Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye Year

I found this, courtesy of PostSecret, and I thought it was natural, considering how many of us are thinking about this past year at this point. It's almost over, and I wonder how many other people want their year back. I wonder how many people want more than just the last year back. It made me wonder, for just a minute, if I want my year back. I wonder if maybe a little part of me wishes I could go back and re-live it. I wonder if there are any changes I would want to make. I don't think there are, really. When I think back on the past year... I think it was a crazy, wonderful, mixed-up, meant-to-be, perfectly timed year. I had not a clue what was in store for me last January. In fact, this year began with a sinus infection. How lovely. Last January, I was sick, depressed, wildly emotional, and not exactly full of faith. Even quoting Joseph Campbell at myself didn't seem to help that much. Fortunately, January wasn't an indicator for how the entire year was going to go. It was a year of ups and downs, and the downs got pretty low. But, oh, the ups were so high... It turned out to be year of some lasts, some repeats, and a great many firsts.
First, I turned eighteen. I finished my last year of debate with one last trip to the Regional tournament. I didn't go to Nationals (which would have been a first) but I did get to go to Disney World for the first time, and ride my first roller coaster! And I had the chance to spend time with one amazing family, and make some really amazing friendships (one of which has lasted much longer than I could have anticipated, and I'm so grateful). I joined a small group, and made more good friends there too. I also graduated from high school (ha, I made it!). Then, I spent serious quality time with all my Northern folks. I also got to take my very first trip to Chicago (highly notable, and highly wonderful). I read the last Harry Potter book. I got to see my parents start a business. I got both my driver's license and my very first car (that was a biggie). Then I fell in love, back out of love, made a new friend, got even closer to an old friend, and finished my first semester of college classes. (All while working part-time. I might mention that in the past year I manged to quit my job, and then get re-hired again.)
It was a big year. A good year.

Now I am looking into the face of another new year. Yet another unit of the order we try to impose upon time is gaping in front of me. I'm looking at it, and honestly, I'm a little scared. I'm scared that I won't make it to a four-year college like I want, scared if I do I won't be able to pay for it, scared that I won't be smart enough to handle statistics and Spanish... In this past year, and the past few month especially, I have found that there isn't anything I'd rather do with my life than be a writer. That gives me a wonderful sense of conviction and scares me to death at the same time. I'm even a little scared at how fast it all goes by. I have so many resolutions I want to make, that I know I'll never keep. I know I'll just keep bumbling along, figuring things out as I go, helped in large part by other people.
However, when I think back on the past year... I realize that a lot of good came out of places where I didn't even expect it. That gives me hope.

Now, there is no way I'm going to come up with an ending that isn't ridiculously sappy or trite (I tried, but no luck). I'll only say that I do not want my year back. I think I may (God help me) be ready to dive into the next, feet first. (Especially now that I have lovingly exorcised 2007 through writing this.)

Happy New Year. I hope it's a blessed one for us all.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Ilde Hermit

It feels really, really good to be lazy. Slowing down to the point where an entire day will contain the following: Read in bed, make a cake, walk the dog, do some dishes, watch tv, knit. It's marvelous, at least until I get bored. Which will happen eventually, but until then I revel in this slow pace, after the hectic rush of the past few months.

Yet, this slowing down has created plenty of space for strange thoughts and musings. Christmas was delightful, once it truly arrived. My family and I made sugar cookies, sang hymns by candlelight, and exchanged gifts around our tree, whose ornaments carry the history of lives. I finally manged to relax and simply enjoy the spirit of the season... Although I found myself torn once again by wishing to be exactly where I was, and with my more far-flung family at the same time.

In the lazy days since Christmas, a number of thoughts have been chasing themselves around my head. I processed with shock and a sudden, unexpected grief the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. I am not going to claim that she was a hero to me, or that I knew a great deal about her, besides what we all heard or read in the news. But her death made me realize with a crashing horror what a courageous leader has been lost to us, and what a life of conviction. Not only that, her death seems to encapsulate for me the intensity of the fear, instability, and violence that consumes that region of the world. It is another jolt to my expanding awareness of the turmoil that surrounds us.

I am also, as of yet, trying to ignore the fact that the year is drawing inevitably to a close. I am not ready to admit that yet, not ready to reflect on the year I have just had. Most of all, I am not ready to speculate about the year to some. It's too much at the moment, but I know I will be forced into a fresh year soon anyway.

I still can't control a bubble of emotion when I watch a movie that ends in a happily ever after, the perfect couple united at last, as you knew they had to be. I realize that I would like to be in love in theory; in that nice, inevitable way that it happens on screen. Yet, when I am confronted with reality it is so disturbingly messy that I end up recoiling in fear and confusion. Circumstances are not right, the wrong people get involved, emotions run wild. Really, being single is so much more simple. I have always known that life is not like a romantic comedy, at least once I passed the age of eleven or twelve. I know what is fiction and what is not... on a certain rational level. But there is something in my brain, or my gut that yearns to have that fiction for myself. However, I am a coward, and I will run away from the messiness of real life as long as I can. I only hope I can be forgiven for that.

