I Don’t Feel Better

20B67BF1-9E93-48BC-8C84-347B8CD348FFDo you ever have one of those thoughts– You know, the irrational kind that you know is irrational, and yet you prescribe to it as though it is a provable truth? Maybe you have (you probably have) and lately, those seem to be most of the thoughts circulating in my brain.

The thing is they’re less “thoughts” and more “thinly veiled truths” (read: lies). I say thinly veiled truths because sometimes the action the thought produces works, so it feels true. Listening and obeying doesn’t work for long. That works for moments– Sometimes the most fleeting moments, sometimes for day and months. But, surely as every time before, it fades. The thought from before fades, transforming almost magically and instantly into another:

I’ll feel better if I have a better job. I’ll feel better once I start making better grades. I’ll feel better once I lose weight. I’ll feel better when I have new clothes. I’ll feel better when I change my hair up a little. I’ll feel better if I treat myself to something expensive I want. I’ll feel better if I eat this donut (I promise I will). I’ll feel better if I take a vacation. I’ll feel better if I’m in a relationship. I’ll feel better if I use this face mask. I’ll feel better if I have more money. I’ll feel better if I have a newer car. I’ll feel better if I… I’ll just feel better, okay?

Typing that out, seeing it in front of me, feels so empty, shallow, and bare of any depth. Yet, these thoughts come (and often, they do not go) feeling so heavy and real that I chase them. I listen to them like they’re direct commands… Pushing me, urging me to a “better state of being”. As if using a face mask, having a boyfriend, or losing ten pounds is the key that’s been holding me back from the full potential of my life.

They aren’t.

Sometimes, I don’t really even need to feel that much better. I’ve spoken those lies to myself when I have been in great places in my life. But discontentment rattles me and I think that there must be a “better” that I can feel. I reach for it, strive for it, and obtain whatever the goal is nearly every single time.

But I never feel better. I haven’t felt better once.

The thing is, I know what the answer is… You know what the answer is. I hear it, I tell it to myself and I fight it because it’s too hard. It can’t be right. Feeling better is infinitely easier when you seek to do it by buying another pair of shoes, eating another donut, or even getting a newer iPhone than it is to obtain what I know the answer is.

“There is a God-shaped hole in the human heart that only God can fill.”

That’s so much harder.

I wish that I could pontificate on this subject and suggest that in any small way I have cracked this way of thinking so that it no longer entraps me. I haven’t.

It hurts to have failed like that. I haven’t. I have chased so many earthly things, and I never felt better. What’s worse is, I’ll probably chase again knowing full well that I won’t feel better.

Perhaps there isn’t a hard and fast point to be writing this: I have nothing to teach anyone reading this and so very little wisdom to bestow. But the magic of writing and putting something out there is that hope that somebody, somewhere feels the same way too so that you aren’t alone. And maybe, ironically, I’m hoping to make myself feel better about this failing of my heart that I have by writing this.

But I won’t feel better. I won’t feel better until I understand, wholly, that God belongs in the slot where I’m trying to put all of my earthly goals. And that– Well, that… Will actually make me feel better.

To be honest, even recognizing it feels just a little better than before, anyway.

 

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Redeeming The Time

There’s no way for me to know if any of you have ever struggled with mental health– But if you have, or even if you haven’t, this one’s for you.

Two years ago I found myself slipping into a depression, deeper and deeper with each day that passed by. I had someone tell me recently that they couldn’t even imagine me in the state that I am about to describe myself as having been in, but it’s true. There were days at a time that would go by where I wouldn’t get out of bed except for to go get something to eat (sometimes not even that). Text messages and emails all went unanswered, no matter their level of importance. Usually, I would find TV show after TV show to immerse myself in to distract myself, and days at a time would slip by before I noticed. And I tried, I really did, to meet social engagements, even though after a certain point there weren’t any (no doubt due to how much I had isolated myself). Again I tried, I really did, to not have my family or long-distance-friends catch on to what was happening (they did).

I was trapped in this black hole of time and energy, with no way out that I could see. Eventually it happened, I did get out, but for such a long time… There I was. Stuck in time, even though time was moving like a roaring train toward me and past me.

