Category: Everything

You must change your life

I’m watching the Superbowl in a room full of people. I’m the lame-o typing on a computer, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I have something to tell you, and it would be probably best to do it straight out. We are moving. Again. In May, we are leaving the woods and moving to Pittsburgh.

I’m not expecting this to mean a lot to you. It isn’t monumental news — just two twenty-four-year-olds packing up their things and looking for jobs and being hopeful, same as everyone. All it means is that you can change your mind, you can change your life. All it means is that you can move back to the place where you grew up when you are twenty-four and haven’t lived there in seven years. All it means is that moving across the country is a thing you can decide to do, and it might even be the right thing to decide to do. And anyway, it’s all I can think about today, so I guess it’s what I have to write about.

{P.S. Multiple Superbowl commercials have already made me cry, which may or may not be because I have my period}

I think of when we decided to come here, to the big woods in Wisconsin, how sure we were, how we had to. I think of us now, of how sure we are of Pittsburgh, that it is the place we must go. We weren’t wrong! We aren’t wrong! To choose to go somewhere and then leave is not failure, it’s forward momentum. To choose to change your life is always something energetic, positive, buzzy, I believe that. There is something to be said about patience, yes, but there is also something to be said about saying a thoughtful “no” followed by a thoughtful “yes.” We had to leave Chicago and go to the woods to choose to go to Pittsburgh. Isn’t it amazing when your path is made straight, all of a sudden, in ways you didn’t expect? I wonder if maybe I knew all along, just barely, that this is how it would happen. There’s so much I had to come here to find out, and there are so many reasons to move on. Is this what our twenties are about? Making one choice just to get to another, skipping down the cobblestones, never resting anywhere too long?

The thought of Pittsburgh now is so comforting. A return to land I know. After seven years of pine forest and prairie, finally hills and creeks again, finally maples and meadows, rivers, goldenrod as far as the eye can see. I’ve been yearning for the topography ever since I left, consciously and unconsciously, so it feels like a treat almost too rich to vow to return. I’m almost afraid that it won’t feel like home anymore, but I know it will. Isaiah and I will turn it into a new home, something different than my childhood, something new like the way the city is new, more and more every day. It can’t be the same as it was before because it is different and I am different.

When I left for college, I felt some complicated pride in my going far from home, as if it made me bigger than I was. I don’t know if it made me bigger, but it did make my world bigger, my circles wider, my sense of space and home more spacious and various. And helped me notice what I was missing. Helped me see what was glorious about the place I left. Each time I would return to Pennsylvania, as soon as we made it to a stretch of highway I recognized, my eyes would be glued to the window watching the hills rush by, a weird euphoria spreading in the core of me. I’d think, shouldn’t I be cooler than this, more sophisticated? Now I know that this is so beside the point. I left so I could come back wider. I left so I could see the land that raised me with new vision, new hope, new ways to give back what it gave to me. After six years in Chicagoland, we didn’t want to live there anymore. After seven years away from Pittsburgh, there is nowhere else I want to live.

This is a really sappy post, but it’s a really sappy thing to do to move back to your hometown in your twenties. And I have my period! It isn’t my fault! This is how it is for me. This is where my heart is, in yearning for home and meeting that yearning with action. In being prodigal. In changing my life, again and again and again.

From the last two stanzas of Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo”:

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

You must change your life as many times as you can, as many times as you must. When the time comes, there’s no way really not to. What a comfort, the inevitability of things sometimes. What a comfort, the way we try to solve all of our problems ourselves but all we really have to do is keep walking forward. What a comfort that we can leave and come back. I don’t know if we will live in Pittsburgh forever or even for a long time, but I think it doesn’t matter. We are moving forward. We are doing what we must.

Clothed with the Sun

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” (Rev 12:1)

This, from the most mystical book of the Bible. This, returning to my mind day after day after day. A woman clothed with the sun, a woman clothed with the sun, a woman clothed with the sun. 

