“God got tired of us and He want to finish us.”

Earlier this week, I watched a newly added instant documentary on Netflix, “God Grew Tired of Us.” The film was recommended by an old friend of mine from high school who harped on its inspiration and eye-opening features. When we watched it, we were astounded by just how real this documentary was to us. Most importantly, how much we take for granted as Americans every single day.

The Lost Boys of Sudan, as they’re known now, were a group of boys who traveled by foot through countries of Africa in the late 1980s. I am referring to them as boys, being 11 to 15 years old, but they refer to themselves as “men,” because where they are from, a boy is a “man” at such a young age. They fled from the war in Sudan, which continued until 2005 (according to Wikipedia), and ended up in a small village in Kenya, most without their parents or siblings. The boys lived their lives in this village, without any strong structural buildings, stores, running water, or electricity. But they were happy to be there because to them, it was certainly better than Sudan.

Thanks to the help of the U.S. government in the early 2000’s, a few hundred of the Lost Boys were able to come to America to live. When the boys (now most are men, by our standards) do so much as step foot on the airplane, they are amazed by the overhead light fixtures. They are staring at the televisions installed in the headrests of the seats. The flight attendants have to explain to them how to use the bathrooms and even how to lock the door. It is incredible to see the looks on their faces during this time. They are amazed.

When they arrive at their respected locations (Pittsburgh and Syracuse, namely), the apartments that are provided to them aren’t “nice” by our standards, but they become so happy to be sleeping on a mattress (as opposed to the ground), to take a shower, and to cook food. Their reactions to light switches, a bag of chips, or even a Christmas tree can be amusing to us, but it is also unbelievable to think, as someone who was raised with all of that from the beginning, that there are so many people in this world who aren’t given as much luxury.

The boys eventually get jobs once they are issued social security numbers and obtain their legal right to work. They have jobs at places like warehouses and McDonald’s, but they are so incredibly happy to work. They work hard every single day, some even working as much as three jobs at a time. They make comments about their apparent lazy co-workers. They want to work so hard and they do not complain about anything. They work to pay their bills and one man, John, wires money every chance he gets to his family in Africa that he has not seen in 15 years. That was amazing to me. I think about all the money I was making at my job before I was laid off a few weeks ago, and how selfish I was with it. Thinking about taking vacations, saving for a pair of Louboutin’s for my wedding, or having a nicer apartment. Why does any of that matter at all to me? It shouldn’t. I really, truly feel as if I am being selfish with my money (when and if I have a job, that is) when there are so many people struggling in this world.

I could write so much more about this documentary, but I feel as if that would become a boring piece quickly. I would love to hear reactions and comments to those who have also seen this film! And I really want to help these boys in any way that I can. They deserve it so much more than I ever will.

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Heart’s Desire

There are few things in my life that I can classify as truly being my desires of my heart. I’ve longed for some for years, some for months, and now, for the first time in my life, I was denied a desire of my heart despite how much I wanted it. As much as I am a “word-smith” and lover of the English language, I can honestly say right now that there are no words to describe what it feels like to literally be denied something I have wanted with every fiber in my being and every last drop of blood in my stature.

The earliest felt desire of my heart was when I was 11 years old and we made yet another move–this time from Virginia to Oklahoma. For the first time, I loved where I lived. I loved my friends. I felt like I belonged in Virginia. Then, it was yanked away faster than I could ever wished upon even my worst enemy. For two painful years, literally the worst two years of my life, all I wanted was to be back in Virginia. My heart pined every single day to be back there and to be able to call it come. And after two years there, it happened. We moved back there immediately after my dad’s battalion command position was passed onto the next person. My ultimate heart’s desire (at that time in my life) was fulfilled. God truly blessed my family.

My second burning heart’s desire that I can remember was my dream to work at Starbucks. Not because I loved coffee (which I didn’t, actually), but because I loved everything about Starbucks. The people that worked there were seemingly similar to me–a little dark, arty, sassy, and friendly. After we moved away from Virginia the second time, when I was 15, I came to find out that in order to work at Starbucks in Florida, you must be at least 18 years old. Once again, my dream was unattainable. So, I settled for a Panera Bread that was free-standing along with a Starbucks next door in Valrico, Florida. For five years, I longed to be at Starbucks in the back of my mind, but justified that Panera was where I was meant to be, so I pushed it away.  For reasons I will not mention, when I was 21 years old, I found myself no longer working for Panera. That very same day, I walked into a Starbucks near my apartment and filled out an application. Two days later, I was hired. It was my heart’s desire I had pushed aside for seven years that was suddenly a reality. As many of you know, I loved every minute I worked at Starbucks. I would go back there and work for free if I could. It’s so wonderful to finally receive something that was burning deep inside for so long.

The desire of my heart that was the deepest of all desires in my entire life (and probably will be for as long as I live) was wanting the love of my life back when he suddenly broke up with me in 2009 on our one year anniversary. For those of you that have been reading this blog and following me for a while, know that I’ve touched lightly on this. I don’t like to go deep into this in my public “published” pieces. Perhaps it’s because I don’t like reliving it, because I can say, as a matter of fact and nothing more, it was the hardest time of my entire life. I longed for him for seven months. For seven months we did not speak, text, email, or see each other. All I wanted was to have him back. I did not care about anything else. I cried myself to sleep at least four nights a week toward the end of the seven months, which was an improvement from crying multiple times a day. On April 15, 2010, the most unexpected and amazing thing happened to me. We met again, at his request, and at the end of the night, he kissed me and told me he still loved me and missed me. It was what I wanted to hear for so long. It was literally unreal to me. I still can’t believe it, now, almost a year later. We are back together and more in love than we have ever been. Praise God. He blessed me, yet again.

