Tuesday, December 31, 2013

new years eve

As I am sure all of you will have realized, it is New Year's Eve.
At least it is here in snowy Washington. Obviously there are other places in the world where it's already 2014, but for me and my point in time, 2013 remains.

If you're looking for it, here's my 2013-2014, end of the year, reflection type post.
And here's Christmas.

I start school next Monday. I'm a little bit anxious about it really. I've been rather excited. Then the excitement changed to completely ignoring the fact, to being stressed about it.
I know I shouldn't be worried about it, and that I'll do fine, but here I am; anxious.

I've been sick these past couple weeks. First with that which was akin to the flu, and now with something that is either a head cold, or a sinus infection. I really don't recommend it.

My listening has again broadened this past week or so, having downloaded some new albums.
My recently added playlist currently consists of:
Disc 1 of Devotion by Anberlin
the soundtrack for Pitch Perfect
a couple of Josh Garrels albums I didn't have
A Song For The Search by Solstice
Speak Every Word by This is the Giant
Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
and finally Rise by Skillet
and We As Human's title album since I should be seeing them in concert next month.

And of course, I am still thoroughly enjoying the album Bad Blood by Bastille, as well as the American Authors self titled EP.
The album I feel taking me into the new year however, is one that I listened to very much this summer, Love Lust Faith + Dreams by Thirty Seconds to Mars. What is probably my favorite song from the album, Do or Die, inspired my typography/art at the top of the post. (have a listen coming tomorrow!)

I am hoping to be finishing Fellowship Of The Ring today, to add another check to the number of times I've read it. Planning to follow it with Two Towers at some point, though quite possibly not before I finish The Silmarillion and Girl In The Arena, which I'm also re-reading. Not entirely sure. But I've been trying to reignite my passion for reading to what it once was.

Friday I am eagerly awaiting my chance to go and see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. An avid Jackson and Tolkien fan though I am, I have yet to see this long anticipated continuation of the trilogy's prequel. Our movie theater is small, and privately owned. One movie a week, Friday - Monday, one showing per day at 7pm. Thus we are lucky to get movies a month or so after their general release. It's an understatement to say I'm excited.

I am hoping to spend my New Year's Eve with a dear friend, marathoning Sherlock in geeky anticipation for the season three return, tomorrow.

Right now however, I have chores to finish, work I should do, and reading I'd really like to do.

See you all next year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

merry christmas

Christmas was a quiet day for us, hanging out, enjoying special foods we don't get the rest of the year, listening to Christmas movies.

I spent some time over the Eve and Day of Christmas learning to shoot manually with my camera, it's something I enjoyed immensely, and many of the pictures above are posted as I shot them, edit-less (except for my watermark, of course).

From my family to yours, wishing you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

LISTENING: songs for christmas (ep) by branches WATCHING: doctor who christmas special

Sunday, December 22, 2013

this is 2014

It's almost 2014, and once again all I can think of are all the things I haven't accomplished. All the things I haven't started, finished, done, thought through.

There's always something holding me back.
And really just me.

I am my own worst enemy.
I am a procrastinator, I am a worrier, I am fearful.

I am so fearful I often dare not dream. I dare not dream because dreaming leads to hope, and then, sooner rather than later, reality swoops in and beats it all to a bloody, bloody death. Then all I am left with is wishing, and imaginings. Things that are unfulfilling, distracting, wasting.

I don't put special stock in 2014.
Every year holds something new, and different. Whether the new and different is another experience of pain or happiness or exploration, all lead to growth.
I don't put special meaning on 2014.
Because every time I put a special meaning on yet another year, I always find myself at the end of that year with a handful of regrets for everything I built it up to be.

As I am here, on my computer, under my bed, in my room, hoping that this is to be my last day of sickness, I am reading my post from the beginning of this year. This post.

And I am filled with what feels like a hot, molten ball of lead in my stomach.
And at the same time, a feeling akin to flight.

Perhaps it is just whatever bug that has been being fought off by my body, perhaps it is something else.

Perhaps it is that though
I did not go to National Fine Arts Festival, for it was no longer for me.
I didn't finish math particularly.
I haven't yet paid of my computer.
I don't yet know how to use all the programs on my computer.
I haven't yet figured out what I want to go to college for.
I still fell into rationalizing my way out of opportunities when things sounded too risky or too hard.
I didn't yet see my best friends book published.
I did other things. Things that I didn't particularly imagine.

Because this year, this year I made headway.

I learned Flash and Photoshop. And got college credits for them to boot. That's not all the programs, but it's two classes, two down, and I'm starting to teach myself DreamWeaver. Not to mention figuring out Lightroom.

I have my computer more than half payed off. I worked hard, I payed ahead, I haven't missed one payment yet.

I did find a way to pay for college, in a manner. I asked for help. I was encouraged and supported by my parents to get financial aid, to continue working on my general classes and get my AA degree.

And while there is always the temptation to back down, I stood my ground this year.

I'm a leader in our youth group. Because I don't just know it's where I'm supposed to be, I believe it.

I learned to not let myself be walked on just because I'm an employee. I have knowledge, I have experience, and I will not be treated any less.

I went to Colorado for a month. I spent time with my best friend. I got lost. I took pictures (though not as many as I'd like). I wasn't expecting to go to Colorado. I worked hard to go to Colorado. I traveled on my own for the first time, I took care of myself. Yeah, it was little compared to the feats of many others, but for me, for me it was huge.

I learned so much, about other people, what they believe, about what I believe. I've grown as a person.

I've learned that it's okay to be a geek, a nerd, a dork. To be intensely passionate about something. Even if it is "just a story". Because too many people go through life missing out on allowing themselves to love something, to connect with something, to know way to much about something, to let themselves enjoy something so wholly.

I haven't yet seen my best friends book published. But I believe her time is coming, that her book is amazing, and that even greater things are in her future, it's only just a matter of timing.

So 2013. I tried. I did. I finished. I failed. I worried.
But I succeeded.

And yeah, yeah there's regrets. There's always regrets.
Even if they're little ones we don't realize, or pretend them away, they are always there.
I think that's one of the great lies of the fantasy we mix with reality in our society. That the most meaningful victories are those made without regrets. There are always regrets. There always will be. It's how you handle them, how you live with them, how you move on from them, that matters.