Earlier this past week, as I was returning to Chicago en route to Thanksgiving in Indiana, Jessie and I together found ourselves at the mall. We were there to fulfill a necessary errand but also we really like the mall sometimes. By and by, we went to Madewell. Oh, our hearts! Oh, our tender hearts! The problem with Madewell, silly silly Madewell, is that it ignites all of the envy and discontent our small bodies can hold. The problem with Madewell is that we like almost everything we see there, and we cannot afford even, really, a pair of socks. We walked through the store fairly briefly, allowing ourselves to touch and consider only a few things, looking at each other with bewildered, crestfallen expressions, basically speechless, retreating before our hearts wept too openly. We left feeling way more off-kilter than when we walked in. Full of hope, perhaps? That’s too generous. The feeling was  much closer to dread. It’s a feeling I’ve felt before, many times, while shopping at shopping malls or window shopping online. That vague, deep, confusing blueness, that dread. Why is it so hard? We laugh off this kind of sadness, this kind of confusion, but it’s a serious thing, I think. What is that melancholy I feel at the mall? That true sorrow? Seeing so many truly beautiful things, clothes that would look good on my body, whole other lives I could live if only, if only. It’s light, yes, just shopping, no big deal. But it’s also heavy. I feel this light thing heavily. Heavy for so many of us. We are young and poor, and yet everything tries to tell us to strive for the life we could buy with more money. We all know that this is a problem. We all, all of us, have this problem. But it eats at our hearts a little bit. We participate in it without even trying to. We go to the mall, even so! 

My clothes affect me deeply. Getting dressed is almost always fraught, almost always involves all of my feelings and senses. I am almost never satisfied with my closet, with what I own. I want my clothes to be as magnificent as my heart, I want my outward appearance to match my inward depths, I want to only be in the world in the fullness of myself. But we are so restricted by what we own, what is possible, what the day holds. I get so stuck in my days, so I get confused about what to wear. Because we talk about most everything, Jessie and I have talked about this before, finding common ground on two fronts: 1. That we almost always hate what we put on in the morning by the middle of the day, and 2. That we often find ourselves in seasons of wearing almost the exact same thing every day. Because nothing else will even remotely do. 

I’ve been having a hard time at my new job for a couple of reasons, and I think I’ve identified one of the biggest problems. I work in an active kitchen; I have to wear t-shirts every day. I get dressed in the morning and I have no space, really, to choose. I have to put on a clean t-shirt in some array of terrible bright cheap-cotton-knit colors and the same food-splattered jeans as the day before. I feel gross before I’ve even walked into work, a shadow of myself, someone else entirely. This wears on me. It shouldn’t affect me so deeply, probably, but it does.  I knew it would be a problem for my heart the minute my boss mentioned a loose dress code, the moment I realized that working in a kitchen restricted my clothing options. I knew it would be a problem, and it has been. 

It feels so silly that I’m troubled by the fact that I have to wear t-shirts to work. That I look at my closet full of clothes and still sigh with discontent. That I even walk into Madewell in the first place and look, outwardly, like I belong there. Such privilege! Such frivolity! I critique myself for my own feelings, I judge the things that catch my heart. I tell myself, “get over it!” But when the funk doesn’t pass, when the feeling comes every day, the shame I wear, for some reason, with the t-shirt, it becomes worth thinking about a little more deeply. This won’t go away, I guess. I have to wear clothes. This is something I have to reckon with and continue to reckon with day after day after day. 

This is something I want to pay attention to. 

Late in my college years, I almost completely stopped buying clothes from normal retail stores because it was too expensive and because I found that I liked thrift shopping much better – the challenge of it appealed to me. Since college, I have made “no new clothes” my standard, with just a few exceptions (#underwear), because shopping at thrift stores and making my own clothes is better for me in every way. Better for the earth, better for other humans, better for my heart, better for my creativity, better for my bank account. I’m proud of myself for keeping this up, and also astonished at how acutely weird I feel at places like Madewell. How deep the want is, how deep the roots of consumerism grow in me. How do I undo these things? How do I rewire my brain to be content with what I have, to wear things because they are beautiful and comfortable and hurt no one and nothing else? I work really hard at thrift shopping, keeping my high standards, searching the racks for natural fibers, paying close attention to fit and quality and wear, mending or altering what is torn or amiss. I am proud of the wardrobe I have created with almost entirely secondhand pieces, and yet. And yet. I still frown at my closet, I still want to change after half a day, I still yearn, I still feel microscopic in a room of beautiful new clothes. 

I don’t want to feel like that anymore. I refuse, or am beginning to refuse, that feeling I felt in Madewell. Extreme as it sounds, I think I need to make some decisions, even more strongly, more intentionally, about what I will and will not wear. If my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that it is, then my clothes should reflect that. My clothes should be clothes of joy, not clothes of confusion or sorrow. Clothes as vestments, as temple garments. Clothed with the sun. 

