Tag Archives: writing

Brace Yourselves

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Autumn is coming.

Autumn is coming and I am prepared.

All of my sweaters are condensed into one drawer. A pair of second-hand leather oxford shoes arrived in the mail today. My flannel shirts are hung in my closet with care. I’m knitting a long, warm scarf.

I bought one of those crazy Peruvian patchwork jackets for a fraction of its original cost because the zipper doesn’t zip. I’ve wanted one for years, but didn’t want to shell out the $40 to own one. This one is forest green and orange and pink and covered in vine-like embroidery and looks like fall itself and was only $8. It’s hanging by my door, begging to be worn on long walks and shuffles through heaps of crackling leaves. Who cares if it won’t zip? I never zip my jackets anyway, not unless it’s really cold.

My colorful clogs have been sitting in a bin by the door, waiting. Just waiting.

I’m born again every fall. I write more. I think more. I breathe more. I take more walks. I drink more coffee. I’m freer, wilder. I wear my hair down after months of doing everything in my power to keep it off of my neck. I can see everything more clearly.

Autumn gives me hope.

The air cleans itself up. The sky gets bluer. It’s harder to think about all the awful things going on in the world when it’s autumn.

Autumn has always been about fresh starts and new beginnings. Every school year starts in fall. Every new term starts with a new stack of books and new pens and pencils and notebooks. All those blank pages, so crisp and full of potential. All those heavy books, too thick to devour in one bite, that must be taken in piece by piece until they’re a part of you.

Autumn means new adventures. Although I’ve never done much traveling in Autumn (and I probably never will), my mind travels with a little help from a lot of books, and that is usually enough.

I love Autumn.

Which is why this unrelenting heat is unbearable on almost a spiritual level. It was 95 degrees outside today. Ninety-five. My soul is ready for bonfires and marshmallows and pumpkin spice lattes, and it’s 95 DEGREES OUTSIDE.

But I’m hopeful. It’s supposed to rain next week. Rain means a cold front. Rain means a change in pressure. Rain brings change. Rain brings the autumn.

And I’m ready.

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Sick Day

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Last week, I wished I could get sick.

I’m one of those people who really likes being alone. By “alone,” I don’t mean going to busy places by myself, shopping by myself, driving by myself (although all of those activities can be very therapeutic). No, I like to be by myself, in a quiet room, doing quiet activities. All alone.

I don’t get to do that. Being alone might happen for a few hours on Saturday. Might. I spend most of my waking hours around other people. While I’m sure that’s probably very good for me, I don’t get much time to recharge.

But, I reasoned, if I get sick, then I’ll have an excuse to stay home, not leave my apartment, not talk to people, and do whatever creative stuff I want. Aside from being sick, I thought, I’d have a mini vacation.

One week later, I am sick. Not deathly ill. I was sicker back in January when a cold erupted into a mongrel flu-sinus-infection hybrid that floored me for weeks and also somehow gave me insomnia. No, this time I have a fever and a headache and decreased appetite. Piece of cake.

I mean, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. But other than that, I’m great.

I got a whole day to knit and write and read. I’ve taken two bubble baths in the last 24 hours. I’ve dived into a stack of Poets & Writers I’ve been meaning to catch up on for months. I wrote in my journal. I cranked out six inches of a double-knit scarf.

Funny how something as seemingly inconvenient as a sick day can turn out to be such a blessing in disguise.

Of course, my first day of classes is tomorrow, and I don’t want to miss it. So there’s that.

If only I could have gotten sick a week ago.

Not that I’m complaining of course.

Family of Three

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No, we don’t have a kid. Nor will we for the foreseeable future.

I’ve discovered I need to clarify that as often as possible.

But we do have a typewriter.

The typewriter belonged to a faculty member at Undisclosed University who, after a long and successful career as a teacher, had decided to retire. She is a published author, and as far as I know hasn’t given up on writing (she just released a new novel in the past year and has a contract with one of the larger publishing houses). At the end of this semester, she put out a table in the hallway outside of her office and started piling up books that she no longer wanted so passers by could take them away to good homes.

I walked away with an armload every time I walked by. My husband (a graduate assistant at UU) had his office right across from her, and gathered a few books for himself as well. We’re not the kind to pass up on free books.

