Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts from Places.

Being in Europe is sometimes very surreal, like I can hardly believe that I am here, in England, and spend my weekends in different countries. I had the most incredible, sudden realization in Rome, standing on the top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica with nothing but the wind, the stone beneath my feet, a metal fence for my hands to grip, and all of Rome and its thousands of years of history below me. I was there. I was seeing that view with my own two eyes. I was feeling the wind lift my hair off my neck and I was drinking it all in, trying to swallow great big gulps of that moment, trying to preserve how I felt just then, when I fell in love with Rome. And the realization that hit me so suddenly was simply that I was here.

Rome. Paris. London. Edinburgh. Belfast. Newcastle. Still to come: Amsterdam and Vienna. I don't want to say that I am just lucky to be here and to be seeing all these new places and learning new things, because I worked hard to get here. I was determined to be in England and to be able to travel. So I worked hard, but at the same time, I can't help but think that I am lucky.

I'm lucky to have the parents that I have. They are nothing but supportive and encouraging and the more I travel and the older I get, the more appreciative I am to have them. They support me in all ways, financially, emotionally, and the more I think about it, the more I see that I would not be who I am, doing the things that I do, without them. My dad encourages my weekend ventures, my mom cautions me to be safe and have fun; they are a home I can always return to, a place I can always feel welcome. They are safety, security, a springboard for me to leap into the world from. They are always there for me, supporting me wholeheartedly even if my dreams and plans are wacky and sometimes wishy-washy, loving me unconditionally. And I've never been more thankful for that.

I'm lucky to have the best family I could hope to have. People always say that you can't choose your family, but even if I could, I wouldn't choose anyone else. They have given me so much, from money to adapters to advice to love and support for me on this journey.

I'm lucky to have the friends that I do at home, because they're not so much friends as they are my second family. I'm able to tell them anything and everything and I'm lucky that this physical distance between us hasn't changed anything.

I'm lucky to have met the people here that I have, because they're the most incredible friends that really make Newcastle feel like home to me. I feel accepted and comfortable and like I really belong here.

I'm lucky to be alive, to be walking the streets of Newcastle, to be taking in the magic of Paris, to be getting lost in the winding streets and alleys of Rome, to be hiking up to glorious views in Edinburgh, to be enjoying the fast-paced city life in London, to be drinking Guinness in a pub in Belfast, to be anticipating adventures in Amsterdam and Vienna, to be able to simply, well, you know, be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This Moment

So over the weekend I flew home to attend my uncle's wedding. When I first heard they were getting married in October, I was quite upset at the thought of missing out on it, as there aren't likely to be many more weddings in my family, at least not for a while. But I managed to make it back, thank goodness.

During the few hours of downtime on Friday morning, before the wedding in the afternoon, I was skimming over the poem my mom (being his sister) was going to read during the ceremony. I decided to take it upon myself to write something a little more engaging, and with a little more feeling. After a few drafts and a few crumpled pieces of paper thrown across the room, I produced a speech for my mother to read.

Not to build it up too much, but it was kind of a big hit. Ya know. ;D

But in all seriousness, I feel really honored that everyone liked it so much, and that I kind of surprised everyone there. My uncle wanted me to write something, but didn't want to put too much pressure on me to do so; when I did write this, he told me it made his day (besides the whole thing where he got married, ya know), and I'm really glad it did. The priest asked for a copy and when my uncle's friends and my family actually realized I had written it, they were stunned and impressed.

So now you may all enjoy it. I hope I didn't build it up so much that it doesn't live up to expectations.

This Moment
By Rachael Bahr

Marriage is easily turned into metaphors.

Marriage is like buying a puppy--when choosing, you want someone lively, happy, fun, loving; but not so much that you banish them to the backyard when they get annoying. You could say marriage is like a car; you want it to run smoothly and with very few bumps in the road. Or it could be like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs and sudden turns.

And of course, marriage is a promise--one of companionship, one of having someone to share in all of life's experiences. It's a promise of the good, the bad, and the assurance that even if things get worse, they will always get better.