So you know what, maybe I'm not exactly where I want to be as 2014 rounds the corner. I'm not where I wish, imagine, or dream to be. But those are just wishes, imaginings, and dreams.
I want the authentic, I want to make my reality better than a fantasy. In its reality.

So 2014. One way or another, I have no idea what it holds. It is another year.
I don't have a word for it. I don't have a dream, or a list, or a resolution for it. I don't put special stock, or meaning into it.
Instead I put special stock, special meaning, into me.
In what I will do, in what God will do, because when it comes to both perhaps the best thing is that I have no idea.

carpe diem // patientia // memento mori // memento vivre

Friday, December 20, 2013

a small update

I haven't updated in a while, this week wound up being kind of busy, and then well, I got sick.
That's where I'm at now in fact. Laying on our unfolded fouton, wrapped in blankets, watching tv and typing this out on my iPod.
I woke up yesterday morning feeling like my skull had been bashed in, accompanied by the weight of naseua, and such feelings persisted as I had no choice but to adopt a bucket as a companion for the rest of the day. 
Luckily today the bucket and I aren't so close, and with lots of water and ibuprofen I've been managing to keep the headache at bay. 

LISTENING: christmas song by flyleaf (re)READING: fellowship of the ring by j.r.r. tolkien WATCHING: 2 broke girls

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

have a listen // i see fire

oh misty eye of the mountain below
keep careful watch of my brothers’ souls
and should the sky be filled with fire and smoke
keep watching over Durin’s son

if this is to end in fire
then we shall all burn together
watch the flames climb high
into the night
calling out father
stand by and we will
watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side

and if we should die tonight
then we should all die together
raise a glass of wine
for the last time
calling out father
prepare as we will
watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
desolation comes upon the sky

now I see fire
inside the mountain
I see fire
burning the trees
and I see fire
hollowing souls
I see fire
blood in the breeze
and I hope that you’ll remember me

should my people fall
then surely I’ll do the same
confined in mountain halls
we got too close to the flame
calling out father
hold fast and we will
watch the flames burn auburn on the mountain side
desolation comes upon the sky

now I see fire
inside the mountain
I see fire
burning the trees
and I see fire
hollowing souls
I see fire
blood in the breeze
and I hope that you’ll remember me

and if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
for if the dark returns then
my brothers will die
and as the sky’s falling down
it crashed into this lonely town
and with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

and I see fire
inside the mountain
I see fire
burning the trees
I see fire
hollowing souls
I see fire
blood in the breeze

I see fire
oh you know I saw a city burning (fire)
I see fire
feel the heat upon my skin (fire)
and I see fire (fire)
and I see fire burn auburn on the mountain side

Monday, December 16, 2013


I made a decision the other night.
A decision I personally look at as being rather adult.
I was concise, logical, I thought it through, and asked for advice.

You see, every month, I make a payment on my computer I bought last year.
I'm really very happy that as of a few months ago, I have it more than half paid off.

I worked again this fall cleaning, and made several more payments ahead. After that job was done for the season, I had a couple of payments that have been sitting on my desk yet unsent.

I had meant to send them sooner, get them off in the mail and be paid up until February.
But something kind of held me back.
I wasn't sure what, and figured there must be some reason to hold off on sending these until I had to.

Well, Friday of last week there was a 24 hour sale on refurbished items in the Nikon store.

For those of you who don't know, I rather enjoy photography, have a knack for it too I've been told.
I've shot a couple weddings of friends and family, done some senior pictures, but I've had to actually turn down job opportunities.
The reason being, I haven't had a lens small enough to achieve many shots and settings.

The lens I have is a rather large, 55-200 mm. I love it, and it's so perfect in it's wide range of uses. I really couldn't be happier with it. Except when I'm indoors, in a confined space.
For the uninitiated, this is because due to it's specs I have to be a minimum of 4-5 feet away from the subject of my photo. And in close quarters, low light situations, or just plain inside most places, things can get blurry, difficult, and downright unachievable.

Because of this I've been striving for a 35mm lens for over a year. Good for landscapes, beautiful background blur, all around photographical situations, and, of course, good for close quarters, indoors, and low light situations.

So, back to last Friday.
Nikon's refurbished lenses are already slightly more affordable due to the fact that they did, at some point, have to be repaired.
My family has always had good luck with refurbished items, and in many cases it's almost a better buy because kinks have been worked out in advance (not to mention the price cut).
On top of that advantage, all the refurbished items were marked down further for the holiday season and for that 24 hours there was an additional 10% off.

I know, 10% really doesn't sound like all that much, and it usually isn't.
But for someone like me, with limited job opportunities in my area, and computer payments, every little bit helps.
And: refurbished + holiday season + 10% off = about $50 cheaper than buying it new.

A deal I could't turn down.

I decided to use my Christmas gift money from my parents, and some of my Jan-Feb payment for my computer, and purchase the lens.
I figure this way, I can get some senior shoots in, finish some other jobs, and with any luck be able to have all the funds back for the next payment in January.

It hasn't shipped just yet, but I'm hoping that it will be here by the end of the week!

In the mean time, I've started to offer a senior photography package in my area, am hoping to be getting some bookings; and all of you can go and check out my flickr.

