A Moveable Feast

“And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter.” -Sylvia Plath

I share the astonishment of wounded stars,

spellbound in their wandering courses,

held blithely captive to wonder.

To be seen, to be known.

The petals drop slowly, rhythmically even,

until quintessence alone remains,

perched on fragile stem.

To be chosen, to be loved.

I partake of a sumptuous repast

where brokenness leads

to no loss of appetite.

To be embraced, to be set free.

Titus Andronicus: Act II, Scene IV

I am not Lucrece. I am not Lavinia.

You cannot cut out my tongue

if the truth of the words that I speak

causes you discomfort,

if the way that I unapologetically carry myself

brings you unease.

You cannot minimize my significance.

You cannot trample upon my flame.

You cannot silence me

for, when I speak,

I verbalize the communal pain

of thousands upon thousands.

Muteness would be mutiny,

and that is an act I refuse to perform.

Aubade

I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the wilderness; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and the storm.'” Psalm 55:6-8

The Nesting

“But you are not a dove.” The reproachful echo resounds, echoing in my skull.

And yet, so often, I cling to my perceived agency, gaze firmly upon the skies.

I fixate in formulaic verbosity; I validate my foibles and fears.

Daydreams of nostalgic yesterday oft overtake present joys.

Phantom pains from missing wings skeletally ricochet.

Now I pluck at twigs, yearning to create something new, to find contentment here.

The Singing

Fragile frame. Twinkling song. Sharp, observant eyes.

The nightingale welcomes me into her nest, and I humbly accept.

“What’s your story?”

An inquisitive tilt of the head, expectant.

The words are slow, manifesting like molasses.

They are elusive, shifting in shadows I cannot grasp.

Yet the silence is somehow entirely right, and I need not rush to fill it.

I sip my tea, breathe in, and begin.

The pause just before birdsong greets the dawn.

Reverie

An insurgent breath, recoils, trembles, returns, swallowed back up by my greedy lungs

          as the train deafeningly gallops into the station,

                                                                                                and my eyes flutter closed.

                                                                I float delectably, daringly close to danger, suspended.

Do you want to know what the secret is?

Sometimes I do not feel real.

                    It arrives as a pleasant surprise when my heart instinctually begins to pound,

                                                when the counterfeited bitter wind stubbornly tosses my curls,

                                        when I encounter a thousand crystalline kisses falling from the sky.

I shiver, and I smile.

Sometimes I do not feel real,

but tonight I most certainly do.

Attacking My To-Read Pile

To properly kick off 2018, I read eight books over Christmas break!

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf  [✭ ✭ ✭]

Eloquent. Modern. Candid.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  [✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭]

Riveting. Illuminating. Moving. Refreshing. Beautiful.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern  [✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭]

Magical. Suspenseful. Mysterious. Satisfying. Extraordinary.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jonny Sun [✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭]

Imaginative. Engaging. Heartwarming. Endearing. Unforgettable.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur  [✭ ✭]

Unoriginal. Repetitive.

Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark  [✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭]

Vulnerable. Entertaining. Witty. Charming. Delightful.

The Stream & The Sapphire by Denise Levertov  [✭ ✭ ✭]

Worshipful. Rich. Thoughtful.

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates  [✭ ✭ ✭ ✭]

Intense. Gripping. Ingenious. Thrilling.

Roots & Resolutions: 2018

Grow

  • Be renewed by frequent time in the Word.
  • Journal daily; process, reflect, and pray.
  • Travel. (London, England: May 2018)

Nurture

  • Exercise at least 2x a week (go to the rink, attend yoga class, etc).
  • Make reading for enjoyment a constant priority.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Blog more consistently, aiming for a new post every weekend or so.

Prune

  • Spend less time on social media.
  • Consume less sweet treats — only on weekends or special occasions.
  • Save the earth and forgo being a carnivore on Meatless Mondays.

