Beaches, hiking and skiing: The active part of California

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A shop near our apartments

When I got to California, I knew I was deep in the land of Hollywood celebrities. An environment focused on outer beauty, fashion, success and other superficial things. But I was surprised to learn that, like every other state, one highlight or landmark does not define the entire place. All of California or even Southern California is not Hollywood. It’s filled with hardworking people, too. People who are living in multi-million dollar mansions and, not far away, people barely getting by on the streets.

I was surprised to find a strong, thriving group of young adults living out their Catholic faith. Growing up in South Carolina, Catholics are a minority, making up barely 5 percent of the population. But here, at least a third of the population identifies as Catholic. Mass was celebrated in more than 30 languages.

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From deep in thought to pulled into conversation: Changing directions like Titanic

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Credit Stephan Gürtler. I like this image because as a representation of being lost in thought, it shows a peacefulness of the experience. Being a deep thinker doesn’t have to mean a chaotic frame of mind or that it’s painful; it can be calming and enjoyable.

I’m a deep thinker. I can get lost in my thoughts very easily. It’s a comfortable place to be. There’s just so much to consider!

I can’t live there permanently, though. There are other people in my life. Yet, it can be challenging to transition from my thoughts to a conversation with someone, especially if I’m being pulled into that conversation. Sometimes I don’t want to leave my bubble. So there may be some deliberate or subconscious resistance, a longing to continue with what I’m doing rather than acknowledging that someone is trying to get my attention.

I feel like this might be a similar experience for someone who is accused of having selective hearing. You’re so absorbed in whatever you’re thinking about, that you lose track of the things around you.

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Night of glory on the basketball court

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As I mentioned before, “D” and I spent a lot of time during the fall semester of junior year meeting up to play basketball. I also continued with my running routine.

To celebrate “D’s” birthday, he gathered 10 friends together to play basketball in the coliseum where our school team played. It was the closest I’d get to playing for college. It was a big court and completely intimidating to walk on that court. While it wasn’t filled with spectators, I was amazed to find that all those empty seats eventually faded into the background and it became like playing on any other court.

I was the only female. It was cool to have a chance to play with the guys. Before we got started, though, I’m sure some of them wondered what I was doing there. Possibly thinking I was intruding on their boys’ night.

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A boy + social awkwardness + missed signals = college regret

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“G” was a guy worth taking a risk on, and I balked. He was easy going, had a contagious laugh and smile, and intelligence with a goofy side. He was shorter than me but somehow in a way that didn’t make it completely weird. I never saw him get angry. He had enough confidence in himself to be attractive without coming across as conceited. And the bonus was he worked well with kids.

So yeah. There wasn’t much of a risk to liking this guy. This didn’t have “bad decision” stamped on it. I just didn’t know how to handle the situation.

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Poem: Questions for My Sister

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I grew up with Andrew, my brother who is two years older, but we have a sister, too. She was stillborn because of umbilical cord complications. She would have been three years older than me.

My parents named her Lauren Elizabeth.

While growing up, I’d often wonder how our family would be different if she were alive. How our relationships would be different. Thinking of how maybe, just maybe, when I felt like I couldn’t confide in anyone else, I probably would have been able to turn to her. Longing for that sisterly advice. I generally got along great with my brother, but there are just some topics you can’t really bring up.

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Why didn’t Cinderella wear Airwalks?

The shoes I had but different colors.

My church was trying to establish a consistent presence with the youth in our parish. There had been a few different leaders/youth ministers over the years but none at the time lasted more than a year. The constant turnover didn’t help with creating stability in the program and keeping interest.

By tenth grade church leaders were trying again, and there was a guy in charge. I remember we had a social event. It must have been an actual dance because there was dancing that night and I can’t imagine dancing just being a small part of the evening rather than the focal point. Anyway, it’s awkward enough to go to dances, but I was trying to push myself and trying to meet people.

Anyway, what I’m sure was intended to be a fun ice breaker ended up having an isolating effect. Wouldn’t it be fun for the girls to leave a shoe in a pile and the guys pick up a shoe and that’s how the first dance begins? What could possibly go wrong?

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The lies we tell

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One of my friends in seventh and eighth grade was a good singer. She sang at some school assemblies. I was amazed at her ability to sing solos in front of the school, in front of so many people. I would have gotten stage fright and froze, so her ability to successfully complete a song impressed me. She carried notes well and had an even voice, not pitchy like I imagined mine would be, but I wouldn’t classify her as having an outstanding voice that would later capture the attention of judges on “American Idol” or other shows. That’s not to say I didn’t support her; just intended to capture a bit of reality.

She’d tell me these stories of competitions she’d go to with her singing group. These stories all sounded so amazing. She’d talk about these trips she took over the weekend, the people she met (celebrities included) and all these amazing things. I believed her; there had been no reason to really doubt her. Even though there really wasn’t any proof.

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The highlights of eighth grade

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Eighth grade meant many more changes. Classes were in a different building on campus. Unlike seventh grade where I was with the same group of students for all of my core classes, this year meant encountering a wide range of students. There were a few individual students who shared classes with me, but for the most part each class had a unique assortment. I really got to see a broader scope in learning abilities and interest in learning. In my English class, that wide range was more pronounced as I was mixed in with several students who spent a lot of time serving in-school suspensions and just didn’t seem to understand or care about the importance of getting an education.

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Why are school dances so awkward?

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Movie: Napoleon Dynamite

Seriously? Why are school dances so incredibly awkward?

If it’s not completely segregated with boys on one side of the gym/cafeteria and girls on the other for a full hour, then it’s a matter of dancing with someone with two feet of space between you.

Or maybe the space thing had to do with the Catholic school dance experience. You have to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” after all.

I was not comfortable with my body, comfortable in trying new moves. I was the self-conscious kid who very much didn’t want to look stupid.

And yet, I did show up. That’s something. I didn’t just avoid these experiences altogether. (Good job, young Lindsay, for pushing yourself and testing out different environments!)

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The rowdy school bus

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Our bus never did any two-wheeled turns, but it was crowded.

Last year I read “Sensational Kids” where, among other things, it gives a day in the life of five students, one typical child and four who exhibit different characteristics of sensory processing disorder. The idea is to illustrate how each child encounters similar environments.

One girl had sensory modulation problems, like me, and she was hypersensitive to sounds and light, touch etc.

She was overwhelmed on the bus because of all the loud noise from the other children talking, she didn’t like being crowded on there with extra touching. Basically riding the bus further stressed her out before school even began.

It’s an interesting comparison.
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