People in Motion

Today, I went to go take pictures of a family friend’s daughter. She’s an ice skater, and I’ve always loved watching ice skaters because what they do seems incredible. They’re so graceful, too. It’s really, really neat to watch them. She was only practicing, but I wanted to take pictures of her anyway. The mom asked me if there was any particular theme to my assignment, and almost without thinking I said, “I enjoy people in motion.”

And really, I think taking photographs of people moving are one of the better things I do. I take photos of the frisbee group I’m a part of. Some of those photos are funny, others look awesome, and others are complete duds (out of focus shots suck). But they’re interesting subjects because they’re so dynamic. They move, all the time. And this fascination with people in motion explains why I like watching certain sports so much. I love watching swimmers. Really, that one is because I’m a swimmer myself. But I love watching swimmers swim, because all the strokes are so different, requiring different skills. I’m fascinated by butterfly swimmers. That’s the hardest stroke for me, but it’s so cool to watch.
I like watching the guys I play frisbee with, because they’re so different. Some get good verticals, others dive, others run. If you can take a picture fast enough, they’re in the best poses. Sometimes it looks like people are flying, or they’re levitating the frisbee. Or you catch the funny moments where people barely miss catching the frisbee.
I like watching dancers because they move so much. They look graceful, and I’m always trying to figure out how people do moves. I love watching pirouettes. I’m horrible at them. Funny how I love watching what I’m so bad. Can’t do butterfly, but love watching it. Can’t do more than a single pirouette, but I love watching dancers do pirouettes. With dancers, if you catch the right moment, everything looks put together so wonderfully.
So when I took pictures of the girl skating, I hoped to catch moments where she looked graceful and looked absolutely stunning. And I did. Sometimes it’s a shame I’ve occasionally got to watch things through a lens, when I’m so in love with the way people move.

College Bucket List

One of my friends in from my floor last year created a “college bucket list” club, or something similar. This got me started on what I wanted to do before I graduate college. The first year, I had no aspirations of doing much besides surviving. But now, I want to do things. I want to know what Utah and life has to offer me, a college student looking for where she belongs in the world.

Here’s my college bucket list + the reasons.

1. Go rafting. I’ve had two people in the past month say they’ve gone rafting were going to go but work got in the way. And it sounds like a fun thing to do. Plus, who doesn’t want to raft down a cold river in the middle of summer with a bunch of friends (and likely get a tan?).

2. Go kayaking. Same reasons as above. Different friends, but people have said it. I think it’d be a whole lot of fun. MORE WATER. Also, with friends, in summer.

3. Swim in a lake. This is on my actual bucket list too. I want to jump into a lake and just swim around in it. Not like Lake Mead. Lake Mead is nasty. Nah, I want a nice lake. And it’s more reasons for me not to wear my one-piece swimsuit. That’s why I haven’t gone swimsuit shopping in forever for a new bikini. I don’t ever use one and I want an excuse to use one.

4. Road trip with friends. To the beach. BECAUSE WHO DOESN’T LOVE THE BEACH?! Also: it’s probably way nicer to be on the beach in California than up in the mountains in Utah.

This is actually Myrtle Beach in SC. Whatever. It’s a beach.

5. Road trip with friends. To wherever. I just want to road trip with friends. Throw all our crap into a car and drive wherever strikes our fancy. I kinda want to go north. Probably Seattle or Portland or someplace. So northwest? Anyway. Road. Trip. Anywhere.

5. Attend concerts. Salt Lake’s small, but it’s got good concerts. Maybe I’ll attend more now that I live here. Only problem? Car. I don’t have one.

6. Visit Japan on a study abroad/internship. I’m going through some hardcore nostalgia. I just want to go back to Japan by any means necessary. Study abroad, internship, living with my grandmother, you name it. I will take any way to get back there.

7. Learn how to dance. Okay, so this was a goal of mine at the beginning of summer. That, be more social, and speak Japanese more. It’s still a goal. I signed up for a modern dance class for the fall and I think I’ll take a ballet class in the spring (and one of my friends may take it with me!). If I like either enough, I’ll keep going with it.

