they were calling out alumni in the audience and they said Brendan James’ names, it all made sense.

Just The Way You Are, Misery, Fader, Black & Gold, Little Lion Man, Magic, Impossible: These are songs performed by a cappella groups that year. Shout out to the Achordants, Loreleis and Clef Hangers! After Sunset Serenade, a free a cappella concert on the quad the first week of classes, I was hooked. I became such an a cappella junkie. Not that I’m a particularly gifted singer myself, I just really loved hearing the groups perform together and make my favorite songs even better. When I first heard the Achordants sing Fader, I probably looked like Buddy the Elf meeting Santa Claus. My favorite song, sung by really cool people? Sounding even better? Best day ever! I was secretly one of the Achordants best fans for a while, not missing a single concert until junior year. I also made it to Clef Hangers, Loreleis, Cadence, Tar Heel Voices and Tarpeggios concerts over the years. They were all awesome. Just awesome.

Stereo Love, We R Who We R, Till The World Ends, No Hands, All Of The Lights, Driving Me Crazy: Ahh, yes. The songs of late night freshman year. The frat parties and the dorm rooms. I very clearly remember We R Who We R being the song I got ready to for my first Franklin Street Halloween experience. I remember Sammy Adams came to Lambda Chi that year for a concert. I didn’t actually get to go, but my suitemates did so I got to listening to his stuff. The rest of it, no good explanation. Bad music just happens sometimes.

Never Gonna Leave This Bed: This is the other hallmark album I associate with freshman year. I will only buy an entire album if I love every single song. And that was the case with this one. This song is still one of my all-time top favorites. I listened to this album so so much that year.

White Winter Hymnal, Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, Home: These songs are part of a moment halfway through freshman year. A couple of my friends lived in Morrison, so I was over there all the time. One night when we were in the lobby, they broke out a couple guitars and we started jamming. It didn’t matter if your voice was raspy or you didn’t know the lyrics. I think there were 7-8 of us. It all felt so natural and comfortable. It was a really good group of people and a great night. A lot of the time I spent with that group involved music actually; it’s something engrained in who they are and part of why I loved spending time with them.

The Show Goes On: I clearly remember this being a warmup song during my first ever Carolina basketball game. It was UNC vs. NC State. We won. It was awesome.

Life in Technicolor ii, I’m In Love, Teenage Wasteland: These are my freshman year UNC Dance Marathon songs. Life in Technicolor ii played in the background of a For the Kids story video, and from then on I associated this song with the organization and everything I love about it. Even this year I had it as the sound for alarms for UNC-DM events on my phone. I’m In Love is a song I remember being played at setup, as I was seeing it all come together for the first time. I don’t remember a lot from my first dance marathon– the earlier ones blend together– but I definitely remember that song and seeing my friends so excited to dance for 24 hours together. Teenage Wasteland. Ahh, the single song with the ability to make me emotional at the press of a button. This is the song that plays while the Executive Board reveals, one by one, the numbers that create the year’s fundraising total. I’ve written a lot about dance marathon, so you know how much it means to me already. I’ll just say the first time I saw the balloons drop after revealing the number was one of those eye-opening events that made me see things differently, permanently.

Such a happy little freshman

Such a happy little freshman

If I had known how much my decisions that year would come to affect who I am now, I think I would’ve been more deliberate about them. But then again, I’m glad I had no idea. I definitely heard people telling me that advice, but if I had taken the time to really grasp what all my decisions would come to mean, I’m sure it would’ve been a much more stressful year. Don’t get me wrong, parts of that year definitely were stressful. I was pre-med then, taking chemistry and biology classes way more difficult than I enjoyed at the time. I went through rush and joined a sorority. I was on the club field hockey team. I was in UNC-DM, Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, and trying out a few other clubs. All things considered though, I was having a blast.