Keep reading…

From tender stem hath sprung

Advent is swiftly approaching. Ordinary Time is coming to a close – how fantastic that it is called that, truly. I suppose officially there are two more weeks till Advent begins, but I am notoriously a person who needs quite a bit of time to transition, and better to do it now, early, than to miss the first two weeks of a season, trying to wrench my heart into gear.

The irony is that my heart need not be wrenched this year. It’s waiting at the door. I am waiting, anxiously, for Advent, where I will wait some more. I am, thoroughly, the girl who listens to Christmas music well before thanksgiving, who smiles at the store displays and old-fashioned tinsel snowflakes affixed to streetlights in small towns and big cities alike, the first hint of a bough of holly. I love special things, and Christmas is a special thing that everyone seems to agree on. But, beyond all the trappings, Advent is where my heart has been living for some time, without my asking it to, without any sort of tinsel, without the prompting of any sort of liturgy or black friday sale. The truth is that I was living my life in Ordinary Time, not entirely unhappily. But, like angel song, Advent just started happening to me and has gone on happening. I’ve been writing about it, I’ve been thinking about it, can’t stop thinking about it. I could tell you that everything has changed, but I think you already know that. I could tell you that a life, like a calendar year, like a church calendar year, has seasons, each season designed to nourish the soul in a different way, with varying intensities and focuses and sorrows, but you surely already know that too.

I take the church calendar seriously, or try to at least. My blossoming Anglicanism in college taught me to care about these things, to seek to invite them into my consciousness and muscle memory, illuminated the beauty of tradition, of certain colors at certain times, of keeping track, of letting reality be framed by something historical and a little bit impossible. It’s the project of practice, of ritual, of repetition to let something become habit. I’m learning more everyday how to let these rituals become postures for my heart, things to wake and sleep with, to carry around within, more than a thing to think on, words to say, a color to wear, a place to be. I’m learning more every day how to notice which season my soul stands in, both in and out of time. In chronos, chronological time, my soul is on the cusp of Advent, 2017, marveling at Wisconsin snowfall and Chicago store awnings sporting pine boughs, delighting in twinkle lights taking over. In kairos, God’s time, the time that holds everything, all at once, my soul is standing bewildered and strong in Annunciation, my soul is saying, irrationally, “here I am! send me”, my soul is scouring the sky for angels, my soul is carrying an impossible baby, in pain, in wonder, no place to stay, nowhere to go. My soul, wild, following a star. 

All at once, the other day, I remembered a book I picked up a year ago but never finished. Madeleine L’Engle’s 
The Irrational Season, where she, adopted godmother to my soul, writes warmly and honestly about the church calendar, about the very same things my heart keeps turning over and over. So I bought it used on amazon for $5 and it came without the first nine pages. Typical. I was sad about it for a moment, but then I snapped into action, deciding to find the book on Google Books, where the first chapter was completely intact and waiting to be received! (And where you too can read the first chapter, which is about Advent, if you’d like!) I sat and transcribed the first nine pages, typing each word, ingesting it a little differently than I would if I were simply rereading it again, one year later. In a way, it almost felt like I was writing it myself, fingers flying to keys to record a phrase held right at the front of my brain, moving on to the next thought before even considering everything, everything about the thing that came before. 

The next day, as I, for the first time in a long time, read some of the archives of my personal blog (which I’ve been sorely neglecting), I came to an essay I wrote just about this time last year. And, oh my soul. One year, and so much has changed. One year, and so many prayers answered, so many things written and strangely, with mystery, fulfilled. I was astonished to read my own words, so true and tremulous, so different from anything I would write today — and yet still so present, so poignant for me, even still. I am that woman still, astonished at all I must be missing, full of hope and faith for things not seen, desperate to be actually carried with everlasting arms, unaware of the signs and wonders on the way. Strange prophesy, the way I stood right on the edge of a new season without knowing it and lamented all that had come before, all the years waiting, all the knowing but not knowing. And now, what more do I know? Not much. But enough for everything to have changed. Enough that, somehow I’ve gone from feeling left out of the story entirely to standing smack in the middle of it. And that, I suppose, is a change complete. That, I suppose is a new season. The night, half spent, closer, somehow, to dawn. Lo, how a rose e’re blooming, see the bud? From tender stem, mine. Yours.