I find myself here, two years later, in a life that is so overwhelmingly busy: I’m a full-time student who runs a small business, with a job I love plus a side-hustle or two, friends and family who keep me loved and entertained.  I long for one day that I could stay in bed, much less the days at a time I used to spend there. It is because of this that it has dawned on me (read: gnawed away at me) that I feel like I am wasting just as much time as I did then. “How is that even possible?” You may be asking me, if you’ve read this far.

I excuse myself, frequently, from how I need to be praying more. Reading the Word more. Doing more in the Kingdom. Encouraging and serving others more. To be fully and brutally honest– I excuse myself from how I just need to be doing right more. I excuse myself, over and over, because at least I’m not still in that place, right? I’m not missing worship because I don’t want to get out of bed, I’m not losing my faith because I have faith in nothing. I’m busy! I’m productive! I’m out here doing all of this!

I have realized that I have let myself be a sub-par Christian because I have excused my life in the light of overcoming struggles. 

Let me just say, if you are in a place where you are struggling like I have, I realize everything positive is a small victory. I am in no way diminishing your effort or struggle. I can only speak for myself in reference to my own life.

Time sneaks up on you. I find myself writing this on the last day of September, which is nothing but overwhelming and scary because there’s only three months of this year left, Lord willing. That really hurls me into thinking: How many more months of my life are left, much less months in this year?

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

What is the will of the Lord? Thankfully, the Lord had plans for me to be in the good head-space in my life where I find myself now. I am glad for that– I praise Him for that.

Yet, I find myself fairly positive that the Lord does not will for me to spend every day like a whirlwind, caught up in earthly things. I cannot become wise through being busy and a productive member of society: I can only become wise if I dwell in Him.

In the time that I would say I have been “doing better”, I don’t think that I have been very wise. I’ve made so many really awful mistakes. I certainly realize that God forgives me for those… But how many could have been avoided if I was redeeming my time? Not spending my time in busyness, but redeeming it for Him instead of myself.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

God had required that I love Him and serve Him. God has required that I love people. God has required that I do His will.

God doesn’t require me to be busy. God never even required me not to struggle in my life.  He only required those things. He required that I redeem my time.

“Remember how short my time is!” Psalm 89:47

Are You Better Off?

If you know me well, you already know my emotional dirty-little-secret is this: I am far too sensitive and arguably, over sentimental. It is because of that fact that I find myself taking stock of my life as a whole quite often, to the point where sometimes I have to stop myself from reminiscing or examining too much so that I don’t drive myself crazy. However, lately, that taking stock of my life and recalling past events has been a hard thing not to do because nearly everybody in America has been doing that for the last several weeks– Particularly so during the last 48 hours.

Over the last week I’ve been thinking frequently about the season 5 finale of Parks and Recreation in which Leslie Knope addresses the city of Pawnee and says:

“I’m here today to ask you one question: Are you better off now than you were a year ago?”

For the life of me I can’t figure out the exact moment when I started thinking about that exact moment, but it’s been playing over and over in my brain: Anna, are you better off now than you were a year ago?

In thinking about this, I finally googled the quote so I could remember exactly what episode it came from. To my surprise, I realized that Leslie Knope was paying homage to President Reagan because she didn’t come up with that question, he did.

In 1980 during a the last presidential debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, during closing remarks soon-to-be-President Reagan asked the nation this:

“Ask yourself, ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’ Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?”

I’m not here today to talk about politics because there’s too much of that out there today (literally actually today because we’ve barely been post election for more than 36 hours). But, if what I have to say today gives you a little perspective about it, then I will be very glad.

Am I better off today than I was a year ago? Am I better off today than I was four years ago? Four years ago I was 18 years old, so it would be relatively easy for me to just say ‘Yes’ because obviously I am not a teenager anymore, making me older and wiser to at least some degree than I was four years ago. But, better off? What exactly makes a person better off?

