Saturday, November 21, 2015

Inside A Moment

I find myself engrossed in life. Isn't that where I should be?

Amid our daily lives moments take hold of us, maybe even more specifically it is a mindset that overcomes us. This is very abstract, I understand, so let me put it into prospective. Today, November 21, 2015 I went to my very first hockey practice at Phillips Exeter Academy. I was mortified to go. I haven't played hockey before, I can skate pretty well (it is one of my favorite past times) but the stick in my had was a foreign object. Thoughts about what the coach would think, what others would think, if I would be prepared, if I was going to be unfathomably unprepared... all of these things raced in my mind. So much so that I couldn't do any other work because I was waiting for the clock to turn to 3:05 and I could depart to the gym. The past few days my mind has been on hockey. Will I be able to manage it considering my ridiculous schedule and soccer outside of school, which is already difficult to coordinate. But I want to do it so bad. I've wanted to play hockey since I was ten years old and now they are INVITING me to play with them. Anyway, I went to practice and it was amazing. Obviously I'm not going to be a professional hockey player but there were other girls who were equally or less experienced than me, and I fit in perfectly. Unfortunately due to schedule complications and the fact that my indecisiveness to play hindered getting my name on the roster, I am not technically on the team. After talking to coaches though I am allowed to practice with the team and learn how to play. This is almost better than being on the team! I don't have to worry about playing time when I miss hockey to go to soccer. I don't have to coordinate rides so that I can go to half of hockey and half of soccer, I don't have to go to away games that are hours from campus and take away precious study time. Instead, I get a soft start introduction and get to play with the team. And for me, that's all I want. But can you tell, my mind has been in circles thinking about this. Why? It is a moment, a moment of my life that took ahold of me. The organizing and planning, so petty in a sense. It takes something to wake you up.

I wake up when I talk to friends. Before this year I don't really know what woke me up, but I notice this "waking up" a lot more now that I have such limited time to take a step back and think about the world in general. Talking to friends reminds me of the world outside of my bubble and that there are people in my life that are genuinely important to me. At school, I just haven't made those friendships yet, and I shouldn't be expected to, it's only been three months. Suddenly there is someone who has no clue what I'm talking about when I speak in terms of Chal Fit and JV Puck and opting during spring term. Because none of that matters in their world. And it makes my world feel small, but small in a good way because I'm noticing the fact that it is small.

I watched this movie today call The Skeleton Twins. I would recommend it, although it is an indie film, which is my favorite genre so I'm biased. It stars Bill Hader and Kristin Wigg, both phenomenal SNL alums. The film is not funny, just to get that straight. It just deals with so many moments in life when we are engrossed by our own small isolated situations that we forget about the world around us. It sounds terribly cliché but, again, let me put this into context. The film starts out with Bill Hader's character (Milo) trying to kill himself. He gets put in a hospital and his twin sister (Maggie, portrayed by Kristen Wigg) comes and visits him- this is their first time speaking in ten years. Milo moves back home with Maggie to "recover" a bit, but we quickly realize both of their lives are complicated morally. Maggie has a cheating compulsion despite having an extremely faithful, supportive, almost idealistic American husband and Milo revisits an old teacher of whom he was (debatably) molested by in high school- their relationship is complicated, saying if it was love or molestation is up to personal interpretation. At the end of the film Maggie attempts to commit suicide because her husband finds out that she was sleeping with other men and taking birth control while they were supposedly trying to get pregnant. The guilt of the moment invokes an extremely irrational decision. Nobody was there to wake her up. To show that her place in the world is not explicitly defined by these (relative to the world) minuscule actions, when in the moment it devours her to the point of fatalism.

Nothing woke Maggie up and instead of seeing her place in the world, she chose to eliminate it. Thankfully her brother, literally, came and saved her. But not all of us are that lucky.

