instead of sleeping

I couldn't sleep last night, even though I really wanted to. A line of poetry was giving me nightmares. Yesterday afternoon I had casually daydreamed the first line/concept of a poem I wanted to turn into my enwr class on tuesday, but I never wrote any of it down. Then, as I got cozy in bed last night, those ideas wouldn't stop nagging me, like they were afraid of getting lost before morning if they weren't made real on paper. So then I had to throw off my very cozy covers, turn on my blindingly bright lamp, and write. Sure enough, as soon as I finished and put my head back on the pillow, I was out.
so here is a very-early-morning, semi-awake, I-was-tired-and-frustrated poem:

A million words exist to tell you.
They pass me on the bus during
my morning walk, each staring,
each with helplessly straight momentum.
I smell exhaust, they breathe in.

I'm haunted by wide-eyes,
hair falling into faces, haunted
as the whole world flies by
the open palms of still-life tragedies.

They've got all these tiny-inside places
I made-up and love and fear.
To be polite, I have them over
at every meal.
They are awful guests.
(A million words can eat you out of house and home)

I will not join them.
I will not wave them down.
I will pass them in the mornings.
They see me, pull the chord.
I see you, forget my name.

the scooter lifestyle

Two of my good pals, Kirsten & Taylor, have recently created their own Scooter-gang. This means that they purchased two child-size Razor scooters and now ride them around everywhere they go. (Something that is, at times, hilarious to watch - especially last night when they surprised me in Alderman Stacks and exited by riding their scooters into the distance down the aisles of books)

I must admit, when they first started their gang, I was a bit jealous. I definitely remember when I was about 10 or 11 and I thought scooters were really cool. Consequentially, I also remember the day I stopped thinking scooters were really cool. It happened immediately after an event that went something like this.

little 10-year-old Emily: Oh hey, how cool is this silver razor scooter? I totally bet Lizzie McGuire has one exactly like this. OMG, look at me! I’m going down the driveway. HEY MOM! LOOK AT ME! I’M GOING DOWN THE DRIVEWAY!! DO YOU SEE ME? MOM, DO YOU SEE ME?? Yeah, this is awesome. I’m awesome. Justin Timberlake would SO want to date me if he could see how cool I look right now. Wow, this is kinda fast! Neat-o! Look at that puddle! I’m totally gonna go through it because that will make me even more awesome. OK, here I go! YAY that was so fun! I love getting splashed by puddles! Whoa, I am going really fast! Hey look, the driveway ends! Alright, time to break. Hey, why am I not slowing down? I think Taylor said something about not getting the wheels wet, but I thought he was just tricking me so that he would be the only one to look cool going through puddles. OH NO, I’m not stopping……I’m still not stopping……AHHHHHHH! (and that is when my inner dialogue cut off and I proceeded to hit a bump at the end of the driveway, fly off the scooter and skid across the pavement, unable to stop until I began rolling down the hill right across from the driveway that leads into the woods)

Moral of this blog post: never ride scooters through puddles. No matter how cool it might make you look.

to new eyes

I walked to my 8am this morning in a state of frenzy. My thoughts were rushed with: a paper, a physics midterm I desperetly need to do well on, a discussion ahead of me that I don't feel awake enough to get through, boots that are really slippery and I shouldn't have worn for risk of falling, people I need to remember to get back to, lunch dates I want to set up, halloween costume to create, house cleaning I need to do.....AH.

and then I looked past the roof of Bryan Hall and I gasped. When did those rolling mountains creep up into the distant landscape back there? How do I miss it every morning I walk that way? It was beautiful. I had to stop for a second to get the view- the light that was misty and soft, the way the moist air seemed to mute the colors of the trees far off, the spotlight of position and sun that hugged in this scene. I was swept away by it, carried far away from my frenzy and my slippery boots and from the people walking past who so often stress me out too. I was in a moment, and it was a good one.

Here was a wake-up call from the Creator, a screaming, loving acclamation of "HEY I am good and I am here and I am BIGGER than all of this and YES, you need me." Here was something beautiful, as if for me alone, that made everything in my day seem trival. I ached for it.

It hit me then that I was made to be swept away by THAT. Daily, I allow myself to be taken by stress and busyness, and I wonder why it makes me feel like I'm suffocating, makes me feel like I'm walking around in a stranger's house, makes my own reflection blurry and ugly. It is because I was not created for that life. I was created to have JOY simply because the world is beautiful and because I was made as a part of that and because God is good ALWAYS - even in that paper and midterm and house cleaning. He is good. Always.

I don't want to be broken by chaos and busyness. I want to be broken by God's glory and His love. I want to feel empty without it, desperate to glimpse it, ill if I miss it. I want to rest in that place, in the mountains past Bryan Hall. I don't think rest exists elsewhere.
so here it is to new eyes - ones that are open to finding the things we were meant to be swept away by.

it's the little things that....totally annoy me.