I am republishing last year’s advent essay in full below. In so many ways, it seems like I’ve hardly moved. I’m still sitting with The Irrational Season beside me on the desk. I’m still finishing up quilted things, still needing to run out to get more thread. Still looking for Jesus, still considering Mary every day, and yet, and yet. Everything is different. I live in the woods instead of the city. My heart has traveled miles on miles. I’ve seen, somehow, the angels — they’ve come for me with messages. I’ve glimpsed just enough, touched just enough of the edge of Jesus’ hem to know that I am right in the center of something unfolding all around me, within and without time and space. Advent, mine entirely. Yours too, with the end of time and the beginning all folded together into an impossible baby placed in our human arms for safekeeping. What has this irrational year taught me? That I am right in the center of God’s good will. That I don’t get to sleep through the night of Jesus’ birth. That the pain will be great but the star shines above. That though I am small, an angel found me still. That Jesus is, somehow, mine to carry. That though nothing makes sense at all, underneath are the everlasting arms. I still know nothing at all, but somehow I know these things, in all their wildness, all their IRRATIONALITY. I can’t question them anymore, I just have to figure out how to carry it all forward. I’m living there, in irrational advent, on my island of madness, a woman bereft and blessed. And somehow, I am so much more myself than I’ve ever been before. 

Keep reading…

Topsy-turvy & Avoidance

It’s hard to write when you’re sad and happy at once, and tonight that is the case for me. I’m happy because my three dearest friends (sweet Jess included, hi!) came to visit me in the woods. I’m sad because now they have left again. As we all sat around talking earlier today, as we basically did all weekend long, I told everyone that I almost definitely wouldn’t have anything intelligent to say in my essay tonight, and I was right. I have nothing for you. Empty hands. I’ve been sitting around on my computer on the couch avoiding this essay for more than two hours. Trying not to think too hard. Trying not to remember how much there is to feel about everything around me. This is what I’ve been doing:

  1. Adjusting the refrigerator temperature.
  2. Making, or, actually, editing this playlist.
  3. Also listening to this playlist.
  4. Taking a shower to try to come up with ideas about what to write for this blog post (as I get my best ideas while showering, historically).
  5. Missing my friends, thinking about them and also avoiding thinking about them. Heart full and also heart broken.
  6. Also missing these pancakes, which we ate on Saturday morning. I would love to eat those pancakes every Saturday morning with those people for the rest of my life. With lots of butter and not much else. And the perfect coffee that Margaret brought along with her that is a sort of non-descript roast from Whole Foods and is the best I’ve had in a long while. And a long day ahead in which to do nothing but talk and walk in the woods and work on our various projects and listen to Christmas music early.
  7. Staring at the space heater as it swivels back and forth.
  8. Eating a bowl of corn flakes.
  9. Reading about St. Clare of Assisi in this book.
  10. Ogling this yarn, wishing to touch it, cursing the price tag. Also ogling this sweater pattern.
  11. Eating a second bowl of corn flakes.
  12. Considering a third bowl or corn flakes. (The bowls are small!!)
  13. Reading more Orangette, starting always in random places in the archives, feeling comforted by Molly’s ever-warm voice.
  14. Craving pizza. At all times.
  15. Checking in on my new sewing machine, not yet bought. Waiting for a sale-price to magically appear. Holding out till Cyber Monday, and then all bets are off. It is going to be magic. Have never bought something this expensive before, and I’m ready to take the plunge.
  16. Revisiting this, by Wendell Berry.
  17. Feeling bad about not writing a real essay.
  18. Missing Chicago, thinking, inexplicably, about the beautiful homes nestled in the Gold Coast and how I could never imagine what in the world it would be like to live in one of them.
  19. Checking in on The Wednesday Chef and Lottie and Doof. (Having a real comfy food blog moment, probably because of a weekend spent with Margaret, cooking hip-to-hip in my tiny postage-stamp kitchen.)
  20. Reading the photocopies of two Annie Dillard essays that Annie brought with her and doled out as required reading, feeling deeply and personally encouraged by both Annies at once.
  21. Eating third bowl of corn flakes.
  22. Getting sleepy.
  23. Trying not to think about having to go to work tomorrow.

