The only dreams that matter are the ones you have when you’re awake.

I think I’m gonna do it.

Remember my last post when I was bemoaning my boring life and not really looking forward to the summer, but at the same time, totally inspired to do something — except that I didn’t know what it was?

I think I’m going to do a fashion blog. I’ve been talking about it forever, but I think this summer, I’m actually going to do it.

I think I’ll have a separate blog (title pending…) but I will continue to post on this one and the other. This one is still near and dear to my heart and I don’t want to see it go just yet. I still plan on writing a book this summer — by the way, dear reader, I’m very open to suggestions since I have no idea what the plot is going to be at all. I don’t even have one single character idea.

That’s my little update.

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It’s like the longing in the whistle of a faraway train. Except that the longing is in you.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, I want to take advantage of everything that life has to offer. I want to go out this summer and go something exciting, to write a second book, to get a job as a barista at Starbucks because it sounds like a fun new experience, to work in a research lab because I would love to learn more about science, to do something that I can look back and think “yes, that was a summer that impacted me.”

On the other hand, I’m bored with going through the motions. I’m just flipping through the pages so that I can take the test, just breathing in and out so I can keep trudging on the same sidewalks, just waking up early to get the stuff done and then collapse when I get home.

I can’t decide if I’m restless or just plain bored.

Maybe I’m overthinking things because I’m halfway done with my college career and I’m halfway done with finals week. Maybe the coffee I drank this morning was accidently decaf. Maybe my brain has turned to mush from memorizing all these concepts.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I want to start running early in the morning – maybe early enough that I can see the sunrise and chase it across the bridge over the water. That explains the restless sensation.

I also want a change of scenery. I want to go out and do things. I want to shop at an open-air market and cook a new recipe. I want to read a new book that actually interests me. I want to explore something. Maybe this summer, I’ll make it a goal to meet one new person per week. Or maybe not because I’m introverted and have the tendency to be a bit shy. Either way, that explains the bored feeling.

Call it wanderlust. Call it boredom. Call it whatever you wish. I don’t have the words to explain it, but perhaps my silence on the matter will communicate it more clearly than all these words on the page. I have half a mind to delete this whole post because it’s not saying anything remotely important.

But I won’t.

Because I’m saying something and maybe that the important part.

Most people don’t grow up but all people age.

When I was five, I looked at college students and thought they were old. They were burdened with the task of gathering as much information about the world as they could.

They were different than adults in that way. The adults had gathered the information as college students, sifted through it to discover what they wanted to focus on, and then had thrown the rest away. But college students — no, they knew it all and hadn’t picked through the facts yet. They stuffed those pieces of information in their brain and let them ferment until something sprouted from their fertile mind.

Now that I’m a college student, I see it slightly differently. I miss the naivety of childhood. I know more than I ever have before and I have more questions than ever.

Did you know that I probably have six cancerous sites in my body at this moment? And did you also know that my body is in the process of killing them all off? Some cells in my body are literally committing suicide by blowing themselves up. I’m made up of a million little terrorists.

I have the knowledge to make poisons and antidotes, to create free radicals and carcinogens, to create the puzzle pieces that make a person. I can take the chemical responsible for the cinnamon smell and transform it into the chemical that is responsible for the smell of oranges.

All that and I still struggle with balancing my checkbook.

I’m halfway through college. This moment is the oldest I have ever been and the youngest I will ever be again. I’m aging the whole time but I’m not sure if there will ever come a point when I fully grow up.

I like picking wildflowers, making flower crowns, and then wearing that Nature’s tiara. I like reading nerdy books about the periodic table and articles about fruit fly sperm (let me explain: I recently have been accepted to perform genetic research on fruit flies and a segregation distorter gene in fruit fly sperm. In layman’s terms, I will be tracking this gene and how it impacts the creation of proteins in a mutated location in the nucleus.) I like blogging and watching Netflix. I like dancing in the rain and splashing in puddles. I like applying red lipstick just so it leaves a cool looking stain on my coffee cup. I like talking in random accents, and one day I want to convince a stranger that I’m from a different country.

If these things make me old, then I gladly accept that title. If these things make me a grown up, I don’t believe you for a second.

P.S I got the highest grade in the class on my organic chemistry and I want to brag to someone.

The Drowning Instinct: where drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

I’m coming up for a breath.

I’m sorry for my absence. I just needed to take a break. With everything that’s happened this month, I needed to take a step back from this little blog.

Between lobbying for the ICI, presenting research at the conference at Purdue, all the huge projects for my classes, in addition to studying for finals next week and the two tests and a lab practical that I have this week, I’m drowning in responsibilities.

When I wade into responsibility, I immediately swamp myself in other people’s expectations.

I can’t breathe.

It’s amazing how I can handle these 8am-8pm days and then still be able to smile and small talk and name-drop like I should. Everything leads to something else, it seems.