I wake up. This film wakes me up. I think an easy conclusion to come to would be that things that make us "think" wake us up, but I would argue the exact opposite. Moments of involuntary exposure, a subconscious level of thinking. I don't have to do anything while watching a movie, but yet it still provokes my thoughts more than the hours of Shakespeare I analyze for a specified purpose or the Lewis Structure diagrams I use to supposedly explain the composition of the world. None of those things interest me, I'm doing them because I have to, they aren't thoughtful works, they are necessary works. Sitting down to watch a film, I have intention but not intensity. I'm not going to be tested over interpreting the meaning of the film correctly. Listening to Jimmy Fallon's monologues, I am not going to be graded on how well I analyze his effective rhetorical devices. No. I'm developing my own thoughts rather than trying to emulate someone else's. And now I'm out of the moment. My thoughts are not organized for a specific purpose, they are organized for me. For me to write down and remember forever. I have these thoughts on my own and they are unique, because I do not have any pressure of someone telling me they are wrong. There is no teacher that is going to yell at me for the poor grammatical structure of this blog post! Sometimes grammatical structure has no effect on content. Only sometimes. Good writers get away with it.

Stay woke. This is why I want to go into television. It makes me think and live, and love, and enjoy. I haven't had thoughts this personal and meaningful all term because I haven't had time to sit down and ask myself "what I think"- I only ask "what will others think." Television and film is only one of the many ways people get away from the moment. Books, radio, parks, the sun- a lot of things wake people up, but television is certainly my favorite. I refuse to be stuck, and I refuse to let others remain stuck. So with my love for life and the world we live in writing monologues for my pal Jimmy Fallon is how I want to wake the world up.

Damn, this could be some Meditation material right here. Oops, stuck in my bubble again... if you don't go to PEA (Phillips Exeter Academy) the term Meditation is probably meaningless. Apologies. Had to get these thoughts off my chest. And only hope to live by them; for now it's back to studying.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


The screen in my pocket is all I have left.

A text message here. A photograph here. I scroll, press, like, tag, listen, watch. But I'm not there. Your face is pixelated. Our conversations have vitality and meaning. Whether you're in Austin, Texas, Westerville, Ohio. Southlake or Columbus or D.C. We are connected, talking to each other in a space as if face to face. Yet hundreds or thousands of miles separate us. What am I losing? I am here. Not here,

I haven't written in so long. Far too long. I need to write more. Things get too confusing when I don't write them down.

I have almost completed my first term as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy. Just as everyone was curious about where I was going, they are now equally curious about where I've been. Exeter. That is all I have to say. I go to Exeter. I live in Exeter. I study at Exeter. My clothes say Exeter. The newspaper is called The Exonian. The bubble is small. It is overwhelming to have hardly any separation from school, no time to sit down and enjoy The Walking Dead or chill with friends. Work. Work. Work.

The reason I haven't written anything is because I cannot rationalize my writing. It is a selfish ambition. To write. Because it isn't bettering my academics. It's not making me a better musician. My abs are rotting away as I sit down to take the time to type these arbitrary symbols. But where else am I to put my thoughts. Exactly. That is why my mind starts to turn into pudding.

This week has been rough, because I can't focus. Seriously I'm worse than a kid with ADD and no adderall- was that politically incorrect, sorry. Six days until I go back to Columbus, maybe then my mind can turn off and relax, but right now I am swamped by essays to write, things to read, instruments to practice, sports to better myself in, and the expectation to manage it all expertly. I can't, I just can't. I'm not trying to complain, it isn't that I can't handle it, it's just that you cannot expect me to do it all perfectly. I'm sorry. When my newspaper article isn't as good as it should be because I only got 4 hours of sleep and have to keep going until all my work is done, which elicits another night with only 4 hours of sleep- do not get mad at me.

But you, the messages you send me. The notes of encouragement. The FaceTime chats. The SnapChats. The Instagram tags. I treasure them. That is what keeps me going, knowing that in six days those digital ones and zeros will not separate us and instead I can embrace your living body. Flesh, color, living.