I received, as a Christmas gift, and elusive copy of Atonement, by Ian McEwan. It has gripped me far more than I had anticipated, and I find myself marveling at how intensely McEwan plunges the reader into the inner lives of his characters. It so deep a plunge that I feel something has been revealed to me as another writer. Only, I am still uncertain, especially since I am only about (perhaps not quite) halfway through. I am waiting to see what happens next.

Now I am struggling with my own inertia, and sudden anti-social behavior. Right now, I would like to be a hermit. An idle hermit. True hermitage, however, isn't exactly on the list of options. And there seems to be a general disregard for people who do nothing. I don't see anything wrong with it, but...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Clothes Dryer Thoughts

I have too many thoughts to fit into one entry, I think. So, I'll have to split them up into a few over the next few days. Right now I am (was) trying unsuccessfully to sleep. But thoughts keep tumbling through my brain, all mixed up and spinning round and round, like watching the colors of your clothes in the dryer at the laundromat. I'm thinking about how quickly Christmas passed (oh, but how lovely it was after all) and what a fun party I just came home from. I though passingly about how I am looking forward to moving out, but then also reflected on what a marvelous family I manged to be landed with. I am still processing, in slow kind of shock that has been in the background of my evening, that Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. I am wondering if ignoring awkward situations really is the best idea, (but I am too cowardly to do different, I think). I am also reflecting on how stupendous it is to wake up and have nothing you have to do that day. It feels refreshing for the moment.

These are all thoughts I would like to elaborate on at some point, but for now I would simply like to say that I hope you all had a beautiful, wonderful Christmas, and that the new year will find you well. Please try to relax, it's good for your health.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rest For The Weary

This afternoon was a gray, gray afternoon. It was an afternoon spent rummaging through thrift store bins, and outrageous theater cast-offs. It was an afternoon of tea and cookies, and a friendship so old and comfortable; like a pair of perfectly well worn shoes. It was a breath of fresh air, in all the best senses of the phrase. I feel that I may be finally drawing closer to what I want Christmas to be. I have reached the understanding that Christmas will no longer hold the same kind of wide-eyed magic it had when I was just a kid. I have the reached the understanding that many things will not hold that magic anymore. But if I can see what has replaced that, and see not a loss, but the gaining of something new... well, then that would be something.

Today I heard a story on the radio about a homeless man living in New Orleans who had not been home, or seen his family in many, many years. He gave an interview that aired nationally, and his family heard him on their radio many, many miles away. As soon as they knew he was there, and that he was alive, his mother and his son got in the car and drove to find him. They did. They found him all right, and he kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry for leaving," and they kept saying, "It's okay! It's okay, We got you. That's all that matters."
The he told them he had wanted to go home for a long time. But he had been too proud to show up after all that, "I didn't want to come home with nothing, and you all think the only reason I come home was because I needed you," he said.
"Honey!" exclaimed his mother in a voice so full of love and exasperation, "that's when you're supposed to come home!"

And I thought, if only everyone knew that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I am trying really, really hard to come up with some kind of meaning here, some kind of message, some kind of philosophy, some kind of deep thought. Nothing is coming.

All I can see is the surface of life; I'm skating along it, crossing things off my To Do list, worrying about social engagements, gifts to be given, and errands to be run. There are things to be cleaned up, picked up, put away. There are seams to be fixed, buttons to be sewn back on. There are things to be baked. I don't have time to stop and ponder. That or I don't want to, who knows?

Part of me wants to have something to share, but is that just my own desire to validate myself by writing something big and beautiful? Something worthy of praise?
Some days I write because it's real, and I write just because this truth just has to come out. But on days when I'm struggling to find that truth, I start to panic a little bit. I start to wonder if I'm any good, and I'm sure everyone is going to stop reading because it's pretty clear things are going to be downhill from here... Sometimes I do wonder about my own motivations for lots of things. Not just the writing. Sometimes I ask myself why I want the things I want, and I don't always have a good answer for myself. Sometimes I wonder why I, why people, insist on tying their own self-worth to things we think we can measure: things like the grades we've gotten, the mountains we've climbed, and the people we've managed to impress. Because I don't think that's what it's really about. I hope it's not. I told a friend that there is more to you than these things we focus on so much.
What's left after you take all those other things away? That is what I'm looking for. Only sometimes it's hard to get past the surface of life.

Insanity continues as Christmas grows closer. I have concluded that I will not be able to relax until Christmas day itself. But I am grateful for the friends I have still with me. I've realized lately that it can be difficult sometimes to keep people in your life, no matter how much you liked each other. Family is also, in both comforting and difficult ways, always there. I think I'm grateful for that too.

And so the days meander forward at a pace I can't abide. I want them to slow down. Give me more time, I say. Slow me down, and fill me up.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, I Can't Say I Didn't Enjoy Myself...

And so this marks the end of the semester. I have just finished my last final, and now I am free, free, free from school until January tenth. I feel that I should take some reflection upon the past few months, just to remind myself of how much I managed to cram into them, if anything. I managed an A in all my classes except (yes) mathematics. I earned I a respectable B there. Which is really nice, considering that I can't claim to have been in an actual, honest-to-God classroom before the beginning of this semester...

What else did I do? I worked part-time all semester, got nervous, got excited, got sick, got better, had a crush, got better (ish), made a friend, and realized that I love English, (and being in school, for that matter) even more than I thought.

Now, Christmas. Christmas, and cookies, and decorations, and lights, and parties. Then New Years, and I'll be looking back on how much I manged to cram into the last year...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What I Want

Life, it seems, has descended into a barely controlled chaos. I think the state of my physical surroundings reflects this more accurately than anything... my room is in a state of mess that is bad even for me. Books are stacked on the floor, laundry spills out of my dresser drawers, a layer of old papers, older receipts, and sticky notes scribbled with various to-do's coats my desk (I mean it, I can't see the top of my desk). Makeup is strewn across the top my dresser, shoes lie in the middle of the floor, unmoved despite the fact that I keep tripping over them. Everything is a mess, but do I stop to pick anything up? No. Things get hurled around the room, pushed off the bed onto the floor at night when I want to sleep, tossed here and there as I rush to get out the door. All ignored as I study (Oh, finals! How I wish you were over and done with!) or choose to steal some hours of sleep in the afternoon. (Why can't I control the urge to lie down?)
There is so much to do. Even my lists aren't making me feel better. I just keep thinking that if I can just get through my exams, then I will be able to pull things together. Or let things go, maybe, because at that point it will be okay to do that. I think.

I keep hearing holiday music, and looking at the calendar, but it doesn't feel like the holidays to me. I'm busy, my family is busy. We haven't even put up our Christmas tree yet. I was feeling tired and sad, wondering where that holiday spirit that usually infects me has gone. I keep waiting for it to come, but I realized today that I have to go out and stir some up. I keep thinking about slowing down, but I can't without feeling guilty. School calls, the future is begging to be planned, people have been acting... oddly. But once these exams are out of the way, I promise to myself that I will summon some cheer. I will give away cookies, and spend time with my family. I will laugh and make others laugh with me, I will get in touch with friends, I will be young. Mostly I want to loosen up and be grateful, and not worry about what might or might not happen tomorrow.

That is what I want for Christmas, even more than the entire boxed set of Gilmore Girls.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

An Acceptable Melancholy

I love winter passionately, despite my runny, sneezing nose and the itchy dry skin on the backs of my hands. I love to stare up at the pale, sharp winter sky and see bared tree branches etch dark lines against the blue; twisting and marvelously intricate. I can't think of anything more stately and dignified than a bare tree. I love the quiet bleakness of winter, the peacefulness, the acceptable melancholy that comes with some winter days. I love how warm and brightly lit my kitchen becomes when I am baking cookies for Christmas.

I am yearning to take a step back. I want time to be alone, but I am also wishing and waiting for certain old friends to migrate back to this city, as they do during the holidays. I miss them, and I want those comfortable friendships during the holidays. I am too tired to deal with these people who end up complicating my life instead of easing it.

But first comes finals. I am sitting here with various Anthropological terms running through my head. That is, I am writing this when I should be studying for a test. I am both very ready for this semester to be over, and slightly sad at it's passing. It went so fast... How quickly the weeks pass, and all of a sudden those days and weeks have added up to another whole year. And how quickly some people can pass through your life! Easy come, but hard to let go of all the same.

Once again I find myself praying to make it through the week. Every week I think it's going to be different, and that I won't have to send up that prayer. I always do, though. Things aren't bad, just overwhelming. As usual. I don't know that I would have it any other way... (Well, I might wave a magic wand to disspell this cold if I could.) But I suppose you have to take the good with the bad. How else is the good going to mean anything?

As a last thought, this has been floating around in my head lately, for I feel that it must be very true:

We have already had to rethink so many of our concepts of motion, we will also gradually learn to realize that that which we call destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Empty Chair

The other day, I sat alone at a table for two at the coffee shop. I spent a lot of time staring at the empty chair across from me, and I wondered what it would be like to have someone sitting there. With me. Sometimes sitting alone at a table drives me crazy. For some reason that day I didn't wish that seat was occupied. I liked the way the sun slanted over it, and I liked being quiet and on my own.

Actually, I enjoyed being alone almost all day. I like the feeling of independence you get when you're out on your own and haven't got anywhere to be. You can just go wherever, and watch other people, and think your thoughts. It's nice. I have to say that it's also nice to go somewhere because someone else promised to be there, just to see you. I need that sometimes.

Being alone isn't so bad though. I find that after a certain time, I crave it. I can feel myself turning inwards. It happens to me in the Winter. I know that this is surely a season for friends and family, but I can feel my strange inner solitude creeping up on me. The unbreakable solitude that comes from knowing that there is part of me (just as there is in everyone) that know one will ever really know. It doesn't depress me. In fact, it gives me a comfortingly un-shakable sense of identity.


November as a month was like running around with weights on my ankles. Now I feel like the weights have been taken off, and the race seems so much easier... I'm proud of what I managed last month. Like writing a novel despite all odds, and all the voices in my head that told me to give up and sleep instead. (To those who are interested, I am setting my novel aside for now. It was so hard to write, and I just need some space from it. What I might do is go back to the novel I wrote last year for NaNo. I feel that it has the most potential out of anything I've done as a result of the novel-in-a-month thing.)

What would be really marvelous is if December made me feel like there was no race at all. I would like to relax, and maybe get back to some leisure reading.

But the craziness of December is creeping up on me. Christmas is coming. The holiday music has begun to play, the stores have started to get more frighteningly crowded. We lit an Advent candle yesterday. Each year I try desperately to make Christmas as simple as it was when I was little. It gets a little more difficult each year. I still try to hold onto Christmas the way I remember it, because I think it's worth it. I try not to fall into the cynicism, and anger, and depression, and anxiety that grips some people during this time of the year. To me, Christmas is about spending time with people you love, baking them cookies, taking a time out, and lighting up those long, long nights that come as we approach the solstice. (Oh, and Jesus too.) What I'm saying is that I want Christmas to continue to mean more than stress, and commercials.

Today I had a conversation with a friend in a blustery parking lot that got me thinking about hearts. I see so much happening around me; people fighting, and loving, and trying, and wanting. Yes, there are people on the other side of the world who are suffering, but I think that if we looked a little closer to home we might realize that you don't always have to look that far to find people who are hurting. Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of that, and it makes me want to write out the truth every day of my life.

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo Update:

I won.

I'm also totally exhausted, and can't even comprehend what I just did. Greatest thanks to everyone who encouraged me this month. It made a difference.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Cage of Rib-Bones

Have you ever thought about what
Protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib-bones,
And other various parts.

Lord, I am so tired. My bones hurt. I feel entirely fragile, and I'm wondering if I'm going to make it after all. I will, I always do. I am one big package of desires, barely contained by my skeleton, and muscles, and organs. And each time I'm disappointed, I just place my dreams somewhere new, held up in innocent faith.

So it's fairly simple to cut
Right through the mess,
And stop the muscle
That makes us confess.

I haven't written my novel for two days. This is the time when I shouldn't be able to stop writing, and I am so close it seems a terrible shame to give up now. But I don't feel anything when I write this story. When I started, I thought I wanted fantasy, an escape. I realize now that what I really want to be writing is something that wildly reflects my own reality.

As it is, I'm barely managing to get through my school work. We'll see. I may rally and finish out of sheer force of will. It seems like such a shame not to finish, it truly does.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

-Ingrid Michaelson

This week shall be a week of reckoning.
At least, that's the way it feels.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ingrid Michaelson = my new favorite songstress. She makes me want to pick up a guitar and start plucking. And I don't think I've ever seen anyone make glasses look that sexy before.

That's all for now. (Back to NaNo.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Love and Turkey

Today was perfect. Just perfect.

That's all. I'm not even going to think about what I'm doing with the rest of my weekend. Just know that I am very, very thankful. And that I love my family, those who are here, and those who are miles and miles away. I have good friends as well, and I love them too.
In the face of all that, nothing else seems particularly important.

P.S. I wrote over 3,000 words today! I will finish this thing...

Tipping Point

NaNoWriMo update:

I have finally reached 30,000 words. Getting through the 20's is always a fierce challenge, and I sure felt it this year. Now that I'm over that hurdle, I hope things will be a downhill ride from here... My goal is to write 10,000 words over Thanksgiving weekend. I have the feeling that this is the tipping point, the point where I can feel that I'm going to make it to 50,000.

Whooo. Now that I'm done flexing my writerly muscles, it's time for bed. More later.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Maybe There Is Hope

It really is perfect timing that just at the moment when I was reflecting on how I hate NaNo, and how hard it is to sit down and type these words, and how tired I am, and how sick of my novel I am, and how the feeling that the whole thing is truly awful, and that it's not turning out at all how I imagined, and what really is the point of this anyway? (Because I am never going to let a soul read my novel it's so bad.) And... um where was I? Oh yeah. Well, it is perfect that just at this low point in the novel that I should read this NaNo pep talk from Neil Gaiman:

Dear NaNoWriMo Author,

By now you're probably ready to give up. You're past that first fine furious rapture when every character and idea is new and entertaining. You're not yet at the momentous downhill slide to the end, when words and images tumble out of your head sometimes faster than you can get them down on paper. You're in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone, your back hurts from all the typing, your family, friends and random email acquaintances have gone from being encouraging or at least accepting to now complaining that they never see you any more---and that even when they do you're preoccupied and no fun. You don't know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you're pretty sure that even if you finish it it won't have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began---a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read---it falls so painfully short that you're pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.

