Friday, March 30, 2012

Shine On

I like to think about the easy stuff. The nice, pretty, fun, safe stuff. When we start to venture into the world of death, difficulty, and darkness I don't always know what to think. Or say. I like to think I can explain just about everything with a generous dose of thoughtfulness and consideration. Just talk it out, right? 

Well, sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes it's mean, ugly, sad, dangerous, and confusing. March 30th, a beautiful day for a million other reasons, will always have a note of this darkness surrounding it. A year ago today, on a set of train tracks in the middle of the night, my friend Lindsay Huenink took her own life. 

I was in Spain when the e-mail entitled "Sad News..." from my camp director popped up in my inbox. I had volunteered as a camp counselor (where I also was a camper as a kid) for the past three summers and my fellow counselor Lindsay was one of the most vibrant girls I'd ever met. She was a girl who was just intrinsically popular and you had to love her. Always up to something fun, always laughing, always with friends, and of course always some guy was after her and that blonde hair. God gave her an inner spirit that was contagious. She was a senior in high school, a week before her prom, and with a pretty cool future ahead of her. I know it's kind to say these types of things about people after they pass on, but with Lindsay it's trueShe just had that "IT" factorShe and her best friend Jackie were co-counselors together. Two young and beautiful kindred spirits. 

Some bunk bed shenanigans with the 5th grade
boy cabin. Lindsay's the bombshell to my right.
So when I heard the news, I was just confused. I felt all of those emotions people tell me I'm supposed to feel when someone ends their own life: anger that she would do this to those of us left behind, love for her as I miss her spirit and wish I could laugh at something ridiculous she says one more time, and immense sadness for her that she had such a heaviness to bear on her own. A darkness that she thought she had to carry alone. My heart breaks for her family as this date comes around this year and each one after. I think of Jackie a lot and wonder how it would feel to lose your best friend like that. Ugh. What a helpless feeling. 

So what should we say? I think the answer has to be found in her life, not her death. That ugly seven-letter S-word (that I just can't bring myself to type) that characterized her death cannot characterize her life. A bright girl like her can't be defined by a darkness like that. What we can look at are those years she was here and the impact she did make. Each year I saw firsthand the way 5th and 6th grade girls in her cabin looked up to her and caught her spirit. She passed it on to her family, friends, even to me in those three summers we led at camp together. Her passing is a reminder to guard one another against that heavy darkness, a reminder to ensure that no one feels that they must carry that burden alone. When I think of Lindsay, I get reminded to Shine On, to keep fighting off that darkness for myself and others every day. I get reminded to rely on the assurance that the darkness may have claimed her earthly life, but has absolutely no say in her eternal one. 

I'm friends with the One who can explain it all and hopefully someday will. He knows what he's doing and he's got Lindsay right in his grip, where she's always been. So I guess it's a good thing I don't have to explain everything. Because when it comes to Lindsay, I just can't. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


One of my favorite Spain purchases - this dress. 
I think it kind of makes me look taller, which I don't need, but oh well. 

This spring has been a big tease. It lures me in with its 80 degree weeks and then TURNS on me today and says: "Thought you could wear skirts and dresses every day? Think again, fool!" (Read that in Anthony Hopkins' voice to make it sound more sinister.) This morning was a particularly rough reinitiation with the cold, as the heat on our house doesn't seem to want to work. Then, my shower decided to be cold too just for a double whammy. 60 degree house + 50 degree shower = Anna wearing her winter coat in March. So fashionable, all the time. I know. 

Pretty sure I should be living in 1948 riding a bicycle through town in this skirt.
This Anthro skirt reminds me of my
Grandma Gesch. 
I have a habit of putting this white t-shirt
under everything else I own.
Got these sandals for my friend Clara's wedding
and they are awesome. Like I'm walking on a pillow.
Except the pillow is a pair of shoes. 
This necklace was a miracle. It was my favorite
and then I lost it. And then it was on sale again
at American Eagle and I had a coupon. Fate!
This skirt has a tendency to fly up in the wind.
Kind of conducive to awkward moments. Gotta watch it.
Another Spain purchase. How I miss that place. Sigh.
When we were in Colorado Karley was wearing
jeans like this. An old man asked her, "Are you
having a spiritual experience? Because your jeans are holy."
I'm the worst about buying jewelry, but I recently picked up this
gold feather cuff. Since I have no idea how to accessorize, prepare
to see it in just about every other outfit pic.
Wore this to present my paper at an undergraduate
literary conference. Yes, I'm hip. 
Up at 6:30 on a Saturday. That's a dedicated English major if I ever saw one.
Annnnd back in boots after a week of summer
weather. Props to my friend Lauren for letting
me swipe the shirt. 
Wind blew my hair and created this moment. Aww.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Senior Citizens

