Tuesday 30 September 2008

We Live as We Dream

Alone. Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, said this. After a month of bullshitting my way through this novel, it seems unlikely that I would volunterily discuss this man, or anything having to do with him. This quote, however, has gotten to me a bit.

When I first read it, the naive, hopeful side of me instantly thought against it. Of course we aren't alone, we're all together! I immediately rejected the thought that our lives are lonely paths. As for the dreaming? Well, sure we dream alone. I never really thought much of dreaming... you can barely remember any of it, anyways.

However, Conrad doesn't mean that we live as remote islands. He means that our journey through life is one that we only completely share with ourselves. He means that, in every experience, the main event isn't the only thing that matters - every sight, taste, feeling we have adds to our experience. We are the only ones who will have that exact experience - those exact feelings.

Have you ever had a dream you couldn't describe? It felt so significant to you... but you can't explain it well to anyone. No matter what, no one understands what you experienced, or what you were feeling. You were the only one there, and while you may come close, no one else will ever have that. Last night I had a dream that Ian was killed by a flock of birds. (1) Nine of them stabbed him in the heart. You can understand the jist of the dream, but you can't understand the little, tiny details that surrounded it, and made that dream exactly what it was. I can't explain them to you, both because I don't remember and there's too much to describe.

I dreamt that dream alone, and so it's solely mine. That's how we live life - although others may be there, and go through the same things right next to us... each experience is completely different. You can see a movie with a friend and enjoy it, while they detest it. Same event, different experiences.

So, we live alone. This isn't depressing - obviously we can be surrounded by friends, and be close to them. This is really quite a beautiful thing. It's the only thing that you will ever completely own yourself, something you will never have to, or be able to, share with anyone. That's your unique experience of life; It's the exact feelings you have, the little details in your life that melt into one. Conrad experienced something that most of us never will - he saw, first hand, the colonization of Africa. He saw men go mad, and a continent exploited. Other people were there, but no one else experienced it exactly like he did. An attempt to describe this experience as fully as possible, using language, became Heart of Darkness. (2)

Maybe you're one of those people who keep things to yourself... or maybe you're like me. I try to explain everything that happens to me to anyone who will listen, it seems. This probably annoys others and sometimes even annoys myself. However, I do take comfort in knowing that no matter how much I talk, no matter how much I "vent" (3), there will always be somethings that no one else will really know, and that's my unique experience of life.

1. Ironically, Ian had a dream that SAME night that I died in a car accident! This is the second time we have had dreams about each other dying on the same night!
2. Oh and thank God, because what the hell would I do if I couldn't read HOD?
3. Kudos to Jordan Fleming, who listens to me complain about EVERYTHING almost nightly.

Monday 29 September 2008

Eleven Days

11 since my last post. I could probably come up with something to write a nice piece about, but I'm not really in that mood. I feel obligated to post something, though, so here's what's up.

I've been pretty much completely booked every minute of every day lately. Mondays and Wednesdays are band (except tonight), Tuesdays are xc meets, Fridays are often football games/spaghetti dinners, and Saturdays are XC invites, Marching Band competitions, weddings!, SATs, or a combination of these. Thursdays are usually free after practice, with the exception of Always Sunny in Philadelphia on at 10 pm. Sundays are free, too, but usually end up getting filled with a trip to Batavia, or somewhere with mom, or a NHS walk this weekend.
When I find a spare half hour, I try to make the boys soccer games.

On top of this, I've got quite a bit of work to do - AP Calc, AP English, PIG (which is actually no work), Latin, and soon-to-be AP Psych. I just got done recording a book for Mrs. B for community service. It was Ashes of Roses, and I forgot how much it completely sucks. Latin Club has been getting into full-swing... we're making Roman Bullae! They're pretty authentic... we also have to sew them. Which I have no time for.

I'm also trying to read Catch-22 for outside reading. I'm on page four, and so far it's fantastic!

As my room progressively gets messier, my mother progressively gets more pissed off, and that hasn't been working out too well.

And finally, the things I won't specifically mention in this blog - the many, many interesting problems, crises, and challenges all of my friends seem to be facing at the moment. It adds a lovely little layer of stress and devastation to my already gloomy life.

I hardly have time for Loretta any more, let alone my saxophone solo - Scaramouche! (will you do the fandango?). Oh oh OH, and how could I forget -this lovely stack of papers in front of me, papers that will soon be sent to people who will decide my very fate - got to love college applications. The upside is, I have my social security number totally memorized!

