Wednesday, April 29, 2009

i'm beginning to realize i don't breathe when i write

So I'm still thinking about this being still thing. I've been a weird jumble of things these last two weeks, and I haven't been able to put my finger on one specific reason yet, though I suspect that's because it's just a number of things. You know when one thing on its own wouldn't necessarily bother you or you'd be able to go on ahead through it but then several of them are going on at once and you start to get pulled down? I know that's vague. But the word I'm thinking for all of this is heavy.

And you know--just because I've been meaning to say this for a while and haven't--this blog is far from where I'd orginally intended it. I've been blogging for years now. "Blogging." I've had this online journal thing since 2004 that I still actually have but thankfully is password protected and heaven forbid that thing ever surface, because oh goodness I was an angsty adolescent.

But this! This was going to be different. Love to the nations! I think it was January when I started, so I had Romania ahead of me this summer and then was intending to have Chile in either spring or fall of 2010. And then, I'm always always going on about Colombia. And these thoughts about traveling and going out to the world and who knows about missions except for I just can't stop thinking or talking or writing about any of it. So a blog about all of it! And then I wouldn't have to make a new one while in Chile, but it also wouldn't have any of that crazy stuff I wrote when I was younger (...or more recently).

But then I found out I won't be able to blog while I'm in Romania (which is fine, and of course I'll be writing while I'm over there) and now I've made the decision to hold off on Chile. So I have this blog that was supposed to be centered around all of that. Except lately it's just my thoughts. Which is great, no problem at all. But I feel like I've done the name a bit of a disservice.

I never really defined too well what this whole thing was supposed to be about, but I'm redefining it anyway. Getting excited for or concerned about or going to these countries, this world--these will be the dots. My analytical, sometimes moody, sometimes overuse of words like hope, with sentences like a comma factory blew up and grammar like I burned my copy of Strunk & White--this, these day-to-day thoughts will be the in-between, the connect-the-dots. I think I'm okay with that.

And I digress. Good gracious. If any of you ever get through to the ends of these and actually read the whole thing, you deserve a medal and lots of money. When I'm writing something for real, length is always an issue--I feel like when I write it's usually dense but never long, and how the heck am I supposed to ever write anything novel-length? But here. Here there are no bounds to my long-windedness and ability to tangentialize (I realize this isn't a word, but for the sake of continuity I think my point is further proved if I use it). Here I go again.

So being still. Feeling pulled down by life in general, ready to be finished with school for the semester. Not really knowing what my deal is lately, or rather, not being certain what my deal has been and wanting to understand it. I went down to the beach last night to do that, and it was wonderful. I just laid in the sand, city glow above the dunes, the sky a different color dark than everything else. And how when I was laying there looking up, the sky like a bowl above me and grass reaching up at the edges--it was beautiful and made me want to write and--and I couldn't be still.

I couldn't sit for an hour out there and think. I'm pretty confident I have no diagnoses of ADD or ADHD or anything, and after all those years in the system it almost certainly would have been caught. But I'll tell you what. It wasn't until I was driving--until I was doing something, until I was moving--that I could work things out in my head. And once I was doing that I felt a ton better. I feel like the go-go-go of school and life and reading two minute long blogs and news articles have absolutely shot my ability to do one task at a time (as opposed to constantly multi-tasking). I noticed it over Christmas when I finally had a chance to read again after the craziness of the semester was over, and I was reading The Fellowship of the Ring and I could hardly go twenty (dense) pages before having to put it down, do something, and then come back. The longer I read the easier it got to go for a while, but it's so hard to be still now. I have to ease back into it.

So that is my very long way of saying: it's time for me to slow down, to be one-track for a while. As much as I'm (still) wanting to go to Colombia for two weeks this summer (plane tickets are the cheapest I've ever seen them, oh man it's so hard), I'm going to spend the weeks leading up to Romania working and having fun, yes, but reading and relaxing and being still.

Monday, April 27, 2009

something about being real

So, I haven't blogged in a while. That's not exactly true--I wrote a blog last Wednesday, this weird hybrid thing between being frustrated and venting and being analytical. But then I felt like it was too much on the frustrated side to be kept up, and so I took it down. And I've been thinking about how I need to blog ever since then, but I haven't seemed to be able to do it because the things I'm thinking about feel like they're too much for up here. But then, what is this if not a place to be real?

