Thursday, August 21, 2014

For Singles Day 8/22/14

Since I just moved to an area that is substantially more populated (ha! that's an understatement) than the area where I used to live, I thought I would take a chance and make a post about myself for Kelly of Kelly's Korner and her "Singles Day".  My family would think I'm insane for doing this, but I figure, eight couples have gotten married from it, and what do I have to lose?

So hi.  I'm Mallory, but you can call me Mal (hence the website address).  I'm 22, and I just recently moved to New York City.


I'm here in NYC because I start work on my Master's degree in International Relations at NYU very soon.  I just graduated from a small Christian university in central North Carolina this past May, so the change is a big shock, but I absolutely love New York City already.  Eventually I want to work in embassies for the State Department or at the UN.

The number one priority in my life is my faith.  I'm a Christian and am looking for a guy who is a believer, as well.  I've been through a lot of extreme and extraordinary things in my life, and I love to share my testimony with people, but I know what it's like to be "preached at" so I try my best not to cross lines.  I love people, plain and simple.  I've often been told my best gift is my ability to encourage people and support them, and I love doing just that.  I never feel more fulfilled than when I get the chance to help people (and I'm not just saying that, I really mean it!).

I'm passionate about music.  I love to sing, so with any spare time that I have, you'll almost always find me with music playing.  I've also learned to play several instruments, but it's been several years.  I'd love to pick them up again, though!  I also love to write, as evidenced by this blog that I've written on for 5.5 years and daily for 4.5 years of that time.

Being from North Carolina, I'm also passionate about college sports, specifically the ACC.  Go NC State!  I love watching college football and basketball, and I also like the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.  Yes, gentlemen, there are girls out there who actually love watching sports. ;)

I love food, but because of some nerve damage, I'm just now learning how to cook things.  I'll try anything at least once.  I'm a creature of habit, but I'm working on venturing away from my regular foods at restaurants and such.

I'm very Type A and a stickler for details, but when I'm around my friends and people I love, it's easier for me to relax.  I'm weird and sarcastic and will likely say something awkward the first time I meet you, but I own it and am not afraid to apologize when I think I've messed up.

I come from a family of all girls, as I have two older sisters and my dad passed away when I was young, so I can be rather headstrong sometimes, but most importantly, I love people and talking to them.  Fostering relationships with people is far more important to me than a difference of opinions.

I'm an extrovert all the way and look to find fun in any situation!

If you're interested, you can email me at malloryannjones@gmail.com or leave a comment.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A letter to myself five years ago.

Right now, you're sitting in a hospital bed at Duke with a tube coming out of the back of your skull.  The past week and a half has been a whirlwind of unexpected brain surgeries, a brush with death, blown IVs and all the other fun things that go with being stuck in a hospital, and sheer panic.  You were supposed to move to Campbell five days ago, something you'd been waiting for since you got your acceptance letter because it meant a way out of Swansboro, but that plan got upended when you nearly didn't make it out of that first surgery.  You're going to go, just not in the time you think it will or want it to happen.

See, by the time 2009 is over, you're going to face four more brain surgeries and three more issues that very easily could kill you.  The good news is that they don't.  The bad news is that you're going to be taken on a ride that no one wants to be on.  And it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.  You'll get to go to Campbell for a few weeks, but you'll have to leave just when life starts to feel like it's getting back to normal.  It will feel very much like hell on earth, and you're going to be instantly infuriated by anyone who tries to get you not to refer to this period as such.  It's okay to be angry.  Just try not to take it out entirely on the people around you.  Your mom would do anything, absolutely anything, to take your pain away, and it's not the doctors' fault you keep needing surgery.  And the nurses, the hospital chaplains, they all mean well, they really do.

That God everyone keeps talking to you about?  Hear them out.  I know that you know He's real.  And I know you hate Him.  I get it, you have to have someone to blame for this disaster, for taking away your education, the one thing you think you're good at and good for.  I wish you knew what you're really worth, because it would do so much for the ways that your heart will break over the next few months.  The good news is that you eventually do give yourself to the Lord, you see Him for the ways He carries you through this period.  It'll take time, but I promise that when it happens, it's going to be the best feeling in the world and you'll have an at least slightly better understanding of what you're facing now.

When you finally get out of the hospital in November (there are breaks, but not long ones, this saga won't end for another three months), you're going to be so mentally and emotionally broken from the trauma that you're going to be pretty disgusted by the idea of turning around and going to a Christian university.  You're beyond ecstatic to finally get to go to Campbell and stay there, but you won't forget that you'll be surrounded by talk of God.  That gets better, too.  It's not as suffocating as you expect it to be.