This weekend was full of all good things. It snowed and genuinely felt like Christmas because we were all warm and together and those women are my family. You know that Christmas feeling where the room sort of glows and your eyes are welling with tears basically every five minutes and you can’t even believe it’s snowing but also you can because no other precipitation or lack-thereof would do? That’s what was going on. A few days before Halloween in Wisconsin. I don’t mind some things a little topsy-turvy these days, because I can’t control much of anything, even when Christmas shows up. It’s the greatest story ever told, and it’s happening to us now and all the time! But, Christmas aside, it was one of the warmest, best weekends I’ve had in a long time. Deeply encouraging to have your friends come find you in the woods. Deeply encouraging to find that nothing has changed even though almost everything has changed. Deeply encouraging to watch them drive away and feel sad but not panicked. Gratefulness – thick and glimmering. That’s what I have for them and this. Now to carry on, though I’m not sure how. Now to lean on my husband, my friend who stays in the woods with me. Now to wait for Advent to come for real. Now to live in the woods, friends far away, knowing friends have walked these paths with me before. It helps to know that.


But with wings.

  1. I’m thinking about angels, and it’s all a-jumble. Fragmented angel thoughts.
  2. A quick inventory of things I know about angels: Organized into categories: cherubim, seraphim, archangels, etc; Can wrestle (or was that God?); Can pass as humans like when Abraham entertained them (or was that God/the trinity?); Sometimes sing; Sometimes terrifying; Can speak, and have conversations; Worship; Bring messages; Can play trumpets
  3. The angel who stirred up the fountain at Bethesda.
  4. It’s probably best that I haven’t seen an angel face to face. In fact, it’s probably best that so much of the most holy things pass right by me, unnoticed till the very last minute, till I turn my head and catch a glimpse of a shimmering robe disappearing into the air. It’s enough to know they exist. It’s more than enough to imagine them.
  5. I am DEFINITELY forgetting so much from “Study of Mary,” which I took my senior year of college. Oh, to take that class again! Oh, to take that class every year for the rest of my life!!! (Note to self: find notes from that class!!!)
  6. I’m in my information-gathering mode, my obsessive research mode, where really nothing becomes more clear, I just stack up more and more things to refer to and consider. Some things stick out.
  7. Like Marie Howe’s “What the Angels Left”. I’ve been reading it over and over, wondering how Marie wrote this poem, what thing in her life became this poem, what she knows about angels that I don’t know. It’s stuck in me. I want more things to happen to me that I can’t explain. I want more things to attribute to angels. Less order, more mystery. Thicker things, deeper things, things to knock the socks off my sense of control. This is a terrifying thing to want, but I want it. I want to be mystified and terrified, to be told, “FEAR NOT!”
  8. Almost all the images I’m gathering are images of the annunciation. Have to narrow it down somehow, and it’s Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel that I can’t get out of my head. Not sure who or what I’m more captivated by, Mary or the angel. It’s the two in combination that get me. It’s the human in relation to the angel, the moment of it, the way time must have stopped, of having a conversation with an utterly spiritual being, one that stands in the space between humans and God. The giantness of the information being exchanged. The very fact of the angel’s presence. Did the air change? Did Mary know instantly that there was something new in the room? A new smell? The sound of bells? A thunderous voice? Heat or chill? The angel in images of the Annunciation is almost always depicted as a woman, and often looks a lot like Mary herself. Could Mary’s angel, Gabriel, really have just been human-ish, almost a mirror?
  9. Fra Angelica, The Annunciation, north corridor, Monastery of San Marco, 1438-45.
    Here, they are like twins, the angel and Mary, and seem to be looking deep into each other’s eyes, gesture matched, mirroring each other. There is a unity here. They both look uncomfortable? Or Mary does at least. Unable to move, perhaps. Unable to look away. Here, this Mary could say, “the angel looked just like me, but with wings.”

    Keep reading…

Haikus from the Road, Pt. II


It’s only fun to

sing in front of people you

don’t think are assholes


Los Angeles

“I want to live here”

on repeat, a reminder

of my million lives


Salinas / John Steinbeck

It was just his house

when he lived here; no strangers

taking self portraits


On Seeing Michael from The Princess Diaries in Person

He’s shorter than I

thought; no matter. One degree

closer to Nic Cage.

Keep reading…

Thoughts While Watching the Eclipse

Shouldn’t the sky be darker? 

If I were to go blind looking at the eclipse even with my special glasses on, whose face would I miss seeing the most? There are so many faces I haven’t had a good long look at that I probably wouldn’t remember rightly if I went blind

“I would rather, I would rather go blind, boy…”

 But if I didn’t remember people’s faces I could touch them and feel where their features were and in a way that would help me see them better anyway and most people won’t let me touch their face since I have sight so maybe it would be worth it


But if I did…?

