On Feeling Like a Hipster

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There’s something about being a post baccalaureate student which inspires certain conflicting feelings. I’m sitting at a coffee shop (an independent store–not Starbucks or any other chain), writing for a blog, drinking tea for once, and surrounded by my own swarm of apple products and other *insert mocking tone* “necessities.”
I feel like I ought to have a cigarette. I don’t smoke, but for some reason a Marlboro Light or an American Spirit just sounds appropriate. I’m not sure when I started channeling my inner hipster. She’s been piping up lately, dressed in flannel and academia, although so far I haven’t let slip a, “You’ve probably never heard of this.”
I know that the hipster style isn’t nearly as trendy as it was six months ago but I can’t help myself! I find the mentality…dare I say…relatable. It’s not about the anti-conformity buzz, the alternative lifestyle, or the down-with-big-business rallying point. I’m none of these things. What I am is inexplicably excited that hipsters made being nerdy cool. Imagine! Now my peers want to discuss nutrition, American nonfiction literature, and political conflicts abroad. I spent years in high school getting laughed at and teased because words like “vernacular” are normal to me, but now, it suddenly seems to be a selling point.
What do you find attractive in a companion? I would never claim that superficiality has been laid to rest (it hasn’t) but in this moment, maybe people will see someone’s mind as sexy and not just their figure. As far as I’m concerned, this trend is welcome to its full and glorious ride.

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Drug of Choice

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Hands1I’ve been trying to come up with a way to articulate what climbing is to me in a manner that remains distinct from countless other renditions of why people love their sport. It’s true that rock climbing has long been one of my favorite activities, but lately it’s been so much more. I pursue that overly warm and dark space near the gym’s ceiling like a wolf retreats to her den. That flutter of the heart on every draw while lead climbing which blots out every other thought or concern. Most of my climbing is done in gyms these days. It lacks the courtship with Nature, but still, those lofty warehouses full of chalk dust and dangling vines have become my church. I need climbing like I need religion—or a fix.

My technique warps and squirms, becoming symptomatic of the events in my life. When I’m feeling timid or tired, the movements that bring me higher on the face are careful and compact. When I’m angry or euphoric, the motions become dynamic so that I feel as though I’m ascending in far-flung pulls—stretching my limbs to test whether or not my stature has changed since the last time I put on my shoes and harness. The final and perhaps the best of my experiences happens when some fortunate grace has touched me with the pervasion of calm. In these moments I feel perfectly grounded, centered, and whole. The motion feels just as lateral as it is vertical. I don’t know what it looks like from the ground—only that it feels quiet and powerful. Climbing at its best relieves us of our humanity. It skins off the distraction and emotion and becomes a pristine sequence of contraction and elongation. Moving meditation.

I’ve felt similarly in other environments—although for me they were similar but to a lesser extent. While practicing yoga sometimes, and more commonly, in the studio where I used to fight in the evenings. I have yet to discover why my most mentally restorative experiences take companionship in bodily strain. Perhaps it’s because I lack the discipline to tame my demons without physical confrontation.

The chalk rains from freshly dipped hands like fairy dust. It floats elegantly, spinning and resting in the streak of sun through the skylight. My gaze moves away, surging upward over the expanse of overhung wall and rhythmically spaced holds. Mapping the sequence is done silently. I know instinctively which reaches my arm span will allow and which I’ll have to be more creative with. The start hold feels smooth and slick—a testament to how many people have begun the route before me. I know that higher up the grittiness will return where others felt overcome. I forcibly relax my grip, and climb.
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Late Night Thoughts on Science and Youth

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I love my genetics class. It’s like sitting in the grownup version of show-and-tell, or story hour. Sometimes I literally bring popcorn. Now that I think about it, my nerdiness has been leaking out more and more lately so I hope you’ll indulge me.

I thought of something today—while the professor was lecturing about the studies and experiments that led to the discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA. How fast our understanding of the natural world has developed! The capacity and capability of our brains, made possible by human evolution, is astounding. In such a short time we’ve gone from simply existing to being able to question both why and HOW we exist. As simple academic truth we teach our children about microorganisms, transmission genetics, and even now we’re breaching the field of uncertainty surrounding genetic therapy and engineering.

These concepts themselves aren’t what caught my attention though. It was the realization that I took all of these facts for granted for so long. As an adolescent, it never occurred to me that someone actually discovered bacteria. I can regurgitate facts about when the use of penicillin was first implemented and yet, in my mind people always knew what I was then being taught. In my mind, those monumental discoveries had happened so long ago that an understanding of contemporaneous life predating them was unfathomable.

But those historical events aren’t lost to the recesses of history texts. They weren’t really that long ago—but as a child and even as a teenager, my understanding of what constitutes “a long time” completely undermined the credit due to all those brilliant minds.