You can't fully understand it now, but going to this Christian university will be the best thing that can happen to you.  Your first college friends will be the niece of a woman your Mom works with (it's not as awkward as it sounds) and her roommates, who bring you to a Bible study.  You pretty much fake your way through it, but you will appreciate these girls simply for being kind to you.  The first year of your college life will mostly be spent recovering from the brain surgeries and then the foot surgeries (oh yeah, those are coming next year, but you ask for them because your feet are in so much pain), so you don't get the full college "experience" at first, but you don't care because you love just being a student there.  You will meet professors who love you, pray for you, make you laugh, make you scream, and everything in between.

But even better than the academics is the friends you will make.  You know how Matt has always told you that it wasn't your fault you got bullied so much, that you weren't the problem?  (Speaking of Matt, you'll not be so in love with him soon enough.  It'll hit you like a ton of bricks one day that all he really is meant to be is your best friend and big brother.  Just wait.)  And you know how no matter how hard you tried, you just couldn't make yourself believe that anyone else would ever love you even close to the way he does?  Well guess what - Matt was right.  You are going to have more love in your life than you know what to do with before too long.  You will find girls who build you up and support you through all the drama.  One girl in particular will become your best friend for life, and the best part is that, in profile, she's exactly the girl who used to make your life miserable. These girls will help you find your voice.  They will be everything you wish girlfriends could be.  They will listen to you talk about crushes, talk to you about family drama, help you get ready for a dance, and they'll trust you enough to come to you for advice for their own lives.  These girls will teach you how to love yourself the way you couldn't before.

And part of me feels like this is even cooler, you will find a group of guy friends in your senior year that you will affectionately call your brothers.  You have to weed through a lot of dramatic boys and some bullying ones, too, to get to them, but when you find them, they will make it more than worth it.  The way that these brothers love you will go a long way in healing the scars from the boys who abused you before.  They will defend you, tease you, teach you, learn from you, appease your major penchant for pictures, give you the biggest hugs, and never let you forget that they love you.  Your insecurity will make you want to question them and their sincerity, but please don't.  They are not the boys from your past.  When you question them anyway, they won't get mad, they won't run.  They somehow instinctively understand you and will make you laugh by saying they don't know why you want to hang out with them.  Bask in your friends' love.  They are only a glimpse of the greater Love.

Speaking of that greater Love, remember how I told you you'll take a hold of it one day?  Yeah.  It'll happen.  In a pretty strange way, no less.  You're going to meet a band at Campbell, visiting thanks to Campbell staff, that turns everything you think you know on its head in the best possible way.  (Just another reason to be thankful you were led to Campbell.)  Your first conversation with them, you're going to be surprised at how different they seem.  It's not that they're Christians, it's that they don't flaunt it, they don't ever preach at you.  You'll see a light in them, and it won't make sense at first, all you'll know is that you want to get to know them better.  And you will, both through the power of social media and your determination to go all over the state to see them in person again.  You'll see them a lot.  They will make it feel safe for you to ask about God and Jesus and Christianity, all the questions you brushed aside after your health trauma and the mistreatment you were dealt by Christians.  They will become such an important part of your life in such a short amount of time that your mom is going to send you on a plane to go visit them.  You'll think it's just for their celebration, but it turns out to be the biggest week of your life, because one night on that trip, you will surrender yourself to God and get baptized in a church of hundreds of strangers and two of your best friends.  It will be a crazy story to tell, but you'll never do it without a huge smile on your face.  Part of you will wish it had happened sooner, but you'll mostly just appreciate that it happened at all.

Another cool gift that comes from meeting those four kids in that band is that they will teach you not to be ashamed of your story.  They will be the first people to show you what good talking about your story can do, and they will only be the spark that lights the flame of your passion for telling people about the miracles God has done in you and for you.  One day, you'll get on a plane to Texas to meet a church of people who were affected by your story and wanted to meet you.  (Never let it be said the internet can't do awesome things.)  Over the next several months, you're not going to want to talk to anyone about the details of the trauma you face, but soon enough, you will hear what people learn from you and from it.  It's going to baffle you tremendously, you'll say over and over again just how unqualified you are to teach people anything about life or God, but every time it happens, you will thank God for using you and grow more determined to tell anyone who listen about what He is capable of.  Take hold of that passion and run with it.

