Hello Friends!!

So if by any chance you are a person who reads this blog, but you are not a) my facebook friend or b) a follower of my new Twitter handle (@beccakempe), then I am really sorry for being a terrible blogger.

Several months ago, I decided to switch blogging platforms. And I thought I would be able to arrange it so that bravenewrealworld.wordpress.com acted as an alias that would redirect you to bravenewrealworld.squarespace.com, now just bravenewrealworld.com.

And while I am absolutely positive there is a way to do this, I still don’t think I’ve set it up properly.

So I am back to tell you that (good news!) I did not quit blogging. But (bad news!) I forgot to tell you about it. But (good news!) there’s more new stuff for you to read, if you are so inclined including:

The second half of my 2012 book review

A post about my wedding (including pictures!)

What I thought of that viral Dove ad campaign (does anyone still remember that?)

WE WILL NOT CELEBRATE THEIR TALENT OR THEIR BEAUTY OR THE ASPECTS THAT MEET WITH OUR APPROVAL; WE WILL CELEBRATE THEIR EXISTENCE.

A post about how hard it is to be an adult

Two of my favorite things I’ve written

Summer

 

I still sometimes dream of being a magical, Narnian Jedi

 

I play video games and hilarity ensues!

I like bikinis and dislike the idolization of the 1950’s!

I hope you’ll forgive my abandonment and check out the new look!

If you want to keep up with the blog, you can follow me on twitter (@beccakempe) or add bravenewrealworld.com to your feedly subscriptions (my personal choice to replace Google Reader).

And now I basically feel like I just walked up to a group of people and shamelessly begged them to be my friend, so I’m glad I’m done with the self-promotion.

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Begin

I set my elbows on the desk and leaned forward, resting my chin in the crook formed between my thumb and forefinger. My hands form a little steeple, the way they did back in Sunday School, but all the people are outside the church this time.

I stare at the doorway in front of me, hoping that the answers will materialize behind my eyes the way they used to. But it’s not going to happen. This is the skill that always made me a fast test-taker: I know when I know it, and I know when I don’t.

And this morning, the only things I see are red and green swirls on the whiteboard, blurred by the tears of the night before. There’s nothing there.

I pointedly avoid looking at my professor. Because she knows I don’t know it, and because I’m about to turn in a nearly blank final exam. And I’m so humiliated by that fact that I just keep staring at the white-washed bricks.

I’m grateful that the only clock in the room is hung on the wall behind me.

———-

The second semester of my freshman year, I surprised myself and took Honors General Chemistry. We had a test every few weeks, and over the course of the semester I developed a system: around 6 pm the night before a test, I printed off the study guide, pulled out my book, and began studying. Then I kept studying until I absolutely could not stay awake any longer – usually 3 am.

Around midnight, I would pause to grab a sugar free Rockstar from the fridge – the stale soda taste now permanently infused with freshman dorm hallways and redox reactions.

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Then, in the morning, I reviewed whatever I hadn’t covered the night before on my walk to the science building. It was a terrible strategy and I don’t recommend it to anyone, but I loved it.

———-

That was pretty much par for the course in my life.

I spent every lunch hour of my senior year in high school finishing 4th period biology homework. The night before the SAT’s, I opened the prep book my mom had purchased the previous year and flipped through it for the first time.

I finished and submitted my college application essays at 1:30 am – thirty minutes before they were due, same with my Teach for America essays.

I wrote a 15 page research paper between the hours of 4:30 and 8:00 am, after going to the midnight premiere of the first Twilight movie. Because I’d put it off this long, what would another four hours matter? (It was a truly terrible paper, in case you were wondering.)

I memorized theatre monologues during physics, and I went through vocabulary flashcards while sitting at my desk just before the quiz. In truth, I put forth very little effort.

———-

I always joked that I would stop procrastinating when it stopped working. But I lied. It stopped working, and I just kept going. Which is how I found myself failing a biochem final in the middle of my senior year. My brain was being short circuited by raw emotions and anxiety, and I just pulled myself along in a well-worn trench of habit and self-reliance.

I kept studying for tests the night before. But when you find yourself sitting in the bible building at midnight with an army of dry erase markers, blinking back tears for the four hundred and fifty-seventh time that night, committing complex biochemical pathways to memory is surprisingly difficult. Even so, I never tried to memorize it a piece at a time, over weeks. I just stared down at the blank white page of my final exam in disbelief. Then I turned it in, mostly empty.

However gifted I may be at memorization, I am a slow learner.