The worst part is that I’m not physically tired. I’ve been doing my best to go to bed before midnight and so I get about 6 hours of sleep a night (which is great for college life, by the way). I can’t even use the excuse that I’m tired because technically I’m not. Mentally drained, maybe.

I’m gasping now and swallowing more water than air.

Maybe it’s hitting me incredibly hard because I just took an organic chemistry exam and I feel sick just thinking about getting the grade back. I studied but I studied the wrong thing…isn’t that disgusting? My professor is very supportive of me and she inspires me to study as often as I do but our friendship only adds to the pounds of expectations weighing me down.

Help. But now it’s too late. I’m so deep, I can’t force the word through the tons of water rushing into the welcoming pathways in my lungs filled with air bubbles that squirm out of the way.

I’m not sure that I have the time to post on this little blog till the end of next week. I’ll see you then.

“Everybody breaks sooner or later, Bob. Anyone can drown. Sometimes you see it. Most often, you
don’t because the body protects and the skin hides, so drowning doesn’t look like drowning and some
people scar so nicely. Take it from an expert.”
Ilsa Bick, The Drowning Instinct

She made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute.

I’ve been invited to represent my college tomorrow at the Statehouse in order to thank the state representatives for continued funding of private schools.

I’m a woman.

Now, you may be wondering how those two sentences go together. But they do.

I have been told to wear a suit of some sort. I have a blazer, just like the guys. I have a collared shirt, just like the guys. However, I have another option that the guys do not: pencil skirts.

I don’t care who you are, you gotta love a good-fitting pencil skirt.

Therein lies the dilemma. Do I wear a pencil skirt and know that I look good, that I look like a woman, that the first thing people will assume about me is that I have the body that got me invited but not necessarily the brains to go with it? Or do I wear the pants that aren’t exactly flattering in order to look the part of a woman who has the brains and doesn’t require the looks?

The real issue that bothers me is that if I do look good, I don’t necessarily look smart. And vice versa. That’s the issue, here. The fact is, I can be both smart and pretty and yet I’m still judged by one or the other.

It may be slightly hypocritical of me to say these things because there’s a good chance (like 100% chance) that I judge other people on the exact same thing. So basically this post is just me complaining that I don’t know what to wear tomorrow.

Maybe that’s the real issue here.

Shallow men believe in luck or circumstance but strong men believe in cause and effect.

For those of you who may not know, I have been selected to present research at Purdue University Calumet at their 23rd Annual Clement S. Stacy Undergraduate Research Conference.

For those of who do know, I sound like a broken record. However, it’s not everyday that I have the possibility to get my papers published (maybe)!

That being said, I’ve been reading through my paper to edit it and get it speech-worthy. I figured I’d offer you just a snippet of the topic: Literary Darwinism. This is just the basic introduction of how I’m applying this literary criticism to my book of choice (The Count of Monte Cristo — one of my personal favorites, by the way). Feedback anyone?

“In order to evaluate the developmental process of creating quality characters, the characters themselves should be assessed as if they were human beings – that is, living and breathing human beings. Since the author was inspired by real people and real interactions during the creation of these characters, it makes sense to treat them as such. In this way, it will be easy to apply the principles of Literary Darwinism to explain their behavior. By introducing theories such as “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection,” this type of criticism has a way of explaining how naturally the characters act.

But is it possible to implement too many of these principles and overwhelm the reader with meanings of the actions of the characters based on science? Since literary Darwinist criticism blends the fields of literature and science, it could be a concern that certain concepts could overextend their applicability. According to Joseph Carroll, one of the lead supporters of the literary Darwinist theory and author of the book Literary Darwinism, this will not impact the quality of the criticism. In fact, looking at literature from this lens is enlightening. Carroll says that the only way that one could incorrectly perform this criticism is by “not combing a sufficient number of analytic elements from an evolutionary view of human nature and by not considering sufficiently the way the elements of human nature interact with environmental conditions, including cultural conditions” (DiSalvo, 2009).

The founder of this criticism, E.O. Wilson would agree – although not in so many words. Wilson co-authored the book Genes, Mind, and Culture: The Coevolutionary Process in order to explain how society has just as strong of an influence on behavior as biology. By working out the math behind the concept of cultural impact on behavior, Wilson created the idea of “sociobiology” (DiSalvo, 2009). Sociobiology is exactly what the name would imply: a mixture of societal and biological influences on human nature. While the principles of “survival of the fittest,” “natural selection,” and dominance behaviors all have an impact on the process of searching for meaning in human nature, sociobiology is the driving science behind this criticism.”

This is my work. Please don’t copy or paste this work anywhere else without giving me due credit (see APA citation below). Also, it’s super exciting to have my name in a citation now!

Sheltz, S. (2014). Several Literary Criticisms of Character Development in The Count of Monte Cristo. pp 3-4. Print.