You can't see it now, but where you are right now is not the end of your life.  You're going to be taken out of these ashes and made to see yourself and your life for all the beauty within.  And five years from now, you'll be sitting in your New York City apartment, having graduated Campbell with high honors, about to start chasing your dreams as you begin grad school at NYU.  That seems impossible to you right now, but it's true.

As cheesy as it is, life really does get better.  I'm thankful for your innate stubbornness, which will only be made stronger over the next few months, because you'll make it through.  Your life will never be without medical problems, but they'll be much less complicated.  You'll make it through with one heck of a story to tell and a fire for loving people that you just haven't been capable of up until now.  You have so much to offer the world and the people you will meet, and soon enough, you will see just how much the world and your future have to offer you.

You'll be more than fine.  You're going to be great.  I promise.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You've Got Mail

We don't have a lot to do here because we can't afford to do much until my loan refund comes in.  So between that and all the health stuff, needless to say, I've been a tad on the lazy/bored side lately.  I can't wait to get in the swing of things with school and have places to go and things to do.  But that time will come soon enough and I'm sure I'll be going crazy before too long.  Ha!  The conundrum of life, we always want what we don't have.

With all this time on my hands, I've been on a bit of a snail mail kick the past couple days.  I've been wanting to be better about sending people letters and things just because, and I mentioned this to a friend, so she sent me a pack of cards and envelopes and some stamps.  Harry Potter stamps, no less.  So I wrote out 4 cards last night and got them out today, and wrote 4 more cards tonight and will hopefully get them in the mail tomorrow.  I have to ask how sending mail works here, if we can just stick things in our box for the mailman to pick up.  I'm not entirely sure because there are no flags on the boxes like on normal mailboxes at houses.  And I'm not sure I want to walk all the way back to the post office tomorrow.

This is so much fun!  I've thoroughly enjoyed writing out each card, and deciding exactly what I want to say to each person in such a small space.  I've imagined their reactions when they open them, and that makes me smile.  I definitely want to continue this tradition.  Hopefully I won't lose it, at least not entirely, once school picks up.

Well I better get to bed.  The super is coming early tomorrow morning to put in some extra cabinets.  I sure don't know where he's going to fit them!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Nothing

As in, all that stuff I wrote about yesterday possibly being wrong turned out to be nothing.  I spent all day at the hospital today because the really really sharp pain in my shunt area came back last night, and they managed to get some old scans sent up from Duke late this afternoon, and it turns out my shunt and ventricles have been like this for years, so it's just how the shunt is set up in my brain.  Nothing to be concerned about.  Praise Jesus.  I can continue on with getting ready for all the grad school stuff without worrying.

Glad that's over with.  This has not been a fun couple of days.  Now if only I can find a way to get my head pain back down to a manageable level since the doctors at the hospital wouldn't do anything to help.

For now, though, I'm going back to sleep.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Growing in Trust

Well, it was a good thing I blogged before I left the apartment last night.  Things...uh...didn't exactly turn out quite like I planned.  It started out great, we went to a bar and hung out, and I was dancing and felt great.  Then I got overheated.  And I sat down and started getting a sharp pain in my head pretty much right on my shunt. Then I got really nauseous and felt a seizure coming on.  Luckily I managed to get on the ground before it happened, but you can imagine just how well that whole scene worked out in a bar crowded with people.

The EMT people that showed up were very nice and all.  I decided to go to the ER to figure out why my shunt was in so much pain, because the only other times I'd been in even close to that much pain, I'd hit my head and last night I didn't hit anything.  The hospital was when things got even more complicated.

It appears as though the tip of my shunt has moved, and because of that, one ventricle is not draining.  They called it obstructive hydrocephalus.  However, they couldn't or wouldn't do anything last night because they want to get my neurosurgery file from Duke and some of the images I got done at the hospitals near Campbell so they can be sure by looking at what my shunt and ventricles looked like when doctors said my shunt was normal and everything was working properly.  So both the doctor and I are calling Duke and Central Harnett in the morning to see how quickly they can get that information up here and I am calling to make an appointment with the doctor that was in charge last night at the end of the week in her office.  Hopefully everything will be up here by then and we can make a plan as to what to do next.

Now, I'll be honest.  Before the "we need to get old scans and then see what to do" plan was given, my mind went to some dark places upon learning that my shunt seems to have moved.  I immediately remembered the 2009 brain surgeries and the hell-on-earth feeling of those few months, and panicked a bit at the comparison of how that was the week before I was supposed to start Campbell, and this is pretty much the week before I'm supposed to start NYU.  I thought about how Mom has just started the workdays for her new job, and knew she can't afford to take time off already for me to have another surgery, especially not when she'd have to get a plane ticket to come be with me, and how even if I told her not to come she would anyway because that's what she does.