These metaphors, however, all look at the long run. But in this moment, here and now, marriage isn't any of those things.

Marriage is a joyful moment. Marriage is everyone here coming together to celebrate the unity of Jeanette and Alex. Marriage is the look in his eyes when she came down the aisle. It's the sunshine on this rainy day. It is, simply, love.

It's this moment that can't really be put into words. It's this feeling. It's warm. It's the smiles exchanged between the bride and the groom. It's new. It can be scary. It's the start of an adventure. It's a leap of faith.

It can lift your heart, it can make you fly; it might make you cry. It's a time to celebrate and to let all the joy you're feeling fill all the corners of the room. It's a time to capture, to save, to share with the world.

Marriage is a long journey on a twisting, uncertain path, and it's this moment, here and now, wrapped in the warmth and happiness and metaphorical sunshine, surrounded by love, that you are taking your first steps.

Author's note: It was raining that day, to put that metaphorical sunshine into context.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On studying abroad.

The very first day I arrived in England, after I had gotten all my things up to what was to be my room for the next three months, I stood staring out the window, unable to process everything that was flying around in my head. So I did what any normal 21-year-old girl who was abroad on her own would do. I cried.

I spent about an hour crying in my room that first day, extremely, terribly thankful that I was the only one on my floor. What would my floormates think if, the first time I met them, my eyes were red and puffy and I was sniffling all over the place? So I got it out that first day.

After that I was surprised at how easily and quickly I settled in. Newcastle no longer seems like a strange foreign place that I'm scared to walk around by myself. It's not quite home but it feels more like it every day, especially after a weekend away, when I'm just getting back and my feet are aching and my bag is weighing my shoulders down and the only thing that's going to be better than a hot shower is falling into my bed, in my room, on my floor. Because it's slowly turning into a place that I can call mine.

Then there's that nagging voice at the back of my head, prodding and poking and telling me I'm not making the most of being abroad. Have I done enough yet? I've been here for over a month and I haven't even left the UK yet. I spent a weekend in Ireland and a weekend in London but what I expected to feel when I went away isn't there. Aren't I supposed to feel amazed and fulfilled, like pieces are just clicking into place with ease? Here I am in a foreign country, seeing and experiencing new things, and yet I still feel like I need to do more. What more can I do?

Don't get me wrong, I love being here. I love all the people I've met (especially my friends of 10A) and everything has been great but sometimes I feel like I spend too much time either sitting in my room or sitting in my friend's room. Shouldn't I be out exploring? Drinking with the natives? Pushing my boundaries? Getting to know all that England has to offer? Maybe I built it up too much and now actually being here just isn't living up to my expectations.

But I'm here, aren't I? I made it here, I got myself here (with, of course, much help from my parents; let's be real). Shouldn't that be enough? Theoretically, everything should just fall into place and I shouldn't have to move too many pieces around. Or maybe that's the point--the pieces aren't all there and I have to seek them out. The picture isn't complete yet, but I don't quite know what I'm looking for so I'm just going around and looking, touching, feeling, learning--and maybe that's the whole point after all.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Oh hey.



Stop ignoring this. I promise it's real. I promise I am actually updating with the intent of updating again before the summer is over.

As the summer has progressed--




--I have taken note of a few things. 

Stop it. 

Stop what?? 


Well guess what I'm doing right now, I'm writing, so go away and never come ba-- 

You're pulling words out of your ass, that's what you're doing. Just stop now. This will never be a quality post.

Yeah, not with you being such a downer. Get out of here, Gollum, I'm trying to organize my thoughts. 


Quit it. 

You can't make me.

Yes, yes I can. This is my head and I control what goes on in it. Now go away. 

I will never leave you. I will constantly plague your mind with fear and doubt. May all your words be forced and all your writing never be good enough.

You're so mean. 

Well, boo-frickin-hoo. Get used to it.

I'm walking away now. I'm done. 


Monday, July 9, 2012

The metaphorical crossroads of life.

I feel like I've come to a sort of crossroads. A metaphorical one. I'm walking on the path of Life and all of a sudden, I've come to a fork in the road, or an intersection, really, and I've been kicking loose pebbles for a while, trying to decide what would be best for me.

I've reached a point where "real life" isn't such a far off thing, and "being an adult" isn't so much a thought as it is something that I actually need to do. I feel, as most people do, a little stressed, a little scared, a little helpless, and a little lost.

When having the "what are you doing after graduation" conversation with my parents, the most I've been able to come up with is...well, nothing really because I tend to just leave the room when the topic is brought up. It's like I think by avoiding it, I can continue to put it off. How very adult of me.

So that intersection I mentioned? Here's a brief summary of what each road looks like (may vary for other people):

Road #1: Do what's expected of me. Graduate college with my English degree in hand. Get a job, probably in New York. Pay bills. Pay off loans. Pay rent. Do adult things. Drink on the weekends. Repeat.

Road #2: Graduate with English degree. Go back to school for second bachelor's degree, preferably in Geology, leading to a more refined study in volcanoes. Study for several more years, possibly move out west, where volcanoes actually exist. Uproot my current existence for something I'm not sure I'll be any good at; move away from everything I know. It's like starting college over, basically.

Road #3: Obscured by mist. Possibly leads to a cliff, which maybe I can just jump off of.

And road #4 is the one I walked up on, and that would be my past on this metaphorical Life path, and turning around would do nothing for me. Not that standing in this intersection kicking pebbles is doing anything either, but maybe I'll get hit by a car, or lightning, or just start running down a path in front of me.

But basically, I no longer have any idea what I want to do. I feel something like this:

Do I subject myself to years of more school? More studying, more homework, more tests? Do I take this desire and run with it? Or do I stick with what I know? I know English, I know literature, I know New York City, I know needing a job. How do I know I won't hate the science once I start studying it seriously? Is this just a whim? Or is this a chance that I should take?

As usual, the best response I can come up with to any of these questions is, "I don't know."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stanley Cup fountain and the Rangers shuttle.

I spent most of today feeling very sleepy and out of it, especially during class, where I spent a good chunk of time taking illegible notes because I kept dozing off. That's what I get for staying up late to try and actually do homework. But then I remembered that the Stanley Cup was in Times Square so of course my energy levels shot up and I had to go in and see it.

21 feet tall! (I think, haha)
How could I pass up an opportunity to see this? Especially since it's only going to be there until Friday (or maybe Saturday, not sure), but either way I'm going to visit my friend this weekend, so today was my only chance to see it.

It's actually a fountain, and they gave out free cups and you could fill em up and drink. I was kind of iffy on drinking the water, but I did far so good, I'm still alive.

My cousin and I took a few more pictures, stood on the red stairs (still don't really understand the point of them, but you know, whatever), and then I remembered that the shuttle that runs from Grand Central Station to Times Square was Rangers-themed, so since I was in the city, I decided to go and check it out.


Inside the shuttle.
Best seats ever.
We ran up and down the length of the train, taking pictures of all the players featured there. We waited for it to go to Times Square and back twice before finally getting on and taking pictures of the inside. We tried to time it so we could run on as soon as everyone else was off and get a decent picture of the seats and everything, and then we were running around the train taking pictures of the doors and the ads and, pictured above, the awesome seats. :D

It was a quality afternoon, and now I'm watching the Penguins/Flyers first playoff game with a cup of coffee to get me through it. I'm also casually filling out study abroad forms, which is simultaneously stressing me out (so many forms, ugh) and making me really excited for the fall. :)

Something else to be excited about is this weekend, because I'm going to Stockton to see Jessica and Becca, and watch a Quidditch tournament. We've been planning this since we first heard about it--we're going ALL OUT. Robes, ties, wands, EVERYTHING. I'm so pumped because this week has been so long and tiring.

And my spring hockey season starts on Sunday, so I'm expecting this weekend will be pretty awesome. I am going to try and keep up with the blogging though Saturday might be difficult. But we'll see.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How hockey changed my life.

