About Me

My photo
"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Family Ties

Things got much better after my previous entry. It was rather overdramatic. I just got caught up in the moment, as I often do, and once I begin writing out my frustration, I tend to work myself up into quite a frantic state.

Last night I went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for dinner. It was the first time all four Zelnick children sat down and had dinner together in years. It was so wonderful to see them, and my absolutely adorable nieces, Luisa who’s five and Maeve who’s two. They are, quite possibly, the cutest children to ever exist and I loved getting to spend some time with them. It was so lovely to sit at that table, our father, the parent we all share, with his four children around him. My half siblings are a great deal older than me (Nate’s 38 and Jenn is 41), and I love uncovering more and more stories about their lives with each visit. It’s taken me twenty years to begin to really have an interest in my family, but I’m glad that I’ve discovered that feeling. Family is so important.

For most of my life, I’ve considered my friends my family, and the people I’m related to were just this secondary group that I had obligations to. I still do, of course, consider my friends family, but I’ve also begun to really appreciate the connections I have with my relatives, both good and bad. I want to understand where I came from. I want to understand why I’m me, and tracing the patterns in my family’s past helps to put the pieces together.

It’s somewhat painful to be twenty years old and suddenly realize I know so little about my family members. I consider my parents to be fairly secretive and I struggle to drag the information about their lives from them. It’s agonizing to pull and squeeze their stories from them, the way I have to sometimes wrestle a word onto a page. It’s that endless fight to create more, to know more. It’s not impossible to get it from them, it just doesn’t flow from them naturally and I always wish that it would. I wish that I could just open their heads and see the story of their lives. I wish that they had written autobiographies about their triumphs and failures. Every time I read a memoir, I think about the author’s children, about how lucky they are to get this glimpse into their parents past.

I look at other children and think about who they’ll grow up to be. When I baby-sit, I always pay close attention to how the family interacts together, how the house is set up, what the rules for them are and how well they’re enforced. I take notes in my head to track the progression of each child as they get older, desperately seeking that perfect formula for what makes a family work. I don’t know what makes a family work. I’ve never lived in a family that does work, a family where all the pieces fit together perfectly, a family filled with love and happiness.

Often in my life, I have these snippets of realizations about what life should be and how my life isn’t it. I spend time with the families of my friends and find myself thinking “oh, THAT’S how it works,” as if it’s some new idea that family members should get along with one another. I began doing the same thing with marriages the day my parents told me they were getting a divorce. I paid close attention to the married couples I know, seeing the respect they have for one another, the affection they show each other, the love they share. It suddenly makes so much sense that my parents’ marriage didn’t work, and each time that I discover it, it feels as though I’m learning it for the first time, as though I couldn’t have ever seen it otherwise.

Maybe I couldn’t. Maybe I didn’t want to. It’s difficult to compare yourself to others, to be constantly reminded of how your life could be, should be, better. It’s difficult to admit that things aren’t working, and at the same time, I take great pleasure in seeing that things are working for other people, other families, even if they aren’t for me. I love spending time with families that get along. I love my friends who are married and those who have been dating forever. I love the way that they all give me faith in love. I often need the reminder. I need to remember that even if things didn’t necessarily work out in my family’s past, having a family that “works” in my future is not an impossibility. Good relationships are possible. Happiness is possible. Love is possible, and I intend to move on into the new year, keeping that in my mind and feeling it in my heart.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why I Should Have Called In Sick Today

This is not going to be elegant or insightful by any means. This is simply going to be me venting about the day. If you’re not in the mood to hear me complain, I suggest you stop reading now.

The last two days at work were fine. I was relatively happy to be there, to see everyone, to realize that I still knew all of the ins and outs the job entails. It was fine, a little lonely, but fine. I was covering for my boss who was out of town for a couple days and I was fully capable of doing his job on my own. The trouble began when he came back this morning. Not only was there not a hint of a “thank you,” there was no recognition of anything I’d done at all.

I know that I’m a needy person, but I don’t think it’s uncalled for to want and expect a little “thanks” or “nice job” or even just excitement to see me after three months of me not working there. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable thing to ask for.

Then, to top it off, he asked me about school and I mentioned how I was toying with the idea of taking a semester off, something I’ll write about in a future blog entry. I guess I don’t talk to many people about it because one, it’s not definite, and two, people tend to have mixed reactions about that kind of thing. I wasn’t necessarily expecting him to say, “great idea!” but I also wasn’t expecting the twenty minute lecture I got about how irresponsible it is and how much I’ll regret it. I was so angry I could cry, and knowing that I was about to, I did the only thing I could do to keep myself from doing so. I shut down.

For the rest of the day, I answered him in quick little responses. I asked a few questions here and there, but mostly tried to keep my distance. “You sure aren’t the bright and cheery Frankie who we last saw,” he said. I could have punched him. Honestly. After barely saying goodbye to me, still with no thank you, I just left and came home feeling bitter and angry and utterly disappointed in him for acting that way, and in myself for caring.

I hate that I want his approval, even now. Even when I think he’s a complete jackass, there’s still a part of me that wants him to respect me. It’s awful. He hasn’t called or sent me a text message, which probably means that he expects me to come in on Monday, which I’m just not going to do. I don’t care how much I need the money. It’s totally not worth it.

In some ways, I think it’s good that it happened. The bright side is that I now remember why I quit in the first place and why I don’t want to go back. I’ve been questioning the decision I made to quit in retrospect, thinking that it wasn’t all bad and at least it was a job, but now I have the reassurance I need to say to myself that it really was pretty bad.

