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Small handwriting sample of Brooke's First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page
Brooke holds her red guitar

Brooke's stuffed monkey, Larry

Detail of neck and strings on Brooke's red guitar


10 November 2003

“Someday I’ll fly. Someday I’ll soar. Someday I’ll be so damn much more. ’Cause I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.”

—John Mayer, “Bigger Than My Body”

When I walk past the Tower at dusk, that’s how I feel. I feel like I can do anything. Because I have my whole life ahead of me. I don’t know why the Tower evokes these feelings. Maybe it’s because it’s so big. I don’t know. But I love the way it feels to walk around campus in the evening. I don’t ever want to forget that feeling.

Recently my friend Hab brought to my attention a scary fact. Our lives are constantly being turned into memories. This terrifies me. Because people get older, and people forget. I don’t want to forget. And I know there are things that I will never forget. I’ll never forget my first kiss, my first crush, my first broken heart, my first job, my first car. But I will forget other less important things. I will someday forget what it feels like to walk the halls of my high school as a student. I will forget what it feels like to be too young to do things. I will forget what it feels like to walk through campus at dusk knowing that I have the rest of my life ahead of me. I hate that I will forget. That is why I write things down. That is why I journal. But I don’t write everything down. And even the things that I do write down are not safe from the corruption of time. Pieces of paper get destroyed, discarded or lost. Journals are forgotten. Quick little notes jotted down lose their significance.

Already there are things about high school that I am forgetting.

So is there a moral to this rant? Is there some deep and profound insight that I can give to you? Not at all. I’m just saying that life is a beautiful thing. I want to soak it all in. I want to enjoy every single moment. And I want it to be like watching a video. I want to rewind to the parts that I didn’t understand. I want to watch my favorites over and over again. I want to get to the point where I can quote back every line….

Alas, I cannot. So I’ll just have to enjoy it as it happens I suppose.

29 September 2003

“They say goldfish have no memories. I guess their lives are much like mine, and the little plastic castle is a surprise every time. And it’s hard to say if they’re happy, but they don’t seem much to mind.”

—Ani DiFranco

These are my little plastic castles, the things that make me super happy no matter how often they happen or how used to them I have become.
Really amazingly simple things that mean the world to you when you go away to college:

1. Phone calls from your friends

Some of the same people have been calling me every day for the past six years or so, and when I was at home, I must admit, sometimes I lied and said I couldn’t talk simply because I had nothing at all to say to them. Now I get super excited EVERY time my cell phone rings, regardless of who’s on the other end.

2. Instant Messenger

Messages from friends when you’ve put up an away message…that’s so fun.

3. Real food

There are only so many times I can eat the same exact salad or chicken strips. I would give just about anything for roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy or my dad’s spaghetti.

4. Ceiling fans

My dorm room is obscenely hot EVERY night. Roommate and I can’t figure out just why it gets so warm each night, but it’s rather obnoxious. I like to sleep in a cold room. And I like the sound my fan at home makes.

5. Pets

Okay, so maybe I’m just weird, but I’ve never in my life lived without a pet. I’m seriously considering catching a squirrel just so that I can have something to pet and play with in my dorm room.

6. Someone else doing your laundry

I think it’s quite possibly the nicest thing a roommate can do.

7. A kitchen

Okay, so lots of people live in apartments and they have the amenities of a stove and a toaster and such, but here in the dorm, we don’t have that luxury. Pizza Rolls just aren’t the same when you microwave them instead of bake them.

8. Privacy

Roommates make it difficult to have a bad day. It’s not fair to be fussy or mean when someone else has to put up with you. You can’t exactly lock yourself away in your room for the safety of others when those others live in that same room with you.

9. Familiar grocery stores

The Albertson’s here is arranged all wrong.

10. Letters

Sure, it was always cool to get real mail, but it’s more cool when you have your own mailbox to check. I check ours everyday, and I always feel like a really big loser when I go check it and there’s nothing there.

11. The right kind of juice

Sometimes they have the kind I like, sometimes they don’t. It’s always such a big disappointment when they don’t.

12. Being able to sit up at night with the lights on

If Roommate goes to bed first, then it’s work by the bluish light from the computer screen.

13. Driving places

Man, walking sucks.

14. Visits from your friends

I’ve had one friend come up so far...the very best friend in the entire world…yay, Shellie! And though I’m beginning to see it’s foolish, I still hold out hope that some of my other friends will take the seven-hour drive someday. Seven hours…come on, that’s nothing.