It's no secret by now that hockey is a huge, huge part of my life. I love hockey. Hockey is my life. Literally. At this point,  I don't know who I would be without it.

People always talk about things like books or maybe movies or inspirational people changing their lives. I've never heard a lot of talk about how a sport changed someone's life, but I'm sure that it's happened. Because it happened to me. I also feel like I'm one of those rare breed of combination nerd/hockey fan, so I gush about my love for hockey as freely as I wish.

I started playing hockey (again) in 2008. The last time I played hockey before that was elementary school. There was no sound reason or basis for wanting to play again. I was standing with my dad, watching my brother play, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I said, "Hey dad. What do you think about me starting to play hockey again?"

My original suggestion was roller hockey, but he suggested ice hockey instead, which I readily agreed to. I went through the painful process of buying and then breaking in all the equipment (skates were the worst, ugh), finding a team, trying out for the team, making the team. I did endless camps and clinics over the summer. Because I'd never skated much before, I remember doing a clinic every Sunday morning with kids probably ages 7 to 10. It was combination mortifying and hilarious. Eventually I progressed, and did clinics with kids my own age--it was still mortifying because I was awful. I didn't know how to stop and couldn't lift my shot to save my life.

But eventually, I got better. There was nowhere for my level of skill to go but up, and up it went. With every new camp that I went to over the summer, the more I fell in love with hockey. By the time I started practicing with a real team in October, I knew I was hooked. So much so that I somehow got it into my head that I should play on my high school's hockey team too, which was quite the experience.

That's where it all started. And for the next four years, my life was nothing but hockey games and practices and tournaments and trying to fit in homework and seeing my friends around all that. I complained bitterly during every season. At one point I hated it. But every March, when it was time to wash my equipment (shocking, I know, but I can't deal with the smell if I don't) and put it away, I wished for a few more months to play.

Hockey changed my life. Before I started playing again, I was just another quiet girl in high school, wondering what I could do to lose weight, make myself feel confident about myself. Getting back into skates not only helped me get in shape (the second year I played was the best shape I have ever been in. Ah, the good old days when I actually had upper body strength.) but helped me to feel better about myself. For the longest time, I wished I was more like my best friend, who is tiny and petite and stays skinny with virtually no trouble. I envied her so much for that because next to her I always felt fat and hulking and gigantic. I was never skinny, even after I'd been playing for a while, but hockey helped me come to terms with that. It was okay, being the size that I was (am). If I had the body type of my friend, I wouldn't be able to play hockey because I would take one hit and fall apart on the ice (no offense, Jessica). I've learned to throw my weight around and not be afraid to use it to my advantage, especially when playing with all guys.

But even more than that, hockey is one of the few things that can make me truly happy. It fills me up, it completes me; there is nothing that playing hockey can't fix for me. If I'm having a bad day, if I'm upset or angry and need to blow off steam, hockey is my go-to solution. I prioritize it over almost everything in my life. If I have a game at 8:15, get off the ice, and someone asks if I want to play another game, I will say yes with no hesitation. If you pose the question "hockey or _______," it is highly likely that my choice will be hockey.

I have never had anything I could be so passionate about. This doesn't just go for playing hockey, it also applies to being a hockey fan. People are sometimes mocked, I think, for being sports fans, and for getting so into something that you aren't even playing. We're not on the team, no, and we don't contribute to their wins or losses. But being a sports fan is about being a part of something that's bigger than yourself. It's about losing yourself in the joy of watching two teams battle it out for victory. It's about coming together in a community of people who all share the same passion. It's about realizing that no matter how many people tell you it's just a game, it's really not.

It's something to be passionate about. It's something to share with others. It's something that allows you to make bonds with people that will always last. It's something to love. It's something to live for.

Nothing will ever be greater than the feeling of lacing up my skates and stepping out onto the ice. The first puck drop. The last two minutes of desperation in a tie game. Getting worked up and emotional over what is technically a kid's game.

I can't explain what hockey is to me. Trying to describe how I feel about hockey is like trying to describe what being in love is like. If you've never felt it, you simply will never know. And that's as far as my words will take me.