I love school, I love it so much. But balance. Balance. Tonight I will go to soccer practice, come home after the dinning hall is closed, practice my instrument, order food, start homework, drink tea to stay awake, become delirious, somehow finish what is necessary, set an alarm for 5:30, wake up and continue to work.

So why do I not have time to write? Every second I sit here is a second I could be sleeping, restoring my body. Or working, in an attempt to be able to heal my body properly. My thoughts are scattered, I do not have time to cohesively write a post. So for now this is it. I'll try my best to do better. I think during break I will probably write a crud ton about what has been going on and thoughts in general, but while I'm at school there just isn't time.

Time, what an amazing construct.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Heart Aches for My State

So it is once again one of those times when a lot has happened since the last time we spoke. If you are looking for something interesting to read than this might not be it, right now I just need to get out everything that has happened over my first week of school at Phillips Exeter Academy.

The excitement, confusion, and anxiousness has pretty much been depleted. At this point I am officially back in the grind of school. I find myself staying up later every night and waking up earlier every morning. The workload is pretty insane compared to any other school on planet earth. Maybe I'm just a weenie, but when you have an hour+ of history reading every night, 50 minutes minimum of math, chemistry, English, Spanish, sports, music, and extracurriculars such as the newspaper, arts magazines, social service clubs, and then trying to enjoy life in general- you get the idea it's crazy. And I love it. But I also dislike it. I don't know. It's really hard because there are some facets of school that are just amazing and I think about how lucky I am to be at an amazing institution like Exeter but then there are moments when I see a picture of my best friends from home. I think about the moments we shared, driving around town, going to concerts, living life. And then I see my life here. I don't even have time to make friends because I'm always working. My friends are made by teachers forcing us to work on projects outside of the classroom, just another form of work or a forced friendship, I'm not sure which best describes it.

I see my friends worshipping the Lord together back home. Here I've found a church but it's small and quaint. Finding time with the Lord is a constant struggle. I barely have enough time to finish all of my homework how am I supposed to spend extra time with God? THAT IS A QUESTION THAT SHOULD NEVER BE ASKED, IF YOU ARE ASKING YOURSELF THIS, THEN SOMETHING IS WRONG. Sorry, I had to put that in caps lock because it is very important. But quiet time has been difficult.

It is just so conflicting being here. Some moments I'll say hi to a kid in one of my classes outside class, we realize we have a lot of commonalities, and start conversation. Those moments I cherish as a new student. I must make it clear that nobody has been remotely mean or discriminatory toward me in any way. The culture at Exeter is phenomenal. Introduce yourself with a handshake, always say it was nice to meet you or even possibly exchange information. Moments when I actually feel like a part of Exeter are when I love it. But too often I think about my life in Ohio and how so many aspects were better. Not better but just extremely different. Being able to leave my house without filling out Out of Town requests. Having a car. Having time on the weekends to relax and watch a movie instead of using every waking hour to study and catch up on school work for the week. Soccer. High school and club, man I miss it so so so so so so SOOOO much. Even music. I miss the Columbus Youth Symphonic Band. The only thing that is extremely "better" than where I previously was are the academics. I love class. But is that really worth flipping your life upside down for? Why am I asking these questions? How did they even get in my head? All I wanted for the past two years was to be here but now it is one of the hardest things I've done. No, I never thought it would be easy, but I'm surprised by the things that I miss. I never thought I would miss soccer or music back home because my expectation was that Exeter would be at such a higher level. But it's not. So I spend my days working. Working on everything I get my hands on, trying to put aside the fact that my friends are becoming farther and farther away with every agonizing second. I place myself inside another world. Isolated, using work as a distraction for desire. I'll survive and there is no way that I want to leave Exeter, do not construe this entry as a yearning to go home to Ohio, I'm just stating that, yes, I miss it. A hell of a lot.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Little Talks

Evening and night is an interesting time of day. It's when I get most of my ideas and have my most productive thought processes- if you haven't noticed, most of my posts occur later in the evening. Anyway, this thought made me think about my other thoughts I have during the day, which led to me thinking about how I portray myself to others versus what my thoughts think, and I came to a startling realization. I am a selfish, narcissistic conversationalist.

