thirty — milestones

If you’ve ever been a morning person, you know what comes with that territory: someone around you–sibling, parent, roommate, friend–will scowl at you as you come skipping down the hall for breakfast. I lived with the same people for the last three years of college and they will be the first to tell you that I am entirely too happy in the mornings.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. I really, really didn’t want to wake up today. I screwed my eyes shut and tried everything to get those last few minutes in before my alarm started sounding at me: I curled into a ball; I stretched my legs out straight; I sprawled across the entire bed and left no room for anything, not even the pillows.

Nothing doing. Continue reading

twenty-nine – a night at the theatre

I love many things about theatre.

The lights, the music, the camaraderie, the set design, the choreography, the props, the costuming, the audience–even the countless rehearsals and late nights, if I’m involved with a show’s production.

I also have a running mental list of moments I want to remember forever: climbing the holly tree with my brother when we lived in Virginia, belting Let it Go with my sister for no reason in particular, Meghan’s surprise when she found the cherry limeade I’d left her on our porch, helping Becky get her stuff to the car in the pouring rain, dinner with my parents before leaving for another summer in North Carolina, the taste of fresh strawberries in Galway, the awe that comes from staring at the Alps.

Theatre, though–there’s something about particular moments in theatre that resonate so completely with me, moments that make me understand how the Greeks used theatre so adeptly for catharsis. Of course, that’s not always the case, but sometimes–

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Sometimes, there are moments in theatre that make you feel utterly, impossibly alive.

Last year, I saw Les Miserables on stage about a month after I’d seen the movie. The story had completely inundated me. Let’s be real: a story whose central moving force is grace extended, grace accepted, grace transforming and who has a character death centered around the fact that he simply could not accept grace? I was sold from the get-go.

As much as I love the movie, though, the theatre production goes above and beyond what a film could ever do. In the production I saw, the final scene closed with these two set pieces sliding apart. The entire stage is swathed in darkness until the golden backlight fades in, silhouetting all of those who died as they move slowly through the fog towards Valjean, singing.

Chills. 

Also, tears. Pretty sure Emalyn and I sobbed our way through that finale.

Well, a few weeks ago, Basia and I joined some other friends and people from our building to see Phantom of the Opera when it was in Philly.

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Both of us have a deep and abiding love for this play, so we were pretty excited.

In the production we saw, the prologue concludes (as always) with the auction of Lot #666–the repaired chandelier, originally covered in canvas and hanging somewhere above rows J and K. As the auctioneer cued the spotlights towards it, the canvas was sucked into the chandelier and, as the lights sparked off of the set piece, it began to move.

You know the song. Basia and I practically wept our way through the rest of the play.

Some people, I realize, are not huge fans of theatre (my best friend among them). While I don’t completely understand that, I do understand what draws people in to theatre. Whether we’re working backstage, reciting lines, or watching from the audience, theatre is about contributing towards a story.

And there’s something about a good story–whatever the narrative and its form–that inherently captivates us, reminds us that there is purpose in life and that our lives can be part of the most magnificent story ever told, that everyone around us carries their own stories, too, and sometimes those of others–

that we can always be learning; that we are always works are always works in progress; and that we are always, always full of possibility.

You don’t have to love books or theatre to enjoy good story. You just have to be human.

twenty-eight – adventure is out there

When I left for Dublin at the end of last summer, I thought a lot about the idea of leaving and coming back. I spent hours imagining what adventures awaited me in Ireland. Everything became an adventure, whether I was walking on the Giant’s Causeway or walking across campus with my laundry in tow. Ordinary tasks became extraordinary ones because I was in Ireland.

My friends and I would often take a moment on our trips–Galway, Cashel, Dublin, Belfast, wherever we were–to pause, look at each other, smile really big, and just say, “Guys. We’re in Ireland.

This typically led to all of us grinning rather goofily and jumping up and down at least once or twice.

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Exhibit A: Lis’s THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING, WE ARE ACTUALLY HERE AND I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT face.

Anyway, going home has been, while relaxing… a bit dull. Not because I wasn’t standing next to Lis on the Cliffs of Moher, or because my letters are addressed with Forever stamps instead of International stamps–more because of the small things, I think. Laundry isn’t an annoying adventure that takes me across a 400 year old campus, trains don’t drop me at Howth for hiking and seafood chowder.  In short, ordinary tasks became ordinary again.

And that is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to spend spring break of my senior year on a road trip with the lovely Meryl. Other reasons included: Meryl is the best, road trips are awesome, and Ithaca is gorges.

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Hi, Meryl!

Yes, we did use that pun at least ten times a day while we were there. No, we did not get bored of it. We were still using it when we hit Michigan.

The decision to go on a road trip went something like this. Continue reading

twenty-seven – the brink of something big

I’ve written in the past that my mom is a firm believer in visiting the ocean. She taught me the beauty of salt water lapping at your feet and sand squishing between your toes.

More importantly, she taught me the importance of standing at the edge of infinity and remembering your smallness.

Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m standing on the edge of the ocean doing just that.

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I realize that might sound a little strange. After all, the view out of my window at the moment shows a rather snowy college campus in the fifth biggest city of the United States, not a bright and sunny beach with blue water and soft sand. A better way to phrase this would, perhaps, go along the lines of I feel like I’m standing on the edge of something big. 

Okay, sure, a lot of that is due to the fact that Basia & I officially started publishing an internet-based literary magazine today (The Next Post. It’s awesome. It’s pretty. It’s fun. I’m biased. Check it out anyway!).  Another, equally large chunk should be chalked up to thinking about the fact that in less than five months I will be a college graduate.

What?! Isn’t school supposed to take four years or something? That’s what I’d heard. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it only takes two. Wait, it has been four. Okay. Huh. How about that. Maybe my life was switched to hyperspeed while I was distracted by all of the beautiful Irish cliffs. Maybe this boils down to the phrase time flies.

Spoiler alert: it totally does.

Fly, that is.

Continue reading

twenty-six – three french hens

I have been staring at this little box for over an hour now. I woke up at 4:30 — yay jet lag! — and while my eyes aren’t bleary and heavy with sleeplessness at the moment, I know that will come back, too. Like I did.

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Yes, that sign does say “Welcome home, (girl) Connor! … yes, that is HER name!” Apparently I confuse people with that name of mine.

Well. As mother would say, I don’t appreciate being pigeonholed.

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twenty-five – city of love

Not the city of brotherly love (that one’s called home, and I’m not quite there yet) — and no, I’m not making some vague reference to falling in love or a whirlwind romance during my time in Dublin, as neither of those occurred (saving my falling in love with the city itself and my whirlwind romance with the pastries of Avoca and KC Peaches).

No, I mean it quite literally, presenting it as a title: Paris.

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… though, to be quite honest, I’d have to say that the City of Light seems more appropriate. I didn’t quite get the “City of Love” vibe (but perhaps this is because I speak no French other than mais oui, merci beaucoup, pardon, and bonjour).

City of Light, though — that’s a name I could get behind.

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…even if it is supposed to be due to the Age of Enlightenment and not electricity.

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twenty-four – all life is here, mrs. ainslie

Why would you not go out? There’s so much to see.

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Parnell Square East, Dublin, Ireland

I went to Italy this past weekend. Somehow, one of the biggest American holidays rolled around without me paying any attention to it: I turned around suddenly and the Black Friday e-mails had swamped my inbox, my mother was sending me pictures of one of my Thanksgiving favorites (squash rolls, for those of a curious nature), Hanna accompanied me to Thanksgiving dinner with some friends in Maynooth, and next thing I knew I was stepping off a plane in Italy.

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