Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 19 - Maggie P

It was my sophomore year, and I was a director of Central Spirit, in the webpage position. For whatever silly reason, I had volunteered to go and sit at a swim meet and take the sign in sheet for our members so that we knew who attended that day, and who gained points for going. As boring as the swim meets were, had it not been for this swim meet, I never would have met Maggie.

As she walked in the aquatic center, she awkwardly looked around searching for fellow Central Spirit-ers and a person to sign in with. I noticed her and waved her over, though it's possible that she sat by herself by awhile before realizing I was there. Eventually, we met, and she of course got her credit for going to the meet.

The time from when we were mere acquaintances to good friends is virtually nonexistent in my head; it's like I've known Maggie for ages. We must have gotten along well really fast! We hung out at balloons, had some meals together, and that same year were already pretty good friends.

Then we started going to church together, along with Emily and Nick, and of course went to go get brunch afterwards. Who could forget the delicious Oreo pudding!? (even though they slacked on it pretty hard last year) Maggie is one of those people you can always count on to put you in a great mood. Her face lights up when she sees you and I don't think I've ever seen her upset, only happy and bright and smiley. What a great way to be, we could all learn from her and just be a little bit more positive in life.

Maggie is so thoughtful and caring, and even sent me a graduation card that was handmade. It made my day, and means the world to me that she did that without me saying anything, without me sending any letter first, nothing. Just completely of her own accord.

I am so thankful to have met such a wonderful positive addition to my life. I really think I was sort of steered to become friends with her by some sort of spiritual force, because of all the similarities we share. If you ever come across a bubbly and cheerful (and sometimes silly and crazy) girl in your travels, hold on to them because they'll most definitely enrich your life!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 18 - Haley N, Greg S, Nick K, Katy L, Brandon B

Though they are all grouped together each of these people have affected me in college, and each have some fun little anecdotes for me to share.

I first met Haley at a midnight breakfast. Basically this is usually around or during finals week, and the dining halls open at midnight and go until 2am or something like that, serving breakfast-y items like pancakes and the like. Maggie also happened to be at this event, which was where my roommates and I got the invite from. At the time we didn't know Haley but got introduced. However, Haley must have had something she really needed to attend to, because she kept telling Maggie "We gotta go!" From that point on she was known as 'We-gotta-go-girl' (a name she didn't take too kindly to, but still laughed with us about). Since she spent a lot of time with Maggie we got to know her as well and I must say she is an extremely kind and genuine person. You'll always have a good time with Haley.

Greg was one of my roommates for a semester junior year, the semester after I was in Barcelona. We didn't know each other at all upon moving in, but as it turned out he was in the grad program from architecture and really was an all-around friendly guy. He had some great wisdom, gained over the years and really was close in his faith and I had many life talks with him. I admire him very much, respect him endlessly, and hope that he is finding success and joy in the architectural work he has undertaken in Charleston, SC (I think...). He deserves the absolute best. I'll never forget walking in to see him lounging on the couch, watching repeated episodes of Frasier (his favorite show). A movie fanatic, Greg saw pretty much every movie when it came out in theaters, and even though it's just watching movies it was cool to see someone engulf themselves in a hobby with such fervor. I'm sure that he's doing amazing things, and maybe someday we'll get to work together.

I met Nick through a t-shirt sale I did of a kid in our year who became somewhat of a local celebrity. After convincing the kid to let me put out a t-shirt with his face on it to raise money for Haiti, Nick and I met while I was selling and he would often plop down next to me to keep me company, whether I was waiting for money or waiting for people to pick up their shirts. The time together became known as gingerpaloozing, and it happened often. He helped me out a lot, letting me do laundry at his apartment where it was free, spotting me for meals when needed. We used to run together and ran the Cooper River Bridge Run together also. I'll never forget, though, the night the two of us decided we were going to just get drunk even if there was no party to go to. We bought Four Loko which was already a bad idea, but we did anyway, and that night I bowled a 299 on Wii Bowling while sitting on the floor drunk!

I met Katy through Nick, as they were both in Tiger Band together. The occasion was actually breakfast for dinner, and Katy was cooking pancakes on the griddle. As such, she became instantly known as Mom, and still to this day is in my phone as "Mom" (which is such an honor, really, because even my actual mom is not named "mom" in my phone). Over the years we didn't get together too much but we'd always make it a point to say hello, and she'd have these goofy mannerisms that you couldn't help but smile at. She was always happy to say hi, and give you a big hug, as good moms should. We now continue our shenanigans via Twitter, and though she's working at Subway now, she's going to make it big one day, I just know it.

Finally, Brandon B, aka Bags. I initially met Bags early on in my college career through playing volleyball, but never really knew him too well. As it turns out, we had a mutual friend that was a good friend of both of ours, and we all ended up eating lunch together senior year. Though Bags is extremely athletic, he is far from the typical douchebag jock. Never have a seen a guy so aware of the language he uses, nor with the modesty and humility that he exudes every day. He is so into his faith and religion and always remember to thank people and thank God for the life he lives everyday. Him and I got into the routine of shooting hoops before I lifted at the gym with Kendall, and that time was really good for me. Not only did it warm me up, but we also got to chat and he would never make fun of how terrible I am at basketball. Bags is in the Air Force and has another year at school, but I know he'll be flying high (pun intended) upon graduation. I'm so proud of him, and his parents should be incredibly proud of the fine young man they have raised. I'll be praying for you when you're up there protecting our skies buddy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 17 - Maddie "Mazzie" Z

I actually only just met Mazzie this year but already I consider one of my closest friends from college. Our meeting place was actually from Central Spirit, a club that I was a part of until my final semester at Clemson. The club regularly does T-shirt sales to help raise money for our organization in addition to promoting athletic events at Clemson.

The way we get people to work the sale is basically just an online sign up sheet, and each member is required to do an hour or two over the semester. It just so happened that Mazzie was signed up for the same hour that I was that day, and so we both showed up at the required time to "pay our dues" so to speak for the organization. I usually try to talk to the people I work with, if only to make the time go a bit quicker but in this case we got on well and chatted a good bit. She had given me her email that day in order to make some change because she wasn't getting the emails from the listserv for the group, and later that day I emailed her asking about getting lunch some time.

The rest is history. We ate a good number more meals together, and hung out at the Central Spirit events. One interesting thing was that she got involved with a sorority and still hung out with Central Spirit. It is not often that this happens, a, because of the type of people that are in spirit groups, and b, because Greek chapter meetings are often on Sunday nights, the same day of the week as Central Spirit meetings. She did manage to balance both, and that is certainly admirable.

Though she just finished freshman year and I just finished Clemson in general, she'll definitely be missed. The one year we did have together enriched my life and opened the door to some great times, whether it be lunch, study time in the library or at my house (where I tried to play mom and get her to study her chemistry), time out on the boat, or a companion to go to church with. Believe me when I say her man has got himself a lucky catch.

One last bit before I sign off on this one -- during that first email conversation we had about lunch, she said some really amazing things about me. And I treasure those to this day. It's the kind of thing that you really save and hold on to, because when the going gets tough, and it most certainly will, you can look back at those amazing things people said to you and about you and it makes your day a hell of a lot better. Her and I always watch each others' backs, and are always there for each other in a tight spot. I have no doubt we'll keep in touch!

Recognition Series: pt. 16 - Kendall R

Kendall was another guy I became real close with over my years at Clemson. Though Kendall had been in a few of my classes before sophomore year, my second year English class was where I first got to know him. Before then he had always been that long-haired-always-wears-a-backwards-hat-and-looks-kinda-asian-skater kid. In fact I sat next to him in that English class specifically because I knew he was in the architecture major, but that was the only reason.

