The Glory Days

•August 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Back in my day, I was a volleyball legend.

Okay, so I wouldn’t classify myself as a “legend” and it hardly counts as “back in the day,” but when watching your fourteen year-old sister make Junior Varsity volleyball it kind of puts you in a place of nostalgia.

I mean, God, even the gym smelled the same.  The newly coated floors, the leather volleyballs, the sweat.  It just brought me back to the days I played in my high school gym.  I was young, naive, and awkwardly tall, and just like anything that places a bunch of high school girls together, I was on the outside of the so-called “in” crowd (whatever the hell that meant…to this day, I’m still not sure, and yet I can see it with my sister’s teammates).

Senior Night, 2007 (age 17)

I recalled coming back to that gym the summer after attending my first volleyball camp.  I was fourteen, just like my sister is now.  I was still awkward and unpopular, but damn, was I hooked.  It didn’t even matter whether or not I socialized with the other girls outside of that gym, I was in it for the love of the game.  I was in it for the feeling of power and glory and unity that can only come from six performing and breathing as one.  The sacrifices I made were sometimes agonizing and yet I felt uplifted the first time I realized that I was doing it for a reason.

I made Varsity that year.

Fourteen years old, a high school sophomore, and I made the Varsity team.  I knew no one, but I didn’t care.  My passion outweighed any adversity I faced (and believe me, as a youngin’ who went on to earn the role of starting middle hitter versus several upperclassmen, there was plenty to go around).  That passion followed me all the way through the rest of my high school career and straight through to the collegiate level, where I played as starting middle for another four years.

Eight years have passed, and the proverbial circle of life moves on for my sister.  It’s bittersweet, especially for someone as hopelessly nostalgic as me.  I guess I just pray that my sister can place her dedication and passion into something the way that I did for volleyball.

As sometimes painful and heartbreaking making certain sacrifices can be, I hope she can experience something honestly and wholeheartedly, because when almost a decade has passed, I know she will find that despite being hopelessly nostalgic, she will live with no regrets.

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Wedding Bells and Wandering Thoughts

•July 30, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Today, I was asked to move my truck in front of a local hair salon.  I didn’t catch what that man driving the van had said, but being the polite person I like to think I am, I moved without question.  I didn’t even think twice about it…until I figured out what the van was picking up:

Bridesmaids.

To the wedding of some high school friends.

To which I was turned away from, then half-heartedly invited (a long, complicated story involving a fanatic mother of the bride…not worth delving into at the moment).

It was then I experienced a very interesting combination of emotions while waiting to get my lunch at Subway.  I guess I can’t help it if the smell of warm bread makes my female hormones go into overdrive.

At first, I felt sad that I was never really wanted at the wedding.  Way back when, the bride and I were relatively good friends.  You know, sleepovers, clubs, concerts, etc.  The lack of invite felt like a slap in the face.  However, then my logical side kicked in.  She sought to calm the situation in using her unrelenting, stone-cold logic.

A lot of time has passed since high school.  People change, situations change, and as sad as it can sometimes be, friendships wither away.  I can’t blame the bride for 1) wanting a small wedding, and 2) inviting only her closest friends and family.  The logic certainly brought some understanding to the situation, but did little to console the sadness.  That’s where spite came in.

Where logic lacked in ego-soothing abilities, spite picked up the slack.  Perhaps it makes me a bad person, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find a little pleasure in the realization that their outdoor wedding  is scheduled to occur on this rainy, dreary, gray day.

Hey, I’m only human.

God Laughs When You Make A Plan

•July 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So long story short, I’ve decided to jump-start my blog again.

I realize it hasn’t been active in two years, so please forgive me for my lack of attention and prepare yourselves to embark on (or endure) the next chapter of my life with me.  A lot has happened in the past two years.

In the midst of leaving Australia, my heart was broken for the first time. It was nobody’s fault but my own.  As much as I like to pretend I am a hopeless romantic, I somehow manage to leave one foot solely planted on the ground.  Realism and romanticism mix about as well as tuna and cough syrup.  But just as the old saying goes, the healing came with time.  We are still friends, we even became pen pals for a while until I allowed myself to become “too busy” with other things.  Alas, as it is always the case.