I know that now and I’ll remember it always. Even when he calls on Monday asking me where I am. I think I may finally be at the point where I can tell him why I can’t work there, why I needed to quit in the first place, and why I shouldn’t have come back. “You’re not fair to me,” I’ll say, because that’s the truth. It’s not just that he’s not particularly nice to me, it’s that I’ve let him push me around more than I should have. I’m sick of it and I’m fairly sure that I have every right to be.

All I really wanted was a thank you. Apparently that’s too much to ask.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dearest You

There was a time in my life when all I wanted to do was write letters. Every day I'd return to my dorm room after class and pour my heart out onto paper for one of my friends to read. It's an exercise I miss greatly in my daily life. It's different now. I have trouble expressing all of the things I want to say. Somehow I felt safer in Michigan, with a state between us. I felt like I could be emotionally available without fear of having to face my vulnerability in any of their eyes. Why is it so easy to write how I feel and so utterly difficult to say it?

I often feel much more impressive on paper than I actual am. Or maybe I'm less impressive in person than I actual am. In either case, it's distressing. There are times when I want to just blurt out to someone "I adore you," but I don't. I can't. I'd like to say that I stopped myself, because that would be easy to remedy, but it's more than that. In my head, I can play conversations over and over again, compose the wording just so, hearing the rhythm and timing I've mapped out for emphasis. In my head, my life moves like a movie. I always know the right things to say. I make little witty remarks and grandly quotable speeches. I am deep and intellectual and profound. I am the person inside my head.

But the person outside my head completely changes all of that. Sometimes I find myself so despairingly awkward, it's almost inconceivable. I can never be or say exactly what it is I want. I constantly find myself so overwhelmingly happy and grateful and at a loss for how to even begin to express it.

That's why those letters meant so much to me, and why I miss feeling strong enough to write them. In each of those letters I was able to freely share my love and gratitude to the recipient. I could say all of the things that I always want to say and can't. I could be the person I felt like I should be. I did it for me, but I also did it for them. I wanted them to have something that they could look at everyday and know that they were loved. I wanted them to have something that they could unexpectedly stumble across fifty years from now and know that they were loved. I wanted them to know, always, that they were loved. I wanted them to know how remarkable they always have been.

I'm only writing about this because there's a letter I'd like to write now and am having trouble summing up the courage to write it. Even writing it in this blog is making me anxious for some unknown reason. I suppose it's rather difficult to tell someone you barely know, barely see, that you think the world of them.

I think the world of you. I know that we've never been that close, but I've always known that you were wonderful. I think that's, ironically, why I've never gotten very close to you. Your incredible character intimidates me. I think that you're so intelligent and kind and funny and the awkward little girl in me was always afraid that if you got to know me, you'd realize how unworthy I was to be in your presence. It sounds so silly, I know, but that's who I am. I'm sorry that I didn't spend more time trying to be your friend, because in truth, having the honor of calling you my friend would mean everything to me. I'm so glad that despite all of that, you've been speaking to me lately. I'm so happy when you IM me or I get to see you. I'm so grateful that I have this opportunity to tell you all of this, and I hope that someday soon I'll feel close enough to you to tell you face to face. I won't go into too much detail. I think it's easier to leave this somewhat anonymous, but if you know that it's you, I want you to understand that I admire you more than you'll ever know. I think that you are so amazing and I know that your life will be nothing short of phenomenal, even if it doesn't always feel like it now. Call me naive, but I still believe in Karma. I still believe that good things happen to good people, and you, my dear, are one of the best. You deserve all the happiness in the world and I have every faith that you'll find it. I guess what I'm saying is, I adore you.

I just thought that you should know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Spring had arrived.
The trees blossomed,
the flowers bloomed,
the sky beckoned.
I watched
the swans glide
on the surface
of the lapping water
like lilipads.
I listened
to the birds
the arrival
of spring
the way trumpets
announce royalty.
I felt
so consumed
with beauty
that I could do nothing
but run,
as hard and fast
as my little three year old legs could
to the top
of the highest hill
and look down
on the world
like a glorified God,
reveling in my creation.
I held
my head up
into the vastness
of the immeasurable sky
and sang
the only song
I loved
as much as this perfect day.
Somewhere over the rainbow
all days
were perfect like this.
Somewhere over the rainbow
I could stay
like this forever.
Birds fly over the rainbow
oh why,
couldn't I?
And still
I wonder
what waits there,
up above the world,
the clouds,
the heavens.
I still have places
that I wish to go.
I still have songs
that I wish to sing.
I still have rainbows
that I wish to see.
I long
for that escape
into a dream land.
The kind
that existed
in my eyes
as a child,
where good always
conquers evil,
where adventure
looms around
each bend,
where the pursuit of
and courage
are more precious
than gold.
The child in me
still knows
it's out there,
dripping from the trees,
hanging in the air,
at the top of every hill,
somewhere over the rainbow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The World Beyond

I am proud to say that I am now the owner of a brand new iBook G4 that is absolutely stunning. While I struggled with my wireless for a while, I think I've finally figured it all out (knock on wood) and will be able to go back to blogging regularly. Thank goodness. I was really starting to go crazy without it.

My former boss, Ed, told me that the girl who replaced me a few months ago quit last week and I'm welcome back if I'm interested. It would be nice and convenient to return to that job I suppose. I already know how to do it well, know the dynamics of the office, know the people I'll be working with. It is good money, which I'm desperate for right now, but I also know that it's too easy for me to just give in to what's safe and available. I know in my heart that I really don't want to be stuck behind a desk again. The job sounds much better in theory than it actually is. I know I'd regret it immeadiately. Still, I told him I'd go in tomorrow and Thursday while he's away with his daughter, and picking up a few easy dollars is never a bad idea. I worry that I have the feeling I'm going to get sucked back in fairly quickly. I have so much trouble saying "no."

