love

a perfect kind of purple

450ef10c9ffb8ee57ed1430a154bfa43The sky was a perfect kind of purple as you stood across the street from me. And I thought of the boy who broke you. And I thought of the subsequent boys who fought over the broken pieces of you, taking what they wanted, leaving few remains.

And I smile across the street to you, thinking that I lost you when you lost you. You lost you, and I lost my best friend. But it seems a fair trade for you, to lose me, because at least you still have you again. Put yourself back together again. When no one thought you could. When no one thought you would.

And we’re standing in the middle of an old college town, and you’re across the street from me, a reminder to both you and me, that even the lost get found.

And you give a wave, but we don’t agree to meet across the street, because the sky is a perfect kind of purple and once upon a time we would’ve hid from the rays on a day like today, but instead the dusk decided to fall, a reminder of the fall.

And so we both walk on, in different ways, the way life seems to go these days.

And I think back to the day and the call when you told me it all and you cried about a boy who you didn’t know, but a boy who knew you too well. And I think of that day when you cried about it all, when you told me about your fall—

Falling in love,

Falling down,

Because this was the fall out.

And you cried about regret. And I cried with you and with regret.

And it seemed pointless to ask what happened. Because I knew what happened, based on the happenings of the past few days. Instead, I let you cry, and I held my breath as you held your words. Before letting it all tumble out.

I took your words, the same way I wish I could’ve taken your pain. But pain isn’t a thing that can be absorbed. It’s not osmosis or a blood transfusion. Because we aren’t still sitting through a biology class—before things got hard—learning about how the body works. Because now we’re old—or so we tell ourselves—and we’re learning about the way life works.

But maybe that’s untruthful—we’ve always known how life works.

Only now we’re discovering how love works. Or how love doesn’t work.

And I see you back in the street again, and I wish we could meet back in the street again, when you were still you and I was still me and we were still we. A best friended we.

But you lost you when you broke. And you lost you when you fell down—

Like down the stairs, when pajama pants are silky and soft and too long for short young legs, so you trip and fall and tumble. Only then there was still someone to catch you.

Words catch in your throat now, and I long for the time when they once tumbled out. When words fell as easily as we once did—chasing each other through the woods and down the street. Aboard a bus and to the school.

Falling in line.

Falling together.

Until the day you fell apart.

Until the day that we fell out.

The sky is a perfect kind of purple because that’s the way life works, but we wave from our respective sides and then we move on. Because you put yourself together again—you are whole again—but once upon a time, on a different day, with a different dark sky, you tumbled and fell, and I should’ve held harder. Onto your hand. Because you were empty handed and broken hearted but it’s hard to hold on from far away, just like it’s hard to say hi from across the street. But I should’ve held harder, because then maybe you wouldn’t have lost you. And then maybe I wouldn’t have lost you.

Because cars are passing between us, and in them are our stories. Once upon a time, on a different day with a different blue sky, we shared stories—the same beginning, middle, and end. We shared the same stories.

And then once upon a time, on a different day with a different pink sky awaiting a storm, we shared stories. Shared different stories of our lives apart—a different beginning, middle, and end.

You cried about the end. Wondering if it was the end. The end of your first real fall—not down the stairs, not in the woods. Your first real fall in love. A love without a fairy-granted happily ever after.

It’s no longer Once Upon a Time, because broken hearts don’t belong in fairytales, but the sky is shining bright. Yellow. Like your hair lightened by the sun. Like the school buses that let us share stories together. Like the sun that pulled you through the dark. Because you’re whole again. You put yourself back together again. When no one thought you could. When no one thought you would.

You’re standing across the street from me, in the middle of a college town where the lost go to get found. And the sky is a perfect type of purple, the kind that follows the hurricane, and I think it seems a fair trade for you, to lose me, because at least you still have you again. But sometimes I wish I could still have you again. Still have my best friend again. Before you broke in two, before they fought over you. You and your broken pieces.

