Tuesday, October 25, 2011

all that's gold does not glitter

All the laughter, all the pain, all the birthing and living and dying and glory, all our stories, without exception, are given dignity by God's awareness and concern. --Madeliene L'Engle

It's been a beautiful birthday. It started off with a delightful little party-planning session at my friend's apartment.

[Aside: We were planning a Disney Princess Party. That's right, folks. I'm in college, and I'm celebrating my birthday princess style. Please don't make that weird. It's not. Disney Princesses are the best thing that ever happened to me. In fact, they landed me my summer job. When I went into the office to turn in my acceptance paperwork, I learned that I've already been labeled as "the Disney Princess." It would be untruthful of me to say that my soul was not overflowing with utter joy.]

So, be that as it may, we finished our party-planning, and sat down to watch Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which she had to watch for a class. I love old movies, but you definitely have to be in the mental mood for them. As soon as the opening credits roll, you have to tell yourself: I am going to watch this movie, enjoy it, and appreciate the complex themes and artistry. I will! I will! But if you neglect to tell yourself that, then you'll probably fall asleep. Which I did, in record time. I wake up roughly 45 minutes later, a few minutes after midnight, and as I sleepily opened my eyes, I noted a familiar face. Then another. And another. And then a whole bunch of smiling, happy faces of friends. And then my friend who was hosting these shenanigans popped up at my elbow with a cookie cake (I adooooore cookie cake.)! And everyone laughed and talked and hugged and laughed and chatted and laughed for a good solid hour. It was finna marvelous. And definitely the absolute perfect way to start my birthday.

Furthermore, today was absolutely beautiful. The sun was out, the weather was perfect to a T. I started the morning right by skyping a dear friend from back home, then I rushed to poetry class. Poetry class was phenomenal. I closed my eyes at some points and just let the words of Shelley's Alastor soak into my skin. Then sometimes I listened to our professor talk and talk and thought: "What a blessing it is to be at this University. How lucky I am to be able to study." How ridiculously, utterly blessed I am to be able to study the beautiful poetic works of geniuses. We forget too easily that we're lucky that we know how to read, much less know algebra or calculus, or that type of thing. We're so blessed that we get to study at a University, where we can discuss thoughts and ideas and educate our hearts and our minds. We are so blessed. And I'm so blessed to be here. It's not a place for doing. It's a place for being. For being alive.

Birthdays are wonderful, because they are the days you simply celebrate the very fact that you're breathing. And every little thing that happens is a celebration. That's why birthdays are such happy days. I think it's nearly impossible to have a bad day. (Unless you're thirteen and at a highly sensitive time of the lunar cycle and your mom decides that your birthday is the perfect day to get the carpets cleaned, thus you are kicked out of the house for the afternoon. You may spend a good solid hour of that birthday sobbing your poor little eyes out in the minivan in the garage. Those are rough times. Thankfully, thirteen does not last forever. Also, thankfully teenagerhood does not last forever. It's so nice to be twenty, and have completely risen above partaking in hormonal temper tantrums. HA.)

But here are little birthday happinesses that added up to an amazing day:

First off: the weather was perfect to a t. It was my favorite kind: a little chilly, but bright and sunny and super autumnal. Secondly, our group leader from GoL accepted my friend request on Facebook. That may or may not have been a highlight of my day. I love her. Thirdly, I got birthday lunch with my dorm older/twin sister and birthday dinner with my real older/twin sister. Both meals were fantastic and marvelous and they made me so happy that I have these gorgeous and incredible women in my life. One gift I take for granted is how completely amazing all the women in my life are. Take my mom, for instance: My mom defies description. I've always taken her for granted (sorry, Mom) but when I tell people "Oh yeah, so she did ballet in NYC, then got her Masters in Engineering from Rice, and now has six kids and homeschooled them all. Runs a local ballet company's costume department and is completely BA." Their jaws drop, "So she's basically Superwoman?" I mean, yeah. She takes "stay-at-home mom" to a new level. And then there are all the beautiful ladies who have taught me what it means to be an artist, a woman of God, a fighter, a leader, a listener, a sister, a servant, a friend. So thankful for them all. Fourthly, my dorm big sister gave me a little book of Jane Austen quizzes and puzzles. Such a simple gift, but it meant worlds to me. It's so beautiful to have people who know you so well, who know your loves and your likings and your favorite things. Plus, it was Jane Austen. Anything to do with Jane Austen is great in my book. Fifthly, I got to Skype and call dear friends from back home. I was sitting by the library, talking with my little marmoset on the phone, and the wind swept up all the autumn leaves and blew them around. And it was one of those precious moments where you think: There is absolutely nowhere I would rathe be right now. And there's absolutely nothing I'd rather be doing. And there's no one else I'd like to be with. It's just such a very satisfying and cozy feeling. It's a pumpkin pie moment.

Finally, I went to Mass last night, and that concluded my birthday. I fell asleep studying studying with a friend. And that was my birthday.

It was perfect. #winning.

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