What I'm really hoping this will do for me is inspire me to finally go look for a job I'm actually interested in doing. Maybe it's naieve of me to believe that there's a perfect job waiting for me out there, but I think I'd always regret not going to look for it. I know there's something better for me. I just have to figure out exactly what that is.

I've always been so jealous of those people who seem to take the world by storm, who jump from job to job, who aren't afraid to tell their life stories to anyone who will listen. There's something so daring and amazing about them. That's always want I've wanted for myself as long as I can remember, to be friendly and fearless. It's why I get so restless every few months, why I always feel as though I should be doing something else, somewhere else. I always feel as though I should be someone else. I suppose I get scared sometimes that the world is passing me by. I get scared that slowly but surely I am wasting my days, my time, on this earth. I'd say my biggest fear is reaching the end of my life feeling as though I've never lived.

My mom once told me that when she would hold me as a baby, when she would look into my eyes, it would always feel as though I was looking beyond her, looking for adventure in a bigger world. It's funny that I'm still like that. It's funny that even as I sit here writing this, my mind is a million miles away having an adventure in some country I have yet to see. I am always a step ahead of myself, dreaming of my future, dreaming of a life that has been lived to its fullest potential. I am always dreaming. I am always wondering. I am always moving into the future. I always have been.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Precious Gifts

A dear friend of mine once told me that he would never write anything down because it would leave a trace. All of his mistakes, his moments of vulnerability, his hardships would be recorded and therefore pose a threat to his present and future life. I consider myself a very open minded person, but still find great difficulty wrapping my mind around his logic, accepting it as truth. I simply can't understand it. I don't know what I would do with myself if I didn't write. I don't know where all of those thoughts and feelings would go if I didn't pour them into journals and blogs. How would I possibly be able to deal with anything?

That being said, being unable to blog for the past week has been quite a trial. I've missed my blogger friends deeply, missed reading their words, missed expressing my thoughts. Of course I've been writing in my journal, but somehow it's not quite the same. While Santa failed to bring me a new laptop, he brought the promise of one via my parents, so I'll hopefully be connected to the wonderful internet again within the week. My, how I've missed it.

Christmas was lovely, much better than I had expected it to be. I had a lovely time at my grandparents for tea, a nice lunch with my dad and brother which I had expected to be much worse than it was, and then a wonderful dinner with my mom and brother. I feel sort of empowered for whatever reason. Perhaps it's the holiday season, perhaps it's making some sort of amends with my father, even if it was relatively unspoken, or perhaps it's getting the chance to blog again. Whatever it is, I hope it stays with me.

I'm really ready for a change in my life and I think I'm finally ready to stand up and make that change. I was reading some new poetry I got for Christmas and then began reading over some things I had written in the past; old entries from a previous blog now gone, old journals, a few old school papers and poems. It's amazing how much I've changed. It's amazing how far my life has come, even if it doesn't feel like it most of the time. I am so different, so much wiser. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond and I've recorded every moment of that transition. I love that I have that record. I love that I can look back and see the path that brought me here, the flow of my life. I love discovering different versions of myself on every page. I can't imagine where I'd be without it.

Happy Holidays everyone. I hope it was a wonderful day.

Here's to leaving a trace.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


It seems I've done something to anger the computer Gods. Every computer I touch turns against me and suddenly stops letting me connect to the internet for reasons far too technical for me to fix. Anyway, I apologize for the lack of updates.

My dear, dear friend, Kat from California is visiting me this week. It's been so wonderful having her here, as though we have a million things to catch up on and at the same time, not a moment has passed between us. It's funny how those moments with long lost friends always feel that way. Some things never change.

And some things do. We are different people than we were the last time we saw one another. We've both discovered how big the world can be, and in truth, how sad it can often be. I think what I like best about having her here is that she's been feeling very much the same way that I have, depressed and restless, ready to start something new but not quite ready to get out of bed and face the world. There are hundreds of people I can talk to, confide in about my feelings, and I know how blessed I am to have that. Still, there's a difference between talking to people who listen and people who understand. Kat understands. There have been numerous times throughout her stay here when I've been able to say "yes, me too," and there is tremendous comfort in that. I'm really happy she's here.

It's also been so nice just to have someone around all the time to sit with, talk with, laugh with. We've been having so much fun. We went to the Pringles on Thursday and sat up all night talking with them. They're really such amazing people and I found myself wishing I had spent more of my high school days there, more time just sitting by the fire and talking about life than partying in the woods. I don't regret the friends I chose to spend my time with or the parties I attended, but I wish I had devoted a few more nights to alternative ways of living. I was never very good at balancing different worlds of friends.

Friday night we went out for coffee with Christa, who I haven't seen in ages. It was so fantastic to see her. She's become so beautiful and self assured, far from the young timid girl I knew in high school, but so close to the person I always knew she could be, she would be. I was so happy to see her in her glory. Everything about her was wonderful. Sitting across from her, listening to her stories about her summer in France, I suddenly realized that I've known Christa for eighteen years. We've never really been best friends and in truth, I don't think about her constantly the way I do with my other friends. I don't wonder about her life all the time, but having a friend that you've known for your entire life is rare, and having a friend you've known for your entire life as remarkable as Christa is extremely rare. I am blessed to know her.

Then I started thinking about all of my other friends, both the groups I do and don't see often. It's amazing to know that we could call each other up after forty years of not speaking to one another and still be friends. I know in my heart that it's true. It's such a wonderful feeling. It's wonderful that they can seem completely different and exactly the same all at once. That's what I love most about them.

Yesterday we had lunch with Meghan and Sam at the apartment of our mentor, Court VanRooten. He had been our high school director, on and off the stage, and has become one of my dearest friends. It was so lovely to see him and catch up, especially with my fellow Players. We discussed life over coffee, opera blaring in the background, Court's grand collection of paintings and photographs covering the walls around us. Suddenly we've become adults, sophisticated adults, expressing opinions about theatre and music and adventures. It was an odd moment to feel so cultured and grown up.

At the same time, I felt a bit removed. I haven't been involved in performing arts since high school and hadn't realized just how much I had been missing it until yesterday. I miss being on stage. I miss being backstage. I miss being a part of this group of creative and talented people that nakedly bare their souls to an audience. I realized I'm sort of empty these days.

What I love and hate most about Court is the way he knows exactly how I'm feeling, sometimes before even I do. It's phenomenal to have someone who knows you, understands you, that way. At the same time, it's impossible to have secrets. It's impossible to fake happiness and contentment when you want to. The second I hugged him hello, I unexpectedly wanted to weep in his arms. He knew it too. I became quiet and reserved, afraid at hinting at the disarray of my life, but my silence attested more to it than my words ever could. I've never been very good at hiding my feelings.

On the upside of that, I've never been good at hiding my love either, and it's one of the things I value most in myself. I do have such endless love for everything around me, especially for those friends both in and out of my everyday life. I am so blessed to have these people and I know that. I spend every moment knowing that. It's why my life, in whatever state it is, will always be beautiful. Thank you my dearest friends, both old and new, for giving me the chance to love you. I am so much better for it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Stone (For My Mother)

I know this place. Through the back door, over the small wooden bump in the ground of the doorway, onto the cool, smooth surface of our kitchen floor. I can feel the gloss of our table beneath my soft, warm hands and the sharp corners where I so often bumped my head as a child. I sit in my favorite of our five white chairs. The back leg wiggles a little as I sit, just as it has always done. Flowers adorn the table, a myriad of colors and sizes, a reflection of our family, bold and bright. I glance at the coal stove piled with breads and ripening fruits in the colorful bowls my mother has collected over the years. I think of my mother, standing beside the sink, eating a ripe nectarine. The juices slowly pour over her slender, boney fingers. Another bite, and the sweet cold liquid moves further down her hand, covering her ring--a bright gold band with a large black stone in the center.

I remember looking at the stone as a child, wondering why all the other mothers had diamonds on their fingers, while my mother settled for this plain, black stone. It didn't sparkle in the light. It wasn't worth any real money. It didn't make rainbows when the sun moved through it in just the right way. It was so ordinary. I knew she deserved so much more. My mother, who had kept the monsters away in the middle of the night. My mother, who had made every birthday special and every wound heal. My mother, who I believed knew everything there was to know in the world and who I loved more than anything in it. My mother, my hero, my best friend, had only this black, commonplace ring to wear. It made me so sad.

As a young girl sitting in her lap, I wrapped my fingers around the stone. It felt so round and smooth beneath my small fingertips as if it were hardened silk. It was cold in the warmth of my hand, but inviting, like the relief of a soft rain on a hot summer day. I wanted to dance in her ring the way I danced in the rain, fearless and free. I looked up into my mother's eyes, into her infinitely dark pupils. My face reflected back at me in their darkness. I smiled, and returned my gaze to the stone.

Years later, I found myself on a pebble beach in England, in the small town of Budleigh Salterton. My mother's aunt lived there, a round cheerful woman who instantly reminded me of Santa's wife. The town was like stepping into a child's storybook. It consisted of one small high street with a quaint handful of shops that older woman wandered for hours, carrying their little Yorkshire terriers in woven picnic baskets by their sides. I stepped out the front door into the fresh morning air, breathing in the sweet simplicity of it all. I loved that place.

I wandered onto the beach, making my way down to the quietly breaking waves. I picked up a dark pebble from beneath my naked aching feet. Passing it from hand to hand, I rubbed it against my soft skin, feeling the weight of it move between my fingers like the tide; back and forth, back and forth. The motion of the waves had tossed it that way, creating it's polished shine that now glowed in the early morning sun. Beauty from chaos. It held secrets I would never know and answers I could never find. I looked up to the vast horizon, the numerous shades of grey cascading across the cloud ridden sky. I looked back at the stone, staring at it for a while, delighting in its hidden wisdom, and then smiled as I threw it back into the waters from which it came.

On a cliff overlooking the lake, I unfolded my sleeping bag to prepare for a much needed rest. I stared up at the night sky in silence, admiring the beauty and intensity of its vast blackness. It was so dark, so deep, so endless. I breathed slowly, listening to the events of the day running through my head. I looked at my friends beside me, wondering what they were thinking about this moment, this black sky. I wondered if they felt the comfort that I did in that moment, if they felt home. I wondered if their mothers had rings that shined like the ebony sky. I wondered if the sky felt as round and smooth as the stone in my mother's ring. I sat there staring upward, wondering, drifting off into a sleep beneath a blanket of burning stars.

When my mother came to visit me for the first time at college, I looked down at her ring as we ate lunch together. It was different than I had remembered it. It didn't seem so plain, so ordinary. I looked up into her eyes. I thought about how beautiful she looked at that moment, how beautiful she had always looked. My mother isn't like a diamond. She isn't sharply cut with limitations and borders. She isn't transparent, relying on light to fill her. My mother is full. She is round and smooth, solid and endless, whole and complex. She is filled with wisdom and love. She is strong. She is a stone.

I looked back at her small fingers into the vastness of her ring. The black stone stared back at me like the dark and deep pupils of my mother's eyes, like the night sky in the wilderness, like the pit of the nectarine my mother devoured with such tenderness between her sticky fingers. The black stone is simple and graceful and dignified. The black stone is beautiful like my mother.