Graduate Hailey (almost) magna cum laude

I finished up my last two years of college where I managed to maintain a 3.77 GPA (.01 away from graduating magna cum laude and leaving me bitter, those stingy university bastards).  I also wrote a book as part of my Senior Thesis, which can be purchased online!  Once again, I fell in love, and once again, I broke my own heart.  I came to learn a lot about myself, which in turn, helped me to decipher my reaction one of the largest disappointments (and inspirations to revive my blog) I’ve experienced to date:

Being medically disqualified from joining the United States Coast Guard.

You see, as much as I like to think of myself as creative and laid back, I cannot hide the fact that not only am I realist, but I’m also a perfectionist planner.  I do love adventure, but I am more comfortable with having a plan.  I like to have structure and control in my life. Organizing makes me feel accomplished.  This is why I my attention was drawn to USCG.  As a college graduate, I was eligible for the Officer Candidate School, which not only gives me medical insurance, a place to live, money for graduate school, and a living stipend, but also a career which could actually allow me to retire someday.  I was totally gung-ho for everything.  I was organized, I was planning my steps to follow until yesterday.

And then I got the email…

“The reason you have not been contacted by a recruiter is because you must have answered a question online in such a way that disqualified you medically.”

As I read those words, I felt as though someone had stabbed me in the heart.  I was heartbroken and angry.  I answer the online questionnaire honestly about my Crohn’s diagnosis nine years ago, and am automatically disqualified.  Despite never having symptoms since I was 13, despite the likely possibility of a false diagnosis, despite the fact that I am probably healthier than half the recruits, they tell me I am a liability.  They will not take me, so I have to abandon my plans and start from scratch.  My mom once told me:

“If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”

But last night, she told me something else.  She said:

“Maybe this is a blessing.  Maybe this is God’s way of telling you He has different plans for you.”

I feel naked. I feel vulnerable. I feel afraid. I question my abilities and the purpose of my life.  And yet, at the same time, I question my questions.  Perhaps this is a sign from God for me to put more trust in Him.  Maybe I’ve been too headstrong and have taken His will for granted.  It’s a possibility.  I can’t say that I’m a devout Christian, but I think its safe to say that I’m a believer.

So here I am.

I have the opportunity at my door and God in my heart. It’s time to take the plunge and it’s time to live.

Wish me luck,

-Hailey

Home Sweet Home

•July 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”

-Charles Dickens

After a long and exciting couple of months abroad, I can finally hang my head within the confines of my own home.  Granted, this blog entry is over a month late, but it is the thought that counts, right?  It was one thing to keep an updated blog in Australia, but now that I’m back in the good ol’ U S of A, I wonder whether or not I’ll be able to keep this up.  The writer within me screams yes while the procrastinator mumbles maybe later.  Although, I suppose if my dream career of a travel writer is to become a possibility, I should keep this up for as long as a can.  Like I’ve said many times before in this blog, I don’t know who actually reads this stuff (but a strong thank you to whoever does! It really does mean a lot).  So where was I?…

Oh right!  Well, after some time in the Land Down Under it was finally time to come home.  It took roughly 19 hours of flying to make it all the way from Brisbane to Sitka, Alaska.  It was a long trip, but it was worth every neck-cramping, lack-of-leg-space, baby-crying-behind-me, ear-popping minute of it.  I was even lucky enough to be met by beautiful weather!  (Remember, we’re talking Sitka standards here).  That evening, while I should have been in bed catching some much needed Z’s, I stayed true to my Alaskan roots and went to a bonfire instead.  It was like receiving a breath of fresh air.  It was like although I had been living in this alternate reality, nothing in Sitka had changed.  Not really, anyway.  The beauty of these familiar  surroundings were just as enchanting as they’d ever been, like they had just waiting for me to return (particularly the no-see-ums).  I’ll admit it was strange knowing that just 24 hours prior I was standing Australia, but there was something that seemed so welcoming about the Alaskan wilderness despite being away for so long.

(despite me shivering in my many layers trying to acclimate).

People

•June 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose”

-Tennessee Williams

My time in Australia has been a truly unforgettable experience.  Through trial and error, risks and adventures, the last several months of my life, despite hitting a couple rough patches, were absolutely amazing.  But it goes without saying it wasn’t just this beautiful country that has made this experience amazing.  When it comes down to it, behind every great experience was a person that helped make it that way.  So, as a tribute to my friends here, but mostly as a way for me to always be reminded how great everyone is and because I’m horrible with goodbyes and wouldn’t be able to say half of these things in person, I write this blog entry.

