Armstrong & Aristotle

In high school, I took an art class in which I had to illustrate the essence of a famous person, and being slightly obsessed with science, and the idea of space exploration (my senior thesis discussed the future of space travel), I elected to draw Neil Armstrong. His visage occupied one corner of the paper, and from there, various quotes of his were written in the trails of smoke from the launching of a shuttle.

Our President’s statement about Armstrong’s death was, “Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time.  Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step.” The last sentence reminded me of another quote that has been circulating the Pinterests and the Tumblrs: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” It’s from the movie We Bought A Zoo. For some reason, this quote always bothered me, and why, surprisingly enough, is expressed by the late Neil Armstrong, “I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks but for the ledger of our daily work.”

Sorry to throw yet another quote at you, but, like Aristotle said in his Nicomachean Ethics, “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” The truly great people are those who are great day in and day out: not just for 20 seconds. There is, of course, some merit to Obama and Matt Damon’s words, but I think Neil Armstrong and Aristotle are more correct: that single performance of greatness is made possible by forming habits of greatness.

Considering this, I am afraid, because I am not consistent. Exercise? Sporadic. Sax practice? Erratic. Good study habits? Patchy.

Thanks for reminding us, Neil Armstrong, that large steps are only made possible by practicing many small steps first. I’m off to go form better habits. If you need some accountability, Joe’s Goals is a great little webapp.

The People

The best sort of days are those that end with a reflection on its events, and a decision about the best part cannot be made: it was that good. This is probably because I actually worked out first thing in the morning, which is extremely rare. Since people can see me during daylit runs, I’m not their biggest fan. I’d rather keep the way I look as I run a mystery even to myself. So I am a nightrunner.

My day ended as it began: with physical exertion. I’m seeing a trend…anyway, a few friends and I changed out of our dressy casino night attire (orientation leaders dealt blackjack!), and the first midnight walk of the year was had! What we talked about, I can’t remember, and that doesn’t even matter. All that mattered was the people I was with.

This is a lesson I really want to carry with me to Rome, when I study abroad: that the experience (relatively) doesn’t depend on where you are, it (relatively) doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it’s the people, and your attitude towards them. So when I set my heart on going to all these places, I’m doing myself no favors. All those different places are expensive, and offer very little compared to the experience of traveling to one place and spending time with a few people very deeply. So if it comes to that, I will not be disappointed, because that attitude could end up blinding me to the wonderful, complex, mysterious people I’m “stuck” with and the wonderful, complex, mysterious place I’m “stuck” with.

During an orientation small group today, the students went around and shared fun facts about themselves. Sure, it was an ice breaker, but it also served as a way to show the freshman how crazy cool each other are, and to encourage them not to ignore the excitement and wonder contained within each person in the freshman class. Don’t forget how interesting every person is, how every one has a story. Don’t limit yourself to a few people. It’s great to have a few very close friends who you know on a very personal and deep level, but don’t be bummed when a close friend can’t hang out, or if you find yourself in a new city, or if you are going to study abroad without one of your closest friends. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert. You just need to be humble enough to be interested in other people.

Redemption

The period of college known as “orientation” was probably the scariest moment of my post-secondary career thus far. Granted, I was sick, I had nearly flunked out of the college courses I had just taken a few weeks previously, and now all these authority figures were throwing as many facts, figures, and horror stories of others’ mistakes at me just about 24/7.

I’m pretty sure I cried several times.

Exactly one year after this rather traumatic experience, I find myself at orientation again, but as a leader. Today was move-in day, and while some of the guys were too cool (or too busy trying to flirt with me) to need help moving boxes or to have a conversation, a lot of people were really responsive. I’ve never been able to say that I enjoy meeting people, mostly because it takes so much energy to, and I usually lack it, but today, I changed my mind. It was honestly the most rewarding experience of my college career thus far.

The beginning of this school year is already vastly different from last year. I feel like a social butterfly, meeting new people, beginning the forging of deeper relationships with acquaintances, and really listening to people. I still have the annoying habits of repeating my stories, and of being a bit too sarcastic…but I don’t feel sick.

In addition to helping freshman move in, I forayed into a Korean restaurant adventure, and watched 9 episodes of Legend of Korra back to back. I’d say it was a successful day.

New Adventures

Life’s been slow lately. The latter part of summer was taken up by 30 hour weeks as the drive-thru girl at a fast food restaurant, which was interesting for brief spurts, but mostly mind-numbingly boring. I did learn that smiling has a manifold purpose: it passes the time quicker than a poker face, it gets more tips, it makes things more interesting, and it catches people off-guard, which is entertaining. But that is about it. I am glad it’s over, if only temporarily. And a camera is now in my future.

A new semester is upon us, alleluia! It promises excitement and challenge. I’m taking classes in varied disciplines: everything from a comparative literature class concerning Tolkien to psychology to economics. I’m looking forward to keeping up with this blog, choosing a camera, coming up with a list of things to do while I’m in Rome next semester, continuing to practice the saxophone, and begin the development and promotion of what I’m currently calling The Project, which hopefully will become a leadership program for high school girls. And, of course, watching Legend of Korra, now that I finished Avatar: The Last Airbender. Which was amazing. Attempts to wrap my mind around its depth continue.

Hopes for running in a half marathon are all but dashed since my running buddy developed plantar fasciitis. The postponement is disappointing, but, in its stead, my mode of exercise will most likely be Ultimate Frisbee.

In other news, I have my own room for the first time in my life. Also, I’ve lost my chapstick again. That’s all I got for now. Time to start making my own adventures actually happen.

Fast Food Anecdotes

There are two interesting things about work: the break room and the people.

The break room has several pairs of shoes scattered about at all times, a permanent collection of coats that seem to belong to nobody, obscenities written on the table, and one of the lockers looks like somebody with a very small hand punched it. I will probably always wonder how that hole got there.

The bulletin boards are covered in your typical work place papers, covering everything from minimum wage to anti-discrimination information. But there’s also a game of bingo that’s half filled in, that was supposed to motivate associates to wear correct uniform, as well as one of those die cut rainbows you’d see in a preschool classroom. This is intended to remind associates to only hand out ketchup and salt if requested.

Now, the people. I work drive-thru, and we have some characters come through:

There’s Kissing Boy, who waved enthusiastically from the back seat, and opened the door to blow kisses to me as I handed out food. His dad points at him and says, “He likes you.” What could I do? He was a customer. I smiled. I told my drive-thru buddy about it, and he was like, “Did you complain? About sexual harrassment?”

The Drive-Thru Singer came through, and upon hearing my name, broke out into a rather famous song that revolves around how beautiful a name my name is. Everyone on the headsets could hear, including my manager. But the Singer gave me a tip, and it was actually kind of nice by itself, to be sung to through the intercom.

Bucket List Lady drove up to the window, and demanded that I use her credit card to buy everyone she could see through the window a milkshake.

Another lady, whom I can’t come up with a good nickname for, asked me to give her some plastic gloves. Along with that baby punched locker, I will probably be eternally wondering about this.

Then there’s the older man who comes through and calls me “Pretty Lady” every time, and it’s not creepy or weird at all. He’s just nice, and speaks low when he says it, so it’s not annoying or anything. He’s probably my favorite.

So, if you’ve guessed where I work, and what my name is, why don’t you come on by and sing another song to me that involves my name?