Four years ago I was 18 and in my first semester of college. I weighed about 25 pounds less. My Gramma was still with us… A lot of people were still with us. Four years ago I didn’t have any student loans. I was driving a 99 Ford Taurus; but, I also didn’t have the car payment I have now. I could still fit into my high school jeans four years ago. I lived at home and had never left. I was barely one month out of a relationship. I didn’t know how to fill in my eyebrows. I didn’t have an iPhone four years ago. I had enough expendable cash that I got my nails done every two weeks.

Four years ago. Am I better off?  It’s hard to tell on paper, I have to be honest. The pros and cons are pretty even.

So what really makes a person better off? How do you measure success within your life? The things that came to mind that I listed all leave me coming up empty. Does me having an iPhone now when I didn’t four years ago make me better? Does the fact that I had more money four years ago and can’t get my nails done every two weeks make me worse off now?

Four years ago I hadn’t endured all the hard times that have come my way during the last four years (and there have been a lot of them, believe me). These hard times have turned me into a kinder, softer, and more understanding person; at least, I hope they have. I feel like they have. I hadn’t been let down by all the people and situations that have left me brokenhearted over the last four years, either. I hadn’t yet fully experienced grief. I hadn’t yet fully experienced love.

I realize that both of the questions posed above were presented by politicians, one fictional and one non. In that way, it makes the question even more valuable. Can anything a politician does change whether you are better off as a person? As a soul? I don’t believe anything they do can. Only you can do that. Only what God has meant for you in your life can change you by how you choose to let it.

“…the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:7

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

I’ve been tested by fire during the last four years and I am certain that over the next four I will be tested more. I hesitate to say that I have come forth as gold, because my faith still proves weak at moments along with my love toward others, my compassion, and my selflessness. I hesitate to say that four years from now after enduring more trials that I will come forth as gold, either. But I pray I will try because that is all that I can do.

Four years from now when all of America comes together again to fight and divide over who the next President is at that time, I resolve to ask myself this question once more. Am I better off than I was four years ago? Did anything about who the President was for those four years stop me from doing that? Did I treat each person that came in and out of my life like Jesus would have over those four years?

So, am I better off than I was four years ago? I think so, yes. I feel certain you are, too.

If you yourself are uncertain of this fact, I have good news. If you have endured even one trial and have come out on the other end positively: You are better off. If even one person treated you unjustly or unkindly and you did not return their evil for evil: You are better off. If you have given love selflessly to a partner, a friend, family member, or even a stranger: You are better off. If you have given control of a situation over to God and let Him take care of it: You are better off. If you have sought to forgive instead of holding a grudge: You are better off. If you have ignored a nasty Facebook post or tweet instead of responding in retaliation this election season: You are better off. 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

It can be exhausting at times to do good, I know. At points over the next four years I’m sure it will be even more so: But do not give up. Please don’t give up.

You will be better off for it.

He Is Faithful.

The day my parents left me in the upstairs bedroom of a duplex I had only seen in pictures before I signed a lease, I legitimately believe I experienced my first panic attack. I was 19 and terrified, pacing around the room with tears uncontrollably coming from my eyes, saying to myself “What am I doing?” I truly had no clue.

I was a sophomore in college, freshly mended after heartbreak, and really just trying to start over in a town where I knew few people. I thought that college was going to be college in the movies– Happy, fun, carefree, and full of totally awesome and easy self-discovery.

If you are anywhere in your college career and you think that that is what’s going to happen: Stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

There have been dozens if not reaching into hundreds of times I have sat and said to myself, “What am I doing?” And I have absolutely had no clue.

In the moments I was forced to deal with ugly parts of myself that I thought weren’t even there, I wondered. In the moments when I was dealing with grief and loss that I couldn’t quite shake, I wondered. In the moments when I was so happy and completely ignoring all the warning signs of trouble ahead, I wondered.

They say that college is a time of discovery. I discovered many things: The freshman 15 is real, all of your friends are not real, and you will get a ticket at least once doing down 280. More than all of those small, largely insignificant discoveries I learned this– God is faithful.

People say “God is faithful” a lot and I think that most of the time they’re saying it to convince themselves that it’s true when they’re going through a trial. I say this because I’ve done it. I’ve said “God is faithful” to myself when I haven’t believed it at all so that I could at least try to feel better for a few minutes. At some point during my time here, I started saying it to myself and believing it because I could see it so clearly all around me. God’s faithfulness has flowed through and consumed every part of my life.