8. Improve my times in swimming. Right now, my times for a 50yd free is about 40 seconds and about 1:30 for 100yds. I know I can swim about 600yds in 10-11 minutes. I want my 50yd to go down to about 30 and my 100 to maybe 1:00 or 1:10. I also want to swim a faster breaststroke.

9. Be social. And by this, I mean navigate social situations appropriately. Not feel awkward when I first meet people.

10. Work on strengthening my friendships. I have more friends than I did in high school, which is a success. But I want to be able to concentrate on keeping the high school friendships I had and on strengthening the ones I made in college. That’ll be kinda difficult because everyone will be so busy in the fall, so the likelihood of me seeing them often is low. But that’s what facebook is for, right? Sending messages to people, asking how they’ve been? …Just got to get over my fear of messaging people on facebook.

11. Drive to Moab and do something fun there. Like a hike. I hear Moab is a beautiful place and I really, really want to go. I’d likely go for hiking, but there’s kayaking too, so that’s also an option.

12. Climb Lisa Falls again WITHOUT panicking. I climbed Lisa Falls earlier this summer with a bunch of friends. The places I got hit the worst still have marks. The reason I panicked? I’m bad with heights and I was not expecting bouldering. Next time, though, I know what to look out for and I’ll swallow my fear of heights to go. That was gorgeous.

13. Play zombie tag dressed as a survivor or a zombie. I’ve played the university’s zombie tag both times. The first time I stopped playing halfway through because I skinned my leg and my elbow. Also: knee brace was present. Fantastic. The second time, I became a zombie. That was the day I decided to dress up because why not. It’s fun to dress up. I want others to do this with me. It’d be so fun to have a group of friends go all L4D or something at a game.