Sometimes I wander barefoot outside, feeling the soft ground beneath my feet, the give and take of the soil as I make imprints of my toes. I pick up stones as I go, passing them back and forth between my hands, matching their smooth curves to the slant of my fingers. I look at them in the palm of my hand, juxtaposed against my delicate white skin. I see my mother's ring. I see the depths of her eyes, smell her scent in the soft wind, feel the comfort of her love as we embrace. I know this place, I think to myself, and I smile, slowly returning the stone to the earth from which it came.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Liz sent me this wonderful meditation and I wanted to share it. It's really so wonderful and I highly recommend doing it when you get a chance. It will make everything seem just that much better.

Begin by taking some full, deep breathes. Don't try to force anything, just relax and breathe deep. As you breathe, imagine yourself standing in a grove of tall, strong trees. See yourself as one of those tall, strong trees. Breathe deep and feel the ground beneath you and the sun shining down upon you. Feel your connection to the Earth and become aware that you now have roots where your feet were. Breathe deep and on an exhale, slowly begin to send those roots deep into the ground. Down, down through the grass and the topsoil, Down through soil and rock and the roots of other plants and trees. Through water tables and bones and all the many layers of Earth. Continue to send those roots down, down in search of the Source at the center of the Earth. Begin to feel the energy pulsating as you draw near and feel the heartbeat of the Earth.

When you reach that source of energy deep within the Earth, let it take a form in your minds eye. It may be a huge crystal cluster, or the hot molten core of the Earth. With your roots, tap into that source of energy, breathe deep and feel the energy slowly begin to rise, traveling up your root. Up, up through the layers of Earth and soil and rock. Through roots and seedlings and water tables. Feel the energy rise up your roots, through your feet, your calves you thighs. Let that Mother Earth energy rise through your trunk, your torso, and up, up through your chest and arms and neck. Let it reach your head and just fill you. Stay with this feeling for a moment and just breathe.

Now, imagine you have branches that are tall and wide and reach up to the sky. Feel the air rushing around your branches and the warmth of the sun as it caresses your leaves. Take a deep breath and with it, take in the energy of the sky and the sun. Let it tickle each leaf before being drawn into your branches. On another in breath, take that sky energy deep into your tree and feel it flow down through your head, your shoulders, your arms and chest. Breathe it into your torso, hips and legs. Feel it mixing and mingling with the energies of the Earth. Stay with this feeling for a while and just breathe.

Just breathe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Newman Baxter, One Who Loved A Tree

Sometimes I lay awake at night
thinking about Newman.
Newman Baxter,
One Who Loved A Tree.

Or so it says,
engraved deeply
into the back
of my favorite park bench.
Newman Baxter,
One Who Loved A Tree.

I run
my hands over the letters,
if there was a specific tree.
One perfect tree
that he'd had some grand love affair with.
One perfect tree
that had captured his heart.
One perfect tree
with strong extending branches
where his soul hung
like laundry out to dry,
waving back and forth
in the soft breeze.
Newman Baxter,
One Who Loved A Tree.

Or maybe it was all trees
that he loved.
Maybe it was the way
they looked
and smelled
and felt
beneath his hands,
above his head.
Maybe it was the way
they gave him comfort and strength
when he needed it most.
Maybe it was the way
their blossoms died
each winter
and were reborn
each spring.
Newman Baxter,
One Who Loved A Tree.

Or perhaps it was this tree
that was chopped down
and made into a bench
for young writers to sit
and ponder.
Perhaps it was this tree
that died like Newman,
that lives on like Newman,
with Newman,
sitting in the park
beneath new trees
and new tree lovers
that have come to take their place
in the grand scheme of things.
Perhaps this was their gift.
That tree
Newman Baxter,
One Who Loved A Tree.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Man Vs. Nature

I wish it was warm enough to sit outside and write. I miss that. I miss curling up between the roots of an old tree in the park and scribbling away in my journal for hours. I always do my best thinking sitting outside, reveling in the poignant beauty of nature's dance. I love sitting by the creek, watching the water run it's course, dipping my toes into the soft, cool edges. I love the sound of it twisting and turning round the bends. I miss that.

Last night I sat awake staring at the street lamp outside my window. It's bright orange glow always reminds me of early morning, the ease of a sunrise behind the clouds. I thought about LandSea, the three week adventure I spent living in the woods. I would love to be there again. I would love to sleep out among the stars once more, no shelter above me or man made distraction around me, just me and natural world. I wish more of my life could be spent there.

I wish more of my life was like my solo experience, where I sat curled in a small nook among the trees by a lake completely alone for forty-eight hours. I sat there with nothing more than a bottle of water, my pen, my journal and my thoughts, recording every detail of the magnificent life around me. I long for those hours. I long for the kind of peace that comes from being alone with nature, connecting to the earth on a deep and powerful level.

I listened to the quiet lapping of the lake against the shore, the wolves howling at the moon in the distance, the birds chirping at one another in song. I watched the sunlight pour through each tiny branch above me, catching bits of dust in its illuminating rays. I stared at the fallen leaves crinkling beneath me, dotting the earth's surface like mosaic tiles, a vast array of colors and textures. At night I slept beneath a blanket of stars that flickered in the night sky like a million lightening bugs set free from a child's collection jar. I listened and watched and felt the world around me. It was the most alive I've ever felt.

I'd wake in silence, frozen in the peace of daybreak, and stare up at the tree branches, not quite sure of anything and yet, sure of everything. I didn't know the time or even the day. I didn't know what anyone else was doing at that moment. I didn't know exactly where I was or where I was going. I only knew what I felt in that instant, what I could sense in my heart as truth. I only knew that I was alive, here, happy.