Being in college, if nothing else, has taught me so much about myself. I know they say that, that you discover who you are and blah blah blah in college, and I don't exactly mean that. I just mean that I am (and am not) a lot of things I didn't realize until now. I am absolutely an introvert. But I love talking people, having real conversations about real things--and honestly, though I'm better at it now, I'm no good at small talk anyway. But then that's not true, exactly. Because I am awkward, painfully so, but I use it (sometimes well and sometimes not). I've got to have my downtime--usually I'm by myself reading or watching movies or reading blogs, but I can do it with other introverts and be okay--like with one of my roomates, Hodges, the two of us can be in a room all day with each other and both feel recharged while we both get drained from being with Alicia. Unless it's one of those days where her energy gets me going.

And then there's this thing about wanting to be real. This is true, but I think I've been tricking myself all along. I want to be real, I am real. I'm honest, and I'll tell you about these things that have happened in my life that should be hard for me to tell, that other people never talk about at all. But I'm beginning to wonder if it's what I think. If--and if this even makes sense--I'm being real but keeping it on a superficial level, some distance from myself. Being vulnerable, yes, but somehow removed. I'm hardly sure how that even works, except somehow I think I'm managing it.

I've been reading Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and there's a part in the book where he's being interviewed (actually it's a device, but--) and he talks about sharing these things of his, some awful, with the whole world.

"I give you all of the best things I have, and while these things are things that I like, memories that I treasure, good or bad, like the pictures of my family on my walls I can show them to you without diminishing them. I can afford to give you everything... These things, details, stories, whatever, are like the skin shed by snakes, who leave theirs for anyone to see. What does he care where it is, who sees it, this snake, and his skin?... None of this is mine. My father is not mine--not in that way. His death and what he's done are not mine. Nor are my upbringing nor my town nor its tragedies. How can these things be mine?... I own none of it. It is everyone's. It is shareware. I like it, I like having been a part of it, but I do not claim exclusivity. Have it. Take it from me. Do with it what you will. Make it useful. This is like making electricity from dirt; it is almost too good to be believed, that we can make beauty from this stuff."

I am losing nothing. I read this and I haven't been finished the book but I'm certain this will remain my favorite part. Because, with writing, this is exactly how I feel. When professors have wondered how I can share really personal things in stories or essays without hesitating. Well there's your answer. I'm not doing anything. It's not that I'm able to do anything better than anyone or that I'm being more real or anything--because what does the snake care?

I do care, but I'm saying that all this being real, it isn't what you think. And if anything, I wish I could close that gap. I just feel like there's something missing in it. And even as I write this I realize--here I'm thinking about sharing hard stuff, talking to people, younger students, that kind of thing--it can be done without any real connection. And often it is. I can show you this, I can bare all of me, and then you can do that too, and somehow, some unbelievable way, we can walk away without having connected, without feeling any closer to one another, without our lives touching at all. How is that? That skin has been shed. Here it is, look at it, you see? But it's no longer mine to be vulnerable with, it's no longer close enough to mean too much. And honestly, putting it out in a blog on the internet for anyone to see--well that makes it even less personal. Maybe that's why I removed the blog I wrote before? There's still plenty in me I haven't let anyone see, things that do stay close to the heart.

I was going to repost that blog. There are parts of it (the more thinking parts as opposed to the feeling parts) that I did want to share. So maybe I'll just edit some stuff and put up pieces. Honestly I'm not sure where to go with this. I know there's a level of privacy I want to maintain, but I also think that... I don't know, why do things happen except that we might share them, help one another, be encouraged?

Any thoughts?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


You ever feel like something is coming? I'm not talking about predicting things or clairvoyance or any of that weird stuff, but I'm talking about... I don't know, you can just feel something coming. You don't know what, but what amazes me about life is momentum of it all. It just keeps going. You have to keep rolling.

And it is momentum I'm talking about. Momentum in the way things happen. In the way you go to school and find out another of your classmates has been killed--this is the third time--and maybe you're able to pause, but life keeps going. How your world at home has turned upside down and things won't ever be the same, but you go to school the next day and the people move the way they did the day before, the way they'll continue to move, another step and another breath and so until you're moving with them and it pulls like the tide might. These are weak metaphors, but the observation remains. Tomorrow I will have breakfast with my friend, will take a final, will meet with my staffworker. And this is good. In any case, my brother's voicemail isn't anything severe enough to put the motions of my life here on hold.

But I come back to that word, that idea. I don't think we stop. Not for anything. Do we? Maybe I've got this all wrong, I pretty frequently have. Where I empty one space, it fills back in with something else. If I leave for my mother's house right now, it will not still be Wednesday when I return, nor will anyone or anything else have been anywhere except where they may or may not have been anyway regardless of whether or not I left. We recognize things, we memorialize them, but there's this constant spinning of the planet, rotating toward another thought, another commute to work, another thing that will pass. There you have your adage. Life indeed goes on.

I'm not suggesting that it not. And neither am I saying that this movement be anything other than what it is. More on that later. Life keeps going, to the point where it builds and sometimes you can feel it coming, growing bigger and bigger and faster. So we roll with it. I don't mean ''suck it up,'' ''deal with it.'' I mean grow, learn to use the movement. Write it out. What else?

And so this is the part where the only answer there could possibly be is:

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." --Psalm 46:10

"About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters;
how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on."
--W.H.Auden, Musee Des Beaux Arts

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


"I have no idea how people function without near-constant internal chaos. I'd lose my mind."
--Dave Eggers

Friday, April 17, 2009

reminders 1, 2 & 3

Crazy Sara,

Here's the deal. I've got some things for you. Just some things I've been thinking about lately, things you should think about, keep in mind.

First, I know right now you're tired of school, you can't wait for Romania. You can't wait for about a hundred different things, and you're excited about every single one of them. And I know that school is overwhelming and you're frustrated with it, you're ready for something bigger--but I'm saying wait. Pause for a moment and look around. You see this? It's only here now. I'm not talking about ''you're only in college once,'' because while that's certainly true, I mean more than your college experience. I mean your conversations with your roommates, running into friends on campus. Being surprised that Bohemian Rhapsody is on your mp3 player because you'd forgotten and singing it out loud while walking home on a day way too cold for April. I mean that life isn't connect the dots, and you can't forget it. It's not making it from one dot to the next, one life goal to another. Don't you remember how frustrated you were in August, how much you didn't want to follow the same steps all your friends did as they graduated--it was good for them, but it wasn't what you wanted, you wanted something different. But neither is it swinging from Colombia to Mexico to Romania, and then where next? The in between isn't filler. The in between is what you're living, it's now and it's just breathing, it's saying thank you. I'm talking about not wasting now by living for something that, ultimately, you aren't living. Maybe you will be or you have, but are is neither of those--you know how that goes, you've heard it already. But remember it.

Second, you may not love Romania. In fact, you may have a horrible time there. Those three and a half weeks that don't seem nearly long enough now might be the hardest, longest weeks you've been through. You know how you are about food, how you'll hardly touch most vegetables. You know how picky and ridiculous you are, how difficult it's already been to eat Romanian food. I don't know and you don't know what it'll be like. It may be perfect--I'm guessing that it won't be. But what I'm saying is don't build it up too much. This is a wonderful, exciting, amazing opportunity, and hopefully you'll have an incredible time, and hopefully God will stretch you and teach you and bless you. I think God will do those things either way, but it might not be the way you want. This has the potential--the likelihood--to be really difficult and trying. And good. I'm just saying, don't build it up too much, be careful with your expectations because if you're not, the crash is going to be big and ugly and not fun at all.

And third. "I pray that God would surprise you with the joy he has waiting for you." You remember that? Your God is a faithful one. He is a God who heals and restores and makes good. This school year has been that. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy." (Psalm 30:11) How true that is, and how great is your God! Praise him because he is seeking after you and holding you and saving for you a place to be with him always. He is doing big things in your life, and only wants to bring you closer to himself. Your heart is his concern, your future is his. Sara, your God loves you infinitely and he chose you and he wants to fill you with joy and hope and promise. And he has redeemed you. "Fear not, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 43:1 And he chose you to glorify him because of his love for you. So remember that while he gives you joy, he also takes the things that are hard and that hurt and that you don't understand and he uses them to show you how great he is, how much he loves you, how much he wants you as his own. He is a God who delights in restoring relationships, even ones with twenty year gaps. So remember that in this, though it might be years in coming, he will bring about goodness and joy. He's your father, your God. This is your hope, Sara, and it is in him.