Well, friends, it's late March in my senior year of college. Time to start getting sentimental, everyone! The other day we had our friends over for a cookout, walked over to the nearby school field for a game of pickup football, and finished the night climbing up on the roof of the house that my roommates and I rent. There was no talk of the future, no talk of homework, no talk of drama or stress, just good clean fun with good friends.

Of course, my cousin/roommate/bestie Karley got the ball rolling on getting everyone together. She always does. Been doing it for all four years of college. You want a game, event, or party planned where everyone is sure to have a good time? Put this chick in charge. It's a fun form of bossy. She tells you to have fun, and you just do. We'll call it leadership.

There was a point where I looked around and took a mental note of everyone milling around on our driveway and front lawn, eating hamburgers, and playing bean bags. I've known almost all of them for my whole college experience, and their friendships mean the world to me. And not just these people from this random time of being together, but all those Trinity people that have made my college life what it is. I have so many memories of pulling all-nighters, climbing the library roof, weekend get-togethers, soccer games, special downtown excursions, and 2 a.m. pizza runs that I could go on for hours. While we all are of age and are allowed to have a beer or two together, the thing I love most about my college friends is that we don't need a big keg in the middle of the room in order to have a good time. My senior class (and other class imports of course!) is full of people like this. 

There's something special about knowing a person for your whole time in college. My class has seen me at my weird freshman year stage, the naive Wisconsin girl with the Brett Favre poster above her bed. We had those weird first impressions that were righted with actually getting to know one another. We played the "freshman dating shuffle" for awhile and can laugh at the different "who liked who" situations that went down over the years. I definitely missed them for a semester away studying in Spain. We came in together and will leave together as we walk across the stage in May. The idea that in less than two months we won't be able to do this stuff all the time does not seem like a reality. It seems ridiculous! Why wouldn't I just text around to see whose house we're going to? It blows my mind that it's all wrapping up so quickly. 

And while this is so sad, it's exciting too. I know I'll hear about how everyone's lives continue, grow, and move along in unexpected and cool ways. I can't wait to see what happens to us. No matter how much time goes on after I'm away from my class, I know I have an amazing foundation of friendships and memories that will never go away. In less than two months I'll be starting on my own road. A slightly intimidating experience, to be sure, but I know it's possible to keep going along and growing on the way because it's happened already for the past four years with this group around me. It's doable. And I'm not scared, because they have successfully proved to me that God has a great little habit of putting fabulous people right in my path everywhere I go. 

Life is moving along quickly and it's going to be a long drive. But with people like this, the trip is worthwhile.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Midnight Obsessions

I have a few obsessions that I pick up here and there. I've jumped on a few bandwagons in my day. It all started with Giga pets, my 1996 Air Jordans, Beanie Babies, and Doodle Bears. The rest is history. These days my obsessions include bangs, chocolate silk soy milk, Zooey Deschanel and her TV show, high-waisted skirts, and this thing that you're reading - blogging. Tonight, I will indulge in TWO of my obsessions at THE SAME TIME: preteen book-to-movie series and midnight movie theater excursions.

I love movies. I love movies even more when there is a book that I can read before I see it. I love movies even MORE when in said book there is a vampire, werewolf, and an angsty annoying female main character. Yes, I am all-aboard the Twilight train. You may consider me a Twihard. I also love seeing movies at midnight. Since doing so in high school for the Pirates of the Caribbean, I've been dying to see every major movie come out at midnight. Harry Potters, Twilights, and the mother of all midnight showings: The Dark Knight in the summer of 2008. That was one of the best nights of my life. So when there is an opportunity for a midnight showing, I'm all in.

And yes, of course, I've jumped aboard The Hunger Games bandwagon, much later than most of my friends. So tonight, at 12:15 a.m., I will eagerly await the vision of Katniss as she gloriously readies that killer bow and arrow of hers.