Welcome to the club.

That's how novels get written.

You write. That's the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

(I'll leave out some bits for you. But this part was my favorite)

The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I cou ld abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"

"You don't remember?"

"Not really."

"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."

I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.

I'm going to go and try to put that advice to work. Funny how easy it is to forget it. But, Neil, if you say it, it must be true. I love your books. If you go through this same process, then I have hope.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Please Disregard Everything I Have Just Said

Every time I get over some lingering illness and finally feel healthy again, I am astonished at how much energy I have and how much easier everything becomes. I think to myself: Wow, this feels amazing, is this how I was before? Life is so much nicer when you aren't tired all the time.

Today was like that. I am brave and energetic and upbeat once again. I have my car back (oh sweet relief). I also just put another pay-check in the bank. That feels good too.

However, I also did something today that totally invalidated some of my earlier statements. I called someone I was supposedly getting over. And it's funny how happy it made me.

The mind is strong but the heart is weak.
Which will win? I think I know.

Now I am engaging in my usual pre-math homework procrastination. I need to get to it, though, so that I can get to catching up on my wordcount. It seems NaNo is turning into a constant game of catch up. I can't help that ever since the month started I've been in some kind of astrological strike zone where everything goes wrong. But I still hold out a slim determination to finish. Cars, and school, and work, and boys I DON'T CARE. I will write this novel.

I also want to mention that I love Fall. It is stunning outside right now. I love the leaves changing color, and I love the sharp chill in the air after that long, muggy summer. I love drinking hot tea early in the morning, and I love baking in the cool weather and having the oven heat up the whole kitchen with good smells... You know Thanksgiving is coming? I can't wait. I am going to make so many pies. It's going to be wonderful.

What are you doing for the holiday?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Insightful Conversation

This morning, something was admitted to me by a young man of my acquaintance...

Josh: "Hey, Ivy, you know how I always flirt with Steva and never with you? Well, here's why: It's just that I know your intelligence level is, like, this much higher than mine-"
(He measures out a tall difference with his hands.)
"So, I know that if I try and hit on you, you'll just make some joke that will go right over my head and I'll be lost. Plus, you're a black belt and all..."

Me: "Are you saying that you're intimidated by me, Josh?"

Josh: "Yes, I am. You scare me."

I suppose all that reading/debate/Tae Kwon Do had some unintended consequences.
I wonder if he's not the only one...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Every day is a challenge this week. That's okay. There are days when you just scrape by. Not every day can be a party. Today was a stay-at-home day, so I has lots of time for thinking. I've been thinking, and listening to this song:

I don't want to wonder
If this is a blunder

I don't want to worry whether

We're GOING TO stay together

'Till we die

I don't want to jump in

Unless this music's thumping

All the dishes rattle in the cupboards

When the elephants arrive

I want to love you madly
I want to love you now

I want to love you madly, way

I want to love you, love you

Love you madly


I wanted to love you madly. Why didn't you let me? I wonder.
But it's too late for that now. I think you may have missed your chance with me, boy. Now I am waiting for some other mad love.

People are funny. Some of them leave me feeling let down. Others leave me in wonder and joy for the care they show me. I have lots of love already, it's true.

I am tired. BUT today I managed to reach 10,000 words of my novel. 10,000 words of sweet fiction, born of my sheer stubbornness not to lose NaNoWriMo. I've tried it twice, and won it twice. I will not fail now. Not even if I am sick, and tired, stressed, and car-less. (The last one, actually, might help with getting a novel written. Anyway.) Now I'm only about 1500 words behind. That's nothing. I think the endeavor has turned out therapeutic in many ways.

What is coming tomorrow? I don't want to know. I suppose that's just as well, because nobody knows really.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wake Me Up When Things Are Happy Again

I feel utterly defeated. And sick. Sick, sick, sick. In more ways than one.

I want my car back. But my car's engine is, well, done for. Caput. Ruined.

I drove it for less than six months.

(Insert appropriate expletive here.)

This is hard. (Don't get too upset. Ha.) I know it'll pass, but man, these past few days have really sucked. Two steps forward, three steps back. Time for some Weezer.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stuff Happens

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."
-- John Lennon

Cars break down, a test doesn't go as well as you wanted, you oversleep, miss a meeting and your boss gets mad, you-know-who still doesn't call. Then you meltdown. Then you get over it, get back up, and decide to write a novel. You notice that it was really lucky you had someone nice to help you when your car broke down, and that everything else isn't that big of a deal. Then you remind yourself to stick to your big plans, but don't get too upset when stuff happens.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finish Each Day...