Caitlin

Throughout this entire journey, from filling out our applications for the College of Global Studies to cleaning our Village apartment for the very last time, Caitlin has played a significant role.  Together, we have endured apartment roommates from hell, conquered deadly masses of rainforest leeches, lived to tell the tales of very questionable bus rides, gorged ourselves with delicious Nando delicacies, mopped floors more than any normal person should have to, and bared witness to the humorous things drunken people will do and say in public areas.  I know my experience in Australia wouldn’t have been the same without her.  She is an awesome roommate and was always there if I needed someone.  Needless to say it was really nice to travel to a foreign country with someone I already knew from home.  I’m pretty sure without her I would’ve gotten completely lost more often than I did.

Jessica

Jessica has played an interesting role in my life since coming to Australia.  She may seem like a sweet and innocent Swedish girl with her cheery bird calls and love for animated movies like Horton Hears A Who, but deep down she is a deadly half-cat, half-human hybrid capable of sneaking into places with ninja-like skill and scaring the living daylights out of you.  But in all honesty, Jessica is sweet and caring and just wants to make the world a better place (she does study Peace & Conflict Resolution, after all).  We’ve definitely shared in some interesting conversations.  I think it’s really cool that despite only knowing her for a couple months, I’m able to both act like a complete idiot and engage in a serious conversations (and when I give her crap, she just goes along with it). And perhaps the best thing is that she introduced me to Eurovision, probably the greatest singing competitions of all time.   (By the way, ABBA is awesome).

Melissa

What a zany Canadian this one is, eh?  Melissa definitely added some Canadian flavor to the entire experience.  With her extensive scientific knowledge about pretty much everything, as well as her passion for hockey (how Canadian, right?) and ability to ask extremely awkward questions in online conversations, Melissa is quite the character.  It was really fun being the only ‘North Americans’ (and I say North American because Melissa would hunt me down and kill me if I called her an American) in certain situations and plotting ways to spite certain obnoxious people.  For six weeks we took a Kickboxing Fitness class together, so I’m pretty sure me and her could beat the crap out of people if we were challenged…especially if there was house music playing somewhere.

Anja

Oh, what to say about Anja.  We’ve been through some pretty interesting stuff together, many of which are from our roadtrip.  There’s something about being the two tallest people (and only girls) in a bright blue rented Toyota Camry that really result in stories of epic proportions.  Who would’ve thought that us meeting at the Uni Bar during international student orientation would lead to so many great memories and stories to tell for years to come?  Wanna know my conversation starter when I first met her?  “Wow, I’ve never met a girl taller than me before!”  Needless to say, we really hit it off.  I couldn’t imagine my Australian experience without that fateful moment at the University bar.  Good to know International student orientation was good for something!

Fabian

I can say without a doubt that the most influential and unforgettable person out of my entire experience abroad is Fabian.  I’m not sure if was the fact that he was 6’8″ or the ridiculously curly hair or the maniacal laugh that caught my attention first, but the fact remains that I’m truly glad I met him, even if he isn’t so good at making the first move 😉

Of course these are not the only people I have met here, nor are they the only ones that have had an impact on my life.  But they have been the most prominent, which I believe earns a spot on my blog (so feel honored!!…or not).  Although at the moment I’m more than ready to go home, I know for a fact that I’ll miss my friends here.  I’m hoping, though, I’ve opened doors to new adventures.  Who knows?  Maybe one of these days I’ll save up the money to trek through Europe, but only time will tell.  For now I’m using the Internet on campus because my Internet expired at my apartment.  Tonight will be full of packing and cleaning.  And as weird as it is to think about now, my next blog entry will be written from Alaska.  So as this part of my life comes to a close, I’d like to thank everyone who’s read about my adventures and issued their feedback.  Although this chapter may be ending, the book that is my life is just beginning, so hold on! 😀

Love,

Hailey

Life and Soccer

•June 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So I’m sitting in my room blatantly staring at the empty add new post box on my wordpress account trying to gather my thoughts and figure out how to put them in a well-structured, well-written blog entry.  But I can tell you now that today I’m going to throw my rulebook out the window and just write about whatever I feel like.  I have no more exams holding me down, I have plenty of time to pack and let’s face it, I’m absolutely and utterly bored out of my mind right now.  And I figure, since I’m a Print Communications major and all,  I should be writing.  I should enjoy it–relish it.  I mean, it’s been over a month since my last blog post.  I owe this to myself and all of my loyal readers (assuming you’re all still out there and disinterested enough with your own lives to be reading about mine).  So where to begin.