Swimming

I’m on a roller coaster with too many ups and downs. I’ve had moments where I wanted to laugh (and laughed) and moments where I wanted to cry (and cried silently). And things came to a head today, when I thought I was prepared to take on the world and broke. There were a variety of reasons. Negative emotions threatened to overtake me. They were unhappiness, anger, guilt, helplessness, pity.
And I decided.
I could either sit with tense shoulders and give myself a headache, I could go out with friends and run away from my sadness for a few hours, or I could find my method for making myself feel better.
Well, I did sit with tense shoulders for a bit. I’d be hanging out with friends soon, but I’d be a killjoy if I went out unhappy.
So I fell to my method of feeling better.
I went straight to the pool.
I broke personal records today. I swam 2200 yards in total in about 50 minutes. I swam 600 yards nonstop freestyle. I swam 500 yards nonstop breaststroke. I swam a 2×100 butterfly.
Butterfly is the worst stroke in the world, let me tell you.
By the end of the 2200 yards, I was relaxed. I felt less tense. But I wasn’t done. I went and did water pull-ups because I can’t do regular ones. Did those until my arms screamed at me. Worth it.
While swimming, I wondered how I got to that point. And I wrote a tiny little thing. Here it is:
I think I was born to be a water girl.
I adored the water since I was a little kid. I was born on a peninsula, One of my favorite things was going to the beach with my friends. I liked going into the ocean to swim and splash everyone. I haven’t forgotten the time I spent hours out on the beach and neglected to reapply sunscreen. It hurt for anything to touch my skin, but I hurt myself doing something I loved. That’s an odd thing to be proud of.
I moved to an island. Sure, I was isolated. I was a little lonely. But I found a key part of myself there. No, not the love of video games, being a tomboy, or preferring male friends to female friends.
I found the water all around me. I literally could not escape it. I joined the swim team and swam competitively. One of my swim team friend’s dad owned the water park close by. My dad worked at a beachfront resort and I got to go to the lagoons all the time. My swim team coach was a little off. But, as one of my coworkers put it, “what swim coach isn’t a little crazy?” I enjoyed the laps and pushing myself. I was a chubby kid, and I thought I couldn’t swim as fast as my skinner friend. I was so proud when I get first in several events, beating some of the smaller kids on occasion. I was good at something.
The swim coach had us swim laps in the lagoons. Terrifying. We could’ve been sucked out to sea. It never happened, though. Laps were a lot of fun. Laps in the wave pool at the water park were even better. More so when the waves were turned on and we had to fight the waves. (This practice ruined my love of the wave pool as just a wave pool.) I complained a lot about swim practice, I’m sure. But I enjoyed it. When I hit the water, my world made sense.
Then I moved to a landlocked state and lost everything. I lost my beaches, I lost my water park, I lost my swim team. I didn’t want to do anything in that state. I didn’t realize the rec center was close by. There goes middle school. I did discovered I liked to sing in middle school, so it wasn’t a complete waste.
I didn’t go to a normal high school with sports; otherwise, I would’ve tried to get on the swim team. No one was going to wait for a magnet student for two hours (the amount of time it took me to get to that school by bus). So I let high school fly by. The only water contact came from the backyard pool. That wasn’t a lap pool, though. I wanted to feel the joy of cutting through the water. I remained an average teen.
Cue college. Imagine my extreme delight when I found the pool was three minutes from my dorms. Forget the field house.
(What would I do at the field house? I hate running. I hate exercise machines unless they’re the spin bikes. I can’t lift weights.)
The pool is where it’s at.
I went as often as I could. Usually, that was about three times a week. Combine that with eating healthy and I dropped 15 pounds by the end of the fall semester. Another 5 came off in the spring semester. I felt great. I was so glad that I was close to the water again.
And then the job search. That was stressful. I needed a job for summer, and I applied to job after job. Some, I wouldn’t have minded getting. Others… I applied just because I needed the money. Then a friend said something about a lifeguard certification class and the pool hiring. I jumped on it immediately. I was a little worried about swimming the 300 yards. I hadn’t swum that much in nearly 10 years. What if I couldn’t do it?
I did it. Got certified. Got hired. Picked up my swimming game. Went from 40 minutes of swimming a random amount to swimming a mile every time. That was my goal. There are 1760 yards in a mile. I rounded it up to 1800.
This summer, my swimming seemed to have a purpose. I was back to me again. Being in the water, cutting through it, letting the repetition lull me into a sense of comfort. I was back in my world.
My legs went from okay to getting some definition. It might’ve come from a combination of a lot of kicking and walking up and down a mountain all damn day. My arms went from no muscle to some muscle, and that is likely all swimming. I don’t really do anything else that engaged those muscles. I looked better than I did when I started the school year and way better than I did in high school.
So I’m a little vain about certain parts of my body. Like my legs. They look nice. My arms look nice, and I’m not afraid of showing them off now. My hands and fingers? I’m taking care of them, so they don’t look nasty. I will keep my piano hands pretty. Guess how many people I’ve surprised by how long my fingers are? A lot. And my feet? Okay, I’m not vain about those. They’re functional. And huge. I couldn’t help but smile when one of my friends said, “Your feet are big. They must act like flippers in the water!”
Not quite, but they do help.  
When people are upset, they go to what makes them feel better. One friend runs. One friend immerses herself in music. I immerse myself in the water and push myself until my arms and legs are weak. And then I keep pushing myself. I lose myself in the strokes. Push myself until I can’t swim anymore. Until my body relaxes. 
If I can’t write? Hey, I can swim. Can’t settle down and find something mindless to do? The pool’s three minutes away. Learning how to dance? Practice, but when I get frustrated, the pool is waiting. It’s the one thing I know without a doubt I can do. I swim for me. It’s my thing. The one thing I know I can do well.
I likely missed out on my chance to do something great with swimming. I wanted to be an Olympian when I was a kid. In swimming. Like Katie Ledecky or Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte. But I’ll keep pushing myself, doing the great things for me. When all else fails, I can go back to swimming. I’ll hold onto it for as long as I possibly can.

Should There Be Change?

I decided last night to dye my hair. I didn’t know what color, but I wanted to. I eventually decided on dark auburn.

Except now I’m having second thoughts. If I dye my hair, it will damage it. Plus, the shade’s not my usual hair color. My hair is dark brown. My thing is… Do I want to keep up with dyeing my hair? Not really. I like my original hair color. I want to be able to have it wash out eventually, so temporary dye is the way I want to go. But I don’t know where to get it and have it not be spray on. The Smiths close to my place used to have temporary dye, but no longer. I wonder what I can do? I don’t want to permanently change my hair nor do I want to have to wait to grow it out… I’m going to really have to look for temporary dye or my friend will be disappointed she won’t be able to dye my hair.

Thrift Shopping

I went to the local thrift store today for a few little things for a photography assignment. I did find several cute little teacups and a nice mug with my favorite tea on it. What is that, you ask? Chamomile! I also found several little knick-knacks which I could drop in club soda. That was fun.

I walked past the clothing section on my way to the back and saw a jacket that looks very similar to the one that’s worn by Hatter in Syfy’s Alice. The material was wrong, but everything else looked just about perfect. After I got my cups and knick-knacks, I saw for at least twenty minutes debating whether or not to get it. I also tried on several shirts that were similar to Hatter’s. As time ran out (I had class in an hour and a half), I caved and got it. Why? Because when am I ever going to find something like that again?! It was an amazing find!

The dude on the right. Obviously.
 
Eventually I plan to dress up as Alice (the girl on the left) as well. Nate and I are going to do this because he happens to look a lot like the Hatter and if I grow my hair out and straighten it I look a little like Alice. A little. I look too Asian to be exact.

Moral of the story: go thrift store shopping if you want to dress up as characters. You never know what you’ll find.

You Deserve Happiness

That’s what I tell everyone in my letters. I am anonymous. A stranger writing a letter to a stranger, hoping to make their day. I have come to the conclusion that I write these uplifting things for two reasons.

1) These are the things I’d want to hear if I got an anonymous letter.

2) I don’t want people to fall into the same feelings I had and keep having.

I don’t want others to feel inadequate. I don’t want others to feel unloved. I don’t want them to feel alone and stressed out. I know what it’s like when your brain turns on you and tells you things, true or not. Everyone needs reassurance.

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” -Buddha

So smile. If you smile, someone else will smile, and that smile will keep spreading. Find your reason to smile. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be as simple as a silly picture. Your pet. Nature. The weather. No homework. Doing a hobby that you love. Anything. Keep that reason with you all day. When you feel like you’re going down, bring that reason to the surface and smile.

Love yourself. It’s the most important thing you can do.


Organization

My planner that I’ve been using for the past year runs out this week. Most of the planners I’ve found (and liked) don’t start until August. So, basically, I’m stuck using a little notebook as my planner. Not that I’m complaining. I got the chance to split everything into four sections and now everything’s neatly organized. Well, as neatly organized as it can be. There’s still quite a bit of mess in there.

I’ve got a neat little thing to help me figure out which credits I still need to take to graduate. Let me tell you, that was frustrating because I had to look up classes and figure out what sounded interesting and what didn’t. I’m still hoping to take the classes that’ll help me teach ESL, but if that doesn’t work, I’m not crushed. I can still take sociolinguistics, which is awesome. I cannot say the same for my Japanese major, though. The classes I do want to take haven’t been listed in the past two years. Which upsets me because they say, “You can take classes from this list!” but only two of them are actually up there. What the heck, school. What. The. Heck.

And in addition to all of this, I finally created a facebook page for my shop. I didn’t tell you I had a shop? Here it is! I created the facebook page to take commissions, too. Any kind of commission is going to help me at this point. I really, really need commissions. Basically, I need money. I’m starting to develop an interest in too many things and my income is not supporting it. Especially since two of them (a 3DS and a camera) do not come cheap. I have a rule where I don’t buy a new game system until my old one is completely trashed and inoperable, but I haven’t touched my DS Lite in forever. Yeah, I’m that far behind in the DS systems. The 3DS I’m eyeing, though, is a steal. I’m tempted to alert the person and tell them I’ll take it, but they have to mail it to me. I’m also 100% willing to pay for shipping because that person lives past Provo and I don’t have a car. The camera is my roommate’s. I’m probably also going to buy all the accessories she has with it, if that’s included. I just have to see what she has. I know for a fact I want the lenses.