I spend hours thinking about the lives of others, yet when I start a conversation I am the last one to ask how they're doing. Or maybe it's not even that, it's just that my long winded answers overpower anything the other person has to say. I don't do this on purpose- it just happens. See, gosh dang it, that is exactly the thing a narcissist would say! I don't know, maybe it's my over articulate being but it sucks. I love listening to others but whenever I open my mouth IT NEVER SHUTS THE HECK UP! I mean, there are some circumstances where I am adequately reserved, but as soon as I feel the slightest bit comfortable in a situation, forget it, I loose my mind.

I've started noticing this a lot more lately and I think it predominately has to do with the fact that every single human being I come into contact with always asks me about school. "When are you leaving? Where is it, again? New Hampshire, really! That is exciting! Why are you going?" I've heard every one in the book. I guess that is what it feels like when you're going to college, but it is just extra hard because I'm only sixteen and what I'm doing is not "normal." So I end up talking about myself all freaking day. And then I leave the conversation feeling like crap because I talked the whole time and was totally being rude to the people around me. I guess I also really hate awkward silence so I just don't stop talking. I'M TURNING INTO MY PARENTS, GOSH DANG IT.

This is a rant of a blog post, but I think I just want to have a conversation where nobody talks about school and we enjoy the time we have. Whether it's sitting in silence or talking about cat poop, I don't care, just don't talk to me about Phillips Exeter Academy- I'll be there soon enough.

My best moments over the past couple weeks have been with the people that know me best, ignoring the fact that I'm leaving. We just do things like normal. And to those people in my life, thank you, I'm not sure you know how much you mean to me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

West Is Where the Gold Is

Out of the adventures of my summer, going to Colorado was by far my favorite part. It's not very common for a girl from Ohio to end up in summer camp hundreds of miles away, so let me explain how I got there.

Since I was going into first grade I have been going to a summer camp in Van, TX called Sky Ranch. This fact is not out of the ordinary, I used to live in Dallas and love sleep away camp. As I got older I continued going and even when I moved to Ohio I flew down to Texas to go to camp. This past year, my 10th year at camp, I was finally old enough to work at Sky Ranch as a lifeguard- hence my earlier posts about camp. The camp in Texas is for kids ages 6-16ish (they do it by grade not age, so ages can vary). Once you are an older camper at Sky Ranch they have what they call leadership camp which is for kids who want to go deeper in their relationship with Christ and be pushed further versus some of the other kids who are just learning about Christ for the first time. For kids in 6th-8th grade it's called Morph, for kids 9th-10th grade it's called Quest, and for kids 11th-12th grade it's called Sigma. Morph and Quest are still held at the camp in Texas, although that may change soon and the kids in Quest may also be in Colorado, but for the most part only Sigma gets to go to Colorado and camp is two weeks instead of the typical one week. Sigma is kind of a big deal at Sky Ranch; you have to be invited and it is the center of what Sky Ranch aims to do which is create well prepared and devoted Christians. We all meet at camp in Van and then take busses to Sky Ranch Ute Trail which is in Powderhorn, Colorado. From there the adventure begins.

I must say that even getting to go to Sigma was basically a miracle for me. Like I said, I worked in Texas at Sky Ranch for six weeks, and at the beginning of the summer I was still on a wait list to get into Sigma. There were so many kids that wanted to go and because I didn't preregister early enough, all the spots were full. So going was pretty much out of the question. Camp itself is really expensive, then I have to get a plane ticket, figure out a bunch of logistics, yada yada yada, and I was on the wait list so it just wasn't going to happen. On top of this earlier in the year like in March/April I applied to go to precollege at NYU. It would be a six week program that started right when I got back from lifeguarding. I applied and was accepted! My parents told me that if I got in I could go, and I had gotten in, so let's go! But then the harsh reality set in that during the whole process of applying to precollege I had gotten my acceptance letters to boarding school and with that we also received the financial aid decisions as well. I didn't receive any financial aid to the school that I wanted to go to, so paying another $7,000 for precollege wasn't looking too good. So they nixed that. But four weeks into working in Texas, I got off the waitlist for Sigma. Without questioning it or anything they signed me up. Even though I still went to the Journalism Conference (which was expensive and I wasn't going to go to if I went to precollege) they signed me up for camp, meaning, it all probably cost only a little less than what precollege was going to cost in the first place. Anyway, long story short, it was totally the Lord wanting me to be at Sigma. I know there will be people who read this and think I'm crazy, but I know my Lord and He wanted me to grow in a community of amazing Christians like there are at Sigma. So it all worked out, much better than could ever have been expected.