All these pilgrims, coming from somewhere else to sit on their blankets in the middle of Pennsylvania and look up, at something we can barely see anyway…and then we look back down and pack up our bags and throw away our glasses and go

Am I really almost 24?

How is it possible that 85% of the sun is covered yet the entire sky remains lit? 

“Together we can take it to the end of the line, your love is like a shadow on me all of the time, I don’t know what to do I’m always in the dark” – just now realizing why it’s called Total ECLIPSE of the Heart and finding it to be HIGHLY poetic, get outta there, Bonnie!!! Find your light!!!

If for some obscure scientific reason the world is obliterated the moment the moon blocks out the sun, what will my very last thought be? And will it be embarrassing? (It will)(I am embarrassing)(This will be true before and after the eclipse)

Have my thighs always looked this way? Is this a shift in gravity? as freedom is a breakfastfood thighs will be thighs deeds cannot dream what dreams can do 

Look up!

“Once upon a time there was light in my life, now there’s only love in the dark” – how does a heart get eclipsed??? Is the idea that their hearts are so in line with each other that they are actually obliterating each other? What is the metaphor here? Was it just one good line and then they ran with it? I’m still on your side Bonnie, I’M JUST CONFUSED, love isn’t the dark thing it’s the light one

The sky stays bright but the earth looks darker

Ironically if I went blind the thing I would probably miss seeing the most would be the moon

In all the various times this has happened throughout history, did people think the world was ending? Without the luxury of removed imagination? Did they run away or did they look up just like us and go blind? 

Everyone I love (and the, like, two people I don’t) within a thousand miles of me can see this same thing happening which makes NO SENSE (I love those two people too) and I don’t understand anything about reflection or refraction or attraction or attention

Did all of these people take a day off from work or 

Am I allowed to wish on the eclipse? An 85% wish with a 100% success rate? I’ll take my chances 

Am I really almost 24? 

“I’d rather go blind…”

Shouldn’t the sky be darker? 




I’ve been feeling weird and beside myself and completely inarticulate because of all the changes that are boiling all around me, and there’s sort of nothing I can do about it. Couldn’t think of a single thing to write, really write, about today, because all the things in my head and heart feel sort of locked up with a “busy” wheel, like the rainbow wheel of death on computers, spinning in front. Everything in-progress, inaccessible.

So, I thought I could make a list of things I like, and I thought that no one would be too mad about that.


Doorbells, sleighbells, schnitzel with noodles.