Most sincerely,
the T in your INTP,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

if you couldn't already tell what's on my mind

Then here it is:

Also, I just realized that I basically forgot Indonesia when drawing the world. It sort of became a bunch of dots that are supposed to be islands, but since the (main) Indonesian islands are bigger... sorry. If it makes it any better, I've got a birthmark on my back shaped like Sumatra turned on its side.

That said, I can't wait to see how I feel about Romania once I'm there, once I'm back, once I've actually knownseensmelledheardtouchedfeltlongedfor&loved that country. It'll be interesting for me to come back to this, to see how really I had no idea at all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours. "
--History Boys

Sunday, April 12, 2009

going going going

I have a crazy imagination. I always have, and it's always gotten me into a ton of trouble. I've been spending my Easter break doing little more than watching season eight of ER and reading, emphasis on the first, and so right now all I can think about are a hundred different scenarios that would land me in the hospital and how the wonderful doctors and nurses would take care of me and how it would all play out afterward. I'll have to think of really good one to put on here. Currently, the roommate, who has been watching ER with me, is also blogging about ER. You should read it.

I'm so bad, though. I mean, I'm always talking about going out with a bang. Not actually always talking about it, but when it comes up, that's usually the arguing stance. I figure I'm gonna go when I'm gonna go, and there's not much changing that. Maybe I just like to climb on things and jump off things and go running around during hurricanes and taking advantage of my right of way as a pedestrian at a crosswalk even if a car's coming (quickly) because even if they hit me I had the right away. Right away is such a strange expression.

Speaking of, I think about that kind of thing constantly. I've been doing it more and more since I've been learning more spanish, and I think basically I'm in perma-language mode. But think about that. I mean, I suppose it's true for most expressions, but it makes little sense to me, much less someone who doesn't speak English natively. Actually, just kidding, I'm an idiot. Right of way. Not right away, right of way. Okay, well it still doesn't make complete sense, denotatively. I mean, I think I love language for that reason--of course there are a hundred others, but that's one of those reasons. When I have kids one day, it's going to blow my mind when they start talking. Language acquisition and all, oh man. Absolutely fascinating. I'm gonna be like, holy crap my kid is forming sentences. In one of the episodes of ER I saw today Dr. Corday was saying goodbye to her baby Ella and she and the babysitter were kind of trying to teach her to say it. And I guess that makes sense to me. When people leave they always say goodbye, so first you learn that you should say it then, and at some time later you won't ever remember (or if you do please write about it because that could be a powerful story or essay or whatever, probably really sad but beautiful and those are the best, says the romantic) it becomes a meaning and not just a cue. It becomes a feeling and an emotion and a hundred memories. And it's just a sound. You're just a baby and it's just these weird gigantic people around you making all these sounds at you all the time and then one day you start to use them and one day they start to shape your whole world. That is why I love words. Really.

You know what? This felt like the most random and pointless and meaningless post ever and now I feel a little better, like I said something actually worth saying.

And now back to the random: This really has been an amazingly relaxing Easter break. Absolutely unproductive, and dang near perfect because of it. Oh crap, now I'm thinking about the performance I have in less than a week and the scholarship I have to fill out and send out in a few days and three more weeks of please let this be over classes and then possibly failing one of them (seriously? Yes, seriously. I'm hopeless.), but bump that. No. I don't think so. Right now it's just Romania in the summer and Rockbridge in a month, the summer filled with working and MarioKart parties and hanging out in the sun, house being way too hot all the time. The south end of Wrightsville before the sun goes down and all the orientations with the new freshmen who look older than I do. I can't wait till summer. Only a few more weeks.