LISTENING: i see fire by ed sheeran (re)READING: fellowship of the ring by j.r.r. tolkien WATCHING: 2 broke girls

have a listen // things we lost in the fire

things we lost to the flames
things we'll never see again

all that we've amassed
sits before us
shattered into ash

these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire
these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire

we sat and made a list
of all the things that we had
down the backs of table tops
ticket stubs and your diaries

I read them all one day
when loneliness came and you were away
oh they told me nothing new
but I love to read the words you used

these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire
these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire

<< oh >>

I was the match
and you were the rock
maybe we started this fire

we sat apart and watched
all we had burned on the pyre

(you said) we were born with nothing
and we sure as hell have nothing now

these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire
these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire

do you understand that we will never be the same again?

the future's in our hands and we will never be the same again

these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire
these are the things
the things we lost
the things we lost in the fire fire fire

these are the things
the things we lost
these are the things we lost in the fire fire fire

<< oh >>

flames – they licked the walls
tenderly they turned to dust
all that I adore

Saturday, December 14, 2013

have a listen // fuel to fire

do you want me on your mind
or do you want me
to go on
I might be yours
as sure as I can say
be gone be faraway

roses on parade
they follow you around
upon your shore
as sure as I can say
be gone be faraway

like fuel to fire

into the town we go
into your hideaway
where the towers grow
gone to be faraway
sing quietly along

pious words to cry into the under
upon your shore
as sure as I can say
be gone be faraway

oh what a day to choose
torn by the hours
all that I say to you
is like fuel to fire

into the town we go
into your hideaway
where the towers grow
gone to be faraway
never do we know
never do they give away
where the towers grow
only you will hear them say
sing quietly along
sing quietly along

Friday, December 13, 2013

the bullying experiment

This came across one of my social media feeds yesterday, and after sharing it on Facebook, today I realized I wanted to post it here to share with all of you (however many or few there may be).

Bullying is a seriously problem, especially in America.
One of the most horrible consequences of bullying is suicide, and bullying is most common inside our schools.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for Americans age 15-24. [x]

I know first hands the effects bullying has. And despite all the anti-bullying campaigns schools implement, it doesn't do much unless we all get serious about standing up and saying no.

I've always been taught by my parents to fight back, to fight for those who can't, to stand up for what I believe in and say "no, this isn't okay" when something is happening that isn't right or that I don't agree with.

In my own experience, I've come to know that standing by and doing noting, being a bystander when someone is being bullied, is just as bad as doing the bullying yourself.

Please, please, please, keep yourself and others safe. Bullying can only be prevented, and stopped, if we stop it. If we stand up, and we say ENOUGH.

have a laugh // asdfmovie

If you're not in on random, internet comedy, the following series of flashy quick animated hilarities, are probably not for you.
Whether asdfmovie is an old favorite, or you're new, if you tread forward I do so sincerely hope you have a laugh.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

have a listen // flaws

when all of your flaws
and all of my flaws
are laid out one by one
a wonderful part of the mess that we made
we pick ourselves undone

all of your flaws
and all of my flaws
they lie there hand in hand
ones we've inherited
ones that we learned
they pass from man to man

there's a hole in my soul
I can't fill it
I can't fill it
there's a hole in my soul
can you fill it
can you fill it

you have always worn your flaws
upon your sleeve
and I have always buried them
deep beneath the ground
dig them up
let's finish what we've started
dig them up
so nothing's left unturned

all of your flaws
and all of my flaws
when they have been exhumed
we'll see that we need them
to be who we are
without them we'd be doomed

there's a hole in my soul
I can't fill it
I can't fill it
there's a hole in my soul
can you fill it
can you fill it

you have always worn your flaws
upon your sleeve
and I have always buried them
deep beneath the ground
dig them up
let's finish what we've started
dig them up
so nothing's left unturned

<< oh >>

when all of your flaws
and all of my flaws
are counted

you have always worn your flaws
upon your sleeve
and I have always buried them
deep beneath the ground
dig them up
let's finish what we've started
dig them up
so nothing's left unturned

<< oh >>

all of your flaws
and all of my flaws
are laid out one by one
a wonderful part of the mess that we made
we pick ourselves undone

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

geekery, school, and blogging

If you're reading this, you may have noticed that just yesterday I launched a new design for Concrete & Grace!
(Or, if you're reading this via bloglovin, or an email subscription, click here to check it out!)

I was going to go with a classic black and white, but along the way the idea of a deep blue background and coinciding color scheme invokative of the winter night sky just wouldn't leave my mind. Obviously it's not that far template-wise from what I had, but it is simple, elegant even. And most of all: I really, really like the change.

I've used the back-to-back C&G logo in the past, but wanted to bring it back in a more classic font (Times New Roman has grown on me.) for it to have uses further into the future. Inspiration for it can be closely linked to the well known Chanel logo.

In other news, yesterday I finished getting my financial aid stuff worked out, and am officially - and happily - registered for classes! Registered, with textbooks reserved, and extra funds awarded left over! I am so incredibly thankful!

I only have three classes right now, just enough to fulfill my requirements for financial aid (12 credit minimum). Just general, get it out of the way classes. Namely: music appreciation, intro to film, and a computer sciences class focusing on Excel.

If you happen to follow me on tumblr, or on Instagram, you may know I'm a fan of a podcast called Welcome To Night Vale. It's bizarre, funny, and not for every person; but I adore it.
For incredibly nerdy reasons that involve both WTNV and Star Trek, I am in love with this shirt I bought a few weeks ago that arrived in the mail on Monday.

In fact, I am very much wearing it today!

Last night my family and I watched Epic for the first time; and I have to say, I wish I had taken the time to see it sooner!
I thoroughly enjoyed it, from the soundtrack, to the comedy, the action, the vocal talent, to (of course) the gorgeous animation.
It earns a definite recommendation from me!

That's really all I have for now, but don't miss today's other post; one of my recent, favorite songs, from one of the albums I've had on repeat for the last month. And check back in tomorrow for some more tunes, and Friday for some hilarity in the form of a favorite YouTube video.

LISTENING: aventine (album) by agnes obel (re)READING: fellowship of the ring by j.r.r. tolkien WATCHING: epic

have a listen // the silence

I have been greatly enjoying one album in particular as of late, one I only recently got my hands on.
I speak of Bad Blood by Bastille.
It receives a thorough recommendation from me, for both the particularity of the music itself, and for the lyrics.

Every morning for over a week after I downloaded the album I had one of the songs playing in my head when I woke up.