Befriending fragments used to be hard. But now it’s all we have, so I wave across the street to you, and rather than turn in the other direction, I cross the street to you, because once upon a time I would’ve taken the fall for you, and soon the sky will turn a new shade of orange and red as the real fall arrives, so I reach out my hand to you, because we’ve always known how life works. The beginning, the middle, the end.

Only now we’ve discovering how love works. Or how love doesn’t work. We’ve discovered the fall, and what’s untruthful is to say that I’d ever want to fall without you.

Because you are still you, and I am still me, and as I reach out my hand to you, I realize all we ever lost was the best friended we.

over-analyzing everything, understanding nothing

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I have this thing with ants. This deep-rooted, irrational fear. I had this dream as a child, where I was literally marching one by one with the ants. I was smiling in the dream. I was sobbing when I woke up. I guess the prospect of human-sized ants are enough to frighten any seven-year-old. And apparently enough to still frighten a 22-year-old.

Maybe, if I allowed myself the time to think like Augustus Waters, I would also fear oblivion. Instead, more meaningless fears occupy my times: how exactly do parking garages—floating cement—stay, well, afloat? If I use a period at the end of this sentence will the email recipient think I’m rude? Is the weight of all the ants in the world really greater than the weight of all humans combined?

There really isn’t time to fear oblivion when you’re all busy being anxious about the small stuff.

Recently, one of my friends—likely my most analytical friend—asked me how she could abolish fear from her life. She loved or liked or loved to like a new boy in her life, and she wanted to not be afraid of showing this love or like or loving to like. I really mulled over the question. I desperately wanted to provide her with an answer so profound and life changing she would wake up with everything in life—everything but fear, everything including the boy. So I thought. And I thought some more. And then tonight, while tearing up as Kristina Braverman fought cancer, an ant crawled across my blanket. Naturally, I panicked. And it hit me just how ironic this ‘fear cure’ request was.

I don’t like walking up the street in the dark. I say a prayer before every flight take-off. I’d rather not talk to strangers at the Newark Airport. I color within life’s legal lines. I stay quiet when someone is wrong because I don’t like to offend. I am afraid of offending people. I am afraid of heartbreak and heartache.

How ironic it is that I was being asked advice on conquering fear when
there are still so many things I’m fearful of.

How ironic it is that I was being asked advice on conquering fear when fear has managed to become a part of who I am.

5867965690_b7f886ed50_z_largeAnd there was my profound moment. Only unfortunately, I had no answer that would help a girl to overcome her fears and fall in love with a boy.

I only had an answer for myself: I’m not supposed to learn to not be fearful, because it’s a part of who I am. An integral part.

Because I’m not Eminem. And I’m not not afraid.

John Mayer was right. Fear really is a friend that’s misunderstood.
——————————————————————————————-
Being careful and conscientious and protective aren’t side effects of fear. In fact, it’s the opposite. Fear is the side effect.

I am not afraid of life. And living. And looking down the edge of the Grand Canyon.

I am afraid of slipping on the roads if I drive too fast. Of meeting the one stranger on the street that Criminal Minds would also like to meet. I am careful.

I am afraid of offending someone with my opinions. I am afraid that my casual use of punctuation might offend someone in an email. I am conscientious.

I am afraid of uncontrollable tears and a heart that can’t be mended. I am afraid for my friends when they shake with sadness. I am protective.

These traits are often manifested through fear, but the root is not fear; the root is carefulness, conscientiousness, protectiveness. The root is me.

There are people in this world who jump out of planes and feel the rush of the wind as the world passes them by. There are people in this world who climb mountains in cold, foreign countries, feeling new air melt onto their vulnerable skin. There are people who risk it all—life, love, safety—just to feel alive. And then there are people who risk it all—happiness, love, a future—just to keep their heart alive.

But we’re all afraid of something, some things. We’re afraid we won’t do enough. We’re afraid to do too much. We’re afraid of what our life will be if we don’t skydive. We’re afraid of what our life will be if we do skydive.

We’re all afraid of something, of some things.