I also created another blog for my hobbies! So this blog will exclusively be for my thoughts and little updates. The other blog is called Penumbra. There isn’t much on there, but it’ll come together and highlight my artsy pursuits.

Introspection

So today was a frisbee today. Every Friday! And I actually got beat today. First time I took that many hits in one game. I ended up getting hit in the head with the frisbee (because my own teammate kicked it and it hit me) and I ran into someone while trying to block. That guy was dense. Hitting him was like hitting a stone wall. I’ve been limping around because my left leg hurts and I know I’m going to get a bruise later. I’ve run into/been tackled by two guys before, but this was something else. However, it was fun. I pushed myself past what I thought possible (running on my hurt leg) every once in a while. Today is the day I’ve been doing what I didn’t think I could do.

I went grocery shopping with Jonathan because I needed to pick up more granola bars and Gatorade for when I decided to pull a swimming-then-frisbee day. And I actually got to articulate my thoughts.

I found that how I interact with specific people will depend on the situation I first meet them. If I talk to people and the situation is uncomfortable, I’m less likely to try talking to them again. But if it’s a good environment and it’s easy for me to talk to them, I’m more likely to talk to them and consider them a friend. I told Jonathan that I have horrible social skills- something he never would’ve suspected because I’m talkative. The thing is, I’m shy with people I don’t know. Once I get to know a person, I become loud and friendly. I told him I’m almost positive the frisbee guys are helping me be more outgoing. There were a few people I likely would’ve never bothered to talk to if it hadn’t been for frisbee because they weren’t the people I would’ve talked to normally.

Here’s a funny story: Apparently, usually when a girl’s invited, she comes, sees there are no other girls, then don’t show up again. He expected the same from me. Show up, never show up again. It was a surprise to him I kept coming back. (Honestly, I’ve hung out with guys a lot. I like hanging out with guys.) And according to Jonathan, it’s not me that looks scary. I’ve get this aura about me that is scary. Which rocks in a variety of situations.

For the longest time, I’ve held the belief I’m an unlikeable person. Whenever I express surprise that someone likes me, it’s genuine surprise. But I’m starting to feel more and more accepted. First with my dorm friends, now with the frisbee guys. Here’s a situation: A week or two ago, Jonathan had said we were going to split up into teams without flipping (flipping is the usual method of picking teams). The team of four got me, then there was a team of five. One of the guys, Forrest, said, “Pft, no, I want to be on Jess’ team.” Which made me think, “Wait, why? I can’t do anything!” But in retrospect, I liked that, because it made me feel like I was likeable even though I sucked. I don’t really suck at frisbee. I’m a decent defender. But when you’ve had low self-esteem for a long time, it’s hard to think, “Hey, people like me!”

When I mentioned all this to Jonathan, he was surprised. He didn’t know that the frisbee club could have that kind of impact on someone. It has on me. As I mentioned in this post, I hate missing frisbee. Not only does it help me release a lot of accumulated nervous energy and a lot of accumulated anxiety, but it and the people help me a lot.

I’m really grateful I’m going to university where I am. I’ve met a ton of people who are helping me get over my fears and anxieties, even if they don’t know it. I’m extremely grateful to everyone I’ve met. I may not have the widest social circle, but the social circles I do go among are the best ones I could ask for. A big thank you to them for doing so much, even if you aren’t aware of it. All of my dorms friends, lifeguarding coworkers, and frisbee buddies. They’re all awesome.

 

It’s been an odd day

That’s all I can say.

I’d write about it, but the internet doesn’t want to hear about my problems.