Sigma is a tight knit group of people, they take about 70 kids and we spend two weeks with each other, ensuring that everyone truly knows everyone. Some of the amazing things we got to do included kayaking in lakes surrounded by mountains, zip lining, climbing a mountain and spending the night on the top, and just getting to be in a really cool and different place. Aside from the fun activities that ensued, the main purpose of this is for us to grow closer in our relationship with Christ. Sigma is the cream of the crop as you could say when it comes to Sky Ranch. Most of us have gone to camp since we were really young and plan on staying involved in Sky Ranch by working there or at least being a strong advocate of its ministry. Being in Sigma our mission verse is 2 Timothy 2:4-6

"No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor's crown without competing by the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive his share of the crops."

From this we learn that we are soldiers, athletes, and famers of Christ. We do not become corrupted by the world and what those around us say, we persevere like soldiers to please only the Lord. We are not unlawful in the way we live life, abiding by the rules put forth around us like athletes. And we are hardworking like farmers, cultivating a crop of fellow Christians, and we will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

In Bible study we studied many more things than just this, but this is Sigma life verse you could say. Our daily Bible study was focused around learning the names of God, which at first could sound remedial to someone who goes to church and has been to a Christian school, but it was actually very interesting. We read a lot of scripture, there was never a moment where there wasn't scripture to confirm what our small group leader was teaching us, which was cool and also convicting because it isn't just some college student telling you these things, it is literally God screaming in your face with His word. Anyway, yeah, it was really great. I met so many amazing people and it was the perfect way to close the summer and leave Sky Ranch one last time before next year. As my usual blogging style goes, here are some pictures from camp. 

Made it to the TOP
At the top with my small group!
Hanging out at the lunch rest spot

5:00 A.M sunrise

Another moment at the top, during the sunrise

Our kayaking spot
A moment at the barn dance with my lifeguard coworker and amazing friend Victoria

Saturday, August 22, 2015


So, once again, it's been awhile.

This summer has been a marathon of eventfulness and every time I thought about writing it seemed more like a chore than something I get to do, which is by no means the mindset I want to have going into this. I feel like my blog is definitely more of a diary and the thought of having to dictionally recount my summer sounds insane because SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED. So to remedy this I'm just going to put a quick hit list out here so that on a later date I may go into more detail about these topics. That might not have made sense but it will eventually. Another side note, yes, I lazily gave up on recounting WJMC. It was a short four days turnaround between coming back from Boston and then going back to Texas- recounting WJMC for the world was not my main concern, I had a double ear infection and a sinus infection and needed to get better before the next summer event.

Emma's Summer Event "Hit List"

1. Working at Sky Ranch as a Lifeguard
2. Finally coming home from Texas- family reunion, adventures with Andrea in Chicago, and lots of soccer conditioning
3. Washington Journalism and Media Conference in Washington D.C. in association with George Mason University
4. Boston, and Seacoast United soccer "tryouts"
5. HOMEEEEEEEEE, for four days
6. Back in Texas (briefly) at Sky Ranch, then going to camp at Sky Ranch Ute Trail for Sigma (Christian leadership camp!) in Colorado
7. HOME FOR GOOD-ish (aka three weeks until school starts)
8. Crap tons of soccer, hours of saxophone, ACT practice, Mad Men, more soccer, occasional basketball, writing, reading, reading, reading... mentally preparing for school