And I don’t think there’s a cure for fear. I think there’s just embracing fears. Of deciding which fears are worthwhile, and which should be tossed out the plane never to arrive with us.
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thumbLast week I visited Las Vegas’ replica of the Eiffel Tower. Unlike everything else in Vegas, the mock up is actually smaller than the original. It’s half the size, but still over 45 stories high. I rode an elevator to the top. And I stood out on the viewing deck looking down at the strip below. People were suddenly tiny. They looked like ants. Only I didn’t fear them. I feared nothing up there. Maybe I should’ve feared the elevator that brought me up to such great heights. Because how exactly do elevators work?

I don’t know.

And that seems to be precisely the problem.

Standing 500 feet in the air, and I was finally able to form a semblance of an answer:

Fear comes from what we cannot understand and what we cannot control.

I cannot understand parking garages, elevators, or bridges. And so that leaves room for fear. Fear that hits when you realize your life is on the line and you have absolutely no idea how the machinery holding your precious little life even works. But here’s the greatest news in all of the world: someone does understand it! And because they’re so smart and engineer-y, they build this stuff!

I rode the elevator back down to the bottom. And I marveled at the genius that is behind most things I do not understand: the printing press, cell phones, airplanes, electricity, Nintendo 64s. I marveled. But I didn’t fear. Because someone, somewhere understands. And that’s enough. With a bit of trust, that’s enough.

There’s a myriad of things I cannot control: other people, the future, the unknown, ants. And from 500 feet in the air, let me ask this: what is the point of being anxious about things you cannot control?

And from down on the ground, I will tell you there is no point.

(Except for ants. There is always a point in fearing ants. Just ask the Buzzfeed article that informed me ants kill more people each year than sharks.)
——————————————————————-
People are going to break your heart.

If you let them.

And giving someone the chance to break your heart is the best gift you can give yourself. Because it means you’re giving someone the chance to love you. And I suppose you have to trust that it will work out.

There is no cure for the fear that comes with saying I love you for the first time. There’s no cure for the fear that comes with vulnerability, exposure, and heartbreak. There’s no cure, only trust.

And fear is the side effect of kindness and carefulness and conscientiousness. It’s the side effect of love and lust and life.

tumblr_lt4c8lrSi81qkwwgfo1_500There is no cure to fear. And that’s a sad realization for the over-analytical girl looking to put her heart on the line without fearing the risks involved.

But there’s trust. And there’s a boy on the other end of her line who may or may not be worth trusting.

It seems worth the risk, though—worth the facing of the fear—to find out.

(Contradictory to what this post may lead you to believe, I actually do not have a fear of heights.)

Confessions of a Canadian: 04.30.14

I have a lot to say. Like, did you know ‘wonuts’ (waffle donuts) exist? Or, did you know “$1 per 100 words” is an actual form of job compensation? Or, how about the fact that the Provoc is the “Club of the Year?” Yeah, I have a lot to say. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of space. 

If you’re reading this, the Provoc’s final deadline has passed, and my stint as Editor-in-Chief has officially ended (unless, of course, you’re the editorial staff reading this through edits, in which case, thank you. I love you. I appreciate your commitment to deleting the Oxford commas that are consistently littered throughout my articles.) It’s a bittersweet feeling to be finished with my time on the Provoc. On the sweet hand, it’ll be nice to once again see daylight on what would be deadline weekends. On the bitter hand, I am saying goodbye to something that has been instrumental in shaping who I am today.

I could fill this column with “Universal Bethany Truths,” (truths that I think apply to everyone, but in reality, only apply to me), but when you only have one column left, you tend to doubt the importance of complaints like, “WHY DID NETFLIX RAISE ITS PRICES? DON’T THEY KNOW I’M BROKE?” These things suddenly seem trivial, and aren’t the ‘final’ column moments that I want to leave pressed into my last Le Provocateur issue. Instead, what I want to leave behind is love.

And a lot of it.

