Non-Writing Writer

I was inspired this morning as I walked to practice piano for an upcoming recital… this would have been great, had I been inspired to practice. Rather, I was inspired to set the opening of Wordsworth’s The Prelude to music. 

My roommate (bless her) stopped me just in time: “Ryanne, if you write a melody and add lyrics, you’ll also want to add harmony and piano. You don’t have time!” 

Valid. 

But I felt strongly the annoyance of being unable to create due to the pressures of my ordinary, required pursuits. 

So I wrote a little rhyme to vent: 

A non writing writer’s a monster they say:

A little too frazzled and nearly insane.

She lives in an enchanted, storybook world 

Yet can’t venture in, for life is a whirl.

One single word leads to many and two-

Well, they multiply to be more than a few. 

And should she dare to compose a small line 

She risks the danger of falling behind;

The everyday life has no cares for the muse,

Though the poet’s soul, she hardly did choose. 

So cursed with a mind that brews up ideas 

And a heart that ever ceaselessly feels,

She stumbles about with a businesslike stride 

And forces her little brainchildren to hide

And wait for a time when life will relax 

It’s grip made of boring and ord’nary tasks-

So she might finally write them all down,

These inkling ideas that, impatient, abound. 

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Dear High School Seniors… (an open letter from a graduate)

Dear High School Seniors, class of 2018,

I just had a weird dream. Maybe to you it will sound like a nightmare, though. I dreamt that I was back at my high school with a neatly-printed, seven-class schedule full of the AP classes and electives that I thought I had finally finished years ago. About to enter my third year of college, though, the dream was sort of comforting. It was so vivid. I saw my high school squad, my regular lunch table, my favorite teachers, the familiar hallways… And I knew that, at the end of the day, I would return home to my mom’s cooking, my brother and my dad shouting at sports on TV, my dog’s waggling tail…

Enjoy it.

That’s really my only reason for writing this letter, to tell you to enjoy every seemingly-eternal moment of your final year of high school. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now, thinking your senioritis is already bad and you’ll have no fun aside from prom this year.

You’re wrong.

I had senioritis like crazy; in fact, I think I caught it my sophomore year of high school. But that is no excuse for letting your senior year slide by without working hard and making memories.

Study hard. You’re going to hate it and pray for the end, but study hard. You’re teachers have likely already told you that college is worse, but you’ll find that college can be surprisingly manageable if you push yourself in high school. You don’t have to load yourself with AP classes like I did (I said “work hard” not “stress yourself out”) but show up, take notes, turn in every assignment, and prepare for tests in whatever classes you do take.

Connect with your teachers. Not only is this helpful for getting letters of recommendation/references for your resume, it can be fun! Strange as it sounds, with each graduating class, teachers get senioritis too. Laugh at it and enjoy getting to know your teachers as more than just lecturers with red pens. One of my favorites brought us peanut butter and bologna sandwiches, swearing she used to love them in college. They were terrible, but it was a fun memory and I’ll never forget that literature class.

Stay connected with your friends. I admit that most of my high school friends have become just Facebook friends. I still care for them and pray for them and love seeing what amazing things they are up to, but I have only a small circle of high school friends that I still talk to regularly. Hang onto your best friends for dear life, but don’t stop making new friends just because it’s almost the end. Three of my best friends I did not truly get to know until my senior year and two of them I barely spoke to until the last three months. Still, we ended up becoming a #Squad. 😉

Go to prom…or don’t. I didn’t want to go to prom and to be honest, I did not enjoy the dance. If a loud, sweaty room full of screaming peers appeals to you, go for it. But one of the best nights of my high school existence was eating ice cream and playing board games with my squad after spending only twenty minutes at the actual dance. Either way, make memories and be safe. I know, I sound like a mom, but I had to say it.

Keep volunteering. Sure, you’re leaving and probably wishing you could be up and gone already, but don’t stop giving back to your school and community. Volunteer for choir council, set up for events, go on outreach days, help at tutoring. Don’t just do it to fill up hours on your service record, do it to leave your school a better place. Love it or hate it, your high school has been your home now for almost four years; show it and its members some kindness.

As you count down the days until graduation, try not to just breeze by, zoning out and wishing the seconds would go faster. In three years, when you’re about to head back to your out-of-state college, you’ll find yourself (almost) missing the days when the farthest from home you had to drive was ten minutes to school, maybe fifteen if you went for snacks afterwards.

Maybe you read all the way to the end of this letter or maybe your senioritis kept you from skimming past the first paragraph. Better, maybe you’re saving brain power for essays. Either way, just know that this might end up being one of the best years of your life. I sincerely hope that it isn’t the best year, because there is a vast, exciting world out there beyond graduation. But, I promise that if you keep your head in the game (High School Musical becomes cool again in college…no lie), this year will zoom by and, before you know it, you’ll be walking off the football field with your diploma in hand and your future ahead of you.

Have an excellent year, class of 2018! Finish strong!

Sincerely (and a bit nostalgically),

A class of 2015 grad

 

Students Starve as College Cuts Pizza from Menu

Tens of students at a local college are suffering from varying degrees of starvation as the school dining service recently decided to cut pizza from its daily meal offerings. 

“I just don’t know what else to do,” sobbed one student, his stomach growling in agreement. “I mean, what am I supposed to do? I’ve been living off of French fries and this weird greenish stuff for the past week!”

Upon further investigation, it was found that the “weird greenish stuff” was kale from the cafeteria’s salad bar. 

“We are just trying to promote healthy eating,” explained the head chef. “We felt that contantly offering pizza was not encouraging a good -” 

At this point, the chef was abruptly cut off as a mob of hangry (a term meaning both hungry and angry) students tackled him, chanting “Pizza! Piece of pizza! Peace for pizza!”

Tackling the chef was not exactly “peace for pizza” but it was one example of the intense activism that is cropping up throughout the student body in light of what is being called “The Great Pizza Famine of 2017.”

“I don’t know, man,” said one student. “2016 was bad enough, so we had high hopes for this year…but this…this is too awful.”

Tweets by upset students such as “Make our cafeteria great again! Bring pizza back! 😖 #ThanksTrump” and “Give us this day our daily pizza!” are becoming a norm. 

Time will tell if the school dining coordinators will cave to the demands of their students. In the meantime, the number of students who have succumbed to starvation in the absence of their daily pizza is steadily rising. 

In the meantime, YOU can help! One concerned and wealthy community member has started a charity to ease the pain of the crisis! Simply text 555-555-PIZZA to donate 4.5 slices of pepperoni to hungry college students.

Family Mistakes SoCal University for Resort: Stays for a Week

Friday, February 24, 2017: A family of four awoke to the terrible realization that what they thought was a luxury resort was actually a university. 

Above: Kale McBirkenstock upon finding out she was at a school. “Take a pic of me looking studious so I can post it on Insta!”

“When we did not receive a wake up call for our yoga class, we knew something was wrong,” said Açai McBirkenstock, wife of Chase McBirkenstock and mother to daughters Kale (19) and Chia (21).

Upon further investigation, the family found that what they had taken for a concierge was- in fact- the resident advisor of the dormitory they had mistaken for an inn and suites. 

“How were we to know?” moaned young Chia. “After all, they had everything we wanted in a resort.” 

Miss McBirkenstock and her family perhaps had reason for their mistake. The school, in attempts to live up to their mission statement of “#AmenitiesNotAnxieties,” had all but done away with potential causes of discomfort and stress. 

“We wanted to create an atmosphere of ease,” said the school’s dean of admissions. “After all, that’s how it is in the real world and it is our duty as an educational institution to prepare our students for this world.” 

The school has taken active steps to promote their goal, as the McBirkenstocks discovered firsthand. 

“They had everything you could ever want in a resort,” sighed Açai. “Oil tastings, made-to-order food, hammock rentals, housekeeping…even our dog Princess was welcomed and treated like a queen!”

“Truly a wonderful place,” agreed Mr. McBirkenstock. “It’s really too bad it ended up being just another educational institution.” 