So sit back, get out your headphones, and have a listen.

tell me a piece of your history
that you're proud to call your own

speak in words you picked up
as you walked through life alone

we used to swim in your stories
and be pulled down by their tide
choking on the words
and drowning with no air inside

now you've hit a wall and it's not your fault
my dear, my dear, my dear

now you've hit a wall and you've hit it hard
my dear, my dear, oh dear

it is not enough to be dumbstruck
can you fill the silence
you must have the words in that head of yours


<< oh >>

can you feel the silence
I can't take it anymore
'cause it is not enough to be dumbstruck
can you fill the silence

tell me a piece of your history
that you've never said out loud

pull the rug beneath my feet
and shake me to the ground

wrap me around your fingers
break the silence open wide

and before it seeps into my ears
it fills me up from the inside

now you've hit a wall and you're lost for words
my dear, my dear, my dear
now you've hit a wall and you hit it hard
my dear, my dear, oh dear

it is not enough to be dumbstruck
can you fill this silence
you must have the words in that head of yours


<< oh >>

can you feel the silence
I can't take it anymore
'cause it is not enough to be dumbstruck
can you fill the silence

if you give it a name
then it's already won
what you good for
what you good for

it is not enough to be dumbstruck
can you fill this silence
you must have the words in that head of yours


<< oh >>

can you feel the silence
I can't take it anymore
'cause it is not enough to be dumbstruck

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

and winter came

Winter arrived. It came on the wind, arriving stealthily in the night just as everyone in our small community seemed to have finally accepted summers end, and falls fire.

That's often how it is here. The seasons go on changing, but no one can seem to accept them, or even enjoy them to their fullest as they're too caught up in mourning the passing of the last.

Me, I do so love the changing seasons. I take joy in savoring each moment of every one of them.
The first buds of spring, the lake in summer, every aspect of fall, and the clear, cold, starry, snow filled skies of winter.

Seasons change on the wind. If you have a knack for it, you can hear the next coming.
Each has their own sound, their own smell. Their own feeling that can call upon memories of seasons past.

Though it seems like the seasons are changing faster than ever, I'm finding that it's all the more reason to enjoy every aspect of each of them.
To seize the day.

carpe diem // patientia // memento mori // memento vivre.

here's to life

LISTENING: bad blood (album) by bastille (re)READING: fellowship of the ring by j.r.r. tolkien WATCHING: 2 broke girls

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Here's the thing...

I haven't posted in months. In fact, I have started many, many posts but have found myself unable to finish them because I become overwhelmed with my excuses and recapping.
As it is I have considered on more than one occasion whether or not I should "abandon" this blog completely.

That isn't going to happen; the recapping, excuses, nor abandonment.

So this post isn't a recap of everything that has happened since I last posted. It isn't any excuses for my lack of ambition towards this blog.

It is just a post. A post about how I am, and what is happening now.

As of right now, on the eve of a new Monday, I have many things I need to accomplish this week.

The one closest to my mind is some rather big news.
I have been wading my way through the financial aid process this fall at the continued insistence, encouragement, and support of my parents. While it, both their support, insistence, and encouragement, and the process, have at times been completely overwhelming to me - carrying the anxiety that I do - I am very glad for all the help I've had. Not only from my parents, but from an old teacher and very much from the lovely lady who works at the local branch of the closest community college.
It's been harrowing for me to say the least.
But I pressed on, in no small feat for one such as myself. (non-committment girl)

While my biggest anxiety springs from the doubts about my future, not solidly knowing just what I want to do, study, or even if I wanted to go to college, I find myself very...relieved, at where I find myself.

When it became clear that I should be eligible for what could be really good financial aid, I had to decide.
Since I have been working already for a couple years, gathering credits in general classes -  such as history, english, and the like - it became clear that if everything were to be paid for, I might as well continue in that and obtain my AA degree.
All that general stuff that takes up two years in normal college.
At least then it's more transferable than just credits of classes completed, and it's that much less I'll have to find a way to pay for should I decide upon attending a university to have a more focused study.

After all the paperwork and communication it took, it was time to wait. And for the last month and a half (give or take a few days) I have been waiting. First, waiting for the last form to go through, and then mostly and mainly just waiting to be awarded funds.

I am on the brink of exuberance when I say that, upon checking just this past week, I was finally awarded funds for winter, and spring quarter!

Tomorrow, I am hoping to find out just what all it is covering. With any luck there will be some left over for textbooks. Fingers crossed, eh?

I still don't know just what I want to do in my life, I have dreams, ideas, wishes, sure. But I have no definitive direction right now.
I'm not sure what scares me more to be honest; not having a direction, or having one.

It is my hope that as I finish up my general classes things will become clearer.

And, whether or not it is on to some university after that, or something else entirely different;
here's to life

LISTENING: on our way by the royal concept (re)READING: fellowship of the ring by j.r.r. tolkien WATCHING: downtown abbey

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Something's Gotta Give: The American Higher Education System

My final college English paper, a "researched argument of fact", in which I argue that the American higher education system is in need of a revitalization.

Something’s Gotta Give: The American Higher Education System

College. University. Higher education is known by many names and faces. But, as high school students near graduation, pressures and demands regarding higher education, and the futures come into the picture. Just what is the point of higher education? Is a degree worth all that much in todays job market? Is it too much of a gamble to fall into student loans to pay for a future that is so uncertain? As prices rise, scholarships change, funding disappears, and disillusionment and cynicism rise, students are calling for a change. It’s time for a revitalization in higher education.

There is a great societal impression upon us that a higher education - read a degree - is imperative to success not only as far as our careers go, but the rest of our lives. The key to middle class, as it were. In fact, “The completion of postsecondary education has become a minimum requirement for young adults seeking a place in America’s middle class” (Quinterno 4). However, despite the pressure to go to college, no matter what it takes, at the same time there is something of a conflict in the “advice” of society, such is a pressure felt by many students. It is shown here expressed in this tumblr “chat” post. One blogger demonstrates a students feelings regarding this societal pressure and conflict. 

The post has since garnered 136,114 “notes”; notes being the amount of times other users have favorited and shared the post on their own blogs. The “notes” continue to rise. While not every single person in the United States of America expresses such an opinion - and such a generalization is just that, a generalization - from the statistics for the post alone it can be said that there are many students who share these feelings.
Academic pressure abounds. While this isn’t anything new for the high school students of today, higher education brings with it an even heavier pressure to succeed (Kadison; DiGeronimo). To pass, even if you’re not truly absorbing knowledge or pursuing something you have an interest in. 