But part of me thought - 'If surgery is what needs to be done to fix this, fix it.'  I don't want to put it off and then be on the brink of another life or death situation.  I'm not exactly thrilled with this plan because this means I have to wait several days before knowing what's going to happen next, if yet another surgery is knocking on my door.  Waiting sucks.  But it's also the best way for me to grow in my trust in God.

Pastor Chris said God must really trust me, because He's given me a hard mission.  I don't know why God trusts me, because I certainly don't feel qualified.

But I know why I trust Him and that's what matters.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week One: In Pictures

Since nothing happened today except we got our cable and wifi set up and I'm about to go out with Holly for our first real Saturday night in the city, and I was laying in bed while uploading my posts from this past week and hadn't uploaded the pictures to go with them to my computer yet, here's week one of my new life in pictures.  They're mostly self-explanatory.



train station



I have arrived!


shot up Broadway


just because it's the corner of Fifth Avenue...unintentionally an apparently really awesome French restaurant


started from the bottom, now I'm here



our intersection




this plus a fridge is our "kitchen"










I'd give anything to see Idina Menzel perform



I loved this chandelier at the theater


our view at the lounge where we had drinks


me, Frank, Chad. I love them!


the view from our rooftop. not bad, huh? ;)

And now I am off to get ready for another new experience. Week one, complete!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Real Life

Today was the first day that felt like real life and not a vacation.

I had a bad migraine until about 3 pm.

I took a shower, and then Holly and I went to Spiegel next door to try their food.

We went to the grocery store (or supermarket as they call it here) a few blocks away.

For a little splurge, we tried a new gelato place next to Katz's, since it's close.

There, Holly spilled gelato all over herself (I'm supposed to be the clumsy one) so we came back and had our first experience with a big city laundromat.  Not too bad.  And I'm a fan of how quickly the dryers dried our clothes.

Then we came back and relaxed and watched Pirates of the Caribbean (the original, only the original!) and its DVD extras all night.

I like this life.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Family lasts.

I think that the exhaustion of the past week must have really caught up to me because aside from an alarm to wake up and take my morning medicine, I slept solidly for twelve straight hours and did not get out of bed until past 3 this afternoon.  And now it’s only 11:30 and I’m ready to go back to bed.

All we’ve done today is watch movies.  I think we needed a day of rest, the both of us.  The only downside is that I’ve had to watch all movies that Holly wanted, because she doesn't like any of mine.  Whatever.  Only about 36 more hours without cable and wifi.

The highlight of today was when I went back up to the roof and got some shots of the skyline in the daytime.  While I was up there, I ended up having a chat with Austin for about 10 minutes before he had to go to a meeting.  I also called Ricky, who ended up getting in a car with Reafe and Scooter during it because they were going to some photo shoot for the team, so I also got to talk to them.  Missing their season is one of the few hard things about being up here.  Thankfully I have a copy of their schedule and can watch their games online.  Reafe mentioned he didn’t know what they were gonna do without me at all their games this fall, but reassured me that they’d never replace me as their number one. :)

I miss my brothers so much, and it makes me nervous when I think about how long it could take me to find a safe group like I had (have) with them.  But I know that I felt the same way when I was beginning at Campbell, and as Ricky has told me multiple times, he fully believes that there are people that God brought me here to meet.  I will find my new family here.  

But I also get to hold on to the ones back at Campbell who love me so well and changed me for the better.  I moved, but I’m still their sister.  The family love we fostered last year hasn’t changed a bit.  All the glory goes to God for that one.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I can get used to this.

Well, turns out Mom didn’t sleep at all.  That’s not unusual.  Holly said she didn’t finish watching stuff on the DVD until like 2:00, and then she had to be up at 5:00 to get ready for her train, so she just stayed up.  I woke up long enough to give her a couple hugs sometime before 6:00 when she left and then went back to bed.

I woke up to Holly fussing at me at 10:30 because another girl was due to come look at the room at 11:00, so today started off with a fight.  Blah.  She wanted me to get ready because what if she showed up early and yada yada yada….and then the girl didn’t show up until 11:35.  A completely unnecessary fight that could have been avoided if she would just treat me like an adult and her equal.  But that’s obviously going to take time, if it happens at all.

But hey, we got a roommate!  She seems really nice and we even met her parents who were here, too.  The hilarious part is that the mom is pretty much the black version of my mom and the dad is from Bertie County, NC, like half an hour from where my grandmother grew up.  I think it’s meant to be, haha.