Foggy Thoughts

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
-Fog, Carl Sandburg

 

Muffled, the fog creeps in — relentless, stifling, enveloping all in its path. Time seems to halt, perhaps in reverence or perhaps in fear. Suddenly, you realize you have not breathed in days. Since the fog came. Lampposts appear in the grey mist as if faraway stars, yet they do not twinkle and burn. Still, they seem too distant, too otherworldly to touch. Buildings grow unfamiliar, hulking in the ever-dusk. The cold comes, or maybe it never left. You are no longer sure.

Disjointed hands. Friction. Heat. A flicker of life, and repeat.

The words freeze on your tongue. A lone train wails, unseen.

Shivering, speculating, succumbing.

You can no longer remember what it was like

before the fog came.

• [A poetic experiment in the correlation between the prevailing weather conditions and one’s mirrored mental state, inspired by Carl Sandburg and Ethan Frome.] •

 

Little Things

With needle and thread, with pen and paper, with a typewriter’s clacking keys, I attempt to string together the little things — the hiccups and heartbeats — so that no infinitesimal moment escapes me. However, capricious memory slips like lackluster sand through the gaping space between my grasping fingers, and so I languish.

I hold on as best I can; I learn to content myself with letting go.

A single dollar abandoned on the concrete. Just for me? I like to think so. A man in the grocery store complimenting my smile, asking if it is always there. A mother, with her arms laden with piles of books for her children, directs a tender smile at me and wishes me a wonderful day after I simply pause to open a door. An impromptu bouquet of flowers in my hand, clandestinely plucked. An essay — ripe in its utter completeness.

He speaks to me in ways so grandiosely minute; I try to listen.

Home?

Today, it dawned on me at last: I am a college student.

I was sitting peacefully in SAGA when it happened, strategically placed in a quieter corner of the cafeteria near a sunny window overlooking the verdant softball field below. There was a cheery mug of Earl Grey tea tenderly cupped in my palm (to which I had added honey and a dash of soy milk with great expertise) that was softly radiating warmth, and I was intently hunched over, studying the pages of The Oresteia in all its beauty and horror and intricacy, furiously highlighting, underlining, and starring countless phrases out of pure excitement and enjoyment of the gripping ancient text. And then I suddenly halted — awestruck. I was still alive after over a month of independence; I was successfully navigating Wheaton College. On my way to the crowded cafeteria, and even amidst the harried process of finding an unoccupied table, I was able to spot numerous kind, familiar faces in the sea of ravenous humans. To my left, a girl from my French class that very morning who has mastered quite an impressive accent. (C’est magnifique!) To my right, a compassionate girl from my residence hall floor that had once generously transported my car-less freshman self to a nearby Target without hesitation. These people that I am now beginning to distinguish among the masses have names and stories, strengths and weaknesses, moments of great vulnerability and triumphs; I am finally beginning to realize that truth. We are all undeniably interconnected, even in the most seemingly insignificant of ways.

So, I continued on, feeling just a bit lighter and as if the world was somehow reborn anew as a noticeably friendlier place. I successfully checked my CPO box, no longer helplessly fumbling with the clumsy lock or struggling to recall the digits of my combination; I paused to admire blooming flowers along the concrete path that I trod as I thoughtfully weighed the benefits of various studying locations in my mind — fully oriented with no need of a campus map or spoken direction.

As apprehension ebbs into a form of assuaging familiarity, I ponder: could this be home?

France Trip Itinerary

I have been oddly reluctant to blog about my recent exciting adventure across the Atlantic, and I believe I have at long last figured out why: I don’t want to admit it’s over. My trip to Paris was breathtakingly beautiful in every sense, full of heavenly pastries, priceless masterpieces aplenty, and memorable encounters with some truly lovely locals. Paris, France exceeded all of my expectations. Every fresh morning brought with it the dreamlike feeling that one was within a charming classic film from the 1950s. I nearly expected to stumble upon Audrey Hepburn singing and exploring the sights, as she did in Funny Face. Though this was indubitably mere wishful thinking, it cannot be denied that the sprawling city has an inimitable, magnetic atmosphere; it seems as if absolutely anything can happen in Paris.