I felt so diminished beneath the grandeur of the towering trees, the immeasurable sky. I was so small and insignificant. The world didn't need me. It didn't need any human, and in realizing this, my soul was set free. It is a blessing that I should have the chance to walk this earth that doesn't need me to survive. It is a blessing that I should be given the opportunity to live here. It is a blessing that I am alive.

I wrote and wrote and wrote for almost the entire forty-eight hours. I busily filled each page of my little polka dotted journal with every idea and thought and question I had about the universe. It was the best kind of writing, the kind that consumes you as your only reason to live. I miss it. I miss feeling so detached from all of the bullshit of the man made world, feeling so attached to the world that once was, the kind of life that existed long before cell phones and cars and computers. I am grateful for our advancements, but I miss the importance placed on self reflection. The world would be a better place if people spent more time thinking.

For as long as I can remember, I've annotated books for school with "man vs. nature" scribbled in the margins. That's always a key point, a good essay topic. There's never been a time in my life though when I've felt that I was "vs. nature," against nature. Nature is where I am, who I am. It's where my soul lies, deep within the woods, plastered against the stars, lingering among the towering trees. The world will always be beautiful. I will be beautiful in it. There is tranquility in embracing the simplicity of the world's innocent glamour. There is peace in seeing the splendid grace of the earth. There is happiness in remembering my time spent there alone in the woods, watching the soft white mist circle the surface of the lake, knowing that I'm alive.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Letters From Camp

Although my brother will probably kill me for this, I simply had to share these letters he wrote home from camp when he was eight years old. I found them in an old box I was sorting through. I've copied them verbatim (spelling errors included for effect), so good luck trying to decipher them. Each one was sent on a separate postcard. They are absolutely wonderful, especially if you know my brother now at age 18, who has become such a strong, independent, talented, focused young man. These are from a time when he was a little more innocent and I'm sure I'll be in trouble for exposing him here.

"Dear mom/dad
I having a great time. um do you think I could get sent a present I would really like it.
Love, Harry"

"Dear mom,
I'm haveing a great time. I have a lot of good friends also a kid in my bonck got kicked out.
Love, Harry"

"Dear mom,
My bonck is funny. Every time someone farts people say door nobe and the person that farted has to toush the door nobe.
Love, Harry"

"Dear dad,
Now everybody has gotten a package. And I know you broute me all that food but I really want a package. I having a lot of fun. Me and Aja broke up but now I have a new girlfriend whos better. I met a lot more friends one is a 12 year old punk rocker.
Love, Harry Z."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Day By Day

I can't believe there's less than a month left of this year. 2005, where did you go? I remember a time when a year seemed like an eternity, those childhood days where I'd have a running countdown to important events, marking the days off on my calendar. It was a time when each day held significance as the beautiful gift it was, as a new adventure filled with discoveries and realizations. The older I get, the less I seem to have that feeling. Days come and go. Events sneak up on me faster than I'd like them to. I worry things will only speed up as I move into the future.

It's not that I'm not grateful for each day because I am. It's more that I have less time to stop and smell the roses. Everything has become so routine that it's difficult to see the new discoveries and realizations made each day. It's difficult to mark each year with a significant change in myself.

I'm ready for this year to be over, ready for a new beginning. It hasn't been a bad year as I don't believe in "bad years," but it hasn't necessarily been a good one. I know that it's ridiculous to mark my thoughts and feelings and attitude by the date, but the prospect of a new year ignites the possibility for change, and I need a change. I'm hoping 2006 will inspire that within me. I can take a stand and say to myself "this will be the year that things get better," and even just by saying it, I know it will be true. It has to be true.

I have to take time to stop and smell the roses, but also need to learn how to blaze through the world like an inescapable fire. I need to move both slower and faster all at once. I need to learn how to live up to my potential because I can't afford to feel as though I've wasted anymore time. I can't afford to feel so unproductive.

When I was younger, marking the days off one by one, I had so many aspirations for myself. I knew who I was and what I wanted out of life. I had an exact image of my future. Things have changed since then. The world is different than I thought it would be, bigger, scarier. I always knew I wanted to be a small town girl until the moment I was in a small town and then realized that could never be my life. I'm not a small town girl. I need more, want more, and I always will. The trouble is, now what I want feels too big, and I feel stuck not knowing how to take it all on, how to even begin. I'm stuck in some limbo between a small life and a grand one, and I can't seem to move further into either direction.

So for the next few weeks I'll mark the days off on my calendar, moving one day at a time into the new year, into the new life I want for myself. I'll move forward into a world that is too big and too small to contain me. I'll move forward on my path that is mine and mine alone, and that will be better. I will be better. I have to be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Last night I was babysitting for my half niece and nephews in law, who are only pseudo related to me, but are kind enough to call me family. They're so sweet in every way a person can be sweet. I had forgotten how much I love to be around children. They have this amazing power to brighten even the worst of moods.

Five year old Gabe, the youngest of the group, had to go outside and look at the moon for a school project. I remember having to do that when I was fourteen, but of course Gabe is much smarter than I was then, and quite possibly smarter than I am now. We stared up at it for a few minutes in silence and I asked him what he thought about it. He looked up at me brightly, his face glowing in the reflection of the night sky, and smiled. "If a person had wings that they could attach to their arms, they would fly up there and see that it's not silver, but yellow," he said. I asked him if that was because it was made of cheese, a fact I was certain of when I was five. He raised his eyebrows and stared at me as though I had two heads. "No," he told me "I saw a special on TV about the moon when they went up in space and saw that it was yellow." I told him he was so smart, to which he responded a prideful "I know, but not as smart as my dad. He's the smartest person in the whole world. He knows everything."