So yeah, as of now there are two more weeks of getting to do whatever the heck I want until I actually leave good ole' Westerville and head out to Exeter. In these next two weeks I may elaborate on some of these summer adventures. No promises. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

WJMC Day 2

So I am kind of a fail at life. Blogging while at WJMC became an apparent struggle because of the lack of sleep. Any moment I had time to blog it was late at night and anything I wrote was not going to sound coherent or meaningful. In turn I decided to wait to blog and give a general synopsis of the week. Personally, my experience was documented in my student workbook so I do not feel a pressure to write down my experience so that I, personally, am able to remember what a remarkable week I had, but I will record it for reference and the select few that choose to read this diary of sorts. I understand that WJMC did not want us to write our blogs as if they are diaries, so I will try my best.

The Editor in Chief of National Geographic, Susan Goldberg, was our first speaker of the day giving insight into the world of National Geographic as well as the way a news company of their type is run. She put an extreme emphasis on the direction they are heading pertaining to social media, repeatedly enforcing that Nat Geo is the leading brand on the social media site Instagram. The specificity of Nat Geo's so called "Explorers" (the people who are hired to write and photograph stories) are unmatched in their field. There are photographers who explicitly photograph urban profiles or underwater mammals or aerial views. I was intrigued to learn how specific these Explorers are and that it is not at all random who is hired for each story. Nat Geo is mainly, if not all, produced (written and photographed) by free lance writers who come in to do a story here and there, allowing for much more specific and detailed articles. She also may or may not have given us the titles and topics for articles of the rest of 2015.

Tuesday afternoon was spent at the National Press Club where we heard from a politics panel of Jennifer Bendery (Huffington Post @jbendery) and Richard Wolf (USA Today @richardjwolf). Getting a closer look into the politics side of journalism was very informative. One of the most interesting things I took away from their panel is how the government and press interact. For example Congress will supply the press with information and conversation all day long where as the White House and Supreme Court will leak no information. Ever. It was also surprising to hear that all the stories we see in the news regarding big political decisions were all pre-written. What I mean by that is the reporters will write every possible verdict knowing that when the real one comes out they can add a few quotes and publish it within 20 seconds of the information being received. I did not know that was how it worked in today's age of technology, but I'm not really sure what else I expected. The point that was stressed the most was to continue to be curious. Always ask questions that you care about too. While, yes, there is a job at hand you are also doing this job because it is what matters to you, so don't be afraid to ask your own questions too. 

The last panel at the National Press Club was given by Sonya Ross (@sonyagal) who is the Race and Ethnicity Editor for the Associated Press. Her speech was extremely moving, giving me confidence in the ability to achieve one's passions and goals without coming from being given every opportunity to automatically succeed. The most moving part of her speech was her story of being with President Bush during the 9/11 attacks. I have heard all the stories, read the books, watched the films, but there is something different about hearing it face to face from a person who was right at the heart of it on the political side, physically WITH the president. It was heart wrenching and amazing. Her main tip of advice seems easy enough to follow: use common sense. She believes that there is an endless amount of information to be found if you navigate the world with common sense. 

The final panel of the day was a sports journalism panel. This was the least intriguing part of the day for me. I do not have an interest in sports journalism and tend to become annoyed by sports journalism as it is a game of facts and speculation. The questions asked were not very engaging although the high was to hear them discuss if college athletes should be paid. All of them said no and when I asked if they believed the NCAA should allow universities to give more scholarships to athletes. They, again, said no claiming that universities do not have any money to give more scholarships. I find this very hard to believe with the millions division I football teams bring in and the fact that tuition is outrageous. If they can't afford to give a few more kids more financial help for working extremely hard physically, then where is the money really going? That is my view anyway. 

So Tuesday was a long, interesting day. At first when I started this recap I thought I was going to summarize the whole thing in one post, but I quickly realized I could not do that. So I guess I'm going to write out a full post for each day. Hopefully this was a little informative!