Let me also clue you into why I love The Hunger Games: I'm a sucker for those spunky girl protagonists. Let me remind you that you are reading the blog of a girl who isn't always that normal. So, yes, when I like a character, I imagine that I myself am actually that main character. This happens a lot. I think I'm Skeeter Pheelan in The Help, using my journalistic skills to write a bestselling book to tell the story of oppressed locals. I think I'm Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, a tomboy who believes in the goodness of people while also understanding their capacity for evil. I think I'm Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, who fights social expectations and continues to be her witty self while finding her true love. I also happen to now believe that I am Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, who is brave, smart, and just plain badass all the time. Obviously this is me revealing my deepest, nerdiest habits to you, so please don't judge. Just let the English nerd do her stupid thing.

And while you might laugh at me now, just wait until The Capitol picks you in the reaping along with me. Then you'll be sorry.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wrap It Up

I'll admit it. I'm a reflector. Not in the shiny sense (not as into the glitter as my girl Ke$ha), but in the look-back-and-ponder sense, so today whilst sitting in class (sorry professors) I had to look back on our week in Colorado and remember the hilarious times we shared. What is a vacation or fun life event without a culminating, reflective, wrap-it-up exercise?! Here's a few snapshots of the week, including a trip to the ORIGINAL Chipotle, a Denver Nuggets game, driving through the mountains, $1 taco specials, the ubiquitous Tebow, a day of skiing, and margaritas with chips and salsa (perfection).

We also had a million memorable moments that are hard to explain so that they will be funny again. I will never forget the moment we pulled up to our rental house to find it in a...well...interesting neighborhood. Let's just say the nearest places of business had vertical bars on their windows. Maybe a decorative touch, right? I guess we'll never know why those bars were there. Either way, when we parked the cars in the driveway we all got out and doubled over in silent laughter attacks for a full 3 minutes before anyone could utter intelligible sentences. Needless to say, all went well, nothing went awry, and now I am considering decorative window bars for my future residencies. Oh you remember how my friend group has no mercy on each other? Well we kept track of each other's mess-ups and I know I have to bring the glorious mistakes to you: 

"I read Girl With the Dragon Tutu last year." - Anna

"You boys need shore sharts." - Karley

"You mean like Heinenkugels or Leineken?" - Mel

"I'm thinking on my toos." - Mel

"It's all that shunsine for sure." - Lauren

"Wipe that face off your look." - Karley

"I betcha he hurt his tailmone." - Anna

"We're laughing up here! We're having times!" - Lauren

"Drive well. Sleep safe." - Lauren 

Obviously, you spend enough hours together in a car/house/great outdoors and these slip-ups will happen. While I loved seeing the sights and exploring new places, the most fun I had was being with my friends the whole week. I learned in my semester abroad that so much of life is not where you are but who you're with. Let's be honest, I'd have had a blast even if we didn't make it past Nebraska. (Okay who am I kidding, nobody can stop Nebraska from being boring.) Nothing quite like a road trip for your senior year spring break. Ahhhh.

Now wasn't that a good reflecting session? Don't you all feel better? Me too. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

That's a NICE Boulder

Shoutouts to Shrek for the original quote for my title, and Sam Staal for his incessant repeating of said quote. On Thursday, we went to Red Rocks (I had to see such an epic concert venue!) on our way to Boulder, CO for the day. First of all, I've added seeing a concert at Red Rocks to my bucket list. It is a breathtaking place. We then made our way to Boulder for some delicious lunch, fun shopping, and INTERESTING people watching. In these parts smoking marijuana is legal as long as you have a prescription for it. I'm going out on a limb and guessing that most everyone here has a friend with a prescription. There was some janky stuff going on with these people, but hey, at least they were happy, right? Tomorrow (Saturday) we head back for the south suburbs of Chicago. While I am excited to not be paying money to be on a vacation, the blissful knowledge that I have no work or school obligations will be severely missed. Being on a road trip and exploring a new place with some of my best friends has been an awesome experience. I'm also excited to get back to the other members of the Trinity crew and hear about their breaks. It's been a fabulous way to spend my last spring break in college. I'll recap in a few days with some of my favorite quotes, roadtrip songs, and memories from the trip!