We made our way back into the warmth of the house, Gabe's words resounding in my head. I suddenly realized just how much I missed that feeling of knowing my parents held all of the answers. I suddenly realized just how much I missed such certainty in my life. I suddenly realized part of me would give anything to have it back, and at the same time, part of me wouldn't give up the knowledge I have now for anything in the world.

The older I get, the more I think about the path that lead me to this point. I analyze why I am the way I am, how I became this person, where my soul derives from. My sister in law, god bless her, has made me so aware of family, of studying those patterns in our history. I often think what my life would be like if my parents had been different people, if they had made different choices. I think about what that alternate version of me would be. I think about what I wish they would have done differently, what I will do differently for my children, but the truth is, there are no certainties.

There's no guarantee that this alternate version of myself that I've created would be any better than the current version of me. I long to feel a little more dependent on my parents, on their opinions, so that I didn't feel like I could do whatever I wanted all the time. My freedom often scares me. It leaves me with more options than I know what to do with, but at the same time, I love my independence. I love the prospect of endless possibilities. I love that I can live my life for me, follow my heart, trust my instincts. Between the two extremes, I would choose being independent over being dependent any day, but I wish I knew how to get the balance right for my own children. I wish that I could point to the places in my life and say "this should have been different," but I can't. Finding the answers to the balancing act of creating oneself isn't that specific. There aren't moments that I can look back on and honestly say that I'd do them any other way given the opportunity to begin again. Life is what it is.

I am who I am. Maybe things would be better if I weren't, but maybe they would be much worse. I have no way of knowing for sure. What I do know is that I have things to be proud of. I am a strong, independent, thoughtful, creative, loving person and even if my life is turned upside down tomorrow, that will continue to be true. That is a certainty, the same way children will always brighten the worst of moods and the moon will always illuminate the dark night sky.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Blog World

This blog world can be so odd when you think about it. People I don't even know suddenly step inside my head and listen to me, share with me, comfort me when I need it most. Thank you to those of you who have left me sweet comments and/or sent me phenomenally kind emails. It's amazing to have strangers and friends be so compassionate and understanding. It somehow makes each day a little brighter knowing that someone, somewhere, can relate to you.

How exhilarating it is to come across a treasure like this, to read her beautiful words, to feel inspired each day by her wisdom and eloquence. I read her work over and over as though it were my favorite book; pages tabbed, passages underlined, scribbles in the margin. I let her soft words fill me, enchanting me with their simple exuberance. I am forever grateful to her.

I stole my mother's computer for the day while she's at work and have finally found some time to visit my favorite blogs. Somehow, they fill me with such inspiration and hope for the future. It's empowering to know how other people around the world are feeling each day. It's empowering to read their words and learn not only about their lives, but about the lessons they've learned and are continuing to learn. I love her realizations about life and her thoughts on her journey. I love the way both have provided me with such comfort through their comments and emails. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

And to those others, the ones who leave advice and inspiration. I love that I've become internet friends with Leah and Jess who are always a source of strength for me. I love those that are already my friends in the real world who take the time to read this and comment both on and off the blog (especially Deb who gives me far too much credit as a writer and always makes me smile). You are all so amazing and I am so blessed to know you.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who lift my spirits daily, who provide me with a sense of peace and contentment, who never cease to make each day that much brighter. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. Thank you for allowing me to listen to you. Thank you for sharing the journey.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

At The Heart Of It

I've been feeling so disconnected lately. My mind feels a million miles away from my body. My body feels a million miles away from the world. Sometimes I have to look at myself in the mirror and be reminded that I am here, alive, existing. My sleeping and eating habits have become so varied and out of sync that it's become increasingly difficult to believe the rest of the world is still functioning normally. It's difficult to grasp that everyone else is here, alive, existing. It's difficult to know that the rest of the world isn't feeling the way that I do.

I'm hoping that this is the heart of it. This has to be the heart, the worst point, the peak of my depression. This morning I woke up crying for no particular reason, for every reason. I just feel so trapped. In this house, in this life, in my own skin. I am constantly making lists in my head of things I want to do, things that might make my life worthwhile, but within seconds of their excitement, they begin to lose their grandeur. Nothing seems to hold my interest.

I know. I know what I need to do logically. I know that nothing is as bad as it seems and what I really need is to just snap out of it, but I'm having trouble listening to my head. I've never been one for logic. I've never been one to do the practical thing. To be honest, I'm not even sure what that is at this point. I know it involves some kind of structure to my otherwise lazy lifestyle. All I've wanted to do lately is numb myself with mindless entertainment and food and sleep. I hate feeling numb, and moreover, I hate wanting to feel numb. I'm currently facing a combination of the two.

I'm currently facing the heart of depression. Not the glorified artistic kind of sadness I've always sort of longed for in a way, but real, painful, numbing depression. It isn't deep or poetic. It's horrible and spirit breaking. It's what I failed to recognize in others as anything more than a bad day. I guess in some ways, it has at least given me that, given me a broader understanding of the despair people feel. Perhaps I needed this bit of time to be devastatingly unhappy. Perhaps it will guide me to something new, something I need that hadn't occurred to me when I was content with my life. Perhaps, at the heart of it, this is only a new beginning. I just wish it didn't have to hurt so badly.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Two Beautiful Quotes That Hold All Of The Secrets Of Life