Life has been quite an emotional rollercoaster lately.  In my last month in Australia I’ve been working tirelessly to turn in all of my final assignments and study for final exams.  Fabian and I decided that it was time to go our separate ways, but we had a good run.  I managed to get sick for the third time whilst in Australia, this time turning into the cold of the century complete with sore throat, toxic green mucous and a high-pitched-then-non-existent-then-manly voice.   Other than that I haven’t really been doing much.  My cold grounded me for over a week and then some, so I haven’t done as much traveling and exciting adventurous stuff as in my first couple of months.

Before I got sick, I went to the last Uni Bar party.  Now, as you may or may not know, every single Uni Bar party has a particular theme to it.  In the past I attended the Beach Party and the Toga Party, but this last party took it to an entirely new level.  The theme?  Hookers and Deviates.  Since it was the last dance and since the boyfriend of my friend Melissa came to visit all the way from Canada everyone was keenly interested in going.  We were all very keen to go until we hit a snag.  How do you dress like a hooker?  Well obviously dressing up in lingerie and pumping ourselves full of narcotics was out of the question, so we just took a shot in the dark as to how we should dress.  Let’s just say it involved a lot of makeup, a lot of hairspray, fake eyelashes and kitty ears.  Being the very patriotic American that I am, I paid homage to the very own queen of Jersey Shore herself, Snooki.  Unfortunately I was fresh out of bronzer so I couldn’t achieve the brown crispy glow that she has, but I made up for it by dumping tons of hairspray in my hair to create the largest ‘poof’ my hair has ever seen.  Never EVER again.

About two days after the party I started to get this funny tickle in my throat, which later spread into a full-powered sore throat.  The other symptoms started later.  But, I’m feeling much better now.  I still cough up some mucous from time to time, but other than that I’m just dandy.  (I know you guys don’t need to be hearing about all that stuff, but I’ll be mature when I say ‘this is my blog and I write about what I want so neener neener neener.’  About halfway through my healing process–where my sore throat was basically gone and my voice was beginning to sound like a teenage boy going through puberty–I went to a restaurant with my friends called Outback Jack’s to celebrate Melissa’s birthday.  While the food was not as good as I expected it to be, the chance to sit down and eat with my friends was a wonderful experience.  And, one of my German friends named Henning and I split an appetizer of BBQ’d crocodile and kangaroo on skewers.  The kangaroo I had tried before–it’s very similar to venison, relatively tough.  The crocodile was what I was really going for.  It had the texture of chicken with half the flavor.  At least I can say that I’ve eaten the local cuisine!  Afterwards we headed into the heart of Surfers Paradise to take part in ‘Shorts on the Green.’  Basically it was a short film festival outdoors on a jumbotron screen.  It would’ve been more pleasant had it still been summertime here, but we kept each other warm with layers and body heat.  Unfortunately, right before boarding the bus back to the University, my awesome rainbow hat was stolen by a drunken teenage hooligan who took it right off my head and ran away with it.  You see, it was a Sunday evening, but it was also the evening of Australia’s first appearance in this year’s FIFA world cup.  Because of the time difference, Australia was scheduled to play at 4:30 AM against Germany on a special screening on the same jumbotron that we had watched the short films on.  Since the bars are open until 3 AM and its illegal to have open alcohol containers in public, it was the duty of every Aussie Soccer Fanatic to get smashed before the game, thus explaining why my hat was stolen by a drunken buffoon.  Later that evening (or morning), Australians felt the sting of a 4-0 loss to Germany.  Boy, karma can be a real bitch, huh?

The next week there was a going away party at the Hard Rock Cafe.  There’s not much I can say about that.  It was the Hard Rock Cafe.  Their burgers are delicious and their adult beverages are very expensive.  Melissa and I were the only North Americans at the party.  There rest were all German and Swedish.  I joked that this was the largest gathering of Germans outside of Germany, but later found I was mistaken.  After dinner we went to a pub down the road that was showing the Germany vs. Serbia World Cup game.  THAT was the largest gathering of Germans outside of Germany.  Packed into a small corner of the pub, over 50 German university students (and Melissa and I) watched the game on a projector screen.  Watching soccer with the Germans was a very memorable and eye-opening experience.  To many Americans, soccer might take a backseat against other sports like baseball or football, but to Germans (and honestly to the rest of the world) soccer is living, breathing passion.  Needless to say, we North Americans learned some German soccer chants and cheers and sang our favorite ‘Lukas Podolski’ song.  We were welcomed wholeheartedly by all but one German girl, who shared her German flag colored face paint crayons with everyone else except for me claiming that they were ‘not for everyone.’ (Later I found out that everyone shares a passionate dislike for that girl). Consequently, Germany lost to Serbia 1-0.  I’m not sure, I guess this means people better be nice to me or else their country will lose in soccer.  I joke, of course.  Just a series of coincidences.