Over that semester, Kendall and I would often compete in that class, and he would always manage to literally get 1 point higher than I did on everything. In fairness, he is an absolutely brilliant kid who works incredibly hard, and fully deserves the perfect 4.0 GPA he achieved for his four undergraduate years (super impressive).

Later that year we took the same statistics class and began lifting together, at which point we began to make goofy names for kids at both at the gym and in our stat class. Among them were Mystique, Complaining Girl, Ginger Kid, Ripped Asian, Aslan, and others. Everything was always a big joke and it was great to bring some laughter and humor into life during the long nights of architecture.

One thing I always admired about Kendall was his seeming ability to manage his time perfectly. Keep in mind this kid had a perfect GPA throughout college. Yet almost always got a good night's sleep, was involved in religious groups, went downtown with friends, played intramural frisbee, lounged at Y-beach, took trips hiking or back home to Greenville, and came on bike rides with us. It's just insane. I'll have to try to model his dedication in grad school or I may not survive...

Kendall also was in the group that I went to Barcelona with, and provided a lot of entertainment there. He made good friends there from both Texas AM (another group we went with) and some of the local kids there. Kendall is another one I'll miss for sure, if only for someone to motivate me to get to the gym (though that's far from the only reason).

Though Kendall also applied to UC Denver and UOregon like me for grad school (and got in both places) he decided to go to Clemson to earn his master's in architecture. He'll do great things I'm sure, and is now on his second summer working for a firm, so I'm really happy for him. Keep an eye out in the papers for this guy, because he'll be doing great things in the future.

Recognition Series: pt. 15 - Ryan N

I first met Ryan freshman year, in Arch 101. At that time, my year was huge and as such we split up into little groups that six different TA's sort of taught. We all did the same assignments, but reviewed in these small groups and they actually had a good bit of freedom when it came to what we did and some of the exercises to help prepare us for the mini projects along the way. I'll never forget striking up a conversation with Ryan one of the very first days, simply because of his last name (withheld for privacy).

We ended up getting together to work on one of our first little projects together, which was honestly a joke compared to what we have to produce now (it was a simple six-sided cube out of chipboard). No one really had the right materials or tools at that time, and I remember distinctly using a kitchen cutting board to cut my stuff as we sat at Ryan's mini ping pong table that was in his apartment at the time.

Over the years Ryan and I became really close friends, and we were in the same studio section with the exception of only 3 semesters, those being second semester Freshman year, second semester Junior year, and second semester Senior year. He was the guy I roomed with in Barcelona, the guy I lived with upon returning to Clemson, and the one who inspired me to get a road bike.

Despite his exponentially better skill on the bike (he rides professionally) he was always inviting me out to rides, encouraging me to stick with it, waiting for me at the tops of hills, and slowing down the pace when I was getting worn out. It's because of him that I am so in love with going through life on two wheels, and because of him that I am the cyclist that I am today. He's really the reason I bought a road bike in the first place.

Rides with just the two of us were the best. We'd cruise around, and while on occasion we would work real hard, most days we'd ride at a semi-leisurely pace (14-18mph) and talk about life. He was one of those people who really clicked with the same sorts of virtues and values and morals that I have, and because of that we could often share similar sentiments regarding relationships, religion and the like.

Ryan would always include me in whatever he was doing, whether it was going out to eat (and even if I didn't go he'd offer to pick up something for me if I needed it), going to see a movie, coming over for a movie, or going downtown for a drink.

Looking back on college I have become so accustomed to having Ryan around that I think it will actually be difficult over the next two years. I really hope that we don't lose touch. He was and is probably one of if not my very best friend from college. I will always look up to him and I completely see him as a role model in my life, whether that is from Clemson or from across the country. Honestly he was the perfect friend for me to link up with while down at school. Ryan will be entering the packaging science graduate program at Clemson, deviating from the field of architecture. I wish him the very best in pursuing something that he truly loves.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 14 - Tish W

After putting together a T-shirt with a friend's face on it (he was a bit of a local celebrity, and we actually sold around 100 shirts, with all profits going to Haiti after the big earthquake), I met a girl named Angelica, who was also an avid volleyballer. Between meeting her and having another friend Michael who was very into volleyball, I somehow ended up playing in a sorority volleyball tournament. Now, mind you, I am definitely not one of the kids on the Greek scene, it's not my thing and never has been. Plus, as much as I'm down to get in a speedo for the beach, pastel plaid shorts with 4 inch inseams just seems absurd...

Anyways, during the volleyball game, Angelica had also invited one of her friends, Tish, who went to another university in the area. I was immediately taken with this girl, and couldn't stop sneaking glances in her direction; she was gorgeous. We added each other on Facebook (this was freshman year, back when I had a Facebook) but never really talked too much. Back then I was a lot more shy and I guess I figured I'd never really have a chance to see her again after the tournament.

By the end of freshman year I had made up my mind that I was going to delete my Facebook for good. However, wanting to keep up with the connections I had made there, I posted several statuses saying that I was going to be leaving the Facebook world, and that if you wanted my phone number or email or whatever else, to just let me know. It was then that Tish messaged me asking for those very things! To be perfectly honest I was shocked -- and also thrilled. Here was this gorgeous girl and she wanted to be able to get in touch with me!?

Long story short, we got to talking and decided to hang out. Unfortunately, the timing was bad and the first time we really got together was the night before I was going to leave to go home for the summer. But, we had a great time and took a really long walk around campus just chatting and talking. As we got back to my apartment and I was getting ready to say bye for the night, we exchanged a long hug, and at that moment I knew I wanted to kiss her. And yet I chickened out and didn't.

Over the course of that night and the next morning I begged her to stop by in the morning to say one last goodbye before I left. She may not have known it, but I had told myself that I refused to leave SC without giving her a proper goodbye. When she came by we talked a little, and when my parents texted me saying they were close, we said goodbye again and I just went for it. I'm so glad I did.

Over that summer, despite the distance we emailed each other all the time talking about our lives, and filling out these little surveys of questions we created for each other to get to know one another. I will treasure these emails for the rest of my life, and I'm sure I probably found out a lot of new things about myself too. She was smart, sweet, into church, and athletic and I couldn't really ask for more.

When I came back down to SC she came the day I moved in to welcome me back, and went to lunch with my parents. My parents seemed to like her and my dad even remarked to me much later down the line that she was truly a great girl. We eventually made things official (I wrote her a big long poem; I like to try to be creative), but unfortunately for some reason things only lasted for a few weeks. I was really disappointed, seeing as how I thought we really kicked off an amazing start, bonding so much emotionally over the summer.

As time passed, we didn't talk much, but we did every once in awhile and while we don't talk now I'd have no problem chatting with her and seeing how life is on her end at all. I know she had a lot of interesting ideas about the direction in which to take her life and had some really great aspirations about things she wanted to achieve. She was and I'm sure still is a great girl who deserves the best, and though I may never see her again, I hope that life deals her some good cards.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 13 - Brindley F

I met Brindley through my buddy Michael who I often played volleyball with. If I remember correctly we were out on Bowman, peppering with a volleyball and she joined in. The details are extremely fuzzy, but I remember that we grew pretty close and I definitely considered us good friends. Brindley is probably the coolest girl you could ever meet. She longboarded, played guitar, was into her church, loved her family endlessly and could hang out with all the guys even if she was the only girl.

During freshman year I seem to remember going on "adventures" as she would call them, doing silly things like climbing trees to see if we could see into the President's yard, or touch these flags that someone had tied to the top of the tree as if it was Mt. Everest or something. Every minute spent with her was something new and exciting; every adventure was different from the last.

Being a graphic comm major she often came and worked with us while we were in studio sophomore year. After all, that year we pretty much never left. The best moment I had with her was during one of these times. Sophomore year the grad students built this structure in the courtyard of Lee Hall that was designed to be a stage of some sort. It was awesome, which several levels and a little balcony thing on top. It's not like you could fold this thing up and put it away, so basically I'd go up there and just look at the stars. Brindley joined me one night and we talked about life, gazing up at the stars with a black and mild in hand. Man did I relish that experience. It's very seldom that I find someone who is that easy to talk to.

The adventures continued, and Brindley even organized a "prom" (sort of as a joke, but sort of serious, even) and we got 12 or so people to get all decked out, take goofy pictures, and then go into the dining hall in our suits and dresses. As I said, always a new adventure.

I'm not sure what happened after the year I met here, because we really seemed to lose touch. If I'm being honest I kind of always had a thing for her, but it just never seemed like it would work and she was always taken by someone else (lucky them haha). She got into some modeling (and the result was incredible) and eventually joined a sorority, but I have a feeling regardless of those types of things that might make air go to a person's head, that she remained the same awesome, independent Brindley as before.

I've missed her company dearly, but I wish her all the best in the future, and maybe one day if the Fates have it in them, our paths will cross again.

Recognition Series: pt. 12 - Kelsey U

I got to know Kelsey through volleyball, as with many others. She is a year behind me, and thus will be graduating next year. Kelsey was actually one of the few I knew that went to Catholic mass. There were always lots of college-aged kids there, I guess I just didn't know too many of them. Kelsey is probably the sweetest, most adorable, friendly, selfless and kind person on the planet. The only time I've ever seen her upset is the split second when she tells me she's taking an exam, and then just as soon as the sentence is over she's back to smiling again! Always the positive person, Kelsey is enthusiastic and makes you feel like the greatest person in the world.

Any time spent with Kelsey was always worth it -- study time in the library, church together, volleyball, or even just seeing her at the gym in the mornings when I was walking in. I never told her this but I learned so much just by experiencing her good character and fantastic personality all the time. She is the whole package! I'll miss seeing that smile all the time, but I'm hoping that, as with others we can correspond via mail or something like that.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Recognition Series: pt 11. - Walter I, Chris B, Joe M, Dave L

This is a little bit different, as all three of the people above are teachers, not students. Walter I was my first semester English 103 professor. Though I exempted this course through my score from the English AP test, I opted to take it anyway, and I'm so glad that I did. We did some interesting studies of music videos and even ended up creating a video about cell phones for our final group project. Walter was one who loved setting a class dynamic and really making the course more about discussion than assignments and essays. Sure, we still had homework that focused on various parts of the art of language, but most of the time in class, we were discussing. He was very young, from Chile, and I believe that this was his first time teaching this particular course. I'd recommend him to anyone in any year.

Chris B was my English teacher the following year, though this course was required. It was much more focused around epic poems, short stories and the like. But in terms of writing, I became so much more inspired and really enjoyed writing the essays for his class. If I remember correctly, this class was a lot of the reason why I really wanted to start a blog. I felt so mentally challenged and the comments he would write on my papers were so flattering. He was one of those professors that was very easy going and understanding, really knew his stuff and really was engaged in what he was teaching. Again, he enjoyed discussion much more than assignments. I could actually totally see him as a writer...

Joe M taught my very first semester of studio (which was the second half of freshman year). Only a PhD student, it was the first time Joe had every taught a studio. Given that we were freshmen and didn't know what to expect, Joe had us do some really unorthodox, or rather atypical, things that ranged from watching movies in class to reading long articles that really made no sense to us at the time. Coming out of that class, we all loved him. He gave us the reins to our projects, he challenged us to do things on our own and only ask for help when help was needed, and he was encouraging, positive, and knowledgeable. He even let me use a brand new program that I barely had any idea how to work. But he helped me along and got me resources and everything worked out. While other studios slaved on drawings and things like that, I think we really embraced the full essence of architecture that semester. I don't know if Joe taught again after our class, but he was amazing.

The final teacher is Dave L. Dave was well known as the hardest professor for sophomore year. A couple friends and I decided we wanted a challenge. We pulled more all nighters than any other studio, moved at ridiculous speeds, learned new computer programs and were just pushed, day in and day out, for the entire semester. It could not have been more difficult, since we had him sophomore year, first semester. This was the first time studio was truly studio, and not just the fun "arts and crafts" version of freshman year.

Despite all the work and seemingly unreachable deadlines, about 2/3 of us decided to take him again for the second semester of the year. Dave is the reason I use Rhino for all my projects, he is the reason why I'll put getting my project done over all other things if need be, and he even was a cyclist, and took our studio to Greenville to go on a trail ride. I think that all the hard work brought the people in that section together, and I actually have a lot of really good friends from that studio. It was clearly how it was meant to begin!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 10 - Grace Wa.

Since we're on the subject of Grace's, I figured why not talk about the other one?

This Grace was in my major, and for several years I was actually in the same studio as well. We even had the very first studio ever together, second semester in freshman year. We didn't really talk for this entire semester, and I suppose that you could say that we didn't really meet until the next year, sophomore year. We spent the entirety of that year in one of the toughest studio sections offered (if not the toughest).

In many ways, the difficulty, the long nights spent in studio, the endless projects and assignments bonded everyone together. The fact that Grace sat right across from me really helped our friendship become what it is, and I'm really glad it did.

Grace was always one to keep spirits lively in studio. She would goof around, tell jokes, laugh and smile. It's always great to have those people around, especially in studio. There are many times when you just don't think you can go on. You freak yourself out thinking about the long laundry list of things you have to do. And you begin to panic when you wonder if what you need to get done may not be finished.

But what you need to do is to remember to take breaks, get meals together, and keep a smile on as you keep your head up. Grace was never one to forget that. And while it's always hard, and studio always is a struggle, together we all got through it.

For her study abroad program, Grace went to Italy, the opposite semester that I had gone to Spain. Unfortunately that meant that we had lost a bit of the connection, but I think we rekindled it when she came back, at least somewhat. One of the times I'll never forget with Grace was at the end of sophomore year. I was feeling nostalgic, and it was one of the last few nights I would be on campus before I left for Jersey. That night we both went out and took a long walk around campus, talking about life, having one of those great heart to hearts that we all dream about. I'll never forget that night.

Recognition Series: pt. 9 - Grace Wi.

So I know two Grace W's, which is why included the second letter of the last name.

I met Grace during my sophomore year. Remember those volleyball games we had late into the night from last night's post? Well that's how I met Grace. Among the many who would oft show up to play, Grace was one of the regulars.

For some reason it's really easy to meet new people and quickly become friends when you play sports with them. You are constantly slapping hands, pulling for your teammates, and of course fit in some playful banter in between it all. I met a lot of good people playing volleyball, and a good number of them even ended up becoming good friends of mine. Needless to say, Grace was one of those people!

As the years passed, and the volleyball waned, I didn't see Grace as much but every time I did it was nothing but smiles. I have never met a more optimistic, cheerful and down to earth person. She always seemed as though she just could not begin to contain her joy! People like that are such a help in the tight spots (and really, well, in all the spots!). They pick you up, turn your frown upside down, and always make you feel loved and appreciated!

Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to spend as much time with Grace as I had wanted. Being in different majors with totally different focuses, our schedules rarely aligned. And yet the few times we did manage to fit in meant a lot, and I hope that in the coming years we still have the opportunity to call each other once in awhile, send some letters, and in general just remain friends! Whatever happens, I am so glad Grace was in my life. She taught me to be positive, stay optimistic, and remember that no matter how bad it may seem, life is good.

Recognition Series: pt. 8 - Michael C

Oddly enough, I have no idea how I met Michael. I know that it was through volleyball, but I have no idea how we started playing together. This was another friend of freshman year. Living on campus meant that all the people around were very accessible and there was a lot of opportunity for social interaction and events like volleyball games and hangouts. Even though I lived on the other side of campus as all the other people that played, I would regularly trek over there to play for 4 or 5 hours at a time.

I had started becoming interested in volleyball my senior year of high school, playing beach volleyball with a lot of the guys on the school varsity team, after I was cut from my final year of baseball. Volleyball, just like ultimate, is a really popular sport among college kids. It's fun, promotes competition, and of course gets you a good tan with all the time you spend outside.

Michael and I grew quite close, and as it turned out he was also from NJ. Despite his completely different major to mine, we still saw each other almost every day, whether from volleyball or meals or something of the like. Summer after freshman year, I actually drove up and stayed at his house for a weekend, and we played volleyball, watched movies, hung out with some of his friends and more. I really enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sophomore year, we still played a ton of volleyball, and ended up playing with huge crowds indoors. So many people would come that we could have three or four full teams -- and still have to rotate people in. It was almost too many people!! Regardless I preferred that than not playing at all. We would always go to Fike (the gym on campus) around 8pm on Wednesday, and it was not unusual for all of us to stay there until midnight when the gym closed.

However, over the years, either people lost interest, or got caught up in schoolwork, or moved off campus so they were less available. Between my study abroad and the amount of schoolwork I had, I didn't play much volleyball anymore, and I miss it. But I'll never forget the guy who really took my "like" of the sport and turned it into a "love."

Michael (or Chick as we called him) and his family moved down to North Carolina, and as far as I know he's got a job now working in Charlotte. Crazy to think that a lot of people are starting the real world now, and I'm still working a summer job because I'm going to graduate school.

Anyway, hope you're enjoying the series thus far. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 7 - Peter C

I first met Peter in a freshman year English class. If I remember correctly, the initial reason that we started talking was the huge tattooed cross on his shin. We started talking about tattoos, worked together on a few little class projects, had similar tastes in graphic expression (which we found out through one of the projects), and both had a great interest in music.

Peter, though initially from New York, had family in South Carolina and basically lived down there full time. He did have a well-established band from home, but they hadn't really wanted to continue stuff since he was moving so far away. I've listen to some of their music, and it sounds really professional -- well produced and everything. They even had a music video made for one of their songs (Just search for The Reserve - Ignite on Vimeo and you should find it). The band sounds a lot like Angels and Airwaves and I think that a lot of their music was actually influenced by this.

Regardless, Peter and I got to talking about getting involved in some music-making together. This kid was the real deal -- producing connections, recording experience, full professional tracks etc. He told me that if we got something together and it started taking off, he wanted to drop everything and work on the music. Tour, create an album etc. And not just tour in the region, I'm talking full tour in US and even in Europe. Now, I don't know if he really had THAT many connections... but regardless it was pretty mind-blowing.

As the year went on, we both sort of settled into our respective majors and areas of study, and of course we no longer had class together after the first semester. This was a really weird feeling, to have a whole bunch of people in your classes and then just have them drop off the face of the Earth after four or five months due to class changes.

A few years later, as I was finishing up my junior year, I happened to run into Peter again, after we had lost touch for almost two years. As it turned out, he lived pretty much just below me in the same building in my apartment complex. I don't think he ever really got a serious music project together that gained the attention he wanted. But I'm telling you, the kid is talented; and music is truly his passion. I'm too practical and logical to try to give up all my studies to shoot for the stars with music -- but I really hope it works out for him. And in fact, it did inspire to really start working harder on making my own music.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 6 - Josh V

At the end of freshman year, myself and two other guys had decided we were going to live together the following year. However, campus doesn't have three-person apartments, and so we needed a fourth. One of the guys' friends turned out to also be looking for a place to live, and had lived on that one friend's hall already. I only had the chance to meet him once before we all moved in sophomore year, and so I was curious to see how that turned out.

Yet here I am, and today I'd consider Josh one of my best friends from college. Him and I would often go out on our porch sophomore year (which was actually more of a bridge between two buildings), sit on the ground and just drink with a cigar in hand and talk about life for hours. Starting at night and lasting often far into the wee hours of the morning, we affectionately dubbed the time "Life Talks with Josh." At the time I had been struggling with relationship stuff, and I think that's how the talks all started.

Pretty cool to think that the person who I started off knowing the least probably turned out to be the person I knew the most by the end of the year. I also lived with Josh this past year at the lake house, and will never forget the little Joshisms that make Josh, Josh. These include but are not limited to "Dude man, fuck.", an obsession with trail mix, saying he was going to bed soon and playing Call of Duty until 5am, and other goofy things.

Josh actually came home with me for a spring break one time during sophomore year, and that was pretty cool. We did stuff like eat at Jersey diners, visit New York City (the first time he'd ever been), eat waffle sundaes at the Apollo, and of course hit up the legendary convenience store Wawa. Down in South Carolina, many a time was spent with Josh and Jordan (from yesterday's post) at Cook Out, or on some other silly late night excursion.

Next year, Josh will be going to medical school at MUSC. And after that? Who knows. All I can say is he's going to make a hell of a doctor one day.

Recognition Series: pt. 5 - Jordan A

Jordan and I actually lived on opposite sides of campus freshman year, which means that we really had no business running into each other whatsoever. We ate at different dining halls, had completely different classes, and spent our free time differently too. However we had one common interest -- ultimate. The epitome of college sport. For whatever reason, we both decided to go play with the club team. It was what they called Fall Season, which is free and open to all who want to play.

Little did we know we were signing ourselves up for drills, practice of specific plays, and of course, conditioning. Let's just say we never really looked forward to that part. Long story short Jordan and I ended up on the same team, as there were four or five to play amongst each other. We would scrimmage, and I remember my "coach" always saying, "Okay, guys, how can we have more fun!"

Just because we had seen each other, recognized each other and knew that we were both freshmen, we often ended up warming up with one another before practices and such.

Interestingly enough, it was not frisbee that brought us closer together, but rather Central Spirit. We had seen each other at frisbee and knew each other and therefore bonded more using frisbee as a base. Jordan even joined our crew of guys that would paint up all the time for various sporting events. Those were some crazy times -- painting up in the student union for basketball in the winter because it was so cold outside, then running all the way across campus to the game because we were going to be late.

By sophomore year, Jordan became my roommate and despite junior year (living situations changed temporarily because of my study abroad in Barcelona) we lived together until we graduated. The inside jokes, side conversations during friend hangouts, bonfires, life talks, smoking a cigar the wrong way accidentally, pre-gaming friend get-togethers when no one else was drinking, bonfires in the backyard, and of course silly texts to make sure I'm not dead in studio.

Jordan's been a hell of a pal, and though he was contemplating graduate school this summer at least he'll be working for the DC United soccer team in Washington D.C. I hope very much to keep in touch.

Recognition Series: pt. 4 - chris, dukes, justin, chris, deery

I met these four guys through a group called Central Spirit, an organization that supports Clemson Athletics, tailgates, gets painted up, and gets loud. These four boys were in director positions when I started up with the organization, and after I painted up a few times, got to know who I was, really embraced me into their friend circle, even though they were juniors and I was a little freshman. That meant a lot back then, and still does now. It was great to be included so much just as I was starting college.