  1. Anything involving Meg Ryan.
  2. Most things involving Meryl Streep.
  3. Cool mornings when you get out of bed and immediately put on a sweater.
  4. Teas with peach in them.
  5. Wool yarn.
  6. Books with words and pictures, written by women.
  7. Some books with just words, written by women.
  8. Healthy plants.
  9. Handmade quilts.
  10. Powerful irons.
  11. Rugs.
  12. Chairs with velvet seats.
  13. Thrift-store embroidered or crewel wall-hangings.
  14. When the only light in the room is from the window.
  15. Unsweetened cereal with whole milk.
  16. Pepperoni pizza.
  17. Audiobooks, halfway in.
  18. Music where the lyrics are like a poem and the melody is like a poem too.
  19. Musicals.
  20. Getting books from the library.
  21. Buying my very favorite books to keep near forever.
  22. Footstools.
  23. Wood tables.
  24. Tortilla chips.
  25. Tabasco sauce.
  26. Meadows.
  27. Goldenrod, though I’m allergic.
  28. La Croix, shamelessly.
  29. Swimming when it is very hot outside.
  30. Lingering.
  31. Essays by Annie Dillard.
  32. Rereading books I love.
  33. Repairing things I already own.
  34. When children play the piano.
  35. Kindhearted cookbooks that are not showy.
  36. Sweaters made of wool, shirts made of cotton or linen, shoes made of leather.
  37. Well-fitting pants.
  38. Handmade socks, a revelation.
  39. Revelations.
  40. The King James bible.
  41. Thread.
  42. Rereading beloved books.
  43. Instagram, sometimes.
  44. Eating something familiar.
  45. Having a little bit of extra time to sit somewhere quiet and nice.
  46. Craigslist furniture, which always feels providential.
  47. Saltwater sandals.
  48. Granola from Orangette.
  49. Using a wood cutting board as a lap desk.
  50. Making Instagram stories, the more elaborate the better.
  51. Getting paid to do things I love.
  52. Sewing.
  53. Movies about women who are a little bit crazy in a good way.
  54. Movies by Nora Ephron.
  55. Anything with Barbra Streisand.
  56. Kindred spirits, found by accident and on purpose.
  57. Full bobbins.
  58. Rotary cutters, very sharp.
  59. Throw pillows, tastefully chosen.
  60. Having an excessive amount of blankets on hand at all times.
  61. Sixty-five degrees and partly sunny.
  62. Lakes.
  63. Using the right pan for the job.
  64. Using the right tool for the job.
  65. Having a pleasant task to do.
  66. Lingering in the grocery store, considering every pasta sauce.
  67. Going to a museum to just visit one or two paintings.
  68. Well-made lattes.
  69. Dried flowers.
  70. Taper candles.
  71. Taping things to the wall, just so.
  72. Bags that look like baskets.
  73. High-quality colored pencils.
  74. Having multiple of the same favorite kind of pen.
  75. Coming home to an empty apartment, just as I left it.
  76. Opening the blinds in the morning.
  77. Running and jumping into bed.
  78. Two-lane roads with trees on all sides, quiet and cool.
  79. Rabbits.
  80. Paul Simon.
  81. Joni Mitchell.
  82. Carole King.
  83. James Taylor, too, okay?
  84. Feeling quietly cool with Sylvan Esso in my earbuds, even though everyone knows about them.
  85. Knitting on public transportation.
  86. That one time I peeked at the lady next to me on the bus’ phone and she was on RAVELRY OF ALL PLACES.
  87. Working from home.
  88. Sitting outside in the morning.
  89. Spaciousness.
  90. Knowing what will happen next.
  91. Knowing what the weather will be.
  92. Tidy kitchens.
  93. Italian red-sauce dishes.
  94. The vodka sauce from Quartino on State Street.
  95. The Publican Quality Meats chicken parmesan sandwich.
  96. Situations where everyone is singing and dancing together and no one is trying to look good at all.
  97. Circles of people.
  98. Special rooms where special things happen.
  99. Holy Week.
  100. Madeleine L’Engle’s nonfiction and also her fiction.
  101. Podcasts, often.
  102. Looking at a familiar special photograph.
  103. Sparrows and finches.
  104. Jars full of pens.
  105. Clogs.
  106. When writers write about writing and when artists talk about making art, so vulnerable and hopeful!
  107. Simple songs.
  108. Also hymns.
  109. Having enough lamps.
  110. Sleeping during movies, feels so cozy.
  111. Sleeping next to Isaiah.
  112. Waking up early.
  113. Babies.
  114. Springtime.
  115. Twilight.
  116. Thunderstorms.
  117. Snow.
  118. Marriage.
  119. Very familiar places in big cities.
  120. Quilted jackets.
  121. Getting a seat on the bus.
  122. Walking.
  123. Having a sweet secret.
  124. Golden delicious apples.
  125. Call and response.
  126. Experiencing the kindness of strangers.
  127. Dancing alone where no one can see.
  128. Taking baths.
  129. Paperbacks.

Screenshot Shimmy, #2

It’s time for another rollicking screenshot shimmy! (First take here!) I spend my days, these days, very specifically, sewing things that I didn’t design and don’t necessarily care about, finding solace in audiobooks and podcasts, relishing my thirty minutes for lunch in the sun, breathing out a sigh of relief as soon as I cross the threshold to join Isaiah in our cool little cave of an apartment on Damen Avenue. I spend my days sewing, wishing to be sewing something else. The nice thing about it, I suppose, is that I’m becoming a much more quick and sure sewist, with nimble fingers and straight seams, things I’m proud of and that are surprisingly difficult to achieve. I should say that I do feel pretty lucky to have found a job for this little pocket of time doing the exact thing that I’m trying to learn about, invest in, commit to. Every time I finish a new bout of top-stitching that is nice and straight and perfect, I feel like celebrating a bit. But, really I’m just biding my time. Waiting, waiting, in so many ways. And dreaming of the things I could sew if I were in charge of myself, if my weekdays stretched out before me like so many yards of quilting cotton, if I could take the time that feels so filled by work and fill it with the work that feels mine, that bubbles up inside me without my even trying.