Something I complained about half-light-heatedly and half-seriously: My boss scheduled me to work all day next week Thursday. I’m going to bring enough food for an army and a lot to do.

I’m also looking forward to the Utah Arts Festival in two weeks. I think it’ll be a blast.

Summer must be the time for change

I’ve recently started wanting to do a lot of things I never had the desire (or strong desire) to do before.

Learn to dance.
Go hiking.
Hang out with friends.
Is it because I’ve got a ton of free time now? No restraints? Or is it because I’ve got great friends who are willing to do these things with me?
My friends from my dorm last year showed compassion and kindness when I had my problem back in… January? February? It seems like ages ago, truthfully. They showed they cared. That I could confide in others. It’s okay to.
After saying “pft, nah, I’m too tired” several times during spring, I finally went to the frisbee club on campus for summer. Why did I say I was too tired? I had played volleyball just before it. And sometimes, I just didn’t feel it. But I finally went, because I had free time and I was curious. I warned my friend and those there, “I can’t throw. I can kind of catch. Not sure how much help I’ll be.” They said it’s okay. I had such a blast that first day I went back. And kept going back, every Friday and Sunday, because the people there- those I already know and the people I don’t- are cool. They’re a community.
One day we played in the rain. It was awesome. Also, it was cold. But mostly awesome.
The people in frisbee helped bring out the extrovert in me, I’m almost positive. That first day, I spoke to complete strangers with ease. That rarely happens. I’m proving myself and I don’t need to put forth effort. It just happens. I showed I’m tough. It came from playing with no one but boys for three years. I was a tomboy and still kind of am. I can take a hit. Take karate for 4+ years with nothing but guys (there was a girl  for a few months every once in a while), and you learn to take a hit fast. I gained a reputation in my karate class for being a fierce grappler. It got to the point where no one would want to spar or grapple with me. I’ve also got a mean kick. Two of the funniest moments I remember was caused by three people- me, my brother, and a guy named Tyler. I’ll elaborate on that some time.
That was a tangent. Point is, the frisbee guys make me feel at ease and make me feel that I can be myself. For once, I don’t feel bad I look scary (that’s another story). It helps in frisbee. And so does perseverance. Let me tell you, frisbee helps me burn off a lot of extra energy. A few times, I’ve gone swimming just before frisbee and still had the energy to run around, block, and yell. I’ve got a lot of energy these days, and I’ve got an acceptable medium to use it. To tell the truth, I look forward to frisbee every week. I’m hate missing it. The one time I thought I’d miss it because of work and a photography assignment, I expressed my dislike of it to Jonathan (the aforementioned friend). Turns out I didn’t miss it because not enough people could come to my photography assignment. Doesn’t matter, because everyone at frisbee is an awesome subject.
As for hiking… That came out with my dorm friends from last year. Our friend was going on a mission and we decided to go on a hike. I deliberately did not ask how difficult it was, because if I knew, I would’ve balked. It’s a good thing I didn’t ask. We were climbing, not hiking. I’d never gone on a hike before. I also have a fear of heights in certain situations, and that was one of those situations. After telling my friends, they helped me up the mountain, then back down. I got scratched up, abused by rocks, and felt sick several times, but I made it.
And it was amazing.
 
I hated hiking. Now, as long as I’m with friends, it’s enjoyable. I’m not going to go on that particular hike within the next month or so (I couldn’t swim for a week, everything was sore), I’m willing to go with people when they say, “Hey, I’m going on a hike.” I find I want to start a group hike. I’m actually going to go on a sunset hike a little later. I actually started this one.
All this leads me to think… I’m going to be a Resident Adviser for first year Honors students in a few months. A couple of months ago, I kept joking, “I’m going to be the worst RA, I’m so shy, I hate meeting new people and talking to people,” and so on. Now, I feel like I can be a good RA. I’m willing to meet new people, willing to talk. Good timing, am I right?
Summer must be the time for change. I feel good about myself. I feel like me. I can express myself and for every person that doesn’t like me, I’ve someone who does.
It’s an awesome feeling.