In three days, I will go to bed in my room at my parent’s house because I will have left Auburn for the last time (except for visits, but you get it.) Deciding to leave the first place I ever fell in love with wasn’t easy, but when you pray to God and He answers you so profoundly with what you need to do that you can’t even make an argument against it, it became such an easy decision. He is good and He has answered every prayer.

There were times in Auburn where I thought that I couldn’t emotionally survive. I have been through more in my three years here than I had ever been through previously in my whole life. I see now that this is because I started to grow up here– Life started moving quickly, without mercy, and hasn’t slowed down since.

I am more brave now than I was as a 19 year old pacing around my room wondering what I was doing. I am a 22 year old who still has almost no idea; but, I am a 22 year old who has found God’s faithfulness in a place I never expected it.

I found it in the most beautiful place and with the most beautiful people. I found it in Auburn and I’ll carry it all the way home with me.

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

 

 

 

 

When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough

I was raised in a Christian home. I was provided every advantage to be a model Christian. I was taught all the books of the Bible, periods of Bible history, judges, kings, plagues, prophets, steps to salvation, etc. I was taught not to use the Lord’s name in vain, not to swear, not to gossip, not to lie. I was taught to sing, pray, take notes in services, take the Lord’s Supper every week.

Let me tell you something: It is really, really (I’ll say it one more time), really easy to rest on those things. It’s easy to say that I was saved through baptism for the remission of my sins, that I go to church every week, and pray every day in defense of myself. It starts like that… But it doesn’t end like that. It turns into saying that I was saved through baptism, I tried my best to make it to church, and that I prayed yesterday maybe? Maybe the day before that?

Making excuses turns into making exceptions for God. Making excuses turns into thinking that somehow God is ignorant of our sins and that He only sees my “good”, because that’s what I remind myself of to feel better.

I find myself wondering if when Jesus was hanging on the cross, when He was beaten, when a crown of thorns was placed on His head, or when He was praying for us in the garden sweating tears as blood… If in any of those moments Jesus ever imagined me being any less than completely consumed with doing His will and making excuses for why I’m not.

Why am I not? I was afforded every opportunity to be good.

I was afforded every opportunity to be good– I wasn’t ever given an opportunity to be consumed.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

By definition, consumed means “to do away with completely” or “to waste or burn away.” The Hebrew writer is saying that I need to be completely done away with, burned away, and all of who I am needs to be replaced with God.

That’s not just being good. That’s being consumed.

Nobody could teach me consumption. My parents, preachers, Bible class teachers, and elders couldn’t reach into my heart and soul, manually remove my will, and replace it with God’s. Only I can do that.

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened — burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know.I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly”Psalm 40:6-10

God doesn’t want anything but for me but to desire to do His will in my heart. When His will is in my  heart, when I am consumed, I won’t seal my lips: I will proclaim His faithfulness to anyone who will listen. I will tell everyone what He has done for me.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Colossians 2:6-7

God sent His only Son to die for me. He sees me sin day after day and doesn’t love me one little bit less. No matter how many excuses I make and how many days I spend convincing myself I’m “good”, God is never far away from me. He is only as far away as I have put Him– All I have to do is walk back.

I cannot over-flow, I cannot be consumed, I cannot be more than good if I keep walking a few feet away from God while I rest on my excuses.

Being good isn’t good enough: I am called to be consumed.

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Were I To Be Actually Amish

I was never a sporty-girl. I wanted to be. I wanted to wear sporty pony tails and track pants and tennis shoes to school in a context where I didn’t look like a dweeb. I realize now that my reason for wanting to be a sporty-girl is completely wrapped up in fashion choices, which is the reason that I wasn’t a sporty-girl to begin with. Instead, I wore lots of butterfly clips and once in second grade made my mom buy me red pleather pants from Limited Too. Additionally, the two times I did attempt sports were failures. The experiences are as follows:

  1. One time I played softball when I was 5 and only played/drew in the dirt on the field.
  2. When I played basketball when I was in 6th grade, I had no idea what I was doing and flailed for the ball a lot. This resulted in me creating what my dad would call “The Swim Move” wherein you flail for the ball as if you are swimming on land. 0/10, do not recommend. Not effective whatsoever.