Hey layyydiesss
The official Boulder, CO boulder
Best chicken tortilla soup of my life
Shirtless men, moose statues, and rainbow legwarmers. Why not?
There were tons of adorable shops. I could've bought everything in here. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Copper Mountain

Wednesday, March 14th was an awesome day, although at times it was seeming to turn out like just the opposite. The whole spring break crew headed 90 minutes into the mountains for a day of skiing on Copper Mountain. My sister-in-law lent me her FLY North Face snow pants and I felt like I looked pretty cool. Now. I am not the most graceful person in the world. In fact, I'm really clumsy and tend to trip and fall without 6 foot boards strapped to my feet while going downhill slippery white surfaces. Before Wednesday I had been skiing once in my life, in eighth grade, in the UP (that's Upper Peninsula for all you non-midwesterners) 11 hours north of my hometown in Wisconsin. My method that time was to go directly straight down at blistering speeds until I fell or ran into something. That method can work on bunny hills in Northern Michigan when you are 13, but is not so hot up in the Rockies as an adult. Karley was kind enough to teach me how to snowplow and make my "S" shapes to make my way down.

Let's just say those first fifteen minutes were PRETTY DANG FRUSTRATING. I fell all awkwardly and got my knee twisted in weird angles until Karley shuffled over and unclipped my boot from the ski. After gulping back a few tears (and letting some others slip out) I got myself together and kept going. Karley, Mel, and Susan hung with me all day and were the most patient friends a girl could ask for. Each time down I got a little bit better and by the time lunch rolled around I could make it down without falling (okay maybe only once or twice) the whole time down. Let me tell you, I felt so accomplished! Nevermind the fact that four-year-olds were passing me left and right like it was their job. Nevermind the fact that I fell while getting off not one, but two ski lifts. Ha. That must've looked HILARIOUS. But I digress. The sky was perfectly blue, the snow was blindingly white, the trees were dark green, and the air was cold and fresh. Leisurely making my way down the hill while staring at the breathtaking mountains in front of me is a memory I won't forget. It was SUCH a good time. The video footage below, taken at the top of our favorite little hill, is evidence of these good times. Get yourself out here and spend a day in the mountains! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Downtown Denvah

I like saying "Denver" in a low, gravelly "DEN-VAH!" for emphasis. While we got our wilderness fix yesterday, today we ventured into the city for lots of walking, wandering, exploring, and soaking up the sunshine. We left the house before noon and ate lunch at the ORIGINAL Chipotle (this is a big deal to us; an unnatural percentage of our meals out at Trinity take place at Chipotle), and headed downtown afterwards. After all afternoon out, we finished the night at the Pepsi Center for a Nuggets-Hawks game. Our seats were awesome. And by awesome I mean they were the third from the very top and cost us $5.00 each.
We make the boys take lots of pictures of us.
These pictures were just from today's afternoon activities. We are currently all laying around,  as tired as ever from walking all day. Tonight will have to be a good night of sleep, because tomorrow we are skiing all day long. While I am seriously excited for this adventure, I AM TERRIFIED. I don't happen to be the most coordinated, graceful person on earth and I've only ever gone once in eighth grade. I'll let you know how it goes. Who knows, maybe I'll be the next Picabo Street?! Or maybe not and I'll be content with conquering the bunny hill. That too.

Medicinal Marijuana. Hmmmm. I saw a lot of people with prescriptions.

Wanna sip? I have so much love for Jamba Juice. 
It's just not vacation without a Forever 21 purchase.
Gigi's cupcake stand
Karley and I split one

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rocky Mountain High

Well folks, we're here! On Saturday night at 11:00, seven of us piled ourselves and our possessions into two cars and made the 16-hour trek to Denver, Colorado for our spring break trip. My shift of driving took place from 4:30-8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, and thank goodness for Rihanna because she is the only reason I stayed awake. My friends Matt, Caleb, Mel, Lauren, Susan, Karley, and I drove to meet Jon (Susan's fiancé and our friend) at his latest home in the mountains. This morning we got our first taste of the great outdoors with a 6 mile hike at White Range Park in the mountains. Even though snow is on the ground in lots of these pictures (taken with the new camera!), the temperature was a beautiful 70 degrees, the air was fresh, the sarcasm was flying, the laughter endless, and we had a fabulous time. Friends, it doesn't get better than days like today!