One afternoon I came home to find my husband parked at the dining room table brooding over a large metal object. He looked up at me, beaming.

“Look what I found!”

I looked. Before him was a large mechanical typewriter. It was in stellar condition. The word “ROYAL” was stamped in large silver letters above the keyboard.

That scene from You’ve Got Mail popped into my head: Meg Ryan coming home to what’s-his-face, the columnist, toying with a new typewriter at the kitchen table, and she points out that it’s only one of several.

“It was Mrs. Page’s,” he told me. “It’s in perfect condition.”

“Mrs. Page’s?” I gasped. She’s a published author. I took her introductory Creative Writing course when I was a sophomore in college. Her novels are excellent; she’s personal hero of mine.

We own her typewriter. The typewriter she used to draw up her first published manuscript. I don’t put much stock in the concept of luck, but I feel that surely now that I have her magical typewriter, anything written in this house is blessed with success by the spirit of the beautiful woman whose novels have touched so many hearts.

The typewriter is our baby. By “our,” I mean my husband’s. He found the user’s manual online in PDF format and studied it on and off for days. He bought a new ribbon for it on eBay. He sent hours figuring out how to set margins and indents–even how to make columns and line spacing. I found index cards with snippets of typed phrases scattered in odd places around our apartment for weeks.

“Look at it,” he said once or twice, “there’s no wires, no circuits, nothing! One hundred percent mechanical!” He’d hammer down a few keys, each keystroke sounding like the rapport of machine gun fire. “I want to use it to type out my papers next year.”

I made a mental note to buy some ear plugs.

So far this summer, it has sat quietly in a wicker chair, waiting the day it will move into my husband’s new office. But for now it waits, it’s mechanical calm encompassing so many of our hopes and dreams. For my husband, it seems to symbolize the possibilities and promise of a new semester at seminary. For me, it represents writing, and the hope that with a little determination and a little effort, I can be finish something, shove it over a transom, and hope for the best.

Write

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I remember where I started. I was a creative wriitng major whose time was consumed with course work which kept me from doing what I went to college to learn how to do well: write.

I started a blog to force myself to write.

And I have. I have written every day for four years.

Is writing easier now? Writing is never easy. Writing is hard work. Writing takes time and dedication and craftsmanship, all things which I’ve not always been able to apply here. Sometimes I wrote posts in the last thirty seconds before midnight. Sometimes I wrote posts days in advance. Sometimes I wrote with passions about something really important to me, and sometimes all I could brain out was a list.

But it is much easier to write what I really think. It is much easier to be honest and objective with myself than it used to be.

This blog has helped me realize I am far better at creative nonfiction than fiction. Far better at poetry than at short stories. Far better and pantoums than song lyrics.

Far better at being me than being anyone else.

I will not post tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure when i’m going to post here again–I haven’t gotten that far. I plan to publish the first post on my new blog on Friday, but the best laid plans of mice and men, so they say, oft go awry. If I start the new blog on Friday, I’ll be sure to put a link here.

I may not post. But I will write. I will always write. Old habits die hard.

I can’t stop now.

Faith

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After all, how else could I have survived the last four years?

Sure, there’s laughter. Laughter is one of the best survival tools ever implemented by man. Laughter is why this blog began. In person, at least, I’m really good at getting people to laugh. I’m even pretty good at getting myself to laugh at impossible or difficult circumstances.

But there are some things even laughter does not help or heal. And that’s where faith stepped in.

I was stuck in Croatia the day they joined the EU. Stuck in an airport surrounded by people who did not speak my language and could not explain why my flight was delayed, why I could not meet my connecting flight, and how I could possibly tell my parents where I was or why I wouldn’t be home on time, if I got home at all.

Fate could not have delayed my flight and landed me in the line to get my flight rerouted. Fate could not have put me in line behind the one person in the airport who was fluent in English and had a phone capable of calling my parents home number from Zagreb, Croatia. Fate could not have put me on a flight sitting next to an EU representative who was questioning his Greek orthodox faith and would let me open my Bible with him as we searched for answers to his questions.

God could. God did. God always will and always does.