It's the middle of the week. and I woke up super early. and I have SO much work to do. and therefore, I feel justified in making a list of things that bug me. deal with it. :)

1) getting a pack of starbursts and finding that the majority of them are yellow
2) when we are out of knifes in my house and I have to get one all the way out of the dishwasher and wash it. super lame.
3) when my shoes become untied on a rainy day and the laces get all gross.
4) egg-salad.
5) people who walk slowly
6) squirrels
7) twangy male country vocalists
8) when you put a really good song as your cell-phone alarm and then end up hating that song because it reminds you of waking up
9) when you get really excited about eating some toast, but then burn the toast
10) that one cartoon Pinky & the Brain.


I've been thinking lately about what it means to create - whether that be a poem or a song or a piece of art. Where does it come from? How do artists manage it, when the result always seems so beyond us, causes awe much greater than it makes sense for humans to produce? As I was wondering these things, I recalled a talk I watched a few months back about the creative process that really struck me. It's given by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love....I could go on and on about my mixed feelings towards that book, but this talk is actually really great I think) and brings up some super intriguing points.
The idea that beautiful things don't come from us but are given to us is so powerful. I love thinking about the creative process as simply a chance for one to be used, to serve, to shed light on the world - and I think that when we acknowledge that we ourselves are not big enough for that, when we say that maybe our creativity is in fact God's gift, it's a pretty cool thing.
If you have the time, take a look at this talk. My favorite part is right in the middle, where she talks about the poet Ruth Stone and how she used to chase down poems as they came barreling at her from the landscape.
pretty cool stuff.



Chopping wood.
(step, swing, impact, fall, roll, quiet)
Everyday he works.
Everyday his hands grow rough
and everyday he learns-
Chopping wood.
Here the garden gains color,
and then the walls,
and then the fireplace rises out of something.
Multitudes of windows
melt down, arms thrown around sun rays.
Here dust naps on the mantle,
the kitchen table, the light inside
to fill and to be sure.
The land he chooses
is here along the river bank,
is here against the flesh of her palm.

beauty in the eye of the camera-holder?

I've gotta be real- I stink at taking photos. Seriously. Photography is awesome & I appreciate it, but I can't do it. Maybe I've just never had a really nice camera or maybe I'm just photographically-challenged. I'm not sure the cause, but I always feel slightly ashamed that the photographs I take aren't more awe-inspiring.
That being said, I was looking through some old pictures today and having a good laugh. Sometimes my pictures are so completely off center or out of focus (and not in an "artsy" way) that it is hilarious. Other times they are super blurry, as if I was flailing my arms about madly as I captured the picture. But then I stopped after awhile and thought, "Hey, these awful pictures are actually"
Here are a few from my "awful" selection that I'm kind of starting to appreciate. (and if they really are bad, maybe you can just humor me)

"when you are old & gray..."

Today my friend Ellen & I sat in Shenandoah Joe's most of the afternoon to do some work. Whenever we do this, it ends up turning into more of a people-watching session than a productive excursion. Today was extra special. We ended up sitting down at this cluster of chairs & a few minutes after we arrived, an older couple came and sat down next to us. Hearing snippets of their conversation was a truly lovely & hilarious experience.

Mrs. funny old person: Well what should we do today?
Mr. funny old person: oh gosh, I don't know....should we look in the papers?
Mrs: wait, I thought we had the day pretty well mapped out already.
Mr: well, maybe we should look anyway
Mrs: Oh will you look at this recipe for pot roast?! I would love to make a pot roast!
Mr: mmmhmmm
Mrs: wouldn't that be great, if I made a pot roast?
Mr: mmmmhmmm
Mrs: this says something about Metallica.. . what in the world is Metallica?
Mr: It's a band! They are pretty big time actually.
Mrs: Really? I've never heard of them.
Mr: Oh yes, I'd say they've sold more records than just about anybody.
Mrs: heavens! well what do they sound like?
Mr: It is called "Heavy Metal"
Mrs: will you look at that rain outside? Let's go to White Oak!
Mr: But you just said that it was raining outside.
Mrs: Oh I don't care. let's go anyway. It's beautiful up there.
Mr: I can't.
Mrs: Oh right because of your problem
Mr: Oh look, it says the ice hockey team is playing! Would you want to go see an ice hockey game?
Mrs: No I would not. Oh goodness, this pot roast recipe calls for apples! Wouldn't that just be great?

oh, old people. gotta love them.
I cannot wait until my husband & I are old and take our saturdays together & sit around asking "what now?"even if some young people laugh at us & write blogs about our silly conversations.

shout out to: Awkward

I enjoy awkwardness. not really. that was a lie. I just started this off awkwardly....great. OK, what I meant to say is - I enjoy the side-effects of awkwardness - when you walk away from a situation grimacing and thinking to yourself "did THAT just happen?" but then get to laugh a lot and share the funny story with friends. it's the best, really. but in the moment, it's kind of the worst.
to salute the double-edged sword of awkward things (OK, even the spelling of awkward is awkward...what kind of word has two "w's"??), I thought I would post a short list of common awkward moments we can all relate to.
if you happen to experience one of these today, I encourage you simply to celebrate it. plus, chances are that somewhere, somehow, I am experiencing something ten times more awkward, because that is just my life.