Then we watched Troy and then I took a nap.  I think the craziness of this week has caught up to me because I am absolutely beat today.  But our plans for tonight were 100% worth getting up for.

Tonight was the first time this city felt normal and not scary.  Two of the regulars from the restaurant where Holy used to work, as in the one she just left last week, are up here on business, so they took us out tonight.  They are the sweetest married couple, Chad and Frank.  They took us to this super nice hotel for a drink before dinner, and I got this beautiful panoramic shot of the view.  Then they took us to a Peruvian restaurant for dinner and I got to try all sorts of cool new stuff, like cow heart which is actually delicious and sauce made from bread, and insisted on buying us a couple more drinks, one was made from a Peruvian liqueur and I wasn’t crazy about it but didn’t hate it.

The important part is that I felt like I belonged here tonight.  We joked and laughed for hours, and we even have “inside jokes” now that we’re leaving each other Facebook comments about.  Frank and I really hit it off and had each other laughing the whole night; Holly said that she thinks that’s the most she’s ever seen Frank talk, apparently he’s usually really quiet.  They even had their driver take us all the way back to our apartment so we didn’t have to deal with the subway (I didn’t even mention how badly my legs were hurting from all the walking we did earlier from the subway to the hotel lounge to the restaurant).

When we got back it was like 10:30 and Holly and I sat at the bar/restaurant next door and talked to the very sweet and very attractive bartender.  We’re definitely going to be there quite a bit.  It’s a great little place.

Like I said, this is the first day that I felt like I really lived here and wasn’t just on vacation, and it was only solidified by what happened at the end of the night.  I came back to the apartment first after we left the place next door because Holly was smoking, and when she came in she told me that a girl she met on the stairs told her there was rooftop access and then took her up there and the view was so incredible that she had to come back down and get me.  The five flights of stairs were so worth it because the view is INSANE.  I have to go back up there tomorrow and get a panoramic shot of the view in the daytime.  It’s insane.  We can see EVERYTHING.  Including a perfect shot of the Empire State Building to our right.

I think it really hit both of us when we were up there tonight:  This is really real.  We live in New York City.  We live here.  This is our dream, and it’s in front of us right now.

#livin

#wow

#nobigdeal


(Yeah, hashtags are part of the jokes from tonight.  :D)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Broadway baby!

Mom splurged and took Holly to a show when they were up here for the apartment search a few weeks ago, so she did the same for me now.  We went to see Motown the Musical and it was SO MUCH FUN.  I’m lucky because I inherited my mom’s awesome taste in music, so I knew a good deal of the songs featured.

It was at a small theater just off Times Square, which worked because we ended up having to go to the TKTS booth in Times Square to get discount tickets.  It was awesome because we got aisle seats towards the front of the mezzanine and they were $4 cheaper than the promotion that the theater was running that they were sold out of.  So after we walked from the subway to theater, then to the TKTS booth, I was ready for dinner.  We went to this cafe that Mom and Holly went to and had this awesome chicken parmesan panini quesadilla looking thing, and it was big enough that we split that and a piece of marble cheesecake and were full.

I tell ya, having a piece of cheesecake in a cafe just off Times Square?  You can’t beat it.  And it was like twice the size of and at least $2 cheaper than the cheesecake at Katz’s.  Go figure.

Then we went back to the theater.  Luckily, a worker let me in to sit down during the time before they opened the doors, because there is no way that I could have stood there for half an hour before they opened up for seating.  He was very nice and let Mom come in with me.

Then, showtime!  The one downside to Broadway theaters is the lack of leg room, but thankfully Mom gave me the aisle seat so I could sort of stick my legs out in the aisle and avoid getting some serious cramps because facing straight on, I couldn’t even get my feet to touch the ground the seat in front of me was that close.

I LOVED THIS SHOW.  Love love loved it.  It was like traveling back in time it was so authentic.  The singers were unbelievably talented and the dancers were as good as you expect Broadway dancers to be.  The kicker, though, was that the kid who played young Michael Jackson (and also young Stevie Wonder and young Berry Gordy) sounded EXACTLY LIKE HIM.  It was uncanny.  And he was the best dancer in the entire show.  I can’t imagine that the kid who shares the role with him was any better.  I hope that Nathaniel Cullors has a long and vibrant Broadway career.

We got back after 11:00 and then hung out and watched extras on the Sound of Music DVD and then I crashed long before Mom and Holly did.

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