During this time of being non-sporty, I went in another direction. I morphed into a quirky-girl. I read a lot, wore vintage sweaters and loafers in middle school, was really obsessed with cupcakes (which became ironic later when I discovered in college I am allergic to gluten. Not helping my case, I realize), was super into KONY 2012, wore band t-shirts and cardigans, wrote poetry in my high school planner, and made my mom take pictures of me that I would later edit. It was all just a whole thing. Anna Emo

In preparation for this post, I decided to see what the internet has to say about being quirky. This led me to a gold mine of an article on WikiHow called “How to Be Quirky: 14 Steps (with pictures)” Should you be deeply interested in how to be quirky yourself, give it a look. You will find advice such as, “So don’t let them get you down and definitely don’t change yourself for them – a conforming quirky person is like being half alive.”

Hollywood has smiled upon me in recent years and the quirky girl has become “cool” and “charming.” I say Hollywood smiled upon me, but it was really Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown (ironically one of my favorite movies in middle school), who created the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. Girls who are well-read and wistful, always wearing hats and drinking fair-trade coffee. Quirky has become a market– Anthropolgie is a great example of this; a store where you can buy the same sort of sweater you could buy at Goodwill, but with the added bonus of it costing 1 months rent.

Without getting too philosophical, the fact of the matter is that these days, nobody is really different. Being quirky is the new normal, and so I am not going to list my quirks in an attempt to convince you that I am special. I started this post to write about a few of my quirks, but then I realized: I think I would only truly be different and special were I to be actually Amish, sewing all of my own clothes and making all of my own soaps. The hang-up there would be that I would not be able to be writing this post unless I were to be Breaking Amish and then I would have a show on TLC, making myself too cool to write anything for any of you anyway (or possibly you would be too cool for me, because that is an endlessly embarrassing show.)

I will simply say this: Once, my senior year of high school, I wrote a post on Facebook about how I was going to follow my destiny and open a cupcake shop. These days I write blogs on the internet because I am convinced that it is my destiny to be a writer and make people laugh. I still cannot play sports. I am not sure whether all of my quirks now make me quirky, or if I am just like every girl in the world that thinks her sweaters and adoration of folk music makes her quirky. But, it doesn’t really matter anyway, because Zooey Deschanel has out-quirked us all, no matter how many cute measuring cups I buy.

My Brother, The Dog

I’m a really good person.

I start this story by disclosing that because I know that by the time you finish reading this, you will think I am an absolutely degenerate psychopath. That is your right. But, I’m a really good person and I just need you to remember that.

I had a dog when I was really little, somewhere between 3 and 5. I don’t remember specifics and I also do not remember what happened to him (her?), so clearly I was very attached. I do remember that by the time I was about 7, I really wanted a dog again. You see, at this particular juncture, I was plagued with the massive misfortune of only having a baby brother. A baby brother cannot play fetch, you cannot pet him or walk him, he will not sit and stay on command. I was bummed about this. What was I supposed to do with a brother when all I really wanted was a dog (a question I still ask myself. Just kidding, he reads this. I love you.)?

Genius struck me. He was small. He was agile. He could play fetch with me. I could pet him and walk him! He would sit and stay on command!

I made my brother my dog.

I know this sounds awful, and you’re probably right. In my dwindling defense, I was a super weird kid. To prove my case, this is the conversation I just had with my brother about this experience:

“Can I write about when we were kids and I pretended like you were my dog?”

“Go for it.”

“What was your name? Do you remember this?”

“Larry?”

“No. That was your name when we were pretending to be immigrants.”

My brother was my dog (this will be the last time I say that phrase, because every time I type it I become further consumed with guilt.) We played like this for a good amount of time, until finally my parents caught onto the fact that they should probably get us an actual dog or else he would probably have come to college with me as my loyal Labrador.