The last four years have been a series of seemingly insurmountable odds. I could not have overcome them on my own. I could not have survived on my own. People will laugh at me, tell me of course I did it on my own, that my dependence on God is some kind of sick self-deprecating fantasy.

But it isn’t.

I didn’t do it alone because I am never alone.

God gets full credit for every last moment of it.

Fearless

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It’s easy to be fearless until you’re staring down the lion’s throat.

The thing about blank pages is that there are no limits. No limits but yourself. Yet that limit keeps us from dropping so much as a blob of ink on the page for fear that a blob out of place will send our lives into a downward spiral.

The future is our darkest enemy. It has no face, shows only its back, and is hidden by a cloud, darkly.

The future could keep us from doing anything, unless we choose to be fearless.

There are lions in the streets, we cry. But we are the lions.

But God shuts the lion’s mouths. We can walk unafraid. I can walk unafraid. No matter what happens, no matter the headlines, no matter the lions, I can walk toward the future and they won’t bite me.

Fear silences us, but faith lets us sing.

Fire

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The coals burn, and they burn steady. They may not light up the world, but they light up the little circle around them. And they keep the people close by warm.

You see, the last four years saw me extinguished and reignited. Before I started college hoping for little more than a degree to get me a job to get me a house far away from people, in the mountains, surrounded by trees. Part of me still wants the little cabin in the woods, and I visit occasionally but I can’t live there.

My feet don’t stop. I couldn’t run a mile once–now I can run three and a half. I couldn’t stand the thought of living anywhere but home, and now I want to make the world my backyard, the airport my living room. I want to run. And run.

And I am no longer content to be solitary. I am no longer content to be silent.

Once the coals start, they don’t stop burning. I want to warm everyone around me. I want to change things. I want to change myself, or see myself change, or whatever happens first.

I want to be a lighthouse and warn people about the rocks around them. I want to shine out truth so others can see it–whether they believe me or not. Whether they like me or not.

I want to be fearless.

Milestones

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I’ve been blogging for almost four years, and I didn’t even start a countdown.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I was four years ago. I’m not overfond of that version of myself, but one can’t deny one’s own history.

The me from five years ago…how that was a girl. Six years ago and my, my, you wouldn’t know me. I had so much fire.

Four years ago, I had no idea who I was anymore. I had my walls torn down and my foundation cracked and I was so confused. I had to start all over from the beginning.

That’s when I met me from three years ago. That’s a me I never want to forget. That’s a year I never, ever want to forget.

And the thing is, I won’t, I can’t. Because it’s all here, on the blog. Every day. There’s a snapshot here for every late night, every early morning, every road trip, every escapade. I even saw me fall in love on this blog.

This blog saw me graduate. This blog saw me start my first full-time jobs. This blog saw me married.

Me from six years ago wouldn’t recognize me now. I had so much fire then. Now I have coals.

But goodness knows coals burn hotter.

Success

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“Just How Rich Are the Kardashians?”

Apparently that’s a newsworthy headline. I saw it towards the bottom of the homepage of a news website I frequent. Next to the headline was a (photoshopped) image of Kim herself, her hair whipping dramatically around her allegedly flawless face. Thankfully just a headshot this time.

Because of course we are fascinated by successful people. We are fascinated by those who seem to have it all–the beauty, the money, the attention. How did they get where they are? Where are they going? How do they live their lives? What does one do with all of that money?

Because of course money equals success. Right?

I’d argue that if the only thing you’re good at is being pretty, and if that’s all you ever aspire to be–pretty and rich–then you’re missed the “success” mark by a mile.

I’d even argue you’ve missed if all you are is rich.

If “success” can be defined as simply meeting an established goal, then fine. Success acheived. But what else have you acheived?

Attention? That comes in droves. It follows money.

The most successful people I know are the ones who get very little attention and have very little money. But they do so much good. And they have so much love.

I’d rather be that sort of successful person. Any day.

Gifts

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We are unusually blessed as a couple. We have families that love us individually and together, distant relatives we gladly call our friends, a perfect wedding, a warm and happy home, employment…the list goes on. God has been good, for sure, because we certainly don’t deserve to have all that we do.