The first two weeks of UNC, from Carolina Kickoff and moving in to classes getting real, were two really awesome weeks. Coming from a small, nerdy high school where I wasn’t anyone spectacular, I was led to believe I was shy. I was incredibly nervous about being at such a big school. It was also my first time being completely on my own, in the sense of not being at the same school as my twin sister.  A place where I could be Renee, not “Michelle’s twin.” I don’t mean this at all in a negative way toward my sister. I only mean that having my own space to grow like UNC did a lot for my individuality and knowing who I am and what I stand for. The first two weeks I found out that I was actually a social person, and I loved meeting new people. More so than the people around me did. It was totally unexpected and I was loving it. That freshman mentality, when everyone is a potential best friend, is so valuable.  I was getting an early start on my bucket list and doing quintessential UNC things like getting YoPo with friends and riding a full circle on the P2P because at that time it was a wonderful, amazing system, so convenient for transporting students across campus. (Hah.)

It was a great first year. I found my niche and got into a groove. I met a ton of awesome people and got started on things that would grow in significance later. I started to love this school despite my initial hesitation.

Post about sophomore year next!

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Bucket List

There are 25 days between me and graduation. How have these four years passed already? Part of me recognizes that a lot has happened between now and 2010 that couldn’t possibly have taken less than four years, but part of me says no way, I just started this.

It isn’t time for me to write a love letter to UNC. Not yet. I’m still here. For now, I’ll share the things I have left to do. I’ve crossed off a good number of items from my list already, but there are few left. Everyone is welcome to join in and help me cross them off!

  • Update my resume and portfolio — they’re way past out of date. Oh.
  • Country night — apparently this is a thing here. I’ve never been and have been told it’s a necessity. Help.
  • Maple View ice cream at sunset in a porch rocking chair — okay, so I have done this before. But, again! As if I really need an excuse, psh.
  • Dames chicken and waffles — Being a Southern school and stuff
  • Diamond heels game — because obviously
  • Sit on the quad between classes — I really don’t understand how I haven’t already done this.
  • Hammocking in the arboretum
  • Play in Bynum fountain
  • Sutton’s counter lunch
  • Ye Olde (again)
  • Planetarium show
  • Various brunch spots: 411 West, R&R, Mint, Kipos
  • Crunkleton Beesting
  • Jordan Lake
  • Fridays on the Front Porch
  • Get lunch/coffee with some of my professors
  • Climb the Bell Tower
  • Take senior portraits
  • Oh, order my cap and gown I guess

Any other suggestions? What was the most UNC thing you’ve ever done?

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Running into old friends

Literally, running into old friends!

One of the things I love about living in Cary over the summer is that I don’t have to worry about seeing people I know when I look crummy, but tonight didn’t work out that way. Jenn and I crossed paths on our evening runs (she was already 1.5 hours into hers, I just started) and what I had planned on being a quick jog turned into an hour of catching up.

Let me start by saying she’s in way better shape than me, so when you imagine our conversations, you can imagine me being really out of breath.

It’s so crazy how similar our undergrad paths are, and also so different. Jenn is five years ahead of me as a member of the class of 2009. She and I are both 4-year dancers for UNC Dance Marathon, counselors for Camp Kesem, and members of Panhellenic organizations. We both also went through the experience of jumping around majors and pursuing many paths. That’s where we differ; she tended toward law and organizational development when I tend toward advertising and creative work. The weirdest part is that I had no idea of any of this. We fell out of touch, understandably, as she went to Carolina and got really busy, and then I started Carolina right after she graduated. But somehow we got involved in very similar avenues. Tell me that isn’t cool!

We spent a lot of time together during my middle school and her high school years. Jenn was a tutor/babysitter (realizing now that we were way too old for a babysitter, but that’s my parents) for my sister and I. We played tennis, did homework, prepared for her prom, talked about friends, asked for advice, went shopping, you name it. My parents loved having her around because she was undoubtedly a great influence on 13-year-old twins with too much energy, and we loved spending time with Jenn because we thought she was the coolest person in the history of ever.

Still do, by the way. And especially after our chat tonight! She is a grad student at Duke, employee at a consulting firm for the UN in New York and world traveler. It’s awesome to see her now a few years later and see how both of us have grown since our time in Cary together. I’m definitely at a turning point in my life since I’m about to graduate UNC in a year, and she’s at a major crossroads as well as she decides her future path. It’ll be interesting to see what’s next for both of us.

I’m not sure how to conclude this, so I’d rather not. Who says you have to tie up relationships neatly with a bow, and store them away for later? I say keep the book open and let the story continue. I probably won’t see her again for a while, but that just means we’ll have all the more to talk about next time.

Until next time!

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