I hope that during my time in the United States, I have helped people to feel love—for poutine, maple syrup, donair sauce on pizza. I hope that they have realized they love Canadian Oreos more than American Oreos. I hope they have decided they love the Canadian spelling of neighbourhood versus America’s neighborhood. I hope I’ve helped people love donuts. 

Because what I’ve learned in this Assumption World is that love really does matter. Kindness matters. Loving yourself when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re struggling to finish a philosophy paper—that matters. Because you cannot fight the negativity of the world with increased negativity. It takes happiness and positivity to help ease sorrows, and to find happiness within yourself.

When a room is dark, it only takes the inching open of the blind to let sunlight in. It only takes the pushing open of a door to let the light of the hallway shine through. A little bit of light can guide your way. And a little bit of light can create a lot of love. 

And that’s what I’ve felt here—love. Maybe I haven’t loved everything about Assumption. I sure hated the music my last year’s West neighbours constantly pounded through the walls. I’d be lying if I said I loved the late nights I spent trying to understand Ulysses in Approaches to Reading and Interpretation. And I definitely still don’t love the pollen that hits the Worcester air every spring.

What I have loved are the people—my roommates, my friends, my professors. These are the people who have made my college experience something I will forever look on with fondness. Do I want to get a job out of my college degree? Of course. But what I want more than that is to know that people will get you through life happily. Jobs may get you through financially (and hopefully your job will make you happy), but it’s people who lift you up, pull you through; it’s people who love you.

I don’t want to make this column goodbye, because this is really ending with a “to be continued,” but nonetheless, I have some thank yous. 

Thanks to my parents for taking me on my first 15-hour road trip to Massachusetts when I was two weeks old. My heart was constantly being tugged in this direction, and with the support of my family, I was able to follow my dreams here. And with the support of my pilot brother, I’ve been able to go back and forth as much as possible. And with the support of my sister, who spent nine months in Asia my freshman year, I’ve learned that distance doesn’t matter when love is stronger.

Thanks to my roommates of the past four years, who have hugged me when I cried (Provoc tears, of course). And who have stayed up late laughing with me. And who have made my college dorm a “home.” I love you like I love the Weight Watchers dark chocolate raspberry ice cream bars that permanently reside in our freezer.

To this year’s Provoc staff and last’s: thanks for the constant reminder of just how important words are. As I enter into the World of Numbers, I’ll hold letters close to my heart, and forever I will be grateful for each of you.

There are a lot of things I will miss about college, but I will take even more things with me. I’ll carry my professors’ constant encouragement in my heart. I’ll think of my media analysis class whenever Fox News tries to manipulate me (just kidding…I’d never watch Fox). And as I think with my liberal arts “well rounded” mind, I will think of all the people who brought me to this place.

Because I’ll look back on college with love. And I look towards the future with even more love. Because life is a really great and beautiful thing, and it’s silly to think of it with anything but love. I’m forever grateful for the amount of love that’s been shown to me in four years here.

XOXO, Gossip Girl. 

the mindy project and me

As the end of the year winds down and the workloads increase, most people take to the library and delve into studying. I, however, have a different tradition I like to uphold: every semester, approximately three to four weeks before finals, I pick up a new TV show. I suppose my body’s natural response to stress is to find every possible means to avoid the stressful trigger (i.e. homework/studying). 

This TV viewing pattern is what brought The Greats into my life. Friday Night Lights, Parenthood and Make It or Break It (okay, that one’s not so great) are all results of my pre-finals TV binge fests. This year, I took a different approach, and instead decided to pick up a comedy. With 20-minute episodes, I actually thought I was investing less time to a TV show this year. That proved false, as I quickly became so addicted to The Mindy Project that as soon as I was caught up, I subsequently bought Mindy Kaling’s (the writer, producer, creator  and star of The Mindy Project) book Everyone’s Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns).

Kaling’s show is one of those shows where while watching, I catch myself thinking, Everyone needs to watch this show, because the world will suddenly know peace as we all laugh in unison at the witty one-liners. Does it have a chance at being my dad’s (or basically any guy’s) favorite show? Probably not. But it’s hilarious all the same.