Over the past decade alone, major changes have come about in the economy of the United States. A disturbing amount of funding for colleges has been cut. As far as higher education is concerned, the cost of college has risen, scholarships have changed and even disappeared; all the while the average income of the middle class American has not seen much of a rise. “Although the incomes of the bulk of American households stagnated over the past two decades, the price of higher education escalated steadily” (Quinterno). 
Despite the fact that the majority of students enrolled in higher education are attending public, two-year colleges it is these very same colleges that “cuts in spending on instruction are deepest in” (Wellman).
Textbooks, while not considered a part of tuition, are an additional and major expense that takes its toll on students. In an article for The Huffington Post, one Tyler Kingkade writes “College textbook prices have increased faster than tuition, health care costs and housing prices, all of which have risen faster than inflation.” In the last 30 years the price of textbooks has gone up by 812% ,  frighteningly faster than the 559% increase in tuition and fees (qtd. in Kingkade). Sadly, textbooks don’t even hold their value. Within 3 years, what was once a new, high priced, textbook can already be a thing of the past, as classes require the new editions the industry has already produced. 
New editions are released on average every 3.9 years, but a 2008 report from the California state auditor found many college deans, department chairs and faculty members admitted revisions to textbooks are often minimal and not always warranted (qtd. in Kingkade).

In speaking with adults - who are considered both middle-aged, and middle-class - the general consensus among those who did not attend a college or university, but instead pursued job and career opportunities straight out of high school, is that they made the right choice. They found themselves already in well paying, management positions, in their careers by the time friends who attended college or university were graduating. When those who attended college reached graduation, they were already into their 20‘s, with loans to pay off, little or not job experience, and finding it difficult to secure employment. Many of those who did pursue higher education are just now, upwards of 25 years after graduating from a college or university, are finally nearing, or successfully paying off loans taken out to pay for their education.
Many debtors over 40 are still paying balances from college years ago, while their home values and savings have declined sharply in recent years. Some have stopped payments after losing jobs. Many parents—no longer able to tap home equity to pay for their children's education—are taking out new student loans to do so (Mitchell).

How frightening is it that the rest of one’s life can be so immeasurably defined and impacted by the attempting to further education after high school? According to recent data, the number of American’s with student debt shot up in 2012; from 23 million in 2005, all the way to 37 million (qtd. in Mitchell). 
Students therefore have turned to debt as a means of bridging the gap between attendance costs and available financial aid resources. It is unsurprising, then, that the volume of outstanding student loan debt has grown by a factor of 4.5 since 1999 and that Americans now collectively owe more in outstanding student loan debt than credit card debt (Quinterno 28).

What comes after college? Higher education seems to be viewed as something where the ends justify the means. But is the massive debt worth a degree, and does a degree truly guarantee success in life, and the job market? 
...there is growing anxiety in America about higher education. A degree has always been considered the key to a good job. But rising fees and increasing student debt, combined with shrinking financial and educational returns, are undermining at least the perception that university is a good investment (“Not what it used to be”.

 Back in the day, having secured a degree or some form of higher education made you stand out. It said that this was someone who values knowledge and has the drive to commit to succeed. In an article published in The Economist, the writer expresses that American higher education is “Not what it used to be” (“Not what it used to be”). However, in today’s world, having a degree from an institution of higher education is rather commonplace. Uncollege.org, posits essentially that because so much of the working population has gone, or is going to college, a degree no longer guarantees success (UnCollege.org/about). Erika Andersen, in her article for Forbes.com expresses that “in the US, we over-rely on time spent in school as a measure of intelligence…and of fitness for a job.” As it is, many subjects are considered something that a student will not find employment in. In one such instance, via Forbes, Peter Cohan goes so far as to suggest that some subjects should be altogether removed from higher education, just to avoid post-college un-employment, “...cut out the departments offering majors that make students unemployable.” While such a suggestion is drastic - and quite possibly detrimental to the overall growth of knowledge on a personal basis - as far as having a better chance of a job after college, he’s not necessarily wrong. “...academia’s effort to preserve its special exemption from the laws of economics is becoming too burdensome for many students, parents, and lenders to bear” (Cohan).

There are, however, alternatives to the higher education system of today. One of which has been around for centuries, but has sadly been pushed aside and frowned upon. The apprenticeship. “Largely overlooked...apprenticeships offer a promising route for preparing...students for high-skilled jobs and professions.” In her paper on apprenticeships and the place they could have in American higher education, author Diane Auer Jones suggests something slightly different from what we all feel and know; “maybe college isn’t broken”. 
Pressure to go to college can be great. Students may have heard from parents, high-school staff, elected officials, and the media that only by going to college can they enjoy a financially secure future and social prestige...[But] the college experience may not be a good fit for all students (Jones 1). 

Sadly there are students considered “at-risk”. Students who deal with learning disabilities such as ADD, ADHD and dyslexia, for example, do not learn in the same way as the average student and benefit as “kinesthetic learners” in the environment an apprenticeship provides (Jones 1). Not only do apprenticeships offer a way of learning better suited to those who need to understand the real-world applications of what they’re being taught, but they also bridge that gap between school, and working to pay for it. “For apprentices...school is work and work is school, so learning and working occupy the same space and time, rather than competing for attention” (Jones 2).

Forbes, one of the worlds most acknowledgeable in the world of business and finance, has a website that can be found surprisingly packed full of articles introducing the wisdom of postponing, or even avoiding going to college altogether. 
In “Do I Really Need To Go To College?” Erika Andersen writes, “I’m convinced there are some people for whom college is simply not the best way to learn.” 
“Why You Should Postpone College” writer Brett Nelson writes, 
I propose a theoretical pre-college regimen called “grownup training”...Specifically: six months spent working in a factory, six in a restaurant, six on a farm and six in the military or performing another public service such as building houses, teaching algebra or changing bedpans.
Essentially, a “gap year” or, in this case, two involving learning and gathering work experience and knowledge in the real world before committing to college.

All the while, not attending an institution of higher education at all is also an option (Schlack).