"He had only to open his eyes; but a weight was on them; a fear. He strained; he pushed; he looked; he saw Regent's Park before him. Long streamers of sunlight fawned at his feet. The trees waved, brandished. We welcome, the world seemed to say; we accept; we create. Beauty, the world seemed to say. And as if to prove it (scientifically) wherever he looked at the houses, at the railings, at the antelopes stretching over the palings, beauty sprang instantly. To watch a leaf quivering in the rush of air was an exquisite joy. Up in the sky swallows swooping, swerving, flinging themselves in and out, round and round, yet always with perfect control as if elastics held them; and the flies rising and falling; and the sun spotting now this leaf, now that, in mockery, dazzling it with soft gold in pure good temper; and now and again some chime (it might be a motor horn) tinkling divinely on the grass stalks -- all of this, calm and reasonable as it was, made out of ordinary things as it was, was the truth now; beauty, that was the truth now. Beauty was everywhere."
~From Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
"Yes, Clarissa thinks, it's time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in Canada; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep -- it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more."
~From The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

There's something about that first snowfall of the year. For whatever reason, my brother and I were both up at 3am when the first flakes began to fall. I stayed up all night watching the pinkish grey hue of dawn arrive. I'm not sure whether it was my fatigue or simply the stillness of the morning, but suddenly I found myself at some strange level of peace I haven't felt in years. I felt like a child on Christmas eve, anticipating morning with all of the excitement and hope in the world. I felt happy and calm and in control of my life. It was as though everything in the universe suddenly became simple, manageable, within reach. Everything in the universe suddenly seemed to be waiting right outside my window.

His name was Andy. I met him on a plane ride from Kalamazoo to Chicago. He walked on the plane, looked around, and came over and sat next to me as though it were the first day of school and he was selecting someone to be his new best friend. I was honored and in utter awe of his ability to disregard the rules of assigned seating. He placed his guitar in the overhead compartment and slumped down in the window seat beside me, the gaping holes in his pants widening as he attempted to get comfortable. When the man whose ticket matched the seat approached, Andy simply smiled and said "hey man, is it cool if I snag this seat from ya?" The man looked slightly confused and then shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Immediately I knew I loved Andy.

He talked to me about everything, asking about my life, telling me all about his. I'm normally very shy in these kinds of situations, but there was something about his dirty clothes and grungy bandanna that put me right at ease. He wasn't a fellow student, but a manifestation of the kind of bohemian lifestyle I've always dreamed of living. I could instantly tell that he was a kindred spirit. He told me all about his music, his travels, his various lousy jobs that he worked until he was going to manage to "hit it big." I imagined his guitar was probably the only luggage he had. Possibly the only possession he had. I loved that.

Part of me wanted to just look at him and say "Andy, when we get off this plane, I'm coming with you." But I didn't. I couldn't. He walked me to my terminal and shook my hand and thanked me for my company. We wished each other luck in our lives, said goodbye, and then went our separate ways. That was it. I'll never see Andy again. Still, I think about him every once and a while in strange, idle moments when I let my mind wander and he unexpectedly slips in. It's not so much him, but the idea of him. The idea of those forty some odd moments we spent together. I loved his courage, his willingness to turn to the person next to him, who fortunately was me, and just start talking. I guess that never really occurs to me.

I spend so much time questioning myself, praying that I'm not annoying anyone, keeping quiet out of the fear of being disliked. It's then that I think of Andy, and how simple he made friendship seem, how simple he made friendship. Why has it become so difficult for me to remember that? Making friends as an adult really isn't all that different from making friends as a child. You just turn to the person next to you and say "hey! I'm so and so. What's your name?" Maybe some people will be unwilling to respond, but just like when you were six years old, you have to realize those people aren't worth your time. Those people aren't your kindred spirits. Those people aren't Andy.

Part of me will always miss him. I'll always be grateful for the lesson he taught me, the reminder that taking the time to talk to a stranger can change both of your lives drastically. It's the way the surface of water continues to ripple long after the stone has reached the bottom. The effects of our actions stretch further than we could ever imagine, onward and onward throughout the universe. In the pinkish grey hue of dawn you can hear them echoing. Every smile, every hello, every thank you, hanging in the air like the perfectly formed flakes of the first snowfall of the year. My eyes gleam as I watch them cover the cold, hard earth.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Quoting Myself

Since I've been without a computer and haven't had anywhere to update (which makes me increasingly sad by the way), I thought I'd post some lines from past journals that I came across while sorting through my memory trunk. They're nothing particularly special, just reminders to myself of subjects to write about in the future. Basically, I'm attempting to take up space in the sad absence of posts.

"The chirping crickets announce the arrival of night the way trumpeters announce kings."

"What kind of person would I be if I couldn't see the world through a child's eye? What kind of person would I be if I stopped believing in magic? I know there are no fairies lingering among the branches of the shrubs before me, but that's the first thing that comes to mind when I look at them, and even knowing that they're not there, my heart still longs to believe they are."

"It's amazing how rhythmically we all walk, like novice dancers beginning to learn their steps."

"The wind moving slowly through the unsuspecting trees."

"I suddenly felt sublimely comforted, safe, warm. I felt like a child coming in from a day of sledding; stripping out of my snowpants, mittens, scarf; my hands red and stinging from the cold. It's the hot chocolate waiting for me with tiny marshmallows dotting it's dark surface like lilipads in the moonlight. It's that feeling. That happy, childlike feeling of knowing you're home. That place of warmth in a world of cold."

"It's as if nature sings harmoniously with my heart."

"Sometimes I feel alone and blind, rubbing two sticks together to find a spark while the world blazes around me."

"I wonder whether if I were to sit here long enough, the mosquitoes would literally eat me alive. Do I really mind sharing my blood with them? I smack one and it leaves a black imprint on my palm. I try to rub it off, but the image of it refuses to fade. Lady Macbeth's damn spot."

"Often it seems that metaphors are really just beautiful spouts of nonsense."