But the good news is - Fall is here. October is a few days away. I get to see everybody multiple times a day. Apples are all over my house, it seems. The leaves are changing, Halloween decorations are up (IN OUR KICKASS BAND LOCKER), and really, this is the best time of year.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

The Benefits of Blogging

As you may have read, I've been extremely busy applying to colleges. This process, of course, includes college essays (wooo hoo!). I tried to write a few on Word, but it felt strange. I tried to write one by hand, but kept getting distracted because it was going so slowly. Seeing as most of my blogs could qualify as college essays (if edited, perhaps), I decided to write possible essays on here, post them, and then decide which ones I actually want to risk my future on.

So in the next few weeks, there will be a number of college essays on here, that I will of course identify. Feedback would be wonderful... Meaning, if you think one of them was horrible, you might want to let me know, so Boston U doesn't think the same.

If you don't feel like leaving comments, you can e-mail me at molly.eadie@gmail.com .

College Essay #1 about leadership, because colleges eat that up.

I had been called "a leader" before, but I never really felt like one. Teachers, coaches, and other adults love to throw that word around. I had been an officer for countless school clubs: Spanish club, Band Council, Chorus Council, Literary Club, and so on, but the term "leadership" never had a clear definition to me.

As drum major of the marching band, I have an endless list of responsibilities. Go find the flutes; make copies of this music; get the band formed in their marching block; start music warm-ups; find a drumstick. Even after conducting the band through warm-ups by myself, I still wasn't sure I felt like a leader. Everyone was watching me for the beat, I was telling them exactly what to do... but to me, that didn't feel like leading.

It was a few months ago, during warm-ups, when I saw some saxophone rookies struggling. Seeing my former section lacking the focus and confidence to succeed sparked something in me - perhaps leadership. Quickly, I ran over to them, and gave them a pep talk. "Stand up straight, chin up. Try not to wobble when you mark time. Play out, even if the notes are wrong. March as if a judge is criticizing your every move."

As I said it, I was worried I had become too much of a "bad cop". This is, I believe, the challenge of being a leader; you have to find a nice middle ground. If I yelled at the band whenever they made a mistake, they would never listen. Alternatively, letting too many mistakes go would not motivate the band, and they would not improve. With this in mind, I flashed them a kind smile, hoping they wouldn't have ill feelings towards me.

Judging by their performance afterwards, they were not at all bothered by my criticism; in fact, it was almost as if they wanted it. I found myself on a bit of a flaw-correcting spree that evening - reminding them to practice discipline, challenging the winds to improve their posture, even scolding a few young, chatty clarinets. To my surprise, no one disliked me for it. A certain focus spread across the band, and the rehearsal that night was fantastic. Surely our success was not completely my doing, but I had realized that I have a real power and influence in the band. I already knew that so many of them looked up to me; I didn't realize that using this power and influence was nothing to be afraid of. When I had finally stopped second-guessing myself, I was able to contribute to the band in a huge way; this, after all, is the reason I became Drum Major. Five years of this activity had given me a sense of pride, work ethic, determination, discipline, and a love of music. As Drum Major, it's my responsibility to make sure every member of the group has this same experience, and can find all of these qualities, in the activity I love so much. Hopefully, I can spead that passion to the young members of the band; Maybe, years from now, those rookies can hand down that passion, that determination, to kids I will never even meet.

Sunday 14 September 2008

There's more than one answer to these questions, pointing in a crooked line...

The following is more a series of frantic, stressed questions, than an actual blog. You will learn practically nothing from this; you will only become confused, and possibly overwhelmed and stressed out as well.

As I register for the October SAT's, I am asked ONE question: Where do you want to send your scores?
Thus, the chain of questions begins:
Obviously, you would want to pick the top schools you are interested in.
So I figure, alright, Binghamton is one.
Wait, no, because Binghamton does not require Subject Tests, so why send them?
..Because they look at them, and it can help you get in.. or money.
But why send them to Binghamton, who does not require them, when Boston University and Boston College, who are more competitive, do require the subject tests?
What about Emerson College, who only has a communications program? Do I really want to go there? What if I change my major and have to transfer? Could I still get into BC or BU (meaning Boston University, not Binghamton University, or University at Buffalo... both of which I am also looking at)?
Should I also send my scores to Hamilton? Would I really want to go to a small-town school like that? They are near Utica (which has a brewery that the Dropkick Murphys have performed at), and I could still do internships and study abroad in a city.
What about Ithaca? It seems perfect for me... but it's not in Boston.
What if I get to Boston and I hate living in a city?
Maybe I should just shoot for Providence, afterall, I loved it there... and there are two bars on campus.
Brown is also in Providence, and now that I no longer want to major in Anthropology, I could look into that...
What if I bomb these subject tests?
What tests am I even going to take?
Do I really know my algebra that well?
Am I analytical enough to succeed on the literature test?
Does the score really matter much, or just the fact that I took them?
Should I retake the SAT I's in December, to up my scores, so I have a better shot at Boston U or BC? Would my scores really improve much? ...They've already gone up 110 points since I first took them.
Damn XC sectionals, I want to take them in November!!!
Why am I going through all this, when I will most likely go to Binghamton?- cheap, solid education, tons of options.
...But it's not in Boston.
Am I being naive thinking Boston is the place for me? Do I only want to go there because of the large Irish-American population? I found a college on the same street as the pub owned by the Dropkick Murphy's lead singer...
What am I going to write my essays on? I'm not too worried about that. As so often demonstrated in this blog, I am a bomb-ass writer.
Why won't this common app download on my computer?
Why can't I be a minority??? or poor?? They are never going to give me money.
Speaking of money, I need to use all of mine to buy a laptop... or a truck, that I won't be able to use in a year at most schools.
Thank God I am taking AP Psych, it makes me look so much more impressive.
So does being drum major, and xc captain, and band council VP... I should just write that all over my application.
"Why do you want to come to Boston U?"
"I'm drum major and xc captain."
"What major do you intend to study?"
"I'm drum major and xc captain."
I should lie in my essay. I should write about how I saved starving orphans from a natural disaster in a thirdworld country... they will never know!
Why won't my parents just do what I tell them - get a legal separation? No one will ever know, they just need to do the paper work, and colleges will be paying me to go!!

I hate this college application process... but I cannot wait to go to college.

In the process of writing this, I did not actually decide where I want to send my SAT Subject Test Scores. I will probably just pick a few out of a hat.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Low Lie the Fields of Athenry

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young girl calling
Micheal they are taking you away
For you stole Trevelyn's corn
So the young might see the morn.
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when your free,
Against the Famine and the Crown
I rebelled; they cut me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity.

Low lie the Fields of Athenry
Where once we watched the small free birds fly.
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

By a lonely harbor wall
She watched the last star falling
As that prison ship sailed out against the sky
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray
For her love in Botany Bay
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.

This is one of the most famous Irish folk songs. If you are Irish, you have probably heard it. These heartbreaking lyrics tell the story of a father who steals food to feed his starving children during the famine. For those of you who don't know, the famine wasn't a distaster soley because Ireland's fields failed to produce any food... it was a horrible crime against the Irish. The English would sell Ireland's produce to other countries, leaving almost only potatoes for the Irish to live on. The Irish were not so lucky then, when their main source of sustinence failed to grow in the "black" year of 1847. The song specificially talks about a man who stole corn imported from America to feed his family... and as a result, was sent to Australia, like the other Irish and Scottish criminals of the time. Sadly, these events were somewhat common for this time in Ireland.

There is nothing happy about this song, really, except for the mention of happier past times. However, it always provides me with hope in tough times. On one hand, no matter what you're going through, it's probably not as bad as your husband getting sent to Australia forever after attempting feed your starving baby... which you now have to raise on your own, in a country that is suffering agricultural, economical, and political troubles. Few stories are that sad, and sometimes it makes your problems seem much easier to deal with.

It's more than that though. The characters in this song deal with some tough breaks... and so does everybody. To me, this song kind of represents an "everybody hurts" idea. Although Mary and Michael deal with some rough things, everyone has some, if not many, tough breaks in their lives. It might not be as dramatic, but I know sometime I have situations in my life that seem unsolvable, and will never really be resolved. All you can do is stand back, look at it, and think, "wow, that sucks". Mary and Micheal couldn't do anything about their problems but cope with them, and sometimes you can't either. As much as we'd like to think that there's a solution to every problem, there isn't. Sometimes you just have to let situations go - sometimes it's just a lost cause. No matter how much Mary cries, Micheal isn't coming back. She could sulk about her tough breaks, or she could keep living. She has a child to raise, and she's going to raise it with dignity, despite what she's been through. This isn't giving up hope, or giving in, or taking the easy way out. This is being mature enough to recognize sometimes there just isn't anything you can do.

