Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Road Goes Ever On and On

On the last day of the year, I am compelled to read through my blog posts from the year that is coming to a close. I can't help it. I guess I feel that this blog is, if nothing else, a record for myself... a mark left to remind me of what I thought and felt, of the slow rotation of the seasons, of the changes in my life. It is good, when I feel that the year has gone by too quickly to remind myself of how much I managed to fit into that year. If I can't make time slow down, then I may as well fill it up to the brim with living...
I think I did that this year. I worked hard, and I made some leaps. Last January I was overwhelmed and anxious. I seem to enter every new year with a certain amount of anxiety. At least I have since about fourteen or so. I always wonder if I will be enough, if I will be able to take the challenges in front of me. I wanted some things so badly and wasn't really sure they would happen. They did. They did in measures I did not expect. I found a lot of love in a lot of places this year. I found a sweetheart (or maybe he found me) who, for whatever reason, still hangs around me. I found a school, a school that I love dearly, a school that fits just right. I found out once again how much my family loves me, enough to let me go away. I found new friendships, friendships that helped me though a scary first semester. I found an increased sense of passion and love for what I am studying. I am hopelessly and irretrievably an English major at this point. It was a full year, a challenging year.
However, I am learning that to be challenged is the only way to live... I am entering this new year with less anxiety than usual. Partly because so much good has come to me, and I have so much to look forward to. With that I have grown a nagging fear of losing what I have gained. Are things too good? I don't know. What I do know, and what keeps me going, is that whatever comes, whatever happens, I will deal with it. I will learn, just as I have in the past. I think that is what I have learned this past year. I do not expect everything to be easy, but that is a good thing. I have decided that I am going to live what I have and love it while I have it. What else is there to do?

Life rolls on and I am just trying to keep up. It is my wish that each of you has had a full year, brimming up with all that living. It is also my wish that next year is full up too, good and bad, come what may. We will take it all as it comes.

Happy New Year.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
- J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, December 18, 2008


So. Christmas is a mere week away. This sudden awareness shocked me, sent me into a veritable tizzy. Christmas, really? Usually I have so much time to prepare mentally, usually the expectation grows as the weeks draw towards the holiday. This year, however, I have been monumentally distracted. So much so that Christmas has sprung itself upon me without warning.

It is hard not to be unnerved.

You see, if Christmas is coming, then so is the New Year... that one, arbitrary day that sends me into weeks of retroflection. I will not go there quite yet, though. No, right now I am trying to hold onto my Christmas before it's over and done with.

I have always tried to make Christmas a time apart, ever since I started to get older and Christmas started to lose some of it's innocence (you know you're growing up when you suddenly realize that Santa doesn't exist and all along it's been your father leaving those presents under the tree). Still, I try. I try not to get distracted, I try to pay attention to those things I hold dear. I try to slow down just a little. I don't want Christmas to morph into that stressful thing that only needs to be dealt with so our lives can resume along normal patterns. I want it to stay at least a little bit magical.

That becomes more difficult this year, I think. It is good to be home. I needed to come home and see the little smile my mother gives me when I wander into the kitchen. I needed to sit and talk with the people I've missed. I needed to hear my father make yet another lame Christmas joke. I really needed to sleep in... However, this year has been one of such massive shifts that I still feel dizzy and discombobulated. Sometimes I don't know how to act, or what to think. The dust, it seems, is still settling on a lot of things. This is also my first Christmas after moving out (for the most part). I dream of the way to used to be, only when I come home it feel like trying to squeeze myself back into a life that doesn't fit anymore. I sleep in a room that isn't mine anymore, and I realize that my family has kept moving and will keep moving whether or not I am there. Just as I've kept moving. And I will spend the next couple of years bouncing back and forth between the two. School to home, home to school. I feel displaced, as if I'm in some kind of limbo. Most days, I don't think about it. Most days, my sense of identity and passion for what I'm doing is enough to make me feel stable. In some ways realizing this makes me incredibly sad, and in other ways, incredibly excited and hopeful...

However, I think Christmas might soothe rather than compound these feelings. That is what I am trying for, anyway. I am trying to relax, and enjoy what I have. Which is a lot, if I think about it. Really, I am a very lucky girl.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looking Back

My life is so very different from a year ago. Yet, I was thinking today that there are some things that do not seem to change very much. I was reading a post of mine from nearly a year ago and thinking about how much of what I wrote still applies to me... What started me off on that was the sky. Today, the sky had a very wintry quality, hard and clear with the sharp outlines of the trees against the pale blue. I wanted to write about how much I love the winter sky, and I little bell in the back of my mind told me that was something I had written about before. It turns out I had.

As I was reading that, however, I found myself recognizing much more than the bit about the sky. I found that the feelings of that post are feeling that come around every year at this time. Once again I find myself yearning for my old friends, only this year I am the migratory bird, going back home... Yet, I know when I fly back I am going to miss all the birds here. I am starting to yearn for the peace I try to continue to conjure during the holidays. And that quote from Mr. Rilke... oh my. It seems even more relevant now than it did before.

Such are my backward thoughts. And now, my dear readers, I must return to what I should I am supposed to be doing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I feel raw and exposed, as if my skin has been peeled back to show every nerve. I cannot seem to get this ache in my back and shoulders to go away. I want to be done, to have these demands taken away. I want the members of my presentation group to stop standing me up every time we agree to meet. I have volleyed tonight between crying, and laughing, and sitting in a chair while I listen to people tell me about what they did with their lives, and how I should definitely be thinking about what I want to do with my life, and there are SO many OPTIONS for an English major like me.

I believe, like those people I listened to tonight, in the power of words, and the power of what happens in classroom. I understand that my path can, and probably will be, very twisted. However, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed thinking that far ahead. I just don't know what I want to do... And I don't want to think about it right now. I can barely handle thinking ahead to next week.

My friends give my great joy, however. It makes me feel good when Jenni comes in and asks about my day, and then kindly gets me tissues. I like dancing to Korean pop music in front of the library with Kacey. I smile every time Alice comes in and flops on my bed, and asks if I want to go out on a date tonight. Oh, I am getting by, Getting by, getting by. November is always a challenge anyway. It felt like November today. It was cold and sharp, and the sky couldn't quite decide what it wanted to do. Cloudy? Clear? Who knows.

And that is all I have to say about that.


Alice: Ivy, are you blogging?
Me: Yes.
Alice: Can you blog about my butt?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

I am at a loss for words. My throat is hurts from screaming and chanting. I was just part of a giant mob of students, something that felt like the whole student body, as we marched across campus and into the street. We invaded the Harris Teeter parking lot. We stopped traffic. We made so much noise... screaming and chanting and drumming and hugging. I can tell you this: Guilford is VERY excited over our man Obama right now. There will be no sleep tonight.

I am just so grateful to have been a part of this. I didn't get pictures, but this moment is something I will always remember. I feel redeemed. Yes, times have been hard. But this gives me back just a little faith, I think... Cynicism seems completely out of place right now. Yes. I am very happy.

And I am so happy to have a president I actually enjoy listening to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Onion Layers

I suppose I am going down to one post a month. That is unfortunate. It's not intentional. It's only that, as a my studies pile up, I feel guilty writing anything that will not get turned in and graded.
I forget, you see, that I need to be able to write things, now and then at least, that will not be graded. Something for which there is no deadline, no pressure, and perhaps not even any logic.

I am so tired today. I am so afraid of going out of my depth, so afraid that I will fail, so afraid of making the wrong decision. I want to be left alone, for people to stop asking me to do things.
But I know that these pains are only growing pains. I am learning so much, about school and friends and writing and..... and, and, and. I don't feel like a grown up, but I am learning to act like one. I think. At any rate, I am becoming more and more familiar with the word "responsibility."

There anxiety is in the air... I feel a low, intense anxiety that has been mounting over the election. I couldn't breath for a minute today when I realized how soon judgment would finally be passed on who will be the next president. I never felt this emotionally or intellectually invested in an election before. Registration has also added another layer of stressful frenzy as we all try and decide what to take, and compete to get into classes of limited capacity. Not only that, this is crunch time. The tough last push of the semester for all of us, students and teachers I think.

Today I watched a group of children from my window (as some children do inexplicably show up on campus now and then). They were with a man who was helping then rake a fantastic leaf pile right in front of my dorm. Through the open window I could hear their shouts of delight and exuberance, and the rustle of leaves. One little boy was practically dancing around the leaf pile in his excitement. I was absolutely mesmerized by this scene, sitting at my desk where I had been trying to cram in last minute facts for my Biology test. More than anything I wanted to be down there too, laughing and demanding for my turn to jump. I was jealous of their abandon, and the intensity with which they loved that leaf pile. It was, for that moment, everything to them.

I do not have very many moments anymore that are simple and focused. I get them, little moments of pleasure when I am joking with a friend, or perhaps cooking a meal for myself here and there. But layers of complexity generally permeate my life these days. It feels like a gift and a curse, sometimes. There is such a burden, sometimes, in seeing so many different sides to things, and in feeling so many different emotions. However, I find there are some subliminal moments in realizing the complexity of something. The light bulb goes off, and I realize there is so much more to all this than I realize. Complexity keeps things interesting, keeps me on my toes. I think that is really what I am learning, and I think that is what is really so painful. When I peel back one layer to see what is underneath, another one awaits. Just like an onion. And yes, sometimes it makes me cry. At this point, though, I can't stop.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eternal Afternoon

There are afternoons when time seems to stand still. Perhaps, rather, there are afternoons where time does not seem to matter. Seeing the sun through dying leaves of gold and green, the branches perfectly outlined against the deep blue of an autumn sky... that is when the whole world seems to be moving past you. It has been more unsettling that I thought, coming home. However, the chance to sit quietly outside in good, sweet company for an afternoon was worth every other minute of the past few days.

It feels good to slow down now and then, just because time runs by so fast. I believe in hard work, I do. I have been working harder lately than I have in a long time. Space to breathe, though, is essential. Thank goodness for fall break. It has given me time to rest up, pull myself together, and get my dry cleaning done.

Funny thing is that home isn't quite what I thought. No; it isn't quite what I remember. It is still home for certain, and it feels good to see my family. Things have changed, though. Of course. I am realizing that I will never live here the way I did before. I'll always have one foot outside the door. That has been the trajectory of my life these past years, but it does feel a bit odd to experience it for the first time. I woke up in my childhood bedroom after the first night back and thought to myself, "This isn't really my room anymore. And this is how it's going to be from now on..."

So, time goes on, quite unaffected by my attempts to assimilate what's happening. I only know that I treasure those moments that seem to make time recede into the background. A warm fall afternoon will do that without fail.

So please, go sit out under a tree if you can.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I think I can safely declare that the autumnal chill in the air has truly set in. It feels good. I love fall, I really do. I takes me by surprise every year. Then again, so does spring. I suppose the changing of the season is something that wakes you up a bit, makes you pay attention.
Other things I love:

My professors. Today I got an assignment back with the comment, "You rock like a very rocking thing." That made me laugh.

My guitar. I'm really no good, but when I sit by myself and play, I start to breathe differently, deeper, more relaxed. I need that.

Capoeira. Probably one of the most pretty martial arts around. Hopefully I'll be able to learn enough so that I look nice doing it too.

Being an English major. Seriously. I love it. Even when it's really, really hard. I am realizing that in includes all the things I love: reading, writing, AND arguing.

I'm pushing myself further than I ever have before. Yet, somehow, every time I think I can't go on, I manage. Perhaps it turns out that I am more capable than I thought. Often, a reprieve is granted. So. Life goes on.

(I still can't wait for fall break!)

Friday, September 19, 2008


There is a wonderful sweetness about the first crisping days of fall. Waking up to feel that cool edge in the air feels like waking up for the first time in years, free from the sleepy, dragging haze of humidity that pervades the summer. Everything seems clearer, sharper. The sky seems bluer. I love fall with all my soul. It makes me feel peaceful even when I'm trudging across campus with my five pound Biology textbook stuffed into my backpack. I'm not sure yet that I trust this sudden change in the air - I feel certain that it is a teasing trick of mother nature, something she will take back soon. Return us to summer to wait a few more long, aching weeks. Oh, but what sheer pleasure it is to feel. I am already anticipating the leaves dressing themselves up in their fall best... such vibrant death. Perhaps that is another thing I like about fall; the beauty is wistful and slightly mournful, yet it is such a rich season. I like living in that paradox.

I realized today that I know I am headlong back into school when the essentials of my life seem to be contained within my backpack and it starts to feel like another limb. My friend down the hall commented the other night that whenever she comes into my room I have a Word document open. "That is because Word documents are my life right now," I said to her.

It's okay. If I really hated it, I wouldn't be here.

Word documents are not truly the end all be all of my existence. There is much more to be said. I will say that I love professors. I love being around them, they're all so smart and interesting, and (here at this little school of mine,) they are always around. I will also say that there are moments, here and there, when I get to catch a breath. Mostly it feels like I don't have a moment to spare, but then there will be a small, blessed space of free time. They seem even sweeter because they are so rare, and because I work so hard for them.

Now, back to my Word document.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Saw God On A Mountain

I think I left a little bit of my heart there, up in those mountains. This past Saturday, on the whim of a new friend, we took off for the Blue Ridge mountains. I love North Carolina so much; I love that at almost any time you can pick up and head over to the mountains or the ocean. At any rate, she and I got delightfully lost along the way, and ended up winding our way through the mountains. We ended up at last on the top of Grandfather Mountain, sweaty and tired but triumphant.
As I stood on that peak I was exhausted and much more afraid of heights than I formerly realized. Yet, through the fear pounding in my chest there was a sense of absolute awe. Funny, isn't it, how often those two go together? It makes me think of God; fear and awe has been mankind's reaction to God for time immemorial. It made my heart hurt to look at those views, they were just that beautiful. It is good to have something like that strike you to the soul once and a while, and I was struck. It was so high, so beyond all that I had been struggling with, and the air was so clean. And what better a place to find God than on a mountain?

Now I am back down on the Piedmont, back on the flat land, back among the muddle and the mundane. I feel as if I am trying much harder to balance down here than I was up on that mountain peak. I am learning, bit by bit. Some hard choices were made, and clouds blew over. However, there still never seems to be enough hours in the day. I miss that mountain more that I thought I could, yet I know I cannot stay there. There is so much down here: good, bad, and in between. But this is where things happen, down here things move and breathe. This is where life happens. As painful as it can be to be in the middle of so much living and breathing and laughing and crying and learning... Well, I know God is down here too, somewhere.

I saw God on a mountain
Tearing at the sky,
I saw God on a mountain
With tears in his eyes.
He said Son, I used to know
Where I put things,
I used to know.
I could have shown all the beauty in the world,
But I need you to show me.
-Ben Sollee

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rainstorms Revisited

I thought that I was finished with that last topic: rainstorms. I had covered it, learned from it, moved on. Now I find myself revisiting those storms, perhaps even more painfully this time.

The view from my window is clouded. The winding brick walkways are dark, shiny and wet. The trees hover mournfully under the damp sky. I want to go to bed, I want to go home, I want to feel back in control. The past few days I have been careening this way and that, making mistakes, falling behind, breaking down. The downpour has seeped its way into my life, the floodgates crashing open leaving me floundering under the pressure. There is so much to do, so many things to remember. And that's just classes. The there are the people; people everywhere, always doing something, wanting something, telling you something. It is hard to separate yourself from all those people. It's even harder to let go of the "shoulds." My mother, my reliable source of practical wisdom, pointed out that I have too many "shoulds." I know she is right. Yet, being me, I turn that into another should.

I have the vague idea that I am in the middle of one giant, painful learning curve. I also have the vague idea that this is good for me. I just want to feel less crazy. That's all.

I have no neat conclusions today. No good note to wrap up with. Today, however, I received a long hug from a complete stranger. It actually made me feel a little better. I think we should have more hugs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thoughts On Rainstorms

I do know where rain comes from. I understand the the two-day downpour we were subjected to started perhaps with mere changes of temperatures out on the ocean, a clash of winds that end up spinning themselves together and moving across the water and towards land according to the sheer whim of mother nature. There was no intent behind the rain, it was totally indifferent to where it was dumped. All the same, it is hard sometimes not to feel that God must be trying to wipe us all out again, no matter what promises were made. it rained and it rained so much I could hardly believe it. It felt endless and damp, very damp, no matter where you went.
And yet, rain always clears eventually. Storm clouds cannot linger indefinitely. We were graced once again by the return of the sun this afternoon, and the blanket of humidity has rolled back over us. I like rain, but the most reassuring part of a rainstorm is when it finally clears.

I believe that this applies to both physical and metaphorical storms. I strikes me how sometimes both of them intersect, for today I feel as if more than one kind of cloud has been blown away. It is so very reassuring, particularly because the good weather never lasts. So, it is good to know that the bad weather never lasts either. It is very easy to get overwhelmed, and the words "responsibility," and "time management," and "homework" keep swimming 'round my head. There are plenty of things to pull you in so many different directions here, which is perhaps the difficulty of this much freedom and opportunity. One has to keep in mind that sleeping and eating are necessary to keep functioning. Balance is a very precious thing that I am chasing down, trying to stay sane... I want to make the most of this, not to let time slip away between the lists, and the meetings, and assignments. I want to know people, to sit around on the grass, learn how to play guitar, and write, write, write, not for any assignment but because I want to. It is a delicate balancing act, but I have always been afraid of falling off the tightrope wire. Sometimes I wonder if it would be as bad as I fear...

I am listening to the Shins for the first time in months and it is bringing up such visceral memories of last year. The memories, (vivid snippets of the places I used to go, the people I used to see, the way I used to feel) are so strong it makes me regard with wonder how I got from there to here. The past still seems so present and near, how can I have moved along so quickly? How can things be so different than they were? I think that I am also realizing in what ways I am different, and the same, and how much growing up I still have left to do.

However philosophical and reminiscent I get, though, things still happen one day at a time. One day at a time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fear of Drowning

So ends the first day of classes: me sitting in my room, trying desperately to interest myself in the minty new, five pound Biology textbook in front of me. I try reading with a highlighter in hand, an attempt to focus on key phrases, not to skim idly over the words. I make lists, obsessive lists. Lists of assignments, lists of things to buy, lists of things I forgot and need to ask my mother to send me... Lists make me feel better. The beginning of the semester is exciting and a little terrifying. The same old insecurities arise when you read over the syllabus, listen to the grading and attendance policies, take a gander at all the work you'll be expected to do over the coming weeks. Weeks that will fly by faster than you can bat an eye. Can I handle this? Am I smart enough? Will I be able to work past that stopped-up, shy throat to speak my mind in front of all these people? (Something I wonder if I will ever truly conquer). How hard will this be, really? All questions that dog the mind as you meander from destination to destination and scribble out lists. Yet these doubts are the flip side of my desire to succeed. It is a fear of drowning that makes me swim so hard.

Yet... life is more than lists. Life is sitting in the sun reading a poem you don't understand; life is listening to the happy chatter of the girls down the hall; it is listening to the poetry and soul of the people around you. It's sort of magical and inspiring and intimidating. I think, "Who the hell am I? What have I done?" Then it occurs to me that I could just as easily ask myself, "Who do I want to be?"

I can't decide if I like being with people who are just beginning to know me. It's a little exciting to present yourself to people who do not have preconceived notions about you. On the other hand, I miss the trust and confidences of the people who know me so well... people who I know already accept me implicitly. I try to come back around to my own sense of identity and faith in myself. Don't compare your insides to other people's outsides, I tell myself.

Who do I want to be? I want to be me and not worry about being whoever that is.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Here I Am

Well, here I am. On campus, at school, moved out, moved in, and all that jazz.

I am trying to sort through the past few days. I'm having trouble because there is more than I feel able to process at this time. It is much easier just to go along and not think about it. I know I have to hit the highlights for all those who are waiting for some news of me, and my general well-being.

I am well. I love my room, have a very personable roommate, and a nice quiet hall (so far). I have had more orientation activities thrown at me than I know what to do with. So many things, so many issues, so many details to settle. It's nutty, I feel so overwhelmed with information. And people! Lordy Lou, I have met more people in the past few days than I know how to keep track of. I have already made some fast friends, (wonderful, wonderful people...). I love orientation weekend, though, because everywhere you go all you hear is, "Hi, what's your name? Where are you from? I'm so-and-so..." It's really beautiful and exciting.

Lastly, the view from my window is perfect. The campus is so beautiful and I can hardly believe that I am lucky enough to live somewhere so beautiful.

It still feels a little surreal to be here, and to be on my own. It feels so right, though. I feel as though I've stepped into the life I've been waiting for and that was waiting for me. There is no doubt in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be right now.

Now I can't wait for classes to start...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Right Thing

I think it is funny, funny, funny that I write that I am in love when (many months ago) I wrote something about the state of being In Love. Mostly it is funny to read that, to look at my helpless wondering, my not-knowing. Even funnier to realize that I am up to here in exactly what I was wondering about, and I still don't have a clue.

But I would like to talk about a different love affair. I've mentioned it before, I think. This very blog is one giant testament to it, in fact.

Yes, it is the written word.

Now, I may be rehashing a point that I have already made, but I always come back around to it. Always. Writing and studying the writing of others continues to challenge, inspire, and comfort me. Writing is therapeutic, it is what I turn to in times on confusion and distress... And yet it fulfills much more. Writing strikes the deepest chord for me, it is the lens through which I see life. It shows me truth in it's most honest, poetic, and sometimes brutal form. I believe absolutely in the power of the written word to change peoples' lives. Writing and reading leads me to understanding, even if it is to understand how little I really know. I do know that I will unquestionably, unwaveringly love words (and putting them together just right) for the rest of my life. In the midst of uncertainty over the future and those half-joking, half-serious remarks about the relative (non)usefulness of an English degree, my love of writing is still the most driving certainty in my life right now. I want to write and I want to study the writing of the greats. So, I see no other alternative than to act on it. That is exactly what I am off to do at this beautiful new college of mine, and it is right. They say that the right thing is not always the easiest thing. I am feeling that right now. This is not easy, none of this is very easy. It is, however, right. Whatever comes with it, whatever comes next, (the good, the bad, and the ugly) well...

I will write about it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Bottled Up

Here I am, in front of the computer when I should be tucked up in bed and fast asleep. Sleep eludes me, I'm afraid. I feel like I could cry, not out of sadness, but simply to release some of this emotion that has built up in my chest. I can feel it there, straining against my ribcage, an unnameable mix of emotions that has been layering itself up these past days. In seems as if I can hardly contain all of it, and at this moment I wish that I could temporarily banish every last thought in my head, just for some peace.
Anticipation and excitement are reaching near torturous levels. I feel that I am playing the same waiting game that every child goes through in the weeks before Christmas. At the same time, those emotions are accompanied by the same anxiety one gets when planning for a long trip; do I have everything I need? Have I done everything I need to do before I leave? There is too much to do. I am plagued by a desperate need to see and feel as much of my old life as I can before I have to leave it behind. I want to be with my family, my friends, my sweetheart, even the kids at Tae Kwon Do - I don't even work there anymore, and yet I want another afternoon with them. I don't even know how to fit it all in, I don't want to pass up anything even though I am bone tired. And even though the future is so bright and full of promise, I can't banish the small edge of sorrow that comes with realizing how things have to change, and how quickly time goes.
I am suspended in an odd limbo between old and new and I don't know what to do with myself. I manage periods of distraction but I always come back around to these feeling that have packed themselves into my body. They make me feel overwhelmed and a little helpless because all I can do is wait for things to clear, to settle just a little bit. In the meantime, I try to keep moving. At night, though, when I stop moving, that is when things catch up to me.
I might also add, that on top of all that, (and I am not entirely sure I should admit this here but...) I am so in love I can hardly think straight. And I think, God, summer is so beautiful.

So, that is where I am: tired, overwhelmed and emotionally needy. I did not anticipate this, but perhaps I should have. Any words of wisdom (or a story of a similiar transition or whatever you might have to share) would fall on welcome ears. It might make this post feel like more than just the self-absorbed rantings of an anxious college student.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Place Like Home

Well, I'm home.

Home at last. I landed in Charlotte late Monday night, after hours of sitting at airport gates and waiting for the moment I would be on home soil again. It was a joy to see the warm orange glow of the city below me, I must say. Coming home, I felt like Dorothy just back from Oz; it was a magical trip but there's no place like home.

Admittedly, coming home has been a slightly rougher transition than I had anticipated. It doesn't quite feel real yet, and I don't know how to act. Almost as soon as my feet hit the ground, I was plagued by the dizzying list of things I need to do between now and August 13th (aka moving day). My room is a mess, my clothes are still in my suitcase, everything I've bought for my dorm is piled up in room and I don't know what to do with it. I have phone calls to make, doctors appointments to set, checks to deposit, thank you notes to write, and so much cleaning to do. I don't know where to start, and really I'd just like my brain to leave me alone for maybe a day or two so I can recuperate all the energy lost in travel. I am so very tired.

As it is, though, I'm already having anxiety dreams about school starting again.

However, I also have to sat what a sweet relief to see those loved ones I left behind whilst gallivanting across the Midwest. I am trying very hard not to think that I am leaving them again in a few short weeks. I am not going quite so far this time, though, and that's something. It is very, very good to have these people to come back to.

And I think I shall end right there. That is a good note to end on.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mid-Travel Musings

Exhaustion is clouding my thoughts tonight (same as many of the past few nights), and I don't precisely know what I want to say. Only that the itch to write (which has been building over the past few days) has come over me, and will not be denied.

I am in Chicago. Again. It is very beautiful here, and there is so much to see and hear and feel. Once again the thought has passed through my brain that I might like to move here some day, just to get to know the city a little better. I have only been allowed snippets so far, but I love them. I grew up so far from the city that everything here fascinates me; the buildings, the cars, the people. The landscape pulses. Life in a house surrounded by woods and fields has a quiet richness that I will always love, but I am beguiled here.

I do love to travel. I love the newness of each thing, the unfamiliarity of a place, fresh experiences. I love being able to see family that I am so far away from most of the year. I will admit, however, that on a tired night I start to yearn for home. My bed, my roads, my places, my family, my sweetie. I feel the absence of these things more acutely the older I get. Yet in a few short weeks I must move and make a new place mine. I will have a new bed, new roads, new places. Fortunately I get to keep my people, even though I'll be adding new ones. At the moment college both excites and terrifies me, which is as it should be, I suppose. I got my room assignment today, and the name of my future roommate. Now that I finally have a name, I wonder what she is like. Does she have siblings? Is the the oldest? Youngest? Middle? What food does she hate? What does she love? What is her major? Will she be funny/kind/ambitious/sweet/annoying/thoughtful/gregarious/shy/silly/serious/crazy/wonderful...?

And I wonder if she is wondering the same things about me.

But all that comes later. Right now I think it is time to close my eyes, even though my fingers want to keep moving. I am very happy, and very tired, and I miss my home, and I love Chicago. 
Tomorrow I meet BAM!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


It fascinates me how memories can layer over a place, so that when you look at it you see not only the present, but so many other past moments that have built up over time and memory. Every summer when I return to my grandparents house it's that way - the same at their cottage by the lake, where so many summer weekends have been spent over the years. The cottage is especially strong that way, even though I only go there perhaps once a year. However, each time I go back it is miraculously unchanged: the place where time stands still. Memories have built up in that cottage, with it's thin walls, creaky floors, musty furniture, and leaky shower. I love that place inordinately, and golden memories of staying up late on the porch, going on long boat rides, and swimming in the lake with the sunshine pushing down on you like a living thing are all in front of my eyes when I go back there. I did all those same things this past weekend, added a few fresh memories; such as swimming in a freezing pool at ten o'clock at night, coloring and calling each other names, watching my grandparent's toy poodle swim frantically about in her life jacket, and watching two drunk men stumble out of the family restaurant laughing hysterically.
All in all, a marvelous weekend.

I am now dead tired from all that swimming and boating and long walks around the lake. When I am tired enough, and when I slow down enough, something cracks my shell of distraction. Suddenly, everything around me from the water, to the fireflies, to the young boys loitering on their bikes in the gas station parking lot, to the sun setting over the highway... it all seems achingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful. I am feeling the split in my heart that I mentioned earlier very painfully, I have to admit, but even that seems beautiful to me now. I love my family so dearly, and these precious, short times we get. I feel a little melancholy whenever we leave the lake, and close up the cottage. It feels like more than it is, it feels like the evanescence of our days all packed up into one small ritual: cover the furniture, clear out the fridge, lock the doors and windows. The weekend is over.

Better to have had it than not, though. I will always believe that.


My vacation here is going well. Soon I will be in Cleveland, with that half of the family. And more good news: I lucky enough to visit Chicago again soon. I am most delighted. Updates will come as I am able to post them.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Something In A Summer's Day...

I don't know where to begin, there is so much in my head that I am trying to draw out and make sense of. It is really truly summer now, and we are well on our way to those deep, deep days of summer... The heat has set in, the corn is getting tall, and the cicadas are humming. Lately, it has started to feel more like summer to me; a little more sweet, a little more lazy. Summer nights are perhaps the sweetest thing I can think of... Nights when the heat eases but leaves it heavy imprint in the air. Nights when you can lay down and look at the sky, and listen to the sound of the crickets, and the trains running by through the night. Summer nights are some kind of magic for sure. I'm not the first to have observed that... I know time is barreling forward but if there is a moment when it seems to have stopped it is in a deep summer evening.

I am putting off the packing I must do. Tomorrow morning I leave for Ohio to stay with my grandparents. I am looking forward to my trip. I am ready for a break from my routine, from this place, from all my worry and work.

Although, come to think it, I won't be working the rest of this summer now. Thursday was my last day as a Tae Kwon Do instructor, at least for a while. I know I am moving on to great and wonderful things, but it makes me a little wistful leaving behind the job that was so much more than a job to me. In all honesty, it's hard to write this because I don't think the fact that I'm finished has really sunk in. Everything has been moving so fast, and Thursday felt just like any other day at work. I shouted, and smiled, and frowned, and cajoled and encouraged, and laughed, and passed on what I have been learning since I was only a child myself. I have spent so much time there, and recently gotten to know all these kids so well, it seems almost inconceivable that I'm leaving. Yet, I always knew this day would come... Maybe it hit me a little when all the kids nearly tackled me in a massive group hug ("Now you can't leave!" they yelled), or maybe when the line of mothers hugged me gently and wished me all the best at school, or maybe it was when Jonathan looked at me and said, "I'll miss you. You've been a great help."
Although, I must say, the best line I heard came from one boy who said to me, "I'm going to make you on my Wii."

So much to think about. I can hear the business of packing beginning around me, and I must go. So, I shall end with a little poetry:

A something in a summer’s Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer’s noon —
A depth — an Azure — a perfume —
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer’s night
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see —

Then veil my too inspecting face
Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me —

The wizard fingers never rest —
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes it narrow bed —

Still rears the East her amber Flag —
Guides still the sun along the Crag
His Caravan of Red —

So looking on — the night — the morn
Conclude the wonder gay —
And I meet, coming thro’ the dews
Another summer’s Day!

-Emily Dickinson

Friday, June 20, 2008


Oh my.

Summer. It feels as though I am busier than I ever. Work, sickness, goat cheese, graduation parties, planning for travel, and moving out... One more thing and I just might fall over.

Last night I was driving home from work with the windows down and I noticed the smell of the corn growing at the end of our road. It is a few brave feet high now, and smells perfect... I love that sunny, cool, green growing corn smell.

In a very short time I will migrate up north where I will be able to relax at my grandparents house, my second home, and eat inordinate amounts of Ohio sweet corn.

It is more difficult, though, the more divided up you have made your heart. My heart is in that place, that house in Ohio. It is with my northern relatives, I do miss them so. But my heart is here too, in this place with my family and the people I have adopted into my heart. And I think my heart is already at my new college too. I love it there already, with it's beautiful white-columned buildings and winding walkways... It is hard, yes. But I don't see an alternative.

Oh my. I must go. But I will be back.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Dad's Day

Things are just all over the place, both in my life and on the news. I feel a little dizzy trying to keep up with all of it. I am trying my best.

Today, though, I am going to make a pie for my dad. I think write this almost every year, but Dad, you've always been there, always took care of me, always been ready with a bad joke or pun, always been around to stand in the kitchen, talking politics and showing me how to cook at the same time. And when you tell me to make my own decisions (because I am something close to being grown up now), I know you helped get me to this point.
Thanks. I love you.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Guilt and Cat-Naps

I am tired. My head hurts. My mouth is dry because I have just woken up from one of my inevitable cat-naps. I find it interesting that I can be tired on a day when I have done next to nothing: I made a pie (peach! my favorite), I cleaned the litter box, I worked on a friendship bracelet while watching a black and white movie from the 40's, I tried to sort through my clothes and decide what to get rid of, what to put away for the warm weather, what to wash. Alas, however, I lost momentum very early and I fell asleep on my bed listening to This American Life instead.
My exhaustion, I realize, is the after-effect of staying out late perhaps one too many times last week. Isn't this what summer is all about? Staying out late, sleeping in, doing nothing or anything... Yet I can't help feeling guilty over my lack of activity, my lack of productivity. I feel that I should have something to show for what I've done today. Which is funny, because this was never much of an issue for me before. In the past, the only problem with doing nothing was the threat of boredom. Guilt was never an issue. Now, I feel bad that all I wanted to do today was sleep. I think about doing something - editing some of my writing, maybe. Re-learn guitar. Make a mini-comic. Some kind of project. Yet, I lack the drive for any of those things at the moment... Lately I haven't even had the drive to update this old thing, this online repository for my feelings, my observations, and other self-centered things...
Recently I feel that I keep running into my own shortcomings, like walking into a brick wall you forgot was there. But when you're rubbing your swollen nose you notice how familiar the wall is. I keep running into my own selfishness, my pride, my thoughtlessness. And it feels like I can't get away from any of it - it's like when I'm in a really bad mood: I can tell that I am in an irrational, horrible bad mood, and I know I should not take it out on the people around me in the way that I am, and I know that I am being a total pain in the ass! But for some reason, I cannot stop myself from lashing out, from simmering and festering and feeding my discontent... It's like that. Some mornings I wake up and think, "Gosh, I really don't love me. How on earth can anyone else?"
But then, there is a little, rational voice that pipes up and says, "But wait, that isn't really what love is about, is it?" I certainly don't love others because they are perfect (rather, it isn't that I don't love them because they are imperfect). Why is that so hard to apply to myself?
I'm still working on that one. But I think, I really do think, that love must be some kind of answer to this mess, to the sheer blinding imperfection of... everything. Not always perfect answer (because we never seem to get away from that basic fact), but I don't know what else allows us to live with one another except love (or compassion or forgiveness or grace or what-have-you). I feel like a hippie, or maybe someone who works in a shop that sells incense and healing crystals... but there it is.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I'm afraid I've hit one of those slightly frightening dry spells with my writing - I am either all apathy or at a total loss for anything to say. My senses have been burned out; I feel incapable of noticing things in the way that being a writer requires you to notice things and I have the lost the energy required to articulate such things anyway... Anything I do write comes out something like a whine... "This is bothering me, I don't like that, I'm so frustrated, I can't stop worrying about getting all that done." Where is all this coming from? It is practically summer. Summer! Summer is what I pined for all those weeks, and now... Some days are joy (thanks to some people), but some days I wake up and wonder what the point of my day is. I wanted to be able to write an ode to summer: hot, dreamy, careless summer... When in fact summer is turning out to be a strange interlude in between the old and the new, and I don't know what to make of it. I am still adjusting to having genuine free time and it is (quite unexpectedly) unnerving me. It seems I have to relearn how to relax. Not only that, but one minute I feel unwilling to let go of the life I have now, and the next minute I am chomping at the bit to move out, so ready to be at my new school, living on my own... It's a strange place to be.

I can say this, though: summer is looking a little shorter than I anticipated. That, however, makes me all the more determined to make it worth every minute if I can. I will work out the kinks as best I can, spend as much time as I can with the people I love, and try as best I can to relax a little and go with the flow.

Easier said than done, but perhaps saying it is the first step.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I am free.
Well, from some things. For a time. Right now all that matters is that finals are over, and everything else can wait a while... today, I spent hours doing almost nothing. It was the most blissful thing I can imagine.

My brain decided to check out for a while. It flew away for some down time after all I've put it through recently. Which means that this post ends here:

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
-Henry David Thoreau

More later.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Body Electric

Oh, I can't focus. I have only a little more to be done, if I could just do it. But my brain rebells, my body won't settle down, my imagination wants to take full reign. I want to dream, and jump, and dance, and sleep, and wish, and laugh, and kiss, and joke, and weep for joy and thankfulness. I would like to take off, let go of the sandbags that keep my feet planted on the ground, the sensible ground. How can my veins hold this electric blood that pumps through me? How can I stay here when I feel like I could float away? Or perhaps go lower, lying on the warm earth, feeling the grass and the sun... My self-discipline holds out only so long. But obligations don't fly away, no they do not. Deadlines do not disappear. It's so hard, though, because they seem so trifling compared to the intoxication of spring. I do believe I am twitterpated, twitterpated with everything. So frustrating, then, to think about grades, and jobs, and money (or lack thereof), and deadlines, and a dozen other responsibilities. I am wondering if I can't jump all the way back to being a kid again, with nothing to to do all summer but swim and read and play. Summers were so long back then, so lazy. Now they fill up with work, and fly by in the wink of an eye... If only, but time only goes one direction, I'm afraid, and I get pulled along, willing or unwilling. I am just looking to try and find a sense of peace in the middle of all this.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear Ivy,
On behalf of the Admission Committee, I am pleased to inform you of your admission to Guilford College as a transfer student entering in Fall 2008.
(Signed, Guilford Committee Person)

One simple sentence that contains so much.

Words fail me.

I am going to Guilford.

Monday, April 28, 2008

the air in utterable coolness

It feels as if my existence has been consumed by school. It is the thought that hovers over all other thoughts, the deadlines coursing through brain in a constant stream.

"I had nightmares about missing exams for years after I graduated college," my mother tells me.

I sigh, and moan, and return to my desk.

And yet life goes on.
The grass grows, the sun shines, the birds sing. There is a family of foxes living in the woodpile behind our house. My sweetheart calls almost every day. Today it is raining, but it is not the cold, dreary rain of winter. No, it is warm, spring rain. It pounds out of the sky, creating rivers in the red clay. It drips off the trees, makes the road glisten and the grass shine. It releases those strange, dark, earthy aromas from the ground and they wind up into my brain...
Summer broods on the horizon, sweetly beckoning. Soon enough it will be here. Right now there is nothing I want more than to just let go. But I am going to hold on a little longer, just a little longer now.

Poetry, which for so long I did not fully appreciate, now soothes my tired brain. e.e. cummings has lately captured my heart:

        i have found what you are like
the rain,

(Who feathers frightened fields
with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields

easily the pale club of the wind
and swirled justly souls of flower strike

the air in utterable coolness

deeds of green thrilling light
with thinned

newfragile yellows


-in the woods


And the coolness of your smile is
stirringofbirds between my arms;but
i should rather than anything
have(almost when hugeness will shut
your kiss

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I can hear an owl hooting somewhere in the dark woods outside my window... I have not heard him for a long time. He is accompanied tonight by a host of night sounds - all the nighttime creatures are awake and on the prowl. I can hear crickets chirping away to each other in the grass, another sound not heard in many months... The owl is my favorite, though. That otherworldly sound he makes always catches my ear and my imagination. His cry captures the mystery of night.

I cannot wait for long, warm summer nights when cares are put away for later and nothing exists but that moment; the cool tickling grass underfoot and the stars wheeling away above... This is what I dream about when I am sitting in a cold classroom, staring out the window and willing my brain to focus on the effects of the bubonic plague and negative linear relationships.

Tonight was a night of time stolen out of my "schedule." I ignored my homework for a short, blissful period. It was worth it. I still feel like I am floating, un-encumbered. Reality will sink back onto my shoulders tomorrow, but that can wait. I am learning, verrrrry slowly, to take things one day at a time.

I have been thinking a little bit more about faith, and what it even means these days with all of our rationality and knowledge (supposed). And I have realized that without some sense of faith, (or trying to reach for a sense of faith,) my fear and self-doubt and sorrow would be absolutely crippling.

so if you wanna burn yourself remember that I LOVE YOU
and if you wanna cut yourself remember that I LOVE YOU
and if you wanna kill yourself remember that I LOVE YOU
call me up before your dead, we can make some plans instead
send me an IM, i'll be your friend

-Kimya Dawson

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

To Be.

What is there to say? Eventually I run out out of words, not because I am empty but because I am so full that nothing comes close to describing it.

These past days have been just so. So full, yet they fly by at a rate that surprises me. I do sometimes wish to regain that childhood focus on the now that makes the days seem so much longer. It's tough when you pick up so many balls to juggle because then you end up simply focusing on keeping them in the air. However, I am thrilled by this dance, thrilled by what I've picked up and thrown blindly into the air, hoping desperately to make the catch.

I have been confronted recently with the sheer irrationality of my faith. It's a little disturbing because questions have been asked that I cannot answer. Faith in something (anything) you can't prove may be ridiculous but I don't want to let go... I've worked too hard to get to this point to turn and walk away. It occurs to me also that answers come not on my time, but when they are meant to.

(Once again, dear Mr. Rilke has the perfect words)

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, Letters to a Young Poet

I feel that it might be slightly repetitive of me to quote that great man once again, but he expresses things in such a unique way that I can't find anyone else more appropriate.

The only thing I have left to say is that I am quite genuinely happy; the happiest I have been in some time. To be is very, very powerful and I hope I never lose sight of that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Invalid

To be sick is something I find very depressing. I don't like it one bit because it forces me to slow down, if not stop entirely. I want to keep hurtling through the week (as often seems demanded of me), and stopping or slowing down or not being able to do it all... it makes me anxious.

But eventually my body just shouts at me, and gives up in protest of what I put it through. The past day or so I've just been so tired... that is the really the only time I get sick, when I wear down my defenses. Now, this cold is mild, but it has forced me to slow down and actually catch up on some sleep. It has forced me to take the to-do list one thing at a time. It takes all my energy just to do that, one foot in front of the other. Usually, I have energy to spare worrying about the future and how I am going to fufill it's obligations. Not this week.

I wonder if that in itself isn't such a bad thing.

Postscript: I had a marvelous Easter, though. It was a day that showed me how much I have been given and that knowledge continues to fill me with wonder and joy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Walk The Line

I love when it rains, because every time it does I feel like I get a new start. A kind of mental reboot happens to me, especially the morning after the rain has cleared. The world seems twice as intense; the sky, the grass, the sun... and the sheer beauty of being alive hits me all over again, and whatever I was worrying about doesn't seem as big and intimidating. I know that as long as I am able to keep getting up in the morning, things will work out. One way or another. Then I look at my flowers, and I can't help but smile thanks to the person who gave them to me. (A boy gave me flowers! Imagine that!)

Some days I feel like my skin is paper thin, and I'm walking around with my heart pinned to my front shirt-pocket. The future scares me just as much as it excites me. (But perhaps they have to go hand in hand?)

It's also a little frightening to realize that growing up essentially means making decisions of your own, and then living with those decisions. But once again, fear and excitement go hand in hand.

Here is one decision: I think I'd rather live with heart on sleeve, rather than buried deep where no one can find it. I really don't know what the consequences of that might be, but I don't want to know anyway. There is only one way to go: forward!

Because you're mine,
I walk the line.
-Johnny Cash

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger. (So They Say)

I sit here with swollen, bruised feet and a mashed up arm, and I wonder if I ever really learn anything. And I don't mean how to conjugate irregular verbs in Spanish, or finding the mean of a sample. I'm pretty good at learning things like that. I just wonder sometimes if I'll ever learn not to do dumb things. Like sparring too hard, just as an example. Sparring to hard, worrying too hard, not being able to say, "no thanks." The only problem is that it's really hard (sometimes) to tell if something is dumb until after you've done it. My feet tonight are a prime example of that. (Tae Kwon Do injuries are always that way, though.) I'll be okay, it's nothing super-serious. But if I could go back...


I think there is something deep here to be learned, but I'm too tired to get at it.

That's all for now. I'm going to go ice down my arm.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Life From Sunday Afternoon. Again.

Life marches forward -- I can't believe it's Palm Sunday already.

Spring break is also coming to a close. I am trying to make peace with that. Right now am I at resignation, I think. It was a good week, if totally hectic thanks to a visit from the G'ma and a trip to Asheville. It was fun mini-trip, and it was very enlightening to tour UNC Asheville. I liked it, and it was very cool, and academically probably the equal of Guilford... However, I still prefer Guilford. Now, I hate to generalize and stereotype, but Asheville is a very counter-culture kind of place. Hippies, environmentalists, activists, you name it they're there. That's cool, I respect that. But I felt so out of place, both in Asheville and at the college. I just don't think I'll ever that cool, funky, stick-it-to-the-man kind of person. Which is perhaps why I felt so at home at Guilford, the neat and tidy Quaker school...

We shall see how all of this ends up. But I had, after getting home from church this morning, the usual sense of anxiety that I get when I'm just home from being out of town. The to do list, ignored for a few days, is back. I'm trying to stay calm and just work on one thing at a time. I have found, though, that my main way of dealing with stress in many cases is sleep. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a nap. It makes me feel a better even if it doesn't get anything done.

Now I think I will try to get something done, although it's tempting to sit and peruse the new additions to my bookshelf, acquired at my favorite used book store in Asheville: my own copy of My Antonia, by Willa Cather and The Fine Art of Literary Mayhem; A Lively Account of Famous Writers and Their Feuds, by Myrick Land.

I feel there is something unfinished in my train of thought, but I really must go. More later.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fickle Spring

Yesterday a (relatively) merry group of friends decided to spend some time in the great outdoors. They thought, why not hike this charming trail? It may be slightly overcast and very windy, but let us be intrepid and carry on through the park, they said. They were rewarded with an appearance by the sun, and all was well for a time. They walked, and walked until no one was quite sure where they were. So, they kept walking. It was just then that the wind began to gust more strongly, and the clouds took back the sky. It got very cold. Then it began to rain. Soon after, it began to hail. The trail suddenly seemed much longer. But did our intrepid walkers quit? No, because they had no choice. They slogged on through mud, and rain, and hail. When at last they return to the parking lot then, and only then, did the sun decide to come back out. Wet and tired, the group retired to a restaurant and watched as the sun shone brighter and brighter outside.

Spring may have arrived, but it is very fickle. Spring also has an odd sense of humor, and I am in love with every moment of it. Even the hail and the mud.

Having survived this past week, I am now faced with all the glory of spring break.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Fresh Arrival

It happens this way every single year: one morning I wake up and it's spring. That is how it comes in North Carolina, practically overnight. Suddenly the chill has lost it's bite, the daffodils have bloomed, the tree tops are fuzzy with new buds, and pollen coats the windshield of my car. But what really tells me is the sound of the frogs, suddenly awakened down in the creek bed, singing their strange song. It's the most beautiful sound, and it stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it a few days ago. The world is silent no more, life is resurfacing.

I like spring. It's such a promising season. I cannot worry too much during spring, for simply stepping outside is a cure for the blues.

I think I have finally run into someone who takes me the way I am, and that/he is beautiful too.

And because it is spring, I am not going to worry. I am going to fall in love with living all over again.

Like a flower
Waiting to bloom.
Like a lightbulb
In a dark room.
I'm just sittin here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on.

John D. Loudermilk

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I was going to write a post about accepting grace, and how my life has been a crash course in just that lately. The only sticking point came up when I realized what a constant battle I really was faced with. Every day is one step forward, two steps back. Because it is one thing to recognize grace, and something else to actually accept it. I feel unworthy, and that trips me up even though I know that is just the point. It is not something you earn.
Then I realized what my problem really is, why I can't seem to get around my own fear and doubt: I want to live a life without mistakes. I want to live life so perfectly that I don't do anything wrong. I want grace and forgiveness to become unnecessary.
And pigs will fly before that happens, because simply being human means that you are, in some sense, a screw up. It doesn't mean that we aren't capable of good things, but it does mean that things like grace and forgiveness will always, always be necessary. It means that life is messy. I just can't seem to come to terms with the amount of pain that comes along with joy. That is why I don't want to make mistakes, even though that is how I learn.
Now that I've made that diagnosis, I don't know what comes next. But maybe that was two or three steps forward instead of one.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Run, devil run, devil run
Devil run...

This morning I woke up with the haze of lost sleep, feeling dragged down by my own thoughts. I felt sort of flat, and anxious about the state of my mind, and things in general. What I wrote last night was still clinging to me. After I wrote all that, I sat back and thought, "Where did all that come from?!" I knew I had just unlocked a door that might have been better off left alone. "Now everyone will know how crazy I really am," I thought.

Run, devil run, devil run
Devil run...

But it's funny, because when I walked out of my house this morning and got in my car I noticed what a beautiful day it was. The sky alone was enough to knock me flat on my back, I can't even describe it. It was a deep, hazy, blueish-gray, and the sun shone up against it and illuminated the morning mist that hung over the trees... The whole morning was so fresh and real and gorgeous that it made my chest hurt just looking at it. I realized by what grace I am allowed to wake up every morning and see scenes like that. Being alive is a blessing in of itself, and I thought perhaps that the answer isn't necessarily knowing the answer but just loving as hard and as well as we know how... And to do this in spite of all that suffering or really because of it. I do believe in grace, and maybe that is a first step towards faith.

As for writing, I'm afraid that is all I know how to do, even when it is uncomfortable. I leave you with this quote on why I do what I do. If I can come even a little close to this, then it is worth it:

"We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you'll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you've already been in. Most humans are dedicated to keeping that one door shut. But the writer's job is to see what's behind it, to see the bleak, unspeakable stuff, and turn the unspeakable into words - not just into any words but if we can, into rhythm and blues."
-Anne Lamott

In conclusion, today was a beautiful day.

Run, devil run, devil run
Devil run...
From the light.

-Jenny Lewis

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Voice

I have inside of me and awful, nagging, sticky, terrible voice and it will not go away. It worms it's way across my thoughts and tells me horrible things in a plausible, persuasive voice. I whispers in my own voice that I am neither very smart nor very beautiful. It tells me that good things will not happen to me, and that I cannot be loved. It tells me that I absolutely cannot write, and that I should give up these piddling attempts and any wishes of greatness because whatever comes out is essentially dog-doo. Even when good things do happen, the voice slides into my brain and says, Oh no, this is too good to be true. It can't be happening, not to you...

I hate the voice, I hate it. It eats at my heart and destroys my faith. But I don't know how to make it go away for good. Temporary exorcisms are all I ever seem to manage. I am waging a constant battle with it, for when I shine light on these thoughts they seem so false and untrue... Yet they won't go away. I can't seem to control this second-guessing, even when I want to. When I pull out these thoughts I find them teeming and ugly and I hate myself. I want things passionately, and instantly borne out of that is fear. What is the answer? I think it might be God, but it's hard to get close to God when one feels so riddled with imperfection. Which is entirely backwards, yet entirely true of me. I know there is a difficult answer that lies somewhere in myself, and not in other people. I know I need to know that the voice is wrong.

Life is so full of broken things. People can't seem to act totally right, or love quite right. And some days you wake up and it just hurts like hell, and you wonder why people who do manage to love each other so well have to suffer. I don't know, I just don't know. I think there is some kind of grace out there. I see it, and I am trying to learn how to accept it. I want faith, I do.

I just read over this, and I am a little scared to post it. It's a little bit like pulling out my insides and putting them on display. But maybe putting this out there is in it's own way an act of faith. Maybe you have that voice too, and reading this will make you feel a little better. That is what I hope.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I swear, every time I sit down to write something - and it could be anything: an English paper, a story, a letter... - most days when I sit down to write it seems impossible that I'm going to get the words to appear. The magic just is not going to work this time, because I won't be able to think of anything. At all. So I sit at my desk and try to pull my hair out as I mull over whatever it is in frustration, because the blank page is just sitting there and I know I have to fill it up. But with what? And none of this would really be a problem, except for that deadline... it just gets closer and closer.

So, the hair pulling continues and eventually out of sheer desperation I write whatever crap floats to the top of my brain pan, and it is horrible, but then I look at it and think, "Well, there might be something there." Then I clean it up, make it sound smart, and feel relieved to be done if nothing else. I might even feel accomplished and pleased with the result on a good night.

Now, WHY do I love writing so much? Because the process is not nice and neat for anybody (and if it is for you, then I hate you). Really, I love it because no matter how difficult it is, words always spill out eventually, and those moments of "aha!" are so sublime. I love it when after much writing, re-writing, and re-arranging, a piece justs fits together. It's just beautiful.
And as for deadlines, I would get absolutely nothing done without them.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a paper to work on. (Surprise. I am not above procrastination, my friends, as you've just witnessed.) But everyone needs a break from all the hair pulling and teeth gnashing at some point, deadline or no deadline.

More later.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I think that the world may have just rotated right off it's axis this past week. Or maybe it was the lunar eclipse stirring things up. The slightest breeze could knock me down right now. But I can't stop smiling. Also: I am not second guessing myself, which is so... new.
What I really think is that God likes to smack me upside the head once and a while, generally when I least expect it and most need it. "See?" he seems to be saying, "here is what you wanted. And it was right under your nose the whole time."

I can't really explain. But the moral of the story is: good things come from the most unexpected places (and people).

Today is a soggy, soggy day. I like the rain though. It is at the very least good for keeping me inside to write papers. And hopefully not to take accidental naps...

"Don't worry. We'll just go back to Victoria's Secret after Lent."
(Because we are pious girls like that, Rachel and I...)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free, White, and Nineteen...

That's what Bob said, anyway. If you know my uncle, you'll get it (or not). SO, birthday rundown: it was perfect. The whole weekend was perfect. Now I'm a year older. Wahoo.

Now it's Monday and I'm stuck back with homework, and confusion, an unfinished college application, and unfiled taxes. Did I mention confusion?

Crap. I can't even remember what I'm supposed to be doing anymore.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be Mine?

So, today was a good day. Valentine's Day is never quite that significant to me. It is generally overshadowed by my birthday which is two days after. Also, I've never had anyone to get mad at, or anyone to mad at me, for forgetting about it. I say that without any bitterness or regret or anything like that. I'm too young for either of those. However, I DID get a Valentine's card from one of my young Tae Kwon Do students. That, and some chocolate. I was quite tickled. I'm telling you, this teacher thing rocks like nothing else on some days.

I know I have a crapload of work to do. For some reason, though, it isn't stressing me out. I just feel unreasonably happy. As for being on the fence, I figure I will eventually just lose my balance and fall off onto one side or the other, and that will be that.

So, Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Mean, What Could Go Wrong?

At what point does one make a leap? When your friends agree it's a good idea? When your parents think it's a good idea? When you just feel like it?
My brain invents too many things to go wrong. I'm not really sure which ones are reasonable and which ones are simply overkill anymore.
Do I worry about right and wrong too much? And I don't mean that in a cosmically epic sense. I mean I worry about whether the decisions I make are good ones. Ones I won't regret, essentially. I try to plot out along the consequences of what I might do and evaluate the pros and cons. I think maybe I should stop evaluating, because I don't really have any real understanding of what might happen. Furthermore, maybe there is something to be learned from any action and it's consequences... Good, bad, or in between both.
It's a thought. I think it when being sensible becomes slightly tiresome.

Then I start to question my motivations. That's uncomfortable because I have very few answers for myself in that department, and sometimes the answers I come up with I don't like...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Walking On Cartons Of Eggshells

I was going to bake something just now; some nice scones, perhaps. Anything to keep my hands busy and my mind at ease. Nothing satisfies that quite like baking for me. I bake to get rid of anxiety, and confusion, and general restlessness and dissatisfaction. My plans tonight were foiled by the fact that there is nothing either in our refrigerator or cupboards. Actually, I had most everything I need except... eggs. Curses.
So, since I have set aside what is left of my Spanish homework for now, I have nothing to do but sit here and type my own self-indulgent thoughts.

I don't know why I always try to classify a week as good or bad. It's always a mix. And then there are some things that don't seem to fit in either category. There should be a third: confusing. Some things I can't explain here, just because I don't want some people to get the wrong idea. But an element has entered into a friendship that has kind of thrown me off... I have no idea how to treat it. It also has stirred up a number of thoughts and memories that are not very comfortable. Add to that frustrating dreams and an inability to make up my mind.

On the other hand, I always seem to let my mind get bogged down and tied up in the things that are bothering me no matter how much good I have going. I am in the very process of applying to transfer out of community college. That is exciting. My birthday is next week. In exactly one week, I will have exactly only one year left of my "teens." That's kind of exciting too.

I have forgotten the point of this. What am I trying to leave you with?
Here: Maybe our expectations are the problem. Think about it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

its just my heart gets rejected by my veins

I am taking a study break. A strategic break from the studying I put off until tonight. I could have done it earlier, but my self-discipline has been weak these recent days. It has been unreasonably warm. Yesterday I sat in my car in the middle of the school parking lot with the windows down, just lounging in the warmth. Weather in the South really is friendly, and I think that has something to do with this Southern politeness... 70 degrees and sunny made me feel sleepy, and dreamy. It felt like spring. Dreamy is good, because it beats worrying and over-analyzing. Two things I seem to do no matter how hard I try not to. I don't understand much, really, but I keep trying anyway. Don't know why.

I made the Dean's List, though. So, I suppose I understand a few things.

Today was a day that could not decide if it wanted to shine or storm. I like days like that, and I like how intensely detailed nature seems after a good soaking. I am witness to so much, and I just keep feeling that it is all part of a big, confusing, beautiful puzzle... if I could only get the pieces to go together. I also feel we're all doomed never to grasp the whole picture, but there you go.

*rilo kiley

Friday, February 1, 2008

Past, Present, And Future: Further Thoughts

Our lives are fluid: this is something my aunt told me once, and I can see how true it is. Last post I think I came close to it, but never really said it. The forces and currents that move us are not only the ones that belong to the present. The future exerts a powerful hold over us, and certainly me. It is what I act toward, what I can still dream about. It influences so much, yet changes so constantly. My personal road-map has fluctuated many, many times. Although, it still retains the basic essentials. College, for example. But where? And to do what?
The past, though, is inescapable. It shades and informs everything with experience. I have very little experience as of yet. Lots of future, slightly less past. The present is perhaps the hardest to get to, to understand. As soon as I think about it, it's gone... It's that fine line between the first two. But the present is when things actually happen, that is where life is lived. Or is it?

At this point things have gotten to philosophical for me, so my line of thought will stop there. Perhaps I've been thinking of it because I've been paying far more attention to the past and future than the present lately. Fridays are blessed days, however. Today was a day spent in the present, and it was good. Beautiful, in fact.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Past, Present, And Future...

Here I am back again, per request. Back at my desk, in my messy, messy room, once again avoiding homework. The usual, yet different, because nothing stays the same these days. Least of all me, it seems. I've tried to write lately, but every time I try the words won't come, or if they do they come stumbling out in a disjointed, inadequate way... I'm grasping at meaning, but life has been a paralyzing deluge that I am busy simply trying to keep up with. I can feel life working itself through my body, the wheels of my mind clicking and turning, trying to match it all up. So far it's hard to tell what's matching and what isn't. Discord and harmony seem to be constant bedfellows.

When I am driving or walking from class to class I get snippets of memory from last semester; driving through the hot, heavy morning with the windows down to hear the frogs and crickets, feeling unsure and excited taking furious notes, sitting and drinking iced coffee with that beautiful boy who isn't here anymore, and listening to the Shins. I can feel the memories as they layer themselves over my surroundings, providing a sharp relief against the present.

Right now, I am deeply frustrated by the fact that in the place of an exciting romance I am stuck with fending off deeply unwanted attentions from strange boys who sometimes come uncomfortably close to the term "stalker." They are mostly harmless I think, (and perhaps I'm being just a little harsh) but I don't feel that this is fair, and my patience is wearing dangerously thin. It's not really that I'm so desperate for the romance (actually, after recent events I've become intensely ambiguous about the whole deal), but if I can't have it I would just like to be left alone, thank you.

What is different this semester (for semesters are what my life revolves around in great part) is that I hold up the shadowy, yet potent future almost constantly in front of my eyes. I went and toured Guilford College, and even though I don't know for certain that is where I will be next fall, it makes it hard to go back to my present after seeing what my future could be. No more commuting, decently challenging classes, perhaps even a sense of community? Of belonging somewhere? Because I don't belong at community college (not that it's bad), and eventually I won't belong absolutely at home either. (Not that it won't be home. It will always be home and all the beauty that implies. But everything has to change, and I can't stay forever...)

Frustrations, however, are mercifully offset by the support of some close friends. I know I say it all the time, but it's always true. I pray I never become insensitive to that particular blessing.

That is as much as I can say right now. There is so much left to be said, but the words have not yet made themselves clear. The words or the feelings. I just keep moving forward because I have to.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Mystery Grab-Bag Of Life

Life truly is a mixed bag. The mix this past week, however, has been mostly good. Life is starting to ease back into a pattern, classes are becoming more comfortable, acquaintances are being struck up... I've also found that doing volunteer work and planning for the future are both excellent ways to get over, well, lots of things. I'm visiting Guilford college this weekend, and I am unreasonably excited about it. The other cure for the blues is laughing madly at the state of all your affairs with good friends (over coffee or watching football). That, and finding a fifty-dollar sweater on sale at Banana Republic for (drum-roll please) ten dollars.

There have been some awkward hiccups (very awkward). I will never get a handle on this whole boys thing. Ever. I am both a villain and a victim. The best I can hope is that these sublimely awkward moments of rejection will someday fuel my fiction. I am playing this by ear, people. I'd like to apologize to people I may have hurt. But I can't say I've ever gotten an apology from those who hurt me. So, I guess that's life.

But overall, things are good. Can I mention again how much I love English class? William Faulkner = new favorite author (at least when it comes to short stories). So, I keep moving, despite the hiccups. They will always be there, but I have a lot of good stuff going for me right now, and I'm grateful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Disclaimer: Pathetic, Self-Indulgent Moaning Ahead...

Beginnings are always difficult, I think. Either that, or January as a month just sucks no matter how hopeful and optimistic you are going into it... Or is the hopeful expectation itself the problem? All I know is that this week has been killer, a triple or maybe quadruple whammy. A week of sickness, and no one who will sit next to you (except the slightly odd fellow who you are trying not to be judgmental about, because you don't want to be mean and stuck-up even though you really are), and teachers who ask good questions, only your brain freezes and your throat closes up because it's a lot to be in this place with all these new people... It was a week when the checking account threatened to dip below ten measly dollars, and you run away down a dead-end hallway and only end up making an idiot of yourself. Then you spill coffee on your lap, and then you get in the car and cry because even though he drove you crazy, you still miss him.

And it's only Wednesday.

I wasn't dating Nick Rhodes, I wasn't dating Rodger Tyler,
I wasn't dating John Tyler I wasn't dating Andy Tyler,
I wasn't dating Simon Le Bon.
I was sitting by myself with my collar up,
A tear in my eye and an aching in my heart.

And my converse on.
My converse on.

-The Moldy Peaches

Update: It's snowing. Here. Amazing. This storm may the beautiful reprieve I am wishing for. Pleeeeease let school close tomorrow...

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Bang and a Whimper

So begins the semester. I am once again to be found stalking the community college campus, with it's hallways that smell of linoleum. I have manged to endure the awkwardness of the first day of class, when you walk in and no one knows each other, no one speaks, and you know everyone is staring at you as you try to choose a seat. Are you the kind of student who sits in the back or the front? Everyone is evaluating everyone else, and I am no exception. I like to check out everyone who is in the class too. Then there are the teachers. Are they friendly? Tough? Funny? Is this class going to be a pain, or really interesting? I do like all my teachers, and I am grateful for that. A good teacher can make or break a class...

I went through this process with Spanish, Statistics, World Civilizations One, and Literature-Based Research. I think it's going to be a good semester. I'm tired, and quite possibly coming down with the cold that's been traveling around my family, but it hasn't been quite enough to dampen my beginning-of-the-semester excitement. Once again, there isn't anything I'd rather be right now than a student.

With that said, I'm also already just slightly overwhelmed. But I'll manage. I have my organizer, my brain, and my friends/family (those two make up a really excellent support system, I tell 'ya... For when the brain goes on the fritz).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hello Year

A new year, a new look. I have tried not to think about the year ahead. Instead I have grasped as hard as possible on the last tendrils of my idleness. That meant not even thinking about work etc. Instead, I watched Die Hard with my family, had a dance-off, went to see Juno with my girlfriends, and ate pork and sauerkraut. (By the way, what do Southerners eat on New Years day?)

But, alas, vacation is slipping away. I have to go back to work tomorrow. (Mixed feelings there. I don't want to go, but I know it's good for me all the same...)
I've also spent almost all my Christmas money on music. Latest acquisitions: Mute Math, Lady Sovereign, Ingrid Michaelson, and Elliot Smith. I expect all of these to ease my passing into the new year. Music has a marvelous way of easing any sharp edges.

More later.