I am weary of all this. All this bustle, all this doing, all this responsibility, all these emotions, all these people. I am too tired to handle anything, everything seems enormously overwhelming. I am weary, and sick, and the phrase "word debt" has already started chasing itself around my head. (How on earth did I ever write a novel in thirty days before?)
Please, can I just lie on the couch? Don't ask me anything, don't tell me what I should do. I am tired of you, and really tired of myself. I can't shake a sense of guilt, of doubt. Am I doing this right? Should I even be worried about right and wrong at all?

I am trying to focus on these words:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson.

This is all my nonsense. I am trying to make it my old nonsense. Why does it keep recurring? I will say that I am more than ready to be done with this day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Old Patterns

I go for days with nothing to write; I have nothing much to say. But in those days I am absorbing things: people, places, conversations, thoughts, events. I take all of it in and churn it around until it all comes welling up out of me again. Then I have a few days where I can't stop writing, because all this wells up inside of me and I need to get it out and look at it. Then I am exhausted, and I give it a rest. But resting means watching. The wheels are always turning.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
You fly though my head like wine...

Today was a writing day. My brain is busy, there's so much to plan, so much to dream about. I have a test this week, and another next week. I need to study. I need to decide what courses I'm taking next semester. My grandmother is coming to visit tomorrow. Soon it will be Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. I don't know what I shall do for that. A bonfire to scare away the spirits, perhaps? Did I mention I joined the film club? At least, the beginnings of a film club. NaNoWriMo begins in a few days, as well. What will I write? I'm never really sure.

Love, oh love, oh careless love
In your clutches of desire
You've made me break a many true vow
Then you set my very soul on fire.

Oh, but today was a fine day. A fine fall day. And in reference to the subject of my last post, I've decided that I should go with flow and not think about it too hard. (Too late for that!) That decision should last about three days... I'm smiling as I write that, though, because I know myself. The pattern is so reliable it becomes funny.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Night and day I weep and moan.

If you can't laugh at yourself, then what can you laugh at?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

In Love

Why, I wonder, does the search for someone to love, and be loved by, consume so many of us? There is a great a deal to life, but so much energy is focused upon on one, very specific kind of love. Some might consider it foolish even to ask. But I wonder. Especially after the bumps and bruises a heart must sustain.
My mind spins back to the same thing no matter what I do, almost as if I crave the very thinking about romance. I study, and work, and play, and have long phone conversations with friends. Still I think about it, in quiet hours when I am unoccupied.
I know it's not just me. Books, movies, music, and poetry. E-harmony, and Valentines Day, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Annoying, pitying waiters and relatives. Advice columns. We can't help it, can we? Is it really so epic as we think? I don't know, and I'm in no position to judge.
Where am I going with this? I forgot. I think I had some conclusion, but I lost it. Whatever it was. Boys are dumb? I like them too much anyway. I enjoy many of the freedoms that come from singledom? That's not a lie. But... I can't say that pair of blue eyes wouldn't convince me otherwise. There's more to life? That there is. But that doesn't make the full cure.
I've hesitated to write about the subject, for fear of appearing naive. Appear naive? I am naive. Absolutely so. But maybe that is not such a bad place to be? Because once it's gone, it's gone...

I just want you to know, I am not boy crazy. I simply write about the things that confuse me the most. This is up there on the list right now. Looking at this entry, I still can't say exactly what I want to say. But I am trying to value my thoughts simply because they are mine. I suppose I must simply be patient with myself, and life.

I HATE being patient.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It really is difficult to practice a zen attitude when the object of your desire keeps popping up right in front of you.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Moving Too Fast

I feel ill. I have pushed my body too far once again, and I am (once again) paying the price. I try to learn, but everybody needs something...

Now I am curled up in bed reading Rilke. I was advised to re-read letter #7 from Letters to a Young Poet. It was so appropriate. He gives wonderful advice, especially in times of confusion. I am confused, and I have nearly given up trying to predict things. But what I know is that these friendships I have made, old and new, are a blessing.

I know I have posted this excerpt in the past, perhaps more than once. But it something I cannot help returning to...

You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, October 18, 2007


It's raining.

I can hear it on the roof. It's a beautiful sound.

I'm praying it doesn't stop.

Rain, Where ARE You?

I just wish it would rain. I wish it would pour, and drizzle, and sprinkle, and wash away everything. I want to jump past puddles in the parking lot, to see water dripping off the leaves on the trees, to feel a dampness in the air. I want space to breathe. Everything remains so dry, the sun and heat has become as oppressive as lying under a wool blanket in the sun.

Maybe it's my own exhaustion that feeds my dissatisfaction. I feel like a robot. I keep going without thinking about it because I have to. Keep. Going. I have to get through these next few days, even though I am tired and broke. I just wish I could take a nap. (Getting out of bed this morning was a struggle of epic proportions.)