We all know I’m not the harshest critique of TV shows and movies (Yes, I love Hallmark movies and yes, I watched 90210 until the very end), but when it comes to comedy, I actually have standards. As much as I love to text LOL, rarely am I actually LOLing. Typically, when I’m watching “comedies,” I actually find myself rolling my eyes instead. Only a few greats have managed to make me laugh out loud. How I Met Your Mother (I’m behind on this season, and am avoiding the Internet for fear of spoilers) and Modern Family have succeeded in the LOL category. The Mindy Project has as well. 

Not only do I catch myself laughing out loud, but consistently I am plagued with writer envy. With every laugh, I think to myself, “Why didn’t I write that line?” And as a wannabe-writer, line-envy is the greatest compliment I can give to anyone. If you have the ability to not only make me laugh, but also make me want to tweet, blog and journal about your script then, in my eyes, you have succeeded. 

The Mindy Project, you have succeeded.

Mindy is a dramatic character (hence why I connect with her so much), but she’s more than just another “new adult” trying to find her place in New York City. She’s not as perfect as Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie in Sex in the City. She’s also not as outwardly flawed as Lena Dunham’s Hannah on Girls. Kaling is aware of her flaws, but rather than letting them weigh her down, she embraces them. She acknowledges how unique her ‘Curvy Indian Girl’ status is, and then she does her best to embrace it. 

While embracing her flaws, the serious and dramatic side of the show emerges. However, the show manages to use comedy to draw attention to just how ridiculous society’s standards that create this ‘I am so filled with flaws’ thinking is. For example, in one episode, Mindy is feeling down about her weight. When her office assistant offers her a coffee cake, Mindy responds with, “I’m still full from that chia seed I had last night.” I laughed out loud. And then I also though to myself, Wow how dumb that this world tells us chia seeds are a better dinner than coffee cake.

The show is filled with moments like this. Moments where you relate to the awkwardness of Mindy. And moments where you cheer her on as you acknowledge just how successful she is in life. It’s so easy (and so common) to create a hopeless romantic lead character who is also spacey, unsuccessful in her career and more into her shoe collection than her friends. Mindy breaks down these barriers. Is she a hopeless romantic? 100 percent yes. But she’s also a doctor with a pretty awesome NYC loft. She has friends who care about her and who she cares about back. She has a goddaughter. She has a little brother who she tries to mentor. Is she looking for love? Yes. But her quest for love has not managed to overwhelm her quest for an otherwise happy and fulfilled life. Mindy has managed to redefine the typical female character. And this makes me happy. 

I’m guilty of watching movies like Twilight with sappy, clumsy and ‘I don’t need to go to college, I have you, Edward’ lead females. And I’m guilty of enjoying them. And then I also read (thank you Thought Catalog) inspiring pro-feminist pieces that are like, “I don’t need a man to complete me! I am independent. I am strong! I am funny! I am successful!” 

And this seesaw leaves me going back and forth, feeling like it’s always either or. The Mindy Project has provided me with a balance. It’s okay to pursue a career. To pursue happiness. It’s okay to be dramatic and funny, because that doesn’t lessen your intelligence. It’s okay to want love, because that doesn’t lessen who you are as an independent woman either.

Maybe I’m giving a half-hour comedy more credit than some would argue it deserves, but I don’t care. I look forward to Tuesday nights where I can watch The Mindy Project. In a world of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Every Show Must Include Vampires, I like to look forward to a show. And I like a show that makes me laugh—at its witty one-liners, at how ridiculous society can be and just at life itself.