It's nice to know this is a timeless tale. This is a universal thing - everyone has these problems that seem to suck beyond imagination. Heartbreak, disappointment, loss... it's all part of being human. I like to think that if I saw Mary, she wouldn't tell me to suck it up, because her problems are worse. She'd nod, because she knows what it's like to have something go horribly wrong. So next time you think things are just going terribly for you, well, I'm not going to tell you "things will get better!" or "things could always get worse!" or "look on the bright side!" because sometimes there is no bright side. Just know, that it's something we're all united in - utter disappointment. It's something everyone has experienced. If nothing else positive comes from that, at least it unites us.

To Give Less than Your Best is to Sacrifice the Gift.

Most XC runners will tell you that they like the simplicity of the sport. It's not decked out with fancy skills you need to possess, or crazy rules and regulations or overtimes. You don't have to worry about being first string or second string or whatever. You just run as fast as you can for 5K, or 3.1 miles. That's pretty much it.

Although others might not see it this way, most XC runners feel it is the sport of all sports. It's the ultimate work out. It's pure effort. The score of any soccer, football, or baseball game does not always reflect your personal effort. Your XC time is a measurement of exactly how hard you pushed that day. The only excuse for a slightly worse time is a slightly tougher course (1). In XC, you have a decision everytime you get on the starting line: to run somewhat hard, or run as hard as you can. If you don't decide ahead of time to give every single ounce of energy you have, to push until it hurts more than it has before, then you don't win.

Winning in XC is not as black and white as with other sports. Personally, to me, the score means almost nothing. I think the unspoken goal of Cross Country is to give so much energy, so much effort, that at the end, you have literally no life left in you. Yes, I believe that in a crazy, twisted sense, the only true way to win an XC race is to actually die as you cross the finish line. (2) If you're still alive, you did not try hard enough. If you can talk a minute after the race, you certainly were not putting enough effort out. If you can comprehend anything anyone is saying for an hour afterward, you need to push more next time.

So every race we try to push a little harder, hurt a little more, and get ourselves a little closer to dying. Ironically, nothing can make you feel more alive. The blood is rushing through your veins faster than it ever has. Your heart is pounding out of control. Your lungs are totally freaking out, and you are soaked with sweat. The result is this crazy, natural, runner's high. Literally, you get high. The endorphins (3) rush to your head and all of a sudden Jack's shoes make you crack up histerically, or Jake's candy bars that he bought become so incredibly interesting that you don't know what to do with yourself. To share this with a group of people you care about is amazing. It's the reason I do cross country; there is nothing like stretching with a bunch of girls I love after pushing our bodies to the limit and getting high in the process. We sit around talking about everything... about Casey's creepy boyfriends (4,5), about Coach L (6), sometimes we plan our weddings (7). I find it hard to believe I will ever be as close to a group of people as I am with my team.

I raced about three hours ago now. Let me tell you, not every XC runner is in it to push themself. There is nothing. NOTHING. that pisses me off more than girls who walk during races. Slow, out of shape girls are one thing... but this girl was in front of me. She clearly was not totally out of shape, she was just lazy. Every uphill she would walk, put her hands over her head, lift her singlet a bit because it was apparently too hot out for her. I'd push hard up the hill, catch up to her, pass her... and then the bitch would sprint the downhill. There is more. We run down a massive hill that an ampitheatre is located on... and she apparently could not wait to pass me at any other point in the race. It had to be then. Because this freak sprinted down the hill, and would you believe it, hurdles the benches on the hill to pass me. Her foot catches on one of the benches but she didn't fall*. She made this crazy grunt as she did it too, and it freaked me out. All of a sudden, on this already crazy down hill, someone is freaking flying at me over a bunch of benches. What the frick. Honestly. Cross country hurdles??? Go play soccer. Crazy freakin' stunts are not part of this sport.(8)

I'm extremely proud to say that I did end up beating her by about a minute - which is a pretty good distance. Let me say, though - had she passed me at the end, I still would have considered it a win. To walk during the race is not running this sport. It's not something you can be proud of, ever. I'm glad to say that, although I did not get that Hornell girl or the Notre Dame girl, I will not lose any sleep tonight. I ran my race, I didn't walk it. Also, L is way proud of me, and that's pretty much my unspoken goal of any race.