My subconscious keeps buzzing, however, about strange and uncomfortable things. I don't really know how to handle all of it, except to let some things happen as they may, and pursue others as hard as I can. Right now, though, it's time to focus on the next step forward.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Missing and Misplaced

Today was a day of missed things. Missed people, missed expectations. I didn't miss any calls, because none came; I waited all day, but nothing. However, I can't help wondering if (perhaps) I would be dissatisfied regardless.

I must stop this longing. It does me no good.

Having someone mad at you doesn't make things easy either. Even if you are not in the wrong.

Oh, I wish I had some profound thought to hold onto. But nothing comes to mind.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thank You, Anthropology

Who knew that an Anthropology lecture could trigger such an epiphany as I received today? As the teacher was talking about the laws and social rules that bind our behavior, he made the point that all of this works only because we think it works. We buy into it.

Then I realized that there are people who drive me nuts only because I buy into their whole deal. Then I stopped buying into it, because really it's not what I want.

That was a nice realization. Although, I'm sure I'll be grappling with it all over again soon. Just because I'm like that.

Still. It was a valuable day, if frustrating.

On a totally different note:
It's funny how people can walk into your life and make you see things all anew. I've had someone do that recently... I feel inspired. There's no other word for it. I've started writing heavily again, just because there's so much more there to write about now. Before it was simply my frustration and loneliness. Now, I feel so alive. I'm realizing how much there is out there, how much there is for me to see and do yet. And how much there is for me in places I didn't anticipate.
It's rather thrilling.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Today I was bold. And I am proud of myself. There is so much I need to do, but right now I am so happy.

It feels good to be alive.

Get into the car
We'll be the passenger
We'll ride through the city tonight
We'll see the city's ripped backsides
We'll see the bright and hollow sky
We'll see the stars that shine so bright
Stars made for us tonight
-Iggy Pop

Could You, Would You?

I'm so tired. Last night was restless. I finished my paper around midnight. Then I wrote in my outragousley pink new journal, hoping to get some of the swirl of thoughts on paper and out of my head. I can't say that it was totally effective; I was plauged by strange dreams all night, dreams I can only half-remember now.

I think part of the reason I feel frustrated is that I have this idea of how things are supposed to be. But last night I realized that maybe I've just got it all wrong, and this is exactly how it's supposed to be... and that maybe I should just give myself over to it.

Fall break is coming up. I must make plans. Otherwise I'm just a loser, right?

Friday, October 5, 2007


I am watching the leaves begin to change, but the weather remains hot. This Indian Summer is playing with me. It's leaving me confused.
Today it rained while the sun was shining. I looked out the window and saw blue skies on one side, and gray on the other. And it poured. I can't remember the last time it rained that hard. I went outside just to feel it. I had forgotten the sound rain makes on the trees. It sounded so lush after the quiet, dry spell of the past few months. In the end the rain didn't last long, but it was beautiful while it did.

I've been desiring a new journal; one with fresh pages, absent of old memories. I brought out an old one to finish, but I couldn't bring myself to write in it. I want a fresh start.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Being Alive

Life is never easy, is it? My desires are thwarted and tangled, and I don't know how to seperate myself from them. Every day I walk around in my head, analyzing, and debating, and worrying. Why should I, when I could be watching? Being alive is so beautiful. I realize that every time I wake up in the morning and see the sky. But it's not easy. No, no, no.
I try to say yes, yes, yes to it all. To participate joyfully in the craziness, and ambiguity, and hardship, as well as the kindness and laughter. I am here, and that is enough. I want to walk around with my eyes wide open. I don't want to miss anything because I'm afraid of getting hurt.

I so often fall short of that goal that I sometimes forget about it completely. I end up wanting to know what's going to happen next. But really, that would be boring, wouldn't it?

I am off to face the world again.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Roman Candles

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
-Jack Kerouac

I am mightily confused. Why can't people be more straightforward? I suppose when one is afraid of rejection, an awkward dance is inevitable...
Intermediaries help.
But what is my next move?
It's hard to decide when you aren't exactly sure what you're dealing with.
This feels so middle-school.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dreams v. Reality

I think I'll go home and mull this over
Before I cram it down my throat

At long last it's crashed, the colossal mass

Has broken up into bits in my moat.

So, I finally started listening to The Shins. And... Now I can't stop. The melodies and lyrics simply make me marvel.

Lift the mattress off the floor
Walk the cramps off

Go meander in the cold

Hail to your dark skin

Hiding the fact you're dead again

Underneath the power lines seeking shade

Far above our heads are the icy heights that contain all reason

How does music feel so real? I love when you come across an album that seems to speak right through to what you're feeling at the moment. Music that expresses things you didn't think could be expressed, and melts into the edges of your day, easing the sharp corners.

It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
That let us bet when you know we should fold

On rocks I dreamt of where we'd stepped

And the whole mess of roads we're now on.