And you know what else? I keep having these things I want to blog about and then I don't get around to it or I'm not in the right mood or there's some reason, some thing that keeps me from doing it. One of those things was how the other day I talked to Alicia's dad and little brother on the phone (in spanish, baby--and we understood each other, bam!) and her dad asked me when I was going to come back, if I was going to come in June. Now, the thing for me with Hispanic people is that in all the presentational culture-y stuff, a lot of times I don't know if the things they're offering are just formalities or if they're actual offers. I think he meant it, but I can't be sure. And I was all excited about the chance of flying down there for two weeks, and I would love more than anything to go. But I think, because of a few different things, that I'm going to have to wait this time. So there's that.

I don't know about the rest. It's all Sun Drop induced. It's off the wall. It's hey now run on sentence, throw a comma or a period in there please, I'd like to breathe when I read, but nono, this is how I think and this is how you'll get it even if it seems like my brain is throwing up onto the page sometimes, and my r key has been sticking the whole time but at least I've backspaced and edited for that, so if it doesn't make sense, just remember how hard it would be if there weren't any r's--it's all about thinking about the right thing, right?

I feel like this is my life. That it's going to be something like this. Two days ago I got my hair cut without much pre-consideration. I just did it. Last summer I bought a plane ticket to Colombia on a whim. I've never been on either side of the fence with this--never been overly impulsive, but I haven't been too decided. That's not that exactly the right word, but whatever the adjective is for someone who carefully decides. Deliberate? No, but I feel like it begins with d. But my best decisions have been made when I decided to throw slow deliberation out the window and let go and just do things. When I stop worrying and over-analyzing. I got a dang amazing haircut. How awesome is that? I hardly ever like my haircuts, and this one I can't stop talking about. So maybe I'll do something else crazy. I've come full circle and I didn't even mean to. Maybe I'll keep jumping off things and letting go and being a little risky and living and dreaming, and maybe I'll do it unfiltered, all of me on my sleeves, crazy stream of conscious and making no sense at all, but going going going.

Friday, April 10, 2009

i cut my hair!

You can't really tell anything except that it's shorter in the pictures, but:

Thursday, April 9, 2009


"When we truly discover love, capitalism will not be possible and Marxism will not be necessary."
--Will O'Brien

Monday, April 6, 2009

this city

Well, I've got about a hundred different things I want to write about.

About three nights in a row I meant to write about how this city just feels like home to me. How the coast in general does, but particularly here. I've lived here longer than I've lived in any other place (or house/apartment) consecutively since I was twelve. It's that, I think, but it's the familiarity that that's brought. That sense of I've-already-been-here. Better, it's-that-time-of-year-again-already? I've begun to feel Wilmington, I know it's rhythms.

I know that in early January, right after the new year, there's almost always a warm spell. How in the coldest part of winter, if you walk off campus around five the sky through the trees looks like it might have caught fire, and that really those are the warmest days of the year. That we have a fifth season called yellow pollen season and it comes in March and after that we all start showing up to classes (or not showing up) with sunburned faces. Then school gets out and the storms come. Warm rain and warm wind and the way the air feels in our apartment as summer comes. It's the box fan running at night I think of, mostly, and it's because it stretches back to when I was a kid and we'd lay on the floor at the babysitter's and try to sleep but it was too hot and the fan sounded like someone mowing the lawn outside if you tried to picture it. And then there's hurricane season, checking every hour once something's formed off of Africa and it looks promising. Hoping for once it'll come. And then sometime around Halloween, sometimes before and sometimes after, you'll start getting cool days. And then your fingertips feel like ice. And then you hunker down for winter, southern winter that still seems to take forever.

I can tell you that the ocean is still warm enough to put your feet in around Thanksgiving. And that on certain days after it rains or there's been a storm offshore, you step outside and five miles inland you can smell the sound. And that if you learn to drive here, you're more aggressive than other drivers in other cities. How our city has a nearly visible economic and race line and you can blink while you cross it and open your eyes to another world.

It goes on. I know this city, I am coming to know it. It's becoming home.

Now, this isn't related but real quick: I've got tentative Romania dates. We meet July 8th, fly out the next day, and then fly back August 5th. So it's really short--shorter than any of the other trips by at least three weeks. I'm a little disappointed about that and I know it'll fly by, but I also know it would have flown by had it been two months. And really I am excited. STIM was wonderful this weekend, and I couldn't have asked for a better team. I can't wait.