Chris was my fellow ginger in crime. The loudest, proudest Irishman on the planet, Chris could outdrink anyone, and be still singing karaoke songs at the end of the day. He was the first to arrive to tailgate, and promptly put up a 20 foot pole that carried a Clemson flag followed by an Irish flag. He now works pretty close to school, but still always comes back to tailgate during football season, bearing beer, food, and laughs.

I didn't know Dukes as well as the others until our football team reached the ACC Championship my freshman year, and we road tripped down to Tampa Bay. We had intended to camp, and it ended up pouring not to mention that we also were too late to get to the KOA. Dukes was always jolly, that's the only way to put it, and when we snuck six people into the Super 8 that night he found great amusement in the fact I slept under a table, like we were having an earthquake or something. Dukes is now married to a wonderful woman, and one of my favorite lines from him came recently at a baseball tailgate. "When I was in college, I used to chase shots with more shots. Now I chase shots with naps!"

Deery is an all around stand up guy. He ended up taking over the presidency in Central Spirit after some major issues with the President at the time treating our student advisors rudely and letting emotions get in the way of important decisions. Deery reluctantly took up office, but I think he's one of the best presidents we had. He has this uncanny ability to get along with everybody, no matter what their position is. He always makes sure everything is talked through and that everyone is at least civil with each other. He's a guy I always looked up to and admired and I'm not even sure if he knows that. Deery is now married also, and is also living pretty near to school, and makes a point of coming to all the football games.

Justin was the guy I think I grew closest with over the years at Clemson. He certainly wrapped me under his wing, got me to be a lot more social. Oddly enough some of the best talks we've had together were post-party, piss drunk, both drinking our water and just sitting up and chatting until 5 or 6am. Justin stuck around a lot after graduation since he lived in just the town over, and despite his sometimes childish manner, he is actually a genuinely good person and he's another one of those people I'll just never forget. Justin now lives in the town adjacent to Clemson, with his girlfriend and their dog (in a house they planned and had built together! Recession my butt...).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 3 - Erin M

Erin and I met under the strangest of circumstances. I had painted up like a tiger for one of the first few football games at Clemson -- this means face, arms, body etc. Only thing I didn't paint was my legs -- but as it turns out I had colored some orange jeans with sharpie to look like stripes.

Believe it or not... I even have a picture.

Which would eventually, in the coming weeks, escalate to something like this:

So anyways there I was at that first football game, painted up, and these two random girls asked if they could take a picture with me. Of course I obliged. Awhile later (days? weeks?) I commented on a post of a very well known kid on campus (just about campus-celebrity status) and they happened to see my profile picture, which was a picture of me painted up. They had been wanting to find out who I really was, and boom the answer was now sitting in front of them. They both added me on Facebook (back when I had a Facebook) and I ended up chatting with them a good bit.

Long story short, Erin and I became quite close friends. She had some terrible things happen to her that forced her to leave school, but she was always pretty optimistic about it, though sometimes I think things would get to her. I missed having her around for the rest of that semester (that was sophomore year).

I can't remember exactly but I think we had a few arguments when she did show up back in Tiger Town. Whatever it was, we ended up drifting apart. With different friend circles and different interests, not to mention me not really making much effort to stay in touch, we were solidly on different paths.

Even now, though I'll wave hello, we just don't hang out like we used to. Not sure when I will see her again, if ever. I will always admire Erin's ability to comfort people. Here she is, a twenty year old who is perfectly capable of playing Mom for her roommates -- even if that means sacrificing "me" time or doing something else. She rarely complains, if at all about it, too. It's just a fact of life and she is determined to help no matter what the situation. I hope one day that she can find the comfort in someone that she seems to gain joy and happiness from daily.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 2 - Emily F

The first time I met Emily, I wasn't even really officially in college yet. I mean, I guess I had been accepted. But I wasn't particularly attending. In fact, I was at orientation. Clemson is a big enough school where there are orientation sessions during most of the weeks of the summer. The leaders are there to help "orient" you with the campus, help you meet some new friends, and get you ready for the upcoming semester in the imminent fall.

I'll never forget the way we actually met. Emily was my orientation ambassador, as they are called, and there was a moment during the orientation where our group had some free time. We started a game of ultimate, and ended up playing a lot. Emily, in good sport, played despite her admittance that she wasn't very good. Quite the team player, that one. On the walk to the next activity, we got to talking a little bit, mostly about volleyball. By the end of the walk we already had a plan to play together on an intramural team that fall.

On the last day of orientation, as we all met up with our parents to head home, Emily sent the group an email, thanking us for being a great group. She included her phone number, and encouraged us to contact her with any questions or concerns we might have, whether it was during the summer, or after the semester started; whatever. I don't remember exactly how the next bit happened but I do remember that I ended up texting her, and as my family and I drove home (taking a longer-than-normal trip with several stops along the way) we talked endlessly. Every minute brought something new and exciting and we talked everything from religion to tattoos.

By the time I got to Clemson in the fall, Emily was the first person I went and saw after moving in. It was a great feeling to have someone there that I already knew was a great friend, and someone to spend time with. I ended up skipping most of the freshmen activities like Bowman block party, and some other social get-togethers, but I have no regrets about that. I was spending time with a wonderful girl.

Long story short, we ended up dating, and I even planned to go home with her for Fall Break that October (we started school in August, and began dating shortly thereafter). We had some great times, and I wonder sometimes if the reason that things ended was that we saw too much of each other. I think part of this had to do with the fact that I was a freshman, and sort of latched on to the opportunity to see her a lot. During one rough patch, just before Fall Break (at this point we had decided to hold off on the visit), she decided she had had enough and we were no longer dating. I knew things were a little tough at the moment, but definitely hadn't seen it coming. I remember saying the words "well, I had no idea that was coming." I then kissed her on the cheek and walked away, heart pounding.

It may sound silly but I was proud of myself in that moment. I was pretty upset, especially after it felt like we were just getting started. Regardless, Emily had a profound effect on me. She was outgoing and thoughtful, understanding and playful and my parents absolutely adored her. I liked her even more after she was able to so easily charm my parents (not usually an easy feat). We went to church with each other, and alternated between her Episcopalian church (or as she called them, the Episco-pals!) and my Catholic church. It was cool both being on campus and having it be so easy to see each other (just a 15 minute walk across campus). She was, after all, the first college girlfriend!

Today I think Emily is working in some sort of student affairs at another university. I know that things didn't work out, but no matter what I'll always learn something from relationships, and this one was no exception.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recognition Series: pt. 1 - Kevin K

Going to college is a nerve-racking experience. You're not sure what classes will be like, how hard exams will be, if you'll be able to get the grades you want, if you'll have time for fun-tivities, or if you'll have good roommates. Luckily for me, I was able to choose my freshman year roommate, and I ended up living with a friend from high school. Easy enough, right?

As it turned out, there were a lot more incoming students accepting offers than Clemson had expected, and as a result they had a massive overflow problem. Kids were (I kid you not) even put in repurposed closets as living spaces. Kevin and I ended up in a four person apartment, as opposed to the two person dorm we were expecting. As sweet as it was to have an apartment, with our own bathroom, our own living room and even a kitchen, we knew that this also meant two unknown roommates.