Before you travel abroad, I strongly recommend planning far in advance: research the varying costs of flights and which airports you may be traveling through (while remembering to consider respective layovers), learn key phrases in the primary language of the place you will be visiting (if it differs from English), investigate whether the sights you long to see are free or charge admission fees, exchange any cash currency you may be carrying with you for currency you can freely spend while abroad, etc. I began planning AT LEAST six months in advance, and that was far too short a time to construct the optimal, affordable trip. With the need for careful planning and organization now stated, I must also add that there is a dire need for flexibility as well. For example, my family found it extraordinarily helpful to ask kind locals daily which coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants they recommended, and they never led us astray, constantly steering us towards the most delicious boulangeries, patisseries, brasseries, bistros, cafés… I really need to stop now. My mouth is watering.

After tedious planning, as well as some last-minute unexpected alterations due to weather and transportation, this is the splendid itinerary that was finally assembled — well-suited for the sort of trip my family desired to have. This itinerary may not perfectly fit your own preferences, and that is absolutely okay! Please do not fret! I am simply sharing this here to aid those who may be planning a similar trip and wish for some inspiration and/or guidance as well as those who might have been curious about what else I did in Paris besides consume an unfathomable amount of carbs.

France Trip Itinerary (6/2/2017 – 6/10/2017)

6/2/2017  {Friday}

  • Flight from Nashville to Boston
  • Flight from Boston to Amsterdam leaves

6/3/2017 {Saturday}

  • Flight from Boston to Amsterdam arrives
  • Flight from Amsterdam to Paris
  • Check into our apartment (“Le Grand en Isle” from cobblestoneparis.com)
  • Explore the Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité
  • Walk to Notre-Dame

6/4/2017 {Sunday}

  • Peruse the bouquinistes (stalls selling antiques, souvenirs, and books) by the Seine
  • Visit the Shakespeare & Company bookstore (and sip tea at its adjoining café)
  • See major Parisian landmarks on a Big Bus tour

6/5/2017 {Monday}

  • Train ride to Giverny
  • Visit Monet’s grave
  • Wander Monet’s home, studio, and extensive gardens
  • Train ride back to Paris

6/6/2017 {Tuesday}

  • Tour Victor Hugo’s home in Place des Vosges
  • Travel to the site where the Bastille once stood
  • Explore the Petit Palais (Note: the nearby Grand Palais is sadly closed on Tuesdays)
  • View the Monet collection at the Musée Marmottan

6/7/2017 {Wednesday}

  • Move to our second apartment (“La Charme du Marais” from cobblestoneparis.com)
  • Revel in the opulence of the Palais Garnier (and obviously recreate iconic moments from The Phantom of the Opera)
  • See the Saint-James & Albany Hotel (where the Fitzgeralds were once thrown out for their misbehavior)
  • Wander through the Jardin des Tuileries
  • Gawk at the beauty of Monet’s famed “waterlilies” paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie
  • Meander through the many exhibits of the Musée d’Orsay (and take dramatic pictures in front of the iconic clock face — a remnant of the old train station)
  • Eat at Café Campana
  • Stumble upon the Musée Rodin and enjoy its fragrant rose garden
  • Eat chocolates at the base of the majestic Eiffel Tower

6/8/2017 {Thursday}

  • Train ride to Versailles
  • Tour the impressive chateau and its gardens
  • Purchase macaroons at Laduree
  • Train ride back to Paris

6/9/2017 {Friday}

  • Get fresh juice at Italian Trattoria
  • Tour Sainte-Chapelle
  • Walk through the Paris Flower Market
  • Tour Notre-Dame
  • See the famous “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries at the Musée de Cluny
  • Explore the Pantheon (and the crypt beneath, housing many famous Parisians)
  • Marvel at Sainte-Genevieve Library
  • Eat lunch at an outdoor café in Luxembourg Garden and watch the toy boats race
  • Try (and fail) to experience the Louvre in its entirety

6/10/2017 {Saturday}

  • Flight from Paris to Amsterdam
  • Flight from Amsterdam to Boston
  • Flight from Boston to Chicago
  • Flight from Chicago to Nashville