15. Dry clothes

The dryers here rip you off big time. They dry your clothes for an entire hour, a whole hour for a measly 75 cents. Except the clothes NEVER come out dry, so you have to spend another 75 cents.

15 September 2003

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.”

—E.Y. Harbug

I adore music. I never ever ever sit in my room without having either my computer or my stereo sing to me. Because music is amazing. I mean, don’t you love how no matter what kind of mood you’re in you can find some song where the singer apparently knows exactly how you feel and what you’re going through? So perhaps my fellow Web journalists will be more creative. Maybe they’ll put up some of their own writing or do something else amazingly cool that I will copy off of next time. But for now, this is all I’ve got. So here it is…the song of the day…the song of the month…all my friends back home know exactly which one I’m going to pick…but it’s very appropriate…for going away to college that is…

“The Scientist” by Coldplay

Come up to meet you,
Tell you I'm sorry.
You don't know how lovely you are.
I had to find you,
Tell you I need you,
Tell you I set you apart.
Tell me your secrets,
And ask me your questions.
Oh let’s go back to the start.
Running in circles.
Coming up tails.
Heads on a silence apart.

Nobody said it was easy.
It’s such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy.
No one ever said it would be this hard.

Oh take me back to the start.

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures…
Pulling your puzzles apart.
Questions of science,
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart.
Tell me you love me.
Come back and haunt me.
Oh and I rush to the start.
Running in circles.
Chasing our tails.
Coming back as we are.

Nobody said it was easy.
Oh it’s such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy.
No one ever said it would be so hard.

I’m going back to the start.

I know, I know…it’s amazing. And here’s how it applies to this whole going off to college thing…this is why it played on loop over and over again in the first few days that I was living here…

The first verse…“I had to find you, tell you I need you, tell you I set you apart.” Senior year is all about this…finally getting around to realizing that you love your friends and you should probably tell them. In the few weeks just before I left for college, I found myself doing a lot of that…taking every opportunity to tell my friends just how fantastic they were, just how much I loved them. It’s amazing how much time I wasted with them…how it took me leaving them to tell them that I adored them.

“Oh let’s go back to the start”…So he wants to go back…and so do I…in this case, back to high school. Freshman year was not that long ago. Think about how much you changed over the course of high school. Think about all the people you met. Think about how much cooler those people helped you to become. I wouldn’t mind doing that over again.

And then, if I can’t have high school back, then why not the summer? Why not the greatest three months of my life ever? Why can’t I just do that over again? I don’t want to change any of it…I just want to re-live all of it.

And then the chorus…“Nobody said it was easy. Oh it’s such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be so hard.” Isn’t that the truth? No one told me leaving behind everything I knew was going to be easy. But no one warned me about how hard it was going to be either. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. But people come into your life whom you want to spend every waking moment with...and they make it hard…by being so great, they make it hard.

The second verse, that’s a little trickier…“I was just guessing, at numbers and figures…Pulling your puzzles apart.” So you think you know your friends. You think you know everything there is to know about them. And then they jump into this whole college thing, and everything changes…everyone changes. The kids that didn’t drink do. The ones that did, don’t anymore. The really good conservative girls get their noses pierced. The ones who blew everyone away in high school when they did it, take their nose rings out. And so you get to college and you find out that you didn’t know everyone as well as you thought you did. Some things never change…my two best friends remain the most amazing and selfless individuals ever, but they’re changing smaller, subtler ways.

“Questions of science, science and progress, don’t speak as loud as my heart.” Ok, so this one’s personal. This one’s about thinking with your heart and not your head. This is knowing that you made the right decision but desperately wanting to be in Baton Rouge. This is having everyone tell you to get over the boy who lives seven hours away and not being able to make yourself.

“Coming back as we are.” Oooh, I like that line…because it fits so nicely with my theory on people changing. Winter break is going to be nuts. Ali will come home from California, Joe will come home from Colorado, Andre` will come back from New York, and we’ll get to see everyone…see what they’re like now.

And then the refrain again. Wow. I feel like I just finished a Wednesday AP exercise in third hour English. How’d I do, Mr. Bernard? (Mr. Bernard was my senior English teacher…amazing man…I have a huge crush on him.)

So that’s it. That’s the extent of my deep thinking for today. Maybe you disagree. Maybe I’m totally off in my interpretation. And that’s the beauty of it. The song fits me because I made it fit me. And even if you disagree with my interpretation, you’ve got to concede this much…Coldplay is amazing.

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