Throughout my whole freshman year, Kevin was a person I could chat with classes about, eat lunch and dinner with all the time, and complain when our roommates didn't clean, or when the oaf who lived nearby named Marcus came by (a loud and boisterous kid whose muscles must have taken over and eliminated his brain). Lunch was always at Schilletter to get what we affectionately called Schillalads and Schlundaes (salads and sundaes). We ate the salads in plowls, you know, those weird dishes that look like half plate half bowl? We decided Clemson House would be a better alternative for dinner rather than Schilletter, since half of campus decided it wanted to eat at 6pm. Thus we'd always make the trek up the hill to C-House, even on the super rainy days.

Though we were in totally different majors (biology v. architecture), held different interests (band v. athletics) and of course had different schedules, we remained close friends through the year, and throughout the entirety of my college career. We shared many laughs, experienced some weird things (like people calling me Red-Shoes, or eating lunch with a random girl neither of us knew, but thought the other did), and made it through the hapless partying of our other two roommates.

I happened to run into Kevin while out for dinner the night of my graduation a few days ago, and even though we drifted apart over the years and created our own friend circles, Kevin was a great first kid to live with and I really appreciated the little support group we had going for each other. Whether it was studying, complaining, meals, or just company, Kevin was always there for me. As far as I know, Kevin's plans are to head to medical school in the near future. But hey, if I end up ever having health problems, I'll know who to call, right?

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Road .

Start your engines. Quicken pace. Change gears and make haste. The road well traveled, with oil burns, and tire rubber, and ghosts of accidents past. Frustrations and traffic jams, people cutting others off, blowing off steam at each other while simultaneously blowing steam from their engines. Speeding far above the limit, with blatant disregard for the law and courtesy. Hours and hours in one seat, hands glued to the wheel, struggling to find a comfortable position -- an empty seat beside you. Filled with pillows in lieu of people, the car struggles to bear the weight. Each bump is felt so much more than before as the frame struggles to keep itself together under the enormous stress. The weight dangerously cantilevers over the back end. You see it bounce and shake, and yet somehow it still is all held together. Somehow things don't fall apart. The jigsaw puzzle of the trunk all came together, the drive somehow kept itself on course, and despite the setbacks, and the challenges, and the long hours, you'll always make it home.

If you didn't get it the first time, go back and read that again. It's not just about driving... If you got that the first time, bravo.

Recognition Series will begin tomorrow. Was just feeling inspired about something else today!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Recognition Series .

A while back I mentioned that I wanted to take a moment and recognize all these different people that affected me in college, and really affected me as a person and had an influence on the person I have become today. I decided (after a few suggestions) that these people will be broken up into individuals or groups of individuals, over a series that will run indefinitely (basically until I finish).

This is not only a way to publicly recognize these people for the great individuals that they are, but also a way for me to look back and remember all that they've done to get me to where I am today in life. I'm going to try to be as thorough as possible and really make sure that everyone gets credit where credit is due! I pray that I don't forget anyone, but hopefully I won't. I hope that you guys enjoy getting to know some of the people that really had a vast impact on me! Stay tuned over the coming days!

I'm an Adult !

As many of you know, if you've been keeping up with this blog as of late, I graduated from college today! How weird it felt to be putting on those commencement robes and utterly ridiculous hats again after four years here at school. And though you sweat your butt off, you're uncomfortably close to people, and you feel awkward, graduation is really such an accomplishment. I am relieved to be done, and ready for the next adventure.

I wish that I could recite all the wonderful things that President Jim Barker said to us. He inspired us, and was able to instill in me an insatiable hunger for all that the future holds as a Clemson Tiger Alumni. How weird to think that I am now an Alumni. That word was always sort of foreign, or perhaps just code for all the old folks that now come back for football games.

Harder still was the post-graduation reception at Lee Hall, the last time I'll ever be there, and the last time I'll ever see quite a few people. Though many of them said that they'd love to come out and visit, and I really hope that they follow through with that notion and hit up the Northwest!

Tomorrow I'll be homeward bound, everything all packed, house cleared out, final bills paid, and of course, a fond farewell (and maybe even a few tears) as I say goodbye to Clemson for the very last time.

Major congratulations to all the 2013 graduates! I am so proud of you all, and can't wait to forever say I was a part of such a wonderful institution. Go Tigers!

We're All In This Together .

It seems like a lot of people are running into the challenge of breakups in recent months. Though the Youtube community is known for sharing their lives of seeming perfection, it's important to remember that those who entertain us daily are real people too. If you've never heard of Steve Greene, you're missing out on a bundle of laughs. But last week, he posted a more serious video. Under the guise of his series "Tough Talk with Steve Greene" (generally a program filled with goofy graphics and backhanded jokes) Steve admits that his girlfriend ended things with him. According to Steve, they had been together four years -- talk about a tough challenge to deal with.

I, like some others, was fooled at first into to thinking that the video might actually be a joke. I quickly realized my incorrect assumption when he started breaking down in the video. It's hard to watch people go through something like this. You're not sure what to say, because no words can really cure what they're feeling. You're not sure whether they want comfort or whether they want to be left alone.

In any case, Steve made some great points reminiscing about the time he had together, and for a guy who usually makes some pretty crass jokes, you can really see a completely honest and real side of him here. You can totally tell just how much he cared and still cares for this girl, and I truly wish him the best in his recovery. It seems as though he is already off to a great start, staying positive, and remembering to heal with the one thing he's great at already -- laughter. He'll be in my prayers in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Family Dinner .

A few years ago the guys and I used to do family dinner on Friday nights. It wasn't family in the sense of our siblings and parents and grandparents showing up, but rather some close friends and great conversation. We'd invite them over to our apartment, and make something pretty simple. In many ways it was less about the food and more about the company. I mean let's be honest someone can only have lasagna so many times before they get sick of it...

Now I realize that that family was even more than that, and really encompassed the entirety of campus, and all its students; in fact, the Clemson Family. I love the quote that President Jim Barker relayed to my Presidential Seminar class, that 'I go to a small school, with thousands of other people.' It's the essence of what Clemson is all about.

Today my family rolled into town, here for graduation, and we had a real family dinner together at my house. I offered to cook since they would be driving all day, and let's be honest; they'll be spending enough money on gas and eating out and all the other things that go hand in hand with a big trip.

Strange as it is to have my family in my home away from home, it was kinda nice. To be able to go out and chat on the dock as the water gently lapped its edges, to have people to sit around the dining table with and say a prayer before our meal, to have folks to laugh and joke with, and show off my college life to.

I wish my brother was here, but he's starting finals tomorrow, and I wish him the best of luck. I have no doubt he'll be able to be there for the graduation of my Master's (but let's not rush things!). Plus as it turns out I'll see him on the way up too! Good deal. Tomorrow I'll be a college grad!

What if ... ?

What if we lived in a world where my generation wasn't continually screwing up?
What if the celebrities that people were looking up to were helping their communities instead of earning DUI's, arrests, and jail time?
What if 9.11 was simply a date in September?
What if there wasn't so much hatred toward the middle east, and toward the countries that we are warring with daily?
Better yet, what if there was no war over oil and terrorism?
What if terrorism didn't exist?
What if no one judged by the color of your skin, the orientation of your sexuality, the denomination of your religion, the amount of your wealth, the number of tattoos or piercings you had, or your assumed popularity status?
What if it didn't take an attack on our country or a natural disaster to be able to pull together?
What if you could wake up every morning, only feeling love and joy, instead of a bunch of other terrible emotions mixed in?
What if you could go through life unafraid, taking risks and seizing opportunities just because you could?
What if wishing you could do something would truly motivate you endlessly until you got there?
What if finding the love of your life, your soulmate, was easy?
What if life didn't throw you curveballs that screwed up your plans?
What if the cost of living wasn't inflating so much?
What if the job market was great and there were never any recessions?
What if phones and Skype could teleport you places to those that you loved?
What if death didn't mean grieving, sadness and loss?
What if institutions weren't tainted by reports of sexual abuse, harassment, and embezzlement?