My first night with Feather. Power Puff Girls forever, btw.

My first night with Feather. Power Puff Girls forever, btw.

They did. She was a tiny, black toy-poodle that my brother aptly named Feather due to the fact that her fur felt like feathers. Fun fact: She was purchased at a flea market that is now a seasonal haunted house. A delayed prophecy, I am now sure.

My dogspectations were shattered with Feather. She wouldn’t let you hold her, she did no tricks, she was bad on a leash, and was altogether really shady to everyone she ever met. She would stand in my room in one spot watching me get ready, always looking at me like “You’re going out in that?” But in the end, because of her quirks, she was the best dog I could’ve ever asked for. She died spring break of my sophomore year of college, at the old age of 12. I miss her every day, for she was the dog version of me.

My brother does not play catch with me anymore, nor does he roll-over when I ask him to. He is no longer my dog, but he is just as loyal and is indeed my best friend. I still pet his hair sometimes, but that’s not really the point.

Patti’s 1880’s Settlement

The drive from Athens, Alabama to Rolling Meadows, Illinois (according to Google Maps) is 9 hours and 5 minutes long. I am here to tell you that this particular drive can take anywhere from 8-14 hours, depending on various factors.

  1. Is my mother with us?
  2. Is my mother the one driving?

Sorry, mom. It’s true and I can’t pretend it isn’t.

My mother and father are true Chicagoland suburbanites who moved to North Alabama when I was about 3 years old. Long and tedious trips like this probably sound like misery to most of you; but, the truth is that most of my favorite memories come from these trips. Full disclosure: I am now quietly crying as I write this at a restaurant on campus because I decided to listen to soft-rock (the soundtrack to these trips) and I am a sap. Should you, too, want to set the mood for this story, I recommend listening to Bread, Air Supply, and Barry Manilow’s #1 hits.

In the summer of 2014, my family made one of these trips under different circumstances than usual. My Gramma Foropoulos, who I miss tremendously every day, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2013. I got the chance to see her three times post-disgnosis– for the last time, on this trip. I firmly denied that it would be the last time I would get to see her (in my heart I knew it was true.) Heading back to Alabama with this on our hearts did not make for a particularly “fun” or “exciting” trip. For me, there was a lot of staring out the window, a lot of reminiscing, and a lot of trying not to cry.

At a certain point, you begin to memorize the bends in the road, the rest stops, and the road signs. There was one sign, though, that caught our attention every time.

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Patti’s 1880’s Settlement. Year after year, we passed this sign and discussed it. Year after year, we never stopped.

Alright, I need to change up my music. This soft rock is bumming me out.

(I am now listening to “Hazy Indie Summer.” Let’s go.)

Anyway. We passed this sign for the better part of my life and at this point, I am 20 years old. This means I’ve had upwards of 10 years to imagine just what on Earth Patti’s 1880’s Settlement actually is and I’ve had this conversation with my parents ~10 times:

“Let’s stop  at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement!”

“No.”

“C’mon! Don’t you want to know what’s there?”

“No.”

But, joke was on my parents because at this point they really do want to know what’s at Patti’s 1880’s Settlement. Naturally, on this trip I suggest again that we should stop because in actuality we might never get to stop again and we might as well find out what’s there, right?

My dad decides to take the exit. We all get really hype, for two reasons: 1) We’ve been imagining this for years and 2) This is about what we all imagined:

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I don’t remember the exact conversation in the car on the 2-point-something mile drive from the exit to the “settlement” (I will also begin to put “settlement” in “sarcastic quotation marks”), but I imagine it was something like this chanted in unison by my brother and I:

“Dad! You are the best dad in the world! I am overjoyed you are taking us to experience this historical recreation!”

“Mom! You are the best mom in the world! I am so glad you are supportive of our curiosity!”

Just in case I haven’t stressed this point enough: This trip to Patti’s 1880’s Settlement was upwards of 10 years in the making. My family is actually really excited to see a recreation of an 1880’s “settlement.”