We were even blessed (abundantly) with wedding gifts. People gave us everything we asked for, everything we needed and didn’t know we did, and some extra nice things that we’dnever dream we’d own.

These weeks beging the process of thanking all of these lovely people.

However, some gifts seem to have mysteriously appeared. They had no card or name attached, and one had a card but no name. Process of elimination won’t let me figure out who they are–the list is too long, and there are too many variables.

So will the giver of the bag with the cookie sheets, bundt pan, wooden spoons, cake pans, and the 9×13 insulated baking pan, the bag with the navy blue towels, and the bag with the pizza stone please stand up?

Thank you so much, whoever you are.

It Was Like This

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There was a lot I was going to get done this afternoon after church.

I was going to write thank you notes to all the lovely people whogave us wedding gifts. I have a long list of people to thank, and the more I can get done the quicker I can, the better things will be.

I was also going to try an read a little. I love reading, and I never have time to sit down and read something that isn’t an email. I have a really long list of books I’ve read a few chapters from and had to set aside because of school. School is coming again, and even though I’ll only be taking one class, I know life will find ways of being busy and I won’t get to read anymore. Unless it’s for class.

I also wanted to write in my journal, which I haven’t touched since the night before the wedding. There’s a lot that needs recording (such as how the wedding went) but I haven’t had a moment to sit down and record all of those important memories.

But you see, it rained. It was Sunday afternoon, and it rained. A gentle, grey, cool rain that fell lullingly on the roof, on the grass, on the road outside my parent’s house where we were spending the afternoon.

I was forced to nap. I promised myself I would only sleep for thirty minutes, but I was in the coolest and greyest corner of the house, and my stomach was pleasently full, and there was the rain steadily drumming…

I had no choice but to sleep for two hours.

I’m sorry.

Long

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I had forgotten how long the first week after a vacation can be.

I had forgotten how quickly it feels as if last week was a year ago, or a dream.

Yet I was away long enough that my legs and lungs forgot how to run, and retraining myself back to a 5K, though it took less time than I thought it would, seemed very, very long. Retraining myself for yoga after weeks of not doing so much as a downward facing dog, was embarrassingly challenging.

My legs and arms ache a little from the effort.

My head wasn’t used to thinking about my job. I had to reteach myself the jargon and relearn where we keep everything in the file system. And that’s probably why my head hurts as much as it does.

It’s Friday. And that’s a beautiful thing.

But it took its sweet time getting here.

Organized Chaos

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Our apartment is hilariously tiny.

Imagine one slightly oversized hotel room. Now put a wall with one door down the middle. Slap a kitchenette on the back wall of one half and a closet and a closet-sized bathroom back to back on the back wall of the other half.

This glorious little box is our home.

Figuring out where to put things is a bit of a riddle. Thankfully, the closet is large for a closet, so our default answer for “where do we put this” is “the closet…somewhere.” Our large-ish closet is now not only our clothes closet, but also our linen closet, our utilities closet, our laundry closet, and remote storage for things that won’t fit in the kitchen.

Because space is so tight, it’s taken a while for things to filter into their proper places. There’s quite a bit under the bed (in boxes, of course, not haphazardly thrown), and there are still stacks of random items on the floor (which are constantly tripped over). What we want hung on the walls is sitting by the baseboards, waiting for us to have time to hang them, and a lot of our decor is plopped unstrategically around the apartment, waiting for the day when all the essentials will find a home so the aesthetics can settle into place.

I finally carved a path to my desk today. I arranged items on the desk into neat little piles for later sorting. If the desk can look clean, then there’s hope.

And I am quite content.

Perks of Having a Husband (At Least, Perks of Having MY Husband)

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  1. He’s good at surprises.
  2. He enjoys cooking. And the resulting meals are delicious.
  3. He has more experience doing laundry than I do.
  4. Free hugs.
  5. He’s handy with computers. And numbers. And I’m not.
  6. He comes with a Netflix account and a Spotify account.
  7. He carefully selects the music he’ll have playing when I get home.
  8. He’s good at installing or dismantling things, like taking down shower doors and replacing them with a shower curtain.
  9. He also enjoys sleeping with the AC going full blast and a fan on.
  10. He helps me write blog posts.