1. L is officially Satan, as the course he made for this year suuuuucks.
2. Dying before you cross the finish line also constitutes a win, however, it is much less dramatic.
3. Casey found out that there is a real, chemical reason why you get high in races a few days ago, and won't stop talking about it.
4. Most of which were picked up during XC pre-race runthroughs.
5. These relationships are occasionally used to obtain useful information about other teams we compete with.
6. We love him.
7. Often involving the girls team as bridesmaids, and one of the boys team as a groom.
8. Although I think now that Eddie is doing this, crazy stunts may be an everyday occurance.

To anyone who cares. I got my PR Saturday of 28:20, and today I got 29:07 on a much tougher course, and that is wicked awesome for me. Saturday's time was seven minutes faster than the same course three years ago.

Monday 1 September 2008

(I think) I know what I want to do with my life.

It's September 1st- Labor Day. For some, this marks the end of summer. Others regard it as the day on which you must cease wearing white (1). I think it's a great day, because it's when things finally start to feel like fall - my favorite time of year.

Fall is insanely busy for me. Every Saturday is packed with an XC meet, a marching band competition, or both (2). Monday and Wednesday nights are for marching band. Tuesdays are XC meets. Thursdays I sometimes work, and Fridays are football games, spaghetti dinners, or maybe a bonfire. This crazy schedule makes it my favorite time of year though. Nothing comes close to the feeling of accomplishment I get after I finish a race; I have never felt so close to anyone as I do with my girls team. Marching band is probably the most important activity in my life. We are always going above and beyond previous years - we accomplish more and more each year. The immense amounts of hard labor that go into this season certainly turn into really great experiences. Besides that, fall has the best weather. It's not too hot, so you can wear jeans and hoodies or sweaters, but you don't always need a heavy jacket. When you're at football game, or on the band bus home, it's always a tiny bit chilly, and you always have a reason to cuddle with your best friends or whoever you choose. Fall has some good food - corn, Thanksgiving food, apples, pumpkin seeds. Halloween is probably one of my favorite holidays - everyone running around in costumes at night, how much fun is that?

Tonight I was riding my bike home as it was getting dark. It was getting a little chilly, and out on the country roads... a little creepy. I looked at the sky, orange at one end and navy blue at the other, with a flock of geese flying in a perfect V. Tall corn surrounded me in gigantic fields, the smell of which triggered memories of past autumns. It was such a beautiful moment - the beginning of my last fall in high school. I stopped pedaling and coasted as slowly as I could, because I wanted to stay out there as long as possible. It was one of those many moments in which all I could think of is... I need to save this. I need to document this. This moment isn't going to last long enough for me, and I'm going to want to remember how it was right now. It would be a sin to forget this.

The most peculiar feeling came over me. I wanted to paint a picture of it, but I can't draw for shit. I wanted to write a song about it on piano, or violin.. but I felt I could never capture that in a song; I'm not musically inclined enough. Then I remembered what I do to remember things like that. I write. It's my art of choice; clearly, or I would not be writing this blog. Writing is like a puzzle, or a challenge - describe this one idea as clearly as you possibly can using words. Go.

If I were to write about this, and later someone read it, one of two things would happen. They might feel the same thing I felt, practically experience that late night bike ride, or that spontaneous run through the cornfield with Ciera, or the first time marching band won states. They might read it and feel like they were there, and feel the excitement and wonder and passion I felt at those points in time. Or, they might not. They might not really get this. Although that would mean that I was not an efficient writer... It would almost be alright. Because I would read it, and I would remember, and that moment would live forever.

It would be accurate to say that all I want to do is write. I really don't think I even care what I write about, at all. I just want to write. So I think I'll major in communications, maybe go on to do some Journalism. I'm obviously going to change my mind several times in college (3). I'm just really glad that right now I know - or think I know - what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to take an idea, no matter how dull, and express it in the best choice of words possible.

1. Question - can you wear white on Labor Day? How much white constitutes "wearing white"? Who made up this rule, and who cares enough, besides my mother, to follow it?
2. There are three overlapping Saturdays this year. And one wedding.
3. I believe this is my fourth major change, and I have not even yet begun my senior year of high school.