At the moment there are two separate FIFA games on: England vs Slovenia and USA vs Algeria.  Due to drunken Americans trashing the lounge after last week’s USA game, many Americans are banned from there now.  That means they’re all out getting drunk in the city.  If USA wins, it should be a hoot and a half around 3:00AM when they all return to campus.  Luckily I’m done with classes and exams so sleeping in is no problem.

Well that about wraps up this blog post.  I leave in four short days.  I’ll try to squeeze in another blog post before then, but no promises.  Thanks for reading!

Best wishes,

Hailey

A Month in Review

•May 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hello my loyal readers!

Just letting everyone know that I’m still alive and kickin’ down under.  It’s definitely been a while since my last post, but at least I left everyone with a clear warning.  I’ve been very busy with schoolwork and just life in general.  I’m down to a little over a month left in Australia.  Looking back on it now, I can’t believe so much time has gone by.  I mean, seriously.  It seems like just yesterday I was having anxiety attacks about leaving the country for so long and writing about it on my blog and now I’m starting to have anxiety attacks about returning to my country and writing about it on my blog (or at least I intend to eventually).  The whole experience just seems so surreal, like the past three months have been a dream of some sort.  Although, it’s been a dream with loads of homework…so should I say nightmare? (just kidding!).  But I’m totally serious about the surrealism of this entire situation.

I have 38 days left.  Do you realize what this means?  38 days until I have to pack up and move my life once more.  38 days until I’m reunited with the people I love.  38 days until I say goodbye to people who have changed my life. 38 days until I experience culture shock in my own country.  38 days until I reach the halfway point of my college career. 45 days until I’m no longer a teenager.  Where has the time gone? I have a feeling that I’m going to start asking myself that question a lot in the near future. But c’est la vie.

All I can do now is just enjoy my remaining time in Australia.  I mean, it may be bursting at the seams with exams and assignments, but I’m still in freakin’ Australia.

You know, I really wish I could document every single minute detail about this experience so I could look back one day and just remember.  Just what it was like to be young and naive and carefree (despite the fact that I don’t think I’m ‘young’ and not that I’ll admit that I’m naive and carefree at the momet, but I know I’ll realize the extent when I’m older).  But then there are just those things that you can never capture with a camera.  Raw emotions and feeling.  Although, it really doesn’t help at all when your camera has sand in it and ceases to function…  This is why I haven’t really been posting on my blog as often as I’d like to.  I love taking pictures and just showing them to everyone, but it’s really quite hard when you don’t have a camera to do so.  I’ve been relying on everyone else’s pictures.

At the very beginning of the month, the city of Surfers Paradise, Queensland kicked off its first ever Surfers Paradise Festival–a two-month long festival hosting and featuring a plethora of different artists and events.  The first evening of the Festival (May 1st) drew crowds from all over.  It was comprised of an all-day concert on the beach leading up to a spectacular fireworks show, you guessed it…on the beach.  Although Fabian and I were late getting down to Surfers, we still managed to catch the end of the last band performing.  I can honestly say that I’ve never seen so many people on the beach before (then again, I’ve never been here in the ‘summer’ either).  The music was good and the crowd was lively and the night was absolutely gorgeous.  Fabian and I spent it wondering around Surfers and eating gelato and talking a beautiful late-night stroll on the beach.  Regardless of me not having a camera, I don’t think there was a way for me to truly capture a moment like that within a picture.

But anyway, to wrap things up (because it’s 1:30 AM here), I’m going to try to make the most out of my remaining time here (without a camera).  I send everyone my love.  Congratulations to the Sitka High School graduating class of 2010! (I’ll be there in spirit).  Again, I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I’ve graduated high school, but there’s no sense in dwelling in the past because I have much more pressing matters to worry about (like passing my Australian classes!).

Until next time,

Hailey