What if, instead of saying "what if", we just worked on all those things... accepting challenges and curveballs, and bettering ourselves as a person?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Friendly Neighbors .

During the entire time that I've lived in this house (almost 9 full months at this point) I've only met a very select few neighbors that live across from and adjacent to us. One guy, Tony, who lives a few doors down from us, has graciously been mowing our lawn whenever needed since August, which has been a total lifesaver because we don't have a mower, and almost definitely don't have the money needed to get it landscaped.

What a difference it makes to just have friendly neighbors around all the time (and it makes it that much more important that you are a friendly and outgoing one yourself, too). Whenever the people across from me are outside if I'm going out or coming home, I always get a wave from them. I made a point to make them cookies before I left for Christmas, so we chatted a bit then, but it's a shame we didn't get to know them better.

According to my roommate, Tony has a lot of great stories and is real easy to talk to. He lives alone in a trailer on the lake, with the exception of his Boxer dog Rascal (who is honestly such a gem!), and I'm sure sometimes he'd just like some company. I think he's separated or divorced from a previous wife, because he does have a son who comes over quite a bit, whether to just go out on their boat, or fish for awhile, or water ski. It seems, though, that he really enjoys life and is so laid back and relaxed. I wish I could embrace that kind of attitude long term, through whatever challenges life throws at me.

Also, I think that I might make more of an effort to meet the people I live near once I move. It goes both ways, like many things -- the people moving in should make an effort to branch out, and the people who are already living there should go and at least introduce themselves. It makes for a more homey environment, and makes them feel like they are a part of the community.

That's how I feel, here, despite not knowing people too well. It's just our little dead end street, with about 10 houses on it, spattered among the woods and with great views of the lake. The little waves, knowing that anyone who drives by on the road must live there, because otherwise what's the point; it all makes for a really peaceful experience. Despite my excitement regarding moving to a city environment, I think I will miss the quiet nights where you only hear the crickets and the wind.

Moving & Packing .

I think that a lot of people like seeing new places, moving new places, taking vacations, moving around and taking in all the experiences that come with that. I think we all agree, though, that packing (and more importantly unpacking) is probably the worst possible thing ever. Wouldn't life just be so much easier if we could just automatically have the things we needed teleported to wherever we were going?!

That being said I started packing my stuff up this week since I'm moving out on Saturday. It's been going -- well to be perfectly honest it hasn't really been going much at all. I've got pretty much all my clothes packed up, and just about everything off my desk, but I'm still pretty far from done. However, I did realize that I actually have a lot less stuff to pack up than I thought. As it turns out I really did bring a ton of stuff home this past winter break.

My family is rolling into town tomorrow, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited, which is interesting because I can't really remember the last time that happened. I think as you get older, you just sort of appreciate everything a little bit more, understand the difficult challenge of being a parent, and you just want to share your life a little bit more and share some experiences a little bit more. Couple that with the excitement of imminent graduation (and yes, I am totally and entirely done with all the work that I have to do with that, which in and of itself is thrilling), and you get yourself one happy camper.

On one quick side note, I've been seeing a few people that aren't really continuing their blogs anymore, and I just want to address that. First of all, it has been a true pleasure being a part of your lives, and reading all that you have to say and being able to jump inside your head and just read all the thoughts on the walls there. I hope to somehow keep in touch (if that's possible?) and that your life brings you all the joy that it can, despite being blog-less!!

I totally understand that at some point people just need a change in their lives, and this change is a good one. And as heartbreaking as it is to all the faithful readers, at the end of the day you gotta do what is right for you! Best of luck!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Doing Things Different .

Today was Senior Walk, a day where all the bars downtown offer discounts for those graduating. It's pretty much a day-long affair, starting at noon and going until 2am tonight. For me, though, college has never been about the parties, the drinking, or the sloppy social scene. And so, despite the temptations of drinking all day, I headed to campus to sort out my ePortfolio (a load of crap that we, for some reason, need to graduate), and then came home, chatted with a friend online, went on a bike ride, and have been inside since. I cooked myself some dinner, worked for my boss for a few hours, and now I'm blogging, working on the second annual blog book edition, and watching a movie on Netflix. Despite the fact the house has been empty save for my presence since about 1pm, I've been quite comfortable. It's interesting that it seems so easy to just be on my own, you know?

For some people, today's schedule might drive them nuts. Practically no social interaction. No going out. They might even feel like they missed out on one of the staples of senior year. And yet, I've always been cool being on my own, always been cool entertaining myself, always been cool with creating my own schedules and agendas. It's the calmer, quieter, more subtle things in life that I truly enjoy. And while I do enjoy a night out, a blaring concert, I'd just as much prefer a book in a comfy chair at home.

Why? I do things different. I have a tendency to think different... and often times to over-think, re-think, and analyze. And I like that, it's actually one of my favorite things about me. It's even one of the main reasons why I blog and write. Not really sure how to continue this, but, hope all of you out there are enjoying your respective nights, whatever activities you may have planned!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Loss: in Perspective .

After accidentally sleeping through my alarm this morning, I ended up not going to church. However, I didn't want to be a bad Catholic, and so I found an online mass that I could watch. As it turns out, the message I got here was a great one, and I wanted to share that. I can't remember what the gospel was about exactly, but I know it was something in Revelations, which many Catholics find to be one of the most frightening books to read -- end of the world, descriptions and depictions of places you really don't want to end up.

Whatever the reading may have been, the priest was talking about loss, and how some of us might have undergone some really great losses in our lives. This could be the death of a spouse or child, or the loss of a really good friend. We feel that, with those chapters closing, a piece of us dies in the process. Certainly we will never regain that piece -- and there will forever be a hole where those people once were in our hearts.

But imagine how the disciples felt as the time came for Jesus to undergo the passion, and willingly walk into the hands of death. What would it be like to be a disciple during this time? So often (in fact almost always) is the focus during these events on Jesus, his sufferings, and his trials. And yet, we are quick to neglect the feelings that the Disciples might be feeling too. Can you imagine the feelings of anxiety and trepidation if someone close to you told them that they were about to exit your life (whether through moving away or worse, death)?

This was perfect for me -- as I am about to graduate, and move a whopping 2934 miles away from my hometown in NJ (that's door to door, from my street to the front door of Oregon's campus). I will dearly miss the people I've met here and while graduation is exciting, Oregon is exciting, and graduate school is exciting, the elephant in the room is the distance, and the loss of communication. Likewise, these ideas can totally be related to the recent end of my latest relationship. Allow me to explain.

Jesus didn't just leave without saying anything. He prepared them for the loss. He told his disciples three things that would keep them from losing their minds. First, he said that no matter how difficult or jarring things may be, it is all a part of God's plan. God is in control and he knows what he is doing -- all we have to do is trust in God. Second, Jesus explained that his leaving would bring about something even better; and therefore it's necessary for him to depart so that the Father can send down the holy spirit. And that Holy Spirit is not just a memory of Jesus, or a bit of ambiguous knowledge, but rather the love of the Father and the Son, and something to remind everyone of everything he had talked about in life. Finally, Jesus leaves us a gift -- he leaves his peace behind. And this is not peace in the general way we think of peace, but rather a peace in knowing that he will return -- the departure is temporary.

And so to relate back to the current issues of my life: I am physically leaving, but the friendships will remain. Whether it be through letters, emails, texts, tweets, or phone calls, those friendships will live on, and no one can take those memories from me. I just have to trust that people will put in just as much effort as I plan to. Likewise in love, I have to accept that that specific type of love has left my life for the time being -- yet its departure is temporary. I will find another, and that person will have the capability of blowing my mind every day. All I have to do is trust that there is a plan for me. Ironically as it is, I told my parents that exact thing when I called them to break the news. I knew then, and know now, that no matter what happens, God wants me to learn and grow and continue bettering myself every day. There are lessons to be learned, truths to be accepted, and challenges to overcome. But they will not and never will be for naught; as they are always, always, always, leading to something new, something better, something exciting.

After all, you can't cross a river without getting your feet wet.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What is Clemson?

Lots of incoming students want you to describe what Clemson is. They want you to tell the ins and the outs, and say what you love most, and what you think could be better. I sent an email to the President of my university the other day, thanking him for what a great job he has done over the past four years (and even far before that), and of course thanking him for his involvement in my Presidential Seminar class, an interdisciplinary course that he created.

He responded with the utmost humility and gratitude, wishing me well in Oregon, and finished up his response with the words "Make us proud." Damn, will that ring in my head for years to come.

What is Clemson? I'll tell you.

Clemson is a family.
Clemson is a small school, that houses thousands of students.
Clemson is the most beautiful place on Earth.
Clemson is the home of Death Valley, and a place where 80,000 people come together to root for a football team.
Clemson is a place where you can walk into a bar not knowing anyone, and come out with fifty close friends.
Clemson is a place where orange runs in the blood of those who inhabit it, and which sneaks its way into the hearts of those who visit.
Clemson is not just a house, but it is a home.
Clemson is a place where the people relish in the expansive fields, beautiful blossoming trees, and the pond-side benches.
Clemson is a great place to eat -- whether it's in the not-so-great dining hall, or someplace deliciously fattening like Chick Fil A.
Clemson is a place to learn, to study, explore relationships, broaden horizons, get in shape, and make life-long friends.
Clemson was my home -- and will always have a place in my heart for the rest of my life. It was the first step of my being truly independent. It educated me more in my field than any other place. It challenged me and encouraged me. It accepted who I was and what I was about despite my being from the North. It pushed me to perform, to do my best, and to strive for excellence. It embraced, forgave me, instilled spirit in me, and finally, allowed me to grow, and succeed, and move on to better things. I appreciate every moment I've had the privilege of spending here. What is Clemson?

Only the perfect place to spend four years of school.

Empty Campus .

Today I sat in one of the student centers for four hours or so doing some work for my boss. I guess I just didn't really feel like sitting at home all day. Despite the large amounts of traffic in the area from all the people moving out and families coming to collect their children, campus was empty. I've been there before when it's in that state -- during things like Spring Break and Thanksgiving break. The interesting thing is that I always know that within a few days the crowds will return.

This time, I won't be there when the crowds return. The masses have left the building, and by the time they get back, I'll be home in New Jersey, preparing myself for a five-day-long trip to Oregon, USA.

The dining halls were closed, the retail dining areas were closed. Everything seemed locked up and locked away, so much so that the group of guys I was going to eat with on campus for lunch couldn't eat there anymore. We decided to hit up Waffle House instead (a worthwhile trip, as always). This morning I even went and visited a few friends who were packing up and hitting the road later today. I can't say enough how weird it is to hug someone and not really be sure when (or, even more scarily, if) you'll see them again. I've never been great at goodbyes, but this one is just different. It's almost as if I'm treating it the same as all the others, when in reality it's completely different.

That empty campus feels so strange. The rain that steadily fell today didn't really help the melancholy mood either. Campus is a beautiful place, but without the people, what's left? The sidewalks become hard stark concrete. The grass becomes a simple footpad, a collection for falling raindrops. The mud smears itself over the slopes, and the shades in all the dorms are drawn tightly shut, as per the request of the Clemson Housing Dept. Without people, the campus is a barren village of buildings and parking lots. Without the people, Clemson is a house, but not a home.

This upcoming week I hope we get a nice day somewhere in there so I can head out with the camera and just take a whole bunch of pictures of campus. I really just want a ton of photos that I can remember the place by. And maybe I'll even end up framing some of them; I think that would be pretty great. And in a week? Well I'll join the volition of those masses -- driving North with Clemson, SC in my rearview mirror.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Finished - For Real .

The exams are finished, and graded. The final projects are turned in. The Lulu studio book is made, ordered, and even on its way, shipped to my professor. The projects are rolled up, the desks are clean, and we're all packing up all the crap that accumulated in our charettes over the past semester. Over this past week I've been trying to see all those who are leaving this weekend, headed for home. The likelihood that I'll see any of these people is very slim -- but I'm really planning on making the effort to keep in touch.

I ate lunch with a group of guys from studio, and after we headed back to studio, it was weird to see one of them call out my name and wave -- for a fleeting moment I felt like I would never see him again. But then I realized that we still have graduation, we'll probably be around cleaning things up in studio, and that we would both certainly be at the reception after graduation.

I then headed straight to the dining hall to meet another group of friends that I actually probably won't see after this year. Upon leaving, we all exchanged hugs -- and I plan to head over to their place tomorrow morning to see them off. But it's still the strangest thing trying to say goodbye to people that you've spent four years cultivating a friendship with. I'm almost inclined to say "Have a great summer, and oh yeah, have a great life too." Gosh that would just be beyond awkward.

I feel so blessed to have so many people tell me that they wish I wasn't moving, wasn't leaving, and that they'll miss me being around and that "we have to stay in touch!" I love that sort of thing. Probably much more than they know. And I sure as hell am going to do my best. I want to collect email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers etc. And while the hugs will not really suffice to provide a link to them for the rest of life, the memories I had with these people will certainly last a lifetime, and never fade.

PS : keep an eye out for a post in the near future -- going to be a real long one, and I'm going to go back through each of the years and just talk about people and events that affected me drastically. I'm really looking forward to delving through those memories. Should make for some great posts too. I'm trying to decide whether I want to post it all at once or in pieces... thoughts?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cara Salimando .

New music comin' your way folks. A friend of mine asked me if I knew of any new music while we were sitting in the library, following it up with the fact that he loves new music and hearing new stuff. I of course remembered a few different people, but had forgotten Cara Salimando's name and couldn't for the life of me remember it. I had found her a long time ago, but I guess never tagged the video on Youtube so I couldn't find it anymore. However, I finally did remember it and was once again blown away by the quality and caliber of her talent -- vocally, musically, etc. etc. When you listen to these songs there's no way you'd expect that the voice behind it all is a 20 year old (I think that's the accurate age anyways). Her voice is so different from so many young ladies who take up singing and the music scene. Not to mention she's a pro at the piano and the guitar as well. Talk about a renaissance man -- er, woman.

Now, this post is in part to help her out and give her some well-deserved publicity. With a voice and style that rivals that of Regina Spektor, this girl deserves some attention. Here's where you come in blog friends! Give her stuff a listen here: click to listen! If you fancy it, please do me (and more importantly her) a favor and spread it around -- show your friends, send an email, tweet it, post it on Facebook. Every little bit helps and for a musician, word of mouth is a great way to spread music.

I was and am truly impressed by this girl and plan to continue to follow her closely in the future to make sure I don't miss anything! Bravo, Cara!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

At the end of day...

...all that really matters is that you did your best, gave it your all, left it all on the court, and are happy with the person you are.
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