———-

And I want to go back to that December, to try again, to push myself harder. But sometimes life happens, and the story isn’t inspiring. Sometimes you don’t rise to the occasion. But then life just carries on anyway, beautifully. And you can’t go back and fix it, but maybe you can redeem it.

I used to put things off because I could, because the words and the answers always came if I just sat down and focused for a few hours. I took a strange pride in the fact that I could get it done eventually, and that whatever I did would be good enough.

And then I procrastinated because that’s what I had always done, and because I didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that I was struggling academically. I pushed tasks away, waiting until the last possible minute because so much of my identity was wrapped up in my own intellectual acumen and the praise of authority figures. I didn’t want to face the prospect of failure.

———-

And now I find myself a year later, taking a moment to breathe, to look ahead, to wonder at what that semester means now. Now that I am no longer in school. Now that I am married. Now that the firmly plotted points of my life have ended with a charge to go live, and serve, and die.

Because I’m not in school anymore. There are no deadlines and no due dates. There is no one here to tell me that I must finish this project by November, no one to ensure that I have met the necessary criteria by May 12th.

But there is still so much that I want to do.

We spend so much of our life waiting – because the years left feel definite, feel infinite. Or because so much of our effort falls short. If you we try, if we give everything we have, and it comes to nothing, then what?

But I don’t want to waste away the hours of my life on Netflix. I don’t want to be left scrambling at 4am, holding off sleep, wishing for more time. I have been blessedly humbled with the realization that the least of my effort is inadequate to meet the demands of my life.

I have been asked to do more. I have been asked to be fully present, to offer up the whole of my being now, to risk myself on work that matters.

For 2013, this gold medalist in procrastination has chosen to begin.

For the years are not so long. And you only get one shot.

Backfire

The generals were coming
all the way from Washington,
four stars between them.
Food was ordered, carpets cleaned.

Then we turned, together,
to take in the sight beyond the window.

Our flags hung limply on their poles –
three beacons of power
that had seen better days.
The wind whipped up, flailing their tattered hems.

Like the string you find
on the bottom of your sweater,
which is pulled taught, for a moment,
before unraveling.

The cry went out: Unacceptable!
with a rush of orders.
The generals would feast their eyes
on only the best and brightest.

The new flags were hoisted,
with a day to spare,
and, within an hour,
the rain had them soaked through.

Red, bleeding into white,
rendered them a violent shade of pink.

The generals arrived, and our flags waved –
small, ubiquitous, unnoticeable,
except for their striking resemblance
to a Barbie Dream Home.

I think I’ve caught “the Mondays”

Good morning!

I spent the weekend at my grandparents house in Dallas, which was absolutely lovely. But after unloading bags and gathering each other into hugs, I was informed that all of their verizon services were down. Yep, no internet. It’s as bad as it sounds.

When I got back home last night I just wanted to unload my bags and give the internet a hug. But I settled for hugging my macbook.

This weekend was stuffed full of family and stuffihavegottodo, but I still haven’t been able to see all of the 58 people I keep promising to see when I go back to Dallas. I need to throw a big party to see all the friends that I keep missing. Maybe I’ll do that in December…

To catch up on my weekend:

-my mother, my father, my grandmother, and I stuffed all of our wedding invitations and sent them off with my mother so that she can use her marvelous calligraphy skills to address them.

-my sister bought a bridesmaid’s dress. yay!

-I made it out of Nordstrom without a single unnecessary purchase, and I think that shows real growth on my part.

-I went to a charity auction and bought teeth whitening. Apparently that is a thing that one can buy at a silent auction. I almost bought a trip for two to London (for the low, low price of $7,000). But then I remembered that I’m getting married and that’s probably a joint decision*. So I decided to get my teeth whitened instead…for the children.

*plus, I don’t think charities take credit cards.

-I got half way through yet another book. And I decided that if I’m going to finish ten more books before December 31st, I’m going to have to start reading smaller books.

-I also recruited one of my lovely bridesmaids to figure out what I’m going to wear in my engagement (are they still engagement if you take them one month before your wedding?) pictures. Does that seem like a job I should be able to do myself? Too bad, it’s not.

*plus she’s super qualified. She runs a fabulous blog covering all things clothing and fashion at aliology. So she knows what she’s talking about.

I bought cake! I had a lovely meeting with a lovely cake decorator. And the whole thing took 20 minutes and was 157 times less stressful than theknot made me think it would be. This was my favorite part of the weekend. Because I got a red velvet cupcake. And the road to my heart is paved in red velvet.

All of that can be summed up by the fabulous Tina Fey.

Next weekend we have our first shower! I’m quite excited about it. And maybe I’ll even take some pictures for you all.

Happy Monday!