Although the McBirkenstocks had to cut their vacation short, students at the university are sure to continue to enjoying their stays and the administration promises to “never rest until their students can only rest.”

“Goodbye Home, I’m Going Home”

I hate packing, as I said about a million times today. And yes, it’s true that I loathe sorting through sweaters and deciding which jeans to take and DON’T get me started on trying to figure out how to carry all of my books. (I used two messenger bags and two backpacks and I’m still leaving behind so many favorites!) However, while packing is probably one of my least favorite things ever, it has two plus sides:

  1. It is a valid excuse to binge watch Netflix. I must have rewatched at least twenty episodes of The Office today.
  2. It provides a rare opportunity for reflection.

The second plus is much more intriguing than the first. Not only does packing make me evaluate what I really need, it causes me to reflect upon myself. Admittedly, though Michael Scott & Co. were getting up to shenanigans in the background, I was not paying them much attention. Rather, I was looking through my books, old journals, stuffed animals, decorations, etc. I was learning the meaning – no- the feeling of the word “bittersweet.”

I may be twenty years old, but I still had my dad come help me pick out a couple stuffed animals to come back to college with me. And, looking through them all, I remembered their names and the games I had played with them growing up.

Then I stumbled upon binders full of scribbled maps of the imaginary country I had made up for myself and my brother when we were children. All of our adventures seemed so real at the time and now, looking through the remnants of our creativity, it still seems incredibly real to me.

My journals of course are full of the major events in my life, but, more than that, show my personal evolution. My handwriting matured, the ink colors changed, and the topics I chose to write about shifted. Friends came in and out of my life and a few stuck around. I can look back on moments of fear and laugh.

I scanned over my walls and bookshelves next. I rested my eyes upon postcards from family vacations, paintings I used to be proud of, the glow-in-the-dark stars that still are stuck to my closet ceiling, the typewriter picture above my actual typewriter. And my bookshelves, two floor-t0-ceiling models that are my pride and joy…covered in books of all shapes and sizes, in front of which are tiny crystal pianos, a tiara, teacups, and a magic wand.

And then, as I continued packing, I realized I could hear my mom downstairs, making dinner, and my dad watching sports in the other room. My brother’s room was oddly silent since he went to camp for the weekend. My dog would bark periodically and my mom then shout at her to either “get off the table” or “drop it!”

Overall, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of home.

The memories made, the souvenirs collected, the family members who were always there, all of the people and things that have made me who I am… Surely this was home!

But then, not five minutes later, I remembered with a thrill of excitement that tomorrow I am driving back to college in California and was shocked to realize that my cozy dorm and roommate, my music friends,  a certain person whose smile I miss greatly, my favorite practice rooms, my little church with its stained-glass windows and adorable choir… All of these make Biola as much home as my house in Arizona.

It’s confusing, realizing that home can be divided between two places, and I have written my share of angsty poetry because of it. But it is comforting to think that one can both leave home and go home in the same one-way trip. As I said at the beginning of this ramble, it is a bittersweet experience; though the departure from either place is never easy, the homesickness for one is softened by the anticipation of arrival at the other, and both places are all the more dear for this.

 

My College Christmas List

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unless you’re in college. Still, though, Christmas serves as the light at the end of the dark tunnel of finals and juries. While the adult world is out shopping for gifts at the mall, we are on our laptops ordering them through Amazon during lectures. If you happen to be shopping for a college student and need ideas, I shall provide a few that are sure to be hits:

  1. Ask a college student what he/she wants for Christmas and they will answer with a laugh, “Sleep.” You cannot wrap sleep itself up in a box, but you can give your college student some new PJs, a pillow pet (they’re not just for kids!), a fuzzy blanket, etc.
  2. Mugs are the most versatile of dishes. For reals! We use them for oatmeal, soup, cereal, coffee, water, holding flowers, trapping spiders, catching water that drips mysteriously from the ceiling, decorating empty shelves, holding pencils. You name it! Plus, doing dishes is a chore we often neglect, so the more mugs we have the better.
  3. Coffee gift cards. Food gift cards. Amazon gift cards. Straight up cash. We burn through funds faster than America. I am pretty sure I am singlehandedly allowing Starbucks to expand their empire. Not the most exciting gift, but certainly useful.
  4. School supplies. Sure, we started the year with loaded backpacks, but at this point we are lucky to find a spare pencil on the ground somewhere just in time for our last final. Journals, pens, tape, staples, all are acceptable gifts. (Especially for education majors!)
  5. Clothes, especially comfy ones, are in demand. Laundry is the literal worst in college; we have to deal with finicky laundry cards, broken machines, and lugging three weeks of dirty clothes down to the basement. The more clothes we have, the longer we can go without washing them. Plus, the freshmen fifteen (and sophomore sixteen?) is real and yoga pants and sweatshirts are a blessing.
  6. Textbooks. I get low key excited when I receive books for Christmas. Granted, my books are not really textbooks (#ThanksTorreyHonorsInstitute), but getting them as gifts saves me having to purchase 20 books at once. Plus, nothing beats the smell of new books.
  7. Anything fuzzy is sure to be a winner. During stressful times, I revert to acting like a five-year-old, meaning that I literally buried myself in a pile of teddy bears at the store. No joke. But something about coziness and fluffiness is so wonderfully comforting, even to a somewhat adult such as myself.
  8. Headbands and beanies and other headwear are amazing because they can save up to a half an hour of time spent on hair care! Seriously, I can get up at 7:50 and  make it to my 8am class because of the magic of throwing on a headband to hide messy hair.

 

Well, I wrote this post in a final effort to procrastinate studying for my music history final, so I should probably end it here. Hope these help! 🙂

“So you want to be a piano-ist?” and Other Responses to my Major

“What’s your major?” seems to be the question of the month and I am seriously considering giving false answers if (scratch that, when) I am asked this again because it is getting a little old. As a music major with an emphasis in piano performance, though, I have heard some terribly amusing responses to my answer to this frequent question…

Schroeder is my spirit animal. He was also a sass-master. 

The Top 8 Best (or perhaps worst) Responses to Learning my Major

1. “Oh, so you must be pretty good at piano then, huh?” 

Um…. How am I supposed to answer this? I either will sound arrogant or awkwardly lacking in confidence.

2. “Wait, a music major? They have that here?” 

Yes. Yes they do. But you won’t generally see the music majors as we tend to lurk about in caves called practice rooms.

3. “Piano performance? So have you played piano before?” 

Nope. Never. I just thought I’d give it a shot. (*voice drips with sarcasm as thirteen years of lessons flash though my mind*)

4. “Can you play ‘Fur Elise’?”  (Or worse: “Do you know ‘Heart and Soul?'”)

Yep. I smile, but inside my face looks like one of those unamused emojis. Actually I had a teacher who forbid me to play ‘Heart and Soul’ on his piano because he found it insulting. (Admittedly I kind of enjoy it…but don’t tell anyone or I’ll never escape the round of C-A-F-G octaves.)

5. “Piano? I used to play piano! But then I quite because I hated it.”

Thanks for sharing…I think? I’m never sure how to respond to this one.

6. “So do you want to be a piano-ist?” 

No, I want to be a pianist, but for the sake of conversation, sure. Actually, I would love to be a collaborative piano-ist, which is basically an “accom-piano-ist”. (*smiles politely but inwardly cringing at the incorrect terms*)

7. “Have you heard of (insert pop song featuring some keyboard riffs)? I love that song!” 

No, I probably have not heard of it, but if you hum the tune I can play the same four-chord progression over and over so that it sounds like I know it. Is that close enough for you?

8. “You’re a piano major? Well, you’ll survive- maybe not with a soul, but you’ll probably survive.”

This one was from a senior piano major actually. Much encouragement. Very daunting. Many thanks.

*disclaimer: high levels of sass went into the drafting of this post and the author would like it to be known that she does not actually mind the “amusing” responses to her major. She also would like to inform readers that no communications or business majors were harmed or seriously offended in the making of this post.