So what is the solution? While I am only a student aspiring to further my knowledge, and myself do not have the experience to definitively suggest a solution, it’s safe to say that there is something wrong with the way the higher education system is operating. Lack of funding, societal pressures, the financial situations of most students, the high costs of an education, economic and career stability, all have lead to a growing cynicism and disillusionment. It’s time for a revitalization in education. 

I propose, perhaps it may oversimplify a complex and pressing issue, and what I’m proposing would be no small feat; but what if higher education was not just seen as something you have to do, but a way to expand your mind and prepare you for your future? What if college didn’t cost an insane amount of money that will take you a lifetime to pay? What if instead of having to invest money in general classes, students were only required to take classes directly relevant to their chosen career or degree; thus cutting down on costs. True, some students require general studies, but many are very similar, if not in some ways, the same as what was (supposed) to have been taught in high school. What if general studies were the electives?

What if the higher education system were to evolve and merge with apprenticeships to create degree programs that not only instill knowledge, but also real world application and experience. All while focusing on the things that are of direct import to the students area of study and chosen career.
What if? 
It’s time for a revitalization in higher education.

Works Cited
Andersen, Erika. “Do You really Need To Go To College?Forbes. Forbes.com LLC, 6 August 2012. Web. 1 June 2013.
Cohan, Peter. “To Boost Post-College Prospects, Cut Humanities Departments.” Forbes. Forbes.com LLC, 29 May 2012. Web. 1 June 2013.
Jones, Diane Auer. "Apprenticeships Back to the Future." Issues in Science and Technology 27.4 (2011): 51-6. ProQuest. Web. 24 May 2013.
Kadison, Richard, Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. “Academic Pressures at College.Education.com. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004. Web. 24 May 2013.
Kingkade, Tyler. “College Textbook Prices Increasing Faster Than Tuition and Inflation.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. 4 January 2013. Web. 1 June 2013.
Mitchell, Josh. “Student Debt Hits The Middle-Aged.” The Wall Street Journal.Dow Jones & Company, Inc. 17 July 2012. Web. 3 June 2013.
Nelson, Brett. “Why You Should Postpone College.” Forbes. Forbes.com LLC, 25 January 2012. Web. 1 June 2013.
Not What It Used To Be.” The Economist 1 Dec. 2012. Print.
Quinterno, John. “The Great Cost Shift: How Higher Education Cuts Undermine The Future Middle Class.” Dēmos. Dēmos, 3 April 2013. Web. 23 May 2013.
Schlack, Lawrence B. “Not Going to College is a Viable Option.” Education.com. American Association of School Administrators. Web. 24 May 2013.
Uncollege.org/about. Uncollege.org, 5 April 2013. Web. 1 June 2013.
The United States of America on college education.” Tumblr. Web. 1 June 2013.
Wellman, Jane V. "THE HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING DISCONNECT: Spending More, Getting Less." Change 2008: 18-25. ProQuest. Web. 24 May 2013 .

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Wow. Where has this year gone?
I feel like it was just last week that 2013 began, and now here we are, half-way through the year.

There's a lot ahead for me this summer, and the last couple weeks of my college classes. Honestly, there's so much that I'm stressed about. But there's so much that I'm excited about too!

I'm going to be adventuring for the first bit of summer vacation. Though I suppose I could look at it rather that I'm adventuring for the first bit of my gap year. Wow...

I have no idea what the future holds, and I'm stressed and it freaks me out, but deep down inside there's an inner sense of peace, calm, and belief that greater things are yet to come.

That this, is only the beginning.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

we're not just seniors, we're graduates

My Facebook is a-flood with prom and senior pictures.
Graduation announcements are being sent, and I am realizing.
I'm realizing that a chapter is closing. Maybe more, maybe an entire volume is closing.
Because we're graduating, all of us. My friends who already have, and those who are, even those who I've grown apart from, we're seniors now.
There's so much ending. And despite how close we have, or haven't been, we are nearing a parting of ways which is likely to take us all in so many different directions.
Many of us will never see each other again.

We're not just seniors, we're graduates.
We're adults.

There's this great big future ahead of us filled with decisions, and opportunities.

We've all gone through so much, and life is just beginning. Our stories don't end here.

And even though it's close to the bit I shared for last year's graduates, I don't think it's lost it's meaning.
I'm home schooled, I don't get a graduation ceremony. So sit back for the cliche but (hopefully) ultimately meaningful, because this is my podium.

to us, the graduates

We've done it. Somehow we've managed to successfully navigate the stormy sea that is not only school, and highschool, but a good portion of our lives.

While it's painful being on the receiving end of my pun-shenanigans, con"grad"ulations.

Now, has cliche and potentially unwelcome as it may be to attempt to impart these bits of wisdom I've managed picked up along the way; I have found that we, the human race, are a fickle and forgetful bunch. As such we need to not only be reminded of things but to have them continually pounded into our heads.
Preferably by someone who cares.
So onward I write.

Firstly, one of the great lessons of life (and high school) is thus, "we can't control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we respond to them".
Perspective is everything. We can choose to take what life inevitably throws at us, and allow ourselves to be made bitter and give up or we can have it be a step to take us higher. To build ourselves up and make us better. Everything is a choice.

Secondly, people are people and you can never make everyone happy.
There's always going to be someone who will complain about, belittle, and mocks us. It's not just high school, it's life.
As someone who's actually been working and doing some college classes for a while now, I can say it's pretty messy and doesn't change much.
Because unfortunately, there's people like that everywhere, everyday.
It's where that perspective thing I just mentioned comes into play. We can let them tear us down, or we can just let it be motivation to be strong and move on.

Thirdly, "Remember what you've learned in the light, and never doubt it, even if you spend years in the dark."
There are up's and down's. Welcome to life. I know it's one of the hardest things to do, but always try to remember the good, the positive, and hold onto it; especially when things are bad. Don't let the time of darkness make you lose sight and forget all the good that has happened, and all that is just around the corner.
Don't give up, this isn't the end.

Fourthly, this isn't the end.
As the ever cliche, but still usefully truthful saying goes, "When God closes a door, He opens a window."
And, in one of my few and far between moments of what could be called a philosophical-wisdom, I have can be quoted as saying:
"endings are just beginnings wrapped in strange packages".
Strangely, that seems to have a deep, inherent meaning; and I think that maybe, just maybe, I was onto something.
It's so easy - especially when we're young - to let little things stand in our way, let little things feels like "the end of the world".
Well, here's the thing, endings aren't all bad, and chapters have to end for new one's to begin.
Endings are just beginnings wrapped in strange packages.

Fifthly, "when life gives you lemons..."
Okay, we all know where this could go.
Bear with me, because as a person who - as I image to be sarcastic and slightly pessimistic - penned somewhere: "When life gives you lemons...throw them at people".
(Please feel free to laugh here.)
So whether we decide to throw the lemons at people, or make lemonade; take a step back, keep perspective in mind, and just use those dang lemons. Heck, lemons make everyday water different.
Just use the lemons.

Lastly, as my penchant for Latin dictates, I want to share words I carry with me, and thus feel I should impart in closing.

carpe diem // patientia // memento mori // memento vivre.
seize the day (with) patience (and) endurance (despite) suffering. remember mortality (and) remember to live.

All that I've said, choose to take it or leave it, listen to me or not.
Everything's a choice.
Let's just use the lemons, okay?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

unfortunate days

Today is one of those unfortunate days.
Where nothing feel's right, and it's as if the world is against me.
When I feel as if I cannot do anything right.
As if the world is spinning off it's axis and I am lost, hurtling through space.
With the air closing in, inky blackness brushing against me.
And despite the shine of distant stars, their light is still too far.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

of driving

I've mentioned before, that I don't particularly like driving.

Giant death machine made of metal and plastic, moving at speeds beyond my own ability; that I'm secured in and placed in charge of.

When you think about it, it's really rather disturbing. When I think about it, I over think it.

I successfully got my license on Friday, yesterday.
We woke bright and early (literally. the sun had just barely risen.) and drove for two hours to the DOL so I could get my Enhanced License.
Well, more confusion, waiting, bad pictures, and DMV smells later, and I had a temporary license shoved into the pages of The Hobbit.
A regular license. Yes, but when the hard copy comes in, I'll then be able to go and get my Enhanced. (long story)

When I passed my drive test a couple weeks ago, it was like a great stress, a great weight, was lifted off my shoulders.
For so long I felt like I didn't have what it took to pass the test, and that by extension I wasn't a good driver.
Typically, when I over think something, when I worry so hard about failing, I will. And for quite a while, whether or not I actually was failing, it felt like it to me.

Then when I made it, I passed my drive test, I did well, I succeeded, I realized, I wasn't some horrible driver after all.
I can do this.
It was nice.

My uncle gave me a car earlier this spring. It's what spurred me on to get my license.
The opportunity that I'd be able to take myself to the lake in the summer. Not having to coerce or pay for gas for the van for my parents to drive me places.
I finally had a reason to really, really try to get my license.

And today, I found myself behind the wheel of my car - still funny saying that, "my car" - with my license in my pocket.
My license, that I achieved.
And instead of squiggling around in my seat, second-guessing myself and imagining all the horrible ways I had to fail - stick shift, no less - I didn't think about it. I didn't sit and worry. I acted, I did, I learned.

And you know what? I was pretty dang good at it.

LISTENING: this is war (album) by 30 seconds to mars READING: the hobbit by j.r.r. tolkien WATCHING: buffy

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

the driving of the automobile

I realized today, that I actually have a topic, a life-happening, which I find myself with words to blog about:

I don't know if I ever mentioned it -- and seeing as I'm to lazy to check my archive and find out, I'll tell you all anyway -- I took drivers ed in the fall of 2011.
Though it was a busy, long few months, it was filled with memorable moments. In fact, it was a lot of fun. I got to spend time and hang out with one of my best friends, Savanah, and we practically lived at her grandparents whilst we took the driving course.
(I live in a small town, the closest place offering drivers ed. is nearly an hour away.)

In time, that successfully passed, though I still was not quite old enough to get my license without having to fulfill that crazy amount of hours.
blah blah blah

Long story short, I don't really like driving, and so I didn't wouldn't.
Not that I had the opportunity to drive all that often, mind you...but still.

So, fast forward to this past Fall of 2012, I turned 18! Yes, you were all around for that.

Now, at that point, I could get my license regardless of how many hours I'd driven, and whether or not I'd taken drivers ed.
I'm sure there are some of you wondering why on earth I bothered taking drivers ed and the simple fact is, I'm thankful I did, because I would be a horrible driver if I hadn't. I would not be nearly as far along as I am. Trust me on this.

Of course, I still didn't get it. My license, that is. I still didn't feel ready. Didn't think I could possibly pass the test.
Really I over-stressed about the whole thing.

Then comes along 2013. A new year. I'm 18. A senior.
At this point, when you want a job, people expect that you can drive...erm, legally. Not to mention decently.

And so it was that I found myself in a rather horrible rush to get my license in case I was hired at a job I applied for.
I ended up not getting the job, (which was actually a relief...another long story, for perhaps another time) and set out to practice driving - more - so I could pass the test.

Here I'll take the liberty of once again fast-forwarding, this time to Wednesday the 24th of April.
My mum and I drove the miles to the closest Department Of Licensing - in the same town I took drivers ed - to get the ball officially rolling for my license.

Lots of confusion, but basically the DOL doesn't do the drive testing any more and, wonder of wonders, my old driving school does!
Thus, off my shoulders went a whole load of stress about the entire thing.
No more having to worry about dealing with a complete stranger whilst driving.

We went to my driving school, talked to my former teacher, and set up a test date for the following Wednesday. May 1st.

So now, dear readers, I am actually rather happy to announce that I passed my driving test!

While I do not yet have my license, it is only because I want to get my Enhanced License so I'll be able to travel to Canada and the like, which the DOL closest to us only does twice a month. So, we're traveling a tad further, to the closest actual city - hopefully within the week - so I can get that out of the way.


Monday, April 29, 2013

I am procrastinating

I am procrastinating.

I should be doing a rhetorical analysis of someone else's argument. I should be reading and researching and working very hard on it.

I should be.
But I'm not.

