April 30, 2007

Starting over

My screensaver is set to rotate my pictures from the last four years. Today, I received my first e-mail from my first friend at NYU and several IM messages from a SHU friend of four years who was trying to insure that we would remain friends beyond graduation. The past and future fought today in my corner of cyberspace, and I starting thinking.

I can't really say what these next few months hold for any of us. I don't have an apartment/dorm in New York yet. Karissa is moving away. My friends are scattering to the four winds.

And my mind turns to the hackneyed sayings/songs of transition: "When God closes one door, somewhere He opens a window...," "I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it," "Buildings with a hundred floors, swingin' round revolving doors, maybe I don't know where they'll take me...Break Awaaaaaay....."

The way I see it, there are two ways to look at every transition. First, as an insurmountable obstacle that has no over, under or beyond. Second, as a challenge.

The past few months, I've spent largely alone. I've decided that February is the worst month of the year, with March as a close second. I don't like to wallow in self-pity, but there it is. My challenges somehow became insurmountable in my mind. Dreams became wispy memories and reality, a constant threat. But now, I'm remembering who I am and what I'm capable of being and doing. I'm not lost; I'm just waiting and resting for my next go.

And what I've gotten screwed up in my mind for so long is that my next go is now. Insurmountable is being replaced by action and planning. Though these months "off" have been part of my growth, I have realized that I am not one to let alone. I waste away without a deadline, a planner. And I guess that translates to "I'm a goal-oriented individual" on a resume.

Then the personal side is assaulted, but I'm looking at it differently these days. I haven't seen my Seton Hill pals as much as I would like, but I think this is preparing me for the much longer separations that are sure to come. They are still, and always will be, a part of my life, but in a different way.

Challenges await. And I'm not afraid now, because I know I'm going to surmount them, not the other way around. Maybe I'll give God the credit or the Vitamin D of the wayward sun, but something has changed.

We're all about to start over again, to grow some more. It's spring; May, June, July and August are my favorite months of the year. I can't think of a better time to start another season of my life than in this moment and in the embrace of so many people I love. We're going to make it; I'm going to make it.

And, if nothing else, there's an impetus for this change and our imminent success: student loans.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

Trippin' out

I savor travel. I love trips that don't feel like trips, but more like a short residence in a different locale. My upcoming journey isn't one of those.

On Friday, my mom and I will fly out from Pittsburgh to New York, and the following day, return. We're staying in a hostel. I never have and she hasn't either. I think this thing is going to be quite an adventure.

My original intent for this trip was to attend a luncheon with professors and fellow grad students, but somehow this tiny weekend trip has burdgeoned into a trip of epic slashes. I'm categorizing it as a mother/daughter student/professional development trip. Trying to keep it all in perspective, but the next few days may change the course of my life...especially if I get killed in a taxi. No, no. I won't dwell.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007

An Interjection, Sweet

There's a sugary line
Across your forehead
But I won't tell you about it
Until you're through.

I'd like to interrupt,
As I always do,
But I won't
Because you said I was inconsiderate
When I did.

You'd know something about that,
I guess.
These opinions,
Burst,
And then I have nothing left to say.

So you fill the space between.
Until I interrupt.
And you start,
All over again.

So that line of bagel jam
Will line your forehead crease.
And I will interrupt again--
To your distaste--
With another laugh
At you.

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April 7, 2007

Yellow wonder, the NYC cab

While in New York recently, I tried to hail a cab for the first time. It didn't work out very well because it was rush hour and I didn't understand the whole cabbie light on/off thing that was going on.

Instead, I went to a hotel and a kind man with a whistle and a voice that put Ella Fitzgerald to shame, hailed one for me. However, I know that this will not always be the case. I will have to hail my own cabs, pay for them, and somehow deal with the possibility that I may die in one of these yellow cages.

Thanks to Gothamist, my New York savior, I am now cab savvy. Their link to the New York City government cab page is just what this newbie ordered.

Did you know the maximum number of passengers allowed in a cab is 5? And that a cab driver must know the "lay of the land" to every destination given by a passenger?

Maybe now I'll move onto the NYC subway system...or not.

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Building bridges over the wall

The street disappears at the foot of an upright concrete mountain.

I saw the wall before the Belfast guide pointed it out. I was thinking, "Isn't that strange, a big wall in the middle of nowhere. I bet that's a jail back there." But there isn't a jail on either side--at least one that I couldn't see. My Irish friends, however, know all about it. The divider between two neighborhoods in Belfast is a tangible representation of lingering hate, a jail for both Catholic and Protestant factions. It hurts now to think of that street to nowhere.

While in Belfast, I was in a fog of sensation overload. The sights, sounds, smells (of fish and chips), were often too much to make me belabor the fact that I was living in what once was a warzone, and still is to some degree.

My impressions of Belfast, a month later, are a bit clearer. I'm beginning to take the discussions with my friend Mags in an entirely new way.

I'm a historian's daughter. My father, a Civil War, Kennedy and 9/11 buff, never was certified or anything, but he's passed his need to remember the past to me.

Mags and I were kindred spirits. She passed along her knowledge of Irish history, which she is majoring in, to me in small, digestible increments. I note now that I was the one who kept Mags talking, long after everyone moved onto other topics. :-)

I'd read up on Irish history before I went to Ireland, but the nuances of the history and the various interpretations of the past were never more apparent to me. While in Belfast, our friends not only talked to us about Irish history (and their living in it), they beefed up our knowledge with two films:H3--a great film about the hunger strikers, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley about Irish history. We didn't finish the second one because it was too early in the morning for bloodshed. As it turns out, Wind hasn't been released in the U.S. and isn't slated to do so until July. So, I'll have to wait.

In any case, this Time article: Postcard: Belfast, made me go back to the place I learned to love so much. The contentious walls, barbed wire and painted curbs are a reality for both past and present, but one on the fringes of my mind. I like to believe in the optimism of the article's author, that things are getting better. Mags and Pat Joe seemed to think so, but were wary of the country's direction.

Last night I finished The Kiterunner at 3:45 a.m. The reason I kept reading was to see if the Afghan narrator found redemption. He did to some degree, but the timeline wasn't finished by the last page.

I'm learning that there are no last pages or conclusions for a person or their country, just the way we view circumstances and how we move on in spite of them. Redemption is a choice, an act of bravery for everyone.

I want to see the walls come down, not only across the oceans, but a little closer to home. The destructive inertia of our time isn't unstoppable. Naive? Optimistic? I believe that there is Good in this life if we choose it. As for the rest, there will always be a few who never cross the bridges and walls that will always stand. As for me--and you can only ever be sure about yourself--I'm ready to be brave.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 3, 2007

Time to upgrade

It is time. I believe I'll begin with the camera, then move onto the iPod, the cell phone and then computer. It has come to my attention that all of my technology, save my digital recorder, are ready to move on to other owners.

My Fuji, though a battery sucker, has served me well. My photos are big and beautiful. I thank thee.

My CD player jumps like an overactive Mexican bean. You are the weakest link...Good bye.

The cell phone...ah, the cell phone, is costly for its minute-by-minute charges. Au revoir Virgin Mobile.

And finally, the computer. My Dell, once high fashion and amazing, is too large for travel. I hesitate to think that I'll be taking fast flights home every holiday from school, so I need something that I can work on while traveling. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I think I'm going to buy a Mac. I may even splurge for the MacBook Pro because NYU has a great student rate. I'm really worried about software, though. And I have four years of stuff on this computer that I'll have to save on Box or something.

Does anyone have any suggestions for buying cameras, computers, cell phones or iPod purchases? Tips, photos, whatever. I need some direction.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack