Wednesday, March 30, 2011

this is where a title goes

You trace the mismatched spines in the stale basement, pausing. Fingering through yellowed leaves you smile to yourself, mouthing words to yourself, sharing revelations with yourself. You make a gap on the top shelf, showing me where his books will fit when he writes them, where yours will fit if you take his last name, gathering dust, graying, dropping in price, losing their worth. I can’t catch a full breath, perching on a stepstool.

You slowly add to the stack in your arms, holding piles of massacred forests against your heart, making a home for yourself between the covers. You’re buying romance, religion, reality, to flip through and then stack on a shelf, alphabetically. I can’t understand your fascination, sipping at coffee.

You are speaking in tongues of rhetoric and narrative, tossing Woolf and Joyce and Nouwen and Eggers all together. I can’t pretend to listen to you much longer.

“You need to find someone who’ll wander shelves with you in stuffy bookstores. Someone who loves this as much as you do.” “I know.”

Your eyes are back on that top shelf, hands reaching for the space that holds an impossible fantasy. Tomes topple from your arms, laying where they fall like so many corpses, lifeless. You kneel in their midst. I can’t see your face anymore. Don’t hide from me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind

Hot chocolate: I'm drinking some.

Just finished packing.  The Beatles made a good soundtrack.  One duffel filled with clothes, one backpack stuffed with books.  One of my favorite things about packing is picking out the outfit I'm going to wear the next day.  I'm not one to choose my clothes the night before at any other time, but it's both necessary and fun to do so before flying.  Finding the right combination of comfort and cuteness, mixing in the fact that it might be snowing when I land is a fun challenge.  Plus shoes that aren't a hassle to take off and put on.

I'm just rambling, mostly because I think I need to write something before I leave, you know, to keep the three of you who read my blog in the loop.  I'm really excited.  I'll try not to have too much fun without you.  But I get to see Sarah and Jon and they are two of my most favorite people in the world.  And I really love new places.  I like being a stranger.

Take off is in twelve hours.  I'll be the one smiling out the window, watching the world fall away, with her nose stuck in a book for the rest of the flight.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

more war?

The world is falling apart.

While I walked around a lake, a piece cracked off beneath my feet. I picked it up. It’s in my pocket. My fingers wrap around it when they’re numb with cold – something to hold on to when there is more news of war, more news of disaster, more news of death, more news of horror.

The world is falling apart. I’m trying to hold on to this one small piece. But it’s crumbling to dust beneath my touch, from squeezing too desperately.

I can think of a thousand reasons why I don’t believe in you.

Friday, March 18, 2011

morphed is a funny word

Yes, I know it's two in the morning.  Welcome to my new favorite time to blog.  I'm slowly working on my revision for Fiction that's due tomorrow.  Just hit four thousand words.  It strikes me as funny in that odd way that when I originally wrote this piece it was an earnest attempt to write something happy, just for the sake of seeing whether or not I could.  And with this rewrite, it's morphed into one of the darkest things I've ever written.  Now, I don't have a very good perspective on it right now, so I could be overexaggerating (pet peeve) but it's making me sad.

Maybe listening to Bright Eyes isn't helping much.

Today is going to be a beautiful day.  A final for grammar, turning in this revision, and a friend date with Joel.  And then it's spring break.  How did that sneak up on us?

She said, "I think I'll go to Boston..."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

f r i e n d s

Sorry about the length of this post - the majority of it was penned at three in the morning.


Friends are great.  Friends are my favorite (not favorite in that way I call every second thing that crosses my mind a favorite, but a legitimate favorite, promise).  Sit up with someone at the kitchen table, talking about relationships and independence and God and learning and struggles and people and articulating doctrine versus living doctrine, eating cheese and chocolate chips, and then tell me that friends are not your favorite.

Thanks for tonight, Jill.  Finals week is the one for staying up late.  While most people would have used the hours drinking thirteen cups of coffee at a wild study break in Gwinn and then actually studying, our Robbins After Dark was much more appealing.  Thanks for letting me be vulnerable in our relationship while I talked about my struggle with being vulnerable in relationships.  I appreciate you more than you know.

Friends, friends.  I think our perception of friendship is skewed.  Blame facebook, blame the weird little bubble we live in, blame the deliberate privacy screens we all throw up between ourselves and others.  I think we need a re-evaluation of language when it comes to friendship.  I find the phrases "Oh my gosh, I want to be friends with them," and "friend crush" tripping off my tongue more than is probably healthy.  Especially since the word "friend" encompasses so many different types of relationships and I'm not sure which type I mean.

Let's break it down.  Here are the people I encounter in a typical day in the life.  Take today, for instance:
  • Stranger strangers: this is someone you've never seen before in your life.  Random freshman in the library, that guy waiting at the bus stop, your checker at Trader Joes.  Defined as strangers.
  • Familiar strangers: this is someone whom you don't know, but know, you know?  The people you pass every day when you take the same paths between classes, the guy who works at the Teacup, that one kid from your USEM who you haven't ever had a conversation with.  You might know their name, major, dorm, but that's all.  Defined as strangers.
  • Acquaintances: this is someone whom you know, but don't know.  That person you have two classes with this quarter, a friend of a friend, someone you've been introduced to multiple times.  Maybe you've shared in a conversation; you're probably on smile basis when you pass on the street, maybe even "hi" basis if you're bold.  Defined as strangers or friends, depending on the story you're telling (most often described as "So, this kid in my class").
  • Acquaintance friends: this is someone whom you know and are comfortable sharing in conversation with but have never dipped down into anything deeper.  That guy who works at the desk next to yours, a good friend's roommate, the nine other people who shared that boring class with you last quarter.  Defined as friends.
  • Friends: this is someone who has reached hugging basis, whom you know a bit more than the typical "Hey, how are you?" of acquaintance friends.  Those girls who lived on your floor, those kids you went to school with for eleven years, the cousins you see on every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Defined as friends.
  • Good friends: this is someone who knows the bad in you as well as the good, someone with whom you can be honest, someone who knows a little of your past, of your struggles, of the person you've been and the person you're becoming.  This is someone who has seen you cry, who has gotten into a huge fight with you but still loves you, the person who is important enough to schedule time for to make sure you see them on a weekly basis.  This is someone who has had an impact on your life because you have known them.  Defined as friends.
  • Soul friends:  this is someone who has had a profound impact on your life.  I can count my soul friends on one hand, minus a couple of fingers.  This is someone who knows you.  This is the one person you want to spend time with when the rest of the world has you feeling awful/homicidal/dejected.  Defined as friends.
The last four and a half categories are all called friends when you're talking about them.  But they are so vastly different.  I'm calling for a revolution in language.  Because some random kid in my class whom I talked to that one time in the library when we were both working on our papers does not warrant the same label as my roommate who stays up way too late, listening to me talk about things I've never talked about with anyone.

Perhaps I'm too liberal with the label of friend.  This is where I'll blame facebook.  "Oh yeah, we're friends."  No, you're not.  Do you know where they're from?  How many brothers or sisters they have?  Do you know what they want to do with their life?  Do you know what their laugh sounds like?

There's something beautiful in the progression of relationships, though, in having someone climb these tiers into your life, into your heart.  Sometimes people never progress.  Sometimes people jump whole steps in one moment, going from acquaintances to good friends with one moment of shocking vulnerability. 

Not everyone fits into one of these categories.  And, unfortunately, it's possible for people to fall down the tiers.  Some sort of pyramid is formed here.  I find that I focus more on wanting to make my acquaintances, acquaintance friends and friends into the same group; I want to know and hug and be comfortable around as many people as possible.  But shouldn't my focus be on gaining more good friends?  More soul friends?

There has to be something pertinent about the desire to be known by a lot of people.  But what do I mean when I say known?  Is hugging basis really enough for me?

I think, somewhere in the back of my independent mind, I think it is.  But, even further back than that, buried underneath some random facts about James Joyce, my high school fight song, and the entire prologue to the movie version of the Fellowship of the Ring, I know that is not enough.  I need to be known.  To be forced out of my comfortable, singular existence.  I need to question people, and be questioned in return.  I need to be forced to think about things, to hear ideas from other peoples' minds.  I need people to come alongside me and say, "I know you.  And because I know you, I know some thing's wrong, even when you're trying to hide it underneath a smile and a hug and a squeeze of the arm."  I need someone who will be there to offer help even when I am too stubborn to ask for it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

just keep swimming

I wonder every single day if everyone else argues with themselves inside their heads as much as I do.  Do you?

We all pretend we're so normal while trying to cram blue-books-worth of knowledge in among the song lyrics and mean girls quotes and made up arguments that you sometimes can't remember were made up.

I'm tired.  I'm frustrated.  I have a lot of excuses for both of these things, but none of them matter.  We're all tired.  We're all frustrated.  And letting that be the only thing we can think about is not helping any of us. 

I was lecturing myself last yesterday (do you ever do that, either?), reminding myself how, contrary to how I would like to think, I don't have everything figured out.  I don't know any more than anyone else.  We're all stumbling along, trying to live, figuring things out at the same time, making messes.  No one needs to be taking shit from anyone else.  We're all doing our best.

I'm sorry that I pretend to have everything figured out.  I don't.  Remind me to admit that every once in a while.

It's spring.  Spring is new, fresh, rebirth, life.  Spring is the reminder of why we even bother getting through the winter each year.  Spring is the whisper of what's to come.

We're all going to get through it.  And we're all going to be ok.

Also, I made a tumblr because I'm a conformist.  Don't worry, though; this is still my first love.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dear sore throat,

Hey old friend. 

Look, I know I've been ignoring you for a few weeks now.  You've been consistently pursuing me, leaving notes, calling day and night, and I am so grateful for your faithfulness.  Please know I never want to ignore you like this.

That being said, I have to let you know that I just don't have time for you.  I could maybe squeeze you in on Friday evening for a few hours, or anytime between March nineteenth and the twenty-second.  But besides that, we might have to put off hanging out until the summer.   Now,  I know that seems like a really long time, but health and I have been really happy together and I don't want to screw things up now after all this time.

I know you understand.  Please know that I think of you with each cup of tea and downing of obscene amounts of vitamin C.  I would appreciate it if you would heed this note and give me a little space.  My table neighbors in the library are judging the throat-clearing noise I keep making on your behalf.

We'll talk soon, I'm sure.



This quarter, I have perfected the art of:
  • walking down steep hills in heels
  • sentence diagramming
  • saying the opposite of what I think
  • procrastinating
  • acting like a child
  • getting by on less sleep than I'd like
  • steeping the weakest tea imaginable
We can all probably tell which week of the quarter it is by measuring two things: darkness of the circles beneath our eyes and the number of empty tables in the library.

In the end, it comes down to the little things, like the moment when you stop avoiding the puddles and start aiming for them instead.

Monday, March 7, 2011

late night chocolate chips

It's one of those nights where I can't go to bed.  What if something happens and I miss it?  Right, something very exciting and earth-moving is about to occur in the middle of my half-lit, empty apartment.  I'm avoiding the silence, the inevitable staring up at the dark ceiling with my arms crossed behind my head, patiently watching sleep's evasive tendencies.  That quiet; that stillness, heavy with thought; half-formed identities winding their ways across the cracks in the ceiling; lines of poetry weaving internal rhyme and caesura, promising to be there in the morning to be written, but always escaping to somewhere just beyond grasp like a dream you forget to remember while brushing your teeth.

Jill and I adventured up the hill to Safeway to buy chocolate chips (and juice) at 10:30, talking self-defense, hop-scotching over puddles due to gaping holes in the soles of my shoes.  Adventuring down, we spoke of fasting and of prayer.

Something I've just realized while staring up at the Christmas lights strung around the living room, the cheap lighting solution you can only get away with in your apartment until you're twenty-four and then the judgment will come raining down, is that I always have the perfect sentences to say when I'm being inauthentic, but I can't string two words together when I'm actually trying to be honest.  I always have the right answer.  Fuck the right answer.  I want sincerity.

We bruise so easily.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

a way of looking at things

This quote came up on my dashboard, reminding me why I love the History Boys so much:
The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you.  And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe ever someone long dead.  And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours."
Perfectly expresses that feeling we've all had so many times in the midst of those little black lines.  There's something so intimate about reading and writing; I don't think I'll ever understand the power of words for bringing about beauty, bringing about understanding.

It's one of those quiet, melancholy afternoons where you could sit and be and watch the sun strain through the clouds with the occasional sigh and be perfectly content to do almost nothing besides breathing and tea-sipping if only the reality of pages needing to be typed were not hanging over your head.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

journal making

There should be some deep fear squeezing my heart to the point of paralysis, but I'm fine other than the seven seconds it took to write that first independent clause.  When I say, "I'm not too worried about it," I'm not lying through my teeth.  Maybe that means I'm disillusioned, maybe I'm just a moron.  That's fine.  I'm not too worried about it.

Sticky hands.  There's something deeply cathartic about being able to rip apart books and glue them back together in new ways.  I love watching people smashed together in new ways.  I love your eyes on mine.  Mod podge is the smell of someone's childhood - not mine.

"Watch me!  Watch me drink this whole Capri Sun in one second!"  Paul, you just summed up my entire elementary existence.

I love when we get to act like children.  Maybe it's because we are writers, poets, painters, artists, that we cling to the old, the nostalgic.  It's not a longing for the past; it's a recognition that we are still those children, chasing and being chased at recess, learning to play chess in sixth grade math, decorating tri-fold display boards for science fairs; those children are still inside of us, still so integral to who we are and how we have our being.  We are aware of and unafraid to acknowledge that truth.  Rather, we embrace it, digging into our silly side, not afraid to give in to fits of giggles, not ashamed to love dirt cups, unleashed from our need to be adults.

Because we're not adults.  And we're not children.  We're just us.  Maybe you're going home next weekend, or you're getting married soon, and you're graduating.  But you're still just you.  And I love that.


Remember, remember when the sun was shining so hard that we were banished outside because of parental concern, so we took up the Boggle board, those lettered-dice clattering for four days straight, and sat at a picnic table to play.  And no one would play with us because we’d wipe the floor with them and we got too competitive because I was winning and pretended not to care and you were losing and pretended not to care. 
Remember, remember when we got tired of being around those so much older and those so much younger so we ran away to the fort to make a music video, just the three of us.  And we could sing and swear without anyone listening in and it was a sweet release of realization that we are all so incredibly diverse but we could not love each other more. 
Remember, remember heated topics over coffee, squeezed-shut eyes against the smoke, sunsets sinking over the Sound.  Remember, remember. 
Years stretch.  Love does, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rainy Weather Friend

I ran away from home again today.  Up the hill in a little pink hat that whispers, "Please don't run me over," to the rain soaked cars all trying to get somewhere on a grey day, rain day, Tuesday.  Drops drip down the sandwich board, a world of world-class tea.  I'm expecting the paint to run, but the water stays clear.

This corner is dreary in the winter, all grey and bricks.  The too light sky seems endless, reaching up and up forever while smothering with its weight.

You'll eventually grow up into yourself; that much I can promise you.

Rain really is my favorite.  I love everything about this weather: the sound, being inside while it's raining, being outside while it's raining, the smell, the cold.  I make up excuses to go walking, though none of my shoes are waterproof.  It makes me want to be by myself.  But most weather makes me want to be by myself.

I think that's what amazes me most about Jill.  We are near opposites (if Myers-Briggs is to be trusted) but I don't hesitate to call her my soul mate.  She is one of the only people I've come into contact with whom I never get tired of being around.  Even in my most hermit-like moments, it is lovely to be with her.  She is one of the ones I love so much that I'm not sure what I would do were she ever to get sick of me.  I know that I am more than blessed to have found a kindred soul such as hers.

Walking past Max's room, I know that the one thing I need in my future home, more than five hundred books, more than a cat, more than a partner, roommate, friend, is a piano.  Because I need something to drown out the screaming with beauty, to take cacophony and turn it to concertos.  Because beauty will save the world.

I am desperately waiting for you.
He had the distracted, insistent friendliness of one who has no time to re-establish intimacy; it must be taken as read.  -A Soldier's Embrace
I see this in my friendships and I hate it.  I'm scared that eventually all my relationships will look like this.  I am a friendship addict.  New friends are fun, but new friends eventually become friends, and friends aren't as fun.  So you get more new friends.  I'm that college student who throws away her dirty dishes and buys new ones instead of getting out the soap.

Today I walked around a city block in order to avoid a precious little stranger with a clipboard.  I already rejected him once with an easy lie that I was in a hurry (yeah, big rush to buy some vitamin C.  That needs to happen right this second) and I didn't want to walk back past him and face his judgment as he watched me mosey on into the Teacup.  So I walked around the block.  This is a story about the kind of person I am.  I'm not sure I like it.