Why is it that that is how things work? When there is something horribly stressful, something that really needs a lot of work and care put into it, something that you should be developing and making into something great; you freeze.
Everything around you stops moving, but continues to move on, without you, all too fast.

And even the things you procrastinate about every single day, dusting, chores, cooking, room cleaning, even those things become a boon, something that absolutely has to be done in that moment. Done then and there, absolutely, as a way of procrastinating against this big, huge, seemingly insurmountable thing, that if only you would just buckle down and do it it's not nearly as hard as you're thinking it will be.

Why is it that my mind seems so broken, to think this way?

It's even worse, when nothing else rises up to meet the need for procrastination. Not even the other things, the seemingly smaller things that actually need done.

So here I am, sitting, mindlessly using time, typing words that mean something, and everything, and altogether nothing.

Because I, am procrastinating.

pieces of 2012

Friday, April 26, 2013

in which pictures take the place of words

I will be honest, for the past year I haven't been posting much of any content on Concrete & Grace.

And while I'm still feeling rather wordless as far as blogging goes, I've decided I shouldn't let that stop me from posting.

So, I'm starting a new series here on C&G called pieces of 2012.
A fully-photographical look back at the previous year. I hope you'll come along and see some of my favorite captured moments, the first post launches tomorrow!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I am frustrated.

I am frustrated at how hard everything has to be.
Frustrated that everything seems to require money.
Frustrated at myself.
Frustrated...but still strangely hopeful.
Frustrated, but believing everything will work out.

Friday, April 12, 2013

the in-betweens in writing and walking

I'm currently doing the dance of in-between notebooks.

Where one journal is nearly full, and the next is ready and waiting.

Thus I find myself simultaneously rushing to fill up the current notebook, but hesitant to close another chapter.

While I was on spring break a couple weeks ago, I went for a walk around our lake, in its state of not quite frozen, not quite thawed. It too was in between.

here's to your in betweens, may they be filled with music and light

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

of weddings, and family, and travels

This past week, after putting in work and night-before-packing, we left our little corner of the world and set out for my Aunt and Uncle's house.

While I don't like riding in the car, it wasn't terribly far (anything 8- hours isn't terribly far for me) and of course the entire journey was worth it!

My oldest cousin was wed last Saturday to his beautiful bride. And the five days we spent visiting and helping and spending time with family, were great.

As I'm but a poor, broke, in debt, student, my gift is pictures.

While I hadn't planned on going through any of them yesterday (school work and other pictures to finish up were rattling around my mind), I just couldn't resist.

So, here is the little teaser I cooked up.

Congratulations to the bride and groom, lots of love to you all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the crime of the ages

by Augusta Cooper Bristol

                 Poet, write!
Not of a purpose dark and dire,
That souls of evil fashion,
Nor the power that nerves the assassin's hand,
In the white heat of his passion:
                 But let they rhyme,
                 Through every clime,
A burthen bear of this one crime:
Let the world draw in a shuddering breath,
O'er the crime that aims at a nation's death!

                 Minstrel, sing!
Not in affection's dulcet tone,
Or with sounds of a soft recorder:
Strike not they harp to a strain arranged
In measured, harmonic order:
                 But loud and strong
                 The tones prolong,
That thunder of a Nation's wrong;
Let a sound of war in thy notes appear,
Til the world opes wide a startled ear!

                 Soldier, fight!
Thou has a patriot's throbbing pulse,
And future history's pages,
Shall tell of the blood so freely shed
To redeem "the crime of the ages."
                 Well may'st thou fight
                 For Truth and Right,
And teach a rebel foe thy might!
Leta a loyal heart, and undaunted will,
Show the world we are a Nation still!

                 Prophet, speak!
Speak for the children of martyred sires,
An offspring the most ungrateful!
Warn them of Justice hurrying on,
To punish a deed so hateful!
                 O read with thy
                 Prophetic eye,
The omens of our troubled sky!
What is the picture beyond the gloom?
New life, new birth, or a Nation's tomb?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

of drafts and decisions

In my Draft box for Concrete & Grace, I have exactly 40 posts.
40, unfinished, not entirely written, mostly forgotten, drafts.

It's been nearly a month, since my last post. Half hearted and rambling as it was.
Since then I have started a handful of updates, just more writings left behind in the draft box.

Because I haven't been feeling that inspired about it. Because I suppose I've lost the point of why it is I'm doing Concrete & Grace.
I've never really had a specific reason, a purpose, just that I wanted to. I want to. That's enough.
And it still is, I find. It just complicates things when I am feeling so entirely uninspired. And without inspiration, typing up a post that doesn't sound completely insane, a post that maybe someone will actually read and maybe even, in some small way, care about, or like; has turned into a chore.

And here's the thing I've been trying and starting but not finishing to post about: Fine Arts.
I keep going back and forth on how to let anyone know. I mean, does anyone I need to tell actually read this? Who do I really need to tell? Does anyone even care to know? How much of the story of the decision making process, how it is that everything came about, do I tell?
The fact of the matter is,  I don't know. I don't know how to tell everyone this, I don't know how to make everyone understand. So I will but I won't.
I will tell the outcome, flat, straight and true.
How the realizations and decisions came to be as you see before you, I will not explain. Because I will just ramble on, hoping to make everyone happy, make everyone understand.
And that, is most definitely, never going to happen. You can never make everyone understand, and you can most surely never make everyone happy.
So here it is, the final, straight up, no strings attached, news.

I am not doing Fine Arts this year.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

when no words come

I keep sitting down at my computer, fingers resting lightly on the keys, with the desire to write something coursing through my being. Something meaningful, that I'll look back and say "Yeah, I wrote that. You should read this." Something I'll refer back to. Something that will provoke thought and action in the persons who read or hear the words.

But every time I try, every time I want to, it seems like there just aren't the right words.
Even though my mind is brimming with words most of the time. Even though I have notebooks filled with words no one ever reads, and probably even never will.

It never seems like there are the right words.

So what am I to do? When I wish that there were pictures and words for me to share, but there isn't?

I suppose most of the time I just give up. Don't press it, don't make an effort to try.

But what could I accomplish, what could I create, if I did? If I made an effort and took the time?

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