Because amidst the seriousness of life and finals and graduation, laughing is pretty important. 

donuts & daydreams

“perfection is the disease of a nation” –Beyoncé

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I used to exist on a diet of donuts and daydreams,
because I was too tired to eat
and too short on time to sleep,
so instead I shortchanged myself,
and as the warm water of a safe shower
fell down upon me,
I let my tears blend in,
because I was taught to say yes to opportunities,
to take advantage of opportunities
resume-boosting opportunities,
no-one-will-ever-give-a-fuck opportunities.
I was taught to say yes to an iCalendar that
was probably ready to say no for me,
because somewhere along the way,
I learned that it was better to subsist on donuts and daydreams,
than to have what-could’ve-beens haunt you in your sleep.

I’m quite certain, the only thing I ever learned
to say no to
is high caloric desserts,
and I’m quite certain that I’d love ice cream even more
if there was no nutrition label on the side,
and I’m quite certain that maybe clothes fit looser
when calories were counted,
but I’m also certain that cashews weren’t meant to be
measured on a scale,
because I’m sick of weighing me,
and I’m sick of weighing cheese,
and I’m sick of missing crackers and carbs.

I feel a subconscious sense of pride
whenever I actually think That girl’s too skinny,
because I have a friend who’s starved herself of life
(and food)
and I can see that her legs are. too. small.
which means that I am still on the right side of the
BODY IMAGE DEBATE.
Maybe I’ve sat on the border,
patrolled by Cosmo and the gents at GQ,
but no one will ever look at me and think her legs are. too. small.
and as I wish that maybe my legs could be
Just a little bit smaller,
I am grateful for this problem.
Grateful that I don’t have this leg-too-small problem.
Grateful like I’m grateful for self-serve
frozen yogurt
and queso fresco,
and the Wendy’s drive-thru at 1 am.
And I’m grateful for the way my roommates and I pretend
our “skinny” mirror is actually reality,
and it’s the rest of the world that’s skewed.
But I’m not grateful for the way I used to let donuts
fill me up,
because hydrogenated oils have never done a good job
at filling my soul.
And I’m not grateful for the line on Life To Do List,
that tells me to get a 4.0
and I’m not grateful for the validation that comes only
from another’s words,
and I’m not grateful for the way I once said
college was a waste of time,
if I’m not employed afterwards.
I’m not grateful for that.

I long ago learned how to love the world—
that I should love the world,
that the world is worthy of my love—
but I think maybe I never learned how to properly love me.
Because the Internet, and parents, and health class videos have said
Love Yourself. You are so worth loving. You are perfect.
But I’m not perfect.
And I’m wondering if maybe someone would like to add an asterisk
to the bold directives we’re given as preteens,
so maybe we could be certain that we are worth loving
* even when our jeans fit too tight,
and our mascara is smudged from the snow,
and our skirt is flying with the wind,
and we begin crying in the middle of a biology test,
and when our heart is too broken
for us to even realize it’s broken,
to even realize that there are people—professionals (or at the very least,
professional glue)—who master in putting us back together.
And we’re lovable even when there’s a minus
beside the B,
lovable even when we’re not grateful for the burden of perfection we’ve been bearing.

Because I’m sick of the amendments that don’t outright say,
but have always implied
that I’m lovable if and only if
I can proudly print my transcript
and if I fit into my skinniest of jeans.
I’m tired of treating mascara like it’s my best friend,
because I think a best friend will love me
pale eyes and all,
because I’m sick of amendments that make me late to class
as I straighten the crinkles out of my hair
and I’m sick of the war I’m always waging
against myself
as I sit through my day, drowning out talks of
history and ethics and grammar rules,
and instead think about whether or not I should
begin another juice cleanse.

Because no one has ever loved me less
for gaining a pound
and no one has ever loved me less
for failing an exam
and no one has ever loved me less
for raccooned eyes and vulnerability
and contagious smiles and snorting laughter.
No one has ever loved me less for my tears,
but I’m tired of crying anyway.

Because it’s easy to love donuts,
and though I do love me,
it’s not always easy to remember why
I love me
because I subsisted on daydreams of a world where
no one will care if there is visible skin
above the waistline of my jeans,
but I awoke to reality where I was taught that the
world is worthy of my love,
but I am not worthy of the world’s love for me.