Have you ever bit into a cookie thinking it was chocolate chip only to find it was oatmeal raisin? Have you ever gone to get trendy highlights only to come out looking like a zebra? Have you ever attempted to watch a movie everybody loooooves only to realize it’s a total snooze-fest (I’m looking at you, Lord of the Rings)?

We arrive at the equivalent of all of these feelings rolled into one.

I cannot find a picture of Patti’s 1880’s “Settlement” because it is predominately known for it’s restaurant with 2-inch pork chops and lemon-meringue pie, and pictures of those two things are the only pictures I can find. But I will tell you this: Patti’s 1880’s “Settlement” was not a tiny village of log-cabins with people in historical garb tooling about. It was a row of gift shops, one log cabin, and a restaurant.

We left.

 I can safely say that I have seldom to never been so egregiously disappointed by something in my life. I knew for sure that what lay behind that exit sign was the cutest, most magical historical village you ever did see. It was not. It was a bunch of gift shops and a restaurant wherein lied 2 inch pork chops.

I will now take this opportunity to form an anecdote: Sometimes in life you build up something so much that and when you finally achieve or receive it, you realize it was not all that you cracked it up to be. With this in mind, I find it best now to have no expectations and to take life as it comes; otherwise, you may have a Patti’s 1880’s “Settlement” situation on your hands.

The good news is that my family is used to things like this (please keep reading my blog, you’ll see) and we thought it was hysterical. It was a good memory, as all the roadtrips to Rolling Meadows and back were in some way or another, no matter what the circumstances were.

The Dixie Chicks version of “Landslide” just came on and so I need to stop writing before I start crying again. Thanks for reading and remember to never stop at Exit 31 in Kentucky, unless you want a 2-inch thick pork chop and disappointment.

Each Morning I Drink a Cold-Pressed Juice

There’s a pretty (read: 100%) likely chance that if you are reading this, you know me. I hope that with some progress that stat will drop to 40%, but I would also settle for a realistic 95%.

In the event that you do not actually know me personally and are not a friend or family member reading this out of forced obligation/pity, allow me to introduce myself:

My name is Anna Jean Selsvik. I live in a third story walk-up in a very trendy part of NYC. I exclusively wear oversized sweaters and my hair up in perfect ballerina buns. I only shop at my corner bodega and local health food store. Each morning I drink a cold-pressed juice, a handful of berries, and three egg whites. I eat this perfectly balanced breakfast while checking my emails (all very important) and writing poetry wistfully as I listen to “Indie Coffee Shop” on Pandora. I spend my days cataloging my very important thoughts in cute notebooks, perfecting my eyebrow game, and rescuing stray animals. I do all of this wearing the aforementioned oversized sweaters, cute skirts, and loafers. I also stay perfectly hydrated and get 9 hours of sleep every night, because I am a very well organized over-achiever.

Again, if you do not know me, this is who I am. I should mention that all of that was a very large lie, excluding perfecting my eyebrow game; and, while I will disclose the truth, if you want to believe you are reading the musings of a much “cooler” and ideal 20 something, stop reading now. The truth is as follows:

My name is Anna Jean Selsvik. I am a senior (it’s complicated) at Auburn University, where I live with two roommates. I also spend time living at my friend’s houses for fun, because I have very generous, wonderful and loving friends that I am blessed to have surrounding me here. I dress 70% like I’m homeless, 20% like a fashion blogger, 4% like I’m in a black and white movie, 6% like a true southern college girl (the 6% and 20% are essentially the same thing, although in one I am wearing make-up and the other I am not. I will let you decide.) I survive on gluten-free products and seasonal coffee drinks. Most of the time I like to think I have a “cool” “trendy” taste in music, but a circa 2012 One Direction song just came on shuffle so that’s probably a lie I tell myself. I am a Christian, which is the most important part of my life; while most parts of my life are a joking matter, this is not, and I will occasionally spend time talking about that here.

I decided to start up a blog because I realized that I spend too much time telling my friends long-winded stories about my life. This brings me a great deal of joy, but I thought I could give them the courtesy of choosing to scroll past these stories as well.

I am generally irresponsible in a quirky, charming sort of way (probably also another lie I tell myself) and lots of unfortunate, strange things happen to me. These are my stories.