Most of the time, I get home and I have no more sewing left in me. Maybe I’ll manage one little block, some hand-stitches while watching a television show with Isaiah on the couch, some trimming while waiting for water to boil for tea. But that’s if I’m lucky, if I somehow reserved some energy during my prime, past hours of the day. Sewing is mostly reserved for the weekends these days, which are also reserved for so many other things like weddings and errands and trips away from my sewing machine and cutting table. Most of my quilting these days is done in my head, the dreaming-up of it, projects all lined up, a thousand ideas, a thousand designs, and inspiration drawn from everywhere. Most of my screenshots these days are quilts. I’ve spared you the bulk of them and instead decided to give you a fair variety of things I’ve been tucking away, little virtual envelopes, little treasures from the vast confusion of the internet. I’m so bewildered by it! More and more all the time. These screenshots are the sweetness I’ve found, the internet things that remind me why I like the internet, why it’s lovely. There are people out there that are like me, that think about the same things, that want me to see what they’re doing and who want to see what I’m doing too. I could talk for hours, probably, about the way the internet has specifically encouraged and empowered (and sometimes confounded) the beginnings of my sewing. I’m proud and a little nervous to be beginning to take part, to be sharing the things I’m making in a place where they can be seen by both friends and strangers, to be trying to claim legitimacy, to share what I know. I’m going to keep trying and keep saying I know what I’m doing (because I do) and keep teaching myself what I don’t know and keep feeling intermittently weird about it, probably, but that’s basically how my whole life has been, so why change now!

Bye, imposter syndrome, you suck!

Here are things that I like, things I wanted to keep for later, for a rainy day or a sunny one, things that felt at once familiar and foreign, ingenious things, special things, ordinary things that are quickly becoming special, bits of cloth sewn together, things that are not cloth at all. If you need me, I’ll be here not sewing but wishing I were up to my ears in quilt bits with the day stretching before me, enough time, enough space, room for the thousand quilts in my heart. You might not be a person who is super into sewing things, which I totally get because it’s an extremely niche thing and I’m head-over-heels in deep. This stuff really may not be your cup of tea, then. But something I’m learning about myself is that I can’t venture out of the land of genuine-ness, I can’t fake a single thing. I can’t show you anything about myself right now (and maybe forever) if I can’t show you a whole bunch of quilts. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s not as weird or alienating as I fear that it could be. Maybe you’ll still feel or see something in this collection of things, some colors, some words, something true, something, something. Or maybe you won’t! Either way, I know what I love. It’s this and everything else, so much, more than could ever fit here. You and I, both.

Keep reading…

Choices – A Call and Response

The Game

Someone stands in the middle of the room and points to opposing walls yelling two allegedly opposite things.  For instance, they might begin by yelling, “Daisies!” and then point to the opposite wall, yelling: “Roses!” Everyone in the room scatters to the wall ascribing to the flower they prefer.  Another example – we played this at my 22nd birthday party, Jessie Edition, and I yelled “Going to space!” at one wall and “Staying home!” to the other.  The game is very simple.  You merely follow your impulse, without caution or thought, towards the thing you want.  Sometimes you end up on the side of the wall you don’t necessarily consciously prefer, yet there you are.  You might find yourself standing with lovers of The Rolling Stones when you know your tribe stands across the room with The Beatles, but the game isn’t so much about what you prefer as it is about making a choice.  Which is why it’s called Choices, not Preferences.

choices, 1

Cinderella, Into the Woods: “You think, ‘What do you want?’/You think, ‘Make a decision!/Why not stay and be caught’/, you think,/’Well, that’s a thought, what would be his response?” …”You know what your decision is – which is not to decide.”

This way of thinking is always so tempting.  There are so many relationships with high stakes involved in life, yet it is always romantic relationships that appear the highest.  How tempting to leave things up to fate, to let someone choose you so you don’t have to work through choosing them.  To leave a clue so the decision hangs upon whether or not he is clever enough to solve it, not whether or not you want him to.  If the shoe fits, you stay.  If it doesn’t, well…

It’s maybe my favorite musical because the entire premise is Act I: makes a choice, Act II: deals with aftermath of choice.  How often do you see the aftermath? And wouldn’t you make better choices if you could see it? I suppose not, because we have all read the same fairy tales and still end up going after the same things.

choices, 2

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