And now, it has been over a decade since I realized what I wanted to do with my life and who I wanted to be when I “grew up.” At age 10, my dream formed in my mind–me, a magazine writer. After a series of failed attempts, which eventually became fear of rejection, I decided to put my dream in the back of my mind yet again so I could pursue something that was perhaps seemingly more attainable. Turns out, I truly believe that though there are things that are more attainable, which I have acquired (ex: my receptionist job now), but it is painful to come to work every day knowing without a doubt what I want to do and what I need to do, but can’t do because of fear. Last summer, I let the fear guard down, big time. I took a huge leap of faith and applied to the #2 and #3 ranked journalism graduate schools in this nation, fully aware of my odds of getting accepted. But I believed in myself. I believed in my writing. I believed in my passion. I believed in my utter love for the industry. And I believed that would get me admitted, greater than any GPA, GRE, or undergraduate degree from a “big name” school. I started out pining for Berkeley, but the more I found out about Columbia, the more I realized that IT was the program for me. I met with the Dean of Student Affairs who was visiting Orlando on a whim. I peppered him with questions over breakfast. I left that meeting feeling more confident in myself than I ever have in my life. And I felt really, really good. Not because he gave me false hope, but because he described what they wanted and I believed that was me in every way. I wrote countless drafts of both essays, keeping in mind what the Dean had told me about what they look for in applicants. I had Notre Dame graduates, writers, friends, family, co-workers–so many people read these essays and I tweaked them to the best of my ability. I listened to nothing but NPR in my car at all times for two months before my writing test. I studied the news like a person obsessed. I blanked and forgot everything I had heard and studied for so long when I took the test, but I still left confident. I do not use or need spell check or grammar check, believe it or not. I didn’t care that they disabled it for the test. I sat in Starbucks for two and a half hours with my alumni proctor, who I referred to on Twitter and this blog as truly, “wonder woman,” in my eyes. I drenched her with questions. I poured out my heart to her. And she believed that I was the perfect candidate for the program. She believed in me, my passion, and my abilities so much that she called the admissions office and told them. Most of all, I believed in myself. I believed that if I wanted it bad enough, it could happen. Because that’s been the outcome in my life so far. God knows the desires of my heart and I tried so, so hard to trust Him and lean on Him during this time.

Last night, every dream, every wish, every desire within me to attend Columbia University shattered before my eyes. Denied. The university DENIED my application. After everything I had done, after all of my effort, all of my belief in myself, all of the time I put into it all. Literally, utterly, completely denied. I don’t think I will ever understand God’s reason for denying me my heart’s desire, but I have to trust that He has a plan. And maybe, just maybe, I can try again. I don’t want anything else. I don’t want to settle for less than I know that I want, what I deserve, and what I believe in my heart that I am truly capable of having. I want Columbia. I need Columbia.

Though you’ve denied me, Columbia, this is not the end of me. You will be hearing from me again.

How I Came to Love California

Three years ago today was the first day of my journey to California with a good friend of mine from high school, Megan. We decided during the summer of 2007 that we wanted to have a “real” spring break together. What was usually filled with working over-time at our hourly jobs needed to change. We wanted to go somewhere new. Somewhere exotic. Somewhere that would make us feel as if we had the “best spring break.” Somewhere that was better than the Florida Keys. Somewhere that was non-cliche. Somewhere…we had never been. A remote cabin in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, California was deeply planted into our heads in the beginning. Somewhere along the way, we decided that San Diego was the place we wanted to be. What changed our minds? We noticed a lot of the vacation rentals we were looking at said they did not have air conditioning. We asked around, and turns out, YOU DON’T NEED AIR CONDITIONING in San Diego. SOLD.

When we arrived in the San Diego airport, after receiving our bags, we whisked through the sliding doors that led us to the shuttle pick-up. What we felt when those doors peeled in half, was something we had never felt before in our entire lives. Absolutely zero humidity and a just-the-right-speed breeze.

We rented a silver Mazda 3 that Megan had to be the sole driver, since I was not yet 21 years old. We got into the car and pulled away from the Enterprise station across from the airport, and started driving. Once we reached the first traffic light that was at an underpass of the freeway, the car started rolling backward as we attempted to stop the car on a (what was, to us) steep incline. I had the map of the metropolitan area spread out across the dashboard and had absolutely no idea where we were going. It was then, that Megan started to cry. “I can’t drive on these hills!” the never-even-been-outside-of-East-Coast-time-zone Floridian exclaimed. We were in for it.

We arrived at the guest cottage in Hillcrest that overlooked the airport runway and “the 5” freeway. Right-side curbs were marked red, which we had never seen before, but only learned about in Driver’s Ed. The driveway of the house looked a little something like this:

The Mazda 3 on top of our guest cottage driveway the next morning.

The next morning, we awoke in the studio cottage at 6:45. We stepped outside and onto our private deck that advertised views of the bay. Once the sun was up, I remember standing in the kitchen and looking outside of the small window that looked over the neighborhood street. Megan asked, “What are you doing?!” I paused for a minute and said, “I’m … taking it all in.”

The small window of our cottage.

As previously mentioned, I have lived in a lot of places in my short 23 years on this earth. I’ve lived as far east as New York state and as far west as Colorado, and many not-so-fun places in between. Since this trip I made three years ago, I have never in my life been somewhere that I’ve said, “THIS is where I need to be.” That was, until I came here.

And so, my deeply rooted in my heart love affair with Southern California began. The name of my blog, “Coast and Prospect,” was taken from two beautiful streets just above the La Jolla shores. I want to get married in Ellen Browning Scripps Park overlooking the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen in my life. I want to call this place, this tiny spot on planet Earth, within this universe, my home. But I know it is going to take time (and lots of saving). Nothing that is worth having is easy to get. And San Diego is most definitely worth having.