I feel like I'm walking through a dream, forcing myself to get things done. But I can't stop slipping into daydreams. They keep me going.

Hold your glass up, hold it in
Never betray the way you've always known it is.
One day I'll be wondering how
I got so old just wondering how

I never got cold wearing nothing in the snow.

Caring Is Creepy -- The Shins

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Say You Love Me

I am feeling very mixed. There's so many things... I don't know what to say, or where to start. There are so many tenuous, new connections flying about. A smile, a laugh, an understanding nod. I want to hold onto these things. I want them to become friendships. I need this camaraderie; it fills gaps that were there before. I don't like being alone.

It seems I go around wanting things most of the time. Right now, I want the weather to change, and a long hug. I also want to make it through tomorrow. There are a few other things, but I cannot articulate them, even to myself.

Meanwhile, the scarf I knit grows in inches, giving movement for my worried fingers.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Just Listen To The Music

In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.
- Fran Lebowitz

There are imaginary numbers. Can you imagine? As if real ones aren't troublesome enough. Words are tricky tonight, which is bad when one is trying to finish an English paper. But I do love the life of a student. I wouldn't have things any other way.

BUT one thing I would change is the weather. Why does it have to get hot again after is was so tantalizingly cool? It makes the heat seem that much more oppressive. It's all right when you can't remember what it feels like without 90% humidity level, but this is just torture.

I don't know if I've simply worn my body out, or if my campaign of germophobe-like hand-santizing behavior has been ineffective, or if it's the rapid temperature changes, but my sinuses are definitely not well.

But hooray for new shoes and finding the perfect birthday present for my brother.

Music is excellent for injecting a false sense of alertness. Current selection: Ice Cream (Metal on Metal Remix), by the New Young Pony Club. Hooray too for free music downloads (totally legit, I swear).

Oy vey. Please let me make it through.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Midweek Musings

When I stop to think about it, I am shocked at how different my life is from a year ago. Everything seems to fit better now... Even when I get stressed, most days are so much more interesting.

When I was walking into school yesterday in the cool weather, I suddenly thought: It's time to knit something. This happens every year when the weather turns to fall. Maybe I'll finally finish the sweater I started three years ago. Maybe I'll just knit a new scarf.

Boys are goofy. But I like them.

I think I may enjoy getting presents for other people even more than receiving them. I bought my younger brother a birthday present today and it made me happy because it's such a perfect gift. I can't wait to give it to him.

Independently owned coffee shops are soooo much better than Starbucks, or Caribou. And do you really call men baristas? Because that is so stupid I can't even say it. How about "guy who makes really good coffee."

I have to clean my room because my Grandma is coming to visit. I am procrastinating.

I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to get through this weekend, but I am sure I'm going to have fun doing it.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Who Needs Free Drinks?

Today was exceptional for a Monday. So exceptionally nice, that I have to write it down so I can remember it.
First of all, the weather was perfect. Overnight all the humidity seems to have left the air. The morning was crisp, the air was clear, the breeze was cool, and the sun was warm. Perfect. In between classes I layed outside on a bench in the sun, and chatted with a pair of guys about vinegar potato chips, pop, and the weather in Chicago.
Also, when I expressed the desire for a Twix bar during the break in our three-hour English class, a boy bought me one. It was like the vending machine equivalent of not having to buy your own drink when you go out to a bar or something...
Then I went to the bank and deposited a larger-than-usual check and drove home with all the windows down and the stereo just as loud as I wanted.

And I got a 97 on my English paper. Score.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Can I Prevent This Overload?

I've had a lot on my mind lately. Now, here's what I have to say:


Friday, September 14, 2007


Sometimes I realize that I am too negative. I am especially negative early in the morning after I have just woken up. That is a bad time to propose anything to me, for I will grumble about anything. But once I force myself to do whatever it it, it blows away all my expectations and turns out really... positive.

That happened this morning. I think it possible that God was chastising me. Maybe I am not used to things going this well or being this enjoyable, but I have resolved to try not to judge things before I even start them.
We'll see how long that lasts, shall we?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I Am Not In Charge

My brain won't focus. I had a the kind of day that leaves you with a happy, but spinning brain. Memories from earlier keep popping into my head. This happened and that happened, this person said that.
Then my brain analyzes everything: that was good, will it happen again? Was that too embarrassing, or should I not worry about it? What should I think about this? And then it skips to my mental "to do" list. Homework, laundry, don't forget to call so-and-so, and don't forget to return that DVD to the video rental again, because it's probably overdue by now.
Then my brain moves forward in time and speculates. It projects and fantasizes. Will that go well? What will happen with this person here? What if? What if.
I wish I had better control over my mind. It leaps from one thing to the next and back. Right now is shuffling from one thing to the next, like a poorly trained dog sniffing out all kinds of fascinating scents. All the while the owner is dragged along while pulling ineffectively on the leash.
Homework is rendered very difficult by all this.