All of the finesse and incredible progress related to the super-subject of SCIENCE seemed static to me. Microbiology, biochemistry, genetics—all of these were like stagnant pools from which a parade of teachers, professors, and doctors drew quantifiable cups to be dumped upon the heads of their students. The epiphany seems insultingly obvious now. We ought to think of science like prolific tides that ebb and swell—a composition that could change with a simple sigh of understanding from any laboratory on Earth.

To a twenty-two-year-old, fresh out of undergraduate studies, fifty years feels immeasurable. As a young adult I’m trying to understand the speed with which scientific innovation and examination occurs and has occurred. A relatively brief stretch that I recognize will only seem faster as I personally amass more life, more time in which I can contextualize the events of the world. The speed is already dizzying, especially with the recent supreme court decision regarding Myriad Genetics Inc. How many Americans realize that up until two weeks ago, June 12th 2013, entire genes within the depths of their genetic material, the fundamental code that functions as the operating system for all life on Earth, were patented?

When I’m sixty, there will be new discoveries. Ones that I witnessed as they were born and then grew in confidence and certainty. Ones that will seem novel and infinitely illuminating even though their truth was always present. Discoveries that my children will take for granted, swimming in their own stagnant pools and unable to understand what life would have been like before we knew.

NaNoWriMo is Over and December Finally Approaches

Obviously, I’ve only written about half of the book so far. But as far as the good people at National Novel Writing Month are concerned, I finally made it.  Thank you everyone who had been so supportive and/or demanding of my posting. I promise I’m about to hit you with more soon (I admit to straying into writing in random scenes once more as the deadline came crashing down). Once more, you all rock.
Much <3,
Sarah
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Guest Appearance by Mutiny Mama

Good evening to those in North America and good day/night/fill-in-correct-time-of-day to everyone else abroad,

For those of you kind enough to indicate excitement, the time has come for our first guest author to make an appearance. Mutiny Mama has an adorable little blog you can find at http://mutinymama.wordpress.com/. She’s got a wonderful flare for the subtly (and occasionally not-so-subtle) humor, and a refreshing perspective on daily life and the endeavors of motherhood. 

Cheers and please enjoy!
Sarah

Red shoes and regret . . .

A pair of red shoes occupies one corner of my desk. Amidst a sea of papers, a changing guard of pens and pencils and an ever-growing tower of books that simply must be read – these shoes are the one and only constant.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, they were my very best shoes. Red patent leather, a delicate punch hole trim and shiny, silver buckles – they were everything the perfect shoe should be.

If those shoes were lined up alongside my outfit for the day, I knew something special was on the cards.

But there came a day when those much-loved shoes lost a little of their sheen.

It was the late-1970s. I was three years old and living in an age of innocence . . . or so my mother thought.

On this particular day – I think it was summer – the red shoes were strapped onto my feet and we set off on a grand adventure . . . to the library.

“Ah,” I hear you gasp. Yes, it was a very special playgroup outing – no paint-stained dungarees, over-sized hand-me-downs or miss-matched socks that day. No, sir-ee. This was a day for wearing what was ‘best’.

We arrived at the library and were greeted at the front gate not by a middle-aged, be-spectacled woman urging us to be quiet, but by a workman, trowel in hand and covered in cement splatter. It seems the council was pouring new paths at the library and the warning was clear. “Keep off the fresh cement”.

That was all it took to plant the seed that would grow into this tale.

We were ushered inside. I hate to admit it today, but I was already bored. I remember spying a Miffy book up high on a spinning rack but after repeated attempts to reach it and no help forth-coming, I gave up and trudged back outside.

You know what happened next.

Yes, I made a long line of footprints in the brand new path.

But, curiously and most notably, I didn’t get into trouble.

The workman was so concerned about the damage to my shiny, red shoes that he whisked me out of the grey mire and swiftly deposited me under a tap.

Mum was horrified, but ever so grateful for his thoughtfulness.

It was the general consensus that I was far too young to understand what I’d done wrong. It was an innocent mistake. No permanent harm done.

But today, those shoes tell a slightly different tale. To me, at least.

The leather has cracked, the red has worn through and the silver buckles no longer shine quite like they used to.

As they sit upon my desk, they’re a reminder of that long ago age of innocence when I knew more than I let on and enjoyed a brief spell of life without consequences.

Perhaps that’s why I still love red shoes to this day.

Keep Writing Keep Writing Keep Writing

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Hey ya’ll the first part of Chapter 8 is up. I’ll admit that I’m finding this writing chronologically stuff a bit tedious lately. I’ve been considering reverting to writing scene by scene all over the place for a while. Then maybe I can ensure that a little more is happening. Let me know what you think?

Oh and by the way, Coal Creek and Powder Ridge are real places. Colt Buckman is a real person too (Perhaps a bit of several people, but vastly influenced by one in particular) Here’s a picture of the actual town that Coal Creek is based on :) I’d add Colt in too, but that’d would definitely be pushing my luck.

Cheers,
Sarah

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