1) Holding the door open for someone when they are awkwardly far away (this is doubly embarrassing because it kills two birds with one awkward stone. Holding the door open always results in you standing for a ridiculously long time at a door while putting the person you are holding said door for in an awkward position. should they run up so you don't have to wait longer? or should they try to say thanks while still far away, and then walk to the door at normal speed? plus side of this moment- it is always hilarious when the person you are holding the door for tries to run for it while carrying lots of boxes or wearing a bookbag or something)

2) Hugs (hugs can be super awesome. but they can also be super awkward. especially when you go in for a hug but both lean the same way and end up head butting... . or smooching)

3) The moment after you fall down (Falling down is embarrassing enough as it is. but what is truly awkward is when you fall down and it actually really hurts. Then you are stuck trying not to cry while everyone asks you if you are alright. not only must you squeak out some sort of response while holding back tears, but you also know that everyone at that moment is trying very hard not to laugh at you)

4) Stuck in a sweatshirt (This really is bad news. It is awkward when you try to take off a sweatshirt but it gets stuck around your arms. and then it takes your shirt off with it or something.....double the awkward. the worst is that you know it's happening but can't stop it. and as much as you want to hide in the sweatshirt and never come out again, you know that you must eventually emerge)

5) Texting someone you didn't mean to text (especially when you're like "Hey are you going to go to Jane's birthday party? I don't really think I want to because it will probably be lame." and then you get a text back that says "Hey this is Jane.")

awkward family photos bring me much joy. check them out.

some sad thursday poetry

A Thursday in the sun & he lost his change for coffee.
It was a small thing,
the $3.62 she spared.
It was a small thing,
their falling in love.
It happened shortly after some long afternoons,
when they were drunk on sun and had
finished laughing too hard.
She knew she liked that he could dance
and had memorized Yeats and had a
dimple in his smile that she knew she liked.

Sometimes they would go somewhere nice
and dance until two or three or four.
Then once they went somewhere nice
and his knee found the floor and she was happy.
Then later they went somewhere nice
and the Clocks danced but only knew the foxtrot
and they made the rhythm all wrong.

And then the leaves were burning.
And then the ground was dying.
And then, painfully, new things were sprouting
And she wanted just-
couldn’t wait just to hum lullabies.

Instead they slept in a graveyard of
long afternoons and Yeats poems and slowly
she would read the inscription overhead:
“the $3.62 you spared.”

-I am super intrigued by these images from
Jesse Kuhn Watch them as a slideshow. . . it's lovely.

a season-struggle

I adore most aspects of fall- the crispy leaves, the smell of bonfires, pulling the sweaters down from the tippity-top of the closet. but to be honest, I have been feeling this pull in the pit of my stomach lately & today I found the source: I am summer sick. I must confess it. as excited as everyone is for the change of season, I just keep wishing we could go back to laying in the sunshine & having long afternoons & swimming & wasting time. So in the spirit of wallowing in my own summer-pity (& in the spirit of wanting to update this blog daily despite having very little time today to do so) I thought I would simply post a short entry from my summer journal. Farewell, sweet summertime.

[july 17 2009]
I sat on my front porch steps today after a jog & watched the fireflies. I wasn't planning on it, but I just sat there because I realized it was a gift - the quiet, the trace of light, the sticky air snug around me, the feeling of everything being alive & present & full. I laid down so my back was flat against the cool-ish stone floor & thought I could die like that. It wasn't a morbid moment or anything, just a thought that when I go I want it to be in a simple beautiful minute like that one; me being so fully aware of my body & the little sounds of the yard & the comfort in being alone. It was nice & it was strange. Maybe it was more just a desire for the stillness that was there. There is something about the front porch in the dimming light that leads me to quiet, and I can't typically find that without a struggle. I should say thank you to the sunset & to the cold gray floor of the porch, too.

Ode to Velveeta cheese slices

I love you sixteen times
a single serving size-
o the joy of plastic skin & perfect squares!

The frying pan glares
and burnt bread defeats me
in the trashcan.

But you, my lovely portion-
you lay gently on the slices
and I cannot forget your ways.

I enjoy you day after day after day!
so simple & constant & pure-
in other things I cannot be sure...

that block of cheddar giggles in the fridge
remembering the last time I smidged & failed
to make a sandwich- but there you were!

Success! your grilled cheese makes me feel dance-y
I put you in tomato soup-
oh see! now I am fancy.

- my delicious meal of tom-soup plus velveeta cheese. I'm freakin' Giada de Laurentiis over here!